Oakes

The "blowback" theory

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If we are to destroy their motivation to kill us, I think it's important to understand those secondary motivations.

But if they're motivated to hatred by the existence of a country that loves success and life, then there are multiple ways to remove their motivation.

One way would be to destroy America. The Left (Michael Moore and his ilk) would like to accomodate them, since they also hate it.

A naive rational person might think that the jihadists can be reasoned with, altering motivation by changing their minds. But the mind - at least, an integrated mind - is what they have rejected. They are compartmentalized; the basic premises have been fixed into stone by faith, leaving other areas of their mind somewhat free to operate (e.g. to plan attacks.)

But, taking all of the context into account, the only real rational approach to remove their motivation is to (1) kill them, or (2) kill enough of their comrades that their faith is shaken and they will themselves to realize that their faith is nonsense. This will likely happen only to those who retain some love of their own life and are fighting for a quasi-intellectual "cause", not just out of blinding hatred.

A good way to try to understand the jihadists is to look for similar cases throughout history - the fighters for irrational causes, such as the Nazi or Soviet true believers, the Khmer Rouge, etc. I would even say that it applied to some who fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War. All of the "true believers" who are empty shells and only want to destroy, or to preserve an evil and irrational culture. And they all have something in common (except the Soviets who lasted long enough to disintegrate internally): it took a huge war, concluding with large scale, almost total destruction, to shut them down.

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A naive rational person might think that the jihadists can be reasoned with, altering motivation by changing their minds. But the mind - at least, an integrated mind - is what they have rejected.

But my friends were not arguing that they should be reasoned with. They argued that although jihadists clearly hate this country, that isn't usually enough to drive them to action - in other words, few will blow themselves up purely due to American Idol. Being human beings, they need something more immediate to motivate them to arms, so part of eliminating their motivation is addressing these secondary motivations.

A good way to try to understand the jihadists is to look for similar cases throughout history - the fighters for irrational causes, such as the Nazi or Soviet true believers, the Khmer Rouge, etc. I would even say that it applied to some who fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War. All of the "true believers" who are empty shells and only want to destroy, or to preserve an evil and irrational culture. And they all have something in common (except the Soviets who lasted long enough to disintegrate internally): it took a huge war, concluding with large scale, almost total destruction, to shut them down.

John Lewis has given a lot of historical references to draw a similar conclusion - I believe he has also invoked the Greco-Persian wars and the Punic wars. It's clear that the key to any victory is destroying your enemy's will (i.e., motivation) to fight. In wars against states, that means destroying cities, as they are the source of industrial capacity, tax revenue, and moral encouragement.

However, as I alluded to earlier, al Qaeda is a decentralized organization getting both financial and spiritual support from all around the world, with no clear primary benefactor nor geographic capitol. So the only important question is what is their motivation, and after analyzing their nature how do we best destroy it. I know I've brought this up before on this forum, but I am again questioning whether their stateless nature makes the solution different than these traditional examples.

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Flying planes into buildings does go a long way to help establish their Caliphate. They exist entirely on the perceptual level. Smashing a major value of ours makes us look vulnerable to them. To them, if Osama can use our own tools to harm us, that must mean that Islam is gaining strength against the infidel.

But isn't this assuming that Osama bin Laden is stupid - i.e., not able to think conceptually? I mean, it's clear to you and me that there is no way smashing a major value of ours will get even close to bringing about an Islamic government. In fact, it made it more difficult, because it created a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment (the President's own appeasement notwithstanding).

Yes, I think bin Laden and all the other terrorist leaders are colossally stupid! Look, they say they live for jihad, they live to kill the infidel for Allah's sake. And they do, in fact, devote their miserable lives to that end. But they are so incredibly stupid, so thoroughly anti-conceptual, that an astoundingly simple operation like 9/11 is a once-in-a-generation feat for them. In 2001 America, it was nothing to get ten or so jihadist pigs into this country, get them into flight school, buy some boxcutters, get them on four commercial airliners, hijack the planes, and steer them into huge buildings. Nothing. As PC as we are today, it still is only marginally more difficult than nothing.

In our society, there are endless ways to cripple us, and the terrorists are too stupid and too uncommitted to do it. Have your jihadist gang go to the nearest public phone and call in a bomb threat to every major airport once a week. That's nothing. Takes no planning and it would devastate us. Mix up a few publicly-available chemicals and poison a city's water supply. Total national panic. Any idiot could make a long, long list of options that are immediately possible even for these cavemen.

But as PhilO correctly noted, they completely reject an integrated mind, even one solely integrated in the context of waging jihad. They're so primitive, they can't even commit to that! Like I said before, their acts of terrorism are random products of isolated, critical-mass convergences of jihadist rage and reluctant motivation. They talk big, but they rarely act. They don't have a coordinated plan, they just occasionally lash out blindly. But their ineptitude doesn't mean they aren't dangerous, especially as vulnerable as we make ourselves both materially and philosophically, and it doesn't mean they don't deserve to be atomized.

So, yes, bin Laden is an idiot. He had millions of dollars and thousands of flunkies, and all he could muster was one puny attack. And he still has millions of sympathizers and thousands of flunkies and carte blanche over hundreds of square miles of Afghani-Pakistani real estate, and all he can do is urge his sidekicks to blow up car bombs in an Iraq already dominated by indifferent savages and against an American army that won't fight back. Wow, yeah, he's one tough guy...

Regarding your mention of the Nazi war machine, those were minds worth fearing. They were much more consistent in connecting the will to kill Jews and conquer the West with action. And they had the intellect to make a formidable enemy. They organized their society around war at every level. They built up huge, dedicated armies, they built state-of-the-art weapons, and implemented the most cunning, destructive, demoralizing tactics. They were tough. They were integrated. The jihadists aren't.

