Sunday, September 27, 2009

Who is the enemy?

The United States has numerous enemies. Most are not out to kill us as just to oppose us intentionally. Many are willing to do business even though they are more than just a competitor. Some are willing to outright kill us. Speaking as a citizen of the United States I feel that the most important thing an American can do is identify our enemy that is killing us and desires to kill us by the millions. Who are these people? How can we tell them from those that do not? The suicide bombers are a good place to start tracing back to help find out. Osama has spoken many times and defined why he is at war against us. Those who want to do the United States great harm are those who believe in many of the ‘laws’ that Osama and many like him believe in. The enemy are those who want and believe in political Islam.
Political Islam posted (5/6/09)

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. These issues are clear violations of the responsibilities and authority of nation-states.

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. The "Nation of Islam" has REAL political power. This political power is in clear violation of separation of church and state and in ALL cases override the authority of the government. The following list specifies some of the ‘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’ (poll tax) 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 in Nigeria in 2006, 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. One example is the Israeli-Palestinian problem. No permanent peace has been possible nor can real peace 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 western 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 within the Islamic world. Just look at the trouble that Imams cause in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, just to name two. People are more loyal to the Imam and Islam than they are to the government. The U.S. Civil War was needed to resolve this issue within the United States. (Slavery was the other main issue.) Then we have the ‘good’ southerners.

Most southerners that fought for slavery did not do so because they owned slaves. Many did not even like the concept. (Robert E. Lee is an excellent example) They fought for their way of life. In other words, the entire way of life of the South in 1860 was based upon that ‘peculiar institution’. These people were not bad people. Yet they had to be killed. Their way of life had to be completely turned upside down. History has shown time and again that ‘good’ people will fight violently to prevent this. Many in the United States and the rest of the world today do not appear to understand this.

As Islam is spreading, the problems with political Islam are also spreading. 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 that eliminates 'political Islam' is consistently implemented, ultimately, a large confrontation (War) can be expected. It can only be a matter of time.

Friday, September 25, 2009

He who defends nothing

The Obama administration is considering prosecuting CIA Operatives for potential illegal activities during the Bush administration. The Obama administration is pulling back the missile defense program and re-directing it. The U.S. is also reconsidering selling more advanced missile interception technology to Israel. At the same time, our current government is going to begin reducing our military in multiple ways. Not only the general size, but also weapons procurement. All of this at a time when we are switching our strategic posture to defensive as opposed to an offensive strategy pursued by the Bush administration.

There is an old military saying: "He who defends everything defends nothing."

If you spread your defensive forces around evenly, then you are not strong anywhere. When fighting defensive war, you are attempting to preserve your forces as much as possible. You must develop and maintain something of a reserve in order to take advantage of temporary openings your enemy might let occur. It is not wise to forsake battle entirely because you remove your ability to dictate events at all. As a result, it is a very sound strategy to decide where and under what conditions you will engage enemy forces.

No wonder the Obama administration is having such difficulty developing a new strategy for Afghanistan. It is very difficult to wage war effectively while withdrawing at the same time. While retreat is an important part of preserving your forces, no part of the United States military is being threatened with destruction. Retreat under these conditions is not only unnecessary, it is unwise. On top of this, I do not see any clear strategic places where we WILL engage our enemy’s forces. (Except within our own cities.) I really doubt that the Obama administration would back up (With military force) any of our allies that are attacked, particularly Israel. You find out whom your REAL friends are when the bullets are flying. It looks more to me as if the United States is attempting to defend nothing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hybrid strategy

I pulled the following two paragraphs from today.

"According to the senior U.S. official, one alternative being discussed inside the administration is to continue current military operations for the next year, but also to accelerate reconciliation with Taliban leaders and warlords. In addition, it would involve getting an agreement to base a significant U.S. military intelligence-gathering operation inside Afghanistan to keep watch for any re-emergence of al Qaeda."

"The official described this proposal as a "hybrid" strategy. It would be somewhat short of the pure counterinsurgency that would involve a large number of troops focused on fighting the Taliban, plus efforts to rebuild the country and its economic system. But it would have more capability than a counterterrorism strategy, in which a limited number of troops would target only al Qaeda."

It looks as if the Obama administration is struggling to devise a 'new' strategy. I am guessing that he expected to devise an effective one quickly and is beginning to find out that the problem is a little more than he expected.

Throughout history, weapons have been designed with multiple functional capability. In many cases, these weapons failed in that they could not do either function really well. A classic example is the hybrid battleship/carrier ISE that Japan built in World War II. A major problem with compromise on this level is that the two considerations can cancel each other out to a large degree. This can be true of strategy as well. If the major components are not very compatible, the effort to merge them into one will degrade the effectiveness of both to a point where it is probably better to just make a different effort. I find it difficult to believe that our intelligence-gathering effectiveness will be enhanced by less direct involvement of our fighting men at the side of our allies in the area. This appears at first glance to resemble the ‘pacification’ strategy that the U.S. adopted when we began to re-think our troop commitments in Vietnam in the early 1970’s.

