Author Topic: WW3  (Read 280015 times)


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« Reply #200 on: October 25, 2005, 05:41:31 PM »
Syria, Iran and the Power Plays over Iraq
By George Friedman

In assessing the current phase of events in the Middle East, it is essential to link events in Syria with events in Iran. These, in turn, must be linked to the state of the war in Iraq and conditions in the Arabian Peninsula. The region is of one fabric, to say the least, and it is impossible to understand unfolding events -- the pressure against Syria involving the murder of a former Lebanese prime minister; feints and thrusts with Iran and talk of direct political engagement with the United States; the emergence of a new government in Baghdad, or obstacles to one -- without viewing them as one package.

Let's begin with two facts. Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Tehran has had close collaborative ties with Damascus. These have not been constant, nor have they been without strains and duplicity. Nevertheless, the entente between Iran and Syria has been a key element. Second, one of the many goals behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq was to position U.S. forces in such a way as to change a series of relationships between Islamic countries, not the least of which was the Iranian-Syrian relationship. Therefore, to understand what is going on, we must look at this as a "key player" game (Syria, Iran and the United States), with a serious of interested onlookers (Europe, China, Russia, Israel), and a series of extremely anxious onlookers (the states on the Arabian peninsula in particular).

The Roots of Alliance

Let's begin with the issue of what bound the Iranians and Syrians together. One part was ideological: Syria is ruled by a minority of Alawites, a Shiite offshoot that is at odds with Sunni Islam. Iran, a Shiite state, also confronts the Sunnis. Therefore, in religious terms, Syria under the Assads had a common interest with Iran. Second, both states were anti-Zionists. Syria, as a front-line state, confronted Israel alone after Egypt's Anwar Sadat signed the accords at Camp David. Iran, ideologically, saw itself as a committed enemy of Israel. Syria looked to Iran for support against Israel, and Iran used that support to validate its credential among other states -- Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia -- that were either collaborationist or merely symbolic in their opposition to Israel's existence. Syria and Iran could help each other, in other words, to position themselves both against Israel and within the Islamic world.

But ideology was not the glue that held them together: that was Saddam Hussein. Syria's Assad and Iraq's Saddam grew out of the same ideological soil -- that of Baath socialism, a doctrine that drew together pan-Arabism with economies dominated by the state. But rather than forming a solid front stretching from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, the Iraqi and Syrian brands of Baathism split into two bitterly opposed movements. That difference had less to do with interest than with distrust between two dynastic presidents. Syria and Iraq had few common interests and were competing with each other economically. The relationship was, to say the least, murderous -- if not on a national level, then on a personal one. It never broke into open war because neither side had much to gain from a war. It was hatred short of war.

Not so between Iraq and Iran. When Iraq invaded Iran following the Islamic Revolution, a war lasting nearly a decade ensued. It was a war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives -- making it, for the size of the nations involved, one of the most brutal wars of the 20th century, and that is saying something. The issue here was fundamental. Iran and Iraq historically were rivals for domination of the Persian Gulf. The other countries of the Arabian Peninsula could not match either in military strength. Thus, each had an interest in becoming the dominant Persian Gulf power -- not only to control the oil, but to check the political power that Saudi Arabia had as a result of oil. So long as both were viable, the balance of power prevented domination by either. Should either win the war, there would be no native power to resist them. Thus, each side not only feared the other, but also had a great deal to gain through victory.

The Iranians badly wanted the Syrians to join in the war, creating a two-front conflict. Syria didn't. It was confronted by Israel on the one side and Turkey, another tense rival, on the other. Should its forces get bogged down fighting the Iraqis, the results could be catastrophic. Besides, while the Syrians had serious issues with Iraq, their true interests rested in Lebanon. The Syrians have always argued, with some justification, that Lebanon was torn from Syrian territory by the Sykes-Picot agreements between France and Britain following World War II. Nationalism aside, the Syrian leadership had close -- indeed, intimate -- economic relationships in Lebanon. It is important to recall that when Syria invaded Lebanon in 1975, it was in opposition to the Palestinians and in favor of Maronite Christian families, with whom the Alawites had critical business and political relations. It was -- and is -- impossible to think of Lebanon except in the context of Syria.

A Delicate Web of Relations

It was Damascus' fundamental interest for Lebanon to be informally absorbed into a greater Syria. Damascus used many tools, many relationships, many threats, many opportunities to weave a relationship with Lebanon and extend Syrian influence throughout the state. One of those tools was Hezbollah, an Islamist Shiite militia heavily funded and supported by Iran. From the Syrian point of view, Hezbollah had many uses. For one thing, it put a more secular Shiite group, the Amal movement under Nabih Berri, on the defensive. For another, it helped to put the Bekaa Valley, a major smuggling route for drugs and other commodities, under Syrian domination. Finally, it allowed Syria to pose a surrogate threat to Israel, retaining its anti-Zionist credentials without directly confronting Israel and incurring the risk of retaliation.

For Iran, Hezbollah was a means for asserting its claim on leadership of radical Islam while putting orthodox Sunnis, like the Saudis, in an uncomfortable position. Iran was fighting Israel via Hezbollah and building structures for a revolutionary Islam, while the dominant Sunnis were collaborating with the supporters of Israel, the United States. Hezbollah was, for the Iranians, a low-risk, high-payoff investment. In addition, it opened the door for financial benefits in the Wild West of Lebanon.

Both Iran and Syria maintained complex relations with both the United States and Israel. For example, Syria and Israel -- formally at war -- developed during the 1980s and 1990s complex protocols for preventing confrontation. Neither wanted a war with the other. The Syrians helped keep Hezbollah operations within limits and maintained security structures in such a way that Israel did not have to wage a major conventional war against Syria after 1982. There was far more intelligence-sharing and business deal-making than either Jerusalem or Damascus would want to admit. Lebanon recovered from its civil war and prospered -- as did Syrian and Israeli businessmen.

Iran also had complex relations with Washington. During the Iran-Iraq war, the United States found it in its interests to maintain a balance of power between Baghdad and Tehran. It did not want either to win. Toward this end, as Iran weakened, the United States arranged to provide military aid to Tehran -- not surprisingly, through Israel. Israel had maintained close relations with the Iranian military during the Shah's rule, and not really surprisingly, those endured under the Ayatollah Khomeini as well. Khomeini wanted to defeat Saddam Hussein more than anything. His military needed everything from missiles to spare parts, and the United States was prepared to use Israeli channels to supply them. It must always be remembered that the Iran-contra affair was not only about Central America. It was also -- and far more significantly -- about selling weapons to Iran via the Israelis.

Intersection: Iraq

Now, if we go back up to 50,000 feet, we will see the connecting tissue in all these relationships: Iraq. There were plenty of side issues. But the central issue was that everyone hated Iraq. No one wanted Iraq to get nuclear weapons. We have always wondered about Iran's role in Israel's destruction of the Osirak reactor in 1981; but no matter here. The point is that the containment of Iraq was in everyone's interest. Indeed, the United States merely wanted to contain Iraq, whereas Iran, Syria and Israel all had an interest in destroying it.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was in the direct interest of two countries, in addition to the United States: Iran and Israel. Other countries had a more ambiguous response. The Saudis, for example, were as terrified of Iran as of Iraq. They, more than anyone, wanted to see the balance of power maintained and viewed the American invasion as threatening to their interests.

Syria's position was the most complex.

Syria had joined the coalition fighting Saddam Hussein during Desert Storm -- at least symbolically. The Syrians had complex motives, but they did not want the United States interfering with their interests in Lebanon and saw throwing in with the coalition as a means of assuring a benign U.S. policy. At the same time, Syria was in the most precarious strategic position of any country in the region. Sandwiched between Israel, Turkey and Iraq, it lived on the lip of a volcano. The outcome of Desert Storm was perfect for the Syrians: It castrated Iraq without destroying it. Thus, Damascus needed to deal with only two threats: Israel, which had grown comfortable with its position in Lebanon, and Turkey, which was busy worrying about its Kurdish problem. In general, with some exceptions, the 1990s were as good as it got for Syria.

The U.S. invasion in 2003 upset the equation. Now Syria was surrounded by enemies on all sides again, but this time one of the enemies was the United States -- and immediately at the end of conventional military operations, the United States rushed forces to the Iraq-Syria border, threatening hot pursuit of the fleeing Baathists. The Syrians had not calculated the American intervention, having believed claims by Saudi Arabia and France that the United States would not invade without their approval. Now Syria was in trouble.

Syria and Iran: A Parallel Play

For the Iranians, this was the golden moment. Their dream was of a pro-Iranian Iraq -- or, alternatively, for Iraq's Shiite region to be independent and pro-Iranian, or at least to have a neutral Iraq. The Sunni rising put the Iranians in a perfect position: Using their influence among the Shia, they held the cards that the Americans had dealt them. They adopted a strategy of waiting and spinning complex webs.

The Syrians saw themselves in a much less advantageous position. They were in their worst-case scenario. They could not engage the United States directly, of course. But the only satisfactory outcome to their dilemma was to divert U.S. attention from them or, barring that, so complicate the Americans' position that they would be prevented from making any aggressive moves toward Syria. What Damascus needed was a strong guerrilla war to tie the Americans down.

The Syrians hated the Iraqi Baathists, but they now had two interests in common: First, a guerrilla war in Iraq would help to protect Syria as well as the Baathists' interests; and second, the Iraqis were paying cash for Syrian support -- and the Syrians like cash. They had been selling services to the Iraqis during the run-up to the war, and once the war was over, they continued to do so. The strategy proved rational: Syrian support for the Sunni guerrillas and jihadists was important in bogging the Americans down.

The Iranians liked it too. The more bogged down the Americans were in the Sunni region, the more dependent they were on the Shia. At the very least, they urgently needed Iraq's Shia not to rise up. At most, they wanted the Shia to form the core of a new government. From the Iranian point of view, the Sunni guerrillas were despicable as the enemies of Shiite Iran and yet were the perfect tool to increase their control over the Americans.

Thus, as before, Syria and Iran were engaged in parallel play. They shared a natural interest in a weak Iraq. If the United States was the dominant power in Iraq, then they wanted the United States to be the weak power. For a very long time, the United States was unable to get out of the way of the complexities it had created. It used the Iranian Shia and then, when trying to pull away from them, would stumble and return to dependence. And while Iraqi and Iranian Shia are not the same by any means, in this particular case, both had the same interest: increased leverage over the Americans.

The United States had two possible strategies. The key to controlling Iraq lay in ending the guerrilla war. One part of the guerrilla war -- not all -- was in Syria. The United States could invade Syria -- not a good idea, given available forces. It could ask Israel to do it -- which would be a bad move politically, nor was it clear that Israel wanted to do this. Or, it could use a strategy of indirection.

The Situation at Hand

The thing that Syria wants more than anything is Lebanon. The United States has set in motion policies designed to force Syria out of Lebanon. It is not that the United States really cares who dominates Lebanon -- in fact, its Israeli allies rather like the control that Syria has introduced there. Nevertheless, by threatening its core interests, the United States could, leaders thought, begin to leverage Syria.

The Syrians were obviously not going to go quietly into that good night -- not with billions at stake. The assassination of Rafik al-Hariri was the answer. Even when Syria drew its overt military forces out of Lebanon, covert force remained there perpetually. The result of the assassination, however, was overwhelming pressure on Syria -- coupled with a not-too-convincing threat of the use of force by the United States.

For Iran, the fate of Syria is not a major national interest. The future of Iraq is. Iran's view of events in Iraq is divided into three parts: First, a belief that Syria is an important but not decisive source of support for the Sunni guerillas; second, the view that the United States has already maneuvered itself into a de facto alliance with a faction of Iraq's Sunnis; and finally, the belief that Iran's interests in Iraq were not endangered by evolving politics in Lebanon.

The most important feature of the landscape at this moment is the decision by Iran that it is time to move toward direct discussions with the United States. To be sure, the United States and Iran have been talking informally for years about a variety of things, including Iraq. But this week, the Iranian foreign minister did two things. First, he stated that the time was not yet right for talks with the United States -- while acknowledging that talks through intermediaries had taken place. And second, he described the conditions under which discussions might occur. In short, he set the stage for talks between Washington and Tehran to move into the public eye.

It appears at this point that Iran has taken note of the U.S. pressure against Syria and is adjusting for it. However, what is holding up progress on public talks between the United States and Iran are not the reasons stated by the foreign minister -- doubts about Washington's integrity and unclarity about its goals -- but rather, the status of the presidency in Washington. Support for President George W. Bush is running at 39 percent in the polls. He still hasn't bounced upward, and he still hasn't collapsed. He is balanced on the thin edge of the knife. Indictments in the Plame investigation might come this week, which would be pivotal. If Bush collapses, there is no point in talks for Tehran.

Thus, the Iranians are waiting to see two things: Does the United States really have the weight to back the Syrians into a corner? And can Bush survive the greatest crisis of his presidency?

The Middle East is not a simple place, but it is a predictable one. Power talks, and you-know-what walks.


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Iraq War Myths
« Reply #201 on: November 03, 2005, 08:23:05 AM »
November 03, 2005, 7:59 a.m.
Myth Busting
Getting at truths in the war on terror.

Q&A by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Everything you know about the war on terror is false? Well, not quite. But Rich Miniter has homed in on 22 myths, which comprises his new book, Disinformation : 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror. He recently talked about some of them with National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Osama isn't on dialysis? How the heck would you know? Seen him lately? Care to draw a map to the cave?

Richard Miniter: I tracked down nearly everyone who met bin Laden in the past 20 years. Every one that I was able to speak to said that bin Laden has no kidney troubles. My investigation took me to Egypt, Sudan, and put me in touch with leading journalists and officials in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

In Khartoum, I interviewed a man who lived with bin Laden for six years in both Sudan and Afghanistan. He emphatically said bin Laden had no health problems of any kind. He thought the dialysis story was propaganda put out by the CIA to depress the spirits of Muslims.

Bin Laden's personal physician, Dr. Amer Aziz, was arrested in Pakistan on October 21, 2002, and interrogated extensively by Pakistani intelligence officials as well as by CIA and FBI officials. When he was released in November 2002, he wasn't shy about talking to reporters. The doctor said that he had given bin Laden a "complete physical." "His kidneys were fine. If you're on dialysis, you have a special look. I didn't see any of that . . . I did not see any evidence of kidney disease . . . I didn't see any evidence of dialysis. . . .When I see these reports I laugh. I did not see any evidence."

Indeed the first reporter to write that bin Laden was on dialysis was Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, who said his sole source for that nugget was Pakistani intelligence. They provided him with no evidence. Even Mir seems to doubt the story now.

In chapter three of Disinformation, I give the surprising reason that Pakistan wanted to spread rumors about bin Laden's health in 1998.

Lopez: And the CIA isn't to blame for him?

Miniter: I guess '80s music has made a comeback, but memories of 1980s history are fading fast. Yes, the CIA funded Afghans fighting for their country against the Soviets, but virtually all of that CIA money went through the ISI, Pakistan's feared intelligence service. The money was earmarked for seven different factions of the resistance ? all of them Afghan. Meanwhile, the Saudis funded a separate and parallel program for Muslim radicals drawn from across the Muslim world. Bottom line: Bin Laden was funded by the Saudis, not by us. I interviewed all three of the CIA station chiefs responsible for managing the Afghan war. All denied that any CIA money went to any Arabs, let alone bin Laden. I also pored over every bin Laden interview conducted in any language from the 1980s to today. In every single instance bin Laden is asked about CIA money, he denies it.

Maybe bin Laden did not get the Talking Points Memo or the e-mail from the DailyKos crowd, and doesn't know he's bucking the antiwar party line.

Lopez: Everyone knows the Mossad had a hand in 9/11. And now you report that the first 9/11 hero was an Israeli?!

Miniter: Yes, Daniel Lewin died a hero. He actually slugged it out with Mohammed Atta and was dead before his plane hit the tower. It's an incredible story really. In a better world, Hollywood would be lionizing this guy. But he'll have to settle for a chapter in my book. He was a champion bodybuilder, an Israeli commando who went to MIT and invented software to improve the way the Internet works. Briefly he was a billionaire and I think, once you read his incredible story, you'll agree that he should live in our memory as a hero.

Lopez: Still, aren't you just a little bit paranoid to blame myths on anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism?

Miniter: C.S. Lewis once said that the greatest advantage that the devil has is the belief that he doesn't exist. We need to realize that anti-Semitism, which has been declining for decades on these shores, is making a comeback on campuses, websites, and even in Upper West Side dinner chatter. As these views become acceptable ? as they already have in Europe ? they threaten to divide America against itself. Much of the disinformation spread by Arab state-run media is basically an appeal to anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment. We have to be honest about the threat we face. Or as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace said the other day, in this war, ideas "are as important as bullets." That means we have to knock down even the nutty ideas of our enemies.

Lopez: Iraq isn't Vietnam? But 2,000 of our military men and women have died.

Miniter: There are so many differences between the Vietnam War and the Iraq war that I had to write a 10,000-word chapter just to present all of the evidence. Basically, Iraq is Vietnam in reverse. Vietnam began with a small but growing insurgency and ended with tanks and division-strength infantry assaults on our forces. In Iraq, we destroyed the tanks and vanquished the army in a few weeks. The insurgency in Iraq is estimated today at 20,000 men. In 1966, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars had combined troop strength of 700,000. By 1973, they had 1 million men under arms. North Vietnam had two superpowers supplying cutting-edge weapons; the most the insurgents in Iraq can hope for is car-bomb expertise from Iran and Syria. Ho Chi Minh was a compelling leader whose propaganda promised a better life for peasants. Al-Zarqawi is a Jordanian street thug who gets no respect in Iraq and offers no vision of a better life. I could go on and on about all of the important differences. Once you read this chapter, you will be able to shoot down liberals at cocktail parties for the next 20 years.

As for the 2,000, why does the press treat brave men and women as mere statistics? Instead of merely telling us that they died, don't we owe it to these fallen soldiers to say how they died? Many of them died heroically, saving the lives of others.

Lopez: Speaking of deaths . . . we haven't killed 100,000 innocent Iraqis?

Miniter: When I investigated the 100,000 dead-civilians claim, I was surprised at how quickly it fell apart. The 100,000 figure is based on a single study in a British medical journal published just days before the 2004 elections. The authors were open about their anti-Bush bias. They got the 100,000 by knocking on doors in 33 neighborhoods across Iraq. They simply asked Iraqis how many civilian deaths they knew about. They did not take any steps to avoid double counting. They didn't demand any proof, such as a funeral notice or a newspaper clipping. Instead they decided to just trust Iraqis to give them straight dope. So if you interview Baghdad Bob you know what kind of answers you're going to get. In that chapter, I also uncovered four other major technical flaws with that study. The 100,000 dead civilians claim is provably false.

Lopez: You've been to Iraq. How do some of these war myths affect our troops?

Miniter: I don't think it hurts morale, but I wish I had a dollar for every time a soldier asked me why the media never reports on the Iraq they see everyday: a booming economy, skyscrapers going up, free elections, a free press, and an increasingly effective new Iraqi army. When I saw General Barbeio in Tikrit, I noticed that all the television sets were tuned to Fox News. One officer told me that the soldiers couldn't stomach CNN. I'm sure that there is no Army policy on what channel the soldiers can watch; but the men have clearly voted with their remotes.

Lopez: How much information is the fault of foreign sources ? with agendas? And lazy American journalists picking them up?

Miniter: Quite a bit. The myth that bin Laden is on dialysis came from Pakistan's intelligence service via its newspapers. Pakistan also gave us the myth that Mossad warned the Jews to stay home on 9/11. That is classic disinformation. The media generates a lot of these myths by giving credence to ideologically motivated critics ? and they have grown too lazy to check. A lot of what we think about as liberal bias is really just poor editing. Editors don't push reporters to present evidence or to evaluate what anonymous sources are telling them. A simple question from a single editor could have saved Newsweek a lot of embarrassment: Can a U.S.-issued Koran actually fit down the bowl of an Army toilet? And 60 Minutes could have saved itself some grief by asking just how credible the claims of General Lebed that Russian suitcase-sized nuclear devices had gone missing. Lebed was known for his wild stories, and U.S. officials had monitored the destruction of such portable nukes years before the story broke.

Lopez: Speaking of foreign entryways, why do you pile on Canada?

Miniter: Because the Canadian border is the real threat, at least from al-Qaeda terrorists. No al-Qaeda operatives have been captured along the southern border, but a number have slipped in from Canada, including Ahmed Ressam, who planned to blow up Los Angles International Airport in 1999. When you read all the evidence, you will know why the FBI worries more about the threat from the north . . .

Lopez: Why do you sell your soul to Halliburton?

Miniter: And all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

Actually, it is a great story ? with many important details that have been ignored by the mainstream media. Halliburton's profit margin in Iraq last year was 2.4 percent. Even municipal bonds are better investments than that. That's one reason that Halliburton wants to sell the division with the Iraq contracts. Oh, and did you know that Halliburton got the big contract before Bush and Cheney were elected?

Lopez: Which myth most surprised you?

Miniter: Several ones really surprised me. The notion that terrorism is caused by poverty especially. It turns out that the average al-Qaeda member is from an intact family, has at least a college degree, is more likely to be married than not, and was not particularly religious until he joined a terror cell. A former CIA officer who is now a forensic psychiatrist lays out fascinating information about what really causes terrorism in chapter 16 and describes the techniques used to keep these otherwise promising people on the path to murder. That was an eye-opener to me, and I have been interviewing intelligence officers for years.

Another surprise was that we did find some WMDs in Iraq. Okay, no stockpiles, but artillery shells loaded with sarin gas as well as other chemical weapons. The antiwar crowd always says "no evidence" ? nada, zip, zero ? and they are provably wrong.

Lopez: You should get these myths on postcards. Have them at the door at the bar down the block. Think of the impact on public opinion!

Miniter: Getting the myth onto a postcard is easy. Getting all of the evidence against it on a postcard would require really small font. We'd have to give all patrons little magnifying glasses.

Lopez: If people don't have the time for all 22 myths, what would you like them to grab from your book? What's most important?

Miniter: That's like asking which one of your children is your favorite. Even if there is an honest answer, it is tactless to give it.

On the other hand, most people tend to think that the chapters on WMDs found in Iraq, the voluminous connections between Iraq and al Qaeda and the Halliburton are important. I particularly like the chapters on suitcase nukes, that Iraq is not another Vietnam, and the one about terrorism not causing poverty ? partly because they take the reader into new and unexpected directions.

Lopez: Is this war ? the Iraq part in particular ? salvageable? Katie Couric makes me feel like it's not.

Miniter: Yeah, she's my favorite military expert too. I have been to Iraq and I think that we are winning. The press simply doesn't play up allied victories; they save that precious air time for the next car bomb. Consider the recent campaign in a place called Tall Afar, near the Syrian border. An Iraqi-American force (with more Iraqis than Americans) took on dug insurgents in A series of battles in September 2005. The enemy was quickly beaten and more than 100 terrorists were taken prisoner. Tall Afar was important because it cut a key enemy supply route from Syria to Baghdad and drove the enemy out of its desert strongholds. Or consider that the al-Zarqawi master bomb-maker was recently captured in Northern Iraq, as well as a bomb factory. And so on. Nor has it escaped the notice of Iraqis that most of the victims of the insurgency are civilians and most of suicide bombers are foreigners, some 60 percent hail from Saudi Arabia according to the death notices posted on jihadist websites. The war reporting from Iraq is shockingly one-sided, partly because some of the fixers and translators employed by some Western journalists once worked from Saddam's regime.


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VDH on the Virus of Terror
« Reply #202 on: November 04, 2005, 09:42:27 AM »
Dang, can this guy ever seperate the wheat from the chaff.

November 04, 2005, 8:40 a.m.
The Real Global Virus
The plague of Islamism keeps on spreading
Victor Davis Hanson

Either the jihadists really are crazy or they apparently think that they have a shot at destabilizing, or at least winning concessions from, the United States, Europe, India, and Russia all at once.

Apart from the continual attacks on civilians by terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the West Bank, there have now been recent horrific assaults in New Dehli (blowing up civilians in a busy shopping season on the eve of a Hindu festival), Russia (attacking police and security facilities), London (suicide murdering of civilians on the subway), and Indonesia (more bombing, and the beheading of Christian schoolgirls). The loci of recent atrocities could be widely expanded (e.g., Malaysia, North Africa, Turkey, Spain) ? and, of course, do not forget the several terrorist plots that have been broken up in Europe and the United States.

The commonalities? There are at least three.

First, despite the various professed grievances (e.g., India should get out of Kashmir; Russia should get out of Chechnya; England should get out of Iraq; Christians should get out of Indonesia; or Westerners should get out of Bali), the perpetrators were all self-proclaimed Islamic radicals. Westerners who embrace moral equivalence still like to talk of abortion bombings and Timothy McVeigh, but those are isolated and distant memories. No, the old generalization since 9/11 remains valid: The majority of Muslims are not global terrorists, but almost all such terrorists, and the majority of their sympathizers, are Muslims.

Second, the jihadists characteristically feel that dialogue or negotiations are beneath them. So like true fascists, they don?t talk; they kill. Their opponents ? whether Christians, Hindus, Jews, or Westerners in general ? are, as infidels, de facto guilty for what they are rather than what they supposedly do. Talking to a Dr. Zawahiri is like talking to Hitler: You can?t ? and it?s suicidal to try.

Third, there is an emboldened sense that the jihadists can get away with their crimes based on three perceptions:

(1) Squabbling and politically correct Westerners are decadent and outnumber the U.S. Marines, and ascendant Islamicism resonates among millions of Muslims who feel sorely how far they have fallen behind in the new globalized world community ? and how terrorism and blackmail, especially if energized by nuclear weapons or biological assets, might leapfrog them into a new caliphate.

(2) Sympathetic Muslim-dominated governments like Malaysia or Indonesia will not really make a comprehensive effort to eradicate radical Islamicist breeding grounds of terror, but will perhaps instead serve as ministries of propaganda for shock troops in the field.

(3) Autocratic states such as Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran share outright similar political objectives and will offer either stealthy sanctuary or financial support to terrorists, confident that either denial, oil, or nuclear bombs give them security .

Meanwhile, Westerners far too rarely publicly denounce radical Islam for its sick, anti-Semitic, anti-female, anti-American, and anti-modernist rhetoric. Just imagine the liberal response if across the globe Christians had beheaded schoolgirls, taken over schoolhouses to kill students, and shot school teachers as we have witnessed radical Muslims doing these past few months.

Instead, Western parlor elites are still arguing over whether there were al Qaedists in Iraq before the removal of Saddam Hussein, whether the suspicion of WMDs was the real reason for war against the Baathists, whether Muslim minorities should be pressured to assimilate into European democratic culture, and whether constitutional governments risk becoming intolerant in their new efforts to infiltrate and disrupt radical Muslim groups in Europe and the United States. Some of this acrimony is understandable, but such in-fighting is still secondary to defeating enemies who have pledged to destroy Western liberal society. At some point this Western cannibalism becomes not so much counterproductive as serving the purposes of those who wish America to call off its struggle against radical Islam.

Most Americans think that our present conflict is not comparable with World War II, in either its nature or magnitude. Perhaps ? but they should at least recall the eerie resemblance of our dilemma to the spread of global fascism in the late 1930s.

At first few saw any real connection between the ruthless annexation of Manchuria by Japanese militarists, or Mussolini?s brutal invasion of Ethiopia, or the systematic aggrandizement of Eastern-European territory by Hitler. China was a long way from Abyssinia, itself far from Poland. How could a white-supremacist Nazi have anything in common with a racially-chauvinist Japanese or an Italian fascist proclaiming himself the new imperial Roman?

In response, the League of Nations dithered and imploded (sound familiar?). Rightist American isolationists (they?re back) assured us that fascism abroad was none of our business or that there were conspiracies afoot by Jews to have us do their dirty work. Leftists were only galvanized when Hitler finally turned on Stalin (perhaps we have to wait for Osama to attack Venezuela or Cuba to get the Left involved). Abroad even members of the British royal family were openly sympathetic to German grievances (cf. Prince Charles?s silence about Iran?s promise to wipe out Israel, but his puerile Edward VIII-like lectures to Americans about a misunderstood Islam). French appeasement was such that even the most humiliating concession was deemed preferable to the horrors of World War I (no comment needed).

We can, of course, learn from this. It?s past time that we quit worrying whether a killer who blows himself up on the West Bank, or a terrorist who shouts the accustomed jihadist gibberish as he crashes a jumbo jet into the World Trade Center, or a driver who rams his explosives-laden car into an Iraqi polling station, or a Chechnyan rebel who blows the heads off schoolchildren, is in daily e-mail contact with Osama bin Laden. Our present lax attitude toward jihadism is akin to deeming local outbreaks of avian flu as regional maladies without much connection to a new strain of a deadly ? and global ? virus.

Instead, the world?if it is to save its present liberal system of free trade, safe travel, easy and unfettered communications, and growing commitment to constitutional government?must begin seeing radical Islamism as a universal pathology rather than reactions to regional grievances, if it is ever to destroy it materially and refute it ideologically.

Yet the antidote for radical Islam, aside from the promotion of democratization and open economies, is simple. It must be militarily defeated when it emerges to wage organized violence, as in the cases of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Zarqawi?s terrorists in Iraq, and the various killer cliques in Palestine.

Second, any who tolerate radical Islam should be ostracized. Muslims living in the West must be condemned when they assert that the Jews caused 9/11, or that suicide bombing is a legitimate response to Israel, or that Islamic immigrants? own unique culture gives them a pass from accustomed assimilation, or that racial and religious affinity should allow tolerance for the hatred that spews forth from madrassas and mosques ? before the patience of Western liberalism is exhausted and ?the rules of the game? in Tony Blair?s words ?change? quite radically and we begin to see mass invitations to leave.

Third, nations that intrigue with jihadists must be identified as the enemies of civilization. We often forget that there are now left only four major nation-states in the world that either by intent or indifference allow radical Islamists to find sanctuary.

If Pakistan were seriously to disavow terrorism and not see it as an asset in its rivalry with India and as a means to vent anti-Western angst, then Osama bin Laden, Dr. Zawahiri, and their lieutenants would be hunted down tomorrow.

If the petrolopolis of Saudi Arabia would cease its financial support of Wahhabi radicals, most terrorists could scarcely travel or organize operations.

If there were sane governments in Syria and Iran, then there would be little refuge left for al Qaeda, and the money and shelter that now protects the beleaguered and motley collection of ex-Saddamites, Hezbollah, and al Qaedists would cease.

So in large part four nations stand in the way of eradicating much of the global spread of jihadism ? and it is no accident that either oil or nuclear weapons have won a global free pass for three of them. And it is no accident that we don?t have a means to wean ourselves off Middle East oil or as yet stop Iran from becoming the second Islamic nuclear nation.

But just as importantly, our leaders must explain far more cogently and in some detail ? rather than merely assert ? to the Western public the nature of the threat we face, and how our strategy will prevail.

In contrast, when the American public is still bickering over WMDs rather than relieved that the culprit for the first World Trade Center bombing can no longer find official welcome in Baghdad; or when our pundits seem more worried about Halliburton than the changes in nuclear attitudes in Libya and Pakistan; or when the media mostly ignores a greater percentage of voters turning out for a free national election in the heart of the ancient caliphate than during most election years in the United States ? something has gone terribly, tragically wrong here at home.

? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His latest book is A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.


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« Reply #203 on: November 17, 2005, 10:50:40 AM »
The New Bolsheviks  Print  Mail
Understanding Al Qaeda
By Frederick W. Kagan
Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2005
AEI Online    
Publication Date: November 16, 2005

 This essay is available here as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.

November 2005

Victory in war, and particularly in counterinsurgency wars, requires knowing one?s enemy. This simple truth, first stated by Sun Tsu more than two millennia ago, is no less important in the war on terrorism today. It has become almost common wisdom, however, that America today faces an enemy of a new kind, using unprecedented techniques and pursuing incomprehensible goals. But this enemy is not novel. Once the peculiar rhetoric is stripped away, the enemy America faces is a familiar one indeed. The revolutionary vision that undergirds al Qaeda?s ideology, the strategy it is pursuing, and the strategic debates occurring within that organization are similar to those of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism at various periods. What?s more, the methods that led to the defeat of that ideology can be adapted and successfully used against this religious revival of it.

Certain strands of Islamist ideology are so similar in structure to basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism that the comparison is unavoidable. The similarities are most apparent in the writings of Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian Islamist and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood executed in 1966. Qutb, who produced a pamphlet called Milestones that summarized much of his work, has powerfully influenced the modern jihadist movement, especially Ayman al-Zawahiri--Osama bin Laden?s deputy and the ideologue of al Qaeda--and Abdul Musab al-Zarqawi, ?emir? of the al Qaeda organization in Iraq.

The Influence of Marx and Lenin

Milestones--like Vladimir Lenin?s famous pamphlet What Is to Be Done?--sums up not merely the ideological foundations of the movement, but also the strategy and tactics that must be pursued to achieve success. Before considering Qutb?s program, however, it is worthwhile to recall the essential tenets of Marxism-Leninism to which Qutb?s jihadism bears such noteworthy resemblance.

Briefly put, Karl Marx argued that the world of his day was corrupt, riddled with oppression, and spawning endless violence and war because of fundamental flaws in the human structures and within human beings themselves. One manifestation of this oppression was the nation-state, which the exploitative capitalist classes had falsely erected in order to suppress proletarians and lower orders. Marx claimed to have applied scientific principles to the study of history and to have discovered its secrets: all history consisted of class struggle, and that struggle moved inevitably to the ultimate triumph of the proletariat.

That triumph once achieved, Marx argued, a period of ?socialism? would begin in which human nature would be transformed. People would live in harmony according to the principle ?From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.? All of the false encrustations of oppressive capitalist society, such as money, mass production, police, religion, private property, would vanish. The state would ?wither away,? whereupon the period of true communism would begin, stateless and utterly and eternally peaceful.

Marx?s disciples accepted his vision with little argument. The best strategy for achieving it, however, became a serious source of discord within the socialist movement, persisting even to the final collapse of the Bolshevik experiment in 1991. Marx argued for different approaches at different times. The early Marx argued that the proletariat could come to power only through a violent revolution, while he wrote in Das Kapital that the process might be more peaceful and gradual. Revolutionaries like Lenin and Mao sought violent confrontation and the cataclysmic revolution that the early Marx had promised. Western European socialists tended to prefer the later Marx, eschewing violence and direct confrontation and relying on the engine of history. All of them generally agreed that the ?contradictions? of capitalism would contribute to communism?s triumph through capitalism?s inevitable collapse.

Lenin?s belief in the necessity of violent revolution emerged in part from the condition of his native land. In late-nineteenth-century Russia proletarians were a small minority and unable by themselves to take power, even had they wholeheartedly supported the Bolshevik movement, which they did not. Lenin therefore saw that his only hope of success in Russia was to entrammel the peasant along with the worker in a revolutionary movement aimed first at seizing power on behalf of the socialist movement. There would then be plenty of time, he reasoned, to reeducate the peasants as necessary. The key to this movement, he believed, was a revolutionary party, what he came to call the ?vanguard of the proletariat.? This party, comprised largely of intellectuals, was alone capable of really understanding Marxism and developing and executing the strategies needed to bring about its triumph. Once the vanguard had seized power in the name of the proletariat, establishing what Lenin called the ?dictatorship of the proletariat,? it would then proceed to empower those elements of the proletariat, and other classes if there were any, that understood and supported the true principles of Marxism-Leninism. It was not necessary, therefore, that all or even a majority of proletarians supported the revolution or believed in Marxism. The only thing that mattered was that the revolutionary vanguard was capable of seizing and holding power. Education and transformation would then do the rest.

The Bolsheviks? seizure of power in Russia in 1917 raised yet another issue that promptly split the revolutionary movement into two camps. Should the new Bolshevik state seek at once to spread revolution around the world, or should it focus instead on perfecting what Joseph Stalin called ?communism in one country? in order to establish a beacon, a model, and a bastion of successful communism to sustain and inspire revolution elsewhere? Stalin favored the latter course, Leon Trotsky the former. Stalin?s triumph enshrined this approach in Soviet grand strategy, although it is not clear that Trotsky would have acted very differently had he ever held supreme power. The ideological split was nevertheless bitter and central to the subsequent development of communist thought.

Qutb?s Vision

Qutb also viewed the world of his day as decadent, violent, oppressive, and riddled with contradictions. Writing in the 1950s, he condemned Western capitalism, Western socialism, Eastern despotism, and Marxism itself as ?unable to present any healthy values for the guidance of mankind.?[1] Like Marx, Qutb was familiar with the society he was condemning, for he had spent two years in the United States and had been profoundly impressed by its godlessness and hedonism. It was not necessary, he argued, for Islam to vie with West or East in the matter of material prosperity and inventiveness, although he did not despise such capabilities. The role of Islam, rather, was to provide the moral and spiritual leadership the world so badly needed, to fulfill ?the basic human needs on the same level of excellence as technology has fulfilled them in the sphere of material comfort.?[2]

Qutb argued that the basic problem afflicting the human race was the subordination of human beings to one another. Only God, he wrote, could exercise just sovereignty, and only God?s laws are truly laws. For many centuries, however, man had established his own laws and governments, with individuals usurping God?s sovereignty and thereby elevating themselves as false idols and dictators. Even within the Muslim world, the Umma, he noted, state structures had been established and the leaders of those structures legislated and established laws of their own, distinct from the laws of sharia, which were of God.

This argument was central to Qutb?s thought, for it justified his claim that the world of his day, including most of the so-called Muslim world of that time, existed in a state of jahiliyya, or ignorance of God. Traditionally, this term is applied to the period before Mohammed, but Qutb applied it to most of history following Mohammed?s revelations on the ground that people to whom the words of the Prophet had been presented, but who had rejected those words and were living by their own codes, were no less ignorant than those who lived before the Prophet arrived on earth. Worse still, by ?worshipping? other human beings in the process of according them the honors due to the sovereignty they had usurped from God, these people were guilty of polytheism, just as the early Arabs were whom Mohammed chastened, defeated, and then converted.

Qutb was arguing that all human state structures are inherently evil and should be destroyed. He recognized that most of the non-Muslim world, and even most of the Umma, was not yet ready to live in accord with the only true and just laws, the sharia, and so he proposed a period of careful education and training to transform humanity so that it would reject the false teachings and turn toward the true. He described in great detail the manner in which the Koran was to be transmitted, verse by verse over thirteen years, according to Qutb, so that those who received it would be educated gradually and transformed. The clear implication was that once humanity has been reformed and reeducated as Qutb describes, state structures will collapse and vanish, and people will live in peace and harmony under the laws of God and not under their own, as he claimed the first generation of Muslims did.

Like Lenin, Qutb knew that his view was not shared by the majority of the people on whose behalf he proposed to operate. He was untroubled by this difficulty, since he adopted the same solution Lenin had proposed: ?How is it possible to start the task of reviving Islam?? he asked. ?It is necessary that there should be a vanguard which sets out with this determination and then keeps walking on the path.? Milestones would serve as the guide for the vanguard in this fight.[3]

Qutb also considered the problem aired during the Stalin-Trotsky dispute following the Bolshevik victory--should the vanguard aim to win throughout the world all at once or in one place first? He chose the Stalinist approach, arguing that the vanguard should work first to seize power in a single state: ?The beauty of this new system cannot be appreciated unless it takes a concrete form. Hence it is essential that a community arrange its affairs according to it and show it to the world. In order to bring this about, we need to initiate the movement of Islamic revival in some Muslim country. Only such a revivalist movement will eventually attain to the status of world leadership.?[4]

Here, then, in a nutshell is the basic structure of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism reproduced in a religious context: the corruption and illegitimacy of current state structures; the inadmissibility of any state structures in a justly ordered world; the need to transform humanity before entering into that world; the need to begin by seizing power in a single state, but with the aim of ultimately destroying all states; the error of having any human or group of humans holding sovereignty over any other; and the critical role of a vanguard revolutionary group in the process. Qutb was in no way a Marxist, but the basic structure of his argument certainly was akin to that of Marx and his disciples.

Ideologically, the emphasis on the illegitimacy and need for the destruction of all state structures is a peculiarly Marxist approach--non-Marxist revolutionaries generally argue that they will improve upon failed state structures, not that they aim at destroying them all. The assertion that human nature must be transformed in order to pave the way for a glorious this-worldly paradise is also peculiarly Marxist--it gives Marxism an air of pseudo-religiosity. Qutb?s religiosity is not false in any way, of course, but this philosophical premise fits at least as well with Marx as with Mohammed.

One important difference between Qutb and Marxism deserves to be noted, however. Whereas Marxists operated in a world in which few proletarians, let alone peasants or capitalists, had even read or understood the touchstone works of their movements, Qutb and his disciples can rely on more than a billion people to be intimately familiar with the Koran, the sharia, and the life of the Prophet. But this apparent difference is really another point of similarity. Marxists constantly worried about how to raise the ?class consciousness? of the proletariat, by which they meant teaching the workers to understand the true oppressive meaning of their situation and the real power at their disposal. Qutb and his followers have the same problem. All Muslims are familiar with the Koran; relatively few know of Qutb?s writings. The Koran does not teach that a revolutionary vanguard should seize a decrepit Muslim state and establish a new order there, transforming human nature as it goes, to serve as a beacon for the global revolution. If the jihadists cannot persuade their fellow Muslims that this is the right course to follow, then the familiarity of those Muslims with the Koran is of no more significance than the fact that proletarians without adequate ?class consciousness? continued to work in factories. In both cases, the raw material for supporting the revolution is, in theory, there--the question is whether or not the vanguard can mobilize it when the time comes.

Al Qaeda--The Vanguard of Today

One important difference between Marxism-Leninism and jihadism is that, whereas Lenin was a shrewder and more talented theorist than Marx, the ideologues of the current struggle are far less eloquent and coherent than Qutb. Ayman al-Zawahiri is one of the most thoughtful of al Qaeda?s ideologists, and he has published numerous books and tracts describing the intellectual basis of the program al Qaeda is pursuing. Of particular interest is a manuscript he completed in 2001, Knights under the Banner of the Prophet,[5] which some have called his autobiography, others his ?last will and testament,? since it was apparently completed before the expected American attack on Afghanistan and in the expectation of his possible death in that struggle.

Zawahiri makes clear his intellectual debt to Qutb. He explains that Qutb ?affirmed that the issue of unification in Islam is important and that the battle between Islam and its enemies is primarily an ideological one over the issue of unification. It is also a battle over to whom authority and power should belong--to God?s course and sharia, to man-made laws and material principles, or to those who claim to be intermediaries between the Creator and mankind.? He continues, ?This affirmation greatly helped the Islamic movement to know and define its enemies. It also helped it to realize that the internal enemy was not less dangerous than the external enemy was and that the internal enemy was a tool used by the external enemy and a screen behind which it hid to launch its war on Islam.?[6] He identified Qutb?s execution by Nassar as the spark that set alight the Islamic revolution and formed the nucleus of the revolutionary movement of which Zawahiri was a part. Although Zawahiri almost certainly intended no such reference, it is hard to resist noting that the name of Lenin?s revolutionary paper was Iskra--?the spark.?

In good Leninist fashion, the bulk of Zawahiri?s writing in Knights under the Banner of the Prophet does not address the basic principles that underlie the movement, although numerous references and obvious assumptions make it clear that he accepted Qutb?s arguments fully. Zawahiri focuses instead on arguing with other Islamists about strategies and tactics, in a manner eerily familiar to anyone who has ever perused Lenin?s pre-revolutionary writings.

Like the Bolsheviks before them, the Islamists--from Zawahiri?s perspective--are split into at least two major camps. There are those who believe in working non-violently toward improving the lot of Muslims within Muslim countries, hoping to establish the rule of sharia but unwilling to use violence to do so. He was particularly bitter toward the members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who issued a unilateral declaration that they would renounce violence in the hope of securing the release of thousands of their members then incarcerated in Egyptian jails and subjected, so they said, to extreme tortures. Zawahiri dismissed this approach contemptuously, noting that it had borne no fruit and would never bear any. The Egyptian regime, he declared, was bound hand and foot to the service of its American masters, who were working with desperate strength to eradicate Islamism throughout the world. The only way of reversing this situation, he declared, is through violent jihad--compromise would only play into the hands of the oppressors.

This sort of debate is common in revolutionary movements. The radicals who prefer violence and refuse to moderate their demands frequently resent those who would compromise, thereby reducing the grievances of the population the radicals hope to inflame. The Bolsheviks were among the first to denounce compromisers with such bitterness, and the vision of a corrupt Egyptian regime playing the cat?s-paw to the international efforts of godless atheism to destroy Islamism are almost perfectly analogous to the Bolsheviks? descriptions of bumbling Russian capitalists and tsarist officials serving the cause of international capitalism.

The same tension between attacking the cat?s-paw and attacking the master evident in the Stalin-Trotsky debate enlivens Zawahiri?s thinking. He comes, however, to a middle position. He entirely agrees with Qutb that it is essential to seize a territorial base in the Muslim heartland, to take power in a Muslim country. But he also believes that the fight must be brought home to the Americans and their international allies. This belief is based on a calculation of relative forces. Zawahiri believes that al Qaeda might be able to defeat one or more of the Muslim states if those states were not supported. But his evaluation of the international situation suggests that the United States is throwing all of its weight behind those regimes in its determination to prevent jihadists from seizing power in any of them. The purpose of the attacks on the United States was, therefore, to divide it from its regional allies by showing them to be incapable of controlling the jihadists. The Americans would then, Zawahiri argues, either quarrel with those allies--presumably giving the jihadists the opportunity to strike them--or push the allies aside and intervene directly in the struggle within the Muslim world. In that case, he argues, the struggle will turn into ?clear-cut jihad against infidels,? which the Muslims, presumably, will win.

In yet another intriguing parallel to the Bolsheviks, Zawahiri found himself isolated and far from the main theater of action following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. While Zawahiri and bin Laden apparently ran from cave to cave along the Afghan-Pakistani border, other jihadist leaders came to the fore in Iraq, particularly Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born jihadist who had a complicated relationship with al Qaeda. Zarqawi had been present in Afghanistan under the Taliban, but had refused to acknowledge bin Laden?s leadership. The Taliban unusually allowed him to set up and control his own bases near Herat. He was apparently in Iraq at the time of the U.S. attack, and began rapidly establishing his own network to resist the occupation.[7]

Zawahiri has therefore been playing the role of Lenin to Zarqawi?s Stalin. When revolution destroyed the tsarist regime in March 1917, Lenin was in exile in Switzerland, and the Bolshevik machine within Russia was in ruins. Stalin and another famous revolutionary, Lev Kamenev, had been imprisoned by the tsarist regime but now escaped and took over the primitive Bolshevik organization that existed. Lenin watched from Zurich with dismay as Stalin and Kamenev undertook a series of initiatives with which Lenin disagreed. The matter might have remained in such tension--and the Bolshevik Revolution might never have followed in November 1917, had the German government not sent Lenin clandestinely from Switzerland back to Russia to take up the reins of power.

Al Qaeda similarly had but a small base in Saddam Hussein?s Iraq, and Zawahiri and others were surprised and disturbed by the quick and complete American victory in April 2003. Zarqawi stepped quickly into the void and persuaded Osama bin Laden to recognize his group as the al Qaeda branch organization within Iraq. Since then, Zarqawi and Zawahiri have conducted a fitful correspondence about revolutionary strategy that bears careful examination.

Before turning to that examination, we must address one major difference between the present situation and that of the Bolsheviks. Before 1917, Lenin?s most important role was as a revolutionary theorist and, secondarily, organizer. The Bolsheviks in that period carried out few operations of their own. Lenin focused his attention on developing the strategy for the vanguard of the proletariat, rather than on writing propaganda to be distributed to the masses.

Zarqawi, Zawahiri, bin Laden, and their followers face a different set of circumstances today. They have been conducting significant operations since the early 1990s and have been pursuing an offensive revolutionary strategy even as they have worked to establish safe havens and to protect their organization from attacks and counterattacks. Zawahiri and bin Laden, are also far more concerned with the reception of their message by the Muslim population at large than Lenin ever was. The great bulk of their available writing, therefore, is aimed at the mass audience and designed to achieve purposes that the Bolsheviks would have regarded as simple agitation rather than revolutionary theory. It is very difficult to extract a meaningful view of the development of jihadist ideology from such documents.

The captured letters between Zarqawi and Zawahiri tell another story entirely, however, and are much more useful for this purpose. In this exchange, Zarqawi has revealed that, although he shares with Stalin a certain bloodthirstiness and brutality, he is superior to Stalin in his ability to develop an independent ideological vision. Like Stalin, Zarqawi focuses primarily on revolutionary success within a single state rather than on the success of the revolutionary movement globally. He nevertheless accepts the basic tenets of Qutb?s teachings. ?All that we hope,? he writes, ?is that we will be the spearhead, the enabling vanguard, and the bridge on which the [Islamic] nation crosses over to the victory that is promised and the tomorrow to which we aspire.?[8] The struggle for power in Iraq is to be accompanied by a large-scale media effort to ?explain the rules of sharia through tapes, printed materials, study, and courses of learning [meant] to expand awareness, anchor the doctrine of the unity of God, prepare the infrastructure, and meet [our] obligation.? The seizure of power in Iraq is, finally, merely the starting-point for Zarqawi, after which ?the mujahidin will have assured themselves land from which to set forth in striking the Shia in their heartland, along with a clear media orientation and the creation of strategic depth and reach among the brothers outside [Iraq] and the mujahidin within.?

The practical revolutionary program that Zarqawi laid out focused on attacking Iraq?s Shiite population first and foremost. Zarqawi believed that the Shia were the worst foes of the revolution. They were, from his perspective, apostates, heretics, and historically collaborators with the enemies of Islam--by which Zarqawi always means Sunni Islam. In the current struggle, Zarqawi sees the Shiites as the most dangerous allies of the Americans, since they were eager to seize power, to crush the Arab Sunnis, and to destroy true Islam--and they could accomplish all of those goals while putting a pseudo-Islamic face on Iraq that might deceive the rest of the world.

Zarqawi also labored, at least in early 2004, with several other problems that Lenin would have found familiar. The revolutionary groups within Iraq were scattered and ill-organized. They had few followers and even fewer experienced members. The influx of new recruits was both helpful and a burden, since the organization hardly had the capability to train them adequately and still accomplish its mission. Like the good Stalinist that he is, Zarqawi made it clear that he intended to use the first several months of 2004 to establish a solid organizational basis for the revolution in Iraq.

The goal of his attacks on the Shiites was not simply fomenting religious strife, however. It was also revolutionary strategy. Zarqawi was clearly disappointed with the apathy of the majority of the Sunni Arabs in Iraq and sought to raise their revolutionary consciousness by baiting the Shiites into attacking them. He was eager to accomplish this goal before the Sunnis fell into the trap of longing for material and even political advantages that might flow from the nascent democracy in Iraq and of deciding to abandon jihad.

Zawahiri, for his part, found Zarqawi?s strategy and actions as disturbing as Lenin found Stalin?s. Zawahiri has always been concerned with the way the Muslim masses perceived al Qaeda and its message. In Knights under the Banner of the Prophet, he wrote,

The jihad movement must dedicate one of its wings to work with the masses, preach, provide services for the Muslim people, and share their concerns through all available avenues for charity and educational work. We must not leave a single area unoccupied. We must win the people?s confidence, respect, and affection. The people will not love us unless they felt that we love them, care about them, and are ready to defend them.[9]

His recent declaration that the jihadists and all other Muslims should offer such aid as they can to suffering Pakistanis despite the evil of Musharraf?s government is another example of his determination to secure a positive image of his movement in the eyes of the masses.

Zawahiri made this point explicitly in his letter to Zarqawi:

If we are in agreement that the victory of Islam and the establishment of a caliphate in the manner of the Prophet will not be achieved except through jihad against the apostate rulers and their removal, then this goal will not be accomplished by the mujahed movement while it is cut off from public support, even if the Jihadist movement pursues the method of sudden overthrow. This is because such an overthrow would not take place without some minimum of popular support and some condition of public discontent which offers the mujahed movement what it needs in terms of capabilities in the quickest fashion. . . . In the absence of this popular support, the Islamic mujahed movement would be crushed in the shadows.[10]

In accord with this desire to gain mass support within the Umma, Zawahiri has not proposed attacks against the Shia. His emphasis is always upon unifying against the common enemy, in which he regards jahiliyya as being more dangerous than apostasy. Zawahiri was, therefore, apparently deeply disturbed by Zarqawi?s decision to turn on the Shia first, as a way of attacking the Americans and as a way of mobilizing the Sunni Arabs within Iraq. Zawahiri makes clear that he shares Zarqawi?s opinion of the Shia: ?People of discernment and knowledge among Muslims know the extent of danger to Islam of the Twelve?er school of Shiism. It is a religious school based on excess and falsehood.? He continues, however, ?We must repeat . . . that the majority of Muslims don?t comprehend this and possibly could not even imagine it. For that reason, many of your Muslim admirers amongst the common folk are wondering about your attacks on the Shia.? Zarqawi?s attacks on Shiite mosques, he added, increase this unease. ?My opinion is that this matter won?t be acceptable to the Muslim populace however much you have tried to explain it, and aversion to this will continue.? Speaking indirectly, but clearly for himself as well, Zawahiri muses, ?Is the opening of another front now in addition to the front against the Americans and the government a wise decision??

Zawahiri repeatedly acknowledges, with infinitely more apparent humility than Lenin ever showed Stalin and Kamenev (or anyone else, for that matter), that he is far from the theater of action and only Zarqawi has the true picture of events in Iraq. He adds, ?however, monitoring from afar has the advantage of providing the total picture and observing the general line without getting submerged in the details . . . One of the most important factors of success is that you don?t let your eyes lose sight of the target, and that it should stand before you always. Otherwise you deviate from the general line through a policy of reaction.? These are the harsh words of the ideologue attempting to bring the overzealous local commander to heel. Stalin would certainly have cringed on receiving such a missive from Lenin. It is unclear what Zarqawi?s reaction was.

That is partly because the power relationship between Zarqawi and Zawahiri is quite different from that between Stalin and Lenin. Bin Laden is famous throughout the Muslim world, and Zawahiri is known as his loyal deputy and brilliant ideologue. But Zarqawi is developing a significant aura all his own from his ability to elude and hurt the Americans, if from nothing else. Should Zarqawi succeed in Iraq, it is quite likely that he would push bin Laden and Zawahiri aside in the leadership of al Qaeda and the jihadist movement. It is extremely unlikely, on the other hand, that Zawahiri will travel to Iraq, take control of the situation, impose his brilliant ideological vision, and achieve Lenin?s victory.

What?s at Stake in the War on Terror

For all the obvious and subtle differences between the current situation and that of the Bolsheviks, the analogy can nevertheless inform our thinking in important ways. It helps to strip away the confusion resulting from the jihadists? abuse of Islamic theology and cut through the tangle of arguments about 1,400-year old events and personalities to reveal the true stakes of the struggle. This is not a war of the West against Islam, of wealthy nations against the poor, of the agents of globalization against their victims. It is an ideological struggle in which the heirs of Qutb are attempting to seize power so as to establish a forcible dictatorship that can impose their desired moral, political, economic, judicial, and social system upon a growing mass--and ultimately, the whole--of the human race.

They are using the tried-and-true methods of the Bolsheviks, and the many revolutionaries who have followed in their wake, as they attempt to accomplish this mission. A small group of professional revolutionaries works simultaneously to expand its reach in the populace and to perfect its own organization. At the right historical moment, it strikes a weak state and seizes power. It then uses that state for two purposes. First, it builds a model, a showpiece of the excellence of its ideological program to encourage other groups to imitate it, creating similar states which it can then absorb. Second, it develops the resources of that state to place them at the disposal of the revolutionary movement, dramatically increasing its reach and capabilities. It is essential to recall in this regard that, although the jihadists write like seventh-century poets and advocate a ?return? to an idealized version of ?traditional Islam,? they have no quarrel with technology. Qutb made that explicit in Milestones, and the jihadists have made it clear with word and deed that they accept the premise that this idealized Islam is not at odds with advanced technology.

The movement is now quarreling in numerous fora about strategy: to attack the Shia or not, to attack the Saudi government or leave it alone, to strike the Americans or their regional allies--all arguments similar in nature to those that animated Bolshevik discussions before and after the Great October Socialist Revolution.

We must be attentive to how these quarrels are resolved. It is quite possible that the ?central? al Qaeda organization, if we may so designate the group immediately responsive to bin Laden and Zawahiri, has not staged another September 11th-style attack on the United States not so much because they are incapable of it, but because they have concluded that it is counterproductive at the current moment. September 11th certainly did not produce the result they desired: the United States did not turn on its regional allies, nor did America?s direct intervention in the Muslim world lead to a dramatic explosion of spontaneous jihad.

Judging from the increasingly desperate tone of the internal jihadist correspondence, in fact, it seems clear that they do not feel that they are winning this struggle. Zawahiri appears to be focusing on building an organization and a new base in the Muslim community, and to be quarrelling with Zarqawi about the latter?s policies that are complicating that effort. Zarqawi has been throwing his might into igniting a Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq. So far, that has not occurred, but Zawahiri?s injunctions to abandon that line of effort offer little in the way of alternatives.

One of the greatest dangers facing the West today, therefore, is the danger of growing complacent. If the terrorists are directing their attacks away from America?s shores now for strategic reasons of their own, they may revise that decision at any moment. More importantly, the Bolshevik example provides cause for fear of another sort. In March 1917, as we have noted, the Bolsheviks were utterly irrelevant in the Russian political scene. The collapse of the tsarist government did not bring them to power, but it created a chaos in which they could reform and reorganize to strike. The failure of the Kerensky government, which resulted largely from its ill-advised determination to keep fighting an unpopular war, offered the revitalized Bolsheviks the opportunity to seize power. Even then, it required a vicious three-year civil war to consolidate the victory, a victory made possible largely because of the war-weariness and distraction of ?international capitalism,? meaning the United States, Britain, France, Japan, and their allies.

The struggle to establish stability in Iraq and Afghanistan is thus at the very heart of any war against jihadism. Zarqawi, bin Laden, Zawahiri, and many others repeat over and over again that this is their view. They are right. If they could ever take advantage of a significant period of chaos in either of those states, they could establish themselves anew and reverse the current disarray of their movement, probably very quickly. It took the Bolsheviks, after all, eight months to go from a position in which almost every Bolshevik leader was in jail or in exile to holding the seat of power in Russia with a mass following. Collapse and reorder can come very rapidly with a thoughtful, organized, and intellectually prepared revolutionary group.

And that is precisely what we face in al Qaeda. For too long, we have been transfixed with concerns about anti-Americanism within the Muslim community and the sense that this struggle is amorphous and difficult to comprehend. The truth is that anti-Americanism in any community is only dangerous if there is a group within that community that can organize and channel that sentiment into an intelligently conceived strategy. Destroying such groups is the highest priority, but it is extremely difficult. Preventing them from establishing themselves in power in a sovereign state comes next, and that is much more feasible, if still costly and difficult.

But Marxism did not fall, in the end, simply because of the collapse of Soviet power. It fell simultaneously with that collapse, as the majority of the ?communist? world decided that it was intellectually bankrupt and offered a less attractive vision of the future than its nemesis--democracy and capitalism. If we kill bin Laden, Zawahiri, or Zarqawi tomorrow, the doctrines of Qutb and his heirs will continue to offer the blueprint for similar revolutionary organizations in the future. We must recall that Zarqawi, Zawahiri, and bin Laden all developed their ideologies and even their movements independently of one another before merging. Real victory can only come by persuading the overwhelming majority of the Muslim people that this apocalyptic vision is unattractive.
Western insouciance and the incompetence of Russian liberals ensured that it took seven decades of horrible suffering and terrible danger to prove that point about Marxism. We are fortunate now to be able to contest this ideology much earlier in its developmental cycle. Establishing viable, peaceful, stable democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan should therefore be fully as central to our war on terror as the goal of establishing jihadist dictatorships in those countries is to the terrorists? war against us. The war in Iraq is not a distraction from the war on terror. It is, on the contrary, far and away the most important battle yet fought in that war, and a battle that the West dare not lose.

Frederick W. Kagan is a resident scholar at AEI. The author is grateful to Frank Sobchak for his invaluable help framing, understanding, and exploring this complex issue.


1. Sayyid Qutb, Milestones (Damascus: Dar al-Ilm, n.d.), 7. For a brief discussion of Qutb?s ideology, see also Ahmad Moussalli, Radical Islamic Fundamentalism: The Ideological and Political Discourse of Sayyid Qutb (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1992).

2. Sayyid Qutb, Milestones, 10.

3. Ibid., 12.

4. Ibid., 11?12.

5. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Knights under the Prophet?s Banner (2001), serialized in Al-Sharq al-Awsat, a London-based Saudi-owned daily newspaper.

6. Ibid., part III.

7. Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli, ??The Sheikh of the Slaughterers?: Abu Mus?ab Al-Zarqawi and the Al-Qa?ida Connection,? The Middle East Media Research Institute, Inquiry and Analysis Series  231 (July 1, 2005).

8. ?Text from Abu Mus?ab al-Zarqawi Letter,? released on February 12, 2004, available at  

9. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Knights under the Prophet?s Banner, section 12.

10. Zawahiri to Zarqawi, July 9, 2005 (released on October 11, 2005), available at
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« Reply #204 on: November 20, 2005, 03:37:25 PM »
This source is new to me so I can't vouch for it. With that said, the Marine's comments, quoted below, have a ring of truth.

Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler     
Thursday, 17 November 2005

In the Military Alphabet, AWR is Alpha Whiskey Romeo. In Iraq today, it?s a code term of American soldiers. Whenever they use ?AWR? or ?Alpha Whiskey Romeo? in their communications, everyone knows what it really stands for: Allah?s Waiting Room. That?s what our soldiers have turned Iraq into for the terrorists, and that?s why our soldiers know they are winning this war.

That?s also why our soldiers have more contempt for MSM journalists and Democrat politicians than the Jihadi terrorists ? for at least the terrorists are honest about being an enemy, instead of pretending they?re on your side while stabbing you in the back.

The Democrat distortion of the War in Iraq has become flat-out deranged. Yet for all the ?alternate media?s? attempts to tell the truth, Johnny and Suzie Lunchbucket still get most of their news through the MSM, which is why a majority of the Lunchbuckets, according to polls, believe ?Bush lied? to get us into the war, and that it is a war we are losing.

Both are lies, which any Democrat on Capitol Hill privy to basic intel reports knows, yet the Big Lie is a proven propaganda tool, and it?s working on the American public right now.

But not among our guys on the ground in Iraq. Let?s start with two basic ways they are winning.

First is snipers. Marine snipers. Navy SEAL snipers. Army Ranger snipers. There are lots and lots of them in Iraq, they are unbelievably good at their work, which they do quietly, efficiently, and all by themselves with no press coverage. They are taking out Jihadis one by one, a silent pop from nowhere and goodbye, all over Iraq.

One single Marine sniper currently on his third tour has personally racked up well over a hundred confirmed kills. The total number of Jihadis taken down by snipers is classified, but it?s certainly many thousands by now.

Second is the fifty battalions of Iraqi soldiers who are completing their training and will soon be loosed upon the Jihadis. These folks are fighting for their own country and will be ruthless in doing so. Couple this with the increasingly good intel from Iraqis on the street, Sunnis and Shias, who are cooperating with Coalition Forces and the emerging Iraqi military because they are totally fed up with the Jihadis.

As the evidence mounts that the Jihadis are losing in Iraq, the more desperate the Democrats? and the media?s attempts to suppress and deny the evidence.

So I thought I would provide you with some direct evidence of how things are really going in Mesopotamia. This is an unvarnished, personal SitRep ? situation report ? from a Marine who just spent seven months at ?Camp Blue Diamond? near Ramadi, Iraq, deep in Apache country.

We?ll call him Jay. What follows is notes taken by his father while at home on leave. It?s an assessment, negative and positive, of the tactics, weapons, equipment, and overall situation of both the good guys and the bad guys. It is both chilling and thrilling.

