Balkinization  

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ending the "War" on Terrorism

JB

A RAND corporation report released on Tuesday argues that "Current U.S. strategy against the terrorist group al Qaida has not been successful in significantly undermining the group's capabilities" and that military force is rarely effective at stopping terrorist groups. Instead, a combination of local law enforcement and intelligence operations are most likely to succeed:
By analyzing a comprehensive roster of terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that most groups ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies or because they negotiated a settlement with their governments. Military force was rarely the primary reason a terrorist group ended, and few groups within this time frame achieved victory.

These findings suggest that the U.S. approach to countering al Qa'ida has focused far too much on the use of military force. Instead, policing and intelligence should be the backbone of U.S. efforts.
. . . .

What does this mean for counterterrorism efforts against al Qa'ida? After September 11, 2001, U.S. strategy against al Qa'ida concentrated on the use of military force. Although the United States has employed nonmilitary instruments — cutting off terrorist financing or providing foreign assistance, for example — U.S. policymakers continue to refer to the strategy as a “war on terrorism.”

But military force has not undermined al Qa'ida. As of 2008, al Qa'ida has remained a strong and competent organization. Its goal is intact: to establish a pan-Islamic caliphate in the Middle East by uniting Muslims to fight infidels and overthrow West-friendly regimes. It continues to employ terrorism and has been involved in more terrorist attacks around the world in the years since September 11, 2001, than in prior years, though engaging in no successful attacks of a comparable magnitude to the attacks on New York and Washington.

Al Qa'ida's resilience should trigger a fundamental rethinking of U.S. strategy. Its goal of a pan-Islamic caliphate leaves little room for a negotiated political settlement with governments in the Middle East. A more effective U.S. approach would involve a two-front strategy:

  • Make policing and intelligence the backbone of U.S. efforts. Al Qa'ida consists of a network of individuals who need to be tracked and arrested. This requires careful involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as their cooperation with foreign police and intelligence agencies.
  • Minimize the use of U.S. military force. In most operations against al Qa'ida, local military forces frequently have more legitimacy to operate and a better understanding of the operating environment than U.S. forces have. This means a light U.S. military footprint or none at all.
Key to this strategy is replacing the war-on-terrorism orientation with the kind of counterterrorism approach that is employed by most governments facing significant terrorist threats today. Calling the efforts a war on terrorism raises public expectations — both in the United States and elsewhere — that there is a battlefield solution. It also tends to legitimize the terrorists' view that they are conducting a jihad (holy war) against the United States and elevates them to the status of holy warriors. Terrorists should be perceived as criminals, not holy warriors.
It is worth noting that for the past seven years the Bush Administration has criticized its opponents for advocating a law enforcement solution to terrorism, which it argues, is inadequate to meet the threat. The RAND study, suggests, to the contrary, that the Administration's military approach has been inadequate. It is worth remembering that the United States has not suffered an attack on its own soil since 9/11 but also that Al Qaeda has not been eliminated. This result is consistent with the RAND report's conclusions: Within American borders, law enforcement agencies assisted by intelligence agencies have been able to prevent terrorist attacks, but beyond our borders, we have not succeeded in wiping out Al Qaeda through military campaigns.

The Rand report also argues that American military presence in Muslim countries should be very light, largely confined to training and expertise. One reason for this is that military presence in Muslim countries makes American military force salient and increases recruiting efforts for terrorist groups. Indeed, it may well turn out to be the case that the greatest mistake of George H.W. Bush's presidency was the decision to increase American military presence in Saudi Arabia. This decision, premised on on America's long alliance with the Saudi rulers, may have stoked resentments among the population and led to the growth of Al Qaeda there. Bin Laden himself and many of the 9/11 conspirators were from Saudi Arabia; they objected to American military presence in the same country as some of Islam's holiest sites.

If this is so, it suggests that the Bush Administration's preference for permanent military bases in Iraq is a terrible idea, one that, far from helping prevent terrorism in the Middle East, may actually exacerbate it.

The irony is that the Bush Administration has devoted itself to eliminating the threat of terrorism using as much military force as it can muster, by refusing to characterize the problem as one of law enforcement, and by perpetuating and even increasing the American military presence in the Middle East. If the RAND report is to be believed, the Bush Administration has systematically chosen the worst policies in the last seven years.

Comments:

The irony is that the Bush Administration has devoted itself to eliminating the threat of terrorism using as much military force as it can muster, by refusing to characterize the problem as one of law enforcement, and by perpetuating and even increasing the American military presence in the Middle East. If the RAND report is to be believed, the Bush Administration has systematically chosen the worst policies in the last seven years.

This is true only if you assume that the goal of the Bush administration is to eliminate terrorism. I have my doubts. Cupidity and stupidity can only explain part of what we know about their strategy. If you factor in Bush's desire to be a 'war president' and Cheney's avowed intention of creating a stronger (I would call it tyrannical) executive, you have to wonder if they want a steady stream of terrorists and terrorism to maintain a sense of crisis.

If you think this sounds crazy, explain Guantanamo. You capture a random assortment of Muslims, brutalize them, ship them to an island prison where you use the Chinese communist model of brainwashing to destroy their psyches, and then randomly release most them. How does that make any sense, other than as a way to create terrorists? That's a serious question.

I'd much rather believe that these people are incompetent rather than evil, but when I look at this from outsider's view, giving no one the benefit of the doubt, I don't see incompetence. I see a well-executed plan.
 

Why does the RAND Corp. hate America?

(Man, I *never* get tired of that line. Too bad for y'all.)

If the RAND report is to be believed, the Bush Administration has systematically chosen the worst policies in the last seven years.

Ockham's point can be expanded to foreign policy. Cheney's 1992 plan was for the U.S. to focus on maintaining its role as sole superpower by competing w/ enemies -- a fundamentally "U.S. vs. Them" perspective, to coin a phrase.

When you think that the world is basically hostile to America anyway, then there's no % in trying not to make everybody hate you. Heck, the more we're hated, the more we just *have* to keep up a huge "defense" establishment ....
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

A RAND corporation report released on Tuesday argues that "Current U.S. strategy against the terrorist group al Qaida has not been successful in significantly undermining the group's capabilities" and that military force is rarely effective at stopping terrorist groups. Instead, a combination of local law enforcement and intelligence operations are most likely to succeed:

I stopped taking this report seriously after this paragraph. It takes a complete detachment from reality to claim that al Qeada retains anything approaching its operational capabilities of 2001 and that our military was not the primary instrument in degrading al Qaeda's operational capabilities.

However, let us move on anyway. This nonsense is easily disposed of.

By analyzing a comprehensive roster of terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that most groups ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies or because they negotiated a settlement with their governments.

Apples and oranges.

Nearly all of the previous groups to which Rand cites were relatively small local groups within a country without military organization, training and equipments. You could viably us the police to deal with such groups.

In stark contrast, al Qaeda was a very large international group present in dozens of countries which fielded conventional military units and possessed the operational capability of launching attacks nearly anywhere in the world. If you sent the police after an al Qaeda base, they would have been killed. In fact, al Qeada in Iraq targeted the police over the military because it has tactical superiority over the police.

These findings suggest that the U.S. approach to countering al Qa'ida has focused far too much on the use of military force. Instead, policing and intelligence should be the backbone of U.S. efforts.

The evidence is already pretty much in concerning the relative effectiveness of waging military war against the enemy vs. sending the FBI overseas to arrest them as if this were an episode of Law and Order.

For nearly a decade between the 1993 WTC attack and 9/11, we employed only law enforcement resources against the enemy without any noticeable affect on their operational capabilities. Indeed, al Qaeda achieved the pinnacle of its operational capability with the 9/11 attack.

Since we went to war after 9/11, the United States has largely destroyed al Qaeda and its allies across the world and prevented any significant terrorist attack against our civilians and interests outside of the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan for the past few years. Currently, in those war zones, al Qaeda has been completely cleaned out of Afghanistan (our problem is with the local Taliban) and Iraq is pacified to the extent that Mr. Obama is campaigning there in rolled up sleeves and our casualties in July will be the lowest in the entire war.

In sum, the United States is close to winning a strategic military victory against al Qaeda and its allies, if it already has not done so. al Qaeda only survives in any significant numbers in the Pakistan border region and in parts of North Africa and no longer appears to have a significant capability to launch effective international attacks. What remains is the necessity of finishing off the remnants of al Qaeda in Pakistan and bring the only surviving enemy commanders of the pre-war era - bin Laden and Zawahiri - to justice for 9/11.

Isolationist critics of waging war and treating the enemy like military combatants instead of civilian criminal suspects are now beginning to offer the vastly degraded enemy threat brought about by the use of military force as an oxymoronic argument against treating this as a war. Instead, the vastly reduced threat is pretty conclusive evidence of the success of the military model and the failure of the pre-existing law enforcement model.

But military force has not undermined al Qa'ida. As of 2008, al Qa'ida has remained a strong and competent organization. Its goal is intact: to establish a pan-Islamic caliphate in the Middle East by uniting Muslims to fight infidels and overthrow West-friendly regimes.

Hitler also still dreamed of a Thousand Year Reich in his 1945 Berlin Bunker. So what? The fact that bin Laden may dream of a Caliphate as he scurries from one mud hut to another to avoid a Predator strike hardly means that al Qaeda has the operational capability to do so.

It continues to employ terrorism and has been involved in more terrorist attacks around the world in the years since September 11, 2001, than in prior years, though engaging in no successful attacks of a comparable magnitude to the attacks on New York and Washington.

This argument was used during the Surge when al Qaeda was being destroyed in Iraq and had no merit at that time. In comparison, the Wehrmacht was also involved in more combat in 1944 than they were before the United States declared war on them, but the Wehrmacht was hardly finding success as it was largely destroyed in 1944.

However, this old chestnut is nearly incomprehensible in 2008 as al Qaeda attacks everywhere outside of Algeria have collapsed.

Al Qa'ida's resilience should trigger a fundamental rethinking of U.S. strategy. Its goal of a pan-Islamic caliphate leaves little room for a negotiated political settlement with governments in the Middle East. A more effective U.S. approach would involve a two-front strategy:

Make policing and intelligence the backbone of U.S. efforts. Al Qa'ida consists of a network of individuals who need to be tracked and arrested...


This recommendation is nearly incomprehensible.

Earth to RAND: The 1500 to 2000 surviving al Qaeda are organized into combat units in the Pakistan mountains. They have killed or chased off all the Pakistani police. While "The Kingdom" makes for good escapism on a slow Saturday night, the reality is that if you sent in the entire FBI into Pakistan to "arrest" al Qaeda, they would be slaughtered in short order.

Get real.

The only question concerning the remnants of al Qaeda in Pakistan is whether to trust the Pakistani Army to do the job or send in our Army and Marines to do it right.
 

The RAND study, suggests, to the contrary, that the Administration's military approach has been inadequate.

Not inadequate, counterproductive. I don't think it's possible to emphasize that enough.
 

It takes a complete detachment from reality to claim that al Qeada retains anything approaching its operational capabilities of 2001 and that our military was not the primary instrument in degrading al Qaeda's operational capabilities.

For the most part it appears that Al Qaeda has moved into the remote wilderness of Pakistan, where our military cannot reach it. If our military can't get to Al Qaeda, how could it have been responsible for degrading Al Qaeda's operational capabilities?
 

I read about 1/3 of the report and basically call BS. It suffers from that political science conceit that you can take 648 different terrorist organizations over 40 years and turn them into discreet data points and then draw broad conclusions from them. This is in a word, nuts (our tax dollars at work, I guess).

