Policy Repercussions of the Paris Terrorist Attacks

In 2013, in the early days of the Snowden leaks, Harvard Law School professor and former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith reflected on the increase in NSA surveillance post 9/11. He wrote:

Two important lessons of the last dozen years are (1) the government will increase its powers to meet the national security threat fully (because the People demand it), and (2) the enhanced powers will be accompanied by novel systems of review and transparency that seem to those in the Executive branch to be intrusive and antagonistic to the traditional national security mission, but that in the end are key legitimating factors for the expanded authorities.

Goldsmith is right, and I think about this quote as I read news articles about surveillance policies with headlines like "Political winds shifting on surveillance after Paris attacks?"

The politics of surveillance are the politics of fear. As long as the people are afraid of terrorism -- regardless of how realistic their fears are -- they will demand that the government keep them safe. And if the government can convince them that it needs this or that power in order to keep the people safe, the people will willingly grant them those powers. That's Goldsmith's first point.

Today, in the wake of the horrific and devastating Paris terror attacks, we're at a pivotal moment. People are scared, and already Western governments are lining up to authorize more invasive surveillance powers. The US want to back-door encryption products in some vain hope that the bad guys are 1) naive enough to use those products for their own communications instead of more secure ones, and 2) too stupid to use the back doors against the rest of us. The UK is trying to rush the passage of legislation that legalizes a whole bunch of surveillance activities that GCHQ has already been doing to its own citizens. France just gave its police a bunch of new powers. It doesn't matter that mass surveillance isn't an effective anti-terrorist tool: a scared populace wants to be reassured.

And politicians want to reassure. It's smart politics to exaggerate the threat. It's smart politics to do something, even if that something isn't effective at mitigating the threat. The surveillance apparatus has the ear of the politicians, and the primary tool in its box is more surveillance. There's minimal political will to push back on those ideas, especially when people are scared.

Writing about our country's reaction to the Paris attacks, Tom Engelhardt wrote:

...the officials of that security state have bet the farm on the preeminence of the terrorist 'threat,' which has, not so surprisingly, left them eerily reliant on the Islamic State and other such organizations for the perpetuation of their way of life, their career opportunities, their growing powers, and their relative freedom to infringe on basic rights, as well as for that comfortably all-embracing blanket of secrecy that envelops their activities.

Goldsmith's second point is more subtle: when these power increases are made in public, they're legitimized through bureaucracy. Together, the scared populace and their scared elected officials serve to make the expanded national security and law enforcement powers normal.

Terrorism is singularly designed to push our fear buttons in ways completely out of proportion to the actual threat. And as long as people are scared of terrorism, they'll give their governments all sorts of new powers of surveillance, arrest, detention, and so on, regardless of whether those powers actually combat the threat. This means that those who want those powers need a steady stream of terrorist attacks to enact their agenda. It's not that these people are actively rooting for the terrorists, but they know a good opportunity when they see it.

We know that the PATRIOT Act was largely written before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and that the political climate was right for its introduction and passage. More recently:

Although "the legislative environment is very hostile today," the intelligence community's top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, said to colleagues in an August e-mail, which was obtained by The Post, "it could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement."

The Paris attacks could very well be that event.

I am very worried that the Obama administration has already secretly told the NSA to increase its surveillance inside the US. And I am worried that there will be new legislation legitimizing that surveillance and granting other invasive powers to law enforcement. As Goldsmith says, these powers will be accompanied by novel systems of review and transparency. But I have no faith that those systems will be effective in limiting abuse any more than they have been over the last couple of decades.

EDITED TO ADD (12/14): Trevor Timm is all over this issue. Dan Gillmor wrote something good, too.

Posted on November 24, 2015 at 6:32 AM • 152 Comments

Comments

Clive RobinsonNovember 24, 2015 7:10 AM

@ Bruce,

It's not that these people are actively rooting for the terrorists, but they know a good opportunity when they see it.

There are two ways you can help something along. Firstly by actively getting involved an pushing it. The second by apparently doibg nothing, but actually covertly witholding impediments to it's progress.

I would make a small wager that the MIC is upto it's eyeballs in the latter. They have had billions to trillions of appropriations and fifteen years of getting the legislation they want.

What have the people had in return?

One conviction for terrorism that was not terrorism and shovel full afyer shovel full of excuses and asking for more resources.

Nobody in that sort of position is that stupid to rely on the luck of terrorist action the stakes are way way to high.

Thus if they are not actively pushing the terrorists as they have in the past, then they are facilitating what they are doing by ensuring they can commit the attacks with the minimum of obstacles.

Take your choice, push, clear or both, I'll put money on the second but favour the third.

mike~ackerNovember 24, 2015 7:21 AM

the primordal instinct for any creature -- and government is a creature -- is survival. in the case of government a critical element of survival is repression of opposition: dissidents -- particularly those leading and developing dissent -- and journalists -- who may publish information -- not approved for publication -- by the government .

surveillance then is the government's first defense against these threats -- necessary to identify opposition -- so that such opposition can be "neutralized"

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
William Pitt

when opposition to government is not spontaneous is is manufactured -- we call such manufactured opposition "agents provacateur"

SpartanusNovember 24, 2015 8:07 AM

At least in the US there is SOME sort of public debate about these issues. In France, it seems, everything is almost unanimous, "national unity" and other such meaningless (in this security setting) slogans take the place of arguments and discussions. Took them less than a week to pass this emergency legislation, with only 6 (!) deputies, I think, voting against it.

Jason Richardson-WhiteNovember 24, 2015 8:28 AM

I was on LinkedIn until recently. More than just a place to advertise a resume, it is a place where you can make contacts and debate geopolitics, religion, or anything else under the sun. And I did.

By the end, I had a network of over 3,000 "1st-degree" contacts with more than 30,000,000 "3rd-degree" contacts (a gain of 10000 -- nice ratio, in my opinion). At the time that I deleted my LinkedIn profile, my 3rd-degree contacts covered something like 10% of LinkedIn's entire user base of 300,000,000.

Through a bit of beginning luck (one early invitation from a key trusted intelligence figure), I made many contacts in the intelligence business. These contacts I found interesting, part of a world I previously only glimpsed through movies and novels. I had many satisfying interactions and conversations over the course of several years.

However, at many points, I wondered how many of my contacts had one of the following terms (or other contacts) in their current job titles:

Counterterrorism, Counterinsurgency, Counterradicalization, Counterextremism, Terrorist (as in "such-and-such Terrorist Task Force"), and so on.

I can say safely that the number was very large -- exceeding 10,000 surely -- in just my own network of visible contacts.

Bruce is surely right that, for some percentage of that large number of people, "defeating" terrorism would mean the end of a career. Personally, I can't help but believe that most of these people are thoughtful enough to be aware of this fact and to understand that they will need to transition away from the terrorist fight "after it is won".

Unfortunately, like terrorists, some counterterrorist professionals are doubtless in it "for life" -- they have fallen into that natural trap in which a means becomes an end-in-itself. This happens to humans - a lot! Do something long enough, and it supplants the original goal, whatever it was. More can be said here, but this is essentially a biological inheritance, an evolutionary endowment of which we must be wary.

In this particular case, what would it mean to "win" a fight against an approach? Somehow, the entire *approach* of "terrorism" has to be discredited. It would not be nearly enough to kill the current generation of terrorists. Realistically speaking, there will always be people willing to take up the approach, because the surprise of it will always induce some terror in some people. It will never cease being an *option*.

So, discrediting it means promoting alternatives that are more viable. In addition, it will be necessary to find meaningful work for all those people who are so fully immersed in fighting this horrific... means -- lest the means to fighting terrorism also should be come ends-in-themselves. And lest the idea should be planted that we can prevent all terrorism forever with sufficient controls...

Regarding alternatives, I favor an approach in which diplomacy is used to reach out to the Arabic world to reassure those who have been deceived into believing that "the West" is out to "get Islam". At any rate, there are a very *large*, probably *majority* percentage that are not. I have known some moderate Muslims, certainly online, and found their company interesting and amiable, even if I wouldn't be interested in taking up their faith or living in an Arabic culture (one of many ethnicities that are predominantly Muslim).

In the end, we want Arab Muslims, and all other Muslims, to accept pluralism. Those who won't and *must* force their religion on others are in for a fight, no doubt. But the majority of Muslims, certainly most Muslims living in the West, have accepted a more liberal view in which "jihad" means something like "self-mastery".

If these reflections have any relevance here, it is that *global security* -- in the sense of a peace through good security architecture -- will require that we do more than *merely* stave off ***both*** the terrorists ***and*** the surveillance state. It will require that we give *both* an "out" -- another way.

Perhaps because Bruce's profession has always been about encryption and using it to save people from undue surveillance *and* from undue fear of it, the debate on this blog generally revolves around the ***individualist*** approach of protecting citizens from the power of the state, of criminals, or others who want to invade privacy, exfiltrate and misuse information, etc.

But I suspect that genuine rapprochement will be needed to get there. It won't be a technological solution, in the end, but a human one. In particular, it won't be *enough* to have universal, untampered strong encryption.

AndrewNovember 24, 2015 8:29 AM

I disagree with you Bruce. It's not smart politics to exaggerate the threat. It's opportunistic and it's unethical. Yes, it's true that when horrible terrorist events happen, either locally or abroad, as patriots of freedom, we feel the need to do something because they attempt to destroy our way of life or those of our allies. But swift decision making often overlooks key aspects of the problem because we want to hurry and remedy the problem without considering why the problem popped up in the first place. These band-aid solutions become future problems because they, at heart, don't solve the issue. Whats worse, the decision makers who implement these band-aid solutions have ulterior motives and they consider them at every step. What will my voters think? Will this affect my re-election? They don't worry about doing the right thing, because they are too worried about being politically correct.

Our political system has become a theater where the politicians seemingly act in our best interest, and the American people gobble it up without question. We gobble it up because we are scared, but it's also because we are complacent; when things hit the fan, we point the finger to a particular person or party as if this somehow justifies our choice of pushing back on ideas and remedies the problem. How do we fight back against these unethical and opportunistic politicians? I think we are on the right track with our fight against back-door encryption but surely there must be more we can do.

AlanSNovember 24, 2015 9:11 AM

@Bruce

Expanding on your point about normalization:

It's interesting that you don't use the terms "state of emergency" or "state of exception". In a democracy sometimes there are crises that require the temporary use of emergency powers but that's not what's going on here. Under a state of emergency powers would be given back. But Obama didn't roll back Bush's new powers; he legalized them and even expanded them. With each crisis powers just accrue to the executive and are never returned. The new powers become the new normal. And worse, the need for continuing crises (real, exaggerated, or imagined) becomes the new normal as crisis becomes the means by which the executive acts. What you don't state explicitly is that the logic of the process over time is pathological: there is slow but on-going concentration of power in the executive and an undermining of checks and balances.

For discussion see: Balkin, Jack, and Sanford Levinson. Constitutional Dictatorship: Its Dangers and Its Design. (PDF) Minn. L. Rev. 94 (2010).

Every republic known to the Framers-many of whom were steeped in ancient history-had eventually broken down and led to government by a strongman such as Julius Caesar. The lesson of the past seemed to be that the natural progression of popular governments was toward demagoguery and eventually tyranny; the most obvious example to the founding generation was the ill-fated English Revolution in 1640 and the rise of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector. Therefore, it was crucial to build institutional features like the separation of powers and checks and balances to keep America's experiment with republican government safe from the same fate as previous attempts....Emergency powers may well be necessary to effective governance in a modern state. But precisely because of the growth of emergency powers and other forms of executive discretion in American legal institutions-not to mention the unhappy fate of many other republics-one cannot be sure that the sometimes haphazard expansion of executive discretion and emergency power pose no dangers to the United States. We have no reason to think that Americans possess a special immunity from the pathologies that have befallen many other countries.

GweihirNovember 24, 2015 9:15 AM

@Andrew: I think Bruce means "smart politics" in the sense that it furthers the goal of all politics, which is accumulation of more and more power. Ethical aspects do not come into it. Quite obviously, with very few exceptions, all politicians of note today are not into doing anything right or beneficial for their voters, they are into staying in office and getting more power.

Mr. BeanNovember 24, 2015 9:19 AM

@ Bruce Schneier

Honest question to you: What can we do about it?

I mean, when will this political exploitation of terrorism for surveilllance agendas end? I think, today we can observe the limits of our human species more than ever before. We are not built to *not* beeing fooled by both terrorists and the government. We are not built to resist our biased fears. The era of enlightment brought us the illusion that the majority of us could develop enough intellectual capacities to be resilient.

A/RES/20/2131 ¶2November 24, 2015 9:20 AM

Goldsmith's point (1) is a concise restatement of the strategy of tension. Goldsmith naturally stops short of explaining the government's role and interest in the 'national security threat.' For that you have to go to Sibel Edmond's court testimony and the government documents she identifies.

The root cause of both terror and repression is CIA impunity for armed attacks on civilian populations. Until you tackle CIA impunity, terror and repression intensify each other. This how CIA governs at home and abroad: attack the population as a pretext for increased repression. The subject population of the NATO bloc can't control the CIA regime, it's sewed up tight as North Korea. The only possible brake is the SCO, and they know it. It's going to take a war.

HJohnNovember 24, 2015 9:21 AM

@"we point the finger to a particular person or party as if this somehow justifies our choice of pushing back on ideas and remedies the problem"
____________

I think this is key. There are many layers and parties to opportunism.

When tragedy strikes, leaders may see opportunity to expand their own power. Also, they may be hit with "how did you let this happen?" "why didn't you prevent this?", their political opponents may very well question their competence for political gain. Remember the "connect the dots" discussions, where many people looked at dots after the fact (that are now numbered and easy to trace backwards), and act as if it were that simple beforehand.

So leaders, regardless of party, may see opportunity, may have pressure to do more, and may also be under fire from the opportunistic opponents seeking to make them look as if they should have prevented something if they were more competent.

It would take a person of remarkable resolve to have the entire country looking to them to do more to keep them safe, and to say s/he can't. And it is unfair to hold a person or party accountable for something without giving them the resources to handle it, which is why we just need to accept that bad things will inevitably happen... and our leaders should do the same.

My main point is that opportunism isn't limited to just the leaders that seem to be in charge when something happens, but to the opportunists that seek to use it against them (Obama and Bush have both been targets of this).

And I reemphasize, this isn't a political point or confirmed to either of our two major political divisions. The USA PATRIOT Act, a truly bad law, passed the Senate 98-1. That's a nearly unanimous bipartisan abomination, and neither side can absolve the other.

Text is hard. I'm sure I'll be misunderstood. But that's how it goes.

steveNovember 24, 2015 9:40 AM

The visible political actions are the tip of the iceberg. Is the DELL laptop fiasco accidently on purpose, or the result of incompetence? Anybody can spew their opinion but the truth is that you and I will never know.

"I am very worried that the Obama administration has already secretly told the NSA to increase its surveillance inside the US." See! The paranoia is inescapable, even by those who recognize fear is itself an enemy.

BoppingAroundNovember 24, 2015 9:51 AM

Dunno. I don't have much faith that 'my' — for it isn't mine really — government can protect me.

PonyAdvocateNovember 24, 2015 10:25 AM

"... the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

-- Hermann Göring

NobodyNovember 24, 2015 10:44 AM

Re: "worried that the Obama administration has already secretly told the NSA to increase its surveillance inside the US."

Absolutely.

Right after Paris my computer started balking and belching when surfing sites with DHS hot list words articles were pulled up. It appears there is real time scanning

going on, and if the right combination of buzz words appears the connection is turned over to a real person for analysis and intervention.

Recently I have seen two articles vaporize before my very eyes that covered politically sensitive topics. One was on security for the Pope visit.

The are 10s of thousands of American employees paid to conduct internet surveillance. How many speak Farsi, Arabic, Pashtun? That's right, next to none. So,

the conduct mass surveillance on English speaking people. And that's not really about terrorism. It's about general law enforcement as made all legal by the

federal edicts in the last 14 years. Yes, the War on Drugs lives LARGE as always.

They can't do everyone at once, so there are certain sites under scrutiny and otherwise they carve out scan targets by, for example, zip code. When you have so

many people making a living spying on Americans it creates support and momentum to do more. The STASI never had any problems recruiting spies, it was on

way to make a living.

Frankly, the average American could care less about any of this. They aren't scared. They are stupid.

Meanwhile, smart terrs and crooks find it easy to avoid electronics or scrutiny when cooking up the next plan. The dumb ones get caught whether

electronics is involved, or not.

(I could not post this comment because it "timed out" three times. Found a way around that. Why did it get timed out ?? BTW on TOR.)

Johns1067November 24, 2015 11:19 AM

I read some comments about the increase in surveillance and intrusiveness by the government being a direct result of the fear of terrorism. Who defines who the terrorists are?? The very same government who wants to monitor it's citizens! I ask this question how much does the "average" American, while in our country, have to worry about a direct impact on them from a terrorist event. When the dolts in charge try to justify the party line of increased surveillance because they have stopped "a huge number" of terrorist act on US soil..... well prove it I say! They cannot point to a single instance of a release of carefully sanitized details of what they stopped as it "would release secret details" of the operation.

I sometimes think this is all a self perpetuating folly to enshrine the government as "Father and Mother" and "they know what's best". Hmmm sounds familiar what dictator paraphrased this.........

I really appreciate the government protecting from womb to tomb... really (not) One of the posters said that it is the terrorists we fear... sorry my terrorists are the Government as of late. So where does that leave us? The terrorists such as ISIS/Al Qaeda/et al have already won their battle partially. Look at what you have to do to fly or even sending an email, also there is no recourse once you are on the no fly list..... piss a bureaucrat off and you can't fly ever again. Secret courts in our land...... holy crap where did that come shades of Stalin.

The foreign terrorists have already changed our way of life and yet we cheer when the yoke of oppression is fitted firmly across our back (Sorry stole that from RAH) by our elected officials.

I for one am quite happy to take care of myself and my family without Uncle Sugar snooping into my cake recipes etc. I can live in a world where people have the right to privacy and encryption at the cost of it appearing to be less safe.

Good luck to all of us!


JS

DanielNovember 24, 2015 11:47 AM

So how do we combat the narrative of fear? We can quote statistics all we want and people ignore them. We can call on others to question authority but human gullibility seems endless. So how do we turn the tide?

I agree with you post Bruce but it seems like hand wringing. What do we do that isn't just "doing something" in return?

albertNovember 24, 2015 12:24 PM

The Great Paris Attack was a mere ripple in the pond of geo-politics, but it was enough to get the results the politicians wanted.
.
Why are folks surprised about the 'Patriot'* Act being written before 2001? No doubt the most draconian violation of civil liberties so far. It sailed through Congress. Take a look at the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Passed after the Oklahoma City incident. How about the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, passed after the WTC bombing. The history behind all three attacks stinks to high heaven. There's nothing like a bombing to get the wheels of Congress rolling.
.
I disagree with fear being a factor in Congress. The only thing those people fear is losing the next election.
.
France is another matter. They have a huge Muslim population. How are they going to watch all those folks? It's not just the vacationers from Syria they need to worry about.
.
Something needs to break this positive feedback loop before the organism dies.
.
It'll be interesting to see how far it goes before lights out.
............
* I guess it's time to redefine 'patriot'
. .. . .. _ _ _ ....

MikeNovember 24, 2015 1:32 PM

I see the all encompassing surveillance as a direct violation of the 4th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”

There is no warrant, because there is no probable cause. If there was a warrant, it would have be for a search of "all forms of communication everywhere". No judge with her or his brain functioning is going to sign off on that.

I really don't care that somebody is reading my communication, even my encrypted communication, if there is a warrant. But if there is no warrant, then we are trampling on the Constitution to allow carte-blanche surveillance.

We will have potentially turned everyone at the NSA or CIA or fill-in-the-blank organization, into another J. Edgar Hoover. Robert's Rules of Blackmail may become the biggest best seller of all time (if we can get someone named Robert to write it).

Hey officials, when you swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, do you mean all of it or just the parts of it that you personally approve of (if any)?

glorioskieNovember 24, 2015 1:47 PM

Spartanus, this is what 9/11 was in the U.S.

Heaven forbid you ask who would benefit from the PATRIOT act, where the terrorists came from (Charlie Wilson's War) why expanding, probably just codifying already running programs in domestic surveillance (NSA-AT&T trunk clone) is the best path forward.

Oh no. You were either with us or against us, so lets commit flesh and blood to a region that has been THE symbolic end to super-power dominance for 50+ years. And regime change in Iraq could not have been any easier to spot.

Try to tell anyone that at the time and you WERE the enemy.


Most importantly, everyone has seem to forgotten these are Western countries that are already coordinating domestic spying to circumvent domestic law. They are already awash in information. Some of the characters were already apparently on "no fly" lists. Instead the answer is they need expanded powers. Get back to me when you can use the information you already collect/share/analyze more usefully.

Dirk PraetNovember 24, 2015 4:03 PM

@ AlanS

With each crisis powers just accrue to the executive and are never returned. The new powers become the new normal. And worse, the need for continuing crises becomes the new normal as crisis becomes the means by which the executive acts.

Absolutely spot-on, Alan. And thanks for the pointer to that .pdf .

As for the situation in France, there seems to be some misunderstanding. President Hollande did NOT press for more mass surveilance or a ban on encryption. They already adopted some pretty intrusive new surveillance legislation a while ago. And contrary to what happened in the US after 9/11, and is still ongoing, most of the proposed and adopted new legislation - if my understand is correct - is to take effect only under a state of emergency.

I personally believe that most of the measures announced over the last week are commensurate with the current threat level France is facing. What they indeed fall short of is constitutional review, the problem here being that most western democracies just do not have any legal framework in place to appropriately deal with the acts of asymetric urban warfare they are now confronted with. The second shortcoming in my opinion is that the problem again is not being named by its correct name: we are not dealing with terrorism, but with salafism. Specifically targetting salafism and related ideologies in legislative and other texts would constitute a fine safeguard to prevent broad interpretations thereof to be used against entirely different groups and for entirely different purposes.

Like nazism, salafism is a scourge that is completely incompatible with our democratic values and that should be banned and eradicated from our societies. Many gullible youths from North African and Arab descent in our countries are drawn to it for perfectly valid societal reasons like lack of identity, opportunity, purpose or perspective, but these problems will take decades to resolve. While it is absolutely necessary for us to look into our own mirror and work harder on these, a firm line has to be drawn. Anyone either preaching or turning to salafism should no longer be welcome here and is either free to leave or become an outlaw and be removed from society.

In doing so, we would also send a clear message to Saudi Arabia that however much we may need their oil, we will no longer allow them to quietly export a medieval ideology fueling hatred and discord on a continent that already has more than enough problems integrating and assimilating successive waves of Muslim immigrants. Most of whom want nothing more than to live in peace and harmony with the original population. And therein also lies a critical task for religious and spiritual leaders in Muslim communities in that they should be much more vocal in denouncing religious extremism as well as purging their own backyard from radicalised elements.

This morning, one of the Belgian Green parties - traditionally associated with the far left and lead by a female party leader from Turkish descent - has formally called upon the Belgian government to immediately suspend all trade relations with and investments in "the rogue state of Saudi Arabia" pending a full review of our diplomatic relations with a country "that is poisoning the entire Middle East with its fundamentalist agenda and is a known sponsor of international terrorism". I think it's a message all of our European governments should indeed give some serious thought.

Rufo Guerreschi November 24, 2015 4:15 PM

1.We should all wear shirts with this facts written on it: "Terrorism is horrific, but you are 1000 times more likely tp be killed in a car crach than by a terrorists.

2. We should try harder to see if there are way to enable legitimate lawful access while providing unprecedented and meaningful e-privacy. If we tell people it's either privacy or safety, they'll choose safety. Let's ask ourselves: what havoc could some criminals abd terrorist cause if really they could, unlike today, communicate remotely without the virtual certainty of being intercepted, and without havibg to resort to "speaking in code" over unencrypted channels?!

WaelNovember 24, 2015 4:46 PM

@Dirk Praet,

we are not dealing with terrorism, but with salafism

Salafism has different categories. You probably meant "Salafi jihadists" -- a term that was coined by a French political scientist.

Dirk PraetNovember 24, 2015 6:03 PM

@ Wael

You probably meant "Salafi jihadists" -- a term that was coined by a French political scientist.

