America's Flawed Approach to the Global War on Terror

Terrorism or Insurgency:

America's Flawed Approach to the Global

War on Terror

by Jon C. Couch

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America is not fighting a global war on terror; rather, it is engaged in a global

insurgency whose participants are intent on destroying western culture and replacing

it with an Islamic Caliph -- or Islamic government.  For centuries, insurgencies

and other forms of strife have plagued the global community.  Likewise, terrorists

claimed center stage for high profile acts attributed to this asymmetric type of

warfare; most notably the bombings on September 11, 2001, as well as earlier attacks

on US embassies in Africa.  The problem is that the United States has incorrectly

coined the current conflict the global war on terror when the term global

insurgency more closely describes the conflict. The present global environment,

complete with the technologies available (to the United States and its enemies)

and the strategic decisions made by the United States of how to counter these threats

will shape America's future, positively or negatively.  If the correct threat

is realized and that threat's correct center of gravity chosen for attack, as well

as a correct long term strategies and policies chosen and applied, America could

very well succeed in this conflict. If, on the other hand, the incorrect threat

and center of gravity are pursued resulting in the wrong strategy being chosen;

America will fare poorly in the current conflict, and may very well lose the conflict.

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the full article

Jon Couch enlisted in the USMC in 1979. Mr. Couch originally trained to be

an amphibious Reconnaissance Marine and then in 1982 changed his job specialty to

Intelligence Analyst and later Special Forces Survival Instructor. Mr. Couch went

on to serve in aviation and logistical units before being medically retired at twenty

years active service. After retiring, Mr. Couch worked as a contractor at the Marine

Corps' MAGTF Staff Training Program. Since 2003, he has been working at the Joint

Personnel Recovery Agency as a Personnel Recovery Instructor, Observer-Trainer,

Supervisory Intelligence Analyst, and Course Manager for the Intelligence Support

to Personnel Recovery Course.

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Comments

A Muslim:

I think the point you miss is that Mubarak has never worked on behalf of America, or to advance American interests. His sole concern has always been his own interests. Sometimes those interests might have coincided with American and/or Egyptian interests - the cessation of hostilities with Israel was clearly in the best interest of all three - but that is coincidence, not puppetry. Mubarak is for Mubarak. Along the way, he has quite successfully worked a succession of US administration, getting much and giving away nothing that he wanted to keep.

It would be a huge error to assume that in international relationships the larger and more powerful party is always in control. Many long-serving dictators (just sticking with the letter M, Marcos and Musharraf readily come to mind as examples) have very successfully manipulated American hopes and fears to gain American support for their reign and their policies, even when that reign and those policies were not necessarily even in America's interests. One might argue that Israel has done the same. Rather like an elephant and a mahout... the stronger party is not necessarily the master.

Americans, alas, are all too easy to manipulate. Tell them what they want to hear, put your hand out, and watch the dollars flow...

Dayuhan:

My point is: there is no relationship in the world that does not involve both parties acting in what 'seems' to be in their interests under any given set of conditions.

Even a slave is acting in his interests by obeying his master. When he obeys he gets fed. When he disobeys he is beaten.

Do we postulate that the master is actually a tool in the hand of the slave because the slave manipulates him into giving him a job and feeding him??

Your definition has made puppetry a figment of one's imagination, so long as it can simply be discounted by proving that at least one of the actors is acting upon even the most bizarre of interests.

Yes, Hezbollah is a puppet of Iran and Syria.

And my own rant about this rant:

http://criticalppp.com/archives/10553

Since we have moved far enough into the surreal realm of the caliphate, I am now justified in posting Professor MBokhari's excellent variation on Monty Python's dead parrot sketch. Enjoy.

http://mbokhari.pkpolitics.com/2009/09/30/the-dead-parrot/

Btw, Khali lifafah is a play on the world Khalifah. Khalifah being the original of Caliph and Khali lifafah being Urdu/Hindi for "empty envelope".

You would have to demonstrate control and use to justify that argument. Would you care to do so?

As I said above, I can't see how a state acting in its own interest can be considered a puppet, even if it holds those interests in common with other states. Action in accordance with common interest does not imply control, it's a normal part of state-to-state relations.

Would you say that Hezbollah is a puppet of Iran? After all, Hezbollah's war with Israel was certainly not in Lebanon's interests... whose interest then was being advanced?

Dayuhan:

Puppet: a person, group, state, etc, that appears independent but is in fact controlled by another.

Or a person who is controlled by others and is used to perform unpleasant or dishonest tasks for someone else.

Or one whose behavior is determined by the will of others.

Or a political leader installed, supported and controlled by more powerful forces, without legitimacy in the country itself. In modern times, this usually implies no democratic mandate from the country's electorate

I say to Mubarak...if the shoe fits wear it bay-ay-ay-by!

I wonder if we could get an internet poll about this. I'm sure I'd win this one.

I'm curious to know, how can anyone be a puppet? By your definition, it is the same as trying to prove that there are invisible purple elephants.

Possibly thee are fewer puppets than you imagined. I don't see how that's a problem, unless of course you've adopted a preconceived view of the world that requires their existence.

I don't see how a state can be called a puppet for acting in it's own interest. Do you? If you find my definition of puppetry unsatisfactory, perhaps you should provide us with your own.

I don't see that the history of Israel is relevant to this discussion. For Mubarak, and for the various American administrations with which he has dealt, Israel was a pre-existing reality, a situation that had to be managed. States do not deal with what should be, they deal with what is. I'm sure that Mubarak privately wishes that the Jewish State had been set up on Long Island, and I'm sure many American Presidents have privately wished the same. None of us, however, have the capacity to reverse time and undo decisions past.

I'm not a great fan of Mubarak, and I'd not say he's done well by his own people, but that's not because he's an American puppet: he acts in his own interest, not America's. Certainly I don't see how anyone can argue that the decision to stop fighting the Israelis was not in Egypt's best interests.

As far as Israel's imminent demise goes, you may find it less than imminent. It seems to me that the Israelis are in better shape than they've been in a long time, and that they need Western help less than ever before. They face no existential threat, indeed no threat at all that they can't manage on their own.

Of course if the Caliphate arrives they may have a problem, but I suspect that they fear that eventuality even less than I do. Certainly it doesn't seem "imminent", at least not by any standard of imminence with which I'm familiar.

MAJ K:

I feel like we are aggressively agreeing with each other.

Regardless of whether it was miraculous or not, it can happen, and it did, and it does, and it will.

The rest of the points are an aside.

A Muslim,

Your now apparent anti-Semitism aside, I'll get back to your question directed to me which is by now, way off the original topic of this initial post. But I'll bite.

