April 25th, 2006

Tony Blair: the defining moment that was 9/11

Maybe this isn’t exactly and precisely an example of a changed mind. But it’s an excellent description of that moment of insight and clarity that comes with a watershed event whose significance can’t be denied (for some, at least).

Tony Blair describes (via Austin Bay) what happened to him on 9/11, and it’s remarkably similar to what happened to me, and to so many of us:

…9/11 for me was, ‘Right, now I get it. I absolutely get it.’ This has been building for a long time. It is like looking at a picture and knowing it was important to understand it, but not quite being able to make out all its contours. And suddenly a light was switched on and you saw the whole picture. It was a defining moment.

He continues, about Britain:

We stood shoulder to shoulder with America because my belief then, and my belief now, is that America was attacked not because it was America – but because it was the repository of the values of the Western world, and it was the main power embodying them. It was an attack on all of us. And I don’t mean that in a sentimental way.

66 Responses to “Tony Blair: the defining moment that was 9/11”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    I don’t think the military would run without staff pukes and REMFers, it just how it is. Someone doesn’t like calling beans beans, well that is their problem.

    Most military sci fi isn’t about aliens. That’d be booring. Humans committ far more violence on each other, than aliens could ever hope to come up with. Firefly.

    The only people who assume Spank is a gutless coward that wants to appease terroists, is Spank. Therapy, or PTSD. The military has a lot more of that lately.

    I don’t work for defense, so it’s not like I give a damn what bureacrats and military staffers think. I got no General I need to brown nose. No office politics, to concern me. I’m free of the all contrived need to agree with the Admin or disagree, agree with the general or disagree.

    I’d like to see a military staff puke say “Suck it” to his superiors. It’d be fun to watch on Youtube.

    You’d think Spank would have learned not to be hostile to everyone that disagrees with him, but no. That’s something they forgot to teach him I suppose. That something called “military discipline”.

  2. grackle Says:

    A crowd gathers around some thugs beating someone up. The crowd isn’t beating anyone up but they don’t try to stop it and they don’t call the cops. Instead they cheer and dance at every blow, every groan. The thugs, although few in number, gather ferocity and strength from the crowd’s approval, the crowd’s laughter and clapping at the moans, and punch harder.

    Finally the cops come in and try to break it up. The crowd grows very angry and some join the thugs who then start fighting the cops. The cops have caused thuggery by fighting thuggery because the crowd would never have gotten angry, causing some to become thugs, if the cops had just not invaded their neighborhood and tried to bust up the fun. Gee, fighting thuggery causes thuggery.

    And this is really a key problem: the difference between someone who wants to blow us up and someone who sympathizes with blowing us up is that the former is trying to kill us and the latter is not.

    But that wasn’t my point, Spanky. Remember? My point was: I’m all for the aid, the humanitarian stuff that eases the suffering because all human beings are deserving of compassion. I just don’t think we ought to be kidding ourselves that it’s going to change how the Moslem World perceives the West. The Imams control all aspects of life, dictating the total social panoply, behavior, beliefs, customs, etc. No Radio Free Europe style of PR campaign is going to overcome that.

    Using your syntax: The relationship between someone who blows us up and someone who sympathizes with blowing us up is that the latter’s acquiescence helps the former to blow us up.

    I’ll settle for a world full of people who don’t particularly like me but don’t want to murder me any day.

    I would too but the problem is that there is a certain large bunch of people who all seem to be of the same religion, that both don’t like us and also do want us murdered. It could eventually prove to be a catastrophically fatal combination of sentiment, especially for them. And we are unlikely to change their minds.

    But I’ll tell you what. You are very intense about this PR stuff; I can tell you believe in it passionately. So I’ll concede another point. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have some concerted PR effort to present the Western viewpoint. It’s just money and we have plenty of that. Are you sure we don’t already have something going? I really think it would be wasted effort but what the hell, for sure it wouldn’t make them hate us anymore than they do already – that probably wouldn’t be possible.

    You know who thinks otherwise? Fools.

    Spanky, all men are fools.

    Well, I’m off to the dungeon. I have a few irons in the fire, if you know what I mean. Now, where did I put those thumbscrews …

  3. Spanky Says:

    I don’t really have a lot of time to get into all of this, so I’ll just say one thing.

    “I would say instead that not liking us and loving it when we are blown up is for all intent and purpose the same as supporting those who blow us up.”

    And this is really a key problem: the difference between someone who wants to blow us up and someone who sympathizes with blowing us up is that the former is trying to kill us and the latter is not. I’ll settle for a world full of people who don’t particularly like me but don’t want to murder me any day. Unfortunately, we don’t have that. We have a world full of people who don’t like us, and a few who are trying to blow us up. If we decide to treat everyone as if they’re the same, as if every single one of them is an enemy trying to hurt us, then they will become just that. Now, they’re not doing anything to hurt us. Treat them as if they are, and suddenly they will become exactly what we thought they were in the first place. Real counterterrorism policy must seek not just to destroy everyone who looks at us askance, but to use our finite resources to mitigate the problem in the best possible way. If that means tolerating a lot of people who hate me, but who don’t hate me enough to kill me, then that’s that. You know who thinks otherwise? Fools. Grackle, if you were in charge of our counterterrorism policy, we’d all be dead by now.

  4. grackle Says:

    Look at this, Grackle. Look at how sad this is. Because some Pakistanis are hardcore al Qaeda supporters, the 166 million people of Pakistan are irredeemable terrorists?

    The real question is how many of the 166 million think jihad, using terrorism, is a good thing. I suspect, given the abysmal ignorance present and the hatred constantly stirred up in the Moslem Belt by religious leaders, that the majority are all in favor of al Qaeda & al Qaeda’s terror-tactics. It’s regrettable and it’s due to ignorance but it does seem to be there, this approval, this desire to see the Great Satan laid low.

    This is the thing, Grackle. I think you just don’t know that much about this part of the world. That’s ok; I doubt most Americans do, and I think a lot of the ones who do “know” something know snippets, cliches, truisms, and the like they get from blogs like this.

    Yeah, but you are the real expert, eh Spanky. We should listen to you and heed your wise words, Spanky, because we pro-warriors are not experts and you are. Thanks, I’ll keep it in mind.

    Terrorism is a tactic. It is not religiously motivated. How do I know this? Because in the long, sad history of terrorism, the majority of terrorism has been commited by non-religious groups. Even the majority of suicide terrorism is commited by secular groups.

