Sunday, August 05, 2007
A stopped clock is right twice a day, and Tom Tancredo is one such nonfunctioning timepiece. Wrong on nearly everything that matters, he is nonetheless right that a nuclear strike by Muslim terrorists on the United States should be responded to with a nuclear strike on Mecca. If I may extend Tancredo's logic beyond what he himself may be capable of, the Plain of Arafat, the Plain of Mina, and the Masjid al-haram should be irradiated such that human visitation becomes impossible for thousands of years.
New Yorker in DC, responding to my defense of such retaliation against Shlock's assault, writes:
I believe that the main premise of [Tancredo's and tdaxp's] argument, that terrorists can be deterred if we make it clear that we will attack that which is of most value to them (i.e. the Kaaba and other religious sites such as Mecca, Medina, etc.), is wrong.
I ask Nykrindc this: Was the invasion of Afghanistan likewise wrong, as it destroyed something operationally most valuable to our opponents (a state-supported base)?
The answer is no: besides being a clear case of proportional response, the Afghan invasion also made the conditions of 9/11 much harder to replicate. The Roman response to the Jewish War -- the destruction of the Temple -- did the same. Rome destroyed the conditions that allowed a faith based on priestly worship to exist. "Jews" as a community continued, of course, but the religion of the Levites was gone forever.
In the same way, an obliteration of Mecca that leaves the city radioactive topples one of the five pillars of Islam.
People say that Islam needs a reformation. Reformed variants of Judaism thrived twice, both in response to a grand shock (the Destruction of the Temple, leading to Christianity, and the abolition of the European ghettos, leading to Reform/conservative Judaism).
On the other hand, if you are happy with the Islamic status quo -- and remain so after a nuclear attack on the homeland -- there is nothing to change! No such outrage is necessary.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
From Peter Zeihan's article on Stratfor's Free Intelligence Report.
With all the talk about al Qaeda "leaders," al Qaeda "factions" and militants with "links" to al Qaeda, it is useful to take a step back and clarify precisely what al Qaeda actually is. Al Qaeda is a small core group of people who share strategic and operational characteristics that set them apart from all other militants -- Islamist or otherwise -- the world over. All signs indicate this group is no longer functional and cannot be replicated. Whether or not Osama bin Laden is still alive, al Qaeda as it once was is dead.
Furthermore, al Qaeda has left no one truly capable of taking up its mantle. The training camps in the 1990s processed hundreds of would-be jihadists, but the quality of that training for the rank and file has been exaggerated. Most of it was a combination of poor conventional combat training and ideological indoctrination. Hence, most "veterans" of those camps have neither access to the core al Qaeda leadership nor the operational security or tactical training that would allow them to reconstitute a new elite core. They are no more members of the real "al Qaeda" than today's skinheads are members of the real Nazi party.
By the only criterion that matters -- successful attacks -- al Qaeda has slipped from readjusting global priorities (9/11) to contributing to the change in government of a middling U.S. ally (the March 2003 Spain attacks) to affecting nothing (the 2005 London bombings). No attacks since can be meaningfully linked to al Qaeda's control, or even its specific foreknown blessing. Al Qaeda had hoped for a conflagration of outrage that would sweep away the Middle East's political order; it only managed to raise a few sparks here and there, and now it is a prisoner of its own security.
al Qaeda in Iraq can and should be brought down in order to destablize the Middle East to our liking. But there are few good reasons to stay in Iraq, and many good reasons to leave.
And for the remaining al Qaeda wannabees in Iraq? The locals will take care of them.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
"Post-Zarqawi Goals," by Cliff May, The Corner, 25 June 2006, http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NDFmYjFmOWY3NDJhOTAyZjIxMDExY2QyY2NmMDg2Nzc=.
Cliff May is talking sense:
The elimination of al-Qaeda commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi presents an opportunity that should not be missed: Now is the time to take a fresh look at America's goals in Iraq.
