Terrorists Are Like Cockroaches

Osama bin Cockroach Commenting on a recentish NYT report on foreign fighters flooding into Pakistan to support al Qaeda and Taliban militants, Thomas Barnett observes,

Spray one apartment and the bugs move over to the next. Wherever there’s the least resistance or the most opportunity, you find them clustered.

The Anbar awakening ruins al Qaeda’s long-term chances in Iraq, and so the clustering refocuses on Pakistan. With the surge succeeding in Iraq and Bush finally coming around to rapprochement with Iran, our re-direct on Afghanistan/Pakistan seems well underway for the next president.

Of course, they could always re-direct back if we “surge” in Aghanistan/Pakistan and leave Iraq before it is able to sustain the gains in security.

Image: Loftus

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Terrorism, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Exactly, James.

    That concrete is poured, but not dried yet.

    And isn’t it amazing? Just a few months ago, the left was spending all it’s time trying to discredit Malaki…and there was much to discredit, though the left never focused on the important stuff… such as he was invariably wrong about timeline pronouncemnets, as Max Boot pointed out yesterday.

    But now suddenly because he’s playing the polical animal, hedging his bets making nice with Obama, (While obviously not really agreeing with him) suddenly the left thinks him a sage for the ages, and he talks about a 16 month timeline.

    Perhaps it’s time, as Boot suggests to leave this to the experts… the commanders…both Iraqi and US, who say a timeline is dangerous to long term peace in the region.

  2. Floyd says:

    Sounds like a case for isolationism!
    Single family homes are easier to keep cockroach free![lol]

  3. Anderson says:

    Of course, they could always re-direct back if we “surge” in Aghanistan/Pakistan and leave Iraq before it is able to sustain the gains in security.

    Yes, but then they would be blowing up Iraqis, not Americans. Which isn’t really what *our* enemies are supposed to be all about, is it?

    I would indeed expect renewed terror attacks in Iraq, to lure us back onto the flypaper.

  4. Hal says:

    So, isn’t this just simply a rehashing of the “lump of terrorists” fallacy?

  5. anjin-san says:

    One issue is that we are treating the symptoms and not the disease. We could easily end up like Israel, fighting an endless war that we can never win in spit of our superior firepower.

    Tom Clancy warned of this just a few days after 9/11, that keeps coming back to me now…

  6. Hal says:

    Kenneth Ballen’s latest in the Washington Monthly is particularly relevant

    Our polls show that the anger Muslims around the world feel towards the United States is not primarily directed at our people or values—even those who say they support bin Laden don’t, for the most part, “hate us for our freedoms,” as President Bush has claimed. Rather, what drives Islamic public opinion is a pervasive perception that the United States and the West are hostile towards Islam. This perception, right or wrong, is fed by a variety of American actions, from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the overarching global war on terror. These actions are seen as profoundly disrespectful and humiliating because they amount to America forcing its will on the Muslim world.

    Just sayin’

    Know saying this is going to cause Michael’s scowl to appear, but if you don’t like mutants you should stop growing them in toxic waste. This whole “war against militant Islam” framing is likely the main support mechanism of militant Islam.

  7. Triumph says:

    Terrorists are like liberals as well–they hate freedom and flourish on destroying the basic values of civilization.

    This is why radical muslims like Hamas and al-Maliki prefer Hussein Obama to win the election.

  8. steve says:

    The military has been figuring this out. Terrorists need to recruit. Activities like Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and collateral damage help them to recruit. Having our troops in their countries, makes for good recruiting.

    People like Boot want to resolve this by conquering the whole Middle East and making them all become democracies. That is a route we could take, but we ought to have an honest debate about it.

    Bin Laden’s original plan was to take us on in Afghanistan. If you read Galula’s seminal work on counterinsurgency, Afghanistan is an almost ideal place to run an insurgency. Iraq was just a bonus for him. Fortunately for us, he was not well prepared for iraq. He loaned out the franchise name to a bunch of stupid thugs. We got rid of Rumsfeld and brought in the pros, Gates and Petraeus. We now face good old politics, Middle Eastern style. I am not sure what the US gets out of acting as Maliki’s SWAT team. We need to place conditions on his support. We have leverage but refuse to use it.

    Steve

  9. Snoop Diggity-DANG-Dawg says:

    “our re-direct on Afghanistan/Pakistan seems well underway for the next president.”

    And fortunately for us, President Obama has repeatedly expressed his willingness to invade Pakistan.

