Ideological Arsonists, or War starts in our Minds

By Maria Mies, Cologne, Germany

That was the title of an article I wrote one year ago, as feelings in Europe ran high following the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. In the article I described van Gogh as an arsonist, because he knew what he was doing when he claimed that he had to free Muslim women with his film. Less that two weeks ago CNN had a series of shows on the „European Identity Crisis.“ In the series the story of van Gogh and his conscious provocation, projecting a Koranic verse on the body of a lightly veiled nude woman, was once again fully described, including the subsequent burning of mosques and churches. The filmmaker was celebrated as a great hero of European values.

Today it is the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed first published in a Danish newspaper, his turban drawn as a bomb, which are causing outrage in the entire Muslim world, an escalation of violence and the demand for a public apology from the Danish government. It has refused to do so on the grounds of “freedom of the press.” Meanwhile, the Danish drawings portraying the prophet as a terrorist have been reprinted in many liberal and left European publications, with the same justification that I read and heard a year ago in relation to the filmmaker van Gogh: insulting and demeaning a foreign culture is covered by the right of free speech. And those who don’t like it don’t belong in our ”enlightened” Europe.

I ask myself, where are we really living? Why don’t either the politicians or the media realize the timing and context of these targeted provocations against an entire cultural community? Don’t they see any connection between these Danish caricatures and the conflict around the Iranian nuclear program, that is already threatening to lead into a real war, and in fact a nuclear war that will be glossed over as the “Culture War”?

A war against Iran is, as reported among others by Canadian professor Michel Chossudovsky in January 2006, has already been long in the making. [i]  But before  an attack is launched, the war must be instigated in the popular mind . And for that an arsonist is needed, an enlightened citizen who defends his right to insult other cultural communities.

Part of this political arson includes the statements of French President Chirac, who ‘suddenly’ talks about having to use nuclear weapons against terrorists. Or that the former German defense minister Mr. Scholz writes that Germany must become an atomic power.

Everyone knows that the US government has called Iran a ‚rogue state,’ providing a home to terrorists. Anyone wanting to know the reason for this political arson could get a feeling for it last night on the Sabine Christiansen (TV political commentary) show. There the Jewish author and critic Ralph Giordano and the representative of the CDU (conservative Christian Democratic party) spoke openly for  “military intervention” against Iran, among other reasons to satisfy the “desires for modernization” of Iranian youth.

This reminds me terribly of the „humanitarian war“ that the Americans have led in Afghanistan and Iraq, to free the women there. At that point the Europeans were still against the war in Iraq. The Danish caricatures have in the meantime spread like wildfire, unifying not only people in Muslim countries, but also bringing Europe over to the side of the war powers. In the Iraq war the “Third World” still looked hopefully at Europeans as the better ones, the more peaceful powers, objects of much hope. That is all over with now.

This fits the concept of the pro-war forces in the USA perfectly. Now at last they have the Europeans on board for their planned nuclear strike against Iran. Now Mr. Bush can lean back and generously remember that people should really not insult other religious communities.

If we do not want to bear responsibility for these war preparations, then we have to condemn what we are experiencing today as ideological arson, and condemn it for what it is: defamation of a people and their culture and religion, a criminal defamation of a people. Defamation that has preceeded every war. But now it’s about atomic war.

Maria Mies, Cologne, Germany
February 2006

Translation: Anna Gyorgy/WLOE

See also:
On International Women’s Day: It’s not enough for women to say: “That’s enough!”
Statement by WLOE members and friends, Bonn, Germany February 2006, concerning the “Women say NO to War” international petition drive.

[i]  Nuclear War against Iran
by Michel Chossudovsky, January 3, 2006 See also: Iran: Next Target of US Military Aggression Michel Chossudovsky, Editor Global Research E-Monograph and Reports Series, No. 3, February 2005 Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.