Where Have All The Soldiers Gone, Long Time Passing?
Austin Bay and Phil Carter debate what the size of the US military should be to fight the war on terror. Not really so much the size, but the shape. The Counterterrorism Blog says forget the lack of boots on the ground in Afghanistan or Iraq: there aren't enough even at home. Recently disclosed information shows MI5 had nowhere near the men needed to track 1,600 militants and 50 terror networks in Britain alone and the same was true in Spain. Ian Buruma argues that Islam is in the West to stay and there are simply too many to fight without reaching some sort of accomodation.
The Counterterrorism Blog says the British ran into two terrorist cells among many and concentrated on the one they felt was the most dangerous. But even the less dangerous cell went on to cause the London Tube bombings, which was deadlier than any IRA attack throughout Britain's long war against it. Here's more from Western Resistance.
But here lies the problem: the MI5 should not have been stretched so thin. As the MI5 correctly points out, “when the fertiliser plot took place it was one of 50 networks of which the Service was aware” and the agency could not possibly start a new investigation. The MI5 was simply understaffed to deal with a domestic threat of that magnitude. And the problem is not just a British one. 3/11, the other major attack perpetrated by al Qaeda-inspired networks in Europe, is characterized by eerily similar circumstances. Jamal Zougam, one of the men currently standing trial in Madrid for his crucial role in the bombings, was also known to local intelligence services, but because of their lack personnel, no detailed investigation on him could be carried out.
Ian Buruma, writing in Real Clear Politics, says it is rather late in the day to be looking for boots on the ground. If we are not to find boots in our face, then the West must assimilate Muslims now and win them over to ways of democracy.
In any case, it is now too late to create such a pillar. With the earlier pillars having collapsed, the emergence of a new one would bring about a situation where an increasingly integrated majority would be negotiating with a minority, thus perpetuating its isolation in the process.
Whether Europeans like it or not, Muslims are part of Europe. Many will not abandon their religion, so Europeans must learn to live with them and with Islam. Of course, this will be easier if Muslims come to believe that the system also works to their benefit. Liberal democracy and Islam are reconcilable. Indonesia’s current political transition from dictatorship to democracy, although no unqualified success, shows that this is achievable.
Showing Islam the benefits of democracy, eh? That will go down well with Democrats in Congress. Maybe the idea will fare better in Europe. After all they have already retreated to their home ground and find they don't have enough "boots on the ground" even there. BBC Newsnight reports on how Islamic attacks on the United States and Europe originated in large part in London itself. (Hat tip: LGF)
Austin Bay, in his debate with Phil Carter argues that "boots on the ground" is the wrong way to think about the problem. We must mobilize our entire social strength in "expeditionary" ways to make any impression on the current world crisis.
We demand that our military win our wars, which means being proficient with weaponry running from bayonets to smart bombs. But we also force our military to competently use a trowel, auditing software, doctor's bag, and agronomist's soil analyzer, and to occasionally provide solid legal, political and investment advice. That's been the military's burden since 1992, when the Era of Peacekeeping replaced the Cold War. The 9/11 attacks replaced the Era of Peacekeeping with a global war over the conditions of modernity. I don't believe you can withdraw from that war. Winning takes all elements of power applied in a sustained, focused (yet flexible) manner. However, the other governmental agencies simply haven't done their part in the field. The military compensates by doing its own job and everyone else's. These complex missions require resources and manpower.
Douglas Farrah at the Counterterrorism Blog agrees gloomily with Austin Bay.
I have spent time with military officials and civilian DOD officials in different parts of the country in recent weeks, and found a disturbing consensus on events, which, if correct, will have long-term implications for our national security.
The first is the broad feeling that the military is being asked to do everyone else's job in government, particularly the job of the State Department.
The public diplomacy wing of the State Department seems to have virtually disappeared (except for the little shop run by Shaha Riza, Paul Wolfowitz's girlfriend, and a shop that has a $45 million annual budget but has made no grants in 18 months of existence).
Partly because of the security conditions and partly because the army is already on the ground, many of the leaders feel they are being ordered to do things they are not trained for, have no resources for, and that take them away from crucial missions.
Whether this is buck-passing or bureaucratic sour grapes I leave the readers to consider, but there may be truth in the assertion that the nation is only partially at war. War? What war? It's a figment of the imagination of neo-cons.