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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Delegitimize States that Sponsor Terror

I'm republishing the following paper for the readers of this new website hoping to find it to be of some interest.


By Con George-Kotzabasis

The following paper was written on September 20, 2006, and was sent to President Bush on the same date. The reason why it's republished here in The...Journal, is that the Pentagon has now a secret plan to attack Iran within twenty four hours, according to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker magazine.


Distinguished former diplomats, like Warren Christopher, Clinton’s Secretary of State, remain at their “postless”, no new messages on diplomacy, posts, and continue to argue on the virtues of old diplomacy. In his piece on the Washington Post, July 28, 2006, he calls for “negotiation of an immediate cease-fire between the warring parties” in Lebanon, and asserts that a “permanent” and “sustainable” solution to the root causes of the conflict—which is the goal of the Bush administration—“is achievable, if at all, by protracted negotiations.” As an example of such successful diplomacy that occurred under his tenure as Secretary, he refers to the rocket attacks by Hezbollah in April 1996 against Israel and the countering of the latter with Operation Grapes of Wrath, that the Cagliostro like arts of diplomacy successfully stymied this confrontation and ushered a truce between the parties that lasted for ten years. He claims, that only by such broad-minded diplomacy that involves all the players in the region could America stop its “tattered reputation.” But he is completely mindless of the fact that this long Truce was neither permanent nor sustainable, but, merely, a respite for the Hezbollah during which the latter would militarily train and proselytize its militia with its fanatic deadly ideology and arm it with Katyusha rockets for a deadlier future confrontation with its mortal enemy, the Jewish State, as we now see.


To repeat therefore the diplomacy of the past in the present context in the face of these lessons given by this flauntingly failed diplomacy, is not only to repeat the mistakes of the past, but more grievously still, to weaken Israel and its Western allies against greater impending dangers in the future. As the upshot of another long Truce between the belligerents now would only benefit Hezbollah by making it politically, ideologically, and militarily even stronger, and loading this time the tips of its rockets with weapons of mass destruction, including tactical nuclear weapons, thus fulfilling President Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic foreboding of wiping Israel off the map. And needless to say, such an outcome would be a tremendous victory for global terror and a serious strategic reversal of the West’s war against it.


Furthermore, it would set in concrete the ambition of Iran to become the dominant power of the region, whose present trailblazing two-pronged strategy to forge an axis between Shi’ites and Sunnis, as the present pact between Iran and Syria illustrates, against their arch enemy Israel and to paralyze the EU and the US as a condominium to formulate an ironclad policy that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, are the means by which it will achieve its aim. Since, according to the Ahmadinejad regime, the grand diversion that Lebanon has provided will ease its task to acquire a nuclear arsenal, as the divisions that would be spawned by the Lebanon crisis among the Western countries and within the UN about how to handle the situation on the ground, would be of such a nature that would completely enervate the US and EU condominium from forging a position that would stop Iran from joining the nuclear club.


Hence the war in Lebanon may initially appear to be a local conflict between Israel and Hezbollah but in reality is a geopolitical conflict between Iran and the Western powers since the former will be using the conflagration of Lebanon as a fulcrum to achieve its strategic goals (a) to acquire nuclear weapons, (b) to emerge as the predominant power in the region, (c) to become the leader of the Muslim world, and (d) to establish in the world the millenarian regime of the twelfth imam Mahdi. As the respected Middle East analyst Amir Taheri wrote in The Australian, on August 7, 06, “to Ahmadinejad to wipe off Israel is the first step toward defeating the ‘infidel’ West”. He furthermore quotes Iran’s state controlled media as saying “that Lebanon would become the graveyard of the Bush plan for a new Middle East”. And Tehran believes, “that a victory by Hezbollah…will strengthen Ahmadinejad’s bid for the leadership of radical Islam”. And Taheri comes to the conclusion “all the talk of a ceasefire, all the diplomatic gesticulation may ultimately mean little in what is an existential conflict”.


Will the “new” diplomacy, as embodied in the unanimously approved resolution by the UN Security Council, in its stylishly dashing French clothes, but worn, by the old decrepit body of diplomatic thinking, bring the long desired, but up till now evanescent, permanent and sustainable solution to the region that so many attempts in the past failed to do? The auguries for such an outcome however, are far from favorable. The Council’s resolution calls for a halt to the fighting and Israel’s withdrawal “in parallel” with the deployment of UN peacekeepers and 15,000 Lebanese troops who will attempt to create a buffer zone in South Lebanon free of the Hezbollah militia. However, the resolution vaguely refers to the disarmament and dismantling of the latter, that is pivotal to a permanent and sustainable peace between Israel and Lebanon and whether such international force and the Lebanese army--which is riddled with Hezbollah sympathizers--even if they had a clear mandate to disarm Hezbollah, would have been able to accomplish this task, given the unambiguous statements of Hezbollah that it will not disarm. Nor does the resolution take a firm and implacable stand in stopping the supply of weapons to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria.


Hence, the dragon teeth of Hezbollah are still planted deep in Lebanon’s soil, presaging an even greater and more dangerous conflagration in the future between the warring parties, especially if Iran stealthily slips into the nuclear club. The UN resolution therefore is merely a soporific. It will provide a couch to Israel and Hezbollah so they can both lay down in a temporary state of dormancy until Hezbollah feels strong enough, in its never ending act, to wipe Israel off the map. Thus, the future confrontation will be by far more deadly than the present one, as possibly hundreds of thousands will lose their lives.


America's New Strategic Diplomacy

Surely the American leadership must be aware of this lugubrious scenario that has been staged by this toothless resolution of the Security Council. Unless they have in mind a second stronger swift resolution that will be addressing the complete disarmament and dismantling of Hezbollah and irrevocably stopping Syria and Iran from supplying weapons to its proxy, they will entangle and compromise their up to now clear strategic position in the strategically myopic, unimaginative, fickle, and flabby diplomatic stance of their allies in continental Europe. It will be the ultimate folly, post 9/11, once you have identified your irreconcilable, implacable, and mortal enemy, as the Bush administration has done, to render the enemy and its proxies respites that will strengthen their military capability and make them even more dangerous as well as more difficult to defeat in the future, instead of destroying them at their weakest moment, as no kind of diplomacy ante 9/11, no matter how brilliantly conceived, can achieve the complete destruction of this infernal enemy.
The Bush administration being presumably aware of this fact, i.e., of the complete inadequacy of the old diplomacy, of which so many of its "encoreists", such as Richard Holbrooke and Madeleine Albright, are continuing to give it “standing ovations”, does seem to be willing--despite its tactical errors in Iraq that have given rise to a rampant insurgency making the war more difficult to win and as a result of this making some members of the Administration more circumspect to launch another attack, this time on Iran--to take leave of its circumspection and embrace a more hawkish diplomacy that would be much more successful than the effete and barren diplomacy of the past. Such robust diplomacy will not be draped in the smooth velvety apparels of “old” Europe or in the tattered garments of the United Nations, but will be draped in the bristling carapace of a porcupine. While there will not be a scarcity of carrots in the exercise of this armed diplomacy, the sticks will be deadly in their threatening application against those intransigent nations that continue overtly or covertly to sponsor terrorists and use them as proxies to achieve their geopolitical and millenarian goals. The axis of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah will have the kiss of death planted on its forehead by this no “frills” American diplomacy. But the angel of death in this new diplomacy will be last in the queue. Before the US deploys as a last resort its lethal arsenal against the axis, it will in the incipient stages of this diplomacy call for the de-legitimatization of Iran and Syria as states that sponsor terror. Iran and Syria will become pariah states and will be isolated from the rest of the world. The only avenues that will remain open between the former and the latter will be the economic ones. But the economic transactions between de-legitimate states and the rest of the world will proceed not through individual states but through an intermediary channel, an international consortium whose representatives will be enlisted from the de jure states of the world who will deal with the economic representatives of the outlaw states. Such procedure will place the free world in a powerful negotiating position to impose its own economic regime on the outlaw states.


Needless to say, some nations will not accept, and will not abide, this “outlawing” of Iran and Syria and will continue to have their relations with the latter unchanged. But as long as the major nations of the world hold the line, this recalcitrance of these nations will in no way loosen the tightness of the noose around the throats of the outlaws, as the latter will be banned from attending all international forums where the important decisions in the affairs of the world are made.


The chances that the call for the de-legitimatization of states that sponsor terror, as a diplomatic move to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, are quite high that it will rally many nations to support such a call as the best alternative to an American military attack against Iran, particularly, when such an attack would result in a great loss of lives as well as have the potential to throw the world’s economy into the doldrums, as it’s the latter as well as their electoral base that many European nations are mainly concerned with in the advent of an American attack on Iran. The exercise of this new adroit American diplomacy will address therefore both the concerns of the Europeans and the fears of Iran. It will have, on the one hand, enough carrots in its diplomatic basket to feed the Europeans and to entice them to the idea that the outlawing of Iran is the better option for all concerned than a devastating military confrontation with the latter, and on the other, it will have enough sticks to coerce Iran to abandon its goal to acquire nuclear weapons. In the intense pressure of the vice that the Ahmadinejad regime will find itself both as a possibly ostracized de-legitimate state or as a military target of the Americans, the odds are that the regime will succumb to this pressure. In the event that it sticks to its guns, then it will play Russian roulette with its own people, as such a stand will strengthen the internal opposition against the “mullahcratic” regime. And as the majority of Iranians shift behind the Opposition parties this could lead to the fall of the theocratic regime of Ahmadinejad by an army revolt that would act in the name of such strong opposition from the people.


The success of this diplomacy will depend entirely on the Bush administration making it unambiguously clear to its European allies, as well as Russia and China, of its utter determination that in the event the proposal to de-legitimatize states that sponsor terror is not adopted by the major nations of the world, then the US will have no other option but to attack militarily the rogue states that sponsor terror, and Iran will be the first one and more likely than not the only one, as the other ones will follow the example of Libya and cave in. It’s inconceivable to imagine, that the European nations, as well as China, for which the sine qua non for its present stratospheric economic development is the economic stability of the world, will be so dim-witted not to accept the American proposal and risk the chance that the Bush administration will not deliver on its threat.


Hence, this hawkish US diplomacy is far from being a long shot in persuading the major nations of the world to outlaw states that sponsor terror. Moreover, it has the great potential as a dual realizable threat to outlaw Iran or attack it militarily, to coerce the latter to unequivocally abide by the demands of the international community. In the event that the Ahmadinejad regime remains unwilling to discard its obsession to possess nuclear weapons and continues to defy the European Union and the United States in their demand to stop supplying its terrorist proxies, such as Hezbollah, with weapons, then the call will be on “the angel of death”, draped in stars and stripes, to jump the queue and put an end to this apocalyptic threat that stems from the regime of the mullahs.


Hic Rhodus Hic Salta

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Greece: Indecisive Voters Will Determine Result of Triple Elections

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 17, 2014

On the 18th and 25th of May respectively, Greeks will be voting in the country’s municipalities and prefectures, and for the European Parliament. According to all polls, the contest between the major parties of the Coalition Government of New Democracy/Pasok and Syriza will be very close, and apparently the indecisive voters, who comprise 12% of the electors, will determine which of the major parties will win the elections.


In my opinion, the majority of this indecisive section of the electorate will cast their vote in favour of the Samaras Government—especially in the European parliamentary elections--and thus the latter will be the winner of the triple elections. My reasoning is that if this part of the electorate was inclined and had a strong feeling to protest against the government, for the harsh austerity measures the latter had to implement, it would already have shown this inclination by intimating to the pollsters that it would vote for the Opposition Party of Syriza. It seems therefore to me that the undecided voters are more concerned about the political stability of the country and the slow but robust steps that the Samaras government is taking in pulling the country out of the crisis, which all serious international observers acknowledge and most economic indicators show, and thus will vote for the security the government accomplished in keeping Greece within Europe, than the insecurity the left-wing Opposition Party of Syriza represents with its dangerous and foolhardy policies that could lead to the ousting of Greece from Europe and to the economic catastrophe of the country.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Statesmen Lead their People from Darkness to Enlightenment

I'm republishing this short piece that was written on May 10, 2012, for the readers of this blog.
 
