Here, retired military intelligence officer Ralph Peters tells it like it is: Lazy journalism requires scandal. It is much easier to generate a story from what is not known than what is known. Thus, media types can turn what-ifs into headlines. The scandal that is Snowden is really only worth a few headlines. He did it, it’s a crime, he admits he did it. If the media wants to really milk this, they must talk about unknowns, possibilities, technicalities, and avoid the fact that recent court decisions have labeled NSA activities legal. Disconnected, out of context arguments can be melded into unified theorems in which black helicopters no one ever sees are hovering outside our windows hoping to catch us surfing porn.
Members of the Congressional Intelligence committee have known the details of NSA programs for years. The fake outrage they present in hearings broadcast on CSPAN is populism of the most despicable sort.
A collapsing World Trade Center rings hollow to some, as does the fact that NSA employees have bosses to answer to everyday, and those bosses want dead terrorists on their list of achievements, not the URLs of gay porn sites visited by congressmen. To people, in America, both Left and Right, there is a pervading mythology that society, security, culture and good government are held together by mysterious, invisible forces, akin to luck. That’s false. Things work because of a concerted effort to make them work. Al-Qaeda has been kept in check not because jihadists are tired, had a change of heart, or because America apologized for its “rapacious” behavior abroad. They’ve been kept in check because almost every country in the Western world seized their bank accounts, jailed its operatives, killed its zealots, increased security at airports and other vulnerable nodes, and invaded its sanctuaries.
“Because Freedom”, is not an argument. Success is rarely a mistake.
Does anyone find it the least bit troubling that Edward Snowden, hero to both the Left and Right (the Left because they see his actions as a smack to the military/intelligence industrial complex and love a good black helicopter conspiracy; the Right, because they are assured, despite the evidence, that the NSA is reading their emails and wantonly violating their 4th Amendment rights), seems to have lied about everything on his way to a job with the NSA and even after, continues to lie?
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while. I was finally spurred on by Snowden’s most recent slap in the face to America: His tongue in cheek questioning of Russian arch-villain Vladimir Putin during a game show in Russia.
The article states: Snowden asked Putin if Russia had similar surveillance programs as the United States–referring to the mass collection and storage of data from individuals around the world.
We don’t have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law, it cannot exist,” he said. “But we do not have a mass scale uncontrollable efforts like that, I hope we won’t do that and we don’t have as much money as they have in the States, and we don’t have these technical devices that they have in the States…Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law and society.
All of which of course, lies, to be sucked up by the vacuous sorts that populate today’s America. If Snowden’s appearance on a game show asking a question such as this of Putin does not offend an American, I question that person’s patriotism. If that person gives me a quote about patriotism being the last refuge of scoundrels, well, I say the first refuge of a scoundrel is cowardice masquerading as patriotism. Don’t tell me Snowden’s actions are those of a patriot.
Snowden must not care about such people as Alexander Litvinyenko, Russian defector and former FSB agent who fled to England following his accusations that the Russian government conducted a Black Flag attack against an apartment building that killed 300 Russians and that he claimed was a pretext for subsequent Russian attacks against Chechnya. In 2006, someone administered a to Litvinyenko a lethal dose of the radioactive isotope, Polonium 210. He was in Britain at the time he received the poison.
But Snowden didn’t ask Putin about this case, nor why MI6’s (Britain’s domestic intelligence service) only suspect in the murder is the deputy of the Russian state Duma, and former KGB agent Andrey Lugovoy. The British government requested extradition of Lugovoy; Russia refused.
The Russian government is well on its way to building a fascist state, and if one reads the comments posted by Americans in articles about Snowden, it’s easy to see that these Americans fully support the fascists and criminals running the show is Moscow. Putin has surrounded himself with former KGB cadre, well versed, indeed possibly the best in human history, at media manipulation, psychological operations, propaganda, and pulling the strings of foreign societies in order to steer them in a desired direction. I can see from the comments in these articles that here in America, we’ve raised a whole new generation of duped. The future seems bleak. The strength of any democracy is a strong, self-sufficient and enlightened middle class. That is crumbling before our eyes, but it’s not the financial realm that worries me.
