Social Science and the "War on Terror"

"Knowing the Enemy," by George Packer (The New Yorker, Dec 18, 2006), is a fascinating article about the social science needed to prevail against Islamic terrorism, which the author argues is best characterized as a counterinsurgency.

Posted on February 4, 2007 at 6:15 AM • 66 Comments

Comments

Richard BraakmanFebruary 4, 2007 8:41 AM

You're right, it is fascinating.

I find the term itself, "global counterinsurgency", particularly interesting. Insurgency against what? American rule? It's never specified, but I can guess. It implies an attitude that I think is still part of the problem.

I'm glad, though, that the vision of counterinsurgency offered in the article is less horrific than the historical standard.

BunnyFebruary 4, 2007 8:53 AM

Interesting, although there were many wtf moments, too.

One that particularly stood out to me was the following: "If Islamism is the new leftism, then the strategies and techniques used to counter Marxist subversion during the Cold War may have direct or indirect relevance to combating Al Qaeda-sponsored subversion."

Saying that the political system in the USSR during the cold war had anything to do with marxism makes about as much sense as claiming that George Bush's administration is the pinnacle of Jeffersonian democracy.

In any case, it's not just knowing your enemy that's crucial for winning - it's also necessary to break out of the thought patterns where everything is seen in terms of "enemies", "winning", "losing" etc.. Ultimately, it's about respect; if you treat others with respect instead of attacking them and lying about them, sabotaging their governments (often democratically elected ones) and so on, they'll be more likely to do the same, too. (Of course, if you previous did all those things, it may also be necessary to make up for that - you can't just expect people to forgive and forget in an instant.)

And also, you (that is, the USA) need to get rid of the idea that you need to control everything and everyone else. Here's a thought experiment: whenever someone proposes that the USA should do this or that, imagine how you'd feel if another country did the same to you. It may give you some much-needed perspective on how your actions make everyone else feel like.

In short, respect people, and play nice - stop being the playground bully.

For RealFebruary 4, 2007 9:25 AM

To think that the "War on Terror" actually has anything to do with "Islamic Fundamentalism", except in the minds of the lowest level of the population, pretty much self-identifies what you're up to.

PogoFebruary 4, 2007 9:50 AM

Robin Cook in the Guardian: "Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians."

Wikipedia on Noriega: "He was initially a strong ally of the United States and worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from the late 1950s to 1986. By the late 1980s, relations had turned extremely tense between Noriega and the United States government, and in 1989 the general was overthrown and captured in the United States invasion of Panama. He was taken to the United States, and convicted under federal charges of cocaine trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering."

Wikipedia on Saddam Hussein: "Iraq quickly found itself bogged down in one of the longest and most destructive wars of attrition of the twentieth century. During the war, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces fighting on the southern front and Kurdish separatists who were attempting to open up a northern front in Iraq with the help of Iran. These chemical weapons were developed by Iraq from materials and technology supplied primarily by West German companies.[18]

Saddam reached out to other Arab governments for cash and political support during the war, particularly after Iraq's oil industry severely suffered at the hands of the Iranian navy in the Persian Gulf. Iraq successfully gained some military and financial aid, as well as diplomatic and moral support, from the Soviet Union, China, France, and the United States, which together feared the prospects of the expansion of revolutionary Iran's influence in the region. The Iranians, claiming that the international community should force Iraq to pay war reparations to Iran, refused any suggestions for a cease-fire. They continued the war until 1988, hoping to bring down Saddam's secular regime and instigate a Shi'ite rebellion in Iraq."

The "free world" is working the "third world" for it's resources. This is done by installing puppet dictators or playing the ones who arrive there naturally off against each other.

The United States is not alone in this, but we have become the worst offender yet. The similarities between the histories of these three dictators speak for themselves. It's a clear pattern. We are inventing our enemies and have been doing so for decades, in order to allow our government to get away with under-the-table drug distribution and war profiteering in places where the rest of the world is not watching. We have met the enemy and he is us.

Terrorism-CrimeAgainstHumanityFebruary 4, 2007 12:24 PM

There's no question the U.S. has enjoyed prosperity, and some parts of the world have not been nearly as fortunate.

However, there is no excuse for targeting innocent civilians of any kind in what amounts to a temper tantrum.

I'm not saying I believe the U.S. or Western Europe would simply stop whatever it is that is making someone angry at a moment's notice if diplomatic means were tried first. But, come on, we know what this is about. It's a chance to kill people who have more than you, using some trumped up religious references and notions of oppression that substitute for the simple fact that these other countries and cultures have more than you.

Supposedly, Islam does not condone any of this. I can't speak to it. I don't know the religion. But really, I don't care what banner you hide behind or what morals you use to justify it. I don't care is it's fundamental Martianism. It's terrorism, first. Everything else is simply the same political cover Hitler enjoyed when he pointed the finger at Judaism.

There is never any justification for it. While it is in the U.S.'s interest to find any way to make it stop (peace or war), there should never be capitulation to terrorism. Terrorism must be shown to earn nothing. It is worthy of no respect, and voids status as a human being.

Think about it, what lower form of act is there than to target other civilians... for any reason?

I fully understand that there are larger meta problems that can be explored scientifically and sociologically to help people from feeling like they have less than someone else. But the answer is not terrorism. Turning to terrorism means you've lost all respect for humanity, and I simply have no respect for that. I don't care what happens to any terrorist.

mirrorFebruary 4, 2007 2:49 PM

Terrorism-CrimeAgainstHumanity, after reading your second paragraph I had to read on to see what you were talking about. I guessed you were talking about either 9/11 or the US/UK/etc invasion of Iraq but wasn't sure which.

AndrewFebruary 4, 2007 2:59 PM

>> If one side is willing to apply lethal force to bring the population to its side and the other side isn’t, ultimately you’re going to find yourself losing.

Ow.

The article does a good job of tracing through some of the major issues in the global counterinsurgency . . . and brings out a glaring, gaping flaw in our global War Of Terror.

We have no real ideological leg to stand on. The North (i.e. the industrialized nations) are engaged in an extended looting of the South (i.e. the rest of the world) . . . and that's hard to cover with a fine layer of rhetoric.

Insurgents kill people and blow stuff up. Soldiers also kill people and blow stuff up. It's hard to see the difference from close up, especially when the people being blown up are civilians.

>> Terrorism must be shown to earn nothing. It is worthy of no respect, and voids status as a human being.

This attitude is just "might makes right" wearing a new party dress and lip gloss.

We have this empty, echoing void where we should be making our case to the world, that American hegemony is good for them and for their children.

The best argument we can use is that American hegemony brings prosperity. Not to the Fortune 500, but to people all around the world.

How much reduction in profit margin would be needed in places like Africa to give the people some hope? What about using our muscle to back the honest against the corrupt, even if buying off the latter would shave off a percentage point or two?

