19 July 2007

Internetworking and the role it plays

One of the things that has been most difficult to describe is the critical importance of person-to-person networking in the coalescing networks between Transnational Terrorism, International Organized Crime and flow of goods in the black/grey market to support these things. In the good old days of police detective dramas we would see people in rooms full of 3x5 notecards and pieces of string all over the place to map out such networks. Indeed, more than one crime drama would focus on this and someone just looking at the network of who knew who and what happened until it all made sense. Unfortunately very few people can *think* like that and trying to describe what the large-scale internetworking means is very, very difficult.

Today, however, the computer has replaced the notecard and string arrangement, and one of the key elements of police work to bring down gangs, identify gang leaders and how their territory changes is via this method of network analysis. To find Saddam Hussein after his fall from power, he depended upon a close and interwoven set of individuals to provide him with safe houses, transportation, food, supplies and communications. He had hoped to evade capture to a secure location so as to re-emerge from safety at a point that could not be assailed by the Coalition Forces. For him to sustain himself, however, others would find out about the location of his confidantes and that would tie them to him.

When the 'Hunt for Saddam' started, it was a slow going thing as only a few members of the US Armed Forces had the necessary police investigation experience to do the tracking. I will say that from my time in Advanced R&D at one of the INTEL Agencies, that this sort of ability in the US INTEL Community was lacking or missing, completely. A few of us inside the department realized that these critical tools had to be employed to give a good rendition of INTEL across the board, so as to finally start to derive more reliable INTEL based reporting. One of the critical tools was one used by many police departments, but the department looked at many, many other tools, also. Those in Iraq, however, had to make sense of disparate INTEL reports from different groups, with different standards of reliability and to start piecing together just who was or was not in Saddam's 'inner circle'. Who did he trust and why?

For some weeks the notecards and string re-appeared and the experience of just organizing that data started to yield the outlay of that 'inner circle' and their outward bound contacts. Saddam was *not* moving via pre-emplaced government officials and safe-houses, but through a highly personal trust network of reliable individuals. Many of those would end up dead and their body trail was one indicator of his direction of thought and outlook. Reports from those in the second and third circles out would show up with more individuals interrogated and they would point to a region, Tikrit, which would go 'blank' in the notecard arrangement. Even troops on the ground could not get reports from anyone of where Saddam was.

For that narrowing down took place with Military Intelligence moving in, purchasing the police department network software, organizing data & collection standards, and, finally, entering all of the data into a few databases. That, in and of itself, took a couple of weeks (if memory serves) but it was able to remove vast areas where Saddam was *not* and start to tighten the literal circle of reports to show where he *was*. That blank area of reports was due to the brutality of his inner circle to enforce cooperation and obedience. Some of the capture of the 'Playing Cards', members of the higher circles of Saddam's regime, happened as they showed up in the analysis, too. That native, high-level, Ba'athist network got picked apart, but only to a level or so deeper than the High Value Targets. Much of the low-level networking was left in-place by oversight, not design, as it would clutter the search for the HVTs.

Those around Saddam noticed this: more Coalition forces near-by, more roadblocks, more house to house searches, and more members either fleeing or being taken in. Or killed by Saddam's cronies. Finally it was a relatively low-level but highly trusted individual that tipped off the Coalition and got the reward for 'finding Saddam': Saddam's chauffeur. One of the most highly trusted individuals is the one who has to fake his way past check-points, get supplies and ferry goods to and from Saddam. He knew that *his* time was nearly up with Saddam and the question of dying by Saddam's order (and most likely his family getting fallout from that) or turning him in so that he and his family could escape was too stark. He 'walked in', identified himself and within minutes of that he was identified in the network, his position realized, and in one hour a raid staged to get Saddam.

It got Saddam.

These tools and databases of contacts and internetworking served as the basis for much later INTEL work in Iraq and the Military Intelligence folks who, at the beginning of the conflict, were in a pre-automated era of receive reports, digest for a few hours and spit out a report a day or two later had to change their own cycle of analysis and reporting to what was seen on-the-ground in real time. That major change of personal affiliation network analysis has become a vital tool in moving down the command structures of various parts of the 'insurgency'. The 'insurgency' in Iraq, from the way it is described, falls into four highly affiliated internetworks. Individuals and their immediate friendship circles serve as the basis for allowing goods and information to pass from one network to another for joint operations, supplies and some loose deconfliction of events.

As a description and meta-analysis, these fall into the following categories:

1) Ba'athist redentist networks - These are the low level Ba'athists who had some basis for localized power at the time of the fall of Saddam. These low level networks started to re-knit themselves as the HVTs moved down the organizational ladder to attempt to re-network the regime in a new power basis. While many of the critical border operations along Syria and Jordan were re-established, it was the deeper networks into families that was starting to be pulled into this. The timely removal of the HVTs ended that, but caused a lateral spread of the Ba'athist insurgency.

