Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gary Sick assesses Osama Bin Laden's legacy

In the wake of Bin Laden's death, Gary Sick asks Does Islamism Have a Future? Gary's Choices 05/03/2011:

Osama bin Laden was important in creating the image of a global campaign that was immensely attractive to the disaffected and the fanatic. As such, his loss will no doubt be felt. But his theology and his politics had already been discredited to anyone who was willing to devote even a few minutes of objective thought to the subject. He and his campaign were increasingly denounced from Muslim pulpits, by Islamic scholars and even by average citizens who saw the beheadings, the suicide bombings of innocents, and the incitement to religious civil war as an execration.

Al Qaeda's political "solution" was the proposed return to the seventh century utopia of a holy caliphate that, if it ever existed at all, collapsed into civil war within half a dozen years. Like most utopias, this mythical caliphate was a figment of Osama bin Laden’s imagination and provided no solution to the genuine problems of his tortured followers.

With no plausible political goal to offer, and only appalling violence as a means to that end, Osama bin Laden understandably made no real headway. He could sow pain and chaos, but he was never able to change a government or to impose his illusory vision on any group outside his own immediate followers. [my emphasis]
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