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Cary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:00 PM
Original message
Is it possible to defeat an opponent in asymmetrical warfare?
Edited on Thu Aug-03-06 12:18 PM by Cary
Anything is possible, of course. Perhaps I should use the word "practical" instead of possible? However, practical seems too mild. So please bear with me and know that my question is about whether it's somewhere between "practical" and "possible".

I ask this because in my debates with the lunatics on the right they seem to take the possibility that we could win such a war against all Muslims, I presume, for granted. It seems to me to relate back to some reaction against the Vietnam experience. They also seem to revise that history to suggest that we could have "won" if only . . .

I don't see it that way. As I see it we "won" the Cold War so what the hell did Vietnam have to do with the bigger picture in the first place? Also we were there full time for 10 years, dropping unprecedented tonnage of bombs among other things, and we were there on a more limited basis before that. So "we would have 'won' if only" seems nothing but revisionist. We made a huge effort, paid a huge price, and history shows that we couldn't 'win'.

The neocons clearly want to show that this is all wrong. They have a core belief that we can defeat terrorism once and for all if we just go all out against them. There are countless examples besides Vietnam to show that this core belief is false. Yet this core belief persists.

Am I missing something here? Is there anything at all, other than wishful neocon thinking, to suggest that it is possible to defeat Muslims (I hate to put it that way, but that does seem to be there thinking) in asymmetrical warfare? These neocons are so crazy that they suggest just nuking Muslim nations, although I have yet to see any such plan. I'm assuming, just for the sake of this thought experiment, that nuking Muslim nations is on the table.

I don't see that nuking would work. In fact I think it would create chaos, causing the whole social fabric to become unglued. The final scenario I forsee is these damn neocons killing everyone who isn't a neocon. How they figure who is and who isn't is beyond me.

My answer is no. It is not possible to defeat an opponent in asymmetrical warfare. There has to be another way to deal with this issue. The current strategy of the Bush administration makes no sense whatsoever. The Israelis are a different situation but it seems to me that they've got their fingers stuck in the same Chinese finger trap in Lebanon that we've fallen into in Iraq and probably Afghanistan now. It isn't WW III, and they aren't even considering mobilization of the kind that would make it anything close to WW III.

They want us to go shopping.
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DemocratSinceBirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:03 PM
Response to Original message
1. Depends
It depends on the tolerance you have for inflicting pain on other people. Asymmetrical warfare didn't work for the Native Americans. That's a model that should never be repeated.
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ShortnFiery Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:05 PM
Response to Original message
2. Nothing will work!
Edited on Thu Aug-03-06 12:08 PM by ShortnFiery
It's their native country. All they have to do is hunker down and wait. Pop up and kill, then meld within the community.

No, that's what was so humbling about Vietnam where the USA did NOT lose one battle. We killed over 2 million Plus Vietnamese, but they NEVER stopped coming at us.

You won't BEAT or BOMB a true nationalistic spirit out of the populace of another nation.

It's not fitting with the Laws of Nature. :(

On Edit: Alcoholism (genetically a poison to their race) - more than any one factor - destroyed the spirit of the American Indian. A great tragedy. :cry:
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DemocratSinceBirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:08 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. How Did We Conquer The Native Americans?
"We" literally came from another continent and took the land from the idigenous people as did most of the inhabitants of this entire continent.

It really comes down to how much pain you are willing to inflict on people who are different than you.
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ShortnFiery Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:14 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. No, you can kill and kill and kill some more ...
The Native Americans did not keep their NUMBERS up. However the Arab population within The Middle East greatly outnumbers our pissy presence in Iraq and that within Israel.

Nope, pain don't matter when they have THE NUMBERS. Pain and torture only work for the "short term" and oh my, fasten your figurative seat belts for the impending BLOW BACK for it's bound to be seriously brutal. :scared:

We ALL reap what we sow. :(
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The Deacon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:14 PM
Response to Reply #7
27. Additionally,
We occupied the Native American lands not just with soldiers, but also with settlers. With the settlers came diseases the Native Americans had never dealt with. The Native Americans depended largely on game for protein - we fenced in the land & slaughtered the bison, elk, moose & deer.
Genocide is not a tactic I am willing to consider to defeat pinprick attacks - see post below.
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ShortnFiery Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #27
32. The Arab people have honed the science of tribal waring ...
Therefore I would be hesitant to think that we have a ghost of a chance of occupying them without many slaughters on both sides.

