“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, April 22, 2013

With drone strikes, the whole point of the policy is supposed to be to prevent terrorism. If the policy is in fact contributing to terrorism, that's a pretty strong argument against it; they've probably made this kind of terrorism--home-grown terrorism, committed by longtime residents of America--more likely.

Drone Strikes and the Boston Marathon Bombing
The more we learn about the Boston Marathon bombing, the more reason there is to doubt the wisdom of Obama's drone-heavy approach to fighting terrorism.

APR 21 2013, 9:49 AM ET

In 2011, after President Obama used a drone to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, the American citizen who was recruiting jihadists from his perch in Yemen, many hailed the assassination as a powerful blow against terrorism.
"The death of al-Awlaki is the last nail in the coffin of the al Qaeda brand,"wrote Lisa Merriam (a "brand consultant") in a piece for Forbes. "Yes, bombs are what we think of when we think of al Qaeda, but powerful bombs require a powerful brand. The al Qaeda brand has been the key to raising awareness, raising an army of recruits, raising money, and raising terror. Now that the brand is dead, all of those goals are out of reach."
Tell that to the people of Boston. The more we learn about the Boston Marathon bombing--and the accused bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev--the more reason there is to doubt the wisdom of Obama's drone-heavy approach to fighting terrorism. Not only did his hundreds of drone strikes fail to prevent the bombing; they've probably made this kind of terrorism--home-grown terrorism, committed by longtime residents of America--more likely.
Many have noted that a recipe for the type of bomb used in Boston was published three years ago in Inspire, the online magazine aimed at getting American Muslims to commit terrorism. Inspire is associated with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and al-Awlaki is thought to have been involved in the magazine's creation.
So the Boston bombing is, for starters, a reminder that killing al-Awlaki didn't magically expunge that bomb recipe from the internet. And the fact that another issue of Inspire came out last month is a reminder that killing al-Awlaki didn't kill his magazine or his message or the al Qaeda brand.
In fact, if you look at the contents of that most recent issue, you'll find evidence that this and other targeted killings have strengthened the al Qaeda brand, or at least the jihadist brand more generically, by making it more appealing to vulnerable American Muslims (not most American Muslims, of course, or even many of them, but the very few unstable, disaffected ones who are susceptible to the lure of radical Islam).
The point of this issue of Inspire--and all issues of Inspire--is twofold: to suggest effective forms of violence and convince these vulnerable Muslims that violence is warranted. That second goal rests on a simple narrative that gained momentum via the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts: America is at war with Islam. President Obama may think he's draining that narrative of its power by extracting troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. But his strategic substitute for ground troops--a hugely expanded program of drone strikes in various Muslim countries--is also substituting for those troops in the jihadist narrative.
This latest issue of Inspire says America uses drones in a "cowardly" way:
In Yemen, they roam over Muslim houses, terrorizing children, women and the weak. Moreover they bombard 'suspected' targets in villages, towns and cities. Why? Because far from Yemen, in the Whitehouse [sic], Obama took a decision. He decided to start a new chapter, a chapter more savage and barbaric than the previous chapters of the crusade on Yemeni Muslims. A chapter which relies on the strategy of the unmanned drones, 'the strategy of signature strikes'.
This strategy allows officials in the CIA and the PTSD army to carry out attacks on any human, vehicle or building in Yemen if 'suspected' to be a threat to the security of the US without the need to identify the real identity of the target, whether Al-Qaeda or not. This includes women and children. Just because an American 'feels' this person poses danger. Whenever they have this 'feeling' they order for a 'Hell Fire missile' to be launched.
