Tag Archives: assassination

Obama’s last gift to America: a global assassination program

Summary: One of Obama’s legacies is the normalization of assassination, despite its 8 years of failure. As a parting gift to America he expanded the powers and scope of our assassins. Bet on Trump to expand the program, both in the number of killings and the scale of its failure. We’re trying to set the world on fire. Perhaps we will succeed.

It’s America’s new logo!Team Assassin: the new American logo

The Left’s amnesia about their Nobel Peace Prize President

“The demagogue who promised to kill terrorists along with their families is moving his own family into the presidential palace.”

— David Runciman (Prof History, Cambridge) in “Is this how democracy ends?“, London Review of Books, 1 December 2016.

Professor Runciman’s amnesia is astonishing since as he write Obama was giving a last gift to America, expanding the power and scope of the assassination program. “Obama administration expands elite military unit’s powers to hunt foreign fighters globally“. “Obama Expands War With Al Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia“. After eight years of assassination the jihadist insurgency is stronger than when he was first elected. So the rules of our mad War on Terror require that America double down on failure.

How did we get here?

Following decades of direct and indirect assassinations programs by the US during the Cold War, political assassinations were banned by President Ford’s Executive Order 11905 on United States Foreign Intelligence Activities, 18 February 1976. Carter’s Executive Order 12036 forbids indirect U.S. involvement in assassinations. Reagan’s EO 12333 reiterated these prohibitions.

The “war on terror” slowly rolled these back. On 24 December 1998 President Clinton signed a Memorandum of Notification authorizing the CIA to assassinate Bin Laden (CIA officials lied to the 9/11 Commission about this). In the days after 9/11, President Bush Jr. signed a “Finding” authorizing the CIA to kill bin Laden.

Obama began authorizing assassinations soon after becoming President. These eventually became a formal kill list, known by the Orwellian term “disposition matrix.” The Most Transparent Administration Ever™ has kept the process shrouded in secrecy. We can guess at its logic by one detail they’ve revealed: all military-age males killed are considered combatants (the same logic that inflated “body counts” during the Vietnam War).

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Stratfor: A Small Blow to the Taliban, a Big Blow to US-Pakistani Trust

Summary: The hit on Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was another short term tactical win in our long war, achieved (like so many others) at a high cost to our long-term strategic position.  It’s why we’ve fought the long war since 9/11 with most bad results. Here Stratfor looks at the details of this successful assassination, and predicts its small fruits. This is a follow-up to Another assassination of a jihadist leader. Here’s what comes next…

The late John Boyd (Colonel, USAF) said that grand strategy focused a nation’s actions to  increase its solidarity and internal cohesion, weaken opponents’ resolve and internal cohesion, strengthen relationships with allies’ and attract uncommitted states — to end conflicts on favorable terms without sowing seeds for future conflicts. (From “Patterns of Conflict”, slide 139).

Stratfor

A Blow to the Taliban and to U.S.-Pakistani Trust
Stratfor, 24 May 2016

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has fluctuated between tenuous cooperation and rampant discord. During the Cold War, Washington strengthened ties with Islamabad, doling out more than $3 billion in aid to Pakistan to arm the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. After a period of relative inactivity between the nations during the 1990s, the 9/11 attacks prompted Washington to reinvigorate ties with Islamabad once again. On Monday, the current state of the relationship between the two nations was put to the test when U.S. President Barack Obama announced that a drone strike in Pakistan’s Balochistan province killed the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

The strike comes at a precarious moment for bilateral ties between the United States and Pakistan. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would block $450 million in funding to Pakistan. Alleging that Pakistan has been a duplicitous ally in counterterrorism operations, a bipartisan group of representatives has argued that until Islamabad prosecutes a more vigorous and consistent strategy against militants within its borders, U.S. aid should be restricted.

In another sign of the shaky trust between the nations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry did not contact Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif about the strike until after it occurred, demonstrating that Washington does not have faith in Islamabad’s reliability in coordinating such high-level strikes. (Similarly, the United States informed Pakistan about the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden only after the fact.)

Pakistan’s response to the U.S. action was tempered, yet firm. Sharif stopped short of confirming Mullah Mansoor’s death, saying that authorities needed to complete their investigation, but the prime minister emphasized that the strike was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. U.S. drone strikes are very unpopular among Pakistanis, and Sharif’s response was not unexpected. Of the 391 American drone strikes conducted inside Pakistan since 2004, this is the first to take place in Balochistan, the country’s largest province.

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Another assassination of a jihadist leader. Here’s what comes next…

Summary: Another week, another assassination of a top jihadist leader, the usual glowing stories in the news. Next comes amnesia, as the wonderful results fail to appear — and the jihadist movement continues to spread across the world. Perhaps someday we will connect the dots and learn the ineffectiveness of this tactic (part of the larger inability of foreign armies to defeat local insurgencies).

