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Old 02-02-2010   #21
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Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
While the Somali context isn't handled very well, the NYT nonetheless has an interesting, lengthy case study of the radicalization of Omar Hammami (Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki).

NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE PREVIEW
The Jihadist Next Door

By ANDREA ELLIOTT
Published: January 27, 2010
A very fascinating and well done article. Here’s what stood out to me:
Quote:
If anything has remained a constant in Hammami’s life, it is his striving for another place and purpose, which flickered in a poem he wrote when he was 12:

“My reality is a bore. I wish, I want, I need the wall to fall and the monster to let me pass, the leash to snap, the chains to break. . . .
“I’ve got a taste of glory, the ticket, but where is my train?”
Quote:
Yet for all of his social triumph, Hammami was consumed with a profound internal conflict. He didn’t know whether to be Muslim or Christian. On rare trips to Damascus when they were little, Omar and Dena were warned by relatives that they would go to hell if they weren’t Muslim, Dena recalled. In Perdido, their mother’s family insisted that hell was reserved for non-Christians.
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A trip to Damascus the summer before Hammami’s sophomore year would make a lasting impression on him. He loved the order of things: how his aunts waited on him, how his male cousins shared a “cohesiveness of brotherhood,”...

When he got back to Daphne, Hammami remained conflicted. One night before he went to sleep, he turned to God for guidance. “Slowly I started to incline toward Islam,” he later wrote to his sister, “and my heart became tranquil.”
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Hammami plunged headlong into Salafism, mastering its nuances and lexicon. The movement gave him a new sense of brotherhood and discipline. But it was, above all, “an excuse to disobey his father,” recalls Joseph Stewart, a Muslim convert who became close to Hammami.
Quote:
Hammami concluded that his Salafi mentors had been “hiding many parts of the religion that have a direct relationship to jihad and politics,” he wrote. He began searching for guidance on the Internet, Culveyhouse says, discovering a documentary about the life of Amir Khattab, a legendary jihadist who fought in Chechnya. The documentary traces Khattab’s evolution as a promising Saudi student who gave up a life that “any young man would desire” to embrace a higher purpose. Hammami was mesmerized, Culveyhouse recalls.

....
Back then, Hammami and Culveyhouse talked about jihad in the way that star football players at Daphne High School dreamed about the N.F.L. The idea remained romantic and hypothetical.
Quote:
That same month, Hammami seemed more taken by his cause than ever. “I have become a Somali you could say,” he wrote in the December e-mail message. “I hear bullets, I dodge mortars, I hear nasheeds” — Islamic songs — “and play soccer. Sometimes I live in the bush with camels, sometimes I live the five-star life. Sometimes I walk for miles in the terrible heat with no water, sometimes I ride in extremely slick cars. Sometimes I’m chased by the enemy, sometimes I chase him!”

“I have hatred, I have love,” he went on. “It’s the best life on earth!”
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Old 02-03-2010   #22
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The asshole sounds like half the guys in my boot camp platoon. Bored kids looking for meaning and finding it in the wrong place. Sometimes I think 70% of our jihadi problem is the lack of a decent non-religiously oriented "cause" or institution in most Muslim countries --- a Marine Corps equivalent to join in order to find challenge and a sense of identity.
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Old 02-03-2010   #23
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Hi Tequila,

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Originally Posted by tequila View Post
The asshole sounds like half the guys in my boot camp platoon. Bored kids looking for meaning and finding it in the wrong place. Sometimes I think 70% of our jihadi problem is the lack of a decent non-religiously oriented "cause" or institution in most Muslim countries --- a Marine Corps equivalent to join in order to find challenge and a sense of identity.
This has been a real problem in North America for about 40-50 years or so. A friend of mine spent a fair amount of time researching some of the radicalization amongst Jewish kids in the 1980's, and the pattern is pretty much the same. I saw a similar pattern looking at a lot of people who joined modern Craft and some of the Charismatic groups as well.

