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Two Years of War



 
 
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Old September 12th 03, 06:13 AM
Stop Spam!
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Default Two Years of War

THE STRATFOR WEEKLY
09 September 2003

by Dr. George Friedman

Two Years of War

Summary

Two years into the war that began on Sept. 11, 2001, the primary
pressure is on al Qaeda to demonstrate its ability to achieve its
goals. The events of Sept. 11 were primarily intended to change
the internal dynamics of the Islamic world, but not a single
regime fell as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks. However, the
United States -- unable to decline action -- has taken a huge
risk in its response. The outcome of the battle is now in doubt:
Washington still holds the resources card and can militarily
outman al Qaeda, but the militant network's ability to pull off
massive and unpleasant surprises should not be dismissed.

Analysis

Old military communiques used to read, "The battle has been
joined but the outcome is in doubt." From Stratfor's viewpoint,
that seems to be the best way to sum up the status of the war
that began on Sept. 11, 2001, when al Qaeda operatives attacked
U.S. political, military and economic targets.

Though the militants were devastatingly successful in destroying
the World Trade Center and shutting down U.S. financial markets,
al Qaeda did not achieve its primary goal: a massive uprising in
the Islamic world. Its attack was a means toward an end and not
an end in itself. Al Qaeda's primary goal was the radical
transformation of the Islamic world as a preface for re-
establishing the Caliphate -- a multinational Islamic empire
that, at its height, stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific
oceans.

To achieve this end, al Qaeda knew that it had to first overthrow
existing regimes in the Islamic world. These regimes were divided
into two classes. One was made up of secular, socialist and
military regimes, inspired by Gamel Abdul Nasser. This class
included countries such as Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Libya. The
second class comprised the formally Islamic states of the Arabian
Peninsula, which Osama bin Laden referred to as "hypocrites" for
policies that appeared Islamic but actually undermined the
construction of the Caliphate. Finally, bin Laden had to deal
with the problem of Shiite Iran, which had taken the lead in
revolutionizing Islam but in which the Wahhabi and Sunni al Qaeda
had little confidence.

Al Qaeda's political objective was to set into motion the process
that would replace these governments with Islamist regimes. To
achieve this, al Qaeda needed a popular uprising in at least some
of these countries. But it reasoned that there could be no rising
until the Islamic masses recognized that these governments were
simply collaborators and puppets of the Christians, Jews and
Hindus. Even more important, al Qaeda had to demonstrate that the
United States was both militarily impotent and an active enemy of
the Islamic world. The attacks would serve to convince the masses
that the United States could be defeated. An ongoing war between
the United States and the Islamic world would serve to convince
the masses that the United States had to be defeated.

Al Qaeda had to stage an operation that would achieve these ends:

1. It had to show that the United States was vulnerable.
2. Its action had to be sufficiently severe that the United
States could not avoid a counterattack.
3. The counterattack had to be, in turn, countered by al Qaeda,
reinforcing the perception of U.S. weakness.

The events of Sept. 11 were intended primarily to change the
internal dynamics of the Islamic world. The attacks were designed
so that their significance could not be minimized in the Islamic
world or in the United States -- as had been the case with prior
al Qaeda strikes against U.S. interests. Al Qaeda also had to
strike symbols of American power -- symbols so obvious that their
significance would be understandable to the simplest Muslim.
Thus, operatives struck at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon
and -- in a failed attack -- Congress.

As expected, the attacks riveted global attention and forced the
United States to strike back, first in Afghanistan and then in
Iraq. The United States could not decline combat: If it did so,
al Qaeda's representation of the United States as an essentially
weak power would have been emphatically confirmed. That was not
an option. At the same time, optimal military targets were
unavailable, so the United States was forced into suboptimal
attacks.

The invasion of Afghanistan was the first of these. But the
United States did not defeat the Taliban; Knowing it could not
defeat U.S. troops in conventional combat -- the Taliban
withdrew, dispersed and reorganized as a guerrilla force in the
Afghan countryside. It is now carrying out counterattacks against
entrenched U.S. and allied forces.

In Iraq, the Islamist forces appear to have followed a similar
strategy within a much tighter time frame. Rather than continuing
conventional resistance, the Iraqis essentially dispersed a small
core of dedicated fighters -- joined by an international cadre of
Islamists -- and transitioned into guerrilla warfare in a few
short weeks after the cessation of major conventional combat
operations.

However, al Qaeda did not achieve its primary mission -- Sept. 11
did not generate a mass uprising in the Islamic world. Not a
single regime fell. To the contrary, the Taliban lost control of
Afghanistan, and the regime of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein fell.
Nevertheless, given its goals, al Qaeda was the net winner in
this initial phase. First, the U.S. obsession about being
attacked by al Qaeda constantly validated the militant network's
power in the Islamic world and emphasized the vulnerability of
the United States. Second, the United States threw itself into
the Islamic world, adding credence to al Qaeda's claim that the
country is the enemy of Islam. Finally, Washington drew a range
of Islamic regimes into collaboration with its own war effort,
demonstrating that these regimes -- from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan
-- were in fact collaborating with the Christians rather than
representing Islamic interests. Finally, by drawing the United
States into the kind of war it is the least competent in waging -
-guerrilla war -- al Qaeda created the framework for a prolonged
conflict that would work against the United States in the Islamic
world and at home.

Therefore, on first reading it would appear that the war has thus
far gone pretty much as al Qaeda hoped it would. That is true,
except for the fact that al Qaeda has not achieved the goal
toward which all of this was directed. It achieved the things
that it saw as the means toward the end, and yet the end is
nowhere in sight.

This is the most important fact of the war. Al Qaeda wins if the
Islamic world transforms itself at least in part by establishing
Islamist regimes. That simply hasn't happened, and there is no
sign of it happening. Thus far, at least, whatever the stresses
might have been in the Islamic world, existing regimes working in
concert with the United States have managed to contain the threat
quite effectively.

This might be simply a matter of time. However, after two years,
the suspicion has to be raised that al Qaeda calculated
everything perfectly -- except for the response. Given what has
been said about the Islamic world's anger at the United States
and its contempt for the corruption of many governments, the
failure of a revolutionary movement to take hold anywhere raises
the question of whether al Qaeda's core analysis of the Islamic
world had any truth, or whether other factors are at play.

Now turn the question to the United States for a moment. The
United States clearly understood al Qaeda's strategy. The
government understood that al Qaeda was hoping for a massive
counterattack in multiple countries and deep intrusions into
other countries. Washington understood that it was playing into
al Qaeda's plans; it nevertheless did so.

The U.S. analysis paralleled al Qaeda's analysis. Washington
agreed that the issue was the Islamic perception of U.S.
weakness. It understood, as President George W. Bush said in his
Sept. 7 speech, that Beirut and Somalia -- as well as other
events -- had persuaded the Islamic world that the country was
indeed weak. Therefore, U.S. officials concluded that inaction
would simply reinforce this perception and would hasten the
unraveling of the region. Therefore, they realized that even if
it played directly into al Qaeda's plan, the United States could
not refuse to act.

Taking action carried with it a huge risk -- that of playing out
al Qaeda's scenario. However, U.S. leaders made another bet: If
an attack on the Islamic world could force or entice regimes in
the area to act against al Qaeda inside their borders, then the
threat could be turned around. Instead of al Qaeda trapping the
United States, the United States could be trap al Qaeda. The
central U.S. bet was that Washington could move the regimes in
question in a suitable direction -- without their disintegration.
If it succeeded, the tables could be turned.

The invasion of Iraq was intended to achieve this, and to a great
extent it did. The Saudis moved against al Qaeda domestically.
Syria changed its behavior. Most importantly, the Iranians
shifted their view and actions. None of these regimes fell in the
process. None of these actions were as thorough as the United
States wanted, either -- and certainly none were definitive.
Nevertheless, collaboration increased, and no regime fell.

But at this point, the battle is in doubt:

1. The United States must craft strategies for keeping both the
Afghan and Iraqi campaigns at manageable levels. In particular,
it must contain guerrilla activities at a level that will not be
perceived by the Islamic world as a significant victory.
2. The United States must continue to force or induce nations to
collaborate without bringing down any governments.
3. Al Qaeda must, at some point, bring down a government to
maintain its own credibility. At this point, merely surviving is
not enough.

Both sides now are caught in a battle. The United States holds
the resource card: Despite insufficient planning for manpower
requirements over the course of the war, the United States is
still in a position to bring substantial power to bear in
multiple theaters of operation. For al Qaeda, the card is another
massive attack on the United States. In the short run, the
network cannot do more than sustain the level of combat currently
achieved. This level is insufficient to trigger the political
events for which it hopes. Therefore, it has to up the ante.

The next months will give some indication of the direction the
war is going. Logic tells us that the United States will contain
the war in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan. Logic
also tells us that al Qaeda will attempt another massive attack
in the United States to try to break the logjam in the Islamic
world. What al Qaeda needs is a series of uprisings from the
Pacific to the Atlantic that would topple existing regimes. What
the United States needs is to demonstrate that it has the will
and ability to contain the forces al Qaeda has unleashed.

At this moment, two years into the war, the primary pressure is
on al Qaeda. It has not yet demonstrated its ability to achieve
its goals; it has only achieved an ability to mobilize the means
of doing so. That is not going to be enough. On the other hand,
its ability to pull off massive and unpleasant surprises should
not be underestimated.
================================================== ==================
http://www.stratfor.com
(c) 2003 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.

Ads
  #2  
Old September 12th 03, 04:14 PM
Cub Driver
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default


The events of Sept. 11 were primarily intended to change
the internal dynamics of the Islamic world, but not a single
regime fell as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks.


Huh. I thought there were two: Afghanistan's and Iraq's.

all the best -- Dan Ford
email: www.danford.net/letters.htm#9

see the Warbird's Forum at www.warbirdforum.com
and the Piper Cub Forum at www.pipercubforum.com
  #3  
Old October 9th 03, 09:23 AM
ZZBunker
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

"Stop Spam!" wrote in message ...
THE STRATFOR WEEKLY
09 September 2003

by Dr. George Friedman

Two Years of War

Summary

Two years into the war that began on Sept. 11, 2001, the primary
pressure is on al Qaeda to demonstrate its ability to achieve its
goals. The events of Sept. 11 were primarily intended to change
the internal dynamics of the Islamic world, but not a single
regime fell as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks. However, the
United States -- unable to decline action -- has taken a huge
risk in its response. The outcome of the battle is now in doubt:
Washington still holds the resources card and can militarily
outman al Qaeda, but the militant network's ability to pull off
massive and unpleasant surprises should not be dismissed.

Analysis

Old military communiques used to read, "The battle has been
joined but the outcome is in doubt." From Stratfor's viewpoint,
that seems to be the best way to sum up the status of the war
that began on Sept. 11, 2001, when al Qaeda operatives attacked
U.S. political, military and economic targets.

Though the militants were devastatingly successful in destroying
the World Trade Center and shutting down U.S. financial markets,
al Qaeda did not achieve its primary goal: a massive uprising in
the Islamic world. Its attack was a means toward an end and not
an end in itself. Al Qaeda's primary goal was the radical
transformation of the Islamic world as a preface for re-
establishing the Caliphate -- a multinational Islamic empire
that, at its height, stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific
oceans.

To achieve this end, al Qaeda knew that it had to first overthrow
existing regimes in the Islamic world. These regimes were divided
into two classes. One was made up of secular, socialist and
military regimes, inspired by Gamel Abdul Nasser. This class
included countries such as Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Libya. The
second class comprised the formally Islamic states of the Arabian
Peninsula, which Osama bin Laden referred to as "hypocrites" for
policies that appeared Islamic but actually undermined the
construction of the Caliphate. Finally, bin Laden had to deal
with the problem of Shiite Iran, which had taken the lead in
revolutionizing Islam but in which the Wahhabi and Sunni al Qaeda
had little confidence.

Al Qaeda's political objective was to set into motion the process
that would replace these governments with Islamist regimes. To
achieve this, al Qaeda needed a popular uprising in at least some
of these countries. But it reasoned that there could be no rising
until the Islamic masses recognized that these governments were
simply collaborators and puppets of the Christians, Jews and
Hindus. Even more important, al Qaeda had to demonstrate that the
United States was both militarily impotent and an active enemy of
the Islamic world. The attacks would serve to convince the masses
that the United States could be defeated. An ongoing war between
the United States and the Islamic world would serve to convince
the masses that the United States had to be defeated.


Nuclear Powered US Air Craft Carriers transiting the
Suez Canal should be sufficient to convince
any idiots in the Middle East, Christians, Moslems,
or Jews that the US is not militarily impotent.
If Iraq has a popular uprising and kills 50,000
more of it's people that just the way it goes.
Since China by itself is sufficent to wipe all mulsims
off the face of the Earth, the US is not really sweating the
lastest dessert challenge.





Al Qaeda had to stage an operation that would achieve these ends:

1. It had to show that the United States was vulnerable.
2. Its action had to be sufficiently severe that the United
States could not avoid a counterattack.
3. The counterattack had to be, in turn, countered by al Qaeda,
reinforcing the perception of U.S. weakness.

The events of Sept. 11 were intended primarily to change the
internal dynamics of the Islamic world. The attacks were designed
so that their significance could not be minimized in the Islamic
world or in the United States -- as had been the case with prior
al Qaeda strikes against U.S. interests. Al Qaeda also had to
strike symbols of American power -- symbols so obvious that their
significance would be understandable to the simplest Muslim.
Thus, operatives struck at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon
and -- in a failed attack -- Congress.

As expected, the attacks riveted global attention and forced the
United States to strike back, first in Afghanistan and then in
Iraq. The United States could not decline combat: If it did so,
al Qaeda's representation of the United States as an essentially
weak power would have been emphatically confirmed. That was not
an option. At the same time, optimal military targets were
unavailable, so the United States was forced into suboptimal
attacks.

The invasion of Afghanistan was the first of these. But the
United States did not defeat the Taliban; Knowing it could not
defeat U.S. troops in conventional combat -- the Taliban
withdrew, dispersed and reorganized as a guerrilla force in the
Afghan countryside. It is now carrying out counterattacks against
entrenched U.S. and allied forces.

In Iraq, the Islamist forces appear to have followed a similar
strategy within a much tighter time frame. Rather than continuing
conventional resistance, the Iraqis essentially dispersed a small
core of dedicated fighters -- joined by an international cadre of
Islamists -- and transitioned into guerrilla warfare in a few
short weeks after the cessation of major conventional combat
operations.

However, al Qaeda did not achieve its primary mission -- Sept. 11
did not generate a mass uprising in the Islamic world. Not a
single regime fell. To the contrary, the Taliban lost control of
Afghanistan, and the regime of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein fell.
Nevertheless, given its goals, al Qaeda was the net winner in
this initial phase. First, the U.S. obsession about being
attacked by al Qaeda constantly validated the militant network's
power in the Islamic world and emphasized the vulnerability of
the United States. Second, the United States threw itself into
the Islamic world, adding credence to al Qaeda's claim that the
country is the enemy of Islam. Finally, Washington drew a range
of Islamic regimes into collaboration with its own war effort,
demonstrating that these regimes -- from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan
-- were in fact collaborating with the Christians rather than
representing Islamic interests. Finally, by drawing the United
States into the kind of war it is the least competent in waging -
-guerrilla war -- al Qaeda created the framework for a prolonged
conflict that would work against the United States in the Islamic
world and at home.

Therefore, on first reading it would appear that the war has thus
far gone pretty much as al Qaeda hoped it would. That is true,
except for the fact that al Qaeda has not achieved the goal
toward which all of this was directed. It achieved the things
that it saw as the means toward the end, and yet the end is
nowhere in sight.

This is the most important fact of the war. Al Qaeda wins if the
Islamic world transforms itself at least in part by establishing
Islamist regimes. That simply hasn't happened, and there is no
sign of it happening. Thus far, at least, whatever the stresses
might have been in the Islamic world, existing regimes working in
concert with the United States have managed to contain the threat
quite effectively.

This might be simply a matter of time. However, after two years,
the suspicion has to be raised that al Qaeda calculated
everything perfectly -- except for the response. Given what has
been said about the Islamic world's anger at the United States
and its contempt for the corruption of many governments, the
failure of a revolutionary movement to take hold anywhere raises
the question of whether al Qaeda's core analysis of the Islamic
world had any truth, or whether other factors are at play.

Now turn the question to the United States for a moment. The
United States clearly understood al Qaeda's strategy. The
government understood that al Qaeda was hoping for a massive
counterattack in multiple countries and deep intrusions into
other countries. Washington understood that it was playing into
al Qaeda's plans; it nevertheless did so.

The U.S. analysis paralleled al Qaeda's analysis. Washington
agreed that the issue was the Islamic perception of U.S.
weakness. It understood, as President George W. Bush said in his
Sept. 7 speech, that Beirut and Somalia -- as well as other
events -- had persuaded the Islamic world that the country was
indeed weak. Therefore, U.S. officials concluded that inaction
would simply reinforce this perception and would hasten the
unraveling of the region. Therefore, they realized that even if
it played directly into al Qaeda's plan, the United States could
not refuse to act.

Taking action carried with it a huge risk -- that of playing out
al Qaeda's scenario. However, U.S. leaders made another bet: If
an attack on the Islamic world could force or entice regimes in
the area to act against al Qaeda inside their borders, then the
threat could be turned around. Instead of al Qaeda trapping the
United States, the United States could be trap al Qaeda. The
central U.S. bet was that Washington could move the regimes in
question in a suitable direction -- without their disintegration.
If it succeeded, the tables could be turned.

The invasion of Iraq was intended to achieve this, and to a great
extent it did. The Saudis moved against al Qaeda domestically.
Syria changed its behavior. Most importantly, the Iranians
shifted their view and actions. None of these regimes fell in the
process. None of these actions were as thorough as the United
States wanted, either -- and certainly none were definitive.
Nevertheless, collaboration increased, and no regime fell.

But at this point, the battle is in doubt:

1. The United States must craft strategies for keeping both the
Afghan and Iraqi campaigns at manageable levels. In particular,
it must contain guerrilla activities at a level that will not be
perceived by the Islamic world as a significant victory.
2. The United States must continue to force or induce nations to
collaborate without bringing down any governments.
3. Al Qaeda must, at some point, bring down a government to
maintain its own credibility. At this point, merely surviving is
not enough.

Both sides now are caught in a battle. The United States holds
the resource card: Despite insufficient planning for manpower
requirements over the course of the war, the United States is
still in a position to bring substantial power to bear in
multiple theaters of operation. For al Qaeda, the card is another
massive attack on the United States. In the short run, the
network cannot do more than sustain the level of combat currently
achieved. This level is insufficient to trigger the political
events for which it hopes. Therefore, it has to up the ante.

The next months will give some indication of the direction the
war is going. Logic tells us that the United States will contain
the war in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan. Logic
also tells us that al Qaeda will attempt another massive attack
in the United States to try to break the logjam in the Islamic
world. What al Qaeda needs is a series of uprisings from the
Pacific to the Atlantic that would topple existing regimes. What
the United States needs is to demonstrate that it has the will
and ability to contain the forces al Qaeda has unleashed.

At this moment, two years into the war, the primary pressure is
on al Qaeda. It has not yet demonstrated its ability to achieve
its goals; it has only achieved an ability to mobilize the means
of doing so. That is not going to be enough. On the other hand,
its ability to pull off massive and unpleasant surprises should
not be underestimated.
================================================== ==================
http://www.stratfor.com
(c) 2003 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.

  #4  
Old October 9th 03, 11:05 AM
Cub Driver
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default



http://www.stratfor.com


Can anyone point me to the actual essay quoted here? When I look at
the Stratfor front page, I see stuff along the same line--even going
back to March--but I don't see this particular one.

Thanks!

all the best -- Dan Ford
email: www.danford.net/letters.htm#9

see the Warbird's Forum at www.warbirdforum.com
and the Piper Cub Forum at www.pipercubforum.com
 




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