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Charles Martel
01-03-2010, 03:02 PM
Sure seems like it when we close our Embassy in Yemen and announce that it was due to fears of AQ retaliation for our support of the Yemeni government (http://tinyurl.com/y9mhuxb).

Strategic Communication is the intersection of our actions and our messages, and this action cannot send a more clear message to our adversaries -- although we, our allies, and civilized people across the world are pounding you at every turn, your threats will make us cower inside our outposts in the countries that need our support the most.

I know the counterargument -- DoS aren't Soldiers and are not sent there to be attacked -- but aren't they there to represent the US and doesn't retreating within our ramparts give AQ the psychological advantage over us? We need, among other things, to reassure our valiant allies that we will stand with them throughout the fight. Do we do that when we close our doors? Did YM close down in response to the many threats and actual attacks they have experienced?

Sometimes, the More You Protect Your Force, the Less Secure You May Be

marct
01-03-2010, 03:26 PM
Okay, that is scary! One key message it sends is that "we will stand right behind our allies - out of the line of fire"! It is a very scary message to the rest of us who are watching the US. It also says "When the going gets tough, the tough get going... back to DC". Not the type of message that reassures the rest of the world about your intentions.

This is, however, a fairly consistent theme for the past 30 years or so, where the people who work for State and various and sundry other countries' Foreign Affairs departments, appear to value themselves more than the countries they are ostensibly serving and representing. It says a lot about how the defence of the country has been abrogated by the self-proclaimed elites of the country.

MikeF
01-03-2010, 04:00 PM
I'll tuck this article into this thread. Seems fitting.


5 myths about keeping America safe from terrorism (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/31/AR2009123101159_pf.html <blockedhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/31/AR2009123101159_pf.html>)
By Stephen Flynn
Sunday, January 3, 2010; B03


With President Obama declaring a "systemic failure" of our security
system in the wake of the attempted Christmas bombing of a Detroit-
bound airliner, familiar arguments about what can and should be done
to reduce America's vulnerabilities are again filling the airwaves,
editorial pages and blogosphere. Several of these arguments are based
on assumptions that guided the U.S. response to the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks -- and unfortunately, they are as unfounded now as they were
then. The biggest whopper of all? The paternalistic assertion that the
government can keep us all safe without our help.

1. Terrorism is the gravest threat facing the American people.
Americans are at far greater risk of being killed in accidents or by
viruses than by acts of terrorism. In 2008, more than 37,300 Americans
perished on the nation's highways, according to government data. Even
before H1N1, a similar number of people died each year from the
seasonal flu. Terrorism is a real and potentially consequential
danger. But the greatest threat isn't posed by the direct harm
terrorists could inflict; it comes from what we do to ourselves when
we are spooked. It is how we react -- or more precisely, how we
overreact -- to the threat of terrorism that makes it an appealing
tool for our adversaries. By grounding commercial aviation and
effectively closing our borders after the 2001 attacks, Washington
accomplished something no foreign state could have hoped to achieve: a
blockade on the economy of the world's sole superpower. While we
cannot expect to be completely successful at intercepting terrorist
attacks, we must get a better handle on how we respond when they happen.

2. When it comes to preventing terrorism, the only real defense is a
good offense.
The cornerstone of the Bush administration's approach to dealing with
the terrorist threat was to take the battle to the enemy. But offense
has its limits. We still aren't generating sufficiently accurate and
timely tactical intelligence to adequately support U.S.
counterterrorism efforts overseas. And going after terrorists abroad
hardly means they won't manage to strike us at home. Just days before
the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253, the United
States collaborated with the Yemeni government on raids against al-
Qaeda militants there. The group known as al-Qaeda of the Arabian
Peninsula is now claiming responsibility for having equipped and
trained Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly tried to blow up the
flight. The group is also leveraging the raids to recruit militants
and mount protests against Yemen's already fragile central government.

At the same time, an emphasis on offense has often come at the expense
of investing in effective defensive measures, such as maintaining
quality watch lists, sharing information about threats, safeguarding
such critical assets as the nation's food and energy supplies, and
preparing for large-scale emergencies. After authorities said
Abdulmutallab had hidden explosives in his underwear, airline
screeners held up flights to do stepped-up passenger pat-downs at
boarding gates -- pat-downs that inevitably avoided passengers'
crotches and buttocks. This kind of quick fix only tends to fuel
public cynicism about security efforts. But if we can implement smart
security measures ahead of time (such as requiring refineries next to
densely populated areas to use safer chemicals when they manufacture
high-octane gas), we won't be incapacitated when terrorists strike.
Strengthening our national ability to withstand and rapidly recover
from terrorism will make the United States a less appealing target. In
combating terrorism, as in sports, success requires both a capable
offense and a strong defense.

3. Getting better control over America's borders is essential to
making us safer.
Our borders will never serve as a meaningful line of defense against
terrorism. The inspectors at our ports, border crossings and airports
have important roles when it comes to managing immigration and the
flow of commerce, but they play only a bit part in stopping would-be
attackers. This is because terrorist threats do not originate at our
land borders with Mexico and Canada, nor along our 12,000 miles of
coastline. They originate at home as well as abroad, and they exploit
global networks such as the transportation system that moved 500
million cargo containers through the world's ports in 2008. Moreover,
terrorists' travel documents are often in perfect order. This was the
case with Abdulmutallab, as well as with shoe-bomber Richard Reid in
2001. Complaints about porous borders may play well politically, but
they distract us from the more challenging task of forging
international cooperation to strengthen safeguards for our global
transportation, travel and financial systems. They also sidestep the
disturbing fact that the number of terrorism-related cases involving
U.S. residents reached a new high in 2009.

4. Investing in new technology is key to better security.
Not necessarily. Technology can be helpful, but too often it ends up
being part of the problem. Placing too much reliance on sophisticated
tools such as X-ray machines often leaves the people staffing our
front lines consumed with monitoring and troubleshooting these
systems. Consequently, they become more caught up in process than
outcomes. And as soon procedures become routine, a determined bad guy
can game them. We would do well to heed two lessons the U.S. military
has learned from combating insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan: First,
don't do things in rote and predictable ways, and second, don't
alienate the people you are trying to protect. Too much of what is
promoted as homeland security disregards these lessons. It is true
that technology such as full-body imaging machines, which have
received so much attention in the past week, are far more effective
than metal detectors at screening airline passengers. But new
technologies are also expensive, and they are no substitute for well-
trained professionals who are empowered and rewarded for exercising
good judgment.

5. Average citizens aren't an effective bulwark against terrorist
attacks.
Elite pundits and policymakers routinely dismiss the ability of
ordinary people to respond effectively when they are in harm's way.
It's ironic that this misconception has animated much of the
government's approach to homeland security since Sept. 11, 2001, given
that the only successful counterterrorist action that day came from
the passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93. These passengers
didn't have the help of federal air marshals. The Defense Department's
North American Aerospace Defense Command didn't intercept the plane --
it didn't even know the airliner had been hijacked. But by charging
the cockpit over rural Pennsylvania, these private citizens prevented
al-Qaeda terrorists from reaching their likely target of the U.S.
Capitol or the White House. The government leaders whose
constitutional duty is "to provide for the common defense" were
defended by one thing alone -- an alert and heroic citizenry.

This misconception is particularly reckless because it ends up
sidelining the greatest asset we have for managing the terrorism
threat: the average people who are best positioned to detect and
respond to terrorist activities. We have only to look to the attempted
Christmas Day attack to validate this truth. Once again it was the
government that fell short, not ordinary people. A concerned Nigerian
father, not the CIA or the National Security Agency, came forward with
crucial information. And the courageous actions of the Dutch film
director Jasper Schuringa and other passengers and crew members aboard
Flight 253 thwarted the attack.

Stephen Flynn is the president of the Center for National Policy and
author of "The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation."

marct
01-03-2010, 04:41 PM
Nice article, Mike! Did you notice that points 3,4 and 5 all reinforce a separation of citizens from elite experts, while the first two points serve as distractors?

Cavguy
01-03-2010, 04:42 PM
We have to be careful here. Just because Yemen's so-called "government" (which controls 1/3 of the country) is ostensibly anti-AQ doesn't mean they're worth backing.

The current ruler of Yemen routinely describes all his potential enemies as AQ in order to get assistance to jail/attack/kill them. While AQ is a real presence, not all the rebels in Yemen are AQ, as they are involved in a civil war.

