Thursday, June 4, 2015

Factchecking David Kilcullen

I was listening recently to Islamic State & global terrorism: where to now? (1/6/15) on Radio National's Big Ideas program.

Presenter Paul Barclay was interviewing David Kilcullen, introduced as "a former Australian army colonel, with a PhD in insurgency movements. He has been a counterterrorist adviser to the US and worked closely with Iraq War supremo, General David Petraeus, and US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Kilcullen is critical of many aspects of the West's strategy, post 9/11, which, he argues, led to the rise of Islamic State. He warns the global terrorist threat is now the new normal. So how do we defeat ISIS?"

Nothing special. Just another of those bland, softball ABC interviews with a reliably safe subject who'll possibly go on, like other 'clanking colonels' before him, Mike Kelly (Lab) and Andrew Nikolic (Lib), to become a celebrity candidate for one or the other party. Parachuted into a safe seat would seem appropriate here.

Still, at least Kilcullen did get around to stating the bleeding obvious, namely that, "If we hadn't invaded Iraq, there wouldn't be any ISIS today."

Anyway, somewhere towards the end of the show, the interview took a somewhat more interesting turn, for me at least, when Kilcullen mentioned Israel.

He had just been telling us that the West needed to get serious about ISIS, by which he meant eliminating it. At which point Barclay wondered whether the US might not be feeling a tad war weary these days. (The US war weary? We wish!)

Kilcullen responded by asserting that, unfortunately, the price you pay for isolationism is a police state, or words to that effect. Presumably, he meant that if we didn't get stuck into ISIS over there, ISIS would be stuck into us over here. He went on:

If anyone's ever been to Israel - I have not, but I've heard from people who have, that very domestic security stuff is the price you pay for taking...

Paul Barclay: Well, you destroy democracy in order to save it.

David Kilcullen: Exactly.

Damn! I wish Barclay had let Kilcullen finish his bloody sentence, so that I don't have to infer what he was going to say. Anyway, what I imagine Kilcullen PhD meant was that poor little Israel is so menaced by Palestinian baddies that it has no choice but to erect walls and barriers and checkpoints, and flood the streets with security personnel and troops, otherwise... KABOOM!

IOW, if I've got him right, Kilcullen PhD seriously has no idea just who is menacing who in ISRAELI-OCCUPIED Palestine. Extraordinary!

And then you've got Barclay (described on RN's website as "a Walkley Award-winning journalist and broadcaster with an appetite for ideas and in-depth analysis and discussion," and is 53-years old to boot - no spring chicken in other words) invoking the word "democracy" in relation to Israel and not even hinting that what may superficially resemble a police state in Israel is actually the wherewithal needed to keep a COLONISED and OCCUPIED people down.

Anyway, Barclay continued along these lines:

I used to host a national talkback program on Radio National during the very hot period after 9/11 and you get a lot of free advice on how to deal with the global terrorist threat... and the view that I got from many, many people was that if we just gave the Palestinians back their land, let them have their own state, if America stopped roaming around the world as if it owned the place, and if you treated Muslims and their culture with the respect they deserved [we wouldn't have a problem]. What is your answer to that?

DK: First answer is to quote Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, who was asked this very question: 'What can we do that's gonna change your calculus?' And he said, 'We are not fighting so you will offer us something, we are fighting to destroy you.' Yes, there are probably people out there who you could deal with but there's still a very hard core of people who are not about some kind of deal with the West and if we just change our behaviour this can all end. These [people] are about totally redefining all human beings on the planet. So there's this element out there that's...

PB: And they're the people you say we need to annihilate?

DK: Their ability to function as a state, yes, not kill every last one.

Now if we just stop there. Kilcullen PhD has just broadcast to the planet that Hassan Nasrallah's Hezbollah is coming to get us. Seriously.

Google that quote about "...we are fighting to destroy you," and you find it's attributed not to Hezbollah's current secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, but to a dude (a word Kilcullen loves to toss around) by the name of Hussein Musawi. You also find that the word 'destroy' is replaced by 'eliminate'.