    Suicide terrorists constantly cite religion in their pathetic pre-suicide/murder videos that al Jazeera is so fond of airing but that’s of no significance, just a mere anomaly, an odd fact of no importance, because terrorism is a tactic and tactics can’t possibly be motivated by religion, terrorism is a tactic and tactics can’t possibly be motivated by religion, terrorism is a tactic and tactics can’t possibly be motivated by religion, terrorism ….

    al Qaeda certainly has religious goals, goals that are inseparable from its political goals. But the use of terrorism is a tactical and strategic choice, not a religious choice. The choice to use violence might be a religious choice, but the use of terrorism is not. Counterterrorism, real counterterrorism, must understand this, because so much of counterterrorism is trying to change the group’s strategic logic. You have to change their cost/benefit analysis of certain activities. In order to do this, you have to understand why a group chooses suicide attacks over IEDs over hostage-taking over assassinations.

    Let’s see … al Qaeda does have religious goals, but these goals have no relationship to the murder committed, although they are “inseparable.” “The choice to use violence might be a religious choice, but the use of terrorism is not.” Help me, Spanky. I’m having that difficulty again, you know, the problem I have with reading comprehension and due to me not being an expert. My basic problem is trying to figure out how “the choice to use violence might be a religious choice” differs in any essential way from “the choice to use” terrorism. Isn’t terrorism violent? Have you come across any acts of terrorism that were non-violent? Help me out here, Spanky, after all, you’re the expert.

    Grackle, you perceive US aid to the Muslim world as appeasement because you assume they’re all trying to hurt us, and we’re trying to buy them off like cowards.

    Naw, Spanky. You have it wrong. I don’t think aid is appeasement. For instance, I think humanitarian aid to tsunami countries and earthquake victims is good and wouldn’t want to stop it just because the recipients, after a temporary euphoria, will go back to cheering when terrorism against the West occurs. That would be mean and too stereotypically Anti-freedom Warriors for Evil. No, the problem may be more that the Muslim world perceives US generosity as weakness.

    I was all in favor of helping out the starving victims of an earthquake. Not because it would make them like America but because they were in need and the humanitarian aid could be spared. But won’t that generosity likely be forgotten by the recipients the next time a chance to honor and revere al Qaeda comes along, as many other generosities over the years have been forgotten? But unlike most Anti-freedom Warriors for Evil, if there’s another earthquake, I’m all in favor of helping again, even though the recipients will probably go back to hating our guts shortly afterward.

    Among religious Muslims there are a few who believe in political Islam.

    Is that why most countries with Moslem majorities are Islamic states, where family, law, politics, speech, even thought, is controlled and dictated by religion, because there are only “a few who believe in political Islam”? Wow, it sure is nice to have an expert around to interpret the issues.

    That in some places Muslims love America – Bosnia, Kosovo, Djibouti (of all places) – while in others they really don’t like us, but that not liking us is not the same as trying actively to blow us up?

    I would never say that “not liking us is … the same as trying actively to blow us up.” Not me. I would say instead that not liking us and loving it when we are blown up is for all intent and purpose the same as supporting those who blow us up.

    Also: “every anti-warrior’s How-To-Debunk-Pro-warriors Handbook”

    Weren’t we just talking about how “anti-warrior” refers to opposing the war in Iraq? Doesn’t this little phrase, in the context of a discussion about Islam and al Qaeda, tend to imply a little more than just opposition to Iraq?

    Anti-warrior = a person who is against the war under discussion(in this case the Iraq war).

    Quote from earlier in the discussion:

    So, in order to prevent attacks in the US we should stay in Iraq(which seems to be a major part of the “Muslim world”)?

    Sounds like the classic win/win situation, Spank! Bin Laden wins because he “wanted us there[in Iraq].” Bush wins because bin Laden won’t “attack us again in order to get us back[into Iraq].”

  5. SB Says:

    Ymarsakar,

    The folks at State are like me!

    Wanna make something of it???? ;-)

  6. Spanky Says:

    I think this sums it up nicely:

    “Is that why the Pakistani folks we blew up were throwing a banquet in honor of al Qaeda, because the US was popular with them?”

    Look at this, Grackle. Look at how sad this is. Because some Pakistanis are hardcore al Qaeda supporters, the 166 million people of Pakistan are irredeemable terrorists?

    This is the thing, Grackle. I think you just don’t know that much about this part of the world. That’s ok; I doubt most Americans do, and I think a lot of the ones who do “know” something know snippets, cliches, truisms, and the like they get from blogs like this.

    Terrorism is a tactic. It is not religiously motivated. How do I know this? Because in the long, sad history of terrorism, the majority of terrorism has been commited by non-religious groups. Even the majority of suicide terrorism is commited by secular groups.

    al Qaeda certainly has religious goals, goals that are inseparable from its political goals. There are some purely religious groups; I think of Aum Shin Rikyo as one of the best examples of this. But the use of terrorism is a tactical and strategic choice, not a religious choice. The choice to use violence might be a religious choice, but the use of terrorism is not. Counterterrorism, real counterterrorism, must understand this, because so much of counterterrorism is trying to change the group’s strategic logic. You have to change their cost/benefit analysis of certain activities. In order to do this, you have to understand why a group chooses suicide attacks over IEDs over hostage taking over assassinations.

    “Let’s give them money, train them, help them in various ways so they won’t be inclined to blow themselves up around us. We can publicize these deeds and they will like us.”

    And this is where the big boys depart ways from the children. Grackle, you perceive US aid to the Muslim world as appeasement because you assume they’re all trying to hurt us, and we’re trying to buy them off like cowards. The difference between appeasing actively hostile enemies and passively hostile civilians is this: if what you really care about is decreasing support for terrorism, and decreasing the recruiting ability of these groups, and you can do that by spending a few million dollars to help the starving victims of an earthquake, it’s a pretty simple decision to make.

    What you need to learn are distinctions: there are Muslims, secular and religious. Among religious Muslims there are a few who believe in political Islam. Among them are a few who believe in radical political Islam. Among them are some who believe in violent, revolutionary political Islam. We’re talking about over a billion people who speak hundreds of languages, have thousands of different cultures, who follow thousands of flavors of Islam? That in some places Muslims love America – Bosnia, Kosovo, Djibouti (of all places) – while in others they really don’t like us, but that not liking us is not the same as trying actively to blow us up?

    I know a terrorism expert at the NSA. When someone asked her about the cartoon riots, she answered by asking: “Do you really think any demonstration occurs in Damascus unless Assad wanted it to happen?”

    Also: “every anti-warrior’s How-To-Debunk-Pro-warriors Handbook”

    Weren’t we just talking about how “anti-warrior” refers to opposing the war in Iraq? Doesn’t this little phrase, in the context of a discussion about Islam and al Qaeda, tend to imply a little more than just opposition to Iraq?

