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Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar Katherine says:

    The Taliban when they ruled in Afghanistan during the 1990s were actually a neo-fundamentalist group not Islamist. That is they didn’t actually do much of running a state but rather tried to impose their insane puritanical moral and social vision on the country.

    I’m not understanding the distinction here. The Taliban were the government; their main goal was to impose Islamic values, as they percieved them, on the population. That’s the basic agenda of an Islamist movement.

    Your point about being able to distinguish who the enemy is is an excellent one. Islamism as a political movement is, by and large, not a threat to the security of United States (though possibly a threat to its global interests). Most Islamists are non-violent; those that are violent are concerned with removing dictatorships and preventing US meddling in their countries’ policies, not aggression against the US. The vast majority of Islamists condemned 9/11 less for moral reasons than because they felt provoking the US to come after then and support government clampdowns on them was exactly what they didn’t need.

    The other good point is that jihadism has failed. Al-Qaeda actually lost support, substantially, after 9/11; there isn’t much of a cohesive organization left. The closest thing I can think of to compare most neo-jihadist violence to is anarchist violence in the late 1800s/early 1900s: random, frightening, but not moving towards any achievable political goal, and counterproductive in that the violence turns people more strongly against them. (Actually, anarchists were a lot more dangerous in terms of political violence, taking down a US President, a French President, and a Russian Tsar, as well as throwing a bomb into the French legislative chamber.) It’s the same tactic of “propaganda by the deed”: if you’re violent enough, the government will be sufficiently repressive that people will turn against it. Except that doesn’t work because 1. the government hasn’t become extremely repressive and 2. the government is at least predictable, so people tend to prefer it over random violence in the service of an ideology that doesn’t seem remotely credible.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to Katherine says:

      K,

      Excellent analogy with anarchists. The Red Brigade and the Baader-Meinhof also come to mind. Also as I mentioned the Mafia, given jihadi funding through drug selling.

      As to the Taliban point, they were in charge of the government but they didn’t do “state” things. They weren’t really interested in collecting taxes for example. Rory Stewart jokes that during the 90s the Taliban financial ministry was some cash stuffed under some Talib’s pillow in his house that he would just dole out whenever necessary.

      They sort of did this law/tribal court type things, but it was very ad hoc. It wasn’t in a sense a modern state in the Weberian sense. They had a kind of police function but it was mostly morality policing.

      They had no vision for future economic and political integration, I think they only had official diplomacy with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It was just a complete nightmarish mess.

      But out of that I have no sense that Afghanistan can have a strong state functioning made via the US/NATO yelling at Karzai to not be corrupt or threatening to pull their troops out unless he changes his ways. Just stupid the whole thing. All it does is continue to erode whatever sliver of legitimacy the guy has left in the country.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I’ve long thought that Islamo-fascism, Islamo-terrorism, Islamo-communism, and Islamist terrorism would be defeated the same way that Communism (it wasn’t *REAL* Communism, it was just Soviet Socialism!) was defeated.

    Red lipstick. White Castle. Blue Jeans.

    Okay, that didn’t work as well as I wanted. Let’s rephrase.

    Cultural Weapons of Mass Destruction. It involves rock and roll, McDonald’s, rebellious teenagery, prolonged adolescence, and dramatic re-interpretation of tradition. We need Islamic Theologians explaining that the Angel Gabriel was a metaphor and how what The Prophet means is so much more important that who The Prophet might have actually have been. We need a Muslim Jay and Silent Bob road trip movie similar to Dogma in which Allah turns out to be Nicollette Sheridan.

    We need a Buddy Mohammed.

    And the military cannot provide us any of that.

    Rock and roll, by contrast, might be able to get its foot in the door.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

      Great thoughts there Jay. Would I be right in guessing you think the Cuban Embargo is absolutely idiotic?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

        Absolutely. We should be trading food and medicine (despite their 100% free healthcare for 100% of the population, I suspect that they’d still benefit from more access to medicine) for cigars, if nothing else.

        Economic sanctions target civilians far more effectively than any smart bomb ever could dream of doing.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

          Yeah totally agree with you there, oh and sugar! Cheap real sugar!! The embargo has done more than anything else to prop up the regime in Havana. I dare say a few crates of voluntarily imported Mickey Mouse ears would upset Castro than anything our state department could cook up short of invasion.Report

        • Avatar Katherine in reply to Jaybird says:

          I agree on ditching the embargo. I see it as a wager: if you think communism is the worse system, then expose it to capitalism and see if it collapses. If you think Cuban communism is a good system, then it should survive. Either way – if you think you’re right, what have you got to lose?Report

        • Avatar JosephFM in reply to Jaybird says:

          Damn right. Of course I have personal involvement with this issue.
          Someday I’d actually like to meet my girlfriend’s half-sister and niece. I’d like to visit her father’s hometown.

