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Thread: Assessing Al-Qaeda (merged thread)

  1. #201
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default AQ Central shrinking, ISIS growing

    Two analysts review AQ's future, both co-operate so there is some overlap.

    First, CWOT aka Clint Watts (SWC member), in Part Four of his review:http://www.fpri.org/geopoliticus/201...unterterrorism

    Rather than punishing ISIS and regaining authority over the global jihad, Zawahiri and al Qaeda may soon become the second largest jihadist organization in the world. Angered by Zawahiri’s betrayal and admiring of ISIS commitment to pursue an Islamic state, what were once thought to be al Qaeda Central affiliates are openly declaring allegiance to ISIS emir Baghdadi.
    There is a lot there to take in, so a comment another day.

    Second, J.M. Berger of Intelwire.com, has a chart (as below) and a short explanation of how this evolved:http://news.intelwire.com/2014/03/al...es-update.html

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    Default Global Terrorism Set to Reignite

    http://www.realclearworld.com/articl..._reignite.html

    Some interesting comments from an Indian and Indonesian CT practitioner. While not stating it directly, their arguments give support to the emergence and spread of Al-Qaedaism.

    We see plenty of signs indicating a resurgence of terrorism in SE Asia, and of course India is justifiably concerned about a surge of terrorism in India within two years of our departure from Afghanistan.

    Talking to both Ali and Doval gives a kind of stereoscopic depth of view to the re-emerging terror threat. They share key concerns: what is happening in Syria, what will soon happen in Afghanistan, the growing popularity of al-Qa'ida ideology in North Africa and the Middle East and the deep strategic planning of jihadist networks.
    "Al-Qa'ida doesn't have to seek them out. Quite the reverse. Sometimes it rejects them.

    "But this acceptance by all these groups of al-Qa'ida as the ideological hub is extremely important. Al-Qa'ida doesn't have a local agenda, it only has a local geography. Its agenda is global."

  3. #203
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Perfect Storm: The Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War

    A short commentary by Bruce Hoffman on the SITE website 'Perfect Storm: The Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War':http://news.siteintelgroup.com/blog/...rian-civil-war

    It reminds us that it is not Jihadist attacks, terrorism or actions that are the primary threat, it is the message and it is spreading (a point that has appeared elsewhere on SWC this week).
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    A short commentary by Bruce Hoffman on the SITE website 'Perfect Storm: The Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War':http://news.siteintelgroup.com/blog/...rian-civil-war

    It reminds us that it is not Jihadist attacks, terrorism or actions that are the primary threat, it is the message and it is spreading (a point that has appeared elsewhere on SWC this week).
    Excellent piece by Bruce Hoffman, thanks for sharing.

    I'm not sure I follow your commentary though, a message alone doesn't threaten us, it is the actions taken by the Jihadists that threaten us. The message came first, and now the message interacts with the actions in many ways to make it more appealing to those thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands, who are interested in and identify with the message. A lot of people were interested in, and identified with Christianity also, but that message didn't threaten us, because people usually didn't act out violently because of the message (though one can argue that point).

    The fact that the message resonates despite a collective "our" best efforts to weaken it should definitely cause concern. As Bruce points out the impact of social media on the ability to get their message out is important.

    The advantages of the new social media to terrorists are manifold. Ease, interactivity and networking, reach, frequency, usability, stability, immediacy, publicity, and permanence are benefits reaped by those terrorist groups exploiting and harnessing these new technologies. A new generation of celebrity fighters is also being created, heralded and extolled in a familiar vernacular to Facebook friends and Twitter followers throughout the world.
    His comments on their attempt to produce chemical weapons was interesting also. Not surprising since AQ leadership has expressed desire to obtain WMD for many years, but with the assumption that some of the scientists who helped Syria and Iraq develop their chemical weapons joined the jihadist movement the risk is greater that they will succeed in acquiring an actual chemical weapon. How effectively can they employ it? That is still an unanswered question.

    in May 2013 Turkish authorities reportedly seized two kilos of sarin nerve gas—the same weapon used in the 1995 attack on the Tokyo subway system—and arrested twelve men linked to al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al Nusra. Only days later, another set of sarin-related arrests was made in Iraq of ISIS operatives overseeing the production at two factories of both sarin and mustard blistering agents.
    Favorite quotes from the article:

    Wishful thinking
    And, the longing for democracy and economic reform across North Africa and the Middle East that the same optimists enthused had decisively trumped repression and violence.
    Reality
    Despite having suffered the greatest onslaught directed against a terrorist organization in history, al-Qaeda’s ideology and brand has nonetheless prospered.
    It is time to rethink this challenge with a clean slate and without the biases of political correctness or Islam phobia.

