PDA

View Full Version : The Internet: A Portal to Violent Islamist Extremism


Jedburgh
05-04-2007, 08:14 PM
Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on The Internet: A Portal to Violent Islamist Extremism, 3 May 07:

Michael S. Doran, Deputy Asst Secretary of Defense for Support for Public Diplomacy (http://hsgac.senate.gov/_files/050307Doran.pdf)

LTC Joseph H. Felter, Director, USMA Combating Terrorism Center (http://hsgac.senate.gov/_files/050307Felter.pdf)

Frank J. Cilluffo, Associate VP for Homeland Security, Director, Homeland Security Policy Institute, GWU (http://hsgac.senate.gov/_files/050307Cilluffo.pdf)

Stan
07-06-2007, 09:10 AM
From Russia's Daily Online Kommersant (http://www.kommersant.com/p-10976/web_security/): Chief of staff of the National Antiterrorist Committee Vladimir Bulavin called the Internet an aid to terrorists and criminals.

At a working meeting between the special services of Russia and Azerbaijan, Bulavin stated, “We have a common headache and misfortune. That's the Internet, which was probably thought up by the world community for the better, in its own way, but has, unfortunately, turned into an encyclopedia and aid for terrorists and bandit elements.” Bulavin said that the Russian and Azeri special services discussed how to fight that phenomenon.
“Even on the bilateral level, we cannot defeat that phenomenon,” Bulavin said. “Therefore, we intend to introduce the issue at the meeting of the FSB (http://www.fsb.ru//) of Russia with its foreign partners, which will take place in September 2007 in Khabarovsk. Representatives of almost 90 enforcement agencies from 59 countries will take part in that meeting.

Bulavin also stated that the special services of Russia and Azerbaijan discussed joint action to counter international terrorism, guaranteeing the security of electricity- and heat-generating facilities, cooperation at the border, informational security and personnel training.

SteveMetz
10-15-2007, 11:03 AM
"When Osama bin Laden issued his videotaped message to the American people last month, a young jihad enthusiast went online to help spread the word. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/15/us/15net.html?hp)

The global jihad is as close as YouTube, which features videos like an ode to suicide attacks, a message 'to black Americans' from a bin Laden lieutenant, and an Iraq insurgency promotional message.

'America needs to listen to Shaykh Usaamah very carefully and take his message with great seriousness,' he wrote on his blog. 'America is known to be a people of arrogance.'

Unlike Mr. bin Laden, the blogger was not operating from a remote location. It turns out he is a 21-year-old American named Samir Khan who produces his blog from his parents’ home in North Carolina, where he serves as a kind of Western relay station for the multimedia productions of violent Islamic groups..."

Personally, I think the United States ought to consider armed intervention in North Carolina. If we could somehow turn it into a democracy, it could spark further democratization in the region. And that would undercut this sort of support for terrorism.

But seriously, this is one more example of how information technology has altered the strategic landscape by blurring the distinctions between fantasy and reality in the minds of delusional young males. I still believe we are approaching a time when the United States will be forced to treat people from terrorism-producing states like Pakistan and the Arab world as we did those from the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, i.e. as requiring special control and surveillance.

Rockbridge
10-16-2007, 08:06 AM
The fine line between free speech and providing aid and comfort to the enemy has been crossed. I've always been a fan of deportation. The "black Chinook" needs to be sent out to get this guy.

Our legal system simply doesn't have a mechanism for dealing with these types of people. Are they enemy collaborators or are they simply voicing their opinions? Either way, they bear watching at the very least.

SteveMetz
10-16-2007, 12:04 PM
The fine line between free speech and providing aid and comfort to the enemy has been crossed. I've always been a fan of deportation. The "black Chinook" needs to be sent out to get this guy.

Our legal system simply doesn't have a mechanism for dealing with these types of people. Are they enemy collaborators or are they simply voicing their opinions? Either way, they bear watching at the very least.

On the afternoon of September 11th I said that THE great debate of coming years is whether we can survive with an 18th century constitution and a 20th or even 19th century conceptualization of war in the 21st century. I agree with you that we need to relook our notion of free speech. Our traditional idea is that we're willing to accept constrictions of our freedoms during time of war. That was OK when wars were abnormal and episodic. But how does that play out if war is persistent, maybe even perpetual? As a nation, we have not yet had this debate.

Old Eagle
10-16-2007, 01:47 PM
Hadn't considered the challenge in these terms before. But if all (persistent) conflict takes place within the information environment, as our doctrinal manuals proclaim, there are major implications.

Theoretically, one solution is indeed to restrict freedom of expression, but the other is to get better than the bad guys at this game.

marct
10-16-2007, 03:38 PM
Hi Steve,

On the afternoon of September 11th I said that THE great debate of coming years is whether we can survive with an 18th century constitution and a 20th or even 19th century conceptualization of war in the 21st century.

Yup. The thing is that what has really strained your constitution isn't war per se, but a complete shift in the communications and cognitive environments. The environment which produced your constitution was one of a literate elite and middle classes, but restricted numbers of works. This led to a definition of "cultural literacy" which was broad based and highly reflective and reflexive. It also led to a situation where people knew what "clear thinking" (in the sense of logical thinking) was and recognized its limitations (i.e. change the assumptions, change the outcome).

Ever since you folks shifted to a Managed Society, things have changed (consider the effects of shifting from oral debate and letter writing to local papers vs. the employment of radio and, later, television - broadcast media rather than interactive). The Managed Society pretty much had put the last nail in the coffin of your constitution by about, say, the mid-1960's and then proceeded to go into its own death throws in the late 1960's - early 1970's. The spin offs, however, such as a large bureaucracy, large corporations, "recognized thinkers" and a two-party system which stifles actual debate and thought, are still with you.

Now you are in the Information Society - a form of social organization that is closer to hunting and gathering behaviour and meaning construction than anything else. And, given the spread and reach of 'net based communications, that means the search for meaning is global. What is even worse is that the "traditional" forms of meaning available in the US, many of them centered around individualism and/or service to an ideal, had been appropriated by the Managed Society and either "tainted" or warped by them.

I agree with you that we need to relook our notion of free speech. Our traditional idea is that we're willing to accept constrictions of our freedoms during time of war. That was OK when wars were abnormal and episodic.

I'm going to sound a bit like Buckle (or Jared Diamond) here, but it really has little to do with the "abnormal and episodic" nature of war - it has to do with communicative closeness. The US, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand had a major advantage during the 19th and early 20th centuries - we were all a long way away from anyone who wanted to schmuck us and protected by oceans. Nowadays, our communications environment is closer to that of the Germanies in the 17th century and it is our communications environment that is the environment in which and through which we construct or sense of meaning and identity.

But how does that play out if war is persistent, maybe even perpetual? As a nation, we have not yet had this debate.

That is a key question, Steve. My take on it is that in many ways you need to centre that debate on the what it means to be "American" - the positive forms of identity. One of the keys to that is freedom of speech, but not freedom of action (i.e. you can talk in favour of the irhabi but not materially support them). The debate does need to be held and it will, IMHO, be a very long one.

wm
10-16-2007, 03:52 PM
On the afternoon of September 11th I said that THE great debate of coming years is whether we can survive with an 18th century constitution and a 20th or even 19th century conceptualization of war in the 21st century. I agree with you that we need to relook our notion of free speech. Our traditional idea is that we're willing to accept constrictions of our freedoms during time of war. That was OK when wars were abnormal and episodic. But how does that play out if war is persistent, maybe even perpetual? As a nation, we have not yet had this debate.

I think we need to remember a significant insurgent goal and the tactics used to achieve it. Insurgencies succeed by causing the people to give up their allegiance to the current government. A way to do this is to use methods that change perceptions as to the legitimitacy of the current governing institution or party. Insurgents seek to undermine the perceived legitimacy of an incumbent government by causing that government to change the country's status quo in ways perceived as negative by the country's citizens/inhabitants. For example, the repression of the current freedom of expression enjoyed in the United States would be at least a tactical victory for the bad guys out there. It becomes tough to advocate for and defend liberal democracy around the globe when one is repressing its tenets at home.

