Thursday, July 06, 2006

Baron's Jigsaw Puzzle

Baron Bodissey at Gates of Vienna has an essay attempting to fit together all the publicly observable pieces of the Islamist phenomenon. What distinguishes Baron's building blocks is that they are not constructed from pre-existing diplomatic or ideological paradigms, but made up the way an ordinary person might from first principles. To the question where do all the mujahedeen who attack the West come from, Baron answers in two ways: this is the paymaster and these are the henchmen. First, who is the paymaster?

To start with, there’s the explosion of Salafist funding. Thanks to the price of oil and the nefariously corrupt regime in Saudi Arabia, the Great Islamic Jihad devours a surfeit of resources the likes of which have not been seen for five hundred years or more. It’s no longer necessary to breach the walls of Constantinople and loot the cathedral, or send pirates out on a razzia to plunder wealthy merchant vessels: all the Saudis have to do is hire infidels to drill for the black goo and then sell it to other infidels. The proceeds from this lucrative racket have been plowed back into Sunni jihad activities across the globe, always disguised as “charity”.

So this is what pays for operations, but whence the cannon fodder to carry them out? All these disparate and disconnected people, training to carry out violence and willing to die in the process — where do they come from?

Now, who are the henchmen?

The Great Jihad goes trolling for potential shahids among convicted felons, particularly in the prisons of the United States, Canada, Britain, and Australia. The enlightened rehabilitative regimes in these countries install Islamic chaplains for their inmates. These religious functionaries are selected and funded by Saudi missionary organizations. Not to be outdone by the Sunnis, Sheikh Gilani’s Jamaat ul-Fuqra has an extensive prison-recruitment operation. ...

But what about the non-cynical converts, the ones who really are willing to die for the cause? What about the true zealots like John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban”? Where do they come from? I had a friend in my college days who was attracted to radical politics. “Power to the People”, “Smash the State”, “Revolution Now” — it was always about sticking it to the Man, questioning authority, and resisting all instances of state power. Nowadays he’s studying the Koran and talking about the power of the Jews, and is seriously considering converting to Islam. ...

In the terms of Chaos Theory, Islam is a “basin attractor”, an asymptotic solution to all the differential equations of nihilistic human behavior. Any impulse that longs to destroy Western Civilization — which, for the modern world, means all civilization — will gravitate towards Islam. The criminal gets ideological justification for his behavior, the sadist gets to rape and murder to his heart’s content, and the hippie radical gets to stick it to the Man for all eternity.

In short, Baron argues that the paymaster is state church funded by oil revenues located in an "allied country". The henchmen are the alienated, even among themselves. Baron's last interrogative is this: "These are the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle called “The 21st Century”, scattered on the table and the floor around you. How might they appear when they’re finally assembled?" To which an honest answer might be, 'like nothing either the Democrats or the Republicans have described; like nothing taught in our most prestigious universities; like nothing likely to be discussed in a serious think-tank".

And that's because it's constructed of pieces that are too fundamental for public intellectuals to manipulate. They already have their notation. They've already have the objects with which they intend to solve the problem. These are multilateral diplomacy, Palestine, Israel, multiculturalism, weapons of mass destruction, sanctions, deterrence, to name a few. The stock-in-trade of men of the world. And from these they are going to construct tower after tower, buttress after buttress and approximate arcs by arbitarily large numbers of square pieces until ... And when these fall to the ground in piles the postmortem will always be what diplomatic misstep did we make? What nuance did we miss? What concession did we fail to give? What country did we fail to invade? And they will start over and over again.

That's not to say that Baron's analysis comprehensively describes the entire Islamist phenomenon or that statesmen have no valid insights; but his analysis goes to the human heart of the matter. Religion, nihilism, culture, crime. All subjects on which Islam has an opinion but of whose existence our public intellectuals have repeatedly expressed doubt. We have stopped thinking ourselves and our beliefs without embarrassment and shame. And for all our diplomacy and weaponry will never be ready to face those willing to die without seeing ourselves portrayed once again in human-sized building blocks; able once more to think in terms of enemies and friends and to set against the darkness, a flame.


Blogger Will Rayford said...

The supply of criminals in the ideologically weak Western nation states is endless. Our own western brand of nihilism is mostly maliable and can be made to fit the hardend spokes of the islamic killing machine. They demand, we supply. Our demand for their oil is also endless and will fund them well into the 21st Century. We demand, they supply. Not good, no, not good.

7/06/2006 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

Wretchard, I thank you kindly for the link, and the excellent analysis.

I think it will become more and more obvious that Islam is indeed a "basin attractor" for nihilistic ideologies and people; they will be sucked into it one by one.

It's like one of those charity money-drops, where children put coins in a slot and watch them spin around and around as they spiral down to the bin underneath. The coins come in from locations on every side, but they all wind up in the same place.

It is, in thermodynamic terms, the "heat sink" of modern times.

7/06/2006 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

There is no "we". With luck, one will stand forth-- bereft of academic credentials, but deeply read like Truman, or like Reagan profoundly true to the American ideal. "We win, they lose"... and remember always, the U.S. deals from strength. Strength of character, strength of purpose, above all strength in altruism, that will not rest until the last Kim Jong-il is strangled with the entrails of the last Caliph. Where Voltaire walks with Thomas Jefferson, "the mightiest dictator trembles on his pedestal" (Churchill).