  5. #205
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    It's time to recognize that this has always been about coercing political change where change was needed, but where those in power had no inclination to do so, and offered no effective legal means for evolution of governance to the people affected by their governance.

    It has been about leveraging the active or latent energy for revolution resident within population groups perceiving themselves oppressed by some blend of formal or informal, foreign or domestic systems of governance.

    Syria is not distinct from "Arab Spring"; And Arab Spring is not distinct from the Constitutional Revolutions in Turkey and Iran 100 years ago.

    It has never been about religion, that is just what defines the teams of revolution, just as it has defined the teams of the governance and populations leading up to revolution.

    Being a shirt or a skin tells you what basketball team you are on - but it isn't why you play basketball. We focus on the wrong factors, draw the wrong conclusions, and expend ourselves supporting the wrong causes and flailing away at the symptoms.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    IMO Dr.Hoffman brings a distorted perspective, as he views revolution and UW through the lenses of the ideologies espoused and the tactics applied by the participants. He is clearly an expert on the trees - but I believe he is far off base in his understanding of the ecosystem of the forest. Unable to see the forest for the trees.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Mr. Hoffman produced a fine article. He writes very well and covered three of the main points, money from rich Gulf Arabs, safe haven and sanctuary and social media. The ironic thing about all that to me is all three can be looked at as being the result of Western sufferance.

    For example, Twitter knows full well their business is being used to promote and strengthen people who would destroy them and their loved ones but allow it to continue because they don't want to look bad. The rich Gulf Arabs are rich because the West gives them money for oil that could not be produced, and couldn't have been produced, without Western tech and know how. The House of Saud didn't get rich because they were outstanding petroleum engineers. And to cite one example, AQ central has existed because the Pak Army/ISI has allowed them sanctuary for many years and we never moved to stop that. We never even tried.

    Historians of the future will puzzle over this. How could we have abided the strengthening and growth of those who would destroy us for so long when so many sources of their strength were...us?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  8. #208
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    It has never been about religion, that is just what defines the teams of revolution, just as it has defined the teams of the governance and populations leading up to revolution.
    No, I think you're very wrong. When you ask a guy why he is doing something and he says Allah commands it, I figure you should take him at his word. It is about religion. When he proclaims to the world as loud as he can and as often as he can that what he has done, is doing and will do is because his religious beliefs command it, it is not wise to disregard what he says.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  9. #209
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Carl, you are in good company. But then, so were all of the passengers of the Titanic.

    As I said, Dr. Hoffman is clearly an expert on the facts. I have studied his professional work and he is also an expert on the perspectives of historical experts who have studied and written on this topic. I have discussed these things with him personally. You can draw comfort from the fact that he believes I am wrong every bit as much as you do.

    But this is 2014, and we now must consider old case studies and perspective in the context of the strategic environment of the day. Some do not think that is an important distinction. I do. I also recognize that there is a tremendous bias written into the works of agents of colonial or containment powers as they discussed how they worked to suppress local, violent challenges to the policies and actions of those powers, and also to the local national governments created or adopted by those powers to advance the interests of the great powers and those local leaders OVER the interests of the people who actually lived in those places. This is my own bias, but I believe it is validated by the facts.

    So, Carl, noted, I fully recognize that Dr. Hoffman's article is factually correct and well written. I fully note that you think I am wrong.

    Now, (God bless American and our freedoms to debate openly and to hold diverse opinions), let me be clear. I believe that Dr. Hoffman's conclusions are far off the mark as to how he assesses those facts as to why they occur and what they mean.

    Our CT efforts have only sniped at the symptoms of the organizations that have emerged to draw upon the energy long resident in the populations they operate among. In most cases, actions that have suppressed symptoms have been done in a manner that actually put MORE energy into they system, rather that working to resolve the problem.

