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RPGWatch Forums » General Forums » Politics & Religion » The war on terror is over officially \o/

Default The war on terror is over officially \o/

March 31st, 2009, 22:45
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
Certainly. Most of the ones I have access to right now are in books but I'll see if I can dig up some more internet-accessible ones. I'm starting a lot of research into these topics in the next few days (for work/papers) and I'll PM you anything interesting I stumble across or post if it here if there's a lot of interest in them.
Much appreciated At worst even book titles could do (as long as they are relatively easy reads) as I could get the local library to order a copy. Are you a civilian researcher or is this part of a military career?

Not successful at all. There have been other plots that have been foiled (some public, some not). No one's arguing that the military/intelligence method can stop everything but by its nature it has a better chance then law enforcement.
I think part of our disagreement might be that you consider intelligence military while I dont. Intelligence is the preemptive tool, the military is as reactive as law enforcement (though it reacts on other things).

Once that's been done and we're dealing with more 'local' groups the idea is to turn it back over to law enforcement. Money, weapons, training, and personnel flows too freely across the world for us to leave everything up to the NYPD right now.
But what global groups are there left to combat? Al Qaeda Maghreb or whatnot dont get their training or weapons from a central source. Even for the 9/11 hijackers the most important training wasnt done there, but at a flying school in the west.

Money is another matter, but I dont think we can say that the monitoring of international fiscal transactions is a military matter.

Law enforcement has been pretty good at capturing the lowest level of people. We might be able to break up a cell or here with it, but the problem is we want to take out the guys at the top. The brains of the operation (and we've been somewhat successful using the military/CIA/whatever).
My point is that often there is no distant brain and to some extent the search for one is a chimera (old Al Qaeda being a notable exception). The central figures are more inspirational figureheads than actual planners. There is AFAIK no sign that the attacks in London and Madrid were masterminded by anyone outside the cells. As for using Navy seals to pick up a prime suspect in a location the police cant reach I have no issue with that.

Regarding the level of the captives I'm curious if you can tell me if the Swedish Gitmo bay detainee is a typical case: He is a fanatic who went to quran school in Pakistan and then went to Afghanistan to fight the infidel. Caught in battle and sent to Guantanamo. Guilty as hell of being an enemy irregular combattant of course (he was released but he refuses to give any explanation to what he actually did in Pakistan and Afghanistan). How common is this kind of foot soldier prisoner, and how much of a terrorist threat do such people actually pose?

I think that kind of Taliban foot soldier might be of some importance for the war effort against the Taliban for peace in Afghanistan, but is fighting and capturing him counter-terrorism per se? I support the Afghanistan mission and welcome the increase in US forces there, but most of the fighting isnt against terrorists except in the indirect sense of denying them a potential base.

It'd be a propaganda victory for both sides. We'd all get to feel good about ourselves for following the rule of law and the opposition would feel great because they have a new martyr executed in the cause of righteousness.
As long as the death is announced he'll be a martyr to his faithful, but not all Arabs belong in that camp. Furthermore the arab street isnt the most important recruitment base for terrorists that actually can reach the west. The arab middle class and alienated muslims already living in the west are the ones that have the potential to get here and do damage.

No matter what we do we're damned in the court of public opinion over there. Al Jazeera would criticize us no matter what we do. Look at Sudan - the ICC issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president for war crimes/genocide/crimes against humanity. The Arab League is freaking out and standing behind the Sudanese President.
I'm sure PJ can elaborate more on this with his first hand knowledge of the Arabic version, but what you do really makes a difference to Al Jazeera, and how they spin things make a difference to the Arab middle class that the 9/11 hijackers came from. Al Jazeera is one of the news sources many of those people trust (and trust a great deal more than they trust their own governments' spin).

