Yeah. I'm on a really different page too.
I’m not really sure I embrace this whole concept of an “enemy.” There are a diverse bunch of folks out there who embrace concepts that appall me, and some of them would like see me and you and everyone else we care about dead, and some of them have legitimate gripes against my government and some of them really have very little concept of the world outside of their immediate realities, and they are just angry.
Yeah. I don’t think that I agree that there is AN ENEMY. There are lots of people who I don’t like, and lots of people who present a danger. Like the guy driving a black sedan in my neighborhood, who, in the past few weeks, has been trying to pull pre-teen girls into his car at 7:00 AM while they are on their way to school. Is there AN ENEMY in my neighborhood? No. There is a criminal. A nasty, horrible criminal. If he comes near my daughter, I’ll castrate him myself. But I don’t think that my neighborhood should plot to blow up all the black sedans in the neighborhood.
There were a group of angry, insane criminals who flew planes into buildings in my city. Bin Laden was a brilliant, charismatic, crazy cult leader, managed to get gobs of people to buy into his private anger and insanity. He had much more in common with Jim Jones than with the Taliban. Yeah. Al Qaeda works with the Taliban. Hides in Taliban territory. And enjoys the fundamentalist indignation. But privileged, educated al Qaeda does not share anything more than fundamentalism and anger with the Taliban.
The Taliban are a reactionary subset of a specific ethnic group (the Pashtuns) who reside in a region which has been screwed over by foreigners for as long as anyone can remember. Many of the Taliban leaders, like the people who they attempt to rule and coerce, are illiterate. They can’t read a map. They don’t even understand that they live on a globe. Many of them collaborated with Bin Laden. But they are a very different breed. They are no threat to us. They are not going to fly planes into buildings. But I do consider them a threat to the Afghan people. And as a humanist, I support the human rights of those Afghanis whose lives have been limited by the Taliban. The solution is education. And the Taliban will become irrelevant.
Somalia? Poor Somalia is the canary in the goal mine in terms of global warming. And of course they’ve been using their love of god as an excuse to alter their borders with their neighbors for a very long time. And then there is the issue of mining rights inside of other countries borders. Mix in a little xenophobia, a little Islam, some ethnic disputes, and a lot of pain and hunger, and you’ve got all kinds of folks ripe to die and kill in the name of some cause. The solution? Ummm… end global warming, find beneficial economic enterprises for the Somalis to pursue within their own national borders, find a way to feed starving people. Education again. Heal ethnic tensions.
Or maybe just send in drones.
Al Qaeda is tougher still. Decentralized cells of angry individuals. The vast majority are not skilled enough, and don’t have access to the resources necessary to pull off attacks like that of the Cole or 9/11. But some are skilled at spreading their anger and creed. Dropping drones and killing lots of folks helps their cause by justifying their anger. Let’s not help their cause and justify their anger. I don’t know all that much about the institution itself, but I’m pretty sure that in the absence of Bin Laden, there is no single individual who is crucial to the survival of the infrastructure. Their strength is their decentralization. So I would hope that the intelligence community is gathering information on cells and what they are doing, and which ones have the potential for danger beyond recruitment. And then our government should work with the government in which those cells operate to help cut off their access to resources and influence, and if possible, bring criminal charges against them on a local level. Obviously, not all countries are going to be as accommodating as we might like.
And there might be more attacks. Just like there might be more guys trying to abduct pre-teen girls after they catch the guy in the black sedan. And there might be more traffic deaths. Let’s work together to try and prevent any danger to human life that is preventable.
But let’s not pretend that when our drones or airstrikes kill innocent people, that our actions are justified.
Oh. And let's do all the stuff on Screwtape's list.