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Recommended Reading

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a "zen"]


Top Billing! The Hill (Laurie Blank) Asymmetries and proportionalities 

….There is no doubt that, after an attack, the urge to simply count up the casualties and declare a war crime is powerful. However, an effects-based analysis — that is, using the numbers of casualties and extent of destruction to make legal claims — is simply incorrect. The law does not require that commanders be right all the time. The law also does not require perfect accuracy in targeting. But it does require extensive steps to protect civilians and reasonable judgments about the potential harm to civilians and the actions needed to minimize that harm.

This methodology is not designed to give militaries a free pass for causing civilian deaths. In fact, judging the legality of an attack solely on the actual effects of that attack actually does far less in the end to protect civilians from suffering during war.

First, an effects-based analysis gives commanders no way to know, at the time of the attack, how to determine the parameters of lawful conduct. Many commanders might well simply disregard the law entirely as no longer relevant — an invitation to unrestricted warfare and much greater harm to civilians. It is undoubtedly more protective to follow the law of war’s central obligations: attack only military objectives; refrain from indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks; and take precautions to minimize harm to civilians through choice of weapons, provision of warnings and other steps.

Second, a focus on effects incentivizes the enemy to simply surround itself with civilians in every conceivable location and circumstance, effectively guaranteeing greater civilian casualties and increased civilian suffering. As the United Nations Secretary General has reported, along with media around the world, Hamas does exactly that, storing weapons in schools, hospitals and mosques and locating tunnels under residential houses, mosques and other civilian property.

Importantly, Hamas’s use of the civilian population as a shield — a blatant violation of the law of war — does not in any way absolve Israel of its obligations to comply with the law’s fundamental obligations to protect civilians, including the principle of proportionality. But the effects-based analysis, or numbers game, not only minimizes Hamas’s legal responsibility for such civilian harm, but actually rewards it for exploiting the law’s protections for civilians by suggesting — wrongly — that every civilian death in Gaza is an Israeli war crime.

CICERORussell Crandall on COIN and America’s Dirty Wars 

How much of the problem is the lack of political or popular will for Vietnam-style counterinsurgencies, versus one of force posture or the mentality of our military/armed forces, which seems more enthralled and better suited to fight conventional wars?

This might sound evasive, but I think the key element in any particular case of American involvement is that “it all depends”. Political will and popular support can certainly help America prosecute these types of wars but the ongoing case of Afghanistan shows that this alone does not ensure success. It is fascinating to see how episodic the U.S. military understanding and embrace of irregular warfare has been over two centuries. The default has been that these dirty wars are aberrations that the military will fight only if it must. Following Iraq the new COIN philosophy assumed that the murky realm of irregular warfare would be the default conflict and was thereby embraced. But now a new sobriety is questioning this fidelity. What this suggests is how either knowingly or otherwise recent events weigh on our understanding of the past, present, and future. If Iraq and Afghanistan had been the cakewalks they appeared to be in their initial phases, our understanding of America’s ability to influence irregular warfare would be decidedly different. Yet the difference between cakewalk and quagmire in these two cases was remarkably thin.

CIMSEC – The Geographic limits of National Power 

….Afghanistan’s false reputation as a “graveyard of empire” comes not so much from it’s inhabitants who seem to habitually resist any attempts at outside control, but rather the problem of maintaining a large force in such a remote region. Western armies from Alexander the Great to the present U.S. and NATO force in the country have had to create a long, tortuous, and expensive supply line into or though Afghanistan in order to sustain their military operations there  or in adjacent lands. Alexander, British imperial forces in three wars, and now American and NATO forces have always crushed Afghan resistance and have been able to maintain a reasonable amount of control within the region. They have departed only when deprived of the economic support that provides the technological edge to their warfighting and logistics capabilities. A nation can maintain an army of many thousands in Afghanistan, provided that power or group of powers is willing to fly in supplies or negotiate their delivery through unfriendly states over long and difficult overland routes. Now that financial support for the technological effort necessary to sustain a large Western force in Afghanistan is failing, the limits of geography are again re-imposing themselves on the remote Central Asian region.

