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thoughtsnips
Friday, March 19, 2004
 
Why catching bin Laden is not as important as it seems

If some commentators are to be believed, when bin Laden is captured, the War on Terror will be nearly won. All the rest will be clean-up operations.

The reality is far more complex. There are two kinds of leaders - ones who build or redirect a movement around them, and those who build or re-organize them into a grassroots, confederal movement. The former is much easier to handle - take down the head, and the runt just falls apart.

However, the second one is much more difficult to take down. When u take down the leadership, the rest still covers up, and continues. This was the strategy of Gandhiji during the Civil Disobedience movement. Unfortunately for the world, bin Laden is the second kind (obnoxious as the comparison with Gandhiji sounds). Note that bin Laden did not create the biggest terrorist organization in the world - he created the biggest network, and created cooperative networks with organizations that differed with him on ideology - even some Reds were involved in deals with al Qaeda. In this case, capturing bin Laden does not do much, except possibly, demoralize, and/or infuriate, the public in Muslim world.

If it turns out that ETA elements or its breakaway factions were involved in the Madrid blasts along with al Qaeda, we know we have a huge problem at hand - besides bin Laden.

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