The fact that we as a nation have not had the debate Steve notes might indicate that the citizens (those the government is supposed to serve) do not see a need to change how the government protects the values the people want protected.

Rockbridge
10-17-2007, 12:33 AM
It becomes tough to advocate for and defend liberal democracy around the globe when one is repressing its tenets at home.


I couldn't agree more, and certainly don't advocate heading down the slippery slope to suppressing 1st Amendment rightts. If we go that direction, somebody might decide that SWJ needs to be suppressed.

That being said, if his overt support for terrorists was made widely known in his hometown, his life might be a bit less pleasant. If all of your neighbors know what that you're openly advocating the armed overthrow of their government and destruction of their society, they might not be too friendly.

Schmedlap
10-22-2007, 10:10 AM
Originally Posted by SteveMetz:
I agree with you that we need to relook our notion of free speech. Our traditional idea is that we're willing to accept constrictions of our freedoms during time of war. That was OK when wars were abnormal and episodic.

Originally posted by marct:
I'm going to sound a bit like Buckle (or Jared Diamond) here, but it really has little to do with the "abnormal and episodic" nature of war - it has to do with communicative closeness. The US, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand had a major advantage during the 19th and early 20th centuries - we were all a long way away from anyone who wanted to schmuck us and protected by oceans. Nowadays, our communications environment is closer to that of the Germanies in the 17th century and it is our communications environment that is the environment in which and through which we construct or sense of meaning and identity.

I agree with the rest of your post, but I think you missed it here. I think that our society realized, as recently as WWII, that a war is US against THEM. Since then, it has become fashionable and sometimes even a prerequisite to being recognized as an enlightened thinker in America to be overly self-critical of your own country. To decry America as an imperialist, greedy, destructive force in the world is the acme of enlightenment in many influential academic circles. To decry America as inherently racist and prejudiced against minorities is a necessary perception that must be perpetuated for various victims' rights groups.

A fissure has developed between many Americans and our civil society. It is partly due to the aforementioned trendiness of self-loathing and partly due to a higher standard of living and cushiness about our society that allows impressionable youths and disconnected academics to ponder about, and convince themselves of, nonsensical ideas about the evils of America. When a person no longer sees himself as a member of civil society, but rather views civil society as an obstacle to his immediate personal gratification or an inconvenience or as a tyrant that he has constructed in his mind, then it is tough to foster the "US versus THEM" mindset necessary to enforce behavior in the way that Lincoln or FDR did.

Can you imagine the response if Bush set up internment camps for Arabs and/or Muslims like FDR did in WWII? Can you imagine suspending Habeas Corpus like Lincoln did? Most important of all, can you imagine if the interned citizens still swore allegiance to America as the Japanese did in WWII?

You cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater, but you can run a propaganda machine for an international terrorist organization that seeks your destruction.

tequila
10-22-2007, 10:31 AM
Can you imagine the response if Bush set up internment camps for Arabs and/or Muslims like FDR did in WWII? Can you imagine suspending Habeas Corpus like Lincoln did?

Those things are generally regarded as horrific mistakes that did not help the war effort.

If you want to embrace bin Laden's or the Islamist blogger's argument that this is really a war between the United States and all Muslims, then by all means go ahead. Don't expect everyone to agree with you, and don't expect those who disagree to respond well when you brand them as traitors or subversives.

Schmedlap
10-22-2007, 10:57 AM
Those things are generally regarded as horrific mistakes that did not help the war effort.

If you want to embrace bin Laden's or the Islamist blogger's argument that this is really a war between the United States and all Muslims, then by all means go ahead. Don't expect everyone to agree with you, and don't expect those who disagree to respond well when you brand them as traitors or subversives.

I was speaking to the change in society, not to the effectiveness of the policies. The number of valor awards from the 442nd pretty much puts any debate on that issue to bed.

tequila
10-22-2007, 11:42 AM
I was speaking to the change in society, not to the effectiveness of the policies. The number of valor awards from the 442nd pretty much puts any debate on that issue to bed.

If you're talking about social cohesion, that tends to vary throughout history, generally based on economic conditions. I'd argue that the Civil War era which you cited before was a time of extremely low social cohesion, so much so that the Union itself split apart and significant portions of the population in both North & South were actively disloyal or aggressively nonparticipatory in the war itself. The WWII era had a much higher degree of social cohesion, but that was also a function of the industrial economy and its subsidiary, national conscription.

The WWII era was not more virtuous than today. It was vastly less egalitarian and unequal politically, saw violent and aggressive disenfranchisement of large segments of the American population, and from a purely military standpoint oversaw enormous incompetence and disasters which were either covered up or disregarded in the name of national morale (Market Garden, Pearl Harbor, the fall of the Philippines, Hurtgen Forest, the failure of Army commanders at Omaha to take advice from Pacific theater veterans, much of the Italian campaign, etc. etc.) IMO we need to stop looking at the past in sepia tone and understand it for what it really was - that's the only way to gain both understanding and lessons for the future.

Schmedlap
10-23-2007, 07:27 AM
I'd argue that the Civil War era which you cited before was a time of extremely low social cohesion, so much so that the Union itself split apart and significant portions of the population in both North & South were actively disloyal or aggressively nonparticipatory in the war itself. The WWII era had a much higher degree of social cohesion, but that was also a function of the industrial economy and its subsidiary, national conscription.

The WWII era was not more virtuous than today. It was vastly less egalitarian and unequal politically, saw violent and aggressive disenfranchisement of large segments of the American population, and from a purely military standpoint oversaw enormous incompetence and disasters which were either covered up or disregarded in the name of national morale...

I agree with everything quoted above, though I suspect that if we both begin from this starting point, we will arrive at different conclusions. In the WWII era, many Americans did not see themselves as part of civil society. They wanted to be included and in this quest they endured injustices that few of us would tolerate today, being shunned due to their ethnicity or other unjust reasons. Today, an equal or larger proportion of America is unconcerned with membership, with some actively rejecting civil society.

If one does not care one way or the other about inclusion in civil society, then it is difficult for that person to place much importance on the outcome of battles that the society enters into (in other words, “militant Islamists hate America, not me”). He is susceptible to being persuaded to support or not support the battle for reasons that are disconnected from the benefits of success or the costs of failure (In other words, this argument can sound logical: “lots of teens with no other economic opportunities in life than to join the Army are dying in Iraq, therefore we should end this war”).

If one actively rejects and opposes the society around him, then that person is likely to seek to rally opposition to the battle. His most logical audience, aside from peers, is those who have the least interest in the benefits of winning, such as the personality above.

The (thankfully) modal American personality sees himself as a member of civil society, sees that he has a shared stake in the outcome of a battle, and is susceptible to persuasive arguments connected to the benefits of success or costs of failure or inaction. And there are still those among us today who are not members of civil society (residents, aspiring immigrants, etc) but who seek inclusion into society and hold the sense of a shared stake in the outcome of our battles.

Among those who see themselves as members of civil society or aspire to be part of it, I think that you will be hard-pressed to find many who oppose continuing our efforts in Iraq unless they think that failure is inevitable or that there is almost no benefit to succeeding. Contrast this with the rhetoric of the most vocal among those who reject or abstain from our civil society: Bush lied, Cheney is an evil oil baron, 4,000 dead, thousands of Iraqis are being raped and slaughtered by a handful of troops, we’re to blame for al-Qaeda’s actions, et cetera. There is not much evidence that they are concerned with the outcome and its implications for our nation. They are simply offended by the use of force in our national interest and horrified at human suffering, oblivious to the context in which it occurs.

And, just to clarify ahead of time, I do not expect everyone to agree with me, nor would I seek to persuade them by calling them names. I’m pondering the situation, not recommending a course of action. The former must precede the latter. Most of my peers prefer to discuss football and their upcoming PCS, so this forum is a more logical place to have my views challenged so that I can refine or reject them. Hopefully that doesn’t sound like I’m trying to be cute or coy – I do recognize that nutjobs pop up in open forums and purposely “disrupt”, “flame”, or spout extreme views that they have no intention of changing, regardless of the evidence against them. I present my views so that others may pick them apart or validate them.

