Bit of a rogue’s gallery, eh?
November 29, 2009
We’ve never been that good at information warfare, I suppose.
But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.
The Soviets had an entire “active measures” department devoted to churning out anti-American dezinformatsiya.
This Mark Steyn indictment of our enablers to MAJ Hasan’s act of war reminds me that we used to have a reasonable concern for actors who wanted to overthrown our government by force.
November 24, 2009
Here’s a verrry interesting link: the Arms Control Wonk starts looking at submarine radiated noise, using US unclas documents. He comes to a conclusion I disagree with and overcompress to: because Chinese boomers are noisy, no biggie, really.
A two of trumps beats an ace of any other suit. If there’s nothing there to stop a boomer, the boomer can do what it wants. It’s a big ocean, and we don’t have the numbers we had in the 60’s. So, yeah. Useful deterrent.
Why is the Secretary of State discussing peace talks with the Taliban?
November 23, 2009
This “not publishing” does not mean what I think it means, I suppose: NYT writer says they’re not going to publish emails not meant for publication.
And relationship between the preferred narrative and perceived inconsistency in approach is I’m sure completely coincidental.
November 22, 2009
Update: Embassy denies secret talks.
If true, this is bad.
An Afghan source in Kabul reports that U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry is holding secret talks with Taliban elements headed by the movement’s foreign minister, Ahmad Mutawakil, at a secret location in Kabul. According to the source, the U.S. has offered the Taliban control of the Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, Kunar and Nuristan provinces in return for a halt to the Taliban missile attacks on U.S. bases.
Source: Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), November 22, 2009
Hat tip: Steve Schippert, who is seething.
My translation of the article, fast pass, I’m out of practice, no computer translation:
Picture caption: Afghan children look at American patrols in Paktika region yesterday
Kabul, Islamabad: (agency name)
A well-informed Afghani source confirmed details of secret discussions happening between (name?) of the Taliban movement, among them the designated minister of war, and the American ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry. (and there was agreement). The same source [said there was] complete agreement before the American ambassador party request and it resulted in US conditions for proceeding.
Ambassador Eikenberry proposed that the movement be granted sovereign
power / authority in Kandahar state and Helmand and Orzkan and Kanr and Nuristan, in exchange for the ending of attacks on American bases in Afghanistan.
November 18, 2009
Noted for later reading: an article called The Cold War Never Ended.
November 13, 2009
CDR Aboul-Enein’s finally done it. I’m going to rave about it sight unseen, based solely on his reputation.
Back in the mid-nineties, the Navy tried to build a Foreign Area Officer program. It didn’t work due to structural problems, but I was selected for the subspecialty along with a few other officers. I built a professional relationship with a few, including one guy with an unusual name who seemed to know a lot about the Middle East. As soon as I got back into port after 9/11, he was the first guy I emailed; I was worried about the potential for him to get caught up in harassment or trouble.
Turns out the opposite happened. He wound up being the guy who in the E-ring. He taught his fellow Americans about the insidious nature of islamist ideology and how normal folks in the Middle East think about warfare, a quiet, professional voice between the appeasers and the overly Jacksonian militants. This is very hard to do when so many people who oppose American values speak different things to different audiences, and lie to calm rational concerns about threat to people very willing to accept a reasonable-sounding voice. (Other officers I know have failed at this. Perhaps you remember a particularly ugly catfight between two in ’07 in the Pentagon from people who may resemble this.)
You know CDR Aboul-Enein if you took JPME II and studied the region, or were in the E-ring after 9/11, or in a variety of jobs we shall not mention here. He has written regularly in a number of publications, and has a particular skill in reviewing a book and giving you the essence of what’s going on–and he does that with books in Arabic that normally we would have no idea about. I’ve learned a lot about the region from his scholarship–and this has served me well when I got yanked from my previous warfare community into FAO work in the Middle East, where I’m deployed.
So he’s a friend of mine. I trust his instincts and read what he has to write.
And the guy snuck up on me and finally wrote a book. This is actually a book that could put him and his family at risk: not only the overheated response from the “kill ’em all” crowd, but also the risk from the irhabi types who will see the book pop up on their radar. It’s a summary of years of work he’s done, looking at who these people we’re fighting are. How do these people think? What’s the pump that draws from the pool of normal people and spits out these jerks? What’s the scholarship trail?
Here’s the book, published by USNI. Admiral Stavridis has written the foreword. Can’t get much higher recommendation than that.
November 10, 2009
It might be interesting to ship a few of these to interesting places if the support structure could be in place.
November 9, 2009
I first saw this little movie in the Canadian Embassy for some reason. I knew about it because Norman McLaren is an animation pioneer, and the classic Kit Laybourne book (The Animation Book) had a section on the unorthodox techniques used to make the film.
Plus you’ve got Oscar Peterson’s trio playing, so you win there too.
One of the things I post on Twitter, by the way. It’s a lot easier to put the link up there, really.
November 8, 2009
Oh now this is heartening: check out the new man for Iran.
A description of the major who killed at Fort Hood.
So, I’ve been looking into the ops going on at the Yemeni border. Something reminded me of the losing side of the Hama massacre, and I mentioned that to a counterpart. Counterpart tells me he visited Hama, and claims it took at least six days of continuously shooting people in order for Hafiz Assad’s army to kill every man, woman and child in the town.
Here’s my 2006 analysis of Al-Qaeda’s lessons learned for the failed ops that culminated in the massacre. The reason Hama came up in my mind is because three unrelated organizations, covertly sponsored by Iraq, came together despite strong differences to try and take over the country. A lot of innocents died because of their combined effort and the reaction of the Assad regime. Yemen has unrelated organizations, and I assert they are working together and there’s trouble brewing beyond this week’s combat operations.
The northern Yemeni border is a mountainous and hard-to-navigate territory with a mix of tribal people who live on both sides of the border. The region also holds gun runners, drug smugglers, human traffickers, desperate refugees, hardened fighters, ultraviolent religious extremists, Houthieen, Al-Qaeda, and even (it is rumored) insurance salesmen.
Okay, maybe not the insurance salesmen. But I wouldn’t be surprised.
A ‘humanitarian crisis worse than Darfur‘? In Yemen. That US Army major that shot fifty people and killed over a dozen in Fort Hood? His imam’s in Yemen. The AQ leaders we released from Guantanamo? They’re in Yemen. More than one official says the Iranian Republican Guard is supporting ops in Yemen, and I don’t think it’s merely a Sunni vs. Shi’a acrimony driving that analysis. The hirabi escaping from Pakistan are moving into Yemen.
Even if the current ops calm down soon, this ain’t going to go away soon. Time to start looking close at this region, folks.
November 5, 2009
November 4, 2009
An art movie to end all art movies. Some highlights from the review:
Since the days of Un Chien Andalou and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, filmmakers have reached beyond meaning. But with this summer’s biggest, loudest movie, Michael Bay takes us all the way inside Caligari’s cabinet. And once you enter, you can never emerge again. I saw this movie two days ago, and I’m still living inside it. Things are exploding wherever I look, household appliances are trying to kill me, and bizarre racial stereotypes are shouting at me.
And every single performance is so ridiculous that it looks down on “over the top” as if from a great height.
So, to sum up: Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen is one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinema, if not the greatest. You could easily argue that cinema, as an artform, has all been leading up to this.
November 3, 2009
An FPRI analysis of the flow of foreign fighters and how to mess with it, recommending a holistic approach.
Michael Yon has been stirring up trouble over at the New York Times. Someone has to…