Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Zarqawi as a symbol

Today Washington Post reports that the US military plays up the role of Jordanian terrorist Zarqawi in a propaganda-effort meant to bolster the US efforts in Iraq.

That kind of of synecdoche (naming a part instead of the whole) is very effective when thinking about war in a Clausewitzean way: you need to focus your efforts at a "schwerpunkt", a centre of gravity which with its destruction guarantees your success. But it is also very deceptive in the very non-clausewitzean reality of modern Counter Insurgency Operations (COIN).

The continued focus on "bad guys" detracts from the very real need for a long-term focus on social change. I just finished Jason Burkes fine book on Al-Qaeda and he shows the boils, especially in a little piece on a kurdish teenager that was caught before he could blow himself up in Iraq, acting on the behalf of Ansar Ul-Islam. Days before he was following the World Cup in Soccer in the papers, his favourite team being England. Those mind-boggling paradoxes are glossed over by the super-terrorist as symbol of the struggle.


Post a Comment

<< Home