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Topic: WW3 (Read 184175 times)
Reply #350 on:
July 31, 2006, 09:42:47 AM »
From the Weekly Standard
Most liberals (and the odd conservative) don't want to fight--Bush does.
by William Kristol
07/31/2006, Volume 011, Issue 43
On Tuesday, July 18, in Tehran, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke to his countrymen. He reminded them of the connection between Israel and the liberal West: "The final point of liberal civilization is the false and corrupt state that has occupied Jerusalem. That is the bottom line. That is what all those who talk about liberalism and support it have in common." He went on to explain that when the Muslim world erupts, "its waves will not be limited to this region." That same day, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, issued a warning to the Zionists who had intruded into the Muslim Middle East: "Today, the land of Palestine is painted red with your contemptible blood. . . . No place in Israel will be safe."
Meanwhile, on that same summer day, the Washington Post appeared as usual on the doorsteps of most residents of Washington, D.C., the capital of the liberal civilization Ahmadinejad so dislikes. Its editorial page featured three of its distinguished columnists.
Two were liberals. One, E.J. Dionne, was worried--very, very worried. He saw only "disaster" and "calamity" ahead in the Middle East, no silver lining to the "frightening" developments taking place. He judged that "alarmism is the highest form of realism in this case"--and called for "at least a brief cease-fire." The other, Richard Cohen, was less alarmed, more philosophical. Cohen concurred in part with Ahmadinejad, judging that "Israel itself is a mistake." He dissented in part from Ahmadinejad because Cohen allowed that Israel is, after all, "an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable." So Israel should not be destroyed. But neither should Israel, when it is attacked, go on the offensive. It should "hunker down."
The other regular columnist was a conservative, George F. Will. Will felt it important to remind his readers of the conservative truth of "the limits of power to subdue an unruly world." He mocked the possibility of military action against Syria or Iran. In passing, he cast an ironic eye--perhaps a disapproving one--on the fact that, while Israel has patiently borne the "torment" of terrorism "for decades," the United States "responded to two hours of terrorism one September morning by toppling two regimes halfway around the world with wars that show no signs of ending." (If the 9/11 attacks had lasted a little longer, would one's fine sense of proportion be less disturbed by the vigor of the American response?) In any case, Will concluded, things could get worse.
That's a lot of "weak horses," to borrow an Osama bin Laden formulation, for one op-ed page. Fortunately, there are at least a few strong horses in the nation's capital as well. One was to be found on the Post's own editorial page, right across from Dionne and Cohen and Will. The clear-eyed liberalism of the Post's own editorial, "A War With Extremists," was bracing, as the editors argued that "this Middle East conflict should end with the defeat of its instigators," Hamas and Hezbollah, and warned against accepting a premature cease-fire or any result other than a "decisive defeat" for the terrorists and their state backers in Damascus and Tehran.
And on the news pages were reports of a couple more strong horses--George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Bush and Blair were, famously, caught on an open mike at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg. Blair demonstrated a shrewd understanding of what was at stake for Syria's dictator, Bashar Assad: "He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way . . . he's done." And Bush explained, simply and correctly, that the first step was "to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s---."
Israel is fighting to stop, and defeat, Hezbollah. Bush, Blair, and the Post editors understand that the right policy is to stand behind Israel, and to support that nation in defeating terror--for its own sake, and on behalf of liberal civilization. They understand that we are at war with an axis of jihadist-terrorist organizations and the states that sponsor them. They understand that we need to win the war. With Bush's leadership, we have a good chance to do so.
For those who fight for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know
Reply #351 on:
July 31, 2006, 05:30:00 PM »
Back to Story - Help
Raise readiness, Assad tells Syrian Army By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
12 minutes ago
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the Syrian military on Monday to raise its readiness, pledging not to abandon support for Lebanese resistance against Israel.
In an annual address on the anniversary of the foundation of the Syria Arab Army, Assad called on the military to "work on more preparedness and raise readiness of all units.
"We are facing international circumstances and regional challenges that require caution, alertness, readiness and preparedness," Assad said in the written address.
Diplomats in Damascus say the Syrian army has been on alert since the Israeli onslaught on Lebanon began on July 12 after Hizbollah fighters captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border operation.
Assad said Israel's war on Lebanon was an attempt by Israel to settle scores with Hizbollah, whose war of attrition forced Israel to pull out of southern Lebanon in 2000 after a 22-year occupation.
"The barbaric war of annihilation the Israeli aggression is waging on our people in Lebanon and Palestine is increasing in ferocity," the 40-year-old president said.
"All these threats by the powers supporting the aggression will not stop us from the liberation march and from supporting the resistance."
Over the last three weeks Israel has raided targets just inside the Lebanese side of the border with Syria, but it has not attacked Syria proper since 2003, when it raided installations belonging to a pro-Syrian Palestinian group near Damascus.
The Israeli army, which has forces in the occupied Golan Heights, 35 km (22 miles) from Damascus, has repeatedly said it has no intention of attacking Syria.
On Monday, an Israeli official said a Syrian-made bomb was detonated next to an Israeli army patrol in the Golan Heights, causing no casualties.
Israel's Channel Two television quoted military sources as saying the blast in the Golan, which Israel occupied in 1967, was believed to be an act of solidarity with Hizbollah.
Syrian officials have occasionally said they could consider activating the Golan front, which has been quiet since a 1974 ceasefire with Israel.
For those who fight for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know
How to poison children's minds
Reply #352 on:
July 31, 2006, 08:31:57 PM »
Does this remind you of Hitler youth?
Beirut march marks Qana bombing
Thursday 27 April 2006, 21:33 Makka Time, 18:33 GMT
About 2,000 children have marched through the streets of Beirut armed with fake rockets in a rally organised by Hezbollah to mark the anniversary of a deadly Israeli bombardment 10 years ago.
Reply #353 on:
August 01, 2006, 07:30:20 PM »
Don't know how long this link will be up. It is supposedly from Al Jazeera with Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American psychologist from Los Angeles.
"..awaken your consciousness of our past, already effaced from our memory, and to rectify what has been falsified and slandered."
Jose Rizal, from his 1889 essay, ' To The Filipinos '
Reply #354 on:
August 11, 2006, 10:36:27 AM »
"We have met the enemy... and he is us" Pogo
By Julie Burchill
Personally, I'd far prefer the Jews to be angry, aggressive and alive than meek, mild and dead
A few weeks back it was my birthday, and my equally non-Jewish journalist friend Chas Newkey-Burden took his life in his hands and presented me with a cuddly toy. Now, normally I feel that people who bother with cuddly toys over the age of eight are either mad and/or prostitutes, but this little sweetie stole my heart. A honey-brown camel with a heart-melting smile and a jaunty cap, he proudly wore an Israeli Army uniform with a fetching hole cut out for his hump. "I've named him Bibi," Chas told me, obviously in honor of our mutual crush.
Later that night Chas and I were watching a TV news report of the beginnings of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. To say we were amazed when a news presenter solemnly intoned that there had been "two militants wounded" with all the grieving gravitas of Richard Dimbleby reporting on the state funeral of the late Winston Churchill is to employ English understatement to an almost surreal degree. But it's been that way ever since - and more than one night has seen me screaming at the TV/my husband "You don't understand! None of you English bastards understands!" before running into the bedroom, slamming the door and collapsing in a tearful heap with only Bibi to comfort me.
One of the most grotesque examples of the almost brainwashed level of bias can be seen on the official BBC Religions Web site, where that "peace be upon him" eyewash is going on like crazy, while other religions are coolly commented on in a strictly "objective" way.
The conflict has sent this tendency into overdrive, with not just the usual Masochist Hacks For Mohammed such as Robert Fisk (beaten up by Islamists, says they were right to do it) and Yvonne Ridley (kidnapped by Islamists, then became one) getting their chadors in a twist about big swarthy men with tea-towels on their heads treating the West mean and keeping it - in their case at least - keen.
Even the women's magazines have gotten in on the act, with lots of first-person eye-witness accounts of British citizens fleeing the Jewish jackboot. Then turn the page and you'll often find a shocked article about honor-killing or forced marriage, Muslim-style. That Israel is fighting the frontline war, on behalf of the freedom and civilization of all of us, against the very real evils of shari'a law never seems to occur to these bleeding-heart ignoramuses.
Over at Channel 4, Jon Snow interviewed an Israeli diplomat with all the finesse and objectivity of a neo-Nazi spraying a six-foot swastika on a wall. Of the rockets which murdered Israeli civilians in the town of Sderot, he said "Rockets, pretty pathetic things - nobody gets injured." This was gleefully picked up and proclaimed by The Guardian, the newspaper I left some years ago in protest at what I saw as its vile anti-Semitism.
All across the board, Lebanese civilians are referred to as "civilians" where Israeli civilians are referred to as "Israelis" - an eerie and sinister difference pointed out by the non-Jewish stand-up comic genius Natalie Haynes, and one which very few people appear to have noticed - even me, until then.
In fact the tone in papers as diverse as the "liberal" Guardian to the right-wing Daily Mail has been repulsively similar; look, look, the Israelis are as bad as the terrorists! Worse, in fact, because they've got America behind them! Even the normally sensible Matthew Parris in the normally sensible Times wrote: "The past 40 years have been a catastrophe, gradual and incremental, for world Jewry. Seldom in history have the name and reputation of a human grouping lost so vast a store of support and sympathy so fast."
The catastrophe he refers to is the State of Israel itself; you'd really think, reading this, that the years leading up to the creation of the Jewish state were, in fact, a right royal romp in the park. Instead of the Holocaust.
A surprising number of British people - especially the super-creepy British Jews who recently signed a treacherous letter to the press distancing themselves from Israel's actions - seem to think Israel should exist not as a real, imperfect country full of real, imperfect people led by real, imperfect leaders, but as some sort of collective kosher Mater Dolorosa, there to provide a selfless, suffering example to the rest of us.
Fight back, and the outside world reacts with the revulsion of a man seeing his sainted grandmother drunk and offering sailors outside. Even (especially?) anti-Semites and enemies of Israel are shameless in recycling the legends of "brave little Israel" - I'm thinking of David and Goliath here - and basically believe that each IDF member should go into battle against the assembled hordes of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah armed with nothing but a slingshot apiece. Failing that, this tiny country must embark on a suicidal act of self-sacrifice in the face of murderous, genocidal hatred, as Matthew Parris astoundingly suggests:
"The settlement has to be a return to its pre-1967 boundaries. Precisely because Israel is by no means forced to make so generous a move, the international support (even love) this would generate would secure its future permanently. It would bring it back within the pale."
Personally, I'd far prefer the Jews to be angry, aggressive and alive than meek, mild and dead - and that's what makes me and a minority like me feel so much like strangers in our own country, now more than ever. I've always loved being a hack, but now even that feels weird, as though I'm living among a bunch of snatched-body zombies who look like journalists but believe and say the most inhuman, evil things.
When Mel Gibson was picked up for drunk-driving recently, he was reported to have screamed at the police officer, whom he believed to be Jewish, "Fucking Jews! The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." His subsequent excuse was that he has "battled the disease of alcoholism for all my adult life." The British media are notorious for our love of the hard stuff; is that going to be our excuse too, I wonder, when large numbers of us are finally bang to rights for peddling the same loathsome lie?
Surreal Rules of the Road
Reply #355 on:
August 11, 2006, 10:33:10 PM »
The difficulties of fighting in an absurdly complicated region.
By Victor Davis Hanson
Prior to September 11, the general consensus was that conventional Middle East armies were paper tigers and that their terrorist alternatives were best dealt with by bombing them from a distance ? as in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, east Africa, etc. ? and then letting them sort out their own rubble.
Then following 9/11, the West adopted a necessary change in strategy that involved regime change and the need to win ?hearts and minds? to ensure something better was established in place of the deposed dictator or theocrat. That necessitated close engagements with terrorists in their favored urban landscape. After the last four years, we have learned just how difficult that struggle can be, especially in light of the type of weapons $500 billion in Middle East windfall petroleum profits can buy, when oil went from $20 a barrel to almost $80 over the last few years. To best deal with certain difficulties we?ve encountered in these battles thus far, perhaps the United States should adopt the following set of surreal rules of war.
1. Any death ? enemy or friendly, accidental or deliberate, civilian or soldier ? favors the terrorists. The Islamists have no claim on morality; Westerners do and show it hourly. So, in a strange way, images of the dead and dying are attributed only to our failing. If ours are killed, it is because those in power were not careful (inadequate body armor, unarmored humvees, etc), most likely due to some supposed conspiracy (Halliburton profiteering, blood for oil, wars for Israel, etc.). When Muslim enemies are killed, whether by intent or accidentally, the whole arsenal of Western postmodern thought comes into play. For the United States to have such power over life and death, the enemy appears to the world as weak, sympathetic, and victimized; we as strong and oppressive. Terrorists are still ?constructed? as ?the other? and thus are seen as suffering ? doctored photos or not ? through the grim prism of Western colonialism, racism, and imperialism.
In short, it is not just that Western public opinion won?t tolerate many losses; it won?t tolerate for very long killing the enemy either ? unless the belligerents are something akin to the white, Christian Europeans of Milosevic?s Serbia, who, fortunately for NATO war planners in the Balkans, could not seek refuge behind any politically correct paradigm and so were bombed with impunity. Remember, multiculturalism always trumps fascism: the worst homophobe, the intolerant theocrat, and the woman-hating bigot is always sympathetic if he wears some third-world garb, mouths anti-Americanism, and looks most un-European. To win these wars, our soldiers must not die or kill.
2. All media coverage of fighting in the Middle East is ultimately hostile ? and for a variety of reasons. Since the 1960s too many reporters have seen their mission as more than disinterested news gathering, but rather as near missionary: they seek to counter the advantages of the Western capitalist power structure by preparing the news in such a way as to show us the victims of profit-making and an affluent elite. Second, most fighting is far from home and dangerous. Trash the U.S. military and you might suffer a bad look at a well-stocked PX as the downside for winning the Pulitzer; trash Hezbollah or Hamas, and you might end up headless on the side of the road. Third, while in a southern Lebanon or the Green Zone, it is always safer to outsource a story and photos to local stringers, whose sympathies are usually with the enemy. A doctored photo that exaggerates Israeli ?war crimes? causes a mini-controversy for a day or two back in the States; a doctored photo that exaggerates Hezbollah atrocities wins an RPG in your hotel window. To win these wars, there must be no news of them.
3. The opposition ? whether an establishment figure like Howard Dean or an activist such as Cindy Sheehan ? ultimately prefers the enemy to win. In their way of thinking, there is such a reservoir of American strength that no enemy can ever really defeat us at home and so take away our Starbucks? lattes, iPods, Reeboks, or 401Ks. But being checked in ?optional? wars in Iraq, or seeing Israel falter in Lebanon, has its advantages: a George Bush and his conservatives are humiliated; the military-industrial complex learns to be a little bit more humble; and guilt over living in a prosperous Western suburb is assuaged. When a Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton ? unlike a Nixon, Reagan, or Bush ? sends helicopters or bombs into the Middle East desert, it is always as a last resort and with reluctance, and so can be grudgingly supported. To win these wars, a liberal Democrat must wage them.
4. Europeans have shown little morality, but plenty of influence, abroad and here at home during Middle East wars. Europeans, who helped to bomb Belgrade, now easily condemn Israel in the skies over Beirut. They sold Saddam his bunkers and reactor, and won in exchange sweetheart oil concessions. Iran could not build a bomb without Russian and European machine tools. Iran is not on any serious European embargo list; much of the off-the-shelf weaponry so critical to Hezbollah was purchased through European arms merchants. And if they are consistent in their willingness to do business with any tyrant, the Europeans also know how to spread enough aid or money around to the Middle East, to ensure some protection and a prominent role in any postwar conference. Had we allowed eager Europeans to get in on the postbellum contracts in Iraq, they would have muted their criticism considerably. To win these wars, we must win over the Europeans by ensuring they can always earn a profit.
5. To fight in the Middle East, the United States and Israel must enlist China, Russia, Europe, or any nation in the Arab world to fight its wars. China has killed tens of thousands in Tibet in a ruthless war leading to occupation and annexation. Russia leveled Grozny and obliterated Chechnyans. Europeans helped to bomb Belgrade, where hundreds of civilians were lost to ?collateral damage.? Egyptians gassed Yemenis; Iraqis gassed Kurds; Iraqis gassed Iranians; Syrians murdered thousands of men, women, and children in Hama; Jordanians slaughtered thousands of Palestinians. None received much lasting, if any, global condemnation. In the sick moral calculus of the world?s attention span, a terrorist who commits suicide in Guantanamo Bay always merits at least 500 dead Kurds, 1,000 Chechnyans, or 10,000 Tibetans. To win these wars, we need to outsource the job to those who can fight them with impunity.
6. Time is always an enemy. Most Westerners are oblivious to criticism if they wake up in the morning and learn their military has bombed a Saddam or sent a missile into Afghanistan ? and the war was begun and then ended all while they were sleeping. In contrast, 6-8 weeks ? about the length of the Balkan or Afghanistan war ? is the limit of our patience. After that, Americans become so sensitive to global criticism that they begin to hate themselves as much as others do. To win these wars, they should be over in 24 hours ? but at all cost no more than 8 weeks.
Silly, you say, are such fanciful rules? Of course ? but not as absurd as the wars now going on in the Middle East.
? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.
National Review Online -
Reply #356 on:
August 13, 2006, 01:30:53 PM »
The Guns Of August
By Richard Holbrooke
Thursday, August 10, 2006; A23
Two full-blown crises, in Lebanon and Iraq, are merging into a single emergency. A chain reaction could spread quickly almost anywhere between Cairo and Bombay. Turkey is talking openly of invading northern Iraq to deal with Kurdish terrorists based there. Syria could easily get pulled into the war in southern Lebanon. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are under pressure from jihadists to support Hezbollah, even though the governments in Cairo and Riyadh hate that organization. Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of giving shelter to al-Qaeda and the Taliban; there is constant fighting on both sides of that border. NATO's own war in Afghanistan is not going well. India talks of taking punitive action against Pakistan for allegedly being behind the Bombay bombings. Uzbekistan is a repressive dictatorship with a growing Islamic resistance.
The only beneficiaries of this chaos are Iran, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and the Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, who last week held the largest anti-American, anti-Israel demonstration in the world in the very heart of Baghdad, even as 6,000 additional U.S. troops were rushing into the city to "prevent" a civil war that has already begun.
This combination of combustible elements poses the greatest threat to global stability since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, history's only nuclear superpower confrontation. The Cuba crisis, although immensely dangerous, was comparatively simple: It came down to two leaders and no war. In 13 days of brilliant diplomacy, John F. Kennedy induced Nikita Khrushchev to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba.
Kennedy was deeply influenced by Barbara Tuchman's classic, "The Guns of August," which recounted how a seemingly isolated event 92 summers ago -- an assassination in Sarajevo by a Serb terrorist -- set off a chain reaction that led in just a few weeks to World War I. There are vast differences between that August and this one. But Tuchman ended her book with a sentence that resonates in this summer of crisis: "The nations were caught in a trap, a trap made during the first thirty days out of battles that failed to be decisive, a trap from which there was, and has been, no exit."
Preventing just such a trap must be the highest priority of American policy. Unfortunately, there is little public sign that the president and his top advisers recognize how close we are to a chain reaction, or that they have any larger strategy beyond tactical actions.
Under the universally accepted doctrine of self-defense, which is embodied in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, there is no question that Israel has a legitimate right to take action against a group that has sworn to destroy it and had hidden some 13,000 missiles in southern Lebanon. In these circumstances, American support for Israel is essential, as it has been since the time of Truman; if Washington abandoned Jerusalem, the very existence of the Jewish state could be jeopardized, and the world crisis whose early phase we are now in would quickly get far worse. The United States must continue to make clear that it is ready to come to Israel's defense, both with American diplomacy and, as necessary, with military equipment.
But the United States must also understand, and deal with, the wider consequences of its own actions and public statements, which have caused an unprecedented decline in America's position in much of the world and are provoking dangerous new anti-American coalitions and encouraging a new generation of terrorists. American disengagement from active Middle East diplomacy since 2001 has led to greater violence and a decline in U.S. influence. Others have been eager to fill the vacuum. (Note the sudden emergence of France as a key player in the current burst of diplomacy.)
American policy has had the unintended, but entirely predictable, effect of pushing our enemies closer together. Throughout the region, Sunnis and Shiites have put aside their hatred of each other just long enough to join in shaking their fists -- or doing worse -- at the United States and Israel. Meanwhile, in Baghdad, our troops are coming under attack by both sides -- Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents. If this continues, the U.S. presence in Baghdad has no future.
President Bush owes it to the nation, and especially the troops who risk their lives every day, to reexamine his policies. For starters, he should redeploy some U.S. troops into the safer northern areas of Iraq to serve as a buffer between the increasingly agitated Turks and the restive, independence-minded Kurds. Given the new situation, such a redeployment to Kurdish areas and a phased drawdown elsewhere -- with no final decision yet as to a full withdrawal from Iraq -- is fully justified. At the same time, we should send more troops to Afghanistan, where the situation has deteriorated even as the Pentagon is reducing U.S. troop levels -- which is read in the region as a sign of declining U.S. interest in Afghanistan.
On the diplomatic front, the United States cannot abandon the field to other nations (not even France!) or the United Nations. Every secretary of state from Henry Kissinger to Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright negotiated with Syria, including those Republican icons George Shultz and James Baker. Why won't this administration follow suit, in full consultation with Israel at every step? This would clearly be in Israel's interest. Instead, administration officials refuse direct talks and say publicly, "Syria knows what it must do" -- a statement that denies the very point of diplomacy.
The same is true of talks with Iran, although these would be more difficult. Why has the world's leading nation stood aside for over five years and allowed the international dialogue with Tehran to be conducted by Europeans, the Chinese and the United Nations? And why has that dialogue been restricted to the nuclear issue -- vitally important, to be sure, but not as urgent at this moment as Iran's sponsorship and arming of Hezbollah and its support of actions against U.S. forces in Iraq?
Containing the violence must be Washington's first priority. Finding a stable and secure solution that protects Israel must follow. Then must come the unwinding of America's disastrous entanglement in Iraq in a manner that is not a complete humiliation and does not lead to even greater turmoil. All of this will take sustained high-level diplomacy -- precisely what the American administration has avoided in the Middle East. Washington has, or at least used to have, leverage over the more moderate Arab states; it should use it again, in the closest consultation with and on behalf of Israel.
And we must be ready for unexpected problems that will test us; they could come in Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Jordan or even Somalia -- but one thing seems sure: They will come. Without a new, comprehensive strategy based on our most urgent national security needs -- as opposed to a muddled version of Wilsonianism -- this crisis is almost certain to worsen and spread.
Richard Holbrooke, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, writes a monthly column for The Post.
Reply #357 on:
August 14, 2006, 05:26:44 AM »
U.S. Troops kill 26 insurgents, wound 6, capture 60
RAMADI, Iraq - The military said it had killed 26 rebels on Friday night after coming under fire from several locations in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
Six insurgents were wounded and there were no U.S. casualties in the fighting, said the military. Street battles continue in Ramadi, a key bastion for the insurgency.
In Baghdad, 60 Iraqis suspected of links with a local al-Qaeda cell were captured in a raid on a funeral on the outskirts of Baghdad, US forces say.
US troops are being bolstered by reinforcements to help stop daily attacks by militants.
Iraqi man rescued by US Soldiers
TIKRIT, Iraq ? An Iraqi man being held hostage by unknown kidnappers was freed after US Soldiers found him blindfolded and bound in the back of a vehicle Thursday morning.
The rescue occurred after the vehicle was spotted by a US helicopter that was patrolling the area. The pilot noticed a suspicious gathering of people around the vehicle and reported the sighting.
A ground patrol attached to the 4th Infantry Division was sent to the area to investigate and found the man who claimed to have been kidnapped in Baqubah on Aug. 2. The Soldiers treated the man for his injuries and provided him a cell phone to call his family before taking him to a nearby base.
This is the second hostage rescue by Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers in the past two weeks. On July 30, Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers raiding a terrorist weapons cache near Muqdadiyah freed another Iraqi man the day before he was to be ?judged? by his kidnappers.
Kidnapping, whether for ransom, terror or propaganda use, continues to be a tactic of terrorists and criminals throughout Iraq.
Wanted terrorist captured
BAGHDAD ? Coalition forces captured a wanted terrorist leader and 6 other insurgents during coordinated raids in Bayji Aug. 11.
The targeted individual is reported to be a new senior al-Qaida in Iraq leader. He is additionally reported to be supplying terrorists to al-Qaida in Baghdad to target innocent Iraqis. The ground forces apprehended the individuals without incident.
This operation was part of ongoing efforts that have successfully captured several other terrorist leaders in the last 30 days. Coalition forces will use information gathered from this raid to continue building a clear picture of the terrorist network in the region, and how best to capture or eliminate them.
HOW'S THIS FOR U.S. TROOPS CUTTING DOWN THE MURDER RATE IN THIS DISTRICT:
US, Iraqi forces seal off Baghdad district in crackdown
10 Aug 2006
BAGHDAD - U.S. and Iraqi forces sealed off parts of one of Baghdad's most dangerous districts on Thursday, searching thousands of homes in an effort to regain control of the capital's lawless streets.
The sweep in the southern Dora district, involving 5,000 troops and lasting three days, has had one immediate result, U.S. Colonel Michael Beech said -- the murder rate, which peaked at 20 a day after a surge in sectarian violence, is now zero.
"There is no place safer in Baghdad right now," the commander of the U.S. 4th Brigade Combat team told journalists at an Iraqi police compound in Dora.
When U.S. troops break down doors or smash windows to enter homes in search of illegal weapons, explosives and wanted insurgents, they are followed shortly afterwards by local contractors who repair the locks or replace the windows.
The aim of the operation, expected to last another 24 hours, was to radically reduce the number of murders, kidnappings and assassinations in the area.
Iraqi Police Brigadier General Abd al-Rahman Yusif said thousands of homes had been searched. Fourteen AK-47s, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and improvised hand grenades had been seized and 36 insurgents and supporters were arrested.
"We are striking with an iron fist," he told the same news briefing.
In other news, Iraqi police raided a mosque Thursday in western Baghdad to arrest three gunmen involved in an armed attack on Iraqi police in which a police colonel was killed. "A group of terrorists attacked the national police in Saydiah area in Baghdad, and then took refuge in a mosque," said the statement.
The gunmen "continued firing from the mosque killing Colonel Dhiaa Al-Samirrai and two other policemen," added the statement.
The Iraqi police then arrested the 3 gunmen, one of whom was wounded by police fire. Police also confiscated a large quantity of weapons stored in the mosque.
US troops kill 4 armed men
BAGHDAD, Aug 8 (KUNA) -- The United States military said that its warplanes killed 4 armed men who were trying to plant bombs in the suburbs of the Iraqi capital.
A statement from the US military said its reconnaissance planes along with US military forces have scouted places of 13 armed men who were planting explosives near a road in an agriculture location along the bank of the Euphrates River.
The statement added US warplanes have conducted a raid on the targets, killing four while a fifth man managed to escape.
Meanwhile, the US military also said that a joint Iraqi and US paratrooper force has arrested 13 armed men in an operation in the northern part of the capital.
Reply #358 on:
August 17, 2006, 02:13:59 PM »
I am not sure how this will be received. On the forum where this was originally and later on Winds of Change, it has stirred up m;uch debate. Lots of comments are knee jerk reactions, but I ask each to try and read this from a rational and unemotional mind. It may be that mostly people who have read much of Blackfive can understand the thinking. We shall see. And as you read this, think Breslan.
I post it because it shows the inherent
problemn of what we face and how to react. Reading it actually choked
me up. The comments after it are just as profound..
On the Virtues of Killing Children
Posted By Grim
You are not going to like this.
On the demonstrable virtues of not caring if children die, on hardening your
mind for war, and other things we can no longer avoid discussing.
Beware that you are ready before you pass this seal.
Let us begin with a debate between a peaceful, gentle soul, and me. The
topic could be Israel's war, or ours in Iraq, or -- if they have the heart
for it -- the one to come.
The gentle soul -- how I respect her! -- will begin by pointing out how
many innocents have died in the recent wars, and especially the children,
who are the most obviously innocent. She will point out figures for Iraq,
for Afghanistan, for Lebanon, and ask: "How can you justify this? These
poor children, who might have been good men, good women, lain in the cold
We have all had the conversation that far, have we not? We are accustomed
to reply: "But the enemy is the one that targets children. We try our best
to avoid hurting children. That makes us better. Furthermore, the enemy
hides himself among children. As a result, in spite of our best efforts,
sometimes children die on the other side also. But again, it is not our
fault -- it is his fault. He endangers them."
She replies: "But how can you justify their deaths? Regardless of how hard
you try, will you not kill them? Some of them? Should we not choose peace
Let us consider that.
What if we asked her, "Let us speculate that our enemy -- say in Iran --
seeks to kill our children. If we attack them to stop it, we may or may not
kill any of their children -- and we will do everything in our power to
avoid it. If we do not, they certainly will kill ours. Should we attack
them or not?"
She will answer: "That is a false example. Nothing is certain, and it is
said that hard cases make bad law."
"Fair enough," we reply, "but where will you find the parent who will
sacrifice her children for the possibility of keeping another parent's child
"It would be impossible," she will agree, but add, "However, nothing is that
"Then let us make it conditional," I continue. "Let us say that there is
the possibility we shall kill a child -- but we shall do our best not to do
so -- and only the possibility that they will kill our child, but it is
their aim. Now, should we try to stop them -- though risking their child?
Or should we refuse, and take the increased risk that they will succeed in
their murder, since no one dares disrupt them?"
"It is always wrong to take the risk of killing a child, whether we do it or
they do," she will say.
"Why so?" I ask.
"Because it endangers the innocent," she replies.
"If that is the reason," I answer, "then you are wrong. It is best that we
bomb without fear."
Her eyes grow wide. "You are mad," she says.
"Not so," I answer. "Consider: when the enemy seeks to kill our child to
motivate us to surrender to his will, is it not because he believes that the
danger to the children will move our hearts?"
"It is," she must agree.
"And when he hides among children," I add, "why? Children do little to
deflect artillery. Must it not be because he knows that we -- we
ourselves -- fear for the children, even his children?"
She nods, silently.
"Then it is proven," I say. "It is our love of these innocents that
endangers them. If we did not care if children died, they would be in
"That cannot be," she replies in anger.
"But it is so," I contest. "If we did not care if our children died, they
would not be targets. There would be no reason to target them, because we
would not be moved by their deaths.
"If we did not care if their children died," I add, "there would be no
reason to clutter military emplacements with their presence. If it were not
that we are horrified by the deaths of children, the enemy's children would
be clear of all places of battle -- because they are, except for the fact
that we love them, a hindrance."
She bites her lip.
"Of course, we cannot cut out our hearts," I tell her. "Nor should we -- as
we wish to remain men, and good men, rather than monsters. Yet it is our
love that is the chief danger to the innocent now -- to our own innocents,
and theirs also."
"What do you suggest?" she demands of me. "If you will not hate children,
if you assert that it is right to love them -- but you say we cannot love
them, without wrongfully endangering them -- what can we do? Where is the
"It must be," I tell her sadly, "Here: That we pursue war without thought
of the children. That we do not turn aside from the death of the innocent,
but push on to the conclusion, through all fearful fire. If we do that, the
children will lose their value as hostages, and as targets: if we love
them, we must harden our hearts against their loss. Ours and theirs."
"How can that be right?" she wonders.
"It cannot be," I must say. "Love should always rise, above war and fear
and death. Love should always be first, and not last, in our hearts. It
should never be that love brings wrong, and disdain brings right.
"And yet," I say, "It is. I have shown you that it is. That means we have
moved into a time beyond human wisdom. We can no longer know the right. It
is beyond us.
"We can only do," I must warn her, and you. "We can only do, and pray, that
when we are done we may be forgiven."
Reply #359 on:
August 17, 2006, 03:51:56 PM »
Such convoluted arguing makes my brain hurt so I was not able to go through the whole thing. I like to keep things simple.
I don't like war.
I don't start wars.
I refuse to lose.
If you start a war you have to lose it.
End of story.
Killing people is not the objective. President Lyndon Johnson and general William Westmoreland proved without a shadow of a doubt in Vietnam that body count is not a useful strategy or tactic. The objective is to demoralize the enemy to the point that they totally lose the will to fight. That was the way the Allies beat Germany and Japan in the Second World War. No one will ever know what the body count was at Dresden or Tokyo as a result of the fire bombings. But the Tokyo fire bombing plus Hiroshima plus Nagasaki finally broke the Japanese spirit. Do the Japanese hate America for this? Not at all. Japan considers Douglas MacArthur their liberator. That is the lesson to be learned from previous wars.
Appeasement brings on war.
Total humiliating defeat ends war and makes friends.
Israel's big mistake was not waging total war on Hezbollah. Israel's mistake was loving their soldiers so much that they did not commit them to total victory. The sterile air campaign proved to be sterile, it did not bring victory and the conditions on the ground have not changed. Hezbollah is whole, Syria is whole, Iran is whole.
I know this will sound crude and rude but if you survive you can make more children. If you don't survive then there will never be more children. Nature is not cruel, nature plays the numbers: Make enough of them and let the fittest survive. If there are not enough fit ones then let another species take their place.
To quote general George Patton: "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."
The author of this article grasps Islam-induced thinking, part of what is called "psycho-epistemology," very well.? This article is one of the best, and one of the very, very few, about Muslim thinking per se.
Getting Into Their Minds III:? How Does Islam Do It?
Deterring Those Who Are Already Dead?
Reply #360 on:
August 17, 2006, 08:53:50 PM »
I like your simplified thinking, and also the article.
What Grim is trying to do in his post is to address the issue of the enemy using children as shields, and the reaction of people to it. Simplified, if the enemy uses children as shields and we back down, unwilling to use force that might get children killed, then they will use them as shields more often. Yet,this same enemy will deliberately target children. The end must be the following, we must be willing to engage in actions that might take innocent lives of children to save the lives of many more children. Not a pleasant thought, but a necessary action.
I mentioned Breslan because this was the perfect example of what the author was trying to make. The terrorists were killing the adults. A bomb went off in the building, likely by accident, killing many innocent men, women, and children. The decision had to be made, "wait it out and let the terrorists kill others until who knows when, or take the risk and go in, likely causing many innocent deaths." Neither action is "good", but one takes the action that may prevent some useless deaths from occurring.
I have often used one argument about killing and total war. It takes 15-18 years to create a person who can then be trained to fight. Deny an enemy a source of this material and you win the war.
Reply #361 on:
August 21, 2006, 08:21:48 AM »
By Daniel L. Byman and Kenneth M. Pollack
Sunday, August 20, 2006; B01
The debate is over: By any definition, Iraq is in a state of civil war. Indeed, the only thing standing between Iraq and a descent into total Bosnia-like devastation is 135,000 U.S. troops -- and even they are merely slowing the fall. The internecine conflict could easily spiral into one that threatens not only Iraq but also its neighbors throughout the oil-rich Persian Gulf region with instability, turmoil and war.
The consequences of an all-out civil war in Iraq could be dire. Considering the experiences of recent such conflicts, hundreds of thousands of people may die. Refugees and displaced people could number in the millions. And with Iraqi insurgents, militias and organized crime rings wreaking havoc on Iraq's oil infrastructure, a full-scale civil war could send global oil prices soaring even higher.
However, the greatest threat that the United States would face from civil war in Iraq is from the spillover -- the burdens, the instability, the copycat secession attempts and even the follow-on wars that could emerge in neighboring countries. Welcome to the new "new Middle East" -- a region where civil wars could follow one after another, like so many Cold War dominoes.
And unlike communism, these dominoes may actually fall.
For all the recent attention on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, far more people died in Iraq over the past month than in Israel and Lebanon, and tens of thousands have been killed from the fighting and criminal activity since the U.S. occupation began. Additional signs of civil war abound. Refugees and displaced people number in the hundreds of thousands. Militias continue to proliferate. The sense of being an "Iraqi" is evaporating.
Considering how many mistakes the United States has made in Iraq, how much time has been squandered, and how difficult the task is, even a serious course correction in Washington and Baghdad may only postpone the inevitable.
Iraq displays many of the conditions most conducive to spillover. The country's ethnic, tribal and religious groups are also found in neighboring states, and they share many of the same grievances. Iraq has a history of violence with its neighbors, which has fostered desires for vengeance and fomented constant clashes. Iraq also possesses resources that its neighbors covet -- oil being the most obvious, but important religious shrines also figure in the mix -- and its borders are porous.
Civil wars -- whether in Africa, Asia, Europe or the Middle East -- tend to spread across borders. For example, the effects of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict, which began in the 1920s and continued even after formal hostilities ended in 1948, contributed to the 1956 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars, provoked a civil war in Jordan in 1970-71 and then triggered the Lebanese civil war of 1975-90. In turn, the Lebanese conflict helped spark civil war in Syria in 1976-82.
With an all-out civil war looming in Iraq, Washington must decide how to deal with the most common and dangerous ways such conflicts spill across national boundaries. Only by understanding the refugee crises, terrorism, radicalization of neighboring populations, copycat secessions and foreign interventions that such wars frequently spark can we begin to plan for how to cope with them in the months and years ahead.
Refugees Spread The Fighting
Massive refugee flows are a hallmark of major civil wars. Afghanistan's produced the largest such stream since World War II, with more than a third of the population fleeing. Conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s also generated millions of refugees and internally displaced people: In Kosovo, more than two-thirds of Kosovar Albanians fled the country. In Bosnia, half of the country's 4.4 million people were displaced, and 1 million of them fled the country altogether. Comparable figures for Iraq would mean more than 13 million displaced Iraqis, and more than 6 million of them running to neighboring countries.
Refugees are not merely a humanitarian burden. They often continue the wars from their new homes, thus spreading the violence to other countries. At times, armed units move from one side of the border to the other. The millions of Afghans who fled to Pakistan during the anti-Soviet struggle in the 1980s illustrate such violent transformation. Stuck in the camps for years while war consumed their homeland, many refugees joined radical Islamist organizations. When the Soviets departed, refugees became the core of the Taliban. This movement, nurtured by Pakistani intelligence and various Islamist political parties, eventually took power in Kabul and opened the door for Osama bin Laden to establish a new base of operations for al-Qaeda.
Refugee camps often become a sanctuary and recruiting ground for militias, which use them to launch raids on their homelands. Inevitably, their enemies attack the camps -- or even the host governments. In turn, those governments begin to use the refugees as tools to influence events back in their homelands, arming, training and directing them, and thereby exacerbating the conflict.
