Chas Freeman: Non-State Actors Now Competing Competently with States

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This is a guest “note” by Chas Freeman, President of the Middle East Policy Council and former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia as well as former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. This clip appeared as part of a private email exchange, and The Washington Note secured permission from Freeman to run this segment that offers interesting insights into America’s current challenges with terrorists in Afghanistan and on a Northwest Airlines flight.
chas-freeman.jpgNon-State Actors Now Competing Competently with States
. . .That would certainly appear to be the case with the al-Qa`ida operation that Humam Al-Balawi just spearheaded to revenge the assassination of the Taliban’s Baitullah Mehsud.
Quite aside from the mythic status he has now achieved and the recruitment value this has to al-Qa`ida, this operation involved the carefully planned deployment of a triple agent over an extended period to entrap the key CIA personnel engaged in planning the assassination of al-Qa`ida’s leadership cadre. It came off like clockwork, demonstrating a level of tradecraft, professional skill, and capability comparable to that of the superlatively competent Staatssicherheit [Stasi] establishment in the late, unlamented DDR.
One must laugh at the attention being lavished on the pathetically unsuccessful “underpants bomber” (successful as he was in sowing panic, which is after all the objective of terrorists) when the death of seven CIA operatives and associated security staff so convincingly demonstrates how our enemies are evolving to match us.
Those involved in the struggle to “defend their faith and its homelands” against “the Crusaders and Jews” are getting much cleverer, more competent, more sophisticated, more united, more diverse, and able to operate more effectively on a global scale and over longer time frames.
Whether we and the Israelis wish to take credit for this evolution (as is our due) or not, we should be very concerned at the phenomena that our callously ignorant policies in the Dar al-Islam are birthing.
Non-state actors are now, for the first time, beginning to compete in competence with states.
— Chas Freeman

Comments

43 comments on “Chas Freeman: Non-State Actors Now Competing Competently with States

  1. cld says:

    I would question whether this is truly the product of a non-state actor.
    Does this not originate from an area controlled a Pashtun group the Pakistani secret service describes as ‘our guys’?
    And, additionally, could it not be said to be an outgrowth of a greater-Pashtun suppressed nationalism?
    Can something that is a genuinely existent nationalism truly be described as non-state since they have the benefit of their presumed legitimacy throughout a large contiguous population?

    Reply

  2. JamesL says:

    I would say that the story below falls in the category of ‘non-state’ entities. Non state entities include any that have succeeded in effectively rendering geographical, legal, and economic national boundaries transparent to their activities. They include Somalian pirates, organized crime, and multinational corporations. As a group they are ascendant and cannot be disregarded as a systemic trend.
    “TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) – In early 2008, an official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent a report to his superiors detailing what he called “the most significant development in the criminal exploitation of aircraft since 9/11.” The document warned that a growing fleet of rogue jet aircraft was regularly crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean. On one end of the air route, it said, are cocaine-producing areas in the Andes controlled by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. On the other are some of West Africa’s most unstable countries. The report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, was ignored, and the problem has since escalated into what security officials in several countries describe as a global security threat. The clandestine fleet has grown to include twin-engine turboprops, executive jets and retired Boeing 727s that are flying multi-ton loads of cocaine and possibly weapons to an area in Africa where factions of al Qaeda are believed to be facilitating the smuggling of drugs to Europe, the officials say.”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60C3E820100113?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+reuters/worldNews+(News+/+US+/+International)

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  3. JamesL says:

    samuel @1:47: Oudated only by the title; today, be The Unconscious American.

    Reply

  4. Mr.Murder says:

    Back to topic, Chas higlights an important shift. The aid we initially gave AQ in developing has helped them turn the worm on the IC.
    Years of operating laissez faire in realms less prone to oversight. They’ve become adept at subtrefuge of top order states, and the repression that accompanies most of our ‘allies’ in the regions they recruit from, made AQ learn how anticipate and stay in front of reactionary policy.

