Thursday, June 20, 2002

I don't read Joe Katzman's Winds of Change as much as I ought to (especially considering that on at least one site we've been placed beside each other on the blogroll), but when I do I find myself of two minds about the site. On the one hand, his investigation of the concept of "fourth-generation warfare" is a really good breakdown of the tactics and strategy of asymmetrical conflict. On the other hand, well...

There can be no doubt that response to the use of WMD against us would be massive--probably nuclear. Yet even this awesome prospect might not deter a fanatic who cared nothing for his own country or safety. We already see such a mentality at work in the suicide bombers.

Now, this isn't actually his: this is from former British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher, but he quotes it approvingly. The statement itself, however, is a rather stunning misinterpretation of exactly what suicide bombing is all about, and is merely parroting the dubious idea that state leaders are suicidal madmen (which certainly isn't the case in Iraq, and Iran's mullahs are too busy contending with their own citizenry's desire for change). As to the first concept, the suicide bombers that we most know and understand are Palestinians, and despite the Islamic rhetoric that is at least on some level a secular conflict between two groups; since that secular goal is the liberation of the Palestinian people from what they believe to be brutal oppression, why on earth would any rational Palestinian invite that kind of response? The idea that Palestinian suicide bombers "care nothing for his own country" is utter nonsense.

As to the other conceit, that Arab leaders are suicidally reckless... please. There may be a case for them inciting other people into suicidal acts, but I defy Ms. Thatcher to produce evidence of a leader that wishes to destroy both himself and his country for any cause, any at all. Half the reason these tyrants are so hated (and often justifiably so) is because they have little or no morals, Islamic or otherwise. There may be some that act crazy in order to intimidate their neighbours (Stratfor thoroughly explored this aspect of the North Korean government years ago), but by and large states still act in their own interests, whether that state is led by a tyrant or by a representative government.

As for the notion of Iran being a nation of uncontrollable fanatics... well, I've already talked about that, so I'll just add that it betrays an incredibly simplistic conception of Iranian politics, one that has more to do with a Tom Clancy novel than anything approaching reality. Winds of Change is a great strategic resource, but I wonder about whether Joe is extending his considerable strategic mind to his political analysis. Iran may be a Islamic state, but it remains a state.

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