Egyptian Islamist Leaders Fault Al-Qaida's Strategy

From FBIS:

FBIS, the Federal Broadcast Information Service, is a part of the CIA's Division of Science & Technology. It monitors not only broadcasts but also publications for open-source intelligence. Since what they are picking up is open-source to begin with, they often don't classify it. Here is an interesting piece: Egyptian Islamist Leaders Fault Al-Qaida's Strategy. These Islamists have some pretty well-structured ideas about where the GWOT is going, and also about its character. On the question of whether the US is a Crusader power, and whether the war is inevitable or desirable, they say:

The fact is that it is the strategy of Al-Qa'ida that strengthened the Christian currents that are hostile to Islam in the United States and the West. Al-Qa'ida's strategy strengthened the voice of those who call for all-out war against Islam. We do not believe that this crusader war actually existed. Some may say, 'so what is wrong with igniting a war against America and the West on the basis of religion? This would mobilize the energies of the Muslim nation and nip these schemes in the bud'. To this we say we disagree with this logic. We disagree not only because the Muslim nation is not ready for such an option. We disagree also because we believe that awakening the Muslim nation from its deep slumber and helping it to rejuvenate its civilization and bounty require us not to fall in the trap of clash of civilizations.
That is, of course, 'not only would we lose a military war; currently, we would lose a cultural competition as well.' I think that's an accurate assessment. An open-eyed view suggests that, if forced to choose sides, most Muslims would prefer an open and largely secular society over Islamist rule. That is not to say that they would prefer domination by the West to domination by the Imams, or that the secular society they would choose would be secular in Western terms. Probably it would look a lot more like Alabama, circa 1930, than Los Angeles today: a state that was in theory secular, but which was permeated by religious influence because of a shared culture.

That represents a step forward. In fact, it may even be preferable to LA 2004. The only thing to complain about in 1930's Alabama, aside from the Depression, was the oppressive racism. Lacking that source of misery, such a culture could be both stable and pleasant. It's not an option for the United States, who has let the genie out of the bottle. It might be one, though, for Egypt, where the jinn is yet confined.


The CIA & Special Operations Forces:

PDF warning: The Federation of American Scientists has obtained a new report by Col. Kathryn Stone, USAR, on the topic of integrated CIA-SOF warfare. Col. Stone notes that it has worked pretty well lately, but that there are a number of problems with the concept that haven't been resolved. Among them:

1) CIA paramilitary operations by their nature usually need deniability. Having large-scale SOF integration with their own special operations units could make it harder to carry off a truly deniable op. Too many US fingerprints, that is.

2) Furthermore, the two kinds of forces each have a different legal status. US military SOF are legal combatants, entitled to Geneva convention protections. CIA paramilitaries may reasonably be defined as illegal combatants, which would remove from them any GC protections; or, in fact, as spies, as which international law says that they can be shot without trial.

Taking a hard but practical example: if an op fails and our people are captured, the SOF would have to be separated out. They're taken off to a POW camp, where they are entitled to freedom from interrogation beyond name and serial number; they get hot meals and decent living conditions. The CIA men get none of that. It would be wise, then, if they pretended to be US military as well, both from a personal and an operational standpoint (e.g., they might avoid interrogation that could reveal US intelligence information). There, of course, goes deniability. Or, they could all pretend to be something other than US operatives. There goes the Geneva Convention protections for the soldiers.

3) Apart from the question of whether the combatants are legal, there is the question of whether the operation itself is legal. As the Colonel gently puts it:

CIA covert paramilitary operations may be contrary to customary international law or the laws of the country in which the activity is taking place, whereas U.S. military forces routinely operate in the public domain in a legally based forum requiring them to follow international law.... Covert actions do not imply that U.S. law is superior to that of another country's, or that of international law, but that, instead, there are overriding national interests (vital interests) that must be protected outside the framework of international law and regular diplomatic relations.
That is to say, CIA operations are frequently illegal. The distinction may seem a small one, given that US military SOF undertake some rough-and-ready missions themselves. For the brass, though, it's a real difference. They're a little nervous about sending their boys off to get themselves into serious trouble.

