Monday, September 13, 2004

Divide and Conquer - (Part I) Enemy Ideology and Strategy

Disclaimer: I am not a member of the administration nor have any practical military experience. Anything I say here is in regards to my own musings on the subject.

Now, having got that out of the way, I've been thinking for sometime about different subjects that seem to repeatedly be in the news, blogs, comment sections and general discussions I've had with people. I will try to bring some of my thoughts together in the inner sanctum.

Islam: A Religion of Peace or A Religion of Destruction?
Kill Them All and Let God Sort Them Out or Divide and Conquer?

In the past four months (and, Lord, have they flew by), I have visited many sites in the blog world. I first came by the blog world having read an article in my local paper about the Iraq blogs. Particularly, IraqTheModel. I was searching for some good news in what seemed to be turning into the quagmire often mentioned by my old party (you know who that is). I found some sites that helped me coalesce my position on our war on terrorism (including Iraq and Afghanistan) and politics.

One thing to admire and cringe about at the same time is the straight forwardness of many of the blog's postings and comments. I've found that people (including me) are less constrained by the apparent annonimity of the internet (probably why porno sites on line are so damn popular). They say what they say and they mean it. Most of the time. There are some that would be called "trolls" who lend nothing to a discussion, but throw out fire bombs (generally insults) in order to rile up the comment board. But, there are equally those that say some very controversial things and they stand by them. They feel them. They mean them.

Some of them amount to statements such as "kill them all and let God sort them out". I've seen this comment on some sites that are, by far, exceedingly right wing. Generally, the postings on the subject are not so blatant, but sometimes they are. We're talking about Muslims here. No need to beat around the bush. Their are some who fully believe that Islam as a religion is a grotesque and evil stain on humanity and it should be wiped from the face of the earth.

Some people have advocated "nuking" Mecca and Medina and any other holy site of Islam and then insisting that we hold these people hostage to additional "nuking" until they all converted from Islam. No suggestion as to what appropriate religion that would be, whether Christian, Hindu or Buddhist, etc. I'm not sure, even at my angriest moment, that I can relate to these kind of statements. There are some facts and figures that get in the way of making this a viable solution to wiping out our actual enemies.

Do you know that it is estimated that there are over 1.5 BILLION adherents to Islam?

Do you know that Muslims are spread out on almost every major continent if not over 50 countries across the world?

Basically, what they are advocating is the destruction of the world. Simple as that. A real live crusade against a religion. Pitting western "civilized" worlds against largely second and third world countries. Certainly, militarily and with the "nuke" in our arsenal, we could make this a reality. To some extent. Hardly viable though, when you look at the countries that are only part Muslim. Also, aside from nuking 1/3 of the world, what sort of viable military strategy could we use that wouldn't drive entire populations into a guerilla warfare against us (us as in "civilized world")? If you declare war on a religion than you have to be prepared for the consequences. I see the world as hardly that. We have progressed to the point where we no longer see it necessary to destroy whole civilizations in order to make our point or declare victory.

Of course, we are talking about today. We are not talking about the potential that a nuclear bomb or "dirty bomb" goes off in your neighborhood. At that point, this discussion may become moot. But right now, let's deal with "right now".

There are some things about Islam that I, as a free and emancipated woman, cannot relate to and would not subject myself to given the choice. I have that choice so you will not see me converting under my own auspices. I would venture to say that, if that choice was taken away from me, I would turn into a guerilla and head up to the hills. Having said that, as with all religions, if someone chooses to adhere to the strictness of those tenets, more power to them. Obviously, we are talking about people that have a choice. Here in the US, anyone can choose to do so just as any Muslim could choose to convert to Christianity, Buddhism, etc. and not fear death. There are certainly countries that this is not the case. For instance, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Even the thought of other religions intruding on their bizarre utopias sends them into apoplectic fits.

So, how do we decide who is the enemy? Is it really Islam? Is it even realistic to claim the religion as a whole as an enemy of the United States? Of the free world?

It's not viable. And, frankly, that is exactly what the enemy desires. On the other hand, by practicing total hands off of the religion, we are allowing them to continue to recruit from an already indoctrinated mass that takes just a little pushing and pulling to put them in their camp. Although, by sheer numbers it is apparent that not ALL of the 1.5 Billion Muslims in the world believe that we are evil people that need to be destroyed. If they did, you can bet that we would be dead right now and not having this discussion. Believe me.

So, how do we decide who the enemy is? Is it really Islam? How do you defeat them if you cannot identify them? Is "terrorist" a good word?

I see that in order to defeat the enemy we must be able to identify them separately from the basic word "Muslim" and more specifically than the word "terrorist". It would be easier if they had identified borders and a government, but, aside from Afghanistan and the Taliban, the actual movement that attacked us has none.

