Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 19-Feb-07
Al-Qaeda resurging in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Web Log - February, 2007

Al-Qaeda resurging in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Al-Qaeda's greatest threat is to Britain and Europe.

CNN's terrorism expert Peter Bergen, appearing on CNN International on Monday, gave a lengthy report on al-Qaeda's resurgence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here's what he said (sometimes paraphrasing):

Top: CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen.  Bottom: File footage of al-Qaeda training camp. <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
Top: CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen. Bottom: File footage of al-Qaeda training camp. (Source: CNN)

"There are about 2000 foreign al-Qaeda fighters in the region along the Pakistan-Afghan border. They're in small training camps that can't be detected from the air -- 10 to 20 dedicated al-Qaeda fighters in each one, training in such things as burning bombs. The July 7, 2005, London subway bombing attacks are increasingly seen as an al-Qaeda operation, not just a bunch of guys who got radicalized by visiting madrassas in Pakistan. The guys actually trained in Afghanistan, and later met with al-Qaeda leaders on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

If this were a Mafia organization they'd be out of business, because all you have to do is take out the leadership. But al-Qaeda is a much stronger organization, because it has strong religious beliefs and it's also derived a great deal of strength from insurgencies.

And we've got two major insurgencies going on, one on the Afghan-Pakistan border, and the other one in Iraq. According to the U.S. Marines' assessment, which was leaked to the Washington Post in December, al-Qaeda actually controls Anbar province, which is a huge province in Western Iraq. And al-Qaeda now has a very strong presence in the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistan borders. So unfortunately this group, where the conventional wisdom is that they were sort of out of business, unfortunately is back in business.

What that means for American security isn't really clear. What it means for British security is very clear already. They've launched one attack in July 2005, an al-Qaeda operation, they also tried to bring down ten American airliners in August of last year - that plan luckily didn't work out. But the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency recently testified that that plan was directed from al-Qaeda in Pakistan."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, many of Britain's young Muslims have set up a "Hero/Prophet" relationship with the radical clerics in Pakistan. When I described this relationship at length in an article in November, I pointed out that this relationship is the visceral basis by means of which new genocidal crisis wars begin. There's an emotional connection between the elder Prophet generation (the idealistic generation born after the last crisis war) and the impatient college age Hero generation (the soldiers who will be fighting the new crisis war).

At the time that I wrote that article, it was unclear how that relationship was structured. This new information makes it very clear that the young British Muslims are particularly connected to the al-Qaeda leadership on the Afghan-Pakistan border. The 2005 London subway bombing is a very powerful recruiting tool for al-Qaeda leaders to use with these disaffected young men, particularly because it's now clear that the London subway attacks and the 9/11 attacks were masterminded by the same generational Prophet generation, and the young men are more than willing to commit "altruistic suicide," in order to become Heroes to other radical Muslims.

The CNN anchor, Jim Clancy, then asked why Pakistan hasn't taken these training camps out.

"Well, Pakistan is in a very difficult situation. They've gone in there in the past and they've lost hundreds of their soldiers going after militants in the tribal areas. They've now conducted some peace agreements with a number of the militants in these tribal areas. These have not been particularly useful in terms of security in Afghanistan. Because of these peace agreements, we've seen a surge of attacks in Afghanistan coming out of these tribal areas into Afghanistan, against Afghan targets, U.S. military and Nato targets. So neither policy has really worked; appeasement hasn't really worked with these militants, nor has the strong military action that the Pakistani military took in the last several years. So I'm not sure what the answer is. There is definitely a problem."

Then Jim Clancy asked: "Should we be worried about this? Should we be demanding the SOMEBODY come up with a solution?"

Note that this is a very interesting way of phrasing the question. Clancy is a Boomer (America's current Prophet generation), and like all Boomers, he's waiting for someone else, anybody else, to do something. This was similar to Senator Richard Lugar's suggestion Sunday that Republicans and Democrats ought to form a committee to figure out what to do about Iraq. All of these Boomers, Republican and Democrat alike, have no skills except to bicker, and have no idea how to govern. Really, the only person in Washington who's trying to govern is President Bush, but the rest of the Boomers have made it their full time job to make governing impossible.