We think today's looming demographic crisis will wash away not only the fetid Youth Cult beloved of Howard Dean, but the perfervid Leftist hatemongers so enamored of every tinpot satrap extant these last forty years. From Uncle Ho to Mao, Pol Pot, Castro and the Sandinistas, now the egregious monomaniacs infesting Teheran and Pyong-yang, a certain Affective Character Disorder
(ACD) celebrates mass murder by collective Statists while damning every effort by free citizens in their own defense.

These comments are become cliches. But when Andrew Jackson II asserts himself in 2032, we do believe many a Clinton, Dean, and Kerry will find themselves gargling their last expletives. The Class of 1968 reached its inverted prime in 2004; the Boomer Generation slinks away, utterly selfish and unmourned. These guttersnipes ate their seed corn. Now what?

7/06/2006 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

The human mind tends to see patterns in random data, and I think this may be one of the cases. A Christian, Tim McVeigh, blew up the federal building in Oklahoma and it is likely that someone from inside the US military industrial complex was responsible for the anthrax attacks.

7/06/2006 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Speaking of Islamic bombers, it's been a year since the London Subway bombings. One of the suicide bombers recorded a tape before that attack warning of more to come, and now someone has released it to al-Jazeera.

I see this as being a sign of weakness of the terrorists, not strength. A year has gone by and they haven't been able to pull off another attack, as the tape says they would try to do. Al Qaeda seems to mostly fight their wars by video now. If we all turned out TV sets off, we would be invulnerable.

7/06/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

Wu wei --

Notice that I don't include Oklahoma City or the anthrax; I only used the well-established Islamically-linked incidents.

Some paranoids believe that the "third conspirator" in the Murrah Building bombing was an Al Qaeda operative (or an agent of the Iraqi Mukhabarat; take your pick). But I've seen no convincing evidence of that.

7/06/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

Only the locals can watch the crazy locals and inform on them. In Iraq or anywhere.

Saudi Arabia must allow free speech and free religion, or else not receive national sovereignty protection.

The US must convince India or Japan to join in action, for legitimacy.

7/06/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger snowonpine said...

I see someone brought up the almost, it seems, forgotten anthrax attacks. I've always thought that the FBI, apparently much less skilled than TV shows show them to be, prematurely settled on their suspect, Dr. Hatfil, early in the game and just ignored any evidence that pointed in other directions.

In particular, they ignored the fact the the hijackers had connections with/stayed in the cities the anthrax letters were mailed from. Of even more interest, one would have thought, was the report that one of the hijackers, feverish and complaining about black lesions on his body, came into an emergency room a few days prior to 9/11.

After the anthrax attacks, the ER Doctor who treated this hijacker was quoted as saying that, while he couldn't identify the black lesions at the time he examined them, he now believed they could have been caused by anthrax.

Why is it so hard to believe that the hijackers, who were going to die anyway, wouldn't risk exposure to anthrax if it allowed them to prepare and mail the antrax letters as a follow-on attack?

7/06/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

> Why is it so hard to believe that the hijackers, who were going to die anyway, wouldn't risk exposure to anthrax?

Of course they would have taken the risk. But the point is that was military grade anthrax, the best on the planet. It's unlikely Al Qaeda would have been able to get ahold of that. Even if they did, they would have used it in a more lethal fashion, and kept using it instead of stopping. Al Qaeda hasn't used WMD at all, in fact some of their captured people said they didn't start thinking about it until we said how terrible it would be.

I'm not claiming this is proof, because there won't be any until they catch whoever did it. However, until then it seems very unlikely that Al Qaeda got ahold of some of the best anthrax on the planet five years ago, but hasn't managed even a primitive WMD attack since then.

7/06/2006 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

his analysis goes to the human heart of the matter. Religion, nihilism, culture, crime.

Only I read it as "the Saud regime in Arabia is paying nihilistic criminals to kill us."

What country did we fail to invade?

Saudi Arabia

7/06/2006 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger snowonpine said...

Wu Wei--As for the impossibility of getting weapons grade anthrax, according to several news accounts from a few years ago there are four old abandoned and basically unguarded BW manufacturing complexes in Kazakhstan and at at least one of them, I believe it was the complex on an island in the Aral Sea, it was possible to dig a few inches under to soil and still find viable weapons grade anthrax spores. When this story broke the U.S. was concerned enough to start talking of providing money to set up security around these areas under Nunn-Lugar.

7/06/2006 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger Db2m said...

Wretchard, "And for all our diplomacy and weaponry will never be ready to face those willing to die without seeing ourselves portrayed once again in human-sized building blocks; able once more to think in terms of enemies and friends and to set against the darkness, a flame."

I followed your thinking right up to the very last sentence [above], but then got lost, I think, in the syntax, or the symbolism, or the antecedents, or combination thereof. Could you take another whack at that closer, again? Thanks!

7/06/2006 09:57:00 PM  

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