Horror in Orlando – “Some Truths” From a True Expert


A true expert for us is someone who has probably forgotten more about a subject than we know. One such is Dr. George Friedman who founded Stratfor & now has built Geopolitical Futures. We turned to his article in frustration over the brazen political partisanship displayed by TV & print journalists in their discussions about the horror in Orlando.  

This partisanship was different from the media reaction that followed the previous horror in San Bernadino last year. Perhaps that is because San Bernadino happened very early in the Presidential campaign and Orlando has happened at a very critical juncture in the Presidential campaign. We hope it is not because we as a society have become inured to such horrors & have no hope about stopping future ones. We wonder that because we recall how Indian society had become virtually inured to such terrorist horrors during the previous government. 

We think a cold hard professional analysis of what happened in Orlando is exceedingly important. So we share here some excerpts from an analysis published by George Friedman titled Facing Some Truths Behind the Florida Massacre.  

  •  “… Was this a criminal act or an act of war? … If these are criminal acts, then the criminals must be punished for their actions. If these are acts of war, then the enemy forces must be found and destroyed, not based on what they might or might not have done, but in order to destroy the enemy before they can strike again.”

What’s the difference?

  • “The rules of war and the rules of criminal justice are vastly different, as is their intent. Had President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his speech after Pearl Harbor that he intended to bring everyone who planned the Pearl Harbor attack to justice, he would have completely missed the point. It was not the pilots or the staff officers who had committed a crime. It was the Empire of Japan, as Roosevelt put it, that had committed an act of war”

Has America answered the basic question raised by Dr. Friedman? In his own words, 

  • “It is now almost 15 years since 9/11 and we still have not answered the core questions: Are we at war or fighting criminals? And if we are at war, who with exactly?”

Clearly the use of “15 years” implies that both Presidents Obama & Bush failed:

  • Bush further confused the issue by speaking of the Axis of Evil – Iraq, Iran and North Korea – saying that was in some sense responsible for 9/11. He also spoke of a Global War on Terror. Terror is a weapon of war. It is designed to terrorize the citizens of a country into either paralysis or overthrowing their government.  … As a means of warfighting, terrorism is similar to tanks or aircraft carriers in that they are tools of war, rather than the enemy itself …  Bush never clarified whether we were at war, and completely confused the issue of who we were at war with
  • “The conceptual confusion was further compounded by President Barack Obama. He not only pointed out the obvious, which is that the United States is not hostile to all Muslims, but also tried to take the position that the terrorists’ proclaimed belief in Islam was incidental to their actions. Others who take this position have also pointed out that guns in the United States kill more people than terrorism”
  • Obama’s view that Islam was incidental to terrorism was in fact a repetition of Bush’s point on the Axis of Evil. The target included all terrorists, Muslim or not. As for the argument on guns verses terrorism, it is both true and vague in its intent. It seemed to be saying that terrorism is more tolerable because of the prevalence of gun violence”

Dr. Friedman doesn’t keep us guessing for long. He states clearly – “there is no question that terrorism is an act of war and not a crime“. 

Wait a minute. Terrorism isn’t new. Haven’t nations become adept at dealing with terrorist organizations? France & Algeria dealt with terrorism 6 decades ago. Britain dealt with IRA effectively 2 decades ago. Israel dealt with PLA terrorism 3-4 decades ago. So what makes Islamic State different? Dr. Friedman explains:

  • “What al-Qaida learned, and IS grasps even better, is that the cost of carrying out terrorism is organization … Therefore, the Islamic State avoids contact with potential operatives. Instead, it encourages those with little or no direct contact with IS to design and execute terror attacks that maximize casualties and thereby shake the target country. Like all ideological movements, it is possible to both know the goal of the organization and participate in its realization in some way without having contact with the main organization.”

That is exactly what the terrorists did in executing their horrors in San Bernadino & Orlando. And that is what the next killer or killers can do. That is why it is easier to bomb ISIS in Syria but much harder to stop the next killers within America. And where would these killers come from? As Dr, Friedman writes:

  • “The problem is defining the enemy. We know that all Muslims are not jihadists. We also know that all jihadists are Muslims


  • “The obvious answer is that the West is at war with the jihadist strand of Islam. The problem is that this strand is not only covert, but also embedded in the Muslim community as a whole”

 So until ISIS starts recruiting Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Sikhs into being passionate supporters of ISIS jihad, we must look within the Muslim community to identify potential mass killers to be able to prevent another Orlando or San Bernandino. 

Here we move away from Friedman’s geopolitics into our favorite area – Arithmetic. More specifically, the comparison of two numbers. The first is the number of FBI field agents & FBI analyst/support/command staff and the second is the number of suspects FBI needs to monitor within the Muslim community. If the first number is much larger than the second, American society can rest easy & feel secure. When the second number is larger than the first, we get Orlando. The Orlando killer was known to the FBI. But after monitoring him for awhile, the FBI just had to end that surveillance and move on to other suspects. 

So basic arithmetic points out that:

  • either America will have to dramatically increase the staff, resources & legal freedom of the FBI or
  • the number of suspects to monitor within the Muslim community has to be materially reduced.

As we said, this is pure Arithmetic. It is impervious to passion or partisanship. That is important because, according to George Friedman, the real problem is:

  • “… we like to lie to ourselves, and that’s the real enemy


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