Let me address an issue that’s been nagging me since Snowden leaked the intelligence: Few, if any, have a clear picture of what the NSA does. Snowden alleges the NSA violates constitutional rights, yet courts have not established consensus on the matter. The Supreme Court has refused to hear cases concerning NSA collection until lower courts hear the cases first. Before you waste your time worrying about what the NSA could do, worry about what other agencies can do. I know people who’ve had their entire bank accounts reduced to zero from thousands of dollars by state tax agencies for failure to pay taxes. No warrant. No trial. No face to face talks with agents of the state. Now that’s real power, not theory and conjecture. Pay your taxes. Moreover, the stories he relates are well covered in books which are years, even decades old. First, there’s The Puzzle Palace, by James Bamford. Then there’s Chatter, published in 2006 and written by Patrick Radden Keefe. I highly recommend Chatter, as it is written more recently than The Puzzle Palace. I myself can stomach Bamford only in small doses. NSA has in recent years cut off his access to interviews so now Bamford has declared war on the agency and never misses a chance to rip them ,droning on about the danger of metadata while never mentioning that virtually every major business collects metadata, and blaming NSA, not Snowden, for so much data being stolen by Snowden from NSA. Nor does Bamford’s impotent self-awareness remind him that the reams of reports he gathered from the government about NSA under the Freedom of Information Act, some which included info on himself, may be indicative that rule of law is still being observed in some branches of government. But he has to make money some how. Keefe is extremely balanced in his analysis and writes that during all of his investigations, he constantly encountered the same problem we see with the issue of Snowden: The stories and accusations were always veiled behind conspiratorial theory, not hard evidence. The NSA could read my email. The NSA may have dirt on the Supreme Court Justices, that’s why the court has refused to hear recent cases bought against the agency. Possibly, the NSA brought down David Petraeus.
Even if there are illegalities revealed by Snowden’s massive leak, Snowden had no way to know the all of the contents of the materials he leaked–there’s hundreds of thousands of documents. Oddly enough, some of the documents leaked by Snowden are actually court documents authorizing NSA activities; he probably didn’t even know they were in his leaked material, given that it’s impossible he reviewed all of it. Allowing that there may be illegalities, Snowden essentially carpet bombed and entire town to kill one terrorist. Americans simply do not understand their own laws, the legal system, or the bureaucracies of government. Of this, I am a first hand witness. how many times I’ve been told by a suspect I had in custody that I’d made a terrible mistake, because I hadn’t read them their rights. Miranda Rights, that is. They had no clue as to what those rights entailed and when they were due them. Most Americans probably couldn’t name all 50 states on a map. Because we as a people are failing, and yes the government too. And when the government of a democracy fails, we can blame the people, just as when it succeeds we can give them credit. But seeing the bogeyman in every government activity hides the reality: Government is mostly inept and inefficient, not razor sharp and ultra-capable.
Repeat this until you understand it: The NSA does not read your email, the NSA does not read your email…Unless it has a warrant based on probable cause on a foreign national. If you don’t think it’s a good idea we be able to listen in on and track people in Bangladesh plotting to blow up American airplanes and Soldiers, you’re insane, not a champion of liberty. Those who think the NSA should give up this capability basically want the NSA to give up capabilities that every other advanced nation has. And those nations don’t have nearly the number of legal protections for citizens that the US does. In other words, despite what Putin tells you, the Russian security services, the FSB, has more power in regards to Russian citizens than the NSA has ever had in regards to Americans. American intelligence spies on allies? This is news? Ancient news, yes. Written about decades ago. How can one be a whistleblower on information on which whistles were blown so long ago?
Sift through the thousands of documents on the internet, I mean documents released directly from American intelligence or State Department servers, to Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden. Find me one, just one, document that relates directly the contents of a conversation or an email from a US citizen that does not involve a foreign national. Where are Petraeus’ emails? The supreme court justices’? You’ll find generalities and inane information–because the NSA was not reading Petaeus’ email. It was the FBI, not the NSA that looked at Petraeus’ email. But any company’s network technician has the ability to mine old Outlook emails for examination. This was not hyper-advanced technology, nor was it the NSA. And the NSA is most assuredly are not reading the emails of the pimply-faced computer geek with a GED, no job, and thousands of hours logged on YouTube. But when Russia releases its own intercepts of the cell phone conversations of our ambassadors, where’s the outrage?
