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Al Queda

Al Queda has already lost

Al Queda contains the seeds of its own destruction. It requires that people choose to give up their freedom and accept bondage to its radical Islamic clerics. There is a finite number of people who will make that choice. And then Al Queda will starve of followers.

I believe that Al Queda has already lost because it cannot ultimately recruit enough followers to its regime of oppression. I believe that all that really remains to be determined in this struggle is how many people will die before Al Queda burns out.

Therefore the correct strategy is not to kill the current members. In fact hunting them down and killing them is actually detrimental to our best strategy. The correct strategy is to deny Al Queda new recruits. We do that by making Al Queda irrelevant, not martyrs. Our shortest path to victory is to suck up all of the recruits and supporters--denying them to Al Queda.

This is something that liberal free-market democracies should excel at. Empowering people over government is the primary function of liberal free-market democracies. Historically these types of governments have had a hard time keeping people out. Immigrats by the millions pour out of oppressive regimes and in to liberal free-market democracies.

Why does this current conflict seem to be ending that trend? I believe that there are two big reasons why liberal free-market democracy is less appealing to the oppressed right now, during this conflict.

1) Al Queda invited us to play the game their way, and we foolishly accepted. The strength of democracy is that the people are free. And yet by invading countries and forcing regime changes we have been tricked into exerting control. So we are asking people in those countries to accept control from America as opposed to control from some local faction. That is a foolish choice. We need to turn the tables and set these people free--actually free and not controlled by us.

2) There are 2 wars being waged. The first is the shooting war. We see that on our TV news. Guys with guns and bombs kill other guys with guns and bombs. We are fighting that war full tilt. But the second war is a public relations war for the hearts and minds of young Islamic men. And we aren't engaged in that war at all. That is the battle for recruits, and Al Queda is currently winning. But they are only winning because we are not currently paying attention to that war. There has never been a greater public relations machine invented than free market democracy. We just have to shift gears and start fighting the important battle.

At Bastogne, Patton realized that if he could deny the German Panzer tanks of their fuel, then he wouldn't have to face the Panzers in battle. Young Islamic recurits are the fuel of Al Queda. If we are to win then we have to keep those recruits out of the shooting battle. We can't kill or capture enough people to accomplish that mission. We have to engage them mentally and win them over.
Al Queda is not a democracy. It doesn't operate like a democracy. Bin Laden has a few advisors, but they must fear for their lives constantly. Not because we are gunning for them. But because if they anger Bin Laden then he will have them killed. Those advisors are not free to speak their minds. There are only a small handful of minds planning strategy for Al Queda. They may be pretty good, but they are severely hamstrung by their lack of freedom.

America is a democracy. George Bush is in power now, but not for too much longer. In a few years we will have to elect another leader. And we will tell that leader what we want done, and how we want it done. And while our political process has some very serious flaws, a lack of dissenting opinions is not one of those flaws. Every one of us will second guess George Bush, and every one of us will offer our alternate suggestions. The vast majority of those suggestions will be foolish. But a few will be great. One or two will be truly brilliant. This is the secret strength of democracy--billions of minds working on the important problems together.

Al Queda literally is facing a one-against-billions situation. Bin Laden literally has to out-think every single one of us. And all of us together only have to out-think him alone. This is a tremendous advantage for us.

We have laws and processes for peaceful regime change. We call them elections. And while they are not perfect, we rarely commit acts of mass genocide to control the outcome. These elections, and the public opinion polls that mimic them, allow our democracies to grow, change, and adapt in ways that Al Queda simply cannot. When the war starts to go really bad for Al Queda, they will start attempting to kill Bin Laden. The Germans tried it at the end of World War II because they couldn't say to Hitler, "that was a mistake". Because Al Queda is not a democracy Bin Laden will have to die to make way for a new leader to implement any significant change in strategy.
Bin Laden is the king, to use our western terminology for it. In our western history men have fought and died in service to their king. That is the nature of a kingdom, where a king rules. But we know that if you give those same men who were willing to die for their king an opportunity to become their own kings, then they will take that opportunity. That is a fundamental truth that Al Queda simply cannot change: If given a choice, each man will choose to free himself of the tyrany of servitude and be his own king.

Therefore, the short path to victory is to:
A. Immediately end the hunt for Al Queda.
B. Immediately end as much of the bloodshed as we possibly can.
C. Start marketing and selling liberal free-market democracy to young Islamics.
D. Help democracies succeed in Islamic lands.

A. Immediately end the hunt for Al Queda.
Yes, they are our enemies. Yes they ordered the deaths of American citizens. But we have to accept the fact that they got away during the few weeks when we had an opportunity to kill them without making them martyrs. Now they are almost more dangerous dead than they are alive. So we have to isolate them and wait for them to kill themselves. It is not an easy decision to make. But it is the decision that will cost the fewest additional lives.

B. Immediately end as much of the bloodshed as we possibly can.
Every bullet that we fire is another opportunity for Al Queda to recruit. So we order our troops to stand down and not fire unless fired upon; and then only if they were 100% sure that there will be no civilian casualties. After that change takes effect, then we can start the marketing campaign.

C. Start marketing and selling liberal free-market democracy to young Islamics.
We can market and sell anything. The product here is liberal free-market democracy. The target audience is young Islamic men and women. Go.

I would start with explaining our view of the war in Iraq:

You were hostages and human shields. As such, some of you were killed when we came in to set you free. If we could have reduced the innocent deaths, we would have. More of you would have died if we had not invaded. And we are working hard to help you establish a free government where you will no longer be in danger. Sadam laid a trap. He hid his armies and chose to let them fight guerilla warfare after we were in place rather than keeping us out. It was the strategy that put you in danger for the longest. And we walked right into it. And now we are walking right out of it. We are going to keep enough of our armies here to make sure that you are not invaded by Iran before your government can get its own army established. And if anyone here in Iraq gathers enough power to threaten to derail the establishment of a free government, then we will oppose them for you. We will accept nothing less than your freedom. We won't even accept you as our slaves. We have no slaves, only friends.
The good news for this marketing assignment is that liberal free-market democracy will actually improve the lifespan, living conditions, personal happiness, opportunities for improvement, and just about any other social measurement that you care to toss out. It is an easy sell. Just ask the hundreds of thousands of people who risk their lives to sneak in to the US every year. No, literally ask them. Write down what they say and send that to the yound Islamic men. Seriously. This is maybe the one marketing job in history that telling the whole truth will abosolutely work. Democracy has warts. Tell them about the warts, and help them understand that their government will be in their hands, and they can fix those warts and show us how superior they are.

Muslim women are little more than abject slaves. So convincing them that their lives will be better should be a cinch. It should be the easiest sell in history.

The bad news is that part of accepting liberal democracy is granting ancient enemies freedom of speech. That will be a hard sell.

D. Help democracies succeed in Islamic lands.
The heart of a stable free-market democracy is the middle-class. The middle class must have secure property rights, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and movement, freedom of worship, mailing addresses, the right to work, the right to form businesses, basic security from crime and violence, and a just court system to work disputes equitably and quickly. That is a tall order. But that really is all that a government needs to do. Other than that government has to just get out of the way. But we haven't done an adequate job of explaining that formula to the people who need it most.

We can't tie up their natural resources (oil) in long-term contracts with our companies and government management. We have to privatize their oil industry, give every citizen shares, let them form smaller companies to specialize in the different aspects of drilling, pumping, refining, and distributing; then let them compete. We have to let them become entrepeneurs and start owning their own companies and controlling their own destinies.

Every bit of control that we maintain will undermine their ability to succeed. So sweetheart contracts have to end. This has to be about them.