Al-Qaeda’s new strategy

Counter-terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman has a fascinating op-ed piece, Al-Qaeda has a new strategy. Obama needs one, too. – washingtonpost.com.  Here is a summation of that strategy, which Hoffman explores in detail:   Overwhelm. Divide. Bankrupt. Spread. Diversify.

The terrorists have certainly succeeded in dividing us, both from our allies and from each other.  Al-Qaeda is trying to take credit for our current financial woes, which is ridiculous, but the direct and the indirect costs of the war on terrorism are not helping. And it is certainly overwhelming  the way the terrorists keep shifting their bases of operations and attacking us in so many different ways.

Any ideas?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Jonathan

    Hoffman offers a solution that makes sense: “break[] the cycle of radicalization and recruitment that sustains the movement.”

    That is going to have to come from within Islam, I think. Muslims need to figure out what true Islam is if it is really a religion of “peace” and then stick to it and stand against the radicals.

    It was good to see Muslims protesting against the underwear bomber outside the court in Michigan.

  • Jonathan

    Hoffman offers a solution that makes sense: “break[] the cycle of radicalization and recruitment that sustains the movement.”

    That is going to have to come from within Islam, I think. Muslims need to figure out what true Islam is if it is really a religion of “peace” and then stick to it and stand against the radicals.

    It was good to see Muslims protesting against the underwear bomber outside the court in Michigan.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Yeah, I have an idea. We make their life a living hell. We stop surveying them and make public spectacles out of them. Execute them in broad daylight. No more drones, Send the guys in and level the place, no prisoners, and broadcast the pictures. And we make an example out of Yemen. So that every one realizes and quickly, that if they don’t want western soldiers in their yard, they clean it up.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Yeah, I have an idea. We make their life a living hell. We stop surveying them and make public spectacles out of them. Execute them in broad daylight. No more drones, Send the guys in and level the place, no prisoners, and broadcast the pictures. And we make an example out of Yemen. So that every one realizes and quickly, that if they don’t want western soldiers in their yard, they clean it up.

  • Kirk

    YES! And we kill the women and children too! That way, everyone will know that America is really different that the terrorists!

  • Kirk

    YES! And we kill the women and children too! That way, everyone will know that America is really different that the terrorists!

  • Peter Leavitt

    Obama’s move to try Abdulmutallab in American court is telling. He could have sent him to Gitmo for enhanced interrogation, including water-boarding if necessary, and then tried and executed him forthwith with a perfectly constitutional military commission. Same with Kalik Sheikh Mohammed.

    The trouble is that the American people and political class largely lack the backbone to really wage a tough, hard-headed war with this savage and smart global enemy.

    Roosevelt summarily tried unlawful German combatants who landed on the Long Island Shore in June 1942. By July i942 six of them were convicted and executed. We need to play similar hardball with these Muslim jihadis, though I fear that the country has grown too spineless for this. Just now the people have a president they voted for and deserve, a rhetoric spouting softie who all too often mistakes words for action.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Obama’s move to try Abdulmutallab in American court is telling. He could have sent him to Gitmo for enhanced interrogation, including water-boarding if necessary, and then tried and executed him forthwith with a perfectly constitutional military commission. Same with Kalik Sheikh Mohammed.

    The trouble is that the American people and political class largely lack the backbone to really wage a tough, hard-headed war with this savage and smart global enemy.

    Roosevelt summarily tried unlawful German combatants who landed on the Long Island Shore in June 1942. By July i942 six of them were convicted and executed. We need to play similar hardball with these Muslim jihadis, though I fear that the country has grown too spineless for this. Just now the people have a president they voted for and deserve, a rhetoric spouting softie who all too often mistakes words for action.

  • CRB

    Great article here by military historian
    Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:
    http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson011010.html

  • CRB

    Great article here by military historian
    Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:
    http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson011010.html

  • Jonathan

    Well, at least it was somewhat encouraging to hear POTUS finally say recently that we are in a War on Terror. But then, in the same breath, he reiterated his intent that GTMO will be closed. So, apparently, though POTUS concedes we are in a “war” of sorts, he nevertheless elects to treat unlawful combatants as common criminals to be dealt with by the civilian justice system. I still don’t think his reasoning is inconsistent, though you may well take issue with his decision. WWII was a declared war; we were fighting a nation state. Roosevelt was right to apply the law of war to the perfidious spies caught on US shores.

