The Administration Implementation Of The Cloward-Piven Strategy

Herschel Smith · 29 Jun 2014 · 38 Comments

The setup for this has been occurring for quite a while.  The collectivists on the right have helped the leftists gain strength, but the rate and fury of activity that has been consequential in destabilizing the United States has increased almost beyond comprehension. The long term evolution of America to a position where such a strategy might stand a greater chance of success began long ago with the move towards urbanization.  The flight from rural America was helped along with family…… [read more]

Further Degradation of Fukushima Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 4 months ago

Today for the first time the NRC went on record saying that the Fukushima Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool was in deep trouble.

Mr Jaczko, who was briefing US politicians in Washington, said the NRC believed “there has been a hydrogen explosion in this unit due to an uncovering of the fuel in the spent fuel pool”.

“We believe that secondary containment has been destroyed and there is no water in the spent fuel pool. And we believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.”

There has been some disputing going on between Japanese officials and the NRC, but apparently not enough to cloud the trouble, and the apparent plans to address it.

As U.S. and Japanese officials disagreed on how to characterize the seriousness of the nuclear crisis, police planned to use a water cannon truck — normally used for crowd control — to try to cool an overheated and possibly dry spent-fuel pool, one of an escalating series of malfunctions at the Daiichi plant in Fukushima prefecture, 150 miles north of Tokyo. Without cooling, the spent rods could emit radioactive material.

[ ... ]

In Washington, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said at a congressional hearing that all the water has evaporated from the spent fuel storage pool at the complex’s No. 4 reactor. Japanese officials have not confirmed that.

While not acknowledging that the Unit 4 SFP is a problem, they acknowledge plans to use a water cannon to get water into the pool.

As I said before boiloff, dryout and zirconium fires in the SFP pose a more significant risk than what is happening inside a hard containment.

Prior:

Spent Fuel Pool Fire At The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant?

Primer for Studying News Releases on the Japanese Reactor Accidents

Crises, Crises Everywhere (and not a President to be found)

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 4 months ago

Folks, this post by White House blogger Keith Koffler sums up perfectly the abdication of office by this President:

The Middle East is afire with rebellion, Japan is imploding from an earthquake, and the battle of the budget is on in the United States, but none of this seems to be deterring President Obama from a heavy schedule of childish distractions.

The newly installed tandem of White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Senior Adviser David Plouffe were supposed to impart a new sense of discipline and purpose to the White House. Instead, they are permitting him to showcase himself as a poorly focused leader who has his priorities backward.

This morning, as Japan’s nuclear crisis enters a potentially catastrophic phase, we are told that Obama is videotaping his NCAA tournament picks and that we’ll be able to tune into ESPN Wednesday to find out who he likes.

Saturday, he made his 61st outing to the golf course as president, and got back to the White House with just enough time for a quick shower before heading out to party with Washington’s elite journalists at the annual Gridiron Dinner.

With various urgencies swirling about him, Saturday’s weekly videotaped presidential address focusing on “Women’s History Month” seemed bizarrely out of touch.

Obama Friday took time out to honor the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Thursday was a White House conference on bullying – not a bad idea perhaps, but not quite Leader of the Free World stuff either.

Obama appeared a little sleepy as he weighed in against the bullies, perhaps because he’d spent the night before partying with lawmakers as they took in a Chicago Bulls vs. Charlotte Bobcats game.

Meanwhile, the president has been studying for weeks whether to establish a No Fly Zone over Libya, delaying action while the point becomes increasingly moot as Qaddafi begins to defeat and slaughter his opponents. And lawmakers from both Parties are wondering why he seems to be AWOL in the deficit reduction debate.

The Libya indecision follows an inconsistent response to the protests that ousted former Egyptian President Mubarak and seemed to catch the White House off guard. The perfunctory response from the White House Monday to Saudi Arabia’s dispatch of troops to Bahrain suggested the administration wasn’t prepared for that one either.

But the fun stuff won’t end anytime soon. On Thursday, the Taoiseach of Ireland will be in town to help the president celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. And then Friday it’s off to Brazil for the start of a three-country Latin American tour.

When Obama took the oath of office, he swore:

“I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and I will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

If Obama refuses to faithfully execute his duties in such a brazen manner, perhaps it is time that he find other employment, or we, the people, can find it for him.  As things stand, I am not sure that we can wait until January, 2013.

Operations Suspended at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 4 months ago

From Foxnews:

Japan suspended operations to prevent the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant from melting down Wednesday after a surge in radiation made it too dangerous for workers to remain at the facility.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said work on dousing reactors with water was disrupted by the need to withdraw.

Foxnews is so far the only news media outlet reporting this.  Thus far I have made my objections known to the paucity of good information coming from Japan, and the misinterpretation and mischaracterization of the little that is available by MSM outlets.  It isn’t clear what this means.  It could mean that that efforts to ensure core cooling are being abandoned, and this is bad, but not the same thing as abandoning the plant entirely.  In the former case, we still have cores that have been partially rubblized and melted, fission products released, and partially contained within a hard containment, but attention still being paid to maintaining the integrity of the spent fuel pools.  In the later case, this is very bad indeed.  I had said earlier that I was actually more concerned about the radiological source term in the spent fuel pool than I was over the cores and containment.

Prior:

Spent Fuel Pool Fire At The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant?

Primer for Studying News Releases on the Japanese Reactor Accidents

Spent Fuel Pool Fire At The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 4 months ago

This goes to show just how bad the situation is – no, not the situation with the reactors (which is bad enough), but the situation with the flow of good information.

It had previously been reported that there was a fire in the Spent Fuel Pool of the Unit 4 nuclear reactor.  However, it wasn’t quite what it seemed.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that an oil leak in a cooling water pump at Unit 4 was the cause of a fire that burned for approximately 140 minutes. The fire was not in the spent fuel pool, as reported by several media outlets. Unit 4 was in a 105 – day – long maintenance outage at the time of the earthquake and there is no fuel in the reactor.

Or was it all it seemed to be?

Near the plant entrance, which is somewhat removed from the building, radiation rose to 11.93 millisieverts per hour at 9 a.m. but was back down to 0.5964 millisieverts at 3:30 p.m.

Elevated radiation levels were also detected in northern Kanto and the greater Tokyo area, which is further south. Readings from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. averaged 10 times higher than normal in some places, but still far below any level that would have an effect on the human body.

The No. 4 reactor had been shut down for a routine inspection, but the water temperature in the pool used to store spent fuel rods was rising. With the power now out and crews unable to enter the building, there is no way to know what is happening in the pool. If the temperature continues to rise, the rods could melt, threatening to release huge amounts of radioactive material.

From having performed the spent fuel characterization and shielding calculations, I know that the dose rate in a fuel pool building with the fuel uncovered by water would be as high as 50,000 rads/hr or even higher depending upon specific assumptions such as fuel burnup, decay time, enrichment, etc.  That’s why most U.S. reactors have multiple (not just redundant, but multiple) means of makeup of borated water to the Spent Fuel Pool.

So the operators cannot get into the building to observe the conditions due to lack of habitability.  If this fire is consuming oil, that’s one thing.  If there is a Zirconium (cladding) fire due to loss of water over the fuel assemblies, then given the lack of a hard containment for the spent fuel building, I am actually more concerned about that than releases of radioactivity from the reactor buildings due to holdup, decay, sedimentation and plateout of fission products inside containment.

But the point is that there is still a dearth of good, high quality, technical information flowing our direction.  Foxnews reported this morning that the dose (rate – although they didn’t understand that dose [rate] has units of time and didn’t report it as such) from radiation from the plant was the same immediately surrounding the plant and at 18 miles from the plant.  Of course, this is physically impossible given that radiation decreases like sound and light with the inverse of the square of the distance from the source (1/R²).

Be careful what you read – and believe.

Prior: Primer for Studying News Releases on the Japanese Reactor Accidents

I previously gave you ANS Nuclear Cafe for your study.  See also the informative link at the Nuclear Energy Institute.

UPDATE #1: Or it could all have been steam from pool boiling.

Primer for Studying News Releases on the Japanese Reactor Accidents

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 4 months ago

There is a dearth of quality, technically correct information and commentary on the Japanese reactor accidents occurring at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  In fact, some of it is downright wrong.  There is no hope of comprehensively reproducing a time line or of surveying all of the available news releases or reports.  I’ll link some very good sites shortly that will assist you in studying the future commentaries and reports.  Just to set the tone, if you are interested in one-and-a-half minute reading and tabloid hysteria, close this web page now.  Go to the tabloids – or most MSM sites – or so-called news television (with their “nuclear expert” du jour).  I won’t purvey hysteria or ignorant analysis.  I’ll begin with things that can’t happen, and phrases and terms to avoid in your reading and viewing.  We’ll move to a quick summary of what we know thus far about the accident(s), and close with an assessment of the consequences of this reactor accident for the future of Japan.

Perhaps the worst tabloid journalism thus far has come from Geraldo Rivera on Foxnews on Sunday evening.  Thousands of souls had been swept into the sea, and Geraldo was discussing how “radiation was like that voodoo stuff – you can’t see it, and that’s what makes it scary!”  The kind of hysteria extends to supposedly smart people like Charles Krauthammer, who said:

It’s a terrible potential. If you get a meltdown, of course, there is a catastrophe for the region.  But also every 20 years we say let’s try again with nuclear energy, it’s clean energy — it doesn’t put stuff into the atmosphere. [Now] if you get a “China Syndrome” as in 1979 … it could put the nuclear [industry] out of business for decades.

The Daily Mail reports that “As fuel rods melt, they form an extremely hot molten pool at the bottom of the reactor that can melt through even the toughest of containment barriers.”  To dispense with the myths, the China Syndrome was a movie.  What happens in the analytical models, and also in actual reactor accidents like Three Mile Island (TMI) Unit 2, is that the corium, that mixture of melted fuel, cladding and other internal reactor components like control rods and guide tubes, forms in some of the channels, further blocking fluid flow.  Eventually in an extreme reactor accident, much of the fuel shatters and becomes rubblized in the lower reactor vessel head.  This is in fact what happened at TMI in large measure, along with some core melting.

It doesn’t require melted fuel to release fission products.  Having written computer codes that model such releases, I can observe that much of the fission products are released in fuel heatup, and most releases occur prior to achieving fuel melt temperature, including most or all of the Noble Gases (Kr, Xe), much of the semi-volatiles (halogens) and some of the alkali metals (e.g., cesium).  Don’t forget this point.  This is important and I’ll come back to this later.

The corium isn’t modeled to melt through the lower vessel head except in the worst accidents where there is no coolant at all.  This isn’t the case for the Fukushima reactors.  Even in the event of complete breach of the lower vessel head, the corium doesn’t under any circumstances achieve melt-through of the lower basemat, which in some U.S. reactors is as much as 12 feet of concrete.  The corium disperses and cools from the dispersal.  There is no such thing as the China syndrome.  That’s just a dumb ass movie.  And reactors also don’t explode like nuclear weapons.  Nuclear radiation isn’t voodoo, and we know how to achieve protection against it.

Now to what we know about the accident.  When the tsunami occurred it disabled the offsite power to the plant.  Emergency diesel generators automatically started, and they functioned for approximately one hour until they shut down due to tsunami-induced damage to their fuel supply.  Power to the control valves in the reactor makeup operated until they lost battery backup.  DC power from batteries was consumed after about eight hours of operation.  The plant sustained a complete blackout (loss of all power), and it was at this point that fuel damage and Zirconium alloy (Zircalloy) – water interactions occurred, i.e., cladding oxidation.  This is an exothermic reaction and produced more heat, adding to the fuel fission product decay (or residual) heat to be removed by the cooling system.  It also produces hydrogen.

During some point in the past several days, hydrogen explosions occurred on Unit 1.  In an attempt to prevent the hydrogen concentration from being above the explosive limit, releases were made from Unit 3.  Ironically, it was likely a valve opening or some other electrical arc that caused the hydrogen explosion that occurred on Unit 3, further damaging not only Unit 3 but apparently also parts of Unit 2.  Any hydrogen explosion that looks like this has already degraded a lot of nuclear fuel.

In spite of Russian experts who wax eloquent about how the world learned from the Chernobyl accident and how we’re better able to handle reactor accidents because of the Russian experience, the Japanese reactor accidents aren’t like Chernobyl, and it isn’t because we learned from the Russian design.  I studied thousands of documents concerning Chernobyl and performed many calculations.  I trained the DOE safety analysis engineers on the nuclear design characteristics of the RBMK-1000 reactor (not as a DOE employee).

The RBMK reactor design was loosely neutronically coupled, and had an overall positive power coefficient.  That is, it was graphite-moderated, and since the water was a neutron poison rather than the moderator, the reactor was “over-moderated.”  This means that upon a loss of coolant, the reactor experienced a power excursion.  It had a positive void coefficient, leading to an increase in reactor power by a factor of 100 in less than 1 second.  Furthermore, its containment structure was little more than a sheet metal “Butler Building.”  The core was in flames and pouring fission products into the atmosphere.  More than 30 souls perished attempting to mitigate the accident, and many more contracted cancer from the releases of radioactivity.

Despite what some of the more “conservative,” pro-nuclear “experts” have said on national TV, the Chernobyl accident was a catastrophe.  I was in training with an engineer from Kiev not too many years ago, and he informed me that residents of Kiev still have to frisk their food with a GM detector and pancake probe prior to eating to ensure that they aren’t ingesting radioactivity.

