August 19, 2004

Of Terrorism, Targets and Elections

While doing my daily catch-up with fellow bloggers last night, I saw that Bravo Romeo Delta’s blog – Anticipatory Retaliation – had an incredible post sparked by Alexander Tytler’s essay entitled “Terrorism and Elections”.

This is the same portion of Tytler's essay that _Jon of We Swear wrote his post on Tytler's pronouncement of "The Death of Democracy." Inspired by both _Jon and Tytler I wrote "The Great Democratic Experiment" in which I pronounce Democracy alive and well, thank you very much. Until yesterday when I went to lunch and was caught in the middle of protestors struggling with Police, who had managed to bring them down off the side of a sky scraper after they defaced private property. Thus, I wondered as I stood there watching their struggle, could this scene be a metaphor for democracy in the event of a terrorist attack?

This was a question Bravo Delta Romeo felt up to the task in answering through his post. There he examines the very life blood of Democracy -Elections- in the event of a terrorist attack, and elaborates as to “Al Qaeda’s objectives and ... what might be affecting their current operational mindset”. However, before reading this insightful essay, you must sit down with a nice beverage, as his post is chock full of intriguing and thought provoking assumptions that will get your spinning wheels turning at greater velocities.

I agree with some of his points, and disagree with others. A point of agreement between us is Al Qaeda’s selection of “counter force” and “counter value” targets and their merits. However, I would add one additional motivation for Al Qaeda to his list, their belief of superior moral and religious ideology. This fact is discussed by Lawrence Aster at (via Barcepundit).

The first point of disagreement comes in with Bravo’s assessment, that Al Qaeda’s “focus on financial institutions really isn't well suited to have great symbolic impact when things like the Sears Tower, Statue of Liberty, or the White House beckon.”

My understanding is there are some key important reasons why Al Qaeda has chosen financial targets versus symbolic ones. The combined target list announced recently has the same high value as the WTC with one notable exception, simultaneous attacks on Citibank, Prudential, NY Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and Chicago Mercantile Exchange, along with the IMF and World Bank, would result not only in temporarily paralyzing the US economy, but would also stop us from economically sustaining foreign governments friendly to our political policies (especially the members of the Coalition of the Willing). What would be the end result of these simultaneous attacks?

I believe Al Qaeda’s primary goal, is to induce a global economic depression greater than has been previously experienced, which would bring about secondary and terciary goals which have been brought to light in some of their taped messages, websites and manifesto. Some of these objectives include:
- creating economic instability for our “Willing” allies, thus preventing them from further involvement in any response we may take (due to economic & political constraints in their countries).
- destabilizing fledgling political democracies around the world, allowing for Muslim Fundamentalists and extremists to easily take control of various countries in Asia and Eastern Europe.
- adversely affecting our relationships with impartial countries, such as Libya, who will perhaps help Al Qaeda’s efforts against the US as they did before. Only this time their alliance will go unchecked by a weakened UN due to the dire financial situation of it’s members. [BTW, like Iran, Libya too has modest nuclear capabilities.]
- collapsing an economic system (capitalism) that is against the socialist principles Al Qaeda embraces and which many muslims belive the Koran condems.
- combining their "counter value" attacks with "counter force" measures where our forces are deployed, in order to drain our government and military resources.
- engaging in terrorist activity and urban guerilla warfare throughout the middle east (not just Iraq) eventually eroding the political stability of friendly arab nations, such as Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey, where Israel will be the first casualty.
- recruit an inexhaustible supply of politically and economically disenfranchised martyrs from around the world (not just Syrians and Saudis) who will continue to terrorize and select ad-hoc targets so as to render us defenseless and permanently alter our quality of life and our freedoms.

_Jon of We Swear recently wrote an impassioned post addressing the social repercussions and our response if such objectives were to actualize. However, my concern is that as incredible and powerful as our military is, it would not be able to effectively eradicate and systematically deal with the kinds of attacks Israel has been enduring these last 10 years.

