Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In Case You Think It Is Only Americans...

An interesting referral code showed up Bilious Young Fogey who had an even more interesting link on his blog, just in time to go with the discussion about "gays in the military", "morale", "discipline" and "cohesion of units":

The Naked Truth About Army Life (UK)

Most people who saw a clip of the Royal Marines’ “video nasty” last weekend, with its disturbing footage of two naked men attempting to beat each other into unconsciousness, roared on by an equally naked gang of fellow marines, would doubtless echo Lord Bathurst’s view. It looked like the worst kind of loutish bullying, fuelled by alcohol, with a sinister homo-erotic streak running through it.

I suppose these men only felt comfortable wrestling naked because they were sure when the other guy had them pinned down he wasn't going to stick his grenade launcher in the fox hole?

Just saying.

Speaking of Interesting Army Videos

A Captain writes to the WSJ:

I just got back from my third deployment from Iraq on Friday, and I happened to be at the dentist and saw a completely offensive ad from the idiots at this morning.[snip]

Here is the crucial part of the ad that I would like to bring to your attention. As they pretend to argue on my behalf, they show a group of soldiers standing around a table in the Middle East.

"A hundred and fifty thousand American men and women are stuck in Iraq," according to the narration that accompanies this scene.

Guess what was wrong with this picture before you click here for the rest of the story.

To Break the Monotony And Boring Talk of Politics and War

Found these from a visiting referal link US Marine's View:


Rotating Illusion

Finally, for all you cubicle dwellers out there:

Low Morale

Conversations Around the Net

I was busy on Tuesday, with several discussions around the net. Interesting reading if you weren't following:

Uncle Jimbo wrecks Blackfive's joint with a discussion on Gays In the Military

Rick Moran and I disagree about whether someone's Overt Christian Fundamental Beliefs make them a bad pick for a government or administrative position.

Finally, a discussion about Crime and Terrorism reverts back to "legalization of drugs would decrease profits for criminals" and now we know why we don't make any head way in significantly eroding or closing sources of funding for terrorists.

I suppose you could infer that I am one of those funky conservative type people who don't toe the party line, have serious libertarian leanings, but find certain concepts and practices more repugnant than others.

I'll let you figure out which ones. ;)

Other Interesting Reading:

New American Way of War

In case you missed this over at Belmont Club, he linked to this interesting piece by Max Boot on the New American Way of War, that goes along with my original post about Clausewitz and the changing face of war:

Paradoxically, increasing precision makes U.S. firepower both more effective and less destructive. Because U.S. bombs can hit within a meter or two of their aim point, they can carry a lighter load of explosives. U.S. war planners tried hard to minimize collateral damage by employing the smallest possible munitions to get the job done, on occasion going so far as to drop bombs filled with nothing but concrete. Saddam's regime sought to take advantage of U.S. sensitivities by locating military installations among schools, hospitals, and mosques. But even with such dire provocations, U.S. forces still took great care to spare civilians

Clausewitz, right or wrong:

If the wars of civilised people are less cruel and destructive than those of savages, the difference arises from the social condition both of states in themselves and in their relations to each other. Out of this social condition and its relations war arises, and by it war is subjected to conditions, is controlled and modified. But these things do not belong to war itself; they are only given conditions; and to introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity.

I think that Max Boot leans a little towards the Thomas P. Barnett model and does reflect Clausewitz's point that increasingly, politicized war will mean a different model for armies of the future. 170 years later, Max Boot reminds us, in nearly prescient prose, that the changing model is not just about technology and the idealic use of air power in place of "ground pounders", but is increasingly about "new" and flexible roles for these services:

It may make sense to transform some heavy armored units into lighter, more deployable formations. It makes no sense to reduce the size of the army as whole, an idea that Rumsfeld once toyed with. The army has already shrunk from 18 active-duty divisions in 1990 to 10 today -- a force that is not adequate for all its responsibilities, which include deployments in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sinai, South Korea, and now Iraq. The army is overstretched and having to lean more heavily on the reserves and the National Guard for vital functions such as policing and civil affairs. These part-time soldiers are not happy about becoming full-timers. The marines should pick up some of the slack by shouldering occupation duties in Iraq and elsewhere. But the active-duty army still needs to be increased in size. Airpower, no matter how awesome, cannot police newly liberated countries -- or build democratic governments.

The army needs to tackle the task of "imperial" policing -- not a popular duty, but one that is as vital to safeguarding U.S. interests in the long run as are the more conventional war-fighting skills on display during the second Gulf War. The Army War College's decision to shut down its Peacekeeping Institute is not a good sign; it means that the army still wants to avoid focusing on noncombat missions. The army brass should realize that battlefield victories in places like Afghanistan and Iraq can easily be squandered if they do not do enough to win the peace.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Learning From Our Mistakes

The WSJ had two excellent pieces this morning:

The Ultimate- and Unnecessary - Sacrifice

The Navy learned from its mistakes at the Battle of Midway.

And, from Joe Lieberman in Iraq:

Our Troops Must Stay

America can't abandon 27 million Iraqis to 10,000 terrorists.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Clausewitz and the War on Terror

I am reading Clausewitz's book "On War" on line. I've only read the first chapter, but now I see why it is a favorite among military members and aficianados. As a "theory" on war, it is applicable in every war, including the general war on terror and Iraq. I can also see how officers who subscribe to different war doctrines may refer to this treatise and claim that their doctrine is supported. That is, if you conveniently leave out or reject some of Clausewitz's theory in favor of specific comments. Of course, that is always the problem with theory; taking or leaving, building on or rejecting parts to create a "new" theory.

This book was written in the early 19th century and published after Clausewitz's death in 1832. I note from the website's introduction page that this book was not officially adopted by most of the military "war colleges" until the 70's and 80's:

adopted as a key text at the Naval War College in 1976, the Air War College in 1978, the Army War College in 1981. It has always been central at the U.S. Army's School for Advanced Military Studies at Leavenworth (founded in 1983). The U.S. Marine Corps's brilliant little philosophical field manual FMFM 1: Warfighting (1989) is essentially a distillation of On War, and the newer Marine Corps Doctrinal Publications (MCDPs, c.1997) are equally reflective of Clausewitz's basic concepts.

The writer notes that Clausewitz has always been "in fashion" among many individual professional soldiers, but:

It is, however, the first time that the American armed forces as institutions have turned to Clausewitz. While the philosopher had insisted that war was "simply the expression of politics by other means," the traditional attitude of American soldiers had been that "politics and strategy are radically and fundamentally things apart. Strategy begins where politics end. All that soldiers ask is that once the policy is settled, strategy and command shall be regarded as being in a sphere apart from politics."*2 The sudden acceptability of Clausewitz in the wake of Vietnam is not difficult to account for, for among the major military theorists only Clausewitz seriously struggled with the sort of dilemma that American military leaders faced in the aftermath of their defeat. Clearly, in what had come to be called in scathing terms a "political war," the political and military components of the American war effort had come unstuck. It ran against the grain of America's military men to criticize elected civilian leaders, but it was just as difficult to take the blame upon themselves. Clausewitz's analysis could not have been more relevant:

    The more powerful and inspiring the motives for war,... the more closely will the military aims and the political objects of war coincide, and the more military and less political will war appear to be. On the other hand, the less intense the motives, the less will the military element's natural tendency to violence coincide with political directives. As a result, war will be driven further from its natural course, the political object will be more and more at variance with the aim of ideal war, and the conflict will seem increasingly political in character.*3

    When people talk, as they often do, about harmful political influence on the management of war, they are not really saying what they mean. Their quarrel should be with the policy itself, not with its influence. If the policy is right—that is, successful—any intentional effect it has on the conduct of the war can only be to the good. If it has the opposite effect the policy itself is wrong.*4

What I think was missing from Christopher Brassford's analysis is that, not only do war fighters wish to remain separate from politics, but, frequently in the last 50 years (I say it begins with the Korean War), politicians and even common citizens have tried to separate themselves from the wars for various reasons. As if, some how, even if they (congress members) authorized the use of force by voting for it, they can pretend to be separate from the war by criticizing it. I think that Clausewitz actually makes this point when he said:

On the other hand, the less intense the motives, the less will the military element's natural tendency to violence coincide with political directives. As a result, war will be driven further from its natural course, the political object will be more and more at variance with the aim of ideal war, and the conflict will seem increasingly political in character.*

"The less intense the motives" I believe is the key phrase. In which case, one should honestly ask what were the motives of those who voted "yea" on the authorization of force against Iraq that now it is an issue of political discussion and dissension instead of the will to win?

Some other points from chapter one:


War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfil our will.

Violence arms itself with the inventions of Art and Science in order to contend against violence. Self-imposed restrictions, almost imperceptible and hardly worth mentioning, termed usages of International Law, accompany it without essentially impairing its power. Violence, that is to say physical force (for there is no moral force without the conception of states and law), is therefore the means; the compulsory submission of the enemy to our will is the ultimate object. In order to attain this object fully, the enemy must be disarmed; and this is, correctly speaking, the real aim of hostilities in theory. It takes the place of the final object, and puts it aside in a manner as something not properly belonging to war.

From the next paragraph, "Powell Doctrine" of using over whelming force from the onset of battle may have originated:

3. Utmost use of force.

Now, philanthropists may easily imagine there is a skilful method of disarming and overcoming an enemy without causing great bloodshed, and that this is the proper tendency of the art of War. However plausible this may appear, still it is an error which must be extirpated; for in such dangerous things as war, the errors which proceed from a spirit of benevolence are just the worst. [snip]

This is the way in which the matter must be viewed; and it is to no purpose, and even acting against one's own interest, to turn away from the consideration of the real nature of the affair, because the coarseness of its elements excites repugnance.