Thanks for that. Reading up on the different categories of salafism, and being a firm proponent of an absolute separation between religion and state, I mean both the jihadists and the political activists. As to the "quietists", and however much I believe everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, they really should ask themselves if the west is actually the right place to be for them. I can't possibly imagine a neo-nazi or a gay person being able to live a happy life in Qatar or Saudi Arabia either.

tyrNovember 24, 2015 6:18 PM


I seem to recall that Congress was all fed Cipro a
very interesting antibiotic first. One of its side
effects is to derange the mental state of the person
using it. Then they were presented with thousands of
pages of law enforcement schemes which had been
rejected previously in a neat package called the
Patriot Act. As the cries to "doo something" rose
the drug addled looneys signed off on it without
reading it. This method of doing business is called
politics and governance and is truly "exceptional".

Like Clive my bet is on the second set of involvement
based only on the historical track record of the IC.

If I recall rightly jihad translates to struggle but
some translated it as holy war.

Based on the hospital attack in Afghanistan we are on
the road to a Vietnam style pullout, when the troops
consider everyone of the natives an enemy nothing goes
well after that point.

DanielNovember 24, 2015 6:27 PM

@Dirk P.

As to the "quietists", and however much I believe everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, they really should ask themselves if the west is actually the right place to be for them.

That's a immature thing to say. I have a lot of respect for sufi monks. In reality, they are almost identical in every way to Catholic monks in terms of their daily lives and practices. Your comment sounds exactly like the whining I've heard from some conservative Catholics that it was wrong to elect a monk to the Papacy.

I too believe in a strong separation of church and state but a separation is just that--apart--not a complete elimination.

WaelNovember 24, 2015 6:29 PM

@Dirk Praet,

As to the "quietists", and however much I believe everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, they really should ask themselves if the west is actually the right place to be for them.

That's a valid point. A lot of them do.

WaelNovember 24, 2015 6:32 PM

@Dirk Praet,

. I can't possibly imagine a neo-nazi or a gay person being able to live a happy life in Qatar or Saudi Arabia either.

Saudi Arabia, probably true. Qatar? You'd be surprised.

TreNovember 24, 2015 6:42 PM

I'm curious how much money would need to go into a marketing campaign to shift public opinion on the threat of terrorism to something closer to reality.

WaelNovember 24, 2015 6:54 PM

@tyr,

If I recall rightly jihad translates to struggle but some translated it as holy war.

That's correct. There is no such expression as "Holly war" in Islam or Arabic. Roughly speaking, Jihad is a verb that comes from the root word "Juhd" which means power and capacity or effort (it's the word used for potential difference, as in voltage.) It's related to the the word "Jahd" which means "Hardship". Sometimes "Juhd" refers to mental effort, whereas "Jahd" refers to physical effort.

Ref: http://www.maajim.com/dictionary/جهد

I'm going to disengage from religious discussions from now on (unless it's a minor correction of terminology / concept or I have something amusing to say.) This is too much of a "Juhd" for me ;)

AlanSNovember 24, 2015 7:26 PM

@Dirk Praet, Daniel

Lots of populations believe they are exceptional. It usually involves selective history or crass ignorance. Delusional is a better term.

Dirk PraetNovember 24, 2015 7:42 PM

@ Daniel

I have a lot of respect for sufi monks. In reality, they are almost identical in every way to Catholic monks in terms of their daily lives and practices.

So do I. Sufism and salafism are two totally different interpretations of Islam. Salafism is associated with literalist, strict and puritanical approaches to Islam, whereas Sufism is associated with the use of prayer, music, dance and the teachings of Sufi masters to achieve a spiritual sense of the meaning of God. (@Wael, do correct me if I'm wrong)

@ Wael

Qatar? You'd be surprised.

Hmm. Perhaps a badly chosen example. Never been to Qatar, but if it's anything like Dubai - for which your word is good enough -, you may have a point. A guide once told us that everyone had the free choice to either go to the mosque or to the club. From what I saw there, one could get away with practically anything, as long as you didn't do it in public.

That's a valid point. A lot of them do.

As in contemplating if they belong there or believing that they do? If the latter, I'd be quite curious as to why as I really don't see any common ground whatsoever between their conception of society and ours. Anyway, no imposition. If you'd rather not discuss the issue, that's ok.

WaelNovember 24, 2015 7:57 PM

@Dirk Praet,

As in contemplating if they belong there or believing that they do? If the latter, I'd be quite curious as to why as I really don't see any common ground whatsoever between their conception of society and ours. Anyway, no imposition. If you'd rather not discuss the issue, that's ok.

You have to define what your concept of society is and what's their concept of society before you talk about the common ground. A lot of the "quietists" question thier ability to bring up a family "properly". But where they came from originally is screwed up and the corruption they see in their homelands is supported by the "west". You talk about "east" vs. "west" as if each of them is a homogeneous entity that agrees on everything. This isn't reality. But to be honest, sociology isn't my thing, and I'll get lost pretty quickly in this discussion...

I haven't been to either Qatar or Dubai, but I spend some years in Kuwait. The stories I hear and see from natives lead me to make the statement "you be surprised...".

Dirk PraetNovember 24, 2015 9:35 PM

@ Wael

You talk about "east" vs. "west" as if each of them is a homogeneous entity that agrees on everything.

I apologize if it came across like that, but that's definitely not what I meant. When I think about "our" concept of society, I think about democracy (or some sort thereof), freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, equality between men and women, secularism, that kind of stuff. I'm well aware that many Muslim (and other) migrants came over here for either political or economic reasons because their countries of origin were completely scr*wed up, often caused or seriously contributed to by western imperialism or foreign policy. And we're seeing it happening again as we speak.

It is also true that many immigrants, especially people of colour or with a Muslim background, were not always received well due to latent racism, lack of mutual understanding and failing government policies. Even to date, 3rd and 4th generation immigrants are struggling with language, identity, education and are not getting the same opportunities the original population or even other immigrant groups like Asians and Eastern Europeans are getting. I also get that many of them, especially youngsters, are particularly vulnerable and frustrated about their position in society, or rather lack thereof.

Still, and even though they're struggling, I see the majority accepting, many even embracing, our democratic and societal values without abandoning their cultural and religious roots, resulting in a sort of "European Islam" that most definitely has its place in today's multicultural European societies. Admittedly, there's still a very long way to go on that path, and which will take several more decades. Change does not come overnight, but in the end it is inevitable. For everybody.

The last thing we need, however, and which is becoming more and more clear, is white supremacists and proponents of salafist ideologies - both of which for their own reasons reject a peaceful cohabitation model - sabotage this process by sewing hatred and pitting communities against each other. And that is why I am growing increasingly convinced that neither of those can have any place in our societies and need to be eradicated just like we did with smallpocks and the plague.


WaelNovember 24, 2015 10:51 PM

@Dirk Praet,

I apologize if it came across like that, but that's definitely not what I meant.

No need to apologize! I guess I'll make this week the last I talk about religious things as there are some things in my queue that aren't finished.

I think about democracy (or some sort thereof), freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, equality between men and women, secularism, that kind of stuff.

Every country I've been to claimed to poses these "values", and this includes the few Arab countries I've been to. I don't remember hearing any of the countries saying: We are a dictatorship, there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, etc... But as you know, claims and actions aren't always convergent. It's the reason I keep making the joke: It's the ultimate freedom, baby! You are free to say what you like, and the government is free to do what they want to you! What more can you ask for?

I'm well aware that many Muslim (and other) migrants came over here for either political or economic reasons because their countries of origin were completely scr*wed up

And there are the contemptible ones too! When I visited Sweden the first time (I visited it 5 or 6 times for work purposes) on the first night at the hotel I heard gun shots (Malmö.) I thought it's a tire that blew up or something. The same night about 2:00AM I was walking next to the hotel when a bomb exploded. Long story short, it was someone from the Balkans who wanted to punish a store owner (another immigrant) for not paying "protection money". I found out later that in small Malmö 240+ languages are spoken. I also heard about some sort of a Swede sniper who shot several foreigners before he finally got caught. This was surprising to me. One day when I rode the bus to work, I saw a young child about 13 or 14 standing besides the bus, spitting at the window on one of the Swedes and making slash throat jesters to him (as if to say I will kill you) and the Swedish person just ignored him and kept smiling. I heard the child speaking in Arabic with an accent that I could identify which country he came from. I wanted to jump out of the bus and bitch slap him, but the bus driver wouldn't open the door. The passenger told me I would go to jail if I said anything to that child. Children can get away with murder there, literally. And they know it.

When I spoke to an Arab colleague in Sweden about this incident he said to me: what do you expect? These children came from chemical warfare environments! I told him Sweden accepted them as refugees, gave them jobs, AND they sent them to free schools to teach them Arabic so they don't lose their identities, and that's how they behave? Now I understand why the snipper is pissed. There are a lot of these stories that I witnessed. These were not "religious" people! They were nothing short of scumbags. It's a fundamental law in Islam that if one cannot abide by the law of the land, one isn't allowed to live in that land, and conversely if one lives in a land, one must follow the law of the land.

Then there are the people who migrate to have "other freedoms" that are not easily available in their place of origin. And there are of course the religious nutters. I wouldn't label them as Salafees, though. Labels, you see, are a dangerous thing.

@Clive Robinson,

I am still trying to watch the movie. YouTube says it requires payment, so I'll find another way to watch it.

Fascist NationNovember 24, 2015 11:56 PM

So how is this enforced?

Do we prohibit the end user from having an encrypting communications app on a device that has no backdoor?

Do we prohibit the ISP from having an encrypting communications app that has no backdoor available for download or purchase?

Do we prohibit a programmer from creating an encrypting communications app that has no backdoor?

Do we prohibit a programmer from creating an encrypting communications app that has no backdoor and posting the open source code online or in print for an end user to compile?

WaelNovember 25, 2015 12:31 AM

@Fascist Nation,

So how is this enforced?

I doubt it can be practically enforced. And if it's successfully enforced, then that would apply to the general population. Are you trying to convince me that someone determined to cause destruction and chaos will abide by such a law?

Terrorist #1: Hey man, let's use AES for communications from now on
Terrorist#2: Are you nuts? It's against the law!

Or, for a more proactive enforcement, non clear text will be blocked at ISPs and routers... In which case some other method of exchanging confidential clear text will be used.

Clive RobinsonNovember 25, 2015 12:44 AM

@ Wael,

I am still trying to watch the movie. YouTube says it requires payment...

Ahh the joys of commerce and the law of unintended consequence.

Speaking of which, there are two further unintended consequences of US commerce. The first is as you note "corruption",

But where they came from originally is screwed up and the corruption they see in their homelands is supported by the "west".

Which the west primarily the US et al is unfortunatly responsible for despite the more recent legislation.

But there is another consequence of commerce that might supprise many in the US.

From various sources we can say that there are a little under 2 bilion followers of various sects of Islam. Of these at most there are 50 million Sulfi-Islam in their various sects with at most 10 million Sulfi-jihadist.

But... If you look at "Petro-Islam" it would appear that the Saudi's are buying the gold to make Sulfi the "Gold Standard" of Islam. That is if you look at the entire global spend on promoting Islam and it's many sects the Saudi's spend over 90% of that sum on promoting Islam from it's Sulfi-Islam perspective... That's around three times what any other Nation spends on promoting it's "way" to the world and from what I can gather over twenty times what any other sect of Islam does (thus similar overtones of US Defence Spending).

However as few American's appear to realise their entire way of life is based on easy and cheep access to petro-chemicals for gas, diesel, plastics, manufacturing, agriculture, medicine etc, much of which comes from Saudi oil. Which in turn means each and every American is actually spending more on promoting Sulfi Islam, than they do on average promoting their own faiths by way of "the collecting plate"...

WaelNovember 25, 2015 1:11 AM

@Clive Robinson,

But... If you look at "Petro-Islam"

So you think when the petroleum runs out of the Middle East, there'll finally be peace in the region?

mooNovember 25, 2015 2:18 AM

I was glad to see that President Obama's speech today contained three paragraphs with a "refuse to be terrorized" message:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/11/24/remarks-president-obama-and-president-hollande-france-joint-press

-----
" But it’s not just our security professionals who will defeat ISIL and other terrorist groups. As Americans, we all have a role to play in how we respond to threats. Groups like ISIL cannot defeat us on the battlefield, so they try to terrorize us at home -- against soft targets, against civilians, against innocent people. Even as we’re vigilant, we cannot, and we will not, succumb to fear. Nor can we allow fear to divide us -- for that’s how terrorists win. We cannot give them the victory of changing how we go about living our lives.

The good news is Americans are resilient. We mourned the lives lost at Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon, at Chattanooga. But we did not waver. Our communities have come together. We’ve gone to ballgames and we've gone to concerts, and we've gone shopping. And men and women who want to serve our country continue to go to military recruiting offices. We're vigilant, we take precautions, but we go about our business. To those who want to harm us, our actions have shown that we have too much resolve and too much character. Americans will not be terrorized.

I say all this because another part of being vigilant, another part of defeating terrorists like ISIL, is upholding the rights and freedoms that define our two great republics. That includes freedom of religion. That includes equality before the law. There have been times in our history, in moments of fear, when we have failed to uphold our highest ideals, and it has been to our lasting regret. We must uphold our ideals now. Each of us, all of us, must show that America is strengthened by people of every faith and every background."
-----

I only wish the mainstream media would pick up that message and hammer it home for a few months. Terrorism only has power to the extent that we allow it to influence our society and our lives. So keep calm and carry on.

Clive RobinsonNovember 25, 2015 6:43 AM

@ Wael,

It's not a question of the oil running out, it's a question of when.

The current spend by the Saudi's can be viewed as an "investment in the future" not a cost. Thus the question should be about tipping points. That is will they eventually be able to spend enough such that they get what they want without having to spend as much or even at all?

But there is another asspect, quite a lot of the spend is not on give away goods and services, but on assets such as places of worship and education (over 1500 to date and some the largest of their type in the world). There are ways to capitalize on such assets now and into the future, we see this for other religions that do not have oil or other exploitable raw resources.

Thus providing the oil lasts long enough for the Saudi investment to become self financing in perpetuity the mission will have been accomolished.

As far as I'm aware the longest existing Empire currently is the Holy Roman Empire that many call the Catholic Church. Whilst Christian religion may be shrinking in a minority of western countries, it is certainly still growing in others. Importantly the countries it is depreciating in are those where the economic down turn has caused social issues. So religion may well be on the rise again, but perhaps not Christianity, but Islam. And countries where the economy has recently see growth are likewise seeing a growth in religion, thus there is the potential influx of not just new Souls but financing as well.

A couple of lessons people should be wary of can be seen in the Catholic Church. Firstly whilst the ministers are male, the focus of the Church is on the women "raising children in the faith". Islam sects have a different take on this but the underlying principle is the same "get the children" and then you have the minimal task of keeping them faithful and contributing for the rest of their lives. The second is what happens to the contributions from the faithful, the bulk of it gets spent on "doing the good works" which on analysis is mainly concerned with aquiring and maintaining assets tax free. In the case of the Catholic Church it appears by conservative estimate to be the largest and most wealthy company in the world, with it's own country to hide it's head office in and pay it's security services, intelligence networks etc from, it even has it's own secret language and laws.

I'll let others draw their own conclusions, but it might be a model that the House of Saud may be using as a template.

There is as I've said before good reason to keep Church and State seperate.

Dirk PraetNovember 25, 2015 9:45 AM

@ Wael

It's a fundamental law in Islam that if one cannot abide by the law of the land, one isn't allowed to live in that land, and conversely if one lives in a land, one must follow the law of the land.

Something an imam has recently told me too. When I asked him why they weren't much more vocal about that, he told me that the situation was reasonably complex. For starters, there are precious few of them with a local background for lack of local imam training facilities, so most of them are imports, have no connection whatsoever with the country they come to, in most cases don't speak the language(s) and don't bother learning any because their audience understands Arabic anyway. While those coming from North Africa in general are reasonably moderate, those from the Middle East and especially Saudi Arabia tend to be hard-liners spreading an entirely different message than following the law of the land.

On top of that, there is an unwritten pact of silence in that no one ever criticises Saudi Arabia or that countries interpretation of Islam. Many mosques and imams depend on generous donations from Saudis and you don't go biting the hand that feeds you. What he failed to mention was that they are also very afraid that taking an active stand against extremism can have serious consequences, as in the sustained death threats to the moderate local imam Suleyman Van Ael, causing him to stop his work as a preacher alltogether.

They were nothing short of scumbags ... And there are of course the religious nutters. I wouldn't label them as Salafees, though.

There's scumbags in every part of the population, indigenous or immigrant. But there's also hard figures that some groups of specific ethnicities are overly represented in petty crime statistics and all sorts of other incidents.

Should we label folks like the Paris attackers "Salafees"? I think not. I wouldn't even call them religious, rather brainwashed idiots who in their own way are victims of a society they never managed to find their place in. But those that put them up to their heinous acts, whether it be religious nutcases or common criminals that have hijacked the ideology most definitely draw from Salafism to justify their agenda.

WaelNovember 25, 2015 10:23 AM

@Dirk Praet,

That's true to some extent. I once went to a mosque in Germany. The imam and everyone else were Turks. The imam spoke in Turkish and I understood absolutley nothing. The same can be said about Indo-Pakistani communities and other non-Arabic speaking Muslim communities.

I agree to most of what you said. Like I said, this isn't may favorite subject to talk about, and I see my name showing up too many times in the last 100 comments (I usually don't like that.) So I'll excercise some self-throttling until my name disappears from the tatest 100 comments before I post anymore.


@Clive,

After I watch the movie I'll get back to you. Perhaps that'll be the last time I get involved in hardcore religious discussions. By the way, I like your sense of humor (talking about colonoscopy)

12strokeC00422224November 25, 2015 1:59 PM

My best theory on combatting the narrative of fear is to - as Spencer Ackerman and others have written about the topic of Free Speech - "Combat hateful speech with more speech". The only other alternative, not seemingly feasible or wise, is to use force to censor the narrative of fear. As a seemingly wise guy once told me- "Good Luck (with that)".

Flowing RiverNovember 25, 2015 2:13 PM

@Fascist Nation -

You forgot the more obvious answer- let police and authorities commit all manner of crime and rarely be held accountable. Mr. Schneier might refer to that as the rubber hose element of the equation. (This comment inspired by recently publicized statistics about the rarity of Chicago police officers being convicted, or even charged with homocide. My money isn't on them being all that saintly)

DanielNovember 25, 2015 2:57 PM

@Dirk P.

Sufism and salafism are two totally different interpretations of Islam.

This is not correct. Salafism is an interpretation of Islam but Sufism in an expression of Islam that is compatible with any interpretation. This is a fine theological point but a vital one. It is wrong to suggest that Jesuits and Franciscans and the Western monastic tradition have a different interpretation of Christianity--they simply express it differently. On the other hand, the Gnostics had a different interpretation of Christianity.

So it's not either/or. So there are Sufi monks who subscribe to Salafism.

SkepticalNovember 25, 2015 3:36 PM


The policy repercussions here seem very likely to be limited to:

1 - an increase in headcount of the security services of certain nations in order to take better advantage of existing surveillance authorities;
2 - an increase in information sharing between European governments;
3 - possibly a change in approach to ISIL - including some acceleration of an existing strategy.

Belgium might require some expansion of surveillance authorities, though I'm not familiar with that nation's laws to say. I very much doubt France requires them - if anything their domestic authorities are ample.

@Dirk: While it is absolutely necessary for us to look into our own mirror and work harder on these, a firm line has to be drawn. Anyone either preaching or turning to salafism should no longer be welcome here and is either free to leave or become an outlaw and be removed from society.

This is a far more drastic measure than anything the US did following 9/11, which was an attack many times worse than the horrible attacks committed in Paris on 13 November. I don't think you should take it, though I understand the temptation.

Instead more persons should be assigned to tracking more likely terrorist operatives; and more resources should be committed to integrating immigrants in France and Belgium into mainstream society.

Beyond that, the information space has been too ceded to ISIL. The population of areas under its control, and elsewhere, should be inundated with the truth. No one should have any doubt that ISIL is a backward pretender of a state that is clearly fated to end in the dustbin of history, unmourned, quickly forgotten except as a cautionary footnote.

In the weeks and months ahead I would expect to see substantial ground operations commence against Raqqa, and to see key areas of strength within ISIL controlled territory cut off from one another.

I would also expect to see - at the appropriate time - a surge in coalition airstrikes aimed at key ISIL targets.

Part of bringing down a network effectively is destroying key nodes and support structures simultaneously - even better in concert with rapid ground offensives - rather than doing so piecemeal, which allows a network to reconstitute itself.

Coalition intelligence on ISIL has clearly improved markedly over the last several months, and one can see the pieces of an effective series of ground campaigns being moved into place.

The timing of these things must not be dictated by the actions of a group of psychopathic fools in Paris or Brussels who think themselves strong because they're able to shoot unarmed civilians and then kill themselves.

However difficult it may be for those in certain areas, I would counsel patience and resolve. Keep calm, and carry on. Increase the number of personnel tracking those more likely to become the useful idiots of savages abroad who defile their faith and themselves alike; share information with one another; create institutions to protect against abuses of civil liberties while allowing security services to be effective.

It would also be perhaps useful to send a message - by words or otherwise - to organizations who profit by the trafficking of arms: do your due diligence before making a sale, or any accommodations you may have reached with local governments will be suddenly and unpleasantly subject to renegotiation. It will not pay to do business with ISIL, AQ, or fellow travelers.

Finally, Clive, you mocked the killing "Jihadi John" and questioned why key leadership figures are not being targeted - I suggest you look up the recent death of one of the former leaders of Hussein's special operations units, or refresh your memory of a raid in Raqqa to capture another key leadership figure. Key leadership figures are targeted. But "JJ" was of special interest, for various reasons, and the strike was worth the price in my opinion. The motto of a Scottish crown has some wisdom in it, in this fight.

Dirk PraetNovember 25, 2015 5:39 PM

@ Daniel

Salafism is an interpretation of Islam but Sufism in an expression of Islam that is compatible with any interpretation.

Not to the best of my knowledge, so could you please give me some pointers? For as far as I know, the relation between Sufism and Salafism has always been seriously troublesome, with Salafees generally arguing that Sufism is irreconciliable with their interpretation of Islam.

@ Skeptical

This is a far more drastic measure than anything the US did following 9/11

As things stand, a lot of measures taken by the US following 9/11 have proven very expensive, largely ineffective and/or horribly wrong in many respects. We need DIFFERENT ideas and TARGETED solutions. And while going after the root of evil actually makes sense to me, I'm well aware that this is probably not going to be very popular with those politically or economically affiliated with Saudi Arabia. A while ago, @Nick P. pointed me to an article in the NYT in which the author (not an American) stated that Da'esh had both a mother and a father, the mother being the Iraq war, the father being the Saudi religious-industrial complex exporting its wahabi/salafi interpretation of Islam to the world. And which has to be put a stop to.

Instead more persons should be assigned to tracking more likely terrorist operatives; and more resources should be committed to integrating immigrants in France and Belgium into mainstream society.

It's not a question of assigning more resources, but making more efficient use of existing resources and sharing the acquired information both domestically and with other European countries. There was a reasonably good article in the NYT today that points out the Belgian problems in that respect quite well.

One thing the article forgets to mention is that there also is a lack of legislative framework to proactively deal with persons either suspected of or known to have been radicalised or to have ties to jihadists.

I agree that more resources should be committed to integrating immigrants into mainstream society, but as you know resources are limited everywhere and a better integration is not going to happen overnight. That's going to take several more decades, and with a new influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees, it's not going to get easier either.

In the weeks and months ahead I would expect to see substantial ground operations commence against Raqqa

Something everyone agrees on as a necessity, but the only group I currently see doing so is Assad's army covered by Russian airforces. President Hollande recently suggested to close the Turkish-Syrian border to cut off Da'esh supply lines, which Putin was also very much in favour of. Erdogan yesterday replied by shooting down a Russian jet that had crossed into Turkish airspace for a whole 17 SECONDS in an obvious attempt to pit NATO against Russia instead. I think he made it very clear whose side he is on, so I don't expect any western coalition ground operations against Raqqa or Mosul any time soon.

tyrNovember 25, 2015 6:34 PM


@Clive

Last time I looked the Japanese empire had been
around since 3500 BC. Being trapped on an island
without being periodically overrun by hostile
neighbors might have something to do with that
length.

That may be propaganda (humans like to claim the
past as their own) since they have not exactly
had a history lacking turmoil and changes.

What I do find amazing is that Islam was the first
nation state which embraced multi-culturalisms
and integrated all the races who fell under its
sway. It has degenerated in its old age but to
assume it is the fount of barbarism is pure western
cynicism used to promote a fight. Other than that
they like christendom have degenerated into sects,
cults, nuts and those who use it for their own
nefarious ends under the guise of religious sanctions.
Trying to disentangle any conceptual purity from this
rats nest is largely a waste of time. Separating it
from the controls of the state apparatus is done for
survival, given the reigns of power, they will use
it to suppress whatever they feel is heresy. That
is a thoroughly bad idea. Let them take their wars
of heresy back to the congregations so the rest of
us can live in peace and quiet.

Trying to incite modern nations to crusading stupidity
is a horribly stupid idea. Just like Rus Turk rivalry
spilling into a NATO/BRICS confrontation would be the
height of asininity.

I have no interest in reliving the previous ages of
history over again in some half-assed confrontation
that thinks they are going to rewrite the past with
new blood.

SkepticalNovember 26, 2015 12:26 AM


@Dirk: And while going after the root of evil actually makes sense to me, I'm well aware that this is probably not going to be very popular with those politically or economically affiliated with Saudi Arabia. A while ago, @Nick P. pointed me to an article in the NYT in which the author (not an American) stated that Da'esh had both a mother and a father, the mother being the Iraq war, the father being the Saudi religious-industrial complex exporting its wahabi/salafi interpretation of Islam to the world. And which has to be put a stop to.

The American media has ceaselessly, and often in great depth, examined the familial, cultural, and economic and financial ties between certain ideologies and Saudi Arabia. And the US Government has made enormous progress in providing Saudi Arabia and some of its neighbors the tools and the incentives to crack down on those lines of funds - and indeed they have.

But you want to give your government the power to strip a person's citizenship and ban him on the ground that he holds, or puts forth, a particular idea. That is far beyond anything the US even contemplated doing. There are better ways to win the information war.

It's not a question of assigning more resources,

Let me stop you right there. Yes it is. The Belgian security forces do not have enough personnel to track those who need to be tracked. The French are in better shape, and can pull from other parts of their government, but are likewise stretch.

So this is very much a question of ensuring there are adequate numbers of human beings to actually look at the data, to talk (perhaps) to the surveilled or suspected.

Something everyone agrees on as a necessity, but the only group I currently see doing so is Assad's army covered by Russian airforces.

Less RT, Dirk. Russia, despite an uptick in airstrikes against ISIL, focuses on other anti-Assad rebels. The only ground forces positioning for a possible - possible multiple - ground campaigns again key ISIL sites (especially Raqqa) are the Kurds and a burgeoning group of Sunni fighters integrated with Kurdish units. And they're doing so with the guidance, supply, and unremitting air power of the United States. I'd expect an offensive anywhere from January to March

All of that will help, but the information must be retaken as well. It is imperative that all those considering alegiance to ISIS, and all those under the thumb of ISIS, see ISIS for what it really is. Counter-ISIS social media campaigns, blackouts of certain radio/TV stations, comedies mocking ISIS, etc., should deluge key regions and areas.

Russian meanwhile will continue its desperate attempt to scavenge Assad by bombing his opposition, especially the more moderate opposition. This works out well for Assad and Russia. They can tell the West:
"Well, your moderate opposition is in pieces. Therefore you can Assad, behind Door #1, ISIS, behind Door #2, or "Not a Chance in Hell Moderate Opposition Forces" behind Door #3.

The West isn't going to fall for it, and Turkey has made quite clear that it considers the safe haven it has established some of the border to be just that.

So, as I said, keep calm and carry on. Add some persons to your security services. Share more information. Unleash a social media and informational offensive designed to mock, undercut, and show the hard, horrible, truth of ISIS to everyone, whether in Raqqa or in Brussels.

Meanwhile as intelligence continues to be gathered, and forces continued to be readied... the executioner's ax begins its skyward journey, and when it returns, it returns swiftly.

Dirk PraetNovember 26, 2015 5:57 AM

@ Skeptical

That is far beyond anything the US even contemplated doing. There are better ways to win the information war.

Seriously?

Fifteen years into the US "war on terror", it's pretty much of an epic fail. We've seen the rise of Da'esh and its success both in battle and on social media, the destruction of Iraq and Libya, destabilisation of the entire Middle East and a more than questionable global surveillance dragnet that is largely useless in preventing terrorist strikes. Even AQ and the Taliban still exist.

The plea that I have made is for he current incarnation of Salafism and those who actively spread and/or follow it to be treated on par with nazism. Full stop. And which we have some relevant experience with over here in Europe. You can't kill an idea, just like you can't win an "information war", but you can certainly deal appropriately with those behind it.

It is really remarkable how the USG continues to think it has any leverage or control whatsoever over Saudi Arabia or Turkey, or that either of those would be an ally in the fight against Da'esh. They aren't, so please get a grip. For several years, the US has been executing air raids on Da'esh and trying to build a US-supported Syrian rebel army. Results of which are zilch, so please forgive me for not sharing your optimism on "coalition progress" on the ground.

As to the Kurds, Erdogan is never going to allow a formal Kurdish state or even a strong and united Kurdish region next to Turkey. Despite all support they are now getting and the progress they're making, there is no doubt in my mind that in the end they will be betrayed once again and sacrificed on the altar of international politics. But I am repeating myself.

Less RT, Dirk

It's not just RT, mate. There's a growing number of media outlets that are no longer buying the USG's less and less convincing narrative. The reality on the shopfloor is that the USG at this moment is totally running behind the facts, looking at the wrong enemies and at the wrong friends, and I can't even start to imagine how p*ssed off Hollande must be at Erdogan for derailing his talks with Putin by shooting down that Russian jet.

The Belgian security forces do not have enough personnel to track those who need to be tracked.

You can increase surveillance manyfold and have as much personnel as you want, it is simply not possible to monitor folks 24/7. Both intelligence services and local authorities, however dysfunctional and understaffed, knew about Abaaoud, the Abdeslams and the Molenbeek network around them. As usual, and which is no different in the US with its multi-billion dollar surveillance apparatus, they failed to connect the dots until after the facts. The only thing that could have stopped these people was better information sharing with France and a legislative framework to proactively deal with known radicalized Salafi elements.

WinterNovember 26, 2015 6:05 AM

Why spend hours reading free newspapers when you can spend billions a year spying on the whole nation?

The whole preparations for the Paris attacks were presented by Abdelhamid Abaaoud in February in Dabiq, the free glossy of IS. Including how he evaded the surveillance to return to Belgium. It includes a picture of him.

Note:
“We were then able to obtain weapons and set up a safe house while we planned to carry out operations against the crusaders.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/16/abdelhamid-abaaoud-suspected-mastermind-of-paris-terror-attacks

If you can read German, here is a good analysis from Der Spiegel:

(I translated the title, which is a good summary of the article)
Extension of surveillance: Intelligence agencies do not even read newspapers

Ausweitung der Überwachung: Geheimdienste lesen nicht mal Zeitung
http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/sascha-lobo-ueber-die-irrationale-ausweitung-der-ueberwachung-a-1064508.html

WinterNovember 26, 2015 8:29 AM

@Dirk Praet
"You can increase surveillance manyfold and have as much personnel as you want, it is simply not possible to monitor folks 24/7."

But you can get their neighbors to warn you when things go foul. But for that, the state forces need to build good relations with the community. That has most definitely failed in Molenbeek, if they even tried.

And like you write, you cannot kill an idea. The biggest problem is the lack of success of young men with North African roots. As long as there is a large contingent of young "losers", you will get violence. If it is not Salafism, they will find some other ideology. Last century has ample choice of violent fascist and communist ideologies.

Dirk PraetNovember 26, 2015 11:24 AM

@ Winter

But you can get their neighbors to warn you when things go foul.

Which actually happens. There's plenty of examples of parents, relatives, neighbours and even teachers who warned police and authorities for certain radicalised persons. In many cases, nothing was done with this information, or best case scenario was that a follow-up resulted in the person indeed being qualified as "dangerous" and then put on a list.

The number one issue in Molenbeek was that everyone knew what was going on, but that everyone burried his head in the sand because it was not politically expedient to either name or tackle the problem.

The biggest problem is the lack of success of young men with North African roots

Most definitely so, and reasons for which are well known: racism, poverty, poor education, concentration, lack of opportunity. You name it. But which does not entirely explain why over here we're seeing much bigger problems with them than with other immigrant groups like Turks, Asians and black Africans, many of whom also people of colour with a Muslim background.

However politically incorrect to say, there is also a serious attitude problem with certain segments of North African immigrants, especially young men from Moroccan or Algerian descent, who over the years have earned their entire community - over all layers of the population, indigenous and immigrant - a reputation for being unreliable, loud-mouthed misogynists with poor work ethics, constantly blaming everything and everyone for their own shortcomings and failures.

My mom used to live next to an Afghan and a Chechnyan family and a Moroccan couple. Everbody got along just fine, except with the Moroccan twenty-somethings who at some point saw fit to dump their construction waste in the Afghan's garden with as crowning achievement the male - a convicted drug dealer - calling the Chechnyan family father an "apostate" for putting a Christmas tree in his living because his (Muslim) children had asked for one. The owner of one of my favorite multicultural bars, a Tunesian, never lets in any parties of young Moroccans bigger than two, because he knows that 9 out 10 there's gonna be trouble.

It's this kind of scumbags who are spoiling it for everyone, and I'm sure that as a Dutchman you have seen similar stuff. I also know plenty of other really decent guys (and girls) who are struggling because of these clowns. Unless they somehow manage to get themselves a college degree, there is just no way in hell they're ever going to find a job, especially since the mass invasion of Eastern Europeans who for low-level jobs generally fit in better, pick up languages easier, work harder and do it for less money.

I have genuinely no idea how we can solve this, at least not in the short term. Yes, we need more and better integration programs, but it's not a one-way street either. Some of our North African immigrant communities also have to look into their own mirror and finally start dealing with unruly and out-of-control elements in their own midsts. And for those who have reached the stage that they've come to reject our society and see no future for themselves here, I can only join Moroccan-born Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb in saying: Pack your bags and leave. We're sorry it didn't work out, but we're not going to allow you to scr*w things up for everyone.

WinterNovember 26, 2015 12:15 PM

@Dirk Praet
"I have genuinely no idea how we can solve this, at least not in the short term."

The Moroccan boys often seem to have a father problem. Rif mountain family structures and pedagogy seem to have a really tough time adapting to European city life. Compared to them, Turcs and other immigrants are rather well integrated.

As usual, religion is notging but an excuse.

JustinNovember 26, 2015 12:21 PM

@Dirk Praet

Some of our North African immigrant communities also have to look into their own mirror and finally start dealing with unruly and out-of-control elements in their own midsts.

That's not their job. Society as a whole needs to deal with "unruly and out-of-control elements" without regard to race, and without being prejudiced as to race. As in legitimate law enforcement rather than some system of racialized vigilantism. We white people can look in our own mirror and see plenty of white eurotrash up to no good. We can't control others' behavior just because we are of the same race. Neither can the North Africans, and neither should they be expected to. It is and ought to be up to each individual to succeed on his or her own, and we should not impose artificial barriers on individuals because of race.

Clive RobinsonNovember 26, 2015 1:59 PM

@ Justin,

That's not their job. Society as a whole needs to deal with "unruly and out-of-control elements" without regard to race, and without being prejudiced as to race.

Don't excuse a refusal by one group to normalise into society with racism by that society.

If an ethnic group blaims society for what are their failings, they are saying that society should change to suit them, which is clearly wrong.

If you go to where they have come from and make alcohol and consume it openly in public, in their society, get drunk and create a nuisance. What do you realy expect to happen?

Well from having seen it first hand usually expats from your own country will take you to one side and make it very clear "you don't 541t on your own doorstep" and more importabtly "you don't give them a bad name" and "queer the pitch for them". If you fail to take heed they will ostracize you for their own good not yours and then if you still don't wise up either turn you into the authorities or you will come to minus some teeth and with quite a few cuts and bruises or worse.

There is an old saying "Charity begins at home" well so does discipline, education and respect for not just the law but society in general.


If you show contempt for the host society, others know you are going to cause them problems. If the leaders of your community don't police your behaviour and put you right then society in general is going to ask why not... Because it means either the community leaders are in fear of you or have ulterior motives.

And it's becoming clear to many that the community leaders in some communities are neither policing their community or reaching out for help from authorities.

It's a situation that society in general will not put up with, no matter how tolerant they profess themselves to be. Because the authorities know it will only lead to tension, trouble and violence, as it always does.

Like any sensible creature society trys to rid it's self of parasitic entities for it's own health and wellbeing.

This has been known for a very long time, and is not going to change, today, tomorow or for a long time to come.

The UK is very much a mongeral nation and is at the point where the number of first second and third generation immigrants is a significant proportion of society. Whilst we do have racism, it's most noticeable where incomming communities do not try and integrate into society in general. What society in general wants is for the new to join the old, and in the process bring a little cultural spice to enrich and broaden the lives of all.

The UK had a German immigrant become a politician. Some of the locals were interviewed about this, and the reply that best summed it up was from one old boy who said "Yes she's German, but she's our German". Showing that in even one of the more conservative parts of the UK a first generation immigrant, can be not just accepted, but actively become wanted as a representative of that part of society to the rest of the world. And yes I know an Austrian has done the same in the US.

SkepticalNovember 26, 2015 2:31 PM


@Dirk: Fifteen years into the US "war on terror", it's pretty much of an epic fail. We've seen the rise of Da'esh and its success both in battle and on social media, the destruction of Iraq and Libya, destabilisation of the entire Middle East and a more than questionable global surveillance dragnet that is largely useless in preventing terrorist strikes. Even AQ and the Taliban still exist.

This doesn't contradict what I said.

In the US, you are quite free to argue on behalf of Nazis, radical Islamists, etc.

Stripping someone of citizenship, and banishing them from the country, for holding such ideas is not a step that the US even contemplated taking.

That is the extreme step you seem to be advocating that I think to be a mistake.

Better ways of winning the information war include (i) better integrating immigrants into your population, and (ii) better countering of propaganda in foreign countries.

(i) enables you to build networks of concerned citizens, and indeed informants among explicitly criminal elements, who though they may dislike a particular set of elected officials feel as though they have a stake in the country itself and feel as though there are institutions to which they can reach out safely.

(ii) (countering propaganda efforts in foreign countries) is something that the West has devoted insufficient resources to, and that ought to be changed.

Neither are quick solutions, but both are part of lasting solutions. The short-term fix involves more personnel - and I'll explain more about why in response to one of your other comments below.

And which we have some relevant experience with over here in Europe. You can't kill an idea, just like you can't win an "information war", but you can certainly deal appropriately with those behind it.

:) Dirk, are you seriously claiming that the US has no experience with the power of, and the importance of contending against, ideologies?

You can't "kill" an idea, but you can create a very hostile environment for it. Part of that involves demonstrating how completely hopeless an ideology is - think of the effect of the fall of the Soviet Union on communism as an ideology. Another part involves associating the ideology - truthfully in this case - with all of the grit and horror that it holds.

We don't control the information space in Syria, in Iraq, or elsewhere. We've ceded too much of it to ISIL and associated movements - and that passivity needs to stop. What happens in the information space affects what happens in other contested spaces.

It is really remarkable how the USG continues to think it has any leverage or control whatsoever over Saudi Arabia or Turkey, or that either of those would be an ally in the fight against Da'esh. They aren't, so please get a grip. For several years, the US has been executing air raids on Da'esh and trying to build a US-supported Syrian rebel army. Results of which are zilch, so please forgive me for not sharing your optimism on "coalition progress" on the ground.

The US began airstrikes against ISIL in August 2014, as part of an effort to rescue Yazidis besieged by ISIL. It's been a little over a year - not several years. Perhaps you ought to get a grip yourself.

As to whether the US has leverage with Turkey or Saudi Arabia... it has more leverage than anyone else, I would say.

As to the Kurds, Erdogan is never going to allow a formal Kurdish state or even a strong and united Kurdish region next to Turkey. Despite all support they are now getting and the progress they're making, there is no doubt in my mind that in the end they will be betrayed once again and sacrificed on the altar of international politics. But I am repeating myself.

Erdogan will do what's best for Erdogan. He made a truce with them before - an independent Kurdistan becomes each day more a matter of when and how, not if.

The reality on the shopfloor is that the USG at this moment is totally running behind the facts, looking at the wrong enemies and at the wrong friends, and I can't even start to imagine how p*ssed off Hollande must be at Erdogan for derailing his talks with Putin by shooting down that Russian jet.

Hollande knows as well as anyone that Russia's primary interest in Syria is propping up Assad.

You can increase surveillance manyfold and have as much personnel as you want, it is simply not possible to monitor folks 24/7. Both intelligence services and local authorities, however dysfunctional and understaffed, knew about Abaaoud, the Abdeslams and the Molenbeek network around them. As usual, and which is no different in the US with its multi-billion dollar surveillance apparatus, they failed to connect the dots until after the facts. The only thing that could have stopped these people was better information sharing with France and a legislative framework to proactively deal with known radicalized Salafi elements.

Understaffed means insufficient brain-power to deal with the relevant facts. The problem is that there's more than one Abdeslam, perhaps more than one Abaaoud, and not enough in the security service to make timely reports, connect dots, and raise flags where needed.

It's never simply a matter of having information in your basket.

As to the US, and the "war on terror" generally, US surveillance has in fact stopped multiple plots in Europe, and elsewhere, over the years. You have not seen more 13 Novembers precisely because of the counterterrorism efforts you so casually criticize as insufficient.

JustinNovember 26, 2015 3:04 PM

@ Clive Robinson

Don't excuse a refusal by one group to normalise into society with racism by that society.

If an ethnic group blaims society for what are their failings, they are saying that society should change to suit them, which is clearly wrong.

In any "group" of immigrants there will be some individuals who normalize quite successfully into society and others who are less successful for various reasons. Some individuals take full responsibility for their own successes and failures; others to a lesser degree, or not at all. You can't project this onto an entire ethnic group.

If you show contempt for the host society, others know you are going to cause them problems. If the leaders of your community don't police your behaviour and put you right then society in general is going to ask why not... Because it means either the community leaders are in fear of you or have ulterior motives.

And it's becoming clear to many that the community leaders in some communities are neither policing their community or reaching out for help from authorities.

That's great if the leaders of immigrant communities reach out for help from authorities, but they are not the police, and it is not their job to "police" other members of their ethnic community. On the other hand if there are some who hold themselves up to be leaders, while causing trouble, pushing extremist rhetoric, and attempting to enforce extremist ideologies, then that is its own problem. No need in that case to punish (or tar with the same brush) other leaders who may be promoting nothing more than a peaceful practice of their own religion, and peaceful and mutually beneficial interaction with the rest of the community.

Many of you on this board are showing contempt for an entire race of people because of the actions of (really) relatively few extremist individuals.

It's a situation that society in general will not put up with, no matter how tolerant they profess themselves to be.

That's a problem. Some people profess themselves to be tolerant when they are not in fact. I'm not asking anyone to tolerate violence or terrorism, but when people don't tolerate those of another nationality, skin color, or religion, then that's a problem. Sure. On both sides. I'll give you that much.

The UK is very much a mongeral nation ... Whilst we do have racism, ...

and prima facie evidence thereof...

And this time, I agree with Skeptical.

Dirk PraetNovember 26, 2015 3:07 PM

@ Justin

That's not their job.

Yes it is. It's not an or-or, but an and-and story. It's overly simplistic to put all of the blame and responsability on society and to scream "racism" or "prejudice" when all statistics are pointing to a very specific problem with a very specific group of people. This is not about race or religion, but about a deeply rooted cultural problem observed in the same group of people pretty much all over Europe.

Where I live, 6 out of 10 children do not speak the local language at home. We have one of the best and cheapest education systems in Europe, access to cheap housing, healthcare and social benefits for all, free language courses and mandatory integration courses for all non-EU citizens, free or ridiculously cheap, government funded work training, heavily subsidised community centres and I could go on. It's a system that has allowed many immigrants to find a job and to integrate well into our society, but, unfortunately, for some it's just not working.

Although everything can be done better, there is only so much society can do. At some point, people also need to take up their own responsability, including spiritual and other leaders within the North African community who have a much bigger influence on these loose canons than anyone else. Unfortunately, one of them, a local imam preaching at several mosques, a couple of days ago did exactly the opposite by leaving for Syria.

Change can only come from within, and so, yes, there is an important role for community leaders there too.

Dirk PraetNovember 26, 2015 4:04 PM

@ Skeptical

That is the extreme step you seem to be advocating that I think to be a mistake.

Which is fair enough. But as I said, I believe we need other and better ideas. Although there's still quite some extreme right parties, most Western European countries have extremely tough laws on everything directly nazi-related. And for good reasons. I don't see any reason why this could not be extended to Salafism.

Better ways of winning the information war include (i) better integrating immigrants into your population

Which is kinda kicking in open doors. See my previous reply to @Justin.

... are you seriously claiming that the US has no experience with the power of, and the importance of contending against, ideologies?

You are certainly good at bombing stuff, I'll give you that. Nation forming and winning over the hearts and the minds of people not particularly so. I think the last time you successfully pulled that off was WWII. But you also won the Cold War, of course.

The US began airstrikes against ISIL in August 2014

I stand corrected. I thought it was longer.

Hollande knows as well as anyone that Russia's primary interest in Syria is propping up Assad.

No it isn't. They want to preserve their existing bases and preferably build some more. For which they need Assad. And do you really think Hollande cares at this point?

The problem is that there's more than one Abdeslam, perhaps more than one Abaaoud

For Molenbeek alone, there was/is a list of 80 people for all of whom a red flag was raised by the IC. You can either buy a lot of equipment and hire a bunch of people to monitor them 24/7, hire a lot more for a couple of hundreds of similar cases in other towns and then wait for them to go live. Or you can create a legislative framework to proactively deal with them.

As to the US, and the "war on terror" generally, US surveillance has in fact stopped multiple plots in Europe

So you keep telling, but absent proof I don't think a lot of people are going to take either your or anyone else's word for it.

MultiplierNovember 26, 2015 4:17 PM

Extension of surveillance: Intelligence agencies do not even read newspapers

Presumably they are too busy spending money influencing what is written in them. Which explains the quality of journalism these days.

Dirk PraetNovember 26, 2015 4:32 PM

@ Justin

Many of you on this board are showing contempt for an entire race of people because of the actions of (really) relatively few extremist individuals.

No, we don't. We are pointing at a statistically significant group of individuals from a specific ethnicity with which society is experiencing above average problems, even compared to other groups with similar racial and/or religious backgrounds. And from this group also seem to be emerging not just a few isolated cases, but a rather large group of radicals that have fallen for extremist jihadi ideologies.

We can discuss opinions till hell freezes over, but figures are figures, and simply ignoring those on grounds of political correctness is not helping anyone. And which is in fact one of the main reasons the situation in Molenbeek got so out of hand, whereas in other towns in Belgium similar problems were largely contained or corrected.

Zainelabdeen Ibrahim OmerNovember 26, 2015 6:46 PM

"You can either buy a lot of equipment and hire a bunch of people to monitor them 24/7, hire a lot more for a couple of hundreds of similar cases in other towns and then wait for them to go live. Or you can create a legislative framework to proactively deal with them."

Or you can put some CIA heads on sticks - Graham Fuller, Spike Bowman, Richard Blee - and nip it all in the bud.

http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2011/01/06/turkish-intel-chief-exposes-cia-operations-via-islamic-group-in-central-asia/

http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2015/11/17/bfp-exclusive-paris-attacks-western-intelligences-vision-blinded-by-allah/

JustinNovember 26, 2015 8:41 PM

@Dirk Praet, Clive Robinson, others

No, we don't. We are pointing at a statistically significant group of individuals from a specific ethnicity with which society is experiencing above average problems, even compared to other groups with similar racial and/or religious backgrounds. And from this group also seem to be emerging not just a few isolated cases, but a rather large group of radicals that have fallen for extremist jihadi ideologies.

