Saturday, January 20, 2007

Does Pakistan Support the Taliban?

The New York Times asks the question: "Have Pakistani intelligence agencies been promoting the Islamic insurgency?" And the answer is, probably and for the following reason:

Western diplomats in both countries and Pakistani opposition figures say that Pakistani intelligence agencies — in particular the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence — have been supporting a Taliban restoration, motivated not only by Islamic fervor but also by a longstanding view that the jihadist movement allows them to assert greater influence on Pakistan's vulnerable western flank.

More than two weeks of reporting along this frontier, including dozens of interviews with residents on each side of the porous border, leaves little doubt that Quetta is an important base for the Taliban, and found many signs that Pakistani authorities are encouraging the insurgents, if not sponsoring them. The evidence is provided in fearful whispers, and it is anecdotal. ...

One former Taliban commander said in an interview that he had been jailed by Pakistani intelligence officials because he would not go to Afghanistan to fight. He said that, for Western and local consumption, his arrest had been billed as part of Pakistan's crackdown on the Taliban in Pakistan.

The frequency with which the words "Saudi Arabia" and "Pakistan" come up in connection with terrorist sponsorship is undeniable. In the global jihad the difference between friend and foe is less often due to national and organizational affiliation as it is to personal belief. It is networks of personal loyalty or tribal and religious affiliation rather than such Western concepts as "nationality" or membership in a particular government department that determines actual behavior. The modern day jihadi is like a ghost who walks through international and organizational boundaries where their enemies are stopped by them, often for legal reasons. Until we learn to walk through walls as they do, we will be operating at a disadvantage.

41 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Pakistan is sure conflicted, a real tinderbox...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
ridicule the appeasers
.

1/20/2007 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger romanesq said...

Pakistan is a very complex problem for the West with its conflicted society that is based on tribal rather than national identity. There has been a longstanding feeling that the West and especially the US is being played.

With Musharaf so near the edge on this tinderbox, I'm not sure what the US can do to effectively handle this ever changing problem.

It would be great if the Pakistani army had the will to go into Quetta and clean out some of the major Taliban players. But if you've noticed, it's almost always Al Qaeda people that they will produce in one fashion or another.

Has there even been a confirmed sighting of that crippled killer Mullah Omar. Until the PR guy gave him up and the ISI in Quetta, we haven't heard a whisper.

Apparently the Pakistanis like it that way. Sure hope there is a good plan because the Islamic bomb is real today and is going to be a problem. It may in fact land up being Pakistan not Iran as its source.

1/20/2007 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

This isn't news.

Of course the ISI has been supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Are either the Bush administration or his critics in Congress going to do anything about it? I don't think so. The folks who opposed liberating Iraq four years ago weren't interested in liberating Saudi Arabia, they weren't interested in invading the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan, and they weren't interested in attacking anywhere else either. They just didn't want the United States to use its military power -- period. (Back in late 2001, I kept hearing about how Afghanistan was turning into a quagmire...)

As far as I can tell, the anti-war folks just want the United States to become a big punching bag for terrorists while we are never allowed to punch back. How are we supposed to "win without war" when the other side is waging war and killing people while we aren't allowed to fight using anything other than flowers? Few people on the Left seem to care about people living under the tyranny of the House of Saud. Has the Left gone mad? The House of Saud is the giant pig in the room whose regime represents everything liberal democracy loathes, and yet our political establishment acts as though the Saudi royal family is some kind of friend!

Al-Qaeda is the ideological heart the Saudi State and as such should be regarded as a faction within the Saudi royal family. Osama bin Laden's organization is the lineal descendant of the Ikhwan, and as such, should be considered to be an appendage of the Wahhabi ulema and the Saudi religious police. Ever since 1930, the Saudi power has existed in tension between the two forces of extreme Wahhabism and outside pressure (first from the British Empire, and later from the United States). Seen in this light, the destruction of the United States can be seen as a means to shift the balance of power within Saudi Arabia (and Islam in general) toward al-Qaeda.

Did the anti-war crowd propose liberating Saudi Arabia back in 2002? No! Did they propose invading Pakistan's Northwest Province? No! And am I supposed to believe that if Israel and India were fed to the wolves, the terrorists would stop attacking us? Get real!

I am increasingly coming to the opinion that most American politicians don't really want to protect our country from al-Qaeda. Beltway politics is a far more important priority.

1/20/2007 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Alexis

The left, the house of saud, the ahhabi ulema, AQ, wahabbi, all suffer from the same problem - noblesse oblige.

Yes. My faults are your problem.

Who's the noble? Step forward Americans. You are obliged to support, no, ENDOW, every no hoper on the planet.

And apologise for your superiority, to boot.

Pakistan? A fucked-up dump with a veneer of Anglo civilisation at the highest levels. Only one worst place in the sub-continent, Bungling Desh.