These missiles are usually carried by the unmanned drones to kill this or that target cold-bloodedly. Of course! Obama is declaring a crusade! These missiles have no eyes and their launchers are more blind. They kill civilians more than mujahideen.
Obviously, there's some exaggeration here; that's the way propaganda works. But propaganda is most powerful when it's at least within shouting distance of the truth--and, unfortunately, that's the case here. Obama's drone strikes have killed, if not more civilians than mujahideen, lots of civilians, including women and scores of children. Every time such killing happens, the jihadist narrative, the narrative that seems to have seized the minds of the Tsarnaev brothers, gains a measure of strength.
So did one or both Tsarnaev brothers actually read Inspire? Pro Publica has suggested that Tamerlan did. But whether or not he did, the drone-strike trope has become a standard theme in jihadist propaganda channels, and there's strong evidence that Tamerlan was tuned in to those channels. And he seems to have been buying the larger America-is-at-war-with-Islam meme. A man who knew Tamerlan says he "was upset with America because America was in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries."
No doubt there were lots of ingredients in Tamerlan's radicalization, possibly including Russia's brutal treatment of fellow Chechens. He may have even gotten inspiration or guidance during a 2012 trip to Russia. But his radicalization seems to have preceded that trip, and, in any event, in the end he needed a rationale for killing Americans, not Russians. That's where drone strikes can come in handy, and the latest issue of Inspire spells out the logic explicitly: Because America is "ruled by the people," its "rulers (people) should pay for their country's action till they change their system and foreign policies." So "war on America including civilians" is legitimate, says Inspire, so long as Americans are killing Muslim civilians with drone strikes. "The equation should be balanced. Like they kill, they will be killed."
We'll never know for sure whether recurring news about civilians killed in drone strikes helped push Tamerlan over the edge or helped him rationalize atrocity. But I assume jihadist recruiters know their business, and know what kinds of things can incite people like the Tsarnaev brothers. And they seem to consider Obama's drone strike policy a gift from God. If that "gift" isn't what gave us the Boston bombing, it will probably, if continued long enough, give us some other horrific bombing down the road.
When Lisa Merriam celebrated the assassination of al Awlaki in Forbes, she was under a misapprehension that seems to have motivated that assassination and has helped sustain Obama's drone strike program: that the enemy should be thought of as a kind of overseas army, and if we kill all its soldiers, we'll have won.
In truth, the enemy isn't just jihadists, but jihadist memes. And if every time you kill a jihadist you create several more by spreading the memes, you're not winning. That's especially true if some of the jihadists you create are already in America--assets more valuable to America's enemy than 100 jihadist foot soldiers in Yemen.
Another premise of Obama's drone strike policy is that "high value" targets are hard if not impossible to replace. After all, who could possibly fill the shoes of the famously charismatic al-Awlaki? Now we have our answer. Though Obama ensured that al-Awlaki isn't around to preach to people like Tamaran Tsarnaev, Tsarnaev seems to have found someone equally charismatic to follow: Feiz Mohammad, an Australian YouTube preacher who, as Noam Scheiber of the New Republic notes, has "the chiseled look of a former athlete" and "impeccable dramatic timing".
Obviously, to note how American policies contribute to terrorism isn't to diminish the moral culpability of the terrorists or to embrace jihadist rationales. And it's not to suggest that terrorists should get veto power over American policies. If Inspire inveighed against, say, freedom of religion in America, no compromise of that principle would be in order even if terrorism was the price paid for defending it. But with drone strikes, the whole point of the policy is supposed to be to prevent terrorism. If the policy is in fact contributing to terrorism, that's a pretty strong argument against it.


