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Old 12-09-2007   #21
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I've seen similar questions being asked in various BAAs and SBIRs, but its a question (in its most basic form) that's been asked by all ruling powers throughout history. Where will the threats to our power arise from and what can we do to prevent it? There's the biblical example of Pharoah and Herod attempting to intercept the rise of a great threat to their power (Moses and Jesus) by killing all of the first born children in their kingdom. That clearly didn't work, and no similarly motivated strategy has worked for any government since.

Posen wrote:

"The activist U.S. grand strategy currently preferred by the national security establishment in both parties thus has a classically tragic quality about it. Enabled by its great power, and fearful of the negative energies and possibilities engendered by globalization, the United States has tried to get its arms around the problem: It has essentially sought more control. But the very act of seeking more control injects negative energy into global politics as quickly as it finds enemies to vanquish. It prompts states to balance against U.S. power however they can, and it prompts peoples to imagine that the United States is the source of all their troubles."

We need to lighten our touch, and change our global strategy; and part of that change is not pursuing the fool's errand of trying to predict and control every possible factor which may lead to future threats. The chaotic nature of life doesn't permit such control.

At the end of the essay Posen recaps his points with a brief summarizing statement:

"The United States needs now to test a different grand strategy: It should conceive its security interests narrowly, use its military power stingily, pursue its enemies quietly but persistently, share responsibilities and costs more equitably, watch and wait more patiently. Letís do this for 16 years and see if the outcomes arenít better."

I wholeheartedly agree.
If I were king (and I realize I can't be since John Fishel is), I'd create a director for long term/emerging threats on the National Security Council to try to use interagency assets to identify and respond to emerging threats. One of the first things I'd do is commission research on the actual mechanics of strategic threat recognition in the United States.
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Old 12-09-2007   #22
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The war which has been imposed upon us and the rest of the West in general is an Islamic war of aggression. Islam is at war with anything and everything that is non-Islamic. Even Muslims who do not tow the ideological pure line are considered apostates and deemed good fodder for immediate, cold-blooded slaughter.

A religion-based ideology can only be addressed or countered in like manner. Apples to apples.

That's my 0.02 worth.
This is an issue that has recently been the topic of much discussion on another site I frequent, so I'll pose the same issue. If Al Qaeda's brand of terrorism is indeed a global insurgency, do we not play into their hands by painting this as a war between religions?

Let me explain. The prize in this "global insurgency" is the people, as it is in all insurgencies. We currently have a vocal (and violently active) subset of the world Muslim population (how large or small is debatable). This vocal subset seeks to harness all of Islam in a war against the West. However, another subset is either opposed to this or at least neutral. If we subscribe the theory that this is indeed a war of religion, as Al Qaeda argues, then we force those Muslims that haven't chosen a side to choose the side antagonistic to us.

I don't believe that Islam, in and of itself, is out to conquer the West or Christianity or anything else. I do believe that some have determined that the use of Islam can provide a valuable tool in their fight against the West. I just don't believe we should take actions, or pursue strategies, that make this tool more effective for Al Qaeda and their ilk.
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Old 12-09-2007   #23
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This is an issue that has recently been the topic of much discussion on another site I frequent, so I'll pose the same issue. If Al Qaeda's brand of terrorism is indeed a global insurgency, do we not play into their hands by painting this as a war between religions?

Let me explain. The prize in this "global insurgency" is the people, as it is in all insurgencies. We currently have a vocal (and violently active) subset of the world Muslim population (how large or small is debatable). This vocal subset seeks to harness all of Islam in a war against the West. However, another subset is either opposed to this or at least neutral. If we subscribe the theory that this is indeed a war of religion, as Al Qaeda argues, then we force those Muslims that haven't chosen a side to choose the side antagonistic to us.

I don't believe that Islam, in and of itself, is out to conquer the West or Christianity or anything else. I do believe that some have determined that the use of Islam can provide a valuable tool in their fight against the West. I just don't believe we should take actions, or pursue strategies, that make this tool more effective for Al Qaeda and their ilk.
I've been struck in a discussion board I frequent where most of the participants are "red state" non-experts just how many subscribe to a manichean, Islam versus Christianity, end of the world sort of perspective. I guess I didn't think that much about it until I started hearing the same thing from presidential candidates like Giuliani and Huckabee.

I suspect if I looked more closely at the late 1940s and early 1950s, I'd see the same phenomenon. During times of challenge, extremism gains legitimacy and moderation is deprecated, even delegitimized. I compare it to the witch trial in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the only way to gain attention is to stake out a position even more extreme than the person who went before.