If the wars of civilised people are less cruel and destructive than those of savages, the difference arises from the social condition both of states in themselves and in their relations to each other. Out of this social condition and its relations war arises, and by it war is subjected to conditions, is controlled and modified. But these things do not belong to war itself; they are only given conditions; and to introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity.

And yet, we do impose serious conditions on the warrior, the tactics and even objectives of war. Even the Korean War had slipped into this realm. It could be said that the Korean War was the beginning of wars with limited objectives and even the beginning of limited tactics. This is completely political because wars of the last 50 years are all under the cloud of World War II and every war for centuries before where the agressors were painted as "evil" and their opponents (western democracies and their allies) claimed to be the "moral".

With limited wars where the lone super power (the US) is acting as an agressor and where the threat cannot be seen like the large armies and arsenals of once traditional enemies, it becomes increasingly difficult to establish, what many see as simply political cover, the enemy as the immoral. An interesting side effect is that large swaths of our population have decided that they are too "civilized" and that war is unnecessary. Even in the face of direct attacks, such as those on September 11, 2001, instead of rising immediately to defend of the nation, preparing for action against an enemy and calling the enemy out, it seems like the very next day the first action was not preparation for war, but questions of "why"? Why did it happen? Why would someone attack us?

The explanations were basically identifying the US as the agressor, as the responsible party, it was our policies. Now, this may or may not be true, but the reality is, when attacked, war has already begun and, as Clausewitz indicates, the cessation of conflict only comes in two flavors:

If two parties have armed themselves for strife, then a feeling of animosity must have moved them to it; as long now as they continue armed, that is do not come to terms of peace, this feeling must exist; and it can only be brought to a standstill by either side by one single motive alone, which is, that he waits for a more favourable moment for action. Now at first sight it appears that this motive can never exist except on one side, because it, eo ipso, must be prejudicial to the other. If the one has an interest in acting, then the other must have an interest in waiting.

Victory, obtaining the objective of disarming the enemy and forcing them to fulfil our will. Or, the cessation of conflict because one side is waiting to begin attacks again when they are better armed or the enemy is lulled into believing war is over. Conflict continues, even if it is under the radar, so to speak, of most citizens or is largely fought in the political arena, where political tensions maintain the conflict until one side or the other is ready or willing to resume the physical battle.

This is why the "War on Terror" will continue to be a long war, with moments of peace or low level tension between moments of conflict, whether small or conducted with large armies. Our own tendencies as the "civilized" tie one hand behind our back when fighting the war, putting limitations on the war which means that while we as society are conditioned to look for the big "climactic" victory, like the surrender of the Japanese on the USS Missouri, because of the limitation we have placed on our selves, we are not going to see any such "victory". In which case, it will be increasingly harder to engage the public's opinion and will in the war, unless or until another strike takes place on our own soil.

Even strikes against allied targets, like the Bali bombings that killed 200 or the London bombings that killed 57, seem to raise our consciousness very little or raise the level of "tension". This seems to be, not only a product of our "civilized" society, but also because the enemy has taken refuge in the last defendable redoubt: anonymity. The non-state actor; a secret army among civilians who bears no resemblence to enemies of the past. Or does he?

We should recognize now that the non-state actor is really a proxy for states to excersize their aggression without actually committing their own armies or state to the battle. While these non-state actors may claim their own reasons for striking, they cannot exist without the support of states or citizens of a state. In which case, it is likely that, while some actions may continue to be low intensity, small actions between small military units or may even regress to types of "police actions" using intelligence and assassinations or incarcerations, it is very likely that these tensions will flare again to a state on state action.

Some have recognized this by noting "terrorist supporting states". While parts of our population will continue to be unable to or choose not to recognize this reality as if some concept of war has changed (which Clausewitz rightly notes is "absurd"), the politicization of each war will continue, regardless of who is in power over the state, who chooses to commit to larger wars and who chooses to maintain the cessation of conflict for a "more favourable moment for action".

The difficulty will be in determining "victory" if the war is maintained at its current level to the very end. In which case, I believe that Clausewitz notes the likely outcome:

The smaller the sacrifice we demand from our opponent, the smaller it may be expected will be the means of resistance which he will employ; but the smaller his are, the smaller will ours require to be. Further, the smaller our political object, the less value shall we set upon it, and the more easily shall we be induced to give it up altogether.

Since the main enemy is not a state, the groups and leadership are dessiminated, submission or surrender in the classic sense cannot and will not be recognized unless the war becomes a war between states. Because our society does not see our real political objectives as disarming or conquering individual states, changing their governments (for the most part), the war will be very long indeed. Further, as Clausewitz noted, even if we did go to war with these states, our "civilized" war, moderating and modifying the efforts, will never truly result in the sumbission of the state or the people. Instead, it will be never ending war.

It seems that Clausewitz rejects this kind of war because it means the resources of the state, financially, materially and human, are chewed up without reciprocal results and can result in the state becoming vulnerable to its enemies, quite possibly "induced to give it [the objective] up altogether".

So, through all this discussion, the question must be, what are our objectives in the "war on terror"? Are they as limited as some have hoped to make them: search and destroy bin Laden and Zawahiri in hopes of destroying the exact enemy responsible for the attacks on 9/11? Is this single objective reasonable in the face of the current conflict around the globe? Would this actually create the circumstances for "victory", as in the end of violence, disarming the enemy and forcing them to fulfil our will (what is our will?)? Or would that be one action that would result in a cessation of violence, but not the end while the state supporters and the dessiminated groups wait "for a more favourable moment for action"?

This returns to the point I made several weeks ago concerning the two views of the war.

How do you see this conflict and who is the enemy? Is it a few men with limited resources or is it a proxy war involving many proxies and many states?

Who is the enemy and who are we expecting to surrender?

Without a decisive vision from the state as a whole as to who the enemy is, their objectives and ours, not just from one party or the other in charge of the state, the political will to continue will always be in question.

For additional reading, check out "Net War" at the Belmont Club.

The key challenge is whether America, in the sense of a shared idea, can be expansive enough to permit subordinate threads which can truly "take on a life of their own", and so become agile enough to engage the Jihadis at the lowest level. We are some of us familiar with the idea of multithreaded applications which can leave the main program and be re-entrant at an indeterminate point. Max Boot had hoped in 2003 that decentralized decision making would be part of the "new American way of war", multithreading within a larger architecture. Yet no sooner had those tendencies appeared when they were reined in by an American Left determined to impose all the blessings of the bureaucratic state upon networked warfare: oversight, endless hearings, legalisms -- the clanking apparatus of the unitary Sovereign -- to 'aid' in the pursuit of nimble bands of modern Mongols contemptuous of boundaries.

Update: Hat tip Mudville

From Phil and Becky Decisive Operations:

If combat is not the decisive operation, then what is? The decisive operation, in my view, is a toss up between governance and build-up of the Iraqi security forces. I'll call it a toss up for now, but I lean towards governance. The strategic objective as I understand it is to create a functional liberal democracy in the Middle East because citizens with hope, dignity and the promise of a better tomorrow don't fly airplanes into buildings or strap suicide vests onto themselves to blow themselves up in crowded marketplaces. The plan is to win the culture war by spreading freedom. Will it work -- winning the culture war against radical Islam by spreading liberal democracy? I don't know, but at least it's a plan. :) We definitely won't win the culture war solely by killing the radical Islamofascists because they are so good at the disinformation campaign in the Middle East that our kinetic action will inevitably create fodder for recruitment. It is impossible to fight an effective war where no innocent people get hurt. The enemy is very good at exploiting this with the receptive public in the Middle East. That is why the governance piece is so important -- it complements the combat action piece.

Read the rest.

Friday, November 25, 2005

No Taxation without Representation?

Austin Bay reports (along with many other sites) that at least four "insurgent" organizations are seeking "negotiations" with the Iraq government:

The four groups include the Islamic Army of Iraq, the 1920 Revolution Brigade, the Mujahedeen (moo-jah-hih-DEEN’) Army and al-Jamea Brigades. But the country’s most feared terror organization, al-Qaida in Iraq, is not among them. It and two other Islamic extremist groups are believed to have staged many suicide attacks.

While Bill Roggio reports on continuing operations in the Anbar province.

Ramadi, the capitol of Anbar province, has long been the focus of a struggle between Coalition forces and the insurgency. Recently, we discussed how the Coalition is attempting to address the Ramadi problem by slowing bringing in Iraqi troops and pairing them off with U.S. units, and trying to avert a full scale operation like the one conducted in Tal Afar.

Coalition forces continue to press small scale offensives in Ramadi, which are designed to target specific neighborhoods as well as outlying areas of the city. Mountaineers in the beginning of October was one such operation, designed to disrupt activity in the south of Ramadi, and gain control over a bridge crossing the river.

The most recent operation is Panther, which is aimed at the Sufia region of Eastern Ramadi. About 150 Iraqi Army Soldiers and 300 Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team [2BCT], 28th Infantry Division are involved in Panther, which is “a continuation of operations to capitalize on three key al Qaeda in Iraq insurgents captured in Ramadi, during the month of November.”

