This is the best international news I've heard all year. Turkeys descent into crazy was particularly disturbing for a couple of reasons. Turkey is in NATO. Furthermore, the ascent of islamism in a nation that had made great strides by embracing disestablishmentarianism and secularism in government was a grim barometer of the mood of the people in that part of the world.
That response is tied to something that I've blogged about in association with matters of far less importance before, I've been working on another post on the topic for months but its so damned depressing to me that it still festers in draft form. Fortunately, Ace has nailed it: You really should read the whole thing, but here is a particularly important excerpt:
This is about, specifically, the careerist, cowardly, go-along-to-get-along mores of the Upper Middle Class, the class of people whose parents were all college educated, and of course are college educated themselves; the class that dominates our thought-transmitting institutions (because non-college educated people are more of less shut out of this industry).
It is a class which is deathly afraid of social stigma, and lives in class-based fear being grouped with the wrong people, and which is more interested in Career, quite frankly, than in the actual tradecraft of that Career, which is clarity of thought and clarity of expression.
That is the bit that is getting quoted everywhere and I DO think it is making an exceedingly important point about the larger issue facing society.
The idea of a 'problem class' is on the face of it is pretty obnoxious. However, the upper middle class is an important barometer of a societies' health. This is the group that in other times were often minor nobility and they produce the bulk of a nation's great thinkers and innovators when a society is healthy.
When societies are not though, this demographic also produces about 100% of the Robspierres, Ches, Maos and disappointed Austrian painters. The herd dynamics ACE is referring to are at the core of a whole host of societal ills right now, the most troubling being the inability of so many people to stand up for anything like classically liberal principals....which is where ACE gets down to brass tacks..
One does not "support" someone's right to free speech by name-calling them and advertising how far one believes they fall outside the smug Upper Middle Class (leftist-dominated) Consensus.
One supports free speech by supporting those who speak freely.
I am so disgusted by how so many alleged thinkers seem to care more about social positioning than actual thought.
I should not advertise any hostility I may have towards Ms. Gellar to prove I'm "among the acceptable ones."
I have little to add except for this....One of the more worrisome arguments I've heard concerning political correctness recently is the idea that "...as long as the GOVERNMENT isn't shutting people up, then it isn't censorship...So kindly shut up" That argument may be technically true and indeed government enforcement of such things is a bigger evil. Its also pretty hard to pass constitutional muster in this country which is why we have these examples of things that are not technically censorship.
Well, That Was One Heck of a Speech.
Netanyahu knocked it out of the park, laying out all the myriad reasons why the proposed deal is of such concern to so many. However, it seems unlikely to change many, if any minds amongst those in power whose minds are made up.
...There are stories of even greater import than the fact that it is snowing in parts of North America in February.
This piece in the Atlantic has been widely linked to and deservedly so. I strongly urge you to read the whole thing. It gives one of the best overviews on the motivations of ISIS. It also explains in layman's terms the rationale behind what to those of us on the outside seems to be bizarre and frankly crazy behavior. They are not crazy. They are completely rational and logical given the premises they operate from. Nor are they ignorant as the group is led mostly by highly literate eschatologists who are, like many of the greatest monsters of all time convinced that they are going to make the world a better place and bring about heaven on earth. This is hard for people to get their heads around because it is simply so alien. They genuinely consider themselves to be virtuous. This is really beyond our modern experience, save possibly for the NAZIs, though even they were sufficiently uncomfortable with their atrocities that they tried to conceal them rather than using them as recruiting tools. The piece defies excerpting and you really should read the whole thing, but if you absolutely must get the Cliff's notes version or simply want to review the piece in bullet point format, Suburban Banshee has got your back. Take particular note of point #1.
