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Don't Stand Too Close

Friday, April 04, 2008

Lisa starts off part three discussion!

I had a couple questions on this section.
Tom wrote (pg 77)...
“Without the ability to clearly represent the exact and true situation, to include all that is known and what things are unknown.”
I'd love a concrete example of this thinking because I'm thinking if it’s unknown how can you know…. How do you plan for unknowns? what am I missing here?
And Tom wrote..
“ A person who threatens has a different mind than one who builds a weapon that is a threat.” Tom can you tell us more ? How does this apply or not apply to Osama Bin Laden ?

I found the differentiation of WME and WMD to be useful. I agree with Tom he wrote( Pg 76) “Weapons of Mass Destruction was mentioned previously.Without semantics and assignment of specific definition, the term is used to describe everything from a minor amount of anthrax or nerve agent to the most powerful of nuclear weapons. The problem is that in current usage the term demands attention; attention which may not be warranted."


Tom wrote (pg 65)
“The intent of terrorism is specifically to inculcate fear in the target population and affect the psychology of the society.”
IMO, this point cannot be said enough. Every time we think about terrorism, hear of a potential threat, watch or read something about terrorism in the media, listen to the government or hear about an attack we need to remind ourselves of the “terrorist intent.” Especially considering what Tom wrote on pg 79
“Keep in mind, to move toward victory the terrorist does not have to kill people, he only needs to keep the target responding within the parameters and perception that the terrorist has created.

On pg 67 Tom wrote…
“The statement: “If this saves one life, it is worth the effort?” cannot be the national threshold.”
I think it’s salient point and I agree….and he wrote
“ because action and security may have to be deferred to ensure that the terrorist idea is being defeated.” Pg 74
and I was thinking yes, yet when I read pg 68 that “The Soviets lost 20 million…” “…..an acceptable threshold is not in the thousands –and may not even be in the tens of thousands”

I want to say forget it, I have difficulty saying Yes to that point, even though I know logically it should follow. I know we find 43,000 motor vehicle deaths a year to be an acceptable level, as we go with the plans we have in place to keep driving safe, we don't panic, and over haul the whole system or throw an inordinate amount of money in to attempting to making roads safer…( although maybe we should do more than we do. )
No, we accept that lost of 43,000 some fellow citizens per year, every year, and have for quite a few years. Not that we don't feel for them, their families, and wish is wasn't so because we do. But, our lack of focus on it, our lack of overhauling the whole transportation system, by our lack of demanding cars be safer etc, we are in essence accepting that level of loss on a yearly basis. Saying we find that loss acceptable. So then I have to ask myself, why are the potential deaths of citizens from a potential terrorist attack unacceptable but 43,000 motor vehicle deaths are acceptable ? Why are we more focused on what might happen then on what is already happening on a daily basis ? Fear of the unknown? I don't have a good answer and I hate to consider that it does indeed boil down to fear !

9 Comments:

Blogger janet w said...

"Fear of the unknown"

If I may quote from your Part IV discussion remarks, Lisa, you said, “Without the ability to clearly represent the exact and true situation, to include all that is known and what things are unknown.”

I'd love a concrete example of this thinking because I'm thinking if it’s unknown how can you know…. How do you plan for unknowns? What am I missing here?


I've been puzzling over that statement and question too and finally your comments about the 43,000+ traffic fatalities that we sadly accept circled back to your comments about the unknown. It's not that you or I anticipate we'll be in an accident every time we drive but we prepare mentally and emotionally ~ to some extent ~ for that possibility: with insurance, driving courses, seat belts ... and then we forget about it. In Tom's words, we live our lives. So in the case of terrorism, at home and abroad, perhaps we need to find some of that American pragmatism about the "unknown" ... now Lisa, this may not be the point you were trying to have elucidated ... it's just where my mind took me.

Thinking ahead to playing the slots in Yemen and working on my tan on an Iraqi beach ~ and by that I mean trying to look ahead to a world where people want to just live their lives. I want to read more about the Marshall Plan because America made their former enemies whole and solvent after warring against them: is that the path we need to explore ~ is that the unknown we need to try to grasp?

22APR08

6:34 PM  
Blogger Lisa A said...

Janet W said "So in the case of terrorism, at home and abroad, perhaps we need to find some of that American pragmatism about the 'unknown ."

Janet, I think one way to find that pragmatism as a country is to educate ourselves about terrorism, terrorists, and their lack of abilites/capabilites compared to our nations abilites/capabilites. It helps put the threat in perspective.

4-27-08

12:11 AM  
Blogger Janet Webb said...

A something to think about question for the lurkers who enjoy the back and forth on "Don't Stand Too Close" ... a hot-off-the-presses interview w/the author of a report on terrorism. It's amazing how much more sense it makes after reading "For the Courage".

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90090625

It's a NPR interview with Ambassador Dell Dailey talking about the latest report card on terrorism. I'd be interested in hearing what you think of his approach ... pointing out to surrounding states that terrorists chickens sometimes come home to roost, i.e., what would be the fallout if native terrorists now living abroad decided to come home? ... appealing to a country's self-interest, never a bad plan :)

Monday, 05MAY08

8:13 PM  
Blogger Janet Webb said...

A something to think about question for the lurkers who enjoy the back and forth on "Don't Stand Too Close" ... a hot-off-the-presses interview w/the author of a report on terrorism. It's amazing how much more sense it makes after reading "For the Courage".

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90090625

It's a NPR interview with Ambassador Dell Dailey talking about the latest report card on terrorism. I'd be interested in hearing what you think of his approach ... pointing out to surrounding states that terrorists chickens sometimes come home to roost, i.e., what would be the fallout if native terrorists now living abroad decided to come home? ... appealing to a country's self-interest, never a bad plan :)

Monday, 05MAY08

8:13 PM  
Blogger DebbieKinIL said...

Here are my comments on FTC and Part V from DebbieKinIL.

As I finished the last pages of FTC, I couldn't help but thinking about 2 points from prior sections:
1.Psych Ops- Our enemies do not have to put armies in the field to change our defense policies. They have effectively learned the use of psych ops and short sighted terrorist tactics, to change us.
2. "Terrorist are not highly-trained" like the Navy SEALs- ITA- But,they do NOT HAVE TO BE highly trained in conventional warfare. To BE effective, they just have to continue to use, unconventional, political and economic tactics to obtain their goals. This is effective because the US does not have a stragetic plan to deal with these tactics. Terrorists will continue to use what works against us, until we change.

My 2 Thoughts From Part V
1. "It is the citizens who will have to demand prudent and well thought out strategy.." Yes, we can do this, but not without significant focus on educating our citizens on the tactics of terrorism.

There is a need to have political,military, and economic strategies co-ordinated, because this how the terrorist will continue to attack us. We have seen the failure of the Homeland Security to achieve any significant change when they attempt to bring together 22 key agencies involved in homeland security. Think of the Titanic task of doing this. (LOL-thinking of the sinking ship Titanic as the correct word to use here).

2. Wow!- Tom's Strong Ending
"Have you ever wondered what happened to all those thousands of terrorists that were trained by Al Qaeda and deployed worldwide? Have you ever wondered why the calls to Jihad fail in the free world? Have you wondered why we don't have suicide bombers exploding in shopping malls? I don't contest that tens of thousands of trained potential terrorists have infilrated the United States , her allies and other progressive nations. But only a very small percent of them attack. The majority is subdued by something that they have Never experienced. Opportunity. Freedom. Knowledge."

Amem to: Opportunity. Freedom. and Knowledge that exists in the USA! We are truly blessed with these and FTC calls every citizen to work diligently to keep them.

Here's a thought I had, when I read about the lack of suicide attackers in the US.

UBL made an error when he attacked on 9/11. He thought that if killing a few Americans overseas would increase the discussion of withdrawal from the Middle East, then killing thousands of New Yorkers would certainly LEAD to that withdrawal of Americans from the Middle East. He got the opposite in fact- more US troops in the Middle East. He didn't understand the Americans feelings and history about an attack on their homeland. He committed a fundamental stragetic error.

But, UBL has learned from this mistake and will not attempt to plan a major attack or insist that other groups attack by suicide bombings. He is now using Political, Ecomonics tactics and even our own Constitution against us.

My Thanks!
I have learned so much from FTC. And thoroughly enjoyed reading and re-reading it.

Thank You Tom for writing it and to the people who took part in the discussion of it.


comment submitted on May 8,2008

3:44 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Section 4
on page 66, Tom says "Terrorists need two things to survive-oppression and instability." Do we as a country shoulder responsibility for these things? I do not think we do. As long as we as a country are not directly oppressing another group, we are not guilty of instigating an attack. I think that our guilt is another function of a psychological attack. The terrorists try to make us responsible for the attacks and paint themselves as victims.
Lisa A has truly brought a painful question to the forefront. What is an acceptable risk? In some ways our country has already established that risk is acceptable. By sending our soldiers to war, we are admitting, even announcing, that we are ready to face risk. The difference is that soldiers know and accept the risk while we as civilians are sending them to take that risk for us. It is time for us to step up to the plate. Both civilians and soldiers are citizens and should share the risk. Granted we can't and shouldn't all be on the front lines. But neither should we look at soldiers as cannon fodder while we sit in our comfy houses holding them responsible for our safety. Tom says "in the fighting of the revolutionary war nearly one percent of the population perished-and that was the entire population of the colonies, NOT just those in active rebellion-2.7 million people with today's population." I interpret this to mean that we need to stop thinking about designating someone else to take the risk for us. The military is not our "whipping boy". We need to all stand up and realize that to be a citizen of the United States involves a certain element of risk. There always have been, are and always will be those who seek to take our freedoms. We are the ones who enjoy them and we are the ones who must be liable. This segues into Tom's belief that "This is not a battle against opposing forces. This is a battle of opposing ideas." Once again we are back to ideas and ideals vs. physical danger. The threat is to our ideal of safety rather than the actuality.
Veering off into my own questions again....who do we choose to get the word out? Who tells the people that this is a war of perceived threat rather than statistical threat. Congress (whom Tom says the writers of the Constitution meant to have the most power)? The President? A military think tank? A civilian think tank? Whom do you trust with making the judgment calls and disseminating the information? Tom even tells us "success as a tactician does not necessarily translate to to the development of a competent strategist." Thus, we would need representatives with varied skills and qualities on this committee. Tom defines strategy and this committee or effort would fit within that framework. Another issue the committee would need to address would be the time frame necessary for us to see results. using Russia as an example of a country known to never negotiate with terrorists, how long do we refuse to negotiate before the terrorists believe the new policy. How long before the terrorists decide it is senseless and ineffective to take hostages and murder? This committee must also define the "words within the language of terror." The general populace who will now be responsible for taking risk must understand the reasons for the new policy. The citizenry must be taught "The threat must be intellectually separated from actual enemy action and only enemy action should be cause for reaction; even then, the reaction must be as localized and concealed as possible." This book has provoked so many questions and provided so many possibilities that I personally would like to see a plan that could bring these ideas to fruition.
How can we use terrorist attacks to our advantage? Ok I know that sounds strange but almost any situation can be "spun." Tom says "The worst thing a victim of a terrorist attack can do is to manifest the psychological impact that the terrorist was attempting to produce or to give/display the effect the terrorist was hoping to see." How do we empower victims to fight the terrorist by not showing the effects? it seems that Tom's Strategic plan would encompass the assistance of all citizens and certainly could be spun to put "us" in power rather than the terrorists. How can we make it happen?
May 8

8:37 PM  
Blogger Janet Webb said...

What Debbie and Tom said: "Terrorists are not highly-trained" like the Navy SEALs- ITA- But, they do NOT HAVE TO BE highly trained in conventional warfare. To BE effective, they just have to continue to use, unconventional, political and economic tactics to obtain their goals. This is effective because the US does not have a stragetic plan to deal with these tactics. Terrorists will continue to use what works against us, until we change.

In a nutshell, the crux of the problem ... asymetric warfare ... keep 'em guessing ... no method to their madness: the cliches just keep on coming but like you said Debbie, it is not the terrorists who need to change, it's our response to them and whatever they throw at us.

I have so enjoyed ~ in an intellectual, pondering sense ~ your many thoughtful posts: thank you!

Thursday, 08MAY08

8:49 PM  
Blogger Lisa A said...

SECTION FIVE… the last section :)

I just finished rereading For The Courage… a bit off schedule, but one has to be focused in order to comprehend the complex and well thought out ideas that Tom presents in FTC. As expected it was well worth my time :) I caught points I missed the first time. After rereading FTC. I understand more about terrorism, counter terrorism, and the battle we in the USA face. I'm posting the ideas and statements that resonated with me and a question or two I had when thinking about the information presented in section five. Some time in the (near) future I intend to reread and comment on some wonderful posts that because of time constraints I didn't get a chance to acknowledge or discuss.

Tom wrote on pg 91“That said, killing terrorists is still a viable means of decreasing terrorists, and should not be abandoned.” And he wrote “These people don't need to be killed because they are a threat to the security of the United States—they could not be. They need to be killed because they have demonstrated their recidivist and incorrigible nature and are a danger to humans. The decision to kill in the war on terror should be made carefully."