And I disagree that 9/11 undermined the goal of establishing a global Caliphate. You're right that it created a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S., but it also created a tidal wave of Muslim sympathy, anti-Americanism, and apologists for Islam. I assert that the net cultural effect of 9/11 is that America is less disposed to defeating the jihad. The press is more decidely on their side than before. The left is way more anti-American than before. American values are under assault from every angle and to a far greater degree than just before 9/11. And our political and military leaders have an iron grip on the false dichotomy of surrenduring to them by the left's book or conducting an unending Middle East social services campaign by the right's, and the number of Americans who are fed up and want to fight to win aren't enough to matter. All of this opens the door for the most ideologically consistent brute of our time: jihadist Islam. If America is destroyed, it won't be the terrorists who did it, it'll be us.

That's what the insurgency in Iraq is all about. Bring chaos to Iraq, pit one sect against the other, bog America down in a futile battle for stability, pile up our losses, break our will to bring freedom to the Middle East and, by extension, our belief that we can beat the jihad.

This is interesting, because my understanding is that most Objectivists do not equate bringing freedom to the Middle East with beating jihad. Nevertheless, I'm going to leave the topic alone for now.

I just want to clarify that the pretense of overthrowing Saddam was to make Iraq free and have it spread to the rest of the Middle East. That's obviously not what we're doing and didn't have the necessary philosophy in place from the outset. I'm just saying that if we had made Iraq free, that would be a pretty serious blow to the jihadists' goal of the Caliphate. By mucking Iraq up, it makes us think that we cannot beat them, that wherever they fight us, they can drag out the instability forever.

So terrorist attacks on our soil aren't meant to directly establish a political Caliphate in America. They are meant to paralyze us from defending ourselves against the cultural and theocratic movement that would establish the Caliphate here.

So your belief is that it will clear the way for Islam to be spread evangelically? If it's true then I again have to question their intelligence, since it ended up doing the exact opposite.

No, the jihadists' aim is not to convert us evangelically. Their aim is to weaken us militarily so that they can come in by force and replace the vacuum of leadership with sharia. Evangelism (da'wa in Islam) is only of interest to their spiritual leaders. They are combatants, predominantly interested in violence against the infidel. In the process of weakening us, the Islamic witch doctors have a wedge wth which to spread Islam and jihad, and we see that with the multitude of new Islamic campus groups and political pressure groups such as CAIR and MPAC and greater multiculturalist emphasis on learning about Islam, but the terrorists are strictly little Attilas. They piggyback off of the witch doctors' gains, because they're both after the same thing: a Caliphate.

Continued below...

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If I could add my two cents here, I don't think Osama did lie. I think he really thinks that Saudi sandpile is sacred ground, and that Americans defiled it when the Saudis asked us to come and protect them from Saddam. I think he complements his religious fervor with his hatred of the West. They just go together; foreign intervention is simply a convenient gripe that fits the paranoid scheme of Islamic dogma.

This suggests that he's using foreign intervention as a recruiting tool, since not every follower can be motivated by religious fervor alone. Do you think this should be taken into account at all? For example, by not putting troops in Saudi Arabia or giving foreign aid to Israel and Kuwait? After all, a government according to Objectivism would be funded through voluntary donations anyway, so instead of giving part of those donations to Israel and Kuwait why not let the American people donate directly to them on their own?

I'm just suggesting ways to limit the terrorists' ability to recruit people and find willing donors, if that's possible.

Absolutely, he's using "foreign intervention" as a recruiting tool. But it's not "foreign intervention" in a contextual vacuum. The context is, "the infidel is desecrating sacred Muslim land and they want to conquer you and enslave you under Christianity/Westernism, so if you love Islam, you'd better sign up with me, because we're fighting in the way of Allah; we're fighting to destroy the infidel." And look, it'd be absurd for him to say that once Afghanistan is cleared of the infidel, they'll simply re-establish the Taliban and no more jihad against America. No way. They're out for the whole smash -- they want the Earth and beyond. "Foreign intervention" is just one of the most powerful selling points that fits in the context of the Quran. And it's not like bin Laden is a genius for figuring this out. If you read the Quran and observe the causes that motivate Islamic cultures, a caveman could connect the dots.

What I think attacking the worst states like Iran and Saudi Arabia would accomplish is not eliminating fringe terrorist groups from wanting to wage jihad, but what I do think it would do is get the population of those states to stop supporting them.

This is a separate discussion but I think it's interesting anyway. Do you believe that most terrorist groups rely on the support of the government or the citizens of these two countries? I'm wondering because as I understand it, al Qaeda is funded by bin Laden's personal fortune along with charities from all around the world. I also believe that the London bombers were British-born and the Madrid bombers were from North Africa.

Terrorist groups are, at best, openly supported by both government and populace, and, at worst, tolerated by both. There isn't a division of support. Terrorist governments don't have magic weapons and millions of secret agents to subjugate an otherwise freedom-loving Islamic population. They have millions of Muslims who are already zombies of Islam and centuries of engrained, cherished collectivism. All they have to do is exploit their collectivism and use a few guns and torture chambers now and then to keep things quiet. Their people aren't going to rebel, because they feel they have to live under sharia, and they don't want to judge their leaders or make waves. They see injustice and feel a mixture of indifference and helplessness and go back to scraping out the next day under Islamic rule. This is the gross mistake that Western leaders still make. They don't want freedom. It's a threat to their way of life, and they want that tradition above all else.

Thats why I say that merely assassinating existing leaders won't end the jihad. We must make the people know, in the starkest, most brutal terms, that allowing jihadists to run around your country and threaten us will get you killed.

