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Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Topic: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why (Read 60866 times)
Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
October 15, 2006, 08:07:49 PM »
It's the Tribes, Stupid
? 2006 Steven Pressfield
Forget the Koran. Forget the ayatollahs and the imams. If we want to understand the enemy we're fighting in Iraq, the magic word is "tribe."
Islam is not our opponent in Baghdad or Fallouja. We delude ourselves if we believe the foe is a religion. The enemy is tribalism articulated in terms of religion.
For two years I've been researching a book about Alexander the Great's counter-guerrilla campaign in Afghanistan, 330-327 B.C. What struck me most powerfully is that that war is a dead ringer for the ones we're fighting today ? even though Alexander was pre-Christian and his enemies were pre-Islamic.
In other words, the clash of East and West is at bottom not about religion. It's about two different ways of being in the world. Those ways haven't changed in 2300 years. They are polar antagonists, incompatible and irreconcilable.
The West is modern and rational; its constituent unit is the nation. The East is ancient and visceral; its constituent unit is the tribe.
What is a tribe anyway?
The tribe is the most ancient form of social organization. It arose from the hunter-gatherer clans of pre-history. A tribe is small. It consists of personal, face-to-face relationships, often of blood. A tribe is cohesive. Its structure is hierarchical. It has a leader and a rigid set of norms and customs that defines each individual's role. Like a hunting band, the tribe knows who's the top dog and knows how to follow orders. What makes Islam so powerful in the world today is that its all-embracing discipline and order overlay the tribal mind-set so perfectly. Islam delivers the certainty and security that the tribe used to. It permits the tribal way to survive and thrive in a post-tribal and super-tribal world.
Am I knocking tribalism? Not at all. In many ways I think people are happier in a tribal universe. Consider the appeal of post-apocalyptic movies like The Road Warrior or The Day After Tomorrow. Modern life is tough. Who can fault us if now and then we entertain the idea of going back to the simple life?
The people we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan live that life 24/7/365 and they've been living it for the past ten thousand years. They like it. It's who they are. They're not going to change.
How do you combat a tribal enemy?
Step one is to recognize that that enemy is tribal. We in the West may flatter ourselves that democracy is taking root in Iraq when we see news footage of blue-ink thumbs and beaming faces emerging from polls. What's really happening has nothing to do with democracy. What's happening is the tribal chief has passed the word and everybody is voting exactly as he told them to.
What is the nature of the tribe? What can sociology tell us about its attributes?
The tribe respects power.
Saddam Hussein understood this. So did Tito, Stalin, Hitler. So will the next strong man who ultimately stabilizes Iraq.
The tribe must have a chief. It demands a leader. With a top dog, every underdog knows his place. He feels secure. He can provide security for this family. The tribe needs a Tony Soprano. It needs a Godfather.
The U.S. blew it in Iraq the first week after occupying Baghdad. Capt. Nate Fick of the Recon Marines tells the story of that brief interlude when U.S. forces were still respected, just before the looting started. Capt. Fick went in that interval to the local headman in his area of responsibility in Baghdad; he asked what he needed. The chief replied, "Clean water, electricity, and as many statues of George W. Bush as you can give us."
The tribe needs a boss. Alexander understood this. Unlike the U.S., the Macedonians knew how to conquer a country. When Alexander took Babylon in 333 B.C., he let the people know he was the man. They accepted this. They welcomed it. Life could go on.
When we Americans declared in essence to the Iraqis, "Here, folks, you're free now; set up your own government," they looked at us as if we were crazy. The tribal mind doesn't want freedom; it wants security. Order. It wants a New Boss. The Iraqis lost all respect for us then. They saw us as naive, as fools. They saw that we could be beaten.
The tribe is a warrior; its foundation is warrior pride.
The heart of every tribal male is that of a warrior. Even the most wretched youth in a Palestinian refugee camp sees himself as a knight of Islam. The Pathan code of nangwali prescribes three virtues ? nang, pride; badal, revenge; melmastia, hospitality. These guys are Apaches.
What the warrior craves before all else is respect. Respect from his own people, and, even more, from his enemy. When we of the West understand this, as Alexander did, we'll have taken the first step toward solving the unsolvable.
The tribe places no value on freedom.
The tribe is the most primitive form of social organization. In the conditions under which the tribe evolved, survival was everything. Cohesion meant the difference between starving and eating. The tribe enforces conformity by every means possible ? wives, mothers, and daughters add the whip hand to keep the warriors in line. Freedom is a luxury the tribe can't afford. The tribesman's priority is respect within the tribe, to belong, to be judged a man.
You can't sell "freedom" to tribesmen any more than you can sell "democracy." He doesn't want it. It violates his code. It threatens everything he stands for.
The tribe is bound to the land.
I just read an article about Ariel Sharon (a tribal leader if there ever was one.) The interviewer was describing how, as Sharon crossed a certain stretch of Israeli real estate, he pointed out with great emotion the hills where the Biblical character Abigail lived out her story. In other words, to the tribesman the land isn't for sale; it's been rendered sacred by the sagas of ancestors. The tribe will paint the stones red with its own blood before letting itself be evicted from the land.
The tribe cannot be negotiated with.
Tribes deal in absolutes. Their standards of honor cannot be compromised. Crush the tribe in one century, it will rise again a thousand years from now. We're seeing this now in a Middle East where the Crusades happened yesterday. When the tribe negotiates, it is always a sham ? a stalling tactic meant to mitigate temporary weakness. Do we believe Iran is really "coming to the table?" As soon as the tribe regains power, it will abrogate every treaty and every pact.
The tribe has no honor except within its own sphere, deriving justice for its own people. Its code is Us versus Them. The outsider is a gentile, an infidel, a devil.
These are just a few of the characteristics of the tribal mind. Now: what to do about this?
How to deal with the tribal mind.
You can't make deals with a tribal foe; they won't be honored. You can't buy them; they'll take your money and despise you. The tribe can't be reasoned with. Its mind is not rational, it's instinctive. The tribe is not modern but primitive. The tribe thinks from the stem of its brain, not the cortex. Its code is of warrior pride, not of Enlightenment reason.
To deal successfully with the tribe, a negotiator of the West must first grant it its pride and honor. The tribe's males must be addressed as warriors; its women must be treated with respect. The tribe must be left to its own land, to govern as it deems best.
If you want to get out of a tribal war, you must find a scenario by which the tribe can declare itself victorious. The tribal mind is canny; it knows when it's whipped. But its warrior pride is so fierce, it cannot admit this. The tribe has to be allowed its face.
How Alexander got out of a quagmire.
It took Alexander three years, but he finally got a handle on the tribal mind. (Perhaps because so many of his own Macedonians were basically tribal.) Alexander produced peace by marrying the daughter of his most powerful enemy, the princess Roxane. The tribe understands such an act. This is respect. This is honor.
Alexander made the tribesmen his equals. He acknowledged their warrior honor. When he and his army marched out to their next conquest, Alexander took the bravest of his former enemies with him as his Companions. They rode at his side in stations of honor; they dined at his shoulder in the royal pavilion. (Of course he also beat the living hell out of the Afghans for three years prior, and when he took off he left a fifth of his army to garrison the place.)
The outlook for the U.S. in Iraq
In the end, unless we're ready to treat them they way we did Geronimo, the tribe is unbeatable. They're just too crazy. They're not like us. Tolerance and open-mindedness are not virtues to them; they're signs of weakness. The tribe is too rigid to bend, and it can't be negotiated with.
Perhaps in the end, our leaders, like Alexander, will figure some way to bring the tribal foe around. More likely in my opinion, they'll arrive at the same conclusion as did Lord Roberts, the legendary British general. Lord Roberts fought (and defeated militarily) tribesmen in two bloody wars in Afghanistan in the 19th century. His conclusion: get out. Lord Roberts' axiom was that the farther away British forces remained from the tribesmen, the more likely the tribesmen were to feel warmly toward them; the closer he got, the more they hated him and the more stubbornly and implacably they fought against him.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #1 on:
October 16, 2006, 01:40:04 AM »
It's partially tribal, it's also a global political movement based on a totalitarian, absolutist, imperialist meme disguised as a religion. It not only involves individual tribes, but has the ideal of the "umma", which is the dream of a global meta-tribe that transcends individual tribal affiliation. That's why Saudis, Moros and Californians can all play a role in the global jihad.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #2 on:
October 16, 2006, 01:52:06 AM »
Recommendations for the West
by Baron Bodissey
The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files.
The West at the beginning of the 21st century suffers from a lack of cultural confidence, and is in some ways engaged in an internal struggle over the very meaning of Western civilization. This ideological ?war within the West? has helped paved the way for the physical ?war against the West? that is waged by Muslim Jihadists, who quite correctly view our creed of Multiculturalism and our acceptance of Muslim immigration as signs of weakness and that the West has lost contact with its civilizational roots.
Perhaps we will need to resolve the war within the West before we can win the war against the West. When Westerners such as Polish king Jan III Sobieski led their troops to victory over the Turks in the 1683 Battle of Vienna, they fought for a number of reasons: Their country, their culture and their religion, among other things. People don?t just need to live, they need something to live for, and fight for. We are against Islam. What are we for?
I would suggest that one thing we should fight for is national sovereignty and the right to preserve our own culture and pass it on to future generations. We are fighting for the right to define our own laws and national policies, not to be held hostage by Leftist Utopians, unaccountable NGOs, transnational progressives or self-appointed guardians of the truth.
- - - - - - - - - -
Multiculturalism is wrong because not all cultures are equal. However, it is also championed by groups with a hidden agenda. Multiculturalism serves as a tool for ruling elites to fool people, to keep them from knowing that they have lost, or deliberately vacated, control over national borders. Leftists who dislike Western civilization use Multiculturalism to undermine it, a hate ideology disguised as tolerance. Multiculturalism equals the unilateral destruction of Western culture, the only unilateral action the West is allowed to take, according to some.
There are also some libertarian right-wingers and Big Business supporters who see man only as the sum of his economic functions, as cheap labor and consumers, homo economicus. They believe not only in free markets but in free migration, and tend to downplay the impact of culture. They are Islam?s useful idiots in the fight against the West.
Although Leftists tend to be more aggressive, perhaps the dividing line in the internal struggle in the West is less between Left and Right, and more between those who value national sovereignty and Western culture and those who do not. End the nonsense of ?celebrating our differences.? We should be celebrating our sameness and what binds us together. We should clean up our history books and school curricula, which have been infected with anti-Western sentiments.
Upholding national borders has become more important in the age of globalization, terrorism and mass-migration, not less. No nation regardless of political system can survive the loss of its territorial integrity, but democratic states especially so. Those who don?t want to uphold national borders are actually tearing down the very foundations of our democratic system, which is based on nation states. The fight for national sovereignty is thus the fight for democracy itself, since nobody has so far made any convincing model of a supranational democracy.
We now have a political class who spend much of their time travelling around the world. They no longer feel as attached to the people they are supposed to represent as they did in the past. This is perhaps inevitable, but it feeds a growing sense of detachment between ordinary people and their supposed leaders. We need to remind our political leaders that we pay national taxes because they are supposed to uphold our national borders. If they can?t do so, the social contract is breached, and we should no longer be required to pay our taxes. National taxes, national borders could become a new rallying cry.
The West is declining as a percentage of world population, and in danger of being overwhelmed by immigration from poorer countries with booming populations. Westerners need to adjust our self-image to being less dominant in the 21st century. As such, we also need to ditch Messianic altruism: The West must first of all save itself. We have no obligation to ?save? the Islamic world, and do not have the financial strength nor the demographic numbers to do so even if we wanted to. We are not all-powerful and are not in the position to help all of the Third World out of poverty, certainly not by allowing all of them to move here.
We should take a break from massive immigration, also non-Muslim immigration, for at least a generation, in order to absorb and assimilate the persons we already have in our countries. The West is becoming so overwhelmed by immigration that this may trigger civil wars in several Western nations in the near future. We already have massive Third World ghettos in our major cities. Future immigration needs to be more strictly controlled and ONLY non-Muslim.
This immigration break should be used to demonstrate clearly that the West will no longer serve as the dumping ground for excess population growth in other countries. We have cultures and countries that we?d like to preserve, too, and cannot and should not be expected to accept unlimited number of migrants from other countries. But above all, the West, and indeed the non-Muslim world, should make our countries Islam-unfriendly and implement a policy of containment of Dar al-Islam. This is the most civilized thing we can do in order to save ourselves, but also to limit the loss of life among both Muslims and non-Muslims.
The best way to deal with the Islamic world is to have as little to do with it as possible. We should ban Muslim immigration. This could be done in creative and indirect ways, such as banning immigration from nations with citizens known to be engaged in terrorist activities. We should remove all Muslim non-citizens currently in the West. We should also change our laws to ensure that Muslim citizens who advocate sharia, preach Jihad, the inequality of ?infidels? and of women should have their citizenship revoked and be deported back to their country of origin.
We need to create an environment where the practice of Islam is made difficult. Muslim citizens should be forced to either accept our secular ways or leave if they desire sharia. Much of this can be done in a non-discriminatory way, by simply refusing to allow special pleading to Muslims. Do not allow the Islamic public call to prayer as it is offensive to other faiths. All children, boys and girls should take part in all sporting and social activities of the school and the community. The veil should be banned in all public institutions, thus also contributing to breaking the traditional subjugation of women. Companies and public buildings should not be forced to build prayer rooms for Muslims. Enact laws to eliminate the abuse of family reunification laws. Do not permit major investments by Muslims in Western media or universities.
As columnist Diana West of the Washington Times points out, we should shift from a pro-democracy offensive to an anti-sharia defensive. Calling this the War on Terror was a mistake. Baron Bodissey of the Gates of Vienna blog suggests the slogan ?Take Back the Culture,? thus focusing on our internal struggle for Western culture. Another possibility is ?War against Apartheid.? Given sharia?s inequality between men and women, Muslims and non-Muslims, it is de facto a religious apartheid system. Calling this struggle a self-defense against apartheid would make it more difficult for Western Leftists to dismiss it.
People should be educated about the realities of Jihad and sharia. Educating non-Muslims about Islam is probably more important than educating Muslims, but we should do both. Authorities or groups of dedicated individuals should engage in efforts to explain the real nature of Islam, emphasizing the division that Islam teaches between Believer and Infidel, the permanent state of war between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb and the uses of taqiyya and kitman as religious deception.
As Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch says, we should explain why Islam encourages despotism (because allegiance is owed the ruler as long as he is a Muslim), economic paralysis, intellectual failure (the cult of authority, the hostility to free and skeptical inquiry) in Islamic countries. Let Muslims themselves begin slowly to understand that all of their political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral failures are a result of Islamic teachings.
Fitzgerald also suggests exploiting the many fissures within the Islamic world: Divide and conquer. Divide and demoralize. Islam has universalist claims but it talks about Arabs as the ?best of peoples,? and has been a vehicle for Arab supremacy, to promote Arab conquest of wealthier non-Arab populations. In addition to divisions between Arabs and non-Arab Muslims, we have the sectarian divide between Shias and Sunnis, and the economic division between the fabulously rich oil-and-natural-gas Arab states and the poor Muslim countries.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #3 on:
October 16, 2006, 01:53:29 AM »
Both the sectarian and economic divisions within Islam are best exploited by Infidels doing nothing. If the Western world stops giving Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, and the Palestinians ?aid,? which has in reality become a disguised form of Jizyah, this will clear the psychological air. And it will force the poorer Arabs and other Muslims to go to the rich Arabs for support.
Right now, Muslims can enjoy the best of both worlds: Following medieval religious laws while enjoying the fruits of 21st century civilization. We need to drive home the utter failure of the Islamic model by making sure that Muslims should no longer able to count on permanent Western or infidel aid in their overpopulated, self-primitivized states, whose very unviability they are prevented from recognizing by this constant infusion of aid.
We also need to deprive Arabs and Muslims as much as possible of Western Jizya in other forms, which means ending foreign aid, but also institute a Manhattan Project for alternative sources of energy, in order to become independent of Arab oil.
And as Mr. Fitzgerald asks: ?What would the rich Arabs do if the Western world decided to seize their property in the West as the assets of enemy aliens, just as was done to the property owned not only by the German government, but by individual Germans, during World War II? And what would they do if they were to be permanently deprived of easy access to Western medical care??
We also need to reject the ?You turn into what you fight? argument. The British, the Americans and the Canadians didn?t become Nazis while fighting Nazi Germany, did they? The truth is, we will become like Muslims if we don?t fight them and keep them out of our countries, since they will subdue us and Islamize us by force. The West isn?t feared because we are ?oppressors,? we are despised because we are perceived as being decadent and weak.
Yes, we should implement a policy of containment of the Islamic world, but for this to work we will sometimes have to take military action to crush Arab pretensions to grandeur. The Buddhists of Central Asia undoubtedly held the ?moral high ground? in relations to Muslims. They are all dead now. At the very least, we must be prepared to back up our ideological defenses with force on certain occasions. Holding a higher moral standard isn?t going to defeat an Iranian President with nukes, threatening another Holocaust.
Writer Raymond Kraft explains Western softness very well: The Islamic movement ?has turned the civility of the United States and Europe into a weapon and turned it against us. It has weaponized niceness, it has weaponized compassion, it has weaponized the fundamental decency of Western Civilization. We have become too civilized to defeat our enemies, perhaps too civilized to survive.?
Kraft thinks we are na?ve in believing that the deeds of Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda, the whole Islamic Jihad, are done by a bunch of ?non-state actors.? In real life they?re agents of nation states (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, sometimes Russia or China) who want to weaken the West by a proxy war.
The Chinese and the Russians do not want to fight an open war with the Americans, but they would be hugely pleased to see the United States cut down to size a bit, until it is about as much a threat to anybody as the European Union is now, ?so the Chinese and Russians can run the global show as they see fit, ration the oil, and pocket the profits.?
There is, however, a big difference: The Islamic world always has been our enemy and always will be. China and Russia do not have to be our enemies, although our relations will be complicated because of their size and their own Great Power ambitions. We can, at best, persuade them that directly opposing us isn?t going to pay off.
I have heard several objections to the containment option. Some claim that it is too harsh and thus won?t be implemented; others say that it is insufficient and won?t work in the long run.
It?s true that in the current political situation, expulsion of sharia-sponsoring Muslims isn?t going to happen. But the current political situation isn?t going to last.
We will get civil wars in several Western countries because of this immigration, and given the increasing clashes with Muslim immigrants in France, in England and in other countries one could argue that we are seeing early signs of this already now. This will finally demonstrate how serious the situation is, and force other Western nations to ban Muslim immigration and pressure Muslim citizens to assimilate or leave.
I have heard comments that it isn?t practically doable to contain the Islamic world behind some artificial Maginot Line. When the Mongols could simply go around the Great Wall of China during the Middle Ages, it will be impossible to contain anybody in the 21st century with modern communication technology.
I understand this objection. No, it won?t be easy, but we have to at least try. Containment is the very minimum that is acceptable. Perhaps the spread of nuclear technology will indeed trigger a large-scale war with the Islamic world at some point. The only way to avoid this is to take steps, including military ones, to deprive Muslims of such technology. The Jihad is being waged with military, political, demographic and diplomatic means. The defense against Jihad has to be equally diverse.
I have also been criticized because my talk about containment and the need to limit even non-Muslim immigration smacks of the siege mentality of a friendless West. First of all, the policy of stricter immigration control isn?t based on isolationism, it?s based on realism. We?re in the middle of the largest population boom and the largest migration waves in human history. The simple fact is that far more people want to live in the West than we can possibly let in.
Technological globalization has made it easier for people to travel to other countries, but also easier for them to stay in touch with their original homeland as if they never left. We have to deal with this fact by slowing the immigration rates to assimilation levels, or our societies, and certainly our democratic system, will slowly break down.
Moreover, I?m advocating isolating the Islamic world, not the West. Even if we cannot allow all non-Muslims to freely settle in our lands, this does not mean that they have to be our enemies. Jihad is being waged against the entire non-Muslim world, not just the West. We should stop trying to ?win the hearts and minds? of Muslims and start reaching out to non-Muslims.
The United Nations is heavily infiltrated by Islamic groups. We should starve it for funds and ridicule it at any given opportunity. As an alternative to the UN, we could create an organization where only democratic states could become members. Another possibility is an expansion of NATO. The most important principle at this point is to contain the Islamic world. We simply cannot allow our enemies to have influence over our policies, which they partly do through the UN.
What the West should do is to enter into strategic alliances with non-Western states that share some of our political ideals and goals. This includes non-Muslim nations such as Japan and India, perhaps also Thailand, the Philippines and others. We will, however, still need some understanding with Russia and China and some mechanism for consultations with both. Perhaps, instead of any new and formalized organization, the most influential countries will simply form ad hoc alliances to deal with issues as they arise.
The situation in the Old West in Europe is right now more serious than in the New West, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
For Europe, the most important thing to do right now is to dismantle the European Union in its present form, and regain national control over our borders and our legislation. The EU is so deeply flawed as an organization, and so heavily infiltrated by Eurabian and pro-Islamic thinking that it simply cannot be reformed. And let?s end the stupid support for the Palestinians that the Eurabians have encouraged, and start supporting our cultural cousin, Israel.
Europeans also need to ditch the welfare state, which is probably doomed anyway. The welfare state wasn?t all bad, but the welfare state economies cannot compete in a world of billions of capitalists in low-cost countries. Besides, the welfare state creates a false sense of security in a dog-eat-dog world, and it breeds a passivity that is very dangerous in the fight against Jihad. It may also indirectly contribute to the low birth rates in many European countries.
We should use the money instead to strengthen our border controls and rebuild credible militaries. Western Europeans have lived under Pax Americana for so long that we have forgotten how to defend ourselves. This needs to change, and soon.
Europeans should adopt legislation similar to the First Amendment in the American Constitution, securing the right to free speech. The reason why European authorities are becoming increasingly totalitarian in their censorship efforts is to conceal the fact that they are no longer willing or able to uphold even the most basic security of their citizenry, far less our national borders. Europe needs free speech more than ever.
[Baron Bodissey?s two cents: Europe needs a Second Amendment, too, and for the same reason.]
We need to strike a balance between defeatism and denial. Yes, the situation in Europe is now very serious, but it is not totally lost. Not yet. The Danish Cartoon Jihad has demonstrated that their Islamic arrogance encourages Muslims to become too aggressive, too early, and thus overplay their hand. Our main problem is ourselves. Europe?s elites have lost contact with the people, and the people have lost contact with reality. Western Europe is now a collection of several layers of different Utopias: Multiculturalism, welfarism, radical Feminism and transnationalism that will all soon come crashing down. The important question is how we?re going to deal with this.
Yes, we have been betrayed by our own leaders, but that?s still only part of the problem. People tend to get the governments they deserve. Maybe we get weak leaders because we are weak, or because they can exploit weaknesses in our mentality to get us where they want to; above all anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, our excessive desire for consensus and suppression of dissent, the anti-individualistic legacy from Socialism and the passivity bred by welfare state bureaucracy. Muslims are stuck with their problems and their corrupt leaders and blame everybody else for their own failures because they can never admit they are caused by deep flaws in their culture. We shouldn?t make the same mistake. Europeans export wine; Arabs export whine. That?s the way it should be.
It is highly likely that the coming generation will determine whether Europe will continue to exist as a Western cultural entity. However, just as Islam isn?t the cause of Europe?s weakness but rather a secondary infection, it is conceivable that the Islamic threat could have the unforeseen and ironic effect of saving Europe from herself. Europe will bleed but she won?t die.
As the quote goes in the Hollywood classic ?The Third Man?:
??in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love ? they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.?
Some would say that?s a tad unfair to the Swiss. Switzerland has been at the forefront of many technological developments for a long time, and we could probably learn from their example with frequent referendums and direct democracy. But it?s true that European renewals can be messy stuff.
Muslims always claim that Islamic influences triggered the Renaissance. That?s not true. But maybe it will be this time. Perhaps this life-and-death struggle with Islam is precisely the slap in the face that we need to regroup and revitalize our civilization. Is there still enough strength left in Europe to repel an Islamic invasion once more? If so, Muslims could indeed be responsible for triggering a Western Renaissance, the Second Renaissance.
It remains to be seen whether this will actually happen, or whether it is wishful thinking. Europe will unfortunately experience some warfare either way. Will this produce a Michelangelo or a Muhammad? Only time will tell.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #4 on:
October 16, 2006, 02:28:39 AM »
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #5 on:
October 17, 2006, 05:54:11 PM »
North Korea and the Limits of Multilateralism
By George Friedman
One of the main criticisms of the Bush administration's approach to Iraq has been that the United States undertook the war unilaterally, without consulting or working with allies and the international community. The criticism always overstated the United States' isolation among traditional allies: France and Germany opposed the 2003 invasion, but the United States had more support in NATO than did Paris and Berlin. Nevertheless, there was a principle embedded in U.S. policy that was real and could be challenged. George W. Bush took the view that the United States had to craft its own strategy after the 9/11 attacks -- and that, while it welcomed support, its actions would not be constrained by such considerations. The justification for a coalition was that it would enable U.S. policy; U.S. policy did not have to be justified by recourse to a coalition.
This was a conceptual shift in U.S. foreign policy.
Alliance as Solution
A generation ago, there was a consensus about why World War II had happened, why the United States and Allied powers had won and how the Cold War should be prosecuted. In this reading, World War II was caused by the unwillingness of the international community to take action against Hitler early enough to prevent a war. The British and French, pursuing their own separate policies -- unwilling to join with the Soviet Union against the greater threat of a Nazi Germany and unable to use the moribund mechanism of the League of Nations -- failed to lead a decisive coalition against Hitler.
With war impossible to prevent, a coalition was created to fight Hitler and the Japanese. The coalition, under the rubric of the United Nations, involved a range of nations that were prepared to subordinate their particular national interests to the broader interest of defeating the Axis powers. Military success in the war rested on the ability of the coalition to hold together. And reading backward, had this coalition existed prior to the rise of Munich, World War II likely never would have happened. Maintaining global stability required a coalition of states that shared a mutual interest in stability and would suppress, as soon as possible, nations that would want to upset that stability.
The Cold War was fought on the same basis. Having accepted that the Soviets were a destabilizing power, the United States focused on creating a system of alliances to contain them. The Americans saw the rapid creation of an alliance against the Soviet Union as the foundation of a successful foreign policy; without it, the Soviets would be victorious.
Rhetoric aside, this made a great deal of sense. The Soviet Union emerged from World War II as the pre-eminent land power in Eurasia. The United States, by size and geography, could not unilaterally contain the Soviets. At best, it could engage in a catastrophic nuclear war with them. In order to have an effective conventional option, the United States had to have allies on the periphery of the Soviet Union. The alliance system made superb geopolitical sense.
Alliance as Stability
But the United States emerged from all of this with an obsession for alliance systems independent of purpose. The World War II coalition had a clear purpose: the defeat of the Axis powers. The Cold War coalition had a clear purpose as well: the defeat of the Soviet Union. However, what emerged in the 1990s was the idea of alliances as ends in themselves. The basic idea was that the system of alliances over which the United States presided during the Cold War would continue to exist -- not with the purpose of opposing the Soviets, but to maintain global stability. The only challenge this system would face, it was presumed, would be rogue powers -- which would be dealt with by an international community (a term extended to include Russia and China) that shared an equal interest in stability. Instead of opposing an enemy, the goal was in the positive: maintaining stability. If the goal was stability, and if everyone shared that goal, then simply having a coalition became the solution rather than the means to a solution.
The central assumption behind this approach was that all significant powers now shared a common interest -- stability -- and that the only destabilizing powers would be rogues, against which the international community would pool its forces. Desert Storm was the model: A broad coalition re-conquered Kuwait, with even nonparticipants in the war giving at least tacit approval. This principle was maintained until Kosovo.
Bush's policy on Iraq, therefore, became a battleground for those who argued that maintaining the alliance system had to take precedence over the unilateral pursuit of national interests. Leaving aside the important question of whether the invasion of Iraq made sense from the American point of view, one argument was that anything that alienates the coalition -- regardless of whether it is a good or bad idea -- is extremely dangerous because this alienation undermines international stability. More to the point, it undermines the foundations of what has been U.S. foreign policy since 1941 -- a foreign policy that was successful.
North Korea and Multilateralism
The counterargument, of course, is provided by history: Successful alliances are built for the purpose of dealing with threats. Alliances built around principles such as stability are doomed to fail, for a number of reasons. First, over time, the status quo appeals to some powers and not to others. Stability is another way of arguing that the international order should be maintained as it is, ignoring the fact that some powers are thereby placed at a great disadvantage. Apart from any moral argument, it follows that, with a universal commitment to stability, subordinate powers will permanently accept their positions, or leading powers will give up their positions quietly, without destabilizing the system. Thus, the idea of maintaining alliances for purposes of stability is built on an unlikely assumption: Stability is in the universal interest of the international community.
Which brings us to North Korea. The U.S. approach to North Korea -- and this includes that of the Bush administration -- consistently has been the polar opposite of its approach to Iraq. North Korea has provided the classic example of multilateralism in pursuit of stability as an end in itself.
The United States does not want North Korea to get nuclear weapons because this could destabilize the international system. Whatever its rhetoric, however, Washington has taken no steps to try to destabilize North Korea, focusing instead on changing its behavior through a multilateral approach.
On North Korea, then, the United States has scrupulously followed traditional U.S. foreign policy. First, Washington has consistently accepted the idea that it has a primary responsibility to deal with North Korea, even if there are regional powers that are in a position to do so. The United States has followed the principle that, as the world's leading power, it has unique obligations and rights in dealing with destabilizing powers. Second, the United States has used its position not for unilateral action, but for multilateral action. Washington has been pressured by North Korea for talks, and criticized by others for refusing to engage Pyongyang directly. Rather, the United States has insisted on the principle of shared authority and responsibility, working within the framework of regional powers that have an interest in North Korea: South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. Finally, the United States has made clear that it will not take unilateral military action against North Korea.
However, the multilateral approach pursued under both the Clinton and Bush administrations has failed, if we regard the detonation of a small nuclear device as constituting a failure. This is an important event because it is the complete counterpoint to Iraq, where it has been argued that failure resulted from the Bush administration's unilateral approach. In one case, we wind up with an unmanageable war; in the other, with the potential for a regional nuclear threat.
Shared Responsibility and Inaction
The driving assumption in the case of North Korea was that all of the powers involved were committed to regional stability, understood the risks of inaction and were prepared to take risks to maintain stability and the status quo. But that just wasn't true. There were very different, competing ideas of stability; the idea of inaction seemed attractive and the assumption of risks did not. There was no multilateral action because the coalition was an illusion.
Let's go down the list:
South Korea: Seoul does not want Pyongyang to have a nuclear device, but it also does not want the slightest chance of a war with North Korea -- South Korea's industrial heartland is too close to the border. Nor does Seoul want the regime in Pyongyang to fall; the idea of the South taking responsibility for rebuilding a shattered North Korea is not attractive. The South Koreans didn't want the North to acquire nuclear weapons, but they were not prepared to act to stop Pyongyang, or to destabilize the regime.
Japan: Japan does not want North Korea to have a nuclear device, but it is prepared neither to take military action on its own nor to endorse U.S. military action in this regard. Japan has major domestic issues with waging war that would have to be worked out before it could make a move, and it is no hurry to solve those problems. Moreover, Tokyo has little interest in posing such an overt threat that the Koreas, its traditional enemy, would reunify (as an industrial giant) against Japan. The Japanese don't mind imposing sanctions, but they hope they won't work.
Russia: Russia is about as worried about the prospect of a North Korean nuclear strike on its territory as the United States is about a French strike. The two countries may not like each other, but it isn't going to happen. Russia would smash North Korea and not worry about the fallout. But at the same time, Moscow wants to keep the United States tied up in knots. It has serious issues with the United States encroaching on the Russian sphere of influence in former Soviet territory. Russia is delighted to see the United States tied down in Iraq and struggling with Iran, and it is quite happy to have the Americans appear helpless over North Korea. The Russians will agree to some meaningless sanctions for show, but they are not going to make the United States appear statesmanlike.
China: China has major internal problems, both economic and political. The Chinese do not want to anger the United States, but they do want the Americans to be dependent on them for something. The North Korea test blast gave China an opportunity to appear enormously helpful without actually doing anything meaningful. Put another way, if China actually wanted to stop the detonation, it clearly has no influence on North Korea. And if it does have influence -- which we suspect it does -- it managed to play a complex double game, appearing to oppose the blast while taking advantage of its ability to "help" the United States. China, along with Russia, has no interest in serious sanctions.
The issue here is not the fine points of the foreign policies of these nations, but the fact that none has an overarching interest in "doing something" about North Korea. Each of these states has internal and external problems that take precedence, in their eyes, over a North Korean nuclear capability. None of them is pursuing stability, in the sense of being prepared to subordinate national interests to the stabilization of the region. The result is that the diplomatic process has failed.
Multilateralism: Promise and Limitations
In this case, multilateralism was the problem. By bringing together a coalition of nations with enormously diverse natures and interests, the United States was guaranteed paralysis. There was no commitment to any overarching principle, and the particular national interests precluded decisive action both before and after the nuclear test. Multilateralism provided an illusion of effective action in a situation where inaction -- including inaction by the United States -- was the intent. No one did anything because no one wanted to do anything, and this was covered up with the busywork of multilateral diplomacy.
It is not that multilateral action is useless. To the contrary, it was the foundation of U.S. success in World War II and the Cold War. When a clear and overwhelming interest or fear is present, multilateral action is essential. But invoking multilateralism as a solution in and of itself misses the point that there must be a more pressing issue at stake than the abstract notion of stability. Neither unilateralism nor multilateralism are moral principles. Each is a means of attaining the national interest. The U.S. disaster in Iraq derived less from pursuing unilateral ends than from catastrophic mismanagement of a war. The emergence of a nuclear North Korea results not from inherent weakness in a multilateral approach, but from using multilateralism as a substitute for a common interest.
If, for some, Iraq made the case against unilateralism, North Korea should raise serious questions about the limits of multilateralism.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #6 on:
October 18, 2006, 10:53:08 AM »
Tell us what you really think Ralph.
POLITICALLY CORRECT WAR
By RALPH PETERS
October 18, 2006 -- HAVE we lost the will to win wars? Not just in Iraq, but anywhere? Do we really believe that being nice is more important than victory?
It's hard enough to bear the timidity of our civilian leaders - anxious to start wars but without the guts to finish them - but now military leaders have fallen prey to political correctness. Unwilling to accept that war is, by its nature, a savage act and that defeat is immoral, influential officers are arguing for a kinder, gentler approach to our enemies.
They're going to lead us into failure, sacrificing our soldiers and Marines for nothing: Political correctness kills.
Obsessed with low-level "tactical" morality - war's inevitable mistakes - the officers in question have lost sight of the strategic morality of winning. Our Army and Marine Corps are about to suffer the imposition of a new counterinsurgency doctrine designed for fairy-tale conflicts and utterly inappropriate for the religion-fueled, ethnicity-driven hyper-violence of our time.
We're back to struggling to win hearts and minds that can't be won.
The good news is that the Army and Marine Corps worked together on the new counterinsurgency doctrine laid out in Field Manual 3-24 (the Army version). The bad news is that the doctrine writers and their superiors came up with fatally wrong prescriptions for combating today's insurgencies.
Astonishingly, the doctrine ignores faith-inspired terrorism and skirts ethnic issues in favor of analyzing yesteryear's political insurgencies. It would be a terri- fic manual if we returned to Vietnam circa 1963, but its recommendations are profoundly misguided when it comes to fighting terrorists intoxicated with religious visions and the smell of blood.
Why did the officers in question avoid the decisive question of religion? Because the answers would have been ugly.
Wars of faith and tribe are immeasurably crueler and tougher to resolve than ideological revolts. A Maoist in Malaya could be converted. But Islamist terrorists who regard death as a promotion are not going to reject their faith any more than an ethnic warrior can - or would wish to - change his blood identity.
So the doctrine writers ignored today's reality.
Al Qaeda and other terror organizations have stated explicitly and repeatedly that they're waging a global jihad to re-establish the caliphate. Yet the new manual ignores religious belief as a motivation.
The politically correct atmosphere in Washington deems any discussion of religion as a strategic factor indelicate: Let our troops die, just don't hurt anyone's feelings.
So the doctrine writers faked it, treating all insurgencies as political. As a result, they prescribed an excellent head-cold treatment - for a cancer patient. The text is a mush of pop-zen mantras such as "Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction," "The best weapons do not shoot," or "The more force used, the less effective it is."
That's just nutty. Should we have done nothing in the wake of 9/11? Would everything have been OK if we'd just been nicer? What non-lethal "best weapons" might have snagged Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, where the problem was too little military force, not too much violence?
Should we have sent fewer troops to Iraq, where inadequate numbers crippled everything we attempted? Will polite chats with tribal chiefs stop the sectarian violence drenching Iraq in blood?
On the surface, the doctrine appears sober and serious. But it's morally frivolous and intellectually inert, a pathetic rehashing of yesteryear's discredited "wisdom" on counterinsurgencies and, worst of all, driven by a stalker-quality infatuation with T.E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia," who not only was a huckster of the first order, but whose "revolt in the desert" was a near-meaningless sideshow of a sideshow.
Lawrence is quoted repeatedly, with reverence. We might as well cite the British generals of the Great War who sent men over the top in waves to face German machine guns.
You can trust two kinds of officers: Those who read a great deal and those who don't read at all. But beware the officer who reads just a little and falls in love with one book. A little education really is a dangerous thing.
