Archive for the 'Hezbollah' Category



Iran’s Asymmetric Warfare

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 4 months ago

Andrew Exum discusses how we and Hezbollah have more in common that one might think.  His entire commentary is interesting, but he summarizes with this.

In the end, Hezbollah finds itself in much the same position as the United States as it watches the clouds of war gather between Israel and Iran. Like the United States, it has reason to hope conflict can be averted. But like the United States, it is realistic about the likelihood that it will be drawn into a conflict once the first shots are fired.

To get the context for the statement above you must read his commentary.  Andrew does come down warning that Hezbollah would likely respond against Israel if war comes to Iran, but he also casts us in the same light as Hezbollah: poor, strange bedfellows – hoping against war, shaking our heads at the very idea, war weary, and being dragged kicking and screaming against our will into the larger conflict if it comes.

I don’t see Hezbollah as dependent on the electorate in Lebanon as does Andrew, nor do I see them as war-weary, hoping against hope that war doesn’t come.  They are part of Iran’s forward-deployed troops, present from the Middle East to South America.  As for Iran (and its forward deployed troops), it all comes down to whether one believes the things that the Mullahs say.

“We do not worship Iran.  We worship Allah.  For patriotism is another name for paganism.  I say let this land [Iran] burn.  I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world”

I believe that the Mullahs mean what they say.  We have discussed their behavior-controlling eschatology before.  But if Hezbollah is only one part of Iran’s forward deployed troops, there is another more secretive part.

Intelligence agencies are searching for members of a secret Iranian network of assassins under orders to attack Jewish, Israeli and Western targets in Turkey.

According to intelligence sources, the organisation behind the attack is known as Unit 400, a secret part of the al Quds Brigade, which falls under the direct command of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader.

“Unit 400 of the Qods Force has been developing in the last few months a standing operating procedure for carrying out an attack in Turkey against western targets as well as Israeli and Jewish. It is our firm assessment that these procedures are in a very advanced stage, and that the intention is to act on the plans very soon,” an intelligence source told Sky News.

There is also evidence that Unit 400 has been given instructions to carry out more frequent and more daring ‘terror’ attacks around the world as a demonstration of ‘Iran’s asymmetric power’ – in the face of the growing threat of Israeli or American air strikes on its alleged nuclear weapons programme, the sources said.

[ ... ]

“Unit 400 is a top-secret “special ops” unit within the elite overseas wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF). It plans and carries out terror attacks on external targets, and provides material support to foreign militia groups, at the direct behest of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This is in accordance with the regime’s core strategic considerations about how best to challenge perceived enemies in Israel and the west – through asymmetric warfare – and to cope with mounting international pressure over its nuclear programme,” a secret study by a foreign intelligence agency said.

Several international intelligence sources confirmed that Ali Khamenei controlled the Quds Force through his close ally Qassem Suleiman.

“He runs the whole thing – directly. [Mahmoud] Ahmedinajad [the Iranian president] makes all the noise and gets the attention but it’s the Supreme Leader who is in charge of what is going on especially when it comes to international operations,” said a senior intelligence official.

 Regular readers know all about General Suleimani.  I have recommended a targeted assassination of him, as well as covert and asymmetric warfare against Iran and fomenting an insurgency and regime change in order to avoid all out warfare.

It seems that the only one who takes our advice seriously is Iran.  They are masters of covert warfare, we … well, we are masters of vacilation and equivocation.  But remember what I said that I could pull off with 400 well-trained, motivated fighters.  Consider yourself warned, for it may soon be too late.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.

U.S. Foreign Policy and Syria: What is Best for the U.S.?

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 5 months ago

Syria today is a text book conundrum for the Left.

Obama and the Left have a strange habit of embracing authoritarian and dictatorial foreign leaders among whom Bashir Assad is only one of many: Hugo Chavez, Vladmir Putin, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Fidel Castro and Saudi King Abdullah.  When these authoritarians, however, let their security forces run amok and kill too many civilians with the gumption to call for individual liberty (too many for even the Left’s media to ignore), they tie themselves in knots trying to figure out a response.

So we have the recent publication by the left-leaning think tank, Center for New American Security (CNAS), Marc Lynch, “Pressure Not War: A Pragmatic and Prinipled Policy Towards Syria.”

Lynch’s paper is a classic example of the Left desperately seeking a rationale and a non-military approach to the recurrent problem of 21st Century dictators– terror-sponsoring ones at that– who must use increasingly bloody means to suppress the natural– dare we say God-given?– desire for freedom of common people.

Consider this summary of the problem presented by Lynch:

U.S. and other Western officials assert frequently that the collapse of the Asad regime is only a matter of time. Indeed, President Obama stated on February 6 that Asad’s fall “is not going to be a matter of if, it’s going to be a matter of when.”4 But Asad’s fall could take a long time. In the interim, many Syrians will die, and the conflict could evolve into an extended regional proxy war that victimizes the Syrian people.

A drawn out internal war could shatter the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Syria and reverberate across the region. Within Syria, a civil war could entrench sectarian identities, shatter communities and stoke a desire for revenge that makes reconciliation after Asad impossible. A civil war would also destabilize Syria’s neighbors, including Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, and the political instability and movement of people and arms could create new security risks for both Israel and Iran. It might also create opportunities for jihadist groups to establish a foothold in Syria, a danger that U.S. intelligence fears is already beginning to materialize. 5 If the peaceful Syrian uprising transforms into an insurgency backed and armed by outside powers against a ruthless but still viable regime, Syria could replicate Lebanon of the 1980s, on steroids.

Beyond these strategic concerns, there is a humanitarian imperative to help the Syrian people. The horrifying evidence of massacres and regime brutality make it difficult – and wrong – for the world to avert its gaze. Some critics accuse the United States of double standards and hypocrisy for focusing on Syria while turning a blind eye to abuses in Bahrain or defending Israel against international pressure, but these accusations ring hollow given irrefutable evidence of massive human rights violations and the use of deadly force against thousands of civilians. The United States has a real interest in preventing atrocities, especially since the outcome in Syria will inevitably either strengthen or badly injure the international concept of the Responsibility to Protect and other more limited efforts to establish regional and international norms against impunity for those who commit atrocities against civilians.6

[Emphasis added].

When I read this recitation of justifications for intervention, it is the case of the dog that did not bark.   Notice what is entirely missing from all of the reasons highlighted above for U.S. involvement in Syria  (Hint: it is the same element missing from the Obama Administration’s justification for intervening in Libya): a vital, U.S. national interest.

It is almost inconceivable to me that any analysis of a foreign intervention of any kind does not start and largely end with a careful consideration of vital U.S. interests at stake.   Lynch cannot even bother himself to mouth the words, “vital U.S. interest.”   Instead, Lynch writes that the United States merely “has a real interest in preventing atrocities…”   A “real” interest?  What does that even mean?  Is that in contrast with a “feigned” interest?  An “imagined” interest?  A “concocted” interest?

Furthermore, this “real interest” is supposedly strengthened because a failure to prevent atrocities would “badly injure the international concept of the Responsibility to Protect.”   What is this?   Lynch helpfully explains in a footnote  that:

The Responsibility to Protect is a relatively new international legal doctrine which gives the international community the obligation to act to prevent atrocities against civilians. Key documents explaining this doctrine are available at http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/index. php/about-rtop/core-rtop-documents

Whatever the good intentions or noble purposes of this doctrine may be, it is clear that creating an international “obligation to act to prevent atrocities against civilians” is the proverbial Pandora’s Box to any number of unintended consequences and unforeseen disasters.  It is one thing to oppose the wanton killing of civilians by, for example, the Iranian Regime, and consider whether and what action to take.   It is a far different and potentially ruinous thing to create an international obligation to act.   To throw out just one example: what would stop the ever-enlightened U.N. from determining that innocent civilians were being killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan (or Yemen, or Somalia, or Afghanistan) thus creating an international obligation to prevent such “atrocities” ?  Such “action” would not likely take military form (although who can foresee a future China or Russia emboldened by deteriorating U.S. military capabilities), but it very well might take the form of sanctions, trade embargoes, freezing of assets abroad, etc…

In essence, then, the Left cannot bring themselves to posit a vital U.S. interest in anything.   Syria is proof of that.   Lynch cites humanitarian concerns and “regional proxy wars” that boil down to more human suffering, but he never reaches the point of articulating why, precisely any of these events necessarily threaten or enhance vital U.S. interests.

My theory is that the Left cannot make the argument because, in the final analysis, they do not believe that there is any, such thing as a U.S. interest insofar as such a thing might conflict with or run counter to international interests.  This type of internationalista thinking is based almost exclusively on emotional appeals to humanitarian concerns and is highly selective.  Where was this urgent, moral imperative, for instance, when the democracy movement in Iran was being beaten, killed, tortured and raped on a massive scale in 2009 and 2010?  Assad and his father before him were torturing and killing civilians all along, but not only did the Left not call for intervention, Obama rewarded Assad with an ambassador and monikers such as “reformer.”

But U.S. interests can and very often do run counter to the interests of other nations and even international agendas.   Any analysis of Syria, then, must start with the U.S. interest in Syria and what is best for the United States of America, not Bashar Assad, not the holy grail of “regional stability” and not even the Syrian people no matter how innocent they may be.

Using Mr. Lynch’s own criteria for intervention, we get an entirely different view of Syria than the internationalista approach.

For instance, Lynch (and the internationalistas as a whole) never asks the question of whether U.S. interests are better served by the status quo ante bellum or in the current state of civil war.   In fact, Lynch assumes without question that Syrian civil war is not in the interests of the U.S. and is something that should and must be stopped.   Furthermore, Obama and his acolytes were more than happy to accommodate the Dictator Assad prior to the civil unrest in 2011.  For the Left, stability with a dictator who views the U.S. as an enemy and is allied with arch-enemy Iran is preferable to instability.

If , however, we examine the Syrian civil war purely from U.S. interests, the conclusion is surely that, despite the current, deplorable suffering of the Syrian people, the uprising by Syrian civilians, to the extent it is a genuine attempt at democratic reform, must be seen as an enormous opportunity to further vital U.S. interests in a critical area of the world for U.S. energy supplies and national security.

An Assad Regime that is battling for its life is no longer an effective state sponsor of terrorism and Iranian cat’s paw.  The fact that Iran and Russia are investing heavily in resources, rhetoric and military units is ample evidence of the value of Assad in power and the perceived loss should he be toppled.   Even assuming that the Regime is not toppled any time soon, anything that keeps the Regime preoccupied with internal strife and in a perpetual state of unrest is a great, immediate benefit to the U.S. and its allies in the region.   Though it sounds Machiavellian to say, in the case of Syria, civil war at the moment is a good thing for the U.S.

Unlike Lynch, our analysis does not stop with whether the civil war in Syria is beneficial to the U.S. or not.  Lynch assumes ipso facto that the civil war in Syria is a bad thing for the U.S. and, a fortiori, intervention by the U.S. must occur in some form.  In our analysis, however, we see that the civil war is actually beneficial for the U.S. (at least for now and in its present form).   The U.S. could well be justified in allowing the civil war to take its course and weaken the Syrian Regime as much as possible.   But a foreign policy based on U.S. interests asks the further questions:  would intervention in Syria further benefit the U.S. and, if so, what form might that intervention take?

U.S. foreign policy cannot be dictated by logarithms of civilian casualties.   Instead, the U.S. must enter into a complicated calculus of risks and benefits in seeking to topple Assad and the methods necessary and appropriate to the task.

On the benefits side of the equation, the outright removal of the Assad Regime, would strike an enormous blow to the chief enemies of the West in the Middle East: Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.  Syria is a kind of linchpin for all three of these Islamist terror groups and it is questionable whether Hezbollah and Hamas could obtain anything like the Syrian support from either Egypt or Turkey.   Beyond severely wounding these groups, the removal of Assad opens up at least the possibility of a resurrection of the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon which has been increasingly strangled by Syrian-sponsored Hezbollah.   Lebanon has great potential to be a second pro-Western bulwark alongside Israel, a huge, net gain for the U.S.   This seems to be the key to assessing Syria: what can the U.S. hope to gain?  What is the potential payoff?  If the game is not worth the prize, best not to play the game at all.

This marks a real difference between Syria and Libya.  Even in hindsight, it is difficult to envision much of a benefit to the U.S. from Qaddafi’s removal.  Qaddafi ceased to be a national security threat to the U.S. in 2004 when he willingly abandoned his WMD programs.   Qaddafi himself was more of a circus act, useful for entertainment at the U.N., but of no international consequence.  He was not even using Libyan oil production as a weapon.   So the removal of Qaddafi and his replacement by even a pro-Western government does not seem to yield much of any benefit to the U.S. in contrast to the central importance of Syria in the Iranian terror web.