    “a military staff puke”

    Sounds like Yammer’s an anti-warrior! I love that Yammer, who is of military age and seems to believe so fervently in his sci-fi faux Soldier’s Ethic, would be so ready to take a shit on a soldier who disagreed with him. Because you know so much about this stuff, right? You read it in a book! A book about fuzzy aliens who get it.

    Yammer, the wonderful thing is this: people like you assume I’m a gutless coward and want to appease terrorists and blah blah blah. You also assume that people like you, you brave level 9 warrior hero, are the ones running the security apparatuses.

    What I can guarantee to you is that the people who really are doing something about this actually don’t think that Islam is the problem, or that it causes terrorism, or that the solution to every problem is to drop lots of bombs to how our strength.

    This isn’t because they’re cowardly appeasers who don’t get it, but rather experts who have spent their lives acquiring knowledge about terrorism, security, the Middle East, and so on. And the conclusions that they come to have a lot less to do with the garbage I hear Righties spouting all the time.

    There’s so much glee, so much relief when you say “thank goodness people who get it are running things, because how could people who possibly believe the things Spanky believes be anywhere near a security apparatus?

    Guess what, Yammer: suck it!

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    If Spank works for DoD or is a military staff puke, I wonder what the folks at State are like.

  8. grackle Says:

    US popularity shot up in Pakistan after our earthquake relief efforts.

    Is that why the Pakistani folks we blew up were throwing a banquet in honor of al Qaeda, because the US was popular with them? Aren’t there better ways to demonstrate our popularity than to invite our mortal enemies to a banquet as guests of honor?

    our popularity went up in Indonesia after our relief efforts; the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo carry Bill Clinton’s picture in their wallets; we’re very popular among women in Morocco because of our work with them developing job skills.

    If we save their hides, train them & give them money they’ll tolerate us, but if we look out for our own interests, try to protect our own, that’s a no no and they’re dancing in the streets to the Imam-tune after the next act of terror against the West.

    The only ones that seem to like us are some that have migrated and lived in the West but that’s very few. Just about everyone in the Muslim Belt hates our guts. Don’t most Muslims think Israel did 9/11? You can’t fight that kind of ignorance with a barrage of pro-American PR. Why, the Imams would laugh themselves sane at such a thought.

    These people riot over cartoons! Cartoons, mind you! Religion controls every aspect of their life: politics, family, work, law, grooming, dress, thought itself, virtually everything. What Spanky’s really talking about is appeasement: Let’s give them money, train them, help them in various ways so they won’t be inclined to blow themselves up around us. We can publicize these deeds and they will like us.

    The popularity appeasement brings never lasts long when the enemy is fanatical. What percentage of all Muslims ‘like’ the US? 20%? 30%? What percentage of Muslims liking us would make a difference in whether or not they support terrorism? How big of a slice of a given group that hate us does it take before a certain checkpoint is reached so that a group can be justifiably characterized as hating the West? There were quite a few Southerners during the Civil War that were against slavery but the South is still characterized as pro-slavery. There are always those who run counter to the majority in any society, but majority sentiments still dictate how a particular society is described by history.

    Terrorism is a tactic. It is not religiously motivated.

    Bin Laden cites religion, the Imams inciting hate against us cite religion, all the terrorists are of a certain religion, all the suicide bombers and their families cite religion, “Allah is great!” is proclaimed by snipers as they send bullets through the brains of American soldiers in Iraq, as they take butcher knives and saw through the necks of kidnapped American construction workers but, oh no, they are not, Spanky vigorously declares, “religiously motivated.”

    According to Spanky, if terrorism is the tactic, then religion couldn’t possibly be the motive because tactics are never, ever “religiously motivated.” You got that, readers? After all, this ‘law’ is inscribed in every anti-warrior’s How-To-Debunk-Pro-warriors Handbook, so it must be true.

  9. Spanky Says:

    “Muslim Terrorism High School”

    Well, I suppose if you assume that a billion people are terrorists, then we don’t really have much to talk about.

    I don’t imagine we’d have a very productive conversation about plate tectonics either if you believed the world was flat.

    Toodles!

    PS – “Spanky, instead why don’t we try to cause monkeys to fly out of bin Laden’s rear end? We’d stand a better chance of success doing that than we would ever have of making Muslims like us.”

    Guess what? US popularity shot up in Pakistan after our earthquake relief efforts; our popularity went up in Indonesia after our relief efforts; the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo carry Bill Clinton’s picture in their wallets; we’re very popular among women in Morocco because of our work with them developing job skills.

    Imagine that?

    But I’m done. I have nothing left to say to you. If you’re curious, though, and say please, I can offer a reading list that you might find surprising – it’s full of reports! full of facts! that tend to undermine the notion that religion is motivating hostility to the US in the Muslim world, that nothing we can do will change Muslim opinion, and so forth.

    PPS – Terrorism is a tactic. It is not religiously motivated. Groups that choose terrorism usually do for strategic reasons; they weigh their goals and their resources and adopt terrorism based on that analysis. If bin Laden had fighter planes he’d use them; he doesn’t so he plants bombs.

    PPPS – “So, in order to prevent attacks in the US we should stay in Iraq(which seems to be a major part of the “Muslim world”)? ” No. This isn’t about preventing terrorist attacks – this is about understanding why we haven’t seen another attack, and that if we do withdraw, the liklihood of another spectacular attack increases. This is sort of like your total misreading of Pape. Sure, if you want to prevent terrorist attacks, do everything the terrorists want you do, if that’s your cup of tea. Generally, it’s not mine.

    PPPPPPPS – Done, for realz this time. Peace out, homie.

  10. grackle Says:

    Terrorism is a concept and ideology that knows no borders.

    True words but with a different meaning than the writer intended. Islamic terrorism is defined more by the terrorist’s religion than by the terrorist’s place of birth. Mosques, manned by the Imams, act as recruiting centers. The cause of the new Caliphate easily cuts across borders but has great difficulty cutting across religions. I’ve never heard of bin Laden and his ilk trying to recruit, say, Catholics to the cause, but they’ve certainly recruited from a variety of countries.

    In the event that we do withdraw most of our troops from the Muslim world, al Qaeda will probably be more likely to attack us again in order to get us back. They wanted us there in the first place.

    So, in order to prevent attacks in the US we should stay in Iraq(which seems to be a major part of the “Muslim world”)?

    Sounds like the classic win/win situation, Spank! Bin Laden wins because he “wanted us there.” Bush wins because bin Laden won’t “attack us again in order to get us back.”

    Who wudda thunk it, from the keyboard of ye old Spankmiester, himself, by way of Ayman al Zawahiri, no less!

    We need to worry not about al Qaeda’s strategy, but rather how US actions in the Muslim world are perceived by Muslims.

    People blown up? Heads chopped off? Americans murdered? But all that’s merely “strategy” & not to be worried about. What we should really be concerned about is the fact that we are not going to voted as Most Popular in the Muslim Terrorism High School annual.

