Friday, November 21, 2003

Like a Silver Bullet

Donald Sensing describes the same Muslim civil war discussed in Belmont Club's The Two Front War on Terror, saying "The Muslim Civil War is the most important struggle in the world today". The difference is that the Two Front War on Terror believes there are really two civil wars raging in parallel, one within Islam and another within the West.

Osama Bin Laden had reckoned that after defeating the "stronger superpower" -- Russia -- in Afghanistan, he was one short step from establishing a global Caliphate.  Instead Wahabism found itself in a two-front war on all five continents: the first against American military forces and the second over the very nature of Islam itself. From Malaysia to Riyadh, the echoes of the September 11 are ringing in every mosque, every Islamic forum and every private Muslim home calling each and every one to his separate flag. America too is at war both in the streets of Baghdad and with itself.

Both civil wars were in evidence within hours of each other. While several tens of thousands of British demonstrators were excoriating President Bush, Al Qaeda was busy delivering an object lesson of what happens to those who cooperate with the infidel. They could not have been better timed if they were coordinated. But though their methods varied, the goal was the same: to discourage any rankers from defecting to America, the first by demonstrating their political and electoral ability to tar and feather, and the second by making a bloody example of all those who dare raise a hand to defend themselves.

Osama Bin Laden reasoned that the Western political arena was the decisive battlefield in his campaign to bring the whole world under his brand of Islam and reinstate the Caliphate. To accomplish this, he would have to break the will of the Western ruling elite, which he calculated to be desperately weak. Al Qaeda's arms, though puny, would be increased by the force multiplier of the Western left and their media allies. He might kill only one American soldier for every hundred he lost; but the media would magnify that single death a million times. The American military might have as many battlefield force multipliers as they pleased, but Osama had the only amplifier that mattered. From a political point of view the death of one American would hurt more than the loss of any number of Al Qaeda cannon fodder. And that was as it should be: the aim of jihadi arms was not to actually defeat the kuffar armies on the battlefield: it was to break the kuffar's will to fight on the home front.

When the events following September 11 showed an unexpected willingness among Americans to fight, Osama cunningly observed that the liberal elements of the West were just as craven, or even more so, than he had contemptuously anticipated them to be. After destroying the United Nation's headquarters in Baghdad, it withdrew in haste over the border. A similar attack on UN personnel in Afghanistan produced the same precipitate flight. "We can no longer risk the lives of our expat staff: a dead aid worker can't help anyone", they bleated. Most gratifying of all, every Al Qaeda outrage, though openly avowed by their spokesmen, was instantly blamed upon the United States. The Western will might be broken easily after all. While America might be steadfast, the panic among its European and international allies was just under the surface. Al Qaeda did what desert raiders have always done when facing a militarily superior enemy. They attacked the baggage train.

And joyfully they slew. The Italian contingent in Iraq was bombed, leading to calls from their Communist Party of Italy for their immediate withdrawal. This knocked a ball into the side pocket by prompting Japan to announce that it was going to delay its deployment of peacekeepers. Faltering Muslims felt the lash too. Al Qaeda struck in quick succession at a Saudi expat residential area, a Turkish synagogue and a Kurdish tribal group. In each case, the message was the same: stand with America and die; waver in your sympathies and die. And in neat contradistinction the British "peace activists" added this coda too: fight America and gain celebrity on the BBC. Always on message: the contrast between being an honored Islamic "martyr" in death, or if you preferred, the existence of a hedonistic leftist media celebrity in life on the one hand, with the anonymous and thankless danger of being a coalition soldier on the other.

In Coppola's classic film, Apocalypse Now, the character Colonel Kurtz described how his A-Team had at first gone the rounds of mountain villages, inoculating the children against disease and providing medical treatment for the sick in an effort to win hearts and minds, only to find, upon their return that the Communists had lopped off the arms of each and every child who had received a vaccination. Kurtz was struck 'like a silver bullet' by the realization that the Communists weren't challenging his military capability to defeat them; they were challenging his will to win.

The will to resist evil is the most fragile commodity in the West. It is a flame burned so low that Al Qaeda thinks that one strong blast of wind will extinguish it forever. It flickers so feebly that one American Presidential election or a single battlefield catastrophe could set the stage for the embrace of a thousand years of darkness, the darkness that Europe has been longing for this past century. The 'peace demonstrators' in London last week suggested not so much Trafalgar Square in the heart of modern Europe as ancient Gadara.

When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed ... were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way ... And He was asking him, "What is your name?" ... "My name is Legion; for we are many." And they cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other...? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"  Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. The demons implored Him, saying, "Send us into the swine so that we may enter them." And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank ... and they were drowned in the sea.

The precipice has beckoned to four successive generations in the West; and now yet another master calls them sweetly to the dark.