May 15, 2008


Demise of al-Qa'eda in sight, US official says (Alex Spillius, 15/05/2008, Daily Telegraph)

A senior United States counter-terrorism official has declared that the demise of al-Qa'eda is in sight, as the terrorist group's failure to adapt its violent ideology and tactics has provoked growing dissent across the Islamic world.

The uprising by Sunni tribes against al-Qa'eda in Iraq, combined with protests in northern African countries against suicide bombings and dissent from clerics and former terrorists have put the group's leadership on the defensive as never before, said the official.

"If al-Qa'eda maintains its current state of play of attacking civilians and Muslims, and continuing to not change its philosophy, it will start to fizzle," the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

...that's nothing compared to how badly folks scared themselves about the potential appeal of totalitarian Salafism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 15, 2008 8:40 AM

Please tell us again why an Islamic demographic takeover as currently under way in Europe does not open the door for totalitarian Salifism?

Posted by: Perry at May 15, 2008 9:20 AM

Because Muslims don't want it.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2008 10:14 AM

OJ, you're probably right about the ultimate weakness of totalitarian Salifism. The problem is not totalitarian Salifism alone, but totalitarian Salifism plus willing enablers among the Western power elite plus nuclear weapons. That combination can lead to a lot of dead innocents. If it's at all possible, I'd like to win without all those casualties.

Posted by: Mike Morley at May 15, 2008 10:54 AM

I have never lost a moment's sleep over the "appeal" of Slafism.

I have lost much sleep over the capabilities of small numbers of super-empowered (via our own technology) suicidal fanatics whose thinking, mimicing as it does that of those on planet Zongo, can be very very very difficult to predict, much less defend against, and who are willing to kill themselves for the sole and single purpose of killing as many of my friends and family as they possibly can, without a care for any further purpose than that.

Yeah, that scares me just a smidge. I'm a little weird that way.

Posted by: Andrew X at May 15, 2008 11:35 AM

Indeed OJ, some popular weblog authors have even convinced themselves that most Lebanese Sunnis are fans of totalitarian Salafism, foolishly thinking that they must be like the craziest of all Sunnis elsewhere in the region.

Posted by: John Thacker at May 15, 2008 12:25 PM

Of course totalitarian ideologies will fail over time. It's how many people the crazies are willing to take down with them along the way that's the worrisome part.

Posted by: andrew at May 15, 2008 12:41 PM

All the Sunni of Lebanon care about is preserving dominance over the majority. It's not religious, just class.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2008 1:15 PM

No, it can't. The enablers are always minimal.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2008 1:17 PM

Except that they can't kill enough for it to be a big concern.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2008 1:19 PM

Because Muslims don't want it.

And we all know how the political/social/economic situations of Muslim-majority countries are perfect reflections of the will of the majority...?

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 15, 2008 1:30 PM

Ah, the Bright and his belief in the perfect....

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2008 8:40 PM

OK, ignore the word "perfect" in the sentence and then answer my point, if you can. Sheesh.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 16, 2008 12:37 AM

Yes, in Muslim democracies there isn't much of a vote for totalitarianism or salafism.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2008 6:07 AM

So I guess your excuse is that Iran isn't totalitarian, and that Saudi Arabia isn't a democracy. But Perry's original question still stands, because you are assuming that after the Muslim demographic takeover those countries will remain democracies, or at least respect the will of the majority. I'm not so sure. The majorities in Russia in 1917 and Germany in 1933 didn't get just what they wanted.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 16, 2008 3:35 PM

Exactly. It may take them awhile, as it did the continental Europeans. But the majority will choose democracy when asked.

Muslims are just like you.

Posted by: oj at May 16, 2008 5:53 PM

So then why, for one example, do so many young British Muslims want to impose Sharia? It's largely contrary to British/American traditions and what Britons/Americans think of as democracy. So that large group is not "just like" me, despite living in an advanced democracy. They've been more than "asked," and yet they reject it. How do you explain that?

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 16, 2008 11:07 PM

They're Muslim. All Muslim societies have shari'a law as yours has Judeo-Christian, Roman law. They're just like you.

Posted by: oj at May 17, 2008 6:32 AM

Papaya, the young want to be different from their parents. Remember the uptight gray flannel suit generation begot the hippies. etc. I think this silliness of sharia is just the younger generation driving the older one crazy. Religious observation - no way.

Posted by: erp at May 17, 2008 9:35 AM