Being a useful idiot


Studying at LSE and wider reading has opened my eyes to new ideas. I’ve concluded that I was a useful idiot….

Obviously not for the Soviets. The term originally described the Left in the west whose campaigns (even though not intended) aided the USSR during the Cold War. I was a useful idiot for Islamist Fascists.I was blinded by my anti-US/Western dogma making me ignore, excuse and sometimes justify the actions of fundamentalists. Of course I didn't support what they did. I valued human rights, plurality, democracy and secularism. Yet I failed to criticise the people that were opposing these principles.

I spent more time ranting about the evils of the 'American empire' and less about the real threat to my liberty. Rather than confront this threat, those arguing to counter Islamists could too easily be labelled imperialists or Islamaphobic. Not only was I blinkered but I felt my arguments were intellectually and morally superior. 

It was no good pretending to be on the moral high ground when opposing the use of drones against terrorist targets. I did not appreciate the realities of modern warfare and my 'anti-war' (more like anti-western-war) stance made me an appeaser of terrorists. I thought that western intervention, like drone warfare, was the cause of Islamic fundamentalism. Of course there are many causes, and US involvement  in the Middle East might influence it, yet at the time I would not acknowledge that religion was a problem. Therefore, I concluded that the west should stay out of 'Muslim countries'. 

However, if we bowed to the demands of the extremists the west would have failed to stop the ethnic cleansing of the East Timorese or remove Saddam Hussein's Republican Guards from Kuwait. Not only would this be immoral but it also wouldn't have stopped the spread of Islamist extremism. If the NATO coalition didn't invade Afghanistan, the terrorists would have solidified a base to operate out of. They would have been empowered to spread their regressive politics. I opposed their values yet I failed to support the efforts by others to counter the threat they posed.

I was naive about the causes and nature of radical political Islam. If what I believed had actually been implemented at the time, the world would probably be in a worse situation now. Despite my progressive politics, my ignorant critique of US foreign policy helped to support those with some of the most detestable and regressive politics in the world today.

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