It is one of the central problems in large, secular societies - we don't have many good, functioning, rites of passage. Also, because there isn't a single, unifying, religious symbol system, we have a mishmash which has a really hard time working together. Personally, I think the Romans had a much better system with the Pontifex Maximus .
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Old 02-04-2010   #24
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I saw a similar pattern looking at a lot of people who joined modern Craft and some of the Charismatic groups as well.
Is that Craft as in World of Warcraft?

Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2010 at 12:08 PM. Reason: Complete quote marks
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Old 02-04-2010   #25
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Default Dutch report on Ideology and Strategy of Jihadism

Hat tip to another observer Tim Stevens, Kings ICSR, who has pointed to this Dutch report; link:http://english.nctb.nl/current_topics/reports/ where it is the first report

Summary:
Quote:
The Jihadist movement is the driving force behind the current worldwide terrorist wave that is carried out on the pretext of a religious armed fight, the ‘jihad’. This movement derives its strength largely from its ideology. There is increasing consensus that Jihadism should be combated not only by repressing it, in the form of a war against terrorism or by means of intelligence organisations and police, but rather by also addressing it specifically at the level of ideology. The knowledge of Jihadist ideology is, however, still limited. This study aims to provide insight into this ideology, the strategy derived from it, and the method of production, reproduction, and propagation of this ideology and strategy, in order to improve the capability to counter Jihadist terrorism.
Yet to be read fully, on a quick scan looks interesting.
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Old 02-04-2010   #26
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Is that Craft as in World of Warcraft?
Nope - Craft as in Witchcraft .
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Old 02-04-2010   #27
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Has anyone done any work on why people became communists, nazis or fascists?

Anyone inquired as to why some Native Americans got "radicalised" and rejected the authority imposed upon them?

My point is, if what is radicalising them is "the political reality" then the only real issue is do they express their politics using violence. - if they do that, then kill or incarcerate them, in line with what the law allows.
Nothing you can or or say, will stop some kid becoming a suicide bomber - and if you can, then he's not one of the ones to worry about.
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Old 02-04-2010   #28
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Hi Wilf,

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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
Has anyone done any work on why people became communists, nazis or fascists?
Tons of work done after WW II, especially on the ability to compartmentalize (this is just an example).

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
Anyone inquired as to why some Native Americans got "radicalised" and rejected the authority imposed upon them?
Funny you should mention that - I'm talking with a colleague of mine about looking at that in the Canadian situation. And, yes, a lot has been written on that particular topic. The same can also be asked about why the Irish "got radicalized and rejected the authority imposed upon them" .

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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
My point is, if what is radicalising them is "the political reality" then the only real issue is do they express their politics using violence. - if they do that, then kill or incarcerate them, in line with what the law allows.
[tongue in cheek]

Well, I certainly would agree with the first part of that. As to the second, I'm sure some of our colleagues who are descended from the violent, godless, anarchist insurgents under MAJ Washington, might, possibly, disagree.

[/tongue in cheek]

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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
Nothing you can or or say, will stop some kid becoming a suicide bomber - and if you can, then he's not one of the ones to worry about.
Maybe nothing you can say or do can stop him or her from becoming one, but it can certainly start them becoming one .
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Old 02-04-2010   #29
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Default Nothing you can do?

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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
(Taken from and only partial) Has anyone done any work on why people became communists, nazis or fascists? Nothing you can or or say, will stop some kid becoming a suicide bomber - and if you can, then he's not one of the ones to worry about.
Wilf,

Over the decades lots of academic work has been done on radicalization; I assume in the past this research has reflected contemporary issues and after WW2 the totalitarian temptation. There are some continuities and what appear to be new factors.

Contemporary terrorism or political violence, is assumed to be the end result of radicalization and is best described as "an old wine in a new bottle". It is possible to dissuade and prevent a 'kid becoming a suicide bomber'. There is plenty of evidence to that effect.

There are many unresolved aspects to the preventative aspects of counter-terrorism, not helped when even the experts do not agree on the process, the signs and how to respond (as reflected in other threads).