    Spanky, instead why don’t we try to cause monkeys to fly out of bin Laden’s rear end? We’d stand a better chance of success doing that than we would ever have of making Muslims like us. The US will never overcome the hatred of the US fostered among Muslims by their religious leaders. That’s just the way it is when religion runs everything; no media barrage is going to change the average Muslim’s mind. It’s a waste of energy and resources to even try.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Don’t believe Anonymous! Anonymous NEVER tells the truth.

    Now to more important matters: the Lady or the Tiger?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Al Queda hasn’t lied to their troops stationed inside Gitmo. Jihadists using Liberalism’s civil liberties to protect the rights of their warriors while garnering support from the pacifist is proving to be a dangerous weapon Americans are unwilling to face.

    In 2006 Americans are forbidden to show, mock, ridicule Mohammad for fear of violence while Jihad combatants who instigate these violent acts are being protected by the ACLU.

    What the hell has happened to Liberalism?

    syn

  13. Anonymous Says:

    You know, Al-Qaeda’s leaders might be lying to their own troops, too.

    Actions, not words.

  14. Spanky Says:

    “Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner” was written in Arabic for Arabs – we only got a copy when we found one after invading Afghanistan. It was never intended for a wider release. It’s the real deal.

    But regardless, at least I actually cited evidence – I can say “al Qaeda’s leaders thought this because here they are saying this.”

    You, on the other hand, offer assertion.

    The al Qaeda training manual, which is an excellent resource for understanding jihadi tactics, is just that: a how-to on terrorism. It is not, in any way, an explanation for why they put the resources and effort into planning and carrying out 9/11. So far, no one has offered an explanation for that beyond the rediculously simple “they don’t like us.”

    Right, and we don’t like them either, but we’re not at war with them because “we don’t like them.”

  15. Anonymous Says:

    I post as anonymous because Blogger doesn’t like how my browser handles Javascript. I can’t even see any text boxes on the form except the comment and word verification boxes.

    Besides, anyone who posts as anything other than a Blogger account can pretend to be anyone else, anyhow. Using the name box is no different from adding a sig to an anon post. Better to just always be anon, because any rep you establish can just be destroyed by one petty troll anyhow.

  16. NahnCee Says:

    I always thought the Lefty’s post as “anonymous” because they *lack* imagination. That’s why all of their arguments do read as if they are cut & pasted, because there’s a Moonbat Agenda that is adherred to strictly.

    You’ll get the “oil for blood” argument, the “Bush lied, people died” argument, and – increasingly – it’s all Israel’s fault argument. And when all of the comfortable cut&paste arguments have been slapped on the table like gloves before a duel, THEN they segue seamlessly into name-calling.

    There is never, ever, a dialogue which is why, as another poster noted, anything labeled “Anonymous” should just be skimmed over and jump to the next guy.

    (I also wonder how many “Anonymous” posters may be playing on someone else’s computer – at work or at college or at an internet cafe – and don’t want to leave any traceable footsteps behind.)

  17. Anonymous Says:

    “I think al Qaeda was hoping to lure the US into Afghanistan for a repeat of what they did to the Soviets (important to al Qaeda both because of the victory over a superpower and because it was in this jihad that al Qaeda has its origins).”

    Al-Qaeda’s Taliban patrons knew full well the only reason they held out so long against the USSR was because the US was supporting them. If that was one of their plans, it was at best their back-up back-up back-way-the-hell-up plan… and it fell through too.

    “I don’t think we have stubbornly refused to follow al Qaeda’s playbook; I think most people don’t have a clue that al Qaeda even has a playbook.”

    Most people don’t need to. It’s simple enough to change the playbook, if you think it’s been found out, and it’s clear as day that Al-Qaeda has already done this, several times.

    Don’t trust any of the books they publish, they’re all part of their new playbook.

    “And last but not least, nice to slip in a little dig at the media as an ally to terrorists and enemy of freedom. Nothing says “I stand for freedom” like “the free press is a tool of evil.”"

    Do we still have a free press? Remind me, did any of the media conglomerates show the Mohammed cartoons when they were a news item? Or did they use pictures of “Piss Christ” instead?

  18. Anonymous Says:

    If one wants to know what the enemy is doing all they simply have to do is read the al Queda training manual. In England, it is otherwise known as the “Manchester document’ (from documents seized in 2000 from computer files found in the home of a known al queda member living in Manchester, England)

    The al queda training manual is posted on the US Justice Department web site.

    syn

  19. Spanky Says:

    Well Tom, I’m interested simply from the standpoint of curiosity, and because I think it’s important to our security.

    Usually, it’s a good idea to know as much as possible about something that threatens your country if you’re going to respond to that threat, right?

    I mean, if a virus threatened to kill, say, 1% of the population, why shouldn’t say “well, it will not destroy America!” and prepare a response based on combating a bacteria-based infection.

    I want to say that it surprises me that there’s hostility to knowing more about this, for a group of people who supposedly care a lot about this issue. This is interesting stuff – Zawahiri’s book! Cordesman and Paz! Qutb! – but people seem more interested in painting me as a pacifist.

    I’m not a pacifist. I don’t like the war in Iraq, but for reasons external to this discussion. It would be wonderful if this, too, lead to more evidence for why we shouldn’t be there, but there’s nothing that follows from my original post that we shouldn’t be in Iraq or Afghanistan because al Qaeda didn’t want us there.

    I think the conclusions drawn from this have more to do with how we should fight, if we choose to do so, rather than when or where or why. More Muslims come to fight us when they thought our actions were not justified by 9/11; so how do we make any future action look justified to the Muslim world? Imagine if all it took was a better propaganda campaign prior to the war, a more efficient public diplomacy mission, and the number of insurgents would have been 25% smaller.

    Or, better yet, look at Pakistan. We have lots of problems with people in Pakistan: people in the tribal regions who actively support the Taliban insurgency and fight against Musharef, people who actively support al Qaeda, people who are fighting against our ally India in Kashmir. After the Kashmir earthquake US popularity in that country shot through the roof (considering where it was before, it could only go up). People loved us because we brought aid to take care of the earthquake survivors when their own government couldn’t. And then we launched an airstrike to try and kill Zawahiri, killed a bunch of innocent people (and maybe some terrorist leaders? even the NSA is fuzzy on this one), and now we’re back down.

    What if we had figured out a way of keeping that popularity up? Would there be fewer people helping the Taliban? Fewer fighting India? Would Mushared be more secure?

    These are issues that should have been weighed not only in deciding whether to launch the airstrike, but also in how the airstrike was planned and sold. Could we have used a different method? Could the Pakistani government claimed responsibility? I don’t know; smart people, figure out how an airstrike can be made to look like something other than an airstrike.

