Can the jihadists win?

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The stock argument used by those arguing against the War on Terror is that the terrorists cannot possibly win.  These people believe that even if America did not take military actions against Islamic jihadists, the jihadists could not defeat the US.  This is false.  The Clausewitzian cliche’ here is that war is an extension of politics.  In this case terrorism is an extension of politics.   Al-Qaeda need not destroy all of America’s military forces, or its infrastructure, or imprison large swaths of its population in prison camps.  It only needs to change the way people think and vote.  It has already done this.

In 2004 an Islamic terrorist cell inspired by al-Qaeda detonated 10 bombs in a Madrid train terminal, killing nearly 200 people and wounding over 2000.  Three days later the Spanish Socialist Party was elected to office, ousting the incumbent conservative prime minister,  Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, from office.  The Socialist Party leadership then implemented legislation to remove the 1500 Spanish troops from Iraq, as it was determined that the prime motivation for the bombings was Spanish contribution to the Iraq War.

Through the ballot box, terrorists rendered Spain’s military combat ineffective in Iraq.  That’s something that a modern-well equipped army would have had a much tougher time accomplishing were it to adhere to the old rules of locating enemy military assets and destroying them until the opposing government capitulated.  Instead, the opposing government was rendered ineffective through the democratic process.

Personal security is the number one concern of the animal.  Hobbes knew it and Abraham Maslow came close to knowing it.  Maslow placed the need for food, sleep, and sex above (or below at the base of his pyramid) the need for personal security.  However, I disagree.  People will give up food, sleep and sex if they are immediately threatened with physical harm.  I’m quibbling.  Obviously the imminence of the problem comes in to play.  Either way, physical security is very important.  Societies do not progress without it; all the people’s minds stay focused on war and fighting for security.

The terrorist must sow the idea of imminent attack.  The victim population must come to believe that the terrorists can move freely about, that any lull in violence is the choice of the terrorists and not because security forces are limiting the terrorists abilities to move, plan, build bombs and attack.  The media plays a huge roll in modern terrorism.  Not only in changing the minds of ordinary civilians, but in motivating and recruiting other terrorists.  The internet is rife with jihadist propaganda.   Another argument against the War on Terror is that the dangers of being killed in a terror attack are so small, any great fears of terrorism are based on illusions.  To some extent this is true.  However, were America’s military and police not constantly on watch, I believe that 9-11 or the Madrid train bombings would be a monthly occurance, at the very least.

Through the ballot box, the jihadists can win.  And they can do it with far less damage and effort than it takes to win a conventional war.  In many places in Europe, it’s now illegal to make any derogatory comments about Islam.  Many in the West view their tolerance of other cultures as proof of moral superiority.  Any talk of why another culture’s practices are evil or not acceptable are viewed as proof of hate mongering.  These cultural relativists have little idea of what true hate mongering is, but they’ll get a glimpse of it as their culture is changed slowly through the democratic process to a place more comfortable to extreme Islam.

Or maybe they won’t even realize it when it happens.

The truly frightening thing about the power of culture is that a person ensconced within the living tomb of a dying society can be experiencing hell but barely realize it.  There is no experience of not living in Hell.  Hell becomes the default for life.  It goes a long way in making the Buddhist argument that man should reduce his expectations and desires, not increase them.  Europe is dying a slow death.  It’s birthrates are catastrophically low.  The Muslim birthrates are about 4 to 5 times higher than white Europeans.  The low European birthrate will have multiple negative effects.  First, the current European economic model cannot be sustained.  If one thinks that America has looming economic problems because of its social security system, it’s nothing to what Europe faces.  Not only do Europeans have much more generous retirement and unemployment benefits, they barely have any military to speak of.  As fewer young people are injected into the work cycle, fewer people are paying into the government handout system.  This is exactly what happened in Greece.  By 2040 or so, the Greek retirement system will absorb 25% of the Greek GDP.  The rest of Europe will follow in domino fashion.  At some point we may wake up to find ourselves in a political system more akin to that desired by totalitarian theocrats than to Western democracy.  We may not even know the difference.

Secondly, a rising Muslim population in relation to white European population will spell more votes for Muslims.  If you don’t think that will have real, negative impact on the continent, take a look at the pew report that shows 75% of Muslims polled don’t believe that Arabs took part in the 9-11 attacks.  Not enough?  40 percent of British Muslims want Sharia in their country.  Sharia courts are used in Britain to settle Muslim civil cases.   Terrorism has worked and it’s not because we fought back.  It’s because many continue to believe that by changing laws in Muslims’ favor, it will somehow change the way many Muslims feel and believe.  However it’s not working out that way.  By changing the laws and customs of our culture, we’re merely changing ourselves.  Sometimes changing ourselves is good.  It’s just difficult to believe, when we look at the state of every predominately Muslim country around the world, that that’s what we want to change into.

