Lethal and Non-Lethal Action

Psyop Cop at OpFor:
World War Two was won through sheer industrial might and brute force. It was the conventional warrior’s wet dream and something that will probably never be seen again (and thank God for it).

The War on Terror is something entirely different. Inasmuch lethal action has a role to play (because, as they say, “some men you just can’t reach”), non-lethal action has to be the driving force in this war. Otherwise, logic demands that you must wipe out vast swaths of population to convince them they’re wrong and we’re right (essentially the driving strategy behind WW2). ...

What's on Psyop's mind? This article -
Ahmed al-Shayea renounces terrorism:
The last time Ahmed al-Shayea was in the news, he was in the hospital at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, being treated for severe burns from the truck bomb he had driven into the Iraqi capital on Christmas Day, 2004.

Today, he says, he has changed his mind about waging jihad, or holy war, and wants other young Muslims to know it. He wants them to see his disfigured face and fingerless hands, to hear how he was tricked into driving the truck on a fatal mission, to believe his contrition over having put his family through the agony of believing he was dead.

At 22, the new Ahmed Al-Shayea is the product of a concerted Saudi government effort to counter the ideology that nurtured the 9/11 hijackers and that has lured Saudis in droves to the Iraq insurgency. ...

Ahmed concluded that “There is no jihad. We are just instruments of death.”

Psyop continues:
The trouble is that, in the Arab world, you cannot communicate with another person without referencing Islam. It is as much a part of those people’s culture and mindset as oil is a part of the ground there. And, by simply refusing to play, the Army allows the extremists to dominate the field and convince the fence-sitters that Allah commands them to go and kill Americans and those who support them. Without another opinion to listen to on the matter, the issue is pretty much decided for them.

A low literacy rate contributes to this. It is not unlike the Catholic church in Europe during the Middle Ages. Liturgy was in Latin only, as was the Bible. Because the local priest was the only man who could speak or write Latin, he could pretty much tell the people whatever he wanted and, because it was the “church” speaking, it was the truth. Burn a heretic, send your kids on a crusade, give me money… you get the idea. Imams in many of the towns and villages across the Arab world have that same power.

Convincing detainees (or EPWs or whatever you want to call them) of the wrongness of their actions can be done. This story proves it. However, it has to be done through the venue of Islam and Arab culture, not the progressive, western, Christian way of doing things.

Instead of locking ‘em up and throwing away the key, which will ultimately NOT pass a Constitutional litmus test, they could be turned and then let loose to spread their new ideology.

Meanwhile, another battle on the ideological front goes down in Britain, reports the Counterterrorism Blog:
In yet another landmark legal case in the United Kingdom regarding Internet-based terrorism, a judge in London has sentenced a group of five British-born youngsters to a total of 13 years in prison for conspiring to use the web in order to accumulate vast amounts of terrorist propaganda in hopes of eventually traveling to Pakistan and joining Al-Qaida's forces there. The convicted defendants--Mohammed Irfan Raja, Usman Malik, Aitzaz Zafar, Awaab Iqbal, and Akbar Butt--were all between the ages of 17-21 and had made contact with each other through an Internet chatroom. In explaining his decision, Judge Peter Beaumont admonished the defendants: "Each of you is British. You were born here, your families lived here, you went to school and university here, you hold British passports. You live under the protection of its laws, which give you freedom of speech and religious observance, yet each of you were prepared to break its laws. Why? Because in my judgment you were intoxicated by the extremist nature of the material each one of you collected - the songs, images and the language of violent jihad - and so carried away by that material were you that each of you crossed the line. That is exactly what the people that peddle this material want to achieve and exactly what you did... To stop them and you and to protect this country and its citizens abroad, a message has to be sent."

Speaking of messages, M. Zhuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy will be on the air in Arizona tonight. Here's the release:
M. Zuhdi Jasser, AIFD Chairman will be a guest today with William Wolf on "Middle East Radio Forum" on KKNT 960AM from 12PM-1PM PST. They will discuss Islam vs Islamists. Topics will include the controversial PBS documentary (see www.freethefilm.net ) which is set to appear locally on Channel 8 KAET on August 14, 2007 at 10 PM and other national and global issues related to the topic of Islam and Islamism.

