Friday, June 30, 2006

Is it a war or not?

It is time that we make a decision? Are we in a genuine all out war with the Al Qaida type religious fanatics or not? It seems that the majority of the west is still very confused on this issue. On the one hand we have liberal minded intellectuals de-emphasizing the attacks. They say it really is not a war but just some kooks protesting our colonialist aggressions and thirst for their oil both past and present. These terrorists just happened to get lucky with some hi-jacked planes. Local police action will take care of the problem. Maybe, they say, in some ways, we brought this upon ourselves! No need to change our lifestyles.
Then we have the conservative intellectuals trying to "circle the wagons" in order to prevent future attacks. They place themselves alongside our military and are the sheepdogs protecting the sheep from the wolves. Sounding the alarm loudly but blocked at every turn by the liberals claiming over-reaction.
I confess, I'm with the wagons bunch. I value mine and my family's lives and I have no doubt there will be more attacks.
Fact: We, the west, were attacked repeatedly by certain followers of the Islamic faith who have interpreted the Koran to their own evil ends which include a seething hatred for most of our western values. These people do not value human life and do not distinguish between civilian or military, young or old, their own or others. They do not follow Geneva Convention rules or even basic rules of human rights of any kind. They do not even communicate in any sense of the term "good faith" since even lying and every kind of corruption is approved and commended by their personal spiritual advisors and teachers as long as they interpret their actions as advancing their idea of Islam.
Unknown: How many of these anti-western terrorists are out there? Less than 1% of all Muslims? 20%? More? The key is dialogue between intelligent leaders of Islam and the west. Human nature is such that if the affront of terror is on a sufficiently extreme and devastating scale, the ultimate backlash , I fear, will be such as never seen before in the history of mankind. The few corruptors can cause the many innocents to be sacrificed. No sane human being wants that.

20 comments:

Pete's Blog said...

Roman

You ask many tough questions in this post. To respond meaningfully to all would take a book.

Having had experience in counterinsurgency activity I’d say “no or yes and maybe”. I’ve heard reports that two thirds of the al Qaida leadership (a loose coalition that conventional armies are ineffective against) has been killed or captured. This suggests an all out war over and above what the Coalitions are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, elsewhere internationally, and domestically, is unwarranted.

Fortunately I am relatively oblivious to the terms “liberals” and “conservatives” in the US setting. I don’t think a party political or ideological overlay of labels is particularly fruitful. Certainly one gets the nutters that oppose anything the US and its trusty allies (like Australia) do internationally.

Hitting al Qaida overseas (the best work has been done in Afghanistan) is a better strategy than over-reliance on a defensive (homeland security) strategy.

Your assesssment of the jihadist (militant Muslim) state of mind looks about right. Unfortunately bin Laden and his cronies are some of THE most “intelligent leaders of Islam” so the balance between discussion and fighting them is a tough one.

One issue that has warped the whole reaction to al Qaida is the association of the fight against this grouping with the quagmire in Iraq. In Iraq conventional forces (typically infantry and armor) have been unsuccessful in reducing the number of al Qaida types compared to the early 2003 numbers in Iraq. Note that the killing of al-Zarqawi owed more to the efforts of the intelligence services of at least 10 countries, some special forces and an F16 than the use of conventional forces (of course much more numerous in Iraq).

I agree that the further 9/11 recedes in time the more complacent people become. Learning the most effective ways to counter al Qaida and withdraw from a stabilized Iraq are the hard parts. The true, asymmetric horror is that it takes only 20 al Qaida terrorists using 2 real WMD devices in suicide bombings to cause a catastrophe worse than 9/11.

Pete

roman said...

Pete,

Thank you for your comments.
I agree that the questions I posed are very broad and would, undoubtedly, require answers that would fill several books. I asked the questions out of a sense of frustration. The frustration was brought on by comments made by friends and associates who continually downplay the dangers posed by al Qaida type groups. The recent articles in our leading newspapers that divulged the "secret" procedures involved in tracking electronic money transfers is just the latest example of this kind of non-caring attitude.
The horror of asymmetrical warfare (suicide bombing) is truly a terrorist's greatest weapon and can strike almost at will in any place so desired by them. That is what is so alarming.
Conventional armed forces are not the answer. Instead, an international coalition of special forces and information sharing is our best weapon.

beatroot said...

Fact: We, the west, were attacked repeatedly by certain followers of the Islamic faith who have interpreted the Koran to their own evil ends ...

That's not a fact at all. the word 'repeated' is just wrong. We in the west have occasionally attacked. The poor bastards in the third world have been repeatedly attacked.

Your recap of different positions is not correct either. There are; 'liberal' intellectuals who see that 'we have brought in ourselves (these people are called George Galloway).

There are liberals who think that we are under attack from Islamofascists (these people are called the Hitch and have lots in common with neo-cons).

