, March 10, 2003
Art of Peace responded to a comment
I made last week:
looking at the life of Osama Bin Laden and why he does what he does is relevant
(he started in Afghanistan with US and Saudi encouragement), the question of why
a number of Arabs either agree with him or at least don't despise him is more
key to the question of why (and how many) Arabs agree with bin Laden is
in the beliefs themselves. If we intend to cause terrorists to change their destructive
behavior, we will need to adjust their incentives. To do that, we must understand
reading of bin Laden's fatwa seems to focus on the political content. Of course
his blog is political...so it would be natural for his attention to focus on bin
Laden's politics. To me, however, it seems that Islamist politics serves the apocalyptic
narrative. And that narrative is the unifying core of Jihad.
don't think simply giving them charity would help - I think Steven Den Beste of
USS Clueless has a good point
here. Poverty alone isn't the problem. They need a working and productive economy
that will give them purpose and a sense of accomplishment. He feels that first
we must defeat them militarily then make major cultural changes by main force,
and here I disagree."
is correct to say that their are peaceful ways to advance Arab societies that
don't entail the cruel psychic shock of humiliating defeat. When we are at peace
we can use peaceful means.
nominally at peace with much of the Muslim world. We are working constructively
(supporting democratic reform, opening up economies, urging human rights reform,
investing in education) to help them. One could argue that we are not doing enough...and
that is true...but alas, it always true...but still...it is not enough.
there are Muslim groups who are at war with us...and some nations support those
groups. Warfare precludes the application of some peaceful means for several reasons.
Defeating enemies requires denying them resources...you know...starving them out.
Our values insist that we deny access to military resources without harming innocent
CNN effect ensures that we remember those values. It is unsurprising
that the paradoxical sanctions regimes (in Iraq,
Zimbabwe, North Korea for example) fail doubly.
They first fail to deny resources, and second, fail to prevent harm to civilians.
They lead to weapons proliferation (which we don't want) and misery (for which
we are blamed).
Investing in a society requires access to its institutions and government. We
have that access to countries like Turkey, Pakistan...and, to some degree, Egypt
and Saudi Arabia. We can work on reform and literacy programs with them. Maybe
we should be doing more of this, but we're probably close to the limit of what
they will allow.
and Iran (or North Korea for that matter) do not allow us the opportunity to...umm...contribute
to their modernization. While there are some peaceful ways to influence them,
conditions may require us to enforce change. Or conditions there may change and
allow us access in the future...if we have the time and they have the inclination.
But we don't have all the time in the world.
While important parts of this war are being fought by nonmilitary means (law enforcement,
diplomacy, intelligence work, banking reform, propaganda etc) there will continue
to be battles with soldiers. There will be times when it is impossible to help
societies build working economies until their governments are removed. And there
will be times when we can't afford to wait for regime change and must use our
military to accelerate events. We face great dangers and don't always have the
luxury of time.
Denying terrorists sanctuary is a necessary step in neutralizing their threat.
In addition to depriving them of resources, it makes recruitment more unattractive.
When governments protect terrorists, we can't afford to respect their sovereignty.
A successful regime change in Iraq should highlight the choice countries have;
they can choose to have their sovereignty respected, or they can harbor terrorists
and engage in weapons proliferation. In Our
World-Historical Gamble, Lee Harris considers this in some detail.
Den Beste's contention that jihadists must be utterly stripped of their delusions
before they will be able to reform and modernize, looks to the examples of Japan
and Germany after W.W.II. While Iraq isn't Japan or Germany, our goals in Iraq
are similar. David's counterexample of the Crusaders is less comparable. The societies
that produced the Crusaders reformed themselves over a period of centuries through
a process that was not imposed from the outside...but was a result of the realism
that was inherent in the European experience. The oil wealth of the Arab world
has insulated them from the need for realism...and this has weakened Arab societies.
World-Historical Gamble illuminates this problem.
Islamist apocalyptic goal of establishing a global caliphate,
a totalitarian theocracy, is a demented fantasy. Insanity like this can't be cured
by providing clean drinking water. Fantasy is abandoned when reality is ruthlessly
disillusioning. American success in Iraq will begin to make the fantasy harder
to support. Alas, it will require violence to wake the terrorists from their violent
"I'm not saying we would give them money
and they would like us - real care would have to be taken to invest in the nations
which have fought most seriously against terror, and make sure the money was used
to build an economy."
foreign aid has often had a corrupting effect on the recipients. It has also strengthened
tyrants. These results have been unethical and deleterious to our national interest.
Even actions with the most benign intentions can be irresponsible.
proposal that we administer our foreign aid programs more...umm...wisely is a
proposal for radical change. It is interesting that the Bush administration is
in this direction. I think this trend should be encouraged in
the strongest way...even if it means agreeing with Bush. Hahaha.
course not all Muslims will agree with Osama's interpretation, but as we kill
many of those who do, the number is likely to increase rather than to decrease."
is often stated but I've never seen it happen. It seems to be something that people
sort of assume is true. One could as easily say the opposite. The factors that
increase recruitment usually are either improved likelihood of victory or impending
annihilation inspiring a final total defense. As long as we are visibly reducing
the probability of Islamist victory and not threatening genocide, recruitment
will become increasingly difficult. Especially if we continue to make life unpleasant
"Illiteracy and the oppression
of women are also associated with not necessarily poor societies, but societies
which do not participate in the creation of wealth by their own efforts."
I refer you to Our
World-Historical Gamble for discussion of the importance of, "the
creation of wealth by their own efforts."
the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States
is a helpful analysis of the role of illiteracy and the oppression of women in
the failure of societies.
makes good points when he argues that peaceful means are often more effective
(and more desirable) than military action. It is important that we commit ourselves
to maximizing their benefits. But he has yet to offer convincing arguments that
they, alone, are enough to reach our objectives in Iraq (and beyond). Likewise,
his aversion to injuring the wounded dignity of our enemy is a fine sentiment...but
one he may ultimately have to sacrifice to necessity. Today's terrible reality
will ruthlessly tear away our delusions too.
March 30, 2003
to the above comments.
answer him here.