Measuring Victory In The War On Terror

May 20, 2009


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[First published September 12, 2005] During World War II, one could measure the progress of the war by the territories taken from the enemy, and the change in the front lines. So far, we have no such measure of our war on terror. I will now offer one.

Assumption 1: free countries — liberal democracies — do not sponsor terrorism or support it against other free countries.
Assumption 2: if the whole world were liberal democratic, terrorism would be defeated in that:
2a. They would not have a support base
2b. The remaining isolated gangs of terrorists would be treated as criminals.
2c.Democracies would combine forces to defeat those that remain, e.g., in the Philippines

Therefore, the progress of global liberal democratization measures the progress of the war on terrorism.

Okay, then how to measure the progress of liberal democratization? Freedom House has been rating nations on their freedom since 1972, giving a 1 to 7 rating their civil liberties, and then to their political rights. Adding these two ratings together, a 2 to 4 joint rating is what they define as a free country and what I will define as a liberal democracy. The worst rating on each is a 7, so a joint rating of 14 for a country is what they define as an unfree country and what I call totalitarian. See their ratings over the years here.

To get my democratization score, I will do this:

Take the average of the civil liberties and political rights rating for each country for each year. For a liberal democracy, this will average to 1 or 2, and to 6 or 7 for the worst unfree countries.

Then I will average all these averages across all countries for a year. If all countries are liberal democracies in a year, the average of the averages will be no greater than 2; if all counties were unfree for a year, the average of the averages would be greater than 6.

A problem is that I want to measure increasing democratization, but increasing democratization is so far measured by decreasing average ratings. So, to get the measurement moving in the proper direction, I will subtract each average of the averages from 7, the maximum possible. I will call the result the modified ratings. Then the modified 0 to 1 rating will mean all countries are unfree for a year, while 5 to 6 will mean all are liberal democratic.

With this understanding, I plotted the modified ratings in the figure below. I have set it up so that it is easy to see the progress in democratization, and thus by my assumptions, the current progress in the war on terror. I have fitted various trend estimates to the plot, such as a log, or polynomial fit, but all agree with what you can see. The trend line is up, and if it continues this way the world will be democratic in 3 or 4 decades, or liberally democratic in about two or three decades after that (to fit an equation just to determine the exact number of years to democracy or liberal democracy would be misplaced precision, given the uncertainties involved).

From now on, I will try to do this table year-by-year as a measure of the progress of the war on terror [not done, but will do in a new blog when I complete republishing these old blogs several months from now], not to mention the fulfillment of the democratic peace in the ending of war, democide, famine, and mass impoverishment.


Link of Day

“Of Minds and Metrics,” By Michael Barone (8/29/05)

Barone says:

Metrics are hard to come by in the war on terrorism. We can know the number of improvised explosive devices that go off in Iraq and the number of suicide bombers there, but we can only guess at whether these numbers represent the last throes of a terrorist movement or its continuing growth. We can count the number of days the Iraqi parliament has moved the deadline for drafting a constitution–seven, as this is written–but cannot be sure what the effect of a finally drafted constitution will be. We can note that some 220,000 Iraqis took part in deliberations over the constitution and that the Iraqi electricity supply now exceeds that of prewar levels.

Written with the excellence I’ve come to expect from Barone


Links I Must Share

“Reassessing the war on terror” By Harlan Ullman:

: Several weeks ago, the Pentagon led an attempt to rename President Bush’s global war on terror as the global struggle against violent extremism. Many commentators took this effort as a sign of a policy reassessment within the administration. But the name change was stillborn by the president himself, who in a subsequent speech pointedly referred to the global war on terror more than a dozen times.

A shallow analysis that lives up to my expectations.

” StrategyPage Looks At War on Terror Metrics”:

. . . discusses US strategy in the war on terror and then addresses the difficulty of measuring success in this intricate war.”

This is Austin Bay’s blog, and this article is informative and worth reading.

” Scoring the war on terrorism”:Presents five measures of success and concludes:

There is no easy long-term strategy that guarantees success. Instead, the United States and its allies must accept the inevitability of a large, global movement bent on murder as a form of political expression. With skill and energy; we can beat it back. Outright defeat will be far harder. That may depend ultimately on the proverbial draining of the political swamp. But by any measure it is a very large swamp.

