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The triteness of evil

Normally, I don't like cliche's. They're usually signs of lazy thinking. But there is a reason that they become so popular; it's because they usually have a grain of truth at their core.

With the bombings last week in Jordan, I'm becoming more and more convinced that Al Qaeda is, indeed, doomed to lose -- and that they are quite possibly on the ropes.

One of the distinctions between Al Qaeda and several other terrorist organizations is that they really don't have a good sense of Western PR. Other terrorist groups have, and have parlayed that into acceptance among the more soft-minded of the West. Hamas, for example, covers up its butcherous past (including the slaughter of over 200 US Marines) by establishing separate "wings" of their organization. They are a semi-legitimate political party, as well as doing charitable works. They say that they are separate from the "military wing," but still exist under the unifying Hamas banner.

The PLO was another one that managed to straddle terrorism and legitimacy, morphing into "The Palestinian Authority" when they had the chance. Nowadays, they are pretty much the Palestine government -- such as it is -- and have yet to renounce terrorism.

But not Al Qaeda. They had their single great success, and they have paid for it over and over again. And now, it's becoming clearer that they are "stuck on stupid," embodying the old saying "when your only tool is a hammer, all your problems start looking like nails."

Al Qaeda's built its success on a foundation of corpses. Every single one of their victories has been in killing. They have come to associate success with bombs so much that they seem to think that if things start going bad, just use more bombs or bigger bombs or bombs in new places, and eventually it'll all work out for them.

But their application of that theory in Jordan seems to be backfiring. By targeting something only tangentially connected with the West, they ended up killing far more Muslims than Westerners. And unlike in Iraq, where their slaughters tend to be glossed over and quickly forgotten, this time the damage to their image is severe.

Muslims around the world are looking at Al Qaeda now, and not seeing noble warriors. They're not seeing liberators. They're not seeing fierce champions, standing up to the crusaders. They're seeing the mad dog they've been cheering on as it snaps at the West now turning on them. And those fine words of courage and resistance are now being heard as "the beatings will continue until morale improves."

Steven Den Beste says that this could be a symptom of just how much damage we have done to Al Qaeda, signs that they are dissolving into components and cells, their unifying structure gutted and shredded. I think he very well could be right.

The bombings in Jordan will, I believe, turn out to be the Pyrrhic victory that signifies the beginning of the end of Al Qaeda. And, as they fall further and further into disgrace, I hope others will begin turning on the Islamists, and we might actually see the beginning of a true "Reformation" among Islam.

It's not happening any time soon, however. President Bush was dead-on when he said this war will most likely last years, perhaps decades. I hope like hell we have the strength.


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Comments (14)

I think you mean "the banal... (Below threshold)

I think you mean "the banality of evil" from Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem". A passionate telling of this is Joseph Brodsky's "Commencement Address".

Jay, you've got two beautif... (Below threshold)

Jay, you've got two beautiful quotes in there.

This quandary is the same as that faced by the Red Brigade decades ago in Italy. When their public bombings finally turned public sentiment against them, they had defeated their own cause. Back then, when my brother was the editorial cartoonist for the Beaumont (TX) Enterprise, he drew members of the Red Brigade, holed up in their lair, reviewing headlines of the public outrage against them, as one suggests that the way to turn things around was to start blowing themselves up.


Great post Jay, one of your... (Below threshold)

Great post Jay, one of your best.

Trackback by All Things Beautiful "Don't Get Captured"

I've given up trying to ping, my arm hurts! LOL!

Actually, Brooks, I was pla... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Actually, Brooks, I was playing off of that phrase. I didn't want to use the exact wording, so I ran with the cliche's and called it "triteness." But you're right, "banality" is a far superior phrase. Too bad someone beat me to it by about 60 years.


There's an item in NRO's 'T... (Below threshold)

There's an item in NRO's 'The Corner' this morning concerning some bigwig imam in Jordan furiously denouncing the 11/9 terrorist attacks from his pulpit and then taking the additional step of urging his followers to cooperate with the Jordanian intelligence services and also barring some Saudi-based Sunni sect from his mosque. Looks like Al-Qaeda is being run by idiots.

Perhaps I'm ascribing more ... (Below threshold)

Perhaps I'm ascribing more powers of reason to the terrorists than they actually possess, but I think their intent was to persuade Jordan to sever all ties with the West. By bombing US-based franchises, AQ was attempting to send a message that allowing Western businesses and/or influence within Jordan's borders was bad for Jordanians, and that people who patronized those businesses were in danger. Of course, that wasn't the message that Jordanians got.