Islam makes a useful "witch" because its violent extremists claim to speak for the religion and many Americans don't know enough about it to recognize what does and does not represent defining characteristics of it.

One of the most bizarre discussions I had in that "other" board came when someone floated out the line from the Koran about slaying non-believers. I pointed out that there are some pretty bloodthirsty and down right genocidal divine instructions in the Bible as well. The other discussants were absolutely shocked that I couldn't see what was to them a perfectly clear distinction: the legitimization of violence in the Bible was God's instruction while that in the Koran was not. I guess I am just too thick to see what to them was an obvious point.
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Old 12-09-2007   #24
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I've been struck in a discussion board I frequent where most of the participants are "red state" non-experts just how many subscribe to a manichean, Islam versus Christianity, end of the world sort of perspective. I guess I didn't think that much about it until I started hearing the same thing from presidential candidates like Giuliani and Huckabee.
I see this happen at Blackfive.net, Townhall, and pretty much every Republican-oriented board that I infrequently visit. I still can't get used to hearing it, and, to be honest, I find it a little bit frightening. Religious wars last a very long time because both sides believe that they have a mandate from their respective Higher Powers to kill the nonbeliever.

The other frightening aspect to the "War on Islam" faction is that these are 21st century Americans who are advocating it. Granted that what's said in the Comments section of a political blog is often written in a more exaggerated style due to the anonymity of the medium, but still, this type of fear-mongering should have ended a long time ago.
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Old 12-09-2007   #25
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Default There are fanatics on each side of both

the ideological and religious divides. They bear watching but no support in equal parts.

The rabid right will kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out, the rabid left sees no threat other than said rabid right -- the truth, as always is probably somewhere in between.
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Old 12-09-2007   #26
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the ideological and religious divides. They bear watching but no support in equal parts.

The rabid right will kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out, the rabid left sees no threat other than said rabid right -- the truth, as always is probably somewhere in between.
I agree completely. Fanatics of any stripe are equally abhorrent and dangerous.
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Old 12-10-2007   #27
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Great article and thanks for the link. Agree wholeheardetly. We've burnt the Army to ash over the last 17 years, we need to take a long pause and realize that military actions has definitive limits for countless reasons.

I think there are two counteracting forces at work in the world right now. Globalization and the rise of non-state actors. The patient who gets to feel the brunt of these two forces is the nation-state - both globalization and the rise of non-state actors pull the nation state apart from two different spectrums. Globalization pulls it apart from the economic angle, and the non-state actors pull it apart from the political, religious and cultural angles. Globalization really means homogenization - you see the same stores, brand names and the like everywhere you go. On a personal level, I hate this but you can't stop progress, even if its not progress.

I think Americans like "either/or" scenarios way too much. We reduce everything to this dichotomy, and the world is much, much more complex and grey. I suppose the media could be blamed, but in reality it's a matter of self education and not trusting what is put out in front of you as gospel.

The Moslems are no better and no worse then most of us in the world. There is a small minority of Qtubists who are deluded into thinking they are the new blend of Leninist/Mohammedanian vanguard of religious revolutionaries. They tend to die a lot, mainly by choice. Isolate them through good propaganda (I mean IO), and increase the standards of living in Islamic countries and they will die off.
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Old 12-10-2007   #28
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Great article and thanks for the link. Agree wholeheardetly. We've burnt the Army to ash over the last 17 years, we need to take a long pause and realize that military actions has definitive limits for countless reasons.

I think there are two counteracting forces at work in the world right now. Globalization and the rise of non-state actors. The patient who gets to feel the brunt of these two forces is the nation-state - both globalization and the rise of non-state actors pull the nation state apart from two different spectrums. Globalization pulls it apart from the economic angle, and the non-state actors pull it apart from the political, religious and cultural angles. Globalization really means homogenization - you see the same stores, brand names and the like everywhere you go. On a personal level, I hate this but you can't stop progress, even if its not progress.

I think Americans like "either/or" scenarios way too much. We reduce everything to this dichotomy, and the world is much, much more complex and grey. I suppose the media could be blamed, but in reality it's a matter of self education and not trusting what is put out in front of you as gospel.