4) That ties directly into the next problem for the military, which is this:

[T]he combatant commander has the responsibility for missions in his geographical area of command, and commands all military forces assigned to his area of responsibility. The combatant commander, however, has no specific statutory authority over other U.S. Government personnel in his area of operations, such as CIA paramilitary operatives. Accordingly, when CIA paramilitary operatives are integrated with SOF in a warfighting operation in a combatant commander's area of operations, the combatant commander has no authority over those CIA paramilitary operatives[.]
Now this is the kind of thing that can make a field commander sweat bullets. It's bad enough when these paramilitaries are off doing what they think they need to do in your area of responsibility. It's worse when they're integrated with units you actually command, but they themselves don't have to obey orders. The Colonel notes that the President can give orders authorizing the military commander to command the paramilitaries, and I read the paper as suggesting that such an authorization be considered an absolute necessity for integrated ops. Yet, as she notes, CIA special operations occur only because they have special permission from the President himself. Even with a Presidential order demanding compliance with military commands, the CIA operative knows he has another Presidential order of equal weight demanding he complete his mission. If the CIA team decides that it needs to act in defiance of orders to accomplish the mission, it could do so just as readily as it could defy the order to complete the mission in favor of the order to obey military command.

The Colonel's report is highly complimentary to CIA teams, and recognizes that their capabilities are different from--and in certain cases superior to--military capabilities. The CIA is better, she says, at identifying correct targets, which cuts down on civilian casualties. She says that:

[T]he CIA's targeting process is usually quicker, more fluid, and encompasses fewer decision-makers in its "trigger-pulling chain of command" than DOD's.
The problem, though, is that having identified the target is not enough. The integration problems mean that the CIA is left either taking out the target with its own assets, or submitting its target to the DOD for approval. The first one is fine, if it falls within their capability (i.e., if a rifle can do the job). If an airstrike is needed, though, the approval process is actually lengthened even though the targeting was done more quickly.

Sadly, the Colonel reaches a predictable and mistaken conclusion: that these difficulties require a massive new bureaucracy to address, monitor, and control them. In this, she is acting exactly as one would expect a Pentagon officer to act. However, if her recommendation is followed, it will strip the CIA operatives of most of the things that make them useful to have around: freedom of action, fluidity, and the power to assume risks on their own authority, without needing multiple levels of authorization.

That is the minimum price. It could be that a joint bureaucracy would also, out of the timidity that is native to bureaucracies, handcuff the CIA in other matters. For example, one of the things the CIA can readily do is pay out cash to warlords who might be of use, as in Afghanistan. Since SOF usually don't have authority to do that, the payouts could be a signal that an operation was CIA or joint. "We can't allow such signals!" would be the natural cry of the bureaucrat. "They compromise operational security." And, therefore, the payments would be banned, and a level of freedom lost.

A better recommendation would be to increase the authority given to DOD SOF. This is particularly true in the case of the Green Berets, who have many of the same capabilities as CIA paramilitaries in terms of their ability to interact with the local populace. By giving A-team commanders freedom of action similar to the paramilitaries', you would increase the headaches and ulcers of all area commanders everywhere. You would also, however, fight a more successful GWOT.

Black Marketeers

Black Marketeers:

Over at FreeSpeech, I have written a long piece on the current state of the Iraqi black market. Exec. summary: mostly good news, but we need to get ammo to the cops and medicine to the people.

TNI - Back Issues Archive of The National Interest

Jacksonian Democracy:

Blackfive has a link to a long tale, one full of wisdom, on why Jacksonian interests are the paramount ones for American politicians. If there is to be a new party on Jacksonian lines, this seems a good omen for its success. The Price Of War.

Another Comment:

There are some good debates going on FreeSpeech. If you are interested in honest debates, you ought to visit FreeSpeech. Del's site is unusual in how many thoughtful people it attracts from all sides of the spectrum. This one is called "The Price of War." Will B., an anti-warrior, has this to say:

It seems to me that there is little room to walk away with any other conclusion than lives are being lost so we can protect the American way of life the general grew up with. That is fine, but are Iraqis paying that price with the cost of their lives as well? I think so! Then if so, don't they deserve more sympathy from our administration? After all, what do words cost?

