Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Who knew that Tigerhawk wrote his undergraduate thesis in counterinsurgency? Back in 1983 he foresaw that the indiscriminate application of terror -- such al-Qaeda has been engaged in would swing the intelligence advantage to the side which was discriminating in its application of coercion.

Neither side needs the love or loyalty of the population nearly as much as its cooperation. The insurgent must have nondenunciation so that he may carry on his war against the authority from the midst of the people. The counterinsurgent needs information, so that he may determine the nature, power and membership of the insurgency. Because a credible threat of sanction (death or torture, for example) frequently outweighs love or loyalty, the side that imposes stiff penalties for noncompliance will often win the cooperation of the people away from the side that inspires merely moral support for the merits of its cause. ...

More concisely, a noncombatant will cooperate with the side that punishes noncooperation with the greatest specificity. If one side punishes capriciously, most rational noncombatants will decide that they are better off cooperating with the other side. Why? Because the more capricious side -- lacking good intelligence about who is and is not cooperating -- may punish noncombatants whether or not they cooperate with the other side. The side that punishes accurately, on the other hand, will only punish genuine noncooperation. Therefore, the smart noncombatant cooperates with the side that neither punishes too many actual cooperators or fails to punish too many actual non-cooperators, because he reduces his risk of punishment by the side that punishes efficiently without altering his risk at the hand of the side that punishes capriciously. ...

Because perceptions are so important in counterinsurgency, capricious acts and the publicity of those acts can actually hurt the war effort. When supporters of the Coalition and the government of Iraq object to the widespread and one-sided publicity of purported American war crimes, it is not that we think, a priori, that these events should be covered up or that we care about the political fortunes of the Bush administration. Rather, it is because we know that anything that increases the perception of the counterinsurgency as capricious will actually hurt the war effort insofar as it motivates noncombatants to cooperate with the other side. Similarly, relatively muted publicity of enemy atrocities artificially dims the perception that al Qaeda kills capriciously and brutally. Both problems would diminish if the press, which has an enormous capacity to magnify perceptions, applied the same moral standard to both sides.

Tigerhawk's post is so full of insight it is hard to know where to begin. But here's a starting point. Counter-terrorist warfare is never won by merely by rising to a supreme height of moral magnificence. Sadly, war requires coercion in one form or another. But as Tigerhawk cogently argues, coercion cannot be applied indiscriminately. It is most effective when combined with a kind of justice because the smart noncombatant, can avoid arbitrary punishment by adhering to the rules of the just, or at least predictable party. The party governed by decency and law. But the real order of things can be misrepresented by lies. The consequence of habitually making wild accusations against the Coalition, such as were brought against the Haditha Marines; sensationalizing relatively events as torture, running the relatively few cases of actual torture for weeks on the front pages; sponsoring contests to concoct stories like tank drivers running over pet dogs and claiming that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed by aerial bombardment as "excess deaths" was to imprint the image of a mindless, brutal coalition on the Iraqi side. Thus the Leftist enablers of terror successfully portrayed the more just -- albeit imperfect side -- as being unpredictably coercive.

Only after the Iraqis discovered, by sad and bitter experience, what a crock of s..t this narrative was, by repeated atrocity at the brutal hands of al-Qaeda, did they understand they had it all wrong. It was the al-Qaeda which cut your face off with cheese wire; al-Qaeda which shot you for mixing tomatoes and cucumbers in the market bag; al-Qaeda which blew up any and every public assembly; al-Qaeda which routinely tortured innocents in slaughterhouses and had a manual to do it with; al-Qaeda which beheaded innocent children. Only after all the fake memes were repelled and was some semblance of the truth established; and only then did the tipping point start to come.

The bottom line is that in fighting bad hombres it pays to have a six gun, a white hat and to shoot straight. The problem is getting some of the papers to tell it that way.


Blogger Dr. Ferris said...

It's not al'Qaeda alone. Most of the worst atrocities were planned ccampaigns by the same Ba'athist secret police that made Iraq such a living hell under Saddam's socialist regime.

There's a reason why the left support this terrorist campaign by gangs in Iraq. It's because they supported the people who used to orchestrate violence in Iraq when Saddam was in power - secular Marxists that would murder Muslim leaders and slaughter whole ethnic groups as a matter of course. It's no wonder they have so little compunction to do so now.