In other news, it seems that ISIS is even more active in North Africa than previously supposed, having secured territory in the festering hell-hole formerly known as Libya, where they demonstrated their ability to operate with impunity by beheading 30 Egyptian Christians in the open on the beach, in broad daylight. In addition to a display of confidence the location choice is sending another message as well. It would appear that the ISIS "Barqa Province" in Africa consists of two coastal enclaves the smaller of which includes the city of Derna, an austere seaport, with a depth of only 15 feet, but it is a rail hub and has the logistical benefits that ports have.
Perhaps more worrying in some ways is the fact that the ISIS takeover of Derna is not exactly breaking news. It happened in August of last year . AFD did an in depth post on that unhappy development at the time. It makes for sobering reading.
Hifter’s personal army and the Libyan military, as I noted in my earlier post, are being more or less crushed in Benghazi, representing eighty percent of all deaths (military, Islamist, and civilians) in Benghazi from mid-October to mid-November alone.
Hifter/ Haftar is a Libyan general leading an anti-islamist coalition.
This map is from Wikipedia and may be outdated, but it gives some idea of the mess that Libya has become. ISIS controlled areas are black and mainly cities, the grey areas are controlled by Ansar-El-Sharia, which is reportedly allied closely with ISIS (and given the eschatological underpinnings of ISIS, may be only nominally separate).
Do note that Derna, in addition to being a railway hub and small port has some disadvantages, should we as a nation, ever rediscover our resolve. Being on the coast it is inherently susceptible to an amphibious assault, and I'm sure that the USMC would not mind to revisit the place.
I have a problem with this idea that ISIS are not crazy. They are functionally incapable of dealing with reality, because they have uncritically adopted nonsensical premises. They want to bring about the apocalypse, but there's no such thing.
Jordan and Egypt are doing the only appropriate thing when dealing with people like that: If they disagree with you so deeply about the nature of reality that their goal is to remove you and everyone else from it, you have to remove them first.
And while they thrive in chaos, they have no chance at all in the face of any modern army with intelligence and air support. Plus, it looks like their inherent structure is such that as soon as they start suffering setbacks, they'll fall upon themselves and eat one another.
Together with the fact that everyone in the region hates them and their plan to retake Constantinople (!), that doesn't bode well for their long-term existence.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thu Feb 19 01:37:16 2015 (2yngH)
They thrive on chaos and denial, but you are right about their chances in a stand up fight. This same group was curb-stomped by the US and Commonwealth forces and driven far underground until we pulled out. The problem is that they are growing with great speed and are an idea as much as an army. I'm doubtful that these guys would not get curb stomped again, but if they are given time to metastisize much more, the cure could be debillitating for the west, especially if Russia, and/or China decide to move when these asshats are providing a distraction.
The good news is that it's inherently a crab bucket. Plus they've brought along a whole bunch of people who like to argue the correct interpretation of doctrine, and have no inherent problem with killing each other off if they think the other guy is incorrect. Plus newbies, many of whom seem to be equal parts professional Internet trolls and professional terrorists.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Thu Feb 19 23:08:41 2015 (ZJVQ5)
So the Jordanians and Egyptians are dropping live munitions on internet trolls?
Best. War. Ever.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Fri Feb 20 01:31:11 2015 (PiXy!)
Well, yes, I do have to admit a bit of schadenfreude from watching the Jawa Report's lists of Jihadi troll casualties.
In other news, apparently Jihad Watch has plenty of documentation that Libyan jihad groups want to be ISIS' little invasion of Italy, so maybe they really do want to go after Rome. I had wondered why they were interviewing the new Swiss Guard commander about whether they were ready for threats from ISIS. (And of course his answer was yes. It's not all halberds and freaky period uniforms over there.)
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at Sun Feb 22 00:20:57 2015 (ZJVQ5)
But being poked to death by a fellow in pantaloons would be epic ignominy.
Via Instapundit, this article is rather hard to read without putting down the keyboard and crawling under the bed.
It seems that ISIS has made some progress in governing their state. They have established a comprehensive and rapidly expanding a program of universal and compulsory education.
Specifically, after killing all the teachers, they are sending the kids to religious and military indoctrination camps. Kids to young or not yet ready to fight are transported with assault forces and serve in rear echelon as blood donors.
There is more here, and bit of that is touched on in this video from Vice, which, while not really graphic is nevertheless high octane nightmare fuel.
On the other hand, I was not aware that Turkey had turned off the Euphrates.
In the 1300s the Muslims created the Jannissaries; children abducted from non moselem families on raids who were trained using Spartan methods to be shock troops that would not only have great combat prowess, but give their enemies pause due to the fear that they might be fighting their own relatives. These are no such elite force but they are a dreadful problem that is likely to linger rather unpleasantly, and will be both worse and more persistent the longer we allow these vile groups to fester .
This began as the 21st century. In some ways it is looking more like the 12th.
I worry that this situation is inherently unstable. Like other abhorrent forms of warfare that ended up practiced by one side in a conflict, it may only be a matter of time before we too embrace the idea of war between non-state parties. And as was done with unrestricted submarine warfare, as was done with bombing of civilians in cities, when we pick up these tools we work a fearful slaughter.
The Janissaries were merely the Ottoman variant on the centuries-old Muslim practice of marmluk employment, which, as you can see from that link, goes back to the late 9th century. It was aimed internally, rather than externally, and the fact that it saw its hey-day after the expansionist years says a lot about the priorities of the rulers of the dar-es-salaam. Basically, the Muslim warriors, absent a reliable source of external plunder in the form of jihad, had very little loyalty to the heads of state, and their primary sentiments were aligned with tribal loyalties. They made terrible supports for the tyrants of the Muslim world, who were absolutists and thus wanted absolutely loyal troops. Slaves without any of the rights and privileges of freeborn Muslim men, and no tie to existing tribal or community power-centers was exactly what the Emir ordered. You couldn't enslave a Muslim, so importing pagans and kidnapping Christians to be battle-slaves was the solution.
Posted by: Mitch H. at Mon Feb 9 18:03:25 2015 (jwKxK)
....It Gets Worse
A quick addendum to all the unbridled joy in this recent post. It appears that the new Saudi King may have a few additional ...issues.
King Salman, Saudi Arabia’s newly crowned monarch, has a controversial history of helping to fund radical terror groups and has maintained ties with several anti-Semitic Muslim clerics known for advocating radical positions,
Words are failing me at the moment, so I'll let this young lady provide commentary on the matter.
As I type this, the news is abuzz with a story that has sufficiently severe ramifications that it has finally galvanized the nation into focusing on current events.
However, we here at Brickmuppet Blog have nothing to add to the high-stakes investigation into under-inflated footballs.
Instead, we find our attention drawn to events in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf, where the government of Yemen, until a US ally in the fight against Al-Quaeda has collapsed and the nations capital has been overrun by a group calling itself the Houthis. The State Department had this to say...
"The Houthis are a legitimate political constituency in Yemen and have a right to participate in affairs of the state. We urge them to be a part of a peaceful transition process," Psaki said.
This does not sound terrible on the face of it and reports indicate that the Houthis , being affiliated with a Shia sect, are violently opposed to AQIAP, the same Al-Quaeda affiliate that we've been fighting in Yemen. This encouraging bit of information was somewhat tempered by actually doing a cursory web search to discover who they are and who these Houthis are affiliated with. To our considerable surprise and dismay, the list did not contain any Blowfish at all, but rather organizations such as Hezzbolah, Iran and Syria. The groups ideology consists of Anti-Americanism, Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism and just to clarify things their slogan (which has been loudly chanted of late ) is "Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory to Islam". This seems at first glance like a rather more sub-optimal development than the White House is letting on. With this group of raving crazies facing Al-Quaeda, the best option would seem to be to stand back and hope they both loose,. Unfortunately the situation is more complicated due to the long suffering nation's geography.
