We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

I am almost surprised that we were treated so moderately by our captors – apart, that is, from the tragic, largely unexplained, decision to kill Tom Fox, the American Quaker.

- Norman Kember, writing in the Guardian.

10 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Pat

    Stockholm syndrome, or self justification, or pre-existing prejudice? I guess all three.

  • Spectre765

    Tom Fox was murdered, not killed.

    Cowardice does indeed take many forms.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln….”

  • Pedant

    Maybe Norman Kember may have had a point or two to make, but maybe he might not have been interested in making them in that article.

    So, I shall suppose:
    The Iraqis had become accustomed to living under the psychotic Saddams and their despotic regime. Despite the killing of thousands of Kurds in Iraq in the 1980s (ruled belatedly in 2005 by a court in the Hague as being an act of genocide):

    Why we fight(Link)

    - life went on and presumably seemed to make some kind of sense and offered some kind of fragile stability and security. What did the typical Iraqis know or even care about the genocide of the Kurdish tribes? They had to survive.

    That survival and stability would have been threatened – potentially and in reality – by the US/British invading and bringing war and death by the overturning of the Saddam regime, and by the imposition of a system of democratic freedom and relatively improved liberty. Meanwhile, many Iraqis just could not understand it and their perception is that the infidels are still killing innocent civilians.

    Regardless of the motivation, what “right” had the US/British to do this? Things like democratic freedom and liberty probably were and still are largely unwanted in this generally secular Islamic state. Those things simply do not compute in the context of the prevailing, still primitive tribalism and stone-age politico-religious ideology of Islamic Iraq. That context certainly cannot be changed overnight.

    Despite the invasion, despite Iraq’s many plus points – including its people, its physical beauty and richness of natural resources – most of Iraq is still in an essentially barbaric state, part of the third world and uncivilized in Western eyes, held back by its despotic leadership – the Saddams before and now the Muslim clerics alike.

    History shows (e.g., as in many African states) that you cannot just drag barbarians into civilization. They will tend to revert to type – “regression towards the mean”. It takes years of education and acculturation of successive generations to overcome the dark ages of the past. Look at the baptism by fire that Europe had to go through to find some enlightenment and get to where it is and to enable things like the Magna Carta to be created and to set the way for the greatest free country on the planet – the US – to form itself.

    Trying to do that to Iraq – as though it is some kind of SIMS game – is just hubris.

  • veryretired

    Pssst, Pedant, don’t tell the Germans, the Austrians, the Japanese, the Jordanians, the South Koreans, the Phillipines, the Poles, the Czechs, the Slavs….

  • Valerie

    Seems that Kember has lost his wits-Does he not understand that Fox was a prize because he was American?

  • Sean O'Callaghan

    American – and named FOX! Could have been a bit of both – no?

  • Matt

    Reminds me of this comment by the editor of the Melbourne Age

  • Paul Marks

    I did not support the judgement to go into Iraq – but certain points must be made.

    The Iraqi people could have asked the Americans to go at any time – via the representatives the Iraqi people elected. So there is no “occupation”.

    Now were there any “revenge attacks” on Iraqi cities.

    I short Mr Norman Kember is not a noble pacifist, a “reasoned opponent” of the Iraq war. Mr Norman Kember is a lying pig who defends the very people who murdered his friend Tom Fox.

  • Pedant

    If Norman Kember is indeed a “lying pig”, as Paul Marks suggests, then perhaps it was Kember’s ability to dissemble that ensured his survival. We may never know.

    We can only suppose what life must have been like for Kember and Fox. Maybe the experience was enough to break a man, just as the experience of war can sometimes break a man. It certainly changes them.

    As for the “unexplained” decision to kill Tom Fox (the American Quaker), well, to a Muslim he presumably would have represented (from memory) the Great Devil (USA) and he was a particularly nasty type of infidel – a believer in God who would have respected the beliefs of other blasphemous and Christian creeds.

    Furthermore, being a Quaker, he might not have yielded or dissembled as someone with weaker or no religious beliefs might have done. His Muslim captors might thus have thought it was a no-brainer as to whether it was their duty to despatch him.