    Stand-by for more interesting times.

  10. markm says:

    “And fortunately for us, President Obama has repeatedly expressed his willingness to invade Pakistan.”

    Well who aint for invasion of a wobbly nuclear nation. C’mon.

  11. Michael says:

    So, isn’t this just simply a rehashing of the “lump of terrorists” fallacy?

    A good point, it’s easy enough for the Taliban’s Pashtun militants to blend in with the natives of northern Pakistan, but they’d stick out much more in Anbar, Iraq. Resources may shift location, but the people would be much harder to move and hide.

    Know saying this is going to cause Michael’s scowl to appear

    I scowl?

  12. Bithead says:

    This whole “war against militant Islam” framing is likely the main support mechanism of militant Islam

    Strange. I seem to recall pacifists prior to WWII saying the same thing about our diplomatic opposition to Germany’s activity being the main reason for Germany’s militarization. Any excuse will do, I suppose.

  13. Michael says:

    I seem to recall pacifists prior to WWII

    Wow, you’re older than I thought.

  14. Hal says:

    I scowl?

    Well, I at least imagine you do at times. 😉

    the people would be much harder to move and hide.

    Lately there’s been a lot of interviews with various COIN types – both the architects and implementers – on various public radio programs. And the one thing that’s pretty clear and consistent is that the number of people who we’re talking about is vanishingly small. There are two basic groups: the hard core and the opportunistic hangers on. The vast bulk is in the latter. However, they just go back to normal life when the hard core group leaves. So, the focus is one of the big issues. Like most people on the earth, most Muslims – even the “militant” ones have far more pressing things they want/need to do and unless inspired/pushed or whatever, they simply will go back to doing these things.

    My guess is that maintaining these terrorist groups is actually pretty hard. Likely lots of churn and difficulty in keeping coherence between the shifting populations as they move through the system.

  15. Hal says:

    Any excuse will do, I suppose.

    So, just to be clear about this, you’re saying that this is purely a pacifist line and strategy? This is really kind of hilarious because this kind of framing seems pretty much to be at the heart of counter insurgency, as practiced by Petraeus. Are you really claiming that Petraeus is like Neville Chamberlain and the rest of the pacifists you recall?

  16. Michael says:

    My guess is that maintaining these terrorist groups is actually pretty hard. Likely lots of churn and difficulty in keeping coherence between the shifting populations as they move through the system.

    Hmmm, an interesting perspective. It may actually be beneficial to _let_ them move from place to place in that case. If we can never kill them all, and we can never fully deny them a place to operate, maybe we can bleed them dry by making them spend all of their resources on logistics and not on fighting.

  17. William d'Inger says:

    One issue is that we are treating the symptoms and not the disease.

    I would be interested in knowing what you view as the disease and how you would treat it. Otherwise, I will take your quote to be standard liberal nonsense.

  18. Bithead says:

    So, just to be clear about this, you’re saying that this is purely a pacifist line and strategy?

    Purely? Perhaps not, but it’s interesting that the history shows such linkages.

    This is really kind of hilarious because this kind of framing seems pretty much to be at the heart of counter insurgency, as practiced by Petraeus.

    You’re really new at this game of real-world politics, aren’t you?

  19. Wayne says:

    About like prairie dogs? Aye Michael

    The left’s answers to bugs in the apartment is to do nothing since they will just move to the next apartment anyway.

  20. Bithead says:

    Wow, you’re older than I thought.

    You don’t know the half of it, sonny. (Heh)

    Seriously… I come from a time when we actually studied such matters in detail, and when the teachers of such subjets had actually lived through the period and actually remembered most of it for having been there at the time. To say nothing of the parents, who were also involved in that educational process, and who were also there.

    My history teacher, come to think on it now, was a Bird Colonel in the reserves, having surved I dunno how many years of Regular Army, including the latter half of the war in Europe, as he described it. I recall him having retired from the reserves during my Sr year. One of the few teachers I actually had any respect for, though. I doubt the schools of today would have liked his perspective on things. ;-/

    As an aside, I suspect that’s why we’ve been having such a problem with our own left the last few generations on the subject of whatever war happens to come up; we’ve lost the perspective on such matters. Sorry, I’m wandering abit. Just hadn’t thought about him in years, is all.

  21. Hal says:

    ou’re really new at this game of real-world politics, aren’t you?

