mcb December 28, 2010 3:16 PM

I haven’t read any of the five either. Scheuer’s Imperial Hubris is certainly a thought-provoking read, so is Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, but there are no end of PhDs writing on this stuff. Habeck’s list is interesting because it’s short and appears to be balanced.

RSX December 28, 2010 8:06 PM

That article is just rife with trollbait.

I will ask one thing. Is there a degree that makes them “An expert in terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, strategic and security issues and American defence (Spelling incorrect..) policy.”?
With all of those credentials and specialties, she must have more then a PHD in History. Oh wait, no, she doesn’t’. Truth be told though, she probably has more experience in the field then 99% of the TSA.
Her reviews are full of grammatical errors and it just reeks of shilling attempt. Hell, the bold introduction at the top is a run-on sentence and doesn’t even have a period on the end, am I supposed to take this seriously?

Clive Robinson December 28, 2010 11:28 PM

@ RSX,

“Her reviews are full of grammatical errors and i just reeks of shilling attempt. Hell, the bold just reeks of shilling attempt. Hell, the bold introduction at the top is a run-on sentence and doesn’t even have a period on the end, am I supposed to take this seriously? supposed to take this seriously”

When you say “her” do you mean Prof Mary Habeck or the person who is attributed with writing the page (Bruce links to), Anna Blundy?

By the way “defence” is a correct spelling in Canada and the UK. UK/US spelling involving c/s/z/ in word endings is a well known issue. Even Bruce has been accused of it in the past when he has posted articals he wrote for the Guardian newspaper (in the UK).

BTW From TheBrowser site “team” page ‘Anna Blundy’ is given as ‘Editor Five Books UK’.

Clive Robinson December 29, 2010 12:44 AM

Having looked at Mary Habeck’s list it is noticeable that most of the books do not deal with “money issues”.

As has been pointed out in the past with investment advice if you realy want to understand an organisation see where the money flows.

Also, I have a disagreement with attribution of cause which she presents,

“Surveys in Europe have shown that the people most likely to be radicalised are those with no religious training or background, because they have no inoculation against the arguments”.

When talking about “The Great Theft” book.

This is an issue that has arisen in the UK on a number of occasions in the past. You first have to split the “people likely to be radicalised” into a number of quite seperate groups. I won’t go into all of them but the distinctions are loosely based on a structure of the following,

1, Where were they brought up?
2, Have they been to Pakistan or other Muslim country for “faith training”?
3, Are they disenfranchised with their community?
4, Are they second or more generation British?
5, What is their base personality type?

And if you analyse it it is more to do with the “moral compass” the individual has.

For instance Arab visiting students comming from families with a strong patriarchal control do not have a developed “moral compass” in their own right and are thus attracted to those who give them a replacment for the “comfort of the patriarchal family figure head”.

Third and more generation British citizens develop a moral compass as individuals but often get entraped by the loadstone of the “Roots complex”. That is they have a view of the culture from which their great grandparents etc came from which is not actually in contact with the reality of the people currently living in the “ancestral homeland” these days. This enables their moral compass to all to easily be easily re-directed.

And it is to this latter group her comments about surveys apply to.

In the UK news of recent times is a person from this group who was calling for people to be killed for blasphemy. However their morals were such that they found no contradiction in being a major drug dealer…

Similar findings occur when considering persons that have been involved with disfigurement and even murder of women within their family for not entering arranged marriages etc.

It is a moral issue within a cultral community that allows abuse of power and position and not realy one of religion. We see it in one form or another with many cultures and religions (think Irish communities in the US for funding IRA and also turning a blind eye on the sexual predation of minors in their community by priests etc).

Blaiming “faith” or a lack thereof is an easy political view point and one that unfortunatly is encoraged by society not clearly seperating societal morals from faith mantra.

One reason for this is that “politics comes from religion”. If you consider the “King Game” their claim to power is by “Divine Right” that is they are “appointed by god” and thus nothing they do can be called into question. However to maintain their position a monarch in the past has had to use “the church” to spread an image of themselves, as the priests where the “moral compass” of communities with little communication with the outside world.

Thus a person with political ambition in the past had two routes to go by, firstly raise an army and overthrow the monarch or rise up through the ranks of the church and be the monarchs advisor. This naked ambition and political jockeying for position could be seen with a number of Arch Bishops of Cantabury and the reason why Henry VIII split away from the “Holy Roman Church” and why various “Popish Plots” have resulted in laws that prevent the UK monarch from marrying a Catholic. Oh and various Bishops sitting in the House of Lords.

