"How would the Mafia do an occupation?"
July 29, 2006 7:21 PM   Subscribe

The New York Times thinks that we might be witnessing a paradigm shift: "Old labels, and old planning, do not apply. Certainly its style of 21st-century combat is known — on paper. The style even has its own labels, including network warfare, or net war, and fourth-generation warfare, although many in the military don’t care for such titles. But the battlefields of south Lebanon prove that it is here, and sooner than expected. And the American national security establishment is struggling to adapt."

So does author and history's weathercock William Gibson.

Here is some background reading on the new buzzword from Defense and the National Interest (which has a ton of articles on the subject), Global Guerillas, and antiwar.com. The last of these is of especial interest since it's written by one of the authors of the first article on fourth-generational warfare.
posted by Kattullus (44 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, it's nice to know Gibson is blogging again. He stopped to work on a new book. Does this mean the book is nearly done, or has the Internet productivity virus claimed another victim?
posted by delmoi at 7:41 PM on July 29, 2006

I am curious why this article is so big a deal and the military is taken by surprise. After all, the variousmilitant groups (terror groups?) in the occupied territories have been using refugee camps and homes to conceal both fighters and weapons. Israel, recognizing the problem, had been careful to the point of losing a lot of their soldiers. Now they are warning civilians to get out and they willlevel the towns used by Hezbollah.

What I do find surprising is that both Israel intelligence and the US intelligence seem unaware of the massive buildup and capability of Hezbollah. Has American intel been caught off guard again?
posted by Postroad at 7:42 PM on July 29, 2006

That was very interesting to read. I've been mumbling to myself and a few friends about the power of networked bottom-up self-organization for a while now. The US flirted with it a bit in Afghanistan, but they ran out of money, I guess, and perhaps they figure that now that they're Really In The Shit they can't use such experimental tactics and planning.

It seems like the US army just sucks at communications. Tragically. But I suppose one of the operating principles of a modern nation's military is not to question why, and so, full understanding of a battlefield isn't something that soldiers are trained to aspire to, maybe.

On preview: delmoi, your question's answered here.
And, besides all this, like the NYT article mentions, it is simply impossible to win when you're fighting an entire disperse ideology. You'd have to kill everyone, and then, you know, sure, you've one, but you've incurred the wrath of every thinking and feeling human being on the planet.

I guess, the war on terror is like the war on drugs - it'll never be won, but the fighters don't realize it's pointless to try.
posted by blacklite at 7:48 PM on July 29, 2006

Postroad: Signs point to yes. (Reprint of July 19 NYT story, "High-tech arsenal catches intelligence agencies off guard.")
posted by blacklite at 7:51 PM on July 29, 2006

Israel, recognizing the problem ... will level the towns used by Hezbollah.

Here's the thing, see... this approach only works if you're willing to sacrifice your humanity. Seriously. That's the tradeoff. You cannot defeat an enemy encroached in a civilian position without being willing to sacrifice massive amounts of innocent lives, which consequently requires the sacrifice of your own humanity. That's the entire reason this tactic exists, because most sane people don't expect others to sacrifice their humanity.
posted by odinsdream at 7:55 PM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

There's less to this than meets the eye. Every war presents new challenges and requires new approaches and new solutions. Thus has it always been, and in that the current war is not particularly unusual.

The national security establishment is adapting, but whether it's "struggling" any more this time than in prior wars is open to serious dispute.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:13 PM on July 29, 2006

US intelligence seem unaware of the massive buildup and capability of Hezbollah.

I may be entirely off-base with this speculation, so feel free to rip it to shreds. I'm too tired to research it right now.

Could it be that the average Hezbollahan in Lebanon is wealthier than his counterpart in Iraq or Afghanistan? I believe that Lebanon is quite advanced economically, and I imagine that the average citizen has at least a bit of disposable income. Greater buying power = better personal weaponry or the ability to hide larger weapons.
posted by mischief at 8:20 PM on July 29, 2006

this approach only works if you're willing to sacrifice your humanity

Umm, Israel's military has amply demonstrated over the decades its ability to set aside its "humanity", whatever that means. Weaponless American girl vs bulldozer, remember?
posted by mischief at 8:24 PM on July 29, 2006

I don't really think the Hezbolla members need to buy their own rockets.

Can you imagine how destructive these rockets could be if they had accurate guidance systems, though? Something like one in a thousand rockets actually hits anyone. If the katusya rockets could be aimed properly it would be 30,000 dead Israelis, not 30.
posted by delmoi at 8:40 PM on July 29, 2006

I'm a bit confused here. How is "fourth generation warfare" at all different from that used by the Viet Cong, or even TE Lawrence during WWI? I've read the 1989 article, but it didn't address those questions...
posted by jokeefe at 8:44 PM on July 29, 2006

“They dug tunnels. They dug bunkers, they established communications systems — cellphones, radios, even runners to carry messages that aren’t susceptible to eavesdropping,” said one military officer with experience in the Middle East. “They divided southern Lebanon into military zones with many small units that operate independently, without the need for central control.”NYT

New paradigm? The British really should've stopped wearing those red-coats and marching in a row, and they shoulda put a cap in that silversmith's ass when they had the chance. Sons of Liberty, Party of God, whatever.

The distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. It will be nonlinear, possibly to the point of having no definable battlefields or fronts. The distinction between 'civilian' and 'military' may disappear.Defense/National Interest

Thus the Quartering Act. I am so glad I am not a High School American History teacher right now. I bet those draftable brats are just making their lives a living hell making comparisons of our Enlightened Righteous Patriots to their Bloodthirsy Religious Kooks. Wake me up when the evolution's over.
posted by eegphalanges at 8:46 PM on July 29, 2006

And after reading the NYT article, I'm not really any further enlightened... what they basically seem to be saying is that now the whole world is Vietnam, and that we're seeing a globalization of the battlefield. Which kind of fits with economic globalization and mobile populations and so on, I suppose. Am I missing something here? Or is it more Third World vs. First World, and the battle's really over remaining land and resources but that's concealed by fundamentalist/religious dressing or the smoke and mirrors of capitalism?
posted by jokeefe at 8:50 PM on July 29, 2006

Today is more obscure than yesterday.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:07 PM on July 29, 2006

Am I missing something here?

Well, we're seem to be doing very similar things now as we did in Vietnam. And you know how THAT ended..
posted by c13 at 11:44 PM on July 29, 2006

So help me out please, is this third generation or fourth generation?
posted by fingerbang at 12:58 AM on July 30, 2006

jokeefe, the way I understood it was that unlike the rest of the major wars of modern times (i.e. since WW1), non-state and sub-state players have risen to prominence - loosly coupled networks of heterogeneous factions with aligned interests, rather than the straightforward pairing off of rival parties.

The interesting part for me was the suggestion that this is in a way a return to '0th generation' war, that is the way things were done in medieval times and before (from the antiwar link):
Previously, many different entities had fought wars – families, tribes, religions, cities, business enterprises – using many different means, not just armies and navies (two of those means, bribery and assassination, are again in vogue). Now, state militaries find it difficult to imagine war in any way other than fighting state armed forces similar to themselves.
The difference being now that there is a far higher population density in the world, and technology has allowe massive improvements in communciation, transportation and weaponry. So I don't know if this is really anything new, but a return to old methods enhanced by new technology.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:22 AM on July 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

I have just been sent via a friend an article from a strategy group that notes that Israel for the first time is not really getting anywhere and that Hez. is showing the arab world it can stand up to the Israel military and the West.
What the piece fails to note though is that Hez is a client of Iran and Syria and Lebanon and not those two countries has been defeated. Were the fighting to stop right now, what would become of Lebanon? Would it build itself up only to have Hez in control and repeating what has taken place?
In sum: it is different when you have clients fighting on territory that is not your own land. losing the game, change the rules: go after those lands supplying your enemy so that they must make the choice whether to be aggressive or not.
posted by Postroad at 4:24 AM on July 30, 2006

MetaMonkey: So, the world is heading towards Snow Crash?

Friggin right, someone find me some swords.
posted by WetherMan at 5:53 AM on July 30, 2006

> unlike the rest of the major wars of modern times (i.e. since WW1), non-state and sub-state
> players have risen to prominence

They've risen to prominence everywhere else, it would be remarkable if they didn't do so in war also. But as for this being new... anybody remember the Sandinistas? the FLN? the Viet Cong? the IRA? Non-state or sub-state players all.

> The distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point.

Well, yes. With "flattening and broadening of the command structure" there ceases to be anybody with enough authority to say the war's over. End of the concept of negotiated ceasefire, welcome to a world of Unabombers with pocket nukes, answerable to nobody. There's maybe somebody who can tell the IRA provos to hold their fire today. But how do you get the message to the Unabomber?
posted by jfuller at 6:59 AM on July 30, 2006

> the war on terror is like the war on drugs - it'll never be won, but the fighters
> don't realize it's pointless to try.

Pointless to fight unwinnable wars, eh? So we can apply that same lesson to the war against fascism, against racism, against homophobia, and other instances of struggles we believe in? None of these will ever be finally won, so the take-home lesson is to roll over, chill out and fergeddaboudit? T. S. Eliot has a somewhat better grasp: "...we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that anything will triumph." But that logic applies just as well to lost causes you don't care about--terror, drugs--as to causes, like those three unwinnable ones I mentioned above, that you do care about. Failing to make this connection is one of Metafilter's endemic 2-digit-IQ-and-falling stupidities.
posted by jfuller at 7:30 AM on July 30, 2006 [3 favorites]

I guess the military and the pols have to look around for some excuses for their failures, and their continuing to inflict huge numbers of civilian casualties in the name of democracy and freedom, but it doesn't really seem to be anything new, even over thousands of years of warfare (the Romans had plenty of guerilla armies to contend with). After Iraq, I'm surprised that they're surprised.

FWIW, I thought the NYT piece had a garbled "If you don't use tanks/planes to kill people then you're cheating and you deserve whatever you get" perspective that left a bad taste in the mouth. Well, that and the thinly-veiled "Hey they're not as stupid as we thought they were" racism.

The DNI links were pretty interesting. Note that there are huge amounts of research funding awaiting whoever can come up with the next successful war paradigm - and a lot of this research already involves distributed communications/computers, networks, complex systems modeling, and so on. Try google for "effects based operations" to see some of then thinking here.
posted by carter at 8:49 AM on July 30, 2006

The 'secret 'is getting the West's own PC to work against itself. And it's working like a charm.

Bunch of NANCY'S!
posted by HTuttle at 9:27 AM on July 30, 2006

From the NYT article opening this post regarding the "new" fighting style unit: It abides by no laws of war as it attacks civilians indiscriminately. Attacks on its positions carry a high risk of killing innocents.

and, above,

[T]his approach only works if you're willing to sacrifice your humanity

Agreed. But after being engaged in this type of fight, what options are available to a country, really? Not fight back and be conquered, give up and be conquered, fight traditionally and honorably and be conquered... or, regrettably, sacrifice it's humanity and try to repel those who chose to use this method to begin with.

I think, though, we're already beyond turning back. Those without humanity that'd opt for this style have seen that it's effective because those with any shred of decency are hesitant to fight back in kind. Now that they've discovered this weakness, they'll keep exploiting it until the whole world has been brought down to their own base level.

The truly amazing thing is that there are hundreds of thousands -- maybe millions -- of armchair analysts and "peace activists" unable or unwilling to see more than a few feet down the road ahead. These folks actually defend the use of this type of warfare by their pet groups and protest (loudly and effectively) against the other side being allowed to use the exact same set of rules.
posted by CodeBaloo at 9:32 AM on July 30, 2006

There was another interesting article right next to the one referenced in this post.

What was clearly conceived two weeks ago as a quick battle using air power and strikes on specific targets with commando raids to degrade Hezbollah’s resources, particularly its stores of thousands of rockets, has turned into a crisis. “Israel is far from a decisive victory and its main objectives have not been achieved,” wrote the country’s most respected military analyst, Zeev Schiff, in the daily Haaretz.

They (the partners made up of the US administration and the military leadership of Israel) need desperately to come up with new paradigm lingo to explain away and divert attention from the fact that they themselves have destroyed their nations' military credibility.

Criminally incompetent. These are traitors, pure and simple. They keep on destroying our security, our culture, our very way of life. And no one is taking them to task except for radical Muslims, which is not the desired outcome. For me at least. Wtf?

And jfuller... everyone on Earth involved with the War on Drugs who speaks off the record says it's a war that makes no sense and can't, on principle, be won. Neither can a War on Terror.

If you want to decrease terrorism, you can't do it by bombing people. You do it by removing the root causes. You go to where the terrorists were generated (in 9/11's case, Saudi Arabia and Egypt) and you say, 'No more. You are not our allies because your corrupt, non-democratic states are creating the poverty and filth and anger that breeds extremism (in addition to, ya know... being ethically wrong). If you want military or monetary support from us, you treat your people right.' You do the same to Pakistan. You do it all over. Then you'll get less and less people so poor and desperate that they'll turn to radical mullah's and strap bombs to their chests. You'll get less and less people thinking the US is evil, because they won't be able to point to US support for vile regimes. Why is it that all the Islamic jihadi hotspots are nations where the US supported foul rulers? Iran. Iraq. Philippines. Indonesia. Saudi Arabia. Egypt. Is it coincidence? Only if you have a two-digit IQ.

But instead of any policy discuss of these issues AT ALL, all we have is further bullshit pontification by proven repeat-losers over the next generation of war paradigm. What a total crock of shit.

Re the War on Terror... you don't 'win' by framing it as a war at all. It's a health issue, for Christ's sake. The whole 'war on this/war on that' has got to go. It's totally counter productive. It short cuts people's thinking and keeps us from discussing actual solutions to problems.
posted by the_savage_mind at 9:33 AM on July 30, 2006 [8 favorites]

An odd thought in all of this. These "4th generation" setups seem to parallel the way in which cheap, advanced recording and editing technology has recently given birth to new pirating techniques and also a slew of tiny, networked, independent music, film, and art units. Does that make the Pentagon the RIAA?

Is this type of black-market-populism-vs-the-monied-dinasours thing going to be a common structure as globalism presses on?
posted by es_de_bah at 9:43 AM on July 30, 2006

the_savage_mind -- Going after the root cause is a great long range goal. To me, it's too unrealistic and and a little hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbahyah-ish, but it's a good target to aim for.

But how long will retroactively removing the cause of terrorism take? And what does the world do in the meantime... just sit back and let them go about their evil business unchecked? We shouldn't fight back? What do we do right now, this very moment -- this afternoon, today, this week -- until we can effectively erase and rewrite history?
posted by CodeBaloo at 9:46 AM on July 30, 2006

Code Baloo:

But how long will removing the results of these causes (terrorism) take? And what does the world do in the meantime...just sit back and let them go about their evil business as we shoot at ghosts?

The point is our tactics against terrorism are failing. The world has never been so prone to terrorist attacks as it is right now - largely because of the the manner in which we have fought. How much more of this should we tolerate before we change tactics?

No, we cannot rewrite history, but we could be writing the present in a much different manner. For example, look how quickly the economic mobilisation of Ireland turned around the terrorism in the North and throughout the UK. Hundreds of thousands of the crown's troops couldn't affect the change that their new economic prosperity has.
posted by jmgorman at 9:58 AM on July 30, 2006

jmgorman -- Okay, let's say I agree, and starting this very moment, we begin the change of position.

The question remains, what is the plan of what to do in the meantime? How do we react to their aggression? What do we do right now, this very moment -- this afternoon, today, this week?

The toothpaste is already outta the tube. Now what? Besides, of course, sitting back and saying we should never squeezed the toothpaste out to begin with, which solves nothing.
posted by CodeBaloo at 10:05 AM on July 30, 2006

But it wasn't the "poor and desparate" who killed on 9-11 (although that may be the case with the Palestnian suicide bombers), it was the Saudi equivalent of the Weathermen: delusional, educated radicals raised by middle-class parents.

So, while I'm all for eliminating poverty, and the cash we're spending in Iraq sure would help, religious/political madness might be a little more difficult to eliminate.
posted by kozad at 10:06 AM on July 30, 2006

delusional, educated radicals raised by middle-class parents.

you've pretty much described the leaders of every popular revolution here ... this is nothing new ... but, if they weren't able to "speak for" the poor and disenfranchised, then they wouldn't get the kind of support they do

it seems that state actors are killing a lot more people than the terrorists, anyway

more poor, disenfranchised and dead victims that middle class terrorists will be more than glad to "speak for" and avenge

the current strategy that israel is following will not work ... all it's doing is radicalizing people
posted by pyramid termite at 10:37 AM on July 30, 2006

I don't see a lot here that Herodotus didn't write about awhile back (pre-Web, sadly), but how could the FPP omit this quote from the DNI article?

Unlike Clausewitzian warfare, which envisions war as an act of policy in a contest between states, 4GW more resembles a boxer versus a viral infection.

That picture's gonna be stuck in my head for hours.

(I also resolve to use the word 'Clausewitzian' at least three times this week. I don't think it means 'Bad Santa', either.)
posted by j-dub at 10:44 AM on July 30, 2006

If you want to decrease terrorism, you can't do it by bombing people. You do it by removing the root causes. You go to where the terrorists were generated (in 9/11's case, Saudi Arabia and Egypt) and you say, 'No more. You are not our allies because your corrupt, non-democratic states are creating the poverty and filth and anger that breeds extremism (in addition to, ya know... being ethically wrong). -- the_savage_mind

Exactly! The root causes are completely ignored. This 'conventional war' policy (as like the cold war nuclear deterrence policies) lead to classic batesonian schizmogeneisis . All sides simply escalate their violence - symmetrically -- i.e., they build-up/bomb/attack/terrorize in a REactive mode ... until there is a collapse of ... 'systems'.

There are no winners. (Didn't Dr. Seuss write about this?)

We could have done a better job of solving Iraq's political issues just by air dropping $400 million cash on rural villages!

What can be done for the Middle East NOW? Withdrawal. Complete withdrawal of all military force (israeli and American) and complete attention on everything the Hezbollah and insurgents are saying (bring ALL parties to the table with no restrictions on issues to be discussed).

What is the alternative?! We are going to end up around that table in the end anyway. (People tend to forget how many despotic terrorists we have had to make peace with in the past.) The core issues of oppression and poverty and inhumanity are not going to disappear no matter how many buildings are bombed ... no matter how many babies deaths are "justified" in this carnage. Why not just 'cut to the chase' NOW?

Of course, another possibility is that Hezbollah and the insurgents (et al) could 'win' the conventional wars ... and what would our world be then? Do we really want to see a Middle East (and more) oppressed by religious fanatics -- or are we ready for the horrific wars/terrorism that would erupt in reaction to such an oppressive governments?

The only 'weapon' against Hezbollah and the terrorists is the same one that must be used against our own 'terroristic' administration -- 'satyagraha' ... the way of truth. People will choose peace over greed, but not over hunger. People are able to choose their government, but can not if they are starved and beaten into fear.

We must remove the fuel that keeps all the 'terrorists' in power. It is the same fuel that keeps 'imperialist capitalists' in power. There is a way out: All people in the world must be safe from harm, fed, cared for, educated and free.

And, yes, we can begin NOW ... Today (last week!) ... by sitting down and discussing a cease fire and agreeing on HOW things will be discussed openly.
posted by Surfurrus at 11:29 AM on July 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

As a serious question: were i to install this software:

Give Israel Your United Support!

and play along would I, along with the other people who installed it, now be part of a non-state psychological operations division? Simply playing a part in the ordinary political process, albeit across state lines? Or something else entirely?
posted by little miss manners at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2006

A bunch of woman and children killed by an Israeli attack, with swift apologies that will no good to any one.

And more from the TPM link where I got these:

And along those lines, I wanted to finish this post by flagging something ominous that keeps coming up in the Israeli press. There's a mix of public and private communications going on between Jerusalem and Damascus. Israel is trying to assure Damascus that they don't plan or want to expand the war to include Syria. Syria is clearly worried that they will and has their troops on full alert. Israel is also warning in no uncertain terms that Syria getting involved will spark massive retaliation.

But there are persistent signs that the US is egging Israel on to bring the war to Damascus.

posted by the_savage_mind at 12:07 PM on July 30, 2006

U.S. Image Among Lebanese Plummets 30 Points

The latest poll by the Beirut Center found that 8 percent of Lebanese feel the US supports Lebanon, down from 38 percent in January. […]

“Look what America gives us, bombs and missiles,” says [Ghassan Farran, a doctor and head of a local cultural organization]. “I was never a political person and never with Hizbullah but now after this I am with Hizbullah.”

Winning hearts and minds, baby! Democracy now!
posted by the_savage_mind at 12:14 PM on July 30, 2006

HRW: Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon

Previous post on cluster bombs.
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on July 30, 2006

Gibson: The bad news is that the policy-makers of the United States and Israel apparently (still) don't get the new paradigm, and the bad news is that Hezbollah (et al, and by their very nature) do.

I disagree with Gibson, or at least I wonder how Israel could possibly fail to get the extra-state aspects of conflict. Just last week here on MeFi we were discussing the King David Hotel bombing and Irgun and Haganah. These and other Zionist organizations not only seem to fit the description of the "fourth generation" / extra-state actors, they could possibly even be the prototype from which Hezbollah and Hamas and others started.

On the other hand, maybe it's possible that modern states, regardless of their background, acquire a blind spot towards non-state power over time.
posted by weston at 1:35 PM on July 30, 2006

I don't know if it's that states acquire a blindspot, weston, so much as they have a vested interest in a conventional view of warfare being the only legitimate form. This allows them to paint small-state or non-state styles of asymmetrical warfare as Terrorism, which is inherently evil. It will interesting to watch the US and Israel transition over and how they justify it and/or redefine the framing as they do.
posted by the_savage_mind at 1:53 PM on July 30, 2006

weston: These and other Zionist organizations not only seem to fit the description of the "fourth generation" / extra-state actors, they could possibly even be the prototype from which Hezbollah and Hamas and others started.

I've long felt that Hamas and Hezbollah are simply the next step from the Irgun and Haganah: if terror tactics got a state for the zionists, it makes a lot of sense that the Palestinians would try similar methods. But I think that it's very easy to forget about the extra-state actors once you've got a seemingly viable state set up. Witness the Sandinistas, and the FLN, and the Vietcong, and also, to some extent, the (pre-)guerrilla tactics used by the revolutionaries of the American Revolution: non state actors have been around for a long time, but we really only pay attention to them while they're functioning. States, on the other hand, usually manage to establish enough infrastructure to create an official history for themselves, and part of that is erasing those not quite acceptable bits of the past. That is, states are inherently designed to forget any slightly sketchy incidents leading to their creation, because once they get official recognition, it behooves them to bury the conflicts that preceded that status. So definitely they develop a blind stop.
posted by matematichica at 2:39 PM on July 30, 2006

"recall the Rape of Nanking, the London Blitz, and the firebombing of Dresden."

Ah yes. All the indisputable charm of humanity at its best... defending the weak, upholding principles and helping.

What a sorry lot we all are.
posted by Twang at 7:11 PM on July 30, 2006

That's the entire reason this tactic exists, because most sane people don't expect others to sacrifice their humanity.

Discussions about the expectation of humanity from the IDF aside, one of the main reasons that the tactic of setting up show inside civilian areas is so successful, is that when the other's army comes and flattens the town, you will have that much more support from the local population and many more recruits for your fight.

Even in losing, you win.
posted by Djinh at 2:18 AM on July 31, 2006

I suspect the trend toward polite half assed wars will end soon and one quick swift annihilation occur. Nuking Iran, North Korea or Iraq for right now should shut everyone up for a while and restore peace. In fact just one accidental nuke should silence the fanatical histrionics of Islam for 50 or 100 years.. Once and a while a defining moment is called for.
posted by Muirwylde at 8:08 PM on July 31, 2006

...and furthermore, is war intrinsically an evolutionary process?The reciprocal culling of stupidity from the human gene pool. Think about it. Your fighting over a scrap of dirt in the desert. How smart could you be to die for that? Your brain muddled by your equally stupid parents with religious nonsense. Just nonsense. Out and out utter nonsense. Cannon fodder=evolutionary fodder. The smart people in the area left, are leaving or choose not to be there in the first place. The children whose parents are stupid enough to live there are well... the children of stupid parents. They are the victims. What could possess a human being with even a modicum of intelligence to live in such a land of hatred and imbalance? Aynone with a shred of intellect would have bettered there life elsewhere long ago. Anyone in the military seems to have a genetic flaw that precludes them from seeing how stupid it is to use violence to solve anything under any pretext. That goes for the defenders of military might too. Death through war is just the planet ridding itself of stupidity. A way for the gene pool to self cleanse.. That may seem omnipotent arrogant and inhuman. It also so may be an absolute truth. I see bands and tribes of self culling idiots.
posted by Muirwylde at 8:45 PM on July 31, 2006

"Part of the reason the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not succeeding is that our initial invasion destroyed the state, creating a happy hunting ground for Fourth Generation forces. In a world where the state is in decline, if you destroy a state, it is very difficult to recreate it."

Effectively, by America attacking these countries and then trying to 'replace' the gov't that was there with democracies that we manipulate and form as if we were making sand castles, we're effectively increasing the chaos that was there instead of increasing the order. Why did the people of Iraq tolerate Saddam? Because they feared what might replace him. At least with Saddam you knew where you stood.

The people will not accept a gov't placed by invaders. They'll always view it as a puppet gov't that doesn't address the needs of the people. It's simply not enough to want a democracy in a foreign land: the people who live there have to want it bad enough to fight for it.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:14 PM on July 31, 2006

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