    Reply

  5. Mr.Murder says:

    http://action.firedoglake.com/page/invite/gruber
    “…Firedoglake revealed on Friday, the Obama Administration has failed to disclose that it paid the same economist more than $780,000.
    Jonathan Gruber’s work has been cited by the White House, Members of Congress, and countless media outlets, but not once did the Obama Administration disclose it was paying him more than $780,000 in tax dollars. This is a huge ethical violation that undermines the entirety of health care reform.”
    -Apologies on being off topic.

    Reply

  6. samuelburke says:

    “The Quiet American was the hero of Graham Greene’s novel
    about the first Vietnam War, the one fought by the French.
    He was a young and naïve American, a professor’s son, who had
    enjoyed a good education at Harvard, an idealist with all the
    best intentions. When he was sent to Vietnam, he wanted to help
    the natives to overcome the two evils as he saw them: French
    colonialism and Communism. Knowing absolutely nothing about
    the country in which he was acting, he caused a disaster. The
    book ends with a massacre, the outcome of his misguided
    efforts. He illustrated the old saying: “The road to hell is paved
    with good intentions.”
    Since this book was written, 54 years have passed, but it seems
    that the Quiet American has not changed a bit. He is still an
    idealist (at least, in his own view of himself), still wants to bring
    redemption to foreign and far-away peoples about whom he
    knows nothing, still causes terrible disasters: in Iraq,
    Afghanistan, and now, it seems, in Yemen.
    THE IRAQI example is the simplest one.
    The American soldiers were sent there to overthrow the
    tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein. There were, of course,
    also some less altruistic objectives, such as taking control of the
    Iraqi oil resources and stationing an American garrison in the
    heart of the Middle Eastern oil region. But for the American
    public, the adventure was presented as an idealistic enterprise
    to topple a bloody dictator, who was menacing the world with
    nuclear bombs.”
    http://counterpunch.com/avnery01122010.html

    Reply

  7. samuelburke says:

    “From yesterday’s New York Times story on Humam Khalil Abu
    Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian doctor who killed 7 CIA agents (as
    well as his Jordanian handler) in Afghanistan last week:
    He [Balawi’s brother] described Mr. Balawi as a “very good
    brother” and a “brilliant doctor,” saying that the family knew
    nothing of Mr. Balawi’s writings under a pseudonym on jihadi
    Web sites. He said, however, that his brother had been
    “changed” by last year’s three-week-long Israeli offensive in
    Gaza, which killed about 1,300 Palestinians.
    The brother said that Mr. Balawi was arrested by the Jordanian
    authorities after volunteering with medical organizations to treat
    wounded Palestinians in Gaza. The family is itself of Palestinian
    origin, from a tribe in the Beersheba region.
    While hawkish supporters of Israel in the U.S. often urge us to
    “let Israel decide on Israel’s security needs,” this story is yet
    another reminder that Israel’s actions do not have consequences
    for Israel alone. It is depressing to think about how many
    Muslims are being turned against the U.S. at this very moment
    by the belief (a correct belief, as it happens) that the Obama
    administration is complicit in the siege of Gaza.”
    http://www.ips.org/blog/jimlobe/
    it appears that israel has pasted a target on the back of the
    united states and “we the people” are taking the hit.

    Reply

  8. samuelburke says:

    if the pharaohs army drowned in a sea of reeds then the miracle is
    even greater than the biblical record proclaims.s

    Reply

  9. samuelburke says:

    Mr Freeman, i too was dismayed at the israeli lobby’s victory over
    your nomination…i was also hoping at the time for a more open
    battle by you with a little name calling to help bring some more
    visibility to the nation within a nation that runs roughshod over
    our political system with the full support of at least one faction of
    the intelligence community and the full support of the msm.
    we live in interesting times.
    philip weiss over at mondoweiss.net is doing more to expose the
    corrupt zionists than all others in the msm put together then
    multiplied.

    Reply

  10. David says:

    Any possibility that Obama’s role, since AIPAC et. al. wield such powerful influence in American politics (isn’t Chas Freeman the guy Likud interests got canned?), could simply be that he will not thwart European efforts toward the two-state solution? It seems to me that Congress would not permit Obama to actually take a meaningful leading role in seeking a peaceful solution. Israel has no intention of giving up anything they’ve taken/settled, nor do they have any intention of ending expansion of the settelements. Our own forebears never had any intention of stopping short of sea-to-shining-sea, and even at one point contemplated invading Canada. We took northern Mexico. What’s new here?
    Regarding Read Sea, I was once told by a Biblical archaelogist that an older name for the Red Sea was the Reed Sea. He was studying the parting of the sea and trying to understand it in real-world, not mythic, terms. He thought that possibly very strong winds pushed back the water in a shallow area. To his credit, whether his theory was correct or not, he was both devoutly religious and devoutly intellectually whole.

