Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Defeating the Hydra

A most thought-provoking article from Raymond Ibrahim, over at VDH's Private Papers. The author sounds a note of near-despair over the likelihood that al-Zarqawi's death may have little effect in the long run upon the War on Terror:
Both leaders, Banna and Qutb, were eventually targeted and killed by Egypt’s secular the world’s surprise, the partially-banned constantly-harassed Brotherhood managed to win 88 out of 454 seats in Egypt’s 2005 parliamentary elections...

Yassin was being wheeled out of a mosque after morning prayers, an Israeli helicopter launched two hellfire missiles that hit and killed him...Hamas, like the Brotherhood before them and also to international consternation, went on to win in a landslide...

[N]early 20 years after the death of [Khomeini] not much has changed in Iran. Sharia law still governs; Sharia endorsed enmity towards the West still thrives. In fact, the only real difference is that the Islamic theocracy’s aspiration for nuclear armaments is nearly realized.

The author then invokes this intriguing analogy:
The West’s plight vis-à-vis radical Islam is therefore akin to Hercules’ epic encounter with the multi-headed Hydra-monster. Every time the mythical strongman lopped off one of the monster’s heads, two new ones grew in its place. To slay the beast once and for all, Hercules learned to cauterize the stumps with fire, thereby preventing any more heads from sprouting out.

In the modern context, I suppose the equivalent of "cauterization" would be the capture and conversion of terrorists to the West's cause. That wouldn't mean necessarily converting them to Christianity (or Judaism, or Buddism, etc.)

However, that would mean making them choose to convert to at least a more moderate version of Islam that permits both Muslims and non-Muslims to live, thrive, and seek justice against Muslim oppressors, and to spill the beans on their former comrades. Thus "new heads" would be prevented or discouraged from growing.

I now recall that this method has been used effectively by Muslim governments throughout the middle east for centuries to de-fang or eliminate religious extremism: captured leaders are often given the choice of converting (sometimes receiving a pension) or death. The parallel is perhaps closer to what we did to the Japanese at the end of WWII, forcing them to alter their religion by renouncing the Emperor-as-a-god as The New Sisyphus has described.

Question is, in a "modern" world that worships "multi-culturalism", that would surely see what we did to the post-WWII Japanese as a gross violation of human rights, how could we ever pull this off?

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