ISIS Threatens US with Terrorism

They're openly mocking our profiling.

But in several telephone conversations with a Reuters reporter over the past few months, Islamic State fighters had indicated that their leader, Iraqi Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had several surprises in store for the West.

They hinted that attacks on American interests or even U.S. soil were possible through sleeper cells in Europe and the United States.

"The West are idiots and fools. They think we are waiting for them to give us visas to go and attack them or that we will attack with our beards or even Islamic outfits," said one.

"They think they can distinguish us these days ­ they are fools and more than that they don't know we can play their game in intelligence. They infiltrated us with those who pretend to be Muslims and we have also penetrated them with those who look like them."

I am reminded of my debate on airport profiling with Sam Harris, particularly my initial response to his writings.

Posted on August 29, 2014 at 6:08 AM • 75 Comments

Comments

Another KevinAugust 29, 2014 6:55 AM

Al Qaeda, after seeing our autoimmune reaction, openly switched its strategy to, "we will destroy the Western nations by frightening them into destroying themselves," and openly mocked the amounts of money being spent on futile antiterrorism projects. This is more in the same vein: provoking an "Anyone could be a terrorist!" response so that we will plunge even deeper into the mentality of mistrust of our own. Who knows, maybe this time they can get us to starve ourselves by shutting down our transportation systems altogether, or destroy our civil government to protect it.

And we keep playing into the hands of the terrorists.

paldubeeAugust 29, 2014 7:44 AM

Another fear item that ties into this is that the media is showing Americans fighting for ISIS over there. The natural fear progression is to suppose that there could then be plenty of Americans here, ready to fight for ISIS.

I've also started to think that the two fights that have occurred recently on flights in the U.S. might have been staged to help learn more about responses on flights. In one incident, I heard that an air marshal broke up the fight.

JoeAugust 29, 2014 8:36 AM

Ultimately the best security will be created by not pissing off the entire world at all times. When we no longer have 1200 military bases in 150 countries, stop acting like the world's policeman, and stop destroying countries -- we might not have so many enemies.

G_W_HaydukeAugust 29, 2014 9:09 AM

IMO, "terrorism" has already won. The rights of the western world have been severely diminishing since 9/11. The US is involved in continual war meanwhile their own citizens in Detroit need jobs so severely that the majority of citizens have had their water shut off. In a free and sovereign nation, one should not have to wonder if they're being surveilled. Citizens should not be brutalized while addressing grievances. Corporations should have zero input in elections and governmental processes. Fascism does not work. Must we learn that the hard way again?

CzernoAugust 29, 2014 9:14 AM

@Joe : generally I avoid to express political feelings or beliefs on this blog, and I sure hope this risky subj isn't going to degenerate into sterile polemics pro- or contra-US and/or Muslims and/or Jews etc etc.

But I'll make an exception to my "no politics" rule just the time necessary to "+++" you about Alerica's - i.e. the US - inopportune to say the least politics of intervention everywhere they see fit, almost always making things worse after than before and often leaving nothing but fire and desolation behind them.

This IS se-cu-ri-ty, the World's ! after all

paulAugust 29, 2014 9:28 AM

These people are good at the media game. If this isn't pure disinformation (as most responses have suggested) it's information that can't actually be put to use.

vas pupAugust 29, 2014 9:28 AM

Joe • August 29, 2014 8:36 AM & G_W_Hayduke • August 29, 2014 9:09 AM.
You caught the trend. The foreign policy for many years is moving further and further out of the interests of the most of US population. It may serve interests of military-industrial complex, insane recent attempts of exporting democracy by military force or covert operations, taking role of world policeman having many unresolved problems inside the country. Until legislature and executive branches start working for the interests and prosperity of at least 70% of population (first of all stimulating innovation research/manufacturing inside the country as the basis for resolution of most of the problems: education, health care, reasonable security with privacy protection, ecology, demography, etc.) nothing changed. All DARPA good technologies should find short pass for utilization in civil sector (like Internet, GPS).

IgorAugust 29, 2014 9:50 AM

A bigger question imo, is how do we know that Isis isn't simply a CIA front which will primarily be put to use in false flag attacks, and hence further justification for further domestic and international oppression? At the moment, there are various hints, but afaik nothing concrete as yet. Although, I think it's safe to say that the so-called leader's name does begin to give it away somewhat.

Peter A.August 29, 2014 10:15 AM

The truth is that half of the world (my home country included) relies on the USA to be the policeman since the WWII if not earlier. So it tries to execute its appointed role - sometimes to ill effects, that's right.

HoratiusAugust 29, 2014 10:17 AM

@Another Kevin
the problem lies that while the assaults on our liberty post 9/11 are more memorable and well known about. this problem stems from about 100 years ago in the 1910s with world war one and related domestic policies, just about every conflict afterwards was used as a justification to layer on more such as the japanese internment, ECHELON, and dozens of other operations/laws/organizations that have been created for an illusion of security; while making us as a country no more safer than we were beforehand.

@czerno
i fear your hopes are for naught as the politics of this subject tends to be rather tightly intertwined with the materiel itself. the issue therein lies that by overextending our reach and meddling in others affairs, we enlarge the fighting force is against us exponentially by earning the ire of not only the remote populace that we are occupying but the domestic populace as well due to war fatigue and the aforementioned erosion of rights/freedoms. merely deploying FOBs everywhere will not win against an insurgent force, our current "hearts and minds" (sic) policy can use a fair bit of reworking so that it instead of merely pacifying said populaces but getting them on our side.

Our current Machiavellian stance is not only making any attempt to neutralize security threats both foreign and domestic moot, said stance is radicalizing all concerned parties as potential enemies as has been exhibited with IS, US militia movements, privacy activism groups, and the current shift of public opinion in the western world on the US's credibility and trustworthiness.

@paul
PSYWAR in the global theater goes both ways. it probably doesnt help that we have been using similar tactics in said region for close to 40 years now, im surprised that they're just now catching up in that department.

FunngamesAugust 29, 2014 10:46 AM

Of course they're dripping with sarcastic contempt. Foreign cutouts routinely make fools of the domestic "security" agencies cruelly called white man's welfare by the professional knuckle-draggers of the NCS. There were about six Mohamed Attas and four of them drank like fish and weren't scared of girls, and two or three of them had a regulation בְּרִית.

StukeAugust 29, 2014 11:05 AM

I thought today was squid day, so you may have to forgive me for going off-topic.

Awhile back, airport security was a heavy topic. I don't think Bruce posted this, but a Russian researcher and Aeroflot airlines have developed what may be a great tool for airport security - without concern for radiation, cost and intrusion of privacy; except the occasional cold-nose-in-the-groin.

Genome research on dog breeds a few years ago concluded that domestic dogs contained genetic information only from wolves. i.e. No dog breeds are related to coyotes, jackals, hyenas, dingos, or foxes.

Russian researcher Sulimov recognized that jackals have a far better sense of smell than ANY canine, so he set out to breed jackals and dogs into a hybrid. Sponsored by Aeroflot, Sulimov now has a working dog breed that can sniff out explosives undetectable by any domestic breed. In fact, a "Jasky" was able to sniff out two men without guns or ammo simply because they went hunting the day before. (False alarms may be their biggest problem.)

http://rt.com/news/security-bomb-dogs-sniff-433/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/1416227/Russians-breed-superdog-with-a-jackals-nose-for-bombs-and-drugs.html

rs

Nick PAugust 29, 2014 11:43 AM

I can't trust anything U.S. media says about ISIS because they were caught lying (or ignorant) repeatedly about many other Middle Eastern issues. For instance, they tried to push in the media that Osama Bin Laden just attacked us out of nowhere because he was a religious fanatic and people over there "hate our freedom." I kept reminding people that he said in 1998 that we murdered hundreds of thousands of kids with sanctions, kept doing covert military activities against his organization, paid for Israeli bombs that hit Muslims, and a number of other aggressive policies of ours. He warned if we didn't stop they'd take action. 9/11 took a full three years to materialize, suggesting he was trying to avoid it. Our response? More of everything on his list plus two military invasions.

So, declassified documents show CIA largely created OBL/Taliban's military capabilities, Reagan/BushSr financed Sadam's "Worse than Hitler" Hussein's army for war against Iran, had previously put dictatorship in Iran for oil deals that led to Khomeni revolution, and so on. I see a continuous pattern of U.S. doing evil stuff, locals reacting, U.S. trying to force control on the situation, and then our media/government spinning it into something that covers up the evil stuff. They've done this relentlessly, tainting any claim they make. All claims they make about Middle Eastern issues should be considered lies until vetted by more trustworthy parties, preferrably in several different countries with different alliegances.

Hence, if I was looking into ISIS situation, I wouldn't accept any claim the US government makes on ISIS's intent, background, etc. I'd do a lot of research from more reliable sources in the area going back years. Then, I'd try to piece together who's involved, what they're doing, and why. And if it matched U.S. govt's claims I'd be pleasantly surprised to see a rare research result. Of course, I have more local issues to worry about, like a police state in the making. Don't really have time to study the ISIS situation except to state the obvious in this post.

Nick PAugust 29, 2014 11:48 AM

@ Stuke

It's interesting new tool, but the problem is U.S.'s approach is fundamentally wrong. Best way to handle a risk is look for what mitigation approach works and put that into use. The Israeli model has enormous success despite their risk being sky high. We should just copy that instead. And if they want a dog for people they investigate thoroughly, the new breed might help. If not, Israeli's did fine without the new animal and we might too.

NovaAugust 29, 2014 12:00 PM

@Joe

You are correct, sir. But I do not see that happening without a seismic event. The US is protecting their own interests so this can be justified economically, if not morally.

The message from the Obama presidency is loud and clear: Change is not happening. No matter what anyone says, no matter how loudly.

@G W Hayduke

"IMO, "terrorism" has already won. The rights of the western world have been severely diminishing since 9/11." A message which should be loudly said. They may not have won, but a lot of people believing they are working very hard against terrorists are actually clearly working very hard *for* them.


