Goodbye 4GW, Hello Transactional Warfare

Guest blogger Daniel Markham posts a followup to his post on The First Media War.

There have been some great books lately on how warfare is both returning to its desultory roots and evolving from Mao’s war to a decentralized trans-national threat. One buzzword is 4GW, which stands for Fourth Generation Warfare. The general idea behind all of these works is that war keeps evolving, and understanding how it is evolving is essential for winning it.

Indeed, “What war are we fighting?” seems to be a popular topic among armchair Generals, and real Generals too. In a recent article in Armed Forces Journal, Major General Bob Scales, Ret, after digging up the ghost of Clausewitz for yet another trip through the briar patch, says it’s World War IV and we need to understand what the “amplifying factors” are. Amplifiers are not “multipliers” or “enablers” in that their influence on the course of war is nonlinear rather than linear; amplifiers don’t simply accelerate the trends of the past, they make war different.

For example, World War I was a chemists’ war in that the decisive strategic advantage on the battlefield was driven in large measure by new applications of chemistry and chemical engineering. The war should have ended for the Germans in 1915 when their supplies of gunpowder nitrates exhausted. But the synthesis of nitrates by
German scientists allowed the war to continue for another three horrific years. World War II was a physicists’ war. To paraphrase Churchill, the atom bomb ended the conflict, but exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum in the form of the wireless and radar won it for the allies. “World War III” was the “information researchers'” war, a war in which intelligence and knowledge of the enemy and the ability to fully exploit that knowledge allowed the U.S. to defeat the Soviet Union with relatively small loss of life.

So what does General Scales and the academic he quotes think is going to be the amplifier in WWIV?

…controlling amplifier will be human and biological rather than organizational or technological. From his theory we can postulate a new vision of the battlefield, one that shifts from the traditional linear construct to a battlefield that is amoebic in shape; it is distributed, dispersed, nonlinear, and essentially formless in space and unbounded in time. This war and all to follow will be what I would call “psycho-cultural” wars.

The General goes on to say that sociologists are going to be needed in the new war along with scientific psychology “Cultural psychology can teach us to better understand both common elements of human culture and how they differ. An understanding of these commonalities and differences can help gain local allies, fracture enemy subgroups, avoid conflicts among allies, promote beneficial alliances and undermine enemy alliances. ”

I think the general is on to something here. Populations and attitudes play a critical role in our next war, even if it gets a lot hotter. The goal of any war is to make the enemy stop fighting, whether that enemy is one guy on the internet or an entire national command structure. There are obviously roles that culture play, and psychology and the way people think is an important part of all of this.

In short, I think the general is so close it’s a crying shame, as we say in the south. But a war for social scientists and scientific psychology? It seems that the general would keep the Armed Forces the same, and just “smarten up” the way we select and train people, sprinkling some little buzz words from the towers of academia over them as they head off into battle.

I know I’m new to the party, and I don’t have any stars on my collar, but I beg to disagree. Close, but no banana. The general is so close — the answer is sitting right under his nose.

Carl von Clausewitz, military philosopher
Is war a continuation of commerce by other means? Must we choose between “wrestling” or “politics”? Can’t it be both?

This is not the social-sciences war. Those guys couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag. This is the businessman’s war. And it’s a war for which we are overwhelmingly prepared.

Welcome to Transactional Warfare.

Transactional Warfare states that the battlefield is described by messages and options, as I posted earlier. That the side that wins is the side that, by use of options and messages causes the other side to be unable to make any sales.

Sales? That’s right. Sales. TW stipulates that the fight for ideas, for hearts and minds, for psycho-cultural values, is a fight that businessmen have been engaged with for hundreds of years. That we have evolved the tools, separate from the military, to scale a discussion from one person selling a used car to launching a complex product line in a foreign market. We can measure, plan, and fight other ideas in any culture in the world. We can integrate media, messages, options, positioning to maximum benefit. Heck, we’ve even been known to integrate low-level armed conflict into our product campaigns. This is idea warfare, meme warfare, product warfare, and it’s what we know best.

But back to definitions for a minute.

Messages that are relevant to a population can be discovered fairly easily. In business, we call these “Key Selling Points“, “Unique Selling Propositions“, “Value Statements”, or “Political Maneuvers” (one good Clausewitz deserves a Machiavelli. >) In addition, there is a strategic position for any population for any set of messages and options. This relationship of options and messages in the market can be graphed, and opportunities discovered. In fact, a similar process is used for new products that are being brought to market — the goal is to position the product in the market to the maximum degree possible.

Sample Strategic Positioning Chart
Sample chart demonstrating for any message and its converse, various options can be plotted to show weaknesses and opportunities. Sample data only

Transactions are an exchange of economic value for a change in options and a delivery of messages. This is my column, I get to make the rules. A transaction, by this definition, can consist of a door-to-door salesmen selling vacuum cleaners. It can also consist of a laser-targeted bomb taking out a building where terrorist hide. Yes — it is wooly and it covers a lot of ground, but the new war also covers a lot of ground, if you haven’t noticed. The key concept is that every transaction in a market changes the risk of terrorism in that market.

That is, if I sell a cell phone from a street-corner in Baghdad, I have changed the risk of terrorism, to a very small degree. If I give a hundred dollars to tsunami relief, I have changed the risk of terrorism. If an Iraqi police commando team storms an insurgent hideout, the risk of terrorism changes. If the opposition party in Spain runs TV spots calling to get out of Iraq immediately, it changes the risk of terrorism — transactions are not good or bad based on how they change the immediate risk! Sometimes increasing short term risk might well be worth it in the long term, as in messages and options from the loyal opposition. But each transaction, the options it changes and the messages it sends, changes the war at a tactical level. That must be acknowledged.

In the past, we have concentrated on transactions that work at the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid — we spend money, the bomb or the solider kills you. The message is that if you capitulate, we stop sending the bombs. This seems like a clean-cut and “honest” transaction for westerners. We like the simplicity. Other cultures, however, view the concept of war in a much more nuanced light. There are all sorts of capitulation, for example. I might not openly take up arms, but do so covertly. I might not take up arms at all, but might support those who do. If we are fighting a fluid, amoebic, and “fuzzy” war, we’re going to need better tools than body counts and exchange ratios.

So what is terrorism, anyway? Isn’t it the decision by a person or persons to hurt other people? A decision to use stealth to deliberately attack civilians in order to change political realities? In effect, a “sale” has been made by the opposition. All throughout their life, this person heard messages from both sides of the debate, finally choosing where to put their money (life). Their understanding of the messages of both sides, and their understanding of what options are available to them, directly contribute to the sale.

>From a population standpoint, the risk of a single person becoming a terrorist is very similar to the risk of a single person getting cancer, or dying early, or having an accident. Insurance companies manage these risks all the time. We have plenty of tools and methodologies for measuring and managing risk in a population. Why aren’t we using them?

Each transaction changes the risks, to a small degree. If we understand that ALL transactions have this effect, and we understand that we can measure risk before and after groups of transactions, then it follows that we should group transactions together into coordinated efforts to change the risk of terrorism. We should measure, promote, and coordinate those groups of transactions that do us the most good.

I’m not trying to be mushy or soft. Killing a terrorist with a sniper is a perfectly good transaction to reduce the risk of terrorism. The larger point, however, is that we need a management and planning structure that easily scales up from transaction groups that give free water bottles to villagers to small unit tactics. We need a philosophy of warfare that encompasses fatwas as well as sneak-and -peeks. We need an integrated command, planning, execution, and measurement environment. Else everybody — all of our allies, all of our departments and agencies, all of our NGOs — goes their own way, and we loose the synergy that would otherwise be available to us.

We have some clear models for terrorism that we can use. Terrorism is a risk in the population that can be measured and tracked. We have industries and experts that know how to do this in the private sector. The marketing and sales of terrorism, (or acts of terrorism) is also a concept that we can track and plan for. We have the best experts in the world at motivating people to make decisions, and better yet, we have management and planning structures to do this. Key Selling Points can be determined and plotted against market share. Finally, opportunities can be identified and projects put together to maximize economic return in the Long War. Start-ups and new product lines each day, all over this country, are identifying holes in mind share and market share and pinpoint targeting products to go into those spots.

None of this is anything new. If you were to ask, say, Coca-Cola to sell blue soda in Pakistan, within a few weeks they could tell you who the thought leaders were in the market, where the market was strategically and tactically, where the other products were, and what overall strategy would work best. They could tell you how much money it would cost, how the media and ground campaign would come off, and what type of return they would expect. Do you think a presidential candidate tries out any new platform without an almost exact understanding of where it will move the electorate? To be more provocative, if Baghdad asked BlackWater USA, the best PR firm in the Mideast, and a civil engineering firm from Jordan (note the combination of options and messages) to secure some city in Iraq and turned them loose to do it — would that be more or less effective than what is going on now? I understand that some of this is art, but there is also much science. Moving people to action is something we in the commercial sector have been working on for centuries. And better still, we have lots of examples of it working or not working all around us.

Why not use them?

72 thoughts on “Goodbye 4GW, Hello Transactional Warfare”

  1. Sigh… I think this precisely wrong. Warfare isnt selling cola and its not akin to business. What we would consider terrorist warfare is not a remotely new phenominon, in fact its entirley common.

    Rome knew how to deal with terrorism. The Cicilian pirates captured Julius Caesar for ransom, after his release he gathered a fleet, captured the pirates in question, and when the local governor didnt deal with them to his satisfaction he broke into the prison and crucified them all. Several years later, Pompey broke the pirate fleet and gave them the choice of being resettled under his thumb or slaughtered.
    Caesars wars against Gaul was made under similar pretexts, and his victory was so total and stunning Gaul never rose up against Rome again through the end of the Empire.

    If anything Alexander was even more brutal against these kinds of tactics. At their heart they are anti-law and order, and that is something no power can abide… even moreso than conventional threats.

    Our current situation is a gordian knot, and to date we have been unwilling to slice it. Our aversion to casualties, particulalry _enemy_ casualties is our undoing. Michael Corleone of all people has the best advice: its better to be feared than loved. Right now the West is held in contempt, and that is far more dangerous than being hated (which we are as well). All the advertising and marketing and branding in the world isnt going to stop that. First we need to be feared again.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Mark. I wasn’t implying that anything was new at all, except for the language. The Romans were doing the same thing. War has always been such.

    If I’m standing in front of you holding a spear and growling, and you’re unarmed, you can bet there is some messages and options going on.

    I’m not suggesting a strategy, I’m suggesting a language to talk about the problem. And yes, I understand that the Romans and Alexander worked at the lower level of Maslow’s pyramid — submit or die. And that works, too. There’s just more to the story than that.

  3. I think your strategy is interesting. Though I don’t have a clue how it can be implemented without a lot of heavy debate from both sides. And the way that’s going these days, a platform seems unlikely.

    On the other hand, isn’t this similar to someone adopting the methods of the terrorists? Not that it would be a bad way to fight, but it pulls us to their level and exits our traditional strategies.

    And I see no solution using this method that would work with Iran – until something in Iran happens internally.

  4. I’m sure you’re right Daniel. Its just a pet peeve of mine that our top generals spend most of their time making up acronyms and finessing power point presentations instead of greasing the axels of their tanks with the blood of jihadis, so to speak. In my opinion, demolishing Fallujah did more to deter anti-US attacks then all the schools we’ve refurbished put together. That doesnt mean we shouldnt do both, but we should concentrate on doing them effectively. Its astonishing how much time the Pentagon and WH have spent pondering these themes, and how little they have spent kick rear to get the power grid in Baghdad fixed.

  5. Thanks tblubrd. As you know, the space was too short to go into “so how do you make all this stuff work, anyway?” — plus there is a lot of analysis left to do.

    And yes, I do think this puts us in the same game as the terrorists. As far as Iran, full-scale invasions, as well as sanctions, can be covered by this methodology. So it doesn’t rule out or supercede anything else. It’s just a new way to talk about the same old stuff.

    In the upper-right corner of the graph there are “messages that are clear” and “options that involve life or death” — in the past we just worked there, as Mark recalls. Exercise enough options in the upper right quadrant and soon the rest of the folks will get the message (or cease to exist.)

    But there are other strategies, even in total warfare. If I can convince you that I am cruel and will kill all of you, including your women and children, it really doesn’t matter if I am actually cruel or not. The perception of your situation is what counts. Not boots on the ground.

    For those of you who don’t like “Transaction”, you can also use the economic term, “Trade-off”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tradeoff

  6. Mark. I do not disagree with you. If we were the Romans, we would have about 20 million troops and Pax Americana would rule. We have, however, overly constrained ourselves for that type of warfare. We’ll either have to give up some of those constraints or learn to be more “weasel-ly”. (or nuanced, depending on your view. Where’s my croissant?)

    I’ve heard lots of stories about the Fed, let me tell you! There are a lot of contractors actually running things, a lot more contractors making presentations to senior staff, and a lot of talk and no action. There are good folks too. You have to remember that some of these institutions have been around forever. There has been a lot of time for rot to set in.

  7. Its not exactly on this subject, but then again its not exactly not, but this book “Masters of War”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0714681326/103-3846685-9015818?v=glance&n=283155 by Michael Handel I highly recommend. He discusses the dyanamic between Sun Tzu and Clausewitz better than i have ever seen it done.

    To sum things up, Sun Tzu considers war in its ideal state, while Clausewitz acknowledges that but applies real world friction, which produces answers often at odds with the ideal. In other words, Sun Tzu discusses war in a vaccuum where the enemy isnt smart and doesnt follow the same principles. Clausewitz assumes the enemy isnt suicidal or inept. For instance Sun Tzu is big on the power of deception, while Clauswitz admires this in theory but in reality recognizes that much of the effort is likely to go unrecognized because the enemy doesnt see or think what you assume he does, not to mention he is doing the same thing to you.

    I think modern Western thought has gone too far too the Sun-Tzu side of the yin-yang. WW2 was generally Clausewitzian, at least in the big picture. We have gotten away from the concept of using overwhelming force to assure the desired result. We rely to much on cunning and force multipliers. At the end of the day the best force multiplier is force in an uncertain world.

  8. I think it’s an interesting idea and might well make a good complement to the psy-ops side of things. We’re definitely lagging in the war-marketing department (cold-blooded and cynical as that may sound). I wouldn’t want it determining much in the way of strategic/tactical decisions, though. I have this image of Centcom meetings infested with ‘consultants’ and turning into something out of Dilbert.