It's an image that is beyond horrific. I want absolutely nothing to do with the politics of the Middle East. I support the folks with dual citizenry but do NOT ask me or my children to go and kill and die for FOREIGN land an Empire. :(
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #4
13. with technology, a huge replacement rate, and an absolute...
Edited on Thu Aug-03-06 12:19 PM by mike_c
...conviction that the native americans were sub-human and simply in the way of settlers' destiny. That overt racism was key to the "success" of European immigrants' colonization of America. Likewise, it is an overt component of the right wing hate monger's attacks on Muslim society, neatly substituting the term "terrorists" for "red savages." It is quickly becoming axiomatic, a part of the language, just as it did on the American frontier.
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Cary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:26 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. There are 1. 3 billion Muslims.
Doesn't this suggest that "colonizing" them would be a bit more difficult?
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #15
20. it's not possible-- but remember, the crusades lasted...
Edited on Thu Aug-03-06 12:46 PM by mike_c
...for two hundred years, and the struggle with the Ottoman Empire lasted for nearly seven hundred years in one form or another. Viewed that way, the twentieth century was really just a brief lull in the fighting that has gone on between christian and islamic empires since the twelfth century. History would seem to prove the untenability of this conflict, yet here we go again, fighting over who has the right to occupy the "holy land."
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ThoughtCriminal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #4
17. Smallpox
Killed millions.
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paparush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:07 PM
Response to Original message
3. Ja! Vitt das Nukes...
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
5. that's the sort of question that military colleges debate endlessly...
...so up front, there are arguments, but no definitive answers, no matter what anyone tells you. My position is that such conflicts cannot be "won," but they can be woven into the fabric of society for decades, where they drain resources and lives needlessly but generate enormous power and profits for those positioned properly to receive them. One of the great ironies of history is that sooner or later you realize that humans simply repeat the same mistakes over and over, no matter how many opportunities we've had to learn from the past.
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lapfog_1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
6. Where are all the terrorist organizations of the 60's, 70's and 80's
Red Brigade, Black September, IRA, etc, etc?

Sure, some are still around, like the Spanish Bask separatists, the IRA is now a political party, and I'm sure that there are others.

But terrorists can be defeated by regular old police work, better security measures at public venues, and time.

Even state sponsored terrorism.
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Hardrada Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. They weren't a whole country however.
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mikeytherat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:26 PM
Response to Reply #6
30. Well, Black September became the PLO which became Hamas
Same game, different name.

mikey_the_rat
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The Deacon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #30
34. Actually
The PLO was an umbrella organization of a number of different terrorist groups - Yassir Arafat, for instance, was first a member of Al Fatah before he was Chairman of the PLO. Black September was a splinter group from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - and both were far left Marxist groups (Fatah was a not-as-far-left Marxist group.) Neither the PFLP or Black September were ever members of the PLO - which may be why they faded away as the PLO gained political & diplomatic acceptance. Or the fact that George Haddad was integral to their operations & they couldn't survive after the Mossad assainated him (Western version) or he died of cancer (according to Iraqi & Syrian sources.)
Hamas is a religious fundamentalist (Sunni Muslim) organization which came into being in reaction to Israeli occupation forces (the First and Second Intifadas.) Not only is Hamas not a member of the PLO, a few months ago (after the election) Fatah and Hamas forces were killing each other on the streets in Gaza.
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The Deacon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:45 PM
Response to Reply #34
36. Oh,
And up to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Hamas & al-Qaeda (both Sunni organizations) publicly called for the destruction of Hezbollah (a Shiite organization) as "a greater threat than the Zionists." Now, of course, the Israeli invasion have made them all supporters of each other. Even the Lebanese Phalangists (Maronite Christians) have joined in this support of their ancient enemies, the Shiite Muslims.
Ironic, no? The Lebanese Phalangists used to be Israel's only allies in the region.
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Cary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #36
39. The enemy of my enemy. . . (n/t)
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:15 PM
Response to Original message
8. The way to deal with it is to defuse the causes
There will always be fanatics who form groups intended to impose their will by violence.

