Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How Do You Deter Those That Are Already Dead?

I bring to your attention a paper by BESA Center for Strategic Studies Bar-Ilan University entitled “Radical Islam: Challenge and Response”

This is a very scary paper for those who think we are dealing with a rational enemy – the jihadists – and we can somehow deter them from their actions if we would only try and understand them through rational discussions. The paper is a must-read but I’ll summarize the important points here.

According to the paper, we are not dealing with a rational enemy as we did in the past. The Cold War is a good example of deterring an enemy steeped in a rational belief system. MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction – kept the Soviets at bay until their economy imploded and the Cold War ended. Their desire to live was the most important deterrent of all.

But we are not dealing with an enemy who values life – theirs or anyone else’s. Laurent Murawiec, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C. who is the author of the paper explains.

“Deterrence works because one is able credibly to threaten the center of gravity of the enemy: the threat of inflicting unacceptable losses upon him, whether in a bar brawl or in nuclear escalation. Deterrence works if the price to be paid by the party to be deterred hugely exceeds his expected earnings. But deterrence only works if the enemy is able and willing to enter the same calculus. If the enemy plays by other rules and calculates by other means, he will not be deterred. If the calculus is: I exchange my worthless earthly life against the triumph of Allah on earth, and an eternity of bliss for me, if the enemy wishes to be dead, if to him the Apocalypse is desirable, he will not be deterred.”

Murawiec goes to make the distinction between those that are religious and the ideological religious. As many have said, myself included, Islam is not just a religion. It is a socio-political ideology. “The difference between the religious and the ideologically religious is this: the religious believer accepts that reality is a given, whereas the fanatic gambles everything on a pseudo-reality of what ought to be. The religious believer accepts reality and works at improving it, the fanatic rejects reality, refuses to pass any compromise with it and tries to destroy it and replace it with his fantasy.”

Or in other words, a fanatic is one who when proven wrong – redoubles his efforts.

Murawiec continues. “Contemporary jihad is not a matter of politics at all (of ‘occupation, of ‘grievances,’ of colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism and Zionism), but a matter of Gnostic faith. Consequently, attempts at dealing with the problem politically will not even touch it. Aspirin is good, and so is penicillin, but they are of little avail to counter maladies of the mind. I am emphatically not saying here that the jihadis are “crazy.” I am saying that they are possessed of a disease of the mind, and the disease is the political religion of modern Gnosticism in its Islamic version.”

This is what I have been saying for years. Islam is a form of mental illness and the current struggle in Islam is not so much a battle over its soul than a battle over its mind.

Murawiec goes on. “Soldiers kill. Terrorists kill. Modern Jihadis lap the blood. Inseparable from contemporary Arab-Muslim jihad are the idealization of blood, the veneration of savagery, the cult of killing, the worship of death. Gruesome murder, gory and gleeful infliction of pain, are lionized and proffered as models and exemplary actions pleasing to Allah. These are no merely reflections of a pre-modern attitude toward death.”

Murawiec offers some very gruesome examples.

  • Sept. 28, 1971, in Cairo. The prime minister of Jordan Wasfi al-Tell, who had been threatened by the Palestinian movement in retaliation for the so-called Black September of 1970, walks into the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel. “Five shots, fired at point-blank range, hit [him]… He staggered… he fell dying among the shards of glass on the marble floor. As he lay dying, one of his killers bent over and lapped the blood that poured from his wounds.”
  • This report on the killing of an Algerian intellectual: “Dr. Hammed Boukhobza who was killed by a group of Islamist terrorists in the city of Telemly. (…) He was not just killed in his apartment, but his wife and children who wanted to escape were forced to watch how he was literally cut to pieces, his entrails slowly drawn out while he was just barely alive. The terrorists obviously liked to watch the suffering, and they wanted to family to share their enjoyment.”
  • “We love death more than you love life.” From an al-Qaeda communiqué.
“This pornography of crime is endless, from the gratuitous killing of a Leon Klinghoffer to Mohammad Atta’s instructions, “You must make your knife sharp and you must not discomfort your animal during the slaughter.” The accumulation of such deeds shows that they are not an epiphenomenon but are central to the purpose of the jihadi.”

