Normally, I don’t like cliche’s. They’re usually signs of lazy thinking. But there is a reason that they become so popular; it’s because they usually have a grain of truth at their core.
With the bombings last week in Jordan, I’m becoming more and more convinced that Al Qaeda is, indeed, doomed to lose — and that they are quite possibly on the ropes.
One of the distinctions between Al Qaeda and several other terrorist organizations is that they really don’t have a good sense of Western PR. Other terrorist groups have, and have parlayed that into acceptance among the more soft-minded of the West. Hamas, for example, covers up its butcherous past (including the slaughter of over 200 US Marines) by establishing separate “wings” of their organization. They are a semi-legitimate political party, as well as doing charitable works. They say that they are separate from the “military wing,” but still exist under the unifying Hamas banner.
The PLO was another one that managed to straddle terrorism and legitimacy, morphing into “The Palestinian Authority” when they had the chance. Nowadays, they are pretty much the Palestine government — such as it is — and have yet to renounce terrorism.
But not Al Qaeda. They had their single great success, and they have paid for it over and over again. And now, it’s becoming clearer that they are “stuck on stupid,” embodying the old saying “when your only tool is a hammer, all your problems start looking like nails.”
Al Qaeda’s built its success on a foundation of corpses. Every single one of their victories has been in killing. They have come to associate success with bombs so much that they seem to think that if things start going bad, just use more bombs or bigger bombs or bombs in new places, and eventually it’ll all work out for them.
But their application of that theory in Jordan seems to be backfiring. By targeting something only tangentially connected with the West, they ended up killing far more Muslims than Westerners. And unlike in Iraq, where their slaughters tend to be glossed over and quickly forgotten, this time the damage to their image is severe.
Muslims around the world are looking at Al Qaeda now, and not seeing noble warriors. They’re not seeing liberators. They’re not seeing fierce champions, standing up to the crusaders. They’re seeing the mad dog they’ve been cheering on as it snaps at the West now turning on them. And those fine words of courage and resistance are now being heard as “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”
Steven Den Beste says that this could be a symptom of just how much damage we have done to Al Qaeda, signs that they are dissolving into components and cells, their unifying structure gutted and shredded. I think he very well could be right.
The bombings in Jordan will, I believe, turn out to be the Pyrrhic victory that signifies the beginning of the end of Al Qaeda. And, as they fall further and further into disgrace, I hope others will begin turning on the Islamists, and we might actually see the beginning of a true “Reformation” among Islam.
It’s not happening any time soon, however. President Bush was dead-on when he said this war will most likely last years, perhaps decades. I hope like hell we have the strength.