Perhaps the most tragic example of the problems created by large refugee flows occurred in the wake of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. After the Hutu-led genocide resulted in the death of 800,000 to 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus, the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front "invaded" the country from neighboring Uganda. The RPF was drawn from the 500,000 or so Tutsis who had already fled Rwanda from past pogroms. As the RPF swept through Rwanda, almost 1 million Hutus fled to neighboring Congo, fearing that the evil they did unto others would be done unto them.
For two years after 1994, Hutu bands continued to conduct raids in Rwanda and began to work with Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. The new RPF government of Rwanda responded by attacking not only the Hutu militia camps, but also its much larger neighbor, bolstering a formerly obscure Congolese opposition leader named Laurent Kabila and installing him in power in Kinshasa. A civil war in Congo ensued, killing perhaps 4 million people.
The flow of refugees from Iraq could worsen instability in all of its neighboring countries. Kuwait, for example, has just over 1 million citizens, one-third of whom are Shiite. The influx of several hundred thousand Iraqi Shiites across the border could change the religious balance in the country overnight. Both these Iraqi refugees and the Kuwaiti Shiites could turn against the Sunni-dominated Kuwaiti government, seeing violence as a means to end the centuries of discrimination they have faced at the hands of Kuwait's Sunnis.
Numbers of displaced people are already rising in Iraq, although they are nowhere near what they could be if the country slid into a full civil war. About 100,000 Arabs are believed to have fled northern Iraq under pressure from Kurdish militias. As many as 200,000 Sunni Arabs reportedly have been displaced by the fighting between Sunni groups and the American-led coalition in western Iraq. In the past 18 months, 50,000 to 100,000 Shiites have fled mixed-population cities in central Iraq for greater safety farther south. So far, in addition to the Palestinians and other foreigners, only the Iraqi upper and middle classes are fleeing the country altogether, moving to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon or the Gulf States. As one indicator of the size of this flight, since 2004 the Ministry of Education has issued nearly 40,000 letters permitting parents to take their children's academic records abroad. If the violence continues to escalate, even those without resources will soon flee to vast refugee camps in the nearest country.
Terrorism Finds New Homes
The war in Iraq has proved to be a disaster for the struggle against Osama bin Laden. Fighters there are receiving training, building networks and becoming further radicalized -- and the U.S. occupation is proving a dream recruiting tool for young Muslims worldwide. As bad as this is, a wide-scale civil war in Iraq could make the terrorism problem even worse.
Such terrorist organizations as Hezbollah, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were all born of civil wars. They eventually shifted from assaulting their enemies in Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Northern Ireland and Israel, respectively, to mounting attacks elsewhere. Hezbollah has attacked Israeli, American and European targets on four continents. The LTTE assassinated former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi because of his intervention in Sri Lanka. The IRA began a campaign of attacks in Britain in the 1980s. The GIA did the same to France the mid-1990s, hijacking an Air France flight then moving on to bombings in the country. In the 1970s, various Palestinian groups began launching terrorist attacks against Israelis wherever they could find them -- including at the Munich Olympics and airports in Athens and Rome -- and then attacked Western civilians whose governments supported Israel.
In Afghanistan, the anti-Soviet struggle in the 1980s was a key incubator for bin Laden's movement. Many young mujaheddin went to Afghanistan with only the foggiest notion of jihad. But during the fighting in Afghanistan, individuals took on one another's grievances, so that Saudi jihadists learned to hate the Egyptian government and Chechens learned to hate Israel. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda convinced many of them that the United States was at the center of the Muslim world's problems -- a view that almost no Sunni terrorist group had previously embraced. Other civil wars in Muslim countries, including the Balkans, Chechnya and Kashmir, began for local reasons but became enmeshed in the broader jihadist movement. Should Iraq descend into a deeper civil war, the country could become a sanctuary for both Shiite and Sunni terrorists, possibly even exceeding the problems of Lebanon in the 1980s or Afghanistan under the Taliban.
Right now, the U.S. military presence keeps a lid on the jihadist effort. There are no enormous training camps such as those the radicals enjoyed in Afghanistan. Likewise, Hezbollah and other Shiite terrorist groups have maintained a low profile in Iraq so far, but the more embattled the Shiites feel, the better the chance they will invite greater Hezbollah involvement. Shiite fighters may even strike the Sunni backers of their Iraqi adversaries, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, or incite their own Shiite populations against them. And lost in the focus on Arab terrorist groups is the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), an anti-Turkish group that has long fought to establish a Kurdish state in Turkey from bases in Iraq. The more Iraq is consumed by chaos, the more likely it is that the PKK will regain a haven in northern Iraq.
The Sunni jihadists would be particularly likely to go after Saudi Arabia given its long, lightly patrolled border with Iraq, as well as their interest in destabilizing the ruling Saud family. The turmoil in Iraq has energized young Saudi Islamists. In the future, the balance may shift from Saudis helping Iraqi fighters against the Americans to Iraqi fighters helping Saudi jihadists against the Saudi government, with Saudi oil infrastructure an obvious target.
Radicalism Is Contagious
Civil wars tend to inflame the passions of neighboring populations. This is often just a matter of proximity: Chaos and slaughter five miles down the road has a much greater emotional impact than a massacre 5,000 miles away. The problem worsens whenever ethnic or religious groupings also spill across borders. Frequently, people demand that their government intervene on behalf of their compatriots embroiled in the civil war. Alternatively, they may aid their co-religionists or co-ethnics on their own -- taking in refugees, funneling money and guns, providing sanctuary.
The Albanian government came under heavy pressure from its people to support the Kosovar Albanians who were fighting for independence from the Serbs. As a result, Tirana provided diplomatic support and covert aid to the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998-99, and threatened to intervene to prevent Serbia from crushing the Kosovars. Similarly, numerous Irish and Irish American groups clandestinely supported the Irish Republican Army, providing money and guns to the group and lobbying Dublin and Washington.
Sometimes, radicalization works in the opposite direction if neighboring populations share the grievances of their comrades across the border, and as a result are inspired to fight in pursuit of similar goals in their own country. Although Sunni Syrians had chafed under the minority Alawite dictatorship since the 1960s, members of the Muslim Brotherhood (the leading Sunni Arab opposition group) were spurred to action when they saw Lebanese Sunni Arabs fighting to wrest a share of political power from the minority Maronite-dominated government in Beirut. This spurred their own decision to organize against Hafez al-Assad's regime in Damascus. By the late 1970s, their resistance had blossomed into civil war, but Assad's regime was not as weak as Lebanon's. In 1982, Assad razed the center of the city of Hama, a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold, killing 20,000 to 40,000 people and snuffing out the revolt.
Iraq's neighbors are vulnerable to this aspect of spillover. Iraq's own divisions are mirrored throughout the region; for instance, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia all have sizable Shiite communities. In Saudi Arabia, Shiites make up about 10 percent of the population, but they are heavily concentrated in its oil-rich Eastern Province. Bahrain's population is majority Shiite, although the regime is Sunni. Likewise, Iran, Syria and Turkey all have important Kurdish minorities, which are geographically concentrated adjacent to Iraqi Kurdistan.
Populations in some countries around Iraq are already showing dangerous signs of radicalization. In March, after the Sunni jihadist bombing of the Shiite Askariya shrine in Iraq, more than 100,000 Bahraini Shiites took to the streets in anger. In 2004, when U.S. forces were battling Iraqi Sunni insurgents in Fallujah, large numbers of Bahraini Sunnis protested. There has been unrest in Iranian Kurdistan in the past year, prompting Iran to deploy troops to the border and even shell Kurdish positions in Iraq. The Turks, too, have deployed additional forces to the Iraqi border to prevent any movement of Kurdish forces between the two countries.
Most ominous of all, tensions are rising between Shiites and Sunnis in the key Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. As in Bahrain, many Saudi Shiites saw the success of Iraq's Shiites and are now demanding better political and economic treatment. The government made a few initial concessions, but now the kingdom's Sunnis are openly accusing the Shiites of heresy. Religious leaders on both sides have begun to warn of a coming civil war or schism within Islam. The horrors of such a split are on display only miles away in Iraq.
Secession Breeds Secessionism
Reply #362 on:
August 21, 2006, 08:22:44 AM »
Secession Breeds Secessionism
Iraq's neighbors are just as fractured as Iraq itself. Should Iraq fragment, voices for secession elsewhere will gain strength. The dynamic is clear: One oppressed group with a sense of national identity stakes a claim to independence and goes to war to achieve it. As long as that group isn't crushed immediately, others with similar goals can be inspired to do the same.
The various civil wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s provide a good example. Slovenia was determined to declare independence, which led the Croats to follow suit. When the Serbs opposed Croatian secession from Yugoslavia by force, the first of the Yugoslav civil wars broke out. The European Union foolishly recognized both Slovene and Croatian independence, hoping that would end the bloodshed. However, many Bosnian Muslims wanted independence, and when they saw the Slovenes and Croats rewarded for their revolts, they pursued the same course. The new Bosnian government feared that if it did not declare independence, Serbia and Croatia would gobble up the respective Serb- and Croat-inhabited parts of their country. When Bosnia held a March 1992 referendum on independence, 98 percent voted in favor. The barricades went up all over Sarajevo the next day, kicking off the worst of the Balkan civil wars.
It didn't stop there. The eventual success of the Bosnians -- even after four years of war -- was an important element in the thinking of Kosovar Albanians when they agitated against the Serbian government in 1997-98. Serbian repression sparked an escalation toward independence that ended in the 1999 Kosovo War between NATO and Serbia. Kosovo, in turn, inspired Albanians in Macedonia to launch a guerrilla war against the Skopje government in hope of achieving the same or better.
In Iraq's case, the first candidate for secession is obvious: Kurdistan. If any group on Earth deserves its own country, it is surely the Kurds -- a distinct nation of 25 million people living in a geographically contiguous space with their own language and culture. However, if the Iraqi Kurds declare their independence and are protected by the international community, it is not hard to imagine Kurdish groups in Turkey and Iran following suit.
Moreover, the Kurds are not the only candidates. Shiite leader Abdul Aziz Hakim has called for autonomy for Iraq's Shiite regions -- a likely precursor for demands of outright independence. If Iraqi Shiites try to split off, other Shiites in the Gulf region might agitate against their own regimes along similar lines. Moreover, if ethnic or sectarian self-determination begins spreading throughout the Middle East more generally, secessionist movements could also spread to unlikely groups such as Iran's minority Azeri and Baluch populations.
Beware of Neighborly Interventions
Another critical problem of civil wars is the tendency of neighboring states to get involved, turning the conflicts into regional wars. Foreign governments may intervene overtly or covertly to "stabilize" the country in turmoil and stop the refugees pouring across their borders, as the Europeans did during the Yugoslav wars. Neighboring states will intervene to eliminate terrorist groups setting up shop in the midst of the civil war, as Israel did repeatedly in Lebanon. They also may intervene to stem the flow of "dangerous ideas" into their country. Iran and Tajikistan intervened in the Afghan civil war on behalf of co-religionists and co-ethnicists suffering at the hands of the rabidly Sunni, rabidly Pashtun Taliban, just as Syria intervened in Lebanon for fear that the conflict there was radicalizing its Sunni population.
In virtually every case, these interventions brought only further grief to the interveners and to the parties of the civil war.
Opportunism is another powerful motive. States often harbor designs on their neighbors' land and resources and see the chaos of civil war as an opportunity to achieve long-frustrated ambitions. Much as Croatia's Franjo Tudjman and Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic may have felt the need to intervene in the Bosnian civil war to protect their ethnic brothers, it seems clear that a more important motive for both was to carve up Bosnia between them.
Many states attempt to influence the course of a civil war by providing money, weapons and other support to one side. In effect, they use their intelligence services to create proxies who can fight the war for them. But states find that proxies are rarely able to secure their interests, typically leading them to escalate to open intervention. Both Israel and Syria employed proxies in Lebanon, for example, but found them inadequate, prompting their own invasions.
Pakistan is one of the few countries to succeed in using a proxy force (the Taliban) to secure its interests in a civil war. However, the nation's support of these radical Islamists encouraged the explosion of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan itself -- increasing the number of armed groups operating from Pakistan and creating networks for drugs and weapons to fuel the conflict. Today, Pakistan is a basket case, and much of the reason lies in its costly effort to prevail in the Afghan civil war.
Covert foreign intervention is proceeding apace in Iraq, with Iran leading the way. U.S. military and Iraqi sources think there are several thousand Iranian agents of all kinds already in Iraq. These personnel have simultaneously funneled money, guns and other support to friendly Shiite groups and established the infrastructure to wage a large-scale clandestine war if necessary. Iran has set up an extensive network of safe houses, arms caches, communications channels and proxy fighters, and will be well-positioned to pursue its interests in a full-blown civil war. The Sunni powers of Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are frightened by Iran's growing influence and presence in Iraq and have been scrambling to catch up.
Turkey may be the most likely country to overtly intervene in Iraq. Turkish leaders fear both the spillover of Turkish secessionism and the possibility that Iraq is becoming a haven for the PKK. Turkey has already massed troops on its southern border, and officials are threatening to intervene.
What's more, none of Iraq's neighbors thinks that it can afford to have the country fall into the hands of the other side. An Iranian "victory" would put the nation's forces in the heartland of the Arab world, bordering Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria; several of these states poured tens of billions of dollars into Saddam Hussein's military to prevent just such an occurrence in the 1980s. Similarly, a Sunni Arab victory (backed by the Jordanians, Kuwaitis and Saudis) would put radical Sunni fundamentalists on Iran's doorstep -- a nightmare scenario for Tehran.
Add in, too, each country's interest in preventing its rivals from capturing Iraq's oil resources. If these states are unable to achieve their goals through clandestine intervention, they will have a powerful incentive to launch a conventional invasion.
* * *
Much as Americans may want to believe that the United States can just walk away from Iraq should it slide into all-out civil war, the threat of spillover from such a conflict throughout the Middle East means it can't. Instead, Washington will have to devise strategies to deal with refugees, minimize terrorist attacks emanating from Iraq, dampen the anger in neighboring populations caused by the conflict, prevent secession fever and keep Iraq's neighbors from intervening. The odds of success are poor, but, nonetheless, we have to try.
The United States, along with its Asian and European allies, will have to make a major effort to persuade Iraq's neighbors not to intervene in its civil war. Economic aid should be part of such an effort, but will not suffice. For Jordan and Saudi Arabia, it may require an effort to reinvigorate Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, thereby addressing one of their major concerns -- an effort made all the more important and complex in light of the recent conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. For Iran and Syria, it may be a clear (but not cost-free) path toward acceptance back into the international community.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would be extremely difficult for the United States to coerce, and the best Washington might do is to convince them that their intervention is unnecessary because the United States and its allies will take great pains to keep Iran from meddling, which will be one of Riyadh's greatest worries.
When it comes to foreign intervention, Iran is the biggest headache of all. Given its immense interests in Iraq, some involvement is inevitable. For Tehran, and probably for Damascus, the United States and its allies probably will have to put down red lines regarding what is absolutely impermissible -- such as sending uniformed Iranian military units into Iraq or claiming Iraqi territory. Washington and its allies will also have to lay out what they will do if Iran crosses any of those red lines. Economic sanctions would be one possibility, but they could be effective only if the European Union, China, India and Russia all cooperate. On its own, the United States could employ punitive military operations, either to make Iran pay an unacceptable price for one-time infractions or to persuade it to halt ongoing violations of one or more red lines.
Don't Pick Winners
From Washington, it is tempting to consider ways to play one Iraqi faction against another in an effort to manage the civil war from within. The experiences of other powers, however, suggest how difficult this is. The Soviet Union tried to prop up President Najibullah when it left Afghanistan, and Israel used various Maronite militias as its proxies in Lebanon, but they all proved ineffective. Syria tried to use the Palestine Liberation Army to secure its interests in Lebanon, but its failure forced Damascus to invade instead. Washington tried to use a proxy force and intervene directly in Somalia, with equally disastrous results.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine a priori who will prevail in a civil war. The victor is rarely a key player in the country beforehand. Hezbollah did not exist in Lebanon at the start of the civil war there, nor did the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In Iraq, it is not clear which proxy would be the most effective militarily. Many communities are divided, fighting against one another more than against their supposed enemies. Iraq's Shiites may go the way of the Palestinians or the various Lebanese factions, who generally killed more of their own than of their declared enemies.
Manage the Kurds
Should chaos engulf Iraq, the Kurds will understandably want out, but this risks inspiring secessionists elsewhere in Iraq and throughout the region. In return for the Kurds agreeing to postpone formal secession, Washington should offer them extensive economic aid, assistance with refugees and security assurances (perhaps backed by U.S. troops) -- as well as promising support for their eventual independence when Iraq is more stable.
Buffer the Borders
One of Washington's hardest tasks would be to prevent the flow of dangerous people across Iraq's borders in either direction -- refugees, militias, foreign invaders and terrorists.
One option might be to create a system of buffer zones and refugee collection points inside Iraq staffed by U.S. and other coalition personnel. These collection points would be located on major roads, preferably near airstrips along Iraq's border -- thus on the principal routes that refugees would take to flee, providing a good logistical infrastructure to house, feed and otherwise care for tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees. Iraqi refugees would be gathered at these points and held there. In addition, coalition military forces would defend the refugee camps against attack, pacify and disarm them, and patrol large swaths of Iraqi territory nearby.
These zones would serve as "catch basins" for Iraqis fleeing the fighting, offering a secure place to stay within the nation's borders and thus preventing them from destabilizing neighboring countries. At the same time, they would serve as buffers between Iraq and its neighbors, preventing other forms of spillover -- such as militia movements, refugee flows out of Iraq and invasions into Iraq.
The catch-basin concept, while potentially useful, faces at least one big problem: Iran. Unlike Iraq's borders with Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria, the Iranian border is too long and has too many crossing points for it to be policed effectively by smaller numbers of coalition troops. Iran will never allow the United States the access across its territory, let alone logistical support, that would be necessary to make catch-basins along the Iran-Iraq border realistic. Thus, this scheme could make it look as though the United States was turning Iraq over to the Iranians, with the catch-basins effectively preventing intervention by Iraq's Sunni neighbors while doing nothing to deter Iran. For this reason, the United States's clear red lines to Iran about not intervening (at least overtly) would have to be enforced assiduously.
Perhaps most important, the catch-basin proposal requires Americans to endure significant long-term costs -- both in blood and treasure -- in Iraq. The United States would still need to deploy tens of thousands of troops to the nation (albeit on its periphery), as well as supplies to feed and care for hundreds of thousands of refugees. The United States would still occupy parts of Iraq, and the U.S. presence would remain a recruiting poster for the jihadist movement. Finally, all of these costs would have to be endured for as long as the war rages; recall that refugees from the wars in Afghanistan lived away from their homes for more than 20 years.
* * *
No country in recent history has successfully managed the spillovers from a full-blown civil war; in fact, most attempts have failed miserably. Syria spent at least eight years trying to end the Lebanese civil war before the 1989 Taif accords and the 1991 Persian Gulf War gave it the opportunity to finally do so. Israel's 1982 invasion was also a bid to end the Lebanese civil war after its previous efforts to contain it had failed, and when this also failed, Jerusalem tried to go back to managing spillover. By 2000, it was clear that this was again ineffective and so Israel pulled out of Lebanon altogether.
Withdrawing from Lebanon was smart for Israel for many reasons, but it did not end its Lebanon problem -- as the latest conflict showed all too clearly. In the Balkans, the United States and its NATO allies realized that it was impossible to manage the Bosnian or Kosovar civil wars and so in both cases they employed coercion -- including the deployment of massive ground forces -- to bring them to an end.
That point is critical: Ending an all-out civil war typically requires overwhelming military power to nail down a political settlement. It took 30,000 British troops to bring the Irish civil war to an end, 45,000 Syrian troops to conclude the Lebanese civil war, 50,000 NATO troops to stop the Bosnian civil war, and 60,000 to do the job in Kosovo. Considering Iraq's much larger population, it probably would require 450,000 troops to quash an all-out civil war there. Such an effort would require a commitment of enormous military and economic resources, far in excess of what the United States has already put forth.
How Iraq got to this point is now an issue for historians (and perhaps for voters in 2008); what matters today is how to move forward and prepare for the tremendous risks an Iraqi civil war poses for this critical region. The outbreak of a large-scale civil conflict would not relieve us of our responsibilities in Iraq; in fact, it could multiply them. Unfortunately, in the Middle East, one should never assume that the situation can't get worse. It always can -- and usually does.
Daniel L. Byman is director of Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies. Kenneth M. Pollack is research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
? 2006 The Washington Post Company
Reply #363 on:
August 22, 2006, 06:42:22 PM »
The Nuclear Deadlines and a Strengthening Iran
By Kamran Bokhari
For weeks now, Aug. 22 has been marked as a red-letter day: the day Iran would formally respond to the incentives offered by world powers in exchange for a halt to its nuclear program. Given all the other things that have been occurring in the region -- especially the psychological impact that Hezbollah's successful resistance to Israeli forces has had -- there was a good deal of speculation (and in some quarters, trepidation) about what the day would bring. On the extremes, there were those among our readers who suggested Iran would launch a nuclear strike against Israel; others spoke of the potential for a direct U.S. military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
We have not been among those predicting apocalyptic action. It is our view that, despite the presence of some extremists in both the American and Iranian camps, the nations and governments as a whole are rational actors that (rhetoric notwithstanding) will not take actions that threaten their own core interests or survival. In short, actions are governed by very real and practical limitations, regardless of what some may think about Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's mental state or George W. Bush's abilities as a leader.
That said, at least a little craziness surrounding the calendar date was to be expected. And the Iranians made sure to put on a good show.
The day began with reports that Iranian security forces had assaulted and briefly occupied an oil rig operated by Romania's Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) in Iran's territorial waters. The incident (which Iran described as a police action that disrupted a robbery attempt) lasted only a few hours but sent a clear signal that Iran is prepared to escalate matters if Washington moves toward punitive sanctions over the nuclear issue.
Shortly afterward, Tehran issued its formal response to the incentives package -- though details, at this writing, remain secret. Leaks likely will emerge in the coming hours or by evening in the United States. If our thinking is correct, Iran has not yielded to demands that it cease uranium enrichment (as Tehran steadfastly has said that it won't), but instead will have issued a response that plays to and widens political divisions among the five permanent U.N. Security Council (P-5) members and Germany. The complexity of the response will demand considerable deliberation and debate within the P-5+Germany -- inviting infighting and delaying any meaningful action, such as a vote for sanctions against Iran. At this point, it appears that U.N. Security Council resolutions and diplomacy may be reaching the limits of their usefulness.
Events of the coming days will warrant attention, certainly, but the underlying reality is this: The Iranians, correctly or otherwise, perceive that their moment in history has arrived. With the nuclear issue, through Hezbollah, and to some extent in Iraq, they are moving to secure their interests and extend influence -- seeing before them the opportunity to establish Persian, Shiite Iran as a hegemon in the Middle East and a power within the Muslim and wider worlds. And for the United States, like its Western allies, there are few meaningful options left to block it.
The Diplomatic Backdrop
To fully understand this, it's useful to review the recent buildup over the nuclear issue -- and to note that the 34-day Israel-Hezbollah war erupted precisely in the middle of that escalation.
On June 1, the P-5+Germany agreed to a package of incentives and penalties designed to force Iran to give up uranium enrichment. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy adviser, delivered the terms to Tehran, and the White House urged Iran to study them thoroughly before issuing a formal response. No firm deadline was set, but the United States and its European allies indicated that one would be expected within a matter of weeks.
Details of the incentives were kept secret by both sides until July 13. The terms include greater investments in water-power reactors, provisions for Iran to join the World Trade Organization, and the possibility that U.S. and European restrictions on purchases of civilian aircraft and telecommunications equipment from Iran will be lifted if Iran suspends uranium enrichment. The package also lists a "catalog of sanctions" that countries might enact if Iran refuses to halt enrichment.
It was made obvious during this time that the P-5+Germany is less than united over the Iranian nuclear issue; Russia and China retained the right to opt out of U.N. sanctions for Iran, even if enrichment were to continue. In short, Russia and China reportedly could refuse to adopt sanctions of their own, but they would not block attempts by other U.N. members to sanction Iran.
Tehran several times rebuffed pressures to issue its response to the package, saying officials needed time to study the proposal. On June 29, the G-8 foreign ministers said they expected Iran's response to come on July 5, at a meeting between Solana and Iranian national security chief Ali Larijani. At that point, the Iranians made it clear that no response would come before mid-August. Finally, on July 21 (several days after the Israel-Hezbollah conflict had begun), they set the Aug. 22 date in stone.
Throughout all of this, Tehran has steadfastly stated that it will not suspend enrichment. Thus, in the midst of the Israeli-Hezbollah war, the U.N. Security Council passed legally binding Resolution 1696, setting Aug. 31 as the deadline for uranium enrichment to cease.
There has been no meaningful change in the Iranian stance since the resolution was passed. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on Aug. 16, did say Tehran was willing to negotiate about enrichment suspension, so long as Iran's right to pursue enrichment in the future remained unquestioned and world powers ceased to question Tehran's intentions for its nuclear program. Significantly, Mottaki called, on the same day, for Western states to re-evaluate their relations with Muslim countries in light of the emerging reality in the Middle East -- clearly referencing the outcome of the Israel-Hezbollah war.
A New Regional Paradigm?
The outcome of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah has given Iran the opportunity to strengthen the influence it wields in the Levant, while also bolstering perceptions that any attempts to solve the nuclear issue militarily could be very costly.
The Israelis' mismanagement of the war effort worked to the advantage of the Iranians, who are intimating to other Muslim states that Israel not only is not an invincible military power, but now is a power in decline. At a higher level, the war also has divided Arab states into two camps -- pro- and anti-Hezbollah -- and, at the same time, allowed Iran, through its sponsorship of Hezbollah, to project itself as the leader of all Muslim groups in the struggle against Israel.
Given the psychological impacts that Hezbollah's successful resistance brings throughout the region, it is little surprise that Iran is surging forward with new, and probably excessive, confidence. From Tehran's standpoint, this is the perfect moment to press its advantage and establish itself as a regional hegemon and global player.
Events of the last few days should be viewed very much in this light.
For instance, during the weekend, a new round of Iranian military exercises -- the second this summer -- commenced, unveiling the country's new defense doctrine. The first stage of the war games -- code-named "Zarbat Zolfaghar," or "The Blow of Zolfaghar" (a reference to the double-pointed scimitar of Imam Ali) occurred in Sistan-Baluchistan, a province in the southeast, and will continue in 15 other provinces in the country over the next five weeks. During the battle drills, the military test-fired 10 surface-to-surface Saegheh missiles, which have a range of 50-150 miles.
Iran also unveiled what it calls a new "air mine system," which officials claimed could be used from low and high altitudes, and in general has upgraded its entire air defense system. These are attempts to mitigate Iran's vulnerability, since it lacks an air force. In fact, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hassan Dadras, commander of Iranian ground forces, said on Saturday that no air force in the region would be capable of confronting the Iranian army. This seems to have excluded the United States, a non-regional power.
Along with that, the army's commander-in-chief, Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, made the interesting statement that the Iranian military is prepared to meet any threat from Israel, which he described as an "insane enemy."
And if the situation wasn't highly charged enough, there was an apparently deliberate escalation of a commercial dispute involving Romania's GSP. This seemed designed to generate jitters in the oil markets without directly harming Iranian interests.
From all appearances, the Iranians and their Shiite allies in the region are quite confident that this is their moment. We do not expect this to lead to any of the more extreme outcomes that have been speculated -- distances, for instance, argue against a direct strike by Iran against Israel -- but the political and military dynamics of the region certainly are shifting.
The Iraq Angle
As a result, the situation in Iraq must be considered carefully. As the Israel-Hezbollah conflict drew to a close, U.S.-Iranian exchanges concerning Iraq began to take on a more confrontational tone. Larijani, for example, on Aug. 7 accused Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, of meeting with terrorist groups there and encouraging attacks against Iranian and Shiite targets. Khalilzad's retorts over the following days were rather ambiguous, but he essentially accused Iran of using agents to foment sectarian violence in Iraq and to stage attacks against U.S.-led forces -- in retaliation, he suggested, for Israeli strikes in Lebanon.
These statements were clarified a bit on Aug. 14: Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said there "is nothing that we definitively have found to say that there are any Iranians operating within the country of Iraq," though the Americans believe that "some Shia elements have been in Iran receiving training." Caldwell said it is not clear how much the government of Iran knows about or endorses such activity.
Ultimately, the American fear appears to be that Iran, if backed into a corner, would use the Shiite militias in Iraq against the United States. To an extent, this is a reasonable fear, but there also are reasons why Iran would not be willing to push things beyond the level of "managed chaos."
For one thing, it is not in Iran's interest for Iraq to descend into full civil war, since uncontrolled sectarian violence could lead to repercussions on the Iranian side of the border. In fact, the political and financial investments that Iran has been making in Iraq would indicate that Tehran wants to make sure the situation, though violent, does not spin utterly out of control.
The Iranians have realized that they will not be able to exert any more influence over Baghdad than they can now, through the Shiite-dominated government -- so the goal is to make sure that Tehran secures the gains it has made in Iraq. Moreover, Iran is well aware of the delicate ethnic and political balance that holds the government in Baghdad together and keeps the intra-Shiite rivalries within acceptable parameters.
If our assumption holds -- that Iran will escape any punitive consequences for its actions on the nuclear front -- this fear of uncontrolled chaos in Iraq could be one of the few points of leverage left for the United States. It is a weak card in what is certainly a bad hand for Washington, and poses great risks for the Bush administration itself. However, if the Americans are incapable of achieving their own goals in Iraq or in the nuclear issue, the next best option would be to ensure, through their own political maneuverings with the Sunnis, that the Iranians will not be able to achieve their goals either.
Latest Moves, Next Moves
As we issue this report, developments in the last 24 hours have been these:
Solana and Larijani spoke by phone on Aug. 21, saying they were open to "further contacts" about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said "suspension of uranium enrichment has now turned practically impossible."
Foreign Ministry officials said Tehran's response to the incentives package would be "multi-dimensional" and hopefully lead to a comprehensive negotiated settlement.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran will continue its pursuit of nuclear technology.
Tehran barred U.N. nuclear inspectors from an underground nuclear facility at Natanz, and the chairman of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said a bill is being drafted that would require inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency to cease immediately if sanctions are placed on Iran.
The Iranians delivered their point-by-point counteroffer to the P-5+Germany, saying they were offering a fresh approach and are ready for "serious negotiations," beginning Aug. 23.
Clearly, the Iranians have spent the past several weeks preparing not only the terms of their counteroffer, but also the international atmosphere in which those terms would be presented. Their goal has been to make sufficient positive gestures that not only Russia and China, but perhaps European powers as well, might be loathe to side with the United States over possible sanctions. At the same time, they have been sufficiently bellicose to ensure the world knows there will be international repercussions if things don't go their way.
The United States itself lacks political leverage over Iran, and the diplomatic process -- as it currently stands -- will not bring about the results Washington seeks. Therefore, the Bush administration's best option is to ensure that even if Tehran wins the current diplomatic battle, it will not win the entire war over uranium enrichment. We would expect Washington to argue that since there is no way to guarantee the Iranians will honor any deal they make on the nuclear issue, no deals can be made.
At most, the United States will open a new process to discuss the process of slapping eventual sanctions on Iran. Moreover, the pick-and-choose menu that was included in the June incentives package basically ensures that no meaningful sanctions will be enacted, even if U.N. Security Council members should eventually choose to go that route. All of the sound and fury over the incentives package will, in the end, signify next to nothing.
And Iran is well aware of this. So long as a military option is not on the table for the U.N. Security Council members -- and at this point, it is not -- it appears that Iran will emerge unscathed from this contest.
This should not be taken to mean that Iran will be on the fast track for acquiring nuclear weapons, since that is a function of technology rather than politics. But it does mean that Iran is growing stronger within a region where, on all sides, fundamental interests and assumptions are now being reassessed.
Reply #364 on:
August 22, 2006, 07:04:08 PM »
My second post of the afternoon:
Clausewitz and World War IV
BY Maj. Gen. ROBERT H. SCALES (ret.)
The essence of every profession is expressed in the writings of its unifying theorists: Freud for psychology, Adam Smith on economics, Justice Marshall on law, and ? depending on one's preferences ? Marx or Jefferson on governance. War is no exception. The 19th-century Prussian writer Carl von Clausewitz is regarded as a prophet whose views on the character and nature of war have held up best over the past two centuries.
Periodically, changes in the culture, technology, economics or demographics induce movements to revise the classic masters. After the Great Depression, Keynes amended Smith, behavioralists supplanted Freud, Marshall gave way to Oliver Holmes, who eventually surrendered to the revisionist doctrines of Hugo Black and Earl Warren. The profession of arms, perhaps more than any other profession, has been ? is "blessed" the right word? ? by intellectual revisionists more frequently perhaps because armed conflict is the most complex, changeable and unpredictable of all human endeavors. And history has shown, tragically, that failure to amend theories of conflict in time has had catastrophic consequences for the human race.
Changes in theories of war come most often during periods of historical discontinuity. Events after 9/11 clearly show that we are in such a period now. Unfortunately, contemporary revisionists to the classical master have not been well treated in today's practical laboratory of real war. In the moment before Sept. 11, 2001, the great hope was that technology would permit the creation of new theories of war. This view, influenced by the historical successes of the U.S. in exploiting technology, has been carried to extremes by some proponents of "effects-based and net-centric operations." These true believers visualized that sensors, computers and telecommunications networks would "lift the fog of war." They postulated that victory would be assured when admirals and generals could sit on some lofty perch and use networks to see, sense and kill anything that moved about the battlefield. Actions of the enemy in Iraq have made these techno-warriors about as credible today as stockbrokers after the Great Depression.
Theory abhors a vacuum as much as nature, so newer revisionists have popped up in profusion to fill the void left by the collapse of technocentric theories of war. One philosophy proposes to build a new theory of war around organizational and bureaucratic efficiency. Build two armies, so the proponents argue, one to fight and the other to administer, and the new age of more flexible and adaptive military action will begin. Another group of theorists seeks to twist the facts of history into a pattern that brings us to a fourth generation of warfare, one that makes all Clausewitzian theories of state-on-state warfare obsolete. Thus Western states are threatened by an amorphous, globally based insurgent movement. The inconvenience of Middle Eastern states collapsing and reforming in the midst of a state-dependent terrorist environment makes this fourth generationalist assault on the master difficult to sustain, if not actually embarrassing.
To be generous, each of these revisions contains some elements of truth. But none satisfies sufficiently to give confidence that Clausewitz can be amended, much less discarded. To be sure, networks and sensors are useful, even against terrorists, particularly in ground warfare at the tactical level. Armies should be reorganized to fight irregular wars more efficiently. And the influence of the state in irregular war must be revised to accommodate the realities of nonstate threats or, perhaps more accurately, not-yet-state threats; Osama bin Laden's first desire is for his own caliphate, or even emirate. But at the end of the day ? and in light of the bitter experiences of recent years ? it's clear that none of these rudimentary attempts at revision possesses the intellectual heft or durability to challenge the tenets of the classic master of conflict theory.
The age of 'amplifiers'
Enter Alan Beyerchen, distinguished historian at Ohio State University. He's adopted a fundamentally different approach and by doing so has captured the intellectual high ground in the battle to amend theory in light of modern war's realities: Beyerchen would embrace rather than replace the master. Beyerchen has developed a taxonomy of war in the modern era in terms of four world wars. Each war was shaped by what he calls "amplifying factors." Amplifiers are not "multipliers" or "enablers" in that their influence on the course of war is nonlinear rather than linear; amplifiers don't simply accelerate the trends of the past, they make war different.
For example, World War I was a chemists' war in that the decisive strategic advantage on the battlefield was driven in large measure by new applications of chemistry and chemical engineering. The war should have ended for the Germans in 1915 when their supplies of gunpowder nitrates exhausted. But the synthesis of nitrates by German scientists allowed the war to continue for another three horrific years. World War II was a physicists' war. To paraphrase Churchill, the atom bomb ended the conflict, but exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum in the form of the wireless and radar won it for the allies. "World War III" was the "information researchers'" war, a war in which intelligence and knowledge of the enemy and the ability to fully exploit that knowledge allowed the U.S. to defeat the Soviet Union with relatively small loss of life.
The information age
Most strikingly, Beyerchen places what is popularly known as "transformation" at the end rather than the beginning of an epoch in which the microchip accelerated the technology of the information age but only after the culmination point of the information age was reached and the war was substantially won. In other words, the value of net-centrism as an amplifier ? a factor that fundamentally shapes the nature of conflict ? has passed; its formative influence on the course of war is over. Al-Qaida's success in Iraq simply drives the last nail in its coffin.
Think of the shifts between world wars as tectonic rather than volcanic events. The physicists' war did not simply erupt to supplant the chemists' war. Their respective influences as amplifiers simply diminished over time. Amplifiers still retain influence: Armies still use chemistry and physics (and most certainly networks) to gain advantage on the battlefield. The danger is that a military force will remain devoted to an amplifier long after it can no longer offer truly decisive returns. Thus, by Beyerchen's logic, we may be spending trillions on old amplifiers, on better chemistry, better physics and better information technologies, only to gain marginal improvements, a few additional few knots of speed, bits of bandwidth and centimeters of precision. In doing so, the question that begs itself is: Are we ignoring the amplifying factor that promises to be truly decisive, that might win World War IV at very little cost?
In searching for this "emerging amplifier," Beyerchen returns to Clausewitz's basic insight: that war is influenced primarily by human beings rather than technology or bureaucracy. The problem in the past has been that the human factor could never be a significant amplifier simply because its influence was relatively fixed and difficult to exploit; humans have been considered constants more than variables. Yes, soldiers could be made better through conditioning, selection, psychological tuning and, since the last century, through education. But, ultimately, the human factor has usually come down to numbers. Bigger battalions make better armies. Clausewitz did allow for the amplifying factor of genius in war ? he fought repeatedly against Napoleon. But he conceded that human frailties made the identification and nurturing of genius problematic.
Winning World War IV
Beyerchen's idea is that the human and social sciences will change Clausewitz's perception of the constancy of the human influence in war. In effect, he argues that we are beginning the tectonic shift into World War IV, the epoch when the controlling amplifier will be human and biological rather than organizational or technological. From his theory we can postulate a new vision of the battlefield, one that shifts from the traditional linear construct to a battlefield that is amoebic in shape; it is distributed, dispersed, nonlinear, and essentially formless in space and unbounded in time. This war and all to follow will be what I would call "psycho-cultural" wars.
