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Articulating our cause/strategy against Islamic Fascism
Topic: Articulating our cause/strategy against Islamic Fascism (Read 26700 times)
Re: Articulating our cause/strategy against Islamic Fascism
Reply #150 on:
December 03, 2015, 01:24:03 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on December 03, 2015, 01:20:28 PM
I'm thinking that the term "possible terrorist attack" should be replaced with "jihadi raid".
Do you remember the day you made me a dog Guru? The conversation that we had?
One does not "accumulate" things in their household on accident. This was nothing less than a raid. It is the epitomy of religious extremism.
It's all a matter of perspective.
Re: Articulating our cause/strategy against Islamic Fascism
Reply #151 on:
December 03, 2015, 02:50:48 PM »
Reply #152 on:
December 12, 2015, 10:30:20 AM »
We are losing
Reply #153 on:
December 14, 2015, 03:16:43 PM »
OPINION: Why We’re Losing the War on Terror and How We Can Win
Is the United States Losing the War on Terror?
I think so. For some background, below is a brief synopsis of two strategies developed by the United States to combat/counter terrorism.
The Strategy and End State; 2003-2010
The United States 4D Strategy to Combat Terrorism from 2003-2010.
The United States and its partners will defeat terrorist organizations of global reach by attacking their sanctuaries; leadership; command, control, and communications; material support; and finances.
Deny further sponsorship, support, and sanctuary to terrorists by ensuring other states accept their responsibilities to take action against these international threats within their sovereign territory.
Diminish the underlying conditions that terrorist seek to exploit by enlisting the international community to focus its efforts and resources on the areas most at risk.
Defend the United States, our citizens, and our interests at home and abroad by both proactively protecting our homeland and extending our defenses to ensure we identify and neutralize the threat as early as possible.
The End State:
Victory against terrorism will not occur as a single, defining moment. It will not be marked by the likes of the surrender ceremony on the deck of the USS Missouri that ended World War II. However, through the sustained effort to compress the scope and capability of terrorist organizations, isolate them regionally, and destroy them within state borders, the United States and its friends and allies will secure a world in which our children can live free from fear and where the threat of terrorist attacks does not define our daily lives.
Victory, therefore, will be secured only as long as the United States and the international community maintain their vigilance and work tirelessly to prevent terrorists from inflicting horrors like those of September 11, 2001.
The US Strategy; 2011-Present
In 2011 the Obama administration modified the Bush administration’s Strategy by developing The National Strategy for Counterterrorism.
Our Overarching Goals
The United States aims to achieve eight overarching CT goals. Taken together, these desired end states articulate a framework for the success of the United States global counterterrorism mission.
– Protect the American People, Homeland, and American Interests. The most solemn responsibility of the President and the United States Government is to protect the American people, both at home and abroad. This includes eliminating threats to their physical safety, countering threats to global peace and security, and promoting and protecting U.S. interests around the globe.
– Disrupt, Degrade, Dismantle, and Defeat al-Qa‘ida and Its Affiliates and Adherents. The American people and interests will not be secure from attacks until this threat is eliminated—its primary individuals and groups rendered powerless, and its message relegated to irrelevance.
– Prevent Terrorist Development, Acquisition, and Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The danger of nuclear terrorism is the greatest threat to global security. Terrorist organizations, including al-Qa‘ida, have engaged in efforts to develop and acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—and if successful, they are likely to use them.
– Eliminate Safehavens. Al-Qa‘ida and its affiliates and adherents rely on the physical sanctuary of ungoverned or poorly governed territories, where the absence of state control permits terrorists to travel, train, and engage in plotting. In close coordination with foreign partners, the United States will continue to contest and diminish al-Qa‘ida’s operating space through mutually reinforcing efforts designed to prevent al-Qa‘ida from taking advantage of these ungoverned spaces.
– Build Enduring Counterterrorism Partnerships and Capabilities. Foreign partners are essential to the success of our CT efforts; these states are often themselves the target of—and on the front lines in countering—terrorist threats. The United States will continue to rely on and leverage the capabilities of its foreign partners even as it looks to contribute to their capacity and bolster their will. To achieve our objectives, partners must demonstrate the willingness and ability to operate independently, augmenting and complementing U.S. CT efforts with their unique insights and capabilities in their countries and regions.
– Degrade Links between al-Qa‘ida and its Affiliates and Adherents. Al-Qa‘ida senior leaders in Pakistan continue to leverage local and regional affiliates and adherents worldwide through formal and informal alliances to advance their global agenda. Al-Qa‘ida exploits local grievances to bolster recruitment, expand its operational reach, destabilize local governments, and reinforce safehavens from which it and potentially other terrorist groups can operate and attack the United States.
– Counter al-Qa‘ida Ideology and Its Resonance and Diminish the Specific Drivers of Violence that al-Qa‘ida Exploits. This Strategy prioritizes U.S. and partner efforts to undercut al-Qa‘ida’s fabricated legitimization of violence and its efforts to spread its ideology. As we have seen in the Middle East and North Africa, al-Qa‘ida’s calls for perpetual violence to address longstanding grievances have met a devastating rebuke in the face of nonviolent mass movements that seek solutions through expanded individual rights. Along with the majority of people across all religious and cultural traditions, we aim for a world in which al-Qa‘ida is openly and widely rejected by all audiences as irrelevant to their aspirations and concerns, a world where al-Qa‘ida’s ideology does not shape perceptions of world and local events, inspire violence, or serve as a recruiting tool for the group or its adherents.
– Deprive Terrorists of their Enabling Means. Al-Qa‘ida and its affiliates and adherents continue to derive significant financial support from donors in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere through kidnapping for ransom and from exploitation of or control over lucrative elements of the local economy.
Many things are very wrong with our counter-terrorism strategy and have been wrong for a long time. Neither the Bush nor Obama Administrations have had a successful strategy. The Obama Administration’s strategy, although lengthy, sounds like a global community organizer’s touchy-feely plan to build a better community rather than a strategy to combat an enemy and keep American citizens safe. One other huge problem with Obama’s plan is this statement in his strategy document (2011):
“The United States deliberately uses the word “war” to describe our relentless campaign against al-Qa‘ida. However, this Administration has made it clear that we are not at war with the tactic of terrorism or the religion of Islam. We are at war with a specific organization—al-Qa‘ida.”
