Quote for the Day


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.

Related Post Roulette

24 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    Very encouraging. Of course it makes the existential flimflam of the last 8 years or so even more ridiculous in hindsight.Report

  2. Avatar Scott says:


    Pretending away or “down grading” the threat of Al-Qaeda isn’t going to make them go away, however much you or the Obama admin might want that to occur. Do you live in Janet Napolitano’s fantasy land where the system “worked”? Oh, and this still doesn’t make them anarchists.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to Scott says:

      Even as the microscopically small radicalized and mobilized base continues to plot and even to thrive in its isolated pockets, it has largely lost its ability to break out into mainstream public appeal.

      The piece about the Obama admin “downgrading” has to do with this statement and the followup statement “even if the dynamics which produced it were largely local and internal to the Arab and Muslim worlds.”

      Do you actually ever read what you are commenting on? It has nothing to do with Janet Napolitano and her screwball comment.

      The point of the article is that al-Qaeda can’t mobilize support in the Arab world. They are ignored. This has major political and social implications. It does not imply they are now somehow unable to launch terrorist attacks (obviously).Report

  3. Avatar Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Scott’s pleas for AQ’s relevancy are most enlightening.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

      Since one of them nearly blew up a loaded aircraft the other day, I think they are relevant.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Scott says:

        They certainly hope so.Report

        • Avatar Scott in reply to North says:

          Why are you so flippant when they almost killed a number of people?Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Scott says:

            Because mockery, above almost anything else, is what they and their backwards ideology deserve. Derisive laughter ridden mockery.Report

            • Avatar Scott in reply to North says:

              Why can’t you seem to understand how close the people on that plane came to dying? I’m sure they take Al Qaeda seriously and understand the threat.Report

            • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to North says:

              Hey, North, ‘lil buddy, I hope them Ay-rabs ain’t around when you board one of our “safe” airliners!!
              Thank goodness we don’t have no “war on terror!” Whew!Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

                Board an airliner Bob my good friend? You must not be with the times. Buying an airline ticket now is like buying a ticket to a demented carnival. You get to go to the airport, stand in line for a few hours; watch a collection of hapless underpaid high school dropouts stumble around with metal detector wands; Jump through some hoops; Take off your shoes; Put on your shoes; Run through the magic arch a few times; audit the contents of your carry on with a TSA gnome and then miss your flight and go home in disgust.

                But perhaps I’m being excessively flip.

                More seriously, as long as the Queda’s can find people who are idiotic enough to be willing to blow themselves to kingdom come then I’m dubious as to what can actually be done to prevent it. Our current expensive joke of homeland security instituted by Bush Minor didn’t seem to do much. Bush Minor’s pet wars were impressive and made for some fascinating news stories and certainly the Arabs must appreciate that they don’t have to travel to America to kill Americans but here again we have some religion addled fool tottering up to the plane in explosive underpants.

                The Israelis have figured out how to run a secure airline. El Al has armored cargo holds, well payed professional security specialists and you essentially have to show up about 6 hours in advance to in essence do an interview to get your plane seat. This is excellent security but of course El Al processes less passengers than Jefferson on a slow day and wouldn’t recognize a profitable business plan if it smacked them in the face. The model can’t scale up to American needs.

                Now yes, there are some PC-nicks and Civil Liberty extremists who are definitely hampering airport security procedures but there is a time for some gimlet eyed facing of reality. As long as the Islamists can brainwash people into being willing to die to accomplish it it is going to be damn near impossible to prevent them from sneaking something dangerous onto planes. Obviously every practical measure can and should be taken but watching conservatives go “They’re trying to kill us, don’t think, just do something! Anything!!!!” is kindof ironic considering how they spend so much time mocking the left wingers for screaming “People are getting sick and dying, don’t think, just do something! Anything!!!”.

                How can we hurt terrorists? We can hurt them by refusing to be terrorized. Laughter is a big part of that. It’s especially easy when we’re being menaced by malfunctioning thermal Nikes or combustible Calvin Kleins. Nothing will steam up the retrograde towel wrapped nutballs scratching at their fleabites in rural Pakistan more than being laughed at.Report

  4. Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

    So now there’s a “trend” of declining support in the Arab/Muslim world for al Qaeda, and Lynch and you somehow know, without specifying even one little bit how they can “know”such a momentous fact, that support will not revive even if al Qaeda’s attempted attacks are successful. This trend is “helped along,” of course, by the wise course laid out by our Obamamama, who has wisely “downgraded” the threat al Qaeda poses. Our Obamamama is therefore completely in tune with the “trend” in Arab/Muslim land, unlike “some people” in the US who have given the story a “disturbing enthusiasm.” So our Obamamama’s downgrading policy system works!

