TigerHawk has a must read post on a lecture he attended by Michael Doran, Princeton’s embattled Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies. Subject: Al Qaeda’s grand strategy.
Al Qaeda’s thinkers have reinterpreted Islam all the way back to the time of the Crusades (or even the time of the Prophet). They argue, for example, that Muslim victories in the Crusades were not attributable to Saladin, but to small bands of Muslim insurgents that laid the foundation for Saladin’s victories. Their argument is that, in effect, al Qaeda-like organizations were at the source of Muslim triumphs a thousand years ago. These victories did not derive from the state, but from little bands of determined men. This reinterpretation of history shapes how they think about the war al Qaeda fights today.