So why was the RBMK reactor designed this way?  For the production of weapons-grade fissile material.  I have pictures of the Russians performing online refueling operations at the Chernobyl site to remove the weapons material.  The Russians tried to combine commercial nuclear power with weapons production.  The RBMK design is the result.  U.S. reactors are designed by federal code with a negative overall power coefficient (GDC 11), which shuts the reactor down in a loss of coolant or fuel heatup.

The Fukushima reactor accidents aren’t Chernobyl because they have a hard containment design and a negative power coefficient like U.S. reactors.  Unfortunately, that containment design is being breached periodically to release steam from the sea water that is flooding the core, and with the steam releases come radioactivity releases.  As I said before, much of the release of fission products to the containment has likely already occurred (meaning that while it’s important to cool the core, its also the case that sedimentation, washout, plateout and other removal mechanisms are acting on the fission products (including radioactive decay).

We in the U.S. had our core melt event; it was TMI.  There were essentially no releases of radioactivity and thus no health affects due to the hard containment design.  The Fukushima reactor accidents are worse than TMI given the breach of containment, but with the evacuation that has already occurred, the health affects will be minimized.

The main cost now to TEPCO will be the cleanup and decommissioning of the damaged reactors, which likely have rubblized cores sitting in the reactor vessel.  It will take a decade and tens of billions of dollars.  Just as with the Takaimura criticality accident, we will probably see senior company officers bowing before the nation and asking forgiveness.  This will probably spell the end of many careers, and the beginning of much soul searching over design and licensing basis seismic events, flood events and related design criteria.

There are many reports that have incorrect or incomplete information.  The reports on exposure to the 7th fleet is remarkable for its lack of technical detail.  We could perform a dose reconstitution with the available data, but we aren’t given any.  There are incorrect and inconsistent units of radiation being reported, and there are technical facts gotten wrong.  It’s best not to speculate on what we don’t know, and it’s best not to listen to the “experts” on television.

This is a serious reactor accident, one for the books.  Nuclear engineers will be studying this accident for decades to come, and it will affect reactor regulation in both Japan and the U.S.  But the Japanese worked remarkably efficiently to evacuate residents, and thus radiation exposure will be minimized.  This was yeoman’s work given the state of transportation after the tsunami.  The Japanese faced the perfect storm of problems, and they performed admirably.

But what this accident should not do is cause us to jettison the promising future of nuclear power because there might be some cesium uptake in Tuna in the Pacific.  When nuclear workers receive regular body burden analysis to assess the radioactive content in their body, the technician can tell if they are hunters.  “Do you hunt, sir?  Yes, I hunt deer.  Oh, that explains the Cs-137 spike I see.”  The Cs-137 doesn’t come from commercial nuclear reactors.  It comes from fallout from nuclear weapons testing during the 1950s and 1960s.  We’ve been there and done that.  It’s not a problem.

Only tabloid media could take a situation where thousands of souls were swept away in a tsunami and ignore that story for the real drama of a melted core (in which one soul has perished, and that from an industrial accident).  We need to maintain our perspective, and the proper perspective isn’t to have nightmares of melt-throughs to China.  We should leave that to the purveyors of hysteria.

Some good links (I will add to these later):

ANS Nuclear Cafe (for the best coverage and analysis of the Fukushima reactor accidents)

NUREG-1250, “Report on the Accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station.”

EPRI, NSAC-127, “Multidimensional Analysis of the Chernobyl Accident” (if you’re really interested in Chernobyl).

To Act or Not to Act? Libya is the Question

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 4 months ago

Ross Douthat sets forth a thin, but significant piece about the ongoing debate over military intervention in Libya.

First, he remarks that there is surprisingly little residual reluctance to take action in a Arab-muslim nation such as Libya after the U.S. experience in Iraq.

Five years ago, in the darkest days of insurgent violence and Sunni-Shia strife, it seemed as if the Iraq war would shadow American foreign policy for decades, frightening a generation’s worth of statesmen away from using military force. Where there had once been a “Vietnam syndrome,” now there would be an “Iraq syndrome,” inspiring harrowing flashbacks to Baghdad and Falluja in any American politician contemplating an intervention overseas.

But in today’s Washington, no such syndrome is in evidence. Indeed, it’s striking how quickly the bipartisan coalition that backed the Iraq invasion has reassembled itself to urge President Obama to use military force against Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Next he cites the surprising diversity and number of people calling for some form of intervention in Libya.

Now a similar chorus is arguing that the United States should intervene directly in Libya’s civil war: with a no-flight zone, certainly, and perhaps with arms for the Libyan rebels and air strikes against Qaddafi’s military as well. As in 2002 and 2003, the case for intervention is being pushed by a broad cross-section of politicians and opinion-makers, from Bill Clinton to Bill Kristol, Fareed Zakaria to Newt Gingrich, John Kerry to Christopher Hitchens.

Douthat, however, believes that American leadership has not learned the clear lessons of Iraq.   He explains:

In reality, there are lessons from our years of failure in Iraq that can be applied to an air war over Libya as easily as to a full-scale invasion or counterinsurgency. Indeed, they can be applied to any intervention — however limited its aims, multilateral its means, and competent its commanders.

One is that the United States shouldn’t go to war unless it has a plan not only for the initial military action, but also for the day afterward, and the day after that. Another is that the United States shouldn’t go to war without a detailed understanding of the country we’re entering, and the forces we’re likely to empower.

Moreover, even with the best-laid plans, warfare is always a uniquely high-risk enterprise — which means that the burden of proof should generally rest with hawks rather than with doves, and seven reasonable-sounding reasons for intervening may not add up to a single convincing case for war.

Are these really the lessons to be learned from the war in Iraq?

I don’t think so.

First, Douthat believes that no military action, no matter how small, should be undertaken unless there is detailed planning for every, possible contingency.  This is palpable nonsense.  Clearly there are occasions when military action can be taken– indeed must be taken at times– without volumes of risk assessment and contingency planning.   To harp on just one, the Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden clearly does not require obsessive planning for each and every use of force.  As posted by the Captain before, the only planning needed for dealing with pirates is whether to use an additional drum of ammunition in dispatching them.

Advanced, detailed planning of the sort envisioned by Douthat is not needed in responding forcefully to clear, hostile provocations, such as the Iranian provocations in the Persian Gulf in the 1980′s.  Indeed, this obsessive, over-planning mentality is not only a hindrance to effective military action but a danger as it threatens to negate one of America’s greatest tactical military advantages:  the spirit of initiative and innovation of our military commanders and line units.

Moreover, even if it were possible to engage in this kind of obsessive pre-planning, what good would result?  It is axiomatic in war, Bismarck tells us, that no plan survives first contact with the enemy.   If Douthat wants a clear lesson from the Iraq war, surely Bismarck’s advice is one that is conveniently forgotten in the rush to blame and criticize the Iraq campaign.

