Another problem is that US following the neoliberal dogma in restructuring Iraq created a perfect seeding ground for all kinds of extremism and funamentalism. Boyd has stressed moral superiority in 4th generation warfare, and indeed it is all about moral superiority – superiority that US, and post-Saddam Iraqi governments, have given away to extremists on a silver platter through extremistic privatiization. More on progress of privatization of Iraq can be read here:
In a post on the situation in Iraq today, Pat Lang has suggested that “This has Guderian, Patton, Manstein, et al., written all over it.”
True. Boyd did a nice summary of these tactics:
Message: By exploiting superior leadership, intelligence, communications, and mobility as well as by playing upon adversary’s fears and doubts via propaganda and terror, forces of The Islamic State operated inside adversary observation-orientation-decision-action loops.
Result: Outnumbered IS fighters created impressions of terrifying strength—by seeming to come out of nowhere yet be everywhere.
Hence: Subversive propaganda, clever stratagems, fast breaking maneuvers, and calculated terror not only created vulnerabilities and weaknesses but also played upon moral factors that drain away resolve, produce panic, and bring about collapse. Patterns of Conflict, chart 28.
OK, I did make a few insignificant changes to bring it up to date.
25 thoughts on “Tactics of the Islamic State”
There seem to be some lessons that the US will not learn:
Nationalism and the right to self rule are a powerful force in this world still. Others see the injustices borne by the West from the past and want to run things “their way”.
Most ethnic groups are not unified and have their own internal conflicts. But when a foreign force comes in, most of the time, the warring sides will put aside their differences and unify to get rid of that invading force.
Foreign intervention seems to be disastrous for the moderate forces within the invaded side. Usually they are silenced, if not eliminated and the more extreme factions take over. The political centre tends to at times sympathize with both sides and any insurgency has to cut ties with the existing structure. In the meantime, existing governments against those insurgents, as they get more desperate to hold power, also work to get rid of the centre and suppress civil liberties.
Typically, this means propping up a puppet regime. If the puppet regime by the invaders or the very corrupt regime is clearly going to lose, they steal a lot of the country’s assets and put them in foreign accounts or elsewhere. This worsens the post-war economy and makes the puppet regime less popular.
Failing to learn the lessons of previous wars has serious consequences. Many of the mistakes in Vietnam for example were repeated in Iraq and Afghanistan. Strategic bombing is an example.
The US appears to be a very insular culture – they do not empathize with other societies. Very few Americans study and truly understand foreign cultures. There is also a mentality of “my culture is best” that pervades the US.
In many cases, the US has managed to replace previous invaders. To the Vietnamese, the US were like the French colonialists, taking away their right to self-rule. This problem is compounded by 6.
The results of governing through proxy puppet regimes is mixed. Often they favor their own ethnic groups, or are really corrupt. Their legitimacy is often (and rightfully) seen as a puppet.
There are often very unintended consequences to doing certain actions, even if they had good intentions (which they seldom do).
The US appears to have been totally misled on what happened post-WWII to Germany and Japan, thinking they can emulate that everywhere.
There are other problems. The US in particular seems to be an anti-intellectual culture compared to Europe and the rest of the West, which makes it harder to learn. People prefer the instant gratification.
“There are other problems. The US in particular seems to be an anti-intellectual culture compared to Europe and the rest of the West, which makes it harder to learn. People prefer the instant gratification.”
That is a general failling of neoliberal capitalism, where easy profit is valued instead of work and innovation.
Eh, Education depends on the state you’re in, The Southern and Midwest parts of the United States seem to have little separation of church and state.
“That is a general failling of neoliberal capitalism, where easy profit is valued instead of work and innovation”
Well yeah, but that kinda thing isn’t told to the newer generation. Most people study what they want to do in college these days not really what they’re good at.
“In particular in the Southern US, there is a very deep distrust of any learning, science, etc. There are reasons why movements like the Tea Party gained ground rapidly. It’s partly due to the funding of very wealthy backers, but also because this is a deep cultural problem. It’s the same reason the Republican Party has such a stronghold over certain demographics in the US.”
Yeah, South and Midwest, little separation of church and state, also the South and Midwest are obese like really obese. East and West Coast seem to be the least affected by obesity.
“The US appears to be a very insular culture – they do not empathize with other societies. Very few Americans study and truly understand foreign cultures. There is also a mentality of “my culture is best” that pervades the US.”
That actually seems to be what most people think, also the U.S is other people’s culture.
