tobias c. van Veen on Tue, 25 Apr 2006 22:14:28 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The Theory of Counterinsurgency in Six Easy Paragraphs

Apologies if this has already been posted, but it's rather... well written.
best, tV

The Theory of Counterinsurgency in Six Easy Paragraphs
By William Christie
January 31, 2006

Special to Defense and the National Interest


A neighbor and I were discussing my previous commentary, Still
Looking Out From the Forest of Iraq: At Iran.

"I know the media's all hot about Iran," he said. "But I'm a lot
more worried about Iraq."

"You're not alone," I said. "Even when the military officers I
correspond with talk about Iran, their minds are still on Iraq."

"I don't know who to believe," he said. "If you listen to the press,
it's all bad and the military and government are selling you a bill
of goods. If you listen to the military and government, we're
winning and the press is only looking for the bad."

"They might both be right," I said. "In counterinsurgency you can
win all the battles and still lose the war."

He asked me to explain that, and I said I'd try and put a few
thoughts down on paper.

"Wait a minute," he said. "I know you writers like to write. How
about something short."

"That's a tall order," I said. "It's a subject that doesn't led
itself to short."

"I have a job and a wife and kids I like to spent time with," he
replied. "I need short. And how about something I can relate to?"

So here is a theory of counterinsurgency. In six paragraphs and the
form of a parable. Set in the rural South, where we both live.

The house next door to you is sold, and the people who move in are
white supremacist skinheads. You discover that they've started up a
methamphetamine lab in their basement. You think about calling your
County Sheriff's Department, but you're not so sure. The cops strike
you as generally overweight and none too swift. The only time you
ever see them is in the mall, two cruisers parked side by side, the
deputies gossiping and waiting for the next radio call instead of
being on patrol. You're afraid that if you tell them about your
neighbors the news will leak out and you'll get your house burned
down one night. After all, you have a wife and kids and a mortgage.

But one day the SWAT team shows up to serve a warrant and kicks down
the neighbor's door and drags them off to jail. You're incredibly
pleased and highly relieved. You vow that the next time the
Department is doing some charity work you'll write a check. And you
tell one of the deputies that if he sees you out in the yard to stop
and you'll let him know what's going on in the neighborhood.

Now let's shift that scenario to a slightly alternate universe where
the Bill of Rights doesn't apply. The Sheriff's Department gets the
word that someone in the neighborhood is cooking meth. They don't
know who, but since no one in the neighborhood is telling them
anything they think everyone might be white supremacists. So one
night they kick down your door looking for the meth lab. They point
guns at your kids and your wife and scare them half to death. While
searching your home they break your furniture and throw your
belongings everywhere. And they slap you around trying to get you to
tell them where the meth lab is. By now you've forgotten all about
your scary neighbors=97you just want to get even with those cops.

Even worse, let's say that the cops find out exactly where the meth
lab is. But they're afraid of the neighborhood, and they don't want
to get shot at taking down the lab. So they call in a fighter bomber
and drop a 500 lb guided bomb on your neighbor's house. That takes
care of the meth lab, but it also blows down one wall of your house,
breaks every window, and destroys the car you need to get to work
every day. You don't know what you're going to do.

A couple of nights later, another neighbor comes to your door and
says he's making a bomb to blow up the next patrol car that comes
down the road. And would you help him dig the hole for $100?

You'd probably do it for nothing, wouldn't you?


William Christie is a former Marine Corps infantry officer who left
the Corps as a First Lieutenant in 1987. He is the author of 5
novels, including most recently The Blood We Shed, currently in
hardcover from ibooks. And Threat Level, which will be published in
October by Pinnacle Books/Kensington Press. He can be reached at

Also by William Christie: Still Looking Out From the Forest of Iraq:
At Iran

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