When you read the Obama strategy, you’ll notice that he and his administration are really only interested in making al-Qa‘ida “irrelevant” and not defeating the true enemy. The Obama administration sees the “terrorists” as criminals and not combatants.
Neither the Bush or the Obama administration has made good on its strategy to secure the homeland or take the fight abroad. Our political and military decision makers have failed the American people. The reality is that we’re not safer today than we were just after 911. Why is that?
1. We do not have a strategy that clearly defines who our nation’s enemies are and what our end state is.
2. We fail to truly understand the ideology and culture of who we are fighting.
3. We have a terrible information campaign at home and abroad.
4. We have never mobilized our nation (its people or industrial complex) to deal with the threat.
5. We have not sealed our borders or made it harder for potential enemies to enter.
6. We haven’t figured out yet that we have no Muslim Allies. Some of our so called “allies” are actually subverting us and we are continuing to allow them to do so.
The reality is that we are not fighting a war on terror, but a Global Islamic Insurgency. This insurgency crosses borders because of a common Islamic ideology and theology that is outlined in the Quran and Hadith. Depending on the area of the world, this insurgency can be in any of the three phases outlined in the U.S. Army Counterguerrilla Handbook:
PHASE I: Latent and Incipient Insurgency. Activity in this phase ranges from subversive activity, which is only a potential threat, to situations where frequent subversive incidents and activities occur in a pattern. It involves no major outbreak of violence or uncontrolled insurgent activity. The insurgent force does not conduct continuous operations but rather selected acts of terrorism. An insurgency could achieve victory during this phase.
PHASE II: Guerrilla Warfare. This phase is reached when the insurgent movement, having gained enough local external support, initiates organized continuous guerrilla warfare or related forms of violence against a government. This is an attempt to force government forces into a defensive role. As the insurgent becomes stronger, he begins to conduct larger operations.
PHASE III: War of Movement. When the insurgent attains the force structure and ability to directly engage government forces in decisive combat, he begins to use more conventional tactics.
The fact that everyone will not admit that this is a Global Islamic Insurgency that crosses all borders is problematic. It’s problematic because Western nations really don’t know how to deal with it because they want to be politically correct. The reality is we have no time to be politically correct and we need to make the Islamic world accountable for their own actions or lack of actions.
The United States has screwed around long enough during the last 14 years. The world is more dangerous now because our decision makers continue to make poor decisions. Can this be turned around? Sure, but it will take a major shift in policy and the U.S. population needs to understand that this is about survival. Their very way of life, socially and economically, is being threatened in more ways than one because they choose to be uninformed. Our strategy for far too long has been focused on a defensive strategy rather than an offensive strategy. When we have a president and administration who believes that climate change is the cause of terrorism, we have some real problems. Our people can no longer be naive about the world or be complacent about their own security here at home.
If we are tired of war or unprepared as a nation to take this war to our enemies then we need to retreat home to the security of our self-declared “Safe Space”, continue our poor existence with blinders on and take what’s coming to us. If we feel that this war is necessary for us to fight, then we need to get off our high horse and be prepared to get bloody because that is what it’s going to take to change their ideology. Forget about nation building; that’s gotten us nowhere and has never worked until we brought a society to its knees and they capitulated. We will not get the Islamic world to change their thought process by passing out money or building McDonald’s and KFC chains in their communities. However, bringing death and destruction quickly and violently to bring their culture to its knees has worked all throughout history. Some poor Islamic nation is going to have to be the example of that kind of horror that sends a message throughout the Islamic world that enough is enough. They need to fully understand that with every transgression there will be horrific consequences. When the rest of the Islamic world asks “Why?”, we need to be prepared to explain to them that “this was Allah’s will” and that they and their people had committed great sins for if not then why did their people reap such a punishment.
John Hurth is a former Special Forces soldier who served multiple overseas tours in support of the Global War on Terror. He’s now the chief instructor at Tyr Group, which provides training to members of the military as well as civilians, and the author of the Combat Tracking Guide.
Stratfor's take on our strategy
Reply #154 on:
December 15, 2015, 08:32:12 AM »
Why the U.S. Cannot Leave the Middle East
December 15, 2015 | 10:09 GMT Print
U.S. Army personnel mentor Iraqi troops undergoing training at a military base in Taji, Iraq, April 15. (JOHN MOORE/Getty Images)
Political and social turbulence in the Middle East will continue to foster the rise of terrorist groups, some of which will have the motivation and capability to attack U.S. interests.
As the United States looks to address these threats, it will attempt to find a strategy that is both effective and capable of being sustained for long periods.
To this end, the United States will continue to provide training, intelligence and logistics support to local actors fighting against terrorist groups.
To supplement these efforts, however, the United States will have to steadily increase direct ground combat personnel — relying heavily on special operations forces.
The Middle East's traditional power structures are crumbling. This has paved the way for new groups and threats to rise from the ruins. The United States, as a result, will be forced to reconsider its strategy in the region. Just as al Qaeda's setbacks enabled the Islamic State to flourish, so, too, will other terrorist groups move to fill the void created by the Islamic State's eventual decline. Terrorism will pose a threat to U.S. national security for the foreseeable future, and policymakers in Washington have no choice but to pursue more sustainable ways to counter it. The United States will ultimately shift its tactics in the region, striking a careful balance between empowering local security forces and selectively deploying specially trained and equipped forces in its attempt to tip the balance in the War on Terror.
Rebuilding a Region
The Middle East has been shaped by the wars, colonialism and post-Cold War fragmentation of the last century into a collection of states governed by militaries and monarchies. Yet, over the past decade a wave of foreign interventions and domestic social uprisings has torn many of these political structures away. At the same time, powerful third parties such as the United States have withdrawn from their alliances in the region, undermining the balance of power that their presence often ensured between the Middle East's major state and non-state actors.
Amid these dramatic upheavals, regional concentrations of power are emerging in Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council. But the swathes of land between them remain mired in chaos as the societies left behind grapple with the ethnic and sectarian divisions that underlie the region. Nowhere is this more evident than in Iraq and Syria.