Some violence and confrontation is necessary to deal with them. However the real answer is to defuse the grievences that fuel their popular support.

IMO Israel did the exact opposite of what they should have done in the current war. If they had combined an appropriate -- narrowly focused -- military response to the attacks of Hezbollah, while simultaneously working diplomatically and on other levels to assist the more moderate sectors of Lebanon, they might have succeeded in marginalizing Hezbollah eventually. But by wholesale bombing of Lebanon, they have further raducalized the Lebanese middle and strengthened the popular support for Hezbollah.





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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:15 PM
Response to Original message
10. yes.
if you can commit genocide faster than the rest of the world can stop you.
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ComerPerro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:16 PM
Response to Original message
11. As someone here said yesterday, the only way to win a war
against religious extremists of any sect is through education.
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warrens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:18 PM
Response to Original message
12. By win, they mean North Vietnam would have surrendered
Not likely, but possible. But as far as defeating the Viet Cong, not a fucking chance in the world. You would literally have to decimate the population, then put the survivors in camps to "win." And how long can you keep them in camps? And what happens when they get out?
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Cary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. So do you think we could have 'won" against the Viet Cong, if. . .
Edited on Thu Aug-03-06 12:24 PM by Cary
Your last question is the kicker, I think. And it is also telling about the current morass.

If they went all out against all Muslims, what happens? Not just when they get out. What forces are released?

All hell breaks loose. Doesn't it?

Just when I think I can't believe these people could be any crazier, I surprise myself.
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Cary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:28 PM
Response to Reply #12
16. About the same thing that we've got now in Iraq?
That's my guess. "Mission Accomplished" is meaningless rhetoric.
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Taxloss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:41 PM
Response to Original message
18. Britain did it once, in Malaya in 1948-1960.
Edited on Thu Aug-03-06 12:47 PM by Taxloss
I believe that's still held up as an example of how to defeat a guerrilla insurgency.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malayan_Emergency

Here's a surprise: it bears no resemblance to the tactics used by the US/UK in Iraq and Israel in Lebanon.
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The Magistrate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:43 PM
Response to Original message
19. It Is Possible, Sir, To Defeat A Guerrilla Opponent
Edited on Thu Aug-03-06 12:46 PM by The Magistrate
As you have suggested, it is the practicality that presents the difficulties.

There are two ways to approach the problem. The one that appeals to conventional military minds is that of frightfullness: the one that appeals to statesmen is that of calculated accommodation. Both have worked in the past, but most instances of success have combined some elements of both.

Frightfulness is less practical in modern conditions; the outcry it provokes, when done in broad daylight, works against the employer of the policy. Further, the degree of frightfullness required for success is generally drastically under-rated. Such a policy only works if sufficient horror is wrought that all witnesses become convinced that opposition to the power employing the policy is certain to bring great pain and death, and this requires death and cruelty on a scale, in both numbers and time, seldom approached outside the ancient world.

Calculated accommodation is not always practical politically for a government desiring to employ it. It looks, particularly in its early stages, like simple capitulation, and runs counter to the surface understanding of conflict itself, which can limit its popular support in the society whose government seeks to employ it. The method works by finding a level of accommodation that will deprive the most ardent among the opponents of mass following, thus isolating the most determined foes, and rendering them susceptible to the operations of a skilled gendarmerie. The great hinderance to the method's application is that there may not be a level of accommodation the government assailed by the guerrillas can live with that is sufficient to have the isolating effect on the guerrilla body required for success: the more fundamental the opposed interests, and the more vital the total stake to the government, the more likely this will be the case.

Another important factor is scale. The smaller the area in which the guerrillas operate, and the smaller the population that supports them, the easier it is to impose successfully either policy. Physical isolation is essential to success, typically taking the form of encirclement, and successive constriction of the cordon, sifting out with each step the more or less peaceable populace from the fighting elements.