    So I stand by my statements without reservation. This is about populations who perceive their situation to be unfair and intolerable under the systems of governance that affect their lives. This is equally about systems of governance that are unable or unwilling to make the small, reasonable changes necessary to bleed the negative energy from the system.

    When these conditions exist, leaders will emerge to organize individuals (who join for a host of reasons) for action. Smart leaders pick an ideology and narrative that resonates with their target audience.

    Lenin targeted urban populations and used workers reform to topple the Tsars.

    Mao, Ho and other in agricultural Asia used land reform to topple the colonial powers and the large land owners.

    Neither of those approaches work in the arid, nomadic lands occupied by the Muslim populations of the Middle East. Communism was tried in Saudi Arabia and flopped. But religion works. This is why religion is used to advance challenges to governance. Because it works. Religion defines their lives. It defines who is in power and who is out of power; who does well under a system of governance and who suffers. Therefore it defines the teams when political challenge occurs - both legal and formal; or illegal and informal.

    This is the way these types of conflicts have always been. It is human nature. But now human nature plays out in the modern information connected and empowered environment of the modern age. Governance is much harder in general. Imposing highly biased and divisive governance, or governance perceived as lacking legitimacy in the eyes of segments of the population it affects is becoming nearly impossible.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 07-10-2014 at 01:40 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Please spare us the extremes of the governance model, it applies when it applies and it doesn't apply in all cases. It is a bit extreme to imply that al-Qaeda is pushing for "needed" change, or that religion has nothing to do with it.

    Nonsense, if you change the government in most these countries and install what you believe to be legitimate government al-Qaeda will still exist and target that government for not embracing Sharia law, if you take religion away al-Qaeda can't exist. Furthermore, you can't separate governance and Islam, the religion dictates the form of governance one should apply.

    In this case you're looking at the wrong forest. This isn't about good versus evil governance, or ineffective versus effective governance, both sides in these conflicts are led by tyrants. In the real world different interest groups compete, often violently, there are few cases in the Middle East and Africa with the current state boundaries that peace is possible without the state using what we would consider excessive coercive power. In time other political arrangements may be possible, but not in the near term.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Please spare us the extremes of the governance model, it applies when it applies and it doesn't apply in all cases. It is a bit extreme to imply that al-Qaeda is pushing for "needed" change, or that religion has nothing to do with it.

    Nonsense, if you change the government in most these countries and install what you believe to be legitimate government al-Qaeda will still exist and target that government for not embracing Sharia law, if you take religion away al-Qaeda can't exist. Furthermore, you can't separate governance and Islam, the religion dictates the form of governance one should apply.

    In this case you're looking at the wrong forest. This isn't about good versus evil governance, or ineffective versus effective governance, both sides in these conflicts are led by tyrants. In the real world different interest groups compete, often violently, there are few cases in the Middle East and Africa with the current state boundaries that peace is possible without the state using what we would consider excessive coercive power. In time other political arrangements may be possible, but not in the near term.
    Bill---tend to disagree---if one looks at religion ie the Sunni/Shia divide there is more ongoing right now that we are not "seeing" in the West and it is all about governance.

    The Sunni philosophy has been all about governance over the last 1400 years and the different forms of Sunni global community governance and believe it or not the Shia have philosophically not engaged in the conversation for whatever reasons over the last 1400 thus Iran ends up with their theocratic religious definition of Shia governance.

    In some aspect the Sunni governance debate has been opened by none other than al Baghdadi and the IS with their Caliphate declaration and now the internal weakness of Islam is showing itself.

    If one looks at the Sunni religious emirs---those learned scholars of the Koran and Scharia and just about any major Sunni religious leader---even down to he local level can have and can voice his opinions thus one can have up to say seven/eight or nine different interpretations of the same Islamic materials---which we are now seeing occurring---say an Jordanian view, a Qatari view, and a KSA view not to exclude the various jihadi group views.

    Finally we are getting a healthy discourse on the concept of Caliphate which at it's heart is about what type of governance is to be used for the Islamic global community.

