Fighting Identities

This brilliant article from Military Review printed in 2007 is a must read.

Fighting Identities – Why we are losing our wars [PDF 1.4MB]

Two snapshots in history: two “non-state actors” seizing the greatest states of their day by the throat—and taking what they want. For all of its unpalatable irony, this is our world today.

We Americans, 21st-century Romans, find ourselves ineffective against the barbarians we call non-state actors. The non-state fighters are like Melville’s Moby Dick: they “heap” us, they task us. Yet we can achieve nothing against them.

Something is happening here, and we need to take it onboard. But doing so means throwing off our narcissism and certainty of entitlement. It is a heavy burden to shrug off. But shrug it we must.

the “American Way of War” enshrines triumph through military “transformations”. They are divine tokens of our superiority. Even better, “like-us” challenges from others are met by all-out U.S. out-performance. German combined arms innovation between the world wars led to “Patton beats Rommel.” Ditto Japanese carrier aviation. Ditto Soviet atomic rockets. Ditto too the Soviets’ vaunted “military-technical revolution.” how we outdid them! But our paradigm of military “revolution” is steadfastly both technology-driven and self-focused. The American way of war is all about “like-us” or “kin-enemies” also doing like us. We always win out in the end, and win big.

Today’s transformation, however, has nothing to do with us, except perhaps in how the new innovators take on our technologies—and target our vulnerabilities. the innovators here are emerging societies and alternative

Read on for more of this excellent essay.

The Rushdie Gambit

In a previous post (“Killing the chicken to frighten the monkey“) I discussed Richard Fernandez’s analyis of the attempted murder of Danish “Muhammed cartoons” cartoonist Henryk M. Broder in his own home by an axe wielding Somali who ended up being shot dead by Danish police.

Its seems that Swedish cartoonist Lars Viks  narrowly missed the same fate. From B92:

DUBLIN — Irish police arrested seven Muslims for planning to kill a Swedish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body.

In response, several Swedish papers reprinted the cartoons on Wednesday.

…Vilks has a price on his head. A group connected to terrorist group al Qaeda had offered $100,000 (74,000 euros) to anyone who murdered him and a $50,000 bonus for doing it by slitting his throat. The same group offered a $50,000 reward for the murder of Ulf Johansson, the editor of the paper that published Vilks’ drawing.

On Wednesday, several newspapers in Sweden had published the cartoon, either as a statement in favor of free speech or as part of their news coverage.

Vilks told Swedish news agency TT that he had received threatening anonymous phone calls from Somalia since the beginning of the year. He said he was not rattled by the plot to kill him.

“I’m not shaking with fear, exactly,” he told TT. “I have prepared in different ways and I have an axe here in case someone should manage to get in through the window.”

…The case has similarities to that of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose 2005 drawing of Muhammad wearing a bomb as a turban sparked protests and riots from Muslims who considered it offensive. In January, Danish police shot and killed an armed man who had come to Westergaard’s house to kill him.

I salute Mr Viks and the Swedish newspapers who republished the cartoons. They are standing up to bullying and intimidation with defiance and courage.

Also see:

Mark Humphrys Roundabout plot links.

Switch hits number 1

Delighted to see Chip and Dan Heath’s new book “Switch” hit the New York Times number 1 spot for advice, a monumental achievement (they are up against the entire self-help industry and its bogus claims).

Their first book “Made to Stick” was absolutely brilliant.

I have not read Switch yet (its hard to get these new books quickly in Serbia) but I will do as soon as I am back in London.

Via Bob Sutton

Jelena Karleusa – Pop Star of the Century

Last night some friends and I were discussing the irony of Turbofolk stars being gay icons in Serbia. I decided to google the phenomenon and came across a Wikipedia classic. This is a verbatim excerpt from the wikipedia page for Jelena Karleusa (aka JK).

Described by many as: “Jelena Karleusa is a most popular, most discussed and most controversial pop star of all time in Balkan. This sexy blond woman is rocking the stage for 15 years. Always first, always new, proclaimed as gay icon, antichrist, pop star of the century, show-bizz monster, scandal girl! Her face sales the newspaper, her appearance rises the rating, her albums are sold in millions of copies.

Riiiiiiiiight.Next time you need an antichrist gay icon pop-star-of-the-century to sales your newspaper and rises your ratings, you know which show-bizz monster to recruit for your scandal.

Official Jelena Karleusa website