Journal: Walking Into Al Qaeda’s Trap in Yemen

08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism, 10 Security, Military, Peace Intelligence
Chuck Spinney

Very important article from one of the very best reporters covering the Middle East

Walking Into the Al-Qaeda Trap

Touch Yemen, Get Burned

December 31, 2009
Skip to End of Article:

It is extraordinary to see the US begin to make the same mistakes in Yemen as it previously made in Afghanistan and Iraq. What it is doing is much to al-Qa’ida’s advantage. The real strength of al-Qa’ida is not that it can ‘train’ a fanatical Nigerian student to sew explosives into his underpants, but that it can provoke an exaggerated US response to every botched attack. Al-Qa’ida leaders openly admitted at the time of 9/11 that the aim of such operations is to provoke the US into direct military intervention in Muslim countries. It is a formula which worked under President George W Bush and it still appears to work under President Barack Obama.

In Yemen the US is walking into the al-Qa’ida trap. Once there it will face the same dilemma it faces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It became impossible to exit these conflicts because the loss of face would be too great. Just as Washington saved banks and insurance giants from bankruptcy in 2008 because they were “too big to fail,” so these wars become too important to lose because to do so would damage the US claim to be the sole super power.

In Iraq the US is getting out more easily than seemed likely at one stage because Washington has persuaded Americans that they won a non-existent success. The ultimate US exit from Afghanistan may eventually be along very similar lines. But the danger of claiming spurious victories is that such distortions of history make it impossible for the US to learn from past mistakes and instead to repeat them by intervening in other countries such as Yemen.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of ‘The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq‘ and ‘Muqtada! Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival and the struggle for Iraq‘.

Continue reading “Journal: Walking Into Al Qaeda's Trap in Yemen”

Journal: One World, Region by Region, Tribe by Tribe

02 China, 03 India, 05 Iran, 06 Russia, 08 Wild Cards, Commercial Intelligence, Earth Intelligence, Peace Intelligence, Policies
Chuck Spinney

Phi Beta Iota: Chuck Spinney's flagging of the below piece supports the point we were making with the post on dynamic planning.  For fifty years the USA has been throwing its weight around on the basis of partisan, ideological, and often illegimiate purposes, and it has been able to get a way with it because in an Industrial Era, might does make right.  We are no longer in an Industrial Era.  We've entered an era in which information asymmetries are being extinguished, while power asymmetries are emergent–demographic power trumps everything else when you get right down to it.  This entire web site makes that point in the aggregate.  On a sidenote, Kashmir is about water but no one seems to acknowledge that.  Water is one of the things we are going to have to figure out how to do in a non-zero fashion.  Hence, for the USA to dig itself a grave in Central Asia without giving any thought to the ten high-level threats to humanity as a whole, and the twelve policies, and the eigth demographic challengers, and to calculate a non-zero course through this maze, is nothing more than idiocy on steriods.

Full Story Online

The Afghan Triangle: Kashmir, India, Pakistan

Graham Usher

Graham Usher is a writer and journalist based in Pakistan and a contributing editor of Middle East Report.

For the last 61 years the fight has been fought, mostly, in and for Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK): the territory Delhi and Islamabad have contested since the 1947 partition cleaved them into two states—and Kashmir into “Pakistani” and “Indian” parts. Sometimes (1947, 1965, 1971, 1999) the war has been hot. More often it has been waged via Pakistani proxies against a standing Indian military. Since 1989, it has been channeled through a low-intensity, Pakistan-backed separatist-Islamist insurgency that has killed 50,000 people and incurred an Indian military occupation three times the size of America’s in Iraq and three times as lethal.

See also:

Scott Atran

Scott Atran

Professor and author

Posted: December 30, 2009 11:57 AM

The Terror Scare

Journal: MILNET Focus on Afghanistan

05 Civil War, 08 Wild Cards, Military, Peace Intelligence
Full Story Online

Interview With Dutch Major General Mart de Kruif, Former Commander, Regional Command South

Phi Beta Iota: Read every word.  Highlights include:

;1)  Every province is difference (see General Zinni's characterization of the six different Viet-Nam wars in Battle Ready)

2)  Climate and Ops Tempo, not the Taliban, are the major challenge

3)  Taliban losing, resorting more to terror against civilians

4)  NATO works–could not have done AF without NATO C4I

5)  Not a single word about civilian stabilization & reconstruction assistance, which appears to be dead in the water with AID pulling back

Our Conclusion: Having tried and failed at everything else, we are now at the cusp of the “Brass Hour” in both IQ and AF but the military is failing to do the homework needed to present a compelling case for fur a “Berlin Airlift” into both countries that overwhelms the population with what we should have used the first time around: language-qualified Muslim engineers from Indonesia and Malaysia and Turkey, along with a mini-Marshall Plan that wages peace without end.  One Tribe at a Time, Yes, But Bring Peace Goods with You….

