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Officers Call: A Conversation About Iraq II

There's nothing inherently wrong with the analysis of Al Qaeda (I just glanced at it, if you wish I can read in detail today). The PROBLEM lies not so much in how we analyze support to terrorism (state, crime, other) but rather in the way we analyze (or rather do NOT analyze) EVERYTHING.

Summary of Contents

  • Why We Missed the Threat
  • Terrorism is Threat Number Nine Out of Ten
  • Terrorism is a Tactic, Al Qaeda an Interest Group
  • Without Legitimacy Forget About Stabilization
  • Rebalancing the Instruments of National Power
  • Three Things Secret Intelligence Cannot Do
  • Advise & Assist Transition to Exit Menu
  • Strategic Communications
  • Inter-Agency Professionals
  • Regional Concordat
  • Faith Brigades
  • Redirect Funds Toward Waging Peace
  • Contain Israel
  • Make Nice with China


The Saudi government funded Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in the 1980's and 1990's while we sat deaf dumb and blind on the sidelines because we did not speak foreign languages and did not monitor open sources properly. Our politicians, working for the banks and energy companies, also sold us out.
Review: Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
Review: The Road to 9/11-Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America

Review: The Looming Tower–Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

Review: How We Missed the Story–Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and the Hijacking of Afghanistan

Today the Saudi government is funding the Taliban and Pakistan big time, and we are probably doing the bombs in Pakistan with Blackwater under JSOC direction. This will be discovered and outed soon, and we will have Abu Ghraib X100.


1) Terrorism is high-level threat number nine out of ten. Even though Brent Scowcroft was the US representative to this global high level panel, the USG refuses to acknowledge this basic fact.
Review: A More Secure World-Our Shared Responsibility-Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
Search: Strategic Analytic Model
Review: High Noon-Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them


2) Terrorism is an asymmetric TACTIC, not a threat. We have used it, the Israelis have used it, and today we still use it in multiple forms including cultural and economic.
2009 Perhaps We Should Have Shouted: A Twenty-Year Retrospective
1998 JFQ The Asymmetric Threat: Listening to the Debate


3) The bottom line on instability is the conflict between the needs of the masses and the concentration of wealth at the top. Dictatorships and corporate states lack LEGITIMACY, this is the PRIMARY requirement for sidelining criminals and terrorists so the majority is "on side" and the scarce government resources can focus on the limited number of bad guys.
Review: The Search for Security-A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century


4) Without legitimacy, the bad guys have the people as an ocean to swim in, the bad guys focus on hiring a third party "enemy" and are nice to "the people." Here in DC and in other major cities we have social service networks set up by the drug lords to "buy" cooperative territory.
I suck at math, but I aced comparative economics (control versus market economies) because I learned fast that when the professor asked WHICH of the two would be best in this situation, the answer was always SOME OF EACH.
Review: The Crisis of Western Culture

2008 Rebalancing the Instruments of National Power–Army Strategy Conference of 2008 Notes, Summary, & Article

What we need desperately is an Advise & Assist handbook that gets us back to basics. I started readingThe Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace last night and have a couple of other books lined up against the possibility that I might come to work for you--remember that my first graduate thesis was on the preconditions of revolution, my MCU paper was a distillation of that thesis, see the
MATRIX across political-legal, socio-economic, ideo-cultural, techno-demographic, and natural-geographic. I did my second graduate thesis on strategic information mis-management within a Country team (El Salvador, Venezuela, Panama).


What this boils down to is three intelligence challenges none of which our IC is up to:
1) Know the area of operations in depth. Allawi opens his book with a great discourse on who the USA knew NOTHING about Iraq, its tribes, its internal circumstances, despite the huge amounts published in various languages. I believe that is still true today. 75 tribal districts, 30+ tribes, and we don't really have an internal-external relationship diagram that I am aware of.
Review: Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush
Review: A Peace to End All Peace-The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East
2) Know yourself and your inherent limitations. We flunked that one in Viet-Nam and we are flunking it today.
3) Know the multinational equities and interests and capabilities, and work within that given. Failure again.

For a simple idea of what intelligence SHOULD be doing, see the graphic on the Global Range of Needs.


I don't know enough to prescribe anything, but from where I sit Advise & Assist needs:

1) HUGE Strategic Communication to the Iraqi public that communicates the shift along the lines of "we are deeply sorry for the prolonged occupation and what it has done to your country; we are now finally on the way out and seek your assistance in achieving "by, of, and through" Iraqi forces; our target date for departure is July 2010 but every incident will move that departure date back. We BLEW it, as Dick Cheney wanted us to blow it, when Garner was fired and Bremer was brought in to be the nominal boss. Garner had the right idea, the Iraqis were perfectly capable of sorting themselves out and our "occupation" made it both impossible for a "natural" local solution to emerge AND invited all kinds of

Journal: Why they hate us (II): How many Muslims has the U.S. killed in the past 30 years?

Review: Catastrophe & Culture-The Anthropology of Disaster

2) Massive surge of civilian Advise & Assist and I do not mean contractors. Allawi opens his book with praise for Fred Smith probably from State as a serious dedicated bureaucrat who cared about Iraq and wanted to help. We need tons of those folks, and the good news is that State and AID are pulling out of AF, we need to pull them into Iraq and finally get serious about clean water, localized
electricity, sanitation, etc. Iraq is now a HUMINT AOR, not a TECHINT AOR, and neither DIA nor CIA are up to it. The multinationals could--I would create an Iraq "Station" led by Malaysia and staffed with Sunni and Shi'ite case officers as well as analysts, feed them, treat them like kings, monitor them, and help them.
2009: Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Trilogy
2002 New Rules for the New Craft of Intelligence (Book 2 Chapter 15)
2001 Threats, Strategy, and Force Structure: An Alternative Paradigm for
National Security

Review: Cultures and Globalization–Conflicts and Tensions (v. 1)

Review: All Rise-Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity
Within this, I would close down the HTT program, the PM is totally oblivious to reality. Redirect the money to recruiting anthropologists and area specialists from ALL countries that have language qualifications, screw the bullshit about clearances, there is nothing secret about understanding local reality and giving the commander reality-based advice. We cannot change reality--we must ADJUST to reality. We need Muslim cops on the beat, Muslim social works, and anthropologists being
asked to help us understand them, not manipulate them with bullshit that smells from here.
Review: Anthropologists in the Public Sphere-Speaking Out on War, Peace, and American Power
Review: Anthropological Intelligence-The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War
Review: Policing the New World Disorder-Peace Operations and Public Security


3) Regional concordat with Turkey and Iran and other multinationals, an "Open Space" meeting where all stakeholders come together and agree on a one year moratorium on violence and a one year experiment to stabilize and reconstruct Iraq. I would go after Malaysian and Indonesian PEACE forces, reduce the guns. lose the sunglasses and body armor and helmets, issue all our guys as well as the
international forces gray berets with the attached patch that I developed for the Army Civil Affairs Brigade Colonel Commanding (now in AF), and lastly triple our translators by creating a global network of TRIBAL-qualified translators using
Review: New Turkish Republic-Turkey As a Pivotal State in the Muslim World

Journal: Conflict Over Resources-Over the next 20 years, demand for food and energy will rise by half
Worth a Look: Parag Khanna at TED on "Invisible Maps" and Cross-Border Peace Impact of Infrastructure and Demographics

Search: The Future of OSINT [is M4IS2-Multinational]


4) Mobilize the faith brigades. You cannot win or even tie in a radical religious environment if you insist on using only a secular order of battle. Capt Doug Johnston, USN (Ret) is a genius in this area, I would hire him to mobilize a global faith brigade. Here are my reviews of his two books on the subject, this guy impresses the shit out of me.
Review Faith-Based Diplomacy-Trumping Realpolitik
Review: Religion, The Missing Dimension of Statecraft
Review: Fighting Identity-Sacred War and World Change (The Changing Face of War)
Review: Wars of Blood and Faith-The Conflicts That Will Shape the 21st Century

5) If I were CINCCENT, I would be screaming bloody murder over all the bullshit in DARPA and elsewhere, and demanding that 20-25% of the DARPA budget as well as 10-15% of the acquisition budget be redirected to waging peace--I'd yank the bull CA colonel out of AF, frock him as a one star, and tell him we want a working water well in every village, a network of water tanks immediately (every flight coming in should be bringing peace and extracting war), etc. We should have been creating a bottom up infrastructure independent water and power and sanitation network from day one. We can restore the "Golden Hour" but only if our deeds and deliverables make it clear we are serious this time, words will not do. Money buys what we want it to, our mind-set has sucked from the beginning and still sucks.
Journal: $20M water desalination project in Iraq

Worth a Look: The Golden Hour and Rebalancing the Instruments of National Power
Review: Losing the Golden Hour-An Insider's View of Iraq's Reconstruction
Handbook: Guide to Rebuilding Public Sector Services in Stability Operations-A Role for the Military

Review: Stability Operations and State-Building–Continuities and Contingencies: Colloquium Report

Review: Descent into Chaos–The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia

Review: The End of Iraq–How American Incompetence Created a War Without End (Hardcover)


6) Harder to do, but be tough with Israel. I am sick and tired of the Israeli influence on our Congress, the manner in which we pay 20% of their budget while they commit massive genocide and atrocities against the Palestinians. We need a global Advise & Assist capability that starts with FIRST DO NO HARM and that demands that our so-called allies do no harm either. If I were CINCENT, one of my highest priorities would be to stuff the Israelis in a box, close down their operations in AF, PK and against Iran, and tell them in no uncertain terms that if they stick an operation anywhere in the AOR in the next year, we cut them off financially.
Review: Palestine-Peace Not Apartheid
Review: The Secret War with Iran-The 30-Year Clandestine Struggle Against the World's Most Dangerous Terrorist Power

7) China is a player whether we are willing to admit it or not. Brazil, China, Indonesia, Russia, and Iran are future world leaders and we have to create a multinational think tank on the region that focuses
on energy alternatives and wins over China's considerable ability. I believe rapid installation of a lot of nuclear power plants--renewable energy is a decade or more away from being prime time--and multiple water desalination plants are needed.
Review: China and Iran-Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World
Review: Prisoner of the State-The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang
Above is what I can do in a fast stream of consciousness mode. Semper Fidelis, Robert

DOI: 13 Dec 09. POC: Robert Steele, see About at for contact information.