Are we too cheap to buy an end to the War Of Terror? Are we too intellectually bankrupt to argue for it? Are we too cowardly to put our money where our blood is?

bunny's head ain't screwed on right!February 4, 2007 3:15 PM

@bunny:

WTF these verses from the Qur'an, the foundational core teachings of radical islamo-facism, murderous conquests & conversion by the sword that has been going on since Islam's cursed inception for many centuries:

Kill disbelievers wherever you find them. If they attack you, then kill them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. 2:191-2

Have no unbelieving friends. Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them. 4:89

Those who submit and convert to Islam will be treated well. (Those who don't submit will be killed. [See verse 5]) 9:6

Fight against Christians and Jews "until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low." 9:29

Fight for Allah with your wealth and whatever weapons are available to you. 9:41

A prophet may not take captives until he has made a slaughter in the land. 8:67

Those who oppose Islam will be slain with a fierce slaughter. 33:60-61

Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. 3:28

Don't believe anyone who is not a Muslim. 3:73
Don't be friends with non-Muslims. They all hate you and want to ruin you. 3:118

Do not choose disbelievers as friends. 4:144

Don't take Jews or Christians for friends. If you do, then Allah will consider you to be one of them. 5:51

More here: http://forums.delphiforums.com/sammychat/messages?msg=123.1

AnonymousFebruary 4, 2007 3:24 PM

The Famous Letter From Persian Emperor, Yazdgird III

From: Omar Ibn Al Khatab Khalifat Al-Muslemin (The Leader of Muslims)

To: Yazdgird III Shahanshah of Persian Empire

Yazdgird, I see not a fruitful future for you & your nation unless you accept my offer & commit Bei'at (Joining with Khalifat & bringing Islam). Once upon a time your land ruled half the known world but what has it come down to now? Your troops are defeated in all fronts & your nation is bound to collapse. I offer you a way to rescue yourself. Start praying to a mono God, a single union God, the only God who created everything in the universe. We bring you & the world his message, he who is the true God. Stop your Fire Worship, command your nation to stop their Fire Worship which is false; join us by joining the truth.

Worship Allah the only true God, The creator of universe. Worship to Allah & accept Islam as your salvation. End your Pagan ways & your false worships now & bring Islam so you can accept Allah O Akbar as your savior. By doing so, you will find the only way to your survival & peace for Persians. If you know what is best for Persians, you will choose this path. Bei'at is the only way.

Allah O Akbar

signed,

Khalifat Al-Muslemin

Omar Ibn Al-Khatab

----------------------------------------------

The Emperor Yazdgird III Famous Response to Omar

From: The Shâhanshâh (The King of Kings), the King of Persia and Beyond, King of many Kingdoms, King of Aryans and Non Aryans, King of Persians and many other races as well as Tâzis (Persian term for Arabs, meaning robin Hound Dogs), Shâhanshâh of Persian Empire, Yazdgird III of house of Sâsân.

To: Umar Ibn Al-Khatab, Khalifat of Tazi

In the name of Ahura Mazda, creator of Life & Wisdom. You in your letter wrote that you want to direct us towards your God, Allah O Akbar, without having the true knowledge of who we are & what do we worship!

It is amazing that you occupy the position of Khalifat (Ruler) of Tazis, yet your knowledge is the same as a lowly Tazi rambler, roaming in deserts of Tazistan (Arabia), & same as a desert tribal man!

"Little Man", you offer me to worship a united & single God without knowing that it has been thousands of years that Persians worship the mono God & they pray to him Five Times a day! In this land of culture & art this has been the normal path of life for years. When we established the tradition of hospitality & good deeds in the world & we waved the flag of "Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds" in our hands, you & your ancestors were roaming the deserts, eating Lizards for you had nothing else to feed yourselves & burying your innocent daughters alive (an old Arab tradition, cause they preferred male children to female)!

Tazi people have no value for God's creatures! You behead God's children, even the Prisoners of War, Rape Women, bury your daughters alive, attack the Caravans, mass murder, kidnap people's wives & steal their property! Your hearts are made of stone, we condemn all these Evil which you do. How can you teach us Godly Ways when you commit these actions?

You tell me to stop my Fire Worship! We, Persians see the Love of Creator & power of inventor in the light of Sun & warmth of Fire. Lights & Warmth of the Sun & Fire makes us see the light of truth & warmness our hearts to the creator & to one another.

It helps us to be kind to one another, it enlightens us & makes us to keep Mazda's Flame, alive in our hearts. Our lord is Ahura Mazda & it is strange that you people also, just discovered him & named him Allah O Akbar! But we are not the same as you, we are not in the same level as you. We help other human being, we spread love among humanity, we spread Good throughout the Earth, we have been spreading our culture but in respect for other cultures throughout the whole world for thousands of years, yet you in the name of Allah invade other men's land! You mass murder the people, create famine, fear & poverty for others, you create Evil in the name of Allah. who is responsible for all this catastrophe?

Is it Allah who commands you to murder, pillage & to destroy? Is it you the followers of Allah who do this in his name? Or is it both?

You have risen from heat of the deserts & burnt out infertile lands with no resources, you want to teach people the love of God by your military campaigns & the power of your Swords! You are Desert Savages, yet you want to teach urban people like us who lived in the cities for thousands of years, the love of God! We have thousands of years of culture behind us, a powerful tool indeed! Tell us? With all your military campaigns, barbarianism, murder & pillage in the name of Allah O Akbar, what have you taught to this Muslim Army? What knowledge have you taught the Muslim that you also insist on teaching it to non Muslim? What culture have you learned from your Allah, now that you want to force-teach it to others?

Alas, Oh Alas...... that today our Persian Armies of Ahura have been defeated from your recently Allah Worshiping Armies; Now, our people have to worship the same God, the same Five times a day, but forced by the sword to call him Allah & pray to him in Arabic, cause your Allah only understands Arabic! I suggest, you & your gang of bandits pack up & move back to your deserts where they are used to live. Take them back where they used to the burning heat of the sun, tribal life, eating Lizards & drinking Camel Milk. I forbid you to let your band of thieves loose in our fertile lands, civilized cities & our glorious nation. Don't turn these "beasts with hearts of stone" loose, to mass murder our people, kidnap our women & children, rape our wives & send our daughters to Mecca as slaves! Don't let them do these crimes in the name of Allah O Akbar, put a stop to your criminal behavior.

Aryans are forgiving, warm, hospitable, & decent people and everywhere they went, they have spread seeds of friendship, love, knowledge & truth; therefore, they shall not punish you & your people for your pirate ways & criminal acts. I beg you to remain with your Allah O Akbar in your deserts & do not move close to our civilized cities, for your believes are "Much Fearful" & your behavior is "Most Barbaric"!

signed,

Emperor Yazdgird III of Sasanid

*** The Original copy of this letter (632 AD - 651 AD) is in London Museum

Armchair WarriorFebruary 4, 2007 4:00 PM

Bruce,

Thanks for posting the link to this thoughtful article. If David Kilcullen is correct in his ideas about modern 'Islamic' terrorist problems then America and its allies have a mountain to climb. I'd like to give some selective quotes from the early part of the article:

"when a lot of people were saying, ‘The problem is Islam,’ I was thinking, It’s something deeper than that. It’s about human social networks and the way that they operate.��?"

