Monday, April 30, 2007

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.


Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

islam can kiss my jewish ass....

4/30/2007 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I was really struck by the revalation that MI5 had essentially been saturated by the domestic Islamic threat. Imagine, MI5, an institution developed to fight the IRA, with vast organizational and human experience just swamped by the magnitude of the threat. Little wonder that the British police are exhorting the "community" to come forward. They've gotten practically nothing from the community so far. So how big is the threat to Britain? Do they really know? Or is it one of the unknown unknowns?

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

4/30/2007 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Let us say you are patriotic Brit. Let us say your Muslim neighbor's behavior worries you.
Let us say you dutifully report said behavior.
Let us say you then become a hate criminal.

During WWII, for example, stereotyping was not only acceptable, it was cultivated. Those "suspected" of ill will were "detained." The British government cannot have it both ways.

4/30/2007 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jewish Odysseus said...

Tony Blair can't scrounge up a few thousand policeman and technicians in a well-educated population of ~60 million? In order to prevent bombs on London's buses and the Tube? Somehow I sense a certain pharmacists daughter wd have no difficulty filling the posts in about 60 days.

Remember how invincible the Brit trade unions were in the 70's? Not once that determined lady confronted them.

Blair is limping to the finish line, he discovered that you can't make your country more socialist and politically correct and multi-culturals (his election platform in 1997) at the same time you need it to be more patriotic, militant and defiant. "Something has to give." Big surprise.

One of my favorite expressions: "It's amazing what you can't accomplish...when you don't really want to do it."

When England chooses a leader who really wants to do it, they will have no difficulty. But they need a few more good bombings first, I'm afraid.

4/30/2007 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Oh, the same holds true for the United States.

4/30/2007 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

For those who wonder how the UK can find itself so beset, watch the videos of its Muslim leaders, provided at LGF. For instance:
Video: BBC Newsnight on Al Muhajiroun


4/30/2007 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

For those lacking the stamina to watch the 8 minute video linked earlier (something not unexpected of an American audience), at the end, a survivor of the 7/7 bombings makes the claim that the British government was willing to permit its homegrown terrorists to ply their trade elsewhere.

4/30/2007 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger TomHolsinger said...

Accomodation is a two-way street. I tend to agree with Ralph Peters that the lucky Muslims in Europe will be those who manage to leave.

4/30/2007 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Jewish Odysseus said...
But they need a few more good bombings first, I'm afraid.
allen said...
Oh, the same holds true for the United States.
Presently, it would take a Nuke with a notarized certificate of origin, I fear.

4/30/2007 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

It's hard not to think in historical analogues, even when you know there is no reason for them to apply. But after Poland was invaded in 1939 there passed a period called the Phoney War, in which the West essentially went on to technical belligerence, but was neither prepared to fully attack Hitler or prepare its own society for his full onslaught. Essentially the West did nothing as it devoutly hoped Hitler would go away. If Hitler had not invaded the West in 1940, the Allies would have been more than happy to find some way to crawl back to normal relations with Berlin.

There are days when I think we are in the 21st century counterpart of the Phoney War. Like France in 1940, we are secure behind our Maginot line, despite the fact that it has many obviously open flanks. But if the analogy holds then what will follow is some terrible, decapitating catastrophe -- maybe a wholesale collapse of Western leadership in which there will be no place for a resistance to rally.

I was really struck by Barack Obama's response that if 2 US cities were struck by nuclear weapons he would think about what to do next. Gather evidence and all. Make disaster relief his first priority. Promoting healing, I guess. When a person answers in that way, it suggests that he is looking for a way not to act. And I don't blame him. What a terrifying situation for a decision-maker to be in.

But the events of the last few months make it conceivable that whoever is in the White House, the current President included, will truly not know how to respond if a catastrophe comes. The rot runs deep.

4/30/2007 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Atlas Shrugs looks at the American connection in Queens to the British terrorist cell.

