One of my very favorite things (besides chaos) BTW sandpile models are finally getting some attention– Amazing, Autotuning Sandpiles in Nautilus!
Please note I said this more than year ago.
For me the real star of the teen dystopia movie The Maze Runner is the shape shifting reconfiguring maze. The labyrinth changes every day. The giant ivy covered stone walls grind slowly into new configurations, trapping the gladers in a complex puzzle. Much like the American misadventure in the Middle East. And unlike the gigantic shape shifting maze in the movie– its a puzzle that the US can’t seem to either solve or escape from.
Its no secret that I think Hassan Hassan is the best ME analyst around– he and Dr. Atran have been my greatest influences over the last two years. Hassan inspired my Embracing Apocalypse series with his comment about how IS is multidimensional– past, present and future. Part1 (past) and Part2(present) are written– im still working onPart3(future) which will incorporate a lot of my boring math/physics stuff like the arrow of time, LaPlace’s daemon and predestination, branes, bulks, AdS space, curvature of spacetime, entropy, complexity, chaos, etc.
But for today lets talk about the Maze. Think about the realignment of factions as the walls of the labyrinth shifting in the Maze. Hassan Hassan has an excellent piece on just that.
Notwithstanding what happens next in Aleppo, JFS has already made its entrance. Inside and outside Syria, support for the group appears to have risen. Many seem to be comfortable with showing support for a group that is supposedly no longer part of Al Qaeda, while others support it for its lead role in the continuing counterattack. This normalisation and show of support are at the heart of the group’s reconfiguration – and the Aleppo offensive was partly designed to achieve that.
In Syria Obama hoped to be the hero of a diplomatic solution– instead, he is once again the goat. Michael Weiss, Hassan’s co-author says:
And now the jihadis are the Heroes of Aleppo.
Another recent realignment of factions just happened in Turkey– here is Hassan again on the new post (failed) coup alignments.
Ankara’s foreign policy will probably be more assertive in the coming weeks and months. Domestically, the episode shows that the mark Mr Erdogan has already made in the Turkish political landscape might be deeper than it is often made out to be. Mr Erdogan leads a ruling party that is increasingly entrenched, not only because of power-grabbing but also because it commands an increasingly committed social and political base, and whose detractors sometimes appear to be detached from reality. Whereas Mr Erdogan’s popularity has been on display after each election, the media portrays him as an insecure and embattled leader. For Mr Erdogan and his supporters, the attempted coup and its failure justified the policies he followed over the past three years to increase his grip on power, which will embolden them to push further.
And the Maze shifts again. These two events demonstrate a remarkable lack of agility in Obama’s foreign policy. Agile applications are a big Silicon Valley buzzword right now. USG has actually hired the Scrum software guy to “agilize” the ponderous antiquated US military. Obama had hoped for a soft coup– gulenism is supported by the RAND Building Moderate Muslim Networks initiative. Most Americans do not realize that gulenism is a moderate, quasi-sufi variant of Islam– a kind of “reform” Islam. The abortive coup smashed years of careful covert work by the US. Gulenists even have a lobbyist group in the US– much like Israel. Now gulenists have been wiped from the judiciary, academe, military, intelligence and police force. And Turkey is free to develop closer ties to Russia while continuing on the path to islamize the country.
My obsessive interest is complex adaptive systems dynamics– as an observer my model of MENA is a landscape of sandpiles weakly or strongly connected by attractor and feed-forward networks– any realignment flows through all the alliances and enmities of the landscape. IS and JF are complex interconnected emergent movements– they cannot be bombed away or droned away. Syria is connected to Turkey is connected to Iraq is connected to Yemen is connected to Bahrain etc etc…
Right on cue– Hassan Hassan:
US is desperately trying to stabilize the sandpiles, but the Second Law (of Thermodynamics) rules. Its simply not possible. So US stays trapped in the Maze.
I once thought Obama was skilled at 11-D chess…it turns out he has been zugzwang all along. For now Incirlik is open– but Erdogan demonstrated that he can close it at will, and that he no longer trusts the US. I just dont think the US will escape the Maze before the sandpiles collapse. And this (from Turkey) is the result of Obama’s sneaky, covert, lead-from-behind gulenist crusade. The signs have been changed from rule by the people to rule by Allah.
Forbidden Planet is one of my all time favorite movies– I have loved it since childhood. But sadly I see a lot of parallels to contemporary America.
And I’m heartbroken over the current state of America. I honestly dont care who wins the election…its a choice between a massive cardiovascular event and terminal gastroenteric cancer. But I will say this– we deserve Donald Trump. He is the avatar of the American Dream– fabulously rich, surrounded by his trophy wives and trophy children…pugnacious, self-assured, bombastic. He embodies American Exceptionalism perfectly…its like we americans with all our riches and power have become the Krell. Clinton is just a monster of a different sort.
