Thursday, September 30, 2004

Back to the Future

Just some quick thoughts on Andrew Sullivan's belief that Iraq is now the new Algeria. He says in the "Daily Dish" that:

The reason I believe things are dire in Iraq is pretty simple. The evidence is accumulating that the insurgency -- fostered by Baathist thugs, al Qaeda murderers, and other Jihadists - is gaining traction. That would be a manageable problem if the population despised them and saw a way through to a better society. But the disorder and mayhem continues to delegitimize the Iraqi government and, by inference, the coalition occupation. ... And once the general population turns against an occupying power, then things get really ... Algerian. The key moment was probably when George W. Bush blinked in Fallujah. That was when the general population inferred that we were not prepared to win. It's amazing, really. This president has a reputation for toughness and resolution. Yet at arguably the most critical moment in this war, he gave in. He was for taking Fallujah before he was against it. I cannot believe the situation is beyond rescue. But this president's policies have made it much much more difficult than it might have been.

During the April, 2004 fighting three things were critically different from today. There was the threat in April of a combined Sunni-Shi'ite uprising. The fear was that hitting Fallujah would stoke a Shi'ite insurgency. Since the Sunnis were considered secondary Fallujah was spared. This is not to justify the decision, but simply to point out the considerations at the time. Today, data provided the Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group Inc (used by the New York Times to argue that fighting is spreading in Iraq) seems to show that the Shi'ite insurgency is a spent force, the result of a military campaign against Sadr which culminated in August, 2004 combined with efforts to isolate Sadr politically. There were seven attacks in an Najaf province out of a total of 2,429 in the month studied.

Second, there were only 5,000 "trained" men in the Iraqi Army in April 2004. Today the numbers are moving towards and past 70,000. A link to General Sharp's briefing on September 20 has many of the details of the state of training and increased numbers. What is strategically different about the Sunni strongholds today is not only the loss of allied Shi'ite insurgent support but the growing availability of Iraqi troops to crush them. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers said in an interview today that Coalition forces are planning a 'solution' to the Sunni lawlessness in conjunction with the Iraqi government. To the legitimate question of 'why only now?' one can reply 'because there were no Iraqi forces then' -- barely a year after the fighting and on the heels of the capture of the principal Ba'athists. Fallujah could have been taken in an all-American assault and be occupied to this day by an all-American force; but rightly or wrongly, the President chose not to.

This brings us to the third and often ignored point. There was no interim Iraqi government in April, 2004. There is one today. It's establishment was decried as premature by everyone on the other side of the droit and practically over the dead body of Kofi Annan. Even today, as Mark Steyn points out, the press can hardly bring themselves to ask Iyad Allawi a question, as if he didn't exist. Describing a press conference in the Rose Garden at which both Allawi and Bush were present, Steyn writes:

On Thursday, President Bush held a press conference at the Rose Garden with Mr. Allawi. You know how these things go. The Norwegian Prime Minister happens to be visiting Washington and they hold a joint press conference and Norwegian issues aren't terribly pressing at the moment so the press guys ask Mr. Bush about prescription drug plans for seniors and increased education funding while the visitor from Oslo stands there like a wallflower at the prom. But Iraq is the No. 1 issue in American right now, and they've got the go-to guy right in front of them, and what do the blowdried poseurs of the networks ask? ... They're 6 feet from Iraq's head of government and they have no question for him.

So perhaps it really isn't important whether "disorder and mayhem continues to delegitimize the Iraqi government"; or that Sadr is gone or a new Iraqi army is building. After all, these are events in a future that never should have happened, because according to a certain point of view, the Iraq operation should never have occurred. No matter: according to that point of view it will fail. At least, that is what Saddam and Sadr told themselves and what Zarqawi is telling himself now.

The Candyman

Forty one people, 34 of them children, died when a group of people watching the opening of a new Baghdad sewage facility were hit by three car bombs. Reuters reports:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Insurgents detonated three car bombs near a U.S. military convoy in Baghdad Thursday, killing 41 people, 34 of them children, and wounding scores. In two other attacks, a suicide bomber blew up his vehicle near a U.S. checkpoint outside the capital, killing two policemen and a U.S. soldier, and a car bomb killed four people in the restive northern Iraq town of Tal Afar. The Baghdad blasts coincided with crowds gathering to celebrate the opening of a new sewage plant. 

But Reuters couldn't resist adding, "It was not clear if the event or a U.S. convoy passing nearby was the target." to remind the readers that the 'resistance' may have meant well. In the very next line Reuters continues, "The first explosion was followed by two more that struck those who rushed to the aid of the initial victims." It was a crowd that predominantly consisted of children. An amazing performance of journalistic even-handedness from an organization whose web page declares:

As part of a long-standing policy to avoid the use of emotive words, we do not use terms like 'terrorist' and 'freedom fighter' unless they are in a direct quote or are otherwise attributable to a third party. We do not characterize the subjects of news stories but instead report their actions, identity and background so that readers can make their own decisions based on the facts. 

Critics have long criticized the American 'failure' to upgrade sewage facilities in the capital as one of the root causes of discontent. Guilty of neglect by Roto-rooter. And Americans were guilty of the crime of handing out candy to kids at the opening ceremony. The Associated Press headline is Rebel bombing kills 35 Iraqi kids; attracted by U.S. troops handing out candy

"The Americans called us, they told us, 'Come here, come here,' asking us if we wanted sweets," said 12-year-old Abdel Rahman Dawoud, lying naked in a hospital bed with shrapnel embedded all over his body. "We went beside them, then a car exploded."

Hence the casual reader may be forgiven for subconsciously assuming that Americans were substantively guilty for the carnage itself. After all, if Americans weren't in Iraq, if they weren't on the planet, none of this would have happened. But there is another possibility. A New York Times article quoting a private security group's data shows that 41% of all terror attacks in Iraq take place in 0.17% of the country -- a thousand attacks concentrated in 734 square kilometers of Baghdad -- attacks which have almost no military value -- only a propaganda one. It is imperative from the terrorist point of view that their depredations take place, not in the unwitnessed wastes of the Western desert, but before a global audience. The Associated Press may have been right about the candy and wrong about the candyman.

Police Action

The Strategy Page describes an alien culture familiar to aliens. What may be war to Americans in Anbar may be normal from another point of view.

Kidnapping has been a major problem in Iraq for decades. Saddam Hussein and his thugs used it as a way to control the population. ... In addition, there were dozens of criminal gangs that were allowed, within limits, to operate as long as they did Saddam’s dirty work. ... These criminal organizations are found all over Iraq. ... In most of Iraq, the gangs are restrained by tribal militias or local police forces that can match them in firepower and violence. But in some Sunni Arab areas, the gangs rule. The Sunni Arab city of Fallujah is the most extreme example of this, a place without police or strong local tribal authority, which allows al Qaeda (a terrorist gang) to operate freely.

In a way, the Iraqi situation should have been anticipated by any diplomat who spent time dealing with the Palestinian Authority. Daniel Pipes quotes a now-dead Reuters link to a story which describes the normal processes of  "Palestinian government" in Nablus.

Some of the dead fell in feuds over flourishing rackets in stolen cars, drugs and extortion. Some were "collaborators" said to have steered Israeli forces toward wanted militants in the city of 150,000, the historical hub of Palestinian nationalism.  … Distinctions between nationalist militant and criminal gang activities have blurred as Fatah has splintered into armed groups, many spun off from Palestinian security services disabled by Israeli offensives in the West Bank. A regional Fatah official who asked not to be named said 90 percent of gang lawlessness could be traced to people still on a Palestinian Authority payroll.

But the working National Public Radio link on the Pipes site showed that if the West Bank was bad, the Gaza Strip was no better.

National security does not really exist in [Gaza], because the authority is not really in charge of the order of the law here. There is a big increase in the level of the crimes like killing and stealing and raping and kidnapping. I would say that the Palestinian Authority is also in trouble with the Palestinian people because of such incidents, because many people are being killed or kidnapped or robbed, you know, and we all are asking for security.

The Washington Post delivers this judgment on the state of the Palestinian Authority everywhere.

Three years and five months after Palestinians began their second uprising against Israel, the Palestinian Authority is broke, politically fractured, riddled with corruption, unable to provide security for its own people and seemingly unwilling to crack down on terrorist attacks against Israel, according to Palestinian, Israeli and international officials. The turmoil within the Palestinian Authority is fueling concern that the agency -- created almost 10 years ago to govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- is disintegrating and could collapse, leaving a political and security vacuum in one of the Middle East's most volatile regions, many of those officials said.

The relationship of Islamic terrorism to criminal activity goes beyond Iraq and the Palestinian areas. Recently the Washington Times featured a story entitled Al Qaeda seeks ties to local gangs which described its efforts to team up with Central American people-smuggling syndicates. No form of illegal activity, however heinous is haram to those with a mission. Take drugs. The Front Page Magazine alleges that Al Qaeda principally funded its terrorist activity from the Afghan opium trade, something which its fraternal groups in Europe have emulated with great success.

Al-Qaeda works closely with these Afghan drug smugglers to secure safe routes for their shipments through neighboring Pakistan and Iran. But Al-Qaeda’s assistance comes with a price: the group places heavy taxes on the shipments, and often takes some of the drugs as payment, using them later to buy weapons. Tactics similar to these were employed by the Madrid bombers, who, Spanish authorities believe, used 30 kilos of hashish to buy explosives that were used in that attack (which killed 200 people and wounded over a thousand more).  The men were also suspected of having links to Morocco’s thriving hashish trade, which serves as a source of revenue for Islamic terrorists in North Africa and Europe.

The Asia Times has an extensive piece on the hostage taking business in Iraq, with emphasis on the business. Sudha Ramachandran exhaustively argues that kidnappings are less about making political statements than making money.

It appears that local criminal gangs do the actual kidnapping. The hostages are then sold up the chain to larger militant outfits, which use the hostages as pawns and bargaining chips. Foreign hostages apparently carry a higher price tag. Many of the abductions in Iraq have been attributed to al-Zarqawi or to "groups with links to al-Zarqawi". This could be because a large number of gangs might be supplying his group with hostages - hence the many groups with "links to al-Zarqawi".

But a more plausible explanation lies in the way Islamist militant groups are evolving post-September 11, 2001. Just as al-Qaeda has groups with links to it, so also al-Zarqawi's al-Tawhid wal-Jihad with outfits in Iraq. Terrorist cells and outfits with links to al-Qaeda have proliferated across the world. What links these groups is a similar outlook and ideology. The al-Qaeda-linked groups act under different names and carry out attacks on their own. Dia'a Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on militant groups, likens this phenomenon to "McDonald's giving out franchises ... All they have to do is follow the company's manual. They don't consult with headquarters every time they want to produce a meal."

Even the hostage's final agonies are merchandised through tie-ins. Pravda reports a land office business in decapitation videos.

A new video product is currently available on Iraqi markets - DVDs of hostages' executions. They are sold next to porn movies. It was reported on Thursday that terrorists had executed two Italian hostages. The video of the execution is not available yet, although one may expect the video of the American civil engineer, Eugene Armstrong, the killing of whom was uploaded on one of Islamic websites, the Hindustan Times wrote.

There is a very big demand on such video recordings on the Bab-i-Sharji market in Iraq. Salesmen play them everywhere, even in their own DVD shops, to attract people's attention. They turn the volume on so that everyone could listen to a hostage screaming before masked men cut his head off. The footage of the execution then changes to an adult movie. The covers of such hideous DVDs depict local popular singers, although the disks contain an absolutely different kind of "songs," performed by the leader of the Tawhid and Jihad group, Abu Mussaba Al-Zarkawi. DVDs are hologrammed with Al-Assifa label.

The possibility that terrorists are just another form of criminal is not a very encouraging, given that America singularly failed to the win the War against Drugs. But a focus on its criminal characteristics goes far toward explaining many of Islamic terrorism's characteristics, like its penchant for recruitment in jails. Robert Kaplan was very near the mark when he drew the connection between Islamic terrorism and the coming of chaos. In his view, America is keeping back a dark tide while a slumbering civilization bestirs itself.

The American military now has the most thankless task of any military in the history of warfare: to provide the security armature for an emerging global civilization that, the more it matures -- with its own mass media and governing structures -- the less credit and sympathy it will grant to the very troops who have risked and, indeed, given their lives for it.

One of the sneering mass media agencies which US security protects is the Reuters wire service. It's editorial policy towards describing terrorism is a study in languid aloofness:

As part of a long-standing policy to avoid the use of emotive words, we do not use terms like 'terrorist' and 'freedom fighter' unless they are in a direct quote or are otherwise attributable to a third party. We do not characterize the subjects of news stories but instead report their actions, identity and background so that readers can make their own decisions based on the facts.

But then, Reuters were always too classy to be crime reporters.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Fog of War

The New York Times reports that violence in Iraq is 'sprawling' and 'sweeping' and 'widespread' and has the statistics to back it up -- maybe. James Glanz and Thom Shanker report:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 28 - Over the past 30 days, more than 2,300 attacks by insurgents have been directed against civilians and military targets in Iraq, in a pattern that sprawls over nearly every major population center outside the Kurdish north, according to comprehensive data compiled by a private security company with access to military intelligence reports and its own network of Iraqi informants.