@Igor (paraphrasing) 'How do we know that ISIS is not a CIA front' I could see maybe the CIA having had some funds to Syrian rebels reach them. But you seem to be arguing that maybe the CIA is effectively controlling ISIS. Care to explain?


On the ISIS threats, topic:


This is their word. They are saying they will do this. To not go in there is a vital mistake. I am sensing Obama will not go in there. This is a very bad mistake. The problem is only going to get worse.

Very good article on ISIS:
https://medium.com/matter/isis-as-start-up-explosive-growth-highly-disruptive-super-evil-4c7f7d3d99e5

If they attack the US, then the US authorities will look like they are absolutely incompetent fools. Because ISIS warned them they would attack.

The idea that the attack must come from someone who went there to serve with ISIS, I find foolish. ISIS is very online and probably has been recruiting and keeping some members (if not a lot) covert.

They are saying they are doing this.

If it means defunding all these atrocious 'spy on american' programs, they should, if they can get ISIS now before the whole middle east is blown up. Before they do something major in the US, Europe, or Israel. Which they will, because they need recruits and more funding and that is how to get it -- in their minds.


vas pupAugust 29, 2014 12:10 PM

@Stuke • August 29, 2014 11:05 AM.
Why not cooperate with Russians and create breeding facility within US under TSA?
Did Russians refuse recently in any case to cooperate with US/assist US on war on real terror (i.e. direct threats to US)? Yes, each country has own agenda, but cooperation force communication on regular bases, as result, less surprises/crises.
And finally, looks like cost-benefit analysis should be conducted before any covert actions to destabilize any authoritarian regime around the world. I am strongly stick to the idea that authoritarian regime friendly to US is better than democratically elected regime hostile to US or chaos - but that is just my own point of view. You could see confirmation examples around the world.

WinterAugust 29, 2014 12:17 PM

I find the ideology, and even more the pracsis, of IS eerily close to classical Nazi ideology and pracsis.

Even their 1000 year empire and anti semitism look the same.

NovaAugust 29, 2014 12:23 PM

@Nick P

So Al Qaeda was saying they would make such an attack, and did. And it was ignored. Now ISIS is saying they would make such an attack, and they will. And it is being ignored.

It was win-win for the security establishment then, and it is win-win for the security establishment today.

Shoot -- think of all those guys in the security establishment, like the Ferguson cops. Beaten down, laughed at, but with such uniforms and guns. They would love to live in a post-apocalyptic america where people treat them like gods. Shooting the place up. Walking down the street while people shiver in fear at them. Having women throw themselves at them.

Lotsa guys like that in the security establishment. Came out of some war, now working some law enforcement or intel job... they want to be bigger then that.

I do not think they consciously plan things this way, but unconsciously, you betchas!

Cock SparrerAugust 29, 2014 12:23 PM

IS want just enough provocation to lure the West into their civil war but not so much that they end up annihilated. An attack on US or UK soil would guarantee their destruction so for now they will target embassies or other foreign American interests to gain more media attention, more 'legitimacy' in the eyes of other extremist groups and thus more recruits which is what they are really after. Every IS battle seems to end up with piles of dead jihadis they need a constant flow of new cannon fodder to wage their insurgency. Trolling the US into fighting them on their terms guarantees a lasting media presence.

SkepticalAugust 29, 2014 12:43 PM

@Nick: I agree completely with the need to avoid alarmist reactions to typical bluster. Some politicians, more than others, are prone to such reactions, and their words should be discounted accordingly.

But most of the information I've seen reported from ISIS isn't from US Government sources, but from journalists in the field, independent analysts, and governments immediately adjacent to ISIS. All sources must be discounted to an extent, obviously, and some more than others.

With regard to information from the US Government regarding AQ, don't confuse the soundbites from politicians, even elected ones, with the more detailed briefings they provided on its origins and likely strategic motivations. The US Government speaks with many voices to different audiences, and the carefully crafted political soundbite in a speech should not be taken at the same level as a briefing provided by policy-makers, or a declassified intelligence report.

US concern about ISIS actually began prior to some of their more surprising gains in Iraq, and is linked to reports of contacts between ISIS and AQAP. The latter has fairly sophisticated organizational knowledge of explosive devices, and the former has lots of foreign fighters from the West. It's a problematic combination, worthy of attention.

Frankly, when I read Gellman et al's story about surveillance of communications between a foreign fighter from Australia and his wife, the above is one of the things that came to mind. Those who travel from Western countries to fight for terrorist groups have been, and will continue to be, of intense interest to intelligence agencies, and they should be.

Obviously, ISIS blusters quite a bit. They need to swagger in order to recruit, and in order to prevent defections. Their draw to those who travel to fight with them, and their draw to those who may wish to fight with them and not travel far at all, is the sense they offer of power. That sense is, for such people, enhanced by swaggering rhetoric. This is more of the same.

Nick PAugust 29, 2014 2:29 PM

@ Skeptical

I appreciate the reply and points. If the information is collected that way, then it's reliability might be higher. And I agree that they present information to different parties in different ways. The problem I have is they often present disinformation to the public in a way where the public supports things they otherwise wouldn't. Changing audiences shouldn't change the facts of the case, except perhaps certain higher clearance level data being removed. Hence, I'm always cautious with governments that do that. (Most of them lol...)

@ Nova

"So Al Qaeda was saying they would make such an attack, and did. And it was ignored. Now ISIS is saying they would make such an attack, and they will. And it is being ignored."

That's what the media will say. The problem is they don't mention that conventional forces don't eliminate insurgencies: they just eliminate specific targets while inspiring new ones to take up arms. The proper way to deal with insurgencies was demonstrated by Green Beret's in Vietnam (recently Afghanistan). They win over hearts/minds, help communities with food/medicine, teach them to protect themselves, teach them to organize with other communities for defence, teach them the insurgents just get more people killed on both sides, and give them a way to inform on risky persons. The result in Vietnam great success with low Viet Cong rate in those areas. While they were funding this instead of conventional military action. It took no time at all after the shift of priorities for the Viet Cong to make a come back and dominate that area.

The ISIS situation, as I haven't researched, sounds a bit different. It might be a result of our activities over there, where similarly prevention for future insurgency would be to stop such activities. It might also just be a group that's coming after us with no good reason (far as we're concerned). If so, we need to deal with them and that's gotta be done carefully so it doesn't just increase support for such groups. We might focus spec ops and intelligence units on them to weaken/disperse/track them. Meanwhile, we need to implement better counterinsurgency efforts over there, stop the activities in the Middle East that are generating lots of blowback, and focus on building up factions that see us positively in a Muslim rather than secular way. Such a strategy might be sustainable way to reduce risk of terrorism.

NovaAugust 29, 2014 2:47 PM

@Cock Sparrer

'An attack on US or UK soil would guarantee their destruction'


If they are thinking rationally according to western mindsets of what might be rational. But, as they are out there risking their lives for a far flung, bizarre cause in the first place it can be stated they may not be thinking all that rationally in the first place.

(Rationally, sure, they are getting to fire guns, act as lords and gods, play the role of Muslim Savior... so maybe it is all to simply be analyzed as if they were bank robbers going for the cash.)

Bob FryAugust 29, 2014 3:13 PM

Our own "security" agencies need a steady river of these threats to justify their budgets and policies. It's a win-win for the alphabet agencies and the bearded ones. Only the American taxpayer and naive enlisted lose.

NovaAugust 29, 2014 3:23 PM

@Nick

I think you should dig deeper into ISIS. Check out that page I sent, for one. If you are concerned about tracking, note that is a major journal. Feel free to browse to the main site and search for the article. It is a left leaning site.

On ISIS, I will be blunt, and quick, without backing anything up: Obama's best move is to move conventional forces in there now. I do not think he will do this. He might. There are many strong political factors here working against him doing this. It is political, and it is putting politics before what is right.

If he puts in enough conventional forces he can mop them up. If he puts in too few, it could be a disaster. There are no unconventional solutions to this problem.

US conventional forces are able to handle unconventional fighters these days, and they did a very good job of this in Iraq.

There are too many fighters for any sort of special forces solution.

I do believe that having troops in foreign countries is not what any country wants to do. And it is usually not what host countries want. Definitely not what their people want. In this case, I believe it is what they want.

The problem is: dropping back in the number of troops required to solve the problem is too much commitment for Obama and the Democratic Party to handle. [Not biased, it would be the same situation if they were Republican and came in on an anti-war platform.]

On the media: I do not see the media as one, but do accept that generalization at times. I actually think a lot of media would argue that ISIS can be blown off. Most people here are arguing that, and Obama and the Obama Administration is also effectively stating this (as they won't send troops there).

In the US, the media I see as left or right leaning, usually, with the more strong journals having high integrity for objectivity. Typically, people can get news sources nowadays from all over the world, and I highly recommend that. Foreign Affairs, Economist -- two great monthly sources for these sorts of issues. On your feed, put on foreign, non-western sources and read it daily, gives great counterbalance. On something like ISIS: read the hawks and the doves... the huffington post and the national review.

jbAugust 29, 2014 3:44 PM

The problem with attacking ISIS is who will supply the boots on the ground. In Iraq, we have the Kurds, who we can trust, who can fight, and who we don't mind winning, and we have the Iraqi government, who we can sort of trust, who can sort of fight, and who we can stand winning. In Syria, we have Bashar Assad, who is awful, and various other rebel factions, who are ineffectual. Barring, say, a Turkish ground invasion of Syria, there is no one who would benefit from the US attacking ISIS who the US would want to benefit.

Now, at this point I think the Middle East might be best served by the Turks reassembling the late-stage Ottoman Empire, but I'm not sure Ankara would go for that.

BuckAugust 29, 2014 3:46 PM

@Nova

and they did a very good job of this in Iraq
Yeah... and how's that working out for them these days? Or are you suggesting a permanent conventional force occupation?? Perhaps we should just absorb Iraq and Syria as the 51st & 52nd state of America... They sure are already getting a big piece of our pie! Awww, poor Puerto Rico... :-\

BuckAugust 29, 2014 3:51 PM

@Nova

Most people here are arguing that, and Obama and the Obama Administration is also effectively stating this
Also noticed that up until just now, you have been the only person here who has mentioned Obama at all...

SkepticalAugust 29, 2014 3:54 PM

One clarification:

For various reasons, personal and otherwise, I am reluctant to support increased US military action in Iraq and Syria, and I have viewed such calls skeptically. From a strategic vantage, the US should continue to pivot towards East Asia, and resources should be directed, as far as possible, to that end. Europe will continue to need military attention and defense as well. Sophisticated weapons and tactics for sophisticated adversaries must be our focus if the long game - that of avoiding any repetition of the cataclysms of the 20th century - is to be won.

I also do not wish to see a single additional American life killed or maimed fighting a war in Iraq. Many have sown the land with blood and bone, with lethal fire and life-saving food and medicine, with sweat and tears, with terrible mistakes and courageous brilliance, with criminal duplicity and with awe-inspiring gallantry. And for all the sacrifice of those long seasons, the harvest has been questionable, while the costs incalculable.

So, my preference would be to enable Kurdish and Iraqi forces to resolve the problem ISIS presents on their own.

However.

It is dangerous to allow an organization like ISIS to engage the US or its allies as it has with impunity. There should be no doubt, for any nation or for any organization, that to attack the United States or an ally in any way is to forfeit whatever one values most. Too much of the world is lawless, too much virulently hateful ideology is trafficked, too much destructive technology easily available, for the United States to allow challenges from groups such as this to go unaddressed.

We have watched as ISIS invaded one of the most tolerant, hopeful, and secular regions of Iraq, whose people have built a progressing civil society despite the barbaric depredations of a dictator and under an aegis of mostly US protection extending back to Operation Provide Comfort.

We have watched as they, using American equipment plundered from retreating or treacherous Iraqi forces, swept through villages and towns where minorities had long sought refuge and nurtured their families and communities. We watched as ISIS butchered them and enslaved them, celebrating their crimes by posting them online for all to see.

We have watched them force an American journalist to renounce his country and to tell his brother, serving in the US Air Force, that he is responsible for the actions of his captors. And then we watched them murder him. Those were the last words his family heard him speak; those are the last images they have of him.

We listen to their threats and promises of more.

We watch as they fund themselves with oil sales, and with ransoms from foreign governments, mostly Western.

To allow them to continue to gather strength will only raise the price of destroying them in the future; and our present inaction threatens to undermine the deterrence that the response to al Qaeda has built. This is an organization that believes that the knife on the neck of an innocent can sway the course of nations, and that in their world none is strong enough to oppose it.

Congress should immediately pass a resolution authorizing, at the President's discretion, the full use of military force against ISIS and any organizations that support it. Special reference should be made to the Syrian Government: at the President's discretion, there will be no conditions on US strikes against ISIS in Syria, and if you interfere then you will be added to our target set.

The Arab and Persian world should speak with one voice, political and clerical, condemning ISIS in the strongest terms, declaring them heretical, and supporting in every sense - with financial, military, intelligence, political, and public diplomacy resources - the task of destroying ISIS. Let the combined response to unmitigated fanaticism and savagery serve as the beginning of a more substantial recognition of the shared interests across the Middle East in peace and tolerance.

ISIS values its sense of strength, and relies on a perversion of Islam for its sense of legitimacy. Let it therefore be repudiated, and condemned, by every Muslim cleric and council with authority; let every embarrassing fact about its leaders flow like gossip from the pages of British tabloids; let it be understood that to do what they have done is both despicable and weak, and is to ruin oneself in every respect; let it be humiliated and annihilated wherever it exists.

NovaAugust 29, 2014 4:10 PM

@Buck

"and they did a very good job of this in Iraq
Yeah... and how's that working out for them these days? Or are you suggesting a permanent conventional force occupation?? Perhaps we should just absorb Iraq and Syria as the 51st & 52nd state of America... They sure are already getting a big piece of our pie! Awww, poor Puerto Rico... :-\"

&

"Most people here are arguing that, and Obama and the Obama Administration is also effectively stating this
Also noticed that up until just now, you have been the only person here who has mentioned Obama at all..."

Not sure what your point is on Obama, if it is a personal attack, I would prefer you keep to the issues if you want a response or make a point. I am neither Republican nor Democrat, and frankly, find Obama a decent president, relatively charming, though politically not much different from George W Bush.

On ISIS: the US went into Iraq already, that is a done deal. Saddam was holding down the fort there with a strong hand of a dictator. A sunni minority ruling over a shiite majority next to the Saudi holy land, and smack in the middle of Shiite strong territory.

The US did not chase out Saddam in the first Gulf War stating that it would be a quagmire because of these factors. They left this to the Democrats to deal with.

The US or an international force (even less likely) would have to put sizeable number of conventional troops in there to rid ISIS. Simple facts is all I am claiming. And they won't. So count the area a disaster, and count likely terrorist attacks inevitable. That is all I am saying.

Stick around for a year, a few years, and see if I am wrong.

I am sorry this makes you emotional, but if you wish to understand the future you have to set emotion aside and use unbiased reasoning.


NovaAugust 29, 2014 4:42 PM

@Skeptical

"Congress should immediately pass a resolution authorizing, at the President's discretion, the full use of military force against ISIS and any organizations that support it. Special reference should be made to the Syrian Government: at the President's discretion, there will be no conditions on US strikes against ISIS in Syria, and if you interfere then you will be added to our target set."


I agree that is what the US should do and for some of the reasons you eloquently state. I have argued that this is what should be done and not doing so will lead to disaster in the Middle East and world changing terrorist attacks from ISIS elsewhere in the near future (one year on).

However, I will also point out this does not mean this is what I want. I actually do not want for the US to drop in conventional forces at this time and handle the problem. I want the issue to fester. The reason is a bit akin to why people put maggots in an open sore. It kills off the dead tissue.

And there is a whole heck of a lot of dead tissue in that region of the world, and the world in general.

Short term, very painful -- long term, it gets the world to a better future.

As for East Asia... well, not sure about a focus needing to be there. One major refocus they would be wise to consider is curtailing back their surveillance systems and focusing far more on defensive measures. Drastically. The US would be well advised to ensure the safety of corporate and governmental systems in the whole "free" world. Because that can be game changing with little cost, for a number of likely suspects.

China is in a particularly difficult situation. They have been making a lot from outsourced work, but much of these jobs are themselves going the way of the dodo due to improvements in robotics. No wonder they are getting control of shipping lanes down south.

And there is Mexico and the cartels. Want to see a hotspot in the world about as hot as Iraq, look no further then your border. And those cartels are coming into the States, like a mass infection. ISIS is exactly like a cartel, which is a big reason why, for the short term, the US should treat ISIS with a very strong hand.

Disaster, disaster, disaster... red skies at dawn... this is fer sure.


ASVAB waiver commandos to battle stations!August 29, 2014 5:56 PM

Look, Skep's all in a tizzy at the thought of sending out more hillbillies to get their nuts blown off. The Bulwer-Lytton purple prose evinces poignant Winston Churchill fantasies: We shall get our asses kicked again on the beaches. We shall get our asses kicked again on the landing grounds... We shall get our asses kicked one more time in the fields and in the streets. We get our asses kicked once and for all in the hills. We shall run wee-wee-wee all the way home like little sissy bitches when the enemy adheres to international law and denies impunity to our fatass BMD commanders. We shall blow up the munitions we abandoned in cowardly rout and brag about how we got over the Vietnam syndrome... for now we've come to like being losers.

ohrodreAugust 29, 2014 9:00 PM

The average real IS twitter account jihadi has a shelf life of about 6 weeks until the inevitable "Brother Abu so-and-so was martyred today" they are dropping pretty fast. For example in that vice documentary most of everybody seen in it is already dead. They need never ending supply of recruits.

The Chechen fighters have made the difference, a number of those guys have experience in 3 different campaigns and if you look up their footage on youtube (they wear GoPro cameras) you'll see how professional they are at fighting. Those senior guys run the IS training/boot camps for new recruits and develop strategy as good as any modern general though so far most Chechen's are fighting for Al-Nusra, because they are unable to swear allegiance to another Emirate since they've done so already back home.

If Baghdadi and Omar al-Shishani, Chechen commander of Syria both die it's basically game over for IS. Baghdadi was shilled as having a "direct bloodline from the prophet" and other cult-like nonsense, without them it falls apart. Shishani is their military strategist, hard to replace the battlefield wisdom of his 20+ years of experience plus he is the only bridge to other Chechen recruits, who normally won't fight for IS.


AdjuvantAugust 30, 2014 2:33 AM

@Nick P, Nova, Igor:
To vastly oversimplify the situation (which I have not yet studied in any depth), the bottom line is that IS(IS) is an ideal "frenemy" -- i.e. strategically indispensible enemy -- for Western interests. (I'm reminded inadvertently of Kahlil Gibran's Satan. It's the wee hours of the morning here. Rather than offer specific analysis which would be half-baked at best, let me fill in some essential background and make a few scattershot observations that might be helpful in grasping towards a preliminary understanding.

#1a Patrick Cockburn in LRB, 21 August 2014, "Isis Consolidates".

"The foster parents of Isis and the other Sunni jihadi movements in Iraq and Syria are Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies and Turkey. This doesn’t mean the jihadis didn’t have strong indigenous roots, but their rise was crucially supported by outside Sunni powers. The Saudi and Qatari aid was primarily financial, usually through private donations, which Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, says were central to the Isis takeover of Sunni provinces in northern Iraq: ‘Such things do not happen spontaneously.’ In a speech in London in July, he said the Saudi policy towards jihadis has two contradictory motives: fear of jihadis operating within Saudi Arabia, and a desire to use them against Shia powers abroad....


