Wednesday, May 04, 2005


By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 32 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The arrest of an al-Qaida operational chief in Pakistan "represents a critical victory in the war on terror,"
President Bush said Wednesday. U.S. counterterrorism officials said the captive almost certainly knows crucial planning details for the terror network.
My response? YEAH RIGHT! It seems like a day doesn't go by that there isn't some major feat by the Bushies in defeating international terror. I wonder if there even IS such a thing as Al Qaeda or if it really matters whether Bin Laden lives or not. The fact remains that disparate individuals operating in closed cells across the world have the same ideology: their version of militant islam demands their suicide and the deaths of all who oppose them until the great Caliphate comes again. Why do they need any leadership at all, when they need only read the writings of Sayyid Al Qutb and become galvanized? Americans, both conservative and liberal, are in denial about the nature of this enemy.
Conservatives are incapable of meeting this enemy in any place other than the battlefield because their ideas are so similiar to the Islamists: the fundamentalists bemoan the secular nature of American and the division of church and state. The Islamists see no greater threat to humanity. Both work toward the elimination of this wall. In their extreme form, fundamentalists in the US shoot and bomb abortion clinics in their battle for the soul of man: fundamentalists from the mideast blow up train stations. Of course the fundamentalists in the US have long ago been emasculated by the constitution and America's acceptance of the wall between church and state. Fundamentalists in the mideast have no such tradition. Thus conservatives can only argue against the ideology of Al Qaeda by speaking about economic freedom, capitalism, and suppression of political freedom. But they have no credibility when it comes to Al Qaeda's greatest appeal to the hundreds of millions of muslims who have accepted versions of their views. It is there that we can see the ancient struggle between Christianity and Islam playing itself out.

Liberals in large part reduce the belief system of Al Qaeda to one that they can rationally analyze. They cannot imagine that terrorism is in large part driven by irrational beliefs in which the US is a prop in a great delusional fantasy, so we are usally left with a garden-variety analysis of "imperialism". (Never mind that it isn't empire itself that bothers the Islamists, as Hitchens has pointed out, it's the fact that it isn't a muslim empire that bothers them.) Thus all actions and reactions can be reduced to imperialism and the understandable response to it. Thus the morally bankrupt act killing people in coffee shops can be explained away as a rational act. "Wouldn't you do that, too?" is the rejoinder. The answer is simple: "No I wouldn't."

Qutb, dubbed "the philosopher of terror" by Paul Berman, is the ideological grandaddy of Al Qaeda. You can read about him here
" Qutb wrote that, all over the world, humans had reached a moment of unbearable crisis. The human race had lost touch with human nature. Man's inspiration, intelligence and morality were degenerating. Sexual relations were deteriorating ''to a level lower than the beasts.'' Man was miserable, anxious and skeptical, sinking into idiocy, insanity and crime. People were turning, in their unhappiness, to drugs, alcohol and existentialism. Qutb admired economic productivity and scientific knowledge. But he did not think that wealth and science were rescuing the human race. He figured that, on the contrary, the richest countries were the unhappiest of all. And what was the cause of this unhappiness -- this wretched split between man's truest nature and modern life? "
"He insisted that shariah meant freedom of conscience -- though freedom of conscience, in his interpretation, meant freedom from false doctrines that failed to recognize God, freedom from the modern schizophrenia. Shariah, in a word, was utopia for Sayyid Qutb. It was perfection. It was the natural order in the universal. It was freedom, justice, humanity and divinity in a single system. It was a vision as grand or grander than Communism or any of the other totalitarian doctrines of the 20th century. It was, in his words, ''the total liberation of man from enslavement by others.'' It was an impossible vision -- a vision that was plainly going to require a total dictatorship in order to enforce: a vision that, by claiming not to rely on man-made laws, was going to have to rely, instead, on theocrats, who would interpret God's laws to the masses. The most extreme despotism was all too visible in Qutb's revolutionary program. That much should have been obvious to anyone who knew the history of the other grand totalitarian revolutionary projects of the 20th century, the projects of the Nazis, the Fascists and the Communists. "


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