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Thread: Should we destroy Al Qaeda?

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Should we destroy Al Qaeda?

    In a recent Foreign Policy article, Gustavo de las Casas contends Destroying al Qaeda is not an option, yet. This discussion is found in different threads throughout SWC, and Mr. Casas makes a compelling case to keep them around.

    The old al Qaeda is no more. At least 40 percent of its leadership circa 2001 has either been killed or captured. New faces have fared no better; since July 2008, 11 of the organization's 20 most wanted have been put out of commission. And middle management is almost gone, many of them victims of Predator strikes. What remains is probably a hollow organization, represented by a core of insulated figureheads, such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, surrounded by eager cadres of jihadist newcomers. Before long, the West may just hold a barrel to al Qaeda's collective forehead. Should it press the trigger?

    Gut instinct and righteousness scream "yes!" But a better answer might be "not yet." The world would be wise to keep al Qaeda alive, paradoxically enough, for security reasons. Like it or not, keeping a battered al Qaeda intact (if weak) is the world's best hope of funneling Islamist fanatics into one social network -- where they stand the best chance of being spotted, tracked, and contained. The alternative, destroying the terrorist group, would risk fragmenting al Qaeda into thousands of cells, and these will be much harder to follow and impossible to eradicate. It's the counterterrorist's dilemma, and the only real choice is the least unsavory: Al Qaeda must live.
    I really enjoyed his article, but I'm still not swayed. My rebuttal goes back to the fundamentals of insurgency theory relying mainly on Mao's protracted war. Insurgencies and terrorist groups need several things:

    1. Ideology- something to validate their worldview and actions
    2. People- technical bomb experts, grunts, suicide bombers, etc
    3. Guns
    4. Money

    If AQ fractures, then funding sources, recruiting bases, technical skills, and support networks and infrastructure decline thus diminishing the capabilities of follow-on organizations. Moreover, competition amoungst groups would cause additional infighting and diminished capabilities.

    That's my take. Any thoughts?

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeF; 11-12-2009 at 03:33 AM.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    MikeF,This is actually an old LE technique used against organized crime. They put John Gotti away for life but lhis son was kept out(except for a couple of short sentences) as a lightning rod to draw what ever is left of the support network to a known entity so they can be monitored and neutralized. Has an upside and a downside. Best thing is to destroy AQ and seize any finacial assets available IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    I really enjoyed his article, but I'm still not swayed. My rebuttal goes back to the fundamentals of insurgency theory relying mainly on Mao's protracted war. Insurgencies and terrorist groups need several things:

    1. Ideology- something to validate their worldview and actions
    2. People- technical bomb experts, grunts, suicide bombers, etc
    3. Guns
    4. Money

    If AQ fractures, then funding sources, recruiting bases, technical skills, and support networks and infrastructure decline thus diminishing the capabilities of follow-on organizations. Moreover, competition amoungst groups would cause additional infighting and diminished capabilities.

    That's my take. Any thoughts?
    I disagree that "funding sources, recruiting bases, technical skills, and support networks and infrastructure decline." Rather, I think they will just do what the author asserts - they will shift to another social network that we have less knowledge about.

    In regard to competition among groups and infighting, I think that is another reason to keep AQ. If they are around, the new kids on the block will seek to knock of AQ. It is easier to glean intelligence of a group that is fighting against a network that you know (we might be able to gain intel from AQ - we'd be the enemy of their enemy). In fact, we did exactly that on occasion in Iraq.

    Also, at this point AQ is a well-known organization with a negative history that we can use to discredit all similar organizations. If they are destroyed, then we are starting at square one.

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    Default Too late

    If AQ fractures,
    While the author made some interesting observations(although none of them are new), I find two major problems with his argument:

    1. Not every terrorist organization is linked to AQ: We are too quick to link every terrorist attack by a Sunni group to AQ, when in fact there are already several terrorist organizations apart from AQ that at most only agree with some of AQ's philosophy. This is the new normal regardless of whether AQ as an organization lives or dies.