Ken White
10-23-2007, 05:16 PM
While I might quibble around the edges a tiny bit and would add that most Americans are considerably more concerned with US success than they are about the factors cited by those opposed to this war (many to any war...), I think he has it mostly correct.

Errors are made in all wars, tequila cites a few from World War II. There were many more, some more egregious and / or damaging than those named -- Palau comes to mind -- but anything involving humans is highly subject to error and often for very base reasons. That is not going to change. Far more regrettably, a tendency to fail to learn from past mistakes also seems to be a human foible...

I would add that with respect to current operations, there have been errors aplenty -- strategic, operational and tactical -- in high places and one of the most important is the abject failure of this administration to outline its case for Iraq. This is the worst Admin for getting its message out in my memory. :(

I believe that the errors made in WW II and those made today do not negate the necessity of participation in either war.

bourbon
10-23-2007, 10:43 PM
Posts

You argue there is a disconnect between parts of our nation and civil society. However, we currently have an all-volunteer, professional military, which is in stark contrast to the traditional American way of war. Historically we rapidly stand up forces in times of need through conscription, and just as rapidly stand them down when the crisis ends. Standing armies in the United States have been historically small and insignificant, for our Founding Fathers warned us of the danger they bring. This is how we do it. This is our system.

I think you make some very good points, but is it right to be critical of portions of our nation when we have deviated so far from our historical norm?

Ken White
10-23-2007, 11:46 PM
all volunteer professional military; conscription was used briefly only in the Civil War and World War I.

It was reimposed for World War II; intended to be for the war period only. The world was irrevocably changed by WW II and we had become a global power so, for the very first time, the draft was reinstituted in peacetime (1948) after the war and that effectively gave us a quite large standing Army from 1950 until 1973, running about .004 of the population for most of that period with spikes for Korea and Viet Nam (only about seven out of 24) .

From 1973 until 1991, that figure was about .003 -- with no draft.

Compare that to 1930. A 165K Army (including the Army Air Corps) equated to about .0014 of the population. Today with vastly more responsibility it's only about .0017 (with about as many aircraft as has the Air force). That is not a significantly greater number and it doesn't approach the 1950-1991 figure.

I suggest that the deviation in strength and processes is not great and that the real and very significant deviation is the transformation from an inward looking growing nation to a major power with global responsibilities. Given that major change in focus and responsibility -- wanted or not, we have it -- the actual change is miniscule and unavoidable.

The internal US societal changes are, I believe, a different issue that have little bearing on the size and structure of the Army.

marct
10-24-2007, 02:39 PM
Hi Ken,

The internal US societal changes are, I believe, a different issue that have little bearing on the size and structure of the Army.

I'm not sure that I would agree with you on this. I have a suspicion that the social changes and, more importantly, the disjuncture between stated political ideologies and the "lived experience" of many Americans, is having a major effect on the size and structure of the Army. As a case in point, the issue of junior officer retention and the use of cash bonuses seems to point to a significant problem.

A few of my more radical, left wing friends and colleagues have made an interesting argument that is, IMHO, somewhat germane to this issue: they argue that, for the past 70+ years, the Management Society has been, basically, attempting to "domesticate" the average American. While I think they are definitely over the top in their rhetoric and their more than somewhat paranoid conspiracy theories, they does raise some interesting observations.

First, North American culture has been shifted significantly from a somewhat balanced point of individual freedoms and responsibilities to one where individual "rights" dominate. Second, and again obver the same period (roughly 1910 to the present if we go back to the Taylorite model), we have seen an increasing acquiescence to the power of "experts" to define how things should be run. Third, we have seen a systematic stripping away of many of the "traditional" systems of meaning (often religious, but also nationalistic) and their replacement with commercialized versions (i.e. and individual gets meaning not from acting within a transcendent system but from buying things and "constructing" their "own" identities).

I think that this trend has had an effect on the Army and, probably more on the USMC, since they still operate with an "older" form of "meaning" and identity construction. As a result, I think that you see the military attracting people who have a more "conservative" (please not the small "c") attitude towards rights and responsibilities, and this is where I see the disjuncture between the military and the rest of civil society showing up.

I'm tossing this out really as a discussion point rather than something I could prove :wry:.

Marc

wm
10-24-2007, 03:36 PM
North American culture has been shifted significantly from a somewhat balanced point of individual freedoms and responsibilities to one where individual "rights" dominate. Second, and again obver the same period (roughly 1910 to the present if we go back to the Taylorite model), we have seen an increasing acquiescence to the power of "experts" to define how things should be run. Third, we have seen a systematic stripping away of many of the "traditional" systems of meaning (often religious, but also nationalistic) and their replacement with commercialized versions (i.e. and individual gets meaning not from acting within a transcendent system but from buying things and "constructing" their "own" identities).

I think that this trend has had an effect on the Army and, probably more on the USMC, since they still operate with an "older" form of "meaning" and identity construction. As a result, I think that you see the military attracting people who have a more "conservative" (please not the small "c") attitude towards rights and responsibilities, and this is where I see the disjuncture between the military and the rest of civil society showing up.


Marc,
I suspect you may be right about the shift in the systems that provide "meaning" to individuals' lives. But, I think it is more of a pendulum swing than a move to a new system.
If you remember your Locke, you jnow that he identified our fundamental rights as life, liberty, and property. We seem to have gone back to the Lockean notion of property as a defining characteristic of our place in the world. This is far from a new thing. What is somewhat new is what now counts as property. Where once it was what one actually produced with the sweat of one's brow (the original definition of property from Locke), it is now the number and type of possessions that our buying power allows us to acquire--necessities versus luxuries if you will. Those who are more concerned with the necessities are those who fit into what you described as "small c" conservatives, IMO.

To put this a little more poetically, Rousseau noted "Man is born free yet is everywhere in chains." Today, more of us than ever before are "chained" by our "need" to acquire the latest and greatest consumer goods instead of the basic essentials of life (like food and shelter). As a result, we have less time/desire to be "chained" by such things as national service, unless they can satisify our consumerism needs.

Those who are chained to the more fundamental needs are more likely to be attracted to the radical appeal. They see it as a means to break free from those chains so they can be shackled to the "higher pleasure."

tequila
10-24-2007, 03:49 PM
I think economic change has enabled to a large extent a return to an older form of social organization where the emphasis is placed on individualism as opposed to communalism.

In the postindustrial economy, one's ability to work in teams, to sublimate one's own individual personality and goals for the good of a larger organization or effort, is no longer worth as much. These communalist values were useful on the factory floor or in large regular armies.

Nowadays there is more of an emphasis placed on individual achievement, how one's talents or abilities can separate oneself from the broader mass, on individual specialization and skills. This is in turn rewarded with individual satisfaction and outsized praise and awards. Consumerism is a symptom, not the cause.

In essence a shift back towards an aristocratic ethos more recognizable from the 1800s, except rather than limited by birthright the aristocracy is limited instead by educational achievement and skill set.

Ken White
10-24-2007, 04:37 PM
Hi Ken,
. . .
I'm not sure that I would agree with you on this. I have a suspicion that the social changes and, more importantly, the disjuncture between stated political ideologies and the "lived experience" of many Americans, is having a major effect on the size and structure of the Army. As a case in point, the issue of junior officer retention and the use of cash bonuses seems to point to a significant problem.
. . .

Note I said little bearing. We can differ on the amount I suppose... :)

I suggest the bonuses are indeed a response to societal changes -- the metrosexualization slash liberalization and the increasing emphasis individualism for just two impactors -- but those are responses to address the societal impacts, not drivers of the size and structure.

I'd also suggest that junior officer retention invariably decreases with a volunteer force in any wartime scenario; the wives don't like it and the more sensitive of said J.O find out that war is brutal and not just an academic exercise, they are turned off at the waste and trauma (as is most everyone; some just tolerate it better than others).

I broadly agree with the rest of your comment, however, this:"As a result, I think that you see the military attracting people who have a more conservative" (please not the small "c") attitude towards rights and responsibilities, and this is where I see the disjuncture between the military and the rest of civil society showing up."
while true has -- thus far -- had little bearing on size and structure but great impact on the disjunctive factor..

