July 17, 2004

"No such thing as 'Al Qaeda'"


In the course of three years' intense study of the issue, I've become convinced that there is -- well, this is a slight exaggeration -- no such thing as 'Al Qaeda'. It is, more precisely, only a name applied vaguely to one of several financing and logistical arms of the Wahabi branch of what could more accurately be called the "Islamic Jihad". Not an army, nor a disciplined network of underground cells, but an historical movement -- and thus more comparable to something like "the Enlightenment" in the West, than to any organized militia. Not to say the Jihad shares ideals with the Enlightenment -- far from it -- but rather, it is similar in being a vast idealistic movement, consciously advanced by men who co-operate as and where they think they can be most effective -- but taking their orders, ultimately, not from men but from "the zeitgeist", or "Allah".

This may sound a very abstract analysis, but it has practical consequences for "homeland security". For starters, it means we cannot draw neat, legalistic lines between who's in and who's out of the cabal. For instance, a journalist working for Al-Jazeera may be every bit as committed to the struggle as a man rehearsing the assembly of a mid-flight bomb. Each is advancing the Jihad by the means most available to him. And, exempting the one from prosecution while arresting the other is entirely obtuse.

Indications especially from the FBI are to expect a major terrorist hit on North America, sometime between now and the U.S. election in November. I think they are right to expect this. The political, economic, and social fallout from such a hit is unpredictably huge. But I am less and less confident that it can be prevented by anything resembling normal police methods. This is because, thanks chiefly to "political correction", we cannot look at the whole Jihad, and are in fact only looking for the pointy bits.

UPDATE: Immediately after posting that excerpt above, I dropped by the Belmont Club to find Wretchard also quoting from Warren, but, as is his wont, taking Warren's thesis to its chilling conclusion:

But the problem with conceding the point to David Warren and Bat Y'eor is that it would cause a revolution in domestic and international politics, something neither the Democratic nor the Republican parties are prepared to do. Domestically it would mean that for the first time in American history, a major branch of a world religion would be declare a de facto enemy of the state. Not people, not a country; nothing with a capital unless it be Mecca, but a system of religious belief. It would strike at the very root of the American Constitutional system, the separation of Church and State. Internationally it would signify that the principal enemy host, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose ruling house is intimately connected and support this ideology, must be overthrown or changed. It would indicate that the Iraq campaign, which cost the Bush administration so much political capital, is not the end but the mere beginning.

One the most most important lessons of the Global War on Terror is how closely linked it is with Western domestic politics. The Madrid bombing of March 11, 2004 and the American Presidential elections are perfect examples. The reason for this is simple. Fighting the Jihadi enemy would mean overturning the 20th century political and economic foundations to their roots. It would mean disrupting the Big Tent of political correctness; putting a prosperity heavily dependent on oil supplies at risk; and replacing an entire paradigm of international relations. For that reason the act of naming Wahabi Islam as the principal enemy will evaded until it is absolutely unavoidable; until after a mushroom or biological cloud puts a period after the debate. The only exit from the madhouse that Warren and Y'eor describe is through the door we fear the most, the one which compels us to recognize the foe with no name.

Also relevant here is an essay published here in October, 2003: American Digest: The War of Two Religions

Posted by Vanderleun at July 17, 2004 10:18 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

The smart folks are awake, or awakening at a good speed. How long will it be before the rest of the country, particularly its political elite, picks up their trail?

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at July 18, 2004 5:33 AM