    2. AQ already completed its mission: AQ provided an umbrella ideology and strategy and initiated a mass movement with the 9/11 attacks, so AQ no longer needs to exist for the movement to continue. While AQ may still fund certain activities and attacks globally, the evidence indicates that various militant groups are raising their own funds (donations, criminal activity etc.), acquiring their own weapons, planning their own attacks based on the movement "inspired" by AQ. Technical know how is now widely dispersed and available to those who really want to know how to conduct a terrorist attack.

    If AQ went away tomorrow, the Pakistan Taliban, Afghan Taliban, LeT, Hamas, and tens of other militant organizations would be still be around. If we can kill the remains of AQ (and I'm not as convinced as the author that they're hurting as much as he believes), then we should do so now.

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    Default Don't feed the dog

    I don’t believe it matters one way or the other, the removal of individuals is fairly irrelevant. I do not believe you can solve a terrorism problem by killing terrorists. It does not matter if we are talking about the IRA, the Red Brigade, Hamas or AQ they all have a grievance and are the violent tail on a larger community who feel they have a point and, even if they do not fight, they provide encouragement, money, safe houses etc. Why are they fighting, do they have a legitimate point? If you want to reduce the problem they are causing do something about their problem. If less of their community think the cause they are fighting for is just then the numbers who are willing to contribute funds will go down, it will be less acceptable in the community to have your son become a fighter and more acceptable to provide intelligence on terrorist movements and plans. You can not completely remove the problem but you can make it more manageable. The flow of funds from catholic groups in the US to those trying to unite N.I. and Eire has largely dried up as it is no longer view as acceptable not because the objective was achieved.

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    Sadly, I can't be as generous as Bill. De la Casas's entire line of argument is woefully disappointing, including his base observations. The author might as well view al Qaeda as a hydra with infinite, stinging heads, tear his loincloth and wale in despair--not a particularly credible, let alone helpful point of view. I mean seriously, by his reasoning any organization with a high rate of turnover and connection to a movement--say the Vice Lords, or the Orange County Mall, or the Congressional Page Service--is effectively and perniciously immortal. If this is what passes for observation and theory in strategic studies today, I weep for the field.

    We know swamps can be drained of syndicates, gangs, failing businesses and even the occasional federal bureaucracy. We know whether or not it's practical to do so depends is a cost question. Seems to me serious thought on this subject will accept that the fact first and answer the question second.

    I'll post my specific complaints later, particularly regarding de la Casa's "application" of network theory.
    Last edited by Presley Cannady; 11-12-2009 at 01:02 PM.
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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default AQ, SWJ, and social networks

    Interesting, insightful commentary from all. I'll attempt to address Schmedlap's statement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I disagree that "funding sources, recruiting bases, technical skills, and support networks and infrastructure decline." Rather, I think they will just do what the author asserts - they will shift to another social network that we have less knowledge about.
    During the 1980s, the AQ/Taliban provided an outlet for "the call of jihad" for disenfranchised or adventurous Muslims to fight the Russians. They had advertisement and recruitment, transportation, funding (ironically from us), training camps, indoctrination, and employment. Most importantly, they had an established ideological backing.

    During the 1990's, AQ/Taliban extended that fight into Kashmir and eventually began targeting the far-enemy.

    From 2003-2008, AQ put out the call for Jihad in Iraq.

    Now, that call is back to A'stan, Pakistan, etc.

    While dispersed in social networks, this infrastructure and support networks are manpower and resource intensive. If we destroy them, then it will take a long time to recover.

    An example of this could be SWJ. This site is well recognized as the place to go to study small wars. If someone publishes in another site or printed publication, it will normally be cc'd here. If SWJ was shut down tomorrow and the entire database deleted, individuals could venture to other sites, but the collective mojo would be lost for awhile until another site picked up the slack. At that point, LE could shut down that site.

    I guess I'm just saying that we should take away AQ's mojo .

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    I guess I'm just saying that we should take away AQ's mojo .
    Exactamundo, when they figure out they (AQ) are not 10 feet tall and the price to pay will be death and bankruptcy, you will see a big change. Until then they will keep right on doing what they are doing.

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    A few days ago Phoenix80 linked to a New Yorker article a little of which is below. I suspect this is fairly typical of small groups around the world in that AQ leadership has never heard of them or funded them or received any funding from them. They are just doing their own thing with a nod to the brand name.

