19 Jan 2006

Islamic Terrorism Could Win

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Spengler argued against John Keegan’s optimism regarding the inevitability of Western victory in Asia Times shortly after 9/11:

The grand vulnerability of the Western mind is horror. The Nazis understood this and pursued a policy “des Schreckens” (to cause horror) and “Entsetzens” (terror, literally: dislodgement). Horror was not merely an instrument of war in the traditional sense, but a form of Wagnerian theater, or psychological warfare on the grand scale…

America, as Osama bin Laden taunted this week, lost in Vietnam. But it was not military setbacks, but the horrific images of Vietnamese civilians burned by napalm, that lost the war. America’s experience in the war is enshrined in popular culture in the film Apocalypse Now, modeled after Joseph Conrad’s story, The Heart of Darkness. The Belgian trading company official, Paul Kurtz, sinks into bestiality and dies with these words: “The horror! The horror!”…

From America’s moral collapse in the face of the horror of Vietnam, there arose a repudiation of classical Western culture unlike anything seen previously in the English-speaking world….

…how can Al-Qaeda overcome the West with horror? Let us suppose that some state or state agency over which Al-Qaeda wields influence possesses a weapon of mass destruction, with sufficient potency to cause a very large number of deaths in a Western country. If it deploys that weapon and causes a very large number of casualties, the West may have no choice but to bombard the offending country with nuclear weapons and destroy its capacity to make war. Given that Al-Qaeda has tendrils deep in numerous governments, even a nuclear bombardment of one rogue state might not diminish its capacities. The West would be left with the horrific fact of mass destruction of civilians combined with continued insecurity.

Time is on the side of Al-Qaeda…

…the West should think of itself as the underdog, fighting against the clock, and seize the tactical initiative. It should act unpredictably, with the objective of confusing and disrupting an enemy who until now has chosen his targets at leisure… the West should act unexpectedly and without mercy against states which allow Al-Qaeda. There is no need to go into details here. Doing so now offers at least the chance of gaining the respect of the Islamic world. Failing to do so makes probable a gradual accumulation of failures. It means that the war will be Al-Qaeda’s to lose.

We were lucky with Hitler. We may not be so lucky again.

George W. Bush should have pinned this article on the wall above his desk. He was right to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, but he allowed the War against Terrorism to lose momentum. Syria should have been invaded and its regime dismantled immediately after Iraq. We should have invaded Iran long ago.

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