What you call a miraculous movement I call an insurgency. The Roman Empire was ill-equipped and couldn't govern to the requirements and satisfaction of its disparate populations. They revolted and in trying to cope with it, the Empire crumbled. Jesus, like Ghandi, might have begun a non-violent movement to throw off an oppressor's yokes, but it was an insurgency nonetheless. Miraculous? Fine, if you want to call it that. I owe it to something a little more tangible - the hard work of human endeavor.

The Holy Roman Empire, "the Vatican," was only able to maintain the new system of governance through a religious-based autocracy, intimidation, excommunication, and death. Until people fought back. The same goes for the various Muslim caliphates who operated the same way. If minorities wouldn't convert or pay the tax to maintain their separate religion, they were expelled or killed. Jews were luckier under the various Islamic caliphs than at the hands of the Byzantine or Orthodox Christians, but other religions under Islamic law, outside of those of the 'people of the book,' weren't so lucky. And the spread of Islam is as bloody as the spread of any major religion throughout history. Don't try and sugarcoat it with miracles of a 'true messages' and 'peace.' Unfortunately conquest, for glory of throne, god, or greed, always run the same course as far as the people being subjugated care.

Not so miraculous in any case. It always boils down to pure power politics. Which is what any hypothetical regeneration of the caliphate will be based on. And politics (interests) are furthered by war (or oppression) when the opposite party resists. Pure and simple.

Dayuhan:

It's conversation's like this that make me realize how Israel has been able to survive in the midst of so many enemies for so long.

You are trying to throw some magical fairy dust in everyone's eyes to make the oppressor look like the oppressed.

It's like the lady who kills all of her children and then gets a crazy-check because the Devil made her do it!

Hyperventilation aside...

don't you realize that Israel is a product of the West??

It was constructed by the West, propped up by the West (during the Arab/Israeli wars), and is currently being protected from imminent demise by the West (despite the oppression it deals to the Muslims).

So when Mubarak wants to save his OWN hide (not the hides of the Muslims that he has thrown into his lovely penthouse dungeons to West's joy) from a monster that the West placed in his closet...he is not a slave to interests of the West. No no no. In fact, he is on top.

If you mean he is winning the rat race, I could agree.

But he's still a rat.

I'm curious to know, how can anyone be a puppet? By your definition, it is the same as trying to prove that there are invisible purple elephants.

A Muslim:

Slow down, you're hyperventilating and I haven't the slightest idea what you're trying to say.

The US paid the Egyptians billions of dollars to stop sticking their heads in a meatgrinder. How exactly is that a bad deal for Egypt? If you can persuade someone to pay you not to do something you don't want to do in the first place, I'd say you're one up on them.

Perhaps you could explain - calmly, one hopes - what exactly the Egyptians have done to please America that wasn't in their own interest to do?

And yes, America gets manipulated... by practically everybody. Haven't you noticed our inclination in the recent past to fling money and guns to anyone who complained of communists in their neighborhood, and to do the same in the present for anyone who sees terrorists under their bed? Don't you think that rather peculiar tendency gets taken advantage of here and there?

MAJ K:

Nice to have you back on board.

I will just have to rewind my broken record for a bit to respond to a general point that you brought up.

Conflicts of interests have always existed, and huge miraculous movements have always seem to overcome them.

Since you may not fully comprehend my analogies to the times of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), lets take the Christians for instance.

Would anyone have said that Jesus (peace be upon him) would be able to spread his religion far and wide enough that one of the most powerful empires one earth would ascribe to it (the Roman Empire)??

Jesus was often preaching to the 'meek,' in the face of oppression from Caesar (the secular power of the time) and the Pharisees (the religious authority of the time).

According to Christians, he was even KILLED on the cross along with many of his followers!!

The Jews to this day do not believe he was a prophet or a savior or anything of that nature because of such things.

But who was victorious in the end?

The story of Muhammad (peace be upon him) is even more miraculous and his followers also managed to preserve his true message without the distortion of people like Constantine.

Once again, I urge you to read up on this.

A Muslim,

I don't believe anyone here has said a Caliphate is necessarily a bad thing. This isn't 11th century Europe after all. In fact, over and over again, multiple people said that, in theory, any successful attempt to stabilize the polity and economics of the broader Middle East would most likely have more benefits than threats. But in theory doesn't mean in reality.

The American colonies of the 18th century did unite together with only one major hiccup. It was an ongoing and open debate among the founders; an open and ongoing debate that continues to this day on how to make it work and keep it together for the health of the Republic. I'm not saying our style of government is necessary to unite a disparate people, but given the health of today's 'umma,' I just can't see a unification of its members while so many fundamental differences exist: Shari'a or Enlightenment; closed society or open; homogeneity or heterogeneity; etc. All these things need to be worked out, in the micro sense of a specific community before the macro caliphate could coalesce.

But it still gets back to national interests in my opinion. Once people are in power, they tend to want to stay in power. Just ask any president, American, or Egyptian, or Afghan alike. We're all the same because we're all human. Each country defines and understands its own interests in their own contexts. If that central aspect of human nature can be overcome, the Caliphate could stand a chance. And again, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

One more thing though; "Isn't that a little too much backscratching from America for Egypt doing something in ITS OWN interests?"

$20B seems like a pretty hefty national interest to me. Years of payment to foreign governments just simply outweighed the political backlash he might have received for allying with the US for a specific reason. Costs and benefits. Just like all other interests.

Dayuhan:

Extra! Extra! Read all about it...

I can see this new narrative now:

EGYPT IS MANIPULATING AMERICAN POLICY AT THE COST OF AMERICA, ISRAEL, AND THE MUSLIMS

Its sensational.

Just because a slave does not get beaten when he obeys his master, just because an employee gets a raise when he 'helps out' the boss, just because a student gets an 'A' when he buys the teacher a gift, does that mean these people are simply following their interests and they are in no way slaves, tools, or brown-nosers??

This logic is great.

Anyone who gets something out of the deal is not the subordinate but rather the one in charge.

Lets go teach those diplomats about how the 'carrot' and the 'stick' are making them the losers of the world.

I see nothing in the Mubarak story to indicate puppetry. Of course Mubarak will try to work his relationship with the US for his benefit, and of course US administrations will do the same. In the process there will invariably be a good deal of posturing and empty rhetoric on both sides. This is what nations do; it's called diplomacy, not puppetry. If anything I'd have to say Mubarak has manipulated the Americans more effectively than they've manipulated him.

Why shouldn't Egypt cooperate with Israel? How is it in Egypt's interest to confront Israel?

As far as the Caliphate goes, it seems far too hypothetical to warrant discussion. Let's talk about it in a decade or two, shall we? If there's anything to discuss, which I doubt.

My concern, and I suspect that of the US (though I speak of course only for myself), is not with the Caliphate, which does not exist and does not require concern. It is with the propensity of those who preach the Caliphate to blow things and people up, which unfortunately does exist and this requires attention. If the believers in the Caliphate would resist the temptation to destroy, I doubt the US would pay them any attention at all. Of course Muslims wouldn't pay them any attention either, which is why they blow things up in the first place!

