Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Iraqi PM and Saudi crown prince form "possie"

In my last post I reported that the US Airforce had apparently bombed a parking lot in Iraqi in relation for the beheadings. The usual red-neck commentators on other websites have unfortunately suggested bombing the Arabian pennisula with nuclear weapons, and some on this board wrote a comment in response to this post suggested more 21-kiloton bombs should be dropped to intimidate "Mohammed." Although it should be obvious, this would not be a good idea.

Earlier, other blog commentators and I pointed out (here) that one of the purposes of the Al Queda propaganda beheading videos was to get Americans irrational and angry so that we start making mistakes. Bombing a parking lot would probably be one of the possible mistakes.

I suggested that we should think about the beheaders more like the Jessie James gang, hiding out in some outlaw territory where locals were sympathetic to their cause, and thus more a police matter than a matter for the armed forces. To use an Old West metaphor President Bush has used himself (and thus would understand) I suggested a "possie" with a sheriff was a much better approach than bombing parking lots. It was really a matter for the local sheriffs and leading citizens, who spoke the language, understood the culture, and knew some of the characters living in the outlaw territory -- we just had to make sure they the resources they needed to go after the Jessie James gang. Their task, in turn, like an Old West possie, would be to ride into the outlaw territory and get the locals there on the side (with carrots and sticks), so that we'd learn where Jessie James and his gang of cutthroats was hiding. In Iraq, the obvious "sheriff" was the new Prime Minister, whom the militants had said they would kill.

Would the sheriff and the "possie" want to bring down a kiloton device to try to terrify the people living in the badlands? Probably not. They'd try to come up with some innovative local solutions to getting their own people to cooperate.

Well, later yesterday, it magically looked as though world leaders (or at least their public relations people) were thinking along the same lines:

Reuters today reported the ruler of Saudi Arabia has offered a one-month amnesty to militants as a carrot (with the threat of a heavy stick to follow) to help him locate the Jessie James gang.

Reuters also reported that the Iraqi PM has vowed to go after the militants who threatened to assassinate him.

These approaches might not work. However, they have a much better chance of dealing successfully with the militants that do approaches involving the dropping of bombs on parking lots. The latter approaches have zero chance of dealing effectively with the militants.

At least these made much better public relations (PR) response to the beheadings than the bombing of the parking lot. PR, unfortunately, is said to drive much decision-making these days.

Personally, I think the possie that went after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a much better cinematic metaphor for how best to deal with the militants than is the cowboy actor Slim Pickens riding down a nuclear bomb to impact in Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Other blogs covering the Kim Sun-il beheading story:
Earlier DFW Post with Additional Links   Later DFW story on airforce's bombing of the parking lot
In Search of Utopia: Well the Video Made it to the Net [Before you ask about how to find out where the video is. The South Korean government knows this is Al Queda propaganda designed to drive a wedge between the Islamic and Western worlds, and apparently tried unsuccessfully to prevent it from reaching the net in South Korea.]
My Pet Jawa: Kim Sun-il Beheading Video Released
Our Life: Kim Sun-il Beheaded
Sworn Enemy: Has al-Jazeera Found Their Conscience?
Whizbang: Seoul Blocks Beheading Video [More on unsuccessful attemps by Seoul to prevent the beheading video from being seen, along with updates on attempts by South Korean hackers to 'hack back' at Al Queda.]