The sweeping geographical reach of the attacks, from Nineveh and Salahuddin Provinces in the northwest to Babylon and Diyala in the center and Basra in the south, suggests a more widespread resistance than the isolated pockets described by Iraqi government officials.

The "Times" source is the Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group Inc, an outfit based in Las Vegas which MSNBC identifies as consisting largely of former Army Rangers.

"If you look at incident data and you put incident data on the map, it's not a few provinces, " said Adam Collins, a security expert and the chief intelligence official in Iraq for Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group Inc., a private security company based in Las Vegas that compiles and analyzes the data as a regular part of its operations in Iraq.

Damning. Or is it? In the next paragraph Adam Collins is quoted as saying:

The number of attacks has risen and fallen over the months. Mr. Collins said the highest numbers were in April, when there was major fighting in Falluja, with attacks averaging 120 a day. The average is now about 80 a day, he said.

So what if the average number of attacks has fallen, part of the mixed signals which the "Times" argues constitutes the "fog of war"? Is it not undeniable that the insurgency was expanding and spreading as evidenced by the Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group Inc list of 2,300 attacks throughout Iraq this month, with 1,000 in Baghdad alone. And in other areas:

During the past 30 days those attacks totaled 283 in Nineveh, 325 in Salahuddin in the northwest and 332 in the desert badlands of Anbar Province in the west. In the center of Iraq, attacks numbered 123 in Diyala Province, 76 in Babylon and 13 in Wasit. There was not a single province without an attack in the 30-day period.

Against this, the "Times" quotes those who argue that the security situation is improving.

Pentagon officials and military officers like to point to a separate list of statistics to counter the tally of attacks, including the number of schools and clinics opened. They cite statistics indicating that a growing number of Iraqi security forces are trained and fully equipped, and they note that applicants continue to line up at recruiting stations despite bombings of them. But most of all, military officers argue that despite the rise in bloody attacks during the past 30 days, the insurgents have yet to win a single battle. ...

In a joint appearance last week in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Bush and Dr. Allawi painted an optimistic portrait of the security situation in Iraq. Dr. Allawi said that of Iraq's 18 provinces, "14 to 15 are completely safe." He added that the other provinces suffer "pockets of terrorists" who inflict damage in them and plot attacks carried out elsewhere in the country. In other appearances, Dr. Allawi asserted that elections could be held in 15 of the 18 provinces. Both Mr. Bush and Dr. Allawi insisted that Iraq would hold free elections as scheduled in January.

Critics might argue that evidence from the Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group Inc make it hard to take the claims of President Bush and Prime Minister Allawie seriously.  But are they lying? The following table was constructed entirely from data contained in the "Times" article, as modified by the graphic posted on their site. (Hat tip CJR) The population and area of Iraq's provinces are taken from the World Gazeteer and a map of the Iraqi provinces can found at Global Security Org.

The first thing to notice is that 2,139 of the 2,429 attacks took place in 6 of the 18 provinces. The numbers don't entirely add up in the "Times" graphic but the discrepancy is small and may be due to errors in assigning some incidents. The real hotbeds are Baghdad and areas to the northwest -- the Sunni triangle. By far the greatest density of violence is in Baghdad, where 1,000 attacks have taken place in an 732 kilometers square.

Province 2004 Population Area Size sq km Attacks as per NYT article Attacks per 100,000 Attacks per 1000 sq km
al-Anbar                     1,260,200            138,501


                      26.35 2.40
Babil                     1,454,700                6,468           76                         5.22 11.75
Baġdād                     6,677,000                   734         997                       14.93 1358.31
al-Basrah                     1,916,000              19,070           87                         4.54 4.56
Dahuk                        496,100                6,553             1                         0.20 0.15
Di Qar                     1,458,500              12,900             6                         0.41 0.47
Diyalā                     1,397,500              19,076         123                         8.80 6.45
Irbil                     1,349,200              14,471             4                         0.30 0.28
Karbala                        731,500                5,034           76                       10.39 15.10
Maysan                        784,300              16,072 12                         1.53 0.75
al Mutanna                        537,700              51,740 2                         0.37 0.04
an Najaf                        954,100              28,824             7                         0.73 0.24
Ninawa (Niniveh)                     2,514,800              35,899         283                       11.25 7.88
al Qadisiyah                        924,900                8,153             1                         0.11 0.12
Salah-ah-Din                     1,113,400              26,175         325                       29.19 12.42
as-Sulaymaniyah                     1,677,500              17,023             1                         0.06 0.06
at Tamim                        927,200              10,282           83                         8.95 8.07
Wasit                        964,600              17,153 13                         1.35 0.76
Totals                     27,139,200             434,128      2,429    

So everything checks out just as the New York Times article reported it. All the facts are individually true, but Prime Minister Allawie's assertion that most provinces are "completely safe" and that security prospects are bright are also supported by those same facts. Such is the fog of war.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Closing Door

Caroline Glick argues in the Sept 23 edition of the "Jerusalem Post" that the sole remaining hope of preventing the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is to put the ball in the air and hope for a miracle basket, an act of desperation that would rank with Jerry West's 60-foot buzzer beater in the 1970 NBA playoffs.

Iran this week summarily rejected the latest call by the International Atomic Energy Agency to cease all its uranium enrichment programs. Speaking at a military parade on Tuesday, where Iran's surface-to-surface Shihab-3 ballistic missiles earmarked "Jerusalem" were on prominent display, Iranian President Muhammad Khatami defied the IAEA, saying: "We will continue along our path [of uranium enrichment] even if it leads to an end to international supervision."

US and European sources involved in tracking the Iranian nuclear program have made clear in recent weeks that Iran is between four and six months away from nuclear "break-out" capacity. This means that in the next four to six months Iran will have the nuclear fuel cycle complete, and will be able to independently construct nuclear bombs whenever it wishes. More conservative estimates have spoken of 12-24 months.

Glick did not believe that any new diplomatic initiative would materially delay the breakout. In order to illustrate the futility of further diplomacy, she focuses upon the proposals of veteran arms control negotiator Henry Solkoski who argued that diplomacy was the only option left because the United States was too preoccupied in Iraq to take on Iran and because the Islamic Republic's 15 uranium enrichment facilities were too hardened and dispersed to be successfully attacked. With force ruled out diplomacy remained by exclusion. But the cards left in the hand are not necessarily winning ones, as Michael Ledeen points out. Diplomacy had repeatedly failed to stop or even slow Iran's nuclear program. There was no reason for it to succeed with Iraq so close to its ultimate goal.

"This is more of the same, however you want to define it. We're not making any progress. The UN and the Europeans keep saying the same thing every three months. You wait every three months and eventually Iran has an atomic bomb. Then you don't need to worry about this failed policy."

Ledeen also believes that even if the Iranian program were to be referred to the Security Council, it is unlikely that sanctions on oil or natural gas – the only ones that might have an impact on the regime in Teheran – would be imposed. And even if they were, he says, "oil is fungible. Saddam proved oil sanctions don't really work. So who are we kidding?"

By applying the same exclusionary logic as Solkoski Glick arrives at the diametrically opposite conclusion. She counsels: don't dribble out the clock three points down with five seconds to go. Go for the 60-foot jumpshot. From the "Jerusalem Post" archives:

Sokolski states at the outset that the option of a military strike against Iran must be dismissed because Iran's program is too far flung and its sites are too hardened. That is, since it may well be impossible to hit every nuclear target, it is not worth hitting any of them. As well, Iranian leaders daily threaten that any military action taken against Iran will be responded to in a devastating manner.

Yet, were an air strike on Iran to take out say, only 10 of 15 sites, it would still severely retard the Iranian nuclear effort, buying the West time to formulate and enact either a policy of engagement from a position of strength, or a policy of regime change with the requisite credibility among regime opponents that such a strike would inspire.

Heady stuff. But what Glick does not say -- though it would perforce follow -- is that any strike would make it logically necessary to subsequently topple the Teheran regime by any means necessary. A second Osirak would prove to the Mullahs that they would have to use any nuclear weapons that came to hand before they lost it, a danger avertable only by eliminating the Mullahs. Bombing sites in the hope of delay would be like swimming into an underwater tunnel on a lungful of air hoping for an exit on the far side. But the only man who could turn the card was maddeningly ambiguous. President Bush, in an interview on Fox News on Sept 27, reiterated his determination to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons in the most uninformative manner possible.

"My hope is that we can solve this diplomatically," Bush tells Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" in the first part of a three-part interview to begin airing tonight. "All options are on the table, of course, in any situation," Bush said. "But diplomacy is the first option."

What President Bush will do with the clock running out is anyone's guess. But it's three points down and five seconds to go.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Two Wars

Robert Kaplan summarizes the real task before America in the coming years. It is not to find "an exit strategy from Iraq", as if there were somewhere on the planet it could hide from terrorism; nor is it simply to find Osama Bin Laden as some, ever anxious to reduce the current conflict to a law enforcement problem, would claim as a goal. It's task is to hold back the dark until a new global civilization can find its footing.

The American military now has the most thankless task of any military in the history of warfare: to provide the security armature for an emerging global civilization that, the more it matures -- with its own mass media and governing structures -- the less credit and sympathy it will grant to the very troops who have risked and, indeed, given their lives for it.

And the dark is everywhere; in the vast, decayed structure of the Third World where the shambolic post-colonial architecture has rotted away, leaving areas of chaos the size of continents.

Indian Country has been expanding in recent years because of the security vacuum created by the collapse of traditional dictatorships and the emergence of new democracies -- whose short-term institutional weaknesses provide whole new oxygen systems for terrorists. Iraq is but a microcosm of the earth in this regard. To wit, the upsurge of terrorism in the vast archipelago of Indonesia, the southern Philippines and parts of Malaysia is a direct result of the anarchy unleashed by the passing of military regimes. Likewise, though many do not realize it, a more liberalized Middle East will initially see greater rather than lesser opportunities for terrorists. As the British diplomatist Harold Nicolson understood, public opinion is not necessarily enlightened merely because it has been suppressed.

Kaplan, who is writing a series of books on the US military experience in different parts of the world, realized that Iraq was only a part, and not even the best part, of the global war on terror. In Mauretania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Columbia, Afghanistan and the Philippines, Kaplan found small bands of men who were remolding blank spaces on the map in ways unknown since the 18th century. What they valued most of all were not "more boots on the ground" but freedom of action. The freedom above all, to do the commonsense thing. "Who needs meetings in Washington," one Army major told me. "Guys in the field will figure out what to do."  Who needed meetings in Washington it turned out, were the vast retinue of camp followers, reporters and sutlers, who followed a great army to battle. Kaplan writes:

In months of travels with the American military, I have learned that the smaller the American footprint and the less notice it draws from the international media, the more effective is the operation. One good soldier-diplomat in a place like Mongolia can accomplish miracles. A few hundred Green Berets in Colombia and the Philippines can be adequate force multipliers. Ten thousand troops, as in Afghanistan, can tread water. And 130,000, as in Iraq, constitutes a mess that nobody wants to repeat -- regardless of one's position on the war.

What of that extreme pole on the cursed end of Kaplan's Law: Iraq? Writing in the Weekly Standard, Lt. Col. Powl Smith, the former chief of counterterrorism plans at U.S. European Command and currently in Baghdad sees that campaign not as a screen before the advancing vanguard of global civilization but as a battlefield where the main force of the enemy has been brought to battle. Powl compares Iraq to Guadalcanal, which depending on one's point of view is either exceedingly ominous or optimistic.

In one of our first counteroffensives against the Japanese, U.S. troops landed on the island of Guadalcanal in order to capture a key airfield. We surprised the Japanese with our speed and audacity, and with very little fighting seized the airfield. But the Japanese recovered from our initial success, and began a long, brutal campaign to force us off Guadalcanal and recapture it. The Japanese were very clever and absolutely committed to sacrificing everything for their beliefs. (Only three Japanese surrendered after six months of combat--a statistic that should put today's Islamic radicals to shame.) The United States suffered 6,000 casualties during the six-month Guadalcanal campaign; Japan, 24,000. It was a very expensive airfield.

While Midway is enshrined in popular glory, it was really Guadalcanal that  represented the graveyard of Japanese forces, the Island of Death upon which Japanese naval and military reinforcements were dashed heedless and seriatim, until there were no more left to send. But no one knew it at the time; and when US forces embarked on a final sweep of the island they discovered to their surprise that the remainder had been totally evacuated by Japanese forces. The most popular account at the time, Richard Tregaskis' nearly-forgotten Guadalcanal Diary is useless as a work of history, written too close to the events and burdened by the misconceptions of the time, though it faithfully preserves the atmosphere of the early 1940s. Officers rarely use historical comparisons without intending some point and Powl leaves us in no doubt that he means Iraq to be the graveyard of the global Jihad.

It is possible that both Kaplan and Powl are right, as were the Blind Men of India in their differing descriptions of the elephant. We are truly in the midst of a world war as far flung and various as any in history: one so large as to defy description even by so talented a writer as Robert Kaplan . No one suspected what lay beyond the door constituted by September 11. Not even the enemy.

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
-- Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach

The Road To Damascus

Just after Izz El-Deen Al-Sheikh Khalil climbed into his white Mitsubishi in Damascus a bomb planted in the vehicle exploded, ending his career. Khalil was member of the military wing of Hamas living in the Syrian capital. The Syrian government blamed Israel for the attack, characterizing it as "an Israeli act of state terrorism in the heart of Damascus". Israel responded coyly, neither confirming nor denying their involvement in Khalil's death. But the strangest reaction of all was from Hamas.

The Izz el-Deen al-Kassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, vowed to avenge Al-Sheikh Khalil by attacking Israeli targets overseas, the group said in a statement issued in the Gaza Strip. "We have allowed hundreds of thousands of Zionists to travel and move in capitals around the world in order not to be the party that shifts the struggle overseas. But the Zionist enemy has done so and should bear the consequences of its actions," said the statement, a copy of which was faxed to the pan-Arab news channel Al-Jazeera, which broadcast the message.

"We announce an escalation in the fight between us and the Zionist enemy," Hamas spokesman Sami Zuhari said speaking on Al-Jazeera.

But another Hamas spokesperson, Osama Hamdan, denied the al-Jazeera report, saying Hamas would not change its strategy of striking at Israeli targets only within Israel and the Palestinian territories. "Our policy was and remains to conduct our struggle inside the Zionist entity," Hamdan said, speaking from Beirut.

Experts believe the retraction came about because Hamas does not want to be seen as another al-Qaida.

Hamas' hesitation is evidence that the cellular structure of militant Islamism, meant to provide immunity against counterintelligence is also exacting a high strategic price. The decentralized command and control structure which freed cells to choose their own targets also allowed them to make their own enemies. And make enemies they did. Attacking the United States, seizing the Indian Parlaiment House, blowing up discos in Bali, smashing trains in Madrid and beheading people of every nationality has had the practical effect of multiplying the  foes of radical Islam and enabled President Bush to build a global coalition against it. While it has arrogated to itself the power to ignore every civilized limit, Islamic terrorism itself is ironically dependent on their maintenance. Assymetric warfare relies on being able to do what your enemy is forbidden. Terrorism, being militarily weak, relied upon legal restraints, inviolate borders and traditional respect for noncombatants and holy places to provide the shelter that concrete could not. Khalil lived in an unguarded compound in Damascus, in an ordinary residential neighborhood, free to plot the deaths of Jewish civilians. His armor was neither Kevlar nor steel but the certainty -- until now -- that Israel would not attack him across an "international" border. Hama's eagerness to limit the response to Israel proper betrays a growing fear that borders no longer provide sanctuaries. In the weeks following the masscre of schoolchildren in Beslan, the Russian strongman Vladmir Putin announced his intention to strike pre-emptively at terrorist targets all over the world.

17 Sept 2004 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning of preemptive strikes on terrorists. His announcement came shortly after prominent Chechen warlord, Shamil Basayev, claimed responsibility for the bloody school siege in Beslan two weeks ago. More than 320 hostages were killed in the siege. Russian President Vladimir Putin's comments are the highest-level warning that Russia might launch pre-emptive strikes on terrorists.

Speaking in Moscow on Friday, the Russian leader said serious preparation to act preventively against terrorists is under way. If taken, the measures would be in strict accordance with the law and norms of the constitution and rely on international law, he said. Mr. Putin didn't specify whether attacks would happen at home or abroad.

The reader may judge for himself how respectful Russia might be of "international law". But both Putin's warning and the Israeli carbomb attack in Damascus are a warning that Golda Meir may have been wrong. She once said, "there will be no peace in the Middle East until the Palestinians love their children more than they hate the Jews". She forgot the alternative which Putin may even now be thinking of. 'that there will be peace in the Middle East when every Arab school is as secure as Belslan; and the Kaaba as inviolate as any synagogue in Jersualem.' America must win this war before it is too late -- for Islam.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Who Goes There?

Most visitors to the US know that not even a valid visa can guaranty entry into the United States. Nor is America alone in this. Generally speaking, no foreign national can enter another country as a matter of right.  Louis Farrakahan found that holding an American passport did not entitle him to enter Britain in 2002. Nor is politics always a factor: bureaucrats can act in arbitrary ways.

One of Laura Bush's favourite British authors has been refused entry to the US, a day before he was due to lecture to an audience of 2,500 people. Ian McEwan was stopped by immigration officials as he left Vancouver airport, in Canada, for an engagement in Seattle. The man who was last year invited to Downing Street by Cherie Blair to meet American's first lady - who said she keeps a McEwan novel by her bedside - found himself detained for four hours before being turned back. McEwan, who recently won America's National Book Award for his novel Atonement, was travelling to the US as a guest of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Officials there told him he did not need a visa. But the immigration officer felt differently.

So when Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, declared he was going to take legal action to "undo the very serious, and wholly unfounded, injustice which I have suffered" as a result of his spectacular deportation from the United States, he appeared to be trying to refute the accusation that he was a Hamas supporter, rather than to directly compel the US government to admit him, though the second would would probably follow if the first could be achieved. "I am a man of peace and denounce all forms of terrorism ... it is simply outrageous for the US authorities to suggest otherwise." Islam has denied being a Hamas supporter, saying that his donations have always been for humanitarian causes like orphanages in Hebron. Islam's had similarly been refused him entry to Israel in 2000, before September 11. The accusations against him then and Islam's rebuttal are eerily similar to the most recent incident.

Islam, 51, who changed his name after becoming a Muslim in the late 1970s, was refused entry into Israel hours after arriving Wednesday. The former singer said he was told only that he was a "threat to national security.''

Israeli Defense Ministry officials refused to comment on Islam's case other than to say that the Shin Bet, Israel's internal intelligence agency, had ordered him barred from the country. The Maariv Daily in Israel reported that the government claimed Islam had delivered tens of thousands of dollars to Hamas, a militant Islamic group, during his last visit in 1988.

"Upon my return to London, reports were already circulating that the Israeli authorities were trying to excuse their actions by linking me to terrorist groups,'' Islam said in a statement. "I want to make sure that people are aware that I've never knowingly supported any terrorist groups -- past, present or future. It's simply an attempt to cast doubt again on my character and good intentions.''

Islam has contributed sums of money to orphanages in Kosovo and Bosnia too. The US position is that while it can't prove anything in court -- it doesn't need to prove anything to deny an alien entry into the America. Colin Powell responded to accusation that Islam had been unfairly treated by saying:

"We have no charges against him," Mr Powell told reporters at the foreign press centre. "We have nothing that would be actionable in our courts, or in the courts in the United Kingdom, I'm sure. "But it is the procedure that we have been using to know who is coming into our country, know their backgrounds and interests and see whether we believe it is appropriate for them to come in," he said.

