View Full Version : America's Most Dangerous Enemy

Fabius Maximus
03-04-2006, 06:54 PM
Threat identification and prioritization is critical for many reasons, such as
1. to properly deploy limited military and intelligence resources.
2. to develop doctrines suited for the next conflict
3. so diplomatic and economic policies work to build allies and isolate probably enemies.
4. to mobilize popular support for the Government’s actions.

Who do you consider as America’s Most Dangerous Enemy?

I, Fabius Maximus, say a few words (3,000) on this in Chapter Four of my series on Grand Strategy. As usual, my answer is not what you expect. What do you think of this analysis?


Links to the previous Chapters appear at the end.

03-05-2006, 12:14 AM
Threat Definition? Hmmm…

Billions of people, a rapidly growing economy that will inevitably replace America in both economic and geo-political importance. One of our largest creditors, its technological theft and unfair trade practices are destroying America’s industry. A military confrontation over Taiwan is inevitable in the near future.
Unduly alarmist. Nothing is “inevitable. China’s technological theft and unfair trade practices are certainly serious issues and do cause a degree of economic harm, but can hardly be construed as “destroying American industry”. Regarding Taiwan, a military confrontation between the US and China is a definite possibility in the future, but unlikely in the near term – yet again, to use the term “inevitable” is unacceptable in a real analytic product.

This mutant version of Islam combines traditional Islam, nostalgia for a long-gone age of Muslim supremacy, and Fascism. Motivated by hatred of western culture, if not stopped it will control not only the vital Middle East oil producers, but also important States such as Pakistan and Indonesia. Large minority populations of Moslems will destabilize other States (e.g., India and the EU). Even small Moslem enclaves, such as those in the US, can act as fifth columns.
Personally, I dislike the term “Islamofascism” because it smacks more of politicized sound-bites than reasoned analysis and true threat identification. This statement is vague and broad-brushed to the point of being absolutely useless in defining the threat.

However, as the article moves along, it seems like these two alarmist paragraphs were purposefully written in this manner to lend justification for what is really an op-ed – not analysis – on US paranoia, hubris, etc…

The last bit regarding Islam is grossly oversimplified and virtually meaningless. The close is similarly so. It is just so much pseudo-intellectual blather leading to a marketing of the next article.

What is needed in “threat identification” is a true threat assessment, one based on real analysis, not completely false ideas of the threat that happen to be populist fancy, poorly informed and emotional public opinion, or the catering of high-level politicians to various interest groups.

Take a look at the paper that SWJED posted in another thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=471) over a month ago. The author in that case took a good look at what occurs when a threat is “identified” in the absence of any truly professional and disciplined threat assessment.

But more than simple threat identification, the article linked at the top of this thread seems to be a critique of the national-level decision/policy-making process. Although this damn sure has a significant impact upon threat identification, it is a separate issue entirely. A detailed study of interaction between national-level policy-makers and the threat analytic process since 9/11 (similar to the WWI/WWII studies in that outstanding volume Knowing One’s Enemies) would make for a fascinating read.

Fabius Maximus
03-05-2006, 03:10 AM
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!

As you correctly noted, the first section was a bit of humor -- obviously grossly overdrawn -- to set up the actual thrust of the article.

After reading your comment, I remain unclear in what respect is this analysis incorrect? Paranoia and hubris are in fact great dangers to the development of a grand strategy. Specific examples were given, and placed in a historical context.

By the way, as noted in the article, this did not discuss actual threats -- that comes in the next article. This discussed the importance of clear "observation and orientation" (to use John Boyd's terms).

So I am a bit puzzled at your comment "completely false ideas of the threat that happen to be populist fancy, poorly informed and emotional public opinion, or the catering of high-level politicians to various interest groups"

Perhaps you were still locked into focus on the parodies at the beginning?

I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read this article, and look forward to your comments.

03-06-2006, 04:34 PM
If we're picking mental states (properly held by individuals and not nations), then why not ignorance? Hubris comes from a misplaced understanding of American military strength - paranoia from a misplaced understanding of the intentions and capabilities of other nations. The litany of American military action abroad (and sadly, also at home) in the 21st century seems to be based entirely around swift triumphs and confused retreats - security forces too ignorant to see the buildup of al Qaeda to 9/11, an intelligence apparatus unable to pin down the location of senior AQ leaders, and again unable to pin down the exact status of Ba'ath run Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs, a military machine sublimely unaware of the building insurgency against them and even less aware of how to conduct itself against an enemy that refuses to commit to fire and maneuver warfare, etc.

03-06-2006, 06:09 PM
Wait :confused: ... We supported "islamofascists" in the past. Was the blowback anticipated; could they be our cats paw? Do they give us exoteric reason to dominate the geopolitical region in Afgahnistan(pipeline) and Iraq(IE undercut China's oil interests)? Could some of it have been done to counter China's economic ascention at the time of peak oil?