"He noted that all fifteen Saudi hijackers in the September 11th plot had trouble with their fathers."

"In the late nineties, a Timorese international propaganda campaign and ubiquitous media coverage prompted international intervention, thus ending the use of tactics that, in the obscure jungles of West Java in the fifties, outsiders had known nothing about. “The globalized information environment makes counterinsurgency even more difficult now,��? Kilcullen said."

"“You don’t play to the enemy’s global information strategy of making it all one fight,��? Kilcullen said. He pointedly avoided describing this as the Administration’s approach. “You say, ‘Actually, there are sixty different groups in sixty different countries who all have different objectives. Let’s not talk about bin Laden’s objectives—let’s talk about your objectives. How do we solve that problem?’ ��? In other words, the global ambitions of the enemy don’t automatically demand a monolithic response."

"I once asked David Kilcullen if he thought that America was fundamentally able to deal with the global jihad. Is a society in which few people spend much time overseas or learn a second language, which is impatient with chronic problems, whose vision of war is of huge air and armor battles ended by the signing of articles of surrender, and which tends to assume that everyone is basically alike cut out for this new “long war��??"

The Western world has a cultural bias towards big conventional wars and changing that will not be easy.

Richard BraakmanFebruary 4, 2007 4:05 PM

@bunny's head ain't screwed on right:

You don't really make your case by blatantly misquoting the Quran. I stopped after seeing how you butchered the first quote, actually.

You rendered it as:

Kill disbelievers wherever you find them. If they attack you, then kill them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. 2:191-2

I'll provide the real quote, starting from 2:190, right from the Skeptic's Annotated Quran (which is hardly an apologist):

2:190 Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.

2:191 And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.

2:192 But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Notice how it's entirely reactive: fight back against aggressors. Take back the places they threw you out of. Forgive them when they stop attacking.

Spreading FUD about Islam isn't helping anyone. And next time, include the bit about "Allah loveth not aggressors".

JoeFebruary 4, 2007 9:47 PM

I'm sure that you can find similarly bigoted comments in the bible. After all haven't christians been converting people with a sword for centuries. Terrorists will find an excuse to do what they do, be it religion, or a perceived injustice.

kiwanoFebruary 4, 2007 10:31 PM

Did Lt. Col. Aquino leave no successors when he retired, or do they just get ignored? A lot of these ideas aren't actually terribly new (though their importance seems to be).

Also, is no one in the military or administration noticing that the message that keeps reaching educated Americans (and allied Westerners) is "the enemy is using new tactics that we're failing to keep up with"? I mean how can you get anywhere near victory when your domestic base of support keeps hearing about your strategic shortcomings?

EZSmirkzzFebruary 5, 2007 5:43 AM

Thanks for the link. Pretty heavy reading first thing in the morning, but worth it.

In the end it all seems to be defined by social networks. In that regard it is hardly much different than getting ahead in business.

The details are debatable, but the thesis isn't.

gregFebruary 5, 2007 6:20 AM

"I'm sure that you can find similarly bigoted comments in the bible"

Well just like the example above. It depends. If you want to know, read it, otherwise don't make stuff up. I have read both more than once but i will not share my thoughts about the books here.

Instead lets get one thing straight. Religon may often be the vehicle that pushed some agenda but its not the cause of that agenda.

aka Bush pushes his good vers evil war and claims its his christian views. Not that many folk aggree with that.

Don't confuse personal motives with the group they claim to belong too.

In summary... What the koran or bible say is not the point. Its what a very few think that is justifies.

Dick Braakman is a dhimmified ignoramus dickhead!February 5, 2007 6:22 AM

@ Dick Braakman:

Don't be such a dhimmified ignoramus, DICKhead!

The "Skeptics" Annotated Quran isn't the Quran proper anymore than the "Skeptics" Annotated Bible. Both are rejected by their adherents.

Moreover, the instructions in the Qur'an to kill non-disbelievers are clear. Are you or the authors of the "Skeptics" Quran Muslim? If not, your opinion does NOT count for Muslims.

The quote is valid for that is how Islam interprets it and the Muslims' interpretation have resulted in countless depraved and perverse atrocities.

We can safely assume you never heard of "taqiyyah" either: lying and hypocrisy for the cause of Islam.

The Islamists have their effective Insurgency strategy all figured out way before your ancestors were sperm & eggs:

1. The Islamic agitators will declare a target non-Muslims group as their enemy (which is what the Qur'an did).

2. They then provoke the non-Muslims group so intolerably that the inevitable backlash results.

3. Then the Islamic agitators smugly announce to its enslaved, huddled masses: "See, I told you so: this is our enemy! Now go murder, burn, destroy, rape, loot & plunder them!"

Tackling Counter Insurgency requires knowledge of the modus operandi of the enemy.

Don't let current politics and your bleeding heart Western mind cloud your knowledge and appreciation of REAL history, that's assuming you bothered to school yourself in it.

Islam has been a cruel, expansionist force since its detestable inception. It contributes nothing to civilization but is intent on subverting & destroying it to remake in its perverted image.

Even a civilization as cultured and sophisticated as the Persians were besieged and ultimately fell to such savages. I fear the current softness & weakness in the morals, morale & ideology of the West is even less-equipped to battle its mortal foe.

Look around in Europe to see how they're failing. By not standing up to Islam's mischiefs, she's effectively bending over to be shafted by Islamic savages, who openly declares war, jihad & murder upon the "infidels" in the infidels' very own lands, and under the very protection of freedoms the infidels extend to these wicked, wicked bunch of islamo-facists!

Had the Islamists not stopped in Spain, you'll find more white shmucks licking their magic carpets 5 times day while sticking their arses towards heaven to mock God, while dreaming lustily about what sick acts they're going to commit to their baby camel/donkey/goat. Such taboo is allowed in Islam. Just kill the animal after it's been bestialized. Why must the poor innocent animal be killed? Shouldn't the animal rapist be killed, too?

Tell me, "tolerant one", why do Islamic countries disallow religious freedom, among the many other freedoms it denies, like to women, etc? Wither "freedom"?

Don't allow your gross ignorance and worship of tolerance blind you to the fact that your mortal enemy, Islam, is INTOLERANT! Ignore this reality and reap the consequences.

Fighting such a perverse ideology with a permissive ones like what many in the West hold is simply a recipe for doom & disaster for all.

AnonymousFebruary 5, 2007 6:34 AM

@joe:

"I'm sure that you can find similarly bigoted comments in the bible. After all haven't christians been converting people with a sword for centuries. Terrorists will find an excuse to do what they do, be it religion, or a perceived injustice."

