Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cooking the books for a war on Iran

Over at Talking Points Memo Matthew Yglesias points out that the Republicans are now openly attempting to influence the Intelligence Agencies to offer "analysis" of their collected data that is biased towards justifying another war in the Middle East rather than simply stating what the available evidence actually proves. The similarity with what the same Republicans attempted with Intelligence prior to the so-called "preemptive war" (actually an unnecessary attack on Iraq) is quite blatant.

Yesterday, Matthew also blogged about the strange new term being pushed by the war-hawks of the right-wing Republicans, and recently picked up by George W. Bush. That term is "IslamoFascism" or "Islamic Fascism." This, I think, shows the mind set of the American right-wingers and NeoCons.

The implication of the word "fascism" is of an authoritarian and militaristic nation-state. The implication of the word "Islamic" (or Islamo-") is very clearly anyone who is Muslim. So the use of the term IslamoFascism incorproates all nations which are predominently Muslim and all the violent extremists which those nations contain -- and also, by implication, which those nations protect and support.

Now think about the Bush/Cheney reaction to 9/11. America was attacked by 19 airplane highjackers trained and supported by a small, rabid group of non-state and non-state supported religious extremists. Al Qaeda used the failed state of Afghanistan for a training ground, but was not supported by any government. Al Qaeda has been supported to some extent in Afghanistan by the Pakistani military intelligence agency (ISI).

The first move Bush/Cheney actually took in response to 9/11 was to turn the operation over to the CIA as lead agency and to go in to take control of Afghanistan and remove the Taliban and al Qaeda from what control they had in that failed state. But bin Laden was allowed to escape at Tora Bora because of too few American troops being provided. Almost simultaneously with the CIA directed attack on Afghanistan, Bush/Cheney redirected the American efforts and most resources to the attack on the nation state of Iraq under the direction of the Department of Defense and Rumsfeld.

The reason for the attack on Iraq was that Cheney in particular considers terrorism to be something that must be state-sponsored, and that to get at the terrorists the easiest way is to go after the state that supports and directs their terrorist actions.

This is Cold War thinking. Claire Sterling wrote at least two books rather convincing which purported to describe the terrorist activities in the 1970's and 1980's as being directed by the USSR. Terrorism was considered as a tool of assymetric warfare used by weaker states against much stronger states. But even during that period the Palestine Liberation Organization under Arrafat was becoming an organization independent of state control. The PLO took resources and money from various states and individuals, but after the Israeli Army kicked them out of Lebanon they were financed from numerous sources independent from each other, and were self-directed.

Al Qaeda has taken this model. They are an independent non-state supported organization. They operate in areas of various nation states that are outside the control of the central government such as the borderland between Afghanistan and Pakistan, or some of the less controlled areas of Indonesia such as Aceh was before the Tsumani hit it. These are areas nominally under the control of central governments, so that for an outside nation to cross the national border and performing police work against these bandits would be considered an act of war against the central government, but the central government cannot go in and do the needed police work themselves.

In the area of Pakistan next to Afghanistan (North and South Wiziristan and other Pushtan areas) is such an area. When the Pakistanis government was finally convinced to try to go get control, they lost over 600 troops. At the moment there is a truce. The U.S. does not want to go in there either, because the American troop losses would be high and the blow to prestige of the national government would of permitting American operations there could well cause Musharrif to be overthrown.

There is also a strong possibility that a resurgent Taliban may take over the Southern provinces of Afghanistan. Since this is the main poppy growing area with a lot of revenue from heroin, they could well become an independent state within a state much like the FARC.

The Bush/Cheney admininstration reveal their "state-sponserships is required for a terrorist organization" mentality when they make the unfounded claim that Hezbollah was "directed" by Iran (or Syria) to attack the Israeli troops in Northern Israel. This same idea is behind their hectoring of Intelligence analysts for "cautious assesments" - that is for not offering Intelligence analysis of known facts which supports their bias.

The problem is that control of these relatively independent terrorist organizations is much more difficult than using our military against some rogue state which can be identified and attacked. The difficulty was demonstrated right after 9/11 when the invasion of Afghanistan was controlled by the DIA as the central government agency rather than by the DoD.

Cheney and Rumsfeld both have low regard for the CIA and for most of the Intelligence community because those agencies report the more complex and messy reality. Such messiness does not make it easy to simply send in ground troops with air support.

So when you hear someone use the term "Islamofascism", this is an over-simplification of large orders of magnitude that will be used to direct military forces againstvarious targets. Unfortunatley, those will usually be the wrong targets.

The result of such ignorance will be to create more terrorists, not fewer, just as America's preemptive invasion of Iraq has created a failed state and turned it over to various terrorist groups and militias.

But not all terrorism is by independent terrorist groups. Some are in fact state-sponsored. But they are state-sponsored only as long as they want to be, until the terrorist group decides it has different goals from the state they are associated with. The availablity of funding, weapons, and training locations in a globalized world makes it relatively easy for such groups to become independent from a sponsoring state. Carlos the Jackel and Abu Nidal both started out as Communist-sponsored terrorists, but ended up as independent terrorists.

Back to the term "IslamoFascism." Language is a model of reality. It is only a model, not reality itself. As S. I. Hiakawa pointed out, "The map is not the territory." Another truism is that any model that is designed to control something which is real must be at least as complicated at the reality it is intended to control. That's why complex situations cannot be adequately controlled by simple solutions. Simplicity offers easy answers to problems, but does so by ignoring most of the causes and potential outcomes of those problems. Such simplicity is very dangerous and usually wrong.

Conservatism holds as a truism that there are simple solutions to everything they find troubling. The result is that Conservatives are by definition wrong. Essentially the term "IslamoFascism", besides being offensive to Muslims, is misleading and wrong.

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