Some will say the cost of Iraqi lives are paid for by the lives that will be saved with Saddam removed from power, therefore, no apology required (not that I ever heard the administration make that argument). Well, o.k., fine. But doesn't that seem like hollow sympathy to you? It certainly doesn’t seem to me like the heart of the country I thought I lived in. Then again, perhaps I am one of those "crazies" who feel our country could do better if we make the effort.

To which I reply:
Brother Will,

What would you have said by the powerful? I am honestly curious. The price of war is high, yes; but it has to be compared with the price of not having war.

I am willing to agree that a calculation of lives saved v. lives lost is a poor way to judge the worthiness of war. But there has to be some way to do it. If we aren't going to make utilitarian calculations, then we are left with principles.

And what principle is it that does not justify this war? It is not merely the principle that we should care for the weak, or look out for those who might suffer from war. We have looked out for them, by war. It is war alone that shattered the iron bands that guarded them by day and by night. It was our war that did.

It is not the principle that we should love our neighbor, for we have loved him. At the cost of the blood of our own, we have scattered an army of oppression, collared the Mukhabarat, and begun to empty the graves they were so long in filling. As we turn over to the families skeletons of long dead beloved, we avenge neighbors scorned by the cruel.

It is not the principle that we should do no evil. That principle is answered by the Doctrine of Double Effect, which you and I have discussed before. We have been justified in the evil we have done, which was accidental and unwanted, but was only a much-resisted side effect of destroying foes that were at once ours and the peoples' of Iraq.

It is not the principle that we ought to avoid entangling alliances. The entangling alliances sought to prevent our action, and to allow tyranny to continue.

It is not the principle that we should uphold human freedom. Never, in that, have we done prouder than now.

What would you have me apologize for doing? Alas, alas! for every dead innocent. In a society where public prayer has been all but banned, though, that sentiment can not be expressed by a public official.

We have done all we can do to preserve the innocent. What guilt remains, when all human efforts fail, can only exist between ourselves and God--and that prayer can not be said by the President of a secular nation. We may well prostrate ourselves alone, and sob, and pray, when we look upon the evil face of war.

But having sobbed, and having prayed, at last we must be Men and stand to our duty. We have been; we have done. May God forgive us. Will you have more said after that? Yellow legs sent me this

On Marines:

Hat tip to Mike. He's right about this one: you ought to read it.

TCS: Tech Central Station - Cowboys on Mars?

Cowboys on Mars:

The puppy blender has an article today that is worth looking at just for the graphic. Sounds like a plan to me--I'll saddle up.

Site Updates Continue:

As requested, I've installed a comment feature. Please be aware that I will be enforcing the a code of conduct by deleting offending entries. This code I adopt from the Texas Mercury:

As we see it, modern society has all the important ideas of life exactly backwards: we are completely against the belief in sensitivity and tolerance in politics and raffish disregard in private life. The Texas Mercury is founded on the opposite principles- our idea is of tolerance and polite sensitivity in private life and ruthless truth in politics. Be nice to your neighbor. Be hell to his ideas.

1MARDIV:: ::


Just a warning to my brothers in arms who may be headed to Iraq. Any other Devil Dogs reading this site who aren't yourself First Marine, but know someone who is, drop them a line. Islamist website has picked up that super-edited CNN clip called "US Marines Execute an Iraqi to the Cheers of Fellow Marines."

If you haven't seen it before, I'll give you the skinny on it. It's not an execution, it's the end of a firefight. It was taken during the war, and the Iraqi forces shown under Marine Corps fire were staging an ambush. The clip is so tightly edited that you just see a wounded Iraqi gunman trying to rise, and getting shot while tracers go over his head. You don't see that the firefight is ongoing, or that other Iraqi gunmen would plink any Marine who tried to walk over and arrest the wounded Fedayeen. The clip has been making the round on anti-war websites for months. The children who inhabit those sites, knowing nothing about the rules of war, just take the headline at face value and assume that this is video evidence of Marines committing war crimes, while their buddies cheer. I don't think it's a coincidence that it's made the front page of an Islamist webpage right before Marines are deployed in the Sunni Triangle.

Your enemies are watching you. Keep your eyes open, too.