Warning to Lebanon
The Counterterrorism Blog reports a video message announcing that al-Qaeda has set up a command for Greater Syria and warns the Patriarch of the Christian Maronite church in Lebanon: "pull back your dogs from our people, and cease your artillery fire—or else, from today onwards, there will be no safe place for any crusader in Lebanon ... we give you this final warning that from now on, an ocean of blood will be spilled.
It is a very interesting message because it advances the Christian versus Sunni narrative rather than one between Muslim factions. It also demonstrates the amazing ease with which al-Qaeda can expand the war -- in the Mahgreb, Iraq and within the USA -- by setting up command centers. If past experience is anything to go by the initial al-Qaeda "command for Greater Syria" may be liquidated, but it will be reconstructed again and again. Al-Qaeda's culture allows it to accept huge casualties with equanimity. Not only is the lifespan of a commander expected to be limited to a few years or even months, many of its operators have no expectation of surviving an attack especially in suicide operations.
That kind of persistence will continue until the culture which generates these forces is discredited or changes, as happened with Imperial Japan. It should be remembered that even in late 1945, despite a total superiority in land, air and sea weapons, the US was in near paralytic dread of invading Japan because it understood how fiercely it would be resisted.
Absent the use of weapons of annihilation the sort of which Harry Truman used, an indirect method must be found to discredit or neutralize radical Islamic recruitment within the Muslim world. Unfortunately, no such effort even seems in the offing. For now the enemy is publicly nameless and Islamic "schools" train replacements in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or even London and the US at a rate quick enough to replenish their dead. Radical Islam is outstripping the demoralized West in fighting manpower and the West doesn't even want to recognize it.
And are we generating the right kind of forces?