  9. If we follow this idea to its logical extreme:


    the side that wins is the side that, by use of options and messages causes the other side to be unable to make any sales.

    wouldn’t the quickest path to victory over terrorism be to completely shut down the media? If you control the forms of mass communication, how can a terrorist attempt to win hearts and minds, or sway a population? (And those are the main concerns in a “war on terror”, because by definition a terrorist can’t win militarily against superior forces.)

    Or, to put it another way–according to your theory, doesn’t that mean the biggest mistake made in the WoT thus far is allowing the al-Jazeera stations to go unbombed?

  10. I’m not convinced. Propaganda – and the will of populations – has been a key part of warfare since the Peloponnesian War.

  11. _doesn’t that mean the biggest mistake made in the WoT thus far is allowing the al-Jazeera stations to go unbombed?_

    That would depend on whether the enemy’s communications network can be considered centralized. I think a lot of the opposing message is transferred through the decentralized Islamic system by people speaking outside of mosques and selling tapes. You actually have very sane and moderate Muslims speaking on al-Jazeera, but they don’t get the same penetration.

  12. “…I have this image of Centcom meetings infested with ‘consultants’ and turning into something out of Dilbert…” I don’t want to sound too cynical, Archilea, but perhaps we’re not that far away from that vision right now. Isn’t one of the “beefs” about the Pentagon is that by the time the situation gets to the top of the National Command Structure, it’s all bolderized and slanted?

    I’m with you, though. You are absolutely correct. Unless there is an actual “something” you are measuring, managing, and defining, the whole thing falls apart into techno-speak. The commercial world knows it and good managers are paid to wade through consultants, setting up a simple, repeatable system for the business to operate. I don’t know if I have as much trust in our national government. It might be a little too unwieldy.

    Another poster made the point that you’d never get the different agencies to agree on anything like this. If the U.S. were a corporation, it would be something like “We have dozens of different divisions to sell our product. They all have their own management structures and their own way of doing things. Many times they send mixed messages. Sometimes they actually support our enemy. One division, DoD, sells our product by either delivering humanitarian support or by blowing up things and killing people. They’re busy buying bigger guns. Another division, DoS, believe that process will solve any conflict. They’re busy setting up the New World Order. You don’t even want to know what the other ones are doing.”

    Maybe it’s time to buy a subsidiary, or spin off a few start-ups?

  13. Be sure to include a time horizon for implementing a strategy and for the effects of the strategy to be felt. This is important since some low risk/high payoff strategies just take too long. It doesn’t matter if a culture can be changed in one hundred years, if that culture will be an intolerable threat within ten years.

    It would be very difficult to accurately model such complex interactions. Business market predictions are child’s play by comparison. At all levels and in all enterprises, leaders, soldiers, and citizens operate on seat-of-the-pants gut instincts. The collective actions are the outcomes of group mind consensus rather than individual human intelligent planning.

    The modeling and planning you encourage might be useful and should be done, but I doubt that it would be much of an improvement over present decision making processes. I suspect the US intelligence think tanks already do such analysis.

  14. Fly — somebody sure as heck should be doing this analysis, agreed. And anything without a time component would be a waste of time.

    Remember that the US sends a tremendous number of messages and exercises a tremendous number of options each day. If we could just _understand_ the need to coordinate all of these at the policy maker level, it would be a huge improvement. The analsyis might be being done, but the gestalt factor, the turning the instruments into a symphony, doesn’t look so successful to me.

  15. PD Shaw, re #11: Yes, madrassas and the decentralized nature of the relgiion of Islam itself do complicate the matter. According to Daniel’s theory, that low-level network will be the main “force” that all of the US efforts will need to contend with on a non-military scale.

    But that doesn’t reduce the importance of the centralized information distribution networks we can identify. For example, any time bin Laden releases a new audio/video message, it gets wide play on al-Jazeera. If Hezbollah wants to send a message to its supporters (or possible converts) around the world, they broadcast it on al-Manar. Whenever gory photos of Arabic deaths are being used as propaganda, they get quickly circulated on an identifiable number of websites.

    Each of these examples are cases where the enemy is attempting to “make a sale”. I don’t think there’s much disagreement that this propaganda has had at least some negative effects on the United States’ efforts in the region. Assuming we’re in a war, and success is measured by the number of sales or transactions which take place by either side–why, then, should we allow those attempts unhindered? Why should we ignore moves which prevent the spreading of enemy propaganda?

    As you say, there are some moderate voices on al-Jazeera. But if they “don’t get the same penetration” and the channel basically a loud propaganda mouthpiece for Islamists throughout the Middle East–the fertile ground for exactly that kind of propaganda–then, by the theory outlined in this article, it does more harm than good in our war to deny our enemy the ability to “make sales”. Stationary TV broadcast towers are easy targets for USAF bombing raids, yet they’re still standing after 5 years…

  16. I’m sorry, Daniel, but I just can’t get past this statement of Gen. Scales’s:

    For example, World War I was a chemists’ war in that the decisive strategic advantage on the battlefield was driven in large measure by new applications of chemistry and chemical engineering. The war should have ended for the Germans in 1915 when their supplies of gunpowder nitrates exhausted. But the synthesis of nitrates by German scientists allowed the war to continue for another three horrific years. World War II was a physicists’ war. To paraphrase Churchill, the atom bomb ended the conflict, but exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum in the form of the wireless and radar won it for the allies. “World War III” was the “information researchers'” war, a war in which intelligence and knowledge of the enemy and the ability to fully exploit that knowledge allowed the U.S. to defeat the Soviet Union with relatively small loss of life.

    I sincerely hope this narrative isn’t going around. It’s loony. In at least two of the three examples given the losers of the war had the advantage in the “amplifier” over the winners. Germany had the advantage in chemistry—it didn’t provide them with victory it just helped them do more damage to themselves and the Allies, motivating the Allies to impose a punishing armistice.

    The Soviets had an enormous advantage in intelligence gathering and knowledge of the enemy. We’re an open sociey for goodness sake! The Soviets suborned our own intelligence operations and government multiple times starting in the 1940’s. The CIA systematically overreported Soviet capabilities for decades. The prevailing opinion in the USSR’s halls of power was that any American could be turned—all that was needed was money.

    It was the internal contradictions of their own system and the dogged determination of the United States that prevented the Soviets from triumph not any superior “intelligence and knowledge of the enemy”.

    I’ll try and give the rest of your post the attention and consideration it deserves but, Sheesh!

  17. You’re confusing sales and marketing, Daniel. They’re not the same thing.

    And I made a very similar point about six months ago:

    Lately I’ve been wondering if it’s not war at all. My understanding is that few of the Palestinians or Al-Qaeda leadership have actual modern military training. Could this be marketing by other means? Is what’s going on a higher intensity marketing campaign within a narrower market segment? If they’re getting better success within that segment, they may decide they’re winning.

  18. General Scales ignores the little detail called “motivation” and its evil twin, “aversion therapy”. A Texas acronym for the latter is “grab them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow”. But it goes back farther than that:

    Samuel Johnson as quoted by James Boswell – “Rest assured that there is nothing that so much concentrates the mind of a man as on the morning of the eve of his execution.”

  19. Terrorism is about attacking civilians when opportune, to delegitimize a government by demonstrating its inability to perform its primary duty, that is, protecting its people. Terrorism is ended either by killing the reservoir of people among whom the terrorists hide–admittedly not a palatable choice these days–or motivating the people to stop abetting terrorism. Neither is easy, but both are possible.

