The War on Terror in Retrospect
Anatomy of an Overreaction
The Strategy of Terrorism
License to Kill: Usama bin Ladin's Declaration of Jihad
It Could Happen Here: Facing the New Terrorism
The Taliban: Exporting Extremism
The Sentry's Solitude
Somebody Else's Civil War
America the Vulnerable
The Reluctant Imperialist: Terrorism, Failed States, and the Case for American Empire
America's Imperial Ambition
The Law of War in the War on Terror
Combatants or Criminals? How Washington Should Handle Terrorists
Grading the War on Terrorism
Is There Still a Terrorist Threat?: The Myth of the Omnipresent Enemy
Al Qaeda Strikes Back
Can the War on Terror Be Won?
How to Fight the Right War
Terror and the Law
The Limits of Judicial Reasoning in the Post-9/11 World
How al Qaeda Works
What the Organization's Subsidiaries Say About Its Strength
Recalibrating Homeland Security
Mobilizing American Society to Prepare for Disaster
Al Qaeda Without Bin Laden
How Terrorists Cope With their Leader's Death
Al Qaeda's Challenge
The Jihadists' War With Islamist Democrats
Call it a city on four legs
heading for murder. ...
New York is a woman
holding, according to history,
a rag called liberty with one hand
and strangling the earth with the other.
-Adonis [Ali Ahmed Said],
"The Funeral of New York," 1971
In the weeks after the attacks of September 11, Americans repeatedly asked, "Why do they hate us?" To understand what happened, however, another question may be even more pertinent: "Why do they want to provoke us?"
David Fromkin suggested the answer in Foreign Affairs back in 1975. "Terrorism," he noted, "is violence used in order to create fear; but it is aimed at creating fear in order that the fear, in turn, will lead somebody else -- not the terrorist -- to embark on some quite different program of action that will accomplish whatever it is that the terrorist really desires." When a terrorist kills, the goal is not murder itself but something else -- for example, a police crackdown that will create a rift between government and society that the terrorist can then exploit for revolutionary purposes. Osama bin Laden sought -- and has received -- an international military crackdown, one he wants to exploit for his particular brand of revolution.
Bin Laden produced a piece of high political theater he hoped would reach the audience that concerned him the most: the umma, or universal Islamic community. The script was obvious: America, cast as the villain, was supposed to use its military might like a cartoon character trying to kill a fly with a shotgun. The media would see to it that any use of force against the civilian population of Afghanistan was broadcast around the world, and the umma would find it shocking how Americans nonchalantly caused Muslims to suffer and die. The ensuing outrage would open a chasm between state and society in the Middle East, and the governments allied with the West -- many of which are repressive, corrupt, and illegitimate -- would find themselves adrift. It
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