Defeat at the hands of Militant Islamist terrorists and the remnants of Saddam Hussein's forces would be disastrous.
The consequences would unfold over decades. The perception – and perhaps the reality – would be that the U.S. military, despite its technological prowess and the courage of its troops, is no match for enemies armed with cell phones and garage door openers (used to set off Improvised Explosive Devices), butcher knives and video cameras.
Now is the time to prioritize: The primary goal should be suppression of the forces once led by Zarqawi and Saddam, particularly, in and around Iraq's capital.
I've said similar things before. The upshot: leave Iraq.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
"The Islamist Attack on Intellectual Property, by Thomas Lifson," RealClearPolitics, 28 February 2006, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-2_28_06_TL.html.
Shortly after I commented that leveraging ("exploition") is a normal part of politics, I was enraged at a particularly dishonest form of leveraging in the world of patents. Such is life.
Tom Lifton notes that some Islamist, somewhere (he doesn't bother to cite, opposes the idea of "intellectual property"
It becomes clearer with every day that the Islamist faction within the Muslim world has an idealized vision of society entirely at odds with foundations of American society, and with the values of modern civilization. Free speech (including cartoon speech), religious pluralism, or female equality are only starters, important though each of these principles may be to us.
Recently, I was reading an Islamist website and discovered the following logo in an advertising-like box:
“Oppose Intellectual Property”
Of course, "intellectual property" isn't mentioned in the U.S. Constitution...
Sunday, February 05, 2006
"Praise be to God who gives strength to Islam with His victory....," by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, U.S. Central Command, 9 January 2006, http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/Shared%20Documents/What%20Extremists%20Say.aspx?PageView=Shared (from ZenPundit).
Long before he began his blog, or even guest blogging here, tdaxp has focused on al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He often knows better. Note this time, though.
Zarqawi should follow the Muslim Brothers. He should think different.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
"Full Spectrum Struggle Is Not MBA Struggle," by Dan, tdaxp, 8 May 2005, http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/05/08/full_spectrum_struggle_is_not_mba_struggle.html.
"QDR: China Tops Iraq, Osama?," by Noah Shachtman, Defense Tech, 23 January 2005, http://www.defensetech.org/archives/002110.html (from DNI),
"The Counterrevolution in Military Affairs ," by Ralph Peters, The Weekly Standard, 6 February 2006, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/649qrsob.asp (from TPMB).
Months ago, I wrote:
Whether you are an army or a movement, you are attacked where you are weakest by someone else where they are strongest. They will exploit their advantage over you where they chose. Over and over again, this is how wars start. It's how battles start. It is how any conflict starts.
It's still true. Even if it means agreeing with the QDR and Rumsfeld. Even if it means disagreeing with Shactman and Peters
Friday, January 13, 2006
"The Taxonomic Obsession: Profiling as a 4GW Tactic," by Myke Cole, On Point, 13 January 2005, http://www.uscav.com/uscavonpoint/Feature.aspx?id=149.
Myke Cole, who is, by the way, awesome, criticizes "profiling" in our global war on terrorism. He does so in the context of 4th Generation Warfare military theory, which has previously been discussed here at tdaxp. Among other other criticisms, Myke Cole argues that profiling will be ineffective because
- the enemy is too adaptable
- that the enemy's network structure is not easily profiled anyway...
- and that profiling is a unique Western "obsession."
The first two criticisms are besides the point, and the third is a reason to profile
Monday, November 28, 2005
Catholicgauze concludes his three part summary of a recent speech by Dr. Harm J. de Blij. Part I: Climate Change and Part II: China are also available, as is information about Dr. de Blij's new book, Why Geography Matters.
This is the last installment of my rundown of Why Geography Matters by Dr. de Blij. The final part of his speech was spent on global terrorism. The most disappointing thing about his discussion on part three was that he only had a total of five minutes left to communicate his ideas about terrorism.
