RANGER AGAINST WAR: Transrational Terrorism <

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Transrational Terrorism

  --IS BrainWashing,
 Arend Van Dam

The eyes see only
what the mind is prepared to comprehend
--Henri Bergson

We can do the innuendo
We can dance and sing
When it's said and done
We haven't told you a thing
--Dirty Laundry,
Don Henley

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette's leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said

--Excitable Boy,
Warren Zevon

Ranger enjoys simplicity. Some things change, while others immutable.

After the events of 9-11-01 we were told that everything has changed, but everything is the same. We are born, we live, we die. Maybe we have eyes to see different things now; that is all. The only thing that changes is how we view the journey.

The United States is now focused on terrorism, a threat so small that it could be ignored if the world were so inclined. There are so many more actual and imminent threats posed by our environment, yet we ignore those, and at our peril. 

Where can we go for perspective? The press warps already warped behavior calling the recent New York bomber Ahmed Khan Rahami an “average American” and a "class clown". That is a stretch. Anyone who builds and attempts to detonate an explosive device is not an “average American”.

Likewise, the New York Times calls the recent Minnesota mall stabber, Dahir Adan, a "Normal American Kid". 


More distressing is that fact that Mr. Rahami's father had contacted the authorities years ago regarding his concern over his son's activities.  This apparently fell on deaf ears. Shades of the Underwear Bomber manque -- Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- whose Nigerian father alerted authorities about his son's activities, again to no effect. 

But aside from the media lies and the police failures, the actions of terrorists, while repulsive, are not an existential threat to a nation of 320 million people, with 10,000 grain elevators of corn. We have so much grain Bloomberg reports that farmers are dumping it in parking lots. 

Contrast the dozens or hundreds of people who may be killed in a terrorist action with the thousands who could be killed by a failure of infrastructure or infection by a drug-resistant superbug. Add onto that thought that those inherent weaknesses might be exploited by a terrorist and you can see the actual measure of the problems we face

We are riveted to the media talking heads nattering on about terrorism, but we have no realistic understanding of the concept. 

Recently some junior league explosions occurred in the New York and New Jersey area. Most of the mainstream media declared, “the perpetrator had been CAPTURED by the police”. That statement betrays the disregard of the actual threat and actions of the bomber.

Terrorists on our soil are not captured, since they are not combatants. They are arrested as the criminals they are. Using war terminology not only confuses the issue, it lends legitimacy to their criminal endeavors. 

Our confusion remains consistent over our recent history. Domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski was arrested 20 years ago, but the caption under his image in Wikipedia says, “Kaczynski after his capture by police in 1996.

In 20 years the U.S. has moved into the world of transrational terrorism yet we still do not realize that police arrest people, while only soldiers on the battlefield may capture them. 

There is a lot that the average American has to figure out. There is not much clarification available.

Labels: ,


Anonymous David said...

Curious to test your evidence, I went back into the Wikipedia archives and note that Ted Kaczynski's picture was early on referred to simple as his police mug shot, for instance:


Thanks to the magic of that archive I can see that the wording in question was added only last year, by "Marino13."

Not sure what any of that proves other than that I have too much time on my hands, but you raise an interesting point. One of the side benefits of being quite secure, I suppose, at least in relative terms, is that you get to be hysterical about minor problems. A young voter turning 21 today was born long after the Cold War ended. 9/11 is about as serious as it gets to them, notwithstanding the fact that such attacks, however horrific, are small potatoes compared to what several countries could carry out on just a few minutes' notice.

Monday, September 26, 2016 at 2:22:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find the Obama administration's anti-Russian/anti-Putin machinations (presumably to be continued by a president Clinton) to be far more terrifying than some idiot raghead reject and his black powder pressure cookers. I think everyone else should too.

That said, I have always disagreed with RAW's take on the terrorism threat. True, it is existential in the sense that a nuclear war would be. However, it is highly damaging to the national psyche, which, God knows, is damaged enough as it is.

When Mr and Mrs Milquetoast have to experience a concern - if not outright fear -that some deranged foreign import is going to pop out of the shadows at the mall and slash/shoot/ bomb them and their offspring to bits, we must take notice and do something about it. Most people believe they can avoid a violent untimely demise if they stay away from shady dealings with shady people and avoid the "bad" parts of town. They really get demoralized when all of that starts coming to them regardless of what they do.

