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Are we seeing a reflection of ourselves in the violence in the Middle East? — an interview with Simon Critchely


One thing that really perplexes me is the way in which the West, especially the U.S. and U.K. governments, pretend to be shocked by the violence that’s being mimicked by the Islamic State. During the time of Al Qaeda, Bin Laden would be crouching in a cave on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border and speaking to a camera with maybe an AK-47 against the wall in the background. This was all very reassuring because the face of evil was far away.

What’s changed now is that IS are reflecting our own media strategy back at us. What we’re seeing in their videos is a mirror image of our own violence, with a sort of CNN feel, right down to the orange jumpsuits. They often use video game techniques, with a hip-hop feel and lots of emotion.

What our governments want us to think is that IS is some monstrous other, some oriental barbaric enemy that can be demonized as pure evil and destroyed. But if there is any evil here, it’s ours and not theirs. The violence that we see played out in these videos is a reflection of our own violence that’s come back to haunt us.

We content ourselves by saying it’s barbarism, but how did these monsters appear? We are those monsters, we did this. There would be no Islamic State if the U.S and it’s allies had not invaded Iraq in 2003.

Iraq is just one instance of the way western foreign policies have repeatedly destabilized numerous regimes over hundreds of years, particularly since the Second World War. So the first thing we need is a history lesson . . . we need to face up to and own up to who we are and what we’ve been doing for a very long time. What these videos reveal is our hypocrisy. They are a savage indictment of the western military industrial capitalist machine which has been driving things over the last century.

— an interview with Simon Critchely

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