Monday, April 03, 2006

Kidnapping, coercion, and mind control: Jill Carroll, and the strange case of Patty Hearst (Part I)

[Part II can be found here.]

The Jill Carroll kidnapping was dreadful from the very beginning: watching videos of the young woman, pleading and crying; imagining the emotional state of her family and friends, and most especially her parents; trying to keep out of one's mind the sad and horrific ending of so many hostages, including another journalist, Daniel Pearl.

No, it was almost unbearable to think about, and the only good thing seemed to be that, as time went on, there was at least a tiny bit of reason to believe that if her kidnappers hadn't yet killed her, perhaps she might be released or even rescued.

And then came the good--no, the wonderful!--news: Carroll had been released. Along with that news was another video, this one of the Christian Science Monitor reporter criticizing US actions in Iraq and praising her captors. The video seemed to trigger a great deal of skepticism and anger: speculation that Carroll had staged her own kidnapping, that she'd actually been an Islamist sympathizer to begin with, or that she'd succumbed to Stockholm syndrome and gone over to the dark side.

Dr. Sanity writes with great clarity about Carroll and the criticism of her, here, as does Cori Dauber, here. According to Dr. Sanity:

I am of the opinion that people who are kidnapped and held prisoner have to survive. It should be understood that they are permitted by all rational people to say whatever they need to say in order to stay alive. We should assume that anything such captives say is said under duress and they should be confident that we will understand that. Jill Carroll was under duress. Thus, I think we must not judge Jill Carroll for anything she may have said to her captors in any videotape she made with them before her release.

The same is true, I might add, about her hedginess in a video made immediately after her release, for Iraqi TV, when she had not yet been debriefed and did not feel safe.

The harsh criticism that some have leveled towards Carroll reflects two things. The first is the fact that there have been a number of kidnappings in which the hostages (mostly NGO workers from other countries) seem to have been complicit in their own abductions, as well as the fact that some journalists are sympathetic to the terrorist (or "insurgent") cause and bitterly opposed to the US actions in Iraq. So an attitude of skepticism, a sort of "co-conspirator until proven otherwise" attitude, has spring up on the part of many observers who have become cynical about these things.

The second is an older notion: people would often rather believe that they themselves would hold firm under any conditions--that they would never crack, nor would they make a video that would compromise their true beliefs.

For most people (unless they happen to be Navy Seals) this is balderdash, a form of grandiosity, and a denial of major proportions. But we all like to think we are (or would be, if given the opportunity) heroes, of the mind, spirit, and body.

The truth is that, short of undergoing special training or being an extraordinarily special person, we are all susceptible to coercion of the type Jill Carroll no doubt faced. And even if she had been treated well by her captors--as she stated in her video and the later Iraqi television interview (both of which Carroll now disavows)--the mere fact of having been kidnapped and held at the mercy of a shadowy bunch of unpredictable and violent people (after all, they had murdered her translator during the kidnapping, someone with whom she probably was fairly close) would be enough in and of itself to cause extreme psychological trauma in the average person.

This trauma can cause a host of reactions, which depend on details of the situation, the psyche of the hostage, and the techniques and goals of the kidnappers. Stockholm syndrome, for example, is a bonding with a kidnapper that at times happens naturally as a result of the hostage situation itself, and the almost childlike state of dependency it can engender in the hostage, who becomes grateful at not having been treated even worse. Then there is simple coercion: kidnappers who force the hostage to do or say certain things with the threat of physical punishment (or even death) for failure to cooperate.

By far the most comprehensive process is brainwashing, in which there is a systematic attempt by the kidnapper (or jailer, in a prisoner of war camp) to restructure the belief system of the captive and spark a political and social conversion towards the mindset of the enemy.

From the information we have so far, according to Carroll's own statements, it seems that it was the second process, that of coercion, most likely to have been operating in her case:

The night before journalist Jill Carroll's release, her captors said they had one final demand as the price of her freedom: She would have to make a video praising her captors and attacking the United States, according to Jim Carroll.

In a long phone conversation with his daughter on Friday, Mr. Carroll says that Jill was "under her captor's control."

