Monday, September 22, 2008

Winning against terrorists

From JCPA Strategic Perspectives, by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (very brief excerpts only - follow the link to download the full report):

Contrary to popular belief, conventional armies can indeed defeat terrorist insurgencies.

This study will detail the six basic conditions which, if met, enable an army to fight and win the war against terrorism, among which are control of the ground where the insurgency is being waged, acquiring relevant intelligence for operations against the terrorists themselves, and isolating the insurgency from cross-border reinforcement with manpower or material.

It will also examine the factors that can help drive a wedge between the local population and the insurgent forces seeking its support. The principles of war will also be analyzed in terms of their applicability to asymmetric warfare to show how they still serve as a vital guide for armies in vanquishing terror.

Finally, the study warns that if the U.S., Israel, or their Western allies incorrectly conclude that they have no real military option against terrorist insurgencies – out of a fear that these conflicts inevitably result in an unwinnable quagmire – then the war on terrorism will be lost even before it is fully waged....

....The situation that prevailed in the West Bank after Operation “Defensive Shield” (April 2002) is an excellent example of how terror can be vanquished with military force – at least destroy the enemy’s capabilities through a continuous effort and without solving the conflict. Israel went to war after it counted 132 dead, all of them civilians, in the preceding month (meaning the equivalent of more than 1,500 deaths a year). In a continuous and uninterrupted effort following that campaign, Israel’s terror casualty rate declined to 11 civilians for all of 2006, which mathematically speaking was less than 1 percent of the 2002 figure. In 2007, Israeli civilian casualties from terrorism originating in the West Bank fell even further. In practical terms, Israel was clearly victorious in repressing terrorism. This is true even if the Palestinians’ effort to renew their terrorist attacks and their dream of killing Jews inside Israeli territory remained as strong as ever. It was an outstanding victory – the type of victory over terror that one can demand of the army.

Of course, from the army’s standpoint, even 11 people murdered annually by terror constitutes an unacceptable number, and the utmost must be done to reduce it to zero. Yet there is no doubt that such a figure, and the commensurate relative tranquility and prosperity it affords Israel, represents a genuine failure for terrorism. Indeed, we see that those who pressed to allow the IDF military freedom of action at a time when its hands were tied, and who penned the slogan “Let the IDF Win,” were correct. When the government allowed the IDF to act, it actually did win....

...Six Basic Conditions
An examination of many terrorist events throughout the world (but especially the Israeli experience in fighting Palestinian and Hizbullah terrorism) shows that six basic conditions can be defined which, if met, provide the foundation for defeating terrorism:

• A political decision to defeat terrorism, stated explicitly and clearly to the security forces, and the willingness to bear the political cost of an offensive.
• Acquiring control of the territory in and from which the terrorists operate.
• Relevant intelligence.
Isolating the territory within which the counterterrorist fighting takes place.
• Multi-dimensional cooperation between intelligence and operations.
Separating the civilian population from the terrorists.

These conditions are necessary but insufficient; they do not ensure victory over
terrorism, but without them victory is impossible....

The discussion above has shown that one can essentially vanquish terror, even if it is a victory that only prevents terror from successfully implementing its plans, while it does not influence the terrorists’ intentions. Victory of this type requires constant and determined effort from the moment that it is attained, for if not, conditions will revert to their former sorry state as soon as the terror organizations deem themselves strong enough.

An evaluation of the war on terrorism must address the question of the level of victory over terror that can be obtained under conditions of the battle theater – total victory, temporary victory, or sufficient victory – and how one can improve the level of victory over time. It is clear that such a discussion is relevant only if one embraces the contention that the democratic state is essentially capable of subduing the terror that menaces it....

Khazar City Discovered in Russia?

From AOL, by MANSUR MIROVALEV, 20/9/08 :

MOSCOW (Sept. 20) - A Russian archaeologist says he has found the lost capital of the Khazars, a powerful nation that adopted Judaism as its official religion more than 1,000 years ago, only to disappear leaving little trace of its culture.

[Note that some conjecture that modern European Jewry is descended largely from the Khazars - see Arthur Koestler's "The Thirteenth Tribe" - SL]

Dmitry Vasilyev, a professor at Astrakhan State University, said his nine-year excavation near the Caspian Sea has finally unearthed ...what was once Itil, the Khazar capital.

..."The discovery of the capital of Eastern Europe's first feudal state is of great significance," he told The Associated Press. "We should view it as part of Russian history."

