Friday, August 29, 2008

War is nowhere near being over

Even if progress is massive in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq, this war is far from being over. The ideology of our enemy is prevalent throughout the Middle East. The governments of Syria and Iran are symptoms of this view and are going to have to change. The mindset of the Palestinians (As well as the government) will have to change as well. Millions of people in Saudi Arabia support the extreme schools that they have set up. Few things will trigger warfare as quickly as attempted change in the educational systems. Tell me I have to send my children to an Islamic school? I will take up arms myself. For them, this is asking the same thing: I must send my children to a secular school?

Once again, this war is far from being over, even with decisive victories in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. And that is pushing it, as these places are far from being stabilized.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Muslims have difficulty assimilating

Islam is far more than a religion. It is a way of life. This way of life is very rigid. It presents very few options for people to live within. This makes it difficult for those who are raised in this style of life to accept other ways of living. Islam also has mechanisms to encourage and force expansion upon others. (Jihad is a big part of this) The penalty for leaving is death, so adapting Islam is a one-way street. People do find comfort in having a few, straightforward options. It would be difficult to accept alternatives if you are comfortable with such a limited set of options. In contrast, we have been brought up to look for alternatives and actually have many to choose from. This would seem repulsive to many that are comfortable with a very rigid lifestyle. Take women for example.

I have heard Muslims state that Islamic options for women is one of two:

1) Get married.
2) Become public property.

I don’t know what they mean by ‘public property’ but I would guess that it is to be avoided at all costs. Many Muslim women accept this and feel comfortable with this. I am guessing that many of these are successful in being courted to marry and can be found in privileged positions. I doubt if this is a majority of women, but I really do not know. This option set is totally unacceptable to our society. We wish our women to realize their full potential, and nobody else can say what you are best at except yourself. Additional options are required to enable women to pursue what they view to be their own best interests. Within Islam, men also have a number of limitations.

Although the limits are fewer than those placed upon women, men also have many more restrictions placed upon them than what we in the U.S. would find acceptable. The restrictions upon unmarried people (Both genders) are an additional source of difference between Islam and the ‘West’. In general, Islamic lifestyle is very restricted. An overall problem here is one of mindset. Growing up and living within such a restricted lifestyle would make for a narrow set of views regarding personal interactions. It would be difficult even for a moderate person to accept the openness that is present within Western societies. They would find these options threatening and sometimes even repulsive. This narrowness of mindset could easily penetrate other viewpoints. Political and prejudicial views fall into this category.

Openness is how racism is defeated. When different races can interact with each other and discuss problems, racism becomes far less of a factor. If the very idea of interaction is rejected, then reduction of prejudice will be very difficult, if not impossible. This is a contributing reason as to the prevalence of racism throughout the Muslim world. Much of the problem is that they are not even aware of most, if not all of it. It takes openness and the ability to see beyond a limited set of views to become aware of prejudice and then to decide to reject it. This is an evolution that the Islamic world has difficulty with. Much of this difficulty has its origins within the limited mindset that is present within a culture that lives within such a limited range of options. This would make it difficult to assimilate into ANY other culture. You would see threats everywhere. Seeing everyone breaking all of the rules, it would look like anarchy. This would not only make you uncomfortable, but also encourage you to either move away, or to attempt to bring about change that you would find more acceptable. These efforts could easily advance to violence. Warfare is organized violence taken to its highest level. Islam knows all about warfare already. It would not be a difficult leap to move to this level, even for a moderate person from this culture.

Yet Islam is remarkably lax when compared to the reasons we would wage war over. Many requirements in waging war in Islam are subjective, easily interpreted to your advantage. Personal violence would naturally spring from less discouragement to kill others who are not like you. This is the dark side of Islam that is worth waging war over to eliminate. It is the classic good and evil. And we have lots of Good Muslims that are caught up on the wrong side. A problem here is that life is not fair. The good Germans and good Southerners had to be defeated. And in order for them to lose, a lot of good ones will be killed every time. We cannot avoid it. I am not saying that we wage punitive warfare. Wars of conquest are always more fruitful in the long run. However, nuclear weapons are the most punitive weapon designed by man. It kills everything, no discrimination. We will eventually be forced into this situation. It is only a matter of time. The only way to slow it down or to prevent it is to actively wage aggressive warfare. More governments will need to fall, and they must be Islamic governments who actively support irregular warfare in other countries. I do not believe that this is politically possible until the first nuclear weapons go off.

Monday, August 25, 2008

War issues

The largest, most deadly wars are fought to defend ways of life. This contributes as to why cultural wars are often the most brutal. Islam is far more than just a religion. It is a way of life that has been established for more than a millennium. This has evolved into it’s own culture. This culture (way of life) is being threatened by the modernity of the rest of the world. This threat is a major contributing reason as to why violence is being generated in places where Islam is making contact with so many other cultures. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are only a sample of this wider conflict. Let’s take a closer look at some of the issues within Iraq. We will start with democracy itself.

Democracy is an open political system. The ex-French President himself said that democracy is not a process, but a culture. The very nature of openness is foreign to some cultures. They find it repulsive in some ways. Take the right to vote. Many cultures have difficulty with women having the right to vote. A woman having as much say in things as anyone else? It took the U.S. well over 100 years to allow women the right to vote. What about the issue of homosexuality? Many cultures have a great deal of difficulty accepting them.

The openness of democracy will encourage the gay community to be more accepted than would otherwise be possible. In democracies, this acceptance applies to minorities in general. Acceptance of any minority group within a given culture can be a potential problem. Then we have the issue of loyalty.

Loyalty to clan or other organizations as opposed to the central government is a very real problem. Robert E. Lee resigned his commission in the U.S. army because his state of Virginia left the Union. He was more loyal to his state than the U.S. federal government. One issue the U.S. Civil war decided is that our loyalty is to the Federal government, not the state. This issue is not uncommon in parts of the world, and loyalty to clan is particularly strong within the Muslim world.

These issues could be deal breakers with any culture attempting to accept democracy. In order to make it more difficult, we need to toss in issues specific to Islam.

1) Penalty for leaving Islam is death. (An Apostate) Joining Islam is a one-way street. Once you join, you may NEVER leave. This has the additional complication in that if a basic disagreement exists in a fundamental law of Islam, the different sides may see each other as having left the faith. If the difference became violent, fighting in this struggle qualifies as jihad.

2) Moral obligation to kill occupiers of Muslim lands. Just as leaving Islam is not permitted (The penalty is death) no land that is ever controlled by Islam can revert back. It will ALWAYS be considered to be Muslim land. This ‘law’ is a contributing reason for the continuing Arab-Israeli wars.

3) The concept of Jihad. "The presumption is that the duty of Jihad will continue (Interrupted only by truces) until the world adopts Islam or submits to Muslim rule." "Those who fight in the Jihad qualify for rewards in both worlds. Booty in this one, paradise in the next." "The most common interpretation of jihad is armed struggle for the advancement or defense of Muslim power". (Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam, copyright 2003.) Booty was how armies were paid until the rise of the nation-state. Naturally, Muslims are not supposed to seize booty for personal gain. However, human nature is not so chaste. The other qualifier for jihad (Besides fighting Apostates) is fighting infidels. Infidels are anyone who is not Muslim. Jihad is a mechanism designed to expand Islamic control and Muslim power. This concept of jihad is an additional contribution to the constant Arab-Israeli wars.

4) "In Muslim tradition, the world is divided into two houses: The house of Islam and the house of war". (Page 31. Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam, Copyright 2003. ) This is Muslim tradition. This will not go away without violent conflict. How can you remove the right to wage war upon anyone else who is not like you without a war? Another contribution to the constant Arab-Israeli wars. Jihad can justify just about any war, except upon fellow Muslims. And even then, jihad may be waged if the enemy is Apostate.

5) Honor killings. Although this is not law, this behavior has evolved from the culture that Islam nourishes. Similar to ‘losing face’ in Japan, the loss of honor enables you to kill. The ‘loss of face’ in Japan meant that you had to kill yourself. You took responsibility. In Islamic culture, they kill you. This is much more convenient. You get to blame others and then kill them.

6) Islamic electoral policy has been classically summarized as "One man, (men only) one vote, once." Voting for Islam is a one-way street. Once Islam is the law, democracy is out of the picture. It cannot come back. Democracy is not compatible with Islam. This makes Islam and democracy inherently hostile to each other.

Some of these issues are ‘authentic’ Islamic laws that have been upheld by Islamic courts for 1400 years. I have listed only some of the larger issues. Many other ‘authentic’ laws that are hostile to our legal system, our way of life and the way of life for the rest of the world are not listed here.

These are not issues that can be negotiated. It is very unlikely that any of these issues, leave alone all of them, have a political solution. The cultural changes required in accepting change on any or all of these issues are too great and will trigger organized resistance every time. These issues are similar to the issue of slavery in that people will fight with organized warfare to prevent change. On the other side, like slavery, these issues are worth waging war to force change.

In conclusion, it is apparent that warfare within the Islamic world will continue into the indefinite future. At best, this conflict will take the form of irregular war until most, if not all of these issues are resolved. Either the world adopts Islam or Islam changes. Once again, the main problem is one of time and scale. With well over a billion Muslims, this change will take a VERY long time. Time is NOT on our side. Sooner or later a terrorist organization will obtain and deploy an effective weapon of mass destruction. Then the world MUST respond, massively and violently. Otherwise, the use of WMD will become a pattern, just like repeated suicide attack is a pattern today. In either case, the war will become much larger. The only question is how large will it become?

Friday, August 22, 2008

This war will become much larger

So far, the ‘war on terror’ is a guerrilla war. Irregular troops are pitted against civil authorities and the military of various countries. It is apparent that the motivations for terrorist actions are based upon Islamic ideology. The common denominator is the repeated suicide attacks. This is only the 2nd time in all of recorded history that this phenomenon has been seen. The 1st occurrence had its basis in the ideology of Bushido. This first occurrence of repeated suicide attack was eventually defeated through massive violence. The entire political, educational and economic systems of the area that produced these attackers were changed completely. The entire culture was changed drastically. The ideology of dying for the emperor was reduced to such a level that it was no longer an organized part of the culture. The ideology that is producing this same behavior today must likewise be eliminated in order to end the organized warfare. This will substantially change the culture that surrounds it. It is almost unthinkable that this type of change can occur without violence.

The widespread occurrence of the phenomenon of repeated suicide attack indicates that the population that is supplying these attackers is so large that it is most likely to continue into the indefinite future unless some cataclysmic event occurs. Such as World War III. The eventual spread of weapons of mass destruction makes the likelihood of their use in this war almost inevitable.

Warfare is conflict raised to the most organized, violent level. The conflicts that trigger wars many times are basic issues that cannot be resolved except through warfare. Slavery in the United States is one obvious example. No political solution was available to end slavery. This is a common feature with many wars. The issues that are underlying the current ‘terrorist wars’ today likewise will not be resolved without violence. Attempting to stall the resolution of these issues or preventing the violence that it triggers just may end up making the overall war much more devastating than it otherwise would be. The fact that so many people are involved in these issues already is an indicator of just how large this war can eventually become.

Most of the southerners who fought and died for slavery were good people. Most of the Germans and Japanese who fought and died in World War II were also good people. By far, the majority of the people who actively supported the war effort in these cases were likewise, good people. The problem was that they fought to preserve their ways of life, and that very way of life HAD to change. We are trapped in a similar situation today.

