Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dissension and Friction

A few weeks back, I wrote a post titled The Serious People, which argued that the (rhetorically) fearless scourges of "Islamofascism" are actually an obstacle to dealing with terrorism, insofar as they're given to "ahistorical scapegoating, incoherent analogy, neo-Hegelian claptrap, racialist blithering, pseudobiblical militancy, and general delirium," all of which tends to get in the way of simple precepts like "know your enemy."

What I got for my trouble were comments announcing that the Left is in league with Al-Qaeda, because they have a common enemy in Bush, or Western civilization, or both, or something.

It'd be easy to dismiss this theory as a product of stupidity, malice, and wishful thinking (as I've previously done here and here). But since one of these commenters was someone whose intelligence I respect even on those rare occasions when outward evidence of it is lacking, I suppose I'll have to tear myself away from The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism long enough to address this issue more thoughtfully. (Or continue addressing it, I should say, since this post was really a preamble.)

I recently read through an interesting presentation by K.A. Taipale on the pros and cons of information warfare, and its ability to “increase dissension and friction, engender internal competition, undermine trust, and exploit ideological breaks in leadership.”

This is a central strategy of Fourth Generation Warfare, a discipline in which the theories of Foucault and Deleuze are discussed as earnestly as they're lampooned on anti-theory sites like Phi Beta Cons. (The Right has always protested a bit too much against "postmodernism," IMO.)

Anyway, Taipale quotes no less an authority than Mr. Osama bin Laden in order to emphasize how misdirection can turn military strength against itself:

All that we have to do is to send two Mujahedin to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qa'ida in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human economic and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note …
This doesn’t make OBL a military genius. But it's a useful strategy if you want to “directly or indirectly constrain enemy’s ability to make or implement decisions adverse to your interests.”

Putting aside the fact that OBL often seems to get what he wants from BushCo, there's a tendency in this country to obsess over terrorist tactics and rhetoric to the extent that Al-Qaeda can virtually "decide" how we run our government, legal system, and infrastructure. As Glenn Greenwald says:
We used to quote Madison, Jefferson and Lincoln to decide what the principles of our Government are going to be. Now we quote Al Qaeda. The Administration wants Al Qaeda and its speeches to dictate the type of Government we have.
This reminds me of a funny story. Madame Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, legitimized her decisions by communing with an unearthly Brotherhood of Masters, who made their opinions manifest by "precipitating" letters from the spirit world (i.e., Blavatsky and her accomplices would write them, and then drop them on people's heads through trapdoors).

Later, after Blavatsky was dead, her would-be successors exalted themselves and denounced each other through a blizzard of precipitated letters. As so often happens, war in heaven corresponded with power struggles on earth.

I don't mean to imply that Al-Qaeda doesn't exist, nor even to hint that BushCo is conjuring up politically convenient messages from them a la Madame Blavatsky. It's enough to say that there's something futile in our country's endless debate over what the terrorists "want" - even in the few cases where it's sincere - given that what they want is pretty clearly to “increase dissension and friction, engender internal competition, undermine trust, and exploit ideological breaks in leadership.” In short, they want to turn our own power against us. That's asymmetrical warfare in a nutshell, as Fred Burton explains:
This powerful mandate on the defensive side is met, asymmetrically, on the offensive side by a force whose only requirements are to survive, issue threats and, occasionally, strike -- chiefly as a means of perpetuating its credibility.
The curious thing is that as I said in my post on glorifying killers, some of the work of perpetuating Al-Qaeda's credibility has been taken up by American politicians, journalists, and bloggers, all of whom shriek 'round the clock that Der Ewige Muselmann is coming to kill us all with a dazzling array of doomsday weapons, as well as impractical but emotionally resonant methods like "ticking time-bombs" and mass beheadings. To challenge the credibility of these threats, let alone the wisdom of the "obvious" response to them, is in some odd way to challenge the sincerity and competence of AQ itself, and that - in an even odder way - is unpatriotic.

Again, a goal of 4GWF is to force the state to cripple itself through a useless expenditure of blood and treasure. When the state in question comprises defense contractors, authoritarians, and other opportunists, there's a danger of a symbiosis between terrorist and politicians, both of whom legitimize themselves through reference to the other's "evildoing," and marginalize their nonviolent opposition by lumping them in with the enemy.