Leave it to the Indians. Pincer movement. It's not just that everybody on the planet hates Islamofascism - they're right.

ADE

1/21/2007 01:32:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> Are either the Bush administration or his critics in Congress going to do anything about it?

They are fighting back with CIA & US Special Operations troops, which is the way most of the war against global terrorists will be fought.

There are many more Al Qaeda troops in Iraq now than on the day we invaded it, which is a strong hint that terrorism can't be stamped out by convention warfare alone.

It looks more and more like the "war on terror" will need to be fought the same way as the Cold War, a decades long struggle that requires a lot of patience and the use of all political, economic, and military tools available, not just conventional military attacks.

1/21/2007 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger R2K said...

Is Pakistan really one country? Or a collection of sects?



...

1/21/2007 05:56:00 AM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

Wu Wei,

Conventional War has not been tried yet. What we have been trying for some time now is the sort of carefully crafted limited warfare so adored by think tanks since at least Kennedy's years. It is exactly the sort of war that you advocate, not the sort of war that I advocate nor is it what the United States used to engage in. The tragedy has been that what we did in Iraq looks like General Warfare leading folks like you to believe that it doesn't work. General warfare is less about the equipment you use than the attitude you have. In general warfare Iran's supplying of material, training, and troops to killing US Marines would have mean the end of Iran. After that object lesson it is likely that others would not have been so anxious to supply our enemies.

General warfare would see these 7th century thugs off in short order. None of these folks we are fighting are capable of surviving for long without the active support of nations. And yes I know of all the studies that purport to show how these guys are all stateless. I call bullshit to that notion. Those studies are being done by folks who are big fans of having snake eaters chasing all the bad guys troops around while leaving the states running the shows alone.

Apparently 3,000 of us dying wasn't enough to get our political establishment off their asses and away from the notion of limited warfare. When 3,000,000 of us die then either they get off their asses or we will get on theirs forcing them to either fight or get out, then we will get on those 7th century thugs whose hopes for survival will last about 23 minutes after we get into power.

That we have to wait till millions of us die before we take out folks who have promised to murder us all is a terrible indictment of our political system.

1/21/2007 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

There is no such thing as "the military mind" and use of that phrase is a 100% reliable indicator of a lack of applicable experience and education - but there are certain attitudes and mindsets that are more common in the U.S. Military, although not unique to it.

One of these mindsets is that it is far more important WHO does something and the WAY it is done than if it gets done competantly - or for that matter, done at all.

An unsolved problem - or simply a task with well defined requirements - may be allowed to go undone for an extended period because the structures in place do not allow such a mindset to accomplish the task. I can recall converstaions with Colonels in the Pentagon to the effect that a certain problem could not be fixed because it was not "ours" to fix - despite the fact we had the knowledge to fix it.

One of the good things about the American way of war is that when the shooting starts there are people around who care more about getting the job done than following the structures and procedures. During periods of peace the structure fanatics hold sway and proliferate.

One of the biggest problems we face today is that during the downsizing and pointless operations of the 90's a certain mindset that took over - and the War on Terror/Long War does not represent enough of a challenge to put the right people in charge. There is not enough shooting - or threat of shooting. People do not feel threatened.

The walls we refuse to walk through are not even there. Some of us just think they are.

1/21/2007 08:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course there are elements within Pakistan's ISI with links to the Taliban, forged at our urging when Pakistan was at the front line of the cold war following Russia's invasion of Afganistan. Pakistan has little choice but to play on both sides as America's internal politics make Al Queda's defeat problematic. Pakistan will only back one side, or the other, when there's a clear winner.

That said, Musharaff is remains friendly with the United States for other reasons as well, believing we'll serve as a brake on India's more militant desires. It's a complex world. Get used to it. Now, Saudi Arabia is another question entirely and far more dangerous than Pakistan could ever hope to be.

1/21/2007 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

wu wei - They are fighting back with CIA & US Special Operations troops, which is the way most of the war against global terrorists will be fought.

Those fascinated by the Special Ops Supersoldier as solution to all - They repel down cliffs! Have high-tech wonderweapons! Shoot better! Can kill 3-10 for every one of theirs killed!

Forget a few things.

There are only 60,000 of them. Most all don't speak the languages of the enemy or have the ability to mingle. They got a bad (for many Americans who thought like Bush, "Rummy", and Wu Wei) they were invincible based on the stupidity of Taliban and AQ who did the Jihadi equivalent of Banzai charges into devestating forepower.

Now that the real world has taken over, we see our high-tech supersoldiers designed for specialized missions and backed by fiendishly expensive support (9-11 military support jobs per combat soldier) now fumbling around playing "whack a mole", lacking intelligence, and getting blown up by guys that come in Jihadi millions of possible recruits, cost hundreds of bucks, not thousands, or USA millions - to train and place against "elite" soldiers. Who have only a 3:1 KIA advantage since IEDs came in.

