Monday, April 26, 2004

The Top 100 Things I'd do if I were NSA edition, Issue 4

This is an edition of "The Top 100 Things I'd do if I were NSA".

As it turns out the NYT has an article out about Europe's Muslim dillemma.

The call to jihad is rising in the streets of Europe, and is being answered, counterterrorism officials say.

In this former industrial town north of London, a small group of young Britons whose parents emigrated from Pakistan after World War II have turned against their families' new home. They say they would like to see Prime Minister Tony Blair dead or deposed and an Islamic flag hanging outside No. 10 Downing Street.

They swear allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his goal of toppling Western democracies to establish an Islamic superstate under Shariah law, like Afghanistan under the Taliban. They call the Sept. 11 hijackers the "Magnificent 19" and regard the Madrid train bombings as a clever way to drive a wedge into Europe.


Now since there will be some temptation to blame this entirely upon the appeasement of the Spanish or the European coddling of the Palestinians let me share another two paragraphs from the piece as well:

Even more worrying, said a senior counterterrorism official, is that the level of "chatter" — communications among people suspected of terrorism and their supporters — has markedly increased since Mr. bin Laden's warning to Europe this month. The spike in chatter has given rise to acute worries that planning for another strike in Europe is advanced.

"Iraq dramatically strengthened their recruitment efforts," one counterterrorism official said. He added that some mosques now display photos of American soldiers fighting in Iraq alongside bloody scenes of bombed out Iraqi neighborhoods. Detecting actual recruitments is almost impossible, he said, because it is typically done face to face.
[emphasis added]

So we both screwed up. Europe found out that no compromise with fanatics was possible, because you cannot do business with suicidal absolutists. America found out that you cannot win by fomenting and imposing false democracies and supporting the bloody and pointless tactics of Sharon. The number of terrorists isn't a finite number, and as Rumsfeld himself had enough perception to question we are indeed creating terrorists faster than we can kill them.

The correct policy would have been a mixture of toughness and softness, conquer and divide. Provide hope, prospects for economic prosperity, and an even-handed policy of justness - Machiavelli's expedient morality principle means doing the right thing when it's also doing the smart thing - combined with a tough security and counterterrorism effort mixed in with targeted assassination. One cannot negotiate with fanatics, but one can "drain the swamp" that produces them and then win by exhausting them in a war of attrition. When they die and are not replaced, when their acts win no greater approbation from the targeted public, and when the greviances they claim are given just redress then gradually their threat will diminish over time.

Instead, sentiments of even moderates are turning away from us (CSM).

However a sophisticated two or three prong programme like this is apparently beyond the minds of the Administration, who comfortably decide that they wish control over creativity. No authentic and genuine foreign leadership can arise that is simutaneously beholden and dependent upon us. The only chance for success is to cultivate friends and allies, and to rely upon the "soft power" of economic cooperation and fostering the cultural values of liberal democracy.

A grevious example of a violation of this is the grevious screw-up in Iraq. As it turns out, the Admin according to Needlenose is reversing course and vascillating regarding Najaf and Fallujah again.


How to handle Najaf? One way is to exploit the presence of the Tribes. First of all, we dig up that old scarred warrior of the Directorate of Operations former CIA officer Robert Baer. Then we give him a suitcase with a few million dollars and send him in with orders to the CIA handlers for the Ministry of the Interior to take the weapons he's been stockpiling and put a big chunk of them on trucks. Then we instruct Robert Baer to make contact with the Tribal leaders allied with Sistani that have spoken out against Sadr.

These tribesmen then put together a small army, using the funds provided through Robert Baer and the arms provided from the stockpiles of the Ministry of the Interior of the IGC. How do get the support of said Tribes? Well we'll have to cut a deal for definite elections using this plan discussed at Needlenose. Yes, we'll be capitulating to Sistani but we were anyway according to the noises coming from Washington and a good principle in life is that if you are going to have to give something up anyway you might as well cut a deal so that you get something for your concessions instead of coming home with nothing! Sistani will then direct the tribes to cooperate with us.

The tribes will put together this small army and having been armed and funded by us, they will sweep into Najaf. First of all, since they will be Iraqis operating "independently" we'll have Plausible Deniability and Sadr won't be able to claim that they're American agents. Second of all, Sadr won't be able to cry foul politically since we'll make an announcement capitulating to Sistani regarding real elections. Third of all, the Tribal forces will clean out Najaf of all weapons and restore it to a religious neutral zone - part of what they give us - and the second portion of their part of the deal is that they will take Sadr into custody and turn him over to the tender mercies of the Hawaz seminary where they will put him to the task of memorizing the Koran and reciting it until he has mastered all their chants. I figure it'll be the equivalent of a 25 to life sentence of hard labor here in the States.

If people who are reading this have an objection to bribing officials in Iraq and stage managing this sort of political event, let me make it very clear that we are already spending millions bribing Chalabi and the members of the IGC. We just aren't getting anything for our money.

You can pick the pieces out of an excellent Economist article buried in the middle of Col Lounsbury's post here indicating who on the IGC is worth their money - hint they're the ones that gave up on us.

So given the fact that we're already spending millions - as in tens and hundreds of millions bribing people in Iraq - wouldn't it be sensible if we were to actually put together a plan to actually get something in return for that money?

We need somebody who we can do business with, and we need to realize that we have to choose between (a) incompetent and corrupt officials whom we can control but whom cannot deliver and (b) independent autonomous leaders who will only cooperate with us insofar as it serves their interests but who can in fact deliver.

Can we trust them? No. I'm sure they don't trust us either. However if it is in their rational best interests and we pitch it in such a way that they have a reasonable interest in cooperating - if they welched we'd have a good excuse not to implement elections which they want afterall - then they will go along as long as they think they can get ahead and remain independent.

What we get in return is a pacified Iraq, a commitment to a moderate Shiite religious influence, and a way to get back to the bargaining table for a negotiation about the disposition of Iraq's political future.

Right now that's a long sight more than we got at the present. If somebody is out there listening to me in the White House, stovepipe this right away to the NSC because we need to get the gears moving on this right away. In addition, if Robert Baer is drunk we're going to have to have 48 hours to get him dry and up to speed before we send him in-country.

So what are we waiting for? Too bad this plan won't be actually implemented. The White House seems to have a fetish about indecisiveness, reversing themselves, and not having a freaking clue about what to do when the going get's tough. It's easy to make abstract pronouncements, when the rubber hits the road that's what counts.

As a bonus point, read here about the Congressional testimony as reported by Juan Cole and his analysis of the intra-party dynamics of Republican beliefs. As a conservative, I would have to agree. There are concerned Republicans, like Lincoln Chafee willing to stand up to the truth, but the opinion leaders are more like Sanotorum and Brownback. It's an ugly thought. As Max once asked me, did I ever feel like the last of the Mohicans?

Hell yes. More and more I fear that the Republican party of yester-year, the party whom I found intellectually, pragmatically, and morally impossible not to be a part of is slowly disappearing. Instead we have this partisan b.s. that can't get the job done.


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