Sorry if the length of this post makes it unreadable to some. I prefer to be succinct, but it's too hard to just let a lot of these points go unanswered.

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Thank you again for your thoughts, Kurt. You certainly do write a lot. =)

So, yes, bin Laden is an idiot. He had millions of dollars and thousands of flunkies, and all he could muster was one puny attack. And he still has millions of sympathizers and thousands of flunkies and carte blanche over hundreds of square miles of Afghani-Pakistani real estate, and all he can do is urge his sidekicks to blow up car bombs in an Iraq already dominated by indifferent savages and against an American army that won't fight back. Wow, yeah, he's one tough guy...

Regarding your mention of the Nazi war machine, those were minds worth fearing. They were much more consistent in connecting the will to kill Jews and conquer the West with action. And they had the intellect to make a formidable enemy. They organized their society around war at every level. They built up huge, dedicated armies, they built state-of-the-art weapons, and implemented the most cunning, destructive, demoralizing tactics. They were tough. They were integrated. The jihadists aren't.

And I disagree that 9/11 undermined the goal of establishing a global Caliphate. You're right that it created a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S., but it also created a tidal wave of Muslim sympathy, anti-Americanism, and apologists for Islam. I assert that the net cultural effect of 9/11 is that America is less disposed to defeating the jihad. [...]

But the conventional warfare waged by the Nazis lasted less than six years. Osama bin Laden has managed to divide us and pull us into a self-defeating war (all the while evading capture) after an extremely inexpensive terrorist attack that claimed less than 3,000 lives. They're using unconventional tactics that have historically proven extremely effective against conventional foes. From that perspective, who's the stupid one? Even you admit that 9/11 had the net effect of making us less disposed to defeating jihad, so wouldn't that go to his credit?

And look, it'd be absurd for him to say that once Afghanistan is cleared of the infidel, they'll simply re-establish the Taliban and no more jihad against America. No way.

I agree, but how many people will fight for Islam alone, absent any immediate motivator like the our meddling in Saudi Arabia? That's the question I'm posing.

Thats why I say that merely assassinating existing leaders won't end the jihad. We must make the people know, in the starkest, most brutal terms, that allowing jihadists to run around your country and threaten us will get you killed.

My question to you, though, was whether you thought the islamic terrorist groups relied on the support of Iranian and Saudi citizens. My understand is that the get support from everywhere, including citizens in developed countries like the UK and US. Do you believe that a nuke on Tehran or Mecca would scare all of these citizens into ceasing their money laundering?

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A naive rational person might think that the jihadists can be reasoned with, altering motivation by changing their minds. But the mind - at least, an integrated mind - is what they have rejected.

But my friends were not arguing that they should be reasoned with. They argued that although jihadists clearly hate this country, that isn't usually enough to drive them to action - in other words, few will blow themselves up purely due to American Idol. Being human beings, they need something more immediate to motivate them to arms, so part of eliminating their motivation is addressing these secondary motivations.

A good way to try to understand the jihadists is to look for similar cases throughout history - the fighters for irrational causes, such as the Nazi or Soviet true believers, the Khmer Rouge, etc. I would even say that it applied to some who fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War. All of the "true believers" who are empty shells and only want to destroy, or to preserve an evil and irrational culture. And they all have something in common (except the Soviets who lasted long enough to disintegrate internally): it took a huge war, concluding with large scale, almost total destruction, to shut them down.

John Lewis has given a lot of historical references to draw a similar conclusion - I believe he has also invoked the Greco-Persian wars and the Punic wars. It's clear that the key to any victory is destroying your enemy's will (i.e., motivation) to fight. In wars against states, that means destroying cities, as they are the source of industrial capacity, tax revenue, and moral encouragement.

However, as I alluded to earlier, al Qaeda is a decentralized organization getting both financial and spiritual support from all around the world, with no clear primary benefactor nor geographic capitol. So the only important question is what is their motivation, and after analyzing their nature how do we best destroy it. I know I've brought this up before on this forum, but I am again questioning whether their stateless nature makes the solution different than these traditional examples.

Islam, and al Qaeda may have no geographic or political capitol, but isn't Mecca a spiritual capitol? I would drop an atomic bomb on it.

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If we are to destroy their motivation to kill us, I think it's important to understand those secondary motivations.

Throughout history men have been motivated to initiate force not by their enemies assumed evil, but by their observed weakness.

A necessary part of Jihadist motivation is the belief that they can get away with killing us, so we should us force so devastating that they will see that they can't get away with it. That will stop them regardless of what secondary motivations they might have.

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Islam, and al Qaeda may have no geographic or political capitol, but isn't Mecca a spiritual capitol? I would drop an atomic bomb on it.

You would vaporize the holiest city in Islam.

Let's remember that the purpose of targeting civilian populations is to stop civilian support of the war and cripple their economy. Since one could argue that terrorists rely on neither to carry out their relatively cheap and isolated attacks, I have to wonder how effective that would be. In fact, I think that at least a billion people would be rather annoyed to learn that they no longer have something to turn to five times a day.

Throughout history men have been motivated to initiate force not by their enemies assumed evil, but by their observed weakness.

I agree with this statement, so the issue now is to figure out how to show that strength. The reason I hesitate to believe that crushing Mecca or any other city will do this effectively is that they are spread world-wide and thus don't rely on the support of any particular group of people. I hear the Tamil Tigers are using the internet to facilitate donations from Sri Lankans in Canada of all places.

I do, however, believe that identifying the enemy as Islam and being brutally honest about its evil would be a good first step.

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Islam, and al Qaeda may have no geographic or political capitol, but isn't Mecca a spiritual capitol? I would drop an atomic bomb on it.

You would vaporize the holiest city in Islam.

