Maybe Mossad and the CIA can subcontract to "Maniak"
It seems to me (again, from my comfortable office chair here in Albany, CA) that the very traits that make organizations like Al Qaeda and Hezbollah hard to combat militarily (decentralized “network” structure, extensive support from civilians, aggressive recruitment to replace killed members) ought to make them easy to infiltrate and spy on. Every time the US or Israel does something that pisses off the Muslim world, people talk about how it will help terrorists with recruitment. Well, why aren’t a sizeable portion of their recruits American or Israeli agents? If that’s not doable, how about Saudi, Egyptian, or Jordanian agents? All of those countries’ governments have a lot to fear from Islamic terror organizations, so they have plenty of motivation to help us out. There’s probably a lot going on in this area that I just don’t know about. But I also suspect American intelligence agencies have become to enamored with the high-tech toys and abstruse data-mining algorithms (to say nothing of infringement of our constitutional rights) of signals intelligence (SIGINT), and have neglected recruiting agents, “flipping” people, bribery, and just plain talking to people (HUMINT).
Admittedly, I’m totally talking out of my ass here. Maybe I just don’t understand how hard it is to do. Any education (links, book recommendations, etc.) on this subject would be welcome.
*A “Friedman” is a unit of time measuring six months in length. Named after columnist and author Thomas Friedman, it was coined by Atrios, in response to Friedman’s repeated assertions that the “next six months” are critical to determining the outcome in Iraq.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan links to the same NYT missile article and does some Middle East armchair strategizing (Everyone, including this blog, is doing it):
The scenarios are various. In an escalating civil war in Iraq, the Shiites will surely win - and massacres of Sunnis will become the daily headlines. What we do with our troops at that point will depend on events, but active involvement on one side or another would be a disaster. The potential for a wider Sunni-Shiite war across the Muslim Middle East is also now a real one - like the religious wars in Europe in the seventeenth century, only with far more destructive potential. Some might advise the U.S. to strike a deal with the beleaguered Assad regime in Syria, or put its weight behind the now-very-nervous predominantly Sunni autocracies as a counter-weight to Iran. I'm not so sure. Decades of backing such autocrats helped create the Islamist wave. Picking another losing side looks like short-sighted masochism to me.