By Mark Steyn, October 17, 2002
An appeaser, said Churchill, feeds the crocodile in the hope that it will eat him last.
But sometimes the croc eats him first anyway. For months, the U.S.,
Britain and even Canada apparently had warned the Indonesian government
about terrorists operating within its borders. So had Singapore and Malaysia.
President Megawati’s administration responded by calling Washington
anti-Muslim. The American Ambassador was publicly denounced by her
Vice-President. The Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirayuda, said in February that
the outside world’s fears of Islamic terrorism in Indonesia were overblown and
that in Jakarta “we laugh at it.”
Ha-ha. From government contacts to police indifference, the
administration’s strategy was to deny the crocodile existed and then quietly slip
him the a la carte menu.
Now, Indonesian stocks are down, the rupiah’s in the toilet, the national
carrier’s flying empty, and the official tourism Web sites have switched to
continuously updated info on dead tourists, safe in the knowledge that they’re
unlikely to be getting any new bookings from live ones. “We’re finished,” says
the chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce.
The members of the Maroubra Lions Rugby League Club, who visited Bali at this
time every year, won’t be back. On Saturday night after dinner, the blokes
agreed to babysit while the wives went out dancing. They didn’t return.
On Monday, Craig Salvatori put his two young daughters back on the plane to
Sydney and told reporters he had to stay to “look for mummy.” He found her in
the morgue a couple of hours later, so badly burned she was identifiable only
by her jewelry.
But not to worry, Mr. Wirayuda: If the western partygoers are fleeing, the
high-rolling Islamofascists are here to stay.
On Monday, for the first time, Mrs. Megawati’s government conceded
that al-Qaeda are operating inside the country.
When Osama’s boys hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the “root
cause” crowd, after some pro forma regret about the loss of life, could barely
conceal their admiration for the exquisite symbolism of the targets, the glittering
monuments to American militarism and capitalism.
The New Statesman dismissed the victims as Wall Street types who
made the mistake of voting for Bush rather than Ralph Nader.
If you had to pick anywhere on the planet where Bush voters are thin on the
ground, Bali’s hard to beat.
Lots of Aussie beach bums, Scandinavian backpackers, German stoners,
braying English public-school types taking a year off to find themselves, but not
many registered Republicans.
This mass murder was clearly going to be harder to excuse, but the
root-causers gamely rose to the occasion. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Margo
Kingston fretted over “whether we’ve respected and nurtured the place we love
to visit or colonized it with our wants … Maybe part of it is the lack of services
for locals. A completely inadequate hospital, for instance, so graphically
exposed in the aftermath of the horror. Some people — foreigners like us, elite
big-city Indonesians — make their fortunes. Have residents lost their place, their
power to define it? Did the big money fail to give enough back to the people
who belong there, whose home it is?”, etc., etc.
Well, if the insensitivity of Western tourism is the root cause, Margo can relax:
It’s not gonna be a problem any more. Whether or not, as Margo would say,
poverty breeds terrorism, in Indonesia last weekend’s terrorism will certainly
While we’re singing the old favourites, here’s Bruce Haigh with a timeless
classic. Mr. Haigh was an Australian diplomat in Indonesia, Pakistan and Saudi
Arabia and he’s in no doubt as to why hundreds of his compatriots were blown
up in Bali. As he told Australia’s Nine Network, “The root cause of this issue
has been America’s backing of Israel on Palestine.”
You don’t say. It may well be true that, for certain Muslims “frustrated” by
Washington’s support for Israeli “intransigence,” blowing up Australians in Bali
makes perfect sense.
But, if even this most elastic of root causes can be stretched half way
around the globe to a place conspicuously lacking either Jews or Americans,
then clearly it can apply to anyone or anything: Why, the FLQ would still be in
business if only they’d thought to murder Pierre Laporte because of frustration
at Washington’s indulgence of the Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people.