#1b Peter Dale Scott, "The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld", Asia Pacific Journal, March 13, 2014
Simultaneously, it is absolutely crucial to keep in mind the history of how parallel intelligence structures and institutions seem to spring up outside of and in opposition to officially state-sanctioned channels and aims. History suggests that the international intelligence milieu is chronically inclined to take on a mind of its own.

As former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal once told Georgetown University alumni,

In 1976, after the Watergate matters took place here, your intelligence community was literally tied up by Congress. It could not do anything. It could not send spies, it could not write reports, and it could not pay money. In order to compensate for that, a group of countries got together in the hope of fighting Communism and established what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran.94

Prince Turki’s candid remarks– “your intelligence community was literally tied up by Congress. …. In order to compensate for that, a group of countries got together … and established what was called the Safari Club.” – made it clear that the Safari Club, operating at the level of the deep state, was expressly created to overcome restraints established by political decisions of the public state in Washington.
....
The complex milieu of Khashoggi, the BCCI, and the Safari Club can be characterized as a supranational deep state, whose organic links to the CIA may have helped consolidate it. It is clear however that decisions taken at this level by the Safari Club and BCCI were in no way guided by the political determinations of those elected to power in Washington. On the contrary, Prince Turki’s candid remarks revealed that the Safari Club (with the alleged participation of two former CIA Directors, Bush and Helms) was expressly created to overcome restraints established by political decisions in Washington.

A former Turkish president and prime minister once commented that the Turkish deep state was the real state, and the public state was only a “spare state,” not the real one.123 A better understanding of the American deep state is necessary, if we are to prevent it from assuming permanently the same role.

#1c Today's Washington's Blog:

America Has Sold Its Soul for Oil
A U.S. congressman for 6 years, who is now a talking head on MSNBC (Joe Scarborough) says that – even if the Saudi government backed the 9/11 attacks – Saudi oil is too important to do anything about it. This is not an isolated incident. It is a microcosm of U.S.-Saudi relations.

----

With the above in the background, we can observe that ISIS is, de facto, being exploited as an excuse for further US presence in Iraqi oil areas and further tightening of the (anti)-terror apparatus at home.
e.g.
#2a The Foley video, examined closely is a particularly curious artifact, smacking of agitprop.

#2b To the BI article on which this post is based, add this from the Guardian:
David Cameron promises new UK powers to tackle Isis terror threat: British prime minister says measures needed to combat 'greater and deeper threat to security than we have known' ISIS is a credible boogeyman, and we'll likely be seeing this exploited fully in weeks and months to come.

#3 Some suggestions for thought-provoking further reading.

Pepe Escobar's take is always stimulating, even when he's completely wrong. Pepe Escobar 1 Pepe Escobar 2

Moon of Alabama has some of the more intelligent discussion and speculation you'll find on these mattersMoon of Alabama 1 Moon of Alabama 2 Moon of Alabama 3 -- see also the 1st link regarding the Foley tape in #2a above.

------------
So: everything clear as mud? Excellent. :-)
I'm going to bed.


AdjuvantAugust 30, 2014 3:02 AM

Two postscripts, so I can sleep:

1. When I say Moon of Alabama has "some of the more intelligent discussion and speculation you'll find," that's emphatically a relative statement. It a rabid, sometimes offensive free-for-all.

2. One more link from ZeroHedge with a provocative thesis that might illuminate the strategic picture: "The Chaos In Iraq Is By DESIGN".

Gerard van VoorenAugust 30, 2014 5:44 AM

@ Skeptical

We all know that everything before the 'but' is a lie. So I skip the intro.

"Too much of the world is lawless..."

I agree. I remember Clapper lying under oath to Congress and he is still a free man.

"We have watched as ISIS invaded one of the most tolerant, hopeful, and secular regions of Iraq, whose people have built a progressing civil society despite the barbaric depredations of a dictator and under an aegis of mostly US protection extending back to Operation Provide Comfort."

If you want to prevent that, send weapons, small arms such as AK47s and RPGs and provide a little training. For the bonus points you also build infrastructure, hospitals, schools and provide the people prospects.

"We watched as ISIS butchered them and enslaved them, celebrating their crimes by posting them online for all to see."

I remember Collateral Murder very well. The gunner of the chopper is still a free man. He did kill people over there, including a Reuters news reporter and a camera man. No, he butchered them.

War is dirty.

"We watch as they fund themselves with oil sales, and with ransoms from foreign governments, mostly Western."

Where do I even start... No, this is just too much bullshit.

"Congress should immediately pass a resolution authorizing, at the President's discretion, the full use of military force against ISIS and any organizations that support it. Special reference should be made to the Syrian Government: at the President's discretion, there will be no conditions on US strikes against ISIS in Syria, and if you interfere then you will be added to our target set."

Boring. It will never happen that way. They will try something sneaky.

"The Arab and Persian world should speak with one voice..."

Again boring. That will certainly never happen.

"ISIS values its sense of strength, and relies on a perversion of Islam for its sense of legitimacy."

True.

The US falls back to lies when it invades a country. So what's the difference?

NovaAugust 30, 2014 11:20 AM

ohrodre

Very excellent analysis... not sourcing it, but sure sounds like it is top notch. :-)

Unfortunately, can be hard to get those leaders.

eg, hunt for Saddam, Pancho Villa, Osama Bin Laden


Adjuvant

Another interesting analysis, in a different way, though I do keep up on the region and have read a handful of books on Saudi over the years. It has been my take without reading anything that Saudi money was likely involved. But, of course, they are sunni, so that is no surprise. And Saudi money (from the wealthy, anyway) was involved with Al Qaeda. It is Sunni and that is Shiite territory, north of them. Those guys are hardly tolerant of religious differences. And they have strongly competing interests besides oil.

On Saudi influence, of course, that is bad. I was just watching that Rumsfeld documentary the other night, 'the known unknowns'... and noted how Rumsfeld explained the first time he heard seriously ['for sure'] the US was going into Iraq was when Dick Cheney was sitting down with him and the Saudi Ambassador to tell them.

I do, however, pretty much see the situation as it appears to be. They are a militia who have had a lot of success, have been plundering, have had events and scenarios on their side in many ways. They are religious zealots, and they are genuinely believing what they say they believe -- though, as one other guy pointed out above, despite their beliefs they are likely to operate just as your basic thugs involved in basic robbery -- plundering.

I also see part of those perfect storm circumstances being very, very simple: you have a a mix of Sunni and Shiite in these regions. These forces have been funded by Iran and Saudi (and other benefactors). In Lebanon. In Syria. In Jordan. In Iraq. Iraq was left weakened. They are a very corrupt system. They were, before the war, under Sunni control, despite being majority Shiite. That Sunni powerbase had remained.

In general, I see the whole region a massive cluster fuck. It is religion, it is state based, it is race, it is national. Shiite versus Sunni. And both religions tend towards the extreme on the intolerant towards differences.

You also got a lot of desert land, really piss poor land, that just happens to have a lot of the world's best oil reserves. So you have a big, horrible mess there.

Where's Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along" when you need him?

DaveAugust 30, 2014 6:08 PM

Okay first time, I appreciate all the neutral comments as in politics very smart to be above all that even though we know it's fantasy. Now what, if you are a believer in Islam you may forgive their butchering or conversion of people of other beliefs. If you are among the many other millions of people who are not, you cannot forgive. So what begins as skirmishes may end up becoming the 21st century Crusades and screw all the political issues! Most folks do not seem to believe that this is religious based and you can just chalk up our response to anti terrorism. I personally believe that all religions are man made, but that means nothing to the Islamic hordes who's only goal is Sharia law and their control. Will you convert or will you fight?

BuckAugust 30, 2014 11:10 PM

You know, I think the major media outlets oughta feel ashamed of themselves for providing us with the coverage that they have about these issues thus far... Through their glorification (and therefore self-perpetuation) of beheadings and mass-murder in the morning paper and on the nightly news, they only further to encourage and excuse action upon existing psychopathic idealizations of already disenfranchised youths.

Wesley ParishAugust 31, 2014 2:56 AM

@Dave

So what begins as skirmishes may end up becoming the 21st century Crusades and screw all the political issues!

So you believe we should become the Crusaders of the 21st Century?

These events were also chronicled by Fulcher of Chartres, who wrote:
I shudder to tell that many of our people, harassed by the madness of excessive hunger, cut pieces from the buttocks of the Saracens already dead there, which they cooked, but when it was not yet roasted enough by the fire, they devoured it with savage mouth.

It really infuriates me when people use the Crusades as an example of the West's "Purity of Essence". War is Hell.

SkepticalAugust 31, 2014 7:21 AM


@Gerard: We all know that everything before the 'but' is a lie. So I skip the intro.

I'm going to help you out. When someone says he has reasons for not wanting any more Americans to be sent to Iraq, you should have a good reason before calling him a liar. Nothing I wrote in that post is a lie.

"Too much of the world is lawless..."

I agree. I remember Clapper lying under oath to Congress and he is still a free man.

Are you seriously comparing the failed states and uncontrolled areas from which organizations like al Shabab, AQAP, AQI, al Nusra, ISAL, and others, spring and flourish, to Clapper lying to Congress?

I'm shaking my head in disbelief at your responses here. I'm talking about the likelihood of extremist organizations taking root in the territories of failed or weak states. You seem to be actually claiming that the US is just as lawless because Clapper lied to Congress. Are you joking?

Here's a decent briefing paper on the problems posed by failed and weak states. That's what I'm talking about. Kudos for somehow comparing it to an act of perjury.

"We have watched as ISIS invaded one of the most tolerant, hopeful, and secular regions of Iraq, whose people have built a progressing civil society despite the barbaric depredations of a dictator and under an aegis of mostly US protection extending back to Operation Provide Comfort."

