Eugene Armstrong

I’m working on something about terrorism – the deep distinction between terrorist violence and equally deadly non-terrorist violence – in the form of a critique of Caleb Carr’s book.

But real life – weddings, work, kids – is keeping me away from the computer this week.

Meanwhile, go over to Harry’s Place and read “brownie” about the latest murder in Iraq…

That there are still people in the west who believe such groups would be susceptible to any realignment of US foreign policy in the Middle East, is nothing short of bewildering. At best, it’s unfathomable naivety. At worst, it’s 24-carat, cognitive dissonance.

UPDATE: More here about those who want us to “listen” to Osama, as well as links to pictures and video.

18 thoughts on “Eugene Armstrong”

  1. One of the problems is that we’re still fighting by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Our troops are being held back.

    It’s time we identified some targets and let them do whatever was necessary to find and eliminate those creeps.

    I really believe it could be done, if only we’d let the military run the operation.

    Unless we do, this will happen again and again and again and ……

  2. One of the problems is that we’re still fighting by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Our troops are being held back.

    It’s time we identified some targets and let them do whatever was necessary to find and eliminate those creeps.

    I really believe it could be done, if only we’d let the military run the operation.

    Unless we do, this will happen again and again and again and ……

  3. It’s a popular barroom-brawl aficionado idea that we need to abandon some so-called rules to combat terrorism.

    How would you explain the Soviet/Russian failure in Afghanistan and Chechnya? The Germans in Yugoslavia? Insufficient brutality was certainly not one of their mistakes.

    Targeted assassination might help. Bombing the hell out of their civilians hoping to knock off some terrorists won’t.

  4. Of course, there’s a middle ground here.

    Andrew’s point, even if granted in full, does not mean that all rules we’re currently operating under make sense.

    Mark’s point, even if granted in full, does not mean there should be no rules at all. The American military has its own counterinsurgency doctrines, after all, and they’re very different from the Russian approach in Grozny. The constraints imposed by this doctrine would still apply, even if the U.S. military was given a complete blank cheque.

    So… are there specific practices that need to go? If so, which ones?

  5. bq. So… are there specific practices that need to go? If so, which ones?

    Any building used for military purposes should be destroyed. It works in the territories: two suicide bombers were recently turned in because their family didn’t want their homes destroyed.

  6. “So… are there specific practices that need to go? If so, which ones?”

    I think that train has sailed. The problem with this kind of warfare is that escalation always plays into enemy hands. If you start off quick and tough, even brutal, you set the ground rules and tend to nip things in the bud. But if you react to enemy action and gradually increase your level of violence, every act is another provocation.

    For instance, we should have crushed Fallujah the first time, doing so again now would seem redundent and highlight our previous failure, and hence weakness. The same can be said of Sadr, we could have killed or arrested him long long ago with barely a ripple, to do so now would be a much bigger problem.

    Essentially, we have run short of options. The one we have left is still good, perhaps the only one in the long run that could work. If we can get the Iraqi army up and running this Fall, clear out the Sunni Triangle just before elections, and run a good election we may just grab some momentum. The get tough act is out of the question at this point, at least without a major Iraqi component.

  7. As I understand it the US military did not clean out Fallujah or Najaf because the interim Iraqi government did not want to put an exclusive American vs. Iraqi face on it. My primary criticism has been that by holding back the Marines today we create a more difficult job for them tomorrow, and that I would have chosen to deal with the tomorrow aftermath.

    Would taking down Fallujah in April have been the right decision? I don’t know. We won’t have any real evidence until late December. An Iraqi force doing the job would add tremendous credibility to the national government and a whole bunch of objective realism to the democratization plan. I hope that’s what they’re up to anyway.

  8. Umm, guyz, the problem is way deeper than that– the war of terrorist agression is completely new to the 20th century. Like Den Beste sez:

    “In terms of classic doctrine, the critical difference between terrorist warfare and guerrilla warfare is that attacks made by guerrillas are primarily intended to directly harm the enemy, whereas attacks made by terrorists are primarily intended to provoke reprisals.”

    Reprisals are what the terrorists seek. This is brand new stuff. We don’t have models for terrorist warfare yet, but EGT is a hopeful prospect. Since terrorist attacks come against civilian targets, the best strategy I’ve seen so far is denial of target, the Israeli fence.

  9. True, but the other piece of conventional wisdom about Guerilla War is that when the insurgents stand and fight they have already lost the battle. Our greatest blessing in Iraq has been that our enemies have stupidly gone toe-to-toe with our military time and time again. Indication are, for instance, that we have killed off the majority of Sadr’s senior goons that were apt to have the most experience and levelest heads. Thats a good thing. The thugs in Fallujah stood and fought also and we killed them by the bushel full, that they were able to claim a tactical victory because the assault was not pressed home is a political mistake.
    The cycle of violence argument is bunk. The vast majority dont pick up weapons because they are embarrassed that their occupier is so strong. They pick up weapons because they perceive weakness. The bottom line is, we should kill the brave ones whenever we can. But not at the expense of the greater goal, which as I said is at this point best served by letting the Iraqis lead the fight. Killing is only a byproduct of strategy. Breaking the enemies will to fight is the goal, and we do that by killing the zealots and making the fight seem hopeless to the remainder. That is best served by stewarding in a free and democratic Iraq with a strong security force.

  10. Armed Liberal intends ” a critique of Caleb Carr’s book.”*

    I hope that will be interesting and enlightening to read, but I read that book with great care, and I wound up concluding it is almost empty. If you start with such weak ideas, supported only by historical evasions, you don’t get far.

    Terrorism is war on civilians. War on civilians leads always and inexorably to defeat. Rome made war on civilians. The Roman Empire fell (after a slight pause). See? Always works, look up any ancient historical people, find where they fought civilians, and sooner or later (often much later) – they fell! And in a long war with wins and losses on both sides, ones own setbacks are due to one’s own “war on civilians” and if one wins it can only prove that the enemy was guilty of pressing the “automatic defeat” button more often. Sheer fudging genius.

    I didn’t think it got very much better from there. After pondering it all, there was absolutely nothing that I wanted to add to my intellectual tool-kit. And the failures were exactly where I wanted and expected a military history guy to be strong.

    People can bitch about Victor Davis Hansen’s broad brush and swingeing rhetoric all they like, but in the end he makes more sense.

    In the meantime, I have nothing to add to Joe’s fully correct remarks at Harry’s Place.

    I think what “rules of engagement” are appropriate (or even if that concept in the way we have come to understand it is a good and appropriate one) is another topic, worthy of its own thread.

    * Carr, C. 2002, _The lessons of terror: a history of warfare against civilians – why it has always failed, and why it will fail again_, Little, Brown, London.

  11. As a military wife and with my husband going back to Iraq for another year….I make my statement not opionion………Kick their asses!!!!!!!!!!and if he and the rest of the military weren’t doing it..they would being doing this to our own children in our own country…..They are not winning,,,,,,I get so sick of people and other military wives getting mad and bellyacheing over this war has no meaning…….it is for peace or continued peace ,,I am proud of my husband,,,,,,but I felt so sick after watching mr armstrong die so slowly and painfully, there was no glory in that,,,they are sick bastards