"With respect to Cat Stevens ... our Homeland Security Department and intelligence agencies found some information concerning his activities that they felt under our law required him to be placed on a watch list and therefore deny him entry into the United States," Mr Powell said. "In this instance, information was obtained that suggested he should be placed on the watch list and that's why he was denied entry into the country," he said.

The shock power in the Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) affair lies precisely in Colin Powell's tone: the cold determination to deny even the most prominent persons entry into the US if suspected of terrorist links. For decades being turned back at the US border was an indignity reserved for poor Mexicans, Filipinos and such. Visitors from Europe and especially the Transatlantic commuter set were spared these inconveniences, as were millionaires from Third World hell-holes, who had the telephone number of a high-priced immigration lawyer at their fingertips as insurance against such misunderstandings. Even the Saudis could expect to be waved past immigration in the pre-911 age, courtesy of the Visa Express program.  Joel Mowbray wrote in 2002.

Three Saudis who were among the last of the Sept. 11 homicide hijackers to enter this country didn't visit a U.S. embassy or consulate to get their visas; they went to a travel agent, where they only submitted a short, two-page form and a photo. The program that made this possible, Visa Express, is still using travel agents in Saudi Arabia to fill this vital role in United States border security.

But now men traveling first-class in bespoke business suits know that neither wealth nor fame nor that immigration lawyer's telephone number can keep F-16s from popping out of the dark and escorting their flight to Bangor, Maine, from where the Mexicans might be allowed to continue, but not them. While Mr. Islam is certainly entitled to pursue legal action and may in the end be vindicated, the incident shows more clearly than any other that it's not September 10 any more. America is at war in a way that it never was in Vietnam. This one is for keeps.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Dark Networks

Vladis Krebs has a case study page examining how mapping social networks and understanding their properties can be used to take down of terrorist networks. Network analysis was used to take down Saddam Hussein. The Washington Post has some of the details.

The Army general whose forces captured Saddam Hussein said yesterday that he realized as far back as July that the key lay in figuring out the former Iraqi president's clan and family support structures in and around Hussein's home city of Tikrit.

Following a strategy similar to that pioneered by New York City police in the 1990s, who cracked down on "squeegee men" only to discover they knew about far more serious criminals, Maj. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said his analysts and commanders spent the summer building "link diagrams," graphics showing everyone related to Hussein by blood or tribe.

While U.S. forces up to then had been preoccupied with finding "high value targets" from the Bush administration's list of the top 55 most-wanted Iraqis, Odierno said those family diagrams led his forces to lower-level, but nonetheless highly trusted, relatives and clan members harboring Hussein and helping him move around the countryside.

And the rest as they say, is history. John Robb took at look at the September 11 network and analyzed its characteristics. The Mohammed Atta network had evolved under Darwinian pressure until it reached the form best suited for its purpose: to conduct strategic attacks against the United States of America. Robb concludes that a cell of 70 persons will answer to the purpose, yet be sparse enough to allow its members to remain in relative isolation. For example, no one member of Atta's cell knew more than five others. Moreover, the average distance between any two members was more than four persons. Crucially, but not surprisingly, this disconnected network of plotters maintained coherence by relying on a support infrastructure -- probably communications posts, safe houses, couriers -- to keep themselves from unraveling.  Because security comes at a price in performance and flexibility, Robb arrives at an astounding conjecture: you can have small, operationally secure terrorist groups, but you can't have large, operationally secure cells without a state sponsor.

Distributed, dynamic terrorist networks cannot scale like hierarchical networks. The same network design that makes them resiliant against attack puts absolute limits on their size. If so, what are those limits?

A good starting point is to look at limits to group size within peaceful online communities on which we have extensive data -- terrorist networks are essentially geographically dispersed online communities. Chris Allen does a good job analyzing optimal group size with his critique of the Dunbar number.

His analysis (replete with examples) shows that there is a gradual fall-off in effectiveness at 80 members, with an absolute fall-off at 150 members. The initial fall-off occurs, according to Chris, due to an increasing amount of effort spent on "grooming" the group to maintain cohesion. The absolute fall-off at 150 members occurs when grooming fails to stem dissatisfaction and dissension, which causes the group to cleave apart into smaller subgroups (that may remain affiliated).

Al Qaeda may have been able to grow much larger than this when it ran physical training camps in Afghanistan. Physical proximity allowed al Qaeda to operate as a hierarchy along military lines, complete with middle management (or at least a mix of a hierarchy in Afghanistan and a distributed network outside of Afghanistan). Once those camps were broken apart, the factors listed above were likely to have caused the fragmentation we see today (lots of references to this in the news).

His last paragraph is crucial to understanding why the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the toppling of Saddam Hussein may have cripped global terrorism so badly. Without the infrastrastructure of a state sponsor, terrorism is limited to cells of about 100 members in size in order to maintain security. In the context of the current campaign in Iraq, the strategic importance of places like Falluja or "holy places" is that their enclave nature allows terrorists to grow out their networks to a larger and more potent size. Without those sanctuaries, they would be small, clandestine hunted bands. The argument that dismantling terrorist enclaves makes "America less safe than it should be in a dangerous world" inverts the logic. It is allowing the growth of terrorist enclaves that puts everyone at risk in an otherwise safe world.


Here's a link to a database of terrorist incidents called, MIPT Terrorism, via the Neophyte Pundit. I'll look into the site later today or this week, but it seems useful enough to put on my blogroll.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Way to Dusty Death

Michael Totten examines the quagmire that never was. How did Israel achieve the task, regarded as impossible by media analysts and many diplomats, of defeating the Intifada? He quotes the "New Republic".

Israel's triumph over the Palestinian attempt to unravel its society is the result of a systematic assault on terrorism that emerged only fitfully over the past four years. The fence, initially opposed by the army and the government, has thwarted terrorist infiltration in those areas where it has been completed. Border towns like Hadera and Afula, which had experienced some of the worst attacks, have been terror-free since the fence was completed in their areas. Targeted assassinations and constant military forays into Palestinian neighborhoods have decimated the terrorists' leadership, and roadblocks have intercepted hundreds of bombs, some concealed in ambulances, children's backpacks, and, most recently, a baby carriage. At every phase of Israel's counteroffensive, skeptics have worried that attempts to suppress terrorism would only encourage more of it.