The West is not at war with fundamentalist Islam. The West is at war with the Left, and has been for decades now - it's simply that the Left has turned, as usual, to ethnic and religious factions for their cannon fodder, one group of which can be found amongst Muslim extremists. They are just as keen to use Maoists in Nepal, narcotics smugglers in Columbia and tribal thugs in Zimbabwe.

Muslims don't make high quality semtex. Most of the arms these groups have come from Russia and the PRC. Iran is building a nuclear capability with Putin's blessing, and could not do so otherwise. It's the same old game.

7/24/2007 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

It seems to me that the Iraqi rebels and Al Qeada get a lot of support from Arabs in other countries who do not have to suffer the consequences of the war. The war is not being brought home to them. The Iraqis who cannot escape the war seem to be rejecting it.

The problem for us is to cut of the foreign moral and financial support for the rebels.

The only time I've seen true horror in the Arab world at what terrorists had done was Beslan. Since Al Qeada is blowing up innocent people every day, we should report that. It's even true.

7/24/2007 01:37:00 AM  
Blogger Alexander Williams said...

I feel compelled to point out that, strictly speaking, the white hat isn't even necessary. Your hat can be black as pitch and studded with the spooned-out eyes of those what cursed you, but as long as it's only the eyes of them what cursed you, the populace'll still consider that you're the six-gun to back in the street.

This may be aesthetically displeasing, but undoubtedly true. And, moreover, utterly rational.

The time in which it is providential or prudent to even pretend to wear a white hat on the street of the World may be drawing to an unsteady, cruel close. Once upon a time, the light shade of your hat would get you a nod, a smile, and the occasional free drink. Now it's an excuse to spit without fear of repercussion.

Much as it pains me to say so, media influence is not entirely to blame for the situation. They're certainly no help, but it's the absence of understanding of necessity that's undermined things the most: the necessity of cruelty, of conquest, of the very idea that there is such thing as an enemy, that they be labeled such when some seek your destruction. Where there is no necessity, there is no drive to action.

There's a loosely organized movement to the elimination of the very concept of necessity except for extremely circumscribed circumstances, circumstances which are themselves fine exemplars of the least necessary things to be concerned over. And when nothing is necessary, which only emptiness is urgent, then only the people who believe in necessity will be at the reins.

7/24/2007 02:19:00 AM  
Blogger Pierre said...

The West is not at war with fundamentalist Islam. The West is at war with the Left, and has been for decades now - it's simply that the Left has turned, as usual, to ethnic and religious factions for their cannon fodder, one group of which can be found amongst Muslim extremists. They are just as keen to use Maoists in Nepal, narcotics smugglers in Columbia and tribal thugs in Zimbabwe.

Perhaps the West is at war with both Marx and Mohammed?

What makes you think that we are not at war with Fundementalist Islam? Do you subscribe to the view that declares Islam to be misunderstood by the Islamists?

I think I did a yoemans job of discrediting that here

7/24/2007 05:39:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I haven’t read Tigerhawk’s entire thesis but one would hope that he had the foresight to divide insurgencies--and the resulting counterinsurgencies--into two types, internal insurgencies and insurgencies against external occupiers, since obviously the dynamics and end results of these two types of insurgencies are radically different. The weighing of punishments and coercion that Tigerhawk describes relates far more to internal insurgencies, such as the troubles in Algeria starting in the nineties, or the long insurgency in El Salvador that ended in the late nineties, or Mao’s campaign against the Nationalists in China. In this case the population may very well base its loyalties on the behaviour of the warring parties and make calculations similar to what Tigerhawk describes. In these types of insurgencies, it is extremely rare for the insurgents to win as the group in power have no where to go they are in an all or nothing situations that means the insurgency continues as a stalemate until either the insurgents grow strong enough to overthrow the existing power or the insurgents give up, sue for peace and back to their lands.

In the case of an insurgency created by the occupation by an outside power the dynamics are completely different. Post WW2 examples of these types of insurgencies are the two Vietnams, the Soviets in Afghanistan, the French in Algeria, the British in Malaya, the Israelis in southern Lebanon, the US in Iraq, (let’s ignore the current situation in Afghanistan. for the time being). In these situations there is a much higher hurdle for the occupying powers to jump over to get the local population to work with them against indigenous insurgents, as it is normal for people to detest foreigners and to sympathize with locals. In these cases the actions of the insurgents must be extremely brutal to force the local population to side with the foreign invaders.

