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a culture of war
December 5, 2004 3:51 PM   Subscribe

"We need to be the benevolent, dominant tribe." The United States enacts tough love in the aftermath of fighting in Fallujah. "Bellon asserted that previous attempts to win trust from Iraqis suspicious of US intentions had telegraphed weakness by asking, " 'What are your needs? What are your emotional needs?' All this Oprah shit," he said. "They want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.'""
posted by four panels (43 comments total)

 
"'What are your needs? What are your emotional needs?' All this Oprah shit," he said. "They want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.'"""

Get Thomas Frank on the phone, the mystery is solved.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:06 PM on December 5, 2004


This kind of thing has to be protected by some human rights laws...

Friggin reminds me of the ficional nightmare of the 'Mutant Registration Act' from X-Men

talk about heinous
posted by maulik at 4:20 PM on December 5, 2004


Yeah! Kick Some Ass America! I think Toby Keith said it best...

"Man, it's gonna be hell
When you hear Mother Freedom
Start ringin' her bell
And it feels like the whole wide world is raining down on you
Brought to you Courtesy of the Red White and Blue"

Turn the whole city up to 20,000 degrees, just like Rush Limbaugh said. Then they'll respect us.
posted by Arch Stanton at 4:27 PM on December 5, 2004


"The goal, Bellon said, is 'mutual respect.'"

BWA HAHA HAHAHA HA ha haha ha. ha.

ha. Ahem.

I dunno. kick me out, kill my relatives, destroy my house and surrounding infrastructure...

"But you get to vote now! Don't you understand?"

yeah. thanks. *picks through rubble and body parts*

Somehow, I don't see an awful lot of respect being given, on either side. Are we the New Warlords? And the assumption is that everyone will just fall in line?
posted by exlotuseater at 4:30 PM on December 5, 2004


Because coerced labor is always the answer.
posted by jmgorman at 4:33 PM on December 5, 2004


The beatings will continue until trust is gained.
posted by Non Serviam at 4:35 PM on December 5, 2004


this is probably very bad news for mankind.
posted by quonsar at 4:55 PM on December 5, 2004


This is just a trial run for when the New Freedom comes to America.
posted by keswick at 5:02 PM on December 5, 2004


Gee, I wonder where the idea about military-style battalions working in construction or waterworks came from. Someone's been reading GULAG Archipelago...
posted by c13 at 5:17 PM on December 5, 2004


They want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.'

Yesterday I read that the US has admitted losing control of the Baghdad's main road from the Green Zone to the airport. Meanwhile, Iraqi rebels mounted the first successful occupation and slaughter within a Baghdad police station.

I think many Iraqis are quickly figuring out who is the dominant tribe...
posted by meehawl at 5:24 PM on December 5, 2004


One idea that has stirred debate among Marine officers would require all men to work, for pay, in military-style battalions.

Arbeit Macht Frei, indeed.
posted by meehawl at 5:27 PM on December 5, 2004


Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times.

Man, that just sounds surreal.

Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.

This, however, I wish they'd do to Seattle.
posted by jimfl at 5:35 PM on December 5, 2004


I wonder will the identity badges be yellow, with sickles instead of stars?

Actually, I've been thinking of this proposed urban scheme within Fallujah and I'd like to suggest a few outstandingly effective gate architectures that functioned very effectively in the past. I think these would be ideal for the retina scan processing stations...



posted by meehawl at 5:38 PM on December 5, 2004


Wow. I'm glad to know what George Bush and the Republican Party think "freedom and democracy" look like. Cars outlawed, and mandatory DNA backed ID cards. Wonder when we'll get some Republican style freedom here in Texas...

Note please that under Saddam's oppressive reign (and it was an oppressive reign) the people of Falluja had more freedom than they do under Bush and the Republicans. Now ask "why are the guerillas getting so much support?"

Bush's War is not going well.
posted by sotonohito at 6:40 PM on December 5, 2004


We got the "joke" the first time, meehawl.
posted by gwint at 6:47 PM on December 5, 2004


We got the "joke" the first time

I'm not laughing.
posted by meehawl at 6:50 PM on December 5, 2004


Yes "Gwint" But it ain't a joke, is it?
posted by Elim at 6:56 PM on December 5, 2004


Im re-reading 1984 for some upside to all this....
posted by Elim at 6:56 PM on December 5, 2004



Bush's War is not going well.


dude, don't be harshin' my resolve.
posted by quonsar at 7:07 PM on December 5, 2004


Elim: 1984 is too over-the-top, totalitarian, sudden and transparent to even register on *my* threat radar. No, what I'm afraid of is a judicious application of the boiled frog analogy...
posted by Non Serviam at 7:11 PM on December 5, 2004


I, for one, welcome our new pathetic excuses for overlords.
posted by uosuaq at 7:23 PM on December 5, 2004


HA to both, ha indeed.

My point is since were headed to Oceana anyway thee MUST be a plus side, I mean, any thing, at least expect good traditional protest music comming from the middle east....
posted by Elim at 7:36 PM on December 5, 2004


"They want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.'"""

This type of reasoning might have some validity if, say, we were fighting baboons rather than human beings. Unfortunately or otherwise, it seems that most human beings -- regardless of culture -- resent being treated like baboons.
posted by bshock at 7:37 PM on December 5, 2004


the boiled frog

You can combine the two, as many have noted in the past. Oceania was not created ex nihilo in Orwell's scifi - it was a logical extrapolation of a neo-Churchillian pro-US permanent-war-footing anti-social welfare pro-Empire society that obsessed UK conservatives during the 1945-1955 period. Although Attlee had trounced Churchill in the 1945 election, the nationalisation programs and the NHS introduction were enormously controversial. It was far from certain how UK society would evolve in the coming decades, or whether all the freedoms lost or truncated during WW2 would be restored. Many people at the time supposed that either another Labour government or the return of the Conservatives to power would catalyse unpredictable developments within the UK.
posted by meehawl at 7:37 PM on December 5, 2004


Well, they're only talking about it at this stage (I'm fully in favour of stupid ideas being voiced, discussed, resoundingly mocked and finally rejected). I hope they come to their senses; the clampdown plan is tantamount to saying that violence is the only language the Iraqis understand. Way to bridge the culture gap.

Also, the plan plays into the hands of the insurgents. A lockdown on this scale, even if successful, is going to strategically pin down large numbers of American soldiers in Fallujah. The insurgents, being more mobile and widely dispersed, will simply step up activity in another city. It's in the nature of guerilla conflict.
posted by Ritchie at 7:46 PM on December 5, 2004


meehawl: wasn't Churchill, at one time, confronted with the budding fascism of the British aristocracy?


I have the firm but unfortunately very depressing belief (hey, that's why beer was invented, right) that people are, well, basically, well, at the core, well, stupid ?

BUT then I think of René Descartes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Hobbes and John Stuart Mill and I'm filled with the joie de... oh, nevermind...
posted by Non Serviam at 7:50 PM on December 5, 2004


"I'm With You!" copyright 2004, protocool, all rights reserved.
posted by protocool at 7:53 PM on December 5, 2004


What I don't understand is this: they are trying to mop up the city before the elections. Why? What's going to happen after the elections? Do they expect the partisans to stop fighting all of a sudden? If the idea is to get the people back into the city so that they can be registered to vote there, it's ridiculous. Retina-scanned, DNA -sampled working battalions voting for the dominant tribe... WTF? And what happens if they vote against?
posted by c13 at 8:05 PM on December 5, 2004


"I am your King!"

"Well I didn't vote for ya..."
posted by jaronson at 8:05 PM on December 5, 2004


jaronson: Help! I'm being oppressed. Come see the violence inherent in the system!

Quotation is approximate due to massive ingestion of fermented beverages...
posted by Non Serviam at 8:10 PM on December 5, 2004


Respect my benevolence, dammit, or I'll kick your ass and take your freedom.

Now, shut up and vote.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:28 PM on December 5, 2004


wasn't Churchill, at one time, confronted with the budding fascism of the British aristocracy

Find me an era when people in the Hibernian Isles have not been confronted with the budding fascism of the British aristocracy.
posted by meehawl at 8:39 PM on December 5, 2004


meehawl: point, set, match. One would be hard-pressed to argue that aristocracy does not ultimately lead to fascism. Monarchy or its ersatz is only one step removed from corporatism.
posted by Non Serviam at 8:50 PM on December 5, 2004


Dominant tribe...how is this different from just considering all Arabs a bunch of dogs, in the style of 1200 AD?
posted by inksyndicate at 8:52 PM on December 5, 2004


Also, the plan plays into the hands of the insurgents. A lockdown on this scale, even if successful, is going to strategically pin down large numbers of American soldiers in Fallujah.

Getting regular forces into static positions is a/the classic winning position for guerillas.

