Monday, July 11, 2005

War as Rorschach

Once again, I take the excellent work of The Belmont Club as my starting point. Wretchard contrasts several post-hoc analyses of the 7-7 bombings, each trying to understand how the attacks reflected the enemy's tactics, strategy, and (ultimately) worldview.

I will not reiterate the details of Wretchard's analysis here; read the whole thing, as they say. Instead, I want to take a step back and notice that the debate is much like a Rorschach, as each viewer struggles to make sense of the limited and conflicting data available to tell a coherent story. In this case, our own styles of manifesting anxiety might tend to lead us to give greater weight to the evidence suggesting a cunning enemy, or a blood-thirsty and unstoppable enemy, or an enemy with much reserve strength.

I do not write this to denigrate any of the views noted above; in fact, I find much of value in each of the three analyses. A commenter on The Belmont Club also noted that the enemy may be multifaceted, which makes a lot of sense to me. There may be key differences between an educated Jihadist from Hamburg and a 16-year Islamist fighter brought into Iraq from the West Bank by way of Syria. Most importantly, I am not taking such a "nuanced" view that there is no enemy, or that we merely misunderstand him and need to accomodate his grievances. I feel perfectly comfortable judging both types of terrorist to be equally evil, even if we understand them differently. By contrast, I think the explanatory mode of denial and self-blame manifest by the some on the Left misses the mark altogether, as I have written about previously.

I hope to have more to say about this tomorrow, for I feel that I am falling short of what I am trying to say. While I think these efforts to understand the enemy are important and necessary to decide on our next tactical move, I think the larger battle is still within our own society, as I discussed yesterday. Strategically, we are in the position of the poker player holding 4 aces, who can only lose if he convinces himself that his opponent has a straight flush. We will only lose this war if we fold, and I analyze the Battle of London as a tactical defeat for the enemy, as it (fortunately) has not led to a weakening of our resolve.

I might add that, even if we understand the vast difference in backgrounds of the educated Hamburg Jihadist from the 16-year old Palestinian, the same strategies might apply to fighting both: We must be both the physical (military) and ideological (memetic) "strong horse." A blood feud can only be maintained if both sides share the same horizon of imagination. What George Bush seeks is to open a new horizon of imagination to the Muslim mind, one that is more compatible with our continued existence.

3 Comments:

Blogger Goesh said...

From a monotheistic perspetive, the will of God trumps personal and financial equality and participatory governance. They see a dyad in manifestation, the believers and the infidels, from which an operational triad manifests: the imam, the believers(ummah) whose job (jihad) becomes sugjugation of the unbelievers(infidel/haraam). We don't as of yet have God on our side, and I maintain the above precedes and even precludes the idea of blood feud. From this framework, one's extended family, tribe, geopraphic location with its particular autocratic rule are nothing but logisitcal and tactical nuances, not fundamental ideologies that must be altered.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

- sorry for the bad spelling - other tasks bear upon me

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think one of our major problems is a problem that unfortunately the majority of liberal-agnostics cannot see, and in fact will not see.

Western civilisation is dying. I know you've heard it all before, but the rationalistic enlightenment that underpinned its metoric rise to the top is dead. It's been dead ever since Neitzche and been eaten up by postmodernity and deconstructionism.

Of course, good liberals can't see that when a civilisation stops asserting itself and believing in truth it starts to die because that kind of relativism is both a) inherently unappealing to human beings and b) only possible to sustain if people are rich enough to divert themeselves from nihilistic despair

So those that can't and/or don't want to divert themselves have to look elsewhere for Truth. Now, not only are muslims worse off, but they also have a rich cultural and religous heritage to draw off of. How are they going to react? Lyotard says that white Europe has lost faith, but the Muslims both in Europe and in their own lands have not. Modernity just cannot compete with it as a claim to Truth because it doesn't even try.

So the west keeps itself inflated with bombs and money and successfully diverts itself while Muslims look for Truth.

I'm not a muslim, I'm a seeking Christian FYI.

4:27 AM  

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