“Most ethnic groups are not unified and have their own internal conflicts. But when a foreign force comes in, most of the time, the warring sides will put aside their differences and unify to get rid of that invading force.”
If you’re talking about Afghanistan then you’re wrong, The only reason ISIS, The Taliban, Al Qaeda appeared is because Iraq was the only country keeping the ethnic groups in check. We removed the only predator that they had…
“Eh, Education depends on the state you’re in, The Southern and Midwest parts of the United States seem to have little separation of church and state.”
Yes. Most of the northeast states seem to do best overall.
“That actually seems to be what most people think, also the U.S is other people’s culture.”
It’s complicated. It has been heavily influenced yes, but there’s a certain melting pot mentality as well.
“If you’re talking about Afghanistan then you’re wrong, The only reason ISIS, The Taliban, Al Qaeda appeared is because Iraq was the only country keeping the ethnic groups in check. We removed the only predator that they had…”
It depends on the war really. Each region is unique and has its own dynamics.
In Iraq, there were at times, combined efforts between Sunni and Shi’a insurgents to attack the US for example.
Perhaps a better historical example would be that in fighting Japan during WWII, both Communist and Nationalist had an uneasy truce.
“It’s complicated. It has been heavily influenced yes, but there’s a certain melting pot mentality as well. ”
Indeed. A man I know that has been in US and Australia both commented that US are a melting pot while Australia is a multicultural society.
It is much deeper than that.
In particular in the Southern US, there is a very deep distrust of any learning, science, etc. There are reasons why movements like the Tea Party gained ground rapidly. It’s partly due to the funding of very wealthy backers, but also because this is a deep cultural problem. It’s the same reason the Republican Party has such a stronghold over certain demographics in the US.
“Indeed. A man I know that has been in US and Australia both commented that US are a melting pot while Australia is a multicultural society.”
Living here in Canada, Canada is much more multicultural than the US as well in that regard.
But the issue is not that. It’s the issue that there’s a mentality of “USA We’re Number 1” and that other cultures have nothing to offer, no lessons to learn from, and that their advice should be dismissed. It’s a certain arrogance. A lot of Europeans have commented on that when American tourists visit their nations. The issue though is not tourism, the issue is when people high up in government believe their own propaganda.
Another example is a friend of mine who worked at the UK tourist office. He pointed out that often Americans would say “you should be grateful for us for WWII”. He acknowledged and said that the US should acknowledge that other nations made immense sacrifices too. Sometimes he said, you’d get wild-eyed Americans who go “what, the Russians fought the Germans too in WWII or what – the British fought the Germans too?” That sort of stuff made him ticked off. Of course, there were also very pleasant Americans too to work with. The issue he says is that compared to other countries, the ratio of bad to good tourist was generally much worse for Americans.
Yeah, and then tell such Americans that Russians kept 3/4 of German military busy on the Eastern Front…
On a personal note, I have had a conversation with Americans about history in person. My experiences were very similar to those of my friend in the UK.
The ones that study history or know something about history generally accept this as historical fact, along with those who I would consider “open minded”.
The ones that are very close minded cannot bring themselves to accept the idea that there was an Allied effort. You can tell the way such people talk. The sacrifices by the British Empire are for example forgotten. France is perceived as a “surrender monkey”. The fact that the USSR even was in the war at all is forgotten. At the same time, they tend to overrate their own nation. To such people, the US won not because of its massive industrial might, but because of what they see as a qualitative superiority. The concept that man for man, the Germans (and the Finns I would argue too) had one of the best militaries is extremely difficult to fathom for them. It’s impossible to have a rational conversation with such people.
In a way, I think such thinking has pervaded the US today. There is a deep reliance on the material superiority of the US to win. You can see that with its reliance on ultra-expensive aircraft, strategic bombing, and things like the very fuel-inefficient M1. I think that it goes back to the mentality of the size of the US. It is a large nation, and the interior is pretty sparsely populated, but at the same time, the US has a lot of natural resources.
I do not know if you follow the American media, but the idea of “American Exceptionalism” is very strong still. Putin a few months ago was vilified for daring to criticize the concept. Now we’ll leave aside Putin’s merits or drawbacks as a leader, but the point is, the idea of saying that the US is not exceptional is taboo in many circles.