4/30/2007 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Several days ago LTC Yingling published a well written essay, brutally examining the selection process of officers, esecially those of flag rank. Because the Col. posited greater Congressional oversight in the promotion of senior military leaders, Yingling has been painted by tje same soiled brush used by milblog crititcs to tar and feather the Congress. In short, picking up on a single facet within a multi-facetted plan for remediation, the self-serving milibloggers have dismissed LTC Yingland out of hand. Fasicinatingly enough, of the 12 or so milibloggers read by me, referencing LTC Yingling's thesis, none contested his simple diangosis: the system of selection of general officers is inadequate, inept, and unexamined.

4/30/2007 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


From the Atlas films (BBC via LGF), the point is clear: the UK was turning a blind eye to incitement, training, and the export of terrorism. It was when the chickens came home from Pakistan to roost, that the UK government became righteously concerned. Little wonder, then, with the almost unrestricted travel of these jihadi "evangelicals" in and out of the UK, that the UK has lost control of its little Frankensteins.

4/30/2007 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Additionally what else is overlooked is that Yingling’s former boss Colonel H.R. McMaster was the commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment while LTC Yingling was his executive officer.

Why is this important? Because COL McMaster wrote a book, Dereliction of Duty, that parallels what Yingling is discussing because the book is about how the generals during Vietnam failed the military then that Yingling is drawing much of his criticism of present day generals from now.
Additionally what isn’t mentioned is that COL McMaster is one of General Petraeus’ right hand men in Iraq and the type of officer that fits LTC Yingling’s profile of an ideal senior officer. COL McMaster is another senior officer who has a doctorate from North Carolina University that is highly respected by his men. In fact COL McMaster is just one of many of the warrior-scholars that were hand picked by General Petraeus to lead the new counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq.
Creating Perceptions of the Military

4/30/2007 11:20:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

And I have BDS, because I happened to notice that the watch commander for the last six and a half years is the decider in chief George W. Bush?

No relevance? None? Maybe a little?

5/01/2007 01:19:00 AM  
Blogger Nichevo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/01/2007 01:37:00 AM  
Blogger Nichevo said...

2164, you want GWB to go all LBJ? To pick the outhouses to be bombed or not be bombed? I thought one of the lessons of Vietnam was to avoid micromanagement. OTOH, it is true, in Vietnam as in the Civil War, there comes a time to sack a leader here and there.

Then again, I thought Valerie Plame should have ended up in the trunk of a car or three.

5/01/2007 01:38:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Ian Buruma has twisted his brain into a Gordian knot which the Islamists will slice through as simply and easily as Alexander did so many years ago.

The earliest literature of Western Civ tells the story of how human beings made the progress from barbarity to civility only after they were able to develop and embrace a culture of "our values." What is a culture if not a common interest in "our values"?

Multiculturalism sounds and works great when the most consequential outcome is deciding between spaghetti and kabob but it breaks down very quickly when the choice is between slavery and submission. Islam as I have come to understand it is not compatible with Western culture, Western institutions, or Western values. That is not to say that individual Muslims cannot adapt themselves to fit in, as many have. But to spout Enlightenment shibboleths, as Buruma does, while at the same time trashing the cultural history that was able to produce an Enlightenment is idiotic.

5/01/2007 03:40:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

I am not surprised that MI5 was "saturated."

I recall that during the 1980's, I used to brief my people that there were more KGB agents in the US than there were FBI agents. This was because that virtually every Soviet and Warsaw Pact citizen in the US was a KGB resource, whether they wanted to be or not. Islam has a similar advantage - and as we have mentioned before, terrorist attacks in the West seem to be aimed at Muslims as much or more than anyone, to prove that they "can't outrun the long arm of Sahria law."

