Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Monday, July 19, 2004

Asymmetry as mutual jujitsu  

Nelson Ascher:
It’s quite likely that Bin Laden and his men saw 911 as the beginning of a global war between the Muslim world and the US. But another war started on the same day: a civil war in the Western world. The days and months following those attacks have shown that the West was a radically divided house. It’s not just the case of a couple of Old European governments trying to obstruct America’s actions. With each passing day the division and hatred have been growing more and more inside the US. This division and hatred didn’t start out of nothing three years ago: it must have been festering for a long time. How come most people couldn’t have seen it before? Why did we think the 90s were a peaceful time if actually we’ve been living inside a bomb?

This situation will take years and years to be really understood. There’s however one point I’m really curious about: did Bin Laden and the rest of the Islamists know how deeply the West was divided against itself and how much their actions would help it to get even more divided? Did they know about this fire and consciously pour more fuel on it? If not, have they understood their own success ever since? Because in any of these cases the most likely [thing] is that they must be working on making the gap in the West absolutely unbridgeable. They may have only a couple of matches left, but we’re sitting on a powder-keg.
As are they. Wretchard:
The near civil war in Gaza; the fighting within the House of Saud; the conflict between terrorist factions in Iraq may not be isolated phenomen[a] but the consequences of the Israeli and American campaign against terror. From Iran to Lebanon the terror masters are no longer secure in their own kingdoms. In an article in the Naval War College Review Professor Edward Smith reminds us that Clausewitz defined victory as imposing a state of chaos on the enemy: the definition of a rout. Chaos was itself a condition that the enemy had sought to impose upon us by applying disruptive terrorism to set routines of civilization. ...

Psychologically speaking, this moment may have arrived when Israel targeted Hamas chief Yassin with a Hellfire missile although the effort existed long before. The perceptive Steven den Beste suggested that Israel's real goal in striking Yassin was to create a series of permanent power vacuums in the enemy ranks: in other words, to unleash chaos. The decentralized and cellular nature of terrorism would then begin to recoil upon the enemy state sponsor. Like a carnival dinosaur, the terrorist murder machine had to be carefully caged to prevent it from turning on its masters. In fact, the whole point of terror was to direct the whole mass of frustrations in repressive and dysfunctional societies at the external scapegoats: the Jihad is an excuse for avoiding the task of making Islamic society work. A successful American and Israeli effort to blunt the enemy attack and destroy its command linkages would turn the beast on its keepers.
We call the red-blue opposition a culture war, and the growing NATO divide a stale, loveless marriage approaching a bitter divorce, but the words are mostly metaphorical. In the Middle East, they play with real bombs and real blood.

Our chaos is more survivable than theirs. Western systems are substantially more complex, but have some redundancy designed in. We route around damage; their reflex is to maximize it, but that's a double-edged sword. Of course, we also have an impatient, strategically uninformed press that aggressively reports instances of chaos because it gets ratings - and they think it helps their side.

posted by Kelly | 9:00 PM link