Monday, January 22, 2007

You are either against us or against us

Peter Bergen argues in the New Republic (subscription only link) that Al Qaeda isn't dead. "It's not even on the run. In fact, it's back and stronger than ever." A better summary of Bergen's article might be that after being evicted by US forces, al Qaeda simply moved to other countries. But not just to any Islamic country. The real center of its new network is built around Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom.

The story of Al Qaeda's renaissance begins with its eviction from Afghanistan in late 2001. Unfortunately, the group didn't disintegrate--it merely moved across the border to the tribal regions of western Pakistan, where today it operates a network of training camps. A former American intelligence official stationed in Pakistan told me that there are currently more than 2,000 foreign fighters in the region. ...

Nowhere in the West do these developments pose a greater danger than in Great Britain. ... The nexus between Al Qaeda, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom is almost certain to generate more attacks. Making a rare public speech last November, Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of Britain's domestic intelligence service, MI5, said, "We are aware of numerous plots to kill people and damage our economy ... 30 that we know of. These plots often have linked back to Al Qaeda in Pakistan, and, through these links, Al Qaeda gives guidance and training to its largely British foot soldiers here on an extensive and growing scale." One such plot involving Al Qaeda was the alleged plan by a group of British-Pakistani citizens to launch an attack in the United Kingdom using 1,300 pounds of fertilizer (reportedly stored in a locker in West London). They were arrested in March 2004 by British police. According to court documents entered in the trial, two of the accused said they worked for Abdul Hadi, a senior leader of Al Qaeda. Also, the British government alleges that several of those arrested had trained at terrorist camps in the tribal areas of Pakistan along the Afghanistan border in 2003.

Bergen should have added "Saudi Arabia" to the list. And he does, but through the door of Iraq.

And then, of course, there is Iraq. Several studies have shown that the suicide attackers in Iraq are largely foreigners, while only a small proportion are Iraqi. In June 2005, the site Institute of Washington found, by tracking both jihadist websites and news reports, that, of the 199 Sunni extremists who had died in Iraq either in suicide attacks or in action against coalition or Iraqi forces, 104 were from Saudi Arabia and only 17 were from Iraq.

From these new bases Bergen predicts that Al-Qaeda will not only continue its low level campaign of violence but will go for another Big One. Maybe a radiological bomb on a Western City. Maybe something even bigger. But the questions he raises become eerie in the context of British TV's expose entitled Undercover Mosque. It follows the months-long attendance of an undercover reporter at a Saudi-funded mosque in London where the sermons were not only disturbing but outright inflammatory.

Much of "Undercover Mosque" was filmed with a hidden camera. The sound is clear, but the footage is often shaky and tentative. Ironically, this is now the predominant style for hip documentary filmmaking, which affects a nervous, frantic style. Here you have the real thing — it's nervous and frantic because it has to be. The preachers shown, including an African-American convert, are jaw-droppingly explicit in their revolutionary plans for Britain and the world.

One, Dr. Ijaz Mian, at the Regents Park Mosque in London, official seat of "moderate" Islam in Britain, talks openly about his desire to see Saudi-style religious police operating in the United Kingdom. He urges Muslims to wait until they are sufficiently numerous to make Britons surrender: "Hands Up!" Another predicts jihad will be waged against all nonbelievers and a British Islamic state established, with the flogging of drunkards, chopping off of thieves' hands, and jihad against non-Muslims all on the menu. "You have to live like a state within a state until you take over," he says. Women are "deficient," and should be marriageable before puberty because Muhammad himself married a nine-year-old. The animus against homosexuals and Jews is particularly virulent, meaning not merely condemnation, but explicit calls for their (eventual) murder. One imam even mimics a throat-cutting.

The initial vision behind Operation Iraqi Freedom was to provide an democratic alternative to the Muslim world. And the question implicit in any "redeployment" strategy or change in direction is quo vadis? Do we really mean to take on radical Islam in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Europe? Because they will still be there however far one flees from Iraq. And how do we intend to fight them in those places? If the West could not bear to abandon a "catch and release" policy in Iraq do they expect it to be implemented in Western Europe? Now that Iran has decided to destablize Afghanistan by supporting even forces traditionally unfriendly to it, for so long as they attacked Americans, we now have a reprise of the Iraq in Southwest Asia with Iran and Afghanistan playing the roles of Iran and Syria. Given there is no prospect of cleaning up the Taliban hiding in Pakistan, what is the way forward in Afghanistan that is not different from the way forward in Iraq?

There is no escape from the current conflict. There is nowhere to withdraw. The West must find a way to defeat a networked radical Islamic threat one way or the other or leave the planet. The jihadis have every intention of inheriting the earth.


