Thursday, September 13, 2007

Utterly Predictable

From today's U.K. Guardian comes this utterly predictable account of Al Qaida's "resurgence." According to the paper, the terrorist organization has revived, spread and is again capable of staging another "spectacular" attack on the scale of 9-11.

The Guardian story is based on the annual assessment of world affairs by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which released its report yesterday. While the IISS is highly respected, it is also decidedly liberal in its outlook--no wonder the Guardian considers it to be the "Holy Grail." If you need proof of their bias, consider one of the "other" findings from yesterday's report:

"...if climate change is allowed to continue unchecked, its affects will be catastrophic "on the level of nuclear war".

Never mind that the entire "climate change" argument is based on scientific "consensus," rather than irrefutable data. Since that version of climatological events fits the IISS narrative, the think tank is quite willing to accept it as the Holy Grail. And, it's a trend that's evident in other IISS assessments as well. Consider its "doom-and-gloom" view on the state of Al Qaida and the larger issue of radical Islam:

There is increasing evidence "that 'core' al-Qaida is proving adaptable and resilient, and has retained an ability to plan and coordinate large-scale attacks in the western world despite the attrition it has suffered", said the IISS. "The threat from Islamist terrorism remains as high as ever, and looks set to get worse," it added.

"The US and its allies have failed to deal a death blow to al-Qaida; the organisation's ideology appears to have taken root to such a degree that it will require decades to eradicate," it continued.

There is little doubt that Al Qaida has a high degree of resiliency--it's a common trait among terrorist organizations. The IRA fought the British military and intelligence services for almost 30 years; in South America, FARC rebels have been battling the Colombian government since the late 1940s. And the Tamil Tigers have waged a murderous campaign on Sri Lanka since the mid-1970s. In that sense, Al Qaida's resiliency merely follows a well-established pattern.

It's also quite clear that the terrorist group has benefited from the disastrous Waziristan Accords, which allowed them to reestablish safe havens in Pakistan's western tribal lands. With little to fear from the Pakistani government, Al Qaida and its Taliban allies have rebuilt training camps and logistics stockpiles, allowing them to prepare more jihadists for the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

But that begs an obvious question--one which the IISS conveniently avoids. If Al Qaida has regained the strength it enjoyed on 9-11, why hasn't the group been able to mount a new "spectacular?" The IISS report cites recently-foiled terror plots in Germany and Denmark as proof of Al Qaida's global reach.

Yet, a closer examination of those incidents reveals little in common with the 9-11, except that all were "inspired" by Al Qaida. Unlike the 9-11 attacks (which were planned and directed by the group's operations chief, Khalid Sheik Mohammed), the failed plots in Germany and Denmark were the work of affiliated groups, operating largely on their own. In both cases, most of the suspects were "home grown" including two German nationals who had converted to Islam. The thwarted attacks follow the "de-centralized" operational model that Al Qaida has been forced to adopt since 9-11, with local affiliates assuming the lead role in selecting targets and planning strikes.

The IISS analysis also fails to note that not everything is going Al Qaida's way. Earlier this year, the group's Somali "franchise" suffered a stunning setback when the Ethiopian Army (with U.S. air and naval support) crushed the Islamic Courts movement, derailing Al Qaida's plans to reestablish a major operational base in east Africa.

Then, there's the matter of Iraq. While analysts at the British think tank describe the situation as a "strategic hole" for the United States, the conflict is also a major drain on Al Qaida personnel and resources. In a recent conversation with talk radio hosts at the White House, President Bush disclosed that "thousands" of terrorists have been killed in Iraq since the start of the troop surge earlier this year. Presumably, many of those were Al Qaida fighters. Had they not been recruited for the Iraqi front, we can only imagine how many of those terrorists would be assigned to western targets.

Iraq also challenges the notion that Al Qadia's fundamentalist ideology is gaining hearts and minds in the Islamic notion. The population of Al-Anbar Province is part of Iraq's Sunni majority, and presumably, a target audience for Al Qaida. And, for a while, the terrorists found refuge in that region until their brutal tactics drove local Sunnis to the U.S. side. Now, the Anbar "awakening" seems to be spreading to other parts of Iraq. Indeed, most of our tactical "gains" on the ground have come directly at the expense of Al Qaida. The IISS believes that the U.S. position in Iraq is bleak, but the situation is far worse for Al Qaida and its allies, who should be benefiting from the strategic morass.

Not surprisingly, the IISS staff includes its share of former British spooks, including Nigel Inkster, who was once a candidate for the top job at MI6. It's nice to know that the U.K. annuitants (like their American counterparts) can retire to the comfort of think tank, while still offering their particularly skewed view of global threats.

That's not to say the entire IISS report is flawed. Their "worst case" prediction that Iran could gain its first nuclear weapon by 2009-2010 jibes with other assessments in that area. And the institute is correct in noting the increased radicalization of Europe's Muslim population, though it fails to note the role played by European governments in creating that problem.

Still, such kernels of unvarnished truth seem to be relatively few and far between in the IISS assessment. Consider their "take" on the impact of climate change, as reported by the Guardian:

The report said the effects of the predicted rise in global temperatures due to the burning of fossil fuels would cause a host of problems including rising sea levels, forced migration, freak storms, droughts, floods, extinctions, wildfires, disease epidemics, crop failures and famine.

Somewhere on his private jet, Al Gore must be very proud, indeed. That's why the IISS report should be read with a healthy degree of skepticism.


chrisale said...

"Never mind that the entire "climate change" argument is based on scientific "consensus," rather than irrefutable data."

How disingenuous...

Science has two purposes, to provide empirical data... and to use that empirical data to explain past, current, and future phenomena in our world.

Explanations are simply theories... and theories are excepted through consensus. We all believed the world was flat... until we had the technology to provide empirical data (imagery) proving conclusively otherwise.

We are far from a point where we can fully "see" the Earths climate. As such we must depend on the Geologic record, measured data, and computer models.

At this point the "consensus" indicates that we are on a path towards major climate change. We now know that the "Global Dimming" of the 70s is still present and that CO2 emissions is now overtaking the effect of particulate and warming the planet...

Ironically, it is the grounding of air traffic after 9/11 that provided incredibly dramatic proof of this. As we lower our particulate (car/industrial emissions) and limit air travel, CO2 emissions will lower, but CO2 levels will not start to decrease for many years... whereas particulate levels (global dimming) will decrease dramatically, leading to even more of the suns energy reaching the earths surface... and staying their thanks to CO2 already in the atmosphere.

We've created a wonderfully terrible little paradox for ourselves... and under the worst case scenario the entire Florida Panhandle along with the homes of millions more around the world, will be under water.

It might as well be nuclear war minus the radiation.

Otter said...

We all believed the world was flat... chrisale

How disingenous. We KNEW the Earth was round during the days of the ancient Greeks. Columbus KNEW the Earth was round when he went looking for an alternate route to India. And so forth.

Your 'consensus' is getting smaller and smaller, as more and more scientists bring forth new data dispelling the myths the 'consensus' is foisting upon us. I believe it has just been discovered that CO2 counts were recently (within the last 1000 years) Higher than what they are today. Fit that into your 'consensus.' btw, slavery was by 'consensus' about those being enslaved- and there was scientific proof to back it up!

chrisale said...

i'd love to see the study you speak of.

it's unfortunate you fail to recognize the signs. Just as Columbus knew the world was round when he set out while his contemporaries believed otherwise...

The Inuit know climate change is happening, when the permafrost they rely on is sinking beneath their feet... birds and insects and plants they have no verbal record of are appearing.. and ice flows are receding much faster than before. And yet there are people like yourself and the author who refuse to believe the truth.

OregonGuy said...

I saw this

and was tempted to add my comment to those comments.

Bottom line is, if you feel the role of government is to do "good", then in the face of doing nothing--as the case calls for--the opposite of "good" by definition must be "bad".

Nothing clearer.

SwampWoman said...

Snort. Florida has been under water many times in the past due to "global warming" (oh, and how 'bout those glaciers melting over North America, huh?) without any input from mankind.

chrisale said...

Not in human history my snorty friend... it's not a matter of what has happened before... EVERYTHING has happened before. The real question is how will the human race cope with a radically different landscape? And do you feel a responsibility for preventing that if we indeed are the cause?

And just how many people do you think would survive if we entered another ice age and Glaciers returned to Texas?

SwampWoman said...

*shrug* We will adapt, considering that humans are surviving and even thriving in climates as diverse as Siberia to the Sahara.

SwampWoman said...

And do you feel a responsibility for preventing that if we indeed are the cause?

Why should I feel any responsibility? I graze livestock on our acreage, grow our own veggies and some fruits, know how to spin wool and cotton (and in fact have sheep, spinning wheels and several hand looms). For breakfast, I can step outside and collect eggs from the nest boxes I have placed for the convenience of the bantam hens and have eggs from free-range chickens for breakfast. Until last week I telecommuted. Now I work about 10 miles from home and carpool with husband. I certainly don't feel called upon to condemn the lifestyles of those extraordinarily silly people that do not grow their own food, know how to make clothes, build a house, drive very expensive (large) vehicles, and fly around the world in private planes in order to lecture me on the Perils of Global Warming and what I should give up to prevent it, while conveniently overlooking the fact that we are in a period of time where CO2 levels in the atmosphere are at historically low levels.

Those pathetic losers have no idea how to milk a cow, shear a sheep, slaughter a hog, train a horse, raise a cash crop, build a shelter and in fact know no survival skills whatsoever in case TSHTF. Why should I trust their ability to infer conclusions from theoretic data input into a computer program that purports to predict the future without accounting for all variables? Seems to me that until such time as I can get an accurate weather forecast even as far as a month into the future, the global warming credulous "true believers" have merely shifted their faith in shamans partaking of mind-altering substance in order to babble scary predictions to another bunch of charlatans brandishing questionable "data" generated by computer with the admonition to just trust in the prophecy.

In answer to your question about what would happen if "glaciers should return to Texas", I am unsure about how to answer your question because glaciers were not in Texas. Would you like to submit a different state? Perhaps one where glaciers actually existed in the past?

Geo Karras said...

Global Warming is a Psyop, Al Gore just an actor, a screen reader, like George Bush, both working for a private transnational criminal syndicate, linked to BP, Shell, and the Gulf States, and MI6.
(the Anglo-Dutch cartel).

video 9/11 syndicate: