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Old 09-28-2007   #1
Jedburgh
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Default Terrorism: What's Coming

MIPT, Sep 07: Terrorism: What's Coming. The Mutating Threat
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....These essays were all written as we are engaged in a worldwide struggle against a jihadist terrorist enterprise inspired largely by al Qaeda’s ideology and its tactical successes. There are other conflicts involving the use of terrorist tactics, to be sure, but the authors here agree that Islam’s violent jihadists currently represent the most serious threat to Western security and that they will continue to do so for decades—a struggle that will transcend the present generation.

There is consensus that while al Qaeda does represent a new and more serious threat, much about al Qaeda is neither new nor unique. That is the positive aspect of the long view reflected here. It suggests that this wave of terrorism, like others before it, eventually will pass, although it has years to run. It will be a long war, but ultimately, we should prevail.

Indeed, we have achieved a measure of success in reducing the operational capabilities of al Qaeda central, although even that may be only temporary. Authorities have thwarted many terrorist plots. But, the authors agree, we have utterly failed tosuccessfully address the issue of continued radicalization and recruitment. In this dimension of the struggle, we are not winning.

The current counterterrorist approach is exclusively operational and therefore inadequate. The authors agree that we need a strategy that is multidimensional, that more effectively engages the international community, and that does a better job of preserving basic values, even while changing the doctrines and rules that govern our response. This challenges the official U.S. view that we have a comprehensive counterterrorist strategy and that it is working.

Finally, despite healthy caution about making predictions, there is consensus that whether it is in al Qaeda’s jihad or in future, still-undefined struggles, the employment of terrorist tactics will almost certainly persist as a means of political expression, as a mode of armed conflict. Today’s jihadists have inherited terrorism’s methods from previous struggles. They have added some innovations of their own and demonstrated new possibilities. Their repertoire will be inherited by tomorrow’s terrorists. And all the authors of this volume agree, there will be terrorists tomorrow....
Complete 84 page paper at the link.

The Future of Terrorism

The Organization of Terrorism
Martha Crenshaw

Terrorism & Energy Security: Targeting Oil & Other Energy Sources and Infrastructures
Alex P. Schmid

Observations on the Future of Terrorism
Leonard Weinberg

The Future of Counterterrorism

Cooperation is not Sufficient: A New International Regime is Needed to Counter Global Jihadi Terrorism
Boaz Ganor

Lessons from the Counterinsurgency Era
Gustavo Gorriti

Strategic Counterterrorism: The Way Forward
Rohan Gunaratna
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Old 09-28-2007   #2
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(Sigh) This paper reminds me of very old medical texts, for example those on Cholera, what the symptoms are, what the process of the disease is, how to treat patients, remedies and so on, what the prognosis is for the patients, but leaves out the most screamingly obvious chapter - what causes the disease and how it can be prevented from occurring in the first place!

Terrorism is a tactic - it's a symptom of something. Nothing more nothing less. This paper conveniently glosses this over and attempts like many similar papers to look at means of making the symptoms go away, not treat the disease itself.

That disease, by the way, is simply the existence of a confrontational struggle over something where one side has overwhelmingly powerful forces available to it and the other does not. - Power asymmetry. This means that the weaker side is denied any opportunity of advancing its case save terrorism - stealthy unpredictable random attacks against targets of opportunity in an effort to overcome the power asymmetry.

Look at the causes of some of the terrorism.

While the anarchists and similar revolutionaries of the 1850's were mentioned, no mention was made of the refusal of European nobility and monarchies to accommodate the aspirations of the emerging industrial middle classes, and the ruthless suppression of the same. Is it any wonder that rebellion and revolution was talked about all over Europe at the time?

All terrorism, even if it is later perverted into pure criminality (as was the IRA) is grounded in either a perceived or real injustice, or to put it another way, a threat by a group to the established power structures in a particular nation.

If one takes the trouble to actually read what Bin Laden has said, his motivation purports to be the threat to Islamic fundamentalism of Western values - meaning the power structures of the Islamic religion - hence his call for a removal of Western influence (American) in Saudi Arabia.

The Irish troubles as we have seen, have their roots in religious discrimination.

Latin American troubles have their roots in the appalling disparity of wealth and power between various classes.

The Malaysian troubles had their roots in the ongoing conflict between the Malays and Chinese (We are overdue for another round of Chinese killings in Indonesia, they seem to happen about every thirty years or so).

In the terrorism cases that have been "closed" the terrorism stops when people supporting terrorism find alternative dispute resolution mechanisms that give them some power over their own futures - more power than can be gained by resorting to violence. It follows of course, that half our troubles in Iraq have been caused by our deliberate and willful neglect of this fact

While the paper is well meaning, as is the Institute, it appears to ignore the elephant in the room, the causes of terrorism, and like cholera, unless the causes of the disease are treated, it will continue to fester.

Last edited by walrus; 09-28-2007 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 09-29-2007   #3
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I agree with walrus. After reading the paper, I was struck by how restrained the authors were. In the words of one of them, they wanted to avoid the dangers of sociological determinism. While none of them missed the opportunity to display their knowledge of historical detail and make idiographic generalizations, the only reason they gave for avoiding sociological generalization was that the Internet and the media have changed things. Frankly, I don't like this whole "mutation" analogy. If something's anomalous, then there has to be a pattern and trend. If terrorism is a symptom, then there has to be a cause. Discover the pattern, find the cause, fix the problem. Perhaps the authors were blindsided by a mandate to sound like fortune tellers. I tell ya, though. I'm gaining more respect for Gunaratna. I used to think he was a bit alarmist, but he wrote a pretty solid piece here.
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Old 09-29-2007   #4
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This means that the weaker side is denied any opportunity of advancing its case save terrorism - stealthy unpredictable random attacks against targets of opportunity in an effort to overcome the power asymmetry.

Look at the causes of some of the terrorism.
Yes, this is an issue. However, I have read Crenshaw's "Organization of Terror" and one of her points was about "self-selecting" terrorists. In other words, they don't necessarily have the same grievances as others, have not tried other methods to resolve any grievances, but generally look for a group or organization to join in order to become part of a "group" and act out their internal issues violently.

That is the "mutating factor". Other groups or individuals latch on to the group simply to be part of it, part of a movement, even if they don't have similar grievances or any at all. They may be drawn to it as a source of excitement or because it is a group they can associate with. Much like how people join criminal gangs.

I think that Adnan Gadahn is an excellent example. He went looking for a group, he was not part of the original "grievance" group. He may have had "grievances", but they were general and not specific to any one ideology. He was looking for something to join and act with.

The question is can we combat these organizations and their ideology quickly enough so that it does not engage as many. We need to work on making it unacceptable in the general community. This is just about the best leverage and influence that you can get. That is why the message must include a moral aspect. That is what is most likely to persuade others not to do it, though there is no absolute assurance.

second issue, we need to recognize communities, like ours on this site, that are outside of the most recognized "communities". It is these types of communities that are "mutating" rapidly, that we have largely left intact and that have the ability to organize "global" activities. News reports and general media don't have the same ability to engage individuals.

However, outside influences can impact electronic communities and vice versa. We need to recognize that and make it part of our plan.
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Old 10-08-2007   #5
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The problem is, though, that the cost of entry to war has been lowered to such a great degree by advances in technology that smaller and smaller groups are progressively able to cause greater and greater strategic disruptions. While the root causes of the dissatisfaction of some terrorist movements obviously need to be addressed, that may not alone "solve" the terrorism problem that is likely to face the West and the state more generally as the 21st century progresses. There are always going to be disaffected elements in any society, further technological advances are likely to further increase the ability of those disaffected societal elements to cause damage disproportional to their size.

When a skilled individual with a $1,000 laptop can wage war on the United States, talking about root causes becomes less relevant to the problem.
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Old 12-08-2007   #6
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The authors missed the 25-meter target in this report.

I would suggest reading LTC Joseph Myers essay review on The Qur'anic Concept of War in the Winter06 edition of Parameters.