Backing a thug regime under the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" rule hasn't generally worked well for us in the long term, and generally has spawned more terrorists willing to attack the US because we undermine our own stated commitment to democracy and human rights. As a reporter I know said:

do you want to take the side of a dictator against his people? do you want to be identified with that dictator and with his victims? then dont be surprised when they try to blow up your planes

I don't fully agree with the above, but he has a point. I say caution before wading into a civil war we don't fully understand under the banner of chasing AQ.

Ken White
01-03-2010, 04:44 PM
This is correct:"The paternalistic assertion that the government can keep us all safe without our help."At least to an extent. There is no way the government can keep us all safe; with or without our help. so he's sorta got that right -- then he blows it by telling us what the governemtn should do in his opinion to keep us a little safer...

The five myths:

1. Terrorism is the gravest threat facing the American people. True, that's a myth and his suggestion makes sense:"While we cannot expect to be completely successful at intercepting terrorist attacks, we must get a better handle on how we respond when they happen."Unfortunately, that neglects the fact that the Politicians in both parties have no incentive to get that better handle. If they did that, they could no longer vilify their opponents for not doing so. That is more important to many in Politics than are sensible policies.

2. When it comes to preventing terrorism, the only real defense is a good offense. That's not a myth, that's correct -- the issue is the word "good." We have not done a good job largely due to domestic politics. See item 1. above. Recall that offense can take a great many forms, it need not be CT and HVT DA...

3. Getting better control over America's borders is essential to making us safer. Not possible on several levels, not least due to the sheer magnitude of the problem, the great diversity of this nation. Politcal malfeasance, political correctness and incompetence do not help.

4. Investing in new technology is key to better security. Wrong answer -- dropping political correctness would do more good than all the new technology we could buy. A little common sense and an American recognition that technology and throwing money at problems would also be an asset..

5. Average citizens aren't an effective bulwark against terrorist attacks. That is a myth. PROVIDED the government loses its holier than thou attitude and empowers its citizens instead of suggesting, thinking and treating them as though they're all a bunch of sheep. Someone let me know when that occurs... :mad:

For all those mythettes, see Item 1, above -- until we elect decent people to Congress and rectify their venality and party loyalty ahead of concern for their Oaths and the Nation, there will be no improvement.

Ken White
01-03-2010, 04:46 PM
We have to be careful here...I say caution before wading into a civil war we don't fully understand under the banner of chasing AQ.Hopefully, someone in policy circles believes that to be smart...

marct
01-03-2010, 04:56 PM
For all those mythettes, see Item 1, above -- until we elect decent people to Congress and rectify their venality and party loyalty ahead of concern for their Oaths and the Nation, there will be no improvement.

Which brings us back to how you folks can do that at a system level. I also reminds me of some of the H&MP discussions in Starship Troopers.....

slapout9
01-03-2010, 05:07 PM
Which brings us back to how you folks can do that at a system level. I also reminds me of some of the H&MP discussions in Starship Troopers.....

marct,There is no system and thats the problem as Ken points out there are at least two competing political systems that only want to get there people elected or re-elected and then there is the third system that steals all the cookies and milk from the country no matter who gets elected:eek:

Music for Systems thinking:)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8xtoP2neSQ

Charles Martel
01-03-2010, 05:15 PM
Not saying that the YM government is worth backing. If they have truly had enough of AQ and take up arms against it, it's a good start, however. My point is that we should think through the impact of our actions before we cave into threats -- and we should be hard-wired against doing so.

Fuchs
01-03-2010, 05:23 PM
"re we caving to AQ threats?"

The whole reaction to terrorism since 2001-09-11 in most of the Western World has been a cowardly.

A few relatively competent assholes kidnap four airliners with carpet knives and destroy the collective intellect of the Western World by setting fear hormones free. Political fearmongers and warmongers get loose.

Some incompetent dumbass attempts to blow his pants up in an airliner and millions of passengers have to endure the most stupid "security" checks in history.

There's nothing that could surprise me any more, not even a completely pointless withdrawal from an embassy.


We should have said on day one:
So you've hit us once. Well, we've got our professional police to keep you out in the future and our professional intelligence agencies to hunt you down.
We are way too many, too rich, too smart, too advanced and too powerful to be much bothered or even scared of you punks.
A flea may sting an elephant, but it will never ever stop him doing what he wants to do.

And then we should have done what we felt was right, not taking into account any inflated, irrational terrorism fears and completely ignoring what those punks say or write.

marct
01-03-2010, 05:24 PM
marct,There is no system and thats the problem as Ken points out there are at least two competing political systems that only want to get there people elected or re-elected and then there is the third system that steals all the cookies and milk from the country no matter who gets elected:eek:

Hey Slap, that's the system I was talking about :cool:. Compare how political, "civilian", leaders are judged as being acceptable at a social level between the current US system and, say, Rome (look at the cursus honorum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursus_honorum)).

Cheers,

Marc

slapout9
01-03-2010, 05:33 PM
[B][I]

We should have said on day one:
So you've hit us once. Well, we've got our professional police to keep you out in the future and our professional intelligence agencies to hunt you down.
We are way too many, too rich, too smart, too advanced and too powerful to be much bothered or even scared of you punks.
A flea may sting an elephant, but it will never ever stop him doing what he wants to do.

And then we should have done what we felt was right, not taking into account any inflated, irrational terrorism fears and completely ignoring what those punks say or write.

Now your talking!

slapout9
01-03-2010, 05:36 PM
Hey Slap, that's the system I was talking about :cool:. Compare how political, "civilian", leaders are judged as being acceptable at a social level between the current US system and, say, Rome (look at the cursus honorum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursus_honorum)).

Cheers,

Marc

marct, I think people are going to start moving to Canada very shortly, better economy,better health care, better guvmint,better psych tests for military........;)

Charles Martel
01-03-2010, 05:38 PM
No troops for Yemen: White House aide (AFP) 3 January 2010, http://tinyurl.com/y8d459z

Do we really need to announce this? Might be the right answer if YM can defeat AQ with only indirect support or if we are not concerned about AQ shifting its flag from PAK to YM, but do we need to announce it the same day we close down our Embassy in the face of AQ threats?

The dots connect to describe a direct line from the threat to our decision not to intervene. I'm sure the connection is not lost on our enemies.

marct
01-03-2010, 06:07 PM
marct, I think people are going to start moving to Canada very shortly, better economy,better health care, better guvmint,better psych tests for military........;)

Drat, Slap! We keep gettin' "invaded" by you southerners :eek:! We're just going to have to do something about boarder security :p....

SteveO
01-03-2010, 09:41 PM
Do we really need to announce this? Might be the right answer if YM can defeat AQ with only indirect support or if we are not concerned about AQ shifting its flag from PAK to YM, but do we need to announce it the same day we close down our Embassy in the face of AQ threats?

Mr. Martel,

I didn't read it that way. We already have an active indirect FID program with the Yemenis to train/equip CT and border police. Section 1206 and 1207 plus antiterrorism through Title 22.

My take on PM Brown's comments was that UK/US would strengthen existing security assistance.

Perhaps the embassies closed in advance to avoid being targets for retaliatory actions once the stepped up FID/SA/SFA programs pushed deeper into YM internal defense apparatus.

But, yes, on first blush, the dots connect to weakness. I'm hoping there is a little bit more to it.

:D

Bill Moore
01-03-2010, 09:45 PM
If there is a credible threat, then it makes perfect sense to close an Embassy for a day or two while law enforcement and intelligence assets attempt to collect more intell and hopefully neutralize the threat. It also allows time for the host nation to increase local security measures around embassy row (a temporary surge). Closing Embassies based on credible threats is a long and prudent practice, and we shouldn't confuse closing an Embassy for a day or two as pulling in our fangs. Embassies are not security outposts, they're diplomatic outposts. What would be foolish and unacceptable is to open the Embassy when we have credible threat information that results in the needless deaths. That is simply empty bravado. Ambassador's don't make the call to close Embassies lightly, so I think unless the facts indicate otherwise we should trust their judgment.

Personally I think it is good news that we announced we're not sending troops to Yemen. We're not falling into the trap of over reacting like we did previously. We're providing less propaganda for the bad guys, and we should be able to do all we need to do through covert and low visibility support. AQ used to bragg all they had to do was wave a flag in some country and the U.S. would come running, thus over extending themselves even further. We're no longer playing into their hands, but we're still getting after them. Anything other than a low visibility presence there would likely be counterproductive to our efforts in the region.

MikeF, that was a good post. I'm somewhat ambivalent one point one. In democracies there are always contrary opinions, and each side generally over states their case considerably (or over communicates a particular point such as XX is soft on terror) in an attempt to garner more support for their position. Rational debate has never been a part of our political culture, and fear is a good way to motivate the masses whether it is drugs, commis, terrorists, etc. The previous administration played the fear card effectively for political power (didn't do much against AQ IMO) and the former VP is still barking from the sidelines. Though I'm at a loss to see where we're any softer on terror now than we were two years ago.