Our solution is to spend 480 billion so far for it. Take 30,000 casualties. Practice "catch and release". Do stuff like move an aircraft carrier so Dildo Force Team #3 or a Marine squad can have 70 million dollars worth of support flying above offering some protection and offense as long as the "evildoers" who might be in the town don't just snipe and lay booby traps...

No, I agree with Pierre Legrand..the infatuation with the 60,000 high tech supersoldiers with "cost is no object" is half-assed war. Left as is, it is at best a stalemate in just Iraq - only 22 million of the 1,310 million strong Ummah - costing us billions a week in just that small country and bleeding out 100-250 Americans a month from death or disabling wounds to no discernable effect. The real problem is the Muslim states. Along with the international laws and treaties the Left and Jewish transnationalists set up that bind us, but leave Islamoids who follow no rules of war free to operate.

In a "special ops war" with our guys trying to use high tech and raw money spent to compensate for low numbers, no language skills, and lack of intelligence against Jihadi ghosts, we either lose or cause a stalemate until the sheer unbelievable expense causes retreat.

Pierre Legrand is right. We will need to do conventional war.

What Pierre doesn't say is that we will have to take losses (like Iraq probably) and bleed more by Jihadi hands before we can get the popular will for conventional war and the reversal of all the laws and treaties the Jewish transnationalists and the Left foisted on us, and hamstringed us by.

Legrand is right in that this war could be over in 23 minutes. But that will take significant bloodshed being done to us 1st.

1/21/2007 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Does Pakistan Support the Taliban?

Is the Pope Catholic or does he try to bridge the divide?

1/21/2007 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rwe,

The warfighters that can get the job done are reluctantly put in at the last minute and then villified as soon as possible after the war is won.

Look at Patton in WW2 and Sherman in the Civil War.

The problem with modern limited warfare in an open democracy is outlines nicely here.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/01/post.html

We are once again fighting a limited war.

1/21/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger buck smith said...

Was Sherman villified after the Civil War, apart from in the South? I thought he could have one the Presidency any time he chose to run.

And Great Post Wretchard! With a beautiful and poetic close.

1/21/2007 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

I believe we all know that Musharraf stopped supporting the Taliban only after Richard Armitage made him an offer he couldn't refuse. After being forced to publicly support us in our campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban, Musharraf has become the target of multiple assassination attempts. Musharraf now has no choice but to oppose the Taliban both publicly and privately. However the many people within the Pakistani government who helped build and maintain the Taliban are under no real obligation to follow Musharraf's lead. Why should they? The next assassination attempt against Musharraf might succeed and his successor be an al Qaeda stooge.

Isn't that a happy thought?

An al Qaeda stooge controling Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

If it happens, I hope the Indians are prepared to promptly clean up the mess (their own survival will demand it).

1/21/2007 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

One action at a time. But very much like the mafioso they'll come a day of reckoning for those who are now "with us", Saudi Arabia,Pakistan, et. al. but in reality are playing a double game....as we are..
But accounts will get settled. Black ops never sleep.
EBPYCBMAASMC

1/21/2007 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the Bing West article in the new National Review. He speaks to this issue.

1/21/2007 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the Bing West article in the new National Review magazine. He speaks to this issue - being able to identify jihadists.

1/21/2007 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

I happened to come across a Frontline show called "return of the Taliban" last week while channel hopping. There's a lot of info at the PBS site about this show on this issue.

Return of the Taliban

You can watch the entire show online or read much of the text.

In short, Pakistan is a complex problem for the west. Yes the Taliban is certainly making a resurgance. Mullah Omar is allegedly living in Quetta under ISI protection. Musharaf is torn between monetary inducements from the US and the fact that many of his countrymen are religious fanatics that support terrorism. If he acts against them he may lose power. If he doesn't act against them he may lose the support of the US. He treads a fine line attempting to maintain a balance.

1/21/2007 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Sardonic said...

This is an exercise following things to their logical conclusion despite the politically incorrect nature of the concept:

If it does come down to Total War then I don't see why the US would waste energy and lives on a conventional invasion. Why bother? We have nuclear weapons. We even have ones that kill the bad guys and leave the buildings standing so that the good guys can move in afterwards (neutron bombs, remember those?). Too much death for you? Ok, how about the EMP weapon which would take out their infrastructure (before they take out ours with the same tactic)? Oh it's too (insert lameass excuses here)? Oh. Ok. Prepare to be killed then.