Of course there are those that "have fallen for extremist jihadi ideologies." That does not mean that we have to fall for extremist white supremacist ideologies, complain about Western nations becoming "mongrelized" by the mere presence of other races, incessantly mock and ridicule Islam in the European press, etc., etc.

These ideologies do not carry the day, and in the end they are not effective against the extremists' jihad.

Do you want to fight against a particular extremist ideology, or do you want to fight against an entire race?

@Zainelabdeen Ibrahim Omer

For real, put CIA heads on sticks? I don't think you'd be posting here.

Dirk PraetNovember 26, 2015 9:22 PM

@ Justin

Do you want to fight against a particular extremist ideology, or do you want to fight against an entire race?

I think both @Clive and myself (in previous posts) have made it quite clear that it's the former. If you want to interpret it any differently, by all means feel free to do so, but then you're just twisting our words.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsNovember 26, 2015 10:04 PM

I propose that the level of discourse concerning issues smoldering globally need rigorous and thorough analysis. Seems many have some idea of tbe problem spsce but not enough of it to develop a cohesive, comprehensive, and appropriate strategic narative to the multi-layered threads as they exist.

From Bruce's book, "Secrets & Lies", I could see a very large set of "Attack Tree" sets mapping the conflict space. A comphrehensive strategy would include parallel goal sets such as to the strategic time components, the multiple identity, sociological, ethnic, state, and alignment interests.

Without a thorough and rigorous examination of ALL aspects and elements of the risks/issues/goals (and I would even add the proper codification of conflict/problem components), any enterprise to resolve the overarching problems and any stated goals is all for nought.

I see there is no "complete knowledge", comphrensive strategy, or the necessary insights to address the PERCEIVED problems. Instead a see a series of tactics and milestones in search of a goal (post).

JustinNovember 27, 2015 1:20 AM

@Dirk Praet, Clive Robinson

Do you want to fight against a particular extremist ideology, or do you want to fight against an entire race?

I think both @Clive and myself (in previous posts) have made it quite clear that it's the former. If you want to interpret it any differently, by all means feel free to do so, but then you're just twisting our words.

I don't mean to twist your words at all. I mean that entirely as a practical question. Charlie Hebdo is OFFENSIVE. You Europeans publish that kind of stuff and expect moderate Muslims not to take up extremist ideologies. They need a viable alternative and a way forward in society, where they are not marginalized, persecuted, mocked, baited, etc.

Yes, there is a problem with the more extremist ideologies tending to gain power and come into force throughout Islam. But there are better ways to counter that.

Gerard van VoorenNovember 27, 2015 1:43 AM

@ Dirk Praet,

The topic you are talking about is *really* hot. It's very easy to burn your hands. You are probably aware of the drug related extremely violent so called Mocro Maffia War in and around Amsterdam with it's AK47 drive-by shootings. In each of these killings the attackers didn't have any respect for bystanders. And the police don't even know where to look.

There is something that is completely wrong within the Moroccan society living in The Netherlands, Belgium and surrounding countries. I can't get a grip on what it is, but it is there. It could be the pressure the parents and society puts on a boy to be the head of the next generation which in our more open society doesn't work out. That pressure is probably also the reason why Moroccan soccer players are doing more well than average. But that pressure could also be the reason why 1 in 3 Moroccan boys has a criminal record.

To be honest Dirk, I agree with your POV. I am curious though whether 1) the politicians can come to the same conclusion and 2) what the consequences are gonna be.

WinterNovember 27, 2015 3:26 AM

The problems of Maghreb boys and young men transcend what their own community can handle. It is obvious that the society should do everything in their power to integrate them.

Here are some thoughts from counter-radicalization efforts in the Netherlands:
https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/a-preliminary-assessment-of-counter-radicalization-in-the-netherlands

I think one of the main problems with the situation in Molenbeek as compared to other cities in Belgium or the Netherlands is the Byzantine political and law enforcement situation in the metropolitan area of Brussels.

WinterNovember 27, 2015 3:29 AM

@Gerard van Vooren
"You are probably aware of the drug related extremely violent so called Mocro Maffia War in and around Amsterdam with it's AK47 drive-by shootings."

This example alone shows that the violence from North African men has nothing at all to do with religion.

Clive RobinsonNovember 27, 2015 6:24 AM

@ Winter, Gerard van Vooren,

This example alone shows that the violence from North African men has nothing at all to do with religion.

Nor for that matter just "North African men".

The root of the problem can be found where evey you go and irrespective of race.

They will claim it's "respect" or lack there of they feel is their due from society.

That is they have a sense of entitlement and believe it's their right not something to be earned. Thus they usually can not tell the difference between respect and fear in those around them.

It's usually found in strongly patriarchal cultures, where the patriarchal influence becomes absent in their adolescence or early adulthood.

Thus they in effect have no moral compass to follow, and are easy prey for gangs, criminals, radicalization etc.

You put a gun in their hand they see fear in others it strokes their ego, they fall into a positive reinforcement cycle, especially if those they see as strong reward them in some way.

Sadly it happens not because they are strong, insightful or intelligent, but because they are weak and incapable of thinking beyond the present and realising cause and effect and the consequences it holds for them.

You see thug like criminals swagger and "flash the cash" they get certain types fawning on them, and fail to realise that those fawning see them as prey, for their own desires and benifit as they gull the thugs for their money etc. Importantly that the fawners will drop the thugs in the blink of the eye if better pickings come their way, or turning the thugs into the authorities if it will get the authorities off of them. Thus the last thing they have is the respect they crave.

The same logic applies to gangs and radicalisation. But the child in the mind of the young men in body will not believe you if you tell them. They don't want to hear they are deluded like drug addicts they are condemed by their own mental belief they are in control.

If you want to look for those responsible, look to the men in their society who's unchecked behaviour and disrespect for others fosters the fear or compliance in others.

The connection between fathers who were/are abusers and their sons becoming abusers in turn is well established. For some reason --although it is changing-- it is still not "politicaly correct" to say it's not just familial abusers but those the child observes in their community in general, and perhaps worse those they see acquiesce to such behaviour that reinforce the cycle of abusive behaviour.

Breaking the cycle is key, as is teaching what the difference is between fear and respect. Further that there realy is no easy way to improve your position in life, and the first step is always the self respect that comes via respecting others and that morals are fundementaly "do unto others" and are based on cause and effect even if you call it Karma or "what goes around comes around" etc.

Dirk PraetNovember 27, 2015 8:02 AM

@ Gerard Van Vooren, @ Winter

I am curious though whether 1) the politicians can come to the same conclusion and 2) what the consequences are gonna be.

I am aware of the situation in Amsterdam. The problem has been around for decades, but until a couple of years ago it was simply not done to point the finger at it without being suspected of PVV/Vlaams Belang/Front National ties. Saying anything "bad" about a problematic minority group within a very specific community was just simplified as "racism" against the entire ethnicity. So I do actually understand @Justin's reactions.

Burrying your head in the sand, however, never makes anything better and which is exactly what happened in Molenbeek under the previous socialist mayor and administration. @Winter is also right that the current organisation of the Brussels police force, and for reasons along the political/linguistic divide, is utterly surreal. NYC, arguably many times bigger than Brussels, has one centrally-lead police force. In Brussels, it is managed by no less than 18 mayors of 18 different bourroughs and split over 6 different zones. Moreover, the IC is split over several agencies that are mostly not talking to each other.

I have always believed that integration is a task not only for society but also for the immigrant community and the individual itself. It's a shared responsability. In spite of all integration and deradicalisation programs, the hard fact remains that some groups of people - and for a variety of mostly cultural reasons - are either unwilling or unable to adapt to our societies and our way of life. The simple choice politicians have to make here, is to either adapt our societies to them - risking a formidable backlash from other groups - or to draw a firm line of how far we are willing to go to accomodate them.

There is little doubt in my mind that the new influx of hundreds of thousands of new refugees is only going to exacerbate the existing problems with groups that have a long tradition of integration and employment issues. In other parts of the world, they would have left in search of a better future somewhere else a long time ago. But what's keeping them here is the double-sided sword that is our Western European social safety net: it provides just enough not to starve or become homeless, but not enough to offer any meaningful perspectives.

Absent a sudden economical boom providing well-paid work for all, there are neither short or long term fixes for this problem. Although our societies cannot force people to leave, especially those who over the years have acquired the nationality or are descendants thereof, we cannot permit them to become ticking time bombs either. More and better integration programs are one thing, but especially with a significant number of people now having become fertile recruitment ground for Salafist ideologies, I believe resorting to other and harsher measures against those who have come to reject our society eventually will become inevitable too.

WinterNovember 27, 2015 8:32 AM

@Clive
"The root of the problem can be found where evey you go and irrespective of race.

They will claim it's "respect" or lack there of they feel is their due from society. "

Actually, it may be even simpler: Young men without enough employment to get a wife are at risk to drift into dangerous ways of life (the Yong Men Syndrome). That can be Revolution, Jihadism, Fascism, Crime, and whatever more you want to throw in. However, the full picture is more complex and will include things like expectations, ambitions and alternative ways to "earn respect".

UNEMPLOYMENT AND PARTICIPATION IN VIOLENCE
http://web.worldbank.org/archive/website01306/web/pdf/wdr%20background%20paper%20-%20cramer.pdf

The range of evidence discussed in this paper, and drawn from different methodologies and analytical traditions, makes a strong case that people’s experience of labour markets often plays an important role in their participation in violence. This is so for intimate partner violence, for participation in gangs that (often but to varying degrees) use violence, for joining in pogroms, and for taking part in insurgencies and civil wars (indeed, possibly also for taking part in international armed conflict too).

WinterNovember 27, 2015 8:42 AM

@Dirk
"There is little doubt in my mind that the new influx of hundreds of thousands of new refugees is only going to exacerbate the existing problems with groups that have a long tradition of integration and employment issues."

I think we should not simply equate Syrian, Iraqi, and Eritrean refugees with second generation Maghreb young men. There are large Turkish and Iranian communities in Europe that do not cause problems. I think the Syrian refugees will have more in common with these two communities than with the Berber immigrants from the other side of another continent.

There is also a large Chinese community in Europe that does not seem to integrate in any meaningful way. No problems have been reported for the Chinese at all in Europe.

I think that if we treat Moroccan young men as just another group from a fractured community at the bottom of the SES, we get a much better understanding of their behavior than trying to compare them to educated urban Syrians.

JesusNovember 27, 2015 3:05 PM

@Clive

Sadly it happens not because they are strong, insightful or intelligent, but because they are weak and incapable of thinking beyond the present and realising cause and effect and the consequences it holds for them.

I disagree with most of your spinning, but the material you spin certainly contains elements of what I consider the more improvable elements of global life. An analog I find interesting is the infamous 'Rat Park' experiments with hard drug addiction. It turns out that for rats to turn into self destructive addicts, it helps to keep them penned up in small cages and restrict their ability to live the kinds of lives their genes were expecting. I.e. all those lab rats you read about choosing cocaine or heroine over food to the point of self-starvation, actually tend to not like numbing drugs so much if they have a park to run around in, instead of being penned up in a cage. Likewise I see religious extremism as a symptom of the problem, and not the cause. We've heard lots of stories about Assad dropping 'barrel bombs' and 'chlorine chemicals' on civilian populations. Seems to me that religious and all manner of insanity are likely to result so long as people have the feeling that Putin will use the threat of nukes to keep such a despot in a position of lordship over them. I'm just saying that if people looked around and saw more of a park than a cage, they would likely be a hell of a lot more rational.

Clive RobinsonNovember 27, 2015 4:11 PM

@ Jesus,

We've heard lots of stories about Assad dropping 'barrel bombs' and 'chlorine chemicals' on civilian populations. Seems to me that religious and all manner of insanity are likely to result so long as people have the feeling that Putin will use the threat of nukes to keep such a despot in a position of lordship over them.

Your hypothesis is the wrong way around. The "religious insanity" if you want to call it that started befor Assad and issues in Syria. Likewise few had even considered Putin's relationship with Assad untill very recently. And as far as I'm aware the idea of Putin using nukes has only come up with one or two talking heads since Putin started air strikes in the area, supposadly as a potential threat to keep the US etc at bay. As far as I'm aware no one takes the idea even remotely seriously especialy Putin.

As for the behaviour of confined rats, nearly all such animal deprevation experiments have been banned for a considerable period of time for ethical reasons and similar studies found all sorts of other apparent out of charecter behaviour. Many have subsequently been discredited in various ways, as have primate studies that showed cannibalism etc.

The take away being that using animals for psychological type experiments is extreamly difficult and researchers can see paterns in data that don't bear out under different tests, or they inadvertantly become part of the experiment. Yes they talk of the idea of the experimenter in measuring the experiment effecting the outcome in the same way as measuring particles in physics experiments...

Dirk PraetNovember 27, 2015 4:18 PM

@ Winter

I think we should not simply equate Syrian, Iraqi, and Eritrean refugees with second generation Maghreb young men.

That's not what I meant. I mean that their arrival will make it even harder for 3rd and 4th generation North African immigrants to find their way on the job market. And I don't question in any way the successfull integration of quite some other immigrant groups like Southern Europeans, Turks, Asians and the like. You're even right about the Chinese being a very closed community, but I don't know of any problems with them either. Same for Indians. But these two in general have an entirely different migration profile.

I could go on for a while about the sociological and other reasons - most of which have nothing to do with either race or religion - why a large part of young men of North African descent are so unemployable, but the simple fact is that they're being outcompeted both in hard and soft skills by practically every other demographic group. Even by their own sisters.

I think that if we treat Moroccan young men as just another group from a fractured community at the bottom of the SES, we get a much better understanding of their behavior ...

I believe we very much do understand their behaviour and where it comes from. It's just the solutions that are eluding us.

@ Jesus

I'm just saying that if people looked around and saw more of a park than a cage, they would likely be a hell of a lot more rational.

Good point. But since you're using drug addicts as an analogy, you also know that you can't help any addict as long as he doesn't realise that he is at least part of his own problem and is willing to break out of the prison of his own mind.

JesusNovember 27, 2015 4:25 PM

@Dirk - clearly my thinking was along the lines of helping a few mammals out by suggesting its better to build parks for them than it is to indefinitely detain them.

JustinNovember 27, 2015 7:42 PM

I'm not sure the connection is so direct, but ex-CIA director James Woolsey is directly blaming the Paris attacks on Snowden, and he says Snowden should be hanged for it. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/260817-ex-cia-director-snowden-should-be-hanged-for-paris

Current CIA Director John Brennan is a lot more politic about it, not even mentioning Snowden explicitly. http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/260573-cia-director-attacks-snowden-following-paris-attacks (Headline says "CIA director assails Snowden," but that's not really what the article says.)

Glenn Greenwald of course has something to say about it. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-1126-greenwald-snowden-paris-encryption-20151126-story.html

Clive RobinsonNovember 28, 2015 6:14 AM

@ Justin,

The Ex CIA head accuses Ed Snowden of breaking his oath, and thus treason.

But that oath that all serving officers of the CIA have taken is to the constitution... And it's the CIA amongst others who are abusing, breaking and ignoring the constitution.

So perhaps we should apply the Ex CIA head's logic to him first...

Perhaps he should consider his own neck first, before taking the sort of pleasure a nasty six year old school yard bully takes in describing the effects he want's to see others suffer.

It's actually rather sad that the peace security and safety of 300,000,000 Americans and 600,000,000 Europens rest on the decisions of such inadiquates and their childish venality, due to their own impotence in carrying out their primary assigned task...

Nick PNovember 28, 2015 10:34 AM

@ Clive Robinson

re CIA director's reaction to Snowden

He can feel free to explain how CIA is all about loyalty and law to both Valerie Plame and the people on the torture investigation. Hypocrites. I'd wipe my ass with any claim he sent about loyalty to the U.S.. Then, mail it back to him via courier to make sure he opened it personally.

tyrNovember 29, 2015 2:30 AM


@Clive,Jesus

One thing rarely mentioned because urbanites do not like
to hear about it, the overpopulation studies when all of
the other needs are satisfied. The behaviors triggered do
look suspiciously like the behavior patterns in urban
centers as do the general pathologies humans exhibit in
those areas. Humans have a method of sublimating which
is to extend ones percieved physical territory by auto-
mobile, or to extend into cyberspace mentally. The real
danger exists when each of these gets threatened by cutting
them off. Nobody wants to hear how fragile modern urban
society is to a shortage of fuel or electrical power.

I'm sure that no young male who is unemployed and looked
upon as a useless redundant by his society understands
what he really needs (territorial space, mental or the
real physical spaces) but it does effect their behavior.
The colouration caste system doesn't help much even though
few would argue that the hindi structure means much as a
guide to who is superior and who should be rated inferior
by skin hue.

Vilfredo Pareto noted that the ability to circulate upward
because of personal merit was the clearest indicator of the
robustness of a society. Once you try to stifle that by a
mad scheme to enforce static classes in society, the society
is on its last legs because that generates the forces that
will overthrow it instead of enlisting their excellence into
the system. Chinese assume if you are chinese the community
has to police your behaviors so they don't reflect badly on
the rest of them. Their criminal elements are wildly hard
on innocent bystanders when they want to make a point to the
ordinary about staying in line with kickbacks.

Academe has done a great disservice to society by engaging in
social sciences that are not based on science and making the
intuitive and emotional claptrap of the ancients the core of
their reasonings about their own foregone conclusions. With
no basis in experimental testings to anchor them you get the
misguided ideas that pass for solutions to social problems.

C S Lewis once proclaimed that all men have always felt the
same things are right and good and true, apparently he had
never actually looked at his fellow man to see if he was right.
If you use his idea as a basis for integrating others into
your society you will fail and never understand why it failed.

Of course this assumes you are not blinded by the results you
want to see before you dig into an alien culture. The Gypsy is
a classic example of western society failing to integrate an
alien culture by exposure to its wonderful value system. That
doesn't mean you can't do it, but you nver will integrate them
by assuming it will happen by osmotic magic.

Society has to get behind things that work and push them onto
the younger generation to achieve the desired results. Nothing
happens by magic in an atmosphere of benign neglect.

WinterNovember 29, 2015 4:31 AM

@tyr
"One thing rarely mentioned because urbanites do not like to hear about it, the overpopulation studies when all of the other needs are satisfied."

When all is said and done, population density is not a direct factor in social problems. The regions with the highest population densities, Tokyo, Singapure, some European cities, are among the safest and best places to live.

There is an indirect effect as high densities can lead to a brittle infrastructure and decrease robustness.

Studies on rats say nothing at all, as people are not rats.

Dirk PraetNovember 29, 2015 11:43 AM

The Gypsy is a classic example of western society failing to integrate an
alien culture

Note that in the EU there are several ongoing efforts under the Commission's "EU Framework for national Roma integration strategies up to 2020", like the Multi-Annual Roma Programme and LERI by the Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

The main purpose of these programs is to improve Roma (gypsy) integration in the areas of education, employment, housing and healthcare. Despite a thousand years of prejudice and institutionalised discrimination to be overcome, good progress is being made, but for which the active buy-in of the Roma community and its leaders is also indispensable, and which, unfortunately, is often problematic. Succesfull integration is, has always been and will always be a two-way street.

WaelNovember 29, 2015 12:14 PM

@Dirk Praet,

Succesfull integration is, has always been and will always be a two-way street.

Yes I agree with that statement which, I think, can be derived from rights and privileges. The alternative to the two way street is a one-way street, which we know is, unfortunately also, a dead end street.

JesusNovember 29, 2015 2:59 PM

@tyr

Society has to get behind things that work and push them onto the younger generation to achieve the desired results.

It's my hope that society will better itself specifically in regard to its ability to judge which things 'work'. Clearly the WoD seems like epic failure, though perhaps Cannabis was genetically engineered by Hitler, and that is the real reason for the criminalization of its Science. You do seem to acknowledge this though -

With no basis in experimental testings to anchor them you get the misguided ideas that pass for solutions to social problems.

Sancho_PNovember 29, 2015 4:19 PM


@ tyr: Thanks, esp. for mentioning Vilfredo Pareto.

@ Winter:

Right, but I wouldn’t reduce overpopulation to just physical population density.
As “people” (and rats) consist of individuals, the perception of density varies greatly. Boring village or huge town? Whilst most youngsters are not even aware of such “stress” factors they couldn’t change it anyway.

The perception of overpopulation may be also a result of the awareness / knowledge about “the other world”, about others living different lives “next door” (small world, isn’t it?).
Our unsolved, immanent joblessness due to automation + open slavery [1] and simultaneously seeing “happy and successful” people (in the media) is frustrating, sometimes resulting in a dangerous mental loop.

To enter the loop it is mandatory to be extremely sensitive, while joblessness is a booster on the way to a kind of mental illness.

Add mom’s working all day for some bucks (a loser), dad left (also a loser), therefore lack of respect, the feeling to deserve better [2] but being ignored / unwanted by our society -
Now welcome them by a group with a vision, giving them importance, destiny and a deadly weapon (power).

While we embrace cruel video games and perverted TV series we are shocked when some people are killed in reality.
- But only when it happens in our neighborhood (and on NATO grounds).


[1] Be glad to work for 6 US$ per day when you are female and born in India …
[2] Yes, esp. Maghreb, but we have to accept that ethnic groups are different in many aspects, this is why our world is both colorful & beautiful.
This kind of mental illness is related to addiction and can be found in all cultures.

Sancho_PNovember 29, 2015 4:23 PM


@Dirk Praet, Wael, re integration:

Why do we always try to integrate others as it would be a cure for their disease?

Is our successful integration into Native Americans the better example of western supremacy,
or is it the integration of black people because of the US president?
The suburbs of Paris, or is it Molenbeek?

No, we can’t.
Cultures are and will be different until the very end, but that’s welcome (diversity).
The troublemaker is religion, a fictional and irrational belief that unfortunately drives our day, in all cultures of our world.

Dirk PraetNovember 29, 2015 5:40 PM

@ Sancho_P

Why do we always try to integrate others as it would be a cure for their disease?

That's not what it's about. In any society, different tribes either unite on a series of common values, beliefs and goals or eventually end up slaughtering each other.

The troublemaker is religion, a fictional and irrational belief that unfortunately drives our day, in all cultures of our world.

No, it isn't. Throughout history, religion time and again has been used and abused to turn people against each other. And always for the same reasons: the gaining or maintaining of power, control and wealth. Why do you think the separation of state and religion in secular societies came into being in the first place?

... but we have to accept that ethnic groups are different in many aspects, this is why our world is both colorful & beautiful.

You're stating the obvious. But which in itself is not a miracle recipe for peaceful coexistence on the same turf.

@ Jesus

perhaps Cannabis was genetically engineered by Hitler

Please. The only reason cannabis was villified in the West was because unlike alcohol and tobacco, it was not indigenous to our culture. And yes, I know tobacco was brought from the Americas by the first explorers.

WaelNovember 29, 2015 5:50 PM

@Sancho_P, @Dirk Praet,

Why do we always try to integrate others as it would be a cure for their disease?

Many reasons, to list a couple:

  1. The original inhabitants (host country) want to preserve their way of living
  2. The host country believes it's system is superior to other systems
Cultures are and will be different until the very end, but that’s welcome (diversity).

Yes, integration and assimilation are two different things. With integration, different pockets of society may maintain their customs and habits, but they are expected to be a constructive member of society with the same rights and obligations as other groups. Assimilation, on the other hand aims to keep a homogeneous society where everyone looks the same, acts the same and thinks the same.

There is also another perspective.

Pick the one you like. Just remember: resistance is futile :)

WaelNovember 29, 2015 6:21 PM

@Dirk Praet,

The only reason cannabis was villified in the West was because unlike alcohol and tobacco

I beg to dipher, sir. It's because there was no way to impose tax on it, but that's changing now! Remember that Hashish is also a form of canabis and is pretty popular in specialized cafés in some European cities (my sockpuppet of late told me.)

Be forewarned of the language in the last link. By the way, indigenous Americans used to smoke cannabis in thier pipes, not tobacco, just sayin' ...

ianfDecember 2, 2015 12:52 PM


(1:5) [Apologies for a compound reply spanning several days' worth of branching discussions. If continuing, BE MERCILESS with the scissors]

@ Jason Richardson-Whitewas on LinkedIn until recently. […] Bruce is surely right that, for some percentage of [the large number of his LinkedIn contacts], "defeating" terrorism would mean the end of a career… can't help but believe that most of these people are thoughtful enough to be aware of this fact and to understand that they will need to transition away from the terrorist fight "after it is won".