    Abu Mohammed claimed to represent four armed groups that have joined a jihadi coalition. (There is such an alliance, called the Popular Resistance Committees.) “When I speak, I speak for all of them,” he told me. “We consider Osama bin Laden our spiritual father.” His group follows the same ideology as Al Qaeda, but there is no direct connection. “The siege around Gaza has disconnected us from the outside world,” he said. “None of us can travel.” In Gaza, he estimated, there were about four hundred armed fighters in cells like his, down from as many as fifteen hundred before the Hamas takeover. When Fatah ran the Strip, it was easier for subversives to operate, he said, but now “Hamas is in full control, and their power is very tight.” Hamas, he explained, wanted to dictate when violence occurred in Gaza, and tried to keep the Al Qaeda sympathizers penned in.
    This link is to a Marc Lynch post on his FP blog and relates to the Fort Hood shootings. He is arguing that AQ would like nothing better than an over reaction that alienated the broader Muslim community as it will just provide a more fertile environment in which to operate.
    Last edited by JJackson; 11-12-2009 at 04:56 PM.

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    I have many reservations with the author's proposal...and many with the assumptions he builds his argument upon.

    Before long, the West may just hold a barrel to al Qaeda's collective forehead. Should it press the trigger?
    - How exactly would this happen? Is there any reason to believe that there even is a "collective forehead" to hold a barrel to or is it thousands of foreheads?

    Like it or not, keeping a battered al Qaeda intact (if weak) is the world's best hope of funneling Islamist fanatics into one social network -- where they stand the best chance of being spotted, tracked, and contained. The alternative, destroying the terrorist group, would risk fragmenting al Qaeda into thousands of cells, and these will be much harder to follow and impossible to eradicate.
    - al Qaeda does not have a monopoly over Islamist fanaticism and they do not operate in one social network - al Qaeda is already generally an umbrella term for thousands of fragmented and chaotic cells that are largely without central leadership or being provided resources from a centralized organization...

    The alternative to destroying al Qaeda is to keep it weak -- but alive. The West would need to refrain from attacking all its central parts, choosing to monitor and watch them instead. Al Qaeda would continue to attract Islamist militants into its clustered network, where the fight against terrorism is at least manageable.
    - I wouldn't call all the attacks and threats perpetrated by al Qaeda around the world before and after 9/11 a problem that is "at least manageable"

    - I would LOVE to hear how "monitoring and watching" al Qaeda could be politically justified by anyone in the law enforcement, military or intelligence community if a major attack occurred under our noses because our intelligence was not as good as the author believes.

    Is our intelligence so good that we know which mid level operatives are inept and which are effective? Isn't the way to know that by letting each one of them conduct an operation that would kill people and judge their effectiveness after the fact?

    al Qaeda recruits could be shadowed through their training and eventual deployment. New operatives could then be neutralized once they move "downstream" -- away from the network. This timing prevents scattering the higher echelons of al Qaeda, while still eliminating the direct security threat.
    This is an incredibly bad idea - lets allow unknown and numerous terrorist recruits become more indoctrinated, receive training, be assigned missions and allocated resources by the most dangerous terrorist leaders on the planet as we watch them and then hope we CAN "neutralize" them once they move "downstream". I hope they don't fall off the radar.

    I feel the author is just trying to be thought provoking for the sake of it - not offering any practical solutions whatsoever.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Death and bankrupt ideas methinks

    Slap (No.8) stated:
    Exactamundo, when they figure out they (AQ) are not 10 feet tall and the price to pay will be death and bankruptcy, you will see a big change. Until then they will keep right on doing what they are doing.
    I have asked in meetings where have all the jihadists gone? I mean the often cited tens of thousands who went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and to a lesser extent those who went to places like Bosnia and Kashmir. Yes, many are maybe dead, some integrated locally - often cited in the FATA, others returned home or to other places.

    No-one seems to have a complete answer and I wonder if they have given up the Jihad.

    So Slap perhaps AQ has already been affected? Death and bankrupt ideas methinks. (Apologies if I'm repeating myself here).