Let's remember that the purpose of targeting civilian populations is to stop civilian support of the war and cripple their economy. Since one could argue that terrorists rely on neither to carry out their relatively cheap and isolated attacks, I have to wonder how effective that would be. In fact, I think that at least a billion people would be rather annoyed to learn that they no longer have something to turn to five times a day.

Throughout history men have been motivated to initiate force not by their enemies assumed evil, but by their observed weakness.

I agree with this statement, so the issue now is to figure out how to show that strength. The reason I hesitate to believe that crushing Mecca or any other city will do this effectively is that they are spread world-wide and thus don't rely on the support of any particular group of people. I hear the Tamil Tigers are using the internet to facilitate donations from Sri Lankans in Canada of all places.

I do, however, believe that identifying the enemy as Islam and being brutally honest about its evil would be a good first step.

Regarding your response to my post, I say, Good! Let them be "annoyed", but let them NOT have anything to "turn to". The primary "sanction of the victim", in regard to Islam, is the agreeing to regard as sacred anything they themselves regard as sacred. To do that is to not regard rational human life as sacred. There is nothing religious on the face of the earth which is objectively sacred. It is all rot and should be treated as such. A is A. Once things are dealt with justly, as they deserve, the world will become a better place.

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Regarding your response to my post, I say, Good! Let them be "annoyed", but let them NOT have anything to "turn to". The primary "sanction of the victim", in regard to Islam, is the agreeing to regard as sacred anything they themselves regard as sacred. To do that is to not regard rational human life as sacred. There is nothing religious on the face of the earth which is objectively sacred. It is all rot and should be treated as such. A is A. Once things are dealt with justly, as they deserve, the world will become a better place.

But isn't our interest ultimately to prevent terrorist attacks, not to annoy people? I'm not getting how nuking Mecca will stop Faheem or Muhammad from strapping bombs to their torsos. As an aside, I don't recall ARI ever advocating it either.

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But the conventional warfare waged by the Nazis lasted less than six years. Osama bin Laden has managed to divide us and pull us into a self-defeating war (all the while evading capture) after an extremely inexpensive terrorist attack that claimed less than 3,000 lives. They're using unconventional tactics that have historically proven extremely effective against conventional foes. From that perspective, who's the stupid one? Even you admit that 9/11 had the net effect of making us less disposed to defeating jihad, so wouldn't that go to his credit?

WWII lasted less than six years because America and Britain fought all out. The comparison between WWII and the War on Terrorism is invalid, because we aren't fighting at all. Osama didn't divide us, we did. We went around since WWII with a sign saying, "Point a gun at me and I will wet myself." Osama simply took us up on it. We showed fear to communist threats in North Korea and Vietnam, to tinpot dictators throughout the 20th century, to Iran in 1979, to Lebanon in 1983, and the entire Middle East since. Osama didn't make us think we can't beat him. We made us think we musn't beat him, as a product of the subjectivism of our adopted 20th century philosophy. Your premise suggests that 9/11 changed a country committed to defending itself to one of our current appeasement and self-doubt. I would suggest to you that we were already there, and our responses to terrorism prior to 9/11 bear that out.

I don't agree at all that their guerilla tactics are historically effective. In fact, they are a tremendous failure, precisely for the reason that terrorism against powerful nations in the past resulted in immediate and decisive retaliation. And that widely known posture discouraged other would-be terrorists. Their primitive tactics are only successful because we won't smash them. We respond to suicide bombings with a dog-and-pony-show police investigation supplemented welfare handouts and PR slogans. They use mosques as bases of operation and propaganda, and we won't touch them. They put religious towels around their terrorist leaders' heads, and we negotiate with them and give them political power because they're "clerics". They ambush our guys in 7th century meatgrinders, using indifferent civilians as cover, and our leaders punish our own men for defending themselves in that total chaos! No, that is not a culture that Osama or any other terrorist punk could divide. Only we could, and we have.

I will repeat what Betsy said, with my emphasis. "Throughout history men have been motivated to initiate force not by their enemies' assumed evil, but by their observed weakness." Osama didn't bash the door in. We sent him an engraved invitation.

And look, it'd be absurd for him to say that once Afghanistan is cleared of the infidel, they'll simply re-establish the Taliban and no more jihad against America. No way.

I agree, but how many people will fight for Islam alone, absent any immediate motivator like the our meddling in Saudi Arabia? That's the question I'm posing.

No offense, but who cares what imagined offense they're fighting for? I'd echo what RobC said above. They will invent any bogeyman that serves their purpose of demonizing the infidel. Some will fight solely because Allah commands them to kill the infidel. Some will add "foreign intervention" to that. Others will bemoan Western decadence. Who cares? They're wrong, and, as I said earlier, identifying why they're wrong doesn't affect whether we should defend ourselves; the only potential value it has is using it against them tactically, after we have decided to wage all out war on them.

Look, they're afraid of pigs and dogs, for chrissakes. Pigs are unclean and dogs are spawn of the devil to them. If there were no infidels and only a country of dogs, they'd wage jihad on the dogs. Their highest obligation in life is to visit a shrine in the middle of nowhere that houses a black meteorite that happened to fall there, and they will trample each other to death to wheel around the shrine. They specifically target pleasurable activities for banning, because it conflicts with the life of misery they are viciously intent on living. These are animals, and the only connection they have to us civilized people is that they happen to exist in the same time. Offshoots of motivation from Islamic dominance don't matter. What does matter is their objective and their resolve, and we must obliterate that resolve.

Thats why I say that merely assassinating existing leaders won't end the jihad. We must make the people know, in the starkest, most brutal terms, that allowing jihadists to run around your country and threaten us will get you killed.