Secondly, Douthat believes that no military action can be undertaken without “a detailed understanding of the country we’re entering, and the forces we’re likely to empower.”  Granted, as Sun Tzu said, it is best to know as much about your enemy as possible.  The problem is that Douthat’s fine-sounding advice is of little use outside of the faculty room or the halls of think tanks.   Yes, our nation needs to have an ongoing program that seeks to deepen our understanding of potential adversaries (not to mention allies).  This used to be the province of the C.I.A. and D.I.A.   Perhaps, in light of the sclerotic record, we should no longer take that for granted.  Nevertheless, this understanding must already exist and permeate the counsels of the President as a given when any military action is being considered.

It is not the kind of thing that exists in its own sphere.   To Douthat, it seems as an either-or proposition:  we either understand Libya, for example, or we do not.   In reality, we understand some things about Libya and its people and do not understand others (just as we understand some things about everything under the sun– with the possible exception of liberals who appear incomprehensible, even among themselves).   There is no point at which leaders can say, we understand everything about this nation.  There are gaps.   There are cultural blinders.  We must act within these parameters, not wait until we have achieved some mystical level of enlightenment.

Thirdly, Douthat argues for a rule that the “hawks” have the overwhelming “burden of proof” in any consideration for military action given the inherent risks and costs of war.

Certainly there is some sense in this.  Particularly as the scale of the action increases.  But Douthat’s rule here is more a reflection of his own predilections than an objective measure.   In other words, he argues that those advocating military intervention be forced to prove the merits of it, presumably beyond either a shadow of a doubt (the criminal standard of proof) or at least by a preponderance of the evidence (the civil legal standard).   But this is because, to Douthat, the costs and risks of acting far outweigh the costs and risks of inaction.  That is his preference (and likely that of most on the Left and in the Democrat party).   But a strong argument can be made that the costs and risks of inaction are no less than that of taking action and there is an abundance of historical examples too numerous to cite.

The Iraq war does not teach us that the so-called “hawks” should have been forced to prove their case beyond all doubt or debate.   Just the opposite.  Iraq is an example of action being taken where many of the risks were unknown and unknowable.   We can be fairly certain that inaction would have resulted in Saddam remaining in power, continuing to evade sanctions and increasing his capacity for mayhem, including WMDs. Thankfully, we took action and there is, at the very least, a struggling democracy with the hope of progress and of no threat to the U.S. or U.S. allies.

Applying Douthat’s rules to Libya is a foregone conclusion for inaction and timidity.  Here is Douthat’s conclusion:

Advocates of a Libyan intervention don’t seem to have internalized these lessons. They have rallied around a no-flight zone as their Plan A for toppling Qaddafi, but most military analysts seem to think that it will fail to do the job, and there’s no consensus on Plan B. Would we escalate to air strikes? Arm the rebels? Sit back and let Qaddafi claim to have outlasted us?

If we did supply the rebels, who exactly would be receiving our money and munitions? Libya’s internal politics are opaque, to put it mildly. But here’s one disquieting data point, courtesy of the Center for a New American Security’s Andrew Exum: Eastern Libya, the locus of the rebellion, sent more foreign fighters per capita to join the Iraqi insurgency than any other region in the Arab world.

And if the civil war dragged on, what then? Twice in the last two decades, in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, the United States has helped impose a no-flight zone. In both cases, it was just a stepping-stone to further escalation: bombing campaigns, invasion, occupation and nation-building.

None of this means that an intervention is never the wisest course of action. But the strategic logic needs to be compelling, the threat to our national interest obvious, the case for war airtight.

“Airtight” ?  That is a standard that will never be met in the real world.

I do not advocate direct military intervention in Libya, necessarily.  But the arguments by Douthat are spurious ones, designed to throw impossible obstacles in the way of action while seeming to be reasonable and leaving open the possibility for the use of force.

What I do advocate, however, is an American foreign policy that pursues American interests first.  Not the E.U.  Not the U.N.   Not the cheese-eaters and wine-tasters of the D.C. Beltway or that nebulous “world opinion.”

When I look at Libya I see, first and foremost, a dictator that has been a constant enemy of America; someone who ordered the bombing of a civilian airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland and still has innocent American blood on his hands to account for; someone who has toyed with nukes in the past and funds all manner of terrorists abroad.   If an opportunity arises to rid the earth of such a person, then serious consideration must be given.

This need not mean land invasion or no-fly zone.  There was a time when the U.S. possessed covert resources that could tip the scales in our favor in time of need.   If the U.S. lacks those covert resources now, that is to our everlasting shame and cannot be tolerated.  At one time, if I recall, the mujaheddin in Afghanistan found themselves in possession of Stinger anti-air missiles that were crucial in negating Soviet air power, leading eventually to a humiliating retreat by the Soviets.  With our advanced electronics assets, is it impossible for us to track down Qaddafi’s whereabouts and put an anonymous J-DAM into his bathroom window?

The point being that there exist an array of options, short of outright ground troops or decades-long air patrols, that can be employed to take out the dictator.   What happens next is a job for our diplomatic corps and the contingent of spooks that can be sent in to help things along toward a favorable outcome.   But people like Douthat only want to deal in terms of extremes.  If we can’t invade, we can’t do anything.  Nonsense.  Douthat is doing nothing more than providing a fig leaf to Obama’s congenital indecisiveness.   The heat is on for Obama to do something and Douthat wants to give Obama some cover.   Nothing new there.

But as an argument, it does not stand up.   To be sure there are risks to taking action.  There may be unintended consequences.  But, if worse comes to worse and Libya, however improbably, sinks lower than Qaddafi’s vile government, there are always options.  Always.

Amelioration of Battle Space Weight and Women in Combat

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 4 months ago

Do you recall what Tim Lynch said about battle space weight?

Many of their Marines are suffering chronic stress fractures, low back problems as well as hip problems caused by carrying loads in excess of 130 pounds daily.  ”We’re fighting the Mothers of America” said one; if we lose a Marine and he was not wearing everything in the inventory to protect him that becomes the issue.  Trying to explain that we have removed the body armor to reduce the chances of being shot is a losers game because you can’t produce data quantifying the reduction in gun shot wounds for troops who remain alert and are able to move fast due to a lighter load.

Do you recall what I said?

This Marine is carrying his backpack filled with food, hydration system, clothing, etc., and is also carrying ammunition, weapon, body armor, and other equipment.  He is likely going “across the line” at 120 to 130 pounds.  He is suffering in heat and with heavy battle space weight.  For weight lifters like me, let’s put this in terms we can understand.  This is like putting three York 45 pound plates in a backpack and humping it for ten or fifteen miles in 100+ degree Fahrenheit weather.

Battle space weight is a recurring theme at The Captain’s Journal, and will remain so.  Money should be devoted to the weight reduction of SAPI plates in body armor and other low and even high hanging fruit.  The weight of water is decided by God and cannot be altered.