Particularly his ?Bottom Line? conclusion. The heroism of American soldiers like Jay makes an astounding contrast to the refusal of the American media to tell the truth about them. Jay has re-enlisted for another four years in the Marines and will be returning for a second tour in Iraq this coming January. He says he can hardly wait.


M-16 rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder sand. The sand is everywhere. You feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it's lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. Marines like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picatinny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. Everyone hates the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits can?t be reliably counted on to put the enemy down.

Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use.

M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. drum-fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of junk. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly ? real fun in the middle of a firefight.

M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but Marines hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

Mossberg 12ga. military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.

M240 machine gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt-fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60. Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts 'em down. Originally developed as a vehicle-mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure.

M2 .50 cal. heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. ?Ma deuce? is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts their dicks in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

.45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and love it. The old government model .45's are being re-issued en masse.

M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and welove the 7.62 round.

Barrett .50 cal. sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay.

M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in .300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700's. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. A Marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has now exceeded the famous record for confirmed kills (93 official, many more unofficial) of Long Trang (White Feather) himself, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock in Vietnam.


The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at about 6 lbs. and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as hell to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the media garbage about the ?old? body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IED's was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most cases.

Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We've all seen the videos.

Bad Guy Weapons

Mostly AK47?s. The entire country is an arsenal. The Kalashnikov works better in the desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt-fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots with undisciplined ?spray and pray? type fire. However, they are using more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles provided by Iran.

Fun fact: Captured enemy marvel at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.

RPG, rocket-propelled grenade launcher: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as AK?s. The enemy responded to our up-armored Humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range. Still killing a lot of our guys.

The IED, improvised explosive device: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jerry-rigged artillery shells. A lot found in Ramadi were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155mm artillery shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank.

Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do. Lately, there are much more sophisticated Iran-supplied ?shape charges? specifically designed to penetrate armor. Most of the ready made IED's are now supplied by Iran, which is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics.

That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges in styrofoam containers spray-painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.

Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The Soviet-era 122mm rockets (with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of my NCO?s lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage ?inside the wire? ofour bases. Mine in Ramadi was hit almost daily by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue (which it did). More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then scoot in a matter of seconds.

Bad guy technology: Most communication is by cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and ?Google Earth? for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is top of the line. Night vision is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of intel when captured.

Who Are The Bad Guys?

Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly ?foreigners,? non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadis from all over the Moslem world and Europe. Most enter Iraq through Syria with the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian government, and then travel down the ?rat line? which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that we've been hitting hard for the last few months.

Some are virtually untrained young Jihadis that often end up as suicide bombers or in ?sacrifice squads.? Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.) These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters, as they have been fighting the Russians for years.

In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local governments, police forces and military. The have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most of the Saddam ?Baathist? loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

Bad Guy Tactics

When they are engaged on an infantry level, they get their butts kicked every time. Brave but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing AK?s and RPG?s directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get mowed down like grass every time.

Our base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to all flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that?s the end of that. The building becomes another Alpha Whiskey Romeo, as we have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science.

The fast movers, mostly Marine F-18?s, are taking an ever-increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all.

The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to when engaged.

The terrorists have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi government. Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to influence people they can?t reach, such as local officials, clerics, and tribal leaders.

Bottom Line

The first thing we are told is ?don't get captured.? We know that if captured we will be tortured and beheaded on the Internet. Zarqawi openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise could care less about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi.

As such, for our guys, every fight is to the death. The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown. Surrender is not an option.

The Iraqi soldiers are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others are hopeless. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi?s use of suicide bombers against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake. Many Iraqis were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqis are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.

Morale among our guys is very high. We not only believe we are winning, but that we are winning decisively.

Our guys are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. We are inflicting casualties at a rate of 25-1 and then see garbage like ?Are we losing in Iraq?? on TV and the print media.

For the most part, our guys are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are not enough of us in Iraq to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just can?t stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally ? with, of course, permanent US bases there.

The ultimate bottom line is the enemy death toll. So far we have killed around 50,000. From all over the Moslem world, terrorists are coming to Iraq so we can kill them. That?s why we call it Allah?s Waiting Room.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 17 November 2005 )


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« Reply #205 on: November 21, 2005, 04:58:54 PM »
Iraq: The Battle in the Beltway
Editor's Note: We are resending today's Geopolitical Intelligence Report to correct an error that initially appeared in the first paragraph of the piece.

By George Friedman

With President George W. Bush's poll ratings still in the doldrums, the debate in Washington has become predictably rancorous. For their part, the Democrats continue to insist that Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq, despite the fact that Bill Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox in 1998 on the basis of similar intelligence. The Bush administration didn't manufacture evidence on WMD: If evidence was manufactured, it was manufactured during Clinton's administration -- and the Democrats know this. On the other hand, the Bush administration has slammed the Democrats' criticism of the war, with one congresswoman charging a Democratic congressman -- a congressman who served for 37 years in the Marine Corps and was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts while in Vietnam -- with cowardice for advocating a withdrawal. Republicans know better.

The current debate is making both sides look stupid. But lest we despair about the fate of the republic, it should be remembered that political debate in the United States has rarely been edifying and, during times of serious tension, has been downright incoherent. What is important about the current debate is not so much its content -- there is precious little of that -- as the fact that it serves as a barometer of the current situation in Washington as well as in Iraq. What the debate is telling us is that we have come to a defining moment in the war and in U.S. policy toward the war. That means that it is time to step back and try to define the root issues.

Intelligence Failures and Guerrilla War

Whatever the origin of the war -- and Stratfor readers are aware of our views on why the war was begun -- we can pinpoint the moment at which the Bush strategy first ran into trouble. In mid-April 2003, just a few weeks after the fall of Baghdad, guerrilla attacks in the form of small bombings began to take place. By May 2003, attacks were occurring daily. It started to become clear that a guerrilla war had been launched.

When people talk about intelligence failures, they inevitably speak about the WMD issue. That was trivial, however, compared to the failure of the U.S. intelligence community to discover that the Baathists had planned for continued warfare after the fall of Baghdad. Indeed, they did not even resist in Baghdad. Understanding that defeating the United States conventionally was impossible, they focused on mounting a guerrilla war after U.S. forces had occupied the country.

The guerrilla campaign was not spontaneous. It came together much too quickly and escalated far too efficiently for that to be the case. The guerrillas clearly had access to weapons caches, possessed a rudimentary command, control and communications system, and had worked out some baseline tactics. They were too widely dispersed in their operations to be simply a pick-up game. Somebody had set these things in place. That meant that someone should have detected the plans.

There were two reasons for this intelligence failure. First, detecting the kinds of preparations being made is not easy. The United States was heavily dependent on networks created by the Shiite leader Ahmed Chalabi, and the guerrillas were Sunnis. We suspect that the sourcing prior to the war blinded the United States to preparations being made in Sunni territory. Second, and more important, Washington had a predetermined concept about Iraq and Iraqi resistance, which many shared.

The United States had fought the Iraqis during Desert Storm, and emerged with a complete lack of respect for the Iraqi forces. Just as the Israelis had developed a concept of the capabilities of the Egyptian forces in the 1967 war -- a concept that proved to be disastrously incorrect by the 1973 war -- so the Americans had reached a set conclusion about Iraqi forces. Moreover, they had drawn political conclusions: Saddam Hussein's regime was unpopular and its fall would be greeted with emotions ranging from indifference to joy. Thus, the Americans focused on what they expected to be a conventional military campaign that would create a blank slate on which the United States could draw a new political map.

There was another side to this. The American experience in guerrilla warfare was fixed in Vietnam. The lesson of Vietnam was that the United States was defeated by two things: first, sanctuaries for the guerrillas that the United States could not attack -- including a complex logistical system, the Ho Chi Minh Trail -- and second, the terrain and vegetation of Vietnam, which prevented effective aerial reconnaissance and placed U.S. forces at a tactical disadvantage. Iraq's topography did not offer sanctuary or cover. Therefore, a full-scale insurgency would be impossible to mount.

The United States had failed to learn important lessons from the Israeli situation, in which guerrilla warfare -- incorporating wildly unconventional means such as suicide bombers -- was waged without benefit of sanctuary or clear supply lines. But more importantly, the Americans had failed to take into account that while Iraq could not field a large, effective conventional force, guerrilla warfare requires a much smaller number of troops. Moreover, they failed to consider that the behavior of forces defending Iraq's seizure of Kuwait during Desert Storm might be different than the behavior of forces resisting American occupation of Iraq proper.

Intelligence failures occur in every war, and this one was certainly much less significant than, for instance, the failure at Pearl Harbor. But this failure was conjoined with the administration's assumption that, given the character of the Iraqi soldier and the nature of Iraqi society, Iraqi resistance would not be sustained. That error, coupled with the intelligence failure, generated today's crisis. The problem is an intelligence failure overlaid by a misconception.

Insurgency and Inertia

If intelligence failures are a constant reality in war, the measure of a military force is how rapidly it recognizes that a failure has occurred and how quickly it adjusts strategy and tactics. In this case, the administration's concept about Iraq blocked the adjustment: The Bush administration's position, as pronounced by Donald Rumsfeld, was that the guerrillas did not constitute an organized force and that they were merely the "dead-enders" of the Baathist government. This remained the administration's position until July 2003.

That meant that for about three months, as the guerrillas gained increasing traction, there was no change in U.S. strategy or tactics. Strategically, Washington continued to view Iraq as a pacified country on which the United States could impose a political and social system, much as it did with Japan and Germany after World War II. This had a specific meaning: The Baathists had been the ruling party in Iraq; therefore, driving former Baathists out of public life, a process that mirrored what happened in Germany and Japan, was the strategy. Tactically, since there were no guerrillas -- only criminals and remnants of the former regime -- no military action had to be taken. U.S. forces remained in an essentially defensive posture against a trivial threat.

The decision to force the Baathists out of public life had two effects. First, it drove the Baathists closer to the guerrillas. They had nowhere else to go. Second, it stripped Iraq of what technocrats it had. After a generation of Baath rule, anyone with technical competence was a member of the Baath party. That meant that the United States had to bring in contractors to operate Iraq's infrastructure. But if we assume that the Baathists over time could be replaced by other Iraqis with sufficient training, then this was a rational policy.

The administration realized its error in June and July 2003. It replaced CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks earlier than scheduled with Gen. John Abizaid. The problem was that the insurrection, by then, had taken root. It is not clear that there was ever a point when the insurrection could have been stopped, but certainly, the three-month lag between the opening of the guerrilla war and the beginning of an American response had made it impossible to simply stop the insurrection.

At the same time, the insurrection had a basic weakness: It was not an Iraqi insurrection, but a Sunni insurrection. To underscore a point that most Americans seem unable to grasp, most of Iraq never rose against the Americans. The insurrection was confined to the Sunni regions and -- despite some attempts to expand it -- the Shia and Kurds were not only indifferent, but completely hostile, to the aspirations of the Sunnis. If the American Achilles' heel was its inability to force a military solution to the insurrection, the weakness of the Sunnis was their inability to broaden the base of the insurrection.

However, once it was established that the insurrection was under way, the American conception collapsed.

Reaction: Negotiations

First, the view of the Iraqis as essentially passive following the war gave way to a very different picture: The Sunnis were in rebellion, and the Shia were confidently preparing the way for a government they would dominate. Iraq was not Japan. It was not a canvas on which a contemporary MacArthur could overlay a regime. It was not even an entity that could be governed.

This led to the second shift. The United States could not unilaterally shape Iraq. The other side of this coin was that the United States had to make deals with a variety of Iraqi factions -- and this meant not only the Shia, Sunnis and Kurds, but also factions within each of these groups. Indeed, the United States had to deal not only with the Iraqi Shia, but also with the Iranians, who had real influence among them. The United States had to try to split that community -- which in turn meant dealing with former Baathist officials who were supporting the fight against the United States. In other words, the United States had to deal with its enemies.

When you don't win a war, you can end it only through negotiations, and those negotiations will take place with the people you are fighting -- your enemies. At the first battle of Al Fallujah, the Americans made their first public deal with the Baathists. Indeed, the American strategy turned into a political one: U.S. forces were fighting a holding battle with the guerrillas while negotiating intensely with a dizzying array of people that, prior to July 2003, the United States would have had arrested.

The American concept about Iraq is long gone. The failure to identify the intentions of the Baathists after the war is now history. But the essential problem remains in Washington's public posture:

1. The administration cannot admit what is self-evident: it does not have the ability, by itself, to break the back of the Sunni insurrection. To achieve this, the United States needs help from non-jihadist Sunnis -- Baathists -- as well as the Shia. U.S. troops cannot achieve the mission alone.

2. In order to get this help, the United States is going to have to make -- and is, in fact, making -- a variety of deals with players it would have regarded as enemies two years ago, and must make concessions that would seem to be unthinkable.

These negotiations are constant. The United States is doing everything it can to get former Baathists into the political process -- people who were close to Hussein. It is working intently with people like Ahmed Chalabi who were close -- some say very close -- to the Iranians. It is cutting deals left and right like a Chicago ward boss.

This is, of course, precisely what the United States must do. Its best chance at a reasonable outcome in Iraq is to split the Sunni community between jihadist and Baathist, and then use the Baathists to counterbalance the Shia -- without alienating the Shia. It takes the skill of an acrobat, and the fact is that Bush has not been too bad at it. The war itself has become a side show. U.S. troops are not in Iraq to win a war. They are there to represent U.S. will and to act as a counterweight in the political wheeling and dealing. War is politics by other means, so being shocked by this makes little sense. Still, the numbers of U.S. troops are irrelevant to the real issue. Doubling them wouldn't help, and cutting them in half wouldn't hurt. The time for a military solution is long past.

Battle in the Beltway

The problem with the hysteria in Washington is this: In all the negotiations, in all the promises, bribes and threats, the one currency that counts is the American ability to deliver. The ability to craft a deal depends on the ability of Bush to threaten various factions, and to make guarantees that can be delivered on. There is a pretty good chance that some sort of reasonable settlement can be achieved -- not ending all violence, but reducing it substantially -- if the United States has the credibility it needs to make the deals.

The problem the Bush administration has -- and it is a problem that dates back to the beginning of the war -- is its inability to articulate the reality. The United States is not staying the course. It has not been on course -- if by "course" you mean what was planned in February 2003 -- for two years. The course the United States has been on has been winding, shifting and surprising. The fact is that the administration has done a fairly good job of riding the whirlwind. But the course has shifted so many times that no one can stay it, because it disappeared long ago.

Having committed the fundamental error -- and that wasn't WMD -- the Administration has done a sufficiently good job that some sort of working government might well be created in Iraq in 2006, and U.S. forces will certainly be withdrawn. What threatens this outcome is the administration's singular inability to simply state the obvious. As a result, the Democrats -- doing what opposition parties do -- has made it appear that the Bush administration is the most stupid, inept and incompetent administration in history. And the administration has been reduced to calling its critics cowards.

The administration's position in Iraq is complex but not hopeless. Its greatest challenge is in Washington, where Bush's Republican base of support is collapsing. If it collapses, then all bets will be off in Iraq. Bush's challenge is to stabilize Washington. In fact, from his point of view, Baghdad is more stable than Washington right now. The situation inside the Beltway has now become a geopolitical problem. If Bush can't pull it together, the situation in Iraq will come apart. But to forge the stability he needs in Washington, the president will have to explain what he is doing in Iraq. And he is loath to admit, from his own mouth, that he is making deals with the enemy.


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« Reply #206 on: November 25, 2005, 07:53:48 PM »
A friend forwards this piece from the Economist with a comment:


The Economist likes the changes in Iraq and in the Middle East... but there
isn't a single mention that Americans had anything to do with causing those changes.  How fast things change. It seems, only a few weeks ago the only talk was about the "quagmire".

Arab world, Iraq and al-Qaeda
Unfamiliar questions in the Arab air
Nov 24th 2005 | CAIRO
From The Economist print edition

As al-Qaeda scores own-goals in its backyard, many Arabs, including some Iraqis, are beginning to rethink their position on violence in the name of resistance

OF ALL the films to extol the fight for freedom from imperialism, one of the most cheering to Arab hearts is the rousing 1981 epic, ?Lion of the Desert?. A richly bearded Anthony Quinn plays the role of Omar Mukhtar, the simple Koran teacher who became a guerrilla hero, and for 20 years, from 1911-31, harassed the Italian forces bent on subduing Libya. In one memorable scene his Bedouin warriors, armed only with old rifles, hobble their own feet to ensure martyrdom as Mussolini's tanks roll inexorably towards them.

Such imagery, mixed with big doses of schoolbook nationalism and more recent real-life pictures of stone-throwing children facing Israeli guns, has
bolstered a common Arab perception of ?resistance? as an act that is just
and noble. The romanticism is understandable, and not much different from how, say, the French view their own underground in the second world war. Yet the morphing in recent years of resistance into terrorism, and the confusion in Iraq, where a humiliating foreign occupation also brought liberation from Baathist tyranny, has increasingly called this iconography into question.

The undermining of entrenched myths is a slow and halting process. But it is subject to sudden, shattering jolts, such as the November 9th suicide
bombing of three hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman. In the minds of the killers, American-allied Jordan had become a rear base for the ?crusader? invaders of Iraq, and so its hotels, the sort of places where crusaders and their minions congregate, were legitimate targets for the resistance.

Yet it is perhaps more than incidentally ironic that among the 60 people
they killed was Mustapha Akkad, the Syrian-born director who created ?Lion of the Desert?. His film, glorifying the bravery of Muslim resistance fighters, happened to be one of the few productions explicitly endorsed on jihadist websites, albeit in a version that replaced the musical soundtrack with religious chants, and cut out all scenes showing women.

The global al-Qaeda franchise, whose Iraqi branch claimed responsibility for the Amman atrocity, has scored many own-goals over the years. The carnage in such Muslim cities as Istanbul, Casablanca, Sharm el-Sheikh and Riyadh has alienated the very Muslim masses the jihadists claim to be serving. By bringing home the human cost of such violence, they have even stripped away the shameful complacency with which the Sunni Muslim majority in other Arab countries has tended to regard attacks by Iraq's Sunni insurgent ?heroes? against ?collaborationist? Shia mosque congregations, funeral processions and police stations.

In Amman, al-Qaeda's victims included not only Mr Akkad and his daughter Rima, a mother of two, but also dozens of guests at a Palestinian wedding. The slaughter of so many innocents, nearly all of them Sunni Muslims, in the heart of a peaceful Arab capital, inspired a region-wide wave of revulsion. Far from being perceived now as a sort of Muslim Braveheart, the man who planned the attack, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, may be the most reviled person in Jordan, the country of his birth. His own tribe, which had previously taken some pride in its association with the Iraqi resistance, has publicly disowned him. Tens of thousands of Jordanians have taken to the streets of Amman to denounce terrorism. Opinion polls, which had previously shown Jordanians to be at best ambivalent about jihadist violence, now show overwhelming distaste for it (see tables).

Similar changes in attitude have overtaken other Arab societies. Some
150,000 Moroccans marched in Casablanca earlier this month to protest
against al-Qaeda's threat to kill two junior Moroccan diplomats kidnapped on the road to Baghdad. The execution by Mr Zarqawi's men of two Algerian diplomats and the Egyptian charg? d'affaires in Iraq earlier this year aroused similar indignation in their home countries. Two years of bloody jihadist attacks in Saudi Arabia have rudely shaken the once-considerable sympathy for radical Islamism in the conservative kingdom. A top Saudi security source reckons that 80% of the country's success in staunching violence is due to such shifts in public feeling, and only 20% to police work.

The enemies of life and joy

The direct impact of tragedy has not been the only impetus for change. Arab governments used to treat local terrorism as something that dented their prestige and should be covered up. Now they eagerly exploit the images of suffering to justify their policies. The way such events are reported in the press no longer hints at a reflexive blaming of external forces. The Arab commentariat, much of which had promoted sympathy with the Iraqi insurgency, and focused on perceived western hostility to Islam as the cause of global jihadism, has grown vocal in condemning violence. Jihad al-Khazen, the editor of al-Hayat, a highbrow Saudi daily, is a frequent and mordant critic of western policy. Yet his response to the Amman tragedy was an unequivocal call for global co-operation to combat what he blasted as the enemies of life, of joy, and of the light of day.

Popular culture, too, has begun to reflect such shifts in attitude.
Recently, during the peak television season of Ramadan, satellite channels watched by millions across the region broadcast several serials dramatising the human toll of jihadist violence. One of these contrasted the lives of ordinary Arab families, living in a housing compound in Riyadh, with a cartoonish view of the terrorists who eventually attack them. Another serial focused, with eerie foresight, on a group of jihadist assassins in Amman.  Their plot to murder a television producer who is critical of their methods goes awry, killing three children instead. Unusually for an Arabic-language serial, even the villains are presented as conflicted souls, alienated from society and misled by dreams of glory and heavenly reward.

Religious leaders have chipped in. Moderate Muslim clerics have grown
increasingly concerned at the abuse of religion to justify killing. In Saudi
Arabia, numerous preachers once famed for their fighting words now advise tolerance and restraint. Even so rigid a defender of suicide attacks against Israel (on the grounds that all of Israeli society is militarised) as Yusuf Qaradawi, the star preacher of the popular al-Jazeera satellite channel, denounces bombings elsewhere and calls on the perpetrators to repent.

In Jordan, Mr Zarqawi's former cell-mate and mentor, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, long a firebrand proponent of widening holy war, has publicly given warning that excesses in Iraq have ?defiled the image? of jihad. Another mentor, al-Qaeda's overall second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is believed to have written a letter of advice to Mr Zarqawi that suggests he should desist from such provocatively grisly acts as sawing off captives' heads when a simple bullet would do.

Noteworthy in all these subtle shifts is the fact that they are, by and
large, internally generated. Few of them have come about as a result of
prodding or policy initiatives from the West. On the contrary, the intrusion
of foreign armies into Iraq, the consequent ugly spectacle of civilian
casualties and torture, and the continuing agony of Palestine, have clearly
slowed down the Arab public's response to the dangers posed by jihadism.

Now, or so it seems, it is the cooling of the Palestinian intifada, a slight
lowering of the volume of imagery featuring ugly Americans in Iraq, and a
general weariness with jihadist hysteria that have allowed attention to
refocus on the costs, rather than the hoped-for rewards, of ?resistance?. At the same time, the rising tide of American domestic opposition to the war has begun to reassure deeply sceptical Arabs that the superpower may not, after all, be keen to linger on Arab soil for ever.

Is a shift in attitudes on the fabled Arab street important? The answer is,
very much so. It surely affects, for example, the scale of private funding
directed to the Iraqi insurgents. The volume of those very secret sums is
impossible to determine, though the enthusiasm among, say, rich and
conservative Sunni Saudis for thwarting both an infidel superpower and the perceived influence of Shia Iran in Iraq must be pretty strong. Even a
trickle of cash translates quite directly into damage. And if it can be
assumed that for each of the 700-2,000 foreign fighters in Iraq (the current estimate of the Brookings Institution), there are many others who prefer to play jihad with their cheque books, there has been much more than a trickle.

Governments follow the street

A more tangible measure of change is the behaviour of Arab states.
Undemocratic though they may be, shaky Arab governments in many cases owe their baseline legitimacy to their own historical record of perceived resistance to foreign hegemony. The deeply unpopular invasion of Iraq placed them in a quandary. Any gesture towards aiding the success of this ?American project? risked a fierce popular backlash. That equation has now altered, and the results are already evident.

The two Arab heavyweights, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have lately begun to lend their diplomatic clout to resolving Iraq's troubles. The sudden urgency to do something, after years of fence-sitting, is prompted by several fears. One of these, seemingly justified by the Amman bombing, is that Iraq has turned from being a sponge for jihadist violence into a fountainhead that threatens the region.

Another is that Iraq's Sunni minority, by backing the insurgents, has
isolated itself and paved the way for Iran, whose government is now in the hands of revolutionary Shia radicals, to expand its influence. Since the
Iraqi elections scheduled for December 15th will create, for the first time,
not an interim government but one with a four-year term, it has dawned on many fellow Sunni Arabs that Iraq's Sunnis must stake a role in their
country's future or face further marginalisation.

Egyptian and Saudi efforts bore first fruits at a conference held in Cairo
this week in a bid to reconcile Iraqi factions. The decisions reached were
neither binding nor dramatic, and the whole event was pitched as preliminary to a broader meeting to be held in three months' time. Even so, the gathering of some 100 politicians of different stripes marked a big step in the crucial process of coaxing Sunnis back into the political game. The hosting of the event by the Arab League, an organisation that had previously kept aloof from Iraq's troubles, encouraged groups such as the Muslim Scholars' Association, which contests the legitimacy of Iraq's
Shia-dominated government and has so far boycotted the political process, to join in. Although neither senior Baathists nor active leaders of the insurgency were present, several of the Sunni delegates are known to be close to these factions.

Military v political resistance

Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, who is a pro-American Kurd, set the tone
by saying that he would personally be happy to meet with active fighters in the resistance. Further gestures to appease the Sunnis came in the final
communiqu?, which asserted the right of ?all peoples? to resist occupation, and called for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
Significantly, these clauses had been watered down, after heated debate with Sunni leaders who initially insisted on a direct endorsement of resistance action ?against occupation forces?. The resolution also expressly declared that terrorism cannot be considered a form of resistance, and appeased Shia feelings further by rejecting the Sunni jihadists' contention that Shi'ism is a heretical sect.

Obviously, the vague wording over the key issue of ?resistance? is open to interpretation. Shia parties, such as the Islamist-oriented United Iraqi
Alliance, led by Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, have long
insisted that they are engaged in ?political resistance?; the fastest way to
end the occupation, they argue, is to achieve the security that will enable
the troops to leave.

For their part, pro-resistance Sunni parties contend that they, too, have
been subject to terrorism. They point to incidents such as the recent
exposure, by American forces, of a secret jail, run by the Shia-controlled
police, where hundreds of Sunni captives were mistreated. Attacks on foreign soldiers remain legitimate in their eyes. As for political resistance, a senior member of the Muslim Scholars' Association, Abd al-Salam al-Kubaisi, acidly remarked that its strongest proponents seem to be the American public, ?since they are calling daily for the troops to leave.?

Hardline insurgent leaders remain even more adamant. Baathist websites
denounce Iraq's government as ?spies and agents?. A statement from Mr
Zarqawi denounced the Cairo conference as an American ploy ?to make Sunni Muslims accept the dirty political game?. The only dialogue permissible, he said, was ?by the sword and seas of blood?.

Yet despite such verbal sparring and the vicious bloodletting on the ground, a degree of convergence can be detected. A huge majority of Iraqis want the occupation to end?some 82% according to a poll conducted by the British Ministry of Defence in August. The argument is over how to go about it. Most Iraqis also shun jihadist zeal, including many members of the broader Sunni resistance who feel that the radicals tarnish their cause. Despite deep mistrust of political institutions that have failed to provide security and a decent infrastructure, and despite the heightening of sectarian loyalty generated by two years of fear and chaos, the weary Iraqi public does not appear to have lost faith in the possibility of a political solution.

The two largest forces in the fragmented Sunni spectrum, the Iraqi Islamist Party and the Iraqi National Front, a more secular grouping that includes former Baathist officers, are actively rallying Sunnis to turn out to vote. Other Sunni politicians report a growing willingness among the non-jihadist groups, which make up the bulk of the insurgency, to consider a deal to wind down the fighting.

Moroccans, after their diplomats were seized in Baghdad, convey a new

Their main stated demands so far have been an immediate pullback of foreign troops from Iraqi cities and a timetable for full withdrawal. With even the Pentagon now hinting at plans to draw down troop levels significantly next year, and with Congress pushing for a phased withdrawal, such demands no longer look beyond possibility. Iraq's own, much-maligned security forces, meanwhile, are slowly getting fitter. Troop strength in the reconstituted army recently passed 100,000, nearing the targeted level of 135,000. The quiet re-enlistment of Baathist officers, who had been sacked wholesale early in the occupation, has also worked to restore a measure of Sunni confidence?though there are few Iraqi units where the insurgency is fiercest.

At the same time, subtle realignments are changing the shape of Shia
politics. The party of Muqtada al-Sadr, the young cleric whose fiery attacks on the occupation proved hugely popular with the urban poor, has joined the governing United Iraqi Alliance, a broad group dominated by two pro-Iranian Islamist parties. Meanwhile, prominent secularists have abandoned the alliance, leaving it a straightforward representative of activist Shia Islamism. Since many Iraqi Shias feel uncomfortable mixing religion and politics, and associate the alliance with the perceived weakness of the government, this might strengthen the nationalist centre.

Growing weary of war

The fact remains that Iraq is a nasty and dangerous place, where even a
widening commitment to political solutions may not prevent disintegration
into civil war. Recent revelations about police death-squads targeting
Sunnis, and the bombing of Shia mosques, have intensified sectarian
animosities. The vexed questions of federalism and how to share oil revenues remain to be settled. The secret objectives of Iran?whether it just wants to burn American fingers or to install a look-alike theocratic state?are unknown. The jihadists who have made Iraq their playground may have lost their wider appeal, but they are not going to disappear.

Yet there appears to be a growing consensus, within Iraq and outside, that the time has come to settle down and get on with life. A columnist in a Saudi daily, al-Sharq al-Awsat, Mashari Zaydi, suggests that Arabs have been torn by a struggle between two world-views, one hard, absolutist and aspirational, the other realist, compromising and practical. While the
realist approach, he says, may not win all you want, the absolutist one
risks losing everything you have.

Copyright ? 2005 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.


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« Reply #207 on: November 29, 2005, 10:57:53 PM »
Our Troops Must Stay

November 29, 2005; Page A18

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood -- unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.

Progress is visible and practical. In the Kurdish North, there is continuing security and growing prosperity. The primarily Shiite South remains largely free of terrorism, receives much more electric power and other public services than it did under Saddam, and is experiencing greater economic activity. The Sunni triangle, geographically defined by Baghdad to the east, Tikrit to the north and Ramadi to the west, is where most of the terrorist enemy attacks occur. And yet here, too, there is progress.

There are many more cars on the streets, satellite television dishes on the roofs, and literally millions more cell phones in Iraqi hands than before. All of that says the Iraqi economy is growing. And Sunni candidates are actively campaigning for seats in the National Assembly. People are working their way toward a functioning society and economy in the midst of a very brutal, inhumane, sustained terrorist war against the civilian population and the Iraqi and American military there to protect it.

It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.

* * *
Before going to Iraq last week, I visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel has been the only genuine democracy in the region, but it is now getting some welcome company from the Iraqis and Palestinians who are in the midst of robust national legislative election campaigns, the Lebanese who have risen up in proud self-determination after the Hariri assassination to eject their Syrian occupiers (the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hezbollah militias should be next), and the Kuwaitis, Egyptians and Saudis who have taken steps to open up their governments more broadly to their people. In my meeting with the thoughtful prime minister of Iraq, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, he declared with justifiable pride that his country now has the most open, democratic political system in the Arab world. He is right.

In the face of terrorist threats and escalating violence, eight million Iraqis voted for their interim national government in January, almost 10 million participated in the referendum on their new constitution in October, and even more than that are expected to vote in the elections for a full-term government on Dec. 15. Every time the 27 million Iraqis have been given the chance since Saddam was overthrown, they have voted for self-government and hope over the violence and hatred the 10,000 terrorists offer them. Most encouraging has been the behavior of the Sunni community, which, when disappointed by the proposed constitution, registered to vote and went to the polls instead of taking up arms and going to the streets. Last week, I was thrilled to see a vigorous political campaign, and a large number of independent television stations and newspapers covering it.

None of these remarkable changes would have happened without the coalition forces led by the U.S. And, I am convinced, almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country.

The leaders of Iraq's duly elected government understand this, and they asked me for reassurance about America's commitment. The question is whether the American people and enough of their representatives in Congress from both parties understand this. I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans who are more worried about whether the war will bring them down in next November's elections, than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead.

Here is an ironic finding I brought back from Iraq. While U.S. public opinion polls show serious declines in support for the war and increasing pessimism about how it will end, polls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today. What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.

The leaders of America's military and diplomatic forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey and Ambassador Zal Khalilzad, have a clear and compelling vision of our mission there. It is to create the environment in which Iraqi democracy, security and prosperity can take hold and the Iraqis themselves can defend their political progress against those 10,000 terrorists who would take it from them.

* * *
Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. And it is important to make it clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still but has changed over the years. Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground. The administration's recent use of the banner "clear, hold and build" accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.

We are now embedding a core of coalition forces in every Iraqi fighting unit, which makes each unit more effective and acts as a multiplier of our forces. Progress in "clearing" and "holding" is being made. The Sixth Infantry Division of the Iraqi Security Forces now controls and polices more than one-third of Baghdad on its own. Coalition and Iraqi forces have together cleared the previously terrorist-controlled cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Tal Afar, and most of the border with Syria. Those areas are now being "held" secure by the Iraqi military themselves. Iraqi and coalition forces are jointly carrying out a mission to clear Ramadi, now the most dangerous city in Al-Anbar province at the west end of the Sunni Triangle.

Nationwide, American military leaders estimate that about one-third of the approximately 100,000 members of the Iraqi military are able to "lead the fight" themselves with logistical support from the U.S., and that that number should double by next year. If that happens, American military forces could begin a drawdown in numbers proportional to the increasing self-sufficiency of the Iraqi forces in 2006. If all goes well, I believe we can have a much smaller American military presence there by the end of 2006 or in 2007, but it is also likely that our presence will need to be significant in Iraq or nearby for years to come.

The economic reconstruction of Iraq has gone slower than it should have, and too much money has been wasted or stolen. Ambassador Khalilzad is now implementing reform that has worked in Afghanistan -- Provincial Reconstruction Teams, composed of American economic and political experts, working in partnership in each of Iraq's 18 provinces with its elected leadership, civil service and the private sector. That is the "build" part of the "clear, hold and build" strategy, and so is the work American and international teams are doing to professionalize national and provincial governmental agencies in Iraq.

These are new ideas that are working and changing the reality on the ground, which is undoubtedly why the Iraqi people are optimistic about their future -- and why the American people should be, too.

* * *
I cannot say enough about the U.S. Army and Marines who are carrying most of the fight for us in Iraq. They are courageous, smart, effective, innovative, very honorable and very proud. After a Thanksgiving meal with a great group of Marines at Camp Fallujah in western Iraq, I asked their commander whether the morale of his troops had been hurt by the growing public dissent in America over the war in Iraq. His answer was insightful, instructive and inspirational: "I would guess that if the opposition and division at home go on a lot longer and get a lot deeper it might have some effect, but, Senator, my Marines are motivated by their devotion to each other and the cause, not by political debates."

Thank you, General. That is a powerful, needed message for the rest of America and its political leadership at this critical moment in our nation's history. Semper Fi.

Mr. Lieberman is a Democratic senator from Connecticut


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« Reply #208 on: December 01, 2005, 12:50:44 PM »
Geopolitical Diary: Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005

U.S. President George W. Bush made his speech. It was fascinating in two respects. On the surface, he held hard to the basic theme that he has stayed with for the past two years: that the primary path forward rests on a military solution to the insurgency. When looked at a bit deeper, it was a much more nuanced speech than he normally makes.

The main theme was that the primary solution to the American problem in Iraq is turning over responsibility for security and prosecution of the war against the insurgents to an Iraqi army. A good deal of the speech was devoted to a discussion of the process of training the Iraqi army and the lessons that have been learned in the process of doing so.

What was important here was the implication that the variable determining U.S. participation in Iraq is not the state of the insurgency, but the state of the Iraqi army. At one point he said that this war would not end with a ceremony on the deck of a battleship. In other words, there will not be a sudden, formal end to the war. He has therefore divided the war into two parts. The first is the phase in which the United States carried the primary responsibility of defeating the insurrection. The second phase would be the one in which the Iraqi army carries the primary burden. For the United States, the war could be reduced or ended prior to a complete defeat of the insurgents.

The more interesting dimension of the speech was his careful parsing of the insurgency. First, he identified the insurgency as Sunni. Then, he divided the insurgents into three groups:

1. Rejectionists: Those Sunnis who reject an Iraq in which they no longer hold a privileged position.

2. Saddamites: Those who want to return the dictatorship to power.

3. Terrorists: People around militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who are committed to continuing the struggle at all costs.

He went on to say that, "We're working with the Iraqis to help them engage those who can be persuaded to join the new Iraq -- and to marginalize those who never will." And that is the heart of the strategy.

What Bush said in this line is that it is the Iraqis themselves -- or more precisely, Shia and Kurds in the political process, as well as Sunnis -- who are already engaged in finding a political solution. Bush has named two groups that are beyond the pale (Saddamites -- you have to love that name -- and terrorists) and one group, the rejectionists, that is in play. Bush said he wants to isolate the insurgents by engaging those who will engage. That obviously means the rejectionists.

The rejectionists' requirements are purely political. This group is interested in its own role in Iraq, not in restoring Saddam Hussein or in supporting foreign jihadists. If its members can be induced to stop fighting and isolate the other two groups, some sort of stability can be achieved. This requires a political process. Note that Bush said that the Iraqis would carry out the political process with U.S. assistance. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said that he was going to engage in negotiations with them himself, as well as with the Iranians. If what Bush said is taken seriously, that means that the United States, in negotiating on behalf of and in support of the Iraqi government, is doing so from the Shiite platform. In other words, the rejectionists are being threatened with their worst nightmare -- complete marginalization under Shiite rule.

If this appears to be reading much into the speech, it may be. But if we assume that Khalilzad did not make his statements earlier in the week without authorization -- and he certainly did not -- then this speech has to be read in the context of Khalilzad's statements. And the only way that makes sense is to read Bush's analysis of the insurgency as a broad blueprint of the negotiating terrain.

Interestingly, he did not mention negotiations. He seemed to be speaking purely in military terms. Yet, at a crucial point, he drew a complex map of the enemy, and located the group that would be engaged and on whose behalf this would happen. In other words, Bush confirmed Khalilzad's statement without even slightly seeming to change U.S. strategy.

But by mid-week we know this: The United States no longer expects to suppress the insurgency by itself, but expects to transfer responsibility to an Iraqi -- read Shiite and Kurdish -- force. It does not intend to isolate the insurgents, but to engage and divide them. And that means that a purely military strategy will now be supplemented by negotiations. Bush never once mentioned Khalilzad. He never once said anything that undermined his position.

But so much for our dubious sources. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was right there, being praised again.


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Jihad for Beginners
« Reply #209 on: December 04, 2005, 12:06:48 PM »
An interesting primary source. Note how the recruit in question made transit from Afghanistan to Iran to Iraq.

Saudi TV: New weapon against extremism
Monday 05 December 2005

Saudi state-run Channel One TV broadcasted the first episode of a new series aimed at dissuading young Saudis from following in the footsteps of many of their contemporaries to join the jihad (holy war) earlier this week. ?Jihad Experiences, the Deceit? is a five part series which will tell the stories of several young Saudis who left to Iraq to fight alongside Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

Zayd Asfan, Abdullah Khoja and Walid Khan narrated their journey from ordinary Saudi youth to mujahideen and discussed the recruitment and brainwashing techniques used by al Qaeda.
At the end of the program, Channel One also broadcast a talk show on the subject of terrorism and recruitment featuring experts in the studio.

Each former militant discussed the religious, social and psychological motives behind their transformation. The men examined their intellectual, social and psychological condition before embracing extreme ideologies, the impact of irrational emotions, the lack of knowledge of Islamic Shariaa (law) and the consequences of extremist ideologies on the individual, his family and society. They also spoke of the positive role the environment (family, peers and the public) can play in restricting the flow of extremist ideas and thoughts. In addition, the men discussed the role of social institutions in facing-off to militant ideologies and the plans to contain returning fighters as well as the particular personality traits and psychological mechanisms which are used to persuade young men.

Walid Khan spoke first and told the viewers how he was introduced to extremism, emphasizing that young men like him were driven by factors outside of religion such as psychological pressure and the desire to rebel. For example, Walid said he did not believe in the principle of takfir (judging other Muslims as infidel). Instead, he sought answers to the numerous questions that crowded his thoughts. He was told, ?Embark on jihad and you will obtain all the answers.? The problem, as he put it was, ?You never get any answers through jihad.?

For his part, Koja recounted how a meeting with an Islamist militant from Afghanistan changed his life. ?I heard that an Uzbek mujahideen leader in Afghanistan, Taher Jan was in the city of Taif where I was working. I wanted to meet him very much and was lucky to be able to. I shared with him my desire to join the mujahideen in Afghanistan or any other part of the world where true jihad for the sake of Allah was being waged. He replied that I may not be able to tolerate the life of a mujahid in Afghanistan given the comfortable standard of living in Saudi Arabia. I assured him I will be patient.?

Walid also remembered how unfamiliar he was with ideological discussions on takfir before joining the extremists. ?Afterwards, when I found myself in direct contact with people who believe in takfir and spoke constantly about it, I began listening to their arguments. When asked why takfir, they would answer with religious evidence we were unable to counter. This is how we complied.? In the beginning, Walid added, ?I was motivated primarily by enthusiasm. My brother had told me of a friend who became a mujahid. I wondered how someone could leave everything behind. I thought his motives must have been very strong. I then read religious fatwas (edicts) and texts and rousing poems. My eagerness motivated me.?

The recruitment was not complete until the men received military training and learned how to handle explosives and a range of weapons. Ziad Asfan told the viewers of his return to Afghanistan after an initial visit. This time, ?I joined a number of training camps. The first was al Siddiq camp where, for two weeks, I was taught how to use light weapons. As you probably know, the camp resembled other training grounds in that we listened to religious songs and fiery sermons that exposed Christian and Jewish conspiracies against the land of Islam and our biggest grievance, Palestine.?

For his part, Koja described how he crossed the border into Afghanistan on foot. ?I was dressed as an Afghan since we were keen to conceal our Arab identity. I asked about the camp and what would happen next. I was told to remain in the camp and follow training. I was also told to be patient and not ask many questions.?
Khan provided additional detail on his illegal journey. ?At night, we arrived at a small Iranian village called Sanandaj. We took a taxi to the village of Dezli on the Iran-Iraq border. We had an appointment at midnight with a man who was going to smuggle us into Iraq. Of course, this was a totally new experience to men. I was used to a peaceful and ordinary life that revolved around my family and university. I was afraid. We were received in Iraq by a member of Ansar al Islam. He took us to Khormana where we stayed for a long time in a totally alien environment.?

Discussing relations between new recruits, Khoja revealed, ?Young mujahideen were constantly suspicious. I met a young man I felt very comfortable with. I asked which city he came from and who he knew. He was very reluctant to answer. I was always told not to ask too many questions and focus on my own affairs. The explanation given was that militants were afraid of spies.?

Patience, Asfan indicated, was necessary at every undertaking. ?We were told to be patient. I heard this when climbing a mountain, walking in valleys and training. They told us your pure intentions will help prepare the men who will form the core of the Islamic state and the army which will march from Kabul to Palestine.?

Not all extremists were absorbed in ideology or focused on military training, according to Khan. ?There are many simple people amongst the ranks. They know nothing about [Osama] bin Laden or the Taliban. Their sole task is to keep guard. These laymen have no vision or goal.?

Fighters loyal to al Qaeda came from around the world. Khoja told the viewers how he met ?several Arab and non-Arab fighters, from Daghestan, France, Britain, Germany, and the U.S.A? all Muslims. I loved them all. I stayed with Pakistanis, Africans and Indonesians.?
The majority of Arab fighters ?were Jordanian followers of [Abu Musab] al Zarqawi. Originally, all of them had sworn allegiance to Sheikh Mohammad al Maqdisi and followers of Bayat al Imam in Jordan. In 1995 they were sentenced for 15 years in prison but were released five years later under a general amnesty. After their release, they traveled to Afghanistan where their ideas took shape. Of course, they believed that all Arab governments, armies and police were infidels.?
Islamist militants however were not a monolithic bloc. ?I understood that there were a number of disputes between them and bin Laden?s followers; they agreed on some issues and differed on others. We didn?t realize these intricate details until much later.?

?As soon as al Zarqawi and his followers arrived at the camp, the mood changed. Some mujahideen opposed al Zarqawi but they lacked funds and were willing to do anything for money. At that point, anyone with the required resources could have controlled the camp. Al Zarqawi joined us when the group was considering a truce with the Taliban. He appointed a close follower, Abu Mohammad to supervise us and sent half a million dollars five months later. The group now owed everything to al Zarqawi. He became the dominant figure and was able to impose his perspective. In order to control a group of mujahideen, all you need to do is become its main financier.?

Discussing extremist ideologies and recalling their indoctrination, the three men spoke in turn with Khoja explaining his unease at some of the notions he was being taught.
?One day, a Yemeni told me, ?God willing, we will conquer Riyadh?. I asked him why he regarded Riyadh as an enemy city when our brothers and sisters lived there. He said I didn?t know what I was talking about. Another Algerian brother also expressed similar reckless views. I was very saddened by what I heard and shared my concerns with the camp leader who was from Eritrea. This was at [al Qaeda?s] Khalden camp in Afghanistan.?

?Egyptians, Algerians, Tunisians, Libyans, Moroccans, Saudis, Yemenis, Chechens all stayed in the same camp along side men from Daghestan and The Netherlands. I remember Abu Khaled who was French of African descent. He spoke in classical Arabic. They all disagreed with the majority of Saudi and Muslim scholars and insulted them?, he added.

Asfan was more analytical in his intervention. ?They tried to convince us that the victory of Islam would not happen unless governments collapsed. They believed current regimes protected the Jews and Christians. They would always say that God had revealed a certain state was the most evil and dangerous.? Khan confirmed this religious and intellectual muddling and added, ?Almost 90% of the men I met in training camps questioned the authority of the Grand Mufti and other Islamic scholars.?

Khoja concurs. ?I used to tell others about Abu Bakr al Jezairi, a prominent sheikh from Medina. They attacked him as a scholar ?sitting under the air-conditioning unit? and said he never cared much about the fate of the ummah (Islamic state). I was really shocked when I heard this and similar opinions when I quoted Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Baz and Sheikh Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen. To my utter dismay, I was told neither scholar had waged jihad and were unaware of the state of the ummah. At the time, my knowledge was weak and I was overwhelmed by their claims.?

Commenting on the military training they received in Afghanistan, Asfan indicated that other militants ?always urged us to be patient. They always drew an analogy with how Arab armies prepare before going to war and force their soldiers to be patient. Because our cause was nobler, we had to be even more cautious!?

Khan interjected and revealed how militant groups recruited new gullible men. ?You would come to them with many unanswered questions and they would respond to you and attract you to their ways. The problem lies in that their ideology is solely about rebelling against government.?


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« Reply #210 on: December 07, 2005, 09:40:49 AM »
Military Lessons Learned in Iraq and Strategic Implications
By George Friedman

Among the things that emerge from every war, won or lost, are "lessons learned." Each war teaches the military on both sides strategic, operational, tactical and technical lessons that apply in future wars. Many of these lessons are useful. Some can be devastating. The old adage that "generals are always fighting the last war" derives from the failure to learn appropriate lessons or the failure to apply lessons properly. For example, the lessons learned from the First World War, applied to the Second, led to the Maginot Line. They also led to the blitzkrieg. "Lessons learned" cuts both ways.

Sometimes lessons must be learned in the middle of a war. During World War II, for example, the United States learned and applied lessons concerning the use of aircraft carriers, the proper employment of armor and the execution of amphibious operations. The Germans, when put on the defensive, did not rapidly learn the lessons of defensive warfare on a strategic level. The Allies won. The Germans lost. There were certainly other factors at work in that war, but the speed at which lessons are assimilated and applied is a critical factor in determining the outcomes of wars. It has been said that success in war is rooted in the element of surprise; it follows that overcoming surprise is the corollary of this principle.

Lessons are learned and applied most quickly at the tactical level. Squads, platoons and companies, which are most closely in contact with the enemy and have the most immediate thing at stake -- their very lives -- tend to learn and adapt the most quickly. One measure of morale is the speed at which troops in contact with the enemy learn and change. One measure of command flexibility is the extent to which these changes are incorporated into doctrine. In addition, a measure of command effectiveness is the speed at which the operational and strategic lessons are learned and implemented. It usually takes longer for generals to understand what they are doing than it does sergeants. But in the end, the sergeants cannot compensate for the generals, or the politicians.

In the Iraq war, both sides have experienced pleasant and unpleasant surprises. For instance, the Americans were pleasantly surprised when their worst-case scenario did not materialize: The Iraqi army did not attempt to make a stand in Baghdad, forcing the U.S. military into urban attritional warfare. And the Iraqi insurgents were pleasantly surprised at the length of time it took the Americans to realize that they were facing guerrilla warfare, and the resulting slowness with which the U.S. military responded to the attacks.

On the other hand, the Americans were surprised by the tenacity of the insurgency -- both the guerrillas' ability to absorb casualties and the diffusion of their command structure, which provided autonomy to small units yet at the same time gave the guerrillas the ability to surge attacks at politically sensitive points. And the insurgents had to have been surprised by the rapid tactical learning curve that took place on the U.S. side, imposing a high cost on guerrilla operations, as well as the political acumen that allowed the Americans and others to contain the insurgency to the Sunni regions.

In a strategic sense, the Iraqi insurgents had the simpler battle problem. Insurgency has fewer options. An insurgency must:

1. Maintain relations with a host population that permits for regrouping, recruitment and re-supply. While this can be coerced, the primary problem is political, in the need to align the insurgency with the interests of local leaders.

2. Deny intelligence to the enemy by using the general population to camouflage its operations -- thus forcing the enemy to mount operations that simultaneously fail to make contact with insurgents and also alienate the general populace. Alternatively, if the enemy refuses to attack the population, this must be used to improve the insurgents' security position.

3. Use the target-rich environment of enemy deployments and administrative centers to execute unpredictable attacks, thereby increasing the enemy's insecurity and striking at his morale.

The guerrillas' purpose is to engender a sense of psychological helplessness in their conventional enemy, with the goal of forcing that enemy to abandon the fight or else to engage in negotiations as a means of defense.

The guerrilla does not have to win militarily. His goal is not to lose. The essence of asymmetric warfare is not merely the different means used to fight the war, but the different interests in waging the war. In Vietnam, the fundamental difference between the two sides was this: The North Vietnamese had a transcendent interest in the outcome of the war -- nothing mattered more than winning -- whereas for the Americans, Vietnam was simply one interest among a range of interests; it was not of transcendent importance. Thus, the North Vietnamese could lose more forces without losing their psychological balance. The Americans, faced with much lower losses but a greater sense of helplessness and uncertainty, sought an exit from a war that the North Vietnamese had neither an interest nor a means of exiting.

Now, Vietnam was more of a conventional war than people think. The first principle of insurgency -- drawing sustenance and cover from a local population -- was a major factor before the intervention of main-line North Vietnamese units. After that, these units relied more on the Ho Chi Minh Trail than on the local populace for supplies, and on terrain and vegetation more than on the public for cover. It was at times less a guerrilla war than a conventional war waged on discontinuous fronts. Nevertheless, the principle of asymmetric interest still governed absolutely: The North Vietnamese were prepared to pay a higher price than the Americans in waging the war, since they had greater interests at stake.

The United States fought a counterinsurgency in Vietnam. It should have tried to reformulate the conflict as a conventional war. First, the Ho Chi Minh Trail was the strategic center of gravity of the war, and cutting that line would have been a conventional move. Second, operating in a counterinsurgency mode almost guaranteed defeat. Some have argued that the U.S. difficulty with counterinsurgency warfare is its unwillingness to be utterly ruthless. That is not a tenable explanation. Neither the Nazis nor the Soviets could be faulted with insufficient ruthlessness; nevertheless, the Yugoslav Partisan detachments drained the Nazis throughout their occupation, and the Afghan guerrillas did the same to the Soviets. Counterinsurgency warfare is strategically and tactically difficult.

The problem for occupying forces is that -- unlike the insurgents, who merely must not lose -- the counterinsurgents must win. And because of asymmetric interests, time is never on their side. The single most important strategic error the Americans made in Vietnam was in assuming that since they could not be defeated militarily, they might not win the war, but it was impossible that they could lose it. They failed to understand the principle of asymmetry: Unless the United States won the war in a reasonable period of time, continuing to wage the war would become irrational. Time is on the side of guerrillas who have a sustainable force.

The United States did not expect a guerrilla war in Iraq. It was not part of the war plan. When the guerrilla war began, it took U.S. leaders months to understand what was happening. When they did understand what was happening, they assumed that time was at the very least a neutral issue. Having launched the war in the context of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Americans assumed that they had interests in Iraq that were as great as those of the insurgents.

But as in other guerrilla wars, the occupying power has shown itself to have less interest in occupying the country than the resistance has in resisting. It is not the absolute cost in casualties, but rather the perception of helplessness and frustration the insurgent creates, that eats away at both the occupying force and the public of the occupying country. By not losing -- by demonstrating that he will survive intense counterinsurgency operations without his offensive capabilities being diminished -- the insurgent forces the occupier to consider the war in the context of broader strategic interests.

One of two things happens here: The occupier can launch more intense military operations, further alienating the general populace while increasing cover for the insurgents -- or, alternatively, attempt to create a native force to wage the war. "Vietnamization" was an attempt by the United States to shift the burden of the war to the Vietnamese, under the assumption that defeating the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong was more in the interests of the South Vietnamese than in the interests of the Americans. In Iraq, the Americans are training the Iraqi army.

The U.S. option in Vietnam was to impose a conventional model of warfare -- much as the United States did in Korea, when it ignored the guerrillas and forced the war into a battle of conventional forces. It is even more difficult to impose a conventional war in Iraq than it might have been in Vietnam under an alternative American strategy. Here, attacking the insurgents' line of supply is a tenuous strategy -- not because the line does not exist, but because the dependency on it is less. The insurgents in Iraq operate at lower levels of intensity than did the Vietnamese. The ratio of supplies they need to bring into their battle box, relative to the supplies they can procure within their battle box, is low. They can live off the Sunni community for extended periods of time. They can survive -- and therefore, in the classic formulation, win -- even if lines of supply are cut.

The Sunni guerrillas in Iraq have all of the classic advantages that apply to insurgency, save one: There are indigenous forces in Iraq that are prepared to move against them and that can be effective. The Shiite and Kurdish forces are relatively well-trained (in the Iraqi context) and are highly motivated. They are not occupiers of Iraq, but co-inhabitants. Unlike the Americans, they are not going anywhere. They have as much stake in the outcome of the war and the future of their country as the guerrillas. That changes the equation radically.

All wars end either in the annihilation of the enemy force or in a negotiated settlement. World War II was a case of annihilation. Most other wars are negotiated. For the United States, Vietnam was a defeat under cover of negotiation. That is usually the case where insurgencies are waged: By the time the occupation force moves to negotiations, it is too late. Iraq has this difference, and it is massive: Other parties are present who are capable and motivated -- parties other than the main adversaries.

The logic here, therefore, runs to a negotiated settlement. The Bush administration has stated that these negotiations are under way. The key to the negotiations is the threat of civil war -- the potential that the Shia, the main component of a native Iraqi force, will crush the minority Sunnis. There is more to this, of course: The very perception of this possibility has driven a number of Sunnis to cooperate in efforts to put down the insurgency, looking to secure their future in a post-occupation Iraq. But it is the volatility of relations between the ethnic groups underlying the negotiations that can shift the outcome in this case for the United States.

All war is political in nature. It is shaped by politics and has a political end. In World War II, the nature of the combatants and the rapid learning curve of the Allies allowed for a rare victory, in which the outcome was the absolute capitulation of the enemy. In Vietnam, the nature of the war and the failure of the American side to learn and evolve strategy led to a political process that culminated in North Vietnam achieving its political goals. In Iraq, the question is whether, given the combatants, the complete defeat of either side appears likely. Even if the United States withdraws, a civil war could continue. Therefore, the issue is whether the conflict has matured sufficiently to permit a political resolution that is acceptable to both sides. As each learns the capabilities of the other and assimilates their own lessons of the war, we suspect that a political settlement will be the most likely outcome.


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« Reply #211 on: December 08, 2005, 10:11:56 PM »
Al Qaeda: Targeting Guidance and Timing
December 09, 2005 01 25  GMT

By Fred Burton

Previously unpublicized segments of an al Qaeda videotape made in September hit the news media early Dec. 7, when the tape (featuring Ayman al-Zawahiri) was posted in its entirety on a jihadist Web site. The statements being aired struck an industrial nerve center: For the first time, a senior al Qaeda leader was heard to be calling specifically -- and offering ideological justification -- for strikes against energy infrastructure in the Persian Gulf region. Because the region's oil wealth is considered to be the patrimony of the Muslim world, it long has been believed that attacks of this sort would be anathema to al Qaeda and its long-term political goals in the region. The group's leaders, including Osama bin Laden, have made remarks about the need to halt the theft of Muslim oil many times in the past, but no one of al-Zawahiri's stature before has been known to discuss so directly the value of striking at energy targets in the Middle East.

The rationale for doing so is clear enough. As al-Zawahiri says in the tape: "I call on mujahideen to concentrate their attacks on Muslims' stolen oil, from which most of the revenues go to the enemies of Islam, while most of what they leave is seized by the thieves who rule our countries."

It is important to note the audience for this statement: Al-Zawahiri is not issuing a warning to the oil industry or the West, but rather is giving targeting guidance to al Qaeda's supporters in the Middle East. In other portions of the 40-minute videotape, he emphasizes that bin Laden is alive and continues to lead the jihadist war, claims credit in al Qaeda's name for the July 7 train bombings in London and rails against Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. It is, if you will, a motivational speech al-Zawahiri is making -- but the strategy he espouses is one with inherent risks.

Considering that oil is viewed by al Qaeda as the blessing of Allah upon Arabs and Muslims, the jihadist leadership does not seem to be in any danger of committing ideological cannibalism, provided attacks are staged in a way that cripples export infrastructure and the economies of specific countries -- rather than, for example, setting fire to oil wells -- since the oil would remain in Muslim hands under the strategy being urged. Al-Zawahiri's statement plays on long-standing divisions within the Arab world, where those from non-oil states might refer to the wealthy Gulf countries (and their frequently well-off citizens) as "Khaleejis" -- a word that technically means "from the Gulf" but has come to connote, in common slang, something more along the lines of "rich, lazy and spoiled." And any attacks that cause instability in countries with hated regimes, like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, are in al Qaeda's interest.

The problem is that, if there should be follow-through, the effects of such strikes might not be easily contained. Poor Arab countries like Yemen and Jordan could feel the pinch long before the United States did -- and while that still might bring about the sought-after political instability, it also could hurt al Qaeda's standing among the masses, as other attacks waged on Arab soil have before. That is no small consideration; al-Zawahiri himself has urged other leaders, notably Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, to avoid operations that would needlessly alienate other members of the ummah (such as the Shia). Clearly, the leadership is well aware of the risks involved -- but given the way al-Zawahiri's statement came to light this week, it seems equally clear that al Qaeda places a great deal of emphasis on ensuring this guidance is heard and heeded.

The issue of how the statements came to light made news itself, since initial reports from wire services and broadcast agencies on Dec. 6 mistakenly said the al Qaeda tape was new. It was, in fact, recorded and released in mid-September, marking the fourth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. Arab satellite television broadcaster Al Jazeera was the first to receive the tape, and aired segments of it on Sept. 19. But it was not until another Web site, one known to be used by Islamist militants, made the video available Dec. 7 that the targeting guidance -- among the final statements made in the 40-minute recording -- was picked up by world media (including, in a circular fashion, Al Jazeera).

In explaining the discrepancy, Al Jazeera said it had aired all the portions of the tape the editorial staff believed to be significant upon its receipt in September -- having judged statements about the oil sector "not newsworthy" at the time. Though perfectly logical, this explanation raises more questions than answers. For one thing, the video was released shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck in the United States and world attention was focused on record-high energy prices -- something that would tend to raise the news value of any threats to Persian Gulf oil assets. Moreover, Al Jazeera is known worldwide as the primary distribution point for key al Qaeda statements; we would not expect any statements made in a videotape of this sort to be considered lightly. That said, of course, the news media are peopled with humans, and human error -- a lapse of news judgment or an editorial oversight -- is always a possibility.

Another explanation is that Al Jazeera's editorial decision-makers indeed were aware of the call to action but chose not to broadcast it, having weighed several issues of which news value is merely one. Several factors, including ethics and politics, play into the editorial process.

It must be remembered that the Qatar-based satellite channel's privileged source-media relationship with al Qaeda has given Al Jazeera considerable cachet in the media industry. It also has made Al Jazeera an object of interest for intelligence agencies hoping to trace the locations of al Qaeda leaders or gather forensic evidence, such as fingerprints, from the tapes themselves. And it has brought considerable political pressure to bear on some editorial decisions, such as whether to broadcast graphic footage of beheadings and other material that -- in addition to being newsworthy -- was viewed as fueling the risks of violence to Westerners or otherwise aiding al Qaeda's cause. At each juncture, there were ethical issues at stake and nuanced business decisions to be made.

But while it is one thing to air sensational footage of violence that already has been carried out against foreigners or to broadcast statements warning of possible attacks abroad, it can be quite another to carry the rallying cry that urges attacks against the economic backbone of one's own country, region or primary commercial market. For an editorial decision-maker serving a certain geographic market, the political and economic consequences could make this a very different decision indeed.

Whatever led to it, the situation at the end of the day is this: Al Jazeera had an opportunity to air al-Zawahiri's targeting guidance in September, and did not -- nor was the message made widely known through other venues. An alternative Web site believed to be used by Islamist militant groups -- which could thus be surmised to have links to al Qaeda and access to its materials -- brought matters to a head after a significant time lag. The targeting call then was covered almost as a matter of routine by other media outlets in response, and oil markets spasmed predictably.

In the classic whodunit sense, it seems that someone was keenly interested in making sure the targeting guidance was distributed -- and the list of suspects is extremely short. Since Al Jazeera did not oblige by broadcasting the statement initially, al Qaeda chose another outlet -- and possibly the timing of the release as well. The key question is why.

It has been noted that the scare to the oil markets came only days before an OPEC meeting, scheduled to take place Dec. 12 -- enough time for cartel members to consider the threat and adjust production strategies accordingly. Al Qaeda is well aware of the economic repercussions of its statements and actions, and oil prices recently have dropped again. Making sure the threats were made public at this juncture -- when cold weather and heating fuel are also concerns for Western buyers -- theoretically would be one way of reinflating prices and thus harming al Qaeda's main enemies.

Upon closer examination, however, there are deeper implications to al-Zawahiri's exhortations.

Al Qaeda in the past has made only vague references to striking at oil infrastructure; with al-Zawahiri's statements, that changed. There have been indications that al Qaeda is in financial difficulties -- to the point that the leadership might be having to divert funds from some areas to sustain key operations in others. Historically, the bulk of al Qaeda's funding is believed to have come from Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The financial downturn could be the result of donor fatigue or other factors; however, not striking at oil infrastructure in the region has been a way of protecting major donors' interests.

Thus, the shift in al Qaeda's rhetoric -- which has been hinted for some time but takes on an emphatic note when clearly stated by a top strategist -- might be a way to either punish former donors for their laxity, or otherwise achieve significant goals. It is in the areas where financial support for the group has been greatest that ideological sympathies also tend to run quite high -- even from those without the means to contribute funds -- so al-Zawahiri in essence could be calling on core supporters to "act locally" under the operational guidance.

And this underscores yet another significant implication: If al Qaeda's leadership knows it retains a serious ability to strike within the United States or other Western countries, logic dictates that it would marshal those forces and draw attention to key targets in those places. With the Sept. 11 attacks, al Qaeda took its war against "crusaders" into the enemy camp -- a strategy intended to demonstrate its strength and build support and morale among the oppressed Muslim masses. Ordering strikes against the patrimony of the Muslim world -- even as a way of crippling the West and wounding the "apostate" regimes that al Qaeda opposes in the Middle East -- is doing almost the exact opposite, and is so controversial that even sympathizers might be expected to balk.

