How one Russia-hating Polish psychopath created Hell on Earth, gifting us modern terrorism
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Submitted by the author, exclusive to RI. It originally appeared behind a paywall at Patreon.
We heartily encourage one and all to support him on Patreon - Orlov is simply one of the best writers on Russia, and a bewildering variety of other completely fascinating topics.
The minimum one has to pay per month to read him is $1. A bargain if there ever was one.
The word “terrorism” is getting thrown around a lot. Wipe it out in one place, and it pops up in another. Outside of various places in which terrorism forms a backdrop of foreign invasion and civil war, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where the drumbeat of terrorist attacks is constant and increasing, terrorism is not one of the primary causes of death. Among Western nations, death due to choking on food is still far in the lead, not to mention fatal falls due to broken furniture and accidental impalements on household implements. But such deaths are hardly ever staged as public art pieces, whereas acts of terrorism are quintessentially public acts, designed to panic large numbers of people and to cause even larger numbers to feel unsafe in public spaces and while traveling—for a while, until the effect wears off. And then it’s time for another one.
The current spate of terrorist attacks in the West smacks of Commedia dell’Arte: there are set, mask-wearing types enacting scripted roles, with some improvisation. Certain touches, such as a perpetrator’s passport, in undamaged condition, left at the scene of the crime, have become de rigeur. It is also important that the perpetrator be known to the authorities charged with fighting terrorism, to maximize the sense of insecurity and the general embarrassment.
The battle cry of “Allahu akbar!” is used to signal that this is not an unsuccessful experiment involving kitchen cutlery, the inability to keep a car off the sidewalk or the result of technical difficulties with one’s explosive vest. Those would be suicides. Yes, special effects such as detonating a small nuclear charge 50m in the bedrock under a skyscraper or two (or three) lend credence to your cause, but really all you need is a box cutter... and a warm bath.
Terrorism used to be a tactic used by popular insurgencies. The Zionists terrorized the Palestinians (using money from American Jews), the IRA terrorized the Unionists (using money from American Irish), and so on. There was usually some financial support for such groups, and normally it came from abroad. Because funding terrorism has traditionally been frowned upon in polite company, such funding had to be kept clandestine, and the schemes that were hatched to keep them that way sometimes became quite Baroque. A prime example is the funding of the Nicaraguan Contras by the Reagan administration, which sold weapons to Iran in circumvention of an arms embargo and tried to funnel the proceeds to the Contras. A rare moment of terrorism-inspired hilarity was afforded by Oliver North, the “mute Marine,” when he appeared before Congress and was asked to explain himself, giving rise to this bit of comedy.
Terrorism has long been a favorite form of combat among certain groups because it is a lot cheaper than other types of warfare. To field an army, you have to provide it with quarters, rations, uniforms, pocket money, medical care and much else. And then when you send it into action, they better not die; anything over a 10% casualty rate causes morale to plummet. Also, for an army to be effective, it has to consist of first-rate people: intelligent, fearless and fit.
Not so with terrorism. Here, you have to provide just three things: indoctrination, training and weapons. Everything else—shelter, food, medical care, pocket money—are provided free of charge by the target society once the terrorist has been inserted into it. A 100% casualty rate is generally considered acceptable and does not cause morale problems, because the explicit goal of the terrorist is to die heroically.
Indoctrination is by far the most important factor in reaching this goal. Its best targets are weak-minded, weak-willed, easily dominated individuals with an acute sense of grievance—losers, essentially. The best candidates come from a long line of losers, so that their ancestors’ grievances can be weaponized as well. The ideology that can be used most effectively to brainwash them is a sort of mystical primitivism: you have suffered because of infidels; become one of the righteous, kill the infidels and ascend unto heaven.
The rest of it consists of lessons on how to be righteous—not at all like the filthy infidel pigs—and the most important aspect of the training is the operant conditioning for blind, unquestioning obedience using both positive and negative reinforcement. Some weapons training may be provided as well. Such weaponized losers are far easier and cheaper to produce in large quantities than competent and talented military cadres.
Producing an effective terrorist onslaught requires good cost control; because terrorists are disposable items, you need many more of them. Indoctrination is by far the most expensive part of the production process, and for purposes of indoctrination the brand of militant Islam practiced by the Wahhabi sect (which rules Saudi Arabia and Qatar) seems the most cost-effective. Other Moslems, be they Sunni or Shia, refer to Wahhabis as a “vile sect” or a “Satanic cult.” But Wahhabism does solve a problem: it is perfect for indoctrinating losers and turning them into mass murderers.
Unlike dim-witted angry losers, candidates for competent and talented military cadres are in short supply throughout most of the developed world. It’s still possible to scare some up in a pinch, but only for a worthy cause, such as defending the motherland. If what you need is an expeditionary force to die so that the bankers can go on getting richer, or to seize control of natural resources from which the bankers want to profit, then the best you can hope for is the same caliber of recruit that makes good terrorists—slum dwellers or the rural poor with no other job prospects.
You can also hire mercenaries, who can be slightly more competent than those recruited from among the underclass, but effective mercenaries are expensive and not the least bit dispensable. In fact, mercenaries tend to be downright allergic to dying, and so the best that can be done with them is to use them to “train and equip” what are euphemistically called “local security forces.” Or you can just skip the whole silly charade and “train and equip” some terrorists.
After losing in Vietnam, the US military found that it had a major problem. There were still geopolitical skirmishes and natural resource grabs on the agenda, but it had nobody to fight in them because the US military was suffering from the Vietnam syndrome and had to remain confined to barracks. Yes, terrorists could be pressed into service for various local, low-grade conflicts, to grind down some uncooperative regime, but that wasn’t enough to help with the big picture of superpower geopolitics.
