Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Smoking Nazis

While I usually try to avoid crossing Godwin's law, in this case the shoe fits. Omaha passed a law banning smoking in all restaurants starting in October; bars and keno parlors are required to comply by 2011. Every time I hear about one of these laws I get depressed, because for me it just represents another small piece falling off whatever is left of what the Founding Fathers intended for this country. Anyway, I bring this up because I found a very, um, "interesting" quote from Mayor Fahey's chief of staff today in the World-Herald article on the ban. (Sorry, no link because registration is required, and I'm not registered.) Here's the quote: "It's really up to the people of Omaha," Landow said, "to voluntarily comply much the same as they would with the seat-belt law."

So. We passed a law, but you only have to "voluntarily" comply. Unless we catch you, in which case we'll fine you $100. But it's unlikely we'll catch you, so we're going to ask you really really nice if you'll pretty please obey our law.

Man, there's sometimes when I wish I ruled the world so I could teach these manipulative "friendly fascists" a lesson. Oh, I'm sorry Mr. Landow...I thought you would like me forcing you to eat "health paste" and listen to Eric Cartman sing "Come Sail Away" for the rest of your life. After all, some quack doctors said it was good for your health, and everyone else seems to enjoy it...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Got Nothin'

Had a long day at work, Calc II test, had my evening activity (read: date) cancel in favor of going out with my sister (long story) and then sat around and spent a lazy evening watching the commentary on BSG Season 1. Anyway, long story short, I don't have anything. So in lieu of a post, I thought I'd post this video, offered entirely without editorial comment, other than that, well, Officers (especially pilots) in the USAF can be kind of weird sometimes, and you shouldn't hold it against all of them.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Khobar, 10 years later

Greyhawk reminded me of an anniversary I had completely forgotten about. 10 years ago today 19 Airmen died in the bombing of the barracks at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Yet another "skirmish" in the war we didn't know we were a part of. More at Milblogs.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Even more mediawar

I've noticed a recent trend across the internet on writing about how the media is acting as a fifth column in regards to our current war and/or otherwise impeding our efforts. I think a lot of that is tied to the recent New York Rag's "revelation" that the U.S. is in fact fighting terrorism through the banking system...and their subsequent disclosure of exactly how we are doing that. Anyway, Michael Ledeen contributed an excellent blurb to the quote is "These people are not acting like journalists at all. They are acting as a fourth branch of government, co-equal with the others." Check it out.

h/t to Spook86

RN sings the hits

Came across the ol' Dragoon Guards version of "Is this the way to Amarillo" over at Milblogs, and it made me think of the Royal Navy's take on Queen's classic, "Bohemian Rhapsody." Quite amusing, and make sure you check out the head-banging chopper pilots. I've always said that in order to fly a machine in which the wings are moving faster than the fuselage, you must be crazy...these guys just proved it.

AP actually gets it right

Thought I would draw your attention to an AP article that caught my eye on Yahoo this's entitled "Guardsmen: Iraq a minute-by-minute battle," but it really is just a series of reflections and observations by a group of Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers who are returning from Iraq. The article doesn't try and impart any sort of spin, instead simply reporting what the soldiers say. A note to the AP writers and editors: this is exactly what a news article should look like. There isn't a round-up of the latest violence in Iraq, like there always seems to be at the end of unrelated articles on Iraq, there is no spin, no bias. Simply interviewing people and then reporting what they say. The Guardsmen have some interesting insights into the war, and don't try and varnish the truth. They simply tell it like it is, both good and bad. This is pathetic, and a horrible reflection on our news media, but I'm surprised this story even ran. The fact that it is balanced and doesn't reflect the biases of it's author makes me wonder how it slipped by the AP censors. Anyway, kudos to Kimberly Hefling, the reporter, for taking the time to write a balanced story about Iraq. This is what we need more of if we hope to win the larger conflict.

Friday, June 23, 2006

More mediawar and stuff

Sorry about the lack of posting this week; I've been rather busy with my summer class and work. I do have a couple of longer posts in the pipeline, but they're still works in progress. Plus I'm just bummed about the U.S.'s loss to Ghana. Refs screw the U.S. team over again by awarding a penalty kick for a Ghanian player's flop. Pussies that flop and give soccer a bad name really piss me off. Anyway, we're out of the tournament, but I've got my two new bandwagon teams..Australia and Ghana. Ghana gets to play Brazil in their opening round of 16 game, but I think Ghana might actually have a chance: their defense looks surprisingly solid, and Brazil's play has been uninspired as of late; their back line also looks rather weak. Ghana's forwards definitely know how to take advantage of that.

Anyway, just wanted to post one quick link to a Donald Sensing piece over at Winds of Change that references a James Pinkerton column from today...dovetails nicely with a lot of the media stuff I've been discussing lately, namely the aspect that the media, like it or not, is aiding and abetting our enemy in this new form of 4th Generation Warfare.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bad news Tuesday

Three awful pieces of news out of Iraq today...the first that I'm sure you've heard about is the butchering of two American soldiers, Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore. That's all I'm going to say about that because there is a time for is a time for mourning Pfc. Menchaca and Pfc. Tucker. The time for talk and vengeance will come later. The next piece of news is probably less known, but is no less awful. The U.S. Army revealed today that Spc. Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. and 1st Lt. Andre D. Tyson were not shot in an ambush in 2004 as first thought, but instead were fired upon by Iraqi security officers that were patrolling with them. While the deaths are horrible in and of themselves, the blow of trust that this news could bring would be even more damaging.

Although I hate to be forced to bring this up, Ms. McCaffrey can't keep her yap shut and remember her son as a patriot who served his country. Instead, she is going after the Pentagon full-bore: ""When they come I have my list of questions ready, and I want these answers and I don't want lies," McCaffrey's mother, Nadia McCaffrey, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press." It's later revealed in the article that Ms. McCaffrey has become a "vocal critic" of the war. While states that she has her questions ready, it appears that she has already jumped to her own conclusions about the incident: ""I really want this story to come out; I want people to know what happened to my son," she said. "There is no doubt to me that this (ambushes by attached Iraqi units) is still happening to soldiers today, but our chain of command is awfully reckless; they don't seem to give a damn about what's happening to soldiers.""

On one hand, the entire U.S. military. On the other, a grieving mother who hasn't been briefed and knows...well, next to nothing about this incident anyway. I know who I believe; unfortunately, too many Americans are willing to believe the other. Hopefully Ms. McCaffrey doesn't turn into another Cindy Sheehan; sadly, it appears that she is well on her way.

Finally, the third piece of bad news out of Iraq today...proving that they are doing their best to sink past their use of a teen with Down Syndrome as a suicide bomber, insurgents today attacked the elderly in a bomb attack against a line of pension collectors, killing two elderly women and wounding three. I would include a remark about "what's next" here, but I really can't think of anything lower than this, other than killing babies...which they have done.

Cowardly bastards.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Soccer follow-up

There were some good comments in my previous soccer (FOOTBALL!) post; enough so that I thought it warranted another post.

Brad made the typical American comment about how the rules are "too arbitrary." I made a response, but potato's is much better, and one that I should have thought of since I am a referee.

" I don't agree with the lack of clarity about rules in football (ehrm soccer or whatever you call it ). The rules are clear, it just happens that in a fast moving game a lot of the decisions will be 50:50 . You had two players sent off because the referee thought you had infringed (most people this side of the pond thought he was right)."

Couldn't agree more...something people often forget about soccer (FOOTBALL!) is that where in(American) football a referee can make the call the instant it happens, or wait until the play is over to throw the flag, or take the play under review and look at it for 5 minutes in slow motion just to determine if someone stepped over a line, a soccer (FOOTBALL!) referee has all of about 3 seconds to see the possible infraction, run through a decision matrix in his head, and make the call. With cards, the time is extended to about another 10 seconds to decide if someone warrants a card or not. A great example of this limited decision time was the French non-goal in the South Korea-France match today. South Korea's keeper made a valiant effort, but the ball was over the line for about half a second. While it was obvious on the slow-mo replay, it must have been near impossible to see for the referees on the pitch. And since referees aren't supposed to make a decision unless they are absolutely sure, no goal...yes, it sucks, but it's part of the game and we all accept it. As for Larrionda's decisions being correct...well, I've already addressed that. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Potato goes on to make some points about the U.S. side that I somewhat agree with..

"The thing about the US team is that they are brave and skillful, but lack guile in comparison to the major world powers. A Euro manager would go nuts over Popes tackle because he should never have put himself in that position where he was reliant on a referee's interpretation. If you're on a yellow card and you get into a shoving match with you your opponent, you're asking for trouble."