LAWFARE (Charlie Dunlap)- Book Review: Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates 

….Curiously, Gates never seems to question in any depth a doctrine for American troops that, among other things, cites French counterinsurgency theorist David Galula’s call for each soldier to become a “social worker, a civil engineer, a school teacher, a nurse, [and] a boy scout.” Exactly why Gates or anyone else thought that mostly high-school educated infantrymen–however earnest and valorous–were supposed to be focused on soldiering and also perform a set of divergent tasks that could stymie an army of PhDs is not explained in Duty. Implementing the counter-insurgency doctrine meant that Gates gave the U.S. military the Sisyphean task of trying to fundamentally reconfigure the hostile, alien cultures in Iraq and, later, in Afghanistan into countries congenial to Western sensibilities and purged of terrorists. (Regrettably, the terrorists rather easily outflanked Gates’ strategy by metastasizing into Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and elsewhere.)

The Scholar’s Stage – The Next 40 Years in Twelve Hundred Words and Quantum Libraries

The Bridge – The Role of Nuclear Weapons in National Security 

Slightly East of New - Centers of Gravity – Do they Still Matter?

War on the Rocks (Frank Hoffman) -ON NOT-SO-NEW WARFARE: POLITICAL WARFARE VS HYBRID THREATS 

Global Guerrillas – Bot Dominance 

Adam Elkus - Bad Intentions

SWJ (Gary Anderson) -Solving Iraq’s Constitutional Problems: The Hard Way

Aim of Education by Paul Yingling 

TDAXP annihilates an author before praising him

POLITICOHow the Left took over the Democratic Party 

Presentation Zen -Story structure, simplicity, & hacking away at the unessential and 7 things good communicators must not do 

That’s it.

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Recommended Readings, hipbone version

Monday, July 14th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- Andrew Bacevich on the "religion" lesson, with Tim Furnish on the eschatology of the "caliphate" as a chaser ]
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Here’s Andrew Bacevich with a provocative piece titled Lessons from America’s War for the Greater Middle East — of which it is the tenth that most interests me personally:

Tenth, religion.

No single explanation exists for why the War for the Greater Middle East began and why it persists. But religion figures as a central element.

Secularized American elites either cannot grasp or are unwilling to accept this. So they contrive alternative explanations such as “terrorism,” a justification that impedes understanding.

Our leaders can proclaim their high regard for Islam until they are blue in the face. They can insist over and over that we are not at war with Islam. Their claims will fall on deaf ears through much of the Greater Middle East.

Whatever Washington’s intentions, we are engaged in a religious war. That is, the ongoing war has an ineradicable religious dimension. That’s the way a few hundred million Muslims see it and their seeing it in those terms makes it so.

The beginning of wisdom is found not in denying that the war is about religion but in acknowledging that war cannot provide an antidote to the fix we have foolishly gotten ourselves into.

Does the Islamic world pose something of a problem for the United States? You bet, in all sorts of ways. But after more than three decades of trying, it’s pretty clear that the application of military power is unlikely to provide a solution. The solution, if there is one, will be found by looking beyond the military realm — which just might be the biggest lesson our experience with the War for the Greater Middle East ought to teach.

And furthermore…

Timothy Furnish has a detailed post up about Dabiq magazine and its end-times implications:

New Islamic State Magazine: We’re On the Eve of Destruction

Since the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [Greater Syria] declared the resurrection of the caliphate a few weeks ago, analysts and journalists have focused on the ramifications of that putative political office for the Islamic world. However, at the start of Ramadan the new “Islamic State” and its caliph attempted to move the propaganda needle from the merely realpolitickally ridiculous to the apocalyptically awe-inspiring — by invoking Muslim eschatological traditions.

[ .. ]

The writers credit the late Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi, decapitator extraordinaire of the IS[IS] predecessor organization the Islamic State in Iraq, with first linking the jihad there to the End Time battle at Dabiq. Also, Dabiq has several pages extolling al-Zarqawi’s virtues and strategic vision for rec-creating the caliphate via these stages: 1) hijrah 2) jama`ah 3) destabilizing the taghut 4) tamkin 5) khilafah. The original hijrah was the “flight” of Muhammad and the small Muslim community from Mecca to Yathrib/Medina in 622 AD. Ever since, this exploit has served as an example for groups of Muslims who deem their society and/or rulers insufficiently pious and who thus repeat the paradigm of flee, consolidate power and return to conquer. Jama`ah is “community,” the expected group solidarity that hardens during hijrah. Such a community then must act to undermine the tyrannical regime(s), the taghut (literally “despots” or “gorillas”). As the oppressive rulers are rendered illegitimate via jihad and tuwwahhush (literally “savagery” or “brutality”), controlling less and less territory, the true Muslims will be able to consolidate power (tamkin), ultimately leading to the caliphate—as IS[IS] has now proclaimed. This rising new Muslim power “will trample the idol of nationalism, destroy the idol of democracy” and trigger the “demolition of Sykes-Picot” (the World War I British-French agreement which laid out plans for those two nations to rule over the Arab sections of the post-war Ottoman Empire). This five-step program for attaining power can be repeated elsewhere — notably Yemen, Mali, Somalia, Sinai Peninsula, Waziristan, Libya, Chechnya, and Nigeria, as well as in certain areas of of Tunisia, Algeria, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Dabiq also takes a number of pages to lay out an Islamic theological basis for the political power being claimed by “Caliph” Ibrahim. …