Yemen borders Saudi Arabia, and borders or is close to the Gulf States who control vast amounts of the worlds oil. While that is not as important as it once was, these states, while being human rights hell holes that, amongst other things, practice slavery are opposed to both Al-Quaeda and Iran. The fall of Yemen puts these countries between Iran, Yemen, which has just become an Iranian client state, and the expanding abattoir that is ISIS. Al-Quaeda continues to operate in the region sowing further discord.
Now one will note that ISIS (and Al-Quaeda), being Sunni and Iran's coalition being Shia are unlikely to coordinate their efforts in any meaningful way as they hate each other with a passion, but they both crave control of the vast oil reserves of the Arabian peninsula and in particular the theological legitimacy that Mecca and Medina could bestow upon the group that controls the birthplaces of Islam. If Saudi Arabia...or just Mecca, Medina or both fall to one of these groups, then it will be a huge propaganda victory and recruitment tool and perhaps a deciding factor in the 1200+ year old war between these two islamic sects. Control of the region's oil will force states like China to legitimize them, and sale of the oil will give them the capital to fund much mischief. All three groups are dedicated to Israel's destruction and expansion of the House of Islam into what they call The House of War via unconventional warfare.
In other words, this is bad.
It gets worse...
The King of Saudi Arabia just died. This throws Saudi Arabia into a state of flux just as all this compost is hitting the fan. The late King had actually made baby steps toward reform, allowing women to have ID cards and conduct financial transactions, and was an opponent of Islamic terrorism, however many in the Saudi royal family are staunch supporters of Al-Quaeda. Fortunately, the succession seems to have gone smoothy for now...
But, it gets worse....
There are reports that, due to its perilous situation and the near certainty of arch enemy Iran obtaining nukes, Saudi Arabia (which financed much of Pakistan's nuclear research) has called in their favor and has obtained or have on retainer a number of atomic weapons from Pakistan. These weapons are as much of a prize to the area's extremists as anything, and if the reports of their being in Saudi hands are not apocryphal, then, given the threats arrayed against the Saudis we could see nuclear weapons used in anger.
It gets worse...
The large number of Saudi aristocrats with extremist tendencies is going to require considerable competence and vigilance to keep those weapons out of unwanted hands even if the nation is overrun.
Focus on current events is understandably directed towards Europe and Jihadism at the moment, where MI-5 is reporting that...
Parker said British security authorities had "stopped three UK terrorist plots” in recent months but added that "we still face complex and ambitious plots” by extremists who want to "cause large scale loss of life” by targeting transport networks and iconic landmarks.
If that is worrisome, then this 2006 article in Der Spiegelis high octane nightmare fuel. It's a review of a book by a Jordanian journalist named Fouad Hussein who had considerable contact while in Prison with Al Zarquawi and was able to interview others associated with AlQuaeda. He says AlQaeda has a 7 point plan for world conquest and even has tentative dates for the completion of each phase.
Since the article was written in 2006, surely we can laugh at the comically wrong predictions...right?
The First Phase Known as "the awakening" -- this has already been carried out and was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby "awakening" Muslims. "The first phase was judged by the strategists and masterminds behind al-Qaida as very successful," writes Hussein. "The battle field was opened up and the Americans and their allies became a closer and easier target." The terrorist network is also reported as being satisfied that its message can now be heard "everywhere."
The Second Phase "Opening Eyes" is, according to Hussein's definition, the period we are now in and should last until 2006. Hussein says the terrorists hope to make the western conspiracy aware of the "Islamic community." Hussein believes this is a phase in which al-Qaida wants an organization to develop into a movement. The network is banking on recruiting young men during this period. Iraq should become the center for all global operations, with an "army" set up there and bases established in other Arabic states.
The Third Phase This is described as "Arising and Standing Up" and should last from 2007 to 2010. "There will be a focus on Syria," prophesies Hussein, based on what his sources told him. The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and -- even more explosive -- in Israel are predicted. Al-Qaida's masterminds hope that attacks on Israel will help the terrorist group become a recognized organization. The author also believes that countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger.