My... had you not opened you mouth to spew forth such ignorance, perhaps we may just suspect you're a moron. But now that you did, you merely confirm you're a total fucking retard.

And since when has Christian converted people by the sword, eh, liar?

However, forced conversion by the sword has been Islam's policy from day 1. Not only this, but forced retention as well. Ask any Muslims who tried to leave Islam. They'll tell you that the penalty for their apostasy is DEATH, and it has been regularly meted out.

Instead, many Christians have been martyred by non-Christians, yet bear no ill-will for they've the peace of God, something you obviously lack.

StudentFebruary 5, 2007 7:51 AM

@Anonymous

Hmm. I probably shouldn't feed the troll.

The crusades?
The witch trials?
The conquering of America?

Your ignorance scares me. Just like all religious fanatics scares me.

Brandioch ConnerFebruary 5, 2007 8:01 AM

Well, it certainly is nice to see such trolling so early in the morning.

I have to say I agree with everything written in that article. Just read the trolls here who oppose it. They sling terms such as "Islamo-fascism" around when the article clearly stated that such were not useful.

What is happening in this forum is what is hampering our ability to address this issue. Certain people want to reduce the "enemy" to the most simplistic terms and those terms must be similar to past "enemies" who have been "defeated".

Since "we" have "defeated" the "fascists" in the past, we know we will "defeat" the "Islamo-fascists" today.

They are not the same. And as stated in that article, we have to address each group based upon its unique view and history.

They are all similar. They are not all the same.

UNTERFebruary 5, 2007 8:26 AM

@Terrorism-CrimeAgainstHumanity,

Do we all agree that terrorism is unforgivable? Let's break it down: terrorism is an attack against civilians, in order to terrorize the population and undermine your enemies will to fight. Recently, that has been declared against the laws of war, but historically it's been a fairly acceptable practice, from the salting of Carthage's fields to the nuking of Hiroshima.

Even after the post-WWII rewriting of the system of war, has it actually been the case that these types of actions have been stopped, in particular by the most powerful nations that set the rules? Well, until today the US and the Soviet Union and it successor states have held massive nuclear arms as a "defensive" measure, primarily as a terroristic threat of complete annhiliation. In Vietnam, we saw over 3 million Vietnamese killled, primarily civilians; if you believe that they were unintentional collateral damage, rather than a direct result of bombing campaigns intended to separate the civilian population from the political leadership, I have a bridge to sell you...

Then of course you have central America. And that's only US actions. I'm sure by trolling smaller powers, this entire panoply of terrorism will be repeated. The problem is that except under special conditions, WAR is TERRORISM.

Our image of "good" war comes from a very limited set of nineteenth century wars in Europe, where territories were changing hands between aristrocratic cousins in a form of ritualized warfare, like rams butting heads, carefully designed to minimize damage. But that's not the norm in industrialized, fairly democratic societies, where the state is identified with the nation. In that case, the underpinnings of the state is the population, who are therefore the natural targets in war.

If you want to stop terrorism, stop war. If you must go to war, be ready to commit terrorism -- be sure that horrendous crimes are justifiable. Don't make believe you can win with less.

Wake upFebruary 5, 2007 8:33 AM

@Anonymous:
"And since when has Christian converted people by the sword, eh, liar?"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades :
"The Crusades were a series of military conflicts of a religious character waged by Christians from 1095-1291, usually sanctioned by the Pope in the name of Christendom"

UNTERFebruary 5, 2007 8:36 AM

@Brandioch Conner

You give the trolls too much credit. In general these folks have ideological commitments that make them simple knee-jerks, robotically repeating the same inane mantra's. They don't really "want enemies to defeat," they'll just look for any excuse to demand that we all worship at their same altar. Dangerously, sometimes they are well educated, but they are always so committed to a world-view of American and Christian exceptionalism, that any discussion is impossible; all they have is conversion.

Just look at what the national political discourse has descended to. Rational discourse is just a cover for evangelism, to be abandoned whenever convenient.

qwertyFebruary 5, 2007 9:21 AM

It's funny how only now the USA cares about Iraq. The "war" in Iraq has been lost for at least 3 years now.

A high price will have to be paid for the arrogance of GWB and his unwavering support of that moron Rumsfeld.

The best that can be hoped for now is to avoid the conflict from engulfing the whole Middle East.

MikeFebruary 5, 2007 9:37 AM

Great, well-written article.

Short Version: "Sun Tzu was right - Know your enemy and know yourself and in a hundred battles you shall not lose".

Nice to see the trolls showing up to prove much of what the article says about angry disaffected people and their social systems, as well as the global information network, correct.

TeachersFebruary 5, 2007 9:47 AM

@student:

Which is why you are a student, and we your teachers.

1. The crusades?
Yes, go ask the Vatican why they launched such brutalities. They & the Islamists are both culpable of crimes against humanity and genocide for the sake of land and loot.

2. The witch trials?
We assume you're referring to the Salem Witch trials in Salem, Ma in the 17th century. Most historians who have examined the Salem witch-hunt maintain it was the result of underlying social tensions in late seventeenth-century Puritan Salem. Those tensions may have been rooted in gender conflict, dramatic economic change, or local politics. An accusation of WITCHCRAFT proved an effective way to control or punish a person labeled for a variety of reasons as an outsider. Historians have identified a pattern of accusations that strongly suggests that the afflicted girls singled out social deviants, outcasts, outsiders, merchants, tradesman, and others who threatened traditional Puritan values.

The conquering of America?
3. Well said. The conquering of the Americas (both North & South) by the Spaniards were all motivated by greed and gold. Much like what you yanks are now after: OIL.

All these facts can easily be obtained by cursory research on the net.

Is this the standard of Western education nowadays? Scary.

Indeed, your ignorance scares me. But what scares us even more is your naivete.

OK, any more "cookies"? 'Cos your 3 are real stale and thoroughly rebutted.

Time to REALLY wake upFebruary 5, 2007 10:08 AM

@wake up:

Can you really wake up properly and do some proper research rather than cutting and pasting from wikipedia, a source that has been discredited in the past?

"The Crusades were a series of military conflicts of a religious character waged by Christians from 1095-1291, usually sanctioned by the Pope in the name of Christendom"

Again, go ask the Vatican & the Muslims why they committed mutual genocide on both sides.

BTW, nothing in the crusades anywhere nor at any time in history has Christianity compelled anyone to believe.

Only Islam compels its conquered populace to convert to Islam on pain of death.

You've yet to disprove that.

UNTER talks rubbish!February 5, 2007 10:13 AM

@UNTER:

You must had too much education and damaged your brain.

WTF is "American and Christian exceptionalism"?

Isn't your tunnel vision and refusal to see the truth of Islam a clear indication of your bigoted and fundamentalist nature your carelessly accuse others of?

For shame.