Of course Iraq is slightly more complicated than that as we see on the one hand two foreign invaders (the US, and the Saudi-backed Wahabbi terrorists often referred to as Al Qaida) fighting it out as well as many indigenous insurgent groups trying to fight both occupying powers. Now the obvious strategy for the foreign invaders is to put a local face on their attempts to control the country. And as all occupiers through out history have found out, there is always a certain percentage of the locals (usually the upper classes) willing to sell their souls to foreign powers for a chance to rule. Even the Nazis had no problem finding collaborators.

So in order to get around the dynamic of the locals siding with the insurgents, US propaganda (or narrative if you will) aims to blur the line between competing foreign occupiers and insurgents by calling all insurgents Al Qiada (or Saudi-backed Wahabbi terrorists) hoping the local population will choose to side with the US since they are better than Al Qiada. And in a battle between two conflicting foreign invaders, Tigerhawk’s calculations come back into play. And the second portion of this equation is to both put an Iraqi face on the occupation as much as possible as well as countering Al Qaida's similar attempts at Iraqization.

Whether the locals will buy into all this and submit to the will of the US occupiers is another story, only time will tell. History is not on our side however; only the British were able to defeat an insurgency in the post WW2 era, and only by promising independence. If the US were really only facing the Saudi backed Wahabbi terrorists as the propag- oops narrative would have it then there would be a good analogy to the Malayan emergency. From what I know though we face many, many truly indigenous insurgents and so in my analysis the rules and history of foreign occupantions are in play. In other words it will be very difficult to impose our will on the Iraqi people.

As for Abu Ghraib, the argument is over reality vs. perception. Does the Iraqi population really get its news from the US networks? Were the abuses at Abu Ghraib not already widely known in Iraq? The choice was to sweep the problem under the rug or to make a big deal of it so that it wouldn’t happen again. As throughout the Iraq War, the Left, looking out for the best interests of their country, acted to correct the problem. The Right, looking to protect the interests of their political party, acted to protect George Bush. Time and time again, through out the duration of the Iraq War, the Left brought up reasonable and, in hindsight, spot on analysis of what was going wrong in Iraq. The Right, time and time again denied everything and countered that all was honky dory and the Left were traitors. If it is treason to advocate that your country continue destructive policies than many on the Right deserve a jail cell. It is only now that many on the Right can even admit that things were indeed going very badly, just as the Left said at the time. To the Left patriotism means looking, out first for the United States, to the Right it means looking out first for the Republican Party, which is partisanship at best, treason at worst, and not patriotism at all.

7/24/2007 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger Pierre said...

I first began to wonder about your motives after this bit...

Of course Iraq is slightly more complicated than that as we see on the one hand two foreign invaders (the US, and the Saudi-backed Wahabbi terrorists often referred to as Al Qaida) fighting it out as well as many indigenous insurgent groups trying to fight both occupying powers.

Then I came upon this bit...

To the Left patriotism means looking, out first for the United States

Made me spit out my orange juice all over the monitor. What is sad is that you are serious.

Oh btw you forgot two of the players Syria and Iran. Sort of chops up your narrative doesnt it.

7/24/2007 06:12:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

Keven, the media got all its information about Abu Ghraib, from the military investigation. The military was already dealing with it.

All the media did was generate propaganda for the enemy. The notion that "the Left, looking out for the best interests of their country, acted to correct the problem. " is narcissistic delusion.

7/24/2007 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

The Abu Ghraib controversy was really a proxy war between the CIA, who advocated policies more in line with what Tigerhawk discusses, and the neocons in the Pentagon, who instituted a program called “Copper Green” based on the neocon bible The Arab Mind by Raphael Patai that preaches that Arabs only understand force and are easily manipulated by shame and humiliation. In other words, the CIA, represented by Americans who place their country’s interests first, leaked what the Neocons, many of who have split loyalties at best or primary loyalties to a foreign country at worst, were doing to besmirch the image of their second country. In the end the CIA (or the Americans) won and the “Copper Green” fantasies were shut down, and if people now argue that things in Iraq are getting better, one then has to admit that perhaps it is because the CIA won this and other battles over the Likudniks.

7/24/2007 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I certainly agree with Kevin that Abu Ghraib (and Wilson-Plame) were proxy wars between the CIA and the administration; I just don't back the same dog in the fight. When I was leftish in the 60s, the CIA were the bad guys. Now, to many in the alternate-reality-based community, the CIA are the real, patriotic Americans and the traitors are the elected government.
What a long strange road it's been.