The reverse of that attitude, the progressive view in general, has had a more significant impact on size and structure in the downsizing, imposition of various social engineering programs and funding cuts prior to 2001.

There has been a societal effect, no question but I contend it has been minimal to this point. That said, I'll acknowledge the future doesn't portend well... :(

Norfolk
10-24-2007, 04:42 PM
I have a suspicion that the social changes and, more importantly, the disjuncture between stated political ideologies and the "lived experience" of many Americans, is having a major effect on the size and structure of the Army. As a case in point, the issue of junior officer retention and the use of cash bonuses seems to point to a significant problem.

A few of my more radical, left wing friends and colleagues have made an interesting argument that is, IMHO, somewhat germane to this issue: they argue that, for the past 70+ years, the Management Society has been, basically, attempting to "domesticate" the average American. While I think they are definitely over the top in their rhetoric and their more than somewhat paranoid conspiracy theories, they does raise some interesting observations.

First, North American culture has been shifted significantly from a somewhat balanced point of individual freedoms and responsibilities to one where individual "rights" dominate. Second, and again obver the same period (roughly 1910 to the present if we go back to the Taylorite model), we have seen an increasing acquiescence to the power of "experts" to define how things should be run. Third, we have seen a systematic stripping away of many of the "traditional" systems of meaning (often religious, but also nationalistic) and their replacement with commercialized versions (i.e. and individual gets meaning not from acting within a transcendent system but from buying things and "constructing" their "own" identities).

I think that this trend has had an effect on the Army and, probably more on the USMC, since they still operate with an "older" form of "meaning" and identity construction. As a result, I think that you see the military attracting people who have a more "conservative" (please not the small "c") attitude towards rights and responsibilities, and this is where I see the disjuncture between the military and the rest of civil society showing up.

I'm tossing this out really as a discussion point rather than something I could prove :wry:.

Marc

I'll take the bait.

First off. If you walked into the lines of any Combat Arms unit in the English-speaking world, and asked for a show of hands of who was right-wing, most of the hands would go up; when you asked who was left wing, maybe a few defiant, or embarrassed individuals might raise their hands, to the (at best) the jeering of all the rest or (just as likely) the general annoyance of said. In general, I doubt that you would be able to find very many individuals, especially inside the Combat Arms, who would admit to be "left-wing". Even outside the Combat Arms, the troops tend to be right-wing in their views.
The Officer Corps, even though they are perhaps more likely (I suspect) to have individuals of leftist persuasion in their midst, not only tend to be rightist in their persuasions, but over the last generation or so a discernible "hardening" into right-wing tendencies has visibly occurred.

Second, and developing the first point, not only has there been much comment in recent years over the "politicization" of the Officer Corps (and in at least three of said English-speaking countries) - and to the right - but being in the Military in recent decades involves a political indentity as well, that is more or less part-and-parcel of being "Military". Political Parties are observed to be either Anti-Military - and invariably "Left-Wing" - or Pro-Military - and invariably "Right-Wing". Given the veiled (and sometimes open)hostility of Left-Wing politicians and parties to the Military in general, and the rather more "benign" (often it isn't), even solicitous attitudes of Right-Wing politicans and parties to the Military, the officers and men find themselves repelled by the former and inclined to the latter.

Third, and back to the "identity" matter. In the absence of strong traditional identities normally organic to society that suppressed or denigrated in our current "individualistic" society, people are encouraged to "construct" their own identity. First off, people are not just individuals; it is neither natural nor normal for humans to be simply individuals. Humans are naturally and normally organic members of human society (and I'm not going for the pathetic "communitarianism" rubbish of a decade or so ago - good riddance to that). They are not by nature simple individuals; political "philosophical" (I would say ideological instead) rhetoric directed to such ends is self-serving rubbish (literally) for selfish conceptions of human life and the ideologies that are constructed to see such conceptions brought into reality - like now. When such nihilistic (and to those who instead prefer the term "existentialist", well this is what existentialism really is with the thin layer of varnish stripped-off - existentialists are nihilists in denial) conceptions of human life are imposed upon human society, then individuals stripped of traditional sources of identity much more easily adopt whatever political persuasions are common to their place of work.

Fourth. The place of work has become so vital to personal identity for so many people in the absence of other sources of identity that the prevailing "culture" (in the modern anthropologically-defined sense) either socializes its member so those views, or is likewise attractive to individuals who see their own views more of less reflected in those places of work, and thus are drawn to those workplaces. For men, certainly, work has always been a key source of identity and purpose; said matter is greatly aggravated when there is little or no vital or at least important social attachments outside of work, or work and immediate family. The Military for one, is often seen by many men of "Right-Wing" persuasions to be attractive, even conducive to their own views. Once in the Military, they often find their Right-Wing views not only confirmed or developed further, but hardened as well. Conversely, those who are of "Left-Wing" persuasions strongly tend to view the Military with suspicion or even contempt, and avoid joining. Thus, the Military attracts, and is seen to be attractive to, those of the Right, and repellant to, those of the Left.

Fifth. In an individualistic society that deliberately leaves its members to construct (or rather, seem to construct) their own identities and purposes in life, such nihilism, given the breakdown of organic and traditional social attachments and identities - and above all meaning - creates two things. The first is a self-fulfilling prophecy - Leftists don't like the Military, and don't join; Rightists like the military, and are inclined to join - and the Military becomes inclined to the Right, whilst the Left are inclined to other professions, such as Academia, the Media, certain professions, and the like. This creates a not only a visible tension, but a potential source of serious conflict in the event of Left-Wing Governments and Right-Wing Militaries (in addition to the tensions that exist when both are of the Right). Thus, wars like Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq lead to much bitterness back home, and a "war" of sorts is waged between the Left and the Right. The Military, not without good reason, strongly tends to perceive the attentions and intentions of the Left as being inherently subversive to its operations, and even to the Military as an Institution itself. Conflicts betwen the Military and the Right are usually (not always) unencumbered by such mutual suspicion and animosity. The Left, for its part, tends to see the Military as a tool of the Right (at best) or a key "plotter" so to speak in whatever vast Right-Wing conspiracy its political ilk are up to (at worst). Needless to say, the situatation is often poisonous. And it is the Left that tends to want to cut the Military, and deeply, whereas the Right tends to be more reluctant in this area.

marc is correct about his suspicions with regard to existing social conditions and individual identity. But given the fact that social scientists aren't exactly beating down the Military's doors to get in and do serious, open-minded research and study on the matter, there's not a lot of serious, objective, documented proof on this. Just the testimony of those who are or have been in, the Military.

I think that the Composition, much more so than the Size and Structure, of the military is most affected by this; but is has a lesser, though real impact on the latter matters.

Ken White
10-24-2007, 04:43 PM
"Nowadays there is more of an emphasis placed on individual achievement, how one's talents or abilities can separate oneself from the broader mass, on individual specialization and skills. This is in turn rewarded with individual satisfaction and outsized praise and awards. Consumerism is a symptom, not the cause."

I'd add all fed by an underperforming elementary and secondary education system and a national media that is effectively juvenile and dominated by the 'entertainment' industry.

Norfolk
10-24-2007, 04:59 PM
I'd add all fed by an underperforming elementary and secondary education system and a national media that is effectively juvenile and dominated by the 'entertainment' industry.

The knock-on effect of this for the Military is that, in time, it may attract, and become attracted to, those who seek nihilistic glory; this has always been a temptation for generals (and others), but when social constraints against (due to lack of social attachments and traditional meaning), and social admiration of, those who stand out most, or seek to, may have serious consequences down the road. Heroism in the mold of Sergeant York or Audie Murphy may be displaced for that of Alexander the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte.

Tom Odom
10-24-2007, 04:59 PM
I'd add all fed by an underperforming elementary and secondary education system and a national media that is effectively juvenile and dominated by the 'entertainment' industry.

Dude,

Way cool.

Tom

Where's my car?

Norfolk
10-24-2007, 05:00 PM
Dude,

Way cool.

Tom

Where's my car?