The new manual is thick - length is supposed to substitute for insight. It should be 75 percent shorter and 100 percent more honest. If issued to our troops in its present form, it will lead to expensive failures. Various generals have already tried its prescriptions in Iraq - with discouraging results, to put it mildly.
We've reached a fateful point when senior officers seek to evade war's brute reality. Our leaders, in and out of uniform, must regain their moral courage. We can't fight wars of any kind if the entire chain of command runs for cover every time an ambitious journalist cries, "War crime!" And sorry: Soccer balls are no substitute for bullets when you face fanatics willing to kill every child on the playing field.
In war, you don't get points for good manners. It's about winning. Victory forgives.
The new counterinsurgency doctrine recommends forbearance, patience, understanding, non-violent solutions and even outright passivity. Unfortunately, our enemies won't sign up for a replay of the Summer of Love in San Francisco. We can't treat hardcore terrorists like Halloween pranksters on mid-term break from prep school.
Where is the spirit of FDR and George C. Marshall, who recognized that the one unbearable possibility was for the free world to lose?
We discount the value of ferocity - as a practical tool and as a deterrent. But war's immutable law - proven yet again in Iraq - is that those unwilling to pay the butcher's bill up front will pay it with compound interest in the end.
The new counterinsurgency doctrine is dishonest and cowardly.
We don't face half-hearted Marxists tired of living in the jungle, but religious zealots who behead prisoners to please their god and who torture captives by probing their skulls with electric drills. We're confronted by hatreds born of blood and belief and madmen whose appetite for blood is insatiable.
And we're afraid to fight.
Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer
Last Edit: October 18, 2006, 11:05:39 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #7 on:
October 18, 2006, 11:08:16 AM »
Here's what he references:
Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz
Introduction by Tom Engelhardt
Here's how President George W Bush described the enemy in Iraq at his press conference last week. "The violence is being caused by a combination of terrorists, elements of former regime criminals and sectarian militias." That is, "bitter-enders" aka "Saddamists". The "sectarian militias" may have been a relatively recent add-on, but this is essentially the same list, the same sort of terminology the president has been using for years.
In the past two weeks, however, rumblings of discontent, the urge
for a change of course (or at least a mid-course correction) in Iraq have been persistently bubbling to the surface of already roiling Washington. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner recently returned from Iraq to rattle the Bush administration by saying that policy there was "drifting sideways" and if it didn't improve, "all options" should be on the table not long after the mid-term elections.
Suggestions are rife for dumping the president's goal of "democracy" in Iraq and swallowing a little of the hard stuff. Reports indicate that in two desperate capitals, Washington and Baghdad, rumors about possible future Iraqi coups are spinning wildly. People of import are evidently talking about the possibility of a new five-man "ruling commission", a "government of national salvation" that would "suspend parliament, declare martial law and call back some officers of the old Iraqi army". Even the name of that Central Intelligence Agency warhorse (and anti-neo-conservative candidate) Iyad Allawi, who couldn't get his party elected dogcatcher in the new Iraq, is coming up again in the context of the need for a "strongman".
This was, of course, the desire of the elder George Bush and his advisors back at the end of Gulf War I, when they hoped just such a Sunni strongman - one who could work with them - would topple a weakened Saddam Hussein. Dreams, it seems, die hard. And, as if on cue, who should appear but former secretary of state and Bush family handler James A Baker III, a Bush Elder kind of guy.
While on the talk-show circuit for his new book, he also spent last week plugging (but not revealing) the future findings of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan commission he co-heads whose aim is to suggest to a reluctant president new policy possibilities in Iraq. They too are putting "all" options on the table (as long as those options involve "continuing the mission in Iraq"). The group, according to some reports, has, however, ruled out the president's favorite option, "victory". One option it is apparently considering involves skipping "democracy", minimizing American casualties, and focusing "on stabilizing Baghdad, while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents".
A political accommodation with the insurgents? Curious how word gets around. Sometimes a small change in terminology speaks volumes for future mid-course corrections. The other day, General George Casey, commander of US troops in Iraq, gave a press briefing with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. As part of his prepared introductory remarks (not in answer to some random question), he offered this list of "groups that are working to affect [the situation in Iraq] negatively":
"The first, the Sunni extremists, al-Qaeda, and the Iraqis that are supporting them. Second, the Shi'ite extremists, the death squads and the more militant militias. In my view, those represent the greatest current threats in Iraq. The third group is the resistance, the Sunni insurgency that sees themselves as an honorable resistance against foreign occupation in Iraq."
"The resistance"? "An honorable resistance against foreign occupation in Iraq"? Where did those bitter-enders, those anti-Iraq forces go? Take it as a small signal - noticed, as far as I could tell, by not a single reporter or pundit of things to come.
Of course, all of this has brought to the surface a lot of hopeful "withdrawal" talk in the media (and the online world), in part because the Baker group seems to have been floating "phased withdrawal" rumors. Before you think about genuine withdrawal possibilities though, note the announcement by Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker last week that he was now planning for the possibility of maintaining present force levels in Iraq (140,000+ troops) through 2010; that Casey at that press briefing left the door wide open to ask the president for even more troops after the election; and that the build-up on the ground of permanent bases (not called that) and our vast, nearly billion-dollar embassy in the heart of Baghdad is ongoing.
Below, Michael Schwartz considers the latest in military mid-course corrections and explains why such corrections can no longer hope to plug the gaping holes in Iraq's political dikes. Similarly, Warner, Baker, Casey, Senator Joe Biden (with his "three-state solution"), and so many others can all promote their own mid-course corrections, suggest them to the president, bring them to the new Congress, promote them among military figures, but as long as that embassy goes up and those bases keep getting hardened and improved, as long as the "mission continues" (in Baker's phrase), changing troop levels, tactics, even governments in Baghdad's Green Zone, not to speak of "policy options" in Washington, will solve nothing. Wherever that "table" is sooner or later all options will really have to be displayed on it.
Nine paradoxes of a lost war
By Michael Schwartz
Recently, the New York Times broke a story suggesting that the US Army and the marines were about to turn the conceptual tide of war in Iraq. The two services, reported correspondent Michael R Gordon, "were finishing work on a new counterinsurgency doctrine" that would, according to retired Lieutenant General Jack Keane, "change [the military's] entire culture as it transitions to irregular warfare".
Such strategic eureka moments have been fairly common since the Bush administration invaded Iraq in March 2003, and this one - news coverage of it died away in less than a week - will probably drop into the dustbin of history along with other times when the tactical or strategic tide of war was supposed to change. These would include the November 2004 assault on the city of Fallujah, various elections, the "standing up" of the Iraqi Army, and the trench that, it was briefly reported, the Iraqis were planning to dig around their vast capital, Baghdad.
But this plan had one ingenious section, derived from an article by four military experts published in the quasi-official Military Review and entitled "The Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency". The nine paradoxes the experts lay out are eye-catching, to say the least and so make vivid reading; but they are more than so many titillating puzzles of counterinsurgency warfare. Each of them contains an implied criticism of American strategy in Iraq. Seen in this light, they become an instructive lesson from insiders in why the American presence in that country has been such a disaster and why this (or any other) new counterinsurgency strategy has little chance of ameliorating it.
The more you protect your force, the less secure you are
The military experts offer this explanation: "[The] counterinsurgent gains ultimate success by protecting the populace, not himself." It may seem like a bland comment, but don't be fooled. It conceals a devastating criticism of the cardinal principle of the American military in Iraq: that above all else they must minimize the risk to American troops by setting rules of engagement that essentially boil down to "shoot first, make excuses later".
Applications of this principle are found in the by-now familiar policies of annihilating any car that passes the restraint line at checkpoints (because it might be a car bomber); shooting at pedestrians who get in the path of any American convoy (because they might be trying to stop the vehicles to activate an ambush); and calling in artillery or air power against any house that might be an insurgent hiding place (because the insurgents might otherwise escape and/or snipe at an American patrol).
This "shoot first" policy has guaranteed that large numbers of civilians (including a remarkable number of children) have been killed, maimed or left homeless. For most of us, killing this many innocent people would be reason enough to abandon a policy, but from a military point of view it is not in itself sufficient. These tactics only become anathema when you can no longer ignore the way they have made it ever more difficult for the occupying army to "maintain contact" with the local population in order "to obtain the intelligence to drive operations and to reinforce the connections with the people who establish legitimacy".
The more force you use, the less effective you are
Times reporter Gordon summarizes the logic here nicely: "Substantial force increases the risk of collateral damage and mistakes, and increases the opportunity for insurgent propaganda."
Considering the levels of devastation achieved in the Sunni city of Fallujah (where 70% of structures were estimated to be damaged and close to 50% destroyed in the US assault of November 2004) and in other Sunni cities (where whole neighborhoods have been devastated), or even in Shi'ite Najaf (where entire neighborhoods and major parts of its old city were destroyed in 2004), the word "substantial" has to be considered a euphemism.
And the use of the word "propaganda" betrays the bias of the military authors, since many people would consider such levels of devastation a legitimate reason for joining groups that aim to expel the occupiers.
Here again, the striking logic of the American military is at work. These levels of destruction are not, in themselves, considered a problem - at least not until someone realizes that they are facilitating recruitment by the opposition.
The more successful counterinsurgency is, the less force can be used
Though not presented this way, this paradox is actually a direct criticism of the American military strategy in the months after the fall of the Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. In those early days, active resistance to the occupation was modest indeed, an average of only six violent engagements each day (compared to 90 three years later.)
But American military policy in the country was still based on overwhelming force. American commanders sought to deter a larger insurgency by ferociously repressing any signs of resistance. This strategy included house-to-house searches witnessed by embedded reporter Nir Rosen and described in his vivid book, In the Belly of the Green Bird.
These missions, repeated hundreds of times each day across Iraq, included home invasions of suspected insurgents, brutal treatment of their families and often their property, and the indefinite detention of men found in just about any house searched, even when US troops knew that their intelligence was unreliable.
Relatively peaceful demonstrations were forcibly suppressed, most agonizingly when, in late April 2003, American troops killed 13 demonstrators in Fallujah who were demanding that the US military vacate a school commandeered as a local headquarters. This incident became a cause celebre around which Fallujans organized themselves into a central role in the insurgency that soon was born.
The new counterinsurgency strategy acknowledges that the very idea of overwhelming demonstrations of force producing respectful obedience has backfired, producing instead an explosion of rebellion. And now that a significant majority of Iraqis are determined to expel the Americans, promises of more humane treatment next time will not get the genie of the insurgency back in the bottle.
Reply #8 on:
October 18, 2006, 11:09:33 AM »
Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction
This paradox is, in fact, a criticism of another cardinal principle of the occupation: the application of overwhelming force in order to teach insurgents (and prospective insurgents) that opposition of any sort will not be tolerated and, in any case, is hopeless.
A typical illustration of this principle in practice was a January US military report that went in part: "An unmanned US drone detected three men digging a hole in a road in the area. Insurgents regularly bury bombs along roads in the area to target US or Iraqi convoys. The three men were tracked to a building, which US forces then hit with precision-guided munitions." As it turned out, the attack killed 12 members of a family living in that house, severely damaged six neighboring houses, and consolidated local opposition to the American presence.
This example (multiplied many times over) makes it clear why, in so many instances over these past years, doing nothing might have been better: fewer enemies in the "hood". But the developers of the new military strategy have a more cold-blooded view of the issue, preferring to characterize the principle in this way: "If a careful analysis of the effects of a response reveals that more negatives than positives might result, soldiers should consider an alternative."
That is, while this incident might well be an example of a time when "doing nothing is the best reaction", the multiple civilian deaths that resulted could, under at least some circumstances, be outweighed by the "positives". Take, for a counter example, the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in an air strike that also caused multiple civilian deaths.
The best weapons for counterinsurgency do not shoot
The Times' Gordon offers the following translation of this paradox: "Often dollars and ballots have more impact than bombs and bullets." Given the $18 billion US reconstruction budget for Iraq and the three well-attended elections since January 2005, it might seem that, in this one area, Bush administration efforts actually anticipated the new counterinsurgency doctrine.
But in their original article the military strategists were actually far more precise in describing what they meant by this - and that precision makes it clear how far from effective American "reconstruction" was. Money and elections, they claim, are not enough: "Lasting victory will come from a vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope."
As it happened, the American officials responsible for Iraq policy were only willing to deliver that vibrant economy, along with political participation and restored hope, under quite precise and narrow conditions that suited the larger fantasies of the Bush administration.
Iraq's new government was to be an American ally, hostile to that axis-of-evil regional power Iran, and it was to embrace the "opening" of the Iraqi economy to American multinationals. Given Iraqi realities and this hopeless list of priorities or day-dreams, it is not surprising that the country's economy has sunk ever deeper into depression, that elected officials have neither the power nor the inclination to deliver on their campaign promises, and that the principle hopes of the majority of Iraqis are focused on the departure of American troops because of, as one pollster concluded, "the American failure to do basically anything for Iraqis".
Baghdad doing something tolerably better than US doing it well
Here is a paradoxical principle that the occupation has sought to apply fully. The presidential slogan, "as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down", has been an expression of Bush administration determination to transfer the front-line struggle against the insurgents - the patrols, the convoys, the home invasions, any house-to-house fighting - to Iraqi units, even if their job performance proved even less than "tolerable" compared to the rigorous execution of American troops.
It is this effort that has also proved the administration's most consistent and glaring failure. In a country where 80% of the people want the Americans to leave, it is very difficult to find soldiers willing to fight against the insurgents who are seeking to expel them.
This was evident when the first group of American-trained soldiers and police deserted the field of battle during the fights for Fallujah, Najaf, Mosul and Tal Afar in 2004. This led eventually to the current American strategy of using Shi'ite soldiers against Sunni insurgents, and utilizing Kurds against both Shi'ite and Sunni rebels. (Sunnis, by and large, have refused to fight with the Americans.) This policy, in turn, has contributed substantially to the still-escalating sectarian violence within Iraq.
Even today, after the infusion of enormous amounts of money and years of effort, a substantial proportion of newly recruited soldiers desert or mutiny when faced with the prospect of fighting against anti-American insurgents.
According to Solomon Moore and Louise Roug of the Los Angeles Times, in Anbar province, the scene of the heaviest fighting, "half the Iraqi soldiers are on leave at any given time, and many don't return to duty. In May, desertion rates in some Iraqi units reached 40%."
In September, fully three-quarters of the 4,000 Iraqi troops ordered to Baghdad to help in the American operation to reclaim the capital and suppress internecine violence there, refused deployment. American officials told the LA Times that such refusals were based on an unwillingness to fight outside their home regions and a reluctance to "be thrust into uncomfortable sectarian confrontations".
As the failed attempts to "stand up" Iraqi forces suggest, the goal of getting Iraqis to fight "tolerably" well depends on giving them a reason to fight that they actually support. As long as Iraqis are asked to fight on the side of occupation troops whose presence they despise, the US cannot expect the quality of their performance to be "tolerable" from the Bush administration point of view.
If a tactic works this week, it will not work next week
The clearest expression of this principle lies in the history of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the anti-occupation weapon of choice among Iraqi resistance fighters.
Throughout the war, the occupation military has conducted hundreds of armed patrols each week designed to capture suspected insurgents through house-to-house searches. The insurgency, in turn, has focused on deterring and derailing these patrols, using sniper attacks, rocket propelled grenades, and IEDs.
At first, sniper attacks were the favored weapon of the insurgents, but the typical American response - artillery and air attacks - proved effective enough to set them looking for other ways to respond. IEDs then gained in popularity, since they could be detonated from a relatively safe distance. When the Americans developed devices to detect the electronic detonators, the insurgents developed a variety of non-electronic trigger devices. When the Americans upgraded their armor to resist the typical IED, the insurgents developed "shaped" charges that could pierce American armor.
And so it goes in all aspects of the war. Each move by one side triggers a response by the other. The military experts developing the new strategy can point to this dilemma, but they cannot solve it. The underlying problem for the American military is that the resistance has already reached the sort of critical mass that ensures an endless back-and-forth tactical battle.
One solution not under consideration might work very well: abandoning the military patrols themselves. But such a tactic would also require abandoning counterinsurgency and ultimately leaving Iraq.
Tactical success guarantees nothing
This point is summarized by Gordon of the Times this way: "[M]ilitary actions by themselves cannot achieve success." But this is the smallest part of the paradox. It is true enough that the insurgency in Iraq hopes to win "politically" by waiting for the American people to force the US government to withdraw, or for the cost of the war to outweigh its potential benefits, or for world pressure to make the war diplomatically unviable.
But there is a much more encompassing element to this dictum: that guerrilla fighters do not expect to win any military battles with the occupation. In the military strategists' article, they quote an interchange between American Colonel Harry Summers and his North Vietnamese counterpart after the US had withdrawn from Vietnam. When Summers said, "You know you never defeated us on the battlefield," his adversary replied, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."
A tactical victory occurs when the enemy is killed or retreats, leaving the battlefield to the victor. In guerrilla war, therefore, the guerrillas never win since they always melt away and leave their adversary in charge.
But in Iraq, as in other successful guerrilla wars, the occupation army cannot remain indefinitely at the scene of its tactical victories - in each community, town or city that it conquers. It must move on to quell the rebellion elsewhere. And when it does, if the guerrillas have successfully melted away, they will reoccupy the community, town, or city, thus winning a strategic victory and ruling the local area until their next tactical defeat.
If they keep this up long enough and do it in enough places, they will eventually make the war too costly to pursue - and thus conceivably win the war without winning a battle.
Most important decisions are not made by generals
Because guerrilla war is decentralized, with local bands deciding where to place IEDs, when to use snipers, and which patrols or bases to attack, the struggle in different communities, provinces, or regions takes very different forms.
Many insurgents in Fallujah chose to stand and fight, while those in Tal Afar, near the Syrian border, decided to evacuate the city with its civilian population when the American military approached in strength. In Shi'ite areas, members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army chose to join the local police and turn it to their purposes; but Sunni insurgents have tried, instead, to disarm the local police and then disband the force. In every city and town, the strategy of the resistance has been different.
The latest American military strategists are arguing that what they call the "mosaic nature of an insurgency" implies the necessity of giving autonomy to local American commanders to "adapt as quickly as the insurgents". But such decentralization cannot work if the local population supports the insurgent goal of expelling the occupiers.
Given autonomy under such circumstances, lower-level US military officers may decide that annihilating a home suspected of sheltering an insurgent is indeed counterproductive; such decisions, however, humane, would now come far too late to convince a local population that it should abandon its support of a campaign seen as essential to national independence.
There may have been a time, back when the invasion began, that the US could have adopted a strategy that would have made it welcome - for a time, anyway - in Iraq. Such a strategy, as the military theorists flatly state, would have had to deliver a "vibrant economy, political participation and restored hope".
Instead, the occupation delivered economic stagnation or degradation, a powerless government and the promise of endless violence. Given this reality, no new military strategy - however humane, canny or well designed - could reverse the occupation's terminal unpopularity. Only a US departure might do that.
Paradoxically, the policies these military strategists are now trying to reform have ensured that, however much most Iraqis may want such a departure, it would be, at best, bittersweet. The legacy of sectarian violence and the near-irreversible destruction wrought by the American presence make it unlikely that they would have the time or inclination to take much satisfaction in the end of the American occupation.
Michael Schwartz, professor of sociology and faculty director of the undergraduate college of global studies at Stony Brook University, has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency, as well as on American business and government dynamics. His books include Radical Protest and Social Structure, and Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda (edited, with Clarence Lo). His email address is
(Copyright 2006 Michael Schwartz)
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #9 on:
October 18, 2006, 11:24:17 AM »
Ralph Peters is almost always right on IMHO.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #10 on:
October 21, 2006, 11:41:51 PM »
U.S.: Al Qaeda and the U.S. Midterm Elections
With U.S. midterm elections set for Nov. 7, some observers are speculating about the possibility of an al Qaeda attempt to influence the outcome by staging a major attack on U.S. soil or against U.S. interests overseas. Although another al Qaeda attack can never be ruled out, the jihadist network is unlikely to stage one for the purpose of influencing this election -- largely because such a timed attack would not serve its purposes.
Al Qaeda's overall strategy against the United States is to force Washington to expend as many resources as possible to fight the jihadists -- which ostensibly would prove the network's long-stated charge that the United States is at war against Islam in general. By keeping the United States overextended across the globe, al Qaeda hopes to stretch the U.S. economy to the breaking point -- essentially to bleed the United States dry. The massive U.S. military commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan serves this strategy. The longer U.S. troops stay in the Middle East and Central Asia, the more al Qaeda perceives this strategy as working.
Should an attack before the election further erode public confidence in the Bush administration and its policies, the United States could become less willing to commit itself as heavily around the world. Therefore, staging an attack to influence this election would not serve al Qaeda's strategy of keeping the U.S. overextended. From al Qaeda's perspective, the longer the current administration remains in power -- using pre-emptive force and waging its war against militant Islam globally -- the better.
Although more Americans continue to believe the Republicans are better able than the Democrats to deal with the U.S.-jihadist war, the number has declined in the two years since the presidential election. An attack now could be interpreted as an indication that the Bush administration has mismanaged the war against militant Islam in the five years since 9/11, and that President George W. Bush's policies, particularly invading Iraq and inspiring widespread anti-U.S. sentiment among Muslims and Washington's allies, have made the United States less -- not more -- secure.
An attack before the elections could strengthen opposition to Bush and his party, and increase the demand for an end to U.S. involvement in Iraq. A U.S. departure from Iraq, however, would not serve al Qaeda's strategy of bleeding the United States dry. Although this election will not affect the duration of the current administration, a shift to a Democratic-controlled Congress could impede its programs and the war effort via the purse strings.
Al Qaeda has tried to influence elections before, but not on a legislative level. The 2004 attacks by an al Qaeda-linked cell against commuter trains in Madrid caused former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's ruling Popular Party to lose. His successor, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, subsequently made good on his campaign pledge to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. In October 2004, bin Laden did refer to the U.S. presidential election in a video statement, although that election determined whether leadership of the government would change hands.
Although al Qaeda would have no incentive to manipulate the midterm elections, the organization does have a need to prove that it remains a strong enough force to pull off a major attack against the United States. This is evident in the foiled plots since 9/11, such as the Library Tower plot, the al-Hindi cell's financial centers plot and the London liquid explosives plot directed against U.S. airliners, as well as plots involving Richard Reid and Jose Padilla. Historically, major al Qaeda attacks on a scale similar to 9/11 have been staged based on operational considerations, not on whether they were likely to influence contemporary events.
With intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world actively hunting for al Qaeda operatives and attacking the jihadist network wherever it can be found, the al Qaeda operational considerations for an attack are even more important than timing it to coincide with an election. If there is a major attack currently in the works, it probably was not conceived with the U.S. midterm elections in mind.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #11 on:
October 22, 2006, 12:25:31 AM »
Second post of the evening:
The Challenge of Unrestricted Warfare - A Look Back and a Look Ahead
By Kevin Coleman
(Jan 11, 2006)
Let's take a trip back in time. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in the spring of 2003. Their sole mission focuses on protecting the United States from threats on the domestic front. So, how well have they done? Excluding the Katrina abomination, DHS has had a very successful year. The most critical measure of their success is, of course, the presence or absence of domestic terrorist attacks. When you use that as the measure, it has been a great year for the DHS. There were no major attacks on U.S. soil and only a handful of minor incidents were reported.
Even though DHS was successful in preventing domestic terrorist attacks, that does not mean that 2005 was a total success for DHS and their battle to keep all of us safe from terrorism. Domestic intelligence and surveillance are critical to prosecuting the war on terrorism. The multiple leaks of information that have taken place regarding classified programs have the entire intelligence community deeply concerned. It is unclear how the publicizing of this information has and will affect the efforts of DHS. It is difficult for people outside the security and intelligence communities to comprehend just how significantly we are exposed because of the lack of confidence in the ability of the government to keep classified data and programs secret. This is a challenge that must be addressed if DHS is to be successful in keeping us safe from the threats we face today.
DHS is combating a threat that is significantly different from any faced throughout history. The nature of conflict has changed. In order to understand the challenges DHS faces, you must first understand the evolving concept of Unrestricted Warfare (URW). Many of you may not be familiar with this term. When examining DHS closely, you begin to see that there are significant issues and challenges that must be addressed immediately. One core challenge is to recognize the significant differences in the threats we have faced in the past, the reality of the threats we face currently, and the threats we will face in the future. It is not just attacks from terrorist and radical nation states that pose threats.
The U.S. faces a new threat environment unlike any we have previously experienced. This multi-faceted threat has several unique characteristics in addition to a highly dynamic environment that seems to change on a daily, if not hourly, basis. These changes in traditional conflicts were recognized and given the name "Unrestricted Warfare." Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui of China first identified this new style of conflict in their book, Unrestricted Warfare. They were the first to voice concerns about the use of unconventional attacks. This book was written in 1999, three years before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. These concepts were further expanded by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and have been discussed within the Department of Defense.
Awareness of this multi-faceted threat is growing. Much more attention is being given to threat analysis and to new strategies and technologies needed to address this threat. In March of this year, The Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory and Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies are sponsoring a Symposium on Meeting the Unrestricted Warfare Threat. However, the nature of the URW threat mandates new tactics, approaches, and a new mindset in the effort to combat this threat. The U.S. must adopt a new National Security Strategy that is designed based on the unique attributes of URW.
High Level Attributes Comparison
Surprise attacks Declaration of war
Ill-defined field of battle Battle field with defined boundaries
Obscure targets Definable targets
Multi-faceted battlefronts Military battlefronts
Highly dynamic Low dynamics
What it takes to be successful in the era of Unrestricted Warfare is radically different than that which determined success in asymmetric warfare. When we look at conflict, we tend to look at land, sea and air combat. URW is different. The physical aspects of conflict are obscured. The battlefield now includes the minds of people.
The threats we face represent a new way of thinking about conflict and warfare. It is a battle for the minds of individuals, as well as for influence over culture, values and beliefs. With this dramatic change in the essence of the threats we face, the impact on the way we secure our country and wage war will be equally as significant.
Multiple aspects of life are attacked in an effort to influence and bring about change rather than focusing on attacking life itself. These tactics include disruption in the way of life and destruction of cultural symbols that are core to the opponent's way of life.
The Fourteen Facets of URW
Economic aid warfare
Illegal drugs warfare
Information and media warfare
Telecommunication and network warfare
It is important to note that traditional forms of warfare will not disappear anytime soon. Most likely, any conflict will include tradition and URW techniques. In this context, nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons fall under the definition of traditional warfare.
Let's look at each of these fourteen areas of URW and assess the risk, potential impact, current defense capabilities, and magnitude of change required to address the threat. Using Trans-disciplinary Intelligence Engineering (TIE) techniques I have used in past DHS scenario development and risk analysis, I created the following high-level threat matrix. A numeric value between 1 (or low) and 5 (or high) has been assigned to each evaluation aspect within the matrix. It is important to keep in mind that this is based on the estimated capabilities, motivation, and resources of our adversaries in each of the fourteen facets of URW. This is, of course, based on open source intelligence and does not reflect any classified intelligence.
This is global warfare in the age of technology and information. Creating the capacity to address these threats is arguably the biggest challenge for DHS. Our defenses must be transformed to meet the threat of URW. Perhaps the area that will experience the most time-critical change is that of global intelligence. For the most part, every one of these types of warfare can be planned and launched from anywhere in the world. When all we had to worry about was conventional warfare, the intelligence community concentrated their efforts on a handful of countries. They knew the major suppliers of weapons and monitored them. They also created early warning and surveillance systems to alert them to an attack. They do not have the same capabilities with respect to URW. The information sources required to defend against URW necessitate significant business knowledge and intelligence. This requires collaboration. Previously, the intelligence community operated independently. In URW, they will need a strategic partnership with the private sector.
The change in almost every aspect of conflict and warfare creates the need to redefine success. There is no switch that, when flipped, ends the war- no single battle that brings the conflict to an end.
Winning = Mindset Change Winning = Overpowering Force and Power
Measured by Influence Measured by Control
A critical success factor will be the ability of the U.S. federal government to educate the masses on the new reality of unrestricted warfare and what changes are necessary to safeguard our way of life.
As we explore URW, our understanding of these threats will continue to evolve. With this evolution comes change. At issue is the fact that there is a limited amount of change that can be absorbed by any individual, group, or organization. When the amount of change exceeds the ability of an individual, group, or organization to adapt, it creates resistance and delays in transformation. Delays are unacceptable in this venue.
This is a battle for the minds of people. Winning the minds of people brings with it power and influence. To win the minds of a targeted audience requires capabilities that are not in our current complement of weapons. We must create new capabilities, like "Digital Warriors," to combat the threat of electronic warfare and information weapons. In addition, our arsenal requires reengineering of our global intelligence resources. New intelligence sources, expansion of our intelligence gathering capabilities, and closer cooperation between intelligence organizations around the world are just a few of the changes required to address these new threats.
For these reasons, technology will become even more important. Just consider the vast amount of intelligence required to monitor specific threats along the 14 facets of URW. Given that backdrop, consider the significant amount of information about what we call the 5Ws (who - what- where- when "? why) about specific plots and clandestine efforts to wage URW. Then dive down to the next level of detail, the data supporting the 5Ws. You begin to consider the time and location based intelligence maps that will need to be created in near real time to defend against these threats. The database, GIS, visualization and other requirements will drive the advancement of information technology for decades to come. We are truly moving from Guns, Guards and Gates to Information, Intelligence and Integration as the deciding factor in the conflicts yet to come.
In the coming year, this column will focus on the fourteen facets of URW. We will examine the threats, challenges, and technologies that need to be deployed to fight this type of war. This article will also serve as a foundation for understanding the remaining three parts of counter-terrorism for corporations and why business is such a critical component in our war on terrorism as well as the other 13 facets of unrestricted warfare.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #12 on:
October 22, 2006, 01:06:33 AM »
That's an outstanding article!
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #13 on:
October 22, 2006, 05:42:12 AM »
Folks, I think he is giving my tail a yank because it comes from a post he made on another forum
But I must go to post on another thread , , , another article posted elsewhere by GM
More seriously now, GM, I like a lot of what you post , , , elsewhere but am too impatient to wait to find out if you are going to post ones that I particularly like here.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #14 on:
October 22, 2006, 06:43:58 AM »
As I didn't write the vast majority of what I post elsewhere, or here I hardly have any ownership over it. It's often from a variety of blogs I read daily and numerous news feeds. If you like what you see, please feel free to grab it. Especially if it is something I actually wrote. I don't post everything here?I post elsewhere because there is a bit of a different feel here and I don't want to disrupt the ecosystem.
Last Edit: October 22, 2006, 07:28:16 AM by G M
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #15 on:
October 22, 2006, 07:22:53 AM »
The Adventure continues!
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #16 on:
October 23, 2006, 06:14:12 AM »
A Blueprint for Victory
By Andrew McCarthy and Herbert London
The Washington Times | October 23, 2006
In 2004, Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of the Al-Arabiya news channel, courageously wrote, "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims."
It is simply incontestable that the vast majority of terrorist acts are committed by Muslims who unabashedly claim Islamic scripture impels them. We are in the throes of an ideological war, and it would be grossly irresponsible to continue ignoring the patent nexus between radical Islam and terror.
It is a sad reality that radicalism is actually mainstream in much of the Islamic world. This is due primarily to the refusal of many Muslims -- not just Muslim terrorists but millions of Muslims -- to accept the cardinal principles of enlightened liberty and democracy.
One need not merely infer this. Explicit proof is abundant in both Sunni and Shi'ite Islam. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's highest Shi'ite authority -- and recipient of high praise by administration officials -- maintains that non-Muslims should be considered in the same category as "urine, feces, semen, dead bodies, blood, dogs, pigs, alcoholic liquors," and "the sweat of an animal who persistently eats [unclean things]." Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in Egypt, the highest Sunni authority, instructs that Jews are "enemies of Allah [and] descendants of apes and pigs," views he expressly attributes to the Koran.
This dehumanizing hatred has been turned against our nation. Mustafa Zakri, a member of parliament in Egypt (the recipient of $2 billion a year in U.S. largess), has asserted that "America is the head of the serpent, and the greatest enemy, which we must confront." In Yemen, a judge recently dismissed charges against 19 terrorists who joined with al Qaeda in fighting U.S. forces in Iraq, reasoning that Islamic law sanctions jihad against occupiers of Muslim lands.
In newly liberated Afghanistan, the government attempted to put a man to death for the "crime" of converting from Islam to another religion, a capital offense under Islamic law. In Iraq, homosexuals are executed in Shi'ite-controlled areas -- consistent with a fatwa from the Ayatollah al-Sistani.
Meanwhile, Iran, nearing a confrontation with the West over its nuclear program, has developed a missile called "Zelzad 1." Its namesake is a Koranic verse that tells of a conflagration which precipitates Judgment Day. The missile is emblazoned with the slogan: "We will trample America under our feet. Death to America."
We believe that being in denial about Islamic militancy profoundly compromises U.S. national security. Our system's toleration of religious belief does not immunize religions from criticisms of the tenets or practices of those belief systems. This is particularly true when the criticized practices, though rhetorically labeled "religion," are actually elements of an imperialistic social system antithetical to equality, liberty, separation of church and state, and other core Western values.
Activist efforts to limit America's free marketplace of ideas -- such as the tactic of slandering commonsense criticism as "Islamophobia" -- are contrary to the very foundation of democratic governance. The West cannot cure Islam's propensity to spawn radicalism; this is a matter only Muslims can address. But we must do whatever is necessary to protect our liberty and security.
Since the United States is in the midst of a long war for the survival of our way of life, the following steps should immediately be taken:
Congress should enact legislation stating forthrightly that our enemy in the ongoing war is radical Islam.
Immigration from and aid to Muslim countries should be drastically reduced. Upward adjustments should be contingent on measurable reforms that promote liberty while reducing the role of religion in politics. (Provision should be made for asylum for reformers.)
Any Muslim foreign national who will not concede under oath that American law must be followed in the U.S. when it conflicts with Islamic law should be subject to exclusion or deportation.
It should be made clear that a person's status as a Muslim (particularly if he is also a male under age 45 who is a citizen of a country with a substantial Islamic population) is palpably relevant to investigations of terrorist threats. To do otherwise wastes finite investigative resources and challenges the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness requirement by treating all Americans as if they were potential Islamic radicals.
Mosques in the U.S. have been used by Islamic radicals to spread their ideology, as hubs for terror recruitment and paramilitary training, and even for storage and transfer of weapons. While the war ensues, it should be made clear that the FBI and other authorities do not require a criminal predicate to collect intelligence or conduct investigations. Mosques in which violence or unlawful activity is encouraged should be subject to forfeiture and loss of tax-exempt status.
Rigorous examination should be required for certification of Islamic chaplains in the military and the federal and state prison systems.
Congress should create a National Security Court with jurisdiction over terrorism and other national security matters. Alleged alien-terrorists should be designated unlawful enemy combatants (apprehended either inside or outside the U.S.) and be accorded the minimal rights required by American due process standards. Removing their cases from the civilian and military courts will increase the quality of justice in those systems.
With radical Islamic sentiment gaining traction in oil-rich nations, it is imperative that U.S. energy independence become a national priority. Congressional action must be taken to remove the onerous legal and regulatory barriers to the construction and expansion of refineries, production of oil and gas from offshore wells, construction of gas pipelines and other energy transportation infrastructure, and the building of power plants, including alternative generation sources such as solar stations, wind farms, tar sands, nuclear power plants, etc.
Treaty obligations, alliances with other countries and membership in international organizations need to be consistent with national goals. Where they have become obsolete or harmful, they must be reshaped or eliminated.
The 20th century was filled with massive assaults on liberty by totalitarian aggressors who questioned the resolve of the defenders of liberty. This flawed assumption of weakness led to vast and unprecedented death and destruction. We make this statement in an attempt to diminish the chances of another such bloody miscalculation, and we pray that the rich benefits of the American model of government will gain a new appreciation around the world.
Santorum on the Storm, Part I
Reply #17 on:
October 26, 2006, 04:01:26 PM »
October 26, 2006, 0:26 p.m.
The Gathering Storm
An NRO Primary Document
Editor's note: This is the text of a speech Republican senator Rick Santorum is delivering around his state today and tomorrow.
This summer I gave two speeches that defined the unique challenges that confront the United States as we conduct a new world war. ?I gave those speeches-one in Washington at the National Press Club, and one here in Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Press Club-because I believe that now more than ever we need to study the past, learn from events, and take proactive measures to protect our freedoms at home and provide a safer world in which to exercise those freedoms.
I am here again today talking about this issue because Islamic Fascism continues to rear its ugly head. ?And because it is being joined by others, becoming a hydra.
The war is at our doorsteps, and it is fueled, figuratively and literally, by Islamic fascism, nurtured and bred in Iran.
Islamic terrorists planned a mass kidnapping at the Central Synagogue in Prague just a few weeks ago. They intended to carry it out on Rosh Hashanah, when large numbers of Jews would be celebrating the New Year. Once the world's attention was focused on Prague, they intended to make impossible demands, and then blow up the synagogue and all within.
Those people were not marked for death because they supported the war in Iraq, or supported George W. Bush, or sent troops to Afghanistan. They were targeted because they were guilty of being Jews. This is evil.
Islamic terrorists organized an assault on civilian aircraft leaving London, planning to blow up many planes over the North Atlantic. Two of the participants, a husband and wife, intended to take their six-month old baby on a plane with them, and blow him up along with everyone else on board. This is evil.
Islamic terrorists slaughter innocent Iraqi citizens every day. A man in Baghdad recently called his daughter in America to say that "once upon a time, garbage trucks went through the streets to collect refuse. Now they collect beheaded bodies." Our enemies celebrate these massacres. They use videos of beheadings to recruit new members to their ranks. In recent days, they beheaded an Orthodox priest and crucified a teen-age boy, both guilty of Christianity. This is evil.
Somalia's interim president has appealed for international help in dealing with a powerful Islamist movement that now controls all of southern and central Somalia, a country of enormous strategic importance in guaranteeing oil shipping in the Gulf. The State Department concurs that the risk is very real, especially because Osama bin Laden listed Somalia as a target in al Qaeda's war against the West. Our Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs says that "Somalia is a safe haven for terrorists...."
Kuwait has just uncovered an Iranian-created network of sleeper cells trained in espionage and sabotage. Many of them were trained in Iran itself and then infiltrated into the Shi'ite community of Kuwait, which is about half the population;
How many Americans realize that Iran declared war on us 27 years ago - in 1979 - and has been killing Americans ever since? ?
Most everybody has heard by now that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust and called for Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth. But that's only the beginning of his mission. He continued with a rhetorical question: "Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?" He answered himself: "But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved."
He is only the latest in a series of Iranian leaders who have vowed death to us and visited death upon us. Our troops in Iraq are killed by Iranian weapons paid for with Iranian money, smuggled into Iraq by Iranian logistics, and utilized by Iranian-trained terrorists. A couple of years ago you needed a security clearance to know this. Today it is common knowledge. Iran is the centerpiece of the assault against us and the other countries in the civilized world, which is why I fought so hard for passage of the Iran Freedom and Support Act.
I fought for it, and, after years of opposition from the Democrats, some of my own colleagues, the State Department and even the White House, it is now law.
I fought for it because I do not want my children to suffer through devastating attacks on American soil, and to risk their own lives in the battle against those who brazenly tell us they are planning to destroy what they call Anglo-Saxon civilization - and we call freedom.
This is an unpopular war. ?I have been ridiculed by the media and my opponents for defining the enemy Islamic fascism - they say words don't matter. But words do matter because words are what define the enemy we confront. ?Words are needed for Americans to comprehend what motivates the deeds that the enemy is planning, so we can effectively defeat them. And defeat them we must.
Ahmadinejad has recruited and is training 52000 suicide terrorists called the Commando of Voluntary Martyrs. An Iranian Revolutionary Guard intelligence officer bragged that "We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization and for the uprooting of the Americans and English ... There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and the West. ?We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them."
Our growing challenge, however, is that Iran is not alone in its rhetoric, intent or capacity to threaten the security of the U.S.
It is important for Americans to know that the threat is more complex, and has grown more complex. ?The enemy that has to be named is greater than Islamic Fascism.
Just last month, in advance of the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, Iran, Syria, North Korea and more than 100 other nations met in Cuba to discuss a push to broaden the world's definition of terrorism to include the "U.S. occupation" of Iraq and the "Israeli invasion" of Lebanon. ?Participating countries drafted a declaration condemning Israel but made no comments about Hezbollah's missile attacks on Israel.
Following this meeting of the non-aligned movement, I introduced a Senate resolution that expressed concern relating to the threatening behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the ideological alliance that exists between the countries of Cuba and Venezuela. We must support the people of Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela in the quest to achieve a truly democratic form of government.
North Korea's nuclear test made it clear that it threat is not made of mere words. ?They are now intensifying real military confrontation. ?When the U.N. resolution condemned the nuclear test, North Korea called it "a declaration of a war" and threatened the United States: "we will deliver merciless blows without hesitation to whoever tries to breach our sovereignty and right to survive under the excuse of carrying out the U.N. Security Council resolution."
North Korea, the world's leading missile proliferator, and Iran are on the verge of starting nuclear arms races in both Asia and the Middle East - both hubs of terrorist networks that reach around the world - which could easily result in nuclear material, perhaps even a weapon, ending up in the hands of a terrorist organization.
But it's not just terrorist organizations we should fear. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies the holocaust and called Israel just last week "illegitimate" and "could not survive," said he plans on using "the technical factor" to augment "national security."
Ahmadinejad , like Hitler and Mussolini, intends to conquer the world. ?This is not a hidden agenda. His goal is to establish a Caliphate. ?Like Khrushchev, he wants a nuclear arsenal, and he is building the same sort of frightening global alliances that enabled the Soviet Union to put missiles near us.
Look again at the Iranians' strategy. A couple of months ago Ahmadinejad signed a mutual defense pact with his pal, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Two dictators, awash in petrodollars, and besotted with hatred for the United States.
President Chavez, who called President Bush "a devil" at the podium of the U.N., spoke to the applause of those in attendance as he decried America. ?Calling America an "imperialist power," he says his ambition is to become leader of global alliance of nations to "radically oppose the violent pressure that the (American) empire exercises." ?This summer Chavez honored Ahmadinejad at a gala and plans to visit North Korea, at which an "oil-for-missiles deal" may be on the agenda.
The same North Korea that has been building nuclear weapons to put on missiles that can reach our soil.
Did you know that Venezuela is the leading buyer of arms and military equipment in the world today? Did you know that Chavez is building an army of more than a million soldiers and the most potent air force in South America-the largest Spanish-speaking armed force in history?
Did you know that Venezuela will shortly spend thirty billion dollars to build twenty military bases in neighboring Bolivia, which will dominate the borders with Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil? The bases will be commanded by Venezuelan and Cuban officers. This is what the brilliant Carlos Alberto Montaner-a survivor of Castro's bloody regime-calls "a delirious vision of history," and it is driven by a new alliance of dictators from Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.
It is part of the grand design so proudly announced by Ahmadinejad: the destruction of our civilization.
And the sad irony is, we are dependent on the very people who hate us. ?American imports 60% of the oil we need to fuel our economy. ?We are underwriting their efforts to undermine us. ?
Venezuela is our fourth largest supplier of oil. ?President Chavez called oil "a geopolitical weapon" and said "I could easily order the closing of the refineries that we have in the United States. ?I could easily sell the oil that we sell to the United States to other countries of the world ... to real friends and allies like China."
A recent Congressional report found that Hezbollah may, right now, have established bases in Venezuela, a country which has issued thousands of visas to people from places like Cuba and the Middle East, possibly giving them passports to evade U.S. border security.
To make matters worse, Cuba and China, with help from Venezuela, are together exploring and drilling for oil only 50 miles off the US coast. ?50 miles off our coast. ?In an interview on Al-Jazeera, Chavez said working with Cuba is an example of how they will "use oil in our war against neoliberalism." ?
Radical environmentalists and my opponent won't let us drill 100 miles off our coast, but dictators who hate us are drilling for American oil just 50 miles offshore. ?Does this make any sense?
And my opponent is sleepwalking into the gathering storm, siding with the left to ban drilling off our coast and banning oil drilling in an area in Alaska no bigger than the Philadelphia airport.
If we really understood the threat at hand, we would not be fighting with one hand tied behind our backs.
We have forgotten our history. ?We have been here before.
We only entered the First World War after German U-boats sank American civilian and commercial ships on the North Atlantic. World War I was "the war to end war," and with the defeat of the German armies, it seemed that peace was destined to last a long time. But it did not last even one generation. It did not last because we failed to recognize the evil of fascism, and because we allowed the fascists to grow stronger and stronger, until they felt capable of defeating us.
We left Great Britain alone to face the Nazis for several years, and despite the Mussolini's entrance, we only engaged in the Second World War after the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. ?Germany, Italy and Japan. ?They had nothing in common, so we weren't willing to see the axis of evil gathering around us.
We entered the Cold War only after Stalin's aggression in the Middle East and Greece. In every case the evil was obvious, the threat indisputable, but the willingness to confront was in every case late and prohibitively costly. Are we willing to see the storm gathering around us and act before it is too late? ?Was 9-11 not enough? ?Have our memories faded? Or will it take something even more devastating?
When Winston Churchill wrote his great history of the Second World War, he began the first volume-"The Gathering Storm"? with a short description: "How the English-speaking peoples through their unwisdom, carelessness, and good nature allowed the wicked to rearm."
We were part of that moment of folly, and we paid a terrible price for it on the battlefields of that war. We are running the same risk today, and we are again acting carelessly, unwisely and we are permitting the wicked to grow stronger and stronger.
Just as we refused to recognize we were at war with a great evil, the European fascists and Japanese imperialists in the late nineteen thirties, so today we shrink from the recognition that we are once again under attack from evil forces - Islamic fascists led by Iran, and the Socialist and Communist rulers of Venezuela and North Korea.
Ahmadinejad is often treated as if he were a stand-up comedian on a late night TV show, some wacko character from far away who really doesn't affect us. This is a way of avoiding the life and death challenge of the war.
We have seen it before. Hitler and Mussolini were also ridiculed-the house painter with the funny moustache, and the bald guy with the fat neck-until the bombs fell in Hawaii and hundreds of thousands of Americans died in Nikita Khrushchev was ridiculed as a peasant who pounded his shoe on the table at the United Nations, until Soviet nuclear missiles showed up in Cuba, less than a hundred miles from our shores. Then we realized he wasn't so funny.
Santorum on the Storm, Part II
Reply #18 on:
October 26, 2006, 04:02:07 PM »
This is not funny business.
Many Americans are sleepwalking, just as they did before the world wars of the last century. ?They pretend it is not happening, that it all has to do with the errors of a single American administration, even of a single American president. Some even pretend that it will all go away if only the Democrat Party-including my opponent who did not even know the name of the former Iranian president whose presence kicked up a firestorm a few weeks ago by coming to America-is elected in November.
How do they propose to save us from these people? By negotiating at the United Nations? By removing U.N. Ambassador John Bolton office? By relocating American forces from Iraq to Okinawa? By abandoning the Iraqi people to Iranian and Syrian slaughter and domination? ?By engaging in more direct talks with a nuclear North Korea?
No wonder Mr. Casey won't say anything about the danger from North Korea's nuclear bombs. ?He can't. He has virtually nothing to say. Except he does have something to say about preparing to defend ourselves against North Korea. ?He told the Council for a Livable World he opposes building nuclear bunker buster weapons and would halt deployment of national missile defense until, quote, "further research proves the system will work."
Time for research is past. ?North Korea has been building nuclear weapons to put on missiles that can reach our soil.
It's time to wake up.
Mr. Casey said that "the U.S. should not escalate the drive to place weapons in space and should seek an international ban on such weaponry." ?I hate to break the news to you, but Iran and North Korea are already escalating things.
My opponent and the anti-war left seems more worried about the tactics we use to catch the terrorists than about the terrorists themselves. ?They want to "investigate" the NSA surveillance program that, thank God, has allowed us to listen in on calls coming from known terrorists abroad.
I think people are indeed concerned, and they are right to be concerned. ?About our enemies. ?Americans are concerned when they learn that ten flights from Britain to America were targeted by Islamic fascists just last month, and, had it not been for the British surveillance, they might have succeeded.
Let me tell you, Mr. Casey, people are concerned when Venezuela is harboring terrorists, many of whom will penetrate our border because of the amnesty bill you support, that puts amnesty before security.
You said you would have voted for the war, but now you say you would vote against it. ?You said we weren't misled, but now you say that we were lied to.
You are sleepwalking into a nightmare.
It's time to wake up. ?
From everything I can see, Mr. Casey is unready, unqualified for the high office he seeks at a time when our survival as a free people is at stake.
He is one of many Americans sleepwalking in this nightmare. These horrors no longer shock us as they did on 9/11. They have become part of the background noise of our world. Some even blame our own leaders rather than the savages who do the killing. But I believe that Pennsylvanians are awakening to this threat, and can send a message to the nation and our enemies.
It's time to stop dreaming and start acting. ?We have to bring the fight to our enemies, and that means we have to do a lot more than respond to their attacks in Iraq. We must go after the regimes that recruit, pay, train and arm terrorists. I am not-NOT-talking about sending more American troops onto foreign battlefields, or even dropping precision bombs from safe altitudes. I am talking about political and economic warfare, to bring down the terror regimes in Tehran and Damascus. The best way to do that is to support their own people, most of whom are eager for freedom.
That is why I drafted legislation that commits America to support freedom in Iran. A free Iran will be our friend, not an implacable enemy. We know that is true, because public opinion polls taken by the regime itself show that more than seventy percent of Iranians want to choose their own system of government and elect their own leaders.
And we know it is true because the Iranian regime is frantically trying to isolate the Iranian people from contact with the free world. Satellite dishes are torn down, dissidents are arrested, tortured and executed. High speed internet is banned. Surviving vestiges of a free press are shut down. Those are the actions of a regime that fears its people, and knows that the desire for freedom can destroy the Islamic fascist tyranny.
A free Iran will change the world, because it will deprive the terrorists of their single greatest source of support, and isolate the likes of Hugo Chavez and Kim Jong 'il. Why is a free Iran and Iraq so essential? ?Because the United States nor any western country will be able on its own to defeat radical Islamic fascism. ?We must create an environment where moderate Islam - whether Sunni or Shi'ia or any other strain - combats and suppresses its radical elements. ?I believe the best way to accomplish this is through democratic self rule.
And although Iran is at the center of this Islamic fascist mosaic, our engagement must be focused closer to home as well.
Just as we have seen our neighbors' economies grow as well as our own - we need to work diligently to forge free trade agreements with other countries, as we have seen impressive results with free trade agreements in Israel, Canada, Mexico, Jordan, Singapore, Chile, Australia, Bahrain, and Morocco. Our current partnerships with these countries account for more than $900 billion in two-way trade, which is about 36 percent of total U.S. trade with the world. U.S. exports with FTA partner countries are growing twice as fast as U.S. exports to countries that do not have agreements with the U.S.
As Chavez works to create an anti-American alliance, we have to be even more diligent in protecting our homeland.
We should support immediate programmatic additions to U.S. missile defenses in order to carry out critical national security objectives. ?I agree with Congressman Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, that we should be capable of addressing the "full range of North Korean missile-based threats to the United States, our deployed forces, and our allies."
We must also pursue energy security. Alongside the political pressure on the Iranians and their allies, we must also stop funding Iran and Venezuela, which is what happens whenever we buy a barrel of their oil. We need to use our own energy resources more effectively, and we must find other fuels.
This is why I have fought, again, against the administration, for funding for a coal-to liquid-fuels plant here in Pennsylvania to both clean up the environment and make us more energy secure. ?$100 million dollars, here in our own state, to pioneer our way to independence.
That is why I wrote the Empower America Act, which calls for investments of more than $20 billion for research and development, loan guarantees, and grants to create, produce and distribute renewable fuels, cleaner coal, and nuclear energy. It extends tax incentives for the production of renewable energy and alternative fuels, and also for hybrid vehicles.
One of my opponent's favorite talking points is that "we can't drill ourselves out of our energy dependence."
Let me say to Mr. Casey, and his sound bite driven sleepwalking colleagues; the gathering storm demands it. ?We have no choice. ?Our men and women in uniform are laboring, sacrificing and dying to protect our homeland, we have no choice. ?We have no choice but to explore every form of American energy that can make use independent and secure. ?We are drilling 3700 wells in western Pennsylvania, including one of the sites of next year's U.S. Open Golf Tournament, and you won't allow less than 1000 wells over 25 years, in a place no one lives?
My bill permits environmentally sensitive production of our own energy resources on the outer continental shelf and on the coastal plain of ANWR. And it encourages the construction of new refineries and expands existing ones, along with biorefineries and additional coal-to-liquid facilities to meet our current needs for motor fuels and enables us to grow in the future.
There are many other things that need to be done in this war, but none of them will happen unless we come to grips with the terrible fact that we are at war, it came to us and it will be with us for some time. There is no way to escape it, no matter what our policies, and whoever our elected representatives are. There is no escape because our enemies are fully committed to our destruction, and they will not stop until they have either destroyed us, or have been destroyed.
That is our choice: we can win or lose, but we cannot opt out walk away from the greatest threat and most resistant threat this country has ever faced.
That is why I have spent so much time talking about the war during this campaign. It is why I have fought heart and soul to pass legislation that will hurt our enemies and strengthen our country. If you reelect me, I will press ahead with all my strength and passion, and you will know that you have a United States Senator who sees the world as it is and will fight for our security - rather than repeat slogans written for him by consultants.
This is not a time for politicians who think the world stops at the Delaware River.
Osama bin Laden said "In the final phase of the ongoing struggle, the world of the infidels was divided between two superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. ?Now we have defeated and destroyed the more difficult and the more dangerous of the two. ?Dealing with the pampered and effeminate Americans will be easy."
Let me tell you. ?With the right leadership, he's got a surprise ahead. ?It won't be easy at all. ?It is a time for leadership to confront the gathering storm, and to defend the people of this state and this nation against terrible enemies. The stakes are too high to sleepwalk. ?I hope you will join me in this fight. ?And God bless America
National Review Online -
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #19 on:
November 02, 2006, 11:19:39 AM »
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #20 on:
November 10, 2006, 09:14:31 AM »
I hadn't realized that the "axis of evil" speech came after Iran helped us in Afg.
Iran the key in US change on Iraq
By Trita Parsi
WASHINGTON - With the Democrats taking control of the US Congress and Donald Rumsfeld being replaced as defense secretary by Robert Gates, Washington has new avenues to resolve its many problems with Iran.
The key to the elections - and to Iran - is Iraq. In light of the soon-to-be published Iraq Study Group (ISG) report, it is increasingly clear that headway can be made neither on Iraq nor on the
nuclear standoff with Iran unless the two are linked.
The victory of the Democrats by taking both the House of Representatives and the Senate and the firing of Rumsfeld have shifted the balance between the pragmatists and the neo-conservatives in the administration of President George W Bush. Rumsfeld was closely allied with Vice President Dick Cheney in opposing every effort to open up diplomatic channels to Tehran.
According to Lawrence Wilkerson, former secretary of state Colin Powell's chief of staff, it was Cheney and Rumsfeld who made sure that Washington dismissed Iran's May 2003 offer to open up its nuclear program, rein in Hezbollah and cooperate against al-Qaeda. Rumsfeld was also a driving force behind using the Mujahideen-e Khalq, an Iranian terrorist organization opposed to the ruling clerics, to weaken Tehran.
Gates, however, belongs to a different school of Republican foreign-policy thinking. Gates' entrance and the Republican leadership's exit have created a precious opportunity to change the course on Iraq - and on Iran. For years, the Bush administration has pursued a maximalist policy based on rejecting any links between the Iranian nuclear program and the many other areas where the US and Iran clash. By refusing any linkages, the Bush White House has aimed to gain maximum concessions from Iran in all areas without ever having to reciprocate or offer any concessions in return.
This was clearly seen in Afghanistan, where Bush's envoy opened up talks with Iran to coordinate efforts to dispose the Taliban regime. Bush's intentions were purely tactical - accept Iranian help in Afghanistan without permitting the cooperation to lead to a shift in attitude toward Iran. The Iranians, on the other hand, were hoping that their assistance in Afghanistan would have strategic implications with an entire new relationship between Tehran and Washington as the ultimate outcome.
Once Iran's help in Afghanistan was no longer deemed necessary, Washington's approach to Tehran cooled significantly, much thanks to the influence of Rumsfeld. Only weeks after the Bonn Conference in December 2001 where Tehran's assistance was crucial in finding a compromise among Afghanistan's many warlords, Bush put Iran into the "axis of evil", along with Iraq and North Korea. Tehran's goodwill gestures were for naught.
"Iran made a mistake not to link its assistance in Afghanistan to American help in other areas and by just hoping that the US would reciprocate," said Javad Zarif, Iran's United Nations ambassador who was in charge of negotiations with Washington over Afghanistan.
The Bush administration's insistence on rejecting all forms of linkages has made a bad situation worse. On the one hand, the lesson of Afghanistan for Tehran has been to run a very hard bargain with the US where no help is offered for free. As a result, Washington has been left to deal with the deteriorating situation in Iraq by itself.
On the other hand, Washington's efforts to put a halt to Iran's nuclear program have run into a dead end. Washington has reduced US-Iran relations to a zero-sum game about enrichment. Either Iran has enrichment, or it doesn't. The Bush administration has not permitted any middle ground to exist in hopes that it could completely deprive Iran of all nuclear know-how.
But in this game of winner takes all, Iran has so far been winning. Washington has not even been able to get the UN Security Council to pass a resolution imposing travel restrictions on Iranian officials involved in Tehran's nuclear program.
Much indicates that the only way out of this dead end is to do what Bush and Rumsfeld have refused to do all along: link Iranian cooperation in Iraq to Washington's willingness to find a compromise on the nuclear issue, where enrichment will be seen as a continuous rather than a binary variable. The White House refused such linkages in the past, since it sought complete victories. Now, creating linkages is necessary to avoid complete defeats in both Iraq and in Iran.
James Baker's ISG has already paved the way for dealing with Iran over Iraq, though Bush is yet to sign off on the idea of linkage. Last month, Baker met with Javad Zarif at the Iranian ambassador's residence in New York. The meeting lasted three hours and was deemed very helpful by both sides. Baker was told that Iran would consider helping the US in Iraq if "Washington first changed its attitude towards Iran", a euphemism for the Bush administration's unwillingness to deal with Iran in a strategic manner.
While the political earthquakes in Washington have raised hope that a shift in both Iraq and Iran may be forthcoming, Bush is still the final decision-maker. Neither a Democratic Congress nor a pragmatist in charge of the Pentagon is likely to change the course on Iraq and Iran unless the president recognizes the reality on the ground - without Iran, the US cannot win in Iraq, and without linking Iraq to the nuclear issue, Tehran's services are not available.
Dr Trita Parsi is the author of Treacherous Triangle: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States (Yale University Press, 2007).
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #21 on:
November 10, 2006, 01:29:53 PM »
"I hadn't realized that the "axis of evil" speech came after Iran helped us in Afg."
Hopefully history will sort this out someday. Looks to me like Iran played some kind of dual role of helping and sabotaging our interests in Afghanistan and with AQ. Trita Parsi takes a cynical view that Iran was there for us and we backstabbed them; that may not be the final word. (Also, I don't see middle ground for Iran becoming a nuclear power.) Here is a Time magazine piece Feb 2002 exploring the question of including Iran in the 'axis of evil'.
"...But one complaint not mentioned by the administration may be evidence suggesting that Tehran may have helped senior Taliban and al Qaeda members escape from Afghanistan. An adviser to Heart warlord Ismail Khan told TIME that shortly before the U.S. bombing campaign began in October, a high-ranking Iranian official connected to the hard-line supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini had been dispatched to Kabul to offer secret sanctuary to Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives. The Iranian official was apparently trapped in Kabul during the bombing, and remained there until the Northern Alliance took control of the city. Although the Iranians despised the Taliban for their persecution of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan, their hatred for the U.S. may have run deeper.
And, according to sources in Herat, the Taliban and al Qaeda took the Iranians up on their offer.
Shortly before Herat's Taliban garrison fled in November, a convoy of 50 off-road vehicles carrying some 250 senior Taliban and al Qaeda members allegedly crossed over into Iran, using a smugglers' route through the hills about 20 miles north of the city. A Western diplomat in Afghanistan claims that groups of Taliban and al Qaeda are still threading their way through the mountains of central Afghanistan and heading for the Iranian border. "The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has an eye on everything that happens along the border," says the diplomat. "Of course they know that Taliban and al Qaeda fighters are getting across." Once inside Afghanistan, the al Qaeda and Taliban could slip over to the Gulf States through Bandar Abbas and other Iranian ports. Conventional wisdom in Herat, according to Ismail Khan's aides and also elders of the city's large Shiite community, is that Tehran hard-liners, especially within the Revolutionary Guards, have a different political agenda from President Khatami for the war in Afghanistan ? one they've been actively implementing to the benefit of the Taliban and al Qaeda." (end TIME quote)
Similar story, same time frame in BBC here:
Victor Davis Hanson (interesting) comments on Rumsfeld
Don't Blame Rumsfeld! [Victor Davis Hanson] Thurs am, 11/9/06
I don't see how removing the Secretary of Defense helps either the country or the Republicans, especially given the pre-election vote of confidence in his full tenure. He was on the right track reforming the military; the removal of the Taliban and the three-week victory over Saddam were inspired.
So we are down to his supposed responsibility for the later effort to stop the 3-year plus insurgency, whose denouement is not yet known. Rumsfeld's supposed error that drew such ire was troop levels, i.e., that he did not wish to repeat a huge presence in the manner of Vietnam, but sought to skip the 1964-1971 era morass, and go directly to the 1972-5 Vietnamization strategy of training troops, providing aid, and using air power.
I think he was right, and that most troops in Iraq today would agree. I was just talking to a Marine Lt. back from Haditha and Hit; his chief worry was not too few Americans, but rather Iraqi Security Forces insidiously expecting Americans to do their own security patrolling. Since sending in tens of thousands to do a Grozny-like smash-up is both politically impossible and antithetical to American policy, I don't see the advantage of more troops at all, especially when we will soon near 400,000 Iraqis in arms, which, together with coalition forces of ca. 150,000, would in theory provide 555,000?or more than the "peacetime" army of Saddam's. As a rule in history, it is not just the size, but the nature, rules of engagement, and mission, of armies that matter.
For the future, neither precipitous withdrawal nor a big build-up are the right solutions, the former will leave chaos, the latter will only ensure perpetual Iraqi dependency. As it is, there are too many support troops over in Iraq in compounds, who are not out with Iraqis themselves; more troops will only ensure an even bigger footprint and more USA-like enclaves. Abezaid, Casey, Petraeus, McMaster, etc. understand counter-insurgency and the need for a long-term commitment that marries political autonomy for the Iraqis with American aid, commandos, and air support. Rumsfeld supported them all.
A final note.Whatever Rumsfeld's past in the 1970s and 1980s, he wholeheartedly supported the present effort to offer the MIddle East something other than realpolitik. I don't see how the Reagan-Bush era 1980s and early 1990s policies in the Middle East?selling arms to Iran, putting troops in Lebanon and running when they were hit, cynically playing off Iran against Iraq, selling weapons to any thug in the Middle East, giving a blank check to the House of Saud, letting the Shiites and Kurds be massacred in February-March 1991?were anything other than precursors to the events of 9/11?when, of course, enhanced by the shameless Clintonian appeasement of the middle and late 1990s.
The return of the realists-Baker, Gates, and the former advisors to GB I-should prove an interesting mix with the Dean-Pelosi Democrats. The latter used to call for idealism in foreign policy, then got it with GWB's democratization, then turned on him, and now will get the realism that they currently profess to favor. Don't hold your breath.
Live with an Eye Open
Reply #22 on:
November 13, 2006, 09:37:02 AM »
The Worst Case
November 13th, 2006
?The problem, Mr. President, is people don?t believe we?re at war.? ? a law student speaking to George W. Bush
The 2006 midterm elections mark the worst defeat for the West since the opening of the War on Terror. What the Jihadis have not been able to accomplish in the field, the American political system has done for them.
Last Tuesday voters were attempting to vote away the war. Not simply the Iraq War, but the War on Terror in general. It?s an understandable reaction. For five years the people of this country have had to endure fear and anxiety of a kind they are utterly unused to. These tensions have become focused on Iraq, the most visible aspect of the overall conflict. People can recall a time, tantalizingly close, when things were otherwise. They are unable to face up to the fact that those day are gone for their lifetimes. They needed to strike out at someone. Unable to strike at the Jihadis, they struck at who m ever was closest.
Now the Democrats are in control of Congress, with the tacit implication that things will be different. Their actual plans are not at all clear. The danger is that they?ll act now just as irresponsibly as they did during earlier crises. Those of us old enough to remember the Democratic response to Vietnam in the 70s and Central America in the 80s have very little faith in claims of political maturity. (Particularly since the party?s progressive wing ? no less than 62 representatives ? is meeting with none other than George McGovern, the apostle of spinelessness, for the purpose of planning a complete withdrawal from Iraq ?by next June?.)
In both cases, the response was, not to put too fine a point on it, to cut and run. In Southeast Asia, cut and run resulted in the deaths of several million between the Cambodia Year Zero massacres and the flight of the Boat People from Vietnam. The Nicaraguans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans were luckier. The opposition ? disdainfully termed the ?Contras? by the American left ? held out until free elections took place, unseating the Sandinistas and ending the threat. (And here we have none other than Danny Ortega back in office! How?s that for a divine tap on the shoulder?)
But we can?t cut and run from the war on terror. The United States proper escaped scot-free from both previous efforts to evade its historical obligations. There?s no escape this time. To attempt retreat from engagement with terrorists will be to drag them right back with us.
Some commentators have spoken of a sense of responsibility that will dramatically seize the Dems once they take office. While not inconceivable, it?s never happened before. Others point out the number of conservatives (so-called ?Blue Dogs?) among the new Democratic congressmen coming in. But the Blue Dogs are freshman, and by definition powerless. The reins are held by the same products of the 60s who have been in control since McGovern?s heyday. Their program will be what it always was ? anti-military, anti-defense, and anti-American. Asking them to be different is asking a leopard to change his spots, a thing that has never been and will never be.
With a presidential campaign coming up, the Democrats need to appease their MoveOn wing. (Not to mention the ACLU, Amnesty International, Code Pink etc.) This they will do by the simplest means possible: a straightforward assault on the administration?s foreign policy. The more conservative freshmen, in concert with the GOP, may well prevent an outright defunding of the war or a precipitous Vietnam-style pullout. But everything else is up for grabs. In a short piece for NRO, Ramesh Ponnuru has put the stakes as clearly as anyone could.
?...al-Qaeda will be left in control of Anbar, Salahaddin, and possibly Babil and Diyala as well? ...we will still have a failed terrorist state made up of what was central Iraq to deal with? The loss of Iraq is almost certain to coincide with a major push in Afghanistan-Pakistan? Pakistan is likely to fall, (probably in a palace coup) before al-Qaeda and the Taliban make any serious headway in Afghanistan. That may preserve the Karzai government, but it will also turn bin Laden into a nuclear power.?
Bad enough. But the main target of the Jihadis is not Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan. The main target is the United States.
If the Dems remain true to their record, we can expect investigations of virtually every domestic security program put in place since 9/11, if not before. The grounds for these circuses will be the standard ?assault on liberties? accusation used, with considerable success, against the Patriot Act, the financial surveillance program, the overseas cellphone intercepts, and the domestic radiation surveillance program, among others.
The model will be the 1975 Church committee, in which Sen. Frank Church, angling for a shot at the presidency, took on the ?rogue elephant? of the CIA, and through exposure, publicity, and dubious testimony damaged the agency to such an extent that in some ways it hasn?t recovered to this day.
The result will be overall paralysis. Counterintelligence operations of the type being carried out against the Jihadis require boldness, initiative, and a willingness to take risks and play hunches. All that will evaporate under the fear of subpoenas or even indictment.
This will not be the result of conscious decision. The vast majority of the individuals carrying out this effort are patriots of the highest order, who would willingly die for this country and its people. But consider the shadowy nature of intelligence to start with, and how difficult it is under the best of circumstances. How do you carry out such operations with hostile, prying eyes constantly peering over your shoulder, ready to pounce on the first mistaken judgment or error of interpretation? The simple answer is: you don?t.
With the best intentions in the world, our people will slow down. They will hesitate. They will reconsider. They will check twice or three times where once would have sufficed. Throw in the fact that the leadership will be tied up in testifying or depositions, and it can be easily seen how things will begin to slide. These people have done yeoman work defending the country for the last five years. They have broken up conspiracy after conspiracy ? Lackawanna, Lodi, Padilla, Portland. But the era of repeated home runs is now over.
(Clear evidence for this can be found in this article on congressional refusal to pass the bill authorizing warrantless wiretaps. So a crucial program, one known to have detected Jihadi networks, is now on the way out.) The window will be open for the Jihadis, and we can expect them to climb right in. A thoughtful enemy would hold off, take time to consolidate their gains overseas, continue building their networks while the U.S. falls further into a stupor. But the Jihadis, with a few exceptions, are not thinkers. They are medieval ideologues committed to a philosophy of action. They want blood, they want spectacle, they want attention. And they will get it, one way or another.
It doesn?t matter how it will come. It will come when we least expect it, by some method we never guessed. I would not be surprised if such an attack occurred within six months. I would be very surprised if one did not occur within two years. If it does not, it will be a matter of luck and nothing else. (Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, chief of Britain?s MI5, announced this week that no less than 30 terror plots against the UK were currently being rolled up. How many are active against the U.S.? As has been said so many times that people have ceased hearing it, all the terrorists have to do is succeed once.)
For a time, it seemed that we might get through the current conflict without making the same errors that occurred during the wars against fascism and communism. But it appears that the default position of democracy in long wars is quietism and appeasement, and there is no avoiding the occasional collapse into such a state.
Republican ineptness, Democratic ideology, George W. Bush?s inability to ignite a fire, and something contemptible in the American character have combined to bring us to this point. We will not see our way past it without blood, flames, and grief. There are people?there is no discreet way to put this?who pulled the lever last Tuesday that began the process of their own deaths.
We need to live with an eye open, as we did in the days and weeks following 9/11. Be careful in airports and in malls. On aircraft, on subways, in the vicinity of tunnels and large buildings. If you see something troubling, tell the authorities, and if they don?t listen ? and it?s possible, considering the tenor of the times, that they won?t ? get out. We can?t save the U.S. from the upcoming series of blows ? in truth, it doesn?t want to be saved. We have to come to terms with the fact that it will require yet more deaths for the country to take this war seriously.
?The wolves are playing in the courtyard, but the hare will not escape them.? ? Franz Kafka
J.R. Dunn is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.
Reply #23 on:
November 16, 2006, 10:36:47 AM »
Plan B for Iraq
Consider all options
By Ralph Peters
The odds of Iraq surviving as a constitutional democracy with its present borders intact are down to 50/50. While it's still too soon to give up on the effort to let free elections decide the future of one Arab-majority state, 2007 will be the year in which the Iraqis themselves determine whether our continued sacrifice is justified, or if Iraq is fated to become yet another catastrophic Arab failure.
We have given the people of Iraq an unprecedented opportunity. If they make a hash of it, it won't be our defeat, but theirs. We must make that clear to Iraqis and to the world.
Iraq is a grotesque labyrinth of ethnic and confessional rivalries, and of rivalries within those rivalries. While a minority of Iraqis would like to harm us, a majority would prefer to harm their neighbors. The deep loyalties, legacies of betrayal and layered relationships are so opaque to outsiders that we cannot be certain even of the leading figures in the Baghdad government. Yet, for all of the country's complexity, one thing is simple and straightforward: The test for the fundamental question (immortalized by The Clash), "Should I stay, or should I go?"
If the people of Iraq are willing to fight for their own constitutionally elected government in decisive numbers, we should maintain a military presence in their country for a generation, if need be. If, however, Iraqi security forces fail to demonstrate a sufficient commitment ? by the closing months of 2007 ? to defeat their government's violent enemies, we must have the common sense to recognize that our dreams for Iraq are hopeless. The Sunni-Arab insurgents, Shiite-Arab militiamen and foreign terrorists are ready to give their lives for their beliefs and causes. If the remainder of Iraq's population cannot summon an equal will to fight for a unified, rule-of-law state, our troops should not continue to do their dying for them.
The stakes in Iraq are very high, indeed. Yet, an intelligently conducted U.S. withdrawal might be far from the disaster that all-or-nothing partisans predict. Skillfully managed, the removal of U.S. forces from Iraq ? except for elements redeployed to Kurdistan ? might result, not in catastrophe, but in long-term advantages for the U.S.
The key to making the most of an Iraqi failure to grasp the opportunity we provided is to think imaginatively and ruthlessly, setting aside our political prejudices and middle brow morality. We should exclude no scenario, however extreme, as we war-game alternatives in Iraq and the Middle East. As for realism, it begins with accepting the Law of Sunk Costs ("Don't throw away additional resources in attempts to recover irretrievable losses") and proceeds to an honest appraisal of the situation in Iraq ? something unpalatable to ideologues on both the right and left. Critically, we cannot afford another application of Point No. 1 of the Rumsfeld Doctrine: "Plan only for what you desire and forbid planning for any alternatives."
We require not only a Plan B, but Plans C, D, E and beyond, as well as constantly evolving variations of each. As former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gordon Sullivan used to put it, "Hope is not a method." We must not only prepare for the worst, but calculate how to turn it to our advantage.
At present, our enemies ? and those of the Iraq we envisioned ? have only two advantages over us, but they're powerful ones: They display a greater strength of will, and they dare to think (then do) the unthinkable. Our self-flagellation over media-amplified "war crimes" has trapped us into the far-greater immorality of giving ground to implacable fanatics. We have limited our national imagination to courses of action we hope a global consensus will approve. That's suicidal nonsense. There is no morality ? none ? in being defeated, however politely we make our troops behave.
We know how to fight. But we must relearn the art of thinking.
We also must shake off the habit of interpreting all developments to our own disadvantage (a media addiction). The most obvious example is the inextinguishable nonsense about Iraq being "another Vietnam" for our military. It isn't. On the contrary, Iraq has turned into al-Qaida's Vietnam. We could leave tomorrow, lick our wounds and fight on elsewhere. But whether we stay or go, al-Qaida's resources will be devoured by Iraq for years to come. Far from profiting from a future Iraqi civil war, al-Qaida would be its victim.
We also need to recognize when it's time to stop shaking our fists at the sky and commanding the rain to stop. The Shiite-Sunni divide may be unbridgeable and interludes of peace no more than a temporary result of bloody exhaustion or one side's tyrannical supremacy. For all of the fashionable anti-Americanism on the political catwalk, the style of the region is Shiite-Sunni hatred unto death. And fashion is a transient phenomenon, but style endures. Human beings may hate a distant enemy in the abstract, but in practice they prefer to kill their neighbors.
