Defeating al Qaeda

Rare common sense:

But Gen Richards told the BBC it was not possible to defeat the Taliban or al-Qaeda militarily.

“You can’t. We’ve all said this. David Petraeus has said it, I’ve said it.

“The trick is the balance of things that you’re doing and I say that the military are just about, you know, there.

“The biggest problem’s been ensuring that the governance and all the development side can keep up with it within a time frame and these things take generations sometimes within a time frame that is acceptable to domestic, public and political opinion,” he said.


Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy told the BBC Gen Richards was “right” that there was no purely military solution and said there would be “no white flag surrender moment”.

“This is a complicated issue. It will be for the long haul. It’s got to do with history.

“But I think he’s right to talk about the different ways that this has got to be taken on – militarily yes but diplomatically and in a peaceful sense of nation building in Afghanistan is also important,” he said.

Posted on November 22, 2010 at 1:08 PM47 Comments


Dom De Vitto November 22, 2010 1:33 PM

Sun Tzu said all this around 2,500 years ago.

History. Repeats. Itself.
If. People. Don’t. Change.

War is bad for almost everyone – everyone except arms suppliers and corrupt politicians….

Gary November 22, 2010 1:36 PM

I agree with the quote, but I laughed when I saw the introduction. Isn’t “rare common sense” an oxymoron?

HJohn November 22, 2010 1:37 PM

@Dom De Vitto: “War is bad for almost everyone – everyone except arms suppliers and corrupt politicians….”

It depends on the war. There are times when it is best to use force, and times when it isn’t.

I’ll leave it at that, as to not trigger a war-specific debate.

servin November 22, 2010 1:44 PM

“If he is to have any real chance of success, the counterinsurgent must strike at the roots of the population’s dissatisfaction and do so quickly enough to wrest the initiative from the revolutionaries.”

“For the revolutionary leader, all that is necessary is to exploit…problems, underline them to the people, and promise alternate options under their leadership in the future. The government’s, and thus the counter insurgent’s, position is far more difficult. They must show positive progress in the correction of grievances, and they must do it fast enough and well enough to prevent the insurgents from taking credit…Ideally, then, the solution is to eliminate the causes of rebellion before active fighting begins.”

“Thus the counter-insurgent…faces the herculean task of trying simultaneously to fight an enemy from within and to build a complete political structure from the ground up. The weaker, more ineffective, corrupt, or repressive the existing government is, the tougher the task will be.”

“Technological advances and massive doses of modern materiel introduced into a near-primitive society do not guarantee progress, and are, in fact, counterproductive.”


“Ideally, the objective of a counter-guerrilla program is not to kill or even capture the guerrilla, but to convince him to abandon a hopeless or worthless cause.”

From “Inside the Green Berets”, by Charles M. Simpson III, published in 1983.

Dom De Vitto November 22, 2010 2:00 PM

As the risk of being dull…

“In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good.”

“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. ”

“There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. ”

See anything here that politicians should have read and understood?

Clive Robinson November 22, 2010 2:28 PM

If you look back over British Military History you will find many firsts, some bad (concentration camps suppression of the Indian Mutiny) some good.

In the good section is “hearts and minds” which oddly started with the notion of “teaching a man to fish” from the idea behind the old saying “If you give a man a fish he can feed his family for a day, teach him to fish and he can feed his family indefinatly”.


altjira November 22, 2010 2:49 PM


I’ve said for years that common sense just doesn’t exist. If it were truly common, we would never have a word for it, because everybody would just understand. The phrase “common sense” is used by frustrated people who don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t get it, and who can’t explain it.

HJohn November 22, 2010 2:57 PM

@Dom De Vitto: “See anything here that politicians should have read and understood?”

I’m not really disagreeing with you completely. I do think other options should be exhausted, because war really is hell. I’m just saying it needs to be evaluated on a situational basis. Make that “carefully evaluated on a situational basis and avoided if reasonably possible.”

Clive Robinson November 22, 2010 3:08 PM

Hmm never try posting from a mobile in a London train… It chopped the bottom of my comment off for some reason unknown.

To continue,

That is if you wish to get a nation on your side you must realise that something of use has to be given for trust to be returned by the people.

As with some teenagers you have to be patient as the nation may well be willful and prideful and resent any attempts to impose a system of governance or any other civil structure.