We could make the arguments about Saudi Arabia and their fanatical religious government and Iran and it's fanatical religious government or even Syria with it's fanatical socialist government. All of these countries will have their comeuppence in due time. They cannot avoid it. The wheel is already set in motion. By their very make up, they have styled themselves either enemies of the United States or at least "obstructionist".

We could make the argument that we should go to war with them all. Today. But, by and large our enemy is first and foremost a "non-state actor". In other words, someone that does not represent any particular country, is not a recognized army (per the Geneva Conventions), is not governed by or controlled by a particular government although they may be receiving assistance from any number of governments to act as proxies. The enemy would seem to have these attributes:

  1. Power: They seek to gain their own power in the middle east region and across continents where ever they may be able to recruit followers. This bid for power is not concentrated under one man as we have seen other bids for power (like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, etc) as yet. While we may put Osama Bin Laden and Aymin Al-Zawihiri at the top of the list, they have yet to place themselves in the position of demigogues preferring to keep their positions as "common fighters" in the holy war against the evil western world. With the arrest or demise of Bin Laden and/or Zawihiri it is possible (if not probable) that the ideological base of this group will be taken over and corrupted by a less "principled" leader. Much as Stalin took over and corrupted the Communist movement in Russia after Lenin died. Purges and consolidation of power are likely. While not wishing to start a conspiracy theory here, is it possible, I wonder, if we have not as yet persecuted the full onslaught of capturing these two until such a time as we have pulled their teeth and made the movement untenable for just such a reason? It may even be probable with their demise or arrest that the group would become even more de-centralized and have any number of "Stalins" popping up in these groups around the world and attempting to take their own power in particular regions. I'm not sure which is more dangerous at this time. I also wonder at the recent appearance of Zawihiri by himself in the latest video. This is very likely an indicator that Bin Laden is no longer in the picture as a viable icon of their movement. We will see in the near future whether Zawihiri holds enough power and respect on his own to continue nominal control of the multiple groups that have sprung up.
  2. Ideology: based on the tenets of Islam , the group has actually defined itself outside of mainstream Islam and the modern day (if one could say that) governments of the main target countries. I say this not because of some propaganda about "religion of peace", but because it seems that the group has taken the strictest interpretation of Islam, developed some of their own interpretations and then applied it to a Marxist ideology regarding the "common people" that would be directed by a "supreme umma" handing down government and laws to lesser "ummas".
  3. Goal: Ottoman Empire II- The new and improved version without Saladin. A real attempt at creating the socialist "utopia" over layed with Islamic Shariah law (their interpretation) where the good of the common people and any and all potential temptations are dealt with by the "umma" and Shariah law. A perfect Islamic state. They do not believe that Saudi Arabia nor even Iran actually embody this perfect Islamic state. Only they know what is best. Much as the Russians did not believe that China or Cuba were true "Communist" states. Of course, we know that this is usually the beginning of totalitarian governments whenever someone or any group believe they know what is best for the people better than the people do. This empire, if possible to achieve, would spread from Europe to Asia, from the Caucusus (Dagestan, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, etc) and across Northern Africa, almost exactly mirroring the borders of the ancient empire.
  4. Strategy: First, it is abundantly clear that the enemy has taken a page out of the greatest military strategists' books and is applying that knowledge GLOBALLY. Their first act was to make a "blitzkrieg" attack against the US and attempt to take out our financial, military and command structure in one fell blow. Weakening the US considerably and possibly taking us out of play for the next act. They were not sure of their potential success. This was made clear in the video of Bin Laden discussing the attacks. He did not expect that the towers would collapse. This was also made clear by their next action: divide. While they made plans, well in advance, to attack certain European countries at the same time they were planning to attack the US, they also made arrangements to offer a truce to Europe in the hopes that they would take it and divide them from the US. I doubt they had any plans or have any that are quite as catastrophic as 9/11 for these countries. Most likely, all plans are small operations that would possibly kill a few hundred people (like Spain) and be nothing but a reminder to these people that they can strike them at will. This keeps them divided from us on a strategic basis. If the enemy struck Europe as they struck the United States, this would be a different ball game. Fortunately for the Europeans, this does not fit in with the enemy's plan for keeping the west divided. I am as yet undecided as to whether anyone (Europe and the US) does not recognize this strategy, or, they do recognize the strategy and are just too hard headed to give a little, or, Europe is just too paralyzed with fear of the possiblities (being closer to the game and all) to make the leap. I think it is a little of all three. If you haven't recognized it yet, those that say that Madrid, Spain was planned a long time and had nothing to do with Iraq and those that claim it was in direct opposition to Spain's involvement in Iraq are both correct. Similar operations are probably holding for Germany and France as well and, depending on their future actions, may or may not occur. Had Spain not joined us in Iraq, but came in later for other operations, they would still have been bombed. The reason d'eter really didn't matter it just turned out to be Iraq. Conquer: it is this simple; once you have divided the enemy in two and made one component irrelevent, you have only one enemy to face. One "front" to fight on. Much as Hitler's advisors tried to insure Russian neutrality in WWII with their treaty that would keep the USSR out of the war. Of course, Hitler was too egocentric and paranoid to allow that situation to continue and invaded the USSR opening a second front. That was his fatal mistake. Had he not done so, he would have been able to throw his whole army at the western invasion and the allies would have been so much cannon fodder on any number of beachheads to Europe. Then, he could have turned his attention to the USSR. It would appear that, so far, OBL and crew have been able to restrain themselves from following that mistake. If they are wise, they will be able to keep this front to the US and it's "true" allies, limiting the number of operations and their cost. Keeping the focus on the US in Iraq. Finally, if they are able to out wait us in Iraq and we pull out, whether that is June 2005 or a year later, Iraq will quickly fall under extremist control and several other countries will go with it. Notably, Saudi Arabia. Alliances with Iran and Syria will quikly follow. They will then push ahead their schedule for Chechnya and Dagestan. If they are able to do so, they will have surrounded Azerbaijan and will be so close and so large that Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, etc, will either join or make treaties, quickly sowing up the entire oil producing region from the Caspian Sea(Russia's main oil fields) to the toe of Yemen on the Saudi peninsula.
  5. Tactics: Assymetrical warfare has many meanings in this case. It is political, military and finance rolled into one. At this point, I'm not sure who is winning the struggle for supremecy with this tactic. Considering they have been able to divide us, it might seem one of the small battles in this war is going the wrong way. I wouldn't say it is done. France, Germany and other major players may still weigh in, but probably not until their own toes are stepped on. But, again, this is just a small battle and certainly not lost. Creating Stable Financial Resources: Anyone notice that the areas the enemy is trying to take over either supply most of the oil to the world or controls the shipping lanes for same? The enemy was residing in Afghanistan. What was in Afghanistan? Nothing. No resources to exploit beyond opium and that had it's risks and finite market. Overhead to the organizations that actually distribute the product is pretty high. This was never going to be a satisfactory source of income. Even coupled with the financial aid of "charities" and other resources, it is not sustainable nor always able to regenerate. Unreliable at best. For the type of war the enemy would like to perpetrate, they need a steady source of income with infinite possibilities. Controlling 40% or more of the world's oil is a viable way to create that wealth. Cutting Off Supply Lines: Controlling 40% or more of the world's oil and controlling the water ways that allow quick distribution (like Suez Canal or Indonesian water ways) would severely hamper any country's ability to prosecute a war. Alternate resources would have to be identified and even those would be finite. Limited. Incapable of coming up to speed quick enough to cover the loss of that oil (under current production) and would cause many countries to either completely go off line (energy and financial), bargain witht he enemy (thus taking them completely out of play) or force them to join the fray in their own way. Oil prices would balloon to unheard of values. It would be a financial bust for many and a serious strategic obstruction to others. Hear the sonic BOOM! of global economies busting all over. Rationing would become the norm as we fought to maintain control much less regain the upper hand in the war. Remember the Nazis? They were running low on outside resources. They pushed into Romania and Bulgaria to capture the few oil fields there to supply their war effort. They then moved on through lower Russia on their way to Chechnya and other Caucus areas in order to take on their oil supply. Further, they weren't in North Africa for a couscous festival. They were pushing into the Arabian peninsula in order to take control of or make a deal and gun point with the Arabs. At some point, it was touch or go who would win that battle. If the Nazis had seized control of that oil, the war would be over. Same situation here.