          The sugar thing isn’t going to happen though. We’ve still got tariffs on Brazilian sugar after all. Then again I suppose if the embargo is taken down that would significantly reduce the Fanjuls’ power, so maybe it could be phased in later.Report

        • Avatar Roque Nuevo in reply to Jaybird says:

          Despite their free medical care, there is no medicine for anyone without paying for it in dollars/Euros. When I was there, the jineteros (“riders” in English, i.e., informal tourist guides “riding” you for your money) will ask you first if you want a girl, then if you want cigars, then if you want a place to stay, then if you want medicines. To sustain their free health care, they must prostitute their daughters and sisters, otherwise there’s no money for medicine, shoes, food, etc etc.Report

      • Avatar Silus Grok in reply to North says:

        The embargo is idiotic. And a rising generation of Cubans in Miami are seeing it for what it is. Of course, there’s another way to make a real difference for Cubans …

        http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_romer.htmlReport

      • Avatar Roque Nuevo in reply to North says:

        The embargo is counter producive at this point, although it isn’t all that simple. I agree on exposing Cubans to Capitalism as the most effective tactic to bring down the regime. Unfortunately, property rights are involved: the Cuban government expropriated US property (and everyone else’s) without compensation. This cannot go unanswered if the US wants to maintain property rights.Report

  3. Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

    Does this individual’s despicable actions represent any real threat to the government of the United States?

    Of course they do, unless we do something about it. Hassan is a traitor in wartime. Unless we treat him as such, there will be more. Unless we raise our guard against this kind of thing, there will be more, and not just more mass murderers. There will be more traitors in the government itself, if they can infiltrate the Army.

    Al Qaeda is an ideology and an organizing principle. It’s a network, not a state or an NGO. They finance and provide organizational skills to other jihadist groups. A Muslim does not need to receive direct orders from bin Laden to be considered an al Qaeda convert.

    I agree with Rod that when you have say anti-abortion terrorist activities by self-defined Christians claiming religion as their motivation, you should study their religion. I agree with that proposition in the Ft. Hood case. But why go from there to this act as part of some larger war?

    Because we are at war with jihadist Muslims, who have declared war on us (1996 and 1998) and have attacked us repeatedly. They conceive their war in “Clash of Civilizations” terms as “defensive jihad.” In other words, they think we are attacking their religion. Therefore, according to the jihadists, all Muslims are enjoined to jihad by law. Islamic religious authorities have issued fatwas saying that Muslims cannot legitimately serve in the US military and fight against their own religion and therefore must fight against it. This fact alone makes Hassan’s act “part of a larger war” in the same way as the treason of the Rosenbergs, Alger Hiss, et al were “part of a larger war,” i.e., the Cold War. They worked for the other side. It doesn’t matter for this line of argument that the Cold War traitors, like the Rosenbergs, were responsible for many more deaths of Americans than Hassan.

    As for the “lone wolf” line, anyone who perpetrates mass murder is crazy on some level. But what organized Hassan’s madness (if that’s what it was) and ensured its fulfillment was his religion: Islam. You simply can’t understand his acts without knowing about his religious beliefs. For example, he told his neighbor, “I’m going to do God’s work” just hours before his massacre. Do you want to ignore this along with all the other facts that point to Islam in his life?

    al Qaeda is not Islamist because AQ does not seek to create an Islamic state. It believes the state, understood in the contemporary sense of nationally bounded and identified nation-states, is a heretical infidel construct of the West.

    What are they trying to create, chopped liver? The opposition to the Western nation-state is common to all Islamic groups. They believe that the world should be under Islamic law. What entity would then administer this law? Call it a state or call it chopped liver, it’s still Islamic.

    al Qaeda and The Muslim Brotherhood are enemies as the Muslim Brotherhood is Islamist and does therefore seek a state.

    They both want a world under Islamic law (the Caliphate) because that’s Islam. It does not depend on this or that group. Islamic doctrine is clear on this: the world must submit or die. You call them nihilists, but that fails to take them at their word. It’s just your ethnocentrism rearing it’s nasty head. They don’t consider themselves nihilists, it goes without saying. If they must destroy the old order to achieve this, then so be it. It’s the same so-called destructive mentality that the Bolsheviks had, not because they wanted to destroy, but because the destruction was necessary for creation.

    The Taliban is “neo fundamentalist” and therefore not Islamist? You’re quoting Oliver Roy again. Why not expand your reading a bit? Roy has been wrong too many times to take him seriously. If you like the French historians (and who doesn’t) read Gilles Kepel. He’s an expert on Islamicism and does not traffic in the gobbledygook that Roy does. His (and your) fine distinctions escape me and probably everyone else as well. There’s just no way you can define away the Taliban ideology. They are completely integrated with al Qaeda. In fact, that’s the reason we invaded Afghanistan in the first place.

    there were very few real terrorist plots (and even less attacks) in the West in the last number of years.

    The fact that we have been fighting them, by any means necessary (as they used to say), is the reason that this is true. Do we stop fighting them now because they have been beaten back into the caves of Pakistan? Do we let them, once again, take control of Afghanistan and give them a safe haven from which once again they can regroup and reconstruct and re attack?Report

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