Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bombing and Boots-on-the-Ground are Not the Antidote to World-Wide Terrorism!
HUMINT/Psychological Warfare are far more Appropriate
The recent tragic terrorist attacks in Paris showed once again that those Belgian/French citizens involved in the different raids were, as I had predicted from Algeria, Morocco and other parts of North Africa. What is confusing the picture is the fact that they grew up in France, Belgium or some other part of Europe. Also, the fact that they may or may not have trained in Syria is certainly relevant but not really essential to the defeat of ISIS or some 100 other known terrorist groups fighting in Syria.

One thing that I have learned from my thirty years in counter-terrorism is that nothing surpasses the effectiveness of acquiring Human Intelligence [HUMINT] on the ground, be it in France, Belgium, Syria or wherever potential terrorists might reside. Most terrorist groups have a distinct signature of operations. They may have arisen de novo; or, they may have been trained in certain locations which have been monitored for some time –like the Taliban in Afghanistan; Al Qaeda in Iraq; ISIS in Syria.
For the most part, our collective capability to monitor signal/electronic [SIGINT/ELINT] communications from around the world, have been quite impressive.We, Americans, have been able to penetrate most of the internet chatter occurring worldwide on a 24/7 basis. What we are sorely deficient in is having developed a cadre of intelligence operatives who can and will penetrate different terrorist groups in Syria or wherever they may arise. It’s a major problem that we have had in the Intelligence Community for several decades as the internet arose in a burst of glittering innovation.
HUMINT is a tedious, boring, time-consuming statecraft that does not really reward the particular operatives who have dedicated their lives to it. It’s not a statecraft that is sexy anymore. Granted, HUMINT has been portrayed in the past by flippant novelists like myself, Tom Clancy, Brian Geller [Mission Impossible] or others; as something that a  Jack Ryan or a Bourne would utilize in order to eventually resolve the particular crises with his gun or with his physical prowess. That’s called fiction, dear readers.

We, ordinary citizens, rarely appreciate the fact that some of the best intelligence operatives were simply those people [women, men, children] who could penetrate a culture; subsume his/her identity; and then assume the statecraft technique of gathering mundane intelligence [which is not usually hidden in a triple-sealed vault]. In the past, many of our actors have acted as quite effective spies doing very ordinary jobs in distant places. For example, Julia Child was an operative in China helping to train the Viet Minh anti-Japanese fighters. David Niven was a brilliant German linguist and military operative who could penetrate enemy intelligence and then be able to predict what the Nazi Luftwaffe would do.

Again, HUMINT, requires different types of people who are able to speak a particular foreign language; understand the culture of those people with whom we want to monitor; and then be able to manipulate or anticipate their subsequent behavior. During the Iraq War, the US Marines hired a group of women anthropologists who went into the various areas of conflict and as a result of their ability to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of those Muslim women, acts of terrorism and fighting went down over 90%. It’s not rocket science. Yet, HUMINT is a very particular kind of skill where psychology, anthropology, and nation-state behavior converge into one discipline.
I received my first taste of this statecraft at the Political Science Department at M.I.T during the early 1970’s. I was trained by sophisticated Professors who had been taught by the OSS; and then the CIA. Unlike any program at Harvard or anywhere else, the discipline of strategic thinking alongside of ‘out-of-the box’ conceptualization was highly encouraged.

The teachers in MIT department were literally intellectual giants:
Harold Lasswell[ Politics and Personality]
Lucian Pye [Mao And The Cultural Revolution] 
Ithiel de Sola Poole [ The Internet, Social Media and Their Political Consquences]. 
Prof. Kaufmann [Strategic/Tactical Nuclear Wars].
The aforementioned department/program was funded by the CIA/DARPA. Unfortunately, the political science dept. at MIT is now engaged in heuristic concepts based on big data and simplistic notions of human/nation-state behavior. Clearly, programs change. Different times demand different ways of thinking. However, as far as I am concerned, human behavior and nation-state behavior has not and will not change. More importantly, the terrorism problem of today is the same one we had twenty and thirty years ago—and for centuries.
We, Americans, should remember that the American Revolution started with a terrorist act: the Boston Tea Party’s defiance of British Law, throwing tea into the Charles River. Those of us who were involved in the Lebanese Civil War during the 1970’s-80’s know that ISIS is no different from the various Sunni Palestinian groups [PLO, PLFP, PLA] who were fighting each other; as well as, the Christian Phalangists in Beirut proper. The quicker we use effective HUMINT penetration of the various fighting groups in Syria [ISIS], the sooner we can resolve that tragedy.

More bombings will do nothing; except make us, na├»ve observers, feel that something bold and destructive has been done. Unfortunately, aerial bombardment has never been shown to be effective-- either during WWII, the Vietnam War, or now. Let’s go back to basics of human behavior: who, what, where, when and why. At least let’s give psychological warfare a chance! Terrorist groups have never been destroyed using outside forces. Most of them have been eviscerated from within.
Plus ca change; moins ca change!
The more that things change; the less they really change.


