Jan 26, 2009

Amuse bouche AQ: GWOT Strategic PSYOP

An offering from the main GWOT Strategic PSYOP can be detected from this piece in the new Economist:

Al-Qaeda's failure to fight for Palestine comes up repeatedly in jihadist internet forums. It also forms part of the latest ideological counter-attack against al-Qaeda by Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, one of its founders in 1998 and a leading jihadist ideologue under the pen-name "Dr Fadl". He has since fallen out with its leaders, particularly Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded him as head of Egypt's Islamic Jihad group. Al-Qaeda, he now says, "did not offer Palestine anything except words".

Dr Fadl was arrested in Yemen in 2001 and extradited to Egypt. His first assault on al-Qaeda for its profligate killing of Muslims, at the end of 2007, prompted Mr Zawahiri to write a rebuttal of nearly 200 pages. The rejoinder to that, issued in November, was serialised in an Egyptian newspaper. His latest critique ranges from personal attacks on Mr Zawahiri to accusations that al-Qaeda has distorted Islamic law on jihad and inflicted a series of disasters on Muslims.

Dr Fadl accuses Mr Zawahiri of being an agent of the Sudanese intelligence services who agreed to carry out ten attacks in Egypt in the 1990s in exchange for $100,000. He denounces him as a liar and a coward who incites others to die in jihad while not taking part in the fighting. Egyptian prisons and graveyards were filled with jihadists, but Mr Zawahiri fled abroad, he says.

Al-Qaeda blames America for all the woes of the Muslim world. But Dr Fadl says the problem is Muslims' own failings. He accuses al-Qaeda of declaring entire populations, even in Muslim countries, to be apostates, and of establishing a "criminal doctrine" of wholesale slaughter. This defies traditional injunctions in Islamic law against indiscriminate killing. Even the killing of non-believers in war is restricted, he avers, pointing to the bans on killing women, boys, the demented and hired hands such as labourers and peasants.

The attacks on America in 2001, says Dr Fadl, prompted foreign invasions and the destruction of the "Islamic state" set up by the Taliban. It led to the death of more Muslims than have been killed in all of Israel's wars. "Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers," he writes. Their talk of Palestine is "just for propaganda"; they cannot find allies among Palestinians.

Do the ideological revisions of Dr Fadl, facilitated by the Egyptian security services, matter when the assault in Gaza may have won al-Qaeda new supporters? Some officials argue that the emotional fury will pass; they say Dr Fadl's first attack hurt al-Qaeda even though it followed Israel's equally brutal war in Lebanon in 2006. But pundits such as Bruce Hoffman, of Georgetown University in Washington, think the impact will be marginal. "Dr Fadl discomfits al-Qaeda," he says. "Young hotheads are not going to listen to some geriatric sitting in an Egyptian prison. But al-Qaeda worries he might have an impact on its finances."

Jan 25, 2009

Gaming Chavez

CARACAS (Reuters) - A video game depicting mercenaries storming Venezuela, which has been criticized in the oil-rich South American country as a blueprint for an invasion, will be released by a U.S. company this weekend.


The game, "Mercenaries 2: World in Flames," will be released on Sunday by a division of Electronic Arts Inc and is set in a "fully destructible Venezuela," the company said in a news release.

"A power hungry tyrant uses Venezuela's oil supply to overthrow the government and turns the country into a war zone," the company says of the game on its Web site.

In 2006, when the game was first announced, lawmakers from Chavez's coalition called it an example of a U.S. government-inspired propaganda campaign against Chavez that could even help lay the psychological groundwork for an actual invasion.

"All the controversy around this is kind of comical," Electronic Arts spokesman Jeff Brown said. "At the end of the day you have to remind yourself it's a damned video game."

The government on Friday said it could not immediately comment on the game's release.


A trailer for the game, set in 2010, features mercenaries with American accents storming oil installations during a bloody coup by a tyrant called Ramon Solano.

"It is time the Venezuelan people stop paying for the greed of foreign interests, we will make them pay dearly for our oil. From this day forward everybody pays," the character says before shots of helicopter gunships and tanks attacking familiar Venezuelan landscapes.

Chavez has nationalized oil projects owned by U.S. companies like Exxon and ConocoPhillips.
-hacked&jacked Reuters

Jan 23, 2009

O'Radio Shack'd; Retronymized, Euphemized - Bettered

The oath redux wasn't acknowledged to have been visualized for offspring: grainy and 70'ish Radio Shack'd audio recordings do not perennially demand YouTubedization.