In all likelihood, that is why al Qaeda statements have only hit around the edges of this issue up to this point. The guidance is tactically efficient, in the sense that it is viable guidance concerning a region where both high-value targets and al Qaeda supporters are numerous -- but strategically and politically, this is an option of last resort.


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« Reply #212 on: December 20, 2005, 10:39:02 PM »
The Iraqi Election's Effects, from Washington to Tehran
Note: The Geopolitical Intelligence Report will resume Jan. 3.

By George Friedman

Let's begin with two facts. First, the Iraqi elections were held Dec. 15. That is the important news: They were held. The Sunni population, along with Shia and Kurds, participated. Second, U.S. President George W. Bush did not break below 37 percent popularity. In fact, he bounced to about 47 percent.

The first fact indicates that the Iraqi situation did not collapse into utter chaos. The second fact indicates that the Bush presidency did not collapse into impotence. These two facts are obviously connected. They do not end the story by any means, but they do open a new chapter.

In September and October, as Bush sank below 40 percent in the polls, we argued that he was reaching a critical point: As presidents fall below about 35-37 percent, they start losing their core constituency -- an event from which recovery is extremely difficult. Bush's presidency was at its red line. We also argued that the crisis' cause was not just Hurricane Katrina -- although it certainly hurt -- but also that Bush couldn't seem to pull the situation together in Iraq. But even though Bush's political base shuddered, it did not break. And that bought him time to see Iraq develop a sense of order with the Dec. 15 election.

Looked at in reverse, if Bush had been flattened completely by plummeting popularity figures, pulling things together Dec. 15 would have been impossible. The Sunnis were looking to Washington to guarantee their interests as they entered the political process. If Bush had collapsed completely, those guarantees would have been of little value, and the Sunnis might well have pursued a different course. However, Bush did not collapse, and the Sunnis entered the political process. Thus the two political processes became intimately bound up together.

The Baathist and traditional Sunni leadership's decision to participate in the elections was conditioned by two considerations. First, and most important, had they not participated they would have been completely excluded from the regime the Shia and Kurds were crafting. The Sunnis realized the insurrection was not spreading beyond their own region. They could sustain their resistance, but the political process was under way in the rest of Iraq -- the larger part of Iraq -- and they would be left with chaos in their own region, isolation from the rest of the country and no political power. Moreover, if they succeeded in driving out the Americans, they would have been left to the tender mercies of their historical enemies. So, if they failed to drive out the Americans, they would be in chaotic isolation; if they did drive out the Americans, they would face much harsher treatment at the hands of the Shia. The revelation of conditions in Shiite prisons for Sunnis just before the elections helped drive that point home neatly.

Secondly, the native Sunni leadership was not happy with the inroads foreign jihadists were making into the Sunni community. The Baathists are secular, and the rest of the Sunni community is far from Wahhabi jihadists. That the jihadists were effective in fighting the Americans did not necessarily thrill the Sunni leadership, who did not want to see their sons come under the radicals' influence. Jihadist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- useful while the Sunnis were trying to force a military solution to their situation -- posed an increasing danger to the traditional leadership. As foreigners and jihadists, al-Zarqawi and his followers in all likelihood could not supplant the local leadership. Nevertheless, they posed a challenge that would only increase as the insurrection continued. Also, the Iraqi Sunnis were not exactly thrilled about Sunnis regularly dying at the hands of jihadists -- whether as collateral damage or due to "collaboration." In the Sunni mind there is a difference between killing Americans (resistance) and killing Sunnis (terrorism). The jihadists were a useful tool, but only when they could be controlled.

For the United States, splitting the Sunnis between the jihadist and Baathist/traditional faction had been a fundamental strategy. Following the miscalculations of 2003, the first U.S. strategy had been to play the Shia against the Sunnis in order to contain the insurrection in the Sunni region. That having succeeded, the United States now wanted to split the Sunnis among themselves, and especially isolate the al-Zarqawi faction.

U.S. efforts were much more sophisticated than just pitting Sunni nationalists against jihadists. Washington also worked to exploit internal Sunni nationalist differences between Baathists and Islamists, between different tribes, within tribes and even within other groups such as the religious scholarly body. In other words, it was the ability of the Bush administration to take advantage of multiple fault lines that led to the split within the Sunnis -- which, in turn, allowed the constitution to pass in the Oct. 15 referendum and forced most Sunnis to take part in the Dec. 15 polls.

American thinking was that if the native Sunnis could be brought (forced) into the political process, the foreign jihadists -- alien to Iraq -- would have to either start a civil war among the Sunnis that they couldn't win, or reduce the violence to a level which the Sunnis could tolerate in their political mode. There was no expectation that the violence would simply end -- only that in due course it would subside.

From the Sunnis' standpoint, the election represented a turning point, but not an irreversible one. Put differently, the Sunnis got to where they were by waging an insurrection and appearing willing to wage it indefinitely. Hated by the Shia and Kurds for their role in Saddam Hussein's regime, the Sunnis understood that, other things being equal, it was their turn to be oppressed and the United States wouldn't lift a finger to help them.

Therefore, launching an insurrection created a situation in which they would be neither simply ignored nor reduced to victim status. The insurrection was the Sunnis' bargaining chip. Indeed, the jihadists, with their willingness to go to any length to fight the Americans -- and Shia -- were the Sunnis' ultimate weapon. No one could control them but the Sunnis -- and that only delicately. Using the insurgency and the jihadists, the Sunnis maneuvered the Americans into a position in which their relationship with the Shia and Kurds would not provide a sufficient base for managing Iraq. They created a situation in which the Americans needed the Sunnis in order to pacify Iraq -- and therefore were willing to protect Sunni interests against the Shia.

Truth be known, the Americans were not all that unhappy being forced into this position. The Americans had developed a complex dependency on the Shia in the fall of 2003 and urgently wanted Shiite acquiescence. Had the Shia risen, the U.S. position would have been untenable. Needing Shiite support, Washington had effectively guaranteed the Shia control of Iraq -- a price it was not happy to pay. The American concern was not the Shia per se, but their Iranian allies.

Washington's fear was that containment of the Sunni uprising would create an Iranian satellite in Iraq. That would have had massive repercussions throughout the region -- particularly for Saudi Arabia, which fears growing Iranian power. Now, it should be remembered that the Iraqi Arab Shia are not identical to Iranian Shia. There are serious tensions between the two groups, which are ethnically, theologically, culturally and linguistically distinct. So a Shiite government in Iraq is not simply an Iranian satellite. However, it could well be an Iranian ally, and that was not the outcome the United States wanted.

Of course, the United States was also concerned about Shiite ambitions to transform Iraq from a secular state to an Islamic one -- the last thing Washington needed was another Iran. So the United States needed to almost double-cross the Shia without actually doing so -- and cooperating with the Sunnis gave Washington the opportunity to do just that.

Thus, as much as the United States -- and the Bush presidency -- was hurt by the Sunni insurrection, the insurgency carried with it a silver lining. The United States demonstrably had to contain the Sunnis, and the only option it had was political: championing Sunni interests against the Shia. The most glaring example of this was Bush phoning the leader of Iraq's Islamist Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) and urging him to make concessions to Sunni demands in order to break the deadlock in the constitutional negotiations. Ali al-Adeeb, a Shiite member of the constitutional committee, said Aug. 26 that Bush asked Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, to accept compromises that deal with purging the Baath party from public life. While the United States could not be accused of simply double-crossing the Shia, it could use the Sunnis' demands as a platform from which to try to reshape the new regime so that it had a built-in degree of complexity that would prevent outright Shiite control. That, in turn, would prevent outright Iranian domination.

The Sunnis still see the insurgency as their only bargaining chip. They want to demonstrate that they can moderate it, but they do not -- at this point -- want it to fade. The more al-Zarqawi does, the greater the U.S. dependency on the Sunnis. They don't want al-Zarqawi to get out of control -- as stated, he could threaten their own interests -- but they don't quite want him to go away. The Sunnis will walk a fine line until they reach an acceptable political settlement with the Shia that can be guaranteed in some way.

So, the Shia become the dominant power in Iraqi politics. The Kurdish position is protected. The Sunnis get their piece of the government, and al-Zarqawi loses his base of operations as Sunni confidence rises. There is, however one huge loser in this scenario: Iran. Iran should be going wild over what is happening in Iraq, and indeed it is. We must never forget Iran's war with Iraq and the trauma it created in Iran. Iran is obsessed with the ideal of a neutral or pro-Iranian Iraq. The U.S. maneuverings with former Baathists terrify the Iranians. They have minimal confidence in the political cleverness of Iraqi Shia, given the historical record. A coalition of Americans and Baathists is Tehran's worst nightmare. Depending on Iraqi Shia to protect their interests in the face of this coalition -- interests the Shia in Iraq don't always share -- is not something they can do.

It is therefore not an accident that, as their primary national security interests have been torn to shreds, the Iranians have tried to raise the ante. In ranting about the Jews and the Holocaust and moving Israel to Alaska, the Iranians are trying to play the North Korea game. The North Koreans maximize their leverage by appearing to be nearly a nuclear power and more than a little nuts. This brings the U.S. -- and a bunch of other nations -- to the table to negotiate with them and give them money or grain or other little gifts.

The Iranians have deliberately made it clear that they are going to get nuclear weapons and have hinted that they might already have them. Then, Iran's president started playing the role of Kim Jong Il, making it clear that he is crazy enough to use nuclear weapons.

One of the unremarkable constants in the Middle East of late is how hands-off a position the Israelis have been taking on everything. Threatening not-so-subtly to take action against Israel is old hat, but doing so against the background of increasingly touchy nuclear negotiations is another issue entirely. When the Iranian president began saying that Israel should be wiped off the map -- or at least moved to Alaska -- the Israelis obediently perked up and began dusting off battle plans to neutralize (read: nuke) Iran, with March bandied about as a realistic timeframe.

There are many things that could complicate U.S. goals in the Middle East, but none would do so more efficiently than Israeli missiles striking Iran. Since the last thing the United States needs is an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran, and the second-to-last thing the United States wants is a new war in Iran, the Iranians are betting that the Americans will try to placate them as Washington does with North Korea.

What the Iranians want, of course, are guarantees on future Iraqi policy. They also want to make certain that their Baathist enemies are never again in a position to return to power. And they are expecting the United States to guarantee all these things. Of course the Sunnis are expecting the United States to guarantee their interests. The Kurds have always relied on the United States. And the Israelis want to make sure that the Iranian nuclear threat is not left to them to handle. Each has its own threat. The Sunnis can crank up the insurgency. The Shia can invite in more Iranians. The Kurds can try to instigate an uprising in Turkey (or Iraq, Iran or Syria). The Iranians can threaten Israel with nuclear weapons, and the Israelis can threaten a preemptive strike.

Washington does not want any of these things. That means the United States must juggle a series of nearly incompatible interests to get a situation where it can draw down its troops. On the other hand, the Shia need the Americans to protect them from the Sunnis and the Iranians. The Sunnis need the Americans to protect them from the Shia. The Kurds need the Americans to protect them from the Turks (and the Sunnis). The Iranians need the Americans to protect them from the Israelis. And the Israelis generally need the Americans.

So, there is enough symmetry in the situation that the Bush administration might just be able to pull it off. What "it" consists of is less clear and less important than the balancing act that precedes it. It is in that balancing act that the United States reduces its forces, pushes al-Zarqawi to the wall, plays Iraqi and Iranian Shia against each other and gives the Iranians enough to keep them from going nuclear before Washington is ready to deal with the issue on its terms. It is dizzying, but that's what happens when war plans don't work out on the field the way they did in the computer -- which is usually. The administration has actually crafted something resembling a solution, or a solution has presented itself. Between that and polls that are a bit above awful, there is a chance the situation could work out in the administration's favor.

However, as all of this suggests, a final agreement is not only nowhere in sight, but not even in mind. Any conclusive agreement that would be acceptable to one group would be unacceptable to at least one other. In fact, the only thing that all of the domestic players agree on is that Washington has a role to play as the ultimate guarantor of any new government. The United States has no problem with this save one condition: that Washington is not responsible for day-to-day security. That in turn requires one item: a functional, united Iraqi army. That too has a precondition: a united army must include the Sunnis. Again, there is a follow on: the only Sunnis with military expertise are the Baathists.

Of all the possible Iraqi arrangements, the one that terrifies Iran is the one that is actually happening: a political agreement, with the support of all the local players, that involves a united, functional military complete with unrepentant Baathist elements. Memories of the 1980-1988 war are suddenly running a lot closer to the surface. Iran's biggest problem in challenging this scenario is that it does not have an effective lever. All of the Iraqi power brokers have signed on for their own reasons, and no one -- even the Iraqi Shia leadership -- believes Tehran would offer a better deal.

Which means that the only power Tehran can talk to is the one player that has no interest in talking to it if Iraq is about to be settled: the United States.

Since Washington is trying to avoid an Israeli preemptive strike against Tehran, the United States suddenly has an interest in making Israel feel better. To do that, it needs to get the Iranians under control. To do that, it needs to talk to the Iranians. And now we have Iran with something the United States wants (an Israel that is not about to go ballistic) and the United States with something Iran wants (an Iraq that Iran can tolerate).

The United States is not going to hand Iraq over to Iran, but should Tehran choose to complicate matters, neither is the United States going to be able to withdraw its forces.

Within that imbroglio there is room for compromise: have the United States -- via a permanent occupation -- guarantee Iraqi neutrality. An Iraq with 165,000 U.S. troops is in neither Iran's nor the United States' interest, but an Iraq with 40,000 troops at bases in the western Iraqi desert is. It is enough of a force to prevent unsavory governments from arising, but not enough to make Iran fear that Tehran could be flying the Stars and Stripes after a hectic weekend.


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« Reply #213 on: December 21, 2005, 11:52:38 AM »


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« Reply #214 on: December 31, 2005, 06:27:46 PM »
Note the author of this piece!

Right Islam vs. Wrong Islam
Muslims and non-Muslims must unite to defeat the Wahhabi ideology.

Friday, December 30, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

JAKARTA--News organizations report that Osama bin Laden has obtained a religious edict from a misguided Saudi cleric, justifying the use of nuclear weapons against America and the infliction of mass casualties. It requires great emotional strength to confront the potential ramifications of this fact. Yet can anyone doubt that those who joyfully incinerate the occupants of office buildings, commuter trains, hotels and nightclubs would leap at the chance to magnify their damage a thousandfold?

Imagine the impact of a single nuclear bomb detonated in New York, London, Paris, Sydney or L.A.! What about two or three? The entire edifice of modern civilization is built on economic and technological foundations that terrorists hope to collapse with nuclear attacks like so many fishing huts in the wake of a tsunami.

Just two small, well-placed bombs devastated Bali's tourist economy in 2002 and sent much of its population back to the rice fields and out to sea, to fill their empty bellies. What would be the effect of a global economic crisis in the wake of attacks far more devastating than those of Bali or 9/11?

It is time for people of good will from every faith and nation to recognize that a terrible danger threatens humanity. We cannot afford to continue "business as usual" in the face of this existential threat. Rather, we must set aside our international and partisan bickering, and join to confront the danger that lies before us.

An extreme and perverse ideology in the minds of fanatics is what directly threatens us (specifically, Wahhabi/Salafi ideology--a minority fundamentalist religious cult fueled by petrodollars). Yet underlying, enabling and exacerbating this threat of religious extremism is a global crisis of misunderstanding.
All too many Muslims fail to grasp Islam, which teaches one to be lenient towards others and to understand their value systems, knowing that these are tolerated by Islam as a religion. The essence of Islam is encapsulated in the words of the Quran, "For you, your religion; for me, my religion." That is the essence of tolerance. Religious fanatics--either purposely or out of ignorance--pervert Islam into a dogma of intolerance, hatred and bloodshed. They justify their brutality with slogans such as "Islam is above everything else." They seek to intimidate and subdue anyone who does not share their extremist views, regardless of nationality or religion. While a few are quick to shed blood themselves, countless millions of others sympathize with their violent actions, or join in the complicity of silence.

This crisis of misunderstanding--of Islam by Muslims themselves--is compounded by the failure of governments, people of other faiths, and the majority of well-intentioned Muslims to resist, isolate and discredit this dangerous ideology. The crisis thus afflicts Muslims and non-Muslims alike, with tragic consequences. Failure to understand the true nature of Islam permits the continued radicalization of Muslims world-wide, while blinding the rest of humanity to a solution which hides in plain sight.

The most effective way to overcome Islamist extremism is to explain what Islam truly is to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Without that explanation, people will tend to accept the unrefuted extremist view--further radicalizing Muslims, and turning the rest of the world against Islam itself.

Accomplishing this task will be neither quick nor easy. In recent decades, Wahhabi/Salafi ideology has made substantial inroads throughout the Muslim world. Islamic fundamentalism has become a well-financed, multifaceted global movement that operates like a juggernaut in much of the developing world, and even among immigrant Muslim communities in the West. To neutralize the virulent ideology that underlies fundamentalist terrorism and threatens the very foundations of modern civilization, we must identify its advocates, understand their goals and strategies, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and effectively counter their every move. What we are talking about is nothing less than a global struggle for the soul of Islam.

The Sunni (as opposed to Shiite) fundamentalists' goals generally include: claiming to restore the perfection of the early Islam practiced by Muhammad and his companions, who are known in Arabic as al-Salaf al-Salih, "the Righteous Ancestors"; establishing a utopian society based on these Salafi principles, by imposing their interpretation of Islamic law on all members of society; annihilating local variants of Islam in the name of authenticity and purity; transforming Islam from a personal faith into an authoritarian political system; establishing a pan-Islamic caliphate governed according to the strict tenets of Salafi Islam, and often conceived as stretching from Morocco to Indonesia and the Philippines; and, ultimately, bringing the entire world under the sway of their extremist ideology.
Fundamentalist strategy is often simple as well as brilliant. Extremists are quick to drape themselves in the mantle of Islam and declare their opponents kafir, or infidels, and thus smooth the way for slaughtering nonfundamentalist Muslims. Their theology rests upon a simplistic, literal and highly selective reading of the Quran and Sunnah (prophetic traditions), through which they seek to entrap the world-wide Muslim community in the confines of their narrow ideological grasp. Expansionist by nature, most fundamentalist groups constantly probe for weakness and an opportunity to strike, at any time or place, to further their authoritarian goals.

The armed ghazis (Islamic warriors) raiding from New York to Jakarta, Istanbul, Baghdad, London and Madrid are only the tip of the iceberg, forerunners of a vast and growing population that shares their radical views and ultimate objectives. The formidable strengths of this worldwide fundamentalist movement include:

1) An aggressive program with clear ideological and political goals; 2) immense funding from oil-rich Wahhabi sponsors; 3) the ability to distribute funds in impoverished areas to buy loyalty and power; 4) a claim to and aura of religious authenticity and Arab prestige; 5) an appeal to Islamic identity, pride and history; 6) an ability to blend into the much larger traditionalist masses and blur the distinction between moderate Islam and their brand of religious extremism; 7) full-time commitment by its agents/leadership; 8) networks of Islamic schools that propagate extremism; 9) the absence of organized opposition in the Islamic world; 10) a global network of fundamentalist imams who guide their flocks to extremism; 11) a well-oiled "machine" established to translate, publish and distribute Wahhabi/Salafi propaganda and disseminate its ideology throughout the world; 12) scholarships for locals to study in Saudi Arabia and return with degrees and indoctrination, to serve as future leaders; 13) the ability to cross national and cultural borders in the name of religion; 14) Internet communication; and 15) the reluctance of many national governments to supervise or control this entire process.

We must employ effective strategies to counter each of these fundamentalist strengths. This can be accomplished only by bringing the combined weight of the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims, and the non-Muslim world, to bear in a coordinated global campaign whose goal is to resolve the crisis of misunderstanding that threatens to engulf our entire world.

An effective counterstrategy must be based upon a realistic assessment of our own strengths and weaknesses in the face of religious extremism and terror. Disunity, of course, has proved fatal to countless human societies faced with a similar existential threat. A lack of seriousness in confronting the imminent danger is likewise often fatal. Those who seek to promote a peaceful and tolerant understanding of Islam must overcome the paralyzing effects of inertia, and harness a number of actual or potential strengths, which can play a key role in neutralizing fundamentalist ideology. These strengths not only are assets in the struggle with religious extremism, but in their mirror form they point to the weakness at the heart of fundamentalist ideology. They are:
1) Human dignity, which demands freedom of conscience and rejects the forced imposition of religious views; 2) the ability to mobilize immense resources to bring to bear on this problem, once it is identified and a global commitment is made to solve it; 3) the ability to leverage resources by supporting individuals and organizations that truly embrace a peaceful and tolerant Islam; 4) nearly 1,400 years of Islamic traditions and spirituality, which are inimical to fundamentalist ideology; 5) appeals to local and national--as well as Islamic--culture/traditions/pride; 6) the power of the feminine spirit, and the fact that half of humanity consists of women, who have an inherent stake in the outcome of this struggle; 7) traditional and Sufi leadership and masses, who are not yet radicalized (strong numeric advantage: 85% to 90% of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims); 8) the ability to harness networks of Islamic schools to propagate a peaceful and tolerant Islam; 9) the natural tendency of like-minded people to work together when alerted to a common danger; 10) the ability to form a global network of like-minded individuals, organizations and opinion leaders to promote moderate and progressive ideas throughout the Muslim world; 11) the existence of a counterideology, in the form of traditional, Sufi and modern Islamic teachings, and the ability to translate such works into key languages; 12) the benefits of modernity, for all its flaws, and the widespread appeal of popular culture; 13) the ability to cross national and cultural borders in the name of religion; 14) Internet communications, to disseminate progressive views--linking and inspiring like-minded individuals and organizations throughout the world; 15) the nation-state; and 16) the universal human desire for freedom, justice and a better life for oneself and loved ones.

Though potentially decisive, most of these advantages remain latent or diffuse, and require mobilization to be effective in confronting fundamentalist ideology. In addition, no effort to defeat religious extremism can succeed without ultimately cutting off the flow of petrodollars used to finance that extremism, from Leeds to Jakarta.

Only by recognizing the problem, putting an end to the bickering within and between nation-states, and adopting a coherent long-term plan (executed with international leadership and commitment) can we begin to apply the brakes to the rampant spread of extremist ideas and hope to resolve the world's crisis of misunderstanding before the global economy and modern civilization itself begin to crumble in the face of truly devastating attacks.
Muslims themselves can and must propagate an understanding of the "right" Islam, and thereby discredit extremist ideology. Yet to accomplish this task requires the understanding and support of like-minded individuals, organizations and governments throughout the world. Our goal must be to illuminate the hearts and minds of humanity, and offer a compelling alternate vision of Islam, one that banishes the fanatical ideology of hatred to the darkness from which it emerged.

Mr. Wahid, former president of Indonesia, is patron and senior advisor to the LibForAll Foundation (, an Indonesian and U.S.-based nonprofit that works to reduce religious extremism and discredit the use of terrorism


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Special Forces at the Sharp End
« Reply #215 on: January 01, 2006, 06:13:38 PM »
Imperial Grunts

With the Army Special Forces in the Philippines and Afghanistan?laboratories of counterinsurgency
by Robert D. Kaplan


America is waging a counterinsurgency campaign not just in Iraq but against Islamic terror groups throughout the world. Counterinsurgency falls into two categories: unconventional war (UW in Special Operations lingo) and direct action (DA). Unconventional war, though it sounds sinister, actually represents the soft, humanitarian side of counterinsurgency: how to win without firing a shot. For example, it may include relief activities that generate good will among indigenous populations, which in turn produces actionable intelligence. Direct action represents more-traditional military operations. In 2003 I spent a summer in the southern Philippines and an autumn in eastern and southern Afghanistan, observing how the U.S. military was conducting these two types of counterinsurgency.

The philippines
The inability of a democratic and Christian Filipino government to rule large areas of its own Muslim south?with al-Qaeda-related activity the result?became a principal concern of the United States in the wake of September 11, 2001. Operation Enduring Freedom, which focused primarily on removing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, also had an important Philippine component. In the aftermath of 9/11 U.S. troops entered the Muslim south of the Philippines for the first time since World War II.

In Afghanistan, Enduring Freedom combined conventional military elements with Special Operations forces and a militarized CIA. In the Philippines the effort was almost exclusively a Special Forces affair. The base of operations was Zamboanga, the center of the Spanish colonial administration in Mindanao and of the American effort against the Moros a century ago.

By the time I arrived in the Philippines, a number of leaders of the radical Islamic group Abu Sayyaf had been killed, and the group had scattered to smaller islands. Yet the American Joint Special Operations Task Force, or jsotf (pronounced Jay-so-tef), was still in place when I got to Zamboanga, and various Special Forces A teams were still training Filipino units nearby and on the main island of Luzon.

One morning soon after my arrival I found myself on a broken chair in a vast iron shed by the ferry dock in Zamboanga, in rotting heat and humidity. The water was a tableau of fishing nets and banca boats with bamboo outrigging. The floor in front of me was crowded with garbage and sleeping street people. Next to me were two new traveling companions from the jsotf: Special Forces Master Sergeant Doug Kealoha, of the Big Island of Hawaii, and Air Force Master Sergeant Carlos Duenas Jr., of San Diego. They would accompany me to the island of Basilan?"Injun Country" in the view of the jsotf, though Abu Sayyaf guerrillas had largely been routed.

I felt the familiar excitement of early-morning sea travel. From here in Zamboanga you could hop cheap and broken-down ferries all the way south along the Sulu chain to Malaysia and Indonesia. Had I been by myself, I might have been tempted to do it. I would certainly have had no qualms about going to Basilan alone. But being embedded with the U.S. military, as I was, meant giving up some freedom in return for access. I rode to the dock in a darkened van with three soldiers in full kit, along with Kealoha and Duenas, who, although they were in civilian clothes, carried Berettas under their loose shirts. Troops of the 103rd Brigade of the Filipino army would meet us at the dock in Isabela, the capital of Basilan.

pacom (the U.S. Pacific Command) had in 2002 decided to focus on Basilan because it was the northernmost and most populous island in the Sulu chain?the link between the southern islands and the larger island of Mindanao. Were Abu Sayyaf and other Muslim guerrilla groups to be ejected from Basilan, they would be instantly marginalized, it was thought. Basilan, with a population of 360,000, was important enough to matter, yet small enough to allow the United States a decisive victory in a short amount of time.

The first thing Special Forces had done about Basilan was conduct a series of population surveys. SF surveys were a bit like those conducted by university academics; indeed, many an SF officer had an advanced degree. But there was a difference. Because the motive behind these surveys was operational rather than intellectual, there was a practical, cut-to-the-chase quality about them that is uncommon in academia. Months were not needed to reach conclusions. Nobody was afraid to generalize in the bluntest terms; thus conclusions did not become entangled in exquisite subtleties. Intellectuals reward complexity and refinement; the military rewards simplicity and bottom-line assessments. For Army Special Forces?also called Green Berets?there was only one important question: What did they need to know about the people of Basilan in order to kill or drive out the guerrillas?

Special Forces officers teamed up with their counterparts in the Filipino army to question the local chiefs and their constituents in the island's forty barangays, or parishes. They conducted demographic studies with the help of satellite imagery. They found that the Christian population was heaviest in the northern part of Basilan, particularly in Isabela. Abu Sayyaf's strongest support was in the south and east of the island, where government services were, not surprisingly, the weakest. The islanders' biggest concerns were clean water, basic security, medical care, education, and good roads?in that order. Democracy or self-rule was not especially critical to the Muslim population. It had already had elections, many of them, which had achieved little for the average person: the government was elected but did not rule the group. Abu Sayyaf activities had shut down the schools and hospitals, and the guerrillas had kidnapped and executed teachers and nurses. The surveys demonstrated that the most basic human right is not freedom in the Western sense but physical security.

Next, under the auspices of Operation Enduring Freedom?Philippines, the Joint Task Force dispatched twelve Green Beret A teams to Basilan, backed up by three administrative B teams. Their mission was to train the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) units, which would then conduct operations against Abu Sayyaf. Doing that meant digging wells for American troops and building roads so that they could move around the countryside. The Americans also built piers and an airstrip for their operations. The Green Berets knew that all this infrastructure would be left behind for the benefit of the civilian population: that was very much to the point.

It was precisely in the Abu Sayyaf strongholds where the Green Beret detachments chose to be located. That in itself encouraged the guerrillas to scatter and leave the island. And by guaranteeing security, the U.S. military was able to lure international relief agencies to Basilan, and also some of the teachers and medical personnel who had previously fled. The American firm Kellogg, Brown & Root built and repaired schools and water systems. SF medics conducted medical and dental civic-action projects (medcaps and dentcaps, in military parlance) at which villagers volunteered information about the guerrillas while their children were being treated for scabies, malaria, and meningitis.

The objective was always to further legitimize the AFP among the islanders. The Americans went nowhere and did nothing without Filipino troops present to take the credit. When ribbons were cut to open new roads or schools, the Americans made sure to stay in the background.

With discretionary funds the Americans also built several small neighborhood mosques. "We hired locally and bought locally," a Green Beret officer told me, referring to the labor and materials for each project. The policy was deliberately carried to the extreme. Repairing roads meant clearing boulders off them; when the Green Berets saw peasants chipping away at these boulders to make smaller rocks, they bought the "aggregate" from the peasants and used it to lay the new roads.

The ostensible mission was to help Filipino troops kill or capture international terrorists. That was accomplished by orchestrating a humanitarian assistance campaign, which severed the link between the terrorists and the rest of the Muslim population: exactly what successful middle-level U.S. commanders had done in the Philippines a hundred years before. "We changed the way we were perceived," a Green Beret told me. "When we arrived in Basilan, Muslim kids made throat-slashing gestures at us. By the time we left, they were our friends. That led them to question everything the guerrillas had told them about Americans."

When I arrived in Basilan, the Americans had been gone for almost a year. Were their accomplishments long-lasting?

Before Enduring Freedom the hospital in Isabela had had twenty-five beds, and the staff had largely deserted to Zamboanga. Now there were 110 beds plus a women's clinic. The facility was being kept clean and orderly, with good water and electricity. The grounds were in the midst of landscaping. "Tell the American people that it is a miracle what took place here in 2002," Nilo Barandino, the hospital's director, told me. "And what was given to us by the American people, we will do our best to maintain and build upon. But there is still a shortage of penicillin. We get little help from Manila." Barandino said that Basilan used to be a "paradise for kidnappers," but since the American intervention kidnapping had stopped and the inhabitants of Isabela had begun going out at night again. A decade earlier he himself had been kidnapped.

From Isabela I headed southwest with Kealoha and Duenas, in a Humvee. Everywhere we saw portable bridges and sections of new road. If one island paradise on earth surpassed all others, I thought, it was here, with rubber-tree plantations and pristine palm jungles adorned with breadfruit, mahogany, mango, and banana trees under a glittering sun.

In Maluso, a predominantly Muslim area on Basilan's southwestern tip, facing the Sulu Sea, I met a water engineer, Salie Francisco. He jumped into the Humvee with us and took us deep into the jungle to follow the trail of a pipeline constructed by Kellogg, Brown & Root. It led to a dam, a water-filtration plant, and a school, all recently built by the United States Agency for International Development. The area used to be an Abu Sayyaf lair. The terrorists were gone. But, as Francisco told me, there were no jobs, no communications facilities, and no tourism, despite expectations raised by the Americans.

I saw poor and remote villages of the kind that I had seen all over the world, liberated from fear, and with a new class of Westernized activists beginning to trickle in. "The Filipino military is less and less doing its job here," Francisco told me. "We are afraid that Abu Sayyaf will return. No one trusts the government to finish building the roads that the Americans started." He went on: "The Americans were sincere. They did nothing wrong. We will always be grateful to their soldiers. But why did they leave? Please tell me. We are very disappointed that they did so."

As I continued around the island over the next few days, especially in the Muslim region of Tipo-Tipo, to the southeast, local Muslim officials were openly grateful toward the U.S. military for the wells, schools, and clinics that had been built, but critical of their own government in Manila for corruption and for not providing funds for development. True or not, this was the perception.

In southern Basilan the material intensity of Islamic culture became overpowering for the first time on my journey south, with a profusion of headscarves, prayer beads, signs for halal food, and a grand new mosque in Tipo-Tipo, paid for, it was said, by Arabian Gulf countries. I had entered an Islamic continuum, in which the Indonesian islands of Java, Borneo, and Sumatra seemed closer than Luzon.

Though I would learn more about Operation Enduring Freedom, one thing was already obvious: America could not change the vast forces of history and culture that had placed a poor Muslim region at the southern edge of a badly governed, Christian-run archipelago nation. All America could do was insert its armed forces here and there, as unobtrusively as possible, to alleviate perceived threats to its own security when they became particularly acute. And because such insertions were often in fragile Third World democracies, with colonial pasts and prickly senses of national pride, U.S. forces had to operate under very restrictive rules of engagement.

Humanitarian assistance may not be the weapon of choice for Pentagon hardliners, who prefer to hunt down and kill "bad guys" through direct action rather than dig wells and build schools?projects that in any case are possibly unsustainable, because national governments like that of the Philippines lack the resolve to pick up where the United States leaves off. I had the distinct sense that the work of Special Forces on Basilan had merely raised expectations?ones the government in Manila would be unable to meet. But nineteenth-century-style colonialism is simply impractical, and the very spread of democracy for which America struggles means that it can no longer operate without license. An approach that informally combines humanitarianism with intelligence gathering in order to achieve low-cost partial victories is what imperialism in the early twenty-first century demands.

The Basilan operation was a case of American troops' applying lessons and techniques learned from their experience of occupation in the Philippines a hundred years before. Although the invasion and conquest of the Philippine Islands from 1898 to 1913 became infamous to posterity for its human-rights violations, those violations were but one aspect of a larger military situation that featured individual garrison commanders pacifying remote rural areas with civil-affairs projects that separated the local population from the insurgents. It is that second legacy of which the U.S. military rightly remains proud, and from which it draws lessons in this new imperial age of small wars.

The most crucial tactical lesson of the Philippines war is that the smaller the unit, and the farther forward it is deployed among the indigenous population, the more it can accomplish. This is a lesson that turns imperial overstretch on its head. Though one big deployment like that in Iraq can overstretch our military, deployments in many dozens of countries involving relatively small numbers of highly trained people will not.

But the Basilan intervention is more pertinent as a model for future operations elsewhere than for what it finally achieved. For example, if the United States and Pakistan are ever to pacify the radicalized tribal agencies of the Afghan-Pakistani borderlands, it will have to be through a variation on how Special Forces operated in Basilan; direct action alone will not be enough.

Moreover, as free societies gain ground around the world, the U.S. military is going to be increasingly restricted in terms of how it operates. An age of democracy means an age of frustratingly narrow rules of engagement. That is because fledgling democratic governments, besieged by young and aggressive local media, will find it politically difficult?if not impossible?to allow American troops on their soil to engage in direct action.

Iraq and Afghanistan are rare examples where restrictive rules of engagement do not apply. But in most other cases U.S. troops will be deployed to bolster democratic governments rather than to topple authoritarian ones. Therefore unconventional warfare in the Philippines provides a better guidepost for our military than direct action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By the time I left the Philippines, the postwar consolidations of Iraq and Afghanistan were in jeopardy. Both the Pentagon and the American public had thought in terms of a decisive victory. Yet the fact that more U.S. soldiers had been killed by shadowy Iraqi gunmen after the dismantling of Saddam Hussein's regime than during the war itself indicated that the real war over Iraq's future was being fought now, and Operation Iraqi Freedom of 2003 had merely shaped the battle space for it.

In Afghanistan, too, a rapid and seemingly decisive military victory had been followed by a dirty and bloody peace. Small-scale eruptions of combat, with few enemy troops visible, were now a permanent feature of the landscape. They were something the United States would have to get used to, whichever party occupied the White House.

Warlordism, always strong in Afghanistan, had been bolstered in recent decades by the diffuse nature of the mujahideen rebellion against the Soviets, the destruction wrought by fighting among the mujahideen following the Soviet departure, and the bureaucratic incompetence of the Taliban itself, which was more an ideological movement than a governing apparatus. An Afghan state barely existed even before the U.S. invasion of October 2001. Thus, barring some catastrophe such as the fall of a major town to a reconstituted Taliban, or the assassination of President Hamid Karzai, discerning success or failure would be a subtler enterprise in Afghanistan than in Iraq. The continued turmoil in the greater Middle East, and my desire to observe Army Special Forces in a more varied role than what I saw in the Philippines, led me on a two-month journey to Afghanistan in the fall of 2003.

The American invasion of Afghanistan a month after 9/11 was greeted with a chorus of dire, historically based predictions from the media and academia. American soldiers, it was said, would fail to defeat the rugged, unruly Afghans, just as the Soviets and the nineteenth-century British had. The Afghans had never been defeated by outsiders; nor would they ever be. After only a few weeks of American bombing, however, the Taliban fled the Afghan capital of Kabul in disarray. To say that the Americans succeeded because of their incomparable technology would be a narrow version of the truth. America's initial success rested on deftly combining high technology with low-tech field tactics. It took fewer than 200 men on the ground from the Army's 5th Special Forces Group, in addition to CIA troops and Air Force Special Ops embeds, helped by the Afghan Northern Alliance and friendly Pashtoons, to topple the Taliban regime.

If history could have stopped at that point, it would be an American success story. But history does not stop. By the fall of 2003 the Taliban had regrouped to fight a guerrilla struggle against the U.S.-led international coalition?similar to the struggle that the mujahideen had waged against the Soviets. With hit-and-run attacks across a dispersed and mountainous battlefield, and a new national army that needed to be trained and equipped, Afghanistan constituted a challenge better suited to Special Operations forces than to the conventional military.

With troops jammed elbow-to-elbow along the sides, divided by a high wall of Tuff bins, mailbags, and rucksacks, the C-47 Chinook, followed by its Apache escort, lifted off the pierced steel planking that the Soviets had left behind at Bagram Air Force Base. The rear hatch was left open where an M-60 7.62mm mounted gun was manned by a soldier strapped to the edge. Beyond the gun the landscape of Afghanistan fell away before me: mud-walled castles and green terraced fields of rice, alfalfa, and cannabis on an otherwise gnarled and naked sandpaper vastness, marked by steep canyons and volcanic slag heaps. The rusty, dried-blood hue of some of the hills indicated iron-ore deposits, the drab greens copper. Because of the noise of the engine, everyone wore earplugs. Nobody talked. Soon, like everyone else, I fell asleep.

An hour later the Chinook descended steeply amid twisted, cindery peaks. Hitting the ground, those of us who were headed for the firebase grabbed our rucksacks and ran off through the wind and dust generated by the rotors. At the same time, another group of soldiers, waiting on the ground, ran inside. The crew threw off the mailbags and Tuff bins. Then two soldiers on the ground led a hooded figure, his hands tied in flex cuffs and a number scrawled on his back, to the helicopter. In less than five minutes the Chinook roared back up into the sky.

The handcuffed man was a puc: "person under control"?what the U.S. military calls its temporary detainees in the war on terrorism. It has become a verb; to take someone into custody is to "puc him." The men who had put the puc in the Chinook?en route to Bagram, where he would be interrogated?were members of an Army Special Forces A team based at an Afghan firebase in Gardez. But they didn't look like any of the Green Berets I had so far encountered in my travels. These Green Berets had thick beards and wore traditional Afghan kerchiefs, called deshmals, around their necks and over their mouths, Lone Ranger?style, as protection against the dust. On their heads were either flat woolen Afghan pakols or ball caps. Except for their camouflage pants, M-4s, and Berettas, there was nothing to identify them with the U.S. military. They brought to mind the 2001 photos of Special Forces troops on horseback in Afghanistan that had mesmerized the American public and horrified the old guard at the Pentagon. All were covered with dust, like sugar-coated cookies.

I threw my rucksack in the back of one of their Toyota pickups and we drove to the firebase, a few minutes away. There was a science-fiction quality to the landscape, which seemed devoid of all life forms. Near the fort were two distinctive hills that the driver referred to as "the two tits."

Firebase Gardez is a traditional yellow, mud-walled fort; the flags of the United States, the State of Texas, and the Florida Gators football team were flying from its ramparts. Surrounded by barren hills on a tableland 7,600 feet above sea level, the fort looks like a cross between the Alamo and a French Foreign Legion outpost.

An armed Afghan militiaman opened the creaky gate. Inside, caked and matted with "moondust," as everyone called it, stood double rows of armored Humvees, armed GMVs (ground mobility vehicles), and Toyota Land Cruisers?the essential elements of a new kind of convoy warfare, in which Special Ops was adapting tactics more from the Mad Max style of the Eritrean and Chadian guerrillas of recent decades than from the lumbering tank armies of the passing Industrial Age.

Hidden behind the vehicles and veils of swirling dust were canvas tents, a latrine, a crude shower facility, and the perennial Special Forces standby?a weight room. Almost everyone here was either a muscular Latino or a white guy dressed like an Afghan-cum-convict-cum-soldier. Half of them smoked. They put Tabasco sauce on everything. Back at home most owned firearms. They bore an uncanny resemblance to the freelance journalists who had covered the mujahideen war against the Soviets two decades earlier.

"Welcome to the Hotel Gardez," said a smiling and bearded major, Kevin Holiday, of Tampa, Florida. Major Holiday was the commander of this firebase and of another in Zurmat, two hours south by dirt road. "Within these walls we have ODB-2070 and two A teams, 2091 and 2093," he told me in rapid-fire fashion. "Next door, living with an ANA [Afghan National Army] unit, is 2076. Down at Zurmat is 2074. Most of us are 20th Group guardsmen from Florida and Texas, here for nine months, except for a tent full of active-duty 7th Group guys on a ninety-day deployment"?the Latinos. "We're the damn Spartans." Holiday smiled again. "Physical warriors with college degrees."

From Firebase Gardez, Major Holiday's "Spartans" launched sweeps across Paktia Province, trying to snatch radical infiltrators from Pakistan. "All the bad guys are coming from Waziristan," Holiday said, referring to a Pakistani tribal agency. "Because of the threat from Pakistan, there is not much civil-affairs stuff going on here." Officially, the Pakistani government of President Pervez Musharraf was an ally of the United States. But like his predecessors, and like the British before them, Musharraf had insufficient control over the unruly tribal areas. "Pakistan is the real enemy" was something I quickly got used to hearing.

"Who was the puc put on the Chinook when I arrived?" I asked Holiday.

"We hit a compound. It had zero-time grenades, seven RPGs, Saudi passports, and books on jihad. The Puc lived there. We've got more people to round up from that hit."

"Everything we do," he went on, repeating a phrase I had heard often already, "is 'by,' 'through,' 'with' the indigs. The ANA comes along on our hits. Though the AMF [the tribally based Afghan Militia Forces] are the real standup guys. They see themselves as our personal security element. Yeah, every time we go out on a mission, we try to pick up hitchhikers?any Afghan who wants to be associated with what we do. Give the ANA and AMF the credit, put them forward in the eyes of the locals. We have to build up the ANA?it's the only way a real Afghan state will come about. But it's naive to think you can simply disband the militias."

The mud-walled fort was, in Major Holiday's words, a "battle lab" for Special Forces. One of the goals was to implement the El Salvador model: build up a national army while at the same time employing more-lethal paramilitaries, and then make the latter gradually and quietly disappear into the former. The process would take years?a prospect Holiday relished. I was reminded of what another Special Forces officer, Lieutenant Colonel David Maxwell, had told me: counterinsurgency always requires the three Ps?"presence, patience, and persistence."

Holiday, who had just turned forty, seemed the most clean-cut of the fort's inhabitants. A civil engineer with a master's degree from the University of South Florida, and the father of three small children, he was chatty, well-spoken, and intense. "God has put me here," he told me matter-of-factly. "I'm a Christian"?he meant an evangelical. "The best kind of moral leader is one who is invisible. I believe character is more important than education. I have noticed that people who are highly educated and sophisticated do not like to take risks. But God can help someone who is highly educated to take big risks."

Holiday had served in the 82nd Airborne before returning to civilian life and then joining Special Forces as a Florida National Guardsman. His long months of Guard duty did not please his private employer, so he left his job and went to work as a civil engineer for the state. "You see all this around you?" he asked, eyeing the dust, engine grease, and mud-brick walls. "Well, it's the high point of my military life and of everyone else here."

"What about the beards?" I asked.

Holiday smiled, deliberately rubbing his chin. "The other day I had a meeting at the provincial governor's office. All these notables came in and rubbed their beards against mine, a sign of endearment and respect. I simply could not get my message across in these meetings unless I made some accommodations with the local culture and values. Afghanistan is not like other countries. It's a throwback. You've got to compromise and go native a little."

"Another thing," he went on. "Ever since 5th Group was here, in '01, Afghans have learned not to tangle with the bearded Americans. Afghanistan needs more SF, less conventional troops, but it's not that easy, because SF is already overstretched in its deployments."

Holiday disappeared into the Operations Center, or ops cen, where I was not permitted because I lacked the security clearance. He had a tough, lonely job, I learned, being the middleman between the firebase and the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force?cjsotf. The higher-ups wanted no beards, no alcohol, no porn, no pets, and very safe, well-thought-out missions. The guys here wanted to go a bit wild and crazy, breaking rules as 5th Group had done in the early days of the war on terrorism, before "Big Army" entered the picture, with its love of regulations and hatred of dynamic risk. A monastic existence of sorts had evolved here, with its own code of conduct.

Holiday had to sell the missions and plead understanding for the beards and ball caps with the cjsotf, which, in turn, was under pressure from the Combined Joint Task Force-180 at Bagram. On one occasion, when the guys were watching a particularly raunchy Italian porn movie during chow, Holiday came in and turned it off, saying, "That's enough of that; keep that stuff hidden, please." An angry silence ensued, but the major got his way. Holiday, though an evangelical Christian, is no prude. He was only being sensible. If we are going to flout the rules, he seemed to be saying, we have to at least be low-key about it.

''The area where I'm from we call the Redneck Riviera," Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Custer, of Mobile, Alabama, told me as we returned to Gardez one evening. "Now, I know what you're thinking." He laughed. "Yeah, I've got relatives who live in trailers, who've never been thirty miles from their home. I eat grits." In fact Custer is an ethnic Cuban who had been separated from his family because of Fidel Castro, and was adopted by southerners. "So I'm not really related to the General Custer."

After he had arrived on a short visit, Custer and I moved into my tent, where we had many late-night conversations. He was a 19th Group National Guardsman, and a Customs officer in civilian life. Like the other Guardsmen, he had a lack of ambition that made him doubly honest. One night, while cleaning an old Lee Enfield rifle on a Bukharan carpet, Custer gave me his theory on the problem with the war on terrorism as it was being waged in Afghanistan. I later checked his theory with numerous other sources on the front lines, and it panned out perfectly: This wasn't his theory so much as everyone's, when people were being honest with one another. Sadly, it was a typical American scenario. I will put into my own words what he and many others explained to me.

The essence of military "transformation"?the Washington buzzword of recent years?is not new tactics or even weapons systems but bureaucratic reorganization. In fact, such reorganization was achieved in the weeks following 9/11 by the 5th Special Forces Group, based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, whose handful of A teams (with help from the CIA, Air Force Special Ops embeds, and others) conquered Afghanistan.

The relationship between 5th Group and the highest levels of Pentagon officialdom had, in those precious, historic weeks of the fall of 2001, evinced the organizational structure that distinguished al-Qaeda and also the most innovative global corporations. It was an arrangement with which the finest business schools and management consultants would have been impressed. The captains and team sergeants of the various 5th Group A teams did not communicate with the top brass through an extended, vertical chain of command. They weren't even given specific instructions. They were just told to link up with the indigs?the Northern Alliance and also friendly Pashtoons?and help them defeat the Taliban. And to figure out the details as they went along.

The result was the empowerment of master sergeants to call in B-52 strikes. Fifth Group was no longer a small part of an enormous defense bureaucracy. It became a veritable corporate spinoff, commissioned to do a specific job its very own way, in the manner of a top consultant. But as time went on, that operating procedure came to an end. Now what had previously been approved orally within minutes took three days of paperwork, with bureaucratic layers of lieutenant colonels and senior officers delaying operations and diluting them of risk. When hits finally took place, they more than likely turned up dry holes. One of the basic laws of counterinsurgency warfare, established in the Marines' Small Wars Manual (1940) and the British Colonel C. E. Callwell's Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice (1896), was being ignored: Get out of the compound and out among the local people, preferably in small numbers. Yet the CJTF-180 in Bagram, by demanding forms and orders for almost every excursion outside the firebase, acted as a restraint on its Special Forces troops, whose whole purpose was to fight unconventionally in "small wars" style.

There was no scandal here, no one specifically to blame. It was just the way Big Army?that is, big government, that is, Washington?always did things. It was standard Washington "pile on." Every part of the military wanted a piece of Afghanistan, and that led to bureaucratic overkill.

"Big Army just doesn't get it," Custer said, like a persevering parent dealing with the antics of a child. "It doesn't get the beards, the ball caps, the windows rolled down so that we can shake hands with the hajis and hand out PowerBars to the kids. Big Army has regulations against all of that. Big Army doesn't understand that before you can subvert a people you've got to love them, and love their culture." (In fact, one reason that some high-ranking officers in the regular Army hated the beards was that they brought back bad memories of the indiscipline of the Vietnam-era Army.)

"Army people are systems people," he went on. "They think the system is going to protect them. Green Berets don't trust the system. We know the Kevlar helmets may not stop a 7.62mm round. So we wear ball caps?they're more comfortable. When you see a gunner atop an up-armor, bouncing up and down in the dust, breaking his vertebrae almost, let him wear a ball cap and he's happy. His morale is high because simply by wearing that ball cap he's convinced himself that he's fucking the system.

"Maybe in the future we'll be incorporated into a new and reformed CIA, rather than into Big Army. Any bureaucracy that is interested in results more than in regulations will be an improvement. You see, I can say these things?I'm a Guardsman."

During my time at Firebase Gardez, I went out regularly on "presence patrols" throughout the countryside. On one occasion the convoy descended from the mountains through cannabis fields and newly tilled poppy plantations. A massive mud-walled fort with Turkic-style towers loomed in the distance, marijuana leaves drying on its ramparts. I thought of the poppy fields on the way to the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz.

We halted in the middle of the road at the sight of what looked like a landmine. It wasn't. But by a turn of events the halt led to a local Afghan intelligence officer's inviting a counterintelligence guy, two other Green Berets, and me into his house for tea, while the rest of the convoy stood guard outside. He served the tea in a carpeted room heated by a dung-fired stove, with aspen beams overhead. I stared at the dust drifting into the tea.

Our host eventually discussed a certain Maulvi Jalani, who had entered into an informal alliance with Jalalludin Haqqani, the former mujahideen leader in Paktia and Khost, and a man associated with Saudi Wahhabi extremists like Osama bin Laden. He explained how opium profits were funding the Islamic opposition to Karzai. He believed that the Taliban would not return to power. More likely was the coalescing of an Iranian-brokered coalition of anti-American and anti-Karzai forces, to include Haqqani, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and other of the more radical ex-mujahideen leaders, along with disaffected elements of the Northern Alliance, some remnants of the Taliban, and al-Qaeda.

The intelligence officer wanted us to stay for a meal, but we politely declined, since we had hours of traveling ahead. As usual, the map was useless. The dendritic pattern of dirt roads dissolved into incomprehensibility. The idea that a command post far away at Bagram could determine, as it had tried to, what roads we turned down, in a land where roads were virtually nonexistent, suddenly struck me as ludicrous. Twenty-first-century communications technology worked toward the centralization of command, and thus toward micro-management. But the war on terrorism would be won only by adapting the garrison tactics of the nineteenth century, in which lower-level officers in the field forged policy as they saw fit.

A few days later approval came for a hit near Gardez. Rather than wait, an eleven-vehicle convoy was imme-    diately stood up, and around 9:00 p.m. we were off. By now I had been on enough compound hits to know the drill, so after we arrived I drifted away in the dark from my assigned vehicle and, after a while, proceeded inside the compound by myself, to see how the search was progressing.

Green Berets were probing with flashlights for two unexploded grenades that one of the occupants had just thrown at them. "Watch where you walk," I was warned. Along the courtyard were darkened rooms, illuminated by blue chemlights that the Green Berets had left behind to indicate that the rooms had already been cleared. Inside the house I peeked into a room where two Green Berets were kneeling on a carpet. They were using a flashlight to go over a pile of documents they had found, being careful not to wake two children who, miraculously, were sleeping through this mayhem.

As I left the compound, I noticed a counterintelligence officer interrogating one of the male inhabitants. They were both squatting against a section of mud wall, illuminated by flashlights attached to the M-4s held by other Green Berets, who had formed a semi-circle. The Afghan had a long white beard and a brown hood over his pakol. He looked stoic, unafraid. The counterintelligence officer was asking him simple stock questions in English: Had he seen anything suspicious? Who were his friends?

Each question elicited a long conversation between the man and the interpreter. It was clear that the counterintelligence guy was missing a lot. He didn't speak Pashto beyond a few phrases. Here was where the American Empire, such as it existed, was weakest.

Finally, all the counterintelligence officer could say to the man was "If you ever have a problem, come and see me at the firebase." Yes, this is what the man would surely do: forsake his kinsmen, and trust this most recent band of invaders passing through his land, invaders who could not even speak his tongue.

It wasn't the counterintelligence officer's fault that he hadn't been given the proper language training. Several years into the war on terrorism, one would think that Pashto would be commonly spoken, at least on a basic level, by American troops in these borderlands. It isn't. Nor are Farsi and Urdu?the languages of Iran and the tribal agencies of Pakistan, where U.S. Special Operations forces are likely to be active, in one way or another, over the coming decade. Like Big Army's aversion to beards, the lack of linguistic preparedness demonstrates that the Pentagon bureaucracy pays too little attention to the most basic tool of counterinsurgency: adaptation to the cultural terrain. It is such adaptation?more than new weapons systems or an ideological commitment to Western democracy?that will deliver us from quagmires.

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That Good Men do Nothing
« Reply #216 on: January 02, 2006, 11:28:34 AM »
Having recently dealt with several of the western pathologies noted herein, this piece has a particular resonance for me.

After the suicide of the West
By Roger Kimball

?It looks as if Islam had a bigger hand in the thing than we thought? . Islam is a fighting creed, and the mullah still stands in the pulpit with the Koran in one hand and a drawn sword in the other.?
?Richard Hannay in John Buchan?s Greenmantle

Suicide is probably more frequent than murder as the end phase of a civilization.
?James Burnham, Suicide of the West

It seemed fitting that a symposium devoted to the subject of ?Threats to Democracy? should convene on the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Not only was it one of the greatest sea battles in history, but it was also a battle greatly pertinent to the questions that guided our deliberations: What is the nature of the threats to democracy, to the culture and civilization of the West, and how can we best respond to those threats?
Let me say at the outset that I believe that Lord Nelson had the right idea?sail boldly in among your enemy?s ships, start firing, and don?t stop until you?ve reduced them to a shambles. It was good for England and for the rest of Europe that the Duke of Wellington proved himself to be of like mind a few years later. ?Hard pounding, gentlemen,? he said at Waterloo. ?We?ll see who pounds longest.?

Today, I believe, there is a widely shared understanding that our culture?not just the political system of democracy but our entire western way of life?is at a crossroads. That perception is not always on the surface. Absent the unignorable importunity of attack, absorption in the tasks of everyday life tends to blunt the perception of the threats facing us. But we all know that the future of the West, seemingly so assured even a decade ago, is suddenly negotiable in the most fundamental way. The essays that follow highlight some of the principle features of those negotiations. In this introduction, I want simply to review some of the moral terrain over which we are traveling.

I believe that Irving Kristol got it right when, in the early 1990s, he responded to the euphoria and na?vet? that greeted the fall of the Soviet Union. Many commentators announced the imminent arrival of a new era of peace, brotherhood, international comity, and enlightenment. Kristol was not so sanguine. In an essay called ?My Cold War,? he wrote that
There is no ?after the Cold War? for me. So far from having ended, my cold war has increased in intensity, as sector after sector of American life has been ruthlessly corrupted by the liberal ethos. It is an ethos that aims simultaneously at political and social collectivism on the one hand, and moral anarchy on the other. It cannot win, but it can make us all losers.

The oft-noted linguistic irony about the ?liberal ethos? that Kristol fears is that it has very little to do with genuine liberty and everything to do with the servitude of statist ideology.

That ideology comes in a range of flavors and a wide variety of wrappings. But the essential issue is one that Tocqueville, in Democracy in America, anatomized as ?democratic despotism? and that Friedrich Hayek, harkening back explicitly to Tocqueville, laid out with clinical brilliance in The Road to Serfdom. Quoting Tocqueville on the ?enervating? effect of paternalistic democracy, Hayek notes that ?the most important change which extensive government control produces is a psychological change, an alteration in the character of a people.?

One of the most penetrating meditations on the nature of that alteration is James Burnham?s book Suicide of the West. Written in 1964, that book, like its author, is largely and unfairly forgotten today. Burnham?s was a first-rate political intelligence, and Suicide of the West is one of his most accomplished pieces of polemic. ?The primary issue before Western civilization today, and before its member nations, is survival.? Suicide of the West is very much a product of the Cold War. Many of the examples are dated. But as with Irving Kristol?s Cold War, so with Burnham?s. The field of battle may have changed; the armies have adopted new tactics; but the war isn?t over: it is merely transmogrified. In the subtitle to his book, Burnham promises ?the definitive analysis of the pathology of liberalism.? At the center of that pathology is an awful failure of understanding which is also a failure of nerve, a failure of ?the will to survive.? Liberalism, Burnham concludes, is ?an ideology of suicide.? He admits that such a description may sound hyperbolic. ??Suicide,? it is objected, is too emotive a term, too negative and ?bad.?? But it is part of the pathology that Burnham describes that such objections are ?most often made most hotly by Westerners who hate their own civilization, readily excuse or even praise blows struck against it, and themselves lend a willing hand, frequently enough, to pulling it down.?

By way of illustration, let me return for a moment to Lord Nelson and Trafalgar. For anyone concerned with the fate of our culture, our civilization, the anniversary of Trafalgar was full of lessons. I wonder, for example, what Nelson would have thought of the Royal Navy?s decision last summer to reenact the battle not as a conflict between the English on one side and the French and the Spanish on the other but, out of sensitivity to the feelings of the French, as a contest between a Red Team and a Blue Team. Today, I suppose, Nelson, instead of broadcasting his famous message about duty, would have had to hoist the signal that ?England Expects or at Least Suggests That Every Person No Matter What Gender, Race, Class, Sexual Orientation, or National Origin Will Be Politically Correct.? Hard work on the flag officer, of course, but preserving the emotion of virtue is not without cost.

Trafalgar is full of lessons. When my wife and I visited London last September, we took our young son, a fervent admirer of Nelson, to Trafalgar Square to see Nelson?s column. We were surprised to see that it had company. On one of the plinths behind the famous memorial sat a huge sculpture of white marble. This, I knew, was one of the benefactions that Ken Livingstone, the Communist mayor of London, had bestowed on his grateful constituency: public art on Trafalgar Square that was more in keeping with cool Britannia?s new image than statues of warriors. From a distance, the white blob looked liked a gigantic marshmallow in need of an air pump. But on closer inspection, it turned out to be a sculpture of an armless and mostly legless woman, with swollen breasts and distended belly. In fact, it was a sculpture by Marc Quinn of one Alison Lapper, made when she was eight months pregnant. Ms. Lapper, who was born with those horrible handicaps, is herself an artist. Asked how she felt about the sculpture, Ms. Lapper said that she was glad that at last Trafalgar Square recognized someone who was not a white male murderer. It is worth noting, as one journalist pointed out, that the architects of Trafalgar Square were ahead of their time in at least one sense, for the sculpture of Ms. Lapper represented the second commemoration of a seriously disabled person. After all, there is Nelson on his column, missing his right arm and an eye.

How England chose to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar and to respect its most public acknowledgment of Lord Nelson?s service to his country should give us pause. The union of sentimentality, political correctness, and multicultural piety is a disturbing ambassador to the future. It is a perfect example?one of many?of the ?liberal ethos? whose progress Irving Kristol mournfully observed and whose essential character Burnham delineated.

What are the stakes? The terrorist attacks of 9/11 gave us a vivid reminder?but one, alas, that seems to have faded from the attention of many Western commentators who seem more concerned about recreational facilities at Guantanamo Bay than the future of their towns and cities. For myself, ever since 9/11, when I think about threats to democracy, I recall a statement by one Hussein Massawi, a former Hezbollah leader, which I believe I first read in one of Mark Steyn?s columns. ?We are not fighting,? Mr. Massawi said, ?so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.?

It is worth pausing to reflect on that statement. The thing I admire most about it is its pristine clarity. You know where you are with Mr. Massawi. It requires no special hermeneutic ingenuity to construe his meaning. And you also know that he wasn?t speaking idly. He was a man of his word, as the events of 9/11 and the names Bali, Madrid, and?just last summer?London remind us.

Or so one would have thought. Mr. Massawi speaks clearly, but who is listening? Our colleges and universities have been preaching the creed of multiculturalism for the last few decades. Politicians, pundits, and the so-called cultural elite have assiduously absorbed the catechism, which they accept less as an argument about the way the world should be as an affirmation of the essential virtue of their own feelings. We are now beginning to reap the fruit of that liberal experiment with multiculturalism. The chief existential symptom is moral paralysis, expressed, for example, in the inability to discriminate effectively between good and evil. The New York Times runs full-page advertisements, signed by all manner of eminent personages, that compare President Bush to Adolf Hitler. Meanwhile, the pop singer Michael Jackson spends an unspecified number of millions to finance the construction of a mosque in Bahrain ?designated for learning the principles and teachings of Islam.? Thanks, Michael.

Over the years, The New Criterion has commented often on ?the culture wars,? the vast smorgasbord of intellectual, political, and moral havoc bequeathed to us by the 1960s. What we see now is a darker face of those conflicts. On the one hand, you have people like Mr. Massawi, and their name is legion. If American Airlines will lend them a 767, they will happily plow it into the most convenient skyscraper. Should they somehow get hold of a vial of anthrax or smallpox or an atomic weapon, we can be sure they would have not the least hesitation about obliterating whatever seat of Western decadence was most ready to hand?an American target would be best, of course, but failing that almost any other city would do. So far, Mr. Massawi and his pals have had to do without atomic or biological weapons, but they have kept themselves busy with semtex, car bombs, and the occasional televised beheading.

All this violence is not aimless. It has a clear goal, not only to push the West out of Saudia Arabia and other parts of the Middle East but also to establish the rule of Sharia, of Islamic law, wherever Muslims in any number have congregated. This is the condition that the Egyptian historian Bat Ye?or has called dhimmitude: the state of the dhimmis, the ?protected? or ?guilty? non-Muslim people in a Muslim world. Dhimmitude outlines the official status of a conquered, spiritually cowed people, people, as the Koran puts it, who are allowed to live unmolested as second-class citizens so long as they ?feel themselves subdued.?
I think we know where we are with the Mr. Massawis of the world. But how do we react? Well, the U.S. and British armed forces act in one way.

Our intellectual and cultural leaders, by and large, act in quite another. Our reaction?or lack of reaction?is just as much of a threat as the overt belligerence of Massawi & Co. A few days after 9/11, I was talking with a friend who teaches at Williams College. The response on campus there, as on so many campuses across the country, was shock, dismay, and outrage?partly at what had happened at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and that field in Pennsylvania, but even more at what has come to be called Islamophobia. At Williams, my friend told me, one distraught colleague insisted that the college air movies about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II as a warning about the Great Backlash Against Muslims that was just about to sweep the country.

Not just this country, either. This past summer, BBC was preparing a film version of John Buchan?s great ?shocker? Greenmantle, whose plot turns on supposed German efforts to stir Turkish Muslims to jihad during the First World War. All was going along swimmingly until July 7, when some real-life British Muslims detonated themselves on the London transport system. Reaction at the BBC? They canceled the show for fear of wounding the feelings of Muslims.