  20. I actually just wrote a post on the theories of warfare being perpetuated (can’t list URL due to comment submission error- top post at my website though- pmclassic dot blogspot dot com).
    [ Link “here”:http://tinyurl.com/oa9t3 via http://www.tinyurl.com — Marshal Festus ]
    There is a long history of these differing philosophical approaches to war, but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

    Thucydides wrote about the main reasons of war being honor, fear and interest. I believe this aspect of ‘interest’ most closely follows what modern economics has become, but from where I sit is not the dominant. Just remember that the Marxist-Leninist theory of People’s War also gave ‘interest’ the dominant seat as well. I would ask why it is that honor and fear seem to be so excluded as justifiable reasons in this past century? In a way, terrorism and religious war is a part of this return to human nature….

  21. Wretchard of Belmont Club pretty much disposes of this argument.

    The LTTE (Tamil Tigers) are immune to all appeals from Amnesty International, the media, NGO’s, the UN, and anyone else. They don’t care. They pioneered suicide bombings, murder, and political slaughter for shock effect (killing two Indian Prime Ministers).

    Wretchard details a mass slaughter and expulsion of Muslims from Sri Lanka, to the point where remaining Muslims beg India to be their protector. There are no appeals to the International Community to stop the Tamil Tigers, nor any UN interest. Because people are afraid of them.

    What is happening is obvious and horrifying. ALL restraints on actions are slowly being eaten away in the West by the dynamic of constant terrorism (by their own actions and failure to stop it Muslims paint themselves as the sworn enemy of ordinary people intent on blowing them apart at the office, plane, etc); PC inaction by ineffectual responses to the gathering threat; and Muslim perception that the West is weak and limited forever in what it can do.

    If France for example decided it would kick out all it’s Muslim inhabitants, there’s not much any Muslim power could do about it. Even less if it decided to stop spending welfare Euros and start spending to build a massive great military to whack whoever it wanted to in the Middle East.

    That such a policy is a path to power for outsiders locked out of ordinary political advancement is obvious.

    All along the warning has been that failure to stop/deter attacks by forceful conventional action (and show concretely that the media/NGO/PC constraints don’t matter) will only force the dynamic to ever-higher escalation culminating in horrible bloodshed on a massive scale.

    This is not the war of the businessman, “precision” politically correct weapons, Clinton’s black-clad ninjas, or anything else. It is inevitably the first global thermonuclear war and the stupid horrible tragedy is that it need not have been so; it could have been just another series of gunboats knocking over the Mahdi Army with the future decisively crushing the past.

  22. Dave #16. That’s a very interesting point. You’ll have to ask the General about that one.

    Dave #17. Yes, Dave, for purposes of this discussion I have mixed sales and marketing. I made the distinction in the eariler post (there’s only so much you can go over at one time)

    Sunguh #20. Thanks for the link. I will check out your post. There is absolutely no reason to reinvent the wheel. Hopefully I was just looking at one old thing (warfare) in light of another old thing (commerce). I would quickly make the distinction between economics and applied business, however. If we talk economics, quite frankly the discussion will never end. Real-world busines value propositions, however, are by necessity practical in nature.

    Jim #21. The Tamil Tigers don’t care about the outside world. Well, Jim, I’m not sure I understand why that is relevant. Looks to me like it doesn’t mean squat to what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about going door-to-door selling Amway, for crying out loud. Killing them still works like it always does. Unless you are arguing at the extremes. I’m talking a numbers game — there will always be outliers in any population.

    You go on to talk about the inevitable escalation of the war into nuclear holocaust. Quite frankly, that might happen. Might not. Once again, what relevance does it have here? Are you saying that the message created by the extermination of millions in certain parts of the globe will silence those in other parts? Care to explain how that would work? I mean, let’s say I’m an American living in the Sudan, and suddenly Iran manages to wipe America off the map in a nuclear holocaust. Would I be much less likely to take up arms against Iran?

    Apologies for the serial comments. It was a tough piece to write (and read, I’m sure) and I figure by being more interactive with the commenters there is a better chance of the meaning getting across.

  23. If only we could get the American media working on our side! I had the misfortune of catching a special on ABC last night about the 20 end of the world scenarios- including giant meteors, engineered super-plagues, and nuclear war. But the #1 most terrifying, world ending threat? Global Warming. And they proved it existed by showing armadillos farther north than they used to be, Al Gore with his collar undone, and comparing skeptics to the tobacco lobby. If we could just put that kind of self-serving, idiotarian, BS-artistry to work against Jihadiism, imagine!

  24. Mark #24. It would be interesting to see the commercials that aired during that ABC commercial. I bet they were full of SUVs, fast food, and travel web sites. If so, what a great audience! Sell the products and then they all can weep over how bad we all are during the show. It’s sin and repentance all in one show.

    I would ask the same question about Al Jazeera. Is the target audience at risk, really? Or do they just want to sit around on their fat behinds like the rest of us do and talk about how one day somebody ought to do something about those infidels? It would be extermely interesting to do an analysis of commercials on Arab television, including: is there a correlation between various segments and the products that run between them?

    I’m not saying that AJ’s content is not a risk factor — there’s probably dozens to be weighed in a decision to take them out, including whether it should be done anonymously or not. Just guessing, I’m thinking that AJ is a marketing outlet, not a sales outlet. Sales are occuring down at the mosque, with the friends and family you’ve known your whole life encouraging you on.

  25. You talk about “us” and “them” in very non-specific terms. Who, or which organization, specifically, could be organizing the media campaign? If the government itself organizes it, would it really be that successful? Would it be anything different from their spending on arab radio stations that talk about democracy, something already being done?

    The “experts” you list and the “success” in marketing ideas you talk about are all private initiatives. From my point of view, the simplest way for the government to help improve the economy is create/defend a free marketplace, and by staying out of the way of natural market transactions.

    In order for “the government” to help win this war of ideas, should a similar policy be adopted, to encourage those “experts” in the market place to fight the war of ideas?

    But this is a war of ideas, and just as importantly the will to succeed. To some degree, tha is true of all wars in all ages. That we notice this now does not necessarily mean that this aspect of war has changed, perhaps it only means that we have.

  26. JFTDMaster #26 — “In order for “the government” to help win this war of ideas, should a similar policy be adopted, to encourage those “experts” in the market place to fight the war of ideas?”

    Yes. I did not specify who “us” or “them” were. I don’t think this is important. We’re talking preventing sales from the competition: does it matter who prevents them? And yes, my preference would be to get government out of the loop. The thing should be self-organizing, just like the enemy we fight. Democratic governments are made to serve their own, internal markets. This structure is antithetical to the flexibility required, in my opinion, to reduce overall risk. That doesn’t mean that the private sector couldn’t use a push. Picture a risk market where the government measures the risks, and contractors bid on reducing them. Dollars are rewarded for reducing the risk of future terror. And after all, isn’t the whole point that the citizens want to expend resources to reduce risk? Open it up to the marketplace, by all means.

    CPT #27 – Substitute “measuring the enemy’s will to fight” for marketing. That should help a bit.

  27. No amount of PR or marketing can make up for lack of will to win.

    “Information war” can only reduce the body count – 99+% of which will be the enemy’s. It does not determine who wins or loses.

    In this instance it is just a gimmick to disguise our own government’s lack of will to win. The Bush administration does not believe the American people exists as an entity. It thinks it is fighting this war by itself, which automatically leads to a lack of self-confidence.

