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Sergei

Covering up a mass killing

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...depressing circularity...

Speaking of circularity, can we ease up with the constant striving to sound smarter and more worldly-wise than each other? (I say "we" because I too have to resist this tendency.) I fail to see how this discussion can be served by always trying to make the other guy sound like he's an insensitive ignoramus.

"Hearts and minds," is a crock. It's political nonsense. It's the argument that the same hammer that wins battles can be used for every other job. It's fundamental misuse of power that gets innocent people killed.

And the creation of numberless future jihadi's is not a problem for you, then? Inflaming the passions of Muslims all over the world is not a problem in your view? My what a simple universe you live in, friend.

War is politics by other means. If something is, to you, "political nonsense", then I have to assume you have little grasp of - or concern about - the larger issues involved outside of the battlefield. This is asymmetrical warfare, not WW2. Defeating them on the battlefield is only part of a larger, broader strategy. And winning in one is no guarantee that you will not lose on the other.

Is it really reasonable to think that that is what bitchen frizzy means? Isn't it more reasonable to reckon that he means "don't send full-on combined-arms forces to do police-style COIN work, especially when they're not specifically trained for it"? It sounds to me like what he says shows that he does have a grasp of and a concern about "the larger issues involved outside of the battlefield". Isn't he basically saying that using a combined-arms army to conduct nation-building does create innumerable future mujahideen and is a problem?

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Just as I said, you blame the hammer for breaking things, not the person wielding it. Who decides policy? Who sends the military to do "nationbuilding"? In all your posts, not one word about the accountability of those who misuse military force, and those who vote for them. I find that very telling.

***

"Hearts and minds," is a crock. It's political nonsense. It's the argument that the same hammer that wins battles can be used for every other job. It's fundamental misuse of power that gets innocent people killed. No "hearts and minds" campaign in history has ever worked in the way the post-WWII U.S. has repeatedly tried and failed to do it.

I agree. In the aftermath of WW II the US Army, like so many others, was designed to fight the armies of large industrialized nations. It is armed and trained to bring the maximum of destruction in the shortest stretch of time against a foe. That's how you win that kind of war.

The catch is that since WW II we really haven't had to fight that kind of war. ODS was as close as we have gotten and we so overmatched the enemy there that it was almost a joke. For the rest of the time, our enemies and potential enemies (absent the USSR and China) realized that they didn't have a hope in hell of winning that kind of showdown, so they have switched tactics. They don't fight that kind of war. They fight a different kind of war in which they may have some kind of chance. And our response hasn't been all that effective or even intelligent. We throw rhetoric at them, call them terrorists and slaughter sometimes huge numbers of them. Unless conditions have been extraordinarily favorable, we've come off looking clueless and inept from Viet Nam to Iraq. If we can't come up with an effective counter-insurgency policy, one that is actually awake to the social and political realities at loose in the world, then we should pack up our toys and come home.

Michael

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The military did not decide to go to Iraq, they don't get to define the overall mission, and they don't get to decide when to come back.

No, but they do decide how to go about the job. See: McChrystal

No "hearts and minds" campaign in history has ever worked in the way the post-WWII U.S. has repeatedly tried and failed to do it.

Um ... isn't doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results pretty much the working definition of insanity?

You - and others on this thread - are willfully blind to the accountability of any other decisionmakers besides the soldiers themselves, including, of course, yourself.

Not at all. That's why this thread has two themes:

1) Apache pilots are gung-ho morons who are actively working AGAINST the US' interests and can't be trusted with a water pistol, and

2) Covering up cockups by higher commanders and decision makers actively works AGAINST the US' interests

When someone owns a dog that's trained to fight, like a guard dog, and it gets out of its owner's backyard and kills a neighborhood kid, who's to blame - the dog, the owner, or both?

Both. Hence 1 & 2 above.

Jon

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When someone owns a dog that's trained to fight, like a guard dog, and it gets out of its owner's backyard and kills a neighborhood kid, who's to blame - the dog, the owner, or both?

But you see some in this thread are holding the kid to blame.

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... at the time the RoE stated that ANYONE carrying a RPG was fair game and could be engaged regardless of whether they appeared to be a threat or not. ...