Those who decry Iraq have completely missed it's strategic importance in this war. Those that simply cry out for the capture or killing of Osama Bin Laden and dismiss Iraq as a distraction have no idea about stratgies of global warfare. No idea about the make up and purpose of the enemy. No idea about their tactics, strategy or greater plan. Those who demand the destruction of Islam, as incompatable with our lifestyle as it may be, are simply the worst sorts of idealists. The most dangerous when you get down to it.

What we are missing from this group is a cohesive name for their ideology. One that is not depedent or not solely dependent on the name "Islam". We too must be able to divide and conquer. You cannot do so when proclaiming a whole religion as an enemy of the state. If we are able to do so, split them from the base of Islam, we will have narrowed the battle down to a few hundred thousand (manageable) as opposed to fighting with 1/3 of the world. I think this is one area where the government could use some serious help. Once you name a philosophy, it becomes a real and defined enemy, able to be grasped. I have as yet to hear anyone define this appropriately. Even my own attempts are blurred.

What do you name an ideology that takes from a religion and applies marxist tenets? What do you name an enemy that has refused to be defined but us? What do you name the enemy when you must be able to cull it from the millions of potential allies of the same origin or at least keep them from joining the fight en masse against us?

Think about it. Divide and conquer starts by first identifying the enemy and then dividing them from their usual counterparts.

Next entry on this subject will be discussing our tactics and possibly naming the enemies noted here.

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