East-West terrorism (=mass violence for ideolo/political purposes inflicted by the first onto the second) is not something that can be "defeated," much less eradicated, and that fact is very well known for everybody in the counterterrorism business. At best, some instances of terror can be nipped in the bud, or thwarted for a while, but, given the low cost of inflicting great physical and psychological damage onto one's real or imaginary enemies, it will recur as long as there are have-nots for whom turning kamikaze seems to be the only means of hitting back against the haves. So, unlike you, JR-W, I do not harbour any hopes of there being any "thoughtful enough" counter-terrorists willing to "transition" to some less belligerent occupations. Frankly, why rock the trough that feeds you so well rhetorical question.

    [BTW. funnily enough, after a day & half on LinkedIn I figured it out as a Fuckfacebook for spooks, primarily spotters (of agent material), but also such assigned to watch the noise to signal ratio among the cadres of the meritocratic nomenclature. So I deleted the account, and now answer any "friend requests" from there with a form-ish letter that begins with the words »You, X, and I have never been "friends," merely acquainted via email, and now that you let LinkedIn into your contacts book with my particulars in it, you've effectively destroyed the trust of privacy that I once bestowed in you. Please remove my address from it to limit future damage.« Harsh words, I know, but seem to be working ;-))
[…] JR-W favors an approach in which diplomacy is used to reach out to the Arabic world to reassure those who have been deceived into believing that "the West" is out to "get Islam".


First of all, it takes 2 to s.l.o.w-f.o.x.t.r.o.t. Knowing the fate of Anwar Sadat, do you really see *ANY* Arab leaders bold enough to engage in (for the West, that is the sole cause of the East's downfall) fruitful diplomacy—because I do not.


[…] In the end, [JR-W] wants Arab Muslims, and all other Muslims, to accept pluralism. […] the majority of, certainly most Muslims living in the West, have accepted a more liberal view in which "jihad" means something like "self-mastery".

What you (and I) want doesn't matter. What—generalizing—Arabs in the West want is, obviously, to enjoy living as they originally/always did… albeit in a stable and prosperous society of a kind that they've failed to build in "Arabia," yet are not much willing to contribute to by adapting to "Westernian" ways. Go, find the golden middle ground, you'll have the Peace Nobel in the bag. See ya in Oslo next October, then (I'll be the one with the helicopter rotor over my beanie, and the house meerkat pin in me lapel).

@ A/RES/20/2131 ¶2

The root cause of both terror and repression is CIA impunity for armed attacks on civilian populations. Until you tackle CIA impunity, terror and repression intensify each other.

Much as I hate to be taken for a defender of "CIA's honour" (?what? honour?), I need to point out to you that terror existed before CIA, and exists now in places with little or no CIA presence or influence. Let's not make the Boys in Black Fedoras the linchpins of everything… as we know from the post-mortem of 2001/9/11, they fuck up as often as they "succeed" with something. So your emo criticism of them is just that, emo.

ianfDecember 2, 2015 12:56 PM


(2:5) [If continuing, BE MERCILESS with the scissors]

@ Dirk Praet […] Like nazism, salafism is a scourge that is completely incompatible with our democratic values and that should be banned and eradicated from our societies.

Nolo contendere, but do observe that nazism was the spelled-out & proud-of-it ideology of one particular NSDAP party, whereas (expressions of) salafism are much less formalized, and thus difficult to categorize. We all know what we dislike, but lawful societies' jurisprudence can not function without in advance codified culpable behaviors, or at least legal precedents for same. Getting there may take quite some time, but what is needed now are governmental edicts for e.g. automatic placing of all "profiled returnees" from ISIS territories in temporary DISPERSED custody (so they won't use that time to attend Salafist University), until their cases can be evaluated from the standpoint of future threat to the society (by analogy, which may be a hearsay, Russians [ethnic Germans and/or Jews] who managed to emigrate to Germany in the 80s, and then warts 'n all wanted to go back, allegedly were warned that they'd never be let back in to the BDR again).

Many gullible youths from North African and Arab descent in our countries are drawn to it for perfectly valid societal reasons like lack of identity, opportunity, purpose or perspective

This is Western-style conjecture. WTF PERFECTLY VALID SOCIETAL REASONS, a sense of alienation from the society because most of them have no jobs, yet somehow never starve? Try: wishful thinking of glorious death in IRL FPS-style adventure due to boredom with the ordinary same-old, same-old. At least the Da'esh lives up to its promise in that particular, if final, instant gratification category.

[…] Anyone either preaching or turning to salafism should no longer be welcome here and is either free to leave or become an outlaw and be removed from society.

Hate to be saying it, but that's far too liberal a proposition. What we need is return of chain gangs building up/ repairing and fortifying roads & other infrastructure and/or forced to work in dangerous environments under armed supervision (sadly, pretty much one of the elements sketched by Lawrence Sanders' in his 1975 dystopian novel "The Tomorrow File").

[…] “In doing so, we would also send a clear message to Saudi Arabia that however much we may need their oil, we will no longer allow them to quietly export a medieval ideology fueling hatred and discord on a continent that already has more than enough problems integrating and assimilating successive waves of Muslim immigrants.

The Wahhabi(s)ts etc. only understand the language of accomplished force. Hence, in lieu of military force, we need to hit them where it counts: their pockets. E.g. by "publishing" a "price list" for any future religiously-tainted acts: for each of our dead, so-and-so-much frozen of their bank assets etc. outside their jurisdiction. If they withdraw the money & place with banks in Dubaï, etc. we freeze Dubaïan assets in the same amount. And so on. Their amassed fortunes become worthless and their hungry mouths start a-gaping. For each sermon advocating jihad against the West, one more closed mosque. Plus: no more reserve parts for your Mercedeses… and no frizzy knickers for your harem ladies from Harrods. This last IMO should prove extremely effective a form of political extortion.


@ “It is really remarkable how the USG continues to think it has any leverage or control whatsoever over Saudi Arabia or Turkey, or that either of those would be an ally in the fight against Da'esh. They aren't, so please get a grip.

Correct. On the other hand, what else could they be doing than employing the LBJ-Hoover tactic: officially it's better to have the Saudis inside the Western tent pissing out, than outside pissing in. What is inexplicable is allowing the Saudis to piss inside the tent so to speak.

As to the Kurds, Erdogan is never going to allow a formal Kurdish state or even a strong and united Kurdish region next to Turkey. Despite all support they are now getting and the progress they're making, there is no doubt in my mind that in the end they will be betrayed once again and sacrificed on the altar of international politics. But I am repeating myself.

Yes you are, but that's not the point. Rather, that you treat Erdogan and the Kurds (and Putin) as historical constants, where they are variables. Whereas I (also repeating myself) say that new power constellations in ME and thereabouts may emerge, including an ultimatum from the NATO to Turkey. Stranger things have happened. Erdogan starts to sound and behave more and more like Saddam Hussein, not a happy coincidence. The NATO of today needs Turkey, but it's a conditional benefit and if you expect the Kurds to be betrayed again, how come you so firmly believe the same could not happen to Erdogan?

@ November 26, 2015 3:07 PM

[…] “there is only so much society can do. At some point, [the immigrant North African communities] also need to take up their own responsibility, including spiritual and other leaders within it who have a much bigger influence on these loose canons than anyone else.

Correct, only there's this basic incompatibility between by and large secular mentality of the West, and religion-driven Muslim communities there. Nobody has thus far found a way to reconcile the duality and the schizophrenia stemming from such an approach. In the African home countries the pervasive presence, and up to a point humanistic values of the religion are not questioned even when transgressions occur. Transplanted to the West, the same Islamic mentality suddenly loses the moral weathervane and the social control of home community, which in liberal laissez-faire societies suddenly looks like a total libertine, uncontrollable limitless privilege. Which it never is.


Change can only come from within, and so, yes, there is an important role for community leaders there too.

Yes, but if change is to come, it has to be anchored in civic, secular, values stemming from the Judeo-Christian Western traditions, and that presupposes teaching the originally Islamic children to keep their religion to within their private domain (which carries its own risks… my wee daughter was told in primary school of "baby Jesus," and later of Lenin). In effect to become infidels or heretics acc. to their native ways of thinking.

@ November 26, 2015 4:32 PM

We can discuss opinions till hell freezes over, but figures are figures, and simply ignoring those on grounds of political correctness is not helping anyone.

Correct again, and it has to be said that one of the unexpected, for democracy positive, dividends of the November 13th Paris massacre is that their Islamic/ Jihadi/ Salafist origins are now being discussed without previous fear of appearing politically incorrect. The unfortunate effects include the Social Democratic and liberal parties co-opting slogans and anti-immigration ideals of right-wing/ Le Pen'ist parties in order to win back some of their electorate. This is no small matter… I myself elected to cease contact with 2 people who went over to the right simply because they see no other option of stemming the tide of (and not even Syrian, etc), but Romanian & Bulgarian Roma EU migrants now begging outside practically every food store all over Northern Europe. Schengen Accords, we hardly knew ye.

ianfDecember 2, 2015 1:03 PM


(3:5) [If continuing, BE MERCILESS with the scissors]

‎‪@ Wael

Dirk‬‎ Praet: I can't possibly imagine a neo-nazi or a gay person being able to live a happy life in Qatar or Saudi Arabia either.

    Saudi Arabia, probably true. Qatar. You'd be surprised.

Would you extend that promise of a surprise to, say, defenseless Filipino domestic maids raped by their Qatari employers, then deceased of natural causes?

Further on, you dazzle us with experiences of various ethnic misbehavior in Sweden, where you also “heard about some sort of a Swede sniper who shot several foreigners before he finally got caught. This was surprising to you.

If you're talking of the musician Peter Mangs, that was the second such modern case of purifying the white Swedish race one dark skinned foreigner at a time. The first, “Laserman”, was a socially inept once-German immigrant turned bank robber and African big game hunter who used to shoot at random local "darkies" with a laser-pointer equipped pistol. Due of extreme randomness of his acts, he only got caught in a very "fishy" way: he disposed of the weapon by throwing it straight down from a bridge that's popular with hobby anglers, one of whom later fished it out. The police traced the serial numbers to him & he's now growing old in lifetime prison.

The other one, Mangs, despite being borderline autistic, was smarter than that, used several techniques to obliterate his traces and confuse the investigators. He operated in the dark for several years before lawmen even realized they were dealing with a serial murderer of foreigners. Subsequently, his "race purification idea[l]s" have been praised in the deranged scripts of Anders Behring Breivik. Only recently, and well behind bars, is he being recognized/ someone went through the trouble of reading his amassed correspondence/ as a "precursor" of KKK-like white-power purification ideology in Sweden (but then what do I know… secretly the Swedes may be envious of Norway coming up with a Breivik, just as they once found it hard to stomach that it was in Oslo, and not in Stockholm, that Yasser Arafat wrote under the subsequently worthless—but for the Nobel Peace prize—Accords of 1994. No joke, I was there, covering it from the sidelines).

[…] wanted to jump out of the bus and bitch slap [the child jester]… I would go to jail if I said anything to that child. Children can get away with murder there, literally. And they know it.

No, you wouldn't, not for just talking. They're children, responsive to the society's mollycoddling of them, but legally not responsible for their misbehavior. So it's the majority liberal society that should be bitch-slapped for continuing to allowing it to happen, and not holding their guardians to account. Because those children will grow up with a sense of entitlement to a payback for perceived past real and imaginary wrongs.

Some 15-odd years ago I, too, had such an unpleasant encounter with some immigrant children in Malmö, during a bicycle trade fair. Fortunately I kept my cool, and basically forcibly lifted them off one by one from the stand when we were closing. They were so flabbergasted that someone dared to bear a hand on them that they just shuffled off. All the same, I watched my back when walking away from the fair some time later. Perhaps they sensed my resolve that, if any "revenge" is a-brewing, I won't be the sole one tasting it.

[…] Now I understand why the sniper was pissed

You understood nothing. And don't excuse murderous insanity with having been provoked by unexpected obnoxious behavior of children/ others. When I was barely teenage, I shoplifted a packet of raisins from a food supply storeroom at a summer camp. I was caught, and my parents were notified of it. My father spoke to me about it, I don't remember what he said, but well recall the sadness in his voice. I swore never to cause it again. That was all the lesson for life I needed – so why couldn't these very children be taught similar gradually graver misbehavior lessons?

[…] It's a fundamental law in Islam that if one cannot abide by the law of the land, one isn't allowed to live in that land, and conversely if one lives in a land, one must follow the law of the land.

If that is a true interpretation of Islam, then it ought to provide a legal basis for forcible repatriation of any immigrant Islam family whose adolescent offspring or adult members have been found unable to follow local Western laws. Each new arrived immigrant would first be required to attend local jurisprudence classes, and have it explained to her/him what's on/not on, in order for the law to be applicable. Yes, that's collective responsibility I am talking about—because individual ones within the immigrant group(s) have in places consequently been shirked.

ianfDecember 2, 2015 1:08 PM


(4:5) [If continuing, BE MERCILESS with the scissors]

@ Clive Robinson

Your imaginary model of the House of Saud building on that of the Catholic Church's infect-them-young policy, is just that, imaginary. A lot other, weightier factors are at play here, but the basic one is that the Sauds acceded to power by a Western fiat. Thus they have to cover their de-facto tribal lording-over illegitimacy by expanding the power base (~8000 entitled members of the ruling clan, and counting), and otherwise kowtow to the most conservative religious forces around, which is Wahhabism—the promise of return to the "pure" Islam—which everybody knows is a pipe dream, but those that call it so are labeled heretics and infidels. There really is no need to complicate it further still.

BTW, am so r.e.l.i.e.v.e.d to hear that tyr at least has “no interest in reliving the previous ages of history over again in some half-assed assumption that [the Muslims] are going to rewrite the past with new blood.

    … now, if we only could get the other half billion or so other Muslims to think alike. Or even only to think at all.

@ Justin […] “Charlie Hebdo is OFFENSIVE. You Europeans publish that kind of stuff and expect moderate Muslims not to take up extremist ideologies. They need a viable alternative and a way forward in society, where they are not marginalized, persecuted, mocked, baited, etc.

Well, the law of the West is that mockery and satire, however unpleasant to the ear & eye rhyme accidental, ARE WITHIN THE CULTURAL REMIT. The Muslims on the other hand (in general) cling to a medieval notion that anything remotely critical of their religion or non-hagiographical of the so-called Prophet, is a heresy, and the messenger deserves the lash. These 2 positions seem rather incompatible, but IF Wael is right […] “It's a fundamental law in Islam that if one cannot abide by the law of the land, one isn't allowed to live in that land, and conversely if one lives in a land, one must follow the law of the land.,” THEN the fundamental Muslims obviously want to have their cake AND eat it.

ianfDecember 2, 2015 1:35 PM


(5:5) [If continuing, BE MERCILESS with the scissors]

@ Gerard van Vooren

[…] extremely violent so called Mocro Mafia War in and around Amsterdam with its AK47 drive-by shootings. In none of these killings the attackers showed any respect for bystanders. And the police don't even know where to look.

For which (the last) you should blame the police, or its supervisory authority, the Mayor?, and ULTIMATELY the local community (including, yes, your very self) for allowing it to take root.

Winter: This example alone shows that the violence from North African men has nothing at all to do with religion.
Of course not, the allegedly religious/ clash-of-cultures angle is added to it by the liberal kommentariat in search of something profound to opine.. The Maghrebi Boys simply lap it up.

The pattern of the police absolving itself of any responsibility, indeed looking through the fingers at "ethnic crime" as long as it only affects other "paysans", is what causes the small gangsters to grow up into big ones.

    A DIGRESSION THAT I'M SO FAMOUS FOR: once rode a tram in right-bank Warsaw (called Praga), when two "dressers" (muscle men in formal training coveralls attire) started shaking down passengers. I saw people reach for banknotes, ready to oblige. One challenging look at me, however, and they left me, and also by-the-look-of-them-locals alone. When done, the two asked the driver nicely to stop and let them off into a park by the track, which he was glad to do. Afterwards I was told they were Russian Mafiosi who "collected" only from other Russian guest workers (mainly Ukrainians) en route to a large building site, and that the problem was well known to the police who let it go on because the alternatives would be worse - here at least it takes place in broad day light, and without blood being shed. DIGRESSION SADLY ENDS.

There is something that is completely wrong within the Moroccan society living in The Netherlands, Belgium and surrounding countries. I can't get a grip on what it is, but it is there. It could be the pressure the parents and society puts on a boy to be the head of the next generation which in our more open society doesn't work out.

Please, spare us homegrown causal theories about faraway mentalities that have transplanted themselves onto foreign soil where they try to survive any which way they can. They don't know how to deal with us either—hence the constant Kulturkampf, conflict and acrimony. The West has a problem with falling fertility rates, not enough future tax payers to cover the costs of present soon-pensioners, while needing young workers to fill the jobs, which is the reason why such immigration has been allowed to take place, indeed welcomed for decades. But local communities never calculated the cost of carte-blanche importing the good and the bad alike.

To be honest Dirk, I agree with your POV.

    Thank you for that explicit signifier… from now on I'll know how to read you if text not accompanied by such ;-))

@ WinterThe problems of Maghreb boys and young men transcend what their own community can handle. It is obvious that the society should do everything in their power to integrate them.

That last statement is as meaningless fuzzy as they come: everybody agrees on that, nobody knows how to. In the end, I fear that, having once been welcomed into the West with open arms, yet failed to police its young so they grow up into responsible adults, the "Easterners" may get the rod. Because what other alternatives are there, “Children of Men” (2006)? Perhaps when faced with real religious and cultural oppression by the West (mosques razed to the ground, all Muslim criminals in chain gangs tending dikes, etc.), the Saudis will feel forced to open up their coffers and borders to the persecuted brethren of the Umma.

I think one of the main problems with the situation in Molenbeek as compared to other cities in Belgium or the Netherlands is the Byzantine political and law enforcement situation in the metropolitan area of Brussels.

Bollocks, nobody wants to be held accountable, so the various city and regional police forces play "juridical chairs," and shuffle the problem elsewhere. Because in the end what matters to them are yearly statistical reviews, not any real accomplishments—which also costs money.

@ Dirk Praet [in response to Gerard Van Vooren & Winter]

[large cut…] There is little doubt in my mind that the new influx of hundreds of thousands of new refugees is only going to exacerbate the existing problems with groups that have a long tradition of integration and employment issues. In other parts of the world, they would have left in search of a better future somewhere else a long time ago. But what's keeping them here is the double-sided sword that is our Western European social safety net: it provides just enough not to starve or become homeless, but not enough to offer any meaningful perspectives.

Fortunately (or not, defending on one's outlook), this is also going to change simply due to the large, barely governable numbers of asylum seekers. Many more people will be deported forcibly than happens now, and the continental EU states may adopt the UK's asylum-seeker-behind-bars-until-case-is-resolved policy. As it is now, in Germany, the Benelux, Denmark and Sweden there are thousands asylum "refusees" missing… nobody knows where they've gone, and nobody seems much interested in looking for them (also the police has no manpower for it). Because a large number of those missing are children, lots of "children welfare" organizations make noises of this being a scandal, that these children (let's talk en clair: 14-18yo predominantly Afghan and Eritrean etc boys) have been trafficked into pædophilia, slavery, and the like. But, after making the necessary noises on daytime TV, I don't see them mounting any hands-on campaigns, initiatives to trace those missing souls. It's not inconceivable, that a large portion of them has visited and got registered under different names in several countries. Now, that there is talk on the wires of Denmark and Sweden (and Schleswig-Holstein?) agreeing to share biological age tests and biometric registry, I expect these missing numbers to go down.

Commenting the above by Dirk Praet, Winter wrote: we should not simply equate Syrian, Iraqi, and Eritrean refugees with second generation Maghreb young men. There are large Turkish and Iranian communities in Europe that do not cause problems. I think the Syrian refugees will have more in common with these two communities than with the Berber immigrants from the other side of another continent.

Correct, but remember that the current waves (900k Medi migrants in 2015, and counting) are made up of both legit refugees and all kind of opportunistic "job seekers" (because in the West jobs are plentiful and for the taking). All will need to be fed and housed while being vetted, and the local bureaucracies are not as nimble at adapting to new conditions as the migrants themselves. So it's a 3-way struggle: Western states intending to live up to their asylum ideals against migrants that may or may not qualify for such against local/regional administrative fiefdoms bent on maximally preserving the old ways.

And then there's the REAL DIVIDEND of the migrants IN PLACES being the Answered Prayers to the very real problem of depopulation: or else how are we to read the fact that e.g. some of the poorest counties in northern Sweden have welcomed influx of up to 50% (several thousand) new Syrian & Afghani arrivals—because that is the only guarantee of them holding onto their post office, the second primary school, primary-care hospital, and (state monopoly!) local liquor store. And all that while "Stockholm and Brussels" pays for it (that depopulation specter also threatens rural parts of former DDR, France etc).

Dirk again: […] our societies cannot force people to leave, especially those who over the years have acquired the nationality or are descendants thereof, we cannot permit them to become ticking time bombs either.[…] I believe resorting to other and harsher measures against those who have come to reject our society eventually will become inevitable too.

    Alas, yes. Including revoking of born-and-bred citizenship and expulsion of these individuals to the countries of their forebears (with those countries' benevolent permission—or we reassign part of your foreign aid to your neighbor. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures).
@ Jesus

I don't talk to no Jesus, comma period.


@ Justinex-CIA director James Woolsey is directly blaming the Paris attacks on Snowden, and he says Snowden should be hanged for it.

The Snowden whistle-blowing occurred partly on his watch, so of course he's trying to make hay out of it. Because it's a hyperbole we can assume it's not going down well, that's why he has to escalate. As an aside, the obvious moral cleanliness and quiet eloquence of Ed Snowden is more than the ex-spooks can stomach (Assange take note). Because they know that, were Edward to be heard on US telly in direct debate with the USG, they'd have a major publicity disaster on their hands.

Glenn Greenwald has something to say about it.

Last week I heard GG on the France 24 (Eng) cable channel direct from Rio, where he made an acute remark in regard to the US/ Euro LEOs cries for backdoored encryption—an argument I haven't encountered earlier, nor seen mentioned since (quoted from imprecise memory): “What do terrorists need encryption for? Look at the Paris attacks, two relatives preparing it en face; look at the Kouachi brothers in Paris in January; look at the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. Clearly, the terrorism is more and more becoming a family affair. So why would the law enforcement need those powers for?

    ObLitRef I can but add that that "familial" terror planning/execution dimension—no less to preserve the OPSEC from known Arab treachery—is the key in John Le Carré's 1983 novel “The Little Drummer Girl,” called in 2004 by a lit.heavyweight reviewer “the best recent novel about terrorism”.

--30--

WaelDecember 2, 2015 2:27 PM

@ianf,

You understood nothing. And don't excuse murderous insanity with having been provoked by unexpected obnoxious behavior of children/ others

Surely someone with your demonstrable linguistic skills and acumen is able to discern the difference between "understand" and "approve". I said I understand what pissed him off, I do not approve of what he did.

KIRK: You mean to tell me your people just walk into a disintegration machine when they're told to?
ANAN: We have a high consciousness of duty, Captain.
SPOCK: There is a certain scientific logic about it.
ANAN: I'm glad you approve.
SPOCK: I do not approve. I understand.
-- Startrek, Taste of Armageddon

WaelDecember 2, 2015 3:06 PM

@ianf,

Would you extend that promise of a surprise to, say, defenseless Filipino domestic maids raped by their Qatari employers, then deceased of natural causes?

I am not surprised at all by this.

Well, the law of the West is that mockery and satire, however unpleasant to the ear & eye rhyme accidental, ARE WITHIN THE CULTURAL REMIT

It's trivial to demonstrate the falsehood of this statement.

I am afraid I'll apply the scissors to the rest of your comments on this topic.

Dirk PraetDecember 2, 2015 5:52 PM

@ ianf

What we need is return of chain gangs building up/repairing and fortifying roads & other infrastructure and/or forced to work in dangerous environments under armed supervision

I honestly don't believe in that sort of stuff, nor the feasibility of passing a legal context for it. This is not the US here.

what is needed now are governmental edicts for e.g. automatic placing of all "profiled returnees" from ISIS territories in temporary DISPERSED custody

Something several European countries including Belgium and France are working on. Taking away host countries' citizenship from dual nationality citizens and/or expelling people will be much harder, both from a domestic as international law perspective.