As has been noted here on previous occasions, the more you insist the Islamist
psychosis is a rational phenomenon to be accommodated the more you risk
sounding just as nutty as the terrorists.
On which subject, Robert Fisk of The Independent in London thinks the Aussies
were targeted for a more specific reason — blowback for being too cosy with
the Great Satan: “The French have already paid a price for their initial support
for Mr. Bush. The killing of 11 French submarine technicians in Karachi has
been followed by the suicide attack on the French oil tanker Limburg off the
coast of Yemen. Now, it seems, it is the turn of Australia …”
And don’t worry, there are plenty of others who’ll be getting theirs any day
now. Just in case al-Qaeda had missed one or two, Fisk helpfully provides a
useful list of legitimate targets: “Belgium, which hosts NATO HQ; Canada,
whose special forces have also been operating in Afghanistan; Ireland, which
allows U.S. military aircraft to refuel at Shannon …”
Blessings be upon you, Mister Robert, we had entirely forgot to add “Kill the
Irish” to our “To Do” list, praise be to Allah.
I wonder if it was a cautious editor who added “initial” to that French “support
for Mr. Bush.” The French were supportive for about 10 minutes after
September 11th, but for most of the last year have been famously and publicly
non-supportive: Throughout the spring, their Foreign Minister M. Vedrine was
deploring American “simplisme” on a daily basis.
The French veto is still Saddam’s best shot at torpedoing any meaningful
UN action on Iraq. If you were to pick only one Western nation not to blow up
the oil tankers of, the French would be it.
But they got blown up anyway. And afterwards a spokesman for the Islamic
Army of Aden said: “We would have preferred to hit a U.S. frigate but no
problem because they are all infidels.”
No problem. They are all infidels.
When people make certain statements and their acts conform to those
statements I tend to take them at their word. The first choice of Islamists is to
kill Americans and Jews, or best of all an American Jew — like Daniel Pearl, the
late Wall Street Journal reporter.
Failing that, they’re happy to kill Australians, Britons, Canadians,
Swedes, Germans, as they did in Bali. We are all infidels.
Messrs. Haigh and Fisk persist in believing that they kill infidels in pursuit of a
negotiable goal, when the evidence suggests that killing infidels is the goal.
As a way of making a point about Zionist occupation of the West Bank, blowing
up Bali is a little convoluted, to say the least. If it’s intended to warn America’s
allies off supporting Bush, it seems perverse and self-defeating to kill and maim
large numbers of citizens from countries who haven’t supported him.
So, instead of trying to fit square pegs into Islamic crescents, why not take the
event at face value? An infidel-friendly enclave in the world’s largest Muslim
country has been transformed into a mound of dead Australians and
Scandinavians and the non-Islamic Indonesians of Bali: No problem, they’re all
In many ways, the sanest Muslims in the world today are those of South Asia.
In the Middle East, they’re mired in their own mostly self-inflicted psychosis. In
Europe, they’ve stood traditional immigration patterns on their head: Instead of
becoming more European, they’re becoming more Islamist.
So the challenge now is for the Wahhabists to co-opt the Asian Muslims
as they have the Arab and European. If Islamofascists were to gain control of
Indonesia, it wouldn’t be a parochial self-absorbed dictatorship like Suharto’s
but a launch pad for an Islamic superstate in the region.
Perhaps it would also improve health care in Bali, ending the “lack of services
for locals” that Margo Kingston worries over. But I doubt it. Exposing the
parlous state of Balinese morgue facilities by dramatically increasing their
clientele isn’t necessarily a sign of concern for public services.
I began with a Churchill quote so let me end with one: “Men occasionally
stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if
That’s what happened after September 11th: The brief glimpse of the
reality of the Islamist scheme was too much, and so Margo and Co. dusted
themselves off and retreated back to all the illusions. Now she’s stumbled
Oh, well. We’ll see ‘em all again on the next trip — which is more than
the Indonesian Tourist Board can say.