On the risk side of the equation, people like Marc Lynch and the Left make much of the dangers of “civil war” in Syria if the U.S. were to support the armed opposition, the so-called Free Syrian Army.   While it is true enough that civil war is brutal for those going through it, we have already seen that, for U.S. national interests, even a civil war is better than having Assad free to do the bidding of Tehran and cultivate Hamas and Hezbollah.  In any event, Syria is already in a state of civil war with the population increasingly arming itself and attacking the Assad Regime.   As even Lynch points out, faced with a murderous regime, the civilian population is going to find a supplier of weapons somewhere and the potential for Militant Islamists (as well as Salafist Saudi Arabia) to provide the weaponry and reap the inevitable loyalty is a very real danger.

Another risk, a more substantial one in my view, surprisingly not cited by Lynch, is the potential for Militant Islamists to come to power, as seems to be happening in Egypt and Tunisia, a bitter fruit of the Arab Spring.  Might the U.S. be repeating the mistakes made in Egypt by backing armed opposition to Assad?

Can we guarantee who will wind up governing Syria once Assad is gone?  Of course not.  But from a strategic point of view, Assad is already, in many ways, the worst case scenario.  It is difficult to imagine an Al-Qaeda Syria, for instance.    That is not their style, for one, and would open them up to the kind of U.S. power that they studiously avoid at all costs by hiding within a State.  What about the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power (as they seem poised to do in Egypt) ?  This is a real concern, of course, but not one that should leave the U.S. in paralysis.

First, it is unlikely that Syrian can be controlled by the MB in anything like the way that the Assads have controlled Syria.  Without the complete, police-state control of the Assad Regime, the MB will not have anything like the free hand that Assad enjoyed to enforce Tehran’s will in the region.  While the MB may be popular to even a large segment of the population, they would be quite unpopular with other, large segments.   Even if we could imagine an Egypt-like, worst-case scenario in which the MB gains overwhelming control of an eventual Syrian government, that is merely a possible eventuality and by no means, at this point, grounds for doing nothing.  Such thinking is taking the counsel of our fears (something at which the Obama Administration excels it seems).  If anything, the prospect of a MB government in Syria should be positive grounds to do something now, while we still can, to prevent it.

Having wrestled with the benefits and risks, it would seem that there is a clear balance in favor of intervening in some fashion.  But how?

Marc Lynch spends the better part of his paper advocating a diplomatic approach.  Granted, he wants a “forceful diplomacy”, more energetic and better coordinated, but, in the end, it is diplomacy.   Worse, it is diplomacy that has no chance of succeeding.  It is perfectly clear that the Assad Regime (and its backers in Tehran and Moscow) are not going to let go of power without a long, bloody fight.  No amount of sanctions or international condemnations are going to do anything to dislodge Assad from power for the simple reason that his backers will do what it takes to evade, veto, defeat and otherwise de-fang anything that the international community can wield diplomatically.   This is the point that the Left and the internationalistas cannot bring themselves to admit: for many problems in this fallen world, there is no peaceful solution no matter how sincere or well-intentioned the advocates may be.

Lynch does consider various military options being proposed: a no-fly zone; limited air strikes (a la Libya); civilian safe havens protected by some kind of military force; armed observers, and; arming the opposition.   He dismisses each one in turn but, again, for reasons that are steeped in humanitarian concern rather than blunt, U.S. interests.

So what form of action might U.S. intervention take, one that is founded acutely upon U.S. interests?

There is no, one right answer but an incremental approach that starts with providing at least covert, military assistance to some, select opposition fighters promises the best chance for advancing U.S. interests in Syria.

What does Lynch say, specifically, about arming the Syrian opposition?

Providing arms to the FSA might hasten Asad’s fall, but at the cost of a far bloodier conflict, greater divisions among the opposition groups and a more difficult transition if Asad falls from power. First, the regime would respond by quickly escalating its attacks, and would likely discard whatever restraint it has thus far shown in order to avoid outside intervention. It is unlikely that arms will give rebels enough power to defeat the regime on the battlefield and overthrow it, given the immense imbalance in favor of regime forces. It would also be very difficult to stop Russia, Iran or others from supplying fresh arms and aid to Asad once the opposition’s backers are openly doing so. Providing arms to a relatively weak opposition will not necessarily close the military gap – it might simply lead to a bloodier conflict.

Second, this option would likely further divide the different opposition groups, rather than encouraging their cooperation. The Syrian opposition remains fragmented, disorganized and highly localized. The FSA remains something of a fiction, a convenient mailbox for a diverse, unorganized collection of local fighting groups. Those groups have been trying to coordinate more effectively, but remain deeply divided.15 However, providing weapons is not a politically neutral act. Those with greater access to the networks that distribute Western guns and equipment will grow stronger, politically as well as militarily. The arming of the Sons of Iraq in 2006, for instance, dramatically shifted the political power of competing Sunni tribes and families in unexpected ways, and the effects continue to unfold today. Better armed fighters will rise in political power, while groups that advocate nonviolence or advance political strategies will be marginalized.

Third, arming the opposition also would radically reduce the prospects for a “soft landing” if and when Asad falls. It could further frighten Syrians who – fearing large scale sectarian violence – continue to support the regime, and make them less likely to switch sides. Arming the weaker side in a civil war is a recipe for protracted, violent conflict, and it would be foolish to assume that an insurgency once launched can be easily controlled.16 If Asad does fall from power, the armed opposition groups are unlikely to demobilize or disarm quickly. Instead, these armed groups would operate in a political and security vacuum amid accumulated fears and rage, with every possibility of reprisal killings and clashing militias.

However, if arming the opposition fails to solve the crisis relatively quickly, which is likely, there will inevitably be calls to conduct the airstrikes discussed above. In other words, what appears to be an alternative to military intervention is actually more likely to be a step towards military intervention. Arming the opposition is therefore a misguided, risky and potentially disastrous option. That said, arms are likely to flood the country if the civil war continues, regardless of U.S. preferences. That flow of arms into Syria will increasingly work at cross-purposes with diplomatic and political efforts to find a managed transition that avoids the worst outcomes.

None of Lynch’s arguments are persuasive.   Some, in fact, point towards arming the opposition.  Lynch’s three main arguments consist of reducing bloodshed, preventing the rise of factions (particularly ethnic/sectarian factions) among the opposition, and preserving the possibility for a smooth, post-Assad transition of power.

As to bloodshed, the blood is flowing quite freely right now and, tragically, it is all on the side of innocent civilians.  To argue that arming the opposition will only result in greater bloodshed may be strictly true, but amounts to the comforting notion that the opposition can bleed to death slowly rather than quickly.  If this rationale prevailed, French support for the American Revolution was wrong as well.  Lynch resorts to the ridiculous notion that no amount of arms can overcome the military advantage enjoyed by Assad’s forces.  Tell that to the mujaheddin who drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan in the 1980′s (or, for that matter, the Taliban who seem to be driving the U.S. out of Afghanistan with primitive explosives and small arms).   Equally absurd is his notion that Iran and Russia will supply even more weapons to Assad if the opposition starts receiving weapons.  A civil war is never about who is supplied with more weaponry but, rather, who will crack first.  As long as Assad’s thugs can shoot civilians with relative impunity, they will never desert him.   Once helicopters are being shot down, tanks are being destroyed and columns are being effectively ambushed, the regime’s soldiers will quickly re-think their loyalties.   Some already have.

As to the second argument that arming the opposition will lead to factions and potential sectarian warfare, Lynch again departs from an analysis of what is best for the United States.  In fact, he makes an extremely effective argument in favor of arming the opposition when he writes, “providing weapons is not a politically neutral act. Those with greater access to the networks that distribute Western guns and equipment will grow stronger, politically as well as militarily. The arming of the Sons of Iraq in 2006, for instance, dramatically shifted the political power of competing Sunni tribes and families in unexpected ways, and the effects continue to unfold today. Better armed fighters will rise in political power, while groups that advocate nonviolence or advance political strategies will be marginalized.”

Exactly.  This is precisely what the U.S. should be counting upon when it decides which opposition militias it decides to support with weapons, training and intelligence.  Lynch and others assume that arming the opposition somehow requires a weapons free-for-all or that the U.S. is completely incapable of figuring out which groups to support and which to work against.  The U.S. should seek to pick winners in the Syrian conflict.   The U.S. should always seek to support those who favor a pro-Western policy (or, at the very least, a policy that is counter to Militant Islamists).   If that means arming the Kurds against the salafist Sunnis, then so be it.   The U.S. policy in arming the opposition must ensure that all militias recognize that those who side with the U.S. or against the Islamists are going to be the best armed, best trained and best resourced fighters, period.   The U.S. can never lose sight of its ultimate objective which is not the toppling of Assad per se but the disabling and destruction of the Iranian/Islamist threat.  If that means a prolonged civil war in Syria, so long as Syria is neutralized in the war with Militant Islam, vital U.S. interests are served.  Lynch’s reference to the Sons of Iraq in 2006 is perhaps the best example in favor of arming the Syrian opposition as it forced the Sunni tribes to decide whether they would continue to support Al Qaeda or support the U.S.   The result was an overwhelming success for the U.S. in eliminating Al Qaeda, particularly in Anbar Province.

Lynch’s third argument about a “soft landing” after the fall of Assad has been addressed above.  In short, for U.S. interests, we do not want any “soft landing” if that involves giving any power to salafists or the Muslim Brotherhood.   The notion that a unity government that is heavily influenced by or under the control of the MB is a good thing must be denounced.  Far better to see Syria split up into ethnic or sectarian regions than to see a MB government in power.

In summary, when an influential think tank like CNAS produces a paper that is almost wholly inimical to U.S. interests, it is time to look at the leadership in our country and demand that they (Democrat or Republican) reaffirm the primacy of U.S. interests in the making of foreign policy.   What is best for our country should always be the first and foremost consideration.  No other nation on earth plays by any, other rules.

Hell To Pay: Hezbollah On The Mexican Border

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 6 months ago

We have known for some time about the fact that Hezbollah has networks in Central and South America, and that they are present in more than 40 countries.  Now, Michael Braun, former chief of operations at the drug enforcement agency, weighs in concerning the emerging threat on the Southern border.

The Iranian-supported Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah has spread its influence all the way to the U.S. border with Mexico, a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere heard on Thursday.

Michael Braun, a former chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Agency, said Hezbollah had developed relationships with the powerful Mexican drug cartels to “move their agenda forward.” He cited a plot, recently uncovered by the DEA, involving an Iranian operative in Mexico allegedly planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C.

“Hezbollah are absolute masters at forming close relationships with existing organized crime groups around the world that helps them facilitate what they need to do to move their agendas forward,” Braun told CNSNews.com following the hearing. “And if anyone thinks for a moment that they don’t have their eye on the southwest border and all of our country, then they couldn’t be more wrong.”

In his prepared remarks Braun, who also served as interim director of the Department of Justice’s Drug Intelligence Fusion Center, said Hezbollah and other terrorist groups understand that the Mexican cartels are already operating successfully inside the United States.

“If anyone thinks for one moment that these terrorist organizations do not understand that the Mexican drug trafficking cartels now dominate drug trafficking in our country – reportedly in more than 250 cities – than they are very stupid or very naive,” he said.

“And these groups most assuredly recognize the strategic value of exploiting that activity, and all that has been built to support it, for moving their vision forward in this part of the world.”

[ ... ]

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), committee member and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee of oversight and investigations, asked about Hezbollah’s relationship to criminal organizations in the Western Hemisphere and what it means for U.S. security.

Braun warned that those relationships allow “these groups to operate freely in our neighborhood” and said the U.S. would regret it if the threats were not taken seriously.

“I don’t want to sound too crude, but I think there’s going to be hell to pay in the not too distant future,” he said.

Braun discussed the Quds forces, which is controlled  by Iranian general Suleimani.  Recall that I have called for reversing executive order 12333 and assassinating general Suleimani.  Concerning what he thinks about his scope and power of influence, listen carefully to his recent words.

An Iranian general said Iraq and Hezbollah-dominated South Lebanon “submit” to Tehran’s wishes.

“Those two countries, in a way or another, submit to the will and the wishes of Tehran,” head of Iran’s elite al-Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, was quoted as saying by Iran’s ISNA student news agency and later relayed by Al-Arabiya television.

He added that his country “can organize any movement that leads to the formation of Islamic governments [in Iraq and Lebanon] in order to fight imperialism.”

According to ISNA, Suleimani’s remarks came during a seminar entitled “Youth and Islamic Awareness”, which was held in Tehran on Thursday.

Commenting on the Syrian crisis, the general said that “the Syrian people support the government [of President Bashar al-Assad] completely.”

