Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Isil Metrics

--Obama Strategy, Cardow (CAN) 

A glimmer of civilization in the
barbaric slaughterhouse we know as humanity 
--The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

A man may die, nations may rise and fall,
but an idea lives on.
Ideas have endurance without death
--John F. Kennedy

--What's that?
--It's a copy of the Qu'ran, fourteeth century
--Are you a Muslim?
--No, I'm in television 
--V for Vendetta (2005)

In assessing the risk posed by the Islamic State (IS), the actors must be defined. History, rather than hysteria, provides the template.

IS can be seen as a terrorist group which is transitioning from criminality to organization, to the adoption of terror tactics; this is where most groups end their journey. The heinousness of their actions ends up alienating those whom they would seek to integrate into their movement. It remains to be seen whether terrorist groups originating in the Middle East will buck this tradition. After all East is East, and West is West.

The classic Euroterror groups of the 1970's and '80's never transitioned to warfare in the spectrum of conflict because they lacked the active and passive support of groups like IS to make it to the next level. Terror groups must kidnap for ransom, murder and collect new members to finance and keep the group viable. These activities allow the group to gain an identity while also fomenting a governmental overreaction, further cementing their facticity.

IS is not only participating in these foundational terrorist behaviors, it has captured large swaths of territory against minimal opposition. In most previous terror episodes, the home country (the site of the activity) is on-board with any counter-offense. This is not the case in the zones which IS is now controlling.

The only viable opposition comes again in the form of targeted aerial bombardment from the U.S. This is token violence which primarily serves to animate future recruits to the ISIL cause. The narrative is clear: the Big, Bad Wolf is bullying us again, but we in IS have cause and conviction. Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? Tra la la la la.

IS says, we will blame them for creating us ... and there is some truth, there. Not that brutality is ever justified, but the U.S. is a great scapegoat. They just need to show a bloodied baby in  swaddling cloth (possibly injured by their own); the U.S. stands with hands tied behind back by its Rules of Engagement.

It is not even a scratch: IS gains a millimeter of ground with each photo depicting blighted Arab people. Meanwhile, the U.S. stands riven, and continues to toss a few token military personnel into the fray to appear to do SOMETHING, because as Shrill Hill (Hillary Clinton) taunts, "doing nothing is not a plan".

IS is a terror organization which has accomplished all of the prerequisites to transition from criminal terror to established army. Terror organizations seldom engage in direct action against hard targets, nor do they jeopardize their senior operatives, rendering the application of traditional military actions spectacular failures. While the beheadings performed by IS are terror, the group has transitioned beyond being mere terrorists to a more conventional level. 

IS has fully transitioned, fighting armies like those of Syria and Iraq. Their defeat of Iraqi units indicate that counterinsurgency (COIN) and nation-building are not military fait accomplis. When a rag-tag army can defeat an army created by a world Superpower like the United States, it is clear that IS's recruitment, support and leadership are superior to those externally created.

Momentum and time is on their side, as IS is outpacing the U.S. ability to react, and the EU has failed to assume a role in countering them. It seems obvious that the only option is to let them run their course, or to encourage the EU to protect themselves while the villainy is playing out. The U.S. has an ocean and friendly borders on our side. Vigilence -- intelligence, police work / Interpol and the rule of law can do the rest, for us.

Some questions:

  • What role is Qatar and Saudi Arabia playing?  The Egyptians? Are the latter Janus-faced peace-brokers, supporting IS violence sub rosa
  • Is there cross-fertilization with Hamas?
  • Was the ballyhooed Arab Spring the birthplace of IS?
  • Why the official fiction that IS is a "Terror organization"? This creates a simplicity which does not exist. The story is, IS has crossed a line of horribleness beyond which even our good enemy -- al Qaeda -- would not cross.
  • What will the U.S. do when IS shoots down a U.S. aircraft and executes the pilot?
  • If the U.S. engages IS militarily, what does it do with the resultant prisoners? Do they receive Geneva Convention privileges as Prisoners of War? 

RAW guesses that fixating on IS is easier than dealing with our problems at home, which are far more complex than ideological blather.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, IMO, IS has made the transition to more than just an Army - it is a full fledged functioning government. There may be an emphasis on the military branch at this time, but all of the other requisites of a government are developed (or nearly so).

IS indeed can accurately include the "S" in it's name. We are going to come to that realization the hard way because we like to demonize, discount and denigrate our opponents; a big mistake that has bitten us in the ass continually since the Korean war and especially since 1963.

"and continues to toss a few token military personnel into the fire to appear to do SOMETHING, because as the shrill Hill (Hillary Clinton) taunts, "doing nothing is not a plan"."

First thing I was taught as an analyst in training was that, when evaluating options, "do nothing" MUST always be considered first and weighed against all of the other options. Hillary is such a shrill ass.

"What role is Qatar and Saudi Arabia playing?"

The role of Dr. Frankenstein.

Or maybe just Igor. Certainly the US itself has been the true Dr. Frankenstein what with the overthrow of Saddam and the encouraging of the silly "Arab Spring" - where is Hillary's Libya now?

"The story is, IS has crossed a line of horribleness beyond which even our good enemy -- al Qaeda -- would not cross."

I question this narrative. Isn't IS fulfilling the very dream of a caliphate, overthrowing "apostate" governments, that Bin Laden discussed frequently? They are doing what Bin Laden wanted to do. So how are they different than AQ?

"...fixating on IS is easier than dealing with our problems at home, which are far more complex than ideological blather."

Well, yeah, there's always that.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 10:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I've been unclear ,please note that i say-THE STORY IS. I don't buy this theory.AQ cuts off heads also Berg and Perl come to mind. Strangely when we catch these killers we don't prosecute them. I'm thinking od KSM the admitted killer of Perl.
Yes, ISIl and Hezbollah provide government services, and do a good job , while we suck in comparison.
We talk a good game in the nation building arena, but we're being trumped by what we claim are crazy men.
We don't have a leader to compare with them. They are focused and relevent.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 11:30:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...

The standard analysis of terrorist group is messed up. ISIS/AQ/etc are primarily ideological groups rather than criminal. Furthermore, their focus is almost entirely focused on ruling the Ummah, primarily the Sunni Arab Ummah. This requires them to defeat the existing governments.

Their interest in the USG is pimarily as a tool to defeat and delegitimize the existing Arab governments. Since 2003, the USG has been doing this as if they were following an op-order written by Osama bin Laden himself. The US government continues to try and defeat an ideological enemy through extremely expensive and destructive kinetic means, thereby demonstrating that the ISIS *ideas* have value and must be feared.

Everything that ISIS directs towards the West should be taken as an inducement to come into the middle east, blunder around creating chaos and provide an opportunity for ISIS to take over.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 8:49:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Agreed. The US has stumbled into the AQ/IS trap so stupidly and so perfectly that conspiracy theories abound that have the US deliberately created IS for this or that Machiavellian reason.

I don't buy those conspiracy theories. Generally not a good to explain by complicated plot what is more easily explained by incompetence - and the US government is incompetent in this area. Long gone are the wiser statesmen and circumspect generals of prior eras.


Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 1:17:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Lisa said...

No conspiracy to it.

These "nations" are less than 100 years old, and their constituents have been fighting the grueling religio-clannish fight for millenia. The prophet WB Yeats said it well: Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.

Don't look for it to stop on the six o'clock news anytime soon. (It's a ratings booster, dontcha know?) I think people enjoy hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth, while the rest enjoy knocking heads together; the few enjoy living in a cave, or being the fool on the hill.

Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 12:17:00 PM GMT-5  

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