On the other hand, there are valid reasons for concern. There is little doubt that AQ and other extremis groups would employ a WMD in the U.S. if they ever get one. There is little doubt they would attempt to pull off another attack on the scale of 9/11 if we allowed them to do so. This is at least the third attempt on one our commerical airlines since 9/11 (first was the shoe bomber, then the big plot to blow up several airlines that was disrupted in the UK, and now the Christmas bomber). Governments are obligated to defend their people, and they rightly lose legitimacy when they don't. If the attack Christmas bomber was successful the ripple effects on our economy (actually the global economy, since safe commercial flight is essential) would have been hugely damaging.

That means we (not just the U.S.) need to make tough, rational decisions where we effectively balance our efforts and investment in defense (which IMO is grossly under invested in) and offense (and like Ken suggested, that doesn't always mean military action).

This another rare moment where I disagree with Ken, because I think investing in the right defense technology is critical and it does make a difference. Where we do agree is that politically correct policies are hamstringing security efforts. Profiling is not "nice", but it can be effective in focusing efforts on likely suspects, while refusing to profile can very well allow a terrorist to get through our security measures.

There are no easy answers.

Surferbeetle
01-04-2010, 01:30 AM
Hey Bill,

Ambassadors don't make the call to close Embassies lightly, so I think unless the facts indicate otherwise we should trust their judgment.

Agreed. Common sense goes a long way when things get violent.

Personally I think it is good news that we announced we're not sending troops to Yemen. We're not falling into the trap of over reacting like we did previously.

It’s interesting to think about why Yemen is coming to the forefront of media consciousness at this time. How much can be ascribed to diversionary tactics, poor governance, etc? A measured and balanced approach applied with cunning and focused ruthlessness as needed has much to recommend it.

On the other hand, there are valid reasons for concern. There is little doubt that AQ and other extremis groups would employ a WMD in the U.S. if they ever get one. There is little doubt they would attempt to pull off another attack on the scale of 9/11 if we allowed them to do so.


Agreed, we have a small number of hard-core enemies who will do whatever it takes to try and hurt us. Along these lines, our discussion the other day regarding the development of conditions to reduce the number of radicals, in particular via the local educational system, seems worth revisiting. What is Yemen doing to fix its problems in this arena?

During my reading today I a came across the following article in Die Welt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Welt), Westliche Demografie-Sorgen bei der Terrorabwehr (http://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article5709247/Westliche-Demografie-Sorgen-bei-der-Terrorabwehr.html) (Western Demographic Concerns associated with the Terror-Defense). The article is an opinion piece written by a German high school teacher. If his numbers are correct the demographics are interesting to consider: He states that there are ~24 million Yemeni’s and that the nation has a demographic a ratio of 1000 (40 to 44 y/o men) to 5950 (0 to 4 y/o boys). The effects of disease, immigration, etc. are not discussed.

The author’s article is also interesting in that it displays a European approach and provides a datapoint regarding our allies. These same ratios are then examined across the US, England, and Germany (they decrease) and the potential impact of war losses upon single child families (common in Europe) are discussed.

Perhaps we will see an increase in NGO’s in Yemen (http://www.yemenembassy.org/economic/NGOs%20%28bw%29.pdf) as a result of the current events.

If the attack [by the] Christmas [underpants] bomber was successful the ripple effects on our economy (actually the global economy, since safe commercial flight is essential) would have been hugely damaging.

So what can we learn about effective security and cost containment from Israel?

What Israeli security could teach us (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/08/23/what_israeli_security_could_teach_us/) By Jeff Jacoby (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Jacoby_%28columnist%29) in the August 23, 2006 Boston Globe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Globe).


That means we (not just the U.S.) need to make tough, rational decisions where we effectively balance our efforts and investment in defense (which IMO is grossly under invested in) and offense (and like Ken suggested, that always mean military action).

The need for cost effective Full Spectrum Capabilities are something most of us agree upon.

More often than not, however, I am a ‘people are more important than hardware’ fan. IMO we need to get serious about integrating DoD, DoS, and our myriad OGA’s into cohesive and unified instruments of US Policy. The current inefficiencies are very costly and are arguably a function of the size of the organization. The upcoming QDR will be telling.

As we sometimes do, I disagree with you regarding limiting the definition of offense to just military action. Consider the recent raid upon the treasury led by banks, the narco business model, and lawfare. The Chinese analysis of unrestricted warfare (http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/china/doctrine/unresw2.htm) is also worth considering.

There are no easy answers.

True,

For some reason I do like the concept of Cursus Honorum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursus_honorum) however (thanks Marc :wry:) it’s certainly a start…

Steve

jcustis
01-04-2010, 01:37 AM
If there is a credible threat, then it makes perfect sense to close an Embassy for a day or two while law enforcement and intelligence assets attempt to collect more intell and hopefully neutralize the threat. It also allows time for the host nation to increase local security measures around embassy row (a temporary surge). Closing Embassies based on credible threats is a long and prudent practice, and we shouldn't confuse closing an Embassy for a day or two as pulling in our fangs. Embassies are not security outposts, they're diplomatic outposts. What would be foolish and unacceptable is to open the Embassy when we have credible threat information that results in the needless deaths. That is simply empty bravado. Ambassador's don't make the call to close Embassies lightly, so I think unless the facts indicate otherwise we should trust their judgment.

Precisely! One particular internet commando claimed the President was "surrendering to AQ." While his was an attempt to start a political food fight, it displayed a basic ignorance of some pretty standard security principles.

Bill Moore
01-04-2010, 02:09 AM
Posted by Surferbeetle, As we sometimes do, I disagree with you regarding limiting the definition of offense to just military action.

Steve, thanks for catching this (Ken must be napping), I didn't mean to write it this way, so I added "doesn't".

It’s interesting to think about why Yemen is coming to the forefront of media consciousness at this time.

I think it is pretty clear why Yemen is moving to the front and center for media attention is because the threat appears new (news) to many (unlike Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan), yet those in the know have been concerned about Yemen for a long time (at least since the attack on the USS COLE).

So what can we learn about effective security and cost containment from Israel?

Not sure at this point, I saw a special on Israel's procedures and they don't appear to be cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Also how many planes does Israel have in their fleet compared to the U.S.? The scale of the problem for us is considerably larger.

More often than not, however, I am a ‘people are more important than hardware’ fan.

I wasn't making reference to DOD, but defense of our borders, ports, airlines, trains, etc. They type of technology I was talking about was more effective baggage scanners, more capacity to detect WMD in our ports, etc. Focused on TSA, Air Marshals, Coast Guard, Customs, Border Patrol, etc. A combination of well trained and motivated security personnel enabled with effective technology is the only acceptable combination for the wealthiest nation on the planet. We have mis-spent billions attempting to develop foreign security forces (I say mis-spent because the efforts are often ineffective), while leaving our home front under invested in.

Charles Martel
01-04-2010, 02:22 AM
Bill,

I would agree on the security issue before 1983, but since then the Embassies have become more and more like fortresses. There are ways for the Ambassador to protect his folks without completely closing and announcing that it was in response to an AQ threat. Enhancing the perception of their threat does not enhance our security.

Kind of like announcing that we will not send troops -- once the announcement is made it takes the option off the table just when we want AQ to be less sure about what we are doing, not more. And if the YM's request assistance, we are in a position of turning them down or going back on our word. Why put ourselves in that situation? It's unnecessary and does not advance our cause in any way. And as SteveO rightly points out, we have had troops there on training missions, so why say that we aren't sending troops when they are already there?

AQ has failed wherever it has tried to take over, now even YM is attacking them in a big way. So why do we act like we are the ones under siege?

Bill Moore
01-04-2010, 02:52 AM
We'll just have to agree to disagree on the Embassy closure. I don't see it as a big deal, simply a prudent measure. I'm sure the Embassy there is hardened (not all are), but employees have to go through a choke point at the gate that exposes them to an attack. Much like the CIA employees who were killed by the nut case as they were in line waiting to enter Langley. It doesn't hurt to take a day to enhance your security measures. In the military we always assume Department of State is cowardly, but that is far from the truth. Not only do they live in harms way around the clock, they frequently live there with their families. That doesn't mean we always agree with their judgment or policies, but they are not the type to pull up their dresses and run away when there is a threat.

Why do you assume the President saying we won't send troops was not a coordinated statement that was mutually agreed upon with Yemen's government? Why should we over react by sending combat troops without first determining if there is even a requirement. There have been failed plots against our commercial airlines from England also, should we send combat troops? I'm simply stating we might be the ones exaggerated the threat.