To read the Jihadist asymetric warfighting doctrine, particularly the decentralized individual jihad, find a copy of Da’wat al-muqawamah al-islamiyyah al-‘alamiyyah (The Call for a Global Islamic Resistance) by Mustafa Setmariam Nasar (a/k/a: Abu Mus’ab al-Suri). There is an online english language version. I'd include a link here but I've msiplaced the URL.
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Old 12-08-2007   #7
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The authors missed the 25-meter target in this report.

I would suggest reading LTC Joseph Myers essay review on The Qur'anic Concept of War in the Winter06 edition of Parameters.

To read the Jihadist asymetric warfighting doctrine, particularly the decentralized individual jihad, find a copy of Da’wat al-muqawamah al-islamiyyah al-‘alamiyyah (The Call for a Global Islamic Resistance) by Mustafa Setmariam Nasar (a/k/a: Abu Mus’ab al-Suri). There is an online english language version. I'd include a link here but I've msiplaced the URL.
None of the essays in the paper at the top of thread are really about terrorist ideology or doctrine. However, there are several other threads in this sub-forum that specifically discuss those influences. I suggest you scroll through the entire Adversary/Threat forum to find the appropriate discussion thread.
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Old 12-08-2007   #8
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None of the essays in the paper at the top of thread are really about terrorist ideology or doctrine.
Physical jihad - terrorism per se - is 110% rooted in ideological jihad - terrorist ideology and doctrine. Period.

If one doesn't comprehend the ideology or the doctrine of the terrorist then one cannot possibly hope to comprehend at tactic of terrorism used by the individual or group of Islamic jihadists (terrorists).

This has been a fact regarding Islamic terrorism since Muhammed's first military adventure, and the subsequent conquest of non-Muslim lands external to the Arabian peninsula in the past 1,375 years. The works I cited are the basics to understanding the preeminent type of terrorism in the world today.

Last edited by Jedburgh; 12-08-2007 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 12-08-2007   #9
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Originally Posted by Sean Osborne
Physical jihad - terrorism per se - is 110% rooted in ideological jihad - terrorist ideology and doctrine. Period.
Sorry, but the world does not operate in black and white. Although ideology is a critical component of jihadist terrorism, it is certainly not the only influence nor the single root of what we see in Jihadist terrorism today.
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If one doesn't comprehend the ideology or the doctrine of the terrorist then one cannot possibly hope to comprehend the tactic of terrorism used by the individual or group of Islamic jihadists (terrorists).
I do agree with you that understanding ideology and doctrine is key to understanding the operational characteristics of the terrorist group in question. However, how their ideology and operations are influenced by a myriad other factors is even more important. Understanding the former is but a learning step to enable the CT analyst to perform the latter.

Again, if you wish to discuss terrorist ideology specifically, whether just Al Qa'ida or violent Salafists in general, then look through the Adversary/Threat forum for the appropriate discussion thread.
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Old 12-08-2007   #10
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Post In attempting to summarize

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Sorry, but the world does not operate in black and white. Although ideology is a critical component of jihadist terrorism, it is certainly not the only influence nor the single root of what we see in Jihadist terrorism today.

I do agree with you that understanding ideology and doctrine is key to understanding the operational characteristics of the terrorist group in question. However, how their ideology and operations are influenced by a myriad other factors is even more important. Understanding the former is but a learning step to enable the CT analyst to perform the latter.

Again, if you wish to discuss terrorist ideology specifically, whether just Al Qa'ida or violent Salafists in general, then look through the Adversary/Threat forum for the appropriate discussion thread.
my thoughts on this I come back to Elementery school realities.

Who done who wrong and what's to be done about it. Yes there are immense complicating factors which truly determine the difference between the two but if you step back and look at it what besides the scope of the problem and the capability or knowledge of the actors, is it really any different.

If a teacher doesn't pay attention to how the children interact on the playground or in class, or worse only seems to notice when the child being picked on reacts in small ways, then eventually that child or multiple children in many cases; will eventually find a larger scale way of responding or revert to size over number. Either way how far are we from really intepreting the actions of jihadist, terrorist, criminals, anyone in the same context.

What is the root cause, the same thing it always is, was and will be.

Just my 1 1/2 ....
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Old 12-08-2007   #11
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my thoughts on this I come back to Elementery school realities.