Al Qaeda is sui generis. It bears no resemblance to the other groups studied in that it is transnational, apocalyptic and willing and eager to engage in mass casualty events for their own sake. If the IRA got a nuke, anyone think they would bomb London? If Al Qaeda got one, anyone think they wouldn't bomb Washington?

Talking about police and intelligence cooperation is all well and good, but what if the other countries don't want to cooperate? I guess in August of 2001 we should have just valled the Afghani police and intelligence service up and asked them to arrest OBL? Same thing now in Pakistan? Good thing we got the Randians covering all the angles for us!

So what are the ramifications of their recommendations? We should never have invaded Afghanistan? We should leave now?

Finally, their metric of determining Al Qaeda's capabilities is nuts. If Al Qaeda commits terrorist acts in other countries, it makes me sad and all, but as long as they aren't doing it here, I'll take it. The US has not been attacked in 7 years. If anyone thought that would be the case on 9/12/01, I'd like to know who they are.

Finally, the recommendations call for more police and intelligence work. WTF are we doing in Guantanamo? This blog has if anything been dedicated to making the intelligence work being done there as difficult and non-productive as possible.
 

The US has not been attacked in 7 years. If anyone thought that would be the case on 9/12/01, I'd like to know who they are.

I'm not surprised by this at all. The goal of 9/11 was to lure us into a war in Afghanistan where we would go bankrupt chasing shadows. Mission accompished.
 

Scott:

I read about 1/3 of the report and basically call BS. It suffers from that political science conceit that you can take 648 different terrorist organizations over 40 years and turn them into discreet data points and then draw broad conclusions from them. This is in a word, nuts (our tax dollars at work, I guess)....

[assuming arguendo your characterisation of the situation]: But you can defeat these diverse groups by sending essentially all your military into a country where they have not been active, turning said country into a lawless collection of tribal fiefdoms reminiscent of Afghanistan?!?!? Sounds to me like the Rand folks got the gist of the -- umm, "situation" -- right....

Cheers,
 

Scott:

Talking about police and intelligence cooperation is all well and good, but what if the other countries don't want to cooperate?

One of the results of our rendition/torture policies (and also our refusal to rule out the death penalty) is that other countries, by law (and treaty) are prohibited from co-operating with us in certain ways.

Cheers,
 

bb actually makes the rare legitimate point.

Captured al Qaeda and al Qaeda documents indicate that 9/11 was meant to draw us into Afghanistan, where bin Laden believed al Qaeda could defeat the US Army as the earlier Jihadi defeated the Red Army.

Obviously, bin Laden grossly underestimated the capabilities of the US Army as a single SF battalion and the Northern Alliance militia with air support routed al Qaeda out of Afghanistan.
 

Scott:

WTF are we doing in Guantanamo? ...

Torturing people?

This blog has if anything been dedicated to making the intelligence work being done there as difficult and non-productive as possible.

But it hasn't had any effect. The maladministration so far has had free rein. So what's the fruits of our Guantánamo work been? Were we simply not torturing enough (for your tastes)?

Cheers,
 

I hope we end the "Global War on Terrorism", and start the "Global War against Orthodox Islam".
 

So far, Bush's plan to maintain a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq has been stymied by resistance from the Iraqi government. Barack Obama's timetable for withdrawal of American troops has evidently been joined by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Bush has mentioned a "time horizon," and John McCain has waffled. Yet Obama favors leaving between 35,000 and 80,000 U.S. occupation troops there indefinitely to train Iraqi security forces and carry out "counter-insurgency operations." That would not end the occupation. We must call for bringing home - not redeploying - all U.S. troops and mercenaries, closing all U.S. military bases, and relinquishing all efforts to control Iraqi oil.

In light of stepped up violence in Afghanistan, and for political reasons - following Obama's lead - Bush will be moving troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Although the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was as illegal as the invasion of Iraq, many Americans see it as a justifiable response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the casualties in that war have been lower than those in Iraq - so far. Practically no one in the United States is currently questioning the legality or propriety of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. The cover of Time magazine calls it "The Right War."

The U.N. Charter provides that all member states must settle their international disputes by peaceful means, and no nation can use military force except in self-defense or when authorized by the Security Council. After the 9/11 attacks, the Council passed two resolutions, neither of which authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan. Resolutions 1368 and 1373 condemned the September 11 attacks, and ordered the freezing of assets; the criminalizing of terrorist activity; the prevention of the commission of and support for terrorist attacks; the taking of necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist activity, including the sharing of information; and urged ratification and enforcement of the international conventions against terrorism.

The invasion of Afghanistan was not legitimate self-defense under article 51 of the Charter because the attacks on September 11 were criminal attacks, not “armed attacks” by another country. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. In fact, 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, there was not an imminent threat of an armed attack on the United States after September 11, or Bush would not have waited three weeks before initiating his October 2001 bombing campaign. The necessity for self-defense must be “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” This classic principle of self-defense in international law has been affirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the U.N. General Assembly.

Bush's justification for attacking Afghanistan was that it was harboring Osama bin Laden and training terrorists. Iranians could have made the same argument to attack the United States after they overthrew the vicious Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1979 and he was given safe haven in the United States. The people in Latin American countries whose dictators were trained in torture techniques at the School of the Americas could likewise have attacked the torture training facility in Ft. Benning, Georgia under that specious rationale.

Those who conspired to hijack airplanes and kill thousands of people on 9/11 are guilty of crimes against humanity. They must be identified and brought to justice in accordance with the law. But retaliation by invading Afghanistan is not the answer and will only lead to the deaths of more of our troops and Afghans.

The hatred that fueled 19 people to blow themselves up and take 3,000 innocents with them has its genesis in a history of the U.S. government's exploitation of people in oil-rich nations around the world. Bush accused the terrorists of targeting our freedom and democracy. But it was not the Statue of Liberty that was destroyed. It was the World Trade Center - symbol of the U.S.-led global economic system, and the Pentagon - heart of the U.S. military, that took the hits. Those who committed these heinous crimes were attacking American foreign policy. That policy has resulted in the deaths of two million Iraqis - from both Bill Clinton's punishing sanctions and George W. Bush's war. It has led to uncritical support of Israel's brutal occupation of Palestinian lands; and it has stationed more than 700 U.S. military bases in foreign countries.

Conspicuously absent from the national discourse is a political analysis of why the tragedy of 9/11 occurred and a comprehensive strategy to overhaul U.S. foreign policy to inoculate us from the wrath of those who despise American imperialism. The "Global War on Terror" has been uncritically accepted by most in this country. But terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. You cannot declare war on a tactic. The way to combat terrorism is by identifying and targeting its root causes, including poverty, lack of education, and foreign occupation.

There are already 60,000 foreign troops, including 36,000 Americans, in Afghanistan. Large increases in U.S. troops during the past year have failed to stabilize the situation there. Most American forces operate in the eastern part of the country; yet by July 2008, attacks there were up by 40 percent. Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor for Jimmy Carter, is skeptical that the answer for Afghanistan is more troops. He warns that the United States will, like the Soviet Union, be seen as the invader, especially as we conduct military operations "with little regard for civilian casualties." Brzezinski advocates Europeans bribing Afghan farmers not to cultivate poppies for heroin, as well as the bribery of tribal warlords to isolate al-Qaeda from a Taliban that is "not a united force, not a world-oriented terrorist movement, but a real Afghan phenomenon."

We might heed Canada's warning that a broader mission, under the auspices of the United Nations instead of NATO, would be more effective. Our policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan should emphasize economic assistance for reconstruction, development and education, not for more weapons. The United States must refrain from further Predator missile strikes in Pakistan, and pursue diplomacy, not occupation.

Nor should we be threatening war against Iran, which would also be illegal and result in an unmitigated disaster. The U.N. Charter forbids any country to use, or threaten to use, military force against another country except in self-defense or when the Security Council has given its blessing. In spite of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency's conclusion that there is no evidence Iran is developing nuclear weapons, the White House, Congress, and Israel have continued to rattle the sabers in Iran's direction. Nevertheless, the antiwar movement has so far fended off passage of HR 362 in the House of Representatives, a bill which is tantamount to a call for a naval blockade against Iran - considered an act of war under international law. Credit goes to United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, Peace Action, and dozens of other organizations that pressured Congress to think twice before taking that dangerous step.

We should pursue diplomacy, not war, with Iran; end the U.S. occupation of Iraq; and withdraw our troops from Afghanistan.
 

I think most of us overestimated al-Qaeda after 9/11. Once the facts were in, two things became apparent:

(1) how unsophisticated the hijackings really were, exploiting weaknesses that were readily remedied (duh, locking cockpit doors?); and

(2) how slipshod our intel and law enforcement were -- there were numerous chances to foil the plot that simply fell through the cracks for various reasons.

Both of those factors made 9/11 much more of a one-off than we realized.

It's apparently more difficult to get into the U.S. and commit terrorist acts than one might've guessed. I am always startled that we don't see power plants sabotaged, chemical plants blown up, etc.

The goal, as Bartbuster reminds us & as numerous experts have pointed out, was to provoke the U.S. into a war that would be the equivalent of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Osama's golden adventure.

Politically and economically, of course, we are much stronger than was the Soviet Union under Gorbachev, hence our failure to collapse -- though, god knows, some creaking in the joints has been exposed.
 

I hope we end the "Global War on Terrorism", and start the "Global War against Orthodox Islam".

May I suggest a vote for McCain, then?
 

where bin Laden believed al Qaeda could defeat the US Army as the earlier Jihadi defeated the Red Army.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 11:42 AM


That's not true. Bin Laden was always completely aware that he could not achieve a military defeat on the US. His goal was to bankrupt us. So far it's going pretty well, but he's getting a lot of help from rightwingnuts in the US.

Obviously, bin Laden grossly underestimated the capabilities of the US Army as a single SF battalion and the Northern Alliance militia with air support routed al Qaeda out of Afghanistan.


This is simply gibberish. Afghanistan is now largely controlled by the Taliban and, presumably, Al Qaeda.
 

marjorie cohn said...

There are already 60,000 foreign troops, including 36,000 Americans, in Afghanistan. Large increases in U.S. troops during the past year have failed to stabilize the situation there. Most American forces operate in the eastern part of the country; yet by July 2008, attacks there were up by 40 percent. Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor for Jimmy Carter, is skeptical that the answer for Afghanistan is more troops. He warns that the United States will, like the Soviet Union, be seen as the invader, especially as we conduct military operations "with little regard for civilian casualties." Brzezinski advocates Europeans bribing Afghan farmers not to cultivate poppies for heroin, as well as the bribery of tribal warlords to isolate al-Qaeda from a Taliban that is "not a united force, not a world-oriented terrorist movement, but a real Afghan phenomenon."

We might heed Canada's warning that a broader mission, under the auspices of the United Nations instead of NATO, would be more effective. Our policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan should emphasize economic assistance for reconstruction, development and education, not for more weapons. The United States must refrain from further Predator missile strikes in Pakistan, and pursue diplomacy, not occupation.


This is not an Afghan problem, it is a Pakistan problem being projected into Afghanistan.

The only reason Afghanistan has not followed Iraq into pacification is that the enemy is staging out of a Pakistan sanctuary where we have not yet been able to send ground troops to clear them out.

Pakistan has gone the diplomatic route with the Taliban for years now and failed repeatedly.

We have limited ourselves to Predator strikes for years and failed.

NATO has been there for years and failed.