  • Jonathan

    Well, at least it was somewhat encouraging to hear POTUS finally say recently that we are in a War on Terror. But then, in the same breath, he reiterated his intent that GTMO will be closed. So, apparently, though POTUS concedes we are in a “war” of sorts, he nevertheless elects to treat unlawful combatants as common criminals to be dealt with by the civilian justice system. I still don’t think his reasoning is inconsistent, though you may well take issue with his decision. WWII was a declared war; we were fighting a nation state. Roosevelt was right to apply the law of war to the perfidious spies caught on US shores.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Jonathan, Congress authorized a War Against Terror including the following key provision:

    hat the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Jonathan, Congress authorized a War Against Terror including the following key provision:

    hat the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kirk,
    Where did I advocate the killing of women and children? I advocate making swift work of these people, and making the world understand that we are not playing with the gloves on anymore. If the problem is in your back yard, take care of it or we will for you.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kirk,
    Where did I advocate the killing of women and children? I advocate making swift work of these people, and making the world understand that we are not playing with the gloves on anymore. If the problem is in your back yard, take care of it or we will for you.

  • Kirk

    @Bror,

    Your point, seemingly, is still to fight terror with terror. Public executions and brutal crackdowns are, at least supposedly, the hallmarks of our enemies and are a way that we distinguish us from them. There’s a distinction (call it justice, morality, civility) that keeps us from brutalizing our enemy. I say keep those gloves on. When you start talking about making examples out of your enemies, it’s an extremely slippery slope that ultimately ends in you becoming what you claim to fight against. Could we be safer than we are now? Sure, but we’d also be less free. Could we have made a cleaner sweep of terror? Sure, but we’d have as many innocents as terrorists in the rubble.

  • Kirk

    @Bror,

    Your point, seemingly, is still to fight terror with terror. Public executions and brutal crackdowns are, at least supposedly, the hallmarks of our enemies and are a way that we distinguish us from them. There’s a distinction (call it justice, morality, civility) that keeps us from brutalizing our enemy. I say keep those gloves on. When you start talking about making examples out of your enemies, it’s an extremely slippery slope that ultimately ends in you becoming what you claim to fight against. Could we be safer than we are now? Sure, but we’d also be less free. Could we have made a cleaner sweep of terror? Sure, but we’d have as many innocents as terrorists in the rubble.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    This article reminds me, once again, of how foolish an endeavor it has been for the U.S. to treat terrorism as a war against an actual, geographically-limited state. Rather than responding quickly to terrorist threats that surface all around the globe, we have instead become mired in very expensive, decade-long wars involving large numbers of soldiers. And al-Qaeda, rather than doing the polite thing and fighting us where we’re allegedly fighting them, has picked up their stuff and moved on. Gee, I thought all the terrorists in the world were going to come battle us in Iraq.

    And while real wars — “excellent” wars, as Peter has called them — no doubt make Americans feel like we’re “doing something”, make people feel more manly when they see “shock and awe” on their TV screens, well, they obviously haven’t stopped the terrorist threat.

    Meanwhile, conservatives tend to poo-poo smaller, tactical strikes, because they are undertaken by Democratic Presidents. And do not involve sexy TV images of foreigners getting blown up. “You call that a war on terror?!” they cry.

    But hey, let’s listen to the conservatives more on this front. It hasn’t worked so far, but surely it will at some point in the future. Let’s launch a third front and send a few divisions to overthrow Yemen. And, shortly after, a full-on invasion of Pakistan, too. We always have more troops to throw at the problem, and if we can’t afford the wars, we’ll just print more money. The Chinese will always buy our debt, until we, necessarily, invade them as well. Should be fun. I’ll get some popcorn and turn on Fox News.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    This article reminds me, once again, of how foolish an endeavor it has been for the U.S. to treat terrorism as a war against an actual, geographically-limited state. Rather than responding quickly to terrorist threats that surface all around the globe, we have instead become mired in very expensive, decade-long wars involving large numbers of soldiers. And al-Qaeda, rather than doing the polite thing and fighting us where we’re allegedly fighting them, has picked up their stuff and moved on. Gee, I thought all the terrorists in the world were going to come battle us in Iraq.

    And while real wars — “excellent” wars, as Peter has called them — no doubt make Americans feel like we’re “doing something”, make people feel more manly when they see “shock and awe” on their TV screens, well, they obviously haven’t stopped the terrorist threat.

    Meanwhile, conservatives tend to poo-poo smaller, tactical strikes, because they are undertaken by Democratic Presidents. And do not involve sexy TV images of foreigners getting blown up. “You call that a war on terror?!” they cry.

    But hey, let’s listen to the conservatives more on this front. It hasn’t worked so far, but surely it will at some point in the future. Let’s launch a third front and send a few divisions to overthrow Yemen. And, shortly after, a full-on invasion of Pakistan, too. We always have more troops to throw at the problem, and if we can’t afford the wars, we’ll just print more money. The Chinese will always buy our debt, until we, necessarily, invade them as well. Should be fun. I’ll get some popcorn and turn on Fox News.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kirk,
    You have a very romantic view of the world. The truth is though we probably kill more innocent people dragging this out with our gloves on, then if we just took care of the matter. Letting them kill innocent people because we are afraid we might if we take our gloves off, doesn’t really exhonerate us either.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kirk,
    You have a very romantic view of the world. The truth is though we probably kill more innocent people dragging this out with our gloves on, then if we just took care of the matter. Letting them kill innocent people because we are afraid we might if we take our gloves off, doesn’t really exhonerate us either.

  • Kirk

    @Bror,

    The larger point is about preserving our national character, that being that we are a just, civilized society. We don’t parade our enemies bodies, we don’t glory in death and we don’t terrorize. If advocating against brutality makes me a romantic, then I’ll be a romantic until the day I die.

  • Kirk

    @Bror,

    The larger point is about preserving our national character, that being that we are a just, civilized society. We don’t parade our enemies bodies, we don’t glory in death and we don’t terrorize. If advocating against brutality makes me a romantic, then I’ll be a romantic until the day I die.

  • Kirk

    @ Bror,

    And furthermore, isn’t your proposed strategy already in place, minus the public executions? I mean, didn’t we invade two countries for supporting terror? And yet, terror still exists in other countries’ “backyards.” I mean, you’d think these terrorists would learn, but more often than not, a dead militant is a martyr, not a deterrent.

  • Kirk

    @ Bror,

    And furthermore, isn’t your proposed strategy already in place, minus the public executions? I mean, didn’t we invade two countries for supporting terror? And yet, terror still exists in other countries’ “backyards.” I mean, you’d think these terrorists would learn, but more often than not, a dead militant is a martyr, not a deterrent.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kirk,
    We have been soft pedalling the whole time. It is what has given these people the upper hand. Soft pedalling makes us look weak and invites attack.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kirk,
    We have been soft pedalling the whole time. It is what has given these people the upper hand. Soft pedalling makes us look weak and invites attack.

  • Dan Kempin

    Here’s a strategy: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. How about we (the church, not the state, of course), take the risks involved to meaningfully reach Muslim culture with the gospel and share peace with those who are so driven by fear that they would choose their own death in the hope of mercy. How about we risk our own selves in order to “overwhelm . . . spread and diversify,” with unity and abundance thrown in to boot.

    “Radical” Christianity is the only way to truly engage “radical” Islam.

  • Dan Kempin

    Here’s a strategy: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. How about we (the church, not the state, of course), take the risks involved to meaningfully reach Muslim culture with the gospel and share peace with those who are so driven by fear that they would choose their own death in the hope of mercy. How about we risk our own selves in order to “overwhelm . . . spread and diversify,” with unity and abundance thrown in to boot.

    “Radical” Christianity is the only way to truly engage “radical” Islam.


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