February 13, 2004

The Multiple Levels of War

Steven Den Beste is probably right that Al Queda will probably not simultaneously nuke 30 US cities. Where he's wrong is that he thinks this matters.

If you look carefully, you will note that the name "Muslim Brotherhood" crops up now and again in discussions about Al Queda. If you look at the history of what normal civilized people have been worried about from terrorism, much of what was feared would come out of the Muslim Brotherhood of decades ago actually came to pass not from that organization, but from Al Queda. The fear was right, the organization that did it was wrong. So any analysis of a particular threat by a particular organization is, at some level, pointless.

Some people dropped out of the Muslim Brotherhood, others use its umbrella for peaceful reform purposes, and others moved over to Al Queda without changing their violent, reactionary beliefs one iota. The organizational letterhead used to in the planning and execution of death cultist strikes against civilization is fundamentally unimportant at the strategic level (though it can have local, tactical importance in breaking up particular plots).

The fundamental problem is the nihilistic death cult that is popping up in several variants around the world and which attitudinally bind a number of seemingly disparate movements together. North Korea has nothing to do with Islam but everything to do with a lack of respect for the dignity of human life. At a certain point, Wretchard's feared scenario of multi-city nuclear bombing will likely take place by a branch of the death cult unless the entire cult is discredited and destroyed across the entire globe.

The danger of SDB's analysis is that it plays into a repeat of the international security community's dismissal of the December 1994 GIA hijacking and attempted destruction of the Eiffel Tower. Al Queda's being dismantled so the nuclear proliferation problem is still bottled up and relatively safe, right? Wrong.

Even if Al Queda entirely disappeared today as a functioning organization, thousands who had undergone training and hundreds of thousands who are influenced by the cult would still exist. The non-muslim variants would be affected even less. And a new organization would rise up to become the new focal point, taking the best of Al Queda's strategy and tactics and personnel and increasing the death cult's threat.

No doubt, one of those things that they would take would be the major nuclear strike scenario that Wretchard speculates on and SDB dismisses. Eventually, they'll get it right. They might get it right slower than we would, less effectively than we would, but they eventually will get it right and millions will die. We can't be comforted with the fact that our actions will delay it so that it will not be us that die but our children or grandchildren. That's just not good enough.

Posted by TMLutas at February 13, 2004 10:54 AM