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Thu, Jul. 7th, 2005, 11:05 pm
Terror in London

And, on 7/7/05, London joins the ranks of Western cities attacked by Al Qaida, or one of its affiliates. No expression of sadness will change that this form of coordinated terrorism has become an unfortunate fact of life in our society.

Begin cold analysis: If Al Qaida's goal is terror, that is, scaring the pants out of Westerners so that they'll cede to their demands, then the types of attacks they've accomplished so far work, but only for a short time. Soon afterwards, daily life returns to normal in New York, Madrid, and, eventually ... London. Then, the powers that be lower the "terror threat levels" (or equivalent) and begin preparing for the previous attack. A successful terrorist/terrorist organization wants ordinary people to be in fear at all times. And, the only way to do that is by sustained attacks, similar to what Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Popular Front, etc. do in Israel. They don't have to be large scale, but they do have to hit the daily lives of the general population (bus bombings, shooting attacks on roads). I think that the terrorists understand that too. And, so, the amount of planning and coordination that went into 9/11, 3/11 and 7/7 may betray a weakness in Al Qaida. There probably aren't enough terrorists to sustain attacks. If there were, I don't see why they wouldn't, What that means for us is that we may still have a small window of opportunity to keep the terrorists from gaining in the West. But, every day, that window is getting smaller. A glimmer of hope in the madness?

Fri, Jul. 8th, 2005 04:30 am (UTC)

Why is the window of opportunity getting smaller as time goes on? According to your analysis, I'd say the terrorists would run out of resources. (That is probably naive and optimistic of me. But still, it's my immediate reaction.)

Fri, Jul. 8th, 2005 02:22 pm (UTC)

Because it's likely that the terrorists are constantly recruiting. Right now, according to my understanding (which is based on nothing more than an amateur tactical analysis/conjecture from the information we all have), they only have the resources to mount occasional large, coordinated attacks. But, they probably want the capability to mount smaller, sustained attacks.

I don't think terrorists or terrorism can be erased from existence. There will always be a subset of people who profess extremist ideologies. A subset of those people will be willing to kill other people in the name of the ideology, and a subset of those people will be willing to die to kill other people. One thing I didn't mention, which seems to be the case, is that the Al Qaeda of 9/11 was an actual organization; the Al Qaeda of 7/7 may be an idea. The military can't fight an idea.

If it is to succeed in minimizing terrorist activity, the goal of Western nations in the real "War on Terror" (to borrow a phrase) has to be turning people away from extremism. And, fighting an ingrained idea is a huge challenge.

Fri, Jul. 8th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC)

Ah. I would actually call fighting an ingrained idea impossible; at least when you are the US and the ingrained idea exists primarily in the Islamic nations.

Fri, Jul. 8th, 2005 07:22 pm (UTC)

I'm not so sure about that. I don't think any *one* policy will , and, of course, I don't have a recipe for ending the terrorist threat any more than any other armchair pundit. But, here are a few things: In the short term, follow the money. Someone is promoting this idea to solidify their own power. Cut off the money supply, and the promoters will go down with it. Secondly (and this is one thing that is *not* happening), Western Islam itself will have to provide an example that makes Islamofascism religiously unfashionable. Part of the "battle" is for the collective "soul" of Islam. So far, the extremists are winning. Thirdly, we have to promote democracy -- and that doesn't necessarily mean imposing it by military means. The EU is somewhat successfully using an incentive system to increase democracy/minority rights in Turkey. If there's a visible "democratic advantage," democracy will come about. If the West is beholden to the interests of the autocratic forces, then, this can't happen.

Fri, Jul. 8th, 2005 02:23 pm (UTC)

Widespread fear is a means to an end for terrorists, rather than the objective in and of itself (their predecessors read Fanon). If that end amounts to specific policy changes, and terrorist acts spur the very changes sought by the terrorists, that’s the true measure of “successful” terrorism.

Fri, Jul. 8th, 2005 02:49 pm (UTC)

Then I think we at least agree about their end goal. In a military campaign, the goals are to win both the battles and to win the war. For a terrorist, winning the battles means stoking fear in the enemy populace; winning the war means that the enemy cedes to their demands. In the same way, a successful air strike has the immediate goal of destroying its targets, and the long term goal of advancing the higher military objective.

Mon, Aug. 27th, 2007 09:05 am (UTC)
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