UNTERFebruary 5, 2007 10:20 AM

I love it when I can have my point proven without lifting a finger. The trolls just froth at the mouth when they can't burn you at the stake. The radical right is no more worth "conversing" with, or treating as a rational opponent, than Osama.

But the trolls sure are fun, like beating a piñata. But it's not worth the effort to even analyze their mindset --- their missionaries.

Brandioch ConnerFebruary 5, 2007 10:26 AM

@ UNTER
"They don't really "want enemies to defeat," they'll just look for any excuse to demand that we all worship at their same altar."

I'm sure that some of them do. All of them if you define "worship at their same alter" broadly enough.

But the lessons contained in that article also apply to dealing with the trolls here.

For the most part, it appears to be a single troll with a single SOP. It isn't seeking a larger congregation. It's seeking responses to its insults in an attempt to validate its existence. If you must reply to that troll, do so in a fashion that ignores the insults.

Without the validation, the troll will quickly starve to death.

The same lesson can be applied to al Queda and Osama. Bush has elevated him to a world famous figure. Osama is now shaping the 21st century. That is the recognition and legacy that he wants. If he had died in 1999, he would have been less than a footnote in history. Now every child will learn of him for the next 100 years.

AlanSFebruary 5, 2007 10:37 AM

As a professional anthropologist I read the observations in this article about the importance of understanding the 'other' and the 'local' the same way a professional astronomer might read an article that about a failed space program that pointed out the importance of taking gravity into account. Is this situation a result of a broken relationship between government and the discipline of anthropology? Maybe. I'm sure the pentagon could find a few anthropologists to work for them (as they seem to have done). Or maybe they could bother themselves to go into a library and read some relevant history and social science texts when planning foreign adventures. The fact that they don't probably has more to do with the fact that Americans have a rather condescending attitude to the rest of the world. This is a country where people get endless amusement out their ignorance of world geography. If you'd don't know where the country is, why would you want to know about the people that live there?

When I was growing up I remember a relative from Borneo visiting the family (in the UK). This must have been around the early 1970s. He worked for a timber company and was a a runty little guy you wouldn't have paid much attention to except he had an interesting past. He'd been involved in the so called 'Malayan Emergency'. The family all suspected he'd been in MI6. He had a Chinese wife and was fluent in several Chinese dialects. He was totally immersed in the local languages and cultures. He wasn't a card carrying anthropologist but as good as or better. At some point he'd been brought in to advise the Americans on jungle warfare in Vietnam. He said he arrived in Saigon and left shortly afterwards as it was clear to him that they had absolutely no interest in jungle warfare or learning from the British experience. The America vision of jungle warfare, he observed, was bomb the hell out the jungle. So what's new?

Question: How do you think a silly little country like Britain built an empire? Anyone who thinks the empire was built by brute military force alone needs to read some history books.

DavidFebruary 5, 2007 10:37 AM

@Terrorism-CrimeAgainstHumanity
Nobody (or at least few who believe in liberty) denies the right to seek prosperity for yourself and your family, so long as the tactics used do not bring harm to others.

That's the rub. I'm sure few support Al Qaeda or its tactics (you can see how they have very little international reach as they don't seem capable of much disturbance in the west -- at least compared to homegrown terror groups), and few support terrorism, but if you piss on me, don't then blame me for throwing a temper tantrum. And if you happen to be bigger and more powerful than I am, you can be sure I'm going to hit your soft underbelly rather than directly face-to-face.

Reality bites, and it often bites back.

For a so-called Christian nation (and nations if you include much of the rest of the west), based on liberty over death, independence over central rule, free markets, etc., one has to wonder why the Golden Rule is discarded, liberty is cast aside, central rule by foreigners is expected of others but not for itself, and foreign (western) ideology is imposed at gunpoint rather than allowing for different tastes.

UNTERFebruary 5, 2007 10:44 AM

Isn't the question to ask of Kilcullen and his ilk, Why?

His strategy for counter-insurgency appears to be the obvious lessons from the last century or so, salted with information revolution.

But why? Why was the war against Darul Islam in Indonesia necessary? Instead of a new jargon-y term like dissaggregation, aren't we simply asking that question -- the specific, empirical reason for each war, battle, and skirmish?

This is where the nature of the "long war" becomes most obvious --- as primarily a propaganda war, using bodies to send messages. It makes even the obvious questions impossible to ask, at a national level; maybe as an academic exercise the disscussion is possible, but certainly not as a "serious" political exercise.

AnonymousFebruary 5, 2007 10:49 AM

@Brandioch Conner

"Now every child will learn of him for the next 100 years."


So tell me. who was the promenet figures 100 years ago. Without looking it up?

I'm amazed at how many don't even learn about WWII much less WWI.

This chapter in histroy will be forgoten as fast as the last chapter.

AnonymousFebruary 5, 2007 11:13 AM

@ aop:

The deeply rooted animosity from the get go between the Sunnis and Shiites transcends any reformation.

The Reformation and Renaissance were both rooted in appeals to reason & logic, two clear qualities that Islam clearly lacks.

Is there any wonder why Islam remains medieval and regressive? It's conduct and behaviour is clear for all with eyes to see.

cshellsFebruary 5, 2007 11:25 AM

>@AlanS
>Question: How do you think a silly little country like Britain built an empire? Anyone who thinks the empire was built by brute military force alone needs to read some history books.

Britain built its empire by "divide-and-conquer" - not entirely by force but more subtly through "colonialization of minds" a.k.a. Macaulay-ism. Search for Thomas Macaulay's ideas on this.

LlywelynFebruary 5, 2007 12:14 PM

@Anonymous:

"BTW, nothing in the crusades anywhere nor at any time in history has Christianity compelled anyone to believe."

Erm, tell that to the Jews in Spain and Portugal c. 15th century.

Or to Pope Innocent III, who while in the abstract was opposed to forced conversions (the fact that it was an issue of the time that the pope felt he needed to speak on should tell you something), gave out the decree that such conversions were in fact valid and that such people could legitimately be forced to keep the faith "lest the name of the Lord be blasphemed." Regardless of how the conversion was elicited.

In the meantime, early Islamic law either discouraged or actually forbade conversions. Go figure.

AnonymousFebruary 5, 2007 12:37 PM

@Llywelyn:

What you and many are kept in the dark is that Roman Catholicism ain't Christianity - not by a long shot.

Roman Catholicism's unbiblical doctrines and blasphemous abominations in the form of "purgatory", sale of "indulgences" to "reduce penance" in said "purgatory", "transubstitution", idol worship of Mary, the saints, icons & sacraments, discouraging its followers from reading the Holy Bible for themselves because they fear the loss of control when the masses finally discover that what they're taught by the Vatican go against the Bible, murder of translators of the Bible into vernacular languages, their much discredited "infallibility" of the Vatican and their self-appointed Pope based on incorrect interpretation of Scripture (Peter was a "stone", only Jesus is the "Rock"), slavish, unthinking adherence to "traditions" of fallible men much like the Pharisees, etc clearly make them out to be another deviant sect that copy & paste much of Christianity before perverting it into an abominable counterfeit with Baal worship and incorporating many elements from Babylonian, Greek and Roman paganism. Now you see why Roman Catholicism is so big on idol worship?