As the Middle East continues to break itself apart — reassembling the pieces may take decades — militant groups will take advantage of the resulting power vacuum to grow and proliferate. And as they increasingly engage with the stronger, more coherent military forces stationed throughout the region, they will use asymmetric tactics like terrorism to level the playing field and extend their reach.
The Global War on Terrorism
The United States did not begin to truly understand the threat that terrorism posed to its homeland until Sept. 11, 2001. In the wake of the attacks, U.S. leaders realized that with the right intent and capability, terrorist groups could successfully target and kill large numbers of American citizens on U.S. soil. To prevent an attack on the scale of 9/11 from happening again, former U.S. President George W. Bush launched a widespread offensive against terrorist groups around the world that he dubbed the Global War on Terrorism.
This name is something of a misnomer. The United States does not, and cannot, attack every terrorist group in the world. It simply does not have the will or the resources to do so. Furthermore, terrorism is a tactic, which by its nature cannot be eradicated. Instead, Washington chose to target transnational groups (and their support networks) that have demonstrated the intent and capability to attack the interests of the United States or its allies through asymmetric means.
This strategy is not tied to any single group, although one organization may pose a greater and more urgent threat than others at certain times. For example, at its inception the strategy largely centered on finding and dismantling the al Qaeda core, held responsible for coordinating the 9/11 attacks. Now that this goal has been largely achieved, the United State's focus has shifted to the Islamic State, where it will likely remain for the next few years as the U.S.-led coalition works to degrade the jihadist group's capabilities.
But even if the United States can marginalize the Islamic State, the underlying elements that enabled the group's rise will not disappear as quickly. As conflicts throughout the Middle East continue to play out, other groups will surface with similar capabilities and intentions. These groups will not necessarily all be Sunni or even religious in nature, like al Qaeda and the Islamic State are. For example, the Marxist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front has already attacked U.S. targets in Turkey, as have Shiite militias in Iraq.
In the face of such threats to come, it is hard to ignore the suggestion that Washington simply abandon the region. But the Middle East is a strategic supplier of oil to the global market, and the critical link connecting Africa, Asia and Europe. Leaving it to its fate is not an option. Then again, neither is more of the same.
Invasion vs. Desertion
It is increasingly clear that the United States' approach to eradicating al Qaeda — launching full-fledged invasions, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq — is not sustainable in the long run. The goal of each ground incursion was to strike the jihadist group within its own safe-havens. While both invasions were successful in some ways, they also failed to decisively eliminate the threat. In Afghanistan, al Qaeda fighters were able to escape across unguarded borders and fade into the difficult surrounding terrain to avoid capture. From there, they adopted a blend of guerrilla tactics and terrorism to wage a protracted war against foreign troops.
In Iraq, remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime were able to quickly reorganize into a capable insurgency, while local Shiite militias took advantage of Hussein's destruction to launch attacks of their own. In both cases, U.S. leaders quickly, if begrudgingly, realized that a prolonged force presence would be needed to suppress new threats. While this provided some level of stability to each country, it solved neither Baghdad nor Kabul's problems entirely. Large numbers of "occupying" troops became the catalyst for increased recruitment into these militant groups, further exacerbating the problem.
Unable to fully destroy its enemies and caught in the middle of a bloody sectarian war, the United States began to look for an exit strategy. Neither it nor its allies could afford to continue deploying huge portions of their militaries to wage wars with no end. By overcommitting in the Middle East, the United States had essentially hamstrung its military capabilities elsewhere in the world.
At the same time, political pressure was building to draw operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to a close. In the midst of a sharp recession, U.S. policymakers were being forced to choose between making deep budget cuts and taking on greater debt to fund conflicts overseas. Meanwhile, the body count steadily rose, and the American public became less and less willing to sacrifice its soldiers to an intangible cause.
And so, U.S. counterterrorism strategy changed. The new goal was to withdraw all forces belonging to the United States and its allies and replace them with assistance from afar. Financial aid, intelligence sharing and logistical support became the West's primary tools of influence. Yet this approach is also failing. Security in Afghanistan degraded alongside the United States' eventual drawdown to a small but sustainable footprint. And in Iraq, once all foreign personnel had departed, the absence of capable Western forces and the outbreak of civil war in neighboring Syria enabled al Qaeda in Iraq to transform: First into the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and then into the Islamic State.
Finding the Perfect Balance
In light of these developments, the United States has had to adjust its approach once again. Washington and its allies have already halted further troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, expanding their mission timelines and in some cases reversing the decision to further reduce the military footprint on the ground. Meanwhile, the United States has redeployed forces to the Iraq theater — and beyond — in an effort to stabilize the region following the Islamic State's rapid spread. More recently, Washington pushed a small contingent of U.S. special operations forces into Syria after efforts to train a local proxy force repeatedly failed.
Still, Washington continues to search for the perfect balance between wide-scale invasion and complete disengagement. So far, the attempt to partially re-engage in Iraq and Syria with tangential combat support has either achieved limited success or failed outright. Western-backed forces have regained some territory in Iraq over the past year, but what gains have been made are gradual and costly. On a positive note, though, the strategy of limited engagement is far more sustainable than either of its predecessors.
As the United States settles in for a lengthy battle against the terrorists that wish to attack it, it will continue looking for ways to effectively combat its enemies without outstripping or overcommitting its resources. What we are seeing is a slow tipping of the scales as small portions of direct combat power are added to supplement the combat support of local forces already in place. It is military satisficing.
Ultimately, this hybridized force structure will allow for a combination indirect and direct support across a large portion of the region. On the one hand, Washington will support its local allies with training, intelligence, logistics support and airpower; on the other, it will use small portions of units and special operations forces to shift the tempo of battle in its allies' favor. This will require SOF to work in concert with other small ground units that can conduct raids, manage the fight, and coordinate a variety of fires including precision guided munitions, artillery, and close-air support. This strategy will inevitably lead to a yearslong commitment — just to address the Islamic State.
While this approach will eventually degrade the Islamic State, the Middle East as a whole will continue to be riven in different directions as new power structures and alliances emerge and gel. This will only incubate more militant groups with a continued goal to challenge the United States and its interest in the region. This in turn will force Washington to stay engaged in the Middle East as military planners shift to the next threat, be it similar to before or entirely different. To bring about an acceptable level of stability — or instability, from the U.S. point of view — will require the commitment of tens of thousands of personnel on the ground and in the skies above the region, for many years to come.
