GRAND GESTURE vs. GRAND THEFT AUTO

Generation gaps are real. Even among terrorists.

Probably one in a million Americans would recognize the phrase "Dawson's Field Hijacking." It happened some time ago (1970) and involved no loss of life aside from one of the perpetrators. Four airliners were hijacked simultaneously and directed to a remote field in the Jordanian desert on September 6, 1970. A fifth plane eventually joined them. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine organized the massively complex undertaking as what amounted to a publicity stunt. The use of that phrase is not intended to demean what the people involved went through; no doubt it was harrowing. The Jewish passengers in particular were held as hostages for nearly 10 days before their release for Palestinian activists imprisoned in various countries was negotiated. But ultimately that is what pre-9/11 airline hijackings were – they were leverage in a process of negotiation. And

The plot that eventually became the 9/11 attack evolved from something called "Operation Bojinka" in which Khalid Sheikh Mohammed planned a dizzying ten simultaneous airline hijackings culminating with, in the words of the 9/11 report (emphasis mine):

Nine (planes) would crash into targets on both coasts — they included those eventually hit on September 11 plus CIA and FBI headquarters, nuclear power plants, and the tallest buildings in California and the state of Washington. KSM himself was to land the tenth plane at a U.S.airport and, after killing all adult male passengers on board and alerting the media, deliver a speech excoriating U.S. support for Israel, the Philippines, and repressive governments in the Arab world. Beyond KSM’s rationalizations about targeting the U.S. economy, this vision gives a better glimpse of his true ambitions. This is theater, a spectacle of destruction with KSM as the self-cast star — the superterrorist

Terrorism up to an including 9/11 focused on this sort of Grand Gesture attack. The goal was not necessarily to kill a lot of people, although that certainly was a part of it. Then 9/11 combined the intricate planning, bold execution, and grand spectacle of terrorism as it was understood at the time with large scale murder. The problem, from a terrorist's perspective, is that the 9/11 attack was simply too bold; frankly it is a minor miracle that they pulled it off, and it required not only years of planning but also an enormous amount of good fortune (again, as they saw it) to have it work out.

That was the older generation. Today's "ISIS-inspired" terrorist was not raised on hijackings and PLO press conferences and plans that unfold over the course of years. This is a generation of nihilists who don't care about making things look pretty or striking fear into the heart of the West with their strategic acumen or ability to coordinate complex plans. The only goal here is to make everybody afraid and kill as many people as possible. Part of me likes to think, if there is any shared humanity between people like us and murderous terrorists, that the older generation frowns disapprovingly at The Kids These Days for their brutality, their lack of any interest in political aims, the absence of any pretense of artfulness, and the apocalyptic pointlessness of it all.

That is why what is happening now is so effective and essentially unstoppable. Complex plots create any number of opportunities for security services and counterterrorists to intervene. The kind of attacks we're getting accustomed to over the last two or three years eliminate that possibility by requiring no planning at all. Grab a gun, head for a crowd. Get in a van, head for a crowd. Build a crude bomb (I've not done so, admittedly, but I believe that anyone with time and internet access could figure out how to make something that will blow up) and head for a crowd.

What these people want is not the release of prisoners or the negotiation of political solutions to problems of international relations. The theology of ISIS is apocalyptic. These are end-timers attempting to provoke a final showdown with the non-believers of the world (which, as they define it, includes most Muslims as well). At this rate I have little doubt that they will get it, eventually. Their strategy of provoking increasingly harsh and anti-Islamic reactions from Western governments is moving more quickly than anyone thought possible ten years ago, and every "crackdown" is a recruiting tool ISIS types use to argue that their predictions of anti-Islamic evils perpetrated by democratic governments is coming true. At the rate of an attack per month or even week, it is only a matter of time until the United States, Russia, or the many nations affected in Europe lurch to the far right spectrum of proposed "solutions" to the current problem.

Nobody is making demands. Nobody wants to negotiate. This comparatively small group of people wants to attack Western democracies and drive them mad with fear until they abandon every principle by which they define themselves to strike back. In time they will get what they want. The chapters being written for future history books in the next decade or two are not going to be pleasant reads.

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55 Responses to “GRAND GESTURE vs. GRAND THEFT AUTO”

  1. Berkeley '74 Says:

    Not only that, but it appears we may also get a touch of civil war here and there. Violent clashes between opposing groups today in Portland OR, of all places. I can imagine behavior like that increasing as the noose tightens around the traitor president.

