Free Markets, Free People

It all depends on how you define “existential threat”

Our Idiot-in-Chief recently opined that we shouldn’t take the JV team very seriously because they’re just not an existential threat.  Of course when I heard that I had to ruefully shake my head and remind myself that January of next year will be here soon. To paraphrase another yahoo that once occupied the Oval office, it depends on what the meaning of “existential” is.

If we’re doing a hand wave and pretending they’re a conventional force, then yes, they are not an “existential” threat.  They have no airforce capable of penetrating American airspace.  Certainly they have no navy.  And they haven’t any airlift capability or conventional weaponry that poses any threat to the American mainland.

But that’s not the war they’re waging is it?

Of course it isn’t.  They are, instead, waging what used to be termed “unconventional warfare”.  They’re using guerrilla tactics.  They’re targeting soft targets in far away lands.  And, according to a new study, they’ve upped the ante by plenty:

The deadly toll of terrorism around the globe has jumped nearly 800 percent in the past five years, according to an exhaustive new report that blames the alarming expansion of Islamist groups across the Middle East and Africa.

The nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism found that an average of nearly 30,000 people per year have been killed by terrorists since 2010, when terrorism’s death toll was 3,284. The authors of the study, which tabulated the numbers through the end of 2015, say that the exponential increase shows two troubling trends: More attacks are happening, and they tend to be deadlier than ever.

“Everyone has known that terrorist attacks have generally been increasing yearly since 9/11,” Steven Emerson, executive director of IPT, tells “But the magnitude of the increase of the attacks surprised us, especially in the past five years. Even if you look back at the annual reports issued by the most senior analysts in the top five intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies, there is not one report that predicted or forecasted that we would likely see such a massive escalation of attacks.”

The study notes that most of the attacks have been centered in the Middle East and Africa.

In addition to ISIS, groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia have been on the rise in the last few years. The Taliban has been resurgent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it took responsibility for Sunday’s Easter attack on Christians in Lahore; Kurdish-affiliated groups have been blamed for bombings in Turkey; Palestinian terrorists have waged at least two uprisings in Israel and Al Qaeda has continued to be active in Syria and Yemen, among other locations.

The terror groups, particularly those in the Middle East, have new access to deadlier weapons, which they have used to destabilize governments and terrorize citizens, said Emerson.

There is a method to their madness in the regions mentioned.  Many of the countries in which they’ve waged their terror campaigns have become failed states. So using their tactics of choice, they’ve certainly shown themselves to be a proven existential threat to weaker nations.

But we’re apparently not in that category according to our Prez.  And that’s because we’re big, we’re powerful and we are arrogant.  We also apparently don’t think outside the conventional box.

Meanwhile, as we watch and assess conventionally, the enemy moves and executes unconventionally to the point that the kill rate now is 10 times what it was a mere few years ago.

Oh, and it’s moving from the Middle East and Africa … to Europe and Asia:

They also predict that Asia will see more terror attacks as countries like Thailand, The Philippines and India are perceived as soft targets, and that due to the migrant crisis, violence in Europe will increase over the next two years as extremists continue to exploit the immigration system throughout the EU.

Meanwhile, where we are having “conventional” success against them, they are shifting away from there to more amenable soft targets:

“With ISIS losing large swaths of territory as well as key commanders, its center of operational gravity definitely appears to be shifting to Europe, where it can recruit among the more than 30 million Muslims who live in Europe,” Emerson said.

“Add to this mix the fact that thousands of mosques in Europe are controlled by Salfists, Wahabists and the Muslim Brotherhood – which indoctrinate their followers,” he said, “and you have a future recipe for a massive increase in Islamist terrorist violence.”

But remember, we don’t say “Islamic extremists”.  And what we won’t say and won’t acknowledge, we can’t defeat.  And what we won’t address and thus can’t defeat remains a very real existential threat, simply because we won’t confront them in the reality in which they operate.  When a mall or an airport or mass transit station go up in flames here, perhaps Mr. No Existential Threat will finally acknowledge the truth.

…. Nah!


12 Responses to It all depends on how you define “existential threat”

  • One crude nuke detonated in the U.S. will change all that “existential threat” bullshit.

    It may change it in ways that we won’t be able to recover from in a decade. Or ever.

  • There is no threat when you believe the target deserves what they get. Then its called ‘the chickens coming home to roost’.

  • They may not be an existential threat to the USA, but is that really the level at which the limit for taking action is set? Do I not remember the rationale for toppling Gadaffi and turning Libya into a jihadist and tribalist nightmare was the “responsibility to protect”? To quote the esteemed President…

    When our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.

    The threat to thousands upon thousands of minorities, Christians, random Muslims and so forth across Syria and Iraq is very much existential and contrary to most Western values and definitely our interests. But the R2P seems to have been conveniently flushed down the memory hole now it is all a bit harder than bombing the crap out of a regular army.

    • R2P disappeared from the vocabulary arsenal when Obama had to erase those red lines the world drew in Syria.

  • “Depends on….”
    yeah, great, bozo understands they can’t wipe us out.

    Neither could the 1st Air Fleet, Imperial Japanese Navy.

  • The 1st commitment in the Code of Conduct for Members of the United States Armed Forces states, “I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life.”

  • If you restrict the definition of “existential threat” to physical existence, then no they are not. at leaqst not at this time. If you include culture, “way of life”, and civilization in the definition then yes, they are an existential threat. Like Communism.

  • It’s not like the old days where you won a war by occupying the enemy capital. They probably can’t blow us up into submission but they certainly can bring us to our knees.

    Scenario –
    A fukking squirrel on a power line plunged the northeast into 2 days of darkness a couple years back. It’s not hard to imagine what a few strikes against not nearly defended enough power plants and dams can do.

    The savages choose a random school(s) for a Beslan-style attack. Most of us don’t send our kid to well-protected Sidwell Friends School.

    Simultaneous bombs or attacks on multiple random malls or busses. People get very afraid of leaving their house. What happens next?

    Don’t tell me they’re not a grave threat. You think it can’t happen here? They’re already pretty close to it in Europe

    • Heck, it has happened here – two clowns with a pressure cooker in Boston managed to kill and maim a bunch of people and caused the city to ‘shelter in place’ .

      We should be grateful the ones who get here appear to be fairly stupid.
      Then again, anyone who blows themselves up in a pizza parlor is probably not 1 credit point away from completing their 3rd doctorate in Applied Mechanics of the Universe.
      Something about those 8th century educations I suppose.