What actually decides is our character   Jose Ortega y Gasset

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 10, 2012

Surprisingly, you are profoundly pessimistic, not to say nihilistic, about Antonis Samaras, who is the greatest politician appearing on the political firmament of Greece since Eleftherios Venizelos. Samaras is “framed in the prodigality of nature,” to quote Shakespeare, endowed with that rare combination of high intellect, imagination, stupendous moral strength, and economic insight, which he proved by his prediction of the disastrous policy of austerity, encapsulated in the first European Memorandum as a remedy to Greece’s dire economic peril, without economic resurgence.

Statesmen are not responsible for the ignorance and political immaturity of their people. They try to lead even in a vacuum of understanding among their people about the real dangers their country is facing. The tragedy of Samaras was that his clear and sagacious policies were not able to overcome and trump the ignorance of a large part of the electorate about the real dangers that were threatening Greece, especially in a state of akyvernisia (Lack of government).

As a physicist you must know the fate of Galileo and how difficult it is to nullify ignorance. And your quote of Christopher Hitchens in your blog gives me the sense that you are aware of this difficulty. To wish therefore for Samaras removal, seems to me not only unjust but also politically immoral. And to hope that the leader of Syriza, AlexisTsipras, a staunch votary of Hugo Chavez, that he will change his inveterate leftist populist position of anti-Europe led by Germany, is to indulge in wishful thinking.

In moments of a great crisis, statesmen have the obligation and responsibility to lead their people from darkness to enlightenment and imbue them with indispensable hope about their immediate future, so they can overcome the crisis.   

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Greek Professor Comes to Bury Multiculturalism

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Professor Vrasidas Karalis of Sydney University, the translator of some of the books of Patrick White, has come to bury the condottieri of multiculturalism—I won’t call them warriors as that would give a worthy name to an unworthy cause—that are still fighting ingloriously and in an enfeebled state to resuscitate a concept that has been in a comatose state since the late eighties, when Slav Macedonians were burning Greek churches and when more recently, fanatic jihadists in pursuit of the seventy-two virgins, I must say, a chimerical, an eluding chase, they will never find them, were planning to kill thousands of Australians in football grounds and in public malls. It is in such a deadly milieu that the multiculturalists are attempting, in a futile and full of zealotry effort, to breathe life into a ghost. And in spite of the fact that the founding father of multiculturalism, professor Jerzy Zubrzycki, expressed explicitly his doubts about the viability of multiculturalism in the face of this tidal wave of atavism. Also, Gareth Evans, serving at the time as minister of communications, said to me in a phone conversation, that these conflicts between Slavs and Greeks, Serbs, Croatians and Bosnians spelled out the burial of multiculturalism.

It is a great fallacy to postulate that cultures have an amicable disposition and can live in a peaceful state of coexistence with each other without conflict. History has shown pellucidly that cultures, on fundamental issues are irreconcilable, and are in a permanent state of antagonistic competition and the stronger and more successful always subdue and supplant the weaker and less thriving. The Romans appropriated the higher culture of the Greeks and the German tribes, who were fighting the Romans were, in turn, absorbed by the higher culture of the latter.

No less a figure than Karl Marx, many of whose supporters today are puzzlingly upholders of multiculturalism, expressed, with characteristic force and eloquence, the inequality of cultures and the irreversible proclivity of the more powerful, in terms of intellectual, scientific, economic, and political success, to overwhelm and vanquish the weaker and less successful in the realm of human development and freedom. Without for a moment supporting or pleading his ideology, I would like, if you allow me, to paraphrase the great man: The elemental force of capitalism and its great culture would sweep away, on a vast scale, the dead weight of traditions and cultures that riveted their peoples to the obfuscation, ignorance, and bigotry of a hoary past.

After this long, but I believe relevant diversion, let us return back to the thesis of Professor Karalis. In a well structured argument delivered with panache, vivacity and wit, Karalis cogently argued, that with the ascendance of the Liberal-National Party to power in 1997, and the immediate dismantling of multiculturalism by the Howard government and the weak reaction of the ethnic communities to this dismantling, especially the Greek that was the avant-garde of multiculturalism, demonstrated clearly that the major part of these communities in a short duration were absorbed by a process of osmosis to the values and mores of a global, cosmopolitan Australian society. In his own words, the ethnic communities were incorporated within the political, economic, and cultural institutional framework of the Australian society. And he asks the question, is there still any reason to advocate multiculturalism as a nation-building policy or as a political project for the future? His answer is decisively negative.

