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Stratfor: “The Khost Attack and the Intelligence War Challenge”

18 January 2010

This Stratfor articles discusses a critical component of our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan:  intelligence.   At the end are links to other posts about this subject.

As usual, Stratfor gives an authorative analysis on the several dimensions of this topic.  But the authors “bury the lede”, putting their most disturbing conclusions deep in the article:

The United States cannot hope to reach any satisfactory solution in Afghanistan unless it can win the intelligence war. But the damage done to the CIA in this attack cannot be overestimated. At least one of the agency’s top analysts on al Qaeda was killed. In an intelligence war, this is the equivalent of sinking an aircraft carrier in a naval war. The United States can’t afford this kind of loss. There will now be endless reviews, shifts in personnel and re-evaluations. In the meantime, the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan will be attempting to exploit the opportunity presented by this disruption.

Casualties happen in war, and casualties are not an argument against war. However, when the center of gravity in a war is intelligence, and an episode like this occurs, the ability to prevail becomes a serious question. We have argued that in any insurgency, the insurgents have a built-in advantage. It is their country and their culture, and they are indistinguishable from everyone else. Keeping them from infiltrating is difficult.

This results in part from a fundamental conceptual error — pure arrogance — from the beginning of our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.  It was perfectly expressed by David Kilcullen in his famous article:

“Know the people, the topography, economy, history, religion and culture. Know every village, road, field, population group, tribal leader and ancient grievance. Your task is to become the world expert on your district.”
— “Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency“, David Kilcullen, Military Review, May-June 2006

This is delusional on several levels.  First, no outsider can match the knowledge of locals without many years of experience and training. 

Second, it is backwards.  The information advantage lies with our enemies.  Thousands of people from the Middle East have studied and worked in America during the past fifty years.  A larger number have some familiarity with us and our culture:   have seen our movies, read our literature, or have dealt with American.  Even worse, for the best of them the combination of deep familiarity plus some cognitive and emotional distance might give them perspectives on America that we lack.

Intelligence is one of our inherent weaknesses, not (as usually described) one of our advantages.

So we come to today’s feature article:  “The Khost Attack and the Intelligence War Challenge“, George Friedman and Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 11 January 2010 — This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

As Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi exited the vehicle that brought him onto Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, on Dec. 30, 2009, security guards noticed he was behaving strangely. They moved toward al-Balawi and screamed demands that he take his hand out of his pocket, but instead of complying with the officers’ commands, al-Balawi detonated the suicide device he was wearing. The explosion killed al-Balawi, three security contractors, four CIA officers and the Jordanian General Intelligence Department (GID) officer who was al-Balawi’s handler. The vehicle shielded several other CIA officers at the scene from the blast. The CIA officers killed included the chief of the base at Khost and an analyst from headquarters who reportedly was the agency’s foremost expert on al Qaeda. The agency’s second-ranking officer in Afghanistan was allegedly among the officers who survived.

Al-Balawi was a Jordanian doctor from Zarqa (the hometown of deceased al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi). Under the alias Abu Dujanah al-Khurasani, he served as an administrator for Al-Hesbah, a popular Internet discussion forum for jihadists. Jordanian officers arrested him in 2007 because of his involvement with radical online forums, which is illegal in Jordan. The GID subsequently approached al-Balawi while he was in a Jordanian prison and recruited him to work as an intelligence asset.

Al-Balawi was sent to Pakistan less than a year ago as part of a joint GID/CIA mission. Under the cover of going to school to receive advanced medical training, al-Balawi established himself in Pakistan and began to reach out to jihadists in the region. Under his al-Khurasani pseudonym, al-Balawai announced in September 2009 in an interview on a jihadist Internet forum that he had officially joined the Afghan Taliban.

