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March, 2011:

Is Iran Fomenting the Perfect Takeover of the Middle East?

For several months, the world’s media and political organizations have been concentrating on the unrest in the Middle East. But, in view of all that is happening, one has to ask why is it happening, how is it happening, and who is behind it? Of course, the quick answer to these questions, and the one put forward by the world’s mainstream media, led by Al Jazeera, but with CNN and others dutifully following the party line, is that this is a revolution for democracy! The oppressed people in the the Middle East want democracy! But, lets wait a minute and look at that claim, along with the people behind the curtain.

First, any claim that the people in the Middle East want “democracy” can be dismissed out of hand for two reasons. For one, you do not see a huge contingent of women in the constant barrage of video coverage from the countries affected. If this was really about democracy, then the people to spear-head that movement would clearly be the women of the Arab Muslim world, for they are the people who have been forced into second class status since the insane,  epileptic, barbarian, pedophile Mohammad invented Islam in the seventh century. To look at women in the Middle East is a totally depressing exercise.  People walking around in black (read hot!) garments that cover them, literally, from head to foot, only allowing their face (or sometimes just eyes) and hands to be visible is a clear violation of human rights.  While this clear violation of human rights is hard to fathom in the 21st century, you don’t hear any outcry about it from any countries; not even the “feminists” in the Western, civilized world. Why is that? The second reason that “democracy” is not the real goal in the Middle East is because democracy is a totally foreign, and in fact forbidden, concept under Islam.

We keep hearing the main-stream media (especially CNN and Al Jazeera) parroting that the Arab Muslims want democracy. Well, that sounds great, but what do they mean by “democracy”? Is it the democracy espoused by Plato and enshrined by modern Western states such as the United States? Well, actually, NO! What they mean by democracy is the ability to impose sharia law, and to reinstate the Islamic ummah, previously known as the Caliphate. If their desire for democracy was imposed on the world, it would result in an Islamic theocracy, or Caliphate, similar to Iran, but encompassing over 1 billion people, and enslaving most of the people who live in  the countries that comprise the Organization of the Islamic Conference! In other words, if Iran’s wet dream comes true, at least 20% of the world’s population would come under the boot of Islam. Women would be legislated to the status of  second class citizens, and Jews and Christians would be condemned to third class citizenship. Atheists like me, Buddhists, Hindus and others would be condemned to death. Obviously, I do not accept that barbarian pronouncement, and neither should anyone else!

And I am not the only person who maintains that Islam and democracy are mutually exclusive. There have been many  Muslims who have stated, quite clearly, that Islam and democracy are incompatible. I’ll start with Yussuf al-Ayyeri, an al Qaeda member who was killed in Riyadh in June, 2003. In his last book, “The Future of Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula after the Fall of Baghdad”, he wrote:

“It is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American Democracy.” (1)

One of the most influential Muslim authors of the 20th century was Sayyid Qutb. He was a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. (As I have stated in an earlier article, the predictions of which seem to be coming true day by day, Egypt will almost certainly be controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood after the revolution for “democracy” in Egypt, thus bringing about another Islamic theocracy in line with that in Iran.) In his book “Milestones”, Qutb stated:

“Whoever says that legislation is the right of the people is not a Muslim.” (2)

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a Palestininian-Jordanian theologian, stated:

“…democracy is a religion but it is not Allah’s religion.”

He further stated that it is a religious obligation of Muslims to:

“…destroy those who follow democracy, and we must take their followers as enemies–hate them and wage a great jihad against them.” (3)

Another well-known Muslim cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir (who did some prison time in connection with the 2006 Bali bombings), stated:

There is no democracy in Islam, so do not try to interpret the Qu’ran and turn Islam into a democracy to suit your needs. God’s law comes first. It is not up to the will of the people to decide what is right and how to live. Rather the will of the people have [sic] to be bent to suit the will of God. It is not democracy that we want, but Allah-cracy! The principles of Islam cannot be altered and there is no democracy in Islam or nonsense like ‘democratic Islam’….Democracy is shirk (blasphemy) and haram (forbidden).” (4)

And, since the main-stream-media is dancing in the aisles about the “democratic” revolution in the Middle East, perhaps it is time to look back at what the main-stream-media was saying in 1979 about the “democratic” revolution in Iran.

On Feb. 12, 1979, Time magazine reported

a sense of controlled optimism in Iran. . . . Iranians will surely insist that the revolution live up to its democratic aims. . . . Those who know [Khomeini] expect that eventually he will settle in the Shi’ite holy city of Qum and resume a life of teaching and prayer. It seems improbable that he would try to become a kind of Archbishop Makarios of Iran, directly holding the reins of power. Khomeini believes that Iran should become a parliamentary democracy, with several political parties.

A New York Times editorial reassured readers that “moderate, progressive individuals” were advising Khomeini. The Times predicted the Ayatollah would provide “a desperately needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.”

It reminds me of the global warming hoax. Back in the 70’s the main-stream media was publishing stories about the coming ice age; today they are publishing stories about global warming. Hard to believe that they  can always be wrong, but maybe that is possible!

What about the thoughts and ideas from modern Muslim leaders? Well, lets look at what Ayatollah Khomeini has to say about democracy after he was in power. (He said a lot of contradictory things before he came into power, which, again, should be setting off alarm bells in relation to what we are hearing from groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in relation to the situation in the Middle East.)

“Don’t listen to those who speak of democracy. They all are against Islam. They want to take the nation away from its mission. We will break all the poison pens of those who speak of nationalism, democracy, and such things.” — In a meeting with Iranian students and educators, Qom, March 13, 1979

“The intellectuals, the writers, those who have information and thoughts, you see some of them take their pens and in the name of democracy they write whatever they want and they cause disagreements. This group of so-called intellectuals has to correct themselves. Whatever we are suffering is from this group of intellectuals and judges. What we are suffering is because of them. — In a talk in Qom, July 23, 1979

“Those who are trying to bring corruption and destruction to our country in the name of democracy will be oppressed. They are worse than Bani-Ghorizeh (4) Jews, and they must be hanged. We will oppress them by God’s order and God’s call to prayer.” — In a talk at the Fayzieah School, Qom, August 30, 1979

“These writings, these speeches, these wrong activities, these democratic programs are separations from Islam. All these voices are blasphemy and are atheistic.” — in a talk to the Representatives from Tabriz, Qom, September 19, 1979

“In the revolution that was achieved in Iran, people were screaming that they wanted Islam; these people did not rise up so their country could have democracy.” — In a meeting with the Islamic Republic Television and Radio Committee, Qom, December 10, 1979

OK, I can hear you screaming that these are all Islamists, not main-stream Muslims. But, that is one of the problems. What is a main-stream Muslim? Is it a person who calls themselves a Muslim, but does not really believe all the myths, lies, and legends that they has been taught all of their lives and who does not pray 5 times a day and who does not follow other Islamic rules? I am sure there are plenty of those people, but they would not be considered truly Muslim by most Muslims, by definition. The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated, in reference to the use of the term “moderate Islam”:

“These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”

He is not only, supposedly a “moderate Muslim”, but the Prime Minister of a NATO country! (Interestingly, by the way, it was the leader of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk,  who disbanded the Islamic Caliphate in 1924, which is what many Muslims consider to be the point that marked the downfall of Islam, and a fact that they want to see reversed. I believe that the events in the Middle East, today, may be an attempt by Muslims, led by Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, to reinstate the Caliphate. The following lament about the loss of the Caliphate is from the Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir. (5)

It was a day like this 79 years ago, and more specifically on the 3rd of March 1924 that the kuffar [unbelievers] were able to reap the fruits of their tireless efforts of plotting and planning, which they had expended for more than a hundred years. This happened when the criminal English agent, Mustafa Kemal (so-called Ataturk, the ‘Father of the Turks’!) announced that the Grand National Assembly had agreed to destroy the Khilafah [caliphate]; and announced the establishment of a secular, irreligious, Turkish republic after washing his hands from responsibility of the remaining Islamic lands which the kuffar occupied in the First World War.

Since that day the Islamic ummah has lived a life full of calamities; she was broken up into small mini states controlled by the enemies of the Islam in every aspect. The Muslims were oppressed and became the object of the kuffar’s derision in Kashmir, Philippines, Thailand, Chechnya, Iraq, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Palestine and other lands belonging to the Muslims until what happened to the Muslims became the subject of studies and statistics. Thousands were killed, millions dispossessed and the honor of tens of thousands has been violated amongst other calamities. Anyone who reads the papers or hears the news always finds the Muslims under a state of oppression, humiliation and killings; and this is prevalent in every report.

Indeed, the ummah [global Muslim community] is not in a situation as she used to be under the banner of Islam, when she used to be ruled by the Khilafah state that united the Muslims. She was not divided as we see today by borders drawn up by the kafir colonialists or dispersed by oppressive laws of residence. The Muslim used to travel from one corner of the Muslim lands to another without anyone asking him who he was or describing him as a foreigner. When the Khilafah existed the Muslims witnessed the power of Islam through the power of the Khilafah. They led the word under the banner of the Khilafah that applied Islam and conveyed it as a message, guidance and light to the world. However, where is the Khilafah? It existed in the past, but it was destroyed and suspended as a system…

Those were critical nights in which the political entity of the Muslim was destroyed. At the time the Islamic ummah was supposed to raise its sword in the face of this treacherous agent who consigned Dar al-Islam into  Dar al-Kufr and realized for the kuffar a dream they had wished for a long time. However, the Islamic ummah was overwhelmed, in the worst state of decline. So the crime took place and the kuffar tightened their grasp over the Islamic lands and tore it up into pieces. They divided the one ummah into nationalities, ethnicities and tribes; they tore up the single country into homelands and regions in which they established borders and barriers. In place of a single Khilafah state they established cartoon states and installed rulers as agents to carry out the orders of their kuffar masters. They abolished the Islamic Sharee’ah from the sphere of ruling, economy, international relations, domestic transactions and the judiciary. They separated the deen from the state and confined the Islamic deen to certain rituals, like those in Christianity. They worked to destroy the Islamic culture and uproot the Islamic thoughts to plant in their place western thoughts and culture.

Never mind the fact that Ataturk eliminated the Caliphate specifically to destroy Islamic “culture” and uproot Islamic “thoughts” because he realized that Islamic “culture” and “thoughts” had been central to the decline of the economic and social well-being of Muslims!

As a final example of how democracy and Islam are mutually exclusive, lets look at what is said by people at the head of CAIR (Council of Islamic American Relations, although I prefer to call them the Conspiring Assortment of Islamist Reactionaries). In 1998, Omar Ahmed, the co-founder and long-time chairman of CAIR stated:

“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”

Ahmed, of course, later denied making the statement, although the author who quoted him stands by the quotation.

Given that the Muslim Brotherhood stated the following about their mission in the United States, and given that CAIR is just a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the above statement seems entirely reasonable and perfectly in alignment with the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, and, by extension, any other democracy.

4- Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America:
The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and
have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal.

(The above document, in its entirety,  should be required reading for all people in the media and the United States government, since it clearly spells out the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it does not bode well for civilization! This document is in Arabic in the beginning and it has the English translation in the second half.)

As Robert Reilly points out in his excellent 2010 book, “The Closing of the Muslim Mind”:

The problem is that democracy is the answer to a question that the Arab Islamic world has not asked. As Middle East analyst Elie Kedourie remarked, “There is nothing in the political traditions of the Arab world which might make familiar, indeed intelligible, the organizing ideas of constitutional and representative government.” This is why, until recent neologisms, there were no words in Arabic for “citizen,”, “democracy,” “conscience,”, or “secular.” It is also why, as Bassim Thib explains, “in the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism–or for that matter, in the minds of Islamic peoples–democracy is not an important issue.” How could it be otherwise? This led to the frustration of various reformers such as Muhammad ‘Abduh, who said, “The Orient needs a despot who would force those who criticize each other to recognize their mutual worth,” and Kemal Ataturk, who famously declared, concerning his efforts to impose democracy in Turkey, “For the people, despite the people.” (6)

It is vital to remember that the Iranian revolution, while presented before the fact as a democratic revolution, was nothing of the sort. It resulted in a brutal Islamic theocracy. Iran clearly wants to be the leader of the Islamic ummah. It has been covertly (and overtly) meddling in Iraq to turn it into an Iranian satellite state once the United States is gone, and it is meddling in the various revolutions in the Middle East. It is possible that we may even see Iran send troops into Bahrain to try to “protect” the majority Shia population from the “occupying” Sunni troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations. It’s proxy, Hamas, is stepping up hostilities in Israel, obviously in an attempt to force Israel to strike back in self defense. This will obviously tend to turn the world against Israel when “innocent civilians” are killed due to the fact that Hamas and Hezbollah deliberately put their weapons and armories in civilian locations, even going so far as to shoot missiles and other arms from hospitals and schools! And, while all of this is going on, Hamas operatives and al Qaeda operatives are working to destabilize Egypt and Libya. It is not impossible that we will see the whole Middle East blow up in the next few weeks. If this happens, the Iranians could get their dream of the domination of the Middle East, the Muslims could get their beloved Caliphate back, oil will go to over $200/barrel, and the terrorists will have the modern weapons of war that were restricted to state actors, before.

1. The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist, by Robert Reilly, Copyright 2010, ISI Books, pages 187-188

2) Ibid

3) Ibid

4) Ibid

5) The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), by Robert Spencer, Copyright 2005, Regnery Publishing, Inc.  pp. 185-187

6) “The Closing of the Muslim Mind” by Robert Reilly, Copyright 2010, ISI Books, pages 187-188 pp. 130-131

Libya, the West and the Narrative of Democracy

By George Friedman

Forces from the United States and some European countries have intervened in Libya. Under U.N. authorization, they have imposed a no-fly zone in Libya, meaning they will shoot down any Libyan aircraft that attempts to fly within Libya. In addition, they have conducted attacks against aircraft on the ground, airfields, air defenses and the command, control and communication systems of the Libyan government, and French and U.S. aircraft have struck against Libyan armor and ground forces. There also are reports of European and Egyptian special operations forces deploying in eastern Libya, where the opposition to the government is centered, particularly around the city of Benghazi. In effect, the intervention of this alliance has been against the government of Moammar Gadhafi, and by extension, in favor of his opponents in the east.

The alliance’s full intention is not clear, nor is it clear that the allies are of one mind. The U.N. Security Council resolution clearly authorizes the imposition of a no-fly zone. By extension, this logically authorizes strikes against airfields and related targets. Very broadly, it also defines the mission of the intervention as protecting civilian lives. As such, it does not specifically prohibit the presence of ground forces, though it does clearly state that no “foreign occupation force” shall be permitted on Libyan soil. It can be assumed they intended that forces could intervene in Libya but could not remain in Libya after the intervention. What this means in practice is less than clear.

There is no question that the intervention is designed to protect Gadhafi’s enemies from his forces. Gadhafi had threatened to attack “without mercy” and had mounted a sustained eastward assault that the rebels proved incapable of slowing. Before the intervention, the vanguard of his forces was on the doorstep of Benghazi. The protection of the eastern rebels from Gadhafi’s vengeance coupled with attacks on facilities under Gadhafi’s control logically leads to the conclusion that the alliance wants regime change, that it wants to replace the Gadhafi government with one led by the rebels.

But that would be too much like the invasion of Iraq against Saddam Hussein, and the United Nations and the alliance haven’t gone that far in their rhetoric, regardless of the logic of their actions. Rather, the goal of the intervention is explicitly to stop Gadhafi’s threat to slaughter his enemies, support his enemies but leave the responsibility for the outcome in the hands of the eastern coalition. In other words — and this requires a lot of words to explain — they want to intervene to protect Gadhafi’s enemies, they are prepared to support those enemies (though it is not clear how far they are willing to go in providing that support), but they will not be responsible for the outcome of the civil war.

The Regional Context

To understand this logic, it is essential to begin by considering recent events in North Africa and the Arab world and the manner in which Western governments interpreted them. Beginning with Tunisia, spreading to Egypt and then to the Arabian Peninsula, the last two months have seen widespread unrest in the Arab world. Three assumptions have been made about this unrest. The first was that it represented broad-based popular opposition to existing governments, rather than representing the discontent of fragmented minorities — in other words, that they were popular revolutions. Second, it assumed that these revolutions had as a common goal the creation of a democratic society. Third, it assumed that the kind of democratic society they wanted was similar to European-American democracy, in other words, a constitutional system supporting Western democratic values.

Each of the countries experiencing unrest was very different. For example, in Egypt, while the cameras focused on demonstrators, they spent little time filming the vast majority of the country that did not rise up. Unlike 1979 in Iran, the shopkeepers and workers did not protest en masse. Whether they supported the demonstrators in Tahrir Square is a matter of conjecture. They might have, but the demonstrators were a tiny fraction of Egyptian society, and while they clearly wanted a democracy, it is less than clear that they wanted a liberal democracy. Recall that the Iranian Revolution created an Islamic Republic more democratic than its critics would like to admit, but radically illiberal and oppressive. In Egypt, it is clear that Mubarak was generally loathed but not clear that the regime in general was being rejected. It is not clear from the outcome what will happen now. Egypt may stay as it is, it may become an illiberal democracy or it may become a liberal democracy.

Consider also Bahrain. Clearly, the majority of the population is Shiite, and resentment toward the Sunni government is apparent. It should be assumed that the protesters want to dramatically increase Shiite power, and elections should do the trick. Whether they want to create a liberal democracy fully aligned with the U.N. doctrines on human rights is somewhat more problematic.

Egypt is a complicated country, and any simple statement about what is going on is going to be wrong. Bahrain is somewhat less complex, but the same holds there. The idea that opposition to the government means support for liberal democracy is a tremendous stretch in all cases — and the idea that what the demonstrators say they want on camera is what they actually want is problematic. Even more problematic in many cases is the idea that the demonstrators in the streets simply represent a universal popular will.

Nevertheless, a narrative on what has happened in the Arab world has emerged and has become the framework for thinking about the region. The narrative says that the region is being swept by democratic revolutions (in the Western sense) rising up against oppressive regimes. The West must support these uprisings gently. That means that they must not sponsor them but at the same time act to prevent the repressive regimes from crushing them.

This is a complex maneuver. The West supporting the rebels will turn it into another phase of Western imperialism, under this theory. But the failure to support the rising will be a betrayal of fundamental moral principles. Leaving aside whether the narrative is accurate, reconciling these two principles is not easy — but it particularly appeals to Europeans with their ideological preference for “soft power.”

The West has been walking a tightrope of these contradictory principles; Libya became the place where they fell off. According to the narrative, what happened in Libya was another in a series of democratic uprisings, but in this case suppressed with a brutality outside the bounds of what could be tolerated. Bahrain apparently was inside the bounds, and Egypt was a success, but Libya was a case in which the world could not stand aside while Gadhafi destroyed a democratic uprising. Now, the fact that the world had stood aside for more than 40 years while Gadhafi brutalized his own and other people was not the issue. In the narrative being told, Libya was no longer an isolated tyranny but part of a widespread rising — and the one in which the West’s moral integrity was being tested in the extreme. Now was different from before.

Of course, as with other countries, there was a massive divergence between the narrative and what actually happened. Certainly, that there was unrest in Tunisia and Egypt caused opponents of Gadhafi to think about opportunities, and the apparent ease of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings gave them some degree of confidence. But it would be an enormous mistake to see what has happened in Libya as a mass, liberal democratic uprising. The narrative has to be strained to work in most countries, but in Libya, it breaks down completely.

