Tuesday 17 November 2015

Sleeping Giants

A terrorist organisation like ISiL. What can they hope to achieve? 
Probably only what they have managed already is as much as they will ever manage. If there were some sanity about them they would know that by a combination of their own resolve and their enemies weakness, they have made unprecedented gains that under normal world circumstances could never have happened. They would hunker down, dig in, and try and hang on to what they have gained.

Dassault Mirage 2000 N.The 'N' is for nuclear strike capability

The Islamic revolution in Iran is considered unique. A popular revolution of the people, led by the theocracy, toppled an unpopular government, almost overnight. 
No one really agrees why the Islamic revolution there succeeded and endured. The Shah was unpopular. And repressive. And corrupt. And factional. And tribal. and... 
But the same conditions could have been said to have applied to very many countries around the globe, which did not have a lasting revolution.  The most popular cause give for the enduring success of the Iranian revolution is Ayatollah Khomeini.
A one vision, driven, popular leader who fashioned the revolution in his own image and inspired others to great feats and sacrifices. A Fidel Castro leader. A Ho Chi Minh or Mao Zedong.

The hostage crisis of 1979 strengthened Khomeni immeasurably. His power increased and his influence in the Arab world grew too. But he was lucky to have Jimmy Carter and the recession as his Presidential foe. The oil crisis caused by the dramatic curtailment of Iranian oil exports of 1979 pushed the US oil price to its all time 'real-price' high, that was not exceeded again until 2008.
If had been a Bush or Reagan presidency, the response to the hostage crisis might have been different. 
"Give us back our people or we will come and get them..and if you harm just one, you will regret it just once. And that will be continuously."

Iranian terror has been a feature of the modern world. especially against the USA and Israel. The running of weapons and training of troops and insurgents to fight for the militias during the war in Iraq was particularly annoying for the USA.  But the USA had enough on its plate without invading Iran as well. Like the US in Vietnam watching the Chinese and Soviets supplying the North Vietnamese, with the most sophisticated air defenses on the planet, they knew they could only fight one war at a time. Iran was a solid, mostly united, fully fledged nation. Difficult and expensive to topple quickly. So a strangle by sanctions policy was adopted instead. That did, eventually, bear fruit.

ISIS have no such luxury. They are not a unified, well led, determined and resourced nation. 
The only reason they are still in being at all is the weakness and and unwillingness to fight of its western opponents. The same weakness that allowed the Fuhrer to occupy the Rhineland and the allies to do nothing is that which protects ISIS. The knowledge that the answer to aggression is war.
And all the unpredictability that brings.

The UK and USA lost the Iraq war. The US adopted the same post Vietnam strategy of defending Iraq, that, as in Vietnam, was nothing more than face saving and failed just a spectacularly as the defence of South Vietnam had gone in 1975. Total failure.
Neither UK or USA have any desire to embark on a foreign adventure with boots on the ground that will require a commitment of 250,000 combat troops fighting an insurgency for twenty years. Neither has the money or the resolve. Neither nation's civilians want anything to do with a second war. France wanted nothing to do with the first one.

But ISIS are supremely foolish if they mistake this unwillingness for a lack of ability. The western powers are fighting ISIS with a tiny fraction of one percent of their ability. When Hollande said he would respond, he could, if he had wished, have fired nuclear battlefield artillery into the ISIS strongholds and destroyed them utterly. Five men in an AMX-13
Instead he has called for an attack by France and its allies on ISIL. A call to arms. A call to war. Putin has referred to the French as 'our allies'.

This, in all likelihood will come, in some form, to fruition. The UK, US, France and Russia, by moving into only second gear, will destroy the black flag strongholds.

ISIS attacks on mainland France and the bombing of the Russian airliner has brought about their own destruction. The western democracies may be weak. But they are weak by choice, not by resource. It is a fool who imagines press reports of defence cuts means an unwillingness to fight. It simply means an unwillingness to spend.
If a reason occurs to spend tomorrow, then the money will be found. Its only the willingness to take action that is lacking. 
An ISIS machine gunning of a school, pub, cafe or a village hall in the UK is all it would take to make the people demand action. demand invasion and retribution. Attacks on holidaymakers is a horrific act by madmen. Attacks on our homes demands retribution.

The attacks outside their own sphere was the one thing guaranteed to force the democracies and the Russians to face ISIL head on. And to defeat them in their homeland. A strategic error by the leaders of terror that will bring about the end of their dreams.

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
 attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto regarding the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by forces of Imperial Japan. Almost certainly was the invention of a script writer for the 1970 film Tora!Tora!Tora! 

But the sentiment stands.


Anonymous said...

It is the enemy with-in that we should be worried about Bill. Come what may on the battlefields of the Middle East, it is the fifth columists already in this country and their colleagues encouraged by our political elite to join them that will determine the future of our once fair land.

One I fear has already been decided for my grand children.

Sacre Bleu said...

Looking at Gridwatch France (http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/) they are pulling 60GW compared to our 37GW - they must all be watching telly about the siege with all their lights on.

Professor Pizzle said...

Both you and Anonymous are correct.

Technologically, and with non-nuclear weapons only, it would take about 1 week for the Western allies to remove ISIS (in Syria & Iraq) from this earth. All of them. Every single one. And to turn Raqqa– in the word's of Homeland's Peter Quinn, "into a car park".

And it should be done.

But ISIS, it's supporters, and it's apologists are everywhere. For Heaven's sake, the leader of the Labour party is one! As are a sizeable percentage of the staff at the Guardian.

Are we to bomb them too. We can't have pogroms, or camps, or re-education. We'd have to sack half the teaching staff of liberal arts courses at western universities.

What can we do about the enemy within?

DJK said...

I too have been pondering the difference between between French and British (Great Britain, I think, i.e. England, Wales, Scotland) electricity consumption, as shown on Gridwatch. Of course, the French still have some industry, where we have none. But I can only assume that the French use electric space heating, where we mostly use gas. The equivalent gas consumptions might be telling.

As for BQ's fine words, I'm not convinced. At the start of the Falklands war there was talk of sleeping giants and "tweaking the lion's tale", but then there was a clear objective: expelling a few thousand foreign soldiers from a patch of British territory. Here, I'm not sure what victory would mean. France could turn IS into a radioactive desert, but that's not going to happen. Will a few dozen laser guided bombs be enough? And current reports are that most of the Paris attackers came from France and Belgium, so how does bombing Syria hurt the "enemy within"?

CityUnslicker said...

Destroying IS will make some difference, just as killing hiterl and mussolini ended most of the fascim in Europe.

However, muslim extremism is fueled by Saudi money building wahbbist mosques around the world. 23 countries this year have expereinced islamist terror attacks, all across the world.

taking out IS is but one step, the wonder is whether the world will wake up to the threat and realise ideology is stopped at schools and in mosques and perhaps even online these days....we seem a long way from this.

Also, money is important, IS have money and fund terror, with funding lines cuts they become much less effective - as we saw with Al Qaeda, the destruction of their finance network subdued their attacks as effectively as the killing of its leaders.

Raedwald said...

"It's their f*cking book - the only book they ever read"

You need to realise that Islam is exactly where Christianity was in the 17th century - split into schismatic factions, led by zealots, with faith and territory (real estate) hand in hand, including ownership of whatever people live on your bit of territory, with the Bible the only definitive text. The war reduced Europe to bloody mud, mass death and disease.

Our mistake is to tolerate such primitive crap in the 21st century. Faith is fine, but keep it away from Caesar's side of the line. So we must destroy with ridicule, derision and contempt all those who take the Koran literally - all the head choppers, the girl stoners, the hand manglers, the crane-gibbeters and the fecking clods who won't use toilet paper and leave the office toilets swimming in water and discarded paper cups.

Whilst we tolerate belief in such risible primitive garbage without constantly challenging it, we are just fuelling our own destruction.

And I write as a liberal, tolerant post-Enlightenment Christian who has no trouble reconciling faith and civic life.

Bill Quango MP said...

Anon + CU - The enemy within. Indeed a problem. But that's why we have the security forces.
If you'd asked anyone on the allied side in WW2 if they imagined that the most evil, murderous, war-making,Fascist regimes of Japan and Germany could be transformed into pacifist non-interventionist world powers, few would believe it.
IT must have seemed impossible to make a nation, ,such as Japan,an entire nation of potential, willing,suicide bombers; whose children were brought up knowing nothing but Bushido and war with America and its puppet of China into decent human beings again.
Yet it took less than a generation. The overlooked, and mostly ignored 'soft power' of the USA was decisive in bringing about democracy, stability, prosperity to countries histrionically engulfed in permanent war or recession.

The Bush idiocy was not planning for the second phase. Hopefully the USA is ready for that this time.

DJK said...

CU: KSA is the elephant in the room; supplying the money that keeps this virus spreading. There's surely plenty of pressure we can apply to the Saudis before we are reduced to bombing that stone cube they worship. (Though it's tempting: the jihadists attack something we value --- our liberal way of life; we reply by attacking something they value.)

Raedwald: There are plenty of parallels between present day Islam and post-reformation religious wars in Europe. But the difference is between the words and actions of Christ and those of Mohammed. The jihadists are following the example of the founder of their religion. Whilst the old testament has plenty of stuff about smiting enemies, the new testament does not.

Anonymous said...

"It is the enemy with-in that we should be worried about Bill. Come what may on the battlefields of the Middle East, it is the fifth columists already in this country and their colleagues encouraged by our political elite to join them that will determine the future of our once fair land."
Very true - the future is not bright - suppose attacks like last week happen monthly in the UK will happen. It seems unlikely now - as unlikely as suicide bombings appeared in 1995.

Bill Quango MP said...

Prof {and others} - Of course, I agree. But that can be fixed. It was our weird unwillingness to give offence.To be thought 'racist' for demanding foreigners 'be like us'.
That white guilt about nicking the brown people's countries back in the day. Labour in particular guilty of pandering to its ethnic voter base. Rotherham being just the extreme example of fear of racial tensions.
France , worse than the UK in many ways, also followed the odd strategy of importing people, and giving them nothing to do.

The religious dimension is important. But if the fanatics of the kamikaze can be tamed, so can the fanatics of 'the book'.

Nick Drew said...

DJK - @ But I can only assume that the French use electric space heating, where we mostly use gas

100% correct

(this is the woolly mammoth in the room when it comes to 'decarbonising' the UK: that's 20 million gas boilers you gotta scrap ...)

Jan said...

We say we are fighting to preserve our freedoms and way of life but I can imagine a lot of muslims would find a lot to fault in our western world which we seem to accept without question eg our huge dependence on materialism; reliance on alcohol; propensity for flaunting ourselves in public without a lot of clothing etc. These are things which may cause many people of other faiths (and none) to despair at too but I can see how such thinking could lead to ISIL if carried to extremes. This isn't to excuse them in any way...far from it. Who knows as I haven't spoken to any terrorists recently (or ever). But I think we should at least try to uncover the mindset.

Also Bill I think your analysis of the military imbalance is pertinent but we've moved on into the cyber age now and to cause enormous havoc they only need to cut off the internet or turn the power off and we would be unable to function. Lets hope our defences there are as robust but this is the new battlefield. The rest is just a side show.

Raedwald said...

Jan - there's a fundamental difference. We defend our right to use satire and ridicule to tackle gross behaviour; Viz ran the 'Fat Slags' cartoons without anyone committing mass murder, and press images of binge-drunk girls in Manchester gutters with no knickers show we're quite free to condemn behaviour whilst not restricting individual freedom to behave in that manner - the same papers carry adverts for discount vodka.

There's a long way from that to the barbarism committed in the name of their fecking book; try to understand their mindset by all means, but we can never permit their restrictions or their savage barbarity.

Blue Eyes said...

Good article BQ.

One thing I keep seeing is a conflation of the issues in Syria now with two years ago. When Ed Who blocked action against Assad two years ago I was pleased, not because I particularly rate Assad's handling of Syria but because there was not an obvious outcome in mind.

Now, I back a fullscale multi-national medium-term effort to restore order to Syria. That means back the Assad government, kicking Isis' backside, then arranging a transition to a new constitution. It probably means a UN or coalition protectorate of some sort. Those are currently out of fashion, but if countries can't arrange themselves then surely they could use some help.

Bill Quango MP said...

Radders : Agree 100%

BE - I agree.And said we should have done as much in Libya. It was supreme wishful thinking to hope the 'good guys' would come to power. I can't think of many nation collapses where the 'good guys' took over. India is probably any example. And that had millions dead. Greece and Spain are examples of a different sort of transition from democracy to military and back.

Jan : We defend our freedoms by not even thinking about them. It is a given that anyone can say pretty much anything they like , about anything they want, without fear. Our freedoms go back such a long way. To the seeds of of the destruction of feudal power in the magna carta, to a monarchy that exercises both ultimate and zero power simultaneously.

Few other nations, not colonised by the UK, have such history.

Suff said...

The world has changed but we haven't changed with it. We have been hollowed out and no longer have the stomach to do what is necessary in a time of war. The Irish war was the closest comparison and we lost that.
The firepower situation is similar to that faced by a few bouncer friends of mine. They were quite happy to slap the occasional drunk when he got out of order. Now however they have the screaming harpies to deal with. They scream, scratch, spit and punch. Nothing that is truly life threatening but every time they are met with a " I can't punch a girl response" the level of violence increases. I've know guys quit because they can't punch a girl and some quit because they did.
The question is a moral one. do we turn our back and leave the world to the screaming lunatic but hope that history remembers us as the better person or do we give up our values to face the current threat.
Ps. History is written by the victor

Bill Quango MP said...

I don't agree Suff. To harp back to that 'sleeping giant' line.
Both the Germans and the Japanese were contemptuous of the USA. They thought they could beat the Russians because they were ignorant and the US because they were pampered. Neither nation could imagine a country that had pampered mechanisation could ever be fierce warriors.
They had a low opinion of the Australian, British, French and Canadians too.

One thing to remember about history being written by the victors...is that the victors have to have won.

Nick Drew said...

BQ - It is a given that anyone can say pretty much anything they like, about anything they want, without fear

I know what you mean and it's basically correct, but the student unions of the anglo world are mounting a fairly sustained assault on free speech, and Leveson isn't a source of much comfort

Suff - the irish thing is complicated: obviously throwing money at it played a part (more money thrown yesterday, I see), as did rising Irish bubble-boom prosperity

and I'm the first to agree it may yet all fall apart (I've done a lot of business in Ireland over the years and had a sustained stay in Dublin a couple of years back, during which I heard a lot of sullen grumbling in pubs - from people who'd had the 'Irish Tiger' smile wiped off their faces by the recession - that seemed quite menacing to me)

but accepting all that, I'd assert the Brits did show some stamina and bottle

Galloglaigh said...

I'd assert the Brits did show some stamina and bottle

Which Brits are you referring too? The Catholic Brits or the Protestant Brits?

Those with links to the Province will recognise the joke(?) but there is a lesson in the history there. It was only when money and opportunity was thrown at it - and the cost of losing it was too high - that sense and peace of a form prevailed.

The same goes for Eastern Europe and the 50 years of peace there. And for China and Vietnam.

Some may hate and despise the do-gooders that want to give handouts to to the so-called undeserving but mercantilism and capitalism has a way of keeping a peace that religion and idealism (George Osbourne please note) cannot.

Anonymous said...

BQ- not sure you are correct on the German opinion of British and Empire fighting troops. Herr Kraut had a strong memory of British,Australian and Canadian efforts in WW1 when irrespective of the 'stab in the back' lie the latter defeated them on the battlefield.Their WW2 troop recognition manuals showed strong manly types as opposed to the cartoon characters in British equivalents. On the other hand when thinking of Chamberlain, Halifax as Mussolini said ' the tired sons of rich men', perhaps they had a different and correct view.

BQ said...

Anon; I am a little mistaken. It was the Japanese field manual that rated the allies so lowly. They described uk forces as good only in a defensive with secure flanks and plentiful artillery. Officers lacking in initiative. Rated Indian troops as highly likely to retreat if a flank was threatened. And Anzacs as brave, but equipped so poorly they would be easily defeated quite easily.

That assessment wasn't contradicted when they came tumbling through the jungle and inflicted catastrophic tactical and strategic losses on allied forces.

The German view of allied forces pre WW2 was that the Uk RN was a serious threat, but our ground and air forces were not up to much. and thought our equipment was fit only for the fire. They weren't much wrong. The Huns really only liked our trucks. Because they had do few of their own. And the u-boat sailors liked the British forces short woollen battle dress uniform. They captured 500,000 in France and no one else wanted them.

Gallo: I have long posted on here that the Marshall Plan is what created the modern world. That and NATO allowed Europe to finally stop being wearing nation states and get on with social democracy.
The Marshall Plan so obviously lacking in the chaotic management in post war Iraq.

Suff said...

I don't think you can compare the, them over there and Us over here, world wars with the situation we have here. I used Ireland as an example of trying to fight a war on terror while maintaining an open border policy. If your going to draw a line in the sand, yer better make sure the opposition is on the other side ( ans yes ND it is complicated, as it usually is when religious idiocy is thrown into the mix to rally the troops).
To understand how easy it is through crowd mentality,to raise an army, you only have to look to the terraces. Groups who knock ten bells out of each other on a weekly basis will quite happily band together to av a go at the germuns but they have a common enemy, they stand at the opposit end of the terrace.
To compare the Youth of that era and the everybody has rights but nobody has responsibilities youth of today is a debate for a night when I haven't been drinking monkey gin, which I can highly recommend.
Ps before anybody labels me as a warmongering Neanderthal, the point I'm raising is, there is a solution to this problem but do we give up our values to achieve it?

Ryan said...

Interesting summary of the Iranian Revolution on wikipedia. In particular, you might be surprised by the involvement of the BBC - but then again you might not....