The essential thing to bear in mind is that all such conflicts are more political contests than military contests. This fact affronts military minds, who like to imagine they should be able to practice their trade on its own "pure" terms without any reference to political factors, and resent having to condition their actions in accordance with political considerations. But in fact, that attitude is nonesense: even conventional wars between formal military organizations are at bottom political enterprises, it is simply that in them, the military outcome will generally be the leading influence on the political factors. In guerrilla war, it is the political factors and outcomes that shape the military field. Mao's dictum in the period of civil war in China that the struggle was "seventy percent political and thirty percent military" remains the best analysis ever put to paper on the matter.
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Cary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #19
23. Great analysis. Thank you.
Edited on Thu Aug-03-06 12:58 PM by Cary
In terrorem does work. One can calculate the ratio of peasants per Centurions, and then simply periodically nail a few thousand peasants to crosses and set them out along the road into town.

That's a lot easier to comprehend than accommodation.

Applying either to 1.3 billion Muslims spread out across the globe? I am a bit overwhelmed just at the prospect.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:46 PM
Response to Original message
21. Yes, it is
You can defeat yourself very easily by presuming that terrorism comes from esoteric
battles rather than just plain injustice. By blocking the international criminal court,
the bush administration made its most serious error, imo, of the long term collateroal
damage of this admin of dumbshits, the opportunity cost of court or prosecution system
to render supraterritorial justice and be given credence.
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Cary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:11 PM
Response to Reply #21
26. Neither seems to me to be true.
Terrorism comes just from the fact that those who are so inclined will do it, if they can. It really is that insideous. No ideology is going to give us an answer.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #26
35. The violence is seated in an injustice
one that persecutes people daily. To say that this bedrock is not a foundation is
overlooking one's toes.
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Cary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 02:28 PM
Response to Reply #35
40. No injustice befell Osama bin Laden or the 19 9/11 hijackers.
Go right down the line. Timothy McVeigh. Aum Shinrikyo. The still unknown anthrax mailer, or the nutcase who put cyanide in Tylenol capsules a number of years ago. Colombine. . .

Something more insideous is at play, with extraordinary weapons being more and more available to ordinary people.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 03:53 PM
Response to Reply #40
41. They went criminal
Can we say the criminal mind is deviant? Isn't that fundamental criminology?
However, the treatment of their criminality is injust, the mass murder of civilians,
and this ground breeds more terrorism and injustice plays its part.

Osama said that the 9/11 strikes were in retaliation for buildings blowing up in
beruit during the US's first incursion, that he 'saw' that the same blowing up
would be happening on stateside. Then the event is founded in an injustice, in
a vigilante attempt to right a crime.
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
22. Yes, certainly. But it requires an enormously cruel and cynical...
...battle plan. Fortunately our Administration --the very embodiment of cruelty and cynicism-- is hobbled by their dependence on the Awl Bidness, and the Awl Bidness won't let them win. Here's the plan:

1. Become energy-independent, developing new technologies that rely on renewable clean resources.
2. Cede some thinly-populated US possession (a Pacific Island, maybe) to Israel and encourage them to start relocating their population there on the double, then cut them loose, eliminating all aid to Israel except transportation and relocation assistance.
3. Pull all of our military resources and assets out of the Middle East and surrounding territories except for a couple of Mediterranean bases.
4. Wait for the ME'ers to exterminate each other.

Voila! Victory.

sarcastically,
Bright
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. It depends what you mean by defeat
If to defeat is to establish long term influence, then treatment of aids, medicines,
and goodwill has an awesome assymetric value, heck, the value of simply bringing the
army home is asymetric for all the trouble it's causing. Bringing institutions of
justice to a people is a tremendous asymmetrical victory of civility.

All methods of learning are viral, they transform consciousness and people towards their
better, and the assymmetric means of learning has been the human way, of wishing the best
that our children have long life and wealth, and not the spoiled polluted wasteland of war.
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The Deacon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:07 PM
Response to Original message
25. The Only Way To "Win" Against "Asymmetrical" Warfare
Is not to fight it. Let's please remember that this sort of warfare dates at least to 1776. Yep, the first "asymmetrical warriors" were the Minutemen (there is some disagreement about this - some date asymmetrical warfare as far back as the Egyptian revolt against their Hittite overlords, others even to the Scythians' quick mounted raids through-out the ancient world.)
Even when Washington fielded the larger, more conventional Continental Army his main goal in every engagement was to keep it together, keep it in the field - not so much to win the battle as not to lose it. The British, frustrated, would occupy territory they knew would revert to the Continentals as soon as they left - and so acted like an occupying army, seizing goods & homes by force (the Hessian mercenaries were particularly noted for their brutality and were accused of rape on a regular basis.) Eventually, a nation which had started as about evenly divided between Patriot and Loyalist became overwhelmingly Patriot, and Parliament recalled the troops (this would have happened regardless of who had won at Yorktown - that was just the final humiliation of a beaten British Army.) A ragtag bunch of farmers & shoemakers had beaten the greatest military machine of its day.

