Sunday, May 31, 2009

North Korea

North Korea does not worry me as much as some other situations.

1) China has a vested interest in North Korea. China lost close to a million men in the 1950’s defending North Korea. China has some control over North Korea simply because China exports so much of what North Korea needs.

2) North Korea is somewhat isolated. Except for China, North Korea has little in the way of borders to cross. Geographically, North Korea is separated from our worst enemies.

3) As crazy as the leader of North Korea is, he is somewhat restrained by the China leadership. The North Korean leader has shown not to be suicidal. He blusters, threatens and is obnoxious. However, he has not invaded South Korea nor has he launched any nuclear attacks. Nor has he successfully organized an irregular army in any neighboring country. Islamic terrorists and their supporters cannot be expected to be as restricted.

North Korea is dangerous. However, they do not worry me as much as the repeated suicidal efforts that are originating from the Islamic world. Pakistan, Iran and Syria are all much more of a threat in that they already are supportive of irregular, armed forces in other countries. As such, they are NOT isolated. In addition, the occurrence of repeated suicide attack for only the 2nd time in all of recorded history demonstrates that the ideology of these same enemies would not be restraining them from deploying WMD if given the opportunity. This ideology is unlike ANY the world has seen since Japan in the 1940’s. Even the Soviet Union and China have demonstrated that they want their grandchildren to survive and prosper.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fighting Islamic terrorism successfully

Islamic ideology enjoys worldwide support. Much of this ideology is at the root cause of open warfare today. An example is the Islamic justification of warfare against ‘occupation’ of Muslim land. This is most easily recognized in the ‘occupation’ of Muslim land that the entire state of Israel exists upon. In most cases, worldwide support is just ideological support, not direct support in the form of money and/or weapons, manpower. This problem has been and is growing.

Islam is the fastest growing ‘religion’. International Islamic terrorism has been growing for many decades now, and is continuing to grow. A primary reason that the U.S. has not been hit since 9/11 has been the routing of international terrorist resources into Iraq and Afghanistan to fight the U.S. ‘occupation’. Now that these conflicts are slowing down, Islamic terrorist resources will become available to use elsewhere. The war will grow larger in scope and will resume in old hot spots and expand into new areas unless we wage offensive warfare to end state sponsorship.

State sponsorship of terrorism must end. Governments supporting terrorist organizations must be toppled before nuclear weapons are successfully deployed. In other words, open warfare must be initiated against Syria and Iran. The government of Pakistan must be watched closely. If Islamic ideology takes over, Pakistan must be invaded and the nuclear weapons eliminated. If we do not do this, this war will become much larger than it has ever been.

Time is NOT on our side. Sooner or later an Islamic terrorist organization will obtain and deploy weapons of mass destruction. Massive conventional warfare is preferred over nuclear warfare simply for the reason of containment of destruction and loss of life. The negative long-term worldwide ecological impact of nuclear radiation is another reason to favor conventional warfare. The source of an Islamic terrorist nuclear weapon (Or other WMD) is most likely a nation-state that has supplied the materials and knowledge. The only way to prevent this exchange is to eliminate the nation-states that share ideology with the Islamic terrorists. Syria and Iran are the most obvious.

What is not so obvious is where the covert support is originating. This is one of the fundamental problems with dealing with terrorism. Who is backing them? The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq has served to not only force our enemy to commit resources into these countries to fight our ‘occupation’, but has also served to expose some of those who support them. The link between North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Libya and Syria concerning the nuclear scientist from Pakistan was exposed. This is a priceless asset. In addition, many Muslims and Imams throughout the world openly supported the fight against ‘occupation’ which is one of the fundamental principals our enemy believes in. In other words, by waging offensive warfare we are forcing our covert enemies out into the open. Seeing as this is one of the basic problems in fighting terrorism in the first place, it only stands to reason that we should continue this strategy. In any case, the behaviors of Syria and Iran must change prior to the war against Islamic terrorism ending in our favor. As history has demonstrated, these governments will NOT change their behavior unless forced to do so. I doubt that anything short of violent force will obtain this objective.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Closing Gitmo and placing Islamic terrorists in U.S. Jails

Jail is fertile ground for rebellion in all cultures. All inmates claim to be innocent. The people inside have a built in incentive to be hostile to the system that put them in there. Throughout history, leaders of rebellions did time in jail. In other words, jail is a ripe place for violent, rebellious, ideology. The idea of placing Islamic terrorists into U.S. jails is only asking for violent trouble.

