Saturday, May 31, 2008


More Good News

Because the source is the CIA, we have to take this with a large grain of salt, still...

Remember the Defeatists talking point that by fighting Muslim extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan, we were merely making more Muslim extremists and providing al Qaeda with a propaganda win and an unlimited source of money and new recruits. The increasingly political (and decreasingly accurate) CIA said just this as lately as two years ago. Hold on there, kitty cat.

Now the CIA head, Michael Hayden, says just the opposite. Money quotes:

...the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border...

...major gains against al-Qaeda's allies in the Middle East and an increasingly successful campaign to destabilize the group's core leadership...

Osama bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents. Two years ago, a CIA study concluded that the U.S.-led war had become a propaganda and marketing bonanza for al-Qaeda, generating cash donations and legions of volunteers.

All that has changed...

I've recently read closely the two declarations of war (fatwas) Osama bin Laden issued during the Clinton administration. Wild ravings and wishful thinking was my initial reaction, but the brilliant, evil and successful 9/11 plot was a direct result... So I think we need to take bin Laden at his word. Remember the strong horse parable. It was just a minor point in passing to bin Laden, but that's our winning strategy. We need to be the strong horse. We need to take the war they've declared to the enemy, who expected a Lebanon/Somali type retreat by us to their strong horse attacks. We are doing that in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our allies, such as they are, are doing that to a lesser degree in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. And as a result, despite dire and wrong predictions of a strengthening al Qaeda, they are proving the weak horse and new recruits are staying away in droves.

The one big drawback is that when we close with the enemy and can shoot them, they can shoot us too. We take casualties, tiny, historically insignificant casualties, but each is a tragedy to the family of our fallen warriors. Seems to cost a lot of money too. Well, the results of catastrophic attacks cost a whole lot more.

A strong horse kills the enemy, and does not negotiates with them. A strong horse stays until the job is done, and does not runs away like girly men facing a big spider. A strong horse just wins, baby.

The facts on the ground are getting ever harder to spin into defeat and disaster, even for the alternative reality Defeatocrats.

Good news indeed.


Not so fast, please. Hayden is taking a lot of heat for these largely unsubstantiated claims. Progress in Pakistan ranks as perhaps the most dubious. Both don't take my work for it. Please read, this and this

It does get tiresome, but I'll do it again for you. Fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is a no brainer: had to be done. Too bad no enough troops have ever been committed there so that almost 7 years later there is still less than what we would call "stability" there.

Al Qaeda was not in Iraq before the invasion (and if they were, in very small numbers and precariously so) so all the killing we have done there centers largely on new recruits where there were none.

And finally, globally, Al Qaeda is still strong in Pakistan, Somalia, and elsewhere.

All that killing, and what do we really have to show for it at the end of the day?

Not much.

p.s. It is much more expensive when soldiers get injured than killed. I think the families get like $500,000 for a death. Much cheaper than life-long medical for most of the injured who outnumber the dead by 9 to 1

An article in this week's NYer magazine suggests that some Arabs may be rethinking terrorism. Given the insanity of some interpretations of Islam, I fear that terrorism a la al Qaeda and suicide bombings will ever be w/ us to some degree.

The solution to extremism is deceptively simple to enunciate and incredibly difficult to implement. Let us leave the tribal areas of Pakistan out of the following equation as that area does not really resemble a nation state.

The solution to combatting extremism is for Arab and other states to deliver basic services to their citizens--jobs; electricty; clean water--in short many of the basic things that we take for granted in our society.

Take Egypt. Egypt is a freaking mess is you are an Egyptian living in Cairo. Lack of basic amenities and hope for a better future for one and one's children provides a fertile breeding ground for extremism.

Why did Hamas get elected in the Gaza? B/c it took some of the money it was receiving from Iran and provided food snd schools to Palestinians who then thought Hams would be able to replicate that course of action when elected.

Our war against terrorists will have its successes and failures. Although we may be able to safeguard our airports, we will never be able to safeguard every market place in Iraq; every bazaar in Morocco; and every plaza in Pakistan.

The ultimate success against terrorism and extremism will only occur when the preconditions that fostered such extremism are ameliorated.

One mistake of George W. Bush, and there were many, was his idea that the promulgation of democracy would foil terrorism. In theory. this is a good idea. In practice, it is a better strategy to address peoples' needs and allow them to reach their own conclusions regarding what works best for them polically.

I like Dinar.and its revaluation of currency.
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