Friday, September 11, 2009

The Challenge of the Post-9/11 World: Deterrence

The challenge of the Post-9/11 World for America is summed up in one word. Deterrence. America got to 9/11 by bits and pieces, all the way back to Richard Nixon's decision not to retaliate for the Cold River assassination U.S. Ambassador to Sudan Cleo Noel Jr. and his charge d'affaires Curtis Moore, to the refusal of Bill Clinton to countenance punishing attacks on Afghanistan in retaliation for the 1998 Kenyan and Tanzanian US Embassy bombings by Al Qaeda. Both Paleocons such as Pat Buchanon, and Liberals and Democrats such as Michael Moore, and Howard Dean argue that isolationism, and variations of anti-Israeli/anti-Jewish actions, will achieve American security. But as we look back on 9/11, and recall that awful day, what stands out is the failure to create deterrence for attack, and the lessons of those nations that have responded to the changed security environment of the post-Cold War, nuclear proliferation world we inhabit today.

Above all else, 9/11 could have been, much, much worse.


During the Cold War, America's security objectives were overwhelmingly to avoid escalation of the conflict with the Soviet Union, particularly through proxies, to the point where nuclear war became a reality. The awful conflict in Korea, taking roughly 36,000 dead, which threatened to involve nuclear war with the Soviet Union, was never far from policy makers thoughts. Thus the US restrained Britain, France, and Israel during the 1956 Suez Invasion after Soviet threats, and conducted a drastically limited proxy war in Vietnam. Nixon, seeking to peel off Arafat's PLO, did not seek retaliation for Arafat's execution orders for American diplomats held hostage in the Sudan. Neither did Carter retaliate against Iran for the taking of the US Embassy and the Iran Hostage Crisis, an overt act of war. Iran was still "useful" against the Soviet Union. Neither did Reagan retaliate against Iran for its proxy Hezbollah's bombing of the US Embassy and Marine Barracks in Beirut, indeed Reagan ordered the US shortly thereafter to leave. Nor did George Herbert Walker Bush remove Saddam Hussein when he could have easily done so. Governing Iraq was too messy, expensive, and besides Saddam was "useful" against Iran. Clinton responded to Saddam's provocations, not the least of which was serial violation of the truce agreements, particularly with respect to ballistic missiles, by the impotent "Desert Fox" which had no material effect whatsoever on Saddam's rule. Clinton also responded to the 1996 Khobar Towers bombings by Iran with impotent threats of indictment, and responded to Al Qaeda terror attacks by similarly impotent indictments and limited, casualty avoiding missile strikes of Al Qaeda compounds in Afghanistan. Neither Clinton, nor George W. Bush after him, responded to Al Qaeda's attack on the USS Cole while in port in Yemen.

All the Presidents had good reasons to do nothing. Retaliation was expensive, politically. It would upset the press, Liberals and Democrats, the UN, various Human Rights groups, factions in the Saudi and other Gulf states, and gain little support at home. And so, as Andrew McCarthy in Willful Blindness, the Justice System was jury-rigged for a task it was inherently unable to complete — combating mass-casualty terrorism through indictments instead of military deterrence.

McCarthy, the former US Attorney who convicted the "Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel Rahman and his associates for planned follow-on attacks after the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, argues persuasively that the Justice System is unable to deal with international terrorists who are in fact, "semi-state" figures, beyond the reach of normal government actions, the extradition of common criminals, and that using the Justice System actually makes things worse. By revealing in open court the sources and methods used to track and discover terrorist networks, including informants and electronic surveillance methods. McCarthy argues that Obama's return to using the Justice System to deal with terrorism, and Al Qaeda in particular, guarantees more attacks along the lines of 9/11, only with more casualties.

Lawrence Wright, who wrote The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 argues persuasively that Osama bin Laden's goals, that of his lieutenant Ayman Al-Zawahari, and nearly all jihadi groups, is that of forming an exile army, and many wealthy followers, in order to overthrow their native governments and become rulers in their stead. For Osama, the target being the House of Saud. For Zawhari, becoming the replacement of Mubarak. Their strategy being to emulate Mohammed, who after being expelled from Mecca, sought refuge in Medina, and through raiding Caravans (not Mecca itself) amassed a following that allowed him to retake Mecca. Indonesian, Pakistani, Algerian, Tunisian, Moroccan, and Uigher members of Al Qaeda all follow this script. Attacks on their homeland have been counter-productive. The secret police there are too skilled, powerful, and with many informants in the various jihadi networks, for any attempt at coups in their home nations to be successful. Not even Anwar Sadat's assassination brought Jihadi victory, merely the successor regime of Mubarak.