Mmmhmm. Which part of the ROE dealt with firing on those seeking to administer or administering aid to the wounded?

I can refer you to the bit of LOAC that deals with it, and ROE are - by definition - a subset of LOAC.

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Mmmhmm. Which part of the ROE dealt with firing on those seeking to administer or administering aid to the wounded?

I can refer you to the bit of LOAC that deals with it, and ROE are - by definition - a subset of LOAC.

Though of course here we come to the suitably grey area: LOAC and protocol III of the GCs refer to medical 'personnel' in this context. ie. those having some official status and capacity to ameliorate the condition of the sick or wounded.

Equally obviously, the uniform/non-uniform question has been the loophole that much of the most unsavoury **** over the last few years has been based on.

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No, but they do decide how to go about the job. See: McChrystal

Um ... isn't doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results pretty much the working definition of insanity?

Yes. Using mech infantry divisions to do police work, and expecting that to win hearts and minds while not harming civilians, is insanity.

The willful blindness comes in when you steadfastly refuse to admit that civilian decisionmaking - and voting - has anything to do with that. You put it all on the military, and thus excuse the dog owners.

Not at all. That's why this thread has two themes:

1) Apache pilots are gung-ho morons who are actively working AGAINST the US' interests and can't be trusted with a water pistol, and

2) Covering up cockups by higher commanders and decision makers actively works AGAINST the US' interests

Both. Hence 1 & 2 above.

Jon

In my analogy, the dog owners are the politicians and those who vote for them. "Polititicians" could include the Pentagon brass, who are essentially Washington beaurocrats who by definition work as least as closely with the civilian policymakers as they do with the field commanders.

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"The hearts and minds is a crock. It's political nonsense."

And the creation of numberless future jihadi's is not a problem for you, then? Inflaming the passions of Muslims all over the world is not a problem in your view? My what a simple universe you live in, friend.

Diedrich and Emrys understand me correctly. I refer you to their responses.

It's not that the universe is simple, it's that some things never change, but we - as a nation - keep expecting that they will. "In war, civilians get killed." Yes, that's simple. Almost a tautology.

But just because something is simple, doesn't mean it's not true and immutable fact. 2+2=4 is also simple, but does believing that 2+2=4 make a person asimpleton who can't learn higher math, or is it necessary to first understand this in order to learn higher math? "Hearts and minds," post WWII, includes the belief that we've found a way around simple truths about war, like we don't need to learn basics anymore to do advanced stuff.

"War is politics..." yes, yes. But to use that political tool correctly, don't the politicians have to know the basics, and understand wtf they're doing with the tools they have? After the last several years, don't you have any doubts yet that they do? Doesn't it faintly concern you that politicians who can't even find Iraq on a map are using an advanced and dangerous political tool like war?

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Just as I said, you blame the hammer for breaking things, not the person wielding it. Who decides policy? Who sends the military to do "nationbuilding"? In all your posts, not one word about the accountability of those who misuse military force, and those who vote for them. I find that very telling.

The military did not decide to go to Iraq, they don't get to define the overall mission, and they don't get to decide when to come back.

"Hearts and minds," is a crock. It's political nonsense. It's the argument that the same hammer that wins battles can be used for every other job. It's fundamental misuse of power that gets innocent people killed. No "hearts and minds" campaign in history has ever worked in the way the post-WWII U.S. has repeatedly tried and failed to do it.

You - and others on this thread - are willfully blind to the accountability of any other decisionmakers besides the soldiers themselves, including, of course, yourself.

When someone owns a dog that's trained to fight, like a guard dog, and it gets out of its owner's backyard and kills a neighborhood kid, who's to blame - the dog, the owner, or both?

In the U.S., it's been a long struggle, with much still to do, to get laws passed holding dog owners criminally responsible for harm done by their dogs, and to get police and courts to take the cases seriously. The dog gets put to sleep or shot, but the owner gets a slap on the wrist if anything. I understand why now - it's really the same mentality at work.

We're using attack dogs - mech inf with air support - to do a sheepdog's job in Iraq, and we sure don't want to be blamed if anyone gets hurt. It's the dog's fault! Prosecute him!

Nice analogy. The difference between dogs and members of the US military, of course, is that members of the US military are citizens, they have human brains, and they are responsible for their actions. Putting on the uniform does not free them from the obligation of acting like responsible citizens.