Let's come down from the clouds a bit: Experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan have convinced many in the military intellectual community of the value of psycho-cultural factors in war, but the idea that these factors are now decisive, that indeed they comprise the battle space, may be a tough sell. After all, American forces have won three world wars through the efficient application of technology. And we have grown generations of generals who have been taught and have learned by their own experience that victories come from building better things. Our fixation on technology ? our very technological success ? has led us to believe that the soldier is a system and the enemy is a target. Soldiers are now viewed, especially by this U.S. Defense Department, as an "overhead expense," not a source of investment. Viewing war too much as a contest of technologies, we have become impatient and detached from those forms of war that do not fit our paradigms. Technocentric solutions are in our strategic cultural DNA.
Moreover, even if we were not burdened with the baggage of our past successes, trying to divine the depths of the coming human and biological era of war would be as problematic today as anticipating the arrival of the digital age immediately after World War II. Wars, blessedly, are fought infrequently, and epoch-defining conflicts are even more rare. Our base of experience for anticipating future events is limited to experimenting in the laboratory of war; we only discover that tectonic plates are moving when we feel the ground shake. We can perhaps say that Korea and the first Afghan war are the alpha and omega of World War III but can only dimly begin to see the plates of our new world war.
And so let us stipulate that Iraq and the second Afghan war are the beginnings of a new era, but let's also be extremely cautious not to forecast so much as to anticipate what these wars portend from the human and cultural perspective. Let's not look for a level of precision or prediction that we cannot achieve and is likely to lead us astray.
Building on Beyerchen, here's what I anticipate current conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere are telling us about what is to come. In a nutshell: World War IV will cause a shift in classical centers of gravity from the will of governments and armies to the perceptions of populations. Victory will be defined more in terms of capturing the psycho-cultural rather than the geographical high ground. Understanding and empathy will be important weapons of war. Soldier conduct will be as important as skill at arms. Culture awareness and the ability to build ties of trust will offer protection to our troops more effectively than body armor. Leaders will seek wisdom and quick but reflective thought rather than operational and planning skills as essential intellectual tools for guaranteeing future victories.
As in all past world wars, clashes of arms will occur. But future combat will be tactical, isolated, precise and most likely geographically remote, unexpected and often terribly brutal and intimate. Strategic success will come not from grand sweeping maneuvers but rather from a stacking of local successes, the sum of which will be a shift in the perceptual advantage ? the tactical schwerpunkt, the point of decision, will be very difficult to see and especially to predict. As seems to be happening in Iraq, for a time the enemy may well own the psycho-cultural high ground and hold it effectively against American technological dominance. Perceptions and trust are built among people, and people live on the ground. Thus, future wars will be decided principally by ground forces, specifically the Army, Marine Corps, Special Forces and the various reserve formations that support them.
Clausewitz tells us that the side that holds the initiative will ultimately prevail. In this new era, the initiative will be owned by the side that controls time. As retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, former commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, is fond of saying, "In Afghanistan, Americans have all the wrist watches but Afghans have all the time." The enemy will attempt to control the clock with the strategic intent of winning by not losing. He will use the clock to wear down American resolve. Management of the clock will allow him to use patience as a means to offset American superiority in killing power. His hope is to leverage our impatience to cause us to overreact with inappropriate use of physical violence. Perception control will be achieved and opinions shaped by the side that best exploits the global media. And there is another sense of the clock that is important to appreciate. We are in a race between the rogue states or nonstate terrorists acquiring and using nuclear weapons versus our acquiring and deploying enough psycho-cultural armament to beat them on the ground. But even without nukes, the enemy has a natural advantage. He presents a paradox that plays to his intrinsic strengths. You must support us, he says, in spite of our brutality, or support the outsider who may be more humane but who is not part of our religion, culture, clan, tribe or ethnicity. And, he can say, I will always be here; will the Americans?
The Elements of Victories
How can we discover the path to victory in these future wars? Chemistry had little practical wartime utility when the irreducible elements of knowledge were earth, air, fire and water. During World War I, chemists learned to analyze and design molecules for desired functions. Applications quickly emerged for explosives, propulsion and poison gas. Only in the past few decades have the foundations of the social sciences advanced to the point that they might become the elements for victory. And until the military intellectual community acknowledges that virtually all failures in Afghanistan and Iraq were human rather than technological ? perhaps still an open question ? will the social sciences attract much interest as amplifiers. Can we yet say we understand the enemy's culture and intent? The evidence thus far is that we have been intellectually, culturally, sociologically and psychologically unprepared for this kind of war. To me, the bottom line is clear: If the single most important objective for the first three world wars was to make better machines, then surely the fourth world war corollary will be to make better soldiers, more effective humans. To do so, soldiers need improved social science in nine areas:
Cultural awareness: In Iraq, a curtain of cultural ignorance continues to separate the good intentions of the American soldier from Iraqis of good will. Inability to speak the language and insensitive conduct become real combat vulnerabilities that the enemy has exploited to his advantage. The military of the future must be able to go to war with enough cultural knowledge to thrive in an alien environment. Empathy will become a weapon. Soldiers must gain the ability to move comfortably among alien cultures, to establish trust and cement relationships that can be exploited in battle. Not all are fit for this kind of work. Some will remain committed to fighting the kinetic battle. But others will come to the task with intuitive cultural court sense, an innate ability to connect with other cultures. These soldiers must be identified and nurtured just as surely as the Army selects out those with innate operational court sense.
Social science can help select soldiers very early who possess social and cultural intelligence. Likewise, scientific psychology can assist in designing and running cultural immersion institutions that will hasten the development of culturally adept soldiers and intelligence agents. Cultural psychology can teach us to better understand both common elements of human culture and how they differ. An understanding of these commonalities and differences can help gain local allies, fracture enemy subgroups, avoid conflicts among allies, promote beneficial alliances and undermine enemy alliances.
Building alien armies and alliances: World War IV will be manpower-intensive. The U.S. cannot hope to field enough soldiers to be effective wherever the enemy appears. Effective surrogates are needed to help us fight our wars. The Army has a long tradition of creating effective indigenous armies in such remote places as Greece, Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador and now Iraq. But almost without exception, the unique skills required to perform this complex task have never been valued, and those who practice them are rarely rewarded. Today's soldiers would prefer to be recognized as operators rather than advisers. This must change. If our strategic success on a future battlefield will depend on our ability to create armies from whole cloth ? or, as in Iraq, to remove an army that has been part of the problem and make it a part of the solution ? then we must select, promote and put into positions of authority those who know how to build armies. We must cultivate, amplify, research and inculcate these skills in educational institutions reserved specifically for that purpose. We must also do this pre-emptively or prophylactically by building the most suitable psycho-cultural infrastructures, both in the theater of war and at home.
Reply #365 on:
August 22, 2006, 07:05:27 PM »
Perception shaping as art, not science: People in many regions of the world hate us. They have been led to these beliefs by an enemy whose perception-shaping effort is as brilliant as it is diabolical. If the center of gravity in World War IV is the perception of the people, then perhaps we should learn how the enemy manipulates the people. Information technology will be of little use in this effort. Damage is only amplified when inappropriate, culturally insensitive or false messages are sent over the most sophisticated information networks. Recent advances in the social psychology of leadership and persuasion can help train soldiers to win acceptance of local populations and obtain better intelligence from locals. Recent cognitive behavioral therapy has documented remarkably effective techniques for countering fear and abiding hatred such as we see in the Middle East. Our challenge is to create a human science intended specifically for shaping opinions, particularly among alien peoples. This task is too big for a single service or event for the Defense Department. It must be a national effort superintended by distinguished academics and practitioners in the human sciences who understand such things, rather than by policy-makers who have proven in Iraq that they do not.
Inculcate knowledge and teach wisdom: In Iraq and Afghanistan, junior soldiers and Marines today are asked to make decisions that in previous wars were reserved for far more senior officers. A corporal standing guard in Baghdad or Fallujah can commit an act that might well affect the strategic outcome of an entire campaign. Yet the intellectual preparation of these very junior leaders is no more advanced today than it was during World War III. However, the native creativity, innovativeness and initiative exhibited by these young men and women belie their woeful lack of psycho-social preparation.
Learning to deal with the human and cultural complexities of this era of war will take time. Leaders, intelligence officers and soldiers must be given the time to immerse themselves in alien cultures and reflect on their profession. Yet in our haste to put more soldiers and Marines in the field, we risk breaking the intellectual institutions that create opportunities to learn. Today, we are contracting out our need for wisdom by hiring civilians to teach in military schools and colleges. Educational science has long understood that reading and listening are the least effective means for retaining or increasing knowledge. Teaching is at least an order of magnitude more effective, while researching and writing are far better still.
Tactical intelligence: The value of tactical intelligence ? knowledge of the enemy's actions or intentions sufficiently precise and timely to kill him ? has been demonstrated in Iraq and Afghanistan. Killing power is of no use unless a soldier on patrol knows who to kill. We should take away from our combat experience a commitment to leverage human sciences to make the tactical view of the enemy clearer and more certain, to be able to differentiate between the innocents and the enemy by reading actions to discern intentions.
The essential tools necessary to make a soldier a superb intelligence gatherer must be imbedded in his brain rather than placed in his rucksack. He must be taught to perceive his surroundings in such a way that he can make immediate intuitive decisions about the intentions of those about him. His commanders must be taught to see the battlefield through the eyes of his soldiers. He must make decisions based on the gut feel and developed intuition that come from an intelligence gatherer's ability to see what others cannot. There is a growing science of intuition and gut feeling, and these capabilities might be enhanced by this new capability and its allied technology. Machines and processes might make intelligence easier to parse and read. But knowing the enemy better than he knows us is inherently a psycho-cultural rather than a technological, organizational or procedural challenge.
Psychological and physiological tuning: Life sciences offer promise that older, more mature soldiers will be able to endure the physical stresses of close combat for longer periods. This is important because experience strongly supports the conclusion that older men make better close-combat soldiers. Scientific research also suggests that social intelligence and diplomatic skills increase with age. Older soldiers are more stable in crisis situations, are less likely to be killed or wounded and are far more effective in performing the essential tasks that attend to close-in killing. Experience within special operations units also suggests that more mature soldiers are better suited for fighting in complex human environments. Science can help determine when soldiers are at their cognitive peak. Psychological instruments are available today to increase endurance and sustained attention on the battlefield. Today, conditioning science has succeeded in keeping professional athletes competitive much longer than even a decade ago. These methods should be adapted to prepare ground soldiers as well for the physical and psychological stresses of close combat.
Develop high performing soldiers and small units: Close combat has always been a personal and intimate experience. Close combat is the only skill that cannot be bought off the street or contracted out. In all of our world wars, success of campaigns has been threatened by a shortage of first rate, professional infantrymen. Inevitably, a protracted campaign drains the supply of intimate killers. Many infantrymen are sent into close combat with about four months' preparation. What little social science the research and development community has devote to understanding the human component in war has not been spent on close-combat soldiers. We know far more about pilot and astronaut behavior than we do about those who in the next world war will do most of the killing and dying, the close-combat soldiers. If dead soldiers constitute our greatest weakness in war, then we should, as a matter of national importance, devote resources to making them better.
The enemy has drawn us unwillingly into fighting him at the tactical level of war where the importance of technology diminishes in proportion to the value of intangibles. Thus, winning World War IV will require greater attention to the tactical fight. Technology will play a part, to be sure. Our small units, squads and platoons should be equipped with only the best vehicles, small arms, sensors, radios and self-protection. But more important to victory will be human influencers such as the selection, bonding, and psychological and physical preparation of tactical units.
As the battlefield expands and becomes more uncertain and lethal, it also becomes lonelier and enormously frightening for those obliged to fight close. Most recent American campaigns have been fought in unfamiliar and horrifically desolate terrain and weather. Modern social science offers some promising solutions to this problem. Recently, we have learned that soldiers can now be better tuned psychologically to endure the stresses of close combat. Tests, assessments, role-playing exercises and careful vetting will reduce the percentage of soldiers who suffer from stress disorders after coming off the line.
Cognitive sciences can be leveraged to enhance small-unit training in many ways, from speeding the acquisition and enhancing the retention of foreign languages to training soldiers in command decision simulators to sharpen the ability to make decisions in complex tactical situations. Cognitive sciences can be employed in the creation of highly efficient and flexible training programs that can respond to the ever-changing problems. Models of human cognition can also be used to diagnose performance failures during simulated exercises. These measures can assist in training soldiers to attend to hidden variables and to properly weigh and filter the many factors that determine optimal performance in complex decision-making tasks.
But the social sciences can accelerate the process for building great small units only so much. The one ingredient necessary for creating a closely bonded unit is time. The aging of a good unit, like that of a good wine, cannot be hurried. Platoons need at least a year to develop full body and character. Because the pipeline will be so long and the probability of death so great, the ground services must create many more close-combat units than conventional logic would demand. The lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan is clear: In future wars we can never have too many close-combat units. The performance of small ground units will be so critical to success on the World War IV battlefield that we should replace the World War III methods of mass producing small units and treat them more like professional sports teams with highly paid coaching and dedicated practice with the highest quality equipment and assessment methods.
Leadership and decision-making: World War IV will demand intellectually ambidextrous leaders who are capable of facing a conventional enemy one moment, then shifting to an irregular threat the next moment before transitioning to the task of providing humanitarian solace to the innocent. All of these missions may have to be performed by the same commander simultaneously. Developing leaders with such a varied menu of skills takes time. Unfortunately, World War IV will be long and will occupy ground leaders to the extent that time available to sharpen leadership skills will be at a premium.
There are precedents for developing these skills. In Vietnam, the air services developed "Top Gun" and "Red Flag" exercises as a means of improving the flying skills of new pilots bloodlessly before they faced a real and skilled opponent. Recent advances in the science of intuitive decision-making will give the ground services a similar ability to improve the close-combat decision-making skills of young leaders. Senior commanders will be able to use these tools to select those leaders with the intuitive right stuff. Over time, leaders will be able to measure and assess improvements in their ability to make the right decisions in ever more complex and demanding combat situations. They will have access to coaches and mentors who will pass on newly learned experiences with an exceptional degree of accountability and scientific precision.
Intuitive battle command: The Army and Marine Corps learned in Afghanistan and Iraq that operational planning systems inherited from World War III would no longer work against an elusive and adaptive enemy. They were forced to improvise a new method of campaign planning that emphasized the human component in war. Gut feel and intuition replaced hierarchical, linear processes. They learned to command by discourse rather than formal orders. Information-sharing became ubiquitous, with even the most junior leaders able to communicate in real time with each other and with their seniors. Dedicated soldier networks have fundamentally altered the relationship between leaders and led and have changed forever how the Army and Marine Corps command soldiers in battle.
Developing new and effective command-and-control technologies and procedures will do no good unless we educate leaders to exploit these opportunities fully. We have only begun to leverage the power of the learning sciences to battle command. Teaching commanders how to think and intuit rather than what to think will allow them to anticipate how the enemy will act. Convincing commanders to leave World War III-era decision-making processes in favor of nonlinear intuitive processes will accelerate the pace and tempo of battle. The promise is enormous. But we will only achieve the full potential of this promise if we devote the resources to the research and education necessary to make it happen.
Military leaders have had three world wars to establish comfortable relationships with chemists, physicists and information technologists. This was a marriage of necessity, but it has worked. The relationship between the military and human and behavioral scientists has, to date, been one of antipathy and neglect. Academics and behavioral practitioners have rarely violated the turf of the soldier. Many are turned off by the prospects of relating their professions to war. But most take the war against terrorism seriously. If the Army and Marine Corps give them the opportunity, they will gladly turn the best of their sciences to the future defense of our nation.
We are in a race, and the times demand change. World War IV can only be won by harnessing the social and human sciences as the essential amplifiers of military performance, just as the physical sciences were the amplifiers of past world wars. Such a shift in how the defense community approaches war will require a fundamental shift in military culture. Of course, new planes, ships and combat vehicles will have to be built to win World War IV, but building new social, cultural and learning structures will have to become the first priority for resources within the Defense Department. There is an old saying that the Navy and the Air Force man the equipment and the Army and Marine Corps equip the man. Surely those services that focus on the man rather than the machine should receive a disproportionate share of future defense budgets?
Beyerchen convinces me that we have moved from one world war to the next with little ability to predict how science and human circumstances will dictate our course. We can only imagine how the human and biological sciences will redirect the course of war. What will the new amplifiers be? Will breakthroughs in bioscience make the battlefield more lethal? Will new human and behavioral developments make us more effective in battle? Only time will tell. But none of these questions can be answered by speculation alone. The Defense Department must invest the resources now to realize the potential of psycho-cultural sciences to winning World War IV.
One thing is certain, however: We are in for decades of psycho-social warfare. We must begin now to harness the potential of the social sciences in a manner not dissimilar to the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Project. Perhaps we will need to assemble an A team and build social science institutions similar to Los Alamos or the Kennedy Space Center. Such a transformational change is beyond the resources of a single service, particularly the ground services.
Thus a human and biological revolution will have to be managed and driven by the highest authorities in the nation. I sincerely hope they are listening.
THE EVOLUTION OF WARFARE
THE CHEMISTS' WAR
The decisive strategic advantage on the World War I battlefield was driven by new applications of chemistry and chemical engineering. Germany, for example, exhausted its supplies of gunpowder nitrates in 1915, but the synthesis of nitrates by German scientists allowed the war to continue for another three years.
THE PHYSICISTS' WAR
The atomic bomb ended World War II, but exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum in the form of wireless communications and radar won it for the allies.
THE INFORMATION RESEARCHERS' WAR
In World War III, intelligence and the ability to fully exploit it allowed the U.S. to defeat the Soviet Union. Information-age concepts of transformation and net-centrism mark the end of this epoch.
THE SOCIAL SCIENTISTS' WAR
To win World War IV, the military must be culturally knowledgeable enough to thrive in an alien environment. Victory will be defined more in terms of capturing the psycho-cultural rather than the geographical high ground. Understanding and empathy will be important weapons of war.
■Retired Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales is a former U.S. Army War College commander and deputy chief of staff for doctrine.
You may not be interested in the global jihad, but the global jihad is interested in you.
Reply #366 on:
August 23, 2006, 11:11:22 AM »
It's clear Bush doesn't understand Iraq, or Lebanon, or Gaza, or ?
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006, at 5:48 PM ET
Among the many flabbergasting answers that President Bush gave at his press conference on Monday, this one?about Democrats who propose pulling out of Iraq?triggered the steepest jaw drop: "I would never question the patriotism of somebody who disagrees with me. This has nothing to do with patriotism. It has everything to do with understanding the world in which we live."
George W. Bush criticizing someone for not understanding the world is like ? well, it's like George W. Bush criticizing someone for not understanding the world. It's sui generis: No parallel quite captures the absurdity so succinctly. This, after all, is the president who invaded Iraq without the slightest understanding of the country's ethnic composition or of the volcanic tensions that toppling its dictator might unleash. Complexity has no place in his schemes. Choices are never cloudy. The world is divided into the forces of terror and the forces of freedom: The one's defeat means the other's victory.
Defeating terror by promoting freedom?it's "the fundamental challenge of the 21st century," he has said several times, especially when it comes to the Middle East. But here, from the transcript of the press conference, is how he sees the region's recent events:
"What's very interesting about the violence in Lebanon and the violence in Iraq and the violence in Gaza is this: These are all groups of terrorists who are trying to stop the advance of democracy."
What is he talking about? Hamas, which has been responsible for much of the violence in Gaza, won the Palestinian territory's parliamentary elections. Hezbollah, which started its recent war with Israel, holds a substantial minority of seats in Lebanon's parliament and would probably win many more seats if a new election were held tomorrow. Many of the militants waging sectarian battle in Iraq have representation in Baghdad's popularly elected parliament.
The key reality that Bush fails to grasp is that terrorism and democracy are not opposites. They can, and sometimes do, coexist. One is not a cure for the other.
Here, as a further example of this failing, is his summation of Iraq:
"I hear a lot about "civil war"? [But] the Iraqis want a unified country. ? Twelve million Iraqis voted. ? It's an indication about the desire for people to live in a free society."
What he misses is that those 12 million Iraqis had sharply divided views of what a free society meant. Shiites voted for a unified country led by Shiites, Sunnis voted for a unified country led by Sunnis, and Kurds voted for their own separate country. Almost nobody voted for a free society in any Western sense of the term. (The secular parties did very poorly.)
The total number of voters, in such a context, means nothing. Look at American history. In the 1860 election, held right before our own Civil War, 81.2 percent of eligible citizens voted?the second-largest turnout ever.
Another comment from the president: "It's in our interests that we help reformers across the Middle East achieve their objectives." But who are these reformers? What are their objectives? And how can we most effectively help them?
This is where Bush's performance proved most discouraging. He said, as he's said before, "Resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists." This may or may not be true. (Many terrorist leaders are well-off, and, according to some studies, their resentment is often aimed at foreign occupiers.) In any case, what is Bush doing to reduce their resentment?
He said he wants to help Lebanon's democratic government survive, but what is he doing about that? Bush called the press conference to announce a $230 million aid package. That's a step above the pathetic $50 million that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had offered the week before, but it's still way below the $1 billion or more than Iran is shoveling to Hezbollah, which is using the money to rebuild Lebanon's bombed-out neighborhoods?and to take credit for the assistance.
As for Iraq, it's no news that Bush has no strategy. What did come as news?and, really, a bit of a shocker?is that he doesn't seem to know what "strategy" means. Asked if it might be time for a new strategy in Iraq, given the unceasing rise in casualties and chaos, Bush replied, "The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and dreams, which is a democratic society. That's the strategy. ? Either you say, 'It's important we stay there and get it done,' or we leave. We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president."
The reporter followed up, "Sir, that's not really the question. The strategy?"
Bush interrupted, "Sounded like the question to me."
First, it's not clear that the Iraqi people want a "democratic society" in the Western sense. Second, and more to the point, "helping Iraqis achieve a democratic society" may be a strategic objective, but it's not a strategy?any more than "ending poverty" or "going to the moon" is a strategy.
Strategy involves how to achieve one's objectives?or, as the great British strategist B.H. Liddell Hart put it, "the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy." These are the issues that Bush refuses to address publicly?what means and resources are to be applied, in what way, at what risk, and to what end, in pursuing his policy. Instead, he reduces everything to two options: "Cut and run" or, "Stay the course." It's as if there's nothing in between, no alternative way of applying military means. Could it be that he doesn't grasp the distinction between an "objective" and a "strategy," and so doesn't see that there might be alternatives? Might our situation be that grim?
Reply #367 on:
August 23, 2006, 12:50:26 PM »
"We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president."
What exactly can we take this to mean?
Is he prepared to defy Congress if (in the unlikely event) they impose a deadline on withdrawal from Iraq?
What if the present "sovereign" Iraqi government calls for us to withdraw? Will Bush simply organize a coup and install a new government?
Reply #368 on:
August 23, 2006, 05:04:11 PM »
Quote from: rogt on August 23, 2006, 12:50:26 PM
"We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president."
What exactly can we take this to mean?
Sounds perfectly clear to me: as long as Mr. Bush is president of the United States of America he will endeavor by all legal means to keep the American armed presence in Iraq. I'm sure glad that Mr. Bush is the American president.?
Reply #369 on:
August 23, 2006, 05:56:46 PM »
Quote from: captainccs on August 23, 2006, 05:04:11 PM
Sounds perfectly clear to me: as long as Mr. Bush is president of the United States of America he will endeavor by all legal means to keep the American armed presence in Iraq.
Another quote from the press conference:
Look, I?m going to do what I think is right and if, you know, if people don?t like me for it, that?s just the way it is.
This is a president who's violated the Geneva Conventions, assumed the authority to spy on American citizens without a warrant, and locked up American citizens indefinitely without charging them with any crime. So it's actually not clear to me that Bush will respect any democratic restraints on his war powers.
I'm sure glad that Mr. Bush is the American president.
Good for you. I sure am glad Hugo Chavez is president of Venezuela.
Reply #370 on:
August 23, 2006, 06:13:23 PM »
Quote from: rogt on August 23, 2006, 05:56:46 PM
Good for you.? I sure am glad Hugo Chavez is president of Venezuela.
? <== the "wink" smily is missing
Winston S. Churchill III on Islamic Fundamentalism
Reply #371 on:
August 23, 2006, 10:01:29 PM »
Churchill on Islamic Fundamentalism
Winston Churchill's grandson says radical Islam at war with the world
By CJ Staff
March 03, 2006
Winston S. Churchill III speaking at the John Locke Foundation's 16th anniversary dinner in Raleigh on Feb. 10.
RALEIGH ? Winston S. Churchill III maintains that Islamic fundamentalism is as destructive as the malevolent "isms" of the 20th century: Nazism, Communism and Facism. In a speech on Feb. 10 at the John Locke Foundation's anniversary dinner, the grandson of Winston Churchill urged the West to stay the course in the fight against extremist Islam.
Here is the text of his speech:
It is both an honor and a pleasure to be your guest here tonight and to have the privilege of addressing the John Locke Foundation. First and foremost, may I congratulate you for honouring the memory of John Locke, who was very much involved in the establishment of the Governments of the Carolinas and who, most important of all, was one of the great philosophers of the English-speaking world.
Locke?s message ? the vital importance of resisting authoritarianism ? is as relevant to the strife-torn times of the world in which we live, as it was in the strife-torn times of the 17th Century. Authoritarianism constantly rears its ugly head, even within our own societies on both sides of the Atlantic, in so many guises and disguises, and in every field, be it religion, government or the military.
At its most extreme, authoritarianism is exemplified by the isms of the 20th Century ? Communism, Fascism and Nazism. The Fascists and Nazis were responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million human beings, while more than 50 million are estimated to have been murdered by Stalin and the Russian Communists, while Mao-Tse-Tung and the Chinese Communists are believed to have accounted for some 80 million.
But today a new challenge ? another ism ? confronts us, and that is the challenge of Islamic fundamentalism. Extremist Islam has declared war on the rest of the world, as evidenced by their ruthless attacks across the globe ? overwhelmingly targeted at innocent civilians. Beside the outrage of 9/11, the bombings in Madrid, in Bali, in London and, most recently, in Jordan come to mind.
Those who have declared jihad against the West, and Western values, such as freedom of speech, are doing all in their power to mobilize against us the large Muslim communities living in our midst. In North America, there are an estimated six million Muslims in the USA, plus a further three-quarter million in Canada; while in the European Union, they number an estimated 20 million, including nearly 2 million in Britain. Unlike most other categories of migrant, the Muslims are reluctant to assimilate and, all too often, wish to pursue their own agenda.
Unbelievably, Washington is urging Europe to admit Turkey to the EU. Were that to happen, the Muslim population of Europe would skyrocket to 100 million ? an act, in my view, of consummate folly. Already Judeo-Christian Europe is under siege from a tidal wave of Islamic immigration. The admission of Turkey would hasten its demise. While I have a great regard for the Turks, the only democracy in the Muslim world and stalwart members of NATO, I am firmly opposed to their admission to the EU. I would accord them most-favoured nation status, but not the right to settle in Western Europe and become EU citizens.
The scale of the problem confronting Europe today is epitomized by France, which has a Muslim community of some 6 million, or 10 percent of its population. But, if you take the population aged 20 and below, the figure rockets to 30 percent, such is the birthrate of the immigrant communities. In other words, within one further generation, France will be a Muslim country ? a truly horrifying prospect.
At the same time it is vital that, in our pursuit of the men and women of terror ? we do all we can, not to alienate these large Muslim communities already established among us. For, without the active support of the Muslim communities, we shall never excise this deadly cancer in our midst.
Intriguingly, the dangers of extremist Islam were foreseen by Winston Churchill all of 85 years ago, as I discovered to my amazement, while compiling my most recent book NEVER GIVE IN! The Best of Winston Churchill?s Speeches.
Churchill is, of course, well-known for his gift of prescience and, specifically, for being the first to warn of the menace of Hitler and Nazism as early as 1932, and of the Soviet threat in his famous Iron Curtain speech in 1946 in Fulton, Mo. But how many know that he also warned the world of the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism? I certainly did not!
On 14 June 1921, hard on the heels of the Cairo Conference, at which he had presided over the re-shaping of the Middle East, including the creation of modern day Iraq, he warned the House of Commons:
A large number of [Saudi Arabia?s King] Bin Saud?s followers belong to the Wahabi sect, a form of Mohammedanism which bears, roughly speaking, the same relationship to orthodox Islam as the most militant form of Calvinism would have borne to Rome in the fiercest times of [Europe?s] religious wars.
The Wahabis profess a life of exceeding austerity, and what they practice themselves they rigorously enforce on others. They hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children. Women have been put to death in Wahabi villages for simply appearing in the streets.
It is a penal offence to wear a silk garment. Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette and, as for the crime of alcohol, the most energetic supporter of the temperance cause in this country falls far behind them. Austere, intolerant, well-armed, and blood-thirsty, in their own regions the Wahabis are a distinct factor which must be taken into account, and they have been, and still are, very dangerous to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina?
In Churchill?s day, of course, the viciousness and cruelty of the Wahabis was confined to the Saudi Arabia peninsula, and their atrocities were directed exclusively against their fellow Muslims, whom they held to be heretics for not adhering to the Wahabi creed ? but not anymore.
Today the combination of the oil wealth of Saudi Arabia and the supine weakness of the Saudi royal family which ? as the price for not having their own behavior subjected to scrutiny and public criticism by these austere, extremist clerics ? has bank-rolled the Wahabi fundamentalist movement, and given these fanatical zealots a global reach to their vicious creed of hatred and extremism.
The consequence has been that the Wahabis have been able to export their exceptionally intolerant brand of Islamic fundamentalism from Mauritania and Morocco on Africa?s Atlantic shores, through more than two dozen countries including Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, to as far afield as the Philippines and East Timor in the Pacific. This is the stark challenge that today confronts the Western world and I fear it will be with us, not just for a matter of years, but perhaps even for generations.
Just in the past two weeks the temperature in the Middle East has risen markedly with three significant developments. First, we have seen the wild and furious reaction, whipped up by firebrand clerics throughout the Islamic world, to the publication some five months ago in a Danish newspaper of a cartoon depicting the prophet with a smoking bomb in his turban, as tattered suicide bombers were being greeted at the Muslim pearly gates by a gate-keeper shooing them away and shouting: ?Get lost! We?ve run out of Virgins!? The fury that this mild piece of satire engendered, epitomizes the clash of civilizations that is the key factor confronting us today.
Secondly, the stunning election victory in the Palestinian elections of Hamas ? a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel ? provided a rude shock to those in Washington who naively imagined that democracy would provide the answer to the problems of the Middle East. For many within the Beltway, free elections have been an article of faith, even though it was in a free election that Hitler first came to power, before establishing his Nazi dictatorship.
Such is the anger of the Moslem world against the West, inflamed by extremist clerics and fanned by the Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia television networks, that truly democratic and free elections would result in the election of fundamentalist governments throughout the Muslim world. It is a frightening fact, that in 50 Muslim countries countless millions of Muslims tell pollsters that they regard Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri as more trustworthy than President Bush.
The third and by far the most serious development, is the decision of the Iranian government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to remove the U.N. seals from its nuclear research facilities. He it is who not only denies the Holocaust ever happened, but who declares that Israel is a ?tumor? that should be ?wiped off the map?! Some Western analysts state that the Iranian president doesn?t really mean what he says. There were, of course, many who said just that of Hitler?s Mein Kampf, and we saw the result.
Having reported events ? including two wars ? in the Middle East over the past 45 years, I think I know the Israelis well enough to say that Israel is not about to wait to find out whether or not the Iranian president means what he says. In 1981 Israel took decisive steps to take out Saddam Hussein?s Osirak nuclear facility with a long-range air strike. I do not see how she can fail to do the same in the case of the even greater threat posed to Israel by a nuclear-armed Iran.
This time it will not be so easy, as the mullahs have dispersed their nuclear facilities across 16 sites and built them deep underground, making them far more difficult to attack. But with 500 ?bunker-busting? bombs from the U.S. and precision-guidance technology they will certainly make a mess of the place. The whole Muslim world will be enflamed with outrage and Iran?s reaction may well be to deploy 100,000 guerrilla fighters to Iraq to fight the Americans and British ? not a happy thought.
But even before these developments, siren voices could already be heard on Capitol Hill, raising the cry: ?Bring the Boys home.? I tell you: Nothing could be more disastrous than if, at this juncture, the United States were to cut and run. It would, at a stroke, undermine those forces of moderation we are seeking to establish in power, betray our troops as they fight a difficult, but necessary, battle, and break faith with those of our soldiers who have sacrificed their lives to establish a free Iraq.
Gravest of all, we should be handing a victory of gigantic proportions to our sworn enemies. Let no one imagine that by pulling out of Iraq, the threat will simply evaporate. On the contrary, it will redouble, it will come closer to home and our enemies will have established in Iraq the very base that, by our defeat of the Taliban, we have denied them in Afghanistan. We shall see a desperately weakened United States, with its armed forces undermined and demoralized, increasingly at the mercy of our terrorist enemies.
Precipitate withdrawal is the counsel of defeatism and cowardice, which, if it holds sway, will immeasurably increase the dangers that today confront, not just America, but the entire Western world. It is something for which we shall pay a terrible price in the years ahead. When great nations go to war ? and they should do so only as a last resort ? they must expect to suffer grievous losses and must commit to war with an unconquerable resolve to secure victory.
In Iraq the United States has lost some 2,200 men and women, Britain just over 100. Compare that to the first day of the Battle of the Somme ? 1 July 1916 ? when the British Army in a single day, nay, before breakfast, lost 55,000 men killed, wounded or missing in action. Did we talk of quitting?
What has happened to the mighty United States? Is it going soft? Are the elected representatives of the American people ready to surrender to those who threaten their homeland ? indeed their civilian population ? with death and destruction? I pray that they are not, and I call to mind the words of my grandfather, addressing the Canadian Parliament on New Year's Day 1941, in which ? referring to the British nation dwelling around the globe, but it applies equally to our American cousins today ? when he declared:
are a tough and hardy people! We have not travelled across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains & across the prairies, because we're made of sugar candy!
In conclusion, I would remind you ? and especially the legislators on Capitol Hill ? of Winston Churchill?s words to the House of Commons on becoming prime minister in May 1940, which applies every bit as much to the situation that confronts us today.
You ask: What is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror. However long or hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.
Provided we have the courage to stay the course, I am convinced that we can, in the end, prevail. Any alternative is too terrible to contemplate. There are no quick, easy solutions; on the contrary it will be a long, hard slog. But more leadership is needed from on high and, above all, more guts and determination if we are to see this through to victory.
Let us fight the good fight ? and let us fight it together! How pleased my grandfather would be to know that ? 40 years on from his death ? the Anglo-American alliance is still strong and that British and American soldiers stand shoulder-to-shoulder in Iraq and in Afghanistan, confronting the peril of the hour! Long may we stand together! God bless America!
Reply #372 on:
August 24, 2006, 11:12:01 AM »
Sweating out the truth in Iran
Published: August 24, 2006
TEHRAN - Working as a journalist in Iran embodies the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again without getting any results. That's how I felt at the height of the conflict in Lebanon, when I asked officials about Iran's relations with Hezbollah, bearing in mind that posing such questions can be a futile, dangerous and sometimes even lethal exercise.
How was Iran helping Hezbollah? Did Iran really start the war to divert attention from its uranium enrichment program (which it vowed this week to continue)? Was Iran, as Hezbollah's ally, if not patron, willing to put its money where its mouth was and enter the conflict?
Questions, questions. Of course no one answered.
So as a good Iranian, I indulged in fantasy. Fantasizing has become something of a national sport here. Our president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, predicted that the national soccer team would finish third or fourth in the World Cup. He also thinks we can become a nuclear powerhouse, even though we have a hard time manufacturing safety matches or making light bulbs with life expectancies of more than two weeks. (By the way, the soccer team didn't make it out of the first round.)
The setting of my dream was a sauna, where I questioned an imaginary official for five minutes (alas, even our dreams have boundaries here). Why a sauna? For some reason, Iranian officials love going to saunas. Some of the most important decisions in our recent history have been made in saunas. I'm serious.
I politely approach the high-ranking official and give him the impression that he is actually as important as he thinks he is. A bearded man in his early 50s, he usually wears a navy-blue suit and a collarless white shirt buttoned to the neck. He is friendly and polite at first, but then his munificent smile turns to an agitated frown.
Q. How do you support the Lebanese resistance?
A. The Israeli regime has shown it has no concern for human rights and international law. It kills infants and pregnant women.
Q. How do you support the Lebanese resistance?
A. Americans have double standards. There is one for Israel and another one for the rest of the world. If it were not for America, Israel would never dare to kill innocent Lebanese citizens with such impunity.
Q. How do you support the Lebanese resistance?
A. I just answered you.
Q. No. You didn't. You just repeated the slogans I heard people were chanting in the Palestine Square demonstration yesterday and at Friday prayers two days before that. How does Iran support Hezbollah? Financially? Militarily? Spiritually? How?
The official gets annoyed and looks to his bodyguards to take him away. He wipes the sweat off his face, adjusts his towel and leaves.
It is a silly fantasy, I admit. But the Iranian regime has reached a crossroads in its relationship with the rest of the world, and no one in the government is willing to give the public a straight answer.
There is a vague logic in the absurdity of the events here. But the people in the government tend not to share the obscure reasons behind their decisions with the public during crises. Officials usually leave it to pundits to interpret the government's behavior as they wish.
Using Hezbollah as a threat has always helped Iran in its negotiations with the West. Iran would like to keep it that way. Helping Hezbollah overtly, however, would lead to a direct confrontation with Israel and the United States, while officially staying out of Lebanese affairs means betraying revolutionary ideals the regime pretends to hold dear to its heart. For the moment, Iran is sticking to bombastic rhetoric while doing nothing, to the chagrin of many of its hard-line supporters.
Iran helped create Hezbollah in the early 1980s, it is Hezbollah's most vocal supporter, and before the war it sent the group millions of dollars in cash, medicine and arms.
Does this Iranian aid make Hezbollah Iran's puppet? From all evidence, Hezbollah, to a great extent, makes decisions independently of Iran. Hezbollah is an indigenous Lebanese armed resistance group that owes its popularity to Israeli atrocities, biased American policies and corrupt Lebanese politicians. When the United States and Israel try to portray Hezbollah as an Iranian proxy, they are pointing the finger in the wrong direction.