In short there's NOTHING CHRISTIAN ABOUT THE VATICAN & ROMAN CATHOLICISM.

Indeed Roman Catholicism has done much harm for the cause of Christianity. The crimes against humanity by the Vatican and Roman Catholicism has been falsely heaped upon Christianity.

In short, Roman Catholicism is NOT Christianity. Go ask any Roman Catholic. They insist there're Roman Catholics or RC, never Christians.

"In the meantime, early Islamic law either discouraged or actually forbade conversions. Go figure."

How to figure without any citation? Islam went to war against every tribe around it to plunder and pillage from its inception. Those courageous enough to resist were ultimately slaughtered. Only those cowardly and the weak surrender to conversion to Islam by the sword on pain of death. Soon, the conquered were mentally, spiritually and physically enslaved by Islam.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 5, 2007 12:42 PM

@cshells

It was not just the ideas of Thomas Macaulay.

Have a good look at one Cecil John Rhodes (founder of De Beers the diamond owners ;).

Most of the British Empire such as India was actually a mistake. It was known back befor Victoria ascended to the throne that Empires where bad news they cost to much to run and provided to little in return and thus where a drag on the public purse.

However to "freebooting adventurers" like Rhodes the idea was simple, you took in a small force of people then stage managed proper military support from home.

You then divided up the areas you had inflicted your views on in a quite simple way. You found out where the tribal lands boarders where and you made a nation that was about 1/3 one tribe and about 2/3 another. You then put the 1/3 in charge and gave them the weapons and desire to remain in charge by effectivly enslaving the other majority tribe.

In the specific case of India, the British had repeatedly refused to come to the aid of one or more freebooters. In the end the French started sniffing around and it was only at this point did the British Government sanction any kind of intervention in India...

Yes Britain had an Empire, but by and large it was quite happy to be with out it as trade is the real key to success in these things.

Although initialy the trade cycle involved opium etc, the British Empire survived by the simple premise of trade cycles and value adding. Raw minerals where processed into high value comodities that where re exported back to those countries.

It is why there is still the commonwealth.

The sun set on the Limey Empire long, long ago. Good riddance to bad rubbish!February 5, 2007 1:02 PM

@Clive Robinson:

The "commonwealth" is just an imperialist excuse for the Limeys to bask in their much diminished glory days when their gunboats and opium ruled.

Too bad its ex-colonies don't give a hoot about them (well perhaps the Indians, for we know India, with its caste system and entrenched racism find a soul mate in the class concious limeys. Plus the limeys find it convenient to exploit the Indian slave mentality that worships all things limey).

If the UN is impotent in reigning in rouge states, the "commonwealth" is even more so in handling its rouge members.

The "commonwealth" is totally irrelevant and contributes nothing to the world stage, just like the Non-Aligned Movement that took root during the Cold War. All these are useless remnants of a bygone era.

Pat CahalanFebruary 5, 2007 1:28 PM

There seems to be a lot of arguments based upon correlation rather than causation here.

Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that neither Mohammad nor Christ rose to figures of prominence, and that neither Islam or any variation of Christianity became a socio-political animal. Do you think that all of the conflicts in the course of human history that have a religious component would simply have not occurred?

Religion, organized or otherwise, is hardly the root cause of all of the evils of human interaction.

jeffFebruary 5, 2007 2:14 PM

@Bruce,
OK, I give up. I vote that those of us actually interested in security register with a valid e-mail address and Bruce restrict posting to registered users. Its getting way too hard to have a rational discussion here . . . .

I understand that my vote doesn't count, I just felt the need to express it.

jeffFebruary 5, 2007 3:34 PM

@anonymous @jeff

FYI, e-mails aren't displayed.

And what do you have against left handers?

ModeratorFebruary 5, 2007 4:50 PM

There are some excellent comments here, but the signal-to-noise ratio is falling steadily.

Please try to keep your posts on this blog civil, relevant, and interesting. If you can't manage at least 2 out of 3, or if you're calling another commenter names, expect your comment to be deleted.

ModeratorFebruary 5, 2007 5:05 PM

... actually, Brandioch Conner is right; that's probably a single troll. A Torified troll, unfortunately. Please try not to feed it.

Ian MasonFebruary 5, 2007 5:53 PM

There are a number of people who crop up here regularly. Discussing cryptography, security, the politics of security and even sharing the odd joke. They are identifiable by the way they type their real names (or at least consistent, non-ideagogue pseudonyms) into the 'name' box.

If you have a real, arguable point to make, be man/woman enough to use your own name. Otherwise go and hide back under the bridge.

Leveraging of religion for socio-polito-economic reasons has a long history. The popes used Catholicism to amass weath and an empire (both in name and later without). Catholics and protestants in Northern Ireland was really about republicanism and loyalism. Hitler leveraged the Catholics when it suited him (the Ermächtigungsgesetz). So it is with the 'christian' right in the USA and the 'moslem' Al-Queda. The issue is not, in truth, religion.

The original article made interesting reading. What it fails to really address is the underlying issues. Until these are resolved there will be many tactics and strategies used to fight this 'war', all irrelevant except that they will continue to cost lives, the truth and many people's freedom.

AlanSFebruary 5, 2007 5:54 PM

@The sun set on the Limey Empire long, long ago. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

While you may say good riddance, are we really rid of it? The Americans, for good or bad, are living with what they were bequeathed. However, I suspect that history ranks about the same as social science in the overall scheme of American strategic thinking.

AnonymousFebruary 5, 2007 6:44 PM

@Ian Mason

"If you have a real, arguable point to make, be man/woman enough to use your own name. Otherwise go and hide back under the bridge."

In some ways I sympathise with your challenge but I'd like to offer an alternative view:

Technology for correlating and analysing online data will only get better with time. Already, relatively simple tools like search engines can uncover a surprising amount of information about some people. Far too many people set up MySpace pages and publish personal data without considering the potential long term consequences. Is Ian Mason your real name? If so how much might I discover about you by using search engines? Looking for a job soon? Some employers routinely check Google, Myspace and Youtube for information - I seem to recall hearing about some young graduates having difficulty getting a job because of Myspace pages that contardicted the jobseekers CV.

I accept that people who post offensive comments using anonymous names are a nuisance but this blog seems to get by without too many problems.

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/05/the_value_of_pr.html
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/10/privacy_and_goo.html

AnonymousFebruary 5, 2007 7:38 PM

@Anonymous:

Excellent rejoinder to one who claim to be a "Ian Mason".

If we affirm that as a progressive society, we're persuaded by sound reason, logic & rigorous analysis in the contest of ideas, then is the identity of the profferer more important than the ideas itself, especially when they run counter to one's predilections?