There is one alternative if we plan to win that war as we did in Iraq - send in troops to clear out the enemy's last sanctuary in the Pakistani border area. Preferably, the Pakistani military should clean up their own mess. If not, then it is up to the US, Brits and Canadians. The rest of NATO will not fight and is only fit for guard duty.
 

NATO has been there for years and failed.

Then why have you been repeatedly declaring victory over on your blog?
 

bb:

The US/Brits/Canadians control Afghanistan and have defeated every Taliban attack from Pakistan. The failure is in dealing with Pakistan, not Afghanistan.
 

If the allies control Afghanistan, then they must be responsible for allowing the Taliban to get rich on the Opium trade. I don't think the allies control as much of Afghanistan as some would like to believe.

It is false that AQ is international as other terrorist organizations have not been. The PLO, for example, had support far outside of Israel and the occupied territories.

As for the Rand study, it can be criticized, as any such study can be, but Rand has a lot more credibility than the critics I see.
 

c2h50h said...

It is false that AQ is international as other terrorist organizations have not been. The PLO, for example, had support far outside of Israel and the occupied territories.

Another good example of the fallacy of the RAND comparison. The Israelis deal with the PLO and Hamas militarily.
 

The US/Brits/Canadians control Afghanistan and have defeated every Taliban attack from Pakistan. The failure is in dealing with Pakistan, not Afghanistan.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 12:56 PM


That is pure fantasy. They control the ground they occupy at that particular moment (mostly). Everything else is controlled by the Taliban,

There is a great National Geographic show that perfectly illustrates my point. A NG film crew is imbedded on a SF base in Afghanistan. Every SF patrol is watched by the Taliban. They know this because they intercept the Taliban radio traffic. No SF move can be made without the Taliban knowing about it. When the SF went to set up an observation post, they found 7 IEDs at the location where they planned to locate the OP. The Taliban knew exactly where they were going, and had plenty of time to prepare. Unfortunately, there were actually 8 IEDs.

Like I said, it's the Taliban that is in control of the country, not us.
 

Another good example of the fallacy of the RAND comparison. The Israelis deal with the PLO and Hamas militarily.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 1:49 PM


No, that's actually a pretty good example of why RAND is right. HAMAS has probably never been stronger than after Israel's most last attempt to use military force against it.
 

as the earlier Jihadi defeated the Red Army.

The Soviets were not "defeated" in Afghanistan, in a purely military sense, just as the U.S. was not "defeated" in Vietnam.

Therefore, it's irrelevant whether Osama thought he could impose a military defeat on the U.S. -- he had no reason to imagine such a thing.
 

Since we went to war after 9/11, the United States has largely destroyed al Qaeda and its allies across the world and prevented any significant terrorist attack against our civilians and interests outside of the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan for the past few years....

"... well, outside of Bali, Madrid, London, Bali again, etc."

And the reduction of "terrorist attacks" by waging war in two countries, and thus disqualifying any terrorist attacks there "because dontcha know there's a war on", seems to be a rather -- umm, "artificial" -- means of actually reducing terrorist attacks.

Cheers,
 

I don't believe the military was successful, even after decades of attempts, in creating the current situation which, although far from acceptable, at least has reduced terrorism from the PLO. The creation of Hamas was a byproduct of Israel's attempts to destroy, rather than deal with, the PLO.

How's that working out?
 

["Bart"]: NATO has been there for years and failed.

[Bartbuster]: Then why have you been repeatedly declaring victory over on your blog?

["Bart"]: The US/Brits/Canadians control Afghanistan and have defeated every Taliban attack from Pakistan. The failure is in dealing with Pakistan, not Afghanistan.


Huh? Must have been sleeping... When did NATO send troops into Pakistan?

Cheers,
 

The US/Brits/Canadians control Afghanistan and have defeated every Taliban attack from Pakistan. The failure is in dealing with Pakistan, not Afghanistan.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 12:56 PM


Baghdad, do you ever ponder why, 7 years after the invasion, we are still doing almost all of the fighting over there? Have you ever asked yourself why 30 million democracy loving Afghans can't defeat a few thousand Taliban "terrorists"? And why do you have so much trouble understanding that "winning" usually has very little to do with killing people?
 

[C2H5OH]: It is false that AQ is international as other terrorist organizations have not been. The PLO, for example, had support far outside of Israel and the occupied territories.

["Bart" DeUseABigHammer]: Another good example of the fallacy of the RAND comparison. The Israelis deal with the PLO and Hamas militarily.


Does that refute C2H5OH's point? No.

But let me ask you, WRT the Israeli approach: How's that been working?

Cheers,
 

c2h50h said...

I don't believe the military was successful, even after decades of attempts, in creating the current situation which, although far from acceptable, at least has reduced terrorism from the PLO. The creation of Hamas was a byproduct of Israel's attempts to destroy, rather than deal with, the PLO.

How's that working out?


Far better than if Israel simply sent in their version of the FBI.

In any case, Israel's problem is not military. The Palstinians are no match for Israel.

Rather, Israel has a political problem in that the Palestinians have been drinking the koolaid of the destruction of Israel for 3 generations now and will not negotiate in good faith for anything more than ceasefires to rebuild their militaries.

IMHO, Israel should informally notify the PA that it has 6 months to negotiate a mutually beneficial peace treaty starting with an immediate public and unconditional recognition of Israel's right to exist or Israel will impose its own peace by withdrawing the outlying settlements, annexing the adjacent settlements, recognizing what is left as the independent state of Palestine and walling it off.
 

IMHO, Israel should informally notify the PA that it has 6 months to negotiate a mutually beneficial peace treaty starting with an immediate public and unconditional recognition of Israel's right to exist or Israel will impose its own peace by withdrawing the outlying settlements, annexing the adjacent settlements, recognizing what is left as the independent state of Palestine and walling it off.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 4:24 PM


That's pretty much what they have already done. It's not working.
 

bb:

Israel's other two alternatives are to disband the State of Israel and leave or remove the Palestinians like we removed the Indians.

I would think that my suggestion is superior to those alternatives. The Israelis have moved toward my suggestion and have achieved most of their security goal of eliminating terrorism in Israel. However, Israel needs to put an end to the uncertainty that allows the Palestinians to cling to this delusion that they can win a military decision if they simply keep up the Intifada. Make it clear that there will ether be a final resolution of the issues by negotiation or by imposition by Israel.
 

Bart's gone off-topic again. The issue isn't what Israel should do, but what the USA should do. We do not have an inescapable need to create a dispossessed indigenous population to contend with -- although, under the invade-and-occupy strategy of the Bush administration, we've created such a condition. But we can, as the Rand report suggests we should do, avoid getting into a long-term occupation, in which case we can avoid having Israel's problem.

The point, for those still paying attention, is that Israel, in spite of decades of military action, has not prevailed irreversibly. In fact, they are not, to my mind, better off now than they were, thirty years ago.

Before we set out down the military path, I suggest that it would behoove us to observe Israel's experience and not put ourselves into an analogous position if we can avoid it.
 

wow .. so even the usually rightish RAND corporation.. a private think tank funded by the pentagon itself .. won't pass muster with our home-grown obscurantist flatheaded jacobins ..

so .. how about a direct quote from none other than Prezinent G.W. Bush himself ??

here's the quote:

" "I fully understand those who say you can't win this thing militarily. That's exactly what the United States military says, that you can't win this military [sic]." - George W. Bush, 17OCT07 "

so .. when the US Military .. and the RAND corporation .. and everyone who has studied this objectively says: "you can't win this conflict militarily"

which part of reality are y'all having trouble with ?? what part of "can't" is givin' you problems??

and no .. i don't agree that you cheerleaders for the war in iraq are more qualified to pass judgements and form expert opinion than the US Military .. and the Pentagon's private study group ..

so . .since it's quite obvious some of y'all have come to a very different conclusion .. how'd you get there in absence of any factual data anyone else agrees with ??
 

Where does one begin ? Perhaps with this pearl of wisdom from Mitch:-

I hope we end the "Global War on Terrorism", and start the "Global War against Orthodox Islam"

Now there’s a really informed comment. The figures for 2002 indicate just over a billion Muslims in the word as compared to 2 billion Christians – but the adherents of Islam are growing by about 2.9% per annum while the adherents of Christianity are in decline. By 2050, Islam will be likely to be the world’s largest religion. In Europe alone there now some 3.5 million Muslims or more and here in the UK there are more practising Muslims (defined as those who attend a mosque at least once a week) than there are practising members of the Church of England.

Most of us are already quite seriously alienated from the USA as a consequence of the so-called “war on terror” – my reluctance to travel to the USA is not merely motivated by the prospect of a non -smoking flight, but by my reluctance to engage in the new quasi-criminal US offence of “Flying While Muslim”.

Too many distinguished fellow British Muslims have been treated so disgracefully by the US authorities for me to wish to go anywhere near the USA while the present Administration remains in power.

So I hope Mitch's comment was in satirical vein, a "Richard Perle of Wisdom perhaps – because my feelings as a liberal, secular, only occasionally practising member of the worldwide community of Islam (and yes, we do regard one another as “brothers and sisters”) are as nothing compared to the feelings of the people in most countries where a majority of the population follows Islam.

Popular anger is not just directed at the Administration. A Pew Global Attitudes survey in July 2008 asked people in several Muslim states whether they liked Americans. In Turkey just 17% said yes, in Pakistan only 20% said yes, in Egypt only 31% said yes, in Jordan, just 36% said yes, and even in Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim country only 45% said yes and 44% said no – and that in a country where people hate to give offence to anyone.

It’s a massive turn-around from my youth when Americans were wildly popular throughout the Islamic world – and it hasn’t happened by accident.

So, Mitch, if you are serious, and I hope you are not, be prepared to turn large swathes of the globe into a parking lot. If the US “military solution” in tiny Afghanistan and little old Iraq has not worked - and it has not – the USA does not have the resources to put us all down on a global scale unless by a nuclear option.

Wisely and generously, the 9-11 Commission stressed in its Report that Islam is not the enemy - see Chapter 12, page 363:-

”Islam is not the enemy. It is not synonymous with terror. Nor does Islam teach terror. America and its friends oppose a perversion of Islam, not the great world faith itself. Lives guided by religious faith, including literal beliefs in holy scriptures, are common to every religion, and represent no threat to us.

Other religions have experienced violent internal struggles. With so many diverse adherents, every major religion will spawn violent zealots. Yet understanding and tolerance among people of different faiths can and must prevail. The present trans-national danger is Islamist terrorism.”


But in private and in the planning the so-called "war" on terrorism and the “Enterprise of Iraq” there was much Neoconservative propaganda to the effect that this was an inevitable clash between the "Judeo-Christian civilisation" of the West and the "deficient Islamic culture" of the Arab and Muslim world which had to be re-shaped in the image of American "Democracy Lite®" in order to safeguard US national interests.

Nothing could have been more mistaken than that world-view.

The RAND Corporation report seems to be right in many respects – and that is a subject on which I shall try to post further when I've digested a bit more.
 

It seems to me that ultimately the difference between war and law enforcement is one of scale more than anything else. The 9-11 attacks were clearly larger than mere crime and were met with an appropriate military response (scrambling fighters and authorizing the shootdown of any commercial aircraft that would not land). But neither is Al-Qaeda large enough to wage a true war on. The nearest analogy I can think of is a very large criminal enterprise, only less rational (from a materialistic standpoint) and more nihilistic.

The fact is, we don't have either the tools or the rules for fighting such an opponent. We need a new paradigm. The Bush Administration's approach has been to call it war because that frees them from those tiresome criminal rules and then to discard the accepted laws of war because what we are fighting is clearly not conventional warfare.

