Thursday, August 04, 2005

From ‘What Is The War’ Religion, Politics, And Legitimacy

“From bin Laden's 1998 fatwa:

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, 'and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God.'

Clearly, bin Laden advocates the use of terrorism as a means of changing the behaviour of governments: His goal is the removal of Western troops from Muslim lands, and the creation of a single Islamic state throughout the Middle East. This seems to me political by definition. Bin Laden's objectives may be somewhat more abstract and grandiose than those of the Irish Republican Army or the Zionist Irgun, for example, but his objectives are still political, albeit a politics which is completely entwined with religion.

As to Nelson's claims about legitimacy, I also regard both the means and ends of Islamist terrorism as illegitimate, but I'd offer that legitimacy is in the eye of the beholder. In the view of a very small minority of fundamentalist Muslims, the al Qaeda ideology (and at this point al Qaeda is much more an ideology than it is an organization) and the violence it inspires are legitimate responses to what they perceive as an aggressive and invasive West. This is certainly not meant to justify or excuse terrorism, only to point out that it matters very little whether Nelson or I consider it legitimate. For those willing to kill and die for this ideology, its legitimacy is a matter of fact.… ”

It's past time to start taking Al Qaeda at its word. Al Qaeda means "the base" and tha's precisely what we're dealing with. Not a base like Fort Campbell or Dix, but base like a B-team whose purpose is to support A- teams. Al Qaeda trains and supports the trainers, provides strategic goals, but doesn't dictate tactical decisions. If we're to defeat them we must deal with them as they are, not as we believe them to be.
con·cept: From ‘What Is The War’ Religion, Politics, And Legitimacy