Just a quick, considered response.
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Old 02-05-2010   #30
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Originally Posted by marct View Post
Tons of work done after WW II, especially on the ability to compartmentalize (this is just an example).
Quote:
Maybe nothing you can say or do can stop him or her from becoming one, but it can certainly start them becoming one .
....and you will probably never know what that was or when it occurred.

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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Over the decades lots of academic work has been done on radicalization; I assume in the past this research has reflected contemporary issues and after WW2 the totalitarian temptation. There are some continuities and what appear to be new factors.
Quote:
Contemporary terrorism or political violence, is assumed to be the end result of radicalization and is best described as "an old wine in a new bottle". It is possible to dissuade and prevent a 'kid becoming a suicide bomber'. There is plenty of evidence to that effect.
Guys, basically what this research is trying to do is ascertain why some people have the political beliefs they do. Essentially why did anyone vote for Tony Blair or George W?
The "kids" we are supposedly worried about have a political belief and they believe it enough to fight. .... so what?
Anyone asking which members of the USMC was "radicalised by 911?" Was George W. Bush?

I know why Palestinians and Tamils become suicide bombers. It's all pretty obvious once you get on their value ladder, but I very much doubt the practicality of any work that would be able to make them change their mind. If it were that simple, why do not folks simply do it, because the flow down is "Please accept our occupation of your land peacefully." - THAT IS WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO BELIEVE!
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 02-05-2010   #31
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Default Prolegomena to a longer, more critical post...

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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Hat tip to another observer Tim Stevens, Kings ICSR, who has pointed to this Dutch report; link:http://english.nctb.nl/current_topics/reports/ where it is the first report

.
I've read through it once quickly and am impressed with its grasp of the subject matter but (and it's a big BUT) I am still averse to describing Jihadists as some kind of fringe movement. Furthermore, and this irks me no end, the admonition to study the "ideology" of Jihadism when IMO it's not an "ideology" but a totalisitc worldview (or "religion", a word I have problems with in this respect too); being a Dutch (therefore dependant upon a post-modernist multicultural/relativist paradigm) product it is no wonder they are hard pressed to say the I word (thats Islam to you and I). Furthermore, the presentation and explication of Jihad follows almost to the letter what Muslim "moderates" would have us belive rather than revealing the centrality of Jihad to Islam (reminiscent of Calvin and the calling of the elect in extreme Protestantism). Also, and I think this is something not many have commented upon, is the strange prediliction we have of assuming that we and they inhabit the same "worlds" in which time and space are interpreted through similar paradigms but articulated through difficult languages (hence the priority of diplomacy, communication, radical- translation, et al) when in fact the conflict is not over "interpretation" (although that's a big part of it) but over "constituion" of the world according to different understanding of what the "good life" should be. It's not a question of somehow "getting through" to them (based on the assumption that we all want the same thing, see the world in the same way, and that everything is, at bottom, identitical with only our languages vielling reality) but instead its a question of whose "way of life" in the widest phenomenological sense is going to prevail in our respective AOs. We don't live (or "dwell" as Heideger would have said) in the same "world" and the until we begin grasping that issue (among others) we will always interpret the "jihadists" as we want them to see themselves and not as they actually do see themselves. Unfortunately, I can't copy and paste segments from the article to illustrate my point but I will attempt to do so in greater depth (and one hopes greater cohesion) later in order to more fully adumbrate my concerns.

OTOH here's an article I find better conforms to my own line of thinking although there are still issues I would accentuate and others I would relegate to the sidelines, S.P. Lambert, Y: The Sources of Islamic Revolutionary Conduct http://www.dia.mil/college/pubs/pdf/5674.pdf
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Old 02-05-2010   #32
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Query:

Is one "radicalized" by the government that they believe is oppressing them; or are they radicalized by the organization that comes along and offers them an alternative to that oppression?

As I always say, the Pied Piper is a fairy tale. If the conditions (real or perceived) of poor governance do not exist, no amount of leadership or ideology is going gain much traction with the populace.

