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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

11.14.2005

Zarqawi's Folly

The attacks in Jordan mark the beginning of the end of Al Qaeda:

You know that a terrorist attack has backfired when the bad guys start blaming it on us. Rumors are spreading on the insurgent websites and chatrooms that last week's hotel bombings in Amman, Jordan, were part of a CIA plot, a Mossad intrigue, or a take-your-pick conspiracy. Since al Qaeda has already admitted the attack was theirs, this line will have a hard time playing, but it shows that at some level the terrorist sympathizers know that this was a bad move.

As angry Jordanians poured into the streets to denounce hometown zero Zarqawi, he rushed out a second statement seeking to justify the attacks. He explained that these hotels had been under observation for some time, and that they "had become favorite spots for intelligence activities, especially for the Americans, the Israelis, and some West European countries, where the hidden battle is fought in the so-called war against terrorism." In other words, they were not seeking to kill civilians, but aiming at a legitimate military target. I doubt this argument will sway the masses, since many of the victims were attending a wedding at the time. In p.r. terms it is probably the worst event a terrorist can bomb. Only the hard-core psychopaths will get a warm feeling from blowing up someone's nuptials.

Attacks like this are not only criminal, they are foolhardy. They rarely benefit the terrorists, and often harm their cause. Recent history makes the case. The 9/11 attacks unified and motivated our country to unleash incalculable harm on al Qaeda. The 2002 Bali bombing had the principle strategic effect of making the Australians their implacable foes. The 2005 London bombings rallied British public opinion against the continuing threat. The 3/11 bombings in Madrid may have helped influence the Spanish elections to bring in a government with a less cooperative Iraq policy, but in other areas of the War on Terrorism Spanish policies have if anything gotten tougher. In Jordan, a researcher found that since the bombing, nine of ten people he surveyed who had previously held a favorable view of al Qaeda had changed their minds. This is no way to run a revolution.


One book I failed to include in my list of military history and strategy works was Mao's book on guerilla warfare. Mao described revolutionary warfare as having three stages:

1. Build the revolutionary cadres---develop as many true believers as possible.
2. Undermine the status quo---attack the current regime using unconventional means while carefully building up your forces
3. Overturn the status quo---when you are strong enough, use conventional warfare to destroy your opponent.

Zarqawi doesn't get # 2. Mao took great pains to emphasize that the entire time he was on The Long March he ordered his men to never mistreat or otherwise harm the peasants. These he viewed as his natural allies, and once they compared their treatment under the Communists to their treatment by the Nationalist, Chiang Kai Shek had lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the bulk of the Chinese people.

The attacks on Jordan will prove to be a monumental blunder and the death knell of the Iraqi "insurgency".

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