I don't think they're quite so dense as to think exactly along the lines you draw, Jay, but they've demonstrated before that there are elements of western thought that they're unable to grasp, so the thought processes you lay out aren't unreasonable, and may play a factor. To them, violence and mayhem do indicate success.

One area in which they were horribly accurate, however, is in estimating the brevity of America's outrage over 9/11. By 9/13, the MSM had in place their agenda to stop the "angry" sentiment and replace it with the whimpering, hurt, scared, and defeated tone that the terrorists sought to inspire.

Thanks for this post. I've been pondering an "amateur" psychological analysis of AQ for some time now, and this may have been just the motivation I need to follow through with it.

What about the idea that th... (Below threshold)
Greg G:

What about the idea that this is an indication that Osama bin Laden is dead or otherwise unavailable? Sure, Osama relied on killing people, but not killings that would disgust those who might follow him; many of those potential supporters cheered the WTC and Pentagon bombings and, as you point out, don't particularly care how many Iraqis get killed. But lately there has been the Morrocan diplomats and the Jordanian bombings. Not only that, but many potential supporters are seem to be getting upset - or at least tired - of the beheadings. I think Osama would have changed his tactics (in the case of the beheadings) to gain/keep popular support, and would have been more careful in choosing his bombing targets. Either the AQ leadership is fragmenting or it has been taken over by someone like then non-suble hardline al Zarqawi

On the other hand, it is possible that Osama is still directing AQ, but either he has fewer and fewer options or is starting to believe he is really Allah's chosen one and therefore does not have to listen to anyone else.

You've got a point about ho... (Below threshold)

You've got a point about how attacks in Jordan would be much more noticable than those in Iraq.

But I think you're giving "al Qaida" too much credit. The AQ of Osama bin Laden was pretty much destroyed years ago. What you have now is an attack-responsibility organization, where some guys blow themselves up at their own initiative and then, after judging wether they like the attacks or not, the global leaders take responsibility.

Regarding #57 Steven Den Be... (Below threshold)

Regarding #57 Steven Den Beste 11/12/2005 09:18PM PST (LGF)

"Soon they won't have anywhere left to stand when the music stops."

Yes, that would be nice. But I don't see a decline in the population of Al Qaeda emulators/simulators, short term.

Whatever the body count/disassembly of current operational units.

More is to come. Whether they have ground to stand, or rest upon. Bombs in concert with bodies, will not be their only venue/stage. I certainly hope SDB is right. And that I am wrong. But I only see blackness.

I think even they know they... (Below threshold)

I think even they know they are on the wrong path in killing their own this way. Terror doesn't work with everyone. They might read a good book about early Christian Martyrs.

Let us not forget another g... (Below threshold)

Let us not forget another group which used "political" and "military" wings to defraud and confuse the public, the all-Christian IRA.

Their scheme worked pretty well, enabling them to raise "cash for terror" in all the major American cities.

In the end, it was finally the Irish women themselves who called "bullshit" on this effective device.

It's going to take Muslims--men and women--in sufficient numbers--to call "bullshit" on the Islamist groups.

Exactly, John Burgess.<br /... (Below threshold)

Exactly, John Burgess.
It's just that the jihadis won't be so coy about killing their own mothers as the IRA was.

A... (Below threshold)