Lawlessness is not an acceptable paradigm. I am open to suggestion what our new paradigm should look like.
 

Might I begin by metaphorically putting my hand to my forehead to salute Professor Marjorie Cohen and thank her for her testimony to the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in which she called for a Select Committee of Congress to investigate not just the high officials, but the lawyers too.

Professor Cohen wrote:-

We might heed Canada's warning that a broader mission, under the auspices of the United Nations instead of NATO, would be more effective. Our policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan should emphasize economic assistance for reconstruction, development and education, not for more weapons. The United States must refrain from further Predator missile strikes in Pakistan, and pursue diplomacy, not occupation.

I could not agree more.

But I wonder if Professor Cohen is aware of this astounding interview originally published in the Nouvel Observateur:

Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser - Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998

Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Question: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
Brzezinski: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Question: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?
Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Question: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.
Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn't a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.
Full text of interview translated by Bill Brum

Brzezinski has a lot to answer for – it is really something of an outrage that he should be presuming now to proffer advice to anyone about Afghanistan.
 

I will point out -- to Bart or to anyone else -- that when the Soviets were in Afghanistan their situation was much the same as ours; they were fighting a foe with a safe haven in Pakistan. They did not cross the border into Pakistan, just as we did not cross the border into North Vietnam, and presumably for the same reason; they feared a superpower confrontation, just as we did in Vietnam.

Today we do not have to fear a superpower confrontation if we invade Pakistan. What we do have to fear are two other possibilities: (1) The conflict spreading beyond Pushtun areas into Pakistan as a whole and (2) the inflamed nationalism of a nuclear power.

I have long believed that Pakistan is the keystone/fulcrum/linchpin or whatever metaphore you prefer of our not-quite-war with Al-Qaeda. Finding an appropriate policy is the toughest, most intractable challenge to our foreign policy that I know of.
 

el:

There is an interesting debate going on in international law circles about whether we should start treating terrorists as pirates, who fall under a middle ground between law enforcement and war.

However, I would suggest that modern state sponsored terror is closer to the state sponsored (rather than free lance piracy) we dealt with in the First and Second Barbary Wars.

Indeed, this comment from the Ambassador from Tripoli to the United States before the First Barbary War should sound familiar to anyone who has heard the rhetoric of al Qaeda:

It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.

We have essentially treated al Qaeda and its state sponsors the same way Jefferson treated these pirates and their state sponsors.
 

enlightened layperson said...

I will point out -- to Bart or to anyone else -- that when the Soviets were in Afghanistan their situation was much the same as ours; they were fighting a foe with a safe haven in Pakistan.

This is true, but not dispositive.

In the 80s, Pakistan was less of a sanctuary than a source of supplies which the Soviets did not dare to reach. The Red Army never controlled Afghanistan and most of the Jihadi were based there. For example, the Red Army's most formidable foe was Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Lion of Panshjir, who repelled multiple Russian offensives into his Panshjir Valley base.

In contrast, NATO controls every town of any size in Afghanistan and the Taliban both base and supply out of Pakistan. There is no general Afghan uprising against NATO as there was against the Russians.
 

The Red Army never controlled Afghanistan and most of the Jihadi were based there.

Baghdad, you are probably one of the few people on the planet who thinks that we control Afghanistan.
 

mourad said...

Brzezinski has a lot to answer for – it is really something of an outrage that he should be presuming now to proffer advice to anyone about Afghanistan.

Actually, this is pure self aggrandizement on the part of Brzezinski. In fact, the Soviets had two concerns - neither of which had to do with the miniscule CIA financing of the rebels just prior to the intervention.

1) The Amin government came to power through a coup against the prior Soviet puppet regime. The Soviets were concerned that Amin was getting too close to the US and Pakistan and may even be receiving CIA pay.

2) The Afghan rebellion gained far more significance in Moscow when the US declined to intervene on behalf of its ally Iran and the country actually fell to an Islamic revolution. The Soviets were very concerned that if they allowed a similar result in one of their satellite countries, then their own muslim population could get similar ideas.

Consequently, if you want to credit/blame an Administration for the hell hole the US created for the Soviets in Afghanistan, blame Reagan.

However, the idea that the US started the Islamic fascist movement is more than a little absurd. That started in the 70s in multiple locations around the Middle East primarily in reaction to muslim embarrassment over having their asses kicked repeatedly by the Israelis and the corruption of their own secular regimes.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

[T]he US declined to intervene on behalf of its ally Iran and the country actually fell to an Islamic revolution.

Translated from "BartSpeak™" into English:

"The U.S. wouldn't stand in the way of the domestic uprising and overthrow of the brutal dictator the U.S. had installed via CIA coup a quarter century earlier. Sure, he was the U.S.'s puppet ... but he was getting embarrassing to the more level (less pathologically anti-Commie) heads in Washigton."

No charge. And easier than Babelfish.

Cheers,
 

the corruption of their own secular regimes.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 10:25 AM


AKA, US allies.
 

Bartbuster, not to agree with Bart or anything, but while many of the regimes Bart refers to were US allies, many others were not. Communism never made much headway in the Middle East, but socialism and pro-Soviet policies were widely popular. (The Russians were enemies of Israel, after all). Nasser, Qaddafi, and the Baathists (including Saddam Hussein) were all pro-Soviet so long as that was an option. So the "corruption of their own secular regimes" back in those Cold War days would include both US and Soviet allies.
 

The 3 hotbeds of Islamic radicals, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran, were/are all US allies/friends.
 

I'm not saying that we're the only ones responsible, but we're certainly not in a position to be pointing fingers at anyone else.
 

Bartbuster,

Actually, at the time when the philosophical antecedents of AQ were forming their ideology, Egypt was not a US ally.

On the other hand, what all this has to do with anything is beyond me. What I've read indicates that what drives the AQ and like-minded ideologies is an "Arabian peninsula for arabs" extremism that conflates religious, ethnic , and political fervor funded by an excess of oil money, and exacerbated by a shortage of work for the large number of young men in the region.

Calling the AQ "islamist" is, plain and simply, an attempt to denigrate Islam by association. Calling it "fascist" is an attempt to make AQ appear more dangerous by associating it with a dangerous political movement. To term the terrorists "islamic fascists" is profoundly dishonest and manipulative.

I would suggest, if people are in any way curious about the issue, that they use the google. Here is a link that I think may be useful.
 

c2h50h said...

1) Al Qaeda self identifies as an Islamic movement. Its entire raison d'être is spread its perverted view of Islam. Thus, it is impossible to discuss al Qaeda accurately without referring to Islam the same way it is impossible to discuss the Inquisition without referring to Chrisianity.

2) Fascism describes authoritarian mass movements which seek to convince those who feel powerless or disenfranchised that cultural decline or corruption brought about by a scapegoat is the cause of their problems and the remedy is to become strong by subsuming themselves under a uniting ideology. The Islamic movement which AQ leads fits the definition of fascism to a T.

Thus, Islamic fascism is a perfectly accurate term for this movement.

BTW, Austin Bay is an outstanding miliblog analyst and your linked article is well worth reading.
 

The Islamic movement which AQ leads fits the definition of fascism to a T.

So does conservatism.
 

I didn't know Bart was a wikipedia reader -- his definition is nearly word for word from the first paragraph of wikipedia's entry on fascism. I suggest reading a little farther down, where it talks about the elements involved in fascism.

It is necessary to squint pretty hard to make Al Qaeda look like corporatist statism, ala either 1930s Germany or Italy.

As bartbuster correctly says, American movement conservatism is a closer match to the definition Bart (and wikipedia in its first paragraph) gives, and I think it's a stretch even there -- although less of a stretch than seeing AQ as "fascist."

Because AQ is not statist, methods which follow the rule of local law, and which enable and reward legal political activity, but discourage and punish illegal activity, will suppress and weaken AQ. Had the US government restricted itself to following the money, using only (deniable) force when appropriate or unavoidable, and above all, not needlessly invading and occupying a country uninvolved in 9/11, it is likely, in my opinion, we'd all be a lot better off.
 

c2h50h:

My definition of fascism differs on two fundamental points from wikipedia's multi sourced amalgamation:

1) Nationalism is not a necessary element of fascism. Any ideology can be used as was shown very effectively in the California school teacher's experiment which was fictionalized in an ABC special called The Wave.

2) Blaming a scapegoat is a necessary element of fascism which Wikipedia somehow missed.

The idea that American conservatism or liberalism are "fascist" is laughable. Both movements are radically individualistic in their own ways and hardly call for the individual subsuming himself to the collective.
 

The idea that American conservatism or liberalism are "fascist" is laughable.

Not according to the definition you posted. The definition you posted fits your political beliefs to a T.
 

1) Al Qaeda self identifies as an Islamic movement.

North Korea "self-identifies" as the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Did you have a point?

Cheers,
 

... it is impossible to discuss the Inquisition without referring to Chrisianity.

But it would be fundamentally dishonest to attribute to all Christians "Inquisatorial" tendencies ... or would it?

Cheers,
 

... as was shown very effectively in the California school teacher's experiment which was fictionalized in an ABC special called The Wave.

As Monty Python would say: "Say no more ... say no more..."

Cheers,
 

Let's unpack the definition of "fascism" given by: "authoritarian mass movements which seek to convince those who feel powerless or disenfranchised that cultural decline or corruption brought about by a scapegoat is the cause of their problems and the remedy is to become strong by subsuming themselves under a uniting ideology."

OK, I'm trying to think of a mass movement that doesn't involve mass movements under a uniting ideology. Well, that's hopeless, by definition. How about not having a scapegoat, or are driven by feelings of disenfranchisement? Damn. Every group has a scapegoat, and people who are not feeling disenfranchised don't seem to find mass political movements attractive, for some reason. Seems like the only things that really characterize fascism from other mass movements are authoritarianism and the belief in moral decay. Is there any mass movement which isn't regarded as authoritarian by those outside it? Politically, claiming the opposition is in moral decline seems also to be universal, as admitting that they maintain a high moral standard doesn't seem to be a winning strategy.

I guess, by this definition, the Catholic church is fascist, as is the No Child Left Behind act, just to name two examples.

If we take that road, we'll be agreeing with Jonah Goldberg before long -- and I prefer not to go there.

If a term is so all-encompassing, then it becomes meaningless and trite and should be avoided.
 

Oh dear ! The RAND Corporation report appears to have had the effect of a powerful emetic on Neocon Bart, our own dear 'loathsome spotted reptile'. It has forced him to regurgitate some of the half-digested factoids we have seen on other threads.

What Bart obviously does not appreciate is the symbiotic relationship which has existed between the RAND Corporation and the professionals (as opposed to the politicians) in the US Department of Defence since RAND was formed in the late 40's under the auspices of Generals H.H. Arnold, Lauris Norstad and Curtis LeMay as the DoD's almost in-house R&D vehicle.

This latest report would not be the first time that the DoD professionals have commissioned a RAND report with the objective of placing before the political heads of the DoD an evidence-based analysis of a policy option the politicians might not like.

These are the dying days of the Bush Administration. At the start of this year, History News Network asked 109 professional historians to rate the Administration. 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while only 1.8 percent classified it as a success. More than 61 percent of the historians concluded that the current presidency is the worst in the nation’s history. Another 35 percent of the historians surveyed rated the Bush presidency in the 31st to 41st category HNN Article.