    My initial reaction was to think that it’s a very good thing that Lynch and his ilk are not in charge of national security policy. We don’t need siren songs at this point. But then I remembered: Hope N’Change! They are in charge of national security policy. This is more “disturbing” than any neocon “enthusiasm” for defeating al Qaeda ever was.

    Lynch says, “Al-Qaeda’s attempted acts of terrorism simply no longer carry the kind of persuasive political force with mass Arab or Muslim publics which they may have commanded in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.” Is this “trend” just another “trend,” like declining enthusiasm for some TV show? That’s the way Lynch paints it: public opinion is shifting somehow due to “internal dynamics,” whatever that means, in Arab and Muslim societies. Of course, he, and you, cannot leave our Obamamama out of the picture just because “internal dynamics” explain everything. He has generated a wholesome synergy with his magical words and Arab publics have responded by further curbing their enthusiasm. O! The rhetorical power of our Obamamama reached deep into the Arab street after all.

    How can anyone take such shameless propaganda seriously? Maybe it takes a theologian…

    The fact is that our Obamamama can now downgrade the threat of al Qaeda because of our political, military, and financial war against them. Our Obamamama inherited an al Qaeda on the ropes and now he and his apologists, like you, want to give him him the credit. Ask yourself what historical conditions have changed after 9/11. One thing that’s changed is that we and our allies have been attacking al Qaeda relentlessly since then on many different fronts. This has led to declining success for al Qaeda. Nothing succeeds like success, after all. Success is their best recruiting tool. We have denied them that tool for the past eight years.

    Maybe I’m right and maybe I’m wrong. But at least I’m attempting an explanation, in contrast to you and Lynch, who offer none (except for our Obamamama’s preternatural wisdom).

    Then somehow this mismash becomes evidence for your al Qaeda/Anarchist analogy. How does that one work? Anarchists, Nazis, Communists, nationalists, right-to-life fanatics, and many others have used terror and support for them eventually declined. Support for these groups has declined not because of some vague and unspecified “internal dynamics” or because of the magical words of some Dear Leader, but because the US and its allies fought and destroyed them. Al Qaeda is analogous to the old anarchists in this respect only. Al Qaeda is analogous to Nazism and Communism based on much more solid ideological grounds. But if you admitted that, you’d be taking sides with the neocons. This is not acceptable for a trendy progressive theologian, so you dig your hole deeper.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Here is the thing that has me worried.

    It strikes me that 9/11 was a fluke. For the most part, the people who hate us and are trying to kill people are about as competent at being warriors as the Three Stooges were at being plumbers.

    The shoe bombings, crotch bombings, even the 9/11 crashers, all that sort of thing… well, those guys are social losers. If they weren’t losers, they’d find themselves caught up in the whole “well, I’ll bomb the infidel next weekend, there’s a party this weekend” thing. We’re stuck with twenty-somethings who can’t connect or interact properly outside of a heavily-regimented religious interaction.

    For the most part, they are stuck coming up with these grandiose plans of “wouldn’t it be awesome if” and then blowing off their own junk.

    Except for once, when the plan worked pretty much as advertised.

    Now what has me worried is how much of an outlier 9/11 was and *WHY* 9/11 was an outlier.

    I suspect that one of the main reasons 9/11 was an outlier because we had been trained that hijackers were going to fly the plane to Cuba. Just sit still, once the plane lands, get to the Canadian embassy and things will happen from there. So when the guy stands up and yells Allahu Akhbar, we sit still, avoid eye contact, and wait for whatever the hell it is he wants to do to get behind us.

    Now we know that when a guy yells something like that, we stand up and kick the itshay out of him.

    That will result in future attacks all taking the form of 1 guy (rather than a bunch of guys, like on 9/11) wearing a bomb that wasn’t likely to be patted down before the guy got on the plane (since then, of course, we remove our shoes and the TSA is still hammering out underwear rules).