If the Iraqi military and, especially, the police cannot overcome their sectarian rivalries and rally to their government's defense by late 2007, we need to begin an orderly withdrawal of our forces. The decision cannot be based exclusively on the views of our military leaders in Baghdad, since few will see this particular issue with sufficient clarity. The U.S. officer's can-do spirit combines with a loyalty to those he's trained and with whom he's worked that blinds him to their irremediable deficiencies. The generals' line will be, "We can't abandon them now." But we can. And we should, if Iraqis in uniform will not show valor and determination equal to the enemies of their state.
We cannot accept pleas for "just one more year." 2007 should be the last chance. Senior officers will counter that developing a military from scratch takes time, that this is a massive, complex effort. That's true, but, to borrow from Gen.Vo Nguyen Giap, it is also irrelevant. The militiamen, insurgents and terrorists have not had billions of dollars and years of American military training lavished upon them. Yet they fight hard and often well (if not by our rules). If all of the human capital and material resources we've invested can't arouse an Iraqi will to win sufficient to defeat the elected government's numerically inferior opponents, there is no justification for wasting an additional American life.
Iraqis have to want to fight for their state ? and not just a valiant handful of Iraqis. They must be willing to fight in decisive numbers. Yes, those fighters would continue to need American support, from air missions to logistics, for years to come, and the support would be merited. But if Iraqis will not actively and relentlessly carry the fight to their enemies, foreign and domestic, nothing we can do will make up the difference.
If we do leave, we should go out shooting. All anti-government factions should suffer ? the gloves should come off at last. The one thing we cannot afford is a popular view that our troops have been defeated. They haven't been. We will have to make that clear. Our withdrawal should be conducted under conditions that push our enemies bloodily onto the defensive as we make our exit, and we should not worry about collateral damage. If we leave Iraq, we must leave the world with a perception of American strength ? and ruthlessness, when required. We can afford being seen as heavy-handed, but we can't afford being seen as weak.
We should leave sufficient forces in Kurdistan to deter foreign interference in that pro-American region, as well as to give us local leverage and emergency bases in periods of crisis. Even after we withdraw from the rest of Iraq, we should be ready and willing to intervene with air power to prolong the subsequent civil war, ensuring that neither Sunni Arabs nor Shiite Arabs gain the upper hand ? and that the designs of neighboring states are frustrated.
Civil war's profit
If we leave Iraq, there will be a civil war. We must accept that and make up our minds to profit from it. Not only would it be al-Qaida's Vietnam (its cadres hate and fear Shiites far more than they do us), but the strife would inevitably entangle our other regional enemies. Currently aligned against us, Iran and Syria would not be able to sustain their cooperation, but would be drawn into backing opposite sides. While we should be willing to use force to prevent the cross-border involvement of Iranian or Syrian regulars, we must accept that their support for rival factions with armaments and "volunteers" is inevitable. Let us turn it to our advantage by bleeding out our opponents and trapping them in a quagmire.
An Iraqi civil war would be a human tragedy. But it would be a tragedy that Iraqis, through factionalism and fecklessness, brought down on their own heads. Given that it cannot be prevented, we should avoid hand-wringing diplomacy in favor of placing no obstacles in the path of Sunni and Shiite extremists anxious to kill each other.
The region is due for another of its periodic bloodbaths and, paradoxically, the exhaustion in the wake of a sectarian war may be the only long-term hope for peace.
Plan B part two
Reply #24 on:
November 16, 2006, 10:43:03 AM »
As for Iraq's other interested neighbor, Turkey, we should make it explicitly clear that our air power, advisers, special operations forces and, if need be, regulars will stand by the Kurds if Turkish forces cross the border ? but we should do so behind closed doors to avoid a public humiliation for Ankara. As a sop, we should give the Turks a free hand to engage in contiguous regions of Arab Iraq to "protect" the Turkoman minority. (Turkish ambitions will thus prevent any rapprochement with Ankara's Arab neighbors.) We might even offer open support for Turkish efforts and, since Turkey is oil-poor, we should consider a compact that allows Ankara to occupy part of Iraq's oil fields in return for accepting the Kurdish claim to Kirkuk. With their own new oil fields under development, the Kurds can and must be persuaded to share a portion of the Kirkuk area's oil with the Turks in return for security, open trade and pipeline access.
By offering Turkey a free drink of oil, we might be able to protect the Kurds without fighting. As an insurance plan, we should arm and train the Kurds ? who will fight for their freedom ? to include applying lessons learned from Hezbollah's strategy against the Israel Defense Forces. Anyway, a Turkish military incursion into Kurdistan might explode the conventional wisdom by failing miserably in the difficult, canalized terrain of northern Iraq. The free Kurds would be the toughest enemy Turks have faced since the Great War, and we might have to intervene with the Irbil government to persuade the Kurds to spare trapped and suffering Turkish units.
Another line of conventional wisdom holds that, should the Iraqi experiment fail, we will lose our influence throughout the region. That is exactly wrong. An Iraq embroiled in civil war would underscore the importance of American good will and military power to protect the effete sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf and the hollow Saudi monarchy. Each of these Sunni emirates and states dreads Persian hegemony.
The old Arab-Persian antipathy eventually will re-emerge in Iraq, as well. At present, Persian and Iraqi Shiites are religious brothers facing a traditional enemy. But Iran ultimately will insist on exercising too much authority and demand too much subservience. Persian arrogance and racism will undo Tehran's attempts at empire. An eventual Shiite victory in a civil war would lead inexorably to a future Arab-Persian conflict within the Shiite community.
As for securing oil supplies, we have a wide range of alternatives, from a rump occupation that concentrates on Iraq's southern oil fields, through a no-nonsense demand that the Saudis and gulf states maximize their production, to a surprise occupation of Venezuela's oil production sites (most of them conveniently located for military visitors).
We have done our best to help others. The time may be approaching to help ourselves.
Finally, contingency plans to strike Iran's nuclear facilities should be timed for the moment when Iraqi Shiites appear to be gaining the upper hand. With the Sunni Arabs pressed to the wall (which might happen quickly) and Iran pouring resources into the fight, we should blindside Tehran, breaking its nuclear weapons program and preventing an outright Shiite victory in Iraq. The goal would not be to deliver victory to the Sunni Arabs, who could not win a civil war, but to prevent them from losing and keep the confrontation alive. Al-Qaida's Vietnam could also become Iran's Vietnam.
Make common cause with Iran. Upend the chess board, approach Iran and offer Tehran hegemony over central and southeastern Iraq in return for halting its nuclear-weapons development program and a commitment to defend Kurdistan's independence against all aggressors. Propose an alliance based on noninterference in Iranian affairs (save the nuclear-arsenal issue) and recognition of Shiite ascendancy in the northern gulf.
What if, instead of weakening Iran, we helped it become stronger? Of course, our views on Israel are in direct conflict, but the attempt to assert local hegemony would occupy Tehran and drain its resources for years to come. And, as noted above, the deep conflict in the region isn't between Muslims and Americans or even between Muslims and Israelis, but between Muslims and Muslims. Given the chance to lord it over Sunni Arabs, Tehran might forget about Israel except for intermittent bursts of token rhetoric. And, in the end, an attempt to build a greater Iran will inevitably result in a lesser Iran. Iran's ambitions will be self-defeating, so why not encourage them?
The only way to win in the Middle East is to choose a side and continue to back that side no matter how badly it misbehaves. Our attempts to play the honest broker have failed, preventing resolution and making many a bad situation worse. Sunni Arab culture is in freefall and we have to accept the fact. We have bound ourselves to the dead and dying. Perhaps it's time to put our anger over yesteryear's hostages and name-calling behind us ? and to ask the Iranians to abandon their own old grudges against us.
As for the benefits of choosing Shiites over Sunnis, we should remember that the worst anti-Western terrorists by far have been Sunnis. Anyway, the odds are better if we back the region's oldest surviving civilization ? Persia ? over a collection of tribal cultures that do not reach the standard of a civilization.
The formula, in short, would be: Embrace Iran and kill it with kindness; terrify (but continue to embrace) the gulf oil states; isolate Syria and destroy the Assad regime; protect the Kurds, but placate Turkey; and create so obsessive a regional focus on local problems that we can concentrate on future opportunities elsewhere.
Of course, the Iranians would cheat like mad on any such agreement. That's part of the equation. But the loss of the U.S. as a galvanizing bogeyman would foster the conditions for internally driven regime change. Rob the Tehran regimes of its excuses. By making Iran stronger in the short term, we might do more to change its political nature than by striving endlessly ? and ineffectually ? to weaken it.
Perhaps it's time for the Great Satan to do what devils do best: Seduce.
A variation on Plan C: Cut a deal with Iran to allow it unrestricted influence over the Shiite provinces of Iraq in return for a mutual-support pact that frees American forces to invade Syria (an indirect withdrawal); to provide guarantees for the Kurds; and to raise joint Iranian-Iraqi oil production in return for an American purchasing shift away from Saudi Arabia. The goal would be to lower world oil prices sufficiently (and just long enough) to create a financial crisis in Saudi Arabia, the primary source of anti-Western Islam, of destabilizing policies in the Muslim world, and of terrorists.
By driving Saudi Arabia into a government breakdown, we might dry up the funding for Wahhabi missionary efforts that wreak havoc on states from Pakistan to Nigeria, while diverting Sunni Arab resources and energies to internal struggles in place of the export of fanaticism. At an opportune time, we might occupy key Saudi oil fields, holding profits in trust for a future constitutional state. Let Sunni Arabs fight over Mecca the way Christians once warred over the Papal States.
As for the invasion of Syria, it would be easy militarily and we would not make the mistake of trying to occupy the country; rather, our goal would be to create "constructive turmoil" that weakened Iraq's Sunni Arabs by depriving them of dependable strategic depth, while embroiling al-Qaida and its affiliates in yet another Muslim-versus-Muslim struggle that bleeds the movement out. We should never forget that, while we can afford to "lose" Iraq, al-Qaida can't. Expand al-Qaida's struggle to Syria and we create a situation where Arabs do our killing for us. And if al-Qaida ever achieved unexpected success, we could prevent it from governing: We may have difficulty with post-modern terrorist organizations, but we can take down states with ease (we only have to avoid trying to rebuild them in our own image).
We sought to foster peace in the Middle East. Perhaps it's time to let the Middle East fight itself out. And the best way to protect Israel is to involve Arabs and Persians in resource-draining struggles within the Muslim world.
Leave. Not just Iraq, but the entire region (except for expandable bases in Kurdistan). Apres nous, le deluge. Let the region burn, if that's what its populations choose. Put real fear into the lives of our Saudi enemies. Let civil war rage in Iraq and let it expand, if that's the conflagration's natural course. If necessary, intervene just sufficiently to preserve oil supplies. Otherwise, strictly refrain from military engagement in any form, until the various actors have bled themselves out. Let the world get one of its periodic and necessary lessons in the horror of sectarian wars.
Then return and pick up the pieces.
The best-laid plans?
Iraq still has a fighting chance. And if Iraqis will fight for their own freedom and a constitutional government, we should stand by them. But we need to think seriously and creatively about alternatives, in case the Iraqis let themselves down. The Bush administration's cross-your-fingers approach has served us poorly. For their part, the administration's detractors offer no alternatives beyond platitudes and their own brand of wishful thinking.
We cannot afford inane squabbling that elevates short-term political advantage over our strategic interests. It's always up to the incumbent administration to take the lead in pursuing alternatives ? simply because it has the power to do so. After actively preventing our military from planning for an unwanted-but-unavoidable occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration must not make the same ideology-driven mistake again. Our efforts in Iraq degenerated swiftly from a nebulous vision to a series of improvisations ? none of which convinced the intended audience.
After 3½ years, we still don't have a genuine plan, only a loosely connected series of programs and a bucket of fading hopes.
None of the scenarios sketched above would be ideal. The purpose in summarizing them isn't to offer Pentagon planners a blueprint, but to provoke our leaders to think honestly and imaginatively about the wide range of potential outcomes ? not all of them necessarily bad for us ? should Iraqis lack the will to risk their lives for their elected government. We must smash the self-imposed barriers of political correctness. As we war-game the future, no strategy should be off-limits.
In the Middle East, the closest we can come to certainty is to accept that the one outcome we reject as unthinkable will come to pass.
Ralph Peters is a retired U.S. Army officer and the author, most recently, of "Never Quit The Fight."
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #25 on:
November 16, 2006, 11:20:36 AM »
I'm with Ralph on most of those, with the execption of any plan that gives Iran anything but airstrikes.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #26 on:
November 16, 2006, 12:08:28 PM »
**It ain't over until we say it's over.**
Why Intellectuals Love Defeat
By Josh Manchester : 13 Nov 2006
James Carroll, recently writing in the Boston Globe, wondered if America could finally accept defeat in Iraq, and be the better for it, comparing it to Vietnam:
"But what about the moral question? For all of the anguish felt over the loss of American lives, can we acknowledge that there is something proper in the way that hubristic American power has been thwarted? Can we admit that the loss of honor will not come with how the war ends, because we lost our honor when we began it? This time, can we accept defeat?"
To be frank, no. In Mr. Carroll's fantasyland, the United States is deserving of defeat, and through some sort of mental gymnastics, that defeat is honorable, because it smacked of hubris to ever have fought in the first place.
I contend instead that the ultimate dishonor will be to leave hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of Iraqis to violent deaths; and that this is far too large a price to pay for Mr. Carroll to feel better.
In his book The Culture of Defeat, the German scholar Wolfgang Schivelbusch described the stages of defeat through which nations pass upon losing a large war. He examined the South's loss of the Confederacy, the French loss in the Franco-Prussian War, and the German loss in World War I. He saw similar patterns in how their national cultures dealt with defeat: a "dreamland"-like state; then an awakening to the magnitude of the loss; then a call that the winning side used "unsoldierly" techniques or equipment; and next the stage of seeing the nation as being a loser in battle, but a winner in spirit. Schivelbusch expanded upon this last as such:
"To see victory as a curse and defeat as moral purification and salvation is to combine the ancient idea of hubris with the Christian virtue of humility, catharsis with apocalypse. That such a concept should have its greatest resonance among the intelligentsia can be explained in part by the intellectual's classical training but also by his inherently ambivalent stance toward power."
Who knows whether Mr. Carroll has had classical training, but should Schivelbusch meet him today, would he not recognize this idea of defeat as moral purification?
The only problem for those such as Mr. Carroll is that we have not yet lost. It is difficult not to conclude that there is a class of well-intentioned individuals in the United States like him who don't merely feel as they do upon witnessing a defeat, but instead think this way all the time. Like it or not, this mentality of permanent defeat plays a large part in the Democratic Party. It is now up to President Bush and the new Democratic congressional leadership to see that it does not become dominant.
How to do so? A charm offensive is not quite what is necessary. Instead, perhaps a combination of sobering events that will impress upon Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid the gravity of our current situation would do the trick. Why not invite both Pelosi and Reid to the White House every morning until the new Congress is sworn in - and ask them to listen with the President to his Presidential Daily Brief, describing what Al Qaeda has cooked up of late? Or, why not invite them along with the President to one of his private sessions with the families of those who have paid the ultimate price overseas? Speaking of those overseas whose lives hang upon American policy, Pelosi and Reid could be participants in the next conference call that Bush has with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.
The point of all of this would be to create a true bipartisan consensus on Iraq that does not leave the Iraqis and US credibility to disaster. The Iraqi blogger "Sooni," who describes himself as a "free man" living in Baghdad, recently was asked what would happen if the US partitioned Iraq. "Just imagine it this way [sic] partitioning Iraq will create a small Iran in the south of Iraq and a small Afghanistan in the middle of it!"
Leaving Iraq will be worse than leaving Vietnam, not necessarily in terms of bloodshed, though that will be no comfort to those who will be slaughtered, but because the jihadist threat today is more dangerous than the Soviet threat then. Despite lacking - so far - in similar capabilities to the Communists, our enemies more than make up for it with an insatiable bloodthirsty ruthlessness. The honor that Mr. Carroll sees in defeat will soon be forgotten should Al Qaeda establish a caliphate in Anbar Province and begin a healthy trade in the export of mayhem throughout the West. The Furies that will visit us from such a redoubt will engender much more than a little longing that we had stayed.
Josh Manchester is a TCSDaily contributing writer. His blog is The Adventures of Chester (
Hersch: Next Act-part one
Reply #27 on:
November 21, 2006, 07:36:45 AM »
The author of this piece is a long time Bush hater and often fronts for particular factions within the US Govt. ?That said, he has lots of deep high level sources. ?One needs to read deeply between the lines with him.
THE NEXT ACT
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
Is a damaged Administration less likely to attack Iran, or more?
Issue of 2006-11-27
A month before the November elections, Vice-President Dick Cheney was sitting in on a national-security discussion at the Executive Office Building. The talk took a political turn: what if the Democrats won both the Senate and the House? How would that affect policy toward Iran, which is believed to be on the verge of becoming a nuclear power? At that point, according to someone familiar with the discussion, Cheney began reminiscing about his job as a lineman, in the early nineteen-sixties, for a power company in Wyoming. Copper wire was expensive, and the linemen were instructed to return all unused pieces three feet or longer. No one wanted to deal with the paperwork that resulted, Cheney said, so he and his colleagues found a solution: putting ?shorteners? on the wire?that is, cutting it into short pieces and tossing the leftovers at the end of the workday. If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put ?shorteners? on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way.
The White House?s concern was not that the Democrats would cut off funds for the war in Iraq but that future legislation would prohibit it from financing operations targeted at overthrowing or destabilizing the Iranian government, to keep it from getting the bomb. ?They?re afraid that Congress is going to vote a binding resolution to stop a hit on Iran, ? la Nicaragua in the Contra war,? a former senior intelligence official told me.
In late 1982, Edward P. Boland, a Democratic representative, introduced the first in a series of ?Boland amendments,? which limited the Reagan Administration?s ability to support the Contras, who were working to overthrow Nicaragua?s left-wing Sandinista government. The Boland restrictions led White House officials to orchestrate illegal fund-raising activities for the Contras, including the sale of American weapons, via Israel, to Iran. The result was the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-eighties. Cheney?s story, according to the source, was his way of saying that, whatever a Democratic Congress might do next year to limit the President?s authority, the Administration would find a way to work around it. (In response to a request for comment, the Vice-President?s office said that it had no record of the discussion.)
In interviews, current and former Administration officials returned to one question: whether Cheney would be as influential in the last two years of George W. Bush?s Presidency as he was in its first six. Cheney is emphatic about Iraq. In late October, he told Time, ?I know what the President thinks,? about Iraq. ?I know what I think. And we?re not looking for an exit strategy. We?re looking for victory.? He is equally clear that the Administration would, if necessary, use force against Iran. ?The United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime,? he told an Israeli lobbying group early this year. ?And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.?
On November 8th, the day after the Republicans lost both the House and the Senate, Bush announced the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the nomination of his successor, Robert Gates, a former director of Central Intelligence. The move was widely seen as an acknowledgment that the Administration was paying a political price for the debacle in Iraq. Gates was a member of the Iraq Study Group?headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman?which has been charged with examining new approaches to Iraq, and he has publicly urged for more than a year that the U.S. begin direct talks with Iran. President Bush?s decision to turn to Gates was a sign of the White House?s ?desperation,? a former high-level C.I.A. official, who worked with the White House after September 11th, told me. Cheney?s relationship with Rumsfeld was among the closest inside the Administration, and Gates?s nomination was seen by some Republicans as a clear signal that the Vice-President?s influence in the White House could be challenged. The only reason Gates would take the job, after turning down an earlier offer to serve as the new Director of National Intelligence, the former high-level C.I.A. official said, was that ?the President?s father, Brent Scowcroft, and James Baker??former aides of the first President Bush??piled on, and the President finally had to accept adult supervision.?
Critical decisions will be made in the next few months, the former C.I.A. official said. ?Bush has followed Cheney?s advice for six years, and the story line will be: ?Will he continue to choose Cheney over his father?? We?ll know soon.? (The White House and the Pentagon declined to respond to detailed requests for comment about this article, other than to say that there were unspecified inaccuracies.)
A retired four-star general who worked closely with the first Bush Administration told me that the Gates nomination means that Scowcroft, Baker, the elder Bush, and his son ?are saying that winning the election in 2008 is more important than the individual. The issue for them is how to preserve the Republican agenda. The Old Guard wants to isolate Cheney and give their girl, Condoleezza Rice??the Secretary of State??a chance to perform.? The combination of Scowcroft, Baker, and the senior Bush working together is, the general added, ?tough enough to take on Cheney. One guy can?t do it.?
Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State in Bush?s first term, told me that he believed the Democratic election victory, followed by Rumsfeld?s dismissal, meant that the Administration ?has backed off,? in terms of the pace of its planning for a military campaign against Iran. Gates and other decision-makers would now have more time to push for a diplomatic solution in Iran and deal with other, arguably more immediate issues. ?Iraq is as bad as it looks, and Afghanistan is worse than it looks,? Armitage said. ?A year ago, the Taliban were fighting us in units of eight to twelve, and now they?re sometimes in company-size, and even larger.? Bombing Iran and expecting the Iranian public ?to rise up? and overthrow the government, as some in the White House believe, Armitage added, ?is a fool?s errand.?
?Iraq is the disaster we have to get rid of, and Iran is the disaster we have to avoid,? Joseph Cirincione, the vice-president for national security at the liberal Center for American Progress, said. ?Gates will be in favor of talking to Iran and listening to the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but the neoconservatives are still there??in the White House??and still believe that chaos would be a small price for getting rid of the threat. The danger is that Gates could be the new Colin Powell?the one who opposes the policy but ends up briefing the Congress and publicly supporting it.?
Other sources close to the Bush family said that the machinations behind Rumsfeld?s resignation and the Gates nomination were complex, and the seeming triumph of the Old Guard may be illusory. The former senior intelligence official, who once worked closely with Gates and with the President?s father, said that Bush and his immediate advisers in the White House understood by mid-October that Rumsfeld would have to resign if the result of the midterm election was a resounding defeat. Rumsfeld was involved in conversations about the timing of his departure with Cheney, Gates, and the President before the election, the former senior intelligence official said. Critics who asked why Rumsfeld wasn?t fired earlier, a move that might have given the Republicans a boost, were missing the point. ?A week before the election, the Republicans were saying that a Democratic victory was the seed of American retreat, and now Bush and Cheney are going to change their national-security policies?? the former senior intelligence official said. ?Cheney knew this was coming. Dropping Rummy after the election looked like a conciliatory move??You?re right, Democrats. We got a new guy and we?re looking at all the options. Nothing is ruled out.? ? But the conciliatory gesture would not be accompanied by a significant change in policy; instead, the White House saw Gates as someone who would have the credibility to help it stay the course on Iran and Iraq. Gates would also be an asset before Congress. If the Administration needed to make the case that Iran?s weapons program posed an imminent threat, Gates would be a better advocate than someone who had been associated with the flawed intelligence about Iraq. The former official said, ?He?s not the guy who told us there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and he?ll be taken seriously by Congress.?
Once Gates is installed at the Pentagon, he will have to contend with Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Rumsfeld legacy?and Dick Cheney. A former senior Bush Administration official, who has also worked with Gates, told me that Gates was well aware of the difficulties of his new job. He added that Gates would not simply endorse the Administration?s policies and say, ?with a flag waving, ?Go, go? ??especially at the cost of his own reputation. ?He does not want to see thirty-five years of government service go out the window,? the former official said. However, on the question of whether Gates would actively stand up to Cheney, the former official said, after a pause, ?I don?t know.?
Another critical issue for Gates will be the Pentagon?s expanding effort to conduct clandestine and covert intelligence missions overseas. Such activity has traditionally been the C.I.A.?s responsibility, but, as the result of a systematic push by Rumsfeld, military covert actions have been substantially increased. In the past six months, Israel and the United States have also been working together in support of a Kurdish resistance group known as the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan. The group has been conducting clandestine cross-border forays into Iran, I was told by a government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon civilian leadership, as ?part of an effort to explore alternative means of applying pressure on Iran.? (The Pentagon has established covert relationships with Kurdish, Azeri, and Baluchi tribesmen, and has encouraged their efforts to undermine the regime?s authority in northern and southeastern Iran.) The government consultant said that Israel is giving the Kurdish group ?equipment and training.? The group has also been given ?a list of targets inside Iran of interest to the U.S.? (An Israeli government spokesman denied that Israel was involved.)
Such activities, if they are considered military rather than intelligence operations, do not require congressional briefings. For a similar C.I.A. operation, the President would, by law, have to issue a formal finding that the mission was necessary, and the Administration would have to brief the senior leadership of the House and the Senate. The lack of such consultation annoyed some Democrats in Congress. This fall, I was told, Representative David Obey, of Wisconsin, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that finances classified military activity, pointedly asked, during a closed meeting of House and Senate members, whether ?anyone has been briefing on the Administration?s plan for military activity in Iran.? The answer was no. (A spokesman for Obey confirmed this account.)
The Democratic victories this month led to a surge of calls for the Administration to begin direct talks with Iran, in part to get its help in settling the conflict in Iraq. British Prime Minister Tony Blair broke ranks with President Bush after the election and declared that Iran should be offered ?a clear strategic choice? that could include a ?new partnership? with the West. But many in the White House and the Pentagon insist that getting tough with Iran is the only way to salvage Iraq. ?It?s a classic case of ?failure forward,?? a Pentagon consultant said. ?They believe that by tipping over Iran they would recover their losses in Iraq?like doubling your bet. It would be an attempt to revive the concept of spreading democracy in the Middle East by creating one new model state.?
The view that there is a nexus between Iran and Iraq has been endorsed by Condoleezza Rice, who said last month that Iran ?does need to understand that it is not going to improve its own situation by stirring instability in Iraq,? and by the President, who said, in August, that ?Iran is backing armed groups in the hope of stopping democracy from taking hold? in Iraq. The government consultant told me, ?More and more people see the weakening of Iran as the only way to save Iraq.?
The consultant added that, for some advocates of military action, ?the goal in Iran is not regime change but a strike that will send a signal that America still can accomplish its goals. Even if it does not destroy Iran?s nuclear network, there are many who think that thirty-six hours of bombing is the only way to remind the Iranians of the very high cost of going forward with the bomb?and of supporting Moqtada al-Sadr and his pro-Iran element in Iraq.? (Sadr, who commands a Shiite militia, has religious ties to Iran.)
In the current issue of Foreign Policy, Joshua Muravchik, a prominent neoconservative, argued that the Administration had little choice. ?Make no mistake: President Bush will need to bomb Iran?s nuclear facilities before leaving office,? he wrote. The President would be bitterly criticized for a pre?mptive attack on Iran, Muravchik said, and so neoconservatives ?need to pave the way intellectually now and be prepared to defend the action when it comes.?
The main Middle East expert on the Vice-President?s staff is David Wurmser, a neoconservative who was a strident advocate for the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Like many in Washington, Wurmser ?believes that, so far, there?s been no price tag on Iran for its nuclear efforts and for its continuing agitation and intervention inside Iraq,? the consultant said. But, unlike those in the Administration who are calling for limited strikes, Wurmser and others in Cheney?s office ?want to end the regime,? the consultant said. ?They argue that there can be no settlement of the Iraq war without regime change in Iran.?
Last Edit: November 21, 2006, 07:41:53 AM by Crafty_Dog
Hersch: Next Act-part two
Reply #28 on:
November 21, 2006, 07:39:22 AM »
The Administration?s planning for a military attack on Iran was made far more complicated earlier this fall by a highly classified draft assessment by the C.I.A. challenging the White House?s assumptions about how close Iran might be to building a nuclear bomb. The C.I.A. found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency. (The C.I.A. declined to comment on this story.)
The C.I.A.?s analysis, which has been circulated to other agencies for comment, was based on technical intelligence collected by overhead satellites, and on other empirical evidence, such as measurements of the radioactivity of water samples and smoke plumes from factories and power plants. Additional data have been gathered, intelligence sources told me, by high-tech (and highly classified) radioactivity-detection devices that clandestine American and Israeli agents placed near suspected nuclear-weapons facilities inside Iran in the past year or so. No significant amounts of radioactivity were found.
A current senior intelligence official confirmed the existence of the C.I.A. analysis, and told me that the White House had been hostile to it. The White House?s dismissal of the C.I.A. findings on Iran is widely known in the intelligence community. Cheney and his aides discounted the assessment, the former senior intelligence official said. ?They?re not looking for a smoking gun,? the official added, referring to specific intelligence about Iranian nuclear planning. ?They?re looking for the degree of comfort level they think they need to accomplish the mission.? The Pentagon?s Defense Intelligence Agency also challenged the C.I.A.?s analysis. ?The D.I.A. is fighting the agency?s conclusions, and disputing its approach,? the former senior intelligence official said. Bush and Cheney, he added, can try to prevent the C.I.A. assessment from being incorporated into a forthcoming National Intelligence Estimate on Iranian nuclear capabilities, ?but they can?t stop the agency from putting it out for comment inside the intelligence community.? The C.I.A. assessment warned the White House that it would be a mistake to conclude that the failure to find a secret nuclear-weapons program in Iran merely meant that the Iranians had done a good job of hiding it. The former senior intelligence official noted that at the height of the Cold War the Soviets were equally skilled at deception and misdirection, yet the American intelligence community was readily able to unravel the details of their long-range-missile and nuclear-weapons programs. But some in the White House, including in Cheney?s office, had made just such an assumption?that ?the lack of evidence means they must have it,? the former official said.
Iran is a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, under which it is entitled to conduct nuclear research for peaceful purposes. Despite the offer of trade agreements and the prospect of military action, it defied a demand by the I.A.E.A. and the Security Council, earlier this year, that it stop enriching uranium?a process that can produce material for nuclear power plants as well as for weapons?and it has been unable, or unwilling, to account for traces of plutonium and highly enriched uranium that have been detected during I.A.E.A. inspections. The I.A.E.A. has complained about a lack of ?transparency,? although, like the C.I.A., it has not found unambiguous evidence of a secret weapons program.
Last week, Iran?s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced that Iran had made further progress in its enrichment research program, and said, ?We know that some countries may not be pleased.? He insisted that Iran was abiding by international agreements, but said, ?Time is now completely on the side of the Iranian people.? A diplomat in Vienna, where the I.A.E.A. has its headquarters, told me that the agency was skeptical of the claim, for technical reasons. But Ahmadinejad?s defiant tone did nothing to diminish suspicions about Iran?s nuclear ambitions.
?There is no evidence of a large-scale covert enrichment program inside Iran,? one involved European diplomat said. ?But the Iranians would not have launched themselves into a very dangerous confrontation with the West on the basis of a weapons program that they no longer pursue. Their enrichment program makes sense only in terms of wanting nuclear weapons. It would be inconceivable if they weren?t cheating to some degree. You don?t need a covert program to be concerned about Iran?s nuclear ambitions. We have enough information to be concerned without one. It?s not a slam dunk, but it?s close to it.?
There are, however, other possible reasons for Iran?s obstinacy. The nuclear program?peaceful or not?is a source of great national pride, and President Ahmadinejad?s support for it has helped to propel him to enormous popularity. (Saddam Hussein created confusion for years, inside and outside his country, about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, in part to project an image of strength.) According to the former senior intelligence official, the C.I.A.?s assessment suggested that Iran might even see some benefits in a limited military strike?especially one that did not succeed in fully destroying its nuclear program?in that an attack might enhance its position in the Islamic world. ?They learned that in the Iraqi experience, and relearned it in southern Lebanon,? the former senior official said. In both cases, a more powerful military force had trouble achieving its military or political goals; in Lebanon, Israel?s war against Hezbollah did not destroy the group?s entire arsenal of rockets, and increased the popularity of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
The former senior intelligence official added that the C.I.A. assessment raised the possibility that an American attack on Iran could end up serving as a rallying point to unite Sunni and Shiite populations. ?An American attack will paper over any differences in the Arab world, and we?ll have Syrians, Iranians, Hamas, and Hezbollah fighting against us?and the Saudis and the Egyptians questioning their ties to the West. It?s an analyst?s worst nightmare?for the first time since the caliphate there will be common cause in the Middle East.? (An Islamic caliphate ruled the Middle East for over six hundred years, until the thirteenth century.)
According to the Pentagon consultant, ?The C.I.A.?s view is that, without more intelligence, a large-scale bombing attack would not stop Iran?s nuclear program. And a low-end campaign of subversion and sabotage would play into Iran?s hands?bolstering support for the religious leadership and deepening anti-American Muslim rage.?
The Pentagon consultant said that he and many of his colleagues in the military believe that Iran is intent on developing nuclear-weapons capability. But he added that the Bush Administration?s options for dealing with that threat are diminished, because of a lack of good intelligence and also because ?we?ve cried wolf? before.
As the C.I.A.?s assessment was making its way through the government, late this summer, current and former military officers and consultants told me, a new element suddenly emerged: intelligence from Israeli spies operating inside Iran claimed that Iran has developed and tested a trigger device for a nuclear bomb. The provenance and significance of the human intelligence, or HUMINT, are controversial. ?The problem is that no one can verify it,? the former senior intelligence official told me. ?We don?t know who the Israeli source is. The briefing says the Iranians are testing trigger mechanisms??simulating a zero-yield nuclear explosion without any weapons-grade materials??but there are no diagrams, no significant facts. Where is the test site? How often have they done it? How big is the warhead?a breadbox or a refrigerator? They don?t have that.? And yet, he said, the report was being used by White House hawks within the Administration to ?prove the White House?s theory that the Iranians are on track. And tests leave no radioactive track, which is why we can?t find it.? Still, he said, ?The agency is standing its ground.?
The Pentagon consultant, however, told me that he and other intelligence professionals believe that the Israeli intelligence should be taken more seriously. ?We live in an era when national technical intelligence??data from satellites and on-the-ground sensors??will not get us what we need. HUMINT may not be hard evidence by that standard, but very often it?s the best intelligence we can get.? He added, with obvious exasperation, that within the intelligence community ?we?re going to be fighting over the quality of the information for the next year.? One reason for the dispute, he said, was that the White House had asked to see the ?raw??the original, unanalyzed and unvetted?Israeli intelligence. Such ?stovepiping? of intelligence had led to faulty conclusions about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction during the buildup to the 2003 Iraq war. ?Many Presidents in the past have done the same thing,? the consultant said, ?but intelligence professionals are always aghast when Presidents ask for stuff in the raw. They see it as asking a second grader to read ?Ulysses.? ?
HUMINT can be difficult to assess. Some of the most politically significant?and most inaccurate?intelligence about Iraq?s alleged weapons of mass destruction came from an operative, known as Curveball, who was initially supplied to the C.I.A. by German intelligence. But the Pentagon consultant insisted that, in this case, ?the Israeli intelligence is apparently very strong.? He said that the information about the trigger device had been buttressed by another form of highly classified data, known as MASINT, for ?measuring and signature? intelligence. The Defense Intelligence Agency is the central processing and dissemination point for such intelligence, which includes radar, radio, nuclear, and electro-optical data. The consultant said that the MASINT indicated activities that ?are not consistent with the programs? Iran has declared to the I.A.E.A. ?The intelligence suggests far greater sophistication and more advanced development,? the consultant said. ?The indications don?t make sense, unless they?re farther along in some aspects of their nuclear-weapons program than we know.?
In early 2004, John Bolton, who was then the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control (he is now the United Nations Ambassador), privately conveyed to the I.A.E.A. suspicions that Iran was conducting research into the intricately timed detonation of conventional explosives needed to trigger a nuclear warhead at Parchin, a sensitive facility twenty miles southeast of Tehran that serves as the center of Iran?s Defense Industries Organization. A wide array of chemical munitions and fuels, as well as advanced antitank and ground-to-air missiles, are manufactured there, and satellite imagery appeared to show a bunker suitable for testing very large explosions.
Hersch: Next Act-part three
Reply #29 on:
November 21, 2006, 07:40:43 AM »
A senior diplomat in Vienna told me that, in response to the allegations, I.A.E.A. inspectors went to Parchin in November of 2005, after months of negotiation. An inspection team was allowed to single out a specific site at the base, and then was granted access to a few buildings there. ?We found no evidence of nuclear materials,? the diplomat said. The inspectors looked hard at an underground explosive-testing pit that, he said, ?resembled what South Africa had when it developed its nuclear weapons,? three decades ago. The pit could have been used for the kind of kinetic research needed to test a nuclear trigger. But, like so many military facilities with dual-use potential, ?it also could be used for other things,? such as testing fuel for rockets, which routinely takes place at Parchin. ?The Iranians have demonstrated that they can enrich uranium,? the diplomat added, ?and trigger tests without nuclear yield can be done. But it?s a very sophisticated process?it?s also known as hydrodynamic testing?and only countries with suitably advanced nuclear testing facilities as well as the necessary scientific expertise can do it. I?d be very skeptical that Iran could do it.?
Earlier this month, the allegations about Parchin re?merged when Yediot Ahronot, Israel?s largest newspaper, reported that recent satellite imagery showed new ?massive construction? at Parchin, suggesting an expansion of underground tunnels and chambers. The newspaper sharply criticized the I.A.E.A.?s inspection process and its director, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, for his insistence on ?using very neutral wording for his findings and his conclusions.?
