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    23 September 2006

    File in 'duh' : Iraq war breeds terrorism [UPDATED]

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    For print in tomorrows NYTimes, 16 government spy agencies conclude the obvious: Iraq is a vice, not a virtue, of the Global War on Terror, WWIII, the Long War, or whatever you want to call it.

    This new estimate provides this damning assessment:
    The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

    The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States," it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

    An opening section of the report, "Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement," cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

    The report "says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse," said one American intelligence official.

    [UPDATE] From The WaPo: The Iraq War is central to a growing extremist network. Rather than making us safer, it is making things much worse. This is a sharp rebuke of conservative logic.
    The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can reduce the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded.
    "It's stating the obvious."

    This report mentioned above is separate from the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee's report on the current threat of "a growing jihad movement" that says "'al Qaeda leaders wait patiently for the right opportunity to attack.'" It is complemented by the report released by the independent Council on Global Terrorism's grade of "D+" that they handed to the US government for its effort to combat Islamic extremism these past few (5) years. [link to p. 2]

    The only reasonable, logical reasons we should remain in Iraq are best expressed by participants at a centrist-progressive discussion on the topic last week.
    The only reason America should stay in Iraq is to prove itself as a fair but powerful mediator, particularly in Lebanon, said Sascha Mueller-Kraenner, director for Europe and North America at the Heinrich Boll Foundation.

    "The rule is you break it, you buy it," he said. "The mess in Iraq was produced by American politics and American allies and there is no way you can leave Iraq a wreck. You have to repair what you do."

    Charles Pena, a senior fellow of the Independent Institute and an adviser to the Status Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information, added,

    We are fueling hatred in the Muslim world against us

    The coming/ongoing fragmentation of the country, whether official or not, will net a hostile Islamic region in the Western provinces if not the entire state. We were thought to be fighting against this regional insurgency, but we only funded/supplied the means to train the police/army to fight the insurgency, and they, them and us, haven't done their job. Some in or close to the military have said that the "United States has lost in Anbar."

    "You break it, you buy it."

    Republicans broke it, conservatives broke it, Bush foreign policy broke it. We need to change course, not nesessarily pull out, if we want to fix this. We need to strive to limit the gains already handed to the terrorists; those who want to harm our soldiers and us, the public. The current leadership is neither able to comprehend or accomplish this task.

    The conservative right-wing will continue to claim that UBL, al Qaeda, and the terrorists are pulling for progressive Democrats to take the Senate and House. They, again, draw on fear in a desperate attempts to hold on to power. They claim Democrats and progressives will loose the War on Terror and allow more attacks. In reality we are the only ones that have the capacity to understand this war and win it. The point is to reduce terror. It's not enough to look tough, you have to make actual progress.

    Posted by Geoff

    Paintballers beware... if your Muslim

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    Any Muslim paintballers should watch their backs.

    "One of those steps is to be wary of Muslims playing paintball."

    I don't know if I'm more concerened about the points brought up by Kaufman and Mansfiend or that the paintball center they talk about is frequented by church goers in general. We all know that those Christians/Catholics/Baptists/whatever are an extremist bunch themselves.

    Posted by Geoff

    22 September 2006

    Future War

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    I'm posting this for discussion elsewhere...

    Future Wars

    "To understand the future, study the past." - Martin van Creveld

    In virtually every discipline you learn from history before you attempt to make it. Humanities greatest discoveries generally didn't come out of thin air, especially in recent or modern history. For example, Einstein's theories of relativity or his mass-energy relation were derived with the aid of empirical insight that took place years, decades, and centuries prior. He was a brilliant mind, but he was not the sole contributor to his work; he'd be the first to admit that. The benefits of his achievements presently, and indeed still to come, were unknown to him or anyone in the early twentieth century, as many others were as well. At the time he didn't foresee that a combination of the special theory of relativity and previous works on the nature of light waves would become the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) we rely on today; that's but one example. Similarly with warfare, we cannot pretend to see the future without assessing the past. Martin van Creveld wrote in the early 1990s that "[t]o understand the future," you must "...study the past" (p. 193). This case study will briefly discuss past warfare in an attempt to understand what is ahead for humanity and our unending obsession with and reliance on war.

    The progression of warfare, modern warfare meaning since the treaty of Westphalia and the rise of the state (van Creveld, p. 36), can be categorized into phases or generations. By many accounts, we have witnessed the emergence and growing popularity of a fourth phase, one which uses asymmetrical tactics that are incomparable to the third generation approach currently used by the US and Western forces. The third generation was perfected for/during World War II and is still the prominent method of war making in most industrialized countries (Robb). The fourth generation warrior seeks to attack weaknesses and undermine strength; tactics not necessarily new but becoming more popular and successful as technology and globalization spread advantages once held exclusively by the US (Schwartau). For an example of fourth generation warfare we look towards Iraq. Iraqi insurgents often target soft spots such as infrastructure (oil pipeline, electrical grids) and supply lines rather than armored fortifications, thus undermining the strength of coalition and Iraqi forces. The war in Iraq is an excellent example of a cross-generational - in terms of warfare - conflict; the third generation coalition against a fourth generation insurgency. This is not a new phenomena, it was present in Vietnam and even earlier in the Philippines (Snow, p. 174). Earlier generations of warfare are exemplified by Napoleon representing the first generation of warfare and the US Civil War and WWI making up the second generation (Robb).