About the only two modern cases of a military defeat of local "freedom fighters" are the U.S. Army's success against the Huks in the Philippines & the British in Malaysia. Both had certain things in common: much more money was spent in constructing roads, water wells & sewage systems than were in fighting. Large troop formations were forbidden to enter villages - they always camped outside. Soldiers were ordered to always pay for anything they took - in some cases farmers were compensated for losses caused by fighting. Local villagers were trained to defend themselves - and troops were not quartered in the villages, but were quick to respond to calls for assistance. With minimal contact with local villagers, there was little chance of incidents which would reflect poorly on the forces. Villages were always left in better shape than when government forces moved into the area: money for more pigs, a roof repaired, a well dug. These were the only times villagers saw troops - when they were helping to improve their lives. Eventually the villagers' support for government forces (even to the point of intelligence about weapons caches & enemy movements) caused the insurgents to try intimidation to win their support - and this was finally when government troops would enter villages, but the villagers saw them now as defenders, not as occupiers.

A couple of problems with this tactic. First, it takes a very long time (both the Americans & the British had long term investment in the area, so it was deemed worth it.) Second, it takes very well trained & disciplined soldiers - no straight out of Basic grunts who have only be trained to shoot their weapons straight (the troops in question had been stationed in the area for a long time & considered the area "home.") Third, you will lose a number of soldiers to sneak attacks & often won't be able to respond. Fourth, it requires a "home front" which looks beyond next week or next month - in the truest sense of the phrase, you are "nation building."
And most important - you must start the "war" that way. If you've bombed villages & shot villagers indiscriminately, there's no going back to "hearts & minds." They will hate you forever & bring up their children to hate you.
Something else to note: while the American & British tactics were "state of the art" their equipment was not - bits & pieces left over from other wars and mainly small arms. You can't hand candy to a child from the tip of a "smart bomb" - you can only use it to kill him.

Currently, the only military force I know of practicing this modality are the Pakistani Army units deployed as U.N. peacekeeping forces in Africa - where they make it a practice to build a soccer field in every village they visit. They're widely loved & very successful.
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:22 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. wow-- excellent post-- this too should be a thread of its own....
:toast:
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Cary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #25
37. An excellent post indeed.
Thanks
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The Stranger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:24 PM
Response to Original message
29. Paging Ho Chi Minh . . .
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The Deacon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:26 PM
Response to Reply #29
31. We Did, After All
Give Uncle Ho a medal for doing to the Japanese exactly what he later did to the French and to us.
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 01:36 PM
Response to Original message
33. so what do you suggest? asking the terrorists nicely to knock it off?
it is surely possible to defeat an opponent through an overwhelming show of force, so your question doesn't make sense even as a rhetorical

quite frankly i am not impressed that our resources have been expended doing one tiny damn thing about terrorism -- seems like we deliberately gave osama and the evil mullah omar a head start to get out of afghanistan then sent in a token force to occupy that country compared to what we've sent to iraq, which didn't attack us but which unfortunately had oil and pipelines that were keeping the prices of oil too low throughout the 90s to make the industry happy

the neo-cons have achieved exactly what they wanted -- oil supplies in turmoil mean oil is suddenly valuable and price is thru the roof, halliburton was saved from bankruptcy, exxon-mobile has posted the greatest profits of all time

they are winning the war they are fighting, they are getting exactly what they want

don't confuse what they "say" is the goal with what is really the goal


they're doing just fine out of this war, it couldn't be going better really as far as their pocketbooks are concerned

they don't care any more if you go shopping or not, they can get every penny you have at the grocery store and the gas station
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Cary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 02:07 PM
Response to Reply #33
38. The question is academic, but "the neo-cons" still have to make a show.
What they say is important, even if it is a charade.
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