Many things the public considers to be new are actually old things returning under contemporary appearances. Consider the regular assassination of Bangladeshi bloggers by Islamic militants. The latest blogger to be hacked to pieces is Niloy Neel, who the BBC describes as “a Bangladeshi blogger known for his atheist views … He is the fourth secularist blogger to have been killed this year by suspected Islamist militants in Bangladesh.”
Ironically Neel may not have even been the target. According to Bangladeshi blogger Ananya Azad, it was him the Islamists were after according to the story in the Times of India.
“I was their target. Since I came to Germany, they killed Niloy. He was very close to me and always supported me. He was one of the person who was always told me, please go abroad otherwise they will kill you. Now, I am speechless!”
Neel must have thought that innocence or even non-involvement was a defense. What a silly idea. As Leon Trotsky observed, innocence means nothing at all. “You may not be interested in war,” he said, “but war is interested in you.”
Armed with a little knowledge of history one can readily understand why the Islamic State is engaged in the mass kidnapping and execution of Christians in Syria or why the Taliban has inaugurated its new leadership by blowing up a hotel patronized by infidels in Kabul. There should be no mystery as to why Islamic militants have attacked a hotel in Mali.
ISIS is doing what ever other aggressor has done for years. Engaging in anti-partisan warfare. As Trotsky memorably observed “an army cannot be built without reprisals. Masses of men cannot be led to death unless the army command has the death-penalty in its arsenal”. Like every occupying power before them ISIS has got to put the resistants down. Their murders are not “senseless violence” — as the State Department so often calls it — but part of a systematic, premeditated campaign. If you do a search on the keywords “isis execution opponents” Google will return 438,000 results.
That’s not coincidence or happenstance. It’s enemy action. Successful conquest, as Clausewitz observed, requires “anti-Partisan” warfare to pacify the population. Since Islam aims to achieve supremacy in all places and in all times, the Islamic State must apply suppression on a gigantic scale. ” Niloy Neel might be the latest to die, but he is hardly likely to be the last. Anti-partisan warfare takes a long time. The Nazis launched seven offensives against Tito.
The tactics of ISIS will resemble the methods used by the Nazis against the Poles, Yugoslavs and Czechs because they have the same goals. Hostage-taking, ethnic cleansing, reprisal and the wholesale elimination of all possible sources of resistance are methods as old as warfare.
Perhaps the most illustrative example of the resemblance of methods was the murder of 22,000 of the most prominent Poles on Stalin’s orders. It was so generic that the Soviets actually tried to blame the Germans for it. “The USSR claimed that the victims had been murdered by the Nazis in 1941, and continued to deny responsibility for the massacres until 1990, when it officially acknowledged and condemned the perpetration of the killings by the NKVD, as well as the subsequent cover-up by the Soviet government.”
Blokhin initially decided on an ambitious quota of 300 executions per night; and engineered an efficient system in which the prisoners were individually led to a small antechamber—which had been painted red and was known as the “Leninist room”—for a brief and cursory positive identification, before being handcuffed and led into the execution room next door. The room was specially designed with padded walls for soundproofing, a sloping concrete floor with a drain and hose, and a log wall for the prisoners to stand against. Blokhin would stand waiting behind the door in his executioner garb: a leather butcher’s apron, leather hat, and shoulder-length leather gloves. Then, without a hearing, the reading of a sentence or any other formalities, each prisoner was brought in and restrained by guards while Blokhin shot him once in the base of the skull with a German Walther Model 2 .25 ACP pistol. He had brought a briefcase full of his own Walther pistols, since he did not trust the reliability of the standard-issue Soviet TT-30 for the frequent, heavy use he intended. The use of a German pocket pistol, which was commonly carried by German police and intelligence agents, also provided plausible deniability of the executions if the bodies were discovered later. …
On 27 April 1940, Blokhin secretly received the Order of the Red Banner and a modest monthly pay premium as a reward from Joseph Stalin for his “skill and organization in the effective carrying out of special tasks”.
The Nazis had their stable of killers too. Unlike the crude Blokhin or Beria the chief National Socialist murderer was a classically trained musician and champion fencer named Reinhard Heydrich.
Ironically, the United States formed the Army Special Forces after the belated realization that it lacked the ability to effectively support resistance movements in occupied Europe during World War 2. “The original U.S. Army Special Forces function [was] unconventional warfare (UW), acting as cadre to train and lead guerrillas in occupied countries. The Special Forces motto, De oppresso liber (Latin: “to free the oppressed”) reflects this historical mission of guerrilla warfare against an occupying power.”
It would be interesting to know how much of this organizational tradition is still considered relevant or even legitimate by the new generation of ‘enlightened’ leaders. Perhaps it has been supplanted by “smart power” strategies. We know the “stay behind” mission came under attack from the Left on the grounds it was provocative and destructive of harmony between the Western capitalist nations and peaceful socialism. Whether it remains relevant to US policy makers is unclear.
What’s it doing in Syria or Iran for example? A New Yorker article argues that the Obama administration hasn’t quite made up its mind on how to deal with Islamic militancy. John Cassidy, in an article titled The Hillary Doctrine : “Smart Power” or “Back to the Crusades”? argued that there was some difference of opinion between Hillary and the president on the matter:
stories focussed on Clinton’s apparent dismissal of a phrase Obama has reportedly used to describe his approach to foreign policy: “Don’t do stupid stuff.” A Bloomberg headline blared, “HILLARY CLINTON FAULTS OBAMA FOR ‘STUPID STUFF’ POLICY.” Politico’s Maggie Haberman wrote, “Hillary Clinton has taken her furthest, most public step away yet from President Barack Obama, rejecting the core of his self-described foreign policy doctrine.” …
Ever since taking office, Obama has conspicuously tried to avoid making generalizations about Islamic extremism, or lapsing into loose talk about a clash of civilizations. …
Clinton, by contrast, placed the threat of radical Islam front and center, and she didn’t shy away from describing it. “One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States,” she said. “Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. Their raison d’être is to be against the West, against the Crusaders, against the fill-in-the-blank—and we all fit into one of these categories.”
The key issue, Clinton went on, is how to contain the jihadi threat, and the appropriate analogy, in her view, is the long battle against Marxism-Leninism. “You know, we did a good job in containing the Soviet Union,” she said. “We made a lot of mistakes, we supported really nasty guys, we did some things that we are not particularly proud of, from Latin America to Southeast Asia. But we did have a kind of overarching framework about what we were trying to do that did lead to the defeat of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communism. That was our objective. We achieved it.”
If this narrative is true, the president has not yet decided whether to “contain” radical Islam as his predecessors contained world Communism. Bringing back the furniture of the Cold War implicitly means refurbishing the ability to support partisans. The sad fate of US supported Syrian rebels like Division 30 strongly suggests that America’s not there yet.
For the moment and probably for always, every partisan must resist never knowing how it will end.
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