Total War, people, means Total War or in other words Actual War (meaning you are actually fighting to Win, not appease a certain set of wimmsy-minded politicos on the Left). You want to act like wimps in the face of your fiendish Foes by holding back while they slit your throats? Well then you should prepare for the destruction of everything western civilization has built over the last 4000 years with special destruction going to the concept of Liberty, which will be first to have its head sawed off with a rusty knife. The Grand Caliphate will not suffer insubordination of any kind, and they will make a religious fetish out of ensuring that they crush with hideous effectiveness anyone who dares to question them. For examples look up how the Taliban Justice handled those who they caught watching western videos like Bambi, and Micky Mouse (being beaten to a thoroughly bloody pulp and then thrown in dark filthy chamber filled with flesh eating insects to die horribly over many days; if I recall correctly was an actual Taliban punishment for the above mentioned "crime"). These are brutal killers, enslavers, and torturers. You should try to remember that when you order your big macs and watching "Desperate Housewives".

My impression thus far is that even for the Total War talkers, they don't really mean TOTAL War. They actually mean Partial-Total War, or just Bigger War, or Lots More Manpower War. Which is the same thing as we are doing now, only in larger numbers, which will inevitable cause more of our own casualties - for no apparent reason that I can see.

Total War, however, is where you STRIKE TO WIN with what you've got - and in our case that's Nukes, Chemical Weapons, Biological agents and whatever else we have in the old secret arsenal. Can't stomach that? Oh well. Then prepare to lose because you can not win if you do not have the will to win. Period.

Oh, you do want to win this thing? Then you must become *more* ruthless than your enemy (and we already know how ruthless the Enemy is - watch the videos)! Otherwise you might as well just shut up and put on your Burkas and start praying toward Mecca.

And no, I don't think it's an absurdist position to take. What AQ originally said was that they would hit us in the economy by bleeding us to death. And guess what? At $400+ billion and growing they are having remarkable success in draining us via the Limited War doctrine instituted under Kennedy. They knew that. It was their plan. It's a good plan, as evidenced by the fact that it's working.

As long as the Enemy can keep us from figuring out the real meaning of Total War, they will continue to win. On the day that we figure it out, they will lose - perminently. Forever. Get it?

The point I'm getting at is that we need to reconsider our attitudes toward our Enemies and War in general. Since the 60's we've been very concerned about our Image in the world, and so we've tried increadibly hard to appear to be "nice guys", giving away money in the billions, refusing to use our weapons for the purpose they were intended, and so on.

That is a failing strategy in war. Nice guys don't win wars. Period. Even the Chinese know that.

1/21/2007 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Sardonic said,

If it does come down to Total War then I don't see why the US would waste energy and lives on a conventional invasion. Why bother?

Oil. Or oil and money. America has pretty good economy, that unfortunately relies upon the consumption of oil and the extension of credit from foreigners.

30% of the worlds oil comes from countries you will need to destroy if Total War is fought. Securing the oil fields from damage is not possible. An invasion takes time and allows the enemy time to sabotage. Nukes destroy vital infrastructure. (Neutron weaponary killing people and destroying electronics in a oil refinery merely removes the safety apparatus that normally stops an oil refinery from igniting.) An attack would probably leave the oil infrastructure damaged for between 12 and 36 months. Inflationary pressure would be very large.

The Saudis alone purchase 10% of American bonds. Forceful removal of this evil regime will result in American interest rates increasing substantially. Saudi pegs to the dollar, removal of Saudi economic strength (which is very good) will see the dollar fall and inflation will occur. High inflation and high interest rates = recession.

1/21/2007 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

BTW everything Sardonic says is pretty much correct, the war will not be won the way it is being fought.

1/21/2007 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Sardonic said...

unaha-closp: Thanks for the thoughts. Well, Total War (or fighting to win, however you wish to phrase it) requires sacrifices. The ones you mention are all economic in nature and as far as I'm concerned doable, if it means we survive rather than perish at the hands of a ruthless evil enemy bent on destroying/enslaving us.

When the fight is for one's life, you should be willing to lose your shirt, your pants, and your underwear to defeat the Enemy. If you are not willing to endure sacrifices, even large ones, in order to survive then it is doubtful that you will survive.

All of the oil in the world will not make one speck of difference to any of us if the Enemy wins.

1/21/2007 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Some cable station, today, carried a rather typical PC program examining the revolt of the Celtic queen Boadicea against the Romans in 60 A.D. While 99% of the program could be called pap and crap, a telling tale was told when at last Boadicea faced a Roman legion in battle. Long story short, the Roman army lost 400-500 killed, while inflicting upwards of 80,000 fatalities on the Celts.

Question:
___Is there a Western commander in the field who would permit his forces to inflict such a one sided defeat on any Muslim adversary?

Fact:
___Following the wholesale slaughter of the Celts, preceded just days before by the extermination of the Druid priesthood, the Romans ruled England for 350 years, never again facing substantial armed revolt.

