Saturday, September 15, 2007

Islamists: Mismanagement of Savagery?

Al Qaeda's Mismanagement of Savagery?
(Image from Wikipedia)

Some readers may recall my post of July 18, 2006, in which I discuss Abu Bakr Naji's plan for seizing territory and establishing Islamic law as a means of establishing the Caliphate.

In that post, I used a translation by William McCants (Fellow with the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point) of Naji's text, The Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through Which The Umma Will Pass.

Allow me to restate what Naji has written:
[The condition of a region of savagery] is more nebulous than chaos, in view of its corresponding historical precedents and the modern world and in light of wealth, greed, various forces, and human nature, and its form which we will discuss in this study. Before its submission to the administration [i.e., the management of savagery], the region of savagery will be in a situation resembling the situation of Afghanistan before the control of the Taliban, a region submitting to the law of the jungle in its primitive form, whose good people and even the wise among the evildoers yearn for someone to manage this savagery. (page 27)
This Hobbesian state is something that the Islamists themselves first bring about, after which -- as a sort of 'manufactured heroism' -- they provide order:
As for a detailed definition, it differs according to the goals and nature of the individuals in the administration. If we picture its initial form, we find that it consists of the management of peoples' needs with regard to the provision of food and medical treatment, preservation of security and justice among the people who live in the regions of savagery, securing the boarders [sic: "borders"] by means of groups that deter anyone who tries to assault the regions of savagery, as well as setting up defensive fortifications.

(The stage of) managing the people's needs with regard to food and medical treatment may advance to (the stage of) being responsible for offering services like education and so forth. And the preservation of security and securing the borders may advance to working to expand of the region of savagery. (page 26)
On of the things that one does to manage the savagery is:
- Establishing Sharia justice among the people who live in the regions of savagery (page 27)
How well does this 'manufactured heroism' work in practice? Not so well, apparently, as shown through this report by Michael Totten about Al Qaeda's experience in Iraq's Anbar Province:
Al Qaeda was initially welcomed by many Iraqis in Ramadi because they said they were there to fight the Americans. The spirit of resistance against foreign occupiers was strong. But the Iraqis got a lot more in the bargain than simply resistance....

"Market Street [the main street downtown] was completely controlled by Al Qaeda," [Marine] Lieutenant [Jonathan] Welch said. "They rolled down the streets, pointed guns at people, and said we are in charge. They had crazy requirements for the locals. They weren't allowed to cut their hair. Girls were banned from going to school. They couldn't shave or smoke. One guy defiantly lit a cigarette and they shot him four times"....

After Al Qaeda took over Ramadi, the local government was replaced with terrorists who only cared about fighting Americans and violently suppressing Iraqis. Al Qaeda was in charge, but it wouldn't be accurate to say they were the new government. None of the basic city government services functioned. There was no electricity, no running water, no telephone service, and no garbage collection. Every single local business closed down. The city could not have been any more broken....

In October of last year the tribal leaders in the province, including some who previously were against the Americans, formed a movement to reject the savagery Al Qaeda had brought to their region. Some of them were supremely unhappy with the American presence since fighting exploded in the province’s second largest city of Fallujah, but Al Qaeda proved to be even more sinister from their point of view. Al Qaeda did not come as advertised. They were militarily incapable of expelling the American Army and Marines. And they were worse oppressors than even Saddam Hussein. The leaders of Anbar Province saw little choice but to openly declare them enemies and do whatever it took to expunge them. They called their new movement Sahawa al Anbar, or the Anbar Awakening.
The struggle against Al Qaeda in Anbar is far from over, but what Totten's report shows is that the Islamist assumption about manufacturing their own heroism through establishing the savagery from which they then rescue people will not work.

People aren't as stupid as Islamist intellectuals like Abu Bakr Naji seem to think.

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At 2:45 PM, Blogger Hathor said...

If most bloggers (I mean the instant armchair soldier and diplomat) would have been as knowledgeable as you about Islam, I think the administration would have had some feedback that would have been useful in looking at their methods of fighting a war in Iraq or at least what it would take to form a government.
Anbar Province could be an opportunity lost, because I don't think there are people advising the president, know as much as you. I should say, think in the way you do. I don't know enough to speak on General Petraeus, but I don't think he is the person who has the definitive understanding of Iraq. This is something I read in passing.
If they can control the terrorist, I would hope they could put a Corp of Engineers to build up the infrastructure quickly and deal with Sunni representation in the government later. And Please no more photo-ops with the president! The Sheikh looked like he might be shot on the spot.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Hathor, for your kind words, but I really don't deserve such rich praise. If the advisors know so little as I do about Islam, then we're all in trouble...

That West Point Center that I've linked to for the savagery article seems to have some experts, so perhaps not all is lost.

The problem is not that we don't have experts on Islam, it seems, but that they're not in the position of power to get the president's ear -- or the ear of others who make things move.

A looming defeat, however, has a way of concentrating even little minds...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very funny ! ! How could someone well educated like you still bleive U.S.A media ! ! Al Qaeda or ABU NAJI never said People couldn't shave or smoke. never did action for that. The most of what you said are from G Bush media witch is made for stupid American People.

At 5:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

'Donald', I don't know what a "G Bush media witch" is, but your entire comment sounds rather 'occult' and therefore hard to understand. Anyway, I was reading Michael Totten, not George Bush.

Not smoke or shave? The smoking ban was news to me in Totten's report, but the shaving ban wherever Islamists come to power is well-known.

Jeffery Hodges

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