But Iran definitely uses the threat of its influence over Hezbollah to further its objectives. And its prime objective is the survival of the Islamic regime at any price. The clerics and non-clerics (they are now mostly non-clerics) in power in Iran are not the old revolutionary zealots the Americans tend to imagine. They are pragmatic men who have enjoyed the fruits of power for 27 years and don't want to lose them. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, Iranian statesmen were so scared of American retaliation that for the first time since the revolution, no one chanted "Death to America" in Iran for 10 days.
The regime's rhetoric about the United States and Israel is a remnant of the time when seizing embassies and staging revolutions were in vogue. But now the Islamic Republic has one of the world's younger populations. Most young Iranians I know don't care for their fathers' ideals. They prefer the better things in life, like plasma TVs on which to watch Britney Spears and the exiled Iranian pop diva Googoosh on illegal satellite channels. (No, Mr. Cheney, they don't want the United States to invade their country.) The government spends much of its $60 billion in annual oil revenue to import goods and keep its youth happy.
The paradoxes of the regime have exposed its hypocrisies. On one hand, the fiery slogans are the raison d'?tre of the Islamic Republic, and on the other, acting openly on those slogans would spell its demise. The most expedient thing to do has been nothing, while continuing to chant.
Until the start of the war in Lebanon, that was just fine. Iran benefited from a series of victories without doing much. First the Americans got rid of the Taliban, Iran's enemy to the east. Then the Americans got rid of Iran's archenemy to the west, Saddam Hussein. Finally, with Americans mired in both countries, the price of oil went through the roof, and Iran started enriching uranium again, knowing that the West could do nothing. The regime was intoxicated with oil money and regional influence.
But the war in Lebanon has made it impossible for the Islamic Republic to enjoy the same calm. Hezbollah has become a liability for Iran. Weakened, it now needs Iran's petrodollars and rockets to regain its strength. At the same time, Israel and the United States are scrutinizing the transfer of arms and money from Iran to Hezbollah more closely than ever. The next shipment of arms from Iran to Hezbollah may result in direct confrontation with Israel and the United States.
The bearded men in the saunas must be sweating more than usual, even though in public they toast Hezbollah's "victory" with glasses of pomegranate juice. The Islamic Republic is coming to the point where it has to choose: destroy itself by repeating the same old slogans, or come up with new definitions for itself, its friends and foes.
Maziar Bahari is a journalist and documentary film maker.
Russian Seeds Bear Awful Fruit
Reply #373 on:
August 24, 2006, 11:36:30 AM »
What does Moscow have to do with the recent war in Lebanon?
By Ion Mihai Pacepa
The Kremlin may be the main winner in the Lebanon war. Israel has been attacked with Soviet Kalashnikovs and Katyushas, Russian Fajr-1 and Fajr-3 rockets, Russian AT-5 Spandrel antitank missiles and Kornet antitank rockets. Russia?s outmoded weapons are now all the rage with terrorists everywhere in the world, and the bad guys know exactly where to get them. The weapons cases abandoned by Hezbollah were marked: ?Customer: Ministry of Defense of Syria. Supplier: KBP, Tula, Russia.?
Today?s international terrorism was conceived at the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the KGB, in the aftermath of the1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East. I witnessed its birth in my other life, as a Communist general. Israel humiliated Egypt and Syria, whose bellicose governments were being run by Soviet razvedka (Russian for ?foreign intelligence?) advisers, whereupon the Kremlin decided to arm Israel?s enemy neighbors, the Palestinians, and draw them into a terrorist war against Israel.
General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, who created Communist Romania?s intelligence structure and then rose to head up all of Soviet Russia?s foreign intelligence, often lectured me: ?In today?s world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon.?
Between 1968 and 1978, when I broke with Communism, the security forces of Romania alone sent two cargo planes full of military goodies every week to Palestinian terrorists in Lebanon. Since the fall of Communism the East German Stasi archives have revealed that, in 1983 alone, its foreign intelligence service sent $1,877,600 worth of AK-47 ammunition to Lebanon. According to Vaclav Havel, Communist Czechoslovakia shipped 1,000 tons of the odorless explosive Semtex-H (which can?t be detected by sniffer dogs) to Islamic terrorists ? enough for 150 years.
The terrorist war per se came into action at the end of 1968, when the KGB transformed airplane hijacking ? that weapon of choice for September 11, 2001 ? into an instrument of terror. In 1969 alone there were 82 hijackings of planes worldwide, carried out by the KGB-financed PLO. In 1971, when I was visiting Sakharovsky at his Lubyanka office, he called my attention to a sea of red flags pinned onto a world map hanging on the wall. Each flag represented a captured plane. ?Airplane hijacking is my own invention,? he claimed.
The political ?success? occasioned by hijacking Israeli airplanes prompted the KGB?s 13th Department, known in our intelligence jargon as the ?Department for Wet Affairs? (wet being a euphemism for bloody), to expand into organizing ?public executions? of Jews in airports, train stations, and other public places. In 1969 Dr. George Habash, a KGB puppet, explained: ?Killing one Jew far away from the field of battle is more effective than killing a hundred Jews on the field of battle, because it attracts more attention.?
By the end of the 1960s, the KGB was deeply involved in mass terrorism against Jews, carried out by various Palestinian client organizations. Here are some terrorist actions for which the KGB took credit while I was still in Romania: November 1969, armed attack on the El Al office in Athens, leaving 1 dead and 14 wounded; May 30, 1972, Ben Gurion Airport attack, leaving 22 dead and 76 wounded; December 1974, Tel Aviv movie theater bomb, leaving 2 dead and 66 wounded; March 1975, attack on a Tel Aviv hotel, leaving 25 dead and 6 wounded; May 1975, Jerusalem bomb, leaving 1 dead and 3 wounded; July 4, 1975, bomb in Zion Square, Jerusalem, leaving 15 dead and 62 wounded; April 1978, Brussels airport attack, leaving 12 wounded; May 1978, attack on an El Al plane in Paris, leaving 12 wounded.
In 1971, the KGB launched operation Tayfun (Russian for ?typhoon?), aimed at destabilizing Western Europe. The Baader-Meinhof, the Red Army Faction (RAF), and other KGB-sponsored Marxist organizations unleashed a wave of anti-American terrorism that shook Western Europe. Richard Welsh, the CIA station chief in Athens, was shot to death in Greece on December 23, 1975. General Alexander Haig, commander of NATO in Brussels was injured in a bomb attack that damaged his armored Mercedes beyond repair in June 1979. General Frederick J. Kroesen, commander of U.S. forces in Europe, barely survived a rocket attack in September 1981. Alfred Herrhausen, the pro-American chairman of Deutsche Bank, was killed during a grenade attack in November 1989. Hans Neusel, a pro-American state secretary in the West Germaninterior ministry, was wounded during an assassination attempt in July 1990.
In 1972, the Kremlin decided to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the U.S. As KGB chairman Yury Andropov told me, a billion adversaries could inflict far greater damage on America than could a few millions. We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States. No one within the American/Zionist sphere of influence should any longer feel safe.
According to Andropov, the Islamic world was a waiting petri dish in which we could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought. Islamic anti-Semitism ran deep. The Muslims had a taste for nationalism, jingoism, and victimology. Their illiterate, oppressed mobs could be whipped up to a fever pitch.
Terrorism and violence against Israel and her master, American Zionism, would flow naturally from the Muslims? religious fervor, Andropov sermonized. We had only to keep repeating our themes ? that the United States and Israel were ?fascist, imperial-Zionist countries? bankrolled by rich Jews. Islam was obsessed with preventing the infidels? occupation of its territory, and it would be highly receptive to our characterization of the U.S. Congress as a rapacious Zionist body aiming to turn the world into a Jewish fiefdom.
The codename of this operation was ?SIG? (Sionistskiye Gosudarstva, or ?Zionist Governments?), and was within my Romanian service?s ?sphere of influence,? for it embraced Libya, Lebanon, and Syria. SIG was a large party/state operation. We created joint ventures to build hospitals, houses, and roads in these countries, and there we sent thousands of doctors, engineers, technicians, professors, and even dance instructors. All had the task of portraying the United States as an arrogant and haughty Jewish fiefdom financed by Jewish money and run by Jewish politicians, whose aim was to subordinate the entire Islamic world.
In the mid 1970s, the KGB ordered my service, the DIE ? along with other East European sister services ? to scour the country for trusted party activists belonging to various Islamic ethnic groups, train them in disinformation and terrorist operations, and infiltrate them into the countries of our ?sphere of influence.? Their task was to export a rabid, demented hatred for American Zionism by manipulating the ancestral abhorrence for Jews felt by the people in that part of the world. Before I left Romania for good, in 1978, my DIE had dispatched around 500 such undercover agents to Islamic countries. According to a rough estimate received from Moscow, by 1978 the whole Soviet-bloc intelligence community had sent some 4,000 such agents of influence into the Islamic world.
In the mid-1970s we also started showering the Islamic world with an Arabic translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a tsarist Russian forgery that had been used by Hitler as the foundation for his anti-Semitic philosophy. We also disseminated a KGB-fabricated ?documentary? paper in Arabic alleging that Israel and its main supporter, the United States, were Zionist countries dedicated to converting the Islamic world into a Jewish colony.
We in the Soviet bloc tried to conquer minds, because we knew we could not win any military battles. It is hard to say what exactly are the lasting effects of operation SIG. But the cumulative effect of disseminating hundreds of thousands of Protocols in the Islamic world and portraying Israel and the United States as Islam?s deadly enemies was surely not constructive.
Post-Soviet Russia has been transformed in unprecedented ways, but the widely popular belief that the nefarious Soviet legacy was rooted out at the end of the Cold War the same way that Nazism was rooted out with the conclusion of World War II, is not yet correct.
In the 1950s, when I was chief of Romania?s foreign intelligence station in West Germany, I witnessed how Hitler?s Third Reich had been demolished, its war criminals put on trial, its military and police forces disbanded, and the Nazis removed from public office. None of these things has happened in the former Soviet Union. No individual has been put on trial, although the Soviet Union?s Communist regime killed over a hundred million people. Most Soviet institutions have been left in place, having simply been given new names, and are now run by many of the same people who guided the Communist state. In 2000, former officers of the KGB and the Soviet Red Army took over the Kremlin and Russia?s government.
Germany would have never become a democracy with Gestapo and SS officers running the show.
On September 11, 2001, President Vladimir Putin became the first leader of a foreign country to express sympathy to President George W. Bush for what he called ?these terrible tragedies of the terrorist attacks.? Soon, however, Putin began moving his country back into the terrorist business. In March 2002, he quietly reinstituted sales of weapons to Iran?s terrorist dictator, Ayatollah Khamenei, and engaged Russia in the construction of a 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor at Bushehr, with a uranium conversion facility able to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Hundreds of Russian technicians also started helping the government of Iran to develop the Shahab-4 missile, with a range of over 1,250 miles, which can carry a nuclear or germ warhead anywhere in the Middle East and Europe.
Iran?s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had already announced that nothing could stop his country from building nuclear weapons, and he stated that Israel was a ?disgraceful stain [on] the Islamic world? that would be eliminated. During World War II, 405,399 Americans died to eradicate Nazism and its anti-Semitic terrorism. Now we are facing Islamic fascism and nuclear anti-Semitic terrorism. The United Nations can offer no hope. It has not yet even been able to define terrorism.
A proverb says that one fire drives out another. The Kremlin may be our best hope. In May 2002, the NATO foreign ministers approved a partnership with Russia, the alliance?s former enemy. The rest of the world said that the Cold War was over and done with. Kaput. Now Russia wants to be admitted to the World Trade Organization. For that to happen, the Kremlin should be firmly told first to get out of the terrorism business.
We should also help the Russians realize that it is in their own interest to make President Ahmadinejad renounce nuclear weapons. He is an unpredictable tyrant who may also consider Russia an enemy at some point in time. ?If Iran gets weapons of mass destruction, deliverable by a missile, that?s going to be a problem,? President Bush correctly stated. ?That?s going to be a problem for all of us, including Russia.?
?Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. His book Red Horizons has been republished in 27 countries.
National Review Online -
Limits of Technologic Intel
Reply #374 on:
August 27, 2006, 12:32:56 AM »
August 26, 2006
Our Strategic Intelligence Problem
By Ralph Peters
Our national intelligence system will never meet our unrealistic expectations, nor can it ever answer all of our needs. No matter what we do or change or buy, intelligence agencies will remain unable to satisfy our government's appetite for knowledge. This isn't defeatism, but realism. We had better get used to the idea.
This does not mean that our intelligence system cannot be improved. It can. Nor does it imply that our leaders should be less demanding. Stressing the system enhances its performance. But our fantastic expectations must be lowered to a level more in accord with our present and potential capabilities.
And we must end the decades-old practice of blaming flawed intelligence for broader policy failures. For all of its indisputable shortcomings, the U.S. intelligence community has become a too-convenient scapegoat for erroneous decisions made by a succession of leaders indifferent to the substance of intelligence, but alert to the advantages of politics. If we want to improve our comprehensive security, we need to begin with a sharp dose of realism regarding what intelligence can and cannot deliver. We do not expect our health-care system to return every patient to perfect health. It is just as foolish to expect perfect intelligence.
While there are real, endemic problems within our intelligence system, the greater problem may be with the expectations of the public, the media, and our Nation's policymakers. From indefensible defense-contractor promises to the insidious effects of Hollywood's long-running fantasy of all-seeing, all-powerful intelligence agencies, the lack of an accurate grasp of what intelligence generally can provide, occasionally can deliver, and still cannot begin to achieve results in reflexive cries of "Intelligence failure!" under circumstances in which it would have been impossible--or a case of hit-the-lottery luck--for intelligence to succeed.
Despite the political grandstanding over a catalytic tragedy, any probability of preventing 9/11 through better intelligence work was a myth. Our enemies out-maneuvered and out-imagined us so boldly that none of those who now insist that they warned us offered any useful specificity before the event. In retrospect, many matters appear far simpler and more linear. We cannot believe that a general was so foolish in battle, forgetting that our privileged view is far different from that confronting the general amid the chaos of war. Looking back, it appears obvious that, by 1999, there was an unsustainable hi-tech bubble in the stock market--but how many of us nonetheless bought in near the top? Charges that "They should have seen it coming!" are usually wrong and rarely helpful. The only useful question is "Why didn't we see it coming?"
Sometimes the answer is that the system's attention was elsewhere. But the answer also might be that a given event was impossible to prevent without a phenomenal stroke of luck. The problem with luck is that it is not very dependable. September 11th was not only an intelligence failure, it was also a law-enforcement failure, an airline failure, an architectural failure, a fire-and-rescue failure, a long-term policy failure, and a failure of our national imagination. Our enemies told us openly that they intended to attack us. From Langley to Los Angeles, we, the people, could not conceive that they meant it. Even those of us who wrote theoretically about massive attacks on lower Manhattan have no right to claim prescience. We did not truly envision the reality. Our collective belief systems needed to be shaken by images of catastrophes on our soil.
Similarly, our military had to undergo a succession of asymmetrical conflicts to begin to shake its cold-war-era mindset. No succession of briefings, books, or articles could have had the impact of the suicide bomber and the improvised explosive device. Likewise, in military intelligence, we are beginning to see a generational divide between yesterday's technology-?ber-alles managers--who continue, for now, to be promoted--and a younger generation of intelligence officers who have endured the brutal human crucibles of Iraq and Afghanistan, and who do not expect a van full of electronics to do all of their work for them. Because it routinely deals with life-and-death issues, tactical intelligence, long a backwater, might improve more profoundly than strategic intelligence in the coming years.
If the events of the past decade (or century) should teach us anything about the relationship between the intelligence community and our national leadership, it is that the more reliant any policy or action is on the comprehensive accuracy of intelligence, the more likely it is to disappoint, if not humiliate, us with its results.
Intelligence can help leaders shape their views, but it is not a substitute for leadership. Senior members in the intelligence world must share the blame for our unrealistic expectations. In order to secure funding for ever-more-expensive technologies, too much was promised in return. While technical assets, from satellites to adept computer programs, bring us great advantages in amassing and processing data, even the best machine cannot predict the behavior of hostile individuals or governments.
The salvation-through-technology types do great damage to our intelligence effort. They deliver massive amounts of data, but become so mesmerized by what technology can do that they slight the importance of relevance. And humans are messy, while technology appears pristine. Furthermore, there are massive profits to be made on the technology side (and good retirement jobs for program managers); thus, Congress leans inevitably toward funding systems rather than fostering human abilities.
There is no consistent lobby for human intelligence, language skills, or deep analysis. Despite occasional bursts of supportive rhetoric on Capitol Hill, the money still goes for machinery, not flesh and blood. Recent personnel increases remain trivial compared to our investments in technology. Yet, we live in an age when our security problems are overwhelmingly human problems. Despite a half-decade of reorganizations near and at the top of the intelligence system, we remain far better suited to detecting the movements of yesteryear's Soviet armies and fleets than we are at comprehending and finding terrorists. (In Washington, the immediate response to any crisis within a government bureaucracy is to rotate the usual suspects at the top, not to address the pervasive reforms required--and no one in our government understands the concept of "sunk costs.")
Nor do our intelligence difficulties end with our inability to locate and kill Osama bin-Laden, who will be eliminated eventually, just as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was. Our hi-tech intelligence architecture even failed in many of the spheres in which it was supposed to excel. Consider just a few examples of the system falling short when required to perform:
? During the air campaign to break Belgrade's hold on Kosovo, the Serbian military fooled our overhead collectors with decoy targets composed of campfires, old hulks, and metal scraps. Hundreds of millions of dollars in precision munitions went to waste as we attacked improvised charcoal grills. It took the threat of American ground troops to force a sloppy diplomatic compromise--a 6-week air effort hit only a handful of real targets.
? Notoriously, our hundreds of billions in collection systems could neither confirm nor deny that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction as we moved toward war. Our intelligence system proved so weak that it could offer nothing substantial to challenge or support the position assumed by decision-makers. Without convincing evidence to the contrary, the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq became little more than a matter of opinion. Opinion then attained the force of fact in the build-up to war. The lack of reliable sources in Iraq and agents on the ground left the satellites searching desperately for the slightest hint that the Baghdad regime was armed with forbidden weapons. We were no longer collecting--we were conjuring. Conjecture hardened into conviction. And we went to war focused on finding chemical rounds, rather than on a convulsive population.
? None of our technical collection means detected the wartime threat from the Saddam Fedayeen or other irregular forces. As then-Lieutenant General William Scott Wallace, the Army V Corps commander on the march to Baghdad, observed, the enemy we ended up fighting (albeit successfully) was not the enemy the intelligence community had briefed. Commanders learned as they fought, after our best intelligence had promised them a different war. In Iraq, we couldn't see what we wanted to see, so we refused to see what we didn't want to see. We relied so heavily on technical collection means that we forgot to think.
? Not a single one of over a hundred attempted "decapitation" strikes with precision weapons succeeded in killing the targeted individual during the initial stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom--even though most of the sites were destroyed. The concept remains sound in theory, but our ability to hit targets has far outstripped our ability to identify them accurately. It's just plain hard to find people who are doing their best to hide. Even now, our successful strikes against terrorists rely far more often on tips, interrogations, and the processing of captured material than on national collection means. On the ground in Iraq, military intelligence personnel diagram the human relationships among our enemies much as their British predecessors would have done 80 years ago (although we can do our sketching on computer screens).
? Satellites famously can read a license plate (and more). But they rarely tell you whether that battered Toyota contains an innocent civilian, a suicide bomber, or a terrorist chieftain. If the enemy declines to use communications technologies, we are back to the human factor to do our target spotting.
The problem with the human factor is that the technocrats who dominate the intelligence community just don't like it. The "metal benders" see technology as reliable (and immune to personnel management problems), even if that reliability isn't germane to our actual needs. The more our security problems take on a human shape, the more money we throw at technology. A retired psychiatrist I know points out that one form of insanity is to repeat a failed action obsessively. By that measure, our intelligence community is as mad as Lear on the heath.
Only human beings can penetrate the minds of other human beings. Understanding our enemies is the most important requirement for our intelligence system. Yet, "understanding" is a word you rarely, if ever, find in our intelligence manuals. We are obsessed with accumulating great volumes of data, measuring success in tonnage rather than results. Instead of panning for gold, we proudly pile up the mud.
Two things must happen if our national intelligence system is to improve. Within the intelligence community, we need to achieve a more effective balance between our default to technology and the slighted human factor. At the top of the game, intelligence is about deciphering what an enemy will do before the enemy knows it himself. The very best analysts can do this, if only sometimes. But occasional successes are better than consistent failures. However imperfect the results, who would deny that a better grasp of the mentalities, ambitions, fears, jealousies, schemes, and desires of our opponents would have offered us more in the days before 9/11 or in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq (or now, in dealing with Iran) than any series of satellite photos?
If we want to improve the quality and usefulness of the intelligence that reaches our nation's leaders, we need to accept the primacy of the human being in intelligence. Instead of the current system, in which people support technology, we need our technologies to support people.
The other thing that must be done--and this is terribly hard--is for all of us, from the Oval Office, through military commanders, to the Wi-Fi crowd down at Starbucks, to have rational expectations of what intelligence can provide and how reliably it can perform. The technocrats continue to insist, against all evidence, that machines can solve all of our intelligence problems, if only we develop and buy more of them. But this age of Cain-and-Abel warfare, of global disorientation, and of a sweeping return to primitive identities and exclusive beliefs is characterized by its raw, brutal humanity. Far from bringing us together, the computer age has amplified our differences and reinvigorated old hatreds. A new, global ruling class profits, while the human masses seethe.
Nothing is a greater challenge for the intelligence system than the individual human being who hates us enough to kill us. How do we spot him in the crowd before he acts? Why does he wish to kill us--perhaps committing suicide in the process? How do we find him in a city's wretched crowding or amid remote tribes? What happens when he gains access to weapons of mass destruction? The long-term costs to our country from 9/11 proved to be far greater than the 3,000 casualties we suffered that morning. What second-, third-, and fourth-order effects might even a small nuclear blast trigger?
We can defeat states with relative ease. Individuals are tougher. At present, we know approximately where Osama bin-Laden is, but we lack the specific awareness to strike him with a single, politically tolerable bomb. To have a reasonable chance of killing or capturing him, we would have to send in a large ground force, potentially igniting all Pakistan and bringing down the military regime that, tragically, is that country's sole hope. So we wait for the whispered word that will tell us what we need to know. After all of the hyper-expensive collection systems have failed, we find ourselves relying on bribes, informers, and luck, and attacking huts and caves rather than command bunkers and missile silos.
Our intelligence system can do more to protect us than it has done, but, even reformed, it will not detect or stop all of our enemies. We need to do better, but we will never perform perfectly. Intelligence is, at last, about people--on both sides. And human beings are imperfect. Yet, amid the tumult confronting us today, the imperfect human offers more hope for intelligence successes than the perfect machine.
Decision-makers have to accept that they must live with a large measure of uncertainty. (Generals have had to do so since the Bronze Age.) Even the intelligence estimate that captures today's issues with remarkable acuity might be upended by a single distant event tomorrow. There are few, if any, static answers in intelligence. The problems we face from foreign enemies are throbbing, morphing, living, often-irrational manifestations of human problems that are themselves in the process of constant change. Intelligence moves. Even the best strategic intelligence provides only not-quite-focused snapshots and rough-compass bearings, not detailed maps to a predetermined future. The iron paradox of any intelligence system is that to expand its effectiveness you must recognize its limitations.
Blaming faulty intelligence for policy failures is the ultimate case of the workman blaming his tools. Even the best intelligence can only inform decisions. It cannot be forced to make them.
Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, U.S. Army, is a retired intelligence officer and the author of 21 books, including the recent Never Quit the Fight (Stackpole Books).
Reply #375 on:
August 27, 2006, 03:46:11 PM »
But it fails to acknowledge something which I believe has been our greatest shortcoming in the current war we are fighting: the ability to admit that our enemy is intelligent.
Undeclared WW3, Part I
Reply #376 on:
September 01, 2006, 03:05:07 PM »
Forwarded by Emanuel A. Winston
Middle East analyst & commentator
This speech by the former President of Weizmann Institute of Science, Haim Harari is a lesson that the politicians and the Media would do well to learn. I doubt that they will either read or absorb the lessons in this insightful analysis of Terror and what it means towhat we call civilization. This is not a trite 'sound byte' for the Media to toss of with a a one liner. Harari is not the average person speaking his mind but, rather like listening to the thoughts of an Einstein. Most journalists and politicians do not have time for deep thinkers who have matured over the years into wise men with vision. In fact, they simply do not want to know and pursue ignorance as the safest course. Well, perhaps a few will take the time to read and absorb. This is a very insightful speech given by Haim Harari, the former International Advisory Board of a large multi-national corporation, April, 2004. It's very well worth reading.
By Haim Harari
"As you know, I usually provide the scientific and technological "entertainment" in our meetings, but, on this occasion, our Chairman suggested that I present my own personal view on events in the part of the world from which I come. I have never been and I will never be a Government official and I have no privileged information. My perspective is entirely based on what I see, on what I read and on the fact that my family has lived in this region for almost 200 years. You may regard my views as those of the proverbial taxi driver, which you are supposed to question, when you visit a country.
I could have shared with you some fascinating facts and some personal thoughts about the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, I will touch upon it only in passing. I prefer to devote most of my remarks to the broader picture of the region and its place in world events. I refer to the entire area between Pakistan and Morocco, which is predominantly Arab, predominantly Moslem, but includes many non-Arab and also significant non-Moslem minorities.
Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read or hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been the central issue in the upheaval in the region. Yes, there is a 100 year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is. The millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel. The mass murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel. The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with Israel. Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia and butchered his own people because of Israel. Egypt did not use poison gas against Yemen in the 60's because of Israel. Assad the Father did not kill tens of thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria because of Israel. The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had nothing to do with Israel. The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on.
The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine would have existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300 millions, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers. The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission. According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less than that of 6 million Israelis. Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in the world.
It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented breeding ground for cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide murders and general decline. It is also a fact that almost everybody in the region blames this situation on the United States, on Israel, on Western Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and anything, except themselves.
Do I say all of this with the satisfaction of someone discussing the failings of his enemies? On the contrary, I firmly believe that the world would have been a much better place and my own neighborhood would have been much more pleasant and peaceful, if things were different.
I should also say a word about the millions of decent, honest, good people who are either devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up in Moslem families. They are double victims of an outside world, which now develops Islamophobia and of their own environment, which breaks their heart by being totally dysfunctional. The problem is that the vast silent majority of these Moslems are not part of the terror and of the incitement but they also do not stand up against it. They become accomplices, by omission, and this applies to political leaders, intellectuals, business people and many others. Many of them can certainly tell right from wrong, but are afraid to express their views.
The events of the last few years have amplified four issues, which have always existed, but have never been as rampant as in the present upheaval in the region. These are the four main pillars of the current World Conflict, or perhaps we should already refer to it as "the undeclared World War III". I have no better name for the present situation. A few more years may pass before everybody acknowledges that it is a World War, but we are already well into it. The first element is the suicide murder. Suicide murders are not new invention but they have been made popular, if I may use this __expression, only lately. Even after September 11, it seems that most of the Western World does not yet understand this weapon. It is a very potent psychological weapon. Its real direct impact is relatively minor. The total number of casualties from hundreds of suicide murders within Israel in the last three years is much smaller than those due to car accidents. September 11 was quantitatively much less lethal than many earthquakes. More people die from AIDS in one day in Africa than all the Russians who died in the hands of Chechnya-based Moslem suicide murderers since that conflict started. Saddam killed every month more people than all those who died from suicide murders since the Coalition occupation of Iraq.
So what is all the fuss about suicide killings? It creates headlines. It is spectacular. It is frightening. It is a very cruel death with bodies dismembered and horrible severe lifelong injuries to many of the wounded. It is always shown on television in great detail. One such murder, with the help of hysterical media coverage, can destroy the tourism industry of a country for quite a while, as it did in Bali and in Turkey.
But the real fear comes from the undisputed fact that no defense and no preventive measures can succeed against a determined suicide murderer. This has not yet penetrated the thinking of the Western World. The U.S. and Europe are constantly improving their defense against the last murder, not the next one. We may arrange for the best airport security in the world. But if you want to murder by suicide, you do not have to board a plane in order to explode yourself and kill many people. Who could stop a suicide murder in the midst of the crowded line waiting to be checked by the airport metal detector? How about the lines to the check-in counters in a busy travel period? Put a metal detector in front of every train station in Spain and the terrorists will get the buses. Protect the buses and they will explode in movie theaters, concert halls, supermarkets, shopping malls, schools and hospitals. Put guards in front of every concert hall and there will always be a line of people to be checked by the guards and this line will be the target, not to speak of killing the guards themselves. You can somewhat reduce your vulnerability by preventive and defensive measures and by strict border controls but not eliminate it and definitely not in the war in a defensive way. And it is a war!
What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power and cold-blooded murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true fanatic religious beliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown himself up. No son of an Arab politician or religious leader has ever blown himself. No relative of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn't you expect some of the religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into doing it, if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren't they interested in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send outcast women, naive children, retarded people and young incited hotheads. They promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people are dead.
Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and despair. The poorest region in the world, by far, is Africa. It never happens there. There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different cultures, countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone with explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly more despair in Saddam's Iraq then in Paul Bremmer's Iraq, and no one exploded himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power.
The only way to fight this new "popular" weapon is identical to the only way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the offensive way. Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the forces on the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the crime pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little drug dealer in the street corner. You must go after the head of the "Family".
If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many are afraid of it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable childhood, organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism. The United States understands this now, after September 11. Russia is beginning to understand it. Turkey nderstands it well. I am very much afraid that most of Europe still does not understand it. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe will understand it only after suicide murders will arrive in Europe in a big way. In my humble opinion, this will definitely happen. The Spanish trains and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable. Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved.
The second ingredient is words, more precisely lies. Words can be lethal. They kill people. It is often said that politicians, diplomats and perhaps also lawyers and business people must sometimes lie, as part of their professional life. But the norms of politics and diplomacy are childish, in comparison with the level of incitement and total absolute deliberate fabrications, which have reached new heights in the region we are talking about. An incredible number of people in the Arab world believe that September 11 never happened, or was an American provocation or, even better, a Jewish plot.
You all remember the Iraqi Minister of Information, Mr. Mouhamad Said al-Sahaf and his press conferences when the US forces were already inside Baghdad. Disinformation at time of war is an accepted tactic. But to stand, day after day, and to make such preposterous statements, known to everybody to be lies, without even being ridiculed in your newspapers from giving him equal time. It also does not prevent the Western press from giving credence, every day, even now, to similar liars. After all, if you want to be an anti-Semite, there are subtle ways of doing it. You do not have to claim that the holocaust never happened and that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem never existed. But millions of Moslems are told by their leaders that this is the case. When these same leaders make other statements, the Western media report them as if they could be true. It is a daily occurrence that the same people, who finance, arm and dispatch suicide murderers, condemn the act in English in front of western TV cameras, talking to a world audience, which even partly believes them. It is a daily routine to hear the same leader making opposite statements in Arabic to his people and in English to the rest of the world. Incitement by Arab TV, accompanied by horror pictures of mutilated bodies, has become a powerful weapon of those who lie, distort and want to destroy. World does not notice it because its own TV sets are mostly tuned to soap operas and game shows. I recommend to you, even though most of you do not understand Arabic, to watch Al Jazeera, from time to time. You will not believe your own eyes.
But words also work in other ways, more subtle. A demonstration in Berlin, carrying banners supporting Saddam's regime and featuring three-year old babies dressed as suicide murderers, is defined by the press and by political leaders as a "peace demonstration". You may support or oppose the Iraq war, but to refer to fans of Saddam, Arafat or Bin Laden as peace activists is a bit too much. A woman walks into an Israeli restaurant in mid-day, eats, observes families with old people and children eating their lunch in the adjacent tables and pays the bill. She then blows herself up, killing 20 people, including many children, with heads and arms rolling around in the restaurant. She is called "martyr" by several Arab leaders and "activist" by the European press. Dignitaries condemn the act but visit her bereaved family and the money flows.
There is a new game in town: The actual murderer is called "the military wing", the one who pays him, equips him and sends him is now called "the political wing" and the head of the operation is called the "spiritual leader". There are numerous other examples of such Orwellian nomenclature, used every day not only by terror chiefs but also by Western media. These words are much more dangerous than many people realize. They provide an emotional infrastructure for atrocities. It was Joseph Goebbels who said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. He is now being outperformed by his successors.
The third aspect is money. Huge amounts of money, which could have solved many social problems in this dysfunctional part of the world, are channeled into three concentric spheres supporting death and murder. In the inner circle are the terrorists themselves. The money funds their travel, explosives, ideouts and permanent search for soft vulnerable targets. They are surrounded by a second wider circle of direct supporters, planners, commanders, preachers, all of whom make a living, usually a very comfortable living, by serving as terror infrastructure. Finally, we find the third circle of so-called religious, educational and welfare organizations, which actually do some good, feed the hungry and provide some schooling, but brainwash a new generation with hatred, lies and ignorance. This circle operates mostly through mosques, madrassas and other religious establishments but also through inciting electronic and printed media. It is this circle that makes sure that women remain inferior, that democracy is unthinkable and that exposure to the outside world is minimal. It is also that circle that leads the way in blaming everybody outside the Moslem world, for the miseries of the region.
Figuratively speaking, this outer circle is the guardian, which makes sure that the people look and listen inwards to the inner circle of terror and incitement, rather than to the world outside. Some parts of this same outer circle actually operate as a result of fear from, or blackmail by, the inner circles. The horrifying added factor is the high birth rate. Half of the population of the Arab world is under the age of 20, the most receptive age to incitement, guaranteeing two more generations of blind hatred.
Of the three circles described above, the inner circles are primarily financed by terrorist states like Iran and Syria, until recently also by Iraq and Libya and earlier also by some of the Communist regimes. These states, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are the safe havens of the wholesale murder vendors. The outer circle is largely financed by Saudi Arabia, but also by donations from certain Moslem communities in the United States and Europe and, to a smaller extent, by donations of European Governments to various NGO's and by certain United Nations organizations, whose goals may be noble, but they are infested and exploited by agents of the outer circle. The Saudi regime, of course, will be the next victim of major terror, when the inner circle will explode into the outer circle. The Saudis are beginning to understand it, but they fight the inner circles, while still financing the infrastructure at the outer circle.
Some of the leaders of these various circles live very comfortably on their loot. You meet their children in the best private schools in Europe, not in the training camps of suicide murderers. The Jihad "soldiers" join packaged death tours to Iraq and other hot spots, while some of their leaders ski in Switzerland. Mrs. Arafat, who lives in Paris with her daughter, receives tens of thousands Dollars per month from the allegedly bankrupt Palestinian Authority while a typical local ringleader of the Al-Aksa brigade, reporting to Arafat, receives only a cash payment of a couple of hundred dollars, for performing murders at the retail level.
Undeclared WW3, Part II
Reply #377 on:
September 01, 2006, 03:05:50 PM »
The fourth element of the current world conflict is the total breaking of all laws. The civilized world believes in democracy, the rule of law, including international law, human rights, free speech and free press, among other liberties. There are naive old-fashioned habits such as respecting religious sites and symbols, not using ambulances and hospitals for acts of war, avoiding the mutilation of dead bodies and not using children as human shields or human bombs. Never in history, not even in the Nazi period, was there such total disregard of all of the above as we observe now. Every student of political science debates how you prevent an anti-democratic force from winning a democratic election and abolishing democracy. Other aspects of a civilized society must also have limitations. Can a policeman open fire on someone trying to kill him? Can a government listen to phone conversations of terrorists and drug dealers? Does free speech protects you when you shout "fire" in a crowded theater? Should there be death penalty, for deliberate multiple murders? These are the old-fashioned dilemmas. But now we have an entire new set.
Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition storage? Do you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm a church taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you search every ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to reach their targets? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot back at someone trying to kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of children? Do you raid terrorist headquarters, hidden in a mental hospital? Do you shoot an arch-murderer who deliberately moves from one location to another, always surrounded by children? All of these happen daily in Iraq and in the Palestinian areas. What do you do? Well, you do not want to face the dilemma. But it cannot be avoided.
Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that someone would openly stay in a well-known address in Teheran, hosted by the Iranian Government and financed by it, executing one atrocity after another in Spain or in France, killing hundreds of innocent people, accepting responsibility for the crimes, promising in public TV interviews to do more of the same, while the Government of Iran issues public condemnations of his acts but continues to host him, invite him to official functions and treat him as a great dignitary. I leave it to you as homework to figure out what Spain or France would have done, in such a situation.
The problem is that the civilized world is still having illusions about the rule of law in a totally lawless environment. It is trying to play ice hockey by sending a ballerina ice-skater into the rink or to knock out a heavyweight boxer by a chess player. In the same way that no country has a law against cannibals eating its prime minister, because such an act is unthinkable, international law does not address killers shooting from hospitals, mosques and ambulances, while being protected by their Government or society. International law does not know how to handle someone who sends children to throw stones, stands behind them and shoots with immunity and cannot be arrested because he is sheltered by a Government.
International law does not know how to deal with a leader of murderers who is royally and comfortably hosted by a country, which pretends to condemn his acts or just claims to be too weak to arrest him. The amazing thing is that all of these crooks demand protection under international law and define all those who attack them as war criminals, with some Western media repeating the allegations. The good news is that all of this is temporary, because the evolution of international law has always adapted itself to reality. The punishment for suicide murder should be death or arrest before the murder, not during and not after. After every world war, the rules of international law have changed and the same will happen after the present one. But during the twilight zone, a lot of harm can be done.
The picture I described here is not pretty. What can we do about it? In the short run, only fight and win. In the long run - only educate the next generation and open it to the world. The inner circles can and must be destroyed by force. The outer circle cannot be eliminated by force. Here we need financial starvation of the organizing elite, more power to women, more education, counter propaganda, boycott whenever feasible and access to Western media, internet and the international scene. Above all, we need a total absolute unity and determination of the civilized world against all three circles of evil.
Allow me, for a moment, to depart from my alleged role as a taxi driver and return to science. When you have a malignant tumor, you may remove the tumor itself surgically. You may also starve it by preventing new blood from reaching it from other parts of the body, thereby preventing new "supplies" from expanding the tumor. If you want to be sure, it is best to do both. But before you fight and win, by force or otherwise, you have to realize that you are in a war, and this may take Europe a few more years. In order to win, it is necessary to first eliminate the terrorist regimes, so that no Government in the world will serve as a safe haven for these people. I do not want to comment here on whether the American-led attack on Iraq was justified from the point of view of weapons of mass destruction or any other pre-war argument, but I can look at the post-war map of Western Asia. Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by Afghanistan, by the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq.
