Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Islamic Terrorism Can't Win

I think it’s always good to step back and take some perspective. So let’s talk about Islamic terrorism, and why they can’t succeed.

The goal of terrorists is to kill enough people to scare an indigenous population into agreeing to some political change – or a religious change in this instance. But terrorists never succeed. Seriously, consider the history of Irish terrorism, groups like the KKK and the Weather Underground and other 60’s radicals, and so on. They were all able to inflict death and destruction and a good deal of terror, yet, none of them achieved anything. Why?

Well, the reason is that terrorists are horrible at getting people to internalize the fear they cause. They can scare the hell out of people directly affected, but they are much more likely to generate outrage or anger in the rest of the population. To understand this, let’s think in terms of a formula:
Before someone will give in to the threat of terror, the terrorist must induce enough fear (=)to overcome a person’s natural instinct to resist change plus(+) their egotistical need to fight back rather than agreeing to something being imposed on them.
Do you know how hard it is to overcome our natural resistance to change? Have you seen how many people want to stop drinking, stop overeating, or start working out and yet can’t? None of those people can change their own behaviors. Even when their doctors tell them to stop or they will die or worse... even after their own bodies warn them with heart attacks and COPD, they still can’t change. So what chance does a terrorist have trying to impose an unwanted change when most people can't even change themselves when they want to?

And what about the first part of the equation? How do you get people to feel the fear? This is really a problem because everyone knows they won’t be victims of terrorism. Yes, we feel “horror” at the things terrorists do to other people and some of us feel insecure that we might be caught in something like this, but who really thinks they will be killed or maimed in a terrorist attack? It's always going to be the other guy. And there is good reason to believe this. First, it's a mental thing... it's a way we cope with fear. This is why you feel more comfortable with another person when you're in a dangerous situation, because our mind assumes they'll get it before we do.

More to the point, the odds tell us we will never be victims. In March, Islamic terrorists set off a bomb that killed 34 people in Belgium. In November, they killed 130 in Paris. Both events outraged the world and made Islamic terrorists proud. But let’s get real. We’re talking about 134 people over five months... 27 a month. Between Europe and the United States, there are about a billion people. That works out to 1 person in every 37 million. That’s the equivalent of killing person from New York City ever other day. That’s hardly menacing, and people understand this instinctively. So unless terrorists can get the death rate high enough that people actually fear for their own lives, they will keep making headlines but will never be more than a nuisance.

How high do they need to get it?

Well, during World War II, over a 267 day period, the Luftwaffe destroyed a million homes in London and killed an estimated 40,000 people (0.4% of the population). Rather than giving up, this seemed to make the people of London more resolute. Later in the war, German bombing of Russian cities killed an estimated 500,000 people. American and British bombing killed an estimated 350,000 German civilians (0.4% of the population). And yet, none of these populations even considered giving up. In fact, after the war, the Allies discovered that this only made the Germans support the war more strongly. To get similar numbers, Islamic terrorists need to start killing millions of Americans today, and even then remember that the Germans, the Russians and the Brits didn’t give up.

So how many do they need to kill to win what they want? Consider this. On November 18, 1956, at a speech at the Polish embassy, brainless thug Nikita Khrushchev famously told the West, “We will bury you!” He had the nuclear weapons to make good on this threat too. Indeed, he could have wiped out every city in the West and killed around 90% of the population... and yet, the West never gave him anything.

Do you see the problem here?

It gets worse too, because Islamic terrorists want changes that are far more radical than those the Nazis or Communists or Americans wanted. Londoners probably wouldn’t have noticed much change if the Nazis had won. Heck, if the Germans had surrendered, they would have had peace and prosperity and protection from the Soviets... yet, they resisted. Now think about what the Islamists are asking. They want a change in people’s faith to a religion that we view as primitive and murderous. They expect women to accept enslavement, gays to accept stoning, our leisure culture to give up beer, cursing, porn, etc. In short, they want to change our entire way of life down to minute detail. And you think sticking to a diet is hard? Good luck, suckers.

This is why it's impossible for them to succeed.



Anthony said...

I agree with your broad point that the non-Islamic world isn't going to submit to Islamic terrorists, but I think you are wildly understating the effectiveness of terrorism.

Fear is frequently irrational. People fear plane crashes more than car accidents and sharks more than deer, though cars and deer kill a lot more people than planes and sharks.