Reply #155 on:
January 06, 2016, 10:40:03 AM »
I have long argued that our policy in Afpakia is incoherent, but IMHO this piece ignores that we had success in Iraq in hand and threw it all away. Nonetheless I post it as representing a point of view that, in the aftermath of having thrown Iraq away, is worth considering.
Where Does the Next President Even Begin to Fix the Effort Against Radical Islam?
Leon Wolf, over at Red State, with an argument I did not want to agree with . . . but found myself nodding anyway:
In spite of all the time, money, training, and equipment we have given the Afghan security forces in the last 14 years, they still find themselves outgunned, outmanned, and outwilled. The current fight within the Obama administration is whether Obama will slow play the withdrawal of the remaining 10,000 or so United States troops who are still in Afghanistan. The current plan is for roughly half the U.S. force to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2016, although some in the administration are pushing for a slower withdrawal.
It is pretty obvious at this point that unless we are willing to re-enter Afghanistan with a full-scale invasion force (spoiler: we aren’t), then the exact speed at which the remaining 10,000 U.S. troops withdraw isn’t going to make a lick of difference in the end. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth the life of another single United States soldier, or another single United States taxpayer dollar, for us to continue to be involved in the dispute over which brand of Islamic hellhole Afghanistan will end up being. Given the national course that we have clearly chosen, it’s time for us to get the last of our forces out sooner, rather than later.
That is not to say that our involvement in Afghanistan (or, for that matter, Iraq) has been for nothing. On the contrary, they have taught us valuable lessons about the fight against radical Islam going forward -- and while the price for those lessons has been higher than it should have been, it is probably true that our innate stubbornness as a country would not have allowed us to learn these lessons for less.
Namely, I hope that we have learned that we have abused the entire purpose of the United States military over the course of the last 14 years by asking them to essentially act as armed civil engineers for the Great Society, Middle East division. The military is highly trained and more efficient than ever at killing people and breaking things. It is absurd, however, that we asked them to basically turn Iraq and Afghanistan into from third world cesspools into first world countries while also fighting an insurgency.
The way we have conducted the aftermath of these wars has been so backwards from a historical perspective that it is difficult to know even where to begin. I am at a loss for any other example in history where the winner of a military campaign almost bankrupted their own country trying to improve conditions in the vanquished territory. When all of Europe banded together to rout Napoleon’s army in retribution for the damage he had wreaked across the continent, they did not leave their artillery gunners behind to rebuild French farms. Instead, they stayed long enough for their guns to enforce a surrender, the exile of Napoleon himself, and an agreement for France to pay reparations to them. A contingent of troops stayed behind for the express purpose of making sure the agreed-upon reparations were paid and that Napoleon was not allowed to return to power. Having done this, they departed for home, with the understanding that violating the terms of the peace treaty would bring those same armies back to France to destroy it again.
This is how warfare is supposed to work, and we forgot it at our own peril. This is how it worked when Bismarck laid seige to Paris in 1870 and nearly wiped out the city. That’s how it worked at Versailles. Military occupations -- when used effectively -- serve the purpose of enforcing the earned terms of victory and should end when those have been achieved. They should not, for instance, be used to construct $43 million gas stations for the alleged benefit of the conquered territory.
America is no longer in the nation-building business, if it ever was. Wars in the coming years -- and there will be war; the only question is how thoroughly we fight them in response to attacks on us -- are going to be more brutal. As Wolf notes, the notion of rebuilding a defeated foe came out of World War II, after the world concluded that the treaties ending World War I set up the tensions for the next war.
When Dick Cheney argued against Trump’s ban-all-Muslims proposals, no one plausibly argued that Cheney is a naïve kumbaya softie who doesn’t take terrorism or Islamist ideology seriously. Recall the saying “Only Nixon could go to China” – only someone with indisputable credentials supporting a particular interest can persuade that interest to make a compromise.
When Barack “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” Obama or Hillary “terrorism has nothing to do with Islam” Clinton criticize the Trump proposals, no one is persuaded. Most people conclude, with justification, that Obama and Clinton are feckless and unwilling to try any idea that might be deemed controversial, insensitive, or excessive.
America needs leaders who are indisputably tough, clear-eyed and blunt about the threats that we face. That way, when a really bad idea that sounds tough comes along, they can reject that idea with authority.
ISIS is not the problem
Reply #156 on:
January 19, 2016, 04:03:56 PM »
Edicts ISIS Imposes
Reply #157 on:
January 24, 2016, 04:40:45 PM »
Noonan: Unite to defeat radical jihadism
Reply #158 on:
March 28, 2016, 02:34:10 PM »
Unite to Defeat Radical Jihadism
It will require Western elites to form an alliance with the citizens they’ve long disrespected.
Peggy Noonan · Mar. 26, 2016
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These things are obvious after the Brussels bombings:
In striking at the political heart of Europe, home of the European Union, the ISIS jihadists were delivering a message: They will not be stopped.
What we are seeing now is not radical jihadist Islam versus the West but, increasingly, radical jihadist Islam versus the world. They are on the move in Africa, parts of Asia and of course throughout the Mideast.
Radical jihadism is not going to go away, not for a long time, probably decades. For 15 years it has in significant ways shaped our lives, and it will shape our children’s too. They will have to win the war.
It will not be effectively fought with guilt, ambivalence or double-mindedness. That, in the West, will have to change.
The jihadists' weapons and means will get worse. Right now it’s guns and suicide vests. In the nature of things their future weapons will be more sophisticated and deadly.
The usual glib talk of politicians — calls for unity, vows that we will not give in to fear — will produce in the future what they’ve produced in the past: nothing. “The thoughts and the prayers of the American people are with the people of Belgium,” said the president, vigorously refusing to dodge clichés. “We must unite and be together, regardless of nationality, race or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.” It is not an “existential threat,” he noted, as he does. But if you were at San Bernardino or Fort Hood, the Paris concert hall or the Brussels subway, it would feel pretty existential to you.