GreenSquirrel December 29, 2010 2:29 AM

@Clive – I had assumed RSX was talking about the book by “Anonymous” – Terrorist Hunter. The Amazon page for it fits RSX’s description.


However, now I have re-read it I’ve realised I was wrong.

@RSX – its a book review based on an interview. They nearly always look like shilling attempts but in this case none of them are Haybeck’s books.

Am I still missing something?

Davi Ottenheimer December 29, 2010 2:32 AM

“He talks about the difference between religious and political terrorism and says that religious terrorism is far more dangerous and the terrorists are more likely to use extreme violence because there are not as many curbs on what they can do if God has commanded it.”

Oh, yeah, everyone knows that atheists are more restrained in what they can do because they have no God. I realize she’s just paraphrasing Hoffman, but her take-away makes no sense.

She misses the entire point of Hoffman’s definition of terrorism, if you ask me, and as you can read for yourself here:

Terrorists refuse to adhere to international rules of conduct. They earn an association with the term “terror”, rather than terms like “bomb” or “military”, because they ignore rules that govern use of a bomb by a military.

Saying religious terrorists are more dangerous than political terrorists by definition is like saying chocolate is more ice-creamy than vanilla. Terrorists are more dangerous because they ignore rules others believe should control, or at least predict, behavior. Religion thus can make things either worse, or better, depending on what is meant by religon.

Dean Procter December 29, 2010 3:06 AM

Bruce, whilst not on the subject books because frankly I’m too busy observing the world around me to have time to read a book, it is about terrorism, or terror at least. I don’t know exactly who is the terrorist but I find the outcome pretty terrifying and I’m not a terrorist. What do you make of this? Guard towers at the mall…

Richard Steven Hack December 29, 2010 5:40 AM

The Kilcullen book is reviewed and it is suggested that COIN takes 8-10 years and therefore the US should remain in iraq through 2013, not to mention Afghanistan which presumably we should continue to occupy until hell freezes over.

What neither Kilcullen, Petraeus (who plagiarized part of his COIN manual which was mostly written by someone else anyway) acknowledge is what most military experts have known for decades.

That is that COIN is IMPOSSIBLE conducted by a foreign occupying power. COIN can ONLY be conducted by an indigenous government whose troops are embedded in the population, speak the population’s language, understand the society involved in intimate detail, and said government must have some credibility with the local population.

NONE of those conditions exists with the US presence in Afghanistan. It is utterly impossible for the US to “defeat” the Taliban in any significant way short of nuking most of the Pastun population in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And now the US wants to put ground troops in Pakistan, which is totally insane. That the notion is even being considered is a clear demonstration that Obama is completely controlled by the military-industrial complex (represented in his case by the Crown and Pritzker families) whose only interest is the profits that a major expanded war in the region would generate. The fact that introducing significant numbers of US troops into Pakistan would further radicalize the country and thus threaten the stability of the government, or even eventually sour relations between the US and Pakistan to the point of war with a nation of 175 million people, is apparently of no interest to Obama and his “COINdinistas”.

Vadim Lebedev December 29, 2010 6:55 AM

Very curious thought occured to me:
Obama promised us more transparency and in a sense he kept his word: With these scanners in airports — we’re now totally transparent 🙂

bob (the original bob) December 29, 2010 8:32 AM

I think what the article is trying to put forth concerning the danger level of religious extremists is that someone who is convinced that if he dies he will personally and immediately be much better off than if he does not die, is a very difficult person to dissuade, because most people, perceiving death as undesirable, will not SERIOUSLY risk their lives for the cause without a serious gain. And by “risk” I’m talking >90% likely to die within the next hour as a direct result of action taken (as opposed to smoking, eating fast food or not wearing seatbelts which you can get away with for decades – you can even get medical insurance to cover the consequences). And “gain” would include the wounded soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save his buddies; he would see their survival as a worthwhile gain for the cost of his life.

I see this as similar to the reputed fanatacism of Japanese troops in WWII who had been brought up to believe that surrendering brought massive dishonor to you and your family and made you sub-human. Consequently they thought nothing of abusing and torturing our soldiers who surrendered and themselves fought to the death long after the outcome was no longer in question or committed suicide to avoid it.

I suspect that the average soldier of the day (ours, I mean); given a choice with all else being equal, between fighting a German soldier vs a Japanese soldier in 1945 would prefer the German because they were far more likely to surrender once they ran out of food and ammo.

Zorg December 29, 2010 8:42 AM

@bob (the original bob)

I don’t like warriors. Too narrow-minded, no subtlety. And worse, they fight for hopeless causes.