The Libyan Uprising

As we have pointed out, the Libyan uprising consisted of a cluster of tribes and personalities, some within the Libyan government, some within the army and many others longtime opponents of the regime, all of whom saw an opportunity at this particular moment. Though many in western portions of Libya, notably in the cities of Zawiya and Misurata, identify themselves with the opposition, they do not represent the heart of the historic opposition to Tripoli found in the east. It is this region, known in the pre-independence era as Cyrenaica, that is the core of the opposition movement. United perhaps only by their opposition to Gadhafi, these people hold no common ideology and certainly do not all advocate Western-style democracy. Rather, they saw an opportunity to take greater power, and they tried to seize it.

According to the narrative, Gadhafi should quickly have been overwhelmed — but he wasn’t. He actually had substantial support among some tribes and within the army. All of these supporters had a great deal to lose if he was overthrown. Therefore, they proved far stronger collectively than the opposition, even if they were taken aback by the initial opposition successes. To everyone’s surprise, Gadhafi not only didn’t flee, he counterattacked and repulsed his enemies.

This should not have surprised the world as much as it did. Gadhafi did not run Libya for the past 42 years because he was a fool, nor because he didn’t have support. He was very careful to reward his friends and hurt and weaken his enemies, and his supporters were substantial and motivated. One of the parts of the narrative is that the tyrant is surviving only by force and that the democratic rising readily routs him. The fact is that the tyrant had a lot of support in this case, the opposition wasn’t particularly democratic, much less organized or cohesive, and it was Gadhafi who routed them.

As Gadhafi closed in on Benghazi, the narrative shifted from the triumph of the democratic masses to the need to protect them from Gadhafi — hence the urgent calls for airstrikes. But this was tempered by reluctance to act decisively by landing troops, engaging the Libyan army and handing power to the rebels: Imperialism had to be avoided by doing the least possible to protect the rebels while arming them to defeat Gadhafi. Armed and trained by the West, provided with command of the air by the foreign air forces — this was the arbitrary line over which the new government keeps from being a Western puppet. It still seems a bit over the line, but that’s how the story goes.

In fact, the West is now supporting a very diverse and sometimes mutually hostile group of tribes and individuals, bound together by hostility to Gadhafi and not much else. It is possible that over time they could coalesce into a fighting force, but it is far more difficult imagining them defeating Gadhafi’s forces anytime soon, much less governing Libya together. There are simply too many issues among them. It is, in part, these divisions that allowed Gadhafi to stay in power as long as he did. The West’s ability to impose order on them without governing them, particularly in a short amount of time, is difficult to imagine. They remind me of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, anointed by the Americans, distrusted by much of the country and supported by a fractious coalition.

Other Factors

There are other factors involved, of course. Italy has an interest in Libyan oil, and the United Kingdom was looking for access to the same. But just as Gadhafi was happy to sell the oil, so would any successor regime be; this war was not necessary to guarantee access to oil. NATO politics also played a role. The Germans refused to go with this operation, and that drove the French closer to the Americans and British. There is the Arab League, which supported a no-fly zone (though it did an about-face when it found out that a no-fly zone included bombing things) and offered the opportunity to work with the Arab world.

But it would be a mistake to assume that these passing interests took precedence over the ideological narrative, the genuine belief that it was possible to thread the needle between humanitarianism and imperialism — that it was possible to intervene in Libya on humanitarian grounds without thereby interfering in the internal affairs of the country. The belief that one can take recourse to war to save the lives of the innocent without, in the course of that war, taking even more lives of innocents, also was in play.

The comparison to Iraq is obvious. Both countries had a monstrous dictator. Both were subjected to no-fly zones. The no-fly zones don’t deter the dictator. In due course, this evolves into a massive intervention in which the government is overthrown and the opposition goes into an internal civil war while simultaneously attacking the invaders. Of course, alternatively, this might play out like the Kosovo war, where a few months of bombing saw the government surrender the province. But in that case, only a province was in play. In this case, although focused ostensibly on the east, Gadhafi in effect is being asked to give up everything, and the same with his supporters — a harder business.

In my view, waging war to pursue the national interest is on rare occasion necessary. Waging war for ideological reasons requires a clear understanding of the ideology and an even clearer understanding of the reality on the ground. In this intervention, the ideology is not crystal clear, torn as it is between the concept of self-determination and the obligation to intervene to protect the favored faction. The reality on the ground is even less clear. The reality of democratic uprisings in the Arab world is much more complicated than the narrative makes it out to be, and the application of the narrative to Libya simply breaks down. There is unrest, but unrest comes in many sizes, democratic being only one.

Whenever you intervene in a country, whatever your intentions, you are intervening on someone’s side. In this case, the United States, France and Britain are intervening in favor of a poorly defined group of mutually hostile and suspicious tribes and factions that have failed to coalesce, at least so far, into a meaningful military force. The intervention may well succeed. The question is whether the outcome will create a morally superior nation. It is said that there can’t be anything worse than Gadhafi. But Gadhafi did not rule for 42 years because he was simply a dictator using force against innocents, but rather because he speaks to a real and powerful dimension of Libya.

Libya, the West and the Narrative of Democracy is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Special Report: Iran and the Saudis’ Countermove on Bahrain

The following report is republished with permission from Stratfor

By George Friedman

Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition force into Bahrain to help the government calm the unrest there. This move puts Iran in a difficult position, as Tehran had hoped to use the uprising in Bahrain to promote instability in the Persian Gulf region. Iran could refrain from acting and lose an opportunity to destabilize the region, or it could choose from several other options that do not seem particularly effective.

The Bahrain uprising consists of two parts, as all revolutions do. The first is genuine grievances by the majority Shiite population — the local issues and divisions. The second is the interests of foreign powers in Bahrain. It is not one or the other. It is both.

The Iranians clearly benefit from an uprising in Bahrain. It places the U.S. 5th Fleet’s basing in jeopardy, puts the United States in a difficult position and threatens the stability of other Persian Gulf Arab states. For the Iranians, the uprisings in North Africa and their spread to the Arabian Peninsula represent a golden opportunity for pursuing their long-standing interest (going back to the Shah and beyond) of dominating the Gulf.

The Iranians are accustomed to being able to use their covert capabilities to shape the political realities in countries. They did this effectively in Iraq and are doing it in Afghanistan. They regarded this as low risk and high reward. The Saudis, recognizing that this posed a fundamental risk to their regime and consulting with the Americans, have led a coalition force into Bahrain to halt the uprising and save the regime. Pressed by covert forces, they were forced into an overt action they were clearly reluctant to take.

We are now off the map, so to speak. The question is how the Iranians respond, and there is every reason to think that they do not know. They probably did not expect a direct military move by the Saudis, given that the Saudis prefer to act more quietly themselves. The Iranians wanted to destabilize without triggering a strong response, but they were sufficiently successful in using local issues that the Saudis felt they had no choice in the matter. It is Iran’s move.

Special Report: Iran and the Saudis' Countermove on Bahrain

If Iran simply does nothing, then the wave that has been moving in its favor might be stopped and reversed. They could lose a historic opportunity. At the same time, the door remains open in Iraq, and that is the main prize here. They might simply accept the reversal and pursue their main line. But even there things are murky. There are rumors in Washington that U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to slow down, halt or even reverse the withdrawal from Iraq. Rumors are merely rumors, but these make sense. Completing the withdrawal now would tilt the balance in Iraq to Iran, a strategic disaster.

Therefore, the Iranians are facing a counter-offensive that threatens the project they have been pursuing for years just when it appeared to be coming to fruition. Of course, it is just before a project succeeds that opposition mobilizes, so they should not be surprised that resistance has grown so strong. But surprised or not, they now have a strategic decision to make and not very long to make it.

They can up the ante by increasing resistance in Bahrain and forcing fighting on the ground. It is not clear that the Bahraini opposition is prepared to take that risk on behalf of Iran, but it is a potential option. They have the option of trying to increase unrest elsewhere in order to spread the Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council forces, weakening their impact. It is not clear how much leverage the Iranians have in other countries. The Iranians could try to create problems in Saudi Arabia, but given the Saudis’ actions in Bahrain, this becomes more difficult.

Finally, they can attempt an overt intervention, either in Bahrain or elsewhere, such as Iraq or Afghanistan. A naval movement against Bahrain is not impossible, but if the U.S. Navy intervenes, which it likely would, it would be a disaster for the Iranians. Operations in Iraq or Afghanistan might be more fruitful. It is possible that Shiite insurgents will operate in Iraq, but that would guarantee a halt of the U.S. withdrawal without clearly increasing the Iranians’ advantage there. They want U.S. forces to leave, not give them a reason to stay.

There is then the indirect option, which is to trigger a war with Israel. The killings in the West Bank and Israeli concerns about Hezbollah might be some of Iran’s doing, with the emphasis on “might.” But it is not clear how a Hezbollah confrontation with Israel would help Iran’s position relative to Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. It diverts attention, but the Saudis know the stakes and they will not be easily diverted.

The logic, therefore, is that Iran retreats and waits. But the Saudi move shifts the flow of events, and time is not on Iran’s side.

There is also the domestic Iranian political situation to consider. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been strong in part because of his successful handling of foreign policy. The massive failure of a destabilization plan would give his political opponents the ammunition needed to weaken him domestically. We do not mean a democratic revolution in Iran, but his enemies among the clergy who see him as a threat to their position, and hard-liners in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who want an even more aggressive stand.

Ahmadinejad finds himself in a difficult position. The Saudis have moved decisively. If he does nothing, his position can unravel and with it his domestic political strength. Yet none of the counters he might use seem effective or workable. In the end, his best option is to create a crisis in Iraq, forcing the United States to consider how deeply it wants to be drawn back into Iraq. He might find weakness there that he can translate into some sort of political deal.