While we are waiting for that backlash, and humming ?Let?s Not Be Beastly to the Muslims,? it is worth noting the word ?Islamophobia? is a misnomer. A phobia describes an irrational fear, and it is axiomatic that fearing the effects of radical Islam is not irrational, but on the contrary very well-founded indeed, so that if you want to speak of a legitimate phobia?it?s a phobia I experience frequently?we should speak instead of Islamophobia-phobia, the fear of and revulsion towards Islamophobia.
Now that fear is very well founded, and it extends into the nooks and crannies of daily life. A couple of months ago, for example, I read in a London paper that ?Workers in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, were told to remove or cover up all pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet? because the presence of images of our porcine friends offended Muslims. A councillor called Mahbubur Rahman told the paper that he backed the ban because it represented ?tolerance of people?s beliefs.? In other words, Piglet really did meet a Heffalump, and it turns out he was wearing a kaffiyeh.

The observation?often, though apparently inaccurately, attributed to George Orwell?that the triumph of evil requires only that good men stand by and do nothing has special relevance at a time, like now, that is inflected by terrorism. I have several friends?thoughtful, well-intentioned people?who believe the United States should never have intervened in Afghanistan, who believe even more staunchly that the United States should never have intervened in Iraq, and, moreover, that we should get out forthwith. ?We should,? they believe, ?keep to ourselves. We have no business meddling with the rest of the world. We cannot be the world?s constabulary, nor should we aspire to be. It is not in our interest?for it breeds resentment?and it is not in the interest of those we profess to help, since they should be allowed to govern themselves?or not, as the case may be.?

Whatever the wisdom of the position in the abstract (and I have my doubts about it), the resurgence of international terrorism, fueled by hate and devoted to death, renders it otiose. Last summer?s bombings in London were, as these things go, relatively low in casualties. But they were high in indiscriminateness. The people on those buses and subway cars were as innocent as innocent can be: just folks, moms and dads and children on their way to work or school or play, as uninterested, most of them, in politics or Islam as it is possible to be. And yet those home-grown Islamicists were happy to blow them to bits.

Here is the novelty: Our new enemies are not political enemies in any traditional sense, belligerent in the service of certain interests of their own. Their belligerence is focused rather on the very existence of an alternative to their vision of beatitude, namely on Western democracy and its commitment to individual freedom and economic prosperity. I return to Hussein Massawi: ?We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.?

In fact, the situation is even grimmer than Mr. Massawi suggests. For our new enemies are not simply bent on our destruction: they are pleased to compass their own destruction as a collateral benefit. This is one of those things that makes Islamofascism a particularly toxic form of totalitarianism. At least most Communists had some rudimentary attachment to the principle of self-preservation. In the face of such death-embracing fanaticism our only option is unremitting combat.
The large issue here is one that has bedeviled liberal societies ever since there were liberal societies: namely, that in attempting to create the maximally tolerant society, we also give scope to those who would prefer to create the maximally intolerant society.

In these pages last June, I wrote about the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. Let me conclude by returning to what I said there. In an essay called ?The Self-Poisoning of the Open Society,? Kolakowski dilates on this basic antinomy of liberalism. Liberalism implies openness to other points of view, even (it would seem) those points of view whose success would destroy liberalism. But tolerance to those points of view is a prescription for suicide. Intolerance betrays the fundamental premise of liberalism, i.e., openness. As Robert Frost once put it, a liberal is someone who refuses to take his own part in an argument.

Kolakowski is surely right that our liberal, pluralist democracy depends for its survival not only on the continued existence of its institutions, but also ?on a belief in their value and a widespread will to defend them.? The question is: Do we, as a society, still enjoy that belief? Do we possess the requisite will? Or was Fran?ois Revel right when he said that ?Democratic civilization is the first in history to blame itself because another power is trying to destroy it?? The jury is still out on those questions. A good test is the extent to which we can resolve the antinomy of liberalism. And a good start on that problem is the extent to which we realize that the antinomy is, in the business of everyday life, illusory.

The ?openness? that liberal society rightly cherishes is not a vacuous openness to all points of view: it is not ?value neutral.? It need not, indeed it cannot, say Yes to all comers, to the Islamofascist who after all has his point of view, just as much as the soccer mom, who has hers. American democracy, for example, affords its citizens great latitude, but great latitude is not synonymous with the proposition that ?anything goes.? Our society, like every society, is founded on particular positive values?the rule of law, for example, respect for the individual, religious freedom, the separation of church and state. Western democratic society, that is to say, is rooted in what Kolakowski calls a ?vision of the world.? Part of that vision is a commitment to openness, but openness is not the same as indifference.

The problem is that large portions of Western society, especially those portions entrusted with perpetuating its political and cultural capital, have lost sight of that vision. In part, I believe, this is a religious problem?more to the point, it is a problem consequent upon the failure of religion. In his essay ?Targeted Jihad? below, Douglas Murray summarizes this point well.

It may be no sin?may indeed be one of our society?s most appealing traits?that we love life. But the scales, as in so many things, have tipped to an extreme. From seeing so much for which we would live, people in our society now see fewer and fewer causes for which they would die. We have passed to a point where prolongation is all. We have become like the parents of Admetos in Euripides? Alcestis??walking cadavers,? unwilling to give up the few remaining days (in Europe?s case, of its peace dividend) even if only by doing so can any generational future be assured. Even the interventionist wars of the West only seem possible when we can ensure that our troops kill but do not die for the cause in hand. wrong.

In fact, I believe that Mr. Murray may overstate the extent to which we in the West ?love life.? We love our pleasures, which isn?t quite the same thing. But his main point, about there being fewer and fewer things for which we would be willing to risk our lives, is exactly right. James Burnham made a similar point about facing down the juggernaut of Communism: ?just possibly we shall not have to die in large numbers to stop them: but we shall certainly have to be willing to die.? The issue, Burnham saw, is that modern liberalism has equipped us with an ethic too abstract and empty to inspire real commitment. Modern liberalism, he writes,

does not offer ordinary men compelling motives for personal suffering, sacrifice, and death. There is no tragic dimension in its picture of the good life. Men become willing to endure, sacrifice, and die for God, for family, king, honor, country, from a sense of absolute duty or an exalted vision of the meaning of history? . And it is precisely these ideas and institutions that liberalism has criticized, attacked, and in part overthrown as superstitious, archaic, reactionary, and irrational. In their place liberalism proposes a set of pale and bloodless abstractions?pale and bloodless for the very reason that they have no roots in the past, in deep feeling and in suffering. Except for mercenaries, saints, and neurotics, no one is willing to sacrifice and die for progressive education, medicare, humanity in the abstract, the United Nations, and a ten percent rise in Social Security payments.

The Islamofascists have a fanatical belief that theirs is a holy mission, that incinerating infidels is their bounden duty. For them suicide is a gateway to paradise. For us suicide is just that: suicide. Although we began by calling this symposium ?Threats to Democracy,? it became clear in the course of our proceedings that the threat was larger, more encompassing than that title suggests. As the succeeding essays make clear, what we are dealing with is the real culture war?a war, as Burnham said, ?for survival.? In ?It?s the demography, stupid,? Mark Steyn writes about the West?s survival in the most elemental sense:

much of what could once upon a time have been called Christian Europe is simply failing to reproduce itself. ?A society that has no children,? he notes, ?has no future.? But the demographic timebomb, as Douglas Murray, Roger Scruton, and Keith Windshuttle note, is only part of the story. As Scruton puts it, a kind of ?moral obesity? cripples much of Western culture, ?to the point where ideals and long-term goals induce in them nothing more than a flummoxed breathlessness.?

The question is whether we believe anything with sufficient vigor to jettison the torpor of our barren self-satisfaction. There are signs that the answer is Yes, but you won?t see them on CNN or read about them in The New York Times. The people presiding over such institutions would rather die than acknowledge that someone like James Burnham (to say nothing of George W. Bush) was right. It just may come to that.
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 ?Threats to Democracy: Then and Now,? a symposium organized jointly by The New Criterion and London?s Social Affairs Unit, took place on October 21, 2005 at the Union League Club in New York City. Participants were Max Boot, Robert H. Bork, Michael W. Gleba, Anthony Glees, Roger Kimball, Herbert I. London, Kenneth Minogue, Michael Mosbacher, Douglas Murray, James Piereson, Daniel Pipes, Roger Scruton, Mark Steyn, and Keith Windschuttle. Discussion revolved largely around earlier versions of the essays printed in this special section. Go back to the text.
This article originally appeared in
The New Criterion, Volume 24, January 2006,

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« Reply #217 on: January 03, 2006, 11:33:25 AM »

It's the Demography, Stupid
The real reason the West is in danger of extinction.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries. There'll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands--probably--just as in Istanbul there's still a building called St. Sophia's Cathedral. But it's not a cathedral; it's merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West.

One obstacle to doing that is that, in the typical election campaign in your advanced industrial democracy, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much all parties in the rest of the West are largely about what one would call the secondary impulses of society--government health care, government day care (which Canada's thinking of introducing), government paternity leave (which Britain's just introduced). We've prioritized the secondary impulse over the primary ones: national defense, family, faith and, most basic of all, reproductive activity--"Go forth and multiply," because if you don't you won't be able to afford all those secondary-impulse issues, like cradle-to-grave welfare.

Americans sometimes don't understand how far gone most of the rest of the developed world is down this path: In the Canadian and most Continental cabinets, the defense ministry is somewhere an ambitious politician passes through on his way up to important jobs like the health department. I don't think Don Rumsfeld would regard it as a promotion if he were moved to Health and Human Services.

The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it. Post-Christian hyperrationalism is, in the objective sense, a lot less rational than Catholicism or Mormonism. Indeed, in its reliance on immigration to ensure its future, the European Union has adopted a 21st-century variation on the strategy of the Shakers, who were forbidden from reproducing and thus could increase their numbers only by conversion. The problem is that secondary-impulse societies mistake their weaknesses for strengths--or, at any rate, virtues--and that's why they're proving so feeble at dealing with a primal force like Islam.
Speaking of which, if we are at war--and half the American people and significantly higher percentages in Britain, Canada and Europe don't accept that proposition--than what exactly is the war about?

We know it's not really a "war on terror." Nor is it, at heart, a war against Islam, or even "radical Islam." The Muslim faith, whatever its merits for the believers, is a problematic business for the rest of us. There are many trouble spots around the world, but as a general rule, it's easy to make an educated guess at one of the participants: Muslims vs. Jews in "Palestine," Muslims vs. Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs. Christians in Africa, Muslims vs. Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs. Russians in the Caucasus, Muslims vs. backpacking tourists in Bali. Like the environmentalists, these guys think globally but act locally.

Yet while Islamism is the enemy, it's not what this thing's about. Radical Islam is an opportunistic infection, like AIDS: It's not the HIV that kills you, it's the pneumonia you get when your body's too weak to fight it off. When the jihadists engage with the U.S. military, they lose--as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. If this were like World War I with those fellows in one trench and us in ours facing them over some boggy piece of terrain, it would be over very quickly. Which the smarter Islamists have figured out. They know they can never win on the battlefield, but they figure there's an excellent chance they can drag things out until Western civilization collapses in on itself and Islam inherits by default.

That's what the war's about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: "Civilizations die from suicide, not murder"--as can be seen throughout much of "the Western world" right now. The progressive agenda--lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism--is collectively the real suicide bomb. Take multiculturalism. The great thing about multiculturalism is that it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures--the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It's fundamentally a fraud, and I would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don't want to live in anything but an advanced Western society. Multiculturalism means your kid has to learn some wretched native dirge for the school holiday concert instead of getting to sing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or that your holistic masseuse uses techniques developed from Native American spirituality, but not that you or anyone you care about should have to live in an African or Native American society. It's a quintessential piece of progressive humbug.
Then September 11 happened. And bizarrely the reaction of just about every prominent Western leader was to visit a mosque: President Bush did, the prince of Wales did, the prime minister of the United Kingdom did, the prime minister of Canada did . . . The premier of Ontario didn't, and so 20 Muslim community leaders had a big summit to denounce him for failing to visit a mosque. I don't know why he didn't. Maybe there was a big backlog, it was mosque drive time, prime ministers in gridlock up and down the freeway trying to get to the Sword of the Infidel-Slayer Mosque on Elm Street. But for whatever reason he couldn't fit it into his hectic schedule. Ontario's citizenship minister did show up at a mosque, but the imams took that as a great insult, like the Queen sending Fergie to open the Commonwealth Games. So the premier of Ontario had to hold a big meeting with the aggrieved imams to apologize for not going to a mosque and, as the Toronto Star's reported it, "to provide them with reassurance that the provincial government does not see them as the enemy."

Anyway, the get-me-to-the-mosque-on-time fever died down, but it set the tone for our general approach to these atrocities. The old definition of a nanosecond was the gap between the traffic light changing in New York and the first honk from a car behind. The new definition is the gap between a terrorist bombing and the press release from an Islamic lobby group warning of a backlash against Muslims. In most circumstances, it would be considered appallingly bad taste to deflect attention from an actual "hate crime" by scaremongering about a purely hypothetical one. Needless to say, there is no campaign of Islamophobic hate crimes. If anything, the West is awash in an epidemic of self-hate crimes. A commenter on Tim Blair's Web site in Australia summed it up in a note-perfect parody of a Guardian headline: "Muslim Community Leaders Warn of Backlash from Tomorrow Morning's Terrorist Attack." Those community leaders have the measure of us.

Radical Islam is what multiculturalism has been waiting for all along. In "The Survival of Culture," I quoted the eminent British barrister Helena Kennedy, Queen's Counsel. Shortly after September 11, Baroness Kennedy argued on a BBC show that it was too easy to disparage "Islamic fundamentalists." "We as Western liberals too often are fundamentalist ourselves," she complained. "We don't look at our own fundamentalisms."

Well, said the interviewer, what exactly would those Western liberal fundamentalisms be? "One of the things that we are too ready to insist upon is that we are the tolerant people and that the intolerance is something that belongs to other countries like Islam. And I'm not sure that's true."

Hmm. Lady Kennedy was arguing that our tolerance of our own tolerance is making us intolerant of other people's intolerance, which is intolerable. And, unlikely as it sounds, this has now become the highest, most rarefied form of multiculturalism. So you're nice to gays and the Inuit? Big deal. Anyone can be tolerant of fellows like that, but tolerance of intolerance gives an even more intense frisson of pleasure to the multiculti masochists. In other words, just as the AIDS pandemic greatly facilitated societal surrender to the gay agenda, so 9/11 is greatly facilitating our surrender to the most extreme aspects of the multicultural agenda.

For example, one day in 2004, a couple of Canadians returned home, to Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto. They were the son and widow of a fellow called Ahmed Said Khadr, who back on the Pakistani-Afghan frontier was known as "al-Kanadi." Why? Because he was the highest-ranking Canadian in al Qaeda--plenty of other Canucks in al Qaeda, but he was the Numero Uno. In fact, one could argue that the Khadr family is Canada's principal contribution to the war on terror. Granted they're on the wrong side (if you'll forgive my being judgmental) but no can argue that they aren't in the thick of things. One of Mr. Khadr's sons was captured in Afghanistan after killing a U.S. Special Forces medic. Another was captured and held at Guantanamo. A third blew himself up while killing a Canadian soldier in Kabul. Pa Khadr himself died in an al Qaeda shootout with Pakistani forces in early 2004. And they say we Canadians aren't doing our bit in this war!

In the course of the fatal shootout of al-Kanadi, his youngest son was paralyzed. And, not unreasonably, Junior didn't fancy a prison hospital in Peshawar. So Mrs. Khadr and her boy returned to Toronto so he could enjoy the benefits of Ontario government health care. "I'm Canadian, and I'm not begging for my rights," declared the widow Khadr. "I'm demanding my rights."

As they always say, treason's hard to prove in court, but given the circumstances of Mr. Khadr's death it seems clear that not only was he providing "aid and comfort to the Queen's enemies" but that he was, in fact, the Queen's enemy. The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the Royal 22nd Regiment and other Canucks have been participating in Afghanistan, on one side of the conflict, and the Khadr family had been over there participating on the other side. Nonetheless, the prime minister of Canada thought Boy Khadr's claims on the public health system was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate his own deep personal commitment to "diversity." Asked about the Khadrs' return to Toronto, he said, "I believe that once you are a Canadian citizen, you have the right to your own views and to disagree."
That's the wonderful thing about multiculturalism: You can choose which side of the war you want to fight on. When the draft card arrives, just tick "home team" or "enemy," according to taste. The Canadian prime minister is a typical late-stage Western politician: He could have said, well, these are contemptible people and I know many of us are disgusted at the idea of our tax dollars being used to provide health care for a man whose Canadian citizenship is no more than a flag of convenience, but unfortunately that's the law and, while we can try to tighten it, it looks like this lowlife's got away with it. Instead, his reflex instinct was to proclaim this as a wholehearted demonstration of the virtues of the multicultural state. Like many enlightened Western leaders, the Canadian prime minister will be congratulating himself on his boundless tolerance even as the forces of intolerance consume him.

That, by the way, is the one point of similarity between the jihad and conventional terrorist movements like the IRA or ETA. Terror groups persist because of a lack of confidence on the part of their targets: The IRA, for example, calculated correctly that the British had the capability to smash them totally but not the will. So they knew that while they could never win militarily, they also could never be defeated. The Islamists have figured similarly. The only difference is that most terrorist wars are highly localized. We now have the first truly global terrorist insurgency because the Islamists view the whole world the way the IRA view the bogs of Fermanagh: They want it, and they've calculated that our entire civilization lacks the will to see them off.

We spend a lot of time at The New Criterion attacking the elites, and we're right to do so. The commanding heights of the culture have behaved disgracefully for the last several decades. But if it were just a problem with the elites, it wouldn't be that serious: The mob could rise up and hang 'em from lampposts--a scenario that's not unlikely in certain Continental countries. But the problem now goes way beyond the ruling establishment. The annexation by government of most of the key responsibilities of life--child-raising, taking care of your elderly parents--has profoundly changed the relationship between the citizen and the state. At some point--I would say socialized health care is a good marker--you cross a line, and it's very hard then to persuade a citizenry enjoying that much government largesse to cross back. In National Review recently, I took issue with that line Gerald Ford always uses to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences: "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." Actually, you run into trouble long before that point: A government big enough to give you everything you want still isn't big enough to get you to give anything back. That's what the French and German political classes are discovering.

Go back to that list of local conflicts I mentioned. The jihad has held out a long time against very tough enemies. If you're not shy about taking on the Israelis, the Russians, the Indians and the Nigerians, why wouldn't you fancy your chances against the Belgians and Danes and New Zealanders?
So the jihadists are for the most part doing no more than giving us a prod in the rear as we sleepwalk to the cliff. When I say "sleepwalk," it's not because we're a blas? culture. On the contrary, one of the clearest signs of our decline is the way we expend so much energy worrying about the wrong things. If you've read Jared Diamond's bestselling book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," you'll know it goes into a lot of detail about Easter Island going belly up because they chopped down all their trees. Apparently that's why they're not a G-8 member or on the U.N. Security Council. Same with the Greenlanders and the Mayans and Diamond's other curious choices of "societies." Indeed, as the author sees it, pretty much every society collapses because it chops down its trees.

Poor old Diamond can't see the forest because of his obsession with the trees. (Russia's collapsing even as it's undergoing reforestation.) One way "societies choose to fail or succeed" is by choosing what to worry about. The Western world has delivered more wealth and more comfort to more of its citizens than any other civilization in history, and in return we've developed a great cult of worrying. You know the classics of the genre: In 1968, in his bestselling book "The Population Bomb," the eminent scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines--hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." In 1972, in their landmark study "The Limits to Growth," the Club of Rome announced that the world would run out of gold by 1981, of mercury by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and gas by 1993.

None of these things happened. In fact, quite the opposite is happening. We're pretty much awash in resources, but we're running out of people--the one truly indispensable resource, without which none of the others matter. Russia's the most obvious example: it's the largest country on earth, it's full of natural resources, and yet it's dying--its population is falling calamitously.
The default mode of our elites is that anything that happens--from terrorism to tsunamis--can be understood only as deriving from the perniciousness of Western civilization. As Jean-Francois Revel wrote, "Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."

And even though none of the prognostications of the eco-doom blockbusters of the 1970s came to pass, all that means is that 30 years on, the end of the world has to be rescheduled. The amended estimated time of arrival is now 2032. That's to say, in 2002, the United Nations Global Environmental Outlook predicted "the destruction of 70 percent of the natural world in thirty years, mass extinction of species. . . . More than half the world will be afflicted by water shortages, with 95 percent of people in the Middle East with severe problems . . . 25 percent of all species of mammals and 10 percent of birds will be extinct . . ."

Etc., etc., for 450 pages. Or to cut to the chase, as the Guardian headlined it, "Unless We Change Our Ways, The World Faces Disaster."

Well, here's my prediction for 2032: unless we change our ways the world faces a future . . . where the environment will look pretty darn good. If you're a tree or a rock, you'll be living in clover. It's the Italians and the Swedes who'll be facing extinction and the loss of their natural habitat.

There will be no environmental doomsday. Oil, carbon dioxide emissions, deforestation: none of these things is worth worrying about. What's worrying is that we spend so much time worrying about things that aren't worth worrying about that we don't worry about the things we should be worrying about. For 30 years, we've had endless wake-up calls for things that aren't worth waking up for. But for the very real, remorseless shifts in our society--the ones truly jeopardizing our future--we're sound asleep. The world is changing dramatically right now, and hysterical experts twitter about a hypothetical decrease in the Antarctic krill that might conceivably possibly happen so far down the road there are unlikely to be any Italian or Japanese enviro-worriers left alive to be devastated by it.

In a globalized economy, the environmentalists want us to worry about First World capitalism imposing its ways on bucolic, pastoral, primitive Third World backwaters. Yet, insofar as "globalization" is a threat, the real danger is precisely the opposite--that the peculiarities of the backwaters can leap instantly to the First World. Pigs are valued assets and sleep in the living room in rural China--and next thing you know an unknown respiratory disease is killing people in Toronto, just because someone got on a plane. That's the way to look at Islamism: We fret about McDonald's and Disney, but the big globalization success story is the way the Saudis have taken what was 80 years ago a severe but obscure and unimportant strain of Islam practiced by Bedouins of no fixed abode and successfully exported it to the heart of Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Manchester, Buffalo . . .

What's the better bet? A globalization that exports cheeseburgers and pop songs or a globalization that exports the fiercest aspects of its culture? When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2006, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 (or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management and Queer Studies degrees). And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they're running out a lot faster than the oil is. "Replacement" fertility rate--i.e., the number you need for merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any smaller--is 2.1 babies per woman. Some countries are well above that: the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan 6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?
Scroll way down to the bottom of the Hot One Hundred top breeders and you'll eventually find the United States, hovering just at replacement rate with 2.07 births per woman. Ireland is 1.87, New Zealand 1.79, Australia 1.76. But Canada's fertility rate is down to 1.5, well below replacement rate; Germany and Austria are at 1.3, the brink of the death spiral; Russia and Italy are at 1.2; Spain 1.1, about half replacement rate. That's to say, Spain's population is halving every generation. By 2050, Italy's population will have fallen by 22%, Bulgaria's by 36%, Estonia's by 52%. In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: In the 2004 election, John Kerry won the 16 with the lowest birthrates; George W. Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest. By 2050, there will be 100 million fewer Europeans, 100 million more Americans--and mostly red-state Americans.

As fertility shrivels, societies get older--and Japan and much of Europe are set to get older than any functioning societies have ever been. And we know what comes after old age. These countries are going out of business--unless they can find the will to change their ways. Is that likely? I don't think so. If you look at European election results--most recently in Germany--it's hard not to conclude that, while voters are unhappy with their political establishments, they're unhappy mainly because they resent being asked to reconsider their government benefits and, no matter how unaffordable they may be a generation down the road, they have no intention of seriously reconsidering them. The Scottish executive recently backed down from a proposal to raise the retirement age of Scottish public workers. It's presently 60, which is nice but unaffordable. But the reaction of the average Scots worker is that that's somebody else's problem. The average German worker now puts in 22% fewer hours per year than his American counterpart, and no politician who wishes to remain electorally viable will propose closing the gap in any meaningful way.

This isn't a deep-rooted cultural difference between the Old World and the New. It dates back all the way to, oh, the 1970s. If one wanted to allocate blame, one could argue that it's a product of the U.S. military presence, the American security guarantee that liberated European budgets: instead of having to spend money on guns, they could concentrate on butter, and buttering up the voters. If Washington's problem with Europe is that these are not serious allies, well, whose fault is that? Who, in the years after the Second World War, created NATO as a postmodern military alliance? The "free world," as the Americans called it, was a free ride for everyone else. And having been absolved from the primal responsibilities of nationhood, it's hardly surprising that European nations have little wish to reshoulder them. In essence, the lavish levels of public health care on the Continent are subsidized by the American taxpayer. And this long-term softening of large sections of the West makes them ill-suited to resisting a primal force like Islam.

There is no "population bomb." There never was. Birthrates are declining all over the world--eventually every couple on the planet may decide to opt for the Western yuppie model of one designer baby at the age of 39. But demographics is a game of last man standing. The groups that succumb to demographic apathy last will have a huge advantage. Even in 1968 Paul Ehrlich and his ilk should have understood that their so-called population explosion was really a massive population adjustment. Of the increase in global population between 1970 and 2000, the developed world accounted for under 9% of it, while the Muslim world accounted for 26%. Between 1970 and 2000, the developed world declined from just under 30% of the world's population to just over 20%, the Muslim nations increased from about 15% to 20%.

Nineteen seventy doesn't seem that long ago. If you're the age many of the chaps running the Western world today are wont to be, your pants are narrower than they were back then and your hair's less groovy, but the landscape of your life--the look of your house, the layout of your car, the shape of your kitchen appliances, the brand names of the stuff in the fridge--isn't significantly different. Aside from the Internet and the cell phone and the CD, everything in your world seems pretty much the same but slightly modified.

And yet the world is utterly altered. Just to recap those bald statistics: In 1970, the developed world had twice as big a share of the global population as the Muslim world: 30% to 15%. By 2000, they were the same: each had about 20%.

And by 2020?

So the world's people are a lot more Islamic than they were back then and a lot less "Western." Europe is significantly more Islamic, having taken in during that period some 20 million Muslims (officially)--or the equivalents of the populations of four European Union countries (Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and Estonia). Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the West: In the U.K., more Muslims than Christians attend religious services each week.

Can these trends continue for another 30 years without having consequences? Europe by the end of this century will be a continent after the neutron bomb: The grand buildings will still be standing, but the people who built them will be gone. We are living through a remarkable period: the self-extinction of the races who, for good or ill, shaped the modern world.

What will Europe be like at the end of this process? Who knows? On the one hand, there's something to be said for the notion that America will find an Islamified Europe more straightforward to deal with than M. Chirac, Herr Schroeder & Co. On the other hand, given Europe's track record, getting there could be very bloody. But either way this is the real battlefield. The al Qaeda nutters can never find enough suicidal pilots to fly enough planes into enough skyscrapers to topple America. But unlike us, the Islamists think long-term, and, given their demographic advantage in Europe and the tone of the emerging Muslim lobby groups there, much of what they're flying planes into buildings for they're likely to wind up with just by waiting a few more years. The skyscrapers will be theirs; why knock 'em over?
The latter half of the decline and fall of great civilizations follows a familiar pattern: affluence, softness, decadence, extinction. You don't notice yourself slipping through those stages because usually there's a seductive pol on hand to provide the age with a sly, self-deluding slogan--like Bill Clinton's "It's about the future of all our children." We on the right spent the 1990s gleefully mocking Mr. Clinton's tedious invocation, drizzled like syrup over everything from the Kosovo war to highway appropriations. But most of the rest of the West can't even steal his lame bromides: A society that has no children has no future.

Permanence is the illusion of every age. In 1913, no one thought the Russian, Austrian, German and Turkish empires would be gone within half a decade. Seventy years on, all those fellows who dismissed Reagan as an "amiable dunce" (in Clark Clifford's phrase) assured us the Soviet Union was likewise here to stay. The CIA analysts' position was that East Germany was the ninth biggest economic power in the world. In 1987 there was no rash of experts predicting the imminent fall of the Berlin Wall, the Warsaw Pact and the USSR itself.

Yet, even by the minimal standards of these wretched precedents, so-called post-Christian civilizations--as a prominent EU official described his continent to me--are more prone than traditional societies to mistake the present tense for a permanent feature. Religious cultures have a much greater sense of both past and future, as we did a century ago, when we spoke of death as joining "the great majority" in "the unseen world." But if secularism's starting point is that this is all there is, it's no surprise that, consciously or not, they invest the here and now with far greater powers of endurance than it's ever had. The idea that progressive Euro-welfarism is the permanent resting place of human development was always foolish; we now know that it's suicidally so.

To avoid collapse, European nations will need to take in immigrants at a rate no stable society has ever attempted. The CIA is predicting the EU will collapse by 2020. Given that the CIA's got pretty much everything wrong for half a century, that would suggest the EU is a shoo-in to be the colossus of the new millennium. But even a flop spook is right twice a generation. If anything, the date of EU collapse is rather a cautious estimate. It seems more likely that within the next couple of European election cycles, the internal contradictions of the EU will manifest themselves in the usual way, and that by 2010 we'll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on American network news every night. Even if they avoid that, the idea of a childless Europe ever rivaling America militarily or economically is laughable. Sometime this century there will be 500 million Americans, and what's left in Europe will either be very old or very Muslim. Japan faces the same problem: Its population is already in absolute decline, the first gentle slope of a death spiral it will be unlikely ever to climb out of. Will Japan be an economic powerhouse if it's populated by Koreans and Filipinos? Very possibly. Will Germany if it's populated by Algerians? That's a trickier proposition.

Best-case scenario? The Continent winds up as Vienna with Swedish tax rates.

Worst-case scenario: Sharia, circa 2040; semi-Sharia, a lot sooner--and we're already seeing a drift in that direction.

In July 2003, speaking to the U.S. Congress, Tony Blair remarked: "As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible but, in fact, it is transient. The question is: What do you leave behind?"

Excellent question. Britannia will never again wield the unrivalled power she enjoyed at her imperial apogee, but the Britannic inheritance endures, to one degree or another, in many of the key regional players in the world today--Australia, India, South Africa--and in dozens of island statelets from the Caribbean to the Pacific. If China ever takes its place as an advanced nation, it will be because the People's Republic learns more from British Hong Kong than Hong Kong learns from the Little Red Book. And of course the dominant power of our time derives its political character from 18th-century British subjects who took English ideas a little further than the mother country was willing to go.
A decade and a half after victory in the Cold War and end-of-history triumphalism, the "what do you leave behind?" question is more urgent than most of us expected. "The West," as a concept, is dead, and the West, as a matter of demographic fact, is dying.

What will London--or Paris, or Amsterdam--be like in the mid-'30s? If European politicians make no serious attempt this decade to wean the populace off their unsustainable 35-hour weeks, retirement at 60, etc., then to keep the present level of pensions and health benefits the EU will need to import so many workers from North Africa and the Middle East that it will be well on its way to majority Muslim by 2035. As things stand, Muslims are already the primary source of population growth in English cities. Can a society become increasingly Islamic in its demographic character without becoming increasingly Islamic in its political character?

This ought to be the left's issue. I'm a conservative--I'm not entirely on board with the Islamist program when it comes to beheading sodomites and so on, but I agree Britney Spears dresses like a slut: I'm with Mullah Omar on that one. Why then, if your big thing is feminism or abortion or gay marriage, are you so certain that the cult of tolerance will prevail once the biggest demographic in your society is cheerfully intolerant? Who, after all, are going to be the first victims of the West's collapsed birthrates? Even if one were to take the optimistic view that Europe will be able to resist the creeping imposition of Sharia currently engulfing Nigeria, it remains the case that the Muslim world is not notable for setting much store by "a woman's right to choose," in any sense.
I watched that big abortion rally in Washington in 2004, where Ashley Judd and Gloria Steinem were cheered by women waving "Keep your Bush off my bush" placards, and I thought it was the equivalent of a White Russian tea party in 1917. By prioritizing a "woman's right to choose," Western women are delivering their societies into the hands of fellows far more patriarchal than a 1950s sitcom dad. If any of those women marching for their "reproductive rights" still have babies, they might like to ponder demographic realities: A little girl born today will be unlikely, at the age of 40, to be free to prance around demonstrations in Eurabian Paris or Amsterdam chanting "Hands off my bush!"

Just before the 2004 election, that eminent political analyst Cameron Diaz appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to explain what was at stake:

"Women have so much to lose. I mean, we could lose the right to our bodies. . . . If you think that rape should be legal, then don't vote. But if you think that you have a right to your body," she advised Oprah's viewers, "then you should vote."

Poor Cameron. A couple of weeks later, the scary people won. She lost all rights to her body. Unlike Alec Baldwin, she couldn't even move to France. Her body was grounded in Terminal D.

But, after framing the 2004 presidential election as a referendum on the right to rape, Miss Diaz might be interested to know that men enjoy that right under many Islamic legal codes around the world. In his book "The Empty Cradle," Philip Longman asks: "So where will the children of the future come from? Increasingly they will come from people who are at odds with the modern world. Such a trend, if sustained, could drive human culture off its current market-driven, individualistic, modernist course, gradually creating an anti-market culture dominated by fundamentalism--a new Dark Ages."

Bottom line for Cameron Diaz: There are worse things than John Ashcroft out there.

Mr. Longman's point is well taken. The refined antennae of Western liberals mean that whenever one raises the question of whether there will be any Italians living in the geographical zone marked as Italy a generation or three hence, they cry, "Racism!" To fret about what proportion of the population is "white" is grotesque and inappropriate. But it's not about race, it's about culture. If 100% of your population believes in liberal pluralist democracy, it doesn't matter whether 70% of them are "white" or only 5% are. But if one part of your population believes in liberal pluralist democracy and the other doesn't, then it becomes a matter of great importance whether the part that does is 90% of the population or only 60%, 50%, 45%.

Since the president unveiled the so-called Bush Doctrine--the plan to promote liberty throughout the Arab world--innumerable "progressives" have routinely asserted that there's no evidence Muslims want liberty and, indeed, that Islam is incompatible with democracy. If that's true, it's a problem not for the Middle East today but for Europe the day after tomorrow. According to a poll taken in 2004, over 60% of British Muslims want to live under Shariah--in the United Kingdom. If a population "at odds with the modern world" is the fastest-breeding group on the planet--if there are more Muslim nations, more fundamentalist Muslims within those nations, more and more Muslims within non-Muslim nations, and more and more Muslims represented in more and more transnational institutions--how safe a bet is the survival of the "modern world"?

Not good.

"What do you leave behind?" asked Tony Blair. There will only be very few and very old ethnic Germans and French and Italians by the midpoint of this century. What will they leave behind? Territories that happen to bear their names and keep up some of the old buildings? Or will the dying European races understand that the only legacy that matters is whether the peoples who will live in those lands after them are reconciled to pluralist, liberal democracy? It's the demography, stupid. And, if they can't muster the will to change course, then "What do you leave behind?" is the only question that matters.

Mr. Steyn is a syndicated columnist and theater critic for The New Criterion, in whose January issue this article appears.


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« Reply #218 on: January 04, 2006, 03:43:28 AM »

Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 1)
By Marc Erikson

[Editor's note: As distinct from the world religion of Islam, Islamism - as in part contextually defined below - is a political ideology that adherents would apply to contemporary governance and politics, and which they propagate through political and social activism.]

On November 7, 2001, on the request of the US government, the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office froze the bank accounts of Nada Management, a Lugano-based financial services and consulting firm, and ordered a search and seizure raid on the firm's offices. Police pulled in several of the company's principals for questioning. Nada Management, part of the international al-Taqwa ("fear of God") group, is accused by US Treasury Department investigators of having acted for years as advisers and a funding conduit for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda.

Among those interrogated by police was a certain Albert Friedrich Armand (aka Ahmed) Huber, 74, a Swiss convert to Islam and retired journalist who sits on the Nada board of directors. Nothing too unusual perhaps, except for the fact that Huber is also a high-profile neo-Nazi who tirelessly travels the far-right circuit in Europe and the United States. He sees himself as a mediator between radical Islam and what he calls the New Right. Since September 11, a picture of Osama bin Laden hangs next to one of Adolf Hitler on the wall of his study in Muri just outside the Swiss capital of Bern. September 11, says Huber, brought the radical Islam-New Right alliance together.

On that, as his own career amply demonstrates, he is largely wrong. Last year's horrific terrorist acts were gleefully celebrated by Islamists and neo-Nazis alike (Huber boozed it up with young followers in a Bern bar) and may have produced closer links. But Islamism and fascism have a long, over 80-year history of collaboration based on shared ideas, practices and perceived common enemies. They abhor "Western decadence" (political liberalism, capitalism), fight holy wars - if needs be suicidal ones - by indiscriminate means, and are bent on the destruction of the Jews and of America and its allies.

Horst Mahler - once a lawyer for, later a member of, the 1960s/'70s German ultra-left terrorist Baader-Meinhof gang, and now a leading neo-Nazi - summed up convergent radical Islamic and far-right views and hopes in a September 21, 2001 letter: "The USA - or, to be more exact, the World Police - has shown itself to be vulnerable ... The foreseeable reaction of the East Coast [= the Jewish controllers and their gentile allies = the US Establishment] can be the spark that falls into a powder keg. For decades, the jihad - the Holy War - has been the agenda of the Islamic world against the 'Western value system.' This time it could break out in earnest ... It would be world war, that is won with the dagger ... The Anglo-American and European employees of the 'global players,' dispersed throughout the entire world, are - as Osama bin Laden proclaimed a long while ago - military targets. These would be attacked by dagger, where they least expected an attack. Only a few need be liquidated in this manner; the survivors will run off like hares into their respective home countries, where they belong."

Such convergence of views, methods and goals goes back to the 1920s when both Islamism and fascism, ideologically pre-shaped in the late 19th century, emerged as organized political movements with the ultimate aim of seizing state power and imposing their ideological and social policy precepts (in which aims fascism, of course, succeeded in the early '20s and '30s in Italy and Germany, respectively; Islamism only in 1979 in Iran; then in Sudan and Afghanistan). Both movements claim to be the true representatives of some arcane, idealized religious or ethnically pure communities of days long past - in the case of Islamism, the period of the four "righteous caliphs" (632-662), notably the rule of Umar bin al-Khattab (634-44) which allegedly exemplifies "din wa dawla", the unity of religion and state; in the case of the Nazis, the even more obscure Aryan "Volksgemeinschaft", with no historical reference point at all. But both are in reality - as historian Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, puts it - 20th century outgrowths, radical movements, utopian and totalitarian in their outlook. The Iranian scholars Ladan and Roya Boroumand have made the same point.

The Nazi ("national socialist") movement was formed in reaction to the World War I destruction of the "Second Reich", the "unequal and treasonous" Versailles Treaty and the mass social dislocation that followed, its racialist, corporatist ideology laid out in Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Struggle). The Muslim Brotherhood (Al Ikhwan Al Muslimun), parent organization of numerous Islamist terrorist outfits, was formed in 1928 in reaction to the 1924 abolition of the caliphate by Turkish reformer Kemal Ataturk, drawing the consequences of the World War I demise of the Ottoman Empire. Ikhwan founder Hassan al-Banna, an Egyptian school teacher, wrote at the time that it was endless contemplation of "the sickness that has reduced the ummah (Muslim community) to its present state" which prompted him and five like-minded followers - all of them in their early twenties - to set up the organization to rectify it.

Fascist Nazi history need not be dwelt on further here. It led to the horrors and destruction of World War II and the Holocaust. Neo-Nazism, whether in Europe or the US, remains a terrorist threat and - as the French Le Pen version demonstrated in parliamentary elections this year - retains a measure of political clout. It is nonetheless a boxed-in niche force with little capability for break-out. Its ideological twin, Islamism, by sharp contrast, has every chance for wreaking escalating world-wide havoc based on its fast-growing influence among the world's more than one billion Muslims. Immediately following September 11 last year, US President George W Bush declared war on terrorism. It's a catchy phrase, but a serious misnomer all the same. Terrorism is a method of warfare, not the enemy. The enemy is Islamism.

Al-Banna's brotherhood, initially limiting itself to spiritual and moral reform, grew at astonishing speed in the 1930s and '40s after embracing wider political goals and by the end of World War II had around 500,000 members in Egypt alone and branches throughout the Middle East. Event background, ideology, and method of organizing all account for its improbable success. As the war drew to a close, the time was ripe for an end to British and French colonial rule and the Ikhwan was ready with the persuasive, religiously-buttressed answer: Free the Islamic homeland from foreign, infidel (kafir) control; establish a unified Islamic state. And al-Banna had built a formidable organization to accomplish just that: it featured sophisticated governance structures, sections in charge of different segments of society (peasants, workers, professionals), units entrusted with key functions (propaganda, press relations, translation, liaison with the Islamic world), and specialized committees for finances and legal affairs - all built on existing social networks, in particular those around mosques and Islamic welfare associations. Weaving of traditional ties into a distinctly modern political structure was at the root of al-Banna's success..

But the "Supreme Guide" of the brethren knew that faith, good works and numbers alone do not a political victory make. Thus, modeled on Mussolini's blackshirts (al-Banna much admired "Il Duce" and soul brother "Fuehrer" Adolf Hitler), he set up a paramilitary wing (slogan: "action, obedience, silence", quite superior to the blackshirts' "believe, obey, fight") and a "secret apparatus" (al-jihaz al-sirri) and intelligence arm of al-Ikhwan to handle the dirtier side - terrorist attacks, assassinations, and so on - of the struggle for power.

In 1948, after the brotherhood had played a pivotal role in mobilizing volunteers to fight in the war against "the Zionists" in Palestine to prevent establishment of a Jewish state, it considered itself to have the credibility, political clout, and military might to launch a coup d'etat against the Egyptian monarchy. But that wasn't to be. On December 8, 1948, a watchful Prime Minister Nuqrashi Pasha disbanded it. He wasn't watchful enough. Less than three weeks later, the brethren retaliated by assassinating the prime minister - in turn prompting the assassination of al-Banna by government agents on February 12, 1949.

That didn't end it. Under a new, more radical leader, Sayyid Qutb, the al-Ikhwan fight for state power continued and escalated. A mid-1960s recruit was Ayman al-Zawahiri, present number two man of al-Qaeda and the brains of the organization.

(?2002 Asia Times Online Co Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

Next, Part 2: The World War II Nazi connections of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological precursors of Islamism, and its present-day exponents and financiers.  

Middle East  

Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 2)
By Marc Erikson

     Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 1) (Nov 5, '02)

Osama bin Laden has the money, proven organizational skills, combat experience, and the charisma that can confer the air of wisdom and profundity even on inchoate or trivial utterances and let what's unfathomable appear to be deep in the eyes of his followers. But he's no intellectual. The brains of al-Qaeda and its chief ideologue by most accounts is Egyptian physician Ayman al-Zawahiri, 51, the organization's number two man and former head of the Egyptian al-Jihad, which was merged with bin Laden's outfit in February 1998 to form the "International Front for Fighting Jews and Crusaders".

Al-Zawahiri hails from an elite Egyptian family. His father was a professor at Cairo University's medical school from which Ayman graduated in 1974. His paternal grandfather was the Grand Imam at the al-Azhar Institute, Sunni Islam's paramount seat of learning. His great-uncle, Abdel-Rahman Azzam, was the first secretary-general of the Arab League.

Such family background notwithstanding, perhaps because of it, al-Zawahiri joined the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun) as a young boy and was for the first time arrested in 1966 at age 15, when the secular government of President Gamal Abdel Nasser rounded up thousands of al-Ikhwan members and executed its top leaders in retribution for repeated assassination attempts on the president. One of those executed by hanging was chief ideologue Sayyid Qutb. Al-Zawahiri is Qutb's intellectual heir; he has further developed his message, and is putting it into practise.

But without Qutb, present-day Islamism as a noxious amalgam of fascist totalitarianism and extremes of Islamic fundamentalism would not exist. His principal "accomplishment" was to articulate the social and political practices of the Muslim Brotherhood from the 1930s through the 1950s - including collaboration with fascist regimes and organizations, involvement in anti-colonial, anti-Western and anti-Israeli actions, and the struggle for state power in Egypt - in demagogically persuasive fashion, buttressed by tendentious references to Islamic law and scriptures to deceive the faithful. Qutb, a one-time literary critic, was not a religious fundamentalist, but a Goebbels-style propagandist for a new totalitarianism to stand side-by-side with fascism and communism.

Hitler's early 1933 accession to power in Germany was widely cheered by Arabs of all different political persuasions. When the "Third Reich" spook and horrors were over 12 years later, a favorite excuse among those who felt the need for one was that the Nazis had been allies against the colonial oppressors and "Zionist intruders". Many felt no need for an excuse at all and simply bemoaned the fact that the Nazis' "final solution" to the "Jewish problem" had not proved final enough. But affinities with fascism on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood and other segments of Arab and Muslim society went much deeper than collaboration with the enemy of one's enemies, and collaboration itself took some extreme forms.

Substitute religious for racial purity, the idealized ummah of the rule of the four righteous caliphs of the mid-7th century for the mythical Aryan "Volksgemeinschaft", and most ideological and organizational precepts of Nazism laid out by chief theoretician Alfred Rosenberg in his work The Myth of the 20th Century and by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, and later put into practice, are in all essential respects identical to the precepts of the Muslim Brotherhood after its initial phase as a group promoting spiritual and moral reform. This ranges from radical rejection of "decadent" Western political and economic liberalism (instead embracing the "leadership principle" and corporatist organization of the economy) to endorsement of the use of terror and assassinations to seize and hold state power, and all the way to concoction of fantastical anti-Semitic conspiracy theories linking international plutocratic finance to Freemasonry, Zionism and all-encompassing Jewish world control.

Not surprisingly then, as Italian and German fascism sought greater stakes in the Middle East in the 1930s and '40s to counter British and French controlling power, close collaboration between fascist agents and Islamist leaders ensued. During the 1936-39 Arab Revolt, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence, sent agents and money to support the Palestine uprising against the British, as did Muslim Brotherhood founder and "supreme guide" Hassan al-Banna. A key individual in the fascist-Islamist nexus and go-between for the Nazis and al-Banna became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini - incidentally the later mentor (from 1946 onward) of a young firebrand by the name of Yasser Arafat.

Having fled from Palestine to Iraq, el-Husseini assisted there in the short-lived April 1941 Nazi-inspired and financed anti-British coup. By June 1941, British forces had reasserted control in Baghdad and the mufti was on the run again, this time via Tehran and Rome to Berlin, to a hero's welcome. He remained in Germany as an honored guest and valuable intelligence and propaganda asset through most of the war, met with Hitler on several occasions, and personally recruited leading members of the Bosnian-Muslim "Hanjar" (saber) division of the Waffen SS.

Another valued World War II Nazi collaborator was Youssef Nada, current board chairman of al-Taqwa (Nada Management), the Lugano, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Bahamas-based financial services outfit accused by the US Treasury Department of money laundering for and financing of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda. As a young man, he had joined the armed branch of the "secret apparatus" (al-jihaz al-sirri) of the Muslim Brotherhood and then was recruited by German military intelligence. When Grand Mufti el-Husseini had to flee Germany in 1945 as the Nazi defeat loomed, Nada reportedly was instrumental in arranging the escape via Switzerland back to Egypt and eventually Palestine, where el-Husseini resurfaced in 1946.


Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 3)
By Marc Erikson

Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 1)

Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 2)

Islamism, or fascism with an Islamic face, was born with and of the Muslim Brotherhood. It proved (and improved) its fascist core convictions and practices through collaboration with the Nazis in the run-up to and during World War II. It proved it during the same period through its collaboration with the overtly fascist "Young Egypt" (Misr al-Fatah) movement, founded in October 1933 by lawyer Ahmed Hussein and modeled directly on the Hitler party, complete with paramilitary Green Shirts aping the Nazi Brown Shirts, Nazi salute and literal translations of Nazi slogans. Among its members, Young Egypt counted two promising youngsters and later presidents, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar El-Sadat.

In later years, the Brotherhood had serious fallings-out with Nasser, whom it attempted to assassinate on several different occasions, and with Sadat, whom it did assassinate in 1981. But up until at least the time of Nasser's 1952 coup d'etat, all was sweetness and light between Hassan al-Banna's brethren and Nasser's "free officers". In his personal diary, Sadat wrote in the summer of 1940:

"One day I invited Hassan al-Banna, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the army camp where I served, in the Egyptian Communication Corps, so that he might lecture before my soldiers on various religious topics. A few days before his scheduled appearance it was reported to me from army Intelligence that his coming was forbidden and canceled by the order of General Headquarters, and I myself was summoned for interrogation. After a short while I went secretly to El Bana's office and participated in a few seminars he organized. I like the man and admired him."

Whether al-Banna, who had already been in contact with German agents since the 1936-39 Palestine uprising against the British, or someone else introduced Sadat and his free officer comrades to German military intelligence is not known. But in the summer of 1942, when Rommel's Afrikakorps stood just over 100 kilometers from Alexandria and were poised to march into Cairo, Sadat, Nasser and their buddies were in close touch with the German attacking force and - with Brotherhood help - preparing an anti-British uprising in Egypt's capital. A treaty with Germany including provisions for German recognition of an independent, but pro-Axis Egypt had been drafted by Sadat, guaranteeing that "no British soldier would leave Cairo alive". When Rommel's push east failed at El Alamein in the fall of 1942, Sadat and several of his co-conspirators were arrested by the British and sat out much of the remainder of the war in jail.

Islamist-fascist collaboration did not cease with war's end. King Farouk brought large numbers of German military and intelligence personnel as well as ranking (ex-) Nazis into Egypt as advisors. It was a bad move. Several of the Germans, recognizing Farouk's political weakness, soon began conspiring with Nasser and his free officers (who, in turn, were working closely with the Brotherhood) to overthrow the king. On July 23, 1952, the deed was done and Newsweek marveled that, "The most intriguing aspect [of] the revolt ... was the role played in the coup by the large group of German advisors serving with the Egyptian army ... The young officers who did the actual planning consulted the German advisors as to 'tactics' ... This accounted for the smoothness of the operation."

And yet another player fond of playing all sides against the middle had entered the game prior to Farouk's ouster: In 1951, the CIA's Kermit Roosevelt (grandson of president Teddy, who in 1953 would organize the overthrow of elected Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh and install Reza Pahlavi as Shah) opened secret negotiations with Nasser. Agreement was soon reached that the US, post-coup, would assist in building up Egypt's intelligence and security forces - in the obvious manner, by reinforcing Nasser's existing Germans with additional, "more capable", ones. For that, CIA head Allen Dulles turned to Reinhard Gehlen, one-time head of eastern front German military intelligence and by the early 1950s in charge of developing a new German foreign intelligence service. Gehlen hired the best man he knew for the job - former SS colonel Otto Skorzeny, who at the end of the war had organized the infamous ODESSA network to facilitate the escape of high-ranking Nazis to Latin America (mainly Peron's Argentina) and Egypt. With Skorzeny now on the job of assisting Nasser, Egypt became a safe haven for Nazi war criminals galore. The CIA officer in charge of the Egypt assistance program was Miles Copeland, soon a Nasser intimate.

And then things got truly complicated and messy. Having played a large role in Nasser's power grab, the Muslim Brotherhood, after the 1949 assassination of Hassan al-Banna by government agents [see part 1] under new leadership and (since 1951) under the radical ideological guidance of Sayyid Qutb, demanded its due - imposition of Sharia (Islamic religious) law. When Nasser demurred, he became a Brotherhood assassination target, but with CIA and the German mercenaries' help he prevailed. In February 1954, the Brotherhood was banned. An October 1954 assassination attempt failed. Four thousand brothers were arrested, six were executed, and thousands fled to Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon.

Within short order, things got more tangled still: As Nasser in his brewing fight with Britain and France over control of the Suez Canal turned to the Soviet Union for assistance and arms purchases, the CIA approached and began collaboration with the Brotherhood against their ex-ally, the now pro-Soviet Nasser.

We leave that twisted tale at this stage. A leading Brotherhood member arrested in 1954 was Sayyid Qutb. He spent the next 10 years in Jarah prison near Cairo and there wrote the tracts that subsequently became (and till this day remain) must-reading and guidance for Islamists everywhere. (The main translations into Farsi were made by the Rahbar of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.) But while brother number one went to jail, other leading members who had escaped were given jobs in Saudi universities and provided with royal funding. They included Sayyid's brother Muhammad and Abdullah al-Azzam, the radical Palestinian preacher (the "Emir of Jihad") who later in Peshawar, Pakistan, founded the Maktab al-Khidamat, or Office of Services, which became the core of the al-Qaeda network. As a student at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Osama bin Laden, son of Muhammad bin Laden, the kingdom's wealthiest contractor and close friend of King Faisal, became a disciple of Muhammad Qutb and al-Azzam.

Sayyid Qutb was born in 1906 in a small village in Upper Egypt, was educated at a secular college, and subsequently worked as an inspector of schools for the ministry of education. In the 1930s and 1940s, nothing pointed to his later role. He wrote literary criticism, hung out in coffee houses, and published a novel which flopped. His conversion to radical Islam came during two-and-a-half years of graduate studies in education in the United States (1948-51). He came to hate everything American, described churches as "entertainment centers and sexual playgrounds", was shocked by the freedom allowed to women, and immediately upon his return to Egypt joined the Muslim Brotherhood and assumed the position of editor-in-chief of the organization's newspaper.

While in jail, Qutb wrote a 30-volume (!) commentary on the Koran; but his most influential book, published in 1965 after his 1964 release from prison for health reasons, was Ma'alim fi'l-tariq ("Signposts on the Road", also translated as "Milestones"). In it, he revised Hassan al-Banna's concept of establishing an Islamic state in Egypt after the nation was thoroughly Islamized, advocating instead - fascist or Bolshevik-style - that a revolutionary vanguard should first seize state power and then impose Islamization from above. Trouble is, this recipe went against the unambiguous Muslim prohibition against overthrowing a Muslim ruler.

Qutb found his clue to resolving the dilemma in the writings of his Pakistani contemporary, Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903-79), founder in 1941 of the Jamaat-i-Islami, who had denounced the existing political order in Muslim societies as partial jahiliyyah - resembling the state of unenlightened savagery, ignorance and idolatry of pre-Islamic Arab societies. There was nothing "partial" about the jahiliyyah of the existing order, nothing that could be redeemed, pronounced Qutb: "... a society whose legislation does not rest on divine law ... is not Muslim, however ardently its individuals may proclaim themselves Muslim, even if they pray, fast and make the pilgrimage ... jahiliyyah ... takes the form of claiming the right to create values, to legislate rules of collective behavior and to choose any way of life that rests with me, without regard to what God has prescribed."

Only uncompromising restoration of the ideal of the union of religion and state as evidenced during the 7th century reign of the "righteous caliphs" would do. Islam was a complete system of life not in need of man-made additions. Any ruler, Muslim or otherwise, standing in the way could be justifiably removed - by any means.

This, naturally, applied to Nasser, and another attempt on his life was made in 1965. Qutb was rearrested, tortured and tried for treason. On August 29, 1966, he was hanged. The charge against him of plotting to establish a Marxist regime in Egypt was ludicrous. Nasser and his minions knew full well that the real danger to the regime stemmed from Qutb's denunciation of it as jahiliyyah, and not from those clauses of his Ma'alim fi'l-tariq which speak of a classless society in which the "selfish individual" and the "exploitation of man by man" would be abolished, which the prosecution cited as evidence against him.

The martyred Qutb's writings rapidly acquired wide acceptance in the Arab world, especially after the ignominious defeat of the Arabs in the June 1967 "Six Day War" with Israel, taken as proof of the depth of depravity to which the regimes in the Muslim realm had sunk.

To come: Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 4)


Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 4)
By Marc Erikson

Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 1)

Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 2)

Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 3)

An early convert to Sayyid Qutb's new-fangled fascist Islamism which condones, indeed commands, terrorism and murder was the alleged number two man of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. [see part 2]. Having joined the Muslim Brotherhood at age 15, he was caught in the Nasser dragnet after the 1965 assassination attempt on the Egyptian leader and - young age and elite family background notwithstanding - was thrown in jail. An April 1968 amnesty freed most of the brethren, and Ayman, in that regard following in his father's footsteps, went on to Cairo University to become a physician. He obtained his degree in 1974 and practiced medicine for several years.

His profession, however, was not his calling. By the late 1970s, he was back full-time in the Islamist revolution business agitating against the Egypt-Israel peace treaty (concluded in 1979). In 1980, on the introduction by military intelligence officer Abbud al-Zumar, he became a leading member of the Jama'at al-Jihad of Muhammad Abd-al-Salam Faraj which on October 6, 1981, assassinated President Anwar El Sadat while he was reviewing a military parade.

Faraj, like al-Zawahiri, had been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but became disenchanted with its passivity. In 1979, he penned a short pamphlet titled "The Neglected Obligation" (al-Farida al-Gha'ibah), which relied heavily on the ideas of Sayyid Qutb. It became the founding document of al-Jihad, arguing along the familiar lines that acceptance of a government was only possible and legitimate when that government fully implemented Sharia, or Islamic law. Contemporary Egypt had not done so, and was thus suffering from jahiliyya. Jihad to rectify this, wrote Faraj, was not only the "neglected obligation" of Muslims, but in fact their most important duty.

Following the Sadat assassination, al-Zawahiri was arrested on a minor weapons possession charge and spent three years in jail. In 1985 he left Egypt for Saudi Arabia and later Peshawar, Pakistan, where he was joined by Muhammad al-Islambuli, the brother of one of Sadat's five assassins, 24-year-old artillery lieutenant Khalid Ahmed Shawki al-Islambuli. There, connections were made with the groups of Palestinian Islamist Abdullah Azzam and the latter's one-time student Osama bin Laden, by then fully engaged (with well-known CIA support) in assisting the mujahideen struggle against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Al-Zawahiri's al-Jihad was in many respects better organized and better trained than other groups in the Afghanistan theater. Prior to the murder of Sadat, it had succeeded in recruiting members of the presidential guard, military intelligence and the civil bureaucracy. Most importantly, it was in possession of a cogent and comprehensive ideology pointing beyond the Afghan struggle against the Soviet occupiers. "Afghanistan should be a platform for the liberation of the entire Muslim world," was the distinguishing creed of al-Jihad.

Al-Zawahiri wrote several books on Islamic movements, the best known of which is The Bitter Harvest (1991/92), a critical assessment of the failings of the Muslim Brotherhood. In it, he draws not only on the writings of Sayyid Qutb to justify murder and terrorism, but prominently references Pakistani Jamaat-i-Islami founder and ideologue Mawdudi on the global mission of Islamic jihad.

Mawdudi had written, "Islam wants the whole earth and does not content itself with only a part thereof. It wants and requires the entire inhabited world. It does not want this in order that one nation dominates the earth and monopolizes its sources of wealth, after having taken them away from one or more other nations. No, Islam wants and requires the earth in order that the human race altogether can enjoy the concept and practical program of human happiness, by means of which God has honored Islam and put it above the other religions and laws. In order to realize this lofty desire, Islam wants to employ all forces and means that can be employed for bringing about a universal all-embracing revolution. It will spare no effort for the achievement of this supreme objective. This far-reaching struggle that continuously exhausts all forces and this employment of all possible means are called jihad."

And further, "Islam is a revolutionary doctrine and system that overturns governments. It seeks to overturn the whole universal social order ... and establish its structure anew ... Islam seeks the world. It is not satisfied by a piece of land but demands the whole universe ... Islamic jihad is at the same time offensive and defensive ... The Islamic party does not hesitate to utilize the means of war to implement its goal."

Not just or even principally the expulsion of the Soviets from Afghanistan or the removal of any one godless Muslim regime, but global jihad as Mawdudi had prescribed, became al-Zawahiri's obsession. And he acted as he had read and written. After several years in Afghanistan and Pakistan, constructing there the platform from which to launch broader pursuits, Zawahiri traveled extensively on Swiss, French and Dutch passports in Western Europe and even the United States on fund-raising, recruiting and reconnaissance missions. Then came initial implementation of the offensive.

It is not known whether he had a hand in the 1993 bombing of the New York World Trade Center. But he had close connections to Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the spiritual leader of the group that carried out the attack. Then, in 1995, he was behind the truck bomb attack on the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan; in November 1997, he led the Vanguards of Conquest group responsible for the Luxor (Egypt) massacre in which 60 foreign tourists were systematically murdered and mutilated; in August 1998, he organized the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and probably, in 2000, the speed-boat bomb attack on the USS Cole in Aden. Israeli intelligence considers him the "operational brains" behind September 11; the fact, in any case, is that the Egyptian Mohammed Atta, principal of the Hamburg, Germany, al-Qaeda cell that was instrumental to the World Trade Center destruction, was a member of Zawahiri's al-Jihad.

Osama bin Laden, as we wrote earlier, had the money, some of the connections, and perhaps the charisma to function as the leader of the al-Qaeda global jihad. But it was not until Zawahiri's al-Jihad in February 1998 formally joined forces with bin Laden that the present global Islamist terrorist threat truly emerged. With his long experience in the Muslim Brotherhood, his critical assessment of its failures, his cunning - albeit highly eclectic - fashioning of a fascist ideology drawing on Islamic religious elements, and his organizational and operational skills, al-Zawahiri is the key personality of global jihad. The key point to understand is that Zawahiri fascist Islamism has seized the ideological initiative in the Muslim world against which traditional Islam has so far proved an impotent, indeed often unwilling, opponent. Young Muslims everywhere are captivated by Zawahiri Islamism and jihad to which they attribute selfless idealism and in which they admire ruthless determination. It will be a long war.

And make no mistake: In this war against a new, ideologically vigorous fascism, collateral assets of the Islamists, the neo-Nazis of the Ahmed Huber variety which we described in part 1 of this series, or - for that matter - Saudi financiers wittingly pushing narrow sectarian Wahhabism upon youths in madrassas worldwide, are key forces in the enemy camp. Islamism as we have portrayed it in its historical and present dimension is a form of fascist madness - the same type of madness which one of Hitler's closest confidants, convicted war criminal Albert Speer, saw during the Fuehrer's final days. In his Spandau prison diary entry for November 18, 1947, Speer recollects:

"I recall how [Hitler] would have films shown in the Reich Chancellory about London burning, about the sea of fire over Warsaw, about exploding convoys, and the kind of ravenous joy that would then seize him every time. But I never saw him so beside himself as when, in a delirium, he pictured New York going down in flames. He described how the skyscrapers would be transformed into gigantic burning torches, how they would collapse in confusion, how the bursting city's reflection would stand against the dark sky."


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World War IV Fundementals
« Reply #219 on: January 16, 2006, 10:10:44 AM »
Wow. Amazing sweep and scope. I am awestruck.

World War IV As Fourth-Generation Warfare

By Tony Corn
Tony Corn served as a political analyst at the U.S. embassies in Bucharest, Moscow, and Paris, and in public diplomacy at the U.S. Missions to the EU and to NATO in Brussels. He is currently the Course Chair of Latin Europe Area Studies at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute. The opinions expressed in this essay are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the point of view of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Four years after the September 11 events, while many of the initial assumptions of the global war on terrorism (GWOT) have undergone an agonizing reappraisal, a new Washington consensus about the nature of the challenge facing the West and the moderate Muslim world has yet to emerge. Can the notoriously dysfunctional interagency process ever be fixed by organizational tinkering alone, without the elaboration of a common conceptual ground? However lively it may be at times, the Beltway?s ongoing ?Operation Infinite Conversation? is no substitute for strategizing.

Does it make sense to keep framing the issue in terms of ?terrorism? when the enemy itself, taking a leaf from the book of the most advanced American strategists, talks about ?fourth-generation warfare?? At the working level, federal agency officers from DOD, DOS, DHS, AID and the intelligence community come to the GWOT with heterogeneous concepts, doctrines, lenses, frames of reference, metrics, etc. and talk past one another ? when they don?t end up working at cross purposes.

