Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Who Would Profit from Another Terrorist Attack?

US citizens are being rendered destitute by the War on Terror, directly through the increase in debt and the consequent increase in taxes needed to pay the interest on that debt, and indirectly through "quantitative easing," the debasement of the currency that makes the accumulation of capital impossible. More importantly, our liberties are being revoked by agencies that consuder us guilty of terrorism until we are able to prove our innocence by passing searches that violate standards of decency considered sacrosanct all over the world until a decade ago.

When asked why they tolerate being so abused by their own government, most USians patiently explain that they are willing to give their great-grandchildren's inheritance to those who would literally strip them of their dignity so that no terrorist will attack them. Asked "Why would anyone want to attack you?" they wil rattle off the conventional wisdom—they hate us because we are good, they hate us because we're evil, they want Islam to take over the world, they want to screw beautiful virgins forever, etc.

But there is still another question to be asked: What would the jihadists gain from another attack? Or even better, who would benefit from another attack?

Before getting to the serious stuff, let's dispose of the virgins-in-paradise argument. I'm a guy, and I know how guys think. The old expression "A bird in hand is better than two in the bush" didn't come from nowhere. Not many guys who've got a chance at getting and keeping women in this life are going to give that prospect up for the words in a book.

How do I know? How hard is it for even the most devout Christian to "lend to anyone who asks without asking for return"? How many of us really forgive unconditionally? How many of us really "do not fear for [the LORD] is [our] God"? Or look at the divorce rate among Christians: do we really bear with each other's faults? We can sing as loudly as we want about leaning on the everlasting arms and standing on the promises of God, but actually doing it doesn't come easily. Unless the Holy Spirit is really a Muslim and has more power than the Christian version, suicide bombers are going to be few and far between enough that we've got other things to worry about.

Now polygamy in the Muslim world does present the real problem that there are simply not enough females to go around, which means that there is a significant bachelor herd for whom death might be preferable to life without a mate. I know of no possible solution to that problem but preemptively killing all Muslim males unlikely to marry, and I don't think God would honor that. But I would also like to suggest that killing women and (female) children as "collateral damage" is just as certainly no solution.

However, the question is moot: recruiting terrorists by appealing to the virgin argument has been spectacularly unsuccessful. The FBI has run half a dozen or more domestic sting operations designed to—well, designed primarily to keep USians afraid of terrorism, but ostensibly to catch those with terrorist leanings—and while the prospect of screwing virgins forever doesn't seem to get much traction, that being the reward for all Muslim men, anger against the killing of innocent people overseas does. If the best way to encourage the supply of potential terrorists is to keep killing innocent people in the Ummah, one would think that the best way to prevent terrorism would be to stop killing people overseas; but that alternative is, alas, off the table.

So, if a terrorist martyr doesn't increase his supply of virgins, what would he gain by a suicide mass murder?

To start the answer, what did the 9/11 suicide murderers accomplish? If they could look back at the fruit of their labors over the last decade, what benefits would they say they accrued to their cause?

Is the Ummah a better place because of the 9/11 attacks? Jihadists killed three thousand USians, true—if you believe the official version, which I don't, but let's go with it here—but a hundred times as many innocent Muslims have since died, more than that have been maimed, and millions have been displaced. One could argue that this is a short-term sacrifice that might pay off for Islamism in the long term, as evidenced by the bankruptcy now taking down every government in the West, but unless you're going to write off as totally irrational the community that gave us the number zero, algebra, the compass, the mattress, coffee, and the linguistic terms our seminary students to this day use to learn Hebrew grammar, you've got to predict that influential Muslims will seriously consider whether the same goal could be achieved with less spilling of innocent blood. By that measure, another attack would do the cause of jihad no good, and so one would expect the jihadists to try to destroy the US in some other way.

So if the cause of jihad would not benefit from another terror attack, who would? Answer: No one would benefit from another attack as much as the US government.

As Bob Dylan and Joe McDonald sang in the 1960s (to the disgust of the evangelical community, as I remember), there is plenty of good money to be made by the masters of war for supplying the army with the tools of the trade. In fact, in a twist worthy of Mel Brooks' producers, there is more money to be made from fighting wars than from winning them, a fact that cannot have escaped those intelligent enough to market guns and bombs, to say nothing of night-vision goggles, or for that matter the CEOs of fast-food companies that serve large military installations overseas. After World War II, government spending was cut 60%: soldiers and manufacturers alike could no longer rely on income the government had taxed away from people who had earned it; instead, they had to offer goods and services that private individuals would voluntarily part with their money to obtain, a significantly more difficult task. They learned their lesson well, and the mistake has not been repeated: the Vietnam war went on long after the government knew the effort was futile, US troops stayed in the Ummah after the cease-fire that ended Desert Storm, and, of course, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have promised their corporate sponsors that the war that presently stretches from Uganda to Afghanistan will not end in their lifetimes.

What of those called upon to fight, tired as they must be of being away from their families and the risk to life and limb?

To their credit, they are putting their money where their mouths are, giving more money to Ron Paul, who promises to get them out of the war zone forthwith, than to any other candidate, and twice as much as to all other Republican candidates combined.

But in the end, they are expendable. Why should the government waste money on combat pay for people might be killed, and whose deaths in great numbers could begin a backlash against the system? Far better to leave as many of them as possible at home or simply discharge them, have only enough boots on the ground to do what drones cannot do, and let the drones take the risks. Again, if a soldier dies, there are human consequences. If a drone is shot down, according to the Keynsian economics that guide the establishment, that is a good thing, because it brings about government spending that employs people to build a replacement. Drones in the end are cheaper than foot soldiers, and managing the needed production process can be extremely profitable for the corporations that manufacture them.

In short, the next terrorist attack will see an increase in drone warfare, with only as much increase in troop involvement needed to sell the program: fewer US military combat deaths, but an increase in money spent on whizbangs, a boon for the military-industrial complex.

It will also be a boon for those who believe in strong central and even global government. Such an attack will be followed by calls for more checkpoints, chatdowns, patdowns, strip scanners, and drones flying overhead. All will reduce our privacy as they augment the bank accounts of the corporate elite and the power position of the New World Order.

The implication of this for Christian mission is obvious. Unless the New World Order is indeed God's way of fulfilling the Great Commission, it is the reaction to the attack, not the attack itself, that will make fulfilling the Great Commission more difficult. Since that reaction will simply be an extension of the reaction we already see to past attacks, isn't it time we asked if the reactions to 9/11 that the evangelical community has tolerated and even celebrated might be, far from our legitimate means of  self-defense, the Devil's way of obstructing the fulfillment of the Great Commission?

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