2) Sunni Radicals - These groups utilized the pre-existing Ansar al-Sunnah [correction to Ansar al-Islam as the group at that point in time, with the influence of Zarqawi the name would change, along with operational basis - my thanks to Rusty on that!] bases to move their affiliations outwards, once the regime fell. They could no longer concentrate 'just' on the Kurds as that was a Saddamist goal and, really, had gotten them nowhere. With Ansar being part of the distributed al Qaeda heierarchy, it served to allow individuals to spread into Sunni Arab Iraq and then into the mixed Sunni/Shia areas. This would take a year to do, which is the noted 'breathing time' between the fall of Saddam in MAR-APR 2003 and a year later. These utilized inflows of money from Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda and more distributed elements in Jordan and Turkey to gain a foothold. al Qaeda, in particular, brought in individuals via Saudi Arabia to begin entrenching themselves in places like Anbar province.

3) Shia Radicals - These groups, most notably the Iranian supported and controlled Badr Brigades, plus the radical cleric Moqtada al Sadr, and a number of Shia Imams and affiliates spreading from the SE border and into Baghdad would be one of the first to stand up a new organization. The Badr Brigades would attempt to shift to temporary support of the Coalition to remove the Ba'athist regime and install a radical Shia outlook. Moqtada al Sadr would organized more wide-spread militias in the mode of Hezbollah, and begin to cycle individuals to Iran for training while attempting to build his own military support base in Baghdad to Basra corridor. The final part to be stood up was the political SCIRI organization, to arm-wrestle the consitution and the first National elections to its outlook, with support of Iran and having a basic anti-Ba'athist and hostile Sunni attitude. This set of organizations continue to utilize supply lines, training and equipment supplied from Iran and Syria, and reached out to the Sunni organizations and Organized crime to facilitate the Syrian inflow of arms and equipment.

4) Organized crime - This is, perhaps, the most overlooked part of how the various operations in Iraq sustain themselves. The original organized crime links to Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia had started at a very low level, as Saddam's regime was more of a Mafia Don that brooked no competition than that of a Nation State. The Kurds, first to get out from his rule after the first Gulf War, had the most effective smuggling operations into Iraq: that first flood of used cars came not from overseas, but from Kurds smuggling in hundreds if not thousands of cheap used vehicles via Turkey, and a few from Syria. The effect of *that* was sudden appearance of cars on the road and the pointing out that there was limited oil refining capacity in Iraq to meet this need. The flood of televisions, radios, computers, refrigerators, stoves... these started with some commercial interests, yes, but those with ready money were in organized crime and their contacts suddenly made 'consumer goods' a high mark-up, hot selling item. The very same black/grey market goods channels to get in arms, munitions, explosives and people during Saddam's reign blossomed to become truckloads of white market goods flowing into Iraq to meet consumer demand. What happened is well known: demand outstripped supply of the ancient electrical system that dates back to the 1960s and '70s with mostly Soviet and some French and German equipment. This would also allow, however, for the influx of large amounts of arms on the cheap form weapon's suppliers like Syria's Monzer al-Kassar who would utilize his Eastern European contacts, along with ones in Turkey and Latin America to spread influence into Iraq. Which is why he was one of the first to go on the Iraqi 'Most Wanted' list after the government finally stood up last year.

What is amazing to hear, throughout that period, was the 'deficiencies of the post-war occupation' from many, many groups and individuals. Apparently the concept of 'set-expectations' trying to meet expanded need had never been brought to their minds and so the recriminations about supply of electricity, gasoline and all of that is blamed on the 'occupation' until some Interim body could be set up to slowly get some handle on all of this. I, personally, had a major problem with those folks as they had spent ZERO time to think about infrastructure maintenance, original design capacity, degraded actual capacity, pent-up consumer demand and such simple things as the Coalition Forces not having the necessary depth of police anti-gang experience to try and track down the networks listed above.

No one has ever addressed *which* grand and magnificent 'plan' by any part of the US Government or any of its Coalition partners had forecasted the two-year sea change in insurgencies, consumer demand, infrastructure analysis or even something so simple as finding reliable individuals who could govern. The four listed networks are not 'separate networks' but ones that can and do inter-cooperate on a local basis, although there is some higher-level antagonism between them. The Ba'athist network had to be the first to go as it was the hardest hit and the most dangerous, from a military perspective: it had the generals, commanders, trainers and everyone needed to restart the regime elsewhere. The paucity of tools to analyze it meant that a broad-based search operation had to be used and the other three network types could not be addressed until they started to show up by activities... terrorist activities. By that point in time it was too late as they had already used the criminal networks to expand their affilitation basis until they were rubbing against each other throughout Iraq.

The expectations of dictatorial regimes fighting it out 'to the bitter end' and either dying on the battlefield or surrendering did not play out in Iraq. Worries of that were ones of a highly influential dictator able to gain approval in the population to support such a fight and then, after the fall of the government, to install a temporary interim government from those that had fled overseas and trustworthy individuals found on the ground during the fighting. The insurgency from that would be entrenched, deeply sustained and have multiple fall-backs inside their own networks. This expectation did not show up and, instead of months of hard fighting, the regime fell in *weeks* and then evaporated.

Another expectation that has trouble materializing is that of how to shift from a State owned and run economy to that or private capitalism. Here the need to plan for shifting individuals in charge of things like electrical production and distribution and utilizing organs of government spun off from the government also did not happen. The government went fully out of existing and only low level technical people were around to keep things running. How does one shift from State to private control when there is: 1) No State, and, 2) no organized private capital ventures to shift control *to*? This is not only for electricity (which goes unmetered in Iraq!) water, sewage processing and such basic infrastructure, all the way down into the moribund agricultural sector, food processing and distribution.

It is a pure fantasy to think that there *could* be a shift of all of that to more localized control in the very best of circumstances. We have that learning experience from the Ex-Eastern Bloc Nations under the USSR to see the differences between glacially slow transfer, as in Russia, to 'Cold Turkey' like in Poland. In between there are a number of different options that are tried and some, like the Russian, are clearly failing. Those are in Nations with intact governments, intact control and distribution systems, backwards economies and no capitalism worth its name when they started. The very best of them, Poland, took 5 years or so to shift out from Soviet concepts of how to run things and get to a stable and slowly increasing economy. That is in the heart of Europe which was stable and peaceful. In Iraq? Getting factories open is only starting within the last 6 months and employment is now increasing and unemployment finally falling. Even without a counter-insurgency operation, which has *always* been seen as necessary, getting Iraq up and on its feet in anything less than Poland, that had advanced help nearby and ready investors lined up, was asinine, in the extreme.

What is even worse is the lack of recognition by the Political Elite and those who try to foist strange ideas of how the world works upon the public, is that the basis for what sort of government one can *get* in the Middle East has changed since 1945! Yes, strange as it may seem the all-mighty Nation State run by Nationalists is no longer the ONLY paradigm in the Middle East. Iran and Afghanistan have demonstrated two other methods of ruling that have very little to do with Nationalism and everything to do with pan-Islamism. Even worse is that the 'Palestinian Territories' have been unable to even FORM a Nation State since 1948, with the best being achieved is the insurgent-terrorist based kleptocracy that has impoverished the people there by feeding them pipe-dreams that cannot happen. Yes, there are some Arab areas that cannot *form* a Nation State even under a good, old-fashioned dictator.... which would be a step *up* for the folks in Palestine.

Somehow those purporting that the post-war policies failed have also failed to address their unreasonable expectations of a post-war situation that was highly unknown and impossible to plan for beyond the most general of outlines and even *those* would end up being scrapped as time went on. By putting down no *goals* that were understood the critics have NO BASIS in their carping. I have previously addressed some of the truly insane concepts of having a 'huge force on the ground' which, if you would notice, would not address the highly person-to-person networks that were developing in any way, shape or form. One could not even get the Shinsekian 500,000 troops without stripping out EUCOM and PACOM, and throwing in the reserves and then you have them for a year. Raw troops, untrained for Iraq, unused to the conditions and having to deal with a highly strange situation that would not make sense to them... and just as the drawdown would begin the actual insurgency would BEGIN. I can hear the screaming of the naysayers in that alternate universe because I can hear their unrealistic outlooks in this one.

Those individuals expecting that Iran and Syria would 'be amenable to diplomacy' forget that the two of them have been most un-amenable to it in Lebanon. The establishment of their proxy in the form of Hezbollah goes unaddressed by the West and those pushing for 'diplomacy' everywhere. If 'diplomacy' had worked, Lebanon would be at peace with no outside influence from Iran or Syria, now, wouldn't it? That hasn't happened. Generating the power vacuum of a fallen dictator invited these two Nations, plus al Qaeda and a scattering of other groups to try their hand in the Middle East power-by-terrorism concept that has worked so famously in Palestine. The Iraq Survey Group's recommendations sounds like something out of the 1950's with North Korea, and look how well THAT worked out.

I am surprised that anyone gives any credence to 'Realism' in Foreign Policy based upon the good wishes of dictators and tyrants. As a concept 'Realism' has not only grossly failed the West and the US, but it has put us in deadly danger by support it gives to radical elements, despots, thieves and dictators in the form of unaccountable foreign policy pay-offs and systems which give them EQUAL VOICE to democracies. In case you missed it, the folks who *caused* Iraq via 'Realism' in Foreign Policy have names like Baker, Scowcroft, Kissinger, Brzezinski and Clinton. These folks stood up an international era in which dictators would NOT be held to account for anything, in which power brokering with thugs would be utilized, and in which actual anti-democratic Nations would be welcomed into the fold to spread their ideals of totalitarian rule and 'gain legitimacy'. The fallout of that decades of being 'realistic' is now criticism based on wanting to, now, CONTINUE supporting tyrants, despots, kleptocracies, thugs and terrorists *against* forming up accountable Nations to confront them.

