Friday, March 19, 2004

Further thoughts on Al-Qaeda

Orlando’s substance free witty retort didn’t really carry the conversation forth as much as I would have liked. Although my effective/stated goal take is pretty standard fair among Democrats the opposing view voiced most loudly by neo-cons is that it is a mistake to think of terrorists as logical in any sense. Reading excerpts from Richard Pearle’s “End to Evil” it is clear that their primary model to avoid is Chamberlain and Hitler. Chamberlain, you may recall, was the English prime minister who thought he could placate Hitler with compromise. Chamberlain thought Hitler’s huff and speeches about racial purification and hyper-nationalism were show intended to get votes or power. He couldn’t bring himself to understand anyone honestly being as loopy as the Third Reich. History showed the only way to defeat such a cockamamie foe was to ignore compromise and employ force of arms. So is the neo con take.

To frame it as I did in my previous post, the neo-cons are saying that the mortal seriousness of Al-Qaeda and such groups are such that no thought at all should be given to their effective goals. We should take their stated goal at their word and bring it on. In one sense this really isn’t too important a distinction. Al-Qaeda is our enemy. No one is seriously suggesting we bargain with Osama. But in other sense it’s central: How can we seriously combat Al-Qaeda when we see fixing the root causes of terrorism as appeasement? And how can we possibly destroy terrorism when we focus our national resources on a non sequitur war which only seems to be helping terror recruitment?*

It’s important to remember that “fighting fire with fire” refers to a useless attack which only makes things worse.

I’ll also note that the effective goal doesn’t even need to be consciously held by a group or party. The effective goal of a free market is to promote companies who sell the best products at the lowest prices, even though this is exactly contrary to consciously held interests of everyone involved. Osama may very well think of the Spanish bombing as a victory. He probably also believes that the dinosaurs were created by Jews to eat Muslims.

If we are to really fight Al-Qaeda, we’ve got to finish the job competently in Iraq. If that means foregoing tax cuts to pay for flak jackets, so be it. We need to have more respect for democratic countries even when they don’t agree with us, and stop throwing in our lot with antidemocratic dictatorships like Kyrgyzstan. We need to get tough with Saudi-Arabia to stop funding fundamentalists, diplomatically bear down on Pakistan, and come up with a plan to enlist Europe to help. Though there will always be stragglers, our country has to lead the world, not take off alone.

*Of course, the only thing we can do about it now is try to make the best of Iraq and fire the idiots that got us into this in the first place. In Spain they did exactly that, but only after it was made clear that the ruling party’s lack of integrity in the war on terrorism was worse than the opposition’s anti-Iraq stance.


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