Daily Roundup Feb 15, 2008
After the Read More! What was Mughniyeh up to? Michael Totten looks at Barack Obama's policy in Lebanon. The US Army's new FM 3-0, due for release in February, will contain new concepts. What Iran Fears: John McCain and George Soros? Who knew? The Astute Bloggers continues to follow the Copenhagen Intifada. Al-Qaeda wants its enemies to burn in the fires of hell, literally.
Caroline Glick at the Jerusalem Postraises the possibility that Imad Mugniyeh was killed to pre-empt an attack he was preparing to undertake. The possible targets included truck bomb attacks on Paris, London, Madrid, Berlin and Rome and a possible assault on the Vatican.
the "truck stopping points" aligned with information the French had received the week before from Beirut. There, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah had convened a conference of his senior terror leaders where he ordered them to activate Hizbullah cells throughout Europe to kidnap senior European leaders.
If true these reports raise two questions. Mughniyeh had come a long way from being a Task Force 17 thug for Yasser Araft, who as you will recall, received the Nobel Peace Prize. And of late he has been doing jobs for Iran but dealing with al-Qaeda. But his allegiances were uncertain; so who was he working for now? The fact his he could stay in Damascus implies that his employer was known to and OK with the Syrians.
The second question is why his reported targets were European? The operations Glick quotes would have been the equivalent of a European 9/11. But changing away from targeting America might have been occasioned by two considerations. The need to avoid energizing the Republicans and the probable fear of an American response. While attacking the US has the effect of energizing conservatives, experience has shown that outrages in Europe stampede voters to the Left. Plus, Europe lacked the power to strike back. Or so Mughniyeh thought. If he was preemptively assassinated then their fangs had not been drawn as much as he imagined.
Who's behind Mughniyeh has become somewhat clearer as Reuters reports from Damascus indicate that "joint investigation into the bombing by Syrians, Iranians and Hezbollah was well under way and suspects had been arrested in the Syrian capital, the source said." Only somewhat because "joint investigations" occasionally suggest that the investigating parties are actually investigating each other. Mughniyeh's successor has been appointed.
"A successor to Imad Moughniyah has been appointed, which is natural," said the source, who requested anonymity. "That's how Hezbollah works, they move quickly to choose successors of fallen leaders."
The source said the successor was not one of the two names being circulated in the Israeli media. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has threatened Israel with "open war" in retaliation for the killing.
But not so open that Hezbollah can't help but keep its leadership names secret.
Writing in Commentary, Michael Totten wonders whether the strategy of containment and pulled punches, a path already attempted by Ehud Olmert, will work against Hezbollah. Totten contrasts this approach to the 'pulling up weeds at the grassroots' approach of Gen Petraeus in Iraq. Totten says indications are Obama's strategy will be pure Olmert.
“Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq,” says a statement on the senator’s Web site. “He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.”
The Small Wars Journal mentions some of the salient points in the Army's new FM 3-0
Some aspects are evolutionary (strategic context, operational environment, full spectrum operations, command and control, etc.). Other aspects are revolutionary (stability operations co-equal with offense and defense, emphasis on information engagement, requirements for leaders to be competent with both lethal and non-lethal (soft power) applications of combat power).
Some may immediately object that that this represents a shift away from the traditional military focus on kinetic warfare. Others will reply that "information engagement" and "soft power" actually make kinetic warfare more usable in the 21st century world, where it would otherwise be precluded by political constraints.
My own reaction is that FM 3-0 is an indictment of the other branches of government's inability to generate a full spectrum of capabilities against the enemy. There is a crucial difference between hosting a combined arms capability organically within the Armed Forces and creating a combined arms capability in a society as a whole. What is missing is a wider plan to mobilize national resources to bring them into the fight.
MEMRI has a transcript and translated video of "a new public service broadcast, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry urges Iranian citizens to use its new 113 hotline to report suspicious activity.
To underline its message, the broadcast features a seven-minute computer-animated tale in which a White House plot by "John McCain, senior White House official who orchestrates numerous conspiracies against the Islamic Republic of Iran," George Soros, "Jewish tycoon and mastermind of ultra-modern colonialism," and others is foiled by a vigilant Iranian woman who uses the new hotline to turn in her brother.
In terms of production values, it's like a Lego version of "24". But the messages it contains reveal what the Iranian leadership really worries about. Young people dreaming of life in America. View the video here. It ends with the slogan "we are the guardians of your information". I thought that was the function of journalism? Just kidding.
The Astute Bloggers writes, "The nightly skirmishes of arson and vandalism are beginning to be noted outside of Denmark, but unless blood is shed it may not make it to the MSM. Last nights crimes in Kokkedal, Nivå, Birkerød, Farum, Brønshøj, Ballerup, Glostrup, Gladsaxe, Ishøj, Greve, Hundige, Ringsted, Kalundborg og Århus began at 10 pm and were coordinated by SMS.
These riots by largely Muslim minorities apparently have a large street crime component to them and are probably as much an indictment of welfare system as anything else. Two nights ago I attended a talk featuring a very knowledgeable person on Australian aboriginal issues. The aborigines of Australia live in ethnographic museums in a sinkhole of alcohol, drugs, pornography, community rape, hunger and violence. There's no escape from the reservation. And the nearest cops are 150 miles away. But Australia is so vast that you can detonate a nuke in the Outback with nobody noticing. The British in fact tested their first A-bombs in the Australian desert. However, the Danes don't have the same space. So when the welfare system magnifies the cultural weakness of their immigrant communities the result is carbecues rather than a sudden surge in kids being found in plastic garbage bags on some distant desert dump. The reservation kills. But just try convincing the Left of that.
Fox News describes an al-Qaeda video clip showing what happens to its prisoners. It "shows five insurgents standing behind three blindfolded prisoners kneeling at the edge of a burning pit." Then a voice intones:
"And now that we have captured these scums who committed this dreadful crime, we will burn them with this fire," the Al Qaeda leader says in Arabic. "The same fire which they committed their crime with. "And I swear by God almighty that, I swear by God almighty that we will have no mercy on them," he continues. "Allahuakbar, Allahuakbar."
As he speaks, two of the insurgents pour liquid on the blindfolded prisoners. Then they push the bound men into the pit, where they are engulfed in flames.
According to the summary — in Arabic and German — included in the nearly 15-minute video posted on Google, many of the clips were found in Diyala, Iraq. The makers of the film say that the originals were "passed to us by others."
One of the arguments often advanced to justify treating the al-Qaeda as regular prisoners of war is that it will encourage them to reciprocate by treating Coalition prisoners according to the Geneva Convention. But there's no evidence to indicate that al-Qaeda's treatment of prisoners is a function of anything but their own medieval cruelty. Still, I wonder how long it will be before someone suggests the ghastly fate suffered by these men is in retaliation for 'waterboarding' or humiliation.