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Mr Casas: no thanks

    Citing Mike F's initial post:
    Mr. Casas makes a compelling case to keep them around.
    All I can say a provocative article and far from realistic. Does he seriously think that the information that may become intelligence exists to undertake such close-in observation? We maybe good at restraining the flow of recruits, we are less good at money and other ingredients in the AQ mix. Yes attacks have been thwarted, others have succeeded.

    In the UK I ask what would the UK have been like in July 2005, if the 7/7 bombs had gone off and the bombers escaped? Add in the 21/7 attacks too.

    In the USA I am sure readers can imagine an equivalent scene. IIRC the CT adviser, Richard Clarke wrote an article a few years ago on future successful attacks and their impact (lost the link).

    No, Mr Casas stay in your "groove".

    davidbfpo

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    Default An alternative view on AQ

    A review by an academic expert of a book The Third Alternative: Between Authoritarianism and Surrender (by an AQ author; NT Google):http://www.carnegieendowment.org/arb...&article=24121

    The book is the latest development in what can be called a second wave of modern Islamist de-radicalization.

    The new body of literature, which is composed of more than 30 books, mainly deconstructs the eight major arguments of jihadism: al-hakimmiyya (God’s exclusive right to legislate), al-riddah (apostasy, mainly of ruling regimes), al-jihad/qital (fighting) for the Islamic state, jihad al-daf‘ (defensive jihad), ahkam al-diyar (rules of conduct in the “abode of Islam” and the “abode of infidelity”), methods for sociopolitical change, the inevitability of confrontation, and the “neo-crusader” arguments.

    (Concludes}Most post-jihadist literature does not take a clear stance on democracy. But accepting the “other,” moderating rhetoric and behavior, and participating in electoral politics may be the only viable options for these groups if they want to remain politically significant. In other words, if jihadism heralded the inevitability of armed confrontation, post-jihadism might well entail the inevitable acceptance of democratization.
    The review author has written on Ending Jihadism: the transformation of Armed Islamist Groups:http://www.carnegieendowment.org/arb...&article=23805

    Will copy this to the 'What are you reading' thread.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-12-2009 at 09:41 PM.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    So Slap perhaps AQ has already been affected? Death and bankrupt ideas methinks. (Apologies if I'm repeating myself here).

    davidbfpo
    Yes David they have been hurt but we need to Kill Bill he is the Mojo, he started all this mess and he should have always been Target#1. Time to finish the job.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl8La...eature=related

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default How AQ works

    An old thread I know, but after scanning an appropriate place to add this. Hat tip to CLS mailing, although I do read Leah Farrell's blogsite.

    In the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs, Leah Farrall, a former Senior Counterterrorism Intelligence analyst with the Australian Federal Police, writes that “al Qaeda is stronger today than when it carried out the 9/11 attacks.” Farrall argues that “[t]oday, [al Qaeda] has more members, greater geographic reach, and a level of ideological sophistication and influence it lacked ten years ago....[A]ccounts [of al Qaeda’s decline] treat the central al Qaeda organization separately from its subsidiaries and overlook its success in expanding its power and influence through them.”
    Temporarily available on author's website:http://allthingscounterterrorism.com...l-qaeda-works/

    Main link, alas behind a pay-wall:http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articl...al-qaeda-works

    Catching up on reading and the article is on the list to do.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Smart action in support of the oppressed populaces where these insurgent organizations have bought into the AQ franchise could co-opt or neutralize these groups that have a primary focus that is nationalist.

    We do ourselves a disservice when we paint them all with a broad AQ brush merely because they have bought into the AQ message that breaking the support of western powers is an essential task in achieving change at home.

    I think one thing we need to all keep in mind is that "Ideas cannot be contained, and Liberty cannot be denied."

    Our current target fixation on the FATA buys into a belief that AQ can somehow be contained or defeated there. Even President Obama's guidance for Afghanistan (that the ISAF mission statement really does not match up well with, btw) focuses on this infeasible end “to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al Qaeda and to prevent their return to either Afghanistan or Pakistan.”

    The most enduring way to render AQ moot is to rob them of their base of moderate support. The way to do that is to take on the challenge of helping the moderate majority address their reasonable concerns over the type of governance they receive at home, and the reasonable perceptions that those governments are more connected to Western powers than to their own populaces.