Tom,

Like, you mean like, you didn't get one for your Sweet Sixteen?:rolleyes:

Tom Odom
10-24-2007, 05:03 PM
Tom,

Like, you mean like, you didn't get one for your Sweet Sixteen?:rolleyes:

Naw man,

But in 6 more years I can hope for Sexy 60th...:eek:

Tom

Radical...:cool:

marct
10-24-2007, 05:11 PM
Actually, I think Norfolk did a really good job of analyzing the political sifting / attraction that seems to be going on. And I do agree that it has probably effected composition more than size or structure - at least for now, I also share Ken's concern about the future.

Tequila, I don't really see so much as a return to individualism so much as a return to reciprocity and the value (or value add) of individuals in networks. That's not communalism, BTW.

Tom, "Sexy 60"??????

Marc

tequila
10-24-2007, 05:22 PM
Tequila, I don't really see so much as a return to individualism so much as a return to reciprocity and the value (or value add) of individuals in networks. That's not communalism, BTW.


Eh, what? My whole bit was about communalist values of the industrial age economy and military giving way to the individualist values of a postindustrial, services/information economy. The military will have to adjust to this and it is not simply along the lines of a Right / Left political breakdown. Key elements of the Right have been at the forefront of this societal shift (Margaret Thatcher: "There is no such thing as society.") which is primarily economic but which naturally remakes social relationships and values.

Rex Brynen
10-24-2007, 05:29 PM
Eh, what?
If you're trying to speak to Marc in Canadian, it should be "What, eh?" (The syntax can be confusing).:D

My whole bit was about communalist values of the industrial age economy and military giving way to the individualist values of a postindustrial, services/information economy. The military will have to adjust to this and it is not simply along the lines of a Right / Left political breakdown. Key elements of the Right have been at the forefront of this societal shift (Margaret Thatcher: "There is no such thing as society.") which is primarily economic but which naturally remakes social relationships and values.

Although I do rather enjoy the irony of debating the post-industrial/information age return to individualism as we chat on our highly communal, information age Small Wars Council website.....

tequila
10-24-2007, 05:36 PM
If you're trying to speak to Marc in Canadian, it should be "What, eh?" (The syntax can be confusing).:D


Bah. Tories. :p


Although I do rather enjoy the irony of debating the post-industrial/information age return to individualism as we chat on our highly communal, information age Small Wars Council website.....

Well, it's not as communal as kicking back with a beer after work, no? :D

marct
10-24-2007, 05:44 PM
Hi Tequila,

Eh, what? My whole bit was about communalist values of the industrial age economy and military giving way to the individualist values of a postindustrial, services/information economy. The military will have to adjust to this and it is not simply along the lines of a Right / Left political breakdown. Key elements of the Right have been at the forefront of this societal shift (Margaret Thatcher: "There is no such thing as society.") which is primarily economic but which naturally remakes social relationships and values.

Sorry, I should have been clearer - reciprocity systems and the teams that come out of them aren't communalist was what I meant to say. Then again, they aren't "individualist" in many of the common understandings of that term.

I certainly agree that the military has to adapt to current social forms although, in some ways, it is doing a better job of it than many companies.

Marc

Tom Odom
10-24-2007, 05:49 PM
Tom, "Sexy 60"??????

Marc

I'll send you a card :eek:

marct
10-24-2007, 05:49 PM
If you're trying to speak to Marc in Canadian, it should be "What, eh?" (The syntax can be confusing).

Bah. Tories.


LOLOL! As an old time Tory from a long family of Tories (okay, we've had more than the occasional CCF / NDPer in there but I try not to talk about them :o), all I can say is... :p.

Although I do rather enjoy the irony of debating the post-industrial/information age return to individualism as we chat on our highly communal, information age Small Wars Council website.....

Well, it's not as communal as kicking back with a beer after work, no?

Reciprocity, Rex!!!!!!! Works for beers, too, Tequila :eek:. You guys are still stuck in that Right (Individualist) - Left (Communalist) dichotomy :D.

marct
10-24-2007, 05:51 PM
I'll send you a card :eek:

What, no party invite - with Rex providing free beer?!?! (I was sure I heard Stan say something about that!!!!)

Schmedlap
10-24-2007, 06:03 PM
I think you make some very good points, but is it right to be critical of portions of our nation when we have deviated so far from our historical norm?
I'm not sure why the point about historical norms is significant to what I addressed.

My opinion is that many Americans have rejected our civil society, but have exploited the benefits of that society to exert disproportionate influence over debates concerning our national interests. I think that I am right to view this situation as a bad thing, regardless of the historical norms in question. Public debate should not be dominated by citizens who reject the civil society whose interests are at stake.

Just for clarification: this is not to assert that those who oppose our efforts in Iraq are, by definition, anti- or un-American. It is simply my observation that the people who are the most vocal, active, and energetic opponents of the war, who are driving the information campaign to prematurely end operations in Iraq, are doing so because they actively reject our society and they are offended by the application of our national power.

wm
10-24-2007, 06:14 PM
You guys are still stuck in that Right (Individualist) - Left (Communalist) dichotomy :D.

Marc,
You know what they say. There are two kinds of people--those who divide everything into two options and . . .

Schmedlap
10-24-2007, 07:02 PM
I suggest the bonuses are indeed a response to societal changes -- the metrosexualization slash liberalization and the increasing emphasis individualism for just two impactors -- but those are responses to address the societal impacts, not drivers of the size and structure.

I'd also suggest that junior officer retention invariably decreases with a volunteer force in any wartime scenario; the wives don't like it and the more sensitive of said J.O find out that war is brutal and not just an academic exercise, they are turned off at the waste and trauma (as is most everyone; some just tolerate it better than others).
I'm an Infantry Captain who is passing up the $35,000 retention bonus without hesitation and who has spent a fair amount of time discussing the rationale behind this new bonus. Discussions have been nearly unanimous: whomever came up with this half-baked idea is completely out of touch with the values, interests, and general morale of the Captains, if not all other ranks as well.

My peers and I always seem to come back to the same set of issues for why we want to either take a break from the Army or leave it forever (most of us are undecided between these two alternatives, but steadfast in our decisions to leave for now):
1. The career of an Army officer is 1/4 command time and 3/4 staff time - and most staff work is mindless, meaningless work that could be done by people with far less training and physical prowess.
2. Most of us have social lives for one weekend, in every fourth month of even-numbered years - and/or recently divorced. The rest of the time, we're in the field, in Iraq, or pulling an all-nighter at work. If the two-month double rotation at NTC were really as worthwhile as the OC's claim it to be, then maybe this would be seen as more than just an unnecessary wet blanket on our non-existent social lives.
3. There is little to no merit involved in personnel moves. A Brigade's command queue is not based upon merit. It is based upon year group and date of arrival at the duty station (some BDE's might vary). There is tremendous frustration among Captains waiting for a command and seeing a known dud take a company simply because it's his turn when everybody, to include his rater and senior rater, openly admit that he is a dud... but it's his turn!

While #2 above may sound like it violates the value of selfless service, the frustration is not due simply to the lack of social lives, but the reason behind it. If we were leading platoons or commanding companies for years on end, then the absence of a social life is understandable and a cost that I think all of us would bear without hesitation. If we are sacrificing our social lives to put together a 90-slide presentation on how we're going to conduct next month's gunnery density (because it changes so much!) then that is where the anger sets in.

marct
10-24-2007, 07:57 PM
Hi Scmedlap,

While #2 above may sound like it violates the value of selfless service, the frustration is not due simply to the lack of social lives, but the reason behind it. If we were leading platoons or commanding companies for years on end, then the absence of a social life is understandable and a cost that I think all of us would bear without hesitation. If we are sacrificing our social lives to put together a 90-slide presentation on how we're going to conduct next month's gunnery density (because it changes so much!) then that is where the anger sets in.

Thanks for this - it's one of the best descriptions I've heard of the reasons for leaving! I hope you won't take it amiss, but your reactions are the quintessence of Gen Y's views on meaning. Sort of a generic, "if it's got to be done, do it, do it well, and don't complain.. If it's drek, then say so and don't bother with it."

