How Can We Stop ISIS? We Need To Crush ISIS Now

I was as shocked as everyone else was at the terrorist attack in Orlando.  I don’t want to point to any political leaders response, since they are talking their book.  Spy are their supporters and detractors.   I just want to stop ISIS now.

Over history, it’s been proven one person can make a difference.  Winston Churchill was a one man force in England prior to 1939.  He was correct, and severely critical of the British government response to the rise of Hitler.  He endured many slings and arrows because of his advocacy.  No one wants to pay the price of war to stop something if they think ignoring it or appeasing it can stop it.

Glenn Reynolds wrote a very interesting commentary in USA Today.  In it, he says,

Or maybe it’s even fifth-generation warfare: We’re not fighting armies. We’re not fighting guerrillas. We’re not even fighting traditional terrorists. Instead, we’re fighting an opponent who turns apparently law-abiding citizens (Mateen was licensed as a security guard and thus had passed background checks) into killers without anyone noticing. They’re not actually “lone wolf” terrorists; they’re more like human drones, attacking distant targets on command without warning.

ISIS is a decentralized network.  The only way to beat ISIS is with a very strong, active, and decisive decentralized network.

In the venture capital industry, we have known that networks beat hierarchy all the time.  Big businesses have been toppled or threatened by little startup networks.  Most of America knows the government is a huge vertical silo that is totally wrapped up in hierarchy.  It’s sclerotic and unresponsive.

Vertical silos and closed networks suffer from groupthink.  It’s fatal to them.  We are suffering from groupthink in the US-and have been since 9/11 or maybe even before.

Radical Muslim terrorists have been lucky.  Many people around the world hate the US for their support of Israel.  They get their emotions mixed up in the dual debates of gun control and gay rights.  Many people, Americans and foreigners alike, truly don’t like America and what it stands for.  In their obsession with “tolerance”, they tolerate Muslim terrorism and don’t tolerate other things.  As long as the things they don’t tolerate line up with what they are thinking and feeling inside, stamping them out by any means necessary is okay.

If we are going to win-and we have to win, the US needs to set up a networked model and enable it.  Individuals need to be empowered to act.

Today, we have a lot of groupthink and deflection of the core issues.  How many messages have I heard that we need gun control, that we need more tolerance of gays, that we need to have empathy?

I don’t have empathy for terrorists.  They want to kill me for what I believe in and destroy the country I believe in.  It’s us against them and the sooner we realize it the faster we can set up networks to stamp it out.

I want to be clear, this is a small sect that is causing the consternation.  Correct me if I am wrong, I don’t think most Muslims agree with them.   I do think that many of them are scared to speak out.  They don’t need to publicly disavow them every single day unless a Republican should disavow the John Birch Society or a Democrat the KKK.  But, they do need to make it clear that this stuff isn’t going to be tolerated-and they need to make sure conditions are not hospitable to terrorists.  It takes one person to make that Churchillian first step.  Who is it going to be and what will it take for people to follow?

We might like to think we can bomb them back to the Stone Age.  We can’t.  I have heard presidential candidates talk about it and it’s off base.  More war is not the answer.  Opening up new fronts is not the answer.  Talk to veterans who fought in the Pacific during WW2.  They experienced an especially brutal form of combat.  I am reminded of Eugene Sledge’s passage in his book “With The Old Breed”,

My experiences on Peleliu and Okinawa made me believe that the Japanese held mutual feelings for us. They were a fanatical enemy; that is to say, they believed in their cause with an intensity little understood by many post-war Americans – and possibly many Japanese, as well.

This collective attitude, Marine and Japanese, resulted in savage, ferocious fighting with no holds barred. This is not the dispassionate killing seen on other fronts or in other wars. This was a brutish, primitive hatred, as characteristic of the horror of war in the Pacific as the palm trees and the islands. To comprehend what the troops endured then and there, one must take into full account this aspect of the nature of the Marines’ war.

No one likes war or violence.   It is un-American.  Unlike other wars, taking and holding ground does America no good.  We are all tired of the current war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Our troops that have served multiple tours there are more tired of it than we are.  You cannot unsee the things they have seen.  But, in order to crush a fanatical enemy we are going to have to utilize violence.  They cannot be persuaded.

ISIS and Al Queda along with the network of radical Muslims who support them are a fanatical enemy.  They believe in their cause with an intensity not recognized by most people, including people that practice the religion of Islam.  The fanatics are present in every country, and have infiltrated many governments.  Only transparency will root them out and expose them for what they are.  Networks bring transparency.

Only 1% of our citizens wear a military uniform.  If we are going to destroy ISIS, 100% of our citizens need to be activated.  The way to do that is with a network.

Recognizing that this is a very different kind of war, a fifth generation war, should lead our country to a different kind of tactic.  Yes, we will have to commit people, resources and bullets to crush the enemy.  But, we are going to have to think differently about how we do it.  Our current strategy is wrong.

Network beats hierarchy.  Start there.  Solve the problem of building a countervailing network that listens, ingests, digests and then tenaciously and quickly acts to eliminate the enemy with overwhelming lethal force.  Enable all of us, civilians and military personnel to participate.

This struggle isn’t about gun control or access to AR-15’s.  There are plenty of other weapons that can be jury rigged to shoot lots of rounds of ammunition fast.  It’s not about gay hatred.  Fundamental right wing Christians and ultra right wing Orthodox Jews abhor gays.  They aren’t going into public spaces and killing people for it.

This threat is about radical terrorists that seek to eliminate Western Civilization.  They aren’t country specific.  Their commonality is that their ideology was spawned in the Middle East.  They practice an extreme religious cult that they sell as Islam.  The sooner we recognize, and articulate that, the sooner we can band together to crush it.

By the way, it’s Flag Day today.  It’s not hip to be patriotic anymore, but I know the mental and physical cost people paid so we can fly that flag.  I am flying it.  I wish the Americans that were murdered in Orlando the other day could be here to see it.

  • awaldstein

    Nicely reasoned on an obviously important topic my friend and I thank you.

    I also am completely not on your side of this.

    Of course we want Isis crushed. That is obvious.

    We of course need leadership. But the knowledge to be successful except that we need leaderships is not connected to leaders or knowledge of the past imo.

    This enemy has nothing to do with the enemy as defined in your examples. Not as I see this.

    There will never be a decisive victory either. I look to Israel for undertandings as this is a fight for our very survival.

    This keeps me awake.

    • me too. I think Obama has done a very poor job of leading. He should have looked to Churchill, or even Lincoln as an example. Could you imagine Lincoln using a euphemism or deflecting the word “slavery” or “slave owner”?

  • Jonathan

    The first thing we need is leaders who acknowledge that radical Islam — not “violent extremism”, not other Americans — is the enemy. Once we get such leaders we can use our problem-solving skills and networks to prevail. But until then the best tactics and tech won’t help us.