Who done who wrong and what's to be done about it. Yes there are immense complicating factors which truly determine the difference between the two but if you step back and look at it what besides the scope of the problem and the capability or knowledge of the actors, is it really any different.

If a teacher doesn't pay attention to how the children interact on the playground or in class, or worse only seems to notice when the child being picked on reacts in small ways, then eventually that child or multiple children in many cases; will eventually find a larger scale way of responding or revert to size over number. Either way how far are we from really intepreting the actions of jihadist, terrorist, criminals, anyone in the same context.

What is the root cause, the same thing it always is, was and will be.

Just my 1 1/2 ....
For the most part I agree with you Ron, although I would add the absolutely necessary element of the gravity of the matter concerned. I absolutely agree that what is Black and what is White and the necessary distinction between the two must not be lost in what is otherwise an overwhelming sea of various greys. Just as there are dangers in naivety and idealism, so there are dangers in pragmatism and realism. And to complicate matters, very often there is not just one side in the fight that is, or has been, in the wrong.

The gravity of the matter in question is utterly critical in that regard, and the gravity of terrorism, crime, etc., gives it a very different and very serious character by comparison to (most) of what occurs with school teachers and the young children in their classes, as an example. That said, you're quite right that who done wrong and what's to be done about it must be addressed to the extent that it is possible, otherwise the basic injustices that led to the problem, and subsequently the problem itself, may be impossible to rectify or at least mitigate.
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Old 12-08-2007   #12
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For the most part I agree with you Ron, although I would add the absolutely necessary element of the gravity of the matter concerned. I absolutely agree that what is Black and what is White and the necessary distinction between the two must not be lost in what is otherwise an overwhelming sea of various greys. Just as there are dangers in naivety and idealism, so there are dangers in pragmatism and realism. And to complicate matters, very often there is not just one side in the fight that is, or has been, in the wrong.

The gravity of the matter in question is utterly critical in that regard, and the gravity of terrorism, crime, etc., gives it a very different and very serious character by comparison to (most) of what occurs with school teachers and the young children in their classes, as an example. That said, you're quite right that who done wrong and what's to be done about it must be addressed to the extent that it is possible, otherwise the basic injustices that led to the problem, and subsequently the problem itself, may be impossible to rectify or at least mitigate.
Regarding the matters at hand related to current and future issues, I would propose that as with everything else there often are factors at work which even the most informed of us are unaware.

Recognizing this then how do we seek to address that which we do not see. Though a leaking pipe behind the wall may not readily show itself to us we non-the-less are able to locate it by seeking those signs which represent it's presence. So it goes with human nature and all else in the world. There is (I would assert) never a time in which everyone can be happy all the time about everything. Also as is often the case we humans have this need to find our direction through belief or faith in someone or something, even if that be ourselves.

Considering that this has been the case in as much of history as we have recorded then how else do we really approach it except through this context and in relation to our own capabilities to change what we can change.

For any given populous the underlying grievances will exist yet how they addressed by that society will largely relate to the Opportunities, or options which those who make up the have not's see as viable. The key difference interwoven by todays terrorist groups is that they-

1- Rely mainly on those within the middle to upper class to orchestrate their overall operations

2- Take advantage of any lacking of options for the lower class in recruiting
( This really is nothing new)

3- Are multi-purpose in their overall structural development
( They incorporate multiple organizational backgrounds into their overall presence)
a: Religious
b: Criminal
c: Military
d: international
The epitemy of equal opportunity workplace

In relation to the overall discussion-

I think we will find the base for future terrorism focally somewhere near those
in mid level power with the most to lose from changes due to globalism in all it's parts

Just my take on it..
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Old 12-10-2007   #13
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I think we will find the base for future terrorism focally somewhere near those
in mid level power with the most to lose from changes due to globalism in all it's parts
Or, perhaps, those most fearful of the change brought about by cultural globalism. (For example, traditionalist Muslim men who see young Muslim girls wearing skin tight jeans.)

Or, perhaps, those who see the world moving past them with no hope of being able to join the parade, and looking for someone to blame. (For example, young men from Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. who have an engineering degree without the family connections to find appropriate work.)