“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”
— From “Step 2: A Promise of Hope” by James Jensen, a Narcotics Anonymous pamphlet published by the Hazelden Foundation (1980).

New CIA Logo

Reuters: “Afghan Taliban meets on succession
after U.S. drones target leader

“The Afghan Taliban’s leadership council met on Sunday to start considering succession after a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan targeted its commander …The strike targeting Mullah Akhtar Mansour on Saturday was perhaps the most high-profile U.S. incursion into Pakistan since the 2011 raid to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and sparked a protest by Islamabad that its sovereignty had been violated.”

How many times have we read such headlines since 9/11? Many times. How many jihadist leaders have we assassinated since 9/11? Many. With what effect? We have created martyrs and convince increasing numbers of the Islamic peoples that America is Skynet, an evil entity sending killers from the sky. Al Qaeda has become a global franchise. Its Islamic State spin-off has become a proto-state in Syria and Iraq (albeit a besieged one). Africom is rapidly expanding to chase multiplying insurgencies (e.g., in Mali, in Nigeria).

No matter how small the results, journalists (aka DoD’s stenographers) report each as a major accomplishment from which great things are expected. Journalists write these stories because we do not learn. Otherwise we would laugh at them — which is poison to media narratives.

Reuters (best of breed in news) strikes a realistic note at the end of the article.

A second U.S. intelligence official was more pessimistic. “It’s at least equally likely that killing Mansour will destroy any chance to get the Taliban into negotiations with the (Afghan) government, not that there ever was much of one,” said the second official, who specializes in South Asia and also spoke on the condition of anonymity. “His successor could be even more loathe to negotiate.”

Also note that this hit marks another expansion of the drone campaign by our Nobel Peace Prize President.

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14 years of assassinations: Stratfor describes the result

Summary: Slowly America’s geopolitical leaders see the futility of the assassination programs which are one of the three tools we rely on to win the Long War that began with 9/11 and President Bush’s imperial surge which followed (bombing and local militia are the other two, also failures). In this article Stratfor describes the meger results achieved by 14 years of assassinations. Perhaps soon they’ll see the Darwinian Ratchet.

Stratfor

The Lives of Jihadist Leaders Drop in Value

By Scott Stewart of Stratfor, 6 August 2015

Much has been written since the July 30 confirmation that the Taliban’s longtime leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, died two years ago. Most of the discussion has focused on the future of the Taliban movement, the impact of his death on the al Qaeda core — which had pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar as Amir al-Mu’minin, or “commander of the faithful,” — and of course, the Islamic State’s efforts to take advantage of Mullah Omar’s death.

Certainly, the announcement has caused existing rifts among the various factions of the Taliban to become more pronounced. But these divisions have always existed, and the Taliban have long been anything but a cohesive, unified organization. The announcement also became fodder for a massive Twitter campaign by the Islamic State “Twitteratti,” who are seeking to exploit the intentional deception of the Taliban cadres who sought to hide Mullah Omar’s death. The Islamic State had publicly challenged the Taliban to publish proof of life for Mullah Omar, suggesting that word of the Talban leader’s death had leaked. This likely forced the Taliban to admit that he was dead.

Islamic State gloating aside, I personally doubt we will witness the same scale of defections from the al Qaeda orbit of the jihadist universe that we did after the declaration of the caliphate last year. This is because the battle lines in the al Qaeda vs. Islamic State fight for the heart of the global jihad have become well established, and much of the shine has worn off the Islamic State’s claim to be an inexorable force.

From my perspective, the more interesting aspect of the announcement of Mullah Omar’s demise is that he had been dead since April 2013, but nobody really missed him. Concealing someone’s death for one “Weekend at Bernie’s” is one thing, but maintaining such a ruse for two years is quite another.

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Attacks by Muslims in America start a new phase in our long war

Summary: The recent surge in attacks by Muslims in America mark a new phase in our long war, one long predicted and potentially horrific. We have run wild killing at will in the Middle East. Here are some thoughts about the consequences of this inevitable blowback.

Flames of War Propaganda Video

 

Contents

  1. Blowback.
  2. Escalation.
  3. Muslim violence.
  4. For More Info.
  5. Preparation.

(1)  Blowback

Slowly, a new phase in our long war has begun. While we continue operations in Afghanistan, reenter Iraq, look for ways to get involved in Syria in Ukraine, and expand our involvement in Africa — the blowback I (and many others) predicted has begun with attacks in the “homeland”. On Thursday morning Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez (24) shot four U.S. Marines at a military recruiting center and a Navy training reserve center in Chattanooga, TN. It wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last.

