Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The purpose of this post is to get you to think like a strategic analyst. Our government and private organizations have thousands of them that are better trained than I am. Since it appears that Bush ignored the advise of the analysts it is important that everyone understand the basics. If I succeed you will have a new way to look at geopolitics.
9-11 caught us totally by surprise in two ways. One, the capability of a small organization to execute a sophisticated attack. Two, the will or moral clarity to attempt the attack. Up until 9-11 we treated small groups as terrorists to be handled by the FBI in CONUS and Embassy assets O CONUS.
Strategic planning cycles assess enemy nations and match them with US vulnerabilities. They addressed capabilities and intentions. We never planned for a handful of dedicated guys to do big time damage to the US or its interests. Bombing an embassy is chunk change. Bombing the Cole is more serious. The perp was easy to identify, Osama bragged about it. Who were the ground troops? Saudis who were willing to die for their cause and Allah. That is serious motivation. I won’t go into the strategic and military mistakes Bush made in response to 9-11, but I will say he did everything wrong. What should he have done? You should have some ideas when I am finished.
First, all of our planning models needed serious revision. Our vulnerabilities needed total overhaul, since our commerce, infrastructure and citizens were now targets, not just our military. Enemies now were less than nations. So we needed to add organizations and taking a page from Israel, individuals or very small groups. Who was our fundamental enemy? Islamic Jihadists; people willing to die to kill us were the foot soldiers, Al-Qaeda was the small organization that provided, planning, training, weapons, travel documents and money. These are the same skills as enemy nations, so our model is OK we just needed to serious reassess who the new enemies are. From the bottom up the smallest threat is a single individual. What is his profile? An Islamic Jihadist who could be highly educated, or not (Richard the Shoe Bomber). Where are these Jihadists? How do they become enabled to harm us? Using Al-Qaeda as a model, it was small, Islamist, had money, weapons, training facilities and cover ( very difficult to find) churning out Jihadists. But where did they come from? All over the Middle East scattered amongst a population that was not a threat to the US. What makes an ordinary member of Islam a Jihadist? Motivation. Where did that come from? First, a religion that glorifies death, Clerics and schools that indoctrinate children to grow up hating Americans and Jews (Educated Jihadist potentials) and disenfranchised Moslems with no future, the massive unwashed of the Middle East including most Palestinians (Uneducated Jihadist potentials). How does a potential become a real Jihadist? Money, training, weapons, travel documents and cover. Who provides that? Small and large organizations, and nations. Can these organizations manufacture weapons and money? No, they get the weapons from nations and the money from rich people, organizations and nations.
We can now load our model with more than nations.
1.Uneducated Islamic Jihadists individuals or small groups capable of shooting, bombing and IEDs.
2.Educated Islamic Jihadists individuals or very small groups capable of sophisticated attacks, from destroying infrastructure all the way to WMD attacks.
3.Small and large organizations, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah, organized crime and many others.
4. Nations that want to harm us directly ( Iran ) or indirectly, Korea, Russia, China, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are the biggies. Pakistan is special in that the government is indirectly hostile (nuclear proliferation), worse only one man keeps it from being a serious nuclear threat.
This list is not exhaustive, but you get the point. Next lets assess capabilities. I will address only some examples. Iran is a serious threat to the whole Middle East and especially Israel. It can stop the flow of Persian Gulf oil for months if not a year. It facilitates organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. It has chemical weapons. When it acquires nukes it can use them or give them to organizations. Korea, Russia and China are major arms exporters. Russia and China have imperialist ambitions. Saudi Arabia plays both sides of the fence. The government wants to get along but it does not control the people. Radical clerics do. Wahabbists, now called Salafis churn out potential Jihadists through Madras schools that are all over the world including the US. They are funded by Rich Saudi donors. You know what the others can do.
US capabilities. Almost anything. Unlimited military force, bribe money, covert operations, naval blockades, high seas seizures, embargoes of all types including food, economic threats such as loss of most favored nation status, loss of all trade, and diplomacy (creditable threats). We can bankrupt China for example by stopping all trade.
One other concept is vital to understand. Anytime you tinker with the world, you may achieve your goals, or not but there always unintended consequences. Those are hard to calculate but it is essential that you do. Let me provide some examples. We can nuke Saudi Arabia off the map eliminating the largest source of Jihadists, bad guy money, and Madras schools. This is a push of a button and it is done. But what would be the reaction of the world and our own people? The losses would exceed the gains. Non-Starter. What about Iraq? Much more complex but understandable. Choose regime change, destruction of their army, and democratization. Bush’s choices. What were the benefits; possible stopping of WMD proliferation, stopping of military, and financial assistance to organizations such as Al-Qaeda? A potential stable democracy in the Middle East that leans west. What are the down sides? WMD moved to Syria, eliminating the only army that was a check to Iranian imperialism, democracy has enabled sectarian civil war, Insurgents harbored by the Sunnis, and the flight of 150,000 educated middle class professionals. Net plus or minus? A huge minus. Bad idea. Smashing the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Helps some. Negatives, Taliban and Al-Qaeda ran south to safe havens in Pakistan and the mountains of Afghanistan. Occupying Afghanistan creates targets for the cheap Jihadists and some nationals that got away. A small net plus.
What is wrong with this picture? In five years we have done nothing to curb the creation of Jihadists, the most serious threat to American citizens and infrastructure. First, we have eliminated only a handful of potentials. Second we have done nothing to disrupt the creation of fully trained, armed, financed and documented Jihadists. What about organizations? Nothing. They are stronger today than five years ago. What have we done in five years to reduce the threat to America? Almost nothing. What could we have done? Lots of things and simultaneously. I’ll pick just one. Squeeze the Saudis. Threaten to topple their government. We won’t if you seize the private money going to organizations, seize the radical clerics, and shut down the Madras schools. Cost, nothing. Net plus, significant reduction of Jihadists. If you want to use military force, roll through Lebanon and Syria. Trash the Shia part of Lebanon, Kill Hezbollah. Chase the remnants into Syria. Trash Syria, the Bathists and the rest of Hezbollah. LEAVE! No targets for the Jihadists. Pluses, Hezbollah crushed, lots of Shia dead, a Jihadist supporting nation destroyed. Down side, world condemnation. Big deal. What did world condemnation do to the Soviets when they invaded Czechoslovakia? Nothing.
Smart readers will have come to this conclusion, how do we eliminate the Jihadists, are not they are the real threat? Short of nuking the Middle East, we can’t eliminate them or even seriously reduce them in the next 10 years. Who can? Only the moderate Muslims can eliminate the Jihadists. I will leave it to you to determine a plan to accomplish that.
Oh, by the way. Wouldn’t it be reassuring that our government can name the real threat. But in 5 years we have gone from “terror” and axis of evil to Islamofacists, a term that does not exist in Islam. Moral Clarity? Nope. Is Bush that dumb? Nope. He doesn’t have the answer.
Liberty or Death