Author Topic: WW3  (Read 336382 times)


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« Reply #50 on: October 13, 2003, 07:51:51 AM »
Many of those are out of context.

Hermann Goering

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« Reply #51 on: October 13, 2003, 09:16:37 AM »
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

--Hermann Goering (Nuremberg, 1946)

Gilbert, G.M. Nuremberg Diary. New York: Farrar, Straus and Company, 1947 (pp. 278-279)


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« Reply #52 on: October 14, 2003, 08:42:48 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003

Last week saw an interesting evolution in the U.S.-Islamist war, an
evolution that revealed itself over the past 48 hours. The initial purpose
of the Iraq campaign was to position the United States to bring pressure on the countries surrounding Iraq -- particularly Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the campaign, terrific pressure was brought on all three countries. The unexpected emergence of a guerrilla campaign in Iraq seemed to constrain the United States in projecting its power. As the reality of the guerrilla campaign set in, the United States focused inside Iraq, creating a situation in which the war in Iraq had no end beyond Iraq.

U.S. pressure was not without consequence. Saudi Arabia, in particular,
moved to comply with U.S. wishes concerning the destruction of al Qaeda
inside the kingdom. Iran proved willing to accommodate the United States, albeit at a price. However, Syria appeared to read the situation in Iraq as a quagmire that limited any threat from the United States. After initially seeming to move toward an accommodation with the United States, Syria shifted its policy by last summer, clearly calculating that the United States would be in no position to threaten Syria while the Iraqi campaign festered.

There is little question but that U.S. momentum in the war declined as the
guerrilla war set in. However, it appears to us that, over the past week or
so, the United States has moved toward regaining momentum and is reasserting pressure, particularly toward Syria, and to a lesser extent, Iran. Indeed, Syria currently finds itself locked in a massive crisis that it did not expect. Reports say that Syria is mobilizing its military, but -- mobilized or not -- it has few military options. It has been trapped by the sudden reversal of U.S. energy.

Essentially, the United States appears to have decided that the guerrilla
war won't be over for a while, so waiting until the war's end to exploit the
occupation of Iraq would mean waiting for a long time. Therefore, the United States has launched a strategic offensive while the guerrilla campaign continued unabated -- accepting the minimal risk the war posed to its rear.

Two pieces were put into place to squeeze the Iraqis. The first was
approving Israel's strike into Syria and using Israel's nuclear arsenal as a
threat to Syria -- and Iran. The second was reaching an agreement with
Turkey over the use of its troops in Iraq. This moved Turkey away from
neutrality and back toward its traditional pro-U.S. and pro-Israel stance.
With the United States on Syria's eastern frontier, Syria was trapped.
Seriously provoked by Israel's air raid, it has the choice of doing nothing,
or using Hezbollah to attack Israel -- triggering a massive response from
Israel. The pressure on Syria to shut down Palestinian and Islamist groups is intense. The internal political consequences of shutting them down also would be intense. Damascus is caught between a rock and a hard place -- right where Washington wants it.

Iran's case is much more complex. The United States and Iran share a common interest in preventing the victory of the Saddam Hussein-Islamist guerrilla force -- but that's not really a threat. The issue is not its victory but its defeat, and for this, the United States needs a highly motivated indigenous force. The Iraqi Shiite community -- so far, fairly quiet and tacitly accepting of U.S. occupation -- has been indispensable to that occupation. Without it, the U.S. position would be enormously more
difficult. Iran wants a sphere of influence in Iraq and the United States
might provide it -- depending on how badly the United States needs Iran. If Syria were to crumble, Iran's position would be far weaker -- and the price for its help lower.

At issue has been the price the United States would pay for Iran not
becoming a nuclear power. Over the weekend, the United States tried to
demonstrate -- with the reference to Israel's nuclear triad -- that Iran is
not going to become a nuclear power under any circumstance. The message to Iran was that it could either negotiate away its capability at a reasonable price, or lose that capability to an Israeli first strike. Israel cannot risk an Iranian nuclear device and will destroy it before it becomes
operational. Iran, of course, knows that. The United States has now told
Iran that it knows it, too. Iran is now trapped between two facts: First,
the device isn't operational -- and Israel won't let it become so. Second,
the United States won't stand in the way of Israel. That leaves Iran, like
Syria, with relatively few strategic options.

The interesting part of all this is that the United States increasingly
relies on partners to support its strategic maneuvers. The three countries
it now turns to are Israel, above all, but also Turkey and India. The United
States has depended on all three since the beginning of the war, but now its relationship with Israel is becoming much more open. This appears to be a strategic decision on the part of the United States. It needs to break out of the bind it finds itself in Iraq; it needs to make something happen to move the war along. The United States understands the price of playing the Israeli card. It also understands that it needs help where it can get it.


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« Reply #53 on: November 04, 2003, 10:27:24 AM »
On Hating the Jews
by Natan Sharansky

November 2003

NO HATRED has as rich and as lethal a history as anti-Semitism?"the longest hatred," as the historian Robert Wistrich has dubbed it. Over the millennia, anti-Semitism has infected a multitude of peoples, religions, and civilizations, in the process inflicting a host of terrors on its Jewish victims. But while there is no disputing the impressive reach of the phenomenon, there is surprisingly little agreement about its cause or causes.

Indeed, finding a single cause would seem too daunting a task?the incidence of anti-Semitism is too frequent, the time span too broad, the locales too numerous, the circumstances too varied. No doubt that is why some scholars have come to regard every outbreak as essentially unique, denying that a straight line can be drawn from the anti-Semitism of the ancient world to that of today. Whether it is the attack on the Jews of Alexandria in 38 c.e. or the ones that took place 200 years earlier in ancient Jerusalem, whether it is the Dreyfus affair in 1890?s France or Kristallnacht in late-1930?s Germany?each incident is seen as the outcome of a distinctive mix of political, social, economic, cultural, and religious forces that preclude the possibility of a deeper or recurring cause.

A less extreme version of this same approach identifies certain patterns of anti-Semitism, but only within individual and discrete "eras." In particular, a distinction is drawn between the religiously based hatred of the Middle Ages and the racially based hatred of the modern era. Responsibility for the anti-Semitic waves that engulfed Europe from the age of Constantine to the dawn of the Enlightenment is laid largely at the foot of the Church and its offshoots, while the convulsions that erupted over the course of the next three centuries are viewed as the byproduct of the rise of virulent nationalism.

Obviously, separating out incidents or eras has its advantages, enabling researchers to focus more intensively on specific circumstances and to examine individual outbreaks from start to finish. But what such analyses may gain in local explanatory power they sacrifice in comprehensiveness. Besides, if every incident or era of anti-Semitism is largely distinct from every other, how to explain the cumulative ferocity of the phenomenon?

As if in response to this question, some scholars have attempted to offer more sweeping, trans-historical explanations. Perhaps the two best known are the "scapegoat" theory, according to which tensions within society are regulated and released by blaming a weaker group, often the Jews, for whatever is troubling the majority, and the "demonization" theory, according to which Jews have been cast into the role of the "other" by the seemingly perennial need to reject those who are ethnically, religiously, or racially different.

Clearly, in this sociological approach, anti-Semitism emerges as a Jewish phenomenon in name only. Rather, it is but one variant in a family of hatreds that include racism and xenophobia. Thus, the specifically anti-Jewish violence in Russia at the turn of the 20th century has as much in common with the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia at the turn of the 21st as it does with the massacres of Jews in the Ukraine in the mid-1600?s. Taken to its logical conclusion, this theory would redefine the Holocaust?at the hands of some scholars, it has redefined the Holocaust?as humanity?s most destructive act of racism rather than as the most murderous campaign ever directed against the Jews.

Reacting to such universalizing tendencies a half-century ago, Hannah Arendt cited a piece of dialogue from "a joke which was told after the first World War":

An anti-Semite claimed that the Jews had caused the war; the reply was: Yes, the Jews and the bicyclists. Why the bicyclists? asks the one. Why the Jews? asks the other.

George Orwell offered a similar observation in 1944: "However true the scapegoat theory may be in general terms, it does not explain why the Jews rather than some other minority group are picked on, nor does it make clear what they are the scapegoat for."

WHATEVER THE shortcomings of these approaches may be, I have to admit that my own track record as a theorist is no better.

Three decades ago, as a young dissident in the Soviet Union, I compiled underground reports on anti-Semitism for foreign journalists and Western diplomats. At the time, I firmly believed that the cause of the "disease" was totalitarianism, and that democracy was the way to cure it. Once the Soviet regime came to be replaced by democratic rule, I figured, anti-Semitism was bound to wither away. In the struggle toward that goal, the free world, which in the aftermath of the Holocaust appeared to have inoculated itself against a recurrence of murderous anti-Jewish hatred, was our natural ally, the one political entity with both the means and the will to combat the great evil.

Today I know better. This year, following publication of a report by an Israeli government forum charged with addressing the issue of anti-Semitism, I invited to my office the ambassadors of the two countries that have outpaced all others in the frequency and intensity of anti-Jewish attacks within their borders. The emissaries were from France and Belgium?two mature democracies in the heart of Western Europe. It was in these ostensible bastions of enlightenment and tolerance that Jewish cemeteries were being desecrated, children assaulted, synagogues scorched.

To be sure, the anti-Semitism now pervasive in Western Europe is very different from the anti-Semitism I encountered a generation ago in the Soviet Union. In the latter, it was nurtured by systematic, government-imposed discrimination against Jews. In the former, it has largely been condemned and opposed by governments (though far less vigilantly than it should be). But this only makes anti-Semitism in the democracies more disturbing, shattering the illusion?which was hardly mine alone?that representative governance is an infallible antidote to active hatred of Jews.

Another shattered illusion is even more pertinent to our search. Shocked by the visceral anti-Semitism he witnessed at the Dreyfus trial in supposedly enlightened France, Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, became convinced that the primary cause of anti-Semitism was the anomalous condition of the Jews: a people without a polity of its own. In his seminal work, The Jewish State (1896), published two years after the trial, Herzl envisioned the creation of such a Jewish polity and predicted that a mass emigration to it of European Jews would spell the end of anti-Semitism. Although his seemingly utopian political treatise would turn out to be one of the 20th century?s most prescient books, on this point history has not been kind to Herzl; no one would seriously argue today that anti-Semitism came to a halt with the founding of the state of Israel. To the contrary, this particular illusion has come full circle: while Herzl and most Zionists after him believed that the emergence of a Jewish state would end anti-Semitism, an increasing number of people today, including some Jews, are convinced that anti-Semitism will end only with the disappearance of the Jewish state.

I first encountered this idea quite a long time ago, in the Soviet Union. In the period before, during, and after the Six-Day war of June 1967?a time when I and many others were experiencing a heady reawakening of our Jewish identity?the Soviet press was filled with scathing attacks on Israel and Zionism, and a wave of official anti-Semitism was unleashed to accompany them. To quite a few Soviet Jews who had been trying their best to melt into Soviet life, Israel suddenly became a jarring reminder of their true status in the "workers? paradise": trapped in a world where they were free neither to live openly as Jews nor to escape the stigma of their Jewishness. To these Jews, Israel came to seem part of the problem, not (as it was for me and others) part of the solution. Expressing what was no doubt a shared sentiment, a distant relative of mine quipped: "If only Israel didn?t exist, everything would be all right."

In the decades since, and especially over the last three years, the notion that Israel is one of the primary causes of anti-Semitism, if not the primary cause, has gained much wider currency. The world, we are told by friend and foe alike, increasingly hates Jews because it increasingly hates Israel. Surely this is what the Belgian ambassador had in mind when he informed me during his visit that anti-Semitism in his country would cease once Belgians no longer had to watch pictures on television of Israeli Jews oppressing Palestinian Arabs.

OBVIOUSLY, THE state of Israel cannot be the cause of a phenomenon that predates it by over 2,000 years. But might it be properly regarded as the cause of contemporary anti-Semitism? What is certain is that, everywhere one looks, the Jewish state does appear to be at the center of the anti-Semitic storm?and nowhere more so, of course, than in the Middle East.

The rise in viciously anti-Semitic content disseminated through state-run Arab media is quite staggering, and has been thoroughly documented. Arab propagandists, journalists, and scholars now regularly employ the methods and the vocabulary used to demonize European Jews for centuries?calling Jews Christ-killers, charging them with poisoning non-Jews, fabricating blood libels, and the like. In a region where the Christian faith has few adherents, a lurid and time-worn Christian anti-Semitism boasts an enormous following.

To take only one example: this past February, the Egyptian government, formally at peace with Israel, saw fit to broadcast on its state-run television a 41-part series based on the infamous Czarist forgery about a global Jewish conspiracy to dominate humanity, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. To ensure the highest ratings, the show was first aired, in prime time, just as millions of families were breaking their traditional Ramadan fast; Arab satellite television then rebroadcast the series to tens of millions more throughout the Middle East.

In Europe, the connection between Israel and anti-Semitism is equally conspicuous. For one thing, the timing and nature of the attacks on European Jews, whether physical or verbal, have all revolved around Israel, and the anti-Semitic wave itself, which began soon after the Palestinians launched their terrorist campaign against the Jewish state in September 2000, reached a peak (so far) when Israel initiated Operation Defensive Shield at the end of March 2002, a month in which 125 Israelis had been killed by terrorists.

Though most of the physical attacks in Europe were perpetrated by Muslims, most of the verbal and cultural assaults came from European elites. Thus, the Italian newspaper La Stampa published a cartoon of an infant Jesus lying at the foot of an Israeli tank, pleading, "Don?t tell me they want to kill me again." The frequent comparisons of Ariel Sha ron to Adolf Hitler, of Israelis to Nazis, and of Palestinians to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust were not the work of hooligans spray-painting graffiti on the wall of a synagogue but of university educators and sophisticated columnists. As the Nobel Prize-winning author JosE9 Saramago declared of Israel?s treatment of the Palestinians: "We can compare it with what happened at Auschwitz."

The centrality of Israel to the revival of a more generalized anti-Semitism is also evident in the international arena. Almost a year after the current round of Palestinian violence began, and after hundreds of Israelis had already been killed in buses, discos, and pizzerias, a so-called "World Conference against Racism" was held under the auspices of the United Nations in Durban, South Africa. It turned into an anti-Semitic circus, with the Jewish state being accused of everything from racism and apartheid to crimes against humanity and genocide. In this theater of the absurd, the Jews themselves were turned into perpetrators of anti-Semitism, as Israel was denounced for its "Zionist practices against Semitism"?the Semitism, that is to say, of the Palestinian Arabs.

Naturally, then, in searching for the "root cause" of anti-Semitism, the Jewish state would appear to be the prime suspect. But Israel, it should be clear, is not guilty. The Jewish state is no more the cause of anti-Semitism today than the absence of a Jewish state was its cause a century ago.

To see why, we must first appreciate that the always specious line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has now become completely blurred: Israel has effectively become the world?s Jew. From Middle Eastern mosques, the bloodcurdling cry is not "Death to the Israelis," but "Death to the Jews." In more civilized circles, a columnist for the London Observer proudly announces that he does not read published letters in support of Israel that are signed by Jews. (That the complaints commission for the British press found nothing amiss in this statement only goes to show how far things have changed since Orwell wrote of Britain in 1945 that "it is not at present possible, indeed, that anti-Semitism should become respectable.") When discussion at fashionable European dinner parties turns to the Middle East, the air, we have been reliably informed, turns blue with old-fashioned anti-Semitism.

No less revealing is what might be called the mechanics of the discussion. For centuries, a clear sign of the anti-Semitic impulse at work has been the use of the double standard: social behavior that in others passes without comment or with the mildest questioning becomes, when exhibited by Jews, a pretext for wholesale group denunciation. Such double standards are applied just as recklessly today to the Jewish state. It is democratic Israel, not any of the dozens of tyrannies represented in the United Nations General Assembly, that that body singles out for condemnation in over two dozen resolutions each year; it is against Israel?not Cuba, North Korea, China, or Iran?that the UN human-rights commission, chaired recently by a lily-pure Libya, directs nearly a third of its official ire; it is Israel whose alleged misbehavior provoked the only joint session ever held by the signatories to the Geneva Convention; it is Israel, alone among nations, that has lately been targeted by Western campaigns of divestment; it is Israel?s Magen David Adom, alone among ambulance services in the world, that is denied membership in the International Red Cross; it is Israeli scholars, alone among academics in the world, who are denied grants and prevented from publishing articles in prestigious journals. The list goes on and on.

The idea that Israel has become the world?s Jew and that anti-Zionism is a substitute for anti-Semitism is certainly not new. Years ago, Norman Podhoretz observed that the Jewish state "has become the touchstone of attitudes toward the Jewish people, and anti-Zionism has become the most relevant form of anti-Semitism." And well before that, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was even more unequivocal:

You declare, my friend, that you do not hate the Jews, you are merely "anti-Zionist." And I say, let the truth ring forth from the high mountain tops, let it echo through the valleys of God?s green earth; when people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews?this is God?s own truth.

But if Israel is indeed nothing more than the world?s Jew, then to say that the world increasingly hates Jews because the world increasingly hates Israel means as much, or as little, as saying that the world hates Jews because the world hates Jews. We still need to know: why?

THIS MAY be a good juncture to let the anti-Semites speak for themselves.

Here is the reasoning invoked by Haman, the infamous viceroy of Persia in the biblical book of Esther, to convince his king to order the annihilation of the Jews:

There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws are different from those of other peoples, and the king?s laws they do not keep, so that it is of no benefit for the king to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed. [emphasis added]

This is hardly the only ancient source pointing to the Jews? incorrigible separateness, or their rejection of the majority?s customs and moral concepts, as the reason for hostility toward them. Centuries after Hellenistic values had spread throughout and beyond the Mediterranean, the Roman historian Tacitus had this to say:

Among the Jews, all things are profane that we hold sacred; on the other hand, they regard as permissible what seems to us immoral. . . . The rest of the world they confront with the hatred reserved for enemies. They will not feed or intermarry with gentiles. . . . They have introduced circumcision to show that they are different from others. . . . It is a crime among them to kill any newly born infant.

Philostratus, a Greek writer who lived a century later, offered a similar analysis:

For the Jews have long been in revolt not only against the Romans, but against humanity; and a race that has made its own life apart and irreconcilable, that cannot share with the rest of mankind in the pleasures of the table, nor join in their libations or prayers or sacrifices, are separated from ourselves by a greater gulf than divides us from Sura or Bactra of the more distant Indies.

Did the Jews actually reject the values that were dominant in the ancient world, or was this simply a fantasy of their enemies? While many of the allegations leveled at Jews were spurious?they did not ritually slaughter non-Jews, as the Greek writer Apion claimed?some were obviously based on true facts. The Jews did oppose intermarriage. They did refuse to sacrifice to foreign gods. And they did emphatically consider killing a newborn infant to be a crime.

Some, perhaps many, individual Jews in those days opted to join the (alluring) Hellenist stream; most did not. Even more important, the Jews were the only people seriously to challenge the moral system of the Greeks. They were not an "other" in the ancient world; they were the "other"?an other, moreover, steadfast in the conviction that Judaism represented not only a different way of life but, in a word, the truth. Jewish tradition claims that Abraham was chosen as the patriarch of what was to become the Jewish nation only after he had smashed the idols in his father?s home. His descendants would continue to defy the pagan world around them, championing the idea of the one God and, unlike other peoples of antiquity, refusing to subordinate their beliefs to those of their conquerors.

THE (BY and large correct) perception of the Jews as rejecting the prevailing value system of the ancient world hardly justifies the anti-Semitism directed against them; but it does take anti-Semitism out of the realm of fantasy, turning it into a genuine clash of ideals and of values. With the arrival of Christianity on the world stage, that same clash, based once again on the charge of Jewish rejectionism, would intensify a thousandfold. The refusal of the people of the "old covenant" to accept the new came to be defined as a threat to the very legitimacy of Christianity, and one that required a mobilized response.

Branding the Jews "Christ killers" and "sons of devils," the Church launched a systematic campaign to denigrate Christianity?s parent religion and its adherents. Accusations of desecrating the host, ritual murder, and poisoning wells would be added over the centuries, creating an ever larger powder keg of hatred. With the growing power of the Church and the global spread of Christianity, these potentially explosive sentiments were carried to the far corners of the world, bringing anti-Semitism to places where no Jewish foot had ever trod.

According to some Christian thinkers, persecution of the powerless Jews was justified as a kind of divine payback for the Jewish rejection of Jesus. This heavenly stamp of approval would be invoked many times through the centuries, especially by those who had tried and failed to convince the Jews to acknowledge the superior truth of Christianity. The most famous case may be that of Martin Luther: at first extremely friendly toward Jews?as a young man he had complained about their mistreatment by the Church?Luther turned into one of their bitterest enemies as soon as he realized that his efforts to woo them to his new form of Christianity would never bear fruit.

Nor was this pattern unique to the Christian religion. Muhammad, too, had hoped to attract the Jewish communities of Arabia, and to this end he initially incorporated elements of Judaism into his new faith (directing prayer toward Jerusalem, fasting on Yom Kippur, and the like). When, however, the Jews refused to accept his code of law, Muhammad wheeled upon them with a vengeance, cursing them in words strikingly reminiscent of the early Church fathers: "Humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them, and they were visited with the wrath of Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah?s revelation and slew the prophets wrongfully."

IN THESE cases, too, we might ask whether the perception of Jewish rejectionism was accurate. Of course the Jews did not drain the blood of children, poison wells, attempt to mutilate the body of Christ, or commit any of the other wild crimes of which the Church accused them. Moreover, since many teachings of Christianity and Islam stemmed directly from Jewish ones, Jews could hardly be said to have denied them. But if rejecting the Christian or Islamic world meant rejecting the Christian or Islamic creed, then Jews who clung to their own separate faith and way of life were, certainly, rejectionist.

This brings us to an apparent point of difference between pre-modern and modern anti-Semitism. For many Jews over the course of two millennia, there was, in theory at least, a way out of institutionalized discrimination and persecution: the Greco-Roman, Christian, and Muslim worlds were only too happy to embrace converts to their way of life. In the modern era, this choice often proved illusory. Both assimilated and non-assimilated Jews, both religious and secular Jews, were equally victimized by pogroms, persecutions, and genocide. In fact, the terrors directed at the assimilated Jews of Western Europe have led some to conclude that far from ending anti-Semitism, assimilation actually contributed to arousing it.

What accounts for this? In the pre-modern world, Jews and Gentiles were largely in agreement as to what defined Jewish rejectionism, and therefore what would constitute a reprieve from it: it was mostly a matter of beliefs and moral concepts, and of the social behavior that flowed from them. In the modern world, although the question of whether a Jew ate the food or worshiped the God of his neighbors remained relevant, it was less relevant than before. Instead, the modern Jew was seen as being born into a Jewish nation or race whose collective values were deeply embedded in the very fabric of his being. Assimilation, with or without conversion to the majority faith, might succeed in masking this bedrock taint; it could not expunge it.

While such views were not entirely absent in earlier periods, the burden of proof faced by the modern Jew to convince others that he could transcend his "Jewishness" was much greater than the one faced by his forebears. Despite the increasing secularism and openness of European society, which should have smoothed the prospects of assimilation, many modern Jews would find it more difficult to become real Frenchmen or true Germans than their ancestors would have found it to become Greeks or Romans, Christians or Muslims.

The novelty of modern anti-Semitism is thus not that the Jews were seen as the enemies of mankind. Indeed, Hitler?s observation in Mein Kampf that "wherever I went, I began to see Jews, and the more I saw, the more sharply they became distinguished in my eyes from the rest of humanity" sounds no different from the one penned by Philostratus 1,700 years earlier. No, the novelty of modern anti-Semitism is only that it was far more difficult?and sometimes impossible?for the Jew to stop being an enemy of mankind.

ON CLOSER inspection, then, modern anti-Semitism begins to look quite continuous with pre-modern anti-Semitism, only worse. Modern Jews may not have believed they were rejecting the prevailing order around them, but that did not necessarily mean their enemies agreed with them. When it came to the Jews, indeed, European nationalism of the blood-and-soil variety only added another and even more murderous layer of hatred to the foundation built by age-old religious prejudice. Just as in the ancient world, the Jews in the modern world remained the other?inveterate rejectionists, no matter how separate, no matter how assimilated.

Was there any kernel of factual truth to this charge? It is demeaning to have to point out that, wherever and whenever they were given the chance, most modern Jews strove to become model citizens and showed, if anything, an exemplary talent for acculturation; the idea that by virtue of their birth, race, or religion they were implacable enemies of the state or nation was preposterous. So, too, with other modern libels directed against the Jews, which displayed about as much or as little truth content as ancient ones. The Jews did not and do not control the banks. They did not and do not control the media of communication. They did not and do not control governments. And they are not plotting to take over anything.

What some of them have indeed done, in various places and under specific circumstances, is to demonstrate?with an ardor and tenacity redolent perhaps of their long national experience?an attachment to great causes of one stripe or another, including, at times, the cause of their own people. This has had the effect (not everywhere, of course, but notably in highly stratified and/or intolerant societies) of putting them in a visibly adversary position to prevailing values or ideologies, and thereby awakening the never dormant dragon of anti-Semitism. Particularly instructive in this regard is the case of Soviet Jewry.

What makes the Soviet case instructive is, in no small measure, the fact that the professed purpose of Communism was to abolish all nations, peoples, and religions?those great engines of exclusion?on the road to the creation of a new world and a new man. As is well known, quite a few Jews, hoping to emancipate humanity and to "normalize" their own condition in the process, hitched their fates to this ideology and to the movements associated with it. After the Bolshevik revolution, these Jews proved to be among the most devoted servants of the Soviet regime.

Once again, however, the perception of ineradicable Jewish otherness proved as lethal as any reality. In the eyes of Stalin and his henchmen, the Jews, starting with the loyal Communists among them, were always suspect?"ideological immigrants," in the telling phrase. But the animosity went beyond Jewish Communists. The Soviet regime declared war on the over 100 nationalities and religions under its boot; whole peoples were deported, entire classes destroyed, millions starved to death, and tens of millions killed. Everybody suffered, not only Jews. But, decades later, long after Stalin?s repression had given way to Khrushchev?s "thaw," only one national language, Hebrew, was still banned in the Soviet Union; only one group, the Jews, was not permitted to establish schools for its children; only in the case of one group, the Jews, did the term "fifth line," referring to the space reserved for nationality on a Soviet citizen?s identification papers, become a code for licensed discrimination.

Clearly, then, Jews were suspect in the Soviet Union as were no other group. Try as they might to conform, it turned out that joining the mainstream of humanity through the medium of the great socialist cause in the East was no easier than joining the nation-state in the West. But that is not the whole story, either. To scant the rest of it is not only to do an injustice to Soviet Jews as historical actors in their own right but to miss something essential about anti-Semitism, which, even as it operates in accordance with its own twisted definitions and its own mad logic, proceeds almost always by reference to some genuine quality in its chosen victims.

As it happens, although Jews were disproportionately represented in the ranks of the early Bolsheviks, the majority of Russian Jews were far from being Bolsheviks, or even Bolshevik sympathizers. More importantly, Jews would also, in time, come to play a disproportionate role in Communism?s demise. In the middle of the 1960?s, by which time their overall share of the country?s population had dwindled dramatically, Soviet Jews made up a significant element in the "democratic opposition." A visitor to the Gulag in those years would have discovered that Jews were also prominent among political dissidents and those convicted of so-called "economic crimes." Even more revealing, in the 1970?s the Jews were the first to challenge the Soviet regime as a national group, and to do so publicly, en masse, with tens of thousands openly demanding to leave the totalitarian state.

To that degree, then, the claim of Soviet anti-Semites that "Jewish thoughts" and "Jewish values" were in opposition to prevailing norms was not entirely unfounded. And, to that degree, Soviet anti-Semitism partook of the essential characteristic of all anti-Semitism. This hardly makes its expression any the less monstrous; it merely, once again, takes it out of the realm of fantasy.

AND SO we arrive back at today, and at the hatred that takes as its focus the state of Israel. That state?the world?s Jew?has the distinction of challenging two separate political/moral orders simultaneously: the order of the Arab and Muslim Middle East, and the order that prevails in Western Europe. The Middle Eastern case is the easier to grasp; the Western European one may be the more ominous.

The values ascendant in today?s Middle East are shaped by two forces: Islamic fundamentalism and state authoritarianism. In the eyes of the former, any non-Muslim sovereign power in the region?for that matter, any secular Muslim power?is anathema. Particularly galling is Jewish sovereignty in an area delineated as dar al-Islam, the realm where Islam is destined to enjoy exclusive dominance. Such a violation cannot be compromised with; nothing will suffice but its extirpation.

In the eyes of the secular Arab regimes, the Jews of Israel are similarly an affront, but not so much on theological grounds as on account of the society they have built: free, productive, democratic, a living rebuke to the corrupt, autocratic regimes surrounding it. In short, the Jewish state is the ultimate freedom fighter?an embodiment of the subversive liberties that threaten Islamic civilization and autocratic Arab rule alike. It is for this reason that, in the state-controlled Arab media as in the mosques, Jews have been turned into a symbol of all that is menacing in the democratic, materialist West as a whole, and are confidently reputed to be the insidious force manipulating the United States into a confrontation with Islam.

The particular dynamic of anti-Semitism in the Middle East orbit today may help explain why?unlike, as we shall see, in Europe?there was no drop in the level of anti-Jewish incitement in the region after the inception of the Oslo peace process. Quite the contrary. And the reason is plain: to the degree that Oslo were to have succeeded in bringing about a real reconciliation with Israel or in facilitating the spread of political freedom, to that degree it would have frustrated the overarching aim of eradicating the Jewish "evil" from the heart of the Middle East and/or preserving the autocratic power of the Arab regimes.

And so, while in the 1990?s the democratic world, including the democratic society of Israel, was (deludedly, as it turned out) celebrating the promise of a new dawn in the Middle East, the schools in Gaza, the textbooks in Ramallah, the newspapers in Egypt, and the television channels in Saudi Arabia were projecting a truer picture of the state of feeling in the Arab world. It should come as no surprise that, in Egypt, pirated copies of Shimon Peres?s A New Middle East, a book heralding a messianic era of free markets and free ideas, were printed with an introduction in Arabic claiming that what this bible of Middle East peacemaking proved was the veracity of everything written in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion about a Jewish plot to rule the world.

As for Western Europe, there the reputation of Israel and of the Jews has undergone a number of ups and downs over the decades. Before 1967, the shadow of the Holocaust and the perception of Israel as a small state struggling for its existence in the face of Arab aggression combined to ensure, if not the favor of the European political classes, at least a certain dispensation from harsh criticism. But all this changed in June 1967, when the truncated Jewish state achieved a seemingly miraculous victory against its massed Arab enemies in the Six-Day war, and the erstwhile victim was overnight transformed into an aggressor. A possibly apocryphal story about Jean-Paul Sartre encapsulates the shift in the European mood. Before the war, as Israel lay diplomatically isolated and Arab leaders were already trumpeting its certain demise, the famous French philosopher signed a statement in support of the Jewish state. After the war, he reproached the man who had solicited his signature: "But you assured me they would lose."

Decades before "occupation" became a household word, the mood in European chancelleries and on the Left turned decidedly hostile. There were, to be sure, venal interests at stake, from the perceived need to curry favor with the oil-producing nations of the Arab world to, in later years, the perceived need to pander to the growing Muslim populations in Western Europe itself. But other currents were also at work, as anti-Western, anti-"imperialist," pacifist, and pro-liberationist sentiments, fanned and often subsidized by the USSR, took over the advanced political culture both of Europe and of international diplomacy. Behind the new hostility to Israel lay the new ideological orthodoxy, according to whose categories the Jewish state had emerged on the world scene as a certified "colonial" and "imperialist" power, a "hegemon," and an "oppressor."

Before 1967, anti-Zionist resolutions sponsored by the Arabs and their Soviet patrons in the United Nations garnered little or no support among the democracies. After 1967, more and more Western countries joined the chorus of castigation. By 1974, Yasir Arafat, whose organization openly embraced both terrorism and the destruction of a UN member state, was invited to address the General Assembly. The next year, that same body passed the infamous "Zionism-is-racism" resolution. In 1981, Israel?s strike against Iraq?s nuclear reactor was condemned by the entire world, including the United States.

Then, in the 1990?s, things began to change again. Despite the constant flow of biased UN resolutions, despite the continuing double standard, there were a number of positive developments as well: the Zionism-is-racism resolution was repealed, and over 65 member states either established or renewed diplomatic relations with Israel.

What had happened? Had Arab oil dried up? Had Muslims suddenly become a less potent political force on the European continent? Hardly. What changed was that, at Madrid and then at Oslo, Israel had agreed, first reluctantly and later with self-induced optimism, to conform to the ascendant ethos of international politics. Extending its hand to a terrorist organization still committed to its destruction, Israel agreed to the establishment of a dictatorial and repressive regime on its very doorstep, sustaining its commitment to the so-called peace process no matter how many innocent Jews were killed and wounded in its fraudulent name.

The rewards for thus conforming to the template of the world?s moralizers, cosmetic and temporary though they proved to be, flowed predictably not just to Israel but to the Jewish people as a whole. Sure enough, worldwide indices of anti-Semitismin the 1990?s dropped to their lowest point since the Holocaust. As the world?s Jews benefited from the increasing tolerance extended to the world?s Jew, Western organizations devoted to fighting the anti-Semitic scourge began cautiously to declare victory and to refocus their efforts on other parts of the Jewish communal agenda.

But of course it would not last. In the summer of 2000, at Camp David, Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians nearly everything their leadership was thought to be demanding. The offer was summarily rejected, Arafat started his "uprising," Israel undertook to defend itself?and Europe ceased to applaud. For many Jews at the time, this seemed utterly incomprehensible: had not Israel taken every last step for peace? But it was all too comprehensible. Europe was staying true to form; it was the world?s Jew, by refusing to accept its share of blame for the "cycle of violence," that was out of line. And so were the world?s Jews, who by definition, and whether they supported Israel or not, came rapidly to be associated with the Jewish state in its effrontery.

TO AMERICANS, the process I have been describing may sound eerily familiar. It should: Americans, too, have had numerous opportunities to see their nation in the dock of world opinion over recent years for the crime of rejecting the values of the so-called international community, and never more so than during the widespread hysteria that greeted President Bush?s announced plan to dismantle the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein. In dozens of countries, protesters streamed into the streets to voice their fury at this refusal of the United States to conform to what "everybody" knew to be required of it. To judge from the placards on display at these rallies, President Bush, the leader of the free world, was a worse enemy of mankind than the butcher of Baghdad.

At first glance, this too must have seemed incomprehensible. Saddam Hussein was one of the world?s most brutal dictators, a man who had gassed his own citizens, invaded his neighbors, defied Security Council resolutions, and was widely believed to possess weapons of mass destruction. But no matter: the protests were less about Iraqi virtue than about American vice, and the grievances aired by the assorted anti-capitalists, anti-globalists, radical environmentalists, self-styled anti-imperialists, and many others who assembled to decry the war had little to do with the possible drawbacks of a military operation in Iraq. They had to do, rather, with a genuine clash of values.

Insofar as the clash is between the United States and Europe?there is a large "European" body of opinion within the United States as well?it has been well diagnosed by Robert Kagan in his best-selling book, Of Paradise and Power. For our purposes, it is sufficient to remark on how quickly the initial "why-do-they-hate-us" debate in the wake of September 11, focusing on anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world, came to be overtaken by a "why-do-they-hate-us" debate centered on anti-American sentiment in "Old Europe." Generally, the two hatreds have been seen to emanate from divergent impulses, in the one case a perception of the threat posed by Western freedoms to Islamic civilization, in the other a perception of the threat posed by a self-confident and powerful America to the postmodern European idea of a world regulated not by force but by reason, compromise, and nonjudgmentalism. In today?s Europe?professedly pacifist, postnationalist, anti-hegemonic?an expression like "axis of evil" wins few friends, and the idea of actually confronting the axis of evil still fewer.

Despite the differences between them, however, anti-Americanism in the Islamic world and anti-Americanism in Europe are in fact linked, and both bear an uncanny resemblance to anti-Semitism. It is, after all, with some reason that the United States is loathed and feared by the despots and fundamentalists of the Islamic world as well as by many Europeans. Like Israel, but in a much more powerful way, America embodies a different?a non-conforming?idea of the good, and refuses to aban don its moral clarity about the objective worth of that idea or of the free habits and institutions to which it has given birth. To the contrary, in undertaking their war against the evil of terrorism, the American people have demonstrated their determination not only to fight to preserve the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity, but to carry them to regions of the world that have proved most resistant to their benign influence.

IN THIS, positive sense as well, Israel and the Jewish people share something essential with the United States. The Jews, after all, have long held that they were chosen to play a special role in history, to be what their prophets called "a light unto the nations." What precisely is meant by that phrase has always been a matter of debate, and I would be the last to deny the mischief that has sometimes been done, including to the best interests of the Jews, by some who have raised it as their banner. Nevertheless, over four millennia, the universal vision and moral precepts of the Jews have not only worked to secure the survival of the Jewish people themselves but have constituted a powerful force for good in the world, inspiring myriads to fight for the right even as in others they have aroused rivalry, enmity, and unappeasable resentment.

It is similar with the United States?a nation that has long regarded itself as entrusted with a mission to be what John Winthrop in the 17th century called a "city on a hill" and Ronald Reagan in the 20th parsed as a "shining city on a hill." What precisely is meant by that phrase is likewise a matter of debate, but Americans who see their country in such terms certainly regard the advance of American values as central to American purpose. And, though the United States is still a very young nation, there can be no disputing that those values have likewise constituted an immense force for good in the world?even as they have earned America the enmity and resentment of many.

In resolving to face down enmity and hatred, an important source of strength is the lesson to be gained from contemplating the example of others. From Socrates to Churchill to Sakharov, there have been individuals whose voices and whose personal heroism have reinforced in others the resolve to stand firm for the good. But history has also been generous enough to offer, in the Jews, the example of an ancient people fired by the message of human freedom under God and, in the Americans, the example of a modern people who over the past century alone, acting in fidelity with their inmost beliefs, have confronted and defeated the greatest tyrannies ever known to man.

Fortunately for America, and fortunately for the world, the United States has been blessed by providence with the power to match its ideals. The Jewish state, by contrast, is a tiny island in an exceedingly dangerous sea, and its citizens will need every particle of strength they can muster for the trials ahead. It is their own people?s astounding perseverance, despite centuries of suffering at the hands of faiths, ideologies, peoples, and individuals who have hated them and set out to do them in, that inspires one with confidence that the Jews will once again outlast their enemies.


NATAN SHARANSKY, the former Soviet dissident and political prisoner, now serves in the government of Israel as minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs. This article draws in part on ideas presented at a conference on anti-Semitism in Paris in May and at the World Forum of the American Enterprise Institute in June. Mr. Sharansky thanks Ron Dermer for help in developing the arguments and in preparing the manuscript.


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« Reply #54 on: November 10, 2003, 11:25:03 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Monday, Nov. 10, 2003

Al Qaeda operatives continued to expand the offensive that began in Iraq at the start of Ramadan. This time, the target was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At the hour of this writing on Nov. 9, 11 people have been reported killed and 122 wounded in an attack on the Muhaya compound -- primarily housing non-Saudi Arabs. Reportedly, the attackers infiltrated the compound driving a police vehicle and dressed in Saudi security uniforms.

It's particularly interesting that a compound housing Americans or Europeans wasn't targeted. There are two possible explanations for this. First, security for such obvious targets has become so tight that mounting a successful operation has become too risky. Second, al Qaeda now regards itself in an all-out war with the Saudi government and is signaling other Arab nationals that continued collaboration with the Saudis is dangerous and should be terminated.

Both explanations are probably true, but on balance, we regard the second explanation as the most likely and significant. The Saudi government has begun aggressively attacking al Qaeda in the kingdom, thereby increasing collaboration with the United States. It has done so partly because it recognizes -- understanding the region well -- that current processes in Iraq likely will bring a Shiite government to power there. If Saudi Arabia opposes the United States, the royal family will face some very stiff historical winds. Resisting the rising Shiite tide and confronting the United States would not be easily survived. Accommodating the United States holds open the probability that the United States will limit Iranian expansionism. That isn't certain, but the Saudis know that if they don't make a serious down payment right now, they might not have an opportunity later. Hence, they have become substantially more aggressive toward al Qaeda.

This has set in motion two processes. First, there is a split within the
kingdom regarding the policy -- one that certainly cuts deep into the royal
family. Second, al Qaeda believes the Saudi royals have been hypocritical in their leadership -- saying the right things, but acting very differently. Now they can argue that the royals' true nature has been flushed out.

This means al Qaeda has a hard core of support in the kingdom, now that the opportunistic support of some of the royals has been forced to the other side. Al Qaeda needs to demonstrate that it can hit Saudi Arabia hard and as it chooses. It also must demonstrate to the rest of the Arab world that continued collaboration with the United States and Saudi Arabia itself will carry a heavy price.

The U.S. solution in Iraq and the complex relationship with the Shiites and
the Iranian government pose serious problems for al Qaeda in Iraq; but they also open opportunities for al Qaeda in the rest of the non-Shiite world. Al Qaeda can now argue that the issue is not solely the United States, nor the Christian-Hindu-Jewish alliance. Rather, the most fundamental threat is the internal enemy -- the Shias. Al Qaeda can exploit this very effectively, particularly in the Sunni Arab world -- where they delivered an important message Nov. 9.

It is interesting to note that this was the same day the Israeli Cabinet
authorized a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah. Too much should not be made of this. There are many obstacles to consummation and this, by itself, doesn't mean much. Nevertheless, Hezbollah is a creature of the Iranians and one of the outstanding questions has been the relationship between Iran and Israel under the new U.S.-Iran system of quiet collaboration. The pivot of that question is, of course, Hezbollah. Therefore, the evolution of the prisoner exchange program between Israel and Hezbollah is of great interest as part of the next steps.


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« Reply #55 on: November 12, 2003, 06:15:33 PM »
Please feel free to send the Stratfor Weekly to a friend
or colleague.

12 November 2003

by Dr. George Friedman

The Iraq Dilemma: Frying Pan or Fire?


U.S. President George. W. Bush has hastily convened his war
council to decide strategies for the next phase of operations in Iraq. What first must be assessed are the nature, intent and capabilities of the Iraqi guerrilla forces. Imperfect
intelligence about this might force the Bush administration to
implement strategies based on worst-case-scenario assumptions.


A war council convened in Washington on Nov. 11, appropriately the same day as the U.S. Veteran's Day holiday. The war council clearly was not planned -- the U.S. administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer was hurriedly recalled to Washington. The White House meeting included all the major decision makers concerning U.S. strategic policy, including Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice. All the players were at the table; President Bush was dealing the cards.

Clearly, the strategic situation in Iraq was the driving issue.
Major guerrilla activity remains concentrated in the Sunni
triangle, north and west of Baghdad. In that sense, the
guerrilla's position has not improved. However, coinciding with the advent of Ramadan, the Iraqi guerrillas intensified their tempo of operations substantially, but not decisively. That is to say, the guerrilla activity increased, but its strategic
significance did not. The guerrillas are far from capable of
compelling a U.S. retreat from Iraq by force of arms. Indeed,
they are incapable of seizing and holding any territory, as their allies in Afghanistan are capable.

The military situation is relatively stable and, from a strictly
military standpoint, tolerable. However, the political situation
of the United States is not. There, the inability of the Bush
administration to either forecast the guerrilla war or
demonstrate a war-termination strategy has weakened the
administration, although far from decisively.

The most severe political damage the guerrillas have done has been in the Islamic world. In Iraq, the United States wanted to demonstrate its enormous and decisive military power to impose a sense of hopelessness on radical Islamists who were arguing that American power and will were vastly overrated. Whatever the reality of the guerrilla campaign, the perception that has been created in the Islamic world is precisely the opposite of the one the United States desired. Rather than imposing "shock and awe,"
the inability to suppress the guerrillas has confirmed to
Islamists their core perception -- that the United States can
defeat conventional forces but cannot deal with paramilitary and guerrilla forces. Therefore, the United States can be defeated over time if Islamists are prepared to be patient and absorb casualties.

This is not the message that the administration wants to send either to the Islamists or to Iowa. The administration's
assumption going into the war was that the collapse of Iraq's
conventional forces coupled with the fall of Baghdad would
terminate organized resistance. There was a core failure in U.S. intelligence that seemed not to realize that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had a follow-on strategy that he apparently learned from the Taliban.

Contrary to U.S. perception (more the media's than the
military's), the United States did not defeat the Taliban in the
winter of 2001-2002. The Taliban declined conventional combat in front of Afghanistan's cities and instead withdrew, dispersed and shifted to guerrilla operations. Hussein, realizing that he did not have the ability to defeat or even engage the United States with conventional forces, prepared a follow-on strategy. He prepared the ground in the Sunni triangle for extended guerrilla war. He hid supplies, created a command structure and detailed forces for extended resistance. Joined by foreign Islamists early in the campaign and reinforced later, this organization has managed to maintain operations against U.S. occupation forces,
increasing the tempo of operations in late October.