1/21/2007 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Sardonic said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/21/2007 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Sardonic said...

Two commentaries well worth reading:

A bipartisan bane for jihad
Today Tehran, Tomorrow the World

1/21/2007 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Sardonic,

Though I instinctively agree with your position it is a question of the costs of action versus the costs of inaction.

The enemy is a bunch of Arabs of a screwed up religious bent (see Alexis' comment further up) and the chances of them destroying/enslaving us are low to non-existant, because they are very weak. The cost of inaction is the cost of whatever damage this weak enemy can do to us. Might we not do more damage to ourselves by launching an all out attack?

To justify total war requires inflating the potential damage they can inflict or establishing a profit motive for acting.

1/21/2007 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

The enemy is a bunch of Arabs of a screwed up religious bent (see Alexis' comment further up) and the chances of them destroying/enslaving us are low to non-existant, because they are very weak.

Actually the enemy is a bit more involved than simply a bunch of Arabs. The last poll of Indonesians found that a startling 36% of them believe that Bin Laden is a hero. Luckily this is down from 56% in 2003. What was the common thread amongst this group...?? Do I have to say? All muslim.

Abu Sayyaf in the Phillipines are not Arabs...they seem to be doing a fair imitation of Arabs. Common thread? Dare I say?

Iranians are not Arabs...before Al Qaeda they were the number one killer of Americans. Matter of fact they managed to kill more Marines in one day than anyone else since WW2.

Turks are not Arabs and they did a fairly good job of killing Christians...course that was a long time ago. Back in the early 20th century. Common thread?...ding ding ding.

Now you say but how can these people hurt us. Gee lets see someone gets their hands on a couple or three of Pakistans nuclear weapons and sets off a couple in some ports. Then they go on Al Jazeera and threaten to blow up several more if their terms are not met. They start off modestly merely asking that we stop selling Arms to Israel and take our Armies such as they are out of Iraq. In 10 years your daughters will be wearing burkas.

Read some history about Islamic conquest...they are not to be trifled with.

1/21/2007 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

Darn I forgot to mention the most important ingrediant that the "arabs" have that we do not have...the will to fight and win. And all that entails in regards to inflicting casualties on the enemy. While we debate amongst ourselves about how we will be views amongst the world they worry about how they will win. Pray the don't get some serious weapons because at that point various points inside of our country will glow.

1/21/2007 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

wu wei:

They are fighting back with CIA & US Special Operations troops, which is the way most of the war against global terrorists will be fought.

...like how we sent special forces against Yasser Arafat when he ordered the murder of American diplomats? Am I (or any of our enemies) supposed to assume that account will ever be settled?

Seriously, while the CIA and Special Operations forces can do some good, there are limits to what "black ops" can do. There are times when an enemy cannot be defeated without "conventional" forces.

For example, British intelligence, the OSS, and the French resistance did invaluable work in facilitating the Normandy invasion, but sabotage and special operations had an essentially auxiliary role in supporting the conventional military invasion of Normandy.

Likewise, while the good work of the CIA and Special Ops in Somalia are making a difference, it helps to have a conventional military from Ethiopia on our side.

My point is that conventional military combat is important, and it's especially important as a means to convince certain people to cooperate with us on our secret warfare. If our entire military were converted into Green Berets, I don't think our national defense would be well-served.

The public needs a means to identify with the wars America is waging. As a rule, the public will not support a war that it doesn't understand even on a rudimentary level. It is difficult to support (or even oppose) a secret war if it is, well, secret. (And when secrets do come out, they are usually bad news...) The advantage of sending conventional forces into a theater is precisely because Americans can be convinced to support their own side against their enemy. What annoys ordinary Americans is (1) a casus belli that doesn't make any sense, (2) an enemy one can't see, (3) allies who seem to be as bad as our enemies, and (4) a situation where our forces look like sitting ducks. It is critically important to be able to both simplify one's explanation of a war and be (mostly) truthful in one's explanation -- not an easy task, mind you, but not impossible either.

It may sound a bit annoying, but it would be much easier for ordinary Americans to support our secret wars against the terrorists if there were a few semi-realistic spy films that involved shooting the bad guys. If you want to get awards at Cannes, make sure there's ambiguity, cynicism, and paradox. If you want to win this war, compelling dramas with good guys, bad guys, and an honest portrayal of the evil our enemies are doing would be more helpful.

1/21/2007 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger Darkstar said...

Why not outsource the problem to Blackwater USA and Greystone Limited?

1/22/2007 01:23:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> Conventional War has not been tried yet.

Conventional warfare has been tried and it failed. That is the reasons for problems in Iraq. Fighting an insurgency with conventional tactics doesn't work.

