David R. Henderson  

Gene Healy on Terrorism: Ooh, I'm Scared

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You ever get the feeling that some of these guys aren't the sharpest scimitars in the shed?

That's what Gene Healy asks in his excellent article on terrorism. Here's another one:

The notion of "savvy and sophisticated" Islamist supervillains is "wildly off the mark," Brookings' Daniel Byman and Christine Fair write in Atlantic magazine.
Many Afghan suicide bombers "never even make it out of their training camp," thanks to the jihadi tradition of the pre-martyrdom "manly embrace": "the pressure from these group hugs triggers the explosives in suicide vests." (Theological question: Do you get fewer virgins for an own-goal?)

If I had a time machine and were a dictator, or five Supreme Court judges, I would go back to January 20, 2001 and make Gene Healy the U.S. president. The whole article is a riot.


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COMMENTS (9 to date)
Doc Merlin writes:

Thank God for idiotic enemies.

chipotle writes:

If I had a time machine and were a dictator, or five Supreme Court judges, I would go back to January 20, 2001 and make Gene Healy the U.S. president. The whole article is a riot.

True fact: I'm pretty sure Healy would not have attained the Constitution's requisite 35 years by that date.

Dan Weber writes:

With a time machine you could take care of the 35 year old requirement pretty easily.

sourcreamus writes:

One incident he misses is the jihadist who gave a presentation defending suicide terrorism to a group of army officers.

Pierre writes:

Despite agreeing with what I think is the ultimate thesis of the article it's quite obvious that even if most of the would-be terrorists are idiots they do quite well when it comes to killing large numbers of people. Now that we're actually in a "war", justified or not, it's best to take our enemies seriously. I wonder how laughable a plot to take over airliners and crash them into on-the-ground targets would have seemed in Aug. 2001?

Many of the people caught so far may be, in fact, idiots, but they aren't all idiots. Clearly they have enough ideological tools to spread radical Islamism far and wide, and the existence of stupid and ridiculous plots indicates that some of them are plotting. Often what we see as stupid is merely a creative idea that failed, it may be in fact quite stupid, but that's not always apparent before hand.

Just remember that before the iPhone Apple had the Newton, and the Lisa.

Pierre

David R. Henderson writes:

@Pierre,
I don't want to use force to stop people from spreading "radical Islam." I want to use force, if necessary, to stop people from killing innocent people. A related question: if you agree with me that the goal should be to prevent murder, and if you think that a lot of these people are plotting to murder, why do you think they have not yet gone after an incredibly tempting undefended target: namely, a kindergarten?

Pierre writes:

@David,
I didn't mean my comment to imply supporting one policy over another.

I don't want to use force to prevent people from spreading radical Islamism (not Islam, Islamism, the ideology of Islam as the ultimate political organizing force) either. I'm a firm believer in free speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and individual freedom in general.

I don't quite follow your analogy, by the way, and I'm sorry about that. "Murder" isn't really a political goal on its own. Islamism is. Again, I'll repeat it here, just because *I* happen to think that Islamism is wrong, murderous, hateful, and evil I do not think I should be allowed to use force to stop its spread for the sake of stopping its spread.

My original point was just because *some* terrorists are idiots and make bad plans and deserve mockery it doesn't mean we should take them all, or the more existential threat of radical Islamism, less seriously. That's not to say that I agree with the, frankly, ridiculous security theater our governments are currently engaged in, but yes, when we catch people engaging in plots of a ridiculous nature, we should still prosecute them as if they weren't complete morons. The evil intent was there even if the evil intellect was not.

Pierre

Pierre writes:

@David, I get your question now. I misread earlier. I will respond in more depth to it sometime later this evening.

Pierre

Pierre writes:

OK, so why haven't they (Islamists) gone after a kindergarten? I'm sure there are many reasons, but first I should point out that in Afghanistan they have, in fact, attacked schools many times. School girls, in particular, have been viciously attacked and schools have been destroyed.

I can't answer why they haven't done so outside of areas they once completely controlled, but I'm going to guess it's because, for whatever reason, they consider schools/kindergartens to be low value targets. They seem to be plotting mostly against high visibility targets, and it may not have occurred to them. Or, the people that can get access to the West (Europe, the US, etc.), aren't willing to attack schools.

Whatever the reasons I think we're in agreement about the use of force to "stop" Islamism.

Pierre

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