The Fourth Phase Between 2010 and 2013, Hussein writes that al-Qaida will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments. The estimate is that "the creeping loss of the regimes' power will lead to a steady growth in strength within al-Qaida." At the same time attacks will be carried out against oil suppliers and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism.
The Fifth Phase This will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. The plan is that by this time, between 2013 and 2016, Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al-Qaida hopes that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.
The Sixth Phase Hussein believes that from 2016 onwards there will a period of "total confrontation." As soon as the caliphate has been declared the "Islamic army" it will instigate the "fight between the believers and the non-believers" which has so often been predicted by Osama bin Laden.
The Seventh Phase This final stage is described as "definitive victory." Hussein writes that in the terrorists' eyes, because the rest of the world will be so beaten down by the "one-and-a-half billion Muslims," the caliphate will undoubtedly succeed. This phase should be completed by 2020, although the war shouldn't last longer than
OK the rather large transition from step six to seven seems a tad dubious to be sure, but steps 3, 4 and 5...wow. It also lends credence to the notion that a big putsch may be coming on the jihadi front in the near future.
One interesting import of Ukraine upon Russian politics was a big loss of support for pro-democracy parties. While everyone in America was peddling the narrative of Putin's aggression, Russians quicky figured that if not for the revolution, the country would not collapse so badly (well, it was crashing before, like Greece, but at least it wasn't a civil war). The public sentiment quickly turned to "okay, our corrupt government sucks, but a revolution is much worse".
Yep. 20,000 square kilometres, 20,000 cattle. And 20 people.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tue Jan 13 19:20:13 2015 (PiXy!)
Australian farming and ranching is the one thing that makes Texas farming and ranching turn it's head and mumble quietly. It's awkward telling someone stories of the hardships of rural life in Texas and then have the Australian show up with everything 10 degrees hotter, 10 times bigger, 2 inches dryer, and twice as deadly.
Posted by: Ben at Wed Jan 14 13:13:20 2015 (S4UJw)
Yeah, well, they have their own bleedin' continent. How do you compete with that?
Had I been aware of them before today I would have (likely as not) had a generally dim view of them as they put out a left wing atheist publication that presumably had nothing but contempt for people like myself.
However, they did stridently stand by one of the bedrock principles upon which a free society is based, namely that no one has a right not to be offended. They published satire mocking those things that they did not believe in, as is the right of free people everywhere. They were threatened, and yet refused to cease because they understood that to yield to such threats would be a betrayal of their readers, a compromise of their principles and a submission to the bullies veto...which only emboldens and encourages the bullies.
This was especially gutsy in France, where a large unassimilated minority has become increasingly violent in recent years.
As I type this, the terrorists are still at large, which is an even more terrifying development as it indicates a truly remarkable degree of training and planning as well as the distinct possibility of a considerable support network. France is on its highest alert level for good reason.
The proprietors of this tiny boutique magazine are with us no more, but they carried on a proud French tradition going back to Voltaire. They continue to be an example, not only of individuals willing to stand on principle in a civilized way, but also of what is at stake with regards to freedom itself. In this all civilized peoples should all find common ground.
Given that he was in Australia under refugee status, and given the letters and association with assaults, why wasn't his refugee status revoked once he started giving off jihadi vibes years ago?
This is not a criticism of the Aussies per se, Lord knows we in the USA drop the ball as badly or worse on these things, but it would seem, moving forward, to be a good practice to give this sort of thing a bit better scrutiny, wherever it may come up.
Suddenly Last Month's Craziness Makes All Too Much Sense
On September 19, Information Dissemination reported on a bizarre attack by Al Qaeda affiliate AQIS that seemed to be an attempt to seize a Pakistani Warship. The stated intent was to use PNS Zulfiquarto launch an attack on the US Navy.
PNS Aslat, which was also an Al Qaeda target.