    Reply

  11. ... says:

    blowback…the usa will never learn…
    An Iranian nuclear physicist is murdered
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/01/12/iran_scientist/index.html

    Reply

  12. james says:

    has anyone ever calculated how much israeli intransigence has cost?

    Reply

  13. samuelburke says:

    “Following his remarks, during a White House briefing by
    National Security Council aide John Brennan, Helen Thomas
    asked a follow-up question to which we almost never hear an
    answer:
    Why is al-Qaeda at war with us? What is its motivation?
    It was Osama bin Laden himself, in his declaration of war in
    1998, published in London, who gave al-Qaeda’s reasons for
    war:
    First, the U.S. military presence on the sacred soil of Saudi
    Arabia. Second, U.S. sanctions causing terrible suffering among
    the Iraqi people. Third, U.S. support for Israel’s dispossession of
    the Palestinians. “All these crimes and sins committed by the
    Americans are a clear declaration of war”
    http://original.antiwar.com/buchanan/2010/01/11/why-are-
    they-at-war-with-us/

    Reply

  14. Jake Haunson says:

    Dear Mr. Freeman, I was appalled when O-bought-ma/Rahmie dropped you from the post O-bought-ma wanted you to have. Then, didn’t even stand up for you!!! BLOODYISRAEL/AIPAC. I loathed BLOODYISRAEL for many years, but the treatment you got was low, underhanded, corruption at it’s finest, and it was then that sealed my opinion of BLK-FACED BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSHE.

    Reply

  15. Josh Meah says:

    Maybe I missed part of this story, but I thought
    that the “triple agent” was forced into working
    for Jordanian intelligence.
    The situation, to me, sounds like an major mistake
    in oversight.
    Does no one else think that the latest attack does
    not demonstrate effectiveness?
    By the way, a person being independently dedicated
    to a cause with little individual recruitment
    actually taking place does not speak to the
    strength of al-Qaeda the organization. If
    anything, it speaks to al-Qaeda the movement. So
    the war would still be more ideological in
    character than anything else.

    Reply

  16. samuelburke says:

    “from a social science, explanatory point of view, what we have to
    remember is that there can be a handful of al-Balawis, or there can
    be thousands or hundreds of thousands. It depends on how many
    Abu Ghraibs, Fallujahs, Lebanons and Gazas the United States
    initiates or supports to the hilt. Unjust wars and occupations
    radicalize people. The American Right wing secretly knows this, but
    likes the vicious circle it produces. Wars make profits for the
    military-industrial complex, and the resulting terrorism terrifies
    the clueless US public and helps hawks win elections, allowing
    them to pursue further wars. And so it goes, until the Republic is
    bankrupted and in ruins and its unemployed have to live in tent
    cities.”
    http://www.juancole.com/2010/01/i-just-saw-clip-on-
    aljazeera-arabic-of.html

    Reply

  17. samuelburke says:

