The Management of Savagery

Mudville Gazette has a must-read post on the al Qaeda video depicting the bodies of the two American soldiers who were reportedly abducted in Iraq. It begins:

When confronted with savagery one can demonstrate courage or flee. The second option is available for a limited time only. Eventually there will be nowhere to run.

Greyhawk’s post needs to be read in its entirety; it makes several distinct and important points. To abstract, very briefly:

1) This video is consistent with the strategy laid out in an important al Qaeda manifesto titled The Management of Savagery:

– Brutal killings must be explained in a manner that justifies the atrocity.

– Public opinion must be turned against the enemy soldiers.

– Al Qaeda should be seen as the solution to the chaos/savagery – even as they foment more such atrocities (hence the title).

These efforts are to be directed at the local Muslim population in any conflict. In Iraq, with a majority non-Sunni population, they will achieve limited success. But the even more powerful response is desired from the population of the enemy state – erosion of support for the effort on the home front.

2) The video’s claim that the murder of the two Americans was in retaliation for the alleged rape and murder of an Iraqi girl, and the murder of several family members, is in all probability false. al Qaeda learned of this incident after the fact, in all likelihood, from American media, as a result of the military’s own investigation.

3) Happily, it appears most likely from the video that the two Americans, Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker, were not abducted at all, but rather were killed in the initial attack, along with the third soldier whose body was left in the vehicle. In an email to us, Greyhawk writes:

This video offers evidence (if you know where to look) that those soldiers weren’t “abducted”, but were more likely killed in the original attack. *** Obviously I don’t offer this as conclusive proof, but I am confident this was the case.


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