  1. Working with people to develop those instincts and skills would be a herculean task. I would look at it like trying to find a good NFL quarterback. 350 million people in the US and how many really good quarterbacks exist that are active?

    No saying that these skills should be developed or built upon but people in the US for the most part are so ignorant and anti intellect that these people would be hard to find.

    Countries like Russia and China can easily pick them out. They would fit in well in western multi cultural Western nationss but you would need indigenous people working the trade craft in most of the world. A difficult task to accomplish. Extremely difficult but not impossible.

    1. To get in to american culture is very simple, you bring suitcase of money and you are american. Even better if you are of mongolic racial stock from China, because those today are best real americans, and to not know english at all is also plus. You are then super american.
      Americans knows who are today those super americans who are only real americans (able to be buyers of 75% of their houses over 0,5 M $).

    2. As you might know I also was in a graduate defense/national security studies program at MIT, in the 1980s, and I don't agree that it was a useful program for my government career....

      Professor Pye I liked personally but he misunderstood politics in Vietnam and elsewhere. His terrible misunderstanding of the causes of the conflict in southeast Asia was just terrible. He along with my case officer, CIA agent Walt Rostow, held these untrue assumptions that the Viet Cong were forcing the south into communism and that the people of South Vietnam rejected communism... This was utterly false and was the false justification for US intervention... Lucian Pye was a US government hack..period.

      As for William Kaufmann I tried to work with him several times and I grew to understand why he had such rancorous relations with so many important people. He was a small, ugly little man with a high pitched voice who was a historian by training and somehow jockeyed his way into nuclear strategy in the early years of the Kennedy Administration and then fashioned himself as a "defense intellectual." In fact he was a horrible man who portrayed himself to the world as a dove and a force against the insanity of Thomas Powers and Curt LeMay, but he was so full of personal demons and weirdness that he was actually of no use to anyone and eventually contracted alzheimers and became insane.

      My experience with Professors at MIT didn't teach me a damn thing about intelligence or statecraft or anything. It was totally useless to me.

      Now I thought Harvey Sapolsky was on target with his focus on bureaucratic politics. And Jack Ruina and George Rathjens were good on technical issues, but they were not political minds. Steve Miller was my advisor and I didn't get along with him at all. He was a frightfully introverted and insecure man.

      Overall I looked to get away from that dreary place as often as I could and actually almost became an alcoholic because of the nights I spent in the bars of the back bay seeking to forget about the meaningless of that crowd of introverted weirdos at MIT.

      And don't get me started on William Griffiths.

    3. And Dr.P you repeatedly use the word "statecraft" when I think you mean to say "tradecraft."

    4. And now for your opinions about HUMINT....

      ISIS doesn't effect the US but the US should have destroyed it when it emerged, and could have done so at a low cost. The reason why the US didn't is because the US military and CIA didn't want the mission and because unless they lobby for the mission Obama will not push them to do it....

      So that's why they are still there.

      Now what to do about them...

      HUMINT is important of course but will only provide a picture for you. It won't change anything by itself. HUMINT in this situ is for understanding the configuration of the enemy so you can destroy it....but you need other tools to accomplish that destruction.

      ISIS is an apocolypic end times movement which believes that it will form a calaphate which will be assaulted by infadiles and ISIS will defeat them....

      The reason why ISIS struck in Paris is because they are realing backwards under coalition assaults. ISIS ideology is being threatened and they risk losing credibility with their recruits and members if the infidels are seen to be winning....

      One way of dealing a death blow to them is to attack them straight on..full on..with carpet bombing using B-1s and even B-52s....and using special forces and even general purpose forces to draw them out into one or more battles and then destroy them.

      When they are destroyed their apocolyptic bullshit narrative will be seen to have been garbage to the misfits who have adopted it, from wherever they have come. All these misfit followers will reconsider their beliefs when everything they were told about how ISIS will defeat the infidels in pitched set piece battles in the califate are shown to be the opposite of reality.

    5. Okay so if MIT was useless to me for my government work then where did I learn what I know...

      Well it was from my government work, and seeing first hand how things actually operate, or don't operate. I learned that Covert Action rarely succeeds and it's easy to lie to a CIA case officer and give him false information. I learned that HUMINT is very tricky and if you are facing a motivated opponent like the Cubans they can trick you and run circles around you because CIA case officers are not that smart.

      I learned that intelligence gathering is extremely difficult and usually unreliable. I learned that typical CIA officers are not up to the job because they were recruited for the wrong reasons. Mostly they are not well read enough and don't understand the histories or the peoples they are dealing with.

      I worked in Iraq and not one CIA officer I dealt with understood the prior history of the CIA in previously supporting the Ba'ath party, or how it was formed in the 1930s with the "Golden Square" Iraqi officers who were influenced by National Socialists from Germany, or the nature of the Ba'ath ideology or anything of the kind.

      I learned that CIA officers are largely ignorant, don't bother to learn the depth of issues, never really understand the motives of the peoples they are dealing with, and never consider the consequences of the actions they lobby for.

      I learned that CIA officers have strong opinons and beliefs based on misunderstandings and misperceptions and that they form agendas which they seek to carry out and lobby for.

      Don't believe that CIA are just soldiers who carry out orders from the President. CIA officers have their own strong opinions and form agendas and use every method they can think of to reach their goals. They just are not intelligent or wise enough to be doing this. Their ideas are unsound.

    6. My generation of Case Officers brought about the mess in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      Today these guys are all retired and they have excuses as to why if things had been done "their way" that everything would have turned out okay.


      Even if they had done things a little differently here or there it still would have all failed.

      The basic problem is that you can't invade these countries and set up governments and expect things to go smoothly.

      There are reasons why Afghanistan and Iraq were in the conditions we found them in and those conditions never changed.

      The whole basic concept was flawed from the beginning because these CIA officers didn't understand the basics.

      Just as they didn't understand in Vietnam that ninety percent of the Vietnamese, the landless peasants, wanted desperately to live in a united communist Vietnam.

      No communist forced anything on these peasants.

      It's what they wanted.

    7. Vietnam failed for the same reason Iraq and Afghanistan failed.

      No American installed government in Saigon could last given that it was defended by soldiers who came from villages where ninety percent of the villagers were loyal communists.

      No installed American government in Saigon was viable, and the only people these governments could find to go out and kill communists in the villages were criminals from the country's jails.... Doesn't that indicate something about the wishes of the people?

      Same in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The people don't want what we want and that will never change.

      To support his mission a CIA Officer will not accept this because it threatens his mission...

      And so there it is.



    8. One window into a Case Officer's mentality can be found by listening to St.John Hunt's interviews on Youtube about his father, E. Howard Hunt.

      Forget about his claims regarding the Kennedy assassination. That's very doubtful.

      Just listen to St. John describe what kind of man his father was and how he treated his children and so forth.

      That's very true. That much is on target.

      My father was a low functioning CIA agent who was captured in Korea when his mission was compromised, and later worked in Guatamala in Operation Success and with Edward Wilson in Houston and other people in California and Texas.

      My father was very dishonest to everyone around him, and to him there was no one who was worthy of his loyalty or trust. My father knew and worked with Woody Harrelson's dad, Charlse Harrelson the "hitman" of south Texas, and he too abandoned Woody and his mother and so forth.

      These are not good people. They are prone to betrayl and disloyalty and it's the reason why Counter Intelligence is the heart of all Intelligence work....

      Because the kind of people you are dealing with are prone to disloyalty and narcissim on a Grand Scale!

    9. Edwin Wilson, not Edward Wilson, RIP

    10. It is impossible to win war if you are invading culture where ideology of economic pillage and stratification is done differently then economical ideology of invader...
      I mean it is possible, but then costs of invasion are overtaking income, meaning profit is negative...
      In Afghanistan Americans should become one of tribes there renting out caterpillar products in coordination with local mufti...
      In Iraq they would have to invest in to archeology to admire need Babylonian knowledge for local masonic lodges...
      also some brown shirt youth brigades could be created...
      but because that is impossible in liberal capitalism, expect to loose money...

      All territories acquired by colonisation after 1815 (meaning in time of capitalism), are lost for ever, capitalism is pagan abnormality inside body of western civilisation...

  2. America is strange country, it is real progressive country and economy on world. USA is first country which understood that there are no invisible forces called market forces, markets are 100% artificial and are constructed by people, therefor they are not natural, animals are natural, and animals do not behave under law of markets... People do create markets... Ever market is manipulated, if you do not know how and why, that does not mean that there is invisible force behind, which is above people. When you control resources you control markets.

    1. Of course, you must know mechanisms. That is like saying that cancer is natural and that you cannot do anything there. All people from are sick and deformed people, there is not even one normal skull and proportional face among them, look at them, this is halloween.
      even that second one from left if you click on him you would see that he is monster, on this pic he could pass as normal, but even that one is monster...

      We communists failed ONLY because we did not create what WE wanted, and that is classless society...

      Mostly because we touched land and farming by introducing state capitalism there and not allowing reformed democratic feudalism there which is must more evolved concept then state capitalism.
      Cities even in USSR were better then today are in capitalism.
      On other hand agriculture is where we are dominant today, in worker owned coops in agriculture even capitalists are unable to destroy us.

  3. This slaughter was done by french right wing capitalists wanting to get united with russian right wing capitalists... Yes that was it...
    And americans will be blamed, great...

    1. Plus uniting them self with german capitalists... that is it...
      same is trying to happen in Croatia... but in politics...
      never ever trust any capitalist, USA
      we can kill them all in whole Europe... but you do not want that...