Journal: Afghanistan & Iraq–Opportunity Knocks for an Afghan Airlift and a Six-Month Muslim-Centered Multinational Multiagency “Advise & Assist” Transition Toward Departure from Both Countries

Other References:

Continue reading “Journal: MILNET Focus on Afghanistan”

Journal: Yemen–Opening A New “Front” in the Long War

04 Inter-State Conflict, 05 Civil War, 08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism, 10 Security, Cultural Intelligence, Ethics, Military, Peace Intelligence
Chuck Spinney

Nicht Schwerpunkt as a Prescription for Defeat by a 1000 Cuts

Operation Barbarossa

Recent events like the Fort Hood Massacre and the bungled attempt to fire bomb the airliner bound for Detroit have focused attention on and encouraged our escalating intervention in Yemen, which has been taking place quietly, as if Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan were not enough to keep our strategic planners and stretched out military forces occupied.  Our reactions to events in the  so-called Long War on Terror suggest an aimless spreading of effort throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.  This aimlessness brings to mind a comment General Hermann Balck, a highly decorated German officer in WWII, made to a small group of reformers in the Pentagon in the early 1980s.  The subject was Operation Barbarossa, or Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.  Balck pithily dismissed the German strategy shaping that invasion with the words: “Nicht Schwerpunkt.”  Balck was saying there was no focus or main effort to the German invasion, and without a focus, there was no way to harmonize the thousands of subordinate efforts. The result was a spreading of effort that led to eventual overextension as can be seen in the following map.

Now the Eastern Front of WWII is very different from the ridiculously misleading label of a Central Front in the Long War on Terror.  But the idea of schwerpunkt is germane to both efforts, and the US is showing all the signs of spreading and over extending its efforts which accompany a nicht schwerpunkt.

This is no small thing.  As the American strategist Colonel John Boyd showed in his famous briefing, Patterns of Conflict, the idea of a schwerpunkt is central to organizing all effective military operations.  It is far more than a simple question of concentrating forces.  According to Boyd, the idea of a  “Schwerpunkt represents a unifying medium that provides a directed way to tie initiative of many subordinate actions with superior intent as a basis to diminish friction and compress time in order to generate a favorable mismatch in time/ability to shape and adapt to unfolding circumstances.”  Now this is a very compressed statement, pregnant with information, and based on a lot of research, but it nevertheless makes it self evident that there is no comparable unifying medium in America's Long War on Terror.  Our failure to form a schwerpunkt is just as much a prescription for paralysis and defeat by a thousand cuts in a guerrilla war as it is in a mechanized conventional war between standing armies.

To see why, consider please the following three attachments:

Continue reading “Journal: Yemen–Opening A New “Front” in the Long War”

Journal: Historian’s View of CIA, Yemen, and Air Threat

03 India, 08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism, 10 Security, Ethics, Government, IO Secrets, Law Enforcement, Peace Intelligence
Webster Griffin Tarpley

Russia Times Lead Story

Detroit jet terrorist attack was staged – journalist

The recent failed attack on a US passenger jet traveling from Amsterdam to Detroit was a set-up provocation controlled by US intelligence, author and journalist Webster Tarpley stated to RT.

“[The terrorist’s] father, a rich Nigerian banker, went to the US embassy in Nigeria on November 19 and said ‘my son is in Yemen in a terrorist camp, do something about this.’ Nevertheless, the son is allowed to buy a ticket in Ghana, paying cash, $2,800, for a one-way ticket,” Tarpley said.

After that, a mentally deficient young man who doubtfully could make it from one gate to another managed to illegally enter Nigeria and get on a plane to Amsterdam.

“There was a well-dressed Indian man who brought him to the gate and said, ‘my friend does not have a passport, get him on, he is Sudanese, we do this all the time – that is impossible!” said Tarpley.

Continue reading “Journal: Historian's View of CIA, Yemen, and Air Threat”

Journal: Strong Signals–Las Vegas as Next 9/11

08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism, 10 Security, 11 Society, Civil Society, Collective Intelligence, Government, Law Enforcement, Methods & Process
Ground Zero Las Vegas--Full Story Online

Monday, December 28, 2009


Nine of the ten largest hotels in the world are in Las Vegas. Four of them share one intersection: Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip) and Tropicana Avenue. Together, these four corners comprise 12,953 rooms, most of which enjoy high occupancy year-round and are often full. Figure 25,000 people huddled on four corners.

The imagery is also appealing to terrorists: Occupying one corner is New York, New York, with a “skyline” that features the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Statue of Liberty.

This thought: It is no longer necessary for al-Qaeda terrorists to hijack two Beechcraft C99 planes out of Vegas, as easy as this would be. Instead, why not drive (three-and-a-half hours from Vegas) to Grand Canyon West Airport with a few vans filled with ammonium nitrate (fertilizer) and diesel fuel? Armed with a few baseball bats, one could take command of the airstrip in less than a minute. Then wait for the Beechcrafts to arrive. Loaded with ammonium nitrate (or a low grade chemical or biological agent), these vector weapons could then be dispatched back at Las Vegas, a mere 15 minutes away at full throttle, or Hoover Dam, half the distance.

Phi Beta Iota: This posting was brought to our attention by a patriotic citizen who finds a great deal of common sense on this web site, and none at all within the so-called Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  We recollect the period 1990-1994 when Peter Black, Winn Schwartau, and Robert Steele, among others, tried to warn Congress and the Executive about the cyber-threat, to include substantive correspondence to the top National Information Infrastructure security officer, Marty Harris, sounding the alarm.  We vividly recollect testifying on behalf of Hackers and trying to tell the Secret Service it should hire them, not torment them.  Now we have a government spending hundreds of billions of dollars in the wrong way, and failing to LISTEN to common sense solutions from its citizens.

Journal: Weaponizing Web 2.0

Memorandum: Talking Points on Homeland Defense Intelligence

1999 Setting the Stage for Information-Sharing in the 21st Century: Three Issues of Common Concern to DoD and the Rest of the World

Journal: Selected MILNET Headlines

05 Civil War, 08 Wild Cards, 10 Security, Government, Military

On Point in AF--Full Story

Roadside Bomb Hunting: Learned Skill or Intuition?

With IED casualties since 2001 mounting (2,451 dead, 23,650 wounded, in Iraq and Afghanistan as of Dec. 5), the military is mounting a determined effort to find out whether spotting IEDs is an intuitive, innate skill, like the ability to quickly pick up a new language, or whether it is learned through experience. Because if it's learned through experience, the military can teach other people to be good at it. And save lives.
The same questions arose 40 years ago when the Army and Marines began to wonder if they could clone the guys who were really, really good at walking point and guiding the troops around mines and booby-traps. Two major studies were completed, but the military lost interest as the war wound down and its attention turned back to the Cold War.

Official: Taliban Confident Of Afghan Victory

“They have chosen the IED as the way they are going to fight us,” the intelligence official said, adding the Taliban still engage troops in firefights and use suicide bombers.

“But the IED has had a strategic effect, and it's the weapon of choice. … And I say it's akin to the surface-to-air missile system for the mujahedeen back in the Soviet era.”

AWOL From The Battlefield In war, death of trust invited defeat

With President Obama's announcement the Afghan surge is for 18 months, any possibility trust between U.S. forces and the Afghan people will factor into the stability equation is minimized. Locals will be reluctant to trust U.S. forces just “passing through” the area; reports on militant activity will trickle, not flow, in.

Also missing will be the Afghan people's trust for their own military and police. . . .Trust by NATO troops for Afghan security forces suffers, too, as militants successfully infiltrate such security forces.  . . .  Additionally, many Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan distrust U.S. motives in Afghanistan. . . .

Spirit Of America In Afghanistan

In 2003, Sgt. First Class Jay Smith and his Army Special Forces team were based in Orgun-e, Afghanistan and were taking regular rocket fire from al Qaeda fighters. But Sgt. Smith and his men were armed with an effective counterweapon—gifts of school supplies and sports gear for children, and clothing, shoes and blankets for nearby families, all provided by American donors.

After receiving these items, the grateful villagers reciprocated by forming a night-watch patrol to protect our soldiers. Good relations with locals helped save American lives. I've witnessed this success on the front lines, aided by support from home, repeated many times since Sgt. Smith.


Continue reading “Journal: Selected MILNET Headlines”