Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The madman theory -- or, why hasn't America suffered another attack

Peter A. Brown, writing in the OrlandoSentinel asks a question many have asked before -- why hasn't Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. since 9/11. He also offers a whole bunch of really good answers:

[P]erhaps the Bush administration's efforts -- which have raised the hackles of civil libertarians who argue the stepped-up security endangers individual rights -- are working. Its tough stance on controlling foreign visitors to the United States might be worth the perceived insult felt by those overseas, and the loss of revenue for some U.S. businesses. Maybe the Patriot Act, which gave the Justice Department new tools to deal with the flow of money to terrorists and provided investigative powers that drive the American Civil Liberties Union nuts, is worth it. *** Is it possible that the lockup of captured al-Qaeda fighters at Guantánamo Bay might be yielding the type of intelligence that has allowed U.S. security personnel to short-circuit extremist plots? *** Or maybe opposing the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq has used up al-Qaeda's men and money, forcing it to concentrate its battle against America there, since those parts of the world are closer to al-Qaeda's home. And there is always the possibility that al-Qaeda has decided that attacking the United States might not be worth the political costs.
I think there's another explanation that Brown left out. I call it my madman theory, and I've held it since we attacked Afghanistan. I think there's a distinct possibility that Al Qaeda and its fellow travelers buy into the Left's paranoid view of George Bush -- namely, that he's a madman, fueled by religious fanaticism. Al Qaeda understands religious fanaticism. Always before, when it attacked the U.S., the White House was in the hands of rationalists (even Reagan was one), who could be counted on to do the politically wise, often politically correct thing. (In other words, they could be counted on to withdraw, or blow up some remote sheepherder's tent or, if they were Carter, to apologize.) Suddenly, though, there's George Bush, who knows that, while he is not so lacking in sin as to cast the first stone, Matthew preaches "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." Now, carrying that perceived fanaticism* to the nth degree, there is a real possibility that, if Al Qaeda strikes big at America, Bush will cast aside all restraint, and strike big at the heart of Islam -- Mecca. Do I really believe Bush will do that? I don't know. (See my footnote, below.) I do think, though, that he has sufficient faith in his faith to allow him to make such a decision. More importantly, I think the fanatic Islamists -- who understand faith driven tactical decisions -- wouldn't put it past him. And that belief on their part really is something as solid to our protection as the border controls, Code Oranges, and Patriot Act. Put another way (and viewing Bush through the Islamist prism), one could say that the mutual deterrence and mutually assured destruction doctrines of the Cold War -- with both sides avoiding war by arming for nuclear destruction -- may well have been replaced by the mutual madman doctrine, with each side delicately poised on the possibility of mutually assured faith driven destruction. --------------------------------------- *I don't perceive Bush as a fanatic. I see him merely as a man of deep faith. UPDATE: Captain Ed doesn't agree with the potential benefits of my "Bush, the madman" theory. I continue to think that, while is was foolish of Tom Tancredo to articulate the possiblity that the US could or would wipe out Mecca, it is useful for the terrorists to believe that their single-minded pursuit of a Caliphate could result in the destruction of one of the locations central to their religion. UPDATE II: A post over at Cheat Seeking Missiles made me realize that, when I said "bomb Mecca" I had a very different idea from the slant being given to Tancredo's "bomb Mecca" statement. I truly wasn't thinking of taking out the whole city, with its huge civilian population. I was thinking of taking out the religious shrine -- kind of a 3 a.m. target bombing with minimal (one hopes) loss of life. To the extent that precise spot is the holy of holies, the threat of that symbolic destruction seems to be a much greater threat to the Islamists than offing a bunch of people, an idea with which the Islamists feel fairly comfortable. And in any event, of course, I don't believe bombing Mecca (civilians or shrine) is a good idea. I just think it's useful that the jihadists -- realistically or not -- might worry that our President is as fanatic as they are and, if push came to shove, might take that step.