Contrary to what is often argued, the main problem lies not so much in the difference of organizational culture between law enforcement and national security agencies as in the disconnect between the two lead foreign affairs agencies ? the Pentagon and the State Department. In a nutshell: While there is no shortage of area expertise and cultural intelligence among U.S. diplomats, the State Department as an institution appears unable to make the transition from a bureaucratic to a strategic way of thinking.1 Similarly, there is no shortage of strategic brainpower and literacy among members of the U.S. military, but the Pentagon as an institution appears equally unable to shift from a network-centric warfare to a culture-centric warfare paradigm.2 The following twelve propositions constitute a provisional attempt to provide a common conceptual basis for more effective interagency coordination.



The challenge confronting the West today is at once less than a full-fledged clash of civilizations and more than some unspecified war on terrorism: It is first and foremost an insurgency within Islam, which began in earnest in 1979, and for which the West remained, at least until 2001, a secondary theater of operations.3 From 1979 on, the revolution in Iran, the invasion of Afghanistan, the re-Islamization from above in Pakistan, the surge of Saudi activism in the Broader Middle East and the concurrent marginalization of Egypt within the Arab world (following the Camp David accords) combined to give birth to a qualitative and quantitative change of paradigm whereby pan-Arabism ? the main movement in the Middle East since 1945 ? was supplanted by pan-Islamism. But precisely because this insurgency within Islam is an insurgency, the terrorism paradigm ? with its traditional focus on the criminal nature of the act and its exclusion of the political dimension ? is largely irrelevant, save at the tactical level. The West is no more at war with terrorism today than it was at war with blitzkrieg in World War II or revolution during the Cold War. The West is at war with a new totalitarianism for which terrorism is one technique or tactic among many. At the operational and theater-strategic level, then, counterinsurgency is a more relevant paradigm than counterterrorism; and at the national-strategic level, the nexus between insurgency and weapons of mass disruption will have to be given at least as much importance as the much-discussed nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.4

If the form of this insurgency owes in part to the tradition of Arab warfare, it mainly owes to the revolution in guerrilla affairs of the twentieth century that culminates today in what postmodern strategists refer to as ?netwar? and/or ?fourth-generation warfare.?5 While still in their evolving stages, these two concepts highlight the nonhierarchical structure of the enemy?s organization, the asymmetric nature of their operations, and the focus on targeting the enemy?s political will rather than its military forces. The challenge for the West can hardly be overestimated: Even if only 1 percent of the world?s 1.2 billion Muslims were to end up being seduced by the global jihad, the West and moderate Muslim regimes would still have to deal with some 12 million jihadists spread across more than 60 countries. And if only 1 percent of these 12 million were to opt for ?martyrdom operations,? the West would still have to deal, for a generation at least, with some 120,000 suicide bombers.



While Islam is undoubtedly no monolith, it is not the pure mosaic complacently portrayed by some, either. In the past 30 years, one particular brand ? pan-Islamic Salafism ? has been allowed to fill the vacuum left by the failure of pan-Arab Socialism and, in the process, to marginalize more enlightened forms of Islam to the point where Salafism now occupies a quasi-hegemonic position in the Muslim world. The West is obviously not at war with Islam as such and its traditional Five Pillars; but it is most definitely at war with Jihadism, a pure product of Salafism, which posits that jihad is the Sixth Pillar of Islam. From the point of view of threat assessment, the much-discussed theological distinction between a greater (spiritual) and lesser (physical) jihad is utterly irrelevant, and the only thing that matters is the praxeological distinction between three modalities of jihad as practiced: jihad of the sword, of the hand, and of the tongue.

Today, the most effective jihadist networks are precisely those that ? from Hamas to Hizbullah ? have combined these three modalities in the form of urban warfare, relief work, and hate media. At the theater level, the best military answer to this three-pronged jihad to date remains the concept of ?three-block war? elaborated by the Marine Corps, which posits that the Western military must be ready to handle a situation in which it has to confront simultaneously conventional, high intensity war in one city block, guerrilla-like activities in the next, and peace-keeping operations or humanitarian aid in a third. Yet, the West?s answer cannot be mainly military in nature. When, as in the aftermath of the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, 45?65 percent of the Muslim world ends up having a positive image of a Bin Laden, even a U.S. military victory at the theater level can lead to a political defeat at the global level. Since the end of the Cold War era, the U.S. has enjoyed an unprecedented ?command of the commons,? but as the 2003 Iraq war made painfully clear, in contrast to the 1991 Gulf War (during which CNN had a global monopoly), the U.S. no longer enjoys the ?command of the airwaves.? Throughout the 1990s, the emergence of global satellite televisions in Europe (Euronews) and the Arab world (Al-Jazeera) have combined to create a new correlation of forces; and while the Pentagon has recently traded the traditional concept of ?battlefield? for the more comprehensive concept of ?battlespace,? military planners and commanders alike have yet to fully realize that ours is as much the age of the ?three-screen war? as that of the ?three-block war.?6



Analytically, the ongoing global jihad is best defined as a three-layered phenomenon. At one level, it is an anachronistic, pre-Clausewitzian Holy War, and U.S. diplomats will have to significantly increase their level of theo-political literacy if they ever want to make the most effective use of ijtihad (the battle of interpretations) as counter-jihad.

At another level, it is a postmodern, post-Clausewitzian netwar, not only in the organizational sense (i.e., network vs. hierarchy), but in the sense that the media networks are at once actors and vectors, platforms and weapons systems, front lines and theaters of operations. If the U.S. military is to conduct smart ?info ops,? the Pentagon will have to dispense with crude and misleading slogans (like ?disconnectedness defines danger?), to undertake a rigorous mapping of the Muslim media terrain, its electronic empires and satellite kingdoms and their respective orders of battle, and develop a crisper understanding of the grammar and logic of cross-cultural communications.

At a third level, the global jihad is but the latest manifestation, in the age of globalization, of the timeless phenomenon known as warlordism/piracy; here, an interdisciplinary understanding of the political economy of warfare will be required of all players if the interagency process is ever to succeed.7 This three-layered character of the global jihad at the macro-political level holds true at the micro-political level as well. A phenomenon like suicide-bombing is likely to endure so long as there are: a) a theological incentive (the proverbial 72 black-eyed virgins in Paradise); b) glamorization of ?martyrdom ops? by the Muslim media; and c) significant financial incentive for the family of the ?martyr? ? the $25,000 reward offered by the Saudis to families of Palestinian suicide-bombers being the equivalent of $600,000 in the West in terms of purchasing power.



Ideologically, Salafism is to Jihadism what Marxism is to Leninism, even though psychologically, the jihadist disease appears closer to Nazism (i.e., pathological fear of, rather than faith in, modernity, along with virulent anti-Semitism). Just as the communist project of yesterday was summed up by the proverbial slogan ?the Soviets, plus electricity,? the jihadist project today is best captured by ?the sha?ria, plus WMD.? Like the Communist International, the Salafist International has its Bolsheviks and its Mensheviks, its Bernsteins and its Kautskys, and even its Leninesque What Is to Be Done? (Qutb?s Milestones). As for the debates over what priority to give to the ?far enemy? vs. the ?near enemy,? they are but the equivalent of yesterday?s clashes between Trotskyite partisans of ?permanent revolution? and Stalinist supporters of ?socialism in one country.?

Yet, Jihadism differs from communism in three ways. 1) Since fitna (dissension) is as old ? and as central ? a tradition in Muslim history as jihad itself, Salafism is even less monolithic than Marxism. For the West and its Muslim allies, then, the first order of business is to exploit systematically all rivalries and dissensions, be they strategic, operational, tactical, doctrinal, organizational, ideological, personal, generational, national, confessional, or ethnic/tribal. 2) While communism was merely a ?secular religion,? jihadism ? however heretical it may be ? cannot but appear to many Muslims to be rooted in a genuine religion, and religiosity has never been defeated with a communications strategy based on rationality alone. To be effective, the battle for hearts and minds will have to focus as much on emotion as on intellection, on seduction as on persuasion, on images as on ideas, on memories as on policies, on identity as on democracy ? in short, as much on hearts as on minds. The communication mix (messengers/messages/media) will have to be radically different from that of the Cold War and that, in turn, will require the kind of radical transformation of public diplomacy and information operations called forth by both Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld. 3) Finally, dawa (nonviolent activism) is not to jihadism what Euro-Communism was to Soviet Communism. While professing to reject violence, dawaist networks (Hizb-ut-Tahrir) are in fact in symbiosis with jihadist networks (al Qaeda), each playing its part in the Islamist version of the ?good cop, bad cop? routine. In short, dawa is not so much a reformist alternative to revolutionary jihad as the first phase (Trotskyite institutional infiltration coupled with Gramscian cultural hegemony) of a jihad that, ever since Muhammad, has always been conceived as a three-phased struggle.8



Strategically, the fact that the global jihad does not have one single master plan or one single mastermind in no way means that the enemy lacks clearly identifiable centers of gravity. At the risk of considerable simplification, the global jihad can be said to actually rest on five asymmetrical ?pillars?: al-Saud, al-Azhar, al Qaeda, al-Jazeera ? with the proverbial ?fifth column? in the role of fifth pillar. In a nutshell: In the past thirty years, through clever manipulation of financial, educational, and informational levers, Saudi Arabia has used its soft power to alter the theo-political balance of power in the Muslim world and to turn itself into a virtual Caliphate, using Muslim IOs and NGOs as force multipliers. The concurrent transformation of the Cairo-based al-Azhar University during the same period is possibly the most overlooked element in the global jihad; more than just the oldest Muslim university, al-Azhar is the closest thing to an informal Supreme Court of the Muslim world, denying or granting legitimacy to a peace treaty with Israel (1965 and 1979 respectively) or calling for jihad against the American presence in Iraq (March 2003). In the past 30 years, the Saudi takeover of al-Azhar has so shifted the center of gravity of the Muslim political discourse that the rhetoric of al-Azhar today is indistinguishable from that of the Muslim Brotherhood, its former nemesis. Al Qaeda and Al-Jazeera, though more recent phenomena, have managed in less than two decades to become the recruiting, training, and advertising bases of the global jihad. Last but not least, the academic Fifth Column in the West, ever faithful to its historical role of ?useful idiot? (Lenin), is increasingly providing both conceptual ammunition and academic immunity to crypto-jihadists, making Western campuses safe for intellectual terrorism.9

Taken together, these five pillars constitute something halfway between the ?deep coalitions? theorized by contemporary Western strategists, and an informal command-and-control of global jihad. If only in a metaphorical sense, then, command-and-control warfare (C2W) offers the best template for a counter-jihad at the level of grand strategy. The identification of these five pillars as centers of gravity is meant to remind us that the destiny of 1.2 billion Muslims is today inordinately shaped by a few thousand Saudi princes, Egyptian clerics, and Gulf news editors, and that therefore the guiding principle of the war of ideas should be the principle of economy of force. Don?t say, for instance, ?Islam needs its Martin Luther,? if only because his 95 theses ushered in a 150-year-long bloody insurgency within Christendom. Say instead, ?The Saudi Caliphate needs to undertake its own Vatican II.?10



Logically and chronologically, a forward strategy of freedom cannot but give priority to religion-shaping and knowledge-building over democracy-building proper. Religion-shaping will not aim at the Protestantization of the global umma, but rather at the de-Salafization of the global ulema. Don?t say, ?Unlike Christianity, Islam does not recognize the distinction between public and private spheres.? Say instead, ?So long as there is no adequate knowledge base, any religion in any society will occupy a hegemonic position in the public sphere.? Be it ethnic or religious, identity-shaping is not rocket science. Since U.S. marketers do that routinely every day, it can be outsourced to a large extent by the public diplomacy bureaucracy. Knowledge-building will require a three-pronged approach. Now that the famous 2002 UNDP Arab Development Report has revealed that the number of books translated by the whole Arab world over the past thousand years is equivalent to the numbers of books translated by Spain in one year, the most urgent program will have to be an old-fashioned, if massive, book-in-translation program, which will contribute to the shrinking of the role of religion in the public sphere.11 Additionally, putting an end to rote learning will allow factual knowledge to lead to critical thinking, while containing the current Muslim brain-drain to the West will help create a critical mass for a knowledge-based civil society.

Religion-shaping and knowledge-building are the two logical prerequisites for Phase II: state-shrinking and market-building. While attempting to turn ?scimitars to plowshares,? U.S. policymakers will do well to keep two things in mind. First, in the Middle East, not only is political power in the hands of the military, but the armed forces are also economic actors in their own right, and incentives will have to be found if we ever want to see the military disengage from economic life. Second, the promotion by the West of a Russian-style ?shock therapy? approach would not only alienate the Muslim Street (and thus undermine the battle for hearts and minds), but it would also be the surest way to contribute to the emergence of new mafia states.12 One thing is sure: Between phase one (religion-shaping and knowledge-building) and phase two (state-shrinking and market-building) of a forward strategy of freedom, the two crucial target audiences of public diplomacy and information operations will have to be not women and youth (the current fashion), but the Muslim clergy (first line of offense) and the Muslim military (first line of defense). When it comes to the battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East, the old Clausewitzian trinity (government, people, military) will have to give way to a more focused mullah-media-military trinity.



In the context of the Middle East, it is simply impossible to overestimate the centrality of ?defense diplomacy? for a forward strategy of freedom.13 Yet, Beltway debates over the respective merits of hard vs. soft power invariably ?misunderestimate? the importance of military soft power, be it called military diplomacy or security cooperation, and be it conducted at the multilateral level (the various NATO schools) or at the bilateral level (the joint DOD-DOS International Military Education and Training program). At the multilateral level, the NATO Partnership for Peace format, until now reserved for new allies and partners from Eurasia, should gradually be extended to member-countries of the NATO Med dialogue. At the bilateral level, the IMET program, traditionally long on training and short on education, will need a major overhaul if it is to become synonymous with genuine ?Edu Ops.? Rather than peddle a Western theology of civil-military relations (of the kind elaborated fifty years ago by Samuel Huntington in his classic The Soldier and the State), IMET programs should be based on the reality of mullah-military relations on the ground and take into account both the political and economic role of the military in Muslim societies. Then, and only then, can a useful praxeology of civil-military relations for democratic transition be developed. What the Muslim military needs most is a compass, not a catechism ? and it may well be that, for a generation at least, the most useful/realistic model of civil-military relations will have to follow the Turkish rather than the American model. If exporting democracy is to be the name of the game, then it will be necessary to intellectually empower the Muslim military with a knowledge of successful strategies of democratization (and the specific role of the armed forces in the ?operational art? of democratic transitions) in the past three decades in Latin Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. If exporting security (a more minimalist policy) is to be the preferred U.S. policy, then it will be best to keep in mind that there is nothing more culture-specific than the notion of security, and that any attempt to export a purely American concept of security (as if it were universal) would only create the mother of all security dilemmas.



The return of Islam in history after a three-century-long eclipse (1683?1979) does not necessarily mark the beginning of the desecularization of the world. It does, however, mark the end of the ?End of History.?14 Contrary to some utopian expectations at the end of the Cold War, History is on the move again, and the magnitude of the jihadist challenge is no less universal than that of the communist challenge in its time. De jure, to be sure, the appeal of jihadism would appear to be limited to 1.2 billion Muslims; but due to the combination of mass migration and mass communication, the sociopolitical umma is no longer confined to the geopolitical dar-al-Islam, and this globalization amounts to a de facto universalism. In the coming decades, strategic immigration (hijra) will continue to be promoted by Islamic states and nonstate actors alike. Since it is now established that the experience of expatriation is the single most important factor in the conversion to jihadism, and that the Internet as a medium favors Salafism as a message, the combination of alienation (due to expatriation) and escapism (made possible by the existence of an e-umma) can only result in an exponential increase of potential jihadists in the West. Though suicide-bombing as such (i.e., extreme jihadism) is likely to remain the choice of a minority, the multiplication of so-called ?third-generation? gangs will increase the likelihood of suburban warfare in Western cities (for which the November 2005 Parisian intifada may well have constituted a dress rehearsal of sorts). In short, given the combination of the most primitive (demographic warfare, suicide-bombing) and the most sophisticated (4GW, WMD) modes of warfare,15 the threat represented by jihadism for the West is in fact significantly greater than that of communism in the previous century. Back in 1992, the former head of the French Intelligence Service Alexandre de Marenches had already raised the specter of a ?Fourth World War.? In the aftermath of 9/11, the concept was given a new currency by former CIA Director James Woolsey and others, both in the U.S. and abroad. So long as it is clearly understood that ?World War IV-as-Fourth-Generation Warfare? will not be a copycat either of War World II or the Cold War, it is indeed no exaggeration to speak in terms of a fourth World War.16



World War IV being only in its early stages, reports of the failure of political Islam are therefore worse than premature. Western essayists who, in the early 1990s, argued that the failure of political Islam was there for everyone to see were guilty of the classic rationalist fallacy. By the early 1920s already, the failure of communism was also equally ?obvious? to anyone who cared to look; yet the communist disease continued to spread throughout half the world during the next 50 years. The bottom line: Not only is the logic of collective epidemiology distinct from that of individual rationality but, unlike communism, which took place in the pre-information age, jihadism today can count on the global electronic media as force (and speed) multipliers.

The illiteracy rate in the Middle East being around 38 percent, television is the most common source of information ? and disinformation. Granted, not all the 120 existing Muslim satellite television stations are jihadist; but thanks to those that are (from al-Manar to al-Jazeera), the percentage of Palestinians endorsing suicide bombings has already jumped from 20 percent to 80 percent between 1996 and 2002. In Iraq itself, and for similar reasons, the number of suicide bombings has jumped from one a week to 20 a week in the past 18 months; and 12 months after the beginning of the Iraq war, the percentage of Muslims worldwide supporting suicide bombing against U.S. forces in Iraq ranged from 31 percent in Turkey to 70 percent in Jordan, according to a Pew survey. As it now stands, the Middle East is at once undereducated and over-(dis)informed. Saudi Salafism is today spreading in Europe and America faster than the elusive Euro-Islam is spreading to the Greater Middle East; and while disinformation continues to travel at the speed of light, the effects of education will be felt only in a generation. Against the backdrop of the rapid proliferation of WMD, these two chronopolitical asymmetries are today the main challenge in the battle for hearts and minds, and will require the right balance between hard power, soft power, and stealth power projection.



Now that the new National Defense Strategy (March 2005) has replaced pre-emption with prevention, a strategy of containment of global jihadism should become the logical complement to a forward strategy of freedom. In its original form, the doctrine of containment was never meant to be synonymous with a defensive or reactive posture. For George Kennan himself, containment was no ?siege warfare? but, if anything, the continuation of ?protracted maneuver warfare? by other means. While containment was lambasted by the partisans of rollback (e.g., James Burnham) as the continuation of appeasement by other means, Kennan himself was actively ? if secretly ? promoting a rollback strategy through covert action.17 Unlike outsiders like Burnham, Kennan understood that it is always better to speak softly (overtly) and carry a big stick (covertly). Kennan also knew that a certain restlessness in foreign policy can quickly become synonymous with recklessness. Hence his decision to put time (i.e., the change of generations in Russia) rather than space, and staying power rather than speed, at the center of his containment policy. However, restlessness was to become official policy during the so-called Second Cold War (1979?1989), and the effects of the unqualified U.S. empowerment of the mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan War are still being felt today.

Similarly, throughout the 1990s ? and much to the dismay of Europe ? an impatient America ended up giving legitimacy to Muslim forces in the Balkans known to have been heavily involved in drug, arms, and human trafficking, and of having links to al Qaeda. Despite this record of recklessness in Afghanistan and the Balkans, covert action remains more indispensable than ever, if only because public diplomacy is by definition an overt activity and, since America?s image is at an all-time low, there are today systemic limits to what overt advocacy can accomplish (even with a larger budget). But as during the early Cold War, covert action today will have to take the long view and stick to a ?strategy of truth? rather than succumb to the post-Cold War temptation of the quick fix and of spin control.18



Muslim outreach ? the latest buzzword in Washington ? should under no circumstances become synonymous with intellectual capitulation. All too often, the same Western lumpen-intelligentsia that embraces a constructivist interpretation of Christianity is only too willing to subscribe to the essentialist view of Islam promoted by the Salafists. The same academics who deride the American, British, or French ?nation? as a mere ?imagined community? are only too prone to reify the idea of a fantasmatic ?Arab Nation? (not to mention a ?Palestinian Nation? ? an imagined community of recent vintage). Public diplomacy professionals would do well to remember that in the Middle East, dialogos is but the continuation of polemos by other means, and that the Arabs ? good Mediterraneans that they are ? have nothing but contempt for the twin temptations of Anglo-Saxon public diplomacy: sanctimonious preaching and political correctness.

If neoconservatives got only one thing right in the past three years, it would have to be this: It is simply ludicrous to argue that nothing can change in the Muslim world so long as the Palestinian question is not settled. Let?s get real: In the 1970s, Catholic Europe (Spain, Portugal) and Latin America embarked on their own democratic transitions without waiting for the fate of their Catholic brothers of Northern Ireland to be settled. In the 1990s, similarly, Orthodox Europe (Romania, Bulgaria) and Russia followed suit without second thoughts for the fate of their Orthodox brothers in Bosnia. Whatever the current plight of the Palestinians (which owes less to the indifference of Crusaders and Jews than to the deliberate callousness of Arab leaders), the same should apply for the Muslim world.

Both Europe and the United States have a definite share of responsibility in the empowerment of the Salafists in the 1979?89 decade, and the West should all the more readily acknowledge this fact that it has little else to apologize for. Rather than legitimize the jihadist jeremiad over Palestine,19 Western policymakers and opinion leaders would do well to keep the agenda of any dialogue with Islam on the main issue, namely, Middle East exceptionalism.

Bluntly put: Back in 1945, the Middle East was at the same level of development as South Asia; where are, today, the economic ?dragons? of the Muslim world? It is not the fault of the West if the Middle East is now the only region of the world that has not undertaken regional economic integration; if the oil monarchies have invested $500 billion in the West instead of the East; if Arab governments spend the highest percentage of GDP on military hardware, and the lowest percentage on nonreligious education; if half the workforce (women) is used in reproductive rather than productive tasks; if the population of the Arab world has doubled since 1980 while its share of world trade has fallen by two-thirds during the same time; if only 19 percent of Muslim countries have democratically elected governments, in contrast to 77 percent in the non-Muslim world; and ? oh yes ? if Palestinian Arabs can become citizens of just about every Western country, but have been denied this right by every Arab country (Jordan excepted) for the past 50 years.

The Palestinian issue will undoubtedly continue to be the pet issue of a professional chattering class more representative of Arab governments (which subsidize them) than of the genuine Muslim Street (which cares little for the issue); but when all is said and done, the Palestinian question is a sideshow at best, a diversion at worst, compared to the two defining features of twentieth-century Middle East history: on the one hand, the kind of negative Middle East exceptionalism outlined above; on the other, the rise of a Saudi Caliphate which now spends more on propaganda than the Soviet Empire in its heyday.



The Sino-Islamic connection is not the fruit of some fertile neocon imagination, but a fundamental fact of international life for anyone who cares to take a closer look at China?s energy policy. The ?it?s about oil? mantra heard in some Western quarters is indeed not unfounded ? so long as one remembers that in little more than a decade, China has changed from a net exporter of oil into the world?s second largest importer, and that in the not-so-distant future, the energy needs of 1.2 billion Chinese will dwarf those of 300 million Americans. The oil factor does indeed explain why China has a more proactive policy than the U.S., and a more reckless one as well. As the most populated country in the world, China is also the country that cares the least about the danger of nuclear proliferation involved in some of its more Faustian bargains.

But there is more than oil at stake in China?s strategic relations with Muslim countries. If 1979 marks the return of Islam in history, it also marks (more significantly than 1949 ever did) the return of China in history. Throughout the 1980s, China experienced phenomenal growth rates and was catching up fast with the West, when the advent of the information revolution widened the gap anew. Since the Chinese leadership cannot go into overdrive without destroying the social fabric (and ultimately its own power base), it can only hope to narrow the gap by slowing down the West. For Western historians, all this has a deja-vu all over again feel. Just as imperial latecomers like Germany and Japan did not hesitate to play the Islamic card for all it was worth in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, today China has ? to put it mildly ? no reason to be a priori hostile to the idea of using jihadism as a weapon of mass disruption against the West.

The congruence between the Islamic 4GW jihad and China?s own Unrestricted Warfare20 doctrine is therefore no surprise. This Sino-Islamic connection has been largely ignored by European elites too busy indulging in anti-American posturing instead. In the EU media, China is invariably portrayed as being all (economic) opportunities and no (political) threats; from the Spanish and French media in particular, one would never guess that China in fact has a rather proactive ? and sophisticated ? policy in Spain?s and France?s former colonies. As for the Islamic question, EU elites continue to believe that it can best be solved by keeping as much distance as possible between the U.S. approach (Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative) and the EU approach (Euro-Med Partnership).21

The recent referenda on the EU Constitution have proven, if anything, how disconnected EU elites have become, not just from world realities, but from their own constituencies. It should now be clear to all that the intra-European gap between elites and public opinion is greater still (and in fact older) than the transatlantic gap between the U.S. and the EU. For Washington, there has never been a better time to do ?European Outreach? and drive home the point that the existence of a ?Sino-Islamic Connection? calls for closer transatlantic cooperation and a reassertion of the West. In short, if the Atlantic Alliance did not exist, it would have to be invented.22


The chronopolitical challenge

Four years after the September 11 events, and barely two years into the occupation of Iraq, there are signs that the Beltway talking heads are once again having the vapors. Yes, Iraq has been costly in both blood and treasure, and conducted in a sub-optimal manner. But Iraq was a necessary war,23 and it was worth it: For the first time in their history, Iraqis have the opportunity to draft their own democratic constitution. But while the U.S. ought to stand ready to do its part (regime change) when need be, the responsibility for nation-building ultimately rests on the shoulders of local elites. In that respect, either the Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd elites will realize that their respective interests are best served by some sort of Spanish-style federalism, and Iraq ? a country rich in human and natural resources ? stands a good chance of becoming a modern-day al-Andalus; or Iraqi elites will revert to tribal infighting, in which case they ? not America ? will bear the historical responsibility for the transition of Iraq from rogue state to failed state. One way or the other, Arab elites cannot go on blaming everyone but themselves for the Arab predicament.

Whatever the outcome in Baghdad, the Iraqi tree should not be allowed to mask the jihadist forest. In that respect, there is something vulturesque in the doves? recent assault on the hawks. Though in the past four years the neoconservatives, confronted by a ?new kind of war,? have indeed at times come up with the wrong answers, the fact remains that in the previous decade, the same neocons, more consistently than any other group, came up with the right questions ? and nobody listened. And while some military paleo-cons undeniably showed early on a better grasp of tactical and operational realities at the theater level, the civilian neocons overall continue to have a crisper perception of the real challenges at the strategic level ? and yes, that includes Iran.24

In retrospect, if neoconservatives got only one thing wrong, it would have to be this: The greatness of a policy is not measured by the breadth of a geopolitical vision or the boldness of its goals and objectives; ultimately, it is measured by the mastery of the chronopolitical dimension in the course of policy implementation. For the past four years, Time, in all its manifestations ? duration, sequencing, timing, tempo, but also memory25 ? has been the single most neglected strategic dimension of the Bush administration.

That said, it is far from clear that a different administration would have done any better. Since the end of the Cold War, the strategic management of time seems to have eluded U.S. elites, whose timelines now rarely extend beyond the 24/7 news cycle, the quarterly financial report, and the midterm elections. Economic ?shock therapy? and military ?shock and awe? are the twin results of the same impatience, the same short-sightedness. The coming World War IV will make for interesting times indeed, for if the grammar of guerrilla warfare has significantly evolved over the centuries, the strategic management of time, from Muhammad?s three-phased jihad to Mao?s three-phased people?s war and beyond, will always constitute the logic of insurgency.26

When it comes to fighting power and thinking power, the lone remaining superpower is still in a better position today than at the end of World War II; but when it comes to staying power (to use J.F.C. Fuller?s trinity), U.S. elites lately have come across as a pale shadow of the ?greatest generation.? If the project of converting a mere ?unipolar moment? into a New American Century is ever to succeed, not only will U.S. elites have to develop the same staying power as their forefathers27, but the neo-Wilsonian messianism (be it Democrat or Republican, economic or military) of recent years will have to morph into a cultural realism attentive to the rhythm of civilizations and the chronopolitical dimension of statecraft.


1 It is no surprise that the 20-some reports on ?re-inventing public diplomacy? that have appeared since 9/11 have invariably focused on empowering the bureaucracy rather than on devising a grand strategy. Between 1989 and 1999, USIA?s budget was slashed by 30 percent, and academic and cultural exchange programs worldwide dropped from 45,000 to 29,000; by 2003, the U.S. government was spending only $150 million a year on Muslim-majority countries, and the overall public diplomacy budget amounted to a mere 3 percent of the intelligence budget, and less than one-third of 1 percent of the defense budget.

2 Briefly stated, network-centric warfare is technocentric, while culture-centric warfare is anthropocentric. See Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, ?Network-Centric Warfare,? Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute 24:1 (January 1998), and Major General Robert H. Scales, ?Culture-Centric Warfare,? Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute (October 2004).

3 David W. Lesch, 1979: The Year that Shaped the Modern Middle East (Westview, 1992).

4 On the similarities and differences between counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, see Ian O. Lesser et al, Countering the New Terrorism (RAND, 1999), and Bard O?Neil, Insurgency and Terrorism: From Revolution to Apocalypse, Second Edition (Potomac Books, 2005). On the use of weapons of mass disruption in asymmetric warfare, the focus of research has so far been on technological means (cyber-warfare) rather than on economic-financial goals. Yet, ?bleeding the West financially? is one of al Qaeda?s stated goals, and while the terrorist network has spent on average less than $50,000 on each of its operations, the costs to local business have run in the tens or hundreds of millions.

5 At the tactical-operational level, some of the most salient features of the Iraqi insurgency (?tribalism,? ?vendetta,? ?honor,? etc.) are in fact neither specifically ?Islamic? nor ?Arab,? but common to the ?Mediterranean? culture as such. On Tribalism, see Richard L. Taylor, Tribal Alliances: Ways, Means, and Ends to Successful Strategy, Carlisle Papers in Security Strategy (August 2005), Montgomery McFate, ?The Military Utility of Understanding Adversary Culture,? Joint Forces Quarterly 38 (Summer 2005), and David Ronfeldt, ?Social Studies: 21st Century Tribes,? Los Angeles Times (December 12, 2004). On Netwars, see John Arquilla and David Ronfelt, Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime and Militancy (RAND, 2001). On Fourth-Generation Warfare, a concept first developed in 1989, see William S. Lind et al.: ?The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth-Generation,? Marine Corps Gazette (October 1989). The concept has now gained currency not only among Western strategists, but also within the jihadist leadership itself (see Chuck Spinney, ?Is 4GW al-Qaida?s Official Combat Doctrine?? (February 11, 2002). For a brief introduction to 4GW, see Thomas X. Hammes?s Insurgency: Modern Warfare Evolves into a Fourth Generation, Strategic Forum 214, INSS, NDU (January 2005) While the concept of 4GW itself was developed the year of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, all the elements of 4GW were already present in the French-Algerian war of 1954-1962. See Matthew Connelly?s remarkable A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria?s Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post Cold War (Oxford University Press, 2002).

6 On the Sixth Pillar, see Johannes J.G. Jansen, The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat?s Assassins and Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East (Macmillan, 1986), and Walid Phares and Robert G. Rabil, ?The Neglected Duty: Terrorism?s Justification,? In the National Interest 31:18 (May 2004). On the ?Jihad of the Hand? carried by Islamist NGOs, see Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, Jihad Humanitaire ? Enquete sur les ONG Islamiques (Paris: Flammarion, 2002) and Velko Attanassof, ?Bosnia and Herzegovina:Islamic Revival, International Advocacy Networks and Islamic Terrorism, Strategic Insights 4:5 (May 2005). On the ?Jihad of the Tongue,? see Avi Jorisch, Beacon of Hatred: Inside Hizballah?s Al-Manar Television (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2004). On the concept of Three-Block War, see General Charles C. Krulak, USMC, ?The Three-Block War: Fighting in Urban Areas,? Vital Speeches of the Day (December 15, 1997), and by the same author, ?The Strategic Corporal: Leadership in the Three-Block War,? Marines Magazine (January 1999). On the global commons, see Barry Rosen ?Command of the Commons: the Military Foundations of American Hegemony,? International Security 28, no1, summer 2003, and my forthcoming ?Command of the Airwaves: the Revolution in Guerilla Affairs from Ho Chi Minh to Osama.?

7 On the need to re-open the interpretation of the Quran (officially closed for the past five centuries), the clearest introduction is Ijtihad: Reinterpreting Islamic Principles for the Twenty-First Century (U.S. Institute of Peace, August 2004). See also Brian M. Jenkins, ?Strategy: Political Warfare Neglected,? San Diego-Union Tribune (June 26, 2005) ( Symbolically, ?Ijtihad as Counter-Jihad? may be said to have begun on the first anniversary of the Madrid bombing (03/11/05), when the official Spanish Islamic Commission issued a fatwa against al-Qaeda. Since the London bombings of July 2005, Tony Blair has increased pressure on the Europe-based Muslim community to take a more proactive stand in the counter-jihad (see Joseph Loconte, ?Fatwa Frenzy,? Weekly Standard (August 18, 2005). For a preliminary mapping of the Muslim media ?terrain,? see Naomi Sakr, Satellite Realms: Transnational Television, Globalization and the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2002); Gary Bunt, Islam in the Digital Age ? E-Jihad, Online Fatwas and Cyber Islamic Environments (Pluto Press, 2003); Mark Frohardt and Jonathan Temin, Use and Abuse of Media in Vulnerable Societies (U.S. Institute of Peace, October 2003); Gabriel Weiman, WWW.Terror.Net: How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet (U.S. Institute of Peace, March 2004). Beyond the mediasphere proper, smart ?info ops? will have to take into account that the most effective means of communication ? including the all-pervasive ?rumor? ? outside the media and the mosque include the bazaar and the coffee shop. On the ongoing ?clash of civilizations? within the Pentagon between the numerates and the literates, suffice it to say here that the network-centric approach has so far produced two ideas dangerously disconnected from real life: the Gospel of World Peace through Global Connectivity (see Thomas P.M. Barnett, The Pentagon?s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century [Putnam, 2004], and a narrow vision of military soft power centered on Infowar (Leigh Armistead, ed. Information Operations: Warfare and the Hard Reality of Soft Power [Potomac Books, 2004]). The culture-centric approach, by contrast, is more promising in that it tries to connect the dots (in an interagency perspective) between cultural intelligence and strategic communication. See the U.S. Marine Corps? Small Wars Manual for the 21st Century ( and the Defense Science Board Task Force?s Report on Strategic Communication (September 2004) ( On the political economy of warfare, see Mary Kaldor, New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era (Stanford University Press, 1999) and Loretta Napoleoni, Terror Incorporated: Tracing the Dollars Behind the Terror Networks (Seven Stories Press, 2005).

8 In Europe today, the essayist Tariq Ramadan (who is none other than the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood) is considered the leading representative of this Trotskyte-Gramscian tactic. See Caroline Fourest, Frere Tariq: Discours, Strategie et Methode de Tariq Ramadan (Grasset, Paris, 2004), Paul Landau, Le Sabre et le Coran:Tariq Ramadan et les Freres Musulmans a la Reconquete de l?Europe (Paris: Rocher, 2005) and the report of the Dutch Ministry of Interior, From Dawa to Jihad: The Various Threats from Radical Islam to the Democratic Legal Order (December 2004) ( On violent and non-violent ways of spreading Sharia, see Paul Marshall, Radical Islam?s Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Sharia Law (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005).

9 On the Saudi Caliphate, see Dore Gold, Hatred?s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Regnery, 2003), and the Center for Religious Freedom Report, Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques, (Freedom House, January 2005); on the use of Muslim IOs, NGOs, and News Agencies by the Saudis, see Jacob M. Landau, The Politics of Pan-Islam: Ideology and Organization (Clarendon,1990). On the Saudi doctrine of soft power, see former Saudi Minister of Petroleum Hisham M. Nazer, Power of a Third Kind: The Western Attempt to Colonize the Global Village (Praeger, 1999). On the Saudi/Al-Azhar connection, Franklin Foer, ?Moral Hazard: The Life of a Liberal Muslim,? New Republic (November 18, 2002), and Laurent Murawiec, ?The Saudi Takeover of Al-Azhar University,? Terrorism Monitor, (Jameston Foundation, December 2003). For a detailed study of Al-Azhar, see Malika Zeghal: Gardiens de l?Islam: Les Oulemas d?Al-Azhar dans l?Egypte Contemporaine (Paris: Fondation des Sciences Politiques, 1996). (Among its many functions, Al-Azhar is the training school for would-be imams from 100 countries, its Islamic Research Council has a major say in what can and cannot be published in Egypt, its alumni sit on the board of all Muslim banking networks, its fatwas influence legislators throughout the Muslim world.) On the influence of Saudi money in U.S. universities and think-tanks, see Jon Kyl, ?Terrorism: Growing Wahhabi Influence in the United States,? (July 3, 2003); Lee Kaplan, ?The Saudi Fifth Column on Our Nation?s Campuses,? (April 5, 2004); and, more recently, the refreshingly candid GAO Report, Information on U.S. Agencies? Efforts to Address Islamic Extremism (September 16, 2005).

10 However thorough and objective they try to be, sociopolitical analyses of the jihadist phenomenon (e.g., Gilles Kepel?s Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam [Belknap, 2003]) cannot but present a flawed picture of the jihad given the marginal attention paid to the geopolitical dimension as such (in particular to the leading role of Saudi Arabia and its various fronts). The methodological parti-pris favored by Western academics (intra-national approach, focus on ?civil society? rather than state apparatus) both downplays the manipulation from above and especially from abroad, and gives the phenomenon of re-Islamization an authenticity (?revolution from below?) that it does not have in real life. At its worst, this kind of sociologism (e.g., Olivier Roy?s Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Umma [Columbia University Press, 2004]) leads to the implausible claim that ?there is no such thing as a geostrategy of Islam? ? a conclusion not supported by Roy?s own findings. (Among ?area studies? specialists, a disturbing gap is developing today between their ever-increasing cultural expertise and their ever-shrinking strategic literacy.) On the concept ? so relevant for the Middle East ? of ?deep coalition? between state and nonstate actors in contemporary strategic thinking, see Alvin and Heidi Toffler, in John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, eds., In Athena?s Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age (RAND, 1997).

11 On identity-shaping, see Marilyn Halter, Shopping for Identity: The Marketing of Ethnicity (Schocken, 2000), and Richard Cimino and Don Lattin, Shopping for Faith: American Religion in the New Millennium (Jossey-Bass,1998). Identity-shaping in the Arab world itself is made easier by the multiplicity of competing tribal/ethnic/national identities (see Bernard Lewis, The Multiple Identities of the Middle East [Schocken, 1999]). On the sorry state of translation in the Arab world, see the much-discussed UNDP Arab Development Reports of 2002. On religion-shaping and knowledge-building, two studies stand out: Cheryl Benard, Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies (RAND, 2004), and Robert Satloff, The Battle of Ideas in the War on Terror: Essays on U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Middle East (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2004).

12 Hossein Askari, Rana Atie: ?Scimitars to Plowshares,? National Interest (Fall 2004). For anyone involved in nation-building, Samuel Huntington?s classic Political Order in Changing Societies (Yale University Press, 1968) is still required reading ? as surely as Daniel Pipes? The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy (Palgrave Macmillan, 1996) should be required reading for anyone involved in the Battle for Hearts and Minds. On the perils of the shock-therapy approach, see Marshall Goldman, The Piratization of Russia: Russian Reform Goes Awry (Routledge, 2003). On the Ulema, see Muhammad Qasim Zaman, The Ulema in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change (Princeton University Press, 2002), and Gibreel Gibreel, ?The Ulema: Middle East Power Brokers,? Middle East Quarterly (Fall 2001). On the Muslim military, see John Walter Jandora, Militarism in Arab Society: An Historiographical and Bibliographical Handbook (Greenwood Press, 1997); Mehran Kamrava, ?Military Professionalization and Civil-Military Relations in the Middle East,? Political Science Quarterly, 115:1 (Spring 2000); and Paul A. Silverstein, ed. Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (forthcoming).

13 As Joseph Nye himself hinted: ?The military can also play an important role in the creation of soft power. In addition to the aura of power that is generated by its hard power capabilities, the military has a broad range of officer exchanges, joint training, and assistance programs with other countries in peacetime. The Pentagon?s International Military and Educational Training programs include sessions on democracy and human rights along with military training.? Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (PublicAffairs, 2004). On the need to re-think defense diplomacy, see also Timothy C. Shea, ?Transforming Military Diplomacy,? Joint Forces Quarterly 38 (July 2005).

14 Peter Berger, ed. The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999); Fareed Zakaria, ?The End of the End of History,? Newsweek (September 24, 2001), referring to Francis Fukuyama?s best-selling The End of History and the Last Man (Free Press, 1992). As Fukuyama himself reluctantly conceded recently: ?The War on Terror is, in other words, a classic counter-insurgency war, except that it is being played out on a global scale. There are genuine bad guys out there who are much more bitter ideological enemies than the Soviets ever were, but their success depends on the attitudes of the broader population around them who can be alternatively supportive, hostile, or indifferent ? depending on how we play our cards.? ?The Neoconservative Moment,? National Interest (Summer 2004).

15 On Expatriation and Escapism, see Marc Sageman, Understanding Terror Networks (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), particularly 160?163. On the ?third-generation gang? phenomenon, see John P. Sullivan, ?Gangs, Hooligans, and Anarchists: The Vanguard of Netwar in the Streets,? in Arquilla and Ronfeldt, Networks and Netwars, 99-126; Max G. Manwaring: Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency (U.S. Army War College, March 2005); and Robert Leiken, ?Europe?s Angry Muslims,? Foreign Affairs (July/August 2005). On demographic warfare ? the most neglected subfield of security studies ? Milica Zarkovic Bookman?s The Demographic Struggle for Power: The Political Economy of Demographic Engineering in the Modern World (Frank Cass Publishers, 1997), is a useful introduction. Demo-war, which goes beyond natalist policies (?the battle of cradles?) and ethnic cleansing, and includes strategic emigration and human trafficking, is the least understood aspect of the Global Jihad. See Keith Johnson and David Crawford, ?New Breed of Islamic Warrior is Emerging,? Wall Street Journal (April 28, 2004), and Robert Leiken, Bearers of Global Jihad? Immigration and National Security after 9/11 (Nixon Center, 2004).

16 On the idea of ?WWIV?, see Alexandre de Marenches, The Fourth World War: Diplomacy and Espionage in the Age of Terrorism (William Morrow, 1992). As military analyst Eliot Cohen pragmatically remarked in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, ?The Cold War was World War III, which reminds us that not all global conflicts entail the movement of multi-million man armies or conventional front lines on a map. The analogy with the Cold War does, however, suggest some key features of that [new] conflict: that it is, in fact, global, that it will involve a mixture of violent and non-violent efforts; that it will require mobilization of skill, expertise and resources, if not of vast number of soldiers; that it may go on for a long time; and that it has ideological roots.? (?World War IV,? Wall Street Journal [November 20, 2001]). Andrew Bacevich?s contrived effort to debunk the concept (?The Real World War IV,? Wilson Quarterly [Winter 2005]) only succeeds in demonstrating that a fine military analyst, when blinded by parochial passions, can morph into a lousy diplomatic historian.

17 ?Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the Western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counterforce at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points.? George Kennan, ?The Sources of Soviet Conduct,? Foreign Affairs (July 1947). On early covert operations, see Peter Grose, Operation Rollback: America?s Secret War Behind the Iron Curtain (Houghton Mifflin, 2000). On covert action during the 1980s, see Peter Schweizer, Victory: The Reagan Administration?s Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994). For a sample of covert operations in the GWOT, see David Kaplan, ?Hearts, Minds, and Dollars,? U.S. News and World Report (April 18, 2005).

18 To this day, U.S. policymakers remain surprisingly unaware that a leading cause of the transatlantic estrangement throughout the 1990s was the perception, widespread in Europe, that America?s Balkan policy was an attempt to appease the Muslim world at Europe?s expense. America?s heavy-handed ?media management? about the Balkans became the subject of a record number of bestselling books in Europe, and that the Balkan precedent explains in no small part the mood of European public opinion over Iraq in March-April 2003. In fairness, the infatuation of the U.S. chattering class with Balkan Muslims in the 1990s was not any more (or any less) irrational than the infatuation of the EU chattering class with Palestinian Arabs since the early 1970s. In the wake of both 9/11 and 3/11, though, it is to be hoped that both the U.S. and the EU will realize that ?appeasement? of the Muslim Street at each other?s expense simply does not pay.

19 Demographically, Palestinians constitute less than 1 percent of the Muslim world. Historically, their plight owes more to the callousness of successive generations of Arab leaders than to ?Jews-and-Crusaders? who, to this day, contribute more aid than the whole Arab world combined. Politically, the whole Palestinian question boils down to this alternative: 1) either by ?Palestine? one means the Greater Palestine of the 1922 Mandate, in which case it is hard not to notice that a Palestinian state already exists at 78 percent (and Jordan can learn to live without the West Bank the same way Hungary and Romania learned to live without Transylvania and Bessarabia respectively); 2) or one means the current state of Israel and the Territories (i.e. the remaining 22 percent), in which case we are talking about a geographic unit the size of New Jersey ? and any sane person will have to admit that, from communism and fascism to Pol Pot and Rwanda, the twentieth century has known worse tragedies than the ?exodus? of 600,000 people from Trenton to Hoboken (53 miles). It is worth remembering that, at roughly the same time as the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, 10 million Germans were forcibly displaced from Central Europe and Russia, and that the partition of India and (West and East) Pakistan led to the displacement of 17 million people.

20 On Germany and Islam, see Jacob M. Landau, The Politics of Pan-Islam: Ideology and Organization (Clarendon Press, 1990). On Japan and Islam, Selcuk Esenbel, ?Japan?s Global Claim to Asia and the World of Islam: Transnational Nationalism and World Power, 1900-1945,? American Historical Review 109:4 (October 2004). On Chinese Fourth-Generation Warfare doctrine, see Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangui, Unrestricted Warfare (Beijing, 1999). For a comparison between China?s ?Unrestricted Warfare? and America?s ?Shock and Awe,? see Michael G. Dana?s lucid Shock and Awe: America?s 21st Century Maginot Line (Naval War College, 2003). On China?s energy/arms policy in the Greater Middle East and Africa, see Jin Liangxiang, ?Energy First: China in the Middle East,? Middle East Quarterly (Spring 2005); Irwin M. Stelzer, ?The Axis of Oil,? Weekly Standard (February 7, 2005); Dan Blumenthal, ?Providing Arms: China and the Middle East,? Middle East Quarterly (Spring 2005); Thomas Woodrow, ?The Sino-Saudi Connection,? Jamestown Foundation (October 2002); Richard Russell, ?China?s WMD Foot in the Greater Middle East?s Door,? The Middle East Review of International Affairs (September 2005). On China?s ventures in Africa, Princeton Lyman, ?China?s Rising Role in Africa,? Presentation to the U.S.-China Commission (July 21, 2005),

21 Though excessively polemical at times, Bat Ye?Or?s analysis of the Euro-Arab Dialogue that has been going on between the EU and the Arab League since 1973 (Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis [Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005]) has the merit not only of shedding light on this little-known aspect of the EU?s Common Foreign and Security Policy, but also of showing that, within a generation, what began as an inter-civilizational ?Dialogue? has resulted not so much in the Europeanization of the Arab Mind as in the creeping Islamization of the European Mind. Before engaging in a similar ?American-Arab Dialogue,? U.S. policymakers would do well to give serious considerations to what the optimal ?rules of engagement? should be.

22 In a justly celebrated essay published in 2002, Robert Kagan pointedly reminded Europeans that their Kantian zone of permanent peace was underwritten by the U.S. military (?Power and Weakness,? Policy Review [May-June 2002]). More recently, Tod Lindberg sought to move beyond the ensuing debate by reminding ?Martian? Americans and ?Venusian? Europeans alike of this all-too-often overlooked reality: As much as the EU itself, the Alliance is ?a permanent peace treaty among its own members.? (Beyond Paradise and Power: Europe, America and the Future of a Troubled Partnership, Routledge, 2004). Because it includes the two halves of the West, and because it is both a military alliance and an ?ethical community,? the Alliance indeed remains to date the only expression of the West-as-Will-and-Representation. Given the changing security environment, though, NATO?s most urgent task is not so much to beef up its military capabilities (important as that may be) as to strengthen its antiquated political decision-making process and deepen its common strategic culture. On the increasing salience of ?strategic culture? in international relations, see the special issues of International Security 19:4 (Spring 1995) and Strategic Insights 4:100 (October 2005). For fresh thinking on NATO on the European side, see former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar?s NATO: An Alliance for Freedom (FAES, November 2005) (

23 Robert Kagan, ?Whether this war was worth it,? Washington Post (June 19, 2005), and Tod Lindberg, ?Are we creating more terrorists?,? Washington Times (August 16, 2005).

24 For an eerily prescient prognosis on Iraq, see William S. Lind?s ?Occupation and Iraqi Intifada? (April 23, 2003) ( Regarding Iran, it is noteworthy that arch-realist Henry Kissinger himself agrees that military action should not be ruled out if negotiations fail. Kissinger: ?Don?t Exclude Military Action Against Iran if Negotiations Fail,? Council on Foreign Relations (July 14, 2005).

25 As Gerit W. Gong pointed out recently: ?Those who assume Time heals all wounds are wrong. Accelerated by the collision of information technology with concerns of the past, issues of ?remembering and forgetting? are creating history. They are shaping the strategic alignments of the future. . . . In East Asia, Europe and other places where history extends further into the past than in the United States, memory, history and strategic alignments are inextricably linked.? ?The Beginning of History: Remembering and Forgetting as Strategic Issues,? Washington Quarterly (Spring 2004). In last instance, the hold of Global Jihad on the imagination of a significant segment of the Muslim population is not so much due to the Jihadists? stated goals regarding the future (i.e., restoration of the caliphate and/or extension of the sharia) as to the collective memory of the Umma regarding the recent past: namely, that while the Muslim world in the previous century has invariably lost every conventional war even against the smallest powers (Israel), it has often been successful in unconventional warfare, most recently against a superpower (Soviet Union). Needless to say, collective memory (particularly in the Muslim world) often has little to do with factual history; from the point of view of strategic communication, ?memory-shaping? (i.e., setting the historical record straight) is therefore as important as ?theology-shaping.? On t


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« Reply #220 on: January 29, 2006, 11:56:36 AM »
Coming Soon: Nuclear Theocrats?
How to head off the imam bomb.
by Reuel Marc Gerecht
01/30/2006, Volume 011, Issue 19

LET US STATE THE OBVIOUS: The new president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a godsend. The Americans, the Europeans, and even the Russians are now treating clerical Iran's 20-year quest to develop nuclear weapons more seriously. Ahmadinejad's inflamed rhetoric against America, Israel, and the Jews, which is in keeping with the style and substance of the president's former comrades in the praetorian Revolutionary Guard Corps, combined with the clerical regime's decision to restart uranium enrichment, has returned some sense of urgency to efforts to thwart Tehran.

Whatever their merits, the EU-3 negotiations with Tehran--which began in 2003 after an Iranian opposition group publicly broadcast information about Tehran's clandestine nuclear-research program--diminished American attention to Iran's wannabe nuclear theocrats. What had been rapidly becoming a white-hot topic cooled, which was an objective of an administration taxed severely by Iraq and fearful of another row with the Western Europeans. Washington seriously wanted the Europeans to become more supportive in Mesopotamia; they were becoming more engaged on the ground in Afghanistan. We needed the French, Germans, and Brits to "own" our Iran policy, which would, so the sincere proponents of this policy argued, form a united Western front against the Islamic Republic. Ownership would produce responsibility--something the commercially driven Europeans had rarely shown toward the clerical regime, which in the 1980s and 1990s had directly or through its Lebanese proxies frequently assassinated Iranian dissidents in
Europe and even occasionally blown up the natives (the Paris bombings of 1986) without European governments' making much of a fuss. With the Europeans in the lead, nonpetroleum sanctions that might actually have a bite in Tehran would become possible.

The State Department diplomats who devised this strategy probably knew in their hearts that they were seeing possibilities in the Europeans that did not exist. Foreign-service officers working France, Germany, and NATO in 2003 and 2004 knew the depth of the anti-Americanism in Berlin and the cynicism about a nuclear Iran in Paris. But nobody wanted to replace hope with reality, which would lead one to the inexorable conclusion that preventive military strikes were the only way of significantly delaying or derailing Tehran's nuclear program. It's a very good bet that the U.S. officials now running America's Iran policy would rather see the clerics go nuclear than deal with the world the day after Washington begins bombing Iran's atomic-weapons and ballistic-missile facilities.

The unexpected election this past June of President Ahmadinejad, whom the Europeans didn't see coming (neither did the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency), annihilated the essential cosmetics of the EU-3 dialogue with Iran. On the issue of Israel and the iniquity of the Jews, or in his hatred of the United States and its "imperialistic, anti-Islamic, morally destructive culture," Ahmadinejad is, of course, on the same page as Iran's two preeminent mullahs, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the cleric who really got the Islamic Republic's nuclear program rolling in 1989-90, and the country's leader, Ali Khamenei. Anyone who has ever read and remembered Rafsanjani's and Khamenei's speeches since 1979 knows well that both clerics--but especially Khamenei--would have had warm and loquacious evenings with Austrian anti-Semites of yesteryear.

Where Ahmadinejad differs with his two colleagues and with Iran's former "reformist" president Mohammad Khatami (who also can sound like a faithful child of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini when talking about Zion, the Jews, and the destructiveness of American civilization) is that he never really practices taqqiyah, the very Iranian-Shiite art of dissimulation, which historically grew from the trials and tribulations that Shiites have endured in the much larger, often unkind Sunni Muslim world. Khamenei, Khatami, and Rafsanjani, all raised in a prerevolutionary culture accentuated by clerical training, seem to have a much easier time lying. They can shamelessly weave, dodge, and prevaricate. They can in their (usually small) inconsistencies give you hope. (Rafsanjani, the most refined and intelligent of the three, wins the award for being the boldest liar.) In Iran, the very Anglo-American understanding of "truth and consequences," where mendacity leads to pain, is reversed: Honesty, especially with strangers, is
likely to cause trouble.

Ahmadinejad, a child of the Iran-Iraq war's volunteer force of die-hard believers, the Basij, and the more elite but no less determined Revolutionary Guards Corps, who have become a state within a state as the Islamic Republic has aged, has very little of the old-school mendacity. In my experience, Revolutionary Guards actually don't like to lie. Their raison d'?tre is at odds with the historical weakness and fear that underlie taqqiyah or, as it is also often known in Persian, ketman. Unvarnished, unsophisticated, hardened, and usually embittered by one of the most merciless wars of the twentieth century, and contemptuous of sinful, colorful, traditional culture, they are often men of sincere faith. They are pure as only men who've been scorched by war can be. They often cannot hear, let alone analyze, the outside world.

Even if Ahmadinejad understands, as Rafsanjani does, the tactical advantages of trying to drag out negotiations with the Europeans--stall and try to advance as much as possible all aspects of the nuclear-weapons program not under seal by United Nations inspectors--he must find the whole process morally revolting. These are men whom Western secularists, especially spiritually inert "realists," barely understand. Western foreign-policy experts hunt for rational calculations and geostrategic designs where what is staring them in the face is faith, defining, for warriors like Ahmadinejad, both right and wrong and the decisive contours of politics and strategic maps. Westerners firmly believe that corruption, omnipresent in Iran, means a loss of religious virtue and zeal. In fact, in clerical Iran there is relatively little friction between violent faith and graft.

For the Europeans, Ahmadinejad has made it difficult--certainly unseemly--to offer Tehran more carrots to halt its fuel-cycle research. That had been the European approach since France, Germany, and Great Britain became engaged in dissuading the clerical regime from developing the capacity to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium. Trade deals, World Bank loans, membership in the World Trade Organization, a bit of sympathetic anti-American rhetoric from the French and Germans, and other incentives were meant to stimulate in Tehran rational self-interest. The Europeans, particularly those with a large, active commercial presence in Iran, had been assuring the Americans this was in ascendance. It is by no means clear whether the EU-3 ever really thought their approach could slow down, let alone halt, the Iranian nuclear-weapons program. (In 2003, the French and the Germans were at least as concerned about diplomatically neutralizing George W. Bush's perceived bellicosity towards one more axis of evil.) But the
Europeans certainly wanted to try to bribe the clerical regime, and they wanted the Americans to be prepared to offer some lucrative and strategically appealing "grand bargain."

This "realist," incentive-fond sentiment has been powerfully present in Foggy Bottom, which now dominates foreign policy--particularly Iran policy--in the Bush administration. Truth be told, the important voices at the State Department on Iran, which comprise now and then the Near East Bureau diplomats but especially the Europeanists riding high under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, would have preferred to adopt a strategy geared more toward carrots than sticks. Engagement is a reflex at State: If diplomacy is seen essentially as a substitute for, not an intimately intertwined complement to, the threat and use of force, this disposition is unavoidable.

Past experience ought to countervail, but it does not. Each time the United States has tried to engage revolutionary Iran--Zbigniew Brzezinski's mission to Algeria in 1979, Robert McFarlane's Iran-contra trip to Tehran in 1986, and President Bill Clinton's and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's forgive-the-West apologias to Iranian president Mohammad Khatami in 2000--the effort has been either a disaster (Brzezinski and McFarlane) or an embarrassing flop (Clinton-Albright). This Bush administration tried in December 2003, as did the administration of Bush p?re in June 1990, to reach out to Tehran after terrible earthquakes. Both times, during periods of relative political moderation in the Islamic Republic, American aid was rejected.

Yet it's not hard to find State Department and CIA officials who still believe that the "reformers," "clerical leftists," and "conservative pragmatists" (labeling the Iranian elite is a tricky, protean affair) would possibly cut a deal with the United States if they didn't have to contend with the "hardliners" in their midst. (The fact that the Islamic Republic probably made its most profound clandestine nuclear strides during the presidency of the "clerical leftist reformer" Mohammad Khatami and the overlordship of the "conservative pragmatists" Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ali Khamenei doesn't seem to get in the way of this reasoning.) A variation of this theme runs through the often-heard queries from scholars, journalists, and U.S. and European officials about whether Iran's current president really has much influence over Iran's nuclear program. In other words, Can't we please go back to the attitude we had under Khatami, Rafsanjani, and Khamenei, when we could more easily deceive ourselves about the
enormous nuclear progress the Iranians were making?

Though the administration, with the State Department in the lead, is probably going to make a valiant attempt to moderate our response to clerical Iran's decision to remove the United Nations seals on its enrichment facility at Natanz--the CIA did say, after all, in August 2005, that we might have as much as 10 years before Iran goes nuclear--we might well be at the defining moment: Will we really try to confront the mullahs' quest for nukes? The odds are decent that the Iranians, who are now controlling the calendar, will force our hand. It is quite possible the clerical regime has chosen to confront the EU-3, the United States, and the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency now because all that is lacking in its weapons program is to complete the fuel cycle--Iran has the missiles and reliable, Pakistani-tested weapons designs. Khamenei and Rafsanjani, let alone Ahmadinejad, are simply no longer willing to delay the program that they have nourished since the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

EITHER WE ARE GOING TO HAVE a serious policy incorporating but going beyond the European approach, where we put down trip-wires that will signal loudly that we are failing, or we will descend into a surreal process of tepid, ineffective sanctions, orchestrated through the U.N. Security Council or, given a Russian or Chinese veto, through a U.S.-EU-3 alliance (assuming the Europeans can bring themselves to implement the most minimal sanctions that would not affect their trade balance or the new-age Kantian hope that it's never too late to have more negotiations). Either the Bush administration makes a serious attempt at democracy promotion inside Iran--which has the most advanced democratic culture struggling against tyranny anywhere in the Middle East--or it runs the serious risk of having its "transformational diplomacy" agenda, which the upper reaches of the State Department, not to mention the president of the United States, seem to believe in sincerely, implode from an overdose of hypocrisy.

Even the most successful foreign policies will have a wide range of pretty glaring contradictions. However, there are limits. It is one thing for the Bush administration to downplay or ignore democracy in Pakistan, a front-line state against al Qaeda's surviving leadership, or in Azerbaijan, an oil-rich little land along the Caspian Sea, or in Libya, an underpopulated, undeveloped country that has had little luck since the fall of Carthage. It's something else entirely to do so in Egypt, still the lodestone in the Arab world, or in clerical Iran, the most powerful and nefarious state in the Middle East, which happens to have also the most pro-American Muslim population in the region. Sustained insincerity toward either will desiccate the democratic spirit within the American government, especially within the State Department, where those officials who truly want to support the expansion of democracy among Muslims fight a constant campaign against the Near East Bureau's professionals, who oppose changing the s
tatus quo in the region. Needless to say, the positive ramifications of one of the Muslim world's two dictatorial, missionary Islamist states (Saudia Arabia is the other) collapsing into a democracy would be enormous.

A more serious American-European approach to clerical Iran's quest for nuclear weapons would cast the administration more conspicuously as the bad cop. The entire EU-3 approach to Tehran, more thoughtful European diplomats will tell you, is premised on Washington's playing the imperfectly restrained cowboy: The Iranians need to know that over the horizon waits George W. Bush, the mad bomber. More often, senior American officials, and especially the president, need to remind Iran's ruling clergy, connoisseurs of machtpolitik--and the Europeans who are ever ready to appease them--that the United States is quite capable of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and simultaneously, if need be, launching airstrikes against the clerics' nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile facilities. The Iranians and the Europeans both thought the Americans were capable of such actions in 2003; the president and the vice president are surely capable, since many abroad view them as fundamentally unstable, of sending the signal that if t
he will exists, the United States will find the means. The objective is not to sound crudely bellicose, but to underscore that American patience is finite. The president used just the right language in his recent comments that the Islamic Republic's uranium enrichment program is "intolerable" and a "grave threat." Senior administration officials, and American ambassadors in the Middle East, should use such words more often, especially when any member of the ruling elite in Iran starts to thump his chest, envisioning Armageddon for Jews or anyone else.

The Bush administration should insist on adding benchmarks, with consequences, to the EU-3 and United Nations approaches. The administration has worked up a whole series of possible nonpetroleum sanction measures against Iran. The French, who are usually intellectually serious even when they are politically and strategically cynical and frivolous, have done likewise. Paris has concluded that Tehran, even with oil over $60 a barrel, may be more sensitive to sanctions pain than it realizes. The State Department should have already pushed aggressively, starting in Paris, to get the French, Germans, and British to agree to small-scale sanction trip-wires that would operate independently and in advance of any referral to the Security Council.

For example, the gradual revocation of visas to Iranian students on government stipends studying the hard sciences in EU-3 countries and the cancellation of all science-related exchange programs would have been a good place to begin, especially since such actions in the past have been discussed in Europe in response to earlier Iranian sins. It is entirely possible, if not probable, that the Europeans would have refused, but such efforts would have at least set the stage for where we will likely soon be: either a defeat in the Security Council on implementing even the weakest of sanctions or a token victory which is actually a defeat, that is, a temporary sanctions regime that has no bite and no clear timetable for a rapid escalation to more serious measures.

If the Europeans are unwilling to use any big, highly visible sticks unilaterally--for the French and Germans this would mean halting major industrial projects in Iran--then it's simply impossible for the West to generate an intimidating image. One hears often that senior State Department officials envisage isolating Iran as the West once isolated South Africa. It's an odd comparison since South Africa's economy was more diversified and globalized--thus more subject to pain--than Iran's oil-based economy operating in a market where small dips in supply can cause significant spikes in price. And the ruling whites in South Africa were Western and among themselves democratic, and thus much more subject to the ethical and spiritual pressure from being ostracized by the rest of Western civilization. The ruling elite in Iran suffers no similar angst. Distaste for white racism is vastly more galvanizing in Western Europe than fear of Iranian nukes. In Europe's postwar ethics, the sanctions against South Africa were
a chic expression of soft power, any serious sanctions against Iran a crude Americanesque expression of hard power against a third-world country.

Ideally, what the United States needs is to replicate the economy-crushing sanctions the West threw at Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh after he nationalized British petroleum in Iran in 1951. There are many reasons why Mossadegh fell to a very lamely executed and inexpensive coup in 1953, but among the most important was the effective oil embargo, which helped turn a popular prime minister into an unpopular one in less than a year. Such an embargo is unlikely today, when all in the West fear the possible economic shock from higher energy costs. But if there is such a thing as a non-oil-related intimidating sanction against the Islamic Republic--and there might possibly be, depending on how much the ruling Iranian elite fears that the country's precarious economic state could be significantly hurt by European sanctions--the doom and gloom need to be convincing from the start. Dribbling out little sanctions--the likely product of three years of US-EU-3 cooperation--won't do it.

Indeed, that approach would surely embolden the clerical regime, at home and abroad. We would have shown ourselves, to the Iranians and everyone else in the Middle East, to be, once again, paper tigers. Contrary to the usual commentary, it is American weakness on the Iranian nuclear question, not firm resolve, that is likely to embolden the mullahs in Iraq, Lebanon, the West Bank, and elsewhere. If you're the mullahs, which seems more like a propitious signal from God: a functioning Iranian nuke, acquired against the will of the Great Satan, or a barrage of American bombs and missiles destroying the atomic core of clerical prestige and awe?

Using the EU-3-United Nations approach against Iran wasn't a bad idea in 2003--so long as the Bush administration doesn't now get addicted to the process, an occupational hazard of allowing foreign-service officers to take the lead in developing policy. It should be said that Nicholas Burns, the lead official on Iran policy, appears to be the only senior official with the energy and desire to keep dealing with this ugly issue, which is going to hit this administration like a freight train. Right or wrong in his decisions, he seems to be operating in a policy vacuum. The administration needs a resolute and farsighted policy that will break from this diplomatic process--assuming the Iranians don't do it for us--when further dithering becomes clearly counterproductive. In other words, when we become weaker, not stronger, in the eyes of the clerics. We are just about there.

Eventually, assuming the State Department's European strategy falls apart because the Europeans will not play, we will have to make up our minds whether nukes in the hands of Khamenei, Rafsanjani, and Ahmadinejad are "intolerable" or not. If so, then we will have to prepare to bomb. (The other good thing about the EU-3 process with Iran is that it is actually rhetorically and morally preparing the arguments and language for a preventive military strike, if we must go in that direction. The astute European participants in this process know this, which provokes both considerable anxiety and, in some, relief.)

AND SOONER, not later, we need to decide whether we are serious about promoting democracy in Iran, whether we will continue to hold democracy-promotion hostage to these quite possibly never ending discussions. (The administration may try to deny that it has done so, but when the government steers NGOs and think tanks away from developing dissident-support programs for Iranians, suggesting that money is more likely to be forthcoming for dissident-support in Syria, then the administration is in sync, if not full agreement, with many Western Europeans, who see democracy advocacy in Iran, and elsewhere in the Middle East, as a synonym for unwanted regime change.) In fact, we were never going to lose the EU-3 approach because of greater American support for dissidents and democracy in Iran. The State Department didn't need to preempt itself in preparation for a "grand bargain" that astute minds at State and in the White House knew was never going to happen. It is worthwhile to recall the commentary of Ken Pollack,
who was one of the promoters of U.S.-Iranian d?tente in the Clinton administration's National Security Council:

I felt that we had come very close to making a major breakthrough with Iran that if only we had done a few things differently. . . . We might have been able to make it happen. Over the years, however, I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong in this assessment. . . . Iran was ruled by a regime in which the lion's share of power--and everything that really mattered--was in the hands of people who were not ready or interested in improving ties with the United States.
No one seriously believes the Iranian regime is better now.

So is there any reason Condoleezza Rice, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Burns, the NSC boss on the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and the public diplomacy czarina Karen Hughes can't regularly give speeches defending dissidents in Iran--let's name them--and the institutions of free speech? The Persian service of Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty has been completely neutered. Is there a reason--other than the "grand bargain"--the United States doesn't have a surrogate radio service for a country President Bush calls one of the gravest threats we face in the world? Don't we want RFE-RL to develop an in-country network of sources (yes, it's dangerous) that can tell the Iranian people things the regime will not allow into the Iranian press? If the Iranian people deserve to live in freedom, and President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have both said that they do, why can't we fund and develop radio and television programs that continually reveal the ugly, corrupt, and violent side of clerical rule?

The regime in Tehran constantly tells us what it fears most: clerical dissent. Why can't American officials give speeches defending religious freedom in Iran? Ali Khamenei's Achilles' heel is that he is a politicized, pathetic religious "scholar" ruling over a theocratic state where accomplished clerics, who don't believe at all in the political rule of religious jurisconsults, are silenced. This is the issue between Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq, and the school of Najaf behind him, and the clerical regime in Iran. The Clerical Court in Tehran is often a busy place because there have been a lot of refractory mullahs who think the regime is ruining the clergy and Islam. Hammer the point. Understandably, internal clerical politics may be a hard thing for nonspecialist senior officials to wrap a policy around. But it is critical to play on this if we intend to bring real pressure.

Remember: It's not what we think that is crucial. Our objective is to generate internal debate, which inevitably happens when the United States government decides to focus its attention inside Iran. Iranian society is quite open to the power of the American bully pulpit. Iranians may not have a very good idea at all about what is going on in Afghanistan, but they follow the United States. Given our advantages and their weakness, the overt side of American diplomacy is astonishingly weak.

And is there any reason American covert action against clerical Iran essentially doesn't exist? According to intelligence officials, Langley has a little under 200 officers on its operational Iran desk and around 40 analysts working full-time on the Islamic Republic. What in the world are they doing? According to CIA officers in the Near East Division, the agency had more Iranian assets 20 years ago than it does today, and it used far fewer officers. (And I can say from firsthand experience, the Iran operational units then were bloated.) The CIA is, without a doubt, the most overstuffed national-security bureaucracy in Washington. Somebody in the White House and Congress really ought to take CIA director Porter Goss aside and do a bang-for-the-buck audit of what Langley is doing against Iran. According to one CIA case officer in the Near East Division, there's not even a presidential covert-action finding "that would allow us to sh--in the country." The agency will never again become okay at covert action unl
ess it tries. CA work is like a muscle. With exercise, it gains definition, endurance, and strength.

Since overt American activity and meaningful political NGO work inside Iran are excruciatingly difficult--the regime is likely to imprison or kill those who take any U.S. aid, directly or indirectly--pro-democracy covert-action programs are really the only means to confront the clerics inside Iran. Just using Cold War parallels from the Soviet Union, or past activities in Iran, there is a long laundry list of things we could be doing. Is there any ethical or strategic reason Iranians who want clandestine U.S. support for pro-democratic activities deserve it less than did Poles in the 1980s? Why don't we let Iranians themselves judge whether they want to work clandestinely with the United States? It is for them, not us, to decide whether helping dissidents stay afloat and organize unions is worthwhile. If serious Iranians don't want to do these things, then such efforts will go nowhere. Covert action is a means of encouraging voluntary activity where the proof is always in the pudding.

Such clandestine action is unlikely to be a panacea for the current nuclear problem, but it would at least move the United States from the status quo, which certainly isn't advancing the democratic cause inside the Islamic Republic. What do we have to lose that we haven't lost already? Rebuilding CIA capacity won't be quick--odds are good the Iranians will get the bomb first. We should have restarted this undertaking in the Clinton administration when it became clear to the deaf, dumb, and blind that Khatami was not going to challenge the clerical order. The sooner we start this process, the more alternatives we will have to aid Iranians who are trying to build the institutions undergirding a civil, democratic society.

Remember: Ahmadinejad is heaven sent. Unfortunately, things in Iran are probably going to have to get a lot worse before they can get better. He and his supporters may ruin the economy and galvanize a much broader and braver base of internal opposition to the regime. He may add jet fuel to internal clerical dissent and open up lethal fissures in the ruling elite. No doubt, he will do all that he can to convulse and purify his society. Will we be ready to handle the challenge and the opportunity?

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.

? Copyright 2005, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.


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Iraq Fact v. Fiction
« Reply #221 on: February 02, 2006, 11:55:13 AM »
Facts vs. Fiction: A Report from the Front
By Karl Zinsmeister

Your editor has just returned from another month in Iraq?my fourth extended tour in the last two and a half years. During November and December I joined numerous American combat operations, including the largest air assault since the beginning of the war, walked miles of streets and roads, entered scores of homes, listened to hundreds of Iraqis, observed voting at a dozen different polling sites, and endured my third roadside ambush. With this latest firsthand experience, here are answers to some common queries about how the war is faring.
Has the Iraq war been too costly?
Well, nearly every war is riddled with disappointment and pain, Iraq certainly included. But judged fairly, Iraq has been much less costly and debacle-ridden than the Civil War, World War II, Korea, and the Cold War?each considered in retrospect to have been noble successes.
President Lincoln had to try five different commanders before settling on Ulysses Grant, and even Grant stumbled many times on the way to victory. The Union Army suffered 390,000 dead in four years, with fully 29 percent of the men who served being killed or wounded in what some critics claimed was ?an unnecessary war.?
World War II was a serial bloodbath. Battles like Iwo Jima, Anzio, Ardennes, and Okinawa each killed, in a matter of days and weeks, several times the number of soldiers we have lost in Iraq. Intelligence was wrong. Planning failed. Brutal collateral damage was done to civilian non-combatants. Soldiers were killed by friendly fire. POWs were sometimes executed. Military and civilian leaders miscalculated repeatedly. During WWII, 7 percent of our G.I.s were killed or wounded.
Korea was first lost before it could be re-taken, at great cost, and thanks to political interference the war ended in a fruitless stalemate. Fully 8 percent of the American soldiers who fought on the Korean peninsula were killed or wounded.
The Cold War spawned by President Roosevelt?s expedient alliance with Stalin and other communists brought totalitarian bleakness and death to millions, endless proxy wars that consumed hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of American and allied lives, and a near-nuclear exchange during President Kennedy?s watch.
Yet ugly as they were, each of the wars above eventually made the world a less bloody place by removing tyrants and transforming cultures. Those same goals drive our war against Middle Eastern extremism that is now centered in Iraq.
In Iraq, 4 percent of our soldiers have been killed or wounded. Those losses are lower than we suffered in nine previous wars. The Civil War, Mexican War, War of Independence, Korean War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and Philippine War were all half-again or more as costly as Iraq has been.
But aren?t our losses mounting?
In the last ten months of 2003, Iraq hostilities claimed 324 U.S. service members. In 2004, 710 were lost. In 2005, total fatalities were 712. Troops wounded in action are down from 7,920 in 2004 to 5,961 in 2005.
Deaths of foreign civilians in Iraq have also tumbled: In 2004, 196 were killed. In 2005 the toll was 104.
Economic losses are also moderating. Attacks carried out on oil and gas facilities in Iraq can serve as an indicator of this. There were 146 such attacks in 2004, versus 101 in 2005.
Meanwhile, the estimated number of terrorists killed or detained in Iraq was 24,470 in 2004, and 26,500 in 2005.
How is the morale of our soldiers holding up?
Accepting the possibility of being hurt is a part of security work. It?s easy to overlook the reality that 800 public safety officers have been killed in the line of duty right here on our own home shores since the beginning of the Iraq war. This summer, the U.S. general in charge of our National Guard put his Iraq casualties in some perspective: ?I lose, unfortunately, more people through private automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents over the same period of time.?
While always wrenching, the risks in Iraq have been overblown. And the morale of soldiers, in my experience, is much higher than one might expect. Other journalists who have spent weeks and weeks with soldiers, like Robert Kaplan, have similarly observed that our G.I.s are generally not disenchanted, but remain very spirited.
The proof of the pudding: Individuals who have actually served in Iraq and Afghanistan are signing up again at record rates. Re-enlistment totals in the active Army over the last three years are more than 6 percent above targets. Over a third of Army re-enlistments now take place in combat zones.
Today?s supposed hemorrhaging in military manpower is mostly a fiction manufactured by the media. Moderate shortfalls in recruiting new bodies have hit reserve and National Guard units. The latest Army Reserve recruiting class, for instance, totaled only 96 percent of the goal.
All active duty branches, however, are exceeding their recruiting requirements in the latest monthly figures from the Department of Defense (released in December). The Army and Marine Corps (who are doing most of the hard service in Iraq) were each at 105 percent of their quotas. After a dip early in 2005, the Army has met or exceeded its goals for new recruits in every month since June. One source of pressure on the active-duty Army is the process of expanding from 482,000 soldiers to 512,000, as a dozen new combat brigades are added to the force.
We are at war, and our Army and Marines are being used hard. But there is no crisis of alienated servicemen.
But don?t American combat losses fall disproportionately on minorities and the poor?
That?s another myth. Though blacks and Hispanics make up 15 percent and 18 percent of America?s young-adult population respectively, they have each represented less than 11 percent of the fatalities in Iraq. Fully 75 percent of the soldiers killed in Iraq have been whites (who make up 61 percent of our military-age population).
Demographic data show, furthermore, that U.S. service-members come from a cross-section of American society, and basically match the wider population in family educational and socioeconomic status.
If there is an imbalance in who is carrying the military load in Iraq it is between Red and Blue America. In two years of fighting in Iraq, 33 percent of U.S. military fatalities came from rural areas, though only 20 percent of the U.S. population is rural. Both city dwellers (29 percent of the U.S. population, 26 percent of Iraq fatalities) and suburbanites (51 percent of the population, 41 percent of the dead) are underrepresented among today?s war casualties.
John Kerry recently claimed U.S. soldiers are ?terrorizing? Iraqis. The #2 Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin, compared American fighters to ?Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime?Pol Pot or others?that had no concern for human beings.? Ted Kennedy suggested G.I.s torture like Saddam Hussein. What have you observed?
None of the above. I mostly see soldiers fighting with startling care and commitment. Take, for instance, Staff Sergeant Jamie McIntyre of Queens, New York, who recently had this to say:
?I look at faces and see fellow human beings, and I say, ?O.K. This is the sacrifice I have to make to bring them freedom.? That?s why I joined the military. Not for the college money, for doing what?s right. Fighting under our flag. That?s what our flag stands for. I believe in that stuff. Yeah, we might lose American soldiers, but they are going to lose a society, lose a people. You?ve got to look at the bigger picture. I?ve lost friends, and it hurts. It definitely hurts. But that?s even more reason why I say stay. It?s something that has to be done. If we don?t do it, who will??
An e-mail I received on December 26 from a friend serving in Baghdad provides two good examples of the sort of disciplined dedication one sees regularly in Iraq:
?We lost a young soldier?. This soldier didn?t have to be here and he didn?t have to die on Christmas Day. He was wounded in action in April and evacuated to the States for recovery. After three months on the mend, he requested to come back to rejoin his team. His name was Specialist Sergio Gudino.
?Also on Christmas Day, a newly hired Iraqi interpreter pulled a gun on one of our soldiers who works with sensitive intelligence. The Iraqi spy made Specialist Steven Clark bring him to his work space so he could look at his computer work station. The interpreter briefly turned his back to Clark and our guy immediately pulled his 9mm pistol and emptied his magazine into the Iraqi. The interpreter also got six shots off, one of which hit the soldier in his left breast pocket, but a notebook and ID card stopped the bullet. When I talked to Clark he said, ?I thought I was going to die and couldn?t believe it when the guy turned his back to me.? Interesting detail: this soldier has been awarded the Purple Heart FOUR times. He?s another one who doesn?t have to be here. Message to all the naysayers back home: If you think these kids aren?t committed to this mission, and don?t believe in what they are doing, guess again.?
?The idea that we?re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong,? opined Democratic chairman Howard Dean in December. Who agrees with him?
Well, most academics and journalists seem to. Military leaders, however, do not.
In September and October 2005, Princeton Survey Research asked various American leadership groups whether they believe the U.S. will succeed or fail in establishing a stable democratic government in Iraq. Most academics agree with Howard Dean: only a quarter say we will ?succeed.? Most journalists agree with Dean: Only one third answer ?succeed.? Among military officers, however, two thirds say the U.S. will succeed in Iraq.
Progress does seem dreadfully slow.
It is. Defanging the Middle East is a vast undertaking. But again, wars have never been easy or antiseptic. Even after the hostilities of World War II were over, the U.S. occupied Japan for seven years of stabilization and reconstruction, and West Germany for four years (the first year, the Germans nearly starved).
And a guerilla war like we face in Iraq generally requires even more stamina. Eliminating a terror insurgency has historically taken a decade or two. It?s like eradicating smallpox; you must squeeze and squeeze and squeeze, and show great patience. Our occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War is a closer example of what we face in Iraq; we fought an extensive insurgency there for years, then remained in the country for nearly a century, with very positive eventual results.
Interestingly, our soldiers appear to better understand the incremental nature of this war than many reporters, pundits, and politicians. ?Americans seem to kind of want this McDonald?s war, where you drive up, you order it, you pay for it, you go to the next window and get a democracy. That?s not the way it works,? cautioned Army reservist Scott Southworth recently. ?It takes a lot of effort; it takes a lot of time.?
Morass or not, this war seems to be especially unpopular on the homefront.
Actually, a substantial minority has opposed almost every war prosecuted by our nation. This was true right from the American Revolution?which a large proportion of Tory elites (including most New York City residents) insisted was an ill-considered and quixotic mistake.
Only in 20/20 hindsight have our wars been reinterpreted as righteous and widely supported by a unified nation. Even World War II, the ultimate ?good? war fought by the ?greatest? generation, was deeply controversial at the time. Fully 6,000 Americans went to prison as war resisters during the years our troops were conquering fascism in Europe and Japan.
There?s no reason to think of the Iraq war as more unpopular than any other U.S. war. If it is prosecuted to success, there?s little doubt that the war against terror in Iraq will in retrospect look just as wise and worthy as previous sacrifices. But there is a wild card: Would the nation have retained the nerve to finish previous successful wars if there had been contemporary-style news coverage of battles like Camden, the Wilderness, or Tarawa?
Where is some evidence that we?re making headway?
In December, Iraqis filed a record number of tips informing on insurgents. That shows growing political and social cooperation. Iraq is also beginning to recover economically. Over the last generation, this was one of the globe?s worst-governed nations, and recovering from the long neglect of plants, factories, utility lines, canals, roads, schools, houses, and commercial districts will take decades. Every time I walk Iraq?s streets and farmyards I am stunned by the raggedness of its physical and social fabric.
But despite the best efforts of terrorists to further damage economic infrastructure, a rebound has begun. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund estimate that Iraqi national income per capita exceeded $1,050 in 2005?up more than 30 percent from the year before the war began ($802 in 2002). One consumer survey by British researchers found that average household income rose 60 percent from February 2004 to November 2005. The IMF projects that Iraq?s gross domestic product will grow 17 percent in 2006 after inflation.
Evidence of growth can be seen in the jump in car usage. The number of registered autos has more than doubled, and traffic is estimated to be five times as heavy as before the war. Purchases of nearly all consumer goods?air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, farm machinery, computers?are soaring. Cell phone ownership has jumped from 6 percent in early 2004 to over 65 percent today.
TV satellite dishes are as ubiquitous as mobile phones, and now sprout from even the rudest abodes in Iraq?s most out-of-the-way corners. Fully 86 percent of Iraqi households reported having satellite TV at the end of 2005. The number of Iraqi commercial TV stations is now 44, and there are 72 commercial radio stations (there were none of either prior to 2003). The number of newspapers exceeds 100.
After two decades of classroom deterioration, Iraqi children are now flooding back to school. Making this possible is a jump in teacher salaries from just a few dollars per month under Saddam to an average of $100 per month today. Parents are delighted: the proportion saying their locals schools are good has risen to 74 percent. By 3:1 they say local education is better than before the war.
Then why do Iraqis seem so dissatisfied?
Make no mistake: Iraq is broken. Most residents have never known proper sewage service, 24 hour electricity, or decent health care.
And improvement could be faster. Both terror attacks and the Arab tradition of endemic corruption are making today?s economic recovery less booming than it would otherwise be. Another damper has been the failure of our Western allies to make good on their promises of Iraq aid: Of the $13.6 billion European and other nations pledged to help rebuild Iraq, only a couple billion has so far been delivered.
All the same, progress is visible in Iraq, not just to observers like me but to Iraqis themselves. There is ample proof of this in the latest scientific poll of the Iraqi public, released December 12 by Oxford Research International. Asked how things are going for them personally, 71 percent of Iraqis now say life is ?good,? compared to 29 percent who say ?bad.? A majority insist that despite the war, life is already better for them than it was under Saddam Hussein. By 5:1 they expect their lives will be even better one year from now. Seven out of ten Iraqis think their country as a whole will be a better place in one year.
Iraqis are particularly pleased about trends in security. By 61 to 38 percent, they say security where they live is now ?good? rather than ?bad.? Back at the beginning of 2004 those numbers were reversed (49 percent good, 50 percent bad). On a vast range of specific subjects?from the availability of clean water and medical care to their ability to buy household basics?Iraqis say things are good and getting better. Fully 70 percent say ?my family?s economic situation is good,? and 78 percent rate their new freedom of speech as ?good.?
The Iraqis don?t seem to be doing much for themselves.
Actually, the ranks of Iraqi security forces passed the number of U.S. soldiers in the country back in March 2005. At present, their total exceeds 200,000 men. Iraqi soldiers, police, and guards were much more in evidence, and more competent, when I accompanied them on raids and searches in late 2005 than they were during my earlier reporting visits in 2003-2005. As of December 2005, one quarter of all military operations conducted in Iraq were carried out exclusively by Iraqi units. Another half were carried out by joint Iraqi-U.S. forces.
Despite many cruel suicide attacks, Iraqis continue to sign up in droves to become soldiers and police, and they are fighting. In 2003 and 2004, Iraqi soldiers and police frequently turned tail when engaged. Since the January 2005 election, however, not a single Iraqi army unit has been defeated in battle, and not one police station has been abandoned.
?Every police station here has a dozen or more memorials for officers that were murdered,? notes Sergeant Walter Rausch of the 101st Airborne. ?These are husbands, fathers, and sons killed every day. The media never reports the heroism I witness every day in Iraqis.?
The Iraqi public, however, is noticing. In November 2005, 67 percent expressed confidence in the new Iraqi army (up from 39 percent two years earlier); 68 percent say they have confidence in the police (up from 45 percent).
Iraqi units still depend upon American counterparts for transport, planning, training, heavy weaponry, and leadership, but in most combat operations I accompanied this winter, and nearly all traffic control points and perimeter guard posts, Iraqis were the lead elements. After bearing the brunt of daily casualties over the last year, the number of Iraqi security forces killed is now declining. Monthly deaths of Iraqi soldiers and police climbed steadily to a peak of 304 in July 2005, then fell just as steadily to 193 by December 2005.
Are there signs of the Iraqis weaning themselves from dependence on the U.S.?
In the first two years after the U.S. arrived, nearly every conversation between Iraqis and Americans that I witnessed ended with a wish list. Can you do this? We need that. What will you give me?
That has largely changed. Vast swathes of the country are now policed and administered solely by Iraqis. And residents are beginning to look to their own government, ministries, security forces, and internal leaders for solutions they used to beg Americans to provide.
Late in 2005, American journalist Hart Seely described a meeting he monitored between reporters from Iraq?s brand new independent press and leaders of Iraq?s brand new army. No open dialogue like that had ever taken place before in Iraq, and it was tentative and halting. But ?it was the Iraqi media pulling information from Iraqi generals?not looking to the Americans for answers.? That?s progress.
Do average Iraqis support the insurgents?
Those carrying out terror in Iraq, never more than a small fraction of the population, are now deeply resented by most residents. Though Americans are the outsiders who come from furthest away, physically and culturally, in most of Iraq it?s now the insurgents who are viewed as the most threatening alien invaders.
It is a fact almost never reported in the U.S. that a significant number of the suicide bombers who carry out the most horrendous attacks in Iraq are coerced or manipulated into doing so. Naked deception plus religious, economic, strong-arm, and pharmacological pressures are commonly used to enlist foreign and Iraqi triggermen.
At one base where I was embedded for a time, a car loaded with explosives pulled up to the front gate and detonated. Construction of the bomb was botched, however, and the badly burned driver survived long enough to talk to guards at the entrance. It turned out the wife and children of the driver (who was handcuffed to the steering wheel) had been kidnapped, and he was informed they would be killed if he didn?t drive the car as instructed. A triggerman in a following vehicle actually initiated the blast, wirelessly, then fled.
Sometimes the drivers of car bombs do not even know what they are carrying. In addition, many fighters have been found, when wounded or killed, to be full of drugs. (TAE first reported this after the battle of Fallujah, in our J/F 2005 issue.)
Western reporters have emphasized the many ethnic and religious schisms that divide Iraqis. They rarely note that there are also some countervailing common interests, social forces, and leaders who pull Iraqis together. An observation passed to me by a U.S. commander after the December 15 election illustrates some of these positive forces:
?The highlight of my day was in Mahmoudiyah (south Baghdad) where there were no polling stations in the January election, and where many Sunnis refused to vote in October. I watched as two affluent local sheiks walked into the polling station together holding hands (a big sign of respect here). One sheik was Shia, the other Sunni. I stopped them and offered my congratulations on a great day for the people and country of Iraq. They both told me how much they appreciated what the United States had done for them, and that they could never repay us. I told them we neither needed nor expected repayment, but if they wanted to show their appreciation they needed to ensure that the move toward democracy continued and that Sunni and Shia come together to live in peace. The Sunni sheik said, ?We are tired of violence and fighting that destroys our people and our country.? These two guys got it.?
But in the wider Muslim world, hasn?t the Iraq war done irreparable damage to America?s image?
As terrorists? attacks have shed light on their goals and principles, and as the U.S. has shown it is serious about promoting democracy in Iraq and then going home, new views of America are evolving in Islamic countries. According to surveys in 17 nations carried out in 2005 by an organization chaired by Madeleine Albright, support for terrorism in defense of Islam has ?declined dramatically? in the last couple years?from 73 percent to 26 percent in Lebanon, from 40 percent down to 13 percent in Morocco, from 41 percent to 25 percent in Pakistan.
Support for Osama bin Laden has plummeted in nearly every Islamic nation. Rationalizing suicide bombing and violence against civilian targets is way down. A majority of Muslims in many nations now ?see Islamic extremism as a threat to their countries.? And majorities of Muslims in many countries now believe that ?the U.S. favors democracy in their country??and rather like the idea. The upshot: positive views of the U.S. are rising?up 23 percentage points in Indonesia, up 15 points in Lebanon, up 16 in Jordan.
Isn?t it a pipe dream to think we can introduce democracy to the Middle East?so long dominated by strongmen?
That?s the $64,000 question, and no one knows the answer for sure. But there are signs in Iraq that a surprisingly patient representative politics may be breaking out for the first time ever. To begin, 8 million Iraqis voted for an interim government in January 2005, and almost 10 million voted on the constitution. Then (in a nation with just 14 million adults) 11 million voted in December 2005 for the first permanent parliament.
At this point, all of Iraq?s major factions, including the disaffected Sunnis, are participating in the political process, and many barriers have been breached for the first time. For instance, 31 percent of the legislators elected to the interim parliament were female?which is not only unprecedented for the Middle East but higher than the fraction of women in the U.S. Congress. Power in Iraq?s new National Assembly is reasonably balanced, with no one faction holding a whip hand against the others, and compromise is the requirement of the day.
The new Iraqi constitution guarantees freedom of religion and conscience, and provides forms of due process unknown in any other Middle Eastern country. How scrupulously these will be defended remains to be seen. But there is a framework for basic decencies and liberties that no other Arab nations even pretend to honor. As Christopher Hitchens has put it, ?in a country that was dying on its feet and poisoning the region a couple of years ago, there is now a real political process that has serious implications for adjacent countries.?
Noting what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, more and more Muslims are now saying they are ready to live under selfrule. In the 2005 survey in 17 countries I mentioned above, the proportion saying democracy is not just for the West but could work well in their own country exceeded 80 percent in places like Morocco, Lebanon, and Jordan. Even in problematic countries like Pakistan, the portion of the public favoring multiparty democracy has become larger than any other faction.
Why do I never hear any of this in most reporting?
A good question. More than perhaps any news event in a generation, coverage of the Iraq war has been unbalanced and incomplete. The dangers that keep most Western reporters completely cloistered in the artificial bubble of a few heavily guarded hotels create many distortions. But the disdain of the press corps for this war is also crystal clear in the overall reporting.
One media critic (Arthur Chrenkoff) did a content analysis of a typical day (January 21, 2005), and counted this breakout of freshly published stories on Iraq:
? 1,992 covering terrorist attacks
? 887 essays alleging prisoner abuse by the British
? 289 about American casualties or civilian deaths in Iraq
? 27 mentions of oil pipeline sabotage
? 761 reports on public statements of terrorists
? 357 on U.S. anti-war protestors
? 121 speculations on a possible American pullout
? 118 articles about strains with European nations
? 217 stories worrying over the validity of the upcoming January 30 Iraqi election
? 216 tales of hostages in Iraq
? 123 quoting Vice President Cheney saying he had underestimated reconstruction needs
? 2,642 items on a Senate grilling of Condoleezza Rice over Iraq policy
Balanced against these negative stories, Chrenkoff ?s computer search found a grand total of 96 comparatively positive reports related to Iraq:
? 16 reports on successful operations against insurgents
? 7 hopeful stories about Iraqi elections
? 73 describing the return of missing Iraqi antiquities
Tendentious reporting is clouding understanding and spawning inaccuracies. In January 2005, for instance, the New York Times editorial board had become convinced that civil war was just around the corner in Iraq and suggested ?it?s time to talk about postponing [Iraq?s first] elections.? Less than two weeks later came the popular outpouring that inspired observers around the globe. Snookered yet again by over-gloomy reporting, the Times insisted on October 7 that Iraqis were ?going through the motions of democracy only as long as their side wins.? Just days after, the minority Sunnis announced they were joining the political process, and turned out in force to vote on the constitution, and then in Iraq?s historic parliamentary election.
Many other establishment media organs have been equally out of line. When Iraq?s unprecedented new constitution was ratified by 79 percent of voters (in a turnout heavier than any American election), the Washington Post buried that story on page 13, and put this downbeat headline on it: ?Sunnis Failed to Defeat Iraq Constitution: Arab Minority Came Close.? The four top headlines on the front page of the Post that same day: ?Military Has Lost 2,000 in Iraq,? ?The Toll: 2,000,? ?Bigger, Stronger, Homemade Bombs Now to Blame for Half of U.S. Deaths,? and ?Bush Aides Brace for Charges.?
Well, even if Iraq is a democracy, it?s a very partial and imperfect one.
There is no reason to be Pollyannish about Iraq. Like nearly every Arab nation, it is not a competent society at present. Trade, manufacturing, and farming have been suffocated by bad governance. Public servants routinely skim funds. Trash is not picked up, property rights are not respected, rules are not enforced, altruism is non-existent.
Having been one of the most brutalized societies on earth over the last generation, it would be absurd to expect prone Iraq to jump to its feet at this critical transition and dance a jig. Newborn representative governments are always imperfect, inept, even dirty at times?witness El Salvador, Russia, Taiwan, South Africa.
Yet, a quiet tide is rippling up the Tigris and Euphrates. The November 2005 study by Oxford Research found that when Iraqis are asked what form of political system will work best in their nation for the future, 64 percent now say ?a democratic government with a chance for the leader to be replaced from time to time.? Only 18 percent choose ?a government headed by one strong leader for life,? and just 12 percent pick ?an Islamic state where politicians rule according to religious principles.? This surge toward representative toleration?which did not enjoy majority support in Iraq as recently as early 2004?ought not to be taken for granted. It is an historic groundswell.
Iraq is now creeping away from murderous authoritarianism to face the more normal messes of a creaky Third World nation: corruption, poverty, health problems, miserable public services. And that is vastly preferable to what came before.
Karl Zinsmeister is editor in chief of TAE.


Published in  Leaving Iraq: The Right End Game  March 2006
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Rants from the Religion of Peace
« Reply #222 on: February 08, 2006, 06:16:20 PM »
File this one under "know your enemy."

2/3/2005   Clip No. 1024

Hamas Leader Khaled Mash'al at a Damascus Mosque: The Nation of Islam Will Sit at the Throne of the World and the West Will Be Full of Remorse When It Is Too Late

Following are excerpts from an address given by Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al at the Al-Murabit Mosque in Damascus. The address was delivered following the Friday sermon at the mosque and was aired on Al-Jazeera TV on February 3, 2006.

Khaled Mash'al: We apologize to our Prophet Muhammad, but we say to him: Oh Prophet of Allah, do not be saddened, your nation will be victorious.

We say to this West, which does not act reasonably, and does not learn its lessons: By Allah, you will be defeated. You will be defeated in Palestine, and your defeat there has already begun. True, it is Israel that is being defeated there, but when Israel is defeated, its path is defeated, those who call to support it are defeated, and the cowards who hide behind it and support it are defeated. Israel will be defeated, and so will whoever supported or supports it.

America will be defeated in Iraq. Wherever the [Islamic] nation is targeted, its enemies will be defeated, Allah willing. The nation of Muhammad is gaining victory in Palestine. The nation of Muhammad is gaining victory in Iraq, and it will be victorious in all Arab and Muslim lands. "Their multitudes will be defeated and turn their backs [and flee]." These fools will be defeated, the wheel of time will turn, and times of victory and glory will be upon our nation, and the West will be full of remorse, when it is too late.

They think that history has ended with them. They do not know that the law of Allah cannot be changed or replaced. "You shall not find a substitute for the law of Allah. You shall not find any change to the law of Allah." Today, the Arab and Islamic nation is rising and awakening, and it will reach its peak, Allah willing. It will be victorious. It will link the present to the past. It will open up the horizons of the future. It will regain the leadership of the world. Allah willing, the day is not far off.

Don't you see that every act of deceit they contrive is being turned against them by Allah? Don't you see that they make every effort to defeat us militarily, but fail to do so? Israel and the occupation forces in Iraq are supplied with the entire Western military arsenal, yet they fail and are defeated.

Don't you see that they believe they are capable of using democracy to deceive the people, but then democracy is turned against them? Don't you see that they are spending their money in efforts to block the way of Allah, to thwart Hamas, to defeat it, and to help those whom they want, but [this plot] is turned against them? They are not acting reasonably.

They do not understand the Arab or Muslim mentality, which rejects the foreigner. Our Arab forefathers, before the advent of Islam, rejected the aggressors and the foreigners.


I bring good tidings to our beloved Prophet Muhammad: Allah's promise and the Prophet's prophecy of our victory in Palestine over the Jews and over the oppressive Zionists has begun to come true.


I say to the [European countries]: Hurry up and apologize to our nation, because if you do not, you will regret it. This is because our nation is progressing and is victorious. Do not leave a black mark in the collective memory of the nation, because our nation will not forgive you.

Tomorrow, our nation will sit on the throne of the world. This is not a figment of the imagination, but a fact. Tomorrow we will lead the world, Allah willing. Apologize today, before remorse will do you no good. Our nation is moving forwards, and it is in your interest to respect a victorious nation.


Our nation will be victorious. When it reaches the leadership of the world, and controls its own will decisions, then it will prevent this overt interference [in our affairs], and its pillaging of natural resources, and will prevent these recurring offenses against our land, against our nation, and against our holy places ? then you will regret it.

The Western countries must stop the fools. Are these reasonable people? They allow offenses against Allah and the prophets. They are not offending only Muhammad, but all the prophets. But when an historian among them talks about the Holocaust, it is the sin of all sins. If anybody criticizes the Jews, this constitutes anti-Semitism. By law, they hold their own people accountable [for that]. The West, which waved the slogans of liberty after the French Revolution, three centuries ago, does not respect its own principles or slogans today. It violates them.

This victory, which was clearly evident in the elections, conveys a message to Israel, to America, and to all the oppressors around the world: You have no way of overcoming us. If you want war, we are ready. If you want democracy, we are ready. Whatever you want ? we are ready. You will not defeat us. The time of defeat is over. Defeat within six days, defeat within hours, the defeat of armies ? all this is over.

Today, you are fighting the army of Allah. You are fighting against peoples, for whom death for the sake of Allah, and for the sake of honor and glory, is preferable to life. You are fighting a nation that doest not tire, even after a 1,000 years of fighting. Today, you are facing peoples filled with faith, with the love of Allah, the love of Allah's Prophet, with bravery, glory, and pride ? a nation that knows its way, a nation that knows what it is, a nation that respects itself. How can you possibly defeat us?

There is a chasm between you and our defeat. You will be the ones to be defeated, Allah willing. The time of defeat is gone, and the day of victory has come, Allah willing. Wherever you turn, you will fail.

Crowd: Death to Israel. Death to Israel. Death to America.

Khaled Mash'al: Before Israel dies, it must be humiliated and degraded. Allah willing, before they die, they will experience humiliation and degradation every day. America will be of no avail to them. Their generals will be of no avail to them. The last of their generals has been forgotten. Allah has made him disappear. He's over. Gone is that Sharon, behind whose back they would hide and find shelter, and with whom they would feel relatively secure. Today they have frail leaders, who don't even know where our Lord placed them.

Allah willing, we will make them lose their eyesight, we will make them lose their brains.


Their weapons will be of no avail to them. Their nuclear weapons will be of no use to them. They thought that they had hegemony over the region with their nuclear weapons, but suddenly Pakistan popped up with Islamic nuclear weapons, and they are afraid of Iran and several Arab countries have some chemical weapons.

Israel has begun to sense that its superiority has come to an end. Its army, which has superior conventional weapons ? the air force, the armored corps, and the missiles ? there are no longer wars in which these are used.

The Arabs have said: We don't want [conventional] wars, thank you very much. Leave the war to the peoples. Today, the Israeli weapons are of no use against the peoples. We have imposed a new equation in the war. In this equation, our tools are stronger. That is why we will defeat them, Allah willing.


"If you fight them, they will turn their backs on you, and will not be victorious." But the problem is that we need to fight them first. If we sleep at home, how are we to beat them?! "If you fight them..." ? that is a divine promise... "If" ? It is conditional: "If you fight them, they will turn their backs on you and will not be victorious." And indeed, when we began to fight, and we armed ourselves with a will to fight, we defeated them.


That is why Allah Akbar [Allah is greater]. We say that every day ? Allah Akbar. Yes, Allah is greater than America. Allah is greater than the oppressors. Allah is greater than the superpowers. Allah is greater than the tyranny of the oppressing world, and Allah is greater than Israel. Since Allah is greater, and He supports us, we will be victorious.


By Allah, I know that all Arab leaders ? and I have met many of them ? deep inside want the resistance in Palestine to be victorious, and want Palestine to be liberated. Perhaps the need for flattery and for diplomacy, and the American hegemony force other things on them, but in their hearts they are happy when we are victorious.


If before the Hamas victory, there were several military wings, each with a few hundred or a few thousand fighters, under the rule of Hamas, if you continue to besiege us, to starve our people, to ignore our rights, and if you continue your occupation, your aggression, and your assassinations, we, the Hamas, will declare a general call to arms. We will place the entire Palestinian people at the disposal of the resistance and its weapons.

Crowd: Allah akbar, Allah be praised. Allah akbar, Allah be praised. Allah akbar, Allah be praised. Allah akbar, Allah be praised. Allah akbar, Allah be praised. Allah akbar, Allah be praised.

Khaled Mash'al: Be careful not to drive our people into a corner - Occupation, aggression, assassinations, 9,000 male and female prisoners, preventing aid, imposing a siege, causing starvation ? and on top of all this, you don't want to recognize democracy and its results.

The German [Chancellor Angela] Merkel pops up and says: Democracy and success in the elections are not sufficient for Hamas to gain legitimacy. To hell with you all. How are we supposed to gain legitimacy? When you said we had the legitimacy of resistance, you called it terrorism. Now, we say we have the legitimacy of democracy, but you deny it. In that case, you yourself are not legitimate, because you emerged through democracy. This is the logic of a frail and defeatist person.

Brothers and sister, there is confusion in the Western world, and in the American administration. Allah has come to them from where they did not expect him. That is the grace of Allah. That is why we do not fear them. We do not fear their threats.

Today they give us an ultimatum: Recognize Israel. Wonderful! The murderer is not required by anyone to recognize the rights of his victim, but the victim is required to recognize the rights of his murderer, and to sing his praises.


Hamas has a vision. Hamas has a plan. Hamas can manage the political battle, just like it managed the military battle, but in a different language, with different tools, and recognizing Israel is not one of them. Nor is giving up the rights, giving up the right to resistance, and nor is giving up the weapons of the resistance.

Nevertheless, we want to deal with politics, but there is a difference between the politics of the weak and defeatists, which we will constantly repeat ? the kind of politics that does not impress the enemy and so it does nothing, because, like in the market, products that are praised too much become cheap. If we continue to praise our products, constantly saying: "We love peace," "We have given up the option of war," "Peace is our strategic option," "For God's sake, Israel, give us a few scraps of land" ? By Allah, we will be degraded in the eyes of our enemies.

We will conduct our politics in the language of victory. We will conduct our policy in a confident language. We will conduct our politics in the language of those who are steadfast and sure of themselves. Besides, by Allah, after the people has elected us, and has bestowed upon us all this power, we will disrespect its rights?


The people has given us a deposit, and has empowered us to liberate its land, to restore Jerusalem and its holy places. It has empowered us to release 9,000 male and female prisoners. It has empowered us to stop the aggression, to liberate the land, and to restore its rights. The people has empowered us to bring back 5.5 million Palestinian refugees and displaced people to their homeland. After all this, Hamas ? in order to please America and the European Union, and in order for the pressure on us to stop, and in order for their highnesses to allow us to establish a government... We are not trying to please them.


I say to America, Europe, and the West: It is in your interests to change your relations and policies regarding the Arab and Islamic nation and the Palestinian cause. Because we are winning, it is in your interests to deal with the victors, not the losers.

Israel will be defeated and will be of no use to you. The Arabs will be victorious. The Muslims will be victorious. Palestine will be victorious. Change your policy soon, if you want to protect your interests, and maintain healthy relations with the East.


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« Reply #223 on: February 09, 2006, 12:01:29 PM »
Walid Phares

                                           -  PART TWO -

Brussels, the European Parliament, London, the House of Commons.

This piece was authored in conjunction with the presentation of my new book at the European institutions. link

?Cartoon Jihad? was the title of a piece by American leading cartoonist Daryl Cagle posted on January 10, in which he warned about the explosion to come link . The term was coined since around the world, especially in a series of investigations by German daily Der Spiegel. The term itself is a reverse of the campaign mobilized by the critics of the cartoons. While Islamic groups and governments have escalated their protests, many of which in violent forms, and accused the ?caricaturists-perpetrators? of waging a cultural war against Islam, artists and their supporters responded by disseminating the initial drawings and drawing more. The latter claimed a political war is being waged by the Islamists against cultural democracy and Jihadi terror is being staged against media. On al Jazeera, commentators and guests are now accusing the whole West of launching an all out ?crusade? against everything Islamic, while in return, Jihad-critics are accusing the ideological movement worldwide of being behind all urban intifadas against the West not just the Denmark cartoon violence. In the Italian press and across the continent, dots are being connected between the Hijab uprising in France, the Van Goh assassination in Holland, the French so-called youth intifada, the Australian beach clashes, and other ?moves? within the West. By the day fault lines are emerging between the two camps and unspoken sentences are piling up. Historians may well realize few years from now, that the Denmark?s drawings were only the straw that broke the camel?s back between the two ideological worlds: Pluralist Democracy and Islamic Fundamentalism.

But as Europe and the World are witnessing the widening of the Cartoon Jihad and its mutation into multiple levels of diplomatic, political, intellectual, militants and terror actions and activities, the investigation of the core issue is still in progress: What did the Danish cartoonists really breach? Where is the red line within Islam and under whose responsibility the protest fall? What is the real aim of the ?protesters? and are they one group or more? Is the West responding right and is it really unified in this matter? Multiple questions I will attempt to address, as I continue to interact with European legislators, experts, think tanks in Vienna, Brussels, London and Paris. The bottom line now is the bigger picture not those little drawings. The consensus cannot be clearer with regards the grand principles: Freedom of speech cannot be reversed by any ideology that doesn?t believe in the latter?s value. And at the same time, hurting the core feelings of any religion, including Islam, is acceptable by coexistence standards. But the question is this: Is it really about the drawings themselves or between the drawers of cartoons and the drawers of fatwa? Let?s examine this..

The theological question

According to Sharia, Islam?s holy laws, neither Allah nor his Messenger Prophet Mohammed can be drawn by Muslims (al Rassm). It is part of the anti-idolatry (ibadat al asnaam) restriction by Islam. A strict application of this requirement means that no picturing (and therefore photos or computer simulation) is permissible. From this injunction three issues had to be addressed: One, modern inventions: If Muslim hands from the seventh century were forbidden from drawing the divine and its envoy directly, can computers from the 21 century simulate the drawings? Theologians ruled against it, and the doors are still closed. Two, are there sanctions against Muslims who engage in drawings of Allah or Mohammed? Apparently, it depends on the discretion of the clerics. As for any other matter of religion, and in the absence of a Caliphate, the highest authority of the Islamic state, scholars (al Ulama?a) will rule and fatwa is their instrument. So according to one and two, it is strictly forbidden to Muslims to draw images of Allah and all Prophets, not only Mohammed. And it is upon the Sheikhs to decide on the sanctions.

The third question is of direct interest to the Euro-Islamic crisis. Do the above rulings apply to non-Muslims? Any answer could make or break international relations as we know it. And this has been the least known matter to both Western and Muslim publics. Both ignored the two ends of the equation. To all Westerners, it is natural that Muslim laws should not apply to them, inside their own countries. To most Muslims, the matter is foggy. While mainstream Muslim governments and moderate scholars assert that they abide by international law first and by Sharia second, Islamist leaders declare otherwise: To Sunni Salafists and Shiia Khumeinists the world is divided in two: dar el Islam where the Islamic state rules and dar el Harb, where the Caliphate is off the public sphere. Hence, the Islamic fundamentalists knows well that Sharia law cannot be implemented in dar el Harb, including in Denmark, France, Britain or Germany, to name a few. So, arguably, if non-Muslims ?living in a non-Muslim country draw or sculpt a figure from Islam?s forbidden list, without any offensive character will there be a ground for Islamic authorities to counter act and sanction? The matter is not easy or simple.

For in principle, if non-Muslims breach the Sharia inside dar al Islam, they fall under Islamic law and sanctions: Copts of Egypt, Christians in Syria, Hindus in Afghanistan, ChaldoAssyrians in Iraq, Nubians in Sudan etc. But if non-Muslims do not follow the restrictions inside the dar al Harb world, there is no Islamic authority to strike the ?offense? down. Hence, it would fall under the spectrum of the relationship with that infidel power. It becomes wholly political: The authorities representing the Muslim Umma (nation) will have to take the matter under their auspices. Would the Ottoman Empire intervene with European monarchies to eliminate drawings of sculptures produced by their own citizens? And would today?s Arab League and Organization of Muslim states do the same with world democracies? Again, while theologically forbidden, and because they are not being perpetrated in the sphere of a Muslim state, these breaches and their resolution can only be addressed politically: Which means that offenses made to Islam in the West cannot be under Islamic law but Muslims within the West, and under the legal system of that particular country can and naturally should seize the authorities of their host country. There is no legal international body in Islam today that can seize a higher level than international and national law to deal with Islamic matters. Moderate Muslims understand that.

But two other matters arise: The obligation of Western Muslims and the role of Islamic Fundamentalists in this regard.

Muslims in the West

Muslims living in the West or the non-Muslim world, immigrants and converts alike are challenged by the theoretical choice of legal affiliation. The realist and mainstream practice, the one accepted by most Muslim Governments in public has been to encourage their subjects to accept the set of rules existing in the non-Muslim countries based on reciprocity in international relations. But the Islamic Fundamentalists of all schools have been putting pressures on Muslims in ?infidel lands? to confront a difficult choice. In many sessions of the al Jazeera show al Sharia wal Hayat (Islamic Code and Life) in 2002-2005, Sheikh Yussuf al Qaradawi clearly stated that ?Muslims living outside Islamic lands, must either return to their homelands when their journey, job, or mission is accomplished or strive to remain as citizens and spread religion.? The leader of the World Ulema?s Union hence put Muslims living in the West and in Europe under tremendous pressures. A permanent status of ?diminished Islamic life? is forbidden according to his views. ?Muslims in the West and in other areas must strife to spread religion and insert it in the national legal, political and economic space.? He, and others adds that these communities have a ?special mission,? that is Iqamatu el dine, the establishment of religion. ?It is not a choice that they have, it is a home work.? Hence the exiled, expatriate and convert communities hear one dominant voice constantly, although they live as mainstream citizens worldwide. That ?dominant? voice, carried by preaches, airwaves, online and in print is also expressed by a rising wave of organizations which hurdle the crowd into campaigns to ?insure better representation of culture and religion in the Western system.? At first glance, the ?activism? required by these ?vigorous and dominant militants? would be natural, especially in multicultural societies. But that is not the objective of the radicals.

Islamic Fundamentalists

The various currents of Islamists, Salafists, Wahabis, Khumeinists and others, converge into one wave when it comes to mobilize Muslims in the West in general and in Europe in particular: Find and identify areas of ?claims? and transform them into ?struggle.? Absent the Islamists? ?activation of these ?cases? the natural interaction between civil society and Muslim communities would gradually absorb and solve these matters. But the Islamists deliberately chose these particular issues and transform them into crisis. In other words, they live off these ?burning issues.? Because of them they mutate into the leadership of the communities, becomes the negotiators on their behalf with Governments, and end up the ?Partners? of the public powers in these countries. This strategy is simple to understand:  The Islamists (and the Jihadists in their midst) pushes the community into a clash with a segment of the society or with the Government. Widen the clash nationwide, and worldwide, drag in the Muslim Governments and present themselves (the Islamists) as the providers of the solution. The final objectives are easy to guess:

1. Push the level of the social and political ?isolation? of the community at a high as possible. Hence prepare it for a next stage in the ?struggle.?
2. And at the same time, push away the moderate element of the community and further control its leadership.
3. Establish an intimidation-based consulting with Governments, allowing them to influence future policies, both domestic and foreign.

One would wonder at first reading, if the ?spontaneous reactions? towards ?sensitive core issues? are really ?organized.? In fact, the popular emotions in each one of these issues are real. But the manipulation of the timing, the agenda and the final outcome are simply political and held firmly in the hands of the Islamists.


In the United States, two cases are to be noted. One was raised by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) two years ago when the lobby group called for action to remove the representative face of Prophet Mohammed from the entrance to the US Supreme Court. The Muslim Prophet, along with a dozen other world inspirers of legislations was honored in sculpture by American standard. The CAIR claim wasn?t about the fact that the expression was ?offensive? (as in the Denmark cartoon case) but that the principle is not accepted. The US courts rejected the claim at the time. A year later Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Doug Marlette of the Tallahassee Democrat was pressure by CAIR for drawing a cartoon with the caption ?What Would Muhammad drive?? Unlike the US Supreme Court matter, the picture (evidently causing stress among pious Muslims) had to do with a popular culture in America (and now in Europe) that is struggling with its understanding of the relationship between Terrorism and Islamic ideologies that preach it. The outcome of this mental struggle manifest itself in cartoons, but the roots of the intellectual crisis resides in the confusion created by the Islamic Fundamentalists. Here is why:

The core of the problem

Western public opinion doesn?t know Islam well neither as a religion nor as politics. And what makes the issue more complicated is the fact that in Islam religion and state are one: deen wal dawla wahid. Hence, it is up to either Western instructors or Muslim representatives to shape up the Western perception of the Islamic phenomenon. For instance, Christians in the Middle East or living under Islamic regimes in Africa and Asia have a better understanding of it, (sometimes with a high price) and hence rarely engage in ?theological offenses.? They know what are the various limits both those that are purely religious and those limits that can be created then breached by the Jihadists. (See interview in Belgian Der Standaard link) So the core of the problem is in two folds: Western academic elite has done a bad job in educating its public about the threat of Jihadism, and the Muslim public was left with little choices other than the Islamists and Jihadists to represent them and lead in these issues. When Denmark Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen stated lately that ?extremists were obstructing the stabilization of the crisis, US Secretary of State declared recently that ?Syria and Iran are inflaming the sentiments? and Lebanon?s Muslim Prime Minister accused the Syrian regime ?and indirectly Hezbollah- of ?using the issue to aggress Lebanon via violent demonstrations,? the equation clarified itself:

There is no cultural intention in the West to harm the feelings of Muslims. But there is confusion among Western public about who the Jihadists are. On the other hand, there is a general perception among the Muslim public that the West is on a path of war against Islam, a perception fed by the Jihadists.  


? The Western public was deprived from real knowledge about Islam?s religion on the one hand, opening the windows for drawings and possibly more scratching of Muslim sensibilities. But on the other hand this public was denied the information about the nature of the Jihadist movement and its various tactics. So, while aiming subconsciously at protesting against the Jihadists because of their terror, the liberal artists hit the nerve of pious Muslims, opening the path for the Islamists to wage their campaign.
? The Muslim masses, or their majority, were kept under the pressures of Madrassas, the web sites, the Islamist networks and subject to al Jazeera and al Manar point of view for years. When the Denmark cartoon crisis exploded, the radicals were in the street steering the protests into violence.
? Western Governments took time before uniting against the ongoing Jihadi violence. Each Executive branch wished to ?get political mileage? for its own relations with the Arab Muslim world, before it realizes by the day that the ?offensive? Cartoons are becoming an all out offensive by the radicals.
? Arab and Muslim Governments divided in two groups: Those who were led by the demonstrations to ?stick with the mood on the street,? while realizing that this ?radical-inspired? mood will soon get back at them. And those other regimes, such as Syria and Iran, who fueled the anti-Danish protest attempting to mutate it into an all out anti-Western Jihad.  

Meanwhile, and one more time, the Islamists and Jihadists are adventuring themselves into another clash of civilization of great disservice to the Muslim world. While the crisis of the cartoons could have been addressed and solved within the Danish borders via dialogue and within the legal system, the radicals took it beyond the sovereignty of that small secular, liberal and humanist nation. Had the moderate community leaders kept the issue Danish, they would have most probably won growing sympathy among Danes. But the ?networks? took the matter to the wider Arab and Muslim world. In response, the Euro Cartoonists took the matter to the continental level. The Jihadists hijacked the Muslim claim to different continents. In return, many around the world identified with the Danes. Tehran and Damascus hoped the ?opportunity? will deflect international consensus from their entanglement with Terror and nuclear threat. (From interviews on BBC on February 7 and 9, 2006 link)

But at the end of the day, the radicals are not growing in numbers in the Muslim world as some believe, but they are growing their designs. The moderates and democrats are paying the price. They are witnessing how the wider world is watching the scenes of burning and destruction and reading carefully the signs carried by extremists from London to Jakarta. It is going to take a significant effort to inform the Western public about what they know less, so that their understanding of Islam becomes more complex. And it is going to take a greater effort to educate the Muslim public as to the objectives of those who claim representing them in war and peace, and especially in the defense of their religion.

The Denmark cartoon crisis has generated violence both material and physical, but it may well contribute to an acceleration of outreach between the forces of change on both sides.


Dr Walid Phares is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington on a European tour at the invitation of European legislators and Think Tanks. He is the author of Future Jihad.


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« Reply #224 on: February 15, 2006, 09:47:53 PM »
A friend sends me the following:

Marc, to go along with your post, from the   Wonder how this will be reported in either of the Times/Slimes papers?  
 A second Iraqi former commander confirms WMDs

Slowly, very slowly, we are beginning to discover what happened to the WMDs of Saddam. The left and the antique media have made it an article of faith that there never were any WMDs, and that ?Bush lied.? So deep is their investment in a political position premised on this conclusion that they will pay no attention to contrary evidence.

Via Peter Glover?s website Wires from the bunker, we learn of an interview between Ali Ibrahim al-Tikriti, a southern regional commander for Saddam Hussein?s Fedayeen militia in the late 1980s and a personal friend of the dictator and Ryan Mauro of

Only two weeks ago, General Sada, formerly Sadaam?s no 2 Air Force Commander, told the New York Sun that Sadaam?s WMD was moved to Syria just six weeks before the US-led invasion. Now Ali Ibrahim confirms this and explains the underlying strategy of Saddam:

I know Saddam?s weapons are in Syria due to certain military deals that were made going as far back as the late 1980?s that dealt with the event that either capitols were threatened with being overrun by an enemy nation. Not to mention I have discussed this in-depth with various contacts of mine who have confirmed what I already knew. At this point Saddam knew that the United States were eventually going to come for his weapons and the United States wasn?t going to just let this go like they did in the original Gulf War. He knew that he had lied for this many years and wanted to maintain legitimacy with the pan Arab nationalists. He also has wanted since he took power to embarrass the West and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. After Saddam denied he had such weapons why would he use them or leave them readily available to be found? That would only legitimize President Bush, who he has a personal grudge against. What we are witnessing now is many who opposed the war to begin with are rallying around Saddam saying we overthrew a sovereign leader based on a lie about WMD. This is exactly what Saddam wanted and predicted.  

Moreover, Ali Ibrahim debunks other shibboleths of the left, including the allegation of no ties between al Qaeda terror and Saddam:

As far as Al-Qaeda is concerned this support was limited for a long time, mainly due to the fact that Al-Qaeda had the hopes of creating an Islamic empire while Saddam wanted a secular Arab nationalist empire. They only really came to terms in the mid-90?s due to the fact that both knew they shared the same short term enemy. Once they came to terms on this Saddam provided Al-Qaeda with intelligence support and whatever money or munitions they could provide. Saddam has had very long standing contacts in the black market as well as with Moscow and would provide whatever munitions he could through these contacts.

He also addresses the claim that the US bears responsibility for bringing Saddam to power and for armning him with WMDs:

This is absolutely ludicrous. I was in the Ba?athist Revolution who received support from the Soviet Union because of the socialist ideology behind it. The Soviet Union openly supported and backed the Ba?athist revolution in Iraq at the time and I am sure you can find news articles about it in European press agencies and others at the time. I was there helping with the revolution and worked on two occasions with Soviet KGB officials to help train us, much like the United States did with the Taliban during the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan. The United States never directly gave us any WMDs but rather ingredients. They were not mixed and these ?ingredients? could have been easily used for commercial use but were rather used to build low life chemical weapons.

The tape recordings of Saddam discussing WMDs are said by Ryan Mauro of to be a ?smoking cannon.? If all of this information proves out, the left in the US and UK are going to face an awful reckoning. As usual, it will take some time for the new information to travel from the blogosphere to the alternative media, and finally into the antique media.

Thomas Lifson  2 15 06

UPDATE: Reader David Bell writes:

In debunking the myth that the U.S. funded, armed and equipped Saddam and therefore is somehow responsible for him, Gen. Sada, unfortunately, perpetuates another. Namely, that the U.S. ?trained? the Taliban. He says the Soviets trained the Iraqis ?much like the U.S. did with the Taliban during the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.? The U.S. had a role in equipping and training some anti-SovietAfghan forces in northern Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, but these people later become the Northern Alliance that fought against the Taliban, which was a largely Arab-led movement. The U.S. never trained or in any other wat supported the Taliban or forces that later turned into the Taliban. This is just as big a myth of the Left as the story that the U.S. trained and equipped Saddam.

I can?t indpendently confirm this, but it sounds consistent with my vague memories.


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« Reply #225 on: February 17, 2006, 09:48:04 AM »
I believe you will enjoy this review, if not the book (in question) itself?





Pictures Worth a Thousand Lives
A review of The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy by Stephanie Gutmann
Stephanie Gutmann is a talented American journalist who has covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for a variety of publications. The Other War is a carefully researched, on-the-ground account of the media skirmishes that take place each day and collectively determine how that conflict is portrayed to the world. Her book, detailed and convincing, is written with a wry wit that makes it a pleasure to read, despite the gravity of her subject.

The first half of The Other War is a series of vivid reconstructions of the major incidents in the Second Intifada, which the late Yasser Arafat launched in fall 2000. Parallel to the "actual ground war in which people died," she writes, "there was a war of competing narratives played out in the mass media." Her argument is that this war of narratives is often the more consequential of the two. Of course, propaganda wars in concert with real wars have been in fashion since Moses said some things about the Amalekites, and on the same territory no less. But after 35 centuries, something changed. "[T]he first Gulf War happened and television producers discovered world conflict as a riveting form of 'reality programming.'" Technology was the enabling factor: "Satellites, digital cameras and the internet made transmission of text and visual content nearly instantaneous." Today's media war is driven by the same ancient impulses, but now, like the technology on which it relies, it is instant and infinite.

Gutmann believes that Israel has been steadily defeated on the media front, and with deadly consequences. In March 2002, for instance, Israeli army planners were preparing a full-scale assault against West Bank terrorist networks. But they recalled the public-relations pummeling the country had endured during the previous two years, in which the United Nations, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, and others routinely condemned Israel for "excessive force." And so, instead of lightning air strikes, Operation Defensive Shield relied on door-to-door raids, resulting in the deaths of 23 Israeli soldiers. Military superiority over its enemies is no advantage if Israel is continually dissuaded from using it.

In the media war, Israel has three disadvantages. The first is an open society, which allows reporters (and filmmakers and activists and human-rights observers) the freedom to roam, record, and interview in first-world comfort. This has saddled Israel with what may be the world's highest per capita concentration of reporters. Jerusalem is host to 350 permanent foreign news bureaus, as many as New York, London, or Moscow; the volume of reportage on Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank is 75 times greater than on any other area of comparable population. This obsessive attention necessarily distorts, by casting the Israel-Palestinian war in a theatric, world-historical light.

In the last decade, around 4,500 Israeli and Palestinian lives have been lost to the fighting. The Russo-Chechen war has killed 50,000 (11 times as many), the Darfur crisis has killed 180,000 (40 times as many), and the Congolese civil war has killed 3.5 million (778 times as many). But very few Americans can call to mind images of the ghastly violence in Chechnya, Sudan, or Congo?or even identify the warring parties?because these are places so dangerous that the New York Times simply cannot responsibly send a reporter there, much less a bureau.

* * *

If freedom is disadvantageous, this goes double when you happen to abut a shameless, propagandizing Arab dictatorship. According to Gutmann, the Palestinian Authority under Arafat used "the combat theatre (the West Bank, Gaza, and inside Israel) as a kind of soundstage." Those famous scenes of Palestinian boys with rocks confronting soldiers, for example, are usually choreographed. Palestinian youths, exhorted by parents, teachers, and their televisions to pelt Israeli soldiers, are so conscious of the media presence themselves that they often don't start in with the stones until photographers arrive. Israeli soldiers are actually forewarned of clashes when film crews suddenly materialize. (Coalition forces have experienced the same phenomenon in Iraq.)

How do these reporters or photographers, on a quest for dramatic stories and footage, know where the "spontaneous" violence is to "erupt"? One or another foot soldier in their "small army of Palestinian fixers" is tipped off by the attackers. The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Press (which together supply 80% of news images to the world media) require the assistance of natives who speak the local language, know who's who, and can get things done. These hired locals, in turn, make decisions about where to drive and what to translate (or leave un-translated).

The Palestinian regime isn't brutal in the way of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, but its operatives are trained in the same school of media manipulation. On September 12, 2001, as the Middle East awoke to the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., Palestinians in several cities took to the streets. The celebration in Nablus, estimated at 3,000 people, was filmed by an A.P. photographer who forwarded the footage to his bureau in Jerusalem. Before it hit the wire, the photographer called his bureau again, this time sitting in the Nablus governor's office with guns to his head. The reporter lived, but the truth did not. The A.P. was told by the Palestinian Authority that it "could not guarantee their safety" in the future unless the A.P. learned to be "more careful."