Assad’s troops have cracked down on protests against almost five decades of Baath rule which broke out mid-March, killing over 5,400 people and triggering a torrent of international condemnation.

He has killed American servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He has pressed the ambitions of the radical Mullahs at every chance, and it’s time for him to go.  We need a strategic assassination.

As for the Southern border, we are losing that battle, and it doesn’t bode well that we haven’t taken the fight seriously and yet allow a new gangster – General Suleimani – into the neighborhood.

A Terrorist Attack That America Cannot Absorb

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 10 months ago

According to Bob Woodward who has recently completed his book entitled Obama’s Wars, an interesting view of terrorist attacks has emerged from the White House.

Woodward’s book portrays Obama and the White House as barraged by warnings about the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and confronted with the difficulty in preventing them. During an interview with Woodward in July, the president said, “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger.”

I’m not particularly fond of Woodward’s use of anonymous sources, but let’s assume for the moment the complete accuracy of this position.  At a minimum, it hasn’t been denied by the White House.  It’s difficult to imagine a more important opinion on the future of terrorist attacks on the homeland than that of the President.  It’s also impossible to underestimate the horrible confusion, naivety and childlike grasp of homeland security that this opinion betrays.

I had originally passed over this quote as something that would quietly die, that didn’t really represent the thinking of the Department of Homeland Security, and that wouldn’t prevent the administration from doing what was necessary to prevent attacks on the homeland to the degree possible.  But Bob Woodward was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly tonight, and neither of them actually had a problem with the quote other than simply that the President of the U.S. shouldn’t say such things in public.

In a brief attempt to address this mistaken notion of the inherent capability to absorb any attack, I will pose one that we simply cannot absorb.  The scenario I am about to describe can be accomplished by simple, direct attacks and without reference to more complicated organizational skills except for weapons, dedicated fighters and effective timing.  The scenario I am about to describe would quite literally destroy the economy of the nation for a long time.  I am hesitant to describe it in detail; when I do this sort of thing I usually get charged with giving the terrorists ideas.

But the fact of the matter is that the terrorists already know these things, and it is important to educate the American people to the dangers right outside the gate.  It’s also important to reflect on what it means to kill terrorists on foreign soil and destroy their sanctuaries rather than allow them to perpetrate attacks with which we cannot cope.  That said, it’s time to describe the attack.

I don’t want to divulge too much detail concerning what could be regarded as nuclear safeguards information.  But the reader will have to trust me when I say that commercial nuclear power plants are hardened.  They were so prior to 9/11, but they are even more so now.  They are not fertile ground for terrorist attacks, even for the most well trained, well armed and educated group of fighters.  I cannot go any further in discussing the details of nuclear security, but the terrorists also know that nuclear reactors are not fertile fighting ground.  Forget about them.

Not so for commercial fossil facilities.  They are not hardened and not well guarded.  The most vulnerable structure, system or component for large scale coal plants is the main step up transformer – that component that handles electricity at 230 or 500 kV.  They are one of a kind components, and no two are exactly alike.  They are so huge and so heavy that they must be transported to the site via special designed rail cars intended only for them, and only about three of these exist in the U.S.

They are no longer fabricated in the U.S., much the same as other large scale steel fabrication.  It’s manufacture has primarily gone overseas.  These step up transformers must be ordered years in advance of their installation.  Some utilities are part of a consortium to keep one of these transformers available for multiple coal units, hoping that more will not be needed at any one time.  In industrial engineering terms, the warehouse min-max for these components is a fine line.

On any given day with the right timing, several well trained, dedicated, well armed fighters would be able to force their way on to utility property, fire missiles or lay explosives at the transformer, destroy it, and perhaps even go to the next given the security for coal plants.  Next in line along the transmission system are other important transformers, not as important as the main step up transformers, but still important, that would also be vulnerable to attack.  With the transmission system in chaos and completely isolated due to protective relaying, and with the coal units that supply the majority of the electricity to the nation incapable of providing that power for years due to the wait for step up transformers, whole cites, heavy industry, and homes and businesses would be left in the dark for a protracted period of time, all over the nation.

The economy would collapse, regardless of how much good will and positive hope there was among the ruling elite.  The hard facts of life – America in the dark – would soon become apparent to everyone, and the economy wouldn’t be able to absorb it.

That’s only one of the many possibilities, and in order to avoid the charge of divulging too much detail to terrorists, I will stop here.  But suffice it to say that if you give me weapons, ordnance, time and 300 or 400 dedicated fighters with a calendar and a watch, I could collapse the economy of America.

Where would these fighters come from?  Recall that we have previously discussed two very good papers on Hezbollah and their activities in the Americas.  They’re around, lying in wait for orders, and it’s best not to have them on our soil.  It’s best to confront them away from the infrastructure that is proving itself to be so vulnerable to their malicious aims.

Weekend Reading #4

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 11 months ago

First up, regular comment contributor to The Captain’s Journal Roy Keyes gives us:

Hezbollah: The Party of God

Viewed as both hero and villain, Hezbollah is possibly the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world today. Hezbollah’s worldview is fueled by the perception that the Muslim world is experiencing a period of deep crisis and as a result, members of the organization are encouraged to strike at the forces of evil in the world in order to accelerate the final battle between Muslims and the West (Hezbollah Dossier, 2009).

This is a good one and is well worth some time today or this weekend.

Second, another paper on Hezbollah:

Hezbollah in South America

Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Iran-sponsored Shi’i Muslim terrorist organization, has established global networks in at least 40 countries. Its growing presence in South America is increasingly troublesome to U.S. policymakers, yet there are few experts on Hezbollah and fewer still on Hezbollah Latino America. Hezbollah’s operatives have infiltrated the Western Hemisphere from Canada to Argentina, and its activity is increasing, particularly in the lawless Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. This research was conducted to expose the actions and objectives of Hezbollah in the TBA. The majority of US officials and operators believe that Hezbollah’s terrorist wing is separate from its political wing, but these are misconceptions from people who “mirror-image” the American experience when assessing Hezbollah. Unfamiliarity with the organization makes these assessors vulnerable to its propaganda, which is a severe problem that permeates the US government and its operatives. People who think Hezbollah is or could be compartmentalized or disunited are not familiar with the organization and perceive Hezbollah through the lens of the organization’s extensive propaganda effort. Hezbollah has a large operational network in the TBA, which generates funds for the party, but its primary mission is to plan attacks and lie dormant, awaiting instructions to execute operations against Western targets.

