The Defeat of the United States by Al Qaeda

by Kevin Carson

Since the announced killing of Emanuel Goldstein — er, Osama Bin Laden — I’ve seen a lot of speculation on what kind of big terror attack we can expect in retaliation. But if Al Qaeda was capable of a large-scale, spectacular reprisal attack, I think they’d already have done it between 9-11 and now.

Their actual pattern since then has been poorly organized, penny ante attacks, carried out by poorly trained people — suggesting that Al Qaeda picked the low-hanging fruit on 9-11. It’s quite plausible that, given enough incompetent attempts, somebody will eventually succeed in detonating a bomb and blowing up a plane in the air. Enough monkeys with enough typewriters and enough time, and all that. But even if it happens, the damage will be limited to the passengers on one plane out of millions of flights in any one year. With hardened cockpits and passengers who understand that the goal of hijacking has changed, it will never be possible to fly a plane into a high-value target again. And it’s unlikely all the TSA security theater in the airports, aimed at preventing the previous attack, is good for anything except satisfying the “Well, we have to do SOMETHING!” idjuts.

The interesting thing, though, is that however poorly planned and executed the attacks have been, they were conducted in accordance with a brilliant strategic vision of maximizing bang for the buck in terms of the U.S. government stupidity they provoke. An attempt to smuggle explosives on a plane doesn’t have to be anything more than crude and ineffectual, because TSA’s knee-jerk overreaction — not blowing up the plane — is the real goal. The goal is to make the passenger screening process, the x-raying of all cargo, etc., so onerous, humiliating, expensive and time-consuming that air traffic shrinks radically and the U.S. economy takes a hit. The goal is for the American people to see their government as intrusive, arbitrary, and callous.

The goal is also for the U.S. government, in response, to stay bogged down in endless wars in the Islamic world, radicalizing the people there and causing them to see the U.S. as a crusader army — in the meantime wearying and demoralizing the U.S. population and bankrupting the government. To paraphrase the late Mr. Bin Laden, it’s only necessary for a couple of brothers with “Al Qaeda” written on a piece of cloth to show themselves in Antarctica, and the President will send Marines to fight the penguins there “so we won’t have to fight them here.”

In that vein, prominent libertarian commentator Radley Balko writes at Reason, “Osama Won” (May 2, 2011).

Wow — deja vu, all over again! William Graham Sumner, at the time of the Spanish-American War, gave a speech on “The Conquest of the United States by Spain.” His argument was that the United States, a nation formed in reaction against European global empires like Spain’s, had — by adopting the expansionism and imperialism — been conquered by Spain in the field of ideas and policies despite defeating her on the battlefield. Despite its ostensible “victory,” the United States experienced a moral defeat by abandoning everything it stood for and becoming what it hated.

Balko, likewise, lists all the changes undergone by America in the past decade. The U.S. has detained people without trial and tortured them at “black sites” overseas, rendered them to other countries to be tortured, claimed a right to detain American citizens without trial, barred those who turned out to be innocent from legal redress in the American courts for their detention and torture, refused compensation to hundreds of innocent people detained at Gitmo, prohibited detainees from talking about their detention and torture, turned the Fourth Amendment’s “search and seizure” provisions into toilet paper with USA PATRIOT and illegal wiretaps, further militarized local police forces, and set up what amounts to a system of internal passport checkpoints in the airports…


If, as American presidents have never tired of claiming, Al Qaeda attacked us because “they hate us for our freedoms,” they must like us a whole lot more now. If Al Qaeda is really fighting us because they hate our freedoms, the war is already over.

18 responses to “The Defeat of the United States by Al Qaeda

  1. C H Ingoldby

    Al Qaeda is attacking us because they want to impose Islamic rule upon us.

    Talk about how Al Qaeda has ‘won’ any sort of victory because the USA has introduced the Patriot Act and has stupid TSA officers is completely beside the point. Just like the idea that Spain won the Spanish-American war because of some sort of moral victory is completely ridiculous.

    A lot of the Wests response to the Al Qaeda threat is pretty stupid and self damaging but that doesn’t alter the fact that there is a real and serious threat from Islamic fundamentalism.

  2. “Al Qaeda is attacking us because they want to impose Islamic rule upon us”

    Do you have any proof for this statement? I mean can you show any statement by Al Qaeda pointing in this direction or where do you get this idea from? I am asking because all statements from Al Qaeda that I heart say something very different. Especially the statemenst from the 9/11 bombers made very clear that their motivation was, the western support for Israel and arabic regimes. Al Qaeda are first and formost arabic nationalists. Religion just serves as a unifier.