However with time and good leadership and support you can get a nation to be able to stand on it’s feet, however you have to accept that sometimes nations like children may not turn out to be the adults you wanted but are still worthwhile and usefull citizens in the world community.

The US UK coalition went into both Afganistan and Iraq in a very very childish way and then sold out the people by replacing one hated set of leaders with another set of leaders who were detested and hated as well.

Then there was the corruption…

Then there was the sell out of ideals with the Palestine and their free elections where the people voted for as the US saw it the wrong political party.

Yes there are other ways we could have done worse (and did) but ask yourself why should these people trust us in any way shape or form?

Phillip November 22, 2010 3:18 PM

I think we need to evaluate our goal. If our goal is to defeat some group of middle-eastern people, that is a goal that sets us up for perpetual war (sounds like good job security for many in the DoD). I think that’s a futile goal. Ask Israel about how long they have been fighting relatively the same middle-eastern enemy. Ask their enemy how long they have been fighting Israel.

Our goal should be to stop the threat. To do that, we stop interfering in the middle east.

M N Khurshid November 22, 2010 3:18 PM

I, somehow, agree with all of you. I completely agree that war is not a good thing. But, we should learn from this quotation of Einstein,

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Andrew has raised a very important point and I have questions and answers regarding his comments.

Andrew said, “The Taliban are being resourced by the ISI, and America is funding the ISI.”

There are two questions here, “Why Taliban are being resourced by the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Ageny)”? “Why America is funding the ISI”?

These two questions are inter-related. There is a history of events regarding these two questions.

It all started in the days of cold war, when USSR was fighting Afghan war (27 December 1979 – 15 February 1989 (9 years, 50 days). USSR want to take control of Afghanistan to extend its influence in Middle East. USA detected that this will de-stabilize Middle East. USA considered it as an attack and they decided to fight USSR secretly. The strategy they adopted were to give weapons to local Afghan people/militant to fight against USSR Army. There was a problem that how USA will supply Weapons to Afghan militants? They somehow got solution of it and they decided to give Weapon through Pakistani Intelligence (/ Pakistani Army and other nations.

Their plan was quite successful that time. Not only USSR left Afghanistan without victory but also USSR become Russia (i.e it divide into small countries, although Russia is still largest country by area).

This was beginning of a new problem. Pakistani Army / Pakistani ISI were given weapons to give to Afghan militant. But, there were corrupt people in Pakistani Army/ISI who sold a large quantity of those weapon in local market. Furthermore, Afghan militant were also corrupt. Instead of fighting through those weapon against USSR, Afghan militant started selling those weapons to surrounding border countries including area which is now called Tribal region of Pakistan.

Tribal region of Pakistan is an area in Pakistan with no police. The law they followed is not Pakistan’s law, instead, they followed Shariah Law and in other words it is still a tribal region.

The world has changed after 911. USA decided to fight terrorist organizations around the world. Afghanistan was invaded under that fight. USA had seen difficulty in fighting with Afghan terrorist (Al-Qaeda). The difficulty was Al-Qaeda terrorist were local people, well equipped with old USA weapon (which were provided during USSR-Afghan war to Afghan people).

The significant portion of supply line of USA is provided by Pakistan. Pakistani agencies are charging USA a large amount for that purpose. Andrew had pointed it as “ISI is funded by America”.

The think there is a solution of this war. The solution is to under the “Clash of Fundamentalism”, i.e. understand other person religion, their motive that why are they fighting etc.

Without understanding it, this world will be a worse place than it use to be.

All the best.

Davi Ottenheimer November 22, 2010 7:06 PM

Wait, what? “We’ve all said this.”

Uh oh, is it time for a we told you so political faction? I guess some of the generals will not be part of this new we train:

“The head of Nato forces in Afghanistan warns today that the military effort needs more money and more troops for a year-long push that he believes will defeat the Taliban.”

“Gen. Stanley McChrystal to Congress: ‘We can defeat the Taliban'”

And who can forget President Bush’s subtle style? He definitely missed the we train.

“The White House bluntly warned Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers Friday that ‘We will defeat you'”

This Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, in contrast, seems in 2001 to have been fairly accurate in his response:

“President Bush’s ultimatum posed great danger for Muslims. ‘It has angered Muslims of the world and can plunge the whole region into a crisis,’ Zaeef said. ‘We are ready to cooperate if we are shown evidence. If American agencies are bent on putting the blame on bin Laden, then they won’t be able to catch the real culprits.'”

Richard Steven Hack November 22, 2010 7:36 PM

His first sentence is right. THIS sentence: “I say that the military are just about, you know, there.” is complete BS. The military has been out nonsense about how “things are improving” prior to the elections and in an attempt to get Obama to extend the withdrawal date by AT LEAST THREE years.

It’s BS. NATO and the US are no where near defeating or even containing the Taliban.

Petraeus is so stupid he’s using TANKS now to destroy Afghan homes from a distance because his troops are too cowardly to go in and root out the insurgents without without relying on air strikes that kill every civilian in the vicinity.

TANKS in what is supposed to be a COIN operation?! WTF?

Petraeus was never the “military genius/COIN guru” his PR makes him out to be.

The fundamental problem is that COIN is IMPOSSIBLE by a foreign occupation military. COIN can ONLY be done effectively by an indigenous government in touch with the local population and with the support of the majority of the local population. Think Bolivia vs Che Guevara. COIN simply CANNOT be done in Afghanistan by US and NATO forces. It’s totally impossible.

The problem is not that Pakistan is supporting the Taliban. The problem is that the US does not understand – or care to understand – the region’s situation.

There was NEVER a {legitimate} reason to invade Afghanistan in the first place. The Taliban would have handed over bin Laden to a third party country had Bush provided evidence – which he didn’t have and we STILL don’t have – of his involvement in 9/11. The Taliban said so repeatedly. Second, even if they hadn’t, over the horizon efforts could have contained Al Qaeda in concert with good counter-intelligence and law enforcement work at home.

Changing US policies that made the US an Al Qaeda target in the first place would have THE most effective method to remove the US from the Al Qaeda target list.

The Afghan war was launched for two REAL reasons: to get a pipeline (Karzai used to work for an OIL COMPANY – what part of that doesn’t anyone understand?) and to regain control of the heroin market for the benefit of the CIA which the Taliban had suppressed during their rule. 9/11 was just the excuse used – Bush had been planning to attack Afghanistan since well before 9/11. Look it up.

Now the military-industrial complex wants the US taxpayer to fund another pointless war for another five, ten, fifteen, twenty years. Look at this British idiot the other day who talked about FORTY years.

Wars are fought for money and hegemony, no other reason.

M N Khurshid November 22, 2010 8:34 PM

Respected all,

First of all my apology for 2nd last paragraph of my comments (Something went wrong). Actually, I mean to say following sentence, i.e.

There is a solution of this war. The solution is to understand the “Clash of Fundamentalism”, i.e. understand other person religion, their motive that why are they fighting etc.

Think as a resident of Middle East. Forget about religion, race, sex, age, disability, money, job etc. Who is currently de-stabilizing Middle East? USSR was not successful in Afghanistan alone and they ended up as Russia. How will some other super power will be successful then. How much money had been spend on War on Terror? How much money had been spend on creating jobs? How much effort had been done for remedy of Global Financial Crisis? These are indications that some super power will may probably end up worst than Russia…

It seems that, the super power has some different plans. First, Iraq then Afghanistan, now Yemen. Iran, Pakistan and Saudi-Arabia in queue. The rest of countries in gulf are so small that they can be defeated easily. We have seen last year Gulf Property downturn, which is enough proof that there is a some super power in this world for whom small richest country like UAE, Qatar, Kuwait etc are nothing. In broader term, it is a fight of religion against muslim nations.

There are lots of good movies to understand this Clash of Fundamentalism. “I am a Legend (Will Smith)” is an example of it. In this movie, there was a problem with humanity. People were killing people, even animals were killing humans. There was some one who gave Will Smith (Hero of movie) a vision, a cure of disease. That person died, even Will Smith was died in the movie, but solution of problem were transferred to good humans through which ultimately people moved back to peaceful world…

There are lots of songs to understand that war is not solution. James Blunt’s song “No Bravery” is an example of it.

Everything is there. All we need is to open our eyes and understand and respect humanity…

All the best.

Anakin November 22, 2010 9:22 PM

This repeats the fallacy that if only people weren’t poor — i.e., if only they were literate and Westernized and yada yada yada — they wouldn’t have any grievances against what is essentially world-government-in-the-making with its “right” to destroy/kill/occupy so that everyone toes the line.

moo November 22, 2010 10:30 PM


I agree. “If only we stopped antagonizing them, they would leave us alone” is a weak argument because it fails to account for human nature. Some humans are greedy, some humans are selfish, some humans covet power over others. I don’t have the solution, but I know that ignoring existing threats is not the solution.

