Sunday, October 03, 2004

Jihad and Strategic Asymetry

Actually I have been browsing through some of my essays on various subjects and came across this one that I wrote several months ago. It seems to be even more relevant now in light of some of Senator Kerry's remarks regarding terrorism and Iraq. It is increasingly apparent that we are in a war with few allies because so many of our "allies" are of the Neville Chamberlin variety in that they feel if they just let the jihadists beat on the US they will be safe. They seem to be oblivious to their own peril. Spain is gone -- done for -- they are in thrall to the Muslims and France isn't far behind. Certainly France will be dominated and in control of the Muslims within 5 years and possibly sooner. Germany isn't quite as threatened yet but their socialistic society is gradually emasculating them. In fact that is one of the errors in this essay because I credit both the Germans and the French of having armies capable of deployment. That is really not the situation because both countries have small armies armed with increasingly obsolete weapons. This in itself isn't an overly serious problem because the Muslims are using primitive weapons. The problem is the size of these armies and the fact they are trained to fight on a battlefield. If SecDef Rumsfeld has done else he has transformed our army into a fighting force capable of fighting an unconventional war using unconventional tactics, which I think falls into the category of Asymetric Strategy.

Strategic Asymetry

Rome was a mighty power, unrivaled at the time, and capable of crushing any and all opposition. They had over a million man Army that was highly trained and virtually invincible. They had a government run by a bureaucratic civil service, philosophers, artists, and a highly educated and civilized society. However, this Empire that stretched from Persia to Scotland was besieged from without by Barbarians hungry for the riches of Rome and within by greedy aristocrats willing to sell their votes, judges willing to sell their judgements, and bureaucrats expecting kickbacks or “tips” for doing the jobs for which they were paid. All of these things contributed in their way to the ultimate destruction of Rome but perhaps the greatest factor in that destruction was the complacency of the people. After all most of Roman society wasn’t really “Roman” at all but was a collection of merchants, artisans, and farmers spread across the Empire and all to a greater or lesser extent living what at the time was the “good life”. The problems and issues that ultimately brought down the Empire were viewed as being the responsibility of the government. The average Roman citizen was largely unaware of the dangers lurking on their borders that threatened their civilization or they were aware but too busy with their own lives to become involved, a situation not unlike what we are facing today.

Just as Rome was threatened by Barbarians, America and indeed all of Western Civilization is being besieged by Neo-Barbarians. There are some very serious issues and questions facing Western Civilization today and much like our Roman counterparts these are largely being ignored, either through ignorance, denial, or complacency. Of course while ancient Rome provides a historical parallel, the situation is not totally the same. The problems and issues threatening Western Civilization today are not rooted in a desire by the Neo-Barbarians to join Western Civilization but rather by a desire to destroy it. More importantly, many of the problems facing Western Civilization are internal and are rooted in conservative thinking masquerading as “liberal” or “progressive” thinking. An example is “Globalization” which is viewed negatively by the left because it is seen on the one hand as moving jobs overseas and on the other as exploiting poor nations.

At the strategic level Globalization represents what many liberal politicians have been striving for since the French Revolution and that is redistribution of wealth, but rather than redistributing the wealth of the rich, it actually is moving work across national borders and thus raising the average incomes of poorer nations. For some this movement of work to low labor nations is “exploitive” but this fails to recognize that if the same wages were paid to these workers that is paid to the high cost workers then the incentive to send the work to them would be lost and the result would be they would be even poorer, while the demand for labor would exceed the supply. This would drive up the costs and place the entire First World into a destructive inflationary spiral. Therefore, the critics of Globalization must understand that labor is simply a commodity and the purchaser will opt for the best price and the price is set by competition. However, as Globalization increases and nations become ever more interdependent, the result is a blurring of the Nation State and a homogenization of culture and this brings us to the Neo-Barbarians and the threat they represent to Western Civilization.