Yes, the jihadists can win.  The oddity of democracies is that they can be changed in different way than oligarchies.   They can be changed merely because the people feel like changing laws.  When the West stops fighting for what made it great, when we think that by passing laws to appease the more brutal and aggressive people among us, militant Islam will be well on its way to winning.  The people will lose faith in their state’s ability to protect them from aggression, and so will live only for today, which means a cycle of appeasement that brings transient comfort to those who cast the momentary vote, but condemns future generations to the slippery slope greased with the hanging chads of weakness and cowardice.

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18 thoughts on “Can the jihadists win?

    WTP said:
    October 11, 2011 at 2:17 am

    Sort of agree, but I see it from the opposite side of a chicken/egg argument. This country was weakened a long time ago by the useful idiots and their teachers. The Jihadists just had the dumb luck of being the beneficiaries of the left’s work. The Jihadis probably can’t believe their luck because they don’t begin to understand it. If they did, they could make even more effective use of their resources. It’s somewhat similar to a cargo cult.

    magus71 responded:
    October 11, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I do think there are people in the jihadist movement that are quite clever. I’ve heard that some of them studied the homosexual movement in the US in order to understand how such a small group could have such a large influence. Then we look at the ground zero mosque. I admit there must have been more than a few moments when the jihadis said to themselves: “The Americans are going to let us do what?” But I’m sure they believe it’s some sort of curse from Allah upon the senses of the West.

    Yes, the useful idiots have been at work since the Soviets were around. It’s the same type of mentality and they learned their trade in the same places: Big universities.

    WTP said:
    October 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    “I’ve heard that some of them studied the homosexual movement in the US …” That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that but it doesn’t surprise me. Though my relatively ignorant reading of the more extreme Muslim societies leads me to believe their interest in such were a bit more corporeal than strategic. They just got lucky on the strategy part. Again, cargo cult. I could think of several more effective movements that one could mine when looking for western weaknesses.

    As for some in the Jihadist movement being quite clever, I don’t doubt that either. It’s not unusual to find a relatively smart person in a group of numbskulls. It’s fertile territory for power. See any cult. This is why I get a bit nervous when the temptation comes to underestimate the enemy. On the other hand, you certainly shouldn’t overestimate them either.

    anonymous said:
    November 8, 2011 at 9:29 am

    I typed out several responses and deleted all of them because none of them really got to the bottom of how I felt about this post. I’m circumspect because I’ve read a few of your posts and think you are an articulate, intelligent person. I don’t want to offend you or have you feel that I’m pigeon-holing you, because I’m not. In fact, I respect you too much to be anything less than frank at this point.

    This post is profoundly racist. Not in a boisterous, crude sense. You couch the racism in a bigger conflict – that of the USA versus terrorism – and extend the sins of a few fanatics to implicate an entire race. After reading a good deal of your blogs, I notice a disturbing tendency to explain matters in terms of twos; it’s always one group versus the other, one idea versus the other, one trend versus the other. The world is extremely complex, and things are almost never as they seem. Enemies can be friends (ex. a drill sergeant who gives you discipline) and friends can be enemies (ex. a long-time friend who suddenly takes up heroin and convinces you to join him).

    A book that I think you could derive great value from is Edward Said’s “Orientalism,” though I can say now that you probably won’t agree with what he says. That, however, is not the point. Said was a Palestinian intellectual who put out a lot of considered work throughout his life, and commented on the relationship between the USA and the Middle East. If you understand what the “West” looks like to this “Non-Western” man, you may understand more about why our society works the way it does.

    Here’s a quote to whet your appetite:
    “So far as the United States seems to be concerned, it is only a slight overstatement to say that Muslims and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists. Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Moslem life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Arab world. What we have instead is a series of crude, essentialized caricatures of the Islamic world presented in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression.”

    And as far as your insulting use of the term “useful idiots,” your tying of university education to authoritarianism, and the implicit assumption that academia is some kind of destructive force: we all make mistakes. European Communists like Jean-Paul Sartre never saw a KGB agent yank someone’s fingernails out for having the wrong book in his backpack. People like that were more ignorant than idiotic, and you know what? Almost all of them drew back from Communism when the atrocities of the Soviet Union came to light after the Iron Curtain fell.

    And you sure as hell don’t need a university education to be somebody’s idiot.

    magus71 responded:
    November 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    My longish, previous reply was deleted when I was accidentally logged out while typing..