The case of the Sudanese president is a wholly different matter for a whole slew of reasons (as a murderous head of state he is a colleague in more than one way, while Osama is the head of an NGO that wants to overthrow the house of Saud) and what the arab governments say doesnt necessarily have much weight with public opinion anyway. These guys are hugely unpopular with their constituencies.
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March 31st, 2009, 22:54
Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
The case of the Sudanese president is a wholly different matter for a whole slew of reasons (as a murderous head of state he is a colleague in more than one way, while Osama is the head of an NGO that wants to overthrow the house of Saud) and what the arab governments say doesnt necessarily have much weight with public opinion anyway. These guys are hugely unpopular with their constituencies.
And there's more than a little self interest in their concern about heads of state being held accountable for thier actions.
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March 31st, 2009, 22:56
Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
I think part of our disagreement might be that you consider intelligence military while I dont. Intelligence is the preemptive tool, the military is as reactive as law enforcement (though it reacts on other things).
Precisely, I'd add that if you don't have enough information that law enforcement can do something but you go for a military option there's a good chance you're bombing the wrong people.
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March 31st, 2009, 23:01
Originally Posted by V7 View Post
And there's more than a little self interest in their concern about heads of state being held accountable for thier actions.
Yep. Add that and that slamming an external enemy for attacking the motherland/coreligionists/whatever is a standard avenue for mobilising support in dictatorships.
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March 31st, 2009, 23:05
Originally Posted by V7 View Post
And thats just so wrong its not even funny. Law enforcement is only reactive? Have a look at the laws on conspiricy, racketering, association and indeed the raft of new laws on terrorism introduced all over the world in the last eight years. Don't confuse the FBI's incompetance with the laws structure. We've also got evidence of law enforcement lead policy working in the far tricker cases of the IRA, and ETA where the terrorists were much more closely intergrated into the target nation. The only terrorism experts I've seen advocating military solutions are military people.
I have. And we used law enforcement so well during the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Do you expect the NYPD or the FBI to go arrest these guys operating in Afghanistan or Pakistan? Or the FARC? Or various other terrorist groups operating in the Philippines? What about Chechen terrorist groups? The problem is TOO BIG for law enforcement to handle right now. Terrorism has changed - this isn't the IRA fighting for equal rights for Catholics, this isn't ETA trying to make its Basque homeland, this isn't the Red Brigades trying to establish communism. Hell, it's not even Waco or Ruby Ridge or Oklahoma City.

We're not seeing anyone kidnap German industrialists for ransom or the PLO hijacking a plane in order to get a random number of "revolutionaries" released from prison. The threat is larger then that.

At the international level the best tool we have to take out terrorist groups is the military. Like I said earlier, I'm not arguing for Navy SEALS to break down some guy's door in Bethesda. These groups are far too powerful, widespread, and interconnected to rely on law enforcement like we did (unsuccessfully) during the Clinton years (the only military response we ever took was to lob a few cruise missiles into Afghanistan and blow up that Aspirin factory). I'm saying if we are talking about the global war on terror to use the now-dead logo that we can't rely on law enforcement. It just won't work.

Originally Posted by V7 View Post
The warrent issue - easily fixed with a court that grants them swiftly specifically for terrorism or national security cases, hell they could even grant them retrospectivally in cases where there was an iminant threat, kinda like the one the US already has. Its also desirable from a legal view to release evidence during a trial but there are a number of countries that allow secret evidence if the judge can be convinced its in the national interest.
I'm willing to give you this, but the nightmare scenario is one where the ACLU/whatever successfully lobbies the judge into forcing the government to reveal its sources or let someone go. Besides, a lot of evidence may or may not be admissible in a civil trial. Probable cause, etc, etc, tends to screw things up.
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March 31st, 2009, 23:27
Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
Much appreciated At worst even book titles could do (as long as they are relatively easy reads) as I could get the local library to order a copy. Are you a civilian researcher or is this part of a military career?
Will do. I'll try to organize it into more recent/relevant stuff. One of the books I'm reading right now is a collect of authors, mainly from Yale, who write on National security issues. It's pretty interesting since it was written in November 2001 and even the more liberal authors are talking about stopping Saddam from acquiring "even more WMDs". Heh.

Civilian researcher. Nothing grand; most of what I know is readily available in the public sphere if you know where to look or care to sit in on think tank/NGO briefings in DC.

Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
I think part of our disagreement might be that you consider intelligence military while I dont. Intelligence is the preemptive tool, the military is as reactive as law enforcement (though it reacts on other things).
I think you're right - I'm also trying to make the case for military preemption and I don't think I'm doing a very good job. I'm also saying…say the CIA manages to find information on someone, it's probably going to be easier for the 101st (or a covert ops group) to take care of it then deal with all the "baggage" that would come from law enforcement. I think law enforcement is a great tool when you're dealing on the intra-state or local level but when you're talking about the nature of the threat today it's going to be inadequate until these links between organizations are severed at the international level.


Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
But what global groups are there left to combat? Al Qaeda Maghreb or whatnot dont get their training or weapons from a central source. Even for the 9/11 hijackers the most important training wasnt done there, but at a flying school in the west.

Money is another matter, but I dont think we can say that the monitoring of international fiscal transactions is a military matter.
The modern world makes it easier for these "national" groups to meet and connect. IRA guys train with FARC, for example, and Hezbollah has a pretty large and long-running "operation" in South America.

Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
My point is that often there is no distant brain and to some extent the search for one is a chimera (old Al Qaeda being a notable exception). The central figures are more inspirational figureheads than actual planners. There is AFAIK no sign that the attacks in London and Madrid were masterminded by anyone outside the cells. As for using Navy seals to pick up a prime suspect in a location the police cant reach I have no issue with that.
I agree with you for the most part. I don't think Osama and Al Zawahiri are involved in every operational decision, but we've captured guys in "middle management" who DID have direct knowledge of some of these events and were in the process of planning more. I think we need to use all the tools in our bag. But unless we're talking local cells (like the one that was going to attempt to bomb an Army base in new jersey) it's going to be difficult to use law enforcement to end it. There's actually a debate going on now between Bruce Hoffman and someone whose name escapes me right now about this.

A really short summary on the argument is that Bruce Hoffman argues that "al-Qaeda Central" is still a huge threat (it has largely reconstituted itself as an organization according to a good deal of estimates) whereas the other guy argues an equal threat is the "bunch of guys" scenario - basically a bunch of like-minded (local) radicals getting together and forming their own ad-hoc group to do something.

Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
Regarding the level of the captives I'm curious if you can tell me if the Swedish Gitmo bay detainee is a typical case: He is a fanatic who went to quran school in Pakistan and then went to Afghanistan to fight the infidel. Caught in battle and sent to Guantanamo. Guilty as hell of being an enemy irregular combattant of course (he was released but he refuses to give any explanation to what he actually did in Pakistan and Afghanistan). How common is this kind of foot soldier prisoner, and how much of a terrorist threat do such people actually pose?

I think that kind of Taliban foot soldier might be of some importance for the war effort against the Taliban for peace in Afghanistan, but is fighting and capturing him counter-terrorism per se? I support the Afghanistan mission and welcome the increase in US forces there, but most of the fighting isnt against terrorists except in the indirect sense of denying them a potential base.
They probably make up most of the people there. If he was Taliban I'd argue he should have possibly been held as a POW (the Taliban was the de facto government of Afghanistan, after all). And in terms of what type of threat the common foot soldier poses I'd hesitate to answer. It could range from "none" to "quite high". I guess if you're asking me if the common foot soldier has the resources to mobilize and plan some daring operation then I would say he's small fry and somewhat worthless. If you're asking me if he can still be really dangerous the answer would be yes. Timothy McVeigh was some random guy and he and Nichols sure as hell did damage to Oklahoma.

You get, say, four small fry guys to detonate some sort of explosive or set off hand grenades in four different shopping malls across the country at the exact same time just before Black Friday and I think that could do serious damage to our economy. Or just some random guy getting a U-HAUL full of fertilizer and blowing up a high-school gym during a pep rally. That would be pretty bad too.


Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
As long as the death is announced he'll be a martyr to his faithful, but not all Arabs belong in that camp. Furthermore the arab street isnt the most important recruitment base for terrorists that actually can reach the west. The arab middle class and alienated muslims already living in the west are the ones that have the potential to get here and do damage.

I'm sure PJ can elaborate more on this with his first hand knowledge of the Arabic version, but what you do really makes a difference to Al Jazeera, and how they spin things make a difference to the Arab middle class that the 9/11 hijackers came from. Al Jazeera is one of the news sources many of those people trust (and trust a great deal more than they trust their own governments' spin).
I don't disagree with you, but I think if you're talking about the muslims in the west who would consider committing a terrorist act…I'm not sure a trial would make much of a difference. I know polls done in the middle east show a good deal of people still don't believe Muslims/Arabs committed the 9/11 attacks, is anyone aware of any sort of polls being conducted in the West?