Another salient point bears down on us.  This is why women are not allowed in Marine infantry (or Army Special Forces), and why women suffered an inordinately high number of lower extremity injuries (leading to ineffective Russian units) when they deployed with the Russian Army in their losing campaign in Afghanistan.  Just like God decides the weight of water, He also decides the physiques of men and women.

And NPR weighs in.

Soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan routinely carry between 60 and 100 pounds of gear including body armor, weapons and batteries.

The heavy loads shouldered over months of duty contribute to the chronic pain suffered by soldiers like Spc. Joseph Chroniger, who deployed to Iraq in 2007.

Twenty-five years old, he has debilitating pain from a form of degenerative arthritis and bone spurs. “I mean my neck hurts every day. Every day,” he says. “You can’t concentrate on anything but that because it hurts that bad.”

Like many soldiers and Marines, Chroniger shouldered 70 to 80 pounds of gear daily.

A 2001 Army Science Board study recommended that no soldier carry more than 50 pounds for any length of time.

“We were doing three, four, five missions a night sometimes,” Chroniger says. “You’re jumping out. You’re running. I mean it hurts — it hurts.”

Muscle strain is usually a short-term condition that has always been prevalent among soldiers.

But after a decade of war, the number of acute injuries that have progressed to the level of chronic pain has grown significantly.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who retired with musculoskeletal conditions grew tenfold between 2003 and 2009.

Col. Stephen Bolt, chief of anesthesia at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., says the Army has started deploying physical therapists to serve with some infantry brigades in combat areas.

“The faster you can address some of those issues at the clinic level, the less likely you are to see those injuries progress to a true chronic-pain state that’s going to require them to be evacuated from theater and replaced by someone else,” Bolt says.

But that’s a relatively new concept.

Col. Diane Flynn, chief of pain medicine at Madigan, says chronic pain is complex and challenging for the patient and the physician.

“Primary care providers who provide most of the pain management to patients have had very limited tools in their toolbox,” she says. “And it’s medications for the most part and maybe physical therapy — but very little to offer in addition to that.”

In an effort to provide more options for pain management and lessen the dependence on prescription drugs, the Army is starting to incorporate other forms of treatment including yoga, meditation and acupuncture.

Deploying physical therapists is a great idea.  But the best possible enhancement to warrior recovery hasn’t been floated, i.e., deployment of Chiropractors.  Reduction of battle space weight is one avenue of approach to maintain healthy skeletal and soft tissue systems, but immediate medical amelioration is possibly the best effect for the dollar that could be spent.  Chiropractors are our best bet.

On another front, we find repeated accounts of the duress that our warriors are under due to battle space weight, and this, interestingly enough, at the same time that we see silly and sophomoric advocacy for women in combat roles.  But Former Spook reminds us that:

Almost 20 years ago, columnist Fred Reed published results of an Army study, comparing fitness levels among male and female soldiers. The data reaffirms that most women simply lack the upper body strength and endurance required by an Army infantryman, a Marine rifleman, or most special forces MOS’s.

The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength… An Army study of 124 men and 186 women done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer fractures as men.

The Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony about the physical differences between men and women that can be summarized as follows:

Women’s aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue.

In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man.

The same report also cited a West Point study from the early 90s which discovered that, in terms of fitness, the upper quintile of female cadets achieved scores equal to the lowest quintile of their male counterparts (emphasis ours).

So, what’s a chief diversity officer supposed to do (don’t laugh–the commission recommends creation of that very post, reporting directly to the SecDef). Water down the standards so more women will qualify for combat service, removing that “barrier” to reaching the flag ranks? Or create some sort of double-standard, allowing females to punch their resumes in the right places and continue their climb to the stars.

Good data and perspective, but he equivocates by saying:

No one disputes the benefits of more flag officers who are women or members of minority groups. But the real emphasis should be on demanding excellence from all who aspire to flag rank, and promoting those who meet–and exceed–a very high bar. Some of the “remedies” outlined in the Lyles report seem closer to social engineering, particularly when you introduce the notions of “measurement” and “metrics.”

So that no one is confused and to ensure that I’m not misinterpreted, and just to make sure that we know that Former Spook is incorrect in this first assertion, let me state unequivocally and without reservation: I do dispute the benefits of more flag officers who are women or members of minority groups.

Note that this is from someone who would vote for a certain black man for president of the U.S. before any white man I know (and my co-blogger agrees).  I see no need to recruit the presumed “brightest” from Ivy League schools, and no one has offered me a compelling reason to believe that the principles of war and strategy and tactics in warfare are a function of race or gender, any more than, say, the sciences or engineering could benefit from a white, black, male or female presence.  Anyone who believes something like that doesn’t understand the sciences or engineering (or warfare).  That kind of thought is reserved for onlookers who want to do social engineering.  It’s for the land of make-believe, the domain of people who spent too much time and money learning from effeminate professors in college classrooms.

And so too the notion that women can handle loads of 120 pounds on ten miles humps when male bodies are breaking down doing it.  Long gone are the notions of winning hearts and minds by driving to the front in vehicles and drinking tea as a means to combat the insurgency.  This is an infantryman’s war, and it means fighting.

Finally, just to make sure that you know the stakes, let me make one thing clear.  If you claim that combat “roles” should be opened up to women but don’t clearly delineated that you mean infantryman (for the Marines that MOS 0311), you are hedging and not being honest.  At least be honest with what you say.  And finally, if you claim that the infantryman MOS should be opened up to women but exclude special operations forces, you are a liar.

Let me make it clear again.  If you want to open the infantryman billet to women but exclude SOF (SEAL, Ranger, Green Beret, Army Combat Diver, Marine Scout Sniper, Force Recon), you are a liar.  You are being disingenuous and dishonest, and it’s not even worth debating you.  You don’t really even believe what you are saying.  You want to believe that infantry is now only part of so-called “general purpose” forces, that they serve only as policemen in our new nation-building paradigm.  Leave it to SOF to do the kinetics.  But you know that this won’t last.  Your paradigm is a pipe dream, and Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that.

So if you care to debate the issue I am open to such a debate.  But let’s be clear that it doesn’t begin at opening “combat roles” to women (whatever combat roles means).  The debate will be an honest one, which means that in order to be consistent and honest, you must advocate that all billets, including SOF, be opened to women.  Otherwise, don’t even bother with the debate.

When Mullahs Misbehave: Iran Smuggles Rockets, U.S. Winks

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 4 months ago

The Telegraph has the story.

British Special Forces in Afghanistan have seized a convoy of powerful Iranian rockets destined for Taliban fighters.

The haul is the strongest evidence yet of a significant escalation in Tehran’s support for the Taliban, military officials said.

The consignment of 48 rockets hidden in three trucks was intercepted last month after a fierce fire fight which left several insurgents dead in the remote southern province of Nimroz, bordering Iran.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the British ambassador has raised the matter with officials in Tehran.

