Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pakistan, intelligence mediocrity, Stratfor on Sadr

After the Read More! Pakistan's separate peace? The next wave of attackers from al-Qaeda, STRATFOR on Sadr and schools are required not to discriminate against military recruiters.


The Strategy Page reports that the incoming Pakistani government is virtually granting independence to it's tribal areas in exchange for an agreement to leave the rest of the country alone. The US, meanwhile, is rumored to have established operating bases inside the Pakistani tribal areas. These developments effectively imply that Afghanistan got bigger -- and that the Pakistani tribal areas are no part of the theater.

But the Pakistani tribal areas are not part of the NATO mission. Any mission inside what is still officially Pakistan will create political issues within the alliance and strain the already stretched resources of CENTCOM. And if US forces once again regain contact with al-Qaeda, what is to prevent them from moving deeper into Pakistan to regain sanctuary?

In the end Pakistan is wrapped up in this problem and they can't deal themselves out of it.


The Wall Street Journal Online describes how al-Qaeda has reconfigured the face of its attackers. And how inadequate US intelligence is to predict their next attack.

On Sunday, CIA director Michael Hayden warned on "Meet the Press" that a reconstituting al Qaeda was preparing operatives in Afghanistan who would draw no attention while passing through U.S. airport checkpoints.

Exactly how vulnerable are we right now to a significant terrorist attack? No one can answer that question with any certainty. What we can say with assurance is that even as George W. Bush has overseen the single most far-reaching reorganization of the U.S. intelligence community (IC) since the CIA was created in 1947, his single greatest failure as a president might well be that American intelligence remains mired in bureaucratic mediocrity. ...

Should U.S. intelligence have a workforce that "looks like America," or would we be better off with one that looked like those of our adversaries whom we have been unable to understand, let alone to penetrate? That question is one of many that go unanswered in the 500-day plan, which focuses almost entirely on tertiary internal matters rather than on accomplishing the two most critical missions facing U.S. intelligence -- stopping terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

Maybe mediocrity within intelligence agencies is a feature, an actual goal towards which the bureacracy in Washington works, despite its public aspirations to excellence. The intelligence bureaucry is probably far more responsive to political currents in Washington than it is to operational necessity. A workforce that "looks like America"; an analytic shop that says nothing that is politically incorrect or unacceptable; an operational side that must on no account be seen to conduct wiretapping, abduction, assassination, thievery or deception. These are the requirements of a bureaucratically perfect intelligence apparatus. One that can be viewed with approval by lawyers; proof against Senate committee investigations; unstained by any suggestion of cutting procedural corners. And probably also useless at detecting al-Qaeda.

Not that there's anything wrong with having a mediocre, but politically correct intellgence apparatus. Many countries in the world, and even some in Europe, create militaries whose sole purpose is to parade, play in bands and attend ceremonial occasions. They make a conscious choice to create an instrument for a certain purpose. And they are under no illusion this instrument can be meaningfully used at anything else. So for as long as the political system puts a premium on bureaucratic seemingness it will get an intelligence agency which provides just that.

And the newspapers will be happy with their leakers, the inspectors general happy with their reports and the Congressional Committees happy with their oversight. Up until the day that Washington DC is wiped out by a 20 kiloton terrorist bomb.

And then they can create a committee to prepare a bureaucratic report on why the catastrophe happened.


Here's Stratfor's take of the fight against Sadr. (I've taken a few snippets from their report which available to subscribers only)

A massive battle broke out between two Shiite factions in Iraq. One, led by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim — who effectively controls Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki due to the small size and fractured nature of al-Maliki’s party — confronted the faction led by Muqtada al-Sadr. Clearly, this was an attempt by the dominant Shiite faction to finally deal with the wild card of Iraqi Shiite politics. By the weekend, al-Sadr had capitulated. Backed into a corner by overwhelming forces, apparently backed by U.S. military force, al-Sadr effectively sued for peace.


The Army Times reports:

The Defense Department has announced a new get-tough policy with colleges and universities that interfere with the work of military recruiters and Reserve Officer Training Corps programs. Under rules that will take effect April 28, defense officials said they want the exact same access to student directories that is provided to all other prospective employers.

A reader writes: "If this article is accurate the new rules will bring howls of protest."





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10 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

Ceasefires In Iraq Go Through Iran's Quds Force
It should not go unnoticed that Iranian Quds Force commander Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani issued the cease-fire to the Mahdi Army. The backdrop to Sadr’s dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday by Iraqi lawmakers to Qom, Iran’s holy city...
---
Vali Nasr, the author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, said in an interview that “Al-Sadr achieved what he wanted. He stood his ground, made his point and showed he has the real power in the south, not his rivals.” Muqtada al-Sadr’s Shi’a rivals in the south are the Badr Brigades of ISCI and Fadhila, which controls the governorship of al-Basra province and holds sway over much of the critical oil operations there.