Terrorism: A main point made by Dr. Blij is that the terrorism of today is unlike the anarchists terrorist of the turn of the last century. Those were unorganized trouble-makers with a penchant for killing heads of state. Terrorists of today are the tip of a well organized effort spanning continents. They rely on failed-states and geographic isolation to thrive.
Pakistan and the former Afghanistan provide a great example of Dr. de Blij's point. In the tribal areas communication is difficult so local control is a necessity. However, if the locals are crazies (in the words of Bishop Catholicgauze and not Dr. de Blij), it becomes a lot easier for a terrorist group like al Qaeda to set up shop.
A strong state which wishes to grow and connects into globalization would resist a reactionary group like al Qaeda and their ilk. It is then easier to understand why the same group that attacked the World Trade Center (al Qaeda) is actively trying to topple allies of the United States (the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) and America itself. They need failed states so they grow like a cancer and then spread to other countries and if strong countries resist and retaliate, the cancer dies.
An example which concerns Dr. de Blij is Ethiopia. Ethiopia borders the troubled Eritrea, the three Somalias, and Sudan.
Ethiopia also is a gateway into Kenya and southern Africa with minimal interference from the Sahara Desert. Islamic terrorists have been slowly dragging Ethiopia into turmoil hoping to turn the whole horn of Africa into a giant center for operations. He citied the increase of Caucasian Chechens (who in a variety of reports I have learned are the most fanatical and “crazy” of all Jihadists) in not only Ethiopia, Iraq, and other hot spots but also those caught trying to bomb targets in South Africa. If a strong country like Ethiopia were to fall to the jackals of terrorism, nothing could stop them in the Horn of Africa.
As an aside Dr. Blij talked about the recent pirate raid on a cruise ship 100 miles off the coast of Somalia. He pointed out it would take a organized group with technology and intelligence to try to ambush a lone ship in the open ocean.
To wrap up his speech Dr. Blij stressed the importance of geography in planning. He blamed the current “mess” in Iraq to planners who knew nothing about the cultural geography of the country and pointed out how the position of Geographer has been empty at the State Department for years and has been vacant through many administrations. (Catholicgauze wishes to give a shout-out to anyone in the State Department and he offers nominates himself to the position of Head Geographer!)
Dr. Blij then wrapped up his speech by taking questions on China and Climate Change and went outside to sign books. I had other pressing affairs and had to skip out on the book signing. But I must stress he is correct in the assertion that the United States of America needs more geography education.
In the seven core areas of No Child Left Behind only one receives no geography funding. About half of the US school-attending population cannot locate Texas immediately on a map of the country and about a quarter of school-attending children cannot locate the Pacific Ocean on a map of the world (source: the latest NGS PSA). If our future leadership generations are more attuned to popular culture and illiterate when it comes to global affairs, apathy and false ideals like fascism or communism can easily led society astray down the tubes. It happened before to the British Empire and it can happen again. We need to stress a true liberal education with math, science, history, geography, and the arts. A well balanced citizenry will be better able to handle the problems that face us in the twenty-first century and beyond.
Great series, Catholicgauze!
Thursday, October 13, 2005
"Hi Dan, You just PISRRed the enemy," by Larry Dunbar , tdaxp, 13 October 2005, http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/07/09/dan-abu-td-axp-al-iksperiyenciyya-mujahidi.html#c296954.
My dress-up as an Muslim holy warrior has been getting some interesting responses, noticing, jokes, a death threat, etc. But the most creative contribution came from Larry Dunbar. His thoughts:
You just PISRRed the enemy. But then you probably know that. These images are your attempt to Subvert-Reorient-Reharmonize and maybe even to Isolate the enemy.