  2. Daniel Says:

    Nobody is making demands because making demands never actually worked, or at least not at the scale the OG terrorists wanted. US support for Israel never wavered, US support for murderous regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere never faltered. If you imagine a group of terrorists bound by a desire to get the US and other Western powers the fuck out of the ME and to get them to stop supporting Israel No Matter What (even to the extent, in the case of the US, of looking the other way when they attack us in order to goad us into a war) – if you imagine the OG terrorists as the former leaders of this group, then it's not that hard to figure out why they're not the leaders anymore: they failed utterly to really achieve any of their goals. Eventually the people following them have to ask *why* they're following them, and after decades of failure there really isn't a good answer for it.

    So what's left is people who have given up on those goals and prefer to kill as many of us as they can and to drag us down to their level. And they're having more success at that than the previous generation of terrorists ever did, which explains in part why they find it easier to recruit than the previous generation of terrorists ever did.

    Basically, for decades, we ignored people who went to great and terrible lengths to convince us that maybe we should stop supporting regimes that are murdering them, because we want cheaper oil. We ignored their calls when delivered diplomatically, and we dismissed their terrorism as the acts of madmen when they did that, too. We were always able to find an excuse to dismiss the cries of people who didn't want our military and our money and our diplomatic leverage put to use propping up brutal regimes that keep them in line with murder and bloodshed.

    And then 9/11 happened, and made it abundantly clear to all that *nothing* they could do would force a change in policy or diplomatic stance (though I suspect the message was already mostly received by that time anyway). So now we have ISIS, who we can't negotiate with, as though we were ever interested in that in the first place. If you're upset by this turn of events that's understandable, but if you're honestly surprised or think it's some kind of historical oddity, then I think you have a lot to learn about human nature.

  3. Talisker Says:

    Ed, you know how much I respect and admire your writing. But on this occasion, I have to say: Fuck you and your fucking pessimism.

    I live in the UK. A school friend was in the immediate vicinity of the London Bridge attack. I can assure you we are not panicking, not demonising Muslims, not initiating some kind of all-encompassing crackdown. We didn't do that after the London bombings in 2005, or the Westminster Bridge attack in March, or the Manchester attack last month, and we aren't going to do it now. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is himself a Muslim. He leads a cosmopolitan city which is angry, which is grieving, but which is determined not to give the terrorists what they want.

    Of course a few right-wing fuckwits on social media are calling for internment camps and mass deportations, but they do not represent us. Our Prime Minister gave a scary speech in which she made vague threats of a crackdown, but even that only amounted to the often-floated idea of a ban on encryption, which will come to nothing because it's technically impossible to implement.

    Theresa May's reaction is in the context of an election this Thursday, in which her party remains ahead in the polls but the gap has narrowed drastically in the last week or so. It was reprehensible, but it has to be seen in a wider perspective. The UK has endured much worse without sacrificing basic freedoms, and by all indications will not change now.

    From what I'm told, US media has played up the "fear and panic in the UK" angle to a ridiculous extent. Instead of taking that at face value, you could have tried checking UK news sources or even asking some Brits personally. (I know I'm not the only one who comments here.)

    Holding onto our democratic values in the face of terrorism is one of the great struggles of our time. Assuming that struggle is already lost is simply not accurate. It's the point where reasonable cynicism crosses the line into nihilistic posturing. If that's the road you want to take then so be it, but I'm not going there with you.

  4. RosiesDad Says:

    @Talisker: Watch John Oliver's opening segment from last night's show. He said what you said.

    https://youtu.be/FueCPbKxRtk

  5. Talisker Says:

    @RosiesDad: Yes indeed. BTW, here's a roundup of UK response to the NYT headline that said we were "reeling" after Manchester.

    Spoiler: Brits are not impressed. Or reeling.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/40156559/thingsthatleavebritainreeling-trends-after-london-attack-in-response-to-headline

  6. Dave Dell Says:

    Did the NYTimes forget the British endured decades of IRA bombings in the 70's, 80's, 90's? Seemed like every other week during that period there'd be a bomb go off in central London.

    "The chapters being written for future history books in the next decade or two are not going to be pleasant reads.", made me smile.

