Hezbollah sleeper cells and imminent war in the Middle East

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The Israeli Minister of Defense recently stated that Israel is prepared for 30 days of war with Iran. In fact, a shadow war, but a very real war never the less, has been ongoing between the two countries for months, with real people being killed by very real government-backed means.

Within the last year, at least 3 Iranian scientists who were working on Iran’s nuclear power program were assassinated.  Bombs exploded in their cars, killing them.  And there was the massively powerful cyberweapon, known as STUXNET, deployed against Iranian nuclear research facilities.  In what appears to be reprisals, terrorists targeted Israelis around the world in places like India, Georgia, and most recently in Bulgaria.  In this case, a suicide bomber walked onto a bus full of Israeli tourists and parked near an airport terminal , then detonated, killing 5 Israelis.  The bombing occurred in a popular Israeli vacation resort near the Black Sea.   Bulgarian domestic security released a video which shows the suspected suicide bomber walking inside the airport.  He is dressed in very casual western style clothing and has a light complexion.  I posted a video of the suspected bomber, below.

As a former law enforcement officer and current intelligence analyst I find the video and the overall bombing very disturbing for several reasons.  First, the bomber’s body language is staggeringly deceptive, offering no clues as to his true intent.  The man obviously received professional training, most probably from Iranian Quds Force and/or Hezbollah.  The man’s gait, posture and clothing are carefully crafted so as to defeat most attempts at profiling.  Secondly, the complexity of this operation was quite extensive.  The bomber had to penetrate an Eastern European country’s domestic security, most likely constructing the bomb there.  The bomber also looks very Western in complexion and mannerism.  Thirdly, a group of Israeli tourists had to be targeted and stalked.  This is different from an operation in which a high profile individual is targeted for assassination.  In that case it is quite simple to know where the high profile person will be, since he or she will be preceded by media reports, has a well known face, and may have an attached security detail.  This operation required extensive surveillance and testing of the existing security systems.  Also, the bomber possessed a fake Michigan driver’s license. 

Fake Michigan driver’s license found at bomb scene
Sketch of suspected suicide bomber in Bulgaria

All of this raises the question as to what Hezbollah has in store for Israel and America should Israel preemptively strike.  Readers should have no doubt that Hezbollah, sponsored by Iran, has placed sleeper cells around the world that are ready to “wake up” should they be called to action.  Though some of them already struck in response to the deaths of Iranian scientists and the STUXNET cyberweapon, it is logical to assume that Iran is holding back a considerable number of suicide bombers and saboteurs so as to control the political aspects of a future war.  It is an established fact that Hezbollah operates an organised crime ring in America, with million of dollars having been funneled to groups in Lebanon.[1]  Iran is the world’s foremost practitioner of 4th Generation Warfare.  Anyone who believes that this type of warfare is ineffective should consider the fact that Iran remained the number one state supporter of terrorism for decades without, until recently, sanctions leveled against it.  Iran has continued on the path of nuclear weapons without a single shot fired against it by the United States.  Iran has held hostage British sailors while parading them on camera against international law.  The Iranian government plotted the assassination of the Saudi Ambassador to the US, without any repercussions, not even a strongly worded letter.  Iran provided fighters, bomb makers and Explosively Formed Projectiles  (EFPs) capable of slicing through the toughest of American armor, to insurgents in the Iraq war.  The American government willfully took no action against Iran despite knowing its government was killing American Soldiers. In some cases, American intelligence networks were told to avoid collecting information that proved Iranian complicity in American deaths.[2]  Iran also continues to sow chaos and discord in Iraq, forcing Iraqi prime minister Maliki to form an alliance with the Iranian regime.

There is simply no other way to interpret the lack of assertive action against Iran by the United States other than that the US government  is afraid of Iran.  The fact that the most powerful nation in history is scared of a country like Iran shows the effectiveness of 4G Warfare.  Iran knows it cannot win in a stand up fight against America.  It doesn’t need to, because the American government has little real idea of how to deal with 4th Generation fighters.  American politicians are far more concerned with polls and elections than the lives of American servicemen, otherwise the Iranians would have been taken care of years ago.  Terrorism targets public opinion and every terrorist loves a polling booth.  The proliferation of useful idiots who think that America can negotiate its way out of every bad situation has done nothing but empower Iran’s 4G warriors.