So the timing of the release of this particular report is perhaps even more significant. After all, there is no chance at all of the very lame duck Bush Administration being persuaded by mere 'evidence' that the cornerstone of its foreign and security policies has been an abject failure.

Unable, as serving officers, to speak out against the commander-in-chief's policies, I suspect the generals (maybe with a nod and a wink) commissioned RAND to produce this report and release it now with the intention that it would be read and digested by the policy advisers of the transition team of the next administration.

The candidates' advisers will well know of the RAND/DOD 'special relationship': they will understand, even if Neocon Bart does not, the significance of this report which would not have seen the light of day unless the generals wanted to send out a message.

The message is to both the Presumptive Nominees and it reads:

"The Bush Administration's policies have been a failure, so puhleeze avoid saying things between now and election day which will impact on your freedom as president-elect to plan a new policy based on the real evidence you will only get to see once elected."

No wonder therefore that Bart, an avowed Neconservative, finds the report unpalatable and describes it as 'nonsense'.
 

Necon Bart makes reference yet again to what he describes as:-

an interesting debate going on in international law circles about whether we should start treating terrorists as pirates, who fall under a middle ground between law enforcement and war.

I know not what Bart considers to be 'international legal circles' but the link is to a small journal called Legal Affairs. Th site gives one no information as to ownership but the domain is registered to Lincoln Caplan, and on the Yale site, Mr Caplan is described as "the editor and president of Legal Affairs magazine and the Knight Senior Journalist at Yale Law School".

The article is by Douglas R Burgess Jr who, apparently, has a Cornell Master's Degree in law and who is the author of some 'pop history' books on maritime subjects. It goes back to 2005.

His article article is referred to on the web site of Daniel Pipes and also posted on the website of Blackwater USA Blackwater USA Post of Burgess Article - neither site much of an institution of learning or what I would describe as 'international law circles'.

[By pure coincidence, on in a previous thread when the subject of letters of marque came up with Bart, I pointed out that the US Constitution actually permits the Congress to grant privateering commissions to a private company such as Blackwater].

The article is pretty elementary, but on the Legal Affairs site, there is also an on-line debate with Professor Michael Byers who holds the Canada Research Chair in International Law and Politics at the University of British Colombia in which the Burgess article is gently, but effectively, debunked.

The debate can be read on-line Byers/Burgess Debate and Professor Byers says, inter alia, this:-

"I'm writing from London, the site of last Thursday's atrocities, and sympathize entirely with your desire to strengthen the legal mechanisms concerning terrorism. But I'm not sure that your specific proposal makes sense, for two reasons.

First, I don't see the need for universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction was necessary over piracy because piracy takes place on the high seas—as well as, more recently, in the airspace above the high seas—and thus beyond the territorial jurisdiction of any country. Acts akin to piracy are, legally speaking, not piracy if they take place within any country's territorial sea or national airspace. But while those who commit acts akin to piracy within a country's territory are not subject to universal jurisdiction, they are subject to the jurisdiction of the territorial state, and will likely be extradited there if they flee abroad.
...
Second, the problem that you're concerned with isn't caused by limitations in existing laws. Rather, it's due to President Bush's decision to cast the entire effort against terrorism as a "war" instead of as an exercise in criminal investigation, prosecution, and transnational judicial cooperation, including extradition. By choosing the military rather than legal framework, the United States crash-landed on the unaccommodating legal terrain of self-defense, the UN Charter and the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

At the time, the decision was a mistake easily made, and not just because of the scale and horror of the September 11th attacks. The Taliban government of Afghanistan was willingly harboring senior members of al-Qaeda; it even went so far as to publicly endorse their actions. But a clear line should have been drawn between the responsibility of a country in international law, including for willingly supporting those suspected of serious crimes in other countries, and the responsibility of individuals under domestic criminal law. A country's sovereignty sometimes yields to a right of intervention when that country violates international law—as Afghanistan did—but it stands firmly in the way of force being deployed simply because a suspect is located there. Consider, for instance, the position of Germany after 9/11: The City of Hamburg had unwittingly harbored several of the terrorists, but surely you wouldn't accept that this fact alone could have justified a U.S. attack? As soon as it defeated the Taliban, the U.S. government should have shifted from a war-fighting to a prosecutorial mode.

It bears emphasizing that there is no shortage of criminal law applicable to these crimes. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon violated U.S. domestic law. If any perpetrators of those crimes are apprehended—most likely in the now fully cooperative countries of Afghanistan or Pakistan—they should be extradited to New York forthwith and prosecuted in a regular court there (as, indeed, were the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993).

The British authorities framed their response to last week's atrocities as a "criminal investigation." The army was not called in, and Londoners are back at work today. Let's not do the terrorists the unnecessary favor of treating their crimes as special."


It seems to me that this fits in nicely with what the RAND report is saying.
 

c2h50h said...

You are engaging in second rate deconstructionism.

Most mass movements involve people who feel enfranchised and able to make a difference and do not involve scapegoats.

Indeed, history's movements toward greater human freedom are the antithesis of fascist submission of the individual to the collective.
 

Bart,

Name all the "mass movements" of the last 100 years and prove that "most" of them fit your theory. Don't hurry. I won't be holding my breath.

Put it up on your own blog, though.
 

Indeed, history's movements toward greater human freedom are the antithesis of fascist submission of the individual to the collective.

That may be history's movement, but it's not yours.

Your movement is summed up in these 11 words:

"You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists"

Hitler could not have put it any better.
 

c2h50h said...

Name all the "mass movements" of the last 100 years and prove that "most" of them fit your theory. Don't hurry. I won't be holding my breath.

Those that fit the definition of fascism include the totalitarianisms of the past century such as National Socialism, Communism and the current Islamic strain.

Those that do not are democracy, the civil rights movements for women and minorities, the abolition of slavery, free markets, and free expression - which all promote individual freedom from the state or other collectives.
 

Hey Bart, "What is it about George Bush that makes you want to serve him?"
 

Commenting on Brzezinski's claim to have initiated support for US support for the Afghan rebels, Neocon Bart said:-

"Actually, this is pure self aggrandizement on the part of Brzezinski....Consequently, if you want to credit/blame an Administration for the hell hole the US created for the Soviets in Afghanistan, blame Reagan.

However, the idea that the US started the Islamic fascist movement is more than a little absurd. That started in the 70s in multiple locations around the Middle East primarily in reaction to muslim embarrassment over having their asses kicked repeatedly by the Israelis and the corruption of their own secular regimes."


For once I am in partial agreement with at least one part of a comment Neocon Bart makes in that I fully accept that Zbigniew Brzezinski has a very high opinion of his own abilities.

However, the CNN web site has copies of the memoranda from Brzezinski to Carter as part of its CNN Perspectives series:

US Memos on Afghanistan.

Fundamentally, Brzezinski was obsessed with the fate of his own country of origin (Poland not Canada) and the other satellites of Eastern Europe under Soviet control. So much so that he was prepared to urge action contrary to US best interests in Afghanistan simply in an attempt to bring down the Soviet Union.

This was yet another example of the consequences of having a person with strong personal ties to another country as a National Security adviser or in the State Department - one can never be really sure whether the personal ties are clouding their judgment on what the US interest really is. The same thing sometimes happens with advisers who have strong personal ties to Israel.

Neocon Bart is also right that it was the Reagan Administration which really conceived of massive intevention in Afghanistan in the form of a proxy way (financed unlawfully) and fought, not by the USA but by the "mujahiddin".

The Afghan War was one of the deadliest and most persistent conflicts of the second half of the 20th century. Nearly 2 million Afghans were killed (as well as at least 15,000 Soviet soldiers during the 1980s), and 600,000 to 2 million wounded. More than 6 million Afghans fled to Pakistan and Iran, producing the world’s largest single refugee population since 1981, while at least 2 million more Afghans were internally displaced. More than 50 percent of Afghanistan’s indigenous population (estimated at 15 to 17 million persons at the war’s beginning, now estimated to be as many as 22 million) became casualties—killed, wounded, or made homeless by the war. The Soviet army in Afghanistan and the Afghan communist government planted an estimated thirty million mines throughout the country, most of them completely unmarked and unmapped.

Insofar as the mujahhidin groups who came from came from throughout the Muslim world to fight the "jihad" against the Soviets, were brainwashed into salafist belief as part of their indoctrination and training before being set into battle against the Soviets - and thus trained and battle-hardened have returned to their own countries to indoctrinate others - the decision of the United States of America to have the CIA participate in the arming and training of these forces, must be counted one of the most serious instances ever of the "law of unintended consequences".

As we know, the Reagan Administration got the money in "unusual ways" - as Bob Woodward and others reported in the Washinton Post on 12 May 1987:-

President Reagan met personally with Saudi Arabian officials both on the eve of the Saudis' 1984 decision to begin contributing $ 1 million a month to the Nicaraguan contras, and again on the eve of the Saudi decision in February 1985 to sharply increase that contribution by giving $ 24 million more to the rebels, according to informed sources and public testimony. Robert C. McFarlane, Reagan's former national security adviser, discussed the second of those meetings -- between Reagan and Saudi Arabia's King Fahd -- in his testimony yesterday to the Iran-contra select committees. The first meeting involving the president, sources revealed yesterday, occurred in the first week of May 1984, shortly before the Saudis began contributing $ 1 million a month to the contras. Reagan met at the White House with Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador in Washington, the sources said. The White House has found no notes on that meeting, the sources added, indicating there is no evidence of what was discussed.

In that same month of May 1984, the Reagan administration invoked an emergency procedure to bypass Congress and sell the Saudis 400 Stinger antiaircraft missiles worth $ 40 million. In February 1985, Fahd paid a state visit to Washington and held a private conversation with Reagan, according to McFarlane's testimony yesterday. Reagan gave no indication to his aides that he and Fahd discussed aid to the contras....According to bank records and other sources, the Saudis first offered to contribute $ 1 million in May 1984 and made their first actual payment in July. In May 1984, The Washington Post reported that the CIA had actively solicited Saudi aid to the contras the previous month.

During the memorial day weekend in late May, 400 Stingers were flown secretly to Saudi Arabia then transferred to the oil kingdom after the president signed a transfer order at 9:30 a.m. on May 29. Sources said that the administration had initially placed strict conditions on the sale of Stingers but King Fahd, who was distressed about the conditions dispatched a long, personal letter to President Reagan through Prince Bandar. Bandar carried the letter to the White House the first week of May 1984. After Reagan read it, he said, "We don't put conditions on friends," according to two sources who were present at the meeting. White House spokesman Dan Howard yesterday said that eventually, however, the administration placed "the toughest conditions we've ever imposed on anyone for the sale of Stinger missiles." Howard said, "the missiles were sold for our own national interest," and had no relationship to the alleged contra assistance.

At the same time he authorized the transfer of Stingers, the president approved the deployment of a U.S. Air Force aerial tanker to assist in refueling Saudi jets, and the United States accelerated delivery by several months of $ 110 million worth of extra-capacity fuel tanks for Saudi F15s. One administration source said the Saudis considered the administration actions "an important favor" at a time of heightened tension in the Iran-Iraq war and Saudi anxiety about a possible Iranian attack on its oil fields...

In all, Saudi Arabia contributed $ 32 million to the contras in 1984 and 1985 - a time when Congress had severely restricted U.S. assistance to the contras. The Saudis have continued to deny they gave any money to the contras.