  28. No amount of PR or marketing can make up for lack of will to win.

    No amount of “will” can compensate for insufficient attention to geography or logistics, either.

    Lots of discussion of marketing on this thread, not one word about geography. We have 140,000 men and women in Iraq, half a world away. That’s a very, very long supply line. It squiggles through the middle of the Arab and Muslim worlds.

    Our troops are not trying to pacify Jalisco or Manitoba, and this also matters (culturally as well as logistically). Our troops are culturally distinct from the population they are serving among; our people do not speak their language, and we do not understand their customs. We’re the foreigners patrolling in their streets. Even a rudimentary appeal to bare tribalism will suffice to get crazy young men to show their patriotism/zealous faith by attacking the infidel outsider. Especially when the outsiders are so distinct.

    Moreover, let’s not forget how many successful counterinsurgency campaigns have been fought on islands or narrow peninsulas where physically cutting off insurgents from resupply was relatively simple (cf., Philippines, Malaya). We haven’t sealed the border with Iran, because it simply can’t be done (at least, not with 140,000 troops). No amount of marketing is going to seal that border off, nor the border with Syria, nor that with Saudi Arabia.

  29. Dave:

    The Soviets had an enormous advantage in intelligence gathering and knowledge of the enemy. We’re an open sociey for goodness sake! The Soviets suborned our own intelligence operations and government multiple times starting in the 1940’s.

    Note that Scales says “fully exploit” intelligence. The Soviet ability to exploit intelligence was pathetic compared to their ability to gather.

    The superb Soviet intelligence network that existed before the war was all but useless to the Soviet Union, because their analysis sucked beyond belief. The Soviets continually ignored or misintepreted their agents’ intelligence coups, most disastrously when they allowed Hitler to take them by total surprise in 1941.

    Soviet analysis improved after Stalin died, but the quality of their agents was much less and they relied on people like the Walkers instead. The Soviets gathered an enormous amount of technical intelligence that was totally useless to them because they did not have the capacity to exploit it.

    Still, you’ve got a point. The CIA and MI5 hardly won the Cold War. They spent most of it embarrassing themselves. Talk about social scientists trying to make war – that was it.

    The Cold War (or WWIII) was a war of economics and demographics, not intelligence. We had capitalism and democracy; they had Marxism, imperialism, and Gus Hall. No contest.

    I think WWIV will be settled the same way, in the long run. The leftist apologists of Jihad, who predict the downfall of capitalism every five or ten minutes, are oblivious to the fact that we’re facing a coalition of dying regimes in crisis, and when those regimes die their non-state tools will not survive long.

  30. The best advertising can do is to make a customer want your product over a competitors. It cannot create the generic desire.

    All the bed advertising in the world is only marginally effective if you are satisfied with the bed you have.

    ======================

    The biggest problem we have in this war is mosques and madrassas.

    Given our secular nature what can we offer better than Islamic heaven?

    I’d venture porn on the internet. Unfortunatey we are we too secular to deal with the religious question and too religious to deal with the sex question.

    We will just have to muddle through.

    My prefrence would be pornography over killing. Since that choice is not on the table – killing it is.

  31. #7 Mark Buehner,

    Read “Bodyguard of Lies” by Brown to get the full feeling of the level of deception employed in WW2.

    It worked well because we knew what the enemy was thinking.

  32. Stickler makes a very good point.

    There is a saying in the Middle East:

    “Me against my brother.

    Me and my brother against my cousin.

    Me, my brother, and my cousin against the stranger.”

  33. M. Simon: _The best advertising can do is to make a customer want your product over a competitors. It cannot create the generic desire._

    What about universal values? we hold these truths to be self-evident, . . . a new birth of freedom . . . conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, . . . freedom is a gift from God.

    You don’t have to make a customer want water and food, just your water and food. According to the civil religion, there are certain values that all human being should desire.

    The problem is that Americans have lost their civil religion.

  34. M. Simon # 33,

    We have to wait for the collapse of Saudi Arabia and the tide of its refugees destroying the Persian Gulf oil shiekdoms. Then we’ll take over all oil production on the south side of the Gulf, and the oil income which funds the madrassas and nutball mosques will cease.

  35. “You don’t have to make a customer want water and food, just your water and food. According to the civil religion, there are certain values that all human being should desire.”

    Yes. This isn’t a debate over whether the dogs like the dogfood. Dogs gotta eat. People gotta breathe. Nobody has to sell a college philosophy course. In fact, really the west doesn’t have to sell anything. We just need to make sure the other guys aren’t making any sales.

    I’m tempted to say that marketing motherhood and apple pie is all we need to do, but it’s far more complex than that. And, as we all know, negative messages sell better than positive ones — FUD, right?


  36. What about universal values? we hold these truths to be self-evident, . . . a new birth of freedom . . . conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, . . . freedom is a gift from God.

    I hate to bring it up because it raises uncomfortable questions which are rather off-topic, but… might not the specific religion of the men who penned those sentiments, based on the specific God they believed in, have a lot to do with their acceptance of and zeal for such “universal truths”? And if we’re dealing with an adversary who lacks that specific religious basis–whose religion may be a near antithesis of the Founding Fathers’ beliefs–how much success can the West reasonably expect from ideological transactional warfare?

    Or more specifically–in partial agreement with Daniel in #41–what success can we realistically expect from attempting positive ideological transactions, instead of negative ones? As far as preventative/negative messages go, it seems to me that the strongest “negative” message we can spread is precisely that which we’ve been doing already, i.e. the threat of a military response if you buy into the terrorists’ message. Having the US President and nominal leader of the free world stand up on TV and promise airstrikes if you don’t knuckle down seems like an excellent way to sow some FUD to the other side.

    (Actually the best way would be to spread messages which shakes the enemy’s belief that they will receive religious or heavenly rewards if they engage in terrorist activity. But that’s not a message the West can credibly dispense, which kicks off the usual discussion of whether this is a war of Islam vs the world, or of moderate Islam vs radical Islam; but I’m ranging even further OT there.)

  37. Tom Holsinger tells me

    there is more than one way to win…,

    and links to a 2002 report that the United States contemplated genocide against Japanese civilians if the atomic bombs didn’t succeed at forcing Japanese surrender.

    Here’s a taste:

    The targets of the strategic bombing campaign were Japanese civilians in cities. Chemical Corps casualty estimates for this attack plan were five million dead with another five million injured. This was our backup to nuking Japan into surrender. If the A-bombs didn’t work, we were going to gas the Japanese people from the air like bugs, and keep doing so until Japanese resistance ended or all the Japanese were dead.

    Hey, Tom: what in holy hell does this have to do with the situation in Iraq? Are you suggesting with this cryptic link that the USA should “win” by exterminating the brutes?

    Is there no limit in your mind to the depravity we must embrace in order to enforce our will on the Middle East? Have you never heard of the Nuremberg Trials?

  38. Unbeliever #42

    Now that we’re entering the world of opinions, and not theories (which the article was about), I think that you’re very close — a negative message spread by co-religionists seems to me to be more powerful. How about stories about how good it is to be Islamic in the west? How about stories about how townsfolk kicked out the lunatics who wanted to take them back to the year 1200? How about honest commentary about what fundamentalist Islam is doing to the cities? How about stories about how muslims got fed up with the craziness and took matters into their own hands? These are true stories that muslims can tell muslims. We can facilitate that dialog, but we cannot be part of it.