    “The Arabic press is confirming that al-Balawi was further
    enraged by the Israeli war on poor little Gaza last winter. A
    physician, he volunteered to be part of a group that intended to
    go to Gaza to do relief work for the victims of Israel’s brutal
    targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure.”
    “The Jordanian secret police arrested al-Balawi to prevent him
    from going to Gaza. It may be that he had to agree to work for it
    as a quid pro quo to regain his freedom.
    After the vicious war on Gaza was over, and the schools and
    hospitals lay in ruin, Israel ratcheted up a siege of the small
    territory of 1.6 million persons, half of them children, denying
    them enough services, fuel and even food for a decent life. In
    some parts of Gaza, 10 percent of the children are stunted
    because of malnutrition. Israel destroyed Gaza’s airport and
    harbor and strictly controls what goes into the territory. Israel
    never says what its end game is here, and how long exactly they
    are going to keep the children of Gaza in what one Vatican
    official has called a ‘concentration camp.’
    In the past couple of weeks (though you would not know it from
    American television), two separate civilian Western aid convoys
    were mounted to relieve the Gazans via Gaza’s small
    southwestern border with Egypt (the Israelis would never have
    allowed them to do this, and the Egyptian state wasn’t happy
    either). One was supported with a hunger strike by an elderly
    Holocaust survivor. Some of those in the second were assaulted
    by the Egyptian police. British MP George Galloway was deported
    and forbidden to return to Egypt. Egypt is dragooned into
    supporting the illegal blockade of Gaza by the US on behalf of
    Israel, and is also afraid of the fundamentalist Hamas, which has
    resorted to terrorism.
    Collective punishment of a whole population, especially one still
    technically occupied, is illegal in international law.
    What is fascinating is the way al-Balawi’s grievances tie together
    the Iraq War, the ongoing Gaza atrocity, and the Western
    military presence in the Pushtun regions– the geography of the
    Bush ‘war on terror’ was inscribed on his tortured mind.”
    http://www.juancole.com/2010/01/i-just-saw-clip-on-
    aljazeera-arabic-of.html

    Reply

  18. samuelburke says:

    “Al-Balawi’s sad biography in fact ties together the whole history of
    Western, including Israeli, attacks on the Middle East. Al-Balawi’s
    family is Palestinians displaced from Beersheba by Zionist
    immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, who in 1948 ethnically
    cleansed about 700,000 Palestinians from what became Israel.
    Most Palestinians in Jordan are bitter about the loss of their homes,
    for which they never received compensation, and some still live in
    refugee camps. The British Empire and the United States supported
    this displacement of the Palestinians and to this day the US
    government often attempts to criminalize even charitable aid to the
    suffering Palestinian people.”
    http://www.juancole.com/2010/01/i-just-saw-clip-on-
    aljazeera-arabic-of.html

    Reply

  19. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    In the current international scenario the role of the non-state actors ranging from the Indo-Pak conflict syndrome, the ongoing Afghanistan-Pakistan peace combat, to the very core of the Middle eastern Arab-Israeli conflict challenges has become so much profound and intrusive that the UN’s endorsed new resolution on this very ongoing problem has become an inevitable need.

    Reply

  20. Carroll says:

    Ouch!..there are some excellent nuggets in H. Seiglmen’s ( who nadine would call a self hating jew) article at the nation.
    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100125/siegman/2
    One little nugget, according to the way I read it, is that the UN, EU and others are not going on rely on or sit back and wait and for Prez do nothingness Obama on I/P…..and might just proceed on to encourage Palestine to declare for statehood, which they and the UN would recongize.
    And…the EU says it’s refuses to recongize Israeli borders beyond the green line.
    Yea, they have hinted at this before, but maybe now that the His Highness Change has proved to be all hat and no cattle ..they just might be in that oh hell let’s just do it outselves mood.

    Reply

  21. Carroll says:

    This article at DKos is too good to miss. Warms my heart to see the dems shreding themselves.
    Pipsqueak Waxman has sent out a horrible letter against Marcy Winograd who is running against Jane Harman, the AIPAC assest,…reviling Marcy for not supporting Israel’s occupation and carnage in Palestine.
    Now Marcy is a jew whose relatives died in Germany..but not ziocaine kind of Jew that Waxman and Harman are.
    Anyway Marcy doesn’t back down on what she said about Israel and totally slaps Waxman and Harman down.
    You have to read Waxman’s letter…what a ass. What a perfect example of the ziocanined up types in congress.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/1/9/82742/72623?detail=f

    Reply

  22. Carroll says:

    We really don’t have to pick apart what Charles said… what he said is true.
    The NSA are getting smarter and more competent…and more organized.
    Only natural that they would…when you are up against an enemy with more resources than you have you get more cunning and use your brain and creative strategy. Guerrillas usually win as illustrated by General Marion, the Swamp Fox who forced the British out of SC with typical guerilla and NSA tactics.
    Unless the US is willing to turn all of guerilla land to glass the guerillas will win their objectives in the end.
    It seems also reading a prior thread, that people are overthinking as usual on the suicide bomber or killer theories…suicide is a weapon when you have no other viable weapon to use against an enemy. Fighters have used suicide killing since time began. The suicide bombers of the ME are no different in martyr complex then the Japanese dive bombers and others in history. It’s nothing new.
    Sometimes it’s done as a group…as in the US D-Day invasion….you think those guys didn’t know the odds?…that the unlucky ones would be killing themselves for cause? Get real.