    Briefly, the Past
    In Donald Snow's relevant chapter on the future of war (p. 163-183), he divides a portion of this study into a look at how nations planned for war historically and applied the same methodology towards the future. His analysis was broken into three sections, the environment of the conflict, the structure of the conflict, and the players (Snow, p. 165-166). The first section deals with why and how you are fighting a given enemy. In the wake of WWI, military planners had a good case to study when preparing for a new war that would likely take place in Europe. Unfortunately, planning for the future is an inexact science and - at the time - few were able to anticipate the conflict in the Pacific theater (Snow, p. 168). The next section, the structure of the war, deals with the means available to those engaged and how well they use these resources. Again, WWI provided a plethora of new technology that army's employed with lethal results (Snow, p.168-170). By WWII, planners had to acknowledge these advancements and rethink their strategies. More effective weaponry (machine guns, heavy artillery, armor) made trench warfare nearly futile. Improved logistical devices (the internal combustion engine, storage battery) made the pace of war faster and maneuvering and deadly tactic; on land, in the air, and at sea. The final section addresses the issue of whom you are in conflict with. WWII planners for Hitler and Imperial Japan both failed at this task. Hitler didn't recognize the task ahead in controlling the Soviet Union just as Napoleon failed at controlling Russia (Snow, p. 172). Japan realized that their endeavors would ultimately bring them to war with America, but they underestimated the power possessed by American forces. As you can see, planning for the future is a game of luck as much as it is a game of skill, the future is important but it will not always be the key to predicting the future. The world is too random for that to be the case.

    The Future
    Determining why you are fighting and how it will take place was the easiest to acknowledge in traditional warfare, although you typically could not determine these facts in sufficient time to gain an advantage unless unprovoked, sneak-attacks are the plan; these are becoming impossible with large militaries operating within the bounds of the international system (Cheeseman, p. 79-81; Schwartau). This gives advantages to the asymmetrical fighter who doesn't officially represent a state in most current cases and does not operate large forces that can be effectively monitored through covert or space based surveillance. This represents a key characteristic of the new war and a drastic difference from the conventional interpretation of war ingrained in our consciousness from the twentieth century and the total wars witnessed by our parent and grandparents generations.
    Comparably, knowing your enemies and their capabilities nets little advantage in these days of global surveillance when looking at the traditional approach to warfare, state versus state playing on an equal plane. It is, however, fundamental that you take the time to understand your adversary if you seek to defeat him (van Creveld, p. 195). The total wars of the first half of the twentieth century were formal battles in most respects and between states that knew a lot about each other. As time goes by, it is becoming clear that threats from state militaries are becoming a thing of the past and the future of war will be waged by "...groups whom we today call terrorists, guerrillas, bandits, and robbers..." (van Creveld, p. 197). Asymmetrical forces are more likely to be ideologically driven than professional and popular rather than institutional. Not being bound by global rules and regulations provides a great advantage for the asymmetrical, stateless force. Now more than ever with the domination the US, NATO, and similarly equipped states and organizations, the weaker states and non-state military actors come to this logical conclusion from a Colonel in the Chinese Air Force:
    War has rules, but those rules are set by the West ... If you use those rules, then weak countries have no chance ... We are a weak country, so do we need to fight according to your rules? No. (Schwartau)

    The proliferation of asymmetrical forces has occurred due to the huge imbalance between the US and Western forces and these groups. This imbalance takes to form of resource dissimilarities; the West and especially the US have more money, more resources, better technology, and better alliances than the asymmetrical warrior (Snow p. 173-174). New means to attack these larger and more capable powers are sought by these forces and are commonly "militarily" and "intellectually unconventional" and often use tactics including "...harassment, ambush, and attrition..." (Snow p. 173-174). Unfortunately, but somewhat expectedly and logically, warfare has changed from traditional, standing armies engaged on fronts to shadowy, disparate, guerilla warfare that focuses attack on soft and/or symbolic targets (Jones and Kennedy-Pipe, p. 17-18).