Part of the longstanding, close relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia involves the exchange of covert and overt foreign policy favors that predate the Reagan Administration. Saudi Arabia has made substantial covert contributions to the anticommunist resistance in Afghanistan, Angola and Ethiopia that also are being assisted covertly by the CIA. In the case of support to the Afghanistan rebels, the two governments have a secret agreement to match each others covert contributions dollar for dollar. The latest reliable figures show that each is providing at least $ 280 million a year.


Full text of article archived on Professor Cole's web site

The stinger missiles found their way to Afghanistan. CIA funding for Afghanistan was largely channelled through Pakistan's military intelligence service the ISI with the enthusiastic assistance of the islamist dictator Zia-ul-Haq. Saudi Royal family money also went largely via Pakistan, but in addition, there was much money raised from wealthy Saudi families sympathetic to the Mujahiddin cause.

The BBC's documentary series "The Power of Nightmares" reminded us of the contemporary scene: this is part of the transcript of episode II:-

VO: In 1982, Ronald Reagan dedicated the Space Shuttle Columbia to the resistance fighters in Afghanistan.

President RONALD REAGAN : Just as the Columbia, we think, represents man’s finest aspirations in the field of science and technology, so too does the struggle of the Afghan people represent man’s highest aspirations for freedom. I am dedicating, on behalf of the American people, the March 22nd launch of the Columbia to the people of Afghanistan.

VO: Since 1979, the mujaheddin resistance had been fighting a vicious war in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. But now, a small group in the Reagan White House saw in these fighters a way of achieving their vision of transforming the world. To them, they were not just nationalists; they were freedom fighters, who could bring down the Soviet Union and help spread democracy around the world. It was called the Reagan Doctrine.

JACK WHEELER , Adviser to the Reagan White House, 1981-1984: It was a small group of people and—yes, we did have. Everyone thinks, “oh, the Reagan Doctrine, the Reagan Administration,” like everybody was for. No. It was a small little cabal within the Soviet—within the Reagan White House, that really pulled this off. What united this small group of ours was the vision of bringing more freedom to the world, more security to the world, to actually get rid of the Soviet Union itself. As a result, supporting the freedom fighters became the premier cause for the entire conservative movement during the Reagan years.

VO: But the Americans were setting out to defeat a mythological enemy. As last week’s episode showed, the neoconservatives, who were now in power in Reagan’s White House, had created an exaggerated and distorted vision of the Soviet Union as the source of all evil in the world. One of their main influences were the theories of the philosopher Leo Strauss. He believed that liberal societies needed simple, powerful myths to inspire and unite the people. And in the 1970s, the neoconservatives had done just this. Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and other neoconservatives had set out to reassert the myth of America as a unique country, whose destiny was to struggle against evil throughout the world. Now in power, they had come to believe this myth. They saw themselves as revolutionaries who were going to transform the world, starting with the defeat of the Evil Empire.

RICHARD PERLE , Assistant Secretary of Defense 1981-1987: We’re closer to being revolutionaries than conservatives, in the sense that we want to change some deeply entrenched notions about the proper role of American power in the world. We want to see that power used constructively, and to enlarge the opportunity for decent governance around the world. We’re not happy about the old, cozy relationships with dictators.

VO: And the man who was going to help the neoconservatives do this was the new head of the CIA, William Casey. He was convinced that Afghanistan was one of the keys to this aggressive new policy. America was already sending limited amounts of aid to the mujaheddin. But now, Casey ordered one of his agents to go and form an alliance with the freedom fighters, and give them as much money as they wanted and the most sophisticated weapons to defeat the Soviet military forces.

MILTON BEARDEN , CIA Field Officer, Afghanistan, 1985-89: For Casey, Afghanistan seemed to be possibly one of the keys. So he tapped me one day to go. He says, “I want you to go out to Afghanistan, I want you to go next month, and I will give you whatever you need to win.” Yeah. He said, “I want you go to there and win.” As opposed to, “let’s go there and bleed these guys,” make a [unintelligible] Vietnam, “I want you to go there and win. Whatever you need, you can have.” He gave me the Stinger missiles and a billion dollars.

[ SUBTITLE OVER AFGHAN WAR SCENE : God is great!]

VO : American money and weapons now began to pour across the Pakistan border into Afghanistan. CIA agents trained the mujaheddin in the techniques of assassination and terror, including car bombing. And they gave them satellite images of Russian troops to help in their attacks.

[ SUBTITLE OVER AFGHAN WAR SCENE : Move your fat arse and shoot the f…ing rocket!]


The CIA organised the program to support the Mujahiddin with arms and funds in cooperation with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Bin Laden, and called upon the Gulf states and Egypt to facilitate the travel of Arabs who wished to participate in the fighting. Kamal Hassan Ali, then the Egyptian Minister of Defence, announced the training of Afghan volunteers in Egyptian army camps.

In 1980 the Egyptian Parliament issued an official invitation to Egyptian citizens to enlist in the Mujahiddin. Advertisements in the official papers invited young Egyptians to "join the caravan" traveling to Afghanistan. The Islamic seminary of Al Azhar which was and which remains a hotbed of islamist clerics also pitched in to recruit youth and send them over.

Many of those who went to Afghanistan went with the express purpose of gaining military expertise during their participation in battles there which would help them train their brothers and pass on their expertise.

In time, the Soviet Army was fought to a standstill. Gorbachev came to power in Russia and quickly realised that he had no alternative pull to pull the Soviet troops out. He sought to warn the USA that without some scheme for a transition to a democracy, Afghanistan would degenerate into a failed state and that this would result in a base for islamist terrorism. But this was the time of the Reagan Administration and the Neoconservatives running US foreign policy were not listening.

So the unintended consequence of the Reagan Administration's foreign policy towards the "Evil Empire" was the creation of Islamist Afghanistan as a haven and base for Bin Laden and the salafists who joined Al-Quaida and went on from there to pursue a policy of targeting Arab states allied to the USA, in particular Saudi Arabia and, later, the United States itself.

So Bart, in response to your invitation to blame the Reagan administration, the answer is that I most certainly do. The Soviet Empire was already broken beyond repair, and the crazy proxy war in Afghanistan created battle hardened and well-equipped terrorists who spread from there throughout the word to create today's problems. That's what happens when you allow Neocon 'loathsome spotted reptiles' access to the levers of power.

William Casey was a pivotal figure in the Iran-Contra Affair and just before he was to testify in Congress on the matter in December 1986, he suffered seizures and then underwent brain surgery; he died from nervous-system lymphoma without ever testifying.

The GHW Bush administration kept its distance from the Neocons, but many of the very same 'loathsome spotted reptiles' of the Regan era (including a number of pardoned felons) have played a large part in the 2nd Neocon Administration of George W. Bush - and with similarly devastating results.

By the way, the use of the term "Islamic fascist" is a gratuitous and blasphemous insult to a billion Muslims which is no doubt why it was popularised by the likes of Neocons such as Daniel Pipes and Richard Perle.

There are, of course, some Muslims who are also fascists - such as Reagan's ally Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan and Bush's ally in the same country - Musharaff. But I do not refer to the fascist Neocons as "Christians" or "Jewish" even those some of them are from one faith or the other.

If you must, use the word "Islamist" as did the 9-11 Commission. But as to fascism - this is a case of the Neocon pot calling kettles black.
 

Bart,

I am struck with admiration for the chutzpah of a person who can criticize someone else for "second rate deconstructionism" and then give us an argument as shallow as your last.

I don't care to compete in producing such low-grade BS, nor does this level of argument benefit the readers of this blog, nor does this relate to the topic, so I'll simply shrug and let the steaming mass lie where you've left it.
 

mourad said...

Fundamentally, Brzezinski was obsessed with the fate of his own country of origin (Poland not Canada) and the other satellites of Eastern Europe under Soviet control. So much so that he was prepared to urge action contrary to US best interests in Afghanistan simply in an attempt to bring down the Soviet Union.

Obsessed? I do not know about you, but if my country was occupied by the Soviet dictatorship with all freedom snuffed out, I would be obsessed with freeing her as well.

Furthermore, the US shared the common Soviet enemy with Europe and Afghanistan. Moreover, that threat was truly existential because of the nuclear weaponry on both sides. Thus, it was rather high on the list of US national interests to end the Soviet Empire.

Neocon Bart is also right that it was the Reagan Administration which really conceived of massive intevention in Afghanistan in the form of a proxy way (financed unlawfully) and fought, not by the USA but by the "mujahiddin".

Exactly. Reagan essentially reversed the Soviet strategy of creating "national liberation" movements against US allies against the Soviets themselves in places like Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola.

Insofar as the mujahhidin groups who came from came from throughout the Muslim world to fight the "jihad" against the Soviets, were brainwashed into salafist belief as part of their indoctrination and training before being set into battle against the Soviets - and thus trained and battle-hardened have returned to their own countries to indoctrinate others - the decision of the United States of America to have the CIA participate in the arming and training of these forces, must be counted one of the most serious instances ever of the "law of unintended consequences".

Not the way you think.

The Arab jihadi who came to Afghanistan and later become the basis for al Qaeda were organized by preexisting groups like Egyptian Islamic Jihad and wealthy Gulf Arabs like bin Laden. These people were not imported and trained by the CIA.

The CIA did train and equip the Pashtun Afghans, some of whom later became the Taliban.

As we know, the Reagan Administration got the money in "unusual ways" - as Bob Woodward and others reported in the Washinton Post on 12 May 1987...

We were successful in this campaign and during the later Persian Gulf War to get others to spend their treasure to finance our wars. Outstanding example of creative, out-of-the-box thinking.

VO: Since 1979, the mujaheddin resistance had been fighting a vicious war in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. But now, a small group in the Reagan White House saw in these fighters a way of achieving their vision of transforming the world. To them, they were not just nationalists; they were freedom fighters, who could bring down the Soviet Union and help spread democracy around the world. It was called the Reagan Doctrine.

Precisely. Within a handful of years it worked exactly as planned.

JACK WHEELER , Adviser to the Reagan White House, 1981-1984: It was a small group of people and—yes, we did have. Everyone thinks, “oh, the Reagan Doctrine, the Reagan Administration,” like everybody was for. No. It was a small little cabal within the Soviet—within the Reagan White House, that really pulled this off What united this small group of ours was the vision of bringing more freedom to the world, more security to the world, to actually get rid of the Soviet Union itself.

This is also an important point as to why Reagan was a great President. Reagan was not only fighting the Soviets, but also the entrenched bureaucracies with a vested interest in the status quo who were horrified at the thought of calling the Soviets what they were - an evil empire - and going on the offensive to overthrow the Soviet horror show.

VO: But the Americans were setting out to defeat a mythological enemy. As last week’s episode showed, the neoconservatives, who were now in power in Reagan’s White House, had created an exaggerated and distorted vision of the Soviet Union as the source of all evil in the world.

Euro leftist stuff and nonsense. Ask any one of the millions who suffered under communism whether it was Evil with a capital E. I served in Europe in the Army as the wall fell and was part of a group of intelligence officers visiting the Hungarian Army as part of an officer development mission. The Hungarians loathed their Soviet masters. As soon as the Soviets left, the Hungarians tore down all the communist emblems, restored the Hungarian symbols, moved their Army from the border of Austria back to the Russian border and asked to join NATO. The Hungarians attributed their liberation to Reagan and were in the process of naming various landmarks after him.

RICHARD PERLE , Assistant Secretary of Defense 1981-1987: We’re closer to being revolutionaries than conservatives, in the sense that we want to change some deeply entrenched notions about the proper role of American power in the world. We want to see that power used constructively, and to enlarge the opportunity for decent governance around the world. We’re not happy about the old, cozy relationships with dictators.

Bingo.