    Once that is out of the way just maybe the same senior religious leaders from the above governments will turn to the interpretations of the Koran as voiced by the Salafists and the Takfiri's.

    Islam needs a Reformation badly but there is no central religious leader that all Muslim's look toward for guidance.
    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 07-10-2014 at 03:57 PM.

  12. #212
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Bill,

    It is not nonsense. You calling someone else's professional, informed and supported position nonsense does not make it nonsense.

    I would offer that you are looking more at the surface facts of a particular case whereas I am looking more at the fundamental nature of conflict. That does not make your position "nonsense," it is just a position on a different aspect of the problem.

    Religion has always been a powerful tool of governance, equally to the challenge of governance. Why? Because it works. Many would argue that this is why religion was invented to begin with. I suspect that more accurately, political leaders have long recognized the value and have hi-jacked it for their own far more earthly purposes since the very beginning.

    So no, I am not "looking at the wrong forest" - I am simply looking beyond the "what" and seeking to appreciate the "why."

    But, since there are no governance problems in the places where AQ has been most effective, I will stand down.

    Since the governments of those regions do not discriminate against the population groups that AQ has been leveraging, I will stand down.

    Since the governments of the region allow open debate of governance and provide effective mechanisms within the context of their respective cultures to allow legal and peaceful evolution of governance I will stand down.

    But of course none of those things are true about the governance in this hotly contested region where AQ operates. And as I stated clearly, Islam affects everything in that region and is a cornerstone of all governance.

    But this isn't about how people feel about how religion is affecting their lives, it is about how they feel about how governance is affecting their lives.

    My last point is that revolution is rarely, if ever, to bring better governance. Revolution is to challenge governance widely perceived as intolerable with no legal means of redress. For this reason revolutionary energy is often hi-jacked by locals with self-serving purposes; and equally by foreigners with self-serving purposes. This is the nature of revolution.

    We focus too much on the hi-jackers; the tactics they employ, and the messages they use. We would be better served by focusing on understanding the perspectives of the populations being leveraged, and dealing with the systems of governance fueling those perspectives through their actions.

    The problem is that one of the most important systems of governance fueling this is our own.

    Most of the other systems of governance fueling this are our allies or partners.

    So we do what governments faced with revolution typically do - we set out to put down those who dare to challenge the status quo and hope to get back to business as usual. The people are tired of business as usual, and AQ gets that very well and is tapping into that energy to advance their own agenda.

    And I have never said this is about good or evil, or about effective or ineffective. It is about how people feel, and who they blame. And many are not putting up with it any more and they are blaming their governments at home and those who enable those governments to ignore their pleas for reasonable change. When governments are unreasonable, then ultimately the people will become unreasonable as well.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 07-10-2014 at 04:15 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Bob,

    When you write,

    It has never been about religion, that is just what defines the teams of revolution, just as it has defined the teams of the governance and populations leading up to revolution.
    I think you're off base, especially when you go on to state that religion is what defines the teams! In war you have teams, and the identity the teams form around matters a lot. Without that identity there wouldn't be teams, and possibly no war. Are there other factors, of course, and you aren't the only one looking beyond local context. Clausewitz's trilogy and Thucydides' fear, honor, and interest are concepts about war that still endure. The government is part of the trilogy and it plays a role when it is an actor, but in some conflicts, conflicts between non-state actors the government is not the most relevant actor. In the current fight, whatever we call it, revolution, jihad, terrorism, etc. if you take religion out of the equation AQ, AQism, Jihad, etc. will no longer exist. If people still feel compelled to rise up against the state, and each other, they'll have to find another issue to identify with.

    You wrote the following, and while true to some degree, they're also of limited relevance to AQ.

    But, since there are no governance problems in the places where AQ has been most effective, I will stand down.

    Since the governments of those regions do not discriminate against the population groups that AQ has been leveraging, I will stand down.

    Since the governments of the region allow open debate of governance and provide effective mechanisms within the context of their respective cultures to allow legal and peaceful evolution of governance I will stand down.
    AQism motivated extremists are not going to impose "better" governance that fix any of these shortfalls you addressed, and they have excessively discriminating tastes. Talk about a high maintenance date, one that I doubt the majority of people are eagerly seeking to go out with, but governments that can't protect them leave little option. That is one part of good governance you seem to avoid. If AQism linked groups ever lose their ability to impose their will through coercion I suspect they'll rapidly be rolled back by a frustrated population.

