Friday, January 16, 2004

Signs of winning or losing

In Winds of Change Katzman asks for possible indicators that the WOT is going well, or going badly.

To clarify: When I refer to the War On Terror I mean the war against the AlQaida and allied groups with Salafi/Wahhabi goals. There are other terrorist groups and ideologies; and there are groups which could join forces with the Salafis against us, notably the Shiites. Recall that the current suicide bomber cult had its origins in Khomeini's Shiite theology. While it is true that the Wahhabis hate the Shiites, they both agree that we're infidels.

So, indicators that things are going well could include:

  • Somebody comes up with an elegant reply to Qutb. (This is a big deal. Qutb is the theorist for the jihad-ites, and his influence seems to be substantial. Somebody is going to have to put together and publicise, under Muslim auspices {they'll not listen to infidels} a thorough rebuttal and alternative view of Islam in the world. Since Qutb seems to have been a good writer this may be hard. But it is critical.)
  • More or less stable government in Kabul continuing to suppress Taleban forces. (I expect the occasional threat to secede, but so long as it doesn't last above a week or two it'll just be bluster for effect and not genuine revolt.)
  • Unarmed Iraqi citizens voting in town meetings.
  • A second set of national Iraqi elections without US oversight. (The first will be OK. After people have gotten together and done some serious arguing for a few years, we'll find out if they can actually get along.)
  • Change in mullah's role in Iran: from oversight to advisory only. (I have no idea how likely this is. I suspect media reports have systematic bias.)
  • Serious cooperation from the Saudis in tracing money flows. (Fat chance.)
  • A systematic change in the theology of the people the Saudis finance and hire to spread Islam: away from Wahhabi and towards a "moderate" Islam; preferably firing the existing imams. (Snowball's chance in hell.)
  • The Saudis disband and prosecute the muttawaa. (Back off from using religious police--a tangible moderation. If the royal family can agree that the clerics are too dangerous to support any longer, we might be able to make some long term peace with them.)
  • The Saudis make royal money matters public.
  • The Saudis official theological position asserts the nobility/sanctity of ordinary work. (If they can get ordinary Saudis to take entry level jobs, they can cut unemployment, and get rid of a lot of the foreign workers. This gives Saudi men something to look forward to besides 72 virgins, or perhaps a more peaceful way of arriving at those 72.)
  • Syria implementing a phased withdrawal from Lebanon.
  • A bloody civil war among Palestinian groups after Arafat's death. (Exhaust the proponents of the death cults and leave the average Palestinian tired of hateful and eager for some real builders.)
  • Successful civil war in Saudi Arabia prosecuted by Shiites supported by Iraq (and the US) against the Wahhabis. (Preferred outcome is a quick war depriving the Wahhabis of the oil revenue they use to spread jihadism. Stripping the Wahhabis of control of the holy cities also strips them of clout around the world. Better if the Hashemites get control back...?)
  • Local Muslim governments take up the slack for the madrassas which now lack funding from the Saudis; taking up oversight of the curiculum as well. (One hopes they'd add some non-religious courses, and cut out the jihadist elements.)
  • Democrat party adapts a non-appeasement plank. (From the looks of things for this election, they will field a non-WOT candidate. If so, and if they lose big in November, they may decide that patriotism is a better plank, and we could have some continuity over the next 20 years.)

On the other hand, we'll know things are going badly if
  • We continue to have no consistent philosophical opposition to Qutb. (Implicit materialism doesn't count--Qutb already addressed that.)
  • Afganistan partitions, and the Pashtun section of PackAfgan has the Taleban running things again.
  • The Iraqi Shiites want a mullah-ocracy like the Iranians.
  • The triple "I divorce you" is legal in Iraq.
  • The Saudis don't change anything substantial in their support for the ultra-hardline clerics.
  • The Jordanian government is overthrown by Palestianian groups.
  • Multiple coups in Egypt. (Chance of Muslim Brotherhood gaining power--very bad news.)
  • A bloody civil war among Palestinian groups after Arafat's death. (Each group tries to prove its legitimacy by being more anti-Jew and anti-American than the rest. Factions supported by different countries mean proxy wars.) Yes, I know this indicator appears in both lists!
  • Canada allows parallel sharia family courts for Muslims.
  • The US continues to allow Muslim recruiting in prisons.
  • The US allows Saudi money to fund Muslim enterprises of any kind in our borders.
  • The Democrat party maintains an anti-war stance. (If we lose continuity in fighting the war, we can lose big. And I don't trust a single party to stay honest without a little competition.)
  • American people start to lose focus on the war and its goals, and look only at casualties and costs. (We lose.)
  • Pakistan has a civil war. (They lose absolute control of their nukes that way. Some of their factions are very bad news.)
  • Nuclear war between India and Pakistan. (Chaos, precedent for using nukes on infidels, loss of allies in Pakistan.)
  • Russian mafia successfully market leftover nukes.
  • Non-Arab Muslim states start to supply more of the jihadis. (If we have the whole Muslim world against us, we have a very big problem.)
  • Home-grown jihadis kill more than a hundred people one year. (Raises deep questions about the limits of freedom of religion. There is precedent for banning certain religions.)
  • We lose a city to a nuke or bioweapon or shipload of ammonium nitrate (that's happened before). (In once sense that would be an obvious setback. But I worry that we'd go postal, and lose our souls the same way the Palestinians have.)

I could go on, but life is short.

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