    The "endless progress", "us vs them", gloss of History I received in school made for pleasant reading if you didn't think about what the bulk of the humanity that had to endure. Gotta admit that started to change for me when I got hands on experience in a S.E. Asian country. Since then, there have been very few – if any – pleasant History Book reads for me.

  7. Dave Dell Says:

    Oh, and once again I've gotta say that this problem (set of problems) would be mitigated by fewer people, say 1.5 billion rather than 7.5 billion and rising.

  8. democommie Says:

    Terrorism like AGW and a few other thorny issues have been ignored, denied, discounted and flat out lied about for decades.

    Like AGW, terrorism is an inconvenient and largely intractable manmade phenonomenon.

    Could it "fixed" or at least mitigated? Possibly, with a lot of sacrifice and some degree of humility.

    Will it? I doubt it.

  9. geoff Says:

    @DaveDell, not to mention the Blitz, amirite?

    @Talisker, I unironically salute you and the British people. I am afraid that if this kind of thing were to happen here in the US, people would FREAK THE FUCK OUT, and the kind of draconian crackdown that worries Ed would be quickly forthcoming.

  10. geoff Says:

    Also Ed, I mean this in no way as any kind of defense or justification for blowing up little fucking kids at a pop show, but obviously the "gentleman" terrorists (yes, sarc) of the '70s did nothing to alter Israel's path of stealing more and more of the West Bank or the US' support for same and of course brutal Arab monarchies. I seem to recall our new straight talkin', Muslim hatin' President* kissing the Saudi ring just a couple weeks ago. Those same Saudis are a primary source of the radical Islamic theology which drives today's increasingly (and why not?) nihilistic terrorism. (Not to mention money and arms!)

  11. democommie Says:

    "I am afraid that if this kind of thing were to happen here in the US, people would FREAK THE FUCK OUT, and the kind of draconian crackdown that worries Ed would be quickly forthcoming."

    Well it would be far cheaper to kill them here than to truck allathewarshit over to the ME. Unless they's a big contract in it for Hertizburton Military Vehicle Rental (Hint: make sure you buy the "IED Waiver" package, just sayin').

  12. MS Says:

    Errr, the USA kills thousands of people every year (has for decades) in unprovoked terrorist attacks worldwide, most of them women, children and bystanders. Babies are being blown to bits on a literal daily basis by the USA. It's just that the US calls them "drone strikes" rather than "terrorist attacks". "Targets" get "pounded" rather than "people" being "killed".

    So if there's any contest in apocalyptic terrorism, the USA is winning it by miles. The USA is the largest terrorist organization in the world, by about two or three orders of magnitude if we measure by deaths inflicted.

  13. Safety Man! Says:

    @Dave dell

    And how did things play out in Ireland during that period of IRA bombings? For the youngins here, what happened is that there were British trooops on the ground and they occasionally shot people who may or may not have been legitimate threats.

    In Ed's defense, this is exactly what I can see happening again, not some interment camp YA novel plot. ISIS/ ISIL whatever likes to pretend that they hold territory and a government, if they have any left by now, meaning that unlike most terrorist organizations you can declare a traditional war against them. @Talisker I'm not impugning the character of GB here, I'm just extrapolating that if ISIS keeps this up, the powers that be may well decide to take the fight to the enemy.

  14. Tim H. Says:

    This reminds me… The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing, Frank Zappa
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs_-Maajkos
    The Palestinians are playing into the hands of the worst Israelis.

  15. Tim H. Says:

    This reminds me… The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing, Frank Zappa
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs_-Maajkos
    The Palestinians are playing into the hands of the worst Israelis.

  16. Tim H. Says:

    Apologies for the double post.

  17. ronzie Says:

    @Talisker
    I guess you don't consider the ability to watch internet porn without asking your ISP to turn off the nanny filter or to watch The Daily Show uncut a "basic freedom"? ( ͡ᵔ ͜ʖ ͡ᵔ )

    http://metro.co.uk/2013/07/21/david-cameron-online-porn-will-be-blocked-by-default-3891620/

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/helen-lewis-hasteley/2011/07/commons-shows-stewart

  18. Mo Says:

    This was local for me. The flip side of ISIS terrorism. Oregon Live has a gallery of pictures from the Portland demonstrations yesterday.