Originally Posted by Zaleukos View Post
The case of the Sudanese president is a wholly different matter for a whole slew of reasons (as a murderous head of state he is a colleague in more than one way, while Osama is the head of an NGO that wants to overthrow the house of Saud) and what the arab governments say doesnt necessarily have much weight with public opinion anyway. These guys are hugely unpopular with their constituencies.
True. Although there's also the Black Muslim vs. Arab Muslim thing going on with the Darfur situation too. Plays some sort of role there.
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April 1st, 2009, 00:41
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
I have. And we used law enforcement so well during the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Do you expect the NYPD or the FBI to go arrest these guys operating in Afghanistan or Pakistan? Or the FARC? Or various other terrorist groups operating in the Philippines? What about Chechen terrorist groups? The problem is TOO BIG for law enforcement to handle right now. Terrorism has changed - this isn't the IRA fighting for equal rights for Catholics, this isn't ETA trying to make its Basque homeland, this isn't the Red Brigades trying to establish communism. Hell, it's not even Waco or Ruby Ridge or Oklahoma City.
Now you're conflating gurellia insurgancy with terrorism. Seriously, why would anyone expect the NYPD to be dealing with Columbian rebels? FARC isn't killing people in NY. If you're agruing that you need the military to combat insurgancies in various areas of the globe I don't think you'll get much arguement from anyone but conflating them with the sort of terrorists who flew planes into the WTC is seriously misguided. I'd even agree there's a role for the military in distrupting leadership and infrastructure in hostile countries but what you're doing in Afghanistan at the moment isn't doing a lot to protect Americans in the US. Al Queda isn't an exestintial threat they arn't going to take over the US or the rest of the western world, its not particularly likely they'll have much more success even in the middle east, the Taliban only succeeded in Afghanistan because they were well funded, supplied and better organised than the warlords.
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April 1st, 2009, 00:54
Originally Posted by V7 View Post
Now you're conflating gurellia insurgancy with terrorism. Seriously, why would anyone expect the NYPD to be dealing with Columbian rebels? FARC isn't killing people in NY. If you're agruing that you need the military to combat insurgancies in various areas of the globe I don't think you'll get much arguement from anyone but conflating them with the sort of terrorists who flew planes into the WTC is seriously misguided. I'd even agree there's a role for the military in distrupting leadership and infrastructure in hostile countries but what you're doing in Afghanistan at the moment isn't doing a lot to protect Americans in the US. Al Queda isn't an exestintial threat they arn't going to take over the US or the rest of the western world, its not particularly likely they'll have much more success even in the middle east, the Taliban only succeeded in Afghanistan because they were well funded, supplied and better organised than the warlords.
FARC isn't a terrorist organization? These organizations are frequently interconnected and often train/work together - like FARC and the IRA. I'm saying law enforcement isn't going to be the main tool for a while (and I'm saying it did not prove effective in the Clinton years - the '93 WTC bombing, the Cole, the Embassy bombings, etc). Military force is required to put down these sort of things - I don't think law enforcement is going to touch Hezbollah forces in the Middle East or South America.

I'm not arguing that Al Qaeda is an existential threat or its going to somehow take over the west. I'm saying that when it comes to internationally connected terrorists group the main tool is military operations for the time being. Law enforcement doesn't have the funding, operational capabilities, etc that the military has. If you're saying law enforcement is going to be the main tool you're going to be satisfied with just grabbing the few random guys who decide to rent a Rider truck and blow up a building - which is all well and good but it's not going to do much in the long run.
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April 1st, 2009, 02:23
What you're going to find, Rithrandil, is that most of the folks around here prefer a passive stance. They're also the first ones screaming "How could you let this happen?!?" when the inevitable result of failed vigilance occurs. They want it both ways and you'll go nuts trying to make them understand the futility of that.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
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April 1st, 2009, 05:39
…it is not compulsary, but it's required of everybody…

…not a draft, but a universal service…

A is not A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtDSw…eature=related

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April 1st, 2009, 06:22
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
That's a rather a charitable view. A less charitable one is that Ayn Rand simply had a massive self-esteem problem combined with a massive ego (a seemingly paradoxical but not uncommon combination), and her philosophy constitutes one huge attempt at rationalizing away that cognitive dissonance.

This theory also explain Rand's appeal to a certain personality type.
Where is all your usual inflated of quotes of figures and data… ad hominem

"massive self-esteem and ego"? from the one who believes the few in government and central bank can solve the very economic problem created by their very own policy…

Ellsworth of The Foundtainhead, what you preach around here is the exact antithesis of Rand's philosophy.

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April 1st, 2009, 06:25
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
FARC isn't a terrorist organization? These organizations are frequently interconnected and often train/work together - like FARC and the IRA. I'm saying law enforcement isn't going to be the main tool for a while (and I'm saying it did not prove effective in the Clinton years - the '93 WTC bombing, the Cole, the Embassy bombings, etc). Military force is required to put down these sort of things - I don't think law enforcement is going to touch Hezbollah forces in the Middle East or South America.

I'm not arguing that Al Qaeda is an existential threat or its going to somehow take over the west. I'm saying that when it comes to internationally connected terrorists group the main tool is military operations for the time being. Law enforcement doesn't have the funding, operational capabilities, etc that the military has. If you're saying law enforcement is going to be the main tool you're going to be satisfied with just grabbing the few random guys who decide to rent a Rider truck and blow up a building - which is all well and good but it's not going to do much in the long run.
Boldface mine, 'cuz here's where I disagree.

Military force is a blunt weapon. It's effective only against big, visible, and stationary targets. The Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan were a good example.

Thing is, there are no such terrorist targets left. Sure, there's the FARC, the LTTE, and the Hezbollah, and even the Hezbollah showed in 2006 exactly how much military force would be required to dislodge it (translation: more than Israel can afford, i.e., a LOT). But the international terrorist cells that the US should be concerned about are dispersed among civilian populations all over the world.

IOW, the role of military force in combating terrorism is to be a deterrent and a blunt instrument to be used in case they manage to set up something like the training camp network they had with the Taliban.

The main counterterrorist weapons are intelligence, politics, law enforcement, and black ops.

Intelligence: to figure out who they are, where they are, and what they're planning. This is critical in foiling attacks, infiltrating networks, and what have you. If done well, it'll stop nine attempts out of ten or more.

Politics: attrition rates for terrorist groups are high. To keep going, they need to keep recruiting. To stop them from recruiting, the structures that keep them going must be dismantled. In some cases these are clear grievances (e.g. Hamas and Gaza). In others they're entrenched structures (e.g. FARC and the cocaine trade, or LTTE and their quasi-state, which appears to have gone underground again, though). In yet others they're ideological, religious, or social, which are much trickier to address (e.g. recruitment of alienated Muslim youth in the West into radical groups). This is a slow process, but it's the only one that can actually get rid of a particular terrorist threat.

Law enforcement: this isn't all that useful in catching terrorists, since, as you said, it's (mostly but not exclusively) geared toward solving crimes that have already happened, rather than preventing crimes from happening. However, terrorist groups and terrorist acts require a criminal infrastructure that can be very effectively degraded by law enforcement. They need money, which is usually from criminal sources. They need weapons and explosives, which they usually can't acquire legally. All this can be effectively fought with law enforcement. Law enforcement can also contribute to (and should be able to use) intelligence gathered by other means.

Black ops: as you've said, there are situations where the laws can't apply, because they weren't written for it. Black ops are there to plug this gap. They're a very dangerous weapon, since if they stop being black — they become something that's explicitly recognized, approved, and brought into the open — they erode the foundations of free society; the rule of law, civil rights, and what have you. But we still need them. In practice, the system of "plausible deniability" serves as a pretty good control on them. If states doing black ops know they're not supposed to get caught doing them, this keeps their scope under control — but they're still able to nab or kill individual targets when deemed absolutely necessary.

But no, the military isn't and can't be the main counterterrorist weapon. Militaries aren't designed for that anyway; they're designed to fight other militaries or, as a secondary role, to impose order on chaotic places. When faced with an enemy that doesn't wear a uniform and blends into the population, very bad things happen all around, and the actual objective is never met.
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April 1st, 2009, 06:28
Originally Posted by mudsling3 View Post
Where is all your usual inflated of quotes of figures and data… ad hominem

"massive self-esteem and ego"? from the one who believes the few in government and central bank can solve the very economic problem created by their very own policy…

What you preach around here is the exact antithesis of Rand's philosophy.
Don't you have some Captaining of Industry, inventing, engineering, or architecture to do, instead of hanging around here whining? Surely you count yourself among the fountainheads of our civilization, rather than the powerless masses at the mercy of their leaders?
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April 1st, 2009, 09:25
Originally Posted by mudsling3 View Post
…it is not compulsary, but it's required of everybody…

…not a draft, but a universal service…

A is not A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtDSw…eature=related
Sorry but this ticks me off.
Nice subliminal propaganda inserts telling me what to think at every line rather than actually listen and evaluate what Emanuel is saying myself. Apparently ordinary language has to be translated into whackjobspeak for some folks. God forbid anybody should put the bong down long enough to serve their country or community in any way.