My question to you, though, was whether you thought the islamic terrorist groups relied on the support of Iranian and Saudi citizens. My understand is that the get support from everywhere, including citizens in developed countries like the UK and US. Do you believe that a nuke on Tehran or Mecca would scare all of these citizens into ceasing their money laundering?

Yes, terrorists absolutely rely on Saudi and Iranian citizens to operate. They sell/give them food, they run errands for them, they wed their daughters to them, they give them money, they apologize for them, they arrange favors, they pass messages on, they foment hatred of America, they rat out anti-Islamic Muslims, etc. They do all the things the terrorists need to do, who live in a material world and who need material things to function and live to wage jihad, and who can't provide these basic things entirely for themselves. They rely hugely on the indifference and cooperation of their fellow Muslims. In short, the Muslim world is complicit with jihadists because they will deal with them.

Yes, I think nuking Tehran or Mecca would scare them into ceasing money laundering, which is the least of their weapons -- building bombs and spreading jihadist propaganda doesn't cost a lot of money, and a large portion of their small arms are supplied free by us!, when we arm the Mujahideen or Northern Alliance, or the Kurds or some perceived friendly faction of Sunni or Shiite, or Fatah to fight Hamas, or the terrorist Lebanese Army against the Palestinian Al Aqsa Martys Brigades as we are doing this very second! More importantly, annihilating their greatest values will make them stop supporting jihad and they will no longer be willing to threaten us. Even these savages will connect their support for jihad to the rain of devastation we would unleash on them, and we should pair our weapons with that very message.

And I agree with B. Royce. We should nuke Mecca, because it is a major source of what every jihadist and supporter are fighting for. They assign material value to what Mecca symbolizes. Its supernatural power is a materialization of Islamic supremacy that inspires them to kill the infidel. It's gotta go. But I would stop at just symbols. I would nuke real, material military powers that probably suffice at Iran and Saudi Arabia. Wipe out the weapons in which their mysticism takes physical form.

And I will close with an important point that most people miss, though many on this board and in Objectivist circles thankfully do not. The advocacy of nukes is not unconditional. For me, and I think for any right-thinking person, a nuke represents the moral end to the principle that we are right to use the most destructive weapon in our arsenal, that it is immoral to hold back, to show restraint to our enemy when restraint means an iota of our suffering. If the physical consequences of using nukes were somehow to our disadvantage, such as fallout going into Israel or destroying valuable oil reserves which we should take for ourselves, then it would only make sense to use the weapons that are a net greatest advantage to us, and that may be massive, conventional bombardment. But only for the purpose of sparing our values, not theirs.

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I do not wish to go down the path of "yeah, but they are irrational." As you have pointed out, you can solve ANY problem via that method. However, when discussing this particular thread we must concern ourselves with it. Because the defining characteristic of Jihadists is their irrationality.

What I've found, though, is that someone who is irrational philosophically can be extremely rational strategically. For example, many criminals and mobsters are highly adept and skillful in what they do. Hitler's Wehrmacht, despite its irrational political aims, had some of the best generals on the planet. So while it goes without saying that jihadists are irrational in conviction, we cannot conclude that their specific strategic choices are equally departed from reality.

I think it's safe to say that the ideology and global dominance is an ultimate, idealistic goal. But then there are more immediate, secondary motivations that drive them to act. If we are to destroy their motivation to kill us, I think it's important to understand those secondary motivations.

Apologies. I am still grappling with the original question and how you, others, and I are responding. I have not moved onto the use of strategy. Selection of methodology is the last link in a long chain of pseudo-cognitive processes.

I am still dealing with: "What motivates Militant Islamics?"

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WWII lasted less than six years because America and Britain fought all out. The comparison between WWII and the War on Terrorism is invalid, because we aren't fighting at all. Osama didn't divide us, we did. We went around since WWII with a sign saying, "Point a gun at me and I will wet myself." Osama simply took us up on it.

The question here is whether OBL was stupid enough to believe that 9/11 would help them take over America. It appears that your response is that it not only helped do so, but that he is indeed stupid. To me this appeared to be a contradiction - either his plan failed and he's stupid or it worked and he's smart. I mean, obviously our culture was neutered long before 9/11, but what intelligent criminal doesn't exploit weak spots?

I don't agree at all that their guerilla tactics are historically effective. In fact, they are a tremendous failure, precisely for the reason that terrorism against powerful nations in the past resulted in immediate and decisive retaliation.

Could you provide an example?

No offense, but who cares what imagined offense they're fighting for? I'd echo what RobC said above. They will invent any bogeyman that serves their purpose of demonizing the infidel.

It matters because many of them may not be motivated to take up arms solely on religious grounds. Indeed, that's the whole idea behind the blowback theory - that they are all motivated by religion, but that the ultimate catalyst for action was foreign intervention, and thus ending Wilsonian intervention is an important part of the solution. The whole point of this thread was to ask your opinions on that viewpoint. You can of course disagree with it, but I'd like specific facts proving otherwise.

Yes, terrorists absolutely rely on Saudi and Iranian citizens to operate. They sell/give them food, they run errands for them, they wed their daughters to them, they give them money, they apologize for them, they arrange favors, they pass messages on, they foment hatred of America, they rat out anti-Islamic Muslims, etc.

Can you provide me with a source showing that any of the 9/11 terrorists, London bombers, or Madrid bombers received such support from Saudi or Iranian citizens, and that it was vital to their activities?

Yes, I think nuking Tehran or Mecca would scare them into ceasing money laundering

This is an important point. Why would the vaporization of either of these cities stop a Canadian Sri Lankan or Turkish muslim from laundering their money to terrorist groups?