Ms. Carroll had been their captive for three months and even the smallest details of her life - what she ate and when, what she wore, when she could speak - were at her captors' whim. They had murdered her friend and colleague Allan Enwiya, "she had been taught to fear them," he says. And before making one last video the day before her release, she was told that they had already killed another American hostage.

That video appeared Thursday on a jihadist website that carries videos of beheadings and attacks on American forces. In it, Carroll told her father she felt compelled to make statements strongly critical of President Bush and his policy in Iraq.

Of course, we may never know Carroll's true feelings in the matter, but I see no reason not to give her the benefit of the doubt and accept her words at face value, since they were recanted relatively quickly. And the truth is that, although we may not like to admit it, the vast majority of people would probably have done the same, knowing that once they were freed they could tell the truth.

A personal note: these issues have always been of great interest to me. Even as a child--through old World War II films? rumors of things that had happened during the Korean War? learning about concentration camps at a young age?--I had a fascination with people's ability to withstand psychological and physical duress and even torture.

In fact, as a very young child, perhaps ten years old or so, I actually purchased a book called The Rape of the Mind: the psychology of thought control, menticide, and brainwashing (yes indeed, I was a strange child; what can I say?). Aside from serving as fodder for many of my Cold War nightmares, it didn't give me what I was searching for: a foolproof method for resistance if I happened to end up in a prisoner of war camp. But in its detailed descriptions of the sort of pressure that could be brought to bear to make even the strongest of men crack, it gave me a lifelong appreciation of the power of coercion.

That same appreciation was operating in my reaction to what was arguably the most famous political kidnapping/coercion case of the twentieth century. I refer, of course, to the saga of Patty Hearst.

To those of you were weren't alive then, and who perhaps have only a glancing familiarity with the case, it's hard to convey just how very famous Patty Hearst became, and what a deep effect her story had on the American psyche of the time. OJ was nothing compared to Patty; her story became a lightning rod for much of the anger, confusion, and cross-generational enmity that was roiling around in those years.

The basic facts are these: Patty Hearst was a 19-year-old Berkeley student and heiress to the Hearst fortune when gunmen broke into her apartment, beat her boyfriend severely, and kidnapped her in February of 1974. Sympathy was high for the fragile-looking and pretty young girl, and for her suffering parents, who distributed six million dollars of food to the poor at the request of her kidnappers in a vain attempt to gain her release.

There were no 24-hour cable news networks at the time, but coverage was heavy and the story saturated the airways and the press. A special feature that drew much attention was the release of many audiotapes featuring Patty repeating the terrorists' demands; we all grew familiar with her eerily calm and relatively affectless voice.

But the nation was stunned, and sympathy for Patty quickly evaporated (although sympathy for her parents increased, if anything) when she was photographed during a bank robbery, holding a gun and looking tough:

The shocks kept coming. A further tape featured Patty saying:

that she and her "comrades" had robbed the bank. "My gun was loaded," she claimed, "and at no time did any of my comrades intentionally point their guns at me." Their actions were justified to finance "the revolution." She called her parents "pigs," dismissed her fiancé, and then said, "As for being brainwashed, the idea is ridiculous to the point of being beyond belief." She ended by declaring that "I am a soldier of the people's army."

I wish I could offer a link to an actual recording of her voice, because I'm convinced that something about it--a certain snotty casualness, a cadence of disdain, an almost Valley Girl emptiness--caused people's blood to boil on hearing it. And then, later, still another tape was released, in which Hearst declared:

I've been given the choice of one, being released in a safe area, or two, joining forces with the Symbionese Liberation Army and fighting for my freedom and the freedom of all oppressed people. I have chosen to stay and fight.

The rhetoric was perfect, and it was utterly convincing. Patty took the revolutionary name "Tania," (after a female associate of Che Guevara's--good old Che, he's always in the picture) and posed wearing a fetching beret, looking very thin. It was one of the first examples of radical chic I ever saw:

The reaction to the robbery, the photos, and Patty's declaration was electric. Hatred for her grew, even among those who'd been predisposed to sympathize before. As for me, I didn't know what to believe about her sincerity. But--perhaps because of my background in reading about brainwashing and thought control--I thought the most likely explanation was that some sort of process of coercion had gone on. After all, she'd been an impressionable young girl, not even out of her teens, subjected to a horrific experience and under the total control of people who were both extraordinarily violent and politically inclined. Why would they not have made every effort to brainwash her, and what possible strength could she have drawn on that would have enabled her to successfully resist?

But when I tried to argue that these things were even a possibility I was shouted down. I seemed to be in an extreme minority. I vividly recall attending a dinner with my parents and about four other couples who were their friends--liberal Democrats all, people with children roughly around the age of Patty Hearst. I'd known all these people my entire life and had never had a political argument or even a disagreement with them, and they'd always seemed to be relatively mild-mannered. Several of them were in the field of social work, a profession that one might think would predispose them towards sympathy for Patty's plight.

But no. In fact, the topic of Patty brought out a surprising rage in them. If Patty were ever to be captured, she should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There was absolutely no possibility, they screamed at me, that she hadn't done all of this of her own free will, and there should be no excuses made. I was a gullible fool.

It seemed to me that all the frustrations of parents of the 60s and early 70s towards the excesses of their offspring--the long hair and the pot-smoking and the open sexuality and the music and the refusal to follow in those parents' footsteps and become doctors and lawyers and upstanding community members; the turning on and the dropping out and the living on the hippie communes, as one of my cousins had done (although her parents didn't even know it was actually a naked hippie commune)--everything these parents had been swallowing, all the rage and confusion and hurt they hadn't fully expressed towards their ungrateful children, was coming out in one great big rush at Patty Hearst, who symbolized it all.

I decided to wait and reserve judgment. As it turned out, I had a long time to wait.

[To be continued in Part II, tomorrow....]


At 3:36 PM, April 03, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

This is shaping up to be a good piece. I may comment when your cards are all out there.

The main milestone to me in any discussion of '50's '60's mind control is 1984. Room 101. "He loved Big Brother."

I did not judge Carroll. The majority of those who did, one way or the other, are paid journalists who are expected to pop off whenever anything happens. Generally speaking, you should always allow a few days to pass when something happens in order to define it precisely.

I didn't judge Patty Hearst too hard either, but later on that ....

One thing I would say is that most people make such a big deal about free will, and choice, and their "own" "individuality". My experience however is that people are infinitely malleable, and claims for autonomy and objectivity are often over-blown. Human beings are SOCIAL. That means that our default setting is to simply adopt the values, culture, and outlook of any group we are put into. It would take a tremendous amount of self-control and maybe even a suicidal impulse to do otherwise.

At 4:08 PM, April 03, 2006, Anonymous armchair pessimist said...

Neo, where do you come down on the infamous Stalinist Show Trials of the 1930s, in which the highest members of the Soviet Government confessed to the absurdist, most impossible, crimes? Torture? Brain washing? Truly f-ed up loyalty to the Party? All of the above?

At 4:09 PM, April 03, 2006, Anonymous colagirl said...

Great post, neoneo! I've always found the process of capture-bonding and/or Stockholm syndrome to be a fascinating one, and like you, I tried not to rush to judgement on Jill Carroll, although (as you pointed out) there have been some precedents with similar kidnap victims that make it not so far out there that she could have meant what she said. Steve, interesting comments also. I pretty much agree with what you're saying--human beings are social primates, and one of the concomitants of this is a tendency to want to blend in with the group. (Not to say that everybody shares this tendency to the same degree, that it cannot be fought, or indeed, that this is always a good thing).

I can't wait for your post tomorrow, neoneo!

At 4:16 PM, April 03, 2006, Anonymous colagirl said...

oh, armchair pessimist--just saw your post. I would *personally* guess "all of the above," but I'm interested to hear what neoneo has to say. I don't know if anyone's ever read Jung Chang's Wild Swans, she talks about something similar--her parents were branded counterrevolutionaries during China's Cultural Revolution, and at first it was extremely hard for them (especially her father) to fight this because they had been conditioned for so long to believe the Party was good, because they had been used to accepting such thorough control and scrutiny of their lives to ensure that they were meeting revolutionary standards, and because they (especially her father) had had such hard lives before and had really believed, or wanted to believe, that the party could make things better.

At 4:41 PM, April 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Jill Carrol didn't retract what she said, she only said that she was treated not in the manner that she said on the video. She doesn't like being a hostage, obviously, and nor does she like her captors, but that doesn't mean she has repudiated and is now saying the opposite of what she said on the video. Video

She has made no counter-propaganda video to refute her previous testimony, or to make fools out of the terroists, to taunt them, or whatever. Although she is free to do so in the future.

The impact of the video is widespread. It shows the power of hostage taking, ala Iran. It shows how to manipulate a person's belief in self-survival as opposed to martyr for Allah, to the advantage of Islam. It shows many such things that raises the morale of terroists and decrease the morale of allied forces. If SF had rescued her, that would have been different. Her captors, however, were smart enough to realize that showing fake mercy by releasing her when her worth was used up, was more beneficial propaganda wise than killing her or waiting until she was rescued.

All in all, it's a wash and a victory for the terroists. Whether people die or they live, it all fits into the terroist game plan. This will convince many people of who is really winning.

I caught onto the jihadist plan awhile ago about these hostage taking tactics. The reality tv of Islam.

Either Jill would be killed after her use was over on tv, or she wouldn't be. Those were the two endings available, so I neither felt elated nor disappointed when she was released. It was half expected. It isn't wise to form emotional connections to hostages the Islamics take. Families can't help it, but emotional connections only make you vulnerable to their techniques.

The video was a high mark however for the terroists. Because believe it or not, Jill, because she isn't weeping or out of control like the other hostage women we've seen, is actually rather more convincing to the target audience. The less signs of duress, the better.

It remains to be seen what she will say, if anything, after her debriefing.

They are becoming more and more sophisticated. Other people might be demoralized by the simple expedient of seeing Jill Carrol on tv, but that's not the case with me. As I look at the whole war and at how their strategies change, there is doubt. Doubt does not raise my morale.

Jaffari was never a pro-American. He is more Russian than that, because after the failed coup he sought aid from Russia and not America. From a story I read that a reporter did in Iraq, Jaffari never did have any kind words about Americans. Probably one reason why the Kurds and the Shia don't work with him. His alliance with Al Sadr, is rather troublesome. And perhaps he sees it as a way to balance against the Sunnis and balance against the Kurds who back America. His realpolitek should not be rewarded.

It's all of a set piece. The political landscape and the military battlespace is warping in Iraq. And I wonder whether the US can adapt and choose wise choices, given their apparently inadequate handling of the hostage situation.

It does not look good to see Americans saving foreigners who are aiding and abetting the enemy, and not Iraqi patriots. It looks even worse to understand that Americans will save foreigners, but are unable or unwilling to save Americans. That is the hidden message among these two recent hostage situations.

In some ways, Al Qaeda's execution style hostage taking was counter-productive. Therefore while death may be feared, there was no real fear that this would win them any real allies. This cannot be said for the Jaffari-Al Sadr wing, however.

Patty Hearst is a good example of what can be achieved for your Ideological Crusade, by co-opting people through whatever means necessary, rather than killing them. The Sunnis are not winning because their allies kill anyone they can get. Iran and Sadr have a much higher chance to win in Iraq because by keeping their true face under the hood, they have somehow convinced AMerica not to kill Sadr.

It's bigger than Jill Carroll. Zarqawi is fading away, to be replaced by the politicians. This might bring more security, but if it is at the cost of bringing into effect a Sadr backed Jaffari, I tend to think that we lost more than we gained. After all, our real goal has to be security or democracy, it cannot be both.

I don't expect anything good to come out of Jill Carroll or the other group of rescued hostages. In that sense I am very negative. Because I've learned not to expect too much from our side in our ability to defend against the expertly wielded scapels of Islamic Terror. Rumsfield can keep talking about the enemy's superior information systems and knowledge, but so far nothing has really changed. I have no doubt the terroists are just as demoralized, except however the terroists's shame makes them fight harder. Our shame makes us stop fighting. That's the big difference in the end, that might tilt the balance. This is brought even more into context because I'm reading Turtledove's WorldWar, series. There is such a thing as Too much history.

