Monday, April 19, 2004

Mainstreet Iraq 3

Reader DL links to an article at the Naval Institute (publisher of Proceedings) by Captain Peter Layton of the Royal Australian Air Force. Entitled The New Arab Way of War, the article describes a parasitic method of warfare raised to an art. 

The new Arab approach to conflict is an adaptation of the revolutionary warfare of the second half of the 20th century. Assassins using this new way of war now swim among the populations of the world. With cheap, unrestricted global air travel provided by Western technology, they can deploy wherever they wish; there are no front lines or safe rear areas. The assassins make effective use of liberal immigration policies that have permitted large numbers of Middle Eastern migrants to settle in the West. Small numbers of fellow travelers and sympathizers are distributed throughout Western nations, able to be activated to provide local support, protection, and knowledge for deploying assassins. Their command-and-control system relies on commercial communications systems and business application cryptography. This makes their control system strong, redundant, secure, and global and the assassins hard to detect, track, and target. They do not rely on their own technology even for weapons, instead using in situ civilian, commercial equipment for attack.

The new Arab way of war is parasitic. Local supporters acquire weapons and explosives, provide safe houses, arrange transportation, and steal or hire vehicles. Assassins fly in, carry out attacks, and fly out quickly, avoiding arrest. Relying completely on local sources, they can strike deep into the Western heartlands, mimicking the strategic air attacks characteristic of the West.

To those who are concerned about the 'Vietnamization' of Iraq should understand that these methods of attack, the generalized avoidance of state responsibility and the deliberate targeting of civilians are not only characteristic, but the core of this mode of Islamic warfare; that were we not there it would be here and if the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will come to the mountain.

Intentionally, there is no obvious state involvement. In his attack, the assassin dies or melts into the crowd, providing no proof of who is responsible. This tactic is meant to confuse and frustrate a legally justifiable response, as the Western paradigm based on the 1648 Peace of Westphalia assumes a state-versus-state conflict. Avoiding giving the West a defined, obvious state opponent is a rational strategy peculiar to the Arab way of war.

The Arab combat style imposes small financial burden on its parent societies, allowing long and protracted wars without inflicting economic hardship. Employing only small numbers of personnel with few needs, wars can be financed privately and seemingly remain independent of overt government support. Such entrepreneurs can be hard to trace and impossible to stop.

A major innovation of the Arab way of war is the deliberate targeting of civilians. The assassins' rhetoric makes no distinction between civilian and military targets. Attacking civilians guarantees global attention as the media, reflecting global values, has a horror of the infliction of cruelty on noncombatants. Attacking civilians is perceived by the assassins as the most direct route to influence global opinion and to affect the national will of the nations struck. Attacks usually are conducted with considerable skill, timing, expertise, and precision but are designed to kill absolutely indiscriminately. Given this, the strategic aim of attacks is hard to discern. Violence customarily is conceived as a means to an end, but the essence in this style of war seems to be inflicting terror. Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik notes: "Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose on him."

Captain Layton concludes that the enemy is nevertheless vulnerable to a combination of military, cultural and political warfare. As Dr. Condoleeza Rice emphasized in her testimony before the 9/11 commission, the war cannot be won by narrow police methods. Only an application of all the elements of national power will suffice. Layton continues:

The assassins inevitably are from the middle class, with their commanders among the more wealthy members of the country. The middle and wealthy classes have great power in their own societies at the local level, and more real influence with the masses than their usually despotic governments. If the majority of the middle and wealthy classes determined to no longer directly or indirectly support the Arab style of conflict, this would have a significant impact. Without an active support base, and with the possibility of their activities being compromised at any time, assassins' freedom of action would be curtailed severely.

An intense, relentless psychological campaign could be undertaken targeting the middle and wealthy classes of the Middle Eastern nations involved. Mass-marketing methods may offer insight into how to apply long-term, focused psychological pressure. The aim of such a campaign would be to make each individual perceive being held personally responsible and targeted for his or her support of the Arab way of war. The proud, strongly religious societies of the Middle East may be vulnerable to considerable self-doubt about the moral bankruptcy of their actions and their pronounced ethical decline compared to the remainder of the world. This effort would complement the other measures of defense and containment already being undertaken. Consideration also could be given to applying economic pressure, restrictions, and constraints, such as those used against South Africa during the apartheid years.

America is potentially the most powerful media power on earth but it is not at war in Iraq, except with itself. The real tragedy in Iraq is not so much that men die but that we as a society have left them to die without even naming those with whom we are at war. This, from CNN:

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- The body of a Spanish police officer who was killed in a raid on suspected Islamic terrorists was removed from its tomb Sunday night, dragged across a cemetery, doused with gasoline and burned, a Spanish police official told CNN. Police do not know who committed the crime, and an investigation is under way.