    Moving Forward
    In order to address these dilemma, we need to acknowledge that, as van Creveld is summarized by Graeme Cheeseman, traditional "...strategies and structures may be of little use for either understanding or responding to many of the governments and their leaders will face in the future" (Cheeseman, p. 75). This is hauntingly apparent in the current conflicts between asymmetrical forces such as Iraqi insurgents, al Qaeda terrorists, and the Taliban-like rogue governments in Iraq and Afghanistan and old-fashioned traditional forces of the US, the coalition, and NATO; or the recent war between Hezbollah and Israel where for the for the first time a NGO - an army not affiliated with a state - was able to stand up to the preeminent power in the region. Van Creveld concludes that two conflicting requirements must be met in order to achieve success against an enemy, and thus the two must be balanced. The first is to concentrate the greatest force possible with the ability to deliver a decisive blow to the enemy. This clashes with the second requirement that is the need to understand and outsmart the enemy (van Creveld, p.226). Usama bin Laden was able to find the balance between these two requirements multiple times. Despite our grandiose monopoly on the tools of war, we have so far been unable to meet that goal.

    Posted by Geoff; submitted 19 September 2006

    21 September 2006

    Republicans cave, torture to continue

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    Party before country, party before everything. It's the Republican way.

    First it was Fascism, then Stalinism and Maoism, and today we have... Bushism.
    ...or maybe it can just be conservatism.

    "If this languages becomes law, the Congress will have given us the clarity and the support that we need," says Gen. Hayden, CIA director, referring to the six techniques that are close to being authorized.

    I was right about Sen. Graham and the other so-called rebels, they folded.

    Now what we get to do is wait to for the Red Cross report on the detainees from the black-op prisons that the CIA ran until recently (reports are that they - CIA agents - refused to continue to run the prisons - call them camps - forcing Bush and friends to open up and move the detainees to Gitmo). These reports from the Red Cross will shed a little more light on what our Government has been doing in our name.

    More shame on America and more terrorists bred. The rhetoric of UBL is justified even more. Another 'W' for the bad guys.

    Party before country.

    Posted by Geoff

    20 September 2006

    Foreign Policy is like basketball... to Bush fans

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    If you shoot and miss, then keep trying.
    The Pentagon has created a new desk to work on Iran policy. That worries some at the CIA, who point out that many of the new Iran-desk staffers are the same people who staffed the now-notorious Office of Special Plans in the run-up to the Iraq war.

    Brilliant! These are many of the same people who just wouldn’t listen before.

    The former CIA directorate studying political Islam Emile Nakhleh in Harpers:
    The main reason for our failure in Iraq was not looking at the “morning after.” It was obvious that the military campaign would succeed, but there was also an ideological view among some administration officials that we would be received as liberators. Those people did not understand that just because the Iraqis hated Saddam, that didn't mean they would like our occupation.

    Iraq was more complex than just Saddam. We should have learned from the experience of the British in the 1920s, when modern Iraq was created—namely, that bringing in outside leaders would not work. People expressed views about the need to plan for a post-Saddam Iraq, about the potential for sectarian violence and the rise of militias, about the fact that the Shiites would want to rise politically. These were not minority views in the intelligence community, but the administration ended up listening to other voices. The focus was on invading Iraq and getting rid of Saddam, and after that everything would be fine and dandy.

    Posted by Geoff

    19 September 2006

    Should we concede our morality to terrorists?

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    Although the arguments are there for either side, my pick, and the stronger of the two, is No.

    Bush and his conservative friends know this; people who have the capacity to ‘get it’ surround him. This time there are even a few within his party.

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    Yet the drums are out and those same great people that brought us Iraq, rendition, and illegal wiretapping are now pushing for the normalization of torture. Torture could soon be an American value.

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    So why do they want this so much, it would seem illogical. It goes against the the tough guy stance that has defined Bush for the past 6 years.

    Pat Lang wonders if the President and all his men...
    know something that we don't:
    It is clear that President Bush wants to make actions legal that were illegal to conduct in the US in the past. That is why these "techniques" were used outside the US in the past. Will they now be used in our homeland against suspects? And who will the "suspects" be. Who will they be?

    The administration does not want to tell us what the "alternative techniques" are. They say that this is because the terrorists will train against the "techniques."

    Loud noises? Deep cold? Talkin' about yo mama? The rack? What?

    Folks, you can't "train" against "waterboarding." What are we really talking about?


    Posted by Geoff

    17 September 2006

    Is Graham serious?

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    Usually Republicans squirm for a bit over illegal and anti-American actions promoted and perpetrated by this administration, only to rubber stamp the policies shortly thereafter. But today, SC Senator Lindsey Graham put up quite a show and stood up for western principles; the very ones conservative forces wish to dismantle and/or abandon. What did Senator Graham mean today? Is he being genuine, or is this more Spector-like tough talk that will be followed by a virtual pardon for illegal, immoral, and unethical activities? We've seen this before.

    Watch for yourself.

    I'm skeptical of the Senator. But he is completely right when he says this, "We cannot have a great nation when we start redefining who we are...". That's what some on the right would have us do. They want to concede our values, they want to give in and let the terrorists compromise our morality. These people would allow them to have this victory. We can not let that happen.

    If the Senator means what he says then he should be commended. For now we'll wait and see if he can handle the pressure his constituents - people who don't get it, who do not have the capacity to understand this basic concept - surly will place on him.

    I think he'll fold.

    Posted by Geoff


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