We’re fully hypnotized by the decades of propaganda handed us from foreign intelligence services and our own intelligentsia. The end of course, is not far off, and the self-immolation has already begun. Defected Russian agents, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and others who lived under the Soviet regime were routine agape at the credulity and instinct to self destruct in the West, the urgent desire in the West to give away everything that had been built.
But enough of this. What I really want to talk about is the trail of lies that Snowden left behind him. All through Snowden’s life and career there is evidence of his lying and fibbing to get what he wants. Some of these stories are admitted lies on his part. Others are suspicious to those who know better.
Let’s look at the questionable statements or activities by Snowden:
- It’s believed that Snowden used to post under the screen name, The TrueHOOHA on Ars Technica. On the forum at Ars Technica, Snowden, writing anonymously, says that those who leak classified information should be “shot in the balls.” He criticizes the NY Times for repeatedly running stories about leaked classified reports.
- Snowden recruited into the US Army in the 18 X program, in which people can enter the Army for Special Forces training. He did not complete the training, and was discharged. Snowden says he broke both his legs in a training accident. Sure he did.
- Snowden is obsessed with making up implausible stories. He stated that while he worked for the CIA, that the CIA got a Swiss banker drunk, and after his arrest told him that the CIA would help him if he’d cooperate in advancing American interests. Ueli Maurer, the Swiss Federal Council President says this story is dubious.
- While working as a system admin for the CIA, he was suspected of trying to access classified systems he was not authorized to view. Snowden says he was trying to report flaws in the system; again making himself out to be the hero.
- Snowden says he specifically sought employment at NSA so that he could leak intelligence. How can a person be justified in leaking when they seek to release info of which they can’t possibly know the content?
- Snowden, in a fantastically selfish act, obtained the passwords of 20-25 coworkers at NSA, telling them he needed them as part of his job as an admin. He used these passwords to obtain the classified data with which he later helped the Russians, but which harmed Americans. Snowden, again lying, says he didn’t steal passwords. Multiple reports say he did. He wants us to believe he’s a super hacker. In reality he’s a schemer who threw people he worked with under the bus to satisfy his massive ego. And he continues to lie about it.
- Apparently, Snowden was never even qualified to have the job he used to shaft America. His resume claimed he took computer classes at John Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. He claimed he was close to getting a Master’s degree. None of it was true.
But of course, Americans now obsessed with conspiracy believe what Snowden says about the NSA. They also believe what this GED-holding liar says about the Constitutionality of it all, as if he’s now not only a master spy, but a legal expert. Snowden, like Putin, masterfully plays to the psychic infantalism so common in America, particularly on the internet and in the minds of those who favor Ron Paul.
“This is not gonna stop. It keeps going on and on.” ~Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction.
Since junior high school, I’ve been a semi-regular chess player. In high school I was on the chess club for two years. I had absolutely no formal instruction, just as with virtually every other skill (or obsession) I have.
I believe I am afflicted with what I call multi-monomania. A monomania is an obsession with a singular activity. A monomaniacal person is otherwise sane, though his or her obsession can appear odd to persons not so afflicted. I say that I am multi-monomaniacal because I go through phases of being obsessed with singular activities, but the obsession rarely lasts for very long, with a few exceptions. In the past, my monomania has manifested itself in softball, weightlifting, writing, fencing, pistol shooting, and chess. I’m sure I’m missing a few things.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell writes about the “10,000 hour-rule”. This rule is based upon the studies of Anders Ericcson, and professor at the Florida State University who found that what separated elite violinists from the merely exceptional was the number of hours they’d dedicated to practice. The elites got in 10,ooo hours while the could-have-beens logged 8,000 on average. Gladwell goes on to document how some very well-known people’s life circumstances enabled them to log 10,000 hours of study and practice in their chosen field, while some other people’s lives, due to environmental circumstances, make it nearly impossible for them to discover or use innate talents.
Gladwell does not dismiss talent. He merely states that past a certain point, say IQ or less concrete measurements of ability, opportunity matters more. He says that somewhere after an IQ of 120, the level of intelligence it takes to be a very successful college student, time, opportunity and hard work begin to make the biggest difference.