The Middle East is teetering on the edge of war.  The new Egyptian government openly states it is considering violating its peace treaty with Israel, Lebanon and Syria are in chaos, and Iran rushes toward obtaining the ultimate weapon while promising the destruction of Israel.  But perhaps most troubling is the lack of commitment from America as to which side it is on.  Our collapsing culture and post-modern morals  blind our government at a time when moral clarity is imperative

[1] Emerson, Steven, Jihad Incorporated”, pages 219-227, Prometheus Books, 2006

[2] O’hern, Steven, K. “The Intelligence Wars”, Chapter 4: Iran’s Shadow Falls Over Iraq, Prometheus Books, 2008

Child rearing and international relations

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This morning, Emily, our three year old girl, yelled for Mommy from her room. She was in her high chair eating breakfast and watching cartoons. Since my wife was busy preparing the Thanksgiving turkey, I got up, knowing that Emily finished eating and wanted to get down from the chair. Emily looked at me and stated–with a slight scowl on her face: “I want down!” Now, since I believe in manners, I asked her what goes along with any request. She knows that she needs to say please, but at this moment, she decided that she was going to test my resolve. Emily’s face grew into a pout and she folded her arms. She was going to stand her ground. I told her that when she could come up with the right word, she could get down.

Nope. Emily was going to win. The problem is, I’ve found with children that it’s a very bad idea to let them win when you’re right. And it isn’t very often that an adult is not the one in the right when it comes to three year olds. So I left the room, reminding her that when she really wanted to get down, she’d just say the magic word. A few minutes passed and I poked my head in. Anything? Nope, still the pouty look that works with some people. Some people would have been guilted right into giving in. But the more you give in with children, the more wars you’ll have to fight in the future, even though capitulating can end the current battle. As George Orwell once said: “The quickest way to end a war is to lose it.” But then you’ve suddenly empowered a three year old beyond reason, and we all know why the world is not run by three year olds.

Finally I walked into the room again. I asked her if she was going to say please. About 5 minutes had passed since the little insurrection began. She stared at the television as if I hadn’t even spoken to her. Ok–I thought, time to increase the pressure. A little more firepower may be in order. I walked over to the television and shut it off, then started out the door of the room.

“Daddy!” I turned to see a distinctly changed visage. Contrite and polite. 

“I said I wanted to get down.”

I asked what word accompanied her request. “Please” she said. The war was over. If I’d given in, it may have been months of future battles before Emily forgot the lesson she’d learned; that if she can hold out and pout and refuse to cooperate, she can get what she wants.

Make playing nice the only option

 For several years now I’ve rolled the idea around in my mind that one could do exceptionally well in the world of international politics if, as a national leader, a person merely dealt with other nations as one would deal with a child. Now I know this sounds offensive on its surface, but in reality, I’m just using this as a mental guide that someone could refer to when the question arose on how America should react in particularly sticky situations abroad. Kind of like the recent North Korean attack on the South, in an apparent attempt to force the US to the negotiating table in regards to sanctions.

Now I know that not every nation is like a child, but I believe that humanity as a mass organism can be handled just like children. There are some that simply do not understand this, and so have empowered and enabled decades of violence. These people are the single moms of the world. Jimmy Carter is an exasperated single mom. Mr. Carter thinks that if he keeps giving the kicking, screaming three year old candy bars and cookies, keeps letting them stay up until midnight, and never ever makes the child uncomfortable for bad behavior, than the bad behavior will go away. Because that’s how rational adults act, right? But this isn’t a rational adult. The child doesn’t play by rules just because it’s the right thing to do. The child wants to push the envelope, find out what his limits are, get as much as it can.

