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25 April 2011


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William R. Cumming

Great post Dr. Silverman. I thought the consensus conclusion was the de-radicalization efforts by the US at GITMO had largely failed given recidivism if that is the correct word by those released? Am I wrong?
And in fact stronger radicalization may have resulted by GITMO efforts?e

Richard K. Armstrong

I am just a simple minded Southerner. I don't have a CV. I was just a clerk when I served in the Army.

Those caveats given I am stunned that anyone at all is surprised when the efforts of the United States military go Tango Uniform. This simple southern boy is able to call a pig a pig when he observes one.

In a straight up fight the U.S. military is guaran-damn-teed to win - and they should since the U.S. military budget is greater than that of most of the rest of the world combined.

Nation building - regime changing whatever one calls it is not what the U.S. military can be successful at and should never be asked to do.

Things don't go according to Hoyle in Iraq? Duh. Why would anyone suppose they would?

The US progress in Afghanistan resembles that of Alexander, Britain and Russia? Duh. What was it that Santayana said?

The U.S. is engaged in 2.5 wars in the ME and not a single one of them is in the interest of any single U.S. citizen.

As intellectually interesting as the popular uprisings in the ME are they really don't affect the average U.S. citizen.

Dr. Silverman clinically asks how efforts to "de-radicalize" inmates in Kandahar failed. Here's an idea. How about not invading their country? How about not throwing them in prison? How about not bombing them from 20,000 feet? How about just leaving poor desperate Afghans alone? Does anyone really think Afghans gave a darn about the U.S. before we invaded them?

While peoples take to the streets in Damascus, Cairo, and Beit al-Faqih the implementation of fascism in Michigan and Wisconsin is being ignored.

Sitting here in Kansas City I am much more interested in how Professor Luccock's prophesy regarding how fascism will look when it comes to America is finally coming true.

IMHO this committee of correspondence should turn it's eyes to happenings in our country and raise the level of discourse so that somehow intelligent discussion might influence happenings that truly threaten our Republic.


A friend in Kabul in a position to know says the US washed its hands of all direct involvement with this prison some time ago. Recklessly irresponsible.

Nancy K

Richard Armstrong, I don't think I have read anything lately that I so completely agree with. For a simple minded Southerner as you call yourself, you have cut through all the garbage and arrived at the truth. I was at an Easter brunch and my friend an 85 year old woman, quietly said to me. I know this might sound unpatriotic, but I don't think we should be fighting there.
Why are we? Why aren't the American people being listened to by our elected represenatives?

Green Zone Cafe

MG Stone is one of the unsung heros of the Iraq effort, if for no other reason he did some humane things in the prisons in Iraq.

Before he came along, thousands of detainees were warehoused at best and tortured (Abu Ghraib) at worst.

FB Ali

I am somewhat surprised that Dr Silverman appears to take at face value the proposition that the US is engaged in a COIN operation in Afghanistan. Gen Petraeus and his staff seem to have done a better PR job than I gave them credit for.

As for "deradicalization", I suppose it can be achieved in some cases. But how do you get these guys to accept foreign soldiers on their soil? Or, maybe, even come to love them?

Patrick Lang

FB Ali

One of the marvels of this whole era is the way that the COINistas (theoretical and/or uniformed) have managed to believe their own BS. I have the impression that Davidus Petraeus Mesopotamicus (as some wag here called him) now actually thinks that he was the victor in Iraq and that the COIN faith delivered that victory. pl


Was that de-radicalization prescription designed to piss people off?

Richard K. Armstrong

Nancy K.,

You ask why our elected officials are not listening to the American people and I will answer that they are in fact listening to those that have the loudest voices.

Each of us in this committee of correspondence has a single voice that we may exercise in the voting booth. Individually we may try and make our voices heard by contributing a paltry $2,500 to a Federal candidate or up to $30,000 to a PAC. I don't know about you however, all of these amounts are WAY beyond anything that I can afford to contribute. Therefore my "voice" is a mere whisper to those that "represent" me.

Now that the Robert's court has codified the Citizen's United decision the individual American's voice will probably never again be heard except in those instances where the people take to the streets as they have in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio to actively demonstrate to make their desires known. (Sidebar: Why in the world are Yankees fighting this fight? Seems to me that we descendants of Southern patriots should be leading this effort.)

America was warned by President Eisenhower about the eminent threat posed by the military-industrial complex just as Professor Luccock warned America about creeping fascism. Sadly fair-weather "patriots" with their obligatory American Flag lapel pins have and will at least ignore both warnings and at worst frame said admonitions as "Un-American."

Richard K. Armstrong

COL Lang,

Pataeus Mesopatamicus KNOWS that he was the victor because victory is now measured not by conquest but rather by profits.

When I was in short pants Daniel Ellsberg was ridiculed for pointing out how profitable the war in Vietnam was for American corporations. His Pentagon Papers dump (WikiLeaks anyone?) made clear how much profit corporations were making from the U.S. decision to fight an un-winnable war in S.E Asia.

Since 2005 contracts to defense contractors have increased by three-fold.

Going way out on a limb I'm going to guess that Patraeus and his proginy are going to enjoy the fruits of his labors quite nicely.

Today the U.S. can "enjoy" the luxury of sending only volunteers to fight overseas knowing the numbers that never come home within any single decade will be around 10% of those sacrificed to Vietnam.

Combine those "minimal" losses with those "maximal" profits and Patreaus comes out a winner.

Richard K. Armstrong

Dr. Silverman please accept my apology for being snide when I stated your analysis was "clinical".

"Measure twice and cut once." This axiom also applies to blog comments. I should remember this always.

Dan Gackle

Dr. Silverman,

Thank you for your valuable analyses. With respect to this one: I find it hard to see how one can invade another's country, capture them, put them in prison, and then deradicalize them. Wouldn't those things radicalize most people (especially the ones inclined to actively fight, as these by hypothesis are) far more than anything one could say to them in prison? Supposing one could so deradicalize an individual, would that person not be regarded as a traitor by his peers upon release? Or, likely, revert to previous beliefs under the influence of his community and an ongoing war?

Are there cases in the public record of this having worked in the past on a large enough scale to influence the outcome of a conflict?

Dan Gackle

Dr. Silverman: Just to clarify my last question, I did of course see the examples in your post and follow the links. I'm curious as to whether there are historical precedents (not drawn from current conflicts) for the successful deradicalization of prisoners.


Dr. Silverman,

Counter Insurgency comes down to numbers. “Rio’s strategy is nothing new, but it demands enormous resources.” “In one of the pacified favelas, there is one police officer for every 40 residents.” If the United States could afford to send millions of men and women across the world, then Afganistan, Iraq and Libya would be pacified. With the volunteer Army it is impossible.

Note the same numbers apply to America. As the Middle Class disappears, it will take one security guard per 40 citizens to keep the gated communities safe for the oligarchs and their politicians.

anna missed

Isn't the idea of "de-radicalizing" extremism a kind of oxymoron? Or extremist itself.

If not, couldn't it then be applied to those people here so worried about "shiria law" taking over?

Patrick Lang


"Sharia," or "Shariah." pl

Nancy K

If god forbid Donald Trump were to become President and China decided to invade us to protect us from his expremism, I as an American, would fight on the side of Donald Trump, aas horrid as that would be to me. No one wants their country invaded.

Nancy K

sorry about my spelling errors, I hit post instead of preview.

R Whitman

What is the difference between de-radicalization and what my generation calls brain-washing??

Ken Hoop

I wonder how many of Silverman's deradicalized Sunni insurgents joined the "Awakening" and have paid,as many have, or will pay with their lives?


Nancy K - As bad as I hated GWB, if some foreign country invaded the US during that time, I would have fought like heck for this country. It goes without saying that people do not like to be occupied by another country.

Richard Armstrong - sitting here in Kansas City also, my question to you is, what's up with this weather?

anna missed

Yes, Shiria or Shiriah.

Patrick Lang


No. No. No. The "sh" is followed by "fatha,' not "kesra." Learn some Arabic. "Arabic: شريعة‎ šarīʿah." pl

Adam L Silverman

Mr. Cumming: I really don't have a lot of clarity as to what was actually tried at GITMO. All I know about the detainee operations there are from open source media. As for the recidivism, as I've written about here at SST in the past, those numbers are in dispute. And based on the recent news reports in the Guardian and other papers it appears that much of what was going on at GITMO seems to make little sense.

Adam L Silverman

Mr. Armstrong: I don't disagree that our continued presence in Afghanistan, given what we're trying to accomplish, doesn't make any sense and that we're doing more harm than good. As COL Lang, Brigadier Ali, and many others have written here before I too have written that what we're doing there won't work, that we should go to a small footprint, counter-terrorism based approach rather than 3rd Party Population Centric COIN.

As to writing about some of the issues and concerns domestically - I've got a post I'm working on for later this week dealing with some of that.

Finally - no worries, I didn't take any offense. Actually today's my first day back from leave, so I've been swamped, which is why I'm just now getting to responding to all the comments.

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