Professor Karalis not only buried multiculturalism, but also inadvertently, fully justified the position and prognostications of the historian Geoffrey Blainey and that great Australian John Stone who both of them expressed, almost fifteen years ago, for which they were pilloried and maligned by the leftist intelligentsia, that multiculturalism was the design of historically ignorant politicians who could not perceive that at a critical moment would collide with Australian culture and would never recover from this crash. And the death knell for multiculturalism sounds presently in all European countries--especially in the context of Islamist terror--which had also so naively and un-historically adapted it as the elixir that would induce different cultures and peoples to love each other. They had forgotten that amity and congeniality could only issue from the sharing of common fundamental values that give the opportunity to all to succeed in the endeavours of daily life and to fulfil their ambitions according to their individualistic proclivities. It is the great culture of capitalism and its free enterprise system that provides these invaluable principles that lead to the comity of nations and peoples and eradicate, to a high degree, deadly conflict.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Euthanasia of the Presidency Under Obama

As we have predicted in the past the year 2013 clearly displayed all the fault lines and weaknesses of President Obama in both foreign and domestic affairs. From Libya to Egypt, from Syria to Iran, Obama has been leading from behind, as is his wont, and making a mess of things geopolitically. In the domestic front, his grand scheme of Medicare is exposed as a great deception of the American people, as the latter cannot "keep" their private insurance, as promised by Obama, but only that insurance that the government dictates and approves. It is for this reason that I'm republishing this paper that was written on August 2011.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

President Obama is placing the vibrant presidency of the most powerful nation in the world in the hands of the practitioners of euthanasia as if America were in the agony of its death throes. Cynical about America’s global political and military power, cynical about its ability to win the war against its deadly and irreconcilable enemy, cynical about its peoples’ steadfastness and determination to wage war against the fanatical hordes of Islam that threaten America’s heartland, cynical of its European allies’ resolution--under indomitable and sagacious US leadership--to fight the same war, and cynical of the capacity of the best professionally trained armed forces in the world, i.e., the American, to defeat an impromptu organized group of terrorists, who bereft of cool strategic nous in comparison to its ‘infidel’ opponents, are impulsively fighting the Great Satan and all the other little Satans of  the West  with the fanatical cry of Allahu Akbar,  President Obama has chosen, due to this inveterate cynicism and to his guileful and odious politics as we shall  see further down, most imprudently strategically and politically and sans amour propre to retreat from the battlefield, with macabre geopolitical consequences for America’s prestige as a superpower, and take cover behind a no longer fortress America.

As we predicted early in 2009, during the long gestation of the president’s ‘new strategy’ for Afghanistan which under the pretence of giving serious consideration to the request of his senior commander in Afghanistan General McChrystal to increase the troops by 40,000, he dithered his decision not however for the purpose of how to win the war but for the purpose of weighing the political costs that would accrue to him if he had accepted the advice of his general. And when finally he made his decision, he increased the troops by 30,000 while handing to his National Security team a memo setting the strict terms that this increase included the July 2011 start date for a US troop withdrawal. Hence, Obama as Commander-in-Chief, whilst his brave soldiers and astute generals were spilling their blood in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan fighting the Taliban with the aim of defeating them, all he was thinking about were the political costs that would bear upon him as a result of his apparent greater involvement in the unpopular war. So Obama’s ‘serious’ and long deliberations before he made his decision had nothing to do with a new strategy, emanating from his status as Commander-in-Chief, to defeat the Taliban but had everything to do with his status as political shyster who was only concerned about his polls.

The increase of troops by 30,000 was strategically meaningless as it had not the aim of defeating the enemy since it merely served Obama’s political rationale of not seeming to be weak on war while at the same time placating the anti-war crowd by announcing the withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan. What strategist of any substance would increase his forces in the field of battle only to withdraw them without inflicting upon his enemy a mortal blow? And what kind of leader would place an increased number of his soldiers in danger and continue a war that he thinks is unwinnable when his main purpose was to withdraw them from such war, why would he have increased them in the first place if he was planning to withdraw them if not for his concealed ill-design to dupe the American people, to present himself as both a war president and a peaceful one? In reality of course, Obama is neither of these but a political Shylock who demands his pound of flesh from his troops fighting in Afghanistan in order to play his despicable politics at home so he can placate both those Americans who support the war and those who are against it.

From Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Charles Martel, to Napoleon all strategies had a clear and unique goal, to defeat the foe. Only President Obama, who as the most repulsive of political manipulators is wantonly sacrificing the interests of the nation to his own narrow political interests, is disgracefully and timorously traducing this irreversible principle of war and turning himself into a cartoonist mockery as Commander-in-Chief of a great nation.
Afghanistan during Obama’s political campaign was a “war of necessity,” that presumably was neglected by President Bush, and a war that must be won. But according to Bob Woodward’s new book titled Obama’s Wars, this is no longer so. Obama is quoted as saying, “This needs to be a plan about how we are going to handed it off and get out of Afghanistan.” And the outcome of the policy review and its long deliberations was the offspring of “political considerations,” according to a State Department official. Obama himself reportedly said to Senator Lindsey Graham, “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party” on the issue of Afghanistan. General Petraeus felt so affronted by White House demands for an exit strategy at all costs that he told his aids, “They are f...king with the wrong guy.” Another senior general said that the announcement of the withdrawal by President Obama, gave “sustenance to the Taliban.” Moreover, the policy review has engendered serious divisions within the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Council, and the Defense Department and between American and Afghan officials. Jim Jones, the National Security adviser, calls the ‘bosom’ advisers of Obama, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel variously as the “mafia” the “campaign set” and the “politburo.” And General Petraeus has dubbed Axelrod as the spin artist in residence, and I would add the spin-master who can win elections and lose wars. 

These revelations of Bob Woodward are toxic to Obama’s presidency and threaten to unleash a spate of resignations of top echelons of the Administration. In short, the presidency at this critical moment of national security and war is in a state of disarray. And no matter how he is going to re-arrange the musical chairs of his sinking presidency after losing the better performers, the future ones that will occupy them will be the worst performers that he could get. No one of sterling qualities, of the best and the brightest, will have an inkling to join an intellectually, politically, morally, and strategically bankrupt administration and be branded everlastingly with such an ignominiously failed presidency. Obama by debasing the ‘political currency’ of a great nation will become the victim of Gresham’s Law. The bad and base currency of circulating officials that will bid for the positions of the Administration will drive the good and golden currency of officials out of circulation for these posts. Hence Obama’s future administration will be filled by political parvenus, professional opportunists, and Cagliostro like political impostors and all ‘playing their tunes’ under the master conductor of spin. Such an outcome will seriously undermine America’s prestige and ├ęclat as a superpower. It will infernally endanger the vital interests of the nation and its security by enticing its mortal enemies to attack it, as they see that the rudder of America in the rough seas of the world is in the hands of an incompetent and weak president. The question is whether Americans will allow this to happen and whether they will have the intelligence and courage to use all means to halt him in his tracks and thus put an end to Obama’s ‘Directorate’ of social democracy which is ‘terrorizing’ America and to prevent at the eleventh hour the euthanasia of the presidency.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now     



Monday, December 02, 2013

Leader of Australian Republicans Carries on Piggyback Fanatic Muslims

A brief reply: By Con George-Kotzabasis to:
Hirsi Ali is pop star of intolerance Greg Barns (leader of the Australian Republicans) On Line Opinion June 4, 2007
Greg, in your moral equivalence between Christian-Jews and Muslims you nullify your intelligence, your sense of history and reality. Certainly there are fanatic Christians and Jews, but they don't threaten the existence of Western civilization as fanatic Muslims do.
Moreover, life for Muslims is difficult because of their bigoted attachment to an atavistic religion, not because of the "pop star", to quote you, status of Hirsi Ali. Further, by giving fanatic Muslims a piggyback you play the role, in the unfathomable depths of your ignorance, of the tortoise, in the unforgettable fable of Orson Welles, The Scorpion and the Tortoise. When the former convinced the latter that in its transportation on the back of the tortoise from one side of the river to the other, it would be silly to sting it as it itself would drown, nonetheless, midstream it did sting it. And in the dying question of the tortoise why it stung it, the drowning scorpion replied, "this is my nature".
Likewise you will be stung by the "Muslim Scorpion" that you carry on your back because that is its nature. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Debate between American and Australian about the War against Fanatical Islam

I'm republishing this debate as a result of Obama's cravenly and strategically foolish action to withdraw from Afghanistan without securing the country from future attacks by the Taliban and preventing its fall into the net of radical Islam.