We have a love/hate relationship with the geniuses of the world. At once we want to believe that there are people born special and yet we despise the thought because this would mean that most of us could never achieve spectacular results. But I am now suspicious of the term genius and what it means. In fact, I believe most geniuses are merely monomaniacs. Take Mozart for example, whom people often remember for his childhood genius. After all, he wrote music at a very young age. But as Gladwell points out, young Mozart’s music was terrible by any measure. Mozart’s obsession, not merely innate genius, drove him to practice for thousands of hours, and thus become a legend. Eddie Van Halen would walk around his house as a kid, with his guitar strapped on, playing all day long. He locked himself in his room, stalking his obsession.
Obsession is underrated. When I was younger, I became obsessed with men’s league, slow-pitch softball. I know this seems a strange obsession, but the sport is very popular, involving thousands of people in various cities around the nation. I first began playing at around the age of 17, playing with grown men who were much bigger and stronger. I’d always been a good athlete, and had a lot of power hitting a baseball. But softball required that the power come entirely from the hitter; the ball simply didn’t come in fast enough to bounce off a bat with significant force. I wanted to hit home runs, to hit for power. One guy on that team told me: “Doug, you’re not gonna be able to hit home runs.” I knew he was wrong. I was small, 160 lbs maybe. 5’8″. But I had the power of obsession. I had a hand-eye talent. I put the two together. I would practice for hours, hitting. A couple of friends and I would go to a field and pitch balls to each other, entire days spent swinging a bat. Lunacy. I jumped in on every game I could. I started lifting weights to increase my power. Several years later, I was the cleanup hitter on a state championship team.
Another obsession was weightlifting. I saw its power to increase athletic performance when it came to softball. Why not see what kind of limits I could push? I bought Pavel Tsatsouline’s, Power to the People. In the book, Tsatsouline outlines a simple plan to gain strength: Practice often on a small set of lifts, namely the deadlift and the side press. Tsatsouline’s premise is that if you treat weight lifting like training a skill, you’ll consistently get better. He is right.
A miracle ensued. About 3 years after buying the book, I deadlifted 485 lbs with only a weight belt, and drug-free. The lift was video taped in the basement of the police department I worked in. At my body weight of under 180 lbs, a 485 lb deadlift would have been enough to win a state championship.
At some point I also became obsessed with fencing. Yes, a weightlifter wanted to jump around in white tights. I won the first tournament I entered, amateur class (less than two years experience).
Then there’s chess, at random intervals through my life. As a kid, I was mildly obsessed, but did not have the life experience or formal training to know how to study the game properly. I didn’t know why I lost or won. I could beat almost anyone who had a similar level of experience, but fell flat when facing advanced players and I had no idea why.
Charles Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist and avid chess player, believes chess can become a monomania. It’s quite obvious this is the case in some. In fact, you can’t find a world champion who doesn’t spend the greater portion of their life playing an unimportant game. Bobby Fischer, considered by some the greatest chess player ever, famously stated: “Chess is life”. How much more monomaniacal can you get? Of course, Fischer succumbed to full madness before the age of 30…
Pavel Tsatsouline taught me several things, via his knowledge of Russian studies on learning skills:
1) You should practice your chosen skill at the expense of others.
2) You should make your practice regular; a little daily practice is more effective than a lot of practice lumped into a short time. Cramming is not the best way to go.
3) Through the “Reminiscence Effect” you can learn by resting. As you practice your skill, you will encounter periods in which you actually get worse at your skill. Small amounts of time off (not too much, however) can lead to increased skill.
4) Slowly increase the complexity and difficulty of your skill practice–but not too fast!
So it’s chess again for me. Well, there’s a few other obsessions I have right now, but chess is one of them. I recently made it a duty to play chess every day, or any day that I could, and to become a better chess player. I have Chess Titans on my computer, and play it almost daily. In a short time, about two or three weeks, I’m beating the computer on levels which whipped my butt before that.
My thesis, is that almost all genius is actually obsession. The monomaniac gains an unusual pleasure in the area they study, and they study it intensely to the exception of most other skills. The younger the monomania sets in, the more likely the person can reach Ericsson’s 10,000 hours. Talent may cut some hours off, but it’s only the time that makes a “genius”. The key is that to a monomaniac, the hard work does not feel like work at all.