Kevin Brook, the American author of "The Jews of Khazaria," e-mailed Wednesday that he has followed the Itil dig over the years, and even though it has yielded no Jewish artifacts, "Now I'm as confident as the archaeological team is that they've truly found the long-lost city.

The Khazars were a Turkic tribe that roamed the steppes from Northern China to the Black Sea. Between the 7th and 10th centuries they conquered huge swaths of what is now southern Russia and Ukraine, the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia as far as the Aral Sea.

Itil, about 800 miles south of Moscow, had a population of up to 60,000 and occupied 0.8 square miles of marshy plains southwest of the Russian Caspian Sea port of Astrakhan, Vasilyev said.
It lay at a major junction of the Silk Road, the trade route between Europe and China, which "helped Khazars amass giant profits," he said.

The Khazar empire was once a regional superpower, and Vasilyev said his team has found "luxurious collections" of well-preserved ceramics that help identify cultural ties of the Khazar state with Europe, the Byzantine Empire and even Northern Africa. They also found armor, wooden kitchenware, glass lamps and cups, jewelry and vessels for transporting precious balms dating back to the eighth and ninth centuries, he said.

But a scholar in Israel, while calling the excavations interesting, said the challenge was to find Khazar inscriptions. "If they found a few buildings, or remains of buildings, that's interesting but does not make a big difference," said Dr. Simon Kraiz, an expert on Eastern European Jewry at Haifa University. "If they found Khazar writings, that would be very important."

Vasilyev says no Jewish artifacts have been found at the site, and in general, most of what is known about the Khazars comes from chroniclers from other, sometimes competing cultures and empires. "We know a lot about them, and yet we know almost nothing: Jews wrote about them, and so did Russians, Georgians, and Armenians, to name a few," said Kraiz. "But from the Khazars themselves we have nearly nothing."

The Khazars' ruling dynasty and nobility converted to Judaism sometime in the 8th or 9th centuries. Vasilyev said the limited number of Jewish religious artifacts such as mezuzas and Stars of David found at other Khazar sites prove that ordinary Khazars preferred traditional beliefs such as shamanism, or newly introduced religions including Islam.

Yevgeny Satanovsky, director of the Middle Eastern Institute in Moscow, said he believes the Khazar elite chose Judaism out of political expediency — to remain independent of neighboring Muslim and Christian states. "They embraced Judaism because they wanted to remain neutral, like Switzerland these days," he said.

In particular, he said, the Khazars opposed the Arab advance into the Caucasus Mountains and were instrumental in containing a Muslim push toward eastern Europe. He compared their role in eastern Europe to that of the French knights who defeated Arab forces at the Battle of Tours in France in 732.

The Khazars succeeded in holding off the Arabs, but a young, expanding Russian state vanquished the Khazar empire in the late 10th century. Medieval Russian epic poems mention Russian warriors fighting the "Jewish Giant." "In many ways, Russia is a successor of the Khazar state," Vasilyev said. He said his dig revealed traces of a large fire that was probably caused by the Russian conquest. He said Itil was rebuilt following the fall of the Khazar empire, when ethnic Khazars were slowly assimilated by Turkic-speaking tribes, Tatars and Mongols, who inhabited the city until it was flooded by the rising Caspian Sea around the 14th century.

The study of the Khazar empire was discouraged in the Soviet Union. The dictator Josef Stalin, in particular, detested the idea that a Jewish empire had come before Russia's own. He ordered references to Khazar history removed from textbooks because they "disproved his theory of Russian statehood," Satanovsky said.

Only now are Russian scholars free to explore Khazar culture. The Itil excavations have been sponsored by the Russian-Jewish Congress, a nonprofit organization that supports cultural projects in Russia.

"Khazar studies are just beginning," Satanovsky said.

Canadian Israel advocacy in turmoil

From JPost by Isi Leibler, September 21, 2008:

Canadian Jews can take pride in the remarkable infrastructure of educational, religious and cultural institutions they have created. The fact that assimilation and intermarriage in Canada are far less advanced than in the United States is largely attributable to their magnificent network of Jewish day schools. Canadian Jews also have a splendid record of support for Israel and their donors are among the most generous contributors to projects in the Jewish state.

Regrettably, in recent years the community's public advocacy on behalf of Israel has dramatically declined. This paralleled a major upsurge in anti-Semitism and demonization of Israel as a consequence of Muslim immigration and intensified hostility from the Canadian left.
The downturn had its genesis in 2004 when the principal communal fund-raisers, concerned about increased anti-Semitism and hostility to Israel, decided to supplant the traditional communal advocacy bodies - the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Canada Israel Committee - with a "more professional" organization. The new entity, the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA), was commissioned to deal exclusively with "advocacy on Canada Israel relations while the Canadian Jewish Congress would handle issues of Jewish concern." This effectively neutralized the central role of the Canadian Jewish Congress in determining policies on Israel and anti-Semitism and replaced it with an undemocratic body headed by professional public relations consultants.

The federations, via the United Israel Appeal, allocate very substantial funds to the CIJA. The budget this year, including mega-salaries for the principal officers, amounts to more than $11 million.

However, from the outset, the new team of PR professionals, headed by CEO Herschel Ezrin, was soon identified as archetypical practitioners of the discredited sha shtil approach, displaying passivity and determined to maintain a low profile. Their vast financial resources concentrated on campaigns emphasizing that Israelis "are just like the rest of us Canadians".

Their PR philosophy, depicted as a model that other communities would do well to emulate, was outlined in a surrealistic internal document circulated in 2004 titled "The 10 Commandments." It was never formally repudiated and to this day appears to reflect CIJA policy. The document must be seen to be believed.

Commandment 5 states: "Do not directly attack or assign blame to the Palestinians or their leadership. Canadians will not tolerate - or believe - that one side is more responsible for the violence than the other."

Commandment 6 says: "Do not ask Canadians to pick a side in the conflict or assign blame. Very few Canadians are prepared to assign blame for ongoing violence or attacks."

Commandment 7 states explicitly: "Do not ask the government of Canada to appear - or be - more favorable to Israel... There is no support for further government support of Israel."
Commandment 9 warns: "Do not attack the media for being biased against Israel... There is no constituency to support a public effort to attack the media."

That such a document was not immediately condemned and withdrawn demonstrates how a group of wealthy donors, dazzled by "PR expertise," bypassed the will of the vast majority of Canadian Jews.

The obsession to avoid "confrontation" was especially acute on the campuses where Hillel activists were explicitly directed to avoid debates, ignore Arab anti-Israeli tirades and never display examples of Islamic anti-Semitism to avoid offending Muslim groups.

Three years ago, the PR mavens even managed to convince the Montreal federation to cancel the annual Israel Independence Day parade out of a fear of possible anti-Israeli counterdemonstrations. Fortunately, independent communal leaders, rabbis and school principals took it upon themselves to lead a grassroots revolt to retain the dignity of the community and Independence Day parades were reinstated.

The CIJA has a virtual monopoly on Israel advocacy in Canada. The exceptions are a plucky B'nai B'rith Organization which attempts to be more assertive and a small but highly effective body known as the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) headquartered in Montreal. It is headed by Prof. Fred Krantz, a distinguished academic who for 30 years headed an influential program titled "The Great Books in Western Civilization" at Concordia University and the Liberal Arts College. There he opposed administration kowtowing to Arab and radical students, which climaxed in 2002 when Binyamin Netanyahu was unable to address the university because of violent campus riots.

CIJR, whose influence extends beyond Canada, operates on a shoestring budget of less than $200,000 and is staffed overwhelmingly by volunteers. Among other initiatives, it publishes a daily Internet newsletter viewed by more than 100,000 readers, which incorporates key data, original op-eds and reprints of articles relevant to activists. Its greatest success was to create an elite group of student activists willing to take up the cudgels on behalf of Israel on the campus.
Since the creation of CIJA, the Jewish establishment has totally blackballed CIJR and denied it any funding. When I accepted an invitation from Krantz to participate in CIJR's 20th anniversary dinner, I was cautioned by various parties that I would be associating myself with an "extremist" body. However, in Montreal I discovered that far from being extreme, CIJR was a beacon of light in the world of Israel advocacy in Canada.

When introducing me to the audience, Irwin Cotler, the former Canadian minister of justice and global champion for human rights, an icon of Canadian Jewry recognized as one of the most outstanding Diaspora Jewish personalities of our time, lauded the outstanding work undertaken by the CIJR.

Equally telling was the address by Alan Baker, the Israeli ambassador to Canada, who was retiring after a four-year term. Like Cotler, Baker a former legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, could hardly be described as an extremist. He too cast lavish praise on the CIJR as the most effective Canadian body promoting the case for Israel and, in particular, praised it for its splendid achievements on the campus. He also castigated the Jewish communal leadership for failing "to have the good judgment to appreciate an organization that is working so well in the field... and should have wider community support."

Canadian Jewish leaders, who fear that protesting against this state of affairs will shatter the "unity" of the Canadian Jewish community, are misguided. The blind reliance of establishment machers on PR specialists who appear to dictate policy in these areas reflects a malaise in Canadian Jewish leadership and highlights a need for greater accountability and grassroots public involvement.

More importantly, if youngsters are dissuaded from confronting the scourge of moral equivalency whereby Israel's acts of self-defense are deemed comparable to actions of its enemies, or instructed that speaking up in defense of Israel is counterproductive, then the ground is being established for future generations to distance themselves from Israel.
The time for reform is now while Canadian Jews are blessed with a prime minister who has emerged as one of Israel's staunchest international allies. Unlike the cowardly cabal of "PR experts," Stephen Harper is willing to publicly distinguish between Islamic fundamentalists seeking the destruction of the Jewish state and the right of Israel to defend itself. However, we cannot expect statesmen to be more pro-Israel than the self-appointed spokesmen of the Jewish community.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hijacking Terrorism Studies

From Quadrant Online, September 2008, Volume LII Number 9 (very brief excerpt from a long paper) by Mervyn F. Bendle, Senior Lecturer in History and Communications in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at James Cook University:

...Various commentators have described how “the war of ideas” against terrorism and its associated ideologies is being lost in the UK, Europe and the US ... while in Australia the one book that attempted to describe local jihadism (Martin Chulov, Australian Jihad) was withdrawn under legal pressure.

...the study of terrorism had either been ignored in Australia or had been colonised by the radical, postmodern Left, which was assimilating the study of terrorism to its prevailing ideological paradigm based on class, race, gender, anti-Americanism and cultural relativism, often under the guise of the neo-Marxist “critical terror studies” approach. ...

... various new university courses and centres providing studies in terrorism ... were established to take advantage of public concern and new government funding, and ...are aimed at military, security, police and diplomatic personnel, whose organisations can pay the expensive fees. The study of terrorism is also an important part of the curriculum in our military training institutions, such as the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA)...

.... Because most tertiary students were only young teenagers when the 9/11 attacks took place and are very vulnerable to the influence of apparently knowledgeable teachers, the ideological orientation of teachers is a primary concern.

...One academic from Macquarie University’s Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism addressed the Australian Police Summit held in Sydney in September 2006 shortly after he claimed on ABC radio’s World Today that terrorists (such as the 9/11 or Bali bombers) were not religious fanatics but were just responding to injustices, and indeed that suicide bombers “are people of deep concern, of deep thought about the injustice that they see being done to the people they identify with” (“Irreparable damage posed to counter-terrorism system”, Letters, Australian, September 16–17, 2006).

Griffith University’s Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security...was recently the focus of public concern when it was revealed that Griffith had “practically begged the Saudi Arabian embassy to bankroll [the unit] for $1.3 million, even telling the ambassador it could keep secret elements of the controversial deal” and that Griffith would be happy to “discuss ways” in which the money could be used, further fuelling fears that the unit would be used to promote Wahhabism, the sectarian form of Islam that is the Saudi state religion and a major ideological influence among Islamist terrorists (“Top uni ‘begged’ for Saudi funding”, Australian, April 22, 2008).

In March 2008 the unit hosted an international conference, “Challenges and Opportunities for Islam and the West—The Case of Australia”, at which the Saudi ambassador made the opening remarks and the keynote speaker was the highly controversial Islamist ideologue Tariq Ramadan, whose US visa was revoked by the State Department in 2004 after it concluded that his actions provided material support to a terrorist organisation...

...At Monash University, the new Global Terrorism Research Centre offers a Master of Counter-Terrorism Studies aimed at law enforcement, defence and diplomatic personnel. Regrettably, the centre’s major contribution to the terrorism policy debate has been a study, Counter-Terrorism Policing and Culturally Diverse Communities (2007), which has been criticised by counter-terrorism experts for its one-dimensional, multiculturalist advocacy of passive “community policing” (Allon Lee, “Counter-Terror Contretemps”, AIJAC News & Articles, June 24, 2008). It advocates the pursuit of values like “building trust, rather than … gathering intelligence”, and alleges that “crude forms of racial profiling [which] unfairly target communities as inherently suspect” have “taken root” in counter-terrorism in Australia. It even advocates “the flow of terrorism-related information … from police to communities”....

...As these examples indicate, Australian academics and universities are applying a “business as usual” approach to the study of terrorism, assimilating it ideologically to the prevailing leftist, postmodern and multiculturalist paradigms that already dominate academia, and marketing them with little or no awareness or concern about their ideological content. As Carl Ungerer recently observed, this means that universities “are consigning themselves to ever greater irrelevance” in the formulation of government policy on terrorism (“Radical pacifism in terror studies” Australian, July 9, 2008). Ungerer himself left academia in January 2008 to become director of the National Security Project at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra, deploring the domination of “university departments … by so-called critical terror studies”, and condemning what he calls “radical pacifism” in academic terrorism studies, which is extremely hostile to sovereign states like Australia, England and the USA, and “implied a moral equivalence between terror and counter-terror and even blamed open societies for the rise of religious extremists”.

As an example of this leftist domination in Australia’s elite academic centres, Ungerer drew attention to the recent “eyebrow raising” appointment of a leading critical terror studies advocate, Dr Anthony Burke, as an Associate Professor to the University of New South Wales at the ADFA. Ungerer emphasised that “the lecturers at ADFA are teaching the next generation of military leaders” in Australia, and Burke’s appointment certainly raises questions about what those future leaders will be taught about terrorism, especially as Burke’s far Left views are well known. Revealingly, Burke dismissed Ungerer’s concerns about the radicalism of “critical terror studies” as “a neo-conservative, highly culture wars-type argument”, while simplistically equating the Israeli government’s policies on the Palestinian question and international sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq with terrorism “in that they targeted civilians and sought to inflict suffering and fear for a political purpose”.

At the centre of Burke’s worldview is the “radical pacifism” that Ungerer condemns. Burke denies any ultimate legitimacy to sovereign nation-states, and denies that they have any right to preserve their security, defend themselves from attack, police their borders, or pursue their national interests, when these might impinge upon “the Other”. ...

... On the question of terrorism, Burke declares that “our critical task is not to help power [that is, the USA] seek out and destroy the ‘enemies of freedom’ [that is, terrorists] but to question how they were constructed as enemies of ‘freedom’ [and how] we … might already be enemies of freedom in the very process of imagining and defending it”. As Burke’s use of scare-quotes indicates, he doubts that terrorists are enemies of freedom or that freedom has any particular value, while claiming that it is “we” who are its real enemies anyway. One wonders how students at the ADFA will feel if they are asked to place their lives on the line for Australia in Afghanistan, Iraq or in other battlegrounds in the war on terror....

... according to Burke’s extremely abstract and tendentious postmodernist perspective... the Australian national values and our way of life are merely “vast ideological abstractions”, and claims about “fundamental freedoms” just reveal a “narcissistic performance of self in which ‘Australia’ is represented as pure and good”, and as falsely superior to “the religion of Islam”.....while our defence of national sovereignty can be likened to the policies of the Nazis (see page 220 of his book).

... in reading Burke’s polemics, one gets an impression not only of the “radical pacifism” deplored by Ungerer, but of a deeper, almost pathological tendency revealed in Burke’s antipathy for liberal democracies and mainstream Australians, and his relentless sympathy for terrorists, illegal immigrants, communists, and “the Other” in its multitudinous forms.

...Unfortunately, Burke is not the only academic at the ADFA whose orientation to the study of terrorism raises concerns, as another new book makes clear. This is Terror: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism (2008), edited by Michael T. Davis and Brett Bowden, who is a Senior Lecturer at the ADFA. The book is presented as a history of terror and terrorism over the past 400 years, with the editors claiming that the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 inaugurated the age of modern terrorism—a typically confused and untenable claim ....

A close reading reveals the book has the following principal ideological and apologetic objectives. (1) To depict Europe as both the home and principal location of modern terror and terrorism. (2) To make the United Kingdom central to this allegedly Western tradition of extreme political violence. (3) To defend contemporary terrorist groups by claiming that they have been falsely “labelled” as “terrorists” and are merely doing what various European and the English political groups have done throughout their history. (4) To further deflect attention from contemporary non-state terrorist groups by emphasising the state terror carried out by totalitarian regimes—all in Europe. (5) To insist that the central issue is not actual terrorism but an alleged “Islamophobia”....

...That ... academics ...can have such views published by a university press in a text purportedly on the history of terrorism would be beyond belief if this wasn’t Australia, where academic terrorism studies have generally been taken over by the political Left, with all the anti-democratic, anti-liberal, anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Israel, pro-terrorist, and postmodernist ideological gobbledygook that entails.

As for the ADFA, we can only wonder what the activities of people like Burke and Bowden portend for the future expertise and morale of Australia’s military forces.