I do not know if the American plan was actually to encircle both Iran and Syria, but that is the resulting situation.
In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world today is Iran and its regime. It definitely has ambitions to rule vast areas and to expand in all directions. It has an ideology, which claims supremacy over Western culture. It is ruthless. It has proven that it can execute elaborate terrorist acts without leaving too many traces, using Iranian Embassies. It is clearly trying to develop Nuclear Weapons. Its so-called moderates and conservatives play their own virtuoso version of the "good-cop versus bad-cop" game. Iran sponsors Syrian terrorism, it is certainly behind much of the action in Iraq, it is fully funding the Hezb'Allah and, through it, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it performed acts of terror at least in Europe and in South America and probably also in Uzbekhistan and Saudi Arabia and it truly leads a multi-national terror consortium, which includes, as minor players, Syria, Lebanon and certain Shiite elements in Iraq. Nevertheless, most European countries still trade with Iran, try to appease it and refuse to read the clear signals.
In order to win the war it is also necessary to dry the financial resources of the terror conglomerate. It is pointless to try to understand the subtle differences between the Sunni terror of Al Qaeda and Hamas and the Shiite terror of Hezb'Allah, Sadr and other Iranian inspired enterprises. When it serves their business needs, all of them collaborate beautifully.
It is crucial to stop Saudi and other financial support of the outer circle, which is the fertile breeding ground of terror. It is important to monitor all donations from the Western World to Islamic organizations, to monitor the finances of international relief organizations and to react with forceful economic measures to any small sign of financial aid to any of the three circles of terrorism. It is also important to act decisively against the campaign of lies and fabrications and to monitor those Western media who collaborate with it out of naivety, financial interests or ignorance.
Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know whether the recent elections in Spain would have yielded a different result, if not for the train bombings a few days earlier. But it really does not matter. What matters is that the terrorists believe that they caused the result and that they won by driving Spain out of Iraq. The Spanish story will surely end up being extremely costly to other European countries, including France, who is now expelling inciting preachers and forbidding veils and including others who sent troops to Iraq. In the long run, Spain itself will pay even more.
Is the solution a democratic Arab world? If by democracy we mean free elections but also free press, free speech, a functioning judicial system, civil liberties, equality to women, free international travel, exposure to international media and ideas, laws against racial incitement and against defamation, and avoidance of lawless behavior regarding hospitals, places of worship and children, then yes, democracy is the solution. If democracy is just free elections, it is likely that the most fanatic regime will be elected, the one whose incitement and fabrications are the most inflammatory. We have seen it already in Algeria and, to a certain extent, in Turkey. It will happen again, if the ground is not prepared very carefully. On the other hand, a certain transition democracy, as in Jordan, may be a better temporary solution, paving the way for the real thing, perhaps in the same way that an immediate sudden democracy did not work in Russia and would not have worked in China.
I have no doubt that the civilized world will prevail. But the longer it takes us to understand the new landscape of this war, the more costly and painful the victory will be. Europe, more than any other region, is the key. Its understandable recoil from wars, following the horrors of World War II, may cost thousands of additional innocent lives, before the tide will turn."
Haim Harari is the former President of the Weizmann Institute.
Gaming a Nuclear Iran
Reply #378 on:
September 06, 2006, 11:46:03 AM »
What a mess a nuclear Iran will make.
By Stanley Kurtz
Iran may soon have nuclear weapons. Official intelligence estimates put an Iranian bomb five-to-ten years away. Yet some experts think one-to-four years is a more realistic figure. Regardless of whether or when Iran announces that it has fabricated nuclear weapons, prudence may soon dictate that Iran?s neighbors treat it as a de facto nuclear power. And that will change the world.
Of course, a preemptive American strike may preserve the nuclear status quo. Yet prospects for an American attack are anything but certain. What?s more, given Iran?s ability to hide large sections of its nuclear program, an American raid could fail. So it behooves us to consider what may result from Iran?s getting the bomb. That will help us to decide whether stopping Iran is worth the considerable risks of a preemptive strike, and/or how we ought to conduct ourselves once Iran becomes a nuclear power.
The implications of nuclear weapons being gained by the largest and most radical power in the Middle East are much too broad to be investigated in a single piece. A nuclear-capable Iran, the chief state-supporter of Islamist terrorism standing athwart the world?s oil spigot, will not be like India, Pakistan, or even North Korea going nuclear. This is bigger. So here I?ll concentrate on just some of the effects of a nuclear Iran on the Persian Gulf region, and particularly on Saudi Arabia.
Even without using agents to slip a retaliatory bomb onto American soil, Iran could repel a conventional American attack simply by dropping a nuclear bomb on our massed forces. Thus protected from a direct conventional assault by the United States, a nuclear Iran would have much greater freedom to make mischief in the Gulf.
So if a nuclear-armed Iran made a play to take over Saudi Arabia (and with it, the world?s oil supply), should the United States retaliate with nuclear weapons? What about an Iranian attack on one of the smaller Gulf states, like Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, or the United Arab Emirates? After all, over and above the question of their huge oil reserves, these countries provide our armed forces with critical basing privileges. Doesn?t the granting of such privileges gain for these Gulf states a place under America?s nuclear umbrella?
In 1980, after their invasion of Afghanistan put the Soviets just a move away from an outlet on (and possible control of) the Persian Gulf, President Carter enunciated the ?Carter Doctrine.? According to Carter, ?Any attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America; any such assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.? At the time, the United States lacked the conventional force projection capabilities to follow through on that pledge. So the Carter Doctrine was a barely disguised threat to break a Soviet stranglehold on world?s oil jugular with a nuclear attack. Would today?s Democratic party favor a similar pledge to protect the Gulf from Iranian control? Oh, and while we?re at it, what is the Republican line on this issue?
This time, however, there will be a radically new element to the debate. If the United States is unwilling to pledge to protect the Persian Gulf with its nuclear deterrent, these states just might buy umbrellas of their own. That especially applies to Saudi Arabia, which is poised to become the first post-Iran domino in what may soon become a nuclear proliferation nightmare. Once Iran, Saudi Arabia, and a number of other Muslim states become nuclear powers, it could become next to impossible to trace the state source of a terrorist nuclear device. And by removing our ability to know where a terrorist-planted bomb had come from, proliferation would vastly increase the likelihood that some state (or rogue element within a state) might pass a nuclear weapon to terrorists.
But why all this talk of nuclear weapons? The Iranians aren?t fools. They?re unlikely to risk a direct nuclear strike on the Persian Gulf, since pledge or no-pledge, the possibility of American nuclear retaliation would loom large. And while the Iranians have significantly more conventional power than any of the Gulf states, they are military midgets in comparison to the United States. It?s no longer 1980, and America now has considerable force projection capabilities in the Gulf. So the Iranians would seem to be stymied ? unable to risk a nuclear strike on the Gulf, and unable to launch a conventional invasion that America couldn?t easily repulse.
Unfortunately, the Iranians are masters at fighting low-level wars through terrorist proxies. An Iran protected from direct American attack by its own nuclear umbrella would be likely to ramp up terrorist mischief in the Gulf. That would destabilize American-allied Gulf regimes, force up oil prices, and put pressure on Gulf states to revoke American basing rights. Chronic, low-level terrorist proxy battles between America and Iran may remain ?safely? below the nuclear threshold. Then again, they may not.
The spectacle of an America powerless to stop Ahmadinejad from obtaining the bomb may change the internal dynamic of the Gulf states, making such an Islamist revolution thinkable. What if Iran succeeds in destabilizing one of the Gulf-state regimes to the point where it is overthrown by pro-Iranian Islamists? Would the United States stand idly by as effectively pro-Iranian regimes take control of the Gulf? Or what if one or more Gulf states try to save themselves from internal subversion by revoking America?s basing privileges? And what if the conflict, chaos, and uncertainty of a post-nuclear-Iran Gulf sends oil prices through the roof, doing major damage to the world?s economy?
Then there?s the possibility of Iranian-supported terrorist attacks on U.S. forces based in the Gulf. Many American servicemen were killed, and hundreds of soldiers were wounded, in the Khobar Towers bombing of 1996. Yet the Saudi?s were reluctant to investigate that bombing, for fear of uncovering a hidden Iranian hand. That would have lodged the Saudis uncomfortably between America and Iran. But in our current environment, terrorist strikes on American soldiers defending the Gulf would fairly obviously have been done in alliance with and with support from Iran (even if conducted by al Qaeda, which has cooperated with Iran in the past).
In other words, terrorist pressure on the Gulf, orchestrated by a newly nuclear Iran, may at some point escalate to general war between Iran and the United States, nuclear stand-off or not. This would be particularly so if Iranian-backed terror attacks threatened decisively to drive America from the Gulf and/or to generate world-wide economic chaos. All of which brings us back to our initial question. In the event that Iran should begin to gain control of the Gulf, overturning or blackmailing states through some combination of nuclear, conventional, and terrorist force, how far will the United States go to stop it? The Gulf states will insist on answers to these questions as they assess whether they may need to purchase nuclear weapons of their own to defend against Iran.
Chat with Armitage
Let?s step back for a moment and look at the history of proliferation in the Gulf. Richard Armitage is famous for chatting with Robert Novak about Valerie Plame. But a conversation Armitage had when he was an assistant secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration is at least as interesting. Quite by accident, the United States had just stumbled onto a secret purchase of Chinese CSS-2 missiles by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were in the market for a weapon that could reach Tehran, yet be deployed outside the range of Iranian surface-to-surface missiles. The Chinese CSS-2 missiles fit the bill, but were too inaccurate to be used for anything other than nuclear, chemical, or biological warfare. All known deployments of CSS-2s carried nuclear weapons, so the United States had to assume that the Saudis were secretly purchasing atomic warheads as well. Fresh from their attack on Saddam?s nuclear reactor, the Israelis realized they could be facing a new ?Islamic bomb,? and so they threatened a preemptive strike.
In the ensuing atmosphere of crisis, Armitage delivered a most undiplomatic dressing down to Saudi Arabia?s American ambassador, Prince Bandar, who had personally negotiated the missile deal. ?I want to congratulate you,? Armitage said to Bandar, ?This is the law of unintended consequences. You have put Saudi Arabia squarely in the targeting package of the Israelis. You are now number one on the Israeli hit parade. If the balloon goes up anywhere in the Middle East, you?re going to get hit first.? (For more, see Thomas W. Lippman?s excellent piece in ?The Nuclear Tipping Point?, on which I?m drawing here.) Having received a graphic demonstration of America?s shock and concern over his secret missile purchase, first from Armitage, and later from Congress, Prince Bandar cut a deal. The missiles would stay, but Saudi Arabia would sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the king would promise never to go nuclear. To this day, however, the Saudis will not allow the United States to inspect their CSS-2 missiles.
At the time, the Saudis probably hadn?t meant to go nuclear. Worried by the all the missiles being lobbed in the nearby Iran-Iraq war, the Saudis wanted missiles of their own. The Chinese actually seem to have hoodwinked the Saudis into purchasing missiles that were worthless without nuclear warheads. Like something out of Goldfinger, these antique missiles sit in the Saudi desert, still manned by Chinese crews (the Saudi?s being too technologically challenged to take over).
Yet the Keystone Cops aspect to the affair only underlines the dangers of the ?law of unintended consequences? in matters nuclear. In the game of proliferation, inexperienced powers can make costly mistakes. And the United States itself was caught off-guard by the secrecy of our Saudi ally. American satellites could have easily found those missiles, but no one had dreamed of checking for Chinese missiles in the middle of the Saudi desert. After all, the Saudis were rabid anti-Communists. Officially, Chinese civilians couldn?t even visit Saudi Arabia. Yet there were Chinese military men, sitting in the Saudi desert, manning a potentially nuclear delivery system.
A Bomb of One?s Own
The Saudis may not have actually wanted nuclear weapons back in the 1980s, but they have plenty of reasons to think of purchasing them now. A huge country, four times the size of France, with vast coastlines, a small population, and a tiny, technologically challenged army, Saudi Arabia is incredibly vulnerable to military attack. As Lippman puts it, ?The oil installations that provide most of the country?s revenue and the desalination plants the produce 70 percent of its drinking water are visible, vulnerable targets that could be devastated in short order by air assault or seaborne attack.? The Saudis have never recovered from the shock of watching America stand by as the Iranian Revolution overthrew the U.S. backed Shah. With the American public shaken to its roots by less than 3,000 casualties in Iraq (a fraction of the tolls in earlier American wars), the Saudis now have reason to doubt American resolve in the face of a nuclear-armed and terrorist-friendly Iran.
On the other side of the coin, the Saudis have direct experience of American resolve in the first Persian Gulf War. And they understand perfectly well that America and the West cannot afford to surrender control of the world?s oil supply-line to Iran. Yet even America?s unarguable and inescapable interest in the Gulf holds problems for the Saudis. From the Saudi point of view, ongoing conflict between America and Iran threatens to subordinate completely Saudi Arabia?s interests to America?s. Yet as we saw with the Khobar Towers investigation, the Saudis would prefer to carve out some wiggle room between the two powers. America?s post-9/11 suspicion of the Saudis frightens the House of Saud, which worries about American-enforced regime change, perhaps in response to further al Qaeda terrorist attacks. There are reports that the Saudis have already decided to obtain a nuclear deterrent, if and when Iran gets the bomb.
Warheads purchased from North Korea or Pakistan (whose nuclear program the Saudis have long supported, with just this sort of exchange in mind) would likely be retrofitted onto the Chinese CSS-2 missiles. Those missiles are probably useless at the moment. But if the Saudis were to allow us to inspect them now, when Saudis blocked future inspections, we?d know they?d been weaponized. That?s probably why we?ve been forbidden to visit them. And if the Chinese won?t help fit nuclear warheads onto the missiles (for fear of provoking the United States), the Saudis could seek new missiles elsewhere, or simply plant ?suitcases? where needed.
The days when Richard Armitage could extract non-proliferation guarantees from the Saudis with a stiff dressing down are gone. At this point, in the wake of a nuclear-capable Iran, we?d need to offer the Gulf states a sophisticated anti-missile system, major conventional weapons capabilities, and serious American defense guarantees, to have any hope of preventing further proliferation. Yet each of these potential solutions to the proliferation problem raises troubling difficulties of its own.
Richard Russell (whose article ?Arab Security Responses to a Nuclear-Ready Iran? I?ve also drawn on here) argues that it would be a mistake to follow the Carter Doctrine in extending guarantees of nuclear retaliation to our allies in the Gulf. Russell believes that American reluctance to kill thousands to millions of Iranian civilians in retaliation for Iranian mischief in the Gulf would dampen the credibility of such a deterrent in any case. Better, says Russell, for America to threaten Iran with regime change imposed by conventional forces. But of course, it?s far from clear whether America has the will, and the conventional forces, to impose regime change on Iran. Then there?s that problem of Iran dropping a nuclear device on massed American troops. So our nuclear deterrent may be all we have left.
In ?Deter and Contain: Dealing with a Nuclear Iran,? Michael Eisenstadt suggests a different answer. To stop nuclear proliferation in the Gulf, arm our allies with major naval and air power, enabling them to threaten conventional destruction of Iran?s oil production and export facilities, in retaliation for Iranian assaults on the Gulf. But this would mean a dangerous conventional arms race in the Gulf, with all the instability and provocation to war that that implies (a war that could easily cripple the world?s economy). Nor would this arms aid likely eliminate pressure for American nuclear guarantees.
Imagine the battles over American foreign policy when the question becomes whether to extend our nuclear deterrence to the states of the Gulf, and how to arm and protect them. The offer of our nuclear umbrella raises the prospect of devastating nuclear war with Iran. Yet failure to deter means losing control of the world economy, and speeding up a proliferation nightmare. Options short of a nuclear guarantee require kicking off a major conventional arms race and/or a huge expansion of our own conventional military capabilities. All the options will be bad, and none of them will be dovish.
A nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia (perhaps eventually joined by a few of the smaller Gulf states) may soon emerge, whether America offers nuclear guarantees or not. A decade or two from now, an Islamist revolution in the Gulf could land those bombs in the hands of yet another rogue regime. In the meantime, a Saudi bomb (perhaps mounted on Chinese missiles that can reach Haifa as well as Tehran) could spark a conflagration in the Middle East and/or stimulate further proliferation, with Turkey, Egypt, Syria, and Algeria all candidates. At that point, it would be all-too-safe to hand effectively untraceable nukes off to terrorists for use against the cities of the United States.
? Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
National Review Online -
Reply #379 on:
September 08, 2006, 05:04:02 PM »
Iraq: Tehran's Shiite Autonomy Solution
Iraq's Shiite alliance said it will soon submit draft legislation in Parliament aimed at altering the structure of the Iraqi state. The move shows Iran has found a way around its Shiite allies' inability to dominate Baghdad. Even so, a number of domestic and international factors mean Iran is not interested seeing the Iraqi state collapse.
Iraq's ruling Shiite bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), will soon submit a proposed law aimed at carving autonomous regions out of the Iraqi state, UIA officials said Sept. 6. The officials said they had completed drafting a mechanism by which Iraqi provinces can combine to form federal regions. An unnamed senior aide to senior UIA deputy Humam al-Hamoudi, the chair of the committee that drafted the Iraqi Constitution in 2005, told Reuters that the draft law was broadly in line with wording removed from the draft constitution last year in the face of Sunni objections. These remarks come a day after UIA spokesman Abbas al-Bayati said that "in the next few sessions, the Parliament will discuss the law for the formation of provinces."
The proposed law suggests Iraq is witnessing two major developments. First, the Shiite factions that until now have competed for power in southern Iraq have reached an internal power-sharing mechanism. Second, Tehran has found a way to circumvent the obstacles to a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad. Combining existing provinces into federal zones would allow Tehran and its Shiite allies in Iraq to wield greater power over the Iraqi state by creating an additional layer of government.
The Iranians are well aware of divisions in the Iraqi Shiite community and of the dangers -- and potential international implications -- of an all-out Shiite-Sunni war. And Iran is not interested in seeing Iraq partitioned out of fears this could deter Tehran's bid to emerge as a regional hegemon.
The Shiite bloc's internal agreement to back a proposed southern federal zone is extraordinary given that previously only the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) pushed for such a zone. SCIRI -- led by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, who also heads the UIA -- is the most powerful and pro-Iranian component of the UIA. The consensus in the previously fractious UIA shows Tehran has used its influence among Iraq's various Shiite factions to get them all behind the proposed law.
As part of this process, Iran succeeded via its proxies in sidelining top Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has long been trying to maintain a distance between the Iraqi Shia and Tehran. The Daily Telegraph reported that al-Sistani said Sept. 3 that he no longer had the power to prevent Iraq from descending into civil war.
Evidence suggests Iran has worked hard to get non-Shiite Iraqi factions to agree to the plan, over which intense negotiations can be expected. For several weeks, and especially in the last few days, multiple Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders have made high-level visits to Tehran.
Iraq's Sunnis do not appear to be completely opposed to the idea of federalism, as evidenced by Sunni Parliament member Ala Makki's statement that Sunnis "do not object to the administrative application of federalism for better administration under the supervision of a strong central government." Not coincidentally, Iraqi Speaker of Parliament Mahmud Dawood al-Mashhadani -- another Sunni -- led a large delegation to Tehran some weeks back, showing the extent of Tehran's preparations for the proposed law.
Iran's efforts to create federal zones came in response to the U.S.-sponsored political process in Iraq, which has prevented Iran from attaining greater control over Baghdad despite its disproportionate influence not just among the Shia but also through its relations with key Sunni and Kurdish political actors. In keeping with the demographics of the country, Iraq's existing political system limits the extent to which pro-Iranian Shia can gain the upper hand, despite controlling the premiership, one vice presidency and the interior, finance, oil and national security positions in the Cabinet, along with the post of national security adviser.
By rearranging the provinces into autonomous federal zones along the lines of Iraq's northern Kurdistan region, the pro-Iranian Shia have found a way to consolidate their gains over power and the oil resources in the south. The Iraqi Shia and their Iranian patrons are trying to make regional autonomy the rule rather than an exception limited to the Kurds. Such an arrangement would help the Shia balance their power-sharing arrangement with the Kurds, which goes back to the early days of the interim administrations following Saddam Hussein's ouster.
How governorates and municipalities would be configured under this new federal structure remains unclear. Regardless, Iraq's persistent intercommunal and intracommunal conflicts will complicate the regional-autonomy plan. The row over the national flag stirred up by the Kurds a few days ago provides a vivid example of how federalism could unravel the Iraqi state.
There is the question of the balance of power between the central government and the proposed autonomous regions in terms of control over security and oil revenues. A key related development is the Sept. 7 hand-over of control of the Iraqi security forces from the United States to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell called the step "gigantic," and Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul-Qadre Mohammed Jassim said a dispute over a text outlining the new working relationship between the U.S. military and Iraqi armed forces had been resolved.
Events such as the Iraqi Shiite move for federalism have made Iran's position in Iraq much clearer: Tehran is going for the gold, and it will not settle for an Iraq in which Iran's allies are merely the largest political group in a coalition government. Moving toward a federalist model at a time when the United States and Israel are not in a position to do much about its regional ambitions would allow Tehran to reap the benefits it craves in Iraq, but potential pitfalls remain. Turkey, with which Iran has sought enhanced ties, will not welcome the justification Kurds will gain to increase their autonomy, given the Shiite move to enhance their own autonomy. And if the Sunnis decide to break off from the political process -- which could well happen -- the Iraqi state will slide into a true civil war. The Saudis and other Sunni Arab states are also very concerned about the outcome of the political struggle in Iraq, something Iran simply cannot dismiss.
Negotiations over the proposed autonomy plan thus could put Iraq's future at risk and could be detrimental to Iran's security. Iran is playing a very dangerous game, one in which success could mean strategic influence in Iraq, while failure could mean regional war.
Reply #380 on:
September 09, 2006, 12:25:01 AM »
Bush and Lincoln
Echoes of the past in today's strategic mistakes.
BY NEWT GINGRICH
Thursday, September 7, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. . . . As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves."
Annual message to Congress
Dec. 1, 1862
WASHINGTON--Five years have passed since the horrific attack on our American homeland, and, still, there is one serious, undeniable fact we have yet to confront: We are, today, not where we wanted to be and nowhere near where we need to be.
In April of 1861, in response to the firing on Fort Sumter, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to serve for 90 days. Lincoln had greatly underestimated the challenge of preserving the Union. No one imagined that what would become the Civil War would last four years and take the lives of 620,000 Americans.
By the summer of 1862, with thousands of Americans already dead or wounded and the hopes of a quick resolution to the war all but abandoned, three political factions had emerged. There were those who thought the war was too hard and would have accepted defeat by negotiating the end of the United States by allowing the South to secede. Second were those who urged staying the course by muddling through with a cautious military policy and a desire to be "moderate and reasonable" about Southern property rights, including slavery.
We see these first two factions today. The Kerry-Gore-Pelosi-Lamont bloc declares the war too hard, the world too dangerous. They try to find some explainable way to avoid reality while advocating return to "normalcy," and promoting a policy of weakness and withdrawal abroad.
Most government officials constitute the second wing, which argues the system is doing the best it can and that we have to "stay the course"--no matter how unproductive. But, after being exposed in the failed response to Hurricane Katrina, it will become increasingly difficult for this wing to keep explaining the continuing failures of the system.
Just consider the following: Osama bin Laden is still at large. Afghanistan is still insecure. Iraq is still violent. North Korea and Iran are still building nuclear weapons and missiles. Terrorist recruiting is still occurring in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and across the planet.
By late summer, 1862, Lincoln agonizingly concluded that a third faction had the right strategy for victory. This group's strategy demanded reorganizing everything as needed, intensifying the war, and bringing the full might of the industrial North to bear until the war was won.
The first and greatest lesson of the last five years parallels what Lincoln came to understand. The dangers are greater, the enemy is more determined, and victory will be substantially harder than we had expected in the early days after the initial attack. Despite how painful it would prove to be, Lincoln chose the road to victory. President Bush today finds himself in precisely the same dilemma Lincoln faced 144 years ago. With American survival at stake, he also must choose. His strategies are not wrong, but they are failing. And they are failing for three reasons.
(1) They do not define the scale of the emerging World War III, between the West and the forces of militant Islam, and so they do not outline how difficult the challenge is and how big the effort will have to be. (2) They do not define victory in this larger war as our goal, and so the energy, resources and intensity needed to win cannot be mobilized. (3) They do not establish clear metrics of achievement and then replace leaders, bureaucrats and bureaucracies as needed to achieve those goals.
To be sure, Mr. Bush understands that we cannot ignore our enemies; they are real. He knows that an enemy who believes in religiously sanctioned suicide-bombing is an enemy who, with a nuclear or biological weapon, is a mortal threat to our survival as a free country. The analysis Mr. Bush offers the nation--before the Joint Session on Sept. 20, 2001, in his 2002 State of the Union, in his 2005 Second Inaugural--is consistently correct. On each occasion, he outlines the threat, the moral nature of the conflict and the absolute requirement for victory.
Unfortunately, the great bureaucracies Mr. Bush presides over (but does not run) have either not read his speeches or do not believe in his analysis. The result has been a national security performance gap that we must confront if we are to succeed in winning this rising World War III.
We have to be honest about how big this problem is and then design new, bolder and more profound strategies to secure American national security in a very dangerous 21st century. Unless we, like Lincoln, think anew, we cannot set the nation on a course for victory. Here are some initial steps:
First, the president should address a Joint Session of Congress to explain to the country the urgency of the threat of losing millions of people in one or more cities if our enemies find a way to deliver weapons of mass murder to American soil. He should further communicate the scale of the anti-American coalition, the clarity of their desire to destroy America, and the requirement that we defeat them. He should then make clear to the world that a determined American people whose very civilization is at stake will undertake the measures needed to prevail over our enemies. While desiring the widest possible support, we will not compromise our self-defense in order to please our critics.
Then he should announce an aggressively honest review of what has not worked in the first five years of the war. Based upon the findings he should initiate a sweeping transformation of the White House's national security apparatus. The current hopelessly slow and inefficient interagency system should be replaced by a new metrics-based and ruthlessly disciplined integrated system of accountability, with clear timetables and clear responsibilities.
The president should insist upon creating new aggressive entrepreneurial national security systems that replace (rather than reform) the current failing bureaucracies. For example, the Agency for International Development has been a disaster in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The president should issue new regulations where possible and propose new legislation where necessary. The old systems cannot be allowed to continue to fail without consequence. Those within the bureaucracies who cannot follow the president's directives should be compelled to leave.
Following this initiative, the president should propose a dramatic and deep overhaul of homeland security grounded in metrics-based performance to create a system capable of meeting the seriousness of the threat. The leaders of the new national security and homeland security organizations should be asked what they need to win this emerging World War III, and then the budget should be developed. We need a war budget, but we currently have an OMB-driven, pseudo-war budget. The goal of victory, ultimately, will lead to a dramatically larger budget, which will lead to a serious national debate. We can win this argument, but we first have to make it.
Congress should immediately pass the legislation sent by the president yesterday to meet the requirements of the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision. More broadly, it should pass an act that recognizes that we are entering World War III and serves notice that the U.S. will use all its resources to defeat our enemies--not accommodate, understand or negotiate with them, but defeat them.
Because the threat of losing millions of Americans is real, Congress should hold blunt, no-holds-barred oversight hearings on what is and is not working. Laws should be changed to shift from bureaucratic to entrepreneurial implementation throughout the national security and homeland security elements of government.
Beyond our shores, we must commit to defeating the enemies of freedom in Iraq, starting with doubling the size of the Iraqi military and police forces. We should put Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia on notice that any help going to the enemies of the Iraqi people will be considered hostile acts by the U.S. In southern Lebanon, the U.S. should insist on disarming Hezbollah, emphasizing it as the first direct defeat of Syria and Iran--thus restoring American prestige in the region while undermining the influence of the Syrian and Iranian dictatorships.
Further, we should make clear our goal of replacing the repressive dictatorships in North Korea, Iran and Syria, whose aim is to do great harm to the American people and our allies. Our first steps should be the kind of sustained aggressive strategy of replacement which Ronald Reagan directed brilliantly in Poland, and ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet empire.
The result of this effort would be borders that are controlled, ports that are secure and an enemy that understands the cost of going up against the full might of the U.S. No enemy can stand against a determined American people. But first we must commit to victory. These steps are the first on a long and difficult road to victory, but are necessary to win the future.
Mr. Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of "Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America" (Regnery, 2005).
A general theory of just about everything
Reply #381 on:
September 10, 2006, 01:32:27 PM »
A general theory of just about everything
By JONATHAN ROSENBLUM
Now that recluse mathematician Grigory Perelman has proven Poincaire's Conjecture, only a few longstanding conundrums remain to be solved. To name two: Why do Western societies inevitably tend towards appeasement? Why has anti-Semitism migrated to the Left?
The answer to both questions lies in the prevalent Western view of man as a rational pleasure-seeking animal, whose life has no ultimate purpose outside itself and ends with death. As a descriptive matter, that is a fair picture of the way many members of post-Christian, Western societies live their lives.
The question, however, is: Can a society comprised primarily of such people defend itself? For those who experience their lives in this way, war will always be an irrational choice, unless the chance of being killed is very small and the potential reward very great. Only fools who believe in some transcendental values, such as the nation or democracy, or who have a very large stake in the future, will ever go to war, as long as any alternative exists.
Plummeting Western fertility rates have left ever fewer people with that kind of stake in the future. Without children to whom to bequeath the world, or a belief in an afterlife, why sacrifice oneself on the altar of the future?
Even in the face of an aggressive external threat, the rational choice will always be to placate the enemy, hopefully long enough to allow one to shuffle off this mortal coil before the bribe money runs out.
The West has delegitimized the resort to war in almost every circumstance. It enunciates rules of combat that favor non-state actors and terrorists. And its fetish with body counts reflects the belief that every resort to violence is proof of immorality. (As Binyamin Netanyahu pointed out to a BBC interviewer, Germany suffered more casualties in World War II than America and Britain combined, without thereby establishing its superior moral claim.)
The simulacrum of peace is confused with peace itself. As long as the sides are talking, all is well. Europe will still be engaging Iran in further discussions long after the latter has armed its intercontinental missiles with nuclear warheads.
PLEASURE-SEEKING children of the enlightenment mistakenly view all men in their own image.They dwell in a fantasy world, in which men of goodwill can iron out all their differences over a conference table, oblivious to the real threats confronting them.
There is no room in their philosophy for a young British-born Muslim couple who intended to blow up a transatlantic airplane by igniting liquid explosive in their baby's bottle. Nor can they appreciate the impeccable religious logic of nuclear war for the Iranian mullahs. As Ayatollah Khomeini put it: Either we will annihilate all the infidels, and thereby gain our freedom, or we will die trying, and thereby attain the greater freedom of a martyr's death.
Contemplating the jihadists' logic - the logic of those who crave death - is terrifying and causes many to deny the obvious: the West is in a religious war. After Canadian police uncovered a plot to blow up the Parliament buildings and behead the prime minister, the police spokesman described the plotters as coming from a broad cross-section of society - albeit all named Muhammad or Ahmed. And the deputy commissioner of Scotland Yard called those plotting to blow up 10 airliners nothing but common criminals, at most "hiding behind certain faiths."
The intellectuals desperately grasp at the model of a grievance for every man, and a price for every grievance. They cannot acknowledge that Muslims engage in terror not to achieve any definable goal, but because terrorizing the infidels is what they do best, and doing so provides them with a sense of power otherwise absent from their thwarted lives and failed societies.
But not all goals can be reconciled, and it is not always possible to split the difference. The Islamists' goal of imposing Shari'a law on the entire world cannot find a happy modus vivendi with the West's desire to live in peace and comfort.
Even when Westerners glimpse the truth, they flee from it and quickly revert to type. Over half of Britons now view Islam itself as a threat to society. Yet flogged by the BBC, they convince themselves that Islam has grievances and those grievances can be assuaged.
The Muslim MPs and peers who audaciously warned of further terrorist attacks by native-born Muslims unless Prime Minister Tony Blair mends his foreign policy knew their audience. Britons prefer to believe that British foreign policy, not bottomless Islamic rage, breeds suicide bombers. Blair's dismal poll numbers reflect that belief.
THE CONTINUED existence of the Jewish people has always posed an insolvable problem for materialists of every stripe, from Toynbee to Marx, and caused them to rail against the Jews. Today's enlightened humanists rail against Israel in the same way. And increasingly they couch their condemnations of Israel in explicitly religious terms.
Norwegian novelist Jostein Gaarder and Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth both attributed Israeli bombing of Lebanon to the primitive Jewish morality of "an eye for an eye" (ignorant that the Talmud interprets the verse as referring to monetary compensation). Toynbee once declared the Jews an "atavism"; today Prof. Tony Judt calls Israel's religious-ethnic state an "anachronism" and prominent European voices bemoan Israel's creation as a costly "mistake."
Intellectuals seek to preserve their fantasy model of a world of rational game-players by turning Israel into the Islamists' only grievance and imagining an idyllic world without the Jewish state.
Just as Neville Chamberlain convinced himself that Hitler would be satisfied with the Sudetenland, so do many Western intellectuals, on far weaker evidence, imagine that the Islamists will be satisfied with Israel, and that only Israel's obstinate determination to exist prevents peace in our time.
Reply #382 on:
September 10, 2006, 11:43:31 PM »
Some deep thoughts in there Denny, good one.
Changing subjects completely, here's something about the Anbar province of Iraq and some discouraging news from Afg.
Situation Called Dire in West Iraq
Anbar Is Lost Politically, Marine Analyst Says
By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 11, 2006; A01
The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western al Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents.
The officials described Col. Pete Devlin's classified assessment of the dire state of Anbar as the first time that a senior U.S. military officer has filed so negative a report from Iraq.
One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically -- and that's where wars are won and lost."
The "very pessimistic" statement, as one Marine officer called it, was dated Aug. 16 and sent to Washington shortly after that, and has been discussed across the Pentagon and elsewhere in national security circles. "I don't know if it is a shock wave, but it's made people uncomfortable," said a Defense Department official who has read the report. Like others interviewed about the report, he spoke on the condition that he not be identified by name because of the document's sensitivity.
Devlin reports that there are no functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has become the province's most significant political force, said the Army officer, who has read the report. Another person familiar with the report said it describes Anbar as beyond repair; a third said it concludes that the United States has lost in Anbar.
Devlin offers a series of reasons for the situation, including a lack of U.S. and Iraqi troops, a problem that has dogged commanders since the fall of Baghdad more than three years ago, said people who have read it. These people said he reported that not only are military operations facing a stalemate, unable to extend and sustain security beyond the perimeters of their bases, but local governments in the province have also collapsed and the weak central government has almost no presence.
Those conclusions are striking because, even after four years of fighting an unexpectedly difficult war in Iraq, the U.S. military has tended to maintain an optimistic view: that its mission is difficult, but that progress is being made. Although CIA station chiefs in Baghdad have filed negative classified reports over the past several years, military intelligence officials have consistently been more positive, both in public statements and in internal reports.
Devlin, as part of the I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) headquarters in Iraq, has been stationed there since February, so his report isn't being dismissed as the stunned assessment of a newly arrived officer. In addition, he has the reputation of being one of the Marine Corps' best intelligence officers, with a tendency to be careful and straightforward, said another Marine intelligence officer. Hence, the report is being taken seriously as it is examined inside the military establishment and also by some CIA officials.
Not everyone interviewed about the report agrees with its glum findings. The Defense Department official, who worked in Iraq earlier this year, said his sense is that Anbar province is going to be troubled as long as U.S. troops are in Iraq. "Lawlessness is a way of life there," he said. As for the report, he said, "It's one conclusion about one area. The conclusion on al Anbar doesn't translate into a perspective on the entire country."
No one interviewed would quote from the report, citing its classification, and The Washington Post was not shown a copy of it. But over the past three weeks, Devlin's paper has been widely disseminated in military and intelligence circles. It is provoking intense debate over the key finding that in Anbar, the U.S. effort to clear and hold major cities and the upper Euphrates valley has failed.
The report comes at an awkward time politically, just as a midterm election campaign gets underway that promises to be in part a referendum on the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war. It also follows by just a few weeks the testimony of Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee early last month that "it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war."
"It's hard to be optimistic right now," said one Army general who has served in Iraq. "There's a sort of critical mass of tough news," he said, with intensifying violence from the insurgency and between Sunnis and Shiites, a lack of effective Iraqi government and a growing concern that Iraq may be falling apart.
"In the analytical world, there is a real pall of gloom descending," said Jeffrey White, a former analyst of Middle Eastern militaries for the Defense Intelligence Agency, who also had been told about the pessimistic Marine report.
Devlin, who is in Iraq, could not be reached to comment. Col. Jerry Renne, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said Saturday that "as a matter of policy, we don't comment on classified documents."
Anbar is a key province; it encompasses Ramadi and Fallujah, which with Baghdad pose the greatest challenge U.S. forces have faced in Iraq. It accounts for 30 percent of Iraq's land mass, encompassing the vast area from the capital to the borders of Syria and Jordan, including much of the area that has come to be known as the Sunni Triangle.
The insurgency arguably began there with fighting in Fallujah not long after U.S. troops arrived in April 2003, and fighting has since continued. Thirty-three U.S. military personnel died there in August -- 17 of them Marines, 13 from the Army and three from the Navy.
A second general who has read the report warned that he thought it was accurate as far as it went, but agreed with the defense official that Devlin's "dismal" view may not have much applicability elsewhere in Iraq. The problems facing Anbar are peculiar to that region, he and others argued.
But an Army officer in Iraq familiar with the report said he considers it accurate. "It is best characterized as 'realistic,' " he said.
"From what I understand, it is very candid, very unvarnished," said retired Marine Col. G. I. Wilson. "It says the emperor has no clothes."
One view of the report offered by some Marine officers is that it is a cry for help from an area where fighting remains intense, yet which recently has been neglected by top commanders and Bush administration officials as they focus their efforts on bringing a sense of security to Baghdad. An Army unit of Stryker light armored vehicles that had been slated to replace another unit in Anbar was sent to reinforce operations in Baghdad, leaving commanders in the west scrambling to move around other troops to fill the gap.
Devlin's report is a work of intelligence analysis, not of policy prescription, so it does not try to suggest what, if anything, can be done to fix the situation. It is not clear what the implications would be for U.S. forces if Devlin's view is embraced by top commanders elsewhere in Iraq. U.S. officials are wary of simply abandoning the Sunni parts of Iraq, for fear that they could become havens for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
One possible solution would be to try to turn over the province to Iraqi forces, but that could increase the risk of a full-blown civil war, because Shiite-dominated forces might begin slaughtering Sunnis, while Sunni-dominated units might simply begin acting independently of the central government.
