Sunday, May 13, 2007

Starting off as an " on the ground" edition.

Top Billing!: Steve DeAngelis blogs from Kurdistan "An Overview of Kurdistan " and "Resilience in Kurdistan". Steve's observations of " the other Iraq" mesh well with similar firsthand reports from Chirol who recently spent an extended time in Northeastern Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan and the Caucasus ( yea, verily, up to the very border of Iran).

SWJ Blog has LTC. Dave Kilcullen on "Religion and Insurgency" and Bing West's response "A Quick Note on Religion and Insurgency" ( Note: West is a former Reagan administration Assist. SecDef and correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, recently returned from Iraq. Dr. Kilcullen is a State Department official, Australian counterinsurgency expert and an adviser to General Petraeus).

Also from SWJ Blog, blogfriend Josh Manchester (formerly of "The Adventures of Chester" and TCS) has his first post up "The Strategic Corporal vs. The Strategic Cameraman".

Fabius Maximus at DNI has started a new series "What if bin Laden were smart, like Dr. No or Ernest Blofeld? or 28 Articles: a guide to a successful insurgency against America"

It's not so much that Bin Laden is a dope, clearly he isn't; it's that he and his insular cohorts have no real grasp on America, beyond what they read on the internet and get from American Islamists in al Qaida ( who converted because they were alientated and rootless individuals, seeking a lodestone by which to organize their lives). Bin Laden understands the U.S. almost as poorly as Bush officials understand intra-Islamic divisions.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta - "Russia: anti-Americanism stake might fail"

That's it !


Hi Mark,

I think you are incorrect about Bin Laden's understanding of America. He understands us much more than we would like to believe.

As I read Maximus' article, one thing became clear; Bin Laden and al Qaeda are doing exactly what they need to do to against us. Fabius talks about our internal cohesion, but that is being eroded by our continued involvement in Iraq.

If anything, al Qaeda is doing only that which is necessary. They know that if they come out with these stories for the American people in a concerted fashion, it would be a lot easier for the administration (and even its opponents) to make it seem as al Qaeda propaganda and hence, not believable. For them, Iraq has provided a bounty in terms of their strategy. First, it undermined our relationship with our allies both in the West and in the region. Second, our military is strained, and there is a perception that we have been weakened by this war. Third, the way in which this administration has handled the Iraq campaign has undermined our internal cohesion by making it more difficult for this administration, or any future administration to make a case for war (even when legitimate) because everyone will question our intelligence and plans. Fourth, the push to war with Iran threatens to pit the US against Eastern powers which depend on Iranian energy resources, such as China and India, giving Bin Laden exactly what he wants, a large power opposing American hegemony in a new global struggle that would pull American attention away from al Qaeda and its long term project. Imagine what would happen if we had to reposition our forces throughout the pacific to account for an emerging Chinese offensive threat. In other words, the strategy is when your enemy is causing itself the most harm, stand back and let him.

I say Bin Laden is not familiar with America due to two things - his standing inability to communicate an IO message to the American people that the recipients find understandable ( not persuasive, just comprehensible) and the AQ thesis on our "center of gravity". In comparison to AQ's ideologists, the North Vietnamese understood us very well.

A reasonable case can be made that I am wrong, certainly but events that prove favorable to al Qaida may be simple correlation and not proof of comprehension of America. Every goof by Bush in Iraq is not connected to AQ strategy ( or even invading Iraq itself - dealing with Saddam was always high on the Bush II agenda pre-9/11)

Nor is a strong Russia,India and China Bin Laden's aim, even if they " counterbalance" America they will still, in Bin Laden's worldview, be "near enemy" infidel oppressors of Muslims.
I think nykrindc is right, as is Mark.

My article, first in a series, raises two points concerning the dangers facing America.

1. Our foes are still immature at waging 4GW. As they learn -- and they are learning -- they will be able to unleash far more serious attacks on us. And by that I do not mean killing people, who will be mourned and were going to die anyway. 4GW attacks can do far more damage.

2. The other side of this coin is that America’s governmental institutions appear structurally unable to effectively respond to 4GW threats.

The responses to this article signaled another important development. A note on this will be published soon.

" Our foes are still immature at waging 4GW. As they learn -- and they are learning -- they will be able to unleash far more serious attacks on us."


Fortunately, at present, they are hindered by their own Islamist ideological blinders. Our problems will really start only when the zealots are replaced by motivated pragmatists who do not carry that baggage. Ramzi Youssef may have failed to bring down the towers but he, unlike Mohammed Atta, intended to live to fight another day. AQ having a future depends on attracting more Ramzis and fewer Attas.

We are potentially capable of presenting competing narratives that can blunt such an appeal. The will to do so - and the competence- is not present in the USG

"The other side of this coin is that America’s governmental institutions appear structurally unable to effectively respond to 4GW threats."

True. Low resilience. Poor and politicized information flow. Preference for hierarchy and the control of paralysis rather than decentralization and adaptiveness.
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