Archive for the 'Iraq' Category

Atlas of Jihadist Ideology – call for Mario

The Combatting Terrorism Centre at West Point has made a study of Islamic Militant writings and ideology, and produced this ‘Atlas‘. It’s very interesting.

They bill it as the “first systematic mapping” of an ideology sometimes called jihadism. They conclude that bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, have had a relatively minor influence on the movement’s intellectual foundation. Among the network’s ideologists, they have come to be seen more as propagandists than strategic thinkers.

The study predicts that the scholarly work of a group of Saudi and Jordanian clerics — most notably Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a Jordanian — seems more likely to influence the next generation of Islamic militants.

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Reality-based community

Ok, I normally hate people who just read something and then blog about it because they assume the whole world is interested.

But on occasion I just can’t help it. This sort of thing drives me nuts. Sorry.

There’s this article on BBC News online at the moment about the Pentagon creating a new ‘media war unit’ to get in to the Blogosphere and counter all the apparent lies and untruths that keep on being talked up hurting people’s perceptions of the war of terror.

Any effort to disseminate the truth can only be a good thing. But from the Pentagon? It’s like they’ve got cross because they were so succesful in spinning lies through the main-stream media (MSM) pre-Iraq, and now they’re cross that they can’t do it through New Media, because it’s far more transparent and accountable. So what do you do? Tell the truth? Or just launch a New Media propaganda unit?

Undoubtedly opinions fly across the internet that can too rapidly become fact, and this does no good, whether it’s about Iraq or Paris Hilton.

But I can’t help but read this and immediately think of an article that came out in October 2004, by Ron Suskind, where he quoted a Bush-administration official as complaining about the Liberal Media because they were the ‘reality-based community’. It’s amazing. Read it here. But the killer paragraph is:
“The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” [my emphasis]
So what’s going on now? Are the Pentagon trying to attack the reality-based Blogosphere community? Even when they talk about real events, such as US Army abuses in Iraq, we find out about ‘repetitive administration of legitimate force‘, which in reality means being beaten to death. I’ll never forget sitting up late one night doing some background research on abuses at Abu Ghraib for HRW, reading USDD reports, and the shock of working out what ‘butt-kissed’ meant.