Sunday, December 27, 2009

Muslim extremism rising threat

The LA Times (By Sebastian Rotella December 7, 2009)
U.S. sees homegrown Muslim extremism as rising threat

This may have been the most dangerous year since 9/11, anti-terrorism experts say.
Reporting from Washington - The Obama administration, grappling with a spate of recent Islamic terrorism cases on U.S. soil, has concluded that the country confronts a rising threat from homegrown extremism. (Please read full article for additional information)

This has been expected. We can expect this trend to continue as the United States continues to shift from a strategic offensive posture to that of the strategic defensive. Complete withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan will allow this trend to accelerate even faster because the net amount of combat with our enemies will be falling. The loss and attrition rate will also fall allowing our enemy the ability to decide where the war will be fought.

Trust me, defensive warfare sucks. Even if you disagreed with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, you could not fail to notice how U.S. positions worldwide were not being hit like they had before 9/11. Since then, our military was being hit in the combat areas, but that is what they are designed for. Our enemies did not match up well against our soldiers, as was proven by the black eye our enemy received in Iraq. Now that the net amount of combat against our military is and has been falling, our enemy can devote resources to new endeavors. It only makes sense that they begin to deploy over here.

The foreign threat can more easily target the domestic population for conversion or open assistance than to strike U.S. internal physical targets openly. Prisons are the most natural place to begin. The U.S. government’s open assistance in this area just enables our enemies to advance their schedule and even broaden the scope of operations.

Many argued that we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan so that we would not have to fight over here. Many discounted this argument as being false. While many may still consider that the jury is out on this argument, this ‘homegrown Islamic jihad’ will be a good indicator over the next several years as to how our war against political Islam is going. At the same time, we cannot ignore attacks upon allies in Europe and throughout the world. I would expect the trend here in the United States to fall into a similar pattern that we have been seeing in Europe for the past decade or more. In addition, Israel is a good place to watch. This is a flash point between the culture of Islam and the open societies of the ‘west’ and as such is a focal point in the war.

In conclusion, the year 2009 marked an increase in ‘homegrown’ Islamic ‘radical’ arrests and attacks within the continental United States. This is being seen as a rising threat by the U.S. government. Seeing that this was President Obama’s first year in office, we shall get a good idea as to how effective his prosecution of the entire war is proceeding by watching how this trend regarding internal ‘homegrown’ Islamic terrorism goes over the next several years.

Monday, December 21, 2009

President Obama and withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan

I pulled this from today

US affirms Iraq withdrawal plan on track
December 11, 2009 by Moreover Technologies - Iraq news - 30 of 10274 returned Filed under Iraq Economic News

BAGHDAD: Delayed elections in Iraq and a bloody attack this week will not derail US troop withdrawal plans, US officials said as Defence Secretary Robert Gates flew into Baghdad to meet Iraqi leaders. Gates did not see one of his main Iraqi counterparts.

Please note how Gates does not need to speak with any of the Iraqi counterparts. President Obama is pulling out no matter what the situation on the ground is in Iraq. I expect him to do the same in Afghanistan in 2011. The fact that he pulled the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan will be politically good for him and the Democratic party during the election cycle of 2012.

I do not believe that politics and warfare mix well. We shall see how well things progress over the next few years.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

President Obama and warfare

Judging public figures is difficult at best. I use the O.J. Simpson example because I had thought that he was such a good guy. It was determined that he was innocent of murder, but I still had no idea of what he was really like until the trial made more of his private life public. The President of the United States is probably the best well known of all political figures and even then can be difficult to see what they are really like. In the Presidents that I have been old enough to vote for or against, (Beginning in 1976) I can say that I have been able to pretty well see what we got before he took office. I may have disagreed with them, but at least I pretty well knew where they stood and what they would do. I believe that one of the best compliments that George W. Bush received was that he was pretty much like what you saw on TV. I doubt if most can have ever had that said about them. (For better or worse)

President Obama is pretty much what I have expected. I noted during his interview with David Letterman well before the election, that then Senator Obama spoke eloquently, but what he was saying was not moderate. His comments about the war were not those of someone who was seeking compromise or of a person with flexibility. Yet he was attempting to project that type of image with the way that he spoke. Please note that my area of interest and expertise tends to be in the foreign affairs area. Mainly concerning conflict. President Obama is delivering what he said he would and about what I expected, not that I am in favor of it.