    "I have a friend in [] named Ati. Several winters ago, she and her husband Patrick would cook up some delicious dish and bring it to the houseboat I was living on for a potluck every Tuesday. We would bake a smoked salmon pot pie and open the doors to the boat to various Juneau friends. Ati and Patrick were regulars. Although the boat was only big enough to seat six comfortably, we'd often cram eight or ten in the cozy little floating house in Aurora Harbor and share food, stories, laughs, and music. Without fail, every potluck, the banjos and ukuleles and kazoos would make an appearance, and everyone would join in singing the duet "In Spite of Ourselves" by John Prine. The men would sing John Prine's part, the ladies would sing Emmylou Harris.

    A few winters later, I went to Ati's little house she'd bought with her husband. A tough, gritty commercial fishing family, they'd just had a newborn baby and were creating a loving, warm home as a family. At that potluck, I was happy to see the tradition of "In Spite of Ourselves" carrying on, years later, amongst friends and strangers and lots of laughs. Only this time, there were multiple generations present. The newborn, parents in their 40's and 50's with their teenage kids, and the Juneau 20 and 30 somethings. A genuinely loving, happy, welcoming environment.

    Ati and Patrick are model humans. They are both tough as nails and gritty Alaskans. As youngsters, they bought a small house and are fixing it up. They welcome anybody and everybody into their home and show them nothing but warmth and love. Endless love.

    Two days ago, I learned that Ati's little brother, Taliesin was stabbed in the neck on a Portland train, as he created a human barricade between two innocent young girls and an adult man full of hate. I'm sure you all know that story by now. A man in his 30's, claiming to be a "patriot," boarded a train with the intention of hatred and violence. He keyed in on two young girls solely based upon their skin color and clothing. Taliesin and two others wouldn't stand for it. They protected two strangers they never met and paid the ultimate price.

    Taliesin's last words on the train before he passed were "Tell everyone on this train that I love them." Reading the news later, I learned that Ati and her mother's response to the attack were: "I choose love."

    Knowing Ati as I do, I can't help but assume that her entire family radiates the love, warmth, and selflessness that she does. It's apparent that Taliesin didn't fall far from the branch, as his final act on this earth was an act of selfless love. The power, the strength, the beauty, and the sadness in that act are beyond words. A genuine believer in love. A genuine hero.

    I write this because anyone with a pulse can simply look around (or even look into the mirror), and see this creeping normalization of hate. Hatred of anybody and everybody who is slightly different. We are becoming complicit in allowing this hatred to move amongst us unchecked.

    In reverence and respect for Taliesin, Ati, and their family, I ask you all to undergo a serious personal audit. Look at yourself in the mirror. Turn off the tv and listen to what's going on inside your head and your heart. Ask yourself what kind of person do you want to be? Someone who is brazenly and proudly intolerant of Others? Or someone who accepts differences as beautiful and fascinating? Someone who is absolutely committed to NOT listening to other people's stories and learning about who they are? Or someone who is open to the reality that we're all just humans, all deserving of love, support, and acceptance, all with our unique stories? What kind of communities do we want to live in? Ones that are complicit in hatred and violence by silently agreeing with racism, nativism, bigotry, and intolerance? Or ones that are neighborly and civil, supportive, loving, and committed to creating safe and healthy environments for everyone, regardless of skin color or place of worship? What sort of examples do you want to set for your children, your grandchildren? Blind anger? Hatred? Violent intolerance? Silent complicity? Or actual, responsible adult qualities like selflessness, love, acceptance, strength?

    My heart goes out to Ati and her family, and like them, I choose love. I'm hopeful we can all undergo some serious personal audits and remember hatred is a waste of energy, a waste of life. Please open up to your neighbors, to yourselves, and choose love.

  19. Mo Says:

    Previous guote not mine, btw, but from another acquaintance of the family.

  20. Talisker Says:

    @ronzie: Of course we can't be complacent. Governments have torn up human rights in the name of security before, and will do it again. But Ed's "oh noes, all is lost" post is a long, long way from reality.

    As far as internet regulation goes, UK cabinet ministers have previously made noises about banning encryption or censoring all websites. Then the technical people sit down with them and explain using small words that it's impossible, and it's forgotten about until the next time. So far, the current iteration doesn't look much different.

  21. Michael Kimmitt Says:

    The problem is, they're right. There's absolutely nothing that will keep the US from just fucking slaughtering brown people for reasons that make absolutely no sense.