Well Mr. Carter’s at it again. After decades of blaming the West and Israel for getting bombed by terrorists, he’s now telling us we should immediately go to the negotiating table with North Korea as a result of the recent attacks on the South. So lets train the child by letting him know that his unacceptable actions work. That hitting mommy and daddy gets you things. That throwing temper tantrums gets you cookies and candy. Mr. Carter ignores basically ignores the actions that got Korea into its current predicament. The fact that Kim Jong Il has repeatedly violated various rules in regards to its nuclear weapons program. He cites in his article that for 8 years, the West sent North Korea fuel oil under an agreement brokered by Carter under the Clinton administration, but then states that North Korea violated the agreement and so came under more sanctions. Does he not see the pattern here? Throw temper tantrum. Get stuff. Agree to new rules. Violate rules. Lose stuff. Throw temper tantrum. Get stuff. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Carter doesn’t want to be a parent. Not a real parent. He wants to fake it, and act like a good friend. In essense, it’s parenting “on the cheap”. It’s done by a parent who wants to pat themselves on the back for being tolerant, and who can’t stand the twinge of discomfort they themselves momentarily feel for doing the job they suspect that they should do. It comes with the easy-fix world we’ve come to live in.  Meanwhile, they’re enabling the child to become someone few can tolerate, not even the parent themselves. But no parent who’s doing their job is only friends with their child. Sometimes the hammer must fall. Sometimes a spanking is in order. And sometimes countries like North Korea should be told to go to their room and shut the door so their temper tantrum has no audience.

North and South Korea teeter at the edge of war.

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This morning, North Korea launched an artillery strike against a South Korean Island, killing several inhabitants and destroying homes. I’ll remind people that a war between these two countries will make Iraq and Afghanistan look like a schoolyard tussle.

After the discovery earlier this year that a South Korean warship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo, it may be only a matter of time before the South must act in order to protect its viability as a state. As I’m writing this, it’s being reported that the South Korean president states that the South will unleash “enormous retaliation” if attacked again. This news comes on the heels of reports of North Korean attempts to weaponize uranium. I will continue monitoring.

Predictive Analysis: The North will again wait several months before attacking, allowing for a cool-off period and decreased media attention.

The Inevitability of Armageddon

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Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. 16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. 17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.”~The Book of Revelations

The recent incident involving the aid-for-Gaza ship illustrates the inevitability of a catastrophic war in the Middle East. Israel can only fight a defensive war, fending off attack after attack, responding to past damages. Israel’s enemies on the other hand, can repeatedly attack Israel and than scream bloody-murder when Israel responds. And the media cooperates.

Israel cannot, for political reasons, preemptively attack, with the intent to eliminate, its enemies. To do so would risk losing America as an ally. Should America disown Israel, Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state; her enemies are too numerous.  The Israeli government is forced to rely on retributive and defensive operations which do not root out the enemy’s hive, but only swat at individual wasps in a swarm. While the hive exists, there will always be more swarms.

Various Islamic nations call for the destruction of Israel, all the while attacking her through proxy terror organizations such as Hezbollah. And yet, the call now is for Israel to rid itself of nuclear weapons. Iran, it is now believed, has enough fissile material to produce two nuclear weapons. Given the nature of suicide attacks, even the threat of a massive nuclear retaliatory strike against Iran may not be enough to stave off an initial nuclear attack on Israeli soil. Though many reports focus on Iran’s nuclear delivery systems, those systems are not nearly as important to Islamic fundamentalists as the weapons themselves. A suicide bomber is the ultimate smart weapon. In addition, an atomic suicide bomber presents a greater chance of plausible deniability. A missile launch would be easily traceable as to its origin. A man annihilated in a nuclear blast passes into oblivion.

So because Israel cannot destroy her enemies before they build an ultimate weapon, Israel can only wait until the ultimate weapon is used. Her enemies repeatedly remind us that the destruction of Israel is at the top of their wish list. Not world peace, not that their hungry are fed, not education of the masses, but the death of millions of Jews. The calls for the destruction of Israel occur so frequently that the threats seem to mean nothing. Many assume that the promises of this destruction are only rants or calls for attention. The Arab-Israeli Wars, the thousands of rocket attacks and suicide bombings, the incessant political posturing, all of that means nothing to the cynics. Too many believe that Israel merely wishes to make Palestinians suffer for no real reason. So much so, that the reports of suffering have become hyperbolic and the aid and concessions given to Palestinians are all but unreported.

And it is clear what Israel will do if her existential fears materialize. They will use their own ultimate weapons, just as we would. And then we shall see the prophecy recorded in the Book of Revelations become reality. Some will say it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, that religious zealots read the prophecy and did what they could to make it happen. I’ll say a self-fulfilling prophecy is nonetheless a prophecy fulfilled.