There are those of us who defend the meritocracy of ideas and believe that the best ones win. It is in the cut, thrust & parry of debate, yes, even & especially the debunking of provocative invectives that mark us as wielders of wit & wisdom rather than vendors of violence & vendetta.

Others like some here dismissed the more inflammatory & provocative posts as trolling. If they can't accommodate and debunk such notions convincingly and calmly, what can we expect of them when they're confronted with divergent & intransigent opinions that cannot be dismissively ignored, where more serious & cerebral issues are at stake?

@moderator:

As security-conscious users of the internet, I would be quite surprised if not more of your readers are tor-aware & are tor-users. I know I am, and use it I do. :)

Christoph ZurniedenFebruary 5, 2007 8:28 PM

> It was not just the ideas of Thomas Macaulay.
> Have a good look at one Cecil John Rhodes

A long time ago, on a different continent with different inhabitants, religions and goals one man descriped some of the wars he led and his descriptions show some astonishing similarities.
He started with a short description of the general situation:
Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur. Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt [...] Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae, propterea quod a cultu atque humanitate provinciae longissime absunt, minimeque ad eos mercatores saepe commeant atque ea quae ad effeminandos animos pertinent important, proximique sunt Germanis, qui trans Rhenum incolunt, quibuscum continenter bellum gerunt.
(I forgot to look, but I'm quite sure you find some english translation of I. G. Caesar's "Comentarii de bello gallico" on the net)
All of the descriptions of the battles he led show a profound knowlegde of the localities: geography,
persons in power (directly and indirectly) and their tactics (military and leadership), religion, commerce and other necessaries of life. Also about the flow of information. A small example from ibid. Lib. 7 c. 3:
Celeriter ad omnes Galliae civitates fama perfertur nam ubicumque maior atque inlustrior incidit res, clamore per agros regionesque significant; hinc alii deinceps excipiunt et proximis tradunt; ut tum accidit nam, quae Cenabi oriente sole gesta essent, ante primam confectam vigiliam in finibus Arvernorum audita sunt, quod spatium est milium passuum circiter centum sexaginta [~243 km ].

How do you cut that stream if you do not understand the language? Kill all shouting farmers? But admittedly technology has developed the last 2000 years, so let me rephrase my question: kill all farmers who are using a sattelite phone while ploughing? Shut down all websites which report incidents you do not want to have published?

Most, if not all of the problems occured shortly after the invention of the division of labour and with it the foundation of a small group of the tribe specialised in fighting other tribes, or more exactly: fighting the small groups specialised in fighting other tribes.
Most, if not all of the aforementioned problems have been solved a long time ago. Even with only the "Comentarii" at hand one can see quite clearly that the USA lack the fundamental information that could lead them to the answer to the seemingly simple question: "Who the heck is my enemy?".

CZ

AnonymousFebruary 5, 2007 10:12 PM

CZ:

"who the heck is US's enem(ies)?", indeed.

Some say it is the US's moral relativism, indolence & insularity that are eating away at her dynamism, moral compass and leadership. That is why her ideological enemies that despise freedom smell her weakness & tentativeness.

They're right, of course.

The US has proven herself to lack the requisite resolve & endurance to prevail over her adversaries, both overt & covert.

After Nam, the US has lost the stomach for casualties in any conflict that tests her will.

War is but a tool of policy to assert political will. There can be no timetable nor casualty limits to any conflict. It only ends with one victor and the vanquished. When the US start timetabling her conflicts to presidential terms and scramble for an exit strategy at the first sign of trouble without persevering till the end, how can she attain any victory?

The military hardware, social, cultural, technological & economic infrastructures of the US are undermined by malaise, the lack of direction and the will to harness them to their full potential.

The current US's quagmire in Iraq against a technologically & logistically inferior foe exemplifies the fact that the US's hardware is not matched by her software.

The US thus have to decide, collectively as a society, if she wishes to prevail. Otherwise, her rapidly eroding pre-eminence will continue to deteriorate.

Nothing the US has done or is doing inspires any confidence in her for the future. Unless drastic steps are taken to buttress this decline, the US and her citizens had better resign themselves to the fact that they will be relegated. And sooner than she realises.

ModeratorFebruary 5, 2007 10:37 PM

@February 5, 2007 07:38 PM:

Sure, many people use Tor. But the pattern suggested one person, who toward the end was insulting other users without actually saying anything relevant to the topic.

Posting pseudonymously is always allowed here -- says so right below the Name field. I wish people would limit themselves to one pseudonym per thread, but that's a request, not something I plan on trying to enforce.

AnonymousFebruary 5, 2007 10:39 PM

The immortal words of 2LT Mark Daily
By Michelle Malkin · January 19, 2007 01:37 AM

Army 2nd Lt. Mark J. Daily, 23

A reader e-mails that 2LT Mark Daily was killed in an IED attack in Mosul along with three other soldiers. He was named the ROTC's outstanding cadet for 2005 and also a Distinguished Military Graduate, the highest ROTC award. The OC Register profiles him here.

This was his MySpace post explaining his decision to enter the military. I'm reprinting it in full because it deserves to be read and remembered--and because it will probably only get briefly mentioned or excerpted in most MSM coverage of his death. Read the whole thing:

Sunday, October 29, 2006

WHY I JOINED
Current mood: optimistic

Why I Joined:

This question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see. First, the more accurate question is why I volunteered to go to Iraq. After all, I joined the Army a week after we declared war on Saddam's government with the intention of going to Iraq. Now, after years of training and preparation, I am finally here.

Much has changed in the last three years. The criminal Ba'ath regime has been replaced by an insurgency fueled by Iraq's neighbors who hope to partition Iraq for their own ends. This is coupled with the ever present transnational militant Islamist movement which has seized upon Iraq as the greatest way to kill Americans, along with anyone else they happen to be standing near. What was once a paralyzed state of fear is now the staging ground for one of the largest transformations of power and ideology the Middle East has experienced since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to Iran, Syria, and other enlightened local actors, this transformation will be plagued by interregional hatred and genocide. And I am now in the center of this.

Is this why I joined?

Yes. Much has been said about America's intentions in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and seeking to establish a new state based upon political representation and individual rights. Many have framed the paradigm through which they view the conflict around one-word explanations such as "oil" or "terrorism," favoring the one which best serves their political persuasion. I did the same thing, and anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me).

I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day "humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn't confront the Ba'ath party, the Taliban or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!) or even a creeping suspicion of America's intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow "humanists" and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America's historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade.

And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are.

So that is why I joined. In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the President to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere.

I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined.

In digesting this posting, please remember that America's commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration and would exist into our future children's lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago and were up until now held back by the most cruel of cages. Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck"

Mark Daily

On his MySpace front page, he featured this quote:

"Patience demolishes mountains" -Arab proverb

He wanted to be a journalist.