Isn't THAT a lovely thing to come from 'The Land of the Free'? Support of the most anti-democratic, anti-liberal elements on the face of the Earth because they stand up to the United States and Western ideals. And why do they support them?

First it is 'unrealistic' NOT to! Yes, call a conference of all the thugs, dictators and radial islamists surrounding Iraq... to do what? Really, what works with that scenario that ends up with MORE people leading freer lives with liberty to benefit by the bounty of their own work? Because I just don't see it.

Second they see the cost of support as unsustainable to the US! I really do forget how many of the next largest economies on this planet summed up equals that of the US. It used to be just #2 and 3 combined and I doubt its that anymore. So it isn't the actual, monetary nor capital expenditure costs, which would be the equivalent of refitting a moderately large State in the US that fell into disrepair and asking the folks there to take up the majority of the repair job once we've shown them how to do it. Like NOLA, save that sucker is sinking... so we put billions into a sinking city.

No, the lovely folks who put up a resistance on COST talk about the cost in lives and injuries to the Armed Forces.

The volunteer armed forces.

That they will not SUPPORT in their mission. Who fight and die because they have VOLUNTEERED to do so for the sorry asses of those carping on the losses sustained. And we are not asking them to go into Iwo Jima, Saipan or onto the beaches of Normandy, but to this Nation called Iraq. You remember that? Dictator over it for 30 years? A couple of decades of one-party or dictatorial or military rule before that? A province of the Ottoman Empire for centuries? Hello? You do *remember* that place, right? The one that has NEVER tasted Liberty and Freedom before, ever? No living memory of it. Some of the memories are carved in stone about dictators and Empires, but a freely elected government to represent the People of Iraq?

Apparently there are still Americans that will VOLUNTEER for helping a People who have never experienced Liberty, Freedom and Democracy before to try it out. And it could FAIL. And leave the West with an even larger problem in that doing.

It is very hard to hear those wanting failure - wanting to flee for handfuls of lives lost out of millions to achieve liberty for a downtrodden people in a far-off land.

To hear from Americans who no longer believe in the universality of all people being created equal.

To have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without tyrannical, despotic or autocratic government taking such from them.

Holding onto this concept has a cost, a deep cost to it, which was spoken about before, during and after the American Revolution so we would NEVER EVER forget it.

You may mouth the words, but if you no longer adhere to them, then you turn away from those things it gives us. You flee from death and destruction and seek the oblivion of tyranny by letting those seeking power over mankind get any rest, any surcease and any opportunity to grow and end that dream... that very idealistic dream... that was the basis for the Revolution.

Looking at the large-scale Terrorist internetworks tells me just how little that ideal now means to the West and to the United States. We have not confronted it for decades, and it has grown to infest itself globally... from the heroin centers in the Bekaa Valley to the Radical Islamist Imams in the US. From arms dealers willing to ship their goods without restriction by Western Nations to far off lands where a profit can be made easily and cheaply.

Even in Iraq we do not confront all of that, just a small outgrowth of that large scale internetwork. And the quivering about paying any price *now* will guarantee that these enemies will thrive, prosper and continue their aim of ending liberty once and for all if they can. As a Nation the US cannot run from Iraq to protect the US, those days ended with 'open borders' and FEDEX. Nor can we hide from the responsibilities leveraged upon us when our liberty and freedoms at home have already been attacked by killers for decades, that thrive on the moribund attitudes of one-worldism and transnational capitalism.

The horrific price the US paid by leaving South Vietnam was in the blood on our hands from those that needed protection from tyrants and despots. Destroyed villages, 'killing fields' and 'boat people' who fled from tyranny and death because the fighting did not end after the US left. And the killing only got worse. That led to many outcomes, but the worse is this dream of global pathway to power by just killing to it for an tyrannical ideology. And so you can get an idea of what that looks like on a graphical scale, lets take a look at rough sketching out of some of the links between: Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf, FARC, BCCI.

Not very pretty, and only covering about 15 terror incidents and concentrating on the US...call it less than 5% of the high level interconnections with much more from BCCI, BNL, and arms firms needing to be put in along with the Drug Cartels and Kingpins. Plus a hefty amount of the interaction between organized crime and terrorism isn't well scoped out yet.

That is what it looks like when we do not pay attention to tyranny and terror for 30 years.

Too bad so many in the defeatocrat camp don't want to confront it.

It is already here.

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