Saturday, October 30, 2004

Bin Laden Redux



October Surprise: Bin Laden's Reprise By Alexander Barnes Dryer

[T]he most important thing about bin Laden's speech is that he's addressing it to the American people. He's trying to explain why 9/11 happened, the idea and when it occurred to him, and also telling the American people loud and clear that, unless they do something about it, America could be attacked again... Basically, he is saying, "if we are not attacked, we won't attack anybody."

Right. Sounds reasonable but let us consider the proposal from the perspective of my geopolitical mini-theory, i.e. the Muslim world is an international slum where Bin Laden and other Big Men operate as gang leaders. Imagine how we should respond if the leader of an urban street gang told us that we could insure our safety in the future if we would only stop sending cops to interfere with his gang's activities.

The pitch is: leave us in peace to pursue our traditional barbarian way of life--shooting up the neighborhood for sport, beating the crap out of our women, and pursuing our drug smuggling, gun running and human trafficking businesses.

Bin Laden doesn't get it. He imagines that Americans are primitive tribal people like his followers, enlisted into their Big Men's turf wars, and does not see the nerve that Bush's rhetoric about bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq touches. But Americans who support the administration's policies don't get it either. They imagine illiterate savages living in mud-brick hovels are really just like good Americans under the skin and, freed from the oppressive rule of brutal dictators, will spontaneously organize a democratic society.

Military intervention is no more likely to bring "freedom" to the Middle East than cops, jails and three-strikes laws are to improve urban ghettos. In both cases the root problems are poverty and the "culture of poverty" and in both cases the solution (if any) is the same: buy off the barbarians, pump in money, and dismantle the culture.

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