    While the good governance argument certainly has merit, the U.S. is not capable of fixing dysfunctional governments in foreign states, so it doesn't provide with viable strategic options. This isn't necessarily a problem that has a solution, but one that needs to be managed to keep the threat our national interests at a reasonable level.

    But this isn't about how people feel about how religion is affecting their lives, it is about how they feel about how governance is affecting their lives.
    In some cases yes, in others the government is irrelevant, such as in the sectarian violence. Also foreign fighters rallying to join the jihad in Syria isn't about them acting out against their host governments, instead they are rallying to support their identity group, which by the way is based on religion. They're not identifying with freedom fighters, communism, anarchists, or any other secular group. Is religion relevant? It is not only relevant it is crucial in this fight.

    My last point is that revolution is rarely, if ever, to bring better governance. Revolution is to challenge governance widely perceived as intolerable with no legal means of redress. For this reason revolutionary energy is often hi-jacked by locals with self-serving purposes; and equally by foreigners with self-serving purposes. This is the nature of revolution.
    Yes, sometimes revolutions are hijacked and other times their joined. This isn't about a freedom movement being hijacked by extremists in Iraq, in Syria maybe it was. The nature of revolution has little to do with good governance once it starts, the winner is whatever side can more skillfully employ coercive power at the end of the day. Not in a decisive way, but in a long drawn out way to wear out the other side's will to resist. Then again, since in some cases like Syria where is no apparent compromise since Assad and Alawites are fighting for their lives, and Iran is fighting for its national interests, there is zero hope "good governance" can be established at this point by any side. The country's false borders need to redrawn, not by us, but by the people.

    The problem is that one of the most important systems of governance fueling this is our own.

    Most of the other systems of governance fueling this are our allies or partners
    .

    There is some truth to this, again without specifics on what governments can realistically do to reform in a way that would be meaningful it means little.

    so we do what governments faced with revolution typically do - we set out to put down those who dare to challenge the status quo and hope to get back to business as usual. The people are tired of business as usual, and AQ gets that very well and is tapping into that energy to advance their own agenda.
    So when Saudi and Jordan start to experience increasing levels of violence as the movement spreads should we promote change by supporting the extremists, or help the less than perfect governments stay in power? What are the other options that are realistic?

    And I have never said this is about good or evil, or about effective or ineffective. It is about how people feel, and who they blame. And many are not putting up with it any more and they are blaming their governments at home and those who enable those governments to ignore their pleas for reasonable change. When governments are unreasonable, then ultimately the people will become unreasonable as well.
    What reasonable change is being proposed? Both sides are beyond reasonable, and it is beyond the point where you can put the conflict in reverse and get back to the opportunity for reasonable change. The pleas now are for protection. We don't have good options, we have options that are less bad than others. Sitting back and telling governments to reform won't work, we have been trying that for decades. Allowing AQ linked groups to be victorious is not in our interest.

    I think your arguments are most relevant to the left of bang, but become less relevant after the situation implodes.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 07-11-2014 at 02:54 AM.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    When people define the problem in the context of the religion of the participants, they are not only superficial in their analysis - they create a problem with no solution other than genocide or pure suppression of one party by the other.

    But that is not how the wars of Christian Reformation ended (wars to throw off the control of the Holy Roman Empire by Western Europeans, ending at Westphalia).

    And that is not how the "Protestant vs Catholic" conflict (resistance insurgency waged by Catholic Irish against their Protestant British occupiers) is resolving either.

    Why? Because ultimately these types of conflicts are about governance and power. Those who wish to wield power understand full well that few things work better than religion to motivate those fed up with existing governance to act out illegally for change.

    Shirts vs skins. It isn't why we play the game - its how we define the teams.

    Get past this impossible framing of the problem, and then maybe we can get past silly ideas that simply killing the leaders (CT) or bribing the people (pop-centric) can lead to a durable acceptance of the status quo of governance. The status quo is the problem. If those who keep that status quo refuse to make wise and reasonable refinements, then those promoting radical change will lead the people to blow that intolerable status quo out.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    When people define the problem in the context of the religion of the participants, they are not only superficial in their analysis - they create a problem with no solution other than genocide or pure suppression of one party by the other.