  39. There is an interesting piece over at Shrinkwrapped, http://shrinkwrapped.blogs.com/ where a discussion (scroll down to the first segment ) on viewing the War On Terror in terms of Information Warfare. In many ways that series makes many of the same points as this article. Warfare is (and probably really always was) as much about getting a certain message delivered as it is about violent death.

    So while many of the commentators here cannot look past the terminology presented to the message maybe they will get the idea if they read Reasons For Optimism

  40. Daniel,

    I like market “interaction” better. Transaction decribes the exhange of value. And, trade-off describes compromise. Interaction is inclusive and positively influencing the interactivity of the marketplace is the goal, and interactions can be measured as precisely as needed.

  41. Unbeliever,

    No bombing of stations necessary. We could, if our Gov’t would identify “those sites not acting in the interests of the USA” as fair game, make the Internet SHUN the jihadis.

    S/W can be written to auto-swarm the sites so identified, from 20-50 million of our desktops, 24/7/365, and then the servers, and then the networks. On-demand viral attacks?

    So, where’s the list of URLs?

  42. Stickler,

    Extermination is a time-honored means of prevailing in the Middle East, perhaps more so than elsewhere.

    The Japanese surrendered because they knew we really would kill them all.

    That is also how we are winning in Iraq, only we’re not the ones doing the killing.

    We are still fighting in Iraq because the Sunni Arab Baathists won’t give up. So they are being exterminated – enough are being murdered by Shiite militias and death squads that the rest have big-time incentives to leave. The proportion of Iraq’s population which is Sunni Arab has plummeted by almost a third in three years – from about 22% in early 2003 to about 15% today, and is rapidly heading for 5%.

    All we have to do is hang on and the Shiites will finish the job for us.

    I predicted this three years ago before it started.

    Your logistics comment in #30 was totally off-base.

  43. Daniel —

    1. The Media does not matter. NGO’s do not matter. World opinion does not matter. The only thing that matters is who has the gun. Mao was indeed right; and this has always been true. Wishing it wasn’t is an example of magical thinking.

    2. The curve of terrorism is IMHO an attempt by non-Westernized societies to “kill the future” by short-cutting paths to power. No steady Japanese or German nation building for them; instead tribal massacres on an ever larger scale with asymmetrical methods (using the media to amplify, and ever-larger casualty attacks).

    3. Ultimately, when terror self-evidently threatens the ability of the State to survive, it will be quite ruthless and apply REAL instruments of power. Katie Couric does not matter. A Master Sargeant told to fire a missile does. Particularly when it’s nuclear.

    4. The Tamil Tigers show how useless the UN, Media, NGOs, really are. IF THEY MATTERED, the LTTE could not exist. Nor could Ahmadinejad for that matter. Nor could Beijing hold Tibet. Etc. etc.

    In a conflict between post-Modern absurdists and say, Jihadis cutting off heads and an enraged Western populace on the other side of the triangle, who will win?

    Whoever has the most amount of power and is the most ruthless in wielding it most effectively.

    [Seriously proposed in making Japan surrender was three different courses of action by each service: the Navy’s blockade aka “starve them out,” the Army’s “Massive Invasion” and the Army Air Corps “bomb them out,” the latter headed by Curtis LeMay who was in the process of commandeering every bomber from Europe, all the B-17’s and B-24s which would assemble with SuperFortresses in massive 10,000 plane raids which would target down to the village level. Contemplate THAT.]

  44. Tom Holsinger:

    All we have to do is hang on and the Shiites will finish the job for us.

    I predicted this three years ago before it started.

    Your logistics comment in #30 was totally off-base.

    What??? The Shiites will “finish the job for us?”

    Good grief, man: the Shiites will “finish the job” for Iran, where most of their ayatollahs trained and lived during Saddam’s reign. You predicted three years ago that we would wreck the secular Baathist dictatorship and hand Iraq over to the Iranians? You must be a very cynical, and foolish, man to think this would help American interests.

    My comment on logistics should focus your mind if you’re under the impression that our military should strike Iran in the near future. Our supply lines (on land) run from Shiite-dominated Basra up to Baghdad, all through Shiite-dominated territory. What do you think Moqtada al-Sadr will do if the USAF launches a catastrophic offensive against Iran? What do you think Ayatollah al-Sistani will do? How about the Shiite death squads that you so warmly applaud? And — look at a map. Where are the Straits of Hormuz? What would the Iranian military have to do to shut down our resupply lines? Not much, that’s what.

    Genocidal fantasy. That’s what the reader gets over here in the fever swamps.

  45. #49 Jim — You make my point for me.

    “Whoever has the most amount of power and is the most ruthless in wielding it most effectively.”

    Unless you shoot everybody, there has to be a point in shooting anybody. You’re sending a message. And if you DO shoot everybody, then there’s nobody left. In other words, you’re not fighting the dead guy — he’s already gone. You’re fighting the hundred you let live.

    No matter what your visions of carnage are, including bombing Japan at the village level
    (Does air power alone ever work? No.), at the end of the day you have a lot of people you need to pacify. Shooting a bunch might work. It might not. You seem to think that shooting a bunch works exclusively. I do not. I think there are other options. In fact, I believe we’re doing a lot more to win the war on terror with offering internet, cell phones, and satellite dishes than we ever could be with bombs and rifles. Tbhat will not, nor will it ever, take out the folks like the LTTE. So what? Then you change the transactions, move up into the upper left quadrant of the graph and begin shooting some. The point is that you have the tools to transition smoothly.

    Mao was a master, sure, but you must remember that the population was already disgruntled, and Mao was prepared to be a lot more ruthless than we are. At some point, this discussion of “grab them by the short hairs” becomes almost a fantasy. How many troops would you like? How many do we need to kill? And you have yet to demonstrate that massive amounts of killing would pacify the remainders in any fashion. Nope. One of the first rules in COIN is that you treat the population with respect. Opinions matter. As one soldier in Iraq said, “How many insurgents would you like? If we act with disregard for the population, we can generate new insurgents all day long” (paraphrased)

    Just think about what you are saying — does the fact that LTTE exists mean that we should act in the cruelest way possible? Are we at war with people who are simply muslim and don’t like us, or with people who have taken up arms against us? Because in my mind it’s perfectly fine to hate the west and modernity all you want, just don’t take up arms. We all agree you kill the fanatics. The point is how you prevent fanaticism from spreading in the most resource-effective manner possible.

  46. #49 brings up an interesting point. If we follow the commonly known ‘rules’ we seem to end up in nihilism, and must resort to naked power plays of brutality. Is this the fate for anyone who wishes to defend themselves these days?

    No! If you restrict yourself to these theories like 4GW and People’s War or whatever the popular one of the day is (Core and the Gap, etc..) then yes, you are likely to fall into this conundrum. It’s never good to be lost in an ideological straitjacket, especially in the practice of warfare where the stakes are so high. I don’t deny there is a time and place for ‘effective methods’, but we can’t get lost in the nihilist blood lust of frustration either.

    The truth is more ‘nuanced’ even as it is simple. I would start with a view more ‘respectful’ of the individual. The Romans had a simple counterinsurgency strategy, as we’d call it today. ‘More majorum’ is roughly translated as ‘Morals of the Majority’. When dealing with their recently conquered lands, they wouldn’t bother extending the rights of Roman citizens to them- they first of all wouldn’t understand their version of ‘due process’ and therefore wouldn’t appreciate it. Only places that adopted Roman customs on their own and wanted citizenship would get that. Generally, everyone else would be left alone. For the ‘barbarians’ as they were called back then (and strangely seems to still apply), if they transgressed against the Romans, they would be subject to their own laws, supervised by the Romans. Isn’t that more culturally sensitive?

    For example, if someone sought to incite rebellion, they would be captured and brought before their peers. If found guilty by their peers- be it tribal elders or a primitive parliament of sorts, they would be subject to whatever awful custom was that of the tribe such as stoning or quartering or whatever. Caesar’s Gallic commentaries are full of these episodes.

    The Romans dominion stretched a long way because of simple and farsighted policy accompanied by not only the ability, but the willingness, to use deadly and unrestricted force upon their enemies. There are many more practical applications of their experience. Even though they did use brutal methods, they respected the foreign tribes and people in a way that our modern system seems to just condemn to uneducated victimhood. Things have not changed so much from then to now.

  47. I think you could even make some comparison of being ‘culturally sensitive’ to your model of precision marketing, but I’m afraid that might stretch it too thin.

    Anyhow, my $.02.

  48. Sounds like the Romans were on to something. Take a look at what you described. They used local sales reps and local customs. I know that when we use terms like “marketing” or “sales” we think that this is western, but that’s way too simple. People have been persuading and selling for commerical purposes in every culture on the planet for thousands of years.

    People are always going to be better persuaded by concepts that are inside their realm of cultural experience.

  49. True, but this kind of ‘persuasion’ involves bloodshed. And it comes from a clearly defined power differential- the results of Roman conquest. Starting from that unequal basis, then people integrate culturally, economically and politically.

  50. Sunguh — “it comes from a clearly defined power differential- the results of Roman conquest”

    It comes from the perception of overall massive strategic strength, not immediate tactical strength. What was the ratio of Romans to occupied peoples? I don’t know, but I’m guessing 1 to 100, maybe less. The Romans weren’t there directly leaning on those local governments with force; there was a perception of massive force yes. Perceptions matter — more than reality.

    So to rephrase your statement, a message sent by co-religionists, using the marketing and sales channels already in place, combined with the perception of an overwhelming force differential is an avenue to success.

  51. If sales are transactions for or against a cause, conquering is being the market leader. We’ve gotten spoiled where we expect being the leader is all it takes (probably because of the results of the Treaty Of Westphalia), but that’s our fault, not the other guys. In a strongly cohesive cultural unit, there is somebody to speak for the group.

    Think of the mess we would have had if we had used nuclear weapons on Tokyo and taken out the Emperor and the elite. There would have been nobody to surrender.

  52. I have to admit the commercial terminology is distracting. Even with the most direct comparisons between business and war, they are ultimately two distinctly separate behaviors. Being run by humans (and subject to calculations of human nature), many principles apply to both fields. But the end states are fundamentally different- life and death vs. profit and loss.

    Westphalia is indeed central to this discussion, as has been greatly articulated by Van Creveld. The idea of a common set of ethical guidelines, shared by your opponents, in the pursuit of war is generally considered the major result of this treaty. In essence, this is what let the European states develop to such power. By minimizing the losses of the various states in their internal wars, and maximizing the victory over foreign opponents in unity during external conflicts- the Europeans reached an amazing apex of economic, military and cultural power. Even in their weakened present state, they are living off this hard-won capital of the past.

    I think I might see where you are coming from now. The modern regulatory framework of business, shared by most ‘Western’ states seems to provide this similar stability, with some local variation. If you accept this shared framework, a la Westphalia, then your commercial comparisons make sense. But it falls apart when someone rejects the framework and the goals of it- as in the case of the Islamists who, even as they might envy the benefits of this structure, would reject and destroy it. Their appeal is to religion and culture, not to profit (even if they are ‘fueled’ by the profits of Western states buying the minerals under their feet). So they are in direct conflict with this global economic process which is the biggest threat to their power structures.

    So if this is as I say, these non-state actors are exposing the weaknesses of the present system- just as the Europeans destroyed the Westphalian system in the first World War, finishing the job in the 2nd. But we Americans don’t think it’s dead, since we inherited the burden of administrating it. We like the feel-good idea of being able to differentiate civvies and warriors, even as it lead the Europeans into the fields of the Somme… Our ‘perception’ differs with the discontents who are causing problems, and inspiring others (all the while parasitically sustaining themselves from the oil trade).

    In order to understand, and yes- fight, these opponents and their supporters, we must see what drives their perceptions of profit and loss. Most important is what makes them want to continue fighting. Weapons and tactics- these are just tools, you can destroy armies and they will still resist. At the end, you have to destroy their will to fight. When their justifications are shamed and discredited, then you can offer your values (or a local approximation) as a substitute. This is probably when business and economics become preeminent, when there is enough stability and basic agreement on certain values.

    I hope I’m not just regurgitating Van Creveld here. I think it’ll be a ‘long hard slog’ to get to where I’m talking about. Contemporary perception of war and violence doesn’t see eye to eye with the Roman solutions, preferring to think of them as ages past and we the ‘progressive future’. Even if I disagree with your model, I think it’s good to be asking these questions- we are all in this together.

  53. Thank you Sunguh. As a former president used to say, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I simply realized there was an extended analogy/model that shone some light into some otherwise dark corridors. Once it got stuck in my head, I had to get it out. Now that I’ve infected some of the rest of you, my job here is done. (grin)

    I think you are, indeed, beginning to get it. I would only ask for you to go one step further. You said “The modern regulatory framework of business, shared by most ‘Western’ states seems to provide this similar stability, with some local variation”

    My point is that Natural Law provides for this framework, aside from any modern regulatory sytemn at all, and as proof I offer the continuing trade activity through all of known history, including through the crusades. People are always making trades (or transactions) for tangible materials. Is there some ratio of tangible to intangible? If people in my mosque buy a thousand cell phones, or a thousand I-pods, aren’t there some western values that are going to rub off no matter what? In fact, I think the other sides sees this all too clearly, whereas we tend to completely ignore it. At our peril, I might add.

    “In order to understand, and yes- fight, these opponents and their supporters, we must see what drives their perceptions of profit and loss. Most important is what makes them want to continue fighting. ” — Yes. I agree completely. Why is the economic trade-off for Hezbollah weapons more profitable than new schools? What are the key selling points? Are the same standards of profitability used by all players? (I doubt it. In the commercial sector this is almost never the case.) What do their shareholders perceive as smart or dumb? Are they restricted to any channels or sales chains that have paricular vulnerabilities?

    In this milieu, the world of commerce, I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the tools being used in the warfare of ideas. Some are probably pretty stupid, and I’m not the best at describing them, that’s for certain. But my intuition tells me that that there is a lot of value in there.

    Some hard-liners will ONLY value lethal transactions in the name of ideology. For those folks, I think that is the market they want to come to and that is the market we should give them. But for the majority? I’m not buying it.

  54. Stickler said:

    bq. Genocidal fantasy. That’s what the reader gets over here in the fever swamps.

    I take it you missed what the Croats did and what the Kosavar Albanians and are doing to the Serbs.

    Genocide and Ethnic cleansing by non-Americans have served American interests in the recent past in the Balkans and are now doing so in Iraq.