At the moment we suspect the Iranians do not know how they will respond. The first issue will have to be determining whether they can create violent resistance to the Saudis in Bahrain, to both tie them down and increase the cost of occupation. It is simply unclear whether the Bahrainis are prepared to pay the price. The opposition does seem to want fundamental change in Bahrain, but it is not clear that they have reached the point where they are prepared to resist and die en masse.

That is undoubtedly what the Iranians are exploring now. If they find that this is not an option, then none of their other options are particularly good. All of them involve risk and difficulty. It also requires that Iran commit itself to confrontations that it has tried to avoid. It prefers covert action that is deniable to overt action that is not.

As we move into the evening, we expect the Iranians are in intense discussions of their next move. Domestic politics are affecting regional strategy, as would be the case in any country. But the clear roadmap the Iranians were working from has now collapsed. The Saudis have called their hand, and they are trying to find out if they have a real or a busted flush. They will have to act quickly before the Saudi action simply becomes a solid reality. But it is not clear what they can do quickly. For the moment, the Saudis have the upper hand. But the Iranians are clever and tenacious. There are no predictions possible. We doubt even the Iranians know what they will do.

Saudi Intervention in Bahrain

The following article is republished with permission from Stratfor.

Forces from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will enter Bahrain to help the Bahraini regime quell unrest, according to a number of media reports, including by Bahrain’s Alyam newspaper, known for its close links with the ruling al-Khalifa family. The reports come one day after clashes occurred between Shiite protesters and police in the capital, Manama. Meanwhile, Bahraini state media reported that the Independent Bloc (a parliamentary bloc of the Bahraini parliament) asked Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to enforce martial law to contain the unrest.

These reports suggest that foreign intervention in Bahrain, or at least the possibility that the Bahraini military is taking over the security reins, is imminent. Such a move would mean the regime is getting increasingly concerned with Shiite unrest, which does not appear to be subsiding despite calls for dialogue from Bahraini Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa.

Troops from the United Arab Emirates are reportedly expected to arrive March 14. Al Arabiya reported that Saudi forces have already entered Bahrain, but these claims have yet to be officially confirmed by the Bahraini regime. The only announcement thus far has come from Nabil al-Hamar, the former information minister and adviser to the royal family, who wrote on Twitter that the Arab forces arrived in Bahrain. An unnamed Saudi official also said March 14 that more than 1,000 Saudi troops from the GCC’s Peninsula Shield military force entered Bahrain late March 13, AFP reported.

The ongoing tensions are exacerbated by the split between Bahrain’s Shiite movement, which became clearer during protests on March 11. The more hard-line faction of the Shiite movement, led by the Wafa and Haq blocs, has been increasing the unrest on the streets in the hopes of stalling the talks between the Shiite Al Wefaq-led coalition’s negotiations with the regime. Military intervention by the GCC countries would mean the situation is increasingly untenable for the regime. The paradox the Bahraini regime faces is that it cannot contain the unrest while trying to kick off talks with Al Wefaq. Al Wefaq finds itself in a difficult position, since it risks losing ground against hard-liners if it appears too close to the regime while Shiite protesters are beaten by the police.

The Bahraini regime has used the military option before. On Feb. 17, the military deployed immediately after a police crackdown in Manama’s Pearl Square and was able to calm down the situation for a while by encircling the area with tanks. If Bahrain indeed has requested Saudi intervention this time, the implication is that the Bahraini military is not confident in its ability to contain the unrest now. Riyadh’s decision to send forces to Manama could be taken for this reason, since wider spread of Shiite unrest from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia would aggravate the already existing protests among Saudi Arabia’s own Shiite population. Saudi military intervention in Bahrain is also not unprecedented; Saudi Arabia sent troops to Bahrain in 1994 when Riyadh determined that Shiite unrest threatened the al-Khalifa regime.

The regional implications of the unrest in Bahrain were underscored when U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Manama on March 12 and urged the Bahraini regime to implement bold reforms. Gates said Iranian interference would become a greater possibility if Bahrain fails to do so. While Bahrain and Saudi Arabia seem to be coordinating to avoid that possibility, it is not without risks. Leader of the hard-line Haq movement Hassan Mushaima, who is believed to be increasing the Shiite unrest in Bahrain with Iranian support, said Feb. 28 that Saudi intervention in Bahrain would give Iran the same right to intervene as well. A scenario of regional Sunni Arab forces cracking down on Shia would apply pressure on Iran to respond more overtly, but its military ability is limited and it is a very risky option given the U.S. 5th Fleet is stationed in Bahrain. As of this writing, there is no sign that the Iranian military is taking steps toward that end, however, the situation on the ground could escalate if Shia in Bahrain ramp-up demonstrations.

Japanese Government Confirms Meltdown

The following article is published with permission of Stratfor

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said March 12 that the explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi No. 1 nuclear plant could only have been caused by a meltdown of the reactor core, Japanese daily Nikkei reported. This statement seemed somewhat at odds with Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano’s comments earlier March 12, in which he said “the walls of the building containing the reactor were destroyed, meaning that the metal container encasing the reactor did not explode.”

NISA’s statement is significant because it is the government agency that reports to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy within the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. NISA works in conjunction with the Atomic Energy Commission. Its role is to provide oversight to the industry and is responsible for signing off construction of new plants, among other things. It has been criticized for approving nuclear plants on geological fault lines and for an alleged conflict of interest in regulating the nuclear sector. It was NISA that issued the order for the opening of the valve to release pressure — and thus allegedly some radiation — from the Fukushima power plant.

NISA has also overseen the entire government response to the nuclear reactor problems following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It is difficult to determine at this point whether the NISA statement is accurate, as the Nikkei report has not been corroborated by others. It is also not clear from the context whether NISA is stating the conclusions of an official assessment or simply making a statement. However, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, also said that although it had relieved pressure, nevertheless some nuclear fuel had melted and further action was necessary to contain the pressure.

If this report is accurate, it would not be the first time statements by NISA and Edano have diverged. When Edano earlier claimed that radiation levels had fallen at the site after the depressurization efforts, NISA claimed they had risen due to the release of radioactive vapors.

Red Alert: Nuclear Meltdown at Quake-Damaged Japanese Plant

The following report is republished with permission from Stratfor,

A March 12 explosion at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan, appears to have caused a reactor meltdown.

The key piece of technology in a nuclear reactor is the control rods. Nuclear fuel generates neutrons; controlling the flow and production rate of these neutrons is what generates heat, and from the heat, electricity. Control rods absorb neutrons — the rods slide in and out of the fuel mass to regulate neutron emission, and with it, heat and electricity generation.

A meltdown occurs when the control rods fail to contain the neutron emission and the heat levels inside the reactor thus rise to a point that the fuel itself melts, generally temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing uncontrolled radiation-generating reactions and making approaching the reactor incredibly hazardous. A meltdown does not necessarily mean a nuclear disaster. As long as the reactor core, which is specifically designed to contain high levels of heat, pressure and radiation, remains intact, the melted fuel can be dealt with. If the core breaches but the containment facility built around the core remains intact, the melted fuel can still be dealt with — typically entombed within specialized concrete — but the cost and difficulty of such containment increases exponentially.

However, the earthquake in Japan, in addition to damaging the ability of the control rods to regulate the fuel — and the reactor’s coolant system — appears to have damaged the containment facility, and the explosion almost certainly did. There have been reports of “white smoke,” perhaps burning concrete, coming from the scene of the explosion, indicating a containment breach and the almost certain escape of significant amounts of radiation.

At this point, events in Japan bear many similarities to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Reports indicate that up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) of the reactor fuel was exposed. The reactor fuel appears to have at least partially melted, and the subsequent explosion has shattered the walls and roof of the containment vessel — and likely the remaining useful parts of the control and coolant systems.

And so now the question is simple: Did the floor of the containment vessel crack? If not, the situation can still be salvaged by somehow re-containing the nuclear core. But if the floor has cracked, it is highly likely that the melting fuel will burn through the floor of the containment system and enter the ground. This has never happened before but has always been the nightmare scenario for a nuclear power event — in this scenario, containment goes from being merely dangerous, time consuming and expensive to nearly impossible.

Radiation exposure for the average individual is 620 millirems per year, split about evenly between manmade and natural sources. The firefighters who served at the Chernobyl plant were exposed to between 80,000 and 1.6 million millirems. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that exposure to 375,000 to 500,000 millirems would be sufficient to cause death within three months for half of those exposed. A 30-kilometer-radius (19 miles) no-go zone remains at Chernobyl to this day. Japan’s troubled reactor site is about 300 kilometers from Tokyo.

The latest report from the damaged power plant indicated that exposure rates outside the plant were at about 620 millirems per hour, though it is not clear whether that report came before or after the reactor’s containment structure exploded.

Bahrain and the Battle Between Iran and Saudi Arabia

By George Friedman

The world’s attention is focused on Libya, which is now in a state of civil war with the winner far from clear. While crucial for the Libyan people and of some significance to the world’s oil markets, in our view, Libya is not the most important event in the Arab world at the moment. The demonstrations in Bahrain are, in my view, far more significant in their implications for the region and potentially for the world. To understand this, we must place it in a strategic context.

As STRATFOR has been saying for quite a while, a decisive moment is approaching, with the United States currently slated to withdraw the last of its forces from Iraq by the end of the year. Indeed, we are already at a point where the composition of the 50,000 troops remaining in Iraq has shifted from combat troops to training and support personnel. As it stands now, even these will all be gone by Dec. 31, 2011, provided the United States does not negotiate an extended stay. Iraq still does not have a stable government. It also does not have a military and security apparatus able to enforce the will of the government (which is hardly of one mind on anything) on the country, much less defend the country from outside forces.

Filling the Vacuum in Iraq

The decision to withdraw creates a vacuum in Iraq, and the question of the wisdom of the original invasion is at this point moot. The Iranians previously have made clear that they intend to fill this vacuum with their own influence; doing so makes perfect sense from their point of view. Iran and Iraq fought a long and brutal war in the 1980s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran is now secure on all fronts save the western. Tehran’s primary national security imperative now is to prevent a strong government from emerging in Baghdad, and more important, a significant military force from emerging there. Iran never wants to fight another war with Iraq, making keeping Iraq permanently weak and fragmented in Tehran’s interest. The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq sets the stage for Iran to pursue this goal, profoundly changing the regional dynamic.