Powerline is reporting from another source that the Cairo conference seemed to have some interesting side lines from the State Department:

Hand it to Secretary of State Rice. She knows how to make lemonade out of lemons. When asked on CNN this week her reaction to a communique signed by Iraqi leaders on Monday that recognized a "legitimate right to resistance," she said, "I think what they were trying to do was to get a sense of political inclusion while recognizing that violence and terrorism should not be a part of resistance."[snip]

The State Department, according to Iraqi officials I've spoken with, put tremendous pressure on elected leaders to attend this parley in Cairo. And the see-no-evil reaction to the results of these deliberations suggests something potentially more ominous. The Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, for example, reports that American diplomats on the sidelines quietly pushed for the statement calling for an eventual timetable for withdrawal of American troops. And there are now new reports that Foggy Bottom in particular would like to build on the progress of the Arab League's renewed interest in Iraq and urge the armies of its member states to build a force to stabilize the country.

At the same time, Iraq the Model reports on new election laws which include representation by province (like the British model or close to the US representation established by state, but with only one house):

As you all know, Iraq was considered as one electoral circle in the last elections but this time it will be different; each 100,000 citizens will have one representative in the parliament and Iraq will be divided into 18 electoral circles (see numbers below), i.e. each province will constitute one circle and a certain number of seats will be allocated to each province/circle according to its population count.

Read the rest.

Is this a coincidence? I don't think so. There were two major concerns of the "legitimate" insurgency:

1) Being a minority with little representation in Parliament.

This was no small matter. As noted by Iraq the Model brother, Omar, the last two elections had Iraq as one big representative pool with all parties contesting all seats throughout Iraq. Which meant that it was a fore gone conclusion that the Shia and Kurdish parties would get the majority of seats in Parliament and the remaining seats would end up distributed between many smaller parties, some of which were still coalition parties with little representation from those Sunni areas currently contested.

The truth is, Sunni specific parties will most likely never have a majority in Parliament again. What they hope for is enough of the seats to become an effective and necessary coalition partner with one of the two major blocks in parliament or to have enough seats that the Kurdish and Shia blocks cannot achieve 2/3 votes necessary to pass laws without forming a coalition with or getting buy in from the Sunni representation from the major Sunni areas. This will force both parties to compromise with the Sunni "major minority", giving them the ability to achieve some of their demands and keep them from being ignored in the state hand out of ministries and money.

During the run up to the referendum in October, the distribution of oil profits to the provinces for projects and infrastructure was a point of contention. Resolution of this issue and probably the new election laws led to several Sunni parties giving the nod to their constituents to participate in elections. There were many hold out areas still in Anbar. With continuing military pressure eroding their forces and base of power and new election laws, it's apparent that these Sunni parties see the power that they had gained from boycotting the previous election slipping away. This was the leverage they used to get concessions to the constitution. Once the permanent, four year government is elected, if the Sunni actually boycott December elections, they will lose all leverage. The continuing improvement of Iraqi security forces means that they will be militarily defeated.

However, if they come on line now, they can stave off continued military erosion of their bases of power, allowing them to save face and become political power houses from their districts.

Which leads to the second major issue:

2) Amnesty for past and present actions.

These groups know that their hands are dirty from the Saddam era right through this "insurgency". They are dirty with the blood of Iraqis and Americans. They also know that there are certain groups, particularly the Shia, who are not quite ready to give them a pass. Steven Vincent wrote about the death squads up until his death in Basra. The Iraq Ministry of the Interior was recently raided and alleged "terrorists", all Sunni, were found to be malnourished, abused and possibly tortured.

The Iraq the Model blog has mentioned several times that, while many groups are demanding a time table for a US withdrawal, the Sunni may be shooting themselves in the foot since the US and coalition force presence keeps a lid on a potential over boiling pot of reprisals. In which case, the Sunni would greatly suffer. With indication that the US is going to withdraw forces and leave security largely to the Iraqis, these groups need to be legitimate and protected by the government. The only way that happens is if they join the political process and their region is seen as largely "peaceful".

Don't take this wrong, because it doesn't mean that violence is over. As noted, Al Qaida and a few homegrown Islamist organizations are not intent on negotiating. They still want either Iraq as a whole or some large area to set up their "emirate". Further, it's likely that small off shoot non-Islamist "militia" will continue some sort of violence ongoing until most of the Sunni feel comfortable in their protected minority status both politically, demographically and financially. Think "Israeli/Palestinian Conflict" or Sien Finn and the IRA with "legitimate" political parties using their arrangements with these groups to unleash occasional violence as leverage during tight political moments, with cessation of violence a negotiating tool.

Unfortunately for Iraq, this means that violence will stay inside their borders for years to come, with or without US forces. It may be that the violence is much more low key. Except for the Islamists. That's another story.

What's interesting is that this has probably been the plan for some time. Maybe since the end of the last elections. The administration has been accused of not articulating their plan very well. Looking at it from this near "end game" position, I'd say that they have been saying it in very general terms for sometime: seek political resolution while continuing military action. Also from this position, it's clear why they weren't articulating this plan with specifics.

Would you really telegraph your punches that much?

As Clausewitz once wrote, war is the continuation of politics. Or, better explained in his own words:

The more powerful and inspiring the motives for war,... the more closely will the military aims and the political objects of war coincide, and the more military and less political will war appear to be. On the other hand, the less intense the motives, the less will the military element's natural tendency to violence coincide with political directives. As a result, war will be driven further from its natural course, the political object will be more and more at variance with the aim of ideal war, and the conflict will seem increasingly political in character.*3

When people talk, as they often do, about harmful political influence on the management of war, they are not really saying what they mean. Their quarrel should be with the policy itself, not with its influence. If the policy is right—that is, successful—any intentional effect it has on the conduct of the war can only be to the good. If it has the opposite effect the policy itself is wrong.*4

As I've noted and so has Winds of Changes, this necessity has left the administration in a difficult position. Hands tied, taking punches from their political opponents, the Democrats, who must know both the plan and the administrations need to keep it on the down low.

This makes Rep. Murtha, not just an emotional vet suffering from PTS, but an extremely good political actor (I mean that in the Thespian sense).

The Sunni have played a good game, but it was always a losing game. What they were fighting for wasn't necessarily a return to Ba'athist Iraq, but, in a more refined concept of Michael Moore's "minute men", "no taxation without representation". We've always had a plan and we've seen it in play the last few months with elections and military action in Anbar. War as the continuation of politics.

It doesn't cure the Islamist problem. As noted, that can only be done through military means and that will include Iraqi military and security. I certainly wouldn't count them among the "minute men".

The Democrats have played a good game, but their strategy doesn't necessarily gain them an automatic win in 2006 or 2008. I disagree with Donald Sensing at Winds of Change that the Republicans, much less the president is "supine" on the mat. Not from a partisan position, but because all they have to do is get Iraq violence down to a minimum, keep the political momentum going in Iraq and start bringing home troops by June (or earlier) and they can claim a victory, recounting the strategy and pointing to the "victory" for many months to come prior to the election.

Even better, if they manage to kill or capture another major Al Qaida figure before next elections, they can count "big coup". Another recently noted that the Democrats may have played into "Rove's hands", by shooting all their ammunition too early in the game.

In short, we have a plan. It's working. We're winning.

The policy is good.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanks Giving Prayer

Lord, hear my prayer of Thanks Giving.

I thank you for allowing me to be born in the United States of America; in a land where I am free.

I thank you for providing food and shelter, when many have not.

I thank you for family who have ever stood by me in good times and bad, for the joy that we have shared and even the sorrow which reminds us to draw ever closer, to love even more and give thanks for the good times.

I thank you for friends, those I have met and those I have not yet, who have been supportive, who stand by me in my times of need, who bring happiness and laughter, shares a tear and have ever given a hand up when I've been down.

I thank you for the strangers who stand on guard here and on foreign soil, ever watchful, that protects this land and those I love.

I thank you for giving strength and courage to millions of men and women who have sought and received freedom.

I thank you for those who have sacrificed in the name of freedom that has given me the ability to say this praise in your name without fear, without hiding my faith in dark corners, but here, in the light, I say these words of thanks.

Lord, you have provided much for your humble servants, yet on this day of Thanks Giving I ask that you look down upon us and remember those who have not, those who are sorrowful and missing loved ones, those that mourn. Show them your mercy and comfort. Remind us to be your hands upon this earth and act accordingly towards our fellow man.

Remind us, Lord, to be ever thankful, to give a hand to our neighbors when they are down, to be humble when we are so blessed, to remember those who have yet to taste your bounty and the joy of freedom, to turn the other cheek, while remembering that we are our brother's keeper, to be ready to defend, but equally ready with the hand of peace.

In praise and Thanks Giving, I pray,


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies and Supporting the Troops

Going around the blog world, I have been unable to escape a continuing theme which continues to fall under a specious "nuanced" concept of "supporting the troops, but not the war". I believe that some folks have a genuine desire to support the troops, but argue over the need for war or the tactics used. I believe this is an extremely difficult, if not impossible line to walk. I believe that the difficulty of this concept is why those who make contrary and even abusive commentary are also so defensive about their positions, yelling about allegedly being called "unpatriotic" and "un-American" for espousing certain ideas. While most people have refrained from actually using those words against dissenters, I believe it is becoming more common, at least in the blog world, to start calling a spade a spade.

The discourse is particularly strident over several issues. From the one position, the claim is that the attacks are on the administration itself and its policies. From the other is the claim that such attacks are actually damaging the morale of the troops and actually amount to attacks on the soldiers themselves, therefore, the claim of "supporting the troops but not the war" is a false position. I believe that conscientious people from the "attack the administration" group know that they are, if not pushing the line, actually crossing it, but, from the need to have a clear conscience, deny it to themselves and others. They know that the American populace will not stand for Vietnam Veteran "baby killer" attacks full fledged or redux. It is a sure way to lose the general population.

From my perspective, these attacks do amount to attacks on the troops directly, whatever the "nuanced" intentions of the commenters and certainly, from an alleged veteran service member, the claims by Moulitsas at Daily Kos, who must surely know how the military works, cannot even pretend to such claims.