If you have to choose, if you ask me, it is better to be a responsible citizen, than a "good" soldier; see Hugh Thompson and Nuernburg.

How many officers have resigned their commissions, because they refuse to participate in destructive combined arms operations against a civilian population with a few insurgents mixed in to it? Or refuse to sign off on nighttime raids of a family family where a "terrorist suspect" might be living?

How many NCOs have stood up to their officers, told them "No sir, I ain't gonna assault that street that way, we could kill too many civilians." Or jacked up a private for throwing candy and MREs really hard at children?

How many private soldiers have taken a stand during down time, talking to his buds, when some one spouts off about the Hadjis or the sand you-know-whats, and said "Dude, these people you are dehumanizing, they are people, and what's more it's people we need to get on our side to end this war." How many have written their Congressman, and said "In my unit, training on local customs is treated as a big joke, and most of us just sleep through it."

You say: "You make those changes, you get soldiers behaving that way, it would upend the military as we know it."

I say: "Damn right, that's just what we need."

Is the mind of the US military, as an organization, willing to reject its traditions of killing the enemy, skill with weapons, and small unit cohesion, and trade that for the restrained, measured use of force, where success is measured not in how many enemy killed and wounded, but in how many people stayed alive after the job was done?

Or is the collective mind of the US military more along the lines of: "This counter-insurgency war stuff sucks, it's no fun at all, so we'll do the tour, pay lip service to the heats and minds thing, complain about unfair everything is to us, and keep on collecting our paychecks. If we only get to do our combined arms thing and impress ourselves at how awesome we are, well, at least we still get to do it sometimes."

At bottom, it's a very simple problem. There is an insurgency, and since time immemorial governments have used armies to deal with insurgencies. In the old days, it was a matter of just killing every one who resembled an insurgent. But times have changed.

Today, a US platoon can go into a firefight and expect most times every one on the US side will be alive when it's over, when in the past you just had to accept a couple of killed or wounded which adds up over time, which is why it sucked to be in the infantry in the past. Fortunately, the soldiers in today's army don't have to deal with that. Their job is, compared to past insurgencies, quite safe. Coolio.

But also today, a US force does not have the option of unleashing all the firepower it has available to it. If they do, they will almost certainly kill civilians by accident, and since times have changed killing every one indiscriminately is no longer an option - the worldwide media will broadcast the facts, and that will inflame the insurgency. They can't block out the media because, first on your side you come from a country that says an unfettered media is a good thing, and second the other side has ready access to media they can't suppress. Downer.

So the "challenge" to the modern soldier is adapt to the modern circumstances.

Me, I see very little willingness to adapt. Sure the rules of engagement are roughly followed, but as we have seen it is possible to follow the letter of the rules of engagement and still kill people indiscriminately, and it is possible to follow the spirit of the rules of engagement and accept friendly risk in exchange for reduced civilian casualties.

Right now, I see a good old boy network that just wants to keep things the way they are. I see a continuing fascination with special operations and super-duper individual soldiers, without even a discussion on what impact it has when you place US citizens with that kind of attitude, in a foreign country where it is difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

I see a bureaucracy - and by this I mean men and women sworn to protect the constitution - far more concerned with preserving the status quo, and their careers, than thinking about what changes are necessary to achieve the political goals the people, via the government, have set the military.

I see plenty of generals saying "we lack this or that", but no generals - and these are guys who supposedly devoted their entire adult lives to defending the interests of the republic - saying anything remotely resembling "Given the resources the people are willing to devote to these wars, and the civilian will for victory, we can't win. Unless that changes, we are throwing away money and lives on a lost cause."

Most of these generals are smart guys and lived through the Vietnam era. Pretty much all of them know how awful things were in the US military, post-Vietnam. Are they, as a group, doing anything to avoid a repeat of that disaster? Or are they just parroting the official line that "we're doing well, we can win, just trust us and keep sending the money," until they retire and can start double-dipping? Isn't that moral cowardice?

Yes, yes, we now have senior generals that can talk pretty about counter-insurgency. You bring them to Congress, they say all the right things to the cameras. But the measure of a general is not his public-speaking skills, but his ability to get the men under his command to achieve the goals set his army by the nation.