    This does not mean a massive campaign of UW in the classic sense; but it does mean that CT heavy efforts against everyone wearing an AQ T-shirt are as likely to make the problem worse as better; and that massive nation building that seems bent on adding yet one more despot to our list of supported official malign actors is not going to get us where we need to be.

    This is a foreign policy problem, not a military problem; and this demands a foreign policy solution rather than a military one as well. Certainly the military has a role, but is should be much tailored and refined from the current one, and subjugated to a supporting position.
    Robert C. Jones
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Smart action in support of the oppressed populaces where these insurgent organizations have bought into the AQ franchise could co-opt or neutralize these groups that have a primary focus that is nationalist.
    What specific groups are we discussing here?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I think one thing we need to all keep in mind is that "Ideas cannot be contained, and Liberty cannot be denied."
    True enough, but how is this related to AQ? Aq certainly isn't fighting for liberty, nor are they broadly perceived to be fighting for liberty.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The most enduring way to render AQ moot is to rob them of their base of moderate support. The way to do that is to take on the challenge of helping the moderate majority address their reasonable concerns over the type of governance they receive at home, and the reasonable perceptions that those governments are more connected to Western powers than to their own populaces.
    I've seen no credible evidence suggesting that moderate support for AQ derives from "reasonable concerns over the type of governance they receive at home". AQ gets support because there's a huge amount of generic resentment toward foreign military intrusion in genereal and western meddling specifically in the Muslim world, and any Muslim group that sticks it to the western meddlers is going to gain a great deal of affection and support. AQ's attempts to rally support against Muslim governments have generally gone nowhere, not because those governmets are loved but because AQ is not seen as a viable alternative. AQ has only ever really succeeded with the "expel the infidel from the land of the faithful" narrative. They've tried others, but without much success.

    If we want to reduce AQ, we need to focus not on everything they say, but on countering the narratives that have actually worked for them.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    "What specific groups are we discussing here?"

    Every group that has an "AQ" added as a prefix is made up on nationalist insurgents that have bought into the AQ message and franchise. These groups in turn have roots that reach into the perceptions of poor governance and western manipulation within the respective populaces they emerge from. Help those populaces address their reasonable concerns, target and manage those perceptions, and one begins to disempower the AQ agents conducting UW, and also the more radical members of the nationalist groups who are more committed to their personal goals than the overall good to the populace.

    "True enough, but how is this related to AQ? AQ certainly isn't fighting for liberty, nor are they broadly perceived to be fighting for liberty."

    By whose perception? AQ has a regional agenda, which is why they are a non-state UW headquarters rather than an insurgent organization. Sure, they specifically want to depose the Saudi family and specifically want to humble the US, but all of that also contributes to a larger goal of leading and leveraging the distinct quests for liberty among a wide range of oppressed Muslim populaces across the Arab world. Now, if AQ ends up in some sort of leadership role over all of these liberated states in a union that somehow does conform to traditional "Caliphates" of eras past, then no, I do not think there will be much "liberty" in that for the affected populaces. But if that is the case, then AQ loses their non-state sanctuary, they become the counterinsurgent rather than the UW instigator, and become very vulnerable to both outside state action as well as internal insurgent action. But I do believe that a regional liberty from western influence and western supported oppression is very much a part of their platform.

    "I've seen no credible evidence"

    For years Saudi-based charities, who draw contributions from across the populace base, have supported this movement. Every liberty-seeking movement is typically such, where the vast majority of the base of support is largely passive and beneath the surface. One can only assess the size of that base by other indicators.

    The current rash of popular uprising in the face of certain consequence is such an indicator.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    "What specific groups are we discussing here?"

