The Washington Post today included a piece about “Mustafa Setmariam Nasar,” an “Architect of New War on the West.” While it was interesting as a biographical sketch of a jihadist, the key point had more to do with the tactics he advocated:
From secret hideouts in South Asia, the Spanish-Syrian al-Qaeda strategist published thousands of pages of Internet tracts on how small teams of Islamic extremists could wage a decentralized global war against the United States and its allies.
With the Afghanistan base lost, he argued, radicals would need to shift their approach and work primarily on their own, though sometimes with guidance from roving operatives acting on behalf of the broader movement.
This is the enemy we will be facing more and more in the future. Small groups of seemingly unremarkable people, united in hate of the United States and commitment to jihad against it. How do we fight this enemy?
I think it is clear that waging long, expensive wars against individual states is not the answer. This decentralization has emerged as a response to the U.S.’s ability to destroy almost any country on earth, like Afghanistan, if we think we should. Invading more countries won’t help. We have spent a huge amount of money and lives in Iraq, which was only peripherally (if that) affiliated with any Islamic terror groups. We have little to show for it. Contrary to the President’s assertions that we are “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here,” it is probably more a case that, if we put some Americans nearer to their territory, they are happy to kill those Americans while also learning military techniques. It is, at best, a delaying tactic–unless we plan to send human sacrifices into the middle east forever.
Nasar himself provides a clue as to a better way to fight these enemies:
“Let the American people — those who voted for killing, destruction, the looting of other nations’ wealth, megalomania and the desire to control others — be contaminated with radiation,” he wrote.
This statement shows us what it is that unites and motivates these decentralized groups to kill themselves for their cause. They blame the American people for a whole bunch of problems that exist in their homelands. Recognizing this motivation presents the opportunity to change it.
We cannot fight a traditional war against a miniscule fraction of the world’s population spread throughout its nations. We must combat their ideology of hate with our own extremely potent ideology of freedom and opportunity for all.
This would involve greatly increased foreign aid to the middle east, greatly increased involvement with and respect for the United Nations, expanded intelligence and diplomatic efforts toward the middle east, and a reduced role for the military.