Friday, July 2, 2010

Islamic Terrorism

Robert Wright reads the testimony of the would-be Times Square Bomber and asks whether Jihad is actually a counter-attack:
Here is how Shahzad explained his role in the holy war: “It’s a war,” he said. “I am part of that. I am part of the answer of the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people, and on behalf of that, I’m revenging the attacks.”

And this:
[Shahzad implies] the holy war could end if America would stop using military force. He said in court, “Until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan and stops the occupation of Muslim lands and stops killing the Muslims and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that.”

Wright then proceeds to this:
Indeed, it tracks the pitch of jihadist recruiters, notably Anwar Awlaki, the American sheik in Yemen who inspired not just Shahzad but the Fort Hood shooter and the thwarted underwear bomber. The core of the pitch is that America is at war with Islam, and the evidence cited includes Shahzad’s litany: Iraq, Afghanistan, drone strikes, etc.

Of course, this litany amounts to pretty severe terms for peace. Shahzad says terrorism will continue until we end two wars and all drone strikes? And quit “reporting” suspicious Muslims to our government? Anything else we can do for him?

But as a practical matter, taking any of these issues off the table weakens the jihadist recruiting pitch. (Different potential recruits, after all, are sensitive to different issues.) And if we could take the Afghanistan war off the table, that would be a big one.

At least, that’s my view.

Wright then tries to argue that we can pull out of Afghanistan; it will be messy but there are benefits, such as removing it as a recruiting tool. FLG has several problems with this. First, if we pull out of Afghanistan, then the terrorists have something they can point to as a victory, and victories are a good recruiting tool as well. So, it's not clear it would be a net loss for the other side in recruiting. Second, pulling out of Afghanistan isn't what Shahzad was complaining about. He wants the US out of all Muslim countries. And presumably this means forever. The entire idea that the United States would or could make a commitment like that is preposterous. Remember what incited bin Laden's anger the first time -- the US stationed troops in Saudi Arabia to protect that nation from Saddam Hussein after Saddam had invaded Kuwait. Nobody with any brains is going to rule out putting American troops in any Muslim nation ever. Consequently, we cannot fulfill the demand. Third, we don't want to give in to these types of demands. Appeasement and all that. Lastly and most importantly, we need to make a strategic decision about whether pulling out of Afghanistan is in American, long-term, strategic interests. The idea that pulling out of Afghanistan will lessen terrorist threat, when that's where 9/11 was planned, is just asinine on its face.

All that being said though, it could be that the cure -- staying in Afghanistan -- is worse than the disease -- the threat of terrorism. FLG doesn't think so right now, but it could happen.


Anonymous said...

Recalling that I'm no expert on any of this and my mind is foggy as I haven't had any coffee yet but hasn't this notion of counter attack been around since the early '90s?

Isn't Osama bin Laden the head of al Qaeda (sp?) And didn't he get upset (that's the tame description) at the Saudis for allowing American troops to be "stationed" in Saudi Arabia? That their mere presence there, not any military aggression/force was bin Laden's issue back then?

Per the defendent's words:

"the holy war could end if America would stop using military force."

Isn't *the Holy War* larger than al-Qaeda? What's all that mumbo jumbo coming out of Iran? Then there's the Muslim Brotherhood. They've been around since the '20's.

Have you ever read any of Roger Scruton on the Muslim Brother, jihad and the West? He gets into the motives and whatnot. You might enjoy him.

Try this one:

Mrs. P

George Pal said...

It is human nature that victory/success inspires. It is Muslim nature that it inspires ten times over due to the honor code that still runs deep. There is no winning in Afghanistan; at least not without exacting a terrible body count on the dispersed enemy or (and less likely), a century of occupation amidst continuous guerilla war.

On the bigger picture, Mr. Wright’s fails to see the forest for the trees, fails to see Islam for the jihadists. The big fail is the failure to notice Islam is peaceful when it hasn’t the means and opportunity - it has always the motive - and radical/belligerent when it has - as in petrodollars and a suicidal host (the West).

The hubris of the British, the Soviets, and now the U.S. all had their comeuppance in Afghanistan. Cut and run; spare our soldiers their rules of engagement and let no more die in a worthless cause. Let them plan all the 9/11s they wish; let us foil their plans by closing our country to them.

Withywindle said...

I endorse George Pal.

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