When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

May 11, 2004

Asymmetries at Abu Ghraib?

Bravo Romeo Delta

Belmont Club notes that this may be, perversely, a high water mark of morality in this war, in much the same way that unrestricted bombing of civilian targets was anathema at the outset of World War II, but de rigeur by its end. This echos one of the critical weaknesses of terrorism as a whole, which I spoke of in an earlier post on Asymmetries and Terrorism.

I just found the reports of the video-taped beheading of the American contractor, Nick Berg. Bookending Abu Ghraib with the mutilation of corpses in Fallujah and the beheading of a prisoner on tape, is a somewhat puzzling strategy. Even if you don't like Bush, they do say that God looks out after children, drunks, and fools. This is about as incredible a propaganda victory as the US could hope for (provided that you discount the 'Arabs Respect Strength' thesis). I am deeply curious to see how this plays out in both American and international media.

On the one hand, it most certainly will take some of the heat off of the US for the prison thing. If we follow the high road on this, then we may be in a position to score a major propaganda victory. We may not have huge moral authority in this conflict, but these idiots are bound and determined to make sure they don't have it either.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at May 11, 2004 12:31 AM

Retaliatiory Launches

This is one case where we *must* understand what they're thinking, because it makes no sense to us. Maybe they don't care about the 'moral high ground' because Allah says they automatically have it, so whatever they do is a-ok.

If that's the case, then we don't need to hearts-and-minds the arabs, we need to educate the West on exactly how far we'll go to win, and quit trying to apply our values to an enemy who doesn't care about them.

Posted by: Ted at May 12, 2004 03:22 AM

Traditionally, the west has been fairly good about adapting to the way that others make war - this accounts in large measure (according to some) for the absolutely incredible successes the west has had in warfighting over the last several millenia.

The thing that sits in the back of the mind and niggles, is the notion that Vietnam was the first American failure to really dial into the Vietnamese way of war.

The big question for me now, is whether a generation of baby boomers, intent on reliving their past will commit the same willful act of blindness that proved so injurous to our efforts in Southeast Asia.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at May 14, 2004 05:39 AM

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