Intelligence failures are inevitable in war, but this failure has
created a serious dilemma for Bush's war council. The Ramadan offensive and its political consequences force the administration to craft a response. Standing pat is no longer an option. But there is a range of responses that might be made and choosing among them requires a clear intelligence estimate. At this point, no single, clear intelligence estimate is available. What is more, given the intelligence failure concerning the guerrillas, it isn't clear if the president can choose his course based on the intelligence given him.

The intelligence failure had its roots in a fundamental weakness in U.S. Iraqi intelligence that goes back to 1990s failures. Those weaknesses could not have been corrected in the past six months or so. Therefore, the president cannot regard the best estimate available as authoritative. Indeed, past record aside, the U.S. intelligence community has not clearly understood the guerrillas' command structure, their size and composition or the resources they have available. This is not to say that tactical intelligence improvements have not been made. It seems to us that piecemeal insights have been achieved concerning the operations of individual guerrilla units. But the fact is, on the broadest level, that U.S. intelligence seemingly lacks a clear, strategic sense of the enemy.

As best as we can tell, the guerrillas appear to consist of a
main body of Iraqi military trained for this mission and uniquely loyal. Its size is uncertain, but it doesn't seem to be
recruiting volunteers into the main group, although it is using
volunteers and paying others to carry out specific tasks. If the main force were recruiting, then matters would be simplified for the U.S. -- recruitment would provide opportunities for planting agents inside the guerrilla force.

The guerrillas understand this, which increases their opacity.
What augmentation they receive is coming from Islamists from outside Iraq. These Islamists cannot simply operate independently because they do not know the terrain sufficiently, but many are experienced fighters from other Islamist wars. Therefore, they seem to serve as a sort of special force, training and carrying out special operations like suicide attacks. If we assume 30 organized attacks a day, that each group can carry out one attack every three days, and that each unit contains about 20 men (based on the size of U.S. unit captures), then there would appear to be a main force of roughly 1,800 people and a few hundred foreign

President Bush is now facing the classic problem of political
leaders in war. He must make military and political decisions
about Iraq based on his estimate of the situation, yet he cannot completely rely on the best estimate of his intelligence people. In general, there are three possible views of the Iraq situation.

1. The guerrillas have increased their operations on a permanent basis and this is a steady upward curve.

2. The guerrillas have temporarily surged their operations during Ramadan and it will return to lower levels in December.

3. The guerrillas are facing disaster and have launched a
desperation attack during Ramadan in a last ditch attempt to
unbalance the United States into a foolish action.

It's difficult to believe that the guerillas can continue to
increase the operational tempo indefinitely. This would require a substantial reserve force available in the villages -- already trained and recruited -- that could dramatically increase the size of the present force. This isn't really possible unless the guerrillas are willing to accept potential intelligence penetration by the United States. A large reserve cannot be discounted, but given the presence of U.S. forces throughout the region, some intelligence would have indicated this before now, unless the community were entirely sealed shut. We assume that primarily foreign recruits would augment the guerrilla force -- not an insignificant pool but not a quantum leap either, given
infiltration constraints.

We also tend to disbelieve that the guerrillas are facing
disaster and are engaged in an Islamic Hail Mary. There haven't been enough contacts between U.S. forces and guerrillas to significantly thin their ranks, nor have there been the mass defections that one would see if a force were in the process of disintegrating. Therefore, in our view, scenario three is unlikely.

That leaves scenario two -- a temporary surge. Unless our numbers are widely off base --and that is certainly a possibility -- it is difficult for us to imagine the guerrillas maintaining this operational tempo indefinitely. The campaign began with Ramadan. It has been more intense than what went before, but the intensity indicates a force working overtime, not a surprisingly larger force. Given the politics and symbolism, the surge in operations is certainly understandable. It would also indicate the probability of an explosive culmination at the end of Ramadan. But if we were to bet, we would bet that this is a temporary surge.

But we aren't the president -- it's easy for us to make bets. He is playing the game for real, while we have the luxury of no responsibility for the decision. If he cannot rely on U.S.
intelligence, he cannot rely on us. Under those circumstances, he is obligated to assume the worst-case scenario -- scenario one. That is, the Iraqi guerrillas have permanently increased their operational tempo and may well increase it more down the road.

If we are right, then his best course is to wait until early
December, and then, while the guerrillas regroup and rest, hit
them hard with an offensive. Then, turn to the Iraqi Governance Council and dictate the terms of a transfer of power to them. If we are wrong, and the guerrillas are gaining in strength, then waiting would be disastrous. The U.S. will never be given a clear shot at a counteroffensive; the guerrilla attacks would intensify and the U.S. political situation inside of Iraq would deteriorate. Under that scenario, the longer the U.S. waits, the harder it will be to get the IGC to cut a political deal.

Under any circumstance, the United States needs an indigenous force to bear the brunt of the fighting. The IGC has little real legitimacy in Iraq as an institution and less appetite for serving the U.S. cause -- particularly if military events appear to be moving against the United States. Therefore, the IGC seems unlikely to be prepared to solve the U.S. problem, even if it could, which is dubious in the extreme.

Hence, the war council. Bush must make a decision about what to believe is going on. Having been poorly served by intelligence, particularly the optimistic briefs he was given in April and May, it will be enormously difficult for him to go with scenario two and wait things out. However, he is also unlikely to gain the cooperation he is hoping for from the IGC, unless scenario two is the case. Therefore, the war council must consider the abysmal possibility that scenario one is in play and that the IGC will not be helpful.

If true, then there are components of the IGC that might be
valuable on their own -- namely, the Shiites. The Shiites are as opposed to the Sunni guerrillas as the United States. The last thing they want is Hussein's return or a Wahabi-influenced government in Baghdad. On the other hand, they are certainly not prepared to create an Iraqi army out of the Shiite community and hand it over to U.S. command. They are seeking a Shiite-dominated Iraq -- meaning one that excludes the U.S. from long-term presence as well. On the whole, their goal is an Islamic republic generally based on the Iranian Shiite model. It is the last thing the U.S. wanted in May, but, this is November and what the U.S. wants and what it can have are very different things.

It would seem to us that there are two strategies on the table:

1. Assume that scenario two is at work, wait until December and then deal with the IGC from a position of relative strength.

2. Assume that scenario one is at work and lock in a deal with the Shiites before the situation gets any worse and the Shiite -- and Iranian -- price gets any higher.

Each scenario carries substantial risks and no intelligence
guidance available is sufficiently authoritative. The temptation
to wait and hope for the best is strong, but a miscalculation
could lead to an impossible situation in which the Shiites have
the Americans by the throat while the guerrillas are hitting
other parts of the body. Paying the Shiite price now, if
unnecessary, creates a long-term problem -- the Shiites will be charging a high price for their services.

The administration has toyed with this Shiite-Iranian alignment for months now without coming to a definitive decision, constantly hoping that things would get better. Now, the choice is only between things remaining the same or getting worse. Given the intelligence problems, we suspect that Bush needs to work from the worst-case scenario. That means he will bypass the IGC and work directly with Shiite leaders to lock in a deal quickly.

And now it becomes a question of whether the Shiites are feeling lucky.


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« Reply #56 on: November 13, 2003, 06:16:47 AM »
A friend forwarded me the following:

Amir Taheri wrote a great little article about a book recently published by
one of al Qaeda's "deep thinkers".  If this is representative of how the
extremist Islamists think (which I think it is), it puts to rest all the
theories claiming that if we "change" our Foreign policy in some way or
another, and learn to become somehow more "accomodating", we would no longer be hated and attacked.

It would certainly appear that we are being hated and attacked NOT for what we DID, but for what we ARE.


by Amir Taheri


September 4, 2003

'IT is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is
American democracy." This is the message of a new book, just published by al Qaeda in several Arab countries.

The author of "The Future of Iraq and The Arabian Peninsula After The Fall of Baghdad" is Yussuf al-Ayyeri, one of Osama bin Laden's closest associates since the early '90s. A Saudi citizen also known by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad, he was killed in a gun battle with security forces in Riyadh last June.

The book is published by The Centre for Islamic Research and Studies, a
company set up by bin Laden in 1995 with branches in New York and London (now closed). Over the past eight years, it has published more than 40 books by al Qaeda "thinkers and researchers" including militants such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's No. 2.

Al-Ayyeri first made his name in the mid '90s as a commander of the Farouq camp in eastern Afghanistan, where al Qaeda and the Taliban trained thousands of "volunteers for martyrdom."

Al-Ayyeri argues that the history of mankind is the story of "perpetual war between belief and unbelief." Over the millennia, both have appeared in different guises. As far as belief is concerned, the absolutely final version is represented by Islam, which "annuls all other religions and creeds." Thus, Muslims can have only one goal: converting all humanity to Islam and "effacing the final traces of all other religions, creeds and ideologies."

Unbelief (kufr) has come in numerous forms and shapes, but with a single objective: to destroy faith in God. In the West, unbelief has succeeded in making a majority of people forget God and worship the world. Islam, however, is resisting the trend because Allah means to give it final victory.

Al-Ayyeri then shows how various forms of unbelief attacked the world of
Islam in the past century or so, to be defeated in one way or another.

The first form of unbelief to attack was "modernism" (hidatha), which led to the caliphate's destruction and the emergence in the lands of Islam of
states based on ethnic identities and territorial dimensions rather than
religious faith.

The second was nationalism, which, imported from Europe, divided Muslims into Arabs, Persians, Turks and others. Al-Ayyeri claims that nationalism has now been crushed in almost all Muslim lands. He claims that a true Muslim is not loyal to any particular nation-state.

The third form of unbelief is socialism, which includes communism. That,
too, has been defeated and eliminated from the Muslim world, Al-Ayyeri
asserts. He presents Ba'athism, the Iraqi ruling party's ideology under
Saddam Hussein, as the fourth form of unbelief to afflict Muslims,
especially Arabs. Ba'athism (also the official ideology of the Syrian
regime) offers Arabs a mixture of pan-Arabism and socialism as an
alternative to Islam. Al-Ayyeri says Muslims "should welcome the destruction of Ba'athism in Iraq."

"The end of Ba'ath rule in Iraq is good for Islam and Muslims," he writes.
"Where the banner of Ba'ath has fallen, shall rise the banner of Islam."

The author notes as "a paradox" the fact that all the various forms of
unbelief that threatened Islam were defeated with the help of the Western powers, and more specifically the United States.

The "modernizing" movement in the Muslim world was ultimately discredited when European imperial powers forced their domination on Muslim lands, turning the Westernized elite into their "hired lackeys." The nationalists were defeated and discredited in wars led against them by various Western powers or, in the case of Nasserism in Egypt, by Israel.

The West also gave a hand in defeating socialism and communism in the Muslim world. The most dramatic example of this came when America helped the Afghan mujaheeden destroy the Soviet-backed communist regime in Kabul. And now the United States and its British allies have destroyed Ba'athism in Iraq and may have fatally undermined it in Syria as well.

What Al-Ayyeri sees now is a "clean battlefield" in which Islam faces a new form of unbelief. This, he labels "secularist democracy." This threat is "far more dangerous to Islam" than all its predecessors combined. The
reasons, he explains in a whole chapter, must be sought in democracy's
"seductive capacities."

This form of "unbelief" persuades the people that they are in charge of
their destiny and that, using their collective reasoning, they can shape
policies and pass laws as they see fit. That leads them into ignoring the
"unalterable laws" promulgated by God for the whole of mankind, and codified in the Islamic shariah (jurisprudence) until the end of time.

The goal of democracy, according to Al-Ayyeri, is to "make Muslims love this world, forget the next world and abandon jihad." If established in any
Muslim country for a reasonably long time, democracy could lead to economic prosperity, which, in turn, would make Muslims "reluctant to die in martyrdom" in defense of their faith.

He says that it is vital to prevent any normalization and stabilization in
Iraq. Muslim militants should make sure that the United States does not
succeed in holding elections in Iraq and creating a democratic government. "If democracy comes to Iraq, the next target [for democratization] would be the whole of the Muslim world," Al-Ayyeri writes.

The al Qaeda ideologist claims that the only Muslim country already affected by "the beginning of democratization" and thus in "mortal danger" is Turkey.

"Do we want what happened in Turkey to happen to all Muslim countries?" he asks. "Do we want Muslims to refuse taking part in jihad and submit to secularism, which is a Zionist-Crusader concoction?"

Al-Ayyeri says Iraq would become the graveyard of secular democracy, just as Afghanistan became the graveyard of communism. The idea is that the Americans, faced with mounting casualties in Iraq, will "just run away," as did the Soviets in Afghanistan. This is because the Americans love this world and are concerned about nothing but their own comfort, while Muslims dream of the pleasures that martyrdom offers in paradise.

"In Iraq today, there are only two sides," Al-Ayyeri asserts. "Here we have a clash of two visions of the world and the future of mankind. The side prepared to accept more sacrifices will win."

Al-Ayyeri's analysis may sound naive; he also gets most of his facts wrong. But he is right in reminding the world that what happens in Iraq could affect other Arab countries - in fact, the whole of the Muslim world.


The Philosopher of Islamic Terror (Part I)
March 23, 2003

In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, many people anticipated a quick and satisfying American victory over Al Qaeda. The terrorist army was thought to be no bigger than a pirate ship, and the newly vigilant police forces of the entire world were going to sink the ship with swift arrests and dark maneuvers. Al Qaeda was driven from its bases in Afghanistan. Arrests and maneuvers duly occurred and are still occurring. Just this month, one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants was nabbed in Pakistan. Police agents, as I write, seem to be hot on the trail of bin Laden himself, or so reports suggest.

Yet Al Qaeda has seemed unfazed. Its popularity, which was hard to imagine at first, has turned out to be large and genuine in more than a few countries. Al Qaeda upholds a paranoid and apocalyptic worldview, according to which ''Crusaders and Zionists'' have been conspiring for centuries to destroy Islam. And this worldview turns out to be widely accepted in many places -- a worldview that allowed many millions of people to regard the Sept. 11 attacks as an Israeli conspiracy, or perhaps a C.I.A. conspiracy, to undo Islam. Bin Laden's soulful, bearded face peers out from T-shirts and posters in a number of countries, quite as if he were the new Che Guevara, the mythic righter of cosmic wrongs.

The vigilant police in many countries, applying themselves at last, have raided a number of Muslim charities and Islamic banks, which stand accused of subsidizing the terrorists. These raids have advanced the war on still another front, which has been good to see. But the raids have also shown that Al Qaeda is not only popular; it is also institutionally solid, with a worldwide network of clandestine resources. This is not the Symbionese Liberation Army. This is an organization with ties to the ruling elites in a number of countries; an organization that, were it given the chance to strike up an alliance with Saddam Hussein's Baath movement, would be doubly terrifying; an organization that, in any case, will surely survive the outcome in Iraq.

To anyone who has looked closely enough, Al Qaeda and its sister organizations plainly enjoy yet another strength, arguably the greatest strength of all, something truly imposing -- though in the Western press this final strength has received very little attention. Bin Laden is a Saudi plutocrat with Yemeni ancestors, and most of the suicide warriors of Sept. 11 were likewise Saudis, and the provenance of those people has focused everyone's attention on the Arabian peninsula. But Al Qaeda has broader roots. The organization was created in the late 1980's by an affiliation of three armed factions -- bin Laden's circle of ''Afghan'' Arabs, together with two factions from Egypt, the Islamic Group and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the latter led by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's top theoretician. The Egyptian factions emerged from an older current, a school of thought from within Egypt's fundamentalist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, in the 1950's and 60's. And at the heart of that single school of thought stood, until his execution in 1966, a philosopher named Sayyid Qutb -- the intellectual hero of every one of the groups that eventually went into Al Qaeda, their Karl Marx (to put it that way), their guide.

Qutb (pronounced KUH-tahb) wrote a book called ''Milestones,'' and that book was cited at his trial, which gave it immense publicity, especially after its author was hanged. ''Milestones'' became a classic manifesto of the terrorist wing of Islamic fundamentalism. A number of journalists have dutifully turned the pages of ''Milestones,'' trying to decipher the otherwise inscrutable terrorist point of view.

I have been reading some of Qutb's other books, and I think that ''Milestones'' may have misled the journalists. ''Milestones'' is a fairly shallow book, judged in isolation. But ''Milestones'' was drawn from his vast commentary on the Koran called ''In the Shade of the Qur'an.'' One of the many volumes of this giant work was translated into English in the 1970's and published by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, an organization later widely suspected of participation in terrorist attacks -- and an organization whose Washington office was run by a brother of bin Laden's. In the last four years a big effort has been mounted by another organization, the Islamic Foundation in England, to bring out the rest, in what will eventually be an edition of 15 fat English-language volumes, handsomely ornamented with Arabic script from the Koran. Just in these past few weeks a number of new volumes in this edition have made their way into the Arab bookshops of Brooklyn, and I have gobbled them up. By now I have made my way through a little less than half of ''In the Shade of the Qur'an,'' which I think is all that exists so far in English, together with three other books by Qutb. And I have something to report.

Qutb is not shallow. Qutb is deep. ''In the Shade of the Qur'an'' is, in its fashion, a masterwork. Al Qaeda and its sister organizations are not merely popular, wealthy, global, well connected and institutionally sophisticated. These groups stand on a set of ideas too, and some of those ideas may be pathological, which is an old story in modern politics; yet even so, the ideas are powerful. We should have known that, of course. But we should have known many things.

Qutb's special ability as a writer came from the fact that, as a young boy, he received a traditional Muslim education -- he committed the Koran to memory by the age of 10 -- yet he went on, at a college in Cairo, to receive a modern, secular education. He was born in 1906, and in the 1920's and 30's he took up socialism and literature. He wrote novels, poems and a book that is still said to be well regarded called ''Literary Criticism: Its Principles and Methodology.'' His writings reflected -- here I quote one of his admirers and translators, Hamid Algar of the University of California at Berkeley -- a ''Western-tinged outlook on cultural and literary questions.'' Qutb displayed ''traces of individualism and existentialism.'' He even traveled to the United States in the late 1940's, enrolled at the Colorado State College of Education and earned a master's degree. In some of the accounts of Qutb's life, this trip to America is pictured as a ghastly trauma, mostly because of America's sexual freedoms, which sent him reeling back to Egypt in a mood of hatred and fear.

I am skeptical of that interpretation, though. His book from the 1940's, ''Social Justice and Islam,'' shows that, even before his voyage to America, he was pretty well set in his Islamic fundamentalism. It is true that, after his return to Egypt, he veered into ever more radical directions. But in the early 1950's, everyone in Egypt was veering in radical directions. Gamal Abdel Nasser and a group of nationalist army officers overthrew the old king in 1952 and launched a nationalist revolution on Pan-Arabist grounds. And, as the Pan-Arabists went about promoting their revolution, Sayyid Qutb went about promoting his own, somewhat different revolution. His idea was ''Islamist.'' He wanted to turn Islam into a political movement to create a new society, to be based on ancient Koranic principles. Qutb joined the Muslim Brotherhood, became the editor of its journal and established himself right away as Islamism's principal theoretician in the Arab world.

The Islamists and the Pan-Arabists tried to cooperate with one another in Egypt in those days, and there was some basis for doing so. Both movements dreamed of rescuing the Arab world from the legacies of European imperialism. Both groups dreamed of crushing Zionism and the brand-new Jewish state. Both groups dreamed of fashioning a new kind of modernity, which was not going to be liberal and freethinking in the Western style but, even so, was going to be up-to-date on economic and scientific issues. And both movements dreamed of doing all this by returning in some fashion to the glories of the Arab past. Both movements wanted to resurrect, in a modern version, the ancient Islamic caliphate of the seventh century, when the Arabs were conquering the world.

The Islamists and the Pan-Arabists could be compared, in these ambitions, with the Italian Fascists of Mussolini's time, who wanted to resurrect the Roman Empire, and to the Nazis, who likewise wanted to resurrect ancient Rome, except in a German version. The most radical of the Pan-Arabists openly admired the Nazis and pictured their proposed new caliphate as a racial victory of the Arabs over all other ethnic groups. Qutb and the Islamists, by way of contrast, pictured the resurrected caliphate as a theocracy, strictly enforcing shariah, the legal code of the Koran. The Islamists and the Pan-Arabists had their similarities then, and their differences. (And today those two movements still have their similarities and differences -- as shown by bin Laden's Qaeda, which represents the most violent wing of Islamism, and Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, which represents the most violent wing of Pan-Arabism.)

In 1952, in the days before staging his coup d'etat, Colonel Nasser is said to have paid a visit to Qutb at his home, presumably to get his backing. Some people expected that, after taking power, Nasser would appoint Qutb to be the new revolutionary minister of education. But once the Pan-Arabists had thrown out the old king, the differences between the two movements began to overwhelm the similarities, and Qutb was not appointed. Instead, Nasser cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood, and after someone tried to assassinate him, he blamed the Brotherhood and cracked down even harder. Some of the Muslim Brotherhood's most distinguished intellectuals and theologians escaped into exile. Sayyid Qutb's brother, Muhammad Qutb, was one of those people. He fled to Saudi Arabia and ended up as a distinguished Saudi professor of Islamic Studies. Many years later, Osama bin Laden would be one of Muhammad Qutb's students.

But Sayyid Qutb stayed put and paid dearly for his stubbornness. Nasser jailed him in 1954, briefly released him, jailed him again for 10 years, released him for a few months and finally hanged him in 1966. Conditions during the first years of prison were especially bad. Qutb was tortured. Even in better times, according to his followers, he was locked in a ward with 40 people, most of them criminals, with a tape recorder broadcasting the speeches of Nasser 20 hours a day. Still, by smuggling papers in and out of jail, he managed to continue with his writings, no longer in the ''Western tinged'' vein of his early, literary days but now as a full-fledged Islamist revolutionary. And somehow, he produced his ''In the Shade of the Qur'an,'' this gigantic study, which must surely count as one of the most remarkable works of prison literature ever produced.

Readers without a Muslim education who try to make their way unaided through the Koran tend to find it, as I have, a little dry and forbidding. But Qutb's commentaries are not at all like that. He quotes passages from the chapters, or suras, of the Koran, and he pores over the quoted passages, observing the prosodic qualities of the text, the rhythm, tone and musicality of the words, sometimes the images. The suras lead him to discuss dietary regulations, the proper direction to pray, the rules of divorce, the question of when a man may propose marriage to a widow (four months and 10 days after the death of her husband, unless she is pregnant, in which case after delivery), the rules concerning a Muslim man who wishes to marry a Christian or a Jew (very complicated), the obligations of charity, the punishment for crimes and for breaking your word, the prohibition on liquor and intoxicants, the proper clothing to wear, the rules on usury, moneylending and a thousand other themes.

The Koran tells stories, and Qutb recounts some of these and remarks on their wisdom and significance. His tone is always lucid and plain. Yet the total effect of his writing is almost sensual in its measured pace. The very title ''In the Shade of the Qur'an'' conveys a vivid desert image, as if the Koran were a leafy palm tree, and we have only to open Qutb's pages to escape the hot sun and refresh ourselves in the shade. As he makes his way through the suras and proposes his other commentaries, he slowly constructs an enormous theological criticism of modern life, and not just in Egypt.

Qutb wrote that, all over the world, humans had reached a moment of unbearable crisis. The human race had lost touch with human nature. Man's inspiration, intelligence and morality were degenerating. Sexual relations were deteriorating ''to a level lower than the beasts.'' Man was miserable, anxious and skeptical, sinking into idiocy, insanity and crime. People were turning, in their unhappiness, to drugs, alcohol and existentialism. Qutb admired economic productivity and scientific knowledge. But he did not think that wealth and science were rescuing the human race. He figured that, on the contrary, the richest countries were the unhappiest of all. And what was the cause of this unhappiness -- this wretched split between man's truest nature and modern life?

A great many cultural critics in Europe and America asked this question in the middle years of the 20th century, and a great many of them, following Nietzsche and other philosophers, pointed to the origins of Western civilization in ancient Greece, where man was said to have made his fatal error. This error was philosophical. It consisted of placing an arrogant and deluded faith in the power of human reason -- an arrogant faith that, after many centuries, had created in modern times a tyranny of technology over life.

Qutb shared that analysis, somewhat. Only instead of locating the error in ancient Greece, he located it in ancient Jerusalem. In the Muslim fashion, Qutb looked on the teachings of Judaism as being divinely revealed by God to Moses and the other prophets. Judaism instructed man to worship one God and to forswear all others. Judaism instructed man on how to behave in every sphere of life -- how to live a worldly existence that was also a life at one with God. This could be done by obeying a system of divinely mandated laws, the code of Moses. In Qutb's view, however, Judaism withered into what he called ''a system of rigid and lifeless ritual.''

God sent another prophet, though. That prophet, in Qutb's Muslim way of thinking, was Jesus, who proposed a few useful reforms -- lifting some no-longer necessary restrictions in the Jewish dietary code, for example -- and also an admirable new spirituality. But something terrible occurred. The relation between Jesus' followers and the Jews took, in Qutb's view, ''a deplorable course.'' Jesus' followers squabbled with the old-line Jews, and amid the mutual recriminations, Jesus' message ended up being diluted and even perverted. Jesus' disciples and followers were persecuted, which meant that, in their sufferings, the disciples were never able to provide an adequate or systematic exposition of Jesus' message.

Who but Sayyid Qutb, from his miserable prison in Nasser's Egypt, could have zeroed in so plausibly on the difficulties encountered by Jesus' disciples in getting out the word? Qutb figured that, as a result, the Christian Gospels were badly garbled, and should not be regarded as accurate or reliable. The Gospels declared Jesus to be divine, but in Qutb's Muslim account, Jesus was a mere human -- a prophet of God, not a messiah. The larger catastrophe, however, was this: Jesus' disciples, owing to what Qutb called ''this unpleasant separation of the two parties,'' went too far in rejecting the Jewish teachings.

Jesus' disciples and followers, the Christians, emphasized Jesus' divine message of spirituality and love. But they rejected Judaism's legal system, the code of Moses, which regulated every jot and tittle of daily life. Instead, the early Christians imported into Christianity the philosophy of the Greeks -- the belief in a spiritual existence completely separate from physical life, a zone of pure spirit.


The Philosopher of Islamic Terror (Part II)

In the fourth century of the Christian era, Emperor Constantine converted the Roman Empire to Christianity. But Constantine, in Qutb's interpretation, did this in a spirit of pagan hypocrisy, dominated by scenes of wantonness, half-naked girls, gems and precious metals. Christianity, having abandoned the Mosaic code, could put up no defense. And so, in their horror at Roman morals, the Christians did as best they could and countered the imperial debaucheries with a cult of monastic asceticism.

But this was no good at all. Monastic asceticism stands at odds with the physical quality of human nature. In this manner, in Qutb's view, Christianity lost touch with the physical world. The old code of Moses, with its laws for diet, dress, marriage, sex and everything else, had enfolded the divine and the worldly into a single concept, which was the worship of God. But Christianity divided these things into two, the sacred and the secular. Christianity said, ''Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's.'' Christianity put the physical world in one corner and the spiritual world in another corner: Constantine's debauches over here, monastic renunciation over there. In Qutb's view there was a ''hideous schizophrenia'' in this approach to life. And things got worse.

A series of Christian religious councils adopted what Qutb thought to be irrational principles on Christianity's behalf -- principles regarding the nature of Jesus, the Eucharist, transubstantiation and other questions, all of which were, in Qutb's view, ''absolutely incomprehensible, inconceivable and incredible.'' Church teachings froze the irrational principles into dogma. And then the ultimate crisis struck.

Qutb's story now shifts to Arabia. In the seventh century, God delivered a new revelation to his prophet Muhammad, who established the correct, nondistorted relation to human nature that had always eluded the Christians. Muhammad dictated a strict new legal code, which put religion once more at ease in the physical world, except in a better way than ever before. Muhammad's prophecies, in the Koran, instructed man to be God's ''vice regent'' on earth -- to take charge of the physical world, and not simply to see it as something alien to spirituality or as a way station on the road to a Christian afterlife. Muslim scientists in the Middle Ages took this instruction seriously and went about inquiring into the nature of physical reality. And, in the Islamic universities of Andalusia and the East, the Muslim scientists, deepening their inquiry, hit upon the inductive or scientific method -- which opened the door to all further scientific and technological progress. In this and many other ways, Islam seized the leadership of mankind. Unfortunately, the Muslims came under attack from Crusaders, Mongols and other enemies. And, because the Muslims proved not faithful enough to Muhammad's revelations, they were unable to fend off these attacks. They were unable to capitalize on their brilliant discovery of the scientific method.

The Muslim discoveries were exported instead into Christian Europe. And there, in Europe in the 16th century, Islam's scientific method began to generate results, and modern science emerged. But Christianity, with its insistence on putting the physical world and the spiritual world in different corners, could not cope with scientific progress. And so Christianity's inability to acknowledge or respect the physical quality of daily life spread into the realm of culture and shaped society's attitude toward science.

As Qutb saw it, Europeans, under Christianity's influence, began to picture God on one side and science on the other. Religion over here; intellectual inquiry over there. On one side, the natural human yearning for God and for a divinely ordered life; on the other side, the natural human desire for knowledge of the physical universe. The church against science; the scientists against the church. Everything that Islam knew to be one, the Christian Church divided into two. And, under these terrible pressures, the European mind split finally asunder. The break became total. Christianity, over here; atheism, over there. It was the fateful divorce between the sacred and the secular.

Europe's scientific and technical achievements allowed the Europeans to dominate the world. And the Europeans inflicted their ''hideous schizophrenia'' on peoples and cultures in every corner of the globe. That was the origin of modern misery -- the anxiety in contemporary society, the sense of drift, the purposelessness, the craving for false pleasures. The crisis of modern life was felt by every thinking person in the Christian West. But then again, Europe's leadership of mankind inflicted that crisis on every thinking person in the Muslim world as well. Here Qutb was on to something original. The Christians of the West underwent the crisis of modern life as a consequence, he thought, of their own theological tradition -- a result of nearly 2,000 years of ecclesiastical error. But in Qutb's account, the Muslims had to undergo that same experience because it had been imposed on them by Christians from abroad, which could only make the experience doubly painful -- an alienation that was also a humiliation.

That was Qutb's analysis. In writing about modern life, he put his finger on something that every thinking person can recognize, if only vaguely -- the feeling that human nature and modern life are somehow at odds. But Qutb evoked this feeling in a specifically Muslim fashion. It is easy to imagine that, in expounding on these themes back in the 1950's and 60's, Qutb had already identified the kind of personal agony that Mohamed Atta and the suicide warriors of Sept. 11 must have experienced in our own time. It was the agony of inhabiting a modern world of liberal ideas and achievements while feeling that true life exists somewhere else. It was the agony of walking down a modern sidewalk while dreaming of a different universe altogether, located in the Koranic past -- the agony of being pulled this way and that. The present, the past. The secular, the sacred. The freely chosen, the religiously mandated -- a life of confusion unto madness brought on, Qutb ventured, by Christian error.

Sitting in a wretched Egyptian prison, surrounded by criminals and composing his Koranic commentaries with Nasser's speeches blaring in the background on the infuriating tape recorder, Qutb knew whom to blame. He blamed the early Christians. He blamed Christianity's modern legacy, which was the liberal idea that religion should stay in one corner and secular life in another corner. He blamed the Jews. In his interpretation, the Jews had shown themselves to be eternally ungrateful to God. Early in their history, during their Egyptian captivity (Qutb thought he knew a thing or two about Egyptian captivity), the Jews acquired a slavish character, he believed. As a result they became craven and unprincipled when powerless, and vicious and arrogant when powerful. And these traits were eternal. The Jews occupy huge portions of Qutb's Koranic commentary -- their perfidy, greed, hatefulness, diabolical impulses, never-ending conspiracies and plots against Muhammad and Islam. Qutb was relentless on these themes. He looked on Zionism as part of the eternal campaign by the Jews to destroy Islam.

And Qutb blamed one other party. He blamed the Muslims who had gone along with Christianity's errors -- the treacherous Muslims who had inflicted Christianity's ''schizophrenia'' on the world of Islam. And, because he was willing to blame, Qutb was able to recommend a course of action too -- a revolutionary program that was going to relieve the psychological pressure of modern life and was going to put man at ease with the natural world and with God.

Qutb's analysis was soulful and heartfelt. It was a theological analysis, but in its cultural emphases, it reflected the style of 20th-century philosophy. The analysis asked some genuinely perplexing questions -- about the division between mind and body in Western thought; about the difficulties in striking a balance between sensual experience and spiritual elevation; about the steely impersonality of modern power and technological innovation; about social injustice. But, though Qutb plainly followed some main trends of 20th-century Western social criticism and philosophy, he poured his ideas through a filter of Koranic commentary, and the filter gave his commentary a grainy new texture, authentically Muslim, which allowed him to make a series of points that no Western thinker was likely to propose.

One of those points had to do with women's role in society -- and these passages in his writings have been misinterpreted, I think, in some of the Western commentaries on Qutb. His attitude was prudish in the extreme, judged from a Western perspective of today. But prudishness was not his motivation. He understood quite clearly that, in a liberal society, women were free to consult their own hearts and to pursue careers in quest of material wealth. But from his point of view, this could only mean that women had shucked their responsibility to shape the human character, through child-rearing. The Western notion of women's freedom could only mean that God and the natural order of life had been set aside in favor of a belief in other sources of authority, like one's own heart.

But what did it mean to recognize the existence of more than one source of authority? It meant paganism -- a backward step, into the heathen primitivism of the past. It meant life without reference to God -- a life with no prospect of being satisfactory or fulfilling. And why had the liberal societies of the West lost sight of the natural harmony of gender roles and of women's place in the family and the home? This was because of the ''hideous schizophrenia'' of modern life -- the Western outlook that led people to picture God's domain in one place and the ordinary business of daily life in some other place.

Qutb wrote bitterly about European imperialism, which he regarded as nothing more than a continuation of the medieval Crusades against Islam. He denounced American foreign policy. He complained about America's decision in the time of Harry Truman to support the Zionists, a strange decision that he attributed, in part, to America's loss of moral values. But I must point out that, in Qutb's writings, at least in the many volumes that I have read, the complaints about American policy are relatively few and fleeting. International politics was simply not his main concern. Sometimes he complained about the hypocrisy in America's endless boasts about freedom and democracy. He mentioned America's extermination of its Indian population. He noted the racial prejudice against blacks. But those were not Qutb's themes, finally. American hypocrisy exercised him, but only slightly. His deepest quarrel was not with America's failure to uphold its principles. His quarrel was with the principles. He opposed the United States because it was a liberal society, not because the United States failed to be a liberal society.

The truly dangerous element in American life, in his estimation, was not capitalism or foreign policy or racism or the unfortunate cult of women's independence. The truly dangerous element lay in America's separation of church and state -- the modern political legacy of Christianity's ancient division between the sacred and the secular. This was not a political criticism. This was theological -- though Qutb, or perhaps his translators, preferred the word ''ideological.''

The conflict between the Western liberal countries and the world of Islam, he explained, ''remains in essence one of ideology, although over the years it has appeared in various guises and has grown more sophisticated and, at times, more insidious.'' The sophisticated and insidious disguises tended to be worldly -- a camouflage that was intended to make the conflict appear to be economic, political or military, and that was intended to make Muslims like himself who insisted on speaking about religion appear to be, in his words, ''fanatics'' and ''backward people.''

''But in reality,'' he explained, ''the confrontation is not over control of territory or economic resources, or for military domination. If we believed that, we would play into our enemies' hands and would have no one but ourselves to blame for the consequences.''

The true confrontation, the deepest confrontation of all, was over Islam and nothing but Islam. Religion was the issue. Qutb could hardly be clearer on this topic. The confrontation arose from the effort by Crusaders and world Zionism to annihilate Islam. The Crusaders and Zionists knew that Christianity and Judaism were inferior to Islam and had led to lives of misery. They needed to annihilate Islam in order to rescue their own doctrines from extinction. And so the Crusaders and Zionists went on the attack.

But this attack was not, at bottom, military. At least Qutb did not devote his energies to warning against such a danger. Nor did he spend much time worrying about the ins and outs of Israel's struggle with the Palestinians. Border disputes did not concern him. He was focused on something cosmically larger. He worried, instead, that people with liberal ideas were mounting a gigantic campaign against Islam -- ''an effort to confine Islam to the emotional and ritual circles, and to bar it from participating in the activity of life, and to check its complete predominance over every human secular activity, a pre-eminence it earns by virtue of its nature and function.''

He trembled with rage at that effort. And he cited good historical evidence for his trembling rage. Turkey, an authentic Muslim country, had embraced secular ideas back in 1924. Turkey's revolutionary leader at that time, Kemal Ataturk, abolished the institutional remnants of the ancient caliphate -- the caliphate that Qutb so fervently wanted to resurrect. The Turks in this fashion had tried to abolish the very idea and memory of an Islamic state. Qutb worried that, if secular reformers in other Muslim countries had any success, Islam was going to be pushed into a corner, separate from the state. True Islam was going to end up as partial Islam. But partial Islam, in his view, did not exist.

The secular reformers were already at work, throughout the Muslim world. They were mounting their offensive -- ''a final offensive which is actually taking place now in all the Muslim countries. . . . It is an effort to exterminate this religion as even a basic creed and to replace it with secular conceptions having their own implications, values, institutions and organizations.''

''To exterminate'' -- that was Qutb's phrase. Hysteria cried out from every syllable. But he did not want to be hysterical. He wanted to respond. How?

That one question dominated Qutb's life. It was a theological question, and he answered it with his volumes on the Koran. But he intended his theology to be practical too -- to offer a revolutionary program to save mankind. The first step was to open people's eyes. He wanted Muslims to recognize the nature of the danger -- to recognize that Islam had come under assault from outside the Muslim world and also from inside the Muslim world. The assault from outside was led by Crusaders and world Zionism (though sometimes he also mentioned Communism).

But the assault from inside was conducted by Muslims themselves -- that is, by people who called themselves Muslims but who polluted the Muslim world with incompatible ideas derived from elsewhere. These several enemies, internal and external, the false Muslims together with the Crusaders and Zionists, ruled the earth. But Qutb considered that Islam's strength was, even so, huger yet. ''We are certain,'' he wrote, ''that this religion of Islam is so intrinsically genuine, so colossal and deeply rooted that all such efforts and brutal concussions will avail nothing.''

Islam's apparent weakness was mere appearance. Islam's true champions seemed to be few, but numbers meant nothing. The few had to gather themselves together into what Qutb in ''Milestones'' called a vanguard -- a term that he must have borrowed from Lenin, though Qutb had in mind a tiny group animated by the spirit of Muhammad and his Companions from the dawn of Islam. This vanguard of true Muslims was going to undertake the renovation of Islam and of civilization all over the world. The vanguard was going to turn against the false Muslims and ''hypocrites'' and do as Muhammad had done, which was to found a new state, based on the Koran. And from there, the vanguard was going to resurrect the caliphate and take Islam to all the world, just as Muhammad had done.

Qutb's vanguard was going to reinstate shariah, the Muslim code, as the legal code for all of society. Shariah implied some fairly severe rules. Qutb cited the Koran on the punishments for killing or wounding: ''a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear.'' Fornication, too, was a serious crime because, in his words, ''it involves an attack on honor and a contempt for sanctity and an encouragement of profligacy in society.'' Shariah specified the punishments here as well. ''The penalty for this must be severe; for married men and women it is stoning to death; for unmarried men and women it is flogging, a hundred lashes, which in cases is fatal.'' False accusations were likewise serious. ''A punishment of 80 lashes is fixed for those who falsely accuse chaste women.'' As for those who threaten the general security of society, their punishment is to be put to death, to be crucified, to have their hands and feet cut off, or to be banished from the country.''

But Qutb refused to regard these punishments as barbarous or primitive. Shariah, in his view, meant liberation. Other societies, drawing on non-Koranic principles, forced people to obey haughty masters and man-made law. Those other societies forced people to worship their own rulers and to do as the rulers said -- even if the rulers were democratically chosen. Under shariah, no one was going to be forced to obey mere humans. Shariah, in Qutb's view, meant ''the abolition of man-made laws.'' In the resurrected caliphate, every person was going to be ''free from servitude to others.'' The true Islamic system meant ''the complete and true freedom of every person and the full dignity of every individual of the society. On the other hand, in a society in which some people are lords who legislate and some others are slaves who obey, then there is no freedom in the real sense, nor dignity for each and every individual.''

He insisted that shariah meant freedom of conscience -- though freedom of conscience, in his interpretation, meant freedom from false doctrines that failed to recognize God, freedom from the modern schizophrenia. Shariah, in a word, was utopia for Sayyid Qutb. It was perfection. It was the natural order in the universal. It was freedom, justice, humanity and divinity in a single system. It was a vision as grand or grander than Communism or any of the other totalitarian doctrines of the 20th century. It was, in his words, ''the total liberation of man from enslavement by others.'' It was an impossible vision -- a vision that was plainly going to require a total dictatorship in order to enforce: a vision that, by claiming not to rely on man-made laws, was going to have to rely, instead, on theocrats, who would interpret God's laws to the masses. The most extreme despotism was all too visible in Qutb's revolutionary program. That much should have been obvious to anyone who knew the history of the other grand totalitarian revolutionary projects of the 20th century, the projects of the Nazis, the Fascists and the Communists.

Still, for Qutb, utopia was not the main thing. Utopia was for the future, and Qutb was not a dreamer. Islam, in his interpretation, was a way of life. He wanted his Muslim vanguard to live according to pious Islamic principles in the here and now. He wanted the vanguard to observe the rules of Muslim charity and all the other rules of daily life. He wanted the true Muslims to engage in a lifelong study of the Koran -- the lifelong study that his own gigantic commentary was designed to enhance. But most of all, he wanted his vanguard to accept the obligations of ''jihad,'' which is to say, the struggle for Islam. And what would that mean, to engage in jihad in the present and not just in the sci-fi utopian future?

Qutb began Volume 1 of ''In the Shade of the Qur'an'' by saying: ''To live 'in the shade of the Qur'an' is a great blessing which can only be fully appreciated by those who experience it. It is a rich experience that gives meaning to life and makes it worth living. I am deeply thankful to God Almighty for blessing me with this uplifting experience for a considerable time, which was the happiest and most fruitful period of my life -- a privilege for which I am eternally grateful.''

He does not identify that happy and fruitful period of his life -- a period that lasted, as he says, a considerable time. Perhaps his brother and other intimates would have known exactly what he had in mind -- some very pleasant period, conceivably the childhood years when he was memorizing the Koran. But an ordinary reader who picks up Qutb's books can only imagine that he was writing about his years of torture and prison.

One of his Indian publishers has highlighted this point in a remarkably gruesome manner by attaching an unsigned preface to a 1998 edition of ''Milestones.'' The preface declares: ''The ultimate price for working to please God Almighty and to propagate his ways in this world is often one's own life. The author'' -- Qutb, that is -- ''tried to do it; he paid for it with his life. If you and I try to do it, there is every likelihood we will be called upon to do the same. But for those who truly believe in God, what other choice is there?''

You are meant to suppose that a true reader of Sayyid Qutb is someone who, in the degree that he properly digests Qutb's message, will act on what has been digested. And action may well bring on a martyr's death. To read is to glide forward toward death; and gliding toward death means you have understood what you are reading. Qutb's writings do vibrate to that morbid tone -- not always, but sometimes. The work that he left behind, his Koranic commentary, is vast, vividly written, wise, broad, indignant, sometimes demented, bristly with hatred, medieval, modern, tolerant, intolerant, paranoid, cruel, urgent, cranky, tranquil, grave, poetic, learned and analytic. Sometimes it is moving. It is a work large and solid enough to create its own shade, where Qutb's vanguard and other readers could repose and turn his pages, as he advised the students of the Koran to do, in the earnest spirit of loyal soldiers reading their daily bulletin. But there is, in this commentary, something otherworldly too -- an atmosphere of death. At the very least, it is impossible to read the work without remembering that, in 1966, Qutb, in the phrase of one of his biographers, ''kissed the gallows.''

Martyrdom was among his themes. He discusses passages in the Koran's sura ''The Cow,'' and he explains that death as a martyr is nothing to fear. Yes, some people will have to be sacrificed. ''Those who risk their lives and go out to fight, and who are prepared to lay down their lives for the cause of God are honorable people, pure of heart and blessed of soul. But the great surprise is that those among them who are killed in the struggle must not be considered or described as dead. They continue to live, as God Himself clearly states.''

Qutb wrote: ''To all intents and purposes, those people may very well appear lifeless, but life and death are not judged by superficial physical means alone. Life is chiefly characterized by activity, growth and persistence, while death is a state of total loss of function, of complete inertia and lifelessness. But the death of those who are killed for the cause of God gives more impetus to the cause, which continues to thrive on their blood. Their influence on those they leave behind also grows and spreads. Thus after their death they remain an active force in shaping the life of their community and giving it direction. It is in this sense that such people, having sacrificed their lives for the sake of God, retain their active existence in everyday life. . . .

''There is no real sense of loss in their death, since they continue to live.''