    To summarize what I said in the deleted reply:

    1) I do not believe I or the article is racist. If the article were racist it would imply that semetic races are genetically predisosed to cultural decline. I do not believe this is the case. However, I do believe that many Arab and other Muslim nations are *culturally* predisposed to decline in our times.

    2) Any accusations of racist American foreign policies or gamesmanship in the name of oil must be juxtaposed against the obvious: That there are plenty of brown skinned people around teh world that America has excellent economic relations with and is not at war with. Japan and India come to mind. Also, the race mongers have to explain why America has given 11.2 billion dollars to Afghanistan–a country with no oil. And must also ask themselves why America would go to war in Iraq only for oil when we could have bought all the of the oil in that country for the money the war cost us–and America could have taken all of Iraq’s oil, but didn’t it gave it to the Iraqi government. And they have to explain why Egypt, for several years, has been second to only Israel in the amount of American aid money received. Egypyt–brown skinned Muslims with no oil. Israel–no oil. Israel populated by semetics.

    I’ll stick with Occam’s Razor: We are fighting some people of Islamic faith because they want to fight. We are fighting with a warlike culture that is in its death throes. This is not racism. It is what I and others see. It is not the only culture dying right now–Russia is going down fast, losing 700,000 people per year–massive demographic problems. And when cultures begin to die, they begin grabbing at whomever or whatever is around them in hopes of finding purchase. But ghistory tells us that cultures almost never die from external sources but internal ones.

    anonymous said:
    November 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    “However, I do believe that many Arab and other Muslim nations are *culturally* predisposed to decline in our times.”

    Then the article is prejudiced against Muslims, and that is just as bad. My comments stand. The fear of the “other” is strong here. You cannot reasonably tar a whole culture with the brush of “incompatible with us.” Islam doesn’t kill people, people kill people.

    “2) Any accusations of racist American foreign policies or gamesmanship in the name of oil must be juxtaposed against the obvious: That there are plenty of brown skinned people around teh world that America has excellent economic relations with and is not at war with. Japan and India come to mind. Also, the race mongers have to explain why America has given 11.2 billion dollars to Afghanistan–a country with no oil. And must also ask themselves why America would go to war in Iraq only for oil when we could have bought all the of the oil in that country for the money the war cost us–and America could have taken all of Iraq’s oil, but didn’t it gave it to the Iraqi government. And they have to explain why Egypt, for several years, has been second to only Israel in the amount of American aid money received. Egypyt–brown skinned Muslims with no oil. Israel–no oil. Israel populated by semetics.”

    I would never think that politicians of the modern age were big enough idiots to fight out their personal prejudices with the armies of our country. But you’ve got a bunch of military suppliers and industry reps whispering in their ears, people who have massive stockpiles of materiel that they want to sell. War’s good business. It’s good business to hunt impoverished Persian insurgents with multi-million dollar technology. Not to mention the people that make money building infrastructure in countries like Afghanistan, accepting the American taxpayer’s dime to build roads on the other side of the planet. Why does the government do what it does, why does it go to war? I don’t think anybody will ever know. The web of interests is so dense that it seems impossible.

    We don’t have any more reason to trust what American politicians than we have reason to trust Pakistani ones. Their interests completely, utterly different from ours. If the economy tanks, they’ll be fine. If World War III starts, you bet they’ll be protected. I would prefer to judge their actions before believing the pretexts they supply for them. It’s more important to consider what they stand to gain through their policies than what we do.

    “I’ll stick with Occam’s Razor: We are fighting some people of Islamic faith because they want to fight. We are fighting with a warlike culture that is in its death throes. This is not racism. It is what I and others see…But history tells us that cultures almost never die from external sources but internal ones.”

    I imagine that Arabs are saying the same things about us. Perhaps you’re right – maybe it isn’t so complex. When it comes down to it, the people that pick up guns and fight aren’t the ones who have intimate knowledge of the situation and know exactly what the proper medicine is.

    You could just as easily use Occam’s Razor to say “We are fighting some people of Islamic faith because we like to fight.” Our culture glorifies war, makes video games about it, imagines it to be a tool of global democracy or a quick fix for diplomatic difficulties with “weak” countries. We leave military bases all around the world, and we spend trillions on fighting wars. Most of the materiel insurgents used was made by us, or made by the Soviets when they were preparing to fight us. We’re all about war.

