They know we are winning, and they are increasingly desperate.
The “they” I mean is Al Qaeda and the Jihadists. The “we” is the Coalition of nations which invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, and which has resolved to rid the world of one of the more pernicious threats to innocent people around the world. While I am aware that we still have very little specific information, and that there is still considerable danger – apparently a number of the action cells are still at large and presumably able and motivated to try to carry out their mission in some way – it occurs to me that the past two days has brought a great deal of good news on the strategic and tactical levels of this war. If things are as they appear, ‘we’ the people have made significant progress against ‘they’ the monsters. To illustrate this, since so many people have already pointed out that the terrorists wanted this to be another 9/11, I will point out some of the many differences which tell us some fascinating things about this war.
First, the tactics. I find myself wondering how true it is that we supposedly got an agent inside the terrorist planning. If we did, it appears to mean that the group which planned this was in such straits that they had to recruit people to join in on the plan. That’s a big change from the 9/11 attacks, which were held in close confidence – some of the hijackers themselves did not know their role in detail until right before the event – and whose planners were very careful to hand-pick team members. If there was no undercover agent, then the British and Americans are protecting some very special sources and methods, which is even better news, since that would mean we possess an effective intelligence weapon moving forward for future plans and operations. Incidentally, that’s something else I love about this – in the old days, the governments on both sides of the Atlantic had a bad habit of letting important details slip, so the creeps could learn and adapt. Not any more. I love that British officials understood enough that they could look straight at a reporter and explain, 'You don’t need to know that, boyo.'
And of course, there is the way things played out. It seems that all the planning was done at the theoretical level, with none of the physical rehearsal done for the 9/11 hijackings, nor does there seem to be the redundant personnel available or alternative plan for a fall back. No Khalid to plan this one out for the monsters.
Then there is the strategic perspective to this plan. War is not a game, where every action counts the same, and you win by making a big enough bang. The terrorists have lost their bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, and are having a bad time of it in many other places. The terrorists understand the loss in logistical terms, and are becoming very worried about what happens if this western notion of representative government and armies which serve the commonwealth instead of the loudest mullah catches on in a country near them. Worst of all, the terrorists realize that if the United States establishes self-supporting governments and stable infrastructures in Iraq and Afghanistan, then they can do that thing which is the Jihadists’ nightmare: They might remove their forces from those Middle Eastern territories, as friends with the people living there and the clear victors in those nations. The rhetorical support for the Jihad against the West takes a body blow and then some if and when that happens.
With that in mind, look at this operation from a strategic perspective. The Jihadists could only have hoped for one of two possible responses. They either hoped that the attacks would damage confidence in the leadership of PM Tony Blair and President George W. Bush, or they hoped that the attacks would spur the Brits and Yanks to some sort of reckless action for revenge. Anyone who has been paying attention in the past half-dozen years knows that neither scenario would have developed. Had the attacks succeeded, the American and British outrage would have coalesced into renewed understanding as a whole for why we have to fight this war, and would have led to a more determined, yet still controlled, campaign. We already understand these bastards target innocents and like to saw heads off people if there’s a camera rolling; this would have only confirmed that knowledge and shut up some of the more stupidly naïve speakers on the Left. The terrorists, of course, made the mistake of focusing on their own perspective and not correcting for bias, and they missed the results of the last several elections. To wit, they acted as if Al Gore were the President of the United States, not George W. Bush.
And then there is the cost of failure. Image is everything to a terrorist. Cutting off the head of a helpless hostage is an obscene sin in every culture, which is why the terrorists like it as a message – the greater the atrocity, they believe, the greater the effect of their message. While that is a sick and perverted concept, there is some evidence that it works in the Middle East, or at least works where your choice of government is between arrogant tyrants and intolerant religious fanatics. But the terrorists cannot abide failure. And an international plan which results only in the arrest of most of the planners and participants without even a single murder to brag about, well folks that’s just embarrassing for the terrorists. How do they figure on getting money and political protection if their biggest plans not only fail, but make the target governments look effective and responsible?
Osama bin Laden was a fiendish and evil man, whose plots have hurt countless people around the world, but he was a careful planner and he chose his operatives carefully. The results of this latest plan show me two things for sure; the planners in Al Qaeda or whomever is leading the Jihadist parade these days are of a distinctly poorer caliber of mind than the had before, and the West is more able and effective than before.