The two points for me that resonated the most in the respective conventions were Marcus Lutrell at the RNC and the hispanic ex-Marine congressman at the DNC. Lutrell appeared to be in the throws of an A-stan PTSD flashback, his pupils entirely dilated and darting maniacally around the room– the ex-Marine reminissed fondly about “kicking the doors in Iraq”. When will we stop sending American troops around the word to try to bomb brown muslim people or yellow communist people into secular judeo-xian “democracy”?
The only thing both parties agree on is the need to wipe out IS…i think it cant be done. Our foreign policy is set to spawn an infinite number of fractal islamic insurgencies…fueled by the demographic tsunami coming out of Africa and vectored on the social media of the digital age.
The implication in Forbidden Planet is that the Krell got extincted by their own “monsters from the id”– that using the Krell brain amplifier created these uncontrollable monsters as a by-product…its like all of the GOP base (redbrain genetic tendency ) are monsters from Americas id. We liberals say we are different– that we are forced to support the id monsters to win elections. I even believed that until i saw what Obama has done for the last 71/2 years. Ramp up of the surveillance state, persecution of whistleblowers, bombs and drones, covert CIA ops…Obama betrayed every promise he made to me. Sry, I take it personal.
Donald Trump is no more than we deserve. May the best monster win.
“Monsters! Monsters from the id!” — Dr. Morbius
Pulse Nightclub, aftermath of Orlando Shooting.
I first heard the term “leaderless resistance” in an Edward Snowden tweet which was immediately disputed by a claim that leaderless resistance always failed. I actually think Anonymous, OWS, 4chan and lulzsec are examples of successful leaderless resistance– not directed leaderless resistance, but emergent. Another strong example is Palestinian found-weapon attacks. I think Dr. Atran and I are talking about two distinct types of LR.
Dr.Atran’s piece on Nice– “The Durability of Chaos” again falls back on Idarat al Tawahhush for explanations…this is not entirely wrong. It is part of Nājī long game strategy to push states from “the state of vexation and exhaustion” to “the state of ripeness” with the death of a thousand cuts– bleeding the treasury and population support with endless unwinnable foreign wars and pinpoint flash terror events destabilizing the government at home. Dr. Atran’s Paris analysis proposes the same themes– “The War ISIS Wants”.
But it is important for the American citizenry to understand that there are two broadly different types of strategic jihad– open front which is carried out in muslim lands and the covert or cellular jihad described here in Setmarian:
The two types are independent– and designed to be carried out in parallel. It is a mistake to propose a linkage like US is trying to do– that increased cellular jihad (lone wolf events) is caused by IS losing territory. Hassan Hassan covers that beautifully in this article “Is the Islamic State Unstoppable”? Cellular jihad is baked into IS design which continues to adapt and evolve. Nājī–
I would like to propose a third type of strategic jihad– emergent leaderless resistance or “flash terror”. This type is self-organizing so there is no digital surveillance footprint– and we can only guess at the trigger event. It is impossible to pre-identitfy the attackers before the event. And the trigger is not “outside inspiration”– the trigger seems to come from a RL event. In San Bernardino the trigger appears to have been a workplace party. In Orlando some sort of homophobic episode. For the Tsarnevs the trigger may been just the intersection of desire and opportunity– they were planning for an attack when the Boston Marathon presented a fusion of time and place. The actors seem to have to been preparing for some eventual terror event by stockpiling weapons and materials– and then some catalyst triggers the act. Flash terror also seems to inform non-islamic events– Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora theater shootings, Colorado Springs abortion clinic, Umqua Community College, Dylan Roof, Munich MacDonalds. Palestinian knife attacks/car attacks. The common denominator is spontaneity– emergence. I would also include the two recent cop killings in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Interestingly both those events have multiple common traits in inspiration and execution: young black ex-military vets inspired by the Sterling and Castile murders.
These attacks are increasing even as organized jihadi-front style attacks are decreasing. Adaptive exploitation. And that isnt even the worst part. Demographic shift and increasing global digital connectivity insure that incidents of flash terror will only continue to rise. And the lone wolves or “flash terrorists” are undetectable by the Security State, whether Israel, US, Germany, Brussels or France until the event.
I do not believe jihadi front attacks are in permanent decline. Because there is a resupply tsunami of fresh recruits coming from North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa until mid-century. What US is doing isn’t working…IS has a long term strategy– US simply doesn’t.
A new phenomenon of flash terror is giving bayah after the attack has begun, or leaving evidence for IS to claim the attackers as a soldier of Allah. Like Ansbach.
This is a global revolution. And it has only just just begun.