It is the very ubiquity of American Culture that is a major underlying factor in the greatest issue facing America today and that is “Global Terrorism”. This is widely viewed as an “American” problem by Europe and the United Nations but it is in fact a threat to Western Civilization. The United Nations has always been anti-American and largely impotent in any real crisis. Since the UN is largely made up of non-democratic countries run by dictators, many of whom are virulently anti-American and sympathetic to the terrorists they do not see the terrorists as any threat, other than to America. Therefore, there is no sense of urgency to confront what to them is an American problem. In fact many of them think it is about time that America got its “comeuppance.” What they don’t see is what would happen to them if America were to fall?

The Europeans are little better. Europe has always been focused on its past rather than focusing on its future, so they see terrorism as more of an annoyance than any real threat, because they continue to think in terms of Nation States rather than the individual or socio-political interests represented by the terrorists. The Europeans, particularly the French and Germans, think only in terms of their national interests rather than thinking globally. After all, they are wealthy have their own armies and are quite capable of meeting any aggression on the battlefield. What they fail to see or accept is that there is not going to be any battlefield – ever. The threat is within and aimed at destroying their economic power and will to resist with the objective of installing an Islamic society. What the UN and the Europeans either don’t understand or don’t accept is that the terrorists represent a new kind of threat that is rooted in ideology not in nation state politics. Besides what the Europeans seem to think is that the terrorists are really threatening America and therefore, it is essentially an American problem. What the Europeans fail to grasp is what would happen to them if America were to fall?

But this obsolete thinking is also quite prevalent in America as well, where our political representatives are reluctant to declare war on terrorists and terrorism, even though Thomas Jefferson gave us a historical precedent with his war on the Barbary Pirates. Instead we have a drive by our politicians to fight terrorists and to enlist the support and aid of the United Nations and Europe in a cause in which they really don’t believe involves them and may have been brought on by the sheer arrogance of America. The terrorists are viewed as a small group of fanatics bent on murder and destruction that can be contained and defeated through law enforcement.

The reality is we are already engaged in World War III and many, perhaps the majority, of the combatants are not even aware there is a war going on. Furthermore, this ignorance and complacency by so many individuals who see the current situation in terms of social unrest, political partisanship, and cultural conflicts, are virtually assuring this war will drag on for years, perhaps for a century or more and worse, their inability to see the stark reality of the situation is actually placing the outcome in doubt. Had you asked the average Roman Citizen if they thought the Barbarians would bring down mighty Rome, I am confident they would have laughed at the idea, just as so many people today feel no threat from these neo-barbarians called terrorists. Rome had mighty legions of well trained warriors, wealth, and the tactical ability to meet any threat anywhere, yet a raid here, a raid there coupled with high taxation and a reluctance to understand the actual threat and Rome was crippled and then fell.

The parallel is striking for like Rome we are protected by our technology, our laws, our education, our wealth, and most of all by our belief in fair play, multi-culturalism, and equality. When these Neo-Barbarian Terrorists call for the destruction of America it is viewed on the one hand as laughable hyperbolae and on the other as simply a reaction to the arrogance and ubiquity of American culture. Thus these terrorists are seen as misguided but with some legitimate complaints that can be discussed, negotiated, and eventually corrected. Of course this assumes these Neo-Barbarians share the same values and objectives as we do but this is a false assumption because it is not only our technology, our laws, our educational institutions, and our wealth that they wish to destroy, they wish to destroy anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their distorted religious system. This is a religious war of Islam against Christians, it is another Crusade, which they openly state but it is the Christians who refuse to see this for what it is. Furthermore, it is the very roots of our society and Western Civilization that they are using as weapons to destroy us. It is our very freedoms and morality that they are turning against us. Our situation calls for asymmetric thinking but what we are seeing is conventional thinking rooted in the idea of the Nation State and classic conflicts, but there may be another historical parallel that is closer to what is happening today.