; well heck, just knocking on wood. So that first, and most banal at that, challenge to a promise of reasonable transparency was surgically managed t'ward the more epic and Lincolnesque narrative. Picturesque. Love it. So 2.0 savvy. Day 1.

More below the fold on euphemization from some latter-day Christian Scientists:

No doubt about it, Mr. Obama's to-do list is suddenly a lot longer this week. As he struggles to restart the economy and save the environment, he'll also have to stay on top of all the wars the country is involved in or at the edge of.

And he'll have to take note of which wars are kinetic, and which ones aren't.

Come again? It's not exactly everywhere, but it's a term I've seen and heard often enough to pay attention: kinetic operations, aka "shooting wars."

Kinetic – it rhymes with frenetic – comes from a Greek word, kinein, meaning to move. Kinetic energy is energy of motion: a snowball flying through the air, for instance. Educational theorists speak of different people as having audio, visual, or kinetic (or kinesthetic) learning styles, depending on whether they learn best by hearing, seeing, or hands-on experience. Kinetic sculptures are those that move.

Kinetic has a cousin in the movie business, too – cinema. In the 1890s, the aptly named Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, borrowed another Greek word, kinema, meaning "movement," to coin the term cinématographe for the motion-picture camera they developed.

(While I'm digressing: The Online Etymology Dictionary reports, "When 3-D films seemed destined to be the next wave and the biggest thing to hit cinema since 'talkies,' they were known as deepies (1953). The gods have spared us.")

Meanwhile, kinetic is moving in other directions, too. "Afghanistan's kinetic action" was the somewhat cryptic headline on a piece the other day in Stars and Stripes, the independent news source for the US military community.

The lead was a little more enlightening, if not heartening: "Taliban fighters have turned increasingly to roadside bombs and other deadly tactics to combat U.S. soldiers and other NATO-led troops in southern Afghanistan, military officials say."

With such a grim story, no wonder there was a resort to euphemism.

By contrast, a "nonkinetic" operation is one with no shooting or bombing.

Thus the Navy Times quoted Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, on efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia: "The most effective measures we've seen ... are non-kinetic and defensive in nature."

Max Boot and Richard Bennet, writing last month in The Weekly Standard about "low-intensity counterinsurgency" against Islamist rebels in the Philippines, noted, "Traditional 'kinetic' operations in which bullets are fired and bombs dropped are still part of the Philippine strategy against their numerous guerrilla foes, but they have become less important over the years, thanks partly to the advice Philippine forces have received from the US Special Forces."

Kinetic operations are in contrast with "psy ops," psychological warfare, or civil affairs operations, such as building schools or setting up health clinics.

So is this use of kinetic largely a euphemism? Euphemism is part of it, surely, in the Afghan story.

But it's a retronym, too, as the American Heritage Dictionary defines it: "a word or phrase created because an existing term that was once used alone needs to be distinguished from a term referring to a new development, as acoustic guitar in contrast to electric guitar or analog watch in contrast to digital watch."

In other words – the armed forces need this new usage because they are doing so many other things than firing weapons. And that is not a bad thing.

Jan 18, 2009

Mindjacking Down Gaza Way

Hijacking the airwaves, spreading false news and sowing doubt: Israel and Hamas are pulling out all the stops when it comes to psychological warfare. Lies and deceit are the weapons of choice in the effort to destroy enemy morale.

Roughly once every hour, Israel hijacks the airwaves: The voice of radio host Kamal Abdu Nasser cuts out for a few minutes and is replaced by that of an Arabic-speaking Israeli. Listeners in the Gaza Strip are convinced that, in those moments, Israel's military is speaking.

Hamas is responsible for the war and Gaza's misery, says the apparent imposter.

The Hamas television station Al-Aqsa is also periodically interrupted, viewers say. One example, they report, is that of a cartoon depicting a sniper shooting at pictures of Hamas leaders. An Arabic voiceover warns: "This time you will pay."

It was three years ago that Israel's army launched its department of psychological warfare. But its debut was less than stunning. During the Lebanon war in 2006, Israelis dropped poorly-made leaflets down on Shiite civilians in southern Lebanon. The pamphlets included a simplistic drawing of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah cowering behind a cedar tree, Lebanon's national symbol. The clumsily-delivered message was apparently that Lebanon's Schiite militia was hiding behind the country's civilians.