Take the latest claim that troops used white phospherous against civilian targets, that it was used as an incendiary anti-personnel weapon or that it is a chemical weapon. Recent comments have included not only these claims, but the weapon is contravened by the Geneva Conventions and that the Artillery Field Manual states that it is to be used against specific types of targets, but not as an anti-personnel weapon.

All of these things have been debunked many times. The reality is, in order to maintain that WP was used "illegally", you not only have to ignore any facts that preclude it as classified as a chemical weapon or ignore your own eyes when you see the video or pictures of what appears to be illumination rounds or WP applied as smoke (see above) or helicopter counter measures against heat seeking missiles exploding 100 to 200 ft above ground or even ignore the actual combat that took place, you would also have to believe that many, many soldiers were either complicit in the delivery of this weapon of their own free will. Or, that the soldiers were too stupid to know the rules and reasons why these weapons are used or not used. Or, that the soldiers are so cowed and/or brainwashed by the command structure that they "might" have recognized it as an illegal order, but could not exercise their own judgement and disobey an illegal order.

From the perspective of the would be "dissenter" from the war, this is not an attack on the soldiers. Some how the soldiers are absolved from all guilt or participation in these acts. They say that they are attacking the administration because the Pentagon, part of the administration, would have approved the attack on Fallujah in the first place, which is true enough, but, having already proven to be ignorant of weapons and their uses, they would also have to believe all of the things I listed above and believe that the Pentagon then gave specific orders or directives to use illegal weapons and that the Pentagon gave these orders regarding every target that WP was used against. That individual soldiers, squad, platoon and company commanders do not exercise their own initiative, but are in fact automatons that just march down the road firing at targets without making any tactical decisions, protecting themselves, other soldiers in the area or civilians that they encounter and know to be civilians. Which means, these same folks making the claims would be completely ignorant of battlefield tactics, how orders are relayed, and how specific weapons are selected to use against a target.

Let's face it, during the battle of Fallujah, it's not Don Rumsfield or some other Pentagon underling who is giving the direct order to fire on any specific target with any specific weapon and munitions to one of 20 or so officers in charge of artillary or even mortar fire teams. It just doesn't happen that way. It's the men on the ground who are identifying targets, relaying coordinates and asking for weapons and munitions to be deployed based on their assessment at the time. Soldiers and marines. It is soldiers who are loading the munition into the mortar tube or artillary piece to fire. It is soldiers who are pulling the trigger to deliver the weapon.

In order to absolve a soldier from complicity in these acts, one would have to be willing to believe they are ignorant or cowed. One would have to enact the "Nuremburg" defense and claim that these men were simply following orders. A defense which has long been proven as specious on its face because we have already determined that soldiers should and could exercise their own morality and judgement and disobey "illegal" orders. Even if that soldier feared retribution such as being placed in the stockade or tried for insubordination, we as a society have already determined that it is better to suffer such fate than to participate in "illegal" acts. The military actually spends quite some time on building the moral character of their soldiers by discussing ethics, illegal orders, the right to disobey them and proper actions to take. This occurs at boot camp and throughout other training. Officers in particular, during OCS, are provided additional training. So, it is not that any soldier does not know his responsibility.

But, it appears that very few, if any, soldiers did not disobey their orders. In fact, for the WP argument to be true, tens of thousands of soldiers, from the grunt on the front line to the artillary units to the command support units, to communications to the supply and logistics forces delivering the weapons and ammunition to the line untis, to the mess units that provide food and water, and on and on and on, would have to have been complicit in the act.

The argument that the "support the troops, but not the war" folks make claims that troops are absolved from guilt because they could not disobey orders and the conditions were set by the administration by ordering the prosecution of the war and, specifically, by giving permission or the order to attack Fallujah in the first place as is evinced by this article in the Guardian and stated in other op-eds in the United States, protesters and around the blog world.

The point is, you can't claim to "support the troops but not the war" and then claim that illegal acts occured without casting guilt on the soldiers or painting them as stupid automatons. Either way, it's an insult and an offense.

What's extremely hilarious is that many of these same groups will refer to the President and his administration as fascist Nazis, but are willing to, not only accept, but actively provide the "Nuremburg" defense of "just following orders" for the military because they know that they must provide some cover for themselves in the arena of public opinion.

Either the troops are guilty along with the administration or neither is guilty.

Thus, spreading lies and damn lies, knowingly or unknowingly (largely knowingly I would argue), is not just an attack on the administration, but does constitute an attack on the military in general and all soldiers specifically involved in the action.

Let's call a spade a spade. You can be a liar, a damn liar, or, you can support the troops.

hat tip Mudville Gazette

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Odds and Ends

Don't forget to vote for me at Aaron's CC for the suit of spades. This is for those blogs that call a spade a spade, bringing attention to specific subjects like Islamism, terrorism and the Iraq war.

Today's suggested reading:

Michael Yon has some pictures up that are a must see.

Editorial in Jordanian Times:

The sleeping tragedy had been ticking all along like a time-bomb. For too long we have tolerated elements in our society whose poisonous ideology had been tirelessly feeding a destructive culture of hate and death to schoolchildren and adults alike. For too long we have refused to admit that the seeds of hatred have been sown in the classrooms and in the mosques by disturbed clergymen who have been let loose on our society to drown it in oceans of twisted interpretations of an otherwise great, compassionate religion. This is why the chickens have come home to roost.

For a moment I had a case of schadenfreud when I read this:

But rest assured that they still incubate the same vicious beliefs that moulded the likes of Zarqawi and graduated his army of suicidal maniacs (thank you, by the way, George and Tony, for removing the sewage lid and unleashing on our region the most uncontrollable vermin known to mankind).

My first reaction was, "Your Welcome. Just returning the favor." But, then, I thought that, while this gentleman may still want to lay a little blame away on someone else, I think that, in our shared world where everyone is a target, these types of sentiments do nothing but put a wedge between us. In the entire editorial, this is the only section I disagreed with. Largely because, there are circumstances in the region that led up to Islamist terrorism that are directly or indirectly related to the culture, politics and religion of the region that may or may not be related to American policies in that region. But, from this perspective, I think we need to get over the blaming of which ever outside parties and place it squarely on the shoulders of terrorists, because, in the end, they recruit the men (and now women), they create the bombs, they pick the targets and they pull the trigger.

It is the terrorist that decides to throw away all morality and murder non-combatant citizens of all countries and all faiths in the name of a goal, establishing the caliphate or nationalistic Islamic state, which is unattainable accept in fantasies. The question of Islamist terrorism is not really whether these people who commit the crimes are delusional and insane. Somewhere, deep down, they know it is unachievable, thus, the murders of innocents are not "war" as an extension of a political policy, but murder for the sake of murder. It's murder because their chosen targets are almost always civilians; men, women and children without a uniform, without a weapon to defend themselves, without any real connection to a military endeavor. These are no accidental killings, but specifically aimed at the softest and least defended in society.

So, whether they are civilians in Amman, Jordan; Khaneqin, Iraq; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; London, England; New York, New York; Madrid, Spain, they are all victims and the only people responsible for their deaths are the murderers. That is something that we are going to have to agree on sooner or later if we are going to confront this deadly phenomenom as a united front instead of wary allies.

Read also Jordanians Protest Bombings: 200,000 in the streets

Winds of War Weekly Update

Winds of Change: Iraq Update

Monday, November 21, 2005

As I Was Saying: Grand Standing On A Given

In an earlier post, I said I thought the Democrat party was grand standing on troop withdrawal because it was already known when and what kind of withdrawal will occur and they want to take credit for making it happen.

Well, read and know I am the mistress! Or, at least find out what kind of troop scale backs will be occuring in Iraq in 2006 through 2008. I'm no logistician, but, if I know the military, these plans have existed for many months if not a year or more. Largely because the military draws up multiple plans for given situations that depend on certain standards, status and threats. When a situation meets those standards, it is put in play. Since it takes time to get assetts in place or re-deployed, these plans have probably been in play and known to such folks like the House Arms Committee and its Senate sister who have to approve budgets and funds for the expenditures.

Don't imagine for one minute that every Democrat on the hill is standing on some sort of bizarre principle demanding troop withdrawal. The words: Politician and Principle should really never be used or intimated in a sentence together. The world might actually collapse.

One might wonder why the Republicans don't just come out and say this truth? Maybe, just once, they really mean it when they say they don't want to tell the enemy our plans? Or, maybe, they really mean it when they say that improved Iraq security forces means less American forces?

Nah...that couldn't be it, could it?

hat tip Mudville Gazette

Terrorism Inc: How To Be A Successful Terrorist

By Dr. Ayman "Eichman" Al Zawahiri
Commentary by Osama "Who's Your Mama" bin Laden and "Z-Man" Al Zarqawi


Are you down and out? Did you graduate from university, but can't find a job? Are you living in your mother's basement and hanging at the souq all day? Do you have to beg your father for money just to get a few hits of the hookah? Do you see yourself going nowhere? Do you believe that it is somebody else who is responsible for your condition? Have you prayed to Allah (pbuh) for assistance, but all you hear is silence punctuated by the laughter of the young girls in half shirts and talking on their cell phones?

If this sounds familiar, then we have a unique opportunity for you. We want you to join our global franchise: Terrorism Inc. This unique opportunity will not last forever. Terrorists come and go, but a successful terrorist lives on forever.

We at Terrorism Inc. have perfected methods to make our graduates household names, teach them how to take advantage of charitable institutes to provide wealth to live from with little work in exchange, how in influence politicians, policies, the media and citizens around the world. Just purchase our two disc CD package for $29.99 and you will learn the secrets of a successful terrorist. Read further and we'll reveal three of our top secrets that will convince you that our methods work.