Robert Farley has a run-down of how unlikely ( but not impossible) a scenario this would have been. Note though that the attack was carried out with the assistance of several Pakistani Navy officers, so if they had, in fact gotten control of the vessel, the corsairs could, have conceivably done some mischief in the very, very brief window before the ship would have been sunk. "Mischief" might not even involve leaving harbor (or even the pier) if the general vicinity of a target was already known. The C-102 missiles the ship is armed with have a range of up to 500 kilometers depending on version. The Long War Journal has an account of the incident including info from a press release by AQIS and it is claimed that the operation was much more elaborate and involved a large number of Jihadis in uniform. One aspect of the attack was to have crewmen loyal to Al Qaeda take over the ship's main gun and fire rounds at USNS Supply which was scheduled to be doing refueling drills with Zulfiquar.
While the 3 inch gun would be unlikely to sink the big ship, fires and explosions on a combination Tanker/ Ammunition ship have great potential to get out of hand. The fact that USNS Supply is one of only 4 of the big AOEs left would have made any damage to the ship a severe blow to the Navy's ability to supply ships on far flung stations.
This is quite disturbing of course, but the large number of double agents involved is even more troubling.
Tactical weapons are, by necessity, deployed with the military forces, so the chances of them falling into jihadist hands is much greater. To get some idea of what these can do we'll look again to the well photographed shot of 'Atomic Annie' popping off a 15 kiloton W-9 shell.
Note the size of the weapon, 55 inches long 11 inches wide and 850 pounds. The later W-19 round for the same gun was only 600 pounds and had a slightly higher yield. This is not a particularly powerful nuke, but I'm being conservative in estimating what the Pakistani's are capable of. More disturbing; the size of the weapon is such that it could easily be smuggled into a city, and while the blast damage of such a weapon would be limited compared to a strategic nuke detonated at altitude, the fallout from a ground burst would be horrific.
The prospect of a terrorist nuclear attack, is as great as ever, so it's probably a good idea to look into how to prepare for modest sized ground bursts. RAND has a paper on that, available in PDF format here.
OK. The Speech
It was not actually an egregiously bad speech.
However, I was somewhat perplexed that he wants to use Yemen and Somalia as templates for action against ISIS. Both countries are nightmarish Hobbesian jihadi generators and Somalia is not so much a country as a no-mans land. I suppose that recent successes in killing terrorist leaders there was the point, but neither country has any hope right now of being free of the jihadists in the foreseeable future. I'm a little concerned with the notion of arming "vetted" insurgents in Syria. Our vetting of insurgents has been singularly unimpressive historically, and over the last 5 years in particular.
It is good that he recognizes the threat, but the proposed actions seems to risk making the same error as Rumsfield's "light footprint" model did. However, close air support and giving those who are fighting against ISIS weapons might have a better than even chance of working in this case. I suspect that ISIS is not adept at winning hearts and minds. If their religious appeal is such that they are, then this is a far greater problem than even the most concerned analysts have supposed.
I do note that Bush, who already had what some describe as a troublingly broad Authorization of Military Force giving him legal justification, still felt the need to go before the Congress to get approval for going into Iraq. This president does not and I await with bated breath to hear the intense indignation at this factoid from those who considered Bush's actions to be beyond the pale.
One last criticism.
We currently have over 1300 troops in Iraq. Can we PLEASE issue them some boots? Fighting in Birkenstocks cannot be good for morale.
Finally it should be noted that this is one of the most grave decisions a President can be faced with. While there are legitimate criticisms galore regards the decisions that led us here and the manner in which they were relayed, it is not necessarily a dreadful thing that after previous debacles the president has been very deliberative in coming to this conclusion. War is sometimes necessary, but it is always a wretched enterprise. That the President has sought to avoid this may not have been wise, but it should not elicit contempt.
I am no fan of the policies of this President, but I ask that people of faith keep him in their prayers this evening.