I am seeing so much unhelpful verbage vomited out by the cottage-industry jihadologists like Shadi Hamid on the failed Turkish coup that I have to correct the record. First, this is an enormous blow to Barack Obama and the US covert plan to create a “moderate” Islam (See Rand). Second, the failure of the coup was utterly predictable in the sense that ever since the Sisi coup in Egypt Erdogan has been preparing for an attempt like this, and probably even before, given the history of military coups in Turkey.
One of the most important things Erdogan has done was the formation and fierce support of loyal religious police and intelligence services to counter the military. The police and intel agencies subscribe to a traditional conservative islamic ideology which is very different from Güllenism– which is a kind of reform or “pluralist” Islam designed by Rand Corporation (see Fixing Islam) and covertly promoted by the US.
Police praying. So here is the first difference: Sisi had both the military and the police, and the intelligence branch on his side. But Erdogan had the support of loyal police and intelligence forces. This is why we saw the putschists attacking not just the presidential palace and parliament, but Police and Intelligence Headquarters. When the military coupists fired on the crowd the attempt was finished– the Egypt military never fired on the crowds in Tahir– nothing deligitimizes a coup attempt like live fire on civilians.
Although the elements that made up Sisi’s coup are roughly equivalent to the turkish putschists– secularists, military, deep state– there is a major difference btwn the islamic defectors (Noor Party in Egypt) and the turkish islamic defectors (Güllenists). That is, public support by KSA. Although the US was secretly very much in favor of the coup in Turkey, it could not be seen as publicly supporting it for a variety of reasons: NATO, Incirlik base, Syrian refugees, etc. Obama had hoped for an eventual “soft” coup and the ascendency of güllenist “reform” Islam– this is now delayed for at least 50 yrs. Who knows what Obama had to promise Erdogan to get Incirlik opened again before IS slaughtered all his kurdish mercenaries. But if Erdogan really wanted Gülen I am positive Obama would have had to give him up. The failed coup also showcased Incirlik value as hostage– it hosts some 50+ NATO nukes and is the lichpin of Obama’s kurdish mercenary protection plan.
I don’t think its in Erdogan’s advantage to extradite Gülen and try him– what he is doing is much more powerful– purging guellinsm from the military, the judiciary, and most importantly from academe. In Egypt Mubarak currated appointments of jurists to Al Azhar for 30 years– creating a sort of statist reform Islam that Sisi has been able to exploit. Now even Gullenist intellectuals are barred from leaving the country. Erdogan is simply using Gülen to embarrass Obama. The overture to Russia is just insurance. Obama thought he could bully/persuade Erdogan into doing any thing Obama wanted– that relationship is shattered now. Erdogan is rightly suspicious, and will be even more careful going forward.
The second difference is social media and flash mobs. Ataturk was a dictator that outlawed the arabic alphabet and the adhan– both of which Erdogan has restored. It is ironic especially that the adhan was used to call flash mobs to the street to protest the coup. Westerners seem to have a terribly hard time distinguishing between forced secularism of tyrants and consent of the governed (democracy). What actually destroyed the coup was a single CNN Turk anchorwoman and Erdogan facetiming his citizens on an iphone. I hope she got a medal.
When Sisi prepared to slaughter the peaceful protestors in Rabia square he shut down the cell towers– so the world wouldn’t see him burning muslims alive in tents and bulldozing their bodies. A big mistake of the putschists was failing to shut down the internet. So the coup was defeated by social media and flash mobs, while Erdogan’s loyal police and intel forces stood off the putsch long enough for Erdogan to mobilize the citizenry. The funniest thing to me is now that Erdogan has reaped incalculable power gains from the failed coup, there is all this western conspiracy theory about how the coup MUST have been staged! Because western sympathizers could never have possibly executed so poorly– 911 truthers is the best analogy.
To me the most important outcome of the failed coup is the epic destruction of güllenism– practically eradicated from Turkish society and culture, demonized and deligitimized for the next half century at minimum. The validated purge of discredited gullenist professors, jurists, and intellectuals on a vast scale…it says to me that Erdogan learned a great lesson from my hero Malcolm X.
Florida Frenzy continues with Disney swearing that it will find/kill the alligator that seized the toddler in the Seven Seas Lagoon– I’m unsure how that would be ascertained since the toddler’s body is intact. Alligators normally roll with their prey in the water and tear off a limb or appendage to swallow. But more importantly– there 1.5 million alligators in Florida and that alligator was behaving within the normal parameters of alligator behavior, as it continues to behave within those parameters. They wont find it (and prove its the one)– but they may certainly sacrifice some other alligator in the name of closure and PR.