Dayuhan:

Read this little tid bit on Husni Mubarak (I apologize ahead of time that its from wikipedia):

Wars and the monetary gain from the Gulf War of 1991

Egypt was a member of the allied coalition in the 1991 Gulf War, and Egyptian infantry were some of the first to land in Saudi Arabia to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

Reports that sums as large as $500,000 per soldier were paid or debt forgiven were published in the news media. The Economist cites: The programme worked like a charm: a textbook case, says the IMF. In fact, luck was on Hosni Mubarak's side; when America was hunting for a military alliance to force Iraq out of Kuwait, Egypt's president joined without hesitation. After the war, his reward was that U.S.A., the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and Europe forgave Egypt around $20 billion-worth of debt.

Isn't that a little too much backscratching from America for Egypt doing something in ITS OWN interests??

Also:

Mubarak's stance on the invasion of Iraq in 2003

President Mubarak spoke out against the 2003 war on Iraq, arguing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved first. He also claimed that the war would cause "100 Bin Ladens." President Mubarak does not support an immediate U.S. pull out from Iraq as he believes it will lead to probable chaos.

Forget about those Iraqis, lets just make sure we fix America's image first. Wouldn't want more bin Ladin's to pop up and harm more American buildings. Oh well, now that America is already in, let's also make sure America doesn't lose face by withdrawing too soon.

This is double speak that only benefits America.

It's also hilarious how Obama goes to Egypt to talk about how the Muslim world should be democratic (while praising Egypt up and down). Egypt IS, after all, such a picturesque democracy (almost thirty years under the emergency law!!). Much like all the other democratic nations that oppress people on America's behalf.

On the flip side, if Hamas is democratically elected, it means that the people of Palestine are not yet ready for democracy???

There is no meddling involved here from America??

Don't forget about Mubarak's wall that he's building for Israel, to HELP the people of Gaza.

It's also funny that you said this:

It is always wise to question one's assumptions, and never wise to believe your own propaganda.

Then you come up with this cute little hyperbole:

I fear the Caliphate only slightly less than I fear being struck by a meteor.

In extension of your logic:

I don't think there will ever be anything called the United States of America. The Dutch, Spanish, British, and French will never be able to unite together. Especially considering the large Native American and Black Slave populations. To reach Alaska and Hawaii you have to sail or (in Alaska's case) travel through another country (Canada).

This idea is bound to fail.

Bill C:

You miss an important point.

We do not need to transform anyone. Neither do China, Russia, or the capitalist world. All we require of rogue, failed, or failing states is that they not attack us or our allies or harbor those who do. That's why the only rogue, failed, or failing states where we are involved are those that have either attacked others or provided sanctuary to those who attacked others. For all others our policy is to deter, contain, and to the greatest possible extent ignore. If no attacks had taken place that's what we'd be doing wit Iraq and Afghanistan.

Do you see anyone trying to "transform" North Korea, Iran, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, DRC, etc? Of course not. As long as their mess stays within their borders, or even manageably close, deter/contain/ignore is completely sufficient. They pose no real threat or obstacle, and the cost of intervention would far exceed any plausible benefit.

A Muslim:

All those puppets must have gone somewhere, because you don't seem able to find any of them. Who are they, and why exactly are they puppets?

It is always wise to question one's assumptions, and never wise to believe your own propaganda. If Muslim leaders don't do what you want them to do, that doesn't necessarily mean they are puppets, though that may be an easy and convenient explanation that is consistent with pre-existing assumptions. They may simply be acting in accordance with their own perceived individual and national interests.

I fear the Caliphate only slightly less than I fear being struck by a meteor. I believe that it will fail, because the divergent interests among the proposed constituents are more powerful than the motives to join together. People may talk loudly about unity and collective objectives, but they act in accordance with their own perceived interests. This is human nature, and Muslims are as human as the rest of us.

From the author's opening paragraph:

"America is not fighting a global war on terror; rather, it is engaged in a global insurgency whose participants are intent on destroying Western culture and replacing it with an Islamic Caliph or Islamic government."

This latter explanation -- of a "global insurgency" involving only Islamic insurgents -- also expresses a too limited, too narrow and, otherwise, inadequate view of our present situation and agenda.

America today is fighting a global war against a broader view of "insurgents," i.e., those who cannot -- or will not -- rapidly and readily accept, adapt, transform and conform to the needs of the expanding global economy and, thereby, to the needs of the world's great and rising powers.

If one acknowledges this more-encompassing context, then one can better understand such things as:

a. How otherwise benign entities -- such as "weak, failing and failed states" -- might be lumped in with "Islamic insurgents" and be declared "threats" to the most powerful nations of the world and,

b. Why we are so enamoured and infatuated today with the attributes of such nations as China and Russia who, because they possess strong(er) central governments and institutions (to include robust military and police forces), are able to (1) effect the desired "societal transformations" that we and these nations require and (2) deal with any resistance/rebellion/insurgencies that be incurred in this process.

Thus, our determination -- and, accordingly, our foreign policy focus -- to change, constitute and/or build-up the governments and institutions (especially the military and police forces) of various nations, such that these nations might themselves, much as China and Russia have done, (1) effect the desired transformations and (2) deal with any "insurgency" problems (Islamic or otherwise) that might develop therefrom.

Bill C.:

I think you are close. But, I think the actual rationale might be:

1) America feels confident that it can sell its way of life to the world better than Communist/Oppressive/Atheist China can. But, Islaam is a very powerful religion that does not cease to grow all over the world even under bad circumstances, and is set to overtake Christianity soon. Islaam also comes with a complete social structure that has been proven to work unlike Communism.

2) China is pragmatic (and therefore manageable) as opposed to being value driven (like the Caliphate would be).

3) China and Iran exist so they have to be humored, but the Caliphate is still in its infancy so it should be "aborted" quick.

Maj K:

Thanks for the new tone.

What you are mentioning is the same dilemma facing America. Did you know Hawaii and Alaska are American states? Puerto Rico and Guam are also protectorates of some sort. The South West of America might as well be called: 'Mexistan.' You guys had a war called the Civil War between the north and the south over agricultural and industrial trends that still exist today. Blacks and Whites beefing all over the streets (dogs, water hoses, Malcom X, etc.).

I still think this goes back to the way you have been programed to see history and the world. You seem to think that a Caliphate is going to be created in 'your own image.'

The Caliphate might be highly decentralized. Something you might think of as 'Medieval,' but, none the same, something that really saves Empires the headache of having to learn the hard way that centralized policies don't work out when you control the entire world.

Dayuhan:

There are no puppets in the middle east.

The puppets have all gone on a holiday to the moon for the annual celebration of 'Moon Cheese Day.'

As for the Caliphate...I urge you to read more about it and more about Islam in general.