  3. I think the desire to impose Islamic rule on us is, though significant, secondary. In the same way as I would like to teach the world to sing in perfect libertarian harmony, but I’m most interested in liberty at home first.

    Islamismism appears to have grown out of a reaction against “westernisation” of the Islamic world; it’s in that sense a negative-conservative movement. They see their (largely imaginary) great traditional civilisation giving way to corrupting foreign elements, and want to stop that happening. So, it makes sense to go after the source of the corruption. That’s us, that is.

    IOW IMV the core of the movement is a rearguard action against modernity arriving from outside- from “us”. That’s why we’re such a “threat” to them and, thus, they are such a threat to us. It’s also why it’s such a tragedy that it coincides with a massive resurgence of our own “taliban”- the Puritan-Progressives- complete with their own “sharia” called “political correctness”.

    [Note to self: use “less” quotes in “comments”].

  4. C H Ingoldby

    Nico Metten, you ask what proof I have that Al Qaeda want to establish Islamic rule upon us.

    The proof is what Al Qaeda say and what Al Qaeda do.

    They say that they want to impose Islamic rule and they actively live up to their declarations by trying to kill non Muslims outside Arabia and inside Arabia. Where they have become powerful, they have imposed Islamic rule by force on the local populations.

    The fact that you are seriously questioning Al Qaeda’s motivations, despite their clear declarations and actions indicates that you are seriously deliberately and wilfully blind to reality.

  5. C H Ingoldby

    Ian B, If you have the same experiences working in majority Muslim parts of Britain as I have, you might not be so sanguine about liberty at ‘home’.

    British Muslims are becoming more Islamicised, more self segregated and more hostile to the host nation. Very much so. And yes, I know I am generalising, but I am drawing on very wide and very disturbing experience.

  6. CH, I’m not the least sanguine about liberty at home. I don’t think there is any left. What I meant is that my primary concern is creating liberty here where I am, and then I’ll worry about liberty elsewhere.

  7. “The proof is what Al Qaeda say and what Al Qaeda do”

    So what do they say? They are terrorist, so they have a strong interest in making clear what their motivation is. If it is so clear that Al Qaeda wants to impose islamic law in western states, there should be a lot of statements saying this clearly. Pardon me, but I must have been busy in the last 15 years, cause I haven’t seen any such statement. But if it is so clear to you, than please show me one, so that I can join forces in the fight to save the west.

    I have only heard such statements from some western governments that have a terrible record in ruthlessly lying and that scare me far more than the Bin Ladens of this world.

  8. C H Ingoldby

    Nico Metten, time to pull your head out of the dark place it is in.

    Al Qaeda regularly release public statements in which they openly announce their intentions.

    Stop being deliberately and wilfully ignorant.

  9. Well, why don’t you just help me putting some light in to this dark place. I am just asking for one little example of an Al Qaeda statement saying that their aim is to put western states under islamic rule. Here for example is a summery of all Al Qaeda statements until 2007, summerised for the US Congress. Maybe it is just too dark here for me to read, but I really could not find any statement saying anything about how western countries should be ruled. All they are saying is, western countries should drop their agression against muslim countries. So please put some light in for me.

  10. Nico.
    There is an abundance of evidence that a global caliphate is the goal of Islam and that this goal is spelt out by the founder of Islam.
    However this field is not my primary interest and I do not have the data immediately to hand. If it is of interest I can dig stuff out.
    This one and a half minute trailer is not exactly to the point, but there is a quote by Ahmadinajad which states the above goal.

  11. There is an abundance of evidence that a global church is the goal of Christianity and that goal is spelt out by the founder of Christianity.

    So, not much help there, really.

  12. Actually, Ian, if you refer to the intents of the founder of Christianity, a global church was in no way His goal.
    His goal was and is that individuals should be saved. If they want to be, and indicate a genuine desire.
    Some people have used Christianity for political purposes, an activity that cut clearly across the stated intention of the Founder.

  13. Almost all political and religious ideologies, secretly but very often openly believe that their ideology is the best for everyone. In principal, I don’t have a problem with people believing that their way of living is the best for everyone, as long as they don’t promote violence to spread this believe. I don’t shoot on Jehovah Witnesses when they knock on my door. In other words, the way of dealing with this is, to promote tolerance and freedom. After a long history of fighting the Europeans finally figures out that tolerance and freedom are the best way of living, as there will always be people who have different opinions. That is what made Europe so great in the end and particularly Britain has understood this very well. The Islamic world still has to go through this process and at the moment still has a problem with violent religious extremists. But that is a problem of the Islamic world. The so called west is not really effected by this. The very few terrorist attacks we have seen by Muslims in the west were motivated by our aggressive foreign policy in Muslim countries. I have not seen ANY evidence pointing to another motivation.