“We just heard of a brand new way..we’ll have to wait and see if it’s half of what they say.” ~Loverboy, The Kid is Hot Tonight
On a friend of mine’s blog, I often present alternate views to the blog’s author and to many of the people who leave comments. Predictably my opinions tend to be more conservative than others. One line of comments was about global warming. Being a global warming skeptic, I felt it necessary to point out some problems with the current model as it now stands. The author of the blog asked why I would believe the minority of scientists over the majority’s opinion.
It is a legitimate question and I’ll give only a short answer here because this post is not really global warming. My primary arguments against the global warming model is not so much with the individual scientists that conduct the studies, though several of them have been caught fudging data in order to strengthen the perception that more warming is taking place than is actually occurring. My main argument is against the alarmists such as Al Gore, who claim warming will lead to imminent catastrophe. But there are also loopholes in the logic employed by the scientists themselves.
I’ve written articles on global warming, diet and evolution. In most cases my arguments are not the mainstream argument. I also see some major problems with Psychology as a science. I could be accused of being anti-intellectual or anti-science. I don’t believe this is the case.
Essentially, my argument is one of Empiricism vs. Rationalism. Both views hold legitimate value. The Empirical view essentially says that human beings are limited in their knowledge because the only knowledge they can truly have is gained through limited senses. Rationalism says that humans have innate knowledge and can extrapolate facts that are beyond human senses. It is possible that a person take an empirical view of some phenomena and a rationalist view of others. For instance, in my view of global warming and the current model of evolution, I am an empirical skeptic. In the case of God and Christianity I am a rationalist.
Let me explain why I am a skeptic in some cases but not others. I’ll use techniques that intelligence analysts employ to develop what is called the Enemy Course of Action. As an analyst, I develop the enemy’s Most Likely Course of Action (COA) and his most Most Dangerous Course of Action (MDCOA). The analyst may compose several COAs. Think of these as hypothesis in scientific terms. Using information, gathered intelligence and careful thinking, the analyst draws up the plan that the enemy is most likely to employ against the friendly military. The analyst also creates a product that shows the most dangerous actions an enemy may employ. Much of the process is rational. An analyst cannot know for sure where the enemy will be in the future, but he can extrapolate using analysts tools and logic. But there are parts of the process that are empirical, too. The analyst has to provide ways that his hypothesis can move up the scientific slide-scale to theory. To do this, he creates Known Areas of Interest (NAIs)and Indicators. NAIs are areas of terrain that would be monitored with intelligence assets in order to cull Indicators. Indicators are “proofs” that the enemy is committing to a certain predicted course of action. So, if a MDCOA states that the enemy will use chemical weapons against friendly battalion headquarters, an indicator may read like this: “In NAI 1, enemy soldiers are wearing or carrying personal protective chemical gear. ” If intelligence collection assets see this, and the information makes it back to the analyst and commander, they can both begin focusing on the MDCOA as the enemy’s plan of action.
So what’s my point? The point is that analysts can only give the most likely event that will occur as well as their opinion on what is the most dangerous. He has to back up his claims with potential indicators. And here’s where I see the problems with global warming. If I were an analyst using the above model to figure out what is going to happen because of global warming, I would say it global warming will have have very little impact on people’s lives. Scientists can look at the empirical facts, like temperature measurements at various points around the globe. They can see that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, because they can create closed systems and inject CO2 into that system and observe CO2’s effects on heat conservation. But there are many things that scientists cannot see empirically with global warming. They cannot see the end result of global warming, they can only rationalize what the end result may be. And if we use the past as an indicator for what may happen in the future, than we must come to the conclusion that the predicted temperature increases do not present a clear and present danger to mankind, because the Earth has been much warmer and contained much more CO2 in the past than it does now. And let’s remember that the Earth is not warming as fast as climate models predicted, thus the weakness of rationalism. Several years ago, Al Gore assured us of catastrophe. But man-made CO2 is an extremely small percentage of greenhouse gas, and we know that temperature does not increase in a linear fashion with CO2. The impact of man-made CO2 on temperature is not known. It may be so low as to be immeasurable. If someone tells me that human survival is threatened by global warming, they have to give me indicators and they also have to show how much impact human activity has on the warming in the first place, because otherwise we have very little control of what the weather does. They also have to give explanations for past warming before the industrial age and why no warming has occurred in the last 15 years. Most importantly, they have to show me why nations should spend trillions of dollars on programs such as the Kyoto Protocol.