As you probably realize, and as I have been repeating over and over, our religion does not fit your present understanding of the world. There is no separation of church and state in Islam. Muslims are expected to enter Islam fully and become a part of the entire society. They are expected to support the rightful leader of the Muslims with their lives and wealth.

With that said, there are rules for who should and should not be the Caliph. Someone righteous from the noble house of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is a good start for choosing. If that person also manages to have control over the holy places, he has an even better chance of swaying the people to follow him.

As for who is not acceptable...name any current puppet and he'll be your man. Both Abdullahs, Qaddafi, Mubarak, and so forth. These guys are unrighteous sellouts.

The Muslims have been told that a time like this will come (a time of darkness) and after it will come a righteous leader to lead them in justice. So you shouldn't look at the Muslim Ummah as a bunch of secularists who divorce politics from their holy book. Many of them have been 'secularized,' of course. But, the spark is still there in most of them (which is why America hates Hamas, Cair, and the Ikhwanis in general).

Don't worry about the Muslims being ready to accept a righteous leader in these times. It is something they have been informed about. And it is an obligation in Islam to appoint such a person when capable.

Since there is no Caliphate and there is no reason to think there ever will be one, the point seems rather moot. The Caliphate is not now viewed in any light. It can't be; it doesn't exist.

I don't think anyone is terribly worried about the possibility of a confrontation-oriented Caliphate emerging... it's too improbable to warrant much concern. There is some natural concern over the observed tendency of the small number of radicals who fantasize about a Caliphate to run about blowing things up. This concern is not over the potential emergence of a Caliphate.

If a Caliphate could be guaranteed to be designed and implemented -- such that it might better service and support the expanding global economy (i.e., to enhance stabilty, while achieving a markets/capitalist/modernization "transformational" process -- much as China is doing today), then the Caliphate, like present-day China, might be seen in a more favorable light.

If, however, a Caliphate were to be viewed as not being specifically envisioned, designed and implemented -- so as to achieve the specific markets/capitalism/modernization transformational process outlined above -- then such an otherwise-oriented/contrary Caliphate could easily be seen as being an existential threat to the expanding global economy and to our way of life.

This latter model -- of an otherwise-oriented Caliphate with contrary/conflicting goals -- is, I believe, the reason why a Caliphate is presently not viewed in a positive light.

A Muslim:

There is very little way to prove to people the existence of the sun if they don't believe their own eyes.

It is precisely the evidence of my eyes, and many years of doing business in the Middle East, that tell the that the Caliphate is a fantasy and that puppetry is propaganda. Your comment suggests that you have no evidence to prove your claim, and that in turn suggests to me that I am correct in seeing that claim as a mantra, a meaningless phrase repeated for the comfort it provides.

The current regimes in the Muslim world might not dance in perfect tune, and 'in step,' with the Americans, but they definitely don't 'step out of line.'

They dance in step with their own interests, as people are wont to do. What did Egypt ever get from pan-Arab shouting and repeated war with Israel? Nothing except defeat and embarrassment. Why not take the money and drop the pointless squealing and the unwinnable wars. They've more than enough problems at home.

Are you telling me that all of the U.S. military aid that goes to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen(for instance)is not used at times (if not all of the time) to subjugate their people

Saudi Arabia does not receive US military aid. They pay for what they get; if it's bought it's not aid. Most regimes in the Middle East oppress their people, and the ones that receive US aid would do so whether they received it or not.

Is there any Muslim government that you admire, and that you do not think a puppet? What would be the core of your imagined Caliphate? Where would you find a Caliph acceptable to all?

Bill C:

The difference in the way China is viewed and the way the Caliphate is viewed is explained by the simple reality that China exists and the Caliphate does not. Nobody sees the Caliphate as an existential threat. How can an entity that does not exist and shows not the slightest prospect of existing be a threat?

Some of those who fantasize about a Caliphate do pose a threat, though not an existential one, because they want to kill us and sometimes do. The fantasy is not a threat; those who kill to draw attention to the fantasy are.

A Muslim,
I don't think anyone here is saying a caliphate is necessarily a bad thing. I'm just saying 'good luck.' Like COL Jones said, it possibly could introduce some stability to volatile and poorly-governed regions of the world. If it could work. And that's something no one can be against. I'm saying the pan-Islamist theory is on the wrong side of modern politics and economics though. I wasn't referring to pan-Arabism but pan-Islamism. In any event, any future Caliphate to bring the hypothetical umma together under one leader under a pan-Islamic system of government would need to be able to accomplish something that has no track record of success in recent history. And that's because what's important to Muslims in China is different from what's important to Muslims in Michigan, the Philippines, Germany, or Nigeria. All politics is local and always will be.

And if we're going to talk about rewriting history, religion was not the 'glue' that kept communities together before Westphalia. Christians massacred each other for centuries in Europe according to the same formula that will drive conflict always: fear, honor, and interest. Religion was often the factor that drove communities to open warfare. Westphalia said, among other things, that states are sovereign and can decide their own fate without interference by an outside actor. That's why the Caliphate will never fly in a modern world; Muslims in various states have their own interests as defined by their partaking in their respective political processes. It varies from state to state. Any pan-Islamic government or Caliphate, unless its solely focused on a small, fundamental group of Arabs in the Wahhabist middle east, doesn't have the political or economic viability to provide any solutions for a wider audience. But sure, if someone thinks they can at least do it in Saudi and the Gulf States, I'm all for it. Maybe it'll then be stable enough for all of us infidel defenders of the autocrat/monarchical regimes to go home once and for all.

A Muslim, et al:

"Why can China be left to grow rapidly in a manner that could threaten US interests? But the world cannot stand to hear of a Caliphate?"

Could the answer be as per my comment of Aug 6th at 11:06 AM above, to wit:

a. China, today, is seen in a more-positive light; that is, it is seen as being pro-globalization/modernization.

b. Whereas, a Caliphate is seen in a more-negative light; in that this entity seems to be opposed to our version of globalization/modernization?

The primary concern being, therefore, that the Caliphate is thought to be an existential threat to our civilization and our way of life.

Whereas China, on the other hand (and in stark contrast to the Caliphate), is now considered to be something of a civilizational ally -- and fellow "international community" stakeholder -- due to is pro-globalizing/modernizing stance.

I didn't studdy 'HTML tags' as a major!

Maj K:

[i]There's no such thing as an umma and there's no future of a Caliphate outside the wahhabist Middle East. I think the only people who are calling for a Caliphate are the ones being oppressed by their own governments. Do you think Muslims in Indonesia want a Caliphate? India? Malaysia? Afghanistan? No, they do not. A Caliphate is the only thing middle eastern Muslims can rationalize to throw off the yokes of their autocratic regimes.[/i]

That's a nice little opinion piece. haha. I don't know if you have read about Islaam and how the Muslims (as one Ummah) reached Spain in the early 700s (under the Ummayyad Caliphate), but I'm sure your sociologist/anthropologist/historian friends on here can fill in the gaps.