In the meantime, organizations that carry off successful attacks on particularly, American targets, find much funding from wealthy would-be jihadi supporters in the Gulf, much like the OAS spectacular terrorist attacks during the infancy of the De Gaulle regime found wealthy industrial patrons willing to aid that organization's coffers. Foot soldiers are plenty, among the alienated, unattached men caused by a tribal and polygamous system that denies a good number of men the ability to marry and form a family. Osama bin Laden's father, Mohammed, had famously 22 wives during his lifetime, and 57 children. When he would tire of a wife, he would "give her" to a subordinate in his billion dollar construction company, ranking higher or lower based on how well his wife had pleased him. This was in fact what happened to Osama bin Laden at age nine. When he mother was given to a subordinate who both hated and feared (Osama would one day inherit some of his father's wealth) the spawn of the great man.

Parapundit estimates that 12% of Muslim marriages are polygamous, though I have seen other estimates that nearly 30% of Saudi marriages are polygamous, many of them with four wives. Enough then, to make significant amounts of men unable to find wives. It's unlikely that all polygamous marriages consist of four wives, but even with most having only two, that would mean 30% of Saudi Men would not find wives. Yes, the Gulf states have much prostitution, as does Iran. But prostitutes are not substitutes for wives, and the frustration of jihadis denied family formation can lead them to willingly accept suicide for the promise of 72 virgins. Michael Yon reported that Saudi Men smuggled into Iraq for the purpose of becoming suicide bombers paid the astonishing sum of $1,100 dollars for that "privilege."

The United States is capable of neither reforming polygamy, nor erasing the Koran (and Mohammed's ability to construct an exile army, of which nearly every Muslim is as familiar with as every Christian is the broad outlines of the Crucifixion). The US cannot, with all the democracy promotion available, erase the raw hunger for power in men like bin Laden and Zawahari, nor their general knowledge of how to get it. The United States cannot ignore terrorist attacks, or do the minimum possible, because the history of the past forty plus years is that such ignoring only leads to ever-escalating attacks. The 1993 WTC plotters, for example, sought to kill 50,000 people by toppling one tower onto another. Their motive? Fame and fortune as successful jihadis, essentially.

What the US is capable of achieving, however, are limited objectives, namely the prevention of mass-casualty terror attacks on the US, particularly it's cities, which are tempting targets. From this, objective, a careful study of real US political and military constraints, along with the experience of other countries, is useful.

First, Russia experienced, as Putin put it in his address to the nation, after Beslan, a loss of fear and respect. Putin said Russia became weak, and the weak get beaten. Thus, the Moscow Theater hostage crisis (and killings), the blowing up of Moscow apartment blocks, the blowing up of Russian airliners in flight, and of course, Beslan. The killing was not about changing Russian policy. No one among the Chechen and Al Qaeda hostage takers and plotters seriously expected a dramatic change in Russian policy in Chechnya. The objective of the plotters was merely to become more powerful and famous, with more money and men flowing in from the Gulf and elsewhere, and among the hostage takers, the nihilistic pleasures of murder and suicide.

Russia's response was ruthlessly pursue the Chechen terrorists, with a proxy army of their ex-comrades, who were offered rule over Chechnya if they would only dispose of the plotters. Which was done in very short order, with much bloodshed. Russia also gained an ally, Iran, by becoming a patron and protector for its nuclear program, which conveniently posed a threat to the US. Russia's actions do not provide perfect protection, as Iran has little influence on Sunni Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, neither of which have any love for Russia. However, Russia's patronage position allows it access to Iranian intelligence on the activities of those factions and actors likely to pose a threat to Russia, and Iranian intelligence is reckoned to be quite good in identifying the players in the region.

China, for example, faces continuing unrest in XianXing province, with Uigher Muslims in conflict with the Han Chinese majority. Conflict severe enough to warrant firing the top Party official in the city of Urumqi, as well as the top police official in XianXing province. Uighers were represented in Al Qaeda, to the point where US officials held some captured in Afghanistan for years, before releasing them in Palau (no other nation would take them). Yet China has not faced airplanes flying into Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Beijing Skyscrapers, because jihadis and more importantly, their tribal hosts, fear concretely Chinese retaliation.

The principal aim of the United States in the post-9/11 world must be to prevent nuclear weapons, either "borrowed" from Pakistan (most likely through tribal leadership connivance, Pakistan being more of a tribe with flags and nukes than a unitary nation such as France) or "given" by Iran (or other nuclear proliferators), being used against US cities, with nukes forming a "super car bomb."

Prevention will require two things. The first is intelligence, which can only be obtained through alliance (as with Russia and Iran) with important factions and groups that are likely to have a good idea of who is doing what, in Pakistan, Iran, and other places. This in effect means a continuing US presence, of some significant scope, in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Only those two places contain tribal enemies, who bear little love for the regime in Tehran (the Azeris, Kurds, Kazakhs, and Turkmen minorities and the Baluchi separatists) and critical information about goings on in Pakistan, particularly tribal leadership and factions within tribes. India as well is likely to have critical intelligence with respect to Pakistan, though it would require naturally US help to be induced to share it.

The second is deterrence. Deterrence "pushed down" to the actual decision makers. In Pakistan, the new President Asif Ali Zardari, is lucky to have orders obeyed past the Presidential Palace gate, as was his predecessor, General Musharraf. The real decision makers are tribal and factional leaders, who control the tribal loyalty of clan and kin. Pakistan is a chaotic place, filled with corruption, so no one pays much heed to the government, not even the Army, which itself is riddled with conflicting religious, factional, and tribal loyalties. Among tribes and clans themselves, leaders can shift in influence and power, and often new leaders emerge as old ones lose influence or patronage. For Pakistan, the source of tribal leaders power, the tribes and the people of the tribes themselves, must see concrete demonstrations of US power and just as important, the will to use it.

Consistently, Osama bin Laden and other jihadi leaders have argued that the near forty year record of US non-response to jihad shows a fundamental lack of will to use power. That America, not the Soviet Union, is the "weak power" and can be attacked with near impunity. At worst, outlasted for a few years as Americans grow weak and weary, and simply give up. Whereas it was critical in the Cold War to avoid escalation with a power fully capable of wiping out the entire US population, i.e. the Soviet Union, it is just as critical to escalate conflicts with isolated (and therefore vulnerable) tribal populations, that have currently no deterrence in simply using borrowed or stolen nuclear weapons for what amounts to tribal counting of coup. Tribal people cannot respond — they have far greater limits on their resources than the USSR. Moreover, examples made of certain tribal peoples, who cross clearly identified red lines, and have few friends, and many enemies, make deterrence real among other tribes. This was the strategy General Crook, and others, used to fight Geronimo. The Navajo hated the Apache more than the US Cavalry and White settlers. With a few variations, it was the strategy used by General Petraeus in the fight against Al Qaeda among the Sunnis in the West of Iraq (the so-called Al-Anbar Awakening). Just as Saddam's capture (humiliating) and his execution showed US power, it also brought to mind the cost for tribal peoples allied to leaders who consistently anger the United States — the rapid gain in power of traditional tribal enemies and their own loss.

The United States cannot create democracy as it is practiced in the West, or remake Islam to outlaw polygamy, or shatter age-old tribal loyalties, or remove the lust for power in the hearts of would be tribal leaders. The US certainly can create a system of deterrence based on real fear of crossing the US, deterrence acting upon tribal peoples. Recall that the Taliban accepted bin Laden's assurances that the most that would result from 9/11 was an impotent invasion, soon to be wiped out, by victorious Muslim forces.

The United States is unlikely to ever again commit large amounts of ground troops in Muslim nations. An invasion of Iran, for example, is extremely unlikely, regardless of any provocation. The best that can be politically accomplished given elite opinions (that all war is bad, including the Afghanistan War, and that security is achieved by group hugs and kumbayah) and the public's souring of the Iraq War, is maintaining adequate troop strength to project force and aid tribal allies across the Iranian and Pakistan borders, from Iraq and Afghanistan respectively. While this is not much, it is not nothing either. It has the advantage of replicating the proven Russian success. Although at much bloodshed, inevitably, some of it American. The strategy also creates a patronage network through which vital human intelligence that can be obtained in no other way (particularly with Obama's War on the CIA) that can be used to stage Predator drone attacks on tribal enemies or support tribal allies. If nothing else, US support for Baluchi separatism, is a useful lever to induce Iranian nuclear cooperation. After all, if a "rogue" group inside Tehran decides to give Al Qaeda a spare nuke or two, the absolute guarantee of "Baluchi separatists" using some "anonymous nukes" of their own to level Tehran, Qom, and other major Iranian cities can be positively (and secretly) communicated.

What is most likely, however, is the continuation of the forty plus years of appeasement, dithering, doing nothing, and half-hearted political efforts to provide political cover, in reacting to the changed security threat. Obama and his liberal and Democratic allies want defeat in both Iraq and Afghanistan so badly they can taste it. Obama has declared war on the CIA, rendering it unable to provide any human intelligence (or likely, otherwise) about any prospective terror attacks. Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is far away from India, in the mostly Pashtun areas controlled by the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Iran almost certainly will have nukes soon, and might indeed already have them. Political costs for promoting a policy of deterrence is high, and the short term rewards for doing nothing as in the isolationism and pacifism of the 1930's are immediate and popular.