American says,
For those who think we need to redouble our efforts to "win" the war in Afghanistan, I take it they mean we need to do whatever it takes, militarily and financially, to build a stable Afghan state run headed by a secure and US-friendly government. I have two problems with this idea. First, I tend to doubt that the US has the wherewithal to accomplish such a goal in such a rugged, decentralized and forbidding country - no matter how much our surge surges. The whole idea seems fantastical.

Second, I don't see how even achieving this fantastical aim would really help with the Al Qaeda issue, since I find it hard to believe that any Afghan government that we can realistically imagine taking shape will have the capacity to prevent Al Qaeda elements from gathering in remote locations and forming bases. As a basis for comparison, can we realistically imagine an Afghan government with even half the capacity of a state like Pakistan? Hardly. And yet Pakistan itself is not in control of large swaths of its country. Pursuing the quixotic state-building plans of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is a distraction from the methods that actually work.
My understanding is that we have been engaged in a global campaign against jihadist terrorism for several years now, and the main practical method is to rely on intelligence to stay one step ahead of the folks who actually pose a threat, and then disrupt their efforts, kill their leaders and interdict their operations. We're probably going to have to keep doing that sort of thing for quite some time, just as the effort against organized crime in the US never really ends. If Al Qaeda cadres build some kind of training base in Afghanistan, we go in and blow it up. If they build another one, we blow that one up too. We use predators and covert methods. The same is true of al Qaeda redoubts in Pakistan or Somalia or Yemen, right? We are going to have to do this no matter what kind of government we get in Kabul.

I can't believe that at this late date American political leaders and opinion leaders are still deluded by the theory that the chief enabling cause of terrorism is "state sponsorship", and so that our aim is to manufacture strong states where none exist now. This seems wrong-headed to me. I've used this analogy before, but the militant jihadist movement seems something like the anarchist movement of a century ago. Parts of that movement were violent. Was the solution some sort of state-building process in Europe and the United States? No. There were already strong states in Europe and the US. But it is of the nature of terrorist groups to slip between the cracks in the sovereign power of states.
Anarchist terrorism was basically a law and order problem. The idea was just to stay ahead of the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, and outlast the movement as its ideological fervor gradually dissipated and it burned itself out.
We should never have gotten involved in state building in Afghanistan. Now we have a generation of American leaders who are invested in that project, and see their personal honor and the national honor as riding on its very unlikely success. They need to get real.

Australian says,

Ben Katcher’s intellectually malodorous, and disingenuous, argument has reached the other shores of the Pacific. While he claims that “pouring more troops...into Afghanistan means fewer resources to pursue our other national security objectives across the globe,” he does not mention any of them by name other than the economic crisis mentioned by Dennis Blair. Hence his statement that “strategy is about priorities and trade-offs,” while true in general, is a contrived fiction when he applies it to international terrorism since these other priorities remain nameless. The reason why he does not name them is that if he had identified these priorities and contrasted them with the priority of global terror he would embarrass himself for being ludicrous.
Dan Kervick’s paragraph that contains “we use predators and covert methods,” which incidentally is an idea that I suggested myself too eight years ago, is very interesting although he contradicts himself further down on his post when he contrasts present terror with anarchist terror in the past and says for the latter that it “was basically a law and order problem,” which he first ventilated in a riposte to me on TWN three years ago. Surely, Kervick, who has learnt his logic by sitting in the spacious intellectual laps of Hume and Russel, could not cogently argue that “predators and covert methods” fall in the ambience of “law and order.”

American says,
Kotzabasis says:

"Surely, Kervick, who has learnt his logic by sitting in the spacious intellectual laps of Hume and Russel, could not cogently argue that “predators and covert methods” fall within the ambience of “law and order.”"
I do. When I say that terrorism is a law and order problem, I don't mean that the only tools to be used are the methods of the criminal justice system. Those latter tools have proven effective in many cases, including operations interdicted in the UK and Canada. But given the limits of applying these tools across borders and inside rugged countries, sometimes more aggressive means must be employed. What I mean is that terrorism is fundamentally a problem of a limited number of militant "outlaws", and that the strategy for addressing it should focus on that fact, rather than be distracted by extravagant projects for state improvement and state overhaul.
What I am most skeptical of is the idea that the problem of terrorism is a conventional military problem that calls for the use of conventional military operations - in the form of armies, invasions and occupations - against either states or sub-national "armies". And I am especially skeptical of the idea that the way to address the problem of terrorism is to launch massive - and generally very unrealistic - state-building operations in the hope that some day the dangerous backward parts of the world will be filled with well-functioning and capable states that will be able to suppress all of the militants operating inside their territories.