? 2006 The Washington Post Company
Top soldier quits as blundering campaign turns into 'pointless' war
THE former aide-de-camp to the commander of the British taskforce in southern Afghanistan has described the campaign in Helmand province as ?a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency?.
?Having a big old fight is pointless and just making things worse,? said Captain Leo Docherty, of the Scots Guards, who became so disillusioned that he quit the army last month.
?All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British,? he said. ?It?s a pretty clear equation ? if people are losing homes and poppy fields, they will go and fight. I certainly would.
?We?ve been grotesquely clumsy ? we?ve said we?ll be different to the Americans who were bombing and strafing villages, then behaved exactly like them.?
Docherty?s criticisms, the first from an officer who has served in Helmand, came during the worst week so far for British troops in Afghanistan, with the loss of 18 men.
They reflected growing concern that forces have been left exposed in small northern outposts of Helmand such as Sangin, Musa Qala and Nawzad. Pinned down by daily Taliban attacks, many have run short of food and water and have been forced to rely on air support and artillery.
?We?ve deviated spectacularly from the original plan,? said Docherty, who was aide-de-camp to Colonel Charlie Knaggs, the commander in Helmand.
?The plan was to secure the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, initiate development projects and enable governance . . . During this time, the insecure northern part of Helmand would be contained: troops would not be ?sucked in? to a problem unsolvable by military means alone.?
According to Docherty, the planning ?fell by the wayside? because of pressure from the governor of Helmand, who feared the Taliban were toppling his district chiefs in northern towns.
Docherty traces the start of the problems to the British capture of Sangin on May 25, in which he took part. He says troops were sent to seize this notorious centre of Taliban and narcotics activity without night-vision goggles and with so few vehicles they had to borrow a pick-up truck.
More damningly, once they had established a base in the town, the mission failed to capitalise on their presence. Sangin has no paved roads, running water or electricity, but because of a lack of support his men were unable to carry out any development, throwing away any opportunity to win over townspeople.
?The military is just one side of the triangle,? he said. ?Where were the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office? ?The window was briefly open for our message to be spread, for the civilian population to be informed of our intent and realise that we weren?t there simply to destroy the poppy fields and their livelihoods. I felt at this stage that the Taliban were sitting back and observing us, deciding in their own time how to most effectively hit us.?
Eventually the Taliban attacked on June 11, when Captain Jim Philippson became the first British soldier to be killed in Helmand. British troops have since been holed up in their compound with attacks coming at least once a day. Seven British soldiers have died in the Sangin area.
?Now the ground has been lost and all we?re doing in places like Sangin is surviving,? said Docherty. ?It?s completely barking mad.
?We?re now scattered in a shallow meaningless way across northern towns where the only way for the troops to survive is to increase the level of violence so more people get killed. It?s pretty shocking and not something I want to be part of.?
Last Edit: September 11, 2006, 10:10:57 AM by Crafty_Dog
The Battle of Britain and our battle
Reply #383 on:
September 13, 2006, 08:53:06 AM »
The Battle of Britain and our battle
By JONATHAN ARIEL
This September 15, Great Britain will commemorate one of its proudest moments, the 66th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. This is a day that should be remembered and honored not just by the citizens of Britain, but by every inhabitant of this planet who cherishes liberty and freedom.
The Battle of Britain is one of history's turning points. From July to September 1940, the RAF was engaged in a life-and-death struggle with the vaunted Luftwaffe, which until then had known nothing but success in Spain, Poland and France. By the thinnest of margins, the pilots and ground crews of RAF's Fighter Command prevailed, denying the Luftwaffe the air superiority it needed to enable the Wehrmacht to attempt an invasion of Britain.
The victory was not due to the Spitfire's mythical superiority over the Luftwaffe's Messerschmitt fighters. In reality the two aircraft were equally matched, and, it should be remembered, two-thirds of Fighter Command's squadrons flew the older Hawker Hurricanes, which by 1940 were approaching obsolescence, and no match for the ME 109.
The victory was ultimately due to the will power, vision and faith of Winston Churchill and Hugh Dowding, CO RAF Fighter Command. The former, who had been a voice in the wilderness against the appeasement of Nazi Germany, was able at the crucial hour to rally and inspire his country to an extraordinary act of valor. The latter had the very rare ability to think completely creatively.
Dowding realized that the combination of faster monoplane fighters and the invention of radar (in the nick of time) meant that the long-held doctrine of air war - "the bomber will always get through" - no longer applied, and designed, over the opposition of much of his own country's military establishment, the world's first air defense system.
This system, Britain's sole material advantage over Germany, was completed shortly before the war broke out.
TODAY THE West is in a similar mind-set to that of France and Britain after WWI. The horrors of that war generated within Western democracies a profound revulsion of the very idea of war. This led to the policy of appeasement of Nazi Germany.
Following its victory in the Cold War, and the demise of the USSR, the conventional wisdom was that war, as far as the West was concerned, had become a thing of the past and that economics, not politics, would dominate international diplomacy and geopolitics.
Unfortunately large parts of the Arab-Islamic world have not accepted that conventional wisdom. To them the defeat of the Soviet Union was not an opportunity to end war, but one to make war on the West.
Certain Western liberal intellectual circles have proven themselves capable of coming up with a seemingly limitless supply of specious reasons to explain, understand and even justify this visceral hatred of the West by large parts of the Arab-Islamic world.
Ultimately the reason is very simple: resentment of the ascent of the West.
Islam so far has proven congenitally incapable of doing what Christianity has done - allowing the evolution of a society in which the political and religious establishments are independent of one another. It is this evolution that facilitated and expedited the ascent of the West, by enabling the development of a political system based on democracy, freedom of thought and speech, and religious and cultural pluralism. These then spurred the major technological, scientific, economic and social advancements that empowered the West and have enabled it to dominate the globe politically and economically for the past 200 years.
THE ISLAMIC world has had ample opportunity to adopt the values that were instrumental in the West's ascent, but its political and religious establishments have chosen not to. The reason is very clear: They would rather wield total power over a failed society than share power with other groups in a successful one.
To facilitate this they have abused their oil wealth. Instead of using it to promote and develop their societies, they have impoverished them. Petrodollars that could have been spent on creating first-class educational systems have instead been used to create and maintain security apparatuses whose sole purpose is to ensure the absolute rule of a corrupt elite by repressing any sign of dissent.
These same political and religious leaders have constantly aided and abetted the most reactionary elements within their religious establishments, which in return have channeled popular frustrations generated by the regimes' failures outwards, against the "infidel West."
The Islamic world has, for the most part, been willing to buy this, preferring to blame the West for conspiring against it rather than take responsibility for its spectacular failures.
IS THIS perhaps beginning to sound familiar? It should, for all one has to do is replace "Muslim" with "German" and "the West" with "Jews" in order to generate a feeling of d j vu.
For several years the West preferred to ignore the threat posed by Nazi Germany until it was almost too late. In 1940 Britain found itself locked in a life or death struggle with Nazi Germany, outmanned and outgunned. Fortunately it found the required reserves of will power to persevere, and ultimately prevail.
Today we face a similar threat, that of Islamo-fascism. This threat is no less serious than that posed by the Nazis, since it also is founded on an ideology totally incompatible with the core Western values of democracy and freedom. Just as there was ultimately no possibility to compromise with Nazi Germany, so there can be no possibility of compromising and coexisting with Islamo-fascism.
Unlike Britain in 1940, this time Western democracy has entered the battle from a position of relative strength, with all the means needed to prevail. Unfortunately we, or at least much of our political and cultural leadership, seems to be lacking the will to do so. Rather than accept the unpalatable reality that we are faced by an enemy threatened by our values and willing to destroy us in order to eradicate them, there are far too many among us who insist on turning a blind eye toward it.
Just as the democracies deluded themselves into thinking they could coexist with the Nazis, and maintained a policy based on appeasement and compromise, there are unfortunately influential forces within our societies who would rather compromise and appease than face facts and confront.
Churchill's words to Britain and the free world - "It's time to brace ourselves for the coming battle" - uttered after the fall of France, are unfortunately as apt today as they were in the summer of 1940.
However no less important is to fully appreciate the magnitude of what is at stake. The words of Lincoln do this best, because the ultimate targets of the forces of fascism are the very core, idea and values on which "government of the people, for the people, and by the people" is based.
The writer is a former editor-in-chief of Ma'ariv International.
Reply #384 on:
September 15, 2006, 08:27:49 AM »
The Right Troops in the Right Places
By SETH MOULTON
Published: September 15, 2006
Today's NY Times
APPROACHING the city of Karbala last year for a meeting with a local Iraqi Army commander, my convoy of four Army Humvees came across hundreds of bearded men in green camouflage uniforms lining the road. They were directing traffic and searching vehicles for bombs ? good things ? and they waved us through, just as Iraqi security forces should.
But we don?t issue green uniforms to Iraqi troops.
After the meeting, I sent an e-mail message to my headquarters in Baghdad, asking whether an entire Iraqi battalion, usually 700 to 1,000 soldiers, had been newly authorized for this relatively peaceful province.
Of course, it hadn?t. This was another new militia. And even though the militia had already been approved by Iraqi officials, and recruited, outfitted and deployed in daily operations, no senior American commander in Baghdad knew about it.
Still, it wasn?t hard to explain how this could happen in Karbala, a major city just two hours from Baghdad. There were hardly any Americans there.
The last American base in Karbala was closed in the summer of 2005. Ostensibly our departure was a victory ? an area turned over to Iraqi control. The American troops weren?t sent home, though; they were simply shifted north to a town near Falluja, where they were needed more.
For most of 2005, I worked for the American commander in charge of training Iraqi security forces. My job was to keep tabs on Iraqi troops in several provinces south of Baghdad that were mostly Iraqi-controlled. As a young Marine lieutenant, I was honored to have the responsibility, but it was a sign of how thinly our forces are stretched. My team of two marines could have used about 50 more.
Time and again I watched as American forces drew down, and militias blossomed in the resulting power vacuum. The first provinces we are handing over to our Iraqi counterparts are in the heart of the Shiite south, an area where anti-American violence is minimal but ethnic hatred is brewing.
Sunni insurgents started attacking Shiites, who make up about 60 percent of all Iraqis, to destabilize the new Iraqi government. The Shiites? ethnic-based response, however, carried out by their militias, is what ignited the deeply sectarian violence that now threatens outright civil war. The premature departure of American troops from the places where the militias were born only feeds their growth. A good Iraqi friend from the area told me recently that Iraqis now call this time ?the militia era.?
In the long term, we must withdraw American troops, and replacing them with capable Iraqi forces is the right way to do it. But there are two serious problems with how we are putting this strategy into effect.
First, despite all rhetoric in Washington to the contrary, American commanders are being pressured to meet timelines rather than encouraged to wait until Iraqi forces are ready. ?Standing up? Iraqi troops is not enough; they must be well-trained.
Second, our strategy is based on consolidating American forces in huge megabases as a means to reduce numbers and, as advocated by several members of Congress, to ?move to the periphery.? This is exactly the opposite of what has been prescribed for decades to fight a counterinsurgency, or to squelch a fomenting civil war.
American military advisers, and the Green Berets they take after, are our greatest assets in Iraq because they are a model for how to fight insurgents and build indigenous forces. Our advisers teach the Iraqi troops everything from physical fitness to urban warfare tactics, and mentor their officers in leadership and mission planning.
I once visited an Iraqi base where a combination of officer corruption and insurgent activity had led to a severe water shortage. An entire battalion was ready to quit, but the Green Berets embedded with the Iraqis encouraged them to stay while they pressed for a solution ? and endured the shortage alongside the Iraqi soldiers. The battalion remained intact, and we discovered new problems with the Iraqi supply system and new tactics of local insurgents.
Our advisers can also thwart militia attempts to infiltrate the Iraqi units, and are better able to judge when the Iraqis are competent to take over. Most important, while sharing intelligence and conducting joint operations, these small groups of American soldiers and marines develop the trust of their Iraqi soldiers and the local populace. Our growing megabases do anything but.
So, what should we do? The obvious prescription to stop the rising violence is more troops, but the wrong kinds of soldiers and tactics only alienate the Iraqi people, strengthening the insurgency. On top of that, the Army and Marine Corps don?t have any extra troops to send. President Bush recently sent more American forces back into Baghdad, another place where militias took over after United States troops were withdrawn too quickly. But they too have to come from somewhere, and in turn we should expect those areas to become more violent.
This makes it all the more important to use the troops we have as effectively as possible.
We need more military advisers, including both Special Forces teams and specially trained conventional units. Our precious few Special Forces troops must focus on mentoring Iraqi troops, rather than on the more exciting diversion of unilateral raids. Some of our best Special Forces units were devoted to hunting down the Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but violence has only increased in the three months since his death. Had that same manpower and money been devoted to training Iraqi troops and stemming the growth of militias, we would have another Iraqi battalion or two ready to take our places.
While consolidating bases is a short-term way to reduce troop requirements, fielding more adviser teams will eventually allow more Americans to come home. American troops embedded with the Iraqis they train usually require less support than conventional units; many rely on the Iraqis for food, shelter and basic defenses. Green Berets in 12-man teams have already replaced entire battalions of conventional forces in some Iraqi cities.
Yet despite the success of advisers, the Army and Marine Corps still have a habit of sending their least capable troops to fill these positions. Many teams have trouble getting essential supplies like weapons and ammunition, even as the Army finds the resources to man speed traps on its ever-growing bases. Only 1 in 30 Americans deployed to Iraq serves as an embedded adviser. We can?t win this war from the Burger Kings and rec centers of our largest bases, nor can we afford the thousands of non-combat troops needed to support them.
Iraq?s militia problems are likely to get worse before they get better, and only a legitimate Iraqi government can rid the country of them completely. But we must be sure we are fighting the war we say we are. Both problems with our current strategy ? not waiting for Iraqi forces to be ready, and consolidating our bases at the expense of classic counterinsurgency tactics like small adviser teams ? emanate from the overriding concern for bringing the troops home.
Pushing for withdrawal timelines is not helping the struggle in Iraq; encouraging the military to better fight the insurgency will. After all, winning the war would be the best reason to leave.
Seth Moulton was a Marine infantry officerin Iraq from March toSeptember 2003 and from July 2004 toOctober 2005. He is writing a book about his service.
Reply #385 on:
September 16, 2006, 12:11:10 AM »
The U.S. War, Five Years On
By George Friedman
It has been five years since the Sept. 11 attacks. In thinking about the
course of the war against al Qaeda, two facts emerge pre-eminent.
The first is that the war has succeeded far better than anyone would have
thought on Sept. 12, 2001. We remember that day clearly, and had anyone told
us that there would be no more al Qaeda attacks in the United States for at
least five years, we would have been incredulous. Yet there have been no
The second fact is that the U.S. intervention in the Islamic world has not
achieved its operational goals. There are multiple insurgencies under way in
Iraq, and the United States does not appear to have sufficient force or
strategic intent to suppress them. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has
re-emerged as a powerful fighting force. It is possible that the relatively
small coalition force -- a force much smaller than that fielded by the
defeated Soviets in Afghanistan -- can hold it at bay, but clearly coalition
troops cannot annihilate it.
A Strategic Response
The strategic goal of the United States on Sept. 12, 2001, was to prevent
any further attacks within the United States. Al Qaeda, defined as the
original entity that orchestrated the 1998 attacks against the U.S.
embassies in Africa, the USS Cole strike and 9/11, has been thrown into
disarray and has been unable to mount a follow-on attack without being
detected and disrupted. Other groups, loosely linked to al Qaeda or linked
only by name or shared ideology, have carried out attacks, but none have
been as daring and successful as 9/11.
In response to 9/11, the United States resorted to direct overt and covert
intervention throughout the Islamic world. With the first intervention, in
Afghanistan, the United States and coalition forces disrupted al Qaeda's
base of operations, destabilized the group and forced it on the defensive.
Here also, the stage was set for a long guerrilla war that the United States
cannot win with the forces available.
The invasion of Iraq, however incoherent the Bush administration's
explanation of it might be, achieved two things. First, it convinced Saudi
Arabia of the seriousness of American resolve and caused the Saudis to
become much more aggressive in cooperating with U.S. intelligence. Second,
it allowed the United States to occupy the most strategic ground in the
Middle East -- bordering on Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Iran.
From here, the United States was able to pose overt threats and to stage
covert operations against al Qaeda. Yet by invading Iraq, the United States
also set the stage for the current military crisis.
The U.S. strategy was to disrupt al Qaeda in three ways:
1. Bring the intelligence services of Muslim states -- through persuasion,
intimidation or coercion -- to provide intelligence that was available only
to them on al Qaeda's operations.
2. By invading Afghanistan and Iraq, use main force to disrupt al Qaeda and
to intimidate and coerce Islamic states. In other words, use Operation 2 to
achieve Operation 1.
3. Use the intelligence gained by these methods to conduct a range of covert
operations throughout the world, including in the United States itself, to
disrupt al Qaeda operations.
The problem, however, was this. The means used to compel cooperation with
the intelligence services in countries such as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia
involved actions that, while successful in the immediate intent, left U.S.
forces exposed on a battleground where the correlation of forces, over time,
ceased to favor the United States. In other words, while the invasions of
Afghanistan and Iraq did achieve their immediate ends and did result in
effective action against al Qaeda, the outcome was to expose the U.S. forces
to exhausting counterinsurgency that they were not configured to win.
Hindsight: The Search for an Ideal Strategy
The ideal outcome likely would have been to carry out the first and third
operations without the second. As many would argue, an acceptable outcome
would have been to carry out the Afghanistan operation without going into
Iraq. This is the crux of the debate that has been raging since the Iraq
invasion and that really began earlier, during the Afghan war, albeit in
muted form. On the one side, the argument is that by invading Muslim
countries, the United States has played into al Qaeda's hands and actually
contributed to radicalization among Islamists -- and that by refraining from
invasion, the Americans would have reduced the threat posed by al Qaeda. On
the other side, the argument has been made that without these two
invasions -- the one for direct tactical reasons, the other for
psychological and political reasons -- al Qaeda would be able to operate
securely and without effective interference from U.S. intelligence and that,
therefore, these invasions were the price to be paid.
There are three models, then, that have been proposed as ideals:
1. The United States should have invaded neither Afghanistan nor Iraq, but
instead should have relied entirely on covert measures (with various levels
of restraint suggested) to defeat al Qaeda.
2. The United States should have invaded Afghanistan to drive out al Qaeda
and disrupt the organization, but should not have invaded Iraq.
3. The United States needed to invade both Iraq and Afghanistan -- the
former for strategic reasons and to intimidate key players, the latter to
disrupt al Qaeda operations and its home base.
It is interesting to pause and consider that the argument is rarely this
clear-cut. Those arguing for Option 1 rarely explain how U.S. covert
operations would be carried out, and frequently oppose those operations as
well. Those who make the second argument fail to explain how, given that the
command cell of al Qaeda had escaped Afghanistan, the United States would
continue the war -- or more precisely, where the Americans would get the
intelligence to fight a covert war. Those who argue for the third course --
the Bush administration -- rarely explain precisely what the strategic
purpose of the war was.
In fact, 9/11 created a logic that drove the U.S. responses. Before any
covert war could be launched, al Qaeda's operational structure had to be
disrupted -- at the very least, to buy time before another attack.
Therefore, an attack in Afghanistan had to come first (and did, commencing
about a month after 9/11). Calling this an invasion, of course, would be an
error: The United States borrowed forces from Russian and Iranian allies in
Afghanistan -- and that, coupled with U.S. air power, forced the Taliban out
of the cities to disperse, regroup and restart the war later.
Covert War and a Logical Progression
The problem that the United States had with commencing covert operations
against al Qaeda was weakness in its intelligence system. To conduct a
covert war, you must have excellent intelligence -- and U.S. intelligence on
al Qaeda in the wake of 9/11 was not good enough to sustain a global covert
effort. The best intelligence on al Qaeda, simply given the nature of the
group as well as its ideology, was in the hands of the Pakistanis and the
Saudis. At the very least, Islamic governments were more likely to have
accumulated the needed intelligence than the CIA was.
The issue was in motivating these governments to cooperate with the U.S.
effort. The Saudis in particular were dubious about U.S. will, given
previous decades of behavior. Officials in Riyadh frankly were more worried
about al Qaeda's behavior within Saudi Arabia if they collaborated with the
Americans than they were about the United States acting resolutely. Recall
that the Saudis asked U.S. forces to leave Saudi Arabia after 9/11. Changing
the kingdom's attitude was a necessary precursor to waging the covert war,
just as Afghanistan was a precursor to changing attitudes in Pakistan.
Invading Iraq was a way for the United States to demonstrate will, while
occupying strategic territory to bring further pressure against countries
like Syria. It was also a facilitator for a global covert war. The
information the Saudis started to provide after the U.S. invasion was
critical in disrupting al Qaeda operations. And the Saudis did, in fact, pay
the price for collaboration: Al Qaeda rose up against the regime, staging
its first attack in the kingdom in May 2003, and was repressed.
In this sense, we can see a logical progression. Invading Afghanistan
disrupted al Qaeda operations there and forced Pakistani President Gen.
Pervez Musharraf to step up cooperation with the United States. Invading
Iraq reshaped Saudi thinking and put the United States in a position to
pressure neighboring countries. The two moves together increased U.S.
intelligence capabilities decisively and allowed it to disrupt al Qaeda.
But it also placed U.S. forces in a strategically difficult position. Any
U.S. intervention in Asia, it has long been noted, places the United States
at a massive disadvantage. U.S. troops inevitably will be outnumbered. They
also will be fighting on an enemy's home turf, far away from everything
familiar and comfortable. If forced into a political war, in which the enemy
combatants use the local populace to hide themselves -- and if that populace
is itself hostile to the Americans -- the results can be extraordinarily
unpleasant. Thus, the same strategy that allowed the United States to
disrupt al Qaeda also placed U.S. forces in strategically difficult
positions in two theaters of operation.
Mission Creep and Crisis
The root problem was that the United States did not crisply define the
mission in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Obviously, the immediate purpose was
to create an environment in which al Qaeda was disrupted and the
intelligence services of Muslim states felt compelled to cooperate with the
United States. But by revising the mission upward -- from achieving these
goals to providing security to rooting out Baathism and the Taliban, then to
providing security against insurgents and even to redefining these two
societies as democracies -- the United States overreached. The issue was not
whether democracy is desirable; the issue was whether the United States had
sufficient forces at hand to reshape Iraqi and Afghan societies in the face
If the Americans had not at first expected resistance, they certainly
discovered that they were facing it shortly after taking control of the
major cities of each country. At that moment, they had to make a basic
decision between pursuing the United States' own interests or defining the
interest as transforming Afghan and Iraqi society. At the moment Washington
chose transformation, it had launched into a task it could not fulfill --
or, if it could fulfill it, would be able to do so only with enormously more
force than it placed in either country. When we consider that 300,000 Soviet
troops could not subdue Afghanistan, we get a sense of how large a force
would have been needed.
The point here is this: The means used by the United States to cripple al
Qaeda also created a situation that was inherently dangerous to the United
States. Unless the mission had been parsed precisely -- with the United
States doing what it needed to do to disrupt al Qaeda but not overreaching
itself -- the outcome would be what we see now. It is, of course, easy to
say that the United States should have intervened, achieved its goals and
left each country in chaos; it is harder to do. Nevertheless, the United
States intervened, did not leave the countries and still has chaos. That can
be said with hindsight. Acting so callously with foresight is more
There remains the question of whether the United States could have crippled
al Qaeda without invading Iraq -- a move that still would have left
Afghanistan in its current state, but which would seem to have been better
than the situation now at hand. The answer to that question rests on two
elements. First, it is simply not clear that the Saudis' appreciation of the
situation, prior to March 2003, would have moved them to cooperate, and
extensive diplomacy over the subject prior to the invasion had left the
Americans reasonably convinced that the Saudis could do more. Advocates of
diplomacy would have to answer the question of what more the United States
could have done on that score. Now, perhaps, over time the United States
could have developed its own intelligence sources within al Qaeda. But time
was exactly what the United States did not have.
But most important, the U.S. leadership underestimated the consequences of
an invasion. They set their goals as high as they did because they did not
believe that the Iraqis would resist -- and when resistance began, they
denied that it involved anything more than the ragtag remnants of the old
regime. Their misreading of Iraq was compounded with an extraordinary
difficulty in adjusting their thinking as reality unfolded.
But even without the administration's denial, we can see in hindsight that
the current crisis was hardwired into the strategy. If the United States
wanted to destroy al Qaeda, it had to do things that would suck it into the
current situation -- unless it was enormously skilled and nimble, which it
certainly was not. In the end, the primary objective -- defending the
homeland -- was won at the cost of trying to achieve goals in Iraq and
Afghanistan that cannot be achieved.
In the political debate that is raging today in the United States, our view
is that both sides are quite wrong. The administration's argument for
building democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan misses the point that the United
States cannot be successful in this, because it lacks the force to carry out
the mission. The administration's critics, who argue that Iraq particularly
diverted attention from fighting al Qaeda, fail to appreciate the complex
matrix of relationships the United States was trying to adjust with its
invasion of Iraq.
The administration is incapable of admitting that it has overreached and led
U.S. forces into an impossible position. Its critics fail to understand the
intricate connections between the administration's various actions and the
failure of al Qaeda to strike inside the United States for five years.
Reply #386 on:
September 18, 2006, 07:18:06 AM »
Most Tribes in Anbar Agree to Unite Against Insurgents
Yahya Ahmed/Associated Press
A victim of a blast Sunday in Kirkuk. More than two dozen people were killed in coordinated attacks by suicide bombers in Kirkuk and Falluja.
By KHALID AL-ANSARY and ALI ADEEB
Published: September 18, 2006
BAGHDAD, Sept. 17 ? Nearly all the tribes from Iraq?s volatile Sunni-dominated Anbar Province have agreed to join forces and fight Al Qaeda insurgents and other foreign-backed ?terrorists,? an influential tribal leader said Sunday. Iraqi government leaders encouraged the movement.
Twenty-five of about 31 tribes in Anbar, a vast, mostly desert region that stretches westward from Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have united against insurgents and gangs that are ?killing people for no reason,? said the tribal leader, Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi.
?We held a meeting earlier and agreed to fight those who call themselves mujahadeen,? Mr. Rishawi said in an interview. ?We believe that there is a conspiracy against our Iraqi people. Those terrorists claimed that they are fighters working on liberating Iraq, but they turned out to be killers. Now all the people are fed up and have turned against them.?
It is unclear how quickly or forcefully the tribal fighters will confront Al Qaeda and other insurgents, who mostly operate in and around the provincial capital, Ramadi, despite recurrent American military efforts to stop them. But for American and Iraqi officials, who have tried to persuade the Sunni Arab majority in Anbar to reject the insurgency and embrace Iraqi nationalism, Mr. Rishawi?s comments are seen as an encouraging sign.
Word of the tribal agreement came on a day when coordinated suicide bombings rocked Kirkuk and Falluja, and graphic evidence of more sectarian killings surfaced in Baghdad.
In Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in the north bordering the autonomous Kurdish region, suicide bombers detonated four cars and one truck laden with explosives, killing more than two dozen people and wounding more than 100, Iraqi and American officials said. In Falluja, a Sunni-controlled city in Anbar, 30 miles west of Baghdad, five suicide car bombs exploded within 15 minutes, an American military official said, killing five people and wounding 23.
The police in Baghdad reported finding 36 bodies in several neighborhoods, an Interior Ministry official said. Eight were discovered in one area with gunshot wounds to the head and bearing marks of torture. But an American military spokesman said her office was aware of only 11 bodies found.
Also Sunday, the American military said a sailor with the First Marine Logistics Group died Saturday from wounds in fighting in Anbar Province.
Mr. Rishawi said the 25 tribes counted 30,000 young men armed with assault rifles who were willing to confront and kill the insurgents and criminal gangs that he blamed for damaging tribal life in Anbar, dividing members by religious sect and driving a wave of violent crime in Ramadi.
?We are in battle with the terrorists who kill Sunnis and Shiites, and we do not respect anyone between us who talks in a sectarian sense,? said Mr. Rishawi, the leader of the Rishawi tribe, a subset of the Dulaimi tribe, the largest in Anbar. Half the Rishawi are Shiite Arabs and half are Sunni, he said.
Mr. Rishawi estimated that the insurgents had about 1,300 fighters, many of them foreigners, and are backed by other nations? intelligence services, though he declined to specify them.
On Sunday, he said the coalition of 25 tribes sent letters to the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and other top government officials to seek their support.
Sheik Fassal al-Guood, a prominent tribal leader from Ramadi, said Sheik Khalid al-Attiya, the deputy speaker of Parliament and a Shiite, met with the tribal leaders Thursday and gave them a ?positive response.?
In addition to the government?s blessing, Mr. Rishawi said, the tribes also wanted weapons, equipment and tactical help from an Iraqi Army brigade. ?The terrorists have different kinds of weapons while we have only AK-47?s,? Mr. Rishawi said. He predicted that with sufficient help, ?their force will collapse in one month.?
Ali Dabbagh, a government spokesman, said Mr. Maliki supported ?any operations that try to resist terrorism and aims to maintain security in this dear and important part from the country.?
Government officials are weighing an official response to the tribes, Mr. Dabbagh said, but there has not been any agreement to supply them. ?We are grateful to them for their desire to protect their cities,? he said, ?and we are encouraging them.?
An American military official said tribes had fought Sunni insurgents in Anbar in the past but had never formed a united front. ?This would be the first we?ve seen of tribes banding together,? said the official, who asked for anonymity because the subject was a delicate one.
Reuters quoted a man who identified himself as a senior Al Qaeda leader in northern Ramadi calling for an Islamic caliphate in Anbar and portraying tribal leaders as the enemy.
?We have the right to kill all infidels, like the police and army and all those who support them,? said the man, who called himself Abu Farouk, Reuters reported. ?This tribal system is un-Islamic. We are proud to kill tribal leaders who are helping the Americans.?
Last month, a Marine intelligence report described Al Qaeda as an ?integral part of the social fabric? of Anbar, and said the American military, with about 30,000 troops there, did not control vast reaches of the province, roughly the size of Louisiana.
In Kirkuk, Iraqi and American military officials said they could not immediately tell which groups were behind the suicide bomb attacks. Kirkuk has become a violent battleground between Iraqi Arabs ? Shiite and Sunni ? and Kurds who control Kirkuk?s police and government.
The deadliest of the Kirkuk bomb attacks, by a truck laden with explosives that blew up between the offices of two Kurdish political parties, killed at least 18 people and wounded 55, said Lt. Col. Urhan Abdullah of the Kirkuk police. Two minutes later, a car bomb, apparently intended for a private security firm, killed two people and wounded three others, said Maj. Farhad Mahmoud of the Kirkuk police.
A third suicide car bomb detonated near an Iraqi police checkpoint about 15 miles south of Kirkuk, the police said. A fourth car bomb exploded in front of the house of Sheik Wasfi al-Asi, who had recently publicly called on the government to release Saddam Hussein, who is currently being tried on genocide charges. The house was empty, the police said, but the bomb killed two people and wounded five others.
Firefighters battled flames at collapsed buildings and charred bodies lay in streets littered with twisted car parts, Reuters reported.
Reporting was contributed by Paul von Zielbauer, Omar al-Neami, Khalid W. Hassan and Qais Mizher.
Reply #387 on:
September 22, 2006, 11:51:58 PM »
This article out of India gives what seems to be a well-informed breakdown of the dynamics of Pakistan.
The so-called land of the pure, Pakistan, on its creation in 1947 had approximately 13 percent minorities residing within an Islamic population of 76 million. In its unholy fervour to achieve physical instead of the spiritual purity, the minorities were reduced to 2.5 percent even as the country's population soared to 156 millions by the year 2000. In any society, it is the minorities that play the crucial role of moderation. Their existence is a safeguard against extreme tendencies. Pakistan lost the benefit of this natural societal instrument of balance early in its history. Once the minorities, more or less, were out of the way, Pakistan's Punjabi Sunni population which not only constituted the majority but also controlled the instruments of power in the state, turned to ? killing Shias, expelling Ahmadiyas from Islam, denying basic rights to the Balochis, depriving Sind of water resources, and suppressing populations in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir including Northern Areas. Under the clouds of Talibanisation, this became further skewed when the women who constitute nearly half the population were denied education and practically incarcerated in their homes ? thus further impairing the societal balance. Simultaneously, Pakistan Army and the ISI persisted with their destructive spree by exporting terrorism to India, SE Asia, Central Asia, EU and America ? all in the name of religion! In the comity of nations, one can hardly find a parallel to this inherent self-destructive proclivity.
Pakistan 's Punjabi dominated army in search of the elusive purity and to perpetuate its hold on power structures encourages the majority Punjabi Sunni population in its misadventures. In pursuit of power, the bogey of threat from India was conjured. In schools children were indoctrinated to hate Indians. Therefore, the genesis of the Pakistan's present Fault Line lies in the diabolically engineered mindset that has created multiple fault lines and which have now coalesced into one deep and divisive fault line running right across the length of the country, threatening its virtual vivisection into two halves.
The first major setback to Pakistan occurred 24 years after inception when it lost 55% of its population in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and almost half of its territory. Religion could not act as effective glue due to the insatiable avarice the Pakistan's Punjabi Army displayed in its refusal to share legitimate power with the eastern wing. Islamabad conveniently blames New Delhi for this separation but a closer scrutiny of facts reveals otherwise. Between 1947 and 1970, whenever Pakistan chose to attack India, the strategically simple option available to India could have been to annex East Pakistan, which Islamabad was never in a position to defend effectively due to the vast geographical distances and consequently the enormous military logistics involved. Nevertheless, New Delhi absorbed Pakistan's attacks and localised it to its Western front, never extending the war to the eastern theatre. With millions of refugees pouring into India in 1971, Islamabad made its position in East Pakistan untenable, and India was compelled to initiate positive action. Since occupation of territory was not the motive, Indian Army promptly withdrew after liberating Pakistan's eastern wing from the miseries and atrocities being perpetrated by the western wing on its own people.
In 1950s, Hans J. Morgenthau, the then Director of Center for the Study of American Foreign Policy at University of Chicago, in his book The New Republic had observed, "Pakistan is not a nation and hardly a state. It has no justification, ethnic origin, language, civilisation or the consciousness of those who make up its population. They have no interest in common except one: fear of Hindu domination. It is to that fear and nothing else that Pakistan poses its existence and thus for survival as an independent state." During the same period, another American scholar Keith Callard in his book Pakistan - a Political Study commented, "the force behind the establishment of Pakistan was largely the feeling of insecurity." Both these scholars missed out on some vital aspects that can be attributed to the "fear of Hindu domination" and "insecurity". First, creation of Pakistan was an Anglo-Saxon mischief to protect their vested strategic interests. Second, the land bestowed to create Pakistan was separated amicably without war. Third, the Western powers, (and China that uses Pakistan as a proxy against India) fuelled these imagined fears that only created the effect of exacerbating latter's psychological fault line. Therefore, explanations like "fear of Hindu domination" and "insecurity" and other excuses as justification are used as psywar tool to disguise Islamabad's treachery against New Delhi since 1947. Indian political right does not indulge in 'export of terrorism' or 'suicide bombers' as an instrument of foreign policy!
After the break-up of Pakistan in 1971, West Pakistan should have emerged as a more cohesive unit - geographically, politically, economically and in orientation. However 33 years hence, nearly 55% of Pakistan's area is witnessing vicious insurgencies, which if not controlled, could lead to further vivisection of the country. Most of the population in these areas i.e. Waziristan, Balochistan, NWFP, and Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) in POK has been historically difficult to control and administer. This notwithstanding, ever since Musharraf's ascension to power, these areas have slipped from peripheral disquiet to intense insurgencies. Normal governance in these areas has collapsed and is being held only by military force. These multiple fault lines as explained subsequently, if not adequately addressed can lead to internal strife and break up of Pakistan.
WAZIRISTAN (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). The population of this area is 3,138,000 that are 2% of Pakistan's total population. Socio-economic development has been totally lagging in Waziristan. The literacy rate is 17% and only 10% population has access to sanitation. With an area of 27,220 sq km, it constitutes 3% of Pakistan's total landmass. The area is inhabited by Wazirs (Pathan Tribe). The Taliban and Al-Qaeda has significant presence and influence in this area. Post 9/11, after reported death of Namangani (Head of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), the second-in-command Yuldeshev crossed over with surviving members of IMU into South Waziristan, where he and his Uzbek and Chechen instructors set up training camp for Jihadi terrorists. The Jihadi and Kalishkinov culture in this area is a legacy of the region's intense involvement in the war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 80's. Post 9/11, consequent to jettisoning of Taliban by the Pakistan dispensation, the population in Waziristan has been subjected to ground and aerial attacks to flush-out Al-Qaeda and Taliban carders. There are 80,000 Pak Army personnel deployed in the 13 areas / agencies that make up Waziristan or FATA. The area known for its fiercely independent tribes and Islamic terrorists vehemently resent presence of the Army and its coordinated operations with US troops based in Afghanistan. The enormity of the growing strife in Waziristan can be gauged from the casualty figures. In 2005, 300 civilians and 250 troops were killed, and another 1400 were wounded; while up to March 2006, 121 civilians, 475 terrorists and 71 soldiers have been killed. Reportedly nearly 80% of pro-government tribal leaders have also been eliminated. The Pakistan government has also been using money to buy the allegiance of tribal leaders. Recently, the corps commander Lt Gen Safdar Hussain has publicly admitted to having paid Rs.32 million (US $ 5,40,000) to some tribal leaders for severing their links with Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
BALOCHISTAN. The Balochistan province constitutes 44% (347,190 sq km) of Pakistan's landmass and has a population of 6.5 million i.e. 4% of Pakistan's population. Only 70% of Baloch are in Pakistan, the reminder being in Iran and Afghanistan. The Baloch are Hanafi Sunnis and a strong group of Zikri Baloch, having a population of about 7,00,000 inhabit the Makran area, who believe in the 15th century teachings of Madhi ? an Islamic Messiah ? Nur Pak, have their own prayers and do not fast during Ramzan. Baloch nationalism has been a factor in Pakistan since its existence. The Baloch, who in general had supported the overthrow of Bhutto by Zia-ul-Haq, are up in arms against the central authority under Musharraf. In addition to 1,00,000 Para-military forces, there are nearly 23,000 Pak Army personnel deployed to quell the growing insurgency in Balochistan under the leadership of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti (ex Provincial Governor). The Baloch have been demanding greater autonomy, more public sector jobs and higher share of revenues. The extremely inhospitable landmass of Balochistan, where subsistence is difficult, is critical for Pakistan's energy supplies, and its maritime security and trade by way of Gwadar port. Balochistan meets 45 percent of Pakistan's energy needs. The Baloch people lament that the Gwadar area has been appropriated by Generals of Pakistan Army, who in turn have sold it to Karachi and Punjabi business magnets at astronomical prices. All the 22 districts of Balochistan are currently impacted by insurgency incurring an estimated cost of Rs. 6 million every month to the Pak establishment, and also resulting in severe gas and power shortages in the country, especially in Punjab. Gas supplies from Sui, Loti and Pir Koh gas fields have been disrupted. Surface transport has been crippled. Three naval boats have so far been destroyed in Gwadar port. Railways have been compelled to operate only at night. So far, on at least a dozen occasions, railway tracks have been blown and on more than two dozens occasions gas pipelines have been targeted.