RJR: another important article to make time for.

Democratic Peace Clock
More on the progress of
democracy via a clock


Torture? Yes, Of Course

February 20, 2009

[First published May 26, 2005] Important human rights groups, such as Amnesty International (AI), and important opinion makers in the media and politics mark certain behavior as so wrong, so bad, with moral certainty and even vehemence, that no one dare question it for fear of social and political ostracism. Yes, even though the moral claim is not only morally wrongheaded, but . . . and I’m selecting my words carefully . . . stupid.

There has been much ado about the American incarceration of terrorists in Guantánamo, and their treatment under conditions that are claimed to amount to torture. One recent AI report is titled, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
– Human Dignity Denied: Torture and accountability in the ‘war on terror’” (link here). It says:

The struggle against torture and ill-treatment by agents of the state requires absolute commitment and constant vigilance. It requires stringent adherence to safeguards. It demands a policy of zero tolerance. The US government has manifestly failed in this regard. At best, it set the conditions for torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by lowering safeguards and failing to respond adequately to allegations of abuse raised by Amnesty International and others from early in the “war on terror”. At worst, it has authorized interrogation techniques which flouted the country’s international obligation to reject torture and ill-treatment under any circumstances and at all times.

Note how absolutists this is. Torture is wrong always and at all times. This argument, wildly accepted and constantly reiterated is itself morally guestionable. I could describe any number of scenarios in which torture was legitimate:

1. A man has raped a 14 year old girl, sealed her in a box, and buried it. He is caught, confesses, and then realizing what he has done, withdraws the confession. And realizing that if the girl is uncovered alive, she will point a finger at him, he refuses to say where the girl is, even though probably still alive. Torture him to save the girl’s life and convict the criminal?

2.The FBI picks up terrorists in Washington, DC, who they know from undoubted technical and human sources, have hidden a suitcase nuclear weapon in the city. They deny everything, but sensitive radiological tests confirm they handled such a weapon. Torture them to find the bomb and save the city and hundreds of thousands of lives?

3. Leading terrorists are caught by American marines in Baghdad. Evidence on their computers and in their safe-house indicates that plans for massive car bombing of mosques and markets are underway. Torture them to stop the bombing and save the lives of innocent civilians that would assuredly die in the explosions?

If you answered no to all the above, then you are like the absolute pacifist who says no to even defending his democratic country against outright attack by a foreign tyrant, and thus contributes, no matter how small, to defeat, and were that to happen, to all the lives lost in the resulting occupation (leave aside the person’s willingness to stand aside and let others sacrifice themselves for his freedom). But if you answered yes to torture in one or more of the above, then you are a situational moralist on this issue, as I am.

Now, as for American torture of terrorists it captures. These are evil men to begin with who think nothing of cutting off the heads of prisoners, and exploding bombs in the midst of women and children. They are all mass murderers. Moreover, they violate all the clauses of the Geneva Conventions. They fight in civilian clothes, hide weapons in Mosques and schools, fight from the midst of civilians, and use ambulances to transport weapons and ammunition. They have thrown out centuries of diplomatic efforts and international treaties and conventions designed to limit war and protect civilians. They deserve no protection by the Geneva Conventions, which in any case does not cover them as POWs.

And, if one or more of them is captured by the American forces, and they have reason to suspect that the terrorists has information that may save American and or civilian lives, torture is legitimate. To do otherwise, is to say that the lives of innocent people and soldiers must be forfeit to avoid causing these terrorist pain. Even if the toll might be 50 or 100 men, women, and children murdered in a car bomb.

That’s a crazy morality. But it is the morality of AI and many such groups, and the morality that few are willing to speak out against.


Link of Note

United States of American (Covering events from January – December 2004) In Amnesty International’s Report 2005

It says:

Hundreds of detainees continued to be held without charge or trial at the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Thousands of people were detained during US military and security operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and routinely denied access to their families and lawyers.