Placing Islamic terrorists into the U.S. prison system will be about the best move in the world for our enemies. The Islamic ideology is a very comfortable system for those who need strict controls. Islam has one of the most strict legal systems (If not THE most strict) in the world. Islam is also very clear when force and violence is allowed, which is surprisingly often. The balance of strict controls of behavior combined with lax restrictions upon violence and warfare would appeal to those who are subjected to a restricted life and constant physical threats.

I am not a psychologist. Experts in this field would be probably being far better at explaining the influencing factors at work. However, I do know that extreme situations call for extreme measures. This is why warfare and combat tend to bring out the best and worst in people. Islam is an extreme ideology and as such is ideally suited for extreme situations. The strict measures to be implemented, the 1400 years of legal jurisprudence that is available and the ready supply of ‘legal’ experts are good reasons as to why Islam is so easily implemented in areas where the state (Or ‘nation’) has failed. This is just what the inmates of jails would find appealing. Just what we have avoided by our placing these individuals in Gitmo. And what we would do well to avoid in the future.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Occupiers of Muslim land

One of the ‘authentic’ laws in the Koran is the global obligation to kill the ‘occupiers’ of Muslim land. The effect of this ‘law’ can be easily seen today. Muslims worldwide commonly refer to the Israeli ‘occupation’ of Palestine. This is one of the primary reasons that Iran has said that Israel should be wiped from the map. For many Muslims, the U.S. ‘occupation’ of Afghanistan is a reason to fight us. The ‘occupation’ of Iraq has triggered an even greater reaction and the resistance to ‘occupations’ continues to this day. One common argument against the invasion of Iraq was that it has created more ‘terrorists’ than we would have to face than if we did not ‘occupy’ Iraq in the first place. That by withdrawing, we would take away the incentive to hate and kill us. This is only partially correct.

It is true that by withdrawal, Muslims worldwide would be released of the obligation to kill the ‘occupiers’ of the Muslim lands of Afghanistan and Iraq. This will in no way release them from the obligation to remove the ‘occupation’ of Palestine. However, of direct concern to the U.S. is that the ‘occupation’ issue is only one of the laws that we are fighting against. As I have mentioned in the past, a number of issues are present that is unrelated to ‘occupation’ of Muslim land. Those issues are also worth waging war against. Political Islam contains numerous issues of this type. By reducing the confrontation, these issues would then not be addressed so forcefully. A major obstacle to this is the lack of nationalism within the Islamic world.

Nationalism has only begun to develop within the Arab world. Many of the nation-states that make up the Middle East were only created in the 20th century. We are forcing them to choose sides. Those who are willing to fight and kill to destroy the ‘occupiers’ are forced to take action. This is making them stand out. It is far easier for everyone to see whom the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys are. One of the greatest problems when dealing with terrorism is loyalty to Islam over your country. By making this distinction public, we help them deal with this entrenched ideology.
The development of loyalty to a nation over the ‘nation of Islam’ will take many generations, (centuries) if it occurs at all. Islamic terrorism will not end until the system of laws like killing the ‘occupiers‘is altered substantially or completely ignored. History has shown time and again that the result of such change will be (And should be) open warfare. In wars of this type, you will be forced to kill many ‘good’ people. Like the good southerners that fought with good reasons for what they believed to be right.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lessons from invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq

Not long after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, troops of the Northern Alliance had Mohammed Omar surrounded. He managed to cut a deal and escape. At the time, the total number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan did not exceed 6,000. I had felt at the time that this was an insufficient number. I had wanted 20,000 to 40,000. I still feel to this day that if we had that many in Afghanistan at the time, Omar would not have gotten away. What happened in our next invasion did not make me any happier.