The common response is to get tough. People admit that conventional warfare has failed, but that we need to do more of the same but harder. That won't work for reasons I'll show below. In an insurgency battle, the terrorists can always use more violence and scare people more than we do, even if we used nuclear weapons. Fighting insurgents is not the same thing as fighting the Japanese and German governments in World War II, no matter how much we would like it to be. Conventional warfare tactics fail against insurgencies because they are too soft, and not violent enough.

(1) Conventional warfare - Enemy is sponsored by the government. Enemy's troops have heavy equipment like tanks, and so must be well trained and specialized. Troops must band together in units like batallions. This means that the troops are concentrated, and there can never be enough to occupy every neighborhood in the country they are fighting against.

(2) Insurgency / guerrilla warfare. Troops are lightly armed and in small units, often even working alone like in planting IEDs. Very little training is required for some of the operations so civilians become guerrillas and guerrillas become / impersonate civilians. Even if 10 guerillas are killed, another 100 civilians could quickly become guerrillas, so the result is even more insurgents.

Since the insurgents are so lightly armed, they form small cells and are capable of occupying every neighborhood in the country. (Like Saddam's "Baathist on every block")

This ability to be in every neighborhood, widely dispersed, is the reason why conventional warfare tactics fail against insurgencies. The basic conventional warfare tactic is to kill the enemy. This doesn't work in guerrilla warfare because the enemy is so widely spreadout that we don't know where they are and can't bomb enough to kill all of them, and civilians can easily become guerrillas to replace any enemy we do kill.

The other main coventional warfare tactic is intimidation, that the conventional army is so powerful and in the past has shown its strength by violence, that most people won't challenge it.

This intimidation won't work against insurgencies because the insurgents are in every neighborhood while the conventional army isn't. An insurgent's gun held to the head of a local villager is more frightening than any memories of past violence from the conventional army or the knowledge that the conventional army has tanks 100 miles away. What matters most to the villager is that the insrugent is holding the gun to his head now. All the good things government might be able to give, and the bad things its powerful army might do to him, mean nothing to the villager when his Al Qaeda next door neighbor is watching his house right now, ready to torture and rape his entire family at the first sign of disobedience.

So killing the enemy and intimidating them won't work in a guerrilla war. Instead, the key to winning a war with insurgents is to occupy and hold territory.

Basic government services like security, law & order, and utilities need to be provided to residents of the territory we occupy. The enemy will try to disrupt those services in our territories, and we should disrupt it in theirs.

1/22/2007 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

In addition to what I already said, propaganda matters in an insurgency war. This is because civilians can become insurgents, and because civilians can choose to provide or not provide important intelligence information to either the government or insurgents.

Occupying territory is most important, because nothing beats a gun to the head, but the propaganda war is also important. If the people come to see the government as evil or impotent (because the insurgents have disrupted government services), then many citizens will help the insurgency every way they can, including becoming guerrillas themselves.

But if the citizens favor the government, many of them will stop working for the insurgency, providing intelligence to it, and may even switch to the government's side.

1/22/2007 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> like how we sent special forces against Yasser Arafat when he ordered the murder of American diplomats? Am I (or any of our enemies) supposed to assume that account will ever be settled?

For the sake of the many, the few must die. This seems so trivial that I'm surprised people even mention it. We do what is best for the whole country, not a few diplomats.

I would hate to see becomes as weak as the Phillippines, pulling all their troops out of Iraq because a few hostages were taken. It would also be a mistake to adopt Israel's weakness relative to POW's, where it negotiates with terrorists and changes government policy for even a single POW.

BTW, Arafat is dead. I don't know the history of all the terrorists involved, but it is possible many of them died at the hands of the CIA and US Special Operations.

1/22/2007 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yes, wu, the local populations are conventionally relocated to refugee camps, the cities "cleared".

For all those not in the approved Camps, it's Open Season. Destroy the Insurgent infrastructure, then destroy the Insurgents, minus the refugees.

The idea of fighting a War amongst the population, allowing the Enemy to use the civilians for cover and concealment, without cost to that population is very post modern thinking and unsuccessful in practice.

1/22/2007 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

Wu Wei,

Your saying that conventional war has been tried does not make it so. General Warfare would have seen Iran destroyed after a short attempt at a diplomatic solution. Fallujah would have been flattened prior to the Marines entering the city. For those who say that we would have created more terrorists, I call bullshit to that notion. If we could destroy the will of the most dedicated and fearsome army we have faced, the Japanese, through intimidation and outright destruction we can destroy the will of anyone. No one was more dedicated than the Japanese and they sued for peace.

We have worried more about being loved than being feared and it is better to be feared than loved if one must choose only one. We must be feared again before they can love us. Our friends must know that any attack on them will be met with overwhelming force. Furthermore our troops must know that we will not sacrifice ONE of them for 1,000 of the enemy or those who shelter the enemy. In Fallujah we sacrificed our men for those civilians who were sheltering the enemy. I call bullshit to that idiocy.