Having a handful of troops training there is different than overtly deploying combat troops. As mentioned earlier in this thread we don't want to get caught up in their internal civil war, we just want to smash AQ. That means we need to avoid getting lead by the nose into a trap. IMHO this administration seems to get that.

AQ has failed wherever it has tried to take over, now even YM is attacking them in a big way. So why do we act like we are the ones under siege?

Again I don't think closing an Embassy for a day or two is acting like we're under seige. If my memory serves me correctly once upon a time in relatively recent history we closed our embassy in Paris for a day or two due to threat information. We were hardly under seige in Paris. Just taking prudent security measures. You may be privy to additional information, but based upon what I'm reading in the open press this isn't a big deal. Let AQ bark a little about it. GEN Petreous (sp?) was quoted as saying in one of the articles that Yemen had very good intelligence on AQ and was sharing it, so we'll see who is going to bragg at the end of the day.

As for AQ failing to take over, well I guess that depends upon how you define take over. AQ generally forms parasitic relationships with host governments (like Sudan and Afghanistan previously) or other resistance groups with like minded objectives, so they do effectively establish safe havens in places like Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and I suspect other locations. They don't need to take over the government to be effective. Hell they have even penetrated the U.S. with their ideology (several recent attacks conducted by U.S. citizens on U.S. citizens), and of course they have penetrated Europe. I think defining their success by their ability to take over a country is a bit conventional. They're more like a virus that requires a host to survive and then multiply and spread. IMO if you're weak the last thing you want to do is actually take over a state and be responsible for it and expose yourself to our conventional superiority.

It's going to a be long, long fight, so IMHO we need to get past the chest beating and simply start killing this virus off as quietly as possible. AQ is not the only threat to our national interest. We need to put it in perspective and stop artificially inflating their sense of self importance by over reacting. Just find'em and kill'em, and don't plan on any victory parades.

Ken White
01-04-2010, 05:03 AM
Steve, thanks for catching this (Ken must be napping), I didn't mean to write it this way, so I added "doesn't".Just to clarify, I did not mean that offense must be / is always military. Quite the contrary, offense can mean to disrupt, delay, argue as well as to attack or assault and offensive effort can be active or passive; action or stasis. It can be by military, LE, Intel or Diplomatic or other elements; it can be overt, covert or clandestine or a blend of any or all those three.

It is my belief that all those many variations and more must be used, that we are capable of using a multitude of methods and only lack political will all too often.I think it is pretty clear why Yemen is moving to the front and center for media attention is because the threat appears new (news)...That and the fact that the media is largely clueless...:(A combination of well trained and motivated security personnel enabled with effective technology is the only acceptable combination for the wealthiest nation on the planet. We have mis-spent billions attempting to develop foreign security forces (I say mis-spent because the efforts are often ineffective), while leaving our home front under invested in.I agree with your last point insofar as the waste on foreign security forces. I do not agree with your implication that more money spent on our own border security is necessary or even desirable. :wry:

We've spent plenty -- we've just wasted much of it because there too our efforts are often ineffective. Forty Billion bucks on TSA has accomplished little. Customs and Border Protection has a number of problems. Training is in some cases marginal at best and there are political and psychological constraints that impact border and travel security and the personnel responsible for that security. Congress is unwilling to make the hard choices and the various Administrations have been unable to convince them of the need to do so.

This nation is too large, too diverse, too committed to individuality and our political process is too discombobulated for us to EVER be 'secure.' That's not all bad -- if the government would just stop trying to be Big Brother and stop treating the populace as a bunch of incompetents, life would be better. Flying commercial might even get to be fairly easy and enjoyable once again...:cool:

Tom Odom
01-04-2010, 05:31 AM
Precisely! One particular internet commando claimed the President was "surrendering to AQ." While his was an attempt to start a political food fight, it displayed a basic ignorance of some pretty standard security principles.

And let me add having served in and around six embassies, two in war zones, that closing does not mean evacuating. They may reduce staff lower than it is already. But so far they have not said they are withdrawing the mission or the Ambassador. The Birits have pretty well matched us in their wording.

The idea that an embassy is anything resembling a security outpost is way off base. If they have credible information enough to get both mission chiefs to recommend/accept closing the missions, they made the right call.

Tom

marct
01-04-2010, 12:49 PM
Here's how CBC is spinning it

The British and U.S. embassies in Yemen have closed because of the threat of attack from an al-Qaeda affiliate linked to the failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S. passenger aircraft. The U.S. Embassy posted a message on its website Sunday saying it was closed "in response to ongoing threats by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack American interests in Yemen."
The U.K. Foreign Office later said it, too, had shut its embassy in the capital Sanaa "for security reasons."
More... (http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/01/03/yemen-embassies-closed.html)


Tom, while you are quite right that "closing" doesn't mean "evacuating", that distinction just isn't made by most of the civilian population outside of people who work with foreign affairs types. If you look at the first paragraph of the CBC story, the implication is that the US is running away because of a (failed) threat.


I've argued in other places that there is a serious difference in perception of what exactly constitutes the AO between Western and AQ perceptions and, to me at least, I think that this type of action will be spun by AQ and their fellow travellers both as a tactical victory and as continuing "proof" that the US is "weak".

Tom Odom
01-04-2010, 12:58 PM
Here's how CBC is spinning it


Tom, while you are quite right that "closing" doesn't mean "evacuating", that distinction just isn't made by most of the civilian population outside of people who work with foreign affairs types. If you look at the first paragraph of the CBC story, the implication is that the US is running away because of a (failed) threat.

I've argued in other places that there is a serious difference in perception of what exactly constitutes the AO between Western and AQ perceptions and, to me at least, I think that this type of action will be spun by AQ and their fellow travellers both as a tactical victory and as continuing "proof" that the US is "weak".

All of which while true does not change the security aspects that take priority over what it looks like to AQ or the media...both of whom would indeed make IO hay if there was an attack against the mission(s) that actually suceeded.

Sometimes you have to make the call to put lives over image; in the longer term, if this results in a cleared deck for the mission, as in reduced staff, then all the better.

As for weakness, let the Predators do the talking...

Tom

marct
01-04-2010, 01:08 PM
Hi Tom,

All of which while true does not change the security aspects that take priority over what it looks like to AQ or the media...both of whom would indeed make IO hay if there was an attack against the mission(s) that actually suceeded.

Quite true. I suspect that a better way to spin it for the Western media would have been along the lines of "reducing operation to protect civilian employees", rather than using words like "close" or "shut down". I suspect most people would view that as just prudent.

Sometimes you have to make the call to put lives over image; in the longer term, if this results in a cleared deck for the mission, as in reduced staff, then all the better.

Again, no problems with that. My gut guess is that this is part of a flea swarm style of IO attack. AQ et al. have nothing to loose and, with the surprising admissions about security, they probably will launch some long shot attack just in case it might work - an IO force multiplier as it were designed to reinforce perceptions of a lack of security. They have already managed to disrupt air travel over the holidays as well as cost the west millions as a result of that disruption - a pretty good return on the investment of one idiot!

As for weakness, let the Predators do the talking...

Hmmm, well, I wouldn't complain :D. At the same time, I would strongly suggest that it is time for a little "social theatre" on the home front; snatch and grab some of the SOB's and put them on trial (not GITMO).

Cheers,

Marc

wm
01-04-2010, 02:59 PM
I suspect that a better way to spin it for the Western media would have been along the lines of "reducing operation to protect civilian employees", rather than using words like "close" or "shut down". I suspect most people would view that as just prudent.


Marc,
Nice idea and that may in fact have been how the embassy worded its announcement. But, today's sound-bite journalists seem to be more interested in writing a story that supports a certain agenda rather than reporting facts and letting the readers make their own judgements. In other words, the story probably would have gotten spun no matter what. Tant pis .

if the government would just stop trying to be Big Brother and stop treating the populace as a bunch of incompetents, life would be better.
Ken's on to something very important here IMHO, but I think we could replace his "Big Brother" with "a parent" and replace "incompetents" with "young children." Then his assertion would apply not only to government but also to the media.

marct
01-04-2010, 03:07 PM
Nice idea and that may in fact have been how the embassy worded its announcement. But, today's sound-bite journalists seem to be more interested in writing a story that supports a certain agenda rather than reporting facts and letting the readers make their own judgements. In other words, the story probably would have gotten spun no matter what. Tant pis .