NWFP. North West Frontier Province (NWFP) with an area of 74,521 sq km and a population of approximately 24 million in addition to 3 million Afghan refugees, is a problem in perpetuity because of the Pashtuns, who straddle the Durand Line (2450 Km long Pakistan-Afghanistan border). The relations between the NWFP and the central government are increasingly becoming tenuous, as the majority of the population is averse to Pakistan's cooperation with the US against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The area continues to be infested with fundamentalists and the Jihadis. In fact, it is the fundamentalist Islamic parties, who call shots in the province and lend all kinds of support to the remnants of Taliban.
POK (NORTHERN AREAS). The Northern Areas comprising Gilgit and Baltistan have an area of 72,496 sq km and a population of 1.5 million, is governed directly by the Central Government in Pakistan. In fact the Northern Areas, which are actually a part of POK, but incorporated in Pakistan, are five times of the area designated as Azad Kashmir. This area, culturally and linguistically much different from other parts of Pakistan, has been subjected to state backed Sunni terrorism. The composition of the Northern Light Infantry Units is being re-engineered by the central government to make it Sunni dominant. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), which witnessed devastating earthquake in which more than 70,000 people lost their lives, demonstrated the administrative apathy of the Central Government in Pakistan with regard to the region. The Pakistan Army unlike the Indian Army was unable to respond to the needs of the people ? thus leaving much of the rescue and rehabilitation to 1000 NATO personnel and fundamentalist organisations like JuD.
PUNJAB & SIND . The situation in the heartland of Pakistan i.e. Punjab and Sind is rapidly deteriorating, given the proliferation of Islamic fundamentalist ideology and their mushrooming activities. Organisations like Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the parent organisation of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is fast occupying the political space due to absence of legitimate political parties. The reach of the Islamic terrorists in Pakistan's heartland was evidenced by the car bomb attack near the US Consulate in Karachi before the recent visit of President Bush to the country. The degeneration of law and order situation in the heartland can also be gauged by the fact that for security reasons, President Musharraf was asked by the US authorities not to receive President Bush at the Chaklala airport.
Predicated on the situation in Pakistan, it can be averred that more than half the country has slipped into anarchy and the remaining may also follow if Islamabad does not carryout a drastic reassessment of its nationhood and statehood. In fact, Pakistan Army is getting over- stretched owing to its commitments in internal security duties and deployment on its borders with India and Afghanistan. Internally, the anti-India catalyst that sustained Pakistan Army is no longer effective. Even on the Afghanistan border the ISAF and Karzai are fiercely determined to defeat any attempt by Islamabad's to re-export Taliban. Today the internal instability within Pakistan is fast acquiring proportions which could lead to further break up of the country ? all due to sheer myopic policies pursued by its military junta. An external power today does not need to wage a war. It can simply exploit the precarious internal situation by using its intelligence agencies to attain the same objectives by fuelling the dissent through psywar and financial means. Fortunately, Pakistan has to contend with a benign power like India, which in the first instance created the former by magnanimously donating its land. Therefore Islamabad instead of exporting hatred and destruction, should seek positive parity with India and others in terms of improving the quality of life of its citizens in an inclusive manner. Towards this Pakistan must:
Seek positive parity with India i.e. with regard to human development. Negative parity will bleed Pakistan in human and economic terms.
Realise that Pakistani statehood has remained vulnerable due to flawed nation building policies e.g. Punjabi domination that constitute 58% of the total population.
Realise that Army can be a symbol of nationhood and an instrument and not the state itself.
Realise that jihadis are a double-edged weapon and can never get Pakistan its illusive nationhood and statehood.
Realise that by attempting to engineer history, the future is rendered in jeopardy.
Realise that Pakistan has the potential to be a positive role model for other Islamic countries.
It is a well-known fact that a large number of Islamic countries are bestowed with extraordinary oil wealth that drives the world economy. If the jehad factory of Pakistan and other Islamic fundamentalist institutions had used this wealth to educate, modernise their societies and improved the quality of human resources in the early eighties, at the dawn of the 21 st century, it would have emerged as a modern, powerful and positive entity in the world arena without firing a single shot! Pakistan's establishment therefore must realise that its possible vivisection, due to its flawed policies, may deal a fatal blow to the very Islamic cause, that it purports to countenance and guide.
The writer is Editor, Indian Defence Review. The article first appeared in Indian Defence Review Vol 20(4).
?Security Research Review Volume 2(2) 2006
More on Pakistan
Reply #388 on:
September 23, 2006, 09:36:47 AM »
And one more article which suggests that the US is going into Waziristan. Note also the similarities with the Hizb strategy in Lebanon...
Sep 2, 2006 ?
?The knife at Pakistan's throat
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - "I can see slit throats beneath these turbans and beards" were the words of Hajaj bin Yusuf, an 8th-century tyrant in what is now Iraq, as he witnessed a gathering of leading religious and political figures.
A similar thought occurred to this writer as he attended the largest ever gathering of Pakistani Taliban, tribal elders and politicians in Miranshah, the tribal capital of North Waziristan, on Wednesday. Fire and blood were in the air as momentous events
loomed over the Pakistani tribal areas of North and South Waziristan, where the Taliban are in complete control.
The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan's volatile southern and southwestern provinces are once again a focus of the "war on ?terror" and are likely to soon become as significant to the United States as Afghanistan itself.
The Americans are pointing directly at the two Waziristans as the primary conduit for the suicide bombers who are currently playing havoc with the US-NATO-led war machine in Afghanistan, and a safe haven for enemy combatants. The US now has come up with a plan to confront the strategic arm of the Taliban based on the Pakistani side of the border.
The anti-US forces, meanwhile, are taking countermeasures, and the Pakistani government is trying to find a safe position for itself between the antagonists.
Negotiations have begun to finalize new rules for dealing with the tribal region. Last month Pakistani Vice Chief of Army Staff General Ehsan Saleem Hayat attended the conference of the Tripartite Commission (representing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the forces of the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in Kabul, and General John Abizaid of US Centcom (Central Command) has traveled to Pakistan to finalize a blueprint.
Sources say the Americans are set on a plan of hot pursuit of enemy combatants across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and they want a clear demarcation of the Pakistani tribal areas that have long been volatile and which they say should be part of the Afghanistan front in the "war on terror".
Last month, Pakistan considered the issue and offered in response a geographical demarcation of the border and a fence along it. In fact the border in this region is the imaginary Durand Line, which passes through mountains and populated areas, and is impossible to seal. The only practical solution, as far as Washington is concerned, is hot pursuit of enemy combatants into their refuges in Pakistan.
On Wednesday in Miranshah, hundreds of people attended a ceremony for new madrassa graduates in what was considered the largest ever gathering of people from the two Waziristans. The gathering was also a manifestation of the broader current now ?flowing through the tribal areas - the imminent arrival of the US military.
The ceremony was scheduled soon after negotiations started in the two Waziristans between Pakistani authorities on one side and the Pakistani Taliban and Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) on the other. Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI-F) is the political party of Pakistani opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and is the only party still working in the two Waziristans. JUI-F keeps in close contact with the mujahideen who call themselves the Pakistani Taliban.
At this meeting, the authorities, still smarting from the rout of Islamabad's forces by the tribals in both Waziristans when the government tried to impose its will in the region, declared that under the status quo the government could neither withdraw its military nor prevent US-led forces from entering the tribal areas.
The JUI-F itself is desperately looking for ways to restrict the Pakistani Taliban's ambitions. The latter movement is clearly intent on moving into the cities, especially those politically influenced by the JUI-F, and becoming a major power player in the country as a whole.
The JUI-F, therefore, is forging a strategy with the Pakistani Taliban under which the Taliban will retain de facto control of the Waziristans while the political-cum-religious leadership, including the JUI-F, will appear to be running the show - and, at the same time, be shielding the Taliban from US-led forces. The Miranshah gathering was a manifestation of this new strategy.
At the gathering, mujahideen leader Maulana Sadiq Noor and a representative of Gul Badar (chief of the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan), as well as other members of the mujahideen shura (council), were seated on a stage while the leaders of the JUI-F delivered the speeches. Said an organizer belonging to the student wing of the JUI-F, "Mujahideen will not be allowed to speak; rather they will only sit on the back benches on the stage."
The gathering presaged the future setup in the Waziristans. The mujahideen will remain in the background and the non-militant face of leadership, in the form of local tribal elders, the JUI-F and religious leaders, will be visible. This will enable the Pakistani authorities to justify their proposal to fence the Durand Line rather than allow US-led forces a free hand in the tribal areas.
Meanwhile the "guests" - foreign anti-US fighters including Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens - who are living in North Waziristan have had their own command structures dismantled and been asked to join the central mujahideen force of commander Gul Badar, or simply to scatter into ordinary tribal society.
Certainly, there is no overt connection between the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Pakistani Taliban, yet the new setup in the Waziristans clearly echoes that in Lebanon, where Hezbollah hides itself behind many thick curtains while remaining in a position of power. It was precisely this setup that enabled Lebanon to defend its territorial integrity and political interests during the recent Israeli invasion.
Neither the US nor Islamabad knows the strength of the Pakistani Taliban in the mountain fastnesses of the two Waziristans. Pakistan has offered a general amnesty for all previously wanted people, and military checkpoints are manned only at three or four points on the borders of the region. The Taliban, meanwhile, call the shots everywhere.
Such was the situation until Wednesday, when the two Waziristans embarked on a new phase in which US military campaigns seem unavoidable. Cognizant of developments and intent on saving turbans, beards and throats, thick curtains have been drawn.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau chief.
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)
From a Feb 06 article in asia times..Some ghastly pictures below...not for
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban's bloody foothold in Pakistan
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?By Syed Saleem Shahzad
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? KARACHI - By taking control of virtually all of
Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area on the border with Afghanistan, the
Taliban have gained a significant base from which to wage their resistance
against US-led forces in Afghanistan. At the same time, the development
solidifies the anti-US resistance groups in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan,
which will now fight under a single strategy.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban recently declared the establishment of
an "Islamic state" in North Waziristan, and they now, through the brutal
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?elimination of the criminal elements who previously
held sway, in effect rule in the rugged territory.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?As a tribal area, North Waziristan has always
enjoyed significant ?independence from Islamabad, and even on the occasions
when the Pakistani army has ventured into the area to root out foreign
fighters or Afghan resistance figures, it has received fierce opposition,
and in effect been forced to back off.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban and their supporters plant ?roadside
bombs on the routes used by the Pakistani paramilitary forces, and virtually
every day one or two vehicles are blown up. This measure is aimed to keep
the security forces away from the actual tribal areas of Waziristan. In
short, the writ of the Pakistani political agent (the central government's
representative) barely extends beyond Miramshah Bazaar and Wana Bazaar (the
official headquarters). Everywhere else, the Taliban are calling the shots.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Asia Times Online has viewed a video disc released
by the ?Taliban that illustrates their control in North Waziristan. The
footage includes their bases, where thousands of youths are present,
preparations for an attack into Afghanistan, and shots of criminals executed
at a public rally staged by the Taliban.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The government of Pakistan has termed the executions
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The video opens with pictures of the headless bodies
of criminals strung up in Miramshah Bazaar, executed by the Taliban.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The next segment showcases the establishment of
strong bases in which thousands of turban-clad youths can be seen with guns.
Commanders scan the ranks and select a squad to launch a ?guerrilla attack
on a US base in Khost province in Afghanistan. They put on headbands with
the wording "There is no God but the one God; Mohammed is the messenger of
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The fighters emerge from their base at night and
head for Khost. After a 30-minute battle, flames can be seen rising from
within the US base. The squad returns before dawn.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The video also includes the "official" announcement
of the establishment of an Islamic state in Waziristan (which includes ?the
tribal area of South Waziristan) and a declaration of the Taliban's rule in
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?This development confirms an Asia Times Online
article describing how al-Qaeda and its allies - in this case the Taliban -
would establish bases from which to coordinate and strengthen its global war
against the United States ( Al-Qaeda goes back to base, November 4, 2005).
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?This announcement of an Islamic state is interpreted
as a prelude ?to the Taliban's summer offensive, precisely at a time when
Iran's nuclear dossier will be submitted to the United Nations Security
Council, and both Europe and the US will be mounting pressure on Tehran to
abandon its nuclear program.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The US and Iran being at loggerheads sits very well
with al-Qaeda's plans to establish bases and a unified command system of
anti-US resistance from Iraq to Afghanistan. Iran is at present the only
missing link in this strategy.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Despite little love being lost between the Taliban
and Iran, al- Qaeda's Egyptian camp has retained its traditional decades-old
ties with the Iranian regime. The real ideologue of the Iranian revolution
of 1979 was Dr Ali Shariati, who was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood's
Syed Qutub. Similarly, the Islamic Jihad of Palestine officially claims its
inspiration from the Shi'ite Iranian revolution, despite being a completely
Sunni Islamic group.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Al-Qaeda's link with Iran, although at a very low
level, could prove critical in the coming months. Should Iran find itself
sanctioned, or even attacked by the US, few states would dare to support
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Al-Qaeda, however, would seize the opportunity,
asking in return that it be given its desperately needed corridor through
Iran to link Afghanistan and Pakistan with Iraq and the Arab world.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?A silent revolution
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban video disc, which is a mixture of Pashtu
and Urdu, maintained that criminals had been calling the shots in North
Waziristan. They routinely abducted children and sodomized them, and they
charged protection money from shopkeepers, from transport operators, and
even for marriage ceremonies. The gangs were headed by an Afghan, Hakeem
Khan Zadran. They had various sanctuaries where drugs, women and alcohol
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The government, too, was claimed to have paid the
criminals so that they would not interfere with official business.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?But a turning point came last December. A group of
Taliban fighters were heading to Khost to launch an operation in Afghanistan
when they were stopped by some criminals demanding money for safe passage.
The Taliban refused, and were allowed to pass. However, a few kilometers
further down the ?road the criminals fired a rocket and blew up the vehicle.
Four Taliban belonging to the Wazir tribe were killed.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The incident outraged local supporters of the
Taliban, who converged near Miramshah and warned people to leave their homes
if they lived near criminals. A raid was then conducted on one criminal
sanctuary. In a fierce 15-minute gun battle, several gangsters were killed,
some were seized and many fled.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Over the next three days, according to the video,
the Taliban smoked out numerous criminals from their hideouts all over North
Waziristan. Many were executed at mass rallies in Miramshah Bazaar.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban movement
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?In a similar manner, the Taliban emerged as a
reformist movement against criminals and warlords in Zabul and Kandahar in
Afghanistan about 16 years ago.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have shown their muscles so powerfully
in North Waziristan that Pakistani forces have just stepped away. It has now
become a popular movement with the complete support of local tribes.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have attracted thousands of foot
soldiers from all over, including Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis, Afghans,
Uzbeks and local tribals. North Waziristan is now their "Islamic state" and
base from which to launch a summer offensive in Afghanistan.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?According to Asia Times Online investigations, more
than 100 suicide squads have been lined up for the summer assault. These
squads have precise targets all over Afghanistan. The Taliban leadership is
also encouraged by the strong representation of Islamists in the new Afghan
parliament as potential supporters.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?The Taliban have already disseminated warnings to
all the governors in the south and southeast of Afghanistan not to mobilize
forces in search of the Taliban - or else they will face the music in the
form of suicide attacks. (On Tuesday in the southern city of Kandahar, a
suicide bomber attacked a guard post outside the police headquarters,
killing 13 people and wounding 11.)
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Local Taliban commanders such as Mullah Dadullah are
already in the field to sway Afghan tribes in the Pashtun heartlands of
Afghanistan to be prepared for the offensive.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Contacts in the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan - a major
resistance group - in Kabul maintain that the long absence of commander
Kashmir Khan had led many to believe that he had been arrested by US forces.
However, he recently emerged from hiding and has become the main engine of
the resistance in the Kunar Valley, where he is cultivating local tribes for
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?"If this military strategy is implemented it would
have serious consequences for the allied forces in Afghanistan, especially
at a time when they are mounting pressure on Iran," commented an
intelligence analyst. "However, the Taliban made tall claims about winter
suicide attacks, but barring a few events they failed to inflict major
losses on allied forces."
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?That was before the Taliban secured a base in North
Waziristan, though. This time around could see a very different outcome.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Next: The resistance route from southern to
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Syed Saleem Shahzad is Bureau Chief, Pakistan
Reply #389 on:
September 23, 2006, 09:37:58 AM »
Sep 2, 2006
The knife at Pakistan's throat
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - "I can see slit throats
beneath these turbans and beards" were the words of Hajaj bin Yusuf, an
8th-century tyrant in what is now Iraq, as he witnessed a gathering of
leading religious and political figures.
A similar thought occurred to this writer as he attended
the largest ever gathering of Pakistani Taliban, tribal elders and
politicians in Miranshah, the tribal capital of North Waziristan, on
Wednesday. Fire and blood were in the air as momentous events
loomed over the Pakistani tribal areas of North and South
Waziristan, where the Taliban are in complete control.
The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan's volatile southern
and southwestern provinces are once again a focus of the "war on terror"
and are likely to soon become as significant to the United States as
The Americans are pointing directly at the two Waziristans
as the primary conduit for the suicide bombers who are currently playing
havoc with the US-NATO-led war machine in Afghanistan, and a safe haven for
enemy combatants. The US now has come up with a plan to confront the
strategic arm of the Taliban based on the Pakistani side of the border.
The anti-US forces, meanwhile, are taking countermeasures,
and the Pakistani government is trying to find a safe position for itself
between the antagonists.
Negotiations have begun to finalize new rules for dealing
with the tribal region. Last month Pakistani Vice Chief of Army Staff
General Ehsan Saleem Hayat attended the conference of the Tripartite
Commission (representing Afghanistan, Pakistan and the forces of the US and
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in Kabul, and General John Abizaid
of US Centcom (Central Command) has traveled to Pakistan to finalize a
Sources say the Americans are set on a plan of hot pursuit
of enemy combatants across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and they want a
clear demarcation of the Pakistani tribal areas that have long been volatile
and which they say should be part of the Afghanistan front in the "war on
Last month, Pakistan considered the issue and offered in
response a geographical demarcation of the border and a fence along it. In
fact the border in this region is the imaginary Durand Line, which passes
through mountains and populated areas, and is impossible to seal. The only
practical solution, as far as Washington is concerned, is hot pursuit of
enemy combatants into their refuges in Pakistan.
On Wednesday in Miranshah, hundreds of people attended a
ceremony for new madrassa graduates in what was considered the largest ever
gathering of people from the two Waziristans. The gathering was also a
manifestation of the broader current now flowing through the tribal areas -
the imminent arrival of the US military.
The ceremony was scheduled soon after negotiations started
in the two Waziristans between Pakistani authorities on one side and the
Pakistani Taliban and Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) on the other.
Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI-F) is the political party of Pakistani
opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and is the only party still working
in the two Waziristans. JUI-F keeps in close contact with the mujahideen who
call themselves the Pakistani Taliban.
At this meeting, the authorities, still smarting from the
rout of Islamabad's forces by the tribals in both Waziristans when the
government tried to impose its will in the region, declared that under the
status quo the government could neither withdraw its military nor prevent
US-led forces from entering the tribal areas.
The JUI-F itself is desperately looking for ways to
restrict the Pakistani Taliban's ambitions. The latter movement is clearly
intent on moving into the cities, especially those politically influenced by
the JUI-F, and becoming a major power player in the country as a whole.
The JUI-F, therefore, is forging a strategy with the
Pakistani Taliban under which the Taliban will retain de facto control of
the Waziristans while the political-cum-religious leadership, including the
JUI-F, will appear to be running the show - and, at the same time, be
shielding the Taliban from US-led forces. The Miranshah gathering was a
manifestation of this new strategy.
At the gathering, mujahideen leader Maulana Sadiq Noor and
a representative of Gul Badar (chief of the Pakistani Taliban in North
Waziristan), as well as other members of the mujahideen shura (council),
were seated on a stage while the leaders of the JUI-F delivered the
speeches. Said an organizer belonging to the student wing of the JUI-F,
"Mujahideen will not be allowed to speak; rather they will only sit on the
back benches on the stage."
The gathering presaged the future setup in the
Waziristans. The mujahideen will remain in the background and the
non-militant face of leadership, in the form of local tribal elders, the
JUI-F and religious leaders, will be visible. This will enable the Pakistani
authorities to justify their proposal to fence the Durand Line rather than
allow US-led forces a free hand in the tribal areas.
Meanwhile the "guests" - foreign anti-US fighters
including Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens - who are living in North Waziristan
have had their own command structures dismantled and been asked to join the
central mujahideen force of commander Gul Badar, or simply to scatter into
ordinary tribal society.
Certainly, there is no overt connection between the
Lebanese Hezbollah and the Pakistani Taliban, yet the new setup in the
Waziristans clearly echoes that in Lebanon, where Hezbollah hides itself
behind many thick curtains while remaining in a position of power. It was
precisely this setup that enabled Lebanon to defend its territorial
integrity and political interests during the recent Israeli invasion.
Neither the US nor Islamabad knows the strength of the
Pakistani Taliban in the mountain fastnesses of the two Waziristans.
Pakistan has offered a general amnesty for all previously wanted people, and
military checkpoints are manned only at three or four points on the borders
of the region. The Taliban, meanwhile, call the shots everywhere.
Such was the situation until Wednesday, when the two
Waziristans embarked on a new phase in which US military campaigns seem
unavoidable. Cognizant of developments and intent on saving turbans, beards
and throats, thick curtains have been drawn.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights
reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)
Why it's not working in Afghanistan (Aug 30, '06)
The Taliban's bloody foothold in Pakistan (Feb 8, '06)
A friend comments:
I can comment on "At the same time, what if it is understood that the US can send into Pakistan tribal areas, Spec Ops soldiers and support to root out the problems? Too wild an idea? It is "rumored" among some sources in a position to know that this is exactly what has occurred." (As a sidebar: Mush thinks the US is not winning in Afghanistan, and he has chose to side with the Taliban to try and maintain his dictatorship)."
I believe this "rumor" is true. The US has wanted to do this for a long time, but Mush has opposed it for political reasons. I believe the agreement states that the Taliban have immunity only so long as they live peacefully, but no immunity against US retaliation in the instance of a quick cross border raid to Afghanistan. This is confirmed by Bush's recent comment that we will bomb Pak if OBL is there.
As to my second point, Mush does not think Bush is winning in Afghanistan. For Bush to win, the Taliban/AQ in Afghanistan have to be rendered impotent. This has clearly not happened, infact there is a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and their sanctuary is based in Waziristan. Mush has tried very hard to control the NWFP/Balochistan/Waziristan taliban/AQ areas without any success. Apparently 80,000 Pak troops are present in that region and still could not do it. As you know some of this is disputed territory with Afghanistan and Mush would love to have full control over it (annex it). Mush sees the ground realities and knows that if he continues on the present course, he will be fighting the Taliban as well as opposition parties demanding that he relinquish his uniform. On the other hand, making peace with the Taliban is a win-win for all. Mush can concentrate on the opposition parties and let Bush do the dirty work of cleaning out the Taliban, the Taliban can choose to live freely or at war with the Americans, Bush is happy because US soldiers will now be able to enter Waziristan with impunity ("hot pursuit")..atleast this is what I am understanding of the situation...Yash
Bush's information offensive
Reply #390 on:
September 26, 2006, 05:05:52 PM »
Our World: Bush's information offensive
By CAROLINE GLICK
During the past week we learned a great deal about the nature of our enemies. We also learned a great deal about ourselves. If we draw the proper lessons from what we have seen we will go far toward winning the war.
With their ghoulish presentations at the UN General Assembly, both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made clear their hostile intent, disdain for freedom and their foes, and their fanatical intent to use all murderous means toward their totalitarian ends. The men were so hostile that even their usual apologists in academia and the political Left were too embarrassed to be seen in their company.
The Chavez and Ahmadinejad show ensured that the Bush administration's gamble in permitting the two entry to the United States had paid off. Given a platform, the dictators demonstrated the gravity of the threat they posed, as the administration had doubtless hoped they would.
Yet laying out a gangplank and hoping the enemy will be stupid enough to walk it is hardly a winning strategy in war. The stark reality of the global Islamist jihad and its strong support from European appeasers to third world dictators makes it necessary for the US to enact an information campaign capable of effectively advancing the stated American war aim of destroying jihad as a governing ideology and social force.
The potential for victory in the information warfare arena is great, and the failure of the US to meet this challenge is a great shame.
INFORMATION operations are a vital part of any war effort. They serve four basic purposes: to rally supporters to the rightness of their cause and the wrongness of their enemies cause; to dissuade any potential allies of one's enemies from joining their forces; to gain an ideological foothold in the enemies' society; and to demoralize enemy societies and so convince them that they have no chance of winning the war.
In both the Muslim world and the West, massive Saudi and other Islamist funding of mosques, Islamic schools, Middle East studies departments in universities, and lobbying arms show that jihadists have placed a premium on their information operations. The jihadists' extensive use of the Internet, cassette tapes, DVDs, videotapes and the print and broadcast media in the Muslim world complement these efforts.
The goals of the jihadists are clear. They wish to recruit soldiers. They wish to buy supporters among Western elites who will act as their apologists. They wish to demonize and delegitimize their ideological opponents in both Muslim societies and in the West by calling them apostates or racists. They wish to convince their enemies that there is no way to defeat the forces of jihad.
While massive, these efforts should be easy enough to undermine. For all the billions of dollars the jihadists have spent indoctrinating Muslims and weakening the West's will to fight them, their cause is anything but attractive. The cause of jihad is the cause of totalitarianism. It is the cause of hatred, misogyny, bigotry, mass murder, slavery, barbarism and humiliation. It is fundamentally unesthetic and unsympathetic.
As a result, attacking those who sponsor jihad, or serve as its apologists or purveyors should be a simple matter that can be undertaken at vastly less expense than that which has already been paid by the other side.
BUT THERE is a catch, of course. In order to conduct information operations effectively you have to be willing to identify your enemies and your allies, and to point fingers at those who refuse to take sides and embarrass them for sitting on the fence. That is, you need moral courage and clarity. You need to be willing to make people angry at you if you wish to earn their respect and support.
For the past five years the Bush administration has shirked this unpleasant task. It has categorized Saudi Arabia, the prime financier and propagator of jihad, as its ally. It has labeled Egypt, the epicenter of jihadist propaganda and incitement, a paragon of moderation and a stalwart ally.
Then there is Pakistan, which created the Taliban and has served as a refuge for Osama bin Laden since November 2001. Pakistan, too, is labeled a great ally, as are the Europeans and the Russians.
Israel, on the other hand, is a problem. Israel is the excuse that all of America's "great allies" give for refusing to act like America's allies. In the interests of pleasing its great allies, America holds Israel at arm's length.
Unfortunately, this policy sends exactly the wrong message. It teaches America's "allies" that they have nothing to lose by double-crossing the US. And it teaches truly liberal forces in the Muslim world and in the non-Islamic world that the US will not keep faith with them, and that they are, essentially on their own if they wish to take on the forces of jihad in their own societies and throughout the world.
THE BUSH administration's refusal to acknowledge the difference between its enemies and its allies was most pronounced last week in the president's meetings with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Earlier in the month Musharraf signed an accord with the Taliban that gave the group control over the Pakistani territories of north and south Waziristan. This agreement, which also involved Pakistan's release of some 2,500 Taliban and al-Qaida fighters from prison, is the Taliban's and al-Qaida's greatest victory since September 11, 2001. As military analyst Bill Roggio has reported on his Web site, The Fourth Rail, Musharraf's decision to hand Waziristan over to the Taliban and al-Qaida makes clear that he is a major enemy of the US.
But the Bush administration refuses to acknowledge this fact. Bush met with Musharraf in the White House and praised his leadership and his strong alliance with the US in fighting al-Qaida. The State Department praised the agreement that has caused NATO commanders to announce that more troops will be required in Afghanistan to fight the resurgent Taliban.
Likewise, Abbas has gone out of his way in recent months to forge an alliance between Fatah and Hamas on Hamas's terms. He agreed to form a unity government with Hamas that would unify their terror forces under one command to better wage war against Israel. He agreed that Hamas would not recognize Israel's right to exist. Fatah itself, which he commands, has committed more attacks against Israel than Hamas in recent years, and was involved in the cross-border attack on Israel in June where Cpl. Gilad Shalit was abducted. Under the agreement he offered, Fatah would maintain its terrorist agenda.
And yet, rather than announce that the US will have nothing to do with Abbas, Bush invited him to the White House and praised his commitment to peace. Rather than acknowledge that the Palestinian leadership - in Fatah and Hamas, as well as all other major parties - has shown by word and deed that it seeks not an independent Palestinian state but the eradication of the Jewish state, Bush has insisted that he wants nothing more than to see the creation of a Palestinian state.
THE BUSH administration's insistence on confusing friends and foes has been complemented by its refusal to make distinctions between jihadist political parties and non-jihadist political parties. Indeed, the US facilitated the participation of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, Hizbullah in the Lebanese elections, the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian elections, and the jihadist Justice and Development party in the Moroccan elections.
In all these cases, these forces of totalitarianism were legitimized by their participation in the elections and their empowerment has enabled them to more ably advance the cause of jihad in their own societies and worldwide, at the expense of those moderate, liberal Muslims that must be empowered if jihad is to be defeated.
The world stands today on the edge of a potential upheaval. In Nicaragua, the Sandinistas are poised to retake power in elections in November. In the US, on November 7, voters will decide the composition of the Congress and Senate and so, in many ways, decide whether the war will continue to be fought to victory or will be abandoned.
Israelis have awoken from the fantasy of appeasement and are poised to bring in a government capable of defending them. In Britain, Tony Blair's heirs operate with the knowledge that they will be better off politically if they abandon the US.
Information operations that expose liberal democratic civilization's foes and support its allies - be they states or individuals - have never been more vital. Yet unless the Bush administration finds the courage to properly identify those foes and allies, its message will do more to confound than to clarify, and US policies will continue to be plagued by confusion - to the detriment of America and humanity as a whole.
Habeas Hocus Pocus
Reply #391 on:
October 03, 2006, 12:45:41 PM »
The New Detainee Law Does Not Deny Habeas Corpus
Fear not, New York Times, al Qaeda?s lawfare rights are still intact.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
There are innumerable positives in the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the new law on the treatment of enemy combatants that President Bush will soon sign. Among the best is Congress?s refusal to grant habeas-corpus rights to alien terrorists. After all, the terrorists already have them.
That the critique on this entirely appropriate measure has been dead wrong is given away by its full-throated hysteria. Typical was Richard Epstein, a distinguished constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago, who admonished the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Bush administration and a compliant Republican Congress were unconstitutionally ?suspend[ing]? the great writ. The New York Times editorial board, in its signature hyperbole, railed that ?[d]etainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment.? What bunkum.
AL QAEDA TERRORISTS HAVE NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
First, Congress cannot ?suspend? habeas corpus by denying it to people who have no right to it in the first place. The right against suspension of habeas corpus is found in the Constitution (art. I, 9). Constitutional rights belong only to Americans ? that is, according to the Supreme Court, U.S. citizens and those aliens who, by lawfully weaving themselves into the fabric of our society, have become part of our national community (which is to say, lawful permanent resident aliens). To the contrary, aliens with no immigration status who are captured and held outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and whose only connection to our country is to wage a barbaric war against it, do not have any rights, much less ?basic rights,? under our Constitution.
Indeed, even when the Supreme Court, in its radical 2004 Rasul case, opened the courthouse doors to enemy fighters in wartime for the first time in American history, it relied not on the Constitution but on the federal habeas corpus statute. So put aside that Rasul was an exercise in judicial legerdemain whose holding depended on a distortion of both that statute and the long-established limitations on the Court?s own jurisdiction (which does not extend outside sovereign U.S. territory to places like Guantanamo Bay, Cuba). Even in its willful determination to reach a result that rewarded al Qaeda?s lawfare, the Court declined to rule that alien combatants have fundamental habeas rights. Instead, they have only what Congress chooses to give them ? which Congress can change at any time.
AL QAEDA TERRORISTS HAVE NO TREATY RIGHTS
But wait. Isn?t habeas corpus necessary so that the terrorists can press the Geneva Convention rights with which the Court most recently vested them in its 2006 Hamdan case? Wrong again.
To begin with, although its reasoning was murky, the Hamdan majority seems technically to have held that Geneva?s Common Article 3 applied to military commissions because of a congressional statute, the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Again, if a right is rooted in a statute, not in the Constitution, Congress is at liberty to withdraw or alter the right simply by enacting a new statute. Such a right is not in any sense ?basic.?
But don?t some human-rights activists contend the Hamdan ruling means Common Article 3 applies not just because of a statute but because of its own force as part of a treaty that the United States has ratified? Well, yes, they do make that claim ? and (as I recently argued here) they have gotten plenty of help from the recent debate prompted by Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and others who insisted Hamdan meant Common Article 3 controls interrogation practices.
Even with all of that, though, it remains a settled principle that treaties are compacts between sovereign nations, not fonts of individual rights. Alleged violations are thus grist for diplomacy, not litigation. Treaties are not judicially enforceable by individuals absent an express statement to the contrary in the treaty?s text. By contrast, Geneva's express statements indicate that no judicial intervention was contemplated.
This, no doubt, is why the Geneva Conventions, qua treaties, have never been judicially enforced. Consequently, if Congress had actually denied al Qaeda detainees a right to use Common Article 3 to challenge their detention in federal court (and, as we?ll soon see, Congress has not done that), that would merely have reaffirmed what has been the law for over a half century.
If the political representatives of a nation believe one of its citizens is being unlawfully held at Gitmo, the proper procedure is for that nation to protest to our State Department, not for the detainee to sue our country in our courts. In fact, several nations have made such claims, and Bush administration has often responded by repatriating detainees to their home countries ? only to have many of them rejoin the jihad. In any event, though, there would be nothing wrong with declining to allow habeas to be used for the creation of individual rights that detainees do not in fact have under international law.
AL QAEDA TERRORISTS DO GET TO CHALLENGE THEIR DETENTION
But let?s ignore that the critics are wrong about the entitlement of al Qaeda terrorists to constitutional or treaty-based rights to habeas. There is an even more gaping hole in their attack on the new law. Congress has already given al Qaeda detainees the very rights the critics claim have been denied.
Last December, Congress enacted the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA). It requires that the military must grant each detainee a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) at which to challenge his detention. Assuming the military?s CSRT process determines he is properly detained, the detainee then has a right to appeal to our civilian-justice system ? specifically, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. And if that appeal is unsuccessful, the terrorist may also seek certiorari review by the Supreme Court.
This was a revolutionary innovation. As we?ve seen, Rasul did not (and could not) require Congress to allow enemy combatants access to the federal courts. Congress could lawfully have responded to Rasul by amending the habeas statute to make clear that al Qaeda terrorists have no more right to petition our courts in wartime than any other enemy prisoners have had in the preceding two-plus centuries. Instead, Congress responded by giving the enemy what are in every meaningful way habeas rights.
For the enemy combatants, habeas corpus, to borrow the Times?s articulation, is simply a ?right to challenge their imprisonment? in federal court. So what does the DTA do? It allows a detainee who has been found by the military to be properly held as an enemy combatant to challenge his incarceration in federal court. Under DTA section 1005(e)(2), that court (the D.C. Circuit) is expressly empowered to determine whether the detention is in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States ? which, of course, include treaties to whatever extent they may create individual rights.
Thus, the DTA has already granted to our enemies the very remedy critics claim is now being denied. Moreover, the new Military Commissions Act (MCA) does not repeal the DTA. It strengthens it. That is, because the Supreme Court?s Hamdan decision created confusion about whether the DTA was meant to apply retroactively to the 400-plus habeas petitions that were already filed, the MCA clarifies that all detainees who wish to challenge their imprisonment must follow the DTA procedure for doing so. But, importantly, the right to challenge imprisonment is itself reaffirmed.
That the DTA does not refer to this right as habeas corpus is irrelevant. It?s not the name of the remedy that counts; it?s the substance. The DTA gives the detainee exactly what habeas provides. Therefore, it would have been pointless for the MCA to add yet another round of habeas.
To understand why this is so, one need only consider the legal restrictions on imprisoned American citizens. If they wish to claim their detention is baseless, they are not permitted to file habeas petitions which simply re-allege claims they have already made (or at least had a fair opportunity to make) during prior legal proceedings (such as the appeal of a criminal conviction, or a previously filed habeas petition). Repetitious claims are instantly disregarded by courts as a form of procedural default known as ?abuse of the writ? of habeas corpus.
Given that habeas would not be available to an American for the purpose of rehashing a previously unsuccessful challenge to his imprisonment, why on earth should we extend habeas to an alien al Qaeda terrorist so he can re-litigate under the MCA an argument against his detention that has already been heard and rejected by a federal appeals court under the DTA?
WHO?S MANIPULATING HISTORY?
Epstein?s arguments are especially unbecoming. First, for all his bombast about the storied history of the habeas writ, he neglects to mention that the thousands upon thousands of alien enemy combatants our military has detained outside the U.S. in the long history of American warfare have never had a right to challenge their detention by calling on the judicial branch of our government at the very time the political branches have taken our nation into battle. It was Rasul that broke with tradition here. Even if enemy combatants had been denied habeas in this war ? which, of course, has not happened ? that would not have been a departure from tradition at all.