Secondly:

[i]Do you think a Caliphate would stand any better because it's got religion at its core? Ask Khomeini, Hamas, Al-Husseini,[b] Nasser, al-Gaddafi,[/b] or the [b]Ba'ath party [/b] how that's working out for them.[/i]

Thanks for enlightening me. I didn't know Pan-Arabism was the same as Caliphate.

Dayuhan:

I don't know what to tell you.

There is very little way to prove to people the existence of the sun if they don't believe their own eyes.

Just because a 'puppet' might at times have a mind of its own (the chuckey factor)doesn't make it any less of a puppet. Let's say, a stubborn puppet, or an unruly puppet.

The current regimes in the Muslim world might not dance in perfect tune, and 'in step,' with the Americans, but they definitely don't 'step out of line.'

Are you telling me that all of the U.S. military aid that goes to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen (for instance)is not used at times (if not all of the time) to subjugate their people (particularly them damn tarists)??

Actually the ruling families in the Gulf have gotten a good deal smarter since the oil glut. Have you looked at the figures on infrastructure spending, and domestic public spending in general? It's no longer quite accurate to say the money is only going to the ruling families, they've learned that the best way to keep the populace in line is to pay them off, and it seems to be working reasonably well.

It may not be "right" for the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Emiratis and Qataris to be rolling in money while the Egyptians or Yemenis have none. I don't decide what is or isn't "right". I do know that neither the rulers nor the citizens of the rich countries are going to want to be part of a Caliphate that plans to share their wealth. Human nature this is; it varies not among religions.

It's easy to say that all Muslims are part of one Ummah, but that didn't stop the Iranians and the Iraqis from slaughtering each other, and I doubt very much that it's going to persuade the rich to subsidize the poor, or to put their wealth under foreign control.

Who in the Middle East is a "puppet" of the US? Is there anyone who follows instructions from the US? Not that I can see... if anything the Americans are the puppets, rushing to the defense of the Gulf Arabs whenever they are threatened. People keep repeating that "puppet" accusation; it's a mantra that nobody questions... but really, who is pulling the strings? The Gulf Arabs don't cooperate with the West because they are puppets, they cooperate because it is in their interest to do so. They are prosperous, protected, and at peace. Why should they follow the example of countries who drive their people into poverty by letting mullahs make economic policy, or who pour the wealth of their nation into armies that can't fight? What have the policies of confrontation done for the citizens of the Muslim nations that have adopted them?

Who has managed their oil more effectively, the globally integrated states of the Gulf or states like Iran, Libya, or Saddam's Iraq? Do the ordinary Muslims of Tehran or Tripoli live more comfortably than the ordinary citizens of Doha or Abu Dhabi?

A Muslim,

There's no such thing as an umma and there's no future of a Caliphate outside the wahhabist Middle East. I think the only people who are calling for a Caliphate are the ones being oppressed by their own governments. Do you think Muslims in Indonesia want a Caliphate? India? Malaysia? Afghanistan? No, they do not. A Caliphate is the only thing middle eastern Muslims can rationalize to throw off the yokes of their autocratic regimes.

To keep it fair, ;o) I'd also disagree just as much to what COL Jones said: "An EU-like organization is probably just what Northern Africa and the Middle East need to move toward greater stability. I recommend we co-opt that bit of Bin Laden's message and out-compete him for influence with this important region and its people."
I think that was tried before on a couple different occasions and the Pan-Islamic movement failed miserably. Politics keep getting in the way. Because in the end, local politics is all that matters and that's why a Caliphate, without a tyrannical system to keep it in order, will always fail.

Which brings me to my next point: the EU, OPEC, ASEAN, OAS, etc., will only be as strong as their local politics and economics allow. The second the balance is upset and the relationship sways away from maintaining national sovereignty, we'll see how far such organizations last. We can already see what's happening to the EU and NATO. Do you think a Caliphate would stand any better because it's got religion at its core? Ask Khomeini, Hamas, Al-Husseini, Nasser, al-Gaddafi, or the Ba'ath party how that's working out for them.

Dayuhan:

I find you to be a very intelligent person, and, therefore, I find it very difficult that you do not understand this.

When the Caliphate is established it will not be established on the shoulders of puppets.

Let's say you can prove that the United States, and its allies, is paying the true cost for that oil (I mean its real worth in this industrialized world, without the scare tactics of the more industrialized and militarized nations). Who sees that money?

That money only funds the hot drunken illicit orgies of Aal Sa'ud. It's not like the Muslims in Yemen (just a stone's throw away) are really benefiting from all that 'black gold.'

This takes us back to the nation-state issue. All Muslims are part of one Ummah. It's not right that some camel herder in Riyadh, who was born on top of some oil, should have more rights to it than his educated brother a few miles away. (Of course there is an issue of personal property, but I'm referring to state owned properties.)

So when you say that America is paying the 'Muslims' for the oil, it is more accurate (from our perspective) that America is paying its puppets in the region, who are only using that money to perpetuate the oppression of Muslims and to fill their fridges with Budlight.

there are people in Washington (probably lobbyists)who feel that it is in their interests (even if it's not in the national interest) to wreak havoc over there. They make it their job to exploit the people and resources of the Muslim world.

I'm curious on this... who do you see expoiting the people and the resources of the Muslim world? Have you had a look at the price of oil lately? The balance of payments in Riyadh, Doha, or Abu Dhabi? I don't see much evidence of exploitation or oppression there, in fact the locals seems to be doing pretty well.

The only people I see exploiting or oppressing Muslims is other Muslims.

I don't see a caliphate emerging because I don't think the oil-rich Muslim countries with small populations have any interest at all in joining any sort of union that would see their resources siphoned off to support the states with little money and large populations. That's for a start, there are other reasons. I honestly see no threat at all of an emerging Caliphate, though the people who dream of one still have the capacity to make a mess.

I have to give props to those who supported the Caliphate, but I still have some bones to pick all the same. Bear with me.

I believe the Western history and background make it difficult for many of you to see things from a non-nation-state perspective.

Us Muslims have different nationalities (in the broad sense of the word), different races, languages, colors, tribes, etc. This of course will always require a great deal of skill on behalf of the Caliph (not to mention a strong belief in a common system) to keep affairs stable. But, how is that different from a nation-state like America?

What keeps the U.S. together is 1) "good" governance (i.e. it's perceived that way) and 2) some magical nationalism glue. Why can't we substitute the nationalism with religion? It was, after all, the status quo for thousands of years before Westphalia.

My point here, is that some of you are talking about the Muslims as if we are separate groups with separate aims. It is as if al-Qa'idah is some sort of parasite that is living off other 'nations' and inflicting them with some crazy cancer.

This in turn leads to another ethnocentric notion called: Why do they hate us?