For those outside Arizona, the program can be heard online at:


Jasser sounds a cautionary note in this NRO symposium on the apparent erosion of support for suicide terrorism in the Muslim world:
This week’s Pew study results are dangerously oversimplified. Improvements in economics and moods in the developing world are in no way reason enough for the sharp decline in support for suicide bombing. The recent 45-doctor plot in London and Glasgow told us that much. For now, it is not only too early, but downright irresponsible to have a collective sigh of relief.

As we have often seen, Pew avoids the why. In their latest report, they again ignore the most central global question: Islamism and its conflict with America and the West.

What if, in fact, the general support for the tactic of terror was decreasing simply because the Islamist enemy was beginning to achieve their ideological goals in their native countries? What if the Islamists were actually sensing a general global retreat of the uniquely American ideologies of pluralism?

Terror is only a means to the ends of political Islam. If political Islam is on the rise, doesn’t it stand to reason that apologetics for terrorism may then actually decrease?

Certainly freer markets, economic growth, and education may ultimately drive Muslim populations away from autocracy and corruption. But to where will it drive them? What alternative Muslim narratives are available in this war of ideas? With the current American mainstream-media (MSM) distractions, Islamists are free to control Arab and Muslim media alongside their dictators and monarchs and spread political Islam in the Middle East and in the West.

Our private and governmental resources have yet to hardly focus on the anti-Islamists and anti-Wahhabist Muslims. The Bush administration and MSM would similarly rather avoid any critical ideological engagement of Islamist movements around the world. Our public diplomacy has actually turned into “Islamist facilitation.”

Manifestations of Islamist fascism (i.e. terrorism) may wax and wane depending upon how threatened the Islamist ideologues are with extinction. The underlying disease — political Islam— however, will never go away without a direct ideological counter-jihad and counter-Islamism from within the faith. ...

Muslim reformer Irshad Manji is doing her part. Here's an excerpt from an e-mail conversation:
"I'm an Iraqi agnostic that lives in the UAE. I was part of an online community where everybody was free to share his ideas. Until I started talking about the Israeli-Arab conflict. I said that Arabs were making a lot of massacres, as well as the other side. I was insulted and kicked out.

After that, a lot of users asked me make another free Arab forum. The forum is now in the design phase. I have a handful of thinkers, believers and non-believers. I am now looking for Arab Israelis who can give their side. I grant full freedom of speech, providing that everything is supplied with evidence. Looking forward your help, Irshad." - The Free Arab

NOTE: Irshad put The Free Arab in touch with with another Arab dissident, who wrote this to him:

"In agreement with what you said, here are only some examples of Arab/Muslim atrocities committed against our own which we are too proud to admit:
Pakistan’s General Yahya Khan slaughtering Bengali Muslims in 1971.
Iraq’s Saddam Hussein slaughtering the Kurds and Iranians using chemical weapons.
The Taliban slaughtering Shi'a Hazaras, committing war crimes comparable to the Serbs killing the Bosnians.
Jordan’s King Hussein and Pakistan’s General Zia ul Haq slaughtering Palestinians during Black September.
Syria’s President Hafez al-Assad slaughtering 40,000 Muslims and leveling the city of Hama.
The Amman bombings of November 2005 when Zarqawi even proudly claimed responsibility for the attacks.
On-going ethnic cleansing in Darfur...

Remarks. Some men you just can't reach. But there are some people who can be reached, and that's where the real action is in this war.


Mark Daily: Why I Joined the Army

Lt. Mark Daily (1983-2007):
About me:

Why I Joined: This question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see. First, the more accurate question is why I volunteered to go to Iraq. After all, I joined the Army a week after we declared war on Saddam's government with the intention of going to Iraq. Now, after years of training and preparation, I am finally here.