I just watched Wolf Blitzer (CNN) interview some AF droid about Omar Mateen– this perfectly groomed, perfectly plastic Ken Doll/GI Joe clone blamed public opposition to bulk surveillance for proto-terrorists slipping through the net. NEWSFLASH: Bulk surveillance doesn’t ever catch lone wolves (or lone alligators). Because just as the alligators are behaving strictly within the norms of alligator behavior the proto-terrorists are behaving strictly within the norms of US citizen behavior. Even down to buying an AR-15. Is everyone that buys an Ar-15 a proto-terrorist? Is every muslim a proto-terrorist? Aye, there’s the rub.
The FBI reportedly had a million pieces of data on the Tsarnev brothers. Patriot Act bulk surveillance post 9/11 didn’t catch them. Bulk surveillance also didnt catch the Sandy Hook shooter, the Aurora theater shooter, the Virginia Tech shooter, the Charleston church shooter. This is emergent behavior and undetectable before the event because pre-event behavior is within the norm. I like to call them flash terrorists. The SanBernardino shooting was obviously a workplace shooting, linked to IS at the last moment. The Pulse shooting was a hate crime linked to IS at the last moment. If anything, IS seems extremely proficient at turning personal pathological psychologies into socio-political weapons.
How to solve this problem? Let IS sympathizers go to Sham. Take their passports, let them go. The reason US/UK/France/Brussels etc cant let them do that is because they would succeed in building an islamic state, much like the Israelis succeeded in building a jewish state in the 50s. And that cant be allowed.
The question for me is how long are the American people going to tolerate this state of affairs? Domestic terrorism is just agent meeting opportunity– and opportunity is American gun culture. Flash terrorism is on display in Israel everyday– but with knives instead of guns.
So think of Disney’s problem in trying to find that one terrorist alligator, even after the event. Even more impossible to find a terrorist alligator before the attack. All the alligators are Alligator Normal. And here is the crux of the problem of bulk surveillance– proto-terrorist behavior is American Normal, right down to buying an Ar-15.
For example, in sheer numerics, every day in Aleppo is an Orlando…much like every month in Iraq under OIF was a 9/11. But the amazing covalence of the story of the toddler sadly alligator-snatched off a Disney beach and the massive slaughter of LGBTs inside the Pulse nightclub is just simply remarkable. I expect to get a lot of haterade over this but the isomorphism is so striking.
Alligators, much like native Americans, have been hunted, their habitats extinguished, and corralled into ever shrinking display arenas where they can generate profit. Mirable dictu, continuous exposure to hairless monkeys and their young gawking at them has resulted in a reduction of the natural fear wild animals should feel for h. sapiens.
Visiting the Bahamas as a kid my dad often railed at the local dive shops’ exploitation of the guided “shark dives”, where scuba divers sat on the ocean floor back to back, armed with only a knife and a can of shark repellant, while the guides chummed the sharks all around them. My dad said the dive shops were teaching the sharks to associate humans with feeding and removing the fear of humans. Evolution and adaptation to available food sources.
Much in the same fashion 9/11 removed the “media halo” of the invincibility of America. This idea is explored at length in Idarat al Tawahhush, which is basically a field manual for crashing a superpower. A big part of the US islamic terror problem is media sensationalism. The crush of journos mobbing the Pulse nightclub story has naturally reached out to inflict 24/7 coverage of the local and accessible alligator story, probably causing financial harm to Disney, but amplifying the Pulse event as well. And publicity is gasoline on the fires of terror. “Successful” terror events spawn more terror events. Adam Lanza was reportedly going for a body count record.
The problem is, even meta-surveillance never sees the alligator until the attack. Or the terrorist.
The same as the Columbine killers, the Virginia Tech killer, the Fort Hood killer, the Tsarnevs, the Hebdo killers, the Paris bombers, the Brussels bombers, the SanBernardino slayers, and now Omar Mateen. But islamic terror seems especially good at recruiting the broken, the beaten and the damned into allegiance. Does anyone see a trend here? Islamic terror is on the rise in the 21st century, in both frequency and amplitude. Giving bayah to IS amplifies and legitimizes whatever grievances the attackers are holding.
How does one drain the swamp when the swamp is America’s backyard? If you cant flag ALL the potential attackers (and you cant), the optimal solution is to restrict opportunity for mass slaughter. And that means regulating assault weapons as a first step. America is in the process of stinging itself to death like a partly crushed scorpion.
Unjust America stumbles about the world, never considering the second and third order effects of military and political actions. But just as its not possible to get all the alligators out of Florida, its not possible to find every proto-terrorist in America. The proto-terrorists, whether RW redbrain tendency, sexually frustrated social pariahs, or islamists nominally motivated by the endless Sunni slaughter perpetrated by the USA, they are all submerged in the American socio-cultural swamp.
And you just never know when the Alligator is coming for you.