Patrick Clawson, an expert on Iran who is the deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a conservative think tank, told me that the ?biggest moment? of tension has yet to arrive: ?How does the United States keep an Israeli decision point?one that may come sooner than we want?from being reached?? Clawson noted that there is evidence that Iran has been slowed by technical problems in the construction and operation of two small centrifuge cascades, which are essential for the pilot production of enriched uranium. Both are now under I.A.E.A. supervision. ?Why were they so slow in getting the second cascade up and running?? Clawson asked. ?And why haven?t they run the first one as much as they said they would? Do we have more time?
?Why talk about war?? he said. ?We?re not talking about going to war with North Korea or Venezuela. It?s not necessarily the case that Iran has started a weapons program, and it?s conceivable?just conceivable?that Iran does not have a nuclear-weapons program yet. We can slow them down?force them to reinvent the wheel?without bombing, especially if the international conditions get better.?
Clawson added that Secretary of State Rice has ?staked her reputation on diplomacy, and she will not risk her career without evidence. Her team is saying, ?What?s the rush?? The President wants to solve the Iranian issue before leaving office, but he may have to say, ?Darn, I wish I could have solved it.? ?
Earlier this year, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert created a task force to co?rdinate all the available intelligence on Iran. The task force, which is led by Major General Eliezer Shkedi, the head of the Israeli Air Force, reports directly to the Prime Minister. In late October, Olmert appointed Ephraim Sneh, a Labor Party member of the Knesset, to serve as Deputy Defense Minister. Sneh, who served previously in that position under Ehud Barak, has for years insisted that action be taken to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. In an interview this month with the Jerusalem Post, Sneh expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of diplomacy or international sanctions in curbing Iran:
The danger isn?t as much Ahmadinejad?s deciding to launch an attack but Israel?s living under a dark cloud of fear from a leader committed to its destruction. . . . Most Israelis would prefer not to live here; most Jews would prefer not to come here with families, and Israelis who can live abroad will . . . I am afraid Ahmadinejad will be able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That?s why we must prevent this regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs.
A similar message was delivered by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud leader, in a speech in Los Angeles last week. ?It?s 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs,? he said, adding that there was ?still time? to stop the Iranians.
The Pentagon consultant told me that, while there may be pressure from the Israelis, ?they won?t do anything on their own without our green light.? That assurance, he said, ?comes from the Cheney shop. It?s Cheney himself who is saying, ?We?re not going to leave you high and dry, but don?t go without us.? ? A senior European diplomat agreed: ?For Israel, it is a question of life or death. The United States does not want to go into Iran, but, if Israel feels more and more cornered, there may be no other choice.?
A nuclear-armed Iran would not only threaten Israel. It could trigger a strategic-arms race throughout the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt?all led by Sunni governments?would be compelled to take steps to defend themselves. The Bush Administration, if it does take military action against Iran, would have support from Democrats as well as Republicans. Senators Hillary Clinton, of New York, and Evan Bayh, of Indiana, who are potential Democratic Presidential candidates, have warned that Iran cannot be permitted to build a bomb and that?as Clinton said earlier this year??we cannot take any option off the table.? Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has also endorsed this view. Last May, Olmert was given a rousing reception when he addressed a joint session of Congress and declared, ?A nuclear Iran means a terrorist state could achieve the primary mission for which terrorists live and die?the mass destruction of innocent human life. This challenge, which I believe is the test of our time, is one the West cannot afford to fail.?
Despite such rhetoric, Leslie Gelb, a former State Department official who is a president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, said he believes that, ?when push comes to shove, the Israelis will have a hard time selling the idea that an Iranian nuclear capability is imminent. The military and the State Department will be flat against a pre?mptive bombing campaign.? Gelb said he hoped that Gates?s appointment would add weight to America?s most pressing issue??to get some level of Iranian restraint inside Iraq. In the next year or two, we?re much more likely to be negotiating with Iran than bombing it.?
The Bush Administration remains publicly committed to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear impasse, and has been working with China, Russia, France, Germany, and Britain to get negotiations under way. So far, that effort has foundered; the most recent round of talks broke up early in November, amid growing disagreements with Russia and China about the necessity of imposing harsh United Nations sanctions on the Iranian regime. President Bush is adamant that Iran must stop all of its enrichment programs before any direct talks involving the United States can begin.
The senior European diplomat told me that the French President, Jacques Chirac, and President Bush met in New York on September 19th, as the new U.N. session was beginning, and agreed on what the French called the ?Big Bang? approach to breaking the deadlock with Iran. A scenario was presented to Ali Larijani, the chief Iranian negotiator on nuclear issues. The Western delegation would sit down at a negotiating table with Iran. The diplomat told me, ?We would say, ?We?re beginning the negotiations without preconditions,? and the Iranians would respond, ?We will suspend.? Our side would register great satisfaction, and the Iranians would agree to accept I.A.E.A. inspection of their enrichment facilities. And then the West would announce, in return, that they would suspend any U.N. sanctions.? The United States would not be at the table when the talks began but would join later. Larijani took the offer to Tehran; the answer, as relayed by Larijani, was no, the diplomat said. ?We were trying to compromise, for all sides, but Ahmadinejad did not want to save face,? the diplomat said. ?The beautiful scenario has gone nowhere.?
Last week, there was a heightened expectation that the Iraq Study Group would produce a set of recommendations that could win bipartisan approval and guide America out of the quagmire in Iraq. Sources with direct knowledge of the panel?s proceedings have told me that the group, as of mid-November, had ruled out calling for an immediate and complete American withdrawal but would recommend focussing on the improved training of Iraqi forces and on redeploying American troops. In the most significant recommendation, Baker and Hamilton were expected to urge President Bush to do what he has thus far refused to do?bring Syria and Iran into a regional conference to help stabilize Iraq.
It is not clear whether the Administration will be receptive. In August, according to the former senior intelligence official, Rumsfeld asked the Joint Chiefs to quietly devise alternative plans for Iraq, to pre?mpt new proposals, whether they come from the new Democratic majority or from the Iraq Study Group. ?The option of last resort is to move American forces out of the cities and relocate them along the Syrian and Iranian border,? the former official said. ?Civilians would be hired to train the Iraqi police, with the eventual goal of separating the local police from the Iraqi military. The White House believes that if American troops stay in Iraq long enough?with enough troops?the bad guys will end up killing each other, and Iraqi citizens, fed up with internal strife, will come up with a solution. It?ll take a long time to move the troops and train the police. It?s a time line to infinity.?
In a subsequent interview, the former senior Bush Administration official said that he had also been told that the Pentagon has been at work on a plan in Iraq that called for a military withdrawal from the major urban areas to a series of fortified bases near the borders. The working assumption was that, with the American troops gone from the most heavily populated places, the sectarian violence would ?burn out.? ?The White House is saying it?s going to stabilize,? the former senior Administration official said, ?but it may stabilize the wrong way.?
One problem with the proposal that the Administration enlist Iran in reaching a settlement of the conflict in Iraq is that it?s not clear that Iran would be interested, especially if the goal is to help the Bush Administration extricate itself from a bad situation.
?Iran is emerging as a dominant power in the Middle East,? I was told by a Middle East expert and former senior Administration official. ?With a nuclear program, and an ability to interfere throughout the region, it?s basically calling the shots. Why should they co?perate with us over Iraq?? He recounted a recent meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who challenged Bush?s right to tell Iran that it could not enrich uranium. ?Why doesn?t America stop enriching uranium?? the Iranian President asked. He laughed, and added, ?We?ll enrich it for you and sell it to you at a fifty-per-cent discount.?
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #30 on:
November 25, 2006, 12:58:25 AM »
November 25, 2006
Iraq's new reality demands new debate on U.S. role
USA TODAY | Aug 4, 2006
Bush blames Iraq violence on Saddam's divisive 'legacy'
AFP | Mar 29, 2006
The Freedom Crusade Revisited
The National Interest | Dec 1, 2005
Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Murderous Reign of Saddam Hussein
filmcritic.com | Oct 28, 2005
Ottoman massacre of Armenians remembered across Europe
AFP | Apr 24, 2005
Living Politics: What to Make of the 'New' Middle East
Newsweek | Mar 2, 2005
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A Doctrine Worth Saving
Stomping Bush may impose a steep price.
BY DANIEL HENNINGER
Friday, November 24, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
Thanksgiving is unavoidably bound up with the political life of this country. Each year the day before Thanksgiving this page publishes as its lead editorial a segment from the Plymouth Colony records of Nathaniel Morton based on the account of Governor William Bradford. The diary entry makes plain the world that spread before the Pilgrims in 1620--woods and thickets with a "wild and savage hew." My eye this year is drawn to its final line, describing a look backward that day across an ocean, "a gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world."
Over the next three centuries, the Pilgrims' ancestors and others fought and bled to improve the "civil" world they fled. The Revolutionary War took nearly 4,500 lives. The Civil War, a half-million lives. The combined dead in World War I was more than 116,000, and World War II's U.S. battle deaths to defeat Germany and Japan were close to 300,000. After all that, the United States became the foremost part of "the civil part of the world."
In the mid-1990s, I was talking to a politically sophisticated European lady about Europe's lack of military response to Milosevic's ethnic cleansing of the non-Serbs in Yugoslavia. She said, persuasively I thought, "You must understand how much bloody death has happened across our continent the past century. We have simply been worn out by it." In the event, the U.S. went in to stop another 20th-century genocide on the soil of that civil part of the world.
Her remark has come back to me in recent weeks, watching the paroxysm of antipathy toward the Iraq war and its progenitors. It would be one thing to say it is simply opposition to and dissent from an unpopular war and an unpopular president. But this has gone beyond that. The rhetoric is emotional and vituperative. I have seen audiences greet speakers denouncing Iraq as a "disaster" and "failure" with bursts of applause.
It is getting harder to distinguish between animosity toward George Bush and animosity toward the entire American enterprise beyond the nation's borders. As Norman Podhoretz delineated in the September issue of Commentary, columns and articles in journals of foreign policy are equating the tsunami of negativity rolling over Iraq with repudiation of the Bush Doctrine in toto.
One might have expected most of the disagreement to center on the doctrine's assertion of a right to pre-emptive attack. Instead, Iraq's troubles have been conflated with a general repudiation of the U.S.'s ability to abet democratic aspiration elsewhere in the world.
It is certainly possible that the Iraq effort will, in some obvious sense, "fail." Henry Kissinger now says "victory," defined as an Iraqi government gaining political control over the entire country, is not possible. But we might want to think some before we toss out the infant Bush Doctrine with the Iraqi bathwater.
As stated, the doctrine's strategy is "to help make the world not just safer but better." Some conservatives have denounced the "better world" part as utopian overstretch. Beyond that, the document lists as its goals the aspirations of human dignity, strengthening alliances to "defeat" terrorism, working with others to defuse regional conflicts, promoting global growth through free markets and trade and "opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy."
It is mainly the latter--the notion of the U.S. building the "infrastructure of democracy" that now, because of the "failure" in Iraq, attracts opposition across the political spectrum--from John Kerry to George Will and on out to neoconservatives confessing loss of faith in the Bush team to the unforgiving ear of Vanity Fair.
No doubt each of these has declared unfealty to the Bush effort for more or less honorable reasons. But someone ought to step back and consider the cumulative political effect of what of late has turned into an unrestrained gang-stomping of the sort normally seen at Miami-Florida International football games. We are ensuring that no future president, of either party, will project military power anytime soon short of retaliation for a nuclear attack. Every potential presidential candidate, including John McCain, has to be looking at the Bush administration's experience and concluding there is simply no political upside in doing so. We are backing the country's political mind into the long-term parking lot of isolationism, something fervently wished for at opposite ends of the U.S. political spectrum.
The specialists in the foreign-policy community will argue that a new administration can "adjust" policy to changed events and new challenges. That sells short the power of the anti-Bush wave (itself underestimated for three years by the Bushies). This is a new force. Powerful technologies--the Web, TV and (still) newspaper front pages--combine to amplify ancient human barbarities every day from the Sunni Triangle. The opinions of mere pundits acquire exponential authority, a scary thought. Baghdad has become the blood-soaked, psychological equal of the Somme or Gettysburg. The sense grows daily among the American public that helping "them" is hopeless and "we" should pull back to our shores.
Like the Europeans, we may talk ourselves into a weariness with the world and its various, unremitting violences. No genocide will occur on American soil, but the same information tide that bathes us in Baghdad's horrors ensure that Darfur's genocide will come too near not to notice. Too bad for them, or any aspiring democrats under the thumb of Russia, China, Nigeria, Venezuela or Islam's highly mobile anti-democrats. We've got ours. Let them get theirs.
Does this overstate the buildup of anti-Bush, anti-Iraq sentiment? Will U.S. policy, in the hands of ideologically frictionless bureaucracies, slide forward? Maybe. But even the realists and cynics might concede there has been some benefit, perhaps going back as far as Plymouth Rock, in having one nation standing for the conceit, or even the ideal, that men elsewhere with democratic aspirations could at least count on us for active support. This is the core idea in the Bush Doctrine. If its critics don't start making some distinctions, they may discover that profligacy of opinion in our time carries a very steep price.
Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Fridays in the Journal and on OpinionJournal.com.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #31 on:
November 27, 2006, 03:38:02 PM »
On 11/27/06, Marc Denny <
Geopolitical Diary: Twisting the Rubik's Cube
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that the United States is "trapped" in Iraq -- and that Iran is prepared to help to extricate it from the Iraqi "quagmire" provided that Washington changes its "bullying" behavior toward Tehran. Ahmadinejad's statements came the same day that a spokesman for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani confirmed he will travel to Tehran on Monday to discuss Iran's role in containing the violence in Iraq. Meanwhile, a top Kurdish member of the Iraqi National Assembly, Mahmoud Othman, said that while the Talabani's visit would be beneficial to Iraq, "a lot depends on the relations between the United States and Iran."
Talabani's trip to Tehran comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity. Both the United States and Iran are having discussions with key players throughout the region, and it appears increasingly likely they will at some point meet with each other as well. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney met with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Saturday -- likely taking the Saudis, a critical component in any U.S.-Iranian dealings, into confidence on what Washington intends to offer in exchange for Iran's cooperation in stabilizing Iraq. And Jordan will host a meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Nov. 29, and Egypt will host the foreign ministers of Iraq's neighboring states Dec. 5, as they explore possible ways to contain the violence in Iraq.
Both the Arabs and the Israelis -- for different reasons -- are worried about the implications of a potential U.S.-Iranian accommodation. Naturally, the Bush administration is in quite an awkward position. In order to allay Israeli concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons, Washington could agree to yield a significant degree of influence over Iraq to Tehran. Doing so, however, would be unacceptable to Washington's allies among the Arab Sunni states, as well as Turkey.
For its part, Ankara opposes the possibility of partition for Iraq -- as Prime Minister Marouf Bakheet said Saturday in a joint statement with Jordanian King Abdullah II.
The diplomatic activity and positioning throughout the region is an important component of the complex negotiations that are crucial to both U.S. and Iranian strategies concerning Iraq. But there is a conundrum. As each of these regional pieces falls into place, what Washington needs is for Tehran to use its influence among the Iraqi Shia to reach a deal with the Sunnis in that state. The Iranians have signaled that they are willing to do this, but for a price:
1) Security for the Iranian regime
2) Recognition of Iranian influence in Iraq
3) Acknowledgment of Iran's dominance in the Persian Gulf and the wider Middle East.
Given that price, it would appear that achieving stability within Iraq means destabilizing the regional balance of power. Merely by engaging Tehran in direct discussions, the United States would, in a de facto sense, be empowering Iran. And Washington could not very well walk away from the table without conceding to some of Iran's demands for influence. No matter how you cut the cards, the rise of Iran as a regional power is all but inseparable from any solution on Iraq. Washington will want to limit that power, using the fine print of any political negotiations, but success is far from assured -- and the precise status of Iran ultimately may not be the most important consideration. As the results of elections in Bahrain this weekend showed, the Shia of the region are already gathering strength.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #32 on:
November 27, 2006, 03:49:36 PM »
A second post, this from the Asia Times, which brings a perspective serious Americans would do well to bring onto their radar screen.
Page 1 of 3
The Saudis strike back at Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar
If ever the need arose to differentiate between brothers and friends, that was last week when Saudi King Abdullah bin-Abd al-Aziz al-Saud spoke of Iran as a "friend" of the Saudi state.
The king said this while receiving Iranian Ambassador Hossein Sadeqi during the latter's farewell call on the conclusion of an eventful two-year tour, which witnessed, arguably, a steady rise in the warmth and coziness of Saudi-Iranian relations.
The king praised the trend in the relations between the two countries in recent years, and stressed the importance of bolstering Saudi-Iranian relations "in all fields", adding that Saudi Arabia had "confidence" in Iran. But what stood out was Saudi Arabia's characterization of ties between the two most important countries of the Muslim world as being between "friends".
Nevertheless, Iran's sense of unease about the shadows falling on Saudi-Iranian ties and the potentially deleterious trust deficit developing between them over issues of regional stability and peace was apparent in its decision last week to keep out Saudi Arabia from the trilateral summit that Tehran proposed, involving the heads of states of Syria and Iraq. What has led to a chill in Saudi-Iranian relations is the eruption of vicious sectarian strife in Iraq, apart from the crisis unfolding in Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia has viewed with disquiet the rapid ascendancy of Iranian influence in Iraq since the US invasion. The reasons are several, but primarily the Shi'ite claim of political empowerment in the region haunts Riyadh, coupled with the prospect of Iran's seemingly unstoppable march as the premier regional power in the Persian Gulf region and the Middle East. The disquiet has turned into dismay as the incipient murmurs of a likely shift in the United States' strategy in Iraq have lately become audible, and given the likelihood of the shift involving a constructive engagement of the regimes in Tehran and Damascus by Washington.
Despite sustained Saudi (and Egyptian) efforts to carve out a niche of influence in the fragmented Iraqi political landscape, the desired results haven't been forthcoming. The latest Saudi attempt was the Mecca Document of October 20, endorsed by 29 Iraqi Sunni and Shi'ite senior clerics who assembled in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. They vowed to God in front of the blessed Kaaba "not to violate the sanctity of Muslim blood and to incriminate those who shed [it]".
But not only has the Mecca Document not arrested Shi'ite-Sunni hostilities within Iraq, the sectarian divide has since dramatically widened. Iran alleges that conspiracies pitting the Sunnis against Shi'ites are afoot. The powerful Speaker of the Iranian majlis (parliament), Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, while visiting the eastern province of Sistan-Balochistan (bordering Pakistan's restive Balochistan province), said on Saturday, "Today the enemies wish to sow the seed of discord among Shi'ites and Sunnis and make them insult each other ... The enemies of Islam are attempting to disrupt Muslim vigilance, lay their hand on the wealth of Muslim lands and plunder their oil reserves. To achieve this goal, they are attempting to sow the seed of discord among Muslims."
Indeed, Western media have also reported that in recent months US and Israeli intelligence have been working together in equipping and training Kurdish, Azeri and Baloch tribesmen to undertake covert operations in Iran's northern and southeastern provinces. Tehran already visualizes that in Lebanon, too, in the latest confrontation, the battle lines will fast assume a Sunni-Shi'ite dimension.
The latent Saudi-Iranian rivalry is likely to play out in Lebanon. Unlike with the Iraq problem, there is a convergence of Saudi and US interests over Lebanon. Saudi commentators have been counseling Washington not to compartmentalize Iraq and Lebanon as separate issues.
From the Saudi perspective, any US-Iranian engagement in the region should not be limited to a US "exit strategy" in Iraq. The fear of a resurgent Iran is palpable. The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper recently compared Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to Osama bin Laden as two renegades equally bent on destabilizing the region.
That is why Saudi diplomacy worked in tandem with the US to get a "global consensus" over the setting up of an international tribunal to look into the murder of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. Saudi commentators heaved a sigh of relief when Moscow decided to delink from Syria's (and Iran's) dogged opposition to the tribunal. But what was extraordinary was that the Saudis publicly commended the "significant and remarkable cooperation" from China in making it clear to the Russians that China was "on the side of the US, France and Britain" in the United Nations Security Council negotiations over the decision to set up the tribunal.
A Saudi commentator boasted, "By doing so, China left Russia with the sole option of cooperating and not obstructing." Indeed, the People's Daily recently took note of Washington's realization of the need of a "new direction" in its Middle East policy - "a new
Page 2 of 3
The Saudis strike back at Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar
Middle East plan, which aims to unite moderate Arab countries who are concerned about the rise of Iran and rampant extremist forces, to form an anti-Iran and anti-extremist alliance" - though it doubted what a mere course correction could do in "extricating the US from the quagmire it created by itself in the Middle East".
The Saudi expectation is that the UN decision to set up the tribunal (which was promptly approved by the Lebanese cabinet of Saudi-backed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Friday, despite warnings from Hezbollah) signifies a development of historic proportions in redrawing political alignments in the Middle East.
From the Saudi point of view, the tribunal will inexorably lead to the unraveling of the Ba'athist regime in Damascus; the breakup of the Iranian-Syrian nexus in the region; the return of Syria to the mainstream Arab fold; the near-total isolation of Hezbollah within Lebanon, which in turn could pave the way for its eventual co-option (once it is cleansed of militancy and sanitized from Iranian influence); and the overall weakening of Iran's standing as the Shi'ite powerhouse in the region, especially in Iraq.
Equally, the Saudis are displaying in Lebanon their true grit as a US ally in the region. They are showing that in countering Iranian influence they are prepared to dig in, no matter what it takes. Riyadh has cast aside its proclivity to remain on the sidelines while the Iraq crisis matured in the critical 2003-05 period, which led to its disastrous isolation (and Egypt's).
Riyadh expects Washington to take note that Iran's rising regional influence can still be arrested. Significantly, US Vice President Dick Cheney lost no time arriving in Riyadh on Saturday for a hurried two-hour meeting with King Abdullah. During the meeting, to quote the Saudi Press Agency, the two sides discussed "the whole range of events and developments on the regional and international scenes ... the Palestinian problem and the situation in Iraq in particular".
The choice of Cheney to undertake such a sensitive mission at this point speaks something of the thought processes of President George W Bush regarding Iraq. It also speaks something about the importance of Cheney in the last two years of Bush's presidency. Three things must be said about Cheney's beliefs. First, he is steadfast in his belief that the Iraq war is still a "doable" job. Second, he consistently maintains that an Iraq settlement is inconceivable without a regime change in Iran.
Most important, Cheney believes that when it comes to Israel's security, US politicians are alike. Name them, they are all "friends of Israel" - Democratic presidential hopefuls Senators Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, and the incoming chairman of the House Committee on International Affairs, Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos.
Thus it is of immense consequence that Bush decided to give Cheney a chance to perform (rather than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) in the center stage of the Middle East's geopolitics at this crucial turning point. The United States' strategy in the Iraq war is under intense scrutiny, and the White House should soon receive the report of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) co-chaired by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton.
Cheney's consultations in Riyadh mesh with what Seymour Hersh wrote in the current issue of The New Yorker: "Sources with direct knowledge of the [ISG] panel's proceedings have told me that the group, as of mid-November, had ruled out calling for an immediate and complete American withdrawal but would recommend focusing on the improved training of Iraqi forces and on redeploying American troops."
What does this portend for Tehran? Certainly, what is becoming clear is that it is small change for Iran, even if the ISG recommends that Syria and Iraq should be brought into a regional conference to help stabilize Iraq, and if Bush accepts such a recommendation.
The point is Iran is inherently at a disadvantage with regard to the Saudi stratagem. The specter of a Shi'ite crescent is a useful rallying cry for the beleaguered regimes in Riyadh (and Cairo and Amman), whereas for Tehran it is a huge embarrassment and a major obstacle. For Iran, Shi'ite empowerment is a means to an end. Iran considers its manifest destiny to be the leader of the Islamic world.
As Tehran sees it, it has been a long wait but Iraq and Syria are finally emerging as a new center of gravity in the Arab world. And Iran is in alliance with it. Also, Iran sees a historic opportunity in that almost 100 years after the Sykes-Picot agreement carved up the Middle East, the regional powers may finally be able to fill the power vacuum to ensure the US withdrawal from Iraq. The process is no doubt cataclysmic and, therefore, imperfect, stuttering and difficult. Iran nonetheless must pursue it to its optimal potential.
But the brusqueness with which Washington moved last week to stifle the Iranian initiative on the trilateral summit with Iraq and Syria also underscores what Tehran is up against. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani just couldn't emplane for Tehran on Saturday. The Americans clamped a curfew on Baghdad and simply shut down the city's airport.
Page 3 of 3
The Saudis strike back at Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also stayed in Damascus on Saturday instead of proceeding to Tehran. The Iranian initiative seems all but stillborn. Iran has since clarified that the tripartite summit would be "good" but no such meeting had been planned "of the kind reported by certain sections of the media".
Meanwhile, the Arab League's 10-member Iraq Committee came up with an announcement on Saturday that it would hold a foreign minister-level meeting in Cairo on December 5 with a view to finding a way to end the "cascades of blood in Iraq".
No doubt, neither Iran nor Syria is likely to take lying low the US attempt to isolate them in the region. As prominent Middle East commentator Rami Khouri put it, they are "unlikely to behave like Libya by caving into the pressure and unilaterally giving the US what it wants ... They will demand a high price for cooperating with the US and helping it leave Iraq."
Therefore, it remains to be seen whether an international process in the form of the tribunal over Lebanon was a judicious move after all. In a region where assassinations form part of the political culture (and often, as for Israel, constitute an instrument of state policy), the setting up of a tribunal over Lebanon smacks of cynicism. Besides, such processes often acquire a momentum of their own, and it may so happen that the tribunal over Lebanon may spin out of US control. In essence, the international tribunal is a "new form of neo-colonial behavior" (to quote Khouri), even if the US is acting in league with Britain and France, two veteran battle-scarred colonial powers in the region, and despite China and Russia having acquiesced for reasons of their own.
To be sure, Iran and Syria will resist with all their capacity. For the present, though, the Iranians find themselves somewhat in the same predicament as Banquo in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth when "through the fog and filthy air", the noble warrior heard the witches' prophesy, "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none."
M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for more than 29 years, with postings including ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-98) and to Turkey (1998-2001).
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
VDH: A Tale of Two Mindsets
Reply #33 on:
December 01, 2006, 11:24:30 AM »
Two versions of what we should do next.
By Victor Davis Hanson
Five years after September 11, and three-and-a-half years after toppling Saddam Hussein, the U.S. is almost as angry at itself as it is at the enemy. Two quite antithetical views of the war on terror — and indeed, the entire American role in the Middle East — are now crystallizing.
Ideology and political affiliation are no longer necessarily touchstones to either opinion — not at a time when The Nation and The American Conservative share the same views on Iraq and the role of the United States abroad. Republican senators like Chuck Hagel call for withdrawal, while Democrats like a Joe Liebermann do not.
Republican realists are welcomed by liberal Democrats, who want nothing to do with the neo-Wilsonian neo-conservatives that once would have seemed more characteristic of liberal’s erstwhile idealism. It is not just that public intellectuals, politicians, generals, and journalists have different views, but their views themselves are different in almost every 24-hour news cycle. Even the Bush administration at times seems torn, gravitating between both schools of thought.
While there are dozens of variants to the following two divergent positions, they represent a clear enough picture of the present divide.
The Majority Opinion
The new majority school of thought — often described as the more nuanced and more sophisticated — seems to conclude that the “global war on terror” (if that’s even what it ever really was) is insidiously winding down to a police matter. Billions spent in lives and treasure in Iraq did not make us any safer; the passing of time, the dissipation of passions, and increased vigilance did.
We haven’t had another 9/11. Al Qaeda is probably scattered. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are exhibiting the usual, generic Middle East insanity that is largely beyond our own powers of remedy.
Rogue states in the region will ultimately be dealt with, as in the pre-Bush II past, by a sort of containment — whether through retaliatory and punitive air strikes, foreign aid concessions, shuttle diplomacy, no-fly zones, or embargoes and boycotts.
If there ever were need for strong military action and invasion, that time is clearly past, at least for now. The long-term negative effects would more than outweighed any short-term benefits — as we see from the repercussion of the mess in Iraq and possibly Afghanistan as well.
In this way of thinking, an all-encompassing Islamic fundamentalism that threatens the very survival of the West is at best mostly a fantasy — at worst, a license for the U.S. to intervene globally (often against our interests) with the excuse of “fighting terror.”
Certainly, there exists nothing as melodramatic as “Islamic fascism.” That is a misnomer that needlessly alienates millions of moderate Muslims. And such reckless and inexact nomenclature clumsily ignores both the history and all the key fissures — Shiite/Sunni; Hamas/Hezbollah; theocracy/autocracy/ monarchy; Persian/Arab/Kurd/Turk; etc. — of the complex Islamic world.
Instead, the United States, in pragmatic fashion, needs to address regional problems, particularly with more sophisticated, and less ideological, remedies.
Hamas and its rivals exist largely because of the occupied West Bank: force Israel back to its 1967 borders, and Palestinian grievances — and the violence — largely vanish, as the United States at last is freed from much of the old Pavlovian hatred so endemic in the Arab World. Radical bluster from the West Bank can sometimes sound creepy, but it is largely braggadocio, or perhaps a cry from the heart, and thus will quietly go away once the Palestinians have their own autonomous state with internationally recognized borders that reflect pre-1967 reality.
Hezbollah is not really a global terrorist network, but an offshoot of the trouble in Lebanon. It can be handled in part by granting concessions to Syria (such as an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights), winning promises from Israel to be proportionate in responding to occasional (but mostly ineffectual) border provocations, and seeking more equitable political representation for Lebanese Shiites.
Iran is a danger, but not a fatal one. It can be balanced by Sunni sheikdoms in the Gulf and checked by multilaterally sponsored and enforced sanctions authorized by the United Nations.
As far as America goes, the old method of balancing one autocracy against another, with occasional but quiet and respectful lectures about good behavior and reform, is, however regrettably, often about as much as we can do. Sporadic violence against individual Americans can be dealt with through indictments, international policing, and, in extremis, an occasional air strike.
In general, internal security measures, such as wiretaps, Guantanamo-like detention centers abroad, and the Patriot Act, were of limited, if any, efficacy in thwarting another 9/11. They now probably pose as great a threat to our freedoms as do the terrorists.
Indeed, September 11 in proper hindsight seems more and more to have been a sort of fluke, a lucky strike by al Qaeda, predicated both on their sanctuary in Afghanistan and our own somnolence. Both have since been largely addressed. So the specter of another attack of a similar magnitude may well have passed. In some ways, our over-reaction to the bogeyman of “Islamic fascism” has made us less safe, by gratuitously creating new enemies where none previously existed.
However unwise, removing Saddam Hussein may have had some initial utility. But now any benefit is overshadowed by a messy civil war, whose violence is only exacerbated by the presence of American troops that have long overstayed both their welcome and their usefulness.
The best solution to Iraq is to begin now a steady, but sure, unilateral withdrawal under the rubric of “redeployment” — with sincere hopes that three years of our blood and treasure should have been enough to jumpstart democracy, and with even more sincere regrets if they have not. In short, Iraq has turned into an unfortunate, but predictable, fiasco, and it is time to cut it loose with as little blowback as possible.
Anti-Americanism in the Middle East and Europe is largely a phenomenon of George Bush’s idiosyncratic manners and his once-loud advocacy of preemption and unilateralism, particularly in March 2003. With his retirement, things will gradually settle down to the general equilibrium of the Bush I and Clinton eras.
There are indeed dangers on the horizon with nuclear proliferation, threats to wipe out Israel, and endemic terrorism. But as soon as the United States and the West are out of Iraq, become a neutral and honest broker between the Israelis and Palestinians, and avoid gratuitous slurs against Islam (such as the pope’s unfortunate remarks or the needlessly hurtful Danish cartoons), our reputation will improve and Muslim hostility will subside — and with it any popular support for militants like Osama bin Laden.
The Minority Brief
We really are in a global war. Its dimensions are hard to conceptualize since our enemies, while aided and abetted by sympathetic Middle Eastern dictatorships, claim no national affinity. Indeed, the terrorists deliberately mask the role of their patrons. The latter, given understandable fears of the overwhelming conventional power of the United States military, deny culpability.
In an age of globalization and miniaturized weapons of mass destruction, it is even more difficult to convince Western publics that they may well face peril from state-sponsored terrorists every bit as great as what the Wehrmacht, Imperial Japan, or the Red Army once posed.
While there are regional theaters of conflict predicated on local grievances — as in the multiplicity of fighting during World War II in China, Ethiopia, Poland, Finland, France, North Africa, the Balkans, Russia, the Pacific, etc. — there is nevertheless once more a transnational ideology that seeks to force its worldviews on others.
Like fascism or Communism, Islamism galvanizes millions with its reductionist claims of Western liberal culpability for widely diverse Muslim gripes from Afghanistan to the West Bank. Rather than seeing a plethora of grievances that can be individually addressed, it is more valuable and accurate to understand the problem as a general complaint that in turn manifests itself in different regions and circumstances. While Cypriots or Tibetans don’t blow themselves up over lost land or honor, those energized with Islamist ideology often do. While Hindu, Christian, or Buddhist fundamentalists don’t appreciate popular culture mocking their religion, Islamists are the most likely to assassinate or threaten the novelist or cartoonist as the supposed blasphemer.
Islamic fascism exists, then, as a reactionary creed that sees traditional Islamic culture threatened with Western-inspired global liberalization and modernization. Drawing on the Middle East’s sense of misery and victimization by others, its narrative harkens back to a purer age.
Once upon a time, the truly devout defeated their enemies and lived a morally pure life under a caliphate of like believers. That universal rule of Islam is at last once more attainable — given the general decadence of the postmodern West, the illegitimacy and vulnerability of most Middle Eastern governments, and the simple fact that vast petroleum reserves, coupled with jihadist fervor, can be translated into militarily powerful, high-tech forces that will obtain superiority over the crusading infidel.
On the home front, demoralization and a sort of cultural relativism are far more worrisome than the Patriot Act and related measures. By the prior benchmarks of the wartime administrations of Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, and Nixon, these measures are relatively innocuous — and yet have done much to prevent another attack on the United States.
It was not the Patriot Act that banned operas, condemned cartoons, allowed films to be ostracized, or muzzled teachers, but Western self-censorship and fear. Jihadists brilliantly drew on boilerplate anti-Western arguments from Western elites, and when they recycled tired charges of imperialism, racism, and colonialism they found them surprisingly effective at undermining Western morale.
Furthermore, September 11 was no fluke, but the logical culmination of two disastrous prior American policies: appeasement and cynical realism.
By not responding to a decade of prior attacks in East Africa, New York, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, and withdrawing ignominiously from Lebanon to Mogadishu, we gave the fatal impression that a terrorist could strike the United States with near impunity — given our addiction to the good life that we would not endanger at any cost. And by ignoring the abject failures of Middle East autocracies, we inadvertently ensured the second requisite to 9/11: dictatorial regimes that allowed terrorists free rein to scapegoat their own failures onto the infidel West.
The remedy, then, is to respond forcefully to terrorists and their sponsors, while simultaneously appealing to the people of the Islamic world that the United States is no longer cynically realist — but is actively working to promote consensual government throughout the region to address their lack of representation in their own affairs. That is not naiveté, but rather both the right and smart thing to do. Unlike the majority opinion that offers the chimera of stability through short-term expediency, the more costly, difficult, and ambitious minority view addresses conditions that more likely will lead to a lasting peace.
Iraq is far from lost, but in fact, despite the negative coverage, has a viable elected government that slogs on through the worst assaults imaginable. The coalition government includes all voices in the country. And that explains why, at least so far, there really is not a classic civil war in which one faction, with clearly defined goals of governance, tries to assume power, backed by substantial military force and broad public support.
The present strategy of Iraqization is the correct one, both for ethical and practical reasons. If we don’t withdraw precipitously, there is a good chance that Iraqi forces, and government flexibility, will eventually pacify Baghdad and its environs — where almost all the violence in the country is confined. Along with the stabilization of Afghanistan, and positive democratic developments in Lebanon, the Middle East is in flux, but with at least a chance of broad-based reform not seen in a half century.
Withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza, while strategically and politically understandable, brought little commensurate peace to Israel. And while negotiations about borders are vital to a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, a large number of the latter group believe that Israel itself can be unraveled through a mixture of terrorism, rocketry, and on-again-off-again diplomacy. Their real grievance against Israel is not so much its post-1967 retention of conquered land — there were 20 years of war prior to then — but its Westernized presence and daily example of success in a sea of failure. The pathologies of the Middle East were there prior to Israel, and will probably be enhanced rather than ameliorated by a sense of Israeli appeasement and American-induced concessions.
Finally, we are still one lax day away from another September 11, and will continue to be so until the currency and appeal of radical Islamism are history. Anti-Americanism can be crystallized by George Bush and his policies, but it was a pre-existing pathology that will survive long after he is gone — inasmuch as it is a symptom of a much larger malady: envy by the weaker of the world’s only hyperpower; ubiquity of intrusive globalized and destabilizing American popular culture; and the assurance that America, unlike a Russia or China, is sensitive to its critics and, indeed, often offers them the most sophisticated condemnations of its own values and traditions.
How to Judge?
Again, while there are variances, these are the general antitheses about our present war. The current majority view is slowing gaining ascendancy in policy-making circles. It reflects a general weariness on the part of the American people, who are daily bombarded with stories of anti-Americanism abroad, IED explosions in Iraq, and more mayhem on the West Bank. All that gloom and doom contributes to this feeling that we have already done enough, if not too much, and can, with more or less relative security, return to the status of the pre-September 11 world.