You'll hafta cut us some slack about the "guile" thing...I mean, after all, most of these players grew up in a country where one of the most popular sports consists of beating the crap out of the other players. As for Pope's tackle being his own fault for putting himself in the position to be at a referee's mercy, normally I would agree with this sentiment. I've never had sympathy for idiots who continue to play out of control after receiving one yellow; after all, that is the purpose of two yellows equalling a red card. But in Pope's case, I felt that his tackle was just a clean aggressive tackle. Too often I see referees punish players for playing good aggressive soccer (FOOTBALL!); this seems to me to be one of those cases.

In any case, there were some good games today. I caught the second half of Brazil-Australia; the socceroos from Oz played them pretty evenly. The final score of 2-0 definitely did not reflect the game. I thought South Korea-France was going to be a snoozer, and it was for the first half, but the last 20 minutes of the game made up for it. South Korea's garbage goal in the 80th certainly made things exciting. The only thing that I thought really sucked was Zidane's yellow card, rendering him ineligible to play in what could possibly be his last international game. While I've never been a fan of the French, possibly losing your last international game to a crap yellow is a tough blow.

Now we just have to hope that the Italians knock off Italy, and we beat Ghana...and remember, this is all to gain the right to most likely play Brazil in our opening round of 16 game.

Afghanistan FOB

Saw a cool AP article on the construction of a FOB in Afghanistan. Money quote: "Think of the worst place you can think of and times that by 50," said McIntosh, a heavy equipment adviser from Delta, Ohio."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Italy 1, U.S. 1

Yep, soccer produced another "boring" tie today. I've never understood that criticism; how simply because a sport results in ties on a regular basis it must be "boring." The game between the U.S. and Italy featured much more action, drama, and heroics than your typical CWS baseball game (which, since it is held in my hometown, everyone seems to be in love with.) Anyway, on with the game...

First, the most obvious effect on the game, the ref. And let me stop right there to say that the fact that the ref had such an obvious effect on the game is a criticism in and of itself, because referees are supposed to stay out of the game as much as possible, although this rarely happens at the international level. Witness Eric Wynalda's statement about his only having ever seen "two kinds of refs: bad refs, and worse refs." The referee handed out 3 expulsions (red cards), a sizeable number for an international match, and 4 cautions (yellow cards). While the first red card, given to the Italian De Rossi for flagrantly elbowing McBride in the face was definitely deserved, the two given to the U.S. were most definitely not. Mastroeni was given a red card for what should have been a foul, maybe a yellow card at most. A red card for a two footed tackle from the side which knocks a guy over is absurd. Eddie Pope's second yellow (and resulting red) was even more ludicrous. All Eddie did was play aggressive soccer, with a hard-in tackle that knocked an Italian player over; the tackle got ball, Eddie did not come in high, and the tackle was not malicious in nature. Calling a foul for this is borderline, giving a second yellow that results in a red is idiotic. Making the story all the better is the fact that Jorge Larrionda, the referee, was suspended by his national association in Uruguay from refereeing at the 2002 World Cup after other referees reported "irregularities" in his officiating. I'll let Wynalda have the last word on Larrionda: "Players win games, coaches lose them, and referees ruin them." As both a player and a referee, I couldn't agree more.

Sadly, it is likely that the only news most Americans will hear about the game is the referee scandal. How about the fact that the U.S. played a powerful Italian team to a 1-1 draw even playing two men down for most of the second half? Granted, we got a little bit of help from Italian player Cristian Zaccardo's own goal (probably the most pathetic own goal I've ever seen in international play) but hey, while it's great to be good, being lucky helps too. Speaking of being good, Bruca Arena deserves some major credit for his tactics in this match. Going with a 4-1-4-1 made a huge difference, as packing the midfield defensively allowed the U.S. to get some major pressure on the Italians, completely throwing off their rhythmn, leading to what I feel is the most important statistic of the match: 11 Italian offside calls to 1 U.S. call. While that may not seem that excesive, especially to a non-soccer player, consider this: the average of teams for the ENTIRE TOURNAMENT thus far is only 5 calls. Not per game, 5 calls over the entire tournament. Granted, the Italians did a poor job of adjusting, but the fact remains that the U.S. was able to throw off their timing in the midfield on almost every advance, even if only by a second of two.

This is the game that I feel really cements the U.S.'s place in the world arena of soccer. While our victory over Mexico and our tough loss against Germany in '02 showed we had arrived, our blowout by the Czechs gave doubters some ammunition. This game should wipe away a lot of those doubts: a U.S. team played a very good Italian team evenly, and then fought back with a lot of heart against the odds when forced to play outmanned. Now we just have to whup up on Ghana (not as easy as it sounds; they beat the Czechs 2-0) and hope that Italy can knock off the Czechs.

