The recent killing of the Taliban Chieftain, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, by a drone inside the Pakistan province of Baluchistan, is a striking reminder that we have entered a futuristic world where war is waged by flying killer robots and that we have witnessed a massive leap forward in the history of human conflict. Given that war accelerates history and the Islamic world is incapable of producing the cell phones on which its Islamists plot to kill us, the mullah’s death by drone reminds us of immutable laws governing the fall of civilizations. In my book, Lessons from Fallen Civilizations, my Immutable Law #10 reads:
Declining civilizations will always face superior firepower from ascending civilizations because sovereignty is only temporarily uncontested.
The U.S. agency that conducts drone warfare worldwide, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), was constituted in 2002 and has grown ten-fold since its inception. Staffed by both the CIA and military, it now operates in super-secret locations across the globe. For the first ten years of its existence, JSOC conducted operations which were largely under reported and therefore garnered very little public scrutiny. That changed with the 2011 killing of a very high profile American-born al Qaeda terrorist, Anwar al Awlaki, another American terrorist, Samir Khan, and three others, obliterated in their car as they drove along a desert road in Yemen.
Awlaki was notorious both for his internet-based recruitment of jihadis worldwide and for being a key planner in no less than four plots against the U.S. including the underwear bomber (a plot which very nearly downed an airliner over a densely populated area of Detroit and could have killed as many Americans as on 9/11). Khan was the creative force behind the jihadist on-line magazine, Inspire, which posted articles on how build home-made dirty bombs as well as how to pick “soft” American targets. Oddly enough, the New York Times reported,
“Eighteen months later, despite the Obama administration’s effort to keep it cloaked in secrecy, the decision to hunt and kill Mr. Awlaki has become the subject of new public scrutiny and debate, touched off by the nomination of John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, to be head of the C.I.A.”
It was odd because when the attack went public, the Times and others in the mainstream press wrote worrisome columns, wondering in print if the Obama administration was acting outside the law, murdering Americans on foreign soil without due process. But because they are nothing if not faithful Obama supporters, their worry quickly subsided.
The details surrounding the killing of Mullah Mansour reads a bit like a futuristic Tom Clancy thriller. Tips from intelligence assets inside Pakistan had made it possible to track his movements by picking up signatures from the communication devices he used. The members of JSOC already knew he had traveled from his mountain hideout in tribal Waziristan (Northwestern Pakistan) south through Baluchistan and across the Iranian border to visit his family in Iran. (Wait a minute! Why would the Iranians, our supposed new allies, our partners in nuclear non-proliferation, allow a terrorist leader, at war with the U.S. to enter their country? And why is his family allowed to live there?)
On his return trip, the drones flew into Pakistani airspace, and flew very low through mountainous ravines to avoid radar detection, on their way to kill him as he travelled, this time north, through the wide-open Baluchi badlands. They watched as the vehicle carrying Mansour and four other terrorists pulled over near unidentified buildings. They waited and hovered above until the terrorists were back on the road, then launched two hell-fire missiles obliterating the car. They then hovered overhead to see if there were any survivors and then headed back to Afghanistan.
Over the balance of his presidency Obama has conducted drone strikes at a rate ten times that of his predecessor, Bush. And not one in the sycophantantic press core saw the rich irony in the fact that candidate Obama spent much of his political capital condemning George Bush for the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” when only a few years later, his own drone strikes would often not only kill terrorists but whole families including women and children. Such are the vagaries of being a member of the leftist press.
Given the hardships soldiers have always faced, traveling to distant lands and attempting to survive in devastatingly hostile environments, it boggles the mind to consider the new robot commander. He is seated at his desk in the complete safety of an air-conditioned office, perhaps on the other side of the planet, able to kill the head of the Taliban traveling in Baluchistan.
Psychological Warfare and the Defeat of Jihadism
What jihadi leaders like Mullah Mansour or al Baghdadi of ISIS are peddling is that theirs is a messianic cause, that Allah will bless and protect jihadists in their great religious struggle. But what does it do to that narrative when the godless infidel can build and send mysterious hidden flying machines to kill their leaders and do so without the loss of a single infidel life? It smashes it. Apparently, even Obama gets this. But drone warfare is only one weaponized piece of the great psychological warfare that needs to be ratcheted up against resurgent militant Islam.
While Trump has recently somewhat backed off his earlier stated position that the U.S. should have a temporary moratorium on Muslim immigration, he is essentially saying what most Americans already know—not all Muslims are terrorists but nearly all terrorists are Muslim. It would be stunningly brilliant act of psychological warfare if a President Trump were to modify his position to say that he would not ban all Muslims from entering this country but would set up a litmus test, and limit entry to those who would, for example, disavow the belief that a Muslim should be killed if he or she wishes to leave the faith. (Currently there are nearly no experts on Islamic jurisprudence who disagree, that under Sharia law, apostasy is punishable by death.) He could extend that litmus test to include the vow to obey all American laws even if they violate sharia law. The applicant could also formally proclaim that America’s close ally, Israel, has a right to exist. Finally, a President Trump could welcome all qualified Muslim men and women recruited overseas who are joining our military intelligence services and who will be going to the front lines in the war on terror.
Perhaps Donald Trump will figure out that the way to defeat a destructive cruel ideology is with a sound compassionate ideology.