WTF PERFECTLY VALID SOCIETAL REASONS

I refer to @Wael's excellent reply from Star Trek Armageddon.

The Wahabi(s)ts etc. only understand the language of accomplished force

However true that may be, it's not going to happen. Too many Western governments and companies are in bed with them, and they'd rather tolerate several Bataclans a week than moving against them.

Rather, that you treat Erdogan and the Kurds (and Putin) as historical constants, where they are variables

Only in the long term. The position of the Kurds has been the same for 100+ years, and Erdogan pretty much controls the situation in Turkey. He is for now untouchable, or as the French say "incontournable", unless Putin comes up with irrefutable evidence of him being in bed with Da'esh.

if change is to come, it has to be anchored in civic, secular, values stemming from the Judeo-Christian Western traditions, and that presupposes teaching the originally Islamic children to keep their religion to within their private domain

The separation of religion and state is one of the fundaments of our Western societies. Those that cannot accept that reality have no place here and should leave. But as @Winter already said too, religion is not the real problem. It's deeply rooted cultural differences of which religion is only one aspect.

but Romanian & Bulgarian Roma EU migrants now begging outside practically every food store all over Northern Europe.

Begging in more than one culture is considered a perfectly valid way of making a living. Over here, it's actually forbidden. The best way to deal with it is by never giving anything. It's one of the first things we teach our students in India. If they insist, or become agressive, you kick them.

One last thing: is there any particular reason why you seem to be hell-bent on antagonising people who - just like you - are merely expressing their opinions on this forum? We all disagree on stuff, but wouldn't it be possible to do it in a wee bit more amicable way?

Clive RobinsonDecember 3, 2015 3:38 AM

@ ianf,

Your imaginary model of the House of Saud building on that of the Catholic Church's infect-them-young policy, is just that, imaginary.

It was not even imaginary. I had previously posted on the sums and sources of money used to promote "Islam" of which 90% of comes from Saudi/Whabist donors who's wealth comes from "petro-dollars" from the likes of the US. I was asked what might happen to this promotion if the money ran out.

I pointed out that the petro-dollars will run out and that it's then a question of how funding could continue.

I pointed out two things the first is that the oldest currently running Church Empire is the "Holly Roman Empire"[1] and that the two religions had certain fundemental charecteristics -other than sharing the same god-- and one of which, the concentraiting on children whilst they are very young and highly impressionable is something to be warry of (in any organisation).

Thus my use of the Holy Roman Empire was pointing out that it was possible for the Saudi funding to be in effect "seed money" and that after a certain point in time a tipping point would be crossed such that the organisation became self funding. I actually expressed doubt that they would follow in the same model, however I was not rulling out other models that would achive a self sustaining end, past the initial funding.

Whilst there are a lot of other pertinent points about a whabist future, they were not germaine to answering that it was more than possible for a whabist backed organisation to survive financialy for a couple of thousand years into the future.

The fact that you have decided to add some does not change my point that there are historic models that show that it is easily possible for such an, entity continuing far into the future financialy.

If it does survive or not and in what form I can not predict, whilst I do have some opinions on this they are not germaine to answering the question I was asked, or for that matter the usual subjects discussed on this blog [2].

If you want to have that discussion then ask me what I think and why, and we can go through things bit by bit if our host and others feel it is relevent, or do not object.

[1] Tyr, pointed out that the longest running religious organisation was in Japan. However there is a fundemental question as to if they "currently exist" or not, in that how far can an organisation change before it is sufficiently different with it's past that arguably only the name is the same. Further as Tyr himself pointed out, they are more or less confined to Japan currently. Importantly they do not appear currently to have an expansionist policy driven in the way of either the Holy Roman Empire or the Saudi's appear to be.

[2] I don't know how long you have looked in on this blog, but as other old hands will confirm it does evolve within limits. Originaly it was very focussed around specific aspects of mainly communications security. It has broadened that highly technical focus as the insustry likewise has had to broaden it's "threat surface", you can see that by the way the original ISO OSI seven layer model has been conceptually expanded upwards through users into managment and politics and downwards into the physical substrater of the "physical layer". What I don't know is how far or fast our host will allow the evolution/broadening, but we do know his own research interests have moved above layer seven by some way as his writings have shown.

aaaaaaaaaaaaDecember 3, 2015 2:16 PM

No. As long as people are weaker than their government they will be surveiled. Surveillance is the mean to stay in power, and it will be increased without any respect to public opinion. You can go and break the surveillance cameras - the state will use the remaining, find you and prosecute. Even if you magically destroyed all the cameras instantly, they will hire a professional forensicist and find you and prosecute. You can disobey the law - and you will be prosecuted. You can tell people to overthrow the government - and you would be snitched and prosecuted. You can start riots - and you and your fellows will be killed. The folk will likely surrender their freedoms and rights than die fighting them.

ianfDecember 3, 2015 5:02 PM


ADMINISTRIVIA @ Wael,
                                         let's not quibble over which precise meaning of "understand" you understood to mean "but not approve of." Perhaps my understanding of someone else's declared understanding of something bad presupposes a degree of approval, else it'd be "no unnerstan'." Especially when the shallow malbehavioral sample you quoted had no bearing on that sniper's decade-long criminal insanity.

Also, I did not ask whether you'd be surprised—you were not—but if you'd still extend your apparent approval of the liberal "gay/Nazi(?)-friendly" Qatar to the fate of defenseless domestics there. Foreign servant women who are oppressed not solely by their patriarchal hosts. PS. that was from Saudi Arabia in 1987. Tell me it's waaaaaaay, way different now in Qatar.

However, it's too bad you elected not to conduct the "trivial demonstration" of by you alleged falsehood of this my statement:

ianf: the law of the West is that mockery and satire, however unpleasant to the ear & eye rhyme accidental, ARE WITHIN THE CULTURAL REMIT

[Corroborating evidence.]
Perhaps I could learn something new, sharpen my rhetorical technique ;-))

BTW. this is the second posting in which you hide behind StartTrek, a show where a couple of neon turds artfully taped to a forehead signifies advanced extraterrestrial intelligence. What is it with you Americans, that makes you reach for the bottom of barrel, use it as profound point of cultural reference to shore up your arguments?

    FTR I have not seen a single episode of that tape-worm-like TV series due to a lucky coincidence: my first knowledge of it came through an SNL sketch in which the actor playing "Captain Kirk(?)" harshly scoffed at, and confused scores of adoring die-hard Trekkies—complete with pointy ears et al—at a fan convention. “GET A LIFE!” he shouted. This was immediately followed by a disclaimed that that was a “recreation of the 'Evil Kirk' episode” – which sufficed for me.

ianfDecember 3, 2015 5:13 PM


@ Dirk Praet doesn't believe in [Muslim chain gangs in EU], nor the feasibility of passing a legal context for it. This is not the US here.

Quite, chain gangs have never been a part of the European punitive tradition, where we've moved from drawing-and-quartering to skewering on a tree-trunk pole; to beheading by sword and hanging; to (humanitarian) guillotine and garrotte; to shooting at dawn; and finally to the debtor's prison and expulsion to Australia (=Siberia with palms and snakes). Nor did I really mean to propose such American inventions here, only that there's a dearth of succinct English metaphors for that kind of "productive" custody… the next stage being a "Gulag." Which nobody wants, but then there may come a time when nothing else works for those who proved to be a threat to the stability of democracy (sort of oxymoron).

Taking away host countries' citizenship from dual nationality citizens and/or expelling people will be much harder, both from a domestic as international law perspective.

Correct, but nothing is impossible. Remember that EU is at its wits' end… the Swedish PM now wants the legal framework for closing of the Øresund Bridge at a moment's notice should that become necessary (all border & customs controls are on the Swedish side; compare that to shutting down the Chunnel); for the first time since the latest big "displaced persons" migration post WWII the Europe is forced to examine its readiness to deal with any such future unruly friendly invasion (e.g. what if Russia were to repeat the Syrian exodus? RHETORICAL ONLY)

The Wahabi(s)ts etc. only understand the language of accomplished force

Dirk: Too many Western governments and companies are in bed with them, and they'd rather tolerate several Bataclans a week than moving against them.

While the first clause is true, you can't seriously be meaning the second… I can think of no Euro government, or industrial enterprise, that would survive a whiff of such a premise. The USA is no longer dependent on Saudi oil, and more countries will follow. There's no solidarity among Arab OPEC countries, so the Saudi oil weapon will continue to lose ground (independently of Clive Robinson's "petro-dollars," of which more later). Once a tipping point is reached, the Saudis had better start to listen, and listen they will.

The separation of religion and state is one of the fundaments of our Western societies. […] But as @Winter already said, religion is not the real problem. It's deeply rooted cultural differences of which religion is only one aspect.

Yes, but, Dirk, no, but… we're not talking of any one religion, Islam or otherwise, but of the religious mindset that Muslims (by and large) are born into and carry with them… which will need to be supplanted by our secular/ atheist one, that also happens to be anchored in the occidental Judeo-Christian tradition. A tough challenge to even contemplate it, then do it right..

[…] Romanian & Bulgarian Roma EU migrants now begging outside practically every food store all over Northern Europe.

    The best way to deal with begging is by never giving anything. It's one of the first things we teach our students in India. If they insist, or become agressive, you kick them.

I'll have to read that riot act to the Romanian "on duty" when I next walk by my neighborhood Recycling Station – WAIT! I no longer recycle anything there, put everything into ordinary trash, because I do not wish to be checked over what kind of in Romania resellable goods and containers I throw out. Also, Europe isn't India, beggars or no beggars (and the beggars know it).


[…] you seem hell-bent on antagonizing people in this forum. We all disagree on stuff, but wouldn't it be possible to do it in a wee bit more amicable way?

Thanks, Dirk, I much appreciate this, the most valuable thing one person can give another (praise is easy, criticism is hard). If only I knew what exactly it was that made you say that… because while I might occasionally use some gloves-off expression (perhaps my way of delivering criticism?), I have yet to call anyone names, or accuse of being e.g. the obvious US DoD-plant Skeptical (which happened to me twice—I haven't forgotten). I want this forum to chug along, but that presupposes that truisms etc get called out for what they are, a spade, and their oft-repetitive "issuers" discouraged from, hmmm… repeating. My way of impersonating an adult.

Though I don't always manage it, I try to be brief which makes me unwilling to cotton-sugar the words. Experience also taught me that IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO AVOID ALWAYS BEING INOFFENSIVE TO EVERYBODY (triple negation!!!) Especially as this forum occasionally attracts one-thread-wonder posters of whom the most charitable that can be said is that they've forgotten to take their meds on that given day. Nevertheless, now and then their lengthy "elaborates" end up being treated with utmost seriousness by others that ought to know better. And then they fizzle out. But in the meantime they take up my and everybody's time and screen real estate.

Dirk PraetDecember 3, 2015 7:59 PM

@ ianf

for the first time since the latest big "displaced persons" migration post WWII the Europe is forced to examine its readiness to deal with any such future unruly friendly invasion

It's one of the downsides of the EU, which in its current form is starting to look like a larger version of Belgistan: gazillions of politicians with different ideological backgrounds, from different (semi-)autonomous regions and different administration levels all looking out for their own best interests. Result of which is that it takes a lot of time to make decisions, let alone implement them. The financial crisis already made that abundantly clear, and it's happening again with the refugee issue today. Especially because nobody ever expected Oswald Spengler's predictions to come true some day.

I can think of no Euro government, or industrial enterprise, that would survive a whiff of such a premise.

Today, the German BND published an unusually harsh report about Saudi Arabia destabilising the entire Middle East. The German government immediately distanced itself thereof. While it is indeed not the BND's job to issue such stuff, someone high up in the chain of command obviously found it necessary to ring a couple of alarm bells. Several Bataclans a week is of course a bit of hyperbole, but there is no denying that there is something very strange about the incredible leeway the Saudis are being given, and that goes back all the way to the suspected involvement of Saudi agents and officials in 9/11.

we're not talking of any one religion, Islam or otherwise, but of the religious mindset that Muslims (by and large) are born into and carry with them… which will need to be supplanted by our secular/ atheist one

It took us quite some time to shake off the shackles of our own religion too. There's plenty of Muslims I know that have made or are making similar transitions, adopting the main principles of our society while at the same time remaining faithful to their cultural inheritage and religion. It's not like both are mutually exclusive, unless of course in a Wahabi or Salafist vision of the world. And which I indeed believe is fully incompatible with ours.

Also, Europe isn't India, beggars or no beggars (and the beggars know it).

Yes, they do. Most of them look upon us as pathetic weaklings they can push around as much as they want to, in a worst case scenario filing a complaint with a local police force that doesn't do squat about them anyway. At some point, our neighbourhood was terrorised by a one-armed Romanian and some accomplices. They hastled everyone for spare change, sold drugs from the window of their appartment (paid for by social services), stole from local pubs and shops, harassed women. Despite dozens of complaints, police did nothing.

Without going into much details, the situation was eventually sorted in a rather violent way by a local Afghan shopkeeper and his brothers. The Romanians were never seen again. Which all of us learned from. Today we maintain a zero tolerance policy in our neighbourhood, with the police happily looking the other way as long as we don't put anyone into the hospital.

If only I knew what exactly it was that made you say that ...

Well, I did find your tone in previous replies to @Wael and @Clive rather offensive. @Clive's theory was "imaginary" and @Wael "didn't understand anything". With your impressive mastery of the English language, I'm sure you can convey such thoughts in a far more gentle way. Keep the strong words for folks like @Rolf Weber 8-)

WaelDecember 3, 2015 8:11 PM

@ianf,

let's not quibble over which precise meaning of "understand"

None of its meanings imply approval, but let's not quibble...

Perhaps my understanding of someone else's declared understanding of something bad presupposes a degree of approval, else it'd be "no unnerstan'."

Stop quibbling!

Also, I did not ask whether you'd be surprised

Okay, I know that's not what you asked but my answer is adequate, nonetheless.

but if you'd still extend your apparent approval

Who said anything about approval? I said I'm aware of such incidents. I said nothing about approval or disapproval!

PS. that was from Saudi Arabia in 1987

Wrong is wrong wherever it happens.

Tell me it's waaaaaaay, way different now in Qatar.

Okay, it's waaaaaaay, way different now in Qatar. Happy?
But seriously, I don't know. I don't live there, I never visited there. But from what I hear and see it's worse than before.

However, it's too bad you elected not to conduct the "trivial demonstration" of by you alleged falsehood of this my statement:

That's a choice I made.

sharpen my rhetorical technique

But since you insist...

Yea? In the west, go in public and jokingly praise Hitler or deny the holocaust took place and see what happens. You may get a jail sentence in some European countries. Some people also disagree with you as they recognize It’s time to admit that banning Mein Kampf while allowing anti-Islam cartoons is a double-standard -- Michael Moynihan, Tablet Magazine’s “Righteous Gentile” columnist.

How about if I said Hitler wasn't an antisemite and the term antisemite is a misnomer? Evidence? Here is one:

Fascinated by Eltouny's performance, Adolf Hitler, who was watching from the stands, rushed down to greet this human miracle. Prior to the competition, Hitler was said to have been sure that Rudolf Ismayr and Adolf Wagner would embarrass all other opponents. While awarding Eltouny with the gold medal, Hitler told him: 'Egypt should be proud of you. I wish you were German. I hope you consider Germany your second home'. Hitler was so impressed by his domination in the middleweight class that he ordered a street named after him in Berlin

BTW. this is the second posting in which you hide behind StartTrek

I only gave a reference that clarifies the distinction between the two words. And I gave references to Startrek a lot more than twice (may be twice with you.)

What is it with you Americans, that makes you reach for the bottom of barrel, use it as profound point of cultural reference to shore up your arguments?

That statement is "sofa kingdom" ;) Out of curiously, what reference would you prefer? Space 1999?

Quick edit:

@Dirk Praet,

Keep the strong words for folks like @Rolf Weber 8-)

You tear me up man... Leave him alone! Lol!

Dirk PraetDecember 3, 2015 8:44 PM

@ ianf

BTW. this is the second posting in which you hide behind StartTrek, a show where a couple of neon turds artfully taped to a forehead signifies advanced extraterrestrial intelligence.

Now you are *really* getting on thin ice. If ever @Wael and myself get our hands on you, we're gonna lock you up in a dark basement and make you binge watch all 79 episodes of the original series. And by the way, I once quoted from the same "Taste of Armageddon" episode on this blog. It's an absolute classic about virtual wars being fought by computers, dating back to 1967. The make-up and SFX may look a bit silly today, but Gene Roddenberry & co. were off-the-scale visionaries.

@ Wael

It’s time to admit that banning Mein Kampf while allowing anti-Islam cartoons is a double-standard

Which unfortunately recently lead someone to re-issue "Mein Kampf" in Germany, 70 years after Hitler's death and copyright expiration. Not entirely the expected or desired outcome of that debate. But publicly glorifying that monster in most of Europe (except Ukraine) will still have the same effect as shouting out you're Salman Rushdie in Teheran's Grand Bazaar.

Hitler was so impressed by his domination in the middleweight class that he ordered a street named after him in Berlin

He was however really pissed off with Jesse Owens 8-)

WaelDecember 3, 2015 9:11 PM

@Dirk Praet,

But publicly glorifying that monster in most of Europe...

You know that's not my intention. I only wanted to show @ianf that his statement was false.

He was however really pissed off with Jesse Owens 8-)

Yea, I'm sure he had the same sentiments towards Joe Lewis (and Max Schmeling) too ;) I liked this movie about the life of Max Schmeling, btw...

SkepticalDecember 4, 2015 8:51 PM


What I wrote last week:

The policy repercussions here seem very likely to be limited to:

1 - an increase in headcount of the security services of certain nations in order to take better advantage of existing surveillance authorities;
2 - an increase in information sharing between European governments;
3 - possibly a change in approach to ISIL - including some acceleration of an existing strategy.

And that seems to be exactly what is happening.

We're also seeing the early stages of an acceleration of the existing coalition strategy against ISIL in Syria and Iraq. I'd hazard to guess that, with the development of more credible ground forces and Erdogan's domestically secure political position in conjunction with his weaker international position, one will see a marked increase in the tempo of certain types of operations in Syria, with the goal of disorienting, demoralizing, and ultimately destroying ISIL as an regular military/political organization.

Russia has continued its charade - and it's called a charade by nearly every nation other than Russia, Assad, and Iran - of attacking ISIL while focusing almost entirely on other rebel groups of greater relevance to Assad. And this is not by accident - the strongest position for Assad and Russia to achieve in Syria would be one in which other viable rebel groups are reduced and the choice is between ISIL and Assad.

It's a desperate stratagem that will fail. Kurdish forces, and now increasingly Sunni fighters from various tribes that have some connections with US and other coalition forces, are growing stronger by the day, and their ability to coordinate with coalition air forces - really the USAF as other participating air forces are not able or do not conduct dynamic targeting and strikes - has improved considerably.

I'd also like to see ISIL's propaganda machine eclipsed - completely - by a credible counter-attack based on actual facts (of which, concerning ISIL's evil, there is no shortage). This would be a counter-attack that shows how ISIL really treats women; what life is really like under ISIL; what manner of men ISIL really allows to patrol and to decide who lives and dies, who is raped and who is not. And it would be one which shows the shortages ISIL is facing; their threats to kill civilians who leave Ramadi ahead of an imminent attack; their defeat at Kobani; the ceaseless, and accelerating, deaths of their commanders; the ability of coalition forces to conduct raids on the ground anywhere, anytime, with near total impunity.

ISIL: anti-Islamic, corrupt, venal, and hopelessly outmatched by the forces they face. They are an organization that is already dead and simply dares not face that fact.

For those focused on Saudi Arabia, I don't think you understand how divided parts of the KSA are, or how much wealth is held by individual members of an extraordinarily large number of individuals. It required a long time - equipment, training, the development of laws and protocols - before the institutions and technology were in place to even begin to trace the flow of funds out of that country, and others. That's now greatly improved. And the Saudis have furnished immense cooperation in combating al Qaeda and affiliated organizations.

Some of you are confusing the Government of Saudi Arabia with the various cultural enclaves within the nation's population. That's a grave mistake, as the two are often very different. The wealth of certain individuals and groups within KSA and elsewhere continues to be problematic. But I actually wouldn't call the Government of Saudi Arabia a problem - if anything there is another nearby state that has flirted far more with Islamists for their own ends than is prudent, though that has it seems come to an end.

@Dirk: regarding your doubts as to whether US surveillance, and other counterterrorist efforts, have foiled plots in Europe:

Even the fiercest critics of surveillance programs, once shown the evidence, agreed that it had. European Governments do not cooperate with the USG on CT out of a sense of awe or sheer good will - they KNOW the benefits they have received, and continue to receive.

So you can continue what amounts to an entirely implausible skepticism - that a government with access to the most sophisticated technology on the planet, a network of foreign intelligence agencies who have been eager to be helpful, and a very deep counterterrorism bench - has not thwarted any plots against Europe, or you can be rationale, and admit that if even the staunchest critics, having viewed evidence, agree that such plots were thwarted, then they likely were.

I also must continue to protest against the notion of stripping citizenship of a person for the ideas he argues. If freedom of expression cannot survive in Western democracies - if radical propaganda in Western societies cannot be countered effectively in a free marketplace of debate and discussion - then we are in a lot of trouble, and ISIL is the least of it.

In the US you are not only permitted to speak freely in favor of whatever ideology, however disgusting, you choose, but should you decide to hold a march in support of that ideology, the police would be obligated to provide protection. Yet there are no signs in the US of neo-nazis becoming viable movements, nor abortion-clinic bombers, nor Islamist extremists.

JustinDecember 4, 2015 11:02 PM

@Skeptical

Yet there are no signs in the US of neo-nazis becoming viable movements, nor abortion-clinic bombers, nor Islamist extremists.

I agree with you more or less on the abortion-clinic bombers and Islamist extremists, but neo-nazis, kkk, and various white supremacist skinhead groups have definitely been on the rise over the last decade or so.

(An example of one such group: https://vault.fbi.gov/Aryan%20Brotherhood%20/Aryan%20Brotherhood%20Part%201%20of%201/view, apparently responsible for some 30% of all murders in the federal prison system.)

Still not a "viable" movement insomuch that people would openly vote them into political office, but a threat nonetheless, and they probably exert quite a bit more control than people realize over, say, medicine and higher education.

Angel Demon in the FleshDecember 5, 2015 2:44 AM

@Skeptical

I'd hazard to guess that, with the development of more credible ground forces and Erdogan's domestically secure political position in conjunction with his weaker international position, one will see a marked increase in the tempo of certain types of operations in Syria, with the goal of disorienting, demoralizing, and ultimately destroying ISIL as an regular military/political organization.

Air attacks always come first. Navy, Air Force, Marines. Only when the ground is decimated do you send in the Army...

I really, deeply have to blanche at your naivety. My wife actually said it well the other night, people try and approach this problem with *humanity*. But, this is not the way the problem needs to be solved. A problem which was quite intentionally architected from the beginning.

I mean, you have this name "Skeptical", but of what? Do you think I am the only one who knew the intelligence to invade Iraq was horrible, and supported it anyway? Who knew that refusing to divide Iraq into Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish territories spelled doom for the region?

This was the blender solution from the beginning. And it was and is necessary.

ISIL is entirely ineffective for any purposes they believe they are serving.

They are cheerleaders for the doom of the 'way things have been in that region' is exactly what they are.

Unrealistic humanist 'feel good' 'sounds good to people' philosophies aside. Which simply do not get what ugly business needs to get done to deal with these very ugly, serious problems.

I also fully supported the takedown of Libya and Egypt, knowing the resulting hell that would be born there.

God forgive me for the blood on my head.

Russia has continued its charade - and it's called a charade by nearly every nation other than Russia, Assad, and Iran - of attacking ISIL while focusing almost entirely on other rebel groups of greater relevance to Assad. And this is not by accident - the strongest position for Assad and Russia to achieve in Syria would be one in which other viable rebel groups are reduced and the choice is between ISIL and Assad.

Oh come on. Assad can not be removed. They have a treaty with Israel they actually uphold. Israel is nuclear and serious.

If the US used the nuclear solution after the horrors Japan inflicted on the world, how much more so would the sons and daughters, the grandsons and grandaughters of Holocaust survivors?