Or, perhaps, a parent whose children died in an cholera epidemic brought about by lack of clean water, in a country governed by a kleptocracy. (Pick your third world country.)

Or, perhaps, a normal, everyday sociopath/psychopath who just enjoys killing.

Some of these we could address, at least in part. But in 2003 we took strong action to remove a kleptocrat from power, and I don't need to comment on how that turned out. (I'm not referring to the incompetence displayed by our DoD in managing the occupation prior to Petreus. I'm referring to the behavior of the MSM and social "elites" in condemning the US for ending the reign of terror in the first place.) As to whether we will address them ... I don't see any serious move to remedy problems in Darfur - beyond "elites" wringing their hands about how tragic the situation is, and, of course, holding conferences on the "crisis" at five star hotels. (The same "elites," by the way, who didn't do anything in Rwanda.)

Just as a focal point, what do we expect to happen in Zimbabwe over the next few years? What kind of terrorist activities can we expect from the Mugabe government against its people? What kind of response can we expect from those people in return? How long before wide spread famine begins? What bill are we going to be told to pick up, without, of course any interference in the "internal politics" of Zimbabwe's ruling kleptocrats/lunatics, who created the crisis to begin with? And how will the victims spread the pain? Will they use terrorism to involve other African countries? European countries?

I could not agree more
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...that we need a strategy that is multidimensional, that more effectively engages the international community, and that does a better job of preserving basic values, even while changing the doctrines and rules that govern our response.
However, before that can occur, the West in general, and the US in particular, need to do some serious soul searching. A few of the topics might include: the difference between moral position (committing troops and dollars to ending a situation such as Darfur) and moral posturing (viewing Darfur with alarm and forming a discussion group to talk about how awful it is); the difference between journalism and propaganda (referring to the "Global War on Terror" as opposed to renaming it "The So-Called Global War on Terror"); do we really have any moral obligation to band aid the problem (e.g. food aid to Zimbabwe) if we don't have a right or obligation to fix the problem (e.g. food aid to Zimbabwe delivered by the 82nd Airborne and a couple of MAUs)?

I know it will be controversial, but one the Bush had dead on right: we are going to have terrorism with us until we remove the root causes that lead people to adopt it.

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Old 12-10-2007   #14
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Or, perhaps, those most fearful of the change brought about by cultural globalism.

Or, perhaps, those who see the world moving past them with no hope of being able to join the parade, and looking for someone to blame. (For example, young men from Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. who have an engineering degree without the family connections to find appropriate work.)

Or, perhaps, a parent whose children died in an cholera epidemic brought about by lack of clean water, in a country governed by a kleptocracy. (Pick your third world country.)

Or, perhaps, a normal, everyday sociopath/psychopath who just enjoys killing.

Some of these we could address, at least in part. But in 2003 we took strong action to remove a kleptocrat from power, and I don't need to comment on how that turned out. []As to whether we will address them ... I don't see any serious move to remedy problems in Darfur []

Just as a focal point, what do we expect to happen in Zimbabwe over the next few years? What kind of terrorist activities can we expect from the Mugabe government against its people? What kind of response can we expect from those people in return? How long before wide spread famine begins? What bill are we going to be told to pick up, without, of course any interference in the "internal politics" of Zimbabwe's ruling kleptocrats/lunatics, who created the crisis to begin with? And how will the victims spread the pain? Will they use terrorism to involve other African countries? European countries?

I could not agree more

However, before that can occur, the West in general, and the US in particular, need to do some serious soul searching. A few of the topics might include: the difference between moral position (committing troops and dollars to ending a situation such as Darfur) and moral posturing (viewing Darfur with alarm and forming a discussion group to talk about how awful it is); the difference between journalism and propaganda (referring to the "Global War on Terror" as opposed to renaming it "The So-Called Global War on Terror"); do we really have any moral obligation to band aid the problem (e.g. food aid to Zimbabwe) if we don't have a right or obligation to fix the problem (e.g. food aid to Zimbabwe delivered by the 82nd Airborne and a couple of MAUs)?