Tom does a great job of pointing out the inaccuracy of a belief held, by quite a few Americans. I myself believed it until I read Tom’s book FTC. What is missed by most Americans about terrorists and terrorism is ...that just because a terrorist might be a threat to US citizens, it does not make them a threat to the security of the USA .

Tom also says “pg 92 “However, as caveated above, with killing comes the burden to only kill those that need to die. There are two simple principles that make up this burden: 1) It is better to convert 32 the enemy than to kill him. The enemy who can be changed is an important and powerful strategic asset. Thus, wantonly destroying those assets is not efficient. 2) Killing someone that should not have died increases the strength of the enemy. That increase can be the strength of the numbers of enemy or in the strength of his will or the strength of his hatred. The death of innocents is second only to the theft of land in the breeding of hate and fortitude”

Questions here… After our experiences where the USA was criticized for not converting the Iraqi army and yet, criticized for converting the Iraqi Police force where we had issues of guys just leaving the job when the going got tough or even worse the betrayals,where they targeted other Iraqi police or our troops. How does one know when one has truly converted someone without leaving themselves, their forces vulnerable to a person who says they have converted but in reality is working for the opposition? Or do the gains outweigh the risks? And how do we know "that death of innocents is second only theft of land"?

And on page 102 Tom PROFOUNDLY asserts“This is, after all, an ideological conflict. The defeat of the idea is more important than the defeat of the messenger. We must acknowledge the nature of the fight. This is a battle of ideas—not armies and security forces. The idea that must be defeated is that terrorism works in any way, shape or form.” Tom continues on pg 103 “Fighting an idea is fundamentally different than fighting a man. A man is easily killed—killing an idea takes much more skill, creativity, consideration, intelligence, patience and resolution. In the end, however, this entire effort and its success or failure is going to depend on national psychological fortitude.”

There are so many ideas to think about in FTC. If you take away nothing but the a fore mentioned statements… you'll be viewing counter terrorism in a new light.

On Pg 111 Tom states ” Do we continue the tradition of making our children's world a better, safer, freer place than ours or do we act in our own interest?” and later on page 111 he writes ” Have you ever wondered what happened to all those thousands of terrorists that were trained by Al Qaeda and deployed worldwide? Have you ever wondered why the calls to Jihad fail in the free world? Have you wondered why we don't have suicide bombers exploding in shopping malls? I don't contest that tens of thousands of trained potential terrorists have infiltrated the United States, her allies and other progressive nations. But
only a very small percent of them attack. The majority is subdued by something that they have never experienced. Opportunity. Freedom. Knowledge."


I paused here, well, because I've always thought the tens of thousands trained terrorists that have infiltrated the US unsubstantiated. Now, I'm not sure if Tom is not contesting the idea because the number doesn't have any bearing on this argument or whether he believes that yeah tens of thousands have infiltrated the US and the West and have been swayed to non violence by our freedoms. No matter the number, if these terrorists are subdued by our way of life, and if we believe that (pg 93) “they have been indoctrinated into believing America does some pretty nasty things to them." and also concur with page 89 where Tom states that “Any successful combating terror campaign must attack root causes as well as developed terrorist organizations.”

My question is how do we know we aren't doing what’s best for the children of the future, best in the long run say 50 years form now by regime change in the Middle East? Doing what's best, by promoting democracy in the Middle East. I am not advocating violent regime change. IMO a reason for a good deal of the US hatred is as Tom said on pg 93 “they have been indoctrinated into believing America does some pretty nasty things to them". The majority of governments of the Middle East wake up every morning and the first goal they have to meet is... staying in power while oppressing their citizens! When these countries allow, some even encourage the frustrations of their oppressed population to be vented at the USA and Israel they forge a common bond with their citizens, they unite over a common enemy the USA. It changes the focus , changes the bulls eye from the governments of the oppressed citizens to the USA and it helps these oppressive governments to stay in power in the short run, while placing the bulls eye of their citizens frustrations, hatred on the US and Israel.

4-27-08/reposted 5/8

10:55 PM  
Blogger Janet Webb said...

I wish we could discuss what the presidential candidates AREN'T discussing. And with our two party system, how can we change the conversations or open up the parameters?

I'm finding it increasingly frustrating: the economy, imo, necessitates that attention be paid to pensions, roadways, education ... just to name a very few ... in a frank open cross-generational way ... and that's not what we're getting.

Thoughts?

4:22 PM  

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