starfishspider

The vicious attacks by Islamist terrorist in Brussels this week firmly places Brussels, and the rest of western Europe, in the middle of the crescent of chaos that arcs from Tunisia to Sweden.

The arrest of Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam last Friday in Brussels took down one person and unwittingly unleashed a network of other terrorists who took over thirty lives in an orgy of terror and shut down an entire country if not all of Europe.

Belgium authorities touted Abdelslam’s arrest last weekend much the same way the Obama administration telegraphs the latest drone or Special Operations strike in Syria/Iraq/Libya with the ubiquitous headline “Number Two ISIS Commander Eliminated.” There have been so many “number two” ISIS commanders reportedly killed there is no mystery why we never hear of a “number three” in ISIS.

In 2008 Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom wrote a study of leaderless organizations, “The Starfish and the Spider” which was little read until recently. In this study Brafman and Beckstrom look at the fruitless strategy of targeting individuals in decentralized organizations such as ISIS. They do this by comparing a spider and a starfish, which look similar from a distance but up close are fundamentally different systems.

Killing a starfish is significantly different from killing a spider. A spider can be stopped by crushing its head because it is a centralized system.  If one tries to cut off a leg of a starfish not only does that leg grow back, but a new starfish emerges from that severed leg because its decentralized  system.

In combatting a decentralized terror network like ISIS, going after a known individual is like cutting off a starfish leg. The immediate threat is neutralized but the system lives on to metastasize into an even larger threat.

Belgium authorities saw what they thought was a spider in arresting one person only to be confronted with a starfish in the form of an ISIS network which struck with such force because authorities simply were not ready.

The Obama administration would be wise to peer through its policy binoculars and evaluate whether ISIS is the spider they assume it is…or is it a starfish?

 

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redskins

Back in 2014 there was war waged (yet again) against the lowly Washington Redskins football team. It was the summer of 2014 and training camp was in full swing – about a month before the start of preseason. Training camp may be the stupidest time in the NFL season. We don’t have any idea whether the perennial powers of the NFL will continue to dominate, we don’t know which team will accelerate up the winning ladder out of nowhere or which players will break out and be the next League superstar.
What we do know is that during this time those who know very little about football will treat the NFL as a social science experiment. Repeatedly, and true to form, this is the time of year when the mavens of political correctness put pressure on the Redskins organization to change its name.
In 2014 the pressure to change the Redskins’ name became a mantra on every conceivable talk show. Oprah Winfrey chimed in, the subject was all over the inane dribble that comes out of The View, discussed even in the halls of Congress. Every progressive voice pegged the shrill meter, insisting that Redskins’ owner Dan Synder change the name of this storied football club.
Not to be left of out of the excitement several NFL commentators jumped on this creaking bandwagon. Phil Sims of CBS and Tony Dungy of NBC pledged (no doubt on a stack of Huffington Post articles) they would never refer to the Redskins as the Redskins ever again. This left viewers wondering if the team would be referred to as “Washington” or “those guys” or simply “the opposing team on the gridiron.”  Fast forward to January 2016. The Washington (whoever they are) are in the playoffs. They will host the Green Bay Packers next weekend.
NOW WHAT?
Interestingly, everyone on TV is referring to the Redskins as …the Redskins! Even the “has been” personages of Phil Sims and Tony Dungy referred to the Washington team as the Redskins this past weekend in broadcasting their respective games.
What happened? Why the change of heart? Perhaps in 2014 the Redskins provided an opportune target. The Washington Redskins have been bottom dwellers in the NFC East Division for many years and everyone likes to pick on a loser. None of the politically correct chose to deride the Kansas City Chiefs or the Atlanta Braves – they of the offensive tomahawk chop.

If you go further afield, you could even point the shaking finger of righteousness at the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team. Oh no, it’s the Washington Redskins in the sights of the progressive left. Of course, this was only after the progressive left finally figured out what football was.
Redskins paraphernalia has been flying off store shelves as of late – hats and shirts that would have once been on the receiving end of derisive comments reserved for those wearing NRA hats. Now everyone is proudly sporting the Burgundy and Gold emblazed with that dreaded name: The Redskins.

I’m sure the politically correct will stick to their guns, unless of course the Redskins beat the Packers this Sunday. Then all bets are off and all is forgiven. Braves on the warpath and fight for ole DC.

 

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Last night President Obama felt compelled to address the American public, sandwiching his brief remarks between the end of the late NFL games and Sunday Night Football. His sixteen minute address was billed as a major policy statement in the fight against ISIS.

It failed.

He offered no new strategy in the fight against ISIS or the rising tide of terrorism-to include the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino. Instead we heard more of the same tired rhetoric of how the White House has a steady strategy to meet ISIS and they are just a bunch of thugs who pervert the beauty of Islam.

In listening to the President’s address I was reminded of a training course in dealing with alcoholics and their families I took over thirty years ago. It was at that time that the concept of codependency with family members of alcoholics was just beginning to be explored in the treatment of alcoholism.

Codependency is that which allows the alcoholic to make all the rules and actually excuses the behavior of the alcoholic. “If only dinner is ready when he arrives home, he won’t drink. If only the kids would be quiet and dinner is ready he won’t drink. If only I had repaired the furnace instead of paying a repairman and the kids would be quiet and dinner ready when he came home-he wouldn’t drink.”

The innocent blame themselves instead of the one responsible in the first place.

In the past months we have been told by this administration if only we had not invaded Iraq and Afghanistan we would not be facing ISIS. If only we were more culturally aware radical Islamists wouldn’t hate us. If only we would take 10K refugees without question the radical Islamists wouldn’t behead our citizens in the desert of Syria.

Substitute radical Islamist for alcoholic and the codependency is blindingly obvious.

Our President reminded me of this because in his remarks last night he was more intent on shaming the American public for alleged never documented acts of retaliation against American Muslims than confronting the real issue: terrorist acts on our shores.

Pew Research recently cataloged religious based bigoted acts the US. The results: 60% of victims were in the American Jewish community, American Muslims registered just 10%.

Once again when the White House takes aim at an issue it not only misses, but aims at the wrong target.

network

The Nobel Committee announced today this year’s recipients for Physics. They are Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald for research into neutrino oscillations. What is a neutrino? Neutrinos are subatomic particles produced by the decay of radioactive elements.  They are elementary particles that lack an electric charge, or, as F. Reines would say, “…the most tiny quantity of reality ever imagined by a human being”. Living in Washington, I can imagine a tiny amount of reality.

Looking at the definition of the neutrino phenomenon and applying it elsewhere, could there a better description of our current foreign policy blunder in Syria?

It was revealed today that the US considered handing over locations of US backed rebels to the Russians last week, thinking these areas might be targeted by Russian forces decided against it. Fortunately the White House and Pentagon ran that idea past the desk of Capt. Obvious who thought it better not to give the Russians targeting data for their first bombing runs.

The “most tiny quantity of reality ever imagined”  is what we are stuck with for the next seventeen (17) months with regard to this White House’s timid and indecisive policy regarding Syria and foreign policy.

The nascent US assistance program for the rebels battling the Assad regime is literally going up in smoke with every Russian sortie and the White House has shown no desire to counter these attacks except to “raise concerns about the targets of the attacks.” I’m sure that made the Russians reconsider.

Neutrinos are described as “hardly interacting with the rest of creation.”  This certainly describes this administration’s current foreign policy debacle in Syria-stumbling along outside the realm of reality interacting with no one else within an echo chamber.

Not to worry though, the President already received his Nobel Prize back in 2009.

Check and Checkmate in Syria

Posted: October 1, 2015 in Iran, Russia, Syria
Tags: , , ,

 

Our Daily Challenge: Checkered I too went with the obvious choice.

 

Today it was reported that Russian aircraft targeted sites outside of Homs which contained no ISIS elements but rather CIA funded rebels fighting the Assad regime.

Shocking.

Any hope that Russia is in Syria to take on ISIS is held only by the White House and its supporters. Vladimir Putin has no track record of being on “the right side of history” (as the White House has a proclivity to say).  To believe Russia would be an honest broker and a credible actor is nothing short of naive.

What is shocking is how bewildered this White House is in its reaction to Putin’s successful gambit of aiding President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the eleventh hour. From Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s remarks of “this is like pouring gasoline onto the fire” to John Kerry’s joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov following the announcement of Russia’s unilateral military action — this administration’s actions defy logic or explanation.

The Kremlin, in cooperation with Iran, has made an obvious promise to the Assad regime.  The Russians and the Iranians have promised to see the Assad regime through the present crisis. Russian airpower is the first strike in this promise. It has been reported in the UK press that Iranian and Hizbollah forces have entered the northwest area of Syria (targeted by Russian aircraft) in preparation for a ground attack on Syrian rebel forces holding that territory.

Inaction by the US has now brought on a wider conflict, leading to the real possibility of greater lethal complexity in Syria.  The White House has been checkmated but the true losers in this fiasco are the Syrian people themselves.

Hammer

Yesterday at the United Nations Russian President Vladimir Putin had his coming out party.

Putin came out of the isolation that the West had imposed since Russia invaded Ukraine and seized Crimea last year along with a land grab of Eastern Ukraine. Putin not only came out on the world stage yesterday, he seized it as he portrayed himself as the one power that would stop the radical jihadists of ISIS.

It was a dark day for democracy and the rule of law in the international arena.

Obama made a case for not including the present Syrian government and its treacherous leader, Bashar al-Assad, in a long term plan for putting Syria back together.  Unfortunately, President Obama didn’t show the will or the vision as to carrying out a plan to remove Assad or what would follow Assad once he was departed. In fact, The US President gave very little indication he wanted to be involved in such an action.

It appears that the White House is perfectly happy with Russia’s rapid and robust military buildup within Syria and is all too willing to cede future influence to Russia and their new partner Iran.  Additionally, Russia announced yesterday (just prior to Putin’s UN speech) that Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq just concluded an agreement for intelligence sharing in the fight against ISIS.

The Obama administration is always fond of saying his administration is “on the right side of history.” This is a meaningless phrase — it points to the past rather than the future. It turns out that being on the right side of history is no match for being on the capable side of action.

Russia gladly flung open the door of US Middle East policy, the one the Obama administration left ajar.  Putin has successfully pulled the US out of any strategic position in that part of the world.

We now have new prominent actors on the stage, in the form of Moscow and Teheran, thanks to the systematic breakdown of US policy in the Middle East over the past seven years. This breakdown of policy and action has inexplicably allowed Moscow to gain the moral high ground, and has allowed Iran to govern a Shi’a arc of influence from The Persian Gulf to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

border

Just when The European Union thought it had escaped into the post-modern mist of tomorrow, when it had left behind national currencies, age old animosities and borders between nations, current events have dragged the EU back to reality.  Germany re-instituted its border crossing with Austria as the stream of Middle Eastern refugees swells to record numbers.

The tide of political refugees and economic migrants have caused Berlin to rethink its open arms policy, announced just days ago, as the number of refugees have swelled following Angela Merkel’s announcement that Germany is prepared to take in even more refugees seeking asylum.

The re-institution of borders between Germany and Austria has thrown the EU into an unwanted reminiscence of the time prior to the 1985 Schengen agreement which began the era of visa free travel in Europe. This, coupled with the dissolution of the Warsaw pact in 1989, erased border crossings between European countries that long served as legend from armed invasions in two World Wars to plot points in late twentieth century spy thrillers.

The EU, in its typical self congratulatory fashion, often pointed to this visa free and borderless travel as the model for other regions in the world to imitate, a post-modern model of super state formation.

The best laid plans……..

Now to gain a modest handle on this overwhelming refugee crisis, Germany has brought back the border with Austria.  There is no telling how long this once familiar red and white crossing gate will remain in place but one can be sure it will not remain the only re-established border as other European capitals struggle to cope with the tide of people seeking entry into Europe.

Checkpoint Charlie, the once famous crossing between East and West Berlin, has been relegated to a museum dedicated to the cold war.  This new “Checkpoint Angela” however is up and running for the foreseeable future as Germany reexamines its ability to be that center of gravity of the refugee tide moving into Europe.