Selecting the Right Enemy:

1) Your enemy should be very big and strong. No one is going to pay attention to you if you try to over throw the government of Fiji even if Fiji is your ultimate destination. A terrorist must earn his "props" and it can only be done by striking at a much larger enemy. Once you have these "props", you can over throw the government of Fiji easily just from fear, requiring few men and little money. Or, if you prefer, France would make an excellent destination, but not the primary enemy. Remember: think big.

OBL: A bigger enemy will make you look like the underdog. No one would believe that a small group of men would be so foolish as to strike a larger enemy first. They will look at your enemy and imagine that the bigger enemy must be a bully that has done somethng grievous to provoke such a reaction from a much smaller group or person. This will help you gain "sympathy" in other countries; something that is quite necessary in our later lessons.

Z-Man: When you are classified the "underdog" by the world at large, you can committ all sorts of attrocities against anyone you like and the world will believe that it is the only tactics open to you because of your "size". The people you kill don't even have to be your stated enemy. You can issue statements later that whoever you killed are "collaborators" with your enemy, even if they are a different nationality or have never spoken to, worked for or visited a citizen of the country much less their government. As the "underdog" they will forgive you anything. For instance, you can tie up helpless men and women and cut off their heads, on camera, and send it out to the world. Those who see it will just say, "well, they have no choice" or they will blame it on the victim for being in a "war zone". You can blow up bus loads of children, people praying at mosques or churches, blow up a wedding, kidnap and torture old men and send retarded children into a crowd to committ "suicide" with an explosive vest.

The tactics and sheer cruelty you can get away with will amaze you. Everyone of them will add to your mystique as a terrorist.

2) Your enemy should be a democracy. Committing terrorist activities in a police state or where the leader has total authoritarian power is very dangerous. They do not have any constraints like "morality" against tracking down, torturing or killing you or your followers. Also, the people in such a country may be more afraid of the authoritarian leader than they are of you which will keep them from helping you by providing safe houses, food, money or routes to smuggle arms and men.

OBL: If you choose an authoritarian state as your enemy, your scope and appeal will be limited. You want the widest audience and the most sympathy. Committing terrorist acts against ordinary people in an authoritarian state will only seem as bad as the actions of the state against helpless people and will diminish your appeal. It is better to choose a country that is free and open, that prides itself on "free thought" and "due process of the law". This way it is likely that, no matter what cause you raise your banner under, there will always be people who will entertain your reasons and cause as just. This is very important when we teach you how to use propaganda against your enemy, one of the most important tools in your arsenal.

We will teach you how to use "due process of the law" to your advantage by making legal claims against the country you attacked. You or your attorney will be able to make many speeches in court and to the press that will keep you in the media and confuse your enemy about whether you are truly their enemy or a criminal. They can't resist applying their culture and way of life to your ideas. The more outrageous the claims, the more likely they will be believed and the more likely you will get attention from the media. You will also be able to co-op many of these groups to your cause. Even if you repeatedly state you will kill these groups too as an enemy to your own idea, they will refuse to believe you. These groups you will use until you have met most of your goals. Save them until the last to kill. If you kill members of these groups too early, you may cause them to doubt your cause and lose an important advantage in propaganda and useful fools that will give you monetary and material assistance.

Z-man: If all else fails and you are unable to actually attack the democratic country directly, you can choose an unrelated country or a country with some sort of ties with your enemy, even if that country has strong opposition to whatever your enemy has done in the past or is doing now. This country can be either another democratic "free" country or a state with an open monarchy. The important thing is that the country is relatively open to allow you to travel in or out, to make contacts with other groups and where you can get the useful fools to help you kill their fellow citizens. It will be very exciting to see the look of shock and surprise on the faces of the useful idiots when you bomb them. What's even better is that, even after you bomb them, there will still be useful idiots that will believe you had every right and good cause to do so. As I said, they will forgive you anything.

3) Your enemy should have a history of strong partisan political opposition in government. In a police state, the leader makes a decision and no one questions it because no one can take the leader from power as long as he has the military, police and other government institutions under his control. When there are elections and partisan opposition, the opposition will do anything to win back the power of leadership and government institutions.

OBL: When an enemy has strong partisan opposition and the reins of power frequently change hands, even if they think that you are a dangerous enemy, because you are small compared to them, the opposition out of power will believe that they have time to come to power and prosecute their own war against you. Because of this, they will use more of their time trying to force the reins of power from their opposition than cooperating to take action against you. This will give you much time to consolidate your forces and resources. You will also be able to use your time to identify states, usually police states, that consider themselves the enemy of your enemy or, at least, have no use for democracy. These states will help you with money and materials.

Z-Man: An enemy with a well entrenched partisan opposition can be used to your advantage. Your words and actions will inspire them to make many speeches against their opposition. You can adopt the slogans of the opposition in your propaganda and press releases. This will make the partition of the forces easy; making it sound like the partisan opposition is siding with your cause. It will make your enemy appear weak, make you seem more successful than you are and will bring more men, money and materials to your cause. The entire time, the opposition will believe they are not playing into your hands. The enjoyment from this effort will be worth all the pain of dealing with the media who will constantly be looking for your next spectacular attack to help raise their ratings, giving you free air time that would otherwise have cost you billions of dollars.

OBL: It will also confuse your enemy so much that they will think that the strong response against you by the party in power is not working. The partisan opposition will continue to work against any actions taken by the party in power, making it appear so weak that, when or if the opposition party comes to power, they will have to do something completely different in order to not appear to be following in the tracks of the previous party. Generally, this means they will go back to doing small police actions against you, giving you time to relax, re-enforce your position, gather your forces and build a small enclave that we like to call "the emirate" where you will be able to build and train your forces in relative security and calm before taking the next action.

Z-man: The best part about it is that the waxing and waning of power and tactics means that you can make it "an endless, bloody war", killing, maiming, stealing and living the life of adventure for many years to come.

A special message from Dr. Zawahiri:

This is what makes our program such a success story. It creates a long term career in a niche market that has little competition, but many perks including having your name in the history books.

These are only three of our tried and true methods. We will teach you our other many tactics learned from over twenty five years in business. The two CD package will include:

How to co-op causes by choosing the proper ambiguous over all cause.

Like "Arab Oppression" even if the oppression is at the hands of the Arabs, you can always claim it is somebody else's fault.

How to present a plan to rectify the selected "problem" with little work or effort.

This plan will also be very vague so no one can pick it apart and point to what is "wrong". Also, when you institute this plan, you can make it up as you go because you have given very limited guide lines. No one can accuse you of lying.

How to make your cause and forces seem larger than they really are.

This tactic has worked from ancient history to modern warfare. By choosing the right tactics, co-opting causes, contracting out actions to other organizations and making attacks in multiple locations, your enemy will believe that you are thousands, if not tens of thousands, strong.

Using your enemy's "morality" against them, even if you have no morality yourself.

This section will tell you how to use the "useful idiots" and the media to point out every mistake of your enemy. This is an extremely successful propaganda technique against a much larger enemy. Because you are the "underdog" you are allowed 200 atrocities for every one of their mistakes taht results in the death or maiming of innocents. We will teach you how to use this to your advantage, how to use "useful idiots" and the media to spred the word; subcontracting work to actors to stage events and even committing actions yourself that you can get the "useful idiots" and the media to present as the work of your enemy.

Learn more about becoming a successful terrorist when you buy our two CDs for only $29.99.

Act now and we will throw in two bonus CDs:

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This CD will show you how to use basic computer programs to create pamphlets, fliers, press releases, manuals, web pages, videos and press releases to enhance your propaganda program.

Al Qaida's Greatest Hits

This CD will contain some of the best attacks by our graduated students from flying planes into buildings to beheadings, car bombs, mosque bombs, torture sessions and many more.

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Secial Thanks to:

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Michael Moore
Internatinal A.N.S.W.E.R.
Cindy Sheehan
Code Pink
The Muslim Student Association
The American Congress

Sunday, November 20, 2005

On The Campaign Trail...

My fellow bloggers, readers and occasional commenters:

It has come to my attention that I have failed to announce my nomination for, not one, but two awards; both of which require votes from my kind friends and readers. Thus, I am compelled by gratitude for the nominations and sheer vanity to request your assistance in promoting my humble blog.

The first nomination is for a blog card from Aarons CC. I've been nominated for a card from the suit of spades, for calling a spade a spade. In this case, for looking at and talking about the dangers of Islamism, the history of Islam and the rise of Islamism and the war on terror, including Iraq. My friend Ala at Blonde Sagacity nominated me and I thank her for believing that anything I write here is worthy of an award. It's humbling to know that someone thinks I have anything of importance to say on the matter, that anyone reads this blog. I'm no where near as big or widely read as some of the other blogs up for nomination, but, I don't write the blog to become famous. Rather, I write it as the voice in me that just wants to yell out into the world once in a while, to let people know I'm here, I'm paying attention, I'm thinking and I will not go quietly without raging against the dying of the light.

The essence of blogging, yes?

So, please take a moment and go look over the blog if you're new here or, if you've read here before and you enjoy it, click over to Aarons CC and vote for The Middle Ground.

Which brings me to my next nomination. I have been nominated for a Weblog Award. I looked at the list of bloggers that have been nominated along with me and I am humbled once again to be in such great company. Nominations close at the end of the week and voting will begin on or after November 26. All things considered, with the company on the list, that I'd even come close to making the top 15 finalists is probably reaching, but I hope that you will do me the distinct honor of voting for me. Or, just as good, nominate one of your favorite blogs in any of the categories. I have been nominated in the "best blog" category. I saw LGF and the Rott on the list, just to name a few. My hope is to be a stealth candidate that everyone sees on the list and says: WTF?