We're all soldiers now

As I've mentioned in my previous post, like it or not, everyone is a combatant in this new era of warfare. The lack of a home front and the mentality that accompanies the possession of a safe area has caused everyone to understand that we are all potential targets, simply by our being U.S. citizens. This idea of terrorism making us into possible physical combatants/victims is not a new one, and is an idea that is commonlly talked about and well understood by a majority of the populace here.

However, that isn't what I'm addressing. The possibility of becoming a victim of terrorism is largely a passive role. Yes, you can prepare for it by making a disaster kit, by getting first aid training, by being aware of your surroundings, but there is nothing you can do to prevent or otherwise affect this in the long term. This is not true for the other type of combatant in this war, which is why this type of combat is so important: every American is, either directly or indirectly an active combatant who can affect the outcome.

What exactly do I mean by this? In order to understand that, we need to take a more in depth look at 4th Generation Warfare (4GW.) As I discuss here, 4GW results in a primarily political war, often disguised as a military conflict. 4GW is specifically designed around asymmetrical warfare to enable a lower tech, poorer adversary to triumph over a richer and better equipped, yet politically vulnerable nation. The basis of 4GW can be found at the link, but how it applies to this discussion is that because 4GW is centered around politics, the primary targets of our adversaries is going to be our politicians; the easiest way to get at politicians is by using their constituents. Their constituents would be the citizens of the U.S., hence every citizen of the U.S. is currently being targeted in an information war by our adversaries. Unfortunately, far too many of our fellow citizens (including many in the media) fail to realize this, and thereby fail in their duty as citizens. That duty is to educate oneself about the current conflict, from all sides, and attempt to understand just what exactly our opponents are doing. Doing this will enable one to gain a better understanding of the conflict and how our opponents shape their message, enabling citizens to better resist the asymmetrical information campaign waged by our adversaries.

Engaging in this activity of education and understanding is the best way for citizens today to support the war effort. In WWII, citizens put aside their normal jobs and went to work in a war factory on a wartime footing to support the war. Today, due to drastic changes in the waging of war, this kind of "national mobilization" is entirely unnecessary, but education and understanding are not, even more so since this war is being fought in the political and information arena, not the battlefield. Unlike Rosie the Riveteer, we are all engaged in combat with the enemy, whether we like it or not. He views it this way, so there is no reason why we should not.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Media unable to tell story of terrorists

As reported today, the U.S. military is temporarily shutting off Gitmo to the media. And as expected, the media is pitching a major temper tantrum.

""Now is the time when the media is most needed," said Clive Stafford Smith, an attorney who has filed legal challenges on behalf of about 40 detainees. "The fact that right now, the most important time in the history of Guantanamo, they are being banned is un-American.""

Considering that it would be completely within our rights to summarily execute your clients, Mr. Smith, I'd say that the temporary banning of the media after a series of operations designed to garner media attention and affect world opinion (the suicides, hunger strikes, and recent "revolt") is small potatoes.

"It's the most transparent detention facility in the history of warfare," insisted Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, echoing comments by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld."

And that's exactly right. Compare Gitmo with any POW camp in the past (not that these prisoners are POWs; far from it, but the comparison is still apt), or even with the Nisei internment camps during WWII. The media is allowed to report what is going on; that's more than can be said for any of the afore mentioned internment camps.

"But critics say the military is being disingenuous in saying it wants to protect detainees' privacy. One prisoner, speaking in English, once told a visiting AP reporter that he wanted to talk. But when the reporter asked the military if she could interview the detainee, the answer was no.

Other reporters have been have been hustled away when prisoners have tried to communicate with them — through food slots in the cells of the highest-security section, or from behind curtains at the medical clinic."

Hm, I wonder why that is...oh, I know. We're fighting 4GW, yes? In 4GW, you target the enemy's political will, a key point of which is through the media. So, it would make sense then that the U.S. military wouldn't want people who are waging war against the U.S. to talk to the media, yes? (And make no mistake about it, the people at Gitmo are still waging war; they are still combatants in this conflict. Just as terrorism has led to there being no rear-areas or home fronts on today's battlefield, so too has the new change in warfare led to an abolishment of the standard distinction between soldier and civilian. Like it or not, we, on both sides, are all combatants to some degree. But that's a post for another day.)

Anyway, bottom line is that yet again, the media can't see past its own bellybutton on this one to realize that the reason the military won't give them unrestricted access is because they are unwitting dupes and allies of the terrorists who help them propagate their message.

As a side note, I'm sorry for all the media and 4GW stuff lately, but ever since reading "The Sling and the Stone," it has been on the forefront of my mind. The media is, quite honestly, where the war is going to be waged and where it will ultimately be won or lost. Which makes is kind of important. Expect much more on this topic.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


The Pentagon released today that it would not be keeping some interrogation techniques in the Army's revised Field Manual classified. Yup, read that again: we're going to be handing all of our legal interrogation techniques directly over to al-Qaeda. Don't believe me? Check out this little gem from a DefenseLink story in 2004..."A manual captured in Afghanistan showed the terrorists were aware of the interrogation procedures and trained to resist those procedures." This was one of the primary reasons for approval of additional interrogation techniques: terrorists are well aware of our current unclassified interrogation techniques and are trained to resist them. So now that we've added new interrogation methods, we are going to forgo the middleman and deliver them right into al-Qaeda's hands. Un-frickin'-believable. I guess no one at DoD has gotten the memo about that new-fangled Internet thing yet.

The best part of the story is the quote from Human Rights Watch: ""I think this is huge," said Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First. "It's a very significant step toward creating the kind of clarity in the rules that military personnel have said that they lack and that led to a lot of the abuses."" Explain to me how making this information public has anything to do with military personnel. Oh, that's right, it doesn't. Military personnel could still have gotten "the kind of clarity in the rules" that they need with this manual classified. But because of HRW's, among others, constant harping on the military and the Administration, we get this.

People just don't get it: ANYTHING that is open-source will be picked up and used by these whack-jobs. I can't emphasize this enough. If you put it on the internet, or write about it in a magazine, THEY WILL SEE IT.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tidbits from Iraq

First, I saw this AP headline the other day regarding Zarqawi's timely demise..."Al-Zarqawi's death may not stop civil war." It appears that the AP has gotten stuck on stupid yet again. I was going to blog about it, but then I saw that Perry had already said about everything that I needed to say. Bottom line, this is an example of the press taking what should be an opportunity to savor a rare clear victory in this long war and say "yes but..." But hey, they seem to do that to everything, so what the hell...I'm going to keep listening to my Gladiator soundtrack and plotting the sacking of several nearby cities. What, the music has that effect on me...Max-i-mus, Max-i-mus, Max-i-mus!!!

In other news, I saw this AP story today regarding Gen. Casey 's remarks that there will likely be troop withdrawals in the coming months, provided the Iraqi government and security forces continue to stand up as they have done in the past several months. At the end of the article, we have quotes from two of our illustrious Congress-critters demonstrating a complete lack of reading comprehension...

"Democratic Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record) of Rhode Island, a member of the Armed Service Committee, said he hopes it is realistic. "We have to get our forces out," Reed said. "Our forces are under tremendous wear and tear."

Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., said the United States should hold the Iraqis to that timetable.

"That's an authoritative statement," Specter said. "Now let's see him do it.""

So, in response to a statement that withdrawal of U.S. forces is possible, Congress' response is that we "have to get our forces out" and that it was "an authoritative statement." I guess "provided the Iraqi government and security forces continue to stand up" means nothing to them. As they stand up, we will stand down. Simple as that, no matter what some idiot Congressmen may spout off.

Finally, this isn't about Iraq, but I found it rather amusing, in a sad sort of way. While you wouldn't know it from the media coverage, Islamists now rule most of Somalia, including the "capitol" of Mogadishu. In order to win the hearts and minds, they have outlawed the viewing of World Cup games. While to most American readers this probably means nothing, this is about the equivalent of banning the viewing of the World Series, NBA Finals, and Super Bowl in the U.S...for 4 years in a row. In response, there was massive riots that left 2 people dead. Make us grow beards, force the veil, take away all things fun, but don't touch our World Cup!!!

(h/t - Brendan Loy)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

New blogroll

Also, a friend of mine has started a new blogroll. The idea started in an IM chat tonight when we were discussing the possibility of me running office someday. I said that I'm much too honest and plain-spoken, to which he replied...
him: i dunno maybe you'd pull an ernie chambers
him: become the most hated and loved person in the state
me: haha
me1: maybe, but not for the same reasons
me: he's that bc he's a racist
me: i would be it bc im a dumbassist
me: i discriminate towards stupid people

Thus was born the idea to create an "I discriminate towards stupid people" blogroll/group. I made the slight adjustment to include one of my favorite phrases, "stuck on stupid." So the finished product is, "I discriminate against those who are 'stuck on stupid.'" Or, for short, dumbassists.