Al-Qa'idah, or bin Ladin in specific, didn't need to pick a war with anyone to feel cool and important. He had enough money and prestige to go feel important in many other different ways (as he was doing in Sudan with his construction company quite successfully).

The fact of the matter is, whether the people on SWJ want to mess with the Middle East or not, there are people in Washington (probably lobbyists)who feel that it is in their interests (even if it's not in the national interest) to wreak havoc over there. They make it their job to exploit the people and resources of the Muslim world.

Bin Ladin happened to unplug himself from the matrix early on and started calling people to do the same. It's not like there wasn't a grievance, it just happened to be sleeping in the subconscious of the matrix's human batteries.

With that said, my next question is: Why can Iran be left to run a muck (gaining nuclear capabilities)? Why can China be left to grow rapidly in a manner that could threaten U.S. interests? But the world can not stand to hear of a Caliphate?

Is it because they know deep down that the establishment of a Caliphate is going to have the effect of a ravaging tidal wave? Is it because they realize that almost a fourth of the world's population is now Muslim, and they could easily gravitate towards that new pole (flipping the entire world on its axis)?

For those who think Caliphate is going to just be a nice little nation-state like Trinidad and Tobago floating aimlessly in the Middle East, they should reconsult history.

*My point?*

The resurgence of the Caliphate is real.

It is not an al-Qa'idah plot, nor something bin Ladin made up.

The Muslims have real grievances and real reasons to want to throw off the yoke of oppression, but many Muslims have, sadly but true, bought into a century of propaganda.

The Muslims are unifying and will be unified like any other contemporary state (if not more unified).

The Caliphate will shake the world and will not come in with a 'purr.'

*The clincher*

But, despite all of that, why make fighting the Muslims at this time the war to end all wars? Shouldn't the U.S. prioritize more towards the current threats?

There are examples of the Crusaders putting away their enmity for the Muslims (the longer standing and more credible threat) in order to fight off a different formidable threat (although shorter lived) like the Mongols. No matter how much they wanted to "finish off" the Muslims, they realized that having the Muslims in the face of the Mongols was a nice buffer for their little "holy" island far away from home.

So why can't the policy makers wake up? Why not focus your efforts on the real threats, instead of trying to throw buckets of water at a forest fire thousands of miles away. You can postulate that the forest fire will eventually reach and be devastating, but it is equally worrying that there is a pack of hungry wolves at your heels.

Jon C. Couch:

Transnational organizations are gaining importance, but they remain vehicles within which nations pursue their own interests: the members dictate the course of the orgasnization, not the other way around. In any event I don't see how this affects the matter under discussion: is the EU, NATO, or OPEC fighting insurgents?

Insurgency is by definition an intra-state conflict between a government and a populace or portion thereof. Somalia, for example, doesn't have an insurgency, it has a civil war: it can't be an insurgency because there is no government.

If we take AQ's declared purpose at face value, they are fighting to impose a global caliphate. Trying to impose your own desired political end state on others by armed force is war, not insurgency.

Bill C:

Globalization/modernization's proponents and vanguard, who actively seek -- and need --to "transform entire societies"

I don't see how you deduce a desire, let alone a need, to transform societies. If you look at the vast majority of failed, rogue, failing states, or simply at states that have not embraced capitalism, no effort at all is being put into efforts to transform them. Nobody cares about trying to "transform" North Korea, Chad, Zimababwe, Somalia, the DRC. Nobody cares. They aren't enough of a threat to be worth responding to and the cost would far exceed any hypothetical bandwagon. If Saddam Hussein hadn't invaded Kuwait he'd still be stomping his own people into the ground, and nobody would give a damn. Without 9/11, the Taliban would still be leading Afghanistan back into the medieval period, and nobody would have the slightest interest. As long as these states don't cause trouble outside their borders there's no outside interest in changing them.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't an indication of some overarching policy of aggressive transformation. No such policy exists, nor is their any reason for such a policy to exist. They are the outcome of bad policy decisions by the former leaders of those nations followed by a barely conscious American backlash after 9/11. I see no evidence to support the assumption of a policy - let alone a need - to transform nations.

Is one better served with this, possibly more complete and comprehensive understanding of the current "global insurgency," to wit, as a "war" between:

a. The proponents of globalization/modernization (the governments and peoples of the world that actively export, support, defend and depend upon its expansion) and,

b. The opponents of/obsticles to globalization/modernization (to include -- not only AQ and its ilk -- but also other hindrances, such as "rogue, weak, failing and failed states")?

Thus, could this "global war" be better understood as being a war between:

a. Globalization/modernization's proponents and vanguard, who actively seek -- and need --to "transform entire societies" and

b. All the entities throughout the world (individuals, groups, nations, etc.) who are, as yet, unwilling -- or unable -- to be so "transformed?

I offer a thought to Dayuhan's post. In part, Dayuhan said "there can be no global insurgency, because there is no global government."

It is my belief that we should consider moving beyond conventional uses of nations and governments, e.g. conventional nation-states, and consider the larger, more fluid organizations that althoug not replacing nation-states, have as much and perhaps more impact in terms of global economies and governmental policies.

Examples include organizations such as EU, OPEC, OAS, NATO, or others. Albeit, some of these are more political than economic in nature, but the point is, just as the nation-states saw their primacy, so too I suspect that we will continue to see more influences at the global level by such organizations -- thus their becoming more of a target for global strife; insurgencies, criminal, or otherwise.

If insurgency is an organized rebellion aimed at overthrowing a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict, there can be no global insurgency, because there is no global government. Al Qaeda's nominal goal of imposing an Islamic Caliphate may involve war, but I don't see how it can be qualified as insurgency, unless we stretch the definition of insurgency far beyond the breaking point.

I don't really think we have a global insurgency problem... other than the insurgencies we created by trying to establish governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, what insurgencies are there that we need to concern ourselves with? Certainly there are some - Pakistan an obvious case - but not a pervasive pattern.

We give too much credence to Al Qaeda's nominal goals: believing the other guy's propaganda is only slightly less dangerous than believing your own. AQ didn't attack the US to overthrow our government and impose a Caliphate, they attacked the US because they desperately needed to bait the US into occupying a Muslim country. A jihadi without a jihad is an anachronism, and without a jihad AQ was rapidly fading into irrelevance. There were no more Russians in Afghanistan (let's not forget how AQ started - it wasn't about us). The effort to spark insurgency in Saudi Arabia had fallen on its face. Even the Taliban, faced with the challenges of actual governance, were sending delegations to the land of the Great Satan to talk about pipeline deals. AQ needed a war to justify its existence, so it started one.

We don't want to underestimate the threat, but I see no point in blowing it up into an existential global battle with the forces of the Caliphate. The Caliphate does not exist, and is not likely to exist. We're dealing with a small number of highly motivated, very violent individuals - "club" is not at all a bad word - who desperately need somebody to hate. Trying to respond to a fictitious "global insurgency" is only going to dilute our resources and suck us into trying to resolve infinite numbers of local issues, most of which do not involve us and are beyond our capacity to address. I don't see how that helps.