Reflections: The Army, Foreign Policy, Life and War

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Lately I’ve thought quite a bit how my concepts and perceptions of America’s role in the world have changed, what America should do in regards to its foreign policy and about my choice to join the Army. I’d like to talk a bit about Army life, my choice to join the Army, the Army’s future and mine. Some of these thoughts are rather random.

Comparing my previous job as a police officer to my position in the Army, I sometimes wonder if I’d go back if given the chance. The answer I’ve come up with is: No. I’d stay right where I am. Of course there are some very difficult things to deal with in the Army, but I think overall it suits me well. I’ve had to adapt somewhat, but I’m good at this. The best thing is the chance to do so many things while in the military. The upward mobility is much more evident than it was at the police department and I’m satisfied with my pay and benefits. Not to mention that I don’t have to deal with obnoxious drunk people very often. I get a lot of time off–plenty of four-day weekends and 30 days of leave a year. I’ll never starve in the Army. I remember working for the PD, living paycheck to  paycheck many times, though I can’t say I felt I was underpaid. I consider both the Army and police work to be an honor and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity.

I have so much more to learn both about the Army itself and the very technical aspects of my work as an Intelligence Analyst. I like the challenge though. I get to see the world, though I’m looking forward to being stationed in the States again. I miss my country and the sense of freedom there.

It’s exciting to me to think about all of the learning I’m going to be doing, and the things I’ll have to write about and tell my kids. The promotion system is very motivating–kind of like leveling up in a game. You earn points for doing well and learning different skills and than when your time comes, if you have enough points you get promoted.

As far as the future of the Army and its role in the world: The nature of near-future conflicts is of course going to be different than the set piece wars of decades ago. We’re the dog who caught the car and now doesn’t know what to do. I was reading an article the other day about the war in Afghanistan. Some people were commenting about asymmetric warfare (guerilla warfare), saying tha Saddam Hussein should have used guerilla warfare instead of trying to fight straight up. I think this misses the point. Hussein could not have retained any of his power while conducting guerilla warfare. He would have been driven underground with his fighters, living like a dog. Hussein never had a chance. He was a fool, who would be alive today had he taken GW Bush up on his offer to simply leave power, or at least let people in to look for WMD.

Some are understandably very critical of the military’s choice of hardware purchases. Things like the F-22 Raptor. Many of these people speak as if we will never have to fight a conventional war again. While we should narrow our focus to the matter at hand, we must remember that conventional warfare is much more dangerous to fight than any counterinsurgency America will be fighting in the coming years. We should remain flexible, ever ready to change our course of action should another nation rise to confront us. The Russo/Georgian conflict shows full well that conventional conflicts can raise their disastrous heads at any movement. And the terrorists are getting better. They’re learning,a s the 2006 Israeli/Hezbollah war showed. The terrorists, armed with ultra-modern anti-tank missiles, used somewhat conventional methods of warfare–a defense-in-depth spider web–to wreak havoc on Israeli Merkava tank advances. Hezbolla was even able to hack the Israeli communication systems, enabling them to place defensive positions where attacks were likely to occur.

In some ways, Hezbollah’s success is exaggerated; the Israelis still maintained about 7:1 kill ratios. But this still surprised analysts who are used to complete Arab ineptness in war fighting. 

It is interesting to speak about foreign policy, what wars should be fought, what ones shouldn’t. But in the end, I think a Soldier should separate himself from the political sphere and go about his job as a professional. Of course he does have morals. A Soldier on the battlefield, especially in a counterinsurgency situation, is asked to exercise his judgement and restraint to a much greater extant than the ranting pundits. And he has to do it while bullets fly at him. When Soldiers meet on the battlefield, it is a primal endeavor. Warriors on either side know they may die. It is Warriors that fight wars and win or lose them. Were it merely enough to “out-nice” the enemy, it’s doubtful there’d a war to fight at all. For instance, if we really have to worry that the Taliban is being nicer than we are to Afghan citizens, why are we worried about the Taliban? But when a Warrior in a Western Democracy is asked to fight, he should do his duty. His enemy, his counter-part Soldier, will forgive him. Soldiers in Western cultures pick up a fallen enemy Soldier, dust him off, offer him warm cup of coffee and a bed. This, I admit, is an adequate argument against enhanced interrogation techniques. Our Warriors should fight, and when the battle’s over, show the enemy why we’re better than they are, even after we’ve reminded them we’re better fighters, too.