    But you know what? Ten years after the terrorists provoked us with 9-11, it looks like they’ve kicked our ass. America is so deep in debt that it will probably never get out. Its political system has ceased to function, is guided by special interest power blocs, and has lost the confidence of the population. TV shows like 24 think that terrorists want to get a hold of nukes and blow up major cities, but that’s bullshit. They’d much rather poke us in the eye, run away, then say “see, I told you they were decadent buffoons!” as our country ruins itself with short-sighted reactionary policies. It’s like you said: “cultures almost never die from external sources but internal ones.” If we’re beating the terrorists right now, I would hate to see what losing looks like.

    magus71 responded:
    November 8, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    “Then the article is prejudiced against Muslims”

    Prejudice means to “pre-judge”, that is to make assessments before knowing the facts. I’m not doing that. If what you mean is that I’m making value judgments on the performance of different cultures, then you are correct.

    “Then the article is prejudiced against Muslims”

    The left cannot have it both ways. It cannot say on one hand that the terrorists are of little consequence and the war on Terror is a massive overreaction and on the other hand say that the most powerful military in the history of the world is losing to the terrorists.

    But if you think we’re losing, I pose the same question to you that I did some people in Afghanistan: Would you rather be us or the Taliban right now?

    You, like most Americans, don’t really know what it’s like to be on the losing end of war. Let’s just say the Taliban aren’t shopping at the local mall.

    magus71 responded:
    November 8, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    “War’s good business.”

    Peace is much, much better business. For every one defense contractor profiting because of the wars, there would be 100 profiting in stable, peaceful environments with free markets.

    anonymous said:
    November 9, 2011 at 2:22 am

    “Prejudice means to “pre-judge”, that is to make assessments before knowing the facts. I’m not doing that. If what you mean is that I’m making value judgments on the performance of different cultures, then you are correct.”

    How exactly do you rate the “performance of different cultures?” What is the performance that they’re doing? What’s this big goal we’re all trying to achieve, and how do we do it better than the Muslims? Are you really so familiar with Muslim culture that you can dismiss as inferior?

    “The left cannot have it both ways. It cannot say on one hand that the terrorists are of little consequence and the war on Terror is a massive overreaction and on the other hand say that the most powerful military in the history of the world is losing to the terrorists.

    “But if you think we’re losing, I pose the same question to you that I did some people in Afghanistan: Would you rather be us or the Taliban right now?

    You, like most Americans, don’t really know what it’s like to be on the losing end of war.”

    Granted, failure would not look the same for us as it does for the Taliban. The stakes are far, far lower for us. That said, we can still “lose.” It isn’t as if our cities were aflame or millions of bodies are stacked outside our towns. The terrorists don’t even have the manpower to do such a thing.

    I guess a better word to replace “lose” would be “make fools of ourselves and tank our economy.” The War on Terror didn’t need to be an invasion; why didn’t the government just dispatch covert ops to kill high-value targets? When they finally got Bin Laden, they didn’t do it by sending tanks into Abottabad. They found the son of a bitch and shot him. Why couldn’t we have just done that?

    We can in fact say that America has overreacted to a relatively minor threat, and despite the strength of our military, we are losing. Or more precisely, America’s people are losing. America’s future generations are losing when they are asked to foot the bill for wars like this.

    It isn’t patriotic to support a war that is doing more harm than good for us.

    “Peace is much, much better business. For every one defense contractor profiting because of the wars, there would be 100 profiting in stable, peaceful environments with free markets.”

    That doesn’t make sense. How would arms manufacturers, civilian contractors, and military contractors profit from peace?

    This will definitely be of interest to you:
    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/08152008/watch.html

    anonymous said:
    November 9, 2011 at 2:43 am

    But on the subject of prejudice, can you tell me specifically the ways in which Muslim culture is “*culturally* predisposed to decline in our times,” and how you came to know this?

    wtp said:
    November 9, 2011 at 4:04 am

    “We don’t have any more reason to trust what American politicians than we have reason to trust Pakistani ones.” Typical lefty thinking. All bad is equally bad. You have no idea what life in a real culturally repressive society is like. The damage done to trust, the inability to form trustworthy alliances to keep truly evil power in check, the extreme income and power inequality that goes on in such societies pale in comparison to such complaints in Western societies. Perhaps you have casual friends from such societies. Perhaps you’ve even visited some. But you cannot possibly have any idea what it’s like to live in them. The deep psychological damage that is done to such people is the real crime. People go through tremendous effort, take huge risks for both their own lives and the lives of their families to get into this country. To treat our two societies as if they are in any way equal is to be blind to the real world we live in. Relatively speaking, you should be kissing the feat of even our most corrupt poiticos. The worst of them are not nearly as bad as your average third world bureaucrat.