Regime propaganda is pervasive. TV spots feature inspirational poetry like "how beautiful is the scent of the land, which is fed from the waterfall of blood, springing from an angry body." In April 2002, an Israeli drone flying above a funeral procession in the city of Jenin caught on tape a Palestinian corpse falling off his bier, reproving his handlers, then hopping back on. It happened again in the midst of a crowd, sending bystanders fleeing in terror. It was part of an effort to inflate both the body count and the number of photo-ops.

Israel's third disadvantage is media convention itself. Gutmann reminds us that all news is constructed: "Behind every picture there is a long story and a regiment of people who brought that particular picture, of all possible pictures, to you." And construction is rarely better than its architects: "producers sitting in carpeted, climate-controlled studios in New York and London are making war their subject?. [A]nd journalists, dumped on the ground with little prior knowledge, are forced to condense and 'package' terribly complex and crucial events." The general leftism in the news media gives reporters and producers many ways of introducing their bias into the simplified narrative: "David and Goliath, Poor versus Rich, the Third World versus Western Colonialism, Man versus Machine, even you-in-third-grade versus those-guys-who-always-beat-you-up after school." With Israel and the Palestinians, the overall result is "Large Mechanized Brutes versus Small Vulnerable Brown People."

* * *

The second half of The Other War is a series of introductions to the cast of characters in this Middle East media drama, among them na?ve and flamboyant journalists, venturesome photographers, spin doctors, soldiers and terrorists, and Gutmann's personal "fixer," renamed for his protection. Her interview with the Jerusalem Post's Khaled Abu Toameh, probably the most famous Palestinian journalist, is particularly trenchant, not least because unlike any other Palestinian working within reach of the Palestinian regime, Toameh seems uniquely able to say whatever he pleases. (Gutmann says he is protected from on high by Israelis.)

Two of Gutmann's "case studies" from the beginning of the Second Intifada illustrate the character of this media war and the obstacles that Israel faces: the shooting death of a young Palestinian, and the lynching of two Israelis. According to CBS News's Richard Roth, these two episodes became "defining symbols of the conflict for those on each side."

On September 30, 2000, film footage became available to the world showing a Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, who, cradled in his father's arms, is shot by Israeli soldiers. Or so it seemed. Subsequent analysis, based especially on firing angles and ballistics examinations, called the story into doubt. Israel, in fact, was probably not responsible for the shooting. But by the time the Israeli army released the findings about its unlikely guilt, the Piet?-like image had zipped around the world, eventually appearing on a Belgian postage stamp, inspiring renamed streets and squares across the Arab world, and co-starring in the propaganda film extolling the execution of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

On October 12, 2000, less than two weeks after the al-Dura incident, two Israeli reservists took a wrong turn while driving home and were arrested by Palestinian police, taken to the local station, and lynched by a mob. One photographer happened onto the scene:

Within moments [the crowd was] in front of me and, to my horror, I saw that it was a body, a man they were dragging by the feet. The lower part of his body was on fire and the upper part had been shot at, and the head beaten so badly that it was a pulp, like red jelly?. My God, I thought, they've killed this guy. He was dead, he must have been dead, but they were still beating him, madly, kicking his head. They were like animals.

The crowd tore the photographer's camera from him and smashed it. But a colleague managed to capture the infamous image of one of the murderers holding up his bloody hands for a cheering crowd.

The two scenes provided visual scripture from which reporters sermonized about symmetry, suffering on both sides, and cycles of violence. But Gutmann discerns the tragedy, for Israel, precisely in the asymmetry:

The images were frequently paired?by the news media. But it was a forced symmetry, created by the media for its convenience and because it was more soothing and less complicated to represent the situations as the same. Consider just the two pieces of videotape by themselves, which was all anyone had to work with at this time: In 'Ramallah' we actually see perpetrators at work?men hoisting a body to a window ledge, then shoving it off the ledge to a crowd below, whom we then see all too clearly stomping and stabbing it. In 'al-Dura,' however, we see a boy collapsing, apparently shot. That is all. In one story, most of the who, what, where and why is answered. But in 'al-Dura,' virtually everything, except that two people were shot at in front of a wall, is essentially a mystery.

Less of a mystery is that the "al-Dura" cameraman became a minor celebrity, treated to interviews at European media conferences. The "Ramallah" cameraman, on the other hand, remains unknown, while death threats forced his bureau chief to flee the region.

* * *

Towards the end of her book, Gutmann details some of Israel's long-overdue?and successful?efforts to reverse the tide in the media war. Because her observations throughout are so scrupulous and clear-eyed, her belief that things are taking a turn for the better is encouraging, even if it remains a little hard to believe.

As Gutmann says, nearly every evil of the last three centuries?racism, apartheid, militarism, colonialism, fascism, ethnic cleansing, genocide?is routinely invoked against Israel. These are not so much criticisms of policy, mind you, but of Israel's existence, for it is understood that regimes dedicated to such evil deserve to be eliminated, not reformed. Are such criticisms confined to the political fringes? If they were, Gutmann wouldn't be able to cite a 2004 poll in which 68% of Germans agreed that Israel now conducts a "war of extermination" against Palestinians. There are ten times as many Palestinians today as in 1920, I might point out to the Germans, but fewer Jews.

At the close of The Other War, Gutmann writes: "Looking at the virulent, vituperative tone of European coverage, and particularly at how openly jeering it grows when Israel tries to defend itself in the media war, it is hard to imagine that any Israeli public relations staff with any amount of resources at its disposal could have an impact on Europe." She's right; there must be something more to it, and she alludes, briefly, to anti-Semitism. Earlier in the book, she mentions the hard Left's fixation with Israel and the brutality of Arab propaganda. But each receives only glancing notice. The logical next step?accounting for the forces behind and beyond the media?is outside the scope of her important book, but nevertheless essential to the whole truth about "the other war."


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On Iran, Nukes and Options
« Reply #226 on: February 17, 2006, 10:42:21 AM »
Two NRO pieces:

February 17, 2006, 9:51 a.m.
A Mullah?s-Eye View of the World
Iran is acting on its assessment of the West?s strength and resolve.
Michael Ledeen

Sometime in late November or early December, Iran?s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gathered his top advisers for an overall strategic review. The atmosphere was highly charged, because Khamenei?s doctors have diagnosed a serious cancer, and do not expect the Supreme Leader to live much more than a year. A succession struggle is already under way, with the apparently unsinkable Hashemi Rafsanjani in the thick of it, even though Khamenei, and his increasingly powerful son Mushtaba, is opposed to the perennial candidate-for-whatever.

Despite this disquieting news, the overall tone of the conversation was upbeat, because the Iranians believe they see many positive developments, above all, the declaration that "it has been promised that by 8 April, we will be in a position to show the entire world that 'we are members of the club.'" This presumably refers to nuclear weapons. Against this cheery background, the assessment of the Iranian leaders continued:

 The weakness of the Bush administration is notable. Recent public opinion polls show the country seriously divided, and the top Iranian experts on North America have concluded that the president is paralyzed, unable to make any tough decision (and hence unable to order an attack against Iran);

 2006 is an election year, and even some Republicans are distancing themselves from Bush, weakening the White House even further;

 Israel is facing the darkest moment in its history (remember that this conversation took place before Sharon?s stroke). Likud is divided, Netanyahu is openly against Sharon, and the Labor party has lost its old guard. No strong government is possible (and hence Israel is similarly unable to order an attack against Iran). Therefore this is a moment for Iran to take maximum advantage;

 Iranian power and prestige is at an all-time high among the Palestinian terrorist groups, from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah, to secular, even Communist groups. Terrorists who in the past had rejected Iranian approaches now travel to Tehran for support;

 The Syrians have given Iran final say over the activities of Sunni terrorist groups in their country;

 Iran now exercises effective control over groups ranging from Hezbollah, Ansar al-Islam, al Qaeda, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Jaish-e-Mahdi, and Jaish-e-Huti (Yemen) to the Joint Shi?ite Army of Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and part of Saudi Arabia, as well as Islamic movements in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia;

 In the four and a half months since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has become president, he has brought the extremist group led by Mezbah Yazdi under control, and, notably, he has forced Syria to resist all pressure from the United States;

 The Europeans are no longer necessary for the Iranian strategy, and can now be "thrown out of our game." They are in no position to do any damage because they are too busy fighting with one another;

 Khamenei called for two urgent missions. The first was to do everything possible to drive up oil prices by an additional 30 percent by the first week in April. The second was to intensify the propaganda war against the West in the same period. He stressed that it was important to compel the United States to face at least three crises by the April 8.

In short, the Iranians at the highest levels of the regime believe they have good reason for behaving quite feisty, and if you look at the events that have taken place since then, you will see that the mullahs are acting consistently with the analysis presented to (and in part by) Khamenei. The propaganda war ? lately and dramatically in the form of the cartoon crusades ? has indeed been intensified. The Europeans have been systematically dissed, and more: their embassies in Tehran have been stoned, Iranian diplomats have insulted them with regularity, and the regime slapped a trade embargo on all goods coming from the infidel Europeans. When the French announced that the Iranian nuclear program was undoubtedly designed to produce weapons, Tehran demanded an apology. Above all, there is no longer any pretense of cooperation with the Big Three negotiators on the nuclear program.

This suggests that the mullahs do indeed believe they have acquired nuclear weapons, and there is no longer any need to play stalling games with the Germans, French, and Brits. Nor is there any reason to feign humanity in the treatment of their own people. The repression of any and all groups which might conceivably organize an anti-mullah revolution looks to reach the historic levels of the immediate post-revolutionary period, when hanging judges routinely ordered the execution of thousands of citizens for often-fabricated crimes. Of late, the regime has beaten, tortured, and incarcerated thousands of Tehran bus drivers, Bahais, Sufis, and Ahwaz Arabs, and they have even threatened the families of political prisoners, saying that the whole lot of dissidents will be killed if the U.N. votes for sanctions.

This brutal and open use of the mailed fist bespeaks utter contempt for the West; Khamenei & Co. do not think we will respond, do not fear Western action, and believe this is a historic movement for the advance of their vision of clerical fascism. But it also bespeaks a chilling recognition of their nemesis: the Iranian people. President Ahmadinejad recently canceled most foreign travel by regime officials, for example, which is not the sign of a confident mullahcracy; quite the contrary, in their heart of hearts, they know that they are walking a fragile tightrope, and their incessant preventive actions against normal Iranians look very much like Mickey Mouse in , racing frantically to stop an army of bucket-carrying brooms from drowning him.

Moreover, the runaway optimism (which in many clerical minds goes hand in hand with the conviction that the Shiite Messiah, the 12th Imam, is about to reappear, thereby ushering in the End of Days) is not as solidly grounded as the mullahs might wish. For starters, oil prices are headed south, not toward the 30-percent increase ordered by the supreme leader. And the analysis of the perceived ?paralysis? of the United States is nothing more than a replay of the usual blunder committed by our enemies, who look at us and see fractious politics, widespread self-indulgence, and an unwillingness or inability to face up to real war. In this, as in so many other ways, the mullahs of the Islamic Republic are emulating failed tyrants, from the German Kaiser and F?hrer to the Italian Duce, the Iraqi dictator, and the Soviet Communist first secretaries, all of whom learned, to their ruin, that free societies are quite capable of turning on a dime and defending their interests and values with unanticipated ferocity.

And indeed, after years of dithering, we now have the first encouraging signs that this administration is inclined to support revolution in Iran. Secretary of State Rice, after her laudable reform of the Foreign Service, has now asked Congress for an additional $75 million to advance the cause of freedom in Iran. This is good news indeed, especially since there were hints in her testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that we have already begun supporting Iranian trade unions, and even training some of their leaders. To be sure, the bulk of the money ? $50 million ? will go to the bureaucratic, and thus far utterly uninspiring, group running radio and TV Farda for the State Department, and the profoundly disappointing and feckless National Endowment for Democracy and the Democratic and Republic Institutes, but at least some money is promised for independent Farsi language broadcasters. Even with these shortcomings, we should celebrate Rice?s embrace of the cause of Iranian freedom so concretely.

On the other hand, there is no reason for joy at the news that assistant secretary Steve Rademacher seems to have gratuitously and foolishly promised that we will not use military power against Iran?s nuclear facilities. There is every reason to leave such stratagems in the haze of uncertainty, even if ? as I have long argued ? you believe it would not be a good idea, at least at this moment. Such declarations will reinforce the mullahs? conviction that they have nothing to fear from us, and encourage them to race ahead with their murderous actions.

Even the world at large is beginning to bestir itself. Wednesday was a day of support for the Iranian bus drivers all across the civilized world. The AFL-CIO, driven by Teamsters? President James Hoffa, in tandem with Senator Rick Santorum, has been leading the charge, now joined by unions in France, Britain, Spain, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Bermuda. The appeasers in the Italian trade unions, like their opportunistic bosses, sat it out. Still, it?s an impressive list.

It?s a small and long overdue step forward, to be sure, but great journeys sometimes begin slowly and uncertainly. The great thing is that, after years of empty rhetoric, stalled internal debates, and the paralysis so dear to Khamenei?s heart, we have finally gotten started. Will it succeed? Do the tens of millions of Iranians who rightly hate their rulers have the stomach, the imagination, and the discipline to organize the downfall of the regime?

Nobody knows, perhaps not even the revolutionaries themselves. But America has moved, and when America moves, even gingerly, there will be ripples throughout Iran and throughout the region. The key imperative is that, now that we are in, we must persist and prevail. So far, so good: in the State of the Union the president spoke eloquently of our respect for the Iranian people and our determination to help them if they show the will and the capacity to act effectively. That was exactly the right note. And the secretary of State was similarly and appropriately modest in her rhetoric, speaking of our desire to support freedom ? not announcing a national crusade, and not threatening dramatic action. It is for the Iranians to liberate their country. If they are willing to fight for freedom, we should stand with them.

Now, finally, they know we will. And the cry of "faster, please" must quickly go out to them.

? Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

February 17, 2006, 8:27 a.m.
Why No Nukes for Iran?
The rules of the game.
Victor Davis Hanson

How many times have we heard the following whining and yet received no specific answers from our leaders?

"Israel has nuclear weapons, so why single out Iran?"

"Pakistan got nukes and we lived with it."

"Who is to say the United States or Russia should have the bomb and not other countries?"

"Iran has promised to use its reactors for peaceful purposes, so why demonize the regime?"

In fact, the United States has a perfectly sound rationale for singling out Iran to halt its nuclear proliferation. At least six good reasons come to mind, not counting the more obvious objection over Iran's violation of U.N. non-proliferation protocols. It is past time that we spell them out to the world at large.

First, we cannot excuse Iran by acknowledging that the Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea, and Pakistan obtained nuclear weapons. In each case of acquisition, Western foreign-policy makers went into a crisis mode, as anti-liberal regimes gained stature and advantage by the ability to destroy Western cities.

A tragic lapse is not corrected by yet another similar mistake, especially since one should learn from the errors of the past. The logic of "They did it, so why can't I?" would lead to a nuclearized globe in which our daily multifarious wars, from Darfur to the Middle East, would all assume the potential to go nuclear. In contrast, the fewer the nuclear players, the more likely deterrence can play some role. There is no such thing as abstract hypocrisy when it is a matter of Armageddon.

Second, it is a fact that full-fledged democracies are less likely to attack one another. Although they are prone to fighting ? imperial Athens and republican Venice both were in some sort of war about three out of four years during the 5th century B.C. and the 16th century respectively ? consensual governments are not so ready to fight like kind. In contemporary terms that means that there is no chance whatsoever that an anti-American France and an increasingly anti-French America would, as nuclear democracies, attack each other. Russia, following the fall of Communism, and its partial evolution to democracy, poses less threat to the United States than when it was a totalitarian state.

It would be regrettable should Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, or Germany go nuclear ? but not the catastrophe of a nuclear Pakistan that, with impunity de facto, offers sanctuary to bin Laden and the planners of 9/11. The former governments operate under a free press, open elections, and free speech, and thus their war-making is subject to a series of checks and balances. Pakistan is a strongman's heartbeat away from an Islamic theocracy. And while India has volatile relations with its Islamic neighbor, the world is not nearly as worried about its arsenal as it is about autocratic Pakistan's.

Third, there are a number of rogue regimes that belong in a special category: North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Cuba, unfree states whose leaders have sought global attention and stature through sponsoring insurrection and terrorism beyond their borders. If it is scary that Russia, China, and Pakistan are now nuclear, it is terrifying that Kim Jong Il has the bomb, or that President Ahmadinejad might. Islamic fundamentalism or North Korean Stalinism might be antithetical to scientific advancement, but it is actually conducive to nuclear politics. When such renegade regimes go nuclear they gain the added lunatic edge: "We are either crazy or have nothing to lose or both ? but you aren't." In nuclear poker, the appearance of derangement is an apparent advantage.

Fourth, there are all sorts of scary combinations ? petrodollars, nukes, terrorism, and fanaticism. But Iran is a uniquely fivefold danger. It has enough cash to buy influence and exemption; nuclear weapons to threaten civilization; oil reserves to blackmail a petroleum hungry world; terrorists to either find sanctuary under a nuclear umbrella or to be armed with dirty bombs; and it has a leader who wishes either to take his entire country into paradise, or at least back to the eighth century amid the ashes of the Middle East.

Just imagine the present controversy over the cartoons in the context of President Ahmadinejad with his finger on a half-dozen nuclear missiles pointed at Copenhagen.

Fifth, any country that seeks "peaceful" nuclear power and is completely self-sufficient in energy production is de facto suspect. Iran has enough natural gas to meet its clean electrical generation needs for centuries. The only possible rationale for its multi-billion-dollar program of building nuclear reactors, and spending billions more to hide and decentralize them, is to obtain weapons, and thus to gain clout and attention in a manner that otherwise is not warranted by either Iranian conventional forces, cultural influence, or economic achievement.

Sixth, the West is right to take on a certain responsibility to discourage nuclear proliferation. The technology for such weapons grew entirely out of Western science and technology. In fact, the story of nuclear proliferation is exclusively one of espionage, stealthy commerce, or American and European-trained native engineers using their foreign-acquired expertise. Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran have no ability themselves to create such weapons, in the same manner that Russia, China, and India learned or stole a craft established only from the knowledge of European-American physics and industrial engineering. Any country that cannot itself create such weapons is probably not going to ensure the necessary protocols to guard against their misuse or theft.

We can argue all we want over the solution ? it is either immoral to use military force or immoral not to use it; air strikes are feasible or will be an operational disaster; dissidents will rise up or have already mostly been killed or exiled; Russia and China will help solve or will instead enjoy our dilemma; Europe is now on board or is already triangulating; the U.N. will at last step in, or is more likely to damn the United States than Teheran.

Yet where all parties agree is that a poker-faced United States seems hesitant to act until moments before the missiles are armed, and is certainly not behaving like the hegemon or imperialist power so caricatured by Michael Moore and an array of post-September 11 university-press books. Until there is firm evidence that Iran has the warheads ready, the administration apparently does not wish to relive the nightmare of the past three years in which striking Iran will conjure up all the old Iraqi-style hysteria about unilateralism, preemption, incomplete or cooked intelligence, imperialism, and purported hostility toward a Muslim country.

In the greatest irony of all, the Left (who must understand well the nightmarish scenario of a fascist Iran with nuclear weapons) is suddenly bewildered by George Bush's apparent multilateral caution. The Senate Democrats don't know whether to attack the administration now for its nonchalance or to wait and second-guess them once the bombs begin to fall.

Either way, no one should doubt that a nuclear Iran would end the entire notion of global adjudication of nuclear proliferation ? as well as remain a recurrent nightmare to civilization itself.

? 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.


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« Reply #227 on: February 18, 2006, 06:21:24 PM »
The Silent Treatment


THE American left and right don't agree on much, but weeks of demonstrations and embassy burnings have pushed them toward convergence on one point: there is, if not a clash of civilizations, at least a very big gap between the "Western world" and the "Muslim world." When you get beyond this consensus ? the cultural chasm consensus ? and ask what to do about the problem, there is less agreement. After all, chasms are hard to bridge.

Fortunately, this chasm's size is being exaggerated. The Muslim uproar over those Danish cartoons isn't as alien to American culture as we like to think. Once you see this, a benign and quintessentially American response comes into view.

Even many Americans who condemn the cartoon's publication accept the premise that the now-famous Danish newspaper editor set out to demonstrate: in the West we don't generally let interest groups intimidate us into what he called "self-censorship."

What nonsense. Editors at mainstream American media outlets delete lots of words, sentences and images to avoid offending interest groups, especially ethnic and religious ones. It's hard to cite examples since, by definition, they don't appear. But use your imagination.

Hugh Hewitt, a conservative blogger and evangelical Christian, came up with an apt comparison to the Muhammad cartoon: "a cartoon of Christ's crown of thorns transformed into sticks of TNT after an abortion clinic bombing." As Mr. Hewitt noted, that cartoon would offend many American Christians. That's one reason you haven't seen its like in a mainstream American newspaper.

Or, apparently, in many mainstream Danish newspapers. The paper that published the Muhammad cartoon, it turns out, had earlier rejected cartoons of Christ because, as the Sunday editor explained in an e-mail to the cartoonist who submitted them, they would provoke an outcry.

Defenders of the "chasm" thesis might reply that Western editors practice self-censorship to avoid cancelled subscriptions, picket lines or advertising boycotts, not death. Indeed, what forged the chasm consensus, convincing many Americans that the "Muslim world" might as well be another planet, is the image of hair-trigger violence: a few irreverent drawings appear and embassies go up in flames.

But the more we learn about this episode, the less it looks like spontaneous combustion. The initial Muslim response to the cartoons was not violence, but small demonstrations in Denmark along with a lobbying campaign by Danish Muslims that cranked on for months without making it onto the world's radar screen.

Only after these activists were snubbed by Danish politicians and found synergy with powerful politicians in Muslim states did big demonstrations ensue. Some of the demonstrations turned violent, but much of the violence seems to have been orchestrated by state governments, terrorist groups and other cynical political actors.

Besides, who said there's no American tradition of using violence to make a point? Remember the urban riots of the 1960's, starting with the Watts riot of 1965, in which 34 people were killed? The St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, in his 1968 book "From Ghetto to Glory," compared the riots to a "brushback pitch" ? a pitch thrown near a batter's head to keep him from crowding the plate, a way of conveying that the pitcher needs more space.

In the wake of the rioting, blacks got more space. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had been protesting broadcast of the "Amos 'n' Andy" show, with its cast of shiftless and conniving blacks, since the 1950's, but only in 1966 did CBS withdraw reruns from distribution. There's no way to establish a causal link, but there's little doubt that the riots of the 1960's heightened sensitivity to grievances about the portrayal of blacks in the media. (Translation: heightened self-censorship.)

Amid the cartoon protests, some conservative blogs have warned that addressing grievances expressed violently is a form of "appeasement," and will only bring more violence and weaken Western values. But "appeasement" didn't work that way in the 1960's. The Kerner Commission, set up by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967 to study the riots, recommended increased attention to the problems of poverty, job and housing discrimination, and unequal education ? attention that was forthcoming and that didn't exactly spawn decades of race riots.

The commission recognized the difference between what triggers an uproar (how police handle a traffic stop in Watts) and what fuels it (discrimination, poverty, etc.). This recognition has been sparse amid the cartoon uproar, as Americans fixate on the question of how a single drawing could inflame millions.

Answer: depends on which million you're talking about. In Gaza much of the actual fuel came from tensions with Israelis, in Iran some fundamentalists nursed longstanding anti-Americanism, in Pakistan opposition to the pro-Western ruling regime played a role, and so on.

This diversity of rage, and of underlying grievance, complicates the challenge. Apparently refraining from obvious offense to religious sensibilities won't be enough. Still, the offense in question is a crystalline symbol of the overall challenge, because so many of the grievances coalesce in a sense that Muslims aren't respected by the affluent, powerful West (just as rioting American blacks felt they weren't respected by affluent, powerful whites). A cartoon that disrespects Islam by ridiculing Muhammad is both trigger and extremely high-octane fuel.

None of this is to say that there aren't big differences between American culture and culture in many Muslim parts of the world. In a way, that's the point: some differences are so big, and the job of shrinking them so daunting, that we can't afford to be unclear on what the biggest differences are.

What isn't a big difference is the Muslim demand for self-censorship by major media outlets. That kind of self-censorship is not just an American tradition, but a tradition that has helped make America one of the most harmonious multiethnic and multireligious societies in the history of the world.

So why not take the model that has worked in America and apply it globally? Namely: Yes, you are legally free to publish just about anything, but if you publish things that gratuitously offend ethnic or religious groups, you will earn the scorn of enlightened people everywhere. With freedom comes responsibility.

Of course, it's a two-way street. As Westerners try to attune themselves to the sensitivities of Muslims, Muslims need to respect the sensitivities of, for example, Jews. But it's going to be hard for Westerners to sell Muslims on this symmetrical principle while flagrantly violating it themselves. That Danish newspaper editor, along with his American defenders, is complicating the fight against anti-Semitism.

Some Westerners say there's no symmetry here ? that cartoons about the Holocaust are more offensive than cartoons about Muhammad. And, indeed, to us secularists it may seem clear that joking about the murder of millions of people is worse than mocking a God whose existence is disputed.

BUT one key to the American formula for peaceful coexistence is to avoid such arguments ? to let each group decide what it finds most offensive, so long as the implied taboo isn't too onerous. We ask only that the offended group in turn respect the verdicts of other groups about what they find most offensive. Obviously, anti-Semitic and other hateful cartoons won't be eliminated overnight. (In the age of the Internet, no form of hate speech will be eliminated, period; the argument is about what appears in mainstream outlets that are granted legitimacy by nations and peoples.)

But the American experience suggests that steadfast self-restraint can bring progress. In the 1960's, the Nation of Islam was gaining momentum as its leader, Elijah Muhammad, called whites "blue-eyed devils" who were about to be exterminated in keeping with Allah's will. The Nation of Islam has since dropped in prominence and, anyway, has dropped that doctrine from its talking points. Peace prevails in America, and one thing that keeps it is strict self-censorship.

And not just by media outlets. Most Americans tread lightly in discussing ethnicity and religion, and we do it so habitually that it's nearly unconscious. Some might call this dishonest, and maybe it is, but it also holds moral truth: until you've walked in the shoes of other people, you can't really grasp their frustrations and resentments, and you can't really know what would and wouldn't offend you if you were part of their crowd.

The Danish editor's confusion was to conflate censorship and self-censorship. Not only are they not the same thing ? the latter is what allows us to live in a spectacularly diverse society without the former; to keep censorship out of the legal realm, we practice it in the moral realm. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable, but worse things are imaginable.

Robert Wright, the author of "The Moral Animal," is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.


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« Reply #228 on: February 19, 2006, 08:33:02 AM »
Wright's "Moral Animal" and "Non-Zero Sum; the logic of human destiny" are both profound books in the field of evolutionary pyschology and hold honored places on my bookshelf.  I recommend either or both highly.

That said, this piece for me is rather wooly-headed.

"Even many Americans who condemn the cartoon's publication accept the premise that the now-famous Danish newspaper editor set out to demonstrate: in the West we don't generally let interest groups intimidate us into what he called "self-censorship."

"What nonsense. Editors at mainstream American media outlets delete lots of words, sentences and images to avoid offending interest groups, especially ethnic and religious ones. It's hard to cite examples since, by definition, they don't appear. But use your imagination."

True enough--and fatuous.   Campaigns of letters to the editor do no equate to mobs killing people who had nothing to do with the deed and burning down embassies, etc.   Where are the mobs of Jews in NYC going on a rampage killing Arabs and burning their shops because of any of the ongoing flood of vicious  anti-semitic cartoons in the mid-east?

"Apparently refraining from obvious offense to religious sensibilities won't be enough. Still, the offense in question is a crystalline symbol of the overall challenge, because so many of the grievances coalesce in a sense that Muslims aren't respected by the affluent, powerful West (just as rioting American blacks felt they weren't respected by affluent, powerful whites). A cartoon that disrespects Islam by ridiculing Muhammad is both trigger and extremely high-octane fuel. , , ,What isn't a big difference is the Muslim demand for self-censorship by major media outlets. That kind of self-censorship is not just an American tradition, but a tradition that has helped make America one of the most harmonious multiethnic and multireligious societies in the history of the world."

You want respect you give respect.  Islamic fascism is a fact.  These are the people who dynamited the Buddist statues in Afghanistan that had stood for centuries.  These are the people who issue death sentences for books (Rushdie and sundry others).   These are the people who state (e.g. Saudi, Syrian, etc state controlled media) as fact that Jews drain blood from Arabs to complete religious ceremonies.  

And now they are in a snit about some cartoons in Denmark and Wright conflates this to agreement that major media outlets need to be more careful than they already are?

Oy vey.


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« Reply #229 on: February 19, 2006, 10:08:33 PM »
Geopolitical Diary: Hamas Pushes the Envelope
February 20, 2006 03 03  GMT

The Israeli Cabinet voted Sunday to freeze the transfer of $50 million in monthly tax revenues to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) beginning in March, and urged the international community to halt all but humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who recommended freezing the tax transfers, said the new Hamas-led government would soon become "a terrorist authority."

The amount in question accounts for about half of the PNA's total revenues, and its loss would immediately impact the stability of the Palestinian territories. Among Palestinians who are employed, fully one-third work for the PNA, and half of those are in the security forces.

The loss of the tax revenues would be a serious issue, even assuming that all other sources of funding are secure. They are not. Western states -- most directly Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States -- have been threatening to cut off funds as well. Hamas has responded to these threats with bravado, saying the money could simply be replaced with funds from Arab sources. But that may be easier said than done. For one thing, Arab states have a tendency to renege on financial commitments to the Palestinians. And for another, it's difficult to imagine Israel -- or any state -- allowing a hostile entity supported by foreign funds to exist in territory it claims, provided it has a choice in such a matter. And as the dominant economic and military power in the region, Israel does have a choice.

At issue, of course, is the question of Israeli security. The Western states (and Israel of course) want Hamas to formally renounce its charter vow to burn Israel from the earth, pledge itself to the Oslo peace process and give up violence. Hamas made it clear on Feb. 18 that it would retain its weapons, that violence is still an option and that it remains committed to its organizational charter -- although in what passes for compromise on the issue, Hamas did note that it could consider a cease-fire if Israel withdrew to its 1967 borders.

The ball is firmly in Hamas' court. Its actions toward Israel will determine whether there is a PNA for it to take control of.

In some ways, Hamas has exhibited a dramatic level of foresight in its ability to successfully rein in nearly all suicide bombings -- despite Israel's continued attacks against non-Hamas Palestinian militants. But in others -- its defiant Feb. 18 statement, for example -- it has portrayed itself as stubbornly obtuse.

Hamas walks a fine line: It is a populist movement with a militant arm. Should it move into the peacemaking "mainstream," it will have alienated its core supporters and fallen into the trap that Yasser Arafat's Fatah did. Should it (literally) keep to its guns, it will quickly discover that while public opinion in the region may favor the Palestinians, it is Israel that has the funds, might and will to decide whether the Palestinians have a government of their own or not.

While there is little doubt that Israel and Hamas are having quiet dealings behind the scenes, Hamas' margin for error is dangerously thin. Without the approval of the Israeli government, the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip might have no access to the outside world whatsoever; a total blockade is well within Israeli capabilities.

And time is also against the Palestinian movement. Israel is currently in a heated election campaign that is putting Hamas' actions under intense scrutiny. If Hamas cannot reach some kind of agreement for a modus operandi with the caretaker Israeli administration before elections, it risks having a "solution" imposed by the soon-to-be-new Israeli government. After all, that is precisely what Ariel Sharon had planned before health issues removed him from politics.

Intifadas, suicide bombings and rocket attacks may be cards that Hamas can play, but they are extremely weak cards in comparison to border sealings, occupation, financial cutoffs and the Israeli Defense Forces. If Hamas wants to capitalize on its political gains of the past decade and have a say in how the territories are run, it will need to start playing ball -- and soon.


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« Reply #230 on: February 20, 2006, 01:54:23 PM »
man, so much information in this thread. its hard 2 take it all in. i wish i had time 2 read through all of this, but i dont want 2 spend so much time online.
can anyone recommend a book or 2, to help me get a handle on all of this?


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« Reply #231 on: February 22, 2006, 03:25:59 AM »
I recommend in the highest terms

George Friedman: The Secret War.

GF is the founder/head of    If you have the money, subscribing to Strat is HIGHLY recommended.  You can get a one week trial subscription free at the site.

And now, here's this:  


Do we have a smoking gun here?

From   The author was a part of the ISG in Iraq and gives his perspective to some documents published that were purported to be "the real thing".  These documents detail AQ and SH. He personally has seen the original of one document and can verify that at the least, the published one is for real.  
Am I preaching to just the choir again?
 Saddam and al-Qaeda
February 20th, 2006

The proof has been right in front of you the entire time. Documents available on the internet, which pass the smell test and are probably genuine, show the link between Saddam and al Qaeda.

On October 11th, 2004 an online news service called CNSnews published 42 documents that they claimed came from the Iraq Survey Group. The documents supposedly came from an ISG official who claimed they were captured in Iraq. CNSnews provided this information along with testimony from experts who authenticated the documents to the best of their ability. The story can be found here.  

I have no connection to CNSnews. I did not release these documents to anybody while working with ISG or at any other time. But I will now add my name to the list of those who authenticate the documents. I know there is a good chance that these documents are real for three reasons.

The first reason is that I saw thousands of these documents while with ISG, and these look right.

But more than that, I saw the original of one of these documents at the Combined Media Processing Center in Qatar. I can therefore validate one document as having been captured in Iraq ? which increases the likelihood that they are all real.

The third reason is that I witnessed an investigation into who released these documents conducted at the CPMC by ISG. If these document were not authentic, why would an investigation have been conducted into who released them?

So what do the documents tell us?

I recommend that you review them, as they contain such interesting nuggets as a program by the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) to hunt down and kill Americans throughout the Middle East and Africa.

But how does this connect Saddam to al-Qaeda?

Look at document 14.  

Here is the condensed version. The document is from the IIS and details plans to meet with an official from the ?Egyptian Al-Jehad? via a Sudanese official named Ali Othman Taha. He is called the Vice Chairman of the Islamic Front in Sudan in the memo.

I looked up Ali Othman Taha on wikipedia and it says that he is the Vice President of Sudan.

Who or what is the Egyptian al-Jehad (jihad)?

This from  


Jihad Group

Islamic Jihad

Egyptian Islamic Jihad

New Jihad Group

Vanguards of Conquest

Talaa? al-Fateh


Egyptian Islamic extremist group active since the late 1970s. Merged with Bin Ladin?s al-Qaida organization in June 2001, but may retain some capability to conduct independent operations. Continues to suffer setbacks worldwide, especially after 11 September attacks. Primary goals are to overthrow the Egyptian Government and replace it with an Islamic state and attack US and Israeli interests in Egypt and abroad.

Okay now we know the Egyptian al Jihad is also known as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a name you may have heard in connection to its leader:

Al-Sharif passed the Jihad leadership to Ayman al-Zawahri amid dissent within the movement in the mid 1980?s. The al-Zawahri faction subsequently formed an alliance with Al-Qaeda leading over time to the effective merger of the two groups operations inside Afghanistan.

Although al-Zawahri is frequently refered to as a ?lieutenant? or ?second in command? of Al Qaeda this description is misleading as it implies a hierarchical relationship. The modern Al Qaeda organization is the combination of Bin Laden?s financial resources with al-Zawahri?s ideological and operational leadership.  ? wikipedia

That?s right, Ayman al-Zawahri, one of the talking heads of al-Qaeda who treated us to a new video not so long ago. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization combined with Osama Bin Ladin?s supporters to form al-Qaeda.

The EIJ is neck deep in al-Qaeda. And this documents shows an EIJ official to be escorted to Baghdad to meet with Saddam Hussein in 1993.

The Institute for Counterterrorism says this about the EIJ:

Since 1993 the group has not conducted an attack inside Egypt. However there have been repeated threats to retaliate against the United States, for its incarceration of Sheikh Umar Abd al-Rahman and, more recently, for the arrests of its members in Albania, Azerbaijan, and the United Kingdom.

In 1993, Sheikh Umar Abd al-Rahman directed the bombing of the world trade center. He is now imprisoned in the U.S.

Now look at document 28.

This document is a continuation of document 27 and in general talks about overturning the Egyptian government and ?providing technical support? presumably to the EIJ in efforts against the Egyptian government and American non-military interests.

So let ?s put this in context. Here?s what the documents tell us:

On February 26th, 1993 the first world trade center was attacked by al-Qaeda and the EIJ (really two organizations that cooperated in 1993 and eventually merged).

A month later an official from EIJ was meeting with Saddam in Baghdad.

We have a document showing Saddam authorizing the IIS to ?provide technical support? to the EIJ, and by extension, al-Qaeda.

And then al-Qaeda and the EIJ attacked the U.S. on September 11th, 2001 led by an Egyptian Jihadist, Mohammed Atta.

Now you have proof Saddam provided support to the EIJ and by extension al-Qaeda, both of which attacked us on 9/11.

Ray Robison is a Sr. Military Operations Research Analyst with a defense contractor at the Aviation and Missile, Research, Development, Engineering Command in Huntsville, Alabama. His background includes over ten years of military service as an officer and enlisted soldier including the Gulf War and Kosovo operations. Most recently he worked as a contractor for DIA with the Iraqi Survey Group. He holds a B.S. degree in Biology, Pre-med from the University of Tampa and is a graduate of the Combined Arms and Services Staff School.


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« Reply #232 on: February 22, 2006, 08:17:52 AM »

Another declassified Al Qaeda document: The failed jihad in Syria
Filed under:
? site admin @ 9:25 am
Al Qaeda assesses its mistakes. (And please see this recent post for background on other Al Qaeda documents.)

Consider ?Lessons learned from the armed jihad ordeal in Syria.?

This is a long analysis (45 pages in pdf) of the Muslim Brotherhood?s war against Syria?s Assad regime, and focuses on the early 1980s.

Al Qaeda wants to learn from:

?the jihad ordeal in the past period, we should point out ?as we see it from our own perspective? important and essential points that form the basis of our analysis, the methodology we used and the objectives we seek:

On Page 6:

?Obviously the most essential element of any revolutionary organization is putting forward a series of goals and slogans that attract the masses, and presenting itself as a revolutionary pioneering organization with crystal clear objectives. The true mujahideen failed to put forward their ideology, slogans and objectives via a well crafted media campaign. The majority of people were not aware of what was going on and those who followed the news knew that some Moslems youths are fighting the regime and plan on establishing ?Moslem rule?, they did not explain to the people the nature and form of this ?Moslem rule?, they did not explain why people should join in the fight and why they should die for that cause. The mujahideen failed to define their identity, their intentions and motivations; such an explanation was and still is the main pillar for attracting the masses and mobilizing the base members on an intellectual and ideological level to partake in this dangerous work (i.e. Jihad).

Media, revolt, ?pioneering organization.? Al Qaeda paid attention to the Soviet Union?s Cold War methods for seeding and encouraging anti-Western rebels. (The document often focuses on the methods and operations of ?Attalieaa? -The Vanguards- in the anti-Assad revolt.)

On page 10? a lack of OPSEC (operatonal security) and ?strike back? capability hindered the Syrian movement:

The hosting regimes infiltrated our organizations, monitored all our activities, restricted and chocked us, and in some cases arrested or killed our members and representatives. It is true the battle was in Syria; nevertheless we needed to have military deterrence capabilities on the outside; to help us fend off an enemy able to trace and monitor our movements in our new homes.
Many Arab and Moslem regimes ganged up on us by aiding and abetting the enemy, it is enough to mention that while we were suffering from death, destruction and a daunting war; Arab oil money was flowing to the ?Alawite? Hafez Assad to pay for the bullets killing our Moslem youth, and for building prisons to incarcerate and torture our brethren. Most of the Arab Moslem gulf countries considered Hafez Assad and his regime as apostate blasphemers yet for political interests and for the purpose of maintaining balance of power; they flooded his ?Alawite occupying? regime with billions of dollars. In short the lack of military operations on the outside prevented us from deterring the enemy and his friends and supporters.

On page 11 ? the failure of Muslim organizations to instill genuine ?hard militancy.? This puts the Cartoon Wars in a new light. Al Qaeda has had ten to fifteen years to ?harden? these organizations.

Inability to transform civilian Islamic missionary groups into military organizations capable of resistance and self defense:
This could be the most valuable lesson relating to the Islamic missionary groups in the Arab & Moslem countries. The battle may have erupted unexpectedly; however a large sector of the Moslems (Especially the leaders) knew that it was inevitable, those leaders did not prepare nor plan. Those missionary groups brought their peaceful missionary style and methods to the fight, the sheik failed miserably when he wore the general?s hat. It is astonishing to see and hear leaders of Moslem organizations preaching jihad and claiming that dieing for ?Allah? is their ultimate wish, yet they fail for tens of years to instruct religiously and train militarily for that fight, they could not produce documents for emergency (e.g. passports), or save money for tough times. They were unable to mobilize effectively and in a hurry, those organizations were ineffective and eventually collapsed.

But to Al Qaeda?s strategists, Syria proved to them that some form of Islamist revolution would work.

Events proved that mobilizing armed Moslem masses in the cause of an Islamic jihad revolution is possible; provided that the leaders prove their ability to fight oppression and set a good example in daring and sacrifice. The 18 months of military jihad -with all its shortcomings- brought hundreds of thousands of Moslems to the streets chanting: down with oppression, down with the regime, long live jihad, give us arms to fight with honor, the city of Hamah experience proved that thousands of Moslems answered the call and fought side by side with our mujahideen. Events proved how giving our people are, leaders sprouted from within and produced magnificent military cadres both in leadership and discipline.

BUsh and Rumsfeld weren?t the first to apply the term ?long war? to this struggle. Al Qaeda used it. On page 19:

The struggle for the sake and path of ?Allah? is not called:?Jihad? for nothing, the term ?Jihad? literally means: ?exerting a tiring effort to set up?. The enemy is strong and powerful, we are weak and poor, the war duration is going to be long and the best way to fight it is in a revolutionary jihad way for the sake of ?Allah?. The preparations better be deliberate, comprehensive, and properly planed, taking into account past experiences and lessons.

Centralization of planning but a ?high degree? of field autonomy isn?t an accident.

Page 20:

Decentralization in the management of the military operations:
To yield high dividends; the military high command managing this type of battles must have centralized planning and strategy, they could heat up an area or cool another to affect the flow of the war, they should be able to maintain harmony among the forces and ranks, distribute and move weaponry, supplies, personnel to different locations according to need. From this perspective centralization is essential; on the other hand the nature of this type of war requires that the regional and field commanders be awarded a high level of autonomy in planning and managing their own affairs. The experiences of gang warfare around the world ?whether ancient or contemporary? has proven that this style is necessary and very effectiveness.

The war is also expensive. From page 21:

Experiences teach us that a mujahid revolutionary movement that utilizes a gang warfare will be very expensive, costing millions per day ranging from weaponry, armaments and munitions, supporting the mujahideen, providing them with shelter and aiding their families, providing documentation, and paying for the battle expenses. Now we understand why the holy Koran and the speeches of the prophet tied the physical jihad to financial jihad. Money plays an influential role in this war; it can not be planed for, nor initiated prior to finding a solution to this conundrum. Our experiences as well as the experiences of other nations where gang warfare took place teach us that for the revolutionary leadership to be in control of its decisions, capabilities and destiny, and for this war to succeed it should be self sufficient and financed from within. However the primary source of financing for this war should be obtained through raiding resources of the enemy (Its budget, weapons, resources and money), otherwise the leadership of the jihad movement will be subject to the control, demands and interests of the financers.

Al Qaeda antiticpated a US-led ?financial squeeze.? How successful it?s been in maintaining ?internal funding? is another issue. However, Iraqis told me in 2004 that their police suspected much of the kidnapping of Iraqi citizens was done by criminal organizations hired by either ?former regime elements? (Saddam) or Al Qaeda, with the purpose of generating funds to feed their respective operations.

The section on communication is a must read. An excerpt:

These days communication is the nerve of all modern armies in the world, and revolutionary gang warfare organizations are no exception, it may not be as vital to them as it is to conventional armies but it is still very important nevertheless. Communications could be the weak link and expose the mujahideen to the enemy. In our Syrian experience communications at all levels were carried out via courier, or through pre arranged meetings, wireless communication was not utilized till later in the battle, coordination with the leaderships and supporters out side Syria was conducted via courier too, Towards the end of the war the ?Moslem Brotherhood? resorted to airing coded messages to the inside on their radio station in Iraq.

Pages 28 and 29 discuss intelligence gathering and organizational structure. ?Pyramid? and ?thread? organizational structures are both analyzed. An excerpt:

Some times a combination of both structures (the pyramid hierarchy and the thread connection) yields great results because it provides the leadership with the ability to maneuver, this of course depends on the situation. Many European gang organizations were able through experience to develop very accurate and durable methods that helped it withstand the onslaught of very advanced and powerful security organizations; (e.g. the red brigades of Italy, Badder Meinhoff of Germany and the Spanish separatist organization ETA). Our experience taught us that security and strength of an organization could be contradictory to its growth or ease of management.

The pyramid: ?The most popular form of secretive organizations is the pyramid hierarchy structure, where information and command goes up or down effectively and in a speedy manner??

The thread (incorrect spellings are from the translated text): ?A leadership member ?Tip of the thread? is connected to a series of clusters, those clusters are not connected to each other and are usually composed of one or two individuals, this burdens the ?tip of the thread? with a lot of responsibilities and requires dedicated effort on his part. If a member is arrested he does not cause a major threat to the entire organization because he does not know much. This system though secure, is week, because if the ?tip of the tread? is captured, all the clusters are compromised??

On page 34 we hear an echo of von Clausewitz:

The Jihad revolutionary war just like any other war is political at heart; it is politically and ideologically motivated, the military activity is merely the tool or means to achieve that objective. (Without military activity the revolution will loose its impact and have no chance of success). The military operations could be extremely successful yet if that capital is not expended in accordance with a clear political vision and strategy, and a well crafted public relations campaign we will only gain titles for our martyrs and tears for their blood. We have to stress (and make sure we do not forget) that the battle is political at the core; the political effort should receive the same attention and be treated as importantly as the military effort is.

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

[?] olitics, Middle East/Terrorism at 9:18 am by Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Courtesy of Austin Bay: Al Qaeda assesses its mistakes. (And please see this recent post for background on other Al Qaeda d [?]

Pingback by ? Another declassified Al Qaeda document: The failed jihad in Syria ? 2/20/2006 @ 11:17 am

William Kristol (Weekly Standard) was interviewed on Fox News this AM stating that the administration had given up on the concept of releaseing this material to the public or making a big show of doing so. According to Kristol people in the White House thought it was a lost cause and no use trying to bring this information to light. If Kristol is right, it shows some serious problems in the thinking in the White House. Either that, or they are going to sit on it till right before the 06 election to play a big ?I told you so? game and drop the national secutiry card in an attempt to influence the election. I don?t know but my sense is that is is not the later.

Comment by Bill Gross ? 2/20/2006 @ 11:34 am

Very good read.
Al Qaeda clearly knows that the media battle is as important as the military battle.
They speak to two audiences, potential Islamic recruits and people in the West whose will to resist can be broken.
The media and politicos in the West are serving to aid and abet Al Qaeda in this media battle.

Comment by Rob ? 2/20/2006 @ 12:21 pm

[?] by a relatively unorganized group of radical imams, with Al Qaeda merely an anomaly. Now Austin Bay brings us another perspective on Al Qaeda, and it?s disturbing. It suggests th [?]

Pingback by sifted truth ? Blog Archive ? The Two Faces of Jihad ? 2/20/2006 @ 6:26 pm

There is quite a bit of hard ball politics going on in the USA and especially around the ?beltway?. The conduit to release this real information is blocked because the main stream media is infested with liberals who would either spike this news or discredit it. If it were released to Fox news or the Washington Times, it would not be taken seriously either. Lose-lose. We are in a war, and many in our country either don?t know it or don?t believe it, or are on the other side.

Comment by Chief RZ ? 2/20/2006 @ 6:39 pm

One major shortcoming in the way Americans wage war is that they can?t seem to see military operations as linked to, or an extension of, political actions. Clausewitz?s wisdom seems so often to have been wasted on both the American body politic, and its institutional military. Obviously, as we?ve learned to our sorrow, the Vietnamese understood this. It seems the Islamic jihadists do also. How many ?hits? are we going to take before the lesson is learned?

Comment by Steve ? 2/20/2006 @ 7:14 pm

Isn?t it interesting that MSM has no interest in these documents. Do you doubt their reaction would be completely opposite if these documents were composed by the Bush administration and dealing with an analysis of pre-war intelligence?

Comment by Jason ? 2/20/2006 @ 8:54 pm

History lesson

Austin Bay has the breakdown of some newly released documents seized in Afghanistan and Iraq. What I think we will all find out soon is that the bad guys (al-qaeda, Saddam, etc.) are meticulous record keepers, just like the nazi?s in WWII. Reams and r?

Trackback by GZ Expat, Part II ? 2/20/2006 @ 9:43 pm

As Rep. Pete Hoekstra, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, noted: There are still 35,000 unreviewed and untranslated boxes of documents and tapes. Along with the Feb. 2nd report on concerning former Iraqi General Georges Sada who said that Saddam moved WMD into Syria in retrofitted commerical jets in 2002, the Iraq-Syria connection vis a vis WMD may well become major news this year. See my full review of this at

Comment by Phil Mella ? 2/20/2006 @ 10:53 pm

Thank you for printing these. This information underscores the value of the strategy of releasing these documents to the blogs and letting the blogs translate and distribute the information. The best disinfectant is the light of the sun. Let?s expose these terrorists.

Comment by JoeS ? 2/21/2006 @ 7:39 am

Please keep the pressure on the political powers that be?when they gets their spine and groove back and hammer at what the Al Queda operatives say and then DO, the MSM will have to start treating it as an valid insight for all to learn about and to ponder and to gather their wits in supporting this clash of freedom with Islamic fanatics who play the game of facism just as well as Hitler and his minions ever did. And all the time, we must continue to point out that the vast majority of moderate Muslims?and they are legion?need our support so they can become braver and braver in denouncing these thugs who have hijacked their religion and the true teachings of their Prophet.

Comment by marlowe anderson ? 2/21/2006 @ 12:13 pm

This is great; thanks, Austin.
When will Bush focus more efforts on translation, and especially machine aided OCR and machine initial Arabic > English? It?s ridiculous that they don?t have more programs working on this problem for a technical fix ? as well as increasing the AI tech capabilities.

Farming it out to bloggers, and the internet, is also not a bad idea.

Comment by Tom Grey - Liberty Dad ? 2/21/2006 @ 12:45 pm

Not Surprising in the Least

Michelle Malkin?s blog directed me to the Counterterrorism Blog?s follow-up of a story from the Buckeye State. I must say I don?t find this the least bit surprising given the press that?s been coming from northwest Ohio for awhile as

Trackback by Most Certainly Not ? 2/21/2006 @ 12:56 pm

Stunning - not. The revolutionaries have been working on their doctrine for a number of years. Their detailed analysis of their weaknesses and operational needs should be a reinforcing wake-up call that we are ill equipped for this radical, assymetric conflict. Boots on the ground can establish safe zones to disarm and undermine popular support for these groups, but the recent arrests in Ohio indicate that adherents are potentially everywhere.

Comment by Citizen Deux ? 2/21/2006 @ 2:15 pm

The Muslim Brotherhood had a radio station in Iraq? Gosh, I thought Saddam was opposed to the religious jihadi?s. That?s the CIA?s deep, expensively researched insight, isn?t it? Makes me wonder just how much other cooperation might have been going on?

Comment by Patrick ? 2/21/2006 @ 3:49 pm

How very fascinating that the history of political struggle reveals that the more things change-the more they stay the same. These operational notes could have come out of the playbook for every ?revolutionary? struggle enacted in the 20th century. Just replace ?Allah? with the ?Party?, ?jihad? with ?struggle? and we are in the middle of your basic communist guerilla war with a few high tech updates for the times we live in. The only question left is how do we turn the 5th column of the msm into a weapon for our side.

Comment by dgree3 ? 2/21/2006 @ 7:01 pm


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Wahhib Training Facility in NY?
« Reply #233 on: February 27, 2006, 12:02:40 PM »
Perhaps misfiled, but fairly spooky none the less.

Probe finds terrorists in U.S. 'training for war'
Neighbors of Muslim encampment fear retaliation if they report to police
Posted: February 17, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

The Pakistani terrorist group Jamaat ul Fuqra is using Islamic schools in the United States as training facilities, confirms a joint investigative report by an intelligence think tank and an independent reporter.

A covert visit to an encampment in the Catskill Mountains near Hancock, N.Y., called "Islamberg" found neighboring residents deeply concerned about military-style training taking place there but frustrated by the lack of attention from federal authorities, said the report by the Northeast Intelligence Network, which worked with an Internet blogger, "CP," to publish an interim report.

The neighbors interviewed, who asked not to be identified, said they feared retaliation if they were to make a report to law enforcement officials.

"We see children ? small children run around over there when they should be in school," one neighbor said. "We hear bursts of gunfire all of the time, and we know that there is military-like training going on there. Those people are armed and dangerous."

The resident said his household gets "nothing but menacing looks from the people who go in and out of the camp, and sometimes they yell at us to mind our own business when we are just driving by."

"We don't even dare to slow down when we drive by," the resident said. "They own this mountain and they know it, and there is nothing we can do about it but move, and we can't even do that. Who wants to buy property next to that?"

Jamaat ul-Fuqra, or "community of the impoverished," was formed by Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani in New York in 1980. Gilani, who refers to himself as "the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr," has stated his objective is to "purify" Islam through violence.

Gilani also is the founder of a village in South Carolina called "Holy Islamville."

The encampment in Hancock, N.Y., is run by a front for Jamaat ul-Fuqra called Muslims of the Americas Inc., which operates a school known as the International Quranic Open University Inc.

The facility is on 70 acres of remote land on the western edge of the Catskill Mountains, about 40 miles southeast of Binghamton, N.Y. A sign at the entrance identifies the place as "Islamberg." The other side of the sign says "International Quranic Open University" and "Muslims of the Americas Inc."

Every one of the neighboring residents interviewed expressed disappointment and additional concern that federal law enforcement is not investigating the activities, the report said.

"These people need to be investigated," a resident said. "They are training for war, either for war here in this country or against our troops. Who in the h--- is allowing this stuff to happen right here in our own backyard, and why?"

Headquarters in the USA

Though primarily based in Lahore, Pakistan, Jamaat ul-Fuqra has operational headquarters in the U.S.

The group seeks to counter "excessive Western influence on Islam" through any means necessary, publicly embracing the ideology that violence is a significant part of its quest to purify Islam. The enemies of Islam, the group says, are all non-Muslims and any Muslim who does not follow the tenets of fundamentalist Islam as detailed in the Quran.

Jamaat ul-Fuqra openly recruits through various social service organizations in the U.S., including the prison system. Members live in compounds where they agree to abide by the laws of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, which are considered to be above local, state and federal authority.

According to the report, there appear to be more than two dozen "Jamaats," or private communities, loosely connected and scattered throughout the U.S. with an estimated 5,000 members.

An investigation of the group by the Colorado Attorney General's office in the early 1980s found several of the communities operate covert paramilitary training compounds, including one in a mountainous area near Buena Vista, Colo.

Muslims of the Americas Inc., a tax-exempt organization formed in 1980 by Gilani, has been directly linked by court documents to Jamaat ul-Fuqra. The organization operates communes of primarily black, American-born Muslims throughout the U.S. The investigation confirmed members commonly use aliases and intentional spelling variations of their names and routinely deny the existence of Jamaat ul-Fuqra.

Members have been known to go to Pakistan for paramilitary training, but the investigation found evidence the U.S. encampments offer such training so members don't need to risk traveling abroad amid increased scrutiny following the 9-11 attacks.

The report says Jamaat ul-Fuqra members have "purchased isolated rural properties in North America to live as a community, practice their faith, and insulate themselves from Western culture. The group has established rural encampments that U.S. authorities allege are linked to murder, bombings and other felonies throughout North America."

U.S. authorities have probed the group for charges ranging from links to al-Qaida to laundering and funneling money into Pakistan for terrorist activities. The organization supports various terrorist groups operating in Pakistan and Kashmir, and Gilani himself is linked directly to Hamas and Hezbollah. Throughout the 1980s, JF was responsible for a number of terrorist acts across the United States, including numerous fire-bombings.

Gilani was at one time in Pakistani custody for the abduction of American journalist Daniel Pearl. Intelligence sources have determined Pearl was attempting to meet with Gilani in the days before he disappeared in Karachi. Intelligence sources also suggest a link between Jamaat ul Fuqra and Richard Reid, the infamous "shoe bomber" who attempted to ignite explosives aboard a Paris-to-Miami passenger flight Dec. 22, 2001.

Field investigation

Douglas J. Hagmann, director of the Northeast Intelligence Network and multi-state licensed private investigator, and others conducted their covert field investigation Feb. 8 and 9 at the Hancock encampment connected to the terrorist group.

Primary access to the compound is an unmarked road ? labeled on county and state maps as "Moslem Road"

Two structures with capacities of up to 100 each appear to be used for religious training, education and meeting purposes, according to local sources. Investigators found a weapons firing range that is not visible from the road or any other publicly accessible vantage position. It appeared to have been recently used.

Near the eastern perimeter of the property ? on a hillside ? appears to be a military-style training area, including ropes hung from tree limbs, an obstacle course, wooden fences for scaling and other items and structures one would expect to find in a "boot-camp" setting. The area also appeared to have been used recently.

The report noted the property is near the Cannonsville Reservoir and Watershed Area, one of several water supply sources servicing New York City and adjacent areas.

The investigators noted men appeared to be designated to provide security for the compound, with some posted at guard shacks.

"Although no activity of extreme significance was observed (the presence of armed sentries guarding the perimeter of the compound excluded) during this period of surveillance, it was obvious that measures to insure that the activities taking place at this location were well insulated from public view," the report said.

Investigators interviewed six area residents, who each requested anonymity for the report, and found them to be consistent. The report summarized the information:

The encampment has been in operation for at least 20 years and appears to maintain a steady level of occupancy. Each source confirmed the existence of at least one armed guard at the main entrance, especially during "special events" that result in a significant number of visitors by vehicle. The events appear to be meetings or religious services held within the compound.

Nearly every weekend, sound of gunfire can be heard from the camp. According to one neighbor who stated he's a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, some of the weapons obviously are "automatic" and large-caliber. On at least two occasions last summer, area residents heard small explosions.

The occupants won't allow anyone not affiliated with their organization to enter the encampment. All of the residents stated they've never observed a marked law enforcement vehicle enter the compound at any time.

Visitors to the compound are numerous and frequent. All visitors appear to be black males operating late model vehicles, mostly SUVs, and many possess license plates from Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee.

At least once each week, private deliveries of unknown items are made to the camp by unmarked box-style trucks. The trucks, usually at the compound for two to three hours at a time, are operated by black males or men who appear to be of Middle Eastern origin.

Men of Middle Eastern origin appear to be "frequent guests" of the encampment, many in traditional Islamic attire. Some appear to stay at the encampment for three to four days or longer. During the visits, activity and security at the compound is heightened noticeably.
The report also says it found that a number of the residents of the compound work for the New York State Thruway, as tollbooth operators in the New York City area or are employed at a nearby center that processes credit card transactions and maintains vital confidential financial records.

The report concludes additional investigation by law enforcement authorities is required.

"The appropriate action must be taken now to insure the safety and security of the United States, or it is certain that we will be forced to deal with the consequences. ?"


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« Reply #234 on: March 01, 2006, 08:26:17 PM »

Its OK here, but best would be the Homeland Security thread.

Anyway, here's this:

Iran: The Regime's Strategic Moderation

Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami criticized his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his remarks regarding the Holocaust, while a centrist daily said Ahmadinejad's statements toward Israel only have added to Iran's problems. That Khatami and a newspaper were allowed to criticize Ahmadinejad publicly means Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei probably approved out of a desire to tame the ultraconservatives. These moderating statements will prove helpful to Tehran in the negotiations over the nuclear crisis, and come at a time when Iran is at crossroads both internationally and domestically.


Without naming him, former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami criticized his successor, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on March 1 by contradicting the latter's claims denying the Holocaust. In remarks published in the Iranian press, Khatami referred to the Holocaust as a "historical reality." The moderate cleric also said, "We should speak out if even a single Jew is killed. Don't forget that one of the crimes of Hitler, Nazism and German national socialism was the massacre of innocent people, among them many Jews."

The same day, the well-known centrist newspaper Shargh also criticized the president for his anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli comments. The paper wrote, "The Holocaust has, as wished for by the president, become a topic of our foreign policy." The publication then posed the question: "Don't we have enough with the nuclear question, human rights, free elections and political in-fighting, so do we need to add another problem?" Shargh added that Tehran should focus its energies on the creation of a Palestinian state rather than on Israel's destruction.

Neither criticism could have been published without prior approval from the highest echelons of power. Khatami's remarks and Shargh's commentary against the maverick Iranian president likely were sanctioned by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They serve two purposes, one at the international level and the other at the domestic level.

On the foreign policy front, these remarks are part of the regime's efforts to project alternating images of the Islamic republic to extract concessions in back-channel talks with Washington on Iraq. These moderating comments also allow Khamenei to strike a balance between the two main factions within the conservative clerical establishment, the ultraconservatives and the pragmatic conservatives.

By allowing different voices to air their opinions at different times, or at least by giving that impression, Khamenei and his top associates are able to manipulate the international situation depending on Tehran's needs. When it wants to gain U.S. attention, Tehran has Ahmadinejad make provocative comments against Israel to increase tensions. And when Tehran needs to contain a crisis, it has figures like Khatami contradict the president. By giving the sense of having radicals like the current president and moderates like the former president, Iran can portray itself as unpredictable, and therefore dangerous, not unlike North Korea. This creates the impression that if negotiations proceed just a little longer, something could be resolved. In other words, the presence of voices of reason inside Iran makes the Islamic republic seem like a less desirable target to attack. Hence, the West and Iran have remained locked in an almost perpetual state of negotiations.

Tehran has successfully employed this technique on the foreign policy front because the various factions of the Iranian regime, despite differences in their preferred approaches, maintain a consensus on the state's core objectives. The drawback of this approach, however, is that it allows each faction to seek an advantage on the domestic front over its competitors.

Such a tussle has an unsettling effect on the movers and shakers' position in the political system given their ties to the various factions. Furthermore, Khamenei has long sided with the pragmatists within the regime. With the resurgence of the ultraconservatives after Ahmadinejad's election, this balancing act has become more cumbersome.

What has Khamenei and the Iranian power brokers worried are the upcoming elections to the Assembly of Experts, scheduled for late summer or early fall. One of many organs of Iran's complex political system, the Assembly of Experts has the authority to appoint and remove the supreme leader. The ideologues behind Ahmadinejad -- such as those around his key ideological mentor, Ayatollah Mohammed Taqi Misbah Yazdi -- are trying to gain entry into the assembly to extend their leverage beyond the regime's elected figurehead, Ahmadinejad, to Iran's unelected apex position.

By allowing criticism of Ahmadinejad by a leading voice of the rival faction, Khamenei is trying to contain the ultraconservatives' advance. Ironically, it was Khamenei who came out a year ago to Ahmadinejad's rescue, calling for patience with the new president, which allowed Ahmadinejad the time and space to better run his administration.

The situation in Iran is far more nuanced than the prevailing discourse on Iranian politics, which simplifies Iran's domestic situation as a tussle between reformists and hard-liners. This misperception increases the regime's freedom to navigate on the international scene.


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« Reply #235 on: March 01, 2006, 11:16:57 PM »


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« Reply #236 on: March 02, 2006, 02:15:34 PM »
wow! why are there not morearabic people speaking out like this woman!?!? she has got 2 B the bravest woman on the planet. my girlfriend and i watched that 2gether and we couldnt help  but wonder how much longer that womoan will B alive. ( who is she? i missed it)
so much of what she said was true, i just hope the right people will hear her. i am certain that her voice wont reach those that R commited 2 violence and terror, but maybe one child or one student or one mother......