Intelligence and its interpretation will rule the battlefield of the next generation. Knowing exactly where the enemy is has never been easier. Only the rapidity of modern mechanized warfare may outrun the intelligence collection array. In fact, the complexity, fluidity and speed of modern warfare has likely surpassed the ability of the human mind to keep up. The thrusts, ripostes, counter-attacks. The various methods of attack and defense. Future symmetrical fights will be over and done with before the TV cameras can expand their tripods. And this is a good thing for free nations. It is the character of media to criticise good more than evil. Evil gets a pass, because well, it’s evil and that’s what it’s supposed to do–evil things.

America will have to decide what it expects from its military. Is genocide, the possibility of rogue states possessing WMD, the harboring or training of international terrorists, enough to send our troops to a foreign land, to fight, to die, to risk the critical eyes of the world? We must ask ourselves these questions, or risk watering a  growing tree of cynicism.

The utter destructiveness of massed industrial war may be enough of a deterrent to avoid it for the coming decades. Instead, state actors will be like two men in a bar, puffing their chests, unable to back down and lose face. They’re more likely to slash the other guy’s tire in the parking lot than get into a fight. The cost of the fight is too high.

On the other hand, there is the aggressive drunk with whom the bar owners must deal. In this case, it is radical Islam, intoxicated with religious zeal. The Jihadist becomes part of an angry mob. Warlike, aggressive and absolutist, Islamic extremism abhors the perceived feminized West. We in the West will give soccer balls to children. The terrorists will train the children to blow themselves up. We will build and paint schools, and the terrorists will knock them down. We have fooled ourselves and ignored the most powerful factor in human history: Culture. Anything can be made morally right, anything is possible if one’s culture says it is.

Oddly, the lack of a real, professional, warrior class amongst the Arab nations allows their violent, human nature to show through. We need not ask if man will fight, but over what ideal he has that makes him willing to die for it. Instead of Myrmidons or Samurai–proud warriors set apart from the rest of their countrymen– Muslim nations are more akin to a barbarian horde. They lack discipline, cohesion, military standards. In fact, our most professional trainers, the best in the world at what they do, are finding that it is nearly impossible to impart military professionalism of any high standard to the army and police in Afghanistan. While our positivism may be our greatest strength, we need a dose of realty. When 70% percent of a country, such as in Afghanistan, cannot read or write, how do we propose that operations orders and police reports get written?

Man does not like peace for very long. He will begin to romanticize images of war even as it rages around him. In film, novels, video games. We must stop lying to ourselves; humans like to fight. If we can admit this, we can avoid being on the losing end of a fight. It’s a very bad thing to lose a war.

Diplomacy will not stop Iran from building a bomb.

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The United States has been in talks with Iran for over thirty years. These talks have enabled Iran at every turn to appear to want peace and negotiation, but in the end talking has proven a distraction.

One of the largest strawmen that the Left has constructed is this: The Right does not talk, it only bombs. We must talk, they say, as if we never have. They conveniently forget that the Berlin Wall fell without a shot fired.

This accusation is really a reflexive lashing out, a displayed frustration at the fact that many times, perhaps most times, talking with totalitarian regimes doesn’t produce the results America wants. Is it so profound to think that regimes and leaders who practice genocide, ethnic cleansing, brutal suppression of dissent and hold to near-future visions of Apocalypse may not be so sensitive as to cease these activities merely because they were told to do so?

What exactly is it that those who worship at the alter of diplomacy wish to negotiate with Iran? What can we say that Ahmadinejad hasn’t heard before?

We’ve dithered long enough. The Left will squeal and kick should we take military action. This we know. And we should ignore it. But the fact is, too many words have made us look indecisive and weak; perhaps the hallmark of this administration.  This kind of operation is exactly the kind at which our small, capable military excels: Hit hard and leave.