Just a few more thoughts on blogging and the topic I chose. I believe that blogging is very much in the fashion of real democracy where you have competing ideas that previously had very few routes through which they could and would be filtered. Which means that it was controlled and many good ideas never saw the light of day in the public forum or political houses unless you were willing to join some lobbying group or political party, even when their agenda didn't completely match yours, just for the chance that one idea might get a voice and be accepted.

Today, this public forum returns us back, if ever so small, to the days of the Agora, to the public forums of the first democracies, where any citizen could speak his or her mind and the best ideas won out by being the best and by the ability of the speaker to state his or her case, taking the appeal, not to the towers of power, but to the people themselves, reminding them that they are the power that allows the towers to stand. And, where you can write a run on sentence without being heckled from the hallowed halls of public policy by avant academia, elitist politicians or gestapo editors.

For those who have or have not read here before, I came to blogging a year after we invaded Iraq because, like so many others, the voices on the radio, on the cable networks and the words in the papers, just didn't tell me what I needed to know. I needed to know because my brother is in the military and was on stand by so I needed to know where he was going, what he'd be doing and what he was facing. Fortunately, for our family, he didn't go, but I realized many other families were not as lucky. I realized that I had supported the war before and I had to support it then, to make sure that it was done, not just for those families whose sons and daughters have taken up the fight or paid the price, but for the 2987 who died on 9/11, for the 300 million who live in this country and for all those millions more who might look out over the horizon and be reminded that tyranny is not forever. Tyranny is opposed and, if sometimes we are slow and too complacent to always act on that principle, we still hold it, we don't forget them and, someday, tyranny will fall in their land, too.

I started by just commenting at Iraq the Model. It was satisfying to know that there were others out there that believed as I did. It was gratifying to read a comment that said, "good idea", "excellent point", etc. It was exhilerating to argue the point with another who did not agree. I wanted more time and space to put my thoughts together so I started to blog. A year later I realized that it was a truly freeing experience. Somewhere, a mile away or in Africa, India, Iraq, Australia, Russia or some country in South America that few know how to locate on the map, somebody is reading a blog and sharing an idea or two or ten in the speed of light.

I realized that I wanted to join this effort.

After 9/11, I realized that we had become complacent. Not just about terrorism, but about the whole idea of freedom and democracy. It didn't just happen over night. It's been happening for years if not decades, with the sharpest most marked decline actually beginning after the fall of the USSR. It was as if that was the last wall we had to knock down between freedom and tyranny. Because it was so high and so difficult, we couldn't see the other walls after that. Blinded by the sudden sunlight, we couldn't see the obstacles in front of us and we didn't look back to remember the way behind us. We didn't remember that freedom is about constant struggle. We didn't remember that it was never easy. We didn't remember that no tyrannt gives up power because it is the right thing to do.

We didn't remember that there is always some little corporal who thinks that he knows what is best for the world and he will make it happen by building a utopia. They believe utopia can exist if only it has the right people and the right rules to govern it. The utopia invariably begins by first outlawing all the things that people believe are bad or dangerous for utopia. In utopia, things that were once good for a free country like, diversity, free thought, invention and competition, are now bad, because you cannot maintain utopia unless all the people think alike. When free thought raises it's head in utopia, the masters of utopia must stomp it out along with all those who look, think or talk differently than the blue print of utopian humanity.

First, they do it in the dark, in the quiet where no one sees. Then, when no one says anything, when no one stops them, they do it in the light of day. They cull the utopians even more. Because no one stops them from doing it in the light of day, they decide that everyone beyond their utopia is weak so they begin to search out and expand the borders of their utopia, until, one day, the outside world wakes up to find the bloody, evil hell of utopia is on their doorstep.

When I read the words of Qutb, Zawahiri, bin Laden and Zarqawi, when I saw the inside of Saddam's Iraq, and hear the words of Amenejid in Iran, I realize that the world will never be free of little corporals trying to create a shiny illusion of utopia that hides a rotten core. I realize that the free world must be vigilant and must always struggle to stay free; to stand ready to help those that are struggling to be free and to give hope to those who have not yet realized they have the power to throw off their chains.

Maybe that sounds melodramatic. But, I am a student of history and the world has a way of ignoring the little corporals with their nightmarish dreams of utopia until it's too late and the nightmare can only be beaten back at great cost to humanity. So, here I am, blogging, mentally manning the barriers, occasionally handing out my version of the pamphlet, reminding people not to ignore the words of little corporals, the screams in the dark of night or the murders in the light of day.

Thank you and I hope you will vote for me.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

An Evening With the Lord and Lady

Friday evening I went to dinner with John and Beth at Outback Steakhouse. It was quite fun. The truth is, I haven't been out much in the last few months and, as an event to break the doldrums, this was quite exceptional.

I felt sorry for John. We sat at the bar, taking up a corner, Beth to the left and me to the right. Who knew we were such talkers? Er..unless you read here and note my long posts. I have a lot to say and it's not just in writing. I saw a few men giving John looks of sympathy (or maybe envy? wishfull thinking?).

Strangely, we only spent a few minutes talking about war, military and blogging. Oh, and shooting of course, we did talk about that. A brief mention about how close some of us are and this is the first time we've met. I have to say that I'm planning to meet these folks a little more often. That is, if they don't close the castle doors and briing down the portucolis.

One thing about the Lord and Lady of the castle, they make friends wherever they go and the Outback is no exception. They were on first name basis with the bartenders and waitresses. No wonder the caslte is never short of denizens.

The only rough part about the evening was, after only one glass of wine, I heard myself saying the "F" word and a few other words more often than I normally would. Who knew one glass of merlot would smash the language inhibitions so fast?

Okay, who am I kidding?

I just want to say, "thanks, John and Beth, it was a great evening and I can't wait to do it again. Or attend that blog meet we've been skirting around." ;)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Grand Standing

As I read one of my favorite milblogs this morning, I note some interesting things that aren't being reported (much):

The United States and coalition forces will likely reduce the number of troops in Iraq next year, Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Saturday.
"I've discussed the pullout possibilities with Secretary Rumsfeld and we agree on the future course. We are optimistic about the buildup of Iraqi forces to cope with the situation," he said.

So, are Democrats just making noises so that next year, when the troop draw down begins they can take credit?


The point is, we don't go until the job is done and the job is not done until Iraq's forces and government are capable of handling most of the insurgency, leaving us to deal with the Islamists, which will probably be done by special forces and intel units that will stay in Iraq for sometime. But, I imagine that we aren't planning to keep 135k in Iraq for the next five years. I also suspect that civil affairs units will stay and help Iraq get on its feet for awhile longer before turning it over to NGOs.

That's been the plan all along, even if certain Senators and Representatives refuse to acknowledge it because, to get political benefit, they have to say that Iraq was a disaster and not a win. Particularly after they've been talking it down for two years.

Support the troops? Nah. I don't think these folks really care if they make the troops feel like they lost or fought for nothing as long as November 2006 they can use it to get elected. And, hey, so what if Zarqawi and bin Laden think they won and use it to recruit more terrorists to bomb us and our allies. We can always lob a tomahawk some time in the future.

hat tip: Mudville

Mom, Be My Voice...

From Sgt. Hook:


Be my voice. I want this message heard. It is mine and my platoon’s to the country. A man I know lost his legs the other night. He is in another company in our batallion. I can no longer be silent after watching the sacrifices made by Iraqis and Americans everyday.Send it to a congressman if you have to. Send it to FOX news if you have to. Let this message be heard please…

My fellow Americans, I have a task for those with the courage and fortitude to take it. I have a message that needs not fall on deaf ears.

hat tip:Mudville Gazette

With All Due Respect, He's Wrong

Murtha makes a totally emotional plea to bring the troops home. With all due respect for this man's previous service, it does not make him any more knowledgabe or omniscient about the conduct of the war or matters of national security. Frankly, his plea was couched in terms that were repeatedly calls to consider the wounded, that the soldiers are suffering and that their job is done so they should come home.

I'm reminded of Greyhawk at Mudville who says that it's the soldier who wants peace more than others could understand. I am also reminded of Wilfred Owens and Sasoon who wrote poetry after WWI that was about war with little ideas of romance or nobility, except maybe the nobility they imparted the dead in a futile endeavor. Both of those men had signed up as it was their patriotic duty. Wilfred at times was able to separate his duty and his pride as a leader from his disgust at war, but, all the same it was the soldier he always came back to, not the political or security question. He never really thought of that.

I suppose, for most soldiers, that's what it's like in the trenches. But, when you are an elected official, your job is supposed to be able to represent your constituents, all of them, in all facets of government. You're supposed to be able to identify, assess and make decisions on far broader precepts than the pain of war. Now, it's possible that Senator Murtha has thought about all of those other precepts: national security, protection of citizens (even civilians), economics, military and politcal position within the world body. But, we are also the embodiment of all of our experiences and, with all due respect to the Senator, I believe that he is projecting his experiences instead of evaluating the situation and making good decisions on behalf of all of his constituents.

Let me address a few points:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us.