What I fear most is a "Bombay World," only one with nukes instead of AK-47s. Ambitious, and cruel jihadis have not ceased wanting power. Polygamy, and tribal loyalties, still roil Pakistan, and to a lesser extent, Iran. Saudi Arabia is still a powder keg of a corrupt royal family, polygamy induced single men with no hope of a family, next to obscene amounts of oil wealth. While every political force in the US pushes the current President no less than last seven Presidents to do nothing. In short, I fear a day when 9/11 is forgotten. Not because people have ceased to care, but because of a day of far greater horror.

And then, the US will not respond as it did on 9/11 with Special Forces, directing bombers to Al Qaeda and Taliban targets from horseback. No, then the response of an enraged and frightened American people will be to simply eliminate as a people any and all nations thought to be responsible, with our strategic nuclear arsenal. Out of anger, but most of all fear, fear for what could happen to other cities in the US.

24 comments:

Thras said...

What I fear most is a "Bombay World," only one with nukes instead of AK-47s.

Do you have any conception of the effort and expense involved in building a nuclear device?

Whiskey said...

There are more than 100 nukes already built, stored separate from warheads, in Pakistan's tribal valleys, including Swat.

There is a great deal of effort and expense to stamp out an AK-47. Yet technology as a cheap commodity makes that weapon sell for as little as $100 in some parts of Africa. Nukes are not there yet, but AQ and other tribal/jihadi groups do not need to make their own nukes. Pakistan, a set of squabbling tribes with a flag, has already done so.

This report from UPI details the current situation.

The biggest danger (is obviously) an undetected theft of a nuke separated from the ballistic warhead. Perhaps replaced with dummy parts. Pakistan, according to the CIA World Fact Book, has a male literacy rate of 63% and a female one of 36%.

Iran is believed to have blown up the Israeli Embassy and a Synagoge in Buenos Aires in 1994 for "retaliation" for Argentina stopping its cooperation with Iran on nuclear technology and material. Iran has attacked the US before, in what amounts to acts of war, in the Embassy Takeover and Hostage Crisis, the Beirut Barracks Bombings, and the Khobar Towers bombing. That Iran is our enemy is not a problem -- that Iran is not AFRAID of crossing RED LINES with the US and likely possess or will possess nuclear weapons IS a major, major security risk.

Short of killing substantial amounts of Iranians, and severely degrading the infrastructure (including roads, water, power, sewage, etc.) of Iran, which is well within US capacity (Iran has few friends and no significant military allies to come to its aid) but not political will, Iran WILL get nukes, and soon, everyone else in the region.

This MANDATES an aggressive, unmistakeable approach to US Security, so that even a Hamid Gul or a Ahmadinejad (or anonymous IRGC general) understands well that US response would be "strategic" and in doubt, target ALL possible suspects.

Otherwise we will simply lurch into a situation where the US MUST respond after losing one or two cities. Just as WWII was entirely preventable had the Western Powers maintained proper defense levels. The Japanese, for example, would have been forced to abandon any plans for war had America built 20 carriers, and all the US lives lost in the fight in the Pacific would have been saved. The Japanese only had 9 carriers by 1941.

It is simply politically impossible to stop nuclear proliferation, therefore it is vital to America's security to have an active policy of deterrence unmistakable to all. Due to forty years of kicking the can down the road, words will do nothing. Only very pointed examples.

Spite said...

What is the point of engaging in all of this "national security" banter if the only result is to make America safe for American liberalism? Isn't it bad enough that we are sending red-state Republican soldiers off to die on behalf of Democrat civilians who hate, fear and malign those very soldiers and their families?

I mean, look at the SAS officer killed to rescue a NYT's reporter, or the young Marine blown apart for some SWPL's photo-op? Is this the kind of sacrifice we need to keep the NYT's, Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Columbia University and the welfare underclass breathing?

Most big urban areas are nothing more than Obama-voting, paper-pushing, mancession, SWPL hell-holes. Who cares what happens to them?

Yeah, the sons of Sarah Palin go to war so that the daughters of Tina Fey can safely go to Harvard.

Sure, sign me up for that deal.

Whiskey said...

Spite -- the issue is not another 9/11 with 3,000 or so casualties. The issue is:

Between 3-6 million dead. NYC or another major US city wrecked. The total collapse of Global Trade (a shipping container nuke if used against the US can be used against say, Rotterdam or Paris or Berlin). Perhaps another city lost, with a few more million.

I don't disagree with your assessment wrt the Sons of Palin and Fey, but America losing say, NYC is roughly analogous to say, the Battle of Stalingrad, or the siege of Leningrad. Most Russians if you asked them would have sacrificed nearly anything to avoid that.

Spite said...

You wrote:

"Between 3-6 million dead. NYC or another major US city wrecked. The total collapse of Global Trade."

So what? Why sweat over 3-6 million dead liberals, or the end of global trade? Neither one of the above is remotely valuable and the end of the two will usher in a better and renewed society.

All this talk about "Al Qaeda," "Iran", etc., misses an essential point: the only reason why these entities are actual threats (as opposed to simply enemies)is because they are enabled by SWPL liberalism. It is the core ideology of liberalism (with free trade and mass immigration) that enables a thug from Karachi to show up at your door with a tactical nuke.

So deep is that SWPL liberalism, so to the core is this deeply-held religion, that no logic or reason is capable of penetrating. All that is left is an example, followed by fear. With 3-6 million dead Americans and the panic that results will be all the shock the system needs to finally carve liberalism out of America.

The rest is simply logistics.

It's easy to talk about Rotterdam or Paris, but let's face reality: if crazy Achmed has a nuclear bomb, then he is going to attack New York. Because of open immigration and trade, every location in the West is equally vulnerable, but not every location is equally valuable. To maximize the damage, New York has to be the #1 target. Therefore, the whole national security apparatus is really designed to do one thing: protect New York.

All I am asking is, why?

America is an organically grown entity. New York's status as America's #1 city exists by virtue of it's age, not by virtue of being constructed by famous men (like Stalin, Lenin, or Peter). There are plenty of other population centers across the United States that duplicate whatever goods and services NYC provides. There is a thousand miles of coastline on which to build other ports.

I can't even see what New York exports to the rest of the country that makes it so valuable. What we have, really, is a city of 8 million parasites pretending that lawsuits and stock trading is productive activity while living off the accumulated capital of 300 years.

Heck their only real export is votes for Democrats.

But with New York gone, the Democratic Party would be shattered. Measures, both intellectual and physical, can now be taken against the balance of liberalism and new, better America can emerge.

Besides, this chain of events is largely inevitable anyway, as long as no one interferes in it.

Elusive Wapiti said...

I don't see how deterrence, as currently conceived, would work in a multi-polar world, let alone in a world where the most dangerous actors are non-state ones.

Deterrence requires a rational state adversary. We have some of those in the form of Russia, China, Venezuela, etc. But our biggest threats come from non-states, and I don't think we've cracked the code on how to deter those guys. Deterrence between countries depends on making them think we'll kick their ass if they go too far; we don't have that kind of credibility with small, agile, determined, networked adversaries. We're just not mad-dog killer enough to make other nations/entities think that we'll wipe them and their families out and sow their fields with salt if they strike at us. We refuse to get Roman on them, and our deterrent credibility suffers as a result.

5GW is a step backward in time, a devolution as far as warfare is concerned. I think the days of gentlemen killing each other in open combat, where "noncombatants" and/or civilians are spared, are rapidly coming to an end. Non-uniformed civilians are the targets, and in many cases are the combatants in this fight. What our Western morality thinks are atrocities were the way business was done 1,500 years ago; we're headed that way now because it takes two sides to agree to fight with rules and procedures. The side that attempts to fight a non-compliant adversary will have a tough row to hoe indeed.

sestamibi said...

I agree with EW and am willing to bet that our Third World president and cunt SofS notwithstanding (come to think of it, 3 of the last 4 S's of S have been cunts), deep in the bowels of The Pentagon discussions are taking place regarding the best way to exterminate the entire world's Muslim population. That would be a good start.

Matra said...

Beslan and most of the other terrorist acts occurred long after the Russians had used ruthless force in Chechnya.

Not mentioned in your post is that the US has no vital interests in the Middle East. America is a cultural Marxist force in the world and Islamic resistance is an understandable response. Why American conservatives support their government's agenda is very difficult for us non-American right wingers to understand.

Also unmentioned is leftist/neocon open borders immigration policy.

Anonymous said...

No vital interests in the Middle East? What about oil?

Whiskey said...

New York is simply irreplaceable. It is the center for finance, publishing, communications, and many other industries that contain very hard to replace people. While we can certainly get along without fashion designers, many complex financial instruments that allow industries to hedge risk, including derivatives (airlines and trucking firms routinely use them to hedge oil/jet fuel prices) are executed by people in New York whose expertise would take perhaps decades to replace.

Moreover, the first container nuke means the effective end of global trade, which would make the Great Depression look the 1991 downturn. So much of global wealth is interdependent on trade, that a "new feudalism" would make the world as poor as it was after the fall of the Roman Empire and the end of Egyptian/North African trade (formerly the bread basket of Europe). In the Dark Ages cities became non-existent, heights of people fell over a FOOT, and coins were almost non-existent.

Matra -- Beslan occurred because there was no real attempt to create a deterrence effort. Random atrocities did not cut it, and Putin's effort, which also included assassinations of press figures reporting on his unsavory activities scared the money men, the organizers, and so on, because a great deal of them ended up dead (with deals made with some of their comrades to carry out the killings). Putin offered a deal to some, and nothing but death to the others. The worst atrocities occurred post-Beslan, and carried out by co-opted Chechens themselves.

As for Obama/Clinton, I have no doubt that the former at least HOPES that the US will be attacked, with a mass casualty terror attack, so he can rule by decree and enforce various groveling measures. Obama in fact hopes for perpetual attacks so he can use the threat for internal oppression, not any external response. Given his reflexive hatred of America, built on religious (he was raised Muslim), racial (he imbibed deeply of Black Nationalist philosophy) and ideological (he is a Socialist/Communist) it is impossible for him to be otherwise. He's cut every offensive and defensive military program, including missile defense, and his political mentor, Bill Ayers, wrote of concentration camps for Middle Class Whites and conservatives.

It remains to be seen if this plan works out for Obama, but clearly that's his strategic goal.

The US has historical experience in deterring non-State actors with State sponsorship: the Seminoles aided by Spain, the Apaches with periodic Mexican aid, the various Northern tribes aided by the French (culminating in the French and Indian Wars), Villa and others aided by the Germans, and the various Communist insurgencies in Central America.

The various wars all had common "solutions" which was aiding tribal enemies of those opposed to us, who knew the who, the what, and the where of their enemies, with a limited but professional modern military acting as the hammer against the tribal enemy anvil. Scaring the rest into submission. Relatively few resources were required against "weak" tribal enemies excepting time. For example, the Judamentados in the Philippines were not fully suppressed up to 15 years after the Spanish-American War.

My guess is we will do none of those things, Obama's gambit will fail, and we will see a more Caesarian America, "salting the fields" of our enemies or all perceived enemies. Even weak failed states can produce nukes (technology has proliferated that degree) and nukes make even a failed state equal to say, Japan. That is not a stable situation and eventually failed states/peoples will overstep and create a fairly global nuclear war to wipe out the enemy.

For survival. All the more tragic given a workable model to avoid it. False economy is always more costly.

Spite said...

The damage that New York's population does far exceeds any benefit from that thin sliver in finance, communications and publishing. Look at the credit default swaps boondoggle. $40 trillion dollars that is very soon to unravel due to the outright fraud perpetrated by Wall Street at the government's behest. Publishing? All left-wing propaganda. Communications? Do we need the kind of man-hating advertising coming from Madison Avenue.

New York's wealth was based on taking a sliver of the trillions of dollars flowing in from overseas foreign investment. Nothing prevents that foreign investment from flowing through another city.

It may be true that Obama is trying to use another terror attack to engage in domestic oppression, but this obviously won't work. The Democratic Party is top-heavy with too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. They don't have the manpower to oppress the entire country outside of the main Democrat cities...and oppressing the Democratic cities serves no purpose. Besides, most Democrats haven't lifted anything heavier than a pencil. The right-wing, however, is filled with heavily-armed people.

A nuclear attack on New York City will completely destroy and discredit the Democratic Party, if for the only reason that millions of them will be wiped out. Power will shift toward the Republican Party because, thanks to the media, they have the reputation for power and ruthlessness to keep the country protected.

The attack will set the stage for the hard-right to come to power and, hopefully, deal a death blow to American liberalism.

Anonymous said...

Your post is preposterous because 9/11 was an inside job, either planned or allowed to happen by the U.S. government.

Why was the military conducting a wargame simulating hijacked planes on 9/11? Wargames are used to provide cover for false flag attacks.

Why was the WTC wreckage rushed to China as scrap?

Why won't the government release most of the surveillance footage of the plane that allegedly hit the Pentagon? Why did the plane perform a complicated maneuver to hit the least important side of the Pentagon?

Why were recordings of air traffic controller communications with the flights shredded and thrown into five different garbage cans?

Also, why is Iran not allowed to have nuclear weapons, but Israel is?

Spite said...

The "9/11 as conspiracy" has a very serious flaw. If the US government managed to pull off 9/11, why could it not ship wmd's into Iraq. The latter is certainly easier to do than coordinating airplane attacks on civilian buildings.

Rose said...

"New York is simply irreplaceable. It is the center for finance, publishing, communications, and many other industries that contain very hard to replace people."

I agree, but I wonder why this is still so. Mass communication has destroyed the need for such a concentration of so many essential industries and persons. "Spreading the wealth around" would render us less vulnerable.

Whiskey said...