  22. gromet Says:

    The point is taken that the current terrorists make no requests we can accede to. Is there any achievable political goal the London Bridge terrorists were striking in favor of?

    Look at the history and it is not as simple as "we bomb brown people so of course they lash out." Clinton sent troops to the former Yugoslavia to prevent massacre of Muslims and tried to work out a reasonable peace deal that Arafat refused to sign; a year later, 9/11 happened. Obama disappointed Israel enough that Netanyahu campaigned against him, and the EU opened its borders to take in a million refugees from a civil war where both sides are nominally Islamic; but even so, we got Charlie Hebdo, the second Paris attack, the Berlin truck attack, the Cannes attack, Manchester, and now this one.

    There doesn't seem to be any real political goal announced with these attacks. And was there ever? To cite the Dawson's Field Hijacking as the standard of its era is a bit romantic; why not cite the massacre of Olympic athletes at Munich? These attacks are all repulsive; they are not well designed if the goal is to make us reflect. They are also poorly designed if the goal is to achieve anything but death.

    I think the goons who perpetrate these things are bloodthirsty assholes who represent nothing but a small psychotic community of losers, and the headlines after any attack should attribute it not to Islam or politics or poverty or anything. SMALL-DICKED ASSWIPES BRING SHAME UPON THEIR MOTHERS, the headlines should read. DECENT PEOPLE MYSTIFIED AS TO MOTIVE.

  23. Tim H. Says:

    The goal seems to be that no Muslim find safety or comfort in the west so their broke dick movement will look like a good idea.

  24. cromartie Says:

    When you perceive yourself as having nothing, you have nothing to lose. Once you get to that point, nihilism looks awfully attractive.

  25. Prairie Bear Says:

    You can thank the recently departed foreign-policy genius Zbigniew Brzezinski for a certain amount of today's terrorism. Regarding other countries as little more than pieces for the United States to move around in a game of geopolitical chess, he came up with the brilliant idea of financing and equipping the Afghan Mujahideen to trouble the Soviet Union. One member of that group, Osama bin Laden, was at that time regarded by our government and most US citizens as a "freedom fighter." There is a pretty clear line from there to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, 9-11, etc., down to Manchester and whatever comes next.

  26. gromet Says:

    @Prairie, I dunno, the whole "we created Osama" line is not very satisfying. Let's accept that nations act to advance their interests; Brzezinski didn't invent the idea. So how is it that Osama gets a bunch of US support — enough to evict the Soviets — and then turns on his supplier so violently? What else should we have done for the guy, realistically? Stick around to help him build roads and schools? Come on. There is no clear line to Manchester from helping a Saudi trust-fund kid resist Communist imperialism in Afghanistan.

    Similarly, @cromartie, the "nothing to lose" argument is a hard one to swallow when you think about the beaucoup riyals bin Laden could have gone home to, or KSM's rockstar daydream of Bojinka. These assholes are romanticizing themselves, and that's a small, moronic cult they belong to. One that makes no real demands and therefore exists for no reason except for its members to aggrandize themselves on a pile of dehumanized bodies.

  27. Major Kong Says:

    As I recall, Bin Laden's main gripe was the US military presence in Saudi Arabia (holiest site in Islam) after the 1991 Gulf War.

    We rather notably, and without much fanfare, pulled out of Saudi Arabia not too long after the 9/11 attacks.

  28. Jice Says:

    @Talisker – The British may not be, but us Americans are. We are looking at the tradgedies that have happened the way a 5 year old would – with fear and a need to 'do something big'. While you have the appropriate response, the child with the largest gun doesn't. It doesn't matter that you're not responding the way ISIS wants. We are.

  29. Major Kong Says:

    For a preview of 9/11 take a look at FedEx 705 in 1994.

    A disgruntled pilot attempted to hijack a DC-10 and crash it. He very nearly succeeded.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Express_Flight_705

  30. gromet Says:

    In truth, I have always believed one of the main motivations to invade Iraq was to obtain it as our regional base, as 9/1 highlighted that to continue using Saudi Arabia as our regional base was rubbing lunatics the wrong way. (This view was encouraged by an article I read in Foreign Policy in early 2003, I think, or coulda been late 02 — I wish I could cite it for you but alas, I don't remember the author or exact timing.) In a sense, then, 9/11 achieved its stated aim.