Come this time next month I will be "Mr. Jones," so I may as well get used to the sound of it. :-)

If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make any sound?

Similarly, if an organization conducts UW among a populace, but that populace is largely satisfied with its governance, does it create an insurgency?

The answer to each is probably no. AQ is an organization for its age, and Bin Laden is a man for his times. Much like Hitler was for his. Each stepped up to fill roles that would have been filled by someone, as the causation for conflict was set years before either one emerged in a leadership role.

As to the Caliphate? I'm all for it. The religion-based alarmists and Intel-based alarmists have had their day. I'm not buying what they are selling, and frankly, they are the ones buying the other guys PSYOP. An EU-like organization is probably just what Northern Africa and the Middle East need to move toward greater stability. I recommend we co-opt that bit of Bin Laden's message and out-compete him for influence with this important region and its people. Extremist view points don't survive well in the light of day. Just as the extremists who settled Massachusetts Coloney were moderated over time, so will those who take extremist positions today to drive similar change. Should we be cautious? Certainly. Should we be afraid? I don't buy it.

Academic debates are great things. As the author of Americas Flawed Approach to the Global War on Terror, as well someone who is deeply involved in the conflict, Id like to take the opportunity to comment on several issues raised by Mr. Robert C. Jones.

In one part, Mr. Jones said "What people are describing as "Global Insurgency" is really "Global UW" AQ has no populace, they have no state, they are a club. But they have an idea, an agenda, and the means to implement it as the new information age empowers their networked operations to conduct UW among diverse and distinct populaces around the globe. They also have a target audience that is ripe for exploitation, which is essential for effective UW. (The US holds up our UW operations in France in 1944 and Afghanistan in 2001 rightfully, but look how ripe those populaces were for resistance.)"

First, Mr. Jones stated a "Global UW" is what is occurring. By definition, UW is "A broad spectrum of military and paramilitary operations, normally of long duration, predominantly conducted through, with, or by indigenous or surrogate forces who are organized, trained, equipped, supported, and directed in varying degrees by an external source. It includes, but is not limited to, guerrilla warfare, subversion, sabotage, intelligence activities, and unconventional assisted recovery. Also called UW. (JP 3-05)" Therefore, some of the activities being conducted by AQ could possibly considered UW, but their campaign is part of a larger, global effort aimed at undermining nations governments whose beliefs are not aligned with theirs.

Second, Mr. Jones said they are "a club". AQ, as well as the many other variants of this global menace are not a club. They are in a deadly game of recruitment, training, operations (including acts of terrorism), and of course all towards their final goal of establishing a modern caliphate (or Islamic state). They are intent on destroying all those who do not profess the same beliefs as they - and by any definition used today, I would not classify activities with this end state in mind a "club".

All is not bleak, however. Mr. Jones is spot on in his assessment when he said they "have an idea, an agenda, and the means to implement it as the new information age empowers their networked operations to conduct UW among diverse and distinct populaces around the globe." This diverse range of technologies and capabilities is what make this global insurgency so menacing. They have global reach through the use of the Internet. Unlike the Cold War where the "revolutionaries" of the day used mail, phones, and limited fax capabilities, todays threats have a host of technologies available to them past ideologues never dreamed of.

The global insurgents are using unconventional means. As Mr. Jones stated, "They also have a target audience that is ripe for exploitation, which is essential for effective UW." That these insurgents use UW is correct, UW is a means and method for carrying out insurgencies such as that being currently being experienced.

Mr. Jones is correct when he stated "Yes, there are many distinct, nationalist insurgencies in play. But each is unique in its causes, issues, culture, etc; joined only by the fact that they are all targeted by AQ to assist them in their larger cause, while AQ assists them in their local causes." The Taliban, as a regional example of how the insurgents are learning about insurgencies and centers of gravity, was recently quoted in the open press in an Associated Press article, Taliban code of conduct seeks to win hearts, minds. In part, the article quoted the Taliban, "The Taliban must treat civilians according to Islamic norms and morality to win over the hearts and minds of the people," This points to another point I raised in my article, and also professed my many others in COIN circles who profess the people in any insurgency are often the center of gravity. This article can be accessed at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100803/ap_on_re_as/as_afghan_taliban_conduct

The Taliban, it seems, are learning about centers of gravity before it is too late for their national insurgency; while in other part of the globe the insurgents learned this too late, as the AQ in western Iraqs An Bar province where the violence used actually turned the civilian populace from supporting their cause.

Later in his reply, Mr. Jones stated "To call this "Global insurgency" conflates all of these distinct problems demanding tailored solutions into one big problem, which drives one big solution. DANGEROUS." What Mr. Jones may not realize is that, YES, many of these insurgencies are local in some ways; they often have agendas influenced by local traditions and the like but at the same time, are tied by technologies and larger cause to a global effort at establishing a caliphate. For example, the Taliban is a national insurgency, but at the same time, AQ and a few other non-state (and in a few cases purported nation-state) actors participate or support their efforts at ejecting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Examples include the AQ (and a few of their variants), as well as purported Pakistani (ISI) and Iranian support.

At the end of the day, what this really means is that YES, there are insurgencies with local characteristics, while at the same time there are (global insurgent) influences; all requiring solutions that are tailored to a specific threat and set of circumstances. We know for example, the strategies the US DOD used in Iraq would have to have been modified before conducting operating in Afghanistan. In the end however, the precepts are the same for COIN activities.

1) The citizens in a host nation insurgency are (often times) the COG for insurgencies.
2) Corruption in the host government is often a legitimate issue because the people must support the host government if it is to survive. As was seen in President South Vietnams (President Diem era) government where corruption supported the Viet Congs (or North Vietnams) cause and in the end was one of the supporting causes which spelled doom in that insurgency.
3) Conditions that will enable host government to survive include: a) a viable local security apparatus; b) the ability to keep third party, e.g., non-state actors, out of the infected country; c) and the ability of the government to establish programs which enable the families to thrive, e.g., security, education, reproduction, religion, and work (jobs). For more on family/social units, see Lynn Mukleys "Seeing and Unseeing Social Structure: Sociology's Essential Insights" which is available at http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Unseeing-Social-Structure-Sociologys/dp/020...

In conclusion, ample evidence demonstrates that we are indeed in a global insurgency, and while some of the insurgencies around the global are independent, many more are loosely tied to the Islamic-based insurgency we are currently experiencing. That being said, we must use caution when using phrases like "Islamic-based insurgency" because there are millions of true believers in the Islamic faith who wish us no harm. Similar to what has occurred with many other religions, there are those who use incorrect interpretations of the Holy Koran, the Bible, or others to fit their goals or views.