“I am extremely concerned by the latest evidence that Iran continues to supply the Taliban with weaponry – weapons clearly intended to provide the Taleban with the capability to kill Afghan and ISAF soldiers from significant range,” he said.

“It is not the behaviour of a responsible neighbour. It is at odds with Iran’s claim to the international community and to its own people that it supports stability and security in Afghanistan.”

The 122mm rockets have twice the range and twice the blast radius of the Taliban’s more commonly used 107mm missiles and have not been seen in action against Nato forces for the past four years.

The 48 weapons had been deliberately disguised to appear manufactured elsewhere, but tests by weapons experts had determined they were from an Iranian factory.

So let me make sure that I understand this.  British SAS nab a convoy of three trucks shortly after they cross into Afghanistan from Iran carrying a load of potent rockets for use against U.S. and allied forces.  Last time I checked, Iran does not have wide open borders where any sympathetic, Iranian, Taliban-lover could decide to truck in a load of 122mm rockets on a whim.   The rockets came from the mullahs and their henchmen, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.  No two ways about it.   Yet the article phrases this as, “the strongest evidence yet of a significant escalation in Tehran’s support for the Taliban…”  This is not “evidence” of anything.   It is the proverbial smoking gun.   It is both hands in the cookie jar, crumbs all over the face, cookie sticking out of the mouth.   And, so far, the most strident statement comes from the British Foreign Secretary, to wit: good neighbors do not send 122mm rockets across the border.

Here is an account published in Yahoo News! of the same incident which provides additional details:

The shipment is seen as a serious escalation in Iran’s state support of the Taliban insurgency, according to NATO officials and described in detail by an international intelligence official.

It’s also an escalation in the proxy war Western officials say Iran is waging against U.S. and other Western forces in Afghanistan, as Washington continues to lobby for tougher international sanctions against Tehran to dissuade it from its alleged goal of building nuclear weapons.

Fascinating.  This is a “serious escalation” of Iran’s “proxy war…against U.S. and other Western forces…”  Yes, indeed.  It seems to be accepted that Iran is waging a proxy war against us.  Afterall, the U.S. is not blameless.   We are hurting Iran, lobbying “for tougher international sanctions” that do nothing to stop their nuke program but, on the other hand, no doubt hurt their feelings very much.

The article goes on to note that the Taliban are not happy with the common weapons and ammunition being provided by the mullahs:

In a separate development, the intelligence official said a high-level Afghan Taliban leader had travelled to Iran in the past two weeks to meet with a top Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force leader to ask for more powerful weapons to attack Afghan and NATO troops in the spring and summer fighting season.

***

In the alleged meeting with the Quds Force, the Taliban leader is believed to have asked the Iranians to provide more shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile systems, such as the two Iran provided in 2007, which were used against one British and one U.S. Chinook helicopter, the official said. But Iran has not provided such weapons since, sticking to the smaller 107-millimeter rockets, C4 plastic explosives that have been used in some improvised explosive devices here, rocket-propelled grenades, and small arms like AK47 assault rifles, the official said.

Good to know that the IRG has some limits on what types of weaponry they will and will not furnish for the express purpose of killing Americans.  Of course, we assume that the IRG has not “provided such weapons since…”  How can we know for sure?   Maybe the IRG sent our Afghan commanders a small note:  sorry about those AA missiles, guys.  Just kidding around with you!

What sort of response has this “escalation” earned the regime in Tehran?  (A regime, mind you, that is incomparably more brutal and bloodthirsty than the Libyan regime that Obama recently said had lost its right to rule).

Nothing.

If one our readers can provide a link or quote to an official White House or State Department response to this latest outrage, I will gladly update this post.   I have yet to find one.   This is perfectly consistent with an Administration that, over and over again, is voting “present” on every, major foreign policy issue.

Iranian uprising in 2009?  Sorry, can’t meddle.  Don’t want to be seen intruding on the internal affairs of the bloodthirsty tyrants in Tehran.

Overthrow of autocracy in Tunisia?  Missed that one.  Sorry.  Busy getting a Slurpee or something.

Riots in Egypt?  Well, um, some of us think Mubarak is a swell guy and others think he has to go, but not yet, eventually, maybe, and probably soon if it looks like the protesters are actually going to succeed.

Revolt in Libya?  We’re thinking….long and hard.  Yes, Qaddafi should step down, but we are not prepared to help in any meaningful way, regardless of the slaughter.

Pathetic.

And here we have the latest outrage from the Dictators in Tehran, caught red-handed providing rockets to the Taliban (and entertaining Taliban officials with weapons shopping lists) and the Administration has no response.

But cheer up.  Our recently-demoted to second-class-ally-status Brits are going to have a word with the Iranian ambassador.  Terrific.

How much lower can we sink?

The Difficulty of Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 4 months ago

C. J. Chivers gives us a rundown of the current state of affairs in Afghanistan, and the money quotes follow.

Officially, Mr. Obama’s Afghan buildup shows signs of success, demonstrating both American military capabilities and the revival of a campaign that had been neglected for years. But in the rank and file, there has been little triumphalism as the administration’s plan has crested.

With the spring thaw approaching, officers and enlisted troops alike say they anticipate another bloody year. And as so-called surge units complete their tours, to be replaced by fresh battalions, many soldiers, now seasoned with Afghan experience, express doubts about the prospects of the larger campaign.

The United States military has the manpower and, thus far, the money to occupy the ground that its commanders order it to hold. But common questions in the field include these: Now what? How does the Pentagon translate presence into lasting success?

The answers reveal uncertainty. “You can keep trying all different kinds of tactics,” said one American colonel outside of this province. “We know how to do that. But if the strategic level isn’t working, you do end up wondering: How much does it matter? And how does this end?”

The strategic vision, roughly, is that American units are trying to diminish the Taliban’s sway over important areas while expanding and coaching Afghan government forces, to which these areas will be turned over in time.

But the colonel, a commander who asked that his name be withheld to protect him from retaliation, referred to “the great disconnect,” the gulf between the intense efforts of American small units at the tactical level and larger strategic trends.

The Taliban and the groups it collaborates with remain deeply rooted; the Afghan military and police remain lackluster and given to widespread drug use; the country’s borders remain porous; Kabul Bank, which processes government salaries, is wormy with fraud, and President Hamid Karzai’s government, by almost all accounts, remains weak, corrupt and erratically led.

And the Pakistani frontier remains a Taliban safe haven.

I agree with Chivers’ assessment that the U.S. has the troops to hold the ground that the commanders order it to hold.  But as Chivers points out earlier in the article:

In and near places like this village in Ghazni Province, American units have pushed their counterinsurgency doctrine and rules for waging war into freshly contested areas of rural Afghanistan  — even as their senior officers have decided to back out of other remote areas, like the Pech, Korangal and Nuristan valleys, once deemed priorities. In doing so, American infantry units have expanded a military footprint over lightly populated terrain from the Helmand and Arghandab River basins to the borders of the former Soviet Union, where the Taliban had been weak.