That's a good point, WM. That said, there's a lot to also say about the idea of aggressive strategic communications to try and counter some of that bias. I don't know if that would actually work, but it is certainly worth a shot, and a lot better than sitting around doing not much :wry:.

Ken's on to something very important here IMHO, but I think we could replace his "Big Brother" with "a parent" and replace "incompetents" with "young children." Then his assertion would apply not only to government but also to the media.

Oh, definitely he's on to something. Take a look at Tom Kratman's epilogue essay in Carnifex on the Family of Humanity and who gets to play parent...

If I were cynical (;)), I might note that it is in the interests of self-proclaimed elites (i.e. those who haven't earned that status, I have no problems with real elites) to do their best to convert the populace into a bunch of ignorant sheep. Once that's done, they are much easier to rule, and the selection process for elites becomes a form of noyeaux combat rather than a real meritocracy.

Ken White
01-04-2010, 04:39 PM
If I were cynical (;)), I might note that it is in the interests of self-proclaimed elites (i.e. those who haven't earned that status, I have no problems with real elites) to do their best to convert the populace into a bunch of ignorant sheep. Once that's done, they are much easier to rule, and the selection process for elites becomes a form of noyeaux combat rather than a real meritocracy.secret and FDR as well as many other real elites have tagged onto the pseudo elite bandwagon. :mad:

I, not at all regrettably, am totally cynical on that score -- those idiots cannot be trusted to govern because they become self annointing, self perpetuating and are, quite simply, dangerous. Take a look at the shambles they have made of the US K-12 education system to foster ignorance and skew goals. :rolleyes:

WM is on target in that the media -- in their cupidity, and stupidity -- are a significant part of the problem. More would be 'elites'... :wry:

wm
01-04-2010, 05:08 PM
WM is on target in that the media -- in their cupidity, and stupidity -- are a significant part of the problem. More would be 'elites'... :wry:
A question, which probably is inapropriate for this board, arises:
Is the media an elite (AKA an Aristotlean natural leader/master) or is some other "elite" manipulating it. Circling back to Ken's early comment about Big Brother, who is at the other end of those tubes that deliver assignments to today's reporters, reporters who seem to have a similarity to Winston Smith at the Ministry of Truth?

MikeF
01-04-2010, 05:13 PM
A question, which probably is inapropriate for this board, arises:
Is the media an elite (AKA an Aristotlean natural leader/master) or is some other "elite" manipulating it. Circling back to Ken's early comment about Big Brother, who is at the other end of those tubes that deliver assignments to today's reporters, reporters who seem to have a similarity to Winston Smith at the Ministry of Truth?

Honestly, I think it's just profitable not sinister.

wm
01-04-2010, 05:41 PM
Honestly, I think it's just profitable not sinister.
My take too--people looking to add their net worth. (Two media moguls who have major cable news holdings currently are around $4B and $2B. respectively. Initials are RM and TT in case more clues are wanted).

Ken White
01-04-2010, 06:13 PM
to be sinister...:wry:

Charles Martel
01-04-2010, 06:36 PM
Sometimes you have to make the call to put lives over image;

I've never thought that these decisions are either save lives or save image. The actions and words should be integrated so as to reinforce each other and do both.

We know that AQ has been trying to spin our drawdown from Iraq as an AQ victory but no one is buying, even in the most virulent websites, because it is so dissociated from reality. They will try to do the same with any weakness (perceived or otherwise) we show in the region. That weakness will be used to build their cred with potential recruits and to gain funding.

Better to tell the population something like: "There is a credible threat from AQ who would not refrain from killing innocent Muslim civilians in their efforts to attack us. Particularly vulnerable would be the people lined up for visas, so in response to AQ's demonstrated callous disregard for human life, we will restrict consular activities for X period to appointments only in order to minimize the threat to the people while continuing to provide necessary services."

The result is that the Embassy remains open, no one can say we were intimidated by AQ and we demonstrate our compassion and resolve to aid the YM people -- AQ is the bad guy and we are the compassionate, resolute ones which has the added benefit of being actually true. Even if we only service a handful of YM's, it doesn't matter. We turn the tables on AQ, we make our point, and we safeguard our people.

tequila
01-04-2010, 06:48 PM
Better to tell the population something like: "There is a credible threat from AQ who would not refrain from killing innocent Muslim civilians in their efforts to attack us. Particularly vulnerable would be the people lined up for visas, so in response to AQ's demonstrated callous disregard for human life, we will restrict consular activities for X period to appointments only in order to minimize the threat to the people while continuing to provide necessary services."


Yeah, so in other words we closed the embassy to public business.

They're going to crow regardless. Or not, who cares. Who is the audience that is going to care? Does the Yemeni public care? Does the U.S. public?

I have become increasingly less convinced of the utility of IO massaging, especially IO that involves torturing the English language like some kind of Pravda press release principally so we can feel better about ourselves.

marct
01-04-2010, 07:03 PM
Hi Tequila,

They're going to crow regardless. Or not, who cares. Who is the audience that is going to care? Does the Yemeni public care? Does the U.S. public?

Hmmm, how about the Canadian, Australia and British audiences?

I have become increasingly less convinced of the utility of IO massaging, especially IO that involves torturing the English language like some kind of Pravda press release principally so we can feel better about ourselves.

Personally, I happen to agree with your point about torturing the language. I would far rather see something like what CM proposed, in both the press and in reality, than a "We're closing" message going out. As long as that actually is the reality, it's not playing Pravda.

Charles Martel
01-04-2010, 07:06 PM
Tequila,

I feel about IO like Ghandi felt about Christianity: [it is] a good thing but it needed people to try it. We don't even make the attempt at pointing out the inhumanity of our enemies and tying our actions to it. It isn't tortured syntax to say that we are limiting, not closing, our Embassy to prevent our enemy from targeting the population. It is what we really believe. Isn't it?

tequila
01-04-2010, 07:26 PM
Hmmm, how about the Canadian, Australia and British audiences?


Personally I doubt very much whether any portion of those audiences care very much whether the U.S. embassy in Yemen is open for business or not.

Besides, the embassy is actually closed, according its own website. They're not taking appointments, either.

Now if CM or yourself know a good reason as to why they should remain open besides IO purposes, I suppose you'd better let the DSS know. Note that the British and French have closed their embassies as well. It might pay to remember that AQAP launched a major complex attack on our embassy in 2008 to include an attempted storming, so it's not like there isn't some history here.

There's a big difference between "caving" and taking sensible precaution. And what exactly are we "caving" in to? Did AQAP demand that we shut our embassy temporarily for security reasons?

marct
01-04-2010, 07:37 PM
Hi Tequila,

Personally I doubt very much whether any portion of those audiences care very much whether the U.S. embassy in Yemen is open for business or not.

I agree, on the whole none of them (us) do give a FF. What I think is important, however, is not that it did close, but the reasons why it closed and the changes in perceptions that come from that.

Besides, the embassy is actually closed, according its own website. They're not taking appointments, either.

Yup. Which, IMHO, is too bad.

Now if CM or yourself know a good reason as to why they should remain open besides IO purposes, I suppose you'd better let the DSS know. Note that the British and French have closed their embassies as well. It might pay to remember that AQAP launched a major complex attack on our embassy in 2008 to include an attempted storming, so it's not like there isn't some history here.

Other than IO? Well, I might say "appearances", but that should, in all fairness, fall under the same general rubric. As to the history, yeah, I know there was an attempted storming. Wasn't the embassy strengthened, though?

There's a big difference between "caving" and taking sensible precaution. And what exactly are we "caving" in to? Did AQAP demand that we shut our embassy temporarily for security reasons?

I agree, there is a big difference. I suppose that what we are really talking about is where is that line drawn, and how are the decisions both arrived at and communicated.

davidbfpo
01-04-2010, 07:40 PM
Personally I doubt very much whether any portion of those audiences (British, Canadian & Australia) care very much whether the U.S. embassy in Yemen is open for business or not.

Regarding the UK I would say that the long established Yemeni community, a mix of "newcomers" and mainly IIRC born in the UK, will have a view; yes, it is a small ethnic group and a mix of north and south factions. I suspect a closure will not be a surprise as they remain well connected "back home". I understand there is some trade, business and other interests.

Tom Odom
01-05-2010, 06:46 AM
As I expected

U.S. Embassy in Yemen Reopens After Threat (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,581963,00.html)

The United States embassy in Yemen reopened on Tuesday, a day after Yemeni forces reportedly killed two Al Qaeda militants believed to be behind a threat that forced U.S. and European missions to close.

Tukhachevskii
01-05-2010, 09:24 AM
If you look at the first paragraph of the CBC story, the implication is that the US is running away because of a (failed) threat.