Much has changed in the last three years. The criminal Ba'ath regime has been replaced by an insurgency fueled by Iraq's neighbors who hope to partition Iraq for their own ends. This is coupled with the ever present transnational militant Islamist movement which has seized upon Iraq as the greatest way to kill Americans, along with anyone else they happen to be standing near. What was once a paralyzed state of fear is now the staging ground for one of the largest transformations of power and ideology the Middle East has experienced since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to Iran, Syria, and other enlightened local actors, this transformation will be plagued by interregional hatred and genocide. And I am now in the center of this. Is this why I joined? Yes.

Much has been said about America's intentions in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and seeking to establish a new state based upon political representation and individual rights. Many have framed the paradigm through which they view the conflict around one-word explanations such as "oil" or "terrorism," favoring the one which best serves their political persuasion. I did the same thing, and anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me). I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day "humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions.

Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn't confront the Ba'ath party, the Taliban or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!) or even a creeping suspicion of America's intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow "humanists" and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday.

Others would point to America's historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade. And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein.

One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are. So that is why I joined.

In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the President to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere. I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined.

In digesting this posting, please remember that America's commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration and would exist into our future children's lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago and were up until now held back by the most cruel of cages. Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck"
- Mark Daily

Who I'd like to meet:

Remarks. 2nd Lieutenant Mark Daily was killed in action in Iraq on January 15, 2007. This posting - written shortly before his death - is a little old, but I think it's worth re-posting now.

Why Liberals Should Love the Iraq War

Bryan at Hot Air:
The truth is, liberals should love the war in Iraq, since it’s being fought to a great extent along notions of soft power over hard power. It’s much less about firepower than it is about the power of basic services to bring about peace. It’s about bringing “good government” and civil liberties and human rights to war torn Baghdad, a city that has seen none of those things in decades, if ever. At least half the war’s most vital action takes place in meetings like this one in Al Salam to discuss works projects, school re-buildings and urban renewal. It’s all part of the complex mission in Iraq, a mission that morphed from the defeat of an entrenched dictatorship to one focused on building a civil society that will survive after the Americans leave. CPT Bare and the rest of the US military are trying to build a nation that Saddam Hussein broke, both by keeping the Iraqi people under his boot heel for 35 years and by leading it into needless wars to establish himself as a latter-day Nebuchadnezzar. In Saddam’s rule by fear, the basic idea of taking care of one’s own community broke down in favor of the daily need to survive by avoiding attracting the Baathist government’s attention. The Americans have to remove the fear that built up over decades, restore hope and help the Iraqis rebuild their lives and nation. Hard power may clear and hold Baghdad’s rough streets, but it will be CPT Bare’s relentless application of soft power that will win the war.

This is how the conflict in Iraq will be won, or lost. There won’t be an Iwo Jima flag raising to signal that the fight has turned in our favor for good. The American people will have to understand and accept that little things like a neighborhood council finding a contract garbage collector, and the re-opening of an elementary school, represent the end state of a community’s recovery and therefore signal battlefield victory. Our leaders in Washington need to teach us that that’s what victory in Iraq looks like. Our press needs to show us that that’s what our troops are doing in between the brief and often bloody firefights, but instead it’s busy picking up where the insurgencies leave off in delegitimizing the US mission and the Iraqi government. Peaceful, secure communities have no interest in the militias and despise the al Qaeda terrorists and insurgents. Beyond the fighting of Haifa Street, the war in Iraq will be won or lost by injecting good government in place of Saddam’s republic of fear. Which is why liberals, if they understood the ground realities of the war in Iraq, should embrace it instead of incessantly demanding retreat and defeat.

HT: Wizbang.


Now It Can Be Told

[When this post first appeared, I failed to give proper attribution for the photographs. That omission is hereby corrected. Many thanks to Katja.]

This week I'm getting estimates from movers for my upcoming move to San Francisco, which should be completed within the next two or three weeks. I'm looking forward to spending more time with my son - who's ten and a half now, and who lives with his mom (my ex) in SF - and to catching up with some very old and dear friends who live in The City. But my most immediate reason is a relationship with a woman I've known since we were in high school - and who was my sister's best friend. Here's the story.