And one more must read from the Center for Security Policy:

Sharia: The Threat to America

Team B II believes that the role played in this regard by shariah’s most sophisticated jihadists, the Muslim Brotherhood, is of particular concern.  Steeped in Islamic doctrine, and already embedded deep inside both the United States and our allies, the Brotherhood has become highly skilled in exploiting the civil liberties and multicultural proclivities of Western societies for the purpose of destroying the latter from within. As America’s top national security leadership continues to be guided by its post-modernist, scientific, and high-tech world-view, it neglects the reality that 7th Century impulses, enshrined in shariah, have reemerged as the most critical existential threat to constitutional governance and the freedom-loving, reason-driven principles that undergird Western civilization.

I found especially pleasing that the authors were scholarly in their approach.  They traced the contemporary jihadist movement not only back to its original theological roots, but also back to its temporal and contemporary roots in Sayyid Qutb, whom I have know about a long time.  Interestingly, he inveighed:

“`The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity,` he wrote. `She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs and she shows all this and does not hide it.` These curvy jezebels pursued boys with `wide, strapping chest[s]` and `ox muscles,` Qutb added with disgust.”

Seems that Qutb is giving us a little more information than we need if he actually believes that all of this is true, no?  Is he enjoying this discussion a little too much?

CNN Editor Sad Over Death of Hezbollah Spiritual Leader

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 1 month ago

Via Weekly Standard, CNN Editor Octavia Nasr posts on Twitter:

Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot..

Fadlallah was the spiritual leader of Hezbollah and is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 241 Marines and Navy Corpsmen in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.  Not coincidentally, the leader of Hezbollah, Nassan Nasrallah, also states his approval for the cleric’s vision and promise to carry on.

“We promise his soul that we will remain faithful to his sacred goals for which he lived, worked and sacrificed day and night, as we will sacrifice everything to defend them,” Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said.

So CNN is squared up shoulder to shoulder with Hezbollah.  The real question is this: is anyone really surprised?

Restoring the Balance

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 8 months ago

We are told that “experts” have now warned President-elect Barack Obama of a nuclear Iran.

Iran poses the greatest foreign policy challenge to Barack Obama, the President-elect, with Tehran on course to produce a nuclear bomb in the first year of an Obama administration, a coalition of top think-tanks gave warning yesterday.

Mr Obama must keep his promises of direct talks with Tehran and engage the Middle East region as a whole if he is to halt a looming crisis that could be revisited on the US, the experts said.

“Diplomacy is not guaranteed to work,” Richard Haass, one of the authors said. “But the other options – military action or living with an Iranian weapon are sufficiently unattractive for it to warrant serious commitment.”

The warnings came in a report entitled Restoring the Balance. The Middle East strategy for the President-elect was drafted by the Council for Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution.

Gary Samore, one of the authors, said that the level of alarm over the “hornet’s nest” facing the President-elect in the Middle East, and the need for the swift adoption of previously untested approach, had inspired the decision to write policy for him. “New administrations can choose new policies but they can’t choose next contexts,” Mr Samore said.

The report paints a grim picture of the problems in the region but asserts that Mr Obama is still in a strong position. For the first time since the Iranian revolution the leadership in Tehran has endorsed the idea of talking directly with Washington, as Mr Obama has suggested. Falling oil prices also provide an opportunity, restricting Iran’s means to sponsor terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah that act as its proxy in the region.

The new administration, however, must not fall into the trap of treating Iran in isolation to the rest of the Middle East, as the previous administration did.

Syria, which has shown tentative signs of a desire for better relations with the West and has held negotiations with Israel, could be the ideal test case for a new diplomatic approach.

The full report, Restoring the Balance, is a product of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution. The Captain’s Journal is actually a bit surprised to see Michael O’Hanlon associated with the report – he seems a bit too smart to have endorsed it. But it is also worth pointing out that our record of forecasts is thus far impeccable. Three important examples evince the point. First, when Army intelligence forecast that there wouldn’t be a Taliban spring offensive in 2008 because of the alleged split between Baitullah Mehsud and Mullah Omar, we predicted that there would in fact be a two-front offensive, one in Pakistan by the Tehrik-i-Taliban and the other in Afghanistan. Second, we accurately predicted the Taliban strategy of interdiction of NATO supplies in Pakistan in March of 2008. Third, we predicted that Joseph Lieberman would be victorious in the Connecticut Senate Race. We seldom make forecasts, but when we do, we’re usually right.

There were no instances of refusal to guarantee our forecasts when we went on record. The Captain’s Journal – although it is tempting to wait until the new year to weigh in on these important issues – will weigh in concerning some of the recommendations of the subject report, and make some forecasts of our own.

First, Richard Haass doesn’t guarantee that diplomacy will work with Iran. Without equivocation or qualification, we guarantee that diplomacy will not work to dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran might make a show of allowing IAEA inspectors into certain parts of their facilities, or responding to IAEA inquiries as to the status of special nuclear material (” … this is not the same highly enriched Uranium we tested on such-and-such date, so where did it come from”), or employ any number of other decoys as a subterfuge. But in a truly verifiable and serious way, Iran will not cease and desist the pursuit of weapons grade nuclear material no matter the size of the army of negotiators or lawyers the U.S. deploys or the number of IAEA inquiries with which Iran gets pelted. Again, this is an absolute guarantee, something that The Council on Foreign Relations couldn’t provide.

Second, the desire to “spin off” Syria from Iran into an ally or even partial or halting ally in Middle East stability is a day dream. Syria is an apparatchik of Iran, and Damascus gets its orders directly from Tehran. Syria will court such negotiations and talks as long as it convinces the battalion of U.S. diplomats that there is something to be gained from it. When it is no longer prudent and efficacious to perform the show, Syria will drop the pretense. The battalion of U.S. diplomats will look like stooges on the world stage.

Third – concerning the recommendation in Chapter 5 of the report that the U.S. encourage Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab actors to pressure Hamas to police the cease-fire agreement with Israel and to convince the Hamas leadership to accept the April 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative – this avenue will fail because Hamas will cease to exist as an effective and viable organization unless it acquiesces to pressure from the surging Salafist movement inside Palestine itself (with religious schools numbering as many as 50,000). Palestine will become more radical, not less. A corollary forecast is that holding Israel to its commitment to freeze settlement and construction in Jerusalem (Chapter 5) will be meaningless to the Palestinian cause. When Hamas refers to the “occupation,” they don’t mean occupation of Gaza or Palestine proper. They mean that they consider the existence of the Jews at all to be an occupation of their land. In other words, Palestine will continue to reject the two-state solution, and no army of negotiators will change that.