    The biggest lesson to draw from al Qaeda’s strategy is why they were doing it. Why did they think this would work? They knew us well enough to know that we would have to respond, in a spectacular way, to 9/11. Do they know the Muslim world better than we do? If they’re trying to tap into a current of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world, how else might they try? Who else might try? What can we do to minimize any successes they have?

    Generally Tom, in war, in pays to know what your enemy is doing. Otherwise, what’s the point of that whole nifty intelligence apparatus we have in this country?

  20. Tom Grey Says:

    Spanky, it’s not clear to me why we should devote much time to understand our Al Qaeda enemy, because I know they can’t beat America; just like the N. Vietnamese couldn’t win any big battles.

    It is the anti-US imperialism / anti- US capitalism / anti-US Christianity folk, in America and the world, which can politically make the US stop fighting. Like the Dem Party voted for in 1974 (shouldn’t that be an important post, Neo?).

    It’s interesting to speculate, did AQ think Bush would invade Iraq? — Saddam clearly thought not, until the last months. Did AQ think an invasion would be massive, 500 000 numbers of troops (& targets), like Vietnam, or minimal 150 000?

    It seems that part of their survival mechanism is to accept inconsistency — some think one thing will happen, some another, but what they think doesn’t change how they act. So why should I worry about them so much as the moonbat Left in America, who vote to run away?

    I think Bush had TOO MANY troops after Saddam fell, and didn’t give local Iraqi mayors enough authority & responsibility for security. Also, I think TOO MUCH aid was spent on Iraq, and far too much was corruptly wasted. I have other complaints, too.

    But as a new Iraq gov’t starts taking over, I think Bush will be able to talk about: “Iraq The Model” (also a great blog).

  21. Anonymous Says:

    If the neo-con government was so determined to imperialize the world for geopolitical reasons why would such an evil empire even bother flying US planes into US buildings?

    Further, those who argue that it was US policy that brought about terrorism are basically saying that appeasement and containment of totalitarian governments plus humanitarian aids are the root cuase of terrorism. In other words terrorism is caused by pacis fist peace-niks who would rather maintain ‘peace, love’ and understanding’ by feeding the fire of destruction than to stand against totalitarian rule and fight back.

    syn

  22. Anonymous Says:

    I genuinely feel sorry for you if you believe any of this crap.

    9/11 was a defining moment, it defined the moment when a section of the US government would kill 3000 of it’s own people for geopolitical goals. You’ve still got that government perpetuating the massive noble lie of the Straussian Neocons that you lap up because to face the truth that your own government did this to you is too terrifying.

    oh well, no helping some.

  23. douglas Says:

    Anon 11:05 beat me to the punch- and probably said it better than I would’ve anyway.

    Don’t play your enemies game- make him play yours. We have, and al-Q hasn’t been able to restructure their tactics. Osama’s biggest mistake was probably doing Khobar, Cole, embassies in Africa before 9-11. Or maybe it was thinking he understood us…

    and people always want to criticize us for not understanding others…

  24. Holmes Says:

    Speaking of projection techniques and straw men….I gotta stop reading the comment section.

  25. Spanky the Contemplative Says:

    But Anonymous, two points:

    I think al Qaeda was hoping to lure the US into Afghanistan for a repeat of what they did to the Soviets (important to al Qaeda both because of the victory over a superpower and because it was in this jihad that al Qaeda has its origins).

    I don’t think we have stubbornly refused to follow al Qaeda’s playbook; I think most people don’t have a clue that al Qaeda even has a playbook.

    And last but not least, nice to slip in a little dig at the media as an ally to terrorists and enemy of freedom. Nothing says “I stand for freedom” like “the free press is a tool of evil.”

  26. Spanky the Thoughtful Says:

    I’m sad; I wrote a long response about bears and why it’s good to know if they’re rabid and why this is relevant to al Qaeda, and then I lost it somehow.

    But Anonymous said some good things; I had never thought of it that way. Let me ponder…

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Yeah, Al-Qaeda hoped the US would launch a counterattack against the Muslim world. Their whole plan revolved around it.

    But they were hoping most desperately our wrath would strike a different target.

    The problem with deep cover missions like the 9-11 attacks is that they take a lot of factors out of their masterminds’ hands. The activities of the operatives can’t be reliably monitored, the success of their infiltration couldn’t be gagued, even the day the attacks had to take place couldn’t be reliably predicted.

    What Osama could control, though, was the identity, and nationality, of those who took part. He had skilled, highly trained devotees from France, Britain, Australia, and even America who could have moved about the country effortlessly. If instead he wanted to hold those in reserve, he could have relied on the Afghans or Pakistanis who made up the bulk of his troops, Iranians or Iraqis that could have diverted attention away from Al-Qaeda and toward their respective governments, or Somalians whom they considered fit for little more than suicide missions.

    But fifteen of the nineteen were Saudi. The rest were from Egypt, Lebanon, and the UAE… not one from the nations whose governments tolerated or supported Al-Qaeda.

    Osama wanted a counter-attack. But he hoped that he could conceal Al-Qaeda’s links to the attackers well enough that the US government would instead turn its attention to the nations the attackers hailed from.

    Why do you think bin Laden, normally the first to brag about his terrorist triumphs at Khobar Towers and the USS Cole, would refuse to admit for months that he masterminded the 9-11 attacks?

    The plan was for the US to attack the Land of the Two Mosques, a move that would have united the entire Muslim world against us.

    That plan was blown to pieces when we helped overthrow the Taliban and Saddam Hussein instead.

    But our stubborn refusal to follow Al-Qaeda’s playbook has given them an unexpected ally: the international media, who has spent the last five years reminding anybody who cares that there was not one Iraqi, not one Afghan, among the 9-11 attackers.

    Ever wonder why Osama echoes the media’s talking points every time he releases a new video? He wouldn’t have survived this long if he didn’t try to exploit every windfall he could get.

  28. phuknjrk Says:

    spanky – “It’s true that they hate our freedom and want to destroy us, but on their list of objectives, we’re pretty low.”

    That’s about the only part I have to disagree with.. and if you don’t mind, I’ll just rearrange a few of your remarks to demonstrate my view..

    “The attack on America was not the ultimate end of their strategy; it was, rather, a means of provoking us into an action they thought would benefit them.”

    “they could then turn on the governments of the Middle East, their real target, and rule over the new Caliphate.”

    “What if they could lead that united Muslim world against the US?”

    Sort of a timeline of near-term, mid-term, and long-term goals.. but wanting to destroy us and our freedoms is still the ulitimate goal..