The 'Massawi' quote can be found, for example, in such fear-mongering Islamophobic rants as America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It (2006) by Mark Steyn (p 151), and Citizen-Soldier Handbook: 101 Ways Every American Can Fight Terrorism (2009) by Michael Mandaville (p 6). It is in the nature of these things, of course, that no citation or context is supplied, just the same old sentence endlessly recycled.

And what do you know? It even pops up in Kilcullen PhD's own book, Counterinsurgency (2010), followed merely by this: "Hussein Massawi, Hezbollah (2003)."  (p 167)

So who is Hussein Mussawi? In Steyn and Mandaville he's described as "the former leader of Hezbollah."

But look him up in some reputable tome on the subject of Hezbollah and you'll find as follows:

Hezbollah: Born With a Vengeance (1997), Hala Jaber:

"Islamic Amal had been started by Hussein Musawi in 1982, following Nabih Berri's political stance towards the Israeli invasion. Musawi was one of the few visible radicals in the early 80s. He was one of the many militants who held America responsible for encouraging and allowing Israel to invade and occupy Lebanon. His continuous denunciations of the West and his close relations with Iranian radicals made him a prime suspect during the West's desperate search for the names behind the new, invisible Islamic phenomenon." (pp 53-4)

In the Path of Hizbullah (2004), Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh:

Hussein Mussawi is mentioned merely as the leader of Islamic Amal.

Hizbullah: The Story From Within (2005), Naim Qassem:

No mention.

Hezbollah: A Short History (2007), Augustus Richard Norton:

No mention.

IOW, Hussein Mussawi is not a leader of Hezbollah

Interestingly, if you consult Kilcullen PhD's own book, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One (2009), this is what you get on Hezbollah:

"Hizballah, as a Shi'a organization that embodies elements of terrorist, insurgent, propaganda,charity, and social work, with a global reach [WTF?!], profound political influence in the Levant, and a client-proxy relationship with the Iranian regime, is a non-state instance of expanding Shi'a influence." (p 18)

There's no mention whatever here of Hezbollah's primary characteristic, namely that it is a Lebanese resistance movement born in response to the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon in 1982. Mind you, he's quite capable of describing East Timor's FRETILIN, which fought a guerilla war against Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor from 1975 to 1999, as a resistance organisation (p 208). But Hezbollah? Forget it. How could anyone possibly resist an Israeli invasion and occupation?

Kilcullen PhD resumes:

And the second is this bar fight analogy. So the situation we're in is George Bush walks into a bar and punches a bunch of people and starts a big bar fight and then hands it over to Obama who sits quietly on his bar stool, and maybe that's a great solution if you haven't already punched a bunch of guys and started a bar fight, but now we're in this fight so you gotta deal with it.

The Anglo-US invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a bar fight? Seriously? What nonsense, it was a bloody home invasion!


Anonymous said...

The "bar fight' did not start with George Bush one or two. The Home Invasion and ongoing rampage against the neighbours started in 1917 with the Balfour Declaration.

It is no surprise that it not over until the stolen property is recovered.

MERC said...

Surely you don't expect a dude like David Kilcullen PhD to know what the Balfour Declaration (or Sykes-Picot for that matter) is all about?

Anonymous said...

How is it that the USA, UK and Australia, as David Kilcullen puts it, "walk into a bar and punches a bunch of people and starts a big bar fight" and at the same time claim to be "HONEST BROKERS" in some kind of warped fantasy called "the peace process"? This is delusional and anyone who accepts this proposition is delusional.

There is a principle at law in Australia that one must come to equity "with clean hands", me thinks this principle should exclude bar room brawlers from any role in equity.

Time for 'the lock out' of these drunks and brawlers, they are drunk with power.

Vacy said...

The government's attack on the ABC is a cynical furphy given the ABC propounds faithfully US/Oz/Israeli policy on the ME. Thanks for a most interesting read and counter-truths.