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OT: Stratfor Geopolitical Intelligence Report


Mr. Twang

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I get these Stratfor reports every so often, and they're really interesting. A really objective view of the current state of affairs.

 

http://www.stratfor.com/

 

Four Years On:

Who is Winning the War, and How Can Anyone Tell?

'By George Friedman

 

Four years have passed since al Qaeda attacked the United States. It is difficult to remember a war of which the status has been more difficult to assess. Indeed, there are reasonable people who argue that the conflict between the United States and al Qaeda is not a war at all, and that thinking of it in those terms obscures reality. Other reasonable people argue that it is only in thinking in terms of war that the conflict makes sense -- and these people then divide into groups: those who believe the

United States is winning and those who believe it is losing the war. Into this confusion we must add the question of whether the Iraq war is part of what U.S. President George W. Bush refers to as the "war on terrorism" and what others might call the war against al Qaeda. Even the issues are not clear. It is a war in which no one can agree even on the criteria for

success or failure, or at times, who is on what side.

 

Let us begin with what we all -- save for those who believe that the Sept. 11 attacks were a plot hatched by the U.S. government to justify the Patriot Act -- can agree on:

 

1. Al Qaeda attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, by hijacking aircraft and crashing or trying to crash them into well-known buildings.

2. Since Sept. 11, there have been al Qaeda attacks in Europe and several Muslim countries, but not in the United States.

3. The United States invaded Afghanistan a month after the strikes against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -- forcing the Taliban government out of the major cities, but not defeating them. The United States has failed to capture Osama bin Laden, although it captured other key al Qaeda operatives. The Taliban has regrouped and is now conducting an insurgency

in Afghanistan.

4. The United States invaded Iraq in 2003. The Bush administration claimed that this was part of the war against al Qaeda; critics have claimed it had nothing to do with the war.

5. The United States failed to win the war rapidly, as it had expected to do. Instead, U.S. forces encountered a difficult guerrilla war that, while confined generally to the Sunni regions, nevertheless posed serious military and political challenges.

6. Al Qaeda has failed to achieve its primary political goal -- that is, to trigger an uprising in at least one major Muslim country and create a jihadist regime. There has been no general rising in the Muslim world, and most governments are now cooperating with the United States.

7. There have been no follow-on attacks in the United States since Sept. 11. Whether this is because al Qaeda had no plans for a second attack or because subsequent attacks were disrupted by U.S. intelligence is not clear.

 

From the beginning, then, it has been unclear whether the United States saw itself as fighting a war against al Qaeda or as carrying out a criminal investigation. The two are, of course, enormously different. This is a critical problem.

 

The administration's use of the term "war on terrorism" began the

confusion. Terrorism is a mode of warfare. Save for those instances when lunatics like Timothy McVeigh use it as an end in itself, terrorism is a method of intimidating the civilian population in order to drive a wedge between the public and their government. Al Qaeda, then, had a political purpose in using terrorism, as did the British in their nighttime bombing of Germany or the Germans in their air raids against London. The problem in

the Bush administration's use of this term is that you do not age a war against a method of warfare. A war is waged against an enemy force.

 

It is odd to raise these points at the beginning of an analysis of a war, but no war can be fought when there isn't even clarity about what it is you are doing, let alone who you are fighting. Yet that is precisely how this war evolved, and then degenerated into conceptual chaos. The whole issue also got bound up with internal name-calling, to the point that any assertion that Bush had some idea of what he was doing was seen as outrageous partisanship, and the assertion that Bush was failing in what he

was doing was viewed the same way. Where there is no clarity, there can be no criteria for success or failure. That is the crisis today. No one agrees as to what is happening; therefore, no one can explain who is winning or losing.

 

Out of this situation came the deeper confusion: Iraq. From the beginning, it was not clear why the United States invaded Iraq. The Bush administration offered three explanations: First, that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; second, that Iraq was complicit with al Qaeda; and finally, that a democratic Iraq -- and creation of a democratic Muslim world -- would help to stop terrorism (or more precisely, al Qaeda).