  1. "No doubt there were lots of ingredients in Tamerlan's radicalization, possibly including Russia's brutal treatment of fellow Chechens.

    He may have even gotten inspiration or guidance during a 2012 trip to Russia.

    Not sure what the date was, but my hunch is his trip was the reason for the Rooskies (remarkably, to my limited mind) alerting our Clueless FBI.

  2. Also, no doubt the free and easy, allied casualty free unlimited droning of indiscriminate humans has many less than ideal effects.

    It is my belief that nothing can compare to the relentless hate and blame America First "Curriculum" in place K-12, and thereafter.

    I look back and can't point to a whole lot of specifics in my post-Army college experience, certainly far fewer than today's students absorb, but it did have the effect of turning me (temporarily, thank God) into a minor version of John Kerry, fearless Vet testifying to the infinite evil of our Military Industrial Driven Empire.
    (like we stole all that we have from everyone else in our uniquely evil All American Way)

    ...oops sorry, there I go channeling Quirk again.

    In the Army I also had a college Buddy from Marin County, specifically the rich and beautiful town of Mill Valley, sending me some reading material that was materially different from the John Wayne, et-al movies I grew up with.

    Just Sayin...

  3. And the older of the two brothers, I think was named after some famous ruthless muslim slaughterer.

    ...and their sister named her kids after some other Johnny Jackoffs of Jihadi Reknown.

    The Grandad, on the other hand, being first generation, and not experiencing the inclusionary educational system of the now Multicultural West, is a Patriotic Pharmicist working for one of the Military Support Brigades in Canada.

    Diversity is our most important product, especially after we turn it against ourselves, as we also do with the children of hard-working, family oriented first generation hispanics.
    In numbers gauranteed to make the future of this country unrecognizeable to all that have gone before.

  4. Named after a Mongol, doug.

    The one that defeated the Turks and Persians

    Then he converted to the religion of his new subjects.
    Much like Alexander in that regard, he went native.

    1. Much like Constantine, he was using religion to cement political control.

    2. Not sure whether Alexander slaughtered more folks or not.

      Persia is a bloody place to go and invade.
      Then the "conquerors" tend to be absorbed by the Persian culture.

      At least "Back in the day"

  5. Hagel, after his Aipac Bris:

    Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has arrived in Israel on a high profile visit, and right off the bat insisted that the US and Israel both feel “exactly the same” about Iran’s civilian nuclear program, adding that Israel has a “right” to attack Iran whenever it decides it wants to.

    Hagel’s nomination to his position was held up briefly over allegations from opponents that he was insufficiently pro-Israel, and many see this trip as a chance for him to demonstrate a sufficiently obsequious posture to silence those critics.

    Indeed, Hagel’s “exactly the same” proclamations insisted that one would have to go down to extreme specifics, like the exact timing of when to attack Iran, to even see the “possibility” of differences of opinion.

    Hagel’s visit is aimed at presenting a high profile new round of US-subsidized arms sales to Israel, which Hagel insists is meant to send a “clear signal” to Iran of America’s support for Israel.

    Other officials had previously said the arms sales were set up “so it would not be viewed as an American endorsement of accelerated planning by Israel to strike alone at Tehran,” but with officials openly endorsing that anyhow, it is hard to say the arms deal is sending any other message.

    1. The Japanese thought that they had a "Right" to attack US preemptively, after US Army airmen attacked them in China.

      The US demurred.

      Now-a-days the US fighting Japan, before Pearl Harbor, not even thought about, in the US.
      But the equivalent of Drone Strikes, back in 1940, led the Japanese to think they had no way to go, but to war, with US.

      How many US lives were lost, because of provocation provided to the Japs by FDR and the Flying Tigers?

    2. I immediately noticed it too, WiO.

      I think Deuce is actually unaware of how often he injects stuff like that.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. We are being dragged into a war with Iran by Israel and the her flunkies in the US Congress. That is Israeli State policy. If you do not think that is important then you can say so. Flashing your victim card is not an argument.

    5. I thought we were talking about Chechen terrorism being caused by our drone policy which has nothing to do with Israel. That is the title of the post.

      All of a sudden we are being dragged into war with Iran by 'Israel and her flunkies in the US Congress'.

      CAIR flunkies all over the Obama Administration are never mentioned.

      I am going back to bed. Out.

    6. The broader them, since I have to spell it out for you, is why the US makes itself vulnerable to terrorism from the Middle East. We create more terrorists than we kill. Why is that happening?

      Israel has the right to decide for itself whether to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told reporters on Sunday.

      Hagel’s statement echoed the position US President Barack Obama expressed during his March visit.

      “Iran presents a threat in its nuclear program and Israel will make the decisions that Israel must make to protect itself and defend itself,” Hagel told American reporters on his plane before touching down in Israel.

    7. Not a Jew mentioned in Deuce's post about Hagel.

      Just the war mongering Israeli policies.
      Jews and Israel cannot be conflated.

      Those Jews in the Caucasus Mountains, they are peace loving Russians, not war mongering Israelis, not at all.

    8. Have you ever hear of something called 'blowback'? I'm talking about a price, sooner or later, that will make 9/11 look like a local news. We were fed the line that the Chechens were all innocent victims of Russian aggression - yet their brand of militant Islam leads them to kill and maim even innocent people in the US, with whom they have no argument. Similarly, Kosovan Albanians have deliberately set out to murder US soldiers. Islamist terrorists, of the kind that the west wishes to see prevail over the legitimate government of Syria, hate the US and everything the US stands for.

  6. Obsequious is the recommended posture for all US pols in all dealings with The Star of the Med.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. About the Patriot Day bombers and their money, the Federals went by the house and the wife ...

    She says husband cared for their toddler while she worked 70 to 80 hours a week as health care aide

    Read more:

  8. Lots of good articles in JihadWatch today, most all about the Boston bombing or some aspect of them -

    The idea that it is 'all or fault' taken to task, a dhimmi idea if there ever was one.

  9. Someday all the Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindu, Buddahist, et al, will all be gone. The planet can then be in peace allowing its children to live without the fear of their disgusting gods.

  10. Coward. That was a perfectly appropriate comment.

    I compared Deuce to Ahab, who didn't realize all he talked about was the white whale.

    You don't take criticism well. It is a defect.

    1. Read the reports on Hagel’s visits to Israel and his list of gifts. You will get your war against Iran.

  11. And you totally disappeared WiO's legitimate comment.

    Some believer in free speech.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. WIO will be deleted for his single note racial obsessions.

  14. You are both welcome to start your own blog if you think anyone will be interested in your thoughts.

  15. ah the FINAL solution...

    just allow israel to commit suicide and we will have peace in our time..

    1. I'd certainly not put any third party life at risk to stop a suicide.

      Suicide is painless.

  16. While many who read in this space are choosing sides (or just wishing a plague on all their houses) in that “reality show” titled “What’s Happening In Syria And All Those Little Countries in Oilland,” and the Great Gamers skim high above in “command and control” mode while enunciating their Grand Strategies and moving little markers around on their Game Boards and trying, like the bit players in the stock market, to “pick winners,” it might be illuminating to look occasionally at what is happening to fellow humans “on the ground” there.
    link to

    The “Great Policy” crotch seems once again to be “give or withhold ‘aid’ to this or that group if we can figure out who is who and where they are on the arcs of violence and “loyalty” from day to day, whether guns or not-guns,” $124 million of this or that, with not a lot of thought, other than “countering Russia” and “protecting our strategic presence” and “retaining freedom of operation” or making more Great Game same-old moves, going into what’s beyond the Now.” I would doubt that, given the Experienced Players and institutional momentums and the ancient alluvial channels that money flows in, floating weapons that tote up to a quarter of the planet’s wealth, anything different might eventuate that might eventually “work better” for the ordinary people who create the wealth the warlords and other rulers and their militaries suck up, that hallmark of the “genius” of Mesopotamian-rooted “civilization,” might reduce the rush to tribal flags and the recursion of vengeance.
    We label the warrior groups as Fundie, Shia, Sunni, Alawi, “government,” whatever. Our brains render one or the other “good guys” or “bad,” or “who cares, they’re just a bunch of Muslims,” irrespective of their actions or the horror and misery they cause. Seems to me the actual category is maybe “gunmen-fighters,” which describes all of them and hints at what draws mostly males into the FUN thing called “war” or “battle.” Churchill said the exhilaration comes from being shot at and missed. There’s a lot more fun to be had in “victory” in the form of KILLING – warriors would much rather kill for their tribe than die for it, and if you spend any time looking through the videos in Landis’s link to: growing collection, you get a little sense of the fear-excitement-rage-exultation chemistry that impels these dudes to attack, and to murder captives and non-combatants, behind a pasteboard front of “religion:” “Allahu Akbar! God is Great!” How’s that again?

    Add some video time in youtube looking at “helmetcam” and “hellfire” selections, to see the universality of it all. And maybe feel some revulsion, and get some hints about how us humans might find some path or other out of that reptile-brain set of behaviors? Or not — “we” don’t seem capable of controlling the behaviors that are killing the planet and ourselves…

    1. Hear ,hear or ...

      here, here ...

      Never was quite sure which hare those Brits were referring to.

    2. Thanks Rev for a thoughtful post. It is refreshing compared to the inanity we get from the paranoid. Don’t be a stranger.

  17. Deuce, I sent this in an email. I hope you got it and would appreciate you doing a post on this. No one else will touch it.


    Bob N.

    On April 3, The Brussells Tribunal issued the following statement:

    “Maliki and his gang are slowing assassinating Tariq Aziz.” He’s imprisoned in Iraq. He’s treated inhumanely. Doing so constitutes torture.

    “The whole Western political class and human rights bodies should be held responsible if he dies in custody, because of their inaction and negligence.”

    His son Ziad wrote to the BRussells Tribunal. “We urge politicians, Human Rights Organisations and the media to finally take some decisive action for the release of Tareq Aziz and all other political prisoners,” he said. “Human rights should be defended.”

    Former Iraq humanitarian aid coordinators, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, said so earlier. They addressed Aziz’s deplorable situation.

    Ziad said in part:
    “It has been almost 10 years since my father had been taken into custody by the American forces.”
    “It is also the anniversary of the assassination attempt he survived in 1980.”

    It killed civilian bystanders. It “was planned and executed by the same people who are ruling Iraq today, and who are planning to execute him again, slowly and this time with nobody to see.”
    He’s imprisoned in Baghdad. He suffered his fourth stroke. He “fell on the floor in the middle of the night and was left in his cell for the whole time until morning.”

    “He has not been visited by a doctor, nor was he taken to the hospital, nor was he offered any medical attention of any kind since he had the stroke.”

    “His ability to speak coherently is basically diminished. My mother and sisters can barely make out what he” says.

    He has “inflammations and diabetic ulcers on his feet and legs.” Without immediate treatment, gangrene and amputations could follow.

    Medical neglect bears full responsibility. Authorities lack compassion. “They have a specific agenda.” They want revenge.

    Ziad wants the international community to know. “My father’s situation is deteriorating by the day, and I am truly afraid of what the future might hold if he is not provided with the proper care and treatment he desperately needs immediately.”

    Tariq Aziz is also a Chaldean Catholic. Christians in Iraq were driven out or killed. Now the same is being planned for Syria.

    1. Guess he's good as a goner then.

      The Iraqi we empowered ...
      They always were who they are today.

      No doubt that ...
      “They have a specific agenda.”

      Amazing how the US misspent a trillion dollars, pissed away in the sand. While there are those who want US to take another go at it, against a larger foe. Who, the last time a US proxy attacked them, spent a million lives in their self-defense.

      As boobie the anon said the other day ...

      Choose Life.

  18. (Reuters) - Russia warned the European Union on Monday not to lift an arms embargo that has prevented weapons supplies to Syrian rebels, despite British and French lobbying.

    British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday that EU foreign ministers, who last month rejected a Franco-British proposal to ease the ban, would in coming weeks discuss the question again.

    Russia, which says it is continuing to implement weapons contracts with Syria but is no longer delivering arms that could be used in the civil conflict, has vehemently opposed any supplies of weapons to President Bashar al-Assad's opponents.

    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said an embargo was unnecessary in the first place because such supplies were prohibited by international law.

    If the embargo is removed, "the international obligations of the EU countries, which prohibit supplies of arms and ammunition to non-government actors, are not going anywhere", he said at a news briefing after talks with his Guinean counterpart.

    Russia has used its U.N. Security Council veto power to shield Assad from Western efforts to push him from power or increase pressure upon him to end violence in a conflict that has killed more than 70,000 people since March 2011.

    Moscow has for months been calling for implementation of an declaration agreed by world powers including Russia and the United States in Geneva last June that called for a transitional government. However, Washington disagrees with Moscow's assertion that the agreement requires Assad to step down.

    Lavrov said he and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would discuss ways to promote a peace process in Syria at talks on the sidelines of a NATO gathering and a Russia-NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

    "We will discuss what we, Russia and the United States, can do to convince those who ... are resisting the peace process to step onto the path of implementing the Geneva agreements," Lavrov said.

    Russian and U.S. diplomats have held several meetings for that purpose since late last year, to little effect.

    Lavrov said that in a telephone conversation with Kerry on Saturday, "I sensed confirmation of the intention ... to seek as swift as possible a political solution".

    But he said the West had not done enough to encourage all Assad's foes to show readiness for dialogue with the government: "So far there is clearly not enough movement on this."

  19. Maliki and his gang are slowly assassinating Tariq Aziz. Please take action

    Statement of the BRussells Tribunal
    Dear Sir,

    It has been almost 10 years since my father had been taken into custody by the American forces, it is also the anniversary of the assassination attempt he survived in 1980. This attempt on his life, which led to the death of civilian bystanders, was planned and executed by the same people who are ruling Iraq today, and who are planning to execute him again, slowly and this time with nobody to see.

    On the most recent visit to the prison he is being held at in Baghdad, my mother and sisters found out that he had suffered his fourth stroke since 2003, he fell on the floor in the middle of the night and was left in his cell for the whole time until morning. He has not been visited by a doctor, nor was he taken to the hospital, nor was he offered any medical attention of any kind since he had the stroke. Was it not for his cell mate who tried to take care of him to his best ability, and for the grace of God, I cannot think what might have happened.

    His ability to speak coherently is basically diminished, my mother and sisters can barely make out what he was saying to them. there were also inflammations and diabetic ulcers on his feet and legs, which could lead to gangrene and, if no immediate treatment and care were to be provided , amputation.

    He never had these ulcers before, and he is only having them now because of the neglect he has been treated with.

    As I said above, the same people who tried to assassinate him in 1980, are trying to assassinate him now. They claim to be the beacon of human rights and democracy for the region, but they lack any compassion or humanity whatsoever. They have a specific agenda, they are not interested in justice, they only want revenge.

    My family and I urge you to inform the international community and world press through your channels, of my father's situation. My father's situation is deteriorating by the day and I am truly afraid of what the future might hold if he is not provided with the proper care and treatment he desperately needs immediately.

    I thank you in advance for any help you can provide, I trust you will try your best.

    I thank you for lending a sympathetic ear and warm heart.

    I wish you happy Easter, and i pray that god bless you and yours.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Ziad Tariq Aziz

  20. Ergogan disregards Kerry request to postpone Gaza visit
    April 22, 2013

    (JTA) -- Turkey's prime minister will go ahead with a planned visit next month to Gaza, despite a request from US Secretary of State John Kerry to postpone.

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly refused Kerry's request Sunday to postpone the visit, during a meeting between the two leaders in Istanbul. Erdogan had previously postponed his visit from this month until next, to take place after a scheduled meeting in Washington in mid-May.

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also asked Erdogan to delay the visit during a meeting between the two men in Istanbul, saying it could harm relations between the West Bank and Gaza.

    Erdogan reportedly plans to visit Gaza on or around May 31, the three-year anniversary of the Mavi Marmara incident, in which nine Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli naval commandoes raided the ship attempting to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.

    Israeli negotiators on Monday met in Ankara with Turkish officials to discuss paying compensation to the families of the victims of the 2010 raid.

    The negotiations are part of the process of restoring diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey which were severed following the raid and which began the process of being repaired following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apology last month to Erdogan.