Also, I find it suspiciously close to the argument “If only we gave them what they want, they would leave us alone”. But changing our behaviour in response to anything terrorists do, gives them power over us. The only correct response to terrorism is to put police and investigative resources on their trail and then basically ignore them and get on with our lives. I still think assassinating them is a good idea too, when the opportunities arise, but maybe thats just the vengeful side of me speaking.

Anyway, the hysteria over terrorism in the past 10 years is really ridiculous. Even if 9/11 affected people they know, I think most ordinary citizens would just like to leave it in the past get on with their lives. But the media and politicians have capitalized on this issue over the last 10 years to really make people afraid of what is, in reality, a pretty minor problem. (Far more people per year die from diabetes or breast cancer or stroke or car accidents or that sort of thing, than from terrorist incidents). They know that by pushing people’s “fear” button, they can get more power and pork for themselves, and thats exactly what they’ve done.

It seems that Americans have become such a fearful bunch of sheep that they willingly accept the loss of their civil liberties, in exchange for some illusion of increased safety. And even if the increase was real, I think the price those citizens paid for it was too damn high, and I hope they realize that soon and take back what is rightfully theirs, or they are going to wake up one day and realize their entire country has turned into a police state.

I remember when “Papers please” was a phrase frequently recited in the west to mock the regimes of East Germany and Russia/the USSR. But now all U.S. citizens within a hundred miles of the border with Mexico can get stopped and searched, and of course we have the increasingly ridiculous and increasingly offensive airport scanning procedures. Its really disgusting, and we are starting to have to deal with it up in Canada too because, as usual, American nonsense/bullshit rubs off on Canadian politicians. If America didn’t have such a big influence on the rest of the world, we’d be happy to watch you self-destruct and have nothing to do with it. But your stupid policies eventually become our stupid policies. So please stop permitting this tyranny of stupid policies.

If America really is the “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave” then its people had better wake up soon and start standing up for their freedom. Because that freedom is what once defined the U.S. and made it such a great country.

tensor November 23, 2010 12:10 AM

Terrorism has always been a tactic against civilians, and it fails if the civilian population refuses to yield. Corollary to this is the primacy of police work against terrorism. (A major exception to this was state-sponsored terrorism on a large scale, e.g. “Bomber” Harris and his counter-productive policy of killing German civilians; the Japanese Army’s equally-futile attempt to terrorize the Chinese into submission. In those cases, only disabling or eliminating the offending government could stop the terror.) Since we Americans refused to hold the Bush Administration responsible for their failure to prevent 9/11 via better civilian police work, we’ve had a near-decade of failed military attempts to stop terrorism. Al-Qaeda, KBR Halliburton, and Blackwater/Xe have been the only beneficiaries.

M N Khurshid November 23, 2010 1:55 AM

It is not USA behind invasion in Mid East countries, instead it is ideology of Jews.

Because of Einstein influence, I have a question. Why Jews want control of Mid East?

My research told me that the religious place of worship of Jews was destroyed during Muslim Caliph Umar tenure, he was General of Muslims of Arab world.

There is a strong probability that jews want to take revenge from muslims.

There is absolutely no doubt about jews influence in USA.

I wish things will be better in future and everything will be ended up in peace.

RonK November 23, 2010 2:10 AM

@ M N Khurshid : … Why Jews want control of Mid East? …

I think the fact that you seem to have a highly distorted grasp of history compared with the accepted Western view is showcasing one of the (many, complicated) problems. Were you educated in an Islamic country, by any chance?

Davi Ottenheimer November 23, 2010 2:19 AM

@ M N Khurshid

In your first post you tell us “The important thing is not to stop questioning…”

Then you follow-up with “There is absolutely no doubt…”

Logic failure.

Listen to your own advice. You stopped questioning too soon.

M N Khurshid November 23, 2010 2:57 AM

@RonK: I do not follow any religion although I respect religions and its followers in some ways. I was educated in Islamic and Christian Countries.

@Davi: I used the words “There is absolutely no doubt…” because it is a well known fact. I recommend you to do some research about member of US congress and top business officials, you will know the answer.