  55. Trent:

    Genocide and Ethnic cleansing by non-Americans have served American interests in the recent past in the Balkans and are now doing so in Iraq.

    You misunderstand my comments about “genocidal fantasy” over here in Fever Swamps.Net. The fantasy isn’t that genocide is going on, or is being sponsored by us (US) in some way.

    The fantasy is that it’s “serving American interests.” In Iraq, it’s serving Iranian interests. Which is not in our interests.

  56. Stickler, thanks for contributing so much. I’m amazed by your analysis and kind words. Oh sorry, mistook you for someone else- you just have loaded (but nowhere supported) assumptions and snarky vitriol. I’m stupider for having considered your posts.

    Dan, I think we are seeing each others perspectives better. My argument is that, to paraphrase your words- the markets are fracturing in a way (parallel to the Westphalian disintegration), that there are multiple arenas for competition. The hardliners are leveraging that in a way to make their ‘market share’ more influential than it might normally be. And on top of that, I also think that even Natural Law (as we understand it) requires a certain level of stability to operate, that these antagonistic parties are trying to deny.

    If we can eliminate (or at least minimize) their influence, then yes- there will be room for the majority to reap the benefits. But it takes willpower and vision to manage a restructure like this. We’ll see.

  57. Sunguh, I’m sorry if you didn’t like my tone.

    But I wasn’t the one lauding genocide thus:

    Genocide and Ethnic cleansing by non-Americans have served American interests in the recent past in the Balkans and are now doing so in Iraq.

    Snark is the least vociferous response to such garbage. Not only is genocide immoral, not only is it against the international laws we helped write after 1945 — in this case, it also is not helping our interests.

    So what’s more obnoxious to you: being snarky? Or advocating and applauding genocide?

  58. Stickler, you might be on the money with your criticism.

    On the other hand, if it were possible to be truly objective and to truly (accurately) make the observation you are criticizing, would you still feel forced to consider it “advocating and applauding”?

    I really want to know. No snark, no hidden agenda.

  59. I remain unmoved that somehow there is a certain set of “hoops” one must jump through in order for experiences in the commercial world to apply to the conflict of ideas. Anthropologist Roger Sandall makes the case that there are certainly primitive societies, and as such are nowhere on the same level as the rest of us. At this level we are talking about headhunters and such. The “Big Ditch”:http://www.samuelgriffith.org.au/papers/html/volume8/v8chap11.htm is about a lot of things, private property rights being high on the list.

    I don’t think we are talking about people on the other side of the ditch here. I remember reading recently about Iran, where the mullahs wanted to take away all of the satellite dishes. There was open rebellion, and the mullahs gave up! Same with cell phones — in fact, during some of the outrageous behavior by some of the Iranian judges, cell phone cameras were used by the common folk to document the atrocities.

  60. Nortius Maximus:

    On the other hand, if it were possible to be truly objective and to truly (accurately) make the observation you are criticizing, would you still feel forced to consider it “advocating and applauding”?

    Well, let’s go to the evidence on hand from this thread.

    In #30, I suggested that logistics and geography are far more important than marketing.

    In #32, Mr. Holsinger said “there’s more than one way to win,” and pointed me to an essay about the Army Air Force’s plan to use chemical weapons against Japan, with the aim of killing millions of Japanese civilians. By any definition this would have been attempted genocide. Bracing stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. Also totally unrelated to my comment about logistics and geography in Iraq, I might add.

    In #43, I (mouth agape) asked Mr. Holsinger “what in holy hell this has to do with the situation in Iraq,” and then two fairly direct and easily answered questions: “Is there no limit in your mind to the depravity we must embrace in order to enforce our will on the Middle East? Have you never heard of the Nuremberg Trials?”

    In #48, Mr. Holsinger said:

    Extermination is a time-honored means of prevailing in the Middle East, perhaps more so than elsewhere. (…) We are still fighting in Iraq because the Sunni Arab Baathists won’t give up. So they are being exterminated – enough are being murdered by Shiite militias and death squads that the rest have big-time incentives to leave. The proportion of Iraq’s population which is Sunni Arab has plummeted by almost a third in three years – from about 22% in early 2003 to about 15% today, and is rapidly heading for 5%. All we have to do is hang on and the Shiites will finish the job for us.

    And that’s where I begin to suspect that Mr. Holsinger isn’t quite conversant with the idea of “strategy.” Because that comment is so off the wall as to beggar description. Let’s just pretend for the moment that “exterminating” the Sunni Arabs of Iraq won’t arouse the ire of the rest of the Sunni world (and whom do you think they’ll blame for not protecting the Sunnis?).

    If the Shiites “finish the job,” it won’t be “for us.” Isn’t this just plain as day? They’ll “finish the job,” first of all for the Shiites of Iraq, and second of all for their Shiite protector state, Iran. And that doesn’t do the United States a damned bit of good.

    Maybe I was wrong to characterize Mr. Holsinger as having “celebrated” this horrific development. But this faux “more in sorrow than in anger” embracing of genocide is shocking in its cynicism and in its stupidity. Mr. Holsinger typed that dreadful bilge, why don’t you ask him why he did so?

  61. bq. Mr. Holsinger typed that dreadful bilge, why don’t you ask him why he did so?

    Because I’m more interested, at this point, in your reaction than in what he typed. Thanks for the exegesis of his utterances. I will settle for that, since it’s what’s on your mind. My question remains, but is probably too abstract or fury-inducing for you to be worth considering.

    Sincere thanks for unpacking your reaction. As I said, you might be right.

    /Spock-mode=off

  62. Nortius Maximus:

    My question remains, but is probably too abstract or fury-inducing for you to be worth considering.

    No, it’s not too abstract. Again, what shall we make of this sentence from Mr. Holsinger?

    All we have to do is hang on and the Shiites will finish the job for us.

    Shall we parse his motivations to death? Instead of “applauding,” maybe he’s just giving the Shiite death squads a golf-clap. But, darn the luck, there’s those last two words again which just plain stick in my craw: “for us.”

    Aha! It just now dawned on me that Mr. Holsinger must be an Iranian, or a paid Iranian agent. That would explain why he used “us” in that sentence.

    If so, I retract my derogatory comments about his strategic illiteracy. Clearly his paymasters are playing a cleverer game than our Administration is. Well done, old chaps.

  63. Mark:

    I haven’t yet read all of the comments, and I’m somewhat time-constrained so may not get to them right away. Excellent discussion, though!

    My primary problem with the paradigm you’ve presented is that, as a sometime survey administrator and analyst, my respect for business and even political “marketing” is limitted. Often they don’t seem clever to me at all, and though they tend to understand “attitudes”, they generally miss the consequences and dynamics associated with “values”. So I don’t think they’re up to the task of psycho/cultural warfare. And they may not ever be. I’m not sure that the superficiality can be cured.

    This isn’t to say that we produce a lot of people who do gravitate toward deeper intelligence and analysis. I heard an excellent presentation by a group of Israeli researchers on the role of network nodes in Palestine, and their associated with clans and with groups of terrorists. There’s also some interesting Public Choice literature on extremism and terrorism suggesting something like market choices are involved. But there’s a huge gap between that level of understanding and what the business community is capable of doing. The difference is institutional.

  64. Hi Prof. I thought you would find this interesting as did I. I read it and it was very intriguing, to say the least. Let me know what you think?

    John T.

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