Are we benefiting from a Macedonian pipeline(caspian oil) after the Bosnia/Kosovo war?

03-07-2006, 12:37 AM
Well as Buffalo Springfield said “Paranoia strikes deep Into your life it will creep”.

Man’s quest for self-preservation often leads to self-destruction. Paranoia is the biggest threat since it makes use enemies of ourselves.

03-07-2006, 11:59 AM
I'm amazed that no one appears to perceive the ever-growing threat of Mexico and Latin America. News Flash - we get more oil from Mexico than from the Middle East. Are millions of illegal aliens not a significant threat? Are Guatemalan and El Salvadoran "super-gangs" such as MS-13 not a "clear and present danger?" Are border incursions by the Mexican military in support of drug cartels not worthy of our concern? How about Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez? If you added up all the rapes, attempted murders, and murders committed by illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America in the US in 2001, and compared it with the 2900 killed on Sept 11th, which number would be greater?

Second News Flash - Foreign Fighters in Iraq come across pourous borders - sound familiar?

03-07-2006, 01:40 PM
I voted internal because I believe that the threats are more dynamic, but their thriving and their hinderance stems from how our society look and work. Our society as a whole, that is including military, social, etc etc.


03-07-2006, 06:05 PM
I had to go with internal. But, I think a close second or equal is one that nobody else voted for - decline of the state. I think that is the core of 4GW theory - Islamic Fanatics are just one of many such groups that recognize an authority other than the state.

Bill Moore
03-08-2006, 07:11 AM
I had to go with internal. But, I think a close second or equal is one that nobody else voted for - decline of the state. I think that is the core of 4GW theory - Islamic Fanatics are just one of many such groups that recognize an authority other than the state.

1. China is a global economic competitor, but they won't be sending their Marines over our beaches to take Hollywood anytime soon. The Taiwan issue will remain touchy, but even in the unlikely event they take it by force, that is hardly a threat to us. Personally I think Taiwan will fall from the inside in time.

2. Latin America presents a number of challenges, but MS 13 and the drug cartels are not going to take over our country. We simply need to take the gloves off with certain groups that threaten our people and put them down hard. As for the political actors, we're reaping what we have sewn over the past few decades. Anti-Americanism shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who is the least bit familiar with our history in the region. We need to have the government take a step back, and let our business men take the lead in engaging Latin America; to include Cuba. I think opening a few American businesses in Cuba will do more to under Castro in the short term than our sanctions ever will. A semi-capitalist Cuba, even with Casto in charge will take the wind out of several of the reemerging left wing political parties throughout South America. When will the American people dictate our foreign policy for Latin American? Right now it is highjacked by a few extreme right wing Cuban thugs in Florida. This should be unacceptable to the American people.

3. Russia, much like N. Korea, bears watching and shaping. Both are dangerous criminal enterprises that export all types of evil ranging from drugs to weapons to WMD?

4. The EU? Come on, CA's economy alone is larger than that of the EU's combined. Additionally, the EU has having plenty of problems making the union work. If it survives the next five years, then it may be a economic threat, but not one we can't manage with good leadership. In the realm of security they are an ally, not a threat.

5. Global anarchy is a real threat to much of the world, and while it doesn't threaten us a Nation, it definitely threaten's our interests. One could argue we could have used the money we spent on Iraq addressing this problem and achieved more national security wise by adequately funding the State Department to more effectively address these issues before they get out of hand. In many cases it is too late, such as in Sudan and Chad. While it may not matter immediately if either of those countries fail, the conflict will spread to areas that we or our friends have economic interests in.

6. Islamists are a threat, and one that won't go away until the Israel and Palestine issue is resolved. OIF has only made the problem worse, but still we won't be overrun by Islamists. We'll be infiltrated, we'll be hit again and again in our own country over time, but it won't be a storm we can't weather.

7. America is more than a geographical boundry, it is a set of ideas and laws imbeded in our constitution. Our greatest threat to this nation would be for us to compromise our own constitution. This is a much greater risk than a few clowns crashing civilian airlines into some buildings, regardless of how tragic that may be. Second, we need to look at the fabric of our people and wonder where we'll be two generations from now. When I see the following I have serious concerns:

A. Obesity crisis, especially in our youth. Demonstates weakness of mind and body.
B. Academic standards almost non-existent in many schools.
C. Computer games, pro sports, MTV, and other mind numbing activities have become the main form of recreation for kids and many adults. Kids in Lebanon know more about the world than many of our adults.
D. We keep lowering standards to meet recruiting numbers for our Armed Forces.
E. We lowered national taxes during a War, which means America as a whole isn't fighting this war, just the military. In the meantime our national debt is sky rocketing.
F. Beltway bandits drive DoD policy

The list goes on and on, and this list worries me a lot more than the AQ and Chinese.