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« Reply #237 on: March 06, 2006, 07:37:03 AM »
Must see photos at this Arabic website to appreciate the size of this demonstration against terrorism in Bahrain. -

comments (in English) from:


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Al Qaeda in Gaza?
« Reply #238 on: March 06, 2006, 01:57:06 PM »
March 06, 2006, 8:33 a.m.
The Strip Club
Al Qaeda and Hamas in Gaza.
James Robbins

An interesting war of words has broken out in the Palestinian Authority. In an interview published March 2, Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas stated that he has intelligence information that al Qaeda has set up shop on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. He calls the information very serious and troubling, and the implication is that al Qaeda was allowed to enter the PA by the local security forces, particularly in Gaza, which the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) controls. Hamas quickly denied that al Qaeda is present in Gaza, but added that if in fact they are there, it is Israel?s fault. Also, they stated that if their group is not treated favorably by the U.S., al Qaeda may just as well be there, to teach us a lesson. Not exactly an unequivocal rejection.

To complicate matters further, as this exchange was taking place al Jazeera ran excerpts from a new videotape from al Qaeda number-two Ayman al Zawahiri, urging Hamas to stick to the radical program. The group should hold firm against U.S. threats of withholding aid until they recognize Israel?s right to exist. Zawahiri counseled instead taking a hard line, rejecting calls for a coalition government and renouncing the ?Madrid and Oslo accords, the road map, and other agreements of surrender that violate, and even clash with the Shar'iah [Muslim law].? Zawahiri chastised those in Hamas who might seek compromise for political gain, even if the compromise is only temporary. His alternative? ?Well,? he said, ?it is the path of the prophets and messengers, the path of da'wah [Islamic call] and jihad; da'wah for the pure faith and jihad in its name until the land is liberated and the Muslim caliphate emerges, God willing.? Meanwhile leaflets were scattered across southern Gaza by ?The Army of Jihad and Preventing Corruption? that praised Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

Reports of an al Qaeda presence in Gaza began circulating shortly after the Israeli pullout last August. A group styling itself the Al Qaeda Organization Jihad in Palestine announced its formation on a radical Islamist website in October 2005. The official Hamas Palestinian Forum website also carried the announcement. During Ramadan, the new group published and distributed religious booklets in various Strip mosques. Other reports have al Qaeda recruiting rigorously from disheartened members of the Gaza branch of the Fatah-affiliated al Aqsa Martyr?s Brigade, as well as among Hamas members stewing in Israeli prisons.

Making for Gaza is a natural move for al Qaeda, which has been seeking an Afghanistan-style base of operations since the fall of the Taliban. A sub-sovereign zone like the Strip, run by aggressive radicals, tolerant of criminality, and protected by international agreements, is the perfect outpost to pursue the violent task of erecting God?s Kingdom on Earth. In addition, it will place al Qaeda on the frontlines of the struggle with Israel, the last cause that can generate any significant unity among the Muslim (and especially Arab) world.

In the past, al Qaeda was decidedly unwelcome on that particular front. There were ideological differences; the mainstream Palestinian terror outfits were more nationalist than sectarian. Al Qaeda?s Palestinian co-founder Abdulla Azzam split from the PLO in the early 1970s for that very reason, and his influential work ?Defense of Muslim Lands? lays out a no-negotiation, no-compromise program with Israel, the U.S., or anyone else. (Azzam also helped found Hamas before his death from complications of a car bombing in 1989.) But beyond the ideological divide there was also an ego conflict, the clash of the terror divas. Yasser Arafat was synonymous with terrorism for decades. Palestine was his show; no room for a kid from Saudi on that stage.

Bin Laden?s scorn for Arafat was evident in his January 1999 interview with Time magazine, in which he denounced ?those who sympathize with the infidels ? such as the PLO in Palestine, or the so-called Palestinian Authority ? have been trying for tens of years to get back some of their rights. They laid down arms and abandoned what is called ?violence? and tried peaceful bargaining.? To no avail, in bin Laden?s opinion. After that, al Qaeda sent annual messages of support to the Palestinians, for example in 2003 stating, ?We will continue in the path of jihad; we are still with you; your blood is our blood, your honor is our honor, and your sons are our sons. Your blood will not be wasted; I swear that we will support you until Palestine is Islamic again.? With Arafat gone, Israel withdrawn from Gaza and Hamas in control, means, motive, and opportunity are in perfect alignment.

Some analysts observe that it is in Fatah?s interest, as well as Israel?s, to associate Hamas with al Qaeda, in order to discredit them; they thus seek to discount the potential links, or even al Qaeda presence, as propaganda. But the evidence is slowly mounting that al Qaeda is active in the Palestinian Authority, doing what they have been promising to do for years. It is odd indeed to be arguing which of three terrorist organizations is the most extreme, and how that reflects on the others. Would we somehow think less of Hamas if they were consorting with al Qaeda? The two groups have virtually identical worldviews, programs, and propensities to kill the innocent. We should not think much of Hamas in any case. However, the possibility that the Islamic Resistance Movement is aligning with our principle enemy in the global war on terrorism should give pause to those who, in this country and elsewhere, seek to secure millions of dollars in aid money for the PA. The U.S. and its Coalition partners have spent years developing the tools necessary to disrupt terrorist financing; we should not indirectly become the terrorists? new state sponsors.

? James S. Robbins is senior fellow in national-security affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council, a trustee for the Leaders for Liberty Foundation, and author of the forthcoming Last in Their Class: Custer, Picket and the Goats of West Point. Robbins is also an NRO contributor.


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« Reply #239 on: March 07, 2006, 04:57:29 AM »
Special Dispatch Series - No. 1107
March 7, 2006 No.1107

Attacks on Arab-American Psychologist Wafa Sultan: Islamist Sheikh on Al-Jazeera Calls Her Heretic; Syrian Sermon Calls Her Infidel

On February 21, 2006, MEMRITV released a clip featuring an interview with Arab-American psychologist Wafa Sultan on Al-Jazeera TV. During the interview, Dr.Ibrahim Al-Khouli accused Sultan of being a "heretic" for attacking current aspects of Islamic society.


Following the release of this clip, Bassam Darwish, editor of the reformist website, posted a February 28, 2006 report by AFP stating that a Friday sermon in Damascus had harshly criticized her appearance on Al-Jazeera: "[Syrian human rights activist Anwar] Al-Bouni reports that one of the sheikhs described Wafa Sultan as 'an infidel,' accusing her of 'harming Islam more than it was harmed by the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, recently published in European newspapers.'

"According to Al-Bouni, 'the Syrian authorities began to use the weapon of the official religion as a new tool to oppress society... It is no longer enough for them to arrest activists, to terrorize them, and to prevent them from traveling, but now they recruit against them the pulpits of takfir [accusing other Muslims of heresy] and takhwin [accusing Muslims of treachery].' He described this policy as dangerous and destructive." [1]

The following are excerpts from an interview with Wafa Sultan that aired on Al-Jazeera TV on February 21, 2006. It is followed by excerpts from a debate in which she participated, in a talk show that aired on Al-Jazeera TV on July 26, 2005.

In the past, MEMRI has reported on Islamist threats to reformists, see for example:

Saudi Doctorate Encourages the Murder of Arab Intellectuals, January 12, 2006, Special Dispatch Series - No. 1070, .

Arab Intellectuals: Under Threat by Islamists, November, 23, 2005, Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 254,

Accusing Muslim Intellectuals of Apostasy, February 18, 2005, Inquiry and Analysis - No. 208,

February 21, 2006


Wafa Sultan: "The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete."


Host: "I understand from your words that what is happening today is a clash between the culture of the West, and the backwardness and ignorance of the Muslims?"

Wafa Sultan: "Yes, that is what I mean."


Host: "Who came up with the concept of a clash of civilizations? Was it not Samuel Huntington? It was not bin Laden. I would like to discuss this issue, if you don't mind..."

Wafa Sultan: "The Muslims are the ones who began using this expression. The Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations. The Prophet of Islam said: 'I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and His Messenger.' When the Muslims divided the people into Muslims and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe in what they themselves believe, they started this clash, and began this war. In order to start this war, they must reexamine their Islamic books and curricula, which are full of calls for takfir and fighting the infidels.

"My colleague has said that he never offends other people's beliefs. What civilization on the face of this earth allows him to call other people by names that they did not choose for themselves? Once, he calls them Ahl Al-Dhimma; another time he calls them the 'People of the Book'; and yet another time he compares them to apes and pigs, or he calls the Christians 'those who incur Allah's wrath.' Who told you that they are 'People of the Book?' They are not the People of the Book, they are people of many books. All the useful scientific books that you have today are theirs, the fruit of their free and creative thinking. What gives you the right to call them 'those who incur Allah's wrath,' or 'those who have gone astray,' and then come here and say that your religion commands you to refrain from offending the beliefs of others?"


"I am not a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. I am a secular human being. I do not believe in the supernatural, but I respect others' right to believe in it."

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: "Are you a heretic?"

Wafa Sultan: "You can say whatever you like. I am a secular human being who does not believe in the supernatural..."

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: "If you are a heretic, there is no point in rebuking you, since you have blasphemed against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran..."

Wafa Sultan: "These are personal matters that do not concern you."


"Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don't throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you want, but other people's beliefs are not your concern, whether they believe that the Messiah is God, son of Mary, or that Satan is God, son of Mary. Let people have their beliefs."


"The Jews have come from the tragedy [of the Holocaust], and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. Fifteen million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."

July 26, 2005


Wafa Sultan: "Why does a young Muslim man, in the prime of life, with a full life ahead, go and blow himself up? How and why does he blow himself up in a bus full of innocent passengers?

"In our countries, religion is the sole source of education, and is the only spring from which that terrorist drank until his thirst was quenched. He was not born a terrorist, and did not become a terrorist overnight. Islamic teachings played a role in weaving his ideological fabric, thread by thread, and did not allow other sources - I am referring to scientific sources - to play a role. It was these teachings that distorted this terrorist and killed his humanity. It was not [the terrorist] who distorted the religious teachings and misunderstood them, as some ignorant people claim.

"When you recite to a child still in his early years the verse 'They will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off,' - regardless of this verse's interpretation, and regardless of the reasons it was conveyed or its time - you have made the first step towards creating a great terrorist..."


Bin Muhammad: "The guest from America asked how a young man could blow up a bus. If only she had asked how a president could blow up a peaceful nation in Iraq. How does a president help the arch-killer of occupied Palestine? Why doesn't she ask where Hitler was brought up - Hitler, who murdered 50 million innocent people? Why doesn't she ask where the people who dropped two atom bombs on Japan were educated? Who killed three million innocent Vietnamese? Who annihilated the Indians? Who has maintained imperialism to this day? Who waged the Spanish civil war, which exacted a toll of 600,000 in 36 months? Why don't we ask these questions? Who has over 15,000 nuclear warheads - Muslims or the non-Muslims? The Muslims or the Americans? The Muslims or the Europeans? We want an answer. Where was Bush educated - if education is really what makes a person a criminal?..."


Wafa Sultan: "Murder is terrorism regardless of time or place, but when it is committed as a decree from Allah, this is another matter..."


"The Crusader wars about which the professor is talking - these wars came after the Islamic religious teachings, and as a response to these teachings. This is the law of action and reaction. The Islamic religious teachings have incited to the rejection of the other, to the denial of the other, and to the killing of the other. Have they not incited to the killing of Jews and Christians? If we had heard that a tribe in a distant corner of China has a holy book and religious teachings calling to kill Muslims - would the Muslims stand idly by in the face of such teachings?

"The Crusader wars came after these Islamic religious teachings. When these Islamic teachings were delivered, America did not exist on the face of the earth, nor was Israel in Palestine...

"Why doesn't he talk about the Muslim conquests that preceded all the wars he is talking about? Why doesn't he mention that when Tariq bin Ziyyad entered Andalusia with his armies, he said to his people: 'The sea is behind you, and the enemy is in front?' How can you storm a peaceful country, and consider all its peaceful inhabitants to be your enemies, merely because you have the right to spread your religion? Should the religion be spread by the sword and through fighting?..."


Bin Muhammad: "Who invented slavery in recent centuries? Who colonized the other - us or them? Did Algeria colonize France, or vice versa? Did Egypt colonize England, or vice versa? We are the victims..."


"I am not saying that killing innocent people is nice. I say that all innocent people should be protected. But at the same time, we must start with the innocent among the Muslims. There are millions of innocent people among us, while the innocent among you - and innocent they are - number only dozens, hundreds, or thousands, at the most..."


Wafa Sultan: "Can you explain to me the killing of 100,000 children, women, and men in Algeria, using the most abominable killing methods? Can you explain to me the killing of 15,000 Syrian civilians? Can you explain to me the abominable crime in the military artillery school in Aleppo? Can you explain the crime in Al-Asbaqiya neighborhood of Damascus, Syria? Can you explain the attack of the terrorists on the peaceful village of Al-Kisheh in Upper Egypt, and the massacre of 21 Coptic peasants? Can you explain to me what is going on in Indonesia, Turkey, and Egypt, even though these are Islamic countries which opposed the American intervention in Iraq, and which don't have armies in Iraq, yet were not spared by the terrorists? Can you explain these phenomena, which took place in Arab countries? Was all this revenge on America or Israel? Or were they merely to satisfy bestial wild instincts aroused in them by religious teachings, which incite to rejection of the other, to the killing of the other, and to the denial of the other. When Saddam Hussein buried 300,000 Shi'ites and Kurds alive, we did not hear a single Muslim protesting. Your silence served to acknowledge the legitimacy of these killings, didn't it?..."


"What do you want from me? To speak evil of American society? I've never said that America is the eternal city of Plato, but I did say it was the eternal city of Wafa Sultan. The idealism of American society was enough to allow me to realize my humanity. I came to this country with fear."

Bin Muhammad: "Along with the Indians? Along with the Indians? What was left of the Indians? What do you have to say about the Indians?"

Wafa Sultan: "Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. America was founded in 1776, approximately 300 years later. You cannot blame America - as a constitution, a regime, and a state - for killing the Indians."


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« Reply #240 on: March 09, 2006, 05:43:57 AM »
The United States and Iran: Intelligence Wars
March 08, 2006 23 59  GMT

By Fred Burton

There has been a clear uptick in tensions between the United States and Iran recently. The most obvious aspect of this -- but the least interesting, in our view -- has been the escalation of rhetoric concerning Iran's nuclear program. Much more intriguing, from an intelligence perspective, is a series of lower-level events -- including the continuation of a spate of bombings in Khuzestan province, some creative blame-throwing by Iranian leaders over those bombings and over the recent explosion at the Golden Mosque in As Samarra, and the creation of a new Iran office at the U.S. State Department that will place special emphasis on a democratic transition in Tehran.

The public rhetoric is only one part of a much larger game that is always being played, and in which much of the action occurs in the shadows. It long has been our view that the nuclear program is not an end in itself for Iran; if Tehran really wanted to develop nuclear weapons, it would do so with utter secrecy. Rather, it is a mechanism that can be used as political leverage as Tehran pursues other goals. Like North Korea, Iran has found discussion of its nuclear program useful for cranking up or turning down tensions with West, and, in this case, for managing the way it is perceived within the Muslim world. To the extent that the matter is publicly discussed, the nuclear issue is basically a sideshow.

But Iran, like all nation-states, has other tools as well -- and its intelligence apparatus is an important one. Whether friends or enemies, states are constantly collecting intelligence against each other. Given certain geopolitical realities -- including the situation in Baghdad, where Iranian influence is strong but certainly not as strong as Tehran has dreamed it might become, and Iran's support for Hezbollah -- there is every reason to believe at this juncture that intelligence collection is being stepped up on both sides. What is intriguing about Tehran's reactions to the mosque bombing in Iraq, the attacks in Khuzestan and other events is that its statements on these events convey the mindset of the regime -- both its fears and what it sees as its options -- more clearly than the highly public and carefully orchestrated exchanges over the nuclear program.

In short, it appears the stage is being set on the tactical side for a covert intelligence war. If history serves as any guide, the implications of such a shift could be far-reaching: Following the 1979 revolution, Iran engaged in an assassination campaign that targeted Iranian dissidents around the world as well as Western and Jewish diplomats and businessmen, sometimes in retaliation for what it viewed as strikes against Iranian interests by Western intelligence agents. Certainly the rules of the game have changed significantly for the post-9/11 world, but a covert campaign, particularly of the sort that has been successful in the past, well could remain a viable option if an embattled Tehran feels the need to start pushing back at the West.

A History of Covert Campaigns

Western intelligence agencies first became aware of Tehran's covert campaign against its enemies soon after the revolution. The first targets were Iranian monarchists in exile, who were trying to foment a counterrevolution in Iran. Later, after many of these opponents had been eliminated and the threat brought under control, the Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS) shifted its sights to target exiled dissidents and other opponents of the regime. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, influential leaders of these groups were targeted and assassinated in a sophisticated campaign that spanned the globe.

It is interesting to note the tactics that were used in these strikes. Although Hezbollah pioneered the use of suicide bombings during the 1980s, and certainly was acting for Iran's interests at that time, there was a very different signature to MOIS assassinations. These frequently employed stealth and deception to get the assassins within close range of their targets -- close enough to kill them with pistols or knives, often in the target's home. Though many Iranian agents were caught in time, most escaped serious consequences. Meanwhile, dozens of the ayatollahs' political opponents were killed or injured in France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and other places.

Iranian agents also engaged in more overt attacks, including kidnappings, highly public shootings and grenade attacks in public places, and bombings. Hezbollah was quite active on this front; notable actions included the abductions of CIA station chief William F. Buckley in 1984 and U.S. Marine Lt. Col. William R. Higgins in 1988 (both men died in captivity) and the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That strike was in retaliation for the death of a Hezbollah leader, Abbas Musawi, who was killed by Israeli forces in an ambush.

Another significant action, never publicly linked to the Iranians, was a well-planned strike in 1995 against U.S. consulate employees in Karachi, Pakistan. A van shuttling the employees to the consulate was ambushed and blockaded by three vehicles: a "blocking car" that cut the van off in traffic, another that boxed it in from behind, and a command-and-control vehicle from which observers never emerged. Gunmen from the first two cars slowly and methodically paced the sides of the consulate van, taking careful aim at the passengers before opening fire with their assault rifles. Two consulate employees were killed, and a third was wounded. It is believed that the MOIS staged the Karachi attack in response to the killing of an Iranian agent, for which the United States was blamed.

Covert campaigns of this sort are an important tool for a country like Iran, which has a sophisticated and highly disciplined intelligence service but which could not afford to risk an overwhelming military strike by the United States. Kidnappings and assassinations, carried out with sufficient deniability, have proved an effective way of eliminating enemies and leveraging the country's geopolitical position without incurring unacceptable risk.

Intelligence Tactics

This history of operations has had significant implications for intelligence missions on both sides of the fence.

For the United States, intelligence efforts would include maintaining databases on every known Iranian diplomat around the world, seeking to identify which ones are also MOIS agents. These files would be continually updated with information about the officials' personal lives, travel patterns and meeting partners. The nuclear program and potential links between Iran and militant groups in other countries also would be areas of focus. The United States could expect assistance with collections from Israel's Mossad, which has always had a robust collection operation on Iran, and from friendly Arab services such as the Jordanians and Egyptians.

Technical means of collection also would be brought to bear: satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles and communication intercepts. All U.S. national assets, including signals intelligence (sigint), imagery intelligence (imint) and human intelligence sources (humint), would be used to correlate information flowing in, in order to form as complete a picture as possible of what the Iranians are doing and what they are likely to do next.

Given its connections to militant groups like Hezbollah, Iran has shaped its collection efforts in the past toward gathering information on potential targets and planning possible retaliatory attacks. In today's setting, collections likely would be conducted by MOIS as well as by Hezbollah agents and Iranian proxies active in Iraq. If strikes were to be carried out, they likely would consist of easily deniable one-off hits and possibly attacks against the assets of governments allied with Washington or American proxies in the region. Strikes against U.S. and British troops in Iraq also would be a possibility. Target selection would be tied to what types of attacks would send the most appropriate signal to the West. It would be imperative that Iran's involvement in the action was not immediately obvious, but could be revealed to or discovered by Western intelligence after the fact.

The Game Today

All of which brings us back to recent developments and what it is that Iran seems to be thinking.

First, there was the Feb. 22 bombing of the Golden Mosque in As Samarra, a highly significant Shiite shrine. One of the interesting things about the attack was that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei very quickly, and very publicly, blamed the United States and Israel for the bombing, while urging Iraqi Shia not to retaliate against their Sunni countrymen. The statement was attention-getting, considering the degree to which the United States and Iran were cooperating on Iraqi matters prior to the Iraqi elections in December 2005. Khamenei clearly was reiterating to Washington something that has been said before: Iran, with its influence over the Shiite majority, has the means to create considerable problems for the United States in Iraq if that should become necessary. The fact that others have said this as well -- notably senior diplomat and former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani -- signals the level of unease that Tehran has in its dealings with Washington.

Iran also has continued to blame "foreigners" for a continuing string of bombings in Khuzestan province, in the oil-producing southwestern region just across the Shatt al Arab from Iraq. The attacks began last summer, around the time of Iran's presidential elections, and ethnic Arab separatists -- the majority group in the province -- have claimed responsibility for some of the bombings. Given Khuzestan's economic significance to Iran, Tehran is particularly sensitive to any instability there. And at least partly because of Khuzestan's proximity to the part of Iraq occupied by British forces, Tehran suspects that dissidents in the province are receiving covert support from MI6 -- which, from an intelligence perspective, is virtually synonymous with the CIA.

In recent weeks, Tehran has shown itself capable of some truly spectacular contortions in its claims about the activities of Western intelligence units. Among other statements, Iran's interior minister recently claimed that Tehran had "specific intelligence" proving that U.S. agents have infiltrated al Qaeda and now are ordering terrorist attacks as part of their attempts to prove their bona fides. During the same speech, the minister -- Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, who had a long career with Iran's secret police and intelligence agencies -- said that large amounts of explosives found in one of Khuzestan's cities indicated that "there was an extensive plan to deal a blow to the Islamic Republic." Though he did not supply details, the statement itself would seem to indicate that Tehran fears -- or wants to generate fears of -- an escalation in what has been a relatively low-level bombing campaign up to this point.

Iranian media also have carried several claims during the past year that Western agents have been caught spying inside Iran, that U.S. reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles and manned aircraft have overflown its airspace, and even that the British have erected towers on the Fao Peninsula to collect sigint from Khuzestan province.

The claims, or at least the fears behind them, are not illogical. Certainly, Tehran is not deriving any comfort from the fact that the U.S. State Department is now creating an Office of Iran Affairs and publicly has stated that one of its purposes will be to promote a democratic transition in Tehran. Up to this point, the State Department has treated Iran as part of a larger bloc of Persian Gulf states; there are only a small number -- less than a dozen -- countries that have their own regional "office" in this sense. The move reflects the importance the Bush administration is placing on Iran as a long-term priority. Or, from Tehran's viewpoint, Washington is stepping up the pressure as well.

With this in mind, it is noteworthy that there have been reports of more executions in Iran of late. According to Amnesty International, Tehran carried out 29 executions in January and February -- nearly one-third of the total (94) in the entirety of 2005. By itself, of course, this statistic means little; Amnesty's reporting could be wrong, or the rate of executions might drop off later in the year, and so forth. And, of course, executions in Iran can be carried out for a wide variety of crimes, and the number of political dissidents among the total is not known.

Nonetheless, this is an indicator worth monitoring. As history has shown, political dissidents are among the first to be targeted when the Iranian regime feels threatened. That is no accident, as it is members of dissident groups who are most likely in Tehran's eyes to be working with foreign intelligence agents seeking to destabilize the regime.

Should Iran's true level of tensions with the West continue to escalate, it is possible that Tehran might return to tactics it has used successfully in the past to safeguard its interests. The movement, then, would not come in the public sphere of nuclear discussions and rhetoric, but in other, much quieter ways around the globe.


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« Reply #241 on: March 17, 2006, 05:10:50 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: The Beginning of the End Game

It appears that the United States and Iran are now going to begin public talks on Iraq. The Iranian News Agency reported Thursday that Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told a closed session of the Majlis that Iran had agreed to a request by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq to negotiate with Washington on Iraq. Also on Thursday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the United States is open to holding talks with Iran about Iraq. He emphasized that such talks must be confined to Iraq and not involve nuclear issues.

Barring one tremendous coincidence, the near-simultaneous announcements from Washington and Tehran clearly mean that there have been prior consultations. We long have felt that such back-channel conversations were under way. Indeed, it would be incredible if they weren't. The United States and Iran both have deep interests in Iraq, some of which coincide and some of which collide. The two countries have a history of secret diplomacy dating back to the birth of the Islamic Republic. Clearly, they have been talking and now have decided to make the talks public.

The White House emphasized that nuclear weapons would not be discussed, making it appear that it was Washington that was taking this off the table. The nuclear issue, however, is off the table because it is not the point. Iraq is and always was the key issue between the United States and Iran; nuclear weapons have been an Iranian lever to get Washington to take it more seriously. That has clearly happened.

If there is ever going to be an end game in Iraq, we are now in it. Operation Swarmer, launched Thursday, seemed designed to attack jihadists in the Sunni regions. The key to the U.S.-Sunni conversation has been getting the Sunnis into the political process and, as a result, getting the Sunnis to help liquidate the jihadists. If Swarmer was launched on the basis of Sunni intelligence, and if that intelligence turns out to be accurate, it will be a key event in recent Iraqi history. Those are big "ifs," of course. At the same time, if the Sunnis are joining the political process, then it is time for Iran to negotiate its final price on Iraq, and that appears now to be happening. Taken together, this is not the end, but the beginning of the end game, and success is not guaranteed.

The Iranians want a pro-Tehran government in Iraq. If the Sunnis are in the mix, that is not going to happen. The fallback, and essential position of Iran, is that Iraq should be completely neutral. This will hinge not only on the shape of the Baghdad government, but on certain guarantees concerning the size and armament of the Iraqi military. The last thing Tehran wants is the resurrection of a massive Iraqi military force that could threaten Iran, under a government in which Shiite domination is not permanently guaranteed.

The United States wants to build an Iraqi army to fight the jihadists. That's fine with the Iranians, but in their view that military force must be calibrated so that it is sufficient for internal missions and insufficient to threaten Iran. Whatever the structure of Iraq's new government, no on can guarantee its future. But there can be controls over the types of equipment the Iraqis can acquire. So the United States will want enough for counterinsurgency operations and will happily accept limitations on the military's size so that it cannot threaten Iran.

On the other hand, the United States -- prodded by Saudi Arabia -- does want the force to be large enough to limit Iran's ability to invade and dominate Iraq. Washington wants the balance of power in the region to re-establish itself. At the same time, the United States wants to make certain that the Iraqi government is not simply and unilaterally in the hands of the Shia, and that Sunni and Kurdish interests are protected.

If those things are achieved, then the nuclear issue will be mooted on both sides. But what is easy to write is more difficult to negotiate. Can and will the Sunnis turn on the jihadists? Can there be agreement on the size of the Iraqi military that will satisfy both Iranian concerns and America needs? How can these agreements be enforced over the long haul? Will the Iranians see President George W. Bush's political weakness as too great for credibility? Will the Americans trust that the Iranian negotiators are not setting them up? Endless questions arise.

Whether agreement can be reached is not clear. Only the basic issue is now clear. Nuclear weapons, democracy in Iraq and all the other peripheral issues will now take a backseat to the core issue: The future of Iraq being negotiated by Washington and Tehran, with the Iraqi parties arraying themselves around these discussions.


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« Reply #242 on: March 21, 2006, 09:36:51 AM »
The Stone Face of Zarqawi
Iraq is no "distraction" from al Qaeda.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 12:01 a.m.

In February 2004, our Kurdish comrades in northern Iraq intercepted a courier who was bearing a long message from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to his religious guru Osama bin Laden. The letter contained a deranged analysis of the motives of the coalition intervention ("to create the State of Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates" and "accelerate the emergence of the Messiah"), but also a lethally ingenious scheme to combat it. After a lengthy and hate-filled diatribe against what he considers the vile heresy of Shiism, Zarqawi wrote of Iraq's largest confessional group that: "These in our opinion are the key to change. I mean that targeting and hitting them in their religious, political and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies . . . and bare the teeth of the hidden rancor working in their breasts. If we succeed in dragging them into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis as they feel imminent danger."

Some of us wrote about this at the time, to warn of the sheer evil that was about to be unleashed. Knowing that their own position was a tenuous one (a fact fully admitted by Zarqawi in his report) the cadres of "al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" understood that their main chance was the deliberate stoking of a civil war. And, now that this threat has become more imminent and menacing, it is somehow blamed on the Bush administration. "Civil war" has replaced "the insurgency" as the proof that the war is "unwinnable." But in plain truth, the "civil war" is and always was the chief tactic of the "insurgency."

Since February 2004, there have been numberless attacks on Shiite religious processions and precincts. Somewhat more insulting to Islam (one might think) than a caricature in Copenhagen, these desecrations did not immediately produce the desired effect. Grand Ayatollah Sistani even stated that, if he himself fell victim, he forgave his murderers in advance and forbade retaliation in his name. This extraordinary forbearance meant that many Shiites--and Sunnis, too--refused to play Zarqawi's game. But the grim fact is, as we know from Cyprus and Bosnia and Lebanon and India, that a handful of determined psychopaths can erode in a year the sort of intercommunal fraternity that has taken centuries to evolve. If you keep pressing on the nerve of tribalism and sectarianism, you will eventually get a response. And then came the near-incredible barbarism in Samarra, and the laying waste of the golden dome.

It is not merely civil strife that is partly innate in the very make-up of Iraq. There could be an even worse war, of the sort that Thomas Hobbes pictured: a "war of all against all" in which localized gangs and mafias would become rulers of their own stretch of turf. This is what happened in Lebanon after the American withdrawal: The distinctions between Maronite and Druze and Palestinian and Shiite became blurred by a descent into minor warlordism. In Iraq, things are even more fissile. Even the "insurgents" are fighting among themselves, with local elements taking aim at imported riffraff and vice-versa. Saddam's vicious tactic, of emptying the jails on the eve of the intervention and freeing his natural constituency of thugs and bandits and rapists, was exactly designed to exacerbate an already unstable situation and make the implicit case for one-man "law and order." There is strong disagreement among and between the Shiites and the Sunnis, and between them and the Kurds, only the latter having taken steps to resolve their own internal party and regional quarrels.
America's mistake in Lebanon was first to intervene in a way that placed us on one minority side--that of the Maronites and their Israeli patrons--and then to scuttle and give Hobbes his mandate for the next 10 years. At least it can be said for the present mission in Iraq that it proposes the only alternative to civil war, dictatorship, partition or some toxic combination of all three. Absent federal democracy and power-sharing, there will not just be anarchy and fragmentation and thus a moral victory for jihadism, but opportunist interventions from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (That vortex, by the way, is what was waiting to engulf Iraq if the coalition had not intervened, and would have necessitated an intervention later but under even worse conditions.) There are signs that many Iraqi factions do appreciate the danger of this, even if some of them have come to the realization somewhat late. The willingness of the Kurdish leadership in particular, to sacrifice for a country that was gassing its people until quite recently, is beyond praise.

Everybody now has their own scenario for the war that should have been fought three years ago. The important revelations in "Cobra II," by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor, about the underestimated reserve strength of the Fedayeen Saddam, give us an excellent picture of what the successor regime to the Baath Party was shaping up to be: an Islamized para-state militia ruling by means of vicious divide-and-rule as between the country's peoples. No responsible American government could possibly have allowed such a contingency to become more likely. We would then have had to intervene in a ruined rogue jihadist-hosting state that was already in a Beirut-like nightmare.

I could not help noticing, when the secret prisons of the Shiite-run "Interior Ministry" were exposed a few weeks ago, that all those wishing to complain ran straight to the nearest American base, from which help was available. For the moment, the coalition forces act as the militia for the majority of Iraqis--the inked-fingered Iraqis--who have no militia of their own. Honorable as this role may be, it is not enough in the long run. In Iraq we have made some good friends and some very, very bad enemies. (How can anyone, looking down the gun-barrel into the stone face of Zarqawi, say that fighting him is a "distraction" from fighting al Qaeda?) Over the medium term, if our apparent domestic demoralization continues, the options could come down to two. First, we might use our latent power and threaten to withdraw, implicitly asking Iraqis and their neighbors if that is really what they want, and concentrating their minds. This still runs the risk of allowing the diseased spokesmen of al Qaeda to claim victory. Second, we can demand to know, of the wider international community, if it could afford to view an imploded Iraq as a spectator. Three years ago, the smug answer to that, from most U.N. members, was "yes." This is not an irresponsibility that we can afford, either morally or practically, and even if our intervention was much too little and way too late, it has kindled in many Arab and Kurdish minds an idea of a different future. There is a war within the war, as there always is when a serious struggle is under way, but justice and necessity still combine to say that the task cannot be given up.
Mr. Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair, is the author of "A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq" (Penguin, 2003).


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« Reply #243 on: March 21, 2006, 06:25:08 PM »
Second post of the day:

Appalling?But Not Hopeless
You see lots of rough politics and jockeying for power in Baghdad. But when facing the abyss, you also see glimpses of leadership.
By Fareed Zakaria

Three years ago this week, I watched the invasion of Iraq apprehensively. I had supported military intervention to rid the country of Saddam's tyranny, but I had also been appalled by the crude and unilateral manner in which the Bush administration handled the issue. In the first weeks after the invasion, I was very critical of several of the administration's decisions?crucially, invading with a light force and dismantling the governing structures of Iraq (including the bureaucracy and Army). My criticisms grew over the first 18 months of the invasion, a period that offered a truly depressing display of American weakness and incompetence. And yet, for all my misgivings about the way the administration has handled this policy, I've never been able to join the antiwar crowd. Nor am I convinced that Iraq is a hopeless cause that should be abandoned.

Let's remember that in 2002 and early 2003, U.S. policy toward Iraq was collapsing. The sanctions regime was becoming completely ineffective against Saddam?he had gotten quite good at cheating and smuggling?and it was simultaneously impoverishing the Iraqi people. Regular reconnaissance and bombing missions over Iraq were done through no-flight zones, which required a large U.S. and British presence in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. These circumstances were fueling a poisonous anti-Americanism throughout the Muslim world.

In his fatwa of 1998, Osama bin Laden's first two charges against the United States were that it was "occupying" Saudi Arabia and starving Iraqi women and children. The Palestinian cause was a distant third. Meanwhile Saddam had a 30-year history of attempting to build nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The other reality by 2003 was that the United States and the international community had developed a reasonably effective process for military interventions like Iraq. The RAND Corporation released a thorough study just before the invasion pointing out that the central lesson of the 1990s was that if you went in with few troops (Haiti, Somalia), chaos prevailed, but if you went in with robust forces (Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor), it was possible to succeed.

Consider what the administration itself did in Afghanistan. It allied with local forces on the ground so that order would be maintained. It upheld the traditional structure of power and governance in the country?that is, it accepted the reality of the warlords?while working very slowly and quietly to weaken them. To deflect anti-Americanism, the military turned over the political process to the United Nations right after Kabul fell. (Most people forget that it was the U.N. that created the assembly that picked Hamid Karzai as president.) The United States gave NATO and the European Union starring roles in the country?and real power?which led them to accept real burden-sharing. The European Union actually spends more in Afghanistan than the United States does.

But Iraq turned out to be a playground for all kinds of ideological theories that the Bush administration had about the Middle East, democracy, the United Nations and the Clinton administration. It also became a playground for a series of all-consuming turf wars and policy battles between various departments and policymakers in the administration. A good part of the chaos and confusion in Washington has abated, but the chaos in Iraq has proved much harder to reverse. It is much easier to undo a longstanding social and political order than it is to put it back together again.

So why have I not given up hope? Partly it's because I have been to Iraq, met the people who are engaged in the struggle to build their country and cannot bring myself to abandon them. Iraq has no Nelson Mandelas, but many of its leaders have shown remarkable patience, courage and statesmanship. Consider the wisdom and authority of Ayatollah Sistani, or the fair-minded and effective role of the Kurds, or the persistent pleas for secularism and tolerance from men like Ayad Allawi. You see lots of rough politics and jockeying for power in Baghdad. But when the stakes get high, when the violence escalates, when facing the abyss, you also see glimpses of leadership.

There is no doubt today that the costs of the invasion have far outweighed the benefits. But in the long view of history, will that always be true? If, after all this chaos, a new and different kind of Iraqi politics emerges, it will make a difference in the region. Even now, amid the violence, one can see that. The old order in Iraq was built on fear and terror. One group dominated the land, oppressing the others. Now representatives of all three communities?Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds?are sitting down at the table, trying to construct a workable bargain they can all live with.

These sectarian power struggles can get extremely messy, and violent parties have taken advantage of every crack and cleavage. But this might be inevitable in a country coming to terms with very real divisions and disagreements. Iraq might be stumbling toward nation-building by consent, not brutality. And that is a model for the Middle East.


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« Reply #244 on: March 24, 2006, 08:15:08 PM »
Putting Cards on the Table in Iraq
By George Friedman

The clouds couldn't have been darker last week. Everyone was talking about civil war in Iraq. Smart and informed people were talking about the real possibility of an American airstrike against Iran's nuclear capabilities. The Iranians were hurling defiance in every direction on the compass. U.S. President George W. Bush seemed to be politically on the ropes, unable to control his own party. And then seemingly out of nowhere, the Iranians offered to hold talks with the Americans on Iraq, and only Iraq. With the kind of lightning speed not seen from the White House for a while, the United States accepted. Suddenly, the two countries with the greatest stake in Iraq -- and the deepest hostility toward each other -- had agreed publicly to negotiate on Iraq.

To understand this development, we must understand that Iran and the United States have been holding quiet, secret, back-channel and off-the-record discussions for years -- but the discussions were no less important for all of that. The Iran-Contra affair, for example, could not have taken place had the Reagan administration not been talking to the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini's representatives. There is nothing new about Americans and Iranians talking; they have been doing it for years. Each side, for their own domestic reasons, has tried to hide the talks from public view, even when they were quite public, such as the Geneva discussions over Afghanistan prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

What is dramatically new is the public nature of these talks now, and the subject matter: Iraq.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the real players in Iraq are now going to sit down and see if they can reach some decisions about the country's future. They are going to do this over the heads of their various clients. Obviously, the needs of those clients will have to be satisfied, but in the end, the Iraq war is at least partly about U.S.-Iranian relations, and it is clear that both sides have now decided that it is time to explore a deal -- not in a quiet Georgetown restaurant, but in full view of the world. In other words, it is time to get serious.

The offer of public talks actually was not made by Iran. The first public proposal for talks came from U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, who several months ago reported that he had been authorized by Bush to open two lines of discussion: One was with the non-jihadist Sunni leadership in Iraq; the other was with Iran. Interestingly, Khalilzad had emphasized that he was authorized to speak with the Iranians only about Iraq and not about other subjects. In other words, discussion of Iran's nuclear program was not going to take place. What happened last week was that the Iranians finally gave Khalilzad an answer: yes.

Iran's Slow Play

As we have discussed many times, Iraq has been Iran's obsession. It is an obsession rooted in ancient history; the Bible speaks of the struggle between Babylon and Persia for regional hegemony. It has some of its roots in more recent history as well: Iran lost about 300,000 people, with about 1 million more wounded and captured, in its 1980-88 war with Iraq. That would be the equivalent of more than 1 million dead Americans and an additional 4 million wounded and captured. It is a staggering number. Nothing can be understood about Iran until the impact of this war is understood. The Iranians, then, came out of the war with two things: an utter hatred of Saddam Hussein and his regime, and determination that this sort of devastation should never happen again.

After the United States decided, in Desert Storm, not to move on to Baghdad and overthrow the Hussein regime -- and after the catastrophic failure of the Shiite rising in southern Iraq -- the Iranians established a program of covert operations that was designed to increase their control of the Shiite population in the south. The Iranians were unable to wage war against Hussein but were content, after Desert Storm, that he could not attack Iran. So they focused on increasing their influence in the south and bided their time. They could not take out Hussein, but they still wanted someone to do so. That someone was the Americans.

Iran responded to the 9/11 attacks in a predictable manner. First, Iran was as concerned by al Qaeda as the United States was. The Iranians saw themselves as the vanguard of revolutionary Islam, and they did not want to see their place usurped by Wahhabis, whom they viewed as the tool of another regional rival, Saudi Arabia. Thus, Tehran immediately offered U.S. forces the right to land, at Iranian airbases, aircraft that were damaged during operations in Afghanistan. Far more important, the Iranians used their substantial influence in western and northern Afghanistan to secure allies for the United States. They wanted the Taliban gone. This is not to say that some al Qaeda operatives, having paid or otherwise induced regional Iranian commanders, didn't receive some sanctuary in Iran; the Iranians would have given sanctuary to Osama bin Laden if that would have neutralized him. But Tehran's policy was to oppose al Qaeda and the Taliban, and to quietly support the United States in its war against them. This was no stranger, really, than the Americans giving anti-tank missiles to Khomeini in the 1980s.

But the main chance that Iran saw was getting the Americans to invade Iraq and depose their true enemy, Saddam Hussein. The United States was not led to invade Iraq by the Iranians -- that would be too simple a model. However, the Iranians, with their excellent intelligence network in Iraq, helped to smooth the way for the American decision. Apart from providing useful tactical information, the Iranians led the Americans to believe three things:

1. That Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction programs.

2. That the Iraqis would not resist U.S. operations and would greet the Americans as liberators.

3. By omission, that there would be no post-war resistance in Iraq.

Again, this was not decisive, but it formed an important part of the analytical framework through which the Americans viewed Iraq.

The Iranians wanted the United States to defeat Hussein. They wanted the United States to bear the burden of pacifying the Sunni regions of Iraq. They wanted U.S. forces to bog down in Iraq so that, in due course, the Americans would withdraw -- but only after the Sunnis were broken -- leaving behind a Shiite government that would be heavily influenced by Iran. The Iranians did everything they could to encourage the initial engagement and then stood by as the United States fought the Sunnis. They were getting what they wanted.

Counterplays and Timing

What they did not count on was American flexibility. From the first battle of Al Fallujah onward, the United States engaged in negotiations with the Sunni leadership. The United States had two goals: one, to use the Sunni presence in a new Iraqi government to block Iranian ambitions; and two, to split the Sunnis from the jihadists. It was the very success of this strategy, evident in the December 2005 elections, that caused Iraqi Shia to move away from the Iranians a bit, and, more important, caused the jihadists to launch an anti-Shiite rampage. The jihadists' goal was to force a civil war in Iraq and drive the Sunnis back into an unbreakable alliance with them.

In other words, the war was not going in favor of either the United States or Iran. The Americans were bogged down in a war that could not be won with available manpower, if by "victory" we mean breaking the Sunni-jihadist will to resist. The Iranians envisioned the re-emergence of their former Baathist enemies. Not altogether certain of the political commitments or even the political savvy of their Shiite allies in Iraq, they could now picture their worst nightmare: a coalition government in which the Sunnis, maneuvering with the Kurds and Americans, would dominate an Iraqi government. They saw Tehran's own years of maneuvering as being in jeopardy. Neither side could any longer be certain of the outcome.

In response, each side attempted, first, to rattle the other. Iran's nuclear maneuver was designed to render the Americans more forthcoming; the assumption was that a nuclear Iran would be more frightening, from the American point of view, than a Shiite Iraq. The Americans held off responding and then, a few weeks ago, began letting it be known that not only were airstrikes against Iran possible, but that in fact they were being seriously considered and that deadlines were being drawn up.

This wasn't about nuclear weapons but about Iraq, as both sides made clear when the talks were announced. Both players now have all their cards on the table. Iran bluffed nukes, the United States called the bluff and seemed about to raise. Khalilzad's request for talks was still on the table. The Iranians took it. This was not really done in order to forestall airstrikes -- the Iranians were worried about that only on the margins. What Iran had was a deep concern and an interesting opportunity.

The concern was that the situation in Iraq was spinning out of its control. The United States was no longer predictable, the Sunnis were no longer predictable, and even the Iranians' Shiite allies were not playing their proper role. The Iranians were playing for huge stakes in Iraq and there were suddenly too many moving pieces, too many things that could go wrong.

The Iranians also saw an opportunity. Bush's political position in the United States had deteriorated dramatically. As it deteriorated, his room for maneuver declined. The British had made it clear that they were planning to leave Iraq. Bush had really not been isolated before, as his critics always charged, but now he was becoming isolated -- domestically as well as internationally. Bush needed badly to break out of the political bind he was in. The administration had resisted pressure to withdraw troops under a timetable, but it no longer was clear whether Congress would permit Bush to continue to resist. The president did not want his hands tied by Congress, but it seemed to the Iranians that was exactly what was happening.

From the Iranian point of view, if ever a man has needed a deal, it is Bush. If there are going to be any negotiations, they are to happen now. From Bush's point of view, he does need a deal, but so do the Iranians -- things are ratcheting out of control from Tehran's point of view as well. For domestic Iraqi players, the room to maneuver is increasing, while the room to maneuver for foreign players is decreasing. In other words, the United States and Iran have, for the moment, the unified interest of managing Iraq, rather than seeing a civil war or a purely domestic solution.

The Next Phase of the Game

The Iranians want at least to Finlandize Iraq. During the Cold War, the Soviets did not turn Finland into a satellite, but they did have the right to veto members of its government, to influence the size and composition of its military and to require a neutral foreign policy. The Iranians wanted more, but they will settle for keeping the worst of the Baathists out of the government and for controls over Iraq's international behavior. The Americans want a coalition government within the limits of a Finlandic solution. They do not want a purely Shiite government; they want the Sunnis to deal with the jihadists, in return for guaranteed Sunni rights in Iraq. Finally, the United States wants the right to place a force in Iraq -- aircraft and perhaps 40,000 troops -- outside the urban areas, in the west. The Iranians do not really want U.S. troops so close, so they will probably argue about the number and the type. They do not want to see heavy armored units but can live with lighter units stationed to the west.

Now obviously, in this negotiation, each side will express distrust and indifference. The White House won the raise by expressing doubts as to Tehran's seriousness; the implication was that the Iranians were buying time to work on their nukes. Perhaps. But the fact is that Tehran will work on nukes as and when it wants, and Washington will destroy the nukes as and when it wants. The nukes are non-issues in the real negotiations.

There are three problems now with negotiations. One is Bush's ability to keep his coalition intact while he negotiates with a member of the "axis of evil." Another is Iran's ability to keep its coalition together while it negotiates with the "Great Satan." And third is the ability of either to impose their collective will on an increasingly self-reliant Iraqi polity. The two major powers are now ready to talk. What is not clear is whether, even together, they will be in a position to impose their will on the Iraqis. The coalitions will probably hold, and the Iraqis will probably submit. But those are three "probablies." Not good.

All wars end in negotiations. Clearly, the United States and Iran have been talking quietly for a long time. They now have decided it is time to make their talks public. That decision by itself indicates how seriously they both take these conversations now.



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« Reply #245 on: March 24, 2006, 09:47:32 PM »
Wow. Thanks for posting, Crafty.


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« Reply #246 on: March 25, 2006, 07:15:01 AM »
Woof All

Stratfor continuously blows me away with the level of its analysis and intel.  I'm really glad that my price for my premium subscription is grandfathered, but even at the current price I would pay it (Shhh! Don't tell them!)  An awesome product which I recommend in the highest terms possible.

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« Reply #247 on: April 10, 2006, 05:41:25 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Exploiting Sectarian Fault Lines

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said over the weekend that civil war "has almost started" in Iraq and warned against a U.S. withdrawal. During an hour-long interview with Al Arabiyah television, he also said that most of the Shia in the Middle East "are loyal to Iran, and not to the countries they are living in" -- a statement that drew angry reactions from Shia leaders throughout the region on Sunday.

In Iraq, the three highest-ranking Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni leaders -- President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and Parliament Speaker Adnan Pachachi -- issued a joint statement saying Mubarak had taken "a stab" at Shiite Iraqis' "patriotism and civilization."

In Kuwait, Shiite members of parliament demanded an apology from Mubarak, with Hassan Jowhar saying, "We are not begging for certificates of loyalty to our countries from Mubarak or others." In Lebanon, senior Hezbollah leader Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek labeled Mubarak's comments as "dangerous" lies that betray "fanaticism and sectarianism." He also insisted that the Shia in Lebanon are agents of no one -- saying they are loyal to their country but also support Tehran and Damascus.

The mildest of all the reactions came from Iran itself, where Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi acknowledged that Iran wields immense influence in Iraq, but said it is "spiritual" in nature and that Tehran uses this influence in efforts to bring stability to the country.

Assuming, for the moment, that Mubarak hopes to keep the Sunni-Shiite tensions now riddling Iraq from spreading to other parts of the Middle East, it would appear that his words had rather the opposite of the intended effect.

Correctly or otherwise, Egypt and other Sunni Arab states have adopted the view that the public talks between the United States and Iran, concerning Iraq, are a sign that the Sunnis of Iraq no longer will be enough to contain Iran's influence. Instead, they are bracing for the implications of an "American-Iranian deal." The Associated Press recently reported that the intelligence chiefs of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey held a series of secret meetings last month in order to prepare for the outbreak of civil war in Iraq.

Of course, these concerns are not new. King Abdullah of Jordan warned in January 2005 about the emergence of a Shiite crescent in the Middle East. Eight months later, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said U.S. policy had thrown Iraq to the Iranians. And it is no secret that the Persian Gulf emirates see the rise of Iranian power -- absent the counterbalance that was provided by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq -- as a major security threat. The bulwark that Baghdad once provided against Iranian expansionism is no more.

Moreover, there is no single Arab state that is as strong as Iran -- and quarrels between these states are too numerous to permit one to emerge.

It is difficult to accuse the Arab states of irrational fear. Iran has stated its objectives quite clearly. Last week, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, commander of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said during war games Iran staged in the Persian Gulf that the United States should accept Tehran as the regional hegemon.

Since the fall of the Hussein regime until quite recently, the Arab states had hoped that Iraq's Sunnis, sufficiently plugged into the political process in Baghdad, would be useful in checking Iran's hegemonic ambitions. It now appears, however, that continued instability in Iraq -- civil war -- is the Arab states' best hope.

This is a risky proposition. Instability in Iraq gives jihadist groups like al Qaeda an opportunity to find shelter and grow, which in itself endangers the security of these states. But given a choice between Iran becoming the regional power center and facing down threats posed by Islamist militants, the Arab states would view al Qaeda as the lesser of the two evils.


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Hitchens on Yellowcake
« Reply #248 on: April 10, 2006, 06:25:52 PM »
Wowie Zahawie
Sorry everyone, but Iraq did go uranium shopping in Niger.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, April 10, 2006, at 4:43 PM ET

In the late 1980s, the Iraqi representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency?Iraq's senior public envoy for nuclear matters, in effect?was a man named Wissam al-Zahawie. After the Kuwait war in 1991, when Rolf Ekeus arrived in Baghdad to begin the inspection and disarmament work of UNSCOM, he was greeted by Zahawie, who told him in a bitter manner that "now that you have come to take away our assets," the two men could no longer be friends. (They had known each other in earlier incarnations at the United Nations in New York.)

At a later 1995 U.N. special session on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Zahawie was the Iraqi delegate and spoke heatedly about the urgent need to counterbalance Israel's nuclear capacity. At the time, most democratic countries did not have full diplomatic relations with Saddam's regime, and there were few fully accredited Iraqi ambassadors overseas, Iraq's interests often being represented by the genocidal Islamist government of Sudan (incidentally, yet another example of collusion between "secular" Baathists and the fundamentalists who were sheltering Osama Bin Laden). There was one exception?an Iraqi "window" into the world of open diplomacy?namely the mutual recognition between the Baathist regime and the Vatican. To this very important and sensitive post in Rome, Zahawie was appointed in 1997, holding the job of Saddam's ambassador to the Holy See until 2000. Those who knew him at that time remember a man much given to anti-Jewish tirades, with a standing ticket for Wagner performances at Bayreuth. (Actually, as a fan of Das Rheingold and G?tterd?mmerung in particular, I find I can live with this. Hitler secretly preferred sickly kitsch like Franz Lehar.)

In February 1999, Zahawie left his Vatican office for a few days and paid an official visit to Niger, a country known for absolutely nothing except its vast deposits of uranium ore. It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report. In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein's long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious. Italian intelligence (which first noticed the Zahawie trip from Rome) found it difficult to take this view and alerted French intelligence (which has better contacts in West Africa and a stronger interest in nuclear questions). In due time, the French tipped off the British, who in their cousinly way conveyed the suggestive information to Washington. As everyone now knows, the disclosure appeared in watered-down and secondhand form in the president's State of the Union address in January 2003.

If the above was all that was known, it would surely be universally agreed that no responsible American administration could have overlooked such an amazingly sinister pattern. Given the past Iraqi record of surreptitious dealing, cheating of inspectors, concealment of sites and caches, and declared ambition to equip the technicians referred to openly in the Baathist press as "nuclear mujahideen," one could scarcely operate on the presumption of innocence.

However, the waters have since become muddied, to say the least. For a start, someone produced a fake document, dated July 6, 2000, which purports to show Zahawie's signature and diplomatic seal on an actual agreement for an Iraqi uranium transaction with Niger. Almost everything was wrong with this crude forgery?it had important dates scrambled, and it misstated the offices of Niger politicians. In consequence, IAEA Chairman Mohammed ElBaradei later reported to the U.N. Security Council that the papers alleging an Iraq-Niger uranium connection had been demonstrated to be fraudulent.

But this doesn't alter the plain set of established facts in my first three paragraphs above. The European intelligence services, and the Bush administration, only ever asserted that the Iraqi regime had apparently tried to open (or rather, reopen) a yellowcake trade "in Africa." It has never been claimed that an agreement was actually reached. What motive could there be for a forgery that could be instantly detected upon cursory examination?

There seem to be only three possibilities here. Either a) American intelligence concocted the note; b) someone in Italy did so in the hope of gain; or c) it was the product of disinformation, intended to protect Niger and discredit any attention paid to the actual, real-time Zahawie visit. The CIA is certainly incompetent enough to have fouled up this badly. (I like Edward Luttwak's formulation in the March 22 Times Literary Supplement, where he writes that "there have been only two kinds of CIA secret operations: the ones that are widely known to have failed?usually because of almost unbelievably crude errors?and the ones that are not yet widely known to have failed.") Still, it almost passes belief that any American agency would fake a document that purportedly proved far more than the administration had asked and then get every important name and date wrapped round the axle. Forgery for gain is easy to understand, especially when it is borne in mind that nobody wastes time counterfeiting a bankrupt currency. Forgery for disinformation, if that is what it was, appears at least to have worked. Almost everybody in the world now affects to believe that Saddam Hussein was framed on the Niger rap.

According to the London Sunday Times of April 9, the truth appears to be some combination of b) and c). A NATO investigation has identified two named employees of the Niger Embassy in Rome who, having sold a genuine document about Zahawie to Italian and French intelligence agents, then added a forged paper in the hope of turning a further profit. The real stuff went by one route to Washington, and the fakery, via an Italian journalist and the U.S. Embassy in Rome, by another. The upshot was?follow me closely here?that a phony paper alleging a deal was used to shoot down a genuine document suggesting a connection.

Zahawie's name and IAEA connection were never mentioned by ElBaradei in his report to the United Nations, and his past career has never surfaced in print. Looking up the press of the time causes one's jaw to slump in sheer astonishment. Here, typically, is a Time magazine "exclusive" about Zahawie, written by Hassan Fattah on Oct. 1, 2003:

The veteran diplomat has spent the eight months since President Bush's speech trying to set the record straight and clear his name. In a rare interview with Time, al-Zahawie outlined how forgery and circumstantial evidence was used to talk up Iraq's nuclear weapons threat, and leave him holding the smoking gun.

A few paragraphs later appear, the wonderful and unchallenged words from Zahawie: "Frankly, I didn't know that Niger produced uranium at all." Well, sorry for the inconvenience of the questions, then, my old IAEA and NPT "veteran" (whose nuclear qualifications go unmentioned in the Time article). Instead, we are told that Zahawie visited Niger and other West African countries to encourage them to break the embargo on flights to Baghdad, as they had broken the sanctions on Qaddafi's Libya. A bit of a lowly mission, one might think, for one of the Iraqi regime's most senior and specialized envoys.

The Duelfer Report also cites "a second contact between Iraq and Niger," which occurred in 2001, when a Niger minister visited Baghdad "to request assistance in obtaining petroleum products to alleviate Niger's economic problems." According to the deposition of Ja'far Diya' Ja'far (the head of Iraq's pre-1991 nuclear weapons program), these negotiations involved no offer of uranium ore but only "cash in exchange for petroleum." West Africa is awash in petroleum, and Niger is poor in cash. Iraq in 2001 was cash-rich through the oil-for-food racket, but you may if you wish choose to believe that a near-bankrupt African delegation from a uranium-based country traveled across a continent and a half with nothing on its mind but shopping for oil.

Interagency feuding has ruined the Bush administration's capacity to make its case in public, and a high-level preference for deniable leaking has further compounded the problem. But please read my first three paragraphs again and tell me if the original story still seems innocuous to you.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. His most recent collection of essays is titled Love, Poverty, and War.

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Hitchens on Yellowcake
« Reply #249 on: April 10, 2006, 06:26:37 PM »
Wowie Zahawie
Sorry everyone, but Iraq did go uranium shopping in Niger.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, April 10, 2006, at 4:43 PM ET

In the late 1980s, the Iraqi representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency?Iraq's senior public envoy for nuclear matters, in effect?was a man named Wissam al-Zahawie. After the Kuwait war in 1991, when Rolf Ekeus arrived in Baghdad to begin the inspection and disarmament work of UNSCOM, he was greeted by Zahawie, who told him in a bitter manner that "now that you have come to take away our assets," the two men could no longer be friends. (They had known each other in earlier incarnations at the United Nations in New York.)

At a later 1995 U.N. special session on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Zahawie was the Iraqi delegate and spoke heatedly about the urgent need to counterbalance Israel's nuclear capacity. At the time, most democratic countries did not have full diplomatic relations with Saddam's regime, and there were few fully accredited Iraqi ambassadors overseas, Iraq's interests often being represented by the genocidal Islamist government of Sudan (incidentally, yet another example of collusion between "secular" Baathists and the fundamentalists who were sheltering Osama Bin Laden). There was one exception?an Iraqi "window" into the world of open diplomacy?namely the mutual recognition between the Baathist regime and the Vatican. To this very important and sensitive post in Rome, Zahawie was appointed in 1997, holding the job of Saddam's ambassador to the Holy See until 2000. Those who knew him at that time remember a man much given to anti-Jewish tirades, with a standing ticket for Wagner performances at Bayreuth. (Actually, as a fan of Das Rheingold and G?tterd?mmerung in particular, I find I can live with this. Hitler secretly preferred sickly kitsch like Franz Lehar.)

In February 1999, Zahawie left his Vatican office for a few days and paid an official visit to Niger, a country known for absolutely nothing except its vast deposits of uranium ore. It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report. In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein's long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious. Italian intelligence (which first noticed the Zahawie trip from Rome) found it difficult to take this view and alerted French intelligence (which has better contacts in West Africa and a stronger interest in nuclear questions). In due time, the French tipped off the British, who in their cousinly way conveyed the suggestive information to Washington. As everyone now knows, the disclosure appeared in watered-down and secondhand form in the president's State of the Union address in January 2003.

If the above was all that was known, it would surely be universally agreed that no responsible American administration could have overlooked such an amazingly sinister pattern. Given the past Iraqi record of surreptitious dealing, cheating of inspectors, concealment of sites and caches, and declared ambition to equip the technicians referred to openly in the Baathist press as "nuclear mujahideen," one could scarcely operate on the presumption of innocence.

However, the waters have since become muddied, to say the least. For a start, someone produced a fake document, dated July 6, 2000, which purports to show Zahawie's signature and diplomatic seal on an actual agreement for an Iraqi uranium transaction with Niger. Almost everything was wrong with this crude forgery?it had important dates scrambled, and it misstated the offices of Niger politicians. In consequence, IAEA Chairman Mohammed ElBaradei later reported to the U.N. Security Council that the papers alleging an Iraq-Niger uranium connection had been demonstrated to be fraudulent.

But this doesn't alter the plain set of established facts in my first three paragraphs above. The European intelligence services, and the Bush administration, only ever asserted that the Iraqi regime had apparently tried to open (or rather, reopen) a yellowcake trade "in Africa." It has never been claimed that an agreement was actually reached. What motive could there be for a forgery that could be instantly detected upon cursory examination?

There seem to be only three possibilities here. Either a) American intelligence concocted the note; b) someone in Italy did so in the hope of gain; or c) it was the product of disinformation, intended to protect Niger and discredit any attention paid to the actual, real-time Zahawie visit. The CIA is certainly incompetent enough to have fouled up this badly. (I like Edward Luttwak's formulation in the March 22 Times Literary Supplement, where he writes that "there have been only two kinds of CIA secret operations: the ones that are widely known to have failed?usually because of almost unbelievably crude errors?and the ones that are not yet widely known to have failed.") Still, it almost passes belief that any American agency would fake a document that purportedly proved far more than the administration had asked and then get every important name and date wrapped round the axle. Forgery for gain is easy to understand, especially when it is borne in mind that nobody wastes time counterfeiting a bankrupt currency. Forgery for disinformation, if that is what it was, appears at least to have worked. Almost everybody in the world now affects to believe that Saddam Hussein was framed on the Niger rap.

According to the London Sunday Times of April 9, the truth appears to be some combination of b) and c). A NATO investigation has identified two named employees of the Niger Embassy in Rome who, having sold a genuine document about Zahawie to Italian and French intelligence agents, then added a forged paper in the hope of turning a further profit. The real stuff went by one route to Washington, and the fakery, via an Italian journalist and the U.S. Embassy in Rome, by another. The upshot was?follow me closely here?that a phony paper alleging a deal was used to shoot down a genuine document suggesting a connection.

Zahawie's name and IAEA connection were never mentioned by ElBaradei in his report to the United Nations, and his past career has never surfaced in print. Looking up the press of the time causes one's jaw to slump in sheer astonishment. Here, typically, is a Time magazine "exclusive" about Zahawie, written by Hassan Fattah on Oct. 1, 2003:

The veteran diplomat has spent the eight months since President Bush's speech trying to set the record straight and clear his name. In a rare interview with Time, al-Zahawie outlined how forgery and circumstantial evidence was used to talk up Iraq's nuclear weapons threat, and leave him holding the smoking gun.

A few paragraphs later appear, the wonderful and unchallenged words from Zahawie: "Frankly, I didn't know that Niger produced uranium at all." Well, sorry for the inconvenience of the questions, then, my old IAEA and NPT "veteran" (whose nuclear qualifications go unmentioned in the Time article). Instead, we are told that Zahawie visited Niger and other West African countries to encourage them to break the embargo on flights to Baghdad, as they had broken the sanctions on Qaddafi's Libya. A bit of a lowly mission, one might think, for one of the Iraqi regime's most senior and specialized envoys.

The Duelfer Report also cites "a second contact between Iraq and Niger," which occurred in 2001, when a Niger minister visited Baghdad "to request assistance in obtaining petroleum products to alleviate Niger's economic problems." According to the deposition of Ja'far Diya' Ja'far (the head of Iraq's pre-1991 nuclear weapons program), these negotiations involved no offer of uranium ore but only "cash in exchange for petroleum." West Africa is awash in petroleum, and Niger is poor in cash. Iraq in 2001 was cash-rich through the oil-for-food racket, but you may if you wish choose to believe that a near-bankrupt African delegation from a uranium-based country traveled across a continent and a half with nothing on its mind but shopping for oil.

Interagency feuding has ruined the Bush administration's capacity to make its case in public, and a high-level preference for deniable leaking has further compounded the problem. But please read my first three paragraphs again and tell me if the original story still seems innocuous to you.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. His most recent collection of essays is titled Love, Poverty, and War.

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