Also, I think it doesn't make sense to characterize the KKK as a failure. They don't mean much now, but the KKK was a big player in the Redemption, which disenfranchised blacks for roughly 80 years.


When Reconstruction died, so did all hope for national enforcement of adherence to the constitutional amendments that the U.S. Congress had passed in the wake of the Civil War. As the last Federal troops left the ex-Confederacy, two old foes of American politics reappeared at the heart of the Southern polity – the twin, inflammatory issues of state rights and race. It was precisely on the ground of these two issues that the Civil War had broken out, and in 1877, sixteen years after the secession crisis, the South reaffirmed control over them.

"The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery", wrote W. E. B. Du Bois. The black community in the South was brought back under the yoke of the Southern Democrats, who had been politically undermined during Reconstruction. Whites in the South were committed to reestablish its own sociopolitical structure with the goal of a new social order enforcing racial subordination and labor control. While the Republicans succeeded in maintaining some power in part of the Upper South, such as Tennessee, in the Deep South there was a return to "home rule".[7]

In the aftermath of the Compromise of 1877, Southern Democrats held the South's black community under increasingly tight control. Politically, blacks were gradually evicted from public office, as the few that remained saw the sway they held over local politics considerably decreased. Socially, the situation was worse, as the Southern Democrats tightened their grip on the labor force. Vagrancy and "anti-enticement" laws were reinstituted. It became illegal to be jobless, or to leave a job before the required contract expired. Economically, the blacks were stripped of independence, as new laws gave white planters the control over credit lines and property. Effectively, the black community was placed under a three-fold subjugation that was reminiscent of slavery.[8]

In broader terms, its worth keeping in mind that most countries which fought for independence sometimes resorted to what would be termed terrorist tactics in modern parlance (think Ireland, South Africa, Israel and Bangladesh).

Its worth bearing in mind that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. I always laugh when I watch Rambo 3 because it was a very mainstream film which showed the heroic Islamic resistance (the guys who would go on to become the Taliban and Al Queda) aiding Rambo in taking on the Soviet empire.

All that being said, I agree that Islamic terrorists are not a military or political force, but I do think that they are an existential threat because they are crazy enough to end humanity.

tryanmax said...

I think Islamic terror attacks in the West are primarily for propaganda purposes back home. "See what we can get away with and they do nothing to us!"

BevfromNYC said...

“We will bury you!” - Of course that was Khrushchev's "red line" that everyone knew he would never cross - mutually assured destruction.

I agree with you somewhat. However it really isn't the "terrorism" that is going to cause the fall of western civilization directly. It's the massive migration of a population unwilling to assimilate as a result of the terrorism that wll/is changing the face of Western culture. Just like in every other place where this has happen as the indigenous peoples on every continent can attest.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I disagree. First, on fear being irrational, that is true, BUT it still doesn't stop people. Most everyone is still willing to fly. Even after terrorist attacks, the airlines don't see a drop in business.

On the KKK, I think it's important to remember that the KKK was just another "tool" for lack of a better word in how the South as a whole treated blacks from the 1860's until the 1940's. It was after that, that attitudes began to change. At that point, the KKK and other white supremacists did their best to stop society from changing, but they failed miserably in that. I think the lesson is that terrorists cannot change society. In fact, even when they were an arm of white society, they still didn't stop blacks from building their own society and fighting for equal rights.

Ultimately, the only "terrorists" that have had success historically have been those who either were an arm of the people in power already or those who were an advance guard for an invading Army. But independent terrorists have never been able to change society's mind.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think you are right. It looks to me like their goal is to seize power in the Middle East, and to do that, they need to convince the masses (who hate the existing governments) that they are the strongest successors. By blowing things up in the West, they claim a worldwide reach and they impress the locals, so to speak.

At the same time, I think they are trying to convince the West to leave the Middle East so that we don't support the governments they are trying to overthrow.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I don't think people were too sure he wouldn't cross that line. There were a lot of analysts at the time who felt that the Russians were willing to start a nuclear war if they felt that enough Russians would survive to "win" the war.

The immigration issue is a different one, i.e. I don't think the Islamists are using that as a strategy. They don't view those people favorably either. To them, you are either "with us or against us" -- a Jihadist or an infidel.

Also, in terms of them changing America or Europe, I wouldn't bet on it. For one thing, their numbers remain tiny (5-6%). They also remain in isolated clumps, and the rest of society is not adopting their beliefs. And their children become increasingly Americanized (or Europeanized) with each passing generation.

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