Now that some time has passed since the fatal attack on our embassy in Libya, the picture gels. There really was a terrorist plan, even though some officials do not want to admit that. Here is my best guess as to what it was (and still is).
Update 9-25-12: I have seen nothing reported since that would induce me to change my original assessments or my original recommendations. Aficionados of political correctness could substitute the word "dangerous" for the word "uncivilized", but they would lose a little of the real meaning of my assessments. I choose not to "dumb it down" that way.
One of the Al Qaeda groups noticed a video on YouTube about a movie that was made by anti-Muslim Christian extremists. The terrorist group then pointed it out to their followers online, specifically timed with their planned terrorist attack in Libya.
Their intent was (and still is) for a wave of “spontaneous” dangerous riots to follow, which outwardly resemble their attack. These are “spontaneous”, in that they didn’t have to foment them overtly. It continues all over the Muslim world, and has shown up over here with bomb threats causing evacuations at UT Austin and NDSU.
Why Does This Happen?
Science says any belief system, religious or political, can be intensified to the point that super-strong belief simply trumps all reason and law. It’s an emotional thing. The more fundamentalist the religion or the more rigidly-ideological the politics, the easier it is for this to happen. It’s really bad when the two are mixed together intimately, as is now “customary” in the Middle East.
Once you have a population of extreme religious (or political) nuts, two bad things happen: (1) any disagreement from outside the group is emotionally taken as an intolerable insult, and (2) the fanatical believer is very easily induced to commit any atrocity in the name of whatever it is he believes in. That’s where all the rioters and demonstrators come from.
We Still Have a Serious Terrorist Enemy
The professional terrorists, such as the original Al Qaeda central command, make use of this. They are not religious nuts, but they do masquerade as such. They use the intense-believer phenomena to recruit large numbers of fanatical followers willing to commit violence, including suicide bombings. But, did you also notice that the Al Qaeda command leaders never wore the suicide vests themselves, which proves my point about who and what they are.
Unfortunately for us, Al Qaeda has decentralized to multiple separate second-tier terrorist commands (such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen). They inspire many small follower groups all over the Muslim world and elsewhere, all fanatic enough to carry out the same recipe for violence, more-or-less independently. Basically, it has metastasized all over the world like a cancer.
Also unfortunately for us, there are rich recruiting grounds for violent followers throughout most of the Muslim world (or Third world, which is pretty much the same). This is because the bulk of those populations are both poor and uneducated.
Folks like that hate complexity in anything, and so prefer the simplicity of a harsh black-or-white moral prescription from an extreme fundamentalist religion, or from a dictatorial government, or both. They are therefore extremist in their belief, and thus very susceptible to terrorist suggestions.
What Do We Do About It?
We have a list of terrorist organizations, and more usefully, a list of the state sponsors of terrorism (they actually do have addresses). We should make better use of them. We should tie our foreign policy responses, as well as the prospects of foreign aid, to those lists. Several of our so-called “friends” in the region should be on one or both lists.
I think we need a third list, though, one that ranks how “uncivilized” a country is. Uncivilized people cannot channel their anger (justified or not) into anything but violence, unlike civilized people. Much of the middle east is still rather uncivilized, which is why there are so many screaming mobs always getting offended, rioting, and killing. It is also why our two attempts at planting democracy over there have not turned out well.
Using The “Uncivilized” List
If we intend to maintain a diplomatic presence in one of these uncivilized countries, then our embassy must be capable of defending itself against the screaming mob, however it starts. That means a large contingent of very heavily-armed Marines. If the mob comes through the gate or over the wall, we gun them down. Period. Raw naked force is something even a howling, uncivilized mob will understand.
An uncivilized country is not one in which we should consider any kind of extended “boots-on-the-ground” operation. The reason for any such an operation is irrelevant to that consideration. It should be only “get in fast, kill bad guys, and leave immediately.” We should never try an occupation again in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Recent history says very clearly that it’s just a waste of our treasure and our kids’ lives.
If there’s a terrorist group or state sponsor to hit in one of these places, then I say hit it hard. But, use long-range weapons from a great distance. Kill the bad guys. Give them no chance to hurt us. The population in the midst of which these bad guys lived will be “inconvenienced”, to say the least. But, that’s the penalty they should incur for being uncivilized, and for harboring or sponsoring terrorists.