There are many books, magazine long-reads and online symposia on the subject of violent Islam. I have written of my admiration for “What ISIS Really Wants” by Graeme Wood, published a year ago in the Atlantic. ISIS supporters have tried hard to make their project knowable and understood, Mr. Wood reported: “We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change … and that it considers itself a harbinger of — and headline player in — the imminent end of the world.” ISIS is essentially “medieval” in its religious nature, and “committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people.” They intend to eliminate the infidel and raise up the caliphate — one like the Ottoman empire, which peaked in the 16th century and then began its decline.
When I think of the future I find myself going back to what I freely admit is a child’s math, a simple 10% rule.
There are said to be 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Most are and have been peaceful and peaceable, living their lives and, especially in America, taking an admirable role in the life of the nation.
But this is a tense, fraught moment within the world of Islam, marked by disagreements on what Islam is and what its texts mean. With that context, the child’s math: Let’s say only 10% of the 1.6 billion harbor feelings of grievance toward “the West,” or desire to expunge the infidel, or hope to re-establish the caliphate. That 10% is 160 million people. Let’s say of that group only 10% would be inclined toward jihad. That’s 16 million. Assume that of that group only 10% really means it — would really become jihadis or give them aid and sustenance. That’s 1.6 million. That is a lot of ferociousness in an age of increasingly available weapons, including the chemical, biological and nuclear sort.
My math tells me it will be a long, hard fight. We will not be able to contain them, we will have to beat them.
We must absorb that central fact, as Ronald Reagan once did with a different threat. Asked by his new national security adviser to state his exact strategic goals vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, Reagan: “We win, they lose.”
That’s where we are now. The “they” is radical Islamic jihadism.
Normal people have seen that a long time, but the leaders of the West — its political class, media powers and opinion shapers — have had a hard time coming to terms. I continue to believe part of the reason is that religion isn’t very important to many of them, so they have trouble taking it seriously as a motivation of others. An ardent Catholic, evangelical Christian or devout Jew would be able to take the religious aspect seriously when discussing ISIS. An essentially agnostic U.S. or European political class is less able. Thus they cast about — if only we give young Islamist men jobs programs or social integration schemes, we can stop this trouble. But jihadists don’t want to be integrated. They want trouble.
Our own president still won’t call radical Islam what it is, thinking apparently that if we name them clearly they’ll only hate us more, and Americans on the ground, being racist ignoramuses, will be incited by candor to attack their peaceful Muslim neighbors.
All this for days has had me thinking of Gordon Brown, which is something I bet you can’t say. On April 28, 2010, in Rochdale, England, Britain’s then prime minister accidentally performed a great public service by revealing what liberal Western leaders think of their people.
At a campaign stop a 65-year-old woman named Gillian Duffy approached him and shared her concerns regarding crime, taxes and immigration. Mr. Brown made a great show of friendliness and appreciation. Then, still wearing a live mic, he got into his Jaguar, complained to his aides about “that woman” and said, “She’s just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be Labour.”
That was the authentic sound of the Western elite. Labour lost the election. But the elites have for a long time enjoyed nothing more than sneering at the anger and “racism” of their own people. They do not have the wisdom to understand that if they convincingly attempted to protect the people and respected their anxieties, the people would feel far less rage.
I end with a point about the sheer power of pride right now in Western public life. Republican operatives and elected officials in the U.S. don’t want to change their stand on illegal immigration, and a key reason is pride. They’re stiff-necked, convinced of their own higher moral thinking, and they will have open borders — which they do not call “open borders” but “comprehensive immigration reform,” which includes border-control mechanisms. But they’ll never get to the mechanisms. They see the rise of Donald Trump and know it has something to do with immigration, but — they can’t bow. Some months ago I spoke to an admirable conservative group and said the leaders of the GOP should change their stand. I saw one of their leaders wince, as if I had made a faux pas. Which, I understood, I had. I understood too that terrorism is only making the border issue worse, and something’s got to give.
But I doubt they can change. It would be like … respecting Gillian Duffy.
Though maybe European leaders can grow to respect her, after Brussels. Maybe the blasts there have shaken their pride.
It is the network stupid
Reply #159 on:
March 29, 2016, 11:55:15 AM »
By Niall Ferguson March 28, 2016
The word of the week has been “network.” I have lost track of the number of times I have read that a terrorist network carried out last Tuesday’s lethal attacks in Brussels. The same is now being said about Sunday’s massacre in Lahore. Terrorists used to belong to “groups” and “organizations.” Increasingly, however, we say they belong to networks.
This is more than a matter of semantics. We stand no chance of defeating the Islamic State if we fail to understand the significance of its being a true network. President Barack Obama declared recently that “killing the so-called caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is one of the top goals” of the final year of his presidency.
The president is so proud of his achievement in authorizing the assassination of Osama bin Laden that he thinks he can decapitate ISIS by the same means. But the point about a network is that you cannot easily decapitate it. It is not a hierarchical structure, with an all-powerful leader at the top.
Media depictions of the terrorist network responsible for the Brussels attack typically show around six people. But this, too, misrepresents the problem, because these people were part of a much larger network.
The fact of the matter if that most of people who use the term “network” have no idea what it really means. So let’s begin with the six degrees of separation. You don’t know Khalid el-Bakraoui, one of the Brussels bombers. But you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows him. That is because of the remarkable way that we as a species are socially connected. Each of us is no more than six degrees of separation away from everyone else on the planet. The sociologist Stanley Milgram called this “the small-world problem.”
In some ways, of course, it is not a problem at all. Our ability to connect over long distances is the reason that good ideas spread. The trouble is that networks are just as good at spreading bad ideas as good ones.
Although people speak of ideas “going viral,” there is in fact a difference between, say, Ebola and Islamic extremism. Viruses spread indiscriminately, seizing every available pathway. Ideas spread only when we as individuals consciously embrace them. Still, that process can seem like an epidemic, depending as much on the structure of the social network as on the quality of the idea itself.
Think of ISIS as the Facebook of Islamic extremism. When it started out in 2004, Facebook was just a bunch of nerdy Harvard undergraduates. Today it has more than 1.5 billion users. When ISIS started out in 2006, it was just a bunch of Iraqi jihadists. Today, according to data from the Pew Research Center, ISIS has a minimum of 63 million supporters — and that is based on opinion polls in just 11 countries.