Personally, I'm kind of ok with the occasional opportunity to shoot at some moving targets. But then I am weird. And I live in a heavy gun controlled state where such an approach is highly discouraged through various legal means. The normals can't handle it and something must be done to stop it.


Monday, September 26, 2016 at 11:25:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim hruska said...

Let's think here.
If the Nazis had won ww2 that would not have been the end of the USA.
NO foreign threat will destroy us. Capitalism, and or, subverted democracy will knell the bell of our demise.Terrorism will not do it!!
I will say that our leadership, whether R or D is more of a threat than ass holes with AK 47's and crummy home made explosives.Keep in mind the silos we threw into the essay.
The T's can't even feed themselves.
Have you ever entered this in your evaluation?
If u noticed the NY bomber sure wasn't motivated to fight to the death. This is a good sign.

Monday, September 26, 2016 at 12:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim hruska said...

I will use a idea that is left over from my RVN sojourn.
The problem is that T is real and we Amis have a real hard time with reality.
We live as if cell phones,twitter and all the other crap is real, and it isn't.
In RVN the soldiers used to say-this is unreal and i can't wait to get back to the states .Well RVN was the real deal.
I hope you gy point.

Monday, September 26, 2016 at 1:00:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim hruska said...

fwiw we (both of us) fact check before we go to press.
i brought TK out of retirement because i'm starting to believe that he gave us THE FIRST TED TALK in the form of his manifesto.

Monday, September 26, 2016 at 1:31:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, You were no doubt partly confused by my failure to include the intended negative "not" - as in agree that terrorism in not an existential threat (typing while at work, as usual).

So I do agree with you there.

I still disagree when it comes to the impact of terrorism on the morale of the country. The country must have a coherent psyche.

I am issuing myself an extra beer ration for the debate tonight. Pop corn, chips and salsa have also been requisitioned.


Monday, September 26, 2016 at 6:32:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...


Going by your comment, I hope you're not taking what I said as a challenge to you on your facts. Quite the contrary, I just thought that Wikipedia makes it particularly interesting because you can see the "evolution," if that's the right word, of thinking over the past 15 years.

To that end, when the page first went live in 2001, it was just about his arrest, basically. Increasing references to "capture" crept in since then, including the photo page in 2015. I didn't mean to challenge you - actually the reverse, I thought it was a useful reminder that the militarist language wasn't always present. As you point out, this is an increasing development over the past 20 years. Wikipedia being nearly 20 years old, we can see that happening on its pages.

I apologize if this didn't come across right. I wasn't accusing you of not fact-checking.


Monday, September 26, 2016 at 6:53:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Avedis raises an important point I think but I'm not quite sure how to deal with it. I agree with Jim on the strategic assessment: neither terrorism as a tactic to date, nor any specific "terrorist organizations" to date, pose an existential threat to the United States or for that matter any other Western country, even France.

This is the mirror image of what Jim I think has rightly said time and again in Syria and Iraq: the problem is not ISIS. The problem is that these are failed states. If they were not failed states, there would be no ISIS. Since our absurd "interventions" further destabilize these states, they undermine their own stated objectives.

However, avedis is right in another sense: regardless of what the objective balance of power may be, if a critical mass of people perceive it as something completely different, then sooner or later you're going to have real problems. I'm not sure what should be done to address that. There are very powerful forces which, for a variety of reasons, are exacerbating that difference rather than fixing it.

Monday, September 26, 2016 at 6:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, Think about markets. Perception plays a huge role. When people feel positive, they invest and take risks, which, in turn, becomes a self fulfilling cycle. The economy picks up and markets do well.

Or the converse.


Monday, September 26, 2016 at 7:23:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim hruska said...

u r free to say whatever u feel is pertinent to the discussion.if u do other wise we are just preaching to the peanut gallery. oops- that was before your time.
i realize that the inet is an imprecise tool because we lose so much in the translation. cues and nods and mean eyes are lost to a key board as are smiles and warm feelings.
i was just stating our policy which is different than most bloggers. we fact check as closely as possible and with in reason AND we publish our names and creds.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 9:51:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim hruska said...

i get your point but the usa isn't exactly leningrad in ww2.
if what you say is correct then the pussyfication of the country is complete.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 9:53:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

I'm not worried about censorship, Jim, just that you took what I said as some sort of accusation when I really thought it was an excellent example that was filled out more when I checked the history pages and could see them get more pseudo-military over time. Now that that's settled -

I'm with you on the analysis objectively, but "avedis must be wrong because otherwise the country is in awful shape" sounds more like wishful thinking, if I can be that blunt. A hell of a lot of people have gone along merrily with military adventures over the last 15 years because they genuinely believed that the survival of America was somehow threatened by the Taliban, by Al Qaeda, by Saddam Hussein, and now by ISIS. Russian aggression in the Ukraine ditto became a source of unjustified silliness. This goes all the way to the very top, as can be seen in last night's debate.