America's Mission to war was unfounded. That’s what has people so up in arms. President Bush stood before God, The World and The Nation and presented us with a grocery list of items (violation of treaties) Saddam was to have committed. He had Collin Powell, put on a dog and pony show for the U.N. with some fuzzy photos and then gave a deadline for the inspection teams to be out of Iraq. While eating dinner with Laura one night at a very long dining table in the White House, he was notified that the first smart bomb had been released on Iraq striking it's target and possible Saddam and his two sons. Boy would that have been pomp and circumstance? Some years prior to Desert Storm, Saddam was reportedly beating, raping and murdering his own people. That did not phase the Bush Administration in keeping Donald Rums field from visiting Iraq twice during that time to shake hands with Saddam and more than likely said "the President wants you to know that, your doing a heckofva job Husseinie." As I recall the reason we went to war was to prevent Condi's prediction of the mushroom cloud, find stock pile up on stock piles of what Bush threatened to be weapons of mass destruction. Before we got there the cities had electricity. food, water, an economy and a business district. True to Saddam's nature their were some rapes, murders, tortures and such still taking place. But our reason was very clear for going "over there" and that was to find weapons of mass destruction and destroying them as well as any location that was capable of producing such weapons. We drove over sandy hills both day and night, and when we got to Baghdad it was apparent that long range missiles and smart bombs had control of the city - or so we thought. In the months, then years ahead we began receiving reports about roadside bombings, suicide attacks, our own troops became involved
by abusing prisoners. Not once did we stop along the way and say "hey guys look at this a bottle of Anthrax? Or Look how this stuff is packaged think it could be a dirty bomb? In all the facilities that we checked we never found one booby trapped to explode (in order to hide its existence) In stead in the cold dark night we sent our toughest, roughest, meanest looking solders house to house kicking in doors and dragging people out in to the street, screaming and kicking. Most male head of house holds seemed to end up in prison while repeated raids were made in the middle of the night on their homes. The reason I am giving a history lesson here is because we have to go back and think like we thought immediately after 9-11. If you ask a New Yorker if life is better for them today than it was on that shameless day in September, most would say they had and are still suffering a loss but getting on with their life. If you ask an Iraqi the same question...Are you better off with out Saddam? I am curious to see what their answer would be. First and foremost they wouldn't have the cities being bombed everyday, they would at least have a functioning government. Places other than just the U.S. Embassy would have electricity and water. And truck loads of strangers armed with rifles wouldn't be circling your home as you sit down to eat dinner. I believed the President when he said that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, I believed Collin Powell when he said they knew where they are. But as each day passes more and more, I see a nation that we invaded, that did not, had not and was not posing a threat to the Freedoms of the United States. The idea that there was due cause to lead this nation to war is without merit. As American's we are being told if you don't support what Bush is doing you you're going to hell and burn and besides that... you aren’t supporting troops! Over 2015 American soldiers are dead ! A entire country is in ruins after being totally bombarded from both factions. I keep asking myself "did we find what we went looking for? The implications are so complicated on the home front. Some of these soldiers will come home to divorces, bankruptcy, unemployment, some may be homeless when they get back, if they don't get dropped off by Arlington first. I was so frustrated with Clinton and Gore because all they had to do to win my loyalty, was tell the truth. That's the same here! If Bush knowingly mislead us in to this war it's time he really roll up his sleeves and gather around the table and begin a plan of withdrawal, afterwards he should excuse his staff members (and for once sit at the Oval Office) and return dignity to the office of President of the United States by resigning! Our fighting forces are the best in the World! They will go to any extreme to meet their goal! I commend them on remaining loyal to the Commander-N-Chief and faithful to the United States Of America. The President likes to comment that he'd rather fight them over there than over here...You know and I know it is just a matter of time before another terrorist cell ravages another American City. When they strike we'll know it because they have nothing but time to perfect which ever method of attack they are planning. We won't have a clue until it hits us! This perspective comes from the political standpoint I hear on the streets. I receive emails (some from friends who actually want this war to happen, and they are not concerned with the deaths or casualty lists, because they say it is fulfilling the Bible's scripture. Many Christian movements believe that George W Bush has the ability to speak directly to the Holy Ghost. I tried my hardest to get my friends on some type of medication but so far have been unable to. Their are young children in these homes being taught this hopeless way of life.
My brother-in-law is a doctor working out of a Emergency Room in the Oklahoma and Texas, surrounded by strong Christian values, churches, holy, holy, holy! I visited him on vacation last year and he told me that he didn’t understand what was going on, that he was working out of fairly small hospital and getting two to three suicide attempts a week, mostly from main stream church members, who could not face the community over the humility.
Imagine having something about you that you could not change and the only way to get rid of it to please the church was to kill yourself. Just like Jamestown, people are being conditioned to take their own life if it will free them of sin. Now how does that go along with abortion? I know teenagers who have committed suicide after becoming confused with their relationship with God. The sad thing is if you ever read the Koran and the Holy Bible, you can very easily get the two mixed up, so it's no wonder people are willing to kill themselves and others to get out of this world. That's my take on Iraq. You families out there with members over there, call your congressman or woman, or senator, please know how they voted on Iraq and get them out of office, and jerk their butt out of office if they insist on staying, adding more troops or won't return you're calls. You can be assured that I will be out there voting for and campaigning not for political office but for the lives of our men and women in the military. Thanks

hey i totally agree with wh... (Below threshold)

hey i totally agree with what you are saying, however one only has to see what the pan islamic agenda is by looking across the atlantic. a new extreme party called the Arab European League is starting the islamic attempt at taking over europe. read this article on the link below







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