But you may not yet have realised that the bombings in Algiers this week were also the fault of the domineering, neo-imperialist West. You silly things.
At time of writing, the death toll stands at 31. There were two bombs:
Targeting symbols of the international community and the Algerian establishment, one bomb tore apart buildings containing the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees and Development Programme. The second attack occurred minutes later when a car packed with explosives was driven into a bus full of law students outside the Algerian Supreme Court.
I’m not completely sure how the butchery of law students is our fault – probably something to do with the villainy of imposing our concepts of legal process on indigenous societies – but bombing the UNHCR is very obviously the justified come-uppance for the West’s brutal support for refugees in north Africa and our repulsive multilateral humanitarian internationalism.
Luckily, Adrian Hamilton of the Indy is on hand to explain that:
in a substantial part of the developing world [the UN] has come to seem an instrument of western oppression and US hegemony – a club of the big boys intent on bullying smaller countries in the interests of Washington and its European allies.
… When al-Qa'ida North Africa… blew up the UNHCR offices in Algiers, it was to show that it… had the power and determination to bring down a symbol of western presence.
So, the UN seems a certain way. And, of course, we move swiftly from perception to justified perception:
the Third World perception of it as an instrument of the West has some basis to it. If you take the Middle East, the succession of resolutions on Palestine, never implemented and almost universally ignored, the relentless pinioning of Saddam Hussein through sanctions and then enforced regime-change, the current pursuit of Iran through sanctions and threat, are all seen expressions not of international concern but western self-interest. And the same is true of much of Africa, where the blue helmet has come to represent western ideas of order rather than local concerns for justice.
Marvellous. There’s only one “Third World perception” of the UN, and the bomb-makers get to say what that is.
A couple of problems with this analysis: the “succession of resolution on Palestine” were indeed passed at the UN; the lack of implementation is a matter for the individual member-states, who decide what resources and will to expend on any given course. The “enforced regime-change” in Iraq was emphatically not enforced by the UN. And the various UN missions in Africa – including this civilian office in Algiers – are there with the consent of the local governments.
True, there is contention over the proposed UN force for Darfur, but that’s due to the noxious Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s recalcitrance. There are lots of refugees there, too. I bet they resent the UNHCR for creating the whole mess.
There’s a US embassy is Algiers; no doubt security there is better, and an attack would have been harder, but it might possibly have been an even better symbol of “western oppression and US hegemony”. On the other hand, if what you want to do is to reap a hefty body count and attack a symbol of international cooperation and peaceful assistance to the dispossessed, then the UNHCR makes excellent sense. As for the law students, well, we all know how annoying they can be. Maybe some of them were even women, with ideas above their station.
Nick Cohen’s words of two years ago remain depressingly true:
When confronted with an ideology which mandates indiscriminate killing on an industrial scale, it is natural to seek rational explanations of the irrational; to pretend that Islamism is merely a reasonable, if bloody, response to legitimate concerns which could be remedied if we elected wiser leaders.
Yet the masochism - 'Kill us, we deserve it!' - the subliminal dislike of democracy and the willingness to turn al-Qaeda into the armed wing of every fashionable campaign from sustainable tourism to the anti-war movement will in the end disgrace the liberals by making them ridiculous.