Terrorism Is a Moral Choice, Not an Expression of “Spiritual Misery”

Dec. 14 2015

Reflecting on recent terrorist attacks around the world, Cynthia Ozick recalls hearing a prominent novelist a decade ago arguing the need to understand the “humanity” of terrorists. To Ozick, this sort of reasoning—perhaps particularly tempting for writers of fiction—leads only to moral muddle:

[N]otions of . . . impoverishment, grievance, impotence at the hands of powerful faraway forces, humiliation, spiritual misery (a fresh coinage particularly worthy of the novelist’s art) . . . have become unassailably commonplace to the point of vacuous triteness. And more: terror can now be counted among matters urgently spiritual.

What comes of these divinings is, finally, a confusion of categories. The Paris atrocities, the Jerusalem stabbings, the San Bernardino shootings are not chapters in a novel to be intensively parsed. A novel is a cultural artifact. A human mind, whatever culture it is born into, is privately, even instinctively, free to enact individual will. Everyone . . . can choose whether to murder or not to murder. . . .

At bottom, an open-hearted willingness to understand everyone is an appalling distraction from the intrinsic depravity of the act of premeditated murder. The evil deed speaks for itself; to search out the evildoer’s “backstory,” to look for some exculpating raison d’être, is no more useful or edifying or moral than an attraction to pornography.

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More about: Cynthia Ozick, Literature, Morality, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela