Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fox's ideas on fighting terror are a distinction without a difference

I'm going to quote FoxNews "security analyst" K.T. McFarland at length, with my comments, on her prescriptions for fighting violent Islamists... THINGS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS LARGELY ALREADY DOING:

KTM: "An economic component that bankrupts radical jihad by cutting off their oil revenues  - attacking their oil fields, refineries and tankers  -- while we also develop our own resources to be energy independent of Arab oil."

Me: The U.S. is already energy independent, thanks to Obama's relaxing rules on fracking. We have so much U.S. oil -- and that's a mixed blessing, if you read the WSJ or Bloomberg -- that Obama even ended the long-time ban on exporting U.S. oil.  ISIS does control oil fields in Syria, but they sell it all on the black market, and we are already bombing them. 

KTM: "A banking component that uses the US primacy in international banking and finance to freeze out any country or company that does business with radical Islamists from ISIS to Boko Haram."

Me: Ditto the above.  I'm sure we could do more to root out the middle men trading ISIS's oil, (cough! Turkey!) but again, it's not like ISIS is trading oil on the world futures market.

KTM: "An alliance component that draws together moderate Muslims into an alliance against radical Islam.  If they’re reluctant to join an anti-Islamist alliance, we should let them know they shouldn’t come running to us if things don’t work out.   We should call them out if they have some in their inner circles that play both sides.  

"And we may have to hold our noses and partner with countries we do not always approve of, as we did during World War II."

Me:  Who are the moderate Muslim countries that have the capacity to fight ISIS?  I can think of only one: Turkey.  Saudi Arabia has the capacity but it is not a moderate Muslim country.  The Kurds are everybody's favorite moderate Muslims but they don't have their own state; and moderate ally #1, Turkey, will not allow the Kurds to form their own state. 

KTM: "An anti-hostage component – we will not negotiate, exchange prisoners with nor pay ransom to terrorists. If you take our people hostage, we will turn the tables on you and put a very large bounty on your heads. We promise to hunt down kill anyone who kills our citizens, no matter now long it takes."

Me: Who's the greatest terrorist hunter of all time?  President Barack Obama.  Indeed, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg just revealed that, "killing the so-called caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is one of the top goals of the American national-security apparatus in Obama’s last year." 

And that's not an empty threat, coming from the guy who killed bin Laden and most of Al Qaeda's senior leadership during his term in office.

KTM: "A communications component which champions western values, like we had during WWII and the Cold War. Violent radical Jihad and western civilization are NOT morally equivalent.  No apology tour, no comparing the Crusades to ISIS.  Be proud of America or be quiet."

Me: Communications are a funny thing. Compel somebody to say something they don't believe -- good luck with that! -- and it comes across as lame.  And when the U.S. tries to do it ourselves -- and we do, assiduously -- the results are mixed, because we're even lamer, and nobody there trusts our motives.  The truth is that, in the age of social media and instant viral communication, it's very hard to shape the dialog, especially in a region we understand poorly.  Putin's Russia does the best job of it, with an army of paid trolls and bloggers, but what they mainly accomplish is sowing doubt in the concept of objective truth of events itself to create cover for Putin's maneuvers, not creating a new accepted truth.

KTM: " An Internet component that blocks their online recruiting and training efforts and uses metadata to track and destroy terrorist leaders."

Me: This sounds a lot like more cyber spying.  And who's the greatest cyber spy of all time?  Again, President Obama. 

KTM: "A religious and ideological component which applauds moderate Muslim leaders – like Egyptian President Sisi and the Grand Imam of Al Ahzar Mosque- who speak out against radical Islam."

Me: Ouch.  Egyptian President Sisi is now widely regarded in Egypt and the region as a worse tyrant than President Mubarak.  He doesn't "speak out" against radical Islam, he jails, tortures and kills anybody suspected of associations with such.  That's not exactly clean and neat, and certainly not representative of traditional American values.  Nevertheless... who is Sisi's greatest patron?  Again, President Obama.

KTM: "And finally, a military component which does not, repeat does not, require thousands of American combat forces, but rather gives our allies every inducement and all the arm twisting necessary so they put their own boots on the ground.  And which supplies them with whatever they need to do the job."

Me: This is the only semi-novel and impactful recommendation of McFarland. She's basically saying, arm the Saudis and the Turks to fight our battles for us, because nobody else has the capacity even to accept such help.  Israel does but they don't want to get involved. (BTW, gee, isn't it funny that our bestest ally in the Mideast isn't helping us to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq?  Why is that??) But we have problems with Turkey (see: Kurds); and with Saudi Arabia, which spends millions of dollars all over the world promoting a radical Wahhabist version of Sunni Islam; and which is still more concerned with Iran than ISIS or Al Qaeda.

So in summary, McFarland's prescriptions on how to fight "global jihad" boil down to a distinction without a difference vis-a-vis current U.S. policy. The truth is, there is only so much the U.S. can do in the world, especially in the fractious and conflicted Arab Middle East, and even less our "allies" are willing to do, no matter what bribes or inducements we throw at them.

Finally, I've said it before, but comparing all of these people to the Nazis or the USSR, and saying we can copy-paste what we did in the 40's or the Cold War to defeat them is moronic, stupid, wrong, impractical...I just don't know how else to say it.  Political correctness has nothing to do with this fight either.  Whenever you hear somebody say any of this, know you're listening to an old fogey who doesn't understand "franchised" terrorism and the root of these many regional conflicts -- which have nothing to do with Islam, originally -- that create power vacuums and provide the perfect breeding ground for Islamist terrorism. 

Yes, America, it's war. Here's how we can stop losing and start winning
By K.T. McFarland
March 22, 2016 | FoxNews
URL: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/03/22/yes-america-its-war-heres-how-can-stop-losing-and-start-winning.html?intcmp=hphz01