There is an illusion and it is largely about the condition of Iraq. Without fooling ourselves, there is an insurgency. It is largely Iraqi, but a small and vicious islamist contingent that is better trained and more capable of pulling of large VBIED and Suicide bombings. There are terrorists or, better yet, proxies from Syria and Iran, but they hardly constitute the type of insurgency saw during Vietnam because these states are no where near the ability of China or Russia to intervene and supply. They are just capable enough of making it painful, not of defeat. The

American people are tired. They've been at war for four years. They only see explosions, counts of American wounded and dead and reports about other killings which are routinely portrayed as part of an insurgency, that is really about gangs, criminals and, yes, sectarian battles. No one really knows the condition of the country. There are vast areas that are totally pacified and attempting to return to "normal". However, it doesn't mean that we can pretend those other areas don't exist. It just means that the condition of the war is not only about on going battles, but those that are complete. Probably the worse thing about this, and the worse thing about Senator Murtha's comment is that it totally ignores any obligation to the Iraqi people.

My question to him is: How many times should we abandon the Iraqis and then expect that they will be friendly towards us?

My question is serious because, when we leave, Zarqawi and his ilk will be setting up base in the Anbar providence and, I, I hope, that Sen. Murtha is not suggesting that we should not pursue this terrorist. What sort of reaction should we expect from our abandoned allies? Cooperation? What sort of government will be in place (if at all) when we leave? We left the Shia to be massacred and now we may leave the entire country to whatever fate, solely so we can pretend we are at peace.

I'm going to go out of order of his comments and address this issue here, since it is germaine to all other arguments:

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify.

First, the mission of our military was not just to topple Saddam. The point of the mission was to remove the threat posed by Iraq as a state with WMD and a state who had made overt contacts and contracts with terrorist organizations, now the major threat to our national security. Saddam as an opponent or emobidiment of that threat was truly secondary to the threat posed by the terrorist connection, however debated that maybe and however depleted, though not totally destroyed, his WMD program was. Now, the condition of Iraq still constitutes a threat to our security either in the potential for an Iranian dominated Shia government or as a weak government that cannot combat its insurgency and where terrorist organizations currently do, and certainly will, thrive in the condition of anarchy. Either in the entirity of Iraq or in any single or combination of provinces.

Further, it presents a security risk to our allies in the region, more than just a current hotbed for Islamist terrorists that may or may not make it out of Iraq to return to their representative countries, but as a chaotic state where, in fact should we leave, terrorist organizations will set up permanent and uncontested bases of operation to spread their ideology and terrorism to neighboring states. It happens now. The mind boggles at the probability for attacks and Islamist revolutions in neighboring states completely de-stabilizing the area.

Then, not only will we have failed the Iraqi people, but we will have actually failed our allies and all those who seek to live in peace in the middle east. This would pose an incredible "threat" to the United States, the elimination of which was the goal of our mission.

Thus, I must disagree with Senator Murtha that our mission is "accomplished" though I will agree that our military has done and continues to do its duty.

For all other answers, all I've got to say is, "read Mudville. He has answered the question of recruitments, wounded, deployments, attacks and many others for the last two monts (read November and October Archives). Any number can be used and turned to state a conclusion the speaker has already drawn.

An answer from McCain

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Al Qaida's War For Oil (and Other Things)

If we are to understand the Islamist strategy, we need to get beyond such standard fare as "they hate us for our freedoms". They do and it is well documented that adherents of the Islamist doctrine feel that freedom is antithetical to morality. They do want to create a society where they can enforce their puritanical ideology on politics and society. But, that's not all they want. Yes, they want to create the "caliphate" where in they can practice this ideology. Yes, they believe they cannot have this utopia while the US is powerful enough to interfere with its development and it is a given, after all of the attacks that the US has suffered from extremists in the last thirty years, that the US would view the development of such a state a threat to national security. Iran is quite enough and at least has some concept of real politics that has maintained the balance until Iran began looking for "the bomb". Even then it is for purely secular goals of power in the region and, in some regards, protection of the future of their own Islamist state.

So, the Islamists are correct in the regard that more radical nation states would be considered a threat. However, by limiting the discussion to simply ideological concepts and the danger of state supported fanaticism, it hides the very secular and, shall we say "imperialistic" and "capitalistic" nature of the Islamist goals. The final goal, the destruction or subjugation of the west economically and militarily, would be icing on the cake. However, before they get there, there are many steps in between and a very long road towards such an accomplishment.

Tiger Hawk has re-evaluated Steven Den Bestes 2003 strategic overview. While I believe he did a decent job of a basic overview, the areas I was disappointed with had to do with Steven offering the "standard fare" for the Islamist strategy and causalities. However, he did list two important areas that are the basis for my additions:

According to Princeton's Michael Scott Doran (now on the National Security Council), al Qaeda's strategy is to "vex and exhaust" the apostate Muslim regimes and the United States, their principal sponsor:

    So where does the war stand now, according to al Qaeda? A leading al Qaeda operative has written a book, the title of which translates loosely to “The Management of Chaos.” According to al Qaeda, the current stage of revolution is the stage of “vexation and exhaustion” of the enemy. They have a notion of how to do this to the Americans and to their 'puppets'.

    You vex and exhaust the Americans, according to al Qaeda, by making them spend a lot of money. The United States is a materialist society, and if forced to spend too much money it will “cut and run.”[snip]

    In addition, al Qaeda wants to force Americans to carry the war into the heartland of the Middle East. There are two reasons why al Qaeda sought an American invasion in the Middle East. First, it will be very costly for the United States and will therefore drain our treasury. Second, bringing the war to the heartland will have a polarizing effect within Muslim society.

A few points on the last: just because Al Qaida hopes and plans for us to do something and expects a certain outcome, does not mean that we don't do it. In many respects, it is why Iraq was a favored target for the US. Iraq was the rogue state of the ME and already had a long list of offenses. He was at least a neutral foe. However, I believe that we agreed with Al Qaida that a war in the Muslim backyard would have a "polarizing effect" and we were counting on it.

Now, I want to get to the "vex and exhaust" part of the analysis. From this excerpt (and I have not read or seen all of Doran's analysis or lectures) it would seem that this is focusing on the military cost as if the over all strategy simply relies on stretching our military thin and ramping up costs of fighting to deflate or destroy our economy and, thus, our ability to continue fighting. I think that this is true to an extent, but far too narrow a view of the over all strategy.

I've used this map before to explain the global nature of the war. Wherever a red dot appears a terrorist attack or continuing Islamist battle or an Islamist movement exists. By no means does this map represent all of the attacks, on going battles or organizations. Certainly, the western hemisphere is not represented showing Islamist activities in the US, Canada and South America. Certainly, this represents an extensive battle front that, were we facing it alone, the costs would be more than prohibitive. Fortunately, many states have their own survival at stake so we can rely on assistance from them, but, as pointed out, the Islamists are hoping that the over all strategy will exhaust our allies as well.

But, it is hard to see why we should be concerned about Islamist movements in Kashmir or Bangledesh or Sri Lanka or even Thailand for that matter. Those would appear to be regional with little economic or direct security impact.

This is a map of the Ottoman Empire (caliphate) at the height of its power from the 15th to early 18th century. It's power was not derived simply by military might. As you can see by the map to the left of the legendary "silk road", it controlled major maritime and land routes, vast amounts of raw resources including base metals, precious metals, precious and semi-precious gems, grain, rice, cotton or muslin, ink, silk, precious woods, papyrus (for making paper), tea and even part of the opium trade (just to name a few). The wealth of the empire helped to produce some of the major changes in medicine, engineering, literature, basic science and philosophy. All this long before the discovery of patroleum.

By the late 17th century, the Ottoman empire began to be reduced in size by slow inroads on territory from other states and by localized revolts of indigenous populations. French, British, Spanish and Italian colonial expansion chipped away in India, Indo-china and the Philipines, then on to Africa.

Today, Islamist organizations are attempting to regain power in many of these states. And, just like centuries past, these states sit on top of some of the world's largest natural resources and straddles the world's busiest maritime routes. The map on the right shows modern maritime routes that follow the same path as the "silk road" routes with the exception that the Suez Canal has greatly reduced the number of days that it takes to bring products and energy resources to Europe, Russia, Australia, Japan, China and the United States to name a few.

60% of Daily Oil Production is moved via seaborne tankers. Approximately 70% of that oil comes from OPEC nations which produces approximately 30% of the worlds oil. 75% of the worlds natural gas reserves are in the middle east. The EIA indicates major "choke points" and security risks:

...the Strait of Hormuz leading out of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca linking the Indian Ocean (and oil coming from the Middle East) with the Pacific Ocean (and major consuming markets in Asia). Other important maritime "chokepoints" include the Bab el-Mandab passage from the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea; the Panama Canal and the Panama Pipeline connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans; the Suez Canal and the Sumed Pipeline connecting the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea; and the Turkish Straits/Bosporus linking the Black Sea (and oil coming from the Caspian Sea region) to the Mediterranean Sea. "Chokepoints" are critically important to world oil trade because so much oil passes through them, yet they are narrow and theoretically could be blocked -- at least temporarily. In addition, "chokepoints" are susceptible to pirate attacks and shipping accidents in their narrow channels.

60% of the world's cotton is produced by China, Russia and the United States. India accounts for 14% of the world's production and 6% of imports. Pakistan and Uzbekistan are re-emerging as major players in the market. Asia is the fastest growing consumer of cotton. China accounts for 25% of the worlds consumption in steel while producing only 20% of the worlds steel. Japan is the worlds largest net exporter of steel with Russia running a close second. The fastest growing consumers of steel is Central and South America. What does this mean? Again, large amounts of raw materials are produced and shipped from and through the contested areas. Chemicals, paper, and rubber (Asia produces 85% of all rubber; Thailand is the largest single producer) just to name a few. Food, grain, clothing, technology, military supplies and many others traverse this area daily. Over 50% of the worlds seaborne tonnage goes through the Indian Ocean-East Asian maritime routes. All of which is intertwined with every existing and emerging economy as well as every industry, military and daily living.