 

The three explanations were untenable on their face. Contrary to myth, the Bush administration did not rush to go to war in Iraq. The administration had been talking about it for nearly a year before the invasion began. That would not have been the case if there truly was a fear that the Iraqis might be capable of building atomic bombs, since they might hurry up and build them. You don't give a heads-up in that situation. The United States did. Hence, it wasn't about WMD. Second, it wasn't about Iraq's terrorist ties. Saddam Hussein had no problem with the concept of terrorism, but he was an ideological enemy of everything bin Laden stood for. Hussein was a secular militarist; bin Laden, a religious ideologue. Cooperation between them wasn't likely, and pointing to obscure meetings that Mohammed Atta may or may not have had with an Iraqi in Prague didn't make the case. Finally,

the democracy explanation came late in the game. Bush had campaigned against nation-building in places like Kosovo -- and if he now believed in nation-building as a justification for war, it meant he stood with Bill Clinton. He dodged that criticism, though, because the media couldn't remember Kosovo or spell it any more by the time Iraq rolled around.

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Continued:

Bush's enemies argued that he invaded Iraq in order to (a) avenge the fact that Hussein had tried to kill his father; (b) as part of a long-term strategy planned years before to dominate the Middle East; © to dominate all of the oil in Iraq; (d) because he was a bad man or (e) just because. The fact was that his critics had no idea why he did it and generated fantastic theories because they couldn't figure it out any more than Bush could explain it.

Stratfor readers know our view was that the invasion of Iraq was intended to serve three purposes:

1. To bring pressure on the Saudi government, which was allowing Saudis to funnel money to al Qaeda, to halt this enablement and to cooperate with U.S. intelligence. The presence of U.S. troops to the north of Saudi Arabia was intended to drive home the seriousness of the situation.
2. To take control of the most strategic country in the Middle East -- Iraq borders seven critical countries -- and to use it as a base of operations against other countries that were cooperating with al Qaeda.
3. To demonstrate in the Muslim world that the American reputation for weakness and indecisiveness -- well-earned in the two decades prior to the Sept. 11 attacks -- was no longer valid. The United States was aware that the invasion of Iraq would enrage the Muslim world, but banked on it also frightening them.

Let's put it this way: The key to understanding the situation was that Bush wanted to blackmail the Saudis, use Iraq as a military base and terrify Muslims. He wanted to do this, but he did not want to admit this was what he was doing. He therefore provided implausible justifications, operating under the theory that a rapid victory brushes aside troubling questions. Clinton had gotten out of Kosovo without explaining why signs of genocide were never found, because the war was over quickly and everyone was sick of it. Bush figured he would do the same thing in Iraq.

It was precisely at this point that the situation got out of control. The biggest intelligence failure of the United States was not 9-11 -- only Monday morning quarterbacks can claim that they would have spotted al Qaeda's plot and been able to block it. Nor was the failure to find WMD in Iraq. Not only was that not the point, but actually, everyone was certain that Hussein at least had chemical weapons. Even the French believed he did. The biggest mistake was the intelligence that said that the Iraqis wouldn't fight, that U.S. forces would be welcomed or at least not greeted
hostilely by the Iraqi public, and that the end of the conventional combat would end the war.

That was the really significant intelligence failure. Hussein, or at least some of his key commanders, had prepared for a protracted guerrilla war. They knew perfectly well that the United States would crush their conventional forces, so they created the material and financial basis for a protracted guerrilla war. U.S. intelligence did not see this coming, and thus had not prepared the U.S. force for fighting the guerrilla war. Indeed, if they had known this was coming, Bush might well have calculated differently on invading Iraq -- since he wasn

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Originally posted by Mr. Twang


That was the really significant intelligence failure. Hussein, or at least some of his key commanders, had prepared for a protracted guerrilla war. They knew perfectly well that the United States would crush their conventional forces, so they created the material and financial basis for a protracted guerrilla war. U.S. intelligence did not see this coming, and thus had not prepared the U.S. force for fighting the guerrilla war. Indeed, if they had known this was coming, Bush might well have calculated differently on invading Iraq -- since he wasn

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Originally posted by Sir H C

So I guess it has been decided Al Qaeda was not involved in the Anthrax attacks which happened after 9/11 and were terrorist attacks on American soil.

 

 

I don't know if it's been decided as much as assumed. Can't really go any further with that until there's proof, right?

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Originally posted by Mr. Twang



I don't know if it's been decided as much as assumed. Can't really go any firther with that until there's proof, right?

 

 

Except they seem to explicitly state that there have been no Al Qaeda attacks in the US since 9/11. No hedging there which leads me to think there is more information known than we the public hear.

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Seems like a pretty accurate and fair assesment of the situation.

Considering this administrations general inability to do anything right, I'm not surprised at all they didn't anticipate a homegrown insurgency after the war. After all, sticking an American flag pin on their coats and talking about freedom certainly got everybody on their side here after 9/11, so why not assume the poor oppressed Iraqi's would do the same. Whowuddathunkit???