What, in your opinion and coming out of your bull sessions, would get you and your compadres to say "Yeah, this is worth re-upping"?

Marc

Ken White
10-24-2007, 08:06 PM
By the way, I may have in another lifetime known your Father or maybe Uncle; first name Smedley? Come to to think of it, though, he may have been 'Schmerdlap' with an 'r.' :D

I agree the bonuses are a bad idea. I agree that whoever came up with the idea (probably the same guy who came up with $80K to leave the Army in 1994 applied to sharp CPT and MAJ) is an idiot.

I agree that most of what you say applies to other ranks as well. more so than the Army seems to realize... :(

I agree on the 1/4 command time versus inane staff jobs and having been forced into several of those due to age and civilian status late in life for about 12 straight years in a HQ echelons above reality I have horror stories out the wazoo about aimless unnecessary work...

I really agree with and understand your last paragraph and it truly and seriously pains me to say that the problem went for all the 45 years I was in or working for the Army and it is obvious that it still occurs twelve years later.

That is a huge lick on the Generals.

They are going to face a grass roots rebellion fairly soon and they do not seem to either realize it or be very concerned about it. SAD. :mad:

Ken White
10-24-2007, 11:14 PM
I'll take the bait.

First off. If you walked into the lines of any Combat Arms unit in the English-speaking world, and asked for a show of hands of who was right-wing, most of the hands would go up; when you asked who was left wing, maybe a few defiant, or embarrassed individuals might raise their hands, to the (at best) the jeering of all the rest or (just as likely) the general annoyance of said. In general, I doubt that you would be able to find very many individuals, especially inside the Combat Arms, who would admit to be "left-wing". Even outside the Combat Arms, the troops tend to be right-wing in their views.

My suspicion based on my sons units in the last few years is that you are correct. I think in the US the percentage of more liberal types may be slightly larger in the ranks but not much so. Interesting corollary from this old guy is that in my day, politics and such were just not discussed at all. Times change...

The Officer Corps, even though they are perhaps more likely (I suspect) to have individuals of leftist persuasion in their midst, not only tend to be rightist in their persuasions, but over the last generation or so a discernible "hardening" into right-wing tendencies has visibly occurred. My sensing is that is also true though i suspect that if one asked the Officers for a party preference it would fall out pretty much in accord with civil society norms; to wit, a third each Democratic, Republican and Independent.

Your second paragraph is totally correct in my observation. As is the third.

Fourth... Thus, the Military attracts, and is seen to be attractive to, those of the Right, and repellant to, those of the Left.

Too true. As is your fifth, I think.

marc is correct about his suspicions with regard to existing social conditions and individual identity. But given the fact that social scientists aren't exactly beating down the Military's doors to get in and do serious, open-minded research and study on the matter, there's not a lot of serious, objective, documented proof on this. Just the testimony of those who are or have been in, the Military.

I think that the Composition, much more so than the Size and Structure, of the military is most affected by this; but is has a lesser, though real impact on the latter matters.

I'd also suggest that some degree of that polarization has always been there, certainly was in my day. It is slightly greater today and we're just much more vocal about it now. More vocal about everything, in fact... :)

Norfolk
10-25-2007, 03:17 AM
Smedley

I agree the bonuses are a bad idea.

I agree that most of what you say applies to other ranks as well. more so than the Army seems to realize... :(

I agree on the 1/4 command time versus inane staff jobs and having been forced into several of those due to age and civilian status late in life for about 12 straight years in a HQ echelons above reality I have horror stories out the wazoo about aimless unnecessary work...

I really agree with and understand your last paragraph and it truly and seriously pains me to say that the problem went for all the 45 years I was in or working for the Army and it is obvious that it still occurs twelve years later.

That is a huge lick on the Generals.

They are going to face a grass roots rebellion fairly soon and they do not seem to either realize it or be very concerned about it. SAD. :mad:

Let the Reaction Begin!

(You didn't expect someone so far out on the Right that he considers Conservatism to be a concession to Modernism and that Genghis Khan doesn't even make his B-List to call for a Revolution, did you?)

marct
10-25-2007, 04:10 PM
Fight to a Finish

The boys came back. Bands played and flags were flying,
And Yellow-Pressmen thronged the sunlit street
To cheer the soldiers who’d refrained from dying,
And hear the music of returning feet.
‘Of all the thrills and ardours War has brought,
This moment is the finest.’ (So they thought.)

Snapping their bayonets on to charge the mob,
Grim Fusiliers broke ranks with glint of steel,
At last the boys had found a cushy job.

. . . .
I heard the Yellow-Pressmen grunt and squeal;
And with my trusty bombers turned and went
To clear those Junkers out of Parliament.

Siegfried Sassoon

Norfolk
10-25-2007, 04:15 PM
Oh marc, now I've got this warm, fuzzy feeling all over.:D

Schmedlap
11-04-2007, 10:58 PM
What, in your opinion and coming out of your bull sessions, would get you and your compadres to say "Yeah, this is worth re-upping"?
Correct numbers 1 and 3 from the list. That will render number 2 irrelevant. I think that most of us would trade a pay CUT for 1 and 3 being remedied.

Adrian
11-05-2007, 01:37 AM
I'll take the bait.

First off. If you walked into the lines of any Combat Arms unit in the English-speaking world, and asked for a show of hands of who was right-wing, most of the hands would go up; when you asked who was left wing, maybe a few defiant, or embarrassed individuals might raise their hands, to the (at best) the jeering of all the rest or (just as likely) the general annoyance of said. In general, I doubt that you would be able to find very many individuals, especially inside the Combat Arms, who would admit to be "left-wing". Even outside the Combat Arms, the troops tend to be right-wing in their views.
The Officer Corps, even though they are perhaps more likely (I suspect) to have individuals of leftist persuasion in their midst, not only tend to be rightist in their persuasions, but over the last generation or so a discernible "hardening" into right-wing tendencies has visibly occurred.


Great post. Reminded me of an article in Democracy Journal: "The Progressive Case for Military Service" by Kathryn Roth-Douquet:

http://democracyjournal.com/printfriendly.php?ID=6566

There are two fundamental reasons for the present rift between progressives and the military. First is the emergence, during the twentieth century, of a rights-based philosophy on both the Left and the Right that sees government as a counterpoint and even a threat to the individual. Second is the Left’s re-action against the military after Vietnam, a reaction that was itself rooted in rights consciousness and, over time, solidified into a presumption that military values, and the members of the military themselves, are antithetical to progressive values.

...

If progressives should feel bound by their principles to serve, they must also learn to reassess today’s military and its mission. Although the war in Iraq dominates the headlines, today’s military is less about fighting wars and increasingly about deterring them, enforcing international protocols, peacekeeping, nation- building, democracy promotion, and a wide variety of activities, precisely the tasks that a hypothetical " progressive military" would undertake.

marct
11-05-2007, 04:04 PM
Hi Schmedlap,

Correct numbers 1 and 3 from the list. That will render number 2 irrelevant. I think that most of us would trade a pay CUT for 1 and 3 being remedied.

1. The career of an Army officer is 1/4 command time and 3/4 staff time - and most staff work is mindless, meaningless work that could be done by people with far less training and physical prowess.

2. Most of us have social lives for one weekend, in every fourth month of even-numbered years - and/or recently divorced. The rest of the time, we're in the field, in Iraq, or pulling an all-nighter at work. If the two-month double rotation at NTC were really as worthwhile as the OC's claim it to be, then maybe this would be seen as more than just an unnecessary wet blanket on our non-existent social lives.

3. There is little to no merit involved in personnel moves. A Brigade's command queue is not based upon merit. It is based upon year group and date of arrival at the duty station (some BDE's might vary). There is tremendous frustration among Captains waiting for a command and seeing a known dud take a company simply because it's his turn when everybody, to include his rater and senior rater, openly admit that he is a dud... but it's his turn!

It sounds to me, being an academic with an absolute bias towards seeing meaning structures everywhere ;), that you are saying that sacrifice is worth it if it ain't frittered away in a) makework and b) is recognized and rewarded. Is that a pretty fair summation?