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Regarding your response to my post, I say, Good! Let them be "annoyed", but let them NOT have anything to "turn to". The primary "sanction of the victim", in regard to Islam, is the agreeing to regard as sacred anything they themselves regard as sacred. To do that is to not regard rational human life as sacred. There is nothing religious on the face of the earth which is objectively sacred. It is all rot and should be treated as such. A is A. Once things are dealt with justly, as they deserve, the world will become a better place.

But isn't our interest ultimately to prevent terrorist attacks, not to annoy people? I'm not getting how nuking Mecca will stop Faheem or Muhammad from strapping bombs to their torsos. As an aside, I don't recall ARI ever advocating it either.

Nuking Mecca would be an expression of moral contempt for Islam, a million times bigger than the publication of any petty cartoon. It would be justice on an enormous scale. It would also serve as an inspiration to every moslem-reared young man or woman who wants to rebel against his upbringing, to do so.

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Regarding your response to my post, I say, Good! Let them be "annoyed", but let them NOT have anything to "turn to". The primary "sanction of the victim", in regard to Islam, is the agreeing to regard as sacred anything they themselves regard as sacred. To do that is to not regard rational human life as sacred. There is nothing religious on the face of the earth which is objectively sacred. It is all rot and should be treated as such. A is A. Once things are dealt with justly, as they deserve, the world will become a better place.

But isn't our interest ultimately to prevent terrorist attacks, not to annoy people? I'm not getting how nuking Mecca will stop Faheem or Muhammad from strapping bombs to their torsos. As an aside, I don't recall ARI ever advocating it either.

Nuking Mecca would be an expression of moral contempt for Islam, a million times bigger than the publication of any petty cartoon. It would be justice on an enormous scale. It would also serve as an inspiration to every moslem-reared young man or woman who wants to rebel against his upbringing, to do so.

I agree with Brian. When the park bully comes to beat on you, you do not stand up to his underlings, you stand up to him and then everyone else leaves you alone.

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Nuking Mecca would be an expression of moral contempt for Islam, a million times bigger than the publication of any petty cartoon. It would be justice on an enormous scale. It would also serve as an inspiration to every moslem-reared young man or woman who wants to rebel against his upbringing, to do so.

But this didn't answer my question. I would like to know how nuking Mecca will stop terrorists from harming us. In what way will it detract from their motivation?

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Nuking Mecca would be an expression of moral contempt for Islam, a million times bigger than the publication of any petty cartoon. It would be justice on an enormous scale. It would also serve as an inspiration to every moslem-reared young man or woman who wants to rebel against his upbringing, to do so.

But this didn't answer my question. I would like to know how nuking Mecca will stop terrorists from harming us. In what way will it detract from their motivation?

In an earlier post (#33) you said, "...I think that at least a billion people would be rather annoyed..." at a bombing of Mecca. Why do you say "annoyed"? Why not "shocked into total moral uncertainty"? Actually, I took your "annoyed" as not being a product of your full focus, but it is just THAT---the relationship of an Islamist's mind to his most holy shrine (which, in my opinion, relates most directly to his motivation)---which must be fully and most seriously thought about. Showing total contempt (in physical action) for one's enemies' shrines will do a lot towards weakening his motivation, especially since it is not rational.

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In an earlier post (#33) you said, "...I think that at least a billion people would be rather annoyed..." at a bombing of Mecca. Why do you say "annoyed"? Why not "shocked into total moral uncertainty"?

I used the word "annoyed" in a humorously understated sort of way. In reality I think they would probably want to kill us and drag our bodies through the streets, to be completely frank.

I want you to convince me otherwise, but I need more than broad abstractions about how evil can only exist by the sanction of the good. History shows us that motivation is destroyed by attacking the enemy's weakest point. For states, that clearly means their cities. They are the economic lifeblood and the source of encouragement.

We need to be careful about transplanting this notion to an enemy unified not by a government but by an idea. When jihadists see Mecca fall, they don't see a loss in industrial capacity (they need none) nor a loss in spiritual encouragement (they have a billion and they're world-wide). They will see the holiest site on the planet being desecrated and will respond with the mother of all riots unprecedented in scale and bloodlust.

I am open to changing my mind, though.

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WWII lasted less than six years because America and Britain fought all out. The comparison between WWII and the War on Terrorism is invalid, because we aren't fighting at all. Osama didn't divide us, we did. We went around since WWII with a sign saying, "Point a gun at me and I will wet myself." Osama simply took us up on it.

The question here is whether OBL was stupid enough to believe that 9/11 would help them take over America. It appears that your response is that it not only helped do so, but that he is indeed stupid. To me this appeared to be a contradiction - either his plan failed and he's stupid or it worked and he's smart. I mean, obviously our culture was neutered long before 9/11, but what intelligent criminal doesn't exploit weak spots?

I've already answered this. He's not an idiot because the one punch he managed to throw at us hurt us and he expected it to hurt. He's an idiot because he dedicates his life to hurting us, but can't manage long-range, sustained, and much worse attacks that are easily devised. The specific degree to which 9/11 itself paves the way for a Caliphate in America is insignificant compared to how our cultural nihilism contributes to it, so I don't regard it as effective. Look at it this way. If Muslims got all wound up for jihad over 9/11, and our response was to kick them until there were no more terrorist states, no more terrorist gangs of name, no more "death to America" mobs -- a proper response -- would you regard bin Laden as a shrewd tactician? I don't think so. So what was different in that equation? 9/11 happens in both, but one has us cowering and the other attacking, yet all bin Laden controls is the attacks on 9/11 itself. His only insight was to correctly identify us as a paper tiger, but that hardly makes him smart. As I said, we had shown the whole world decades before that we appeased terrorists. If you still suspect that bin Laden is actually smart for exploiting our weakness, I'd like to know exactly why.