VO: And the man who was going to help the neoconservatives do this was the new head of the CIA, William Casey.

Casey deserves a lion's share of the credit for the liberation of the Soviet Empire. Apart from some fictionalized death's bed scenes, Bob Woodward's book Veil provides a pretty good summary of Casey's war against the Soviets.

Gorbachev came to power in Russia and quickly realised that he had no alternative pull to pull the Soviet troops out. He sought to warn the USA that without some scheme for a transition to a democracy, Afghanistan would degenerate into a failed state and that this would result in a base for islamist terrorism.

Nonsense. Gorbechev was not recommending democracy for his own country nevertheless Afghanistan.

So the unintended consequence of the Reagan Administration's foreign policy towards the "Evil Empire" was the creation of Islamist Afghanistan as a haven and base for Bin Laden and the salafists who joined Al-Quaida and went on from there to pursue a policy of targeting Arab states allied to the USA, in particular Saudi Arabia and, later, the United States itself.

There was nothing wrong with assisting the Afghans to liberate themselves. The mistake was failing to follow up by creating a pro American state in Afghanistan. We learned from that experience the second time around. This is also why a premature withdrawal from Iraq would have been a mistake similar to our withdrawal from Afghanistan in the 80s.

The GHW Bush administration kept its distance from the Neocons, but many of the very same 'loathsome spotted reptiles' of the Regan era (including a number of pardoned felons) have played a large part in the 2nd Neocon Administration of George W. Bush - and with similarly devastating results.

You bet. I made the point here over the past several months that the so called Bush Doctrine is really the Reagan Doctrine redirected at the Middle East. The results have indeed again been devastating - for our enemies. We have liberated 50 million people from two of the most vicious dictatorships in the word and largely destroyed the al Qaeda movement.

The Bush Doctrine is deja vu all over again on another count - the whining and doomsaying by the left here and Europe during the wars followed by excuse making after the United States wins victories over its enemies.

On a personal note, during the last half of the 80s, I had a great deal of fun at university debating with my universally leftist Poli Sci profs (one of whom actually had a Sandanista flag tacked up in his office) about the fundamentally evil nature of communism and the progress of the Reagan Doctrine in destroying the Soviet Empire. Indeed, I insisted on doing my master's thesis comparing R.J. Rummel's work and the Reagan Doctrine, which unfortunately was cut short when I was activated as an Army officer. It would have been fun to defend my thesis as the Berlin Wall fell.

20 years later, my debates on this and other blogs over the Bush Doctrine are almost identical in subject matter and the cast of naysayers. They are also identical in result - victory.
 

20 years later, my debates on this and other blogs over the Bush Doctrine are almost identical in subject matter and the cast of naysayers. They are also identical in result - victory.

Bart, unbeknownst to the typical neo-con such as yourself, we, the typical reality-based moderates of today see the neo-con method and it's psychological underpinnings for what they are, which is essentially a juvenile system of self-justification.

So weak are your minds that any significant possibility of error or moral deficiency must be categorically ruled out before any debate is begun. You are "right" by definition, not by any empirical standard. You typically lack the stomach to admit errors as any such admission would dangerously undermine your a priori assumptions about your own righteousness.

A wonderful example was your idiotic, fact-free claim that the character of Jack Bauer was the product of the "Hollywood left." When presented with empirical evidence of your own ignorance you react by staying true to your creed and ignoring the information which exposes you for what you are... an ignorant gasbag.

Isn't it strange that the man who counseled us to "love our enemy as ourself" and to "turn the other cheek" and to "let him who is without sin cast the first stone" was cited by George Bush as his favorite political philosopher? How does Mr. Bush--or Mr. De Palma--justify the use of unprovoked aggression in the case of Iraq in light of the rather clear message of Jesus Christ condemning violence? I think the answer is that the typical neo-con mind is too chaotic, disorganized and averse to unwanted information to recognize a moral principle in favor of the more immediate pressure of atavistic desires such as hatred and lust for revenge.
 

Well, there we are, Neocon Bart, revealed. He was in "Military Intelligence" - hopefully briefly, because in his case the expression is definitely an oxymoron.

Bart, thinks the Iraq War has been a massive victory - worth every last penny of the US$ 3 trillions spent, the more than 3,800 U.S. soldiers dead and more than 28,000 wounded, many so severely that they will never work again. (Let alone the estimated 1 million Iraqi casualties).

In contrast, despite all the Administration propaganda, misinformation and censorship, Polling Report says that as of 29th July 2008 66% of the American people oppose the War in Iraq, 57% do not think that the US is winning the war and 62% think a timetable should be set for withdrawal. Outside the USA the figures are, of course, very much worse.

In Bart's view the majority is composed only of the ignorant common people whom Neocons like Bart think should be misled with 'noble lies' - and, my goodness, there has been no shortage of lies from the Bush Administration albeit mainly of the thoroughly ignoble variety: such as "the US does not practice torture; the US respects human rights; the US has the best interests of the Iraqi people at heart; the war was not about oil; 'shock and awe bombing' minimises casualties; cluster munitions do not cause children to lose file or limb (tell that one to the Iraqi hospitals)"

Likewise, Neocon Bart deludes himself that the so-called "war" on terror has been a success and that US policy in Afghanistan is succeeding - only it is not - not according to the Rand Corporation, or to just about any other respectable source of information - but according to Bart, all their scholarship is just so much rubbish.

But the delusion which would be funniest of all (were it not so pathetic) is that our 'loathsome spotted reptile' believes that all the rantings which he characterises as "debates on the Bush doctrine" on this and other blogs have ended in 'victory'. In exasperation of the other participants perhaps.

It makes one wonder if there is a "Mrs Bart" and, if so, why she has not yet taken steps to have poor Bart committed to some suitable institution for the bewildered.
 

It makes one wonder if there is a "Mrs Bart"

Color me skeptical. Bart is married to his hatred of the "left."
 

Mourad:

I consult the facts on the ground, not polls, to determine victory.

In a war, when the enemy rendered combat ineffective and one has achieved every single pre war political goal, that is generally considered a victory.

When one achieves victory with the lowest number of friendly casualties and the highest ratio of enemy casualties to friendly in the history of a rather successful United States military, that is a cost effective victory. No Pyhrric victory here.

Thus, the question is why some our soldiers' countrymen and allies would go to such lengths to deny them credit for their victory?

BTW, Mrs. Bart and I have just celebrated out 20th. I will relay your heartfelt congrats to her.
 

Exactly. Reagan essentially reversed the Soviet strategy of creating "national liberation" movements against US allies against the Soviets themselves in places like Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola.

"Who cares about the fookin' people of the country? Let them die by the millions. What we care about is the initials behind the rulers' names, and how often and well they kiss our a$$ (see, e.g., "Mohammed Reza Pahlavi"). Or, as we used to say, 'better dead than Red' ... a choice that's for us, not them, to make on their behalf."

Cheers,
 

The Hungarians attributed their liberation to Reagan and were in the process of naming various landmarks after him.

... and the main street in the Kangnam district of Seoul, Korea ia named "Khomeini Street".

But WTF does Hungarian nationalism and dislike of the Soviets have to do with anything?

Cheers,
 

[Richard Perle, Straussian who thinks the truth is too good for the little people]: We’re not happy about the old, cozy relationships with dictators.

[RW authoritarian "Bart", who laps crapola like this up and smiles]: Bingo.


Then we have fellow PNAC member Rumsfeld over shaking Saddam Hussein's hand....

Cheers,
 

Indeed, I insisted on doing my master's thesis comparing R.J. Rummel's work and the Reagan Doctrine, which unfortunately was cut short when I was activated as an Army officer....

"Woulda, shoulda, coulda"

20 years later, my debates on this and other blogs over the Bush Doctrine are almost identical in subject matter and the cast of naysayers. They are also identical in result - victory.

A legend in his own mind, he is....

Well, don't let us detain you. To the tilt, my good Don; Dulcinea awaits your manly deeds!

Cheers,
 

Bart:
Thus, the question is why some our soldiers' countrymen and allies would go to such lengths to deny them credit for their victory?


Some of us don't believe that there has been a victory. Calling it one anyway changes nothing.
 

In a war, when the enemy rendered combat ineffective and one has achieved every single pre war political goal, that is generally considered a victory.

"Every single pre war political goal."

As William F. Buckley once said, that's interesting, from a pathological point of view.

And as Mattski once said, Bart has a bit of trouble distinguishing between his desires and the real world.
 

This whole comment thread is becoming increasingly ironic as it becomes increasingly about Bart, considering that, as has been noted before, a blog troll, which is what Bart becomes when he gets on certain subjects, is analogous to a terrorist.

I predict he'll soon fade back into the populace, to pop up on another thread in a few days with the same weapons, er, I mean assertions.
 

eric said...

Bart: Thus, the question is why some our soldiers' countrymen and allies would go to such lengths to deny them credit for their victory?

Some of us don't believe that there has been a victory. Calling it one anyway changes nothing.


Fair enough. Perhaps, you could tell me, though, who defeated the United States in Iraq?
 

C2H50H wrote:-

"This whole comment thread is becoming increasingly ironic as it becomes increasingly about Bart, considering that, as has been noted before, a blog troll, which is what Bart becomes when he gets on certain subjects, is analogous to a terrorist. I predict he'll soon fade back into the populace, to pop up on another thread in a few days with the same weapons, er, I mean assertions."

The Urban Dictionary defines a 'blog troll' as 'A depraved individual who sits in front of a computer all day and posts flames of an idiotic or pseudo-intellectual nature on public forums and private websites. Many of these people actually become emotional about what is said on the afore-said mediums and feel it is their duty to punish those who disagree with them. They too may pursue this object in an obsessive-compulsive manner.' That certainly sounds like our own dear 'loathsome spotted reptile'.

Bart, is without doubt an 'obsessive-compulsive' - his obsession being to demonstrate that the Neoconservative agenda pursued by the Reagan and Bush Administrations was 'good for America'.

Thus he approves of the Reagan Iran Contra operations (their manifest illegality does not worry him) - and he approves of Reagan's support of the criminal right-wing military dictatorships in Latin America (the dead, tortured, and disappeared worry him not one whit). He approves of Reagan's support for the islamist right wing military dictator Zia-ul-Haq in Pakistan and (somewhat inconsistently) of the Reagan administration's support of Saddam Hussein (inter alia, selling him the helicopters used to gas the Kurds and the pre-cursors for biological weapons).

Now he supports the Neoconservative-inspired Bush Administration adventures in Afghanistan and the Middle East and declares them to have been victorious - despite a growing body of evidence to the contrary. He approves of the use of torture, of the shock and awe bombing of Baghdad, of the use of rockets and helicopter gunships in urban environments.

He supports a doctrine of US exceptionalism (i.e. the theory that the law of nations does not apply to the US President). His view that the president is above the constitution and the law, and his unconditional support for his preferred leaders, right or wrong, is inconsistent with the Pledge of Allegiance he doubtless recites on public occasions, with the Oath he took when he was commissioned into the US Army and, presumably, with the Oath he took when he was called to the bar.

In other words, Neocon Bart is a fascist of the classic Hitler/Mussolini/Franco/Stalin variety whose fascist ideology is wrapped in the Stars and Stripes for presentation to the US populace.

In furtherance of the ideal of free speech, even for those whose opinions are anathema, Bart, enjoys the privilege of free posting on this blog. There are those who have advocated 'sysadmin censorship', others who suggest his poison should simply be ignored, and those, like me, who suggest that the best antidotes for fascism are (i) systematic refutation and (ii) ridicule.