If you want to prevent that, send weapons, small arms such as AK47s and RPGs and provide a little training. For the bonus points you also build infrastructure, hospitals, schools and provide the people prospects.

Gerard, the Peshmerga did not lack smalls arms. They are primarily a light infantry force. What they apparently lacked at critical points was heavy weaponry. As for building infrastructure, the US has spent billions doing so in Kurdistan and elsewhere - and the Kurds have excellent prospects.

"We watched as ISIS butchered them and enslaved them, celebrating their crimes by posting them online for all to see."

I remember Collateral Murder very well. The gunner of the chopper is still a free man. He did kill people over there, including a Reuters news reporter and a camera man. No, he butchered them.

You're comparing what ISIS is doing - killing men and boys by the thousands because they adhere to a different faith while enslaving and raping the women - to an incident where you believe a US helicopter should not have fired upon a group of individuals it perceived as hostile in the midst of combat.

Get real.

"We watch as they fund themselves with oil sales, and with ransoms from foreign governments, mostly Western."

Where do I even start... No, this is just too much bullshit.

You really don't know, do you? Yet you don't hesitate to call the truth bullshit.

Here's a recent New York Times story on the subject.

"Congress should immediately pass a resolution authorizing, at the President's discretion, the full use of military force against ISIS and any organizations that support it. Special reference should be made to the Syrian Government: at the President's discretion, there will be no conditions on US strikes against ISIS in Syria, and if you interfere then you will be added to our target set."

Boring. It will never happen that way. They will try something sneaky.

I'm not making predictions, but stating what I believe should happen.

But you couldn't be more wrong about the readiness of many in the US Congress to pass such a resolution. Indeed one of the only things stopping it from doing so on its own accord, without a Presidential request, is the proximity of the American elections. And at this point even some prominent Democrats are pressing to authorize military force by Congressional resolution.

If and when the President announces expanded strikes against ISIS, he will ask for, and will receive with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority, Congressional authorization.

"The Arab and Persian world should speak with one voice..."

Again boring. That will certainly never happen.

And again you're wrong. From Sunni Egypt to Shi'ite Iran, governments and religious authorities have condemned ISIS.

I don't find such agreement to be boring.

"ISIS values its sense of strength, and relies on a perversion of Islam for its sense of legitimacy."

True.

The US falls back to lies when it invades a country. So what's the difference?

I'm beginning to wonder if there is a language barrier here. I noted what ISIS values by way of reasoning how ISIS should be destroyed, and similar groups deterred.

If you're seriously asking me what the difference is between ISIS and the United States, then there isn't a language barrier here. There's a reality barrier.

SkepticalAugust 31, 2014 8:05 AM


@Adjuvant: To vastly oversimplify the situation (which I have not yet studied in any depth), the bottom line is that IS(IS) is an ideal "frenemy" -- i.e. strategically indispensible enemy -- for Western interests.

This is incorrect. ISIS adds instability and detracts US resources from other operations. There's enough going on in the world without ISIS.

In support of this notion you introduce a few facts, and a few frankly crazy assertions from talk-show hosts.

The facts you introduce:

"The foster parents of Isis and the other Sunni jihadi movements in Iraq and Syria are Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies and Turkey. This doesn’t mean the jihadis didn’t have strong indigenous roots, but their rise was crucially supported by outside Sunni powers.

This is true.

The crazy assertions:

A former Turkish president and prime minister once commented that the Turkish deep state was the real state, and the public state was only a “spare state,” not the real one.123 A better understanding of the American deep state is necessary, if we are to prevent it from assuming permanently the same role.

There's nothing like a Turkish deep state in the United States. I don't care what some anonymous individual claims a Saudi official told him about such things.

A U.S. congressman for 6 years, who is now a talking head on MSNBC (Joe Scarborough) says that – even if the Saudi government backed the 9/11 attacks – Saudi oil is too important to do anything about it. This is not an isolated incident. It is a microcosm of U.S.-Saudi relations.

This is absurdly shallow analysis by the talking head. If the Saudi Government attacked the United States on 9/11 it would have been war with Saudi Arabia - and a rather quick one at that. And the Saudis, by the way, have been quite cooperative.

With the above in the background, we can observe that ISIS is, de facto, being exploited as an excuse for further US presence in Iraqi oil areas and further tightening of the (anti)-terror apparatus at home.

No, this completely misunderstands US policy towards the Middle East in general and towards oil in particular.

Oil is a global commodity. Its price is set, with some differences between supply points (you can look at the difference between the WTI spot price and the Brent spot price, for example), according to global supply and demand. While it is important that oil reaches the global market, the US doesn't need to actually control oil fields for that to happen.

And at this point, the US produces about as much oil per day as Saudi Arabia and Russia. Oil is not the concern it once was, though it's still important.

As to US policy in the Middle East generally, the US doesn't want to waste resources in the Middle East. It is pivoting strategically to East Asia, and it has deliberately reduced the resources devoted to the Middle East.

To understand why ISIS is getting attention, one doesn't need to gesture towards some "deep state" in the US that is "looking for an excuse" to spend military resources in the Middle East.

ISIS has garnered attention in four ways:

(1) Horrific savagery, which it serves out as part of its propaganda;
(2) Surprising strength
(3) Large numbers of Western foreign fighters
(4) Murdering an American journalist on video

#2a The Foley video, examined closely is a particularly curious artifact, smacking of agitprop.

Sorry, what? You think someone OTHER than ISIS made the Foley video as propaganda??

Clive RobinsonAugust 31, 2014 8:30 AM

@ Wesley Parish,

Yes war in it's many forms is hell, but the eating of dead people is neither new, nor compared to just about all the other activities of war, particularly shocking.

It has occurred from prerecorded times untill just over a hundred years ago as a religious activity just about every where mankind has ever been, and there are still parts of the world where it is believed it may well still occur.

Non cerimonial eating of the dead is certainly known to have happened in Russia during and after WWII in outlying areas where those that had already died of hunger were eaten by others in the village. In fact one woman was recorded as saying of the authorities removing the dead, "they are our dead why are they stealing them".

Aside from religious views once you are dead there is nothing further that anybody can do to harm you, unlike the fate of those still living.

ISIS / IS are known to take children and women as what would be considered slaves, we know just what sort of horrors that they will be subjected to including genital mutilation, rape, trafficking, repeated brutal assaults, physical tourture and worse, for what is essentialy the sadistic pleasure of others revelling in the psychotic power they have recently acquired.

In general these psychotic criminals are lifes failures who to make up for the humiliation of their own failings, that they have experianced in what might be considered the normal world, are deluding them selves that the hell they are creating is their god given right. Thankfully the ISIS / IS leaders are so incompetent that these deluded suplicants have an average life expectancy of just over fourty days currently.

If you care to have a hunt around the UK news web sites, you will find that this psychotic behaviour has actually been exhibited by men "of Pakistani origin" for nearly two decades in parts of the UK and that authorities turned a blind eye rather than appear racist.

Previous arrests in the UK show that a lot of these supposed young religious Muslim militants, are drug dealing and comming other violent crimes as well as sex trafficking child abusers, hiding behind the illusion of religion and the very real fear they have caused in their own familes and communities.

The questions we should be asking is firstly how do we get their families and communities to stop hiding these criminals and their activities. And secondly how do we stop them being a danger not just to their own communities but the wider communities they prey on. Not just in the UK but also those who have gone to other countries to carry out their sick fantasies and manage to survive the current rates of attrition the exploting ISIS / IS leaders have decided that the "deluded cannon fodder" are most appropriate for. Because one thing that is fairly certain, if ISIS / IS manage to archive any of their supposed political aims almost the first thing they will want to do is get rid of these deluded and extreamly dangerous criminals, as they are far to dangerous to have around in anything other than what many regard as a "medieval blood bath" war zone.

This is because these psychotic criminals having seen that there are ways to forfill their fantasies with impunity and will not want to give them up, and thus will fight to ensure that they can continue to enjoy what they see is their god given right...

ISIS / IS leaders must know that they will not be able to stop them, therefore they will have to get rid of them the only question is how. The one thing that the UK Gov is begining to realise is we don't want them back for the same reasons. Thus I suspect the ISIS / IS solution might well be to ensure the survival rate for these psychotic and deluded individuals is as close to zero as possible, or move them on to new "sponsors" in other areas of the world.

Gerard van VoorenAugust 31, 2014 8:43 AM

@ Skeptical

The "everything before the 'but' is a lie" is a well known thing and it is true. It is simply a disclaimer. After the 'but' you are saying what you really want.

Such as that you want peace, but ... that you should fight because of reason 1 to 5.

"Are you seriously comparing the failed states and uncontrolled areas from which organizations like al Shabab, AQAP, AQI, al Nusra, ISAL, and others, spring and flourish, to Clapper lying to Congress?"

I consider the latter one worse. Sorry but that is what I think. The US is way more powerful than the organizations you mentioned. I am talking about magnitudes here. If the chiefs in charge of the most powerful and aggressive military country in the world can get away with lying, that signals all the way down.

"Gerard, the Peshmerga did not lack smalls arms. They are primarily a light infantry force. What they apparently lacked at critical points was heavy weaponry."

That could be true. I have to say I don't know the details, and to be honest I don't want to know them. But if you have plenty AK47's and RPG's you can be very powerful in defending yourself.

"You're comparing what ISIS is doing - killing men and boys by the thousands because they adhere to a different faith while enslaving and raping the women - to an incident where you believe a US helicopter should not have fired upon a group of individuals it perceived as hostile in the midst of combat.

Get real."

Killing is killing. There is no "good" killing or "bad" killing.

"We watch as they fund themselves with oil sales, and with ransoms from foreign governments, mostly Western."

Do you really think the US has the *beep* right to take the oil? Because the US has the most powerful army in the world? That is *beep* colonialism !!!

"If you're seriously asking me what the difference is between ISIS and the United States, then there isn't a language barrier here. There's a reality barrier."