7/24/2007 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger stumbley said...

"When I was leftish in the 60s"

Oh, like you aren't now?

7/24/2007 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger stumbley said...

Sorry, Kelly, thought you were Kevin.

My bad.

7/24/2007 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

Giggle, giggle. "The CIA places their country's interests first". In which alternative world is that? Certainly not here, now.

The CIA places the CIA's interests first, always. Their country is lucky when it comes in a distant third or fourth. In my view.

Wake up, Kevin, and face reality.

7/24/2007 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger antithaca said...

oh, I see now Kevin. The CIA is right....because the CIA has soooo much credibility on Iraq and the Middle East.

ease up.

The world is not black and white...as we so often hear.

7/24/2007 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/24/2007 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...


Time and time again, through out the duration of the Iraq War, the Left brought up reasonable and, in hindsight, spot on analysis of what was going wrong in Iraq.

Like the time when the Left tried to loot the Iraqi treasury in October 2003 using the Bayh Amendment

I was outraged at the time, and I am still fume every time I think of it, at the sheer gall of American Senators to force loans onto the Iraqi treasury at a time when the Coalition formally had Iraq under occupation. Is that how we treat people we liberate? Did the Leftists in the Senate want the insurgency in Iraq to be worse than it already was??

When a state is under occupation, the occupier has a moral responsibility to rule in the interests of the governed. It wasn't President Bush pushed forced loans onto an occupied country; it was Democrats in Congress who pushed that sleaze.

From my point of view, the United States owes the Iraqi treasury for Iraqi governmental operating expenses during the Coalition Provisional Authority. Although the United Nations did authorize the Coalition to use the Iraqi treasury to pay for the occupation, such behavior is antithetical to American values.

No Taxation Without Representation!

That ought to be a moral value we export to the rest of the world. Instead, in October 2003, the American Left saw the Iraqi treasury as a piggy bank to loot with impunity.

So Kevin, don't assume the Left has any moral superiority concerning the Iraq war. It doesn't.

7/24/2007 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Do we *really* think the anti-American anti-war moonbat/media memes of dog-running-over and indiscriminate torture by American soldiers have been aimed at convincing Iraqi citizens that Americans are evil?

Of course not. The American left and the world-wide media could care less what Abdul and Mrs. Abdul baking in their 130 degree mud huts care about Americans one way or the other.

*All* of the stories, the lies, the myths and the legends have been made up and disseminated with one group in mind: Ma and Pa Sixpack sitting in front of their 6:00 news in Flyover, America. If you also have Hollywood A-Listers and Manhattan ladies who lunch who are also dumb enough to buy into the stories and to repeat them, all the better.

But if Iraqi's are now finally wising up to who's actually hurting them it is NOT because of what the West's media has or has not been telling them.

What Iraqi's need to understand now, however, is that the West's media has just about damned near won this war in convincing everyone with a vote and a tax dollar that Iraq is not worth saving, and we need to pull out and leave them to their own devices just on general principles. Ma and Pa Abdullah will be *very* unhappy with the consequences of that ... but then, who will be left to report their sad bellyaching?

7/24/2007 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

PierreLegrand said...

"Perhaps the West is at war with both Marx and Mohammed?"

Yeah!? And perhaps the Pope is German?

President Bush is stuck between two mill stones that has ground up his political capital, i.e. Islamic Fascists on one side and moonbats on the other. No doubt the Islamic Fascists realized this when they started this war, i.e. we'd be fighting them with one arm tied behind our back thanks to the moonbats. Many of the Presidents so called "mistakes" have been a consequence of fighting two very different enemies at once.

7/24/2007 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...


Do you mean this?

The Senate included $18.4 billion but would require Iraq to repay about half — unless Saudi Arabia, Russia and other countries forgave 90 percent of the debt Baghdad ran up under Saddam Hussein's regime.

Gee God forbid that the Senate should put any pressure on dear old Saudi Arabia to forgive some Iraq loans, it not like they attacked us on 9/11 or anything. I'm sure US tax payers don't mind repaying Iraq's old loans to the Wahabbis.

And I guess the post WW2 Marshall plan was immoral too, several portions, especially the part dealing with Germany, were in the form of loans and had to be repaid.

