Published on January 7, 2008
Could Al Qaeda Win?: Could Al Qaeda Win? Dan Plesch Strategic Studies Course UK Armed Forces University of Cambridge Dan Plesch: Dan Plesch Author of The Beauty Queen’s Guide to World Peace www.danplesch.net www.amazon.com AQ Objectives: AQ Objectives Get Crusaders and Zionists out of Saudi Arabia & other Islamic areas Unite the Umma-Overthrow Apostates Repeat the triumphs of the C7th AD - defeating America Conventional wisdom: Conventional wisdom Downplays risks from those that dream of the C7th Downplays risks from Bush and Sharon Declaration of War 1996 : Declaration of War 1996 “Today your brothers and sons, the sons of the two Holy Places, have started their Jihad in the cause of Allah, to expel the occupying enemy out of the country of the two Holy places… in order to re-establish the greatness of this Ummah and to liberate its' occupied sanctities. …Due to the imbalance of power between our armed forces and the enemy forces, a suitable means of fighting must be adopted using fast moving light forces that work under complete secrecy. In other word to initiate a guerrilla warfare, where the sons of the nation, and not the military forces, take part in it.” Questioning the Question?: Questioning the Question? Looking at how things look from the other side of the hill is simple good practice But, it seems incredible to think about Seems a disloyal question A conundrum: A conundrum US/UK say threat like WW2 or Cold War US/UK routinely described scenarios for Soviet victory We are offered no such analysis of AQ Implications of not being able to look over the hill?: Implications of not being able to look over the hill? A systemic failure of organisational culture? Why can’t we look Over the Hill? Is there something nasty in our woodshed? Empathy and Sympathy: Empathy and Sympathy Empathy is essential to understanding adversary Do not confuse EMPATHY with SYMPATHY for aims, objectives, ideology Today’s radical Islamists look back: Today’s radical Islamists look back Overcoming domination: Overcoming domination Radical Islam sees the West in direct occupation or control of most of the Islamic world A trend since 1600, accelerated in 1900s Corrupt elites, poverty and military repression seen as imposed by the West What is AQ?: What is AQ? Corporation? Network? A Vanguard Party building mass support Manchester United supporters as a model of Radical Islam Some professionals Some fulltime marketing people Many who dream of playing They don’t need to be told when to cheer One Western Empire down…: One Western Empire down… Reagan and Thatcher themselves praised the Mujahideen for helping bring down Communism Their role in destroying communism provides a powerful example of success to radical Islamists-not usually included in Western analysis of failure of modern Islam Comparison to C7th USSR=Persia US=Byzantium Al Qaeda’s cost benefit analysis: Al Qaeda’s cost benefit analysis 9/11 – sacrifice 4 or 5 special forces teams $600 billion damage Transform international political agenda From Zero to Hero with large part of world population AQ Cost/benefit analysis: AQ Cost/benefit analysis Attacks in 3rd world. Turkey Indonesia Kenya Morocco Tunisia Obviously inhuman attacks on innocents; Also….. 3rd World attacks: 3rd World attacks Show global reach Attack apostates and Christians Destroy decadent tourism in oceans of poverty Force withdrawal of Western flights, business, tourism, Further pressure economy of apostates Begin to create destabilised societies more open to support AQ ideology Geo-strategic nature of AQ attacks: Geo-strategic nature of AQ attacks For cost of small special forces units Achieve strategic advance in key countries: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq Create repressive environment in which AQ can thrive and gain support Troops Out?: Troops Out? US forces have apparently left Saudi Arabia? The blasphemy of their presence was the stated casus belli. Withdrawal is a sign of victory and an indicator that more victories may come – though we might like to see it as a prudent and conciliatory measure Saudi:-Guerrilla War/Civil War? Summary of victories to date: Summary of victories to date 9/11- Geostrategic economic and political success 3rd World attacks drive out Western links, draw peoples towards AQ thinking US forced out of Saudi-Now Western staff US/allies in two hard-to-win or no-win ground wars West divided-will splits increase? Western relations with Turkey, Saudi, Iraq now far less stable AQ inside US/UK decision making – has initiative Limitations: Limitations No Rising in the “Arab street” Strong internal divisions in movements – Is Islam any more unified and fundamentalist than Christianity? Strong distate for violent/puritanical/sectarian approach Elements of Effective Strategy: Elements of Effective Strategy British Army Doctrine—Kitson A check list Coordinate policy X Address Grievance X Keep to Rule of Law X Establish Good political climate X Strengthen home base X Deny enemy base X Build Good intelligence X Recognise there is no military solution X Playing into AQ’s hands: Playing into AQ’s hands Quantanamo/Abu Ghraib-abandoning Rule of Law-weakening legitimacy Bad Political environment endorsing repression of Islam globally-Israel/Phil/Indon/Uzb/ weakened alliance with Europe declining democratic participation No secure base-AQ recruits and lives in West Poor Intell and Intell co-operation West marches into traps?: West marches into traps? Rumsfeld now says that Iraq and Afghanistan will be long, hard slogs. (George Marshall recommended the US not get into a ground war in Asia) Americans now looking vulnerable and being killed each day, Saddam fall a bonus, Wahhabism recruiting hard 50% of US forces pinned and hard to extract New US Divisions take 3yrs to build and cost $1.8bn p.a Slide24: 15 MEU crossing border Moving Target Indication – night 20 Mar 03 High-Tech > Low-tech Warfare Low tech IED: Low tech IED The opportunity now for the ‘Base’: The opportunity now for the ‘Base’ The radicalisation of the Islamic public and the overthrow of the corrupt military regimes offers the prospect of crippling Western power. <Landsat of Kuwait oil fires Risk is Political Instability and Regime Change: Risk is Political Instability and Regime Change The rise of a new generation of ‘Col Nassers’ with a strong religious motivation, born of the humiliation of the Muslim world is a spectre from Ankara to Jakarta Brookings study: Brookings study The worse case: Partial cut off from Muslim suppliers $75 per barrel inflation up by 5% The worst case: Total cut off from Muslim suppliers $161 per barrel Inflation up 15% The War on Terrorism, the World Oil Market and the U.S. Economy, October 24, 2001 – George Perry, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies Worst case template: Worst case template The historical worst case battle is the battle of Cannae: Zulu tactic of bulls horns 1. Lure enemy onto your ground 2. Pin his main forces 3. Encircle and annihilate A geostrategic Cannae on the West?: A geostrategic Cannae on the West? 1. Lure enemy onto your ground The provocation of 9/11 2. Pin his main forces The response of repression Ground wars unwinnable 3. Encircle and annihilate Control/Cut off oil by controlling supplier states and sabotaging choke points Gulf states, Indonesia, Libya, Sudan, Algeria – most major suppliers Islamic importers EU,US, Jap Pak Nukes Repression/civil disorder in W Europe Timing?: Timing? Likelihood is that ‘long hard slog’ means attackers will continue to have initiative Additional perceived repressive acts will tend to increase support. Any single regime change may have knock –on effects. civil war in Saudi.