As President Obama stated during the run up to the election, he is attempting to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. This is following up on a decision that he had made prior to finding out many of the complications involved. Despite what he finds out in the process, he will push forward and will have that facility closed well before he is up for re-election in 2012. This is not a moderate course of action. This is the action of someone who does not compromise. This is something that goes against what his image tells us.

President Obama has stated that he will speak with our enemies. He is delivering on this. Not that I am necessarily against this, it is just that much in the way of results cannot have been reasonably expected. The question is: How persistent will he be? A moderate would change tactics within a fair amount of time. I believe that enough time has already elapsed. I expect President Obama to persist for a long time yet. Most likely he will persist because the only decisive alternative is offensive warfare.

Strategic withdrawal from the region that is the most volatile in the world is not a moderate course of action. This is the same area of the world that generated the attackers on 9/11. Severe risk aversion to open conflict is apparent. These issues (Along with a few other things) makes me conclude that President Obama ranks near the most extreme views regarding resistance to open warfare. This will encourage him to seek the strategic defensive. His attention and focus would tend to be inward. This would encourage focus upon domestic enemies and tend to downplay the foreign threat. Republics do not tolerate long wars. This yields long-term political advantage. This helps clarify political strategy. One of President Obama’s better skills is as a politician. As such, he is predictable. This is not a good quality to posses during wartime, even when fighting a defensive war. I expect President Obama to stick to his plan to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan in time for the election cycle of 2012. The surge in Afghanistan along with the timetable for withdrawal is a similar escalation and pull out strategy that JFK attempted to implement beginning in early 1961. It failed miserably for Vietnam, though it can be argued that this was not President Kennedy’s fault.

On a general note, the Democratic Party almost needs a world war before they will risk waging open warfare. Not all Democrats are like this, but a solid percentage. This is a severe aversion for the risk of war that President Obama shares. If President Obama follows through as I believe he will, it will demonstrate not only his risk aversion to war, but also how he is placing politics ahead of the war. He believes that the war is political and can be solved by strategic retreat. This is not a moderate course of action. Strategic retreat is usually a result of a massive defeat of some type, militarily, political or economic.

I do not expect that the U.S. will lose this war. However, we will take far more serious losses than we should because the leadership of our country is so risk adverse. Severe risk aversion actually raises the risk of overt attacks. Balance is crucial in just about everything. President Obama is not balanced when viewing his actions concerning the war that the United States is engaged in today.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Islamic moderates are just as human as anyone else

The vast majority of Muslims worldwide are good people. They just want to live their lives and bring up their children.

I would like to discuss this topic because so many of us are caught up in the idea that we can win this war by appealing to the ‘good’ people in the areas of the world that are so hostile to us.

In 1944, the vast majority of Germans and Japanese were good people. Yet despite that fact, they were the enemy and were actively attempting to kill us. Nationalism has been a driving force in loyalty during wartime since the rise of the nation-state a few centuries ago. Most Germans and Japanese did not hold any dislike toward the U.S. or England. However, they were Germans and Japanese first, as we are Americans first.

In 1864, the vast majority of southerners in the Confederate States of America were good people. Many did not own slaves and many were not even favorable toward it, yet they fought and died for the way of life that slavery allowed.

The fact that people are good does not matter regarding the causes of warfare. Nor will it necessarily win or lose any war that they may be engaged in. Appealing to the moderates regarding issues of these types has historically been to no avail. People will side with what they are familiar with. In addition to other issues, Islam is resisting the sovereignty and authority of the modern nation-state. Issues of this type have been around since the dawn of time. History has demonstrated time and again that people will NOT change willingly and will fight openly instead.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam: A comparison

With the announcement of President Obama’s Afghan strategy, I am hearing people comparing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today with the war in Vietnam. In this comparison, Afghanistan is more similar to Vietnam than Iraq. In some ways, they are all similar. In others, they are not.