Personally, I find the whole concept of "deradicalization" just one more blame shifting tactic to soothe ourlselves that we are merely victims here. This is not helpful, and it will not work.
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Old 02-05-2010   #33
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Query:

Is one "radicalized" by the government that they believe is oppressing them; or are they radicalized by the organization that comes along and offers them an alternative to that oppression?
Sir, I would make a distinction between groups like Palestinians and Tamils that become suicide bombers and Muslims in the West who radicalize. This material is more applicable to the later. The Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki’s or Hamburg Cell’s are not oppressed by their governments. I believe the organization that comes along offers the Salafi Jihadist script, which they reach for to fill an internal psychological void.

As has been mentioned by others before, the book/film Fight Club illustrates this dynamic substituting Salafi Jihadism for a revolutionary-anarchist movement.
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"We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives." - Tyler Durden, Fight Club
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Old 02-05-2010   #34
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Hi Bob,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Query:

Is one "radicalized" by the government that they believe is oppressing them; or are they radicalized by the organization that comes along and offers them an alternative to that oppression?
The answer to that question is "Yes" .

On a more serious level, we have a very nasty tendency in the West to want to assume mono-causal models since, if we can identify them, we can in theory gain some form of control over them. Personally, I'm part of that annoying emergentist camp.....

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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
As I always say, the Pied Piper is a fairy tale. If the conditions (real or perceived) of poor governance do not exist, no amount of leadership or ideology is going gain much traction with the populace.
At any given point in time and space, I might agree with you but, at a general level, I have to disagree. Ideologies, actually grand narratives is a better term since "ideology" implies a secular worldview with a political focus and they are only a sub-set of the totality of grand narratives, can spread within a population without requiring either a Pied Piper or going kinetic. Once spread, however, they can act as an emergent base from which political change emerges and, as part of that emergence, brings moral entrepreneurs - your Pied Pipers - to popular attention. "Governance", good, bad or indifferent, may have nothing whatsoever to do with the spread of a grand narrative that will, latter on, act as the wellspring for latter political contests that may go kinetic.

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Personally, I find the whole concept of "deradicalization" just one more blame shifting tactic to soothe ourlselves that we are merely victims here. This is not helpful, and it will not work.
Not in the materialist sense of immediately diminishing the pool of "radicals". Where it does, however, play a major part is in constructing and maintaining the, hmmm, the technical term would be "mana" or "spiritual power", of the opposing grand narrative. It allows for the process we could call "witnessing" to take place which, when we look at it at the population level, can be a pretty potent way to kill off key components of an opposing grand narrative.

Now, having said all that, I don't mean in any way to imply that they people setting up the deradicalization programs have a coherent theoretical model of what they are doing and why they are doing it, at least in the terms and sense that I see them. IMHO, this is just another example of the emergence of a process from a dynamic situation that is pretty much probable (BTW, I've seen and documented similar patterns in other areas).

Cheers,

Marc
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Old 02-05-2010   #35
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Query:

Is one "radicalized" by the government that they believe is oppressing them; or are they radicalized by the organization that comes along and offers them an alternative to that oppression?

As I always say, the Pied Piper is a fairy tale. If the conditions (real or perceived) of poor governance do not exist, no amount of leadership or ideology is going gain much traction with the populace.

Personally, I find the whole concept of "deradicalization" just one more blame shifting tactic to soothe ourlselves that we are merely victims here. This is not helpful, and it will not work.
In some environments yes, in others perhaps less so. In this case we're not talking about mass radicalization of a populace, but of disaffected individuals. Looking back at recent history we can see that these individual radicalizations generally have nothing to do with quality of governance. They're more likely to be driven by a combination of boredom, youthful energy with no immediate outlet, and in many cases generalized anger, often with "society" standing in for resentment toward parents and other immediate authority figuresd.

