By Mark M. Green (sciencefromaway.com)
Does political science deserve to be called a science? When I was in high school and later in college in the 1950s, there was a required course we called “polysci” and the science engineering types thought it was great because we didn’t have to memorize a lot of facts or carry out mathematical calculations as in a regular science course. Polysci allowed us to write down our opinions or points of view, and if we had the gift of blarney and the grammar was correct, we could pass with flying colors, giving us the impression we knew what we were talking about.
The explosion on Twenty-third Street in Manhattan, the pressure cooker bomb found unexploded a few blocks away, the stabbings in Minnesota, and the explosion in the trashcan in New Jersey (which spared lives only because of the delayed start of a race) bring political science to mind. It is not as when given acceleration and mass one can get force, as in F=ma, or the certainty of mixing sodium hydroxide, NaOH, and hydrochloric acid, HCl, yielding NaCl and H2O: The world of political science is much less certain. Logic and reason have to be used to draw conclusions about the result and meaning of actions.
In The Inverness Oran of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, there is a weekly column I usually read by Gwynne Dyer. He recently predicted that ISIS would want Trump to be President to guarantee a powerful warlike reaction to their mayhem in the United States. He also predicted that ISIS terrorism would increase as the election approached in order to stir up the American voters to go for the “tough-guy” candidate who would react with a promise to erase ISIS from the face of the earth. Is it reasonable to think that the Twenty-third Street bomb that exploded in Manhattan at almost the same hour as the stabbings in St. Cloud, Minnesota (which ISIS has claimed were carried out by one of its soldiers) and the bombs in Seaside Park and Elizabeth, NJ are the beginning of the ISIS strategy Dyer predicted?
This strategy makes sense based on Osama Bin Laden’s attack on the World Trade Center and terrorism as we know it today. Yes, it’s true that terrorizing civilians can win a war as was demonstrated in World War II and wars prior to and since, but these actions did not involve small-scale actions from time to time. They depended on extensive bombings destroying cities and killing huge numbers of people. The way Dyer sees it (and I agree), the terrorism we are now seeing is designed not to cower us into defeat, but rather to goad us into increasing our attacks on the Islamic world, sending large numbers of soldiers, thereby enforcing the argument of the radical extremists that Christianity and Islam are at war—the Crusades rise again. This justifies an Islamic extremist call to arms, the only reasonable way their desire to establish a caliphate can be satisfied. Given the limited population in their group, and with ISIS increasingly losing territory to other Muslims, ISIS sees the writing on the wall (“Caliphate in Peril, More ISIS Fighters May Take Mayhem to Europe”, New York Times, September 17, 2016). Terror may be the only path forward for their dreams, terror that would stimulate a large war against the caliphate in order to, counter-intuitively, save it.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is like the Native American Chief at war with the United States in the nineteenth century who organized small numbers of warriors to attack a fort. The plan was to draw out the soldiers from their stronghold so that they could be chased to a place where larger forces would counter them. (http://blogs.poly.edu/
Who will have the wisdom to respond to the terrorism we now face so that it is to our advantage? According to Dyer, ISIS believes that Trump lacks the necessary wisdom.
Post Script by George Capsis
Our military budget is $668 billion a year and our enemy is a single alienated young man who needs to join even if that joining is to a group that uses hate as the bonding agent.
His initiation gift is a gleaming Kalashnikov machine gun.
If we could hand him an airline ticket to a job in Kansas City we might save him and reduce the military budget.