These flyers did not have the desired effect. Instead, the Lebanese showed them to visitors for months on end to show the Israeli army's naiveté. Many wondered whether Israel had honestly thought their pamphlets would change Lebanese minds.

But in the last two and a half years, Israel's army has learned a thing or two about psychological warfare. For one, they've captured the airways -- but for another, they've also improved their flyers. Pamphlets dropped on the Gaza Strip refrain from relying on simplistic propaganda images. Instead, they provide telephone numbers and e-mail addresses -- Palestinians can use them should they want to report the whereabouts of Hamas leaders or weapons caches.

One can assume the contact information isn't used often -- but the flyers are effective: "Pamphlets like these sow seeds of doubt among Hamas leaders and the civilian population," says Ephraim Kam, deputy head of the Institute of National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. They create a general atmosphere of uncertainty because everyone suddenly holds the tools to betray the leaders of Hamas, he says.

Israeli reports about massive problems facing Hamas have a similar effect, according to Kam. Israeli military speakers have for days been reporting that their generals in the field have observed scores of demoralized Hamas fighters deserting. The claim can't be confirmed -- but it definitely affects morale. It strengthens the Israeli population's will to continue; and in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli media is the main source of information, this message raises questions about whether Hamas may, in fact, be on its last legs.

"Messages like these may or may not be true, but they definitely achieve one desired result," says Kam. "They undermine the confidence and certitude of Hamas."

The Islamists in the Gaza Strip have likewise employed the power of suggestion during this war, now almost three weeks old. Hamas has repeatedly released messages claiming that they have captured or killed Israeli soldiers. Translated into Hebrew, these announcements, are then inserted into the radio traffic in the Israeli-controlled parts of the Gaza Strip. Even if the messages are later disproved, they initially undermine the morale of soldiers in the field, according to Kam.

Hamas has instrumentalized the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a similar manner. Shalit has been in capitivity in the Gaza Strip for more than two and a half years -- his fate is of interest to the entire nation. Indeed, one of the goals of the current offensive is that of bringing Shalit home -- an it is one which the majority of the population supports wholeheartedly.

At the start of the Israeli offensive, Hamas claimed that Shalit had been wounded by Israeli fire. The message was clear: If Israel wanted to see Shalit return alive, it should stop the war. Then, last Sunday, the Gaza Islamists claimed that Schalit's health was no longer important. "He may be wounded or he may be fine. This question is no longer of any interest to us," said Hamas politburo member Mussa Abu Marsuk, thereby raising frenzied concern throughout Israel about the young man's wellbeing.

Even Hamas threats fired off at Israel over the past months seem to have been well-considered. "Shortly before the end of the cease-fire, Hamas started boasting that it had countless surprises awaiting Israeli troops, should they advance," says Kam. Threats that no soldier would ever leave the Gaza Strip alive were supposed to keep Israel at bay.

The threats, of course, were not ultimately successful in preventing an Israeli ground incursion. Still, says Kam, they raised fears of booby-traps, fighters hidden inside tunnel systems and further Hamas attempts to capture Israeli soldiers. "The IDF would certainly have been careful anyway, but Hamas's pre-war propaganda caused them to be doubly careful," says Kam.

Still, the most effective propaganda campaign in this war has certainly been waged by Israel.

On Dec. 26, when war between Israel and Hamas already seemed unavoidable, Jerusalem called for a 48-hour cease-fire. The government claimed it wanted to consider all possible political solutions. In order to give Hamas a sense of security, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak even appeared in a satirical broadcast on Dec. 26 -- by which point the decision to attack on the morning of Dec. 27 was 24-hours old. An unsuspecting Hamas considered itself safe. On the morning of Dec. 27, men met in offices and barracks and dozens of policemen gathered at a defense ceremony. At that point, nearly 60 Israeli fighter jets were already in the air, headed for battle.
-Hacked and jacked Spiegel Online

Jan 17, 2009

Jack B Back (Cheap Start): Rejectng COIN Wisdom

Given - it's way cheap but it B our lead-in:

Some yesterday's WaPo finds our boy prezenting the institutional viewpoint as per usual.

Spotted a gem from another yesterday, Rejecting COIN Wisdom (There's a Marc Lynch in here somewhere):

Maybe that's just the way these rightwing sociopaths want it. I'm at a loss to think of any other reason they continually deny accepted counter-insurgency expertise to bang the gong for more bloodshed.

Fellow Aspbergers: Dig the "rightwing sociopath" in question. LMAO

(Jack B Back.)