The best part is, the more you glorify the enemy as Evil Rampant and Ululant, the more rules you can throw out the window in the name of self-defense. The more seriously your civilization is threatened, the less civilized you're permitted to be.

I'll have to wrap this up later. The remainder will be polemics, mostly, with plenty of namecalling and foul language.


ripley said...

So, to deny the abject genius and sheer Universal Power of Al Quaeda has become un-patriotic, and if you're not afraid you're not American. We've come a long way from 'Live free or die!', eh?

I'd thought about putting up a post, similar to yours, that asked the question, 'How do You know, Mssrs. Bush and Cheney?' Here we have two men with no practical military experience, no background in psychology or Intelligence and, frankly, no experience in anything but rank nepotism and govermental largesse - yet, they claim the patriotic certainty to tell us what 'the terrorists' will do, given any random scenario. You'd think that two men of such wisdom and foresight would be able to control things in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention Iran and North Korea) with just a bit more... what's the word... success!

Perhaps my geographic location and terror fatigue creates a mask of false bravado, but I thought the American way was to stand up and say 'Screw You! We ain't afraid!' It's better to die on your feet, and all that rot...

It's hard to have faith in a leader who tells you that hiding in the basement will defeat the enemy.

Another nice post, brother.

Anonymous said...

Which brings us to my favorite part of this subject, threat assessments.

Once upon a time, the government did threat assessments, which included figuring out what the enemy was capable of doing. Really capable, not just adolescent wet dreams. That means equipment, manufacturing, materials, whatever it would take actually to have the weapons capable of doing the damage they'd like to do.

But no more. As you say, Osama's flag is enough to constitute a threat. And, as long as we persist in the overreaction that terrorism is intended to provoke, I guess that's an accurate threat assessment.


Nanette said...

Mixed in with all the rhetoric of fear, nationalism and hysteria is pride, of course.

America is the greatest, most powerful country in the world and consequently, any outside enemy that actually strikes a blow on US soil absolutely must be the most terrible, most evil, most implacable enemy ever. Anything less is completely unacceptable. A mere criminal could not have caused the twin towers to fall.

Yes, it's true that countries in Europe, in Britain and in the Middle East and elsewhere have been dealing with terrorist attacks for decades, and have been successful in prosecuting some criminals, but they were not dealing with the very worst terrorist, criminal mastermind - the worst threat since... well, there is no comparison. Hitler? Just a piker compared to Osama bin Laden. Soviet nukes pointed at us? All those could do is kill us and poison us for decades... that's much different from being subjected to dhimmitude! This is exactly why we must hang on Osama's every word, so we'll know the full extent of the threat.

I don't know how much of this most of these people really believe (sadly, I suspect it's more than I would be comfortable with), but this also sort of goes to explain the complacency about torture and the loss of civil liberties and why even some who disapprove (now) of Iraq are impervious to any sort of sensible, realistic talk about terrorism, I think. Sure, it's a bad thing normally, but these are not normal times, these are the times of the greatest threat the world has ever known.

Anyone who says otherwise is certainly unpatriotic, because nothing else could have put us in the position we find ourselves in now. Certainly not our own fear, and the manipulation of such by unscrupulous politicians.

Unfortunately, I think some of the Democrats are somewhat paralyzed by lies, as well. Somehow they must operate within them (or, ideally, knock them down one by one) and, hopefully, implement a few sensible policies and roll back some of the most egregious stuff.

Especially with the War on Terra part, which some have been able to successfully separate from the Iraq invasion and occupation... mostly because it's been such a failure (or success, depending on one's point of view and tin foil adjustments), and failures that spectacular are bad for the American psyche. Another reason, of course, that it'll be a long time before 9/11 is seen as the failure it was - of US defense systems, government, countless spy and policing agencies, and so on, instead of as the Worst Terrorist Attack Anywhere, Ever, conceived and implemented by the Most Dangerous Person in the World.

Enlightenment said...

Speaking of the “war on terror”, let’s take a few moments and look at some of the details of the terrible event that precipitated it and around which America’s foreign policy has been inextricably wrapped ever since.

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch, with someone who was there when he was attempting to fly a small airplane saying that Hanjour was so clumsy that he was unsure if he had driven a car before. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports after Mohammed Atta supposedly leaves two rental cars at two impossibly far-removed locations. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name ("Hi mom, this is Mark Bingham"), more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces most no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the "official story" being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only "testifying" together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their "testimonies" not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

Debunking Popular Mechanics lies:
someone else debunking Popular Mechanics crap:
still more debunking Poopular Mechanics:
and still more debunking of Popular Mechanics:

Poopular Mechanics staff replaced just before laughable “debunking” article written:
another neo-con 9/11 hit piece explodes, is retracted:
Professor Steven Jones debunks the N.I.S.T. “report” as well as the F.E.M.A. one and the 9/11 commission "report":
N.I.S.T. scientist interviewed:
F.B.I. says no hard evidence linking Osama bin Laden to 9/11 which is why his wanted poster says nothing about 9/11:
Fire Engineering magazine says important questions about the Twin Tower “collapses” still need to be addressed:

Twin Towers’ construction certifiers say they should have easily withstood it:
USA Today interview with the last man out of the South Tower, pursued by a fireball:
Janitor who heard explosions and escaped has testimony ignored by 9/11 whitewash commission:
Janitor starts speaking out about it and his apartment is burglarized, laptop stolen:
Firefighters tell of multiple explosions:
Eyewitnesses tell of explosions:
Interview with another firefighter telling of explosions:
Firefighter saw “sparkles” (strobe lights on detonators?) before “collapse”:
Other eyewitnesses talk of seeing/hearing explosions:
Surviving eyewitnesses talk of multiple explosions there:
Cutter charge explosions clearly visible:
The pyroclastic wave (that dust cloud that a second before was concrete) and how it wouldn’t be possible without explosives:
Detailed description of the demolition of the Twin Towers:
Freefall rate of “collapses” math:
More about their freefall rate “collapses”:
Video footage of the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers:
Video footage of the controlled demolition of WTC # 7 building:
More of WTC # 7 controlled demolition:
Naudet brothers' video footage of the North Tower crash:
Photos of the Pentagon’s lawn (look at these and see if you can tell me with a straight face that a jumbo jet crashed there):!.htm
More photos of this amazing lawn at the Pentagon:!%20(9-11).htm
Very unconvincing fake “Osama” “confession” tape:
More about the fake “Osama” tape:
Fake “Mohammed Atta” “suicide” letter:
Commercial pilots disagree with “official” 9/11 myth:
More commercial jet pilots say “official” myth is impossible:
Impossibility of cell phone calls from United 93:
More about the impossible cell phone calls:
Experiment proves cell phone calls were NOT possible from anywhere near the altitude the “official” myth has them at:
Fake Barbara Olson phone call:
Where the hell was the Air Force?
More about the Air Force impotence question:
Sept. 10th 2001, Pentagon announces it is “missing” $2.3 trillion (now why do you think they picked THAT day to announce it? So it could be buried the next day by 9/11 news):
Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan:
Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan mentioned:
More on Unocal Afghan pipeline:
The attack on Afghanistan was planned in the summer of 2001, months before 9/11:
Pentagon deliberately misled 9/11 Commission:
Evidence destruction by authorities and cover-up:
9/11 whitewash Commission and NORAD day:
The incredible fish tales of the 9/11 Commission examined:
Jeb Bush declares state of emergency 4 days before 9/11 for Florida, saying it will help respond to terrorism:
Steel debris removal from Ground Zero, destruction of evidence:
Over two hundred incriminating bits of 9/11 evidence shown in the mainstream media:
Tracking the “hijackers”:
“Hijacker” patsies:
“Hijackers” receiving flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station:
Several accused "hijackers" still alive and well, wondering why they are accused:
Yet the F.B.I. insists that the people it claims were the "hijackers" really were the "hijackers":
No Arabs on Flight 77:
Thirty experts say “official” 9/11 myth impossible:
“Al Qaeda” website tracks back to Maryland:
Al Qaeda videos uploaded from U.S. government website:
Operation: Northwoods, a plan for a false-flag “terror” attack to be blamed on Castro to use it as a pretext for America to invade Cuba, thankfully not approved by Kennedy back in 1962 but was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and sent to his desk:

Phila said...

Anything else? Or is that everything?

charley said...

Anything else? Or is that everything?

not quite. i clearly remember these issues (the ones in your post, not scroll trolls) being debated, and limned out in much the way you describe via Nightline circa 1998. so can't say we weren't warned by the MSM.

Madame Blavatsky, she was a nutburger, but she had a following.