Genghis Khan and his successor Tamerlane probably never had more than 250,000 troops at any one time but they conquered and controlled an Empire that was larger and more diverse than the Roman Empire. How did they do it? They did it through sheer terror. The Mongols were nomadic meaning they had no cities to attack, no fields to burn, no infrastructure to destroy and whose actual location could not be predicted with any certainty. To oppose the Mongols meant you either had to win or suffer fearful punishment. At first many opposed the Mongols but the Mongols didn’t fight according to the rules, instead they used unconventional tactics while their opponents were still fighting a largely infantry oriented war that relied on strongholds. Consequently, the battles were always fought on the terms set by the Mongols so the peoples being attacked were always on the defensive and rarely prepared. The various cities and principalities were not closely allied for any number of reasons leaving each one vulnerable. The Mongols used lightly armed cavalry and certainly didn’t fight hand-to-hand or toe-to-toe, their tactics were based on surprise attacks and sheer terror. To oppose the Mongols meant that you had to defend your stronghold while the Mongols waited outside of the walls until you surrendered or starved. When the Mongols finally emerged victorious they totally destroyed their enemies by slaughtering every living thing and leveling the cities they captured, leaving nothing standing. The result of this total devastation was stark terror and capitulation without resistance. After all, the Mongols were after loot and could usually be bought off. However, with the deaths of the two great Khans, the Mongol Empire fragmented and disappeared with only Kublai Khan remaining as the Emperor of China.

Certainly there are some obvious historical parallels here. How many terrorists are there worldwide? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? Perhaps a million? No one really knows because like the Mongols they don’t have a central location, their infrastructure is largely virtual and what is tangible is carefully hidden. They are difficult to locate and cannot be attacked because they exist within the very societies they are trying to destroy. They attack on their terms and under the conditions of their choosing, consequently those being attacked are always on the defensive – after the initial attack. When they do emerge with any recognizable infrastructure they can be attacked and destroyed and Iraq and Afghanistan are examples. But they were not totally destroyed in these locations they simply faded back into the society and continued their hit and run tactics. Pinpricks in the side of the American Colossus but the tactic is to sap the will of the people to resist, to give up and to go away leaving them to continue their strategy, which is the total destruction of Western Civilization.

As much as this terrorist strategy may seen unattainable, even laughable, it is very real and quite possible. First, they can succeed in having the civilized countries ignore them or only give half-hearted resistance, leaving them to grow and expand their hidden infrastructure. Their announced target is to take over a nuclear power like Pakistan or India. Once this is accomplished they are in a position to literally destroy Washington D.C., London, New York, or any and all large cities. This devastation would pale in comparison to the damage done to Western Society as a whole. The economy of the world would be in a shambles and might possibly never recover, especially if all of the major cities were destroyed. Then there is the possibility of bio-terrorism masquerading under the name “Weapons of Mass Destruction” which we know exist but do not know precisely where they are. Consider a massive plague unleashed on the world, much like the Black Plague in the 1600’s, where 25% of the population of Europe died. Consider what this would do to the world economy and Western Civilization in general. This is the absolute objective of the radical Muslims – totally destruction of all Infidels, their society, their technology, and their hated democracies. They offer no compromise and no quarter is asked or given and it is necessary that all countries and societies realize this. What is needed to combat this threat is some asymmetrical thinking with non-traditional approaches and certainly a realization that we are dealing with a serious threat from a non-traditional enemy.

The first step in an asymmetrical strategy is accept the fact that we are not dealing with a nation state and therefore, a direct attack is not possible, although they can attack us at will and at a location of their choosing. Furthermore, they are not bound by any treaty or convention. This brings us to the first hurdle in developing an asymmetrical strategy and that is the Geneva Convention. As a nation we abide by the Geneva Convention but our enemy is not bound by this convention and so are free to murder, torture, kidnap, and generally take any action they choose. By insisting that we abide by the Geneva Convention we are in effect crippling our military. During the Revolutionary War the British had the most powerful army in the world. They marched onto the battlefield in bright red uniforms with perfect discipline. Unfortunately for them the Americans didn’t understand the rules and hid behind trees and bushes. The Americans lost almost every battle but eventually won anyway. This is very analogous to our current situation. We are being forced to fight according to “the rules” while the terrorists simply ignore them. This is not a good strategy. Our overall response has been tepid, but we have held people deemed a threat as enemy combatants, denied them constitutional protections, subjected them to psychological pressure, and mild physical discomfort. This rather mild response to these terrorists and murderers has been heavily criticized by many in the left wing, who view these actions as criminal and insist that we “act in a civilized manner and according to the rule of law”. Of course these same people criticize the terrorists as well but offer no solution regarding how to stop them, instead they focus on the Geneva Convention and the “rules”.

Then there is the money. Even terrorists need money for explosives, arms, travel, food, bribes, and the usual operating expenses. Certainly, there has been an effort to cut off the money supply but much of this is hidden as charities, educational foundations, or similar innocuous sounding groups. These should be closed down entirely or denied the ability to transfer funds out of this country to any country deemed a sponsor of terrorism. Furthermore, they should be denied the ability to transfer funds to any country that permits the transfer of funds to any country deemed a sponsor of terrorism. A violation of this law would result in all of their funds being confiscated and their officers imprisoned or deported. The informal banking system historically used by the Arab community should be outlawed in this country and subjected to the same fiduciary laws as any formal organization. Any transfer of funds out of this country by any individual should be restricted to no more than $5000 in a year.

The Islamic Community should be notified that hate speech, threats to America, and any encouragement or overt attempt to recruit suicide bombers or terrorists, will be viewed as sedition and the perpetrator subject to imprisonment. If these acts transpire within a Mosque, that Mosque will not only be closed, it will be razed. If these actions take place outside of the United States, the harboring state (e.g. Syria, Iran, etc.) will be notified that the US expects them to take equivalent action to what would be done in the US and if they fail to do so, the US reserves the right to act unilaterally, if the harboring state views this action as an act of war, then so be it.

The head of state for any nation state viewed as harboring or sponsoring terrorists and terrorism should be told that the US holds them personally responsible for any terrorist action taken against the United States. This means that the US will attempt to remove them via assassination or any other means available. The objective is to take the battle to the terrorists, to deny them safe harbor, to disrupt their communications, to kill as many as possible, and to give those who would harbor them the choice to live within the confines of law or die.

The real lesson is how the Mongol empire disintegrated. The mighty Mongolian Empire fragmented when the leaders died so what is needed is a direct attack on the leaders. This includes people like Yasser Arafat, the various Mullahs running Iran, the Dictator of Syria, as well as the leaders of the various terrorist organizations. History tells us that with these people out of the way their followers will fall to fighting among themselves because the root is power and money, not ideology. Hence our basic strategy should be one of personal attacks on the leaders after giving them ample notice to conform or die. If they fail to heed the warning then there should be strikes against them similar to the air strike against Quaddaffi in Libya. This is a strategy that is being used by Israel and while it has not caused the attacks to stop, the reality is they are not striking the real leaders who actually reside in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, not in Gaza.

Many of these recommendations are already in place but under severe attack by the left and many well intentioned people who see these as extreme measures and not in keeping with the American character. However, these are extreme times and if we fail to take extreme measures we may find ourselves in the same position that the ancient Romans did, a civilization in slow decline harassed by Neo-Barbarians, with a collapsing economy, and a government unable to protect us from the ravages of the barbarians.

The fall of America and the end of the Pax Americana would plunge the world into chaos. The Europeans would be unable to contain the terrorists and France in particular would be vulnerable to a takeover by the Muslim terrorists. Very quickly the world would decline into a series of feudal states dominated by war lords fighting over the bones of society. Just as all vestiges of civilization vanished with the fall of Rome so it would be with the fall of America. Gone would be the leading technology, the science, and most of all the infrastructure on which the world economy depends. We are deeply engaged in World War III --- a war that could easily drag on for a decade or more – and if we do not aggressively pursue these Neo-Barbarians using every means at our disposal, we run a very great risk of losing.

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