Thursday, September 13, 2007

Serious blather

Rightist "think tank", the IISS has given its yearly global review, and, as so often with the IISS,it's looking at a different world from the rest of us.

Let's look at the points, as noted by the Guardian:

1/ AQ has revived...

AQ has changed. The original organisation, such as it was, has been more or less destroyed. But what has happened is that a bunch of fellow travellers are now describing themselves as AQ. This is like dismantling the Republican party, making Bush and Cheney fugitives, and executing most of its members, and then claiming it has revived because the Libertarian party starts calling itself the Republicans.

2/ ... and spread...

For the same reasons, this is not true. The notion of AQ has spread, but there isn't much sign that operationally AQ has grown, or even exists at all in the form it once did. A few videos from Osama (or pseudo Osama, whatever) do not mean that AQ is back in business.

3/ ... has the capacity to carry out another spectacular, like 9/11.

Dude, I have that capacity, as does anyone with an imagination. I think the planning of 9/11 has been very overstated. It may not have been ultra-simple but there was no great need for materials and the plan was not all that complicated. Most other AQ operations have been similar: they've involved daring but haven't been huge in scope.

4. There is increasing evidence "that 'core' al-Qaida is proving adaptable and resilient, and has retained an ability to plan and coordinate large-scale attacks in the western world despite the attrition it has suffered"

There isn't much evidence of that at all. I'm guessing that if I read the IISS report, I wouldn't see any either. It's a key fault of the IISS. They make a thesis and then spin whatever they can find to fit. If they can't find anything, no worries. Absence of evidence and all that. Just bung in a "perhaps" or a "maybe" and you're sweet.

5. "The threat from Islamist terrorism remains as high as ever, and looks set to get worse"

Does it? How high was it and how high is it? It's hard to say. And high compared with what? For much of the world, the risk of being invaded by the States is much higher.

6. "The US and its allies have failed to deal a death blow to al-Qaida; the organisation's ideology appears to have taken root to such a degree that it will require decades to eradicate"

We never were going to. The ideology is not something AQ invented. It's a reaction to modernity that is widely felt in the Islamic world. And we will not deal it a "death blow" by attacking Islamic states. We will only strengthen and nourish it. I suppose IISS are not saying that we could have finished it, but that is the implication of this quote.

I don't think we will ever "eradicate" AQ's ideology. It may well wither over time, or be defeated from within (there are signs of a split in Islamist thought, because some militants have started to say, well, actually, the Qur'an does not urge us to murder everyone who doesn't agree with us -- and of course it doesn't).

7. Iran could have a nuclear weapon by 2009 or 2010, though this remains the "worst-case prediction"

IOW, though we pulled that out of our arse.

8. the US suffered a loss of authority as a result of the failure to impose order in Iraq. "The strategic hole the US found itself in [in 2007] did not have any obvious escape"

Except just leaving. Ultimately, that would work. The IISS of course is a "Serious" establishment, and the idea that just not attacking people you don't like is worth considering doesn't appeal to them. Neither does accepting that we are fucked in Iraq, and getting unfucked is as easy as leaving the place to its own devices. Of course, that doesn't unfuck Iraq, but neither does hanging around like a bad smell, shooting locals.

9. there are serious doubts about the ability of Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, but any replacement would probably come too late to "halt the draining of American willpower to 'stay the course' "

Talk about blaming the victim! Al-Maliki is very able. He's doing exactly what those who back him want. Do the IISS really not understand that? He was elected to push Shia interests and to provide political cover for the Shia groupings affiliated with his party, and he's doing a bang-up job of that. He never had the least hope of unifying the country, which has been smashed into pieces, and suggesting he is not able because he can't is ridiculous. American willpower is being drained because even the dumbest have begun to twig that the US is achieving nothing in Iraq and isn't likely to -- and it's costing a ton of blood and treasure to achieve it.

10. that if climate change is allowed to continue unchecked, its affects will be catastrophic "on the level of nuclear war"

Even a blind squirrel etc.


At 6:57 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

The problem has never been AQ specifically, or their specific goals and methods. Their methods are not that different from those Che Guevara (whose name I've probably mispelled) used and wrote about in the '50s, except that they as individuals seem a little more willing and ready to die rather than just fight.

The problem is hatred, why it exists, and who it is pointed toward. Some cultures and countries are hateable. Is that a word, hateable?

Visit parts of America and you are bound to love them, visit other parts and you are bound to hate them; unfortunately Hollywood and DC are a couple of the more hateable spots in the country.

It's a shame the US won't elect an isolationist, it could do the country some good to close the door and take a get-your-shit-together break.

At 7:04 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Dude, they are nothing like Che. Not even close. Che was old school.


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