I'm not convinced that any level of quality governance will completely eliminate that fraction of a percent that comes out with a chip on the shoulder heavy enough to drive a turn to violence.
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Old 02-06-2010   #36
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Sir, I would make a distinction between groups like Palestinians and Tamils that become suicide bombers and Muslims in the West who radicalize. This material is more applicable to the later. The Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki’s or Hamburg Cell’s are not oppressed by their governments. I believe the organization that comes along offers the Salafi Jihadist script, which they reach for to fill an internal psychological void.

As has been mentioned by others before, the book/film Fight Club illustrates this dynamic substituting Salafi Jihadism for a revolutionary-anarchist movement.
I think you are whistling past the cemetery if you take the position of holding western governments blameless; be it in regards to shaping and supporting despots down range; or in subtle policies at home that create perceptions of disrespect or injustice among some segment of your nation's own populace.

When you combine foreign policies that support oppressive regimes of a country elsewhere, that has provided a significant immigrant populace to your country at home, and that populace holds such perceptions; I would advise you that you are sitting on a powder keg of your own making.

To simply blame the messenger or the message that actually motivates members of that populace to action is naive and dangerous.
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Old 02-06-2010   #37
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I think you are whistling past the cemetery if you take the position of holding western governments blameless; be it in regards to shaping and supporting despots down range; or in subtle policies at home that create perceptions of disrespect or injustice among some segment of your nation's own populace.

When you combine foreign policies that support oppressive regimes of a country elsewhere, that has provided a significant immigrant populace to your country at home, and that populace holds such perceptions; I would advise you that you are sitting on a powder keg of your own making.

To simply blame the messenger or the message that actually motivates members of that populace to action is naive and dangerous.
Certainly if an insurgency is driven by resistance to Western-supported despotism one would be right to revisit the policy of supporting despots. We found ourselves in that position with a depressing regularity during the Cold War, but that paradigm is not necessarily applicable in every circumstance.

In Iraq and Afghanistan the "insurgencies" (using the term loosely) are not driven by resistance to Western-supported despotism but by a desire to take advantage of a power vacuum left when Western governments removed despots. The Western supported governments in both cases are widely perceived as ineffectual and vulnerable and likely to collapse as soon as Western support is withdrawn, leaving the prize open for whoever has the means to seize it. Western support is perceived (probably accurately) as being unsustainable over the long haul, so the "insurgents" try to erode that support and gain position to take power when it is withdrawn.

AQ, for its own part, may have had its roots in resistance to foreign-supported government and foreign occupation of Afghanistan, but the power in question was not Western. AQ's continuing campaign is based less on resistance to Western-supported despotism than on a desire to impose a despotism more conducive to AQ's goals.

It is in some quarters fashionable to attribute all that happens in the world (at least all that involves violence) to a response to Western actions. In some ways it would be lovely if this were true: if everything everyone did was a response to our actions, we could easily control the responses by modifying our own actions. The world, alas, is a bit more complicated than that, and the non-West is not simply a reflexive responder to Western stimuli. There are people out there with their own agendas and they have both the will and the capacity to proactively pursue those agendas, for their own purposes and quite apart from any knee-jerk response.
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Old 02-06-2010   #38
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Certainly if an insurgency is driven by resistance to Western-supported despotism one would be right to revisit the policy of supporting despots. We found ourselves in that position with a depressing regularity during the Cold War, but that paradigm is not necessarily applicable in every circumstance.

In Iraq and Afghanistan the "insurgencies" (using the term loosely) are not driven by resistance to Western-supported despotism but by a desire to take advantage of a power vacuum left when Western governments removed despots. The Western supported governments in both cases are widely perceived as ineffectual and vulnerable and likely to collapse as soon as Western support is withdrawn, leaving the prize open for whoever has the means to seize it. Western support is perceived (probably accurately) as being unsustainable over the long haul, so the "insurgents" try to erode that support and gain position to take power when it is withdrawn.

AQ, for its own part, may have had its roots in resistance to foreign-supported government and foreign occupation of Afghanistan, but the power in question was not Western. AQ's continuing campaign is based less on resistance to Western-supported despotism than on a desire to impose a despotism more conducive to AQ's goals.