My sister and I grew up in a liberal, intellectual family in suburban Connecticut. Stephanie was a year and a half younger than me, and extremely gifted as a writer of poetry and prose. We were very close and hung out with a group of nerdy friends.

Among Stephanie's friends was a girl named Georgianne, who was Stephanie's age and attended school in the neighboring town. They graduated in 1982. I never really got to know Georgianne but I secretly had a mad crush on her. She and Stephanie soon became best friends, and were roommates in San Francisco from 1985 until Stephanie's death in 1992. (A brief chronology of Stephanie's life may be found here.)

Last Thanksgiving weekend, Georgianne - who's now making a living as an artist in San Francisco - contacted me about an idea I'd mentioned to her a couple of years earlier, that is, getting together to do a tribute site for Stephanie. We did, and Stephanie Online is the result.

But the new site wasn't the only result. As we got to know each other, we hit it off and found we had a lot in common. In a moment of romantic abandon last April, I threw caution to the wind and penned an old-fashioned love letter. And the result of that, dear reader, is that we are now lovers.

So now you know, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story. I won't bore you with any more details, but I can tell you that this wonderful woman was worth the wait.

Here are a couple of pictures of us on my most recent visit to San Francisco. Thanks to Katja Leibenath for these wonderful photos. (The pretty one is Georgianne. I'm the one with facial hair.)



It's been fifteen years since Stephanie left us. Georgianne and I talk of her often; I like to think her spirit is still present with us now.

I am ridiculously happy.


The Children's Room - Georgianne Fastaia

Bay Area artist Georgianne Fastaia will be at the opening reception tonight for her new show at I Spy Gallery in San Francisco. (Full disclosure: the artist is a very special person in my life.) Georgianne's new show "The Children's Room" is - as the title suggests - children-themed and reflects her love of children. Here, I'll let the release tell the rest:
I SPY GALLERY presents The Children's Room, a solo exhibition of mixed media oil paintings by Georgianne Fastaia, inspired by the upcoming birth of the artists' first child. In these beautiful paintings, Georgianne has collaged wallpaper onto the canvas, to create texture and abstract the visual plane.

OPENING RECEPTION Friday July 13 6:30-9:30
I SPY GALLERY 1845 Market @ Guerrero

The Children's Room runs from July 10th-August 11th

Come to the show if you can possibly make it. Her work really is amazingly beautiful. To learn more about Georgianne and her art, pay a visit to her homepage: Georgianne Fastaia - Badfishstudios.


Mad In America (Independence Day post)

"They keep sending our jobs away."

Here's a great song from the brother of an old friend of mine.
Troubled by the rising tied of offshoring around the country musician and CSEA Local 2001 member Steve Dube put pen to paper and wrote an anthem called “Mad in America” for his band ETX.

[Dube]: The song was written as a protest basically, just because of all of the engineering and IT jobs going away.

Dube is now trying to bring that protest via song to music lovers everywhere by landing on ITunes top 100 on July 4. How? Dube is calling on everyone to log into their ITunes player on the Independence Day holiday and download the song. If enough people do it, the song should hypothetically find a place among the Avril Lavignes and Fall Out Boys of the world.

[Dube2]: We’d like to just get a grassroots effort going where the song could become like an anthem for American workers just to show Washington in an election year that we don’t want the middle class to go away and we want jobs in the United States.

I've just downloaded the song to iTunes and I can personally and enthusiastically recommend it. "Mad in America" raises important questions about globalization and the outsourcing of American jobs. And it's a great song, too.

My friend Chuck comes from a family of patriots and is also a musician, having performed with Leigh Gregory. Go have a listen to Mad in America by ETx - and you can download the whole thing for just 99 cents.

Terrorists: Stupid or desperate?

The latest round of arrests of terrorist wannabes has turned up several well-educated doctors among the suspects; Michelle Malkin is among many offering comments. As a number of folks on the anti-jihad side have said, this should, once and for all, put to rest the leftist claim that terrorists are underprivileged victims who act out of economic desperation.