As readers will recall, abandoning the Pech Valley is problematic, and thus I have observed:

Here is a tip for future reading, study and, well, let’s be frank – wading through the misdirects that both the MSM and military PR sends your way.  When you hear the reflexive, tired, worn out mantra that we are having difficulty defeating the Taliban and those forces aligned with AQ because Pakistan simply won’t go into their safe havens and root them out, this is a nothing but a magic trick, a sleight of hand, a smoke screen, a ruse.  The issue is fake.  It’s a well-designed farce.

Oh, to be sure, the U.S. would indeed like for the Pakistanis to go kill all of the Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban and AQ affiliated groups so that we don’t have to deal with them in Afghanistan.  But we have the ideal chance to address the problem head on in the Pech Valley and other areas near the AfPak border – that Durand line that exists only as a figment of our imaginations.  Essentially, much of the Hindu Kush is available for us to do the same thing we want Pakistan to do …

Note Chivers’ observation that the borders remain porous and that the Taliban still have safe haven.  Thus, while U.S. troops can clear areas and hold them, commanders note that the Taliban are beginning to return to Sangin.  The U.S. has enough troops to hold Sangin, but not enough to press the insurgency into their safe havens, find them and kill them.  We have intentionally and knowingly opted out of chasing them into their safe havens.  So the U.S. doesn’t have enough troops to do anything except play “whack-a-mole” counterinsurgency.

While U.S. troops maintain their tactical superiority over the insurgency, that’s not the same thing as a strategically cogent and compelling plan.  We are holding terrain, some terrain – some physical terrain and some human terrain – and relinquishing other terrain.  The insurgency is being squeezed from one place to another.

Recall that someone else discussed this as well?  Take a few minutes and listen again to this interview of Lt. Col. Allen West (Ret) as he discusses the various options and why holding terrain won’t work.  Tactical superiority and strategic malaise.  Same as it’s always been in Afghanistan.  And finally, our campaign is a model of the one conceived in Army Field Manual FM 3-24.  This is expensive, long term, protracted duration nation-building by-the-book in the most logistically unsustainable and overall worst place on earth.

Can it succeed?

Connecting the Dots: The Muslim Brotherhood And Middle East Unrest

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 4 months ago

A TCJ reader, “Dave,” wrote an excellent comment to a post not too long ago on the unrest in Egypt and the lack of response by the U.S.   He links to an article by Barry Rubin of the Global Research in International Affairs Center (aka GLORIA Center) that was first published on October 9, 2010.

This comment is so striking and important that I believe it needs to be highlighted as a separate post.  When you consider that Rubin’s article was written months before any of the arab uprisings, it sounds almost prophetic and deserves to be quoted at considerable length.  Reporting on a sermon delivered on September 30, 2010 by the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt, Rubin states:

This is one of those obscure  Middle East events of the utmost significance that is ignored by the Western mass media, especially because they happen in Arabic, not English; by Western governments, because they don’t fit their policies; and by experts, because they don’t mesh with their preconceptions.

This explicit formulation of a revolutionary program makes it a game-changer. It should be read by every Western decision maker and have a direct effect on policy because this development may affect people’s lives in every Western country.

OK, cnough of a build-up? Well, it isn’t exaggerated. So don’t think the next sentence is an anticlimax. Here we go: The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has endorsed (Arabic) (English translation by MEMRI) anti-American Jihad and pretty much every element in the al-Qaida ideology book. Since the Brotherhood is the main opposition force in Egypt and Jordan as well as the most powerful group, both politically and religiously, in the Muslim communities of Europe and North America this is pretty serious stuff.

By the way, no one can argue that he merely represents old, tired policies of the distant past because the supreme guide who said these things was elected just a few months ago. His position reflects current thinking.

Does that mean the Egyptian, Jordanian, and all the camouflaged Muslim Brotherhood fronts in Europe and North America are going to launch terrorism as one of their affiliates, Hamas, has long done? No.

But it does mean that something awaited for decades has happened: the Muslim Brotherhood is ready to move from the era of propaganda and base-building to one of revolutionary action. At least, its hundreds of thousands of followers are being given that signal. Some of them will engage in terrorist violence as individuals or forming splinter groups; others will redouble their efforts to seize control of their countries and turn them into safe areas for terrorists and instruments for war on the West.

When the extreme and arguably marginal British Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary says that Islam will conquer the West and raise its flag over the White House, that can be treated as wild rhetoric. His remark is getting lots of attention because he said it in English in an interview with CNN. Who cares what he says?

But when the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood says the same thing in Arabic, that’s a program for action, a call to arms for hundreds of thousands of people, and a national security threat to every Western country.

The Brotherhood is the group that often dominates Muslim communities in the West and runs mosques. Its cadre control front groups that are often recognized by Western democratic governments and media as authoritative. Government officials in many countries meet with these groups, ask them to be advisers for counter-terrorist strategies and national policies, and even fund them.

President Barack Obama speaks about a conflict limited solely to al-Qaida. And if one is talking about the current military battle in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen that point makes sense. Yet there is a far bigger and wider battle going on in which revolutionary Islamists seek to overthrow their own rulers and wage long-term, full-scale struggle against the West. If it doesn’t involve violence right now it will when they get strong enough or gain power.

More than three years ago, I warned about this development, in a detailed analysis explaining, “The banner of the Islamist revolution in the Middle East today has largely passed to groups sponsored by or derived from the Muslim Brotherhood.” I pointed out the differences-especially of tactical importance-between the Brotherhood groups and al-Qaida or Hizballah, but also discussed the similarities. This exposure so upset the Brotherhood that it put a detailed response on its official website to deny my analysis.

Yet now here is the Brotherhood’s new supreme guide, Muhammad Badi giving a sermon entitled, “How Islam Confronts the Oppression and Tyranny,” translated by MEMRI. Incidentally, everything Badi says is in tune with the stances and holy books of normative Islam. It is not the only possible interpretation but it is a completely legitimate interpretation. Every Muslim knows, even if he disagrees with the Brotherhood’s position, that this isn’t heresy or hijacking or misunderstanding.

Maybe it is just coincidence and it may be an over-estimation of the MB’s reach and influence to view the spate of uprisings in the Middle East as a carefully calculated stratagem, but it takes no imagination whatsoever to see that:  1) the MB felt sufficiently confident by October 2010 in plainly and openly stating their call for war against the West and any muslim regime that cooperated with the West, and;  2)  consistent with that declaration, the MB has quickly and effectively pounced upon the enormous opportunities afforded by the unrest and is systematically seeking to turn that unrest to their advantage.

One evidence of this is brought to light in another article by Barry Rubin on the MB’s campaign, post-Mubarak, to take over the clerical leadership in Egypt.