Iraq: Because the desert is such an ideal environment for mechanized forces, the US can and did isolate each battlefield. The enemy could not disengage. This is a MAJOR difference between Iraq and Vietnam. At the time, politically, both the ‘Tet’ offensive and the ‘surge’ in Iraq were defeats for the United States. Militarily, during ‘Tet’ the VC and NVA were hammered, but it was not apparent to those in the United States at the time. In Iraq, the drop in resistance was much more obvious proof of how the war was going. Even those who did not believe the war was winnable could not miss how our enemy was beaten up in Iraq. This was not apparent regarding ‘Tet’ in Vietnam.

Afghanistan – The irregular enemy units can ‘melt away’ into the countryside far more readily in Afghanistan than Iraq. The U.S. is forced to patrol in a way that is more similar to Vietnam than the set piece battles fought in Iraq. The enemy can refuse battle. This was not possible in Iraq. The enemy could only operate within the cities; they were dead meat in the open desert. Each city, town or village could be surrounded and taken one by one.

In Vietnam, the enemy was being supplied across a border with a neighboring country. This is also true in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In Iraq, the entire country could be isolated simply because the environment is so well suited to our forces. Supply and reinforcement from neighboring countries was limited by our interdiction. The United States controlled the countryside (Desert) in Iraq whereas we could not in Vietnam. We will be unable to control the countryside in anything like the same effectiveness in Afghanistan, even if we toss in 100,000 more soldiers.

The US aggression in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the direct result of 9/11. Even if you see them both as being unjustified, the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were a reaction to 9/11 and the ideology behind it. Vietnam was never able to even threaten to hit us. Even if you believe that Iraq and Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11, it cannot be denied that the U.S. initiated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because the enemy actually struck the mainland. The minor action in the Gulf of Tonkin was the excuse for large-scale involvement in Vietnam. Not much of a comparison.

The Soviet Union (Which held and supported the ideology of the enemy in Vietnam) was not stupid enough to attack the United States directly. Repeated suicide attack is a major difference. Our current enemies have demonstrated that they possibly can be crazy enough to use weapons of mass destruction. The Soviet Union proved that they were not when they turned their ships around in October 1962.

The strategy in Vietnam was fundamentally altered when President Kennedy took office. (Please read post of evolution of United States involvement in Vietnam 10/20/08 for details) We went from a small scale, tactical approach to a large-scale reorganization of the Vietnamese army. The driving force behind this was the political deadline of January 1, 1964 that was set by President Kennedy one week after he took office. The objective was for the end of all United States military involvement in Vietnam by that date. This move escalated the war.

President Obama has placed a political deadline for our involvement in Afghanistan. He is fundamentally altering the strategies for both Iraq and Afghanistan. A full withdrawal in Iraq will most likely take place, instead of a more drawn out ‘downsizing’. The change is coming after a defeat of our enemies in Iraq, so any enemy recovery will take more time than otherwise would have been the case. In Afghanistan, the strategy change is just a repeat of our ‘surge’ in Iraq with the political deadline of July 2011 as being the date of beginning the withdrawal. I am certain that President Obama intends to be out of both Iraq and Afghanistan before the election cycle of 2012. The end of the war in Vietnam prior to the election of 1964 was President Kennedy’s political objective. Both President Kennedy and President Obama wanted to end the war before the next presidential election cycle. One minor difference is that President Kennedy set his political deadline only a week after taking office. President Obama took 10 months to set his deadline, at least publicly.