    Now, if you have an enemy, the most important thing to win the fight is to understand that enemy. That is why the US are so terrible in fighting wars. Although they never lose a battle they almost always lose the war, because they seem to believe that all it takes is to have the biggest gun. If the real motivation of the terrorists is our stupid foreign policy increasing the fighting in the arab world will be the exact wrong strategy to win. It makes things worse, not just for us, put particularly for the arab world, because these terrorist can portray themselves as freedom fighters and win a lot of supporters. That is why, since we are fighting this war, we have seen a strong increase in terrorism worldwide. If you are fighting something and you ending up having more of it, you are doing it wrong. And changing our foreign policy is something we can easily do, because this foreign policy does only serve the interests of our corrupt ruling class in the first place. Whether we have a terrist problem or not, we shold change these policies anyway, because they are only harming ourselves.

  14. Oh, by far the most dangerous ideology that is trying to rule the world at the moment is demoratic statetist. I don’t think islamic terroist can come up with nearly enough suicide bombers to kill as many innocent people as the ‘making the wolrd save for democracy’ people have done.

  15. “That is why the US are so terrible in fighting wars. Although they never lose a battle they almost always lose the war, because they seem to believe that all it takes is to have the biggest gun.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I can’t help feeling that most Americans still have no idea why they lost the Vietnam war – after all, they made the loudest and biggest bangs! Whether they should have been involved in the first place is another argument.

  16. From Raymond Ibrahim:

    “In our context, did Osama bin Laden “create” the idea of jihad, or did the centuries-old doctrine of jihad — supplemented by Koranic verses to “strike terror into the heart of infidels” (8:12) — create him? . . . . ”

    “Bana, Qutb, Khomeini, and Yassin are a meager sampling of Islamist leaders that have come and gone in this century alone. Were one to go further back in time, the continuum of history would unequivocally prove the existentialist nature of the threat: “Charismatic ideologues” — like Ibn Abdul Wahhab (18th century), Ibn Taymiyya (14th century), and Ibn Hanbal (9th century) — have preached the jihad throughout the centuries; and any of these Muslim leaders would make bin Laden look like a sissy.
    Indeed, if one doesn’t mind being labeled an “Islamophobe,” one could trace jihad back to the origins of Islam in the 7th century, to the prophet Muhammad, who proclaimed: “I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah.” “

  17. FP: How do you respond to the charge that you’re spreading hate?
    Ibrahim: As I told reporters at the event, I’m just the messenger; the hate exists in the texts that I quote—texts, I might add, which form the cornerstone for Islamists such as CAIR. Here’s a verse off the top of my head, always being quoted by Islamists: “We [believers] disown you [non-believers, including family] and what you worship besides Allah. We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us—until you believe in Allah alone” (Koran 60:4). That’s just one of many. Rather than project the hate ingrained in its own worldview onto me and others, if CAIR was sincere, it would admit to and try to “reform” the anti-infidel hate that litters its texts.

  18. Raymond Ibrahim, again:

    “Take Egypt’s Christian Copts, for example. Much of the recent violence inflicted upon them is based on the constant—but baseless—accusation that the Coptic Church is abducting and tormenting Coptic women who convert to Islam. Amazingly, it is precisely the opposite scenario—Muslims kidnapping Christian women and forcing them to convert to Islam—that is a notorious phenomenon in Egypt.
    Indeed, a bipartisan group of eighteen members of the U.S. Congress wrote last year to Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, director of the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Office, documenting how Coptic females are increasingly subject to “fraud, physical and sexual violence, captivity, forced marriage, and exploitation in forced domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation, and financial benefit to the individuals who secure the forced conversion” (see Christian Solidarity International’s full report on the abuse of Christian women in Muslim Egypt for complete details).
    A well-known psychological phenomenon, “projection” is defined as “the attribution of one’s own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people.” An academic article dealing with violence and projection states, “Projection allows the killer to project his (unacceptable) desire to kill (torture, rape, steal, dominate, etc.) onto some target group or person. This demonizes his target, making it even more acceptable to kill.”
    Of course, projection has long been a means to demonize Israel. Islamists accuse Israel and the Jews of living for “perpetual war,” “legitimizing land theft in the name of God,” and “plundering their opponent’s property.”
    In fact, nothing less than Islam’s holy law, Sharia law, mandates perpetual war, land grab, and the plundering of non-believers. Muslim scriptures, history, and current events are rife with examples; the overwhelming majority of what constitutes the Muslim world was taken by force. Only recently, popular Muslim preacher Abu Ishaq al-Huweini boasted about how jihad is one of the highlights of Islam, specifically because it allows the plundering of infidels and enslavement of their women and children.”