No, you get it wrong. It is both killing in the name of.

Arnold G.August 31, 2014 12:13 PM

This is just a transparent attempt to further terrorize Americans by spreading FUD that the FBI/CIA, etc. are just buffoons and your white middle-class neighbor could be a terrorist etc. My impression is that the American security apparatus has a VERY clear picture of who these people are, where they're from and what they're up to. If you think the FBI is just a bunch of knuckle draggers who say "hr dr brown people are terrorists" you're really ignorant.

albertAugust 31, 2014 12:52 PM

Airport profiling is not a new thing. Several years ('98 or '99) before 911 I was returning from an overseas trip (Japan). While in the 'security zone', a large area with dozens of passengers, I was approached by a friendly person*, who asked to see my passport. I though this was curious, so I watched him. He and his colleagues were interviewing all males who were tall and had moustaches :) BTW, I'm very light-skinned.

_Something_ was going on back then.

I gotta go...


* I don't recall if he identified himself, or wore a uniform.

SkepticalAugust 31, 2014 1:27 PM

@Gerard: The "everything before the 'but' is a lie" is a well known thing and it is true. It is simply a disclaimer. After the 'but' you are saying what you really want.

It can be a duplicitous sentence, but it can also be an honest expression of someone's reasoning.

"Are you seriously comparing the failed states and uncontrolled areas from which organizations like al Shabab, AQAP, AQI, al Nusra, ISAL, and others, spring and flourish, to Clapper lying to Congress?"

I consider the latter one worse. Sorry but that is what I think. The US is way more powerful than the organizations you mentioned. I am talking about magnitudes here. If the chiefs in charge of the most powerful and aggressive military country in the world can get away with lying, that signals all the way down.

What consequences of Clapper's statement exceed the combined harm committed by the various extremist groups I've mentioned?

"Gerard, the Peshmerga did not lack smalls arms. They are primarily a light infantry force. What they apparently lacked at critical points was heavy weaponry."

That could be true. I have to say I don't know the details, and to be honest I don't want to know them. But if you have plenty AK47's and RPG's you can be very powerful in defending yourself.

Right up to the point when enemy artillery obliterates you.

"You're comparing what ISIS is doing - killing men and boys by the thousands because they adhere to a different faith while enslaving and raping the women - to an incident where you believe a US helicopter should not have fired upon a group of individuals it perceived as hostile in the midst of combat.

Killing is killing. There is no "good" killing or "bad" killing.

There is justified killing and there is unjustified killing - unless you think there's no distinction between ISIS slaughtering innocents and killing ISIS to stop them from doing so.

"We watch as they fund themselves with oil sales, and with ransoms from foreign governments, mostly Western."

Do you really think the US has the *beep* right to take the oil? Because the US has the most powerful army in the world? That is *beep* colonialism !!!

The US isn't taking anyone's oil. What are you talking about? I'm referring here to ISIS funding itself via hostage ransoms and oil sales on a black (or at least a very dark shade of grey) market.

"If you're seriously asking me what the difference is between ISIS and the United States, then there isn't a language barrier here. There's a reality barrier."

No, you get it wrong. It is both killing in the name of.

Gerard, no, I'm afraid not. One party has acted to protect tens of thousands of Yazidis (not to mention Muslims who understand ISIS to be heretical, and Christians) from being slaughtered and raped by an vicious group of thugs. That party is risking the lives of its personnel, and spending millions of dollars daily, to effect that protection.

The other party is that vicious group of thugs.

I don't see the equivalence.

NovaAugust 31, 2014 1:50 PM

@Skeptical

"To understand why ISIS is getting attention, one doesn't need to gesture towards some "deep state" in the US that is "looking for an excuse" to spend military resources in the Middle East. ... You think someone OTHER than ISIS made the Foley video as propaganda??"


I think what you are hitting against here is a number of posters believe there are super secret conspiracies operational in the world with immense power.

I find this one of the most curious traits that people can have. I have a number of theories about "why this is" against all evidence. One problem, of course, is that human beings minds are wired to look for and establish patterns, where there are none.

Another issue is in the American world, anyway, people are bombarding all their life with fascinating and delectable fiction that seeps into their minds about outlandish, global, century - even millenia - spanning conspiracies of immense power secretly controlling things.

Then, you also have the conspiracists themselves: individuals working for foreign intelligence, individuals involved in a variety of secret societies their own selves (usually just simply such societies such as alternative political subcultures and drug using subcultures)... maybe even some in the states and other western powers who have heard rumors or have had some experience in covert matters and speculated on "much more going on".

Another issue, of course, is the tactical and strategic mind that supplies disinformation reflexively and constantly for those involved in secretive matters: they unconsciously stick to the dictates of the old chinese philosopher's saying, 'war is deception' & 'if your numbers are small, make them appear large... if your numbers are large, make them appear small... if you are distant, make appear near... if near, make appear distant..'

And, perhaps, finally, there is the overall metapicture of religion (and lack thereof): Religious people believe everyone else is living under vast conspiracies, and non-religious people do as well in a quite different way. They both view the vast majority of the world under the grip of vast, deep, dark delusion. So, of course, there must be oceans of disinformation out there in more everyday matters such as war & politics.

As many do realize, however, especially those who have actually worked in governmental covert fashion or on secret projects *and* who have studied the history of these subjects: leaks happen. More people involved, more likely there are leaks. People are fragile beings. They are difficult to control. They often have nothing to lose. They have strict, B&W morality. They are not as brilliant, nor as capable of being organized and as discreet as theorists would maintain.

*Disclaimer: I personally believe there are controlling influences above and beyond these things. But, I also believe people need to work out their theories so it is evidence based. Otherwise, they get swamped in possibilities, rivers of red herrings.

Clive RobinsonAugust 31, 2014 3:40 PM

@ Nova,

I have a number of theories about "why this is" against all evidence.

Oh there is plenty of evidence of the existence of "conspiracy theory" existance, and you miss out one very important group of people.

In the US and UK it is not difficult to find those with a lot of wealth and political influence spending vast amounts of time money and other resources look for those they believe are conspiring against them or their view point. And it is also quite easy to see the pattern in every other western nation, and most other nations.

These people then turn their beliefs into reality for other people by hiring private investigators and proffessional securiry firms to investigate these other people.

One place to start looking is the connection between a series of questionable suicides in the finance industry and the hiring of a large international private security firm.

Another is the behaviour of a previous senior executive in HP.

Then there are the likes of the Koch Brothers in the US with their funding of the Teabagers and of other political campaigns and their illegal activities that resulted in whistle blowers, causing some of the brothers to go on witch hunts.

Then in the UK we have the mentaly questionable behaviour of the Barclay brothers and their irrational behaviour because those living in the Channel Islands do not want to become their surfs.

Likwise in the UK is the "Phoney Pharaoh" Mohamed Al-Fayed, he lives in a world very much seperate from the rest of us, and to list even a small fraction of what is in the public record of his questionable behaviour and beliefs would be enough to convince most that his view of reality is not just "far out" but rapidly passing Pluto for places unknown.

I could go on and list others some of whom have held senior jobs in the likes of the various UK Police and Military who have quite provably driven people to suicide in witch hunts.

Then you only have to look at the recent cases of various supposadly "secret" groups in the UK Met Police and what their undercover officers were getting upto. Not only "sleeping with the enemy" but other less savoury activities including illegaly passing on the details of quite innocent private individuals to private companies that then used private security companies to have these people subject to oppressive investigation that even criminals working in "protection racketeering" and loan/gambling debt collection would view as excessive.

It would be interesting to hear what the people subject to these behaviours think about not just being on the receiving end but what they think about "conspiracy theories" in general. For them there was nothing imaginary about what they went through, nor the fact that they could not stop it happening...

NovaAugust 31, 2014 6:26 PM

@Clive Robinson

There *are* conspiracies, I am *not* saying otherwise. Organized crime operates in conspiracies. Intelligence agencies operate in conspiracies. One could even rightly argue politics, in general, is conspiracy based. Or religion, or the lack of religion.

In context, however, where it is, for instance, asserted that "the CIA" is 'not only funding', but created and is *controlling* ISIS... that, I think, you would likely agree is highly far fetched and unlikely on a number of levels.

Koch Brothers

Koch brothers are hardly getting away with it. I would not go so far as some do to argue that they are single handedly in control of anti-'man made climate change'. They are funders, and they are organizers. And, of course, there are other business interests involved there.

Wealthy Weirdos Plunking Money and Running Organizations of Influence

Definitely a lot of these. Left, right, and everything on the spectrums. You might as well here include the wide spectrum of national interests there as well. Country Club Masterspies...? I think that would likely be rare. One group supposedly considered real which may somewhat qualify here would be the "feathermen", a group of ex-British intel officials. But, they were said to have the "feather touch" because they knew it was so easy for them to get caught if they did anything weightier.

But there you are also talking about the difference between people trained and with decades of experience in professional conspiracies (which is what intelligence agents in operations and planning are)... and country club business people that have more experience with trying to protect their hair, yachts, and nails from scratches.

Met Police & their Unlawful Secret Operations

Though American, I have followed some of these stories. They were busted. Their operations were small, targeting individuals who were and are untrained. You might add here the many law enforcement conspiracies which have legitimately been out there: there surely have been. There have been groups of cops involved in things such as murdering and covering up civil rights activists. (When there was enormous local public support for such behavior.) You have cops here and there engaged en masse in corruption, such as running drugs, or getting paid off by one organized criminal group or another. Smart, effective, well trained bad guys... but not superspy masterminds.

Even with this recent Ferguson case you see this sort of behavior. There is evidence the cops covered up the shooting which has ever appearance of being at least partially unlawful. And even if that is not the case it surely does appear odd at the least that the police force is so deeply out of synch racially with the people they police. Further, the cop involved in the homicide came from a police agency where everyone was fired for mass corruption including persistent racist behavior. But, again, you see that case was investigated and actions were carried through.