And then an evil genius by the name of Zbigniew Brzeziński came along, and with Jimmy Carter’s help hatched an ingenious plan to use Saudi-brainwashed, CIA-armed terrorists (called mujaheddin at the time) to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Soviets eventually decided that they had had enough and pulled out. Their big mistake was in trying to do the right thing: to establish and support a modern state in what was and remains to this day an essentially Medieval, feudal, tribal country. The Americans tried to do the wrong thing—wreck Afghanistan as a way of handing defeat to the Soviets, and then ignored it and let it collapse—and in this alone they have succeeded.
Brzeziński died earlier this year, to enthusiastic rounds of applause and loud cries of “It’s about time!” The evil that his genius plan had unleashed on the world has given us the Taliban in Afghanistan (soon to be in charge there again, alongside ISIS, once the Americans finally give up). Turning Afghanistan into a terrorist breeding ground then gave us 9/11. However you wish to spin it, that event featured some terrorists—whether as essential personnel or as props and extras. That, in turn, gave us Iraq and Afghanistan. And Iraq gave us ISIS, first in Iraq and then in Syria. And now ISIS has spread to Libya, Afghanistan and the Philippines. Had Brzeziński died 40 years ago—from choking on his food, say, or from a freak accident with kitchen cutlery—then there is a good chance that none of this would have happened.
If it weren’t for Brzeziński, the children of the many millions who died or were displaced as a result of the Soviet collapse, which was triggered in some measure by the fiasco in Afghanistan, would perhaps still be alive and living at home today. The success of the “train and equip” terrorist mission in Afghanistan then convinced the Americans and the Saudis to try the same thing in Russia’s province of Chechnya. The USSR was by then no more, but, just to be thorough, they also wanted to destroy Russia. In went the Wahhabi brainwashers and the CIA weapons peddlers; out went corpses of Russian servicemen, along with plenty of dead Chechens. Two bloody wars later, the Russians won. This, by the way, makes Russia the only country in the world which has the knowhow to defeat terrorism. They proved it in Chechnya, which is now loyal, stable and prosperous, and they are proving it again in Syria.
Meanwhile, Brzeziński, unable to rest on his laurels as the most evil-minded psycho ever born, hatched more brilliant plans: he decided that Russia could no longer be an empire without the Ukraine, and that therefore the Ukraine should be brainwashed into a sort of anti-Russia. He was by then too senile to notice that Russia was no longer an empire and had no desire to become one again, but everyone in Washington just nodded. The Ukrainian Nazis—a special cultivar imported from the US and Canada—provided the congenital loser raw material to weaponize.
That plan was fully operationalized by 2014, and since then the Ukraine has been plumbing the depths of each of the five stages of collapse. I am only 99% unhappy with this result; 1% of me thinks, “What a wonderful case study of collapse!” But the now very poor Ukrainians, once the richest, most prosperous Soviet Socialist Republic, certainly didn’t deserve any of this. Here, Russia’s anti-terrorist knowhow has so far been of limited help: it froze the conflict, but it could not stop and reverse the slide into failed-statedom. Nevertheless, victory in the Ukraine has proven as elusive for Zbignew’s Mousketeers as in Chechnya or in Syria.
Meanwhile, other events have overshadowed the fiasco in the Ukraine: the all-but-assured defeat of the Mousketeers in Syria has spelled trouble in the Wahhabi-terrorist paradises of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Preposterously, Saudi Arabia, along with Trump (who is soft-skulled when it comes to foreign policy, along with much else) has accused Quatar of sponsoring terrorism! “You mean, just like you? No! We couldn’t possibly afford to keep up with you!” would be a most reasonable Qatari retort. Clearly, this is all complete nonsense. But then what is really going on?
I believe it’s simple. Everyone can see that the US military empire is circling the drain. All you have to do is look at the action in Mosul and Raqqa. To forestall the inevitable, Trump trying to milk the Saudis for all they are worth, and to shake down NATO “partners” (which Putin has recently downgraded to “vassals”). But even firing a money cannon in the general direction of the US military-industrial complex isn't going to help because of certain inconvenient facts on the ground.
Syria has been lost, and with it the long-cherished plan to build a gas pipeline through it running from Qatar through Turkey and then on to the EU, providing an alternative to Russia’s Gazprom. The other plan, which the Russians prefer, is to run a pipeline from Iran, through Iraq, Syria and Turkey, to the EU. Qatar and Iran share a giant offshore gas field that would provide the gas for this new pipeline. Qatar will pay plenty for access to that pipeline, because shipping liquefied natural gas, as it is forced to do now, is even more expensive.
Apparently, now that terrorism isn’t working like it’s supposed to, Wahhabism is turning out to be not so useful and the Wahhabis are starting to terrorize each other. Hate-filled zealotry is no longer enough to keep the lights on and the air conditioners humming. Of course, if it stops working in one place, it may simply be time to try it in another. But perhaps not; in this networked world, you can't be a complete loser somewhere without becoming known as a complete loser everywhere.
With terrorists, as with insects, you can swat at the individual ones, or you can lay out some bait for them to take back to their nest. The idea of Qatar buying into the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey gas pipeline is just such bait: it is making the Wahhabi terrorist sponsors turn on each other. This is actually a most welcome development. I hope that Hell has cable television for Zbigniew to watch as he is slow-cooked to perfection.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Anyone is free to republish, copy, and redistribute the text in this content (but not the images or videos) in any medium or format, with the right to remix, transform, and build upon it, even commercially, as long as they provide a backlink and credit to Russia Insider. It is not necessary to notify Russia Insider. Licensed Creative Commons