There are other means that need to be used as well, including denying the terrorists the ideological foothold that multiplies their influence and capability. That means not doing so many things that provide evidence of the very charges the terrorists make. To counter jihadist charges that the United States is hostile to the interests of Arabs and Muslims across the world the United States should stop behaving as if it is indeed universally hostile to the interests of Arabs and Muslims.

Australian says,
Kervick says:

"When I say that terrorism is a law and order problem, I don't mean that the only tools to be used are the methods of the criminal justice system."

Your quote states the obvious. Of course one does not fight terrorism only with police methods but the question is out of all the methods which are the most effective by which one can defeat the jihadists. And while your paragraph in your previous post that mentions “predators” and all the other ‘hard things’ that one has perforce to do against the jihadists is full of strategic clarity, by reverting back to your old argument of three years ago that the present terrorists are similar to the anarchist terrorists of the past and can be interdicted by ‘police’ methods, you unconsciously downgrade the seriousness of your ‘hard things’ position.

Moreover, you are locked in the fallacy of a rational person who premises his actions that his enemies that ‘round’ him up are also rational and if he shows by his actions, in our case America, that he is not against Arabs and Muslims this will bring a definitive change in the attitudes of the jihadists. This is a ‘straightjacket’ delusion that has lost all contact with reality. Islamic fanaticism will not be influenced, soothed, abated, or defeated by moral examples or olive branches but only in the field of battle and that is why a military deployment against it is a prerequisite. In short, it’s just another but more effective method in defeating the jihadists in a shorter span of time.

American says,
C-G Kotzabasis,

I'm talking about the hearts and minds issue. There is a hard core of dyed-in-the-wool militant jihadists with an uncompromising Salafist ideology. They are not going to be swayed by US public diplomacy, or by forseeable changes in US policy. They can only be dealt with forcibly. They must either be captured or killed, and their plans must be disrupted.

But the hard core is surrounded by concentric circles of people who are associated with the hard core by various degrees of fellow-travelling or sympathizing or onlooking. The extent to which the jihadists are able to expand their movement to get material or moral assistance from people in the out rings depends on how well their message resonates.

In my view, the jihadists have been the beneficiaries in recent years of a number of wrong-headed US policies that help their message resonate strongly. If hundreds of innocent people in Gaza have their lives snuffed out in an over-the-top Israeli attack, some as a result of deliberate crimes, with nary a peep from the US Congress, then when your friendly neighborhood jihadist says, "Muslims lives mean nothing to the Americans," that message is going to get much more play on the street than it would if the US Congress had stepped up and condemned the excessive use of force.

Australian says,
Dan Kervick,

Certainly the “hearts and minds issue” is a core issue. But the “concentric circles of people,” will not be influenced by US Congress pronouncements and condemnations, in this case of Israeli actions, if they perceive, which they will, that this change of American policy arises from the weakness of the latter and from the strength of the “hard core” “militant jihadists” in their war with the US. The concentric circles of support for the militants will only disappear by depriving the latter of the ‘aura’ of being seen as the victors (The ethos of Arab pride trumps all.) against the American hegemon. And that entails the imminent and decisive defeat of the militants in the field of battle, as it happened in Iraq to the Sadrist militias and al Qaeda.

Furthermore, your concentrated reasoning loses its force if your policy contains these two incongruous parts: The first one will destroy by predators and covert operations (Which will be seen in the Muslim world as American excesses) the incubators of “Salafist ideology”, which are the madrassas, while the second, will denounce American and Israeli excesses. Do you seriously believe that such denunciation will have greater influence upon fellow-travellers and sympathisers, than the destruction of the madrassas in which many civilians will be killed, and will win their hearts and minds?
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