In terms of national security and world economic stability, when people talk about disengaging from the Middle East and diversified energy technology as a way to minimize our exposure and reduce the threat from Islamic extremist terrorism, it is a very narrow, short sighted view that does not address either the over all dangers or the over all strategy of the Islamist movements and terrorism.

The long term goals of this movement is known. They seek to create an Islamic Caliphate or state that would encompass the original area of the caliphate at the height of its power. They seek to accomplish this goal by supporting Islamist movements through out these areas with the intent of creating slow (or quick) erosion and take over of the most vulnerable states. Even if all of the states within the area do not "flip" to Islamism, the creation of Islamic states in key areas would drastically change the control of key materials, production and maritime routes. If these Islamic states make economic and security compacts with one another, it would formulate the seeds of a wider "caliphate" and potentially dominate neighboring states, not to mention create whole new paradigms for inter-state and international conflict. Any and all movements in this direction could and would be used to damage or control world economics, specifically western economics.

This, as President Bush has said regarding freedom and democracy, would be the work of generations. Something that is recognized and expected by the Islamists when Zawahiri said in his last letter that they will "pass the banner" to the Islamic youth. Events such as economic depression, regional conflicts and even withdrawal of US troops that allows Iraq to de-stabilize and Islamists to establish an enclave within the borders, could speed up the achievement of these long term goals.

In the short term, reviewing the contested areas, maritime routes, materials and production, the strategy to "vex and exhaust" the United States, its allies and other target states, does not require the actual take over of any one state and does include a wider economic strategy beyond "military" or "political" cost. Generally, these movements only require that the area or country stays in turmoil, thus increasing the cost of production, exporting, importing and transporting goods as well as securing ports. For instance, 18 of 20 highest volume container ports are in South East Asia. Basically, the strategy of "a thousand cuts".

This is one of the reasons that the United States and allies are engaged in providing financial, material and military support to states like Indonesia and the Philipines to attrit these forces and maintain security. Like wise, the United States and many countries are jointly patrolling maritime routes and, in particular, "choke points". Further, we have concentrated on beefing up security at these foreign ports.

But there is an even shorter term strategy.

One of the original plans was to draw the United States into a massive invasion of Afghanistan. There hopes were to bog the US down into a long guerilla war, using massive force, costing massive money and causing massive casualties among the civilian population. They were hoping to use this to stir the Islamic populace and re-invigorate the mujihadeen. While Al Qaida had been operating bases, training forces and spreading their doctrine, their forces were degraded after the Afghan/Russo war when many of their original forces returned to their native countries. Some to start their own movements and become facilitators for Al Qaida and others simply returned to live. They did not expect the Afghan population to be turned so quickly which Zawahiri explains in his recent letter. They did not expect the US to take a different tactic from the USSR, using smaller forces backed by local mujihadeen. Basically, it did not allow them the time they they needed to draw in other resources.

For some, the use of small forces in Afghanistan was not a brilliant battle plan that contradicted the enemy's expectations, but allowed Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri to escape while a large part of their forces fought a rear guard and were killed for their efforts.

In early 2002, Zarqawi travelled to Iraq. There are questions as to whether this was for medical care or to take up Saddam's offer for assylum. In addition, 16 Al Qaida members (referred to as "leadership elements") were captured or arrested on the Iranian border with Afghanistan and are currently "hosted" in that country. There may be another question here as to whether they were simply planning to pass through Iran or had planned to seek refuge there along with bin Laden's son. In either case, Iraq serves many purposes for the Islamists. It has raw materials, it has location and it has a plethora of weapons. At the time of Zarqawi's first advent into Iraq, it still had undestroyed and barely secured remnants of nuclear, biological and chemical programs. There was money, even after the fall of Saddam.

However, one of the conditions that Zarqawi most feared was met and continues to be met as Democracy has come and, in his words, "there will be no excuses thereafter". Further, his attempts to inspire a civil war have been largely thwarted though revenge killings, incarcerations and possible torture (if not neglect) of many Sunni prisoners has become an issue. At the same time, Sunni insurgents are attempting to negotiate terms with the US and are joining the election process. As Zarqawi also noted in his February 2004 letter:

2 - We pack our bags and search for another land, as is the sad, recurrent story in the arenas of jihad, because our enemy is growing stronger and his intelligence data are increasing day by day. By the Lord of the Ka`ba, [this] is suffocation and then wearing down the roads. People follow the religion of their kings. Their hearts are with you and their swords are with Bani Umayya (the Umayyads), i.e., with power, victory, and security. God have mercy.

Iraq has been a mixed bag for the insurgents. Part recruiting tool, part public relations disaster with the larger Muslim population. Based on Zawahiri's letter directing Zarqawi to expand or move his operations to Egypt and the Levant, it may very well be that Al Qaida has decided that it needs to improve it's situation by moving to a more protected area (like the Gaza strip) where they can regroup and take on the next phase of their operations. It's certain that the Palestinian Authorities could not possibly stave off the Islamists and no country is liable to enter there with the continued Israeli/Palestinian conflict that could "inflame" the Muslim world. Exactly what they are hoping for.

Other advantages include an already fanatical base, closer to Zawahiri's known associates. If the US pulls out early from Iraq, then it is nearly guaranteed that western Iraq will be maintained as a base of operations or an emirate.

If Al Qaida is able to more firmly attach their fortunes to the Israel/Palestinian struggle, it could lead to an even better recruiting tool. Attacks on Israel would hinder or slow down the peace process and Israel may go on a larger offensive that would also serve to increase tensions. In addition, as part of the strategy of "a thousand small cuts", operating in Egypt, Gaza and Jordan would offer an even better opportunity to impact the "cost" effect, not just for the US, but for Europe, Africa, Russia and any country whose imports or exports travel through the Suez Canal.

It would not be necessary to actually hold all of the land or even part of it. At most, they would need occasionally interdict shipments, target them with rockets, or even simply cause the area to be so unstable that the risk (thus, the cost) is extremely high for traversing the Suez Canal. This would interrupt goods traveling to and eventually through the Mediteranean.

For countries like France and Germany with low GDP and high unemployment, pressure on their economy could be especially devestating. That goes for the emerging economies of the former Eastern Bloc countries. Further, operational proximity to Europe could allow for an intensification of attacks. Last, Islamists from Algiers, Somalia and Sudan (to name a few) could provide a base for a much wider conflict.

Whatever the narrow short term goals or the more extensive long term goals, Al Qaida and Islamists need to obtain and hold an area for a base. They need:

a)A victory or even a "draw" that leaves them in possession of some land where they can not only operate, but set up a model society; to inspire people with their deeds and their governance.
b) The area must be relatively secure so that the Islamists can bring people to train and be indoctrinated
c) The area needs to have a resource or resources that can be sold on the open market or the underground market to have a secure financial base
d) Proximity to a base of like minded individuals that would be inspired to act within their own countries.

They need to do what the US is doing in some small way. The problem is, their original model in Afghanistan fell apart because the Taliban's rule had not convinced the people that it was just and right. Some how, Zarqawi thinks that an even more repressive government, as has been seen in the towns he and the mujihadeen have taken control of, is a better model than the Taliban.

This base of operation will need not only land, but people and resources in order to take the war to the next level. Without a place to declare victory and consolidate their position, their ideology will continue to be marginalized and possibly wane.

It was interesting to read in Zawahiri's last letter that he felt the struggles in East Asia were less important than establishing a base in "the heart of Islam". It may be that these areas, while important in the "thousand cut" strategy, are too far away from the main body of would be supporters, do not have sufficient resources, are largely islands that would be difficult to secure against naval, land and air invasion and would be tantamount to painting themselves into a corner. So, these battles are supported as they are in the interest of the movement, but do not represent a place that the movement wants to set up a base. These areas would be incorporated later to "consolidate" the three major points of the Caliphate: Africa; Middle East; East Asia.

Like wise, while Pakistan provides some cover for Al Qaida and draws large numbers of young men every year to "study", Al Qaida no longer enjoys total support by the government and, in many respects it does not meet a few important requirements for a base of operations. Mainly, it is still far away from the ideological center of Islam; the Pakistani Army is beginning to pursue them in the areas they once felt most secure; it has no significant resource that could finance their effort.

In order to press the advantage, the United States needs to:

a) Deny the enemy secure, uncontested territory
b) In the least costly manner possible or with calculated costs that have some sort of dividend (ie, the peace dividend)
c) Deny the enemy resources in any area that may be used to develop or purchase weapons or other assistance.
d) Continue to close their financial capabilities. It is largely understood that Zarqawi was paying many "insurgents" to take action like a small criminal mercenary army and at the same time, extorting money from the locals as "protection" money to use in these endeavors and angering the locals.
e) Sustain a low intensity war, either special forces or multiple short term wars that attrit forces and deny security and demoralize the base.
f) Continue diplomatic push to create more open societies, but will need evaluate the cost of leaving them in power and maintaining stability compared to the potential cost to benefit ratio should that country be toppled ie, is there a more intense pro-Islamist movement within the country that would provide a base for insurgency, more robust than seen in Iraq or can the regime be led to provide more open society without destabilizing?

I believe the last question will need to be carefully weighed, but I also believe that the calculation of what regime is "cooperative" and stays intact verses an "uncooperative" regime and total take down, is vastly different than the Cold War detente model.

Jihadists Agree: Fight in Iraq Central To War on Terror
Why al Qaida is Fighting For Iraq
Two Views of Iraq War
Iraq "Insurgency" Review


Islamic Throught and Terrorism