    Every group that has an "AQ" added as a prefix is made up on nationalist insurgents that have bought into the AQ message and franchise.
    Specifically, who? It would be easier to address the point if we named some of the actual groups we're concerned with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    These groups in turn have roots that reach into the perceptions of poor governance and western manipulation within the respective populaces they emerge from. Help those populaces address their reasonable concerns, target and manage those perceptions,
    How do we do that without interfering in the internal affairs of other nations... recalling as we go that foreign interference in the internal affairs of Muslim nations fuels AQ more than anything else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Sure, they specifically want to depose the Saudi family and specifically want to humble the US, but all of that also contributes to a larger goal of leading and leveraging the distinct quests for liberty among a wide range of oppressed Muslim populaces across the Arab world.
    They have that goal, yes, but they've never come close to success: AQ has not been able to successfully leverage quests for liberty from domestic oppression. They have been able to successfully leverage resentment at foreign intervention in Muslim lands. If we want to reduce AQ's influence we have to address the factors and the narratives that they have been able to successfully leverage, not the ones that they have never had success with. AQ may have tried to appoint themselves champion of populaces fighting domestic oppression, but they have not succeeded. Neither would we. They have succeeded in rallying support for the defence of Muslim land against foreign invasion, and of course we've given them plenty of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Now, if AQ ends up in some sort of leadership role over all of these liberated states in a union that somehow does conform to traditional "Caliphates" of eras past, then no, I do not think there will be much "liberty" in that for the affected populaces.
    I don't think so either, but it's too remote a prospect to be worrying much about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    But I do believe that a regional liberty from western influence and western supported oppression is very much a part of their platform.
    Possibly part of their platform... but again, the only platform that's really worked for them involves resistance to foreign military intervention. I don't see that we need to worry about every part of their platform. We'd be better off concerning ourselves with the platform that has actually worked for them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    For years Saudi-based charities, who draw contributions from across the populace base, have supported this movement. Every liberty-seeking movement is typically such, where the vast majority of the base of support is largely passive and beneath the surface. One can only assess the size of that base by other indicators.
    What movement are we talking about here, and what has it to do with seeking liberty? Saudi charities have certainly supported the spread of Wahhabi Islam abroad, and have certainly supported AQ's jihad against foreign intervention in Muslim lands. They've been a lot less engaged in supporting domestic action against Arab governments.

    Once again, it seems to me that you're conflating AQ's fight against foreign military intervention with domestic resistance to authoritarian government in the Arab world to a greater extent than is supported by evidence.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default "Evidence" is needed in court; "perception" is needed in insurgency

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Once again, it seems to me that you're conflating AQ's fight against foreign military intervention with domestic resistance to authoritarian government in the Arab world to a greater extent than is supported by evidence.
    AQ's may fight foreign militaries when they come into the region, but their fight is not "against foreign military intervention." It is your position on this point that is unsupported by evidence. Foreign militaries are a convenient target of opportunity to carry forward his larger agenda.

    His priorities have always been to take down the Saudi royals, and to humble the US in particular; and in general to break Western influence over the governments, and thereby the people, of the Middle East.

    Conditions of insurgency have been sky high in most of the countries that bin Laden carries his message to for decades; but with the populaces held in check by the security forces of these despotic governments. This is what created the fertile fields of populaces for the seeds of bin Laden's message to take root in. If the people had been satisfied in their situation, then bin Laden's efforts would have had little effect. This is the nature of UW. You can't start a fire if the fuel is wet. A satisfied populace is like wet fuel, it just doesn't ignite very easy.

    Galula talked about events much like the ones currently going on in across the Middle East in his first Chapter in the section on "Revolution, Plot, Insurgency."

    "A revolution usually is an explosive upheaval - sudden, brief, spontaneous, unplanned (France, 1789; China, 1911; Russia, 1917;Hungary, 1956). It is an accident, which can be explained afterward but not predicted other than to note the existence of a revolutionary situation.

    Ok, I would not call such events "accidents," but Galula wrote from the perspective of a man who had lived his entire life as a colonist or as a military officer dealing with insurgencies in his country's colonies. This colored his perceptions; but what he calls "existence of a revolutionary situation" in his example countries are what I call "conditions of insurgency." The fuel is stacked high and waiting for a spark. The "accident" is that event that suddenly ignites the fire of populace discontent without warning.

    The fuel was and is tender dry and stacked high across the Middle East, and bin Laden has been conducting UW much like a state, but with the beneficial sanctuary that comes from being a non-state actor. With no state to be held at risk it allows a little guy to play on the big stage with the big guys.

    But to your point, if one waits until they have "evidence" in this social science of human dynamics and perceptions, one is likely to get burned, as the first evidence is often a bright flash not unlike a match landing in a gasoline soaked pile of brush.
    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)

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