I don't agree at all that their guerilla tactics are historically effective. In fact, they are a tremendous failure, precisely for the reason that terrorism against powerful nations in the past resulted in immediate and decisive retaliation.

Could you provide an example?

Sure, and I'll use good countries and bad ones. Mexico used to launch guerilla attacks against turn-of-the-century America until Roosevelt's Rough Riders went down and put a stop to it. British and French colonies throughout Asia and Africa occasionally fomented rebellious terrorist attacks. They would get brutally squashed and order would be restored. The Barbary Pirates of North Africa raided American shipping in the Atlantic until Jefferson had enough and swiftly put them down. The ETA Basque separatists in Spain used to be a lot more impotent because the Spanish government used to smash every peep out of them. Post-war Germany had Werewolves who would conduct penny-ante terrorism against occupying American troops. We didn't put up with any nonsense, and the Germans knew it, and it stopped pronto. China has had minor, internal terrorist flare ups forever, and the Chinese do not put up with it. I might add, the jihadists would love to terrorize China, but don't dare to because they know the Chinese won't pussyfoot with crippling rules of engagement and defense attorneys and Club Med detention. They will annihilate them.

No offense, but who cares what imagined offense they're fighting for? I'd echo what RobC said above. They will invent any bogeyman that serves their purpose of demonizing the infidel.

It matters because many of them may not be motivated to take up arms solely on religious grounds. Indeed, that's the whole idea behind the blowback theory - that they are all motivated by religion, but that the ultimate catalyst for action was foreign intervention, and thus ending Wilsonian intervention is an important part of the solution. The whole point of this thread was to ask your opinions on that viewpoint. You can of course disagree with it, but I'd like specific facts proving otherwise.

Again, I've already answered this by citing the jiahd going on in the Sudan, Thailand, the Philippines, Nigeria, Sweden, the Netherlands, Malaysia, pretty much you name it. We weren't intervening in those countries, but the jihad is in full force. But you're missing a critical point. Even where we are intervening and it enrages them, they are wrong to be enraged! Simply not intervening isn't a solution to stopping the jihad. We didn't intervene in Libya before Khaddafi shot down Pan Am 103. We didn't intervene in Yemen before they attacked the USS Cole. We weren't meddling in Morocco or Algeria when they sent us hijackers on 9/11. They don't have a right to object to our involvement, because they aren't opposing us in the name of protecting somebody's rights. They just don't like us meddling in their Islamic gang's business. Well tough. Objection overruled! When you actually join the 21st century and recognize the concept of rights, then you can object to our violating them. Frankly, I reject your entire premise that our interventionist foreign policy is somehow a gross threat to their rights and that they might in some way be justified to resent our meddling. Yes, we have stupid policies and we play lots of stupid, meddling games, but we play them with politicians who are already playing games and not respecting their own citizens' rights.

Oakes, "foreign intervention" comes from the same playbook as demonizing the Jews, oppressing women, railing against science and music and sex, and so on. Islam must conquer all. A true Muslim's whole life is for waging jihad against the infidel to please Allah. If we never had any involvement in Middle Eastern politics, they would simply pick another of their thousands of excuses to attack us.

Yes, terrorists absolutely rely on Saudi and Iranian citizens to operate. They sell/give them food, they run errands for them, they wed their daughters to them, they give them money, they apologize for them, they arrange favors, they pass messages on, they foment hatred of America, they rat out anti-Islamic Muslims, etc.

Can you provide me with a source showing that any of the 9/11 terrorists, London bombers, or Madrid bombers received such support from Saudi or Iranian citizens, and that it was vital to their activities?

I don't have a link, no. But most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi. The Saudi government itself funds Wahabbist madrassas that teach jihad and anti-Westernism. It's no stretch to figure they got a full dose of support and indoctrination from their home country. Iran runs Hizb'llah, which has long made terrorist attacks against America, including the Beirut barrack bombings which killed 241 American servicemen in '83. You seemed to have glossed over my point that terrorists' support isn't limited to financial transactions. Terrorists get their main support from being able to run around Middle Eastern sandpiles unopposed by the citizenry, who are willing to deal with them.

Yes, I think nuking Tehran or Mecca would scare them into ceasing money laundering

This is an important point. Why would the vaporization of either of these cities stop a Canadian Sri Lankan or Turkish muslim from laundering their money to terrorist groups?

Good God, whether nuking deserving targets immediately halts every single jihadist supporter from wiring jihadists money or not is totally irrelevant. Who cares if they do launder money, as long as we've unleashed so much devastation upon them that the jihadists close up shop. The point is that nuking them would destroy key values in which name they are waging jihad against us. Once we commit, they can decide how hard they want to fight and continue to lose values.

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In an earlier post (#33) you said, "...I think that at least a billion people would be rather annoyed..." at a bombing of Mecca. Why do you say "annoyed"? Why not "shocked into total moral uncertainty"?

I used the word "annoyed" in a humorously understated sort of way. In reality I think they would probably want to kill us and drag our bodies through the streets, to be completely frank.

I want you to convince me otherwise, but I need more than broad abstractions about how evil can only exist by the sanction of the good. History shows us that motivation is destroyed by attacking the enemy's weakest point. For states, that clearly means their cities. They are the economic lifeblood and the source of encouragement.

We need to be careful about transplanting this notion to an enemy unified not by a government but by an idea. When jihadists see Mecca fall, they don't see a loss in industrial capacity (they need none) nor a loss in spiritual encouragement (they have a billion and they're world-wide). They will see the holiest site on the planet being desecrated and will respond with the mother of all riots unprecedented in scale and bloodlust.

I am open to changing my mind, though.

First, they will see that there is no longer a "holiest sight on the planet"; second, if the bomb is dropped during some great "holy" day when a lot of imams and mindless worshippers are there, there will a lot less of them afterward. I, for one, would not expect a "mother of all riots". Why would you? I do see a loss in spiritual encouragement.