Murawiec continues. “As I said, a soldier kills, a jihadi loves to kill. And what was the dismal arithmetic conveyed by some jihadi that since the Americans had purportedly killed a lot of Muslims, the Muslims were “entitled” to kill 4 million Americans, children included? Torah recounts the end of human sacrifice: it forcefully states that God’s Law is THOU SHALT NOT MURDER that was adopted by Christians. Today’s jihad is a giant regression to pre-Abrahamic times, to Moloch and Baal.”

Finally, Murawiec poses the question, “How do we deter the modern Gnostic warriors, the jihadi?”

His answer is not pleasant. “Mainly, we do not. Those who are dead already, who consider themselves dead to the world and only alive to the Afterworld, those who wish to die, generally cannot be deterred. Faith has been described as a belief in things invisible. Gnosticism is belief in a fantasy that is taken to be more real than the common reality: they do not believe what they see, they see what they believe. This cannot be deterred.”

“If our enemy was merely ‘terrorism,’ we could defang it, admittedly at great cost: by destroying the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus and their grip on power, by wiping out the Iranian Ayatollahs’ strength, and by squeezing hard the noxious Pakistani military-intelligence establishment – all in all, the linchpins of Muslim terrorism. Once this infrastructure of terror collapsed, much of terror would. But terror itself is nothing but the principal paramilitary instrument of jihad: the operative concept is jihad, not terror. Some workarounds work. The way in which Israeli military and security forces have ruthlessly sapped the strength of Islamic terror, notably by a high-tempo attrition of its leadership cadre, is exemplary and should be studied and emulated elsewhere.”

He continues. “Contemporary jihad, like its emanation, terrorism, is an integral chain: as long as it is islamico-glamorous to be a cleric who issues fatwas calling for the murder of Israeli civilians or American GIs, the cleric will go on. Once dead, he will stop. So will the chairman of a charity that funnels money to jihad. So will the senior intelligence officer who trains or smuggles them, the predicator who incites, the madrasa or university professor who brainwashes, the prince who lies for terror, the ayatollah who sends out teams of killers, etc.”

“Jihad is the operative ideology of a number of states; states can be pinned down and hit. This approach is a variant of the notion of decapitation, or of the formulation of nodal targeting given by air power theorist Col. John Warden. Less than the jihadi hardware, it is the jihadi software that has to be hit – but not by soft power.”

And he makes a good point here. “One martyr will have followers, ten martyrs will be admired and emulated. One thousand dead martyrs who died unheralded die in vain. If Ahmadinejad and others die in vain and uselessly they will not die as martyrs but as slobs. For the Gnostic, for the jihadi, his death is the only thing that matters to him: take that away and nothing is left. It does not mean, as the jurors of the Moussaoui trial were apparently led to believe, that “you cannot make a martyr out of him, since this is what he wants.” Make his death a lonely, useless, ignored death. Unextraordinary, unromantic, trivial deaths shatter the glory of the jihadi’s death.”

“Jihad is integral to Islam and derives from its most fundamental tenets. The severing of that link is not going to happen soon. But throughout history, when Islamic conquerors met their match, they stopped. When they met crushing defeat, they retreated, and found the ulama and the faqih to justify that, like prophets who announced the Rapture for yesterday, 8:09 am, and reschedule it for next year. But let us remember that most of the faithful are not turned off by the ludicrous failure of their prophet’s prophecies, precisely because they live in the ‘second reality.’”
Murawiec ends with this proposal. “Applying high-tempo attrition and nodal targeting to the jihadi apparatus worldwide (by which I emphatically do not mean ‘terrorists’ alone or even in the first place) seems to me to be a modern equivalent. It is those who deploy the undead who must be the priority targets.


  • To really humiliate a dead jihadi, may I suggest you incenerate the carcass and spread the ashes on a pig farm. So fitting and humiliating to him or her.

    By Blogger John Sobieski, at 9:10 PM  

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