Like all wartime debates, the final arbiter will be the battlefield. If realist diplomacy, an end to the Bush Doctrine, withdrawal from Iraq, renewed pressure on Israel, and a rescinding of security measures can avoid another 9/11, prevent Middle East nuclear proliferation, deflate radical Islam’s appeal, and corral hostile regimes from gaining regional ascendancy, then the majority view may prove correct.
But if, on the other hand…well, you know the answer, and my own views on the matter.
— 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 -
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #34 on:
December 04, 2006, 12:57:12 AM »
I'm less than fully persuaded by the end-game that results from his specific suggestions, but some pertinent points are made by former world chess champ.
Obsessed with Iraq, we've lost sight of the rest of the world.
BY GARRY KASPAROV
Saturday, December 2, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
For the past few years, the dictators and terrorists have been gaining ground, and with good reason. The deepening catastrophe in Iraq has distracted the world's sole superpower from its true goals, and weakened the U.S. politically as well as militarily. With new congressional leadership threatening to make the same mistake--failing to see Iraq as only one piece of a greater puzzle--it is time to return to the basics of strategic planning.
Thirty years as a chess player ingrained in me the importance of never losing sight of the big picture. Paying too much attention to one area of the chessboard can quickly lead to the collapse of your entire position. America and its allies are so focused on Iraq they are ceding territory all over the map. Even the vague goals of President Bush's ambiguous war on terror have been pushed aside by the crisis in Baghdad.
The U.S. must refocus and recognize the failure of its post-9/11 foreign policy. Pre-emptive strikes and deposing dictators may or may not have been a good plan, but at least it was a plan. However, if you attack Iraq, the potential to go after Iran and Syria must also be on the table. Instead, the U.S. finds itself supervising a civil war while helplessly making concessions elsewhere.
This dire situation is a result of the only thing worse than a failed strategy: the inability to recognize, or to admit, that a strategy has failed. Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon. Iran is openly boasting of its uranium enrichment program while pouring money into Hezbollah and Hamas. A resurgent Taliban is on the rise in Afghanistan. Nearly off the radar, Somalia is becoming an al Qaeda haven. Worst of all is the answer to the question that ties all of these burning fuses together: No, we are not safer now than we were before.
The seeds for this situation were sown in the one real success the West has had. The attack on the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan went so well that the U.S. and its allies did not appreciate all the reasons for the success. Almost every player on the world stage benefited from the attack on Afghanistan. The rout of the Sunni Taliban delighted Iran. Russia and China have no love for religious extremism near their borders. India was happy to see the U.S. launch a direct attack on Muslim terrorists.
Only Pakistan was put under uncomfortable pressure, although even there, Pervez Musharraf has been able to play both sides well enough to appear to be an essential ally to the West, while terrorists and weapons cross his borders freely. Gen. Musharraf has perfected the formula of holding himself up as the last defense against the extremists in order to gain immunity for his dictatorship. Not only was there a confluence of world opinion aided by sympathy for the U.S. after 9/11, but the proverbial bad guys were undoubtedly bad, and we knew where they were. As subsequent events have shown, effectively bombing terrorists is a rare opportunity.
Learning from our defeats is obvious, but too often we fail to appreciate the reasons for our successes; we take them for granted. The U.S. charged into Iraq without appreciating the far greater difficulty of the postwar task there, and how it would be complicated by the increasingly hostile global opinion of America's military adventures.
America's role as "bad cop" has been a flop on the global stage. Without the American presence in Iraq as a target and scapegoat, Iraqis would be forced to make the hard political decisions they are currently avoiding. We won't know if Iraq can stand on its own until the U.S. forces leave. Meanwhile, South Korea and China refuse to take action on North Korea while accusing the U.S. of provocative behavior. How quickly would their attitudes change if the U.S. pulled its troops out of the Korean Peninsula? Or if Japan--not to mention Taiwan--announced nuclear weapon plans?
From Caracas to Moscow to Pyongyang, everyone follows their own agenda while ignoring President Bush and the U.N. Here in Russia, for example, Vladimir Putin gets Mr. Bush's endorsement for membership to the World Trade Organization while selling advanced air defense missile systems to Iran and imposing sanctions on Georgia, itself a WTO member. WTO membership is not going to benefit ordinary Russians, but it will provide more cover for Mr. Putin and his gang of oligarchs to continue to loot the country and launder the money abroad with no resistance from a distracted, discredited and enfeebled West.
We might not know what works, but we have many fine examples of what doesn't work, and we cannot continue to ignore them. As the world's sole superpower, the U.S. has become a lightening rod. Any intervention causes resentment, and even many traditional allies oppose U.S. plans almost out of hand. America's overly proactive foreign policy has also allowed other nations to avoid responsibility for their own safety, and to avoid making the tough decisions that come with that responsibility.
At the same time, the U.N. has become a perfect example of a broken institution. When leaders are afraid to take real action they go to the U.N., where they know nothing tangible will be achieved. Resolutions are routinely ignored without consequences and, in fact, are openly flouted. Hezbollah proudly waved weapons as the Israeli army left Lebanon, and the kidnapped Israeli soldiers have yet to be released.
So what then, to do? "Mission accomplished" jokes aside, the original goals in Iraq--deposing Saddam Hussein and holding elections--have been achieved. Nation-building was never on the agenda, and it should not be added now. All the allied troops in the world aren't going to stop the Iraqi people from continuing their civil war if this is their choice. As long as Muslim leaders in Iraq and elsewhere are unwilling to confront their own radical elements, outsiders will be spectators in the line of fire.
As for stability, if allied troops leave Iraq: What stability? I won't say things can't get worse--if we've learned anything, it's that things in the Middle East can always get worse; but at least the current deadly dynamic would be changed. And with change there is always hope for improvement. Without change, we are expecting a different result from the same behavior, something once defined as insanity.
Mr. Kasparov, a former world chess champion, is chairman of the United Civil Front in Russia.
Would you like an RPG with your Order?
Reply #35 on:
December 04, 2006, 09:57:21 PM »
December 04, 2006
In a forthcoming study for the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Israel's Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, senior researcher Ely Karmon raises the alarming prospect of Hezbollah affiliated groups bringing the Lebanese terrorists' brand of violence to the Americas. While acknowledging that it is too soon to draw clear conclusions about the nature and objectives of these Hezbollah "franchisees," Karmon nonetheless notes that "successful campaigns of proselytism in the heart of poor indigene Indian tribes and populations by both Shi'a and Sunni preachers and activists" have contributed to the growing attraction of Islamist terrorist groups in Latin America. Karmon also observes that "there is a growing trend of solidarity between leftist, Marxist, anti-global and even rightist elements with the Islamists," citing inter alia the September 2004 "strategy conference" of anti-globalization groups hosted by Hezbollah in Beirut.
Evidence of this was already available in the Washington Post's front page coverage of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's September 22 mass rally, which mentioned that among those in attendance was a Lebanese expatriate who had flown in from Venezuela for the event and that "[a]t the mention of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a critic of America, cheers went up."
As it happens, one month after the demonstration in Beirut, on October 23, Venezuelan police discovered two explosive devices near the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. According to a statement in El Universal from the acting police commissioner of the Baruta district, law enforcement officials arrested a man carrying a "backpack containing one hundred black powder bases, pliers, adhesive tape, glue, and electric conductors" who "admitted that the explosives had been set to detonate within fifteen minutes." The man arrested was José Miguel Rojas Espinoza, a 26-year-old student at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, a Chávez-founded institution whose website proclaims that it offers a free "practical and on the ground education" contributing to "a more just, united, and sustainable society, world peace, and a new progressive and pluralist civilization."
Two days after the failed bombing, a web posting by a group calling itself Venezuelan Hezbollah claimed -- "in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful" -- responsibility for the attack. The bombing was meant to publicize Venezuelan Hezbollah's existence and its mission to "build an Islamic nation in Venezuela and all the countries of America," under the guidance of "the ideology of the revolutionary Islam of the Imam Khomeini." (Without a hint of irony, the communiqué, signed by "Latin American Hezbollah," disparaged those who would present the suspect as "a lunatic and a madman in order to hide the truth that he is an Islamic mujahid, a man who has undertaken jihad through the call of our group.")
This episode, barely noticed in our preoccupation with the midterm elections, is not the first of its kind in the Americas. On November 9, a court in Argentina issued an arrest warrant for former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and eight other former Iranian officials for their part in the 1994 bombing of the a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. Prosecutors in the case formally accused Iran of ordering the terrorist attack and Hezbollah of carrying it out. Immediately after the judicial actions, Argentine Housing Minister Luis D'Elía, a self-professed follower of Chávez and a leftist demagogue on his own right (he is best known for organizing invasions of private property by piqueteros, unruly unemployed protesters), went to the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires and read out a statement denouncing the legal proceedings as "American-Israeli military aggression against the Islamic Republic." (An embarrassed President Néstor Kirchner was forced to fire the minister.)
As Rachel Ehrenfeld spotlighted in an excellent National Review Online column back in 2003, exploiting its entrée with the Lebanese diaspora, Hezbollah has had a longstanding and profitable presence in South America. In the largely ungoverned jungles of the tri-border region of where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay intersect, Hezbollah clerics have been active since the mid-1980s, seeking converts as well as recruiting new members and organizing cells among immigrant Muslim communities from the Middle East. In addition, Brazilian, Argentinean, and other Latin American intelligence sources report the existence of special Hezbollah-run weekend camps, where children and teenagers receive weapons and combat training, as well as indoctrination them in the anti-American and anti-Semitic ideologies of the Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors. Hezbollah is heavily involved in South America's thriving trade in illegal drugs, cultivating alliances with both drug cartels and narco-terrorist outfits with revolutionary aspirations like the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia. Brazilian security agencies estimate that hundreds of millions in profits are sent annually from Islamist organizations operating in the tri-border region to the Middle East, most of it going to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Last summer, one week before a cross-border raid by Hezbollah precipitated open conflict between the terrorist group governing southern Lebanon and the State of Israel we warned in a contribution to TCS Daily that the Iranian-backed terrorists' build-up along that border was producing dangerous tensions. "Time is not on Israel's side here," we wrote. "Eventually, Israel may feel compelled to exercise its sovereign right to self-defense by preemptively attacking in a manner that not only eliminates the Fajr rockets, but also prevents Tehran from easily reestablishing them." We concluded by arguing: "For all our sakes, it's high time to bring Hezbollah back into the international limelight."
Then came the ceasefire mandated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, at which point we noted in another TCS essay that "by setting his strategic objective so ridiculously low—at one point he declared that his group 'needs only to survive to win'—Hezbollah's Nasrallah had emerged from the ordeal that he imposed on Lebanon with bragging rights." We feared that Nasrallah would exercise these rights to the detriment not just of Israelis and Lebanese, but also of Americans and others who oppose his terrorist group and the revolutionary ideology of his Iranian mullah patrons. Even we, however, did not anticipate how quickly Hezbollah would be exploiting its strategic opportunity to significantly expand both the scope and magnitude of its nefarious activities—and right into our own backyard at that.
Five months ago, we warned of a dangerous nexus between Iranian revolutionary and geopolitical ambitions, Syrian irredentism, and Hezbollah terrorism north of Israel's borders. Now it appears that the combination of Chávez's anti-Americanism, Iran's well-financed expansion of the umma and Latin American radicalism is forming yet another front for Islamist fascism, this time in nominally Christian South America. Secretary of Defense-designate Robert Gates, a former CIA chief, would do well to insist that this new front for jihad become a priority for the administration's war on terror.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #36 on:
January 10, 2007, 04:52:16 PM »
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BY EDWARD N. LUTTWAK
January 10, 2007; Page A17
It was the hugely ambitious project of the Bush administration to transform the entire Middle East by remaking Iraq into an irresistible model of prosperous democracy. Having failed in that worthy purpose, another, more prosaic result has inadvertently been achieved: divide and rule, the classic formula for imperial power on the cheap. The ancient antipathy between Sunni and Shiite has become a dynamic conflict, not just within Iraq but across the Middle East, and key protagonists on each side seek the support of American power. Once the Bush administration realizes what it has wrought, it will cease to scramble for more troops that can be sent to Iraq, because it has become pointless to patrol and outpost a civil war, while a mere quarter or less of the troops already there are quite enough to control the outcome. And that is just the start of what can now be achieved across the region with very little force, and some competent diplomacy.
President Bush and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim: 'Hardly a natural partner.'
On Dec. 4, 2006, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of Iraq's largest political party, went to the White House to plead his case with President Bush. The son of an ayatollah, and himself a lifelong militant cleric, Mr. Hakim is hardly a natural partner for the U.S. -- while living in Iran for 23 years he must have declaimed "death to America" on many an occasion. But as the chief leader of Iraq's Arab Shiite population, he has no choice. Each day brings deadly Sunni attacks, and just as the Sunnis are strengthened by volunteers and money from outside Iraq, the Shiites, too, need all the help they can get, especially American military training for the Shiite-dominated army and police. For President Bush, the visiting Mr. Hakim brought welcome promises of cooperation against his aggressive Shiite rival Moqtada al-Sadr as well as the Sunni insurgents. It no longer even seems strange that the best ally of the U.S. in Iraq is Mr. Hakim's party, the Sciri: the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, whose very title evokes the Iranian model of radically anti-Western theocracy.
Just as the Sunni threat to majority rule in Iraq is forcing Sciri to cooperate with the U.S., the prospect of a Shiite-dominated Iraq is forcing Sunni Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Jordan, to seek American help against the rising power of the Shiites. Some Sunnis viewed Iran with suspicion even when it was still under the conservative rule of the shah, in part because its very existence as the only Shiite state could inspire unrest among the oppressed Shiite populations of Arabia. More recently, the nearby Sunni Arab states have been increasingly worried by the military alliance between Iran, Syria and the Hezbollah of Lebanon. But now that a Shiite-ruled Iraq could add territorial contiguity to the alliance, forming a "Shiite crescent" extending all the way from Pakistan to the Mediterranean, it is not only the Sunnis of nearby Arabia that feel very seriously threatened. The entire order of Muslim orthodoxy is challenged by the expansion of heterodox Shiite rule.
Although it was the U.S. that was responsible for ending Sunni supremacy in Iraq along with Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, it remains the only possible patron for the Sunni Arab states resisting the Shiite alliance. Americans have no interest in the secular-sectarian quarrel, but there is a very real convergence of interests with the Sunni Arab states because Iran is the main enemy for both.
At this moment, it is in Lebanon that the new Sunni-U.S. alliance has become active. With continuing mass demonstrations and threatening speeches, the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is trying to force the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora to give way to a new coalition which he can dominate. Syria and Iran are supporting Mr. Nasrallah, while the U.S. is backing Mr. Siniora. He has the support of the Druze and of most Christians as well, but it is also very much as a Sunni leader that Mr. Siniora is firmly resisting so far. That has gained him the financial backing of Saudi Arabia, which is funding Sunni counterdemonstrations and has even tried to co-opt Hezbollah, among other things. It was in their Arab identity that Hezbollah claimed heroic status because they were not routed by the Israelis in the recent fighting, but evidently many Sunni Arabs in and out of Lebanon view them instead as Shiite sectarians, far too obedient to non-Arab Iran. That suits the U.S., for Iran and Hezbollah are its enemies, too.
The Sunni-U.S. alignment in Lebanon, which interestingly coexists with the U.S.-Shiite alliance in Iraq, may yet achieve results of strategic importance if Syria is successfully detached from its alliance with Iran. Originally it was a necessary alliance for both countries because Saddam's Iraq was waging war on Iran, and periodically tried to overthrow the Assad regime of Syria. Now that Iraq is no longer a threat to either country, Iran still needs Syria as a bridge to Hezbollah, but for Syria the alliance is strategically obsolete, as well as inconsistent with the country's Arab identity. True, Syria is ruled primarily by members of the Alawite sect that is usually classified as a Shiite offshoot. But that extremely heterodox faith (it has Christmas and the transmigration of souls) is far different from the Shiism of Iraq, Lebanon or Iran -- where it would be persecuted; and besides, at least 70% of Syrians are Sunnis. That may explain why the Syrian regime has not used its full influence to overthrow Mr. Siniora: His stand against the Shiite Hezbollah resonates with his fellow Sunnis of Syria. But another reason may be the promise of substantial aid and investment from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates for Syria's needy economy, if the regime diminishes its alliance with Iran and Hezbollah, or better, ends it altogether. The U.S., for its part, is no longer actively driving Syria into the arms of the Iranians by threatening a march on Damascus, while even the unofficial suggestions of negotiations by the Iraq Study Group made an impression, judging by some conciliatory Syrian statements.
The U.S.-Sunni alliance, which is a plain fact in Lebanon, is still only tentative over Syria; but it would be greatly energized if Iran were successfully deprived of its only Arab ally. At the same time, the U.S.-Shiite alliance in Iraq has been strengthened in the wake of Mr. Hakim's visit. The Sunni insurgency is undiminished, but at least other Shiite groups are jointly weakening the only actively anti-American Shiite faction headed by Mr. Sadr.
When the Bush administration came into office, only Egypt and Jordan were functioning allies of the U.S. Iran and Iraq were already declared enemies, Syria was hostile, and even its supposed friends in the Arabian peninsula were so disinclined to help that none did anything to oppose al Qaeda. Some actively helped it, while others knowingly allowed private funds to reach the terrorists whose declared aim was to kill Americans.
The Iraq war has indeed brought into existence a New Middle East, in which Arab Sunnis can no longer gleefully disregard American interests because they need help against the looming threat of Shiite supremacy, while in Iraq at the core of the Arab world, the Shia are allied with the U.S. What past imperial statesmen strove to achieve with much cunning and cynicism, the Bush administration has brought about accidentally. But the result is exactly the same.
Mr. Luttwak, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is the author of "Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace" (Belknap, 2002).
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #37 on:
January 15, 2007, 01:22:42 PM »
Geopolitical Diary: Iraq, Iran and a Question of Engagement
Editor's Note: An error in the Jan. 12 Geopolitical Diary as originally published has been corrected on our Web site to say the Israelis discussed using nuclear weapons against Iran.
Though the United States has opted not to engage Iran or Syria directly over the issue of Iraq, Iraqi leaders appear to be doing just that. On Sunday, President Jalal Talabani met with his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al Assad, in Damascus, and National Security Minister Wael Shirwan was in Tehran, seeking assistance on security matters.
Meanwhile, fallout from the arrests of five Iranian officials -- during a U.S. raid at an Iranian government office in Arbil on Jan. 11 -- continued, with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari calling for the prisoners' release.
That likely was enough to satisfy the Iranians, who have refrained from any aggressive reactions in response to the raid. In fact, Tehran reciprocated a signal from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said recently that she would be willing to meet "anytime, anywhere" with Iranian leaders (provided Tehran had suspended Iranian enrichment). On Sunday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Al Arabiya television that Tehran is not opposed to talks with Washington, so long as conditions were appropriate and just.
Ahmadinejad went on to say that the states neighboring Iraq -- including Iran and Saudi Arabia, could be helpful in improving security there. Interestingly, that statement came on the same day that Iranian national security chief Ali Larijani was meeting in Saudi Arabia with King Abdullah, to whom he delivered a letter from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It is clear to the Iranians that pressure from the Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, has been a major factor in Washington's decision not to engage Tehran directly with regard to the future of Iraq. It also is clear to Tehran that Riyadh would be willing to work toward a negotiated settlement with Iran on that issue, as long as Saudi and Sunni interests in Iraq are secured. Therefore, the thrust of Khamenei's missive could be guessed.
For its part, Riyadh -- fearing it would be sidelined in any diplomatic settlement over Iraq -- long has pressed the United States to prevent Iranian domination there. And with Washington now actively aligning itself with the Arab states against Iran, Saudi Arabia is positioned as a player in any future settlement.
Not that any of that should threaten Iran, given its influence over the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. In fact, direct Saudi involvement in Iraqi affairs -- should that materialize -- would complicate matters for the United States and create another opening that Iran could attempt to exploit.
An excerpt from the Financial Times:
The contradiction at the heart of the US approach, however, is this: after casually overturning the Sunni order in Iraq and empowering the Shia in an Arab heartland country for the first time in nearly a millennium, Washington took fright at the way this had enlarged the power of the Shia Islamist regime in Iran. Now, while dependent on Tehran-aligned forces in Baghdad, and unable to dismantle the Sunni Jihadistan it has created in western Iraq, the US is trying to put together an Arab Sunni alliance against Iran. This is a fiasco with the fuel to combust into a region-wide conflagration.
Last Edit: January 15, 2007, 01:47:39 PM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #38 on:
January 30, 2007, 09:44:24 AM »
Muslims 'about to take over Europe'
Islam could soon be the dominant force in a Europe which, in the name of political correctness, has abdicated the battle for cultural and religious control, Prof. Bernard Lewis, the world-renowned Middle Eastern and Islamic scholar, said on Sunday.
The Muslims "seem to be about to take over Europe," Lewis said at a special briefing with the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post. Asked what this meant for the continent's Jews, he responded, "The outlook for the Jewish communities of Europe is dim." Soon, he warned, the only pertinent question regarding Europe's future would be, "Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?" The growing sway of Islam in Europe was of particular concern given the rising support within the Islamic world for extremist and terrorist movements, said Lewis.
Lewis, whose numerous books include the recent What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, and The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, would set no timetable for this drastic shift in Europe, instead focusing on the process, which he said would be assisted by "immigration and democracy." Instead of fighting the threat, he elaborated, Europeans had given up.
"Europeans are losing their own loyalties and their own self-confidence," he said. "They have no respect for their own culture." Europeans had "surrendered" on every issue with regard to Islam in a mood of "self-abasement," "political correctness" and "multi-culturalism," said Lewis, who was born in London to middle-class Jewish parents but has long lived in the United States.
The threat of extremist Islam goes far beyond Europe, Lewis stressed, turning to the potential impact of Iran going nuclear under its current regime.
The Cold War philosophy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), which prevented the former Soviet Union and the United States from using the nuclear weapons they had targeted at each other, would not apply to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, said Lewis.
"For him, Mutual Assured Destruction is not a deterrent, it is an inducement," said Lewis of Ahmadinejad. "We know already that they [Iran's ruling ayatollahs] do not give a damn about killing their own people in great numbers. We have seen it again and again. If they kill large numbers of their own people, they are doing them a favor. They are giving them a quick, free pass to heaven. I find all that very alarming," said Lewis.
Lewis acknowledged that Ahmadinejad had made the notion of Iran having the right to acquire a nuclear capability an issue of national pride, and that this should be borne in mind in trying to thwart Teheran's nuclear drive. "One should try to make it clear at all stages that the objection is not Iran having [a nuclear weapon] but to the regime that governs Iran having it," said Lewis.
This idea already had support among those Iranians who, on the one hand, believed that their country has a right to possess such a capability but, on the other, feared it being acquired by a government that they do not support.
Israel and the West should work to strengthen moderate forces within the Iranian population, he urged, via an aggressive propaganda campaign including the use of television and radio programs. "All the evidence is that the regime is extremely unpopular with their own people," he said. "I am told that the Israeli daily [radio] program in Persian is widely listened to all over Iran with rapt attention." Israel and the West should also be looking to reach out to moderate forces within the Arab world, which are equally alarmed by the spread of extremism in their midst, said Lewis. "The Arab governments understand that Israel is not their biggest problem," said Lewis.
Here too, he said, Israeli media had a positive effect in the region, particularly in Jordan, where Israeli programs were broadcast and were widely watched. Jordanians "get the message of how a free society works. As one fellow put it, it is amazing to watch these great and famous people banging the table and screaming at each other. Even more striking is the fact that Arabs can denounce the Israeli government on Israeli television. That has an impact." Lewis also highlighted the Washington-based Syrian Reform Party, whose leader Farid Ghadry openly admires Israel.
Regarding the summer's war against Hizbullah, Lewis warned that a second such conflict could break out in the near future. He quoted a Christian Lebanese friend saying soon after the fighting ended that "Israel has lost the war, but Hizbullah has not won" because many people in Lebanon were blaming Hizbullah for bringing conflict to their country. Now, though, he added, it was his sense that Hizbullah had "gained some ground since then."
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #39 on:
February 01, 2007, 07:30:52 AM »
Newt Gingrich is someone on whom I keep my eye.
January 30, 2007
The Threat of a Nuclear Iran
By Newt Gingrich
(Note: The following are remarks delivered by Newt Gingrich at the 7th Herzliya Conference in Israel last week.)
Israel is facing the greatest danger for its survival since the 1967 victory. Israel maintained its dominance since 1967 even after the 1973 failure. In 1984 I wrote that WMD and terrorism would pose a threat for US national security. If two or three cities are destroyed because of terrorism both the US and Israel's democracy will be eroded and both will become greater dictatorial societies.
Three nuclear weapons constitute a second Holocaust. Enemies are explicit in their desire to destroy us. We are sleepwalking through this as if diplomatic engagement will create a fiesta where we will all love one another. The terrorist threats are larger and more formidable than the political system in Israel or the US can cope with. We need a grand strategy similar to the Kenan telegram which formed US policy for the duration of the Cold War, and the 68 plan developed by Nitze in 1950.
We lack the language and goals to address the new environment along with the speed and intensity to counter the contemporary threats. If we have no strategy we will need to be intellectually honest to consider the next step once two cities have been destroyed. My grandchildren are in greater danger than I was throughout the Cold War. What stages are you in Israel going to take if tomorrow morning Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv would be destroyed? Similarly the US needs to consider what policies it would advance if in twenty four hours, Atlanta, Boston and San Francisco were destroyed. These threats will become even more imminent in two or five years time.
Science is spreading rapidly and thus enemies have greater capabilities to break out. China's satellites are indicative of this.
The US should have as an explicit goal, regime change in Iran, as its constitution makes them a revolutionary regime. In 2006 even the Department of State which seeks to deny the nature of reality, noted that Iran is a leading sponsor of terror. What I need is something that will be similar to Reagan's Replacement strategy in Iran. The current unrest in Iran will facilitate this.
The US, Israel and the West have not developed technologies to command urban spaces similar to the sophisticated technologies applied to air and sea-power. Urban technologies have not developed extensively since the 1940's, unlike that of air and sea. Similarly intelligence capabilities must be advanced and sufficiently integrated to contribute to bettering our urban capabilities.
It is important for Israel to discriminate between those who are willing to live with us and those that are not. Those who are not willing to live with one another will either die or live in prison. We should take our enemies at their word. Ahmadinajed is most explicit regarding his intentions as is Hamas when speaking to the New York Times. To those who are willing to live with us, we need to arouse, organize, defend and enrich them.
A Palestinian state with Hamas at its helm will seek to destroy Israel. In conflict one side wins and another loses. If I have to choose between surviving and being killed, I will choose to kill the enemy and to survive. Peace comes as a result for victory and not as a substitute for victory. The number one requirement for long-term peace is the growth of organizations for peace. This would include a Lebanese government willing to take over Southern Lebanon from Hezbollah, an Iraqi government that would be willing to take over factions. The US and Israel have both underestimated this challenge intellectually, as it will take a long period of time with tremendous investment of resources to achieve this desirable end.
The Department of Homeland Security should conduct two nuclear exercises and one biological exercise in major cities such as Philadelphia or Dallas to determine how many causalities would occur and whether hospitals could accommodate the casualties. Last year in Long Beach, California an exercise was conducted to measure the potential effects of the ramifications of a nuclear weapon being set off.
From 1947-1950, while there was an under funding of defense, there was a simultaneous coming to terms intellectually with the threat of Communism. To those that advance a withdraw of troops in Iraq; the onus is on them to explicate the consequences of defeat. In 1979 the US looked weak in the Middle East with the hostage crises and embassies coming under attack. I have been told that there are not enough marine detachments to protect embassies for when they potentially will be under the threat of attack. It is not the Bush doctrine that is at stake, but our very lives. Thus national security should be advanced rather than mere utopianism.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #40 on:
February 03, 2007, 03:12:37 AM »
Pipe's speech defining the war as not a clash of civilizations, but of Radical Islam vs Civilization.
Radical Islam vs. Civilization
By Daniel Pipes
FrontPageMagazine.com | February 1, 2007
Text of a talk presented by Daniel Pipes on January 20, 2007, in London in a debate with the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, as transcribed by the 910 Group with the help of others. The original posting of the video can be seen at YouTube; for a single clip version, see the posting at the Global Defense Group. For accounts of the debate, see the bibliography at “My Debate with London Mayor Ken Livingstone.”
Thank you so much. I’d like to begin by thanking Mayor Livingstone for his kind invitation to join you today and I thank the Greater London Authority for the hard work it put into what is obviously a successful event. I am delighted by the interest that you, the audience, has shown. And I’m grateful to my supporters who have come from four different countries to be with me today.
The Mayor is an optimistic man. I’m generally invited to bring along some gloom, and I will, true to form, provide some for you. [audience laughter]
Let me start with my position on the question of world civilization or clash of civilizations. One: I am for world civilization, and I reject the ‘clash of civilization’ argument. Two: The problem is not so much a clash of civilizations, but a clash of civilization and barbarism.
I’d like to begin by looking at Samuel Huntington’s idea. He argued that cultural differences, in his 1993 article, are paramount. “The fundamental source of conflict … will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.” And in all he finds seven or eight set civilizations, namely, “Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African.”
My response is that civilization is useful as a cultural concept but not as a political one. There are three problems with seeing civilizations as actors in the way that Huntington suggests. It can’t account for tensions within a single civilization, it can’t account for agreement across civilizations, and it doesn’t account for change over time. Let me give you three quick examples. I’ll take them from the area that I have studied, which is the Muslim world.
First, it cannot account for Muslim-on-Muslim violence, of which there is a great deal: We have the civil war in Lebanon, the Iraq-Iran war, the Islamist insurgency in Algeria, the Sunnis vs. Shi‘is in Iraq at present, the near civil war in the Palestinian Authority, the Sudanese government against the people of Darfur. This cannot be accounted for in civilizational terms.
Second, it ignores the agreement across civilizations. I’d like to take a UK-based example, namely the edict of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 against Salman Rushdie, who at that time was living in London. It appeared, at first glance, to be a question of Muslims on one side and Westerners on the other. Muslims were burning The Satanic Verses novel, there was violence in India, etc. But a closer look showed that in fact it was quite something different, it was far more complex. There were plenty of Westerners who were against Rushdie and plenty of Muslims who supported him.
Let me give you just a couple of quotes. The foreign secretary of Britain at that time, Sir Geoffrey Howe, said “the British government, the British people do not have any affection for Rushdie’s book.” On the other hand, the Egyptian foreign minister said “Khomeini had no right to sentence Rushdie to death.” And another Egyptian minister said “Khomeini is a dog, no, that is too good for him, he is a pig.” [audience laughter]
Third point, Huntington in his analysis can’t account for change over time. And I can best illustrate this by giving you a quote from his 1993 article, He said “The economic issues between the United States and Europe are no less serious than those between the United States and Japan, but they do not have the same political salience and emotional intensity because the differences between American culture and European culture are so much less than those between American civilization and Japanese civilization.”
Well that was true enough in 1993, but it sounds pretty silly in 2007 where there are virtually no tensions between the United States and Japan and I’m sure you are aware there are tensions between the United States and Europe. The vituperation is far more severe across the Atlantic than the Pacific.
What Huntington did was to take an incident of the moment and turn them into something civilizational and it didn’t work. In short the clash of civilization idea fails, it does not fit the facts, it is not a good way to understand the world.
What about then a world civilization? Can it exist? If one defines it as Huntington does, as a culture, basically then, no, it can’t. As he puts it, correctly, “for the relevant future there will be no universal civilization but instead a world of different civilizations, each of which will have to learn to coexist with the others.” I don’t think there is anyone who would dispute that.
But yes, there can be a world civilization if one defines it differently. Civilization can be the opposite of barbarism. And civilization in this sense has a long history. In the Bible, there is a passage, “And ye shall… proclaim liberty throughout all the lands and unto all the inhabitants thereof.” In the Koran, “you are the best community ever raised among mankind, you advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and believe in God.” The American byword is ‘the pursuit of happiness’, the French is “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité “ Winston Churchill in 1898, writing about the Sudan, said that civilization is “sympathetic, merciful, tolerant, ready to discuss or argue, eager to avoid violence, to submit to law, to effect compromise.”
So the question is, can this state of being, of being civilized, can it exist on a world level?
It can, in so far as those who are civilized confront those who are not civilized. The world civilization exists of civilized elements in every culture banding together to protect ethics, liberty and mutual respect. The real clash is between them and the barbarians.
Now what do I mean by barbarians? I do not mean people who are of lower economic stature. What I mean by barbarians – and I think all of us mean by barbarians in the past two centuries – are ideological barbarians. This is what emerged in the French revolution in the late 18th century. And the great examples of ideological barbarism are fascism and Marxist Leninism – they, in their course of their histories have killed tens of millions of people.
But today it’s a third, a third totalitarian movement, a third barbarian movement, namely that of radical Islam. It is an extremist utopian version of Islam. I am not speaking of Islam the religion, I am speaking of a very unusual and modern reading of Islam. It has inflicted misery (as I mentioned Algeria and Darfur, before), there is suicide terrorism, tyrannical and brutal governments, there is the oppression of women, and non-Muslims.
It threatens the whole world:. Morocco, Turkey, Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, you name it, Afghanistan, Tunisia, and not just the traditional Muslim world, but also Russia, France, Sweden, and I dare say, the United Kingdom.
The great question of our time is how to prevent this movement, akin to fascism and communism, from growing stronger.
Now, I believe the mayor and I agree on the need to withstand this menace, but we disagree on the means of how to do it. He looks to multiculturalism, and I to winning the war. He wants everyone to get along; I want to defeat a terrible enemy.
The mayor defines multiculturalism as “the right to pursue different cultural values subject only to the restriction that they should not interfere with the similar right for others.” And he argues, as you just heard, that it works, that London is a successful city. I won’t dispute his specifics, but I do see the multicultural impulse creating disaster by ignoring a dangerous and growing presence of radical Islam in London.
One evocative sign of this danger is that citizens in your country have become a threat for the rest of the world. In 2003, Home Secretary David Blunkett presented a dossier to a Special Immigration Appeals Commission in which he “admits that Britain was a safe haven for supporters of worldwide terrorism” and in which he said Britain remains a “significant base’” for supporting terrorism.
Indeed, British-based terrorists have carried out operations in at least fifteen countries. Going from east to west, they include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Algeria, Morocco, Russia, France, Spain, and the United States. I’ll give you one example, from the United States: it was Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, who I am primarily thinking of, but there is also the [End of clip #3; Start of clip #4] British involvement in 9/11 and in the Millennium Plot that did not take place in Los Angeles.
In frustration, Egypt’s President Husni Mubarak publicly denounced the UK for “protecting killers.” After the August 10th thwarted Heathrow airline mega-plot, of a few months ago, two American authors argued in The New Republic, that from an American point of view, “it can now be argued that the biggest threat to U.S. security emanates not from Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan—but rather from Great Britain.”
And I believe this is the tip of the iceberg. I believe it refutes Mr. Livingstone’s opposing view - that there isn’t a problem. This is the problem, the problem is radical Islam, also known as fundamentalist Islam, political Islam, Islamism. It is not, again, Islam the religion, it is radical Islam, the ideology.
Let us focus on three aspects of it. The essence of radical Islam is the complete adherence to the Shari’a, to the law of Islam. And it is extending the Shari‘a into areas that never existed before.
Second, it is based very deeply on a clash of civilizations ideology. It divides the world into two parts, the moral and the immoral, the good and the bad. Here is one quote from a British-based Islamist by the name of Abdullah el-Faisal, who was convicted and is now in jail. “There are two religions in the world today - the right one and the wrong one. Islam versus the rest of the world.” You don’t get a more basic clash-of-civilization orientation than that. There is a hatred of the outside world, of the non-Muslim world, and the West in particular. There is the intent to reject as much as possible of outside influence.
The third feature is that this is totalitarian in nature. It turns Islam from a personal faith into an ideology, into an ism. It is the transformation of a personal faith into a system for ordering power and wealth. Radical Islam derives from Islam but is an anti-modern, millenarian, misanthropic, misogynist, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, triumphalist, jihadistic, terroristic, and suicidal version of it. It is Islamic-flavored totalitarianism.
Like fascism and communism, radical Islam is a compelling way of seeing the world in a way that can absorb an intelligent person – to show him or her a whole new way of seeing life. It is radically utopian and takes the mundane qualities of everyday life and turns them into something grand and glistening.
There is an attempt to take over states. There is the use of the state for coercive purposes, and an attempt to dominate all of life, every aspect of it. It is an aggression against neighbors, and finally it is a cosmic confrontation with the West. As Tony Blair put it in August of 2006, “We are fighting a war, but not just against terrorism but about how the world should govern itself in the early 21st century, about global values.”
Now how does one respond to this?
The mayor is a man of the Left, and I am a classical liberal. We can agree that neither of us personally wishes to be subjected to the Shari‘a. I will assume, you [looking at Ken Livingstone] will correct me if I am wrong [short sporadic applause] that neither of us want this as part of our personal life.
But our views diverge sharply as to how to respond to this phenomenon. Those of my political outlook are alarmed by Islamism’s advances in the West. Much of the Left approaches the topic in a far more relaxed fashion.
Why this difference? Why generally is the right alarmed, and the left much more sanguine? There are many differences, there are many reasons, but I’d like to focus on two.
One is a sense of shared opponents between the Islamists and those on the left. George Galloway explained in 2005, “the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies,” which he then went on to indicate were Israel, the United States, and Great Britain.