Honor? Huh! Honor’s killed millions of people, it hasn’t saved a single one.

I’ll tell you what I do like though: a killer, a dyed-in-the-wool killer. Cold blooded, clean, methodical and thorough. Now a real killer, when he picked up the ZF-1, would’ve immediately asked about the little red button on the bottom of the gun.

Brandioch Conner December 29, 2010 9:55 AM

@Richard Steven Hack
“COIN can ONLY be conducted by an indigenous government whose troops are embedded in the population, speak the population’s language, understand the society involved in intimate detail, and said government must have some credibility with the local population.”

Similar to that, I question the expertise of “experts” who do not speak the language and have not spent any time over there.

Davi Ottenheimer December 29, 2010 10:54 AM

@ bob

fair point. but the appeal of death is certainly not exclusive to those who are religious. a group that signs up recruits for terrorism is obvz selling them on death, religion or not.

american understanding of the japanese shifted tremendously after WWII. the link to honor and family that you bring up was not well understood until much later. even president truman described them as “savages, ruthless, merciless, and fanatic”. that’s a big diff than today’s view of them as loyal men full of pride for family honor — either way, it’s not what we consider religious extremism. (see Dower’s “War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War”)

likewise, the latest int’l conflict data shows al qaeda finding a harder time to recruit as osama is seen as a dead-end path. it has been shown that some of those raised with strong religious views are less likely to be recruited because they are less bamboozled by an extremist sales pitch. thus, it’s not their religion, but more to do with the ability to reason and fit in.

Big George December 29, 2010 11:30 AM

Terrorists are easy to identify, they’re the “other guy”, the loser or smaller of the combatants. Might makes right. The winner gets to write history.

Big George December 29, 2010 11:42 AM

I’ll tell you what I do like though: a killer, a dyed-in-the-wool killer. Cold blooded, clean, methodical and thorough. Now a real killer, when he picked up the ZF-1, would’ve immediately asked about the little red button on the bottom of the gun.

“yeah, we call it human nature”

Dirk Praet December 29, 2010 4:33 PM

History is paved with of examples of how religion has been used and abused for worldly causes and objectives, most of the time by unscrupulous “middle management” allowing ideologists to spread their word through organisation and indoctrination. For many, it has been and still is the grease upon which they slide into power and wealth. A means to an end, and a justification by the divine.

Just like the rise of marxism among oppressed and disenfranchised populations in Central and South America in the seventies and eighties, one can argue that the rise of fundamentalist islam in some parts of the world was inevitable and at some point would find followers among muslim migrants and their offspring accross the globe. As to its root causes, I’ll leave that to independent scholars and historians with a more in-depth knowledge of the subject matter than my own. I am however convinced that massive failure of US foreign policy – overly influenced by neo-conservative thinktanks – and in particular towards muslim societies over the last decades is one of the major contributing factors.

However small in numbers, and irrespective of them belonging to a centrally lead organisation or smaller local networks, society today faces the phenomenon of assymetric warfare by deluded suicide bombers. It’s a challenge that will require resilience and determination to overcome. What we need are imaginative and innovative strategies in the face of an enemy that cares as little about his own life as that of other people. In a democracy, that’s what we elect representatives and leaders for. Not to come up with resource-intensive but inadequate countermeasures that invade on privacy and civil liberties.

Davi Ottenheimer December 29, 2010 4:52 PM

@ Dirk Praet

exactly. well said. i would only say the notion of assymetric warfare is as old as warfare itself.

some examples i’ve used in my recent presentations are crossbows (enabled small groups of peasants to defeat trained knights) and when the spanish american war. the us was still stuck on civil war methods and lost many lives in urban skirmishes

Dirk Praet December 29, 2010 5:38 PM

@ Davi

My favourite still remains the battle of the Golden Spurs in Flanders in 1302. Unfortunately, the French came back a couple of years later and kicked our *sses. Still, to date, most Frenchmen will deny this battle ever took place 😎

Doug Coulter December 29, 2010 7:36 PM

Beg to disagree. Without honor, there’s not much else, no trust, no security. Of course, the definition of honor has been skewed to serve various unworthy interests, but “I know it when I see it” and it’s not worthless.

Living a life without any, that’s worthless.

Noz December 30, 2010 3:16 AM

While you’re at it, read SYNTHETIC TERROR…

This shit is all made up…it’s almost always false flag patsy scapegoated operations.

Dirk Praet December 31, 2010 4:44 AM

@ Pialotoof

Although my Italian is a bit rusty, I am somewhat puzzled how an infomercial about hair extensions is contributing to the discussion ?

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