You want to talk about accountability, fine. Let the soldiers be accountable for their actions.

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How many officers have resigned their commissions...

How many NCOs have stood up to their officers...

How many private soldiers have ...

Very few, compared to the ones who haven't.

And, in every long war in history, the violence gets worse and more inhumane as the conflict drags on. That's one other basic equation of warfare that many people believe we can somehow solve with the right training.

At bottom, it's a very simple problem. There is an insurgency, and since time immemorial governments have used armies to deal with insurgencies. In the old days, it was a matter of just killing every one who resembled an insurgent. But times have changed.

No, times haven't changed. Why? Because if the occupier (soldiers and voters at home) doesn't have the stomach for killing the insurgents, the insurgents won't quit. A very simple equation, there, too. I said before, no successful "hearts and minds" campaign in history has ever gone the way that you argue they ought to.

And in what you say, you illustrate a mindset that there's a clear distinction between armed insurgents and the populace, and that's exactly the thinking behind the belief that the insurgents can be dealt with conventionally and apart from the civilians just like on a WWII battlefield where they are two different things.

In what you are saying, you demonstrate that you and the military decisionmakers are looking at this problem in much the same way, when it comes right down to it: the U.S. can fight a successful "hearts and minds" campaign because times have changed and war isn't what it used to be, keeping soldiers from committing atrocities as the war drags on is merely a matter of discipline and training, and the insurgents can be sorted from the populace and dealt with then the war will be over. 1) FALSE 2) FALSE 3) FALSE

Let the soldiers be accountable for their actions.

Never said they shouldn't be. But that's a false dichotomy. Actually it's quite possible to both hold soldier in the field accountable for atrocities, while also holding politicians accountable.

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BF,

I'm not saying the hearts and minds campaign can be won. On the contrary. I think it's a big fat waste of lives and resources.

My point about conflicts having changed I think, is valid. Way back when, say WW2 or so, it was pretty easy to kill civilians wholesale, and also pretty easy to control the information getting back to your population about the war. I think it's pretty clear that paradigm has changed. These days, the actions of your military are under a microscope and made public; and what's worse the other side can throw information out there as well, and your public is going to see that too, and it's not enough just to dismiss it.

I am sort of neutral to atrocities, and what's much more insidious simple errors that kill people. Not that I think they're particularly useful, but I concede they are pretty much inevitable in an armed conflict. But the way I see it, if you can't kill every one, then you have to try and control the atrocities and errors. And if you can't do that, then don't get into that kind of conflict.

My question is, if the soldiers see the same thing, if they are getting killed and maimed in what they see as a lost cause, if their brothers in arms are getting killed and maimed in that lost cause, then why are so many of the soldiers keeping quiet?

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With kudos to all who have made valid points here - and most have - I just have to conclude my contribution by saying that humans are showing little ability to rise above their emotions to solve the problems of our day. Our leaders, who most of all should be reasonable, logical and learned, are instead just as emotional and reactionary - if not also as ignorant - as the players on the ground. The other side's leaders are no better, if not worse. It says little good about the species. Not much civilized going on out there, I'm afraid. Education, not indoctrination, is a part of the answer, but beyond that it takes men and women who will rise to the occasion, who will shape history. I don't really see many of them in the circuit or on the horizon. Maybe we used up our quota last century...

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... I said before, no successful "hearts and minds" campaign in history has ever gone the way that you argue they ought to.

... because times have changed and war isn't what it used to be, keeping soldiers from committing atrocities as the war drags on is merely a matter of discipline and training, and the insurgents can be sorted from the populace and dealt with then the war will be over. 1) FALSE 2) FALSE 3) FALSE

This merely shows a lack of perspective and imagination on your part.

There have been successful H&M campaigns.

The nature of war hasn't changed, but what is acceptable has (and, for the record; Iraq isn't a war, and the sooner you stop thinking of it that way the better)

Discipline is a training issue, and also a morale issue. Maintaining discipline to avoid atrocities is critical.

'Sorting the insurgents from the population and dealing with them' is a red herring. The insurgents ARE the population. You don't have to 'deal' with them, you just have to stop them insurging. You can try to do that by shooting them and everyone that looks a little bit like them and everyone around them, but that's been a spectacular failure. So, try something else, like, oh, how about NOT shooting everyone?