    Um, that’s not the issue. I’m just trying to be clear about what your position is. On the one hand, you seem to be discarding my position based on the analogy to pre WWII pacifists. And yet, given that this same attitude is actually part and parcel of counter insurgency, you merely say that I’m new at this? That really isn’t an answer, rather it’s just a debate tactic to distract me from noticing that you haven’t actually answered me.

    So, let me ask it again. Are you claiming that the strategy Petraeus is promoting and following is one equivalent to the pre WWII pacifists and consequently is something to be discarded as irrelevant – at best – and more akin to a strategy followed by Neville Chamberlain – at worst? I’m just asking you to focus on this particular framing you’ve made, and would appreciate it if you would simply answer it.

  22. Hal says:

    Wayne,

    The left’s answers to bugs in the apartment is to do nothing since they will just move to the next apartment anyway.

    The problem with all analogies is that they aren’t complete. In this instance, the analogy between bugs and terrorists isn’t particularly apt in anything more than they are both unwanted.

    The left answer to terrorism is to focus on multiple fronts, concentrating on simply not making more terrorists than we already have, isolating the ones that exist and cutting off their lifeblood of support and using appropriate mechanisms – whether military, diplomatic or law enforcement – to eradicate those that exist.

    The strategy on the right seems to be to create even more terrorists than we had before, vastly increase their base of support by alienating the population they live in, and limit ourselves to only using massive military force to eradicate the ever multiplying number of terrorists created from the first two strategies, thus completing the cycle and creating more terrorists and further alienating the population we need to win over.

    Am I mischaracterizing anything?

  23. Bithead says:

    Um, that’s not the issue

    The heck it’s not. You clearly are clueless when it comes to identification of political posturing. It’s the only way to explain why you felt the need for the question to be asked, other than you think it provides you a little shelter.

    What you fail to recognize is that the groups in question function on hate. Much the same as Nazi Germany, the reason behind hate doesn’t need to make sense to be effective. The facts are much different than what AQI and the rest are spreading, but that doesn’t matter. Facts never do to such people, really. Petraeus understands this and is trying to fight the spread of hated by defusing the nonsense arguments fueling it.

  24. Snoop Diggity-DANG-Dawg says:

    “The left answer to terrorism is to focus on multiple fronts, concentrating on simply not making more terrorists than we already have…”

    Really? So where did 9/11 come from, what with Billy-Jeff enchanting the world with his excellence in superb awesomeness? Ya know, bringing everybody together?

    Oh yeah. Chimpy McHitler created them on 20 January, 2001.

    *Comment retracted*

  25. Michael says:

    About like prairie dogs?

    Sure, except that with prairie dogs it’s somewhat easier to identify and specifically target them and any collateral damage isn’t going to be too significant to you. If we had a way of target-poisoning just the terrorists, I’d be all for it.

  26. Hal says:

    It’s the only way to explain why you felt the need for the question to be asked, other than you think it provides you a little shelter.

    Okay, Dr. B. Tried to be kind, tried to make the effort to actually figure out what you were talking about. It’s all just political posturing to you.

    Conversation over. Thanks.

  27. DMan says:

    The left’s answers to bugs in the apartment is to do nothing since they will just move to the next apartment anyway.

    Late to the game and I know Hal already beat me in explaining why this analogy fails, but I thought I’d have fun with this game anyway.

    “The right’s answer to bugs in the apartment is to squash whatever bugs it can find, despite not cleaning up the food crumbs everywhere.”

    or

    “The right’s answer to bugs in the apartment is to blow up the apartment.”

    Wow, it sure is easy to make an unfair analogy and score cheap points. That was fun!

  28. Hal says:

    Wow, it sure is easy to make an unfair analogy and score cheap points.

    To go further, let’s remember that it’s pretty much impossible to tell the difference between the infesting cockroaches and the residents of the apartment. So it’s not a simple matter of killing the bugs. You have to determine which are bugs and which are your potential allies.

    And given that this is hard to do, we invariably kill a lot of potential allies (see Iraq, civilian causalities) in our effort to kill the unwanted bugs. Worse, is that when we do this, we can turn non-bugs into bugs because we just blew away their families or we just imprisoned them or tortured them by mistake or something.

    So, now we have bug amplification

    Worse, we don’t just show up and quietly kill the bugs and leave. No, we pull into their apartments, take over the place with an undetermined exit date. They used to have free run of their apartments, but now they’re under curfew and their movements are highly restricted. Lots of heavy equipment and explosions going off as they battle the bugs, disrupting the apartment dweller’s lives in serious ways.

    Again, there’s bug amplification because of the resentment that these actions cause.

    Could take it further an score even more cheap points, of course.

  29. steve says:

    Yup. It sure is fun. Anyway, Petraeus, if you actually read anything he has written, or just start with the new Army Field manual, is much more interested in an approach that limits the ability of insurgents and terrorists to recruit. One that allows us to obtain intelligence from the population. One that does not demonize all Muslims. Heck, he even knows the difference between a Persian and an Arab.

    Opposition to torture, talking with the enemy and avoiding collateral damage are hallmarks of Petraeus’ COIN approach. Kill them when you can, but dont create new ones.

    Steve

  30. Wayne says:

    Hal
    It was a Republican President that went after terrorist funds, put real pressure on terrorist supporting state, broke down barriers between law enforcement agencies, broke down barriers between intelligence agencies, etc, and eliminated safe havens and much more.

    “The problem with all analogies is that they aren’t complete”
    True but the left do like using them. Remember “whack a mole”? Only problem is the left don’t follow it through. They like going with perception and not reality. Perception is it is pointless to whack one mole since another one will pop up. Reality is if you wipe them out fast enough you can greatly reduce their presence and influence.

    Michael
    Obviously you haven’t dealt with prairie dogs. Small group of them are hard to find. You have to look hard and cover a great deal of ground in order to find most of them. If you’re not careful you can waste a great deal of money battling them. Their presence causes a great deal of damage and if you’re not careful with the poison and shooting, you can kill livestock, although usually it is the family pets and what not that get killed by accident.

    As for the terrorist, yes we need to find them. Once that is done we need to kill them. We need to dry up their resources. Yes we should limit and be concern about actions that would cause a large recruitment but we can’t let fear about any new recruitment keep us from doing anything. We can’t be so fearful of angering anyone that it keeps us from taking action.

    As for the bug analogy, the left would put a trap out to catch them in the apartment and let them appeal their detention in court. They may clean some food off the floor but that is about it.

    The right would formicate the apartment and insist that their neighbors do the same thing. If the neighbors didn’t then they would do it for them. They would look for other sources like a nearby dump that may need clean up. They would keep going until they got results not just set around and complain.

  31. Bruce Moomaw says:

    All this suggests that our REALLY most cost-effective anti-terrorist measures would be to:

    (1) Try to minimize their chances of getting their hands on nuclear or biological weapons from Pakistan, North Korea, Iran or Russia (which involves non-military measures, with the possible exception of Iran); and

    (2) Taking a few more domestic measures (NOT including shredding the most elementary civil rights of man in the process, thank you) to minimize their chances of making any more non-nuclear and non-biological attacks as devastating as 9-11.

    The most likely techniques they might use for the latter, in turn, are:

    (A) Getting their hands on large planes that are not jetliners (as “Aviation Week” pointed out in an editorial a few years ago). It’s still alarmingly easy to hijack, steal, or simply buy a cargo plane in this country to use as a weapon.

    (B) Blowing up chemical or natural gas storage facilities (which seems far easier and more cost-effective for terrorists than trying to blow up a nuclear power plant).

    If we take these measures, there might still be occasional future terrorist attacks that would kill several hundred Americans apiece. But — horrible though those are — Spain survived one, and we survive similar-sized disasters regularly in the form of accidental jetliner crashes. (Lest we forget, Bin Laden himself was surprised at the scale of his success on 9-11 — he had expected only a few hundred American deaths, and had not anticipated the Towers actually collapsing.)

  32. Bruce Moomaw says:

    As for Iraq: the trouble with Iraq — as it has always been — is that they themselves don’t seem to be particularly interested in “sustaining the gains in security”.

  33. Bruce Moomaw says:

    And in THAT connection, let’s review that Max Boot column that Bithead is so enthusiastic about. To be precise, Boot said that we should totally ignore what Maliki said because — so help me God — he’s not the REAL head of Iraq. The REAL heads of Iraq, it turns out — to whom we should be paying very close attention indeed — are its defense minister (who wants us to stay until 2018) and the commander of the troops in Basra (who wants us to stay until 2020).