Personally, I found Jill Carroll very convincing. She is either a very good actor or she really did mean most of what she said. I can't refine it down any further simply because, I don't know how she usually acts. As the FBI interrogator said, you can tell if someone is lying if their body gestures and facial motions are inconsistent with the normal ones they would have made if they were telling the truth.

The personal touches, like the little laugh immediately after the mention of Bush, was a nice touch. There were no signs or twitchings of the eye to show that she might have been under duress, no consistent hand gestures that we could use to tell what is the truth from what is a lie. I didn't see any of that. She didn't look tired, which would have happened had they made her run through it 5 to 10 to 15 times because they didn't like what she was doing on screen.

At 5:00 PM, April 03, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Ymarsakar, you make some interesting points about Carroll's demeanor.

I think it's too early to tell. Her behavior in the next couple of months will be much more indicative of her true state of mind. Already, though, she has stated not only that she wasn't treated well, but that she was forced to criticize the government under duress. No, she hasn't issued a ringing statement of support for Bush, but that's not to be expected; my guess is that she probably is not a supporter of his policies (most journalists aren't, after all). That doesn't change the fact that her statements were most likely coerced, and that she would never have spoken out in that fashion if she hadn't been coerced.

It wouldn't surprise me if she never makes a corrective video. I would imagine it will take her a long time to decompress and feel safe, and that she doesn't want any more of the spotlight on herself--especially not in the sense of taunting her captors.

So you are correct--the propaganda aspects of the video are a plus to the kidnappers, even if she disavows it. Unfortunately, to make any sort of real difference in countering that propaganda advantage, another video of Ms. Carroll contradicting what she had said in no uncertain terms would have to be hugely promoted all over the globe by the media (something unlikely to happen, even in the already unlikely event that she would make such a video). So, it's win-win for the terrorists.

At 5:22 PM, April 03, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

Neo - can't wait to read Part II. Food for thought, as usual.

Don't expect Jill Carroll to issue a video. She's a writer. If she explains herself, it'll be in an exclusive story for CSM or some other journal. Wouldn't be surprised if she's already been offered a book deal. Good for her, too.

Now if only she could set aside her journalistic integrity for a bit and help the spooks locate her kidnappers...

At 5:45 PM, April 03, 2006, Blogger Jen Bradford said...

I don't have the tech skills to provide a link, but I believe there's a clip of that Patty Hearst message in the blurb for the PBS "American Experience" on the Hearst kidnapping. Available via iTunes.

It sounds as though some commenters haven't read Jill Carroll's statement published in the CSM.

Most of us have heard the anti-Bush, anti-war rant so many times, I don't think great acting skills would be required to play that part, down to the titter. From everything I've read, Ms. Carroll is sharp as a tack, and wouldn't have needed help with that.

At 6:08 PM, April 03, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

In broadcasting Jill Carroll's interview with the Iraqi Islamic Party, CNN failed the context test. Everyone watching CNN must have concluded - as I did - this was Jill Carroll's first interview after being rescued. I'm almost certain CNN introduced the video with words to that effect.

Lorie Byrd of Polipundit said this:
"I watched quite a few television news reports of the Carroll release and in all those I watched, it was either stated or implied that the interview aired was made after her release, and there was absolutely no statement by any of the anchors introducing the piece to indicate there was any suspicion that it was made under duress. Now I am wondering why the initial interview was reported as it was. Were all the journalists duped by the propaganda piece?"

Without introducing the interview video inside a proper context (Ms. Carroll did not yet believe she was in safe hands, and was being very circumspect in her answers and her demeanor), CNN effectively misled their viewers. Shoddy journalism. Very. It misrepresented the context of the interview by 180 degrees.

I've much experience with sales negotiations. I've much experience looking straight into people's eyes as they shift their eyes, and then lie to me. When I saw Jill Carroll's interview, and believed it was her first interview after gaining her freedom, one word came strongly to mind: "Liar." It was clear, to me, she was being deceptive in her answers to her interviewer. I could think of no reason for this. Further, she showed no visible signs of relief at the end of a difficult ordeal. I suspect this is why there was a sudden rush of speculation that she had faked her own kidnapping. She was deceiving her interviewer, and her demeanor was unlike any rescued hostage us normal Americans had ever seen. AND IT WAS CNN'S FAULT, for giving the out of context video big play on their network. Now there is criticism of "knee jerk" bloggers springing up in many places. To my mind, CNN should receive that criticism, and should be issuing apologies to Ms. Carroll, and to their viewers.