So, here's what Peter Bergen said:

"We should be very worried. The 9/11 attack came out of the area, the Cole attack in Yemen, embassy attacks in 98 in Africa, and if this group is reorganizing then that's a big problem. And it's not just a problem for the United States; it's also a problem for countries in Nato, it's a problem for Afghanistan. It's also really a problem for Pakistan. I mean just in the last month we've had six suicide attacks in Pakistan itself, coming from the militants who are regrouping in this area."

The significance of all this is that it presents a very different picture of the "war on terror" than most people think. Most people view terrorists as a bunch of roving criminals, blowing themselves or airplanes up willy-nilly. What we've been seeing more and more is an al-Qaeda plan to coalesce into a major fighting force, and to install itself as the government of an actual country, whether Somalia, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

I'll close this article with some pure speculation.

A reader (not an American) has written to me saying that Americans are lacking in resolve and that our entire foreign policy is based on oil. He then suggested that what America should do is abandon our support for Israel and ally ourselves with Iran, in order to keep the oil flowing. "I think we all know that Americans would throw Israel overboard," he wrote, "if it were a choice between Israel and keeping our car gastanks full and not waiting in riotous gas lines and rationing." I can only shake my head at this bizarre, offensive view of Americans which, unfortunately, is shared by a lot of leftist non-American anti-Americans.

I wrote back to him that America could not "throw Israel overboard" because Americans have a deep spiritual connection to Israel, because of our defense of freedom of religion, and because America has defense agreements with Israel and a number of other countries, and those treaties cannot be abrogated.

However, this whole discussion raises an interesting question: Are there any circumstances where we might be allied with Iran in the Clash of Civilizations World War?

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics Forecasting Methodology, there are trend events that can be predicted with absolute certainly, although with a lack of certainty as to timing. Other predictions have a much narrower time frame, but are only probabilistic. A lot of the theoretical work that I've been doing on this web site and in the "Objections to Generational Dynamics" thread of the Fourth Turning forum is to improve the Forecasting Methodology to produce more accurate forecasts in narrower time frames. This is generally done by relating long-term trends to recent news events, as I've been doing many times (without always saying so) on this web site.

Now, the Clash of Civilizations World War is an unavoidable trend event that will occur with absolute certainty.

Conflict risk level for next 6-12 months as of: 9-Feb-2006
W. Europe 1 Arab Israeli 3
Russia Caucasus 2 Kashmir 2
China 2 North Korea 2
Financial 3 Bird flu 3
Key: 1=green 1=Low risk 2=yellow 2=Med 3=red 3=High 4=black 4=Active

The little "conflict risk graphic" that appears on the home page of this web site lists what are, in my opinion, the eight greatest risks to triggering this world war in the near future. It might be a war in the Mideast, or it might be a financial crisis that completely destabilizes China and other parts of Asia. The war is coming with certainty; the scenario leading up to the war can only be estimated probabilistically, since it depends on many chaotic events (in the sense of Chaos Theory).

In the past, I've speculated that Iran would be allied with China against us. There's no doubt that China will be our enemy, because that trend has been building for decades. But I've always felt a little discomfort in including Iran in that category because (a) the Iranian people are much more pro-American than their leaders, and (b) the Iranian people are much less anti-Israel than their leaders. There's no doubt that the mullahs and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like to "wipe Israel (and America) off the map," but that's far from true of the Iranian people.

During ordinary times, a country has some freedom to be everyone's ally, even play one ally against another. But when a massive war begins, everyone is forced to choose a side. It's rare that any country can manage for long to remain "neutral," as Switzerland did in World War II. Events are rarely that kind. Instead, it becomes necessary to ally with one side and to attack (and be attacked by) the other side.

The resurgence of al-Qaeda is significant because al-Qaeda is as much an enemy of Iran as it is of the United States.

So the speculation is that Iran might end up siding with America and Israel and Russia and India against al-Qaeda, Pakistan and China.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we're headed for a Clash of Civilizations World War with nearly mathematical certainty. As we head for war, we can only watch and wait to see what events trigger the surprises and the conflicts that eventually lead to that war. (19-Feb-07) Permanent Link
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