Blogger dla said...

There are ~2.1 billion Christians, 1 billion of which are Protestant, 16.3 million of which are Southern Baptist. When Pat Robertson makes a news-worthy remark - can you tell if his views represent all of Christianity?

Obviously the secular media has no clue with part-time Clerics like Osama Bin Laden.

My point is: be careful when you generalize.

1/22/2007 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


I think most reasonable people began with the assumption that the jihadis constituted a minority within the Islamic world. And that's probably still true and likely to be true forever. But that is in some sense beside the point. Bolsheviks, Fascists etc were minorities within their societies too.

In the old days the solution to extirpating Nazism and Fascism was to kill them all and let God sort them out. And the real danger is that if we don't find some way to defeat the Jihad by providing alternative models or effective information warfare, is that after the Jihadis have blown up a few Western cities, the lazy political elite will say. "Ok. Let's do it like World War 2. Do what Truman did. Drop the bomb." After all, if we could incinerate the clean, neat and discipline Japanese Christians in Nagasaki, and incarcerate all those English speaking Nisei, why should Pakistanis or Saudis fare any better?"

And that of course brings us back to the idea, so badly put by President Bush and so reviled by many, of "bringing democracy to the Middle East". It isn't a bad idea actually, if we can learn to pull it off. Now maybe it's impossible or maybe we just haven't learned how, but it was clearly not the most stupid of ideas, though we may go back to Truman's -- now regarded as a great man, ironically -- in the end.

1/22/2007 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger JB said...

Moderate Muslims = Good Germans.

1/22/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Bigger Diggler said...

The decision to drop the bomb on Japan definitely wasn't conceived out of laziness! It was a completely moral decision that saved many thousands, if not millions of lives on both sides!

You have to ask yourself, would the current internecine debacle in Iraq have occurred had the US opened a more energetic can of whup a$$ in the original invasion? Isn't it undeniable that our fixation on civilian-freindly "Lawfare" has caused the death squads and Iran to be incredibly open and brazen in their attempts to destabilize Iraq? The Rule of Law has left the Muslim world almost entirely unscathed for a milenia - a few overactive and overimaginative JAGS and ignorant reporters hounding our soldiers day and night is supposed to cure the sickness of the Muslim world .... what, by example?

Who among us is really convinced deep down inside that Japan and Germany would have FOREVER renounced warfare and fascism, given women equal rights and become hardcore democracies absent the conflagrations of Dresden and Tokyo?

If anything, the most hideous forms and effects of the Islamic Death Cult is far more ingrained and committed in the Middle East.

To think that our half-measures and soldiers-as-heavily-armed-social-workers/targets is going to reform this region is the real form of "laziness."

1/23/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Taumarunui said...

Here's what Jim Webb said in the Democrat's response to the State of the Union Address:

"As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. "When comes the end?" asked the general who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War II. And as soon as he became president, he brought the Korean War to an end.

These presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this president to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way."

Just how did Dwight Eisenhower bring the Korean War to an end? Col. Tom Snodgrass, writing at American Thinker, explains:

"This disparity of total vs. limited war objectives first became apparent as the Korean War dragged on and President Truman's administration could find no way to conclude the conflict. When President Eisenhower assumed the presidency from Truman in 1953, he quickly recognized the logical solution to the strategic conundrum was shifting U.S. war-fighting from limited to total war means, and he thereby ended the Korean War by communicating to the communists his intention of escalating with nuclear weapons if the communists persisted in their total war objectives. Civilian limited war advocates should have seen the glaring fallacy of their theory at this point, but they didn't. For his part, Eisenhower did not believe that limited war could remain limited.

As a warrior who knew war first-hand, President Eisenhower opted for a historically-based defense doctrine of "Massive Retaliation," which promised an all-out nuclear attack on the Soviet Union in the event of aggression. Throughout the better part of the 1950's, Eisenhower's national security strategy insured that there was no military superpower confrontation. Because Eisenhower had doubts that a "limited war" would remain such, his over-all national security policy, called the "New Look," was based on the unstoppable nuclear striking power of Strategic Air Command. During this period of relative peace, Democrat political opponents and social-science civilian theorists were in constant chorus that the New Look Massive Retaliation was simply too risky for the country and the world."

If we are to take Webb at his word, and we assume he actually knows how Eisenhower ended the war, then it appears we should use the nuclear option to end the war in Iraq. A previous Democrat president used the nuclear option to end World War 2. Nice to know the Democrats have a simple solution to the war. A lot of Americans, frustrated at the PC way this war has been fought, would agree.

1/24/2007 12:37:00 PM  

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