Iran has another, more challenging strategic interest, one it has had since Biblical times. That goal is to be the dominant power in the Persian Gulf.

For Tehran, this is both reasonable and attainable. Iran has the largest and most ideologically committed military of any state in the Persian Gulf region. Despite the apparent technological sophistication of the Gulf states’ militaries, they are shells. Iran’s is not. In addition to being the leading military force in the Persian Gulf, Iran has 75 million people, giving it a larger population than all other Persian Gulf states combined.

Outside powers have prevented Iran from dominating the region since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, first the United Kingdom and then the United States, which consistently have supported the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. It was in the outsiders’ interests to maintain a divided region, and therefore in their interests to block the most powerful country in the region from dominating even when the outsiders were allied with Iran.

With the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, this strategy is being abandoned in the sense that the force needed to contain Iran is being withdrawn. The forces left in Kuwait and U.S air power might be able to limit a conventional Iranian attack. Still, the U.S. withdrawal leaves the Iranians with the most powerful military force in the region regardless of whether they acquire nuclear weapons. Indeed, in my view, the nuclear issue largely has been an Iranian diversion from the more fundamental issue, namely, the regional balance after the departure of the United States. By focusing on the nuclear issue, these other issues appeared subsidiary and have been largely ignored.

The U.S. withdrawal does not mean that the United States is powerless against Iran. It has been reconstituting a pre-positioned heavy brigade combat team set in Kuwait and has substantial air and naval assets in the region. It also can bring more forces back to the region if Iran is aggressive. But it takes at least several months for the United States to bring multidivisional forces into a theater and requires the kind of political will that will be severely lacking in the United States in the years ahead. It is not clear that the forces available on the ground could stop a determined Iranian thrust. In any case, Iraq will be free of American troops, allowing Iran to operate much more freely there.

And Iran does not need to change the balance of power in the region through the overt exercise of military force. Its covert capability, unchecked by American force, is significant. It can covertly support pro-Iranian forces in the region, destabilizing existing regimes. With the psychology of the Arab masses changing, as they are no longer afraid to challenge their rulers, Iran will enjoy an enhanced capacity to cause instability.

As important, the U.S. withdrawal will cause a profound shift in psychological perceptions of power in the region. Recognition of Iran’s relative power based on ground realities will force a very different political perception of Iran, and a desire to accommodate Tehran. The Iranians, who understand the weakness of their military’s logistics and air power, are pursuing a strategy of indirect approach. They are laying the foundation for power based on a perception of greater Iranian power and declining American and Saudi power.

Bahrain, the Test Case

Bahrain is the perfect example and test case. An island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are linked by a causeway. For most purposes, Bahrain is part of Saudi Arabia. Unlike Saudi Arabia, it is not a major oil producer, but it is a banking center. It is also the home of the U.S. 5th Fleet, and has close ties to the United States. The majority of its population is Shia, but its government is Sunni and heavily linked to Saudi Arabia. The Shiite population has not fared as well economically as Shia in other countries in the region, and tensions between the government and the public have long existed.

The toppling of the government of Bahrain by a Shiite movement would potentially embolden Shia in Saudi Arabia, who live primarily in the oil-rich northeast near Bahrain. It also would weaken the U.S. military posture in the region. And it would demonstrate Iranian power.

If the Saudis intervened in Bahrain, the Iranians would have grounds to justify their own intervention, covert or overt. Iran might also use any violent Bahraini government suppression of demonstrators to justify more open intervention. In the meantime, the United States, which has about 1,500 military personnel plus embassy staff on the ground in Bahrain, would face the choice of reinforcing or pulling its troops out.

Certainly, there are internal processes under way in Bahrain that have nothing to do with Iran or foreign issues. But just as the internal dynamic of revolutions affects the international scene, the international scene affects the internal dynamic; observing just one of the two is not sufficient to understand what is going on.

The Iranians clearly have an interest in overthrowing the Bahraini regime. While the degree to which the Iranians are involved in the Bahraini unrest is unclear, they clearly have a great deal of influence over a cleric, Hassan Mushaima, who recently returned to Bahrain from London to participate in the protests. That said, the Bahraini government itself could be using the unrest to achieve its own political goals, much as the Egyptian military used the Egyptian uprising. Like all revolutions, events in Bahrain are enormously complex — and in Bahrain’s case, the stakes are extremely high.

Unlike Libya, where the effects are primarily internal, the events in Bahrain clearly involve Saudi, Iranian and U.S. interests. Bahrain is also the point where the Iranians have their best chance, since it is both the most heavily Shiite nation and one where the Shiites have the most grievances. But the Iranians have other targets, which might be defined as any area adjoining Saudi Arabia with a substantial Shiite population and with American bases. This would include Oman, which the United States uses as a support facility; Qatar, headquarters of U.S. Central Command and home to Al Udeid Air Base; and Kuwait, the key logistical hub for Iraqi operations and with major army support, storage and port facilities. All three have experienced or are experiencing demonstrations. Logically, these are Iran’s first targets.

The largest target of all is, of course, Saudi Arabia. That is the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, and its destabilization would change the regional balance of power and the way the world works. Iran has never made a secret of its animosity toward Saudi Arabia, nor vice versa. Saudi Arabia could now be in a vise. There is massive instability in Yemen with potential to spill over into Saudi Arabia’s southern Ismaili-concentrated areas. The situation in Iraq is moving in the Iranians’ favor. Successful regime changes in even one or two of the countries on the littoral of the Persian Gulf could generate massive internal fears regardless of what the Saudi Shia did and could lead to dissension in the royal family. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Saudis are moving aggressively against any sign of unrest among the Shia, arresting dozens who have indicated dissent. The Saudis clearly are uneasy in the extreme.

Iran’s Powerful Position

The Iranians would be delighted to cause regime change throughout the region, but that is not likely to occur, at least not everywhere in the region. They would be equally happy simply to cause massive instability in the region, however. With the United States withdrawing from Iraq, the Saudis represent the major supporter of Iraq’s Sunnis. With the Saudis diverted, this would ease the way for Iranian influence in Iraq. At that point, there would be three options: Turkey intervening broadly, something it is not eager to do; the United States reversing course and surging troops into the region to support tottering regimes, something for which there is no political appetite in the United States; and the United States accepting the changed regional balance of power.

Two processes are under way. The first is that Iran will be the single outside power with the most influence in Iraq, not unlimited and not unchallenged, but certainly the greatest. The second is that as the United States withdraws, Iran will be in a position to pursue its interests more decisively. Those interests divide into three parts:

  1. eliminating foreign powers from the region to maximize Iranian power,
  2. convincing Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region that they must reach an accommodation with Iran or face potentially dangerous consequences, and
  3. a redefinition of the economics of oil in the Persian Gulf in favor of Iran, including Iranian participation in oil projects in other Persian Gulf countries and regional investment in Iranian energy development.

The events in the Persian Gulf are quite different from the events in North Africa, with much broader implications. Bahrain is the focal point of a struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for control of the western littoral of the Persian Gulf. If Iran is unable to capitalize on events in Bahrain, the place most favorable to it, the moment will pass. If Bahrain’s government falls, the door is opened to further actions. Whether Iran caused the rising in the first place is unclear and unimportant; it is certainly involved now, as are the Saudis.

The Iranians are in a powerful position whatever happens given the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Combine this with a series of regime changes, or simply destabilization on the border of Saudi Arabia, and two things happen. First, the Saudi regime would be in trouble and would have to negotiate some agreement with the Iranians — and not an agreement the Saudis would like. Second, the U.S. basing position in the Persian Gulf would massively destabilize, making U.S. intervention in the region even more difficult.

The problem created by the U.S. leaving Iraq without having been able to install a strong, pro-American government remains the core issue. The instability in the Persian Gulf allows the Iranians a low-risk, high-reward parallel strategy that, if it works, could unhinge the balance of power in the entire region. The threat of an uprising in Iran appears minimal, with the Iranian government having no real difficulty crushing resistance. The resistance on the western shore of the Persian Gulf may be crushed or dissolved as well, in which case Iran would still retain its advantageous position in Iraq. But if the perfect storm presents itself, with Iran increasing its influence in Iraq and massive destabilization on the Arabian Peninsula, then the United States will face some extraordinarily difficult and dangerous choices, beginning with the question of how to resist Iran while keeping the price of oil manageable.

Bahrain and the Battle Between Iran and Saudi Arabia is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Pakistani Intelligence and the CIA: Mutual Distrust and Suspicion

By Scott Stewart

On March 1, U.S. diplomatic sources reportedly told Dawn News that a proposed exchange with the Pakistani government of U.S. citizen Raymond Davis for Pakistani citizen Aafia Siddiqui was not going to happen. Davis is a contract security officer working for the CIA who was arrested by Pakistani police on Jan. 27 following an incident in which he shot two men who reportedly pointed a pistol at him in an apparent robbery attempt. Siddiqui was arrested by the Afghan National Police in Afghanistan in 2008 on suspicion of being linked to al Qaeda.

During Siddiqui’s interrogation at a police station, she reportedly grabbed a weapon from one of her interrogators and opened fire on the American team sent to debrief her. Siddiqui was wounded in the exchange of fire and taken to Bagram air base for treatment. After her recovery, she was transported to the United States and charged in U.S. District Court in New York with armed assault and the attempted murder of U.S. government employees. Siddiqui was convicted in February 2010 and sentenced in September 2010 to 86 years in prison.

Given the differences in circumstances between these two cases, it is not difficult to see why the U.S. government would not agree to such an exchange. Siddique had been arrested by the local authorities and was being questioned, while Davis was accosted on the street by armed men and thought he was being robbed. His case has served to exacerbate a growing rift between the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI).

Pakistan has proved to be a very dangerous country for both ISI and CIA officers. Because of this environment, it is necessary for intelligence officers to have security — especially when they are conducting meetings with terrorist sources — and for security officers to protect American officials. Due to the heavy security demands in high-threat countries like Pakistan, the U.S. government has been forced to rely on contract security officers like Davis. It is important to recognize, however, that the Davis case is not really the cause of the current tensions between the Americans and Pakistanis. There are far deeper issues causing the rift.

Operating in Pakistan

Pakistan has been a very dangerous place for American diplomats and intelligence officers for many years now. Since September 2001 there have been 13 attacks against U.S. diplomatic missions and motorcades as well as hotels and restaurants frequented by Americans who were in Pakistan on official business. Militants responsible for the attack on the Islamabad Marriott in September 2008 referred to the hotel as a “nest of spies.” At least 10 Americans in Pakistan on official business have been killed as a result of these attacks, and many more have been wounded.

Militants in Pakistan have also specifically targeted the CIA. This was clearly illustrated by a December 2009 attack against the CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, in which the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), led by Hakeemullah Mehsud, used a Jordanian suicide operative to devastating effect. The CIA thought the operative had been turned and was working for Jordanian intelligence to collect intelligence on al Qaeda leaders hiding in Pakistan. The attack killed four CIA officers and three CIA security contractors. Additionally, in March 2008, four FBI special agents were injured in a bomb attack as they ate at an Italian restaurant in Islamabad.

Pakistani intelligence and security agencies have been targeted with far more vigor than the Americans. This is due not only to the fact that they are seen as cooperating with the United States but also because there are more of them and their facilities are relatively soft targets compared to U.S. diplomatic facilities in Pakistan. Militants have conducted dozens of major attacks directed against Pakistani security and intelligence targets such as the headquarters of the Pakistani army in Rawalpindi, the ISI provincial headquarters in Lahore and the Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) and police academies in Lahore.

In addition to these high-profile attacks against facilities, scores of military officers, frontier corps officers, ISI officers, senior policemen and FIA agents have been assassinated. Other government figures have also been targeted for assassination. As this analysis was being written, the Pakistani minorities minister was assassinated near his Islamabad home.

Because of this dangerous security environment, it is not at all surprising that American government officials living and working in Pakistan are provided with enhanced security to keep them safe. And enhanced security measures require a lot of security officers, especially when you have a large number of American officials traveling away from secure facilities to attend meetings and other functions. This demand for security officers is even greater when enhanced security is required in several countries at the same time and for a prolonged period of time.

This is what is happening today in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The demand for protective officers has far surpassed the personnel available to the organizations that provide security for American officials such as the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and the CIA’s Office of Security. In order to provide adequate security for American officials in high-threat posts, these agencies have had to rely on contractors provided by large companies like Blackwater/Xe, Dyncorp and Triple Canopy and on individual contract security officers hired on personal-services contracts. This reliance on security contractors has been building over the past several years and is now a fact of life at many U.S. embassies.

Using contract security officers allows these agencies not only to quickly ramp up their capabilities without actually increasing their authorized headcount but also to quickly cut personnel when they hit the next lull in the security-funding cycle. It is far easier to terminate contractors than it is to fire full-time government employees.

CIA Operations in Pakistan

There is another factor at play: demographics. Most CIA case officers (like most foreign-service officers) are Caucasian products of very good universities. They tend to look like Bob Baer and Valerie Plame. They stick out when they walk down the street in places like Peshawar or Lahore. They do not blend into the crowd, are easily identified by hostile surveillance and are therefore vulnerable to attack. Because of this, they need trained professional security officers to watch out for them and keep them safe.

This is doubly true if the case officer is meeting with a source who has terrorist connections. As seen in the Khost attack discussed above, and reinforced by scores of incidents over the years, such sources can be treacherous and meeting such people can be highly dangerous. As a result, it is pretty much standard procedure for any intelligence officer meeting a terrorism source to have heavy security for the meeting. Even FBI and British MI5 officers meeting terrorism sources domestically employ heavy security for such meetings because of the potential danger to the agents.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the primary intelligence collection requirement for every CIA station and base in the world has been to hunt down Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda leadership. This requirement has been emphasized even more for the CIA officers stationed in Pakistan, the country where bin Laden and company are believed to be hiding. This emphasis was redoubled with the change of U.S. administrations and President Barack Obama’s renewed focus on Pakistan and eliminating the al Qaeda leadership. The Obama administration’s approach of dramatically increasing strikes with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) required an increase in targeting intelligence, which comes mostly from human sources and not signals intelligence or imagery. Identifying and tracking an al Qaeda suspect amid the hostile population and unforgiving terrain of the Pakistani badlands also requires human sources to direct intelligence assets toward a target.

This increased human intelligence-gathering effort inside Pakistan has created friction between the CIA and the ISI. First, it is highly likely that much of the intelligence used to target militants with UAV strikes in the badlands comes from the ISI — especially intelligence pertaining to militant groups like the TTP that have attacked the ISI and the Pakistani government itself (though, as would be expected, the CIA is doing its best to develop independent sources as well). The ISI has a great deal to gain by strikes against groups it sees as posing a threat to Pakistan, and the fact that the U.S. government is conducting such strikes provides the ISI a degree of plausible deniability and political cover.

However, it is well known that the ISI has long had ties to militant groups. The ISI’s fostering of surrogate militants to serve its strategic interests in Kashmir and Afghanistan played a critical role in the rise of transnational jihadism (and this was even aided with U.S. funding in some cases). Indeed, as we’ve previously discussed, the ISI would like to retain control of its militant proxies in Afghanistan to ensure that Pakistan does not end up with a hostile regime in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal from the country. This is quite a rational desire when one considers Pakistan’s geopolitical situation.

Because of this, the ISI has been playing a kind of a double game with the CIA. It has been forthcoming with intelligence pertaining to militants it views as threats to the Pakistani regime while refusing to share information pertaining to groups it hopes to use as levers in Afghanistan (or against India). Of course, the ability of the ISI to control these groups and not get burned by them again is very much a subject of debate, but at least some ISI leaders appear to believe they can keep at least some of their surrogate militants under control.

There are many in Washington who believe the ISI knows the location of high-value al Qaeda targets and senior members of organizations like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, which are responsible for many of the attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. This belief that the ISI is holding back intelligence compels the CIA to run unilateral intelligence operations (meaning operations it does not tell the ISI about). Many of these unilateral operations likely involve the recruitment of Pakistani government officials, including members of the ISI. Naturally, the ISI is not happy with these intelligence operations, and the result is the mistrust and tension we see between the ISI and the CIA.

It is important to remember that in the intelligence world there is no such thing as a friendly intelligence service. While services will cooperate on issues of mutual interest, they will always serve their own national interests first, even when that places them at odds with an intelligence service they are coordinating with.

Such competing national interests are at the heart of the current tension between the CIA and the ISI. At present, the CIA is fixated on finding and destroying the last vestiges of al Qaeda and crippling militant groups in Pakistan that are attacking U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Americans can always leave Afghanistan; if anarchy and chaos take hold there, it is not likely have a huge impact on the United States. However, the ISI knows that after the United States withdraws from Afghanistan it will be stuck with the problem of Afghanistan. It is on the ISI’s doorstep, and it does not have the luxury of being able to withdraw from the region and the conflict. The ISI believes that it will be left to deal with the mess created by the United States. It is in Pakistan’s national interest to try to control the shape of Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal, and that means using militant proxies like Pakistan did after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.

This struggle between the CIA and ISI is a conundrum rooted in the conflict between the vital interests of two nations and it will not be solved easily. While the struggle has been brought to the public’s attention by the Davis case, this case is really just a minor symptom of a far deeper conflict.

Pakistani Intelligence and the CIA: Mutual Distrust and Suspicion is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Palestinian Refugees Are Neither

It is high time that people learn the truth about the Israeli-“Palestinian” situation. For decades, we have been hearing about the sad plight of the Palestinian “refugees”. It is as if hundreds of thousands of people were kicked out of Palestine and forced to live like animals for generations! Of course, this is the story that you hear from the Muslims, and the story that the main stream media (read left) wants you to believe. But, they don’t tell you that there never was a country named Palestine, and a huge percentage of the people who left their homes in 1948 left voluntarily, encouraged by their Muslim leaders. Furthermore, those people who left their homes voluntarily were often discouraged from returning after the 1948 war by their Islamist leaders, so as not to legitimize the new state of Israel. Yes, some people were forcibly removed, but that was because they went to war against the new country and government of Israel. From listening to the press and the propaganda, you would think that the Israelis just kicked virtually every Arab Muslim out of Israel after the state of Israel was formed in 1948. This narrative conveniently forgets to mention that on the day that the British Mandate known as Palestine was to be divided into two new countries, one Jewish and one Muslim, but both basically secular and offering freedom of religion to all inhabitants,  many Arab Muslims did the only things that Arab Muslims seem to excel at; they went to war. Why? Because, as Muslims, they simply could not, and will not, live in a nation that is not entirely Muslim and governed by Sharia law. (Unless forced to do so by strong-armed dictators like Sadam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, and others. Remember this as you hear the Muslim street protesting currently for “democracy”. Muslims are incapable of what the West thinks of as democracy. Their idea of democracy is an Islamis state governed by Sharia law.)

As the Koran says: “Make war on the infidels living in your neighborhood.” Koran 9:123

This pretty much would preclude Muslims living peacefully among non-Muslims. Another verse is a bit more explicit.

“Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Qur’an.” Koran 8:12

One of the most well known Koranic experts, and the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb, succinctly described how Muslims cannot live in the presence of non-Muslims, and cannot cooperate with them or their secular governments and democracy, which is a concept that is not recognized or allowed under Islam. (Jahiliiyya refers to “ignorance of divine guidance”; in other words, non-Muslims.)