You say "they have a billion" as if that is somehow obviously significant. Of what? It only takes one deranged murderer to break into your house at night and wipe out your family. One can never put an end to the motivations of all evildoers and their possible effects on those who are good.

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This is slightly veering off the current discussion, but does have to do with moslem men's motivation. What is so desireable about getting 77 virgins when he goes to heaven? I don't think the specific number is significant; it need only be a large number. But why virgins? I think it has to do with the fact that in most, if not all, of first sexual experiences of women, there is a certain element of fear. For the moslem man, who has no genuine sense of self-esteem, that fear (which he self-deceptively takes as being toward him personally) gives him a sense of power, a mastery over his existence. That, in my opinion, is the significance of the many virgins as a reward.

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This is slightly veering off the current discussion, but does have to do with moslem men's motivation. What is so desireable about getting 77 virgins when he goes to heaven? I don't think the specific number is significant; it need only be a large number. But why virgins? I think it has to do with the fact that in most, if not all, of first sexual experiences of women, there is a certain element of fear. For the moslem man, who has no genuine sense of self-esteem, that fear (which he self-deceptively takes as being toward him personally) gives him a sense of power, a mastery over his existence. That, in my opinion, is the significance of the many virgins as a reward.

By the way, I have never heard what is to be the moslem woman's reward when she goes to heaven. Anyone know?

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I want you to convince me otherwise, but I need more than broad abstractions about how evil can only exist by the sanction of the good.

In the case of the Jihadists, it is rather clear.

It was the good, productive Western oil companies that developed the oil fields and allowed them to be nationalized. Oil is what funds the Jihadists. Western technology also created the Jihadist bombs the West sold to them and the airplanes we allowed them to board and fly into the World Trade Center. Without the West, the Jihadists would be starving camel-herders.

We need to be careful about transplanting this notion to an enemy unified not by a government but by an idea. When jihadists see Mecca fall, they don't see a loss in industrial capacity (they need none) nor a loss in spiritual encouragement (they have a billion and they're world-wide). They will see the holiest site on the planet being desecrated and will respond with the mother of all riots unprecedented in scale and bloodlust.

Let 'em riot but make it clear they will not be allowed to violate our rights without severe consequences. If they cannot hurt good people, they will turn on and kill each other. (See what happened when Israel thwarted the Palestinians and the ongoing violence between Fatah and Hamas.)

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This is slightly veering off the current discussion, but does have to do with moslem men's motivation. What is so desireable about getting 77 virgins when he goes to heaven? I don't think the specific number is significant; it need only be a large number. But why virgins? I think it has to do with the fact that in most, if not all, of first sexual experiences of women, there is a certain element of fear. For the moslem man, who has no genuine sense of self-esteem, that fear (which he self-deceptively takes as being toward him personally) gives him a sense of power, a mastery over his existence. That, in my opinion, is the significance of the many virgins as a reward.

I don't know the Quranic reason, but judging from their culture, men regard women as possessions -- essential slaves. To a martyr, virgins would be a reward that other men have not possessed/"befouled". It's actually only 72 virgins, and if you want a good chuckle, there is an old and very quiet controversy that Arabic scholars examining the earliest Quranic texts translate the reward as "white raisins", not "virgins". It has been uniformly translated as "virgins" by later Islamic scholars, who obviously have an incentive to whip up fervor for jihad, and who are forbidden to question accepted interpretations.

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This is slightly veering off the current discussion, but does have to do with moslem men's motivation. What is so desireable about getting 77 virgins when he goes to heaven? I don't think the specific number is significant; it need only be a large number. But why virgins? I think it has to do with the fact that in most, if not all, of first sexual experiences of women, there is a certain element of fear. For the moslem man, who has no genuine sense of self-esteem, that fear (which he self-deceptively takes as being toward him personally) gives him a sense of power, a mastery over his existence. That, in my opinion, is the significance of the many virgins as a reward.

I don't know the Quranic reason, but judging from their culture, men regard women as possessions -- essential slaves. To a martyr, virgins would be a reward that other men have not possessed/"befouled". It's actually only 72 virgins, and if you want a good chuckle, there is an old and very quiet controversy that Arabic scholars examining the earliest Quranic texts translate the reward as "white raisins", not "virgins". It has been uniformly translated as "virgins" by later Islamic scholars, who obviously have an incentive to whip up fervor for jihad, and who are forbidden to question accepted interpretations.

I have just started reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali's new book, "Infidel". On page 31 she describes how young girls are made "pure".

"In Somalia, like many countries across Africa and the Middle east, little girls are made 'pure' by having their genitals cut out. There is no other way to describe this procedure, which typically occurs around the age of five. After the girl's clitoris and labia are carved out, scraped off, or, in more compassionate areas, merely cut or pricked, the whole area is often sewn up, so that a thick band of tissue forms a chastity belt made of the gitl's own scarred flesh. A small hole is carefully situated to permit a thin flow of pee. Only great force can tear the scar tissue wider, for sex."

Miss Ali relates that both she and her sister had to endure this process, and that her once laughter-loving little four-year-old sister was never the same again, suffering from nightmares, and going off by herself to sit and stare at nothing for hours.

Her father, a more modern-thinking man, was not going to allow this procedure, but unfortunately, he was in prison for being a rebel and, when her mother was away on a trip (smuggling food, I think) the grandmother ordered the horrible mutilation.

So, when the moslem man thinks about the 77 virgins he is going to get in heaven,the masterful joy he is going to experience will consist of the helpless screams of pain from each girl as he forces and tears apart her flesh. What an unforgiveable, evil abomination.

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