After the fall of the government of Iraq, looting was widespread. At the time, the U.S. had only 100,000 troops to ‘occupy’ a country of more than 28 million. I was surprised that the number of troops was so small, particularly after the invasion of Afghanistan demonstrated that we had underestimated the number required. I had felt that a minimum of 250,000 was necessary. The First Gulf war was fought with more than 300,000 U.S. troops. I still believe that if the U.S. had put 250,000 plus troops into Iraq we would not have seen the anarchy that was witnessed in the period after the fall of the Iraqi government.

Please note that this probably would not have changed what happened in Iraq over the next 3 to 5 years, because the U.S would probably have drawn down the number of troops shortly after order had been established. The subsequent ‘insurgency’ would probably have occurred anyway.

One main point that I want to emphasize is that in war, it is generally better to use too much force, rather than not enough. General Eisenhower once said that if he was told to take a hill that was defended by a company and he was given a battalion, he would take the hill. He would lose some men, but he could do it. Give him a division and he would not lose a man. Colin Powel called it ‘overwhelming force’. I suspect that the Obama administration believes that our enemies are only a VERY small minority of the total population of Muslims that have an ‘extremist’ view. Otherwise, he would realize that a great deal more force is required. In war, it is generally better to be safe than sorry. By making the assumption that our enemies are so weak in numbers our government appears to disagree with this axiom.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New strategy

The replacement of the U.S. commander in Afghanistan is a clear signal of a new strategy by the Obama administration. It is clear that an aggressive, attrition based strategy is being changed to one of a ‘lighter footprint’. This reminds me of a few things:

President Carter wanted to have a lighter, more rapid deployment force in our military. This concept was defeated badly by political means. Today, this is being implemented not just in the forces being deployed, but in the manner that they will be acting. This worries me.

Throughout history, the movement/armor balance has been the key to winning wars. Armor is important to a point, to protect the soldiers from injury. However, armor is heavy. It can slow and prevent rapid movement. The ability to move rapidly can be a decisive advantage in many situations. The trick is to know what the balance is.

The armored knight on horseback was helpless when he had been knocked off of his horse. However, against infantry, knights were decisive for centuries. The longbow can along and could injure knights and horses from long ranges. The invention of the pike and firearms ended the armored Calvary’s dominance of the battlefield.

"Speed is armor" was the principal that drove the design of battlecruisers in the first part of the 20th century. Battleship sized guns were placed on ships with the armor of a cruiser. This made the ship lighter and faster. This saying was proven false when the HMS Hood was blown out of the water by the newer battleship Bismarck, which was just as fast.

The German Tiger tank was a formidable opponent on the battlefield. What many people don’t know was that it was slow and broke down often. And a broken down Tiger needed another to tow it away. This made for an inviting target. Most Tiger tanks were lost to mechanical failure, rather than enemy action. It was basically a defensive weapon.

The point here is that balance is the key. Is a ‘lighter footprint’ the key to winning the war in Afghanistan?

I have not believed that we were going to win the war in Afghanistan in the first place. The terrain is the world’s worst for a military like the U.S. I believe that we need to fight in other places as well as Afghanistan just so that we can keep the attrition up and the pressure on our enemies. Slowing down the fighting by withdrawal from Iraq and having a ‘lighter footprint’ in Afghanistan means that we will need an additional front to keep the heat on our enemies. Otherwise, I believe our enemy will have resources to deploy in other parts of the world where we are more vulnerable. I doubt that our commander-in-chief is thinking along these lines.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Muslim loyalty

I have a question that needs to be asked. Are Muslims changing loyalty over the generations, or is Islam still dominant over government and culture? Does Muslim loyalty change over time?