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How many private soldiers have taken a stand during down time, talking to his buds, when some one spouts off about the Hadjis or the sand you-know-whats, and said "Dude, these people you are dehumanizing, they are people, and what's more it's people we need to get on our side to end this war." How many have written their Congressman, and said "In my unit, training on local customs is treated as a big joke, and most of us just sleep through it."

When I saw this video of a US Army tank crew crushing an Iraqi's car, a lot of questions occurred to me.

Did it ever occur to them that their actions would teach the Iraqis present, not to no longer loot, but to be even more sympathetic to and cooperative with insurgents? What excuses did they make to their LT or PSGT about coming back with fewer full pistol magazines than they had when they left? If their LT or PSGT even found out the reason why they had few full pistols mags when they got back to the FOB (i.e., if they found out about the incident itself), did the tankers get a chewing-out about misusing their weapons and their vehicle? Did the tankers' buddies express any sort of disapproval, or did they congratulate them for "showin' the hajjis they can't get away with ****"? If any of the tankers' buddies did disapprove, was their expression of disapproval muffled or silenced by their sense of loyalty to their brothers-in-arms?

In other words, aren't junior NCOs and enlisted men more likely to cover each other's backs than to risk seeming traitors to the primary group by expressing disapproval of each other's misbehavior?

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Our leaders, who most of all should be reasonable, logical and learned, are instead just as emotional and reactionary - if not also as ignorant - as the players on the ground.

I have to wonder about that. Politicians are actors, Reagan was by no means the first. They try to portray themselves as being whatever will be popular with the citizenry. It is pretty finely calculated, even if miscalculated at times. The populace tends to mistrust smart people to rule over them. Thus, the politicians adopt a pose of "Aw shucks" simple-mindedness. It plays well in Peoria.

Michael

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http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/83220

This book analyses the British success in defeating Communism in Malaya - an almost unique feat. It looks at all the factors in combination - military, political, cultural and economic - rather than isolating just one subject. The Malayan Emergency starts with an overview of the state of Malaya in 1948 and reviews the troubles and problems during and after the Second World War that had made the country such a ripe target for insurrection. It goes on to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the two sides in 1948 before describing the history of the long-running Emergency, and looking at the impact on the campaign of the personalities involved: Chin Peng, the Communist Secretary General; Gent and Gurney, the two High Commissioners who died tragically and violently in office; and, of course, Templer, famed as the 'Tiger of Malaya', who effectively brought victory to Malaya.

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This merely shows a lack of perspective and imagination on your part.

There have been successful H&M campaigns.

Well, it takes quite a bit of imagination to compare that example to Iraq. Your example is both sides of a dispute welcoming outside monitoring. Not even remotely the same as an invasion and occupation.

The nature of war hasn't changed, but what is acceptable has (and, for the record; Iraq isn't a war, and the sooner you stop thinking of it that way the better)

Give it a name, then, if you don't like the word "war." Any euphemism you like. It doesn't change the history, and what's happening on the ground.

'Sorting the insurgents from the population and dealing with them' is a red herring. The insurgents ARE the population.

That's one of my main points. It's not a case of their being "insurgents" and "civilians" that can be clearly distinguished from each other, especially in an urban area. You have to be deliberately obtuse to fail to understand how uninvolved civilians can get killed in a situation where the insurgents are hard to distinguish from the innocents.

You don't have to 'deal' with them, you just have to stop them insurging.

How do you do that nonviolently? How do you stop armed resistance to a foreign invader without hurting anyone?

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To address a remark made by angryson a few pages back.

Once you are "in-country" the only thing that matters is your squad and your platoon.

This is the problem, right there.

If you prefer to blow away a group of people hanging at a street corner who may or may not have a weapon, to avoid making a mistake that may get one of your buddies killed, then you will fail at urban counterinsurgency, and you ought not to be in a country having the power of life or death over the civilian population.

I was in Baghdad in 2007 too. And 2003. And 2004. And 2005. And 2006. The US military was a genuine bulwark against the worst depredations of the Jaysh al-Mahdi's more brutal commanders, and the Qaeda-affiliated branch of the insurgency, and saved a lot of lives. It also killed a lot of people unnecessarily. Some US troops I met were genuine heroes, and risked their own lives to save Iraqis. Others made it pretty clear that they didn't give a sh*t about Iraqi lives. Some commanders made a real effort to try to prevent the deaths of non-combatants. Others tried to cover up their units' deadly mistakes. I'd actually guess that the latter group were probably the more popular commanders, the ones who were perceived to really care about their men.

How do you stop armed resistance to a foreign invader without hurting anyone?

It's not a question of not hurting anyone, but how frequently you hurt the wrong people. Put less of a priority on force protection (we ultimately had to do this anyway) and put even less priority on protecting the career of an otherwise good commander whose loyalty to his own men completely eclipses his obligation to the non-combatants in his AO. Care a little more about Iraqis, which in an insurgency necessarily means that you care a little less about Americans.

More specifically, take the phrase "reasonable certainty" in the ROE seriously. If the only way that you can be reasonably sure that the device in question is an RPG is to let them take the shot, then let them take the shot. Most likely, it will cause no damage. You have to weigh the small possibility that hesitation will lead to your buddies getting killed, to the significant possibility that engaging will get Iraqi non-combatants killed. The life of an Iraqi cannot count for zero in your calculus. If it does, then you're a liability to the mission, and a threat to whatever unit has to clean up your mess after you and your buddies have rotated out.

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It's not a question of not hurting anyone, but how frequently you hurt the wrong people. Put less of a priority on force protection (we ultimately had to do this anyway) and put even less priority on protecting the career of an otherwise good commander whose loyalty to his own men completely eclipses his obligation to the non-combatants in his AO. Care a little more about Iraqis, which in an insurgency necessarily means that you care a little less about Americans.

Fair enough. Will that altogether eliminate occurrences of incidents like the one this thread's about, or just reduce them? Are there better choices of weapons and tactics than Apaches providing interdiction?

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Will that altogether eliminate occurrences of incidents like the one this thread's about, or just reduce them?

Reduce, I would think.

Are there better choices of weapons and tactics than Apaches providing interdiction?

I'm not in the military (I was one of those much-maligned media folks) and I'm not qualified to say.

I can say, however, that...

1) Based on the transcript, whatever the Apache crew thought was "reasonable certainty" has little to do with my understanding of the term

2) Most of the ground units in which I embedded, I think, would have recognized that civilians move about pretty regularly during heavy fighting, and might even try to peek around corners and/or rescue the injured

3) There seemed to be an awful lot of this kind of incident involving Apaches in eastern Baghdad

4) It could pretty easily have been me, either in the US ground unit that was thought to have been threatened by the cameraman, or in the Iraqi SUV that stopped to pick up the injured. I don't think my driver and colleagues would have let someone bleed to death, if we were passing by.

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Well, it takes quite a bit of imagination to compare that example to Iraq. Your example is both sides of a dispute welcoming outside monitoring. Not even remotely the same as an invasion and occupation.

Well, your assertion was "... no successful 'hearts and minds' campaign in history has ever gone the way that you argue they ought to ...", so that was the assertion I responded to.

If you'd like to change your position to something like "... no successful 'hearts and minds' campaign in Iraqi history has ever gone the way that you argue they ought to ...", well, I guess that'd be ok. But that's a quite different - and far less useful - conversation.

Incidentally, both sides in Bouganville did not 'welcome' outside monitoring. They agreed to it, but in fact the rebels were quite opposed and put considerable effort into derailing the process. The Govt did likewise, although to a lesser extent.

Is Bouganville exactly the same as Iraq? No, obviously not. For starters, it was a success.

Give it a name, then, if you don't like the word "war." Any euphemism you like. It doesn't change the history, and what's happening on the ground.

Words mean things, and you abuse them at your peril.

FWIW, I think you - the US - would have had much more success had you treated the insurgency as a law enforcement problem, rather than a military problem. By that I do NOT mean exclude the military from a role. What I do mean is that a law enforcement problem implies different things about who's in charge, and what level of force and types of weapons are acceptable.

That's one of my main points. It's not a case of their being "insurgents" and "civilians" that can be clearly distinguished from each other, especially in an urban area. You have to be deliberately obtuse to fail to understand how uninvolved civilians can get killed in a situation where the insurgents are hard to distinguish from the innocents.