The war in Vietnam ended (As far as the United States was concerned) when we withdrew our troops from South Vietnam. I suspect that President Obama (and many others) believes that this will be the case today concerning withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. If you believe that both countries had nothing to do with 9/11, it makes sense that you would believe that they would leave us alone after we leave. I disagree. I believe this is another fundamental difference between Vietnam and Afghanistan-Iraq. Time will tell on this one.

Both in Vietnam and Afghanistan today the major support for our enemy came across a border with a nuclear-armed country. One difference between Pakistan and China is that the United States is launching attacks into Pakistan, whereas we made great efforts to avoid hitting any part of China. Besides, most of the fighting was in South Vietnam, which did NOT share a border with China. In other words, the war was being fought away from the actual border with the nuclear-armed country. In Afghanistan, we are actually driving the enemy forces toward and across the border. Iraq had no such similarity in nuclear-armed neighbors who were directly involved.

As can be seen from this brief overview, many differences are present between Vietnam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today. As all wars are unique, this can be expected. This is why it is so dangerous to ‘fight the last war again’ as is so common.

While many do not hold the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq accountable for the attacks on 9/11, this covers the overall problem of no governmental accountability for political Islam. While the idea that the government of Iraq had nothing directly to do with 9/11 may be accurate, political Islam is alive and well in Iraq as well as throughout the Muslim world. Political Islam is what attacked the United States on 9/11. WMD was a good excuse to hold the government of Iraq responsible for the personal armies that political Islam has been fielding, despite the fact that Iraq had no WMD. A number of other governments meet this qualification as well.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sadr is coming back

I pulled this from:

"Anti-American Shia leader Muqtada al Sadr during the summer of 2008 formed the Promise Day Brigade after he announced he would disband the Mahdi Army and formed a small, secretive military arm to fight Coalition forces in June."

So the guy who’s personal army that got its butt kicked in Fallujah in 2004 is forming a new army? Oh, first he is disbanding his OTHER army.

Political Islam is alive and well in Iraq.
* Personal note: The long war journal is one of the best sources I have found.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq

I pulled this from:

"Al Qaeda in Iraq carried out another coordinated mass-casualty terror attack in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. More than 120 Iraqis were killed and more than 200 were wounded when three suicide bombers and two car bombs were detonated in locations throughout Baghdad. The targets of the attacks were a bank, a police patrol, a court complex, a mosque, and a market neighborhood near the Interior Ministry."

Al Qaeda is known for attacking symbols. On 9/11, the targets were the trade center, an economic target and the Pentagon, a military target. Please note the targets in yesterday’s attacks in Baghdad. A bank is an economic target, the police represent enforcement, the court is the legal system and the market is economic. Political Islam is at war against these very ideas.

Islam specifies an economic policy, which the Iraqi government is NOT following. The attack on the bank is a clear sign on this issue. The police are the enforcement vehicle, which to political Islam, is another enemy. The police in Iraq are NOT enforcing Islamic law. The attack on the mosque is an attack on Apostates. Clearly, any that do not oppose how Iraq is being run has left Islam. The attack on the court complex is an attack on the legal system. Islamic law is much different from the legal system that the United States helped install.

Political Islam is alive and well in Iraq. Even if you had opposed the invasion, it cannot be denied that Al Qaeda and political Islam is present in Iraq. If matters not when they arrived. Our enemies are there and can be engaged. I do not know if Iraq is strong enough to stand by itself at this time. I do know that it is in our best interests to ensure that it does not change to support political Islam.

Monday, December 7, 2009

President Obama's war (political) strategy

Warfare and politics do not mix. President Obama must disagree with me on this one. I wish that I could say that 40,000 additional troops in Afghanistan would matter. I don’t believe that we will get anything like the results we got in Iraq with this new ’surge’ in Afghanistan. I find it far more likely that President Obama will withdraw in 2011, right on schedule. What will be going on at the time in Afghanistan at that time will be beside the point. This is a win-win political strategy for him. Combined with the withdrawal from Iraq, he can say that he ended the wars in Afghanistan AND Iraq. Hard not to imagine him believing that this will help him win re-election in 2012. And it does follow what he has been saying since 2001 regarding how the United States should not even be in Afghanistan or Iraq. After all, President Obama (As do many others) believes that we are creating new enemies just by being there.