Only a very small minority of members of the ISIS network need to carry out acts of violence to kill a very large number of people indeed. Naively, the US government talks about “countering violent extremism.” But what makes the network so deadly is precisely the non-violent extremism of the majority of its members. Some preach jihad: they are the hubs around which clusters of support form. Some tweet jihad, with each tweet acting as a link to multiple others nodes. Non-violently, the network grows.
True, some networks are vulnerable to targeted attacks on key hubs: that is true of the world wide web, for example, or the power grids in some countries. But if the network is sufficiently decentralized — and I suspect this one is — then even a hundred drone strikes against its supposed leaders would not destroy it. Indeed, they might even strengthen it by reinforcing the martyrdom mania that is central to its ideology. ISIS may turn out to be “anti-fragile” (in Nassim Taleb’s invaluable term): our attacks could make it stronger.
This poses a terrifying problem for all governments, as the ISIS network, though densest in the Middle East, is now global. Yet there is a solution. During the decisive phase of the surge in Iraq, as he battled to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq — the forerunner of ISIS — General Stanley McChrystal had an epiphany: “It takes a network to defeat a network.”
Consider Britain. Anyone who still thinks that it would help matters for Britain to leave the European Union has not been paying attention. Underfunded and overstretched it may be, but Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, is at least the beginning of the network Europeans need to build if they are to stand any chance of beating ISIS.
Just as McChrystal broke down the silo walls of American military bureaucracy, turning Joint Special Operations Command into a war-winning force, so today the West’s intelligence and security forces need to get networked as never before.
It takes a network to defeat a network. Those eight words — McChrystal’s Law — are the true lesson of Brussels and Lahore.
Niall Ferguson is professor of history at Harvard and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford.
Despite our cranial rectal interface things are getting worse
Reply #160 on:
April 01, 2016, 02:35:36 PM »
Re: Despite our cranial rectal interface things are getting worse
Reply #161 on:
April 01, 2016, 11:51:03 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on April 01, 2016, 02:35:36 PM
Hey, someone has to play golf and tango in Cuba.
Geller: Integration is not the answer
Reply #162 on:
April 04, 2016, 12:35:10 PM »
4th Generation Warfare; 4G War
Reply #163 on:
April 19, 2016, 12:31:00 PM »
An African friend who lives in the Middle East writes:
You require silent weapons to fight a quiet war.
For the last 500 years the West has defined warfare. It dominated through superior technological innovation. We excel at logistics and weapons technology. As part of our warfare doctrine, we attempt to bury our adversaries by these two means. The institutional response for overcoming our enemies when they do act is more and better sensors, more communications, more and better computers, more and better display devices, more satellites, more and better fusion centers etc. tied into giant Command and Control systems. This way of thinking emphasizes (more) hardware as the solution.
The psychological outcome for our warrior caste (and essentially our culture) is that we identify with the things we are skilled at. Our image of ourselves is hardware. But we're not facing a hardware problem.
Our enemies learned that they could not defeat us by direct force of arms and adapted. They changed how they fought, but they never stopped fighting us. People, not weapons, win wars.
"Times change, the world changes, and so too the martial arts must change." ~ Gichin Funakoshi
The enemies of Western civilisation have acted covertly. They identified and necessarily infiltrated the institutions that shape our values and perceptions, instituting a plan to gradually subvert them. They have largely succeeded. Western society is intellectually prolific and became the dominant world culture by means of superior ideas and philosophies; we produced superior mental tools to shape the world. Some of those tools have for the last 4 decades since their creation been used skillfully against us.
In 1989 a paper was written by and for the US military about the changing face of warfare, which accurately predicted the asymmetric battlefield situation we face today as a culture. While the methods and strategies employed by subversive groups are, at minimum hundreds of years old, the pinnacle of their understanding occurred in the 1970s as part of the brilliant work by an American thinker who was attempting to analyse their reasons for success and how to defeat them with counter-strategies. Which leads me to counter-terror studies today.
The Terrorism/Counter-Terror course that I'm taking has consistently demonstrated that the academics who study these phenomenon and the public/government institutions tasked with dealing with the issue have lovely offices and can afford nice suits. I infer from this that they all wear slip-on shoes as I think tying shoelaces might pose a challenge for them.
Counter-terror studies produces useful insights, however it is insufficient. Notice that we're losing, so this knowledge can't be that effective. But part of the problem is that we aren't facing only terrorism, we are dealing with what is presently low intensity guerrilla conflict. Otherwise known as Fourth Generation Warfare.
A quote from the 1989 paper I mentioned above: "A fourth generation may emerge from non-Western cultural traditions, such as Islamic or Asiatic traditions. The fact that some non-Western areas, such as the Islamic world, are not strong in technology may lead them to develop a fourth generation through ideas rather than technology.
The genesis of an idea-based fourth generation may be visible in terrorism. This is not to say that terrorism is fourth generation warfare, but rather that elements of it may be signs pointing toward a fourth generation."
Fourth Generation Warfare is a goal of collapsing the enemy internally rather than physically destroying him. Targets will include such things as the population's support for the war AND THE ENEMY'S CULTURE. Correct identification of enemy strategic centers of gravity will be highly important. (emphasis mine)
A population's support for the war is a morale and moral issue. You pump the morale of the population in your favour by presenting a moral argument that justifies your actions while demonising the enemy, and you sap the morale of the enemy population in your favour by presenting them as immoral even to themselves. It is a great deal more involved, but this will suffice.
A house divided cannot stand.
It's easier to defeat a people when they destroy themselves first.
Western culture (Europe and America) evolved out of philosophy, morality and scientific reasoning uniquely derived from Christian principles and thought. Effectively, Judeo-Christian morality, which shaped our thought, which shaped our actions. This would partially underlie what is termed our 'orientation'. Religion has social, cultural and political consequences, and should the foundation of shared values in Western civilisation crumble the rest of the building is unlikely to remain intact.
A society remains cohesive and responsive, or 'oriented', by means of shared values. Disrupt those values and confusion ensues.
At a fundamental level you weaponise Morality, turning it into a tool of (self) destruction. Through subversion you distort the frame of reference that binds a society, and then operate inside of their subsequent confusion and indecision. When any culture loses its core values, chaos ensues.