    “That doesn’t make sense. How would arms manufacturers, civilian contractors, and military contractors profit from peace?” – it was obvious to me he meant for 1 defense contractor there are 100 non-defense contractors who would make much more money. With all that extra wealth not being taken out of the economy, economic growth would be considerably higher.

    As for your “why didn’t we just find the son-of-a-bitch and kill him”…You have no earthly idea what you are talking about. You’ve watched too many CSI episodes and Bourne Identity movies. Your perception of reality is warped by much thinking with little doing.

    anonymous said:
    November 9, 2011 at 4:51 am

    “The worst of them are not nearly as bad as your average third world bureaucrat.”

    Except they have governance over many, many more fates than your average third-world Verres. Their corruption has real potential to affect people outside of the country’s borders.

    “You have no idea what life in a real culturally repressive society is like.”

    Assumption.

    “To treat our two societies as if they are in any way equal is to be blind to the real world we live in.”

    I never did.

    “Typical lefty thinking.”

    Ad hominem. Also, there are more than two political options in this world.

    “You have no earthly idea what you are talking about. You’ve watched too many CSI episodes and Bourne Identity movies.”

    Ever read about the Israeli response to the Munich Massacre of 1972? It’s an example of well-executed counter-terrorism.

    “Your perception of reality is warped by much thinking with little doing.”

    Assumption. All I’ve done is say something that you refuse to consider critically.

    Your insulting response disinclines me to say much more.

    anonymous said:
    November 9, 2011 at 5:02 am

    And as far as my political opinions are concerned, I’m a Realist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realism_(international_relations)). Favorite president is Eisenhower.

    magus71 responded:
    November 9, 2011 at 7:18 am

    “That doesn’t make sense. How would arms manufacturers, civilian contractors, and military contractors profit from peace?”

    As WTP points out, I’m saying that other companies, not just defense contractors, have an interest in promoting and selling their products in these countries. Wouldn’t McDonalds like to have several restaurants in Kabul? Why is it said that only defense industry is whispering in the ears of politicians? Without peace and stability, there is no economic growth. And economic growth comes from people hiring workers and innovating. These two things do not happen where there is too much instability and violence.

    magus71 responded:
    November 9, 2011 at 7:36 am

    “I imagine that Arabs are saying the same things about us”

    So you think we’re doing as poorly as the Arabs? Make no mistake about it–they want what we have-power and money. They just don’t want to do what it takes to get it. How do you explain the success of Israel? Is it merely the money given to it by America? As I said, Egypt isn’t far behind in the amount of money it’s given by the US, and yet why the vast difference in quality of life? How many Nobel Prizes have the Egyptians won in the last 100 years compared to what Israeli Jews have won in the last 10? How much technological innovation has the Arab world contributed in the last century compared to what Israel has accomplished with only 8 million people?

    Why?

    Culture that’s why. The Arabs have created a culture of failure. It’s up to them to fix it and it’s not the US’s or Israel’s fault, though of course I do find it interesting that bin Laden’s diatribes always closely matched that of the American Left. It was the same thing when the Soviets were around. I’m sure whomever the next enemy is, the Left will immediately read his manifesto and parrot what is found therein.

    wtp said:
    November 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    “Ever read about the Israeli response to the Munich Massacre of 1972? It’s an example of well-executed counter-terrorism.” – which proves my point. You have no concept of the complexities involved. Reading about things may inform to some degree but can never be a substitute for real world experience.

    ““To treat our two societies as if they are in any way equal is to be blind to the real world we live in.”
    I never did.” – I said in any way. You said that the Pakistani and US politicians worthy of a similar level of trust.

    As for pointing out my assumptions, your posts here are full of them. As I said, typical lefty thinking. Picking apart other points of view but when the same level of criticism comes your way, you go into defensive mode. And then your feelings are hurt.

    “Typical lefty thinking” is ad hominem. I take it “This post is profoundly racist” is not. Perhaps the way of thinking you’ve been taught in school is what is at fault here.

    Anonymous said:
    November 9, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    No, WTP, “This post is profoundly racist” is not ad hominem.

    You don’t understand what I am saying, and you have not understood it from the outset. Your reductionist arguments are based on imagined premises.

    VXXC said:
    September 13, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    This isn’t the main problem, which is within American Government. This is a symptom. As is welfare, insanely inflated money, fiscal madness and all the rest.

    This being true even if Islam is a discrete issue on it’s own it’s still not the Primary and Paramount Duty.

    The Primary Duty is what is to be done over the Evil and Insane – and Weak – in Power in America? That is Paramount.

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