It is in some quarters fashionable to attribute all that happens in the world (at least all that involves violence) to a response to Western actions. In some ways it would be lovely if this were true: if everything everyone did was a response to our actions, we could easily control the responses by modifying our own actions. The world, alas, is a bit more complicated than that, and the non-West is not simply a reflexive responder to Western stimuli. There are people out there with their own agendas and they have both the will and the capacity to proactively pursue those agendas, for their own purposes and quite apart from any knee-jerk response.

First Afghanistan: There was an alliance of northern tribes in insurgency against the illegitimate Taliban government that was installed and supported by Pakistan. We went into that mix to get revenge against AQ and to wrest control of Afghanistan away from the Taliban with out, I assume, fully appreciating the role of Pakistan in their regime. The follow-on insurgency we are dealing with in Afghanistan now has nothing to do with GWOT, and has everything to do with the current Karzai regime that draws its legitimacy from the West/US; and the Taliban insurgency to challenge that; along with a general popular resistance against the western military presence in their country.

In Iraq there was no insurgency and no connection to GWOT. They just happened to be governed by a guy who pissed us off. The insurgency there was purely a response to our invasion.

This is the great irony, the two places we have sent our military to "defeat terrorism" in fact, have very little to do with the root cause of the political factors that gave rise to AQ and also that motivate many nationalist insurgents across the middle east (from places like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Algeria) to engage the West in acts of Terrorism.

Until we are ready to stop using GWOT as an excuse to attack the States that we don't approve of; and instead recognize that we are not being attacked by the populaces of our enemies, but are in fact being attacked by the populaces of our allies, we will not may true progress in defeating terrorsim.

This is the critical strategic point that we must address. The West supports a handful of the most oppressive regimes in the world across the Middle East, and it is the insurgent populaces of those countries that attack us; along with the relatives of those populaces who have migrated to western countries.

This is like a magicians trick. No one is seeing the real problem because we are all staring intently at the misdirection.

Yemen is the latest poster child for this. An oppressive despot being promised US aid to oppress and suppress the insurgent segment of his populace that dares to stand up to his autocratic rule all in the name of "GWOT" and because he is an ally. We can only expect more attacks on the west from this policy. We should be cracking down on the government of Yemen, not the populace of Yemen. Once we change our policies and refocus our military efforts accordingly the populaces of places like Yemen will find they don't need what AQ is selling; and they will also have little reason to feel that they must attack the US to be able to get out from under oppressive regimes at home.
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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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Old 02-06-2010   #39
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
First Afghanistan: There was an alliance of northern tribes in insurgency against the illegitimate Taliban government that was installed and supported by Pakistan. We went into that mix to get revenge against AQ and to wrest control of Afghanistan away from the Taliban with out, I assume, fully appreciating the role of Pakistan in their regime. The follow-on insurgency we are dealing with in Afghanistan now has nothing to do with GWOT, and has everything to do with the current Karzai regime that draws its legitimacy from the West/US; and the Taliban insurgency to challenge that; along with a general popular resistance against the western military presence in their country.
Largely agree, though "revenge against AQ" could also be stated as "disruption of State support for AQ and resulting safe haven". I'd also question whether the current conflict qualifies as "insurgency". An insurgency requires a government, and I'm not sure anybody other than us recognizes the Karzai assemblage as that.

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In Iraq there was no insurgency and no connection to GWOT. They just happened to be governed by a guy who pissed us off. The insurgency there was purely a response to our invasion.
Agreed, though to an extent the "insurgency", especially in the early stages, could be viewed as less a resistance to a Government than as armed competition to fill the vacuum left by Saddam's removal.

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This is the great irony, the two places we have sent our military to "defeat terrorism" in fact, have very little to do with the root cause of the political factors that gave rise to AQ and also that motivate many nationalist insurgents across the middle east (from places like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Algeria) to engage the West in acts of Terrorism.
I personally believe that the purpose of the 9/11 attacks was to draw the US into punching the tar baby and initiating military actions that could be dragged into wars of attrition. That was not a response to US actions or policies, but a carefully calculated proactive gambit aiming to simultaneously reinforce the narrative of Western aggression against Muslims (a narrative that was at the time becoming rather weak) and engage the US in a military action that would exploit our rather notorious unwillingness to maintain expensive and unpleasant long term actions. If I'm right, we gave AQ an abundance of what they wanted.