You also have organized crime. You can even have where federal policing agencies or intelligence agencies work with organized crime.


What you do not have are: massive operations entirely off the books controlling global events utilizing large numbers of individuals operating in highly covert capacity. Alias is fiction. Section Six is fiction. Salt is fiction. For that matter: there are no ages old groups of vampires or werewolves or aliens living among everyone. Supernatural is fiction. Sleepy Hollow is fiction. Constantine is fiction. The Matrix is fiction. Heck -- I watched Law Abiding Citizen today & Safe -- both of these movies propose the existence of entirely off the books intel agencies employing super dark and complex systems. They are fake. It is fantasy.

The scariest stuff you do find not in business, not even in organized crime, but in intelligence agencies. And nothing there has been all that scary. Russians ran a very clever deep cover system for years, full of ludicrous faults. Heck, the first world war was started by an assassin likely at least funded by an intel agency. Blah. (And speaking of, much of the scariest stuff I have ever read of happened in the late nineteenth century from your British "M" and their pro-active programs operated against saboteurs. Even those things are "meh". Nothing like the movies.)


Otherwise, the world is full of effective conspiracies. Politics was one I mentioned. Anyone outside of politics sees those groups and how they believe noxious ludicrous things full of bias and do all they can to puff up their lies and unreasonable beliefs. For instance. But, these things are seen -- and like all of the above do not require masterminds, nor vast groups with near unlimited resources maintaining secrecy while operating highly immoral actions...

People dig into JFK, aliens, and the like to try and prove otherwise... but it never goes anywhere.

Interesting stuff! Fascinating. But the fact is people are just not all that competent to do what some imagine them capable of doing. Aliens are not real. So there isn't alien tech or alien overseers either.


Ricky SainiAugust 31, 2014 6:26 PM

Looks like Palantir is a no brainer at this point, and I guess we can count on another decade of fear from terrorism and more security theater.

Lol. If only the fools realized to remove the wasted $$$ on security theater and invest it in legitimacy.

NovaAugust 31, 2014 8:26 PM


On conspiracy theories, post thought:

My only point is against *bad* conspiracy theories, something I often see proliferate on this forum when I drop by. This thread had some *bad* conspiracy theories. Of course, to argue against even the most ludicrous and poorly researched conspiracy theories is like trying to de-brainwash a Jehovah Witness -- 'if you are denying the conspiracy, you are a part of it'.

The mind closes up at the slightest consideration that one's beliefs are incorrect. That sort of mindset is symptomatic with mental illness and cults. Critical thinkers want to purview as many divergent opinions as they can, they want to tackle issues from all angles. Non-critical thinkers despise the very idea of it. They see like a biological invasion of a pathogen any manner of contrary possibility. So, of course, they are upholding delusion.

If one steps back and considers: 'is my ample paranoia making me safer', perhaps it gives to them that appearance of safety, though in reality, is one safer for being as if an indoctrinated, brainwashed cult member, or being someone who is capable of considering matters freely? If one believes in truth, is one with the capacity to consider that which is less weighty, or not? Many do not even weigh matters against one another. They throw out the scales entirely. They know what is weightier by sight and balk at the idea of putting that against their feather light, but deeply held beliefs.

These people may actually believe they are supporting visibility and a danger to real conspiracies whose real agendas they may oppose... but, of course, their very wackiness misses real conspiracies with said agendas. And provide them further cover by their effective disinformation.

They are far from walking in the light, as they think. They are walking in deep darkness. And they are severely troubled, confused people. The chaos of their beliefs bears them no reflection to consider they may be wrong. Because they are scared of challenging it, regardless of how chaotic and troubling it is to them.

I will point out that there are realities behind the modern myths. These fictional stories of vast conspiracies I joyfully refute, oh I do believe there is distant reality hidden there. But, myths, by definition are not truths. They are, at best, distant shadows of what really is. One can get a better picture if one combines them together, but even there... a shadow remains a shadow, and not the real thing. You may have a key - with all her nobs and specific symmetry - but with no idea of what the key actually fits.

Maybe there are no vampires, no aliens, no werewolves, but there is probably something big and hidden going on out there.

AlanSAugust 31, 2014 9:40 PM

@Clive and Nova

The tentacles of the neo-liberal octopus reach everywhere.

You can find a list of institutions and think tanks funded by the Koch brothers here. Places you'd expect like Cato and Heritage but also lots of universities.

See:
Billionaire's role in hiring decisions at Florida State University raises questions
Not Just Florida State
For some professors, disclosure is academic

"The Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia, which is the home of several academic economists who have advised the House and Senate on regulatory reform, is funded and run in part by Charles G. Koch, a vocal libertarian billionaire who has said he wants to minimize the government's role and maximize personal freedoms and the private economy. In 2001, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation gave George Mason University $3 million to recruit new faculty members and fund programs in "experimental economics." In the 2009 fiscal year it donated $2.5 million to George Mason University. The House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee heard from academic economists linked to the Mercatus Center about a dozen times during the financial regulatory reform debate. That is roughly the same number of testimonies by academics hailing from both Harvard's business and law schools."

AlanSAugust 31, 2014 10:07 PM

@Nova

"I would not go so far as some do to argue that they are single handedly in control of anti-'man made climate change'."

True, it's more than the Kochs. The spin-off arms of the Mont Pelerin Society are many. And the insiders promoting disputing science don't necessarily have an opinion on the truth or otherwise of the science other than the need for the ignorance and confusion of the masses for 'the market' to work properly. It's a rather elitist and contradictory position. They are against social engineering (government, regulation, etc.) but it's okay if they are doing it because only they have the magic key to true knowledge.

Douglas McClendonAugust 31, 2014 10:11 PM

"Are you seriously comparing the failed states and uncontrolled areas from which organizations like al Shabab, AQAP, AQI, al Nusra, ISAL, and others, spring and flourish, to Clapper lying to Congress?"
I consider the latter one worse. Sorry but that is what I think. The US is way more powerful than the organizations you mentioned. I am talking about magnitudes here. If the chiefs in charge of the most powerful and aggressive military country in the world can get away with lying, that signals all the way down.
What consequences of Clapper's statement exceed the combined harm committed by the various extremist groups I've mentioned?

IMO the consequences of Clapper's statement may likely include a continuation of erosion of the U.S. "moral high ground". Which beyond political perceptions, also manifests in dramatic escalation of activities similar to those that were lied about. I.e. mass state security suveillance, absent an adequate educated restraint based on known past abuses- Stasi/Gestapo/Etc.

I guess one school of thought would completely dismiss any kind of overwhelming value of making sacrifices to maintain more credible "moral high ground". But those of my school of thought believe that chasing that MHG is worth it. Primarily I guess because I view the spoils of actually winning the amoral battle for power and dominance to be nearly valueless. Of course it is subjective.

I live in Kansas. In order for me to feel any useful allegience to the U.S. I must be able to credibly believe that the U.S. government is not just a pack of profiteering liars protecting their retirement nest-eggs at the expense of other's dying as a result of an amoral ruler of the jungle battle.

Also, twice you seemed to imply that ISIS could be "got rid of" or "mopped up" with military force. Maybe if you are attached to the label I can admit you are right, but if you are actually talking about the motivations and long term threat of similar individuals, I think your strategic analysis is flawed. Push a magic button, make all their heads explode, and I'm sure that 10 years from now the strategic situation will be basically unaffected (maybe better, maybe worse, no strong reasoning I see to suggest one or the other). On the other hand, if you actually offered up some blood sweat tears and treasure to regain the MHG, I think things might improve dramatically. But I know, idealist/realist/bla/bla/bla


Gerard van VoorenSeptember 1, 2014 1:44 AM

@ Skeptical

"What consequences of Clapper's statement exceed the combined harm committed by the various extremist groups I've mentioned?"

The harm has been very well explained by Douglas McClendon.

"There is justified killing and there is unjustified killing - unless you think there's no distinction between ISIS slaughtering innocents and killing ISIS to stop them from doing so."

About 150 years ago it was in some US states justified to hang a renegade black slave. Do you still believe that was justified killing?

What we see now is a lot of "collateral damage" which means innocent people being killed because of US bombings. The fact remains that someone deliberately dropped that bomb or pulled the trigger, with the intention to kill.

Justified killing is in the eye of the believer. In the end it is killing in the name of.

If you talk about justified, the invasion of Iraq wasn't justified. That is crystal clear. It was based on lies.

Wikileaks, Manning and now Isis are a direct result of the invasion of Iraq. Gitmo and the torturing is a direct result of the invasion of Afghanistan.

What will be the direct result of starting a war against Isis?

I don't have an answer to that question. Do you?

And if you talk about justice, where does Clappers lying under oath to Congress relates to "... and justice for all"?

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 1, 2014 2:05 AM

Adding to my previous post:

"What will be the direct result of starting a war against Isis?"

The answer for the Military Industrial Complex would be a financial boost, the global financial market will fluctuate and the price for oil will also fluctuate.

For the rest, I don't know.

WinterSeptember 1, 2014 7:14 AM

Gerard van Vooren
"About 150 years ago it was in some US states justified to hang a renegade black slave. Do you still believe that was justified killing?

What we see now is a lot of "collateral damage" which means innocent people being killed because of US bombings. The fact remains that someone deliberately dropped that bomb or pulled the trigger, with the intention to kill."


This accounts to the moral question: Is it allowed to kill a person to stop others from being killed?

More specifically, is it allowed to kill a person who is about to kill other people?

Currently, the USA are involved in attempts to kill armed ISIS troops in combat. The ISIS troops are involved in mass murders, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.

I fail to see any parallel with the hanging of a non-violent "renegade black slave". On the contrary, I consider it disingenuous to compare an innocent victim of racial violence to ISIS combat troops engaging in war crimes.