It's listed beneath the LLP blogroll. While it only has two members now, we hope it will grow. Email me at if you'd like to join.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Media Warfare

While I don't have much time tonight, (I have calc homework to finish up...yay summer school!!) I saw a news item that dovetails perfectly with my previous post, the Propaganda War. Today a detainee at Gitmo released to the media, through his lawyer, the other side of the recent inmate-guard altercation down there. Per SOP with captured al-Qaeda personnel, the detainee stated that the fight started when guards tried to search the detainees' Qurans for hoarded medicine to be used in suicide attempts. The detainees, according to this version, fought for a very small period of time and only used a lamp. In other words, the fight is the guards fault, not the detainees, and the detainees immediately settled down following the fight. This account contrasts sharply with the official U.S. military version, which is that the guards were lured into an ambush by a staged suicide attempt, and were then engaged in a battle that lasted for several minutes. As the article points out, al-Qaeda detainees have a history of providing misinformation in hopes of changing world opinion. Usually in a news article that context is missing; all we are given is the fact that detainees are, again, contradicting what the U.S. military said. In this case, it appears that both the U.S. PAO, Cmdr. Robert Durand, and the author of the article, Ben Fox, took the time and made the effort to get both sides of the story out. Kudos to both of them.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Propaganda War

I'm back from vacation in Florida, and I must say, it was pretty damn boring. Beach was boring, was there with my family, which is all well and good, but I'm 19 years old, for Christsakes. Anyway, the boredom did allow me to get caught up on some required reading. Re-read Animal Farm and 1984, but the real purpose of the trip was to tackle "The Sling and The Stone," by Marine Col. Thomas Hammes. The book is a very apt and accurate study of 4th Generation Warfare (4GW), which is the kind of conflict we are currently engaged in. While the book makes many good points (and I'll probably be referring back to it in coming weeks), one very relevant topic it discusses is the role of the media, propaganda, and perception when engaged in 4GW.

Before we get to our discussion, however, a bit of background. 4GW is the most recent evolution in war. It originally appeared in the Chinese Civil War, developed by Mao as he led the Communists against Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalists. Mao's idea of 4GW had three phases: phase I is when "the insurgents concentrate primarily on buildling political strength. Military action is limited to selected, politically motivated assassinations. Any other military action must have a propaganda purpose to cement the population's support of the insurgents." (Emphasis mine.) Phase II has the insurgents "gain strength and consolidate control of base areas. They actively administer some portions of the contested area." Phase III is when the insurgents "commit regular forces in a final offfensive against the government." Now, as Col. Hammes makes clear, warfare is constantly evolving, so it is no surprise, then, that the Vietnamese employed Mao's technique in their long wars for independence, but with a twist. The Vietnamese understood the power of the media, and made it a cornerstone of their plan for victory. The Vietnamese strategy was a "war of attrition, accompanied by intensive national and international propaganda to weaken American resolve." (Emphasis, again, is mine.) The obvious case study for this propaganda/media strategy with regards to Vietnam is Tet. While it is commonly accepted in military and conservative circles that Tet was a disaster for the VC, Hammes makes a much different point. While acknowledging that Tet was in fact a tactical disaster for the VC, Hammes quotes a Vietnamese general who, when posed with a statement that the Americans never lost a battle in Vietnam, states that the statement "is true. It is also irrelevant."

The victories on the battlefield were irrelevant because the Vietnamese won the battle for the hearts and minds of America. And that is how 4GW is fought. An adversary carefully crafts a message, often tailored for different audiences, and makes careful use of the media. Using Tet again as an example, after the battle the Vietnamese increased their propaganda. The response of the United States was predictably tepid, sticking to its "pre-Tet statement that it was winning and that the South Vietnamese were a democratic government." In other words, "we seemed to feel that the destruction of the cadre and the improving security situation in the south should speak for themselves." (Emphasis mine.) Does that bolded phrase sound familiar at all?

The common counter-argument to all this talk of use of the media and propaganda is that "it's the media's fault." This argument was used in Vietnam, and it is trotted out on an almost daily basis today. For now, I leave it to you, the reader, to ponder over whether or not this is a valid argument. Remember, in order to fully understand 4GW, we must look at things from the adversary's point of view, not our own. For a bit of background and seasoning, I leave you with these selected links, primarily discussing Haditha and the fallout. Dadmanly, In From the Cold, and Mike Yon. I look forward to getting your responses on this and continuing the discussion especially with regards to our current conflict.