Military investigations were initiated or conducted into allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by US personnel in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and into reports of deaths in custody and ill-treatment by US forces elsewhere in Iraq, and in Afghanistan and Guantánamo. Evidence came to light that the US administration had sanctioned interrogation techniques that violated the UN Convention against Torture. Pre-trial military commission hearings opened in Guantánamo but were suspended pending a US court ruling.

I’ve gone through this and other AI reports on American abuse of terrorist prisoners. What soon becomes clear it that (1) considerable credence is given to prisoner allegations, even though they are enemy terrorists of the United States, and it is known that they are told by their leaders that if captured they should claim abuse; (2) claims by the American military about their investigations and treatment of the prisoners is met with skepticism.


Universal Archive


Treason Is Treason

February 19, 2009

[First published January 19, 2005] One of the most outrageous revelations of sensitive American secrets in the war on terror has been published. It is Seymour M. Hersh’s “The Coming Wars,” appearing in The New Yorker (1/17/2005 link here).

I’m for maximum disclosure of military and intelligence operations, as long as it does not provide important secrets to the enemy. In other words, openness stops where aiding the enemy begins.

In Hersh’s article, we have a case of providing not only secrets to the enemy, the Iranian ruling thugs in this case, but such information as to ongoing commando operations that will help the thugs locate and prevent these secret operations against their nuclear weapons development inside Iran. Even lives are at stake.

A few quotes from Hersh:

“The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer.”

“ . . . an American commando task force has been set up in South Asia and is now working closely with a group of Pakistani scientists and technicians who had dealt with Iranian counterparts.”

“The American task force, aided by the information from Pakistan, has been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan in a hunt for underground installations. The task-force members, or their locally recruited agents, secreted remote detection devices—known as sniffers—capable of sampling the atmosphere for radioactive emissions and other evidence of nuclear-enrichment programs.”

“Rumsfeld planned and lobbied for more than two years before getting Presidential authority, in a series of findings and executive orders, to use military commandos for covert operations. One of his first steps was bureaucratic: to shift control of a undercover unit, known then as the Gray Fox (it has recently been given a new code name), from the Army to the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), in Tampa. Gray Fox was formally assigned to SOCOM in July, 2002, at the instigation of Rumsfeld’s office, which meant that the undercover unit would have a single commander for administration and operational deployment.”

“U.S. military operatives would be permitted to pose abroad as corrupt foreign businessmen seeking to buy contraband items that could be used in nuclear-weapons systems. In some cases, according to the Pentagon advisers, local citizens could be recruited and asked to join up with guerrillas or terrorists.”

“ . . . a terrorist cell in Algeria was “rolled up” with American help. The adviser was referring, apparently, to the capture of Ammari Saifi, known as Abderrezak le Para, the head of a North African terrorist network affiliated with Al Qaeda.”

These are treasonous revelations. But, they won’t be dealt with in these terms by the Department of Justice. And, virtually nobody in power will have the political guts to call this treason treason.

Apparently, what is needed is a few more 9/11s for the major media to realize fully that we are at WAR. Reflect on what would have happened in 1943 if a journalist wrote and a magazine published secret information as to the purpose and place of ongoing commando raids into France prior to Normandy.
==========================

Link of Note

”Espionage by any other name” (1/19/05) By Tony Blankley

Blankley writes, “I was shocked when I read Mr. Hersh’s article.”

He suggests that Hersh’s revelations might fall under the Espionage Act. But he refrains from even using the word “treason.” I’m not so restrained. By The Constitution of the United States, Art. III, treason against the United States consists only in levying war against us, or in adhering to our enemies, giving them aid or comfort. Hersh gave our enemies aid and comfort. With Hersh around, the Iranian thugs can save on their espionage costs.


Why Are We fighting In Iraq?

January 29, 2009

[First published November 2, 2005] The foreign policy of the United States, the War on Terror, and the War in Iraq is predicated on the democratic peace. President bush has expressed this explicitly in describing his Forward Strategy of Freedom. Secretary Rumsfeld has mentioned it, and Secretary Rice has accepted it as background to her speeches on democracy. Because of the democratic peace, even President Clinton made promoting democracy one of the pillars of his foreign policy.

The democratic peace is now the best empirically established theory and most widely held among students of international relations. The theory, which goes back to the Philosopher Immanuel Kant in his Perpetual Peace (1795), is that:

The republican constitution . . . gives a favorable prospect for the desired consequence, i.e., perpetual peace. The reason is this: if the consent of the citizens is required in order to decide that war should be declared (and in this constitution it cannot but be the case), nothing is more natural than that they would be very cautious in commencing such a poor game, decreeing for themselves all the calamities of war. . . . But, on the other hand, in a constitution which is not republican, and under which the subjects are not citizens, a declaration of war is the easiest thing in the world to decide upon, because war does not require of the ruler, who is the proprietor and not a member of the state, the least sacrifice of the pleasures of his table, the chase, his country houses, his court functions, and the like. He may, therefore, resolve on war as on a pleasure party for the most trivial reasons, and with perfect indifference leave the justification which decency requires to the diplomatic corps who are ever ready to provide it.

Indeed, we now know from research done over the last three decades that this is true. The table below shows that since 1816, there have been no wars between democracies, although 371 bilateral wars when one or both sides were nondemocracies.

A second table below shows that there have been only three cases of violence ending in deaths between democracies over the 190 years since 1816. Two of these involved Peru and Ecuador in 1981 and 1984 (26 to 100 killed in the first, and 1 to 25 in the second case of violence). In 1981 Peru was only marginally democratic, as was Ecuador, but less so. This was also true of Peru and Ecuador in 1984. The only other case of violence over these near two centuries was marginally democratic Ecuador (initiator) vs. the U.S. in 1954 in which 1-25 were killed. Only three cases, and none since 1984 despite there being 117 democracies today.

There is much more to the democratic peace then the avoidance of war or international violence. Democracies have been involved in many wars, some they launched themselves (Afghanistan and Iraq being the most recent example). However, by an order of magnitude or more, democracies fight the least severe wars in killed compared to authoritarian or totalitarian regimes.

Moreover, in general, democratic nations are the most internally peaceful — they have the least violence in number killed in rebellions, civil wars, civil unrest, anti-government riots, violent strikes, and coups.

Also, and perhaps most important, modern democracies seldom murder their own citizens. Democide (genocide and mass murder) is an evil of militarism (as in Burma), monarchism (Russia’s Peter the Great), theocratism (Iran), fascism (Hitler), and communism. Over the whole 20th Century during which governments murdered about 174,000,000 people, only 149,000 deaths were due to barely democratic regimes — nearly 100,000 to the far left Spanish Republican government during its 1936-39 civil war, 10,000 to Peru’s (1980-87) fight with communist guerrillas, 25,000 to India, 4,000 to Colombia, 2,000 to the U.S.A. (largely because of lynching in the early years of the century), and lesser numbers to a smattering of democracies. Among these democracies committing democide, none were liberal democracies at the time (when American domestic democide occurred women could not vote and minorities were systematically and legally segregated, harassed, and denied the vote in many states), and one might argue that some were not democracies at all. No democratically free people, liberal democracies of which there are about 88 today, have murdered their own.

How do we understand this nonviolence, peaceful nature of democracy? Kant had part of the answer. Democratic people usually oppose war. But not always. There are two other factors. One is that with democratic institutions comes a democratic culture of negotiation, compromise, and tolerance. And two, there is a civil society of independent and interlocking institutions and groups –churches, businesses, schools, and social, political, and recreation groups — that not only stitch and bond democratic society together, but also cross pressure interests so that the stakes in a conflict are never too high, and the conflicts themselves are isolated. Such a democratic culture and society also encompasses democratic nations, enfolding them in a dynamic democratic field of cross national governmental and nongovernmental organizations, multinational businesses, trade, cultural and educational exchanges, which are similarly bond the nations together and cross pressure interest that might favor violence. Moreover, the basic norm of negotiating and tolerating differences is shared among democracies, which is one reason democracies cannot well negotiate with dictatorship, to whom it is only war by other means.

