Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Shower thoughts

I was in the shower, thinking about what an innovation it is for a group of nations and cultures to support non-state actors to carry out attacks on hated societies and dominant empires. For one thing it frustrates retaliation attempts based on notions of state-to-state warfare.

But you knew that.

So how does one turn the sword? How does one combat these opponents (other than lashing out at other states that had no involvement)?

My opinion...

People who give funds and support to these shadow consortiums do so because they feel righteous and powerful about giving. In the form of support for Wahabbiist causes and Al Qaeda, it's mostly religious piety and community pride.

I am told that Islam contains a duty to give, what we in the west might call tithing, or alms. I am not sure what section of the Koran specifies this, so in what will probably be an demonstration of my comically inept research ability, I found an English translation on the web. (Note that translations are not valid. The only valid text is the one in Arabic, as originally written.)

The one section I nosed into seems to say that the man who "treats the orphan with harshness," and does not advocate the feeding of the poor, is unworthy. That's my five-minute conclusion.

If anyone can point me to specific sections of the Koran which encourage almsgiving, or other subsequent authorities which flesh out the requirement, I'd appreciate it.

This duty to give met up with the modern concept of violent, extra-national jihad that the United States fielded against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The jihadist network later turned back and stung us.

Given that the impulse is to do good, even if that means killing people, it seems to me that counter-strategies include:

  1. Diversion of alms into false fronts set up or taken over by the target nations. This identifies donors and networks, for one thing. To the extent that false fronts are suspected, this enhances calls for accountability.

  2. Foster demand for accountability, through false and true stories of diversion, waste, and ineffectuality, as well as tales of self-enrichment based on historical precedent. Greater accountability leads to more transparent networks.

  3. Foster a competition in benevolent works. This would be based on the sentiment that it is all very well and good to destroy the infidel, but our own needy ones right here at home require assistance, as the holy book commands. The infidel has been inflicting suffering on us for centuries, and currently as a result of your recent provocations, and in return, what have you done for us? While 'good works' programs are often simply about recruiting and training fanatics, actual desires for bettering oneself may take root. Greater comfort and safety for the afflicted reduces the propaganda value of the suffering that is used to recruit the educated, middle-class killers who carry out terror attacks in Western countries.

  4. A genuine campaign on the part of the target society to reduce poverty in the aggrieved communities, and improve their health care, education, and self-determination.

  5. Foster strategy disputes within the communities supporting the extra-national terror groups. The preceding points may be seed issues to foster divisions.

This is what I thought about in the shower. I don't expect any of this to be tried while ignorant Bible-thumpers run our country.
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