On 1 June 2009, Carlos Bledsoe killed 23-year-old Pvt. William Long and wounded 18-year-old Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula at an Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas. The best-known case is, of course, Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 and wounded 32 at Fort Hood, TX, on 5 November 2009. Since then there have been other attacks by Muslims on members of western military forces.

This year has seen a pick-up in our foe’s activities in America. In April Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud was indicted for planning to attack a (unstated) US military base. Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud planned to attack a base in Texas.  Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez killed 4 Marines and a Navy sailor at Chattanooga TN. Glen Greenwald describes other attacks

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Darwin explains the futility of killing insurgents. It makes them more effective.

Summary: During the past decade we have deployed our most skilled warriors and most advanced technology in an assassination program with few precedents in history. Result: the Middle East in flames and our foes resurgent. I and others predicted this, the natural result of putting the force of evolution to work for our foes. It’s called the Darwinian Ratchet. It’s a well-known concept in science, but one we prefer not to see. Victory remains impossible until we overcome our inability to learn this and other basics of modern warfare.  This is cross-posted on Martin van Creveld’s website; he described this as “absolutely fascinating.”

“What does not kill him, makes him stronger.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche in Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is (1888).

Ratchet

Contents

  1. Our learning disability
  2. Biologists explain the Darwinian Ratchet.
  3. The Darwinian Ratchet at work in war.
  4. Conclusion
  5. For More Information.
  6. An insurgent’s theme song.

(1) Our learning disability

The great mystery of our post-9/11 wars is our inability to learn from history and our own experience. My previous post discussed one aspect of this: our blindness to the consistent failure since WWII of foreign armies fighting insurgents. Another aspect is what Martin van Creveld calls the “power of weakness”. This essay discusses a third aspect, how an insurgency brings into play a “Darwinian ratchet” in which our efforts empower an insurgency.

This post shows the origin and history of the “ratchet” concept and its slow recognition by American geopolitical and military leaders. But there are no answers to our inability to adapt our tactics to the ratchet, just as there are none for our failure to learn from the history of insurgencies (as explained in Why the West loses so many wars, and how we can learn to win).

(2) Biologists Explain the Darwinian Ratchet

It’s an old concept in biology, first developed by Herman Muller in his famous 1932 article “Some genetic aspects of sex”. We’re personally experience the Darwinian ratchet when we take antibiotics in too-low doses or for too short a time, creating a colony of slightly drug-resistant bacteria. When done by a society we breed superbugs, as Nathan Taylor explains in “What are the risks of a global pandemic?“ (Praxtime, 23 March 2013).

“The genetics of disease resistance are worth discussing here. We can think of resistance to disease as an arms race. As a population gets exposed to more and more diseases, a darwinian ratchet effect occurs, and only those with stronger immune systems survive.”

The literature of biology and medicine has many articles about the Darwinian ratchet, ranging from complex (Alexander Riegler’s “The Ratchet Effect as a Fundamental Principle in Evolution and Cognition”, Cybernetics and Systems, 2001) to the incomprehensible. The concept has spread to other fields, as in William H. Calvin’s The Cerebral Code: Thinking a Thought in the Mosaics of the Mind (1996).

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Stratfor asks Why al Qaeda survives the assassination of its leaders?

Summary: Stratfor gives an answer to an oddity of US geopolitical strategy. We have killed so many enemy leaders, yet the flames of fundamentalist Islam continue to spread. See the links at the end for other explanations. But the answers matter not, as our foreign wars run beyond beyond logic — and beyond our control.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Stratfor

Why Ideologies Outlive Ideologues

By Scott Stewart at Stratfor, 18 June 2015

“Killing ideologies is harder than killing people.” Last week I made this statement when I was writing about how the al Qaeda form — or brand — of jihadism should not be written off as dead. It is quite possible that the al Qaeda brand of jihadism could even outlast that of its competitor for jihadist hearts and minds: the Islamic State.

The following points are among the several I made to support this argument: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been able to gain considerable strength in Yemen’s current chaos, and high-profile Sahel-based jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar recently denied that he had sworn loyalty to the Islamic State.

However, these particular considerations seemed to dissolve this week when Libyan government officials announced that Belmokhtar had been killed by a U.S. airstrike June 14 and when Yemeni sources noted that the leader of AQAP, Nasir al-Wahayshi, had been killed by a U.S. airstrike June 9.

The death of Belmokhtar has not been confirmed. Jihadists associated with the Libyan militant group Ansar al-Sharia, which was reportedly involved in the attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi in 2012, provided a list of those killed in the airstrike in Libya that did not include Belmokhtar. It appears that Belmokhtar may once again have escaped an attack that was reported to have taken his life.

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