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 1, 2014 10:52 AM

@ Winter

Ok, it draws to two questions:

1. Is it allowed to kill a person who is about to kill other people?

That question I can't answer.

2. Currently, the USA are involved in attempts to kill armed ISIS troops in combat. The ISIS troops are involved in mass murders, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.

This question I can answer. I have a disclaimer here too: I hate what's going on there!

But,

2.1) Ask yourself why is this on camera? There are lots of places in the world where this kind of things are going on. So why is this on camera? And once I hear the word Oil Field I am starting to get suspicious. Oil seems to me a very good reason for intervention. The US does NOT have a good reputation when it comes to helping people in need!

2.2) The 1991 Gulf war didn't work out very well for the Kurds in Iraq. The US let them down. Why don't we hear about that? [1][2]

2.3) Again, the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Lies galore. [3]


Let me tell you: If there is gonna be a US intervention, the disguise could be helping people in need, but the real reason is oil.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_uprisings_in_Iraq#U.S._non-intervention_controversy
[2] In 1996, Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted in his book My American Journey that, while Bush's rhetoric "may have given encouragement to the rebels", "our practical intention was to leave Baghdad enough power to survive as a threat to Iran that remained bitterly hostile toward the United States."
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationale_for_the_Iraq_War

Nick PSeptember 1, 2014 11:43 AM

@ Gerard

I think you're making a lot of bad comparisons. ISIS forces are doing worse things than U.S. usually does in wars of conquest. I have no problem with a country or organization destroying a group that crooked. Under my "greatest good" ethics, killing them spares scores of lives and that they're actively killing scores of people makes the decision to use violence easy.

That said, I think people's counterargument of "killing to stop killing" is short-sighted. You're onto the reason: murder and oppression all over the world that the United States ignores, even does some business with. Then, the U.S. and cameras point to a specific spot in the Middle East proclaiming we can't let horrible stuff go on there. We might need to do a full military response. What do these places have in common? Oil. And a number of former intelligence officers and even military generals have admitted we mostly go to war for resources/money.

It's worth keeping in mind in situations like this. Are we really worried about ISIS because of their horrible actions? Are we concerned with stability and our strategic position in the Middle East? Are we worried they could affect oil? These are legitimate questions to ask in this situation. Regardless, though, I'm not going to defend an organization like ISIS even if U.S. had bad motives. Another major invasion like Iraq might kill more innocent people than ISIS, like we did in Iraq (sources range 200,000-1mil). So long as they send minimal conventional force with mostly focused strikes I'd be fine with it.

Hell, I've seen many friends post online that they'd go over there right now if asked to. Military or "private military company," there's plenty of people here volunteering to go kill some ISIS.

AnuraSeptember 2, 2014 7:36 PM

@Nick P

ISIS is a situation I'm not sure how to deal with because the US overthrowing Iraq is why we are in this situation today, and I'm not sure we can do anything but delay the inevitable. If we really want to solve the problems of the world, military interventions don't seem to be very successful.

The problem is that right now the US has a well-earned reputation of being an imperialist nation that got rich by exploiting others. There are two wars, the military war and the war to win hearts and minds, and our failure is in the latter. Until we can change our image, I don't think we can solve anything through military force in the long run; we can delay and displace, but not stop these kinds of groups.

If we want to win the war in the Middle East, we need to start by finding places that are willing to accept our help and building nations in a humanitarian manner. Let's subsidize infrastructure development in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and less hostile parts of Asia. If we took $200bn per year from the military budget and used it to help these places improve their infrastructure (through subsidies, and without asking anything in return) so they could have a long term solution to poverty without relying on ongoing foreign aid, we would do a lot more good in the world than we ever can with bombs and bullets.

Only when we show the Middle East what we are willing to do for the rest of the world will we are able to win the hearts and minds of the people. Only then can we see some hope for peace and freedom in the Middle East. As long as we are exploiting impoverished people, extremism will continue to flourish.

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 3, 2014 3:55 AM

@ Nick P

"Hell, I've seen many friends post online that they'd go over there right now if asked to. Military or "private military company," there's plenty of people here volunteering to go kill some ISIS."

Why wait until being asked? If you believe that ISIS needs to be dealt with right now, why not book a ticket to Baghdad, organize, buy some weapons and do it?

Why would you let someone else decide for whether *you* are gonna fight?

Is it because that someone else is also gonna be shot at or is it because that someone else is gonna pay the bills or is it because they can't make decisions of their own?

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 3, 2014 4:42 AM

Adding to my previous post:

To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket:
  1. We must take the profit out of war;
  2. We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war;
  3. We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.

From War is a Racket by General Smedley D. Butler (1935)

Nick PSeptember 3, 2014 7:27 AM

@ Gerard

" it because that someone else is gonna pay the bills"

If war is declared official, the govt will pay the expenses *and* volunteers don't go to prison for murder. So, waiting is the smartest choice for such people.

SkepticalSeptember 4, 2014 2:34 PM


More members of Congress from both parties are signalling that they would approve, and may introduce themselves, a resolution authorizing the use of military force against ISIL.

@Douglas McClendon: Also, twice you seemed to imply that ISIS could be "got rid of" or "mopped up" with military force.

I did not recommend military force alone. I urged that ISIL should be undercut in every possible way with a broad coalition formed from the breadth of the Middle East and the world. I urged that Muslim clerics everywhere ought condemn them, and that governments everywhere ought condemn them. There should be no question in anyone's mind, anywhere, that this is a group without religious legitimacy, without respect, without honor - a gang of vicious louts and cultists.

But currently ISIL has money, weapons, and the organization to use them. That makes them powerful, and unfortunately any ideology, once joined with some measure of power, however fleeting, will attract recruits.

So the light that is cast upon their lack of legitimacy must be joined with the destruction of their ability to wage war. That means both protecting populations not currently within their grip, and eviscerating their ability to maintain what they currently hold.

SkepticalSeptember 4, 2014 3:01 PM


@Douglas McClendon: Push a magic button, make all their heads explode, and I'm sure that 10 years from now the strategic situation will be basically unaffected (maybe better, maybe worse, no strong reasoning I see to suggest one or the other). On the other hand, if you actually offered up some blood sweat tears and treasure to regain the MHG, I think things might improve dramatically. But I know, idealist/realist/bla/bla/bla

@Anura: Only when we show the Middle East what we are willing to do for the rest of the world will we are able to win the hearts and minds of the people. Only then can we see some hope for peace and freedom in the Middle East. As long as we are exploiting impoverished people, extremism will continue to flourish.

The problem with these arguments is that they assume anti-Americanism is at the heart of groups like ISIL. It's not.

The existence of groups like ISIL is not the result of a referendum on the foreign policy of the United States. They cannot be defeated or prevented by simply doing acts of charity.

ISIL emerged because both because its brand of religious extremism remains a viable ideology in many parts of the world, because it gained sufficient funding and attention from organizing individuals and groups who either believe as they do, or who use them, and finally because there was no entity powerful enough to oppose them. Extremist groups like ISIL do not hold town hall meetings at which all are invited to share their grievances; they offer instead a simple choice to those they encounter: obey or die.

No one has the power to persuade every person on the planet that such ideologies are worthless, and no one has the power to stabilize every part of the earth and ensure it has responsible governance.

Lawless areas of the world will be with us for some time. Within those areas, extremist groups will be able to grow and amass power. Time and development will ultimately resolve that problem, but in the meantime the best that we can do is manage and contain the problem.

Many lines of effort will be needed to manage and contain it. Development and foreign aid are the tools used in some of those lines; missiles and bullets are the tools used in others. None alone will be sufficient. And good intelligence is necessary for all.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 4, 2014 4:25 PM

@ Skeptical,

When looking at the problem of ISIS / IS it is sometimes helpfull to compare and contrast them with other --on first glance-- unrelated groups else where.

Try for instance the various drugs cartels in south America and the effect they have all the way up to and including the boarder areas of the US.

You might be very surprised with how it effects your thinking with respect to both groups whilst also highlighting actions that might ot might not work and why.

SkepticalSeptember 4, 2014 8:17 PM

@Clive: I agree completely. I think exercises like that are incredibly useful, especially for catching one's own biases and unexamined assumptions.

Did you have particular parameters in mind?


NovaSeptember 5, 2014 12:24 PM

@Skeptical, et al, on IS

IS is a cult and thinks like an Islamist cult. That is where their momentum in, in the legitimacy of God backing them as "proven" by the successes of their actions, regardless of how violent they may be. The sunshine policy does not work with them -- they hate just about everything there is about Western, secular culture. It is atheistic and hedonistic.

They have many critics, critics on all sides really. But they have a very strong cult "branding", which is sure to continue to attract many converts.

Cults will sometimes rest and effectively retire, enjoying the fruits of their labor, but this is highly unlikely with IS. Rather, their fire is going and then need more oil for it, which has to be done by international attention through successful attacks. Successful attacks for them mean "God is backing us against the victim".

If they stop from that direction, they will splinter. Their leader will lose his legitimacy. Shiite, Sunni, the whole world is against them. Their argument is at the core that God is backing them, and to be against them is to be faithless.

The US won't go in, because they can not. They would have to send in a lot of troops and they would have to deal with them. They are as kamikazes. There are also strong political reasons the US can not go in.

That is the only solution to stopping them.

Right now, this is not a global disaster. Likely, it will become one, by one way or another.


Clive RobinsonSeptember 5, 2014 6:48 PM

@ Skeptical,

First off sorry for not getting back to you sooner things are a bit chaotic at the moment, with what looks like "a bad frat house" next door...

With regards,

    Did you have particular parameters in mind?

Quite a lot across the entire life cycle of the organisations.

But the relevent step currently is "why people join the organisation", broadly they fall into those who do it by choice and those with no choice.

The latter group can be seen as victims of location and events, whilst the former can be seen as invaders of the location causing events by which they derive some bennift. Which is usually at the expense not just of those who were already in the location but also from others well outside of the location.

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