Friday, July 01, 2005

Hearts and Minds

Soldiers for the Truth is a pretty conservative site, as you'd expect. So when William Lind, Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism, says this:

If other American units in Iraq could learn from cops like Lt. Waters how to de-escalate on the local, tactical level, and we could combine that with de-escalation on the strategic level through a deal with Ba'athist insurgents, we might still be able to avoid outright defeat.

Given the consequences of earlier errors such as disbanding the Iraqi army, that is as close to victory as we can now realistically hope to come.

...it's pretty serious for Bushco. The entire article is extremely interesting and tells how one Army unit led by a cop from Sacramento are slowly but surely making peace in their neck of the woods using police-type tactics:

"When the patrol (in Humvees) passes a busy street, Lieutenant Waters . . . tells his men to get out and start walking. As the foot patrol makes its way through the streets, an old Shiite woman in a black hejab invites Waters into her house. At the threshold, Waters politely waits.

"'I don't want to track the dirt from the street into your house,' he tells her .... Waters is trying to gain the trust of this tense district, where the US has previously been regarded with hatred and suspicion ....

After long months in this sector of Baghdad, Waters's company has not killed anyone nor has it lost a single soldier.

"'We are not killing machines; we are men,' Waters explains. 'I think if we can deal with the separation from our families, and not become hardhearted, we might just be able to leave here changed in a positive way.'

"'It's just like the Hippocratic oath,' he says. 'First, do no harm.'"

Amen! And for Lt. Waters and his soldiers - and, importantly, the civilians in their area - it's working. As Lind aptly points out:

He is dealing with the people of Baghdad the same way he deals with the people back home, politely and with a genuine desire to help. His unit has not killed anyone because Lt. Waters knows that cops succeed by de-escalating, not by escalating violence. Cops try very hard not to kill people. In fact, cops don't want to fight at all.

Just as having soldiers who want to fight is important in Second and Third Generation war, so not wanting to fight is key to success in the Fourth Generation. Any fight, whether won or lost, ultimately works against an outside power that is trying to damp down a Fourth Generation conflict.

Fighting ramps up disorder, and Fourth Generation entities thrive on disorder. Disorder undermines the local government's legitimacy, because disorder proves that government cannot provide security. Fighting usually means that locals get killed, and when that happens, the relatives and friends of the casualties are then obliged to join the fight to get revenge. Violence escalates, when success requires de-escalation.

Again, cops know all this. Here we see another lesson for 4GW: Reserve and National Guard units are more valuable than regular troops. Why? Because they contain a lot of cops. Lt. Waters is not the only cop who has succeeded in Iraq. Other Guard and Reserve units have let their cops take the lead, working the same way they do back home to de-escalate violence and bring security.

And security is what Iraqi civilians crave. All that the vast majority of them want to do is live their lives peaceably, the same as most of us.

Even so, what's worrisome is that Lind believes that these tactics cannot bring victory. All they can do is stave off "outright defeat." Is Rumsfeld listening? We know the Shrub isn't.

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