Finally, as to some particulars:

  1. Hamas will begin launching rockets at Israel again from Gaza during the upcoming administration.
  2. Hezbollah will attack Israel again during the upcoming administration. The orders will come directly from Tehrah to Damascus and then be relayed to Hasan Nasrallah.
  3. Russia will continue the pressure on the Georgian administration and expand its military presence inside the borders of Georgia.
  4. Russia will (covertly) support the installation of a pro-Russian administration in the Ukraine (which is not the same as forecasting that a pro-Russian administration will actually end up being installed).
  5. Russia will assist Iran in its desire to achieve weapons grade nuclear material.
  6. Without direct action to undermine the Iranian regime (such as democracy programs or even the fomenting of an insurgency to topple the regime), Iranian elements (Quds, IRG) will expand the scope of their operations inside Iraq and Afghanistan and even support Hezbollah as it battles Israel. No amount of diplomacy will change this.
  7. Finally, the State Department will begin the administration will high hopes, excitement and grand ambitions for the role of diplomacy, negotiations and multi-lateral talks. By the end of the administration, a general malaise and confusion will have descended upon the entire State Department, and yet there will still be sparse and shallow understanding of why negotiations have so miserably failed to prevent or ameliorate the various calamities for which they were targeted.

Planning for these exigencies should “restore the balance.” The Captain’s Journal will send a bill to the incoming administration for our consultative services. They will prove to be better than those of the Council on Foreign Relations and well worth the cost.

Iranian-Sponsored Fighters Arrested in Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 2 months ago

It has been two productive days for the the U.S. in Iraq.  On Thursday, June 5, the U.S. apprehended a high level financier and smuggler of Iranian weapons.

Coalition forces in Iraq captured an alleged leader and a suspected primary weapons smuggler and financier for Iranian-backed enemy fighters June 5.

Acting on intelligence information, coalition forces conducted a raid on the home of the suspected “special groups” leader in Mahawil, south of Baghdad. He surrendered without incident.

In a separate operation east of Kut, intelligence tips helped coalition forces track down the hideout of a suspected special groups member who sources allege is the primary weapons smuggler and financier for Iranian-backed enemy elements in that area. The suspect and an associate surrendered when coalition forces stormed their location.

In even bigger news today, is has now been learned that the individual arrested is the number 2 figure in Hezbollah’s military wing (the deputy military chief).  “The arrest is a major achievement and could provide an intelligence bonanza,” an Iraqi source said.

The continual drumbeat isn’t that the U.S. is going to go to war with Iran.  Rather, it is that Iran is at war with the U.S. and has been for more than twenty years.  The deployment of such a high level Hezbollah leader is more evidence of the Iranian commitment to destabilization of Iraq.

Hezbollah as Iranian Occupier

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 3 months ago

Iranian flag displayed on equipment used to build a new road through southern Lebanon mountains with money from Iran.

Abu Muqawama had a post a few days ago entitled the resistance as oppressor, saying in part:

In the eyes of many Lebanese, the resistance is now an occupying power. How will Hizbollah — which has in the past divided the world into the oppressors and the oppressed — adjust to the ugly new reality where they are seen as the former?

To which The Captain’s Journal responded (in the comments) that Hezbollah has always been an occupying force.  But let’s back up a bit.

As the reader knows by now, Hezbollah flexed their muscle in Lebanon a few days back with the Lebanese Army basically watching events without responding.  Walid Phares argues (persuasively) that the mini-war was fought over a closed circuit telecommunications system and whether they would be allowed to have such a thing (since it violates the law).  Well, not only can they have it, but now they have been given essential veto power over all government decisions.

Abu Muqawama referred to Hezbollah as at one time a “resistance” force, wondering how they would transition to a new role.  John Robb – who is also smart and always an interesting read – does essentially the same thing.

May’s dispute between the Lebanese government and Hezbollah is an interesting example of the contest between hollow states and virtual states over legitimacy and sovereignty. As in most conflicts between gutted nation-states and aggressive virtual states, Hezbollah’s organic legitimacy trumped the state’s in the contest (an interesting contrast between voluntary affiliation and default affiliation by geography). The fighting was over in six hours.

Catch that?  “Organic legitimacy.”  Nice phrase, and it sounds erudite to boot.  The only problem is that this is as wrongheaded as it can possibly be.  W. Thomas Smith gives us another view of things in his most recent article at Human Events, entitled Lights Out Temporarily in Lebanon.

The proverbial lights have gone out in Lebanon: But for those of us having faith in that country’s swelling pro-democracy majority, the lights will only be out temporarily.

For now, however, it’s dark: In the wake of last week’s shameful concessions to the terrorist group, Hizballah, on the part of the Lebanese government and the legitimate army — which barely fired a shot in defense of the Lebanese people — Hizballah has achieved a never-before-realized strengthening of its position in that country.

This upper hand was achieved by force and against the will of most of the Lebanese people: Christians, Druze, and yes, Muslims, both Sunni and many Shiia. What makes it worse is that the international community — which has been warned time-and-again, heard appeals for assistance from various pro-democracy groups, and vowed to support the government, the army, and the will of the majority – did nothing to prevent Hizballah’s thugs from attacking the state and winning.

Let’s boil it down: Hizballah — trained and financed by Iran and operationally supported by Syria — contends it is a legitimate “resistance” against foreign aggression. The group also considers itself to be a fair and viable Shiia political party (it does indeed hold seats in the parliament), and a social movement providing services to Lebanon’s Shiia population (but no one receives social services without pledges of allegiance and promises of service to Hizballah.). In reality, Hizballah is a heavily weaponized, Talibanesque army of terrorists with tremendous global reach and existing as a sub-kingdom within the sovereign state of Lebanon.

Hizballah was ordered into action nearly two weeks ago after the state dismissed the security chief of Beirut International Airport (after discovering he was Hizballah), and attempted to shut down Hizballah’s extensive telecommunications system.

Refusing to accept the government’s decisions, Hizballah launched a series of attacks, May 7, from its stronghold in Beirut’s Dahiyeh, as well as from other so-called “security squares” across the country which the legitimate army and police had previously deemed off-limits to national policing.

Deploying from Dahiyeh, Hizballah fighters retrieved pre-staged weapons and quickly seized most of largely Sunni west Beirut (The group wisely avoided the Christian areas of east Beirut.). Fighting also broke out in the Chouf mountain region — where in several clashes, Hizballah’s forces were mauled by pro-government civilian fighters — the Bekaa Valley, and in-and-near the northern city of Tripoli.

Several of my sources have since independently confirmed that many captured and killed soldiers operating with Hizballah were indeed Syrian and Iranian: One source confirmed many of the captured soldiers “spoke Farsi and were unable to speak Arabic.” Another said Hizballah fighters operating in Beirut were “specifically ordered” not to communicate in the presence of Lebanese civilians because it would be discovered they were foreign (Iranian) soldiers.

“Syrian intelligence officers never quit Lebanon [after Syrian troops were officially kicked out in 2005],” Sami Nader, a political science professor at St. Joseph University in Beirut, tells HUMAN EVENTS. “And all the security and military apparatus put in place is an integrated system equipped and managed by the Iranians.”

Farsi.  The Persian language.  Hezbollah was never a resistance movement.  To be sure, they funded medical care and other necessities, but only for a price.  Their price was absolute loyalty.  Hezbollah is nothing more than troops of Iranian occupation.  They always have been foreign occupiers, and as long as they exist, they always will be.  They have no organic legitimacy, no matter how sophisticated it sounds to say so.

The Tangled Web of Allegiances

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 3 months ago

The Captain stumbled across an analysis today that precisely mirrors his own concern, entitled US/Iraq: Tangled Web of Allegiances Leads Back to Tehran.

If politics makes strange bedfellows, then the relationship between Iran, the United States and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq is the strangest ménage à trois in international relations today.

Violent Shia-on-Shia hostilities officially came to an end this week when a formal ceasefire was declared between government forces of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, but sporadic fighting still continues. And questions remain about the role that the U.S. is playing.

In testimony before Congress a month ago, Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, and the U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker characterised the conflict in Iraq as a “proxy war” to stem Iranian influence.

Declarations by both the U.S. and al-Maliki’s government about Iranian sponsorship of Sadrist activities are often used to paint Iran as a destabilising force in Iraq — the meddling neighbour encouraging unrest to boost its own influence. U.S.-backed Iraqi government excursions against Sadr are defended by citing unsubstantiated evidence of Iranian agents’ influence.

But this perspective has yet to be explained in terms of one of Iran’s closest allies in Iraq, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), who, as part of al-Maliki’s ruling coalition, also happen to be one of the U.S.’s closest partners.

The U.S. military says that it killed three militants in Baghdad’s Shia Sadr City slum on Sunday, alleging that the targets were splinter groups of the Mahdi Army who had spun out of Sadr’s control and were receiving training and weapons from Iran.

Last week, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said it was clear that Tehran was supporting “militias that are operating outside the rule of law in Iraq”. Many fear that the rhetoric is part of an effort to ratchet up tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

But the constant barrage of criticism lobbed at Iran and the so-called “special groups” of Sadrists still fighting against the government and U.S. forces tends to overlook the fact that the coalition of parties ruling Iraq are largely indebted to Iran for their very existence and continue to be closely connected with the Islamic Republic.

There seems to be no solid explanation about the double standard of U.S. denunciation of Iranian influence and U.S. support and aid to one of the strongest benefactors and allies of that influence — the government coalition of al-Maliki.

“I’m not confident we know what the hell we’re doing when we’re making these actions,” Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress, a Washington think tank, told IPS.

The two strongest parties in al-Maliki’s coalition, his own Dawa Party and ISCI, have both been based out of Iran and are both Shia religious parties …

ISCI and Iran, for example, support a Shia super-region in the south as part of a loosely federated Iraqi state. The homogenous super-region would likely facilitate Iranian influence. Both Sadr and the U.S. oppose the idea in favour of a strong central government.

The Captain says that the folks with the Multinational Force are far too smart not to have figured this out by now.  It all comes down to a lack of political will.  While spot on concerning the other allegiances (with Dawa and ISCI), the analysis above is far too complimentary of Sadr and his militia, and his criminal elements must be taken down.  Ralph Peters agrees (or more correctly, the Captain agrees with Ralph Peters), in his commentary on Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, our mortal enemy, must be destroyed. But we – Israel, the United States, Europe – lack the will. And will is one thing Hezbollah and its backers in Iran and Syria don’t lack: They’ll kill anyone and destroy anything to win.

We won’t. We still think we can talk our way out of a hit job. Not only are we reluctant to kill those bent on killing us – we don’t even want to offend them.

Hezbollah’s shocking defeat of Israel in 2006 (when will Western leaders learn that you can’t measure out war in teaspoons?) highlighted the key military question of our time: How can humane, law-abiding states defeat merciless postnational organizations that obey only the “laws” of bloodthirsty gods?

The answer, as Iraq and Afghanistan should have taught us, is that you have to gut the organization and kill the hardcore cadres. (Exactly how many al Qaeda members have we converted to secular humanism?).

Entranced by the military vogue of the season, we don’t even get our terminology right. Defeating Hezbollah has nothing to do with counterinsurgency warfare – the situation’s gone far beyond that. We’re facing a new form of “non-state state” built around a fanatical killing machine that rejects all of our constraints.

No one is going to win Hezbollah’s hearts and minds. Its fighters and their families have already shifted into full-speed fanaticism, and there’s no reverse gear. Hezbollah has to be destroyed.

As the more timid among us gasp for air and cry out “get thee to thy fainting couch!” the contrast between the Anbar campaign – about which the Captain should know just a little – and the balance of Operation Iraqi Freedom comes fully into the light once again.  No quarter was given to recalcitrant fighters by the U.S. Marines, whether al Qaeda, Ansar al Sunna, or indigenous Sunnis.  Al Qaeda was killed or captured, and the indigenous Sunnis were killed or battered to the point of exhaustion and surrender.  Not coincidentally, they (they Sunnis who live in Anbar) are now our friends.  This is the way it works.

Badr was co-opted into the ISF without so much as evidence that their loyalties lied with Iraq (and while they still received pension paychecks from Iran), and the Multinational Force has played patty cake with the Sadrists since 2003.  Whether Hezbollah in Lebanon or ISCI or JAM in Iraq, they are all manifestations of the long arm of the Iranian regime.  Ralph’s declarations that Hezbollah must be destroyed – and the Captain’s declarations that Iranian influence must be rooted out of Iraq – will probably go unheeded.  It all comes down to a lack of political will.  And upon this, in our estimation, rests the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


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