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Originally posted by Kriegsemann



fine... name one thing this administration HAS done right.



They made an excellent choice in John Roberts for the Supreme Court for one.

The U.S. hasn't had a domestic terrorist attack since September 11, 2001.

There, that's two.

:p

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.

pretty fair assessment - but i'd consider a few points pretty invalid.

the fact that the U.S. was viewed as weak and indecisive before 9/11 -
how does entering conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo theaters, sustaining few combat casualties, and capturing and prosecuting leading war criminals paint us as "weak?"

how many mass graves did they have to uncover before it crossed over from "civil war" to "genocide?" either way, the UN and the countries involved asked for American intervention, and we complied.

the fact that there have been no terrorist attacks on american soil since 9/11. Al Queda and other extremist groups now doesn't even have to make this sort of costly effort to demoralize the americans and their allies by attacking on our soil - they can now bleed us literally, and financially from their own backyard.

why WOULD they attempt an attack in this country?
the original attack on 9/11 took 6 years to coordinate to kill roughly 3200 people and dip the stock markets. they now can spend mere days or weeks coordinating a multifront attack that costs Iraq literally hundreds of citizens a month, and america over a thousand troops a year, and billions every month.

aside from erring on the side of caution, why should we even assume they wish to expend this much effort to punish us here? financially and logistically it makes no sense for a small group with diminishing funds.

does this make sense?

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Bah. Baseless claims are what its all about gentlemen. This IS the internet after all...

I will give them props for John Roberts.

How many years between the first and second WTC attacks? 6? I'd say its too soon to give them credit for protecting the homeland from terror. Those bastards, if anything, are certainly patient.

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Originally posted by sonaboy

.

why WOULD they attempt an attack in this country?

the original attack on 9/11 took 6 years to coordinate to kill roughly 3200 people and dip the stock markets. they now can spend mere days or weeks coordinating a multifront attack that costs Iraq literally hundreds of citizens a month, and america over a thousand troops a year, and billions every month.


aside from erring on the side of caution, why should we even assume they wish to expend this much effort to punish us here? financially and logistically it makes no sense for a small group with diminishing funds.


does this make sense?

 

 

Yes. Some media are already planting the seeds that Iraq may be the $1T war. Both right and left non-mainstream news.

 

Anyhow. A major reason the US was attacked was our military presence in Saudi Arabia. Even Wolfowitz has said that. Now we are just a presence in Iraq. If al Jazeera is the only mouthpiece that promotes this with success, maybe it isn't that they are supporting the terrorists as much as showing the Arab people reinforcement of the already in place perception of reality. Seems like that our hanging out in Iraq is an even more powerful recruitment tool for all of the Middle East, including more secular people than "abstractions" of the "devil" on a small part of the "Holy Land". Remember a simular sort of "abstraction" made us fight the British until they gave up empire with the Americas. Then later the British were thrown out of Iraq. There is no example in the history of mankind that an occupier can occupy for very long without bleeding themselves dry of resources. We did push to the Soviet Union to economic collapse with proxy wars in Afghanistan that happened to also create the very group we call al Qaeda.

 

I hate saying all this crap cause it seems very partisan. After listening to congressman Ron Paul today I know I am not trying to just be a Liberal chode, cause he is conservative and happened to be saying alot of things I just said. Just seems that nobody wants to connect the dots with history. I'd like to say I feel more safe now as a result of all done so far, but every airplane that flies in over my head low I wait to hear an explosion. It is a pretty crappy way to make it through the day. I can't imagine how worrying about a bomb or a bullet every minute of the day would harden me into something nasty. It is a feedback loop.

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Somebody earlier today on another site said that if you were to compare the history of America to the history of Rome, we'd be moving the Imperial seat to Constantinople right about now. Ouch.

Hopefully Iraq won't become the Afghanistan of the new millenium.

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Originally posted by Wilbo26

Somebody earlier today on another site said that if you were to compare the history of America to the history of Rome, we'd be moving the Imperial seat to Constantinople right about now. Ouch.


Hopefully Iraq won't become the Afghanistan of the new millenium.

 

 

I think that's Iran's destiny.

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Originally posted by Mr. Twang



They made an excellent choice in John Roberts for the Supreme Court for one.


The U.S. hasn't had a domestic terrorist attack since September 11, 2001.


There, that's two.


:p



Again. Anthrax. Domestic. Terrorist. Post 9/11.

DC snipers. Terrorist. Domestic. Post 9/11.

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