  29. nyomythus Says:

    …man, what was the question…hehe

  30. Holmes Says:

    Spanky,

    You made me a parody first, so I took it from there. My one post about calling you a negligent coward…etc, was really just tongue in cheek, using your words. So, whatev, man/woman.

    Feel free to explain yourself if you like. I won’t even include any references to Star Wars.

    Why do you feel it is important to understand why Al Qaeda wanted to attack us?

  31. Goesh Says:

    What is it with the name calling? Cease and desist and quit degrading a good blog.

  32. Spanky the Terrible Says:

    Holmes,

    I would love to discuss this with you, but I’m not really sure how. I feel like you’re arguing with a parody of my argument. Pretty much anything I say, you take a warped, strawman version of what I have said, and attack it. Sooooo, I guess I’m done with you unless you actually have something to say about what I have written, instead of your warped fantasy version of it.

  33. Spanky the Confused Says:

    Ok…you’re an odd one.

  34. Holmes Says:

    Spanky, so you had no point other than to write what Zawahiri wrote? You’re just a transcriber? I doubt that. You had a point- we fell into their trap! We are such dunderheads and they are so wise and cunning. Please.

  35. mdfay Says:

    Spanky, thanks for illustrating my point…did you actually think I was serious about there actually being some conspiracy of anonymous blog posting sweat shops? Where’s your sense of humor? Thanks for rising to the bait, you’ve made my day. By the way, you’ve made some very interesting points….no sarcasm intended.

  36. Spanky the Sane Says:

    I think, though, that mdfay deserves the lunatic of the day award:

    “Blog commenters who espouse liberal ideology are really part of a conspiracy working from some secret location to fill blogs with copies of the same writings.”

    Um, right. Freak.

  37. Spanky the Weary Says:

    You know what I find fascinating?

    That al Zawahiri said “X, Y, and Z.”

    And I say, “Hey guys! Did you know that al Zawahiri said X, Y, and Z?”

    And Holmes replies with “Clearly, you want to appease the terrorists.”

    I’m not even sure where to start with the rest of the crap you wrote. You just fundamentally misunderstand so many things that I just…don’t have the energy right now. So I’ll try again later.

  38. mdfay Says:

    I’m finding that there is a very pronounced trend among our fellow citizens on the left to only post comments under the cloak of anonymity. This is certainly their right, but I’m finding it curiouser and curiouser. What could be their motivation? Humility? Cowardice? I personally think there are “cut and paste” blog comment sweat shops at work. These anonymous folks are just so predictably mechanical. It’s hard to imagine that there’s really a live thinking breathing human being behind the comments. At least the outsourced phone centers in India have the good sense to give their folks Americanized names. I’m looking forward to whatever moonbat rant this little posting generates. At anyrate neo-neocon, thanks for thinking outside the box and being a live breathing thinking human being with a highly identifiable voice.

  39. Holmes Says:

    Spanky doesn’t want real conversation, that’s why I don’t engage him/her. I’ve debated too many of his ilk in school and it goes round and round until somebody calls somebody else an asshole. In any event, he assumed all of the things I would say about him before I had the chance to say it, so it doesn’t really matter. I admire people like Neo who can continue to fight the good fight in the face of it.

    Spanky is recyclying the same “strategies” the Left has been saying since we invaded Iraq, just in different packaging. We should withdraw, but only because it’s really actually good for the Iraqi government. Nevermind that the “withdraw now!” notion has been batted around since 2003 before there was any possible chance the government could stand on its own. Oh, and also we should consider the way such things look to Muslims. That’s not a strategy, that’s catering to a warped people’s worldview.

    And we should consider why Al Qaeda attacked us because that is really important in considering whether we should have invaded Afghanistan/Iraq in the first place. No, it is not. The important thing is whether or not we can fundamentally change the Islamic world to at least be able to function in a modern world. If people like Zawahiri are correct and there is this coalescing of Islamic radicals at the mere presence of the US, then we were actually right all along- they are actually all part of the same problem. The boundaries of Iraq/Iran/Syria/Saudi Arabia/ Maylaysia aren’t actually important to them. But we knew that already.
    It’s just more of the same apologetics for Islamic fascists, but made to sound sensible.

    The burden is on them to prove they can play nice in the sandbox. The burden is not on us to understand why it is they currently cannot do so.

  40. Anonymous Says:

    I thought Mein Kampf was required reading in Nazi Germany.

    Or would the possibility that lots of people not only read it, but agreed with it, be too terrible to mention?

  41. Bezuhov Says:

    “from” in above should be “for”.

  42. Bezuhov Says:

    Once again, Neo, you deserve a far better comment section than you’ve been given. I guess now that the weather’s nice, the intelligent folks are out enjoying the sunshine. I think what Spanky says makes sense, but that there’s more to it than that (part of Muslim hostility to the West is the West’s history of support from oppressive Muslim dictators, part arises from humiliation that’s just flat our not our fault, and part arises from Muslim chauvinism – Muslim’s are human’s too, and not immune from human failings. Blame America first is just not accurate.). The rest in this thread is just noise.

  43. Spanky the Well-Read Says:

    Yammer, you’re right, Hitler didn’t want to destroy the US, though he did imagine that the acquisition of territory in the Soviet Union would allow Germany to defeat the US when that conflict inevitably arose. But the simple fact of the matter is: even if Hitler hated the US, the US was very, very low on his list of strategic concerns.

    In terms of al Qaeda’s strategic goals, we’re low low low. Obviously we’re very high on their list of strategic concerns: the invasion of Afghanistan seriously effected the group’s command and control structure by denying them their chief safe haven. But destroying us? That’s something they wanted to do long after they had seized control of the Muslim world. al Qaeda hates us, but they don’t attack us because they hate us.

    It is by now a cliche that, if only more people had read Mein Kampf, many things would be differently. Since Hitler laid out all of his intentions, if more people had been aware, they would not have miscalculated about his strategic goals and made so many mistakes.

    So go read Zawahiri, and Qutb too. Don’t make the same mistake.

  44. Spanky the Cromulent Says:

    Ah, Holmes. You’re an asshole!

    Let’s see…I argued that al Qaeda has a more elaborate strategic agenda than commonly thought…and this makes me a coward?

    Let’s see…I argued that if the US is to pursue military options in the Middle East, it should take into account Muslim views of US foreign policy in deciding on the action’s outward appearance…and this makes me a pacifist?

    I offer an analysis, based on the primary sources, of al Qaeda’s intentions, and this makes me…anti-American?

    Oh, I get it. What really happened was…liberal opens mouth, liberal is called anti-American.

    And this is why you are an asshole.

  45. Holmes Says:

    One doesn’t have to be intentionally anti-American to have anti-American policies. You’re more of a negligent coward, pacifist, anti-american dweebie.

