Den Beste on Fallujah

• Views: 1,376

Steven Den Beste makes some good points (and one with which I will take issue below) in this essay on what happened in Fallujah and what our response should be.

Now, in Falluja, we have seen another operation consistent with the doctrine of terrorism, only this time the US was the target. Four American civilians driving through that city were killed, and their bodies were desecrated by an exultant crowd. Foreign cameramen captured it all.

The Baathist insurgency thought that ongoing attacks would cause American demoralization and retreat. That didn’t work, because they monumentally misjudged the American character. But the goal of this attack is to inspire American fury. What they hope is that the Americans will be blinded by hatred and will do something extremely stupid: to punish the Sunnis collectively for the actions of the terrorist group.

Remember, that’s the basic theory behind terrorism; that’s the core of the doctrine of terrorism as a form of violent warfare. It is not the terrorist act itself which helps advance the political goals of the terrorist group; it is rather the reprisal. Terrorism is a form of jiu-jitsu, a way of using an enemy’s strength against himself. (In jiu-jitsu, you don’t throw an opponent. You aid him in throwing himself.)

If there are broad reprisals against the uncommitted friendly population because of the acts of the terrorists, that population will become motivated and polarized in favor of the position held by the terrorists. If the American response is viewed by the Sunnis as being directed broadly at all Sunnis, rather than being targeted specifically at those responsible for this outrage, then there’s every likelihood that the Sunnis will begin to wonder whether the US is actually genuine in its attempts to include the Sunnis as equal partners in the new government of Iraq. That would be a major victory for al Qaeda.

This terrorist attack was an application of violence intended to derail the American effort to set up a liberal democracy in Iraq, by attempting to provoke an American reprisal which would lead to Sunni suspicion and reduce Sunni participation in that democracy.

However, I think he’s incorrect when he says the attack was planned to inspire American fury. I think this horrible incident began as many others have; the mujahideen saw a chance to attack an easy, unprotected target, and they took it. They may or may not have been tipped off about the security people’s travel plans.

But what happened afterward was something different. In the video of the event, you can see quite clearly that this was a psychotically enraged mob. No one planned for those poor people to be torn apart like that. It was an expression of inhuman savagery, that broke loose not by design but by sheer opportunity; a perfect example of the tribal honor-shame dynamic at work, where any act, no matter how evil or debased, is allowed if it serves to restore honor.

So while I do accept Steven’s point that the response must be measured (and lethal), I can’t agree that the purpose of the attack and desecration was some sort of special provocation.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Recent PagesClick to refresh
Regina Spektor - “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” - Official Video (From Kubo and the Two Strings) Regina Spektor’s performance of George Harrison’s classic, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from Kubo and the Two Strings' Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, available now. The epic action-adventure film from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA hits theaters Friday, August 19th. The ...
Tarkloon
1 hour, 25 minutes ago
Views: 45 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
East Oakland Gunman Jesse Enjaian Investigated for Stalking During Law School The ABC7 News I-Team dug into the past of East Oakland shooting suspect Jesse Enjaian and found some real contrasts. The young man was a brilliant student who had a promising career but over the last few weeks, he ...
Tarkloon
8 hours, 33 minutes ago
Views: 120 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 5 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Concrete Blonde - JoeyMusic video by Concrete Blonde performing Joey (Digitally Remastered).
Tarkloon
1 day, 1 hour ago
Views: 158 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Hippo Campus - Way It Goes (Live at Icehouse for the Current) Hippo Campus perform "Way It Goes" from their forthcoming album 'Landmark', at an album preview concert live at Icehouse in Minneapolis. Tune in to The Local Show, February 19, 2017 to hear the full performance, and watch this space ...
Tarkloon
1 day, 2 hours ago
Views: 159 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Gary Clark Jr - the Healing Live (Official Video) Official Video for Gary Clark Jr's "The Healing (Live)" from the upcoming new live album 'Live/North America 2016' available March 17th. Pre-Order now at wbr.ec Directed by: Diego NavarroExecutive Producer: Devin SarnoArt Director: Diego NavarroAnimation Director: Fernanda Roque2D Animators: ...
Tarkloon
1 day, 2 hours ago
Views: 145 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Grouplove - Hollywood [Genero Official Selection] We partnered with Genero to have their creators make music videos for each song on our new album, Big Mess. This is the official selection for 'Hollywood' created by Jeff Doiron! Big Mess Available Now: smarturl.it Stream: smarturl.it Follow ...
Tarkloon
1 day, 12 hours ago
Views: 163 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Michael Flynn May Have Committed Felony With Russia Contact The Washington Post reports Michael Flynn may have lied to the FBI about his discussions with Russia about sanctions, but Trump is still focused on attacking the media and leakers. Ari Melber speaks with Naveed Jamali, Jack Rice, and ...
Tarkloon
1 day, 15 hours ago
Views: 341 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Future Islands: Ran Tonight Show Performance Music guest Future Islands performs "Ran" for the Tonight Show audience. Subscribe NOW to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: bit.ly Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Weeknights 11:35/10:35cGet more Jimmy Fallon: Follow Jimmy: @JimmyFallonLike Jimmy: facebook.com Get ...
Tarkloon
1 day, 16 hours ago
Views: 372 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Child’s Play: Team Trump Rewrites a Department of Energy Website for Kids In short order, the EIA created “Energy Kids,” which now features energy-themed sudoku and crossword puzzles, colorful pie charts and a know-it-all mascot called Energy Ant. Images of a school bus parked between a coal plant and an oil ...
Tarkloon
1 day, 16 hours ago
Views: 453 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Scientists Claim Existence of Drowned Pacific Ocean Continent "It's rather frustrating for us geologists with the oceans being there," said Nick Mortimer, a geologist at GNS Science in Dunedin, New Zealand. "If we could pull the plug on the oceans it would be clear to everyone we ...
Tarkloon
1 day, 16 hours ago
Views: 849 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0