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Revisiting Colonel Kurtz; applying the 'Pollard Test' to Muslims


With Londonistan in mind, a colleague asked in reference to my indictment of scenario planning, what interdiction strategy would I pursue. (See The danger of confusing terrorist interdiction with the consequences of terrorist action.)   My reply was "Classic counterterrorism, which we are not practicing, and a sound understanding of asymmetrical warfare, which few have, is the solution to the false god of scenario building.  We learn it, have learned it, in small groups, but just as with Deming and his Theory of Profound Knowledge in the quality sphere, we have absolutely not learned it at a broad managerial and operations level.  I despair that our suffering will continue by virtue of this lapse."

I noted that I was indirectly pointing to a solution as I was citing two sets of unclass discussions on threat assessment, asset assessment, vulnerability assessment, and risk assessment that are at the core of an interdiction process regardless of whether it is counterterrorism (CT) or Intellectual Property (IP) theft.  In a follow-on note to my colleague, I added, "This will not amuse you, but it is both my experience and my reading that understanding asymmetrical warfare at a reflexive, muscle memory level is virtually a wholesale wiring change for a superpower accustomed to, say, fighting massed tank battles on the German plains under air power cover.  It is the less powerful player, such as the Chinese and the Iraqi nationalist insurgents, that take it to heart as it is the only means by which they can survive, much less prosper."

As to his question of what to do in Europe, I replied that the options are so vast depending on the option set shared by all parties, the added options assumed on a state by state basis, the holes created by one state that affect others (example close to home: the US will not/can not clamp down on the major neo-Nazi sites that are largely quartered in the US but affect Germany), that it is beyond the scope of a weblog entry to capture.

Our discussion migrated to the varying degrees of cruelty employed in the strategies of each side, and before continuing I would recommend readers to look at Gresham's Law of Competitive Behavior for what I would expect to be a downward spiral. I submit that Musab Al Zaquari has already reached the position of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now:
I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God... the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us.

The question is, do we have to get there, and if so, where and how often. I am familiar with the effects on villagers of the equivalent of piles of recently vaccinated arms. The VC/NVA/Khymer Rouge along with assorted African tribes have carried out interventions that we would call horrific, what they would call effective, in order to separate the populace from any form of cooperation with US/UN/external forces. Even passive cooperation was discouraged as they rightly saw them as a CBM (Confidence Building Measure) that would lead to more CBMs and then to bilateral cooperation. Our dilemma is that we are seeing this happen in Iraq where radicalized Islamics are already operating in Kurtz mode while we in the west, for the most part, are trying to hold to another standard that Gresham's Law of Competitive Behavior will make increasingly difficult to sustain. Getting there is all to easy. It is the getting back that is difficult.

As Londonistan was being written it was becoming clear that the perps were UK nationals or what the British call "clean skins," those with no criminal record or known connections to militants. The anguish of the UK's Muslim community not withstanding, it is my opinion that this domestic constituency requires the Islamic equivalent of what I call the Pollard Test.

The Pollard Test is my loyalty litmus test for Jewish Americans: If you feel that what Jonathon Pollard did was justified in any manner, then you are a security risk to the US. Full stop. For those of you unfamiliar with this aging case, this from Palmerston, interests, and forms of governance:

Israel pursues an independent diplomatic policy at odds with US interests. Israel is a modest cooperative partner in the US war against terrorism. Just as the Russians, the Pakistanis, the Chinese and others did in the post 11 September period, Israel immediately offered the US data that painted their parochial adversaries as the architect or participant of the air liner assault so that we might attack them. Each country offers or withholds information so as to advance its national interests, and attempts to influence where it cannot command. Israel is no exception and I think that it applies Palmerston better than the US.

Israel ran Jonathan Pollard, a US Navy civilian analyst, as a spy to enormous and ongoing harm to the US. Israel not only used that information to US disservice but further went on to sell or broker that information to the Russians and the Chinese, perhaps others. The impact on the US is still being felt to this day and none of the attempts of his apologist spouse, Esther, will wipe that away. The effects of Pollard's espionage is so great that Director CIA threatened to resign if Clinton pardoned Pollard. (If a US national has strong loyalties, be it religious, tribal, cultural or geographic, that work to the detriment of US interests, then I am also at odds with them.)

Israel is not a devoted friend of the US and it has nothing to do with religion or its democratic governance. (We forget that France was the principal post-partition mentor of Israel before the US.) It is a nation state acting in its best interests, some of which correspond to our own.

I've had the pain of a close Jewish friend accusing me of being "anti-Israel" for this stance but it has nothing to do with Israel or that fact that the majority of its citizens are Jewish. If you are a US national, you have certain obligations to your chosen state until such time you wish to surrender your citizenship. And such divided loyalties are by no means a Jewish-American phenomenon; I have sat in Irish bars in Somerville, Massachusetts watching open solicitation for both the IRA and Sein Finn. In one of those bars, I made a bland comment as to the wisdom of this effort and of the IRA in general and was hastily extracted by an Irish-American colleague as tempers begin to flare.

Muslims, just as Jews or any other hyphenated group, must choose without equivocation or justification.

Data Shows Faster-Rising Death Toll Among Iraqi Civilians
New York Times
July 14, 2005

For Britain's Muslims, a Fear Realized
By Glenn Frankel and Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post
July 14, 2005

Police Widen Probe Of London Bombings
By Craig Whitlock and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post
July 14, 2005

Despite Terror, Europeans Seem Determined to Maintain Civil Liberties
New York Times
July 9, 2005

Gordon Housworth

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