  46. Ymarsakar Says:

    Take it from me, plans don’t survive contact with the enemy. Osama and Zawahiri has had plenty of time to learn that little facet of reality.

    Hitler didn’t want to destroy the United States either in the beginning. Since he thought we were a great example of the Aryan race, the Germans who were strong and adventurous enough to leave the weaklings in the European mainland. Eventually he realized that we were like the opposite of his system, which made him think America was weak because we mixed the blood of our citizens around like a soup.

    Blair’s Questions with the Prime Minister on CSPAn are always interesting. Because he’s got so much energy, and he always concludes his stuff while sitting down with a weird technique. It’s like somebody is dragging him back to his seat as he is finishing his sentence.

    Terrorism is a concept and ideology that knows no borders.

    Well the thing is, if you killed all practictioners of terrorism, this would stop terrorism about the same as MAD stopped nuclear war. Sorta between threaten to kill and actually be able to kill, mutually assured terrorism.

    When people say neocon, Tommy, they mean the fascistic big oil companies who want to exploit poor brown people by sending poor blacks to war as cannon fodder. Neo-Con is one thing to one group, and another thing to another.

    It’s not surprising to me that Al Qaeda wants to attack civilians to get over-reactions. But they failed to get it. Al Qaeda was counting on a bunch of missile strikes that would kill civilians and Al Qaeda can use as propaganda to show the weakness of America compared to the social equality of Hamas and Osama.

    When Americans came face to face with Muslims, and had a choice between the Al Qaedan terroists blowing up their children and American Marines sending their children to get advanced medical care, it’s not so easy for Al Qaeda to talk about the weakness of America and the greatness of terror anymore.

  47. Tommy V Says:

    Spanky,

    Thanks for that original post up there. That is not something I thought about before.

    Also, as far as anonymous goes, when did the term “neo-con” begin to mean mean-spirited fascist to some people? The entire point of the neo-con foreign policy as it was formed in the 90s was to spread democracy for both practical and moral reasons. Even if you’re a so-called realist and think such an effort would cause more trouble than it would prevent, how could you really be “against” the spread of democracy? Some of this stuff is just strange to me.

  48. Spanky the Stern Says:

    Actually Holmes, you loser, I didn’t argue for that at all. I suppose if you want to draw that conclusion, that’s fine, but that’s your conclusion, not mine.

    I don’t think we should have invaded Iraq, but not as a result of this analysis. Neocon quotes Tony Blair about trying to understand what happened that day, and I think they get it wrong: we were attacked for different reasons than they think we were.

    Does the fact that al Qaeda wanted us to invade mean that we shouldn’t have invaded? Of course not. The value of the invasion should be judged by its merits in terms of securing and promoting US interests, irrespective of its connection with al Qaeda’s strategy.

    I draw a couple of conclusions from the strategy I think al Qaeda is following:

    One, there has been no jihad, but al Qaeda recruitment is up. Mark Tessler of the University of Michigan has shown that there is a correspondance in Muslim countries between hostility to US foreign policy and support for terrorism. al Qaeda knows its audience better than we do, and was trying to exploit some serious hostility to the US to encourage radicalization. We need to worry not about al Qaeda’s strategy, but rather how US actions in the Muslim world are perceived by Muslims. If we’re going to undertake military actions there, we need to figure out a way of making them look like Afghanistan to Muslims, not the way Iraq looks like to Muslims.

    2) al Qaeda attacked us, as Zawahiri explicitly wrote, in order to provoke us into attacking a Muslim country. In the event that we do withdraw most of our troops from the Muslim world, al Qaeda will probably be more likely to attack us again in order to get us back. They wanted us there in the first place.

    Yeah, I know, I’m a liberal and therefore a gutless cowardly pacifist and terrorist-lover. Or not. I know how strongly you believe that any analysis from a liberal must be part of my agenda to destroy America, but really, I just read the stuff and this is the conclusion I came to. I’m not very good with the whole recommendations thing; I’d make a bad policy maker.

  49. Holmes Says:

    Actually I think I would accuse you of wanting us to do nothing at all. That seemed to be the gist of the Zawihiri thing. “If they do nothing at all, then, curses! They shall win!” Though only in Iraq should we have done nothing at all, and not Afghanistan of course, because that one was politically popular.

    Geek.

  50. nyomythus Says:

    Racialize? How did race mysteriously appear into the discussion?? Or did you simply inject it?

    It’s like approaching discourse the way one would approach cooking, if you can’t inject all the right ingredients then the soup is no good?? Yea, the problem is that a “by whatever means” [injecting hypersensitive delusions] to fit an “ends” formulae is not a pursuit of truth, but a pursuit of an ideology.

  51. Anonymous Says:

    I love you, Anonymous.

  52. Anonymous Says:

    Or it could be two different anon posters, or even one poster using a sock puppet.

    Only Neo-Neo knows, and then only if she’s logging IPs.

    Me, I think you’re overestimating your importance if you think all anons are out to get you.

  53. Spanky the Wary Says:

    I have a feeling that Anonymous is attempting to provoke a nasty response from me.

    After all, he opened up with an attack on Neocon, and then, for some reason, started talking about me “racializing” things and calling him names.

    Um…

    So first anon was going after neocons, and now anon is going after liberals, singling me out among posters here for a response. And using words that, while I understand them, do not make sense in the order that anon is using them.

    Huh.

  54. Anonymous Says:

    Well, if Iraq fails, the neo-con plan B is something along the lines of “wait till the liberals have all been beheaded by the jihadis, and THEN start fighting back.”

    Which actually won’t take too long, given the jihadis’ distinct preference for soft targets… and they don’t get much softer than unarmed pacifist journalists.

  55. Spanky the Says:

    Actually, despite my tremendously fond memories of the original Star Wars trilogy, I haven’t seen the newest ones. They just looked awful. Sorry, Lucas is a terrible director. His best work was THX-1138, and that was his first movie. It was mostly downhill from there.

    New rule: the first person who brings up Star Wars in an attempt to discuss foreign policy is a total nerd. We’ll call it “The Spanky Law”. Nerd.

    Anyway, come on! It took me a long time to write all that. I know your urge is to accuse me of hating America and freedom from daring to stray from the party line (“They attacked us in order to destroy our freedom, somehow”). But “liberals are teh suck” isn’t really a well-thought out response. Come on! Agree, disagree, go read the book! I don’t care!

  56. Holmes Says:

    Maybe Zawahiri just saw Star Wars Episode III and followed that plot. Suck us in and then have the droids turn on us! Er…

    Of course, starting a Civil War in Iraq, which was the stategery de jour not too long ago, didn’t seem to be a strategy of solidifying the Muslim world, now did it?