Not that I am in favor of massive troop reinforcements in Afghanistan. As I have stated in the past, the U.S. will not win, nor will we lose the war against terrorism by our winning or losing in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is part of the overall symptom, but it is NOT the basic cause of the war.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No strategy

I heard a clip yesterday of President Obama answering a question about sending more troops to Afghanistan. He said that troop levels would be looked into, but that before a decision can be made, a strategy must be designed. Makes sense, first devise a strategy prior to deciding upon the level of war that you wish to wage. The only problem that I see here is that President Obama has been our Commander-in-Chief for almost 8 months and he still does NOT have a strategy yet. This is not a good beginning.

After his speech last week, it occurred to me that President Obama is devoting far more energy and time into designing a new health care system that will replace the most productive health care system in the world. This is a very large and demanding task, so it makes sense that the development of a new war winning strategy must wait. In the meantime, the war goes on with us killing people and our enemies keep on killing us. I guess our President ranks the priority of waging war well below that of our many domestic challenges. Well, he will get around to it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Health care

This blog is devoted to armed conflict. Although the issue of Heath care is not ARMED conflict, the ideological conflict that is demonstrated by this issue is of a nature that is similar to many issues that have resulted in open warfare in the past.

I am going off my topic of warfare on this post because we are being bombarded with information on health care reform. President Obama’s speech last week had NO mention of the current war and was entirely devoted to the topic of health care. As I have stated in the past, the news media is outstanding regarding political issues, political events and political analysis. This debate about health care reform is no exception. In war, (As with most other things) it is generally best to stick to your strengths.

Throughout our history, the United States has given many gifts to mankind. The many inventions our people have made that have enabled the people of the world to enjoy a more advanced lifestyle. Another gift to the world has been our system of governance and economics, which encourage these inventions to occur. (Capitalism) Over the past 4 decades, our ability to lead the world in so many ways has been diminished greatly. One of the little strengths that the United States still has is our health care system. We still lead the entire world with our breakthroughs in medical technology and techniques.

My question is: WHY the hell do we wish to drastically change this? So that it is cheaper? You know the old saying: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. So if health care becomes free, how will this make it better?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama's speech

Last night, I watched most of President Obama’s speech. I have my own opinion about health care, but I noticed that he did not attempt to speak about any other subject. Maybe this is just me, but I consider the act of killing people to be THE most important subject that our President should be dealing with. I understand that he must deal with a host of other issues, but to address a joint session of Congress without discussing the war at hand seems like misplaced priority. Maybe he will address this issue at some future point. Once again, I can be wrong, but I suspect that his idea is that the war will gradually slow down (Now that we are disengaging in Iraq) to some acceptable level where it can then be just a back burner issue.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Withdrawal from Afghanistan?

A worldwide obligation exists for all Muslims to "Kill the occupiers" of ‘Muslim lands’. The nation-state of Islam is alive and well in Iraq and Afghanistan (And a bunch of other Islamic countries) as is being seen today. If memory serves, then senator Obama was NEVER in favor of invading Iraq and has been in favor of a withdrawal from Iraq ever since. Three years ago he described the war in Iraq as being the ‘wrong war’ and later that the ‘surge’ was a failure. Now that we are faced with a similar situation, will President Obama favor a withdrawal from Afghanistan?

Afghanistan is NOT the same as Iraq. All wars are different. One indicator is that the level of violence is rising in Afghanistan and many people interpret this as losing the war. This is a very mistaken interpretation. Even when winning, it is possible to be on the defensive, even for extended periods of time. Rising levels of violence in warfare is common as war progress. Wars are won by raising the level of violence to a point where your enemy either cannot or will not match or exceed. The point is, rising levels of violence is NOT an accurate indicator of one side winning or losing. If this is the case, what will we do now?

Many Americans favor withdrawal from Afghanistan. The belief is that the war will then wind down, we will then be out of the war directly. I am guessing that we Americans believe that we will then be left alone, like the Vietnamese left us alone after our withdrawal from Vietnam. (And after the fall of South Vietnam) I am very interested in seeing how President Obama reacts to all of this. After all, the war in Afghanistan was the ‘right’ war. I imagine that he will persist for at least the next year or two. If he remains true to his convictions (that this war will NOT be won by the military, but instead won by police and the rule of law) then we can probably expect a wind down of military operations in Afghanistan followed by a withdrawal of military personnel.