A Lucky Break for the TTP

It is unclear if al-Balawi was ever truly repentant. Perhaps he cooperated with the GID at first, but had a change of heart sometime after arriving in Pakistan. Either way, at some point al-Balawi approached the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the main Pakistani Taliban group, and offered to work with it against the CIA and GID. Al-Balawi confirmed this in a video statement recorded with TTP leader Hakeemullah Mehsud and released Jan. 9. This is significant because it means that al-Balawi’s appearance was a lucky break for the TTP, and not part of some larger, intentional intelligence operation orchestrated by the TTP or another jihadist entity like al Qaeda.

The TTP’s luck held when a group of 13 people gathered to meet al-Balawi upon his arrival at FOB Chapman. This allowed him to detonate his suicide device amid the crowd and create maximum carnage before he was able to be searched for weapons.

In the world of espionage, source meetings are almost always a dangerous activity for both the intelligence officer and the source. There are fears the source could be surveilled and followed to the meeting site, or that the meeting could be raided by host country authorities and the parties arrested. In the case of a terrorist source, the meeting site could be attacked and those involved in the meeting killed. Because of this, the CIA and other intelligence agencies exercise great care while conducting source meetings. Normally they will not bring the source into a CIA station or base. Instead, they will conduct the meeting at a secure, low-profile offsite location.

Operating in the wilds of Afghanistan is far different from operating out of an embassy in Vienna or Moscow, however. Khost province is Taliban territory, and it offers no refuge from the watching eyes and gunmen of the Taliban and their jihadist allies. Indeed, the province has few places safe enough even for a CIA base. And this is why the CIA base in Khost is located on a military base, FOB Chapman, named for the first American killed in Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion. Normally, an outer ring of Afghan security around the base searches persons entering FOB Chapman, who the U.S. military then searches again at the outer perimeter of the U.S. portion of the base. Al-Balawi, a high-value CIA asset, was allowed to skip these external layers of security to avoid exposing his identity to Afghan troops and U.S. military personnel. Instead, the team of Xe (the company formerly known as Blackwater) security contractors were to search al-Balawi as he arrived at the CIA’s facility.

A Failure to Follow Security Procedures

Had proper security procedures been followed, the attack should only have killed the security contractors, the vehicle driver and perhaps the Jordanian GID officer. But proper security measures were not followed, and several CIA officers rushed out to greet the unscreened Jordanian source. Reports indicate that the source had alerted his Jordanian handler that he had intelligence pertaining to the location of al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri. (There are also reports that al-Balawi had given his handlers highly accurate battle damage assessments on drone strikes in Pakistan, indicating that he had access to high-level jihadist sources.) The prospect of finally receiving such crucial and long-sought information likely explains the presence of the high-profile visitors from CIA headquarters in Langley and the station in Kabul — and their exuberance over receiving such coveted intelligence probably explains their eager rush to meet the source before he had been properly screened.

The attack, the most deadly against CIA personnel since the 1983 Beirut bombing, was clearly avoidable, or at least mitigable. But human intelligence is a risky business, and collecting human intelligence against jihadist groups can be flat-out deadly. The CIA officers in Khost the day of the bombing had grown complacent, and violated a number of security procedures. The attack thus serves as a stark reminder to the rest of the clandestine service of the dangers they face and of the need to adhere to time-tested security procedures.

A better process might have prevented some of the deaths, but it would not have solved the fundamental problem: The CIA had an asset who turned out to be a double agent. When he turned is less important than that he was turned into — assuming he had not always been — a double agent. His mission was to gain the confidence of the CIA as to his bona fides, and then create an event in which large numbers of CIA agents were present, especially the top al Qaeda analyst at the CIA. He knew that high-value targets would be present because he had set the stage for the meeting by dangling vital information before the agency. He went to the meeting to carry out his true mission, which was to deliver a blow against the CIA. He succeeded.

The Obama Strategy’s Weakness

In discussing the core weakness in the Afghan strategy U.S. President Barack Obama has chosen, we identified the basic problem as the intelligence war. We argued that establishing an effective Afghan army would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, because the Americans and their NATO allies lacked knowledge and sophistication in distinguishing friend from foe among those being recruited into the army. This problem is compounded by the fact that there are very few written documents in a country like Afghanistan that could corroborate identities. The Taliban would seed the Afghan army with its own operatives and supporters, potentially exposing the army’s operations to al Qaeda.

This case takes the problem a step further. The United States relied on Jordanian intelligence to turn a jihadist operative into a double agent. They were dependent on the Jordanian handler’s skills at debriefing, vetting and testing the now-double agent. It is now reasonable to assume the agent allowed himself to be doubled in an attempt to gain the trust of the handler. The Jordanians offered the source to the Americans, who obviously grabbed him, and the source passed all the tests to which he was undoubtedly subjected. Yet in the end, his contacts with the Taliban were not designed to provide intelligence to the Americans. The intelligence provided to the Americans was designed to win their trust and set up the suicide bombing. It is therefore difficult to avoid the conclusion that al-Balawi was playing the GID all along and that his willingness to reject his jihadist beliefs was simply an opportunistic strategy for surviving and striking.

Even though encountering al-Balawi was a stroke of luck for the TTP, the group’s exploitation of this lucky break was a very sophisticated operation. The TTP had to provide valuable intelligence to allow al-Balawi to build his credibility. It had to create the clustering of CIA agents by promising extraordinarily valuable intelligence. It then had to provide al-Balawi with an effective suicide device needed for the strike. And it had to do this without being detected by the CIA. Al-Balawi had a credible cover for meeting TTP agents; that was his job. But what al-Balawi told his handlers about his meetings with the TTP, and where he went between meetings, clearly did not indicate to the handlers that he was providing fabricated information or posed a threat.

In handling a double agent, it is necessary to track every step he takes. He cannot be trusted because of his history; the suspicion that he is still loyal to his original cause must always be assumed. Therefore, the most valuable moments in evaluating a double agent are provided by intense scrutiny of his patterns and conduct away from his handlers and new friends. Obviously, if this scrutiny was applied, al-Balawi and his TTP handlers were still able to confuse their observers. If it was not applied, then the CIA was setting itself up for disappointment. Again, such scrutiny is far more difficult to conduct in the Pakistani badlands, where resources to surveil a source are very scarce. In such a case, the intuition and judgment of the agent’s handler are critical, and al-Balawi was obviously able to fool his Jordanian handler.

Given his enthusiastic welcome at FOB Chapman, it would seem al-Balawi was regarded not only as extremely valuable but also as extremely reliable. Whatever process might have been used at the meeting, the central problem was that he was regarded as a highly trusted source when he shouldn’t have been. Whether this happened because the CIA relied entirely on the Jordanian GID for evaluation or because American interrogators and counterintelligence specialists did not have the skills needed to pick up the cues can’t be known. What is known is that the TTP ran circles around the CIA in converting al-Balawi to its uses.

The United States cannot hope to reach any satisfactory solution in Afghanistan unless it can win the intelligence war. But the damage done to the CIA in this attack cannot be overestimated. At least one of the agency’s top analysts on al Qaeda was killed. In an intelligence war, this is the equivalent of sinking an aircraft carrier in a naval war. The United States can’t afford this kind of loss. There will now be endless reviews, shifts in personnel and re-evaluations. In the meantime, the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan will be attempting to exploit the opportunity presented by this disruption.

Casualties happen in war, and casualties are not an argument against war. However, when the center of gravity in a war is intelligence, and an episode like this occurs, the ability to prevail becomes a serious question. We have argued that in any insurgency, the insurgents have a built-in advantage. It is their country and their culture, and they are indistinguishable from everyone else. Keeping them from infiltrating is difficult.

This was a different matter. Al-Balawi was Jordanian; his penetration of the CIA was less like the product of an insurgency than an operation carried out by a national intelligence service. And this is the most troubling aspect of this incident for the United States. The operation was by all accounts a masterful piece of tradecraft beyond the known abilities of a group like the TTP. Even though al-Balawi’s appearance was a lucky break for the TTP, not the result of an intentional, long-term operation, the execution of the operation that arose as a result of that lucky break was skillfully done — and it was good enough to deliver a body blow to the CIA. The Pakistani Taliban would thus appear far more skilled than we would have thought, which is the most important takeaway from this incident, and something to ponder.

For more information from the FM site

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.  Of special relevance to this post:

Other posts about intelligence:

  1. The Plame Affair and the Decline of the State, 25 October 2005
  2. The new NIE, another small step in the Decline of the State, 10 December 2007
  3. Another urban legend that will not die: the CIA is the world’s major drug dealer, 11 July 2009
  4. Ignatius proposes “A New Deal for The CIA” – perhaps they should sometimes obey our laws, 21 September 2009
  5. How the Soviet Menace was over-hyped – and what we can learn from this, 13 October 2009
  6. The CIA’s forecast about the Iranian Revolution – and the revolution prediction tool, 6 January 2010
  7. The Flynn report, itself a symptom of deep problems in the government establishment, 11 January 2010

Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below. Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. PC Scipio permalink
    18 January 2010 4:45 am

    Truly wise are your remarks, dear Fabius. The STRAFOR boys always are ex post facto (you recall your Latin, I hope.) And when it comes to non-Western places, they are blind men. We cannot de res know more than the local. That is why the blithering approach we take is both too little and too much. It is too little because we do not wish to understand that to defeat the local means not using a “ju-jitsu” throw, but rather waving a far more attractive and possible approach – that is, play to his most corrupted side, whether revenge, honor-killing, or money (that being the least effective.) I think our appropriate leaders should watch “The Godfather” saga and “Madmen” far more closely to get clues as to how to effect desired change where they wish.

    It is too much because we use a ham-handed know-it-all approach to even using the effective tools that we have. Don Corleone would never tell a village elder that “here is the building we are going to build, and here is where we are going to build it.” So insulting. Rather, he would ask the appropriate leaders where they think it should be built, and what should be built, and then, with their help and the dollars from Uncle Sam going into his pocket, build it.

    Vale, Scipio.
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    FM reply: That’s an interesting analogy with the Mafia. Another maxim of theirs might be useful in nation-building under hostile conditions: “everybody gets a taste.” Make everybody partners, esp those opposed to us (when possible), even if at gunpoint.

    Like

  2. Mongo permalink
    18 January 2010 9:02 am

    I think a strong possibility is that elements of the Pakistani intelligence services might have helped the Taliban in this case. Or at least ex-members of Pakistani intelligence. It definitely sounds like trained operatives were involving in the planning of the bombing operation.

    Like

  3. Highlander permalink
    18 January 2010 5:31 pm

    In my younger years I had a bit of exposure to these types of operations in simular hostile war zone environments. The point here is what actually lead to the CIA’s almost laughable (if it weren’t so tragic) incompetence at the very basics of how to conduct such an operation. Why is this? I assure you the Agency was quite the opposite from laugable in the 60′s and 70′s.

    The on scene commmander of this bloody farce was a female officer of the CIA, we have been told. Was her ascendance to command a result of her uber competence? (The pile of American bodies would tend to say NO!) Or was it perhaps a result of the Clinton’s (Georgie Bush was just as bad in his own way) order to the federal bureaucracy to leap frog promote women and minorities over their white male counter parts in order to have politcally correct outcomes.

    I have been involved with other agencies of the Federal Government with a woman in charge, who was obviously over her level of competence and quite defensive about it. I would question her subordinates about the situation,and they would just shrug and say, “nothing we can say or do about it”. We have 15 years experience she has 4 years, but Washington said she was to be in charge.

    Just one more reason it is getting very late in the day for the American empire.

    PS. Before all you PC whiners start up. I have several female Phds and MBA business owners in my immediate family. But their line of work concerns building and nurturing not targeting and killing (which is what a CIA station chief does). Except in matters of the heart women are no damn good at killing, but Political Correctness has to pretend there is no difference between the sexes. This pile of dead American heros is what Politically Correct thinking gets you. In the future PC caused body piles and defeats, will be a hell of lot bigger than this one!
    .
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    FM reply: You might enjoy reading Martin van Creveld’s great book “Men, Women & War: Do Women Belong in the Front Line?” (2002). FYI — here is the text of President Clinton’s 19 July 1995 Presidential Memorandum about “Evaluation of Affirmative Action Programs”.

    Like

  4. anna nicholas permalink
    18 January 2010 10:37 pm

    Why would you trust the Jordanian handler further than you could throw him ? If you were Jordanian would you have nice , sweet , happy thoughts about Israel and its sponsor , the US ? Probably not .

    Like

  5. anna nicholas permalink
    18 January 2010 10:54 pm

    #3. If the woman commander had been allowed to do this in a woman’s way , she would perhaps have hired a bunch of Chinese Americans and sent them throughout Afgh , wearing burquas , speaking broken Dari ( because they seem to be Chinese ) , and selling purported Uigher magic anti-wrinkle cream and eyeliner . While the target tried on sparkly eyeshadow in her own home , the operative could have shared a cup of coffee and started moaning about her husband / son , as we do . Out all ruddy night , complains Mrs Afgh . He’s away blowing up Kabul next week , and here’s me with a bloody great hole in the roof and the fleeces unsold ..

    Like

  6. Highlander permalink
    19 January 2010 12:28 am

    Dear Ana,

    #5 The dead aren’t laughing.

    Like

  7. A. Scott Crawford permalink
    19 January 2010 2:05 am

    Woe is we running Dog Yankees when the loss of a single CIA analyst is seriously argued to be akin to the sinking of an Aircraft Carrier! But the parallel is worth taking a good long look at if it could be coherently argued to be symptomatic of a broader strategic problem or friction within senior leadership/policy circles (which I personally think it is). Hopefully the next big meeting between military and civilian “intelligence community” honchos will be marked by the brass remembering the relative valuation between the output of a single CIA analyst and an entire carrier group… because then the MI officers will understand “risk” and “threat” as their civilian peers (superiors?) define the concept vis a vis intelligence collection. The Navy might get a lot of things wrong, but at least it knows when NOT to expose its carriers to operational risk when the potential liability is so high…

    Finally, if the policy brain trust is going to define Afghanistan as an “Intelligence” war, then a comprehensive review of the ENTIRE U.S. efforts chain of command seriously needs to be revisited in order to compel the civilian intel and diplomatic components to operate against something resembling performance metrics a la the military, rather than simply allowing failure after failure without any change in management. The last I checked, there’s been a number of military shake-ups that don’t seem to have been undertaken in tandem with senior grade changes at the DoS or within the IC. (But what do I know…. if an ace analyst is worth a carrier, pole climbing within the IC’s bureaucracy must be a lot more demanding than I’ve ever been led to believe).

    Like

  8. atheist permalink
    19 January 2010 10:06 am

    Highlander:

    “Life does not cease being funny when people die, any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”
    –G. B. Shaw

    Like

  9. atheist permalink
    19 January 2010 10:31 am

    FM commenting on Kilcullen: “This is delusional on several levels. First, no outsider can match the knowledge of locals without many years of experience and training. Second, it is backwards. The information advantage lies with our enemies. … Intelligence is one of our inherent weaknesses, not (as usually described) one of our advantages.

    It’s funny, I hear this sort of attitude at my job as well. Kilcullen reminds me of certain very intelligent people that I work with. These smart people say, “Our operations has to be done like this.”, ignoring the fact that operations has never been like that, and changing things would take a lot of work. They often preface the statement with, “When I was at this other company/When I was in the Marines/When I got my MBA… the kind of system you have here would never have been acceptable.”