Islam MUST change. Don’t take my word. Please research Islam and the culture it has nourished. You will find good parts that are to be admired. However, like the Koran itself, Islam has a dark side. This dark side will not go away without violence. The interpretation of many of the rules and laws MUST change in order to be compatible with the rest of the world. Exposure to this change is occurring naturally as the global economy is forcing interaction with the rest of the world. This interaction is being resisted violently. Everywhere the Islamic culture is making contact with the rest of the world, violence is resulting. This must end. Either the world must change and adapt Islam or Islam itself must change. Otherwise, sooner or later one of the irregular groups will obtain an effective weapon of mass destruction. Once WMD are employed, it is a natural progression of warfare to increase the violence to a level the other side either cannot or will not match. In other words, the war will continue to escalate. As all major wars do. (I am defining major war as a war in which way of life is threatened.)

In summary, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are symptoms of a much wider conflict. It is possible that this conflict can be contained if governments that support Islamic terrorism continue to be toppled on a regular basis. This is very unlikely. Politically, the ‘West’ will be able to topple only one or two, if any more governments unless some major event occurs. More likely, the war will simmer for some time and appear to be either over or at such a low level where it is not believed to be a major factor anymore. Time will appear to be on our side. An overall problem is that this view is deceptive.

Time is NOT on our side. Sooner or later one of these terrorist organizations will obtain and deploy an effective weapon of mass destruction. At that point, this ‘Phony War’ will be over. How much larger the war will eventually become will depend upon how many WMD are deployed. Past patterns suggest a continued escalation of the war. The use of multiple weapons of mass destruction would become easily justified. Limiting the war to conventional arms would become extremely difficult, if not impossible. It is possible that ALL of the Islamic governments would then turn on the ‘terrorist’ organizations and eliminate them. More likely, the populations of these parts of the world will fight for their way of life. This resistance will very likely take a more organized form that what we are seeing today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Musharraf steps down

Pakistani President Musharraf resigned on Monday. For many years, I had believed that he would be removed by assassination. I am pleased to find that I was wrong. The big concern that I have is how Pakistan will carry on. Pakistan is a Muslim country. Islam and democracy do not mix very well. The only working example is Turkey, and the military has a very unusual amount of control for a democracy. How Pakistan works out the balance between democracy, Islam and the military will be a crucial factor in determining how effective the Pakistani government will become. It will also determine the course of Pakistan’s future and it's interaction with the rest of the world.

Once again, I am watching Pakistan because of their nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Pakistani technicians were a critical part of the nuclear black market ring that was broken up some years ago. Pakistan was heavily involved with the Taliban in Afghanistan during the 1990’s. They have a history of covert activity. Democracies do not conduct covert activity well. The openness of the democratic system does not lend itself to secrets. Autocratic governments perform this function much for effectively. This article is another effort to keep an eye on these guys.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Senator Obama is popular in the military

Senator Obama is obtaining much more money from military sources than is John McCain. Many more dollars sent into campaign headquarters from personnel in the military are going to Senator Obama than to John McCain. This counters the usual Republican advantage of popularity in the military. The problem with using this ‘fact’ as an indicator of leadership is twofold:

1) Popularity can change overnight.
2) Popularity is not a good indicator of good leadership.

George McCellan was very popular and loved by his troops. He was a great organizer, but he loved his troops too much. This was a fatal weakness. George Patton could be a real asshole. Yet he was one of the best generals this country has ever produced. (Funny how they have the same first name)

Popularity among the troops does not mean you are an effective leader. I wish we had another way to really find out that would not involve a war with us killing people. Yet that is the most often proven way. Grant was not very successful at anything until the Civil War broke out. This is not uncommon. Some people are just gifted at warfare. It is a common human failure (Or success, depending upon how you look at it) to have a narrow skill set that is uncommonly strong in one area. Many times, this is offset by weakness in other areas. Historians consider Grant to be one of our worst presidents. The implication is that a good general does not necessarily make a good president. Popularity by itself does not tell us much, except that he/she is popular.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Senator Obama has proposed a cut in ALL aspects of the U.S. military. His proposal includes ending the deployment along with the research and development of missile defense systems, reducing the number of active Army and Airforce units, reducing the number of naval ships and the systematic reduction of ALL procurement of new weapon systems. This cannot have any other effect than to significantly reduce overall capacity to wage war by our military. Yet this type of change has been implemented before.