I'll accept the digs about my age with grace!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 12:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hello to David and Avedis:


Thank you for your research. We must all look more closely, and I will explain to Jim the finer points of archived materials :) [What we see is not all of what is, eh?]

We welcome our findings being tested! That's the only way we will come to an understanding.


I agree with your view on terrorism: "it is highly damaging to the national psyche". I wanted to work this into the piece, but due to time constraints it fell by the wayside.

You are spot-on re. the psychology. Confident (and flush) people participate robustly in the market. Terrorism puts a pall on the "nation's psyche" (as I think GWB labeled it.]

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 11:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Man, this is spiraling out of control, and I'm sorry I didn't communicate clearly. Jim doesn't need any explanations. He mentioned that there was this new pseudo-military language that's creeped in among civilians who want to sound, I suppose, tough and militaristic during recent years. As an example used Kaczynski's Wikipedia page, and I thought what a great example, because we can see every edit made to that page. So I checked, and Jim was right: 20 years ago, people didn't use the same language that they have in more recent years.

On the psychology, yes, I can see the point that you and avedis are making.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 1:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim hruska said...

last nite on bbc america they called a islamic armed group "an affiliate "of isil, and then later in the same report they labelled them AQ.
how can any sane person keep this mess in any logical perspective.
To both Avedis and Lisa.
i think it's more harmful to call it a war than to call it by it's name which is international criminal activity.
terrorism is always the tool of the weak , and this remains true. Terror always occupies the lower rungs of criminal activity in 1st world and dominates in failed or 3rd world states.
last nite on bbc america they had a piece that was meant to tug heart strings on a bunch of egytians that drowned trying to flood into italy. these illegal immigrants(there and here) are greater threats to societal well being than are terrorists.
europe can be submerged in illegals. what can nato do about that? where's the war?
jim hruska

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 9:14:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

I did not hear that report but I can't say it surprises me. I don't think I need to go into detail on my opinions about how lazy reporting causes the public to completely misunderstand the war, because I suspect you already share those opinions. Islamic + terrorist = Al Qaeda network.

It becomes especially farcical when the groups involved are actually at war with each other, as I gather Al-Qaeda's actual affiliates in Syria/Iraq have been with ISIS.

I have not seen a poll on this, because most of the questions I think are interesting are never polled on, but it would be interesting to see what vanishingly small percentage of Western country public opinion could accurately describe who they are supposedly at war with, or even for that matter, whether we are fighting Sunnis or Shias.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 12:23:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, IMO, the immigration waves are a tactic in a war. In the US SW, to reconquer por La Raza. In Europe (and the US?), to accomplish what muslims have been attempting for nearly 1,500 years.

I would also say that another tactic - a psy-ops/information war effort - in this war is the PC culture, white guilt, etc. that has caused us to surrender to the aforementioned invasion without a fight.

Your points are well taken. But what to do? Fortify the beaches and borders like the Germans in Normandy? We built up a powerful military that no one could beat and we are protected by natural barriers of oceans - so the enemy found a new way to fight us. Adapt and overcome is something all can do.

We lose because we are demoralized. There is no esprit. Only rot.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 12:29:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

What "enemy" is behind this "tactic" of yours, though? The vast majority of these refugees are not part of any strategy, and neither are the illegal immigrants from Mexico. They are doing what people do when their societies are collapsing and they think there's a better opportunity for themselves or their families: moving towards the bright lights in the distance.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of problems. Many of the social and economic impacts of embracing hundreds of thousands or millions of refugees/migrants would be exactly the same whether they come as part of some larger strategy or not. But I think the problem of chaos and social collapse is what is at issue, not an organized enemy with a clear strategy.

We do share one part of our assessment: the greatest problems now confronting not just the U.S. but the Western civilization in general are not conventional military ones. This means that conventional military forces, however large they may be, will not solve the problems we face. Applying them foolishly, as in Syria and Iraq today, will simply cause more chaos and hence deeper problems.