Historians have documented this across history, however the scientific underpinnings to weaponise this were developed decades ago. The findings are sound, hence the results of successful execution are predictable and the outcomes can be tangibly felt today. Infiltrate, undermine, disrupt, destroy. This is Fourth Generation Warfare. It happens in the battefield of the mind and spirit.
A culture that loses its heritage, that gives up cultural traditions, that fails to learn from previous experiences will no longer possess an implicit repertoire of psychophysical skills shaped by its environment and changes that have been previously experienced. Without analyses and synthesis across a variety of domains or across a variety of independent channels of information, we cannot evolve new repertoires to deal with unfamiliar phenomena or unforeseen change.
In fact, we then cannot even do analysis and synthesis. We cannot look into the minds of others, we cannot correctly interpret broader actions around us. It's a society-wide form of mental paralysis.
Without the ability to judge based on common values, to observe and interpret, to make decisions that conform to core values due to social division and subversion of those values, we can neither sense, hence observe, thereby collect a variety of information for the above processes, nor decide as well as implement actions in accord with these processes.
We lose the ability to predict and interpret, and thus respond to events unfolding around us on a macro-social scale.
Warfare has changed, the battlefield is no longer tanks and troops. We're being attacked with sophisticated, but Western developed, psychological, moral and social methods for understanding guerrilla warfare that have been turned against us. The counter-strategies exist. I suggest we learn them and use them.
You may want to do a bit more reading. Buy a few books before you buy the new Stabinator 4000 High Speed, Low Drag Meteor Steel Carbon Fibre Low Visibility Force Multiplying Stealth Anti-Personnel Tactical Knife at the special price of $399.
The study of terrorism, counter-terror and Fourth Generation Warfare is multidisciplinary. For many of the conclusions presented here I give credit to Colonel John Boyd (deceased) of the United States Air Force, I reference or quote his work extensively. The difficulty was determining what to exclude or include of the sheer volume of information available. In simplifying to condense the volume of information there is always risk of losing fidelity.
I recommend reading what has so ably been said in the following article:
Reply #164 on:
May 15, 2016, 07:02:25 PM »
Re: Narrative Space
Reply #165 on:
May 15, 2016, 07:42:46 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on May 15, 2016, 07:02:25 PM
Keep in mind that this administration is using these same techniques against us.
Reply #166 on:
May 20, 2016, 11:56:56 PM »
Trump's Islam Narrative is Reality
Reply #167 on:
June 06, 2016, 01:28:08 PM »
Trump’s Islam Narrative is Just Reality
Islam really does hate us.
June 6, 2016
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
Former NSA head Michael Hayden recently joined a chorus of Trump’s critics blasting him for offending Muslims. “The jihadist narrative is that there is undying enmity between Islam and the modern world, so when Trump says they all hate us, he’s using their narrative," he said.
That’s true. It’s also meaningless because in this case the narrative is reality.
Jihadists do hate us. Islam has viewed the rest of the world with undying enmity for over a thousand years. Some might quibble over whether a 7th century obsession really counts as “undying”, but it’s a whole lot older than Hayden, the United States of America, our entire language and much of our civilization.
Islam divides the world into the Dar Al-Islam and the Dar Al-Harb, the House of Islam and the House of War. This is not just the jihadist narrative, it is the Islamic narrative and we would be fools to ignore it.
The White House is extremely fond of narratives. The past month featured Ben Rhodes, Obama’s foreign policy guru, taking a victory lap for successfully pushing his “narrative” on the Iran deal. Rhodes takes pride in his narratives. His media allies love narratives. But none of the narratives change the fact that Iran is moving closer to getting a nuclear bomb. Narratives don’t change reality. They’re a delusion.
Narratives only work on the people you fool. They don’t remove the underlying danger. All they do is postpone the ultimate recognition of the problem with catastrophic results.
Islamic terrorism is a reality. Erase all the narratives and the fact of its existence remains.
Instead of fighting a war against the reality of Islamic terrorism, our leaders have chosen to fight a war against reality. They don’t have a plan for defeating Islamic terrorism, but for defeating reality.
So far they have fought reality to a draw. Ten thousand Americans are dead at the hands of Islamic terrorists and Muslim migration to America has doubled. Islamic terrorists are carving out their own countries and our leaders are focused on defeating their “narratives” on social media.
Hayden repeats the familiar nonsense that recognizing reality plays into the enemy narrative. And then the only way to defeat Islamic terrorism is by refusing to recognize its existence out of fear that we might play into its narrative. But Islamic terrorism doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it.
You don’t have to believe in a bomb or a bullet for it to kill you. A plane headed for your office building or a machete at your neck is not a narrative, it is reality. If we can’t tell the difference between reality and what we believe, then reality will kill us. And nothing we believe will change that.
We are not fighting a war of narratives with Islam. This is a war of bombs and bullets, planes crashing into buildings and blades digging into necks. And yet the men in charge of fighting this war remain obsessed with winning a battle of narratives inside the Muslim world. They have no plans for winning the war. Instead they are occupied with managing the intensity of the conflict, taking out the occasional terrorist leader, bombing only when a jihadist group like ISIS has become too powerful, while waiting for their moderate Muslim allies to win the war of narratives for them by discrediting the jihadists.
The narrative mistake is understandable. The left remains convinced that it can get its way through propaganda. Its record is certainly impressive. But it’s strictly a domestic record. Getting Americans to believe seven strictly irrational social justice things before breakfast is very different than convincing the members of a devout tribal society with a deep sense of history that they really don’t want to kill Americans. All that the narrative war accomplished was to show that the propagandists who convinced Americans to vote for their own exploitation have no idea how to even begin convincing Muslims to do anything. Think Again Turn Away was an embarrassment. Various outreach efforts failed miserably. American politicians devoutly apologize for any disrespect to Islam, but Muslims don’t care.
Hayden isn’t wrong that there is a narrative. But Nazism also had a narrative. Once the Nazis had power, they began acting on it and their narrative became a reality that had to be stopped by armed force. But at a deeper level he is wrong because he isn’t reciting the Islamic or even the jihadist narrative, but a deceptive narrative aimed at us in order to block recognition of the problem of Islamic terrorism.