7/24/2007 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

I don’t usually quote Che Guervera. In fact, I don’t even know how to spell the sorry SOB’s name, but I do recall one thing he supposedly said:

“No matter how accurate, air attacks will be perceived in the attack area as being wanton destruction.”

I can see how this could be true, at least in terms of a perception. And I can see how in counterinsurgency operations, such air attacks would be used as an example of how one side kills without discrimination.

However, with the widespread use of PGMs and, now, even concrete bombs containing no explosives, which limit the damage to very specific points, Che’s principle need not apply any longer. At least, it would not if the real truth was told by the media. In any case the Iraqis, whatever their political inclination, can clearly see that the damage done by our airpower is not wanton.

Now, compare that fact to the car bombs used in Iraq and Hezbolah's Iranian made rockets. But do you think the Western and Arab media will notice?

7/24/2007 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Kevin -- it is a matter of record that Abu Graib was nothing more than the night shift poorly supervised doing degrading and humiliating things to the prisoners. Not even worth getting excited about, there's far worse documented abuse at Pelican Bay (prisoners suffering third degree burns).

No one was either killed or suffered serious injury. The abuse was led by a corporal, with the officer corps not present. Calling Abu Graib anything but a triviality (the only serious issue was the lack of military discipline) is like calling bursting a pimple an amputation.

7/24/2007 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...


The Senate amendment wasn't about "putting pressure on Saudi Arabia". It was looting.

The Marshall Plan was offered to governments in Europe. The Federal Republic of Germany was up and running at the time the Marshall Plan was offered. Was West Germany under direct Allied control at that time? No.

In contrast, until power was handed over to Iyad Allawi, Iraq was under official occupation by the Coalition Provisional Authority, with Ambassador Bremer in control. Now, was anyone like Ambassador Bremer in control over West Germany when the Marshall plan was offered?

Do I think Iraq's neighbors should forgive war loans? Yes. However, sending aid as a forced loan to Iraq and then making repayment contingent upon the actions of other countries was and is a highly improper exercise of power.

With the exception of men like Senator Inouye, the Left's leadership on this issue was a miserable failure. It would be nice if the Left were not so intent on stealing money belonging to Iraqis.

7/24/2007 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Tigerhawks analysis only deals with the immediate actions in the insurgents/counterinsurgent conflict and in a conflict which is expected to be ongoing. If one side is widely expected to quit then that side poses a much less credible threat of sanction.

7/24/2007 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Iranian Strategy in Iraq

Just as Iranian strategists do not limit themselves to support a single Shia political group or militia, they do not constrain their interests to a single sectarian group. The Iranian government is pragmatic.

Iranian outreach to Sunni insurgents is a central component of their strategy in Iraq. While some academics and analysts argue that Iranian ideology precludes any such links to radical Sunni Islamists, history belies their analysis:

Iran founded Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Sunni Islamist terrorist group, and the first foreign official whom Khomeini invited to Tehran after his the Islamic Revolution was Yasir Arafat, at the time, a Sunni Marxist.
Arafat's ideology may have been anathema to Khomeini, but his mutual antipathy toward the West trumped such concern.

Iran's strategy for Iraq is complex. Tehran sees establishment of functioning democracy in Iraq to be an existential threat. The Iranian leadership finds any alternate source of religious leadership intolerable. Rather than establish a parallel Islamic Republic, therefore, Tehran seeks a compliant, little brother. For this, informal influence is key. Militias, proxy politicians, and a sophisticated information operations campaign are important tools to establish and protect such influence.

While U.S. authorities seek stability and security, the assumption that the Islamic Republic does--the basis of the Baker-Hamilton Commission findings--is as naïve as it is dangerous. Stability and security, if not on Iran's terms, may erode Iranian influence. Policymakers in Tehran may not want to live next to Somalia-like violence, but they do not want to live next to Swiss-style tranquility either, if it means ordinary Iranians will juxtapose their own society's stagnation and oppressiveness with growing affluence and freedom next door. Sometimes, there is no common ground. U.S. and Iranian interests in Iraq are diametrically opposed, and will continue to be until one side wins and the other loses.

Diplomacy in such a context becomes a mirage, a tactical tool to divert U.S. policy attention away from the Revolutionary Guards and intelligence officials charged with implementing the Iranian leadership's objectives.

7/24/2007 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Iranian strategic response to threats arising from the new situation in Iraq has been to replicate the Hezbollah model.