I've argued in other places that there is a serious difference in perception of what exactly constitutes the AO between Western and AQ perceptions and, to me at least, I think that this type of action will be spun by AQ and their fellow travellers both as a tactical victory and as continuing "proof" that the US is "weak".


Exactly what I was thinking (but was beat to it). For AQ any retrograde manouevre on the part of the "Allies" is a victory; especially in Yemen. I remember going to both embassies (UK and US) and being struck by their high levels of protection in terms of physical barriers and troops deployed to defend them (who all seemed much better fed and equipped than regular Jaish Al-Yemeni). But we cannot forget that in Arab culture the stronger you are percieved the more respect you are accorded (there was a pretty good article on this in SWJ a while ago). Your average Yemeni drives around with Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein wheel covers on their spare tyre on their cheep Chinese (and ex-Jap) SUVs. (Remember, for the Yemeni's Bin laden is "one of us" and his victories are, vicariously, their victories). Your average Yemeni is also deeply resentful (while being simultaneously being strongly attracted to) the US (i.e., "yankee go home...and take me with you"). Anything that "looks" like we flinched/blinked is as good a victory for AQ as is actual physical combat. OTOH, "closing" the embassies could all be directed at domestic audiences to reinforce "wartime spirit" (or morale as JDP-2 UK Defence Doctrine puts it) at a time when support from civilians on the home front for continued ops in Iraq/Afghanistan is flagging (especially when we may even be considering action against Iran).

Stan
01-05-2010, 09:27 AM
A quick read over at State's website among other things reveals...

... the Department's main goals: protecting the U.S. and Americans;


There's a big difference between "caving" and taking sensible precaution. And what exactly are we "caving" in to? Did AQAP demand that we shut our embassy temporarily for security reasons?

The idea that an embassy is anything resembling a security outpost is way off base. If they have credible information enough to get both mission chiefs to recommend/accept closing the missions, they made the right call.


Echoing Tequila and Tom - Although we don't have an Arab presence, I can't count how many times in the last 15 years the Embassy here closed their doors for no other reason than to reduce potential risk.

In a friendly country like Estonia, information funnels into the Country Team from law enforcement and the host government daily. The ultimate decision rests with the Embassy, but there have been instances where limited operations or temporary closure was recommended.

Closing or limiting the Embassy's operations simply reduces US and local employee exposure. Riots and social upheaval are no fun, and the walls and windows around the embassy are not some sort of force field :rolleyes:

I suppose that what we are really talking about is where is that line drawn, and how are the decisions both arrived at and communicated.

I wished I had a better answer for you Marc. Fact is, even here in snowy paradise the communicated closure or limited operations is rather fuzzy and generates all kinds of rumor with the US expats and local population.

I'm certain Yemen will be handsomely rewarded under any number of programs such as counter terrorism, non-proliferation and security assistance.

tequila
01-05-2010, 01:26 PM
Anything that "looks" like we flinched/blinked is as good a victory for AQ as is actual physical combat.

Really? So have we just scored a crushing victory over AQ by reopening the embassy?

I'm betting the "average" Yemeni does not actually tool around with bin Laden tire covers, nor does he know or care much that the U.S. and U.K. embassies were closed briefly this week.

I achieved this bit of inside knowledge by polling the Yemeni families who own two of the local bodegas around my neighborhood. See, I'm at least as reliable as Tom Friedman now. :D

wm
01-05-2010, 01:38 PM
The United States embassy in Yemen reopened on Tuesday, a day after Yemeni forces reportedly killed two Al Qaeda militants believed to be behind a threat that forced U.S. and European missions to close.
(Emphasis added.)

Amazing what a difference a single word makes. Suppose instead that line from Fox News had read like the following:

"After choosing to close temporarily, the US Embassy in Yemen reopened on Tuesday, a day after Yemeni forces reportedly killed two Al Qaeda militants believed to be behind a threat to U.S. and European diplomatic missions in the country. To lower risks of injury both to Yemeni citizens with business at or around their embassies as well as to embassy employees, the US and British Embassies had ordered temporary closures."

Fuchs
01-05-2010, 01:55 PM
Amazing what a difference a single word makes. Suppose instead that line from Fox News had read like the following:

"After choosing to close temporarily, the US Embassy in Yemen reopened on Tuesday, a day after Yemeni forces reportedly killed two Al Qaeda militants believed to be behind a threat to U.S. and European diplomatic missions in the country. To lower risks of injury both to Yemeni citizens with business at or around their embassies as well as to embassy employees, the US and British Embassies had ordered temporary closures."

Translations make an even greater difference. I read about a withdrawal of the diplomatic personnel elsewhere.

Stan
01-05-2010, 02:09 PM
Jeez, Wayne, I swore you'd go for the old "broken water mains" ;)

Amazing what a difference a single word makes. Suppose instead that line from Fox News had read like the following:

Stan
01-05-2010, 02:20 PM
Translations make an even greater difference. I read about a withdrawal of the diplomatic personnel elsewhere.

Indeed, Fuchs. In such instances the phrase "withdrawal of diplomatic personnel" takes on a different meaning.

The withdrawal of an ambassador for example is little more than a symbolic act of protest. Withdrawal of all diplomatic personnel from an embassy is however rare.

The host country can deem a member of the embassy Persona non Grata, but the often and typical recourse is reciprocal expulsion. Which, accomplishes nothing IMO :wry:

According to the Vienna Convention, the ambassador is easily expelled, but the embassy is inviolable... Just ask the Iranians :D

Tom Odom
01-05-2010, 02:38 PM
According to the Vienna Convention, the ambassador is easily expelled, but the embassy is inviolable... Just ask the Iranians :D

or the Zairois...:eek:

Fuchs
01-05-2010, 02:52 PM
Maybe it would have been smart to simply close the embassy for a few days "for repairs" and to hire some craftsmen to do something, but most importantly to be visible.

The whole thing looks like an unexpected PR disaster to me. Next time they'll be more careful.

tequila
01-05-2010, 04:25 PM
The whole thing looks like an unexpected PR disaster to me.

Again, in what way is this a disaster?

I wish I wrote this (http://lefarkins.blogspot.com/2010/01/terrorball.html), but it's pretty apropos:

I’m quite sure I could beat LeBron James in a game of one on one basketball. The game merely needs to feature two special rules: It lasts until I score, and as soon as I score I win. Such a game might last several hours, or even a week or two, and James would probably score hundreds and possibly thousands of points before my ultimate victory, but eventually I’m going to find a way to put the ball in the basket.

Our national government and almost all of the establishment media have decided to play a similar game, which could be called Terrorball. The first two rules of Terrorball are:

(1) The game lasts until there are no longer any terrorists, and;

(2) If terrorists manage to ever kill or injure or seriously frighten any Americans, they win.

JarodParker
01-05-2010, 04:43 PM
IMO the US government had three options…

1) To not temporarily close the embassy in the face of what was deemed to be a credible threat and possibly hand AQ a real “flag draped caskets (both indig and western)” type of victory in hopes of denying them an obviously arguable “PR victory.”
2) To temporarily close the embassy without disclosing the reason or fabricating one altogether (ie – closed for repairs). At which point, the real reason would be leaked to the press and the government ends up with egg on its face. While AQ still gets the supposed “PR victory.” Maybe it’s me, but it seems that some government officially can’t go from here to there without anonymously babbling need-to-know information to reporters. So why risk it?
3) Close the embassy, give the real reason but keep it vague, knowing that FOX, MSNBC and AQ will distort the message to fit their agenda. The next press release (if any) should just read, “move along folks, nothing to see here.”

Bill Moore
01-06-2010, 08:41 AM
Posted by Tom

As I expected


Quote:
U.S. Embassy in Yemen Reopens After Threat

The United States embassy in Yemen reopened on Tuesday, a day after Yemeni forces reportedly killed two Al Qaeda militants believed to be behind a threat that forced U.S. and European missions to close.

Tom,

This closes the discussion my opinion, the system worked exactly has it should have. I suspect a lot of these discussions are prompted by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and others who play the attack dog role by accusing the administration of being weak, and some unfortunately some folks buy into it. Weak or not, the closing of Embassies for short periods of time to sort through security issues (as noted above) has been a standard practice for years by all administrations. Department of State can chalk up a win on this one.

Tom Odom
01-06-2010, 08:46 AM
Posted by Tom



Tom,

This closes the discussion my opinion, the system worked exactly has it should have. I suspect a lot of these discussions are prompted by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and others who play the attack dog role by accusing the administration of being weak, and some unfortunately some folks buy into it. Weak or not, the closing of Embassies for short periods of time to sort through security issues (as noted above) has been a standard practice for years by all administrations. Department of State can chalk up a win on this one.