And who of reasonable mind and heart could blame them?

But, the blender solution is far more fun. Satisfying.

Remove Assad and you have what? Fundamentalist Muslims in control. The tide of balance would be turned. It would be a nightmare mess.

But, blunt truth be told, Egypt also has a critical treaty with Israel. And what have they accomplished. So, all of this is just claws to dig in and pull everyone big and powerful all the closer.

really the USAF as other participating air forces are not able or do not conduct dynamic targeting and strikes - has improved considerably.

'Death from Above'.

Must be terrible to see the sky full of drones raining hell on them.

Especially when your hospitals are being targeted, and doctors have already fleed.

... Saudi Arabia...

An useful idiot. Very temporarily.


But I actually wouldn't call the Government of Saudi Arabia a problem - if anything there is another nearby state that has flirted far more with Islamists for their own ends than is prudent, though that has it seems come to an end.

Useful, idiot "strong men". Is all they are.

Fremenies.

Believe me, in private, I totally can get from anyone, and have, Marine, Army, Air Force, DoJ (FBI, etc), CIA, DHS, NSA -- nuke the whole country and then see who comes out to fight. Nuke the whole region. Private conversations, sure. And totally socially acceptable, bonding currency.

But, we are being nice. In the most vicious way possible.


Really, if you are going to support these strategies, get with the program and understand what is happening. If you do not know what it means to say, "Okay, I agree with this mass carnage, it must be done", you are being dishonest with the beliefs.

Too many cheerlead without consciously agreeing to exactly what they are putting their name to.

Things were bad during the 2000's infitada.

9/11, Hamas taking leadership in Palestine, something severe had to be done.

Truth is? It all looks way worse then it is. Short term pain, for long term benefits.

SkepticalDecember 5, 2015 8:30 AM


@Angel:

Air attacks always come first. Navy, Air Force, Marines. Only when the ground is decimated do you send in the Army...

Sometimes. A combined arms approach is more often optimal however, and it will be in this case even when non-US ground forces constitute most of the boots on the ground. It proved very effective in Afghanistan and it is proving effective when used with Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq. ISIL's tactics are ill-suited to attacking or defending against a force with sophisticated air to ground and ISR capabilities.

I really, deeply have to blanche at your naivety. My wife actually said it well the other night, people try and approach this problem with *humanity*. But, this is not the way the problem needs to be solved. A problem which was quite intentionally architected from the beginning.

I'm not sure how I'm being naive. Could you point it out to me?

Oh come on. Assad can not be removed. They have a treaty with Israel they actually uphold. Israel is nuclear and serious.

Israel is, wisely, keeping a low profile in order to avoid interrupting a clash between multiple forces that are usually hostile to its own interests.

Is Israel comfortable with the fall of Assad, and a partition/settlement of the Syrian Civil War that would likely reduce Iranian and Hezbollah power? They are more than comfortable.

Israel has made quite clear its position to Russia. With a smile for the cameras, and with a deft covert hijacking of a ship bound for Iran with a S300 anti-aircraft system (look up Arctic Timber).

Remove Assad and you have what? Fundamentalist Muslims in control. The tide of balance would be turned. It would be a nightmare mess.

No - the removal of Assad is not the same thing as destroying the Syrian Army. Assad can abdicate and the Syrian military, and much of the Syrian Government, can remain in place. Indeed it is essential that they do. The mistakes of Iraq - in particular the infamous disbanding of the Iraqi military, over the strong protests of individuals from across the range of government agencies (and some NGOs as well) - will not be repeated in Syria.

Believe it or not, the US military places a huge premium on learning from the past.

Must be terrible to see the sky full of drones raining hell on them.

Especially when your hospitals are being targeted, and doctors have already fleed.

I'm not sure what you're implying here. That the US is deliberately targeting infrastructure to make life unpleasant for the civilian population as a means of increasing discontent with ISIL? They're not.

If it's a reference to Kunduz, then I'm not sure what your point is. That seems to have been a horrible error, but such errors remain a possibility when close air support is provided at night in a complicated battlespace. Anyone who thinks otherwise should look up the friendly fire incidents that have occurred in similar circumstances, when AC-130s accidentally targeted (whether because they erroneously identified something as a target or because someone else did) US and allied forces (such mistakes have occurred with other aircraft and with ground to ground indirect and direct fire as well).

Useful, idiot "strong men". Is all they are.

Fremenies.

You're thinking of Saudi Arabia, and other states, as unitary actors. They're not. The situation is more complicated than you seem to think.

Believe me, in private, I totally can get from anyone, and have, Marine, Army, Air Force, DoJ (FBI, etc), CIA, DHS, NSA -- nuke the whole country and then see who comes out to fight. Nuke the whole region. Private conversations, sure. And totally socially acceptable, bonding currency.

So what? You think that's policy? Sergeant So-and-So told me at a bar that we should nuke the place and be done with it - and now you've insight into US foreign policy?

Really, if you are going to support these strategies, get with the program and understand what is happening. If you do not know what it means to say, "Okay, I agree with this mass carnage, it must be done", you are being dishonest with the beliefs.

Again, I'm not sure what you're talking about. You seem to believe that ISIL is some deliberate creation of the US and that the US welcomes the bloodshed of the Syrian Civil War. If that's what you mean by "these strategies," then I'd say you've read one too many conspiracy websites or too many Russia Today "news" articles.

Gerard van VoorenDecember 5, 2015 8:53 AM

@ Skeptical,

> Believe it or not, the US military places a huge premium on learning from the past.

I learned that drinking coffee and laughing creates a mess.

Dirk PraetDecember 5, 2015 11:37 AM

@ Skeptical

Even the fiercest critics of surveillance programs, once shown the evidence, agreed that it had.

So you keep saying. I am also a very fierce critic and I have been shown no evidence whatsoever. I do keep seeing terrorist attacks or attempts that weren't prevented by said programs.

I also must continue to protest against the notion of stripping citizenship of a person for the ideas he argues

President Hollande and a growing number of other European politicians disagree. Stripping host country's citizenship of dual nationality citizens promoting or engaging in jihadist activities seems entirely appropriate to me. They are free to move to the US to exercise their rights to free speech and bear arms there.

We're also seeing the early stages of an acceleration of the existing coalition strategy against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

David Cameron doing a full 180 on his October statement that Putin's air raids were only increasing terrorism is quite hilarious indeed. The Paris attacks and the downing of the Russian airliner have obviously been a wake-up call for European leaders, most of whom also are starting to realise that Assad at least for now still has a role to play. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius today also said that toppling Assad is no longer a priority.

Kurdish forces, and now increasingly Sunni fighters from various tribes that have some connections with US and other coalition forces, are growing stronger by the day

Who then are these "moderate" Sunni fighters with US coalition connections you keep telling us about? Al Nusra? Division 30? The Turkish trained rebels in the border region the Iraqi government has just asked Erdogan to close their illegal training camps on Iraqi soil of? It's a very interesting narrative, but even the US press seems to have no idea whatsoever who these pink unicorns making good progress actually are.

Russia has continued its charade of attacking ISIL while focusing almost entirely on other rebel groups of greater relevance to Assad.

Until they downed that Russian airliner. If by numbers of attacks on Da'esh we have to call anything a charade, then that would be Turkey's so-called membership of the coalition against them.

But I actually wouldn't call the Government of Saudi Arabia a problem

The German BND strongly disagrees.

The mistakes of Iraq - in particular the infamous disbanding of the Iraqi military, over the strong protests of individuals from across the range of government agencies (and some NGOs as well) - will not be repeated in Syria.

Three words: Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Nobody in his right mind believes that Syria would be any different. Even if you wouldn't repeat the mistakes of the past - which I seriously doubt -, I'm sure you would find new and innovative ways to scr*w up even harder and then blame Russia, Iran or whatever puppet you've installed when everything turns to sh*t.

Believe it or not, the US military places a huge premium on learning from the past.

Unlike the politicians controlling them.

SkepticalDecember 5, 2015 1:56 PM


@Dirk:

So you keep saying. I am also a very fierce critic and I have been shown no evidence whatsoever. I do keep seeing terrorist attacks or attempts that weren't prevented by said programs.

Dirk, obviously these are classified and why would you expect to be shown them? But they have been shown to members of Congress, including the fiercest critics of these programs, and that those members agreed that plots have been stopped should tell you something.

It would also frankly be rather implausible to suppose that no plots had been stopped at all.

President Hollande and a growing number of other European politicians disagree. Stripping host country's citizenship of dual nationality citizens promoting or engaging in jihadist activities seems entirely appropriate to me. They are free to move to the US to exercise their rights to free speech and bear arms there.

"Engaging in jihadist activities" isn't the same as merely arguing for, or even simply believing in, a particular idea.

Nor did I say anything about a "right to bear arms." I spoke of free expression, nothing else.

David Cameron doing a full 180 on his October statement that Putin's air raids were only increasing terrorism is quite hilarious indeed. The Paris attacks and the downing of the Russian airliner have obviously been a wake-up call for European leaders, most of whom also are starting to realise that Assad at least for now still has a role to play. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius today also said that toppling Assad is no longer a priority.

Russian lack of precision weaponry and their support of the very regime that has driven much of the radicalization of many Syrians, and the exodus of hundreds of thousands more, is doing precisely that. Cameron hasn't done a 180 at all if his original statement is as I've put it here. As to Assad, almost every European leader has said that Assad must go. They and the US are flexible on the timing and manner of his departure from power, but everyone is clear that he needs to go for there to be a lasting settlement in Syria.

Is toppling Assad a priority over fighting ISIL? No - but it never has been. If it were you'd see US airstrikes directed not at ISIL targets but at regime targets - hell you'd probably see an airstrike directed at Assad. The US has always been quite clear that ISIL is the priority. But, just as importantly, it has also been clear that Assad's removal is a necessary condition for a LASTING settlement to Syria.

Who then are these "moderate" Sunni fighters with US coalition connections you keep telling us about? Al Nusra? Division 30? The Turkish trained rebels in the border region the Iraqi government has just asked Erdogan to close their illegal training camps on Iraqi soil of? It's a very interesting narrative, but even the US press seems to have no idea whatsoever who these pink unicorns making good progress actually are.

I like the way that the Kurds simply dropped out of the equation in your statement. Do Kurdish forces not count here? In any case, Sunni tribes are newer to the coalition, and smaller in number, experience, and training than the Kurdish forces who have been involved for some time, but here's one example since you asked for one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Sanadid_Forces. As more equipment arrives, and as those Sunni forces receive more training - and as they taste victories - the Sunni components will increase in number, making an assault on Raqqa more feasible in a number of respects. But, that said, the Kurds are the core of the force, battle-hardened and professional in conduct.

And incidentally - with respect to your claim that the US doesn't know how to turn a population against a force like ISIL - you've forgotten that the US did precisely that in Iraq. Not only does the US know how to do this as a result of having incorporated that knowledge into its institutional learning and doctrine, but many of the actual people who helped do so last time are available to help.

Until they downed that Russian airliner. If by numbers of attacks on Da'esh we have to call anything a charade, then that would be Turkey's so-called membership of the coalition against them.

Biden called Turkey out for its borders years ago, and the US has repeatedly asked Turkey to close the borders. Part of the problem is the stream of refugees - which, as I've suggested before, the EU ought to help stem in part by funding extensive refugee camps/communities within an established safe-zone.

The German BND strongly disagrees.

You mean the 1.5 page long memorandum leaked to the press that noted the possibility that a particular Saudi official might be too aggressive in pursuing domestic reforms and in a rivalry with Iran? The one that Germany's government stated did not represent the position of the German government?

And where in this memo does it say that Saudi Arabia is responsible for ISIL?

Three words: Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Nobody in his right mind believes that Syria would be any different.

Dirk, honestly, wtf? The Syrian Civil War has been raging for FOUR years. And you're worried about the US de-stabilizing Syria?

Even if you wouldn't repeat the mistakes of the past - which I seriously doubt

Doubt all you like. The US radically changed strategy in Iraq in 2007, with good results.

I'm sure you would find new and innovative ways to scr*w up even harder and then blame Russia, Iran or whatever puppet you've installed when everything turns to sh*t.

Sorry, MALIKI was a US puppet? Shi'ite militias are US puppets?? What have you been sprinkling on your cereal? KARZAI was a US puppet? Get real.

Unlike the politicians controlling them.

If you think the President of the United States isn't constrained at all by the thoughts of the US military, you're kidding yourself. A few leaked memos from the Pentagon can utterly destroy a President's preferred strategy in certain circumstances simply by completely undermining public support for that strategy.

Gerard van VoorenDecember 5, 2015 2:46 PM

@ Skeptical,

> Dirk, obviously these are classified and why would you expect to be shown them?

Let me reply that. If terrorist attempts have been prevented, there must have been people charged and jailed. These court cases would have been all over in the news because it would be a major victory for justice. How many of these cases do you know? Show me the money. How many guys with beards are behind bars? National Security, my ass. The simple fact is that ignorance is a major factor in intelligence foul ups (including 9/11) and this is where National Security kicks in.

> But they have been shown to members of Congress, including the fiercest critics of these
> programs, and that those members agreed that plots have been stopped should tell you
> something.

You mean the same congress that led both Alexander [1] and Clapper [2] walk free?

> It would also frankly be rather implausible to suppose that no plots had been stopped at
> all.

I would say the opposite is true.


[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw42HnhlGNo
[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwiUVUJmGjs

Dirk PraetDecember 5, 2015 5:11 PM

@ Skeptical

Dirk, obviously these are classified and why would you expect to be shown them?

The IC has done nothing but lie to and deceive the general public. Nobody any longer believes a word of what they're saying. If they want to regain any sort of trust, well let them come clean and come up with their evidence.

Cameron hasn't done a 180 at all if his original statement is as I've put it here.

Cameron on Russian actions (i.e. air raids) in Syria during the conservative party annual conference in October: "It's going to make the region more unstable, it will lead to further radicalization and increased terrorism."

Is toppling Assad a priority over fighting ISIL? No - but it never has been.

Not officially, that is. The US have wanted the Assad regime gone for decades. They just never expected the regime, weakened by both Da'esh and other factions, to last that long.

Do Kurdish forces not count here?

You know very well that I have always said that the only parties making real progress against Da'esh were the Kurds and the Russians. The part of the moderate, coalition-backed Sunni tribes is pretty much wishful thinking.

And incidentally - with respect to your claim that the US doesn't know how to turn a population against a force like ISIL - you've forgotten that the US did precisely that in Iraq.

More wishful thinking.

Part of the problem is the stream of refugees

So the stream of refugees are preventing the Turks from taking any meaningful action against Da'esh? That's laughable.

And where in this memo does it say that Saudi Arabia is responsible for ISIL?

The memo is saying SA is destabilising the entire region. Full stop. And yes, I cannot imagine either the German or US government being very happy with such a statement.

And you're worried about the US de-stabilizing Syria?

What everybody - except the USG - is worried about is the Da'esh black flag over Damascus if Assad is ousted.

The US radically changed strategy in Iraq in 2007, with good results.

Certainly. Large swats of the refugees you previously mentioned are in fact from Iraq. Great job!

If you think the President of the United States isn't constrained at all by the thoughts of the US military, you're kidding yourself.

I believe the thoughts of the US military are very much filtered by a State Department highly invested in sticking to a certain foreign policy and the accompanying narrative.

SkepticalDecember 5, 2015 6:14 PM


@Gerard: If terrorist attempts have been prevented, there must have been people charged and jailed. These court cases would have been all over in the news because it would be a major victory for justice. How many of these cases do you know? Show me the money. How many guys with beards are behind bars? National Security, my ass. The simple fact is that ignorance is a major factor in intelligence foul ups (including 9/11) and this is where National Security kicks in.

Do you follow terrorism cases at all? Here's one example of a foiled terrorist plot: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_European_terror_plot

Tell me if any aspects of that plot sound familiar to you.

If you want others, exercise a search engine. You won't lack for results.

As to the role of electronic surveillance, do you expect intelligence officials to reveal all sources and methods used to foil every terrorist plot?? Is that a serious question being posed on a security blog?

You mention 9/11. One of the key foul-ups by intelligence agencies prior to 9/11 was the failure to connect key pieces of signals intelligence - namely communications between a phone in San Diego California USA and a known AQ operations center in Yemen. It's plausible to suppose that sometimes intelligence agencies WON'T fuck up, and those intercepted communications will yield fruit.

Certainly. Large swats of the refugees you previously mentioned are in fact from Iraq. Great job!

I said that the US changed strategies in response to mistakes made earlier in Iraq with positive effect. The refugee numbers actually bear that out.

And by the way, that changed strategy meant exposing US troops to much greater risk for the sake of protecting the population from Shi'ite militias and Sunni insurgents (I'd call the Shi'ite militias insurgents - except that so many were working for/with the Iraqi Government). You want to know the real turning in American counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq? One of the two, anyway (hell there are probably 100, but this comment would become long even by my standards). One was when the lessons encapsulated in FM 3-24 became doctrine and the overall strategic approach. The other was when the US finally realized that the Iraqi Government didn't want to end the sectarian violence - they wanted their favored sects to win it - at which point the US took a much harder line with the Iraqi Government.

I believe the thoughts of the US military are very much filtered by a State Department highly invested in sticking to a certain foreign policy and the accompanying narrative.

I think you have it backwards when the key questions involve the use of military force.

BuckDecember 5, 2015 10:24 PM

So, after nearly a year and a half of promoting fear and amplifying extremist propaganda aimed at potential sympathizers in the west, it's finally time to think about implementing counter-propaganda efforts? If this delay were simply the result of institutional incompetence in the media and their intelligence sources, I would have expected to see at least one or two cooler heads point out that the divisive rhetoric was actually playing directly into the terrorists' hands... But when it comes down to it, they all fall in lock-stop on the same talking points - just as they did a dozen years ago in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

I can only assume the pot-stirring has been entirely intentional. Perhaps the boys just wanted an excuse to play with their new toys? Well, at least the operational experience they gain now using their newest mass surveillance and perception shaping technologies will help refine their techniques for waging next-generation informational/economic-warfare against China/Russia or whomever else in the near future... Good grief!

Gerard van VoorenDecember 6, 2015 2:45 AM

> Tell me if any aspects of that plot sound familiar to you.

The drone strikes are familiar but I don't see that they mention a court case. Justice is swift but not blind today when it is executed by the US in the Middle East.

> You mention 9/11. One of the key foul-ups by intelligence agencies prior to 9/11 was the
> failure to connect key pieces of signals intelligence

You forgot to mention the suspicious pilot lessons. That alone should have raised a red flag.

ianfDecember 6, 2015 5:38 AM


[…] the suspicious pilot lessons [by subsequent 2001/9/11 hijackers] alone should have raised a red flag.

And, if I recall correctly from reading “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright, they did, too. In two localities, Florida and Chicago, by two field officers, one in FBI, the other in some other TLA; neither tip followed up, nor dovetailed into a bigger picture (puzzle). Drowned in a sea of signals, each an potential indication of a threat, blanketed by noise. Some other agent wanted to examine the hard drive of the laptop of the "20th hijacker," the one who was held prior to the day on some lesser immigration or something charge, but did not receive an authorization from higher ups until post September Eleven. Now the spooks have all the authorizations they ever dreamed of, and more besides (to us of the Unknown Unknowns variety)… do you think this will ensure that they will let no future major terror act slip through?

    BTW. what surprises me the most is that none of the owners or pilot instructors of the flight schools where these hijackers trained reacted proactively to (I presume) higher than usual number of private Arab students wanting to fly the jumbo jets. Perhaps the hefty tuition income generated by these customers to, after all, private for-profit enterprises, obscured their clarity of vision.

Gerard van VoorenDecember 6, 2015 6:17 AM

@ ianf,

> And, if I recall correctly from reading “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright, they did, too.

You know what I mean. The 20 terrorists should have been behind bars, the two towers should still stand and Bush should only invade Iraq based on lies. That's what I mean with raising a red flag.

ianfDecember 6, 2015 8:25 AM


@ Gerard van Vooren “You know what I mean. The 20 terrorists should have been behind bars, the two towers should still stand and Bush should only invade Iraq based on lies. That's what I mean with raising a red flag.

Actually, I do not. Your "raising the red flag" seems to be a shortcut for "highest permanent threat alert," but no democratic society can sustain that for very long. But a "red flag" means chiefly "directing attention," alt. "issuing a warning," and not, as you seem to imply above, some automatic chain of consequences for the human subjects that awaken that interest.

Pre-2001 American approach to qualifying and responding to public threats was based on the traditional hijacking-for-political-gains model… which ended with the inflight call from aboard U175 who reported to the ground “I see buildings… oh my god… oh my god…” (paraphrased from imperfect recollection of The Norad Tapes account of 2001/9/11.)

Also, because the US Mil-Ind-Complex begat so many partly competitive intelligence gathering services, all engaged in various "wars on… something or other," and jealously territorial of its own patches, some issues were bound to fall "between chairs." I'm not excusing the misbehavior, merely pointing out the obvious.

I gave you a reference, read it, and scratch your head how several governmental institutions in the USA (incl. that of the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia) actively thwarted John O'Neill, practically the only person around with a vision of the threat posed by Al Qaida, because he was rocking the boat.


G.W. Bush should only have invaded Iraq based on lies.

Which is what he did, and some MISSION ACCOMPLISHED it turned out to be, too!

Dirk PraetDecember 6, 2015 11:00 AM

@ Skeptical, @ Gerard Van Vooren

I said that the US changed strategies in response to mistakes made earlier in Iraq with positive effect. The refugee numbers actually bear that out.

Official Belgian asylum request statistics for August 2015: 4,621 , of which 47.7% from Iraq and 19.8% from Syria. Over the last couple of months, the percentage of Iraqi requests has decreased significantly because they are systematically being turned down, especially young, single men from the Baghdad area. Same for Afghans. Which doesn't mean that they don't keep coming. They just go underground or try their luck elsewhere.

As to the role of electronic surveillance, do you expect intelligence officials to reveal all sources and methods used to foil every terrorist plot?

Nobody is questioning that plots have been foiled. Nobody is asking for sources and methods to be revealed. What everyone is asking for is honest and demonstrable statistics of plots that have been foiled through electronic surveillance. And which in every functional democracy is a perfectly legitimate question as to make a fully informed cost-benefit analysis of tax moneys spent, civil liberties curtailed and results achieved.

You want to know the real turning in American counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq?

Nobody doubts that over time strategic courses were adjusted and realigned with the reality on the shopfloor. But in spite of which, today's Iraq is still very much a failed state with large parts under Da'esh rule. Nobody doubts that Maliki's policies were a disaster. And yes, there is the historical background set by former European colonial empires. But what never ceases to amaze me is the ease with which the USG keeps denying any and all blame or responsability for the unbelievable mess they have created in a country they had no valid reason for invading in the first place.

Sancho_PDecember 6, 2015 6:26 PM

For the honest statistics:
I’d suggest to add the numbers of plots instigated by UC agents (in total) and how many of them had to be foiled because
a) the poor target was too stupid to proceed / succeed,
b) friendly but rivaling departments came too close to the plot, just by bad luck mostly.

Strategy changes?
Oh yes, over decades of war they’ve learned and adapted a lot in making friends all over the world.
The only sore point is all their friends are dead now.

Re Iraq: Don’t forget, the petrodollar was a valid reason.

SkepticalDecember 9, 2015 12:58 PM


@Dirk: Cameron on Russian actions (i.e. air raids) in Syria during the conservative party annual conference in October: "It's going to make the region more unstable, it will lead to further radicalization and increased terrorism."

More unstable in that the bombing is an attempt to sustain Assad's regime, and is conducted with minimal regard for civilian casualties. I rather doubt Cameron claimed that fighting against ISIL will make the region more unstable.

Is toppling Assad a priority over fighting ISIL? No - but it never has been.

Not officially, that is. The US have wanted the Assad regime gone for decades. They just never expected the regime, weakened by both Da'esh and other factions, to last that long.

"Wanting something" and "prioritizing something" are two different things.

The US would prefer Assad step down, and the US would prefer that ISIL be destroyed.

But the US has prioritized destroying ISIL.

Russia, by contrast, prioritizes the survival of the regime, even if it also might prefer - eventually - that ISIL be destroyed.

For Russia, the most feasible intermediate stage to accomplishing their objective is to cause there to be only two viable choices in Syria: Assad or ISIL. At that point, all the other major players in the West line up.