I would be very interested in a survey that researched the loyalty of Muslims who have immigrated to ‘western’ countries. Having studied military history, I believe that loyalty is tested and most visible when the shooting begins. A good question to research would be to ask how an immigrant Muslim feels about their adopted country going to war against an Islamic country. Example: Ask British Muslims from Pakistan how they would feel or react to England going to war against say, Egypt or Jordan? I will also be interested in hearing what the 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants feel. How would they respond to the draft if they were of age?

I imagine that the answers would vary depending upon the country and culture. Islam is a political idea as much as a religious concept. I would expect loyalty to the ideas of political Islam to be much more powerful than loyalty to a particular religion or even country. Loyalties do change, but some will not. I will use the example of the loyalty of Robert E. Lee to Virginia over the United States. Or of all of those other southerners who died defending slavery. I am not saying that Islam is like this. I am saying that the loyalty to Islam is still widely unknown when put to the real test of open warfare. This is where loyalty is decided and open.

My family was still 1st generation German when war broke out between the U.S. and Germany in 1917. At that point, my grandfather said that we were Americans and would speak no more German in this house. I know that everyone cannot be expected to be like this, but I would expect some type of gradual change to the new country and culture. I would expect loyalty to the new environment within at least 2 or 3 generations. I suspect that Islam would be extremely resistant to this type of change in general and true loyalty to take much, much longer if it is accomplished at all.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Political Islam

Islam is not just a religion. Islamic legal rulings have been issued for 1400 years. Islamic legal scholars have issued binding legal rules based upon the Koran in a way that is vaguely similar to our legal system ruling upon the U.S. Constitution. The Koran specifies a foreign policy such as when to wage war and when to make and break treaties. The Koran also specifies economic policy such as the prohibition on charging interest on loans.

One of the major problems that I have with this ‘political’ Islam is that no group can be held responsible for any acts committed, as in the example of a nation-state declaring war. The enemies are then known and the international community understands the situation. Islam makes a mockery of this concept. Take the group of Islamic leaders that met last March in Istanbul for an example. They issued the following declaration: "The obligation of the Islamic Nation [is] to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation. This must be rejected and fought by all means and ways."

One problem I have here is who is held accountable for this? These leaders are speaking about waging warfare, yet no nation on the planet Earth can be held accountable, nor can they be attacked in this war. How can you have a war without two sides fighting? Is this not the same problem that we face when dealing with terrorism? This is also the same problem we are facing when dealing with the piracy issue in the waters off of Somalia. What nation can be held accountable for the acts of war that is taking place? It is not surprising to me that in all three cases, political Islam is at the heart of the issue. The following summary is only a few of the major issues at hand. I am sorry for repeating myself, but as history has demonstrated time and again, these issues are NOT going away without organized violence in the form of warfare.

As a historian, I have read numerous publications favoring Islam, such as some written by Karen Armstrong. I have noticed that in all of these cases, the issues that I have listed below (Plus some others I have left out) are either not covered at all, or are dismissed as not being relevant. They stress the personal behavior of Mohammed and his values. They do not discuss the legal system nor do they discuss the political structure that he built with the Koran. Some ‘political’ issues that are at the cause of the constant warfare that is so common throughout the Muslim world:

1) Tribute – Payment by infidels living in Islamic controlled land to Muslim authorities. I begin with this one because of the undeclared war that the U.S. initiated in 1804 as a result of this issue. The payment of the ‘jizya’ exempts them from military service. This is a clear violation of a sovereign government’s right to conscript people into the military. Not to mention the clear discriminatory nature of the concept in general. In addition, taxation is a function of a government, not a religion.

2) Kill the ‘occupiers’ of Muslim land. Execution of people and the ability to declare war are two of the most important rights of a sovereign government. This is another clear violation of a modern government’s sovereign responsibilities. Islam has no ‘land’ nor ‘waters’ to defend. Governments do.

3) The penalty for leaving Islam is death. This is a primary cause for all of the internal warfare common within the Islamic world. The Sunni/Shiite confrontation or ‘sectarian’ violence between them is a direct result of the fact that the two sides see each other as having left Islam.