One minor problem is that the enemy does not have the same political agenda.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Afghan strategy

President Obama is committing 30,000+ new troops to Afghanistan. beginning next spring. Unlike Iraq, the fighting in Afghanistan is not concentrated within the cities. Some of the most contested areas tend to be along the Pakistan border. While 30,000 soldiers will give our position in Afghanistan more muscle, the areas involved are much too large to enact a piecemeal strategy that we used in the cities in Iraq. We will be unable to isolate the battlefield in anything like the effectiveness we were able to in Iraq. By necessity, the army will strengthen the patrolling that it projects from the bases we control. This is far different from the idea of "once we take an area, we hold it."

President Obama assured us that Afghanistan is NOT Vietnam. He is correct in this assessment in that the U.S. will withdraw far earlier in the process. (At least from his perspective in that he only became involved in January) However, like Vietnam, we do not have the manpower to ‘occupy’ the countryside of Afghanistan. Our tactics of ‘search and destroy’ will be a necessary use of our superior firepower. The amount of combat will go up as we escalate. I doubt our enemy will allow it to reach the levels of fighting we witnessed in Iraq in 2007. Like Vietnam, we will win the battles. Unlike Iraq, these battles will be indecisive as our enemy disengages and ‘melts away into the countryside’. More like Vietnam than Iraq. I expect the outcome to be the same as Vietnam as well. We will fail to 'hold the ground' and exit in time for the elections of 2012. This way, our Commander-in-Chief can say that he ended BOTH the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

President Obama's Afghan speech

I did not see his speech, but I read it. Anyone who reads it cannot help but agree in many aspects. And no person can agree with someone on EVERYTHING. That being said, I found a couple of interesting items that I would like to share:

"I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what we can achieve at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests."

This first quote is in reference to the 3rd choice that he debated. That choice was to have what he considered to be an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan. I think that he is playing politics here. President Obama wants to end the war and be out well before the election in 2012. This is a political deadline and like President Kennedy, he is attempting to place a deadline on our direct involvement in the war.

I would also like to draw attention to President Obama’s rejection to the surge in Iraq. He was against the war in the first place and was decisively against the surge in Iraq. The present strategy he is enacting is at first glance, the same idea. We place 30,000 new troops in Afghanistan beginning next spring. This is different in that the soldiers will be going in as quickly as possible. In Iraq, they were added in very small increments that took 6 months. The surge in Iraq was aimed primarily at gaining control of Baghdad. We already had our enemy surrounded in that great city, we just needed additional forces to chop it into pieces that we could attack one at a time.

This new effort into Afghanistan is aimed at most of the country, with the Afghan Pakistan border being a major focus. We do not have our enemy surrounded and we will be engaging them in the best defensive terrain in the world. Our current aim is to use approximately the same amount of force in about the same amount of time and expecting the same results. Well, I doubt that we will get anything near the same results and I expect that our withdrawal timetable will not be much different that what was specified last night. If memory serves, when then Senator Obama specified a withdrawal from Iraq by March 31, 2008, Iraq was at the high point of the combat that our enemy could not sustain. A withdrawal at that point would have allowed our enemies to recover. (They will do so anyway, but it will take them far longer now) Time will tell what our President will do. I expect the withdrawal to take place on schedule. Whatever is going on in Afghanistan will most likely make little to no difference.

"We will have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power."

This quote scares me. I am a firm believer in having too much force available. Just in case things go wrong. Otherwise, the losses in soldiers and equipment can potentially be much higher. General Eisenhower once said that if he were given a battalion and ordered to take a hill that was held by a company of enemy soldiers, he would take losses, but he could do it. Given a full division, he would not lose a man. Colin Powell called it ‘overwhelming force’. I have been a believer in this philosophy for a long time. It bothers me that our commander-in-chief (During a war) does not believe in this concept.