Furnish doesn’t address the Mahdist connection I made via the two hadith in an older post by Will McCants on Jihadica in which the Mahdi’s arrival is presaged by the death of the caliph, but offers a different emphasis in which al-Baghdadi himself might receive recognition as the Mahdi..

I’m sure more good readings will catch my eye as soon as I post this — but for now, that’s it from me.

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Dabiq magazine: an end-times reference from the IS “Caliphate”

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- the new caliphate has a new magazine hot off the presses, and it's bookended with apocalyptic hadith ]
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A new caliphate’s new magazine demands a new name — and on this occasion the name chosen carries a very specific end-times connotation:

As for the name of the magazine, then it is taken from the area named Dabiq in the northern countryside of Halab (Aleppo) in Sham. This place was mentioned in a hadith describing some of the events of the Malahim (what is sometimes referred to as Armageddon in English). One of the greatest battles between the Muslims and the crusaders will take place near Dabiq.

So there you have it in a nutshell — the IS caliphate announced their arrival with the first issue of a magazine named specifically for an impending battle associated with Armageddon.

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To give those they seek to recruit to the cause more detail, the extended hadith is then narrated:

Abu Hurayrah reported that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,

“The Hour will not be established until the Romans land at al-A’maq or Dabiq (two places near each other in the northern countryside of Halab). Then an army from al-Madinah of the best people on the earth at that time will leave for them.

When they line up in ranks, the Romans will say, ‘Leave us and those who were taken as prisoners from amongst us so we can fight them.’ The Muslims will say, ‘Nay, by Allah, we will not abandon our brothers to you.’ So they will fight them.

Then one third of them will flee; Allah will never forgive them. One third will be killed; they will be the best martyrs with Allah. And one third will conquer them; they will never be afflicted with fitnah. Then they will conquer Constantinople.

While they are dividing the war booty, having hung their swords on olive trees, Shaytan will shout, ‘The [false] Messiah has followed after your families [who were left behind.]’ So they will leave [for their families], but Shaytan’s claim is false.

When they arrive to Sham he comes out. Then while they are preparing for battle and filing their ranks, the prayer is called. So ‘Isa Ibn Maryam (‘alayhis-Salam) will descend and lead them.

When the enemy of Allah sees him, he will melt as salt melts in water. If he were to leave him, he would melt until he perished, but he kills him with his own hand, and then shows them his blood upon his spear” [Sahih Muslim].

**

The magazine next cites Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi:

Shaykh Abu Mus’ab az-Zarqawi (rahimahullah) anticipated the expansion of the blessed jihad from Iraq into Sham and linked it to this hadith saying,

“The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify -– by Allah’s permission -– until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq” [Ayna Ahlul-Muru’at].

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Finally, the editorial concludes:

According to the hadith, the area will play a historical role in the battles leading up to the conquests of Constantinople, then Rome. Presently, Dabiq is under the control of crusaderbacked sahwat, close to the warfront between them and the Khilafah.

May Allah purify Dabiq from the treachery of the sahwah and raise the flag of the Khilafah over its land. Amin.

**

You thought, perhaps, that those who put forth the magazine were kidding about Dabiq as the location of an end-times battle, sometime shortly after which Jesus [the son of Mary -- ‘Isa Ibn Maryam] will descend? On the 50th and final page of the magazine, the entire long hadith that graced page 4 is repeated — with, hey, different paragraph breaks to provide a little novelty:

Abu Hurayrah reported that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,

“The Hour will not be established until the Romans land at al-A’maq or Dabiq (two places near each other in the northern countryside of Halab).

Then an army from al-Madinah of the best people on the earth at that time will leave for them. When they line up in ranks, the Romans will say, ‘Leave us and those who were taken as prisoners from amongst us so we can fight them.’

The Muslims will say, ‘Nay, by Allah, we will not abandon our brothers to you.’ So they will fight them.

Then one third of them will flee; Allah will never forgive them. One third will be killed; they will be the best martyrs with Allah. And one third will conquer them; they will never be afflicted with fitnah.

Then they will conquer Constantinople. While they are dividing the war booty, having hung their swords on olive trees, Shaytan will shout, ‘The [false] Messiah has followed after your families [who were left behind.]’ So they will leave [for their families], but Shaytan’s claim is false. When they arrive to Sham he comes out.

Then while they are preparing for battle and filing their ranks, the prayer is called. So ‘Isa Ibn Maryam (‘alayhis-Salam) will descend and lead them.

When the enemy of Allah sees him, he will melt as salt melts in water. If he were to leave him, he would melt until he perished, but he kills him with his own hand, and then shows them his blood upon his spear.” [Sahih Muslim]

The IS Baghdadi caliphate is part and parcel of the end-times, apocalyptic, Armageddon-style war as understood in one strand [see David Cook's books, below] of Islamic eschatology…

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Recommended readings:

  • JP Filiu, Apocalypse in Islam
  • David Cook, Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic
  • David Cook, Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature
  • Timothy Furnish, Holiest Wars
  • Richard Landes, Heaven on Earth
  • **

    Quote from Baghdadi: 'The Muslims today have a loud, thundering statement, and possess heavy boots.'

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    Recommended Readings, hipbone version

    Monday, June 30th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- two superb pieces this week on Iraq and ISIS, deserving of a slow and grateful reading -- and a third on IS, the "caliphate" into which ISIS renamed itself just today ]
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    Peter J. Munson leads off my list with a wide-angle piece titled Iraq and the City of Man at War on the Rocks. It was the first of three terrific posts to catch my eye this week. Munson begins:

    Humans have been storytellers since time immemorial. Stories are how we make sense of our world. We reduce complex events to digestible, quite often self-indulgent, narratives. I heard one of those the other week when, speaking at a public change of command, Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos said, “If I were to give us a letter grade for Afghanistan… I’d say we did pretty darn good.” He paused, considering his words, and continued, “Iraq is going to turn out how it is going to turn out, but we sanctified the ground there. We sanctified the ground in Afghanistan…”

    Munson is by no means so sure.

    Blood and sacrifice are the key words of Munson’s piece, the blood sacrifices of so many American and allied soldiers, so many locals…

    He continues:

    One might imagine that with our blood, we purified the ground. There were certainly enough cases in which the cause of death was exsanguination. Disembodiment — a euphemism for death in a blast so violent that it resulted in the proverbial pink mist — must have also had a role in sanctification then, too. We are moved deeply and forever changed by the many selfless sacrifices that occurred on these grounds. In the end, though, most of these sacrifices came down to random pieces of bad luck that were never seen coming and nothing could have been done to avoid. Under the sun, especially the brutal, incessant sun of Mesopotamia

    A broad-sweep evaluation of recent Iraqi history follows:

    Once-routine, even cordial sectarian intermixing quickly fell apart as the extreme violence of a minority forced segregation and xenophobia. From 2004 through 2008, Iraq descended into chaos, even as over 100,000 American and coalition troops fanned out into the cities to keep the peace and kill the killers. When a fragile calm began to return, some imagined that eventually things would turn out livable.

    This is what we all hoped for. Closure. Validation. Peace. Sanctity. Humans reach for the City of God, but it is not to be had here on Earth. As Augustine wrote, “the earthly city is generally divided against itself by litigation, by wars, by battles, by the pursuit of victories that bring death with them or at best are doomed to death.” The city of man:

    desires an earthly peace… and it is that peace which it longs to attain by making war. For if it wins the war and no one survives to resist, then there will be peace, which the warring sections did not enjoy when they contended in their unhappy poverty for the things which they both could not possess at the same time. This peace is the aim of wars, with all their hardships; it is this peace that glorious victory (so called) achieves.

    There’s something deep, even timeless, about setting contemporary conflicts in the context of Thucydides or Augustine — more so, perhaps, than by reference to Clausewitz or Sun Tzu.

    Munson’s article is moving, necessary.

    **

    Zeroing in on current trends, Aaron Zelin‘s The War Between ISIS and al-Qaeda for Supremacy of the Global Jihadist Movement is the definitive backgrounder on its topic:

    Since the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) shot into the news after its takeover
    of Mosul, many have been confused over how to describe the group in relation to al-Qaeda,1the global jihadist organization best known for its audacious terror attacks against the West from the late 1990s through the mid-2000s. Relations between ISIS — and its prior incarnations, to be discussed — and al-Qaeda have been fraught with distrust, open competition, and outright hostility that have grown over time. The two groups are now
    in an open war for supremacy of the global jihadist movement. ISIS holds an advantage, but the battle
    is not over yet.

    Providing ample historical background for the events of recent weeks and days, Zelin focuses largely on the one-time street-thug al-Zarqawi, and pinpoints the fault-line early on when he writes:

    The indiscriminate versus strategic use of violence and takfir, most importantly that targeting the group’s Sunni base, became an important issue taken up by al-Qaeda in the following years. The main proponent of limiting takfir and knowing when to use it properly was Libi, who emphasized the sanctity of Muslim blood. [ ... ] More recently, in September 2013, Zawahiri released a pamphlet titled “General Guidelines for the Work of a Jihadi,” which codifies rules of engagement for al-Qaeda’s branches and highlights the limits and concerns that he and Libi previously raised with Zarqawi.

    Baghdadi, however, is no street-fighter — he’s a theologian-warrior. Joas Wagemakers reported a tract by the scholar Abu Hamam Bakr Bin ‘Abd al-’Aziz al-’Athari praising Baghdadi in Jihadica last September:

    Apart from al-Baghdadi’s family background, he is also a scholar of Islam according to al-Athari, having obtained an MA-degree in Qur’anic studies and a PhD in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and having written a book on tawhid (the unity of God). This comination of Islamic knowledge and Prophetic descent makes him a special man indeed, al-Athari claims.

    Tim Furnish at MahdiWatch compares him to both Zawahiri and bin Laden thus:

    In addition, ISIS is, if anything, even more religious than AQ. Its leader, Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri, holds a PhD in fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence (fatwa-issuing, in other words). By contrast, Usama bin Ladin was an engineer and Ayman al-Zawahiri is a medical doctor; and although both were/are profoundly Islamic in worldview and goals, they were/are laymen.

    As you know, my own special interest is in the theological side of things — so for me, those two comments add grace-notes to Aaron’s exemplary essay.

    **

    JM Berger’s ISIS Risks Everything to Declare a Caliphate brings us fully up to date with his account of today’s announcement of a Caliphate:

    On Sunday morning, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, or ISIL, if you must) pronounced the reformation of the caliphate — the historical Islamic state that once stretched over much of the modern-day Muslim world — with ISIS emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as the man in charge.

    It’s arguably the boldest move yet by the group, which renamed itself simply The Islamic State. But if ISIS isn’t careful, this could be the moment when all of its gains in Iraq and Syria are squandered; when would-be allies are alienated; and when the group’s critics within the jihadi community were proven right all along.

    In the statement—released in Arabic, English, German, French, and Russian—ISIS claimed that it had fulfilled all the legal requirements for the caliphate and that all existing jihadi groups and indeed all Muslims around the world were religiously obligated to swear loyalty to the new Caliph Ibrahim (using the name provided by ISIS in the course of proving that Baghdadi has the required lineage for the title).

    Prior to this pronouncement, my assessment was that there was almost no way ISIS could exit June in worse shape than it entered the month, and that still holds. But July is beginning to look like an open question. ISIS, an al Qaeda breakaway group, had made a bold move to seize territory in Iraq that had resulted in tremendous gains in both equipment and money. Even if it lost all of the territory it gained in June, it would still retain many of those spoils, with new clout, status and physical assets to compete with the other jihadi groups operating in Syria and near the Iraq border.

    The declaration of the caliphate is a massive gamble that puts many of these gains at risk, although the potential benefits are also substantial.

    Berger then proceeds to give us “a quick rundown of the moving parts”, and notes:

    The pronouncement of the caliphate is sure to be wildly controversial on religious grounds, but ultimately it could cut either way. The backlash may harden the pro-AQ segment of the global jihadist movement against ISIS, especially with the announcement’s flat out demand that all other jihadist groups are religiously obligated to pledge loyalty to ISIS. But it will also generate some enthusiasm from footsoldiers and different segments of the global movement that see ISIS as a rising star.

    Like the other two posts recomended here, a must read IMO.

    **

    For another informed view, see Yassin Musharbash‘s A few Thoughts on the ISIS-”Caliphate”. Peter Neumann has some interesting comments in this Guardian piece. And my own background on earlier mentions of Baghdadi, the Dajjal and the caliphate was posted here.

    And that’s it — a week of powerful changes, and some fine reading to bring clarity out of the fog.

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    Recommended Reading

    Monday, June 30th, 2014

    [by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"]

    My greatest of amusements, reading” – Thomas Jefferson

    DOUBLE-TOP BILLING!!!!! Special Iraq Edition…..

    #1 Intelwire (J.M. Berger) Gambling on the Caliphate

    ….In the statement, ISIS claimed that it had fulfilled all the legal requirements for the caliphate and that all existing jihadi groups and indeed all Muslims around the world were religiously obligated to swear loyalty to the new Caliph Ibrahim (using the name provided by ISIS in the course of proving that Baghdadi has the required lineage for the title). 

    Prior to this pronouncement, my assessment was that there was almost no way ISIS could exit June in worse shape than it entered the month, and that still holds, but July is beginning to look like an open question. ISIS, an al Qaeda breakaway group, had made a bold move to seize territory in Iraq that had resulted in tremendous gains in both equipment and money. Even if it lost all of the territory it gained in June, it would still retain many of those spoils, with new clout, status and physical assets to compete with the other jihadi groups operating in Syria and near the Iraq border.

    The declaration of the caliphate is a massive gamble that puts many of these gains at risk, although the potential benefits are also substantial. Here’s a quick rundown of the moving parts:

    # 2   War on the Rocks (Peter J. Munson) – Iraq and the City of Man 

    ….The story, vastly simplified, is that Iraq is a cobbled-together country, like Germany, Italy, France and Spain. Despite all the discussion of Iraq’s seams, it really is not all that unique. For a time, the pieces of the country were relatively cohesive and the various peoples coexisted and even prospered in the urban centers.

    But bad governance turned to disastrous governance. Saddam Hussein and his henchmen played groups against each other, using patronage, tribalism and even a re-Islamization campaign to shore up support, while brutalizing the Kurds and Shia who could not be bought. This supercharged atmosphere of terror and mistrust ignited quickly in the wake of the 2003 invasion.

    Once-routine, even cordial sectarian intermixing quickly fell apart as the extreme violence of a minority forced segregation and xenophobia. From 2004 through 2008, Iraq descended into chaos, even as over 100,000 American and coalition troops fanned out into the cities to keep the peace and kill the killers. When a fragile calm began to return, some imagined that eventually things would turn out livable.

    This is what we all hoped for. Closure. Validation. Peace. Sanctity. Humans reach for the City of God, but it is not to be had here on Earth. AsAugustine wrote, “the earthly city is generally divided against itself by litigation, by wars, by battles, by the pursuit of victories that bring death with them or at best are doomed to death.” The city of man

    Eeben Barlow – Carving up the Continent 

    As a continent, Africa remains under the constant threat of destabilisation along with numerous internal, intractable crises aimed at fuelling suspicion and exploiting differences amongst the populace. These threats are aimed at creating fractious states that will be ripe for foreign intervention and ultimately the division of countries.
    As a general guideline, the development of tensions along with destabilisation and revolution follows a predictable pattern in resource-rich countries:

    S. Anthony Iannarino – How to Spend Time Thinking  

    ….Thinking takes more time than you think.

    Unless you schedule time to think, to really do nothing else but think, you won’t do it. You make time to exercise your body so that it stays strong, healthy, and so that it serves you well. You have to do the same thing for your mind.

    Schedule time when you can be alone to do nothing but think. This isn’t time to plan your next week, even though you might have ideas about what you need to put on your agenda. It isn’t time to work on a project, even though you may generate ideas about those projects. Just block the time to be alone with absolutely no agenda but thinking.

    If you want to make this time more powerful and more productive, do it first thing in the morning.

    Chuck SpinneyManeuver Warfare: German Experiences in WWII 

    ….Expanding beyond the close support theme, the remainder of this series of very important historical interviews was conceived and organized by Captain Ratley and Col. Dilger, then executed by the team of Col. Richard Hallock and Pierre Sprey.  The following reports list of reports are links to the cumulative product of their efforts.  Special thanks goes to LTC Greg Wilcox (U.S. Army Ret.), also a reformer, for making these unique historical documents widely accessible in electronic format. Maneuver Warfare in WW II from a German perspective with emphasis on operational and tactical employment levels on the Eastern Front.

    The Loopcast – ISIS and Iraq
    Chet Richards - Is Blitzkrieg Enough? 
    Foreign AffairsThe Good Germans 
    That’s it.
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