The Saudi Wahhabis are the real foe

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The Saudi Wahhabis are the real foe
We must take our fight to the preachers and financiers of terror.
By NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB 11/16/15, 6:01 PM CET Updated 11/17/15, 12:18 PM CET
Since 2001 our policy for fighting Islamic terrorists has been, to put it politely, missing the elephant in the room, sort of like treating symptoms and completely missing the disease.

Policymakers and slow-thinking bureaucrats stupidly let terrorism grow by ignoring the roots. So we lost a generation: Someone who went to grammar school in Saudi Arabia (our “ally”) after September 11 is now an adult, indoctrinated into believing and supporting Salafi violence, hence encouraged to finance it — while we got distracted by the use of complicated weapons and machinery.
Even worse, the Wahhabis have accelerated their brainwashing of East and West Asians with their madrassas, thanks to high oil revenues.

* * *

So instead of invading Iraq, blowing up Jihadi John and individual terrorists, thus causing a multiplication of these agents, it would have been be easier to focus on the source of all problems: the Wahhabi/Salafi education and the promotion of intolerance by which a Shiite or a Yazidi or a Christian are deviant people.

If we absolutely need to put people in Guantanamo, it would be far more effective to ship the Salafi preachers and Wahhabi clerics over there, not just the people swayed by their teaching. And if we need to correct the profound Saudi problem, we need to start by sending to them our preachers, educating them into tolerance, explaining the very concept of the separation of church and state. Or, better even, encourage Muslim preachers who promote religious tolerance (“laka dinak wa li dini“) — instead of seeing them ostracized.

And if you find violence unavoidable, it should be directed at the Saudi and Qatari funders of violence, as well as the Salafi theorists, rather than the young performers.

P.S. Beware the usual ISIL crypto-sympathizer who sort of “explains” (that is, justifies) what happened (the intentional targeting of civilians) with some other Western event that can hark all the way to the Crusades… Otherwise it is presented as “biased.” You can spot such people from a mile away. For them, you cannot condemn ISIL without at the same time trying to be “balanced.” Who are they fooling? This is the technique of bundling together problems that should be treated independently, and you need to learn to deal with such people by forcing them to discuss the problem of ISIL on its own.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is the author, among other books, of “The Black Swan,” and a founder of the Real World Risk Institute.


Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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