There are probably a few neoconservatives who say that the solution to this would be to go back into Iraq, invade Syria, do the nation-building thing again, but do it right this time. Then invest however much is needed to turn around politics and economies in Latin America, I suppose. Whether they're right about that or not, history has shown that we don't actually know how to build stable states out of chaos, so for the time being that option is off the table.

We could also close all of our borders and refuse to accept any new immigration to the West. Whether you're right about that or not, it seems to be politically unacceptable to too many people, so at least for the time being that option is off the table.

I honestly do not know what options are left at that point. Neither does anybody in government, apparently, so they just sit and watch the same as the rest of us, except that occasionally they give speeches about how they are sitting and watching.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 3:05:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, true that water naturally flows down hill. However, if I engineer a little canal over here, build a little berm over there, or perhaps merely ignore some erosion in certain spots, the water's natural inclinations can be used to wipe out a town in the valley.

Why isn't Mexico becoming a country that it's citizens want to live in? Why isn't it taking care of the people that immigrate to the US?

Why aren't other muslim nations taking care of the Syrians? Why is it the muslims Syrians that want to come to Europe and the US even though they oppose the existing culture? Why were Christians left to have their heads chopped off, be sold as slaves, etc? I would say that Turkey most definitely used the muslim refugees as a weapon....1st to gain some bahkshish from the infidels and then to invade Europe.



Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 11:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, I would further add that the enemy I refer to is within the US govt. This would be the globalists.

Water down patriotism, water down national identity, cultural identity, etc so that a one world without borders, without country, allowing for easy movement of capital and controlled by international behemoth corporations and oligarchs.

Hillary Clinton is one of these enemies.

John Lennon was a idolized wealthy woman beating spoiled hippie. Why anyone thinks "Imagine" is a good song, let alone a valid policy prescription is beyond me. His kind of goof ball is the enemy too - or at least useful idiots in service to the enemy.


Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 11:28:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

But again we come to this question of "who." The Syrian government obviously did not wish to fail. ISIS would just as soon rather not have its would-be caliphate empty out before it's even started. The politicians in Muslim countries are by and large the same as here: self-interested and short-sighted.

Iran is "taking care of" the Syrians insofar as it is intervening militarily to combat ISIS. Most Middle Eastern states, probably including Iran, don't have the infrastructure or the interest to welcome a huge bunch of refugees. These aren't functioning nation-states with long political histories. Most of them, as you know, are cobbled-together remnants of the old Turkish empire. I suppose you might be able to persuade some of them to build refugee camps like Jordan did for the Palestinians, but that doesn't seem to have solved anything, if anything, it's just created generations of resentment eagerly stoked by other Middle Eastern governments because it's more fun to blame Israel for their own failures than to accept responsibility.

If you were a refugee in northern Syria, would you rather risk a long overland journey through ISIS or Assad regime territory to a refugee camp in another dictatorship that might collapse in the next few years, or would you rather head for Europe? I know what I would choose.

And so the chaos spreads, and spreads, and spreads. There don't need to be guiding hands behind it. That's the nature of chaos. And Western politicians, either too craven or too foolish to know what to do, sit on their hands and watch it happen.

Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 12:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, If I was a Syrian, I'd pick up a weapon and fight the jihadist.

I think the politicians are behind this b/c they are paid by global oligarchs.

I hear what you're saying, though. I think you are focused on the water's natural drive to flow downhill. Whereas I am focused on the people that observe how geography can be nudged this way or that to cause the water's natural drive to serve their maniacal purposes.

Maybe I am assigning too much agency to processes that are, indeed, merely behaving according to chaos theory. Maybe the politicians are just like jackals, hyenas and vultures; taking advantage of the chaos, but I doubt it. Humans always seek to control outcomes. They may screw up and results are not what was intended. But they try.

Let me ask you this - why is the left in the US so feverishly hating America, undermining the moral authority of the culture that built this place, talking up/acting out on contrived injustices along racial lines and, simultaneously, seeking to import a gazillion muslims into a bad economy where citizens can't find employment? That propaganda/BS is totally controllable. Someone is deliberately doing it. I know Clinton is. I know Soros is.


Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 2:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

I don't doubt that humans try to control events, but I guess I have a vastly lower confidence in human capacity than you do.

I salute you for being willing to fight, but that again goes back to the fact that -- assuming you're American -- you don't live in a shithole of a country. If you lived in a totalitarian dictatorship that was only a few decades old and wasn't a great place for your family even before the war started, you might feel a little bit differently about risking your life to defend it.