    Reply

  23. Paul Norheim says:

    Perhaps. But the only thing I know for sure, is that if the bridge
    materializes, the official name will not be the Bin Laden Bridge.
    It is likely, however, that the locals on both sides will refer to
    it as the Bin Laden Bridge – unless the builders come up with a
    spectacular official name.
    What an ironic name: The Bin Laden Bridge!

    Reply

  24. JohnH says:

    Allah was not as merciful to Bush père.
    Do you suppose Bechtel and other big US engineering
    firms are looking for a piece of the action in
    building the bridge and the two cities? Establishing
    a few facts on the ground might help their case…

    Reply

  25. Paul Norheim says:

    A bridge would obviously be good for commerce – and not only for Djibouti and Yemen.
    Ethiopia lost its access to the sea when Eritrea became independent, and depends on
    Djibouti. A bridge to the Arabian peninsula may decrease the tension between the two
    countries a bit. Eritrea is 50/50 Christian and Muslim.
    These tensions have led to a proxy war between Eritrea and Ethiopia in Somalia (besides
    the direct clashes between the countries ca ten years ago, due to currency and border
    issues), with both countries supporting different factions in Somalia. This gave
    America an opportunity to support Ethiopia in it`s fight against US/Ethiopian enemies
    in Somalia from 2006-08, a war that resulted in nothing or worse for the Ethiopian/US
    alliance. The Islamists in Somalia now has the upper hand again, and even young
    American Muslims from Minneapolis and Boston are recruited to Jihadist groups in
    Somalia.
    Regional cooperation is the key for the whole Africa Horn region, on a lot of issues,
    including the water and electricity issues related to the Blue Nile, which provides
    Egypt with 86 % of the total amount of water flowing into the White Nile, from Lake
    Tana in Northern Ethiopia – in a pleasant town called Bahir Dar, BTW. (Not oil, but
    water issues may cause future wars in the region).
    As for the Yemen-Somalia “intrigue”, I have no idea. The key issue in both countries is
    a central government strong enough to provide a certain degree of security and order,
    as well as services. This is of course also highly relevant for the degree of Al Quaeda
    presence. Whatever the US is doing in Yemen right now, one can only hope that they are
    aware of this basic premise. Chaos in Somalia AND Yemen may effect both the African
    Horn, East Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula and beyond in highly unpredictable ways.
    BTW, it looks like the bin Laden family tend to think big, whatever they`re doing –
    including Osama`s and Tarek`s father.
    The fact that Osama bin Laden is not a nationalist is not surprising, when you consider
    his upbringing and background. As you know, his father Mohammed was a Yemenite who
    renovated the holiest places in Arabia, a very wealthy investor and businessman, thus
    belonging to a cosmopolitan class who regarded the whole world as his home, or – if you
    will: his “Dar es Salaam”, his “Haven of Peace” – and the source of his prosperity.
    Père and fils Bin Laden sometimes make me think about père and fils Bush. However,
    Allah was merciful, and did not want Mohammed to live long enough to witness his son
    Osama destroy the reputation of the family name.

    Reply

  26. JohnH says:

    Haven–Le Havre, Havana…
    Haven, port, home and abode or home expression the
    same ideas at the figurative level.
    Anyway, how about this piece of “trivia?” Bin
    Laden’s half brother wants to build a bridge across
    Bab el Mandab–Djibouti to Yemen–and build new
    cities at each end. Any idea how the Bin Laden
    Bridge might figure into the intrigue in Somalia and
    Yemen?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7259427.stm

    Reply

  27. Paul Norheim says:

    “Read Sea” (PN)?
    I`ve never read it. I meant the RED SEA (English); Erythra Thalassa
    (Greek), Mare Rubrum (Latin); Al-Bahr Al-Ahmar (????? ??????) (Arabic);
    Qeyyih b?hr? (Tigrinyah).