Second, it is simply preposterous to suggest, as Epstein does, that the government is likely to frustrate the DTA?s judicial review procedure by such shenanigans as starting a CSRT but then suspending it indefinitely without ruling on a detainee?s status (so the DTA right to appeal to the D.C. Circuit would never be triggered). The DTA not only directed the Defense Department to come up with CSRT procedures, including an annual review of the status of detainees found to be enemy combatants; it expressly contemplated oversight by the Armed Services committees in both Houses of Congress. There is no basis to believe either that the Pentagon is engaged in the kind of gamesmanship Epstein imagines or that Congress would tolerate such antics were they to occur.
It would be the height of folly to confer additional rights on alien enemy combatant terrorists ? which, by the way, would be far better rights than honorable alien enemy combatants who do not mass-murder civilians get under the Geneva Conventions ? for no better reason than to prevent an abuse that is virtually inconceivable in the real world. Such thinking reflects the same September 10th mentality that gave us the Justice Department?s infamous ?wall? ? which prevented criminal investigators and national security agents from pooling threat information in order to forfend hypothetical and empirically unheard-of civil-rights violations.
Been there done that.
? Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
National Review Online -
Reply #392 on:
October 05, 2006, 08:32:58 AM »
Taliban lay plans for Islamic intifada
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
THE PASHTUN HEARTLAND, Pakistan and Afghanistan - With the snows approaching, the Taliban's spring offensive has fallen short of its primary objective of reviving the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, as the country was known under Taliban rule from 1996-2001.
Both foreign forces and the Taliban will bunker down until next spring, although the Taliban are expected to continue with suicide missions and some hit-and-run guerrilla activities. The Taliban will
take refuge in the mountains that cross the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where they will have plenty of time to plan the next stage
of their struggle: a countrywide "Islamic Intifada of Afghanistan" calling on all former mujahideen to join the movement to boot out foreign forces from Afghanistan.
The intifada will be both national and international. On the one hand it aims to organize a national uprising, and on the other it will attempt to make Afghanistan the hub of the worldwide Islamic resistance movement, as it was previously under the Taliban when Osama bin Laden and his training camps were guests of the country.
The ideologue of the intifada is bin Laden's deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has assembled a special team to implement the idea. Key to this mission is Mullah Mehmood Allah Haq Yar. Asia Times Online was early to pinpoint Haq Yar as an important player (see Osama adds weight to Afghan resistance, September 11, 2004).
Oriented primarily towards Arabs, especially Zawahiri, Haq Yar speaks English, Arabic, Urdu and Pashtu with great fluency. He was sent by Taliban leader Mullah Omar to northern Iraq to train with Ansarul Islam fighters before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. He returned to Afghanistan in 2004 and was inducted into a special council of commanders formed by Mullah Omar and assigned the task of shepherding all foreign fighters and high-value targets from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan.
He is an expert in urban guerrilla warfare, a skill he has shared with the Taliban in Afghanistan. His new task might be more challenging: to gather local warlords from north to south under one umbrella and secure international support from regional players.
A major first step toward creating an intifada in Afghanistan was the establishment of the Islamic State of North Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal area this year. This brought all fragmented sections of the Taliban under one command, and was the launching pad for the Taliban's spring offensive.
Subsequently, there has been agreement between a number of top warlords in northern Afghanistan and the Taliban to make the intifada a success next year. Credit for this development goes mainly to Haq Yar.
Haq Yar was recently almost cornered in Helmand province in Afghanistan by British forces. Before that, he spoke to Asia Times Online at an undisclosed location in the Pashtun heartland straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Asia Times Online: When are the Taliban expected to announce the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan?
Haq Yar: Well, the whole Islamic world is waiting for the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, but it will take some time. But sure, it will ultimately happen, and this is what the Taliban's struggle is all about.
ATol: Can you define the level of Taliban-led resistance in Afghanistan?
Haq Yar: It has already passed the initial phases and now has entered into a tactical and decisive phase. It can be measured from the hue and cry raised by the US and its allies. Daily attacks on NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] forces are now routine and suicide attacks are rampant.
ATol: To date, the Taliban have been very active in southwestern Afghanistan, but traditionally success comes when a resistance reaches eastern areas, especially the strategically important Jalalabad. When will this happen?
Haq Yar: Well, I do not agree that the Taliban movement is restricted to southwest Afghanistan. We have now established a network under which we are allied with many big and small mujahideen organizations, and in that way we are fighting foreign forces throughout Afghanistan. In a recent development, the deputy chief of the Taliban movement, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, is now positioned in the eastern zone, including Jalalabad, from where he is guiding attacks on coalition forces. This eastern zone is also part of the Taliban's stronghold.
ATol: What is the role of bin Laden and Zawahiri?
Haq Yar: We are allies and part and parcel of every strategy. Wherever mujahideen are resisting the forces of evil, Arab mujahideen, al-Qaeda and leaders Osama bin Laden and Dr Zawahiri have a key role. In Afghanistan they also have a significant role to support the Taliban movement.
ATol: Is the present Taliban-led resistance against the US and its allies a local resistance or is it international? That is, are resistance movements in other parts of the world led from Afghanistan?
Haq Yar: Initially it was a local movement, but now it is linked with resistance movements in Iraq and other places. We are certainly in coordination with all resistance movements of the Muslim world.
ATol: What is the Taliban strategy with groups like Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (Khalis)?
Haq Yar: The Hezb-i-Islami of Hekmatyar and the Taliban are fighting under a coordinated strategy and support each other. The leadership of the Khalis group is now in the hands of his son, who is coordinating everything with Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani.
ATol: What is the Taliban's weaponry? Is it old Russian arms or they have acquired new ones - and if so, where are they getting them?
Haq Yar: The Taliban have all the latest weaponry required for a guerrilla warfare. Where does it come from? Well, Afghanistan is known as a place where weapons are stockpiled. And forces that provided arms a few decades ago - the same weapons are now being used against them.
ATol: The Taliban contacted commanders in northern Afghanistan. What was the result?
Haq Yar: About one and a half years ago these contacts were initiated. Various groups from the north contacted us. We discussed the matter with [Taliban leader] Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund and then, with his consent, I was assigned to negotiate matters with the Northern Alliance.
The first meeting was held in northern Afghanistan, where I represented the Taliban. Many individuals from various groups of the Northern Alliance attended the meeting and they all condemned the foreign presence in the country, but insisted that the Taliban should take the lead, and then they would follow suit. Another meeting was held after that in which various individuals come up with some conditions, and there was no conclusion. There was no collective meeting, but there are contacts.
ATol: What is the role of the tribal chiefs?
Haq Yar: The tribal chiefs have always been supportive of the Taliban and still are. How could they not be? The US bombed and killed thousand of their people and the puppet [President Hamid] Karzai government is silent. All Afghans are sick and tired of US tyrannies and daily bombardment, whether they are commoners or chiefs, and that is why they are all with the Taliban.
Actually, we have also worked on organizing that support. On the instructions of Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund, I met with tribal chiefs last year and prepared the grounds for this year's battle [spring offensive], and all tribal chiefs assured me of their support. And now there is support - it is there for everybody to see.
ATol: It is said that the Taliban are now fueled by drug money. Is this correct, and if not, how do they manage their financial matters?
Haq Yar: It is shameful to say that the Taliban, who eliminated poppies from Afghanistan, are dependent on the drug trade to make money. This is wrong. As far as money is concerned, we do not need much. Whatever is required, we manage it through our own limited resources.
ATol: Are you satisfied with the media's role?
Haq Yar: Not at all. They do not publish our point of view. They never tried to talk to the genuine Taliban. Rather, they go after not genuine people who are basically plants and rejected by the Taliban leadership.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at
Reply #393 on:
October 06, 2006, 08:16:07 AM »
Iran, Russia: A Nuclear Marriage of Convenience
Russia and Iran have signed a contract for the delivery of 80 tons of nuclear fuel to Iran's Bushehr facility, which is scheduled to be completed in September 2007. Russia appears to be in the process of finishing updating its military doctrine. Closer economic ties with Iran will allow Russia to maintain a foothold in the Middle East while keeping pressure on the United States, which lacks the bandwidth to respond to Russia's provocative moves.
During a visit by an Iranian delegation to Russia, Tehran and Moscow signed agreements Sept. 26 for the delivery of 80 metric tons of nuclear fuel to supply the Bushehr nuclear plant in southern Iran in March 2007. Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's Federal Nuclear Power Agency, recently said the plant will be commissioned in September 2007, and will commence generating power two months later.
The fuel agreements are the most significant steps toward finalizing the shape of Russian-Iranian cooperation on Bushehr. Consistent with its current strategy, Russia is simultaneously strengthening ties with Iran and expanding its presence in the Middle East, both of which irk the United States. Of course, if the September 2007 deadline becomes inconvenient in the future by conflicting with Moscow's political goals, it can be altered to suit Russia's needs, as Moscow has repeatedly done during the past decade.
The Russian stance, including its continued cooperation with Iran on Tehran's civilian nuclear program, reflects Moscow's present global position. The Kremlin is focused on strengthening its hold on domestic industry and politics, maintaining influence on Russia's periphery and indirectly challenging the United States while Washington is preoccupied with the conflict in Iraq and November's midterm congressional elections. Russia's actions in the Middle East, which present a challenge for the U.S. presence in the region, also include continued weapons systems sales to Syria, the deployment of military engineers to assist in Lebanon's reconstruction and the possible sale of surface-to-air missile systems to Iran (ostensibly to protect the Bushehr plant from Israeli or U.S. aggression).
Moscow's position has been articulated by a leaked draft of the latest update to Russia's military doctrine, published by the Russian newspaper Gazeta on Sept. 19. (The Russian Ministry of Defense denied the document's mere existence.) Along with naming the United States and NATO as enemies Nos. 1 and 2, ahead of international terrorism, the document also states that Russia would participate in conflicts on the country's periphery in order to protect its citizens. By moving from a "universal regime of nonproliferation" to a mere stance "for nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and its means of delivery," Russia is leaving itself an out from being held responsible for allowing Iran the opportunity to get nuclear weapons. Though Russia has just as much incentive as the Western powers to make sure Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons, Moscow wants to make sure it is not seen as complicit with Tehran.
Even if the documents obtained by Gazeta turn out to be legitimate, little change will come to Russian foreign and domestic policy. All of the updates suggested are in line with what Russia is already doing or can do, and military doctrines as such are not binding. This particular document, however, could bolster Russian Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov's position. Ivanov is widely seen as Russian President Vladimir Putin's possible successor. Ivanov has reportedly insisted on the changes in the doctrine that improve conditions in the Russian armed forces consistent with Putin's policy. This is helpful in consolidating the Kremlin's position ahead of the 2007 parliamentary and 2008 presidential elections, as is continued cooperation with Iran.
Though Russia and Iran cannot be called allies, Moscow does want to give the impression that it holds some sway over Tehran. Regardless of the continued cooperation between the two, the Islamic republic is just as likely to spurn Russian advances when it suits Tehran and play Russia just as skillfully.
Reply #394 on:
October 06, 2006, 08:19:32 AM »
Second post of the morning:
Iran, Iraq, Turkey: The Kurdish Factor
An explosion on an Iran-to-Turkey natural gas pipeline outside the Iranian border city of Maku probably resulted from sabotage by Kurdish separatist rebels, Iranian authorities said Sept. 29. The incident comes shortly after Iraq's Kurdish President Jalal Talabani said Baghdad could make trouble for Iran and Turkey if they do not stop interfering in Iraq's internal affairs. As Iraqi Kurds become more aggressive in their push to secure oil revenues in northern Iraq, Ankara and Tehran have made common cause to suppress Kurdish separatism, creating further complications for Washington's goal of containing Iran.
An explosion on an Iran-to-Turkey natural gas pipeline outside the Iranian border city of Maku occurred at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 28. The explosion, which destroyed about 65-75 yards of the line, likely will take three to four days to repair, Turkey's state pipeline company, Botas, said. The company also said the shortage in Iranian gas deliveries to Turkey would be compensated by Russian natural gas coming through the Blue Stream pipeline beneath the Black Sea.
Most Kurdish acts of sabotage on the Iran-Turkey gas pipeline occur in Turkey and are carried out by guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has increased attacks on security, government and commercial targets in Kurdish-majority areas of Turkey in recent months. The 1,600 mile pipeline, running from Tabriz to Ankara, is an attractive target for Kurdish guerrillas aiming to strike at the Turkish economy, since it supplies Turkey with more than a third of its annual gas consumption. Turkey most recently experienced natural gas shortages for four days when PKK rebels blew up part of the same pipeline in the Turkish city of Agri in September.
While the PKK has sustained its level of operations in Turkey, Kurdish separatist rebels in Iran have largely stayed quiet out of fear of incurring a major crackdown by the Iranian regime. Lacking a viable leadership structure, the Kurdish rebel movement in Iran generally sticks to low-level operations, which draw a stiff response from the Iranian armed forces. The latest pipeline explosion, however, reveals the manner in which the Kurds in Turkey, Iraq and Iran can cooperate on some level to further their territorial ambitions through hard-hitting attacks.
Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, made a telling statement Sept. 26 in Washington when he told National Public Radio that Iraq can "make trouble" for its neighbors (e.g., Turkey, Iran and Syria) if they do not stop interfering in his country's internal affairs. With a political arrangement in Baghdad still nowhere in sight, the Kurdish bloc in Iraq has taken the opportunity to push its own demands while Sunni and Shiite factions are deeply consumed in sectarian fighting. The most contentious of the Kurdish demands undoubtedly revolves around the issue of oil revenues in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Despite the lack of federal legislation on how to divide oil revenues among Iraq's three dominant factions, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has pressed forward in talks with oil majors, having even signed an agreement with Norwegian oil company DNO to start producing up to 5,000 barrels per day of oil in northern Iraq beginning the first quarter of 2007. While this outrages Iraq's Oil Ministry, which has said the government does not need to honor previous KRG oil investment deals, the political disarray in Baghdad prevents the center from taking any real action to suppress Kurdish moves to grab oil returns.
With sizable Kurdish populations, Iran and Turkey have been watching these developments closely, and are becoming increasingly alarmed at the rate at which the Iraqi Kurds are asserting their autonomy without restraint. As a result, Tehran and Ankara have coordinated military operations against Kurds on Iraqi soil, with the deepest Iranian incursion taking place Sept. 5 when Iran fired artillery against Kurdish positions near the Iraqi town of Mandali, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. Talabani made it clear during his Washington visit that his patience for such actions is wearing thin, and that Iraq will respond by supporting "opposition forces" within its neighbors' borders, a warning that appears to have been actualized by the late-night pipeline explosion.
The pipeline attack will only strengthen Iran's and Turkey's incentive to work together to curb Kurdish separatist tendencies. Major crackdowns against Kurdish strongholds in the region thus can be expected in the coming weeks.
The Kurdish issue also complicates matters for Washington, as U.S. officials are running out of options to contain Iran's expansionist push. Ankara is especially peeved at Washington for not following through with a commitment to help contain the Kurds in Iraq and block support for PKK operations in Turkey. As long as Turkey feels territorially threatened by developments in its Iraqi neighbor, the United States will be hard-pressed to find strong regional allies to help keep the Iranians at bay.
Reply #395 on:
October 06, 2006, 03:00:44 PM »
Third post of the day:
The Boring Fabulist
"State of Denial" amazes me.
Friday, October 6, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Thirty-two years into his career as a writer of books, Bob Woodward has won a reputation as slipshod ("Wired"), slippery ("All the President's Men," "The Final Days"), opportunistic ("Veil"; everything) and generally unaware of the implications even of those facts he's offered that have gone unchallenged. As a reporter he's been compared to a great dumb shark, remorselessly moving toward hunks of information he can swallow but not digest. As a writer his style has been to lard unconnected sentences with extraneous data in order to give his assertions a fact-y weight that suggests truth is being told. And so: On July 23, 1994, at 4:18 p.m., the meeting over, the president gazed out the double-paned windows of the Oval Office, built in October 1909 by workers uncovered by later minimum wage legislation, and saw the storm moving in. "I think I'll kill my wife," he said, the words echoing in the empty room. I made that up. It's my homage.
Mr. Woodward has been that amazing thing, the boring fabulist.
The Bush White House has spent the past five years thinking they could manage him. Talk about a state of denial.
Now he has thwarted me. I bought "State of Denial" thinking I might have a merry time bashing it and a satisfying time defending the innocent injured.
But it is a good book. It may be a great one. It is serious, densely, even exhaustively, reported, and a real contribution to history in that it gives history what it most requires, first-person testimony. (It is well documented, with copious notes.) What is most striking is that Mr. Woodward seems to try very hard to be fair, not in a phony "Armitage, however, denies it" way, but in a way that--it will seem too much to say this--reminded me of Jean Renoir: "The real hell of life is that everyone has his reasons."
His Bush is not a monster but a personally disciplined, yearning, vain and intensely limited man. His advisers in all levels of the government are tugged and torn by understandable currents and display varying degrees of guile, cynicism and courage. As usual, prime sources get the best treatment--the affable Andy Card, the always well-meaning Prince Bandar. Members of the armed forces get a high-gloss spit shine. But once you decode it and put it aside--and Woodward readers always know to do that--you get real history:
The almost epic bureaucratic battle of Donald Rumsfeld to re-establish civilian control of the post-Clinton Joint Chiefs of Staff; the struggle of the State Department to be heard and not just handled by the president; the search on the ground for the weapons of mass destruction; the struggles, advances and removal from Iraq of Jay Garner, sent to oversee humanitarian aid; the utter disconnect between the experience on the ground after Baghdad was taken and the attitude of the White House--"borderline giddy." This is a primer on how the executive branch of the United States works, or rather doesn't work, in the early years of the 21st century.
There is previously unreported information. Former Secretary of State George Shultz was top contender for American envoy to Baghdad, but there were worries he was "not known for taking direction." Spies called "bats" were planted in American agencies by American agencies to report to rival superiors back home.
After Baghdad fell, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, who appears to be the best friend of everybody in the world, went to the White House and advised the president to fill the power vacuum immediately: The Baath Party and the military had run the country. Remove the top echelon--they have bloody hands--but keep and maintain everyone else. Tell the Iraqi military to report to their barracks, he advised, and keep the colonels on down. Have them restore order. Have Iraqi intelligence find the insurgents: "Those bad guys will know how to find bad guys." Use them, and then throw them over the side. This is advice that has the brilliance of the obvious, and not only in retrospect.
Mr. Woodward: "'That's too Machiavellian,' someone said. The Saudi notes of the meeting indicate it was either Bush or Rice."
It's isn't clear if "too Machiavellian" meant too clever by half, or too devious for good people like us. Either way it was another path not taken. The newly unemployed personnel of the old Iraqi government took to the streets, like everyone else.
To the central thesis. Was the White House, from the beginning, in a state of denial? I doubt denial is the word. They were in a state of unknowingness. (I have come to give greater credence to the importance, in the age of terror, among our leaders, of having served in the military. For you need personal experience that you absorbed deep down in your bones, or a kind of imaginative wisdom that tells you even though you were never there what war is like, what invasion is, what building a foreign nation entails.) They were in a state of conviction: They really thought Saddam had those WMDs. (Yes, so did Bill Clinton, so did The New Yorker, so did I, and so likely did you. But Mr. Bush moved on, insisted on, intelligence that was faulty, inadequate.) They were in a state of propulsion: 9/11 had just wounded a great nation. Strong action was needed.
Here I add something I have been thinking about the past year. It is about the young guys at the table in the Reagan era. The young, mid-level guys who came to Washington in the Reagan years were always at the table in the meeting with the career State Department guy. And the man from State, timid in all ways except bureaucratic warfare, was always going "Ooh, aah, you can't do that, the Soviet Union is so big, Galbraith told us how strong their economy is, the Sandinistas have the passionate support of the people, there's nothing we can do, stop with your evil empire and your Grenada invasion, it's needlessly aggressive!" Those guys from State--they were almost always wrong. Their caution was timorousness, their prudence a way to evade responsibility. The young Reagan guys at the table grew up to be the heavyweights of the Bush era. They walked into the White House knowing who'd been wrong at the table 20 years before. And so when State and others came in and said, "The intelligence doesn't support it, we see no WMDs," the Bush men knew who not to believe.
History is human.
Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on OpinionJournal.com.
Reply #396 on:
December 15, 2006, 11:34:50 AM »
Is it any surprise that James Baker wants to sell our only real Allies in the Middle East (Israel) down the river. Not only this but we should invite Iran and Syria to the table and ask for their input on Iraq. The Bush admin has finally lost its mind.
When did the American people become sheep! All we have done is shown Islamic Radicals that if they hold out long enough that America no longer has the stomach for war and is weak. If times get hard we will run and hide.
Someone once asked how do you win a political correct war? Answer, you don't. WWII will be the last war we win unless the politicians stop worrying about being re-elected and let generals fight wars.
For those who fight for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know
Reply #397 on:
December 17, 2006, 08:14:11 PM »
Quote from: xtremekali on December 15, 2006, 11:34:50 AM
Someone once asked how do you win a political correct war?
It is not enough to win a war, you have to demoralize the enemy to the point that they lose their will to fight. That was the job of the A bombs over Japan and the fire bombings of European cities. Only after you have beaten the enemy can you go in to help them build up again.
Without having won the war in Iraq it is ridiculous to try to establish a democracy there. It is ridiculous to give humanitarian aide to the Palestinians or to Lebanon before defeating the enemy.
Hegemonic Apogee? Part I
Reply #398 on:
December 18, 2006, 10:45:55 AM »
Past the Apogee: America Under Pressure
Keynote Address at FPRI’s Annual Dinner, November 14, 2006
by Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer writes an internationally syndicated column for the Washington Post Writers Group. He is also a monthly essayist for Time magazine, a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, and a weekly panelist on Inside Washington. He was awarded the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, and Financial Times recently named him America’s most influential commentator. This enote is based on his keynote address at FPRI’s November 14, 2006, annual dinner, at which Dr. Krauthammer was the second recipient of FPRI’s Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service.
We are now in a period of confusion and disorientation, almost despair. I think it is worthwhile to look back historically to see how we got to where we are today.
In the mid to late 1980s, the idea of American decline was in vogue. Japan was rising, China was awakening, Europe was consolidating, America was said to have been in the midst of what historian Paul Kennedy called “imperial overstretch.” The conventional wisdom of the time was that the bipolar world of the United States and the Soviet Union would yield to a new world structure which would be multipolar, with power fairly equally divided between Japan, perhaps China, a diminished Soviet Union, a consolidating Europe, the United States, and perhaps other rising countries such as India or perhaps even Brazil. That’s how the world looked in the mid to late 1980s.
When I wrote the article “The Unipolar Moment” (Foreign Affairs, Winter 1990/91), it achieved some renown because, remarkably, I was the only one saying at the time, that in fact, with the end of the Cold War, the United States would end up as the unipolar power, the dominant, hegemonic power in the world. There would be none even close to us in ranking. The old bipolar world would yield not to a multipolar world but to one with only one great influence, and that would be us.
In fact, that has occurred. At the time, I was thinking about how long this might last and called the article “The Unipolar Moment.” I thought it might last a generation. Twenty to thirty years, I wrote. Here we are almost exactly 15 years later, the midpoint of the more optimistic estimate.
The first part of the unipolar era since the fall of the Soviet Union, which can the dated between 11/09 (November 9, 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall) and 9/11, would be the period of American ascent, in which our dominance in the world became absolutely undeniable, to the degree that in the 1990s, we couldn’t quite figure out what to do with all this preponderance of power. There were some neoconservatives and others who were proclaiming an era of American greatness where we ought to exert ourselves overseas, even in the absence of a threat, simply as a way of being true to our traditions and values. To some extent, one might say that our intervention in the Balkan wars, where we had almost no national interest, was an example of this assertion of unrivaled power in the interests of our values.
Others of us thought that in the absence of an enemy, we ought not be exerting ourselves for the sake of exerting ourselves. I advocated a policy that I called “dry powder,” where we would maintain our resources, conserve our strength, and wait for the inevitable, which would be the rise of an adversary. In the 1990s, of course, that adversary was not obvious. He was working in the shadows, preparing, and finally revealing himself on 9/11. That’s when the structure of the world became blindingly clear. We were confronted with a new ideological, existential enemy, meaning an enemy who threatens our existence and very way of life; who is driven by a messianic faith and is engaged in a struggle to the death. This was an heir to the ideological existential struggles of the twentieth century, first against fascism and then against communism, in which we had prevailed.
Sept. 11 ushered in the second era of this unipolar era, which I would call the era of assertion, where the power that had been latent in America shows itself. I would date this era from 9/11 to the March 14, 2005, a date probably unfamiliar to you and not particularly renowned in our history today, but a date that I think will be remembered by historians as the apogee of American power, the peak of the arc of the unipolar era.
On 9/11, the United States, with its ally Great Britain, decided that it would respond in two ways: revenge and reconstruction. It would retaliate against the enemy, try to pursue him and his associates in Afghanistan and elsewhere; but it also decided — and this was the Bush Doctrine — that that was not enough of a response; that spending the next twenty to thirty years hunting cave-to-cave in Afghanistan was not an adequate response. It was perhaps necessary, but certainly not sufficient, to deal with this new ideological enemy. This enemy is not, as some have pretended, simply a band of terrorists and extremists numbering in the thousands. It’s an idea with many, many practitioners of different stripes—some Shiite, some Sunni—and with allies, fifth columns, potential recruits throughout the world, including large immigrant populations in the West.
The Bush Doctrine held that besides attacking the immediate enemy who had perpetrated 9/11, it would have to engage in a larger enterprise of changing the underlying conditions which had given birth to this idea of Islamic radicalism, and to change the conditions that had allowed it to recruit and breed, particularly in the Arab world.
This meant changing the internal structure of Arab regimes and in a larger sense the culture of the Arab/Islamic world. This had been the one area of the world that uniquely had been untouched by the modernizing and democratizing influences of the postwar era. East Asia had famously taken off economically and politically, in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and elsewhere; Latin America and even some parts of Africa had democratized; of course, Western Europe had been democratic ever since World War II, but now Eastern Europe had joined the march. Only the Arab/Islamic world had been left out. Unless it was somehow encouraged and brought along on that march, it would remain recalcitrant, alienated, oppressed, tyrannical, and the place from which the kind of atavistic attacks on America and the West that we have seen on 9/11 and since would continue.
That’s why the entire enterprise of changing the culture of the Arab world was undertaken. It was, as I and others had said at the time, a radical idea, an arrogant idea, a risky idea. But it was also the only idea of any coherence and consistency that anyone has advanced on how to change the underlying conditions that had led to 9/11 and ultimately to prevent the kind of conditions that would lead to a second 9/11.
So we have this half decade of American assertion. And it was an astonishing demonstration. In the mood of despair and disorientation of today, we forget what happened less than half a decade ago. The astonishingly swift and decisive success in Afghanistan, with a few hundred soldiers, some of them riding horses, directing lasers, organizing a campaign with indigenous Afghans, and defeating a regime in about a month and a half in a place that others had said was impossible to conquer; that the British and the Russians and others had left in defeat and despair in the past. It was an event so remarkable that the aforementioned Paul Kennedy now wrote an article, "The Eagle has Landed" (Financial Times, Feb. 2, 2002) in which he simply expressed his astonishment at the primacy, the power, and the unrivalled strength of the United States as demonstrated in the Afghan campaign.
After that, of course, was the swift initial victory in Iraq, in which the capital fell within three weeks. After that was a ripple effect in the region. Libya, seeing what we had done in Iraq, gave up its nuclear capacity; then the remarkable revolution in Lebanon in which Syria was essentially expelled. And that demarks the date that I spoke of. March 14 is the name of the movement in Lebanon of those who rose up against the Syrians and essentially created a new democracy—fragile, as we will see. You have all of these events happening at once: you have the glimmerings of democracy in the elections in Egypt, some changes even in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and of course what we had in January 2005 was the famous first election in Iraq, which had an electric effect on the region. That winter-spring of 2005, I think, is the apogee of this assertion of unipolarity and American power.
What we have seen, however, in the last almost two years now is what I think historians will write of as the setback. That is the year and a half between the Iraqi election and the Lebanese revolution, on the one hand, and the date that I think is going to live in history as an extremely important one, November 7, 2006, the American election, in which it was absolutely clear that the electorate had expressed its dismay and dissatisfaction with the policies in Iraq, and more generally, a sense of loss, lack of direction, and wish to contemplate retreat. As a result , we are in position now where people are talking about negotiating, for example, with our enemies Syria and Iran, which, given the conditions that Iran and Syria would lay and their objectives, which have been expressed openly and clearly, would mean very little other than American surrender of Iraq to an Iran-Syria condominium.
So what happened in this year and a half? What we have seen, for example, was the collapse in Lebanon of this new direction; we just heard two days ago that Hezbollah has pulled its members of the cabinet and is calling for demonstrations on November 20 in an attempt to actually destroy and bring down the newly elected and pro-Western government. What you have is a resurgence of Syrian influence in Lebanon, Syria being of course an ally of Iran and the patron of Hezbollah. Syria is doing all this because the Lebanese government was about to pass a law and actually did today in which it approved an international court to try the murderers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. So you have a power play in Lebanon that would undo the Lebanese revolution. You have, of course, the Lebanon war of August 2006, in which Israel had an opportunity to deliver a huge strategic setback to Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah but ended up in a relative stalemate. You have Hamas gaining power in Gaza and chaos descending in Gaza, with the loss of control of the relatively moderate Abu Mazen and the Fatah movement. You had of course the rise in Iran of the very radical, ideological, and quite messianic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who speaks openly about the end of days, who speaks privately about its arrival within two or three years, and who talks about wiping Israel off the map, who clearly is intent upon achieving a nuclear capacity, but even more importantly, who defies every deadline or warning or threat from the West and does it with impunity. We’ve had in the last half year a collapse of our position on Iran. We talk about pressure and sanctions, but we have allowed deadline after deadline to elapse, and Iran is openly contemptuous of our attempts to impose sanctions, knowing correctly that we will not be able to get the Russians and Chinese to back them, and that ultimately even the Europeans will be weak and unwilling to join in real sanctions.
To this constellation we can add one more factor, which is of course Iraq. The hope that we had through the first election in 2005 has now been completely lost. That is because we’ve had the rise of sectarian violence, particularly after the Samara bombing, and also because the Sunni insurgency continues to rage and the Shiite militias continue untamed. You put all of those together and you have a large strategic setback for the United States, and most important, for the idea of successfully changing the nature of the Arab world to one which would be more democratic and tranquil and accommodationist. As a result, what you have in this recent American election is essentially a referendum on that idea, and the notion that it cannot succeed, it has not been succeeding, and we’re going to have to have a change of course.
Hegemonic Apogee? Part II
Reply #399 on:
December 18, 2006, 10:46:37 AM »
Now, the question is, what happened in the two years between the apogee of our power and this moment of despair which was registered by the American election. Al Qaeda had a chance after the first few years to if not recover, at least reorganize itself enough to be able to make advances, attacks in Madrid and London, and now of course the insurgency in Iraq, where it has relatively strengthened itself in the last several years. But most importantly is the assertiveness of Iran and its proxies in Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. In that sense Iran is something of a mini-parallel to the Communist International. It is the leader of the movement. (Al Qaeda is the twin church, the Sunni version of it, in the same way perhaps that the Russians and the Chinese had their twin churches of communism, rivals but allies at times during the Cold War.) But Iran of course is the central actor now in the rise and the activity of Islamic fundamentalism, with its proxies, as I said, in Hamas, Hezbollah, the Mahdi army in Iraq and elsewhere. And it is determined, pressing its case in Iraq, and in Lebanon, in Palestine, and elsewhere.
We Americans, looking at a situation like the one that has unraveled in Iraq, immediately want to blame ourselves. We traditionally flatter ourselves that we are the root of all planetary good and evil, whether it is nuclear weapons in North Korea, poverty in Bolivia, or disco attacks in Bali. Fingers are pointed that somehow attempt to locate the root of the problem in the United States. Our discourse on Iraq has followed this same pattern. Where did we go wrong? Not enough troops, too arrogant an occupation, too little direction from the political authorities in Washington or too much? Everybody has his own theory. I have mine on the things that we should have done otherwise. We should have shot looters on day 1, we should have installed a government of Iraqi exiles immediately, and above all, we should have taken out Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army in 2004, when we had the opportunity. All of those decisions, I think, greatly complicated our problems.
Nonetheless, the root problem is not the United States and not the tactical errors that we have made in Iraq. The root problem is the Iraqis and their own political culture. Since this an evening honoring Benjamin Franklin, I want to recall to you one of his most famous statements. When leaving the Constitutional Convention, he was asked what they had accomplished. His response was “A republic, if you can keep it.” What we have done in Iraq is given them a republic, but they appear unable to keep it.
I think that has a lot to do with Iraqi history. We had two objectives going into Iraq. The first was to depose the regime—relatively easy. The second was to try to establish a self-sustaining, democratic successor government. That has proved to be extraordinarily difficult. The problem is not, as we endlessly hear, American troop levels. It’s not even Iraqi troop levels. The size and the training of Iraqi forces is much less an issue than is the question of their allegiance. Some of these soldiers serve an abstraction called Iraq, but others serve political entities, militias, and/or religious sects. The Iraqi police, for example, are so infiltrated by Shiite death squads that they cannot be relied upon at all for the security of the country.
And again, the reason is not, as many critics now claim, that there is something intrinsic within Arab culture that makes them incapable of democracy. Yes, there are political, historical, and even religious reasons why the Arabs might be less prepared to be democratic in their governance than, say, East Asians or Latin Americans. But the problem, I believe, is Iraq’s particular culture and history. This after all is a country that was raped and ruined for thirty years by a uniquely sadistic and cruel and atomizing totalitarianism. What was left in its wake was a social and political desert, a dearth of the kind of trust and good will and sheer human capital required for democratic governance. All that was left to the individual in Iraq was to attach himself to a mosque or clan or militia. That’s why at this earliest stage of democratic development Iraqi national consciousness is as yet too weak and the culture of compromise too underdeveloped to produce effective government enjoying broad allegiance.
Just a month ago the U.S. launched operations against the Mahdi army in Baghdad and was ordered to stop by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. Under pressure, the barricades that we had established around Sadr City to find one of our missing soldiers and to arrest a death squad leader were suspended. This is no way to conduct a war. I believe the government of Prime Minister Maliki is a failure. The problem is not his personality, it’s the fact that the coalition on which he depends is predominated by Shiite elements of militias and religious parties, armed and ambitious, at odds with each other and with the very idea of a democratic Iraq.
Is this our fault? I think the answer is no. It’s the result of Iraq’s first experiment in democracy. When the U.S. went into Iraq, it was not going to replace on tyrant with another. We were trying to begin the planting of democracy in the heart of the Middle East as the one conceivable antidote to terrorism and extremism. In a country that is two thirds Shiite, that meant inevitably Shiite rule. It was never certain whether the long-oppressed Shia would have enough sense of nation or sense of compromise to set aside their own grievances and internal differences and make a generous offer to the Sunnis in order to tame the insurgency and begin a new page in their country’s political history. The answer to whether that was going to happen is now in, and the answer is no.
The ruling Shia themselves are lacking in cohesion. Just a month ago there was a fight in the city of Amara between the two leading Shiite political parties, a bloody and brutal fight, which actually holds out some hope for what might help to ameliorate the situation in Iraq—namely, a change in structure of the coalition, which is now Shiite with the Kurds as a junior partner, and try to establish a new government with a new set of coalition partners, which would involve secular and religious Shiites who would reach out to some of the Sunnis, those who recognize their minority status but would be willing to accept a generously offered place at the table. This kind of cross-sectarian coalition almost happened after the election last year. Almost half of the parliament consists of these Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni elements. It seems to me that unless there is a change in the government, which has clearly not succeeded, we are not going to succeed. You can tinker with American tactics and troop levels all you want, but unless the Iraqis can establish a government of unitary purpose and resolute action, the simple objective of the war—leaving behind a self-sustaining, democratic government—will not be achieved.
Given these circumstances, we now have a situation in Washington after the election, which is looking for a kind of exit, honorable or not, and that is why I think there is a lot of discussion about negotiations with Iran and Syria, which I think ultimately would amount to nothing more than cover for an American retreat. I don’t think that is the only alternative, however. I think there is at least a chance of trying to save the situation not only in Iraq, but the general idea of trying to establish more liberal democratic and less confrontational governments in that region. Part of that effort I think has to be a very important and exerted effort now to try to rescue the Lebanese government, which in the next week or so will be under threat of demonstration, perhaps even civil war and perhaps even open Syrian intervention against it. That’s why even though our situation today is a rather gloomy one and there is a lot of disorientation and despair, I think that if we do not lose our nerve and lose our way, there is a way to actually emerge from this two-year era of setback.
What is becoming clear is that the overall international strategic situation in which we had unchallenged hegemony for the first decade and half the unipolar moment is now over. We are seeing on the horizon the rise of something that is always expected in any unipolar era, which is an alliance of others who oppose us.
Historically, whenever one country has arisen above all the others in power, anti-hegemonic alliances immediately formed against them. The classic example is the alliance against Napoleon in the early nineteenth century, and of course the alliances against Germany from World War I to World War II, particularly in the 1930s, where you had the rise of an aggressive, hegemonic Germany in the heart of Europe. What is interesting about our unipolar era is that whereas we had achieved unprecedented hegemony in the first decade and a half, there were no alliances against us. What I think we are beginning to see now is Iran positioning itself at the center of a regional alliance against us, again with the—Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Sadr—looking to overawe the entire region with the acquisition of nuclear weapons, which would make it the regional superpower. And Iran is receiving tacit backing for its regional and anti-American ambitions from two great powers: Russia and China. That, I think, is the structure of the adversary that we will be looking at for the decades to come.
As the Bush Doctrine has come under attack, there are those in America who have welcomed its apparent setbacks and defeats as a vindication of their criticism of the policy. But the problem is that that kind of vindication leaves America in a position where there are no good alternatives. The reason that there is general despair now is because if it proves to be true that the Bush Doctrine has proclaimed an idea of democratizing the Arab/Islamic world that is unattainable and undoable, then there are no remaining answers to how to counter ultimately the threat of Islamic radicalism.
It remains the only plausible answer—changing the culture of that area, no matter how slow and how difficult the process. It starts in Iraq and Lebanon, and must be allowed to proceed and not precipitate an early and premature surrender. That idea remains the only conceivable one for ultimately prevailing over the Arab Islamic radicalism that exploded upon us 9/11. Every other is a policy of retreat and defeat that would ultimately bring ruin not only on the U.S. but on the very idea of freedom.
Charles Krauthammer and FPRI President Harvey Sicherman greet guests at FPRI’s Annual Dinner.
Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (Random House, 1987), p. 515. [back]
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