Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Paris Attacks Weren't Caused by a Want of Bombs

It didn't take long for the usual suspects to demand that Justin Trudeau reverse his decision to withdraw Canada's penny packet of CF-18s from the hapless bombing campaign against ISIS.

Linking the two is beyond puerile, it's well into the realm of sophistry. It suggests that the Paris bombings were somehow connected with the bombing campaign underway in Iraq and Syria or perhaps even that our decision to withdraw our minuscule contribution might have had some bearing on it. Now, they argue, we must return and bomb some more.

Okay, this is the stuff of belief-driven politics, the sort of thing we thought we had freed ourselves from by ousting Harper.  Bombing Muslims, civilian and insurgent alike, has achieved precisely what? Oh, sorry, that would be evidence-based thinking. That sort of thing isn't in vogue especially when it comes to Western adventures in the Middle East.

About the only rational argument I can come up with for a bombing campaign is one that strikes at the snake in the only place it really matters - the head. Off with its head.

That would mean finally admitting we have an intractable problem with the leadership of the Sunni states: the generals, sheikhs and princes from Egypt all the way to the farthest reaches of the Persian Gulf.

Go to the catalogue of our grievances. Begin with the embassy bombings and right through to the attack on the USS Cole, the first World Trade Center attack, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; the attack on London, both attacks on Paris; and let's toss in al Qaeda and ISIS for good measure. What do all of those have in common? They're all rooted in Sunni Islam and the worst of them embrace the radical Islamism practiced by the House of Saud, our ally. Sure ISIS beheads captives. So do the Saudis. Sure ISIS tortures victims. The Saudis cherish crucifixion.

Osama bin Laden? He's from a Saudi Sunni family that originated in Sunni Yemen. The 9/11 attackers? They were mainly Saudi with a few Yemeni tossed in. al Qaeda - yeah, Saudi. ISIS, well they're a little more eclectic now that recruiting has become easier but where did they get their start, their financing? Yeah, it was all those sheiks and princes of the Gulf States, our allies.

Notice who is not in on any of this? It's that awful "state sponsor of terrorism" Iran.

But the Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and Qatar and the others were with us in our air war on ISIS, right? Well, not so much. Very quietly, and without a murmur of protest from us, they hightailed it home. Now they're busy bombing Houthi civilians and rebels in Yemen, the same Houthi who are battling ISIS and al Qaeda forces in their homeland. The Saudis are essentially flying air support missions for ISIS in Yemen. And we're okay with that.

Our bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria isn't a SNAFU. No, it's well beyond that. It's a FUBAR - F__ked Up Beyond All Recognition. We're not making a dent against ISIS. We have no idea how to defeat them nor do we have the will even if we had the means. And the people pulling the strings? Well they've gone home where they're safe and sound.

Trudeau's right. This is a mug's game. Too bad there are some self-identified Liberals who don't get that.


chris said...

I'll just leave this here. It says most of what I've been thinking since yesterday.

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks for the link, Chris. This is staring us in the face, year in and year out, and we refuse to see it.

crf said...

I agree with (the other) chris.

An economic straitjacket needs to be put on Saudi Arabia and other gulf states to stop jihadist funding. The West reluctantly put the economic screws to Russia, mostly at Washington's behest, after Crimea. They have much better reasons to do the same to Saudi Arabia. Russia truly isn't blowing up Europeans, or truly threatening to take over its old satellites, no matter what Anders Fogh Rasmussen thinks. Saudi Inspired Jihadis really are blowing up Europeans, and really do want to take over areas to recreate ancient Islamic states.

And there is the galling contrast with Iran. A fatwa on Salman Rushdie is, of course, unacceptable, and worthy of some kind of proportionate sanction. As is Iranian funding of certain terrorist actions. This is not a course I advocate of course, but by the standard of the strict sanctions we have with Iranian behaviour, Saudi Arabia ought to be glass.

the salamander said...

.. thanks Mound .. re-read your essay this AM.. and picked up on the comments thus. The Esquire article certainly expands on your view. On my part i wonder at the shallow fundamentalist reaction from Muskoka's favorite son Toney Clement.. that surely 'young' & not ready Justin must surely pledge to rescind recall of our aged CF 18's from their holy crusade against the infidel muslim mishmash of ISIS. I think 'deary me' Rona espoused the same knee jerk insanity to repeat the error.. and no doubt we'll soon receive a croak from Tom Flanagan, Ken Boessenkool or Stephen Harper - channeled via Stephen Blaney perchance.. or Kellie Leitch.. that we must treat the offending infindels like we treat our suspicious First Nations - after all, they do not donate to or vote 'Conservative' ... and are likely anti pipeline, fracking, tar sand & don't eat fish on Fridays or read the Globe of Mud.. or watch Ezra's religious tv show 'Rebel TV' ... Goodness Gracious, have they not heard of Raif Mair? Or is Raif flying at altitudes the Ezra Flanagan Harper hystericals will never attain.. ie liftoff... and controlled flight?

Right now, we see the first post-Harper prehensile hysterical surfacing of the so called 'Conservative' re-branding efforts. Narrow but extended snouts snuffling snorting probing.near the hallowed House of Commons - aka Canada's Parliament.. In reality its just those hardened Harper era reptiles with dreams of seizing the power n glory of being PM, now that the vaunted eco genius is hanging out under a Calgary bus & cadging rides via Government Challenger while waiting for the rest of the roof to cave in from the weight of Duffy.

Where is the cadavrous Stephen Blaney ? The nancy boy Poilievre ? The scourge of species habitat Peter Kent or the purveyor of fine Canadian asbestos Kellie Leitch ? Or snitch line sniveler Alexander. Seemingly they all became pillars of salt after looking back.. and realizing their 'tone' was not quite right.. and only the little emperor egg in waiting - Jason kenney 'got the big things' right.

Goodness Gracious.. those wanks n cranks are so pimped & pumped full of methane and their wondrous pensions.. and insider info crafted portfolios, they must be hiring unemployed economists & poli sci grads to calculate how much pork they carved off Canada while they had the chance. If The truism truly is 'God helps those who help themselves' .. the Harper remoras, jackalpacks & political parasites certainly followed their multimillionaire leader.. and did so with gusto .. .. ..

Lorne said...

Your post underscores something that is sorely lacking in the world today, Mound, the need to think deeply and critically about issues that bedevil us today. Unfortunately, that kind of thinking requires some hard work, and governments are far too weak or indifferent to do anything but play to the basest impulses of their people. The knee-jerk reactions we see today to the Paris massacre, as cowardly and horrific as it was, are ample testament to the reactive rather than the contemplative parts of our nature.

And, of course, the lessons of history are once again lost, the lessons imparted at high cost of Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., etc. You don't fight what is essentially guerrilla warfare with conventional tactics. It is a mug's game doomed to failure.

Anonymous said...

So... Why Western governments are not focusing on Saudis? "Oil aspect" alone, is not explaining this inactivity. As always, it is worth to ask "Qui bono?"

The Mound of Sound said...

It's helpful to recall how this fiasco began. Three years of food shortages resulting from severe drought. Alawite Assad failed to help the Syrian Sunnis who rose up in rebellion, leading to the formation of the Free Syrian Army that the West endorsed but really didn't support in any meaningful way. Across the line in Iraq the Islamic State rises out of Sunni discontent, defeating the Iraqi army in pitched battles that saw ISIS secure territory, including oil fields, and a load of abandoned weaponry and vehicles.

To prop up the Baghdad government and put a bit of spine back into its army the West got involved bombing ISIS when and as we could locate any suitable targets. Meanwhile Islamist al Nusra shows up in Syria which later appears to throw in with ISIS. Now we're bombing in both countries, putting our demands that Assad step down on hold.

We smooth over the role of the Saudis in creating and supporting the Islamist radicals. No one mentions prince Bandar bin Sultan's outbursts over America's refusal to send ground forces into Syria. We seem to forget Bandar's vow to raise, equip and train an army to fight Assad and his threat, conveyed to the outgoing MI6 chief, Sir Richard Dearlove, that Riyadh and its Sunni allies were going to wipe out the Shiites.

We go ahead and bomb as though none of this Saudi business matters. Thanks to WikiLeaks we have then State Secretary Clinton's messages about Saudi involvement in ISIS.

The Saudis and the Gulf States send a few fighters, drop a few bombs in the sand, and then bugger off back home so they can bomb Shiites in Yemen. Harper, having bagged a $15-billion order for light armoured vehicles for the Saudis, stands mute. Nobody asks what the Saudis have in mind for those fighting vehicles or all the other hardware they're acquiring from the West. That they might actually plan to use them for their intended purpose is never raised.

The Mound of Sound said...

I've said it before - I suspect that we're watching, and taking part in, the opening skirmishes of a Muslim holy war - Sunni versus Shia - just as prince Bandar described to Sir Richard Dearlove. It's why the Saudis and the Gulf States are rearming so furiously - tanks, artillery, F-15s, Rafales and Eurofighter warplanes, the list goes on. It's disproportionate to any threat Iran could present to the Sunni kingdoms. It's telling that these countries are going shopping when world oil prices are in the tank.

I have wondered whether Putin didn't send Russian warplanes to Syria as a warning to the Gulf States that Moscow would not tolerate Sunni adventurism.

As for sanctions, I just don't see how they could be effective against these Sunni states. It might mean having to drive the same Mercedes for a few years but beyond that? If we imposed a moratorium on the sale of Gulf oil wouldn't that undermine Europe, help Iran with higher oil prices and strengthen Putin's leverage over the Euros just when they're so wobbly?

I don't know but I can see us overplaying our hand vis a vis our "allies". Anyone know how close the Saudis are to getting nukes? They have made noise about it.

LeDaro said...

Mound,FUBARR is a good description.
I am trying to use tablet. Having problem.

Anonymous said...

BBC reports
"French planes dropped 20 bombs (on Raqqa). The French defence ministry said several targets were hit, including a command centre, a munitions depot and a training camp for fighters"
How those targets were still there, after 2 year+ bombing campaign by the USA, a superpower country who was able to send people to the moon 46 years ago?

Steve said...

I am going to get my thoughts all together and blog about it, but the elevator pitch is the new James Bond movie is 100% on the money.

Steve said...

I suggest we drop ship every piss and vinegar con on Allepo and let them prove how tough they are, war heros are great for elections.

The Mound of Sound said...

Interesting point, A..non. One possibility is that there could be too many civilians in that town and our side hasn't been willing to accept the collateral damage. It sounds as though Hollande isn't too concerned about civilian losses in Syria at the moment. These strikes may be punitive.

Anonymous said...

Another possibility Mound would be that certain outcome is not that high on priority list...