A strategic perspective on the Paris attacks

When the USSR collapsed, and a lot of countries that used to be under their influence switched sides, military analysts from the capitalist block got first hand access to some of the Soviet's most advanced weapons. Before that, they had to rely on sightings, radar bleeps, blurry aerial pictures of mysterious-looking machinery that could be of a new type of tank, harvester, or the doomsday weapon. One machine that made every pentagon analyst crap their breeches was the MiG-25. Fastest interceptor in the world by a large margin, radar-clocked at Mach 3. It's mere existence neutered the strategic bomber fleet of the USA. If it was long range, it might even be able to deliver nukes before the war declaration went on television. If it was stealth, we'd only find out when we saw the mushrooms. Mass hysteria ensued. Defense budgets skyrocketed. The F-15 development was accelerated. Hollywood prepared countermeasures of its own kind with the appalling Clint Eastwood "Firefox" movie staring a soviet superjet that could be controlled by thought.

When they eventually got their hands on a live specimen, they realized that the MiG-25 was a publicity stunt. Flying it at mach 3 would fry the engine so bad they'd just toss the whole plane. It was too heavy, relied on outdated avionics and wasn't much of a threat. Which was confirmed when the USA air force was confronted with it in the Bush family wars over Iraq.

Insight: When lacking information, analysts will assume some exaggerated apocalyptic version of the worst, however unrealistic. Better safe than sorry, right?

It seems not to matter how much reality ends up confirming that it wasn't so bad, opinion-makers will keep attributing super-powers to enemies they don't know much about or have trouble understanding.

Now, in the wake of some pretty well organized attacks in Paris, Daesh is being painted as this unbeatable hydra that feeds on babies and can strike anywhere it fancies, unnoticed by our notoriously overreaching paranoid spies.

They might be right. As in: it is not impossible that they are right. But recent history has highlighted a pattern for us, and we'd be idiots not to pick it up. Most likely, Daesh only has a fraction of the power and capabilities that they claim to have and the press is happy to parrot. Most likely, they are incapable of picking targets outside of the little territory they control, and must rely on crossing fingers that some of their fans will raise hell on their own. Which is most likely what happened in Paris. It definitely happened in Ankara. Daesh even forgot to claim the bombing.

"The global strategy of Daesh: Who's next after Paris" is a compelling title, but is most probably framing the problem in a really misleading way. And, in all truth, trying to understand how killing people on a terrasse in Paris helps statebuilding a Caliphate in the Levant is an exercise in frustration. It will lead to specious conclusions such as: Daesh wants to make the French hate the Muslims so that the Muslims of France get mistreated so that they get pissed and get sympathetic with whoever works against France, which is not really what Daesh does, but whatever, this sentence is so long that, by now, you'll just agree. It's as dumb as if the government of Israel started to attack civilians in the USA with the hopes of making Jews there more sympathetic to Israel.

If Daesh really could strike wherever it fancied, it is not Ankara, Paris or Beirut that would bleed, but Moscow. Bringing France or more into the war can only be bad for the Caliphate. The convoluted explanation in italics above needs to be convoluted, because it makes no fucking sense.

Daesh doesn't want Muslims to kill kuffas in France. Daesh needs all the help it can get to carve itself a territory in the Levant, put an end to the war, be recognized as a state and prosper. Daesh needs Muslims to take up arms in the Levant and help them overthrow Assad, consolidate or expand their territory in Iraq and kick the Russians out.

The Paris attacks only tells us one thing about Daech's global strategy, and it is that they have none. They're only concerned about the tactical reality of ripping out land from existing states through warfare. Whatever happens around the world is just fallout.

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