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Fighting Swiss Imperialism?

May 28th, 2007 · 5 Comments

John Tabin thinks that the case of Swissair Flight 330 “put paid to the naive notion that we can count on terrorists to leave us alone as long we leave them alone.”

This is silly. First, I don’t think anyone has ever literally claimed that non-intervention was some kind of foolproof guarantee that one would never be a victim of any sort of terrorism, so adducing a counterexample as a gotcha for the “naive” interlocutor in your head isn’t exactly a knock-down. Yeah, we’ve all heard the story about the teetotaling vegetarian who exercised every day and then dropped dead of a heart attack at 35. That doesn’t constitute a brief for the health benefits of sloth and debauchery.

But that aside, how great a counterexample is this really? The target of the PFLP bomb was an Israel-bound flight, which is to say, it was a way of attacking Israel that happened to strike a Swiss target That’s no consolation to the people who died on that flight, certainly, but in terms of assessing the motives of terrorists and determining how likely any particular country is to be a victim of future attacks, it is relevant. It’s not, for instance, that Switzerland was made a primary target just by dint of being free and secular. No Swiss pundit could seriously claim the attack as evidence that the fanatics are determined to kill the Swiss no matter what, as we see American pundits arguing that intervention is beside the point because the jihadists want to destroy America no matter what.

Tags: War


       

 

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 thoreau // May 28, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    In all fairness, Tabin also cites the hijacking of SwissAir Flight 100 several months later, which was part of a campaign of multiple hijackins done on a single day. (Not so different from 9/11, really.)

    But even then, the Swiss hostages were ultimately exchanged for prisoners held in a Swiss prison. These prisoners were from the same group that hit SwissAir Flight 330. So there’s a lot more context to this than just “Terrorists hit Switzerland because they hate freedom, skiing, and chocolate.”

  • 2 Jon H // May 29, 2007 at 1:28 am

    Also I’m not sure exactly how useful a nearly 40 year old terrorist act is when looking at likely behavior of today’s terrorists.

    I could be wrong, but weren’t the terrorists back then rather more politically influenced than the more nihilistic Al Qaeda terrorism we see today? It just seems qualitatively different somehow.

    Note that he’s not drawing any conclusions from the Baader-Meinhof gang.

  • 3 David T // May 29, 2007 at 2:15 am

    “I could be wrong, but weren’t the terrorists back then rather more politically influenced than the more nihilistic Al Qaeda terrorism we see today? It just seems qualitatively different somehow.”

    One difference is that the PFLP was not an Islamist group at all but a secular Marxist-Leninist one. Its leader, George Habash, was IIRC from a Christian family.

  • 4 Dave W. // May 29, 2007 at 8:39 am

    “Terrorists hit Switzerland because they hate freedom, skiing, and chocolate.”

    Switzerland doesn’t hate skiing and chocolate. Just freedom.

  • 5 Jon H // May 31, 2007 at 8:02 am

    The PFLP clearly hit Switzerland in 1970 as a preemptive strike against Switzerland of 2007′s nativist movement against allowing mosques to build minarets.