2083 — Breivik and the Qur’an, deception and warfare

[ by Charles Cameron — deception and warfare, analysis of 2083 manifesto ]

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The parallelism of interest here is between two versions of “sometimes you must do what you dislike”.

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In case anyone might object that Breivik is “only” talking about lying while the Qur’an is speaks of warfare, however, a reminder might be in order that Breivik was in fact waging a crusade and taking numerous lives in accordance with his own rhetoric, and also that one of the aspects of Islam that he most emphasizes is that it permits lying — see (eg) his comments on Taqiyya, section 1.5, p. 78, and his repeated use of the hadith from Bukhari (vol 4, book 52, # 269):

Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: The Prophet said, “War is deceit.”

12 comments on this post.
  1. Matt:

    lol. Sun Tzu would approve…..

  2. Curtis Gale Weeks:

    I am sometimes fascinated by the frequent omission of the idea of skepticism from many interpretations of the Quran.  "Ye know not" appears often enough, in one formulation or another.  Hence, the idea of submission.  True that the gap might often be filled by commandments—although you do not know much, you need not know but only do as commanded.  That is unfortunate.  When I read the book, I am struck by the bases for skepticism within the teachings in Quran.

  3. Joseph Fouche:

    If war breaks out but only one side shows up, is it still a war?

  4. Charles Cameron:

    If it is, it’s asymmetric — even if the side that shows up is phalanxed & overwhelming.

  5. seydlitz89:

    Sorry gentlemen,

    but I don’t see this as war, rather the actions of a madman, a criminal, a mass murderer of children, acting alone in his own little world.  That he publishes some written work to provide some mythical background delusion doesn’t give him any legitimacy . . . Instead of his own "approved" tombstone, I would put a massive plastic clown’s head over his grave with the words "SUCKER" imprinted on its lips . . . how’s that for a downer?

    You guys need to give up on 5Gw and get back on the farm imo .  .  . this isn’t going to take you any place where you would want to go, and remember, words and ideas do have their consequences . . .

    From a Clausewitzian perspective ABB is a hopeless yet murderous stooge, and his writings are the soap sold to potential political stooges and other useful idiots in this the age of TV, alienation, "reality" without context, and endless sensuous banalities.  The character of the appeal to useful idiots would reflect the political relations/conditions of the time . . . ABB’s action is not war, but indicates a potential weapon, the name of which is nihilistic terror.

  6. J.ScottShipman:

    Seydlitz, I wish there were a "like" button…this guy is a symptom of what Joseph Fouche alluded to in another post—the internet is an autodidact’s (and I’m one of them—with no criminal intent) wet dream, and obviously he got a full drink. That said, I do believe his manifesto (not his methods) will find resonance among Europeans who see their culture being systemically peeled away by elite politicians bound to political correctness. He’s everything Seydlitz says, but now he has a global audience—and a "book," as it were. Let us hope others are too busy being consumers to take notice…

  7. Joseph Fouche:

    From Clausewitzian perspective, Breivik’s actions are the conjunction of the three poles of the Trinity, two of which have nothing to with Breivik’s rationality. If CvC can’t be applied to madmen, criminals, mass murderers of children, or men trapped in their own little world, then Van Creveld’s contention that the actions of madmen can’t be considered political (in noted Clausewitzian Christopher Bassford’s use of the word) is correct. War would be "nontrinitarian".
    The words and ideas of murderous stooges have consequences as well as their actions. CvC can shine as much light on them as he can on any other field of human conflict.  
    Can Breivik’s actions can be considered war? Can an individual wage war? By his own sinister lights, Breivik considered himself at war, the Pied Piper of a host of other Breiviks born and unborn, even if that host only existed in his fevered imagination. 
    Can an individual have a strategy? Or can an individual only have a strategem? Breivik had a plan that had a tactical expression and a political effect (as here we comment on the doings of an otherwise obscure Norwegian). Does the jumbled mass of tissues that connect his evil ends with his evil means rise to the level of strategy?
    In her recent book The Evolution of Strategy, noted CvC scholar Beatrice Heuser examines the modern history of the word strategy since Guibert revived it in the mid-eighteenth century. Even the core understanding of the word, the art of connecting political ends with (operational or tactical) military means, has shifted since CvC as the scale and ambitions of campaigns increased. Heuser herself chooses to refer to strategy as understood by Clausewitzians (connecting political ends with military means) with a capital S to differentiate from other current uses. 
    In that light, was Breivik a Strategist or a strategist? Where do we put the raid on Harpers Ferry or the Beer Hall Putsch, two events that were equally ridiculous and equally consequential? What’s the cutoff point between crime and war? What’s the cutoff point between Strategy and strategy? John Brown’s 21? Herr Hitler’s 100? Or Breivik’s one?