There are also those who say that the threat from religious cranks has been massivly overblown and is a prejection pf the fact that the West has lost faith in itself. (these people are called the beatroot).

roman said...

beatroot,
Thank you for your comments.
When I use the term the "west" I include the 3'rd world countries. These countries may be poor economically but their goals, aspirations and values resemble the true western values. They are part of "us" as opposed to Islamofascist's idea of a regressive culture based on values from the 8'th century. This is how I was able to say that we have been attacked repeatedly.
As far as the fears of the west being "overblown". I totally disagree. This pattern of terror attacks if left unchecked will result in death and destruction on a massive scale in the near future. Please keep in mind that "suitcase" nukes or dirty bombs are a reality now but in the near future, they will be easier to posses due to the proliferation of nuclear technology. It has very little to do with the west's faith in itself and has everything to do with the interpretation of the Islamic faith by terrorists.

Vman said...

You can't fight a war with an organization that is spread out all over the world, is indistinguishable from the average muslim and practices guerrilla warfare. The best offense in this case is getting out of the middle east and focusing on homeland security.

beatroot said...

Where is the evidence of any 'suitcase nukes'? And can you give me a list of terorist attacks in what you call 'the west'?

roman said...

beatroot,

The facts about suitcase nukes can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suitcase_nukes
Please make note the section on the hundred or so that went missing after the Soviet collapse. That was almost twenty years ago. Imagine what could be made today.
For attacks on “western” interests, see here under heading of activities attributed by some to Al Qeada:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Qaida#Incidents_attributed_by_some_to_al-Qaeda

Western ways are in direct conflict with their aspirations to form a world wide caliphate. This is a clash of civilizations. One that is progressive and the other regressive. I do not see any sure way that this mindset can be changed in the foreseable future and therefore the west must go on the offense to diminish this threat as much as possible. We should be discussing tactics instead of imitating ostriches.

roman said...

vman,

Yes, I would love to see us out of the ME as soon as possible. I also think that once we get out, the threat will become somewhat smaller but it will not stop. I look upon the al Qaeda style terrorists as a modern day push to subjugate and establish a worldwide political and religious caliphate by force if necessary.

Renegade Eye said...

Is the West serious, about fighting Islamism? No!

All they want to do is contain it. They allow Islamism to grow in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria etc. without a peep.

How many rights do you want to compromise? Some who are in the police action camp, call for more security. How much do you want?

roman said...

Ren,

Add to your list the unfolding of a new Taliban style governmental rule in Mogadishu, Somalia. Unfortunately, the CIA backed warlords got their asses kicked and were driven out of the city. Now its sharia courts and stoning adulterers and hacking of hands for stealing food. Next, a welcome mat for bin Laden and his boys.
The rights to give up should be just short of the same rights given up during WWII. A legally measured loosening of the warrant restrictions as they apply to terrorist investigations now will hopefully prevent more draconian restrictions on liberty in the future.

beatroot said...

Ren: Is the West serious, about fighting Islamism? No!

All they want to do is contain it.


That is just all wrong. This isn’t about Islam as a belief system at all. The vast majority of Muslims seem to get through life without wanting to create a world caliph or something. This is not about a ‘belief system’. It’s about people who want to blow up other people. The reasons why this has got so barbarian in the third world is a question of economic, social, cultural development. It’s also about the post-cold war world and the growth of cross border terrorism.

If we want people not to think and act like medieval barbarians then we have to help promote development in the third world and act a little more confidently about our belief systems in the west.

Those are very very big issues and need a debate far larger than going on and on and on about Islam.

Roman: Please make note the section on the hundred or so that went missing after the Soviet collapse.

So what happened to them, then? Nothing.

Imagine what could be made today.

Making nuclear material is very very very difficult and needs very very complicated and sophisticated technology. You seem to think you can knock up a nuke in your back garden in Kabul. Not so.

Apart from the attacks on troops in yemen and Somalia (and the reason they got bombed was because they were in the someone elses terrotary at the time, and you do tend to get things thrown at you when you do that) the wiki article does not show We, the west, were attacked repeatedly by certain followers of the Islamic faith who have interpreted the Koran to their own evil ends ...

It shows occasional attacks…and not nearly enough to justify anything like the completely exaggerated obsession with those occasional attacks that seems to have become very much the ‘western politics of fear’.

Nutty terrorists are as about as much a danger to me as a meteorite falling on my head.

roman said...

beatroot,
You said "Nutty terrorists are as about as much a danger to me as a meteorite falling on my head."
Yes, it probably has little to do with your personal daily concerns but this is only opinion that is anecdotally based.
Please imagine yourself as a commuter using the London tubes or NYC subway or Madrid commuter train. Also, imagine yourself as an office worker in the Sears tower in Chicago. Ask any of these working people what their biggest fear is and I'll bet the response is going to be a terrorist attack which can snuff out their lives.
In the future when Iran starts to supply nuclear WMD's to their Hizbollah and Hamas buddies, do you really think that Al Qaeda will be denied? Sure, we can keep ho-humming along for a while longer without a care but how long before the sh*t "hits the proverbial fan"? "Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

beatroot said...

Please imagine yourself as a commuter using the London tubes or NYC subway or Madrid commuter train.

I was and have been. The odds of anyone indivudual getting unlucky and being cuaght up in one of these ocassionally awful events are very very low. But governments have seen fit to pass authoritarian laws as if these things are a daily occurence (Patriot act , UK's Terrorist act etc).

The problem for those in the west has been massivly overblown and I think we should be a little more rational about it and get rid of these laws.

Being so fearful does the terroists job for them.

Whereas, for the poor buggers in Iraq its another story. And I think we should admit our part in that disaster...

sonia said...

Beatroot: The problem (...) has been massively overblown (...) governments have seen fit to pass authoritarian laws (...) Patriot act

You are half right. Laws like Patriot act are indeed useless, but the terrorist problem hasn't been overblown. The only reason the terrorists haven't attack the US since 2001 is because they fear American retaliation. Two Towers against Iraq and Afghanistan - that hasn't been exactly a profitable trade for them. And if there is another major terrorist attack on US soil the next president will make Bush look like Carter, and Teheran might become synonymous with nuclear waste.

Because most people look at it from the wrong end. The question isn't what Muslim terrorists can do to us. Not much. The question is what we can do to them. We can exterminate them all with one push of a button. That's what's scary - not terrorism, but the fact that frighten out of our wits by terrorism we might become mass genociders.

I fear that more than any Muslim terrorist attack....

Excellent blog, Roman. Thanks for the link. I've posted a link as well.

roman said...

sonia,

Thank you for visiting my blog. You
are welcome anytime.

polishpenguin said...

Sonia,

"but the terrorist problem hasn't been overblown."


I disagree, it has been overblown, big time. Ever since the terroist attack happened, we had the useless patriot act, we invaded Iraq and found out that there really wasn't anything there, we have the department of homeland security, which is a joke, and the U.S. miltary force is almost everywhere it seems, just like the British back in the 1890s.

I recommend seeing "9/11: Loose Change". It's a free video on Google and makes a very nice arguement about who really attacked us, and it might be surprising to find out.

This country used fear tactics to get the president's ratings back up and anything he said, the people would agree with him. Just like Stalin back in the day. Now, it's all starting to hit Bush back now.

Sad to say, those attacks were just excuses for Bush to do what he wanted to do.

roman said...

polishpenguin,

Thank you for your comments and the Google link.
Although it was very compelling in its presentation, I cannot accept the conspiracy theory that someone other than those Islamic extremist terrorists were responsible for the destruction of 9/11.
Why? It is inconceivable to me that the many individuals necessary to make this happen would be able to keep their mouths shut since this incident took place. If there were individuals who set explosive charges in these buildings, human nature is such that at least some of them would have blabbed about it by now.
Look at the way the press "jumps" on any new development whether true or false or newsworthy. They are not pursuing this angle to any great extent because it is just so improbable and incredibly "off the wall". This is because each point supporting the conspiracy has as many or more points that tend to disprove it at the same time. One example is buiding #7. It looks like an implosion but many building engineers will tell you that when a foundation of a building is compromised, as it was in this case, it will crumble in place the same way as an implosion. Each point for the case has as many points against it. Proponents of the conspiracy just report on the points which tend to strenghten their case. That is natural and logical. They have created a compelling presentation but when reviewing and comparing the actual prima facie evidence, the simplest explanation makes the most sense. I encourage you to examine the case for and compare it to the case against.

Boo said...

PolishPenguin: All I can do is roll my eyes. (Roman - keep talking sense into him please)

Sonia: valid points are overshadowed by your photo (whether that's you or not). If you're gonna show 'em that, they'll agree with anything you say. And what you have to say is worthwhile.

Roman: I certainly hope that all this "justification" for getting rid of terrorists doesn't mean you support the Israeli's (and the US's by extension) tactics.

Boo

mhelal2 said...

Guess who the first used the nucleat suits, was it USA?, or am I wrong, and it was for killing civilian, people tend to forget the hostory.

roman said...

Boo,

I was'nt trying to dodge your question, really.
You asked: "Roman: I certainly hope that all this "justification" for getting rid of terrorists doesn't mean you support the Israeli's (and the US's by extension) tactics."

I had to think hard on your question. The reason for this is that I really do sympathize with the Lebanese civilians caught in this showdown. The death toll is disgraceful and sad but what other options were available for the Israelis to defend their own civilians from the thousands of Katyusha Rockets being fired indiscriminantly into their towns and cities by mobile launchers. Once hostilities got under way, the IDF had no choice but to destroy Hizbollah's fighting strength. Their tactics were to attack "with overwhelming force".
The same tactic that many Democrats were accusing Bush of not using in Iraq. Remember how for several years, the complaint was that we went into Iraq with only a minimum force of 140,000 when we should have gone in with 300,000?
Maybe the way to avoid this kind of extreme collateral damage to innocent civilians is to not fight terrorists with conventional forces. Special commando units with licenses to kill terrorist leaders poses another dillema. This would be tantamount to political assasinations and can easily lead to worse outcomes.
Even this option was not available because Hizbollah was in fact not just a terrorist group but had, in fact, a conventional military capability.
Tactics are really the province of the military leaders.