    That said, it's still not a straight line from 1980 Afghanistan to 9/11 to Manchester. What would lead the 9/11 hijackers to believe they would gain more for Islam by attacking the WTC than they might by attacking Riyadh? That's not a straight line, and once again, the question is: What is the realistic goal? If you want the US out of Saudi Arabia, then pick our new spot in the region, because realistically, we're not going home. I guess they might have hoped we'd relocate to Turkey, with a port in Emirates? And an administration other than Bush's might have done so, quietly over the course of 8 years. But then that would not have been a smooth road, either, for us or Turkey, so maybe not. And that still doesn't answer what is the achievable political goal of blowing up a lot of teenage girls at an Ariana Grande concert? It is barbaric and it is politically deluded; I believe any political cause is poorly thought out and much secondary to satisfying personal delusions. Not a political effort any more than Columbine was.

  31. gromet Says:

    Oops — above should begin @Major Kong @ 12:29

  32. Major Kong Says:

    @Gromit

    I think your error is connecting Bin Laden and ISIS. Even though their means are similar, the two are different groups with different motivations.

    We tend to think that it's one big "Legion of Doom" out there and all our enemies are working together.

  33. HoosierPoli Says:

    Again, I couldn't disagree more. The mass murder terrorist attack has already begun to lose its potency. The Bataclan, Nice…these stopped the world in its tracks. That wasn't even two years ago and we're already yawning. Strategic bombing didn't work and neither does strategic terror. My only concern is that several hundred more people are going to die before everyone involved realizes that nobody cares anymore and whatever successor organization replaces the bloody stump of ISIS turns their attention to some new pet cause.

  34. democommie Says:

    All terrorism is, to use Clause von Clausewitz analogy, politics by other means.

    Of course we all know that anybody blowing anything up in the U.S. or other developed country is a pinprick compared to the massive retaliation that will be visited upon other countries in the niggling likelihood that we will thus GET the guys who did it.

    I would argue that George W. Bush's abandonment of U.S. involvement in the ongoing spat between Israel and the Palestinians was the proximate "Go for it, doooooooood" to the late and never lamented Osama Is Rottin.

  35. Major Kong Says:

    We would do well to treat these people like the criminal thugs that they are rather than elevate them to the "warrior" status they so desperately crave.

  36. democommie Says:

    "When you perceive yourself as having nothing, you have nothing to lose."

    Sort of a grammatically correct, "Me and Bobby McGee."

  37. gromet Says:

    @Major Kong @1:48, agreed!

  38. democommie Says:

    "We would do well to treat these people like the criminal thugs that they are rather than elevate them to the "warrior" status they so desperately crave."

    Troo,dat.

    "There is a pretty clear line from there to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, 9-11, etc., down to Manchester and whatever comes next."

    I think that there's a pretty clear line from at least WWI if not the turn of the 20th century. Great Britiain, France, Germany, Italy,Imperial Russia, Belgium, the Dutch and the Turks all had designs on the mid-east and Africa and they managed, without a lot of input from the locals, to carve it up amongst themselves several times between the late 1800's and 1945. It did not happen without pushback from various factions in the affected regions.

    What does anyone suppose might happen if Al Queda were to overthrow the current despotic regime in Riyadh? $100B in weaponry in the hands of total whackjobs. What could go wrong with that?

  39. geoff Says:

    @Mo, so sorry to hear about your friend's loss. Thanks for your post.

  40. Gerald McGrew Says:

    As Ed notes, ISIS is a doomsday, end of times cult. Their aim is to provoke the west into an all-out war, where they believe they will be driven back to Jerusalem, at which point their end times savior will arise and defeat their enemies (the west). Then a global Caliphate will be established.

    There is no negotiating with this sort of mentality, because they have nothing to negotiate for. They will either be defeated militarily, and when it's seen that events didn't unfold as they prophesied, they will lose all credibility; or they will slowly fade away as Islam becomes more "westernized".

    The wild cards in all this are global warming and the use of oil. Both carry high potential to massively disrupt the middle east and change everything in ways we cannot possibly foresee. Much of the ME could become uninhabitable, which would trigger massive migration and cultural/political upheaval. Or if the price of oil drops dramatically (due to new energy sources), much of the money flowing into the ME will dry up, causing….again….massive social/political upheaval.