Science is not very good at predicting. The major areas of current scientific practice that most trouble me are the ones that seek to extrapolate over very long periods of time. I see the problem like this: If a man who is shooting a rifle at a target 50 meters away misses by 4 inches, that same shot would have missed a more distant target by an even wider margin. And yet in the case of evolution, scientists seek to tell us what happened millions of years ago. Is it not reasonable to surmise that they may be off the mark just a bit? Global warming too seeks to tell us what will happen in the year 2040. Both evolution and catastrophic results of global warming are fine hypothesis. But empirical evidence does not yet support those hypothesis as scientific fact.
Ideological thinking can and has damaged the science. Take diet for instance. In many cases, the thinking goes like this: “I like animals, therefore I don’t like to kill animals, and therefore eating meat and fat damages my health.” “I like nature, nature is the environment without man in it, therefore any man-made technology is bad for nature.” “I do not believe in God, therefore evolution is true.” The opposite also happens. “I don’t believe in evolution because I believe in God.” In other words, people do not believe certain things because of science, they believe the science because of certain other things. As we know from the Nazis, science can be used to support any ideology. And times and thinking change. Scientific consensus, like religious consensus, is subject to change. As Loverboy sings: The kid is hot tonight, but where will he be tomorrow? The hot new idea may fade, and thus laws should only be made in the case of strong empirical evidence.
The truly damaging aspect of this is the linear thinking that science and religion can never mix.
Do I hold Christianity and the existence of God to the same standard I hold evolution and the global warming catastrophe hypothesis? Yes I do. The primary difference is that in one case, global warming, some people want to spend trillion of dollars to change and in most cases slow down modern economies. As far as my belief in Christianity goes, I do not want laws made that require people to be Christians because 1) That kind of Christianity would be wholly inauthentic 2) I may be wrong.
I especially may be wrong on the small minute details of the religion, for God had to constantly correct the men in the Old Testament and the New. No man can conceive fully, God. Moreover, no two men’s concept of God can be exactly the same, mathematically speaking. Theocrats, such as the Taliban, want to calcify thinking. So do the Technocrats or those that make laws based on science that extrapolates and does not see first hand.
I have come to the conclusion through rationalization, that there is probably a God, something or someone that created the universe. And the logical conclusion I draw is the same as Nietzsche’s, that without God, there is no good and evil, that people can only make claims to right or wrong based on how they feel about things. And the problem with that is that there will always be someone who feels differently. The Taliban feel it’s ok to shoot disobedient women in the head. No Atheist could argue with the Taliban on any moral grounds, because life had no meaning without the sacred, it only has fleeting feelings.
In the end, my belief in God does not harm people, at least as far as I can tell. Indeed, using the classic model or what makes a man right and just, Christianity improved me significantly, so there is a utilitarian argument for Christianity in my case. Should a law be made that all people had to believe exactly as I do, that law would most likely harm even me, because it’s unlikely my views in 20 years will be exactly as they are now.
And yet the Technocrats want to make laws that tell us exactly how we can think and act, sometimes based on very poorly understood and complicated things, like brain chemistry. I am not saying that we can never reach a level of adequate surety in these various areas, but it doesn’t seem like we’re there yet. When an engineer builds a plane that cannot fly, the results are immediately evident. When climate scientists or pundits claim Florida will be under water in 50 years so we’d better spend millions, well show me the money.
Schools cannot teach alternative views to evolution, nor do they even talk about the unanswered aspects of the hypothesis. Some children are forced by state law to take medication for ADD before they can attend school. And our society accepts this Technocratic rule because it believes people who think otherwise are unscientific and stupid. In essence, we have accepted science’s version of the Taliban.
America no longer has the will to fight and win wars. If our enemies are able to weather our airstrikes, we are wholly unprepared at nearly every level to place sufficient pressure on fanatical guerrillas whom find war a preferable state to peace. Never in history has an army enjoyed such a monopoly on firepower and mobility as does America, and yet been so unwilling to use it.