    When they say these things to me, I never know how to respond. I know I can sometimes be too cynical, too lazy. So I usually don’t vocalize what I’m thinking, which is: “Yes, but you aren’t at that other company/in the Marines/getting your MBA. Your in the place you’re in, and we have a specific corporate culture. We’re not losing customers. So why not work with it instead of trying to change it?”

    Anyhow, sage point about our inherent intelligence disadvantage.
    .
    .
    FM reply: Great comment! Why do you think people — even experts — applauded that article? My guess is belief in American exceptionalism (as in We’re #1, and can do anything!). But that’s just a WAG.

    Like

  10. 19 January 2010 11:00 am

    Security Guard Companies are increasing day by day as the people who are living in terror needs special security services.

    http://www.guardstogo.com/

    Like

  11. Highlander permalink
    19 January 2010 4:35 pm

    #8 – Atheist,

    Mr Shaw was without a doubt a clever and talented man, but I bet he never put any of his comrades in body bags.

    Incidentially, as I post this in a public library deep in the Georgia Blue Ridge mountains. There is a young middle eastern appearing man next to me on a jhadi web site, that describes various forms of “do it yourself violence”,which can be applied to you and me. Forget about the gates. The barbarians are already inside.
    .
    .
    FM reply: This is, of course, one of our great fears (collective, although not shared by everybody). There’s little evidence of violent jihadist feeling in the US, perhaps due to our ability to assimulate minorities. There is considerable evidence it might become a serious threat in Europe.

    The second threat is distinct from yet commonly confused with the first — the threat to our culture. Our ruling elites value only power, and so tell us that defending our culture is an illegitimate goal (much as is raising one’s children to follow one’s beliefs), many people still consider this important. Thomas Frank’s book “What’s wrong with Kansas” is a fine demonstration of this, deploring the ignorant masses valuing their spiritual beliefs above their material interests.

    Like

  12. anna nicholas permalink
    19 January 2010 11:26 pm

    # I was not intending disrespect to the dead , but to answer the point that a woman should not have been in charge of that unit .( I agree; if she had schoolage kids , she should not have been in the CIA or Army.) But she was having to work within a male version of Intel . A female version of Intel ( and loyalty to policy ) might be very different .

    Like

  13. atheist permalink
    20 January 2010 12:58 am

    From FM in #11 “The second threat is distinct from yet commonly confused with the first — the threat to our culture. Our ruling elites value only power, and so tell us that defending our culture is an illegitimate goal (much as is raising one’s children to follow one’s beliefs), many people still consider this important. Thomas Frank’s book “What’s wrong with Kansas” is a fine demonstration of this, deploring the ignorant masses valuing their spiritual beliefs above their material interests.”

    You are of course right. But what is sometimes forgotten is that every culture war has at least two sides. And both of them are warring because at base both of them agree with you… they care about culture! or they would not fight. They care for vain reasons as well as for good reasons. Who can tell which is which?

    Also, do you know that left wingers believe that the elites are really looking down on them? The liberals think the elites are stirring up ignorant hatred against them, among the masses, as a way for the elites to preserve their own power. The conservatives think the elites created liberal beliefs as a way of wasting their time & stealing their mojo, so the elites can preserve their power… or something like that.

    What interests me is that everyone feels looked down upon by elites.
    .
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    FM reply: This is IMO confused. In what way does Frank’s book support your theory?

    “they care about culture! or they would not fight”

    No, that’s the opposite of what I’m saying. Some groups care about power and wealth, and not at all about culture. For example, I recommend reading Christopher Lasch’s last book “The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy” (1996).

    Like

  14. Highlander permalink
    20 January 2010 8:02 am

    The fact of the matter is. The ruling elites are well along the way to abandoning the concept of our sovereign nation state(that would be the old USA)for some touchy feely “kumbaya” concept of world government.