  12. In my view, these barbarians will never be tamed. many have tried, and failed. Bombings, even nuking them won’t change them. They hate Jews, White people, others, themselves,and Christians.
    They live very well under brutal dictators, stong armed bad men. Go to the Holy Bible, and find the facts about these people. If they have been at war with themselves, and others for hundreds of years, what make you believe they will change.
    I forsee civil war in Iraq, and the lot of them coming against the rest of the world. It is a known fact that they will “get together against others”. And in the long run fight against you.
    They may be different in sects, countries, and in other ways, but they have a pact, to destroy all those who are not “like them”, so leave them alone
    I believe that the families of all Americans, and others who were brutally slaughtered should ban together, get a good international lawyer, and sue their countries for over $200 million each for every one they have killed. Economic santions, and cripple them financially. This won’t bring the lives of the innocents back, but I can assure you they will think twice before harming any other person. In the mean time, you also have to look at the safety of the USA, I am not getting political, but if you have no oil, no money, no jobs, and the economy is becomes worst because of this war,and international fears to invest, then you would not be safe.
    Many believe that safety only involves ” lack of physical threats to a person”, this is not so. As an RN nurse(disabled), a registered psychiatric nurse; poor standards of living, lack of basic necessities, depression, lowering your living standards, looking over your shoulders, fear of others, losing money on the stock market, lack of finances, and (uprisings in the USA), which would possible happen if people are hungry, have no jobs etc. entrapts you even more so than an attack by one of these “stong armed mad men’.
    How would you like to live like many in the 3rd world?. Recently I survived 3 hurricanes here in Florida, and was most fortunate, many others were not so. Many had to resort to very primitive ways of life, no water, no food, no toilet facilites, using a bucket for release of waste. Is this what America is wishing for? Saddam, and his sons are gone, let the people of Iraq take over now, for a “hungry man is an angry man”. And if they are so caught up in their religion they will do anything to harm others. I am sure there are many good Muslims out there but these dangerous ones don’t care about human lives.
    Millicent

  13. Rest in Peace Mr. Armstrong, vengence is Gods,and he will inflict pain 7 times greater on those who say they are of God and no him not,
    RIP

  14. Dear Armstrong family,my heart broke when i saw what you’ve lost,a husband,father,a son a friend and a relative.Continue to talk to him every night i know it hurts!but i pray that God will give you strength,peace,rest,and help you in your darkest of nights.The devil comes to kill steal and to destroy, Jesus came to give us life;One day we’re gonna be accountable for our actions,seek after Gods word, call on his name he’s waiting for you.If you don’t know Jesus ask him to come into your heart,believe he died for you like on The passion of the Christ.This is what i believe and know in my heart that he is real thank God that my Jesus took on all sickness,diseases,whipped until you couldn’t recognize he was a man,by his stripes i was healed thank you Lord for going to hell/hades grave and took the keys so that i wouldn’t have to go there.Revelations says that it wasn’t man made but all who are enemies to God.Peace i pray for your lives..Gods servant

  15. My opinions,my opinions about what I have seen.I viewed with horrendous regret the murder of one Eugene Armstrong.I suppose I could blame it all upon my own morbid curiosity….although,I no longer accept that excuse.I am profoundly sorry that i watched this video,and now find it increasingly difficult to sleep.I am a Catholic,and a very proud one at that.However,I can not understand this Islam ‘thing’,and i apologize if that seems intolerant.The beheading of Eugene Armstrong horrified me…..there really is no possible way to verbalize what i felt.As a Catholic,I can only offer my prayers for Eugene’s family,and ask Jesus to comfort them.And while i firmly believe that Eugene Arnstrong is in a better place with God,this belief in no way can mitigate the horror perpetuated upon his body,his family,and the others who fell to his same fate.May God have mercy upon his soul,and may God help us all.

  16. after watching this video, literally the only thing holding me from collapsing on the ground was the fact that i was laying on the couch. here i am, sitting in a free country, where i can express my own feelings and ideas and not be afraid because of that gift. I immediately did the only thing i knew to do, i prayed. i prayed that God will take those images out of my mind and that in fact the devil has no power over that. But moments later i found myself never wanting to forget what i saw. I dont know exactly why Mr. Eugene Armstrong was murdered in such an horrendous way, but i know that is a terrible thing. here i am, never appealed to responding a post on anything. But i find myself absolutely captivated by thought of what i would live for, and in reality what i would die for. I once heard, “what i believe i do”. Jesus Christ died for me, this i believe to be true. He also gave men free will to do things like this terribly horrific action. If we could only, if I could only, learn how to love, learn how to really not only treat people, but look at people better than myself. perhaps none of this would ever happen. perhaps family members of eugene would not have to live with this video and realization breathing down their backs. showing itself at their every move.

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