The Moslems are no better and no worse then most of us in the world. There is a small minority of Qtubists who are deluded into thinking they are the new blend of Leninist/Mohammedanian vanguard of religious revolutionaries. They tend to die a lot, mainly by choice. Isolate them through good propaganda (I mean IO), and increase the standards of living in Islamic countries and they will die off.
I just signed off on a very interesting forthcoming publication by my Islamic studies expert. Among other things, she explains why the word "Qtubists" (which is in wide circulation) is wrong. I'll pass along the link when the study comes out. I learned a lot from it myself (in my eternal quest to rebut those hundreds of people who consider me uneducable).

Last edited by SteveMetz; 12-10-2007 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 12-10-2007   #29
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Great article and thanks for the link. Agree wholeheardetly. We've burnt the Army to ash over the last 17 years, we need to take a long pause and realize that military actions has definitive limits for countless reasons.

I think there are two counteracting forces at work in the world right now. Globalization and the rise of non-state actors. The patient who gets to feel the brunt of these two forces is the nation-state - both globalization and the rise of non-state actors pull the nation state apart from two different spectrums. Globalization pulls it apart from the economic angle, and the non-state actors pull it apart from the political, religious and cultural angles. Globalization really means homogenization - you see the same stores, brand names and the like everywhere you go. On a personal level, I hate this but you can't stop progress, even if its not progress.

I think Americans like "either/or" scenarios way too much. We reduce everything to this dichotomy, and the world is much, much more complex and grey. I suppose the media could be blamed, but in reality it's a matter of self education and not trusting what is put out in front of you as gospel.

The Moslems are no better and no worse then most of us in the world. There is a small minority of Qtubists who are deluded into thinking they are the new blend of Leninist/Mohammedanian vanguard of religious revolutionaries. They tend to die a lot, mainly by choice. Isolate them through good propaganda (I mean IO), and increase the standards of living in Islamic countries and they will die off.

I see a connection between black/white thinking and feeling overcome by Globalization. My theory is that if individuals would expand their mental horizons, they'll feel better about the expansion that Globalization is bringing to us.

Regarding Muslim extremists, they're clearly a minority or the world would be engulfed in the flames of religous fanaticism by now (considering how many Muslims there are in the world).
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Old 12-10-2007   #30
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We have to label the radical Sunni terrorists as something. I hear Salafist/Wahhabist/Qtubist - I'll be interested to see what her definition of "right" is.
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Old 12-10-2007   #31
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We have to label the radical Sunni terrorists as something. I hear Salafist/Wahhabist/Qtubist - I'll be interested to see what her definition of "right" is.
They are out of the salafi tradition (although, of course, not all salafis are extremists). Some but not all of them are out of the wahabist tradition. Qtub influenced them but, according to my professor, developed a critique of the West and call for piety, but not an ideology of "war."
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Old 12-10-2007   #32
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They are out of the salafi tradition (although, of course, not all salafis are extremists). Some but not all of them are out of the wahabist tradition. Qtub influenced them but, according to my professor, developed a critique of the West and call for piety, but not an ideology of "war."
All correct but in the interest of labeling I would recommend irhabists (versus salafis and/or wahabis for the reasons Steve gives or as jihadists because that puts a single meaning on jihad, which is inaccurate and misleading) and continued use of extremists as an effective descriptor of them (versus terrorists as a trite label for their intent).

Tom
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Old 12-10-2007   #33
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All correct but in the interest of labeling I would recommend irhabists (versus salafis and/or wahabis for the reasons Steve gives or as jihadists because that puts a single meaning on jihad, which is inaccurate and misleading) and continued use of extremists as an effective descriptor of them (versus terrorists as a trite label for their intent).

Tom
I guess we can say what we want but my professor is quite critical of attempts by non Muslims to shape or promote the Arabic words that Muslims use. I myself stick to "extremists" or "militants." Of course, there are problems with that as well since the category would include both Osama bin Laden and Richard Perle.
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Old 12-10-2007   #34
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I would suggest that folks on this thread take a deep breath, check any urges to thump on sacred books of any sort at the door, and then resume discussion.

That does not involve checking one's deity at the door but rather refraining from invoking him in every post. The original line of this thread was useful. Let's see if we can get back to that without running down too many rabbit holes.

Thanks.
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Old 12-10-2007   #35
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Default What about the anti-globalization networks?

Now I know these folks all have the PR image of tree-hugging loons with Che t-shirts and an aversion to basic hygiene, but what happens if they become the "next thing?" After all, they developed a great deal of the vaunted "global insurgency" framework (diversified networks and leadership structures, communicating via the internet, and so on). I'm wondering how things might look if more of them buy into the ELF-type mindset.
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Old 12-10-2007   #36
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With respect to the thread title "After al-Qaeda?", perhaps this current article by Ali Eteraz is germane to the gist of the discussion?