    Reply

  28. Paul Norheim says:

    John,
    Sorry for the trivia, but I may have read at that time that Dar es Salaam meant
    “Haven of Peace”?
    “The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition
    Dar-es-Salaam [Arab.,=haven of peace], city (1994 pop. 2,000,000), on a bay of
    the Indian Ocean.”
    Webster:
    “Main Entry: ha·ven
    Etymology: Middle English, from Old English hæfen; akin to Middle High German
    habene, harbor
    Date: before 12th century
    1 : harbor, port
    2 : a place of safety : refuge
    3 : a place offering favorable opportunities or conditions ”
    ————————————————–
    With other words: a “safe haven”, like Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia etc. etc…
    “Hæfen” in Old English; “habene” in Middle High German; and “havn” in modern
    Norwegian.
    Nevermind.
    Last year while on vacation in Addis Ababa, I was considering the option of
    studying a little bit of Arabic (it`s related to Amharic, a Semitic language
    which I`m slightly familiar with) sometimes in the future, in Saana, the
    capital of Yemen. It would at least be a good excuse to stay in that
    fascinating city. We`ll see how things turn out on the GWOT front…
    There is a somewhat relevant aspect behind the lines of this trivia post: the
    fact that most Westerners don`t understand the local languages, and thus cause
    unintended consequences, whatever they do in these areas. This is actualized by
    the US efforts in Yemen; it may weaken the central government and result in a
    failed state, like neighboring Somalia. That would be disastrous, both for the
    Arabian Peninsula and the African Horn. The Read Sea and the Bay of Aden may
    become as porous as the mountains at the border between Afghanistan and
    Pakistan.

    Reply

  29. questions says:

    Well, Chas Freedman really does think outside the box….
    No, indeed, killing 8 CIA operatives/contractors/analysts/back of the line people suddenly on the front line is not a state-level action. Blowing up an entire country is a state-level action.
    If the casualties wind up hugely in number, then we can start thinking about these groups as akin to state actors.
    But they don’t have states, taxation powers, the ability to raise vast armies, and the like. They don’t provide much in social services or economic benefits such that they have citizens ready to die in large numbers. They have members who have many many conflicting identities, they have money coming in but only under certain circumstances, they have an ideology but no constitution that delivers rights or property in return.
    Not really a state, not a substitute for a state, no resources of a state, no overarching competence of a state.
    My guess is that the US will respond with a lot of changes in protocol so that there are no gatherings and all double agents will be monitored for inner tripleness or whatever.
    A nation is a little harder to decapitate than this.

    Reply

  30. JohnH says:

    JamesL–Good point: “What multinational corporations
    possess the materials and expertise for nuclear
    weapons?” And aren’t they legally mandated to no
    obligation to society besides making profits?
    Doesn’t this presumably allow them to sell anything
    to anybody, as long as it makes a profit?

    Reply

  31. JamesL says:

    OA: You all still must be scared of the monsters under your bed.
    No, much more concerned about supposed national leaders in DC and the super giant egos in the financial industry. OSB is comparatively miniscule.

    Reply

  32. Outraged American says:

    Osama Bin Laden no longer exists, and when he did he was a CIA
    asset until the day of 9/11.
    We destroy the world in search of this dead guy? It appears so.
    But WW I was the result of the killing of one man, so why not? Why
    not satart WW III in search of one man” Who is dead.
    You all still must be scared of the monsters under your bed.

    Reply

  33. JamesL says:

    Agreed Paul. I think the number of global jihadists is really quite low, but is a growth industry in reponse to US actions. The conflation of that “group” with all the others is I think primarily a product of American media and political need to find a bogeyman everywhere to keep the fear stoked and lubricate the insertion of military budgets. Unlike others I think that Israel is happy to assist in this effort in any way possible.
    And we didn’t even manage to get as far as underestimating the enemy.

