Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Mind of Bin Laden

I have added a new blog to my blogroll called The Reform Club. A friend of mine recently was invited to join the staff of writers there, so I began reading. The Reform Club is a group journal which seems to offer a nice mix of high-minded commentary and intelligent humor.

Here, my friend Tom Van Dyke reminds us of the ideology of Osama Bin Laden by referring to his 1996 Fatwa declaring war on the United States:

"But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where--after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order--you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you.

Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden and Mogadishu."

---from bin Laden's 1996 fatwa against the West

Tom's commentary is worth reading. Go check it out. He makes the point that Bin Laden's Fatwa makes it clear that weakness, not strength, feeds Jihadism. In a series of comments, Thlaloc takes issue with this assertion:

You are mistaken. Read all of OBL's words and you see clearly he's pissed off by the US forces in the Middle East and the support of Israel and the US intervention in arab countries internal concerns. Much more importantly those are the things that piss off moderate muslims and hence recruit for Al Qaeda.

I can't explain this to you any clearer: Terrorism is a tactic designed to defeat military strength.

The military option has always failed: Israel, Ireland, Iraq give us a nice window into that. Ireland also gives us a nice view that a terrorist threat can be overcome by deciding which of their demands are things that can be accepted and which can't. You accept those that are okay and thus cut their motivation. Or you deal with daily attacks like Israel and respond everytime with more force and thus perpetuate the cycle.

The IRA is an example that what I'm suggesting has worked at least once. Do you have a single example of a well established terrorist group being destroyed by military force?

That's a very good question. Thlaloc has framed the issue well. He has proved his intelligence.

Now, let me pose a question. Thlaloc rightly asserts that "Terrorism is a tactic to defeat military strength." Ok, so suppose the Nazis had chosen the tactic of Terrorism instead of using their military. Should the world have then have figured out a way to deal with the Nazis?

Read Bin Laden's statements and demands. He wants to establish a Caliphate (transnational Islamic superstate) which includes Andalusia (Spain). He wants to kill the Christians and the Jews. He wants to establish Sharia Law as the rule of the land.

How are Bin Laden's demands different from those of Hitler?

It is important to understand that Afghanistan and the Sudan are Bin Laden's models of the perfect state. I wonder if Thlaloc could find something to compromise with in such an ideology.

My answer to Thlaloc's points (because, as I said, they are intelligent) is, if a military response has not worked against terrorism in the past, then we need to find a different way to use our military. In fact, we have done that so far in the WoT. Our new tactics have worked to some extent. The enemy adapts. We adapt. Some days it looks like we're doing a good job, and other days we are frightened.

That's war.

But, all our doubts and fears do not take away from the fact that Bin Laden's list of demands are not something we can abide. He and his rabid followers need to be removed from the face of the Earth.