Know your enmity

Thomas Joscelyn makes the following observation about Al Qaeda’s “grand strategy” in his article “Know Your Enemy” at The Weekly Standard:

Meanwhile, al Qaeda strives on towards its real goal. It is a difficult course, and success is far from certain. But history tells us that a lot of carnage can be wrought in pursuit of violent fantasies.

To catch the image of Al Qaeda’s self-appointed enemies in chief, in the form of another network of politico-military ideologues, we need only to put up a verbal mirror1:

Meanwhile, the Neoconservatives strive on toward their real goal. It is a difficult course, and success is far from certain. But history tells us that a lot of carnage can be wrought in pursuit of violent fantasies.

To be incapable of performing this exercise, not to expect it or not to take it into account, is perhaps in the polemicist’s job description. Self-reflective writers, writers with ironic faculties in good working order, would likely not have written the original sentences in the first place, and it seems safe to presume that only a lack of ironic sense could allow an author or editor of an essay like Joscelyn’s to choose or accept “Know Your Enemy” as its title.

As for the near enemy, here’s Joscelyn a bit earlier in the piece:

It would be naïve to assume that the Obama administration’s definition of al Qaeda is not directly tied to its preferred policies.

You, dear reader, ought to be able to perform the necessary substitutions without my help. The result may not tell us anything about the substance of Joscelyn’s argument on the state of Al Qaeda and the nature of whatever threat it poses to America or American interests, but its import will be taken by many as all we really need to know.


  1. That we construct our idea of ourselves in the ideational construction of the other, and construct the other in constructing ourselves, defines history as a meaningful discourse rather than as a mere assemblage of random events, as entirely the construction and re-construction of self and other in time and space. []

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5 comments on “Know your enmity

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  1. In the same way, that the aspirations of the Allies and the Axis are not the same, in any way shape or form,
    the Salafis have been less successful, in Tunisia, more successful on balance in Libya,

  2. One could see Al Queda as divided along the axis, represented by Azzam, and Bin Laden, the former was more internationalist, the Trotsky of the movement, the latter is more in the Stalin phase. Zawahiri represents the former current,

  3. The thing that might have dampened the irony substitution response would have been if TJ had identified where “the central front” should be. This would have fleshed out his fantasy for carnage in a way that some one could engage in a substantive way.

    Another irony is TJ criticizes as “minimalist” the “everywhere war” of ” drone strikes, Special Forces raids, and other covert activities” that the left criticizes for being excessive.

    • HNY, bob – good to see you back from wherever you were – I’ve been hoping for a weather report from the central front on the war on the polar vortex.

      It seems that the central front for TJ will end up being wherever the enemy decides it is, until then everywhere/nowhere.

      • Gosh, I didn’t even know I was gone…

        So HNY to you and Miggs and Fuster and the greater zombiverse. Coincidently, Karen and I just watched the Christmas episode of “Haven” (harmless entertainment) on Netflix before logging on just now.

        Polar vortex greatly overrated at least in this little corner of the wilds of Upstate NY. The thing is the Great Lakes have pretty much stopped freezing over in winter for quite a lot of years now, so sure it gets really cold, but it was 55 here today. The net effect is warmer than when I was growing up but actually more snow because the lake effect off the Great Lakes never stops.

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