You know very well that I have always said that the only parties making real progress against Da'esh were the Kurds and the Russians. The part of the moderate, coalition-backed Sunni tribes is pretty much wishful thinking.

The Kurds have made progress against ISIL in large part due to effective coordination with American air power, and in the case of the KRG, equipment and training. The United States is the strongest, and closest, ally that the Kurds have.

And I frankly have no idea why you think Russia has made "real progress" against ISIL.

Of course this makes an interesting contrast. There is the cooperation between the US and the Kurds against ISIL, and then there is the cooperation between Russia and Assad.

That contrast tells you almost everything you need to know.

Me: And incidentally - with respect to your claim that the US doesn't know how to turn a population against a force like ISIL - you've forgotten that the US did precisely that in Iraq.

You: More wishful thinking.

You've forgotten the Awakening. Go look it up. It was a key component to the US turning the tide in Iraq during the counterinsurgency.

Me: Part of the problem is the stream of refugees

You: So the stream of refugees are preventing the Turks from taking any meaningful action against Da'esh? That's laughable.

I wrote, after noting that Biden had called out Turkey for not sealing its borders years ago, and that the US continues to do so today, that Part of the problem with closing their borders entirely is the stream of refugees.

Me: And where in this memo does it say that Saudi Arabia is responsible for ISIL?

You: The memo is saying SA is destabilising the entire region. Full stop. And yes, I cannot imagine either the German or US government being very happy with such a statement.

So it does not say that Saudi Arabia is responsible for ISIL. Okay then.

What everybody - except the USG - is worried about is the Da'esh black flag over Damascus if Assad is ousted.

One of the major factors distracting other factions from putting ISIL in the ground is the fact that most factions want to focus on Assad's forces. The United States does not want to see the Syrian military or government collapse because of the likely massacre and magnified anarchy that would follow. BUT the United States, and every other country except Russia, Iran, and Assad, want to see Assad step down.

Me: The US radically changed strategy in Iraq in 2007, with good results.

You: Certainly. Large swats of the refugees you previously mentioned are in fact from Iraq. Great job!

and you again:

Official Belgian asylum request statistics for August 2015: 4,621 , of which 47.7% from Iraq and 19.8% from Syria.

Yes, 4 years after the US pulled most forces out of the country. We were speaking of the results of US counterinsurgency operations in Iraq, however, and not the results of the policies of Iraq's elected government long after those operations ended. The fact is that in 2007-2008 the US adopted and executed a successful counterinsurgency strategy. As a result, the stream of refugees out of Iraq declined relative to previous years, and indeed within two years the UN began urgently noting the need to provide for RETURNING refugees.

Of course, with the departure of the US, Maliki's vicious sectarianism and and then ISIL's early triumphs over a hollowed Iraqi military, 4 years later those refugees climbed again.

But that has nothing to do with whether the US can successfully conduct a counterinsurgency strategy. It can and it has.

What everyone is asking for is honest and demonstrable statistics of plots that have been foiled through electronic surveillance. And which in every functional democracy is a perfectly legitimate question as to make a fully informed cost-benefit analysis of tax moneys spent, civil liberties curtailed and results achieved.

Those statistics have been provided - what you want are sufficient details for independent parties to determine whether the statistics are true. No functional democracy would publicly and en masse disclose such sources and methods. Instead a balance is struck between the need for oversight - and the US has more such oversight in the case of its intelligence agencies than any European country - and the need for secrecy.

Let me make the point again: when the most vociferous opponents of certain forms of electronic surveillance AGREE with the statistics provided after they have been shown the evidence, as has been the case with surveillance conducted under FISA 702, that in itself is strong evidence that the statistics are valid.

Nobody doubts that over time strategic courses were adjusted and realigned with the reality on the shopfloor. But in spite of which, today's Iraq is still very much a failed state with large parts under Da'esh rule. Nobody doubts that Maliki's policies were a disaster. And yes, there is the historical background set by former European colonial empires. But what never ceases to amaze me is the ease with which the USG keeps denying any and all blame or responsability for the unbelievable mess they have created in a country they had no valid reason for invading in the first place.

Let me paraphrase you.

"Yes, there are lots of other factors that together caused the current situation in Iraq, such as Maliki's corruption and sectarianism, and the European colonial policies, but the United States created this unbelievable mess."

You manage to directly contradict yourself in the space of a paragraph.

The proximate cause of Iraq's military and political weakness - its corruption and its abuse of the Sunni population especially - are the policies instituted by Maliki and his government, with the encouragement of Iran.

It's true that, but for the invasion, Maliki may never have been around at all. Of course, it's also true that, but for the free elections held afterward, Maliki may never have ascended to power.

However it's absurd to pretend that the US is responsible for Maliki's policies or Iran's policies.

It would be even more absurd to pretend - as you have - that the US is responsible for the civil war in Syria or for ISIL.

And the fact is that the US has done and is doing far more than any European country, or Russia, to fight ISIL - and moreover it is putting more at risk in doing so. Let me know when Russian forces begin staging raids to snatch key ISIL leaders and rescue hostages in Syria. Let me know when any Russian or European personnel die in the course of conducting such a raid.

And in the weeks and months ahead, you'll see the acceleration of the strategy that I've written about earlier. Let me tell you what the future holds for ISIL: disruption, dissonance, disorientation, and death. Perhaps on that much, at least, we can agree.

Dirk PraetDecember 9, 2015 4:01 PM

@ Skeptical

The US would prefer Assad step down, and the US would prefer that ISIL be destroyed.

The destruction of Da'esh is not a priority for either the US or Russia. For Russia it is keeping its bases in Syria (through Assad), for the US it's the toppling of Assad.

And I frankly have no idea why you think Russia has made "real progress" against ISIL.

Today, the last rebel forces, including Al Nusra fighters, left Homs under a temporary truce and UN supervision. This was only possible because government forces with assistance of Russian air cover had recaptured the main supply roads. They've taken out oil installations and convoys. Yesterday, about 50 strikes were executed over Palmyra, Quaryatayn town and Hazm al-Sharqhi. That's reasonable progress, I think.

Part of the problem with closing their borders entirely is the stream of refugees.

How is that in any way obstructing regular Turkish air strikes against Da'esh? They did bomb PKK positions in North Iraq again today.

Those statistics have been provided - what you want are sufficient details for independent parties to determine whether the statistics are true.

Statistics mean squat without independent and verifiable confirmation, especially when coming from known liars.

It would be even more absurd to pretend - as you have - that the US is responsible for the civil war in Syria or for ISIL.

A position held by the US and UK administrations only. The rest of the world sees the invasion in Iraq as the primary cause of the unravelling of Iraq and the rise of Da'esh in both Iraq and Syria. Even US and UK political dissidents like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn.

And in the weeks and months ahead, you'll see the acceleration of the strategy that I've written about earlier.

The US progress made against Da'esh is even questioned by Pentagon analysts. POTUS has made it clear that there won't be any boots on the ground except a relatively small contingent of Special Forces. Despite the US providing material support to the Kurds, NATO ally Turkey is bombing those same Kurds. Which makes for a very inconsistent "coalition" approach. The simple reality on the ground is that any and all US-Kurdish progress depends entirely on Erdogan's goodwill and consent. Which to date has been questionable to say the least.

ianfDecember 10, 2015 2:33 PM


@ Wael, i.t. t.o.l.l.s. f.o.r. y.o.u. [cc: Dirk Praet]

[massive cuts]

ianf: […] the law of the West is that mockery and satire, however unpleasant to the ear & eye, ARE WITHIN THE CULTURAL REMIT

    Wael: It's trivial to demonstrate the falsehood of this statement.
ianf: too bad you elected not to conduct that "trivial demonstration"

    Wael: That's a choice I made.

A bad choice: of obfuscation and empty rhetorical deflection as you were unable to demo my alleged falsehoods. Because what you then supplied, 3 examples of a proscribed "jokingly praising Hitler"; [the govt of Bavaria] banning "Mein Kampf" yet allowing "anti-Islam cartoons;" and of Hitler not being an anti-Semite because he praised an Egyptian, ergo a Semite, while interesting, had fuck-all to do with my mockery and satire (btw. what is it with you & The Adolf? ;-))

[…] “What makes Americans reach for the bottom of the barrel, use [StarTrek] as profound point of cultural reference to shore up your arguments?

?Why? What was so dumb about it that you could not come up with anything but yet another cultural bottom of the barrel (YACBOB) label? Next you'll try to convince me that baseball really is a "thinking man's sport."

@ Dirk Praet

ianf: you hide behind StartTrek, a show where a couple of neon turds artfully taped to a forehead signifies advanced extraterrestrial intelligence.

    If ever Wael and myself get our hands on you, we're gonna lock you up in a dark basement and make you binge watch all 79 episodes of the original series.

I note that words failed you, too. Have you tried taping a couple of neon turds to your forehead for inspiration? ;-))

WaelDecember 11, 2015 12:33 AM

@ianf,

while interesting, had fuck-all to do with my mockery and satir

I don't want to iterate too many times on this. It's a clear counter example to your statement. Your statement is false. Here is one of the counter examples I gave... one more time:

A Belgian court sentenced controversial French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala on Wednesday to two months in prison and a 9,000 euro ($9,534) fine for making anti-Semitic jokes during a comedy show in 2012.

btw. what is it with you & The Adolf? ;)

Nothing, really. You're the one who posted a link a while back to one of his videos. I watched quite a few of them. This is what Bruno Ganz thinks of the YouTube videos..

Dirk PraetDecember 11, 2015 8:16 AM

@ Wael, @ ianf

A Belgian court sentenced controversial French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala on Wednesday to two months in prison and a 9,000 euro ($9,534) fine for making anti-Semitic jokes during a comedy show in 2012.

He just got convicted again in France for calling prime minister Valls on stage "a Mussolini with Down syndrome", "a small, weak, obedient Israeli soldier", comparing him with excrement and with a bad pr0n actor because of his lousy acting skills. I honestly don't even see the humour in this sort of statements.
This is a man who has nothing to do with satire and who thinks anti-semitism and insulting people on stage just because he can is funny in itself. At best, he's a provocateur deliberately pitting people against each other in the same way the Donald Trumps and jihadi imams of this world do.

However much I also believe that satire is within the Western cultural remit, there remains a clear line between satire and targeted hate speech or glorifying mass murderers. I understand that the Muhammed cartoons and some of the stuff in Charlie Hebdo were deeply offensive to certain groups of Muslims, but IMHO in a free and open society nothing and no one is above critique or mockery. And to which religion is no exception.

The author of the Muhammed cartoons is not a racist. Neither were the people killed at Charlie Hebdo. They indiscriminately targeted everything and everyone practicing the art of satire, and most of the time in a really funny way too. It's not like Jews or Catholics were exempt. And never did they either directly or indirectly incite to hatred or violence against any of those groups.

Needless to say that this is just a strictly personal opinion. I understand that others may consider religion strictly off-limits. People like Glenn Greenwald and @Skeptical on the other hand also consider hate speech and incitement to violence as protected free speech. And which I don't.

WaelDecember 11, 2015 11:35 AM

@Dirk Praet, @ianf,

but IMHO in a free and open society nothing and no one is above critique or mockery. And to which religion is no exception.

I'm arguing that's not the case today.

This is a man who has nothing to do with satire and who thinks anti-semitism and insulting people on stage just because he can is funny in itself. At best, he's a provocateur deliberately pitting people against each other in the same way the Donald Trumps and jihadi imams of this world do.

The same can be said about Charlie Hebdo.

Dirk PraetDecember 12, 2015 11:28 AM

@ Wael, @ ianf

I'm arguing that's not the case today.

The author of the article makes a couple of good points, especially when it comes to the hypocrisy and "selectivity" of our politicians on the issue. But he's wrong about Charlie Hebdo, which I have been enjoying for decades. As I said, they have a long and well-documented history of indiscriminately attacking anything and anyone (Jews, Catholics, the Pope, National Front etc.), and over the years have been sued numerous times by, well, everyone. At some point, its predecessor Hara-Kiri Hebdo was even banned for mocking the death of former French president De Gaulle, and only recently Putin was infuriated over their taking the mick out of the victims of the downed Russian airliner in Egypt.

There is no denying that quite some of their stuff is sometimes really offensive and in horribly bad taste, but never have they in any way incited to hate or violence against anyone. Which is not entirely the case with one-trick-pony Mr. Dieudonne, whose recent appearances are invariably one big rant against Israel and the "Jewish lobby" and whose associations with former French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen (kicked out of his own party for being too extreme) are well-known.

WaelDecember 12, 2015 12:35 PM

@Dirk Praet,

Does Charlie Hebdo have an archive where I can check out their cartoon history?

Clive RobinsonDecember 12, 2015 12:57 PM

@ Dirk Praet, Wael,

The trouble with satire, is it's "One man's meat, whilst another man's poison", that is like beauty "It's in the eye of the beholder".

It's similar to hate speach in that respect, which is why it is virtually impossible to legislate against effectively. You will almost always be accused of beibg to lenient or to heavy handed by one side or the other.

I was reminded of this the other day when trying to explain to my son that I thought the petition to keep Donald "The Shetland Pony" Trump out of the UK was misguided.

It's clear he is "Preaching to the choir" of the GOP whilst keeping his face on TV as much as possible. More subtly he is appealing to a hundred and thirty years of "US Isolationism" in certain quaters of the American citizenry. It's an extension of 'kick out those stealing your jobs' nonsense. The real reason there is either no or only low paid workers is because those that back the GOP with the big election money, want to ensure it's kept that way. It's not the wealth gap but the status gap they are after, they want to see people be envious of them at the lower end of funders, but to be seen as first amongst equals at the upper end, throwing a few crumbs of hope to a presidential hopefull, in return for a masive tax kick back etc.

The only way to deal with such charlatans is ridicule, and to be quite honest I care not wether it is funny or clever, as long as it's not inciting or threatening. The more they hear of it the harder it is for them to keep up the pretence. Thus banning the lout and his cronies, means they only get to preach to a choir of hopefulls. Which would only reinforce their fetid egos as would the attention of a hundred dollar trollope working in hand for the same period.

WaelDecember 12, 2015 6:23 PM

@Clive Robinson, @Dirk Praet,

The trouble with satire

With freedom comes responsibility. Screaming "fire" in a movie theatre doesn't incite hatred, genocide or persecution of a group. It will cause harm and is punishable by law.

Making a joke about an explosive device in an airport carries a jail sentence. Can one use "Freedom of speech" as a defense? No!

Some "pranks" are funny and seem silly and harmless to some, but can quickly get one in trouble with authorities.

Some satires are boarder line and rather controversial like Clayton Bigsby. But they give a message, and they don't single out a group.

Satire isn't just about making fun of some group or some religious figures! It's supposed to give a message... subliminal or conscious.

Now that France has a huge Muslim population, and given that the majority of this population knows very little about what's allowed and what's not allowed (from a religious law perspective) then organizations that inflame them are playing with fire because the outcome is almost predictable. There is also evidence that there is a hidden hand manipulating patsies to serve an agenda. The question is Cui bono?

Obviously, the terrorists won't benefit, they won't change such organizations' behavior, they're very likely going to get killed in the process. They maybe looking for a cultural conflict, but indications show they're not the only ones who want that outcome.

While I understand other opinions, IMHO some areas need to be off limits, at least temporarily.

Clive RobinsonDecember 12, 2015 7:27 PM

@ Wael,

... then organizations that inflame them are playing with fire because the outcome is almost predictable.

Yes and it's the same as "inciting or threatening" that I mentioned is a no no.

What you forgot to mention is the dicriminatory nature of applying the laws. If on an aircraft some one who looks muslim --what ever that means-- says "Praise be to Allah" sufficiently loudly, then as we know they are in trouble. However someone who is White and ignorant is not going to recive sensuor for demanding to have the "muslim" removed or they and there family to be put on another flight...

In a number of respects it is akin to those who racially discriminate, I've mentioned befor there are three basc types of racist,

1, Those who blaim others --who appear different-- for problems arising from their own inate failings.

2, Those who have come to harm one or more times from others --who appear different--, and thus distrust on sight.

3, Those who profit when groups --that appear different-- are at odds with each other.

It is this third group that is most dangerous, because they are usually sufficiently intelligent not to get implicated in any actions they have catalyzed.

How to deal with them is a thorny issue at the best of times, but given the current situation where they can make hay without serious let or hindrance, it means we have troubling times ahead.

As you should know likewise "Ignorance of the law is no defence" and it can be a trial of fire for even those who have been a citizen of a nation for most if not all of their lives. But... "being an immigrant / refugee is no defence" either. The combination of these two "no defences" is without doubt going to give rise to problems. You only have to look at holiday destinations to see this happening on a daily basis. Years of traveling taught me the best course of action is polite discretion and be with a local who you can trust any time you are not inside of a hotel or workplace.

Troubling times where both the ISIL and US leaders can prosper to great effect from each other. It's almost as though they are both "Dining with the devil" and "using the same spoon"...

WaelDecember 12, 2015 7:57 PM

@Clive Robinson,

Troubling times where both the ISIL and US leaders can prosper to great effect from each other. It's almost as though they are both "Dining with the devil" and "using the same spoon"...

Trouble is there are more than two players. It's not just ISIL and (some) US leaders! There are a few other countries and organizations involved -- each with their own motives. Troubling times ahead is a probable outcome...

"Dining with the devil" and "using the same spoon"! Good expression, unfortunately there are more than one devil.

Dirk PraetDecember 13, 2015 11:59 AM

@ Wael

Does Charlie Hebdo have an archive where I can check out their cartoon history?

One of my cousins' basement is a real Hara-Kiri/Charlie Hebdo treasure vault. It's through him that I got to know them, decades ago. I haven't found something like an on-line archive but here's a link with some previous covers from BuzzFeed. Recently, they drew a lot of flak with cartoons about the downed russian airliner and a drowned refugee child.

While I understand other opinions, IMHO some areas need to be off limits, at least temporarily.

Herein lies a difficult societal choice. There's no denying that making fun of religion is a particularly touchy subject and - as we have seen - can have extremely violent repercussions. There's no doubt in my mind that there's quite a few cartoonists out there that in light thereof are nowadays practicing self-censorship either out of common sense or for fear of their lives.

But I'm afraid officially censoring it is not going to change anything for radicalised elements in whose minds such acts are punishable by death. They'll just move on to the next thing they take offense at. Today it's satire, tomorrow it may be pr0n, alcohol or whatever.

For centuries, this here old continent has struggled to reign in Christianity and its rulers by Divine Right. From where I'm standing, any group from whatever religion striving to bring back such days has - simply put - no place in our society and is free to go back to where ever they or their ancesters came from. Where they undoubtedly will have to cope with much more serious challenges than the insults to their religion by a small atheist French satirical weekly that before the January massacre at their offices had a print run of between 24k and 50k copies a week only, and with as little as 8k subscribers.


@ Clive

Satire isn't just about making fun of some group or some religious figures! It's supposed to give a message... subliminal or conscious.

The nail on the head, Clive. And that's exactly what Charlie Hebdo does and why I call them satire. In general, they attack IDEAS, not people. However much in bad taste, the cartoon of the drowned Syrian boy was a poignant critique of the way both Turkey and Europe are handling the refugee crisis. Many of their depictions of the Prophet Muhammed are not a mockery of his person or teachings, but of those hiding behind Islam and spreading an entirely different message. They're not some extreme right-wing, racist outlet singling out one particular religion or race - as is the case with Mr. Dieudonne -, they're a bunch of anarchist, left-wing atheists sticking it to everyone and under whose very philosophy the entire concept of blasphemy is non-existent.

WaelDecember 13, 2015 2:43 PM

@Dirk Praet,

I haven't found something like an on-line archive but here's a link with some previous covers from BuzzFeed

I appreciate the links. Slow loading but will give me a good start. I don't intend to comment on them, it was just to satisfy my curiosity as I have only been exposed to a small sample.

But I'm afraid officially censoring it is not going to change anything for radicalised elements...

Probably true. Remember, though, that this discussion was about the truthfulness of a statement made by @ianf. It wasn't my intent, no matter how hard I try, to branch off to a religious discussion. So I'll approach it with minimal references to religion.

For centuries, this here old continent has struggled to reign in Christianity and its rulers by Divine Right. From where I'm standing, any group from whatever religion striving to bring back such days has - simply put - no place in our society

I, as well as many others, are well aquatinted with the history of the "dark ages". And I doubt anyone would want to go back in time to this particular era.

free to go back to where ever they or their ancesters came from

From a high level perspective, one can divide them into three groups:

1- Refugees: Before accepting them, make them understand how things work... "Look, we feel bad about your sad situation but are willing to welcome you in our society. We have different rules here. Freedom of speech (and other things) is a core right we uphold. You will hear and see things you may not like, may be offensive, and come across as an attack on your beliefs and things you hold dear. Can you live with that? And if you violate the law you'll be punished, including the possibility deportation"

2- Second and third generations and beyond: Depends on the host country and how this cartegory is treated and viewed. Are they second class citizens...

3- Indigenous inhabitants with different viewed: Apply the law of the land.

I know this is a naïve view, but that's how engineers think. I warned you this area isn't my thing.

The nail on the head,...

That was my hammer :) Have some academic integrity, Darwindamit ;)

I'd like to stick to technical discussions from now on ... Politics and religion I can only comment on in an "amusing" -- at least from my perspective -- format.

Dirk PraetDecember 13, 2015 6:21 PM

@ Wael

Remember, though, that this discussion was about the truthfulness of a statement made by @ianf.

Indeed. @ianf stated that satire was within the Western cultural remit, which you argued against. Personally, I believe it is, beit not without bias and hypocrisy, and which you are entirely right about it.

Refugees: Before accepting them, make them understand how things work

Exactly. For long, it was just assumed that they knew and automagically would accept our values. Over here, such a bill is now under discussion and under which every refugee would be required to sign such a statement, not as a prerequisite for recognition of asylum status but as a clear heads-up that things are different here and that accepting them is a prerequisite to function in our society.

Second and third generations and beyond: Depends on the host country and how this category is treated and viewed.

It must be made clear to everyone that there is no place for racism or discrimination. But it must be made equally clear to nth generation immigrants that we will not back down on the values of Enlightenment and that the simple choice for them is to either embrace those or move somewhere else.

Indigenous inhabitants with different viewed: Apply the law of the land.

Everyone with different views is free to express those and to try and change things by democratic means, but without hiding behind the very values they wish to destroy.

WaelDecember 13, 2015 6:50 PM

@Dirk Praet,

but without hiding behind the very values they wish to destroy.

+1.

Sums it up pretty succinctly.

Paul E. "Marbux" Merrell, J.D.December 18, 2015 8:39 PM

One thing we can do is to insist that all new powers granted in response to the "terrorism threat" are strictly confined in their excercise to the terrism threat. I.e., authorization to conduct surveillance for terrorists does not authorize surveillance for any other purpose.

Early after the Snowden disclosures began, I recall seeing some documents that an enterprising reporter had obtained from NSA that were "talking points" for agency staffers who were speaking about the disclosures. One major point, stressed again and again, was to confine all statements to discussion of terrorism and its threat to Americans. No discussion of surveillance for other purposes, such as spying on diplomats communications, normal law enforcement, etc. In other words, the direction was to practice the politics of fear because other uses of surveillance were not nearly as defensible.

The approach I suggest can capitalize on the loathesome politics of fear by confining the goals of those who practice politics of fear to the purported threat we are supposed to fear, or failing that, forcing them to defend the use of surveillance for other purposes.

The simple truth is that the statistics show all of these government surveillance techniques get used far more often to go after people who are not even suspected of terrorism rather than to combat terrorism. If government is limited to using the techniques only to go after terrorists, government will quickly lose interest in the techniques. Then perhaps we can get down to reducing threats that take far more lives. See the very long list of things you're more likely to die from than terrorism at Washington's Blog.

WhoIsCallingMarch 4, 2016 6:27 PM

I challenge the assertion that The People are calling for these expanded powers. I have not encountered a single civilian, regardless of political leaning, that is in favor of omnipotent government.

The people who advocate government omnipotence are always those with something to personally gain from the expansion; politicians and those entrusted to exercise powers (responsibly and ethically - wink).

The only "person" I have ever heard say "do not give me that power" was the character of the general played by Bruce Willis in The Siege. He then went on to abuse the power he was given.

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of IBM Resilient.