Saturday, July 09, 2005[posted by jaed at 12:06 AM]
Blood for blood
Lee Harris has written perhaps the most insightful thing I've seen on the mind of the enemy since his "Fantasy Ideology". In this latest essay, he compares what they think they're doing not to war, but to tribal feud:
In the blood feud, the orientation is not to the future, as in war, but to the past. In the feud you are avenging yourself on your enemy for something that he did in the past. Al Qaeda justified the attack on New York and Washington as revenge against the USA for having defiled the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia by its military presence during the First Gulf War. In the attack on London, the English were being punished for their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.We might also adduce the obsession with the centuries-old "tragedy of Andalusia" here. Ancient grudges do not normally play a prominent, stated role in warfare - they may set the emotional stage, but they're not normally adduced as causus belli - but they do in feud.
In the blood feud, unlike war, you have no interest in bringing your enemy to his knees. You are not looking for your enemy to surrender to you; you are simply interested in killing some of his people in revenge[...]. In a blood feud, every member of the enemy tribe is a perfectly valid target for revenge.And this underlines the senselessness of the complaints that many of London's victims marched against America, that the 9/11 attacks were against "blue" states, etc. The terrorists have never shown any apparent interest in this argument - not even enough interest to offer some lame excuse in their communications - and this point makes sense of that fact. In feud, it doesn't matter whether a victim is on their side; "side" is determined not by your position or actions, but by who you are.
Harris also proposes that one reason the enemy hasn't attacked more frequently and more bloodily in the west is because they're not trying to win:
In the blood feud there is no concept of decisive victory because there is no desire to end the blood feud. Rather the blood feud functions as a permanent 'ethical' institution -- it is the way of life for those who participate in it; it is how they keep score and how they maintain their own rights and privileges.[...] We in the West cannot imagine a war that goes on forever; but those for whom the blood feud is the established mode of settling difference cannot imagine a world without it.RTWT.