General warfare has not been tried because if it had been tried Tikrit, Fallujah, even a good portion of Baghdad would be nothing but rubble. General Warfare has not been tried because the Governments of Syria and Iran are still belligerant.

Snake Eaters are wonderful soldiers and the country owes a great deal to them but we are depending too much on them right now.

1/22/2007 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Fallujah was rubble. We lost Vietnam. It just doesn't work. We can't be insurgents that way. More of a failed strategy, tried harder, just fails more.

We blasted Fallujah to rubble, but nothing beats a gun to the head now, as I've said. That is the ultimate violence. Past US bombing and shelling means nothing compared to that. It is too weak.

If the government of Iraq had been stupid enough to come at us conventionally until we killed most of them, then surrender totally, like Japan and German did in World War II, then this war would have ended as easily as those wars did.

The reality is that the insurgents are fighting tougher than the Germans and Japanese. Wishing this war were as easy as WWII won't make it so.

1/22/2007 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Darkstar said...
Why not outsource the problem to Blackwater USA and Greystone Limited?


To do what?

Pursue a handful of "high value targets" - the capture of which, like with KSM, Saddam "changes everything"?

You have a handful of them. They are basically "high tech special ops ex-supersoldiers" who don't blend into native populations, speak the language, anything. And cost 8 times as much as our military snake eaters to field and eventually the Bush plan to push all costs onto future years comes to and end.

Contractors? Great I guess if "Mr. Evil" is in an impregnable mountain fortress with the Secret Plans for ALL Terrorism inside his "Arch-Evildoer To Do List" secret vault. Problem is we have long since learned there is no such thing as a top down terrorist management structure and that it is a diffused ideology. We have also learned that assassination strategies like the Israelis had such faith in are stupid and only winnow out the careless leaders in a radical Islamist group leadership cadre. We have also learned our "rewards and bounty" faith is similarly stupid and misplaced in a tribal honor culture. Few have any inclination to betray a guest and destroy all family, tribal honor and the accompanying right to remain alive for any family member, even a whole tribe..in those circumstances. Our reward plan has yielded very little.

Meaning?
Playing "whack-a-mole" one "evildoer at a time at massive expense" is futile if you have 120 million Muslims out of 1.3 billion radicalized and into infidel killing. They are not dependent on any single leader as they are net-centric and just as inclined to be following the teachings of dead or thoroughly hidden leaders as those who are out and about.

You don't fight that with 60,000 "elite" soldiers that are good for some things, but fish out of water in most other aspects in Muslim lands. Or their more expensive private merc counterparts.

You fight a large enemy conventionally. With military being only part of the effort. We also need propaganda, economic development efforts, diplomatic cooperation, and real involvement and sacrifice by ALL people not with tax cuts for the wealthy and military service by only those with limited resources and life options. You also have to have the balls to admit that we will lose with all the laws and restrictions the Left and the transnational Jews have foisted on the West, and the balls to bail from those treaties and laws that guarantee you will lose or just stalemate the foe until you go bankrupt.

1/22/2007 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

Does a bear shit in the woods?

1/22/2007 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

wu wei:

For the sake of the many, the few must die.

That is a recipe for defeat.

American Special Forces have a practically sacred doctrine never to ever leave a comrade behind. This is part of a “one for all and all for one” camaraderie that binds men together so they will fight. Contrast this with President Chiang Kai-Shek’s decision to bomb his own tanks in Manchuria, or President Thieu’s order of tactical retreat from the Central Highlands in 1975. The combination of secrecy and telling subordinates to fall on their swords has a devastating effect on morale and often causes the collapse and rout of one’s army. It also creates panic within the civilian population.

A herbivorous response to the September 11 attacks would be to regard it as simply part of the cost of doing business with the Middle East. The attitude would be, "So what if 3000 people were massacred? I want my gas for my SUV and I want it cheap!"

American forces did fight conventionally during Fallujah II, and they won. The city was turned to rubble, but it was a victory. And Fallujah has become a major refuge for Sunnis fleeing from Shi’ite death squads precisely because they feel more secure there.

Still, American attempts to foster guerrilla warfare between 1991 and 2003 against Saddam Hussein didn’t work. Only a conventional attack against his forces achieved immediate victory. But if conventional victory was short and sweet, attempts to win the peace were inept. During the Bremer dictatorship, the Occupation effectively did everything within its power to foster an insurgency against it. It succeeded. Calling itself an Occupation, disbanding the Army, postponing elections, cutting off his administration from peaceful petitions by Iraqis, and refusing to seriously consult with Iraqi leaders undermined support for the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The most effective counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq is keeping the electricity on, delivering clean water, and providing at least minimal security for the people. “Search and destroy” missions don’t work as well as making friends with at least some of the locals. If your friend likes you enough, he might tell you where your enemies are. Or even better, he might do your fighting for you because he likes you. The reason why Vietnamese villagers supported the Viet Cong was, “He was nice to me.” That was the reason! No amount of military science dissertation on psychological warfare is as effective as a friendly disposition and common sense. If a political or religious leader is feeling ignored, send him a letter. If an Iraqi girl needs an operation, help her!