Marc

Schmedlap
11-10-2007, 09:26 PM
It sounds to me, being an academic with an absolute bias towards seeing meaning structures everywhere ;), that you are saying that sacrifice is worth it if it ain't frittered away in a) makework and b) is recognized and rewarded. Is that a pretty fair summation?
I'd say that (a) is correct. In my opinion, recognition and reward (aside from service being its own reward) are, and should be, irrelevant. I don't know anyone whom I would call a peer who is in the Army for the money, medals, or even the high regard in which our society holds military service.

marct
03-11-2008, 07:00 PM
From MEMRI
In a message posted March 2, 2008 on the Islamist forum Al-Ikhlas (hosted by Piradius.net in Malaysia), a member calling himself "abumuslim22" urged his fellow forum members to engage in "media jihad," and provided advice and safety tips.

More... (http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD186708)

Much more at the link.

Bill Moore
01-06-2010, 09:45 AM
http://abcnews.go.com/International/northwest-flight-253-terrorist-attempt-online-extremists-discussed-blowing-planes/story?id=9471721&page=1

A private Israeli intelligence company told ABC News Monday there was a surge of online discussions in extremist Islamic forums about blowing up planes three weeks before Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to bring down Northwest Flight 253. The discussions recommended using "improvised detonation chain" devices, exactly like the one used onboard the Detroit-bound flight.

"These discussions were about the exact same technique used on the Detroit flight," he said. "There were very detailed instructions on how many grams of chemicals to use, so as to avoid detection. They also talked in great detail about what liquids should be used."

More at the article, but the take away for this post is this article IMO clearly illustrates how the internet has changed the character of this war by enabling any extremist community of interest (local or global) to collaborate and collude (to facilitate rapid learning and operational planning), which in turns rapidly increases their proficiency (forcing us to the same), thus the speed of co-evolution (cat and mouse) increases. Also known as the Red Queen Effect.

At the same time he claims there have also been terrifying online exchanges about using aerosols filled with biological agents to attack planes.

"These are not kids talking about using biological agents to attack planes. These are two very sophisticated participants who are experts in chemical and biological agents."

Again, more detail in the article. The author also notes that the extremists basically swarm to these internet sites after an attack, or attempted attack, to discuss ways to do better next time (post operation self critique).

The implications identified in this article should be enough to wake most up to some rather frightening implications of what the future holds for us. Are we prepared to operate effectively in this environment?

marct
01-06-2010, 03:35 PM
Hi Bill,

The implications identified in this article should be enough to wake most up to some rather frightening implications of what the future holds for us. Are we prepared to operate effectively in this environment?

The extremely short answer is "no, but...". Strangely enough, this process has been going on for about 25 years now using the 'net, and even longer in other areas (I've done a fair bit of work on how it impacted HR). The kludges that developed in the HR area are also being replicated in the military / security area, which just goes to show that Darwin was right :D!

Okay, let me pull this apart a bit. There are two central "problems" that are driving this phenomenon at the structural level. The first is that many necessary resources have been "locked" in "hard" organizational structures (classic, centralized and bureaucratic organizations). This "locking", however, has also allowed for an increasing split intra-organizationally between those parts of the organization that monitor the environment and those that "produce" the organizations "product". Increasingly, there is a divergence between the interests of these organizational sub-sections (cf Nuala Beck's Shifting Gears (http://www.amazon.com/Shifting-Gears-Thriving-New-Economy/dp/0006384803/ref=sr_1_24?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262791244&sr=8-24)). So, in order for people to access the resources they actually need (vs. what they are told they need), they go increasingly outside of the formal system.

In the case of HR, this would mean that people looking for jobs would avoid the HR hiring process and people looking to hire would frequently do the same (using personal referral networks, setting up "pirate" hiring boards, etc.). In this case, the resources are being accessed via these "pirate" discussion boards which, in many ways, are analogous to the SWC ;).

I said there were two central "problems", and this brings us to the second one, which is how do you communicate with people who have the resources (knowledge, information, etc.) that you need? One of the ideas behind the establishment of centralized bureaucratic organizations was to create a formal communications structure: a common language (e.g. doctrine, etc.), expectations of who should "know" something (the concept of an office vs. a person), and methodologies for communications (e.g. procedures, memos, etc.). When this communications structure becomes less than needed to meet the immediately important environments of those effected by it, people will start to go outside of it; which is what the irhabi crowd is doing and, also, what the SWC crowd is doing.

So, when you ask "Are we prepared to operate effectively in this environment?" and I said "no, but...", what I was getting at was that it is actually impossible for an organization with relatively poor communications structures to compete with one that has much better information structures. Now, here's where the "but..." comes in....

In order to effectively compete, you have to formalize the organizational use of those communications structures that are outside of the organization. This means that the organization has to give up some of its core tenets, such as centralized control over the "message" and the forms of communications. This is already happening with the US forces to some degree, and that is a change that I am really happy to see.

There are, actually, some organizational changes that could be made as well but those, as the saying goes, are "beyond the scope of this paper" :D.

Cheers,

Marc

davidbfpo
01-06-2010, 11:26 PM
Bill,

I too read this news report and wondered why the Israeli company Terrogence went public - as it appeared to be "bolting the door after the horse bolted". The story says:...the threats were serious and sent a warning to his company's clients worldwide which include in his words, "Western governmental agencies.

Some Israeli analysis has been way off, like OBL was moving to Iraq and I wander what sort of company this is. In this field do you really want to give away anything, unless it is self-promotion? A quick Google search gave no clues on this company.

Bill Moore
01-07-2010, 05:28 AM
I too read this news report and wondered why the Israeli company Terrogence went public

David, I always wonder the same, but giving them the benefit of the doubt they could simply be providing a public service by going public because they lost faith in our bureaucracy to act on this information.

As for some wacko Israeli analysis, you always have to be aware (especially from Israel's right) of their attempt to disguise analysis with an attempt to influence. I'm confident they're not the only ones (seems like the UK did something similar once or twice :D). Debka.com is a good example, they have a lot of good information blended with an occassional doze of disinformation.

Not sure what anyone would have to gain personally by leaking this, so I'm not as suspect about this particular post. This isn't classified information, it is a company that does open source research.

Marc, I'm still thinking about your post, but definitely an interesting response. Bill

Bill Moore
01-07-2010, 05:46 AM
http://www.terrogence.com/home.html

Terrogence Ltd. specializes in collection, analysis and assessment of Middle-Eastern and Jihadi related intelligence. These include, among others, evaluation of relevant global terror threats, up-to-date reviews of political-military affairs in Iran and the Persian Gulf, worldwide Jihadi and Palestinian terror groups as well as public opinion at large in the Muslim world.

http://www.nationalterroralert.com/updates/tag/terrogence/

ABC News reports details on an Israeli intelligence company that monitored jihadist web discussions about plane bombing tactics weeks before the Detroit attack.

Most of the analysts at Terrogence are former Israeli intelligence operatives. From a converted chicken coop in a village in central Israel they monitor Islamic internet sites devoted to global jihad and terrorism. Their mission is to identify new and credible threats against western targets.

According to Terrogence founder Gadi Aviran the online discussion ran to 25 pages and continued until a critical posting in late November by a known extremist with a proven track record in explosives. This individual has been monitored for several years and is widely respected by participants in the forums. His posting in Arabic read:

“You can ignite a detonator using a medical capsule and put concentrated sulphuric acid into it, and then put it over the explosive materials.”

They believe the “medical capsule” mentioned in the post could easily refer to a syringe as used in the attack on North West Flight 253.

http://www.globaldashboard.org/2008/08/12/counter-jihad-20/

But can you be sure that your net-brother – Mohammed007 – is who he says he is? Is he really a Salafist preacher, once a fatherless 18 year-old car-thief, but now radicalised by a six-month stint in Wormwood Scrubs and ready to preach anti-Western Jihad? He might be.

But he might also be a 25-year old Arab-speaking intelligence analyst, working for Israel’s Terrogence, a private company founded by ex-spies to take Jihadists on in cyberspace. Its experts, most of them ex-members of Israeli intelligence, have created radical Muslim identities to talk their way into hundreds of closely guarded global jihad websites and forums.

