September 25th, 2007

More Totten, more “getting to know you” in Iraq

Michael Totten has written another fine piece on recent developments in Iraq.

He interviews Colonel Mike Silverman, whose words echo a fact that other interviewees have emphasized in a recent article of Totten’s (one I discussed in depth here): al Qaeda appears to have overplayed its sadistic hand in Sunni areas of Iraq that might otherwise have been its natural allies, and greater exposure to the US military has convinced the locals that we just might be the good guys after all.

I wonder sometimes, when I’m feeling optimistic, whether it isn’t some intrinsic characteristic of evil to always overplay its hand. This may be one of the built-in advantages to the human race of evil being so very evil.

But this doesn’t inevitably lead to its downfall. The article also makes it clear that, without the help of the US, the locals were virtually powerless to fight off the sadistic violence of what was in fact a relatively small number of frenzied and extraordinarily vicious thugs.

15 Responses to “More Totten, more “getting to know you” in Iraq”

  1. Laura Says:

    Michael Totten writes a very good article. I plan on sending a check to help fund his freelance work. Good Post!

  2. LabRat Says:

    I figure it’s the same phenomenon that makes liars assume no one is honest, the constant jokester assume no one is really serious, and the idealist assume that no one is apathetic. Even though their business is using the effects of violence to coerce, they’ve been doing it so long they’ve forgotten that it’s a much bigger deal to others than it is to them.

  3. Nausicaa Says:

    You’re doing such a great blog!!! I agree with most of your point of views -I am, to name it someway, a libertarian, but it has very much to do with neocons most of times, in spite of what many people think. I am European, and here these are minoritarian ideologies all around, but I try to change that through the texts I write and upload in my website. I’ll link you in my webpage and read you on. Do not stop writting. Back soon!

  4. nyomythus Says:

    “…one of the built-in advantages to the human race of evil being so very evil. But this doesn’t inevitably lead to its downfall.”

    It led civil society in Algeria to finally boot out guerrillas or FLN maquisards … so there is a historical precedence.

  5. gcotharn Says:

    I am nerdy enough to have studied Gen. Petraeus’ charts earlier this month. They showed a clear increase in violence after the Feb. 2005 bombing of the Golden Dome. That increase in violence stayed high until this year, then began a dramatic downturn.

    Having studied those charts, I was especially interested in this quote from Totten’s article – from Col. Silverman:

    “[Abu Musab al] Zarqawi invented Al Qaeda in Iraq. The top leadership outside Iraq squawked and thought it was a bad idea. Then he blew up the Samarra mosque, triggered a civil war, and got the whole world’s attention. Then the Al Qaeda leadership outside [of Iraq] dumped huge amounts of money and people and arms into Anbar Province. They poured everything they had into this place. The battle against Americans in Anbar became their most important fight in the world. And they lost.”

    Al Qaeda’s Iraq adventure is as doomed as Hitler after Normandy. Now let us focus clearly on Iran, Iran, Iran… and all they are doing to thwart the success of Iraq’s government.

  6. r4d20 Says:

    and all they are doing to thwart the success of Iraq’s government.

    Iran OWNS the current Iraqi government – undermining it is the last thing they want to do.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    So r4 thinks Iran wanted Blackwater out or their ROE changed, is that it?

  8. njcommuter Says:

    Nothing is inevitable. Not the defeat of al Qaeda. Not victory by al Qaeda. Not even a World Series win by the Red Sox (grin).

    The future has to be shaped, and our elected (harrrumph) representatives will play a large part in shaping it.

    It falls to us to be informed, to analyze the world as we see it, not as we imagine it, and to make our considered beliefs known.

  9. sergey Says:

    The behaviour and psychology of political or religious fanatics very close resembles those of ordinary psychopaths, and inevitably results in cutting of ties with reality and pissing off everybody around. There is a vicious circle: the more hostile to their surroundings they became, the more reasons they have to became even more nasty. Nazis followed this path to the end. It is impossible to be both evil and adequate, and inexorable progression of inadequacy leads to utmost failure. Greeks called it Nemesis.

  10. sergey Says:

    This underlying dynamic is also reflected in Talmudic sayings: What is the reward for a mitzva? Another mitzva. What is the punishment for a sin? Another sin. There is no sin without insanity behind it.

  11. Peter Boston Says:

    What I got from Totten’s article is the ability of a small, well organized group to use demonic violence to control a large population. That this dynamic can occur while most of the civilian population are armed makes this phenomenon even more interesting.

  12. Tatterdemalian Says:

    As long as humanity remains mortal, the ultimate method of exerting political, economic, or cultural power over other people will always be killing them. If even a single individual were to develop a means to kill as many people as he wants, without ever having to risk being killed himself, that person would be king of as large an area as he could strip of life.

    The terrorists are not immortal, but our own rules of engagement, developed from the fantasies of modern aristocrats rather than the realities on the ground, afford them both a greater power to kill and a protection from being killed than our own troops enjoy.

  13. Laura Says:

    One thing that begs asking in my opinion is, given the military spends so much time and energy, not to mention life, supporting and helping this young (embryonic) democracy to emerge, how are the actions of private military firms in Iraq hurting in that effort?

    I would like to ask that of Totten, or for him to ask that of Silverman. Many commanders in Iraq have been harshly critical of lost ground because of firms like Blackwater operating like cowboys. That surely can’t help the people to feel very confident. I have read in several places that the people are quite afraid of them.

  14. OmegaPaladin Says:

    Laura,

    Where have you heard that? I read lots of milbloggers (Blackfive, OPFOR,, Badgers Forward, Acute Politics, etc) as well as war correspondents (Roggio, Totten, Yon, Ardolino, etc) and I have never heard the PMCs get slammed. Well, there were a few comments about Peruvian guards who couldn’t speak English or Arabic, but nothing about cowboy PMCs.

    I’ve heard mixed reports about Iraqi security forces like the National Police and some units of the Iraqi Army, but not about PMCs. Are you trying to start something here?

  15. Laura Says:

    OmegaPaladin

    Here are a few links:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=N2E0MWNhMjMxZjVhM2JmMjA0Yzg0ODNmNzVjMTk5ZDc=

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iHe3RGdxzFVjqN54O2181uAuXjmw

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-na-gates27sep27,1,201139.story?coll=la-headlines-business&track=crosspromo

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/09/27/opinion/main3305332.shtml

    In terms of your last question, not sure what you mean.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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