So, why are we fighting in Iraq and fostering democratic freedom there and elsewhere? The answer is to promote an end to war, and democide, and to minimize internal political violence. In other words, it is to foster global human security. Surely, this is worth fighting for.


Is Islam The Enemy? #2—No!

December 28, 2008

[First published in April 19, 2006] Building on the article that I just posted, “Is Islam The Enemy?,” in which I quoted from the Boroumand sisters, I would like to address a critical question, “In the context of our War on Terror, is Islam the enemy?”
First, I should reveal my own biases. I am not a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim or an adherent of any standard religion. I am not a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a liberal or a conservative. Fundamentally, I am a secular freedomist. My approach is like that of a hypothetical anthropologist from Mars who is trying to evaluate earthly matters without favoritism, a man from Mars who believes, based on empirical evidence, that the solution to many of humanity’s problems is democratic freedom.
By “enemy,” then, I mean anyone who is in violent opposition to such democratic freedom. So the question becomes, “Is Islam the enemy of democratic freedom?”

Now, when we read about the third class citizenship of Muslim women and their victimization in “honor” murders; Muslims dancing in the street, joyful over 9/11 attacks on America; the repeated sing-song of “Allah Akbar” (“Allah is the Greatest”) while Muslims murder “infidels;” the absolute anti-Semitism and barbarism in the speeches of public Muslim figures, coupled with genocide against Jews; Muslim judgments under Shari’a law that homosexuality and conversion to Christianity are capital offenses; Muslim intolerance of all that is non-Muslim; death threats against those who criticize Islam, or who simply express their opinions; the anti-American, anti-Israeli screeds of many Muslim leaders; and the seeming lack of moral outrage among the vast majority of Muslims over terrorists murdering human beings by the hundreds, destroying mosques with their bombs, even murdering fellow Muslims…..Enough. Doubtless, much more could be added to this litany of grievances, and to cast Islam as the enemy might seem to be only common sense. But this would be to mistake cultural epiphenomena for the real terrorist enemy.

I need to be perfectly clear here: Culture consists of the patterns of behavior, beliefs, religion, norms, and mores of a people, and what we are seeing in the Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa is attachment (or even reversion) to the Islamic culture of the middle ages. There is nothing strange about this, except that it is happening today, in what Westerners consider a more modern, rational and secular age. After all, if one studies the history of Christianity during the centuries before the Renaissance, Reformation and Age of Enlightenment, one sees largely similar cultural epiphenomena: mistreatment of women as third class citizens; mass murder in God’s name, especially of Jews; rigid and absolute belief in religious precepts; negative attitudes toward science and secularism; self-righteous intolerance of differences; and the murder by religious authorities of anyone who expressed independent thought or criticism of the Catholic Church. 

I will call those Muslims whose culture is rooted in the Islamic middle ages traditionalists. These comprise a large number of today’s Muslims, many of whom are active and visible. Islam and its precepts reside at the center of their lives, thus their culture clashes with modernism, secularism, and today’s moderate Christianity
Those Muslims who are aligned with violent and terrorist Islamic groups I will call Islamofascists. They are fighting for political, not religious, power. And in this battle, they have hijacked Islam, since it provides justification, both for their terrorism and for their political goals. They have been heavily influenced by fascism and by Marxism-Leninism, and their goal is a totalitarian world in which they rule and control all—society, economics, Islamic culture, and the minutest family matters. The rule of these Islamofascists would closely resemble the rule of the former Taliban in Afghanistan. 

Islamofascists are the enemies of all Middle Eastern governments except one—Iran. And that is because the government of Iran is controlled by a gang of Ayatollahs who are themselves Islamofascists and who support and supply Islamofascists throughout the Middle East. The methods of these Islamofascists are the same methods the world witnessed in fascist and communist controlled countries during the last century—Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot conducted terrorist campaigns against their own peoples, with mass murders in the millions.

By invoking Islam’s most holy sayings, by exploiting the traditionalists’ fear of Western cultural hegemony and by fanning the flames of anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment, Islamofascists have misled many traditionalists into supporting and joining them, even to the extent of becoming suicide martyrs for the cause. And they have misled Westerners into believing that the Islamofascists represent Islam.

Then there are the corrupt, sometimes tyrannical, dictators who rule the various Muslim regimes—Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and so on. Decades ago these regimes were moving towards modernization and democratic reform, but after Khomeini’s 1979 revolution in Iran, they were besieged by Islamofascists whose goal is totalitarian, Leninist revolution. The dictators of the Middle East fought back with a counter-ideology of nationalism, coupled with a savage terrorism of their own, that preserved their political power and the benefits of their associated elites. Through absolute control over the economy, society, and culture, particularly education and the mosques, these dictators made common cause with the traditionalist Muslims against the Islamofascists. This was a war of a different kind, a war that pre-9-11 Western realists participated in by deciding not to weaken such regimes through demands for reform, and by deciding to support them with economic and military aid.
Finally we must consider a most important group of Muslims, the moderate, liberal, nonradical Muslims whom I will call modernists. These are the critics of the traditionalists, the Islamofascists and the dictators. They favor modernization and acceptance of the best of Western culture.
Few modernists have been willing to speak out in Muslim countries, because they risk arrest or execution. Often their statements will, of necessity, appear to support the traditionalists or the dictators, despite the fact that these two groups are their enemies. How many of these brave Muslim modernists reside in the Middle East? No one knows.
Most of the modernists we hear from live in Western countries, such as France, Britain and the United States. These modernists expressly believe in human rights and democracy, and some claim the support of silent, frightened majorities in their countries of origin.
Among Muslims, there are then four groups relevant to the War on Terror–the traditionalists, the Islamofascists, the dictators and the modernists. These groups are engaged in four overlapping struggles: that of the traditionalists to maintain their cultural-religious values and beliefs against modernizing forces from within and Western cultural hegemony from without; that of the Islamofascists who wish to conquer all and achieve absolute world power; that of the dictators and their associated elites, who struggle to hold onto power and benefits; and that of the modernists, who struggle to survive in a hostile environment and whose desire it is to bring Muslim countries, and Islam itself, into the modern age.
In conclusion, the traditionalists are not our enemies, as they mainly want to be left alone to worship and live as they choose. The ruling dictators are not our enemies, since the West provides critical support against the Islamofascists who would overthrow them. And, it is not the modernists who are our enemies, as they generally support Western democratic ideals. The true enemies of democratic freedom are the Islamofascists, whose ideological homeland is Iran.

The policies that flow from this analysis are clear:
1./ We must contain, and ignore when possible, the traditionalists and traditional Islam. Although traditional Islamic culture may outrage liberal democratic sensibilities, Islam by itself is no danger to the national interests of the Western democracies. Provided we can buy sufficient time, the reformation and transformation of traditional Islam by modern science, global technology, communications, business, and a growing educated Muslim middle class, is inevitable.
2./ Since democracy will tend to speed reformation of the most regressive aspects of traditional Islamic culture, we must do everything possible to encourage democracy in the Middle East. Islam does not stand in the way of democracy, as is evident from surveys taken of Muslim opinion. (Please see my blog, HYPERLINK “http://freedomspeace.blogspot.com/2006/01/muslim-arabs-favor-democracy.html” “Muslim Arabs Favor Democracy”.) Some Muslim liberal democracies already exist—Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Benin, and Indonesia—and with the advent of democracy in the Middle East dictators will no longer hold sway.
3./ We must do everything possible to empower the modernists, who are our allies in the War on Terror. We must avoid condemning everything Islamic, which might deliver them into the hands of their domestic enemies, the traditionalists and the dictators. The modernists can offer evolving Islamic societies a better future than any other group.
4./ Only the Islamofascists are the true enemies of democratic freedom. And, as the Boroumand sisters so eloquently demonstrated, Islamofascism is not so much an Islamic excrescence as it is an inheritor of the worst of the 20th Century—fascist and Marxist-Leninist ideologies that spawned totalitarian regimes responsible for the murder of millions of their own people. Islamofascism must be exposed as the evil that it is, and we must be committed to fighting and destroying it, just as we disposed of the evil ideologies of the past century.
In the context of our War on Terror, our enemy is Islamofascism, not Islam.


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