Implicit laws form and maintain an organization. With a terrorist organization such as Al Qaeda these laws take the form of pictures or, in other words, images inside the head. These images so far include a tall Arab calmly telling the world how he is going to strike and destroy the greatest powers in the world. They show the destruction of symbols of that power taken of the WTC on 9/11. They maintain these images with pictures of burnt out cars and craters. These images are also maintained by videos of suicide bombers before they attack, IED’s going off and any other successful acts attributed to the Al Qaeda organization. The need for these images is so important that if you were to replace the image of the burning constitution on your blog with a terrorist holding a bunny rabbit, or some other offensive image, my guess is your site, if not you personally, would suffer a vertical attack of some kind. Al Qaeda could not afford to have this kind of image of themselves, if your blog still is as relevant as you said it once was.
The OODA loop of this kind of organization is unlike any other. For one thing it is very slow. For another, instead of looping back to Orientation, Al Qaeda loops theirs back to Observation. They only have to go through the Orientation strategy as they Decide and carry out the Act. Because the image of the Act is so important, failure cannot be tolerated. That is one reason they like car bombs so well. Not only does it create an image that lasts inside the heads of the communities and families of the car bombers, but also they are highly successful. Because this organization practices such an old form of warfare, I call this type of warfare Zero Generation Warfare (ZGW). It gets its strength from its simplicity. It doesn’t need a lot of dogma, simply a successful plan that will produce an image that will give its members a feeling of importance or belonging. When this type of organization becomes too successful and the acts are seen not to be important, the organization simply disappears.
I need some time to think before I try to answer this. Anyone else?
Saturday, October 08, 2005
"Spreading the Fire," by Dan, tdaxp, 1 February 2005, http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/02/01/spreading_the_fire.html.
"The Big Bang spreads . . . the rough way," by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 7 October 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002427.html.
Is noted grand strategist Dr. TPM Barnett ripping me off again?
Compare, yesterday's blog post over at his blog:
It's not just Saudi Arabia where the locally-derived jihadists are returning home for the weekend and blowing up a police station or two.
Yes, Jordan's Abdullah and Egypt's Mubarek warned of this as an outflow of the Iraq takedown, and it worried them, because maybe they'd finally have to deal with all the angry young men in their respective systems.
Good thing or bad? Bad in content, of course, but very good in terms of speeding the killing. We can do this nice and slow, or we can do this fast and rough, as Tina Turner used to growl onstage before singing "Proud Mary."
Al Qaeda has been quite open about its strategy of stretching the Americans thin. But rather than stretching us out, this development incentivizes the locals to deal with this long-held hatreds and grudges, like the massive chip on Musab al Zarqawi over how Jordan's treated him in the past.
In the end, what will have to change for all this violence in the Middle East to stop is not our withdrawal, but political reform in the region. Keeping this fight suppressed, or having it exported to our shores like it was on 9/11 is certainly a safer route for the local authoritarian regimes. Then again, I think 9/11 put us past caring about those regimes' stability like we used to.
Bush basically runs a race with Osama: who can destabilize the region's regimes first? Both sides want change, but only one wants to replace the current autocracies with a religious dictatorship. What Bush wants solves the problem. What Osama wants merely extends it.
Bush may suck at execution, but his strategic instincts are sound. He's not looking to leave these problems to the next generation, and yet, unless his execution gets better, that's exactly what he'll end up doing.
And me, back in February
George Bush is a very brave man.
He talks of spreading the fire of freedom. He has destroyed the status quo ante bellum. But so are the Salafists.
It is ironic that so much of the Bush agenda for the Greater Middle East is coterminus with Osama bin Laden
Bush has removed the army from Saudi Arabia, pressed for rapid trade normalization with Iraq, and is seeing Ariel Sharon withdraw from the Gaza and parts of the West Bank.
While bin Laden and Bush have radically different views of "freedom," they both agree that the decrepit Arab states do not provide it. So it is no suprise that Bush is not the only one spreading the fire ...
In Iraq the Salafists and Ba'athis view each other as useful idiots. In the rest of the Greater Middle East, the Salafists and the Americans both wish transformation. This is the nature of the Global War on Terrorism.
Of course, he writes a lot better than me...