Monday, September 01, 2003

The Dark Days

Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis delivers another tour de force. He says the character of the War on Terror has changed. Gone are the days of leisurely plotting among the House of Saud, Al-Qaeda and Pakistan's ISI. The days of slow infiltration, cell building and training are over. American intelligence has stripped off the mask. All pretense is at an end. All that is left now is blind, murderous rage. And the rage has wide resonance among Islam's legion of the ignorant, and we will soon feel its lash. Darling quotes Newsweek, and doesn't think it farfetched. Neither does Belmont Club.

At the same meeting bin Laden said he was working on “serious projects,” another ranking Taliban source tells NEWSWEEK. “His priority is to use biological weapons,” says the source, who claims that Al Qaeda already has such weapons. The question is only how to transport and launch them, he asserts. The source insists he doesn’t know any further details but brags: “Osama’s next step will be unbelievable.” The plan was reportedly delayed and revised after the March capture of Al Qaeda’s operations chief, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. U.S. intelligence officials say no one disputes bin Laden’s interest in germ warfare. Nevertheless, they argue, his main priority is to kill Americans by any means readily at hand—and most bioweapons are harder to get and use than many of the alternatives.

The unthinkable will happen. The war will metastize on to the next inconceivable stage. There are no limits any more. Darling links to Salam Pax who uses the bombing at Najaf to illustrate the point:

Beside the significance of assassinating an Ayatollah these fuckers did it in front of an entrance to Imam Ali’s shrine. What idiot would do that? It is the same question everyone was asking about the bombing of the UN building, what sort of person would do this sort of thing? There is nothing sacred anymore. And right after a Friday prayer. There is just so much to this. Hundreds of people beside the Ayatollah, it is totally devastating. ... Whoever did this is pure evil. The UN, an assassination in front of Imam Ali’s shrine. You wonder what will come next. If you ask me I think it will be media.

Once the taboo of targeting newsmen is broken by the Islamists, it will be widely copied throughout the world. The correspondents will chased back to the newsrooms and Bin Laden's "unbelievable" event will come one step closer. On the day it happens the liberal west will be forced to face the terrible essence of the terrorist bomber. Not bravery. Suicide units barely expend a fifth of their rostered numbers each year on missions. A suicide bomber has a higher life expectation than a Lancaster crewman in the UK Bomber Command in World War 2. Not cost effectiveness. A howitzer can deliver ordnance more cheaply than a suicide bomber. But savagery. Jewish toddlers, men working in an office, old folks sitting down to Seder, vacationers on a cruise ship, worshippers in churches, UN bureaucrats, imams before the holiest shrine in Islam are struck precisely because they are sacrosanct.

The War on Terror has been a process of destroying all the remaining conventional taboos which by luck or decency, survived the totalitarian wars of the 20th century. It has become an exercise in discovering the outer limits of sadism. There is no doubt that America has the might and the will to destroy the Enemy. All that is in doubt is whether it can vanquish the foe without becoming like him.