But intellectual honesty demands that we also re-examine the claim, made by Michael Ledeen and many others, that
the British terrorists don't seem very smart. Or technologically ept. They failed to blow themselves up in London, despite having lots of martyrdom gear. They failed to crash through barricades at Glasgow Airport, and you'd think they might have noticed the obstacles. Beloved Allahpundit remarks, in response to stories suggesting that the failed terrorists came from al Qaeda and received guidance from Iran, that "a joint AQ-Iran operation would have run a lot more smoothly and packed a considerably bigger wallop that these attacks did."

Did you really expect high-I.Q. martyrs? Maybe clever killers, but somebody should have pointed out--long since--that it isn't very smart to blow yourself up. And for the most part, the martyrs haven't come from the best-educated sectors of the population.

Ledeen's statement may be right "for the most part", but clearly the latest batch of martyrs did come from "the best-educated sectors of the population".

So let me point out a couple of obvious facts from daily life: (1) There are different kinds of smart. (2) Smart people can do stupid things. Now, armed with this pair of truisms, I'm going to offer a couple of comments on the recent UK bomb attacks.

First, the general IQ and education level of a terrorist is immaterial. What matters from an operational standpoint is his effectiveness as a terrorist. And by all accounts, the latest British terror plot was hopelessly inept. A couple of recent articles at Stratfor (subscription) give an idea of just how many things these folks did wrong:
Because propane tanks were also used in these attempts, some media sources have suggested the devices were similar to those employed by Iraqi insurgents. While propane is sometimes used in IEDs in Iraq, the devices deployed in the United Kingdom have little in common with Iraq's powerful car bombs, which always involve the use of high explosives. The use of gasoline rather than high explosives to ignite the propane also suggests that the plotters had little experience in designing effective IEDs. [A commenter on a Strategy Page forum notes that propane tanks are equipped with a safety valve to prevent them from exploding.] ...

The bombers likely had no access to explosives or the precursors needed to make improvised explosives such as TATP, which suicide bombers used against London's transportation system July 7, 2005. As a result of the long struggle with Irish Republican Army bombers and the 2005 London bombings, British authorities tightly control the sale of precursor chemicals that can be used to manufacture improvised explosives, and require that nitrogen in fertilizers be diluted. These measures, combined with stepped-up vigilance and public consciousness regarding bulk sales of acetone and peroxide -- two ingredients in TATP -- might have frustrated the latest attackers' efforts to acquire such materials.

Plus, it's hard to blow up your intended target with a car bomb when the car gets towed. But that's another story.

What I am getting from these reports is that the bombers may or may not have been the sharpest tacks in the drawer, but they didn't know jack diddly about making bombs. That's the part that counts. And they were inept because the talent pool of the jihadis has been seriously depleted.

That's the good news; the bad news, of course, is that we can't rest on our laurels. Michael at ThreatsWatch ties it all together:
-The aspiration for large attacks continues unabated. This is knowledge that is readily shared and easily available, and while desire still appears to exceed expertise, the learning curve is flattening and recall that blind squirrels still find nuts.
-Again: Their words resonate. The latest reports indicate that at least in Glasgow the perpetrators are not downtrodden who are acting out in response to real or perceived oppression. If the professional-class is beginning to join in the fight, the learning curve for truly deadly action flattens even more.
-Surveillance is not a failsafe. Domestic intelligence and security in the UK can be tough; tougher in some ways than we can implement here. Yet indications are that the perpetrators were already under scrutiny and were able to move freely even after the first attack. Restricting the liberty of the malicious is a much lesser evil than relieving life from the innocent.
-Their motives are clear. The second bomb in London was reportedly placed to target first responders; a tactic employed by those we are fighting “over there” is moving steadily westward. Now would be a good time to start sharing battlefield lessons-learned with the defenders of our respective homelands.

