Major resistance in Middle East

Major resistance in Middle East

Yesterday a car bomb levelled the U.N. building in Baghdad killing 18 while a suicide bomber on a Jerusalem bus killed 20. Within the past few days, the Iraq to Turkey oil pipeline has been blown up twice, a car bomb took out the Baghdad water system, and there was a major attack on a prison.

Clearly, this is huge escalation. The message in Iraq is clear. No one is safe. Especially outsiders. Our government may try to show this is all due to bin Laden or someone sitting atop a pyramidal hierarchy issuing orders.

This is almost certainly not the case, as the organizations involved are networks not hierarchies. Check The Rand Corporation book, Networks and Netwars, for a detailed explanation of precisely how networked organizations work. They specifically use al Qaeda as an example.

Some quotes from the recent Rand Corporation symposium, Diagnosing Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda is an ideology more than army; a transnational movement and umbrella-like organization, not a monolithic entity. Al Qaeda’s strength has always been its ability to function on multiple operational levels.

Because al Qaeda is neither monolithic nor leaves a single, identifiable “footprint,” nor has one set modus operandi, the movement itself is all the more formidable and resilient.

Al Qaeda is worldview, not an organization. Before 9/11, some parts of the US intelligence community described al Qaeda as a hierarchical, cellular terrorist group with bin Laden at the center, barking out orders to his “troops” in the field and plotting attacks around the world. This mistaken perception was a hangover from Cold-War era thinking about terrorism.

There is no question that this ideology appeals only to a  fringe — but that  fringe may have millions of members. Our failure to confront this ideology, and to work with those in the Muslim world who are promoting alternatives, is the biggest failure of our global campaign against terrorism.

Although it might be comforting to believe that the terrorists who make up bin Laden’s network are drooling, robotic psychopaths, I suspect that they’re in fact more normal than we’d care to admit.

The resistance we’re seeing now in the Middle East is from networks. probably many of them. Maybe working in concert, maybe not. To say that someone must be in charge misses the point completely.