    As for the October provincial election, pro-American forces are sure to win it because “…[M]ost Iraqis realize that the gains of the surge are fragile and could be undone by a too-rapid departure of U.S. forces” — although, half a column earlier, Boot had said that Maliki is asking us to pull out fast because of “the imperative of Iraq’s provincial elections, supposed to take place this year. Maliki no doubt expects that his Dawa party will reap political benefits from appearing to stand up to the Americans.” Now, how do you suppose he got that crazy idea, merely because so many Iraqis are al-Sadr enthusiasts, or because Iraqis tell recent opinion pollsters by a landslide margin that they want us to get lost? (Al-Sadr, by the way, is not mentioned at all in Boot’s column.)

  34. Hal says:

    To echo M.Y., it is kind of weird that even a half a year ago, the US leaving when the Iraqis asked us to was pretty non-controversial. It seems to have become controversial and a matter of great importance only when the Iraqis actually have started to suggest it was time to leave. McCain, himself, has been recently saying that we have already won in Iraq – i.e. that we have achieved victory in Iraq.

    It really is truly odd to see the party that used to be defined on a platform of non intervention and the end of “nation building” be reduced to the pandering and the sad work necessary to maintain the bizarro world frames that can accommodate the pretzel logic that seems to be required to maintain the world view.

    I liked the Republicans better before they lost their minds.

  35. anjin-san says:

    It was a Republican President that went after terrorist funds, put real pressure on terrorist supporting state, broke down barriers between law enforcement agencies, broke down barriers between intelligence agencies, etc, and eliminated safe havens and much more

    Yea. After thousands of Americans were murdered on our own soil on his watch. What exactly did he say to the briefing officer who warned him Bin Laden was determined to attack? Oh yes. “Now you’ve covered your ass”. Too bad he did not cover ours.

    Meanwhile, airline security remains at pre-9/11 levels, and Bin laden remains at large.

    As for safe havens, please. WTF do you think Bin Laden is?

  36. Bruce Moomaw says:

    Yet another postscript: the latest in a series of ABC/BBC polls of Iraqis — taken in February — shows some rather weird cognitive dissonance on the part of Iraqis’ attitudes toward Americans. (See pg. 29-33 and 38 of the poll.)

    Specifically, by a 62-38 landslide, they don’t want us to leave QUITE yet — instead, they want us to hang around “until security is restored.” And by huge landslides, they think we should “have a role” in “providing training and weapons to the Iraqi Army”, “assisting in the security of Iraq in terms of Iran”, and “participating in security operations against al-Qaeda or foreign jihadis in Iraq” (fully 80-19 for that last one!)

    But in every other respect, they hate our guts. By 70-29, they think we’ve done “a bad job”. By 73-26, they “oppose the presence of coalition forces in Iraq”. By 61-27, they think our forces “have made security worse” in Iraq. By 46-29, they think “the security situation overall would become better if American forces left the country entirely”.

    Now, what does one make of this muddle? It’s hard to say, but the overall implication seems to be that al-Maliki has huge appeal to the average Iraqi by saying that he wants the US to hang around just a LITTLE bit longer in Iraq and then get lost, except for a small number of residual troops. Which is also exactly Obama’s position. (Let’s also keep in mind that the overall results of this poll are massively swayed by the opinions of the Kurds — who want us to stay by overwhelming landslide margins, as they always have, but who are also still opposed by a 52-35 landslide to continuing being part of Iraq at all.)

    Last but not least, let’s keep in mind that this poll also confirms in multiple ways that Iraqis — by an overwhelming margin — do absolutely detest al-Qaeda, which means that al-Qaeda is going to have Hell’s own time functioning effectively in Iraq even after we DO leave.

  37. Hal says:

    do absolutely detest al-Qaeda, which means that al-Qaeda is going to have Hell’s own time functioning effectively in Iraq even after we DO leave

    Which only the naive believe is not the case. After all, how well is a Sunni terrorist group going to function in a Shiite dominated country when both the Shiite and the Sunni have a common thorn in their side called the occupation by the US?

    It’s a self fulfilling cycle and the only way out is to simply withdraw in a responsible fashion.

  38. Bruce Moomaw says:

    Drawing the threads together:

    (1) Now that even Iraq’s Sunnis have decided that they detest al-Qaeda, it’s flatly impossible for a-Q to operate any large bases there. (In that ABC/BBC poll, the Sunnis — at the same time that they want most US troops to leave instantly by 61-39 — still favor allowing small numbers of US troops to assist with operations against a-Q by two to one.)