Adam November 23, 2010 5:11 AM

@lewis, the British talk sense because they’ve been there before. In Northern Ireland they were dealing with a relatively small region with English speaking christians and they still couldn’t prevent terrorist attacks (of either camps). Every now and again they might score a victory, shoot a few bad guys, but then they’d spring up elsewhere.

As it turns out, the best way to eliminate terrorism is take away their support base and take away their grievances which make them want to attack you in the first place. That doesn’t mean capitulating in any substantial point, but it does mean trying to engage in dialogue rather than trading bullets.

Britain learned this and perhaps the US needs to as well.

Ian November 23, 2010 5:19 AM

“the fact that you seem to have a highly distorted grasp of history compared with the accepted Western view”

That’s a real tangle. I’m guessing you meant “you have a distorted view of history compared to the view accepted in the West”. A small wording change, but some important distinctions, unless you really believe the “Western view” is The Truth.

bob November 23, 2010 5:30 AM

@altjira: common sense was originally a pejorative term referring to the sense of the common people, ie, uneducated and superstitious. Although the term is rarely used in that sense deliberately, as far as I can see it’s still a pretty good definition.

Bill November 23, 2010 7:29 AM

‘it was not possible to defeat the Taliban or al-Qaeda militarily.’

Equally the Taliban nor al-Qaeda can defeat the US and allies militarily.

The point lacks balance without articulating this too.

David Thornley November 23, 2010 9:06 AM

@Bill: Asymmetric warfare stems from asymmetric goals. The US is trying to impose its will on the Middle East and other areas, and many of the natives are resisting. It isn’t necessary to defeat the US militarily to get the US out of Afghanistan, say, and that’s what the insurgents want (at least at first).

SexyCat November 23, 2010 10:15 AM

Nothing new here. Nation building. Nation building. Nation building. Was there ever another goal?

As for people making this into some kind of launching point for their own political biases… this just confuses the issues.

There is no “war”, it is a policing action. Afghanis need to learn how to fish [not given fish] and work a nation so they won’t host crazies that launch attacks on other nations.

One is either:
1. for a more stable afghanistan
2. against it
3. they don’t really care and just want to hit out against their own imaginary political enemies locally

Technocrat November 23, 2010 10:45 AM

As General Richards correctly pointed out, “I don’t think you can probably defeat an idea, it’s something we need to battle back against.” But in many ways it is not the al-Qaeda ideology that should concern us, but rather what the shape of future terrorism is increasingly looking like.


None of this is to shout wolf and cause mass alarm about a threat that cannot be eradicated, but it is important to recognize that terrorism as a problem is unlikely to go away permanently, and the focus should be on increasing our resilience when the problem strikes us in whatever form it should take. The potential overreaction to an attack by a loner from any faith who kills hundreds of people in a major city is going to be same no matter what his religious orientation.

The real point that General Richards should be advancing is not that we should resign ourselves to the fact that we are not going to be able to defeat al-Qaeda, but rather that terrorism is not something that can be defeated globally with some military deployment. A conclusion that will become increasingly accurate as we face an ever more disaggregated threat.

Davi Ottenheimer November 23, 2010 1:47 PM

@ M N Khurshid

Hmm, I think you are missing your own point.

Even if I agree with your substitution you still make a logical error:

In your first post you tell us “The important thing is not to stop questioning…”

Then you follow-up in your last post with “‘There is absolutely no doubt…’ because it is a well known fact”

Logic failure.

Listen to your own advice. You stopped questioning too soon.

Dave Walker November 23, 2010 2:14 PM

Gen Richards is most definitely talking sense, here.

“Defeating al Quaeda” can be likened to “defeating McDonald’s”, except any organisation which wishes to draw attention to itself by adopting the a-Q brand, doesn’t need to talk to Osama and his pals to buy a franchise and attend training.

Parallels can be drawn, to some degree, with the British experience with the IRA; while the original IRA had a loosely-coupled cell structure which could function as a chain of command as needed, we still have the “Real IRA” and “Continuity IRA” which, while they might have formed under the auspices of the original IRA, became separate organisations divorced from the original.

Any organisation wishing to apply terrorist methods to its grievances with the world, can now get more media recognition by calling itself a-Q. I reckon this is the most meaningful reason, why “a-Q” can’t be defeated.

John Campbell November 23, 2010 3:52 PM

“Violence is the last resort of the incompetent” – Salvor Hardin, Mayor of Terminus.