Back in the 1990’s, Rush Limbaugh sneered at “nation building” as “meals on wheels”. Guess what? Winning a military conflict sometimes means delivering meals on wheels! Helping widows and orphans has been the sine qua non of legitimacy for states (not just Islamic ones) in the Middle East since Babylonian antiquity, and that will not change.

My real point in bringing up the murder of American diplomats in 1973 is that a craven unwillingness to avenge the deaths of our diplomats (or even be honest about them!) effectively lowers the morale of our people and our government across the board. It raises the morale of our enemies. Moreover, it induces a herbivorous attitude within our population. Why should we bother to fight the terrorists at all if the price of oil would drop whenever we regard the deaths of a few Americans at the hands of Islamo-fascists as just the price of doing business? Are we going to become a nation of men like Milo Minderbinder who seek their own profit at the expense of the welfare of the defenseless few?

America faces a crisis of confidence. Imagine if your local politician had a choice between winning re-election and preventing a terrorist attack that would kill ten million Americans. Would he make the right decision? I think a large proportion, if not a majority, of our politicians would prefer to get re-elected. This is the Achilles’ Heel of democracy, because politicians who care only about short-term advantage and the next election won’t make decisions in the interests of our national security. And if the few must die for the sake of the many, we have no rights at all because the interests of the many must override any and all moral boundaries that protect any so-called “rights”.

Advocating a “tyranny of the majority” effectively enhances the moral stature of the enemies of democracy. If morality itself must be tossed aside for the enjoyment of the majority, when criminals are tortured in the Forum for the amusement of the majority of voters, an embattled minority believing in a theocracy becomes emboldened by the timidity and self-indulgence of the majority.

We face a hybrid enemy who fights as an insurgent, as a counterinsurgent, and as a conventional soldier as he deems fit. He may use insurgency tactics, but he receives money and munitions from the outside. He may use counterinsurgency methods against local criminals, and he may act as a conventional soldier when fighting a rival militia. His thinking is more flexible because he doesn’t compartmentalize warfare the way Western theoreticians do. Moreover, he opposes democracy because he regards it as antithetical to morality itself. He may see democracy as a means to seize power from his enemies, but that is democracy’s only use for him.

To win, we need a multi-spectrum military and non-military strategy that can use the means most appropriate for any given situation. We also need to show how our ideology is superior. The morality of the Roman Circus doesn’t help at all.

1/22/2007 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Pierre,

Do I have to say? All muslim.

Pakistan has had nukes for several years now and the terrorists do not yet. The sectarian conflict Sunni v. Shia in Iraq, the slaughter of Fur Muslims by Arab Muslims are suggestions that a monlithic wave of Islam does not exist. Dubai is building a trading and tourist center, not a massive great army. Take a look at your town, there will be more than a couple of muslims living there, they attacked yet? All muslims are not commited to fighting the west.

Abu Sayyaf in the Phillipines are not Arabs...they seem to be doing a fair imitation of Arabs. Common thread? Dare I say?

They are conducting a infantry campaign with a side of kidnapping and explosions. Dare I say that this is not going to take over the world?

Iranians are not Arabs...before Al Qaeda they were the number one killer of Americans. Matter of fact they managed to kill more Marines in one day than anyone else since WW2.

Good you've heard of WW2. In 5 years the Axis powers managed to kill more people and capture more territory than the Muslims have in the last 100. And the Axis powers had one tenth of the population of the muslims. How credible is a threat that takes 20x longer with 10x the strength to achieve 20% of the result? 0.1% of the threat?


Calling a pan-Islamic threat is silly, because it is so easily dismissed.

It is ultimately unhelpful because it lends an untenable price to fighting such an enemy - to "defeat" Islam would require converting or killing 1.4 billion people which would be very difficult, especially when a quarter of them living in nuke powers who obviously are not attacking us right now (our cities exist). The cost of committing to war against Islam is really high.


The aim is to make the cost low. Do this by being specific about who the enemy is - Al Qaeda/wahabism/Sauds & Iran. Even then the cost of everything these enemies have done pales in comparison to the cost of attacking them if the oil supply is disrupted. What is needed is a way of profitably taking the oilfields from Saudi & Iran.

1/22/2007 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

Give it up, Cedarfurd. Nobody cares anymore about your neurotic obsession with using every topic as an excuse for your compulsive antisemitism, fool.

1/23/2007 12:47:00 AM  

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