I know it will be controversial, but one the Bush had dead on right: we are going to have terrorism with us until we remove the root causes that lead people to adopt it.
As to how many such threats may be dealt with, and indeed how many of them become direct threats to us, is in some measure both limited, and in some measure due to our own failures to recognize and observe our own limitations. That the overeducated and underemployed 20- and 30- something sons of the Saudi middle classes can't get good work (and subsequently cannot marry), and have been conditioned by their families to refuse menial work (which is considered degrading and to be done by hired foreigners) because of social favouratism/nepotism in particular and the sheer weight of resources that go to support the Saudi ruling classes in general, is something that we cannot change, nor can we change the fact that the aforesaid marginalized young men of the Saudi middle classes subsequently form the single largest recruiting pool for Al-Qaida. We can and must make political efforts to encourage and assist the Saudi Goverment to undertake the necessary social reforms to change or at least mitigate the situation, but we cannot do that by ourselves, nor make the Saudis do that, let alone overcome the powerful resistance of the ruling classes to such reforms.

Furthermore, to the extent that we appear to support (in particular by the past or present stationing and operations of our troops in "Muslim" areas, and especially Saudi because it contains Mecca), even tacitly, the ruling classes in Saudi Arabia, seems to provide a pretext to hate us. Additionally, the presence of "Western"-style popular culture that offends many local sensibilities (said popular culture also offends many Western sensibilities too) aggravates the situation. Conveniently for the Saudi ruling classes, of course, we then become the target of anger and hatred of those whom the ruling classes have marginalized. And we can do no more to disengage ourselves from those ruling classes, practically speaking, than what the global need (including our own ) for ME petroleum resources in turn necessitate our having good working relations (relatively speaking) with the Saudi ruling classes. Couple that with our relations with Israel, and we provide a convenient whipping-boy for the frustrations of the marginalized classes there. Until we can lessen or eliminate our dependence upon ME petroleum and have our relations with Israel somehow become a non-issue in the ME (the prospects for which are extremely remote), we are stuck with the hand we've got.

Extending this to other situations, such as Zimbabwe and perhaps even Sudan, one of the common threads that emerges is that one of the fundamental problems is the relationship of the ruling classes to the rest of their society; typically, the ruling classes are inclined to kleptocracy and even to ethnocentrism/tribalism. Saudi Arabia is more or less a case of kleptocracy, and at the very least social favouratism; I hesistate to say tribalism as well because I am not sufficiently familiar with the tribal memberships of the middle classes and their relations with those of the upper classes. Zimbabwe is clearly a case of both kleptocracy and tribalism, although the terrorism generated is directed against against its own citizenry, especially those outside of the ruling tribe (the latter of course forming the power base of the ruling party and providing its armed muscle). Sudan is not as clear to me, although certainly the element of "African" versus "Arab" is in play alongside tribalism (I believe at least) amongst the various rebel groups through the country (Darfur included); an element of kleptocracy is also seemingly present, particularly given the fighting between the various sides over specific areas that contain mineral and especially petroleum deposits. And Sudan has hosted Al-Qaida in the past; present indications of said are (publicly) muted.

In all three cases, the ruling classes either create the conditions for terrorism, such as in Saudi Arabia, create and wield the terrorism themselves, as in Zimbabwe, or there is a mix of both, as in Sudan. To the extent that we may be able to spur the ruling classes of such countries to remove or substantially mitigate the conditions that they have created or to cease using or sponsoring terrorism themselves, then this is largely the extent to which we can do something about the creation of bases for terrorism and the like. Unless said countries actually attack us with grave and certain damage inflicted or to be inflicted by them, the military option is very limited, or even non-existent. It may even be wasteful and perhaps counter-productive anyway.