Last edited by Jedburgh; 12-10-2007 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 11-11-2009   #37
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Default New jihad code threatens al Qaeda

It's about time. Documentary airs 15 Nov.

New jihad code threatens al Qaeda
Nic Robertson and Paul Cruickshank, CNN

Quote:
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- From within Libya's most secure jail a new challenge to al Qaeda is emerging.

Leaders of one of the world's most effective jihadist organizations, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), have written a new "code" for jihad. The LIFG says it now views the armed struggle it waged against Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime for two decades as illegal under Islamic law.

The new code, a 417-page religious document entitled "Corrective Studies" is the result of more than two years of intense and secret talks between the leaders of the LIFG and Libyan security officials.

The code's most direct challenge to al Qaeda is this: "Jihad has ethics and morals because it is for God. That means it is forbidden to kill women, children, elderly people, priests, messengers, traders and the like. Betrayal is prohibited and it is vital to keep promises and treat prisoners of war in a good way. Standing by those ethics is what distinguishes Muslims' jihad from the wars of other nations."

The code has been circulated among some of the most respected religious scholars in the Middle East and has been given widespread backing. It is being debated by politicians in the U.S. and studied by western intelligence agencies.

In essence the new code for jihad is exactly what the West has been waiting for: a credible challenge from within jihadist ranks to al Qaeda's ideology.

While the code states that jihad is permissible if Muslim lands are invaded -- citing the cases of Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine -- the guidelines it sets down for when and how jihad should be fought, and its insistence that civilians should not be targeted are a clear rebuke to the goals and tactics of bin Laden's terrorist network.

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Old 12-30-2009   #38
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Default Confronting al-Qaeda (Afghanistan to the global level)

Marcus Sageman has written in Perspectives on Terrorism a long piece on
'Confronting al-Qaeda: Understanding the Threat in Afghanistan' and on a read last night it is really a lot more strategic than Afghanistan IMHO. Note an earlier version was given in late 2009 to the US Senate. He supplements his analysis with several charts.

The link is:http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/...d=92&Itemid=54

A good read and I expect it has drawn some academic "fire", which can be left alone on SWC, see an old thread on this: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=5334
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Old 01-10-2010   #39
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Default Al-Qaeda has a new strategy. Obama needs one, too

Caught on SWJ news summary, Bruce Hoffman on 'Al-Qaeda has a new strategy. Obama needs one, too': http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...d=opinionsbox1

SWJ summary:In the wake of the failed Christmas Day airplane bombing and the killing a few days later of seven CIA operatives in Afghanistan, Washington is, as it was after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, obsessed with "dots" - and our inability to connect them. "The U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots," the president said Tuesday. But for all the talk, two key dots have yet to be connected: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged Northwest Airlines Flight 253 attacker, and Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the trusted CIA informant turned assassin. Although a 23-year-old Nigerian engineering student and a 36-year-old Jordanian physician would seem to have little in common, they both exemplify a new grand strategy that al-Qaeda has been successfully pursuing for at least a year. Throughout 2008 and 2009, U.S. officials repeatedly trumpeted al-Qaeda's demise. In a May 2008 interview with The Washington Post, then-CIA Director Michael Hayden heralded the group's "near strategic defeat." And the intensified aerial drone attacks that President Obama authorized against al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan last year were widely celebrated for having killed over half of its remaining senior leadership. Yet, oddly enough for a terrorist movement supposedly on its last legs, al-Qaeda late last month launched two separate attacks less than a week apart - one failed and one successful - triggering the most extensive review of U.S. national security policies since 2001.

Well worth reading in full IMHO and following my habit this is the last paragraph:
Quote:
Remarkably, more than eight years after Sept. 11, we still don't fully understand our dynamic and evolutionary enemy. We claim success when it is regrouping and tally killed leaders while more devious plots are being hatched. Al-Qaeda needs to be utterly destroyed. This will be accomplished not just by killing and capturing terrorists -- as we must continue to do -- but by breaking the cycle of radicalization and recruitment that sustains the movement.
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Old 01-10-2010   #40
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Default Balancing views

Two comments on this burgeoning theme in the media and blogsphere. Hat tip to KOW, which set a balancing view: 'Amid the Hysteria, A Look at What al-Qaeda Can't Do' . Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...#ixzz0cE6UE98G

And on KOW:http://kingsofwar.wordpress.com/2010...gile-republic/
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