This is of gigantic importance (see if anyone else covers it). MEMRI has pointed out the opening of a Muslim Brotherhood campaign to replace Egypt’s current clerical hierarchy with its own people. If that happens…you can imagine. Once Islamists are in place making the “official” decisions on what constitutes proper Islam, an Islamist state cannot be far away.

Let me explain the background briefly. Knowing that control over Islam was vital to maintaining control of the country, the Egyptian regime (like nationalist regimes elsewhere) set out to build a systematic structure for doing so. The head of the al-Azhar Islamic university, the chief qadi, the clerics of different mosques, are government-appointed. Sermons are government-approved. A ministry in charge of awqaf (religious foundations) and religion supervises all of this and hands out the money. And the government also decides which clerics appear on television and radio, or even have their own programs.

Over the last decade or so, the “official” clerics have been radicalized, and they support terrorism against Israel. Yet there is still a huge gap between those who accepted the rule by Mubarak’s regime and those who demand an Islamist regime. They hate the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood hates them.

Now, if all of these official clerics are declared to be corrupt instruments of the old regime and are thrown out of office, the Brotherhood will control “Islam” in Egypt. Equally important, they will control a vast amount of patronage and money. Every cleric will have to get along with them or be unemployed. They could authorize which mosques could open. They would control religious education.

The MB-affiliated cleric, Muhammad Zoghbi, is quoted in the MEMRI translation of his February 15, 2011 television appearance as calling on the leaders of Al-Azhar University as well as the mufti of Egypt to resign.

Al-Azhar was subjected to a dangerous scheme, which was intended to shatter it and bring it down. This scheme consisted of three aspects: First, the politicization of the positions of the sheikh of Al-Azhar and the mufti of Egypt, as well as the position of the minister of religious endowments. These positions must be filled through elections. By no means should these officials be appointed by the president. Why? Because this politicization has led the people to lose their trust in Al-Azhar and its sheiks. [...]

“Therefore I say to the ‘sons’ of Al-Azhar: Let us all join the campaign, led by Sheik Khaled Al-Gindi, until we liberate Al-Azhar, just like Egypt was liberated. The liberation of Al-Azhar is even better than the liberation of Egypt, because while Egypt is the mother of the Arab region, Al-Azhar is the mother of all the Muslims on planet Earth. If Al-Azhar gets back on its feet, the entire nation will be back on its feet, and if Al-Azhar is back on track, the entire nation will be back on track. The president of Egypt must be subordinate to Al-Azhar and respect it. [...]

This has the eerie feeling that we have been here before.   1979 in Iran, perhaps?  This is the very same pattern:  de-legitimize the current religious leadership as being too connected and tainted by the old regime, then call for the appointment of new leadership subject to your own choosing.  Finally, make it clear that the political leadership, “must be subordinate to Al-Azhar and respect it.”  As Rubin notes, the real levers of power in Egypt can then transfer to the religious clerics.   If the Muslim Brotherhood can control these levers then they will be in position to dictate the shape and make-up of power in Egypt just as the mad mullahs did in Iran.

What about Libya?   The infamous cleric, Sheikh Qaradawi, has reportedly issued a fatwa that Gaddafi be killed.  The MB has been present in Libya since at least the 1950′s, at first openly and later, under Gaddafi, as a banned group operating covertly.  It stands to reason that the fall of Gaddafi would present a huge opportunity for the MB to expand its influence there.

What lessons can we draw here?

Surely one is that the U.S. cannot play defense in its foreign policy, by merely propping up friendly authoritarians.  When we line up on the side of dictators and thugs, we are sending a very clear message to people oppressed with our support that the U.S. talk of human rights and freedom is only so much hot air.  This, in turn, gives ample ammunition to groups like the MB who can effectively argue that their version of Islam is the only, true solution.  The U.S. has effectively ceded the playing field, so to speak, to the enemy.  Not only that but the U.S. has effectively given up– to continue the sports metaphor– developing any kind of farm system where we can have influence in developing future leaders who can puncture the lies of the Islamists.   We find ourselves with no, real options in Egypt for the precise reason that we never seriously and strategically pursued democratic formation in these countries.  We have, shamefully, left the Egyptian people with no one to turn to except the MB.

Another lesson is the importance of long-term, strategic thinking.   Note the striking difference between how the MB plays the game and how the U.S. has played it.   The MB was founded in 1928 with a clear purpose and objective to take power in Egypt and, from there, to re-establish theocratic Islamic states throughout the Middle East.   The MB has shown incredible patience and cunning, adopting conciliatory postures when they were weak or faced overwhelming opposition, but taking advantage of opportunities when available.  For over 75 years, the MB has been building its organization and extending its tentacles in Egypt.  And not only Egypt but throughout the Middle East by providing the ideological support (and perhaps logistical support) for groups like Hamas and opposition groups in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.   The U.S., by contrast, has no, obvious, long-term strategy in the region.   In fact, our policy, to the extent that we have one is neglect (at best) and, as practiced by the Obama Administration, a positive refusal to “interfere” in the affairs of any Middle East nation, even the worst such as Iran and Syria.   No, we go out of our way to extend a hand to them.   Surely the Islamofascists must be laughing their turbans off in amazement.

In fact, there is a clear note of triumphalism in Badi’s September 30, 2010 sermon (as translated by MEMRI):

Resistance is the only solution…. The United States cannot impose an agreement upon the Palestinians, despite all the means and power at its disposal. [Today] it is withdrawing from Iraq, defeated and wounded, and it is also on the verge of withdrawing from Afghanistan. [All] its warplanes, missiles and modern military technology were defeated by the will of the peoples, as long as [these peoples] insisted on resistance – and the wars of Lebanon and Gaza, which were not so long ago, [are proof of this].

The Administration’s conciliatory gestures and haste to exit Iraq and Afghanistan simply embolden the enemies of freedom and convince them to redouble their efforts.  Worse, there is every indication that the Administration has no clue what it is doing and simply bounces around from event to event, reacting and recalculating its position with every new day and every news cycle.

Everyone should be closely watching events in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East for signs that the Muslim Brotherhood is actively instigation or, at least, co-opting the unrest to its advantage.  One pattern that may be emerging is that the protests seem to be fiercest in those countries that have governments which cooperate to some degree with the war on terror.   Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen.   All of these states have cooperated to one degree or another with the West in the war against Islamic terrorism or have not actively encouraged jihad against the West.   In the case of Libya, it may be a case of sheer luck for the MB which they are now seeking to fully exploit.   In any case, Qaddafi has been no friend to the MB.  Watch for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to be hit with “spontaneous” unrest in the next weeks or months.

Conversely, we have not seen the same sort of protests in Syria which is as autocratic as any Arab state.   The MB has a significant, if low profile, presence there as well.  But the Syrian regime fully supports the aims and methods of the MB, so any uprisings there, if my theory holds true, would be short-lived and anemic.

If the Brotherhood can seize power in any of these nations, the Long War is going to get very ugly, very quickly.


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