And if you listen to the words that are spoken about, say the United States, you can see that this is in fact the case. Howard Pinter has described America as “a country run by a bunch of criminal lunatics.” [big applause and shouts] And Osama Bin Laden [stops … ] I’ll do what I can to get an applause line. [laughter] And, get ready for this one: Osama Bin Laden called the United States, “unjust, criminal, and tyrannical.” [applause]
Noam Chomsky termed America “a leading terrorist state”. And Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a leading Pakistani political leader, called it the “biggest terrorist state.” [scattered applause]
Such common ground makes it tempting for those on the Left to make common cause with Islamists, and the symbol of this would be the [huge, anti-war in Iraq] demonstrations in Hyde Park, on the 16th of February 2003, called by a coalition of leftist and Islamist organizations.
At other times, the Left feels a kinship with Islamist attacks on the West, forgiving, understanding why these would happen. A couple of notorious quotes make this point. The German composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen termed the 9/11 attacks “the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos,” while American novelist Norman Mailer, commented that “the people who did this were brilliant.”
Such attitudes tempt the Left not to take seriously the Islamist threat to the West. With John Kerry, a former aspirant to the [U.S.] presidency, they dismiss terrorism as a mere “nuisance.”
That is one reason; the bonds between the two camps. The second is that on the Left one finds a tendency to focus on terrorism – not on Islamism, not on radical Islam. Terrorism is blamed on such problems as Western colonialism of the past century, Western “neo-imperialism” of the present day, Western policies—particularly in places like Iraq and the Palestinian Authority – or from unemployment, poverty, desperation.
I would contend that it actually results in an aggressive ideology. I respect the role of ideas, and I believe that not to respect, to dismiss them, to pay them no attention, is to patronize, and to possibly even to be racist. There is no way to appease this ideology. It is serious, there is no amount of money that can solve it, there is no change of foreign policy that make it can go away.
I would argue to you, ladies and gentlemen, it must be fought and must be defeated as in 1945 and 1991, [applause] as the German and the Soviet threats were defeated. Our goal must be, in this case, the emergence of Islam that is modern, moderate, democratic, humane, liberal, and good neighborly and that it is respectful of women, homosexuals, atheists, whoever else – one that grants non-Muslims equal rights with Muslims.
In conclusion, Mr. Mayor, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, on the Left or on the Right, I think you will agree with me on the importance of working together to attain such an Islam. I suggest that this can be achieved not via the get-along multiculturalism that you propose, but by standing firm with our civilized allies around the globe, especially with liberal voices in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with Iranian dissidents, and with reformers in Afghanistan.
I also propose standing with their counterparts in the west, with such individuals as Ayaan Hirsi Ali [applause], … formerly a Dutch legislator and now in exile in the United States; with Irshad Manji, the Canadian author; [applause] with Wafa Sultan, the Syrian in exile in the United States who made her phenomenal appearance on Al-Jazeera. Individuals like Magdi Allam, an Egyptian who is now a leading Italian journalist; Naser Khader, a parliamentarian in Denmark; Salim Mansur, a professor and author in Canada, and Irfan Al-Alawi, here in Britain. [applause]
Conversely, if we do not stand with these individuals, but instead if we stand with those who would torment them, with the Islamists, with, I might say, someone like Yusuf al- Qaradawi [applause] we are then standing with those who justify suicide bombings, who defend the most oppressive forms of Islamic practice, who espouse the clash of civilizations [notion that] we ourselves reject.
To the extent that we all work together, against the barbarism of radical Islam, a world civilization does indeed exist – one that transcends skin colour, poverty, geography, politics, and religion.
I hope that you and I Mr. Mayor can agree here and now to cooperate on such a program.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #41 on:
February 03, 2007, 04:21:41 AM »
Second post of the night.
By RALPH PETERS
January 29, 2007 -- LIKE plenty of other Americans, I wish we could just be done with the Middle East. Unfortunately, the Middle East isn't done with us. And the situation is going to get considerably worse before it shows a hint of getting better.
Thanks to abysmal policy errors (many pre-dating the current administration), we've caught ourselves between two irreconcilable sides - Sunni and Shia Muslims - whose enmity dates back 13 centuries. And we're now taking fire from every direction.
Dreaming that all Iraqis could get along, we alienated potential friends and empowered deadly enemies. Short of Mongol-quality savagery, the traditional way to win in the Middle East has been to select an ally and stick with him - while avoiding the folly of trying to play honest broker.
The administration has begun to realize that it has to make some hard choices. Yet our leaders still believe they can have it both ways. The result may be bad hard choices.
At the strategic level, Washington is lining up regional allies - Sunni Arab states - to face off with Iran. But in Iraq, the administration continues to tilt toward Shia parties - hoping that Iran can be excluded from a decisive role in Baghdad. (Note that we've been fighting hard on Baghdad's Sunni-populated Haifa Street, but we're still avoiding a showdown in Sadr City.)
For their part, our Sunni Arab "allies" support the Sunni insurgents and dread the prospect of a Shia-dominated democratic government or a partition of Iraq.
And now, in the worst American tradition, we're in danger of grabbing at short-term gains at an exorbitant strategic price: Defaulting to our old habit of backing hard-line regimes, we've dropped all pressure on the Saudis and Egyptians to reform their political systems.
Want to recruit more terrorists for another 9/11? Give Sunni Arab regimes a renewed blank check to shut down all opposition.
True, Shia terrorists have attacked us in the Middle East. But the Sunni terrorists attack us globally - and on our own soil. Shia extremists think regionally, while Sunni fanatics have universal ambitions.
Yes, Iran is the immediate strategic problem - but it's a far more complex matter than the kiss-the-Saudis'-sandals crowd accepts. A violent rogue with a nuclear-weapons program, Iran backs terrorists in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan.
Yet Iran also happens to be America's natural ally in the region.
We're in a race against time. The Iranian people have tried religious rule - now they're sick and tired of it. They want to move on. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's allies lost the last round of elections and the mullahs are getting nervous about his excesses. Iranians want change, but don't know how to get it - and we can't impose it.
Could the Khomeinist regime fall before apocalyptic ayatollahs get the bomb? There's no more pressing strategic question.
If we find it necessary to attack Iran's nuclear program, it's going to be a long and messy process. A thorough effort would kill a lot of Iranians - alienating even the most liberal-minded members of a highly nationalistic population.
Stopping the bad Iranians would cost us the good Iranians. There's no good solution.
The tragedy here is that Iran is farther along in its political development than our Arab "friends." The states to which we're inclined to turn may still have Sunni versions of the Khomeini revolution ahead of them.
Fundamentalist, anti-American regimes could hatch in exactly the baskets where we're tempted to park our strategic eggs.
If we line up with the Sunni Arab autocracies again, we lose Iran - and perhaps the entire region in the long run. But tolerating the rise of radical Shia power in the near-term threatens Israel, genocidal conflict in Iraq and beyond, and global economic pain.
In all-too-real a sense, backing either side, Sunni or Shia, is just betting on black or red at the roulette wheel - knowing that the house always wins in the end. And the house is the collapsed and vengeful civilization of the Middle East.
But we're locked in the casino; we have to make our bet. So here are the fundamental questions the administration has to ask itself before pushing the chips across the table:
* How do we defeat Iran's government without alienating the Iranian people?
* Do our long-term interests truly coincide with repressive Sunni Arab regimes?
* Are we once again in danger of starting a fight we lack the guts to finish? The administration's less-than-half-hearted military policy in Iraq and Israel's disastrous loss to Hezbollah last summer aren't encouraging models.
* By reinvigorating our "alliance" with Saudi Arabia and other repressive Sunni states, are we just setting ourselves up for another round of "let's you and him fight," with American blood defending Arab oil wealth? Are we still the Saudi royal family's whores?
If our troops do wind up dying to save the House of Saud yet again, we need to recognize that we, not they, are in the power seat. We should demand that they really open the oil taps to bankrupt Iran (and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez), and that they publicly recognize Israel's right to exist.
We're paying a terrible price - and may pay yet a higher one - for the bipartisan failure of one administration after another (and of successive Congresses) to pursue a serious alternative-energy program. Now we're stuck in the kill zone.
There's no easy fix and there are no solid answers to our problems in the Middle East. The region's future has never been so unpredictable and could evolve in a number of startling ways - not all of them bad.
Only one thing is certain: A return to yesteryear's destructive policies and faulty alliances won't solve our long-term problems.
Iraq? That's the easy one.
Ralph Peters' latest book is "Never Quit The Fight."
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #42 on:
February 03, 2007, 11:49:49 PM »
The author of this piece is a man with serious on the ground CIA experience throughout the middle east, including Iraq. Author of "See No Evil" which I have read and recommend highly.
Why Did the Saudi Ambassador Quit?
Thursday, Dec. 21, 2006 By ROBERT BAER
Saudi Arabian Ambassador Prince Turki Al Faysal arrived in Washington and left with barely a murmur, more or less ignored by the Bush Administration. Turki was at the post only 15 months before he suddenly resigned last week without explanation; by contrast his predecessor, Prince Bandar, the best connected envoy in Washington in the last half century, spent 22 years in the post. As if anyone had any doubt about Bandar's status, two days after 9/11 Bandar was sitting on the Truman balcony with Bush, helping to decide the world's future.
But it isn't as if Turki lacked for status in Washington. When Turki was Saudi intelligence chief, he more or less ran the mujahedin forces in the Afghan war, putting the last nail in the coffin of the Soviet empire. When Congress halted funding to the Contras, Turki was behind the decision to step in and help pay the Reagan Administration's bills. A Georgetown graduate and realist, Turki would have made an ideal interlocutor for the new secretary of defense Bob Gates. You would have thought Washington would have embraced Turki. Even the neocons.
The explanations for Turki's abrupt departure vary wildly: Turki will replace his ailing brother as foreign minister; Turki was furious he was cut out of last month's Cheney-King Abdullah meeting; Turki felt slighted because Bandar was actively undermining him in Washington; Turki is in a succession fight with Sultan, the defense minister and Bandar's father; Turki couldn't get an audience with the neocons; Turki was caught secretly meetings the Israelis. It's not surprising there isn't a consensus; the Saudis keep their own counsel.
But someone who saw Turki before he left Washington advised me to consider another explanation: Turki was recalled to prepare for the possibility of war with Iran.
After all, the controversial Nov. 29 Washington Post op-ed written by Turki's political consultant Nawaf Obaid — in which Obaid writes that Saudi Arabia will fight to protect Iraq's Sunnis if the U.S. were to begin withdrawing its forces from the country — was authorized by King Abdullah. When I asked this person why the Saudis immediately denied Obaid spoke for the Kingdom — and in fact dismissed him from his official duties — he said: "It's all a smoke screen. The Saudis want to deliver a message, but they also need plausible denial to preserve their options."
"Don't be mistaken," my friend added. "Obaid is Turki's creation, his employee. Obaid doesn't freelance. And neither does Turki, for that matter. The op-ed was sanctioned by Riyadh. End of story. It's tantamount to Saudi declaration of war on Iran" His call, then, was that "Turki was promoted, not fired."
It makes sense. King Abdullah, faced with Iran's grab for influence in Iraq and Lebanon, needs Turki home by his side. Turki knows Iran better than any other Saudi prince. It was Turki who opened the first official backchannel to Iran after the Iran-Iraq war. Since then, Turki has kept a dialogue with Iran open. At the same time, Turki knows Tehran is a threat. Iran can and will close the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off 20% of the world's daily oil production, if provoked. And so, with Turki's advice falling on deaf ears in Washington, why not bring him home where he can do some good?
Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, is the author of See No Evi land, most recently, the novel Blow the House Down
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #43 on:
February 05, 2007, 11:47:13 PM »
'The Iranians do not expect to be attacked'
Tovah Lazaroff and David Horovitz, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 31, 2007
Seating himself in the center of The Jerusalem Post's conference room, Prof. Bernard Lewis preferred to eschew any kind of opening remarks, and instead simply invited our questions. Arguably the preeminent Islamic historian and scholar of his age, Lewis, who turned 90 last May, handled the resulting avalanche with absolute equanimity.
His English accent undimmed by recent decades spent living in America, Lewis, who was born in London into a middle-class Jewish family, sketched out a vision of extremist Islamic ambition at chilling odds with his placid, soft-spoken delivery.
For President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, he noted dryly, the notion of mutual assured destruction, of certain devastation so immense as to have kept the United States and the Soviet Union from firing their missiles at each other through the Cold War, was "not a deterrent," but rather "an inducement." Given the apocalyptic messianism of Ahmadinejad and his supporters, "if they kill large numbers of their own people, they are doing them a favor. They are giving them a quick free pass to heaven and all its delights, the divine brothel in the skies."
He dismissed Europe in a few sentences, a continent doomed to Islamist domination by dint of its own "self-abasement... in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism." What did this mean for Europe's Jews? The future, he said without hesitation, was dim.
Nonetheless, Lewis, whose recent bestsellers have included What Went Wrong? The Clash between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East and the post-9/11 The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, was not unremittingly bleak in outlook. He argued that Iran's goals could yet be thwarted, by encouraging the Iranian people to turn against their regime. "There is a level of discontent at home, which could be exploited," he said strikingly. "I do not think it would be too difficult to bring it to the point when the regime could be overthrown."
An Iranian-wrought holocaust was not impossible, he acknowledged. But more likely, he said, was that "sooner or later," we and our leaders would "awake from our slumbers."
How will the Iranians be stopped? Do you think they are going to be stopped?
I do not know what Washington intends to do, or what Israel intends to do. My own preference would be to deal with the Iranian regime by means of the Iranian people.
All the evidence is that the regime is extremely unpopular with their own people. I am told that the Israeli daily [radio] program in Persian is widely listened to all over Iran with rapt attention and it is the only one that they believe.
Iranians were furious over the Lebanese war, feeling that they had been dragged into it and their resources were being squandered on promoting this dubious cause when things are deteriorating from bad to worse at home.
I think there is a level of discontent at home, which could be exploited. I do not think it would be too difficult to bring it to the point when the regime could be overthrown.
What should Israel be doing, therefore?
Israel should be doing everything that it can to change the regime in Iran. That is the only answer.
Yes, I think so. What the [discontented Iranians] are asking for is not a military invasion. My Iranian friends and various groups are unanimous on that point. They feel a military invasion would be counterproductive.
What do the Iranians think of their nuclear program?
That is a delicate issue because the nuclear program has become a matter of national pride. Look at it from the Iranian point of view: The Russians in the north have it, the Chinese in the east have it, the Pakistanis in the south have it, and the Israelis in the west have it. "Who is to tell us that we must not have it?"
I think one should try to make it clear at all stages that the objection is not to Iran having [a nuclear capacity] but to the regime that governs Iran having it. I am told now that in Iran most recently, support has virtually disappeared for the nuclear program. Previously it had some support, but it is now increasingly being realized that this is a method of strengthening the regime, which means that it is bad.
What would the Iranian regime do with a nuclear bomb if it got one?
That depends entirely on the balance of forces within the regime. There are people in Iran who know that using nuclear weapons, even threatening to use nuclear weapons, could bring terrible retribution upon them. On the other hand there are people with an apocalyptic mindset, and their supporters...
Do you have a sense of how far Arab states are willing to go to change things in Iran? Will they cooperate with the Israelis and the Americans?
The Arab states are very concerned about the Shia revolution. They see a militant, expansionist Shia movement which already seems to be spreading from Iran to Iraq, through Syria to Lebanon, all the way across to the Mediterranean and eastward to Afghanistan and Pakistan and so on.
One has to bear in mind that there are significant Shia minorities in Saudi Arabia and all around the Gulf, all the Gulf States. Yemen is in a sense a Shia state, though not of the same branch. From the Saudi point of view, the Shia revolution really constitutes a major menace. That is why they were so quietly supportive of Israel in the Lebanon war, and I think they would take that line again if there is a further clash. Or, should I say, when there is a further clash.
Does the Iranian regime believe that a military attack on its nuclear sites would strengthen it? Do they think that it can be avoided - that they can manage to keep the West from attacking them?
My guess is that they do not expect to be attacked. Remember, they have no experience of the functioning of a free society. The sort of self-criticism and mutual criticism that we see as normal is beyond their understanding and totally outside their experience. What we see as free debate, they see as weakness and division and fear.
Therefore I think they have a very low estimate of the forces that oppose them, whether in the US or Israel or elsewhere. They expect to have it their way, whatever way they choose.
Does that attitude stem from something inherent in Islam?
No, it is not inherent in Islam. It is inherent in the kind of government under which they have lived for the last 200 years or so. In the earliest stages of Islam, the government was more open. Traditional Islamic governments devoted great importance to consultation, to content, to limited authority, to government under law; all these things are part of the traditional Islamic background.
That all ended a couple of hundred years ago. Nothing remains of it. It ended in two phases. Phase one, modernization, mainly in the 19th and early 20th century - modernization which strengthened the power of the state and either weakened or eliminated all those intermediary powers which had previously acted as constraints on government.
The second phase, the crucial one, is Vichy, when the French government surrendered in Syria and in Lebanon, a crucial Arab country, and half of the Middle East came under German control. They were able to extend from there into Iraq, which is where the Ba'ath Party's foundations were laid. The Ba'ath Party has no roots in the Arab or Islamic past. It is the Nazi party.
Later, when the Germans left and the Russians came, it wasn't too difficult to switch from the Nazi model to the Soviet model. It only needed minor retouching.
How do you see the Arab-on-Arab violence in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories being resolved?
The developments in the Middle East are both alarming and encouraging, depending on the angle of vision. The bad news on the general situation now is the increasing violence, the increasing support which the various extremist and terrorist movements seem to be getting. Most alarming of all is the steady increase in the area [in which] they have influence or dominate, which before long will probably include Europe.
A Syrian philosopher published an article not long ago in which he said the only question about the future of Europe is: "Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?" And I am inclined to agree with him about that. In that respect, it is discouraging. Particularly alarming is the apocalyptic mood, which we see in Iran now.
This is something which Jews in particular should be able to understand very well. The messiah is coming. There is a well-known scenario of the course of events, the battle of Gog and Magog and so on and so forth. There is a final struggle ending with the final victory. Muslims generally believe that one can somehow expedite the process.
I have no doubt at all, and my Iranian friends and informants are unanimous on this, that Ahmadinejad means what he says, and that this is not, as some people have suggested, a trick or device. He really means it, he really believes it and that makes him all the more dangerous.
MAD, mutual assured destruction, [was effective] right through the Cold War. Both sides had nuclear weapons. Neither side used them, because both sides knew the other would retaliate in kind. This will not work with a religious fanatic. For him, mutual assured destruction is not a deterrent, it is an inducement. We know already that they do not give a damn about killing their own people in great numbers. We have seen it again and again.
In the final scenario, and this applies all the more strongly if they kill large numbers of their own people, they are doing them a favor. They are giving them a quick free pass to heaven and all its delights, the divine brothel in the skies. I find all that very alarming.
We turn now to the encouraging signs, the good news, such as it is. I would put it at two levels. One is that a number of Arab governments are coming to the conclusion that Israel is not their most serious problem and not their greatest danger.
This is very similar to what happened with [former Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat. If you go back to the Egyptian peace process, Sadat didn't decide to make peace because he was suddenly convinced of the merits of the Zionist case. Sadat decided to make peace because he realized that Egypt was becoming a Soviet colony.
The process was very visible. There were whole areas of Soviet bases and no Egyptian was admitted. Sadat, I think, realized that on the best estimate of Israel's power and the worst estimate of Israel's intentions, Israel was not a threat to Egypt in the way that the Soviet Union was.
So he took the very courageous step of ordering the Soviet specialists out of Egypt, facing the danger they might do what they did in Czechoslovakia or Hungary. They didn't, fortunately. Then he hoped that Washington would help him, instead of which Washington produced the Vance-Gromyko Agreement, a sort of diplomatic carve up, in effect giving Egypt back to the Soviets. That was [former president Jimmy] Carter's real contribution to the peace process. All the rest of it is imaginary; imaginary is the polite word.
That persuaded Sadat that he had to go to the Israelis.
I think that a number of the governments in the region have been through a similar process of reevaluation. During the recent war in Lebanon, it was quite clear that several Arab governments were quietly hoping that the Israelis would go in and finish the job. They were very disappointed that they didn't. That disappointment was certainly not a help, but that mood is still there. There is a willingness to reach some sort of a compromise to enable them to deal with what they see as the more pressing and more dangerous problem. That could be a short-term advantage. It might even lead to some sort of a peace process.
But as the Egyptian example I spoke of shows, that doesn't lead to any real cordiality. There is a peace process with Egypt, there is an exchange of diplomatic representatives and so on, but one would hardly talk about relations between Israel and Egypt, at the present time, as a model that one wants to extend to the rest of the Arab world. So it can bring some benefits, which might be quite substantial in the short range, but one should have no illusions about the long range.
The other encouraging sign, very faint and very distant, is of a genuine change of mood among people in some Arab countries. Talking to people in Arab countries in the last few years, some of those people express attitudes which I have never met before. I do not know how deep this goes and how strong it is, but it is there and it never was before. That is a good sign.
Can you elaborate? And does this include people in Syria?
No, it doesn't include Syria. It does include Syrians. There is a Syrian migr group called the Syrian Reform Party, headed by a man called Farid Ghadry. He publishes a journal and also has a Web site. He makes no secret of his admiration for Israel and his very positive attitude toward Israel. He lives in Washington, D.C.
The fact that a man who has ambitions, [who] hopes to lead a revolution, makes no attempt to pursue an anti-Israel, anti-Zionist line, but on the contrary he has a friendly one, that in itself is quite remarkable.
Another example on a very different level is the people in Jordan. In Jordan, Israel television is widely watched and they get the message of how a free society works. I have heard that the same thing happens elsewhere but for technical reasons it is more difficult.
As one fellow put it, it is amazing to watch these great and famous people banging the table and screaming at each other. They are used to people banging the table and screaming, but not at each other. They can get different points of view, but they have to tune in to different stations.
The sort of free debate on Israel television and, even more striking, the fact that Arabs can denounce the Israeli government on Israeli television, that has an impact. I have heard people mention this again and again. It doesn't go unnoticed.
Is there a perception in the Arab world that Hizbullah won the war in the summer?
The feelings about Hizbullah are very mixed, but always very strong, either for them or against them. Some see them as Arab heroes, the people who won a great victory for the Arab cause, and others see them as a major danger. In a sense both are right.
I had a telephone conversation with a Christian friend in Beirut not long after the Lebanon war. I asked his views on this. He said, "Israel has lost the war, but Hizbullah has not won." I asked him what he meant by that. He said that there was a swelling tide of anger against Hizbullah in Lebanon for having brought all this misfortune on the country, which is even gaining ground among the Shia population. That was a couple of days after the end of the war. Whether that is still true, I do not know. I am inclined to think that Hizbullah has gained some ground since then.
Given the civil unrest between Hizbullah and the Lebanese government, can Israel strengthen the government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora without undermining it?
As things are now, Israeli support is the kiss of death. For Israel it is much better to refrain from expressing any support for anyone, except for certain causes like freedom and democracy, and so on.
In your writings you have spoken of the feelings of humiliation and rage in the Muslim world. When will their rage subside, if at all?
One way [for them] to alleviate their rage is to win some large victories. Which could happen. They seem to be about to take over Europe.
"About to take over Europe?" Do you have a time frame for that? It sounds pretty dramatic.
No, I can't give you the time frame, but I can give you the stages of the process: Immigration and democracy on their side, and a mood of what I can only call self-abasement on the European side - in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism, to surrender on any and every issue.
I was talking only the other day at the Herzliya conference with a German journalist. We were chatting informally over a cup of coffee. He was expressing his profound alarm at the mood of what he called self-abasement among the Germans at the present time. "We mustn't do anything to offend them. We must be nice to them. We must let them do things their way," and so on and so on and so on.
What does that mean for the Jewish communities of Europe, even in the short term?
The outlook for the Jewish communities of Europe is dim.
How do you explain the strength of the Islamic cultural psyche? There are third-generation Muslims in England who play cricket but whose loyalties to Muslim values are far stronger than anything they have picked up in England.
That is true. The loyalty is very strong, in Europe particularly. One sees a difference here between Europe and the US. One difference is that Europe has very little to offer. Europeans are losing their own loyalties and their own self-confidence. They have no respect for their own culture. It has become a culture of self-abasement. The diplomacy of what David Kelly called the "preemptive cringe." Naturally that is only going to encourage them in the worst aspects of their own.
If you look at the US, it is apparently somewhat different. There is much more, I hesitate to use the word assimilation, which in Jewish context has a negative connotation, [so] let us say acculturation.
There is also the fact that it is much easier to become American than to become European. To become American is a change of political allegiance. To become a Frenchman or a German is a change of ethnic identity. That is much more difficult for those who come and those who receive them.
Do you think that Arab nationalism will make a comeback? Is there any chance of achieving democratization when you talk about religion dictating trends?
I do not think that Arab nationalism is faring very well now. It has failed monumentally in every country. It has brought them greater tyranny, worse government and in many places lowered standards of living.
What I hope might be a more positive development is not nationalism but patriotism. It is a very different thing, which is much more compatible with the development of democratic institutions and liberal values.
Wouldn't there be a much greater chance of achieving liberalism and democracy through nationalism rather than religion?
No. That is why patriotism would give a better chance.
Though you are soft-spoken and eloquently spoken, you have given an utterly apocalyptic outlook. Are you of the view that Iran will get the bomb, that extremists will prevail, that they will use it, that the West in its self-abasement will allow this domination to succeed? Should we just go home now and hide under the covers, or is there a strategic process that, if followed, has a reasonable chance of thwarting this?
There is a real danger that these things will go the way of Benny Morris [the Israeli historian who chillingly described an Iranian-wrought holocaust in the January 19 Jerusalem Post], but that is less likely.
What is more likely is that sooner or later we will awake from our slumbers, and our leaders will find time to devote themselves to issues other than their own province. And then, as I said, there are things that can be done in Iran.
Review of Brave, New War
Reply #44 on:
May 12, 2007, 08:14:20 PM »
Review of Brave New War
By William S. Lind
[The views expressed in this article are those of Mr. Lind, writing in his personal capacity. They do not reflect the opinions or policy positions of the Free Congress Foundation, its officers, board or employees, or those of Kettle Creek Corporation.]
While the White House and the Pentagon continue their long vacation in Wolkenkuckucksheim, in the real world the literature on Fourth Generation war continues to grow. An important addition is John Robb’s new book, Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization. As the title implies, this book dares to question the inevitability of the globalist future decreed by the internationalist elites, a one-world superstate where life is reduced to an administered satisfying of “wants.” Robb perceives, rightly, that the Brave New War of the Fourth Generation will put an end to the Brave New World.
Following a useful and well-written introduction to Fourth Generation war, Brave New War offers four observations of strategic importance. The first is that the “global gorillas” of 4GW will use “systems disruption” to inflict massive damage on states at little cost to themselves. Modern states depend on the functioning of numerous overlaid networks – fuel pipelines, electric grids, etc. – which have critical linkages that are subject to attack. Robb writes:
To global guerillas, the point of greatest emphasis is the systempunkt. It is a point in the system … that will collapse the target system if it is destroyed. Within an infrastructure system, this collapse takes the form of disrupted flows that result in financial loss or supply shortages. Within a market, the result is a destabilization of the psychology of the marketplace that will introduce severe inefficiencies and chaos.
Our problem is that the global guerillas we see in the long tail of this global insurgency are quickly learning how to detect and attack systempunkts.
Here, I think John Robb’s Air Force background may mislead him to an extent. Air Forces have long believed that the bombing of critical nodes in an enemy’s military, communications or economic systems can win wars; American air raids on German ball-bearing plants in World War II are a famous example. In reality, it seldom works because the enemy’s re-routing, redundancy and repair capabilities enable him to work around the destruction. Robb is right that such destruction can increase costs, but wartime psychology can absorb higher costs. War trumps peacetime balance-sheets.
Robb’s second strategic observation I think is wholly correct: 4GW forces gain enormous strength from operating on an open-source basis. Anyone can play, a shared vision replaces top-down control, and methods evolve rapidly through lateral communication.
A great description of the dynamics of OSW (Open Source Warfare) is a bazaar. People are trading, haggling, copying and sharing. To an outsider it can look chaotic. It’s so different from the quiet intensity and strict order of the cathedral-like Pentagon. This dynamic may be why Arab groups were some of the first guerilla movements to pick up on this new method and apply it to warfare.
The combination of post-modern open source warfare and pre-modern, non-state primary loyalties leads to the third observation, that 4GW turns globalization against itself.
My conclusion is that globalization is quickly layering new skill sets on ancient mind-sets. Warriors, in our current context of global guerillas, are not merely lazy and monosyllabic primitives. They are wired, educated, and globally mobile. They build complex supply chains, benefit from global money flows, travel globally, innovate with technology and attack shrewdly.
Finally, Robb correctly finds the antidote to 4GW not in Soviet-style state structures such as the Department of Homeland Security but in de-centralization. What Robb calls “dynamic decentralized resilience” means that, in concrete terms, security is again to be found close to home. Local police departments, local sources of energy such as roof top solar arrays – I would add local farms that use sustainable agricultural practices – are the key to dealing with system perturbations. To the extent we depend on large, globalist, centralized networks, we are insecure. Robb foresees that as state structures fail,
Members of the middle class will (take) matters into their own hands by forming suburban collectives to share the costs of security --- as they do now with education – and shore up delivery of critical services. These “armored suburbs” will deploy and maintain backup generators and communications links; they will be patrolled by civilian police auxiliaries that have received corporate training and boost their own state-of-the-art emergency response systems.
If this all sounds a bit like what happened as the Roman Empire fell, it should. The empire in this case is not America or even the West, but the state system and the force that produced the state, the modern age. Modernity shot itself in the head in 1914. How much longer ought we expect the body to live?
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #45 on:
July 15, 2007, 10:16:46 AM »
The War About the War
By Herbert Meyer
Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special
Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the
CIA's National Intelligence Council.
The 9-11 attacks did more than start a war; they started a war about the
war. No sooner had the World Trade towers collapsed and the Pentagon burst
into flames than two perceptions of the threat began competing for the
Perception One: We're at War
For the third time in history Islam - or, more precisely, its most radical
element - has launched a war whose objective is the destruction of Western
civilization. Our survival is at stake, and despite its imperfections we
believe that Western civilization is worth defending to the death. Moreover,
in the modern world - where a small number of people can so easily kill a
large number of people - we cannot just play defense; sooner or later that
strategy would bring another 9-11. This conflict really is a clash of
civilizations whose root cause is Islam's incompatibility with the modern
world. So we must fight with everything we've got against the terrorist
groups and against those governments on whose support they rely. If the Cold
War was "World War III," this is World War IV. We must win it, at whatever
Perception Two: We're Reaping What We've Sowed
There are quite a few people in the world who just don't like the United
States and some of our allies because of how we live and, more precisely,
because of the policies we pursue in the Mideast and elsewhere in the world.
Alas, a small percentage of these people express their opposition through
acts of violence. While we sometimes share their opinion of our values and
our policies, we cannot condone their methods. Our objective must be to
bring the level of political violence down to an acceptable level. The only
way to accomplish this will be to simultaneously adjust our values and our
policies while protecting ourselves from these intermittent acts of
violence; in doing so we must be careful never to allow the need for
security to override our civil liberties.
There is no middle ground between these two perceptions. Of course, you can
change a word here and there, or modify a phrase, but the result will be the
same. Either we're at war, or we've entered a period of history in which the
level of violence has risen to an unacceptable level. If we're at war, we're
in a military conflict that will end with either our victory or our defeat.
If we're in an era of unacceptable violence stemming from our values and our
policies, we are faced with a difficult but manageable political problem.
Splitting the Difference
Since the 9-11 attacks, President Bush has been trying to split the
difference. It's obvious that he, personally, subscribes to Perception One.
Just read his formal speeches about the conflict, such as those he's given
to Congress and at venues such as West Point. They are superb and often
brilliant analyses of what he calls the War on Terror. Yet he hasn't done
things that a president who truly believes that we're at war should have
done. For instance, in the aftermath of 9-11 he didn't ask Congress for a
declaration of war, didn't bring back the draft, and didn't put the US
economy on a wartime footing. A president at war would have taken out Iran's
government after overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan -- and then sent
500,000 troops into Iraq, rather than just enough troops to remove Saddam
Hussein but not enough to stabilize that country. And a president at war
would have long since disposed of Syria's murderous regime and helped the
Israelis wipe out Hezbollah.
Study history, and you quickly learn that oftentimes events and the
responses they generate look different a hundred years after they happen
than they look at the time. It may be that history will judge that President
Bush performed heroically, doing the very best that anyone could do given
the two incompatible perceptions about the conflict that have divided public
opinion and raised the level of partisanship in Washington to such a
poisonous level. Or, it may be that history will judge the President to have
been a failure because he responded to 9-11 as a politician rather than as a
Either way, it is the ongoing war about the war that accounts for where we
are today, nearly six years after the 9-11 attacks: We haven't lost, but we
aren't winning; fewer of us have been killed by terrorists than we had
feared would be killed, but we aren't safe.
While experts disagree about how "the war" is going, there isn't much
disagreement over how the war about the war is going: those who subscribe to
Perception Two are pulling ahead.
Here in the US, virtually every poll shows that a majority of Americans want
us "out of Iraq" sooner rather than later, and regardless of what's actually
happening on the ground in that country. Support for taking on Iran - that
is, for separating the Mullahs from the nukes through either a military
strike or by helping Iranians to overthrow them from within - is too low
even to measure. There isn't one candidate for president in either party
who's campaigning on a theme of "let's fight harder and win this thing
whatever it takes." Indeed, the most hawkish position is merely to stay the
course a while longer to give the current "surge" in Iraq a fair chance.
Moreover, just chat with friends and neighbors - at barbeques, at the
barbershop, over a cup of coffee - and you'll be hard-pressed to find a
solid minority, let alone a majority, in favor of fighting-to-win.
However it's phrased, just about everyone is looking for a way out short of
Overseas, public opinion is moving in the same direction. For example, in
Great Britain Tony Blair has stepped aside for Gordon Brown, who in the
midst of the recent terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow has ordered his
government to ban the phrase "war on terror" and to avoid publicly linking
the recent, mercifully failed attacks in London and Glasgow to any aspect of
Islam. The current leaders of Germany and France are less anti-American than
their predecessors, but no more willing to help us fight. Down under in
Australia John Howard - blessed be his name - is holding firm, but for a
combination of reasons may be approaching the end of his long tenure; none
of his likely replacements are nearly so robust. And the Israelis - who are
facing the triple-threat of Hamas, Hezbollah, and before too long a
nuclear-armed Iran - are going through one of their periodic bouts of
A Second Attack
It's possible that something horrific will happen in the immediate future to
shift public support here in the US, and throughout the West, from the
second perception to the first. When asked by a young reporter what he
thought would have the greatest impact on his government's fate, British
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan responded cheerfully: "Events, dear boy,
events." One more 9-11-type attack - biological, chemical, or nuclear - that
takes out Houston, Berlin, Vancouver or Paris, and the leader of that
country will be overwhelmed by the furious public's demands to "turn the
creeps who did this, and the countries that helped them, into molten glass
and don't let's worry about collateral damage." (This will sound even better
in French or German.) Should the next big attack come here in the US, some
among us will blame the President but most won't. The public mood will be
not merely ferocious, but ugly; you won't want to walk down the street
wearing an "I gave to the ACLU" pin in your lapel.
Absent such an event in the near future, it's likely that over the next few
years the war will settle into a phase that proponents of Perception Two
will approve. Simply put, we will shift from offense to defense. The
Department of Homeland Security will become our government's lead agency,
and the Pentagon's role will be diminished. (Nothing will change at the
State Department - but then, nothing ever does.) Most people in the US, and
elsewhere in the West, will be relieved that "the war" is finally over.
To preserve the peace we will have to be more than willing to make the
occasional accommodation to Moslems. If they ask us to put more pressure on
the Israelis - well, we can easily do that. If Moslem checkout clerks at our
supermarkets don't want to touch pork - by all means let's have separate
checkout counters for customers who've bought those products. And now that
we think about it, "Happy Winter" will be as good a greeting, if not a
better one, than "Merry Christmas." Won't it?
Of course, there will be the occasional terrorist attack. Some, like the
recent ones in London and Glasgow, will fail. Others will succeed, but
guided by the mainstream media we will view them with the same detachment as
we would view a meteor shower that brought flaming rocks crashing randomly
into the Earth. Most will land harmlessly in fields, some will land on
houses and kill those few residents unlucky enough to be home at the time.
Once in a while, one will crash into a crowded shopping mall or, sadly, into
a school packed with children. These things happen - alas - and while it's
riveting to watch the latest disaster unfold on television there really
isn't much one can do about it. Life goes on.
In the long run, history always sorts things out.
If it turns out that Perception Two of the threat is valid, then over time
we will become accustomed to the level of casualties caused by the
terrorists. After all, more than 40,000 Americans are killed each year in
traffic accidents and we don't make a big political issue out of that, do
we? Our attitude toward death-by-terrorist-attack will be the same as our
attitude toward deaths on the highway: a tragedy for the victim and members
of the family, but nothing really to fuss over. And if Perception Two is
valid, it's even possible that the terrorist threat eventually will ease.
Can you even remember the last time anyone got bombed by the IRA?
But if those of us who subscribe to Perception One are correct, then it's
only a matter of time before something ghastly happens that will swing
public opinion throughout the West our way - and hard. Whether this will
happen in two years, or five, or in 15 years, is impossible to predict. All
we can know for certain is that if Western civilization really is under
attack from Islam, or from elements within Islam, then they will not give up
or be appeased. At some point they're going to go for the knockout punch.