  8. Two Comments on a Wingnut « The Committee of Public Safety:

    […] 2083 — Breivik and the Qur’an, deception and warfare From Clausewitzian perspective, Breivik’s actions are the conjunction of the three poles of the Trinity, two of which have nothing to with Breivik’s rationality. If CvC can’t be applied to madmen, criminals, mass murderers of children, or men trapped in their own little world, then Van Creveld’s contention that the actions of madmen can’t be considered political (in noted Clausewitzian Christopher Bassford’s use of the word) is correct. War would be “nontrinitarian“. […]

  9. seydlitz89:

    Joseph-

    You’re mixing apples and oranges.  Clausewitzian strategic theory pertains to collectives, all concepts pertain to collectives – victory, defeat, strategy, tactics . . . and a very particular collective at that – political communities.  "War" does not consist of one individual fighting against a political community, that is criminality, and always has been.  This is the very definition of what being a criminal, an outcast, or a traitor is all about .  .  . "War" on the other hand is organized violence within or between political communities which involves once again collectives.  These collectives would have to enjoy both moral and material cohesion within them which in turn allows them to use violence as an instrument in their political actions.  The Nazis, as repugnant as they were, did gain "legitimacy" (yet another collective concept) over time and formed a political community around them of Germans dissatisfied with the "system" of their time, and their political takeover did constitute a revolution. 

    ABB is all about ABB and nothing more.  Assuming that his "message" or rather mad rant is going to draw an audience and a following is an assumption, based on what exactly?  Great knowledge of how "Europeans" feel about immigration?  Define "Europeans" and how this act is going to mobilize concerted action against immigrants, draw a political community around it?

    Even if he did appeal to a selection of alienated loners who bought his sorry soap, that would not constitute them as a political community nor make their struggle war.

    If ABB is a "warrior" fighting a "war", than so was Charles Manson.     

  10. seydlitz89:

    JScottShipman-

    ABB’s plan is essentially nihilism, destroying a society in order to "save it".  That this could appeal to similarly afflicted individuals does not make it a political program, nor would that constitute them as a political community, in fact it is the opposite of a political program.

    The real danger here is that a real political community with an actual political purpose will see this sort of nihilist activity as somehow supporting their own goals, which would constitute ABB’s unwitting (obviously) support of a foreign political program, since as I say this is a potential instrument, not a war or a political program. 

    Say for instance, those wishing to convince people that an actual "war of civilizations" between the West and Islam exists . . .

  11. joey:

    I’m not sure this guy deserves the kind of close analysis he is getting.  He is obviously as mad as a brush.  This kind of textual analysis only serves to legitimize him.  If he was part of a terrorist group with broad support then yes fine, but he is not, at the end of the day he was a lone gun man, without even one confederate to turn to.  This is a man so deep into his psychosis that he could gun down 80 odd teenagers and think he was striking a blow for European freedom.  The question is would he would be worth listening to if he hadn’t killed anybody.

  12. Charles Cameron:

    Hi, Joey:
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    You write:

    I’m not sure this guy deserves the kind of close analysis he is getting

    I suppose it depends on what the purpose of the analysis is, its scope and audience.
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    As I’ve said in my response to Cheryl Rofer’s comment on another post, I am hoping to write something up about why a clear understanding of Breivik’s writings and references, and their relevance to a variety of other topics of interest, seems important to me — as time permits.