Life as an Extreme Sport

Fourth Generation War

Stolen from William Gibson’s blog, William Lind’s commentary on the moral level of war:

In recent weeks, the indirect approach the Marines adopted in April in Fallujah, when they withdrew instead of storming the city, began to pay off. A reduction of American pressure allowed fissures within the Iraqi resistance to appear and grow. Fallujah natives were beginning to turn against outsiders, most of whom represent extreme Islamism, America’s real enemy. Such splits are of the utmost importance in Fourth Generation war, because they operate at war’s most powerful level, the moral level. There is a vast moral difference between us killing fighters for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Fallujah and the locals doing so.

If American military leaders understood Fourth Generation war, they would slowly, patiently encourage the local Iraqi resistance to go after the outsiders, providing rewards and even assistance, if that was wanted (all done covertly, of course). The first genuine American victory in Iraq would be the day the local resistance asked for our (again, covert) help.

Unfortunately, our leaders do not understand the Fourth Generation, so it appears we are about to throw this opportunity away. We continue to bomb and shell Fallujah, which pushes our enemies toward each other. We seem to be readying an all-out assault on the city, which will have the usual result when Goliath defeats David: a moral defeat for Goliath. Many Iraqis will die, the city will be wrecked (as always, we will promise to rebuild it but not do so), and any losses the insurgents suffer will be made up many times over by a flood of new recruits. Never was it more truly said that, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Our nightly bombing of Fallujah illustrates another important point about 4GW: to call it “terrorism” is a misnomer. In fact, terrorism is merely a technique, and we use it too when we think it will benefit us. In Madam Albright’s boutique war on Serbia, when the bombing campaign against the Serbian Army in Kosovo failed, we resorted to terror bombing of civilian targets in Serbia proper. Now, we are using terror bombing on Fallujah.

Of course, we claim we are hitting only Mr. al-Zarqawi’s fighters, but anyone who knows ordinance knows that is a lie. The 500, 1000 and 2000-pound bombs we drop have bursting radii that guarantee civilian casualties in an urban environment. More, it appears we see those civilian casualties as useful.

The October 12 New York Times offered this interesting quote from “one Pentagon official:”

If there are civilians dying in connection with these attacks, and with the destruction, the locals at some point have to make a decision…Do they want to harbor the insurgents and suffer the consequences that come with that, or do they want to get rid of the insurgents and have the benefit of not having them there?

As the article goes on to make clear, American officials believe such terror bombing will split the resistance. In fact, the whole history of air warfare says it will have the opposite effect.

The point here is not merely that in using terrorism ourselves, we are doing something bad. The point is that, by using the word “terrorism” as a synonym for anything our enemies do, while defining anything we do as legitimate acts of war, we undermine ourselves at the moral level — which, again, is the decisive level in Fourth Generation war.

Imagine Mr. al-Zarqawi himself said the following about the suicide car bombs his group uses, bombs that have killed many Iraqi civilians:

If there are civilians dying in connection with these attacks, and with the destruction, the locals at some point have to make a decision. Do they want to harbor the Americans and suffer the consequences that come with that, or do they want to get rid of the Americans and have the benefits of not having them there?

Would we denounce that as “justifying terrorism?” Of course we would — and rightly so.

What is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the turkey. Obvious double standards put us on the moral low ground. The rest of the world can see the hypocrisy, even if what passes for America’s “leaders” cannot. As the old saying goes, it is worse than a crime; it is a blunder.

Now, for one, I find it weird to be agreeing with someone who is the director of a group with goals I strongly disagree with, but I think it’s just a sign of how bad a job our current government is doing; so bad, that opposites are meeting in agreement. Or, less politely, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Kerry Concdes; Election Thoughts

I’m not at all surprised Kerry is conceding. He made it very clear, from quite a while back, that the last thing “we as a country needed” was a repeat of 2000.

Bush is almost 200,000 votes ahead in Ohio, with 100% of precincts reporting. Yes, there are still provisional and absentee ballots to count, but to reverse that large a lead would be hard – the provisional and absentee ballots tend to match the voting patterns of the rest of the state. While it’s slightly more likely that those additional ballots could sway things in Iowa and New Mexico (where Bush leads by 13,000 and 12,000 votes, respectively), I suspect the logic again goes back to knowing how voting patterns play out.

This isn’t Florida, where one state and less than a thousand votes swung the election. This is three battleground states, and a significant margin in the one with the votes needed to seal this thing.

Kerry was big on the country needing to “heal the divide” that exists between the near-half that voted for him, and the near-half that voted for Bush. To stretch out the election results and take the battle to court would have been doing exactly opposite of what he’s been preachin’. And as much as I would have preferred Kerry win the race, I have to respect him for actually practicing what he’s been preaching.

That said, what’s been going through my head since late last night is not frustration about the election, but frustration about what the results could possibly do. And I don’t mean Supreme Court justices, laws, et cetera (although as a rather liberal woman those things do concern me), but the people who typically don’t vote who got out and voted. I’d be interested in seeing how it broke down, people who’d never voted before versus those who have. A lot of analysts were saying yesterday that the only reason people get out to vote en masse during an incumbent re-election is to vote against him, and I wonder if that’s true. If it is, then there are an awful lot of first-time voters who are going to feel like their voice didn’t matter, and I’m afraid it will discourage them from ever voting again.

I don’t like our process for electing presidents. Douglas blames the brainwashing done by my department, and that could be… or it could be that we really do just have a very broken system that is incapable of accurately representing our society. But, any which way and regardless of how I feel about the process, it’s what we have, and it would be a shame if people who finally got up and spoke up and voted decided there was no point and never did it again.

Bad spambots! Bad!

(I went thru and nuked all comments; it was easier than trying to sort them out individually. I greatly regret the few comments that y’all posted and I lost. Woe.)

There is always a point at which the terrorist ceases to manipulate the media gestalt. A point at which the violence may well escalate, but beyond which the terrorist has become symptomatic of the media gestalt itself. Terrorism as we ordinarily understand it is innately media-related.