We will not be free of the scourge of their terrorism until the ruling powers of the countries from which it originates change their own ways. We cannot do that for them. We can only try to hold the line, and try to lend assistance (if they will accept it) while they (if they) try to reform themselves. In any case, we must see and accept our own limits in what we can and cannot do about the sources of terrorism and within those limits do what we actually can and should to mitigate the problem. Finally, we must recgonize above all that it is not just our problem, but mainly their (the ruling classes of the countries that are the sources of terrorism) problem; they have to fix it, and they may, or they may not. Either way, we have to live and deal with it as best we can.
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Old 12-10-2007   #15
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We will not be free of the scourge of their terrorism until the ruling powers of the countries from which it originates change their own ways. We cannot do that for them. We can only try to hold the line, and try to lend assistance (if they will accept it) while they (if they) try to reform themselves. In any case, we must see and accept our own limits in what we can and cannot do about the sources of terrorism and within those limits do what we actually can and should to mitigate the problem. Finally, we must recgonize above all that it is not just our problem, but mainly their (the ruling classes of the countries that are the sources of terrorism) problem; they have to fix it, and they may, or they may not. Either way, we have to live and deal with it as best we can.
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Old 12-10-2007   #16
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Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
However, before that can occur, the West in general, and the US in particular, need to do some serious soul searching. A few of the topics might include: the difference between moral position (committing troops and dollars to ending a situation such as Darfur) and moral posturing (viewing Darfur with alarm and forming a discussion group to talk about how awful it is); the difference between journalism and propaganda (referring to the "Global War on Terror" as opposed to renaming it "The So-Called Global War on Terror"); do we really have any moral obligation to band aid the problem (e.g. food aid to Zimbabwe) if we don't have a right or obligation to fix the problem (e.g. food aid to Zimbabwe delivered by the 82nd Airborne and a couple of MAUs)?

I know it will be controversial, but one the Bush had dead on right: we are going to have terrorism with us until we remove the root causes that lead people to adopt it.

[/rant]
I agree with what your saying but it just reminds me of the part about humanities I hate so much.(because it's so confusing)

Sometimes you have to do the right thing, but sometimes the right thing is the wrong thing, unless your someone else looking at it then the right or wrong things might be something different all together.

Last edited by Ron Humphrey; 12-10-2007 at 07:55 PM. Reason: I can't spell either
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Old 12-10-2007   #17
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For the breakdown, I feel so much better now
Sorry Ron, didn't mean to come across as a pessimist (I actually thought that I was kind of hopeful!)
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Old 12-10-2007   #18
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Sometimes you have to do the right thing, but sometimes the right thing is the wrong thing, unless your someone else looking at it then the right or wrong things might be something different all together.
indeed.

One of my standard fallbacks is the old axiom: If it's stupid but it works, it ain't stupid.

Another one is: the right thing happens so rarely, when it does it's churlish to look too closely at why.
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Old 12-10-2007   #19
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In any case, we must see and accept our own limits in what we can and cannot do about the sources of terrorism and within those limits do what we actually can and should to mitigate the problem. Finally, we must recognize above all that it is not just our problem, but mainly their (the ruling classes of the countries that are the sources of terrorism) problem; they have to fix it, and they may, or they may not. Either way, we have to live and deal with it as best we can.
I took the above as a succinct, pragmatic assessment. The point of discussion I was trying to get at is the need for a more sober and responsible assessment of what we can and should do. By that, I mean proactive effort to alter the situation in a timely manner, with military force if necessary, and not the endless, inactive deploring that seems to be the norm.

e.g. Queen Victoria deplored the sub Saharan slave trade, but she also sent Chinese Gordon to Khartoum to try and end it. (Her Majesty might also have sent a bit more in the way of troops for him to do it with, but that's another topic.)
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Old 12-10-2007   #20
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I took the above as a succinct, pragmatic assessment. The point of discussion I was trying to get at is the need for a more sober and responsible assessment of what we can and should do. By that, I mean proactive effort to alter the situation in a timely manner, with military force if necessary, and not the endless, inactive deploring that seems to be the norm.

e.g. Queen Victoria deplored the sub Saharan slave trade, but she also sent Chinese Gordon to Khartoum to try and end it. (Her Majesty might also have sent a bit more in the way of troops for him to do it with, but that's another topic.)
Agreed J Wolfsberger,

The world's not going to get any better by just sitting back and crying over it. And sometimes, such as in Afghanistan, you actually must use military force to stop the threat, or at least to push it back from home.