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This is the critical strategic point that we must address. The West supports a handful of the most oppressive regimes in the world across the Middle East, and it is the insurgent populaces of those countries that attack us; along with the relatives of those populaces who have migrated to western countries.
Where and when in this conflict have we been attacked by an insurgent populace resisting a Western-supported regime? AQ is not a populace, nor does it represent a populace. They have never managed to draw enough support from any populace anywhere to initiate an insurgency, though they have managed to successfully exploit insurgencies that they did not initiate.

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Yemen is the latest poster child for this. An oppressive despot being promised US aid to oppress and suppress the insurgent segment of his populace that dares to stand up to his autocratic rule all in the name of "GWOT" and because he is an ally. We can only expect more attacks on the west from this policy. We should be cracking down on the government of Yemen, not the populace of Yemen. Once we change our policies and refocus our military efforts accordingly the populaces of places like Yemen will find they don't need what AQ is selling; and they will also have little reason to feel that they must attack the US to be able to get out from under oppressive regimes at home.
Have we the capacity to transform the Yemeni government into something functional? I suspect not. We could withdraw support and allow that government to collapse, but the immediate outcome would likely resemble what we see on the other side of the strait, which would benefit neither us nor the populace. My opinion of the Yemeni government is no higher than yours, but we've a rather limited list of options for action, and any or all of them could work out badly.
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Old 02-06-2010   #40
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So, when in quick sand, struggle harder?

When in a rip current, swim faster?

When in a hole, dig deeper?

I prefer to subscribe to "If something isn't working, try something else." Coupled with the belief that usually when a guy thinks all his problems are someone elses fault, he is delusional.

Our current foreign policy is suffering from just such delusion. We are so sure of our goodness, our rightness, that we assume that any who dare to reject or resist what we offer or impose upon them to be "threats." They are either with us or against us, right?

I will completely agree that AQ has no populace. I repeat, AQ has no populace. They are a non-state political organization that is conducting a global unconventional warfare campaign. They target and leverage the insurgent populaces of other nations with common grievances to provide the manpower and funding to make their movement work.

You ask:

"Where and when in this conflict have we been attacked by an insurgent populace resisting a Western-supported regime? "

The first World Trade Center attack; the USS Cole, the Embassy bombings, 9/11; all of the foreign figher attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan; etc, etc, etc.

To make matters worse, the despotic governments that these insurgencies are struggling to affect now come to the US with hat in hand as great allies, and ask for money and weapons to use against their own people in the name of "combatting terrorism;" and we laud them as great allies...

We are being played, and we allow ourselves to be played because we fear the economic impact that breaking relations with these countries could cause to our economy. Ironic. Supporting them has trashed our economy even worse that what we feared would happen if we did not support them.

What I fear more than terrorism; what I fear more than the economic disruption that could come from damaged relations with Saudi Arabia, et. al; what I fear as we pursue these fear-driven policies; is that we are doing irrepairable damage to the reputation of the United States of America. That we standing up more for those who oppress more than for those who are oppressed. That we are becoming far less the country we see ourselves as, and becoming the type of country that we have always stood against.

It is time to face our fears and to get our country back on track; and no amount of military effort against the populaces of others will get us anywhere but deeper into the darkness that we fear.

As to having the capacity to "fix" Yemen. Not our job. We don't need to fix these guys, we need to give them some tough love and stop supporting their destructive behavior and demand that they either begin addressing the concerns of their popualces with our help, or ignore them and deal with the results on their own.

The "Good Cold Warriors" in DC think they have this figured out, but they are destroying us by clinging to relationships and methods that just don't bear up to the current age. We must evolve if we want to prevail.
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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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