As for the military doing everyone else's job (and don't leave out the Red Cross and state and local governments in handling disasters) - I ruminated on this when I was at the Pentagon, and concluded that the military was the ONLY government organization organized to respond rapidly and effectively to anything. The civllians decide what is needed, recognize what thaht implies, and conclude they don't wnat to live like that. Civilian employees of the US and state governments - including the DoD itself - consistantly look down on the military in a stereotypical Gomer Pyle/MASH kind of a way - and then conclude the very ones they dispise are the only ones who can do the job. It's less about capabilities than it is about organization and motivation.

5/01/2007 05:11:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

allen wrote:

"The British government cannot have it both ways."

Then allen added the addendum:

"Oh, the same holds true for the United States."

Allen's comments were unrelated to Jewish Odysseus, although "When England chooses a leader who really wants to do it, they will have no difficulty. But they need a few more good bombings first, I'm afraid", seems about right to Allen.

5/01/2007 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 05/01/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

5/01/2007 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger gdude said...

peterboston: righto about multiculti working only when tolerating a quiet minority. I'm less excited, though, about the claim that the Enlightenment is the thing in the West worth fighting for -- seems to me it's the very basis for multi-culti. I may be wrong, but I would think that its Christianity that has made the West worth saving. Or, we can simply say that whatever our creed, we don't want to become Muslim, and that's enough for us to resist it.

allen -- the thing about Yingling's analysis that struck me was his presumption that the generals should have known that the military wouldn't be fighting a war, but rather only a post-war occupation, and should have EXPECTED that it would be doing State's job of civil engineering, nation building, etc. Seems to me that would lead to the moving of all dept's dealing with things international into the Defense Department: State; the international affairs sections of Treasury, Interior, Transportation, Labor, and Commerce; the entire intelligence community; AID; etc. Let's see what THAT would look like. Its another manifestation of the mistaken notion that the gov't can protect us from all dangers, internal and external, natural and man-made, known and unknown, at every moment of the day. And besides, Bill Clinton decided, with the Black Hawk Down incident, that we didn't WANT the military to tell us what was required to deal with an intransigent population. I guess, in the final analysis, Yingling was arguing that the general staff should have voted amongst itself and said, "Hell no, we won't go!"

5/01/2007 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger gregorya57 said...

Not a day goes by that I don't get an email or two giving me all sorts of tips and other helpful info I need to "save the planet." This, for a condition that:

1. We aren't sure that it's actually happening
2. If it is, we aren't sure it's man-made
3. If it is man-made, we aren't sure we can stop it, and
4. If it does happen, it is a slow-motion process that won't show real effects for 50 or 100 years.

Yet, we fall all over ourselves to "save the planet." How do we get the same sense of urgency regarding the REAL threat? I want all of us to tell Society of the Perpetually Offended to take a hike, and start looking at everyone of foreign origin with a flinty eye. Seal the borders. Start sending Islamists to hell in bunches, and smoking.

What's it gonna take?

5/01/2007 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Oengus Moonbones said...

The Perspicacious Wretchard: "I was really struck by Barack Obama's response that if 2 US cities were struck by nuclear weapons he would think about what to do next. Gather evidence and all. Make disaster relief his first priority. Promoting healing, I guess. When a person answers in that way, it suggests that he is looking for a way not to act."

Wretchard, what you say reminds me very much of the Three Cities Axiom, which I have pointed out earlier at various times. Once the threshold of three cities is reached, a quantum jump is made to the next level.

5/01/2007 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Spog said...

Another unfortunate aspect of the Ian Buruma article is that he is practising doublethink in his assessment of how much of a threat domestic Islam poses to the European political order. On one hand, "even if all of Europe’s Muslims were Islamists –- which is a far cry from reality –- they could not threaten the Continent’s sovereignty and, by the same token, its laws and Enlightenment values." So, there's no existential threat. This is convenient, because it would be "too late" to do anything about it if there were. But then why does he conclude that "we must do everything to encourage Europe’s Muslim to become assimilated in European societies. It is our only hope"? Does he even believe his own words?

5/01/2007 07:40:00 PM  

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