And so it was with Sayyid Qutb. In the period before his final arrest and execution, diplomats from Iraq and Libya offered him the chance to flee to safety in their countries. But he declined to go, on the ground that 3,000 young men and women in Egypt were his followers, and he did not want to undo a lifetime of teaching by refusing to give those 3,000 people an example of true martyrdom. And, in fact, some of those followers went on to form the Egyptian terrorist movement in the next decade, the 1970's -- the groups that massacred tourists and Coptic Christians and that assassinated Egypt's president, Anwar Sadat, after he made peace with Israel; the groups that, in still later years, ended up merging with bin Laden's group and supplying Al Qaeda with its fundamental doctrines. The people in those groups were not stupid or lacking in education.

On the contrary, we keep learning how well educated these people are, how many of them come from the upper class, how wealthy they are. And there is no reason for us to be surprised. These people are in possession of a powerful philosophy, which is Sayyid Qutb's. They are in possession of a gigantic work of literature, which is his ''In the Shade of the Qur'an.'' These people feel that, by consulting their own doctrines, they can explain the unhappiness of the world. They feel that, with an intense study of the Koran, as directed by Qutb and his fellow thinkers, they can make sense of thousands of years of theological error. They feel that, in Qutb's notion of shariah, they command the principles of a perfect society.

These people believe that, in the entire world, they alone are preserving Islam from extinction. They feel they are benefiting the world, even if they are committing random massacres. They are certainly not worried about death. Qutb gave these people a reason to yearn for death. Wisdom, piety, death and immortality are, in his vision of the world, the same. For a pious life is a life of struggle or jihad for Islam, and struggle means martyrdom. We may think: those are creepy ideas. And yes, the ideas are creepy. But there is, in Qutb's presentation, a weird allure in those ideas.

It would be nice to think that, in the war against terror, our side, too, speaks of deep philosophical ideas -- it would be nice to think that someone is arguing with the terrorists and with the readers of Sayyid Qutb. But here I have my worries. The followers of Qutb speak, in their wild fashion, of enormous human problems, and they urge one another to death and to murder. But the enemies of these people speak of what? The political leaders speak of United Nations resolutions, of unilateralism, of multilateralism, of weapons inspectors, of coercion and noncoercion. This is no answer to the terrorists. The terrorists speak insanely of deep things. The antiterrorists had better speak sanely of equally deep things. Presidents will not do this. Presidents will dispatch armies, or decline to dispatch armies, for better and for worse.

But who will speak of the sacred and the secular, of the physical world and the spiritual world? Who will defend liberal ideas against the enemies of liberal ideas? Who will defend liberal principles in spite of liberal society's every failure? President George W. Bush, in his speech to Congress a few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, announced that he was going to wage a war of ideas. He has done no such thing. He is not the man for that.

Philosophers and religious leaders will have to do this on their own. Are they doing so? Armies are in motion, but are the philosophers and religious leaders, the liberal thinkers, likewise in motion? There is something to worry about here, an aspect of the war that liberal society seems to have trouble understanding -- one more worry, on top of all the others, and possibly the greatest worry of all.

Paul Berman has written for the magazine about Vaclav Havel, Vicente Fox and other subjects. He is the author of the coming ''Terror and Liberalism'' (W.W. Norton), from which this essay is adapted.

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« Reply #57 on: November 19, 2003, 05:46:59 PM »
Please feel free to send the Stratfor Weekly to a friend
or colleague.

19 November 2003

by Dr. George Friedman

The Unnoticed Alignment: Iran and the United States in Iraq


Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has quietly announced his recognition of the Iraqi Governing Council and acceptance of the U.S. timeline on the transfer of power in Iraq. The announcement speaks to a partnership that will direct the future course of Iraq. The alliance is of direct short-term benefit to both countries: The United States gains a partner to help combat Sunni insurgents, and Iran will be able to mitigate the long-standing threat on its western border. What is most notable is that, though there has been no secrecy involved, the partnership has emerged completely below the global media's radar.


Iranian President Mohammad Khatami did something very interesting
Nov. 17: He announced that Iran recognized the Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad. He said specifically, "We recognize the Iraqi Governing Council and we believe it is capable, with the Iraqi people, of managing the affairs of the country and taking measures leading toward independence." Khatami also commented on the agreement made by U.S. Administrator Paul Bremer and the IGC to transfer power to an Iraqi government by June: "The consecration of this accord will help with the reconstruction and security in Iraq,"

This is pretty extraordinary stuff. The IGC is an invention of
the United States. The president of Iran has now recognized the IGC as the legitimate government of Iraq, and he has also declared Iran's support for the timetable for transferring power to the IGC. In effect, the U.S. and Iranian positions on Iraq have now converged. The alignment is reminiscent of the Sino-U.S. relationship in the early 1970s: Despite absolute ideological differences on which neither side is prepared to compromise, common geopolitical interests have forced both sides to collaborate with one another. As with Sino-U.S. relations, alignment is a better word than alliance. These two countries are not friends, but history and geography have made them partners.

We would say that this is unexpected, save that Stratfor expected it. On Sept. 2, 2003, we published a weekly analysis titled An Unlikely Alliance, in which we argued that a U.S.-Iranian alignment was the only real solution for the United States in Iraq -- and would represent the fulfillment of an historical dream for Iran. What is interesting from our point of view (having suitably congratulated ourselves) is the exceptionally quiet response of the global media to what is, after all, a fairly extraordinary evolution of events.

The media focus on -- well, media events. When Nixon went to China, the visit was deliberately framed as a massive media event. Both China and the United States wanted to emphasize the shift in alignment, to both the Soviet Union and their own publics. In this case, neither the United States nor Iran wants attention focused on this event. For Washington, aligning with a charter member of the "axis of evil" poses significant political problems; for Tehran, aligning with the "Great Satan" poses similar problems. Both want alignment, but neither wants to make it formal at this time, and neither wants to draw significant attention to it. For the media, the lack of a photo op means that nothing has happened. Therefore, except for low-key reporting by
some wire services, Khatami's statement has been generally
ignored, which is fine by Washington and Tehran. In fact, on the same day that Khatami made the statement, the news about Iran focused on the country's nuclear weapons program. We christen thee, stealth geopolitics.

Let's review the bidding here. When the United States invaded Iraq, the expectation was that the destruction of Iraq's conventional forces and the fall of Baghdad would end resistance.  It was expected that there would be random violence, some resistance and so forth, but there was no expectation that there would be an organized, sustained guerrilla war, pre-planned by the regime and launched almost immediately after the fall of Baghdad.

The United States felt that it had a free hand to shape and
govern Iraq as it saw fit. The great debate was over whether the Department of State or Defense would be in charge of Baghdad's water works. Washington was filled with all sorts of plans and planners who were going to redesign Iraq. The dream did not die easily or quickly: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was denying the existence of a guerrilla war in Iraq as late as early July, more than two months after it had begun. Essentially, Washington and reality diverged in May and June.

Fantasy was followed by a summer of paralysis. The United States had not prepared for a guerrilla war in Iraq, and it had no plan for fighting such a war. Search-and-destroy operations were attempted, but these never had a chance of working, since tactical intelligence against the guerrillas was virtually non-existent. All it did was stir up even more anti-American feeling than was already there. The fact was that the United States was not going to be in a position to put down a guerrilla war without allies: It had neither the manpower nor the intimate knowledge of the country and society needed to defeat even a small guerrilla
movement that was operating in its own, well-known terrain.

At the same time, for all its problems, the situation in Iraq was not nearly as desperate as it would appear. Most of the country was not involved in the guerrilla war. It was essentially confined to the Sunni Triangle -- a fraction of Iraq's territory -- and to the minority Sunni group. The majority of Iraqis, Shiites and Kurds, not only were not involved in the guerrilla movement but inherently opposed to it. Both communities had suffered greatly under the Baathist government, which was heavily Sunni. The last thing they wanted to see was a return of Saddam Hussein's rule.

However, being opposed to the guerrillas did not make the
Shiites, in particular, pro-American. They had their own
interests: The Shiites in Iraq wanted to control the post-Hussein government. Another era of Sunni control would have been disastrous for them. For the Shiites -- virtually regardless of faction -- taking control of Iraq was a priority.

It is not fair to say that Iran simply controlled the Iraqi
Shiites; there are historical tensions between the two groups. It is fair to say, however, that Iranian intelligence systematically penetrated and organized the Shiites during Hussein's rule and that Iran provided safe haven for many of Iraq's Shiite leaders. That means, obviously, that Tehran has tremendous and decisive influence in Iraq at this point - which means that the goals of Iraqi Shiites must coincide with Iranian national interests.

In this case, they do. Iran has a fundamental interest in a pro-
Iranian, or at least genuinely neutral, Iraq. The only way to
begin creating that is with a Shiite-controlled government. With a Shiite-controlled government, the traditional Iraqi threat disappears and Iran's national security is tremendously enhanced. But the logic goes further: Iraq is the natural balance to Iran -- and if Iraq is neutralized, Iran becomes the pre-eminent power in the Persian Gulf. Once the United States leaves the region -- and in due course, the United States will leave -- Iran will be in a position to dominate the region. No other power or combination of powers could block it without Iraqi support. Iran, therefore, has every reason to want to see an evolution that leads to a Shiite government in Iraq.

Washington now has an identical interest. The United States does not have the ability or appetite to suppress the Sunni rising in perpetuity, nor does it have an interest in doing so. The U.S. interest is in destroying al Qaeda. Washington therefore needs an ally that has an intrinsic interest in fighting the guerrilla war and the manpower to do it. That means the Iraqi Shiites -- and that means alignment with Iran.

Bremer's assignment is to speed the transfer of power to the IGC. In a formal sense, this is a genuine task, but in a practical sense, transferring power to the IGC means transferring it to the Shiites. Not only do they represent a majority within the IGC, but when it comes time to raise an Iraqi army to fight the guerrillas, that army is going to be predominantly Shiite. That is not only a demographic reality but a political one as well -- the Shiites will insist on dominating the new army. They are not going to permit a repeat of the Sunni domination. Therefore, Bremer's mission is to transfer sovereignty to the IGC, which means the transfer of sovereignty to the Shiites.

From this, the United States ultimately gets a force in Iraq to
fight the insurrection, the Iraqi Shiites get to run Iraq and the
Iranians secure their Western frontier. On a broader, strategic scale, the United States splits the Islamic world -- not down the middle, since Shiites are a minority -- but still splits it. Moreover, under these circumstances, the Iranians are motivated to fight al Qaeda (a movement they have never really liked anyway) and can lend their not-insignificant intelligence capabilities to the mix.

The last real outstanding issue is Iran's nuclear capability.
Iran obviously would love to be a nuclear power in addition to being a regional hegemon. That would be sweet. However, it isn't going to happen, and the Iranians know that. It won't happen because Israel cannot permit it to happen. Any country's politics are volatile, and Iran in ten years could wind up with a new government and with values that, from Israel's point of view, are dangerous. Combine that with nuclear weapons, and it could mean the annihilation of Israel. Therefore, Israel would destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities -- with nuclear strikes if necessary -- before they become operational.

To be more precise, Israel would threaten to destroy Iran's
capabilities, which would put the United States in a tough
position. An Israeli nuclear strike on Iran would be the last
thing Washington needs. Therefore, the United States would be forced to take out Iran's facilities with American assets in the region -- better a non-nuclear U.S. attack than an Israeli
nuclear attack. Thus, the United States is telling Iran that it
does not actually have the nuclear option it thinks it has. The
Iranians, for their part, are telling the United States that they
know Washington doesn't want a strike by either Israel or the U.S. forces.

That means that the Iranians are using their nuclear option to
extract maximum political concessions from the United States. It is in Tehran's interest to maximize the credibility of the country's nuclear program without crossing a line that would force an Israeli response and a pre-emptive move by the United States. The Iranians are doing that extremely skillfully. The United States, for its part, is managing the situation effectively as well. The nuclear issue is not the pivot.

The alignment represents a solution to both U.S. and Iranian
needs. However, in the long run, the Iranians are the major
winners. When it is all over, they get to dominate the Persian
Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula. That upsets the regional balance of power completely and is sending Saudi leaders into a panic.  The worst-case scenario for Saudi Arabia is, of course, an Iranian-dominated region. It is also not a great outcome for the United States, since it has no interest in any one power dominating the region either.

But the future is the future, and now is now. "Now" means the existence of a guerrilla war that the United States cannot fight on its own. This alignment solves that dilemma. We should remember that the United States has a history of improbable alliances that caused problems later. Consider the alliance with the Soviet Union in World War II that laid the groundwork for the Cold War: It solved one problem, then created another. The United States historically has worked that way.

Thus, Washington is not going to worry about the long run until later. But in the short run, the U.S.-Iranian alignment is the most important news since the Sept. 11 attacks. It represents a triumph of geopolitics over principle on both sides, which is what makes it work: Since both sides are betraying fundamental principles, neither side is about to call the other on it. They are partners in this from beginning to end.

What is fascinating is that this is unfolding without any secrecy whatsoever, yet is not being noticed by anyone. Since neither country is particularly proud of the deal, neither country is advertising it. And since it is not being advertised, the media are taking no notice. Quite impressive.


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« Reply #58 on: December 14, 2003, 05:26:07 PM »
Indications Saddam Was Not in Hiding But a Captive
Interesting take on things by Debka

DEBKAfile Special Report

December 14, 2003, 6:55 PM (GMT+02:00)

A number of questions are raised by the incredibly bedraggled, tired and
crushed condition of this once savage, dapper and pampered ruler who was discovered in a hole in the ground on Saturday, December 13:

1. The length and state of his hair indicated he had not seen a barber or
even had a shampoo for several weeks.

2. The wild state of his beard indicated he had not shaved for the same

3. The hole dug in the floor of a cellar in a farm compound near Tikrit was
primitive indeed - 6ft across and 8ft across with minimal sanitary
arrangements - a far cry from his opulent palaces.

4. Saddam looked beaten and hungry.

5. Detained with him were two unidentified men, two AK-47 assault guns and a pistol, none of which were used.

6. The hole had only one opening. It was not only camouflaged with mud and bricks - it was blocked. He could not have climbed out without someone on the outside removing the covering.

7. And most important, $750,000 in 100-dollar notes were found with him - but no communications equipment of any kind, whether cell phone or even a carrier pigeon for contacting the outside world.

According to DEBKAfile analysts, these seven anomalies point to one
conclusion: Saddam Hussein was not in hiding; he was a prisoner.

After his last audiotaped message was delivered and aired over al Arabiya TV on Sunday November 16, on the occasion of Ramadan, Saddam was seized, possibly with the connivance of his own men, and held in that hole in Adwar for three weeks or more, which would have accounted for his appearance and condition. Meanwhile, his captors bargained for the $25 m prize the Americans promised for information leading to his capture alive or dead. The negotiations were mediated by Jalal Talabani's Kurdish PUK militia.

These circumstances would explain the ex-ruler's docility - described by
Lt.Gen. Ricardo Sanchez as "resignation" - in the face of his capture by US forces. He must have regarded them as his rescuers and would have greeted them with relief.

From Gen. Sanchez's evasive answers to questions on the $25m bounty, it may be inferred that the Americans and Kurds took advantage of the negotiations with Saddam's abductors to move in close and capture him on their own account, for three reasons:

A. His capture had become a matter of national pride for the Americans. No kudos would have been attached to his handover by a local gang of
bounty-seekers or criminals. The country would have been swept anew with rumors that the big hero Saddam was again betrayed by the people he trusted, just as in the war.

B. It was vital to catch his kidnappers unawares so as to make sure Saddam was taken alive. They might well have killed him and demanded the prize for his body. But they made sure he had no means of taking his own life and may have kept him sedated.

C. During the weeks he is presumed to have been in captivity, guerrilla
activity declined markedly - especially in the Sunni Triangle towns of
Falluja, Ramadi and Balad - while surging outside this flashpoint region -
in Mosul in the north and Najef, Nasseriya and Hilla in the south. It was
important for the coalition to lay hands on him before the epicenter of the
violence turned back towards Baghdad and the center of the Sunni Triangle.

The next thing to watch now is not just where and when Saddam is brought to justice for countless crimes against his people and humanity - Sanchez said his interrogation will take "as long as it takes - but what happens to the insurgency. Will it escalate or gradually die down?

An answer to this, according to DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources, was
received in Washington nine days before Saddam reached US custody.

It came in the form of a disturbing piece of intelligence that the notorious
Lebanese terrorist and hostage-taker Imad Mughniyeh, who figures on the most wanted list of 22 men published by the FBI after 9/11, had arrived in southern Iraq and was organizing a new anti-US terror campaign to be launched in March-April 2004, marking the first year of the American invasion.

For the past 21 years, Mughniyeh has waged a war of terror against
Americans, whether on behalf of the Hizballah, the Iranian Shiite
fundamentalists, al Qaeda or for himself. The Lebanese arch-terrorist
represents for the anti-American forces in Iraq an ultimate weapon.

Saddam's capture will not turn this offensive aside; it may even bring it

For Israel, there are three lessons to be drawn from the dramatic turn of
events in Iraq:

First, An enemy must be pursued to the end and if necessary taken captive.   The Sharon government's conduct of an uncertain, wavering war against the Palestinian terror chief Yasser Arafat stands in stark contrast to the way the Americans have fought Saddam and his cohorts in Iraq and which has brought them impressive gains.

Second, Israel must join the US in bracing for the decisive round of
violence under preparation by Mughniyeh, an old common enemy from the days of Beirut in the 1980s. Only three weeks ago, DEBKAfile's military sources reveal, the terrorist mastermind himself was seen in south Lebanon in surveillance of northern Israel in the company of Iranian military officers. With this peril still to be fought, it is meaningless for Israelis to dicker over the Geneva Accord, unilateral steps around the Middle East road map, or even the defensive barrier.

Certain Israeli pundits and even politicians, influenced by opinion in
Europe, declared frequently in recent weeks that the Americans had no hope of capturing Saddam Hussein and were therefore bogged down irretrievably in Iraq. The inference was that the Americans erred in embarking on an unwinnable war in Iraq.

This was wide of the mark even before Saddam was brought in. The Americans are in firm control - even though they face a tough new adversary - and the whole purpose of the defeatist argument heard in Israel was to persuade the Sharon government that its position in relation to the Palestinians and Yasser Arafat is as hopeless as that of the Americans in Iraq.  Israel's only choice, according to this argument, is to knuckle under to Palestinian demands and give them what they want. Now that the Iraqi ruler is in American custody, they will have to think again.

LG Russ

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« Reply #59 on: December 16, 2003, 07:15:23 AM »
December 16, 2003
      Dreams and Glory

      Howard Dean is the only guy who goes to the Beverly Hills area for a
gravitas implant. He went to the St. Regis Hotel, a mile from Rodeo Drive,
to deliver a major foreign policy speech, and suddenly Dr. Angry turned into the Rev. Dull and Worthy.

      The guy who has been inveighing against the Iraq war as the second
coming of Vietnam spent his time talking about intelligence agency
coordination as if he had been suckled at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The guy who just a few days ago stood next to Al Gore as the former vice
president called Iraq the worst mistake in American history has suddenly
turned sober.

      Sure, he did get off a classic Deanism. He conceded that the capture
of Saddam had made American soldiers safer, but, unwilling to venture near
graciousness, he continued, "But the capture of Saddam has not made America

      Still, the speech was respectable and serious. Coming on the same day
as President Bush's hastily called news conference, it affords us the
opportunity to compare the two men's approaches to the war on terror.

      And indeed, there is one big difference. George Bush fundamentally
sees the war on terror as a moral and ideological confrontation between the
forces of democracy and the forces of tyranny. Howard Dean fundamentally
sees the war on terror as a law and order issue. At the end of his press
conference, Bush uttered a most un-Deanlike sentiment:

      "I believe, firmly believe ? and you've heard me say this a lot, and I
say it a lot because I truly believe it ? that freedom is the almighty God's
gift to every person ? every man and woman who lives in this world. That's
what I believe. And the arrest of Saddam Hussein changed the equation in
Iraq. Justice was being delivered to a man who defied that gift from the
Almighty to the people of Iraq."

      Bush believes that God has endowed all human beings with certain
inalienable rights, the most important of which is liberty. Every time he is
called upon to utter an unrehearsed thought, he speaks of the war on terror
as a conflict between those who seek to advance liberty to realize justice,
and those who oppose the advance of liberty: radical Islamists who fear
religious liberty, dictators who fear political liberty and reactionaries
who fear liberty for women.

      Furthermore, Bush believes the U.S. has a unique role to play in this
struggle to complete democracy's triumph over tyranny and so drain the swamp
of terror.

      Judging by his speech yesterday, Dean does not believe the U.S. has an
exceptional role to play in world history. Dean did not argue that the U.S.
should aggressively promote democracy in the Middle East and around the

      Instead, he emphasized that the U.S. should strive to strengthen
global institutions. He argued that the war on terror would be won when
international alliances worked together to choke off funds for terrorists
and enforce a global arms control regime to keep nuclear, chemical and
biological materials away from terror groups.

      Dean is not a modern-day Woodrow Wilson. He is not a mushy idealist
who dreams of a world government. Instead, he spoke of international
institutions as if they were big versions of the National Governors
Association, as places where pragmatic leaders can go to leverage their own
resources and solve problems.

      The world Dean described is largely devoid of grand conflicts or
moral, cultural and ideological divides. It is a world without passionate
nationalism, a world in which Europe and the United States are not riven by
any serious cultural differences, in which sensible people from around the
globe would find common solutions, if only Bush weren't so unilateral.

      At first, the Bush worldview seems far more airy-fairy and idealistic.
The man talks about God, and good versus evil. But in reality, Dean is the
more idealistic and na?ve one. Bush at least recognizes the existence of
intellectual and cultural conflict. He acknowledges that different value
systems are incompatible.

      In the world Dean describes, people, other than a few bizarre
terrorists, would be working together if not for Bush. In the Dean
worldview, all problems are matters of technique and negotiation.

      Dean tried yesterday to show how sober and serious he could be. In
fact, he has never appeared so much the dreamer, so clueless about the
intellectual and cultural divides that really do confront us and with which
real presidents have to grapple.


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« Reply #60 on: December 19, 2003, 12:11:45 AM »
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18 December 2003

by Dr. George Friedman

Saddam Hussein and the Dollar War


The capture of Saddam Hussein is an intelligence success for the
United States. It represents a massive effort to improve U.S.
intelligence capabilities in Iraq following a period of
intelligence failure. Hussein's capture, therefore, is important
not only in itself or in its implications for the guerrillas, but
also because it represents a massive and rapid improvement in
U.S. intelligence capabilities. It demonstrates that poor
intelligence is not inherent in U.S. guerrilla war-fighting; the
United States overcame it by identifying the central weaknesses
of its opponents. In this case, the central weakness was money --
and this was not only a financial weakness, but also a cultural


For once, the media have got it right. The capture of Saddam
Hussein is a major event in the war. Its importance does not rest
on whether he was in operational command of the guerrillas; he
wasn't. Nor does it hinge on whether his capture will destroy the
morale of the guerrillas; it won't. The importance of Hussein's
capture is that it happened at all: It signals a major
improvement in U.S. war-fighting capabilities in general and in
American intelligence in particular.

The greatest intelligence failure of the Iraq war did not concern
weapons of mass destruction. It concerned the failure of U.S.
intelligence to understand the Iraqi war plan, which in hindsight
was obvious. The Baathists knew the United States would rapidly
defeat Iraq's conventional forces. Therefore, they prepared a
follow-on plan that would begin after Baghdad was occupied. This
plan was a guerrilla war, manned by troops drawn from trusted
elite forces, with an installed infrastructure of arms caches,
safe houses and secure -- nonelectronic -- command and control
systems suitable for such a war.

The guerrilla war began within weeks of the fall of Baghdad in
April. U.S. intelligence about the war was so poor that until
late in June, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of
the administration were denying that the attacks on U.S. troops
were being staged by an organized force. They viewed them simply
as random attacks by unconnected dead-enders and criminals. It
was not until summer that the administration conceded that it was
facing a concerted guerrilla war.

Throughout the summer, the United States had trouble defining the
nature of the guerrilla force, let alone developing a coherent
picture of its order of battle or command structure. Therefore,
the United States, by definition, could neither engage nor defeat
the guerrillas. Washington remained in an entirely defensive
posture during this period; the guerrillas had the initiative.
There never was a danger that the guerrillas would actually
defeat the United States. Still, the continual drumbeat of
attacks and the U.S. forces' inability to launch effective
counterattacks created substantial political problems, as it was
intended to.

The problem for the United States was that the Iraqis understood
the strengths and weaknesses of U.S. intelligence. The United
States is extremely strong in technical means of intelligence,
including image and signal intelligence. The guerrillas avoided
electromagnetic communications and were difficult to distinguish
with aerial reconnaissance. They were essentially invisible to
the preferred U.S. intelligence methods.

Late in the summer, the United States began to increase its human
intelligence capability in Iraq substantially, particularly the
number of CIA officers on the ground. It began a systematic
program of penetrating the guerrillas. It was not an easy task:
Recruiting agents able to infiltrate the guerrilla ranks was hard
to do; getting them into the ranks was even harder. The
guerrillas understood that recruitment was a risk and relied upon
existing forces or recruited from well-known and reliable
reservoirs. The ranks of foreign jihadists who entered the
country also were difficult to penetrate. To add to the
complexity, they operated separately from the main force.

The guerrillas did have one major vulnerability: money. The
Baathist regime long ago lost its ideological -- and idealistic -
- foundations. It was an institution of self-interest in which
the leadership systematically enriched itself. It was a culture
of money and power, and that culture permeated the entire
structure of the Iraqi military, including the guerrilla forces
that continued to operate after the conventional force was
defeated. Indeed, the guerrillas substituted money for
recruitment. In many cases, they would pay people outside their
ranks to carry out attacks on U.S. troops as a supplement to
attacks by the main guerrilla force.

The culture of money made the guerrillas vulnerable in two ways.
First, they relied on support from an infrastructure fueled by
money. Whatever their ideology, they purchased cooperation with
money and intimidation. Second, much of the money the guerrillas
had was currency taken from Iraqi banks prior to the fall of
Baghdad. A great deal of it was in U.S. dollars, which continued
to have value, but most of it was in the currency of the old
regime. One of the earliest actions of the U.S. occupation forces
was to replace that currency. Over time, therefore, the resources
available to the guerrillas contracted.

The United States brought its financial resources into play,
purchasing information. As U.S. money surged into the system and
guerrilla money began to recede, the flow of information to the
United States increased dramatically. Obviously, much of the
information was useless or false, and it took U.S. intelligence
several months to tune the system sufficiently that operatives
could evaluate and act upon the intelligence. Over time, the very
corruption of the Baathist system was turned against it. Indeed,
it happened in a surprisingly short period, made possible by a
Baathist organization in which political loyalty and business
interests tied together so blatantly that reversals of loyalty
did not necessarily appear as betrayals.

This process was speeded up dramatically during the November
Ramadan offensive. This offensive, we now know, was a surge
operation rather than a sustained increase in operational tempo.
Two things happened during the Ramadan offensive: First, the
guerrillas increased their consumption of resources dramatically,
burning through men and money very quickly; second, the rapid
tempo of operations required the guerrillas to expose their
assets far more than in the past. Whereas previously a combat
team would attack, disperse and remain dispersed for an extended
period, the tempo of Ramadan required that the same team carry
out multiple attacks. This meant that they could not disperse and
therefore could be more readily identified. This led to a greater
number of prisoners and further opportunities to purchase

The United States moved from being almost blind during the summer
to having substantially penetrated the guerrillas by the end of
November. By that time, Washington had a clearer idea of the
guerrilla order of battle and command structure. It had created a
network of informants that was prepared to provide intelligence
to the Americans in exchange for money, amnesty and future

Hussein, therefore, was betrayed by the culture he created. He
was found with no radio -- no surprise, since the guerrillas
tried not to use them. Rather, he was found with his two most
important weapons: a pistol and $750,000 in cash. His pistol
could not possibly outfight the troops sent to capture him. He
did not have enough money to buy safety. The Americans had him
outgunned and outspent.

The importance of Hussein's capture is not only its symbolism --
although that certainly should not be underestimated. Its
importance is that it happened, that U.S. intelligence was able
to turn a debacle into a success by identifying the core weakness
of the enemy force and using it for the rapid penetration and
exploitation of the guerrilla infrastructure.

The guerrillas understand precisely what happened to Hussein:
Someone betrayed him for money. They also understand that even
though attacks on U.S. troops can be purchased for dollars, the
Americans have far more dollars than they do. That is why, in the
week prior to Hussein's capture, the guerrillas twice attacked
banks: They desperately needed to replenish their cash reserves.
In one case, they even went so far as to engage in a pitched
battle with U.S. armor, a battle they couldn't possibly win.

The threat to the guerrillas is snowballing betrayal. The
guerrillas must be increasingly paranoid. At the prices the
Americans are paying, the probability of betrayal is rising. As
this probability rises, paranoia not only eats away at the
guerrillas' effectiveness, it also raises the temptation to
betray. Better to betray than to be betrayed.

The guerrillas can arrest this process only by ruthlessly
punishing betrayers. If the people who betrayed Hussein can't be
identified -- or can't be publicly killed -- then the guerrillas'
impotence will become manifest and a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Indeed, as other insurgencies have controlled betrayal by public
retribution, the guerrillas, unable to compete financially, would
have to respond with a wave of public executions. However, with
each public execution, they would expose themselves to capture
and revenge.

The capture of Hussein, regardless of whether he commanded anyone
or knows anything, is critically important. It is inconceivable
that the guerrillas would want him captured, since it inevitably
hurts their credibility. Like him or not, he was theirs to
protect. Their inability to protect Hussein creates a massive
crisis of confidence among the Baathist guerrillas.

This does not mean the guerrilla movement in Iraq is dying. It
means that the leadership of the movement is going to shift away
from the Baathists who launched the guerrilla war to the mostly
foreign jihadists, who joined the war for very different motives.
These guerrillas are not motivated by money and are unlikely to
betray each other for cash. They fight because they believe --
and that makes it more difficult to penetrate their ranks.

At the same time, most of them are foreigners. They do not know
the country as well as the Baathists, they don't have family and
tribal connections there, and they don't have their own
infrastructure. They were separate from the Baathists, but relied
upon them for their support structure. If the Baathists are taken
down, the jihadists will fight on. However, just as they are less
vulnerable to money, they are less invisible than the Baathists.

The capture of Hussein does not, in other words, end the war.
However, the process that led to his capture is broader and more
subversive than simply the capture of the former president. It is
eating away at the infrastructure of the Baathist guerrillas. It
is possible for them to reverse this, but as their financial
resources decline, they will have to respond with brutal
suppression to betrayers. That might not do the trick.

Still, the war is far from over. Washington now faces a more
substantial challenge -- one that has proven difficult to
overcome in the broader war. It must penetrate the jihadists in
Iraq. Given the experience with al Qaeda, this might well prove

Stratfor is expanding!

Stratfor has an immediate opening for a Middle East analyst. In-
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« Reply #61 on: December 22, 2003, 11:30:59 PM »
U.S. Goes After Middle Eastern Weapons


The United States is turning its military successes in Iraq into
leverage for pressuring uncooperative regimes in the region.
Washington has cut a deal with Libya, has Iran's cooperation --
if not capitulation -- and will likely box in Syria in the short


Middle Eastern states long opposed to the United States are now
restructuring the foundations of their foreign policy. The
capture of Saddam Hussein did more than score a political, and
possibly military, U.S. victory in Iraq. It also gave Washington
the freedom to pursue its next agenda item for reshaping the
Middle East more to its liking, namely by removing any and all
threats by nonallied states -- or their militant allies -- by
weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Within one week, Iran and Libya agreed to allow snap inspections
by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA). At the same time, the U.S. Federal Bureau of
Investigation is reportedly interrogating a top Pakistani nuclear
scientist for links between the nuclear programs of Iran and
Pakistan. Syria -- another, lesser threat -- will likely be a
next target. Damascus is thought to have a chemical weapons
program only, but even that will be on the U.S. hit list.

Washington needs to ensure that none of the Muslim states it
still considers to be "states of concern" -- Iran, Libya and
Syria -- can or will provide al Qaeda with access to weapons of
mass destruction. Their promises not to aid al Qaeda will mean
little to Washington: Syrian President Bashar al Assad can pledge
cooperation until he is blue in the face, but the White House
cannot be sure that Assad will not topple through coup,
assassination or some other form of regime change, and therefore
it cannot accept verbal assurances. Instead, the United States
will now move to dismantle all WMD programs within these states.

Libya already has folded. Tripoli on Dec. 19 moved to pre-empt a
U.S. offensive by announcing that it would abandon its WMD
program and allow snap inspections. Libya knows what much of the
rest of the world is just now realizing -- the next phase in the
U.S. war against al Qaeda is ensuring that other potential
weapons aren't available for al Qaeda's taking.

Libya understood that if the United States were to gain control
over Iraq, the next goal would be to go after regional
governments that might ally with al Qaeda. Tripoli likely would
not side with the militant group at the risk of a fight with
Washington. From Washington's perspective, however, only complete
cooperation and full disclosure of the WMD program would be
acceptable evidence that Tripoli was not in cahoots with al

In exchange for full cooperation, Libya will likely get several
cookies -- most importantly, a lifting of U.S. sanctions.

The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act prevents U.S. energy firms from
investing in Libya. For that matter, no U.S. company can do
business there. Libya's energy industry was built with U.S.
technology -- now decades outdated. Reviving links with U.S.
energy firms is a top priority. Moreover, Libya already has taken
several other steps, such as backing off its Machiavellian
machinations in central Africa and paying off the families of
those killed in the Lockerbie bombing.

Iran is still in the game, playing a close hand of cooperation --
allowing inspections and "suspending" rather than ceasing its
nuclear program. Tehran has some pretty good cards. First, its
influence in Iraq -- especially among the southern Shia -- gives
it leverage. It also has a functioning, oil-fed economy, a
professional and experienced military, savvy political leadership
and possibly some invaluable intelligence on the leadership and
operations of al Qaeda.

Washington cannot pressure Iran too directly, so it has taken an
indirect approach. The Israelis, likely at the behest of
Washington, are threatening to blow up Iranian nuclear
facilities, since senior military officials claim that Iran's WMD
program poses the single greatest threat to Israeli national

Last week, Iran agreed to allow snap inspections by the IAEA.
Reports surfaced Dec. 22 that an instrumental figure in
developing Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, is
under house arrest. He is being interrogated, possibly by U.S.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, for connections between
Pakistan's nuclear program and Iran's. Tehran reportedly has
named several Pakistani scientists as aiding Iran's nuclear
program. FBI interviews, along with Pakistani cooperation, might
provide important details the United States later can use to
contain Iran.

For its part, Syria cannot even afford the ante. Damascus is
thought to have chemical and possibly biological weapons, but
certainly no nuclear program. With a tiny economy, limited
resources, a decrepit military and few powerful allies, Syria
will find it impossible to resist U.S. pressure. The United
States doesn't really expect Damascus to form an alliance with al
Qaeda. At the same time, it cannot and will not simply take
Syria's word. Instead, officials will ask for complete
cooperation on a number of issues, including inspections of
Syrian WMD facilities.

Washington is not likely to stop until it has all three states'
WMD programs under lock and key. What comes next will be the
critical issue. Containment of their WMD programs will strengthen
Israel's regional position, giving it more freedom to maneuver
openly in regional political matters. It also will give Israel
more freedom to impose peace agreements -- whether formal or de
facto -- on Syria and the Palestinians.

The weakening of Iran, Libya and Syria -- along with the U.S.
seizure of Iraq -- will also reshape regional dynamics. Algeria,
Morocco and even Egypt will have less to fear from Libya. Jordan
will see Syria as emasculated and, therefore, as less of a long-
term threat. Saudi Arabia is so embroiled in its own domestic
conflict that it cannot fully relax, even as Iran adjusts itself
into fuller alignment with United States.

Reconfiguring Libyan, Iranian and Syrian military postures,
however, still will resonate throughout the region. The political
ramifications also will be felt. Libyan leader Col. Moammar
Gadhafi's reversal after more than a decade of anti-American
rhetoric might strike a sour note within some Libyan circles.
Nearly everyone already perceives Bashar al Assad as weak --
internally and externally -- and totally dependent upon his
father's Old Guard cronies. Whether he can survive an escalation
in diplomatic conflict with the United States is unclear. Whether
he can survive a restructuring of Syria's fundamental political
and military position in the Middle East is unlikely.

For the United States, it is imperative to reconfigure the region
in order to fit its ideal. Defeating al Qaeda means, in large
part, preventing al Qaeda from finding any powerful allies or
powerful weapons in the region. Al Qaeda typically operates on a
low-tech basis and isn't likely to seek weapons of mass
destruction any more advanced than a Boeing 767. Still,
Washington cannot, and is not, taking the chance.


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Bin Laden Tape
« Reply #62 on: January 06, 2004, 10:10:21 AM »
Transcript: Latest Bin Laden Tape
            Jan 05, 2004

            The following is a transcript of a tape released Jan. 4,
purportedly by Osama bin Laden. The transcript was published by the BBC.

            From Osama Bin Laden to his brothers and sisters in the entire
Islamic nation: May God's peace, mercy and blessings be upon you.

            My message to you concerns inciting and continuing to urge for
jihad to repulse the grand plots that have been hatched against our nation, especially since some of them have appeared clearly, such as the occupation of the crusaders, with the help of the apostates, of Baghdad and the house of the caliphate [the succession of rulers of the Islamic nation], under the trick of weapons of mass destruction.

            There is also the fierce attempt to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque
and destroy the jihad and the mujahideen in beloved Palestine by employing the trick of the roadmap and the Geneva peace initiative.

            The Americans' intentions have also become clear in statements
about the need to change the beliefs, curricula and morals of the Muslims to
become more tolerant, as they put it.

            In clearer terms, it is a religious-economic war.

            The occupation of Iraq is a link in the Zionist-crusader chain
of evil.

            Gulf states 'next'

            Then comes the full occupation of the rest of the Gulf states to
set the stage for controlling and dominating the whole world.

            For the big powers believe that the Gulf and the Gulf states are
the key to controlling the world due to the presence of the largest oil
reserves there.

            O Muslims: The situation is serious and the misfortune is

            By God, I am keen on safeguarding your religion and your worldly life.

            So, lend me your ears and open up your hearts to me so that we
may examine these pitch-black misfortunes and so that we may consider how we can find a way out of these adversities and calamities.

            The West's occupation of our countries is old, yet new.

            The struggle between us and them, the confrontation, and
clashing began centuries ago, and will continue because the ground rules
regarding the fight between right and falsehood will remain valid until
Judgment Day.

            Take note of this ground rule regarding this fight. There can be
no dialogue with occupiers except through arms.

            This is what we need today, and what we should seek. Islamic
countries in the past century were not liberated from the crusaders'
military occupation except through jihad in the cause of God.

            Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, the West today is doing
its utmost to tarnish jihad and kill anyone seeking jihad.

            The West is supported in this endeavor by hypocrites.

            This is because they all know that jihad is the effective power
to foil all their conspiracies.

            Jihad is the path, so seek it.

            This is because if we seek to deter them with any means other
than Islam, we would be like the one who goes round in circles.

            We would also be like our forefathers, the al-Ghasasinah [Arab
people who lived in a state historically located in the north-west of the
Persian empire].

            The concern of their seniors was to be appointed officers for
the Romans and to be named kings in order to safeguard the interests of the Romans by killing their brothers of the peninsula's Arabs.

            Such is the case of the new al-Ghasasinah; namely, Arab rulers.

            Words of warning

            Muslims: If you do not punish them for their sins in Jerusalem
and Iraq, they shall defeat you because of your failure.

            They will also rob you of land of al-Haramain [Mecca and

            Today [they robbed you] of Baghdad and tomorrow they will rob
you of Riyadh and so forth unless God deems otherwise.

            Sufficient unto us is God.

            What then is the means to stop this tremendous onslaught?

            In such hard times, some reformers maintain that all popular and
official forces should unite and that all government forces should unite
with all their peoples.

            Everyone would do what is needed from him in order to ward off
this crusader-Zionist onslaught.

            The question strongly raised is: Are the governments in the
Islamic world capable of pursuing this duty of defending the faith and
nation and renouncing allegiance to the United States?

            The calls by some reformers are strange.

            They say that the path to righteousness and defending the
country and people passes though the doors of those rulers.

            I tell those reformers: If you have an excuse for not pursuing
jihad, it does not give you the right to depend on the unjust ones, thus
becoming responsible for your sins as well as the sins of those who you

            Fear God for your sake and for your nation's sake.

            God does not need your flattery of dictators for the sake of
God's religion.

            Arabs 'succumbed to US pressure'

            The Gulf states proved their total inability to resist the Iraqi

            They sought help from the crusaders, led by the United States,
as is well known.

            How can these states stand up to the United States?

            In short, these states came to America's help and backed it in
its attack against an Arab state which is bound to them with covenants of
joint defence agreements.

            These covenants were reiterated at the Arab League just a few
days before the US attack, only to violate them in full.

            This shows their positions on the nation's basic causes.

            These regimes wavered too much before taking a stand on using
force and attacking Iraq.

            At times they absolutely rejected participation and at other
times they linked this with UN agreement.

            Then they went back to their first option.

            In fact, the lack of participation was in line with the domestic
desire of these states.

            However, they finally submitted and succumbed to US pressure and opened their air, land and sea bases to contribute toward the US campaign, despite the immense repercussions of this move.

            Most important of these repercussions is that this is a sin
against one of the Islamic tenets.

            Saddam arrest

            Most important and dangerous in their view was that they feared
that the door would be open for bringing down dictatorial regimes by armed forces from abroad, especially after they had seen the arrest of their former comrade in treason and agentry to the United States when it ordered him to ignite the first Gulf war against Iran, which rebelled against it.

            The war consumed everything and plunged the area in a maze from which they have not emerged to this day.

            They are aware that their turn will come.

            They do not have the will to make the difficult decision to
confront the aggression, in addition to their belief that they do not
possess the material resources for that.

            Indeed, they were prevented from establishing a large military
force when they were forced to sign secret pledges and documents long ago.

            In short, the ruler who believes in some of the above-mentioned
deeds cannot defend the country.

            How can he do so if he believes in all of them and has done that
time and again?

            Those who believe in the principle of supporting the infidels
over Muslims and leave the blood, honor and property of their brothers to be available to their enemy in order to remain safe, claiming that they love their brothers but are being forced to take such a path - of course this compulsion cannot be regarded as legitimate - are in fact qualified to take the same course against one another in the Gulf states.

            Indeed, this principle is liable to be embraced within the same
state itself.

            Those who read and understood the history of kings throughout
history know that they are capable of committing more than these
concessions, except those who enjoyed the mercy of God.

            Indeed, the rulers have practically started to sell out the sons
of the land by pursuing and imprisoning them and by unjustly and wrongly
accusing them of becoming like the al-Khawarij sect who held Muslims to be infidels and by committing the excesses of killing them.

            We hold them to be martyrs and God will judge them.

            All of this happened before the Riyadh explosions in Rabi
al-Awwal of this year [around May, 2003].

            This campaign came within a drive to implement the US orders in
the hope that they will win its blessings.

            'Miserable situation'

            Based on the above, the extent of the real danger, which the
region in general and the Arabian Peninsula in particular, is being exposed
to, has appeared.

            It has become clear that the rulers are not qualified to apply
the religion and defend the Muslims.

            In fact, they have provided evidence that they are implementing
the schemes of the enemies of the nation and religion and that they are
qualified to abandon the countries and peoples.

            Now, after we have known the situation of the rulers, we should
examine the policy which they have been pursuing.

            Anyone who examines the policy of those rulers will easily see
that they follow their whims and desires and their personal interests and
crusader loyalties.

            Therefore, the flaw does not involve a secondary issue, such as
personal corruption that is confined to the palace of the ruler.

            The flaw is in the very approach.

            This happened when a malicious belief and destructive principle
spread in most walks of life, to the effect that absolute supremacy and
obedience were due to the ruler and not to the religion of God.

            In other countries, they have used the guise of parliaments and

            Thus, the situation of all Arab countries suffers from great
deterioration in all walks of life, in religious and worldly matters.

            We have reached this miserable situation because many of us lack the correct and comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam.

            Many of us understand Islam to mean performing some acts of
worship, such as prayer and fasting.

            Despite the great importance of these rituals, the religion of
Islam encompasses all the affairs of life, including religious and worldly
affairs, such as economic, military and political affairs, as well as the
scales by which we weigh the actions of men - rulers, ulema and others - and how to deal with the ruler in line with the rules set by God for him and
which the ruler should not violate.

            Therefore, it becomes clear to us that the solution lies in
adhering to the religion of God, by which God granted us pride in the past
centuries and installing a strong and faithful leadership that applies the
Koran among us and raises the true banner of jihad.

            The honest people who are concerned about this situation, such
as the ulema, leaders who are obeyed among their people, dignitaries,
notables and merchants should get together and meet in a safe place away from the shadow of these suppressive regimes and form a council for Ahl al-Hall wa al-Aqd [literally those who loose and bind; reference to honest, wise and righteous people who can appoint or remove a ruler in Islamic tradition] to fill the vacuum caused by the religious invalidation of these regimes and their mental deficiency.

            The right to appoint an imam [leader] is for the nation.

            The nation also has the right to make him correct his course if
he deviates from it and to remove him if he does something that warrants
this, such as apostasy and treason.

            This temporary council should be made up of the minimum number of available personnel, without [word indistinct] the rest of the nation, except what the religion allows in case of necessity, until the number is increased when the situation improves, God willing.

            Their policy should be based on the book of God [the Koran] and
the Sunna [tradition] of his Prophet [Muhammad], God's peace and blessings be upon him.

            They should start by directing the Muslims to the important
priorities at this critical stage and lead them to a safe haven, provided
that their top priority should be uniting opinions under the word of
monotheism and defending Islam and its people and countries and declaring a general mobilization in the nation to prepare for repulsing the raids of the Romans, which started in Iraq and no-one knows where they will end.

            God suffices us and he is the best supporter.

Copyright 2003 Strategic Forecasting LLC. All rights reserved.

Marc/Crafty:  The following analysis from Stratfor.  Signing up at is HIGHLY recommended.

Osama bin Laden purportedly has released a new tape via Al Jazeera, which the CIA rapidly and publicly affirmed to be authentic -- probably. It was an interesting tape. The tone was quite different from his other recordings: It focused much less on what al Qaeda would do to the United States and much more on the failure of Islamic states, particularly of Arab states in the Persian Gulf region, to resist the United States and rally to the Islamic cause.

The speaker claiming to be bin Laden said, " , , , "

The translation of this seems to be that even regimes that adhere to Islamic law -- like Saudi Arabia's -- miss the point when they focus only on ritual, important though that might be. They fail to focus on economic, military and political affairs, which are just as crucial for Islam. This is what has created the current miserable situation. Until there are changes in the Arabian Peninsula, the war that al Qaeda launched cannot be successful.

In many ways, this is an extraordinarily honest and revealing analysis of
the situation. Bin Laden knows that he has lost this round of the war. The
failure of the Islamic world to generate a genuine challenge to the United
States rests with the existing leadership of the Arab world and of the Gulf
States, all of whom ultimately collaborated with the United States. This has undermined all military actions in the region, particularly those in Iraq. There can be no progress until changes take place in the Arabian Peninsula.

If we take bin Laden's words seriously -- and they should always be taken
seriously -- it sounds as if he is saying that the war with the United
States must be put on hold, or severely limited, until after al Qaeda deals
with the political situation in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states. Put
differently, the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, triggered what al Qaeda hoped
for: a massive intervention in the Islamic world. However, that intervention did not trigger the next desired result: galvanizing the Islamic masses into forcing their governments to move into direct confrontation with the United States. To the contrary, after seeming to move in that direction, they reversed course and allied themselves with the United States. Now, al Qaeda must focus on changing the leadership in the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab world.

It follows from this that bin Laden is arguing that al Qaeda must back off
from its attempt to strike at the United States and focus its energies on
the more immediate task, the heart of which is overthrowing the Saudi
government. Two counterarguments can be made here. The first is that while this tape focused on the Arabian Peninsula, it did not explicitly abandon any threats made against the United States. Second, all of this may simply be cover for an attack on the United States.

On the other hand, bin Laden would be a fool not to realize that he is
losing this round and that there will be no second round unless he can force a change in the Arabian Peninsula. Drawing the United States into the Islamic world has had the opposite effect from what he was hoping; hitting the United States again would guarantee the permanent presence of U.S. power in the region, shoring up existing regimes. Hitting the United States again -- unless it was so hard that the United States would seek to withdraw -- would make very little sense.

Bin Laden's tapes tend to be fairly straightforward. In the past, he appears to have pretty much done what he said he was going to, and he does not seem to have used the publicly released recordings simply for disinformation. This tape could be different, but bin Laden knows two things: First, the United States is not going to change anything it is doing based on this tape, and second, the tape is going to have a very sobering effect on his followers and the Islamic world in general.

It is, therefore, hard to believe, but the conclusion that has to be drawn
is that al Qaeda does not think it can proceed without first fomenting a
revolution in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden also seems to be de-emphasizing
operations in the United States, since they cannot achieve al Qaeda's goals until after the situation in Saudi Arabia resolves itself. At the very
least, he is elevating operations on the Arabian Peninsula to the same level as in the United States -- assuming that al Qaeda has the resources to do both.
C-Bad Dog, Lakan Guro DBMA

LG Russ

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« Reply #63 on: January 06, 2004, 03:19:31 PM »
Geopolitical Diary: Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2004

Osama bin Laden purportedly has released a new tape via Al Jazeera, which
the CIA rapidly and publicly affirmed to be authentic -- probably. It was an
interesting tape. The tone was quite different from his other recordings: It
focused much less on what al Qaeda would do to the United States and much
more on the failure of Islamic states, particularly of Arab states in the
Persian Gulf region, to resist the United States and rally to the Islamic
The speaker claiming to be bin Laden said, "Thus, the situation of all Arab
countries suffers from great deterioration in all walks of life, in
religious and worldly matters. We have reached this miserable situation
because many of us lack the correct and comprehensive understanding of the
religion of Islam. Many of us understand Islam to mean performing some acts
of worship, such as prayer and fasting.
"Despite the great importance of these rituals, the religion of Islam
encompasses all the affairs of life, including religious and worldly
affairs, such as economic, military and political affairs, as well as the
scales by which we weigh the actions of men -- rulers, ulema and others --
and how to deal with the ruler in line with the rules set by God for him and
which the ruler should not violate. Therefore, it becomes clear to us that
the solution lies in adhering to the religion of God, by which God granted
us pride in the past centuries and installing a strong and faithful
leadership that applies the Koran among us and raises the true banner of

The translation of this seems to be that even regimes that adhere to Islamic
law -- like Saudi Arabia's -- miss the point when they focus only on ritual,
important though that might be. They fail to focus on economic, military and
political affairs, which are just as crucial for Islam. This is what has
created the current miserable situation. Until there are changes in the
Arabian Peninsula, the war that al Qaeda launched cannot be successful.

In many ways, this is an extraordinarily honest and revealing analysis of
the situation. Bin Laden knows that he has lost this round of the war. The
failure of the Islamic world to generate a genuine challenge to the United
States rests with the existing leadership of the Arab world and of the Gulf
States, all of whom ultimately collaborated with the United States. This has
undermined all military actions in the region, particularly those in Iraq.
There can be no progress until changes take place in the Arabian Peninsula.

If we take bin Laden's words seriously -- and they should always be taken
seriously -- it sounds as if he is saying that the war with the United
States must be put on hold, or severely limited, until after al Qaeda deals
with the political situation in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states. Put
differently, the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, triggered what al Qaeda hoped
for: a massive intervention in the Islamic world. However, that intervention
did not trigger the next desired result: galvanizing the Islamic masses into
forcing their governments to move into direct confrontation with the United
States. To the contrary, after seeming to move in that direction, they
reversed course and allied themselves with the United States. Now, al Qaeda
must focus on changing the leadership in the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab

It follows from this that bin Laden is arguing that al Qaeda must back off
from its attempt to strike at the United States and focus its energies on
the more immediate task, the heart of which is overthrowing the Saudi
government. Two counterarguments can be made here. The first is that while
this tape focused on the Arabian Peninsula, it did not explicitly abandon
any threats made against the United States. Second, all of this may simply
be cover for an attack on the United States.

On the other hand, bin Laden would be a fool not to realize that he is
losing this round and that there will be no second round unless he can force
a change in the Arabian Peninsula. Drawing the United States into the
Islamic world has had the opposite effect from what he was hoping; hitting
the United States again would guarantee the permanent presence of U.S. power
in the region, shoring up existing regimes. Hitting the United States
again -- unless it was so hard that the United States would seek to
withdraw -- would make very little sense.

Bin Laden's tapes tend to be fairly straightforward. In the past, he appears
to have pretty much done what he said he was going to, and he does not seem
to have used the publicly released recordings simply for disinformation.
This tape could be different, but bin Laden knows two things: First, the
United States is not going to change anything it is doing based on this
tape, and second, the tape is going to have a very sobering effect on his
followers and the Islamic world in general.

It is, therefore, hard to believe, but the conclusion that has to be drawn
is that al Qaeda does not think it can proceed without first fomenting a
revolution in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden also seems to be de-emphasizing
operations in the United States, since they cannot achieve al Qaeda's goals
until after the situation in Saudi Arabia resolves itself. At the very
least, he is elevating operations on the Arabian Peninsula to the same level
as in the United States -- assuming that al Qaeda has the resources to do


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« Reply #64 on: January 18, 2004, 02:59:57 PM »
all of you are morons


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« Reply #65 on: February 15, 2004, 11:51:08 AM »
Please feel free to send the Stratfor Weekly to a friend
or colleague.

13 February 2004

Pakistan Braces for the American Storm


Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has begun warning his
country that if it does not root out al Qaeda, the United States


As part of its self-declared "war on terrorism," the United
States has been involved in the Afghan theater of operations for
more than two years, since it succeeded in overthrowing the
Taliban government in late 2001 by employing a strategy heavily
dependent upon local allies. Since then, U.S. efforts have
followed a bifurcated path: maintaining some semblance of order
in Kabul -- where the "national" government resides -- and
bombing any concentrated pockets of resistance.

The strategy makes sense. Unlike the Soviet occupation of 1979-
1989, the United States is not attempting to control the entire
territory of Afghanistan. Split as it is by the Hindu Kush
mountains -- and a plethora of ethnic groups with little to no
sense of a shared history -- the country probably is not capable
of forming a unified state in the traditional sense. The least
violent existence that Afghanistan can hope for is probably to
have a very weak central government in which the various regional
capitals -- Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif -- exercise de facto
sovereign control.

The U.S. strategy, then, is geared toward maintaining the fiction
of a "united" Afghanistan, without providing any troops to
enforce central rule. The NATO-led International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) patrols only Kabul and the immediate
surrounding area, while various regional militias rule their
respective territories.

The strategy is not exactly brilliant, but -- considering
Afghanistan's history and geography -- it is probably one of the
few that could work. As a side effect, it leaves al Qaeda and its
sympathizers free to prowl largely where they will and conduct
hit-and-run nuisance attacks.

For al Qaeda, this is far from a happy state of affairs.
Afghanistan can no longer be used as a major training facility,
and the network has been funneling most of its fighters into
Iraq. A smaller presence in Afghanistan is a more vulnerable one,
so al Qaeda has done what any business would do under similar
circumstances: move.

The mountainous border region of the Afghan-Pakistani border
region is porous, relatively unguarded and home to the Pushtun
ethnic group that straddles national boundaries. Al Qaeda,
unhobbled by state loyalties, has most likely moved its core
personnel into this region, where it is more complicated for U.S.
forces to operate.

But more complicated does not mean impossible.

The Bush administration is looking for the end game. Al Qaeda has
proven unable to mount a major strike on U.S. targets since Sept.
11, 2001. The attacks that have occurred -- Casablanca, Bali, An
Najaf, Riyadh, etc. -- have been far less ambitious in scope,
carried out by affiliate groups and, most importantly, have not
touched the U.S. mainland. The next major push from the United
States will be an attempt to roll up al Qaeda's prime senior
members themselves.

As with all other major policy pushes in 2004, the White House
has its eye on domestic politics as well. Melting down al Qaeda
into a commemorative coin set to present to the American voter
just in time for Nov. 4 would, of course, be a nice touch from a
White House perspective. Doing that, however, means rolling into
Pakistan with a lot more than a disposable State Department
officer with snazzy shoes and a sharply worded demarche. Unlike
Afghanistan, Pakistan is a real country with a real army -- and
real nuclear weapons. Hence, at the highest levels, Washington
has been tightening the screws on Islamabad -- most recently
regarding the indiscretions of its nuclear development team.

Musharraf has received the none-too-subtle message, and this week
began preparing his country for the inevitable onslaught -- and
spurring it into action so that the United States might not need
to come calling with a whole division of troops when it comes.

In a Feb. 10 interview with the New York Times, Musharraf made it
clear that the onus of responsibility for the nuclear technology
leaks was on the CIA, which he said had not provided any proof
about the nuclear proliferation until quite recently. While the
primary message of "don't blame me or push me around" came
through loud and clear, there was also a secondary, more subtle,
message: "Show me proof and I'll act."

The buzz in Pakistan this week, at least according to the Daily
Times, is that CIA Director George Tenet paid Islamabad a secret
visit on Feb. 11. In short, Musharraf was preparing the public
for what sort of terms would be necessary for him to cater to
Washington's wishes, and Washington just might have provided the
appropriate information about al Qaeda's new digs in Pakistan.

That brings us to a more recent statement by Musharraf concerning
militant activity. Speaking at Pakistan's National Defense
College in Rawalpindi on Feb. 12, Musharraf said, "Certainly
everything [within Afghanistan] is not happening from Pakistan,
but certainly something is happening from Pakistan. Let us not
bluff ourselves. Now, whatever is happening from Pakistan must be
stopped and that is what we are trying to do."

On Feb. 10, Musharraf outlined what Washington would need to do
to get him to move. On Feb. 12, he made it clear to other power
brokers within Pakistan what needed to be done. Stratfor expects
a third, more direct, statement to tumble from Musharraf's lips
in the near future.

The issue now is simply one of timing. The Afghan-Pakistani
border currently is difficult to navigate: Mountains plus winter
equals no tanks. Once spring arrives, however, the United States
can roll in and -- in theory -- nab all the appropriate
personalities, just in time for the Democratic National
Convention in July. If the Bush administration can pull it off,
more Democrats than Howard Dean will be screaming.

The plan is not quite as neat as it seems. Northern Pakistan is
rugged territory, but people actually live there and like it.
Most are none too pleased with what the United States has been
doing across the border in Afghanistan of late. This region,
dubbed the Northwest Frontier Territories, is heavily Pushtun and
is rife with al Qaeda supporters. Rolling into it would not be

In the hopes of heading off what would likely be a bloody U.S.
intervention in Pakistan, Musharraf is trying to make the case
for a major Pakistani military offensive against al Qaeda and its
supporters in these tribal areas.

The Pakistani president is in quite an uncomfortable position,
attempting to balance his role as a trusted U.S. ally in the war
against militant Islamism, while leading a country where anti-
Americanism is at a fever pitch. Despite Musharraf's attempts to
proceed with caution, decisions resulting from the U.S. pressure
are critically injuring his domestic image.

Musharraf has long stressed that his government furnished the
United States with only minimal assistance in terms of logistical
support, intelligence-sharing and so forth, and that Pakistani
troops are not committed to campaigns outside the country. Both
Interior Minister Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat and Information
Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed routinely deny that U.S.
intelligence and military forces are engaged in any operations in
Pakistan against al Qaeda/Taliban suspects, particularly when
arrests are made or suspected militants are killed in shoot-outs.
Hayat and Ahmed have gone to lengths to underscore that Pakistani
forces are doing the actual work, while the United States is
merely providing intelligence and logistical support in the

U.S. troops conducting a large-scale operation inside Pakistan
would take away the Pakistanis' we're-doing-it-ourselves factor
and could well fracture the Pakistani military, not to mention
prompt a backlash from the public.

But Musharraf has no illusions about where he falls on the U.S.
priority list. If destroying al Qaeda once and for all means
losing the Pakistani president, well, the United States has
survived Pakistani regime changes before. Therefore, Musharraf
issued an oblique warning to his country that it needs to do a
housecleaning -- before the rat-a-tat of U.S. M16s is heard
across the Northwest Frontier.

It is unclear just how Musharraf will be able to muster the
support necessary for this latest step his government has had to
make in the wake of Sept. 11. Initial signs are promising. So far
jirgas (councils) of the Utmanzai and North Waziristani tribes
have decided to set up militias to hunt down foreign militants.
It is far too early to evaluate the tribes' seriousness -- much
less their success -- in the matter, but it is obvious that the
political dialogue has been sparked.

Islamabad does not have much time to get results. Warmer weather
soon will set in, and the ISAF already is taking over policing
duties in Afghanistan from U.S. forces, which will free up even
more U.S. forces for a counterinsurgency offensive, should
Islamabad fail to get the job done.


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« Reply #66 on: March 29, 2004, 11:41:40 AM »
An Essential War
Ousting Saddam was the only option.

Monday, March 29, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

We have struggled with terrorism for a long time. In the Reagan administration, I was a hawk on the subject. I said terrorism is a big problem, a different problem, and we have to take forceful action against it. Fortunately, Ronald Reagan agreed with me, but not many others did. (Don Rumsfeld was an outspoken exception.)

In those days we focused on how to defend against terrorism. We reinforced our embassies and increased our intelligence effort. We thought we made some progress. We established the legal basis for holding states responsible for using terrorists to attack Americans anywhere. Through intelligence, we did abort many potential terrorist acts. But we didn't really understand what motivated the terrorists or what they were out to do.

In the 1990s, the problem began to appear even more menacing. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were well known, but the nature of the terrorist threat was not yet comprehended and our efforts to combat it were ineffective. Diplomacy without much force was tried. Terrorism was regarded as a law enforcement problem and terrorists as criminals. Some were arrested and put on trial. Early last year, a judge finally allowed the verdict to stand for one of those convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Ten years! Terrorism is not a matter that can be left to law enforcement, with its deliberative process, built-in delays, and safeguards that may let the prisoner go free on procedural grounds.

Today, looking back on the past quarter century of terrorism, we can see that it is the method of choice of an extensive, internationally connected ideological movement dedicated to the destruction of our international system of cooperation and progress. We can see that the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 2001 destruction of the Twin Towers, the bombs on the trains in Madrid, and scores of other terrorist attacks in between and in many countries, were carried out by one part or another of this movement. And the movement is connected to states that develop awesome weaponry, with some of it, or with expertise, for sale.

What should we do? First and foremost, shore up the state system.

The world has worked for three centuries with the sovereign state as the basic operating entity, presumably accountable to its citizens and responsible for their well-being. In this system, states also interact with each other--bilaterally or multilaterally--to accomplish ends that transcend their borders. They create international organizations to serve their ends, not govern them.

Increasingly, the state system has been eroding. Terrorists have exploited this weakness by burrowing into the state system in order to attack it. While the state system weakens, no replacement is in sight that can perform the essential functions of establishing an orderly and lawful society, protecting essential freedoms, providing a framework for fruitful economic activity, contributing to effective international cooperation, and providing for the common defense.

I see our great task as restoring the vitality of the state system within the framework of a world of opportunity, and with aspirations for a world of states that recognize accountability for human freedom and dignity.
All established states should stand up to their responsibilities in the fight against our common enemy, terror; be a helpful partner in economic and political development; and take care that international organizations work for their member states, not the other way around. When they do, they deserve respect and help to make them work successfully.

The civilized world has a common stake in defeating the terrorists. We now call this what it is: a War on Terrorism. In war, you have to act on both offense and defense. You have to hit the enemy before the enemy hits you. The diplomacy of incentives, containment, deterrence and prevention are all made more effective by the demonstrated possibility of forceful pre-emption. Strength and diplomacy go together. They are not alternatives; they are complements. You work diplomacy and strength together on a grand and strategic scale and on an operational and tactical level. But if you deny yourself the option of forceful pre-emption, you diminish the effectiveness of your diplomatic moves. And, with the consequences of a terrorist attack as hideous as they are--witness what just happened in Madrid--the U.S. must be ready to pre-empt identified threats. And not at the last moment, when an attack is imminent and more difficult to stop, but before the terrorist gets in position to do irreparable harm.

Over the last decade we have seen large areas of the world where there is no longer any state authority at all, an ideal environment for terrorists to plan and train. In the early 1990s we came to realize the significance of a "failed state." Earlier, people allowed themselves to think that, for example, an African colony could gain its independence, be admitted to the U.N. as a member state, and thereafter remain a sovereign state. Then came Somalia. All government disappeared. No more sovereignty, no more state. The same was true in Afghanistan. And who took over? Islamic extremists. They soon made it clear that they regarded the concept of the state as an abomination. To them, the very idea of "the state" was un-Islamic. They talked about reviving traditional forms of pan-Islamic rule with no place for the state. They were fundamentally, and violently, opposed to the way the world works, to the international state system.

The United States launched a military campaign to eliminate the Taliban and al Qaeda's rule over Afghanistan. Now we and our allies are trying to help Afghanistan become a real state again and a viable member of the international state system. Yet there are many other parts of the world where state authority has collapsed or, within some states, large areas where the state's authority does not run.

That's one area of danger: places where the state has vanished. A second area of danger is found in places where the state has been taken over by criminals or warlords. Saddam Hussein was one example. Kim Jong Il of North Korea is another.

They seize control of state power and use that power to enhance their wealth, consolidate their rule and develop their weaponry. As they do this, and as they violate the laws and principles of the international system, they at the same time claim its privileges and immunities, such as the principle of non-intervention into the internal affairs of a legitimate sovereign state. For decades these thugs have gotten away with it. And the leading nations of the world have let them get away with it.

This is why the case of Saddam Hussein and Iraq is so significant. After Saddam Hussein consolidated power, he started a war against one of his neighbors, Iran, and in the course of that war he committed war crimes including the use of chemical weapons, even against his own people.

About 10 years later he started another war against another one of his neighbors, Kuwait. In the course of doing so he committed war crimes. He took hostages. He launched missiles against a third and then a fourth country in the region.

That war was unique in modern times because Saddam totally eradicated another state, and turned it into "Province 19" of Iraq. The aggressors in wars might typically seize some territory, or occupy the defeated country, or install a puppet regime; but Saddam sought to wipe out the defeated state, to erase Kuwait from the map of the world.

That got the world's attention. That's why, at the U.N., the votes were wholly in favor of a U.S.-led military operation--Desert Storm--to throw Saddam out of Kuwait and to restore Kuwait to its place as a legitimate state in the international system. There was virtually universal recognition that those responsible for the international system of states could not let a state simply be rubbed out.

When Saddam was defeated, in 1991, a cease-fire was put in place. Then the U.N. Security Council decided that, in order to prevent him from continuing to start wars and commit crimes against his own people, he must give up his arsenal of "weapons of mass destruction."

Recall the way it was to work. If Saddam cooperated with U.N. inspectors and produced his weapons and facilitated their destruction, then the cease-fire would be transformed into a peace agreement ending the state of war between the international system and Iraq. But if Saddam did not cooperate, and materially breached his obligations regarding his weapons of mass destruction, then the original U.N. Security Council authorization for the use of "all necessary force" against Iraq--an authorization that at the end of Desert Storm had been suspended but not cancelled--would be reactivated and Saddam would face another round of the U.S.-led military action against him. Saddam agreed to this arrangement.

In the early 1990s, U.N. inspectors found plenty of materials in the category of weapons of mass destruction and they dismantled a lot of it. They kept on finding such weapons, but as the presence of force declined, Saddam's cooperation declined. He began to play games and to obstruct the inspection effort.

By 1998 the situation was untenable. Saddam had made inspections impossible. President Clinton, in February 1998, declared that Saddam would have to comply with the U.N. resolutions or face American military force. Kofi Annan flew to Baghdad and returned with a new promise of cooperation from Saddam. But Saddam did not cooperate. Congress then passed the Iraq Liberation Act by a vote of 360 to 38 in the House of Representatives; the Senate gave its unanimous consent. Signed into law on October 31, it supported the renewed use of force against Saddam with the objective of changing the regime. By this time, he had openly and utterly rejected the inspections and the U.N. resolutions.

In November 1998, the Security Council passed a resolution declaring Saddam to be in "flagrant violation" of all resolutions going back to 1991. That meant that the cease-fire was terminated and the original authorization for the use of force against Saddam was reactivated. President Clinton ordered American forces into action in December 1998.

But the U.S. military operation was called off after only four days--apparently because President Clinton did not feel able to lead the country in war at a time when he was facing impeachment.

So inspections stopped. The U.S. ceased to take the lead. But the inspectors reported that as of the end of 1998 Saddam possessed major quantities of WMDs across a range of categories, and particularly in chemical and biological weapons and the means of delivering them by missiles. All the intelligence services of the world agreed on this.

From that time until late last year, Saddam was left undisturbed to do what he wished with this arsenal of weapons. The international system had given up its ability to monitor and deal with this threat. All through the years between 1998 and 2002 Saddam continued to act and speak and to rule Iraq as a rogue state.

President Bush made it clear by 2002, and against the background of 9/11, that Saddam must be brought into compliance. It was obvious that the world could not leave this situation as it was. The U.S. made the decision to continue to work within the scope of the Security Council resolutions--a long line of them--to deal with Saddam. After an extended and excruciating diplomatic effort, the Security Council late in 2002 passed Resolution 1441, which gave Saddam one final chance to comply or face military force. When on December 8, 2002, Iraq produced its required report, it was clear that Saddam was continuing to play games and to reject his obligations under international law. His report, thousands of pages long, did not in any way account for the remaining weapons of mass destruction that the U.N. inspectors had reported to be in existence as of the end of 1998. That assessment was widely agreed upon.

That should have been that. But the debate at the U.N. went on--and on. And as it went on it deteriorated. Instead of the focus being kept on Iraq and Saddam, France induced others to regard the problem as one of restraining the U.S.--a position that seemed to emerge from France's aspirations for greater influence in Europe and elsewhere. By March of 2003 it was clear that French diplomacy had resulted in splitting NATO, the European Union, and the Security Council . . . and probably convincing Saddam that he would not face the use of force. The French position, in effect, was to say that Saddam had begun to show signs of cooperation with the U.N. resolutions because more than 200,000 American troops were poised on Iraq's borders ready to strike him; so the U.S. should just keep its troops poised there for an indeterminate time to come, until presumably France would instruct us that we could either withdraw or go into action. This of course was impossible militarily, politically, and financially.

Where do we stand now? These key points need to be understood:

? There has never been a clearer case of a rogue state using its privileges of statehood to advance its dictator's interests in ways that defy and endanger the international state system.

? The international legal case against Saddam--17 resolutions--was unprecedented.

? The intelligence services of all involved nations and the U.N. inspectors over more than a decade all agreed that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to international peace and security.

? Saddam had four undisturbed years to augment, conceal, disperse, or otherwise deal with his arsenal.

? He used every means to avoid cooperating or explaining what he has done with them. This refusal in itself was, under the U.N. resolutions, adequate grounds for resuming the military operation against him that had been put in abeyance in 1991 pending his compliance.

? President Bush, in ordering U.S. forces into action, stated that we were doing so under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687, the original bases for military action against Saddam Hussein in 1991. Those who criticize the U.S. for unilateralism should recognize that no nation in the history of the United Nations has ever engaged in such a sustained and committed multilateral diplomatic effort to adhere to the principles of international law and international organization within the international system. In the end, it was the U.S. that upheld and acted in accordance with the U.N. resolutions on Iraq, not those on the Security Council who tried to stop us.

The question of weapons of mass destruction is just that: a question that remains to be answered, a mystery that must be solved. Just as we also must solve the mystery of how Libya and Iran developed menacing nuclear capability without detection, of how we were caught unaware of a large and flourishing black market in nuclear material--and of how we discovered these developments before they got completely out of hand and have put in place promising corrective processes. The question of Iraq's presumed stockpile of weapons will be answered, but that answer, however it comes out, will not affect the fully justifiable and necessary action that the coalition has undertaken to bring an end to Saddam Hussein's rule over Iraq. As Dr. David Kay put it in a Feb. 1 interview with Chris Wallace, "We know there were terrorist groups in state still seeking WMD capability. Iraq, although I found no weapons, had tremendous capabilities in this area. A marketplace phenomena was about to occur, if it did not occur; sellers meeting buyers. And I think that would have been very dangerous if the war had not intervened."
When asked by Mr. Wallace what the sellers could have sold if they didn't have actual weapons, Mr. Kay said: "The knowledge of how to make them, the knowledge of how to make small amounts, which is, after all, mostly what terrorists want. They don't want battlefield amounts of weapons. No, Iraq remained a very dangerous place in terms of WMD capabilities, even though we found no large stockpiles of weapons."

Above all, and in the long run, the most important aspect of the Iraq war will be what it means for the integrity of the international system and for the effort to deal effectively with terrorism. The stakes are huge and the terrorists know that as well as we do. That is the reason for their tactic of violence in Iraq. And that is why, for us and for our allies, failure is not an option. The message is that the U.S. and others in the world who recognize the need to sustain our international system will no longer quietly acquiesce in the take-over of states by lawless dictators who then carry on their depredations--including the development of awesome weapons for threats, use, or sale--behind the shield of protection that statehood provides. If you are one of these criminals in charge of a state, you no longer should expect to be allowed to be inside the system at the same time that you are a deadly enemy of it.

Sept. 11 forced us to comprehend the extent and danger of the challenge. We began to act before our enemy was able to extend and consolidate his network.

If we put this in terms of World War II, we are now sometime around 1937. In the 1930s, the world failed to do what it needed to do to head off a world war. Appeasement never works. Today we are in action. We must not flinch. With a powerful interplay of strength and diplomacy, we can win this war.

Mr. Shultz, a former secretary of state, is a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. This is adapted from his Kissinger Lecture, given recently at the Library of Congress.


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« Reply #67 on: April 09, 2004, 12:00:40 AM »
Please feel free to send the Stratfor Weekly to a friend
or colleague.

08 April 2004

Gaming Out Iraq


The United States is involved in its greatest military crisis
since the fall of Baghdad a year ago. This is the convergence of
two separate processes. The first is the apparent re-emergence of
the Sunni guerrillas west of Baghdad; the second is a split in
the Shiite community and an internal struggle that has targeted
the United States. In the worst-case scenario, these events could
have a disastrous outcome for the United States, but there are
reasons to think that the worst case is not the most likely at
this point.


The United States is experiencing its greatest military crisis in
Iraq since the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003. On the one hand,
the Sunni guerrillas that the United States appeared to have
defeated after the Ramadan offensive of October and November 2003
have not been destroyed. Although their role in triggering the
March 31 attack against U.S. civilian contractors in Al Fallujah
is an open question, they have benefited politically from the
U.S. cordon around the city and have taken shots at distracted
U.S. forces in the area, such as the U.S. Marines in Ar Ramadi.
On the other hand, a Shiite militia led by young cleric Moqtada
al-Sadr has launched an offensive in Baghdad and in a number of
cities in Iraq's south. U.S. intelligence expected none of this;
L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, had scheduled a
trip to Washington that he had to cancel hurriedly.

The offensives appear to challenge two fundamental strategic
assumptions that were made by U.S. planners. The first was that,
due to penetrations by U.S. intelligence, the Sunni insurgency
was deteriorating and would not restart. The second, much more
important assumption was that the United States had a strategic
understanding with the Shiite leadership that it would contain
anti-American military action south of Baghdad, and that -- and
this is critical -- they would under no circumstances collaborate
with the Sunnis.

It now appears that these basic premises are being rendered

Obviously, the Sunni guerrillas are still around, at least in the
Al Fallujah-Ar Ramadi corridor. U.S. efforts in that area of the
Sunni Triangle are aimed at finding those responsible for the
deaths and subsequent public mutilation of four U.S. civilian
contractors March 31. Current U.S. operations might be in
offensive mode -- suggesting that the Baathist guerrillas have
yet to fully regroup -- but as the siege of Al Fallujah drags on,
the potential grows for the insurgency to acquire sympathetic
recruits. Equally obviously, some of the Shia have taken up arms
against the United States, spreading the war to the region south
of Iraq. Finally, there are some reports of Sunni-Shiite
collaboration in the Baghdad area.

We might add that the outbreak west of Baghdad and the uprising
in the south could have been coincidental, but if so, it was one
amazing coincidence. Not liking coincidences ourselves -- and
fully understanding the contingent events that led to al-Sadr's
decision to strike -- we have to wonder about the degree to which
the events of the past week or so were planned.

If current trends accelerate, the United States faces a serious
military challenge that could lead to disaster. The United States
does not have the forces necessary to put down a broad-based
Shiite rising and crush the Sunni rebellion as well. Even the
current geography of the rising is beyond the capabilities of
existing deployments or any practicable number of additional
forces that might be made available. The United States is already
withdrawing from some cities. The logical outcome of all of this
would be an enclave strategy, in which the United States
concentrates its forces -- in a series of fortified locations --
perhaps excluding Iraqi nationals -- and leaves the rest of the
country to the guerrillas. That, of course, would raise the
question of why the United States should bother to remain in
Iraq, since those forces would not be able to exert effective
force either inside the country or beyond its borders.

That would force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The consequences of
such a withdrawal would be catastrophic for the U.S. grand
strategy in the war against militant Islamists. One of the
purposes of the war was to disprove al Qaeda's assertion that the
United States was actually militarily weak and that it could not
engage in close combat in the Islamist world, certainly not in
the face of a mass uprising. An American withdrawal would prove
al Qaeda's claims and would energize Islamists not only with
hatred of the United States, but also -- and worse -- with
contempt for American power. It would create the worst of all
possible worlds for the United States.

It follows that the United States is going to do everything it
can to abort this process.

It also might well be that the process -- as we have laid it out
-- is faulty. The uprising in the Al Fallujah-Ar Ramadi corridor
might have peaked already. The al-Sadr rising perhaps does not
represent a reversal of Shiite strategic orientation, but is
primarily a self-contained, internal event about al-Sadr's
relationship with other Shiite clergy. The reports of
collaboration between Shia and Sunnis could be false or represent
a small set of cases.

These are the issues on which the conflict and the future of the
U.S. presence in Iraq turn. It is the hope of the guerrillas --
Sunni and Shiite -- to create a situation that compels a U.S.
withdrawal, either from the country or into fortified enclaves;
it is obviously the intention of the United States to prevent

The Sunni Threat

The Sunni part of the equation is the least threatening. If Sunni
guerrillas have managed to regroup, it is disturbing that U.S.
intelligence was unable to prevent the reorganization. But there
is a very real silver lining in this: One of the ways the
guerrillas might have been able to regroup without being detected
was by doing it on a relatively small scale, limiting their
organization to hundreds or even dozens of members.

Certainly, they have many more sympathizers than that, but a
careful distinction must be drawn -- and is not being drawn by
the media -- between sympathizers and guerrillas. Sympathizers
can riot -- they can even generate an intifada -- but that is not
the same as conducting guerrilla war. Guerrillas need a degree of
training, weapons and organization.

The paradox of guerrilla war is that the more successful a
guerrilla offensive, the more it opens the guerrillas to
counteraction by the enemy. In order to attack, they must
communicate, come out of hiding and converge on the target. At
that moment, they can be destroyed and -- more important --
captured. Throwing a large percentage of a guerrilla force into
an attack either breaks the enemy or turns into a guerrilla

The U.S. Marines west of Baghdad are not about to be broken.
Therefore, if our assumption about the relative size of the
guerrilla force and the high percentage that have been thrown
into this operation is correct, this force will not be able to
sustain the current level of operations much longer. If the
guerrilla force is large enough to sustain such operations, then
the U.S. intelligence failure is so huge as to be difficult to
comprehend. Protests and riots are problems and create a strain
on resources, but they do not fundamentally affect the ability of
the United States to remain engaged in Iraq.

The Shiite Threat

It is not the Sunni offensive that represents a threat, it is the
Shia. The question is simple: Does al-Sadr's rising represent a
fundamental shift in the Shiite community as a whole, or is it
simply a small faction of the Shia that has risen? The U.S.
command in Iraq has argued that al-Sadr represents a marginal
movement, at odds with the dominant Shiite leadership, lashing
out in a desperate attempt to change the internal dynamics of the
Shiite community.

For this analysis to be correct, a single fact must be true: Ali
al-Sistani, the grand ayatollah of the Iraqi Shia, is not only
opposed to al-Sadr, but also remains committed to carrying out
his basic bargain with the United States. If that is true, then
all will be well for the Americans in the end. If it is wrong,
then the worst-case scenarios have to be taken seriously.

The majority Iraqi Shiite population suffered greatly under the
regime of Saddam Hussein, which was dominated by the Sunni
minority. After the fall of Hussein, the Shia's primary interest
was in guaranteeing not only that a Sunni government would not
re-emerge, but also that the future of Iraq would be in the hands
of the Shia. This interest was shared by the Shia in Iran, who
also wanted to see a Shiite government emerge in order to secure
Iran's frontier from its historical enemy, Iraq.

The first U.S. impulse after the fall of Baghdad was that
Americans would govern Iraq indefinitely, on their terms -- and
without compromising with Iranian sympathizers. That plan was
blown out of the water by the unexpected emergence of a Sunni
guerrilla force. The United States needed indigenous help. Even
more than help, it needed guarantees that the Shia would not rise
up and render the U.S. presence in Iraq untenable.

The United States and the Shiite elites -- Iranian and Iraqi --
reached an accommodation: The United States guaranteed the Shia a
democratic government, which meant that the majority Shia would
dominate -- and the Shia maintained the peace in the south. They
did not so much collaborate with the Americans as maintain a
peace that permitted the United States to deal with the Sunnis.
The end state of all of this was to be a Shiite government that
would permit some level of U.S. forces to remain indefinitely in

As the Sunni rising subsided, the United States felt a decreased
dependency on the Shia. The transitional Iraqi government that is
slated to take power June 30 would not be an elected government,
but rather a complex coalition of groups -- including Shia, Kurds
and Sunnis, as well as small ethnic groups -- that would be
constituted so as to give all the players a say in the future. In
other words, the Shia would not get a Shiite-dominated government
June 30.

It was for this reason that al-Sistani began to agitate for
direct elections. He knew that the Shia would win that election
and that this was the surest path to direct Shiite power.
Washington argued there was not enough time for direct elections
-- a claim that was probably true -- but which the Shia saw as
the United States backpedaling on fundamental agreements. The
jury-rigged system the Americans wanted in place for a year would
give the Sunnis a chance to recover -- not the sort of recovery
the Shia wanted to see. Moreover, the Shia observed the quiet
romance between the United States and some key Sunni tribal
leaders after the capture of Hussein, and their distrust of long-
term U.S. motives grew.

Al-Sistani made it clear that he did not trust the transitional
plan and that he did not believe it protected Shiite interests or
represented American promises. The United States treated al-
Sistani with courtesy and respect but made it clear that it was
not planning to change its position.

In the meantime, a sea change had taken place in Iranian
politics, with a conservative government driving the would-be
reformers out of power. The conservatives did not object to the
deal with the United States, but they wanted to be certain that
the United States did not for a moment believe that the Iranians
were acting out of weakness. The continual hammering by the
United States on the nuclear issue with Iran convinced the
Iranians that the Washington did not fully appreciate the
position it was in.

As Iranian Expediency Council chief and former President Ali
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani bluntly put it Feb. 24: "They continue
to send us threatening messages and continue to raise the four
questions," referring to Washington's concerns about Iran's
nuclear program, opposition to the Middle East peace process,
alleged support of militant groups and human rights. "But they
are stuck in the mud in Iraq, and they know that if Iran wanted
to, it could make their problems even worse."

Al-Sistani did not want the June 30 transition to go forward on
U.S. terms. The Iranians did not want the United States to think
it had Iran on the defensive. A confrontation with the United
States under these circumstances was precisely what was in both
al-Sistani and Iran's interests. Both wanted to drive home to the
Americans that they held power in Iraq and that the United States
was there at the sufferance of the Shia. The United States had
forgotten its sense of desperation during the Sunni Ramadan
offensive, and the Shia needed to remind them -- but they needed
to do so without a rupture with Washington, which was, after all,
instrumental to their long-term plans.

Al-Sadr was the perfect instrument. He was dangerous, deniable
and manageable. U.S. officials have expressed surprise that al-
Sadr -- who they did not regard highly -- was able to create such
havoc. Obviously, al-Sistani could have dealt with al-Sadr if and
when he wished. But for the moment, al-Sistani didn't wish. He
wanted to show the Americans the abyss they faced if they
continued on the path to June 30 without modifying the plan.

The Americans have said al-Sistani has not been helpful in this
crisis. He is not ready to be helpful and won't be until a more
suitable understanding is reached with the United States. He will
act in due course because it is not in al-Sistani's interests to
allow al-Sadr to become too strong. Quite the contrary: Al-
Sistani runs the risk that the situation will get so far out of
hand that he will not be able to control it either. But al-
Sistani is too strong for al-Sadr to undermine, and al-Sadr is,
in fact, al-Sistani's pawn. Perhaps more precisely, al-Sadr is
al-Sistani's ace in the hole. Having played him, al-Sistani will
be as interested in liquidating al-Sadr's movement as the United
States is -- once Washington has modified its plans for a postwar

The worst-case scenario is not likely to happen. The Sunni
guerrillas are not a long-term threat. The Shia are a long-term
threat, but their interests are not in war with the United
States, but in achieving a Shiite-dominated Iraqi state as
quickly as possible -- without giving the United States an
opportunity to double-cross them. Al-Sistani demanded elections
and didn't get them. What he really wants is a different
transition process that gives the Shia more power. After the past
week, he is likely to get it. And Washington will not soon forget
who controls Iraq.

This will pass. But the strategic reality of the U.S. forces in
Iraq is permanent. Those forces are there because of the
sufferance of the Iraqi Shia. The Shia know it, and they want the
Americans to know it. With Washington planning an offensive in
Pakistan, the last thing it needs is to pump more forces into
Iraq. In due course, al-Sistani will become helpful, but the
price will be even higher than before.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


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« Reply #68 on: April 13, 2004, 05:23:50 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: Tuesday, April 13, 2004

A tenuous cease-fire between U.S. forces and Sunni militants in Al Fallujah more or less held April 12, and Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army pulled out of police stations in An Najaf, Karbala and Kufa. The slight reduction in clashes resulted from a series of bilateral negotiations -- arranged by members of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) and other civic and religious organizations -- between the coalition forces and various Sunni and Shiite factions in Iraq.

For the United States, the respite is welcome after a week of intense
clashes across the country that appeared to be headed toward plunging the U.S. Iraq strategy into an abyss. But short-term solutions to the recently intensified fighting could have longer-term repercussions for U.S.
strategy -- an uncertainty Washington appears more willing to live with than the near certainty of chaos that was evolving last week.

For Washington, sending a clear, strong message to the militants in Al
Fallujah took a back seat to dealing with the rising of Shiite forces under
the leadership of al-Sadr. U.S. Marines last week surrounded Al Fallujah and were prepared to hunt down and kill those responsible for the late March deaths and mutilations of four U.S. civilian contractors. The message was to be clear and unmistakable: Such actions were unacceptable and anyone participating in them -- or sheltering those who participated -- would be punished to the maximum.

Just before U.S. forces moved into the city, clashes erupted elsewhere in
Iraq between al-Sadr's Mehdi Army and coalition forces. While the Al
Fallujah operation began, it was with a wary eye toward the larger threat of an apparent uprising among the Shia. In both cases, the U.S. military -- restricted by existing troop deployments and rules of engagement calling for minimal civilian casualties -- decided to call cease-fires and negotiate.

As Stratfor mentioned previously, the negotiations with the Sunnis -- via a
member of the IGC -- were a new step for the coalition, which had treated the Sunni militants as loosely organized bands of thugs with some foreign jihadists thrown in, not as a cohesive political-military entity with which it could negotiate. Even with the start of negotiations, it is not clear
that there is a cohesive unit representing the Sunni militants, much less
all of Iraq's minority Sunni population.

The point of negotiations is not so much to end all fighting with Sunni
militants -- no one expects that to happen anytime soon -- as to bring a
pause in the current fighting and to give the coalition forces a chance to
reassess the situation, particularly regarding al-Sadr and Grand Ayatollah
Ali al-Sistani. U.S. forces could not afford to face down the militants in
Al Fallujah and all of Iraq's Shia if they had risen up over the weekend.
The trickle of signs that Shiite and Sunni forces were joining -- at least
on a neighborhood level in some areas of the country -- presented a serious potential challenge to U.S. operations.

Although the short-term need to stem the fighting required negotiations with the Sunnis in Al Fallujah, the message it sends could be counterproductive in the long run. When the Marines began the operation in Al Fallujah, they used a strong show of force, calling in AC-130 gunships, helicopters and an air strike that employed 500-pound bombs. There was a systematic movement of Marines into areas of the city, sweeping buildings and hunting down anyone believed to be linked to militants.

Going partway in and then offering a pause -- for humanitarian or other
reasons -- is likely to be interpreted by foreign jihadists and local Sunni
militants as a sign of weakness on the part of the United States. The
negotiations under way now do not appear to have any element of requiring the people or leaders of Al Fallujah to give up those responsible for the March attack on the U.S. contractors -- one of the stated reasons for the current operation -- nor do they seem to require the surrender of all foreign jihadists.

The message is clear in the city: The United States might threaten and come in hard, but its aversion to civilian casualties -- and to taking casualties of its own -- will leave it weak in the end. As Sun Tzu said in "The Art of War," "One who is at first excessively brutal and then fears the masses is the pinnacle of stupidity." While Sun Tzu was talking about the command of troops, and the U.S. was not "excessively brutal" in its assault on Al Fallujah, the sense is clear. If you are going to make a show of strength, don't follow it with the appearance that you fear the consequences.

While the militants in Al Fallujah could calm down with the involvement of
IGC negotiators, ultimately, the underlying issue has not been resolved.
There is still a city that serves as a haven for anti-coalition forces, and
punishment has not been meted out -- leaving the militants convinced that
the harder they hit the U.S. forces, the more averse the United States will
be to engaging in urban warfare. This could come back to haunt coalition
efforts in the future.

When al-Sadr's forces rose up over the last week, it was clear that he was
counting on U.S. fear to press his case. In October 2003, when his followers clashed with coalition troops, it took only the threat of his arrest to calm him down. This time around, the threat of arrest was taken as a challenge and a rallying cry. There was little belief by al-Sadr and his top team that the U.S. forces would go through with it this time because they did not follow through last time.

Beyond the battlefield, the joint bilateral negotiations have one more
significant impact on U.S. plans for Iraq. The deals being offered to the
Sunni and Shiite factions are being made with a short-term goal in mind: to stem the current flare-up of violence. But when it comes to negotiating the makeup of the transitional government, Washington is unlikely to be able to keep whatever promises it has made to both the Shia and the Sunnis -- rivals for political control of Iraq. That will leave Washington once again in a position where it is unwilling and unable to satisfy all sides -- and a repeat of last week's violence could be in the offing.


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« Reply #69 on: April 15, 2004, 09:26:44 AM »
Woof All:

This one is quite long.  I recommend it highly.


The Fruits of Appeasement
Victor Davis Hanson

Imagine a different November 4, 1979, in Teheran. Shortly after Iranian terrorists storm the American embassy and take some 90 American hostages, President Jimmy Carter announces that Islamic fundamentalism is not a legitimate response to the excess of the Shah but a new and dangerous fascism that threatens all that liberal society holds dear. And then he issues an ultimatum to Teheran?s leaders: Release the captives or face a devastating military response.

When that demand is not met, instead of freezing Iran?s assets, stopping the importation of its oil, or seeking support at the UN, Carter orders an immediate blockade of the country, followed by promises to bomb, first, all of its major military assets, and then its main government buildings and residences of its ruling mullocracy. The Ayatollah Khomeini may well have called his bluff; we may well have tragically lost the hostages (151 fewer American lives than the Iranian-backed Hezbollah would take four years later in a single day in Lebanon). And there may well have been the sort of chaos in Teheran that we now witness in Baghdad. But we would have seen it all in 1979?and not in 2001, after almost a quarter-century of continuous Middle East terrorism, culminating in the mass murder of 3,000 Americans and the leveling of the World Trade Center.

The twentieth century should have taught the citizens of liberal democracies the catastrophic consequences of placating tyrants. British and French restraint over the occupation of the Rhineland, the Anschluss, the absorption of the Czech Sudetenland, and the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia did not win gratitude but rather Hitler?s contempt for their weakness. Fifty million dead, the Holocaust, and the near destruction of European civilization were the wages of ?appeasement??a term that early-1930s liberals proudly embraced as far more enlightened than the old idea of ?deterrence? and ?military readiness.?

So too did Western excuses for the Russians? violation of guarantees of free elections in postwar Eastern Europe, China, and Southeast Asia only embolden the Soviet Union. What eventually contained Stalinism was the Truman Doctrine, NATO, and nuclear deterrence?not the United Nations?and what destroyed its legacy was Ronald Reagan?s assertiveness, not Jimmy Carter?s accommodation or Richard Nixon?s d?tente.

As long ago as the fourth century b.c., Demosthenes warned how complacency and self-delusion among an affluent and free Athenian people allowed a Macedonian thug like Philip II to end some four centuries of Greek liberty?and in a mere 20 years of creeping aggrandizement down the Greek peninsula. Thereafter, these historical lessons should have been clear to citizens of any liberal society: we must neither presume that comfort and security are our birthrights and are guaranteed without constant sacrifice and vigilance, nor expect that peoples outside the purview of bourgeois liberalism share our commitment to reason, tolerance, and enlightened self-interest.

Most important, military deterrence and the willingness to use force against evil in its infancy usually end up, in the terrible arithmetic of war, saving more lives than they cost. All this can be a hard lesson to relearn each generation, especially now that we contend with the sirens of the mall, Oprah, and latte. Our affluence and leisure are as antithetical to the use of force as rural life and relative poverty once were catalysts for muscular action. The age-old lure of appeasement?perhaps they will cease with this latest concession, perhaps we provoked our enemies, perhaps demonstrations of our future good intentions will win their approval?was never more evident than in the recent Spanish elections, when an affluent European electorate, reeling from the horrific terrorist attack of 3/11, swept from power the pro-U.S. center-right government on the grounds that the mass murders were more the fault of the United States for dragging Spain into the effort to remove fascists and implant democracy in Iraq than of the primordial al-Qaidist culprits, who long ago promised the Western and Christian Iberians ruin for the Crusades and the Reconquista.

What went wrong with the West?and with the United States in particular?when not just the classical but especially the recent antecedents to September 11, from the Iranian hostage-taking to the attack on the USS Cole, were so clear? Though Americans in an election year, legitimately concerned about our war dead, may now be divided over the Iraqi occupation, polls nevertheless show a surprising consensus that the many precursors to the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings were acts of war, not police matters. Roll the tape backward from the USS Cole in 2000, through the bombing of the Khobar Towers and the U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the destruction of the American embassy and annex in Beirut in 1983, the mass murder of 241 U.S. Marine peacekeepers asleep in their Lebanese barracks that same year, and assorted kidnappings and gruesome murders of American citizens and diplomats (including TWA Flight 800, Pan Am 103, William R. Higgins, Leon Klinghoffer, Robert Dean Stethem, and CIA operative William Francis Buckley), until we arrive at the Iranian hostage-taking of November 1979: that debacle is where we first saw the strange brew of Islamic fascism, autocracy, and Middle East state terrorism?and failed to grasp its menace, condemn it, and go to war against it.

That lapse, worth meditating upon in this 25th anniversary year of Khomeinism, then set the precedent that such aggression against the United States was better adjudicated as a matter of law than settled by war. Criminals were to be understood, not punished; and we, not our enemies, were at fault for our past behavior. Whether Carter?s impotence sprang from his deep-seated moral distrust of using American power unilaterally or from real remorse over past American actions in the cold war or even from his innate pessimism about the military capability of the United States mattered little to the hostage takers in Teheran, who for some 444 days humiliated the United States through a variety of public demands for changes in U.S. foreign policy, the return of the exiled Shah, and reparations.

But if we know how we failed to respond in the last three decades, do we yet grasp why we were so afraid to act decisively at these earlier junctures, which might have stopped the chain of events that would lead to the al-Qaida terrorist acts of September 11? Our failure was never due to a lack of the necessary wealth or military resources, but rather to a deeply ingrained assumption that we should not retaliate?a hesitancy al-Qaida perceives and plays upon.

Along that sad succession of provocations, we can look back and see particularly critical turning points that reflected this now-institutionalized state policy of worrying more about what the enemy was going to do to us than we to him, to paraphrase Grant?s dictum: not hammering back after the murder of the marines in Lebanon for fear of ending up like the Israelis in a Lebanese quagmire; not going to Baghdad in 1991 because of paranoia that the ?coalition? would collapse and we would polarize the Arabs; pulling abruptly out of Somalia once pictures of American bodies dragged through the streets of Mogadishu were broadcast around the world; or turning down offers in 1995 from Sudan to place Usama bin Ladin into our custody, for fear that U.S. diplomats or citizens might be murdered abroad.

Throughout this tragic quarter-century of appeasement, our response usually consisted of a stern lecture by a Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, or Bill Clinton about ?never giving in to terrorist blackmail? and ?not negotiating with terrorists.? Even Ronald Reagan?s saber-rattling ?You can run but not hide? did not preclude trading arms to the Iranian terrorists or abruptly abandoning Lebanon after the horrific Hezbollah attack.

Sometimes a half-baked failed rescue mission, or a battleship salvo, cruise missile, or air strike followed?but always accompanied by a weeklong debate by conservatives over ?exit strategies? and ?mission creep,? while liberals fretted about ?consultations with our allies and the United Nations.? And remember: these pathetic military responses were the hawkish actions that earned us the resignation of a furious Cyrus Vance, the abrogation of overflight rights by concerned ?allies? such as France, and a national debate about what we did to cause such animosity in the first place.

Our enemies and Middle Eastern ?friends? alike sneered at our self-flagellation. In 1991, at great risk, the United States freed Kuwait from Iraq and ended its status as the 19th satrapy of Saddam Hussein?only to watch the restored kingdom ethnically cleanse over a third of a million Palestinians. But after the murder of 3,000 Americans in 2001, Kuwaitis, in a February 2002 Gallup poll (and while they lobbied OPEC to reduce output and jack up prices), revealed an overwhelming distaste for Americans?indeed the highest levels of anti-Americanism in the Arab world. And these ethnic cleansers of Palestinians cited America?s purportedly unfair treatment of the Palestinians (recipients of accumulated billions in American aid) as a prime cause of their dislike of us.

In the face of such visceral anti-Americanism, the problem may not be real differences over the West Bank, much less that ?we are not getting the message out?; rather, in the decade since 1991 the Middle East saw us as a great power that neither could nor would use its strength to advance its ideas?that lacked even the intellectual confidence to argue for our civilization before the likes of a tenth-century monarchy. The autocratic Arab world neither respects nor fears a democratic United States, because it rightly senses that we often talk in principled terms but rarely are willing to invest the time, blood, and treasure to match such rhetoric with concrete action. That?s why it is crucial for us to stay in Iraq to finish the reconstruction and cement the achievement of our three-week victory over Saddam.

It is easy to cite post-Vietnam guilt and shame as the likely culprit for our paralysis. After all, Jimmy Carter came in when memories of capsizing boat people and of American helicopters lifting swarms of panicked diplomats off the roof of the Saigon embassy were fresh. In 1980, he exited in greater shame: his effusive protestations that Soviet communism wasn?t something to fear all that much won him the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, while his heralded ?human rights? campaign was answered by the Ortegas in Nicaragua and the creation of a murderous theocracy in Iran. Yet perhaps President Carter was not taking the American people anywhere they didn?t want to go. After over a decade of prior social unrest and national humiliation in Vietnam, many Americans believed that the United States either could not or should not do much about things beyond its shores.

As time wore on and the nightmare of Vietnam began to fade, fear of the Soviet Union kept us from crushing the terrorists who killed our diplomats and blew up our citizens. These were no idle fears, given the Russians? record of butchering 30 million of their own, stationing 300 divisions on Europe?s borders, and pointing 7,000 nukes at the United States. And fear of their malevolence made eminent sense in the volatile Middle East, where the Russians made direct threats to the Israelis in both the 1967 and 1973 wars, when the Syrian, Egyptian, and Iraqi militaries?trained, supplied, and advised by Russians?were on the verge of annihilation. Russian support for Nasser?s Pan-Arabism and for Baathism in Iraq and Syria rightly worried cold warriors, who sensed that the Soviets had their geopolitical eyes on Middle East oil and a stranglehold over Persian Gulf commerce.

Indeed, these twin pillars of the old American Middle East policy?worry over oil and fear of communists?reigned for nearly half a century, between 1945 and 1991. Such realism, however understandable, was counterproductive in the long run, since our tacit support for odious anti-communist governments in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and North Africa did not address the failure of such autocracies to provide prosperity and hope for exploding populations of increasingly poor and angry citizens. We kept Russians out of the oil fields and ensured safe exports of petroleum to Europe, Japan, and the United States?but at what proved to be the steep price of allowing awful regimes to deflect popular discontent against us.

Nor was realpolitik always effective. Such illegitimate Arab regimes as the Saudi royal family initiated several oil embargoes, after all. And meanwhile, such a policy did not deter the Soviets from busily selling high-tech weaponry to Libya, Syria, and Iraq, while the KGB helped to train and fund almost every Arab terrorist group. And indeed, immediately after the 1991 Iraqi takeover of Kuwait, U.S. intelligence officers discovered that Soviet-trained Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, and Abu Ibrahim had flocked to Baghdad on the invitation of the Baathist Saddam Hussein: though the Soviet Union did not interrupt Western petroleum commerce, its well-supplied surrogates did their fair share of murdering.

Neither thirst for petroleum nor fear of communists, then, adequately explains our inaction for most of the tumultuous late 1980s and 1990s, when groups like Hezbollah and al-Qaida came on to the world scene. Gorbachev?s tottering empire had little inclination to object too strenuously when the United States hit Libya in 1986, recall, and thanks to the growing diversity and fungibility of the global oil supply, we haven?t had a full-fledged Arab embargo since 1979.

Instead, the primary cause for our surprising indifference to the events leading up to September 11 lies within ourselves. Westerners always have had a propensity for complacency because of our wealth and freedom; and Americans in particular have enjoyed a comfortable isolation in being separated from the rest of the world by two oceans. Yet during the last four presidential administrations, laxity about danger on the horizon seems to have become more ingrained than in the days when a more robust United States sought to thwart communist intrusion into Arabia, Asia, and Africa.

Americans never viewed terrorist outlaw states with the suspicion they once had toward Soviet communism; they put little pressure on their leaders to crack down on Middle Eastern autocracy and theocracy as a threat to security. At first this indifference was understandable, given the stealthy nature of our enemies and the post?cold war relief that, having toppled the Soviet Union and freed millions in Eastern Europe, we might be at the end of history. Even the bloodcurdling anti-American shouts from the Beirut street did not seem as scary as a procession of intercontinental missiles and tanks on an average May Day parade in Moscow.

Hezbollah, al-Qaida, and the PLO were more like fleas on a sleeping dog: bothersome rather than lethal; to be flicked away occasionally rather than systematically eradicated. Few paid attention to Usama bin Ladin?s infamous February 1998 fatwa: ?The rule to kill Americans and their allies?civilians and military?is a sacred duty for any Muslim.? Those who noticed thought it just impotent craziness, akin to Sartre?s fatuous quip during the Vietnam War that he wished for a nuclear strike against the United States to end its imperial aspirations. No one thought that a raving maniac in an Afghan cave could kill more Americans in a single day than the planes of the Japanese imperial fleet off Pearl Harbor.

But still, how did things as odious to liberal sensibilities as Pan-Arabism, Islamic fundamentalism, and Middle Eastern dictatorship?which squashed dissent, mocked religious tolerance, and treated women as chattel?become reinvented into ?alternate discourses? deserving a sympathetic pass from the righteous anger of the United States when Americans were murdered overseas? Was it that spokesmen for terrorist regimes mimicked the American Left?in everything from dress, vocabulary, and appearances on the lecture circuit?and so packaged their extremism in a manner palatable to Americans? Why, after all, were Americans patient with remonstrations from University of Virginia alumna Hanan Ashrawi, rather than asking precisely how such a wealthy Christian PLO apparatchik really felt about the Palestinian Authority?s endemic corruption, the spendthrift Parisian Mrs. Arafat, the terrorists around Arafat himself, the spate of ?honor killings? of women in the West Bank, the censorship of the Palestinian press, suicide murdering by Arafat affiliates, and the lynching of suspects by Palestinian police?

Rather than springing from realpolitik, sloth, or fear of oil cutoffs, much of our appeasement of Middle Eastern terrorists derived from a new sort of anti-Americanism that thrived in the growing therapeutic society of the 1980s and 1990s. Though the abrupt collapse of communism was a dilemma for the Left, it opened as many doors as it shut. To be sure, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, few Marxists could argue for a state-controlled economy or mouth the old romance about a workers? paradise?not with scenes of East German families crammed into smoking clunkers lumbering over potholed roads, like American pioneers of old on their way west. But if the creed of the socialist republics was impossible to take seriously in either economic or political terms, such a collapse of doctrinaire statism did not discredit the gospel of forced egalitarianism and resentment against prosperous capitalists. Far from it.

If Marx receded from economics departments, his spirit reemerged among our intelligentsia in the novel guises of post-structuralism, new historicism, multiculturalism, and all the other dogmas whose fundamental tenet was that white male capitalists had systematically oppressed women, minorities, and Third World people in countless insidious ways. The font of that collective oppression, both at home and abroad, was the rich, corporate, Republican, and white United States.

The fall of the Soviet Union enhanced these newer post-colonial and liberation fields of study by immunizing their promulgators from charges of fellow-traveling or being dupes of Russian expansionism. Communism?s demise likewise freed these trendy ideologies from having to offer some wooden, unworkable Marxist alternative to the West; thus they could happily remain entirely critical, sarcastic, and cynical without any obligation to suggest something better, as witness the nihilist signs at recent protest marches proclaiming: ?I Love Iraq, Bomb Texas.?

From writers like Arundhati Roy and Michel Foucault (who anointed Khomeini ?a kind of mystic saint? who would usher in a new ?political spirituality? that would ?transfigure? the world) and from old standbys like Frantz Fanon and Jean-Paul Sartre (?to shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time?), there filtered down a vague notion that the United States and the West in general were responsible for Third World misery in ways that transcended the dull old class struggle. Endemic racism and the legacy of colonialism, the oppressive multinational corporation and the humiliation and erosion of indigenous culture brought on by globalization and a smug, self-important cultural condescension?all this and more explained poverty and despair, whether in Damascus, Teheran, or Beirut.

There was victim status for everybody, from gender, race, and class at home to colonialism, imperialism, and hegemony abroad. Anyone could play in these ?area studies? that cobbled together the barrio, the West Bank, and the ?freedom fighter? into some sloppy global union of the oppressed?a far hipper enterprise than rehashing Das Kapital or listening to a six-hour harangue from Fidel.

Of course, pampered Western intellectuals since Diderot have always dreamed up a ?noble savage,? who lived in harmony with nature precisely because of his distance from the corruption of Western civilization. But now this fuzzy romanticism had an updated, political edge: the bearded killer and wild-eyed savage were not merely better than we because they lived apart in a pre-modern landscape. No: they had a right to strike back and kill modernizing Westerners who had intruded into and disrupted their better world?whether Jews on Temple Mount, women in Westernized dress in Teheran, Christian missionaries in Kabul, capitalist profiteers in Islamabad, whiskey-drinking oilmen in Riyadh, or miniskirted tourists in Cairo.

An Ayatollah Khomeini who turned back the clock on female emancipation in Iran, who murdered non-Muslims, and who refashioned Iranian state policy to hunt down, torture, and kill liberals nevertheless seemed to liberal Western eyes as preferable to the Shah?a Western-supported anti-communist, after all, who was engaged in the messy, often corrupt task of bringing Iran from the tenth to the twentieth century, down the arduous, dangerous path that, as in Taiwan or South Korea, might eventually lead to a consensual, capitalist society like our own.

Yet in the new world of utopian multiculturalism and knee-jerk anti-Americanism, in which a Noam Chomsky could proclaim Khomeini?s gulag to be ?independent nationalism,? reasoned argument was futile. Indeed, how could critical debate arise for those ?committed to social change,? when no universal standards were to be applied to those outside the West? Thanks to the doctrine of cultural relativism, ?oppressed? peoples either could not be judged by our biased and ?constructed? values (?false universals,? in Edward Said?s infamous term) or were seen as more pristine than ourselves, uncorrupted by the evils of Western capitalism.

Who were we to gainsay Khomeini?s butchery and oppression? We had no way of understanding the nuances of his new liberationist and ?nationalist? Islam. Now back in the hands of indigenous peoples, Iran might offer the world an alternate path, a different ?discourse? about how to organize a society that emphasized native values (of some sort) over mere profit.

So at precisely the time of these increasingly frequent terrorist attacks, the silly gospel of multiculturalism insisted that Westerners have neither earned the right to censure others, nor do they possess the intellectual tools to make judgments about the relative value of different cultures. And if the initial wave of multiculturalist relativism among the elites?coupled with the age-old romantic forbearance for Third World roguery?explained tolerance for early unpunished attacks on Americans, its spread to our popular culture only encouraged more.

This nonjudgmentalism?essentially a form of nihilism?deemed everything from Sudanese female circumcision to honor killings on the West Bank merely ?different? rather than odious. Anyone who has taught freshmen at a state university can sense the fuzzy thinking of our undergraduates: most come to us prepped in high schools not to make ?value judgments? about ?other? peoples who are often ?victims? of American ?oppression.? Thus, before female-hating psychopath Mohamed Atta piloted a jet into the World Trade Center, neither Western intellectuals nor their students would have taken him to task for what he said or condemned him as hypocritical for his parasitical existence on Western society. Instead, without logic but with plenty of romance, they would more likely have excused him as a victim of globalization or of the biases of American foreign policy. They would have deconstructed Atta?s promotion of anti-Semitic, misogynist, Western-hating thought, as well as his conspiracies with Third World criminals, as anything but a danger and a pathology to be remedied by deportation or incarceration.

It was not for nothing that on November 17, 1979?less than two weeks after the militants stormed the American embassy in Teheran?the Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the release of 13 female and black hostages, singling them out as part of the brotherhood of those oppressed by the United States and cloaking his ongoing slaughter of Iranian opponents and attacks on United States sovereignty in a self-righteous anti-Americanism. Twenty-five years later, during the anti-war protests of last spring, a group called ?Act Now to Stop War and End Racism? sang the same foolish chorus in its call for demonstrations: ?Members of the Muslim Community, Antiwar Activists, Latin-American Solidarity Groups and People From All Over the United States Unite to Say: ?We Are All Palestinians!? ?

The new cult of romantic victimhood became gospel in most Middle East departments in American universities. Except for the courageous Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes, and Fouad Ajami, few scholars offered any analysis that might confirm more astute Americans in their vague sense that in the Middle East, political autocracy, statism, tribalism, anti-intellectualism, and gender apartheid accounted for poverty and failure. And if few wished to take on Islamofascism in the 1990s?indeed, Steven Emerson?s chilling 1994 documentary Jihad in America set off a storm of protest from U.S. Muslim-rights groups and prompted death threats to the producer?almost no one but Samuel Huntington dared even to broach the taboo subject that there might be elements within doctrinaire Islam itself that could easily lead to intolerance and violence and were therefore at the root of any ?clash of civilizations.?

Instead, most experts explained why violent fanatics might have some half-legitimate grievance behind their deadly harvest each year of a few Americans in the wrong place at the wrong time. These experts cautioned that, instead of bombing and shooting killers abroad who otherwise would eventually reach us at home, Americans should take care not to disturb Iranian terrorists during Ramadan?rather than to remember that Muslims attacked Israel precisely during that holy period. Instead of condemning Wahhabis for the fascists that they were, we were instead apprised that such holy men of the desert and tent provided a rapidly changing and often Western-corrupted Saudi Arabia with a vital tether to the stability of its romantic nomadic past. Rather than recognizing that Yasser Arafat?s Tunisia-based Fatah organization was a crime syndicate, expert opinion persuaded us to empower it as an indigenous liberation movement on the West Bank?only to destroy nearly two decades? worth of steady Palestinian economic improvement.

Neither oil-concerned Republicans nor multicultural Democrats were ready to expose the corrupt American relationship with Saudi Arabia. No country is more culpable than that kingdom in funding extremist madrassas and subsidizing terror, or more antithetical to liberal American values from free speech to religious tolerance. But Saudi propagandists learned from the Palestinians the value of constructing their own victimhood as a long-oppressed colonial people. Call a Saudi fundamentalist mullah a fascist, and you can be sure you?ll be tarred as an Islamophobe.

Even when Middle Easterners regularly blew us up, the Clinton administration, unwilling to challenge the new myth of Muslim victimhood, transformed Middle Eastern terrorists bent on destroying America into wayward individual criminals who did not spring from a pathological culture. Thus, Clinton treated the first World Trade Center bombing as only a criminal justice matter?which of course allowed the United States to avoid confronting the issue and taking on the messy and increasingly unpopular business the Bush administration has been engaged in since September 11. Clinton dispatched FBI agents, not soldiers, to Yemen and Saudi Arabia after the attacks on the USS Cole and the Khobar Towers. Yasser Arafat, responsible in the 1970s for the murder of a U.S. diplomat in the Sudan, turned out to be the most frequent foreign visitor to the Clinton Oval Office.

If the Clintonian brand of appeasement reflected both a deep-seated tolerance for Middle Eastern extremism and a reluctance to wake comfortable Americans up to the danger of a looming war, he was not the only one naive about the threat of Islamic fascism. Especially culpable was the Democratic Party at large, whose post-Vietnam foreign policy could not sanction the use of American armed force to protect national interests but only to accomplish purely humanitarian ends as in the interventions in Haiti, Somalia, and Bosnia.

Indeed, the recent Democratic primaries reveal just how far this disturbing trend has evolved: the foreign-policy positions of John Kerry and Howard Dean on Iraq and the Middle East were far closer to those of extremists like Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich than to current American policy under George W. Bush. Indeed, buffoons or conspiracy theorists like Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and Al Franken often turned up on the same stage as would-be presidents. When Moore, while endorsing Wesley Clark, called an American president at a time of war a ?deserter,? when the mendacious Sharpton lectured his smiling fellow candidates on the Bush administration?s ?lies? about Iraq, and when Al Gore labeled the president?s action in Iraq a ?betrayal? of America, the surrender of the mainstream Democrats to the sirens of extremism was complete. Again, past decorum and moderation go out the window when the pretext is saving indigenous peoples from American oppression.

The consensus for appeasement that led to September 11, albeit suppressed for nearly two years by outrage over the murder of 3,000, has reemerged in criticism over the ongoing reconstruction of Iraq and George Bush?s prosecution of the War on Terror.

The tired voices that predicted a litany of horrors in October 2001?the impassable peaks of Afghanistan, millions of refugees, endemic starvation, revolution in the Arab street, and violations of Ramadan?now complain, incorrectly, that 150,000 looted art treasures were the cost of guarding the Iraqi oil ministry, that Halliburton pipelines and refineries were the sole reason to remove Saddam Hussein, and that Christian fundamentalists and fifth-columnist neoconservatives have fomented a senseless revenge plot against Muslims and Arabs. Whether they complained before March 2003 that America faced death and ruin against Saddam?s Republican Guard, or two months later that in bullying fashion we had walked over a suddenly impotent enemy, or three months later still that, through incompetence, we were taking casualties and failing to get the power back on, leftist critics? only constant was their predictable dislike of America.

Military historians might argue that, given the enormity of our task in Iraq?liberating 26 million from a tyrant and implanting democracy in the region?the tragic loss of more than 500 Americans in a year?s war and peace was a remarkable sign of our care and expertise in minimizing deaths. Diplomats might argue that our past efforts at humanitarian reconstruction, with some idealistic commitment to consensual government, have a far better track record in Germany, Japan, Korea, Panama, and Serbia than our strategy of exiting Germany after World War I, of leaving Iraq to Saddam after 1991, of abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban once the Russians were stopped, of skipping out from Haiti or of fleeing Somalia. Realist students of arms control might argue that the recent confessions of Pakistan?s nuclear roguery, the surrender of the Libyan arsenal, and the invitation of the UN inspectors into Iran were the dividends of resolute American action in Iraq. Colonel Khadafy surely came clean not because of Jimmy Carter?s peace missions, UN resolutions, or EU diplomats.

But don?t expect any sober discussion of these contentions from the Left. Their gloom and doom about Iraq arises precisely from the anti-Americanism and romanticization of the Third World that once led to our appeasement and now seeks its return. When John Kerry talks of mysterious prominent Europeans he has met (but whose names he will not divulge) who, he says, pray for his election in hopes of ending George Bush?s Iraqi nightmare, perhaps he has in mind people like the Chamberlainesque European Commission president Romano Prodi, who said in the wake of the recent mass murder in Spain: ?Clearly, the conflict with the terrorists is not resolved with force alone.? Perhaps he has in mind, also, the Spanish electorate, which believes it can find security from al-Qaida terrorism by refuting all its past support for America?s role in the Middle East. But of course if the terrorists understand that, in lieu of resolve, they will find such appeasement a mere 48 hours after a terrorist attack, then all previously resolute Western democracies?Italy, Poland, Britain, and the United States?should expect the terrorists to murder their citizens on the election eve in hopes of achieving just such a Spanish-style capitulation.

In contrast, George W. Bush, impervious to such self-deception, has, in a mere two and a half years, reversed the perilous course of a quarter-century. Since September 11, he has removed the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, begun to challenge the Middle East through support for consensual government, isolated Yasser Arafat, pressured the Europeans on everything from anti-Semitism to their largesse to Hamas, removed American troops from Saudi Arabia, shut down fascistic Islamic ?charities,? scattered al-Qaida, turned Pakistan from a de facto foe to a scrutinized neutral, rounded up terrorists in the United States, pressured Libya, Iran, and Pakistan to come clean on clandestine nuclear cheating, so far avoided another September 11?and promises that he is not nearly done yet. If the Spanish example presages further terrorist attacks on European democracies at election time, at least Mr. Bush has made it clear that America?alone if need be?will neither appease nor ignore such killers but in fact finish the terrible war that they started.

As Jimmy Carter also proved in November 1979, one man really can make a difference.


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"A crisis is a terrible thing to waste."
« Reply #70 on: April 19, 2004, 02:00:39 PM »
April 18, 2004
      Kicking Over the Chessboard

      At first, I thought I'd write a column that just ripped President Bush
for declaring that the United States ? after decades of neutrality ? has
decided to oppose the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel as
part of any final peace settlement. Why is the president dragging America
into the middle of this most sensitive Israeli-Palestinian issue? You're
telling me that just because Ariel Sharon has to persuade the right-wing
lunatics in his cabinet to undo the lunatic settlement mess that Mr. Sharon
himself created, America has to pay for it with its own standing in the Arab

      And while I was at it, I also thought I'd write that it is an
abomination for Mr. Bush to say that Palestinians had to recognize "the new
realities on the ground" in the West Bank ? the massive Israeli settlement
blocks ? without even mentioning the fact that those "new realities" were
built in defiance of stated U.S. policy and they have been just devastating
to Palestinian civilians, who've seen their lands confiscated, olive groves
uprooted and community fragmented.

      But then I thought I also had to write to the Arab leaders wailing
over the Bush statements and ask them a simple question: Where have you
been? Saudi Arabia's crown prince comes up with one peace plan, one time,
for one day. That was it. There's been no follow-up ? not a single
imaginative, or even pedestrian, Saudi, Arab or Palestinian initiative to
sell this peace plan to the Israeli people. And what did the Palestinians
think? That years of insane suicide bombing of Israelis wouldn't drive
Israel to act unilaterally?

      But after I got all these prospective columns off my chest, I decided
what I really wanted to say was this: I'm fed up with the Middle East, or
more accurately, I'm fed up with the stalemate in the Middle East. All it
has produced is death, destruction and endless "he hit me first" debates on
cable television. Arabs, Israelis, Americans ? everyone is sick of it.

      So now President Bush has stepped in and thrown the whole frozen
Middle East chessboard up in the air. I don't like his style, but it's done.
The status quo was no better. So, frankly, now I'm only interested in three

      First, will Mr. Sharon win the backing of his right-wing coalition for
his Gaza withdrawal plan ? which has set off the biggest ideological split
in the Jewish right since Camp David? If Mr. Sharon really does split his
party and manages to withdraw all Israeli settlements and forces from Gaza,
there will only be a far right in Israel and a far left, and a huge center ?
which is what stable, sane politics requires. That would be a sea change in
Israeli politics. Israelis will prove to themselves and to the Arabs that
they can, under the right conditions, break the grip of the settlers. The
Arabs will never again be able to say: "Why should we do anything? Israel
will never leave the settlements anyway." Moreover, Israel will very likely
have to form a national unity government ? of Labor and Likud ? to pull this
off, and only such a coalition could reach a negotiated final peace with the

      Second, will the Bush team make sure that Mr. Sharon, or his
successor, fully withdraws from Gaza as promised? The Bush folks are experts
at throwing up chessboards and then leaving the room, with the pieces
bouncing all over the floor, and not doing the follow-up (see Iraq) because
it interferes with their domestic political agenda. Having given up real
U.S. negotiating assets to get Mr. Sharon to move, if Mr. Bush turns a blind
eye to any Sharon stalling, U.S. interests will be badly damaged.

      Finally, if Mr. Sharon does pull out of Gaza, the Palestinians will
have a chance to reposition themselves in the eyes of Israelis. They will
have a chance to build a decent ministate of their own in Gaza that will
prove to Israelis they can live in peace next to Israel. It will be hard and
they will need help. Gaza is dirt poor. But if the Palestinians show they
can build a decent state, it will do more to persuade Israelis to give up
more of the West Bank, or swap land there for parts of Israel, than any Bush
statements or Hamas terror. This is the best chance Palestinians have ever
had to run their own house without the Israelis around. I wish them well,
because if they do well, everything will be on the table.

      This is a real crisis for all parties. And as Paul Romer, the Stanford
economist, remarked to me the other day about a different issue: "A crisis
is a terrible thing to waste."

C-Bad Dog, Lakan Guro DBMA


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« Reply #71 on: April 20, 2004, 07:05:26 AM »
I respect Friedman and enjoy reading his pieces, but in a couple of ways I found this one wide of the mark.

The "right of return" has been a non-starter for a long, long time and even more so now.  With the murderous frenzy of the killer bombers, ever growing since Arafat rejected a fine peace offer and started the most recent Intifada, the Israelis would have to be insane to consider such a thing.  

As for the settlements, the first thing to be noted is that when Egypt gave peace, it got the Sinai back.  For a long time after the 1973 War, Israel wanted to do the same with the West Bank but, well, we see what they have been dealing with.

Question:  Why is the West Bank no longer part of Jordan?  Why do most people not even know that it was?



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« Reply #72 on: April 23, 2004, 08:55:31 AM »
22 April 2004

The Al Fallujah Cease-Fire and the Three-Way Game


U.S. forces have reached a written cease-fire agreement with Sunni guerrillas operating in Al Fallujah. More than ending -- or at least suspending -- the battles in Al Fallujah, the cease-fire has turned the political situation in Iraq on its head, with the United States now positioned strategically between the majority Shia and the Sunni insurgents.


The United States and the Sunni guerrillas in Iraq agreed to an extended cease-fire in Al Fallujah on April 19. Most media treated the news as important. It was, in fact, extraordinary. The fact that either force -- U.S. or Iraqi -- would have considered negotiating with the other represents an astounding evolution on both sides. For the first time in the guerrilla war, the United States and the guerrillas went down what a Marine general referred to as a "political track." That a political track has emerged between these two adversaries represents a stunning evolution. Even if it goes no further -- and even if the cease-fire in Al Fallujah collapses -- it represents a massive shift in policy on both sides.

To be precise, the document that was signed April 19 was between U.S. military forces and civilian leaders in the city. That distinction having been made, it is clear that the civilian leaders were authorized by the guerrillas to negotiate a cease- fire. The proof of that can be found in the fact that the leaders are still alive and were not executed by the guerrillas for betraying the purity of their cause. It is also clear that the Americans believe these leaders speak for the guerrillas in some definitive way; otherwise, there would have been no point to the negotiations. Thus the distinction between civilian and guerrilla in Al Fallujah is not entirely meaningful.

The willingness of the United States to negotiate with the guerrillas is the most significant evolution. If we recall the U.S. view of the guerrilla movement in May and June 2003, the official position was that there was no guerrilla movement, that there were only the uncoordinated remnants of the old regime, bandits and renegades. The idea of negotiating anything with this group was inconceivable for both ideological and practical reasons. A group as uncoordinated as Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld portrayed them could not negotiate -- or be negotiated with -- under any circumstances. We believed then that the Sunni guerrillas were an organized movement preplanned by the Iraqis, and we believe now -- obviously -- that their organization has improved over time. It has certainly become an army that can be addressed as a cohesive entity and negotiated with.

More important is the fact that both sides felt constrained -- at least in this limited circumstance -- to negotiate. In that sense, each side was defeated by the other. The United States conceded that it could not unilaterally impose its will on Al Fallujah. There are political and military reasons for this. Politically, the collateral damage of house-to-house fighting would have had significant political consequences for Iraq, the alliance and the United States. The guerrillas could not have been defeated without a significant number of civilian casualties. Militarily, the United States has no desire to engage in urban combat. Casualties among U.S. troops would have been high, and the forces doing the fighting would have been exhausted. At a time of substantial troop shortages, the level of effort needed to pacify Al Fallujah would have represented a substantial burden. The guerrillas had posed a politico-military problem that could not readily be solved unilaterally.

It was also a defeat for the guerrillas. Their political position has been unalterable opposition to the United States, and an uncompromising struggle to defeat the Americans. They have presented themselves not only as ready to die, but also as representing an Iraq that was ready to die with them. At the very least, it is clear that the citizens of Al Fallujah were ready neither to die nor to endure the siege the United States was prepared to impose. At most, the guerrillas themselves, trapped inside Al Fallujah, chose to negotiate an exit, even if it meant surrendering heavy weapons -- including machine guns -- and even if it meant that they could no longer use Al Fallujah as a battleground. Whether it was the civilians or the guerrillas that drove for settlement, someone settled -- and the settlement included the guerrillas.

The behavior of the guerrillas indicates to us that their numbers and resources are not as deep as it might appear. The guerrillas are not cowards. Cowards don't take on U.S. Marines. Forcing the United States into house-to-house fighting would have been logical -- unless the guerrillas in Al Fallujah represented a substantial proportion of the guerrilla fighting force and had to be retained. If that were the case, it would indicate that the guerrillas are afraid of battles of annihilation that they cannot recover from. Obviously, there is strong anti-American feeling in Iraq, but the difference between throwing a rock or a grenade and carrying out the effective, coordinated warfare of the professional guerrilla is training. Enthusiasm does not create soldiers. Training takes time and secure bases. It is likely that the guerrillas have neither, so -- with substantial forces trapped in Al Fallujah -- they had to negotiate their way out.

In short, both sides have hit a wall of reality. The American belief that there was no guerrilla force -- or that the guerrillas had been crushed in December 2003 -- is simply not true. If the United States wants to crush the guerrillas, U.S. troops will have to go into Al Fallujah and other towns and fight house to house. On the other hand, the guerrilla wish for a rising wave of unrest to break the American will simply has not come true. The forces around Al Fallujah were substantial, were not deterred by political moves and could come in and wipe them out. That was not an acceptable prospect.

Al Fallujah demonstrates three things: First, it demonstrates that under certain circumstances, a political agreement --however limited -- can be negotiated between the United States and the guerrillas. Second, it demonstrates that the United States is aware of the limits of its power and is now open, for the first time, to some sort of political resolution -- even if it means dealing with the guerrillas. Third, it demonstrates that the guerrillas are aware of the limits of their power, and are implicitly prepared for some solution short of complete, immediate victory. The question is where this all goes.

To begin with, it could go nowhere. First, the cease-fire could be a guerrilla trap. As U.S. forces begin the joint patrols with Iraqi police that were agreed to, the guerrillas could hit them, ending the cease-fire. Second, the cease-fire could break down because of a lack of coordination among the guerrillas, dissident groups, or a U.S. decision to use the cease-fire as a cover for penetrating the city and resuming operations. Third, the cease-fire could work in Al Fallujah but not be applied anywhere else. The whole thing could be a flash in the pan. On the other hand, if the Al Fallujah cease-fire holds, a precedent is set that could expand.

In 1973, after the cease-fire in the Arab-Israeli war, Israeli and Egyptian troops held positions too close to each other for comfort. A disengagement was necessary. In what was then an extraordinary event, Israeli and Egyptian military leaders met at a point in the road called Kilometer 101. In face-to-face negotiations, days after guns fell silent in a brutal war, the combatants -- not the politicians -- mediated by the United States, reached a limited technical agreement for disengaging forces in that particular instance, and only in that instance. In our view, the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt were framed at Kilometer 101. If disengagement could be negotiated, the logic held that other things could be negotiated as well.

There were powerful political forces driving toward a settlement as well, and the military imperative was simply the cutting edge.  But there are also powerful political forces in Iraq. The United States clearly does not want an interminable civil war in Iraq.  The jihadists -- the foreign Islamist militants -- obviously do want that. But the view of the Sunni guerrillas might be different. They have other enemies besides the Americans -- they have the Shia. The Sunnis have as little desire to be dominated by the Shia as the Shia have to be dominated by the Sunnis. In that aversion, there is political opportunity. Unlike the foreign jihadists, the native Sunni guerrillas are not ideologically opposed to negotiating with the Shia -- or the Americans.

The Role of the Shia

The United States has banked heavily on the cooperation of the Shia. It reached agreement with the Shia to allow them a Shiite-dominated government. After the December 2003 suppression of the Sunni guerrillas, Washington cooled a bit on the deal. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani demanded elections, which he knew the Shia would win. Washington insisted on a prefabricated government that limited Shiite power and would frame the new constitution, leading to elections. Al-Sistani suspected that the new constitution would be written so as to deny the Shia what the United States had promised.

Al-Sistani first demanded elections. The United States refused to budge. He then called huge demonstrations. The United States refused to budge. Then Muqtada al-Sadr -- who is either al-Sistani's mortal enemy, his tool or both -- rose up in the south.  Al-Sistani was showing the United States that -- without him and the Shia -- the U.S. position in Iraq would become untenable. He made an exceptionally good case. The United States approached al-Sistani urgently to intercede, but -- outstanding negotiator that he is -- al-Sistani refused to budge for several days, during which it appeared that all of Iraq was exploding. Then, he quietly interceded and al-Sadr -- trapped with relatively limited forces, isolated from the Shiite main body and facing the United States -- began to look for a way out. Al-Sistani appeared to have proven his point to the United States: Without the Shia, the United States cannot remain in Iraq. Without al-Sistani, the Shia will become unmanageable.

From al-Sistani's point of view, there was a three-player game in Iraq -- fragments notwithstanding -- and the Shia were the swing players, with the Sunnis and Americans at each other's throats.  In any three-player game, the swing player is in the strongest position. Al-Sistani, able to swing between the Americans and the Sunnis, was the most powerful figure in Iraq. So long as the Americans and Sunnis remained locked in that position, al-Sistani would win.

The Sunnis did not want to see a Shiite-dominated Iraq. So long as al-Sistani was talking to the Americans and they were not, the choice was between a long, difficult, uncertain war and capitulation. The Sunnis had to change the terms of the game. What they signaled to al-Sistani was that if he continued to negotiate with the United States and not throw in with the guerrillas, they would have no choice but to open a line of communication with the Americans as well. Al Fallujah proved not only that they would -- but more importantly -- that they could.

From the U.S. point of view, the hostility between Sunnis and Shia is the bedrock of the occupation. They cannot permit the two players to unite against them. Nor can they allow the Shia to become too powerful or for the Americans to become their prisoners. While al-Sistani was coolly playing his hand, it became clear to the Americans that they needed additional options. Otherwise, the only two outcomes they faced here were a Sunni-Shiite alliance against them or becoming the prisoner of the Shia.

By opening negotiations with the Sunnis, the Americans sent a stunning message to the Shia: The idea of negotiation with the Sunnis is not out of the question. In fact, by completing the cease-fire agreement before agreement was reached over al-Sadr's forces in An Najaf, the United States pointed out that it was, at the moment, easier to deal with the Sunnis than with the Shia. This increased pressure on al-Sistani, who saw for the first time a small indicator that his position was not as unassailably powerful as he thought.

The New Swing Player

The Al Fallujah cease-fire has started -- emphasis on "started" -- a process whereby the United States moves to become the swing player, balancing between Sunnis and Shia. Having reached out to the Sunnis to isolate the Americans and make them more forthcoming, the Shia now face the possibility of "arrangements" -- not agreements, not treaties, not a settlement -- between U.S. and Sunni forces that put realities in place, out of which broader understandings might gradually emerge.

In the end, the United States has limited interest in Iraq, but the Iraqis -- Sunnis and Shia alike -- are not going anywhere. They are going to have to deal with each other, although they do not trust each other -- and with good reason. Neither trusts the United States, but the United States will eventually leave. In the meantime, the United States could be exceedingly useful in cementing Sunni or Shiite power over each other. Neither side wants to wind up dominated by the other. Neither wants the Americans to stay in Iraq permanently, but the United States does not want to stay permanently either. A few years hardly makes a major difference in an area where history is measured in millennia.

The simple assumption is that most Iraqis want the Americans out. That is a true statement, but not a sufficient one. A truer statement is this: Most Iraqis want the Americans out, but are extremely interested in what happens after they leave. Given that, the proper statement is: Most Iraqis want the Americans out, but are prepared to use the Americans toward their ends while they are there, and want them to leave in a manner that will maximize their own interests in a postwar Iraqi world.

That is the lever that the Americans have, and that they seem to have been playing in the past year. It is a long step down from the days when the Department of Defense skirmished with the State Department about which of them would govern postwar Iraq, on the assumption that those were the only choices. Unpleasant political choices will have to be made in Iraq, but the United States now has a standpoint from which to manipulate the situation and remain in Iraq while it exerts pressure in the region. In the end -- grand ambitions notwithstanding -- that is what the United States came for in the first place.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


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« Reply #73 on: April 30, 2004, 03:48:57 PM »
Al-Sadr and the Law of Diminishing Returns
April 29, 2004   1712 GMT


Muqtada al-Sadr's Iran-based mentor appears to be distancing himself from his prot?g?. Chronic chaos in Iraq is highly unpalatable from Iran's perspective, and this move could signal an agreement among Washington, Tehran and Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani over the standoff in An Najaf.


Muqtada al-Sadr's Iran-based mentor, Grand Ayatollah Kazem Hossein Haeri, no longer supports al-Sadr's uprising against U.S. forces in An Najaf. In an interview with AFP in Qom, Haeri's younger brother, Ayatollah Mohammed Hossein Haeri, said, "For us to approve of the activities of Muqtada al-Sadr, he would need to coordinate with our office in An Najaf, something he has not been doing. Neither Ayatollah Haeri nor any other Iraqi religious leader has declared jihad, so one cannot attack the occupation forces -- unless they attack Iraqis, then they have the right to defend themselves."

This is the first clear statement separating the mainstream Shiite leadership from the actions of al-Sadr, whose forces are engaged in a standoff with U.S. forces in An Najaf.

At its core, the statement signals that the Iranians still want to work with the United States in managing Iraq. This is no small achievement for Washington. Since Iraq's population is majority Shia, any permanent resolution in Iraq will be colored by U.S.-Iranian relations.

Second, the statement makes clear that the portion of the Islamic leadership most tightly affiliated with al-Sadr feels he is overstepping his religious and political bounds. Haeri's statement could mean Iran will try to rein in al-Sadr; if they fail, they will not interfere when the United States moves against him.

Finally, and more speculatively, it is possible that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is nearing an agreement with the United States to defuse the situation in An Najaf. The recent U.S. agreement with the Sunnis of Al Fallujah is likely a key factor pushing al-Sistani's negotiations with Washington. Al-Sistani will not be outflanked by the Sunnis if he can help it, which is exactly why Washington made the Al Fallujah deal in the first place. Iran wants an Iraq that is whole, at peace, Shiite-controlled and Iranian influenced -- not one that resembles the wrong side of the gates of hell. They do, after all, live next door.

The best way to make the 30-year-old al-Sadr simmer down is to send him a blunt message from his mentor -- the same mentor whose backing allowed al-Sadr to advance his position to its current level.

In short, this move demonstrates that Iran -- despite all posturing -- continues to work with the United States to attain its goals of a unified Iraq dominated by its Arab Shiite allies. While Iran and the Iraqi Shia might be able to achieve most of what they had hoped for, the real winner in this latest round is the United States. Sunnis are patrolling Sunnis in Al Fallujah, Iranian Shia are reining in Iraqi Shia, and for the first time in weeks, there is a serious possibility that no major combat will take place anywhere in the country.

Al Fallujah: New Deal More Than a Cease-Fire?
April 29, 2004   1624 GMT


U.S. Marines announced an agreement to quell the fighting in Al Fallujah. This accord represents not only a cease-fire on the ground, but also a broader willingness by the United States to deal directly with the Sunni insurgents in Iraq at the expense of its alliance with the Shiite majority.


U.S. military officials April 29 outlined an accord to end -- at least temporarily -- fighting in Al Fallujah. This is not the first time a cease-fire has been announced during the nearly month-old standoff with Sunni insurgents.

The last cease-fire occurred earlier in April and was the result of the first negotiations between U.S. forces and Sunni insurgents -- albeit through Al Fallujah city officials. Stratfor noted at the time that such talks amounted to the "Great Satan" sitting down and chatting with "terrorists," something that both sides repeatedly had sworn would never happen.

At that point, Stratfor raised the question: "If an agreement can be reached -- and enforced -- in Al Fallujah, then why not in the Sunni Triangle? Why not in Iraq? Why not elsewhere?" We also pointed out that the player who would be most upset -- and isolated -- by the cease-fire would be Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the de facto leader of Iraq's Shiite community. Until that cease-fire, al-Sistani's influence allowed him to play hardball with the United States. The cease-fire raised the possibility that the United States was just as capable of working with the Sunnis as it was with the Shia. If that were to be the case, al-Sistani's currency would plummet.

The United States essentially has agreed in the new accord to cede responsibility for Al Fallujah's security to an all-Iraqi force comprised of soldiers and policemen, and commanded by a former general identified only as "Gen. Salah" -- three generals by that name served under Saddam Hussein -- from the old Iraqi regime. This force, known as the Fallujah Protection Army (FPA), will be wholly responsible for patrolling and securing Al Falljuah, but will remain under the command of the U.S. 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

The Marines will not wholly abandon Al Fallujah, but will withdraw from the city proper and not engage in cordoning it off. They will remain in the area. The pullout began today with Marines in the city's southern industrial district being told to pack up their gear and disengage. As of this writing, there were no new reports of fighting.

The terms of this deal represent a sea change in the U.S. attitude toward the Sunni insurgency. Not only did the United States not make any substantive demands -- at least publicly -- on the insurgents, but also they appear willing to entrust the fate of the city to an all-Iraqi force commanded by a man who served as a general for Saddam. The deal brings tentative stability to Al Fallujah, but on a much larger scale, it brings another element to the coalition's national strategy in Iraq.

From the U.S. point of view -- and more importantly, al-Sistani's -- this is much more than a cease-fire. This agreement with Sunni insurgents comes at a time when U.S. forces are poised to strike into An Najaf in order to root out rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The Sunnis remain a force to be reckoned with, but a deal is done that has a strong prognosis. The only way it would seem it could break down in the next few days is if the Al Fallujah insurgents are feeling extremely frisky in large numbers -- and decide to charge across open ground to engage dug-in U.S. Marines.

The Shia, however, are faced with a United States that not only has freed a military hand to employ elsewhere, but also feels secure enough to trust a Sunni force to patrol a Sunni city that has displayed a tendency, even a desire, to kill Americans. Such a state of affairs forces al-Sistani to seriously reassess his position.


 Al Fallujah: New Deal More Than a Cease-Fire?
April 29, 2004   1624 GMT


U.S. Marines announced an agreement to quell the fighting in Al Fallujah. This accord represents not only a cease-fire on the ground, but also a broader willingness by the United States to deal directly with the Sunni insurgents in Iraq at the expense of its alliance with the Shiite majority.


U.S. military officials April 29 outlined an accord to end -- at least temporarily -- fighting in Al Fallujah. This is not the first time a cease-fire has been announced during the nearly month-old standoff with Sunni insurgents.

The last cease-fire occurred earlier in April and was the result of the first negotiations between U.S. forces and Sunni insurgents -- albeit through Al Fallujah city officials. Stratfor noted at the time that such talks amounted to the "Great Satan" sitting down and chatting with "terrorists," something that both sides repeatedly had sworn would never happen.

At that point, Stratfor raised the question: "If an agreement can be reached -- and enforced -- in Al Fallujah, then why not in the Sunni Triangle? Why not in Iraq? Why not elsewhere?" We also pointed out that the player who would be most upset -- and isolated -- by the cease-fire would be Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the de facto leader of Iraq's Shiite community. Until that cease-fire, al-Sistani's influence allowed him to play hardball with the United States. The cease-fire raised the possibility that the United States was just as capable of working with the Sunnis as it was with the Shia. If that were to be the case, al-Sistani's currency would plummet.

The United States essentially has agreed in the new accord to cede responsibility for Al Fallujah's security to an all-Iraqi force comprised of soldiers and policemen, and commanded by a former general identified only as "Gen. Salah" -- three generals by that name served under Saddam Hussein -- from the old Iraqi regime. This force, known as the Fallujah Protection Army (FPA), will be wholly responsible for patrolling and securing Al Falljuah, but will remain under the command of the U.S. 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

The Marines will not wholly abandon Al Fallujah, but will withdraw from the city proper and not engage in cordoning it off. They will remain in the area. The pullout began today with Marines in the city's southern industrial district being told to pack up their gear and disengage. As of this writing, there were no new reports of fighting.

The terms of this deal represent a sea change in the U.S. attitude toward the Sunni insurgency. Not only did the United States not make any substantive demands -- at least publicly -- on the insurgents, but also they appear willing to entrust the fate of the city to an all-Iraqi force commanded by a man who served as a general for Saddam. The deal brings tentative stability to Al Fallujah, but on a much larger scale, it brings another element to the coalition's national strategy in Iraq.

From the U.S. point of view -- and more importantly, al-Sistani's -- this is much more than a cease-fire. This agreement with Sunni insurgents comes at a time when U.S. forces are poised to strike into An Najaf in order to root out rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The Sunnis remain a force to be reckoned with, but a deal is done that has a strong prognosis. The only way it would seem it could break down in the next few days is if the Al Fallujah insurgents are feeling extremely frisky in large numbers -- and decide to charge across open ground to engage dug-in U.S. Marines.

The Shia, however, are faced with a United States that not only has freed a military hand to employ elsewhere, but also feels secure enough to trust a Sunni force to patrol a Sunni city that has displayed a tendency, even a desire, to kill Americans. Such a state of affairs forces al-Sistani to seriously reassess his position.


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« Reply #74 on: May 12, 2004, 01:15:06 AM »
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11 May 2004

The Edge of the Razor


The strategy of the United States in its war with radical Islam is in a state
of crisis. The global strategic framework is in much better shape than the
tactical situation in the Iraq theater of operations -- but this is of only
limited comfort to Washington because massive tactical failure in Iraq could lead to strategic collapse. The situation is balanced on the razor's edge. The United States could recover from its tactical failures, or suffer a
massive defeat if it fails to do so. One thing is certain: The United States
cannot remain balanced on the razor's edge indefinitely.


Most wars reach a moment of crisis, when the outcome hangs in the balance and in which weakness and errors, military or political, can shape victory or put it permanently out of reach. Sometimes these moments of crisis come suddenly and are purely military, such as the Battle of Midway. Sometimes they are a long time brewing and are primarily political in nature, like the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. These are moments when planning, judgment and luck can decide victors -- and when bad planning, lack of judgment and bad luck can undermine the best and brightest. It is the moment when history balances on the razor's edge. The U.S.-Islamist war is now, it seems to us, balanced on that edge.

There are some who argue that it is not reasonable to speak of the
confrontation between the United States and al Qaeda as a war. It certainly does not, in any way, resemble World War II. It is nevertheless very much a war. It consists of two sides that are each making plans, using violence and attempting to shape the political future of a major region of the globe -- the Muslim world. One side masses large forces, the other side disperses much smaller forces throughout the globe. But the goals are the goals of any war: to shape the political future. And the means are the same as in any war: to kill sufficient numbers of the enemy in order to break his will to fight and resist. It might not look like wars the United States has fought in the past, but it is most certainly a war -- and it is a war whose outcome is in doubt.

On a strategic level, the United States has been the victor since the Sept.
11 attacks. Yet strategic victories can be undermined by massive tactical
failures, and this is what the United States is facing now. Iraq is a single
campaign in a much broader war. However, as frequently occurs in wars,
unintended consequences dominate the battlefield. The United States intended to occupy Iraq and move on to other campaigns -- but failures in planning, underestimation of the enemy and command failures have turned strategic victory into a tactical nightmare. That tactical nightmare is now threatening to undermine not only the Iraqi theater of operations, but also the entire American war effort. It is threatening to reverse a series of al Qaeda defeats. If the current trend continues, the tactical situation will undermine U.S. strategy in Iraq, and the collapse of U.S. strategy in Iraq could unravel the entire U.S. strategy against al Qaeda and the Islamists. The question is whether the United States has the honesty to face the fact that it is a crisis, the imagination to craft a solution to the problems in Iraq and the luck that the enemy will give it the time it needs to regroup.

That is what war looks like on the razor's edge.

The Strategic Situation

In the midst of the noise over Iraq, it is essential to grasp the strategic
balance and to understand that on that level, the United States has done
relatively well. To be more precise, al Qaeda has done quite poorly. It is
one of the paradoxes of American war-fighting that, having failed to
articulate coherent goals, the Bush administration is incapable of pointing
to its real successes. But this is an excruciatingly great failure on the
part of the administration. It was Napoleon who said, "The moral is to the
physical as 3-1," by which he meant that how a nation or army views its
successes is more important than what its capabilities are. The failure to
tend to the morale of the nation, to articulate a strategy and demonstrate
progress, is not a marginal failure. It is the greatest possible failure of
political leadership in wartime.

Nevertheless al Qaeda has failed in its most fundamental goal. There has been no mass rising in the Islamic world, nor has a single Muslim government fallen. Nor, for that matter, has a single Islamic government shifted its position in support of al Qaeda. To the contrary, a series of Muslim governments -- the most important of which is Saudi Arabia -- have shifted their positions toward active and effective opposition to al Qaeda. The current attacks by al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia are a reflection of the shift in Saudi policy that has occurred since just before the invasion of Iraq.

Saudi Arabia is far from the only country to have shifted its strategy. Iran
-- for all of its bombast -- has, through complex back-channel negotiations
with the United States as well as a complex re-evaluation of its strategic
position, changed its behavior since January 2002. Syria, while still not
fully in control, has certainly become more circumspect in its behavior.
Prior to the Iraq war, these governments ranged from hostile to
uncooperative; they since have shifted to a spectrum ranging from minimally cooperative to fully cooperative.

Since the United States could not hunt down al Qaeda, cell by cell and
individual by individual, it devised an alternative strategy that is less
effective in the short run but more effective in the long run -- and the only
strategy available. Washington sought to change the behavior of enabling
countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, by making the potential threat from the United States greater than the potential threat from al Qaeda. By occupying Iraq and surrounding Saudi Arabia with military forces, the United States compelled a reluctant and truculent Riyadh to comply with American wishes.

In the long run, changes in the behavior of these governments -- and of other Muslim governments, from Islamabad to Tripoli -- represent the only way to defeat al Qaeda. To the simplistic American question of, "Are we safer today than we were a year ago?" the answer is, "Probably not." To the question of whether the United States is on a path that might make it safer in five years, the answer is "Probably yes," assuming the U.S. effort doesn't collapse under the weight of its pyramiding mistakes in Iraq.

We would argue that the political shifts in the Muslim world that have helped the United States were aided significantly by the invasion of Iraq. We would certainly agree that Islamic opposition to the United States solidified -- we doubt that there was much room for intensification -- but we would also argue that opinion is significant to the extent to which it turns into war-fighting capability. The Poles despised the Germans and the Japanese were not fond of the Americans, but neither could expel the occupier simply on the strength of public opinion. It is the shifts in government policy that contained radical Islamist tendencies that should be the focal point, and the invasion of Iraq served that purpose.

Tactical Failures?

It is at that point that things started to go wrong -- not with the grand
strategy of the United States, but with the Iraq strategy itself. A string of
intelligence failures, errors in judgment and command failures have conspired to undermine the U.S. position in Iraq and reverse the strategic benefits. These failures included:

* A failure to detect that preparations were under way
for a guerrilla war in the event that Baghdad fell.

* A failure to quickly recognize that a guerrilla war was under way in Iraq,
and a delay of months before the reality was recognized and a strategy
developed for dealing with it.

* A failure to understand that the United States did not have the resources
to govern Iraq if all Baathist personnel were excluded.

* A failure to understand the nature of the people the United States was
installing in the Iraqi Governing Council -- and in particular, the complex
loyalties of Ahmed Chalabi and his relationship to Iraq's Shia and the
Iranian government. The United States became highly dependent on individuals about whom it lacked sufficient intelligence.

* A failure to recognize that the Sunni guerrillas were regrouping in
February and March 2004, after their defeat in the Ramadan offensive.

* Completely underestimating the number of forces needed for the occupation of Iraq, and cavalierly dismissing accurate Army estimates in favor of lower estimates that rapidly became unsupportable.

* Failing to step up military recruiting in order to increase the total
number of U.S. ground forces available on a worldwide basis. Failing to
understand that the difference between defeating an army and occupying a country had to be made up with ground forces.

These are the particular failures. The general failures are a compendium of every imaginable military failing:

* Failing to focus on the objective. Rather than remembering why U.S. forces were in Iraq and focusing on that, the Bush administration wandered off into irrelevancies and impossibilities, such as building democracy and eliminating Baath party members. The administration forgot its mission.

* Underestimating the enemy and overestimating U.S. power. The enemy was intelligent, dedicated and brave. He was defending his country and his home. The United States was enormously powerful but not omnipotent. The casual dismissal of the Iraqi guerrillas led directly to the failure to anticipate and counter enemy action.

* Failure to rapidly identify errors and rectify them through changes of
plans, strategies and personnel. Error is common in war. The measure of a military force is how honestly errors are addressed and rectified. When a command structure begins denying that self- evident problems are facing them, all is lost. The administration's insistence over the past year that no fundamental errors were committed in Iraq has been a cancer eating through all layers of the command structure -- from the squad to the office of the president.

* Failing to understand the political dimension of the war and permitting
political support for the war in the United States to erode by failing to
express a clear, coherent war plan on the broadest level. Because of this
failure, other major failures -- ranging from the failure to find weapons of
mass destruction to the treatment of Iraqi prisoners -- have filled the space that strategy should have occupied. The persistent failure of the president to explain the linkage between Iraq and the broader war has been symptomatic of this systemic failure.

Remember the objective; respect the enemy; be your own worst critic; exercise leadership at all levels -- these are fundamental principles of warfare. They have all been violated during the Iraq campaign.

The strategic situation, as of March 2004, was rapidly improving for the
United States. There was serious, reasonable discussion of a final push into Pakistan to liquidate al Qaeda's leadership. Al Qaeda began a global
counterattack -- as in Spain -- that was neither unexpected nor as effective as it might have been. However, the counterattack in Iraq was both unexpected and destabilizing -- causing military and political processes in Iraq to separate out, and forcing the United States into negotiations with the Sunni guerrillas while simultaneously trying to manage a crisis in the Shiite areas. At the same time that the United States was struggling to stabilize its position in Iraq, the prison abuse issue emerged. It was devastating not only in its own right, but also because of the timing. It generated a sense that U.S. operations in Iraq were out of control. From Al Fallujah to An Najaf to Abu Ghraib, the question was whether anyone had the slightest idea what they were trying to achieve in Iraq.

Which brings us back to the razor's edge. If the United States rapidly
adjusts its Iraq operations to take realities in that country into account,
rather than engaging on ongoing wishful thinking, the situation in Iraq can
be saved and with it the gains made in the war on al Qaeda. On the other
hand, if the United States continues its unbalanced and ineffective
prosecution of the war against the guerrillas and continues to allow its
relations with the Shia to deteriorate, the United States will find itself in
an untenable position. If it is forced to withdraw from Iraq, or to so limit
its operations there as to be effectively withdrawn, the entire dynamic that
the United States has worked to create since the Sept. 11 attacks will
reverse itself, and the U.S. position in the Muslim world -- which was fairly
strong in January 2004 -- will deteriorate, and al Qaeda's influence will
increase dramatically.

The Political Crisis

It is not clear that the Bush administration understands the crisis it is
facing. The prison abuse pictures are symptomatic -- not only of persistent
command failure, but also of the administration's loss of credibility with
the public. Since no one really knows what the administration is doing, it is
not unreasonable to fill in the blanks with the least generous assumptions.
The issue is this: Iraq has not gone as planned by any stretch of the
imagination. If the failures of Iraq are not rectified quickly, the entire
U.S. strategic position could unravel. Speed is of the essence. There is no
longer time left.

The issue is one of responsibility. Who is responsible for the failures in
Iraq? The president appears to have assumed that if anyone were fired, it
would be admitting that something went wrong. At this point, there is no one who doesn't know that many things have gone wrong. If the president insists on retaining all of his senior staff, Cabinet members and field commanders, no one is going to draw the conclusion that everything is under control; rather they will conclude that it is the president himself who is responsible for the failures, and they will act accordingly.

The issue facing Bush is not merely the prison pictures. It is the series of
failures in the Iraq campaign that have revealed serious errors of judgment and temperament among senior Cabinet-level officials. We suspect that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is finished, and with him Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Vice President Dick Cheney said over the weekend that everyone should get off of Rumsfeld's case. What Cheney doesn't seem to grasp is that there is a war on and that at this moment, it isn't going very well. If the secretary of defense doesn't bear the burden of failures and misjudgments, who does? Or does the vice president suggest a no-fault policy when it comes to war? Or does he think that things are going well?

This is not asked polemically. It is our job to identify emerging trends, and
we have, frequently, been accused of everything from being owned by the
Republicans to being Iraq campaign apologists. In fact, we are making a non-partisan point: The administration is painting itself into a corner that will cost Bush the presidency if it does not deal with the fact that there is no one who doesn't know that Iraq has been mismanaged. The administration's only option for survival is to start managing it effectively, if that can be done at this point.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Guest
« Reply #75 on: May 12, 2004, 04:28:01 PM »
News has been very glum of late.  This is not.-- Crafty (in Bern, Switzerland)


Geopolitical Diary: Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The confrontation in An Najaf appears to be coming to an end, the tactical
outcome similar to Al Fallujah. Qais al-Khazali, chief aide to Muqtada
al-Sadr, said, "Agreement has been reached on all points of contention. This agreement represents all shades of the Shiite political spectrum." Under the agreement, the United States would hand over security in An Najaf to a locally based force that could include some members of al-Sadr's militia.   Maj. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey-- who commands the 1st Armored Division, which has responsibility over An Najaf -- said inclusion of al-Sadr's brigades in the security force would be acceptable.

There are now two cases in which the U.S. solution to an Iraqi insurgency
has been to decline combat in the city, create an Iraqi security force with
an ambiguous relationship to the guerrillas and withdraw from responsibility for the city. One case is an event. Two cases make a policy. Having established this solution in both Sunni and Shiite areas, two things are obvious. The guerrillas can, if they choose, force similar arrangements in other cities simply by digging in and holding on. Second, the United States is not averse to giving control of Iraqi cities to Iraqis, regardless of their political persuasion.

In Al Fallujah and An Najaf, the politics of the situation were extremely
complicated. The insurgents had complex relationships with the residents and civilian leaders in the cities. No one wanted the Americans inside the
cities, but on the other hand, there was deep distrust of the guerrillas'
intentions and the consequences of continued fighting. By withdrawing from Al Fallujah and An Najaf, the United States unleashed forces that led to the containment of the guerrillas by indigenous political forces.

This makes sense. The United States has no interest in governing Iraq -- or logically should not. Iraq is a base of operations in the region. The idea
that the United States would reshape Iraqi political life was predicated
upon the assumption that after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq would be a blank page on which the United States could sketch whatever it wished. But Iraq is a complex nation -- and certainly not a blank page. Washington does not have the power to redefine its political culture.

Nor, for that matter, should Washington have been interested in doing so. In the final analysis, the United States has no national interest in Iraqi
life. It has an interest in destroying al Qaeda and therefore an interest in
being in a position to affect the behavior toward al Qaeda of countries in
the region. The United States wants its troops in Iraq. But the ultimate
form of mission creep was the move from invading and using Iraqi territory for follow-on operations to occupying and redefining the nature of Iraqi society. The United States is enormously powerful. It is not omnipotent.

What happens inside Iraqi society -- and therefore inside Iraq's cities --
is of interest to the United States in only two senses: first, whether Iraq
facilitates operations by al Qaeda and related groups; second, whether the
United States can influence events in surrounding countries. There is a
basis for a political settlement here. The Shia are not friends of the
Wahhabi-influenced al Qaeda. The United States has no interest in internal
Islamic affairs.

Iraq is a large country. Most of the population is located to the north and
east of the Euphrates River. To the south and west are lightly inhabited
regions bordering Syria and Saudi Arabia. There is a line of supply to
Kuwait, and another one can be established into Turkey. On this side of the river, you can see guerrillas coming. You can also see -- and be seen -- by the Saudis and Syrians, who are at this point far more significant than the Iraqis.

The An Najaf-Al Fallujah model should be seen as a model for a broader
settlement. The populated urban areas of Iraq, north and east of the
Euphrates, can be left to the Iraqis to deal with, using native security
forces mixed as the Iraqis see fit. U.S. forces can move out of this area to
the other side of the Euphrates, where they can use their presence to
influence events in surrounding countries without causing friction with the
Iraqis. Even if the guerrillas want to get to the U.S. forces, it will be a
lot harder. Moreover, the leadership of the Iraqi communities -- which are
not all that fond of Iraqi guerrillas, let alone foreign jihadists -- can be
left to deal with the situation, requesting help when they need it and
getting it if the United States wants to send it.

In this scenario, there need be no handover of sovereignty, no
constitutional convention, to complicate negotiations. There is an
established local leadership throughout Iraq. The United States announces
victory, turns over the keys and gets out of the way. This does not carry
the grandeur of building democracy in Iraq, but it has the virtue of
actually being possible.

This -- or something like it -- is where the United States is going to come
out. Washington is re-evaluating its Iraq strategy. It cannot simply leave.
It cannot remain in the urban areas. If we take An Najaf and Al Fallujah and turn them into a general model for Iraq, a solution emerges. It solves the core problem: No amount of troops can impose peace on Iraq. Peace is the Iraqis' problem. The U.S. problem is to assure that no nation state provides support for al Qaeda so that it can be slowly strangled.


  • Guest
Dancing Alone
« Reply #76 on: May 13, 2004, 06:52:13 AM »
May 13, 2004
      Dancing Alone

      It is time to ask this question: Do we have any chance of succeeding
at regime change in Iraq without regime change here at home?

      "Hey, Friedman, why are you bringing politics into this all of a
sudden? You're the guy who always said that producing a decent outcome in
Iraq was of such overriding importance to the country that it had to be kept
above politics."

      Yes, that's true. I still believe that. My mistake was thinking that
the Bush team believed it, too. I thought the administration would have to
do the right things in Iraq ? from prewar planning and putting in enough
troops to dismissing the secretary of defense for incompetence ? because
surely this was the most important thing for the president and the country.
But I was wrong. There is something even more important to the Bush crowd
than getting Iraq right, and that's getting re-elected and staying loyal to
the conservative base to do so. It has always been more important for the
Bush folks to defeat liberals at home than Baathists abroad. That's why they
spent more time studying U.S. polls than Iraqi history. That is why, I'll
bet, Karl Rove has had more sway over this war than Assistant Secretary of
State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns. Mr. Burns knew only what would
play in the Middle East. Mr. Rove knew what would play in the Middle West.

      I admit, I'm a little slow. Because I tried to think about something
as deadly serious as Iraq, and the post- 9/11 world, in a nonpartisan
fashion ? as Joe Biden, John McCain and Dick Lugar did ? I assumed the Bush
officials were doing the same. I was wrong. They were always so slow to
change course because confronting their mistakes didn't just involve
confronting reality, but their own politics.

      Why, in the face of rampant looting in the war's aftermath, which dug
us into such a deep and costly hole, wouldn't Mr. Rumsfeld put more troops
into Iraq? Politics. First of all, Rummy wanted to crush once and for all
the Powell doctrine, which says you fight a war like this only with
overwhelming force. I know this is hard to believe, but the Pentagon crew
hated Colin Powell, and wanted to see him humiliated 10 times more than
Saddam. Second, Rummy wanted to prove to all those U.S. generals whose Army
he was intent on downsizing that a small, mobile, high-tech force was all
you needed today to take over a country. Third, the White House always knew
this was a war of choice ? its choice ? so it made sure that average
Americans never had to pay any price or bear any burden. Thus, it couldn't
call up too many reservists, let alone have a draft. Yes, there was a
contradiction between the Bush war on taxes and the Bush war on terrorism.
But it was resolved: the Bush team decided to lower taxes rather than raise
troop levels.

      Why, in the face of the Abu Ghraib travesty, wouldn't the
administration make some uniquely American gesture? Because these folks have
no clue how to export hope. They would never think of saying, "Let's close
this prison immediately and reopen it in a month as the Abu Ghraib Technical
College for Computer Training ? with all the equipment donated by Dell, H.P.
and Microsoft." Why didn't the administration ever use 9/11 as a spur to
launch a Manhattan project for energy independence and conservation, so we
could break out of our addiction to crude oil, slowly disengage from this
region and speak truth to fundamentalist regimes, such as Saudi Arabia?
(Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.) Because that might have
required a gas tax or a confrontation with the administration's oil
moneymen. Why did the administration always ? rightly ? bash Yasir Arafat,
but never lift a finger or utter a word to stop Ariel Sharon's massive
building of illegal settlements in the West Bank? Because while that might
have earned America credibility in the Middle East, it might have cost the
Bush campaign Jewish votes in Florida.

      And, of course, why did the president praise Mr. Rumsfeld rather than
fire him? Because Karl Rove says to hold the conservative base, you must
always appear to be strong, decisive and loyal. It is more important that
the president appear to be true to his team than that America appear to be
true to its principles. (Here's the new Rummy Defense: "I am accountable.
But the little guys were responsible. I was just giving orders.")

      Add it all up, and you see how we got so off track in Iraq, why we are
dancing alone in the world ? and why our president, who has a strong moral
vision, has no moral influence.

      Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company | Home | Privacy Policy |
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  • Guest
« Reply #77 on: May 13, 2004, 03:32:02 PM »
Woof Russ:

The piece you post is not without power.  To the list of shortcomings, I would add the drip drip drip of funds to work projects and the like.  People getting paid fairly to build something their country needs are what we want and they needed and the top of the chain of command should have seen to it that this was happening instead of the usual bureaucratic SNAFU.  



  • Guest
« Reply #78 on: May 15, 2004, 01:08:32 PM »
Please forward this Terrorism Intelligence Weekly to a friend or


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Improvements in Western Intelligence

By Fred Burton

Western tensions over the safety of corporate assets in the
Middle East -- particularly in Saudi Arabia -- have ratcheted
higher during the past month amid a stream of government security
warnings and several deadly attacks and militant shootouts.

Though the concerns and the level of violence within Saudi Arabia
are hardly unprecedented, the credibility of alerts issued by the
United States and other Western governments is on the rise.
Consider the following examples:

*  April 13: The United States issued a Warden Message cautioning
Westerners about threats against diplomatic and other official
facilities and neighborhoods in Riyadh. Two days later, a U.S.
travel warning "strongly urged" Americans to leave the kingdom.
On April 19 and 20, Saudi officials announced seizures of
vehicles carrying explosives. On April 21, a car bomb was
detonated in front of a Saudi intelligence facility in Riyadh,
killing several people.

*  April 27: Jordanian officials claimed to have foiled an al
Qaeda chemical bomb plot targeting the country's intelligence
services. The plot allegedly involved trucks packed with 20 tons
of explosives.

*  April 29: The U.S. State Department issued a worldwide
caution, warning of deep concerns over the safety of U.S.
interests abroad -- and noting that government officials have not
ruled out a nonconventional al Qaeda attacks in the United States
or elsewhere. On May 1, gunmen killed five Westerners --
including two Americans -- at the offices of Swiss oil contractor
ABB Lummus in Yanbu. The shooters later were praised in a
statement, purportedly from al Qaeda's top official in Saudi
Arabia, carried on the Islamist Web site Sawt al-Jihad.

*  European security services recently have announced several
militant roundups and "foiled plots" against specific targets. On
April 21, British newspapers reported the discovery of a bombing
plot against a football stadium -- possibly the field used by
Manchester United -- and the arrest of 10 suspects. A well-placed
counterterrorism source later told Stratfor that the sweep -- the
second major roundup in Britain in less than a month -- was
conducted less to thwart a specific attack than as a very public
pre-emptive action to reassure citizens of their safety. On May
4, Turkish police said they detained 16 suspected members of the
al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Islam, accused of planning bombing
attacks against the NATO summit that is scheduled to take place
in Istanbul in June.

The contrast with past intelligence warnings is stark: In
December 2003, the State Department authorized the voluntary
departure of diplomats' family members -- but more than a month
after the bombing of a Western housing compound in Riyadh killed
17 people. A similar communique, which ordered the departure of
nonessential U.S. personnel and their dependents, was issued May
13, 2003 -- a day after another housing compound bombing that
claimed 34 lives.

Taken together, the recent incidents indicate the United States
and its allies are armed with increasingly actionable
intelligence from their sources in the Middle East, Pakistan and
elsewhere. Although al Qaeda might remain, in the intelligence
community's words, a "ghost" or an elusive hydra, the community's
failures prior to the Sept. 11 attacks no longer can justify
ongoing complacency toward its warnings about the risks of
attacks. The government alerts also cannot be dismissed merely as
attempts to elicit "chatter" or otherwise improve officials' view
into the threat from radical Islam.

These events indicate that at least some parts of the U.S.
counterterrorism community have reached a crucial milestone in
their operational and analytical capabilities -- which aids their
ability to predict al Qaeda's next moves and other emerging
threats. It is in light of this assessment that threats issued
specifically against the domestic United States, in addition to
Western assets overseas, could be viewed as credible.

Security Cooperation: An Improving View

One of the first questions this assessment raises is whether this
same level of intelligence capability exists globally, or merely
in a few isolated regions?

While it is clear some weaknesses remain -- for example,
Washington had no warning prior to the March 11 train bombings in
Madrid -- it appears that U.S. counterterrorism collection has
improved greatly in the past few months. Sources in Washington
tell Stratfor that both human intelligence and technical
collection capabilities -- such as wiretaps and other methods --
significantly have increased in conjunction with coordinated
intelligence and law enforcement efforts around the world.
Western intelligence services and analytical think tanks -- such
as MI6, the Center for Strategic International Studies and the
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation -- along with the
services of "friendly" Middle Eastern nations such as Jordan,
specifically have aided Washington's tactical and strategic
capabilities and helped in interdicting attacks.

Moreover, foiled attacks and post-op investigations in other
countries, such as Britain and Spain, have yielded a flurry of
data: Pocket litter from detainees, phone numbers, forensic
evidence, fingerprints, travel documents and other items can be
shared with allied intelligence services to generate new leads
for counterterrorism officials to run down.

It is conceivable these achievements prompted the allegedly
planned or actual attacks against the allied intelligence
services in Riyadh and Amman in recent weeks.

The U.S. Risk Environment

For its part, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also has
grown increasingly proactive in the wake of the March 11 attacks
in Spain, turning its passenger screening efforts to the nation's
rail system -- doubtless armed with intelligence that indicated
rail and bus lines were vulnerable to a Madrid-style strike.
Trusted law enforcement sources tell Stratfor they are watching
for threats to bomb buses during the summer travel season (likely
as the result of human intelligence reports or interrogation of
al Qaeda suspects), though some commercial bus lines still do not
employ luggage-screeners.

Stratfor previously predicted that a terrorist attack is
possible, if not likely, within the United States prior to the
November presidential elections. Logic reinforces this view from
both a geostrategic and tactical standpoint.

Though it has not achieved its goal of ousting any secular
governments within the Muslim world, al Qaeda learned in Spain
that it is possible, with a well-timed attack, to overturn a
sitting government in the Western Hemisphere; in its view, few
prizes could be greater than forcing U.S. President George W.
Bush out of office. U.S. government officials appear to support
this view: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice recently
said the opportunity for terrorists to impact the presidential
election would "be too good to pass up," and the April 29 warning
issued by the State Department also concludes that al Qaeda might
attempt "a catastrophic attack" within the United States.

Where might such an attack occur?

In light of the recent plots targeting the Jordanian and Saudi
intelligence services, it would seem that CIA headquarters in
Langley, Va., or Britain's MI6 headquarters could be targets --
though they would not be easily struck. Langley, for example, has
an excellent standoff perimeter to protect it from Oklahoma City-
style truck bombings. Militants would need some way of getting
past those defenses -- such as a fuel-laden aircraft or a Jordan-
style tactical operation, using a designated team to eliminate
guards and move the truck bomb within striking distance of the

Much more vulnerable targets, in our view, are likely to be found
in Washington, D.C. (a symbolic city, where the brain trust of
"Crusader" actions against the Middle East is found); New York
City (the nation's economic hub, and home to a large Jewish
population); and Texas -- Bush's backyard -- though visible
targets are more easily found in major cities such as Houston or
Dallas than in the capital city of Austin.

West Coast cities such as Los Angeles -- where several plots
reportedly have been foiled -- also cannot be discounted as
targets: Al Qaeda has shown a propensity in the past to return
time and again to favored fishing holes. Such cities also are
home to major corporations, which carry political, symbolic and
strategic value: Al Qaeda believes that if the U.S. economy
crashes, the war effort overseas could not continue. In one of
the most recent tape recordings attributed to him, Osama bin
Laden specifically mentioned some American corporations as likely

Though there is no hard evidence, logic argues that the next
major attack within the United States or allied countries could
just as easily be a "dirty bomb" -- a possibility noted in the
April 29 State Department warning as well as by foreign security
services -- as a Madrid-style transportation bombing. Trusted
U.S. government sources say this is a viable attack scenario; and
it is not inconceivable that some type of chemical agent could be
dispersed through the use of an improvised explosive device. The
Jordanian authorities and the alleged leader of the foiled plot
in Amman claimed that attack was to have a chemical component,
though that claim is questionable. At any rate, chemicals such as
ammonia, chlorine or sodium cyanide are easily obtained when
compared to radioactive material or even anthrax, with its proven
panic potential.

The "shock and awe" psychological effects of such an attack would
ripple throughout the country and resonate as a great success
with Islamist radicals around the world -- a credibility coup for
which al Qaeda has been searching in order to further its own
political goals in the Middle East.

The point is not that al Qaeda could have new means or motives to
launch a dirty bomb attack -- this has been a U.S. fear, and
perceived risk, since Sept. 11. Rather, it is that the U.S.
intelligence community's increasingly proactive track record --
combined with the specificity of targets mentioned in recent
warnings and growing consensus about the window of opportunity
for a fresh attack -- lend a new aura of credibility and urgency
to ongoing warnings.

In the war against militant Islam, it seems the United States no
longer is flying completely blind.

Counterterrorism and security expert Fred Burton recently joined
Stratfor's executive staff. Click here
( for more details
about his background and new role with Stratfor.


  • Guest
« Reply #79 on: May 16, 2004, 03:52:28 PM »
Iraqi General Urges Support of U.S. Troops

Sun May 16, 2:54 PM ET  Add Top Stories - AP to My Yahoo!

By KATARINA KRATOVAC, Associated Press Writer

FALLUJAH, Iraq - A former Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)-era general appointed by the Americans to lead an Iraqi security force in the rebellious Sunni stronghold of Fallujah urged tribal elders and sheiks Sunday to support U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq (news - web sites).

AP Photo

 Slideshow: Iraq


Retired Maj. Gen. Mohammed Abdul-Latif rose to prominence after nearly monthlong battles last month between the Marines monthlong battles in April between the Marines and insurgents hunkered down in Fallujah's neighborhoods.

"We can make them (Americans) use their rifles against us or we can make them build our country, it's your choice," Latif told a gathering of more than 40 sheiks, city council members and imams in an eastern Fallujah suburb.

The siege of this city of 200,000 people, located about 40 miles west of Baghdad, was lifted when top Marine officers announced the creation of the Fallujah Brigade ? a force made exclusively of former Iraqi army officers.

The Marines withdrew from Fallujah into the rural hinterland and far-flung suburbs, allowing the Iraqi force to take up positions and start patrols inside the city. The brigade is expected to number about 1,500 men, many of them conscripts or noncommissioned officers under Saddam.

They are expected to fight the guerrillas, although some of the same insurgents who fought the Marines last month will likely join the brigade.

On Sunday, Marines of the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment provided security for the gathering in Kharma.

Latif, 66, a native of Baghdad, urged the elders to talk freely, citing the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

"The Quran says we should sit together, discuss and make a decision, but let it be the right decision," the silver-haired Latif ? a slim figure wearing a blue shirt and dark blue tie and pants ? told the sheiks.

The venue offered a rare insight into Latif's interactions and influence over Fallujah elders. As he spoke, many sheiks nodded in approval and listened with reverence to his words. Later, they clasped his hands and patted Latif on the back.

Latif, speaking in Arabic to the sheiks, defended the Marines and the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

"They were brought here by the acts of one coward who was hunted out of a rathole ? Saddam ? who disgraced us all," Latif said. "Let us tell our children that these men (U.S. troops) came here to protect us.

"As President Bush (news - web sites) said, they did not come here to occupy our land but to get rid of Saddam. We can help them leave by helping them do their job, or we can make them stay ten years and more by keeping fighting."

Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, the Marine battalion commander, said, "No truer words have been spoken here today than those by General Latif."

Latif also told the insurgents to "stop doing stupid things."

"Those bullets that are fired will not get the Americans out, let them finish their job here so that they can return to their country," Latif said.

"Our country is precious, stop allowing the bad guys to come from outside Iraq to destroy our country."


Latif, a former military intelligence officer said to have been imprisoned by Saddam and exiled, praised the former Iraqi army.

"The army used to be honest until Saddam made the men turn into beasts, take bribes, betray their own country," he said. "The real army is the army that works hard to serve its own citizens, with courage and strength."

After the meeting, Latif told The Associated Press that the situation in Fallujah has greatly improved, that "winds of peace" prevail in the city and the people that fled the fighting have returned. He would not elaborate on the size or current activities of the Fallujah Brigade.

"Let us speak about peace," Latif said in English. "Fallujah was an open wound, now it's healing."

posted by Tommy Paine


  • Guest
« Reply #80 on: May 18, 2004, 01:53:41 AM »
17 May 2004

Iraq: New Strategies

By George Friedman

Last week, Stratfor published an analysis, "The Edge of the
Razor," that sketched out the problems facing the United States
in Iraq. In an avalanche of responses, one important theme stood
out: Readers wanted to know what we would do, if we were in a
position to do anything. Put differently, it is easy to catalogue
problems, more difficult to provide solutions.

The point is not only absolutely true, but lies at the heart of
intelligence. Intelligence organizations should not give policy
suggestions. First, the craft of intelligence and state-craft are
very different things. Second, and far more important,
intelligence professionals should always resist the temptation to
become policy advocates because, being mostly human, intelligence
analysts want to be right -- and when they are advocates of a
strategy, they will be tempted to find evidence that proves that
policy to be correct and ignore evidence that might prove the
policy in error. Advocating policies impairs the critical
faculties. Besides, in a world in which opinions are commonplace,
there is a rare value in withholding opinions. Finally,
intelligence, as a profession, should be neutral. Now, we are far
from personally neutral in any affecting our country, but in our
professional -- as opposed to our personal lives -- our task is
look at the world through the eyes of all of the players.
Suggesting a strategy for defeating one side makes that obviously

That said, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
We normally try to figure out what is going to happen, what other
people are going to do -- whether they know it or not -- and
explain the actions of others. At times, people confuse
Stratfor's analysis for our political position. This time -- this
once -- we will write for ourselves -- or more precisely, for
myself, since at Stratfor our views on the war range even wider
than those among the general public.

The Mission

The United States' invasion of Iraq was not a great idea. Its
only virtue was that it was the best available idea among a
series of even worse ideas. In the spring of 2003, the United
States had no way to engage or defeat al Qaeda. The only way to
achieve that was to force Saudi Arabia -- and lesser enabling
countries such as Iran and Syria -- to change their policies on
al Qaeda and crack down on its financial and logistical systems.
In order to do that, the United States needed two things. First,
it had to demonstrate its will and competence in waging war --
something seriously doubted by many in the Islamic world and
elsewhere. Second, it had to be in a position to threaten follow-
on actions in the region.

There were many drawbacks to the invasion, ranging from the need
to occupy a large and complex country to the difficulty of
gathering intelligence. Unlike many, we expected extended
resistance in Iraq, although we did not expect the complexity of
the guerrilla war that emerged. Moreover, we understood that the
invasion would generate hostility toward the United States within
the Islamic world, but we felt this would be compensated by
dramatic shifts in the behavior of governments in the region. All
of this has happened.

The essential point is that the invasion of Iraq was not and
never should have been thought of as an end in itself. Iraq's
only importance was its geographic location: It is the most
strategically located country between the Mediterranean and the
Hindu Kush. The United States needed it as a base of operations
and a lever against the Saudis and others, but it had no interest
-- or should have had no interest -- in the internal governance
of Iraq.

This is the critical point on which the mission became complex,
and the worst conceivable thing in a military operation took
place: mission creep. Rather than focus on the follow-on
operations that had to be undertaken against al Qaeda, the Bush
administration created a new goal: the occupation and
administration of Iraq by the United States, with most of the
burden falling on the U.S. military. More important, the United
States also dismantled the Iraqi government bureaucracy and
military under the principle that de-Baathification had to be
accomplished. Over time, this evolved to a new mission: the
creation of democracy in Iraq.

Under the best of circumstances, this was not something the
United States had the resources to achieve. Iraq is a complex and
multi-layered society with many competing interests. The idea
that the United States would be able to effectively preside over
this society, shepherding it to democracy, was difficult to
conceive even in the best of circumstances. Under the
circumstances that began to emerge only days after the fall of
Baghdad, it was an unachievable goal and an impossible mission.
The creation of a viable democracy in the midst of a civil war,
even if Iraqi society were amenable to copying American
institutions, was an impossibility. The one thing that should
have been learned in Vietnam was that the evolution of political
institutions in the midst of a sustained guerrilla war is

The administration pursued this goal for a single reason: From
the beginning, it consistently underestimated the Iraqis'
capability to resist the United States. It underestimated the
tenacity, courage and cleverness of the Sunni guerrillas. It
underestimated the political sophistication of the Shiite
leadership. It underestimated the forms of military and political
resistance that would limit what the United States could achieve.
In my view, the underestimation of the enemy in Iraq is the
greatest failure of this administration, and the one for which
the media rarely hold it accountable.

This miscalculation drew the U.S. Army into the two types of
warfare for which it is least suited.

First, it drew the Army into the cities, where the work of
reconstruction -- physical and political -- had to be carried
out. Having dismantled Iraqi military and police institutions,
the Army found itself in the role of policing the cities. This
would have been difficult enough had there not been a guerrilla
war. With a guerrilla war -- much of it concentrated in heavily
urbanized areas and the roads connecting cities -- the Army found
itself trapped in low-intensity urban warfare in which its
technical advantages dissolved and the political consequences of
successful counterattacks outweighed the value of defeating the
guerrillas. Destroying three blocks of Baghdad to take out a
guerrilla squad made military sense, but no political sense. The
Army could neither act effectively nor withdraw.

Second, the Army was lured into counterinsurgency warfare. No
subject has been studied more extensively by the U.S. Army, and
no subject remains as opaque. The guerrilla seeks to embed
himself among the general population. Distinguishing him is
virtually impossible, particularly for a 20-year-old soldier or
Marine who speaks not a word of the language nor understands the
social cues that might guide him. In this circumstance, the
soldier is simply a target, a casualty waiting to happen.

The usual solution is to raise an indigenous force to fight the
guerrillas. The problem is that the most eager recruits for this
force are the guerrillas themselves: They not only get great
intelligence, but weapons, ammunition and three square meals a
day. Sometimes, pre-existing militias are used, via a political
arrangement. But these militias have very different agendas than
those of the occupying force, and frequently maneuver the
occupier into doing their job for them.


The United States must begin by recognizing that it cannot
possibly pacify Iraq with the force available or, for that
matter, with a larger military force. It can continue to patrol,
it can continue to question people, it can continue to take
casualties. However, it can never permanently defeat the
guerrilla forces in the Sunni triangle using this strategy. It
certainly cannot displace the power and authority of the Shiite
leadership in the south. Urban warfare and counterinsurgency in
the Iraqi environment cannot be successful.

This means the goal of reshaping Iraqi society is beyond the
reach of the United States. Iraq is what it is. The United
States, having performed the service of removing Saddam Hussein
from power, cannot reshape a society that has millennia of
layers. The attempt to do so will generate resistance -- while
that resistance can be endured, it cannot be suppressed.

The United States must recall its original mission, which was to
occupy Iraq in order to prosecute the war against al Qaeda. If
that mission is remembered, and the mission creep of reshaping
Iraq forgotten, some obvious strategic solutions re-emerge. The
first, and most important, is that the United States has no
national interest in the nature of Iraqi government or society.
Except for not supporting al Qaeda, Iraq's government does not
matter. Since the Iraqi Shia have an inherent aversion to Wahabbi
al Qaeda, the political path on that is fairly clear.

The United States now cannot withdraw from Iraq. We can wonder
about the wisdom of the invasion, but a withdrawal under pressure
would be used by al Qaeda and radical Islamists as demonstration
of their core point: that the United States is inherently weak
and, like the Soviet Union, ripe for defeat. Having gone in,
withdrawal in the near term is not an option.

That does not mean U.S. forces must be positioned in and near
urban areas. There is a major repositioning under way to reduce
the size of the U.S. presence in the cities, but there is,
nevertheless, a more fundamental shift to be made. The United
States undertook responsibility for security in Iraq after its
invasion. It cannot carry out this mission. Therefore, it has to
abandon the mission. Some might argue this would leave a vacuum.
We would argue there already is a vacuum, filled only with
American and coalition targets. It is not a question of creating
anarchy; anarchy already exists. It is a question of whether the
United States wishes to lose soldiers in an anarchic situation.

The geography of Iraq provides a solution.

Click here to see Potential U.S. Basing Locations

The bulk of Iraq's population lives in the Tigris and Euphrates
valleys. To the south and west of the Euphrates River, there is a
vast and relatively uninhabited region of Iraq -- not very hospitable,
but with less shooting than on the other side. The western half of
Iraq borders Saudi Arabia and Syria, two of the countries about
which the United States harbors the most concern. A withdrawal
from the river basins would allow the United States to carry out
its primary mission -- maintaining regional pressure -- without
engaging in an impossible war. Moreover, in the Kurdish regions
of the northeast, where U.S. Special Forces have operated for a
very long time, U.S. forces could be based -- and supplied -- in
order to maintain a presence on the Iranian border.

Iraq should then be encouraged to develop a Shiite-dominated
government, the best guarantor against al Qaeda and the greatest
incentive for the Iranians not to destabilize the situation. The
fate of the Sunnis will rest in the deal they can negotiate with
the Shia and Kurds -- and, as they say, that is their problem.

The United States could supply the forces in western and southern
Iraq from Kuwait, without the fear that convoy routes would be
cut in urban areas. In the relatively uninhabited regions,
distinguishing guerrillas from rocks would be somewhat easier
than distinguishing them from innocent bystanders. The force
could, if it chose, execute a broad crescent around Iraq,
touching all the borders but not the populations.

The Iraqi government might demand at some point that the United
States withdraw, but they would have no way to impose their
demand, as they would if U.S. forces could continue to be picked
off with improvised explosive devices and sniper fire. The
geographical move would help to insulate U.S. forces from even
this demand, assuming political arrangements could not be made.
Certainly the land is inhospitable, and serious engineering and
logistical efforts would be required to accommodate basing for
large numbers of troops. However, large numbers of troops might
not be necessary -- and the engineering and logistical problems
certainly will not make headlines around the world.

Cutting Losses

Certainly, as a psychological matter, there is a retreat. The
United States would be cutting losses. But it has no choice. It
will not be able to defeat the insurgencies it faces without
heavy casualties and creating chaos in Iraqi society. Moreover, a
victory in this war would not provide the United States with
anything that is in its national interest. Unless you are an
ideologue -- which I am not -- who believes bringing American-
style democracy to the world is a holy mission, it follows that
the nature of the Iraqi government -- or chaos -- does not affect

What does affect me is al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is trying to kill me.
Countries such as Saudi Arabia permitted al Qaeda to flourish.
The presence of a couple of U.S. armored divisions along the
kingdom's northern border has been a very sobering thought. That
pressure cannot be removed. Whatever chaos there is in Saudi
Arabia, that is the key to breaking al Qaeda -- not Baghdad.

The key to al Qaeda is in Riyadh and in Islamabad. The invasion
of Iraq was a stepping-stone toward policy change in Riyadh, and
it worked. The pressure must be maintained and now extended to
Islamabad. However, the war was never about Baghdad, and
certainly never about Al Fallujah and An Najaf. Muqtada al-Sadr's
relationship to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and the makeup of
the elders in Al Fallujah are matters of utter and absolute
indifference to the United States. Getting drawn into those
fights is in fact the quagmire -- a word we use carefully and

But in the desert west and south of the Euphrates, the United
States can carry out the real mission for which it came. And if
the arc of responsibility extends along the Turkish frontier to
Kurdistan, that is a manageable mission creep. The United States
should not get out of Iraq. It must get out of Baghdad, Al
Fallujah, An Najaf and the other sinkholes into which the
administration's policies have thrown U.S. soldiers.

Again, this differs from our normal analysis in offering policy
prescriptions. This is, of course, a very high-level sketch of a
solution to an extraordinarily complex situation. Nevertheless,
sometimes the solution to complex situations is to simplify them.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


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« Reply #81 on: May 20, 2004, 12:21:54 PM »

1158 GMT -- IRAN -- Iran dismissed May 20 the possibility of an Israeli
attack against its nuclear facilities. Iranian Minister of Defense Rear Adm.
Ali Shamkhani said, "Israel is too vulnerable to materialize its threat."
The remarks from Shamkhani come after recent reports that Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon during his trip to Washington last month discussed
with U.S. President George W. Bush possible Israeli plans to attack Iran's
nuclear facilities if Tehran gets close to developing a nuclear weapon.


Geopolitical Diary: Thursday, May 20, 2004

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz admitted today what everyone has known for months: The United States underestimated the determination of Saddam Hussein and his intelligence service to resist the occupation in Iraq. Wolfowitz said, "I would say of all the things that were underestimated, the one that almost no one that I know of predicted was to
properly estimate the resilience of the regime that had abused this country
for 35 years."

This is an extraordinarily important statement. Wolfowitz is one of the key
American strategists. Until Wolfowitz -- and by implication Rumsfeld --
publicly acknowledged their miscalculation of the regime's resilience, there
was no possibility of a serious adjustment of strategy. That and the
admission that the United States did not know how many troops would be
required and for how long set the two poles in place for a strategic
re-evaluation. Having been wrong about the enemy's capabilities and
intentions, prior strategic estimates are out the window. There is no valid
forecast at this point. In the world of strategy, the lack of a forecast on
something as basic as troop levels means there must be a comprehensive
review. No one can argue any longer that what the United States is doing is
working. That opens the door to the inevitable strategic re-evaluation.

While Wolfowitz's statement finally opens the door to the future, we will
permit ourselves one final look at the past. Wolfowitz said that almost no
one he knew "properly" estimated the level of resistance. That is certainly
true, if by "properly" you mean describing the nature of the guerrilla war.
But there were many -- Stratfor included -- who argued that the Hussein
regime was not going to go quietly into that good night if they had a
choice. We also argued that they had prepared for this moment for years, and certainly had a postwar plan.

The issue therefore is if the core question is whether others precisely
estimated the type of resistance, or whether they estimated that there would probably be substantial resistance. The criticism of the administration is not that it failed to anticipate the exact type of resistance, but that it dismissed the idea of significant resistance -- in the short and long term -- at all. Statements from the Department of Defense prior to the war were dismissive of the Iraqis in the extreme as a fighting force, and the kind of plans DOD made for the postwar world indicated it did not anticipate any serious problems.

There are two charges to be leveled at Wolfowitz. The first is that he
failed to allow for any resilience in the Iraqi resistance. The far more
serious charge is that he continued to deny the seriousness of the
resistance for months after it was a problem -- in fact, denying it publicly
up to this point. This directly led to a strategy that could not succeed
because it was based on a fundamental misreading of the situation.

With that said, let us now all agree that Wolfowitz has conceded the
obvious. The question therefore is: What will he do about it? Uncertainty is
embedded in war. The craft of the strategist, however, is to minimize
uncertainty using planning that begins with a precise estimate of the
situation on the ground and proceeds from that to a plan based on the
resources available. The uncertainty about troop levels is rooted at this
point in the fact that a precise appreciation of the situation is only now
developing, and that no strategy will emerge until that is in place.

The challenge is this. The appreciation of the situation must be developed
from U.S. intelligence services: CIA, Defense Intelligence and Army Military Intelligence. These are the same organizations that failed to provide an accurate appreciation of the situation in the first place. However blame is allocated among them, the collective outcome was unacceptable. The question that will have to be asked is this: In what way have these intelligence organizations changed their practices so that strategists can have confidence that their estimates are reliable? Or put differently, what changes is Wolfowitz making in his own staff to ensure, first, that the estimates are reliable, and second, that they are properly utilized?

We are now back where we began. What is the mission? What is the situation on the ground? What are the available resources? What is the strategy?  Wolfowitz said that he did not expect the current troop levels in Iraq at this point. An honest answer, but incomplete. The complete answer is that he did not expect to be grappling with these questions a year later. Wolfowitz is a student of Thucydides. A careful reading of "The History of the Peloponnesian War" would be appropriate, not so much to understand what will happen, but to understand what can happen when expectations and reality diverge.


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« Reply #82 on: May 22, 2004, 04:43:43 PM »
Season of Apologies
It?s time for reckless critics to own up.

Victor Hansen; National Review Online

President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld were both asked to apologize recently for the illegal and amoral behavior of a few miscreant soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. They did so without qualifications, despite the fact the military had itself uncovered the transgressions and already prepared a blistering indictment of such reprehensible acts. Media scrutiny was intense; a general has already been removed from command; court trials are scheduled; and more resignations, demotions, and jail time loom.

But since we are in the season of apologies, we might as well continue it to the bitter end. Here I do not mean the buffoons like Michael Moore whose remorse would be as spurious as the original slander was lunatic, but rather serious commentators and statesmen who have crossed the line and need to step back. So here it goes.

Ted Kennedy is the senior U.S. senator from Massachusetts. He wields enormous influence and has appointed himself as surrogate spokesman for the Democratic opposition. Yet here is how he recently weighed in about Abu Ghraib: "Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management ? U.S. management."

This slander is both untrue and dangerous at a time when thousands of Americans are under fire in the field from commandos and criminals without uniforms who often pose as innocent civilians. The slur, pompously and publicly aired, is a morally reprehensible pronouncement in almost every way imaginable inasmuch as Saddam murdered tens of thousands with the full sanction of the Iraqi state apparatus. In contrast, a few rogue U.S. soldiers may have tortured and sexually humiliated some Iraqi prisoners ? evoking audit and censure at the highest levels of "U.S. management" and inevitable court martial for those directly involved. There is no evidence that the "torture chambers" that disemboweled, shredded, and hung prisoners on meat hooks are now "reopened" for similar procedures on orders of the American government.

Mr. Kennedy should apologize. His reckless and feeble attempts at moral equivalence are wrong in matters of magnitude, government responsibility, and public disclosure, remorse, and accountability. Worse still, his silly comments ? printed around the Arab world ? suggest to the those on the battlefield that a high-ranking official of their own American government believes that his own soldiers are fighting for a cause no different from that which murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Thomas L. Friedman is the chief New York Times columnist now writing about foreign affairs. Millions at home and abroad read what he writes, and trust him to be both sober and judicious in his criticism. We have all read him with profit at times. But in a particularly angry opinion editorial on May 13 he leveled the following baffling charge: "I know this is hard to believe, but the Pentagon crew hated Colin Powell, and wanted to see him humiliated 10 times more than Saddam."

That charge is simply untrue, and is nearly as reckless as Mr. Kennedy's remarks. Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides do not "hate" Mr. Powell. No one has expressed such venom. But what is truly reprehensible is to imply that officials of the United States government wished far worse for their own decorated Secretary of State than they did for a mass murderer with whom they were then currently at war. Once more such a malicious remark will do untold damage abroad. If Mr. Friedman cannot produce a reputable source or direct quotation for such an unfortunate attribution that borders on character assassination, he should apologize for being both wrong and incendiary.

So far we know as much about the Oil-for-Food mess as we do the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal. Other than the sensational pictorial evidence from the prisons, the only difference in the respective ongoing audits is that the U.S. military is fully investigating its own while the U.N. is stonewalling. But if dozens of Iraqis may have been humiliated and perhaps even tortured by renegade American soldiers, tens of thousands of women and children faced starvation while corrupt U.N. officials at the highest levels knew about billions of needed dollars in illegal kickbacks skimmed off hand-in-glove with a mass murderer.

So far Kofi Annan ? whose own son, Kojo, was at one time associated with the Swiss Cotecna consortium involved in the shameful profiteering ? has not apologized to the Iraqi people. He should. Again, his agency's wrongdoing did not result in humiliation for some, but probably cost the lives of thousands while under his watch.

What is going on? The months of April and May have been surreal ? scandals at Abu Ghraib, decapitations and desecrations of those killed from Gaza to Iraq, and insurrections in Fallujah and Najaf. The shock of the unexpected has led to hysteria and cheap TV moralizing by critics of the war, fueled by election-year politics at home, apparent embarrassment for some erstwhile supporters of the intervention who are angry that democracy in Iraq has not appeared fully-formed out of the head of Zeus, and a certain amnesia about the recent dark history of the United Nations.

Yet there are historical forces still in play that bode well for Iraq ? aid pouring in, oil revenues increasing, Iraqi autonomy nearing, and radical terrorists failing to win public support ? all of which we are ignoring amid the successive 24-hour media barrages. The combat deaths of 700 soldiers are tragic. We in our postwar confusion have also made a number of mistakes: not storming into the Sunni Triangle at war's end, not shooting the first 500 looters that started the mass rampage of theft, not keeping some of the Iraqi army units intact, not bulldozing down Saddam Hussein's notorious prisons, not immediately putting at war's end Iraqi officials into the public arena, not storming Fallujah, and not destroying al Sadr and his militias last spring.

Still, in just a year the worst mass murderer in recent history is gone and a consensual government is scheduled to assume power in his place in just a few weeks. Postwar Iraq is not a cratered Dresden or the rubble of Stalingrad ? it is seeing power, water, and fuel production at or above prewar levels. For all the recent mishaps, two truths still remain about Iraq ? each time the American military forcibly takes on the insurrectionists, it wins; and each time local elections are held, moderate Iraqis, not Islamic radicals, have won.

So let us calm down and let events play out. If it were not an election year, Mr. Kennedy would dare not say such reprehensible things. In two or three months when there is a legitimate Iraqi government in power, Mr. Friedman may not wish to level such absurd charges. And when the truth comes out about the U.N.'s past role in Iraq, both Iraqis and Americans may not be so ready to entrust the new democracy's future to an agency that has not only done little to save Bosnians or Rwandans, but over the past decade may well have done much to harm Iraqis.

But in the meantime, let these who have transgressed all join the president and the secretary of defense and say they are sorry for what they have recklessly said and the untold harm that they have done.


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« Reply #83 on: May 28, 2004, 11:28:54 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Friday, May 28, 2004

Muqtada al-Sadr has agreed to pull out of An Najaf without receiving any
official guarantee of amnesty on murder charges and without agreeing to
disband his militia. The withdrawal was not negotiated by the United States, but by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's representatives. This action
promotes the April rising that nearly wrecked U.S. strategy in Iraq toward

The rising -- both Sunni and Shia -- has created a new reality in Iraq. The
United States has refused to become deeply engaged in two cities: Al
Fallujah and An Najaf. In Al Fallujah, it has negotiated with the Sunnis,
allowing de facto control over the city and permitting guerrillas to
participate in governance. In An Najaf, a Shiite city, the United States has
refused to engage al-Sadr in any way that would damage Shiite shrines.
Instead, it has essentially created a situation where al-Sistani would
either take care of the matter or leave al-Sadr permanently in place. Now
that al-Sadr is withdrawing, we can expect forces under al-Sistani to take
control of the city.

The United States has created a similar situation on two occasions -- it is
no longer an isolated incident -- and is not prepared to take responsibility
for controlling urban areas in the face of sustained resistance. The United
States is prepared to allow local forces -- regardless of composition -- to
work out the political and security situation for themselves. Where there
are lower levels of resistance, the United States is prepared to take part
in patrolling, but it is no longer prepared to take responsibility for all
of Iraq under any and all circumstances.

This is a huge change in U.S. thinking about Iraq since this time last year.
This tactic also has become an inevitable change. There were no options. The United States was not in a position, politically or in terms of forces, to
engage in a massive urban counterinsurgency. The capitulation to reality -- which is precisely what this is -- relies on primary and practicable
missions, rather than on secondary and impossible missions. This shift
ultimately is far more important than any scheduled change in sovereignty June 30. The new Iraqi government will have no power over the situation on the ground; that will be in the hand of local forces.

The other change in strategy was al-Sistani's, who believed he had the
Americans in the bag when he stimulated the al-Sadr rising and then leaned back to watch Americans wipe him out. He was stunned when Americans refused to play their role in his drama, instead doing the unthinkable and negotiating a deal with the Sunni guerrillas. Al-Sistani's move caused the United States to completely reconsider its relationship with the Shia. The entire set of Iraqi National Congress official Ahmed Chalabi's revelations was designed to make it clear to al-Sistani that U.S. tolerance of his maneuvers had reached an end. Al-Sistani was left to clean up his own mess, with no better -- or no worse -- deal than the Sunnis received. But the core message was this: Al-Sistani will not have Iraq handed to him on a silver platter by the Americans. If he wants it, he will have to fight for it -- and not with the Americans.

We have seen two cycles in which attacks against the Americans surged and died away in Iraq. It is impossible to say that there will not be a third.
It is possible to say this cycle is being closed out. Given emerging
realities, the United States could reduce its exposure before the next wave can be organized.

Of potentially greater significance was the news that a top al Qaeda leader has called for an urban guerrilla war in Saudi Arabia, according to a statement on several jihadist Web sites. Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin offered a
detailed list of steps that militants should follow to succeed in a fight
against Riyadh. Depending on how this situation breaks in the coming months, the situation in Saudi Arabia could become far more important than the situation in Iraq.


(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


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« Reply #84 on: May 28, 2004, 08:55:18 PM »
My second post today:

Overdoing Chalabi

By George Friedman

On Feb. 19, in a piece entitled "Ahmed Chalabi and His Iranian
Connection," Stratfor laid out the close relationship Chalabi had
with the Iranians, and the role that relationship played in the
flow of intelligence to Washington prior to the war. This week,
the story of Chalabi, accused of being an Iranian agent by U.S.
intelligence, was all over the front pages of the newspapers. The
media, having ignored Chalabi's Iranian connections for so long,
went to the other extreme -- substantially overstating its

The thrust of many of the stories was that the United States was
manipulated by Iran -- using Chalabi as a conduit -- into
invading Iraq. The implication was that the United States would
have chosen a different course, except for Chalabi's
disinformation campaign. We doubt that very much. First, the
United States had its own reasons for invading Iraq. Second, U.S.
and Iranian interests were not all that far apart in this case.
Chalabi was certainly, in our opinion, working actively on behalf
or Iranian interests -- as well as for himself -- but he was
merely a go-between in some complex geopolitical maneuvering.

Iran wanted the United States to invade Iraq. The Iranians hated
Saddam Hussein more than anyone did, and they feared him. Iran
and Iraq had fought a war in the 1980s that devastated a
generation of Iranians. More than Hussein, Iraq represented a
historical threat to Iran going back millennia. The destruction
of the Iraqi regime and army was at the heart of Iranian national
interest. The collapse of the Soviet Union had for the first time
in a century secured Iran's northern frontiers. The U.S. invasion
of Afghanistan secured the Shiite regions of Afghanistan as a
buffer. If the western frontier could be secured, Iran would
achieve a level of national security it had not known in

What Iran Wanted

Iran knew it could not invade Iraq and win by itself. Another
power had to do it. The failure of the United States to invade
and occupy Iraq in 1991 was a tremendous disappointment to Iran.
Indeed, the primary reason the United States did not invade Iraq
was because it knew the destruction of the Iraqi army would leave
Iran the dominant power native to the Persian Gulf. Invading Iraq
would have destroyed the Iraq-Iran balance of power that was the
only basis for what passed for stability in the region.

The destruction of the Iraqi regime would not only have made Iran
secure, but also would have opened avenues for expansion. First,
the Persian Gulf region is full of Shia, many of them oriented
toward Iran for religious reasons. For example, the loading
facilities for Saudi oil is in a region dominated by the Shia.
Second, without the Iraqi army blocking Iran, there was no
military force in the region that could stop the Iranians. They
could have become the dominant power in the Persian Gulf, and
only the permanent stationing of U.S. troops in the region would
have counterbalanced Iran. The United States did not want that,
so the conquest of Kuwait was followed by the invasion -- but not
the conquest -- of Iraq. The United States kept Iraq in place to
block Iran.

Iran countered this policy by carefully and systematically
organizing the Shiite community of Iraq. After the United States
allowed a Shiite rising to fail after Desert Storm, Iranian
intelligence embarked on a massive program of covert organization
of the Iraqi Shia, in preparation for the time when the Hussein
regime would fall. Iranian intentions were to create a reality on
the ground so the fall of Iraq would inevitably lead to the rise
of a Shiite-dominated Iraq, allied with Iran.

What was not in place was the means of destroying Hussein.
Obviously, the Iranians wanted the invasion and Chalabi did
everything he could to make the case for invasion, not only
because of his relationship with Iran, but also because of his
ambitions to govern Iraq. Iran understood that an American
invasion of Iraq would place a massive U.S. Army on its western
frontier, but the Iranians also understood that the United States
had limited ambitions in the area. If the Iranians cooperated
with U.S. intelligence on al Qaeda and were not overly aggressive
with their nuclear program, the two major concerns of the United
States would be satisfied and the Americans would look elsewhere.

The United States would leave Iraq in the long run, and Iran
would be waiting patiently to reap the rewards. In the short run,
should the United States run into trouble in Iraq, it would
become extremely dependent on the Iranians and their Shiite
clients. If the Shiite south rose, the U.S. position would become
untenable. Therefore if there was trouble -- and Iranian
intelligence was pretty sure there would be -- Shiite influence
would rise well before the Americans left.

Chalabi's job was to give the Americans a reason to invade, which
he did with stories of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). But he
had another job, which was to shield two critical pieces of
information from the Americans: First, he was to shield the
extent to which the Iranians had organized the Shiite south of
Iraq. Second, he was to shield any information about Hussein's
plans for a guerrilla campaign after the fall of Baghdad. These
were the critical things -- taken together, they would create the
dependency the Iranians badly wanted.

What the United States Wanted

The Americans were focused on another issue. The balance of power
in the Persian Gulf was not a trivial matter to them, but it had
taken on a new cast after Sept. 11. For the United States, the
central problem in the Persian Gulf -- and a matter of urgent
national security -- was the unwillingness of Saudi intelligence
and security services to move aggressively against al Qaeda
inside the kingdom. From the U.S. viewpoint, forcing Saudi Arabia
to change its behavior was the overriding consideration; without
that, no progress against al Qaeda was possible.

The United States did not see itself as having many levers for
manipulating the situation in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were
convinced that ultimately the United States would not be able to
take decisive action against the Saudis, and the Saudi government
was more concerned about the internal political consequences of a
crackdown on al Qaeda, than it was about the United States. It
felt confident it could manage the United States as it had in the

The United States did not want to invade Saudi Arabia. The House
of Saud was the foundation of Saudi stability, and the United
States did not want it to fall. It wanted to change the Saudi
strategy. Invading Saudi Arabia could have led to global economic
disaster if oil shipments were disrupted. Finally, the invasion
of Saudi Arabia, given its size, terrain and U.S. resources, was
a difficult if not impossible task. The direct route would not
work. The United States would take an indirect route.

If you wanted to frighten Saudi Arabia into changing its behavior
without actually launching military operations against it, the
way to do that would be: (a) demonstrate your will by staging an
effective military campaign; and (b) wind up the campaign in a
position to actually invade and take Saudi oil fields if they did
not cooperate. The Saudis doubted U.S. will and military capacity
to do them harm (since Kuwait would never permit its territory to
be used to invade Saudi Arabia). The solution: an invasion of

The United States wanted to invade Iraq as an indirect route to
influence Saudi Arabia. As in any military operation, there were
also subsidiary political goals. The United States wanted to get
rid of Hussein's regime, not because it was complicit with al
Qaeda, but because it might later become complicit. Secondly, it
wanted to use Iraqi territory as a base to pressure Syria and
Iran as well.

Chalabi's claims about Iraqi WMD did not instigate the invasion,
because the United States did not invade Iraq to get rid of WMD.
An invasion would be the most dangerous route for doing that,
because the other side might actually surprise you and use the
weapons on your troops. You would use air strikes and special
operations troops. What Chalabi did by providing his intelligence
was, however, not insignificant. The administration had two
goals: the destruction of al Qaeda and protection of the United
States from WMD. By producing evidence of WMD in Iraq, Chalabi
gave Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz the tool they needed. By
introducing evidence of WMD, they triggered an automatic policy
against Iraq having them, which closed off an argument -- not
really a raging argument -- in the administration. It was
important, but not earth shattering.

There was a deeper dimension to this. The strategic planners in
the administration were old enough to remember when Richard Nixon
began the process that broke the back of the Soviet Union -- his
alliance with China against the Soviets. During World War II, the
United States allied with Stalin against Hitler, preventing a
potential peace agreement by Stalin. The United States had a
known policy of using fault lines among potential enemies to
split them apart, allying with the weaker against the stronger.
If the United States allying with Stalin or Mao was not
considered beyond the pale, then the Bush administration planners
had another alliance in mind.

The fault line in the Islamic world is between Sunni and Shia.
The Sunni are a much larger group than the Shia, but only if you
include countries such as Indonesia. Within the Persian Gulf
region, the two groups are highly competitive. Al Qaeda was a
Sunni movement. Following U.S. grand strategy, logic held that
the solution to the problem was entering into an alliance of
sorts with the Shia. The key to the Shia was the major Shiite
power -- Iran.

The United States worked with Iranian intelligence during the
invasion of Afghanistan, when the Iranians arranged relationships
with Shiite warlords like Ahmed Khan. The United States and Iran
had cooperated on a number of levels for years when it concerned
Iraq. Therefore there were channels open for collaboration.

The United States was interested not only in frightening Saudi
Arabia, but also in increasing its dependence on the United
States. The United States needed a lever strong enough to break
the gridlock in Riyadh. An invasion of Iraq would achieve the
goal of fear. An alliance with Iran would create the dependency
that was needed. The Saudis would do anything to keep the
Iranians out of their oil fields and their country. After the
invasion of Iraq, only the United States could stop them. The
Saudis were trapped by the United States.

What Chalabi Didn't Say

What is important to see here is how the Iranians were using the
Americans, and how the Americans were using the Iranians. Chalabi
was an important channel, but hardly the only one. It is almost
certain that his role was well known. Chalabi was probably left
in place to convince the Iranians that the United States was
naive enough to believe them, or he was there simply as a token
of good faith. But nothing he said triggered the invasion.

It was what he did not say that is significant. Chalabi had to
know that the Iranians controlled the Iraqi Shia. It is possible
that he even told the Pentagon that, since it wouldn't change
fundamental strategy much. But there is one thing that Chalabi
should have known that he certainly didn't tell the Americans:
that Hussein was going to wage a guerrilla war. On that point,
there is no question but that the Pentagon was surprised, and it
mattered a lot.

Chalabi did not share intelligence that the Iranians almost
certainly had because the Iranians wanted the Americans to get
bogged down in a guerrilla war. That would increase U.S.
dependence on the Shia and Iran, and would hasten the American

Iranian intelligence had penetrated deep into Iraq. The
preparations for the guerrilla war were extensive. Iran knew --
and so did Chalabi. The United States would still have invaded,
but would have been much better prepared, militarily and
politically. Chalabi did not tell the Pentagon what he knew and
that has made a huge difference in the war.

We suspect that the Pentagon intelligence offices and the CIA
both knew all about Chalabi's relation to Iranian intelligence.
The argument was not over that, but over whether this
disqualified his intelligence. The Pentagon had made up its mind
for strategic reasons to invade Iraq. Chalabi's intelligence was
of use in internal disputes in the administration, but decided
nothing in terms of policy. The CIA, understanding that Chalabi
was not really a source in the conventional sense but was a
geopolitical pawn, did not like the game, but didn't call the
Department of Defense on it until after DOD got into trouble in
Iraq -- and the CIA wanted to make certain that everyone knew it
wasn't their mistake.

Chalabi was a minor player in a dance between Iran and the United
States that began on Sept. 11 and is still under way. The United
States wants a close relationship with Iran in order to split the
Islamic world and force the Saudis to collaborate with the
Americans. The Iranians want to use the United States in order to
become the dominant power in the Persian Gulf. Each wants the
other to be its hammer. In all of this, Chalabi was only an actor
in a bit part.

The one place in which he was significant was negative -- he kept
the United States in the dark about the impending guerrilla war.
That was where he really helped Iran, because it was the
guerrilla war that locked the United States into a dependency on
the Iraqi Shia that went much farther than the United States
desired, and from which the United States is only now starting to
extricate itself. That is a major act of duplicity, but it is a
sin of omission, not commission.

In a way, the Americans and the Iranians used Chalabi for their
own purposes. The Iranians used him to screen information from
the Americans more than to give false information. The Americans
used him to try to convince the Iranians that they had a
sufficient degree of control over the situation that it was in
their interests to maintain stability in the Shiite regions. At
this point, it is honestly impossible to tell who got the better
of whom. But this much is certain. Chalabi, for all his
cleverness, is just another used up spook, trusted by no one,
trusting even fewer. Geopolitics trumps conspiracy every time.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


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« Reply #85 on: May 30, 2004, 08:58:53 AM »
Hey Crafty Dog... I think people are smart enough to go to that website and read all about it themselves, rather then you post every single bit of information from that website here.


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« Reply #86 on: May 30, 2004, 12:29:36 PM »
Wrong time of the month?


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« Reply #87 on: June 03, 2004, 06:47:50 PM »
Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia
June 03, 2004   2217 GMT

By George Friedman


The United States has clearly entered a new phase of the Iraq campaign in which its relationship with the Iraqi Shia has been de-emphasized while relationships with Sunnis have been elevated. This has an international effect as well. It obviously affects Iranian ambitions. It also helps strengthen the weakening hand of the Saudi government by reducing the threat of a Shiite rising in strategic parts of the kingdom that could threaten the flow of oil. The United States is creating a much more dynamic and fluid situation, but it is also enormously more complicated and difficult to manage.


The United States has fully entered the fourth phase of the Iraq campaign. The first phase consisted of the invasion of Iraq and the fall of Baghdad. The second was the phase in which the United States believed that it had a free hand in Iraq. It ended roughly July 1, 2003. The third phase was the period of commitment to control events in Iraq, intense combat with the Sunni guerrillas and collaboration with the Shia in Iraq and the Iranians. The fourth phase began in April with the negotiated settlement in Al Fallujah, and became official this week with the formation of the interim Iraqi government.

The new government represents the culmination of a process that began during the April uprising by Muqtada al-Sadr -- and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's unwillingness to intervene to stop the fighting and the kidnappings. Al-Sistani's behavior caused the Bush administration to reconsider a strategic principle that had governed U.S. strategy in Iraq since July 2003: the assumption that the United States could not afford to alienate al-Sistani and the Shiite community and remain in Iraq.

The problem was that the understanding the United States thought it had with the Shia was very different from the one the Shia thought they had with the United States. It would take a microscope to figure out how the disconnect occurred and how it widened into an abyss, but the basic outlines are obvious. Al-Sistani believed that by controlling the Shia during the Sunni Ramadan offensive of October-November 2003, the Shia had entered into an agreement with the United States that the sovereign government of Iraq would pass into Shiite hands as rapidly as possible.

Whether the United States had a different understanding -- or given its intelligence that the Sunni rebellion had been broken -- the fact was that by January, the United States was backing off the deal. In pressing for an interim government selected by the United States and containing heavy Sunni and Kurdish representation, and by putting off direct elections for at least a year, the United States let al-Sistani know that he was not getting what he wanted. Al-Sistani first transmitted his unhappiness through several channels, including Ahmed Chalabi. He then called for mass demonstrations. When that did not work, he maneuvered al-Sadr into rising against the Americans at the same time as the Sunnis launched an offensive west of Baghdad, particularly in Al Fallujah. Al-Sistani's goal was to demonstrate that the United States was utterly dependent on the Shia and that it had better change its thinking about the future Iraqi government.

Al-Sistani badly miscalculated. The United States did not conclude that it needed a deal with the Shia. It concluded instead that the Shia -- including Chalabi and al-Sistani -- were completely undependable allies. By striking at a moment of extreme vulnerability, the Shia crippled the U.S. Defense Department faction that had argued not only in favor of Chalabi but also in favor of alignment with the Shia. Instead, the CIA and State Department, which had argued that the Shiite alignment was a mistake, now argued -- convincingly -- that al-Sistani was maneuvering the United States into a position of complete dependency, and that the only outcome would be the surrender of power to the Shia, whose interests lay with Iran, not the United States. Following the al-Sadr rising, and al-Sistani's attempt to maneuver the United States into simultaneously protecting al-Sistani from al-Sadr and being condemned by al-Sistani for doing it, the defenders of the Shiite strategy were routed.

A fourth strategy emerged, in which the United States is trying to maintain balanced relationships with Sunnis and Shia, while currently tilting toward the Sunnis. Al Fallujah is the great symbol of this. The United States negotiated with its mortal enemy, the Sunnis, and conceded control of the city to them. What would have been utterly unthinkable during the third phase from July to March became logical and necessary in April and May. The United States is now speaking to virtually all Iraqi factions, save the foreign jihadists linked to al Qaeda. Al-Sistani has gone from being the pivot of U.S. policy in Iraq, to being a competitor for U.S. favor. It is no accident that Chalabi was publicly destroyed by the CIA over the past few weeks, or that the new Iraqi government gives no significant posts to al-Sistani supporters -- and that Shia are actually underrepresented.

The United States has recognized that it will not be able to defeat the Sunni insurgents in war without becoming utterly dependent on the Shia for stabilizing the south. Since the United States does not have sufficient force available in either place to suppress both a Sunni and a Shiite rising -- and since it has lost all confidence in the Shiite leadership -- logic has it that it needs to move toward ending the counterinsurgency. That is a political process requiring the United States to recognize the guerrillas linked to the Saddam Hussein military and intelligence service as a significant political force in Iraq, and to use that relationship as a lever with which to control the Shia. That is what happened in Al Fallujah; that is what is happening -- with much more subtlety -- in the interim government, and that is what will be playing out for the rest of the summer.

In essence, in order to gain control of the military situation, the United States has redefined the politics of Iraq. Rather than allowing the Shia to be the swing player in the three-man game, the United States is trying to maneuver itself into being the swingman. Suddenly, as the war becomes gridlocked, the politics have become extraordinarily fluid. Every ball is in the air -- and it is the United States that has become the wild card.

Changes and Consequences

The redefinition of the U.S. role in Iraq has major international consequences. The U.S. relationship with Iran reached its high point during the Bam earthquake in December 2003. The United States offered aid, and the Iranians accepted. The United States offered to send Elizabeth Dole (and a player to be named later), and this was rejected by Iran. Iran -- viewing the situation in Iraq and the U.S. relationship with the Shia, and realizing that the United States needed Iranian help against al Qaeda -- sought to rigorously define its relationship with the Americans on its own terms. It thought it had the whip hand and was using it. The United States struggled with its relationship with Iran from January until March, accepting its importance, but increasingly uneasy with the views being expressed by Tehran.

By April, the United States had another important consideration on its plate: the deteriorating situation in Saudi Arabia. The United States was the primary cause of that deterioration. It had forced the Saudi government to crack down on al Qaeda in the kingdom, and the radical Islamists were striking back at the regime. An incipient civil war was under way and intensifying. Contrary to myth, the United States did not intervene in Iraq over oil -- anyone looking at U.S. behavior over the past year can see the desultory efforts on behalf of the Iraqi oil industry -- but the United States had to be concerned about the security of oil shipments from Saudi Arabia. If those were disrupted, the global economy would go reeling. It was one thing to put pressure on the Saudis; it was another thing to accept a civil war as the price of that pressure. And it was yet another thing to think calmly about the fall of the House of Saud. But taking Saudi oil off the market was not acceptable.

The Saudis could not stop shipping oil voluntarily. They needed the income too badly. That was never a risk. However, for the first time since World War II, the disruption of Saudi oil supplies because of internal conflict or external force became conceivable. The fact was that Saudi Arabia had a large Shiite population that lived around the oil shipment points. If those shipment points were damaged or became inaccessible, all hell would break loose in the global economy.

The Iranians had a number of mutually supporting interests. First, they wanted a neutral or pro-Iranian Iraq in order to make another Iran-Iraq war impossible. For this, they needed a Shiite-dominated government. Second, they were interested in redressing the balance of power in the Islamic world between Sunnis and Shia, in particular with the Saudi Wahhabis. Finally, they wanted -- in the long run -- to become the dominant power in the Persian Gulf. Their relationship with the United States in Iraq was the linchpin for all of this.

The Saudis, having already felt the full force of American fury -- and now trapped between them and their own radicals -- faced another challenge. If the U.S. policy in Iraq remained on track, the power of Iran and the Shia would surge through the region. The Saudis had faced a challenge from the Shia right after the Khomeni revolution in Iran. They did not enjoy it, but they did have the full backing of the United States. Now they are in a position where they faced an even more intense challenge, and the United States might well stay neutral or, even worse, back the challenge. If the Shia in Saudi Arabia rose with the backing of Iran and a Shiite-dominated Iraq, the Saudi government would crumble.

From the Saudi point of view, they might be able to contain the radical Islamists using traditional tribal politics and payoffs, but facing the Wahhabis and the Shia at the same time would be impossible. The third-phase policy of entente between the United States and the Shiite-Iranian bloc seemed to guarantee a Shiite rising in Saudi Arabia in the not-too-distant future.

As U.S.-Iranian relations became increasingly strained during the winter, the Saudis increased their cooperation with the United States. They also made it clear to the Americans that they were in danger of losing their balance as the pressures on them mounted. The United States liked what it saw in the Saudi intensification of the war effort, even in the face of increased resistance. The United States did not like what it saw in Tehran, concerned that the relationship there was getting out of hand. Finally, in April, it became completely disenchanted with the Shiite leadership of Iraq.

There were therefore two layers to the U.S. policy shift. The first was internal to Iraq. The second had to do with increased concerns about the security of oil shipments from the kingdom if the Iranians encouraged a rising in Saudi Arabia. The United States did not lighten up at all on demanding full cooperation on al Qaeda. The Saudis supplied that. But the United States did not want oil shipments disrupted. In the end, the survival or demise of the House of Saud does not matter to the United States -- except to the degree that it affects the availability of oil.

The United States has to balance the pressure it puts on Saudi Arabia to fight al Qaeda against the threat of oil disruption. It cannot lighten up on either. From the American point of view, the right balance is a completely committed Saudi Arabia and freely flowing oil. The United States had moved much closer to the former, and it now needed to ensure the latter. Jerking the rug out from under the Iranians and the Shia was the U.S. answer.

Oil does not cost more than $40 a barrel because of China. It costs more than $40 a barrel because of fears that Saudi oil really could come off the market, and doubt that the complex U.S. maneuver can work. The obvious danger is an Iranian-underwritten rising in southern Iraq that spills over into Saudi Arabia. The United States has shut off its support for such an event, but the Iranians have an excellent intelligence organization with a strong covert capability. They are capable of answering in their own way.

The future at this moment is in the hands of Tehran and An Najaf. This is the point at which the degree of control the Iranians have over the Iraqi Shiite leadership will become clear. The Iranians obviously are not happy with the trends that have emerged over the past month. Their best lever is in Iraq. The Iraqi Shia are aware that the United States is increasingly limber and unpredictable -- and that it has more options than it had two months ago. The Iraqi Shia are in danger of being trapped between Washington and Tehran. It is extremely important to note that al-Sistani today tentatively endorsed the new government, clearly uneasy at the path events were taking. Therefore there are two questions: First, will the Iranians become more aggressive, abandoning their traditional caution? Second, can they get the Iraqi Shiite leaders to play their game, or will the old rift between Qom and An Najaf (the Iranian and Iraqi Shiite holy cities) emerge once again as the Shia scramble to get back into the American game.

The problem the Americans have is this: Wars are very complicated undertakings that require very simple politics. The more complicated the politics, the more difficult it is to prosecute a war. The politics of this war have become extraordinarily complicated. The complexity is almost mind-boggling. Fighting a war in this environment is tough at best -- and this is not the best. What the United States must achieve out of all of this maneuvering is a massive simplification of the war goals. This is getting way too complicated.


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« Reply #88 on: June 05, 2004, 07:29:12 AM »
This is an article from Life Magazine Jan 7 1946.  
Title is "Americans Are Losing the Victory in Europe"


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« Reply #89 on: June 07, 2004, 07:22:33 AM »
A quick comment:  I am struck by Strat's lack of reference to the Iranian efforts to complete going nuke-- and by its comment about the US increasingly being seen as reacting to pressure instead of having a coherent plan.


Geopolitical Diary: Monday, June 7, 2004

The realignment in Iraq continues to have expected political repercussions
in the region, particularly in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi events are
getting more notice in the media, but the events in Iran are both more
interesting and more ominous. Over the long run, they could pose a problem to the United States in this war that is substantially less manageable than events in Saudi Arabia -- which is saying quite a lot.

Despite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's reserved endorsement of the new
Iraqi government, Iran continues to leak ominous news. A few weeks ago, there was word that Iranian suicide squads were being trained to attack Western targets. That story went quiet for a while, but this weekend, the leaks began again. Agence France Presse moved a story on Sunday about a group called the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the World Islamic Movement -- citing an Iranian newspaper, Shargh, as the source. This time, the group had a spokesman, Mohammad Samadi, who reported that he has signed up 2,000 for the martyrs campaign. According to Samadi, "Suicide operations are the best way to fight the oppressors, and they have already shown their worth in Lebanon and during the war between Iran and Iraq."

Two things appear to be going on. First, the Iranians are letting the United
States know that al Qaeda is far from the only concern Washington will have if events continue along their current trend in Iraq. If Tehran is not going to get the deal leaders thought they had nailed down -- a neutral to
pro-Iranian government in Baghdad -- Iran will respond in exactly the way the United States doesn't want: opening a new front with suicide bombings.

Iran is also delivering a message to al Qaeda and Saudi fundamentalists.
These groups have criticized the Iranians and the Shia intensely for
collaborating with the United States, and Iran's radical credentials have
been tarnished. With these announcements, the Iranians are reasserting their claims as leaders of Islamic fundamentalism and reminding the Sunni Wahhabis that Iranians were carrying out such operations 20 years ago, while the Saudis were the ones collaborating with the Americans.

The leaks pose a difficult problem for the United States. If Washington
moves along the line of realignment with Sunnis in Iraq, it really could
wind up with another, even more dangerous version of al Qaeda. If the United States tries to placate the Iranians, it will have even more problems in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been doing all the things the Americans have  asked for, and they are now virtually in a civil war because of it. If the United States moves to placate the Iranian Shia, that would not only be another nail in the coffin of the Saudi government, but would increase the sense in the region that the United States is now simply responding to pressure and no longer has a serious plan.

Meanwhile, Fawaz bin Mohammed al-Nashmi, the leader of the Al Quds Brigade of the Arabian Peninsula, released a detailed description of the Khobar attacks that gave an interesting insight into the militants' thinking: "We were asking our brother Muslims, where are the Americans, and they showed us a building where companies have offices. We did find an American. I shot him in the head, [which] exploded. Then we found a South African and we shot him too. In our search for unbelievers, we had to exchange fire with the security forces."

It is important to note the use of the term "unbeliever." The primary
purpose of the attacks was an assault on Americans, but the mission extended to the execution of any nonbeliever. Al-Nashmi also discussed the killing of Philippine Roman Catholics and of Indians, referring to both as unbelievers. This is not new, but the intensity with which unbelievers are being targeted -- as opposed to Westerners or Americans -- is noteworthy. The language used matters.

If the view extends that al Qaeda's war is against all unbelievers, rather
than a war against American imperialism, and if it extends to include
Iranians and other Shia, things will get very interesting indeed. We are
getting the sense of a further radicalization in the Islamic world. We also
are sensing that this further radicalization might create non-Islamic
coalitions that do not currently exist. It is a process we will be watching


(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


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« Reply #90 on: June 15, 2004, 06:52:52 AM »
Stratfor Morning Intelligence Brief -- June 15, 2004

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, , ,

1124 GMT -- IRAQ -- A purported letter from top jihadist Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was posted on Islamist Web sites June 15. The letter says that al-Zarqawi's ability to continue to
conduct operations is dwindling and warns that if his group is unable to
assume control of Iraq, it would have to move to another country or the
members would have to die as martyrs. The authenticity of the letter has not
yet been verified.


Geopolitical Diary: Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The situation with Iran continues to deteriorate, this time on the nuclear
axis. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported Monday that Iran is not fully cooperating with inspectors. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei noted that the particular problem was with Iran's nuclear enrichment activities, saying, "It is essential for the integrity and credibility of the inspection process that we are able to bring these issues to a close within the next few months and provide the international community with the assurances it urgently seeks regarding Iran's nuclear activities."

The nuclear situation in Iran has been on the table for years, although its
significance was reduced during the period of relative detente with the
United States over the past year. It was assumed that the nuclear issue --although never fully handled -- would not be permitted by either Iran or the United States to become a major block to the broader strategic relationship being forged over Iraq. The Iranians certainly didn't want a nuclear device more than they wanted a neutralized Iraq.

However, the world Iran inhabits this June is very different. The strategic
agreement with Washington has collapsed. Iraq is not heading the way it was heading a few months ago, and it is altogether conceivable that -- at the end of the day -- Baathists will play a leading role in Baghdad. Whoever governs Iraq, the dream of alliance or neutralization is gone. Iran now must calculate its place in a much more dangerous world.

Iran has the nuclear card to play. Tehran has observed Washington's behavior with North Korea, where the essential policy has been to find some means to placate Pyongyang while making occasional threats. North Korea has used its potential nuclear capability as a tool to guarantee regime survival. Iran sees its nuclear program in two ways: First, if successful, it is a tool that guarantees that no one will mess with Iran -- and second, even before it is successful, it becomes an important bargaining chip.

Iran has become more aggressive in positioning its nuclear policy precisely because its arrangements with the United States have slipped away. The threat of a confrontation with Iran is the last thing the Bush
administration needs. First, a crisis of nuclear weapons that Iran denies it
has, prior to the presidential election in November, would not play well
after the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Second, the
administration does not need a new crisis with Iran at a time when it wants to portray the situation as quieting down. Therefore it is in Tehran's
interest to assert its nuclear plans -- by stonewalling the IAEA. The goal
is to improve its position for quiet bargaining with the United States over
Iraq. The United States wants to contain the situation; Iran can exploit it.

The danger is this: In order to make its position strong, Iran really needs
to have a nuclear program. Given U.S. intelligence failures, it is very
difficult to trust CIA evaluations. They may be right about Iran, but at
this point, who knows? If the Iranians are really pushing ahead with a
nuclear program, U.S. leaders have to assume the worst case. In the worst case, Iran is close to having a nuclear device or even a weapon. The United States could not tolerate a nuclear Iran, since that would represent a threat to fundamental American interests. It also could not be tolerated by Israel. Therefore there are two nuclear countries in whose interests it would be to take out Iran's capabilities before they become operational.

Tehran does not want this to happen, obviously. It is likely that Iran is
more interested in bluffing a nuclear capability than in having one, since
its use of a nuclear weapon would bring devastating retaliation. Iran is
playing a very carefully refined game.

This is where the weakness in U.S. intelligence becomes painful. Iranian
leaders must assume that the United States knows the status of Iran's
nuclear capability in order for the negotiating ploy not to get out of
control. The United States could well have a clear picture of Iran's
capabilities. However, U.S. policymakers cannot assume that the intelligence evaluation they receive from the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency are accurate. They cannot play a refined game themselves. That makes the situation much more dangerous.

The Iranians view U.S. intelligence as extremely capable and assume that the recent failures were merely political covers for the real policies. It is not clear that they accept the notion that U.S. intelligence is not fully
trusted at this point. They may therefore push ahead, assuming that the
United States understands the limits of what Tehran is doing. If Washington instead goes with a worst-case scenario, a massive collision occurs.

The threat of a U.S.-Iranian confrontation is climbing continually. The fact
that the Iranians are forcing a confrontation over nuclear weapons is
ominous -- and the fact that the normal controls on the progression of the
crisis are not fully in place is what makes it really scary.


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« Reply #91 on: June 23, 2004, 07:48:05 PM »
Stratfor Weekly: U.S. and Iran: Beneath the Roiled Surface


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23 June 2004

U.S. and Iran: Beneath the Roiled Surface

By George Friedman

We are in a pattern of escalating confrontation between Iran and the United States and its allies. Two issues have surfaced. There is the question of Iran's nuclear program. And there is the more urgent  question of Iran's capture of three British patrol boats along the Iraq-Iran frontier. Neither of these surface issues is trivial, but the underlying issues are far more significant. The fact that they have surfaced indicates how serious the underlying questions are, and points to serious tensions between the Iranians and the United States.

Iran has historically faced two threats. Russia has pressed it from the
north; during and after World War II, the Soviets occupied a substantial part of Iran, as did the British. The other threat has come from the west -- from Iraq, from its predecessor states or from states that have occupied Iraq, including Britain. The collapse of the Soviet Union has gone a long way toward securing Iran's northern frontier. In fact, the instability to Iran's north has created opportunities for it to extend its influence in that direction.

Iraq, however, has remained a threat. Iraq's defeat in Desert Storm decreased the threat, with the weakening of Iraq's armed forces and constant patrolling of Iraqi skies by U.S. and British warplanes. But what Iran wanted most to see -- the collapse of the hated Saddam Hussein regime and its replacement by a government at least neutral toward Iran and preferably under Iranian influence -- did not materialize. One of the primary reasons the United States did not advance to Baghdad in 1991 was the fear that an Iraqi collapse would increase Iran's power and make it the dominant force in the  Persian Gulf.

Iran Develops a Strategy

Subsequently, Iran's goals were simple: First, Iraq should never pose a
threat to Iran; it never wanted to be invaded again by Iraq. Second, Iran
should be in a position to shape Iraqi behavior in order to guarantee that it would not be a threat. Iran was not in a position to act on this goal itself. What it needed was to induce outside powers -- the United States in
particular -- to act in a manner that furthered Iranian national interests.
Put somewhat differently, Iran expected the United States to invade Iraq or topple Hussein by other means. It intended to position itself to achieve its primary national security goals when that happened.

From the end of Desert Storm to the fall of Baghdad, Iran systematically and patiently pursued its goal. Following Desert Storm, Iran began a program designed both to covertly weaken Hussein's regime and to strengthen Iranian influence in Iraq -- focusing on Iraq's Shiite population. If Hussein fell under his own weight, if he were overthrown in a U.S.-sponsored coup or if the United States invaded Iraq, Iran intended to be in a position to neutralize the Iraqi threat.

There were three parts to the Iranian strategy:

1. Do nothing to discourage the United States from taking action against
Iraq. In other words: Mitigate threats from Iran so the United States would not leave Hussein in place again because it feared the consequences of a power vacuum that Iran could fill.

2. Create an information environment that would persuade the United States to topple Hussein. The Iranians understood the analytic methods of U.S. policy makers and the intelligence processes of the Central Intelligence Agency. Iran created a program designed to strengthen the position of those in the United States who believed that Iraq was a primary threat, while providing the United States with intelligence that maximized the perception of Hussein as a threat. This program preceded the 2003 invasion and the Bush administration as well. Desert Fox -- the air campaign launched by the Clinton administration in December 1998 -- was shaped by the same information environment as the 2003 invasion. The Iranians understood the nature of the intelligence channels the United States used, and fed information through those that intensified the American threat perception.

3. Prepare for the fall of Hussein by creating an alternative force in Iraq
whose primary loyalty was to Iran. The Shiite community -- long oppressed by Hussein and sharing religious values with the Iranian government -- had many of the same interests as Iran. Iranian intelligence services had conducted a long, patient program to organize the Iraqi Shiite community and prepare the Shia to be the dominant political force after the fall of Hussein.

As it became increasingly apparent in 2002 that the United States was
searching for a follow-on strategy after Afghanistan, the Iranians recognized their opportunity. They knew they could not manipulate the United States into invading Iraq -- or provide justification for it -- but they also knew they could do two things. The first was to reduce the threat the United States felt from Iran. The second was to increase, to the extent possible, the intelligence available to those in the Bush administration who supported the invasion.

They accomplished the first with formal meetings in Geneva and back-channel discussions around the world. The message they sent was that Iran would do nothing to hinder a U.S. invasion, nor would it seek to take advantage of it on a direct state basis. The second process was facilitated by filling the channels between Iraqi Shiite exiles and the United States with apparently solid information -- much of it true -- about conditions in Iraq. This is where Ahmed Chalabi played a role.

In our opinion, Iranian intelligence knew two things that it left out of the
channels. The first was that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
programs had been abandoned. The United States did not invade Iraq because of WMD, but used them as a justification. The Iranians knew none would be found, but were pleased that the United States would use this as a justification.  The second thing Iran kept from the United States was that Hussein and his key aides did not expect to defeat the United States in a conventional war, but had planned a guerrilla war to follow the fall of Baghdad.

The Iranians had a specific reason for leaving these things out. They knew the Americans would win the conventional war. They did not want the United States to have an easy time occupying Iraq. The failure to find WMD would create a crisis in the United States. The failure to anticipate a Baathist guerrilla war would create a crisis in Iraq. Iran wanted both to happen.

The worse the situation became in Iraq, the less the United States prepared for the real postwar environment -- and the more the credibility of President George W. Bush was questioned, the more eager the United States would be in seeking allies in Iraq. The only ally available -- apart from the marginal Kurds -- was the Shiite majority. As the situation deteriorated in the summer and fall of 2003, the United States urgently needed an accommodation with Iraq's Shia. The idea of a Shiite rising cutting lines of supply to Kuwait while there was a Sunni rising drove all U.S. thinking. It also pushed the United States toward an accommodation with the Shia -- and that meant an accommodation with Iran.

Such an accommodation was reached in the fall of 2003. The United States accepted that the government would be dominated by the Shia, and that the government would have substantial Iranian influence. During the Ramadan offensive, when the lid appeared to be flying off in Iraq, the United States was prepared to accommodate almost any proposal. The Iranians agreed to back-burner -- but not to shut down -- their nuclear proposal, and quiet exchanges of prisoners were carried out. Iran swapped al Qaeda prisoners for anti-Iranian prisoners held by the United States.

Things Fall Apart

Two things happened after the capture of Hussein in mid-December 2003. The first was that the Iranians started to make clear that they -- not the Americans -- were defining the depth of the relationship. When the United States offered to send representatives to Iran after an earthquake later in December, the Iranians rejected the offer, saying it was too early in the relationship. On many levels, the Iranians believed they had the Americans where they wanted them and slowly increased pressure for concessions.

Paradoxically, the United States started to suffer buyer's remorse on the
deal it made. As the guerrilla threat subsided in January and February, the Americans realized that the deal did not make nearly as much sense in January as it had in November. Rather than moving directly toward a Shiite government, the United States began talking to the Sunni sheikhs and thinking of an interim government in which Kurds or Sunnis would have veto power.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani -- who is an Iranian -- began to signal the
United States that trouble was brewing in Iraq. He staged major
demonstrations in January, calling for direct elections -- his code words for a Shiite government. The United States, no longer pressured and growing uneasy about the enormous power of the Iranians, did two things: They pressed ahead with plans for the interim government, and started leaking that they knew the game the Iranians were playing. The release of the news that Chalabi was an Iranian agent was part of this process.

The Iranians and al-Sistani -- seeing the situation slipping out of control
-- tried to convince the Americans that they were willing to send Iraq up in flames. During the Sunni rising in Al Fallujah, they permitted Muqtada
al-Sadr to rise as well. The United States went to al-Sistani for help, but
he refused to lift a finger for days. Al-Sistani figured the United States
would reverse its political plans and make concessions to buy Shiite support.

Just the opposite happened. The United States came to the conclusion that the Shia and Iran were completely unreliable -- and that they were no longer necessary. Rather than negotiate with the Shia, the Americans negotiated with the Sunni guerrillas in Al Fallujah and reached an agreement with them. The United States also pressed ahead with a political solution for the interim government that left the Shia on the margins.

The breakdown in U.S.-Iranian relations dates to this moment. The United
States essentially moved to reverse alliances. In addition, it made clear to
al-Sistani and others that they could be included in the coalition -- in a
favored position. In other words, the United States reversed the process by trying to drive a wedge between the Iranians and the Iraqi Shia. And it
appeared to be working, with al-Sistani and al-Sadr seeming to shift
positions so as not to be excluded.

Iran Roils the Surface

It was at that moment that the Iranians saw more than a decade of patient strategy going out the window. They took two steps. First, they created a crisis with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over nuclear weapons that was certain to draw U.S. attention. Second, they seized the British patrol boats. Their point? To let the United States know that it is on the verge of a major crisis with Iran.

The United States knows this, of course. Military planners are updating plans on Iran as we speak. The crisis is avoidable -- and we would expect it to wax and wane. But the fundamental question is this: Are American and Iranian national interests compatible and, if they are not, is either country in a position at this moment to engage in a crisis or a war? Iran is calculating that it can engage in a crisis more effectively than the United States. The United States does not want a crisis with Iran before the elections -- and certainly not over WMD.

But there is another problem. The Americans cannot let Iran get nuclear
weapons, and the Iranians know it. They assume that U.S. intelligence has a clear picture of how far weapons development has gone. But following the U.S. intelligence failure on WMD in Iraq -- ironically aided by Iran -- will any policy maker trust the judgment of U.S. intelligence on how far Iran's development has gone? Is the U.S. level of sensitivity much lower than Iran thinks? And since Israel is in the game -- and it certainly cannot accept an Iranian nuclear capability -- and threatens a pre-emptive strike with its  ownnuclear weapons, will the United States be forced to act when it does not want to?

Like other major crises in history, the situation is not really under
anyone's control. It can rapidly spin out of control and -- even if it is in
control -- it can become a very nasty crisis. This is not a minor
misunderstanding, but a clash of fundamental national interests that will not be easy to reconcile.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


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« Reply #92 on: July 04, 2004, 05:14:16 AM »


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« Reply #93 on: July 07, 2004, 11:08:19 PM »
By Rowan Scarborough
The Clinton administration talked about firm evidence linking Saddam Hussein's regime to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network years before President Bush made the same statements.

    The issue arose again this month after the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States reported there was no "collaborative relationship" between the old Iraqi regime and bin Laden.

    Democrats have cited the staff report to accuse Mr. Bush of making inaccurate statements about a linkage. Commission members, including a Democrat and two Republicans, quickly came to the administration's defense by saying there had been such contacts.

    In fact, during President Clinton's eight years in office, there were at least two official pronouncements of an alarming alliance between Baghdad and al Qaeda. One came from William S. Cohen, Mr. Clinton's defense secretary. He cited an al Qaeda-Baghdad link to justify the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.

    Mr. Bush cited the linkage, in part, to justify invading Iraq and ousting Saddam. He said he could not take the risk of Iraq's weapons falling into bin Laden's hands.

    The other pronouncement is contained in a Justice Department indictment on Nov. 4, 1998, charging bin Laden with murder in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

    The indictment disclosed a close relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam's regime, which included specialists on chemical weapons and all types of bombs, including truck bombs, a favorite weapon of terrorists.

    The 1998 indictment said: "Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States. In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq."

    Shortly after the embassy bombings, Mr. Clinton ordered air strikes on al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and on the Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan.

    To justify the Sudanese plant as a target, Clinton aides said it was involved in the production of deadly VX nerve gas. Officials further determined that bin Laden owned a stake in the operation and that its manager had traveled to Baghdad to learn bomb-making techniques from Saddam's weapons scientists.

    Mr. Cohen elaborated in March in testimony before the September 11 commission.

    He testified that "bin Laden had been living [at the plant], that he had, in fact, money that he had put into this military industrial corporation, that the owner of the plant had traveled to Baghdad to meet with the father of the VX program."

    He said that if the plant had been allowed to produce VX that was used to kill thousands of Americans, people would have asked him, " 'You had a manager that went to Baghdad; you had Osama bin Laden, who had funded, at least the corporation, and you had traces of [VX precursor] and you did what? And you did nothing?' Is that a responsible activity on the part of the secretary of defense?"

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« Reply #94 on: July 20, 2004, 03:11:11 PM »
Geopolitical Diary: Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The U.S.-Iranian relationship deteriorated further on Monday, as reports
leaked from the 9-11 commission saying there had been contacts between Iran and the hijackers prior to the Sept. 11 attacks. In addition, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) issued a report saying that the hijackers passed through Iranian territory. Not to be outdone, the Iranians also said the hijackers had passed through their territory. And U.S. President George W. Bush declared, "If the Iranians would like to have better relations with the United States there are some things they must do," such as not supporting terrorism or building nuclear weapons.

The deterioration in relations has now tracked back to Iran's relationship
with al Qaeda. It is not clear that Monday's revelations were deliberately
orchestrated. However, the Bush administration knew what would be in the 9-11 commission's report, and it knew of the Council on Foreign Relations report. Administration officials therefore were positioned to use these revelations to increase pressure on Iran. Tehran tried to deflect the
pressure last week by handing over a close associate of Osama bin Laden's to Saudi Arabia. In retrospect, this was partly a move to defuse this week's accusations. Rather than deny them, Iran is acknowledging them but demonstrating that it has shifted its position dramatically. Tehran is trying to decline a confrontation with Washington over its relationship with al Qaeda. It is not clear at the moment whether the United States is equally interested in avoiding a confrontation.

There is little surprise that al Qaeda used Iranian territory and had
relationships with individuals -- some in very senior positions -- in Iran.
Al Qaeda had a policy of cooperating at some level with all Islamic regimes. On close investigation, we will find that al Qaeda operatives were present in virtually every Islamic country and aided by officials in each. This was al Qaeda's strategy: forge relationships with governments or officials in every country that might be of use without becoming dependent on any of them. Therefore, al Qaeda might have used Iran, but it never relied on Iran -- a Shiite power distrusted by al Qaeda's Sunnis.

Iran, for its part, had a policy of maintaining links with all radical
Islamist groups, providing aid where appropriate to Iranian national
interest. In the case of al Qaeda, Iran had built-in mistrust of its Sunni
beliefs. For Iran, there were two separate questions. First, could al Qaeda
pose problems for the United States that would divert it from trying to
dominate Iran? And second, would al Qaeda strengthen or weaken the House of Saud, the religious and commercial rival of Iran? The answer to the first question was yes; the answer to the second was far more complex and difficult to answer. For Tehran, the logical outcome of this calculus would be very limited and careful support to al Qaeda: Safe passage across Iranian territory, plus some other limited support, would just about do it.

It is our view, barring further evidence, that the Iran-al Qaeda
relationship was real, and continued after the Sept. 11 attacks, but that it
never approached a level of mutual dependency or trust. As events unfolded in Iraq, Tehran began to shut down relations with al Qaeda, focusing more on cooperating with the United States. Then, when the United States reversed its policy on Iran in April, Tehran rewarmed its relationship with al Qaeda and started its own suicide-bombing program. The United States did not back off its political reversal, but transmitted some serious threats to Iran in the event that it did not back away from al Qaeda. Last week, the Iranians started to back off. The Bush administration is now using the 9-11 report, the CFR report and Iran's own admissions to maintain the pressure on Iran.

The United States is in no position to fight a war with Iran, whatever it
says privately to Tehran. Regime change is not an option -- but policy
change is. With the old arrangement gone, the United States is trying to
redefine its relationship with Iran on terms much less favorable than
before. As in any very bad marriage -- and the U.S.-Iranian entente was a really rotten one -- there is always time to dredge up past betrayals and
throw them in each other's faces.

Still, it is not all that simple. Iran is neither rejecting the accusations
nor acting defiantly. It is sounding worried, as though officials feel the
need to come clean. We find that extremely interesting. U.S. officials must
have said some very interesting things to the Iranians over the past month. We can't imagine what could be said that would make them so cautious, but that might simply be a failure of our imagination.

Copyrights 2004 - Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


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« Reply #95 on: August 03, 2004, 10:21:22 PM »
Geopolitical Intelligence Report: Naming the War


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Naming the War
August 03, 2004

By George Friedman

Of the many things that were included in the 9/11 Commission's report,
perhaps none was more significant in the long run than its criticism of the
name the Bush administration has given the war that began on Sept. 11, 2001: the war on terrorism. The report argued that the idea of a struggle against an enemy called "terrorism" was too vague to be meaningful. It argued that the administration should shift away from fighting a "generic" evil and more precisely define the threat -- the threat from al Qaeda and a radical ideological movement in the Islamic world that "is gathering and will menace Americans and American interests long after" Osama bin Laden is gone.

The commission made two critical points. First, it asserted there was a war going on. There has been some doubt about this: Some have begun to argue that the Sept. 11 attacks were an isolated incident and that Americans should "get over it." Others have argued that it was primarily a criminal conspiracy and that the legal system should handle it. The commission made the unequivocal argument that it was a war and should be treated as such.

Wars are against enemies, and the commission makes the case that terrorism is not, by itself, a meaningful enemy. Rather, the enemy is -- according to the commission -- al Qaeda, and along with al Qaeda, radical Islam as an ideology. That means that, from the commission's viewpoint, this is a war between the United States and al Qaeda or, alternatively, a war between the United States and radical Islam. Given the gingerly way in which Americans have approached the question of the nature of the enemy, it is striking that the commission honed in on what has been one of the few aspects of delicacy in the Bush administration's approach to war -- completely rejecting the administration's attempt to subsume the war under the general rubric of

Terrorism is a military strategy: It is an attempt to defeat an enemy by
striking directly against its general population and thereby creating a sense of terror which, it is hoped, will lead the population to move against the government and force it to some sort of political acquiescence or accommodation. During World War II, for example, one of the primary uses of air power was to create terror among the population. The German bombardment of London, British nighttime area bombardment of German cities, American firebombing and atomic bombing of Japanese cities -- all were terror attacks. They were explicitly designed to put the population at risk, in efforts to prompt the enemy's capitulation. It did not work at all against the British; there is debate over what role, if any, it played against the Germans; and it certainly had a massive, if not decisive, effect in the case of the Japanese.

Terror, of course, was not confined to World War II. It has been a frequent feature of warfare.

Many countries have used terror attacks. So have individuals and non-state groups. Timothy McVeigh's attack against the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was intended to generate some sort of political change. The attacks by the Baader-Meinhof Gang in Germany during the 1970s or the bombings of the Weather Underground in the United States were similarly intended to generate political change. That McVeigh, Ulriche Meinhoff and Mark Rudd had not the slightest idea of what they were trying to achieve nor of the relationship between their attacks and their strategy -- such as it was -- speaks to their own serious limitations. It says nothing about the potential uses of terror attacks in warfare, nor to the fact that terror attacks can be effective, given a clear strategy, planning and execution. Governments can be forced to change strategy when their populations are placed at risk.

This is the conceptual problem with terrorism: Like any sort of warfare, it
can be successful or not, depending on circumstances. However, terrorism in some form or another is among the most accessible types of warfare. What we mean by this is that while it is difficult for a handful of ideologues to secure a navy and impose a blockade, it is not impossible for a handful of people to carry out some limited attacks against a population, if it is no greater than firing a bullet into someone's kneecap or hijacking a plane. Terrorism provides a unique opportunity for small, non-state groups to wage war.

Historically, most of these non-state groups have consisted either of mental or emotional defectives or of individuals whose cause was so hopeless the act of terrorism could at best be considered a form of bloody theater rather than as a serious threat. It is extremely difficult to take the Basque separatist group ETA seriously in the sense of expecting that their attacks against the population will lead to a desired political evolution. It was certainly impossible to imagine how Rudd, Meinhoff or McVeigh possibly could have thought any strategic goal could have been reached through the use of terror attacks.

The general use of terror attacks by non-state actors has involved people
like this. The concept of terrorism, as it developed since the 1960s, has
focused not on terror as a potentially viable military strategy, but as an
inherently non-state activity. This is a serious historical error. But a more
serious error followed from this: If terrorism is something non-state actors use, and non-state actors tend in general to be imbeciles, posturers or lost causes looking for attention, then terrorism is no longer a serious military tool in the hands of strategists. It is, instead, a form of social and personal dysfunction, and therefore need not be taken seriously.

It was the secular Palestinian movement after 1967 that adopted the use of isolated counterpopulation attacks most effectively. Apart from attacks
against Israel and Israelis, where no significant political shift was
expected, terrorism was directed against allies of Israel, such as the United States. The strategy there -- not unlike the strategy in Iraq today -- was to impose costs for Israeli allies that would surpass the benefits of alliance.  In this case, terror attacks had a definite goal -- to change the
relationship between Israel and its allies. But the movement was hurt in
several ways. First, the Israelis struck back. Second, many Arab countries, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, worked actively against the Palestinian radicals. Finally, the Palestinians were engaged in an ongoing struggle in which the terrorist attacks became more focused on defining the relations among competing Palestinian factions than on any strategic political goal.

Terrorism, therefore, seemed to be a tool in the hands of the strategically
helpless. Some began and ended in hopeless confusion, succeeding in shedding blood for no purpose. However, the Palestinians who took terrorism as a tactic to the global stage themselves lost their strategic bearings by the 1980s, when it was no longer clear what they were trying to accomplish with some of their operations. Terrorism ceased to be regarded as a military option for nation-states, and it never was quite taken seriously as an effective strategic option for non-state actors. It became a form of moral derangement in the hands of the hopelessly confused and the strategically handicapped. It became a tool of losers.

Al Qaeda uses terrorism. This group pursues counterpopulation operations
designed to generate political evolutions that benefit its goals. By calling
the war against al Qaeda a war on terrorism, the Bush administration
committed two massive mistakes.

First, it lumped al Qaeda in with Mark Rudd and ETA. The latter two are not serious; the former is very serious. Both use the same tactics, but one has a strategic mission. In using this label, it became much more difficult for the administration itself to take al Qaeda seriously. How can you take something seriously that is part of such a collection of dunderheads? The Bush administration underestimated its enemy -- always dangerous in war.

Second, it confused the question of who the enemy was. If the war is against terrorism, then everyone who uses terrorism is the enemy. That's a lot of groups -- including on occasion, the United States. If one is waging a war against terrorism, one is at war against a tactic, not a personifiable enemy. Alternatively, the war must be waged against hundreds or thousands of enemy groups. The concept of terrorism is a wonderful way to get lost.

The most important problem is that if al Qaeda is simply part of a broader
spectrum of groups using terror operations, then the unique strategic
interests of al Qaeda disappear. Al Qaeda has clear strategic goals: It wants to foment a rising in the Islamic world that will topple one or more
governments, and replace them with regimes around which the reborn caliphate can be based. The Sept. 11 attacks were designed to trigger that rising. That has not happened, but al Qaeda is still there.

By ignoring the strategic goals of the attacks -- and this is critically
important -- the Bush administration lost its ability to measure success in
the war. The issue is not merely whether al Qaeda has lost the ability to
carry out terrorist attacks; the more important question is whether al Qaeda has achieved its strategic goals through the use of terrorist attacks. The answer to that is an emphatic no. Al Qaeda not only has not come close to achieving its goal, but has actually moved to a weaker position since 9/11 -- having lost its Afghan base and having had Saudi Arabia turn against it. By focusing on the tactic -- terrorism -- rather than on the strategy, the Bush administration has actually managed to confuse the issue so much that its own successes are invisible. The terror tactics remain, but al Qaeda's strategic goal is as far away as ever.

The administration has confused not only the situation but itself at all
levels by focusing on terrorism in general. It not only lost its ability to
measure strategic progress in the war, but also failed to understand the
unique characteristics of al Qaeda. In fairness, this has been a failure
going back to the Clinton administration, but the hangover remains. The term "terrorism" reminds everyone of hippies running wild and Palestinians attacking Olympic Games. It loses the particular significance of al Qaeda -- its unique intellectual and strategic coherence. It makes al Qaeda appear dumber than it is and causes miscalculation on the part of the United States.

It is interesting to remember why the Bush administration chose the name for the war that it did. Part of it had to do, of course, with the tendency of terrorism experts to treat al Qaeda as part of their domain. But the more important part had to do with not wanting to think in terms of a war against Islam -- radical or otherwise. From the beginning, the administration has not wanted to emphasize the connection between al Qaeda and Islam. Rather, it has tried to treat al Qaeda as an Islamic aberration. It was easier to do so by linking it with terrorism in some generic sense than by linking it with Islam.

The administration needed Islamic countries to participate in its coalition.
It did not want to appear in any way to be at war with any brand or style of Islam. In fighting al Qaeda, it was much easier to be at war with terrorism than with Islam. Stated differently, the administration was afraid that it would lose control of the war's definition if it focused on al Qaeda's Islamic links rather than on its terrorist tactics. It did not want pogroms against Muslims in the United States, and it sought to manage it relations with Islamic states very carefully.

The selection of the term "war on terror" was, therefore, not accidental. It
has been merely very confusing. It is this very confusion that the 9/11
Commission has pointed out. You cannot be at war with a type of military
operation; you have to be at war with a military actor -- and in this case,
the actor has been an organization that is part of a broader element of
radical Islam -- which is, in turn, fighting for dominance in the Islamic
world in general. That makes it a more important war, a more dangerous war and a much more complex one than merely a war against terrorism.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.

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« Reply #96 on: August 10, 2004, 04:01:21 PM »

August 10, 2004 -- WHEN it comes to killing our enemies, Mom was right: Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. A year after he should have been removed from the Iraqi landscape, our troops are again engaged in combat with Muqtada al-Sadr's terrorist militia.
Intervening at the Iraqi government's request, the Marines fighting Sadr's thugs have been doing a superb job, killing at least 360 members of the renegade "Mahdi Army" and capturing hundreds more. Friendly casualties are almost nil. Our troops know how to do this work better than any other military in the world.

But the first question is: Will the Marines be called off before their quarry
is killed or locked in a cell, just as our Army was choked back by the
politicos two months ago ? when we had another chance to put an end to Sadr's antics?

The second question is: When will our nation's decision-makers, Republican or Democrat, figure out that there is no practical alternative to killing our deadly enemies?

Much has been made of the belligerence of the Pentagon's "chicken hawks," the neoconservatives who instigate wars so avidly, but dismiss the complexity and cost of restoring peace. Yet the most noteworthy aspect of the neocons' performance was how quickly they turned into little Bill Clintons (minus the charm) when the going got tough.

Unwilling to declare martial law after a brilliant battlefield performance by
our troops, unwilling to face down a budding Baathist insurgency, unwilling to remove Sadr from the scene, and even unwilling to live up to a public promise to crush resistance in Fallujah (who's credible now?), the Bush administration behaved like the high-school punk who provokes a fight then lets others do the bleeding.

This column has said it before and will doubtless say it yet again: If we're
unwilling to pay the butcher's bill up front, we'll pay it with compound
interest in the end.

The even-grimmer news is that Sen. John Kerry promises to be worse as
commander in chief than President Bush on his most indecisive day. If Kerry's convention speech can be trusted ? and trust is a fundamental issue with this man of a thousand faces ? he would commit us to a policy of never acting pre-emptively, of surrendering the initiative to our enemies.

Kerry's nonsense about never going to war until war is forced upon us means that we might as well hang a sign on the Statue of Liberty: "Go ahead, hit me first."

If only we could flush away the partisan slop of this election year, what
would amaze us isn't the difference between recent administrations, but the continuity. Yes, President Bush performed splendidly in the aftermath of 9/11 ? in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But as soon as Saddam's statue fell, the Bush administration seemed to run out of juice, as if it depended upon unchallenged success and couldn't adjust when faced with unpleasant surprises. The senior officials charged with Iraq's reconstruction proved every bit as resistant to reality as the Clinton administration ever was.

The neocons' unwillingness to go after Sadr early on, as soon as the cleric chose violence, was just a two-bit reprise of Bill Clinton's reluctance to kill Osama bin Laden when he had one chance after another.

We can still be optimistic about Iraq ? thanks to the incredible job done by our military ? but it's striking how the Bush administration's dithering,
make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach to the occupation in Iraq resembles the previous administration's amateur-hour performance in Somalia.

Our troops end up paying the bills. No matter which party is booking the
Lincoln bedroom. Doesn't anyone take strategy seriously?

We should never send our military on any mission we only intend to prosecute half-heartedly. When risking the lives of our troops, the object should always be to achieve a firm decision on the ground, whether the purpose is to raid a terrorist hide out or change a government. That means sufficient resolve to kill those who take up arms to frustrate our purposes (or to attack our homeland).

For now, good things are happening in Iraq, despite our sloppiness. Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, is proving to be a great deal tougher than the neocons (or the spectacularly unprincipled Sen. Kerry). Allawi knows that his country needs order and that the forces of terror and insurgency only respect strength. Thus far, he's the most decisive political figure of any nationality to emerge in post-war Iraq.

Of course, Allawi's playing double, triple and quadruple games. That's how you survive in the Middle East, where the locals play three-dimensional chess while we play front-porch checkers. The crucial question about Allawi is whether he'll go quietly if his backers are defeated at the polls ? if the polls are fair to begin with.

At least Allawi's starting to clean house, which the Bushies could never
summon the nerve to do. He's tried to give Moqtada Sadr a face-saving out, but clearly intends to break the power of the cleric's militia. And his government's going after the con who conned America, Ahmed Chalabi. Nor does Allawi resort to the standard Middle Eastern ploy of blaming each problem on Washington.

Among ourselves, we need to stop pretending that Iraq is a one-time deal.  We'll be in the Middle East for decades to come, in unexpected locations. Our bitter enemies ? provoked by their civilization's utter failure ? will continue to present us with a straightforward choice: Either take the war to them or, per Sen. Kerry, wait until they bring the war to us.

We have to deal with the world in which we live, not the one we wish we
inhabited. Our tradition of passivity fostered the rise of a class of terrorists and thugs who would be delighted to slaughter every man, woman and child in America.

We need to kill them first.


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« Reply #97 on: August 19, 2004, 05:16:21 AM »

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Redeployment and the Strategic Miscalculation
August 18, 2004

By George Friedman

On Aug. 16, U.S. President George W. Bush announced a global
redeployment of U.S. military forces. Bush said: "More of our
troops will be stationed and deployed from here at home. We'll
move some of our troops and capabilities to new locations, so
they can surge quickly to deal with unexpected threats. We'll
take advantage of 21st-century military technologies to rapidly
deploy increased combat power. The new plan will help us fight
and win these wars of the 21st century." On the surface, the
redeployment is important. There is a global war under way and
any redeployment of forces at this time matters. However, there
are other reasons why the redeployment is significant.

There are 1,425,687 men and women on active duty in the U.S.
armed forces. The redeployment of roughly 70,000 troops over a
period of 10 years -- or even in one year -- really doesn't
matter, even if most of them came from the U.S. Army, which
currently consists of almost 500,000 troops. The shift affects
roughly 10 percent of the standing Army, which is not trivial.
Neither is it decisive.

There are some important geopolitical implications that go beyond
the numbers. Germany is clearly being downgraded as a reliable
ally. The possible shift of U.S. naval headquarters from the
United Kingdom to Italy tightens relations with Italy -- and
focuses the Navy on the Mediterranean and away from the Atlantic.
Deploying U.S. troops to Romania and Bulgaria increases the U.S.
presence in southeastern Europe and improves access to the Middle
East. The reduction of forces on the Korean Peninsula is a
reminder to South Koreans to be careful what they wish for --
they might get it. Moving forces into Australia clearly signifies
the growing importance of the U.S.-Australian relationship for
the Pacific. Permanent bases in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and
Uzbekistan confirm an already existing relationship and emphasize
a further decline of the Russian sphere of influence in the
former Soviet Union.

But all of these things are relative and incremental. There
simply aren't that many forces moving around to tilt geopolitical
relationships in any fundamental way. Nor do the shifts
necessarily make as much sense as it might seem. Certainly there
is no longer a reason to base troops in Germany, but troops need
to be based somewhere. The idea that the strategic reserve should
reside in the continental United States is a defensible notion,
but not an obvious one. The major theaters of operation for the
United States are currently between the Mediterranean and the
Hindu Kush. Germany is a lot closer than the United States.

Post-Cold War Notions

In order to understand the thinking going on here, it is
important to understand a discussion that has been going on in
the defense community since the end of the Cold War. As U.S.
forces were reduced, the number of individual commitments of
troops did not decline. During the Clinton years, operations
ranged from Haiti to Kosovo to Iraq. The United States had to
find a way for a smaller force to compensate for its size by
increasing its tempo of operations and effectiveness.

Les Aspin, Bill Clinton's first defense secretary, conducted
something called the "Bottom-Up Review" that focused on this
question: How could the United States intervene in the Eastern
Hemisphere, in unpredictable theaters of operation, in a timely
fashion, with an effective force? During Desert Storm, it took
six months to deploy a force large enough to invade Kuwait. That
was too long -- and it took too long because the Army needed too
many tanks, troops and supplies to wage war. The question became
how to reduce the amount of forces needed to achieve the same

The answer for Aspin was to reduce the forces needed by
increasing lethality through technology. Increased dependence on
air power and increased lethality for Army equipment were
supposed to reduce the size of the force. That meant the force
could get there faster. Aviation, special operations and light
infantry became the darlings of the Defense Department. Armor and
artillery became the problem.

Aspin focused speed and lethality, on how fast the force could
get there and on how quickly it could destroy the enemy force.
The question of the occupation of the target country was
addressed only in terms of a concept called "Operations Other
Than War." Some operations were to be primarily humanitarian in
nature. Other operations would become humanitarian as soon as the
projection of decisive force was achieved. After that, forces
would shift to another task: nation-building. Haiti was a case of
nation-building from the get-go. Kosovo was a case of nation-
building after military victory.

Neither of them is a poster child for the idea of using the
military in operations other than war, and Bush sharply
criticized the Clinton people for squandering military resources
on non-military goals. Bush's argument was that nation-building
was difficult at best, that the military was not well-suited for
the task and that nation-building, while nice, was not a
fundamental American national interest in most cases.

It was an interesting debate that in retrospect missed the key
point -- by ignoring the fact that the occupation of a hostile
nation was in fact a military problem. Clinton assumed that once
troops were deployed and the enemy defeated, the occupation would
cease to be a combat problem. Bush argued that wasting troops on
non-combat problems was a mistake. Both missed the point that
after power projection and high-intensity conflict, you did not
necessarily enter a non-military phase. You could be entering a
third phase of the war: the occupation of a hostile country.

Afghanistan and Iraq were both cases in which the United States
occupied hostile territory. It does not take an entire country to
make that country hostile; a relatively small force can create a
hostile combat environment. Arguing about how big the opposition
might be is irrelevant. It is big enough in both countries that
U.S. forces are at war. And this brings us to the central

Rumsfeld and Aspin agreed on the fundamental premise: a smaller,
more agile force is better. They were both right, so long as the
focus is on power projection and the destruction of conventional
enemy forces. But when you shift to the occupation of a hostile
country, smaller size works against you and agility diminishes
radically in importance. The occupation of a country can be
enhanced only marginally by technology. Occupation requires a
force large enough to gain control of the country while waging
counterinsurgency operations. That represents a lot of boots on
the ground -- and a lot of tank treads.

Counting On Occupation

Now, it might be argued that occupation and counterinsurgency are
bad ideas. We are prepared to entertain that notion. What cannot
be debated is that the United States is currently engaged in two
campaigns -- Afghanistan and Iraq -- in which the occupation of
hostile territory is the mission. It is also possible that in
coming years, there will be more such operations. The problem is
that U.S. forces are not configured for the mission. The
institutional hostility toward a large army that permeated the
Defense Department under both Clinton and Bush has now started to
move to a crisis level -- and the Bush administration still has
not responded to it.

The administration has pointed out that it has hit its targets in
recruiting and retaining personnel since the beginning of the
Iraq war. In 2001, the recruiting goal for the Army was 75,800;
the National Guard was 60,252; and the reserve was 34,910. In
2002, the numbers were 79,500; 54,087; and 48,461. In 2003, the
goals were 73,800; 62,000; and 26,400. In 2004, they are 71,739;
56,000; and 21,200. In other words, recruiting for the active
Army and reserve stayed basically unchanged, while goals for the
National Guard declined. The United States is in a global war in
which two countries are currently being occupied and there has
been only a 30,000-man increase authorized by Congress.

Attempting to occupy two countries without massively increasing
the size of the Army is an extraordinary decision. But it is
completely understandable in terms of the Aspin-Rumsfeld view of
the military problem. Occupation of a large territory in the face
of hostile forces was not perceived to be a fundamental military
requirement. In part, this was because it was assumed the United
States would avoid such environments. But both Afghanistan and
Iraq were precisely this kind of environment, and prudent
military planning required that careful thought be given to the
manpower-intense mission of occupation. By the end of 2003, it
should have been clear that, like it or not, the United States
was in the occupation business. But the thinking that went on
before Iraq -- that as in Japan or Germany in World War II,
resistance would halt once the capital fell -- simply did not go
away. The obvious was not absorbed as a fact.

Instead, the Defense Department has resorted to stop-loss
strategies: preventing people from leaving when their terms of
service are up, calling up the Individual Ready Reserve and
exhausting the reserve and National Guard. Most importantly, it
has resorted to the only real solution available: insufficient
forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has tried to fill the gap with
contractors, which works to some extent; but the job of
occupation -- if it is to be undertaken at all -- is a job for
the Army, and there simply are not enough soldiers available. The
1st Marine Expeditionary Force, for example, is currently the
lead occupying force in the Anbar province in Iraq -- hardly the
"tip of the spear" combat force that the Marines are supposed to

It is in this context that the order to redeploy 70,000 troops
should be read. First, it is an attempt to reshuffle the same
deck, when what is needed are more cards. Second, the pace of the
redeployments -- measured in years rather than weeks -- indicates
that the administration knows there is no real solution here --
or it indicates that the administration still doesn't appreciate
the urgency of the situation.

That the Army -- other services as well, but the Army is the key
here -- is at its limits has been obvious for months. What is
interesting to us is that the president, in his speech, continued
to focus on the first two missions (projection and destruction of
enemy forces) and still has not focused on the centrality of
combat in occupation zones. We don't have much of a force to
project at this point, so increasing the capability is not really

It is not something he wants to tackle now, but whoever becomes
president will be doing so. There are two options: The draft,
which will not produce the kind of force needed, or massive
increases in the size of the volunteer force using economic
incentives. Gen. Douglas MacArthur said we should never fight a
land war in Asia after Korea. Vietnam sort of confirmed that.
Whether anyone has noticed, we are in another land war in Asia
and in Asian wars, technology is great, but riflemen and tanks
are the foundation.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


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A Stratfor Thanks
« Reply #98 on: August 19, 2004, 09:46:42 AM »
Thanks for the Stratfor posts, Crafty. Some of the most cogent analysis I've encountered. Any idea what the backstory of Stratfor is? I note they use "us" as their self referential pronoun; what kind of "us" are they? I suspect intelligence and realpolitik backgrounds, but am still somewhat mystified. Where does all this spot on analysis come from in this wishy washy age?


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« Reply #99 on: August 19, 2004, 10:50:37 AM »
Woof Buz:

Please excuse for stating the obvious, but have you gone to their website and surfed around? :lol:


PS:  I too find them to be genuinely superior in their analysis and recommend signing up highly.  There is much, much more than what is posted here.