Sometimes an earnest of intent is important, especially when dealing with human beings, and, sadly, violence should be offered earlier on while still strong enough to apply it.

Sadly, I suspect the only way to permanently defeat Al Qaeda as a memetic threat may require their receiving a Pyrrhic Victory… by exterminating every life on this planet.

Yes, hearts and minds are important, and, as mention in Drake’s “Cross the Stars”, military force can only kill, not convince, and, until the concept of settling for half a loaf is accepted by all we will see more and more splintering and balkanization.

Brandioch Conner November 23, 2010 4:02 PM

Instead of focusing on a re-construction of the corrupt central government, they should be focusing on the villages and cities at the edges of the country.

Build those into successful, independent entities and work towards the center.

HJohn November 23, 2010 4:33 PM

@Rogers at November 23, 2010 4:27 PM

Thanks. No one here would have checked out that site if you wouldn’t have linked to it.


Clive Robinson November 23, 2010 4:37 PM

@ Brandioch Conner,

“Instead of focusing on a re-construction of the corrupt central government, they should be focusing on the villages and cities at the edges of the country”

Saddly that model has the very significant danger of making more “war lords” not less and encoraging cross boarder factions to build up.

It is knowledge of this that Cecil Rhodes used to exploit Africa by setting country boarders through tribal areas. Thus splitting a tribe aproximatly one third in one country two thirds in another.

The next trick the “White Man” (see poem by Kippling) played was to put the smallest tribal faction in any given country in power, and thus very dependent on the “White Man”.

Eventually this all unravels often with devistating consiquences (Rwanda for instance).

kangaroo November 24, 2010 8:57 AM

What victories have their actually been against insurgencies? When have the underlying grievances actually been fixed?

From a US point of view, the few successes have been through massive violent overkill — North America and the Philipines.

You don’t succeed by “nation building” — but by destroying the nation. I always hope that our military men will make sense — but these statements are just stupid and ahistorical.

And even that is rarely a success in the long-term — for a long-term success you have to so thoroughly eliminate the opposing nation that you can recolonize the region. Otherwise a new nation is likely to develop (see Africa for a number of such cases). Even that rarely works in the long term — see the Western Hemisphere’s wars of liberation.

Really, what the fuck is the point? You either need to have some clear target resource your stealing, some competitor that you want to temporarily knock out, or you should fucking stay home.

BF Skinner November 24, 2010 12:56 PM

@kangaroo — “North America and the Philipines”

North America wasn’t so much an insurgency but I take your point it was the sucess there that directly led to Roosevelt’s tangling in Philippines.

But I’d say you can argue that a hundred years on there’s STILL an insurgency in PI.

Unless your measure of effectiveness is “we knocked out the gang that wouldn’t do what we said. Put in a friendlier group and taught them how to keep a lid on their insurgents. They stand up and we stand down.

M N Khurshid November 25, 2010 5:07 AM

First of why, I want to point my finger on Schneier’s attempt to remove my comments without my permission. Schneier is running a public website for discussion of security problems and solutions, so he should listen to it as a neutral person. He should not be under influence of anybody. To be honest, I lost my trust on him and his website. BTW, I like the BBC’s news released just hours after Schneier removed my message, which confirmed influence of some one on some congress…

All the best.

I am off, I wont comment any further on this website. I will keep an eye on it in some way.

Pete November 25, 2010 5:53 AM

“There are lots of songs to understand that war is not solution. James Blunt’s song “No Bravery” is an example of it.”

Strange, because I always thought of James Blunt’s songs as one of those rare things that probably could be solved by violence.


Cassandra November 25, 2010 7:10 AM


You might want to look at the history of the First and Second Malayan Emergencies. Effectively, a single counter-insurgency operation (with an hiatus of 8 years) from 1948-1989.

Pete November 26, 2010 5:39 AM

“You might want to look at the history of the First and Second Malayan Emergencies. Effectively, a single counter-insurgency operation (with an hiatus of 8 years) from 1948-1989.”

The moral being, presumably, if you’re going to run a counter-insurgency, run it on a peninsular.

foo November 29, 2010 1:35 PM

It would be much better to give away US$ 1 trillion to improve the quality of life in the Muslim world than spending the same amount of money in war.

For one thing, a kind gesture is much more effective to prevent hatred than bombs.

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