    (2) But there are still two places where a-Q CAN operate large bases with the tolerance of the locals. One is east Afghanistan. The other is the Northwest Province of Pakistan — where they’re operating now with the full permission of “our ally Pakistan” (as McCain calls it), but where (contrary to Obama’s muscle-flexing) we can’t attack them without dangerously provoking a country with 100 nukes and a very wobbly government. So:

    (3) The only place on Earth where a large US military presence is both necessary and possible against large a-Q bases is east Afghanistan — which bin Laden’s forces will try to flee back to if the Pakistanis ever get off their asses and throw them out of the Northwest Province (and from which we can invade that Province if the Pakistanis ever decide to allow us to do so).

  39. Hal says:

    Bruce, nice summary. Though I wonder about the assertion that Pakistan has 100 nukes. I don’t really know the answer to that, but it is rather surprising that the number is that high.

    Point three is spot on, and it’s pretty clear that our military has been lobbying hard for just this. I think, with the new govn’t and Musharraf on the wane, we really should do a serious push on the education front in Pakistan.

    What I hear consistently is that we’re simply doing jack there from a social perspective – i.e. all our funding is going straight to the military and likely the source of funding for those nukes and their expeditions in Cashmere. The pay off, even in the short term, from heavily investing in education in Pakistan is likely tremendous. The only reason the religious schools have the influence they do is because there simply is no other alternative.

    On another note, though, there still is the huge opium production elephant in the room WRT Afghanistan… I find it hard to believe that the two issues aren’t linked and the amount of corruption caused by being the largest opium supplier in the history of the planet has got to be a serious issue. So it may be that we’re just squeezing the balloon if we don’t tackle that issue head on simultaneously…

  40. Bruce Moomaw says:

    I think we have a much possible stronger point of leverage in the horrible Pakistan situation: Start allowing Pakistani textiles into the US in large quantities — but with those quantities contingent upon how well Pakistan behaves itself, and how well it cooperates with us both in swatting al-Qaeda and ceasing to wave nukes at India. Then sit back and chuckle while al-Qaeda and the Taliban, to an increasing degree, have to run for their lives from the Pakistani military — and the people of Pakistan actually approve of the fact. THAT is a genuinely effective way to deal with the little creep.

    I’m hardly the first to propose this; the NY Times and the New Republic did so years ago. But have we heard a peep about it from any of the presidential candidates? Nope; musn’t run the risk of alienating enough American textile workers to lose North or South Carolina! (The fact that compensating and retraining those workers and employing them in other professions would be somewhat less costly than a nuclear-terrorist attack on the US doesn’t seem to have occurred to any of the muscle-flexing candidates, or for that matter to Bush.)

    In fact, an organization called “Terror-Free Tomorrow” has taken a whole series of recent polls of Pakistanis, providing chilling confirmation of how much more popular al-Qaida is in that country than the US at the moment — but also confirming that “[A] majority of Pakistanis said their opinion of the United States would improve if, among other things, there were increases in American aid to Pakistan, American business investments and the number of visas issued for Pakistanis to work in the United States.”

    TFT’s president, Ken Ballen, has done a whole series of articles over the last two months on the subject of catching lots more Moslems with brotherly help than with threats — including two that appeared in the LA Times and the Washington Monthly, and one co-authored with Peter Bergen. The most remarkable thing, however, is that TFT’s board of advisors at the moment includes one Sen. John McCain (along with Bill Frist, Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean) — but I don’t think he’s ever said a word about TFT’s views.

  41. Bruce Moomaw says:

    As for Pakistan having 100 nukes, I’m quoting a recent issue of “Science”. Unfortunately.

  42. Bithead says:

    Okay, Dr. B. Tried to be kind, tried to make the effort to actually figure out what you were talking about. It’s all just political posturing to you.

    You really don’t know?
    Or you wre hoping perhps for a place where you could give your argument some traction. Failing that, it’s ‘conversation over’.

    What was the line you used on me when I said that, again?

    Oh, never mind.

  43. Michael says:

    Obviously you haven’t dealt with prairie dogs. Small group of them are hard to find. You have to look hard and cover a great deal of ground in order to find most of them. If you’re not careful you can waste a great deal of money battling them. Their presence causes a great deal of damage and if you’re not careful with the poison and shooting, you can kill livestock, although usually it is the family pets and what not that get killed by accident.

    Sounds quite a big like Iraq actually. So, for prairie dogs, how do you determine when you’ve reached the point where continuing to battle them costs more money that it is worth?