In my day we had the draft, it looked and sounded nothing like this, it was perfectly legal and it sucked. Trust me, if there was any way you could have been drafted, Bush would already have done it. The only reason the average young man on the street isn't in Afghanistan right now is because my generation kicked up a fuss and made it politically untenable to send people off to war without their consent.

That won't be changing any time soon unless there's a ground invasion of this country.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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April 1st, 2009, 10:05
On the Pakistani front, anybody else find this disturbing?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn…av=hcmoduletmv

Baitullah Mehsud, an Islamist leader from the South Waziristan tribal area in northwest Pakistan, called several international news agencies in Pakistan to assert responsibility for the armed occupation of the police training compound that ended with 11 people dead.

He also told reporters that he was planning to attack targets in the U.S. capital in retaliation for more than 30 strikes by unmanned U.S. aircraft that have targeted suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries in northwest Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.

"Soon we will launch an attack on Washington that will amaze everyone in the world," Mehsud told the Associated Press. In a separate phone conversation, he told Agence France-Presse that his forces had carried out the police academy attack near the city of Lahore as an act of revenge for the U.S. drone raids. "There will be more such attacks," he said.

..The young, religious guerrilla leader has rarely been seen or heard in public. He has never before issued such a specific threat to do harm directly to the West. But he has denounced Western culture and values as decadent and vowed to bring strict Islamic rule to the area of Pakistan where he resides…

Mehsud, believed to be in his 30s, has been accused by Pakistani authorities of organizing the December 2007 assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in the city of Rawalpindi. In addition, he is believed to have organized the truck bombing of a luxury hotel in Islamabad, the capital, that killed more than 60 people last September.

Mehsud heads an alliance of extreme Islamist groups in northwest Pakistan called Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, or Taliban Movement of Pakistan…

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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April 1st, 2009, 11:40
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
On the Pakistani front, anybody else find this disturbing?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn…av=hcmoduletmv
I'll go out on a limb and say hypoerbole, I could be wrong but I don't think they have the capacity to pull off anything in the US.
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April 1st, 2009, 11:56
PJs pretty much summed up all the thoughts I haven't had time to put togather coherently today - its not that I think law enforcement is the only element in a sucessful counterterrorism campeign - I just think the military option has been hightly overrated and that much of what you're doing at the moment is at best inneffective (and quite possibly counterproductive) if your goal is to improve American security (example - we probably won't know the full cost of the air strikes and predator missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan for 20 years - thats a big gamble for low returns).

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Thing is, there are no such terrorist targets left. Sure, there's the FARC, the LTTE, and the Hezbollah, and even the Hezbollah showed in 2006 exactly how much military force would be required to dislodge it (translation: more than Israel can afford, i.e., a LOT). But the international terrorist cells that the US should be concerned about are dispersed among civilian populations all over the world.
And this is where I think you're going seriously wrong - if you really believe FARC=Hezbollah=Muslim sucessionsits in the Phillippines=guys who fly planes into buildings and the correct response is military then you need to be staging combat operations across four continents simultaniously. Quite frankly though if this is the thinking in Washington I doubt you're going to get anywhere because the real threat to American civilians probably isn't residing in Columbia, Lebanon, or Pakistan but in London, Paris, Germany, Saudia Arabia, and New York - and good luck sending in the B52s to those places.

Finally, is FARC a terrorist organisation? depends on how you define it really but its operationally and organisationally compleatly distinct from something like classic Al Queda terrorist cells. To the point I think its absurd to suggest a one size fits all military aproach to two very different organisations. If you wanted to cripple FARC for instance your best bet would be to curb drug consumption in the US.

Edit for a final final note - this isn't a war you can win by killing people (as heritical as that migh tsound to the military) at best you'll disrupt them a bit, push off a few attacks maybe, but you won't kill terrorists as fast as you produce them and you can't maintain this level of military spending indefinatly (and the resourcing will become a much bigger problem if you start opening new theaters of operation). To win you need hearts and minds - and I can't see how you'll do that with the Pashtun while you're conducting assinations there. A military first aproach looks like Israel.
Last edited by V7; April 1st, 2009 at 12:41.
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April 1st, 2009, 13:26
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Boldface mine, 'cuz here's where I disagree.

Military force is a blunt weapon. It's effective only against big, visible, and stationary targets. The Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan were a good example.

Thing is, there are no such terrorist targets left. Sure, there's the FARC, the LTTE, and the Hezbollah, and even the Hezbollah showed in 2006 exactly how much military force would be required to dislodge it (translation: more than Israel can afford, i.e., a LOT). But the international terrorist cells that the US should be concerned about are dispersed among civilian populations all over the world.

IOW, the role of military force in combating terrorism is to be a deterrent and a blunt instrument to be used in case they manage to set up something like the training camp network they had with the Taliban.
I'll agree on the deterrent and blunt instrument factor, but intelligence estimates say that al-Qaeda has largely reconstituted itself in Pakistan to the level they were at before our invasion of Afghanistan (I've seen Democrats wave this stat around when they criticize our detour into Iraq). I'd argue there's a good deal of military work to be done. Going after the cells are important but if you want to take out the top of the network law enforcement can't cut it (or at least it hasn't in the past).

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
The main counterterrorist weapons are intelligence, politics, law enforcement, and black ops.

Intelligence: to figure out who they are, where they are, and what they're planning. This is critical in foiling attacks, infiltrating networks, and what have you. If done well, it'll stop nine attempts out of ten or more.

Politics: attrition rates for terrorist groups are high. To keep going, they need to keep recruiting. To stop them from recruiting, the structures that keep them going must be dismantled. In some cases these are clear grievances (e.g. Hamas and Gaza). In others they're entrenched structures (e.g. FARC and the cocaine trade, or LTTE and their quasi-state, which appears to have gone underground again, though). In yet others they're ideological, religious, or social, which are much trickier to address (e.g. recruitment of alienated Muslim youth in the West into radical groups). This is a slow process, but it's the only one that can actually get rid of a particular terrorist threat.

Law enforcement: this isn't all that useful in catching terrorists, since, as you said, it's (mostly but not exclusively) geared toward solving crimes that have already happened, rather than preventing crimes from happening. However, terrorist groups and terrorist acts require a criminal infrastructure that can be very effectively degraded by law enforcement. They need money, which is usually from criminal sources. They need weapons and explosives, which they usually can't acquire legally. All this can be effectively fought with law enforcement. Law enforcement can also contribute to (and should be able to use) intelligence gathered by other means.

Black ops: as you've said, there are situations where the laws can't apply, because they weren't written for it. Black ops are there to plug this gap. They're a very dangerous weapon, since if they stop being black — they become something that's explicitly recognized, approved, and brought into the open — they erode the foundations of free society; the rule of law, civil rights, and what have you. But we still need them. In practice, the system of "plausible deniability" serves as a pretty good control on them. If states doing black ops know they're not supposed to get caught doing them, this keeps their scope under control — but they're still able to nab or kill individual targets when deemed absolutely necessary.

But no, the military isn't and can't be the main counterterrorist weapon. Militaries aren't designed for that anyway; they're designed to fight other militaries or, as a secondary role, to impose order on chaotic places. When faced with an enemy that doesn't wear a uniform and blends into the population, very bad things happen all around, and the actual objective is never met.
I'm lumping intelligence and black ops in with the military (which is something a lot of theorists as well as the US government does). It's mainly a distinction between the Clinton years - "these are criminals we need to arrest and put in court" vs. the post-9/11 "these are enemies of the state that need to be captured or killed". It's a prism through which to look at the issue then necessarily saying "are we sending in the FBI or the marines?". Law enforcement is geared around solving crimes, the military approach is to destroy and kill the enemy. In other words - is this a criminal problem like the Mafia or are we in a war?

If you read the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism it agrees with what you're saying, PJ (and with what I'm saying as well). They have the 4D strategy (Defeat, Deny, Diminish, Defend) which encompasses all of those tools.
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April 1st, 2009, 13:35
Originally Posted by V7 View Post
PJs pretty much summed up all the thoughts I haven't had time to put togather coherently today - its not that I think law enforcement is the only element in a sucessful counterterrorism campeign - I just think the military option has been hightly overrated and that much of what you're doing at the moment is at best inneffective (and quite possibly counterproductive) if your goal is to improve American security (example - we probably won't know the full cost of the air strikes and predator missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan for 20 years - thats a big gamble for low returns).
Don't disagree with you; I'm also not saying 'shoot 'em all and let God sort them out'. I'm going to try to find some articles that can explain my point better than I am because I'm doing a piss poor job of it ATM.

Originally Posted by V7 View Post
And this is where I think you're going seriously wrong - if you really believe FARC=Hezbollah=Muslim sucessionsits in the Phillippines=guys who fly planes into buildings and the correct response is military then you need to be staging combat operations across four continents simultaniously. Quite frankly though if this is the thinking in Washington I doubt you're going to get anywhere because the real threat to American civilians probably isn't residing in Columbia, Lebanon, or Pakistan but in London, Paris, Germany, Saudia Arabia, and New York - and good luck sending in the B52s to those places.

Finally, is FARC a terrorist organisation? depends on how you define it really but its operationally and organisationally compleatly distinct from something like classic Al Queda terrorist cells. To the point I think its absurd to suggest a one size fits all military aproach to two very different organisations. If you wanted to cripple FARC for instance your best bet would be to curb drug consumption in the US.
Well, it depends what type of threat we are talking about. If you're talking about operational cells who would carry out attacks….yes, I agree with you. If you're talking about international conditions/leaders/whatever that facilitate and help organize this sort of thing then I would disagree with you. And I'd also say Columbia, Lebanon, and Pakistan pose a huge threat to Americans and national security (well, groups operating there at least). Hezbollah is responsible for a large number of American deaths, and al-Qaeda central is sitting pretty in Pakistan right now. FARC is mainly a threat to an ally but it does kidnap foreign nationals and hold them indefinitely - I wouldn't say it's a primary threat to the U.S. but I don't like the idea of Venezuela overthrowing Columbia.

I think curbing drug use in the US would hurt FARC a great deal but it's about as feasible as the US invading North Korea and overthrowing Kim Jong Il to remove his nuclear threat.

Originally Posted by V7 View Post
Edit for a final final note - this isn't a war you can win by killing people (as heritical as that migh tsound to the military) at best you'll disrupt them a bit, push off a few attacks maybe, but you won't kill terrorists as fast as you produce them and you can't maintain this level of military spending indefinatly (and the resourcing will become a much bigger problem if you start opening new theaters of operation). To win you need hearts and minds - and I can't see how you'll do that with the Pashtun while you're conducting assinations there. A military first aproach looks like Israel.
We can't win it by killing people but it's definitely part of the response. And this level of military spending is only something like 4% of our GDP (the Saudis spend 10% of GDP). We've maintained larger for decades. Winning hearts and minds will also be impossible as long as we have the Palestine issue running around.
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April 1st, 2009, 16:44
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Sorry but this ticks me off.
Nice subliminal propaganda inserts telling me what to think at every line rather than actually listen and evaluate what Emanuel is saying myself. Apparently ordinary language has to be translated into whackjobspeak for some folks. God forbid anybody should put the bong down long enough to serve their country or community in any way.

In my day we had the draft, it looked and sounded nothing like this, it was perfectly legal and it sucked. Trust me, if there was any way you could have been drafted, Bush would already have done it. The only reason the average young man on the street isn't in Afghanistan right now is because my generation kicked up a fuss and made it politically untenable to send people off to war without their consent.

That won't be changing any time soon unless there's a ground invasion of this country.
Why it has to do with Republicrats or Democans? Want to serve the community? Do it the old way where volunteer still means something. When this Politician talk…keep you eyes peeled.

Draft is that far away…Charles Rangel are a dime a dozen in the whackout Federal government.

@sheepherder who believes the Fed can do no wrong. its day of reckoning is coming, HR1207 now has 50 Cosponsors from congress to audit the Fed. Me spending too much time with long winded speech…

"A strong president, means having the strength to resist the temptation of taking all that power isn't yours" - Ron Paul

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