Step-by-step, Iranian authorities are implementing in Iraq the strategy which allowed Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy, to take over southern Lebanon in the 1980s. The playbook—military, economic, and information operation—is almost identical.

At the center of the Hezbollah strategy are the militias.
Just as the Revolutionary Guards helped hone Hezbollah into a deadly force, so too have they trained the Badr Corps, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)’s militia and the core of Shia firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr’s Jaysh al-Mahdi (Mahdi Army).

Iranian replication of the model was both deliberate and well-planned.
Badr Corps infiltrated Iraq even before U.S. forces reached Baghdad.

In the black market of Sadr City, the price of Iraqi documents
rose while those of Iranian passports fell, a result of rising demand for Iraqi papers and increasing numbers of Iranian documents on the market.
In July 2003, a joint Free Iraqi Force and U.S. patrol confiscated Iranian passports and significant sums of cash at an illegal Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) checkpoint, after KDP peshmerga allowed Iranian operatives to exchange Iranian documents for KDP-provided Iraqi papers.

Tehran’s choice of representations further reflected its strategy. Its first ambassador in post-Saddam Iraq was Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Revolutionary Guard’s former liaison to Hezbollah in Lebanon. After Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader Jalal Talabani became Iraq’s president, foreign diplomats met him to present formally their credentials. PUK officials said it was comical, as every Iranian “diplomat” they had known for years in their intelligence ministry or Revolutionary Guards capacity.

7/24/2007 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Are you really suggesting the left is really interested in victory or success in Iraq? That really would be news, because all I can figure is that from the beginning right through until now they have been, transparently and unashamedly, invested in defeat. I mean, some of your analysis might have a smidgen of weight if the left ever had a cogent alternative way that spelled victory -- or at least did not spell disaster.

Many forget they played the exact same tune in Afghanistan right up until it was obvious to the blind bat that we were going to win. Now, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would say "I think we should have stayed out of Afghanistan." I am sure if the current surge spells the beginning of the end of the insurgency, the left will somehow figure out a way to say it was their idea all along.

7/24/2007 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

There is NO quesion that Marx would support the US in the war against Islamic terror, just as he supported America in the Mexican war. History is progresssive, and we're closer to the end point than Al Qeada. To a Marxist, undoing progress is reactionary and wrong. Al Qeada will never produce socialism, let alone Communism.

The modern Left isn't really Marxist at all.

7/24/2007 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

"I am sure if the current surge spells the beginning of the end of the insurgency, the left will somehow figure out a way to say it was their idea all along."

No, what they will claim is that their criticism of the war led to the Administration to change its policies and strategy in Iraq. With their prodding the successes we are acheiving wouldn't have been possible. And they will say it with a straight-face.

7/24/2007 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

I love it when people argue we are not tough enough at such and such a longitude and latitude, and we should move our toy soldiers just an inch or two over on our children's-size globe...

7/24/2007 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger geoffb said...

The indiscriminate use of terror works only if the ones using it are a minority who are in control of a territory and are facing only internal threats. In the face of random acts of violence by the authorities the best course is to be the best informant they have. The indiscriminate terror separates all the people into individuals unable to act in concert against the authorities because of the distrust for each other. Divide and conquer taken to the extreme. However as soon as those who used the terror are seen as weak and unable to respond to threats the same people they terrorized will destroy them utterly. This does not mean that some new thug will not replace the old one. We can only supply the opportunity to have freedom and liberty, they (Iraqis) have to make the choice.

7/24/2007 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...


No, what they will claim is that their criticism of the war led to the Administration to change its policies and strategy in Iraq. With their prodding the successes we are acheiving wouldn't have been possible. And they will say it with a straight-face.

And in a perverse sense, they would be correct. I'm reminded of a scene from Hogan's Heroes.

Colonel Klink: What are you waiting for? Cut the wire.

Colonel Hogan: That's the problem. One of these wires disconnects the fuse, the other one fires the bomb. Which one would you cut, Shultz?

Sergeant Schultz: Don't ask me, this is a decision for an officer.

Colonel Hogan: All right. Which wire, Colonel Klink?

Colonel Klink: This one. [points to the white wire]

Colonel Hogan: You're sure?

Colonel Klink: Yes.

Colonel Hogan: [Cuts the black wire, the bomb stops ticking]

Colonel Klink: If you knew which wire it was, why did you ask me?

Colonel Hogan: I wasn't sure which was the right one, but I was certain you'd pick the wrong one.

7/24/2007 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...


The Federal Republic of Germany officially came into existence on September 21, 1949 while the provisions of the Marshall Plan were extended into Germany in 1948, one year before. In any case though I think your argument is correct, forcing loans on an occupied people is immoral. I would argue that the Senate was bluffing and just giving James Baker a better bargaining position as he tried to get other countries to give up their Saddam-era claims. Also six or seven Republicans voted for the measure making it “bipartisan” by current standards.

In any case you are correct, such loans would have been immoral.

7/25/2007 01:26:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...


Many forget they played the exact same tune in Afghanistan right up until it was obvious to the blind bat that we were going to win.

Sorry to be so direct but this is an outright lie. The Senate vote was 99-0 in the House it was 420-1 (the one being from Berkeley, where I went to school, Go Bears!). Only pacifists, both right and left wing, were in any way against Afghanistan.

And why should anyone be against that war. It was justified and very intelligently carried out. The bad example of the Soviet failure was in everyone’s mind and so a large US footprint was resisted and instead of a ground army a combination of airpower and proxies on the ground were used. Some people whined about Tora Bora but that is to be expected. I believe they were incorrect and the key strategic goal of keeping a small US footprint was more important then capturing bin Laden. In any case there is a good chance he died at Tora Bora anyway. And if you remember George Bush’s approval ratings were between 83 and 90% at the time.

The problem in Afghanistan was and still is Pakistan, just as it was for the Soviets. The key to winning that war was to concentrate on the tribal areas but every rational person admits that Pakistan is a very difficult problem to deal with so Bush has not received that much grief over it.

Are you really suggesting the left is really interested in victory or success in Iraq?

No I am not at all suggesting that the Left is the least bit interested in victory or success in Iraq. What I am saying as loudly as possible is that the Left is very interested in victory or success in the war against the Wahabbi militants called Al Qaida and sees the adventure in Iraq as at best a treasonous distraction from the war against Al Qaida.

Let me give you an historic example from WW2 to illustrate the point. In 1943 after the initial Allied successes in North Africa and Sicily there was a huge disagreement in the Allied camp on which steps next to take. The leftist Roosevelt wanted to launch Operation Overlord and invade France along its north Atlantic coast (as well as another eventual operation in the south of France). The right winger Churchill rejected Overlord and instead wanted to launch Operation Accolade, an invasion of the Greek island of Rhodes. The British, concerned about their colonial possessions wanted to pursue a Mediterranean strategy of island hopping. Next would have been Crete and then perhaps Cyprus. In the end the two Allies could not agree, the British were strongly resisting invading France, and, believe it or not, it was actually Stalin at the Tehran conference that ended the debate decided on Operation Overlord. And what would have happened if Churchill had won the debate and the Allies had veered off into the abyss of the Mediterranean? The Soviets would have eventually given up on Allied promises of real action and instead made a separate peace with Nazi Germany. The German occupation of Western Europe would have continued and the Allies would have been the proud owners of a bunch of useless islands (although admittedly the naval situation would have been improved). Hitler would have lived on to fight a one-front war against the West.

Now would it have been defeatist for patriotic Americans to resist the Mediterranean strategy and insisted on an invasion of German occupied France? On Iraq, where the Left can be faulted is not arguing more strongly against the foolish diversion into Iraq instead of the going after the Saudis by seizing their oil fields and launching a strategic air campaign and special forces operations aimed at closing all madrassas and bringing in down the House of Saud and replacing them with moderates. Unfortunately the Left in America has ignored military affairs for too long; one benefit of Iraq is the reawakening of the long tradition of strategic success on the Left exemplified by FDR. It may be too little too late though.

The problems were so obvious before the invasion of Iraq. The historic models of Algeria, the two Vietnams, southern Lebanon, Afghanistan (for the Soviets), showed that the insurgents have a very low threshold of performance to maintain to create a stalemate and the great power will have to eventually withdraw in shame or place at grave risk at some future point other more important strategic interests. In late 2002 I had an old cycling acquaintance who was working on the planning (at a low level) of Iraq. I gave him a copy of Alistair Horne’s A Savage War of Peace and told him that the US could only win in Iraq if we devised a strategy to deal with the insurgents. He gave it back a week later saying that his boss told him it was a defeatist book and that there were not going to be any insurgents in Iraq! I got my revenge last year when it was announced the President was (finally) reading the book.