Remember when Tony Blair had to cancel a trip to Gaza? That was because of a tip from Terrogence, who picked up chatter, and passed the information on. What about the thwarted attack on the Vatican’s computer system. Terrogence discovered a plot to attack the Holy See’s network and helped the authorities take evasive action. When a Jihadi activist watched a National Geographic documentary and got the idea of blasting the wall between the Paris sewage system and the Metro, Terrogence analysts were on hand to pick up his idea and prevent the Paris underground from being flooded.

Bill Moore
01-09-2010, 06:10 PM
Marc, I really enjoyed this post. We have so much talent in the free world that is stifled by government bureaucracy when we attempt to pull it into the defense establishment, not exactly a "locked" bureaucracy, but one that adapts too slowly in a time of rapid change. Our bureaucracy acts like a restriction plate in a race car that effectively limits its top speed.

The talent we need to deal with today's non-traditional/irregular threats (maybe they are traditional/regular by this point, and we're simply living in the past) lies largely in the civilian world in small companies and within talented individuals (not the large defense companies, which are as bureaucratic as the military). The challenge is to incorporate this talent without destroying the talent.

Posted by Marc,

Hi Bill,


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
The implications identified in this article should be enough to wake most up to some rather frightening implications of what the future holds for us. Are we prepared to operate effectively in this environment?

The extremely short answer is "no,

We are improving, but the speed of our evolution is restrained by the bureaucracy, while our more nimble foes can adapt much more quickly. It would be a different story if the deciding factor was who could develop the best fighter jet or stealth bomber. It doesn't take a lot of money to compete with us in the infosphere (blogs, twitter, other social networking sites, publically available encryption systems for e-mail, etc.). So how do we does a large, locked in bureaucracy compete and dominate in this sphere?

There are two central "problems" that are driving this phenomenon at the structural level. The first is that many necessary resources have been "locked" in "hard" organizational structures (classic, centralized and bureaucratic organizations). This "locking", however, has also allowed for an increasing split intra-organizationally between those parts of the organization that monitor the environment and those that "produce" the organizations "product". Increasingly, there is a divergence between the interests of these organizational sub-sections (cf Nuala Beck's Shifting Gears). So, in order for people to access the resources they actually need (vs. what they are told they need), they go increasingly outside of the formal system.

Many of us frequently reach outside the big machine for needed expertise, and SWJ is one example. Other examples are small companies forming like Terrogence Ltd. and Palantir that are agile enough to stay competitive with the threat (if they're left in the free market/open market system. Of course the challenge is getting money from the bureaucracy to fund this talent (relatively small in the big picture). You submit your requirement up through a long chain of approvers, many who don't understand your requirements, and are liable to kill the request before it sees the light of day (death in the middle). Yet you hear our leaders tell us we need to adapt. Much easier said than done.

I said there were two central "problems", and this brings us to the second one, which is how do you communicate with people who have the resources (knowledge, information, etc.) that you need? One of the ideas behind the establishment of centralized bureaucratic organizations was to create a formal communications structure: a common language (e.g. doctrine, etc.), expectations of who should "know" something (the concept of an office vs. a person), and methodologies for communications (e.g. procedures, memos, etc.). When this communications structure becomes less than needed to meet the immediately important environments of those effected by it, people will start to go outside of it; which is what the irhabi crowd is doing and, also, what the SWC crowd is doing.

Exactly, but we can only share ideas outside the structure, getting the funding is another issue.

I said "no, but...", what I was getting at was that it is actually impossible for an organization with relatively poor communications structures to compete with one that has much better information structures. Now, here's where the "but..." comes in....

In order to effectively compete, you have to formalize the organizational use of those communications structures that are outside of the organization. This means that the organization has to give up some of its core tenets, such as centralized control over the "message" and the forms of communications.

On the messaging part I agree, and I see a trend towards decentralization, but that isn't the only issue. We need to restructure the staff, restructure the funding approval process, restructure the fighting force, etc., and we need to be able to do it quickly. More later.

jmm99
01-09-2010, 10:09 PM
Sam Liles (aka Selil (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/member.php?u=468)) has been beating the drum for a long time on the incapability of large bureaucracies (military and civilian; government and private) to meet the varied challenges of "Cyberfare". Check out his webpage (http://selil.com/).

His 2007 predictions (http://selil.com/?p=1614#more-1614) make him a spectacular hitter and lousy fielder (in baseball terms). :)

This cheerful note for the future:

Security will be exactly where it started. Since the 1970s we haven’t moved very far forward and I really doubt we are going anywhere fast. Ok, I cheated. This has been true for nearly 40 years so can I really go wrong?

Regards

Mike

marct
01-10-2010, 04:25 PM
Hi Bill,

Marc, I really enjoyed this post. We have so much talent in the free world that is stifled by government bureaucracy when we attempt to pull it into the defense establishment, not exactly a "locked" bureaucracy, but one that adapts too slowly in a time of rapid change. Our bureaucracy acts like a restriction plate in a race car that effectively limits its top speed.

Thanks :). It's one of those Catch-22 situations unfortunately; the bureaucracy slows us down, often to the point of immobility, but, at the same time, it is absolutely necessary to have a bureaucracy (I won't go into the reasons why right now; I'm just coming off of a long discussion about bureaucratic stupidity in the hiring process :wry:).

The talent we need to deal with today's non-traditional/irregular threats (maybe they are traditional/regular by this point, and we're simply living in the past) lies largely in the civilian world in small companies and within talented individuals (not the large defense companies, which are as bureaucratic as the military). The challenge is to incorporate this talent without destroying the talent.

The basic kludge to meet that need is to hire "consultants". The problem with that lies in both the hiring process, which is extremely problematic in most governments, and in what, exactly, consultants are supposed to do.


We are improving, but the speed of our evolution is restrained by the bureaucracy, while our more nimble foes can adapt much more quickly. It would be a different story if the deciding factor was who could develop the best fighter jet or stealth bomber. It doesn't take a lot of money to compete with us in the infosphere (blogs, twitter, other social networking sites, publically available encryption systems for e-mail, etc.). So how do we does a large, locked in bureaucracy compete and dominate in this sphere?

It can only do it in one of two ways (okay, these are they only two I see off the top of my head, but there probably are others...).

First, it attempts to annihilate its opponents and impose a Stalinesque reach and control that, ultimately, destroys it; the USSR, the ewestern Roman Empire of Theodosius, and the Byzantine Empire are historical examples of both. It ultimately fails since it can only react to the internally generated image of reality that it portrays (I can think of some corporate examples as well...).

Second, it can cheat and institutionalize elements that oppose its basic values of standardization and mediocrity. SF is one example of this type of thinking, but there are others. Personally, I think that what DoD should be thinking about is identifying individuals who think outside the box and are involved in the current counter-irhabi efforts, and put them on small retainers.


Many of us frequently reach outside the big machine for needed expertise, and SWJ is one example. Other examples are small companies forming like Terrogence Ltd. and Palantir that are agile enough to stay competitive with the threat (if they're left in the free market/open market system. Of course the challenge is getting money from the bureaucracy to fund this talent (relatively small in the big picture). You submit your requirement up through a long chain of approvers, many who don't understand your requirements, and are liable to kill the request before it sees the light of day (death in the middle). Yet you hear our leaders tell us we need to adapt. Much easier said than done.

Oh too true! Seriously, a lot of it does come down to funding especially since most of the people with this talent just do not want to work for a bureaucracy, and why many of them are either self-employed or work in tiny organizations. That was why I thought of the "retainer" solution as one possible alternative. Without some type of funding, then you are reliant on volunteer time which can be a problem...

On the messaging part I agree, and I see a trend towards decentralization, but that isn't the only issue. We need to restructure the staff, restructure the funding approval process, restructure the fighting force, etc., and we need to be able to do it quickly. More later.

Looking forward to it!

Cheers,

Marc

davidbfpo
01-22-2011, 08:05 PM
I think this fits here. From ICSR a short commentary:http://icsr.info/blog/Chasing-Web-Jihadists#comments