Remembering that this is an academic debate, I offer a "thanks" to Mr. Jones, and others replying or commenting on my article because this spirited debate helps us all grow.

Anon: I hope I didn't imply that it was. As one might imagine, this is a point I raise in a variety of audiances, and it is amazing how many of my peers toss this back at me, as if engagement is an all or nothing affair; and not something that can be tailored to reduce friction by-products. All engagement will produce friction, but understanding what is "bad" friction and what is "harmless" friction is the key to stability.

This is really Deterrence. Successful governments "deter" insurgency everyday. Similarly, successful foreign policy will not only secure our interests and deter state threats, but "deter" terrorism as well. Not by somehow convincing specific groups to not attack us (too late at that point, bring in the CT guys), but by preventing conditions that give rise to these organizations to begin with.

Decades of "successful" engagement in the Middle East make the US slow to recognize those aspects of that success that have been contributing to growing the organizations that challeng us today; but change we must. Plus that is far less irritating and expensive than a program designed to make everyone else change instead.

All deterrence is provocative; and success is in riding that razor's edge where one provokes one to the point of inaction (afraid to act out, yet not so afraid they feel they must act out now before it is too late). Cold War Deterrence was relatively simple. Chess. Current deterrence is more like that crazy game Dave Maxwell describes.

Robert C. Jones: Thank you, I agree with your response. My original response was not meant as a knee jerk reaction, but more as a cautionary tale. Though I haven't been back to Yemen in several years. I'm told we are approaching our footprint in a professional and minimalist manner. . .at present anyway. Alway a good thing on the Arabian Peninsula.

As always, Bob Jones offers some great comments. I will add to his last paragraph above by adding that "our current COIN focus is that [our conventional forces] think WE are doing COIN..." I will also add that there is no strategic solution to what we are facing.

GWOT is a terrible idea. Across the 1930's we were engaged around the world in various military activities but it wasn't called the GWISOABI (Global War In Support Of American Business Interests) nor was the late-19th Century near constant use of American army in our own west titled the NWAATE&O (National War Against Affiliated Tribal Entites & Others) although we have lumped that era together as the "Indian Wars."

As an historian I can easily trace an unbroken line that involves American military forces from the so-called Iranian Hostage Crisis through the 1980's Lebanon War(s), into the "Tanker" War, Ops Desert Shield and Storm, Somalia, USS Cole, 9/11 and the current campaign. America's longest war hasn't been going on almost 9 years, it has been going on for almost 30!

Jones is absolutely right to note that:
"To call this "Global insurgency" conflates all of these distinct problems demanding tailored solutions into one big problem, which drives one big solution. DANGEROUS. There is no one big solution for this. Break it down; don't build it up, if you want to have success."

I am set to retire in the next year with 30 years in uniform (full time and reserve) and my ENTIRE combat experience has been in the Middle East (not one pesky commie!). We need to look at this as our generation's "Indian War," a long grinding series of near meaningless campaigns with little or no strategic connection other than to protect assets, global economies, and wait out our enemies until something causes them to stop fighting. Jones is right, we need to break this down, not build it up.

Anon: Yes, Yemen is an excellent example.

That said, Yemen sits on Key Terrain, and the US has a long relationship with their government. Many leap to knee-jerk positions when these issues are brought up, making comments like "What would you have us do? Just pack up and go home?"

I believe there is a middle ground between continuing with what we have been doing when we can clearly see that it emboldens certain leaders to act with impunity toward their populaces in ways that foment both local insurgency and international terrorism (and organizations like AQ that leverage the same); and simply cutting off all engagement.

The problem with our current COIN focus is that we think WE are doing COIN, so we also soon find ourself in the buisiness of preserving the current regime and defeating the insurgents/terrorists. We wield our power and influence more effectively, and represent our national interests more effectively as well when we avoid falling into that trap. We don't need to abandon nor ramp up our engagement either one. What we need to do is adjust the nature and tone of our engagement so that we are not overly corrupting the local legitimacy mechanisms of a country with our actions.

"The same goes for governments. If a government is oppressing its populace, we don't want to be the guys helping them oppress them more effectively," i.e., Yemen and its government that has displaced 350,000 people and left an impoverished country in the last six years.

Well, I opened this up hoping for some new perspectives, but even just from the sound bite up front, this is merely a presentation of the same flawed idea that Kilcullen put out 5-6 years ago, and what many others, such as COL Dan Roper in his Parameters article a year or two ago, have expended upon this theme to name but two.

I will agree whole heartedly with the author that GWOT is wrong, and that it is critical to understand what one is up against, to describe it accurately, and to understand its true genesis as well as its many complex variations as it manifests in various communities, if one is to have a chance at dealing with it.

What people are describing as "Global Insurgency" is really "Global UW" AQ has no populace, they have no state, they are a club. But they have an idea, an agenda, and the means to implement it as the new information age empowers their networked operations to conduct UW among diverse and distinct populaces around the globe. They also have a target audience that is ripe for exploitation, which is essential for effective UW. (The US holds up our UW operations in France in 1944 and Afghanistan in 2001 rightfully, but look how ripe those populaces were for resistance.)

Yes, there are many distinct, nationalist insurgencies in play. But each is unique in its causes, issues, culture, etc; joined only by the fact that they are all targeted by AQ to assist them in their larger cause, while AQ assists them in their local causes. Many send members to help AQ outside their borders ("foreign fighters") as they buy into the AQ line that they must break the support to their governments by Western powers if they hope to be successful at home.

To call this "Global insurgency" conflates all of these distinct problems demanding tailored solutions into one big problem, which drives one big solution. DANGEROUS. There is no one big solution for this. Break it down; don't build it up, if you want to have success.

I also cringe every time anyone rolls out the whole line of Islam taking over the world, the Caliphate, etc. This type of alarmist religionism (is that a word? What do you call a racist who hates based on religion rather than race?) clouds the real issues at work. Frankly, if an EU-like "Caliphate" were to form it would probably be the best thing for getting the Middle East out of its current situation and instability. Efforts to maintain the status quo, or somehow turn back the clock a decade or two certainly will not.

This is not a war against terrorism, agreed. Terrorism is a tactic, and sorry CT guys, but CT is a tactic too. You can't build an operation around a tactic, but it is a tactic we need in the operation. It is also not a Global Insurgency. Counter the efforts of AQs UW campaign, and then work to help defuse the conditions giving rise to insurgency in their target populaces; while also disrupting why these populaces turn to AQ for help. We need to become more balanced in our approach so that we work to make these governments be less oppressive in their approaches to their own populaces. We need to champion the people as well.

We also need to be VERY careful with this new energy on capacity building. If a man is beating his wife, I don't care how long he has been your friend, you don't want to be the guy teaching him how to beat her more effectively. The same goes for governments. If a government is oppressing its populace, we don't want to be the guys helping them oppress them more effectively. Understanding the real problem helps us shape these efforts to focus on the right things.