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August 21, 2006

More thoughts by ry/gollum

I was not nearly as verbose and wandering with this, but I won’t torture everyone by putting it on the front page. You masochists can find out what I have to say below the fold. -ry

[Go ahead, read it. It won't hurt you... just click on that Flash Traffic/Extended Entry thingy -ed]

Once a man I’m much indebted to (not financially, but intellectually and spiritually) told me that any analyst worth a damn reads widely regardless of suspected bias of sources as you never know what nuggets you can find in them dank, dark corners. He was right, and it came back to bite me in the butt because I yeah-yeah’d him while not really listening. Luckily Dan Abbott of TDAXP did the reading of a source I’m leery of (Daily Kos) and picked a winner: an asymmetrical warfare for dummies of sorts. Much obliged Dan.

I do not agree with everything Pericles wrote here. I whole heartedly and adamantly disagree with some of his main conclusions. He’s a touch too Einseitigkeit about insurgent operations, but that may be a symptom of length and that it’s a ‘for dummies’-esque piece. As I see it, time and friction work against both sides, and ideological ardor and anger are short lived things (Hatfield-McCoy is famous because it is so outside the norm.). People tire of violence. People tire of being used. People tire of seeing their loved ones die without a shift in the status quo. Exhaustion, disruption, and time work against all sides. He ignores that it truly becomes a contest of wills with whoever blinking first losing(he kind of handles this by claiming that conventional forces already have a fixed ‘cost’ in mind, but I disagree with him on that score for too many reasons to be discussed here.) . But, I digress. As usual (resets baseball cap squarely on head after John, SWWBO, Bigfoot, Instapilot, and all the Denizens take a turn slapping me in the back of the head and calling me a putz.).

I like it because, in spite of Pericles’ own feelings and conclusions, it highlights one of the bits of reasoning I used in writing the 'post that never ends’. I’ll let Pericles say it since he’s so much more concise than I will ever be:
{In a successful insurgency, warriors are only the tip of a large iceberg. Even though the number of active warriors may be small, a much larger segment of the population is at some earlier stage of recruitment. Some sympathize with the insurgents silently; they know who the warriors are, but chose not to tell the occupiers. Some help in small ways, by delivering messages, holding money, or even hiding weapons. Some harbor warriors and help them hide from the occupiers. Some will not fight, but will act as look-outs and report the movements of occupying troops. A successful insurgency is always losing warriors (sometimes by intentional suicide attacks), but the pipeline of recruitment is full of people moving to ever greater levels of commitment.}

Why displace a large segment of southern Lebanon and make them angrier than yellow jackets? Because Hezbollah has read Mao’s Little Red Book. Because the populace of southern Lebanon already had a decent enough level of sympathizers that Hezbollah was already becoming a state-within-a-state. Because Hezbollah was so ingrained in the area that paring Hezbollah off from the rest of the populace became a distinctly remote, rapidly and asymptotically approaching zero level, possibility.

Why displace much of the populace of southern Lebanon? You do so to create a safety barrier or buffer zone. You make Hezbollah a problem for the rest of Lebanon and disrupt their recruitment pipeline as the rest of Lebanon won’t put up with it---not with peacekeeping forces whose ROE allow them to actively help the indigenous state forces (unlike the ill fated force in Rawanda). By displacing it into regions where its policies and ideals are unpopular and those who sympathize are overwhelmingly in the minority thereby making the ‘swim amongst the fish’ part impossible you’re killing the ability operate and the recruitment pipeline. That’s another, costly and unpopular, method of dealing with an insurgency. Sure, they’re angry---but they’re in areas that have work, infrastructure, and a life worth living without violence to lure the young turks. Sure they want revenge---but they’re in regions where people will rat out the cells quickly since Hezbollah is antagonistic to the Sunni, Christians, etc., Druze as well. It is *not* a nice policy, but it gets the job done while leaving a pathway to a better peace (wondering why I keep coming back to this? Go read BH Liddell Hart. He explains it better than I ever could in Strategy.), unlike the status quo ante.

But this rather obvious thing, at least to little ol' me, gets lost when we fetishize certain things.

(Dang, brevity ain’t that hard. I still don’t like it though. Like an elvish rope it burnssss ussss.).

ry (aka Gollum)