Aggressive Disinfecting

Mark Bowden characterizes recent counterinsurgency methods not as “nation building” so much as a strategy in war:

Counter-insurgency doctrine is as warm and fuzzy as war can get. It embraces distinctly liberal, humanistic values like protecting civilians, cultural sensitivity and rigid adherence to ethical standards and the law. It is geared toward partnership, not dominance, and always seeks to minimize violence. In Iraq it rapidly (in months) isolated the murderous extremists who were trying to provoke civil war. The new effort set up a sharp contrast between their methods and goals and those of America. As one Marine officer, Col. Julian Dale Alford, said at a conference in Washington last week, “”e gave the people of Iraq a better choice.”

The one dispute I have with Bowden is his choice of image, in this case:

It turns out that an insurgency can only be killed by poisoning the sea in which it swims.

It is an error, I’d say, to characterize the insurgents as a healthy organism to be killed by something unhealthy to everybody. Rather, what is needed is to kill the insurgency by disinfecting the water — cleaning it so that true healthier organisms can thrive.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
10 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I am a peaceful person who has never harmed anyone, and I like to think that even I would kill a few Chinese soldiers if they were to violently occupy my homeland and subject me to their rule.
Thank goodness most of the citizens in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t as heavily armed and fiercely defensive as the citizens are in this country. Our occupation force would have been expelled years ago.

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

But if the Chinese invaded New Mexico, would you say “none of my business, I don’t want to ‘meddle'” and try to make a buck selling provisions to both sides?

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

If individual people or militias wanted to go to New Mexico and help fight them off, I would have no problem with that, since all actions would be voluntary and defensive in nature. I might do so myself, but it would be my decision if I did, and that is the real distinction here.
I do have a problem with a government declaring war on another government and forcing its citizens to wage war or contribute to the war effort against their will, usually for political reasons.

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

You missed an option (or did you?); what if the United States government wanted to defend New Mexico from a foreign invasion?

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Dan writes:
“I do have a problem with a government declaring war on another government and forcing its citizens to wage war or contribute to the war effort against their will, usually for political reasons.”
What you describe is a reasonable description of our Civil War. There can be no doubt that the North invaded the South and that there is nothing in the Constitution proscribing secession. I think there can be no doubt that our Civil War was an “illegal war”. It might even be described as “nation building”. As a nation, we have chosen to run away from the truth. If you look at old monuments to the war you will note that it was the “war to preserve the union” until about 1910. Following that date, it becomes the “war to end slavery”.
Still, I prefer the outcome to other possibilities. I also find it the signal failure of American politics.
It caused a number of emerging democracies, particularly Germany,
to reject the idea of simply adopting the U.S. Constitution.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Dan writes:
“Thank goodness most of the citizens in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t as heavily armed and fiercely defensive as the citizens are in this country. Our occupation force would have been expelled years ago.”
This is cause for wonder. I can recall photo articles in National Geographic back into the 70’s, showing the “arms bazaars” in Afghanistan offering cut rate AK-47’s. When Sherlock Holmes meets Dr. Watson for the first time, he observes that Watson limps from a bullet wound. His first words to Watson are “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive”. What should we imagine the rag tag Afghans fought the Russians with, sticks and stones?
Afghanistan is a nation of warriors. They have never aceeded to conquest.
Perhaps we need to resurrect our own religious warriors, Templars anyone?
Here’s a thought. Christianity was about 1200 years old when we decided on the Crusades, and extending Christianity by the sword. That is the approximate age of Islam.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I think it’s a matter of degree. Not only are 30-50% of the households in this nation gun-owners, many of them are highly trained gun-owners. That’s not to even mention the millions of “illegal” guns in this country (which could very well end up saving our ass in such a scenario, when the invaders come to round up all the registered guns from the neat little lists we keep).
While Afghanistan no doubt has its heavily armed “militias,” the population itself is not heavily armed and has little training. I also consider the population of the United States itself to be more fiercely independent due to all the nationalist patriotic jingles and salutes we put our kids through in public schools as well, although that’s debatable. Generally that kind of indoctrination is a bad thing when it comes to citizens standing up to our own government, but it can be useful when another nation actually threatens our sovereignty (which hasn’t happened in 70 years, but still).

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Dan writes:
“I think it’s a matter of degree. Not only are 30-50% of the households in this nation gun-owners, many of them are highly trained gun-owners. That’s not to even mention the millions of “illegal” guns in this country (which could very well end up saving our ass in such a scenario, when the invaders come to round up all the registered guns from the neat little lists we keep).”
There were some iteresting findings from released documents at the end of the “Cold War”. One of the least publicized was that the Russians gave little thought to actually trying to conquer and occupy the United States. A chief reason was the number of armed citizens with Jeeps.
Everything changes. As compared with the 1960’s and 70’s, the number of Americans with military training is miniscule. Our ever expanding highway system makes invasion more plausible, as does our poor relationship with Mexico.
It is well to remember that, early in the last century, both the Germans and the Japanese expressed interest in purchasing, or “protecting”, Baja California. This provides both a staging area and access to the “zone of the interior”. This has been “war gamed” extensively. “Red Dawn”, although an imaginative movie, is based on the results of those war games. Imagine how the Cold War might have been different if we hadn’t purchased Alaska.

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

Dan,
In defining the trigger of for state action against foreign attackers in terms of “sovereignty”, you are saying that threats to government should be vigorously defended against, but that mass-casualty attacks on individuals won’t necessarily merit a similar response. Lives of individuals don’t matter as much as continuity of government? I wish you would take some time to reflect on how combining the heavily statist assumptions you’ve consistently expressed about how the world should be organzined with a set of libertine social views doesn’t really add up to libertarianism.
A worthwhile place to start would be to reflect on whether the Federal government should respond to a mass-casualty attack on New Mexico launched by a foreign government, or whether it should take time before responding to determine if “sovereignty” is being truly threatened.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Andrew, if individuals decide that other individuals are being wrongly attacked, it would not be immoral to choose to come to their aid. However, that should be the choice of those individuals, not some coercive government for them. I made this distinction earlier, and that is true libertarianism. That the Libertarian Party has been co-oped by warmongering conservatives is another matter.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.