Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Monday, April 14, 2003

When in doubt, keep digging.

Beyond the U.S.-led coalition's battlefield successes in Iraq lies an ominous specter - the coming wave of terrorism. Americans should brace themselves.

That warning aims not to alarm people but to alert them to real possibilities so that the next attack will not surprise them as Sept. 11, 2001, did. Shock, disgust and anger, yes, but not surprise.

It's impossible to predict when and where the carnage will commence, just as the timing and targets of the 9-11 perpetrators eluded the best efforts of terrorism monitors.

But an increase in terrorism inevitably will follow the war in Iraq - an ironic outcome of an intervention that strives, among other goals, to break the decades-long connections between Baghdad and various terrorist organizations.

Even if the U.S.-led coalition succeeds in winning the war, securing the peace and - ideally with U.N. assistance - establishing a stable successor government in Baghdad, terrorists have found new inspiration to lash out at American interests.

Actually this article isn't too overboard but, I find the basic idea that overtrowing Saddam will create more terrorism is something I find highly debatable.

For one, the predictions of doom about attacks over Afghanistan and Iraq have failed to come true. If people see a free Iraq and hate America more for it, what exactly would have defused that hate? These are people who have already decided that America must be fought, the hate already exists in their heart, seeing cheering Iraqis in Baghdad didn't create it.

Part of the threat springs from Saddam Hussein loyalists, who should be expected to use every weapon at their disposal. For them, death looms in virtually all directions, whether from U.S.-led forces or Iraqis yearning for retribution. That bleak outlook makes the loyalists extremely dangerous.

Part of the problem of this analysis is to assume that Saddam loyalists will make good terrorists. They have proven excellent at oppressing civilians and may even understand tactics involved in warfare but I have seen no proof that they have a deep knowledge of guerilla warfare. They are bieng advised by Russians whose idea of asymetric warfare is levelling Grozny. Saddam, even if he is alive, will not make a good guerilla leader. And his forces who are not trained to be independent and to exploit opportunites by using initiative will not do well in this type of environment.

Another threat comes from al-Qaeda operatives. They slipped into Iraq long before the war started, not in the interest of aiding Saddam but to advance their group's influence.

Ultimately - and this extends the terrorism threat from Iraq to the entire world - al-Qaeda seeks to remake civilization according to its narrow, restrictive vision and perverted interpretation of Islam.

This is totally out of place. Al Qaeda was, at the very least, involved with Ansar al Islam and we may yet find proof of their involvement with the regime. A free Iraq does nothing to help their influence spread. Nor does it in any way aid their war against the civilized world.

Al-Qaeda had a global strategy long before Sept. 11. But after the United States declared a war against terrorism, the group expanded its own efforts to develop a multinational coalition of terrorists.|

The evidence of the planning and the make-up of the terrorists and their abbetors shows that this effort was underway long before America declared war on terrorism.

For evidence of al-Qaeda's plans, one need look no further than a recently revealed audiotape purporting to feature Osama bin Laden. Whether the voice on the tape belongs to bin Laden or not, the danger is clear.

He and his cohorts wish to create the perception that the United States heads a global campaign against Muslims, essentially a modern crusade. Bin Laden thus invites Muslims to join in what he has termed a struggle between Islam and the infidels.

Bin Laden has been saying this for years. One need only look at past decrees ad 'fatwas' such as his original declaration of war on the West.

One detects a sense of urgency in the audiotape, perhaps stemming from a perception by al-Qaeda that the United States and its allies have enjoyed too many successes in the war against terrorism.

But Americans should not delude themselves into thinking that losses will discourage al-Qaeda from returning to the fight. Its operatives have vowed to struggle against all odds, suffer severely and even die. Along the way, they exhibit extraordinary patience, scheming in terms of years and decades with an unerring focus.

I think this is a misreading of the culture surrounding al-Qaeda and its supporters. They need 'victories' (dead Westerners) and an appearance of strength in order to gain recruits. If they are losing everywhere and every prediction they make turns out to not come about they lose prestige. This is a shame/pride culture. Further failures and losses will only serve to disillusion those who may wish to join Osama's cause. Sure there will always exist those who will join but, the fall of Iraq will not gain new supporters in the long run.

Al-Qaeda recruiting videos do not show the Western victories in Afghanistan, the Gulf War, the Six Days War and the like. They show Mogadishu, the USS Cole, September 11th, the first World Trade Center bombing, Danny Pearl's murder, the Tunisia synagogue bombing, Bali, Khobar Towers and other 'glorious victories'. For all the ranting about 'occupation' from Israel to Saudi Arabia and the 'imperialist' West, it is the images of 'victory' that draw recruits, not defeats.

< email | 4/14/2003 11:37:00 AM | link

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