    Maybe the real strategy was to draw us in and then rely on liberals to undermine our ability to keep up the fight. The Radical Muslim world would then see us as shamed and then gel into one radicalized group. They are so tricksy. I almost revere them. No wait, that’s Spanky.

  57. LetMeSpellItOutForYou Says:

    Note as well the old Hitler Rule: whoever ascribes Hitlerism to the other loses the argument.

  58. Huan Says:

    anonymous postings are not worth a response.

  59. Spanky the Wordy Says:

    Nyo,

    I meant, what does al Qaeda do when we withdraw from Iraq? I suspect (not assert) that we haven’t been attacked because it’s not in their interest to spend the resources on it; they already have US troops in several Muslim countries, which was their goal.

    When we withdraw, I suspect (not assert) that this is when we’ll see more attempted attacks on the US from al Qaeda.

  60. Anonymous Says:

    It’s almost funny to see how people cling to such illusions even as the neo-con experiment in Iraq fails so miserably.
    To spanky: What’s the matter? Is it too difficult to engage me with your intellect or do you have to racialize my opinion instead and resort to name-calling?

  61. nyomythus Says:

    “When we leave Iraq eventually…” I would hope we would ‘support’ an internal third party to bring some serious upheaval to the Ahamdinejad and Assad régimes … get a little R&R for the love of God. There I go again … being the optimist :\

  62. Anonymous Says:

    Parody…?
    Yeah, On 9/11 things changed for me, too. When Bin Laden threw down the cartoon guantlet of massive killing and destruction I chose not to reciprocate like your neo-con leaders. You can’t fight “terrorism” with terrorism. Terrorism is a concept and ideology that knows no borders. I would argue that America as a military force has caused more terrorism than Bin Laden, anyway. Possibly 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians, 2390 dead US soldiers to date, tens of thousands maimed and mutilated, for WHAT?
    For the enrichment of corporations who answer to no one? Neoconservativism is like Hitler’s Nazism…it is bred and fostered through fear, ignorance, and hatred. In reading the details of your “conversion” I can only assume you called yourself a liberal out of convenience and not consciousness. What is clear is that you make a good follower.

  63. Spanky the Magnificent Says:

    Dunno. I’d buy that someone believes “this war was started over a neo-con agenda for US hegemony” before “I hate Bush so much I’ll wear a burkha.”

  64. neo-neocon Says:

    So, Spanky, what’s your expert opinion: Is “anonymous” at 2:25 PM a parody, or for real?

  65. Anonymous Says:

    This is a fascinating “conversion” you’ve had! So, because of the misguided US policies that caused 9/11 and the misguided US leadership that allowed 9/11, you’ve decided to join those who want perpetual war?
    The war in Iraq is a neo-con creation that only seeks military and economic dominance over the rest of the world. It will fail and so will the neo-con vision for full spectrum dominance. It’s sad that a supposedly free-thinking person like yourself can’t see 9/11 for what it is: a neo-con opportunity to hijack our democracy, destroy civil liberty, and create endless war for corporations like Halliburton.

  66. Spanky the Magnificent Says:

    If you’re curious about why the US was attacked on 9/11, I highly recommend you read Ayman al Zawahiri’s book “Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner.”

    We captured it in 2001 during the invasion of Afghanistan, and a translation is available through FBIS.

    Certainly the US was attacked because it represents most everything the jihadis hate; specifically both the freedoms we afford and the decadance they see as arising from that.

    But Osama bin Laden, while evil, is not an idiot; al Qaeda did not believe that by attacking the US once, twice, a few times would destroy us. Are we to believe that al Qaeda, which is such a serious threat that Bush himself has stated that our security policy since 9/11 has been geared towards defeating them, planned such a simple strategy? Do you believe that they honestly thought an attack, even a spectacular attack with thousands of casualties, would destroy America or lead us to surrender to them?

    Zawahiri in his book lays out a very different strategy. The attack on America was not the ultimate end of their strategy; it was, rather, a means of provoking us into an action they thought would benefit them.

    al Qaeda views itself as a “vanguard party”, in the Leninist sense. To al Qaeda’s view, Muslims everywhere are oppressed. They are oppressed not primarily by outside powers, like the US, but rather by Jahiliyyah. Jahiliyyah is an Arabic word that originally referred to the period of time before Muhammed’s prophethood; it means “ignorance”. In the 1960s the Egyptian scholar Sayyid Qutb began to use the term in a very different sense: true Islam, he argued, meant devotion to divine law and nothing else. Any government that placed power with a human ruler, rather than with God, was Jahiliyyah and oppressing Muslims.

    al Qaeda ascribes to Qutb’s interpretation of Islam and wants to free Muslims from what it views as apostate regimes in the Muslim world. al Qaeda has run into a problem, though: its ideology is unpopular in the Muslim world.

    Sound familiar? Say hi to Lenin and Marx again: in the same way that Marxists believe that workers are oppressed but don’t know it because of “false consciousness”, al Qaeda believes Muslims are oppressed but don’t know it because of Jahiliyyah, or ignorance.

    What’s needed, then, is a vanguard party that will free them from their false consciousness. Enter al Qaeda, “the base” or “the foundation”. But al Qaeda’s unpopular. How to get Muslims to like them?

    Zawahiri wrote that the people of the Muslim world dislike the US and Israel. So al Qaeda hit upon an idea: what if they could unite the Muslim world against an enemy that most of them disliked? What if they could lead that united Muslim world against the US?

    They’d end up in charge of a radicalized, revolutionary Muslim world.

    So Zawahiri wrote: attack the US. The US will be forced to respond; how could it not to such carnage? The result would be military action in the Muslim world; Muslims would unite against the US, al Qaeda would lead them. Once firmly in charge and with the US gone (they figured they’d repeat what they did to the Soviets in Afghanistan), they could then turn on the governments of the Middle East, their real target, and rule over the new Caliphate.

    Oy. Long post. But it’s interesting stuff. Fortunately al Qaeda was totally wrong; there has been no general jihad against the US (though al Qaeda recruitment has gone up after Iraq, it is only a slight increase). But don’t think that al Qaeda attacked us because they hate our freedom and want to destroy us. It’s true that they hate our freedom and want to destroy us, but on their list of objectives, we’re pretty low.

    Why haven’t there been any more terrorist attacks on the US since 9/11? Has homeland security been that effective? Bush has said himself that the terrorists only have to be lucky once, and it’s true. In four and a half years, not once have they gotten lucky?

    Could it be that they don’t need to attack us? That they’ve already achieved their immediate, primary goal qua us, so long as we have lots of troops in the Muslim world? According to their strategy, they don’t need to attack us again, so they’re probably not trying too hard.

    So what happens when we do leave Iraq eventually?

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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