Fighting, Finally, to Win
The pessimists among us will argue that by this time we'll be too far gone
to save; that years of merely playing defense and of making concessions to
the sensitivities of our enemy will have eroded our military power, and
sapped our will, to the point where de facto surrender will be the only
We optimists see things differently: For better or worse, it's part of the
American character to wait until the last possible moment - even to wait a
bit beyond the last possible moment - before kicking into high gear and
getting the job done. It's in our genes; just think of how many times you've
ground enamel off your teeth watching your own kid waste an entire weekend,
only to start writing a book report at 10:30 Sunday night that, when you
find it on the breakfast table Monday morning is by some miracle a minor
However horrific it may be, the knockout punch won't knock us out. Instead,
it will shift us from playing defense back to offense - and this time we
won't hold back. The president will ask Congress for a declaration of war
and he, or she, will get it. We'll bring back the draft, send our troops
into battle without one hand tied behind their backs by lawyers, and we
won't waste time and energy pussyfooting with the United Nations. And if
we've closed GITMO by this time - we'll reopen it and even double its size
because we're going to pack it. All of this will take longer to organize,
and cost more, than if we'd done it right in the aftermath of 9-11. That's
unfortunate, but that's the way we Americans tend to do things. And when we
do finally start fighting for real -- we'll win.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #46 on:
July 17, 2007, 04:28:23 PM »
GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT
Week out of Focus: Washington, Iraq and Al Qaeda
By George Friedman
Last week, the United States focused on the state of the war -- not just the one in Iraq, but the broader war against al Qaeda. A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was released asserting that al Qaeda has reconstituted itself in Pakistan and is either at or near its previous capabilities. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his gut told him there is an increased risk of an al Qaeda attack in the United States this summer. President George W. Bush said at a press conference that the July 15 status report on Iraq would show that progress is being made in the war. When the report actually was released, it revealed a somewhat more pessimistic picture in some areas. Meanwhile, the Republican Party was showing signs of internal strain over the war, while the Democrats were unable to formulate their own collective position. So, it was a week in which everyone focused on the war, but not one that made a whole lot of sense -- at least on the surface.
In some ways, the most startling assertion made was that al Qaeda has reconstituted itself in Pakistan. What is startling is that it appears to acknowledge that the primary U.S. mission in the war -- the destruction of al Qaeda -- not only has failed to achieve its goal, but also has done little more than force al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and into Pakistan. Chertoff's statement that there is a high threat of an attack this summer merely reinforces the idea that the administration is conceding the failure of its covert war against al Qaeda.
This is not an impossible idea. A recent book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tim Weiner, "Legacy of Ashes," provides an extraordinary chronicle of the CIA's progressive inability to carry out its mission. So the NIE claim might well have been an admission of failure. But it was an odd admission and was not couched as a failure.
What made this odd is that the administration is not known to concede failure lightly. During the same week, it continued to assert the more dubious proposition that it is making progress in Iraq. Why, therefore, was it releasing such pessimistic reports on al Qaeda, and why was Chertoff saying his gut tells him an attack this summer is possible? Why make the best-case scenario for Iraq and the worst-case scenario for al Qaeda?
There is nothing absurd about a gut call in intelligence, and much of the ridicule of Chertoff was absurd. Intelligence analysis -- particularly good intelligence analysis -- depends on gut calls. Analysts live in a world of incomplete and shifting intelligence, compelled to reach conclusions under the pressure of time and events. Intuition of experienced and gifted analysts is the bridge between leaving decision-makers without an analysis and providing the best guess available. The issue, as always, is how good the gut is.
We would assume that Chertoff was keying off of two things: the NIE's assertion that al Qaeda is back and the attacks possibly linked to al Qaeda in the United Kingdom. His gut told him that increased capabilities in Pakistan, coupled with what he saw in England and Scotland, would likely indicate a threat to the United States.
One question needs to be asked: What should be made of the NIE report and the events in the United Kingdom? It also is necessary to evaluate not only Chertoff's gut but also the gut intuitions of U.S. intelligence collectively. The NIE call is the most perplexing, partly because the day it appeared Stratfor issued a report downplaying al Qaeda's threat. But part of that could well be semantics. Precisely what do we mean when we say al Qaeda?
When U.S. forces talk about al Qaeda, they talk about large training camps that move thousands of trainees through them. Those are not the people we talk about when we discuss al Qaeda. The people who go through the camps generally are relatively uneducated young men being trained as paramilitaries. They learn to shoot. They learn to devise simple explosives. They learn infantry tactics. They are called al Qaeda but they are more like Taliban fighters. They are not trained in the covert arts of moving to the United States, surviving without detection while being trained in flying airliners, and then carrying out complex missions effectively. They are al Qaeda in name and, inside Afghanistan or Pakistan, they might be able to do well in a firefight, but they are nothing like the men who struck on 9/11, nor are they trained to be. When the U.S. government speaks about thousands of al Qaeda fighters, the vision is that the camps are filled with these thousands of men with the skill level of the 9/11 attackers. It is a scary vision, which the administration has pushed since 9/11, but it isn't true. These guys are local troops for the endless wars of the region.
When we think of al Qaeda, we think of the tiny group of skilled operatives who gathered around Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef in the 1990s. That group was capable of planning attacks across continents, moving money and men around the world -- and doing so without being detected. Those people have been the target of U.S. intelligence. The goal has been to capture, kill or bottle up those men in inaccessible places in order to prevent another attack like 9/11 or worse.
If the NIE report meant to say this group has reconstituted itself, it would be startling news. One of the ways this group survived is that it did not recruit new members directly into the core organization. One of the ways Palestinian terrorist organizations have been destroyed is by allowing new personnel into the core. This allowed intelligence agencies to vector agents into the core, map them out and destroy them. Al Qaeda was not going to make the same mistake, so it was extremely reluctant to expand. This has limited its operations. It could not replace losses and therefore weakened as it was assaulted. But it did protect itself from penetration, which is why capturing surviving leaders has been so difficult.
If the NIE report is true, then the NIE is saying al Qaeda not only has been recruiting members into the core group, but also that it has been doing so for some time. If that is true then there have been excellent opportunities to penetrate and destroy what is left of it. But we don't think that is true, because al-Zawahiri and others, possibly bin Laden, are still on the loose. Therefore, we think the NIE is saying that the broad paramilitaries are active again and are now located in Pakistan.
Strange Week in Washington
Alternatively, the NIE is saying that a parallel covert group has been created in Pakistan, is using al Qaeda's name and is mounting new attacks. The attacks in the United Kingdom might have been part of its efforts, though they are an example of why we have always argued that terrorism is technically much more difficult to carry out than it might seem. Those attacks were botched from beginning to end. Unlike strikes by al Qaeda prime -- the core group -- these attacks, if they represent an effort by a new al Qaeda, should be a comfort. It was the gang that couldn't shoot straight operating globally. If Chertoff's gut is speaking about a secondary group in Pakistan carrying out attacks similar to those in the United Kingdom, then certainly there is cause for concern, but nothing like the concern that should be felt if al Qaeda prime is active again. But then we don't think it can be, unless it has recruited new members. And if it has been recruiting new members and U.S. intelligence hasn't slipped someone inside during the process, then that would be not only a shame but also the admission of a major intelligence fiasco. We don't think that is what the NIE is discussing. It is a warning that a group calling itself al Qaeda is operating in Pakistan. That can be called a revived al Qaeda, but only if one is careless with terminology.
It should also be remembered that the United States is placing heavy pressure on the Pakistanis. A report leaked early last week by the New York Times confirmed what Stratfor said as early as January 2004, that a major incursion into northwestern Pakistan had been planned by the United States but was called off at the last minute over fear of destabilizing President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Or, more precisely, it was called off after Musharraf promised to carry out the operation himself. He did so, but ineffectively and half-heartedly, so that al Qaeda prime was not rooted out.
By leaking the report of the planned incursion, the United States was reminding Musharraf of his guarantee. By issuing the NIE report, it was increasing pressure on Musharraf to do something decisive about militant Islamists in Pakistan -- or the United States would have to do something. Already heavily pressured by domestic forces, Musharraf ordered the raid on the Red Mosque last week, demonstrating his commitment to contain radical Islamism in Pakistan and root out al Qaeda -- or at least that part of al Qaeda that is not part of the isolated primary group. Between the implicit threat of invasion and the explicit report that Pakistan is the center of a new al Qaeda, Pakistan got the message. Whether Islamabad will be able to act on it is another question.
So the NIE report was meant to pressure Pakistan, even if it looked like an admission of the total failure of the intelligence community's mission. Chertoff's warning of attacks this summer was partly an attempt to warn that there might be attacks like those that happened in the United Kingdom -- to which the answer is that one can only hope that they would be exactly like those. Even had they been successful, they would not have risen to the level of 9/11 or even close. And they failed.
The fact is that, in a simple empirical sense, the one thing that has been successful in this war is that there has not been a single follow-on attack to 9/11 in the United States. The reason might be because al Qaeda either doesn't want to attack or lacks the resources. Another answer might be that it has been stopped by effective U.S. counterterrorism activities. This is a subject that needs analysis. In our view, it is the latter. But the simple fact is that the one mission achieved by the administration is that no attacks have occurred.
There have been numerous warnings of potential attacks. Such warnings are always interesting. They imply that the United States has sufficient intelligence to know that attacks are being planned but insufficient intelligence to block them. The usual basis of these warnings is an attack elsewhere. The second is access to a fragmentary bit of intelligence, human or electronic, indicating in a nonspecific way that an attack is possible. But such warnings usually are untrue because an effective terrorist group does not leak information. That is its primary defense. So chatter about attacks rarely indicates a serious one is imminent. Or, and this happens, a potential attack was aborted by the announcement and by increased security. We have no idea what Chertoff saw to lead him to make his announcement. But the fact is that there have been no attacks in six years -- and should there be a strategic attack now, it would represent not a continuation of the war but a new phase.
All of this neatly intersected with Bush's discussion of Iraq . He does not want to withdraw or announce a time line for withdrawal. His reason should be that a withdrawal from Iraq would open the door to Iranian domination of Iraq and a revolution in the geopolitics of the Arabian Peninsula. Bush has not stated that, but it is the best reason to oppose a withdrawal. Not announcing a timetable for withdrawal also makes sense because it would be tantamount to announcing a withdrawal. It tells Iran to simply sit tight and that, in due course, good things will come to it.
The primary U.S. hope for a solution to Iraq is an understanding with Iran. The administration both hates the idea and needs it. A withdrawal would make any such understanding unnecessary from the Iranian point of view and end any chance that Iran will reach an agreement. In our view, Iran appears to have decided not to continue the negotiating process it began precisely because it thinks the United States is leaving anyway. Therefore, Bush must try to convince the Iranians that this isn't so.
Bush has not given a straightforward justification for his concerns from the beginning, and he is not starting now, although the thought of an Iran-dominated Iraq should give anyone pause. But in arguing that the war in Iraq is a war against al Qaeda, and that al Qaeda is getting stronger, he justifies the continuation of the war. In fact, Bush explicitly said that the people who attacked the United States on 9/11 are the same ones bombing American troops in Iraq today. Therefore, the NIE report and Chertoff's warning of attacks are part of the administration's effort to build support for continuing the fight.
Bush's problem is that the idea that Iraq is linked to al Qaeda rests on semantic confusion -- many things are called al Qaeda, but they are different things. Something called al Qaeda is in Iraq, but it has little to do with the al Qaeda that attacked the United States on 9/11. They share little but the name.
U.S. policy on Iraq and the war is at a turning point. There would normally be a focusing down to core strategic issues, such as a withdrawal's consequences for the strategic balance of power. That not only is not happening, but Bush, for whom this is the strongest argument against withdrawing, also seems incapable of making the argument. As a result, the week saw an almost incoherent series of reports from the administration that, if examined carefully, amounted to saying that if you think the war in Iraq is going badly, you should take a look at the war against al Qaeda -- that is a total failure.
We simply don't think that is true. Of course, you can never prove a negative, and you cannot possibly prove there will be no more attacks against the United States by the original al Qaeda. Also, you can claim anything you want on a gut call and if it doesn't happen, people forget.
The intellectual chaos is intensifying -- and with it, the casualties on the ground.
© Copyright 2007 Strategic Forecasting Inc. All rights reserved.
Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
Reply #47 on:
July 18, 2007, 11:37:51 AM »
I find it interesting to review pre-9/11/2001 writings about risks and preparedness with the benefit now of hindsight. This is from the Journal of the Air Force Association,
December 2000. In the 1990s we were basking in the so-called 'peace dividend' which meant world war risk was gone and preparedness for a couple of regional conflicts was adequate. Then we cut drastically below those levels.
"Ten years ago this month, DoD officially began transforming its Cold War force into the Base Force. A military that long had been preoccupied with global war started shedding 500,000 troops and focusing on regional conflicts.
This step-pushed hard by Gen. Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-came only after a major Pentagon struggle, one ably chronicled in "The Development of the Base Force: 1989-1992" by Lorna S. Jaffe of the JCS Joint History Office.
As Jaffe's 1993 study showed, the changeover was painful and hard-fought. The four service chiefs opposed the cuts. President Bush's Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney, did not approve the plan until convinced he could reverse the drawdown. Powell himself saw the Base Force as the minimum required for superpower responsibilities.
After taking office in January 1993, the newly elected President, Bill Clinton, launched his own defense review. The outcome was the elimination of 300,000 more troops, six more Air Force wings, two more Army divisions, and 150 more Navy warships. It marked the end of the Base Force."
Reply #48 on:
September 17, 2007, 03:37:31 PM »
Red October: Russia, Iran and Iraq
By George Friedman
The course of the war in Iraq appears to be set for the next year. Of the four options we laid out a few weeks ago, the Bush administration essentially has selected a course between the first and second options -- maintaining the current mission and force level or retaining the mission but gradually reducing the force. The mission -- creating a stable, pro-American government in Baghdad that can assume the role of ensuring security -- remains intact. The strategy is to use the maximum available force to provide security until the Iraqis can assume the burden. The force will be reduced by the 30,000 troops who were surged into Iraq, though because that level of force will be unavailable by spring, the reduction is not really a matter of choice. The remaining force is the maximum available, and it will be reduced as circumstances permit.
Top U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus and others have made two broad arguments. First, while prior strategy indeed failed to make progress, a new strategy that combines aggressive security operations with recruiting political leaders on the subnational level -- the Sunni sheikhs in Anbar province, for example -- has had a positive impact, and could achieve the mission, given more time. Therefore, having spent treasure and blood to this point, it would be foolish for the United States not to pursue it for another year or two.
The second argument addresses the consequence of withdrawal. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice summed it up in an interview with NBC News. "And I would note that President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad said if the United States leaves Iraq, Iran is prepared to fill the vacuum. That is what is at stake here," she said. We had suggested that the best way to contain Iran would be to cede Iraq and defend the Arabian Peninsula. One reason is that it would release troops for operations elsewhere in the world, if needed. The administration has chosen to try to keep Iraq -- any part of it -- out of Iranian hands. If successful, this obviously benefits the United States. If it fails, the United States can always choose a different option.
Within the region, this seems a reasonable choice, assuming the political foundations in Washington can be maintained, foundations that so far appear to be holding. The Achilles' heel of the strategy is the fact that it includes the window of vulnerability that we discussed a few weeks ago. The strategy and mission outlined by Petraeus commits virtually all U.S. ground forces to Iraq, with Afghanistan and South Korea soaking up the rest. It leaves air and naval power available, but it does not allow the United States to deal with any other crisis that involves the significant threat of ground intervention. This has consequences.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki attended a meeting of the Iranian-Russian Joint Economic Commission in Moscow over the weekend. While in the Russian capital, Mottaki also met with Russian Atomic Energy Chief Sergei Kiriyenko to discuss Russian assistance in completing the Bushehr nuclear power plant. After the meeting, Mottaki said Russian officials had assured him of their commitment to complete the power plant. Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said, "With regards to the Bushehr power plant, we have reached good understanding with the Russians. In this understanding a timetable for providing nuclear fuel on time and inaugurating this power plant has been fixed." While the truth of Russian assurances is questionable -- Moscow has been mere weeks away from making Bushehr operational for the better part of the last three years, and is about as excited about a nuclear-armed Iran as is Washington -- the fact remains that Russian-Iranian cooperation continues to be substantial, and public.
Mottaki also confirmed -- and this is significant -- that Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit Tehran on Oct. 16. The occasion is a meeting of the Caspian Sea littoral nations, a group that comprises Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. According to the Iranians, Putin agreed not only to attend the conference, but also to use the visit to confer with top Iranian leaders.
This is about the last thing the United States wanted the Russians to do -- and therefore the first thing the Russians did. The Russians are quite pleased with the current situation in Iraq and Iran and do not want anything to upset it. From the Russian point of view, the Americans are tied down in an extended conflict that sucks up resources and strategic bandwidth in Washington. There is a similarity here with Vietnam. The more tied down U.S. forces were in Vietnam, the more opportunities the Soviets had. Nowadays, Russia's resources are much diminished compared with those of the Soviets -- while Russia has a much smaller range of interest. Moscow's primary goal is to regain a sphere of influence within the former Soviet Union. Whatever ambitions it may dream of, this is the starting point. The Russians see the Americans as trying to thwart their ambitions throughout their periphery, through support for anti-Russian elements via U.S. intelligence.
If the United States plans to stay in Iraq until the end of the Bush presidency, then the United States badly needs something from the Russians -- that they not provide arms, particularly air-defense systems, to the Syrians and especially the Iranians. The Americans need the Russians not to provide fighter aircraft, modern command-and-control systems or any of the other war-making systems that the Russians have been developing. Above all else, they want the Russians not to provide the Iranians any nuclear-linked technology.
Therefore, it is no accident that the Iranians claimed over the weekend that the Russians told them they would do precisely that. Obviously, the discussion was of a purely civilian nature, but the United States is aware that the Russians have advanced military nuclear technology and that the distinction between civilian and military is subtle. In short, Russia has signaled the Americans that it could very easily trigger their worst nightmare.
The Iranians, fairly isolated in the world, are being warned even by the French that war is a real possibility. Obviously, then, they view the meetings with the Russians as being of enormous value. The Russians have no interest in seeing Iran devastated by the United States. They want Iran to do just what it is doing -- tying down U.S. forces in Iraq and providing a strategic quagmire for the Americans. And they are aware that they have technologies that would make an extended air campaign against Iran much more costly than it would be otherwise. Indeed, without a U.S. ground force capable of exploiting an air attack anyway, the Russians might be able to create a situation in which suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD, the first stage of a U.S. air campaign) would be costly, and in which the second phase -- battle against infrastructure -- could become a war of attrition. The United States might win, in the sense of ultimately having command of the air, but it could not force a regime change -- and it would pay a high price.
It also should not be forgotten that the Russians have the second-largest nuclear arsenal in the world. The Russians very ostentatiously announced a few weeks ago that their Bear bombers were returning to constant patrol. This amused some in the U.S. military, who correctly regard the Bear as obsolete. They forget that the Russians never really had a bomber force designed for massive intercontinental delivery of nuclear devices. The announcement was a gesture -- and reminder that Russian ICBMs could easily be pointed at the United States.
Russia obviously doesn't plan a nuclear exchange with the United States, although it likes forcing the Americans to consider the possibility. Nor do the Russians want the Iranians to gain nuclear weapons. What they do want is an extended conflict in Iraq, extended tension between Iran and the United States, and they wouldn't much mind if the United States went to war with Iran as well. The Russians would happily supply the Iranians with whatever weapons systems they could use in order to bleed the United States a bit more, as long as they are reasonably confident that those systems would not be pointed north any time soon.
The Russians are just as prepared to let the United States have a free hand against Iran and not pose any challenges while U.S. forces are tied down in Iraq. But there is a price and it will be high. The Russians are aware that the window of opportunity is now and that they could create nightmarish problems for the United States. Therefore, the Russians will want the following:
In the Caucasus, they want the United States to withdraw support for Georgia and force the Georgian government to reach an accommodation with Moscow. Given Armenian hostility to Turkey and closeness to Russia, this would allow the Russians to reclaim a sphere of influence in the Caucasus, leaving Azerbaijan as a buffer with Iran.
In Ukraine and Belarus, the Russians will expect an end to all U.S. support to nongovernmental organizations agitating for a pro-Western course.
In the Baltics, the Russians will expect the United States to curb anti-Russian sentiment and to explicitly limit the Baltics' role in NATO, excluding the presence of foreign troops, particularly Polish.
Regarding Serbia, they want an end to any discussion of an independent Kosovo.
The Russians also will want plans abandoned for an anti-ballistic-missile system that deploys missiles in Poland.
In other words, the Russians will want the United States to get out of the former Soviet Union -- and stay out. Alternatively, the Russians are prepared, on Oct. 16, to reach agreements on nuclear exchange and weapons transfers that will include weapons that the Iranians can easily send into Iraq to kill U.S. troops. Should the United States initiate an air campaign prior to any of this taking effect, the Russians will increase the supply of weapons to Iran dramatically, using means it used effectively in Vietnam: shipping them in. If the United States strikes against Russian ships, the Russians will then be free to strike directly against Georgia or the Baltic states, countries that cannot defend themselves without American support, and countries that the United States is in no position to support.
It is increasingly clear that Putin intends to reverse in practice, if not formally, the consequences of the fall of the Soviet Union. He does not expect at this point to move back into Central Europe or engage in a global competition with the United States. He knows that is impossible. But he also understands three things: First, his armed forces have improved dramatically since 2000. Second, the countries he is dealing with are no match for his forces as long as the United States stays out. Third, staying out or not really is not a choice for the United States. As long as it maintains this posture in Iraq, it is out.
This is Putin's moment and he can exploit it in one of two ways: He can reach a quiet accommodation with the Americans, and leave the Iranians hanging. Conversely, he can align with the Iranians and place the United States in a far more complex situation than it otherwise would be in. He could achieve this by supporting Syria, arming militias in Lebanon or even causing significant problems in Afghanistan, where Russia retains a degree of influence in the North.
The Russians are chess players and geopoliticians. In chess and geopolitics, the game is routine and then, suddenly, there is an opening. You seize the opening because you might never get another one. The United States is inherently more powerful than Russia, save at this particular moment. Because of a series of choices the United States has made, it is weaker in the places that matter to Russia. Russia will not be in this position in two or three years. It needs to act now.
Therefore, Putin will go to Iran on Oct. 16 and will work to complete Iran's civilian nuclear project. What agreements he might reach with Iran could given the United States nightmares. If the United States takes out Iran's nuclear weapons, the Russians will sympathize and arm the Iranians even more intensely. If the Americans launch an extended air campaign, the Russians will happily increase the supply of weapons even more. Talk about carpet-bombing Iran is silly. It is a big country and the United States doesn't have that much carpet. The supplies would get through.
Or the United States can quietly give Putin the sphere of influence he wants, letting down allies in the former Soviet Union, in return for which the Russians will let the Iranians stand alone against the Americans, not give arms to Middle Eastern countries, not ship Iran weapons that will wind up with militias in Iraq. In effect, Putin is giving the United States a month to let him know what it has in mind.
It should not be forgotten that Iran retains an option that could upset Russian plans. Iran has no great trust of Russia, nor does it have a desire to be trapped between American power and Russian willingness to hold Iran's coat while it slugs things out with the Americans. At a certain point, sooner rather than later, the Iranians must examine whether they want to play the role of the Russian cape to the American bull. The option for the Iranians remains the same -- negotiate the future of Iraq with the Americans. If the United States is committed to remaining in Iraq, Iran can choose to undermine Washington, at the cost of increasing its own dependence on the Russians and the possibility of war with the Americans. Or it can choose to cut a deal with the Americans that gives it influence in Iraq without domination. Iran is delighted with Putin's visit. But that visit also gives it negotiating leverage with the Americans. This remains the wild card.
Petraeus' area of operations is Iraq. He may well have crafted a viable plan for stabilizing Iraq over the next few years. But the price to be paid for that is not in Iraq or even in Iran. It is in leaving the door wide open in other areas of the world. We believe the Russians are about to walk through one of those doors. The question in the White House, therefore, must be: How much is Iraq worth? Is it worth recreating the geopolitical foundations of the Soviet Union?
West v. Middle East; A Historical Continuum of Combat
Reply #49 on:
September 17, 2007, 06:36:31 PM »
When Muslim armies won
Lessons from yesteryear's jihadi victories
BY RALPH PETERS
When terrorists or insurgents in Iraq detonate a roadside bomb to draw out our forces in response, or when they stage a small ambush to lure us into a larger one, they're pursuing a Middle Eastern way of war more than two millennia old, with roots in the techniques of tribes from the steppes. What's surprising isn't that the old lure-and-ambush technique is still in use, but that, after many centuries of Western experience with this particular hook, we remain prone to taking the bait.
While doing research for a history project, I was struck both by the enduring characteristics of jihadi warfare — even though yesteryear's triumphant Muslim armies have been replaced by terrorist cells and irregular bands — as well as the specific military lore the Islamic world lost. Much of what Arab, Seljuk or Ottoman armies did in bygone campaigns to annihilate their enemies is now the intellectual inheritance of Western commanders — although cultural flaws that led medieval Christian armies to defeat remain with us, as well.
The use of atrocities to break an enemy's will, the power of fanaticism and charismatic leaders, the value of surprise — even the need to defeat armored forces (in the form of mounted knights) were all there a thousand years ago. Lighter Muslim forces dealt with heavy armor above Alexandria, at Nicopolis and in countless other battles and skirmishes by drawing the armored vehicles of the day onto unfavorable ground where the knights could not maneuver or escape — much as our opponents attempt to do today in the alleys of Iraq.
UNITY OF COMMAND AND WILL
The greatest advantage the better Arab and all Seljuk or Ottoman armies enjoyed over their Byzantine or European enemies was unity of command — along with a strategic unity of purpose and will. In countless Crusader encounters and Balkan battles, what undid the Western forces (often equal in size to their opponents) was a consistent inability to accept and obey a single commander: When the going got tough, the tough went every which way. Patchwork Western armies behaved centrifugally, while the better Muslim forces acted centripetally.
In the West, centuries of feudalism and chivalric codes (the ruggedest form of rugged individualism) reinforced local and protonational rivalries: The French argued with each other; they argued with the Burgundians; the Burgundians and French quarreled with the English and Germans; no one from Flanders would obey a Hungarian king, and nobody trusted the Venetians; while the Christian Byzantines were regarded as heretics — and this was the situation not in royal or ducal courts but in war councils on the eve of battle.
Today, Western militaries recognize the importance of unified command — although national contingents in coalitions often stipulate limits on their use. Nonetheless, in serious combat, the quibbling tends to stop. And within 21st-century Western armies, chains of command are clear and acknowledged. The West's dilemmas today lie at the political level, where disunity and rivalries continue to hamper unified responses to Islamist threats as absurdly as they did in the Middle Ages — if with blessedly fewer consequences thus far. (From the early 16th century onward, the French generally aligned politically with the Ottomans to weaken the Habsburgs; plus Ã§a change ...)
For its part, the Muslim world has lost (or at least misplaced) this principle of unity of command for the direction of campaigns or even battles. Despots, such as Saddam Hussein, enforced a hollowed-out caricature of unity of command, but we are fortunate in the degree of inter- and intra-factional quibbling among our enemies in Iraq and elsewhere. Even charismatic figures such as Osama bin Laden enjoy a limited ability to command, because the cellular nature of terrorist forces, as well as geographic dispersion, makes him more of a figurehead and instigator than a field marshal. Arab terrorists praise him — then do whatever they want.
Even in the conventional-warfare realm, late-20th-century Arab armies were faction-ridden internally and suspicious of allies (whom they routinely tried to deceive, as in the 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel). This inability to pull together to achieve and sustain battlefield synergies has granted Western armies a signal advantage — and the one development in this sphere that should worry us has been Hezbollah's ability to combine a cellular organization with discipline and unity of purpose — enabled by Hassan Nasrullah's appreciation of the value of mission-type orders.
Terrorists do have a strategic unity of purpose — to kill as many Westerners, Israelis and liberal Muslims as possible — but the diffuse, essentially anarchic manner in which the goal is pursued leaves it, to be frank, a dramatic annoyance, not an existential threat.
By contrast, yesteryear's Muslim armies were, indeed, existential threats to Europe, and given the long European genius for doing exactly the wrong thing in war, it should astonish us that the caliphate did not extend at least to the Shetland Islands.
When it comes to destructive rivalries and military incompetence, the Middle East and the West have changed places.
THE GREAT REVERSAL
Another factor that empowered Ottoman armies, especially, was their superior organization, from unit design to logistics. A comparatively sophisticated sense of logistical needs helped Saladin's Arab armies defeat overconfident Crusaders, but it was the Ottomans who first displayed a genius for organizing logistical feats that helped them crush European armies in battle — and take Constantinople. Whether hauling ships over hilltops, deploying disciplined artillery on the battlefield (a daunting undertaking in the days before true field guns), or sustaining enormous armies on the march, the Ottoman sultans in the century that included Mehmet the Conqueror and Suleyman the Magnificent harnessed the resources of their empires through effective administration and achieved logistical successes far grander than, and pre-dating those, credited to Wallenstein a hundred years later. Suleyman's triumphant campaign that destroyed the Hungarian kingdom at the Battle of Mohacs was an organizational masterpiece.
In one of history's not fully explicable twists, the Ottoman Empire lost its suppleness by the second half of the 16th century, calcifying and falling behind a rapidly developing Europe. Ottoman organization was more effective in the 15th century than in the 17th (perhaps the empire's sprawl explains at least part of the decline). In a sense, the rise of Europe was the triumph of the clerks, as the once-lagging continent's accounting and organizational procedures improved exponentially as they were forced to cope with the opening of the New World. In 1526, the Ottomans fielded the best-organized, best-trained and best-disciplined (and, arguably, the best-led) army in the world. A hundred years later, all of the Turkish gears were in reverse.
Today, logistics weaknesses plague all Muslim armies (a situation exacerbated by corruption), but terrorist organizations appear to have made an intellectual breakthrough, returning, in a sense, to their ancient nomadic roots, when traveling light and exploiting local resources was a life-and-death necessity. The ability of terrorists (and insurgents) to pluck the West's common technologies, from cell phones to passenger jets, from cars transformed into bombs to the Internet, places them firmly in the raiding tradition of their ancestors, if in a post-modern form. This guerrilla force without a heavy logistics tail — but with great mobility — also represents a rejection of the Western way of war, to which Arab states had signed on in the 1800s. For two centuries and more, Muslim rulers attempted to copy the West's military forms, only to fail with a 100 percent consistency. Now we may be witnessing, between Hezbollah and al-Qaida, a new synthesis of tradition and technology suited to the cultural environment in which our enemies operate.
We're the masters of conventional logistics. Our enemies reject the conventions and pick up whatever they need at the local bazaar.
One lesson Middle Eastern Muslim forces, regular and irregular, have never forgotten is the value of surprise. Another legacy of their ancient raiding heritage, calculated surprises, gave Arabs, especially, their few glimmers of triumph in recent decades, whether speaking of the opening phases of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or simply the detonation of an IED along a roadway in Iraq.
Surprise is almost always effective — initially. But there's a disconnect between the effects of surprise at the tactical vs. the operational or strategic level. It's extremely difficult to recover when surprised tactically (although our well-trained forces do as well as any troops could), and the surviving victims are usually left bloodied, furious and frustrated. At the strategic or operational level, though, surprise lends only an initial advantage, as at Pearl Harbor or the Battle of the Bulge in our own military history, or, in the Arab case, the 1973 crossing of the Suez Canal or Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Short, sharp tactical engagements can be decided by who shoots first (although, of course, that's not always the case). But at the levels of campaigns and wars, residual strength and resources tell, as long as the victim of the initial surprise doesn't simply surrender.
Today, surprise remains a primary tool in the Arab arsenal (as well as in other Muslim cultures), and the raid remains the model of Arab warfare. On the other hand, Muslim forces, regular or terrorist, in the greater Middle East tend to fare badly when they are themselves surprised. Although our disciplined forces can often recover, even at the tactical level, surprised Muslim forces usually fold, whether we speak of a successful dark-of-night raid in Iraq or the campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Discipline and trust tell, and our troops are remarkably disciplined, and they trust each other and their leaders. Terrorist cells may have their peculiar forms of discipline, but, beyond that, Arab and other regional security forces and militaries are poorly disciplined in the conventional sense and are plagued by internal religious, tribal and ethnic rivalries: When things go badly, the fingers (and sometimes the weapons) start pointing internally.
Of course, there are exceptions. The Egyptian infantry has sometimes proven remarkably tenacious on the defense, and the Jordanian military includes genuinely professional elements. But the Islamic art of war seemed to have died with the Ottoman Empire, with the region returning to either a reliance on mass (as in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's wave attacks during the Iran-Iraq War) or post-modern forms of raids (the Madrid bombings or the attacks on police stations and recruiting centers in Iraq today).
In the past, surprise was connected to an instinct for choosing advantageous battlegrounds. That connection may remain, despite our superiority on most forms of terrain. The modern choice of terrain, the city, is really about the exploitation of masses of human beings (what I termed "human terrain" in an essay about urban operations a decade ago). Although urban warfare is a new phenomenon for Muslim warriors, they've taken to it with a facility that should worry us. We're familiar with the hackneyed phrase "the urban jungle," but the cities of the Middle East may have become urban steppes, where tribes of raiders appear out of nowhere to strike and disappear again.
A last advantage yesteryear's Arab and Turkic armies enjoyed over their Byzantine or European opponents was superior campaign intelligence. Although Byzantine armies deployed practiced scouts (and spies) and prized good intelligence during their centuries of glory, by the time of the Seljuk victory at Manzikert in 1071, the Byzantine military system was in decline and even the veteran emperor-general, Romulus IV, neglected to push scouting parties deep into enemy territory. The result was a disaster.
Acute intelligence is, of course, crucial to achieving surprise or luring an enemy onto a particular killing field. By the Ottoman era, the great sultans (and the grand viziers serving the lesser ones) exhibited a much more sophisticated understanding of the exploitable weaknesses, composition, order of march and disposition of Western armies than the Europeans managed to achieve until the late 17th century. Careful to remain aware of the location and rate of advance of their antagonists, the Ottomans were able to move at much higher speeds (even with larger forces) and to fight effectively from the line of march (as at Mohacs in 1526).
Today, our enemies within the Muslim world, from the Nile to the Indus, display bifurcated capabilities in intelligence collection and, especially, analysis. At the tactical level, terrorists and insurgents are often quite good at identifying units and their behavior patterns, from the quirks of specific commanders to the movement discipline of a particular platoon. Obviously, they face an easier time of it than we do, because they generally operate in a familiar environment that's profoundly foreign (and often unwelcoming) to us. All things considered, it's impressive how much progress our tactical intelligence personnel have made since we arrived, goggle-eyed, in Iraq in 2003. But the home-court advantage still tells.
Terrorist intelligence performance at the strategic level is another story entirely. Identifying targets isn't hard — the West offers plenty — but Islamist terrorists become psychologically imprisoned by their fervor, in their belief in the inevitability of their triumph. While such emotional intensity gives them deep reserves of will, it's disastrous when they make intelligence estimates. The notion that the 9/11 attacks would bring the U.S. to its knees, the conviction that Washington was too cowardly to send forces into Afghanistan, or just the assumption that Iraqis would embrace their medieval version of Islam have all proven catastrophic for al-Qaida — and it isn't just the terrorists who get it wrong. Saddam was certain that we wouldn't invade in 2003, and the Turks utterly misjudged our conventional and logistical capabilities, as well as our determination. The penchant for power fantasies that Fouad Adjami captured so succinctly in the title of his (splendid) book, "The Dream Palace of the Arabs," has left both Muslim terrorist cells and general staffs inept at conducting strategic appreciations on the eve of war or in the prelude to a major terrorist strike.
Certainly, our own strategic intelligence performance has been mixed, at best (and occasionally susceptible to fantasies of our own); nonetheless, our culture of empiricism, our functional pragmatism and our internal self-criticism win through in the end: We may convince ourselves of stupid things, but we don't stay convinced when the evidence shows overwhelmingly that we were wrong (certain political leaders excepted). Our enemies cling to their fantasies with a positively Rumsfeldian obliviousness.
AND IN THE FUTURE
None of the observations above offers a checklist for defeating our enemies. This brief historical analysis is meant only to provoke thought and, perhaps, an occasional shock of recognition. Moreover, the insights on offer apply to the situation today, in the summer of 2007. After centuries of inertia and ineptitude, we're seeing the first glimmers of a new Islamic competence at alternative forms of warfare. The large field armies of the Middle East remain less than the sum of their ill-maintained parts, but innovative approaches to fielding combatant forces — exemplified on the high end by Hezbollah and on the lower by terrorist cells in Iraq — have posed unexpectedly solution-resistant challenges to English-speaking militaries, as well as to the Israeli Defense Force.
For centuries, Europe failed to adapt to the Muslim way of war, persistently clinging to doomed warfare techniques. Then the Islamic world took its turn at calcification, as a rejuvenated Europe leapt ahead for long centuries and, more recently, the U.S. fielded conventional forces impossible to defeat in a set-piece battle. Now, it appears that the Muslim world is adapting at last, pursuing innovative organizations, tactics and strategies, while brushing aside our insistence on the "laws of land warfare." We cling to the rules we know and value, while our enemies ignore them.
That's exactly what the Ottoman Empire did — by refusing to adapt to new battlefield conventions — as it slipped into its long decline and ultimate fall.
Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer and author of the new book "Wars Of Blood And Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the 21st Century."
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