It is not the function of Islam to compromise with the concepts of Jahiliyya which are current in the world or to co-exist in the same land together with a jahili system. This was not the case when it first appeared in the world, nor will it be today or in the future. Jahiliyyah, to whatever period it belongs, is Jahiliyyah; that is, deviation from the worship of One Allah and the way of life prescribed by Allah.
It derives its system and laws and regulations and habits and standards and values from a source other than Allah. On the other hand, Islam is submission to Allah, and its function is to bring people away from Jahiliyyah towards Islam. Jahiliyyah is the worship of some people by others; that is to say, some people become dominant and make laws for others, regardless of whether these laws are against Allah’s injunctions and without caring for the use or misuse of their authority.
Islam, on the other hand, is people’s worshipping Allah alone, and deriving concepts and beliefs, laws and regulations from the authority of Allah, and freeing themselves from the servitude to Allah’s servants. This is the very nature of Islam and the nature of its role on earth.
Islam cannot accept any mixing with Jahiliyyah. Either Islam will remain, or Jahiliyyah; no half-half situation is possible. Command belongs to Allah, or otherwise to Jahiliyyah; Allah’s Shari’ah will prevail, or else people’s desires: “And if they do not respond to you, then know that they only follow their own lusts. And who is more astray than one who follows his own lusts, without guidance from Allah? Verily! Allah guides not the people who are disobedient.”[28:50]; “Do they then seek the judgement of (the Days of) Ignorance? And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm faith”[5:50].
The foremost duty of Islam is to depose Jahiliyyah from the leadership of man, with the intention of raising human beings to that high position which Allah has chosen for him. This purpose is explained by Raba’i Bin ‘Amer, when he replied to the Commander in Chief of the Persian army, Rustum. Rustum asked, “For what purpose have you come?” Raba’i answered,” Allah has sent us to bring anyone who wishes from servitude to men into the service of Allah alone, from the narrowness of this world into the vastness of this world and the Hereafter, from the tyranny of religions into the justice of Islam.”

The important thing to remember about all of this is that UN Resolution 181 was to take the British Mandate known as Palestine and divide it into a two state solution in 1948. According to the resolution, the British were to depart by August 1, 1948, and two new, independent states were to be in place by October 1, 1948. While this plan was accepted by the Jewish authorities, it was, of course, rejected by the Arabs. The following map shows the partitioning as it was envisioned by the United Nations.

So, just as today, the Arab Muslims rejected a two-state solution.

The British announced the end of the Mandate and their last high commissioner left the territory on May 14, 1948. On May 15, the Arab Muslims entered the territory from the surrounding countries and attacked. Also on that day, the new state of Israel was declared, albeit with unspecified borders.

After the war ended, and many of the refugees (at the time) could have returned, they were encouraged to not return.

…..Many of the camp’s approximately 20,000 residents are the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of the Arab citizens of Jaffa who fled their homes in early 1948.
For half a century, the United Nations has administered Balata as a quasi-apartheid welfare ghetto. The Palestinian Authority does not consider the residents of Balata citizens of Palestine; they do not vote on municipal issues, and they receive no PA funding for roads or sanitation. The refugee children—though after 60 years, calling young children “refugees” is absurd—go to separate schools run by UNRWA, the UN’s refugee-relief agency. The “refugees” are crammed into an area of approximately one square kilometer, and municipal officials prohibit them from building outside the camp’s official boundaries, making living conditions ever more cramped as the camp’s population grows. In a building called the Jaffa Cultural Center—financed by the UN, which means our tax dollars—Balata’s young people are undoubtedly nurtured on the myth that someday soon they will return in triumph to their ancestors’ homes by the Mediterranean Sea.
In Balata, history has come full circle. During the 1948 war, Palestinian leaders like Haj Amin al-Husseini insisted that the Arab citizens of Haifa and Jaffa had to leave, lest they help legitimize the Jewish state. Now, the descendants of those citizens are locked up in places like Balata and prohibited from resettling in the Palestinian-administered West Bank—again, lest they help legitimize the Jewish state, this time by removing the Palestinians’ chief complaint. Yet there is a certain perverse logic at work here. For if Israel and the Palestinians ever managed to hammer out the draft of a peace treaty, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, would have to go to Balata and explain to its residents that their leaders have been lying to them for 60 years and that they are not going back to Jaffa. Which, to state the obvious again, is one of the main reasons that there has been no peace treaty.

Another fact of the matter is that after 2 or 3 generations, you are not a “refugee”. You live where you live, and you certainly have no “right of return”. That would be like saying that if an Italian family moves to the United States, and a child or grandchild of that family who was born in the United States and grew up in the United States, decides he wants to move back to Italy, that he has a “right of return”. No sane person would make that claim. But, the “Palestinians” persist in that twisted logic. Instead, they choose to live in squalor and complain loudly about the “right to return”, while the useful idiots of the left rail against Israel.

The simple truth about the Israeli-Palestinian situation is that Arab Muslims simply cannot tolerate living with non-Muslims, and they cannot tolerate seeing land were they feel they should be able to subjugate non-Muslims slip from their control. Islam teaches that once a land is conquered by the sword, which has always been the primary means of spreading Islam, it can never revert back to non-Muslims. This was the case in 1948. This is the case in 2011. As Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan stated in reference to the term “moderate Islam“: “These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”

So, there you have it from the Prime minister of a Muslim nation. Islam is Islam. Until that changes, there will be no peace in the Middle East.

The Sooner We Disarm, Isolate, and Abandon Pakistan The Better

Pakistan is clearly not our friend. They are obviously not devoted to actually eliminating terrorism. It is an Islamist country, dominated by barbaric cretins that worship and adore a 7th century insane, epileptic, barbarian, pedophile who was named Mohammad. Rather than embracing the 21st century, the people in Pakistan seem to be moving backward in a time machine. As time goes on, they embrace and implement the barbarity of Sharia to a more and more frightening degree.

Just today, the only Christian minister in Pakistan’s government was shot to death by Taliban gunmen  in Islamabad, Pakistan. His “crime”? Blasphemy.

And, this is not the only cold blooded murder for “blasphemy” this year in Pakistan. The Governor of Punjab Province Salmon Taseer was murdered by his own bodyguard because he was upset that Taseer opposed the blasphemy law.

The Taseer killing terrified those in Pakistan who are secular-minded or liberal, but it also drew wide praise among many ordinary Pakistani. Analysts said the reaction was a sign of the growing radicalization of the Muslim public.

Mr Bhatti had been campaigning to reform the Pakistan’s notoriously strict blasphemy laws, which most recently were used against Asia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced to death for “insulting” Islam.

Mrs Bibi says the allegation was invented by a neighbour to settle a score, a common complaint about the blasphemy law, and she is now in hiding. Although no one has ever been executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, as many as 10 people are thought to have been murdered while on trial.

Honestly, do we really need to be dealing with this country? And, remember, many Americans have traveled recently to Pakistan to train for Jihad, including Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to blow up a truck bomb in Times Square in New York City. Born in Pakistan, Shahzad had just received his American citizenship before he traveled to Pakistan to be instructed by the Taliban.

He admitted that the Pakistan Taliban provided him with more than $15,000 and five days of explosives training late last year and early this year, months after he became a U.S. citizen.

For greatest impact, he chose a crowded section of the city by studying an online streaming video of Times Square, the so-called Crossroads of the World, prosecutors said.

On May 1, he lit the fuse of his crude, homemade bomb packed in a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, then fled on foot, pausing along the way to listen for the explosion that never came, court papers said.

He was not only not repentant about what he had done, but quite proud of himself and obviously would do it all over, if he could.

At sentencing, Shahzad claimed the FBI’s interrogation had violated his rights. He also warned that attacks on Americans will continue until the United States leaves Muslim lands.

“We are only Muslims … but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorizing you,” he said.

He added: “We do not accept your democracy or your freedom because we already have Sharia law and freedom.”

The minds of these people is so polluted with the Islamic brainwashing that they have endured since their birth that there is probably no hope for rehabilitating them. All we can do is keep them out of the country. Additionally, we should install a travel ban against Pakistan. Lets face it; unless you are a jihadist in training, there is little reason to go to Pakistan. And, unless you are an actual jihadi, there is little reason for a Pakistani to visit the United States.

As further evidence of the sickness of their “civilization” and as an indication of the brainwashing of the children, this video was recently published. It shows Pakistani children pretending to be suicide bombers!

And, remember, these wackjobs are known to have nuclear weapons. (I am pretty sure that Iran has a few, too, but we know for a fact that Pakistan has about 100 nuclear devices.) They clearly are not competent to have these weapons, and they must be disarmed. Otherwise, when a nuclear device eventually blows up on American soil, you can be almost certain that the return address will be Pakistan.

Never Fight A Land War In Asia

By George Friedman

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at West Point, said last week that “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.” In saying this, Gates was repeating a dictum laid down by Douglas MacArthur after the Korean War, who urged the United States to avoid land wars in Asia. Given that the United States has fought four major land wars in Asia since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq — none of which had ideal outcomes, it is useful to ask three questions: First, why is fighting a land war in Asia a bad idea? Second, why does the United States seem compelled to fight these wars? And third, what is the alternative that protects U.S. interests in Asia without large-scale military land wars?

The Hindrances of Overseas Wars

Let’s begin with the first question, the answer to which is rooted in demographics and space. The population of Iraq is currently about 32 million. Afghanistan has a population of less than 30 million. The U.S. military, all told, consists of about 1.5 million active-duty personnel (plus 980,000 in the reserves), of whom more than 550,000 belong to the Army and about 200,000 are part of the Marine Corps. Given this, it is important to note that the United States strains to deploy about 200,000 troops at any one time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that many of these troops are in support rather than combat roles. The same was true in Vietnam, where the United States was challenged to field a maximum of about 550,000 troops (in a country much more populous than Iraq or Afghanistan) despite conscription and a larger standing army. Indeed, the same problem existed in World War II.