First off, we cannot act weak or give the impression of weakness; and we must be consistent in both our objectives and "demands", and in the vigour with which we pursue them. So much of life in those parts of the world is a winners-take-all, losers-lose-all reality. I would like to say that we should really turn on the political pressure (quietly, and behind closed doors), and especially where possible with particular resort to financial pressures (since money is one of the things that talks just about anywhere, and especially in places like the ME, where point of wielding political power is to make or keep, money). Even a few months of hard financial pressure may at times allow for some real political progress, if one is ready to act upon opportunities so afforded, while they are still open.

But this is a risky and even dangerous approach at times, and it may not only fail, but indeed backfire and turn an ally into and enemy, or at least into an ally of an enemy. If we are not necessarily liked by other regimes, we need at least to appear to be the least threatening in comparison to their other threats. But, if we insist upon fundamental reforms to their societies because of the threats to us that their own politicies create, we are in quite a bind. In the case of the Taleban, it was no problem when not only did they provide Al-Qaida with safe haven and bases, but indeed protected them despite Al-Qaida's attacks on us; we were obliged to overthrow the regime then in order to deal with the terrorists.

But in the case of Saudi Arabia, despite its being the very source of Al-Qaida and much of its funding and personnel, the Saudi rulers were not supporting them in their terrorist attacks upon us, even if many donors came from the ruling classes and many recruits came form the middle classes. And in response to our diplomatic pressures, the Saudis have subsequently engaged in measures to deal with Al-Qaidi. We are not therefore justified in overthrowing the Saudi Government. But we must insist upon the Saudis doing their best to root out Al-Qaida and the conditions that spawned it; to a limited extent we have been and may continue to be successful in that regard. Furthermore, recognizing the threat to its own survival, the Saudi government is encouraging more and more of its disaffected and unemployed middle class men to work blue collar and menial jobs. A hard sell to be sure, but the Saudis are cutting back on the number of foreign workers let in to perform said jobs.

As to military force, where, as in Afghanistan, we were obliged to use to deal with an enemy that was actively attacking us, we have to use the maximum force avaiable to us, not the minimum, again, as we did in Afghanistan. We can see the results of that now, when we relied upon local troops to help close the ring around Tora Bora. For the cost of a handful more infantry battalions on the ground, we might have bagged the AQ leadership then and there; whatever insurgency that may or may not have followed in time anyway would not have been as much of a concern, or a threat as it is now.

Unfortunately, the invasion of Iraq has largely eliminated most of our military options in such regards. Admittedly, I consider the invasion of Iraq to have been unjustifed in the first place; that said, what's done is done and the war must be won, in so far as "winning" is possible in COIN. At present we possess neither the available military power, nor even perhaps the political will, to intervene militarily where we may need to, whether now or in the future. Furthermore, with such a substantial proportion of the Army and Marines equipped, oriented, and fighting COIN wars, they may not be in very good shape to engage in major interventions or conventional wars. Yes, we need to be able to wage COIN, and wage it successfully. But it should be just one mission, and certainly not the main mission, that our force structure and our training needs to be directed towards.

The Marines are pretty much well adapted for either intervention or for COIN missions; the Army rather less so. Armoured and Mechanized Infantry Formations are better suited to major intervention operations and of course conventional warfare, and they really should concentrate on that, especially III Corps. I Corps and XVIII Airborne Corps should concentrate more upon intervention operations and COIN, with perhaps somewhat less emphasis on major conventional wars - this is what the Marines more or less do themselves. With 2/3rds of the Army and most of the Marine Corps optimized for intervention and COIN missions, taking down regimes like the Taleban or the ZANU-PF (if that becomes clearly necessary) or in places like Darfur, Rwanda or the Congo, etc. III Corps would be largely reserved for the big wars or major operations.

Where the principal consideration is humanitarian, such as in much of Africa, we should be getting a grip on other countries (especially former colonial powers, but others as well) to accompany us and share the responsibility. Where the principle interest is a real and direct threat to national security, we have to be able to handle that ourselves and not wait for someone else's support or approval. However, until the Iraq mission begins to wind down in earnest, the forces available for either type of action are pretty minimal.

Apologies for the long post; I was trying to put things into context.
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