The winning strategy for regular armies is to forget about holding territory and use small highly mobile units to go after people, like this [NYT]. Trouble is, despite their (apparent?) effectiveness, they have lost 8 from a group of 32 since September.
posted by apodo at 1:13 AM on December 6, 2004


I'm not so sure about the unit in the NYT article, Apodo. At heart, the strategy being employed by units like this seems to be one of attrition - picking off the insurgents one by one.

The problem with this is twofold: firstly those losses are easily replaced (their reserves aren't unlimited, but they overwhelmingly exceed those available to the Marines. I mean, 8 dead out of 32, and yet to see a decisive result? That's a 25% loss. These people cannot afford the price of any victory they might one day achieve). Secondly it acts as a form of natural selection; it 'selects' for guerrillas who are tough, committed, and resourceful.

Sitting at my PC on the other side of the world, I would say the coalition would be better following a double strategy. Firstly, negotiating ceasefires with the insurgents. These will of course break down every so often, but that doesn't matter: the objective is to drain the insurgency of its momentum by inducing them to pause their operations for short periods.

Secondly, the psychological lift the insurgents have received simply by resisting the badass USMC might be used against them. If they can be encouraged to be overconfident, say by ordering Marines to retreat from battle rather than aggressively attacking and counter-attacking, then they might be drawn into making a strategic mistake.</armchair general>
posted by Ritchie at 2:40 AM on December 6, 2004


Jeez, Ritchie.

I'd hate to get shot and killed during one of those strategic retreats, fa'real.
posted by black8 at 5:13 AM on December 6, 2004


The question all the citizens of Fallujah want to know:

So when does this benevolence part kick in?
posted by nofundy at 5:13 AM on December 6, 2004


[musing about justgary's whereabouts in this thread]
posted by yoga at 5:14 AM on December 6, 2004


Getting regular forces into static positions is a/the classic winning position for guerillas.

You just have to look at Northern Ireland 1970s-1990s for a classic demonstration on how fortified an army can make a territory yet still remain inneffective. By the 1990s Northern Ireland's security apparatus was one of the most entrenched in the world - police stations were like fortresses and many army units moved from one bunker to another using armoured heliports. Most of the roads linking communities either side of the border were blown up and the remaining ones heavily fortified at border crossings. The army relied on dozens of serveillance towers strung across the landscape to provide intelligence. Over 20 towns in Northern Ireland were permanently ghettoized using "peace wall" fortifications. Internment camps, detentions without trial, torture, non-jury trials, and assassinations were all tried, with a notable lack of success. The "security establishment" to support this weird economy became the largest single employer in Northern Ireland. Yet despite this, the IRA seemed able to strike almost at will. Eventually both sides ended up at the negotiating table.

Nearly 30K British troops were tied up for 25 years corralling a generally quiescent population of a little over 1 million people. Scale up those numbers to Iraq (~25m) and factor in a more volatile and better trained resistance and you see that with 750,000 occupying troops you just might begin to approach the "success" of Northern Ireland.
posted by meehawl at 5:28 AM on December 6, 2004


the US has admitted losing control of the Baghdad's main road from the Green Zone to the airport

Too bad that's the safest road in the country:
Despite the increasing dangers, the airport road has taken on greater importance for foreign diplomats, journalists and Iraqis because the dreadful security situation elsewhere precludes using other routes into and out of the country.

The main highways west to Jordan and Syria are even more dangerous - especially for foreigners - because of armed insurgents around Ramadi and Fallujah who have kidnapped and beheaded both Iraqi and foreign hostages.

The road south toward Karbala and Najaf passes through a string of insurgent-controlled towns and cities dubbed "the triangle of death" because of the large number of foreigners and Iraqi Shiite Muslims waylaid over the last year.

Another road to the southwest through Kut and on to Basra is considered safer - but only relatively. As the route approaches Amarah it passes through an area notorious for carjackings.

The highway north toward Mosul, known to the U.S. military as Highway One, passes through such insurgency-plagued cities as Samarra, Tikrit and Beiji. And the U.S. military describes the situation in Mosul as "tenuous."

That leaves the airport as the "safest" way out of Baghdad.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:32 AM on December 6, 2004


I agree, Ritchie. Not only has the group taken 25% casualties, we don't even know if they captured the right 250 people. I wonder if even they know.

In the end the only way to defeat terrorism is to alienate moderates from radicals by meeting reasonable political demands and thus slow down recruitment to militant groups, while trying to defeat the radicals mainly with paramilitary police and spies, *not* ordinary soldiers.

If you can't do that, controlling the airport and the road to it is a Good Thing.
posted by apodo at 2:59 PM on December 6, 2004


Let the cakewalk begin.
posted by nofundy at 5:51 AM on December 7, 2004


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