4) The act of stoning people to death has to end. This is a punishment that is suitable in a mob mentality. It is a pre-medieval concept that has no place in the modern world. As has been proven time and again, just attempting to rid Islam of this will trigger violence. Clearly a large number of people will violently resist any effort to eliminate just this single ‘law’.

5) Jihad is also a medieval concept. The payment of booty was how armies were commonly paid prior to the rise of the nation-state and professional armies. No wonder the Islamic world is so sensitive about mention of the crusades. Jihad has been and is today the Islamic version of crusade. Jihad must change. Jihad must be converted into a crusade that is SOLELY internal to the individual. History has demonstrated that within Islam, this is far from being the case, even today. This issue may be fading, but it is doing so violently. To expect anything else is not to understand how important this issue is in relation to historical and political Islam.

6) Islamic electoral policy has been classically summarized as "One man, (men only) one vote, once." If this is not political Islam, I don’t know what is.

These issues are clearly hostile concepts to our culture, our governmental system and our way of life. Historically, warfare is commonly the result of these types of differences. Just look at the Israeli-Palestinian problem. No permanent peace can be obtained with these types of differences. Organized violence will continue until these issues are resolved. This is a far larger problem than many believe.

It is commonly believed that the vast majority of Muslims worldwide only endorse a few, if any of these ‘laws’. This is an erroneous view. It may be that the majority of Muslims don’t believe in political Islam as represented by these ‘laws’, but at a minimum, a significant minority must. Just look at the worldwide support that imams enjoy. And the authority they wield is unlike any religious authority in the entire world. Imams can field personal armies. Just look at Iraq. The authority comes from some of the issues I have discussed above. This ability to deploy a personal army is not uncommon throughout the Islamic world. Just look at the trouble that Imams cause in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, just to name two. As Islam is spreading, this problem is also spreading into the non-Islamic world as well. Just look at the problems that Imams are causing in Western Europe and other parts of the world. Unless these issues are addressed forcefully, they will continue to simmer. This can only lead to large explosions from time to time. Unless a systematic change is consistently implemented, ultimately, a large confrontation can be expected. It can only be a matter of time.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Terrorism and piracy

I recently read an article that discussed how the Somalia pirates are not like terrorists. This article describes how the pirates and terrorists have a close relationship at times. I believe the relationship is closer than what the author believes. Terrorists don’t carry arms openly, use military tactics and weapons to prey on civilians. No government support or nation is responsible for any actions that they take. The same can be said about pirates. About the only difference I can see is supposedly a political aim for terrorists and money for piracy. Please note that it is expensive to wage war. In other words, terrorists need money to operate, and lots of it.

In 1804 the pirates operating out of North Africa were demanding Tribute from the United States. The U.S. had in fact been paying them for years, but finally tired of it. Tribute is an Islamic law that requires infidels paying the Muslim authorities to live in an Islamic governed area. These pirates in 1804 were demanding Tribute from infidel ships passing through Muslim ‘waters’. This is an Islamic concept and it has been enforced for centuries. It would appear that this could apply in Somalia as well. Hence, the close ‘relationship’ that the Islamic terrorist organizations have with the pirates of Somalia.

One of the major problems I have with Islam is the fact that ‘authentic’ Islam is a nation-state. Wars are fought over issues of this type. Muslim ‘land’ and ‘waters’ cannot be defended by anything except a nation-state. The Catholic Church can’t just send men out to kill because some people ‘occupied’ land that belonged to a Catholic. The meeting of Islamic leaders at the end of March actually declared war and even called upon the "Nation" of Islam to sink warships passing through Muslim ‘waters’. Without an actual nation or government to be held accountable for any of these acts of war, this group fits one of the distinctions that define the act of piracy.

Islam has been fielding an army since 610 AD. The crusades were actually a short lived, ineffective response. The Islamic version of crusade (Jihad) continued and is still going. "For most of the fourteen hundred years of Islamic history, jihad has been most commonly interpreted as armed struggle for the advancement or defense of Muslim power."(Bernard Lewis) This crusade today is expressing itself as terrorism. Many wars have been fought for far less important reasons that this.