Agreed on all

Best

Tom

Tukhachevskii
01-07-2010, 09:00 AM
Really? So have we just scored a crushing victory over AQ by reopening the embassy?

I'm betting the "average" Yemeni does not actually tool around with bin Laden tire covers, nor does he know or care much that the U.S. and U.K. embassies were closed briefly this week.

I achieved this bit of inside knowledge by polling the Yemeni families who own two of the local bodegas around my neighborhood. See, I'm at least as reliable as Tom Friedman now. :D

Just some quick thoughts to clarify what I meant in the previous post...

First of all I have no idea what a Bodega/s is/are. I hope you will enlighten me. :D

Secondly, lets examine things from the PoV of a Yemeni and how he would understand the chain of events (having actually lived there for nine months I think I am, respectfully, best placed to know how they think if only in limited form).

1) Our glorious Son of Islam (the Underwear bomber) outsmarts the US and tries to blow-up a US airliner on Christmas day (or kafir day). He fails. No matter. It is jihad all the same (see Metrics 1, 2, 3, 9 below)

2)US “panics” and closes embassy in Yemen (where a previous attempt by AQ of Arabian Peninsula had failed just short of the main gates). Ha! They run if we sneeze! Not at all like China.

3) Yemeni government- the takfiri collaborationist government of Ali Abdullah Saleh and his gang of GPC cronies who are all on the US payroll -“claim” to have killed an AQ “mujahedeen”. We don’t believe them, of course, because they make claims about everything. Besides, if “they” have killed anyone its probably one of my tribal cousins. That irks me no end.

4) US reopens embassy.

5) Salih is in cahoots with the hated and vile United States of Kafiroona (this merely proves what we suspected all along) therefore I will shift support (if I haven’t already) to Islah, will continue ignoring the various groups operating in my midst, which I support tacitly or overtly and to which my son belongs, pray for the speedy victory of AQ and the destruction of the Takfiri government of Salih.


Yes. We blinked. Yes. We reopened our (UK and US) embassies. No. It did nothing to prove our resolve or courage (thereby undermining what Joseph Nye called Soft Power). In a culture in which honour, prestige and face have been taken to their logical extremes we have handed them a propaganda victory on a plate by “blinking” while simultaneously proving whatever conspiracy theory they may have fastened onto (and there are many). I have every reason to believe Saleh’s government acted in the manner it did, by (allegedly) “killing” an AQ member, to prevent even the talk of US involvement in Yemen (which would destabilise it) by committing an act which, by perceiving to “help” the US, will increase tension in Yemen and thus ultimately ......destabilise it. Saleh gets to wring more money out of the US (having proved that previous aid is being put to “good” use) which he will then use to pay off the major tribal confederacies, and anyone else whose feathers were ruffled, and stay in power a little while longer. Meanwhile his Political Security Organisation will continue to “allow” the escape of AQ members (amongst others) as they did (in)famously in 2006 while clamping down on domestic reformers (after all, he needs the tribes and their AQ/Foreign Fighter friends to eliminate the Houthi rebellion in the north). I do not call that a victory but a net loss. The previous attack on the US embassy was neutralised by Yemeni forces (with the aid of the 4 dshka armed Toyota pickups that dot the entrance). The internal reception of that event in Yemen was disassociated from the US. Causally nothing the US did in Yemen (or the ongoing Iraq/Afghan imbroglios) justified it and thus the Yemeni’s (gov and people) could compartmentalise the episode. The fact that Yemenis died (including newlyweds) actually helped the government gain a degree of legitimacy (a miracle in itself) when its forces killed those concerned. Meanwhile, at the US embassy it was business as usual. “Damn it”, Moe Yemeni thought, “these people are practically immovable. Either I plan something awesome or I give up the idea altogether and go back to my hut and chew Qat”. So, yes, the closure was, in my unlearned eyes at least, a monumental failure in strategic communication/signalling.

Thirdly, we have a problem in defining the meaning of “Victory”/”Success”. We have NO common strategic vocabulary with our opponents (hell, we didn’t even have one with the Soviets during the Cold War, even though, ostensibly, they spoke “our language” culturally speaking...deterrence anyone?). Our metrics are qualitatively dissimilar/diametrically opposed. Our enemy’s metrics have been ably explored and explained by J. B. Cozzens, ‘Victory from the Prism of Jihadi Culture’, Joint Forces Quarterly, No. 59, 2009;

Metric 1 Victory can be understood as the perpetuity of fighting

Metric 2 Victory is found in obeying the obligation to fight Islam’s enemies, not in the outcome of battle.

Metric 3 The Institutionalisation [actually, rather more a case of the maintenance] of a culture of martyrdom is a victory.

Metric 4 Victory comes by pinpointing Islam’s enemies through the refining process of Jihad, and thus maintaining its identity.

Metric 5 Establishing pride, brotherhood and unity in the face of threats to the Ummah is a form of victory.

Metric 6 Creating a parity of suffering with Islam’s enemies- especially the Jews and crusaders-is a victory.

Metric 7 Victory is seen in the maladies afflicting God’s enemies, especially economic recession and natural disasters.

Metric 8 The presence of Miracles in Jihad foretells of Victory for the Mujahedeen

Metric 9 The promotion of the heroic template is itself victory.

The closing of the embassies is equivalent to what the social psychologist Albert Bandura called “vicarious reinforcement” (the actions of others, when seen to result in positive outcomes, Makes those actions appealing or reinforces such CoA). In terms of these metrics and the war of ideas our closing of embassies sends the wrong signals to our foes and means that, IMO, we lost this bout.

tequila
01-07-2010, 01:25 PM
1) A bodega is a Spanish slang term for a neighborhood corner store in the boroughs of New York City. More commonly used in the outer boroughs than in Manhattan, unless you're in Harlem or north of 110th St.

Secondly, lets examine things from the PoV of a Yemeni and how he would understand the chain of events (having actually lived there for nine months I think I am, respectfully, best placed to know how they think if only in limited form).

2) I lived in Iraq for 8 1/2 months, but I don't think I'm nearly as well tuned into the thoughts of the average Iraqi youth (as if there was such a thing) as you are into the Yemeni. I suppose I'll just have to take your word for it.

Stan
01-07-2010, 02:41 PM
Just some quick thoughts to clarify what I meant in the previous post...

Hey Tukhachevskii !
Quite a set of quick thoughts and a very nice post !

Permit me a short but precise response based on more than a decade in Embassy life in some of the most inhospitable places on earth...

Yes, we are to an extent culturally challenged when it comes to considering some subliminal message we're sending regardless of the action or event.

So what exactly happens in that fish bowl called an Embassy ?

Theoretically speaking a threat is received: The Country Team is mustered and the subject beaten to death and a show of hands.
"Stan, what say you?"
"Sounds off the mark, but I'm not willing to take responsibility for 500 that would perish if they blow the building, SIR !"
"RSO, what say you?" Dito, SIR !
And it goes from there 13 to 15 iterations of DITO and the decision is done.
The CMD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomatic_rank) makes the call, notifies DOS and the Embassy personnel and the building is closed, or operations limited for the prescribed length of time. Employees and expats are reminded to stay off the streets, etc.


Closing or limiting the Embassy's operations simply reduces US and local employee exposure. Riots and social upheaval are no fun, and the walls and windows around the embassy are not some sort of force field :rolleyes:


The closing of the embassies is equivalent to what the social psychologist Albert Bandura called “vicarious reinforcement” (the actions of others, when seen to result in positive outcomes, Makes those actions appealing or reinforces such CoA). In terms of these metrics and the war of ideas our closing of embassies sends the wrong signals to our foes and means that, IMO, we lost this bout.

I can only guess that Albert never served a day in a hostile environment responsible for the lives and well-being of others in an Embassy. I assure you that looking at your dismembered team members is far more horrific than some "loss of face" with the enemy...

... when they in fact scored zilch by blowing a building when nobody was home :rolleyes:

Bill Moore
01-07-2010, 04:43 PM
Posts by Tukhachevskii

lets examine things from the PoV of a Yemeni and how he would understand the chain of events (having actually lived there for nine months I think I am, respectfully, best placed to know how they think

I find this statement to be extreme and that is putting it lightly. I have lived overseas for many, many years in different countries and don't pretend to understand how the average anyone thinks. Based on post, the average Yemeni is a jihadist, which is highly doubtful. The average anybody simply doesn't give a flying hoot if a foreign embassy closes for a day. If you work in the Embassy you're confusing your issue with everyone's. I'm sure someone in Yemen was hurt in a vehicle accident today, outside their family and friends, no one cares. Oh my fellow pissant jihadis, the evil West has closed their embassies for "a day", so they could then hunt down and kill our operational cell, but darn it, they closed the Embassy for a day". I suspect the AVERAGE Yemeni couldn't give a flying hoot either way.

Our metrics are qualitatively dissimilar/diametrically opposed. Our enemy’s metrics have been ably explored and explained by J. B. Cozzens, ‘Victory from the Prism of Jihadi Culture’, Joint Forces Quarterly, No. 59, 2009;

Your point here is well taken, and it does seem to define one of our major theorical challenges since 9/11, but surely you're not suggesting we dance to their music? I advocate continuing to dance to our music instead by telling them to kiss off, we're going to live our lives the way we desire, and by the way, unlike these wingnuts, we value human life, so yes we'll take appropriate security measures while our security forces hunt them down and kill them. We're not conducting jihad, we're fighting those who are. And we sure as hell have demonstrated our courage as a nation on multiple occassions.

We risk our lives because of what we believe in, not because were cowards who cowardly commit suicide while killing innocents because they're looking for an easy way to paradise and virgins. Don't forget who the cowards really are.

Old Eagle
01-07-2010, 06:27 PM
I find the various points of view, based on diverse experiences, both amazing and enlightening. Because I am one of the Stan and Tom club, when I originally heard that the embassy was closing temporarily for force protection concerns, I didn't think twice about it. As someone else has already mentioned, we do it all the time, usually for valid reasons. Point to Stan -- sometimes it just becomes the default dedcision because nobody wants to be the one who allowed innocents to be killed.

As temporary measures, we sometimes reduce daily manning, limit or close some operations (e.g. consular, etc.), or lock the doors for a coupla days.

That our adversaries might pounce upon this process as a victory is unfortunate, but understandable. When our own armchair rear echelon weanies choose to make it into a political issue -- that really concerns me.

Ken White
01-07-2010, 07:48 PM
he ^ said... :cool:

Stan
01-07-2010, 09:56 PM
... and by the way, unlike these wingnuts, we value human life, so yes we'll take appropriate security measures while our security forces hunt them down and kill them.

Bill, I gotta tell ya, that Sierra gave me goosebumps! When the nominations roll in for Ken at the White House and best sentence of the year... You da man :cool:

I find the various points of view, based on diverse experiences, both amazing and enlightening.

Colonel, where in creation is Rocky Mtn Empire? Is that like abroad :eek:

Regards, Stan

Fuchs
01-07-2010, 11:31 PM
This "in our world everything is fine, so there is no problem" doesn't bend reality for the 95% people who read the Yemen embassy news.

The answer to the thread title may be a weak "no". The widespread impression appears to be the opposite, though. That's what counts in regard to info war.


"We lost no battle in Vietnam!" - "So what?"

slapout9
01-08-2010, 12:27 AM
I find the various points of view, based on diverse experiences, both amazing and enlightening. Because I am one of the Stan and Tom club, when I originally heard that the embassy was closing temporarily for force protection concerns, I didn't think twice about it. As someone else has already mentioned, we do it all the time, usually for valid reasons. Point to Stan -- sometimes it just becomes the default dedcision because nobody wants to be the one who allowed innocents to be killed.

As temporary measures, we sometimes reduce daily manning, limit or close some operations (e.g. consular, etc.), or lock the doors for a coupla days.

That our adversaries might pounce upon this process as a victory is unfortunate, but understandable. When our own armchair rear echelon weanies choose to make it into a political issue -- that really concerns me.

Because of today's world we live in we lock down High Schools in our own country all the time when the situation demands it......what's the big deal about locking down an Embassy in a half hostile/half friendly country half way around the world:confused:

Tukhachevskii
01-08-2010, 09:19 AM
Based on post, the average Yemeni is a jihadist, which is highly doubtful. The average anybody simply doesn't give a flying hoot if a foreign embassy closes for a day. I suspect the AVERAGE Yemeni couldn't give a flying hoot either way.


We risk our lives because of what we believe in, not because were cowards who cowardly commit suicide while killing innocents because they're looking for an easy way to paradise and virgins. Don't forget who the cowards really are.

Sir,

I appreciate yours, and everyone else's, comments. Forgive me for taking a rather "high and mighty tone" with the learned and most experienced members of the SWC (unfortunately that is a hazard of our medium) but unfortunately my post was written on the back of a simultaneous argument I was having whilst on the phone! The comments were based upon meetings I had with Yemeni's from various strata of society (though usually village folk). Anyway, I think one of the problems when examining Islamic/Islamist conflicts/warriors, for me at least, is that we assume that there are jihadists and non-jihadists when, IMO (and IMO only), the "jihadist" phenomena is really a question of a "spectrum/continuum of adherance"; jihad is a universal obligation upon Muslims but just why, where, how, and for whom a Muslim becomes an actualised "jihadi" is case dependant. AQ and other organisations are mutually imbricated or rather are interpenetrated with other networks (tribal, social, ethnic, sectarian) and are able to tap into existing preconceptions, greivances, &c. AQ may exist at the fringes of the wider Islamic social system but it draws its strength from the centre...

As for our percieved cowardice and the routine closure of embassies etc. my comments were specifically aimed at Yemen and further more the notion that the "enemy gets a vote" and that "war is a contest of wills" and the related concepts of perception management &c. The entire thrust of the point I was attempting to make, and which seemingly failed monumentally, was based upon the following assumption from an article by Harold D.Lasswell, "The Strategy of Soviet Propaganda", Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science, Vol. 24, No. 2, (Jan., 1951)

[/QUOTE]Political propaganda is the management of mass communications for power purposes. In the long run the aim is to economize the material cost of power.[/QUOTE]

I was attempting to make a point about not having to un-necessarily add to the enemies arrayed against us by at least economising our matierial power with ideological/psychological/informational power (i.e., not appearing weaker, and thus a tempting target, where we don't need to). Nonetheless, good points all round and I hope I write clearer posts in future,

Regards,

T

marct
01-08-2010, 02:01 PM
Hi Tukhachevskii,

I was attempting to make a point about not having to un-necessarily add to the enemies arrayed against us by at least economising our matierial power with ideological/psychological/informational power (i.e., not appearing weaker, and thus a tempting target, where we don't need to). Nonetheless, good points all round and I hope I write clearer posts in future,

Obviously I can't speak for Bill who, I believe, most of this post was sent to, but I did want to comment on a few things.

As you noted, the medium we are using can cause difficulties with communicating our actual intentions. There are two other things that cause difficulties. First, the medium, despite emoticons, really doesn't allow us to convey a lot of emotional tonality which, in English at least, is responsible for a lot of the contextual meaning of a particular message. Second, we are talking about highly emotionally charged issues, which makes it even more difficult since the medium restricts / reduces the emotional content of our signals.

Or, to quote that great philosopher Stan - "Sierra happens" ;)!

Personally, I happen to agree with your position and, especially, your comments about jihad being a continuum. I also believe that we (the west broadly construed) and the irhabi are fighting totally different wars, with the bulk of their perceived AO being in the construction of perceptions for both global and local market places.

I suspect that we (the posters on this thread) will continue to disagree on what should have been done in this case, but as long as we can agree to disagree, then things should work out. Who knows, we may all be wrong :D!

Cheers,

Marc

Bill Moore
01-08-2010, 05:14 PM
Posted by Tukhachevskii, I appreciate yours, and everyone else's, comments. Forgive me for taking a rather "high and mighty tone" with the learned and most experienced members of the SWC (unfortunately that is a hazard of our medium) but unfortunately my post was written on the back of a simultaneous argument I was having whilst on the phone!

No worries, this is a forum for adults to free fire within reason, and you'll note several heated debates as you look through previous other discussions, especially when it came to EBO, drug wars, Iraq, etc. Disagreement does NOT equate to disrespect, and there is no need for an apologies among brothers and sisters in this community of interest. Clarifications are always useful, and I find that discussing a topic here actually helps me clarify my position. What's great is if you keep an open mind, you may find that some of your positions may change (my have) based on discussions here. Since most of us have limited time we frequently post quickly without choosing our words carefully (at least I do).

Hell, I even had fellow member that I respect greatly accuse me of smoking crack on a previous discussion, so we all have our moments. For the record I have never smoked crack. :D

I do enjoy a few cold ones every once in awhile.

slapout9
01-08-2010, 07:02 PM
Disagreement does equate to disrespect, and there is no need for an apologies among brothers and sisters in this community of interest.

Bill, don't you mean Disagreement DOES NOT equate to disrespect?

I told you about smoking that stuff:D:D:D