These people believe what they're doing is going to turn out well, because they went to universities where they taught that, and then they safely insulated themselves in parties, think tanks, and Facebook groups where that world seemed like the real world. Neoliberal economic theory says that once you remove barriers to trade, everyone will be better off, and they can sort out the culture on their own time, because at the end of the money and markets are all that matter.

Weirdly, the old left actually stands for the opposite of that vision, but this election they have been persuaded that Trump is so evil that they must ally themselves with the globalists/capitalists to drive him out.

Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 6:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, pre-civil war Syria wasn't a shit hole. It was rather cosmopolitan with women in western dress and in all aspects of the work force. The various faiths lived as neighbors. There night clubs and people drinking and dancing just as they do in Paris. The US/Israel and Saudis decided that such a place just could continue to exist because of Iranian alliance. So they helped foment a color revolution and they funded and armed jihadi groups like al Qaeda affiliated al nusra. ISIS got a little out of control. So we "fight" that faction a bit.

The US and Al Qaeda has had a love/hate relationship since we were giving stinger missiles to Bin Laden. Now we give manpads to Al Nusra. It's great. They fight Assad and the Russian for us. That's the kind of genius you get from universities and think tanks. The more ivy on the walls, the stupider the graduate.


Friday, September 30, 2016 at 6:18:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

The reason Western dress was allowed is because Syria was a secular dictatorship, not a religious one. The other Ba'ath Party regime was Saddam's, and I wouldn't have wanted to live there either. The Syrian Civil War started when his regime's forces killed thousands of people in retaliation for Arab Spring protests.

Look at what happens when dictatorships that were already cobbled-together and weak start to fall apart. Most people either join other factions that promise to back them, or they flee as refugees, or they just try and keep their heads down and wait for it to end. See also: Yugoslavia, etc.

The West's approach would be comical if there wasn't violence involved. The only sensible options were to help the Syrian regime defeat ISIS, if that was our goal, or better yet, to stay out altogether and say this was an internal problem for the Syrian regime. Now we're involved, there are a dozen sides to this war, and most Westerners probably couldn't even identify more than two of them, much less decide which ones we should back and which ones we shouldn't.

Friday, September 30, 2016 at 12:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, You are repeating another regime's story line about how the mess in Syria got started. I have reason to believe it is far from accurate. I would also point out the Shiite regime that replaced Saddam has been rather murderous and intolerant of others themselves.

When you're dealing with violent tribes with flags - which is what the MENA is - it seems rather foolish (or naïve) to arbitrarily decide one is the "good guys".

Whatever version of Assad you want to accept, I think you still have to admit that he is a heck of lot better than the jihadis that we want to replace him. Or do we think that once the jihadis have finished him off, that we can kill all the jihadis?
Or perhaps they will magically go away? Still waiting for the magic to happen in Libya, but seem to have reverted to that good old plan B; bomb them forever.

War endless war. Assad killed thousands? Disputable, but even if he did, how many innocents have died b/c of the US+allies support of jihadis to get Assad for killing "thousands"? Were any of those thousands jihadis? Or is anyone killed by the bad guy de jour a noble freedom fighter?

At any rate - I think a fair conclusion to this good discussion could be, "We have met the real terrorist and he is us"


Friday, September 30, 2016 at 4:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Of course picking the good guy is arbitrary. My preference would be to leave the whole thing alone unless something poses a clear and present danger to the outside world, which plainly nothing does right now outside of some people's overly active imaginations.

Here's my position because I guess I got lost in wordiness back there: I wouldn't want to live in Syria, or Saddam's Iraq. However, as detestable as those governments might be, I think that removing them is not worth the lives of any of our men and women, especially since we plainly have no idea how to build new, stable states there anyway. If ISIS did succeed in founding some sort of caliphate, my answer would still be the same: I don't want to live there, nor do I think we should invade there.

I agree with your conclusion.

Friday, September 30, 2016 at 7:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous jim hruska said...

we are the USofA and not the us of the world.
thats why we have a UN.
the 2 are quite different.
the truth is that we can't solve our problems so we divert to crummy places HOPING that we can solve theirs.
to what purpose i can't comprehend.

Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 10:54:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

The difference is, when you're failing abjectly in your mission to bring democracy to Afghanistan or Iraq or Syria or Kosovo or Vietnam, your friends in the press might be willing to help you cover it up.

Probably a little more difficult when the story is unfolding in Detroit or New Orleans.

Monday, October 3, 2016 at 2:11:00 PM GMT-5  

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