In invading Iraq the US destroyed a strong state apparatus and thus created the perfect non-state chaotic breeding grounds that Al Qaida favors. Anyone who knows anything about military strategy (and who wasn’t ideologically committed to the project) could see the disaster coming. Martin Van Creveld is probably the greatest living authority of military strategy and history and he was scathing in his appraisals of the wisdom of invading Iraq.

What is clear now after four years in Iraq is that the only reason Al Qaida is able to survive there is due to the presence of US troops. The second the US military is redeployed (to occupy the Saudi oil fields and to the tribal areas of Pakistan) the Iraqis will move in and make mince meat of the remnants of Al Qaida.

So no, I don’t give a rat’s ass about victory in Iraq just as patriots during WW2 didn’t really care much about victory in Rhodes. Problem #1 is Al Qaida and the only way to defeat them is to go after their ideological bases in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. What I would agree to is that any pull out from Iraq be linked to going after both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This is the patriotic position to take, not blindly supporting a failed presidency into oblivion.

7/25/2007 02:38:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

I'll have to set aside an evening to read Kevin's latest post, and do some research to see how the assertions match history.

Just off-hand, it is highly interesting that Kevin calmly posits that invading Saudi Arabia and deposing the House of Saud would have been a much better strategem.

I hope Kevin will allow that doing so would have created a vast set of problems of its own, considering that the Saudi peninsula includes the most HOLY sites and cities of Islam, and considering that there are plenty of Mohammedans who are fiercely loyal to the House of Saud, regardless of its faults. It's good to recall that Osama bin Laden specifically mentioned the defiling presence of infidel U.S. forces on Saudi soil - deployed there to forestall further encroachment by Saddam after he took over Kuwait - as one of his reasons for waging war against the U.S.

The common thread of Kevin's posts seems to be that he strives for the appearance of placid scholarship, casting out tracts that at least seem thoughtfully phrased, but contain assertions in ton lots that need to be carefully researched to be assessed. I don't have a degree in history, but I have read extensively on modern (19th & 20th Century) Europe, WWI & WWII and their roots and aftermath. In the last 3 decades I've been reading a lot about M.E. history, and Islam, especially the life of Mohammed and the extra-Koranic stories known as the Hadith.

I only mention this because it strikes me repeatedly that it is awfully easy for someone to present a facade of amiable scholarly objectivity by tossing in a few undisputed "facts" then adding a bunch of BS in wholesale portions.

After living near the city of Berkeley, I am deeply deeply suspicious.

7/27/2007 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

How to conduct mimetic warfare.
"Violence won't work: how author of 'jihadists' bible' stirred up a storm: Revisionist message from prison cell shakes al-Qaida colleagues by Ian Black Cairo in Al-Guardian on Friday July 27, 2007

In a prison cell south of Cairo a repentant Egyptian terrorist leader is putting the finishing touches to a remarkable recantation that undermines the Muslim theological basis for violent jihad and is set to generate furious controversy among former comrades still fighting with al-Qaida.

Sayid Imam al-Sharif, 57, was the founder and first emir (commander) of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organisation, whose supporters assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and later teamed up with Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan in the war against the Soviet occupation.

Sharif, a surgeon who is still known by his underground name of "Dr Fadl", is famous as the author of the Salafi jihadists' "bible" - Foundations of Preparation for Holy War. He worked with Ayman al-Zawahiri, another Egyptian doctor and now Bin Laden's deputy, before being kidnapped in Yemen after 9/11, interrogated by the CIA and extradited to Egypt where has been serving a life sentence since 2004.

Sharif recently gave an electrifying foretaste of his conversion by condemning killings on the basis of nationality and colour of skin and the targeting of women and children, citing the Qur'anic injunction: "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress the limits; for God loveth not transgressors." Armed operations were wrong, counterproductive and must cease, he declared sternly.

... Egyptian and western experts, government officials and former jihadis agree that Sharif's shift is both genuine and highly significant. "People will say things to stop being tortured, but this is the result of a long process of reflection and debate," insists Muntasir al-Zayyat, a lawyer jailed for Islamic Jihad membership in the 1980s. "When the book comes out there will be a furious reaction from Zawahiri and the global jihadi movement. It is clear that Sayid Imam will call a halt to killing operations in Egypt and abroad."


This could be a major break though in the mimetic war against jihadism.

7/28/2007 02:09:00 PM  

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