    But that is not how the wars of Christian Reformation ended (wars to throw off the control of the Holy Roman Empire by Western Europeans, ending at Westphalia).

    And that is not how the "Protestant vs Catholic" conflict (resistance insurgency waged by Catholic Irish against their Protestant British occupiers) is resolving either.

    Why? Because ultimately these types of conflicts are about governance and power. Those who wish to wield power understand full well that few things work better than religion to motivate those fed up with existing governance to act out illegally for change.

    Shirts vs skins. It isn't why we play the game - its how we define the teams.

    Get past this impossible framing of the problem, and then maybe we can get past silly ideas that simply killing the leaders (CT) or bribing the people (pop-centric) can lead to a durable acceptance of the status quo of governance. The status quo is the problem. If those who keep that status quo refuse to make wise and reasonable refinements, then those promoting radical change will lead the people to blow that intolerable status quo out.
    Only criticism of the current approach, no realistic recommendations for alternative approaches. For one that recommends we stop relying on history, you seem to be clinging to it, and conveniently conflating the Reformation with the current conflict to fit your model. While there are similarities, that doesn't mean there are parallels.

    As you once said, anyone can criticize, but it takes a little, or a lot more, to come up with realistic alternative strategies. The call for good governance without a roadmap on how we're supposed to enable that is not an alternative to what we're doing now.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Bill,

    I am not criticizing the current approach, I am merely pointing out that it is based more upon our Western interpretation of history, framing governance conflicts in religious terms, rather than appreciating the nature of these conflicts for what they more accurately are.

    As to offering solutions, I have published and presented on this routinely. As these are not truly military problems, the solutions are not military solutions. Reframing the problem helps us to begin to reframe solutions. Once this is done the supporting tasks for the military will quickly emerge. We have to get past the idea that one must defeat the threat to the status quo first with the military prior to civilian governance officials tidying up behind. Governance reform must lead.

    We actually see a de facto reform of US foreign policy taking place. The changes are largely positive IMO, but because their is no articulated theory for why they are making those changes and no articulated strategy to frame the context of what we are likely to do or not do, it is creating massive uncertainty for US Foe, Ally and Partner alike. The American people as well.

    To cling to the approaches of the past, as many draw comfort from and encourage, as they criticize the current administration, can only lead to failure. To simply send out the military to beat down and prop up polices that have expired in the context of the world we live in today is folly.

    A new National Security Strategy should be coming out soon. I hope it is dramatically more pragmatic than the family of post Cold War strategies we have attempted to live by in recent years. I hope it is more than vague, fluffy hand waves and platitudes.

    But read my published piece on a recommendation for a new Grand Strategy rooted in the concepts that FDR planned to implement had he survived.

    Read my published piece on a way ahead for Afghanistan focused on stepping back from attempting to prop up the government we created, and a mix of reconciliation, supporting the development of a replacement of the current destructively failed Afghan constitution with one more in tune with the culture and trust issues of the region; and being more pragmatic about working with whatever government emerges rather than thinking we need to shape who the winners or losers are.

    I give too many solutions frankly, and am working more now on simply helping people to step back and think about the problem more clearly and then working out better solutions for themselves.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  17. #217
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    When people define the problem in the context of the religion of the participants, they are not only superficial in their analysis - they create a problem with no solution other than genocide or pure suppression of one party by the other.
    This is a very important view. It recognizes the horror of religious conflict, but that is not why the statement is important. It is important because I think the recognition of the horror that religious conflict results in may affect our ability to realize when the enemy is embarked upon a course that intentionally seeks to start a religious war. Because it is such a horrible thing doesn't mean it can't come and it doesn't mean some people don't desire it and seek to provoke it. AQI intentionally tried to do that once before in Iraq. It can happen and has happened and therefore it is important that we realize this and believe it to be when it comes.