I've been talking here about the jihadist enemy and about the nuts-and-bolts business of bombmaking. On another front, The Belmont Club has some wisdom on the danger of underestimating the enemy:
The political elite of the West, like the last Manchus, may be have become so blinkered by the long assumption of guaranteed superiority that they have become slower than their supposed inferiors at grasping the possibilities of the 21st century warfare. Methods like cyberattacks and a networked insurgency are pitted against limited pacifist and diplomatic responses often with great effectiveness. Putin's audacity may be vile, but it displays an imagination and a willingness to step outside the beaten track so rare among Western leaders. Just as courtiers in Beijing once thought the Chinese emperor had the right to rule 'all under heaven', today the Eurocrats may believe "International Law" composed in Brussels actually governs the fate of nations and trumps all national political decisions. They forgot what the authority to rule 'all under heaven' was actually based upon though Putin has not.

What does this mean for the future? In From the Cold weighs in on coming attractions.
The idea that Al Qaida wants to stage another 9-11-style "spectacular" is hardly new. A number of analysts who focus on the terrorist organization have long held that Al Qaida needs another, large-scale success, for a variety of reasons. As Strategy Page recently observed, the organization is hardly on a roll; the number of operations tied to the group has declined, and the U.S. troop surge in Iraq is forcing Al Qaida to devote even more resources to that battle--resources that might otherwise be allocated to attacks in western Europe and the United States.

But the bad news doesn't end there. The loss of Al-Anbar Province as a logistical and operations base was a devastating set-back for Al Qaida. Recent clearing operations in Dialya are having a similar effect, and American troops are now moving into terrorist safe-havens in the Baghdad security belts. While the battle for Iraq is far from won, Al Qaida finds itself increasingly on the defensive, in areas that were once terrorist sanctuaries. ...

Collectively, these defeats suggest a terrorist network that has--at best--achieved a bloody stalemate with the U.S. and its allies. And, that lack of progress affects other, critical aspects of terrorism, most notably fund-raising. Successful tracking and prosecution of Al Qaida's financial networks has made it more difficult for sympathizers to give money to the cause, and with the lack of apparent progress in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and elsewhere, some donors may be re-thinking their contributions.

In short, Al Qaida is in something of a squeeze, and needs to prove that it's still capable of large-scale, "spectacular" attacks on the enemy's home soil.

Wretchard points out that 'By bringing to the forces of radical Islam to battle, the US has achieved two things. First, as American critics have pointed out, it has allowed al-Qaeda to generate recruits to fight America. But secondly -- and this is the neglected half of the equation -- al-Qaeda's operations have allowed America to get recruits to fight them. The Anbar tribes are a good example. But from the Horn of Africa to France -- Sarkozy's election being another example -- al-Qaeda's activities have generated a backlash of their own.' In other words, the West may be learning the lessons of the Manchus after all - at least on some fronts. But let's get back to the business of our suicide doctors:
Al-Qaeda's attack cell in Britain consists of 3 or more medical doctors. Using doctors as suicide bombers, as one of the Glasgow attackers appeared to be, especially when they are "cleanskins" is an incredibly wasteful given their potential as sleeper agents or leaders. There cannot be so many al-Qaeda agents that they can afford to use neurologists as hit men. This suggests a certain level of eagerness to make a big publicity splash that is inconsistent with confident strength.

What emerges from all this is that it is not the terrorist pawns who are "driven by desperation", but their masters. They may have started out rich, but they're ending up poor. They may dream of domination, but they are awakening to a fight for survival. They may wish to be "top dog", but ... well, I'll let Strategy Page tell it:
Al Qaeda is having some success in the Western media, and among Moslems living in Europe. But those expatriate Moslems are handicapped by many of their brethren who are not enthusiastic about Islamic terrorism. The police get tips, make arrests, and al Qaeda losses a few more true believers. Al Qaeda is desperate for another highly visible attack in the West. Many such operations are apparently being planned, but by amateurs who can get no help from al Qaeda experts. Most of al Qaedas traveling experts are dead or in prison. Inspiring amateurs to attempt poorly planned attacks, like the recent ones in Britain, only discourage recruits. That's because another bunch of wannabes get sent away for long prison terms. This is a fate worse than death for Islamic terrorists. There are no 72 virgins in Western prisons, unless you consider the fact that you may be turned into one.