On this day in 1996, Osama bin Laden released a fatwa titled, Declaration of Jihad Against Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques. Now I don’t much care about his complaints. Everyone has their complaints — few start wars over it. But I do think it is interesting that his fatwa didn’t have anything to do with theology. It’s very concrete: he’s pissed off at the US for occupying some land.
My perspective on all of this dates back to my childhood living through the Cold War. Then, we couldn’t trust the communists because they were atheists and whatever else you wanted to throw in there. But the bottom line was always that they weren’t rational. Now the Soviet Union is long gone and now we are oh so scared of the terrorists. Now we say that they are irrational because they are too religious — or too the wrong religious. It doesn’t matter who our enemies are, they are irrational and thus we can’t do anything but destroy them.
The case is always the opposite. I don’t think that the Islamic State is run by irrational people. If they had been irrational, they wouldn’t have succeeded as much as they have. And to think that they are running around killing people because of religious concerns is just silly. This is a resource war and the people heading it want what all people who wage war want: power.
It wouldn’t matter, except that understanding your enemy is important. You could convert every one of those vile murderers into Christians and not a damned thing would change — except that the US might be selling arms to them. People have reasons for doing things. And blaming what they do on ancient books they use as justification doesn’t tell us a thing.