Let there be no mistake: the idea that the executive (be it nominally headed by a president or a monarch) is not above the law is as fundamental to liberty as the concept that liberty also requires some legal constraints on the whims of a dictatorship of the majority.

Fascism has ultimately been defeated wherever it has been temporarily in power, be it in Europe, Latin America or elsewhere, often at a terrible price.

Perhaps Neocon Bart does not have any 'uniform fetish' as did earlier fascists. He may well not engage in the goose-step when emptying the trash or in the back-yard. Perhaps it is preferable to have him obsessively lurking in front of his computer obsessively-compulsively blogging away than to have him spouting the same rubbish in the family room.

But on the whole, the wives of fascists have had a pretty rough time, since fascist leaders tend to view women's role as that of breeding lots of little soldiers to replace those lost in military conflicts.

So I must decline our 'loathsome spotted reptile's' invitation to send congratulations to Mrs Bart on their 20 years' of marriage. Commiserations are perhaps in order.
 

Neocon Bart wrote:-

"Fair enough. Perhaps, you could tell me, though, who defeated the United States in Iraq?

The Neoconservatives who falsified the pre-war intelligence, wrongly predicted that the US invasion would be welcomed by the Iraqi people, wrongly predicted that that the war would be over in months, and wrongly predicted that the war could be paid for out of Iraqi oil revenues might be be pretty good candidates.
 

Those who ask "who defeated the United States in Iraq?" aren't asking the right question, because winning (or losing) involves much more than simply succeeding on every mission (Vietnam, for example) and does not necessarily involve only two sides (Bart's deplorable tendency toward the manichaean is well known).

The question really is who came out ahead and who came out behind thus far in Iraq? And the answer to who came out ahead is Iran, certain US contractors, and oil companies, Al Qaeda (multiple studies have shown that Iraq has boosted recruiting), and, to a far lesser extent, the Kurds and some of the Shia in Iraq -- and the Chinese. Who is way behind in Iraq is basically everybody else, but most especially the Sunnis in Iraq, the US military, and the American people, who will be paying for this for decades.

The next question is, who is winning and losing at this point in the GWOT? Even the Bush administration isn't declaring Al Qaeda on the ropes, the Taleban are doing fine, if there's been any great downturn in the threat from terrorist organizations, nobody has mentioned it. Quite the contrary, it appears, counter-intuitively enough (to some) when you put a heat source under the reactor, the chemistry becomes, shall we say, more interesting. Certain companies are making out like bandits, notably AT&T and its ilk, but also notably not Qwest.

Again, the losers thus far in the GWOT are the people paying for all the pointless and counterproductive strategies. We are mostly less free, less wealthy, and less happy than before.
 

and those, like me, who suggest that the best antidotes for fascism are (i) systematic refutation and (ii) ridicule.

I'm with you, Mourad. To paraphrase the Buddha:

"It is appropriate that there be ridicule in a matter--Bart's raving--that is ridiculous."
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

c2h50h said...

Those who ask "who defeated the United States in Iraq?" aren't asking the right question, because winning (or losing) involves much more than simply succeeding on every mission (Vietnam, for example)...

We lost the war in Vietnam because we surrendered the battlefield to the enemy and thus lost the final mission.

The question really is who came out ahead and who came out behind thus far in Iraq?

Ahead: The United States, Iraq, Iraq's neighbors including Iran.

Behind: Baathist state, al Qaeda, Iran's surrogates the Mahdi Army.

And the answer to who came out ahead is Iran...

Apart from no longer having Saddam as a threat, how do you figure? The elected Shia Iraqi government has spent the past few months crushing Iran's surrogates in the Mahdi Army and their Quisling al Sadr is in exile.

oil companies...

Please tell me when to expect all that Iraqi oil we supposedly captured. Gas is getting pricy.

Al Qaeda (multiple studies have shown that Iraq has boosted recruiting)...

Very 2006. al Qaeda in Iraq has been largely destroyed over the past year and a half and al Qaeda's popularity in the muslim world has cratered because of their barbarism in Iraq. Iraq is al Qaeda's graveyard.

Again, the losers thus far in the GWOT are the people paying for all the pointless and counterproductive strategies. We are mostly less free, less wealthy, and less happy than before.

Really?

What freedoms have you or anyone else here lost?

When did your taxes go up to pay for the war? The entire war has cost us about 1% of GDP and has been entirely paid by a fraction of the new revenues which came in after the Bush tax cuts of 2003. Those revenues are being paid almost entirely by the top half of earners and mostly by the top 10%. Do you belong to those categories?

Why are you less happy because your nation has largely won its war against al Qaeda? Think about it.
 

Just responding to specific statements and questions:

"thus lost the final mission" (in Vietnam).

And we are going to get out of Iraq, in the next couple of years, even according to McCain, which means that we'll have lost the final mission in Iraq.

"how do you figure?" (Iran is ahead in the occupation of Iraq.)

Like virtually the entire world, Bart. Frankly, if it weren't for the lucky circumstance that Iran is saddled with a leadership nearly as incompetent as that of the USA, and an inherently flawed centrally-planned economy, they'd be in even better shape.

"when to expect all that Iraqi oil"

The oil companies, who will make big money operating the oil fields, aren't going to pass that money to the American consumer in the form of lower oil prices. Only a complete idiot would think that the oil companies would reserve a fungible commodity for a single country.

As for recruitment by Al Qaeda, a simple calculation might help. There are a billion muslims, and the birthrate is about 2 percent, which means 9 million potential recruits for AQ every year (90 percent sunni, 50 percent male).

If only one in one thousand is sufficiently moved by the spectacle of an occupation of Iraq by westerners, that's 9000 recruits for AQ every year -- and that seems like a very low figure, given that, after 7 years of calamitous leadership by the current US administration, 20 percent still support it.

Given those demographics, it's going to take a widespread effort, with people on-the-scene everywhere an AQ hot spot might arise, to keep this under control. In other words, police work.

"What freedoms have you or anyone else here lost?"

Flown lately? How about purchased gas for your SUV lately? Sent an email or called someone overseas in the last few years? In each case, you were directly impacted by the GWOT.

And then there's the opportunity cost of all that money being pissed down the pantleg.

Faux stupidity for the sake of not admitting an opponent's points is not a very respectable tactic, Bart, but I guess you have to go with your strength.
 

oil companies...

Please tell me when to expect all that Iraqi oil we supposedly captured. Gas is getting pricy.


When oil becomes "pricey" and you have your hands on the oil, that's quite a deal. A fact that eludes "Bart"....

Cheers,
 

When did your taxes go up to pay for the war? The entire war has cost us about 1% of GDP and has been entirely paid by a fraction of the new revenues which came in after the Bush tax cuts of 2003.

I'm delighted to hear that the Bush administration hasn't plunged our nation into record debt. Oh, wait...
 

c2h50h said...

"thus lost the final mission" (in Vietnam).

And we are going to get out of Iraq, in the next couple of years, even according to McCain, which means that we'll have lost the final mission in Iraq.


Get serious. There is a difference between coming home after winning and retreating in the face of the enemy.

"how do you figure?" (Iran is ahead in the occupation of Iraq.)

Where does Iran or its Iraqis surrogates control any part of Iraq?

"when to expect all that Iraqi oil"

The oil companies, who will make big money operating the oil fields, aren't going to pass that money to the American consumer in the form of lower oil prices.


What American oil company was given a single Iraqi oil field by the Coalition?

In fact, the Iraqis will be shortly leasing their oil fields to the highest bidder out of four companies - two American, a Russian and an EU companies.

As for recruitment by Al Qaeda, a simple calculation might help. There are a billion muslims, and the birthrate is about 2 percent, which means 9 million potential recruits for AQ every year (90 percent sunni, 50 percent male).

If only one in one thousand is sufficiently moved by the spectacle of an occupation of Iraq by westerners, that's 9000 recruits for AQ every year -- and that seems like a very low figure, given that, after 7 years of calamitous leadership by the current US administration, 20 percent still support it.


In other words, like your "studies," you are making up fiction.

In fact, you cannot identify a concentration of even 9000 al Qaeda in any country. There are probably a few hundred left scattered in Iraq and and estimated 1500 or so in Pakistan. There are not appreciable concentrations anywhere else.

"What freedoms have you or anyone else here lost?"

Flown lately?


We were screening passengers before. We are simly doing it better now.

How about purchased gas for your SUV lately?

What in heaven's name does that have to do with the war with al Qaeda? If you want to lower prices, call your Dem rep and senator and demand that they allow drilling to increase supply.


Sent an email or called someone overseas in the last few years?

Yup. There is no evidence at all that I or my German friends were surveilled.

And then there's the opportunity cost of all that money being pissed down the pantleg.

We lost more money in the recession that was aggravated by the WTC attack. In any case, freedom from attack is not free.
 

silly rabbit ..

al maliki ..and his dawa and other milita friends are iranian surrogates ...
 

Bart:
Fair enough. Perhaps, you could tell me, though, who defeated the United States in Iraq?


I don't know, but that doesn't mean we won.
 

My last post on this thread. I'm sure it won't end Bart's BS, but I'm not interested in continuing.

Which of Exxon-Mobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, or some small companies is Russian? You neglected to mention the no-bid nature of the contracts, too, or that the first three are closely associated with American and British interests. That would appear to be lying by omission.

On your loss of privacy: Only an idiot thinks absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

The cost of oil is perhaps 45 dollars a barrel higher than simple supply and demand because of the GWOT, primarily because of Iraq.

Nowhere did I say 9000 per country. Look at those numbers, 9 million young men per year. Consider the effect of radicalizing them through the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you want a real study, perhaps we should commission Rand. Oh, wait, they already did one.

I suggest that you do a google search for the cost added to a barrel of oil by uncertainty in the middle east. Hint: it ain't trivial. It may be a dollar of the nearly four you are paying to buy a gallon of gas.

What does the cost of 9/11, which wasn't our choice, have in relation to the GWOT, which is a war of choice?
 

20 years later, my debates on this and other blogs over the Bush Doctrine are almost identical in subject matter and the cast of naysayers. They are also identical in result - victory.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 11:57 AM


I have to agree with Bart here. I have been watching him get his ass kicked all over the internet.
 

Fair enough. Perhaps, you could tell me, though, who defeated the United States in Iraq?

Baghdad, there was no WMD. There was no Al Qaeda connection. There was no reason for us to invade. We have pissed away 4,000+ American lives, who knows how many thousands of Iraqi lives, and about a trillion in debt, for nothing.

You must have a very unique definition for "winning".
 

"Bart" luvs him his "3-1-1" rule (do these folks ever tire of fighting the last war and winning this time?):

We were screening passengers before. We are simly doing it better now.

ROFLMAO....

What's today's colour code, "Bart"? 10 gets you 1 it's "Orange" (my thoughts on that here).

And some other humourous commentary here.

But do you have your duct tape and plastic sheet handy?

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DeFlacka:

What in heaven's name does that have to do with the war with al Qaeda? If you want to lower prices, call your Dem rep and senator and demand that they allow drilling to increase supply.

"... or the oil companies, who are not drilling on most of the leases they already have."

But I'd note that demand hasn't surged 100% in the last six years, nor production. It's the price. If the lack of drillng (that is to say, status quo ante) were the only factor, then we'd expect that prices would remain pretty much the same.

Just another transparent attempt to use a different issue to demagogue what the Rethuglicans have been thirsting for for quite some time ... sound familiar ... oh, yeah, like the war on Iraq.

Cheers,
 

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