REVISITING QUESTIONS ON DETERRENCE AND NUCLEAR TERRORISM
First, I’d like to apologize for the long delay. Things kept me busy all weekend and then on Monday night I worked on this post for a good hour plus and then – I’m not sure if the problem was Blogger, my server or my hard drive but something ate my goddam post in an apocalypse of error coding ! This caused a minor tantrum and my shutting the computer off in disgust
Andrew at Politics, Applied asked the following questions in the comments ( in bold blue italics) on Friday. Under each question I added my commentary and invite others to post theirs or provide a longer rebuttal on other blogs and I’ll update this post with the appropriate links.
1. What are our goals in the GWOT? What are the goals of the extreme Islamists?
The goals of the radical Islamists as I interpret them from their own words, actions and commentary of Western experts:
Very Long Term – a unified, ultimately worldwide, Caliphate that enforces a radical Salafist version of the Sharia.
Long Term – the overthrow of all ” apostate” Muslim regimes, the destruction of Israel, the removal of American/Western/Modern/Globalization/Core influences from the Ummah. The expansion of Islamist Sharia state regimes to encompass all the lands once under Muslim rule. For some Sunni-Salafi-Qutbist radicals, the destruction of the Shiite, Ismaili, Alawite and Sufi “heretics” is an important ideological-religious goal.
Medium Term – the capture of a state for the establishment of a Sharia Emirate base with an ideological emphasis on Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt for various reasons. Impose severe costs on the United States and it’s allies in the GWOT through acts of ” spectacular” mass destruction terrorism. Political and religious radicalization of the Ummah.
Short Term – destabilization of Afghanistan and Iraq. Covert infiltration of failed or failing states or outlier regions in Africa, Asia and South America. Covert infiltration of the United States and it’s allies by operational and support teams for acts of terror. Maintain secure financial support, communication and recruiting networks. Continuous training of al Qaida insiders to have a ” deep ” bench to replace operational managers killed or captured by American forces. Acts of ” unspectacular ” terror such as kidnappings, car bombings and beheadings to maintain visibility and credibility.
Very Short Term – maintain day to day security network for OBL and top leadership, small insurgency operations, support activities, propaganda in online al Qaida journals.
The Islamists have goals that range from the practical, tactical and operational to the memetic-ideological to the simply fantastic on a scale not envisioned since Hitler’s plans for the East in the aftermath of Operation Barbarossa. American goals in the GWOT are or should be the following:
Very Long Term – spread of liberal, market economy, democratic regimes across the Muslim World so that they can move up and become ” New Core ” states like India.
Long Term – Discrediting, marginalization and defeat of Islamism as an ideology on par with Fascism and Communism. International acceptance of terrorism as a crime against humanity on par with slavery, genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes. Regime change of all rogue state sponsors of terror and WMD proliferation. Resolution of the Palestinian problem with a secular, liberal, democratic republic of Palestine at peace with Israel and economically secure in a regional common market.
Medium Term – death of all top and middle level al Qaida leaders and those of related Islamist groups. Destruction of all terror bases worldwide. Regime change in a second rogue state, preferably by diplomatic means. Establishment of a robust, militarily active, anti-terror coalition with Russia, China, Israel, India and the willing European states. Stabilization of an Iraqi egime with democratic legitimacy. Expansion of Karzai regime authority to all major cities and towns. Core consensus on priority of non-proliferation efforts. Restructuring of the American military for the GWOT and to operationally divide ” Leviathan ” and System Administration” tasks.
Short Term – Containment and degradation of Iraqi insurgency. Interdiction and termination of Iranian nuclear bomb program, by force if required. Coordinated, worldwide raids on suspected al Qaida supporters, hide-outs, bases and mosques. Disruption of financial flows to from the gulf to radical Islamist madrassa. Substantial increases/investments in HUMINT and Special Operations capabilities , analysis and linguistic personnel. Set up an operational, systemic, program to engage the Islamists in the war of ideas.
2. Does a stated policy of deterrence on our part inhibit the goals of the extreme Islamists so as to prevent a nuclear attack within the US?
Good question. No one knows though bin Laden reportedly told the BBC that he had acquired nuclear weapons for deterrence purposes which indicates:
a) That bin Laden understands the concept well enough, and
b) There is something he considers important enough to acquire nuclear bombs in order to deter America from some action.
The question is “what” ? My guess it is to protect Islam’s Holy sites.
3. If a nuclear terrorist attack ouccurs within the US, what kind of respnse would serve our goals? Would our goals remain the same in such an event?
I think a limited nuclear strike and the deaths of hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans would render most previous considerations and goals moot. The ante having been upped by our enemies our response would be to ensure that such an event would not happen again by demonstrating the costs. The political pressure for anything less than massive retaliation would be enormous and well-nigh unstoppaple. It would be the Mother of all System Perturbations with historic, global, consequences.
Our goal has to be to prevent that decision point from ever being reached.
UPDATE I: JB at riting on the wall takes up Andrew’s questions. I encourage you in particular to take a hard look at his analysis of Liberal, Moderate and Radical Islamists which spans prettty well the POV from Mohammed Abduh to al-Afghani and Rida to Sayyid Qutb.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Centerfeud has a post ” They’re Out There” on Muslims who reject the extremist agenda and have, bravely in some instances, taken up rhetorical arms against the Islamists and terrorists.