discomfort (2006-33)

Keeping Score

Terrorism and the art of dart-throwing

by Steve Dupree

A good friend of mine has been trying to get me interested in joining in with a small group of dart players during our regular Wednesday night gatherings at the brewpub. I’ve played darts before and I have my own darts, so it isn’t such a crazy request. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about that activity as a metaphor for some of the craziness in the world.

My buddy wants me to join him in repeatedly throwing sharp-pointed, weighted objects into an object that has done nothing (that I know of) to deserve such punishment. There is no real animosity towards the dartboard, although sometimes the frustration felt at missing one’s target presents itself as animosity towards the target. No, the only thing that the dartboard has done is look like what we believe a target should look like, and , by virtue of the many delineations and numbers, it provides a handy way of keeping score.

Sunni Muslims really don’t like or respect Shia Muslims, and vice versa. By many accounts, they hate each other.

Each believes itself to be the one true Islam and the other to be infidels and unworthy of continued existence. Sunni Muslims count among their number the al Qaeda group that carried out the criminal attacks of IX/XI and who quite likely were behind the developing plot to smuggle liquid explosives onboard aircraft in component form and assemble them and detonate them to cause the destruction of all those onboard and possibly many on the ground. Shia Muslims proudly claim the Lebanese political group Hezbollah, whose radical militant wing is currently giving the Israeli army/nation all they want, as one of their number.

In the aftermath of IX/XI, in the subsequent insurgency in Iraq, and really, stretching all the way back to the expulsion of the Soviets from Afghanistan, the Sunnis in general and al Qaeda specifically were able to bask in the glory of being the ones the world feared and/or respected. They were the ones that other Muslims saw as defending the true faith. The Shia, through Hezbollah, lay claim to the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 241 marines, as well as the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut earlier that year and assorted other bombings, kidnappings, and a variety of resistance operations. Until very recently, Hezbollah appeared to be concentrating on increasing its political and economic power. Hezbollah’s recent military interaction with the Israelis has garnered worldwide publicity and even knocked the Iraq insurgency off the tops of many, if not most, news reports. Therein lies the problem.

The Sunnis are really, seriously, badly upset over being knocked out of the news by pretenders to the throne. They are positively apoplectic at the idea of some of their fellow Sunnis casting an admiring eye on the Shia for their taking of the fight to their sworn co-enemy, Israel. They doubtless see themselves as having no choice. They have to do something drastic to regain their prominence as the true bearers of the flag of Islam. That, unfortunately, will require something that will probably be painful and ugly to the western world, most likely the United States.

The UK/US intel agencies were helped in their effort to shut down the most recent probable al Qaeda operation by the lack of creativity on the part of al Qaeda. If, for the next plan, they go with a very small central planning group and then disseminate relevant parts to groups or individuals that are not aware of each other, and/or if they can ever get past their fascination with the airplane and start thinking outside the thin aluminium skin, there is likely to be large trouble. 

It is mostly about the hatred the Sunni and Shia feel for each other and the need for them to one-up each other. We are going to have to start thinking about this issue in vastly different ways if anything effective is to be done. We need to envision ourselves as a dartboard, as a means of keeping score. That would represent a large change in our psychological understanding of those who would perpetrate large crimes upon us.

Unfortunately, I doubt Bush administration insiders are capable of admitting that they have not been on the right path so far. That arrogance will likely cost the lives of thousands of Americans in the not too distant future.

Personally, I think this calls for a “clean sheet” solution. I suspect that can only happen if first we get rid of the incompetence and hubris that continues to breed in D.C. This is not over. Rest assured that whichever group is behind on points, will be aiming for us. Boy, being a dartboard really sucks, huh?