Underestimating the Enemy
"...What he, and others, have never been willing to debate, however, is why it is that they consider us to be "Infidels", worthy, in their own words, of "slaughter".
The answer is simple.
We are infidels because we view women as equals.
We are infidels because we view homosexuals as equals.
We are infidels because we grant all our citizenry an equal say in the election of a government.
We are infidels because we believe in religious freedom.
We are infidels because we tolerate Page 3 of the Sun Newspaper.
We are infidels because we allow the sale of Alcohol in our society.
We are infidels because we do not outlaw free speech.
The list goes on..."
This blind repetition of the standard GWB talking-point is a mistake, because it causes us to dismiss Al Qaeda as unsophisticated in both aims and means (and to underestimate their strategy). This is dangerously short of the truth. Bin Laden himself was a Westernised, educated playboy from a rich and influential Saudi family.
If we are going to beat Al Qaeda, then we need to fight them a lot smarter than we have to date. Falling back impotently on the so-called 'flypaper' strategy isn't working, and has left the West with a long-term war in Iraq that will be a major success to Al Qaeda if we don't commit every resource to it.
There needs to be an honest levelling by the American government with the West as to the nature of what we face, and the true costs involved if we're going to beat it. Simply fiddling the annual terrorism figures doesn't cut it any more.
As Professor Juan Cole notes today:
"[Michael Sheuer, retired CIA analyst of Bin Laden] said that "chickens were coming home to roost" for US and UK politicians who had obscured the nature of the al-Qaeda struggle by maintaining that the organization attacks the West because "they hate our values."
Scheuer believes that al-Qaeda is an insurgent ideology focused on destroying the United States and its allies, because its members believe that the US is trying to destroy them. Al-Qaeda members see the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, backed by the US; US support for military regimes like those of Pakistan and Egypt; and US military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq as evidence of a US onslaught on Islam and Muslims aimed at reducing them to neo-colonial slavery. That is, specific Western policies are the focus of al-Qaeda response, not a generalized "hatred" of "values."
Scheuer opposes any attempt to configure the struggle against al-Qaeda as simple crime-fighting. He believes that they must be addressed through a thorough-going counter-insurgency effort."
ADDENDUM: The Free Stater blog endorses the common-sense of the Bull Moose!
UPDATE: Best of Both Worlds is keeping an eye on the twists and turns at the ever-fascinating (in a morbid sense) NRO's The Corner.
They also have a few (well-deserved) unkind words for Andrew Sullivan.