Never underestimate the propensity for Washington post to embarrass itself with cutting edge analysis such as “killing people makes them hate you.” If you are so inclined, read the entire gem here:Four reasons why killing insurgents in Syria might backfire – The Washington Post
The cutting edge analysis may have been reasonable if left to the obvious conclusion. Unfortunately, Washington Post must come in the aid of good old military imperialism, thereby turning it into a comic, self-parody of an article. Here comes my meta-analysis of their ridiculous article.
The astute analysis starts with “bombing kills people.” Indeed, bombing does kill people. But of course, they choose to cloak the killing in euphemistic terms for the delicate western eyes.I wish I had a chrome extension that would change collateral damage to its real definition: dead, innocent, brown people. In case, my definition isn’t clear enough. I have included a handy visual guide to what they describe as “collateral damage.”
Even if they choose not to take up arms, civilians who lost a friend or family member to a military strike may begin to harbor attitudes that favor militancy, especially if they view these deaths as unjust….. may begin to harbor sympathies for terrorists
Civilians, by definition, are people who are not actively taking up arms. Of course, it is unjust to kill a civilian.
This anti-coalition sentiment can persist even when militants themselves kill civilians and damage civilian infrastructure.
A recent study of violence in Afghanistan showed that attacks by International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) that harmed civilians reduced local support for ISAF, but equivalent attacks by the Taliban did not result in similar declines in support for the Taliban.
Two questions that WAPO forgot to ask:
- Who did the ISAF kill?
- Who did the Taliban kill?
First Scenario: If the ISAF killed civilians and Taliban killed ISAF, obviously people would continue to support the Taliban.
Second scenario: If the Taliban killed THEIR OWN enemies and the ISAF also killed the Taliban’s enemies, that, too, the people left alive are those who support the Taliban.
Their previous slight of hand prepares the reader’s mind to accept the obvious racist conclusion:Brown people less human. Wapo cloaks their racism with psychological mumbo-jumbo to confuse the reader.
The next paragraph decoded:”Oh those damn brown people, so tribal and irrational to hate foreigners who want to kill them.” The psychological mumbo-jumbo, lowers the victims of the bombings to irrational people, while reminding the reader that those “irrational brown people also kill each other.” The trick reminds me of the tired old fox news trope: What about Black on Black violence?
This response is due to intergroup bias: People are more likely to blame those they don’t know or who seem “other” and “foreign,” and give people with whom they more closely relate the benefit of the doubt. So ISIS’s brutality against the Syrian people may not offset coalition collateral damage enough to shift Syrian attitudes in favor of coalition forces. Even if people do not like the Islamic State, they might view the group more favorably than the coalition, view the United States as encouraging its rise or view coalition strikes against ISIS as providing indirect support for the Assad regime, which has killed more Syrians than any other group.
Brief summary of the next section: Killing people makes them want to kill us.
Killing insurgent fighters is a sure way to encourage retaliation.
If a group can signal strength through retaliatory attacks despite receiving heavy casualties, then local populations are more likely to view that group as strong. Some populations would see backing a strong group as the best way to protect their own interests. Strong groups are more likely to stick around and more capable of catching and punishing defectors. In certain contexts, these actions can be critical to group survival.
But of course, Wapo must also blame anti-war activists in the United States indirectly for “emboldening insurgents.”
Citizens in coalition home countries are likely to take notice of these signals as well. Military campaigns that appear unwinnable can reinforce political demands for coalition withdrawal. The result can undermine military efforts abroad and make it harder to suppress insurgent threats. During the Iraq War, for instance, public statements in the United States criticizing the war effort emboldened insurgent movements, which increased their attacks on coalition forces and led to more U.S. casualties.
Did Washington post literally forget the previous paragraphs? After arguing about why bombing people makes *them* want to kill us, they continue to support to more bombing. It’s like it was written by the guy from the movie Memento. In this film, the man cannot form any new memories.
Do these findings suggest there is no place for a military solution in Syria? No, but they do indicate that to be successful (or at least not make matters worse) a military solution must coincide with an approach to conflict resolution that has considerable local buy-in. A strategy that increases engagement with Arab states, and with moderate #Sunni populations in Syria to heighten local resistance and enhance intelligence gathering, could help increase the precision of coalition military strikes, minimize civilian casualties, and aid in organizing disparate opposition forces. This approach could also help encourage the formation of a viable political alternative to the Assad regime.
Also, the careful observer will see, their anti-Shia bias. Why moderate Sunni populations? Why not moderate Shias? What about the Druze, Yazidis, Jews, and the Kurds in Syria? The US foreign policy, probably with some Saudi influence, has been trying to create the “mythical moderate Sunni rebel” to counter the “US enemies” who are of the Shia faith like Hezbollah, Syrian Military (Assad), Iraqi Army, and the Iranian Army. The last sentence helps push for moderate regime change, i.e., overthrow Assad, which the US government has been itching to do.
The next paragraph is summarizing more gibberish; I just didn’t even think it was worth it. If you want to read this gem, the link is at the bottom.
But, unintentionally, Washington Post ends up summarizing the US foreign policy since World War II in two sentences.
Summary: Bombing people is bad. But, we should carefully bomb people.