    You might say the elites(a few I know personally) are very close to becoming disloyal traitors to the rest of America. Excepting of course the liberals, who are just a little bit shaky on the concept of loyalty to America also.

    Where is Augustus or Diocletian when we need them? Will it come to that?
    .
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    FM reply: I strongly recommend reading Christopher Lasch’s last book “The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy” (1996).

    Like

  15. atheist permalink
    20 January 2010 12:13 pm

    From FM in #13 “This is IMO confused. In what way does Frank’s book support your theory? “they care about culture! or they would not fight” No, that’s the opposite of what I’m saying. Some groups care about power and wealth, and not at all about culture.

    Fabius, unfortunately I’ve not read Frank’s book. From what I’ve heard about it, you are right, it focuses on how conservative beliefs make the public act against their own interests and asks why they do this. Your retort, that perhaps the public cares more about culture and spirituality than their own material interest, makes sense… economic interest isn’t everything. Culture is valuable, it makes sense to defend it if you perceive it as being attacked.

    What intersted me was that you appeared to be describing a narrative like: “The masses fight for their (conservative?) culture, the (“liberal”?) elites couldn’t care less about culture, and only want power. So the masses fight them.

    I say “liberal” elites because that’s the current style, to use that phrase. Did I under stand what you were saying?

    What I was then doing was writing another narrative, one which I hear from left-wingers when they start thinking big-picture, which goes something like this: “The people fight for their (left) culture. The elites only want power, and consider this (left) culture threatening. These elites use propaganda to create a (right) counter-faction. The (left) people have to fight this (right) counter-faction, created by the elites.”

    The “Elites” then morph from “Liberal” Elites to “Right-Wing” Elites.
    .
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    FM reply: I refer only to our ruling elites, which are not esp liberal or conservative — although there are factions. The liberal and conservative elements of the public are distinct from them. Often pawns of them, as the Bush Jr and Obama Administrations have brazenly demonstrateed..

    “public cares more about culture and spirituality than their own material interest”

    I rephrase this as “people care about their culture AND their material interest.

    Like

  16. Highlander permalink
    21 January 2010 12:11 am

    I have read Frank’s book. He expresses his chagrin at the people of Kansas(Fly Over America)for their inability to recognize the fact that Democrats have their economic interest at heart. And the “mean old Republicans,personified by Dick Cheney” could care less about the Middle Class’s well being.(Probably a good bit of truth in the statement).

    What Mr Frank and his fellow liberals miss is the spiritual and patriotic world view of the people who make up Middle America.

    A liberal like Mr Frank is essentially a Spiritual and Pariotic dead zone( like our national elites). Therefore most of his solutions have to concern material things,to the exclusion of the cultural dynamic. The people of Kansas don’t buy that their culture doesn’t matter.

    Quite often,a Mr Frank tries to substitute some weirded out worship of Mother Earth(“look at how righteous I am, because I am sooo Green!) as an attempt at a personal theology. The folks in Kansas aren’t buying that either. The same goes for Mr Frank’s smug and condescending view of America as the “always wrong one on the world stage”. Mr Frank is clueless as to why anyone could object to a Mother’s absolute right to murder her unborn child.”It’s only a human life…not like it was some valuable plant child of Mother Earth”. Kansas has a large catholic population.

    The ironic part of all of this is the fact that the Mr Cheneys and Bushie Boys of our country are probably almost as spritually dead and materialistic(They tend to be an Episcopalian crowd) as Mr Frank. They just know better than to show it to the people of Kansas.

    As for loving and protecting America, the Mr Franks would conduct a “Blue Light Special” on the country tomorrow if they could. But the Bushies and Cheney are savvy business people, and they and the Republican Establishment are slowly and methodically conducting a very orderly and profitable sell out of the nation to various and sundry high bidders..They learned in business school you have to protect the brand until the sell out is completed.

    Like

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