A military response to 9/11 would have made sense had it been directed narrowly at Al Qaeda and like-minded hardcore jihadists, who are motivated by a complex stew of religious fanaticism and rage that leaves no room for negotiation. But in the long run, jihadists can cause serious, long-lasting damage only if they have substantial popular support. Without it they wither and eventually die.This is from a review of two books: The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism, by Matthew Carr, and The Matador's Cape: America's Reckless Response to Terror, by Stephen Holmes. Both were OK but not great. But the illustration by Hungry Dog Studio that accompanies the review is kind of cool.
Unfortunately, our blinkered response to 9/11, including large-scale warfare and support for dictators throughout the Middle East, has instead increased the popularity of the violent radicals and put us implicitly at war with an entire region, rather than with a small and until recently unloved band of Sunni extremists. If there's a lesson from the sorry mess Bush has made, this is it: The only way to beat Al Qaeda is to wage what you might call a global counterinsurgency campaign, separating the terrorists from the surrounding population and getting the broader Muslim world on our side.
THE TERRORIST'S APPRENTICE....As long as we're on the subject of "the total conflation of all Islamist movements," the MoJo review I mentioned yesterday is now online. Here's a piece: