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18 November 2015

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Fred

Scott,

The only thing most of those running into Europe are willing to fight for is a free ride. They wouldn't fight in Syria or serve in some capacity to save or even improve the civilization they were a part of. Why the hell should I risk my life for them or pay a damn dime of my income to give them a free ride?

oofda

Colonel,
The Russians used about 23 long-range strategic bombers in a recent mission. These included Tu-160 Blackjacks and Tu-95 Bears- the latter being used in actual combat for the first time since they first appeared in the 1950's.

http://theaviationist.com/2015/11/17/russian-tu-22s-joined-the-syria-air-war/

kao_hsien_chih

The involvement of academics in "policy" is one of those paradoxical things that should never take place, either for sake of good academic practice or good policymaking, but always seems to be encouraged by all sorts of people.

Academia, if properly done, strives for something as close to the truth as possible in a very narrow scope. By nature, such efforts bear no practical application, except in a rather generic sense. I'd posted the link to an op ed piece by Ariel Rubinstein, a famous game theorist, who, on multiple occasions, has claimed that, as far as he knows, there has never been any "practical" application of game theory. Game theory (and for that matter, all academic enterprise) can help sharpen minds and help people think logically, but to think that anything from academia can apply directly outside its narrowly defined niche is dangerous.

Yet, there is tremendous pressure for academics to be "practical" and "relevant," especially social sciences. Social science people who are involved in policymaking are held in high regard both by the public and by the universities themselves--even if they are not especially good at the core "academic" business. In fact, the kind of nitpicky, abstract, and rigorous thinking that should make for good academic work are precisely the "impractical" and "irrelevant" stuff that policymaking types eschew. One person who has been the exemplar of such "relevant" academics is Condi Rice whose academic accomplishments are, quite frankly, rather meager: only one book of any academic note, on the Czech military during the Cold War, which has been described as "not something that would be written by anyone who knows much about 20th century Czech history." Well, if her career is any indication, actual knowledge of 20th century Czech history isn't terribly "relevant," apparently.

Of course, Rice and many other of her ilk have been "relevant" in that they provided intellectual justifications for the agenda sought by their political masters, not necessarily because they helped create new knowledge or insights. Court historians who gild the political idols are the "relevant" ones while actual knowledge, pendantic, abstract, obscure or whatever their faults might be, is not. And since gilding political idols wins you fame and riches (and tankers named after you), who would want to waste time on the actual knowledge?

From an academic perspective, policy involvement (and the rewards associated with it) can only encourage lousy academic practice. Academics, for the sake of good academia, should be driven out of policymaking business and be made to work on being as "irrelevant" as possible. Of course, that would never work because knowing actual history of Czechoslovakia during 20th century (or the Middle East or the actual mathematical logic behind game theory or whatever) is too "irrelevant" to justify before university admins. So the academics who prostitute themselves as political con men get rewarded, and the beat goes on.

Brunswick

Col.

It's a hard call to make.

Their choices are limited, ISIS/Al Quida vision for their countries, the Borg Collective Vision for their countries, or the Assad/Maliki/Saleh vision for their countries.

Aside from the Houthi's and the YPG, the choices are rather stark and those groups are not exactly attracting support and backing for their "visions".

http://warisboring.com/articles/the-long-slow-betrayal-of-americas-interpreters/

Apparently, as well, there is some "number" of Syrian refugee's who arn't Syrian Refugee's, they are just using the passports for convenience.

I would suggest, given how many Syrian militia groups are basically "village guards", that fighting "against" something, when there is little vision for the future, compared to say the drive of Kuweris Airbase, or the Houthi's in Yemen, than fighting "for" something.

So what do you do if there is nothing to fight "for", no chance of winning even if there was a unfunded, unsupported "for", and death is ever present?

Get your family out?

Bandolero

Scott

Your idea is not new and it's failure has been tested. Recruiting fighters for various rebel groups in Syria from the refugee streams caused by the violence in Syria was exactly what was done in the last four years. The result that this policy produced in Syria everyone can see today.

And what you think who the migrants are? Read WSJ, quote:

In Syria, Assad Foes Pay High Price for Failed Offensive

Summer campaign by moderate rebels collapsed, bolstering the regime

By Sam Dagher And Suha Ma’ayeh Nov. 13, 2015

... Caught between the regime and extremists, many moderate opposition figures are now choosing to flee, not fight. Rebel ranks in the south are hemorrhaging officers and rank-and-file fighters, many of them leaving for Europe, said a Southern Front commander, a defector from the Syrian army who goes by the nom de guerre Lt. Col. Najm. “Each day I ask about someone, they tell me, ‘He’s gone,’ ” Col. Najm said. “Fighters on the front lines are quitting and migrating, too.” ... The exodus of mainstream rebels to Europe has left warlords, profiteers and Islamic extremists with more control, according to residents, activists and rebel commanders. “They sold out the revolution. It is all gangs now,” said Umm Abdou, a native of Daraa, who with her three sons is waiting in Jordan to join her husband in Germany. ...

Source:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-syria-assad-foes-pay-high-price-for-failed-offensive-1447464848?mod=wsj_article

bth

Just pulling a few numbers from memory, I recall ISIS had kidnapped and seized about 500 Turkish truckers early on in their rise to power. Then a recent article put the fleet figure at about 1000 total of which the US claimed early this week of destroying around 180ish. So now the Russians show some footage and claim 500 destroyed which is likely exaggerated. It is hard to tell if these were joint attacks or separate from the American raids. Also one wonders why the heck the Americans took so long when it is evident that IS pays many of their bills with oil refined to diesel. One wonders if the remaining trucking fleet could be channeled by selective destruction of river bridges.

J

Trail of Paris Attackers Winds to Terrorism’s Longtime Outpost
by Sebastian Rotella

https://www.propublica.org/article/trail-of-paris-attackers-winds-to-terrorisms-longtime-outpost

D

VV: "Mobilization is not on the table due to the risk of a conscript army forcing the government to do what’s right for the people not Oligarchs."

I was not wise enough to figure out how right you are about this for many years, until it occurred to me that my rock-ribbed Republican grandfather - lawyer and WWI MP - never would have tolerated the wholesale destruction of civil liberties we have seen in recent years, and that he and his buddies had real capabilities to do something about it which are no longer present in the general population.

William R. Cumming

Thanks for these insightful Upton Sinclair quotes. DRAGON'S TEETH being sown again IMO!

William R. Cumming

P.L.! Question respectfully asked? Is PERSONAL BRAVERY now the missing ingredient in the EU multitudes in your opinion? The U.S.A.?

Based on discussions on this blog and others I have concluded most of the BORG are not personally brave but could be wrong.

confusedponderer

Pat,
apropos bravery, I just read about and saw some pictures of recently liberated Kuweires airbase in Syria after the relief force eventually linked up with the defenders. This must give a well deserved moral boost to the Syrian army.

Some observations:

* The story of the siege from the defender's point of view is a story waiting to be told.

* The fighting must have been gruelling; it looks like two years of Stalingrad type Rattenkrieg have been fought.

* Surrounded by FSA and Jihadi rebels (who usually didn't bother taking prisoners) they held out for two years.

* It underlines that, to hold out and fight that long, something other than fear of Assad and propaganda must hold the men together.

* At a minimum, there must have been good Syrian leadership in the Kuweires kessel. The performance of the Syrian army has been underrated.

* During these two years, they could have changed sides at least initially since desertion was being incentivised by the outsiders fomenting the uprising - and yet they didn't.

* Eventually facing tafkiri jihadis, desertion or surrender must have ceased to be an option since either choice would have meant certain execution (a war crime).

* That also means that one of the factors primarily to blame for Syrian government attrition is the Syrian opposition not bothering themselves with taking prisoners (a war crime). For the Syrian government a soldier captured is KIA all the same.

* To fight such swine (war criminals) is not for the faint of heart.

* It inevitably leads to a certain sternness in conduct.

The notion peddled in the West that government controlled rump Syria is a place only held together by Assad's tyranny can't explain the curious resilience of the Kuweires defenders, and, just as bad, it doesn't bother to delve delve into the character Syrian opposition, probably out of fear of what they would find.

It is to me deeply dishonest to have newsies and newsers blather incessantly about of 'Assad's crimes against humanity' or even 'Russian war crimes in Syria' when the line they are pushing has the US funnel arms to the very Syrian opposition which commits war crimes on a daily basis.

As Landis put it: "I don’t know what the US uses as its metric for determining moderation, but if human rights is one of the metrics, none of these militias are following anything remotely close to what the United States would consider moderate or acceptable."

Indeed.

Frontline's borderline heretic documentary by Martin Smith (previously linked here) offers a rare glimpse at realities far, far beyond the western narrative.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/inside-assads-syria/

It's worth revisiting.

Chris Chuba

Col. Lang, I have a question regarding the Russian sorties, if you can answer it because I don't want to be unreasonable.
I realize that a portion of the sorties are strategic in nature, to take out ammo dumps, logistics, etc and not specifically to inflict casualties. However, a portion of them are in support of ground attacks where inflicting losses is crucial for 'the grinding phase' where attrition is meant to cause enough losses to allow a sudden break in FSA / Islamic Front positions.

Now the question, let's say that the Russians are able to dedicate 50 sorties a day to support ground attacks, they seem to be able to perform about 2 attacks per sortie. What's a reasonable estimate on how many average losses per attack they can inflict on the Unicorns? (losses per 100 attacks over 50 sorties)

I can see how even small changes in the number can make a massive difference over time. For example, if the answer is 1 that would mean 3,000 losses per month, if it is 3 then it rises to almost 10,000.

Chris Chuba

I believe there will be a backlash against the media regarding how the Russians are being portrayed in Syria and it will be reflected in how well Trump does in the primaries. No matter how the media tries to spin it, people in the U.S. will not fail to notice if the fortunes of ISIS are suddenly reversed within a year after Russian intervention started.

Personally, this is the point when I decided to stop watching FOX. I can take biased reporting but I cannot tolerate a total absence of critical thinking. The week before the Russians started bombing everyone on FOX was laughing about how Obama spent $500M and only trained 5 Syrian rebels. Then when the Russians started bombing everyone on FOX immediately bought into the Administrations line that the Russians were only bombing the thousands of CIA backed moderates and not ISIS. No one on FOX even blinked and asked the obvious question, how did 5 suddenly become thousands? When did the mission suddenly change from fighting ISIS to toppling Assad? They just jumped on board.

That was not bias, that was Stepford Wife territory.

confusedponderer

Given the large fighting age male content of those washing up on Europe's shore they also aren't willing, or no longer willing, to fight for their own countries or their own ideas for them.

I mean, what do you expect of some dude who went to the FSA, because the US, Gulfies and Turks allowed them to pay so good salaries and he urgently needed a job after having to move to the city because of the drought?

That's not the stuff heroes were made of. The moment the going gets tough and ambushing Syrian convois or patrols or swarming isolated Syrian poutposts and murdering the surrenderers ceases to be the norm, such dudes desert if they can.

Or take the guys from government controlled Syria who fled conscription in the Syrian army because of the losses generally and because they'd have to fight folks who wouldn't take prisoners.

It would be one of the reasons why generally the superior fighting power on the opposition side is with the Jihadis who have an actual cause to fight for.

turcopolier

WRC

IMO the country I grew up in is largely gone. The land is now inhabited by hedonists consumed with self above all else. Such creatures cannot imagine doing anything that might be costly to them. pl

turcopolier

All

If the American sheeple were not as I think them, the Borg would not be able to rule them. pl

tv

Would Romney have been as bad as the empty suit narcissicist playing President?
We'll never know, but the people who voted for the "cool" candidate, the first black candidate, the "thoughtful" candidate or the anti-American candidate really owe the rest of us an apology.
National security from a faculty lounge full of poli. sci. faculty (Col. Lang's favorite people)

J

They're too busy doing 'selfies'.

red brick

Most poli sci profs are sucked into the Borg and see their job as assistants to the state, rather than as independent critics. The problem is worse in the ivy and elite schools.

The best exceptions in the US are Bacevich (BU), Posen (MIT), Layne (Texas A&M), and increasingly Walt (Harvard) and Mearsheimer (Chicago). These are the realists who have been critical of US grand strategy in the post Cold War period. Their books are worth reading.

The US left has developed a similar critique, with Chomsky being the ground breaker since the 1960s. But he approached the issues from outside the political science discipline and thus was free to think independently. UCLA's Perry Anderson has just published a good book called 'US Foreign Policy and its Thinkers.' It's a good review of US grand strategy and the intellectual debates on it since WW2. Patrick Hearden's book on US planning during WW2 is also superb, and reinforces Gabriel Kolko's important "New Left" histories of US grand strategy from the 1940s onward. The realists and liberals have not published anything that rivals Kolko's two books -- The Politics of War and The Limits of Power. Leffler's book, A Preponderance of Power, might come close, but has analytical inconsistencies.

The Leveritt's have done a good job as realists, though they carry too much water for the Iranian government IMO. Russian expert Stephen Cohen (NYU) is kind of similar. His book, Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives, rightly pins the blame for the 'New Cold War' on aggressive US policies.

Individuals like Landis are good on particular countries. It helps that he has tenure at a school in flyover America, where there ismMuch less pressure to serve and conform.

Chomsky's essay on the 'Responsibility of Intellectuals' should be a prerequisite for PhDs. Unfortunately most doctoral programs serve as a highway into the Borg.

walrus

I am particularly peeved by the increasing numbers of academics who present themselves as experts on terrorism.

turcopolier

Anonymous
I went to the meeting because I need to keep track of what is being said in The Borg. pl

rjj

RE: ACADEMICS

H'raaaaay for the Internets!!! A SEARCHABLE Muqaddimah (needs to be downloaded - online search does not work well).

https://asadullahali.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/ibn_khaldun-al_muqaddimah.pdf

41. Scholars are, of all people, those least familiar
with the ways of politics.

[snip]

"(Now,) scholars are accustomed to generalizations and analogical conclusions. When they look at politics, they press (their observations) into the mold of their views and their way of making deductions. Thus, they commit many errors, or (at least) they cannot be trusted (not to commit errors). The intelligent and alert (segment) of civilized people falls into the same category as (scholars). Their penetrating minds drive them toward a searching occupation with ideas, analogy,and comparison, as is the case with jurists. Thus, they (too) commit errors.

[/snip]

So, that settles that. And now on to the bits about "group feeling" which is what we don't comprehend because it is both too close to our emotions and too distant from our experience for insight.

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