    Reply

  34. JohnH says:

    What does ‘dar’ mean? Not such an easy question to
    answer. The answer covers a range of related
    meanings, literal and figurative: a house, a home, a
    land, a country, an edifice, an abode. Dar-Es-Salaam
    therefore the abode of peace, heaven. Dar-Es-Salaam
    is also a traditional descriptor for Baghdad, like
    Philadelphia, City of Love, not in any ironic sense
    or Orwellian doublespeak (frankly I am surprised the
    US government hasn’t picked up on the moniker
    Baghdad–City of Peace! It would be so typical!)

    Reply

  35. Paul Norheim says:

    James,
    I don`t necessarily disagree with most of what you`re saying. However, I think we
    all (Chas Freeman included) should make some kind of distinction between
    A) the global Jihad movements (who want to establish the Umma, in a universal sense,
    and whose “safe haven” and training camps could theoretically be anywhere on the
    planet, just like their targets), and
    B) the national resistance groups and guerilla fighters (some of them occationally
    recruited from a former state, like in Iraq);
    —although these principally distinctive groups admittedly often overlap in real
    life.
    The latter have often been competent through history – from the Spanish guerillas in
    the Napoleon-wars, to the Italian and Jugoslavian partisans in World War 2, guerilla
    fighters in Vietnam etc. etc. The huge American mistake in Vietnam was that they
    ignored this crucial distinction (they thought they were basically fighting
    Communism, and not nationalists), and I think this distinction is crucial in this
    context as well.
    To make an analogy: Osama bin Laden is akin to a Trotskist fighting for permanent
    revolution and universal communism, while Mullah Omar is a religious nationalist who
    (with some hesitance) welcomed bin Laden – but Taliban`s main focus is still
    Afghanistan (just like the aim of the religious/political Hamas is to liberate
    Palestine, not Iraq or Afghanistan – and Hamas is not involved in the attempt to re-
    establish the Caliphate.

    Reply

  36. Outraged American says:

    That kid on R&R from Afghanistan is already on his way back. RIP
    Nice kid. Get us the F out of these wars.

    Reply

  37. Paul Norheim says:

    Correction: “Port of Peace” (Dar es Salaam) In that case, it`s a nice
    name for such a dusty place…

    Reply

  38. JamesL says:

    RE JohnH on non-state entities being corporations, a relevant question would not be: What nations possess the materials and expertise for nuclear weapons?
    So much as:
    What multinational corporations possess the materials and expertise for nuclear weapons?
    Because if they are multinational, their self interests have evolved beyond a single national allegiance.

    Reply

  39. Paul Norheim says:

    John,
    I`ve actually spent some time in Dar es Salaam, but especially in Zanzibar, just
    outside the coast, so I am aware of the difference. I`ve always imagined that Dar es
    Salaam means “Port of Piece” – is that correct? Or is “homeland” the only meaning of
    “Dar”?
    In my comment I referred to the bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es
    Salaam (1998 – ca one year before I visited/lived in both places). These operations
    required some sophisticated planning, just like 9/11, Madrid, and London, and were
    devastating. During my six months stay in Nairobi, the building was still in ruins. I
    assume that America built a fort outside the center of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam
    afterwards, just like they did in Kampala while I was there (and like they`re doing
    outside Oslo right now).
    I agree especially with the second paragraph of your post.
    As to the third paragraph, one should also consider the dubious status of the private
    mercenary companies (like the formerly named Blackwater), who are still heavily
    involved in the GWOT.

    Reply

  40. JamesL says:

    Paul N: “`m not convinced by this argument. Humam Al-Balawi was sophisticated and competent.
    But this is a singular example from the recent years…”
    Paul, for me it depends when you started your clock, and what you understand as “competence”. For a very few years after 2001 suicide bombers were unheard of. They then they came in small numbers in Iraq and were big news in the US, then in greater numbers in Iraq warranting less US news, then occurences in other countries, then the advent of women suicide bombers, which given Iraqi culture, was a big step. ow “suicide bomber” is just another overworked phrase. Similar progressions occurred in the use of leftover artillery shells as useful bombs, which brought IED into the lexicon. And in timing and detonation devices, which were adaptive to items at hand and featured cell phones. Ask a thousand Americans, or even Norwegians (and I hold them in the highest regard) to take apart their cell phones tonite and come back in the morning with a detonator and you won’t have much luck. But working with leftover and common components, the Iraqi anti-occupation forces, over time, have seriously impacted the abilities of the US military to control Iraq. Same for shaped charges, which were advanced by BushCo to enfeebled American news watchers as necessarily having come from Iran, when the idea is old, and both basic techniques and variants are common in the oil industry. The tiny, cheap, and mobile RPG is this generation’s bazooka which in the good old war days gave friendly foot soldier an advantage over a tank. Bugt friendlies don’t control all RPGs. And there’s communications and more. Even if one doesn’t want to hear it repeated, examples of the ability of inferior forces to impact superior forces include the American Revolution, Merril’s Marauders, Vietnam, and the Soviets in Afghanistan. They aren’t rare.
    “Competence” is another animal and does NOT mean technical equality, but rather the ability to effectively impinge on the opponents efforts. This is as simple as stealing supplies, or having a car break down at a useful time and place, or learning from your wife’s husband where a hithero unknown cache of weaponry is, or putting your computer whiz kid in touch with a local insurgent leader who needs some tech info. Competence certainly includes using donkeys to ferry rockets to the center of town, and the overall military equation certainly includes the tally of the monetary worth of the donkey against the worth of the two or three armored vehicles that responded to the donkey threat and were then whacked by three artillery shells sitting, waiting for the responders, in a nearby Honda Accord. Tactics evolve too.
    Al Balawi is significant because, even if he is one in a thousand or five thousand or more, he apparently decided his suicide would be of more use to his people than his role as a doctor (which is very sad) and now he is another martyr. If you think that’s unimportant, you need to revisit the psychological (not military) effect of Che Gueverra.
    I tend to agree with William Lind who has been harping on this for some time, for the essential reason that in an increasingly technological world, the only thing that keeps your local MacGuyver from joining the bad guys is whether that person is safe, happy, and likes you. And this last phrase is what the US military is really, really bad at.

    Reply

  41. JohnH says:

    Paul Norheim–Dar al-Islam (Muslim homelands) is
    different from Dar-Es-Salaam, which is located in
    Tanzania. But I agree with you that it’s not clear
    that the terrorists are becoming more
    sophisticated at “projecting power” outside the
    localities they know best. On their own terrain,
    it’s normal for them to experience a learning
    curve against an invader.
    And I have to respectfully disagree with Freeman
    that terrorists are all about sowing panic. If you
    look carefully at terrorist targets, most are
    strategically selected–police schools and
    stations, etc. News reports usually fail to
    mention the target, only the number of people
    killed. Occasionally they attack symbolic targets
    like the World Trade Center. If the undie bomber
    was indeed trying to sow panic, then you have to
    wonder whose cause the undie bomber was ultimately
    serving…
    On another note, when I saw the headline, I was
    wondering if Freeman’s “non-state actors” might
    not be multinational corporations and financial
    institutions. If not, why not? They are
    unquestionably major competitors to government
    authority in many parts of the world.

    Reply

  42. Paul Norheim says:

    “Those involved in the struggle to “defend their faith and its homelands” against
    “the Crusaders and Jews” are getting much cleverer, more competent, more
    sophisticated, more united, more diverse, and able to operate more effectively on a
    global scale and over longer time frames. (Chas Freeman)”
    I`m not convinced by this argument. Humam Al-Balawi was sophisticated and competent.
    But this is a singular example from the recent years.
    The Dar Es Salaam and Nariobi Embassy attack was rather sophisticated – but not 100 %
    competent. 9/11, Madrid and the London 2005 explosion were sophisticated and
    competent. But the underwear bomber (2009) was`t more sophisticated than the shoe
    bomber (2002?).
    This particular event does not prove that non state actors (the global, loosely
    connected network of militant Islamists) “are beginning to compete in competence with
    states”.

    Reply

  43. Carroll says:

    You tell them Charles.
    We made it now we have to eat it.
    BTW… I am going to keep inserting this…..>>>
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-177.html
    Cato Policy Analysis No. 177 August 27, 1992
    The “Green Peril”:
    Creating the Islamic Fundamentalist Threat
    ..for those who want to validate their observations of the GWOT events..and for those who don’t have a clue how this pot of stew was made.

    Reply

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