Puzzled thoughtsΒΆ

Tags: personal

I just saw a link on Tom Hoffman's site to William Lind, who talks about the war in Iraq:

The death of the Modern Age actually comes with World War I; in 1914, the West, which created modernity, put a gun to its head and blew its brains out. The ninety years since have merely been the thrashing of a corpse. The rise of Fourth Generation war, and its triumph over state armed forces in Iraq and elsewhere, mark the real beginning of the new century, a century that will be defined and dominated not by the West's ghost, nor by the Brave New World that is that ghost's final, Hellish spawn, but by people who believe.

Read the entire short article, it's worth it. But, I read it just a few minutes ago, it smells. Something's not completely right. Some brainstorming, right here:

The difference between effectiveness in fighting eachother in Iraq is defined by believing or not believing in something? There must be plenty of US soldiers out there that believe a lot (for instance in "USA's god-given role as fighters for democracy") and anyway, I don't think the individual soldiers are doing that badly.

Bush&co not sending in half the number of soldiers they needed, does that have to do with believing in something? The top brass not having the munitions depots guarded in the days after the defeat of Saddam? Blundering fools that don't retain most of the police force but instead give crime and looting all the chance in the world? I can't see much lack (or overdose) of faith-in-something in this.

And the Iraqies? The state that was, is no more. They're turning to primary loyalties, A primary loyalty is a connection to a non-state group that is greater than loyalty to a state. These loyalties include those to clan, religion, tribe, neighborhood gang, etc. Ok, I'd grand some believing-in-something here.

Speaking against believe as an important factor is, from the same site, the issue of guerilla entrepeneurs . The going rate for placing an IED (improvised exploding device) is $100-$300 (more for an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) attack). Those are services you can buy/hire in Iraq! You don't just have an opponent that strongly believes in something, but an opponent that economic incentives to be your opponent.

What might speak in favour of the believe-in-something theory is this fourth generation warfare article that says under the heading "winning a 4GW conflict" :

Victory in 4GW warfare is won in the moral sphere. The aim of 4GW is to destroy the moral bonds that allows the organic whole to exist - cohesion.

A common believe is a very strong bond. So, there might be some thuth in the original assertion. I, however, don't see it playing out directly in Iraq. Further ideas welcome!

(Perhaps of interest to python-related readers of this weblog: you might like a comparison of Iraq with open source ).

Update just for completeness: Tom doesn't agree to everything in Lind's article he linked to: The idea that Western Civilization ended on the fields of Flanders in 1914 is one of the central axioms of my world view, so I'll happily link to anyone who agrees with that thesis. Beyond that, I agree that Lind doesn't make his point very clearly in this case.

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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