No, you still don't get it. You can't distinguish them because the insurgents ARE civilians. Not all civlians are insurgents, but all insurgents are civilians. Thinking of them as two distinct groups is wrong headed.

How do you do that nonviolently? How do you stop armed resistance to a foreign invader without hurting anyone?

Ah, well that's why commanders get paid the big bucks and I'm sitting here chatting on a forum. In Bouganville they did it by pre-emptively disarming the monitoring force, and then getting the opposing factions to put their weapons away too. The factions did NOT hand their weapons over, they just stopped carrying them around all the time. That was the start point, from which a bunch of other things became possible. However, it was quite clear to the PMG that the process would quickly fall apart once the first shot had been fired ... so they worked very hard to ensure that first shot didn't happen.

One thing to remember is that the aim is NOT to 'punish' all past, present, and potential future insurgents. All that is required to meet the aim is that they stop insurging. If they thereby 'get away' with some insurging, but a lasting peace breaks out ... is that wrong or a failure?

Jon

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Well, your assertion was "... no successful 'hearts and minds' campaign in history has ever gone the way that you argue they ought to ...", so that was the assertion I responded to.

If you'd like to change your position to something like "... no successful 'hearts and minds' campaign in Iraqi history has ever gone the way that you argue they ought to ...", well, I guess that'd be ok. But that's a quite different - and far less useful - conversation.

Incidentally, both sides in Bouganville did not 'welcome' outside monitoring. They agreed to it, but in fact the rebels were quite opposed and put considerable effort into derailing the process. The Govt did likewise, although to a lesser extent.

The source you provided me had this to say about the Peace Monitoring Group.

..."This group was made up of both civilian and defence personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu. Both sides of the conflict welcomed the group being on Bougainville. This support remained strong throughout the PMG's deployment."

From that, I concluded that both sides of the conflict welcomed the group being on Bougainville.

But, I was inspired to do some research, and it turns out that the PMG persuaded the sides to disarm after a bloody civil war that both sides were tired of fighting. Also, the PMG was not the invader.

So, I'll change what I said to this, "No hearts and minds campaign conducted by an invader (as opposed to an invited mediator at the end of a civil war) has ever gone the way you argue it ought to." Better?

Words mean things, and you abuse them at your peril.

I'm calling an invasion and armed occupation a "war." Like I said, if you've got another word for it let's hear it.

If you're arguing that at some point there should have been a transition from occupation to police action, I can understand that.

FWIW, I think you - the US - would have had much more success had you treated the insurgency as a law enforcement problem, rather than a military problem. By that I do NOT mean exclude the military from a role. What I do mean is that a law enforcement problem implies different things about who's in charge, and what level of force and types of weapons are acceptable.

But if those being policed are using military weaponry, the police will need a lot of military support, won't they? Maybe attack helicopters are overkill, but if the police bring a knife to a gunfight they won't ever be able to pacify those who believe they are resisting an outside invader.

No, you still don't get it. You can't distinguish them because the insurgents ARE civilians. Not all civlians are insurgents, but all insurgents are civilians. Thinking of them as two distinct groups is wrong headed.

Let me try again. I agree with you that insurgents are civilians. I do not think of them as two groups. Now can you agree that if insurgents are civilians, in civilian dress and driving civilian vehicles, then trying to distinguish insurgents from non-insurgents can be difficult - much more difficult than those finding fault from the comfort of their living rooms make it out to be? I'm arguing against those that claim the soldiers in incidents like this should have had no difficulty in distinguishing the combatants from the noncombatants, and in knowing whether a given nondescript minivan was a personnel carrier or not.

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And since we're dealing with semantics, let's not forget that the very word "insurgent" is one of those nice euphemisms so often used to redefine the elephant in the living room as a coffee table.

The "insurgents" might think of themselves as "guerrillas" or "resisters", and they might call the "insurgency" a "guerilla war."

So what might their perspective of "hearts and minds" be? When the "insurgents" are the "good guys", don't we use the word "collaborator" to describe the civilians who buy into "hearts and minds"?

And if the "insurgents" should be "policed", doesn't that mean we are defining them as "criminals" or "outlaws"?

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