    As for the terrorist, yes we need to find them. Once that is done we need to kill them. We need to dry up their resources. Yes we should limit and be concern about actions that would cause a large recruitment but we can’t let fear about any new recruitment keep us from doing anything. We can’t be so fearful of angering anyone that it keeps us from taking action.

    You’ll notice that I don’t take the “creating AQ sympathy” line as a reason to leave Iraq. Yes, action must be taken. Action in Iraq wasn’t necessary in 2003, because it wasn’t a resource to AQ. Once AQI became significant, then yes, action against them was necessary. Now that AQI is not longer a threat, and their operational capabilities have been significantly rolled back, I don’t believe that continued US action against them is worth the cost.

  44. Michael says:

    What I hear consistently is that we’re simply doing jack there from a social perspective – i.e. all our funding is going straight to the military and likely the source of funding for those nukes and their expeditions in Cashmere. The pay off, even in the short term, from heavily investing in education in Pakistan is likely tremendous. The only reason the religious schools have the influence they do is because there simply is no other alternative.

    I’ve known several Pakistanis, and their education seemed on par with that of most Indians I’ve met. Pakistan is a far cry from Afghanistan in terms of educational institutions.

  45. Michael says:

    Start allowing Pakistani textiles into the US in large quantities — but with those quantities contingent upon how well Pakistan behaves itself, and how well it cooperates with us both in swatting al-Qaeda and ceasing to wave nukes at India. Then sit back and chuckle while al-Qaeda and the Taliban, to an increasing degree, have to run for their lives from the Pakistani military — and the people of Pakistan actually approve of the fact. THAT is a genuinely effective way to deal with the little creep.

    I’m not sure that overtly using our economic power to dictate Pakistan’s foreign and domestic policies will boost our popularity over there. The people who will benefit from such a policy, or at least directly recognize the benefit, are already pro-democracy and anti-terrorist.

    What Pakistan needs is popular support for military action against extremists within their borders.

  46. Hal says:

    Pakistan is a far cry from Afghanistan in terms of educational institutions.

    True, but immaterial, no? I know a few well educated people from many countries where the rest of the population isn’t very educated. It’s a self selecting system, since the poorly educated will rarely venture outside their country and if they do, almost certainly won’t travel in the circles I do so there’s zero chance of me meeting them unless I visit the country in question. The “I know educated people from X” is the fallacy of the biased sample.

    As to assessing Pakistan’s education, even the Heritage Foundation sees the need for us doing massive work here and the benefit it will produce.

  47. Wayne says:

    Michael
    My family believes in spending some time and resources when we first run across a population to eliminate them and detect any nearby sites. This can be done with terrorist by detecting groups early and see if they belong to a larger group. We end up spending fewer resources in the long run with less damage on the home front.

    Human nature is to procrastinate. We had neighbors who would wait until the populations were creating a great deal of damage. Only then would they be motivated to act. We would tell them that they need to hit them early, hard and fast. Their reply usually would be “but it such a hassle and a few aren’t really that bad.” Which is true but that “attitude” usually resulted in some very out of control populations.

    It is the same way with the terrorist. We were saying they needed to be dealt with back in 80’s and 90’s. Others were saying it before then.

  48. Michael says:

    Wayne,
    We seem to be talking past each other, I’m not saying we shouldn’t do anything about terrorists, I’m saying that we should know when trying to do more doesn’t make sense. I think you’ve made exactly that point in regards to prairie dogs, so I think we’re mostly in agreement.

  49. Bruce Moomaw says:

    Michael: “I’m not sure that overtly using our economic power to dictate Pakistan’s foreign and domestic policies will boost our popularity over there. The people who will benefit from such a policy, or at least directly recognize the benefit, are already pro-democracy and anti-terrorist.”

    The people of Pakistan would certainly prefer it to our current policy of COMPLETELY banning most of their textile exports to us — at the same time that we’ve been trying to solve the terrorism problem instead by playing kissy-face with Musharraf, whom they detest. (Those same TFT polls also show him less popular in the country than Bin Laden — although I suppose he can console himself with the thought that he’s still more popular there than Bush is.)

  50. Michael says:

    The people of Pakistan would certainly prefer it to our current policy of COMPLETELY banning most of their textile exports to us

    That would be the logical feeling, but you and I both know that logic rarely has an effect on such sentiment.