When the United States fights in the Eastern Hemisphere, it fights at great distances, and the greater the distance, the greater the logistical cost. More ships are needed to deliver the same amount of materiel, for example. That absorbs many troops. The logistical cost of fighting at a distance is that it diverts numbers of troops (or requires numbers of civilian personnel) disproportionate to the size of the combat force.

Regardless of the number of troops deployed, the U.S. military is always vastly outnumbered by the populations of the countries to which it is deployed. If parts of these populations resist as light-infantry guerrilla forces or employ terrorist tactics, the enemy rapidly swells to a size that can outnumber U.S. forces, as in Vietnam and Korea. At the same time, the enemy adopts strategies to take advantage of the core weakness of the United States — tactical intelligence. The resistance is fighting at home. It understands the terrain and the culture. The United States is fighting in an alien environment. It is constantly at an intelligence disadvantage. That means that the effectiveness of the native forces is multiplied by excellent intelligence, while the effectiveness of U.S. forces is divided by lack of intelligence.

The United States compensates with technology, from space-based reconnaissance and air power to counter-battery systems and advanced communications. This can make up the deficit but only by massive diversions of manpower from ground-combat operations. Maintaining a helicopter requires dozens of ground-crew personnel. Where the enemy operates with minimal technology multiplied by intelligence, the United States compensates for lack of intelligence with massive technology that further reduces available combat personnel. Between logistics and technological force multipliers, the U.S. “point of the spear” shrinks. If you add the need to train, relieve, rest and recuperate the ground-combat forces, you are left with a small percentage available to fight.

The paradox of this is that American forces will win the engagements but may still lose the war. Having identified the enemy, the United States can overwhelm it with firepower. The problem the United States has is finding the enemy and distinguishing it from the general population. As a result, the United States is well-suited for the initial phases of combat, when the task is to defeat a conventional force. But after the conventional force has been defeated, the resistance can switch to methods difficult for American intelligence to deal with. The enemy can then control the tempo of operations by declining combat where it is at a disadvantage and initiating combat when it chooses.

The example of the capitulation of Germany and Japan in World War II is frequently cited as a model of U.S. forces defeating and pacifying an opposing nation. But the Germans were not defeated primarily by U.S. ground troops. The back of the Wehrmacht was broken by the Soviets on their own soil with the logistical advantages of short supply lines. And, of course, Britain and numerous other countries were involved. It is doubtful that the Germans would have capitulated to the Americans alone. The force the United States deployed was insufficient to defeat Germany. The Germans had no appetite for continuing a resistance against the Russians and saw surrendering to the Americans and British as sanctuary from the Russians. They weren’t going to resist them. As for Japan, it was not ground forces but air power, submarine warfare and atomic bombs that finished them — and the emperor’s willingness to order a surrender. It was not land power that prevented resistance but air and sea power, plus a political compromise by MacArthur in retaining and using the emperor. Had the Japanese emperor been removed, I suspect that the occupation of Japan would have been much more costly. Neither Germany nor Japan are examples in which U.S. land forces compelled capitulation and suppressed resistance.

The problem the United States has in the Eastern Hemisphere is that the size of the force needed to occupy a country initially is much smaller than the force needed to pacify the country. The force available for pacification is much smaller than needed because the force the United States can deploy demographically without committing to total war is simply too small to do the job — and the size needed to do the job is unknown.

U.S. Global Interests

The deeper problem is this: The United States has global interests. While the Soviet Union was the primary focus of the United States during the Cold War, no power threatens to dominate Eurasia now, and therefore no threat justifies the singular focus of the United States. In time of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States must still retain a strategic reserve for other unanticipated contingencies. This further reduces the available force for combat.

Some people argue that the United States is insufficiently ruthless in prosecuting war, as if it would be more successful without political restraints at home. The Soviets and the Nazis, neither noted for gentleness, were unable to destroy the partisans behind German lines or the Yugoslav resistance, in spite of brutal tactics. The guerrilla has built-in advantages in warfare for which brutality cannot compensate.

Given all this, the question is why the United States has gotten involved in wars in Eurasia four times since World War II. In each case it is obvious: for political reasons. In Korea and Vietnam, it was to demonstrate to doubting allies that the United States had the will to resist the Soviets. In Afghanistan, it was to uproot al Qaeda. In Iraq, the reasons are murkier, more complex and less convincing, but the United States ultimately went in, in my opinion, to convince the Islamic world of American will.

The United States has tried to shape events in the Eastern Hemisphere by the direct application of land power. In Korea and Vietnam, it was trying to demonstrate resolve against Soviet and Chinese power. In Afghanistan and Iraq, it was trying to shape the politics of the Muslim world. The goal was understandable but the amount of ground force available was not. In Korea, it resulted in stalemate; in Vietnam, defeat. We await the outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan, but given Gates’ statement, the situation for the United States is not necessarily hopeful.

In each case, the military was given an ambiguous mission. This was because a clear outcome — defeating the enemy — was unattainable. At the same time, there were political interests in each. Having engaged, simply leaving did not seem an option. Therefore, Korea turned into an extended presence in a near-combat posture, Vietnam ended in defeat for the American side, and Iraq and Afghanistan have turned, for the time being, into an uncertain muddle that no reasonable person expects to end with the declared goals of a freed and democratic pair of countries.

Problems of Strategy

There are two problems with American strategy. The first is using the appropriate force for the political mission. This is not a question so much of the force as it is of the mission. The use of military force requires clarity of purpose; otherwise, a coherent strategy cannot emerge. Moreover, it requires an offensive mission. Defensive missions (such as Vietnam and Korea) by definition have no terminal point or any criteria for victory. Given the limited availability of ground combat forces, defensive missions allow the enemy’s level of effort to determine the size of the force inserted, and if the force is insufficient to achieve the mission, the result is indefinite deployment of scarce forces.

Then there are missions with clear goals initially but without an understanding of how to deal with Act II. Iraq suffered from an offensive intention ill suited to the enemy’s response. Having destroyed the conventional forces of Iraq, the United States was unprepared for the Iraqi response, which was guerrilla resistance on a wide scale. The same was true in Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency is occupation warfare. It is the need to render a population — rather than an army — unwilling and incapable of resisting. It requires vast resources and large numbers of troops that outstrip the interest. Low-cost counter-insurgency with insufficient forces will always fail. Since the United States uses limited forces because it has to, counterinsurgency is the most dangerous kind of war for the United States. The idea has always been that the people prefer the U.S. occupation to the threats posed by their fellow countrymen and that the United States can protect those who genuinely do prefer the former. That may be the idea, but there is never enough U.S. force available.

Another model for dealing with the problem of shaping political realities can be seen in the Iran-Iraq war. In that war, the United States allowed the mutual distrust of the two countries to eliminate the threats posed by both. When the Iraqis responded by invading Kuwait, the United States responded with a massive counter with very limited ends — the reconquest of Kuwait and the withdrawal of forces. It was a land war in Asia designed to defeat a known and finite enemy army without any attempt at occupation.

The problem with all four wars is that they were not wars in a conventional sense and did not use the military as militaries are supposed to be used. The purpose of a military is to defeat enemy conventional forces. As an army of occupation against a hostile population, military forces are relatively weak. The problem for the United States is that such an army must occupy a country for a long time, and the U.S. military simply lacks the ground forces needed to occupy countries and still be available to deal with other threats.

By having an unclear mission, you have an uncertain terminal point. When does it end? You then wind up with a political problem internationally — having engaged in the war, you have allies inside and outside of the country that have fought with you and taken risks with you. Withdrawal leaves them exposed, and potential allies will be cautious in joining with you in another war. The political costs spiral and the decision to disengage is postponed. The United States winds up in the worst of all worlds. It terminates not on its own but when its position becomes untenable, as in Vietnam. This pyramids the political costs dramatically.

Wars need to be fought with ends that can be achieved by the forces available. Donald Rumsfeld once said, “You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” I think that is a fundamental misunderstanding of war. You do not engage in war if the army you have is insufficient. When you understand the foundations of American military capability and its limits in Eurasia, Gates’ view on war in the Eastern Hemisphere is far more sound than Rumsfeld’s.

The Diplomatic Alternative

The alternative is diplomacy, not understood as an alternative to war but as another tool in statecraft alongside war. Diplomacy can find the common ground between nations. It can also be used to identify the hostility of nations and use that hostility to insulate the United States by diverting the attention of other nations from challenging the United States. That is what happened during the Iran-Iraq war. It wasn’t pretty, but neither was the alternative.

Diplomacy for the United States is about maintaining the balance of power and using and diverting conflict to manage the international system. Force is the last resort, and when it is used, it must be devastating. The argument I have made, and which I think Gates is asserting, is that at a distance, the United States cannot be devastating in wars dependent on land power. That is the weakest aspect of American international power and the one the United States has resorted to all too often since World War II, with unacceptable results. Using U.S. land power as part of a combined arms strategy is occasionally effective in defeating conventional forces, as it was with North Korea (and not China) but is inadequate to the demands of occupation warfare. It makes too few troops available for success, and it does not know how many troops might be needed.

This is not a policy failure of any particular U.S. president. George W. Bush and Barack Obama have encountered precisely the same problem, which is that the forces that have existed in Eurasia, from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Korea to the Taliban in Afghanistan, have either been too numerous or too agile (or both) for U.S. ground forces to deal with. In any war, the primary goal is not to be defeated. An elective war in which the criteria for success are unclear and for which the amount of land force is insufficient must be avoided. That is Gates’ message. It is the same one MacArthur delivered, and the one Dwight Eisenhower exercised when he refused to intervene in Vietnam on France’s behalf. As with the Monroe Doctrine, it should be elevated to a principle of U.S. foreign policy, not because it is a moral principle but because it is a very practical one.

Never Fight a Land War in Asia is republished with permission of STRATFOR.