Rose, NYC is in some ways the Silicon Valley (a concentration of like minds and skills) of the East Coast. Certain places just organically tend to attract certain industries, based on the "network effect" such as employers, firms, friends, etc. are already located there. NYC is certainly high cost, with real estate, taxes, and daily life being quite expensive.

I would not care to live there, however the city is fairly striking, cleaner than London or Beijing, filled with a lot of energy, and generally a net source of income to the US.

Spite -- CDS's are a global phenomena. Indeed, due to excess regulation, much of the financial industry is moving to London. Historically NYC's great financial rival. When financial firms are making money, the amount of taxes that can be raised (and hopefully, wisely salted away for later) is enormous. If NYC were nuked, London (even harder left wing, and not amenable to any American appeals) would take over the world (and American) financial trade, publishing, communications, media, etc. industries. The result is a net loss for the US, as the money goes outwards, along with the expertise.

Anon -- Iran is a threat to the US, therefore it's nukes are a threat. Israel has had nukes for more than forty years, being a tiny nation of around 5 million and very geographically vulnerable, its nukes are the weapon of last resort. South Africa had nukes, reportedly dismantled them, though its apartheid regime was morally repugnant, it was no threat to the US. Brazil may or may not have nukes, at any case though sometimes hostile the US, any Brazilian nukes are no threat. North Korea, if it were not in the habit of selling nuclear, ballistic missile, and other weaponry know-how and materials, would be little threat to the US with its nukes, assuming a more rational and less crazy absolute leader.

Iran's nukes, and Pakistan's, are a threat because either could reasonably allow terrorist groups to attack the US with several, and kill US cities. Pakistan because its government is weak and illiterate and ignorant tribal chieftans are the real power, Iran because factional groups may decide to attack the US as a way of destroying internal enemies (and figure like Tojo that the US will sue for peace).

Pearl Harbor illustrates that despite overwhelming US material advantages in population, industrialization, natural resources, and more, enemies can and will strike without warning figuring to demoralize the US and force a surrender on their terms.

Iran's nukes matter because they allow a group within Iran to hand off a few nukes to Hezbollah and deny they had responsibility. Due to Iran's factional nature, the formal government of Iran might indeed be uninformed at least of any decision. But around 3-6 million Americans would still be dead, and unless the response was overwhelming, to the point of inducing abject terror among everyone, attacks would happen again.

Whiskey said...

I will add that politically, though the US retains the power and ability to deny Iran nukes by military action, including a massive bombing campaign aimed at Iran's infrastructure, and limited incursions to destroy key facilities and people (Iran's military cannot face the US in open combat), the will is simply not there.

Therefore, given the risk, examples must be made to convince the Iranians. This means, clear demonstrations of will towards them. "Negotiations" and other efforts of good faith towards a centralized power such as Russia are useless in factionalized Iran where such actions are seen as signs of weakness. Rather, use of Baluchi and other separatists to attack key Iranian resources and figures, is in order.

For example, many of the leading factories and power stations are owned and operated by the IRGC (and in effect, top families within the IRGC). These make excellent targets, I'm sure the US Airforce and Naval Aviation could hit them, the Baluchis or whoever claim them, and President Obama deny sternly that the US would ever do such a thing.

The message would be unmistakable. That the US retains the ability to reach out and touch the economic assets of key players in Iran, and essentially make them quite poor. Moreover, that the US can use deniable proxies as much as Iran can, and with far more resources, playing the proxy game is something Iran should not do.

Quite likely, the reflexively anti-American Obama will welcome Iranian nukes and beg for a hug from Ahmadinejad. Promising "Peace in Our Time."

I am sure the Israelis are planning a strike. They might indeed use nukes, which are among the few things they have capable of stopping Iran's nuclear progam. Iran has repeatedly boasted of using nukes to wipe Israel out, and most Israelis do not trust Obama to protect them (only 4% feel he is pro-Israeli) thus a wide-deep desire by Israelis to do anything to avoid being nuked out of existence.

We are probably likely to see this play out on any number of levels. With the US Gulf security umbrella in tatters, the Gulf states are frantically nuking up themselves. Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic all see themselves thrown to the Russian wolf, and are rumored to be nuking up as well. I would be shocked if they were not -- even Putin would not trade Warsaw, Budapest, or Prague for Moscow.

Dropping the US Defense Umbrella is not cost-free, it means everyone will look to themselves, with their own nukes, and ignore the US in their actions.

Rose said...

I don't just mean NYC specifically (hey, I like the city). The whole Big City model should be dismantled for our security.

bgc said...

Thomas Sowell (whom I regard as the greatest living public intellectual) has been convinced for some time of the threat of a nuclear Iran - he regards this as the most important issue in the world today. He states that all you need to do is believe what the leaders say they want, and what they will do. It seems Iran want nuclear weapons in order to use them ASAP - and use them against 'the West' (whoever is within reach of the missiles - I have heard from an Israeli that currently this reach of Iran extends to Vienna). To want nukes in order to use them is something new in the world.

demosophist said...

I just don't agree that there's expertise in NYC that's irreplaceable. Learning to calculate betas is something you can pick up in any good business school, and the assumptions of gaussian statistical models aren't as robust as most people think anyway. In some sense these "experts" are the problem. They don't really understand the methods they're using, but just apply them by rote. Hardly an expertise that's irreplaceable.

But there are a lot of very good people in NYC, and there are even some "liberals" who are very good people. Also the point about a container attack virtually destroying trade is well taken.

The best case scenario from my perspective is a growing constituency for the "tea party" movement, which gradually starts to have an impact not just on government, but on education and media. I've been waiting for this to happen for years, and it finally looks promising. It seems to me this is a race, with a winner-take-all finish, and it'll be close. But it's also clear that the Obamaites aren't unbeatable. They've vastly underestimated their opposition, and the fellow is way overexposed, with a compulsion to just keep making that situation worse.

Finally, I can see that a simple shift in building and distributional technology would "decentralize" the population within about a century anyway. There'd be no good reason to have population centers larger than about a quarter-million people. Even the "edge city" phenomenon is temporary.

Mil-Tech Bard said...

Whiskey,

DOD and related think tanks discussed this issue during the Clinton administration. The plurality opinion which emerged was that only a policy of "deterrrence by denial" could work, i.e., pre-emptive genocide.

So naturally the policy decision was to pretend there wasn't a problem.

As a practical matter, the American response to such an attack will be to nuke all the usual suspects. This might not happen immediately if a Democrat is President when we're nuked at home, but the delay would IMO be only a few months at most.

I also recommend Richard Fernandez's "Three Conjectures".

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&as_q=Three+Conjectures&as_epq=Belmont+Club&as_oq=&as_eq=&num=10&lr=&as_filetype=&ft=i&as_sitesearch=&as_qdr=all&as_rights=&as_occt=any&cr=&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&safe=images

Mil-Tech Bard said...

Whiskey,

The whole "Cold War Two" with Iran plan the Lefties like Obama wants fails the following tests of reality:

1) It's strategic underpinning "Mutually Assured Destruction" assumes a rational actors with the ability by Iran to kill American society with nukes. Neither assumption is true.

2) There are more actors out there than Iran and the USA in this calculation. AKA Lefties have to please explain how an Israeli pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran would be any less destructive to the world economy than America taking down the current Iranian regime.

3) Assuming no Israeli actions, how is the world more secure if our retreat from Iraq and Iran's testing of its own nuclear weapons causes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria to obtain nukes?

This last scenario makes the "Shipping Container from Allah" a certainty with all the threats to American domestic liberty that it respresents.

Caroline Glick sums up the issue for American policy makers nicely here:

"Two conclusions can be drawn from contrasting America's victory in Iraq with its failures in so many other theaters.

First, the only way to successfully fight your enemies is to actually fight them.

And second, basing policies on pretending to deter leaders who are not deterred is a recipe for failure.

Until the Americans accept these lessons, Iraq aside, the international environment will grow ever more threatening."

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/11/americas_strategies_for_victor.html

Spite said...

Th argument over the value of New York City is not credible. The argument the NYC generates lots of tax revenue is equally irrelevant since that tax money goes to support liberal causes.

Let's understand a fundamental concept in economics: in any efficient, free-market economy all externalities, whether they are positive or negative, are internalized. This means that, however much money NYC generates, the vast majority of that money accrues to the economic participants.

This means that all of the benefits of trade between all the participants in finance, communication, publishing, etc., go to those same participants, if we assume the market is free and efficient.

It does no good to argue about "network effects" or "synergies" simply because the rest of the country does not get a cut of that business. What the country does have to suffer through is the liberalism of these respective industries enabled by the wealth they are allowed to keep. The taxes they pay is peanuts to the power to bribe that they have.

So if business goes to London or Hong King, so what? All you do is lose the corrosive leftist influence of Wall Street.

Whiskey said...

Mil-Tech I agree with Glick and Wretchard. Likely we will arrive at the Three Conjectures, but only after much heartache.

The cost of British pacifism in the 1920's and 1930's was Coventry. With Britain so thinly defended that ANY advantage could not be given up, lest they lose.

It is likely for us to be the same, not the least of which is the loss of our technical expertise in the "New Girl Order" where fashionable designers and celebrities are rewarded, and the "Michael Boltons" of "Office Space" reduced to fighting with printers. See my latest post. This is unlikely to end well.

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