President Jimmy Carter implemented many of these ideas during his administration. The net effect was an overall drop in capacity and efficiency within all aspects of the U.S. military. As it turned out, President Carter (And the U.S.) did not need the military to be up to scratch.

The overall point here is that many of the changes proposed by Senator Obama are NOT new. Many of the economic policies he proposes were also implemented by the Carter administration. One of his economic advisors is Paul Volker, who was head of the Federal Reserve during the Carter administration. Remember him? Inflation fighter by raising interest rates up to 22 percent. He has been given credit for defeating inflation. Of course, all new presidential candidates use former administration officials in an advisory capacity. But this is not new either.

President Regan did not implement many new ideas either. The so-called ‘Regan’ economics or ‘supply’ economics were just a shift back to many of the fundamentals that this country’s economy was founded upon.

President Carter was fond of saying how Democrats liked and looked forward to change. He had the advantage of having his party control both houses of Congress at the time, so implementation of change had few obstacles to hold them back. They were effective in creating change. The concept of ‘Stagflation’ WAS new. The problem was, many of the changes were not positive.

Please note how I have not discussed President Clinton. His administration took over after a huge victory by arms over Iraq. The military was downsized significantly during his administration. However, after the previous decade of increased spending and the victory in Gulf War I, the U.S. military had some slack to adjust. Also, during the Clinton administration, no wars of any duration occurred. The supply of ammunition ran low during our bombing of Serbia, but this problem has been around a long time. The point I would like to make here is that the new President in 2009 will inherit a situation that is more like 1977 than 1993. In both cases, after a prolonged, unpopular war that the military has been fighting on a peacetime budget. Probably one of the most significant differences here is that the wars today in Iraq and Afghanistan are much, much smaller than our involvement in Vietnam. No two situations are exactly alike.

I don’t know politics well, but I do know that many of the ideas that Senator Obama is proposing are not new. Of course, the result may be different. The variables present are so many and so vast that a repeat is unlikely. However, the general pattern looks similar. We may not get the same results, but I would expect something similar.

One final potential difference: The U.S. just may need the military to be in far better shape than it was during the Carter administration. The war today has the potential to become much larger. Our current enemies are far less likely to ‘turn their ships around’ in order to avoid nuclear warfare. If this became a reality, the U.S. would be at a much greater disadvantage than if we did not favor ‘change’. In many cases, this is only a minor problem. However, in warfare, men die as a direct result. The question at that point would be, how many would we lose and how bad would it be?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


During open warfare, cease-fires generally do not occur when one side is winning handily. The motive to halt any and all advances is not present. In this case, sometimes they occur on the tactical level to allow the other side to surrender without being wiped out. If a local stalemate has occurred, many are called to help tend to the wounded.

Cease-fires occur when it is apparently in both combatants’ interests. During World War II in the North African desert, an informal cease-fire naturally occurred at dawn and dusk. This allowed both sides to supply the forward units, who would have perished otherwise.

A cease-fire may or may not actually be in both sides’ interests. Sometimes, political interests outweigh the military interests. What the cease-fire allows is for both sides to re-supply and reinforce. Many times, this is in one side’s interest more than the other is. This is particularly true if one side has a dominance in manpower and supply. It is generally not in their best interest because continuance of combat would most likely be favorable to them. In these cases, most cease-fires are agreed to for political reasons.

On other occasions, agreement to a cease-fire is a mistake. It was mistakenly judged to be more favorable to them, but ended up by allowing the opposition to establish themselves more firmly in areas that were not strongly held.