These are the kind and caliber of men who fight for us. Twenty-three years young. God rest his soul. And never, never forget.

http://michellemalkin.com/archives/006723.htm

BennyFebruary 5, 2007 10:44 PM

Bravo, Anon @ 10:12 pm! Thanks for that text-book-perfect parroting of pro-war talking points! Why does America hate America?

AnonymousFebruary 5, 2007 11:18 PM

@Benny:

Those heartfelt, eloquent & patriotic words were the verbatim blog entry from 2nd Lt. Mark J Daily's MySpace account. May he RIP and may the Lord bless his soul.

He was more the man despite his youth than you can ever hope to be.

He put his life on the line for for what he believes in and in what America stands for: freedom & the fight against oppression, not only for Americans but for the world.

Michelle Malkin did not editorialize but merely reproduce Mark's blog entry as a matter of record.

Now, instead of praying for his family in their time of grief and reflecting on Mark's message, you insult his sacrifice by pandering to your petty politics.

Have you no shame? Shame on you!

StudentFebruary 6, 2007 5:52 AM

@Teachers

1:
Yes. Converting people by the sword indeed

2: The witch trials
Not being an American I am uninterested in the Salem witch trials, even if I have read about them. Considerably more interesting are the witch trials in Europe, including the “conversion��? of the native people (such as the Sami) in northern Europe. But don’t worry, the American history books probably does not cover it.

3: The conquering of America
So greed for gold triumphs greed for power? Ever considered why most of America is Christian today? Just because Christianism happens to be an unusually good religion, or perhaps because a ruthless campaign to extinguish all other local religions started by the Spaniards and continued by other groups of immigrants?

I am a student because I am still learning. You are obviously a teacher, because you have stopped learning and just recite what somebody has taught you.

Christianism has indeed been spread by violent means, not to mention hundreds of years of repression of anybody not following the Christian dogma. The history of that religion is as bloody (if not more so) than any other.

DylanFebruary 6, 2007 5:53 AM

@anon 10:39pm

A bit sad trotting out this stuff after the guy is dead. Not sure what point you are making, except that your government's marketing effort to brainwash the young and inexperienced has clearly worked in this one instance. I don't see how this guy is (was) any more or less of a man than anyone else his age.

That is like me saying that Saddam Hussein was more of a man than you could ever be, just because I read a speech of his one time that stirred my emotions, and that I agreed with.

I think you should take the time to read the article that this post was about, and get back on topic. It is not a discussion on dead soldiers and their reasons for joining up, it is about a subject that should be near and dear to your heart, how to "win" the "long war."

jeff (with the lower case 'j')February 6, 2007 7:42 AM

@Dylan

"... get back on topic ... how to 'win' the 'long war'."

or, to be selfish, to steer the topic toward the reason that I read this blog . . . computer security strategies. The message of that article applies equally well to standard network security, as well as physical security. You need to know the attacker, what motivates them, and how to best stop them. Some times it is brute force (a firewall), some times it is something less direct. You need to know that the computer hacker environment has changed. The risk is less from 16 year old hobbyists and more from professional hackers (be they 16 or older) and you need to adjust your defenses.

This is something we've discussed here before. I wonder when I'm going to be asked to hire a psychologist into the network security department. . . .

Bruce SchneierFebruary 6, 2007 8:16 AM

Can we please keep these comments on topic. This isn't a political blog, and I don't want it to become one. Shutting down comments to this post is the easiest solution, but I'd rather not.

Please.

AnonymousFebruary 6, 2007 11:05 AM

@Christoph Zurnieden

"Who the heck is my enemy?".

Exactly. Without local knowledge you will have no idea and no idea how to respond appropriately. And this isn't just of importance in Iraq. It's true at the airport, or wondering around in any downtown area in urban America, or wondering around in the woods for that matter. If you are ignorant, and can't read the signs, you'll make decisions based on crude stereotypes and questionable assumptions and that's going to get you in lots of trouble eventually. Security you will not have. And no amount of technology will solve the problem.

Terry ClothFebruary 6, 2007 12:22 PM

@Bunny: Here's a thought experiment: whenever someone proposes that the USA should do this or that, imagine how you'd feel if another country did the same to you.

I always wondered why we (the U.S.) didn't apply this principle to the ``Star Wars'' project. Build the first example in the U.S.S.R. Since it's purely defensive, we wouldn't have any trouble giving it to them, right?

Armchair WarriorFebruary 6, 2007 2:29 PM

"Without local knowledge you will have no idea and no idea how to respond appropriately. And this isn't just of importance in Iraq. It's true at the airport, or wandering around in any downtown area in urban America, or wandering around in the woods for that matter."

That's quite a good way of illustrating some of the problems faced by regular troops respsonsible for counterinsurgency but the troops have to do a lot more than just wander around - they have to be influential as well.

Kilcullen's approach seems to be based upon the idea that a range of soft and hard persuasion is required.

"Soft" means persuading the general population that is in their interest to work with the troops.

"Hard" means killing those who will never compromise.

Of course all of this will happen under the glare of the media spotlight who neither know nor care about local issues.

Quote from the article: "Kilcullen met senior European officers with the NATO force in Afghanistan who seemed to be applying “a development model to counterinsurgency,��? hoping that gratitude for good work would bring the Afghans over to their side. He told me, “In a counterinsurgency, the gratitude effect will last until the sun goes down and the insurgents show up and say, ‘You’re on our side, aren’t you? Otherwise, we’re going to kill you.’ If one side is willing to apply lethal force to bring the population to its side and the other side isn’t, ultimately you’re going to find yourself losing.��?"

It's hard for me to see how we are going to be able to apply Kilcullen's ideas in Iraq because it's too late now. Achieving real influence in Afghanistan may still be possible but also seems unlikely. Pretty depressing when you think about it really.

DylanFebruary 6, 2007 6:13 PM

@jeff and Bruce
Amen.

If you want to encourage security discussion, though, you might want to kick-start the discussion by providing some context in the original post.

You should be able see that posting anything with the word "Islamic" in the text is going to attract trolls.

How does this article apply to the topic of security and security technology? Having read it, I can see some relevance, but it would help if you could guide discussion a bit further

AlanSFebruary 6, 2007 8:59 PM

@Armchair Warrior

"...but the troops have to do a lot more than just wander around - they have to be influential as well."

Agreed. But to be effective one has to start with local understanding. Without that one is just bumbling around. You can't play the political game and although you'll try to accomplish your ends by force you can't really play that game either as you don't have the understanding to use force appropriately.

It's interesting to compare Northern Ireland with Iraq. In the former case you have a conflict involving sectarian groups with a long complicated history. But Northern Ireland is a small place with a small population and still people who had a good grasp of the history and the factionalism, etc. have taken 35+ years in the current round of 'troubles' to create a situation that is relatively peaceful. So what makes the Americans think they can pull this off in Iraq any time soon? It's a ludicrous proposition.

The only way to do it fast is to recreate a Saddam, someone who completely understands how to work the factions to his advantage and is completely ruthless in the use of force.

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