Marching toward a time when “the global Islamist Caliphate will be established and they will achieve ‘definitive victory,'” Bill Roggio analyzes al Qaeda’s plan. His post is based on Yassin Musharbash’s article, “What al-Qaida Really Wants”, in Der Spiegel. Musharbash tells us “Hussein, who is based in Amman, Jordan, has succeeded in turning his correspondence with the terrorists into a remarkable book: al-Zarqawi – al-Qaida’s Second Generation. He quotes liberally (and Roggio quotes him liberally) from the “Seven Phase Plan” Hussein outlines; it “is a scenario, proof both of the terrorists’ blindness as well as their brutal single-mindedness.” However, he warns
It is all too easy to fall prey to disinformation — al-Qaida also excels in this area. Even Hussein’s scenario should be judged skeptically.
His book should therefore be read for what it really is: an attempt to second guess how al-Qaida terrorists think, what they really want and how they propose to get there.
The absence of such planning by our administration may be its great failing – that is certainly the argument of many observers. However, its guiding principle seems to be changing the culture of the Mideast sufficiently to make this seven-step plan fail. Clearly it is that and not bin Laden’s head that is our goal.
Posts like this remind us that it isn’t Bush’s war – it was planned before and will continue long after he is president; if he “chose” to go into Iraq, it was choosing a battlefield on a war already in progress. We are not surprised our opponent’s plan sounds grandiose; we’ve been there before. (Nor are we surprised by Musharbash’s point that these “phases” may well have been cobbled together to rewrite the past to define a reasonable trajectory for the future.) We remember other plans; we also realize a world of laws & of such plans, no matter how invasive nor challenging, can be seductive in its ersatz certainty. Resting in its imposed & complete order, we can imagine a Utopia soon – 2020 he says.
Probably the underlying question is, have we lost the grandeur of our vision of individual responsibility? You can’t understand their culture if you don’t understand ours. And ours is a pretty mundane grandeur – a nation conducted with sufficient civility so that laws are few and choices are made in terms of whether we, that is our awakened conscience, can live with it. We protect our world from anarchy in the subtle ways Harris describes. And our lives are pleasant, are indeed ‘free,” because of assumptions that underlie our culture (that violence is wrong, that a spark of divinity lives in everyone no matter what their race or religion or, indeed, culture, that we protect & respect others as we would want to be protected and respected). But sometimes we may fear that that very subtlety will fail us. And our desire for rules that we can rest in is evidenced in the increasing number of rules and dialogues in which what is “real” and what is “said” depart company–ah, the ever present quote marks about the real.
What strikes me about so much criticism of the war is that it doesn’t take the opposing visions into consideration and quite often projects our values on to those who fight us. Freedom, they argue, is what the insurgents, the terrorists, want. Have they never read the fatwas? Have they never thought what their idea of Utopia would be? Freedom is precisely, of course, what they don’t want. We see some Palestinians want to be free from Israel’s occupation; that we understand. But do we understand that to others, freedom from Israel means that Israel does not exist; it is freedom from the concept of Israel. We argue for freedom & believe it is a universal desire; I suspect it is. But so is the desire for order, for clear if draconian rules – ask John Walker Lindh. The freedom not to have to “deal with” complexity. Lindh’s desire to find a comforting rigidity is dismissed as arising from the rigidity of our own culture. Given his family & his school, that seems unlikely. Besides, why would he have sought such rules for life? He could have chosen to be a free spirit; he did not. He was too young and too confused to be someone on whom we want to base much of a theory.
But I would posit that we do understand a desire for order, for simplicity. And this was a boy crying out for just such order. Some seek a simple order by making the war Bush’s or Rumsfeld’s and demonizing them. (They do, of course, make mistakes. I’m not talking about criticism, though much of it seems to be on a pretty uninformed level.) That is much easier than thinking of a war between ideas that some feel uncomfortable discussing nor of future skirmishes likely to stretch out into the future – all against an enemy difficult to understand.
(Thanks to Instapundit for Roggio.)