I also agree with Lt.Col Ralph Peters’ prescription: The US must leave behind smoking ruins and crying widows.
I agree with Brian John Thomas, this is must reading. Sadly our politicians and gov’t officials are grossly inept to handle the situation presently, having been wrongly advised by out of touch analysts and so called experts. We need people like J.e. Dyer in advisor capacity roles, badly.
It is a very Western concept that war is an aberration, necessary for some purposes but not to be cultivated as a way of life, and that it must be prosecuted to a politically decisive “end-state.” We must not see our choices now in terms of what we can live with on a continuous basis, but in terms of what we must do to achieve a political decision: a point at which the jihadi attacks are behind us and a different future lies before us.
Many people will be reluctant to make that mental leap, but until we do, things will continue to get worse.
Paris attack: The West’s time for choosing
By J.E. Dyer on January 9, 2015 at 7:30 pm
I heard some inevitable chatter on Fox News earlier today (Friday, 9 January). Shep Smith and one of the reporters on the scene in Paris discussed a new revelation about the hostage crisis at the printing plant: there were far more hostages than the police had been aware of (15 or even 20 hostages, as opposed to the 5-6 reported previously. Note: The final count appears to have been 16 at the printing plant). The Fox crew seemed surprised and somewhat critical of this failure by the police.
But their expectations about what the police can do are the problem here. It turns out that the media have misunderstood what was going on since the initial attack by the Kouachi brothers and their accomplice on the Charlie Hebdo offices.
The elusive Kouachis have not been fleeing from the police, in the manner of the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. They were fighting their way around Paris to the scene of their next attack – and apparently being assisted by others in a terrorist cell.
As the experts on Fox have pointed out, their activities were very professional. And they now appear to have been coordinated by a larger group. We know that the Kouachis self-deployed to Syria to fight there, and that one of them trained at a terrorist camp in Yemen.
Catherine Herridge reported couple of hours ago on Fox that an Al Qaeda cleric in Yemen is now known to have provided funding to the Kouachi brothers. Apparently, Cherif Kouachi also told a French source that Anwar al-Awlaki sent him to conduct jihadi operations in France.
What the Kouachis and their co-jihadists have done is bring some elements of the urban civil war in Syria (and Iraq) to the streets of Paris. There are estimated to be more than 1,000 French citizens who have self-deployed to fight with the jihadis in Syria (Fox, this morning; reportedly sourced to the French Ministry of the Interior). But there can be far more actual terrorists if this cohort turns itself into a terrorist army inside France.
The Syria veterans would serve as trainers, planners, and squad leaders for tactical operations. But there are a good million French Muslim men of combat age in the country; 10% of that number – the usual estimate of radical sympathizers among Muslims – would come to 100,000. Even a mere 10,000 of them joining an Islamist jihad in France would transform French life into something unrecognizable.
The situation has already changed
In a sense, this event is bigger than 9/11, even though the body count is much smaller, and the terrorists’ methods are less spectacular. The less-spectacular methods are actually an advantage for the terrorists, because the entry price for them is so low. It takes far less prep time and fewer resources to bring off a series of armed raids, in a target-rich environment like a major city, than to use jumbo jets as guided missiles to attack iconic American buildings.
What people need to understand is that this is too big for the police to handle. That’s why the French police have not been “in charge,” in the way we are accustomed to, at any point in this drama. They keep being surprised and rear-ended; even now, the jihadi gunwoman we know about, Hayat Boumedienne, is on the loose, having eluded capture in the standoff at the Jewish market.
The option of making the police bigger, giving them more weaponry and more arbitrary power, increasing the surveillance of the entire population in order to discover these plots beforehand, is a non-starter.
A free people cannot live that way. And if we are not a free people, then there is no point in the borders and constitutions we have now. The value of everything is up for grabs. A reset of some kind is inevitable, because the path we are on is unsustainable.
After 9/11 – in truth, after the airline attacks and hostage situations of the 1970s and 1980s – the free world began curtailing its freedoms on the margins. The bite on the margin was bigger after 9/11, but we proceeded on essentially the same course. Modes of mass transportation, and big gathering places like stadiums and arenas, are segments of life – separated venues we don’t have to be in very much – and it was relatively easy to concede a few freedoms (and much dignity) during the few minutes it takes to add “security” in them.
But we cannot concede the atmosphere in our neighborhoods and streets, or the profile of law enforcement – which today is minimal, respectful, and quiescent, if less so than it was 20 years go – and retain the features of Western civilization. We can’t respond to this challenge by beefing up law enforcement and remain who we are.
Nor would it even work to beef up law enforcement. It’s a human failing to assume that it would. Spying on and regulating people doesn’t prevent violence and unrest from a committed minority, as nations with guerrilla insurgencies have demonstrated frequently over the last 100 years.
But the terrorists will still be able to rely for some time on the reality that we don’t want to see that we’re in a war, and therefore change our expectations. We are comfortable with the idea that we can delegate regulation and enforcement to an authority, and thus allow most people to live in an unarmed and unalerted way, concentrating in their daily lives on other things, such as raising families and producing things of commercial value. We are (mainly) right to believe that we should be able to live this way, but this bargain depends on two factors.
One of them is that the overwhelming majority of people live in voluntary compliance with the laws and social mores. The other is that the cost of the occasional breach of that bargain – including the inevitable breaches the police can’t prevent – is low.