  41. Jestbill Says:

    One problem with understanding the terrorists is in assigning some master strategy to any of 'em. Each little group may have a leader, strategy and goal, but they are not deep thinkers.
    The individuals involved just get up in the morning and decide to go to meeting or to go blow something up.

    Claims that we might cow them into passivity by being tough are stupid.
    Claims that we might negotiate a truce are stupid.
    We're dealing with a bunch of people from different places with different backgrounds and attitudes.

    Now, if we were somehow able to arrange for their neighbors to be normal everyday people with jobs and families able to live peaceably and eat regularly, we might just accidentally make a difference in the world.

    Could even work in Mexico.

  42. Deggjr Says:

    My understanding of the Algerian War of Independence is it was a series of terrorist acts/retaliations of increasing intensity. At some point Charles de Gaulle decided the war wasn't worth it. Many Frenchman wanted to fight and kill on.

    So there is a precedent where terrorist attacks ultimately led to a winning end game.

    We get Chicago news although we do not live in Chicago. It's hard not to be flippant but the death tolls from terror attacks are roughly equivalent to bad weekends in Chicago.

    Why is there so much press coverage/concern about terror attack death tolls and so little press coverage/concern about Chicago's death toll? I'd hate to think the levels are based on the skin color but if not, why is there a difference?

  43. mothra Says:

    Deggjr: The lack of coverage has a lot to do with the color of the victims' skin, yes–look at the paltry amount of coverage a terrorist attack in Iraq or Afghanistan gets. Then also, if they start reporting about the violence in Chicago or about gun deaths in the U.S., there then will have to be some kind of examination of the causes and no one wants to talk about that. No sirree.

  44. schmitt trigger Says:

    Not to mention deaths from tobacco or texting accidents

  45. democommie Says:

    @ mothra:

    RE: Chicago and other large cities abutting or surrounded by states with lax or effectively non-existent firearms regualtion. Gunz will flow to money. And in a lot of places where people believe in "Security by Smith&Wesson" they tend to leave their weaponry in autos, often visible, sometimes with the doors unlocked.

    When people think gunz are the answer–all problems have a (or can be solved with a double or triple-tap, center mass.

  46. DaveKan Says:

    This post was not very funny – 3/10

  47. Coises Says:

    Mo,

    Thank you for that.

    In the long run, the only defense against hate is to choose love.

  48. Brian M Says:

    "There is no negotiating with this sort of mentality, because they have nothing to negotiate for. They will either be defeated militarily, and when it's seen that events didn't unfold as they prophesied, they will lose all credibility; or they will slowly fade away as Islam becomes more "westernized"."

    I think there is no defeating "them" militarily because ISIS is not a State. I think it is useful to look back at the Anarchist terrors of the early 20th century-that is the precedent we are facing.

    The bigger issue is larger scale ecological collapse, of course.

  49. NickT Says:

    I think Ed is wrong, for the simple reason that American society has already learned to tolerate a large group of murderous fanatics and now sees the weekly, even daily, massacres of citizens by gun-toting kooks as the new normal. At this rate, ISIS will end up as just another generator of statistics over which we all tut-tut before returning to excessive consumption of calories and mediocre internet shows.

  50. NickT Says:

    @democommie

    Not to be all controversial, but Carl von Clausewitz would be a little surprised that you've rebranded him.

  51. Katydid Says:

    @NickT; five people gunned down today in Orlando by a disgruntled former co-worker. News breezed right by it.

  52. democommie Says:

    @ Nick T.:
    er
    Mea culpa. I 've been jumping back and forth on the intertoobz, losing connectivity and just generally typing a lot of comments in bits and pieces.

  53. Bessemer Mucho Says:

    Mucho's Law: the more people there are, the more stupid people there are.
    This has many possible corollaries, such as:
    The more people there are, the more murderous nihilists there are.

  54. Ormond Otvos Says:

    I suppose I'm old and blase, but I'm reading a mass of reactions scripted by the media here. Innumerate much?
    Read Pinker's "Better Angels"

  55. Brian M Says:

    Ormond:

    There are multiple apocalypses that kill far more people than Semitic Death Cults. How many people die on an annual basis from car crashes? Bad diets? Accidents.

    But yes, things were even nastier in the old days. Heck, with all the chlorinated plastics and chemicals suffusing our lives, testosterone levels have declined and that macho savagery has followed suit. Reducing levels of lead in the American environment helps too.