Generally, cease-fires are temporary. The issues being fought over are not decided by cease-fires. In the case where the issue was decided prior to agreement of cease-fire, it does signal the end of the fighting. In this case, the cease-fire is an agreement that the war is over. This is NOT the case in the vast majority of cease-fires. At best, they temporarily stop the fighting to allow both sides to rest and prepare for the next round.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Excellent post

An excellent analysis of the Russian assault on Georgia is available at ''. It is worth the read.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Time off

I will be taking the next week off. Family trip.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Oil warfare

The only time in history where energy (oil or coal) was a strategic asset, or by cutting it off, a strategic liability, was near the end of World War II. The bombing of German refineries and the capture of key oil producing areas in 1944 significantly reduced German capacity to wage war effectively in 1945. The blockade of Japan in 1944 and 1945 through submarine and air warfare was almost complete. Just the lack of oil alone crippled Japanese efforts to wage war effectively in 1945. Mechanized warfare demands oil products like we need air to breathe.

Today, the most likely threat to the worlds supply of oil is in the Middle East. Either the destruction of the oil fields or a blocking of the straight of Hormuz would prevent a significant percentage of the world’s supply of oil from reaching the economies of the world. The effect would be a serious, if not a catastrophic blow to the world economies. However, unless this event was in the context of a large, regional war or of World War III, it is unlikely the effect would be long in duration.

In the event of a large war, or World War III, the blocking of oil shipments from the Middle East would trigger negative long-term economic effects. The demands for oil by the combatants would diminish the already limited supplies. If a major war were not occurring, the effect would be limited in nature.

The recovery from blocking of oil shipments would be more rapid than many believe. Unless a major war was going on, it is likely that the blockage would be removed within a short period of time. Also, the ability to shift production to meet demand in capitalist economies is much better than any other economic system. During World War II, Japan overran much of the world’s supply of rubber. The United States invented a synthetic rubber. Not that oil would be easily replaced, but without the severe demands placed upon the supplies by a major war, the economies of the world would be far better positioned to shift it’s reliance away from oil based products. Many alternatives are already available. It would not be pleasant, and it would be expensive in terms of standard of living, but the world would recover within relatively short period of time.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pakistani denial

The government of Pakistan has denied involvement in an attack upon the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. This should not surprise any of us. If they really were involved, why would they want to admit it? If innocent, naturally they would not want to be connected with something that they did not do.

Pakistan has a history of involvement in Afghanistan. Pakistani intelligence has been involved with the Taliban since the 1990’s. The involvement in the attack upon the Indian embassy could have been rouge elements. After all, loyalty to an individual over the central government is common throughout the region. Look at the leaders throughout the Islamic world and you will find this issue. (It is not uncommon in other parts of the world either, but the Islamic world appears to have a greater tendency toward this issue that is connected with violence.) This is most likely a best case scenario. Worst case is the Pakistani government is acting against us in an organized way. I consider India to be an ally far more than Pakistan. This is why I am so concerned about this attack upon the Indian embassy, and all attacks upon India in general.

Most certain way to start a war

Threaten a country or culture with a dramatic change in their way of life. The change does not have to be real. It just has to be perceived as being real. This is why good southerners fought for the evil of slavery. This is why so many good Germans and Japanese fought for evil during World War II.

This is why traditional Islam will fight long and hard. Many good Muslims will fight for many of the bad concepts present within the Koran. With the culture of hundreds of millions of lives at stake, this is why the war against terrorism just may end up becoming World War III.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Traditional Islam

"Traditional Islam views the world as belonging in one of two houses: The house of Islam, and the house of war."

"For most of the fourteen hundred years of Islamic history, the most common interpretation of Jihad is armed struggle for the advancement or defense of Muslim power."

"The presumption is that Jihad will continue (Interrupted only by truces) until either the entire world adopts Islam or is subjected to Muslim rule." (Bernard Lewis, Crisis of Islam C2003)

Islam has these and other mechanisms that have been in place for many centuries that are designed to expand its control and discriminate against all other ways of life.

This is not an ‘extreme’ view of Islam. Many of the so-called ‘extremists’ that we hear about are those who believe in traditional Islam. This is Islam as it has been commonly accepted throughout the Middle East for centuries.

Traditional Islam is NOT peaceful.