    Which brings us to the following: Have we reached the point in security where another 9/11 is impossible and only bombs unlikely to work (binary explosives using travel sized toothpaste tubes, junk bombs) will be brought aboard and future attacks will be failing due to a mixture of the “bombs won’t work” with the “losers trying to use them” thing.

    If that’s the case, then everything that the TSA is doing to make things worse for you and me and anybody will not help.

    If, however, the attacks from the shoe bombs and the junk bomb were outliers and most terrorist attacks would be pretty good… well, then we need to do more and we need to ask questions of what “more” realistically ought to consist of (body imaging! profiling! no fly lists for the planet!).

    It seems to me that 9/11 was the outlier… and it was only an outlier because we had trained the American People that the authorities need to be the ones who take care of things like this.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

      I agree Jay. And what horrible things does that say about the usefulness of our expenditures on not just the TSA and its ilk but also of the War on Terror? Nothing good I fear.Report

  6. Avatar steve says:

    “My reaction “to a failed terrorist attack” is that we ain’t killing enough of the bastards!”

    Good idea. How do we find them? No need to answer here. Just send your answer to the Pentagon. Next question, how do we prevent their number from growing? We know that they need publicity. They have relied on about 30-40% of their recruiting coming from internet/media efforts. Downplaying them as a threat in public speech, means they have less to work with. We need less posturing as it only makes for good copy for the other side. Why must it be that we always lose the IO war with AQ?



    • Avatar JohnR in reply to steve says:

      “..how do we prevent their number from growing?”
      Well sure, cut down on the publicity, but all these groups want, and all they’ve ever wanted throughout history, is to be reacted to. The best recruitment officer alQ ever had was GW Bush, with Cheney a close second. It’s an interesting puzzle how to let them have their People’s Front of Judea meetings without letting them have their “assassination of Franz Ferdinand” successes/consequences. Perhaps trying to stay on reasonable terms with their “host” states and pounding them down at every opportunity with a keen eye on minimizing dead women and children would do the trick, but it has to be remembered that any group can succeed at this sort of thing eventually. Even a brutally closed society won’t be able to stop absolutely everything, I believe, and I don’t see the point in “stopping radical Islam” by turning the US into a “Christian” version of Saudi Arabia. Seems to me that that, more than anything else, would be “letting the Terrorists win”.Report

      • Avatar Roque Nuevo in reply to JohnR says:

        “The best recruitment officer alQ ever had was GW Bush, with Cheney a close second.”

        Wrong! Or was Lincoln to blame for loyalty to the South? It’s just silly to blame Bush for ordering the government to mobilize against Al Qaeda after 9/11 and so many other attempts against American lives and property.

        We can stop radical Islam by defeating it. The so-called trend of declining support for it that was the topic of this thread is evidence that defeat leads to loss of “recruiting potential.” or maybe it’s just coincidence that this loss of support for AlQaeda in thaw Arab/Muslim world coincided with our success in Iraq, which they themselves had declared the “central front” of the war.Report

  7. Avatar JJ says:

    Well, as much as it may shock the pundit class in the USA, what happens to America isn’t the most important thing in the universe to 90% of the world. It is just American ego that seems to automatically assume that if something happened (or in this case, almost happened) in the US then it must be big news everywhere.

    And Mark Thompson / North, you guys have the right of it. I know a lot of pundits and those that engage in ‘war on terror’ fetishism like to think ‘everything changed’ and this is some new unique threat but you have to get real and put things into perspective. Throughout the entire course of human history people lived with the danger of other groups of people coming in and violently attacking them for ideological / religious / economic reasons. Doesn’t matter if it was Viking raiders on the shores of Normandy or a Native American war party, those people on that airliner were not the first nor the last to skirt death at the hands of others. Building up AQ to be some super-villainous bogey men that children should hide under their beds from does more to help them then to help us.

    They are a group of people that due to a combination of ideology, religion, and circumstances have an axe to grind with the United States and like many in human history they intend to use violence to grind it. We should respond seriously yes, but taking the threat seriously doesn’t mean we have to have a major media freak out and hide out in bunkers afraid to fly. And it certainly doesn’t mean that going around shouting ‘war on terror!’, ‘war on terror!’ is going to make us safer in any sense.

    And while saying ‘kill the bastards’ might work for a B-rated action flick where every bad guy is clearly labeled, genocidal warfare isn’t very morally defensible in the real world.Report