Friday, 6 May 2011


How insensitive.
Mark Steyn on how Jihadists were treated in a more civilised age and the result:
When it comes to instructive analogies, I prefer Khartoum to cartoons. If it took America a decade to avenge the dead of 9/11, it took Britain 13 years to avenge their defeat in Sudan in 1884. But, after Kitchener slaughtered the jihadists of the day at the Battle of Omdurman in 1897, he made a point of digging up their leader the Mahdi, chopping off his head and keeping it as a souvenir. The Sudanese got the message. The British had nary a peep out of the joint until they gave it independence six decades later — and, indeed, the locals fought for King and (distant imperial) country as brave British troops during World War II. Even more amazingly, generations of English schoolchildren were taught about the Mahdi's skull winding up as Lord Kitchener's novelty paperweight as an inspiring tale of national greatness.

Not a lot of that today. It's hard to imagine Osama's noggin as an attractive centerpiece at next year's White House Community Organizer of the Year banquet, and entirely impossible to imagine America's "educators" teaching the tale approvingly. So instead, even as we explain that our difficulties with this bin Laden fellow are nothing to do with Islam, no sir, perish the thought, we simultaneously rush to assure the Muslim world that, not to worry, we accorded him a 45-minute Islamic funeral as befits an observant Muslim. That's why Pakistani big shots harbored America's mortal enemy and knew they could do so with impunity.
 Short version, showing strength wins respect; showing weakness wins contempt.

Update:  Michael Walsh adds this point, which I've been arguing since my university teaching days–though I would stress "humiliating" rather than "decisive" defeat:
From Charles Martel at Tours in 732 to Sobieski at Vienna in 1683 to Kitchener at Omdurman, nothing has had a greater calming effect on the Muslim world than decisive defeat. Yes, bin Laden was still exercised about the 15th-century Spanish reconquest of el-Andalus, but his animus died with him. Now the Muslim world must decide whether the war shall continue.

A raid like Sunday’s (a tip of the hat, by the way, to the peerless helicopter pilots of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, formed in the wake of the Carter-era Iran-hostage-rescue disaster) will go a long way to pacifying non-jihadis, who understand that they are no match for American power and will only suffer should the radicals succeed in making this a conflict of Islam vs. the West.

That is, it doesn’t have to come down to a Kitchenerian slaughter. All that “the Islamic world” needs to accept and understand is that its Mahdi is not coming.


jayessell said...

I would not be too surprised if somewhere there's a bowling ball bag serving a use not intended by the manufacturer.

Ironmistress said...

THe löonger a war becomes, the more it personifies to its leaders and heroes, and the more tired and fatigued the warriois themselves and the societies become.

I believe neutralizing Osama was like pulling the spark plug hood off an engine. Killing him effectively removed the person behind the jihad and ended the spiritual input and inspiration for killing the kuffar.

I believe also that al-Qaida has now suffered a devastating spiritual and moral blow. No matter how long did Osama hide, the avenging talon of the American eagle eventually found and squashed him.

Giving to the fact that irregular volunteers have high but brittle morale, al-Qaida fighters are likely to demoralize now for good.

Sergej said...

"High but brittle morale". Well put.

It is too early to stand down, since there are likely a few second-stringers around, who will try to reignite the jihad. But it seems that defeating one of these periodic jihadniks buys the civilized world a few generations' quiet. From their direction at least. "Carthago delenda est" isn't a modern sentiment, and I'm not sure how much of a bad thing that is. So, until the next one. Which might not even be in our time.

Whatever I think of him personally, and the Washington environment in general, the President has some competent military people serving under him, and he appears to listen to them. Yes, all the Bush tactics are evil and nasty, according to the consensus of the faculty lounge, but around early February 2009, someone advised the new President that it was time to put on the big boy pants finally. In this, Barry Husseinovich proved himself a shade better than Carter.