Al Qaeda was temporarily successful in destabilizing the futures and stock markets on 9/11, when they dumped/sold millions of dollars worth of stocks they had purchased in the airlines, investment banks and other companies that were directly affected by the attacks on the WTC. Talk about hedging a stock; their attacks netted Bin Laden personally over a million dollars in profit. In essence, his profits helped him recoup his initial investment and helped fund future terrorist activities. So 9/11 for them, was an economic experiment with far reaching political implications.

We have already seen the political implications, or after effects if you will, played out on the campaign trail. There are voters out there who are terribly concerned about the political choices being offered to them. The Nader/Camejo ticket has been banished to oblivion, while "undecided" Americas anxiously consider who is the strongest candidate that will protect us in all aspects, in the years ahead.

As I indicated before in a comment on Bravo’s site: “The recent Spanish elections demonstrated what one simple act of terror can do to a population, who -remembering the deadly grip of fascism under Franco- willingly supported the US in Iraq,” only to be “terrified” into turning it’s back on the lessons of it’s own history.

If an attack were to occur on US soil (or against our soldiers in Iraq) prior to the election, I believe it will be those who are yet undecided that will vote based on their fears, thereby tilting the direction to the left, where the largest numbers of “infrequent” voters” reside. What I am even more concerned about, is that our beloved country’s political fragmentation will deepen, creating a polarization, such as the kind New Yorkers have found themselves in since 9/11. New Yorkers are bracing themselves for the Republic National Convention, with some concern over their safety and the future of this state.

If another attack should occur in NY, the ensuing chaos that will be experienced in our society, but especially within the political and economic spheres, will be one where our national freedoms will be so altered as to move us back towards a “Jacksonian” isolationism, that will also fragment further the world's social divides.

In the end, my hope is that Al Qaeda’s goal of economic and political chaos and our ultimate destruction, in order to stop the spread of globalization, will not succeed. Ultimately, it will be the cohesiveness of our social fabric and our moral conviction as a nation, that will determine the depth and duration of that chaos. I pray that if anything does happen, we as a nation will have the spiritual fortitude to become tireless defenders of our country, both on our shores and on foreign battlefields. Without those strengths, our existence will be one of a daily survival in an ideological russian roullette that no one is destined to win.

UPDATE: For those of you who wrote me emails at my old site (before it was hijacked and my pc infected) as to why I thought Al Queda targetted the US in general and NY in particular, the subsequent links will answer your questions. Thank to Melissa for the reminder.

I was recently referred by BarcePundit to two important posts at NetWar. The first is an essay by Waller R. Newell on Postmodern Jihad. There you will find information as to how Al Queda's ideological philosophy, vis a vis Bin Laden, was formed. A subsequent post gives us portions of Al Qaeda's Manifest. It is there that NetWar's author, Juan A. Hervada, says we can see how "The manual goes well beyond the mere terrorist how-to, to give ethical guidance (with the support of fatwas when needed) and …for purposefully killing civilians".

These essays/posts should give you an ideological and philosophical understanding of how they view us and why we will forever be their enemy, tacitly or not.

Posted by Michele at August 19, 2004 11:59 PM

Interesting point that Al Qaeda would be willing to impoverish the entire world if it would give them the chance to rule the crumbling, starving remnants.

"It's better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven"

Who's the Great Satan now?

Posted by: Harvey at August 20, 2004 10:18 AM

If we continue to play by our rules your concerns might have validity. But the more the terrorists are successful the less we will adhere to our civil mandates. Eventually those pleading civilized restraint will be silenced(ignored) and the war will be fought as a war. This would include special ops. In about 50 years we might decry our conduct, but we will do so from a point of stablity and freedom.

Posted by: Mike H. at August 20, 2004 11:08 PM

YOu know, Michele, I do all my weekly visits on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. I realized I hadn't changed your address :)

Done-neighbor :)

P.S. Thanks for the prayers for my dad.

Posted by: Rae at August 21, 2004 05:16 PM

boy are you guys deep! you all write mad long essays, in a way they paint a scary picture. I hope Mike is wrong and it doesn't come to that. my hope is for no acts of terror.

Posted by: melissa at August 21, 2004 06:19 PM