We are blessed by the geographical bulwarks of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and cursed with partisan demagogues in Washington who know little of military history or the culture of war. Perfectly willing to start a war, the politicians don’t want to hear what it takes to win it. No matter how much data multi-million dollar computer networks feed those in the Pentagon and Congress, few of the recipients of that data can feel our wars; the data crunchers and politicos can know the wars, but the visceral sensations of ground commanders and grunts will always be beyond them, as thus we can assume that almost all of their decisions will prove inadequate. When war does not fit into comfort zones or proffered theories, many believe we just need to try harder to make the theories work. Few would question the theories themselves lest horrible answers become truths.
Washington’s elites are safe when we lose. The 25 year old squad leader in Afghanistan is not.
The quaint mythologies of counterinsurgency theorems have us following a Yellow Brick Road paved by Non-Governmental Agencies and State Department aid money. We hoped that Oz was a place where suicidal zealots laid down their rifles and stopped making bombs in exchange for a school house and a new pair of shoes. When the curtain was thrown aside to reveal the Wizard, we saw his bloody hand raised skyward, grasping the severed head of the school teacher. And even when the sheer brutality and power of the Taliban terrorist revealed itself, we refused to believe what we saw. We prefer to think that all men want peace, that brutality doesn’t work, and that killing cannot be the answer. Convenient dreams for those in Washington whose greatest daily danger is a Tweeted revelation of sexual misconduct. We question ourselves whereas the men of old, seeing the world more clearly than do we, quickly identified the problem and dealt with it. Swimming is oceans of information, we find it more difficult to choose proper paths, but the ancient warriors of yore, though lacking technological aids—perhaps because he lacked those aids—instinctively discerned human psychology.
Enter Alexander The Great. Imagine for a moment that future technologies could spring the Macedonian king back to life and the modern social and political delusions that prevent decisive victories in war have vanished by the wayside. Now place Alexander in command of history’s most powerful military and charge him with defeating the insurgency in Afghanistan. First, we’ll have to listen to Alexander give us a history lesson. Contrary to revisionists whom extol the invincibility of Afghans fighters, Alexander was never defeated by the people inhabiting the land we now call Afghanistan. And then he would tell us that his tutor, Aristotle, wasn’t about giving peace a chance; the father of Western philosophy implored young Alexander to force Hellenistic ethnic supremacy upon the world of the barbarians.
To the Neo-Alexander, defeating the Taliban begins with an offer to meet insurgent leadership at the bargaining table. And here’s the offer: Submit or die. This language resonates with the Taliban at a far deeper level than does the current Coalition Force offers of reintegration and power sharing. A reasonable man, Alexander offers the Taliban their religion and way of life in exchange for their weapons. The sovereign lines of the Pakistani border mean nothing. They are semi-porous membranes that hold back American power and allow insurgents to move freely to and from their safe havens in Pakistan. In response to each suicide bomber making his way from Western Pakistan, Alexander orders biometric identification through DNA testing, and using covert CIA intelligence cells seeded throughout Pakistan, identifies the village from which the suicide bomber originated. The Macedonian orders B-2 bomber and Reaper drone strikes on all known Madrassas in the village. No apologies are offered for civilian casualties. The retributive strikes are timely and painful. The suicide bombers quickly transform from heroes to sources of great pain in the villages. Soon, being a suicide bomber is disgraceful, not honorable.
The terrorists resort to using their greatest weapon: The media. In response, all media embeds are ordered to leave Afghanistan. Journalists stream into North and South Waziristan, hoping to document American atrocities. Members of the Haqqani Network set up ad hoc repeater stations, hoping to broadcast propaganda from small, handheld Motorola VHF radios. America counters by dropping electromagnetic pulse bombs at random intervals into the tribal areas. These weapons destroy any modern electronic equipment, leaving journalists to their pens and notebooks and Haqqani insurgents to courier communications.
As for terrorist infiltration along the Pakistan border, Alexander knows that not every infiltrator can be stopped. However, it is possible to make crossing into Afghanistan too painful a gamble. Areas along the border are declared free-fire zones. Approximately 5 kilometers on each side of the border are free-fire; that is, since the areas are assumed cleared, anyone in those areas can be fired on. The 5 kilometer range allows for ranges of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and Haqqani Network rocket fire, such as which killed two American Soldiers at FOB Salerno in May of 2011 (with no punitive action taken by the US military out of respect to our Pakistani “friends”).
Entire villages will be held accountable for the actions of individuals that live within them. Villagers in Afghanistan always know what goes on within the village. Villages where US forces are attacked will be subject to curfews and those found to be involved in insurgent activity shall be given a field trial by US military officers and if found guilty, executed. Special Operations night raids and air assaults will be constant in areas infested with Taliban, al-Qaeda and Haqqani fighters. Protests by villagers about the night raids will be ignored, as most of these protests are spawned by agitated insurgents. The cooperation of local villagers is the goal, but America under Alexander will place the safety of her troops and the destruction of the insurgency above the safety of villagers. Civilian casualties will be avoided when possible, but local Afghans will need to provide intelligence and information to American forces in order to ensure that America kills the right people. Otherwise, the insurgents will merely use civilains as living shields. Cooperation will help both the Afghans and America. The “sanctity” of the people will no longer be assumed; entire populations can be just as evil as individuals. The terrorists will be held to the same standards that the US military is held. All war crimes will be prosecuted in the field if possible.
The shrines of dead al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters will be closely monitored by payed CIA informants. Sympathizers who come to venerate terrorist grave sites will be followed, and at a convenient time, interviewed and their biometric data entered into a huge data base known as BATS–Biometrically Automated Toolset. These people will be placed on watch lists, denied entry to US bases, and denied the possibility of serving within Afghan government security forces for 5 years. Individuals assessed to be of a higher threat level shall be denied access and government work on a permanent basis.
Alexander will reward the friends of America. India, the largest democracy on Earth, will be provided special trade rights. She has earned it. A full embargo of Pakistan will commence. We have treated our enemies better than our friends in hopes that our goodwill would bring them to our side. But they mistook our goodwill for weakness. Those who fought bravely beside us, such as Britain, did not get 4 billion dollar rewards, such as did Pakistan.
Every chance will be given to those in the Federally Administered tribal Region of Pakistan to formally surrender Siraj and Jallaludin Haqqani, the familial leaders of the Haqqani Network. America will make war for a better peace denied her by maniacs. Letters will dropped in each village in North and South Waziristan, telling the inhabitants to give up their weapons and submit to searches of their residences. Aggressive actions taken by Pak military units will result in 5,000 lb GBU-28 Penetrator Bombs being dropped on all Pakistani nuclear missile sites, which have been carefully tracked by the National Ground Intelligence Center and the National Geospatial Agency for years. Alexander–a genius at war–knows that this war will escalate. All wars escalate. But no one can out-escalate the United States Military.
Villages not wishing to submit to search will be given 24 hours notice to evacuate. Then the village will be razed by Fire Support Teams (FIST) utilizing 155 mm Howitzer fire and B-52 Arc Light strikes and tactical airstrikes under the guidance of Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) teams. Not only will there be no apologies for these actions, Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) units will broadcast images of the destruction to other villages, warning them of the implications of resistance.
Anything less than the above guarantees an American defeat in Afghanistan. If our leaders cannot do what Alexander would do, they should save the blood of our Soldiers and Marines and bring them home. And they should never again begin or escalate a war for political gain if they don’t intend to win it.
My team and I flew off to Jalalabad. our job is to evaluate Surkh Rod District, which is just outside of Jalalabad. Jalalabad is a model city. ISAF commanders want to use the “Ink Blot” method to slowly build off from successful municipalities. So our job is to find out what’s right with Surkh Rod District, and what can be replicated in other districts.
I can tell you right now that the difference between Surkh Rod and Sayed Abad, a place I travelled to about 6 weeks ago, is astounding. In Sayed Abad, we took mortar and rocket fire every night, and Taliban fighters engaged one of our Route Clearance Teams right outside a FOB gate. Sayed Abad is an insurgent stronghold, and I’ve assessed that the overall state of the insurgency can be measured by what is occurring in the district.
Surkh Rod is host to some of Afghanistan’s cultural elite, whom bring money and business to the area. From what I’ve seen, all the talk about greed and corruption that come with the business world is simply a way to ignore the true power of business: It keeps people busy, let’s them hope for a better future without using a rifle to get it, and it feeds people. Where people don’t work, read or have roads to travel on, they kill to pass the time. Where they do have those things they fight only to keep them.
Signing off for now.