Thursday, February 19, 2015

For the West, it’s time to learn from Osama bin Laden

Despair for America’s future security is a difficult sentiment to subdue as events in the Middle East continue unfolding. The U.S. military can neither win wars – hopefully because of political restraint — nor effectively train Arab armies. The leaders of both U.S. political parties refuse to recognize that ISIS, al-Qaeda, and like organizations are indeed — according to 20-years of their own public words and a quick check of the Koran — waging an increasingly popular religious war against the United States, in large part as a response to Washington’s relentless intervention in the Muslim world. The same political leaders and President Obama and his administration have set themselves up as expert Islamic theologians to endlessly assert that the Islamists are madmen and nihilists who have nothing to do with Islam, which is, more than anything else, a signal that they are determined to help the United States commit suicide by refusing to level with Americans and tell them that they are up to their hips in a deadly religious war in which their own government is the enemy’s main motivator.

Since 2002, I have written four books dealing with Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, and the Islamist movement in general. Each of them is primarily based on the words of writings of bin Laden, his lieutenants, and other important Islamist fighters and leaders. One of the goals of each book was to correlate the convergence of the Islamists’ words and deeds; that is, did bin Laden et al. do what they said they were going to do. Each book found a very high correlation between words and deeds; indeed, it seems likely that the United States has never had an enemy that was and is so willing to tell us in advance what he is going to do, why he is going to do it, and what ends he means to attain. Because of this reality, the Islamist enemy is not at all difficult to understand. When Western political leaders speak of what a complex problem we are facing in the war the Islamists are waging, you can be sure they have either not read what the enemy has publicly said and taken it seriously — a repeat of their predecessors’ catastrophic failure to take Mein Kampf seriously — or that for reasons of political necessity, ideology, or, most likely, faulty educations they simply cannot credit the idea that anyone would be willing to fight and die for their faith in the “enlightened” 21st century.

Because the Islamist leaders have detailed their movement’s motivation, and have then proceeded to do what they said they would do, there is no such thing as “unintended consequences” in this war. The impact of every major post-2001 action taken by both sides in this war was perfectly predictable. For the West that means each of its decisions and actions have yielded perfectly predictable negative consequences. Those consequences could be detailed at length, but it is enough to say that the Islamists’ war against the United States and the West is largely motivated by their interventionist policies and actions in the Muslim world, and the U.S. and Western response to the war the Islamists started has been increased intervention undertaken without any intention of winning and with a willingness to curtail civil liberties in the West in the name of internal security  — a response quietly predicted in the speeches and writings of bin Laden.  The West, in essence, has followed to the letter a script written for its demise, one that has been easily available for reading by all Western leaders since late-summer 1996.

While it is quite late in the game it is worth recalling what bin Laden believed was the one factor that could derail the Islamists’ war against the United States, and perhaps their whole agenda. Bin Laden was very clear that the strategy the mujhaedin had to follow to victory could be divided into three parts. First, to cause enough human and especially economic pain to the casualty-averse, legally hamstrung, and radically impatient United States to drive it as far as possible out of the Islamic world. Second, to thereafter focus on destroying the Arab tyrannies and Israel. Third, to settle the scores with the Shia Muslim heretics. Today, driving the United States from the Islamic world is goal that is close to being accomplished; America has lost two wars there, will lose Obama’s re-intervention in Iraq, and anti-U.S.-Government hatred has grown across the region. On the second point, several of the Arab tyrannies, with U.S., UN, and EU help, are gone, and Jordan and Lebanon probably will be the next to go. These Western-aided victories for the Islamists — and the ones to come — have substantially eroded Israel’s security and yielded a steady flow of new fighters and enormous quantities of modern weapons from the tyrants’ emptied arsenals. Third, in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon it appears that a regional Sunni-Shia sectarian war is being kindled. And that fact would be the great and deeply troubling rub for bin Laden if he was still alive.

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