    The problem with Bob's World's statement above is it appears to so dread the possibility that somebody wants to kill me or you because of religion that it refuses to recognize that that possibility exists. It seems such a strong fear of a thing that denial of its existence is the only emotionally acceptable recourse. We must accept the reality that the other guy can define the conflict upon the basis of religion so we can see it for what it is when it comes. And it has come. We don't seek to define this as a religious conflict. They do. We do ourselves no favors by denying what is.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    In many locations where there are conflicts a reasonable change in governance would do much to alleviate the hostility. In the deeply divided country of Iraq political changes are a must for any chance of progress. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I see little reason to believe there can be a one Iraq solution, and instead we'll see a formal or informal division of Iraq into at least three ethnic enclaves. Even if that happens it won't appease IS I who desire to impose a caliphate throughout the entire region based on their interpretation of Islam. That problem is very much a military problem unless the majority will peacefully accept their rule, which isn't possible. At this point in our discussion I think there are political aspects for the Iraq problems that need to be addressed, and if they're not any military action will only achieve short term effects, but at the end of the day military action will be needed against the IS I.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Carl,

    Who are "They"?

    You are right that "they" in charge of ISIS, ISIL, Muslim Brotherhood, AQ, etc. choose to define the conflict in religious terms. As I have often said, this is the smartest and most effective way to recruit citizens to serve as guerrillas, as an underground, and as an auxiliary (in US doctrinal terms) in support of their agenda. But even those three broad groupings of the population only make up a small portion of Sunni populations of the greater Middle East and the entire planet writ large.

    I suspect the majority of Sunni believe strongly that the governance they live under must change; but that a much smaller percentage believe they must act out illegally to effect that change; and a much smaller percentage still that believe that the future governance they should replace their current governance with is that extreme Islamist version is espoused by the "they" you seem so concerned about. The much larger "they" simply want fair opportunity, justice under the law, and reasonably evolved rights more in tune with the environment of the current day.

    The Sunni revolutionary insurgencies are in full swing and will continue to play out. The most likely (and best, IMO) outcome in Syria and Iraq is a fragmentation into new states defined much more by common culture and heritage than by the desires and interests of Western imperialists.

    It looks to me that the leadership of the Gulf States (where the revolution will spread to next if those governments to not stop simply attempting to buy down their populations with oil money), are conducting UW with various Sunni groups in Syria and Iraq to facilitate the formation of a Sunni state (or states) there. It looks like the US either tacitly or covertly supports that play.

    No one knows what the future will bring, but most should be able to see that the current framework of governance in the region where the states of Iraq and Syria currently burn is untenable. The US does not need to control this, and any efforts to do so will not only be likely to fail, but will also only validate the #1 rationale employed by AQ and others to motivate their target audience to conducts acts of transnational terrorism against the US and the West.

    Mitigate, shape, develop lines of influence - yes to all. But the more we attempt to control the less of all three of those more critical factors we will have.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 07-12-2014 at 03:17 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  20. #220
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    This is a very important view. It recognizes the horror of religious conflict, but that is not why the statement is important. It is important because I think the recognition of the horror that religious conflict results in may affect our ability to realize when the enemy is embarked upon a course that intentionally seeks to start a religious war. Because it is such a horrible thing doesn't mean it can't come and it doesn't mean some people don't desire it and seek to provoke it. AQI intentionally tried to do that once before in Iraq. It can happen and has happened and therefore it is important that we realize this and believe it to be when it comes.

    The problem with Bob's World's statement above is it appears to so dread the possibility that somebody wants to kill me or you because of religion that it refuses to recognize that that possibility exists. It seems such a strong fear of a thing that denial of its existence is the only emotionally acceptable recourse. We must accept the reality that the other guy can define the conflict upon the basis of religion so we can see it for what it is when it comes. And it has come. We don't seek to define this as a religious conflict. They do. We do ourselves no favors by denying what is.
    I think your right carl,
    One has to ask why are we afraid to face this? It is a religious war, the goal is to hurt America anyway possible. I am sure there are other motives to go along with this but it seems to be the primary mover. Political Correctness is going to destroy this country, it prevents the discussion of reality. What a propaganda win for the PC crowd, they have completely destroyed our ability to think as a Nation in order to defend ourselves and never fired a shot. Anything that violates the love boat foreign policy is not even considered no matter obvious it has become.

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