That said, we interpret that if anyone “got what he wanted” among the bad actors, it was General Suleimani and Iran, not Sadr, whose usefulness to the Iranians no longer extends much farther than his father’s name. At the same time, it cannot be discounted that the Mahdi Army uprising from Baghdad all the way to Basra was combated by the Iraqi Army and security forces with limited assistance from Coalition forces - and not the other way around.
---
McClatchy: Iranian general played key role in Iraq cease-fire

The Weekly Standard: General Panic

ThreatsWatch.Org: PrincipalAnalysis: Dangerous Liaisons

ThreatsWatch.Org: PrincipalAnalysis: Qods Force, Karbala and the Language of War

The Long War Journal: Home

The Weekly Standard: Qods Force Pulls Sadr's Strings

Carnegie Council: The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future

AP: Al-Sadr Trumps in Latest Showdown

4/01/2008 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Putin to offer NATO Russian transit to Afghanistan at summit

4/01/2008 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

From Iraq: Observations of a USMC Liason to the ISF

4/01/2008 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

A workforce that "looks like America"; an analytic shop that says nothing that is politically incorrect or unacceptable; an operational side that must on no account be seen to conduct wiretapping, abduction, assassination, thievery or deception. These are the requirements of a bureaucratically perfect intelligence apparatus. One that can be viewed with approval by lawyers; proof against Senate committee investigations; unstained by any suggestion of cutting procedural corners. And probably also useless at detecting al-Qaeda.


Are most Americans really interested in paying for a worthless ornament?

4/01/2008 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger gdude said...

alexis,

too late, as that description fits most of the federal gov't, and plenty of state and local agencies to boot.

4/01/2008 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger TM Lutas said...

One of the great ambitions of the Pushtun people that straddle Afghanistan and Pakistan is the free transit and eventual union of all the Pushtuns. If the Taliban can engineer this, they can lay down their arms and win free and fair elections in Afghanistan. And what do we do then?

We have no strategy except to sustain Pakistan's territorial integrity. That may ultimately be a loser as Pakistan may not care enough to prevent secession and then where do we end up?

4/01/2008 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

bureaucratically perfect intelligence apparatus

That has to be one of the longest and most profound oxymorons I've ever seen.

TM Lutas: If the Taliban can engineer this, they can lay down their arms and win free and fair elections in Afghanistan. And what do we do then?

Exactly what we've been doing for some years now ...

Kill them.

4/02/2008 01:10:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Unfortunately, the structures and organizations Inside the Beltway do not exist to serve the whole country but to pursue their own purposes and interests.

I guess that none of y’all have had the “pleasure” of going over to the Hill to explain to a senior aide that his senator’s desire to raid the USAF space research budget in order to build a suite of offices with a built-in solarium at his favorite university is illegal by the very laws enacted by that same Congress.

And you have not heard that aide reply, with no little anger, “Well, then, if we can’t upgrade that facility then perhaps we can’t upgrade any of those that the Air Force has, either.”

4/02/2008 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger TM Lutas said...

Zenster - Sinn Fein stood for elections and the IRA blew up things, but people always knew where things stood and what you were really voting for when you voted Sinn Fein. A political wing of the Taliban could call itself any old label, disclaim violence, call for national reconciliation, and the armed Taliban leadership would gladly have a truce and put down their arms as their brothers and cousins already would have won Kabul.

Our allies would declare mission accomplished and head home and there would be no justification left for a mass presence in Afghanistan sufficient for Congress to continue voting funds. The troops would go home.

Sure, it would be a government we wouldn't like but they'd simply smile and invite us to leave, something we've already promised to do. My only hope is that the Taliban aren't smart enough to pull this off.

4/02/2008 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

TM Lutas: A political wing of the Taliban could call itself any old label, disclaim violence, call for national reconciliation, and the armed Taliban leadership would gladly have a truce and put down their arms as their brothers and cousins already would have won Kabul.

Our allies would declare mission accomplished and head home and there would be no justification left for a mass presence in Afghanistan sufficient for Congress to continue voting funds. The troops would go home.


Too often it is a forgotten fact that, as Ayn Rand observed, tyrannies have no sovereign rights. The Taliban's incredible abuse of human rights makes them an automatic target for regime change. The same goes for every Muslim majority nation in the world.

Shari'a law is such a fundamental and ongoing crime against humanity that it must be scoured from the face of this earth. If the only way of doing this is by using nuclear weapons, then so be it. One billion lives lost now is far better than billions of lives lost as shari'a spreads and continues it ravaging of human life.

Left to its own devices, Islam will unjustifiably kill a billion people over the coming decades or centuries. Far better that all Islam perishes now than permitting it to continue unabated with its program of slaughter and barbarity.

Western militaries must find the moral certitude to begin assassinating Islam's aristocracy or face the necessity of conducting war against Muslims on a scale comparable to World War II. The only other option is a Muslim holocaust which is precisely where our world is currently headed.

4/03/2008 09:30:00 AM  

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