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Once a terrorist group known only for attacking embassies and warships, al Qa'ida is today a full-fledged movement and ideology in its own right. Instead of attacking strong points from a central command center, its many arms and branches now operate independently, hitting weak points according to recipes that produce big bangs for the buck. Along with that al Qa'ida has changed strategy--hitting us economically. Most importantly, al Qa'ida is a sophisticated organization that learns from its mistakes. This is in marked contrast with the US government, comprised of both Republicans and Democrats who blindly stumble along in the wrong war against the wrong enemy without any defined goals other than a vacuous word, "victory."

Some points to remember--al Qa'ida is:

  • Dedicated to expelling the infidel from the lands of Islam, and expanding its domain in the name of Allah. Al Qa'ida does not hate our values nearly as much as they hate our presence in the Middle East.
  • A fundamentalist but flexible organization.
  • A model and recipe for terrorism.
  • A movement with religious zeal.
  • A movement in tune with how to influence allies and terrorize enemies.
  • No longer centralized with just one leader. That went out when it became a movement after 9/11.
  • Universal with ability to reach any continent.
  • For now concentrating on Europe.
  • A fundamentalist movement that is bound to fail eventually as history marches on. That won't happen any time soon, however. And the US will not be the ultimate victor. Any such victory will belong to the moderates among us who band together, disregard ethnicity, religion or national origin to find ways to prevent development of extremist personality or, failing that, to channel expressions of extremism into peaceful activities.

If al Qa'ida has an Achilles heel, and it does, it lies in its peaceful "regiments," the believers in Islam as a peaceful religion. Exactly the same can be said of Judaism and Christianity. This construct may be too futuristic to be popular, yet the great preponderance of evidence on this site and others points toward the same fundamental conflict:

This age of terror most fundamentally reflects the ages-old expressions of charismatic individuals who hold extreme views they wish to impose on others. The real battles are less about religion, governance, or resources than they are about extremists fighting one another for dominance in this world.

Our times have been characterized as a war to capture hearts and minds. It is all of that, but it must be more if it is on track, which it is not, at least not yet. That more is not just among societies; it is also within societies--each and every one. Extremists co-opt religions, businesses, governments, and movements toward their own ends without consultation with their constituents. Violence becomes the means to all ends when the co-opters are without conscience. So the ultimate war is how to liberate all of humanity from the boots of extremists.

Millions of individuals already understand this at least intuitively. It remains for them to coalesce and become a force for social change toward guarding against the extremist personality. Some societies do this better than others. Enamored by its power, riches and dreams of dominance the US badly lags the rest of the world in enlightened leadership.

See Enlightened Governance for a glimpse of this dynamic.


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