The Islamic narrative isn’t just that we hate them. More importantly, it’s that they hate us. Muslim terrorists are not passively reacting to us. They carry a hatred that is far older than our country. That hatred is encoded in the holy books of Islam. But that hatred is only a means to an end.
Hatred is the means. Conquest is the end.
Assuming that Muslims are oppressed minorities is a profound intellectual error crippling our ability to defend ourselves. Islamic terrorism is not an anti-colonial movement, but a colonial one. ISIS and its Islamic ilk are not oppressed minorities, but oppressive majorities. Islamic terror does not react to us, as men like Hayden insist. Instead we react to Islam. And our obsession with playing into enemy narratives is a typically reactive response. Rising forces generate their own narratives. Politically defeated movements typically obsess about not making things worse by playing into the narratives that their enemies have spread about them. That is why Republicans panic over any accusation of racism. Or why the vanilla center of the pro-Israel movement winces every time Israel shoots a terrorist.
Western leaders claim to be fighting narratives, but they have no interest in actually challenging the Islamic narrative of superiority that is the root cause of this conflict. Instead they take great pains not to offend Muslims. This does not challenge the Islamic supremacist narrative, instead it affirms it.
Rather than challenging Islamic narratives, they are stuck in an Islamic narrative. They are trapped by the Muslim Brotherhood’s narrative of “Good Islamist” and “Bad Islamist” convinced that the only way to win is to appeal to the “Good Islamist” and team up with him to fight the “Bad Islamist”.
The “moderate” Muslim majority who are our only hope for stopping Islamic terrorism is an enemy narrative manufactured and distributed by an Islamic supremacist organization. When we repeat it, we distort our strategy and our thinking in ways that allow us to be manipulated and controlled.
It isn’t Trump who is playing into jihadist narratives, but Hayden and everyone who claims that recognizing Islamic terrorism plays into enemy narratives while failing to recognize that what they are saying is an enemy narrative.
The very notion that the good opinion of the enemy should constrain our military operations, our thinking and even our ability to recognize reality is an enemy narrative of unprecedented effect.
And this is the narrative that our leaders and the leaders of the world have knelt in submission to.
Narratives only have the power that we assign to them. No narrative is stronger than reality unless we believe in it. Not only have our leaders chosen to play into the enemy narrative, but they have accepted its premise as the only way to win. And so they are bound to lose until they break out of the narrative.
Re: Articulating our cause/strategy against Islamic Fascism
Reply #168 on:
June 14, 2016, 06:50:01 AM »
The cruelty in this world has no bounds. If only we gave this guy a decent job this would have been averted:
Re: Articulating our cause/strategy against Islamic Fascism
Reply #169 on:
June 15, 2016, 08:47:47 PM »
Why President Obama is Wrong
Originally published at the Washington Times
In the past few days, we have seen two horrific attacks on Western civilization. The first, in an Orlando nightclub, left 49 innocent people dead and dozens more injured. The second, in Paris, livestreamed the slaughter of a French policeman and his wife in their home, as their three-year-old son watched.
These terrible events raise many questions about how we should confront the threats we face. Among those questions, one is fundamental: how do we explain the atrocities?
An obvious response is that both were perpetrated by Islamic supremacists who were sincerely motivated by their ideology. For some reason, however, President Obama believes this basic fact isn’t important to say. On Tuesday, the President called the use of phrases like “radical Islamism” a “political distraction” and “a political talking point.”
“There’s no magic to the phrase ‘radical Islam’,” he said, addressing the Orlando massacre. “...What exactly would using this language accomplish? What exactly would it change?”
It was surreal to watch a commander-in-chief stand in front of the American people, just days after the most deadly terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, and explain why he did not think it was important to tell the truth about the individuals and the ideology responsible. It is difficult to imagine how the President could more clearly have demonstrated his willful dishonesty about the threats we face.
And he was not just dishonest--but flippantly so. None of the President’s advisors, he remarked, have ever told him, "’Man, if you use that phrase we can really turn this thing around.’ Not once.”
Even in the wake of monstrous terror, the President refuses to take the threat seriously--and he’s facetious about it in the process.
But to answer his question--what exactly would it accomplish to accurately describe our enemies? There is a simple response: it would give us a chance to win the war we are engaged in.
If we do not acknowledge that our enemies are Islamic supremacists, we cannot hope to address the fact that they are united by an ideology that is virulent, violent, and apparently seductive to millions of people.
And if we lie to ourselves about these facts--as President Obama did when he described the Orlando attacker in the language of mental illness (“an angry, disturbed, unstable young man”)--we are willfully blind about the scale of the potential threat. That scale, of course, is catastrophic beyond anything we have seen in American history.
These were not random acts of violence. They were motivated by a clear doctrine--a doctrine that calls for many more attacks, in more places, killing more people in even greater numbers and in ways that are very difficult to stop. This doctrine, which our president considers a distraction, in fact makes plain how serious, dangerous, and committed our enemies are.
If we ignore that doctrine and the ideology behind it, we don’t just completely fail to appreciate the danger. We also fail to develop the proper strategies to confront the threat, or to reassess our assumptions about existing policies. That is how we find ourselves believing silly things, like the idea that more gun control laws are the real solution to the terror problem. That, amazingly, is exactly what President Obama suggested on Tuesday.
“We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on weapons of war that let them kill dozens of innocents,” he said. “Enough talking about being tough on terrorism. Actually be tough on terrorism.”
Of course, the Orlando attack that prompted the President’s remarks echoed last year’s attack on a theater in Paris--a place with some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. The laws did not hinder that massacre. But if they had, the terrorists would certainly have used some other method to carry out their killings.
What has happened this week is terrible. The fear and the horror of the innocent people caught in the attacks is unimaginable. As we reflect on the victims and their families, we should remember that until we are serious in confronting this threat honestly, there will be more violence, and there is a real danger that it will be worse than we can imagine. President Obama on Tuesday may unintentionally have made the best case for candor about this fact. He said, “Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away.” Indeed, Mr. President, it does not.
USMA: The Road to Orlando-- serious read
Reply #170 on:
June 27, 2016, 08:55:36 PM »
Recommended by someone whom I respect greatly: Steve Coughlin
Reply #171 on:
at 12:44:26 PM »
Haven't had a chance to look into this yet, but it comes highly recommended by someone whom I respect greatly.
He runs this site:
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