The most remarkable thing about Israel's campaign against the Intifada was not it's adoption of new warfighting concepts, like Europe's Human Security Doctrine, but its reversion to the oldest method of all: winning by fighting back. Social historians in the future, should we ever attain it, may endlessly wonder how it was possible for Western European and liberal American intellectuals to forget 5,000 years of military experience in favor of the slogans, some composed facetiously, of the Peace Movement of the 1960s. However that may be, Totten concludes that Israel is a test case, the pathfinder to America's future in the war on terror. "Israel's present may be our future. Best get used to it now."

The necessary corollary is if Israel's future is to America's then Palestine's is to the Islamic world's: a bleak landscape of impoverished, poorly educated people living on a diet of fantasy: the least necessary tragedy in history. The Jihad like the Intifada is the highroad to vacancy. But the Left encouraged Yasser Arafat to hold out for more at every turn; solemnly assuring him by whatever gods of historical determinism they worshipped that the Intifada was unstoppable; the wave of the future. What they forgot to tell him was that it was unstoppable only for so long as it wasn't stopped. To listen to the Left is to share it's epitaph. Time to stop listening.

a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


Digital Bear Consulting has a very useful set of links to software tools in aid of social network analysis. It's an area I discovered by accident, having "rolled my own" link analysis software as a private utility. My motivation was to keep track of the burgeoning network of events, persons and other entities related to the Global War on Terror. The products listed out at Digital Bear are far removed from my own amateurish attempts. For one thing, they are founded on sound mathematical theory. I haven't had the time to look at each closely, but they range from Analyst's Notebook, a professional law enforcement and military package whose claim to fame was helping track down Saddam Hussein at the high end to Agna and NetVis Module, which are freeware. There are also libraries and toolkits which can be adapted to custom purposes. Other resources include INSNA and its directory of relevant software tools. Vladis Krebs describes the motivation behind social network analysis.

Social network analysis [SNA] is the mapping and measuring of relationships and flows between people, groups, organizations, computers or other information/knowledge processing entities. The nodes in the network are the people and groups while the links show relationships or flows between the nodes. .. A method to understand networks and their participants is to evaluate the location of actors in the network. Measuring the network location is finding the centrality of a node. These measures help determine the importance, or prominence, of a node in the network.

While it sounds like something that would be extraordinarily useful in the war on terror, I suspect the actual utility of many models and the tools based on them will be quite limited by the quality of the data and its volatility. All the same, there was never a tool without a use and while I don't expect that these tools are used in the field to target Zarqawi's minions scuttling around in Iraq, the concepts of "social networks" are probably never far from mind.

The spiritual leader of a militant group that claimed to have beheaded two American hostages in Iraq has been killed in a U.S. airstrike, and his Jordanian family is preparing a wake, a newspaper and Islamic clerics said Wednesday. Sheik Abu Anas al-Shami, 35, was killed when a missile hit the car he was traveling in on Friday in the west Baghdad suburb of Abu-Ghraib, said the clerics, who have close ties to the family. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

Al-Shami was a close aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of the militant group Tawhid and Jihad. The al-Qaida-linked group is blamed for some of the biggest attacks in Iraq, including the bombing of the U.N. headquarters last year, and the beheadings of foreign hostages -- including two Americans this week.

The Sword is Mightier than the Pen

Glenn Reynolds links to Volokh who describes the intimidation that correspondents are filing their stories under in Iraq.

The New York Times reports that Reuters is upset that the CanWest newspaper chain changed a Reuters story to describe the Al Asqa Martyrs' brigade, a Palestinian terrorist group, as "a terrorist group":

"Our editorial policy is that we don't use emotive words when labeling someone," said David A. Schlesinger, Reuters' global managing editor. "Any paper can change copy and do whatever they want. But if a paper wants to change our copy that way, we would be more comfortable if they remove the byline." Mr. Schlesinger said he was concerned that changes like those made at CanWest could lead to "confusion" about what Reuters is reporting and possibly endanger its reporters in volatile areas or situations. "My goal is to protect our reporters and protect our editorial integrity," he said.

In other words, Reuters must amend its copy to suit or its reporters may be harmed. This is another aspect of asymmetrical warfare that goes unrecognized. Terrorists are essentially free to censor news coverage or even alter it by intimidation whereas Coalition Forces are strictly forbidden from even thinking about it. It's similar to when gangsters would trash 19th century newspaper offices to head off crusading editors except that today's gangsters can edit the copy to describe themselves as 'militants' or 'activists' or 'people' and editors have banished the words 'crusading' and especially 'crusade' from their lexicon altogether. John Burns of the New York Times described how he hid from Saddam's thugs in hotel stairwells during OIF while those who towed the line or paid them off received preferential treatment.

There were correspondents who thought it appropriate to seek the approbation of the people who governed their lives. This was the ministry of information, and particularly the director of the ministry. By taking him out for long candlelit dinners, plying him with sweet cakes, plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family, and giving bribes of thousands of dollars. Senior members of the information ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from these television correspondents who then behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror.

In comparison with this kind of tampering  the CBS 60 Minutes forgery scandal pales into insignificance. Terror, through intimidation, has to some extent been able to control what Americans and Europeans are allowed to read. Yet Reuters says, "My goal is to protect our reporters and protect our editorial integrity". Where have we heard that before?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Tommy Franks Statement

Buried deep in a Boston Globe article mainly devoted to John Kerry's denunciation of President George Bush's handling of Iraq is a riposte by retired CENTCOM Commander Tommy Franks.

Kerry, who in October 2002 voted in favor of a congressional resolution authorizing the war, said Bush rushed into Iraq without the backing of allies, preparing a postwar plan, or properly equipping US forces -- ''None of which I would have done."

''Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell," Kerry told a supportive audience assembled at New York University, downtown from where Bush is to address the United Nations General Assembly today. ''But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."

He blamed Bush for ''colossal failures of judgment." ''This is stubborn incompetence," he said.

Then there's the rebuttal by Franks. The Globe quotes Franks as saying: "General Tommy Franks, who commanded the 2002 invasion of Iraq, criticiz(ed) Kerry directly. ''Senator Kerry's contradictions on Iraq are the wrong signal to send to our troops on the ground, to our coalition partners, to the Iraqi people, and to the terrorists seeking our destruction," Franks said." But the Globe omitted the more important part of Frank's statement, whose text can be found at FreeRepublic.

ARLINGTON, VA – Gen. Tommy Franks (Ret.) today issued the following statement on Senator Kerry's speech today on Iraq:

"Senator Kerry's contradictions on Iraq are the wrong signal to send to our troops on the ground, to our coalition partners, to the Iraqi people and to the terrorists seeking our destruction. On the eve of Prime Minister Allawi's visit to the United States, Senator Kerry today said that America and the world are 'less secure' now that Saddam Hussein is out of power.

"The American people disagree and last December, so did Senator Kerry. At the time he said that those who believe the world was safer with Saddam Hussein in power 'don't have the judgment to be president.' I agree."

The Globe casts Frank's disagreements with Kerry as procedural -- "sending the wrong message" But Frank's critique goes deeper: they are substantive disagreements with the assertion that the removal of Saddam Hussein did not make the America and the world safer. It is a strategic appreciation diametrically opposed to that of Senator Kerry's.

The problem with arguments from authority is that one can find citations to suit any book. This is often the last resort of those who argue that Iraq, in despite of statistical evidence to contrary, has trapped the US in a strategic cul-de-sac. In that respect Tommy Franks is to those unimpeachable sources as the critics of the 60 Minutes expose were to CBS's document experts. Not the last word, but planters of the first seed of doubt in the Anybody-But-Bush faith. In the end, the truth of a proposition comes not from assertions of authority, but the thing in itself. People will judge Iraq from its effect on their own lives and render their verdict accordingly.

Update: The Enemy in Iraq

Dan Darling has more detailed breakdown of the enemy order of battle in Iraq. A sample:

Zarqawi's coalition

In addition to his own al-Tawhid wal Jihad organization, Zarqawi has also formed an impressive coalition of Iraqi and foreign Islamist groups under his direction to challenge US control of Iraq. Ansar al-Islam is a nominal part of this coalition, but they are far more autonomous than these others that I'm about to list because they've been established in Iraq longer and have equal or greater clout with Zarqawi's erstwhile allies in the IRGC. Based on what I know, Zarqawi's coalition is made up of Jaish Ansar al-Sunnah, Jaish-e-Islami al-Iraqi, Jaish Mohammed, Harakat al-Salafiyyah al-Jihadiyyah, Takfir wal Hijra, Kateebat al-Jihad al-Islamiyyah, Islamic Resistance Front, Saad ibn Abi Waqqas, Kateebat al-Mujahideen, Kateebat al-Zilzal al-Mujahid, Kateebat Salah al-Din, and Jund al-Sham as well as the international brigades of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat ul-Jihad-e-Islam, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

It would be good to diagram.

The Narrow Way

Patrick Belton at Oxblog links to a European think tank study recommending what the continent's response should be to terrorism, genocide and weapons of mass destruction. The Human Security Doctrine for Europe seems consciously designed to be the not-American response to these threats. It begins with these stirring words:

Many people in the world lead intolerably insecure lives. In many cases, insecurity is the consequence of conflicts in which civilians are deliberately targeted with impunity. In an era of global interdependence, Europeans can no longer feel secure when large parts of the world are insecure.

Over the last few years, the European Union has been developing a common security policy. In December 2003, the European Council agreed a European Security Strategy (ESS), which advocates preventive engagement and effective multilateralism. This report is about implementation of the ESS. It argues that Europe needs the capability to make a more active contribution to global security. It needs military forces but military forces need to be configured and used in new ways. The report focuses on regional conflicts and failed states, which are the source of new global threats including terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and organised crime.

Those threats are to be met by "A ‘Human Security Response Force’, composed of 15,000 men and women, of whom at least one third would be civilian (police, human rights monitors, development and humanitarian specialists, administrators, etc.). The Force would be drawn from dedicated troops and civilian capabilities already made available by member states as well as a proposed ‘Human Security Volunteer Service’." To keep this formidable force within civilized bounds and to prevent it from riding roughshod over the rights of terrorists, mass murderers and nuclear proliferators, they will adhere to the European version of Asimov's Laws of Robotics.

  1. Respect the primacy of Human Rights;
  2. Act within a legal framework that is locally acceptable;
  3. Act within the framework of multilateral treaties and obligation;
  4. Adhere to the "Bottom-Up" approach, to "take account of the most basic needs identified by the people who are affected by violence and insecurity," preferably by working with non-government organizations.
  5. To act within a regional political setting whenever possible;
  6. To use law enforcement as the primary mode of fighting threats to global security. "The use of law, and particularly international law, as an instrument does not pertain just to diplomatic fora and decisions concerning whether to intervene: they are at the core of how operations should be conducted."
  7. To use force as a last resort: to be "prepared to kill in extremis, as human security forces should be. Hence, in line with principle 1 (primacy of human rights) and principle 6 (legal instruments), minimum force is key. Minimum force suggests for instance that it would be an over-reaction to kill someone who threatens violence when an arrest can be made."

Come down to brass tacks, the study proposes a three-tier force structure consisting of a headquarters in Brussels, which would "be composed of strategic planners, with a capacity for analysis of intelligence and information, and a civil-military crisis management centre, with a capacity for assessing what military and civil capabilities, both European and local, are needed in a particular crisis situation.".

The second tier would consist of 5000 personnel at a high level of readiness able to deploy within days. They would include civil-military teams and a deployable command and control headquarters. They would be on permanent standby constantly training and exercising together and ‘breathing human security’. They would be able, at short notice, to deploy ‘Human Security Task Forces’. The third tier would consist of the remaining 10,000 personnel, who would be at a lower level of readiness but nevertheless could be called on for deployment and who would periodically train and exercise together.

In keeping with the overall professional tone of the report, it does not neglect to provide for Reserves. Far from it.

"NGOs could be registered as part of the Human Security Volunteer Service, along with individuals. The Service could provide a framework for contracts with NGOs that would involve vetting to ensure that they were reliable and effective These contracts would entitle them to participate in training and exercises, as well as being deployed as part of a wider force. For private corporations, there could be a registration procedure and tenders for certain non-military tasks such as logistics or communications, but they should not form an integral part of the force."

To make all these wonderful things possible requires material support. "A deployable headquarters, a command and control system, aircraft carriers and other transportation equipment should be dedicated to the EU force ... planes, trucks, jeeps and helicopters, as well as communications systems, for example mobile phones, should be usable in a range of tasks and have both civilian and military components. They need to be compatible and interoperable both among member states and between civilian and military." Which of course, means NATO standard.

This a serious (the report was presented to EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana) exposition of the kind of security policy some European political groups actually think will work. It is a refreshing departure from the purely reactive critique of the American approach to international security. It is entirely earnest and devoid of any irony, which from my own personal point of view, makes it very frightening indeed. This is what some people actually mean when they talk about a more "sensitive" approach to fighting terrorism, one that is multilateral and nuanced.

It would be a mistake, of course, to characterize every European critic of the Bush administration's foreign policy as an adherent of the Human Security Doctrine, but it is probably fair to say that its spirit finds wide currency among them. God help us all.