During the 2012 elections, Mitt Romney, in his efforts to vilify Obama, portrayed him as a man that “apologized for America”. To a lot of Americans, there’s a mentality there that, well it’s hard to explain to someone who has not seen it first hand (and I have lived in the US for 5 years), but the idea that the US is exceptional, that it can do no wrong, and that above all else, it never regrets its actions. Although Romney did not win the election, his words resonated with a lot of people, particularly those who are conservative and particularly those in the Southern US.
Yes, and in fact if you take a look, relatively small countries tend to produce the best soldiers – Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Poland, Croatia… that being said, Germany always had good soldiers, but then it was a collection of small countries for most of its history. Internal cultural homogenity combined with contacts with different cultures outside country’s own borders seems to help in that regard.
Also the fact that a small country doesn’t have territory to trade for time like the USA which has that plus two oceans to hide behind.
I suppose it demands we ask, what nations produced good soldiers that were large?
Rome arguably produced good soldiers for a couple of hundred years
Would the Mongolians count?
Germany of course, although they’ve become Americanized since WWII
Maybe for brief periods, some of the Chinese dynasties
Among the small nations, I’d add Israel too, although since 1982, their troop quality has declined. They’ve become more top heavy. They based their structure on the German one just like the Finns did.
I think it’s a matter of necessity being the mother of innovation, so to speak. I once noted that Sweden will never make something like the F-35. It can’t because it doesn’t have the resources to waste.
“I think it’s a matter of necessity being the mother of innovation, so to speak.”
Indeed. When you have all you can have, you become complacent.
That does seem to be the case – homogeneity plus contact with others (China’s relative decline was a period of isolation). The other issue seems to be that society needs to be a place where ideas can introduced and tested. A “high trust” society seems important too as does a mentality that promotes long term thinking.
It will be interesting to see how Canada and Australia do then. They are quite multicultural societies. At the moment, although there are serious social problems, weak economies, and other issues, it would seem reasonably well compared to the rest of the world.
“A “high trust” society seems important too as does a mentality that promotes long term thinking. ”
Which mostly means a society with strong societal bonds.
“At the moment, although there are serious social problems, weak economies, and other issues, it would seem reasonably well compared to the rest of the world.”
True, but best off seem to be Russia, Finland and Poland, from what I know. Though Finland’s idiotic austerity policies have harmed its economy lately – France has fared better in that regard.
And when we are at it…
BTW, United States, United Kingdom and Germany all overcame The Great Depression through roughly Keynesian policies. And when Keynesianism was discarded in the 1970s/1980s, Western economies went to hell.
At the moment, it seems like every developed nation is pursuing austerity policies. Canada is too unfortunately. The Chicago School of Economics remains very strong indeed. By rights it ought to be discarded the way the Soviet system was.
In a world where facts and evidence ruled, Keynesian policies would win out. Fiscal conservatives are very short-term oriented in that regard.
The other way to growth I would argue is suppression of consumption and putting that money into investment. That’s how the East Asians did it, combined with a very export-oriented economy.
Problem is that humans tend to be emotional rather than rational. And fiscal conservativism is barely anything more than a way to make the rich even richer, and the poor even poorer.
Yes there is that.
Our society is also very extrovert dominated, which causes other problems.
I think that the fundamental problem is that only a small percentage of people of accepted the concepts behind the Enlightenment. The Scientific Method is taught in primary education in Canada, but very few people truly learn it and applies it to politics, save perhaps in East Asia. Perhaps scientists represent a sort of elite in that regard – they are among the few that use the Scientific Method regularly.
By the way:
Economic Left/Right: -8.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.56
Strange. I am considered very anti-libertarian by American standards – perhaps that shows how far off those standards are. I am very critical of American Libertarianism.
I presume my emphasis on questioning authority and strong social leanings made me rate somewhat libertarian?
BTW, just a post I wrote:
I’m almost like you Chris.
“Give me liberty or give me death” (hope I got that right)
Economic Left/Right: -8.00
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.87
Never watched the Patriot, and I doubt I ever will, but the song is excellent.
Movie is excellent to. And it kind of in the same vein as this discussion. Small maneuverable guerrilla force tying up larger technologically more advanced occupation force that resorts to terrorizing civilians and accomplishes nothing but angering the guerrillas.
Man if the U.S never went to Iraq we probably could have continued F-22 production and upgrades, not to mention we wouldn’t have had this debt with China. Man really put’s things in perspective doesn’t it?
Debt actually started accumulating long before the Iraq war. This cartoon explains it quite well:
Neoliberals started accumulating the debt at huge rate.