It seems as though every time the MSM misleads the public, it does so in a fashion which is favorable to the murderers and insurgents - as it was in this case, in which Jill Carroll's video praise of her captors was given big play by CNN outlets all over the world. Now that Ms. Carroll has issued a statement saying her captors terrorized her with repeated threats, I doubt CNN will make the necessary effort to fully correct the mistaken impression they have created all over the world. By not making the effort necessary to reverse that mistaken impression, CNN is effectively working for the murderous insurgent cause, and against the American/British/Iraqi cause. CNN is on the other side. There is a long list of reasons to believe they are happy to be on the other side - as long as being there appears to damage President Bush.

We ought - every one of us, be disgusted.

At 6:32 PM, April 03, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Something else: we have no proof - other then her word of honor, that Jill Carroll was kidnapped. I believe she ought to get the benefit of the doubt - and I definitely give her the benefit of the doubt. I believe the odds are slim that she deceived the world. However, that doesn't mean I dismiss those slim odds - unless and until I see evidence which goes beyond her account of her imprisonment. She gets the benefit of the doubt, and I wish her the best. But the question is not definitively settled.

Something else #2:
This is a minor thing, and maybe this is what you meant when you mentioned the Navy Seals, but we should mention that a Navy Seal has never been captured by any enemy. This is a testament to the Seals' skill and effectiveness; and to their courage as warriors(to fight to the death on the few occasions they have been hopelessly surrounded). It is also a testament to the Seals' acknowledgment that no one - not even a Navy Seal - can be counted on to bear up under severe interrogation. In refusing to be taken prisoner, brave Navy Seals who gave their lives in action were testifying to this truth.

At 6:45 PM, April 03, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Something else #3:

Consider Navy Seals - who are willing to fight to the death, rather than take a chance on revealing sensitive information to America's enemies. Then consider CNN - which willingly aids America's enemies - as long as doing so appears to make President Bush look bad.

CNN is absolutely disgusting. Many Americans know enough about CNN to know that CNN is disgusting - yet those Americans have not the moral confidence to stand up and speak the truth. Stand up! Stand up and speak the truth! Doing so is more important than you know...

Winston Churchill:
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."

Winston Churchill:
"These are not dark days: these are great days - the greatest days our country has ever lived."

At 10:06 PM, April 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I'm not asking for an endorsement of Bush. What I'm interested in is counter-propaganda, to offset the propaganda the terroists made use of with her cooperation, coerced or not. An endorsement of Bush would actually make it less effective. All she has to say, really, is that she lied and nothing she said on that video was the truth. Or pick out specific statements and say that the terroists forced her to say them. To be clear, I don't expect an endorsement of Bush. This isn't a partisan agenda, few effective propaganda techniques are limited purely on partisan basis.

My analysis is the same as yours, that she would probably not be stable for at least 6 months while getting her life back in order. If she was in military intel, trained in psychological war, I might recommend that she hit back at her captors as therapy, but I don't know how strong she really is. Pushing a blade that you are unsure as to the strength of, might break it. I still recommend it however, I just don't think it would work.

There's a certain predator view, Type A personality, alpha male aggressiveness required for that kind of action. A vindictive trait, a killer mentality. Few people have it, and the people who do, don't get kidnapped in the first place. Which is probably wise of the terroists, if they want to delay their meeting with Allah a bit.

People who get to pick the targets, are always at an advantage.

I've been thinking of solutions to these hostage situations and in the greater part, to Islamic and ME criminals preying on weaklings. The only solutions I've acquired were to take those insurgents and militia we captured, and hold them hostage. Islamics kidnap one foreigner, that equals to 10 insurgents held hostage. Islamics kidnap an American, 100 insurgents would be rendered inactive if the American is not returned. The Islamic culture has been using hostages for centuries, ever since the Crusades and Saladin. It's a policy they understand, but not one we indulge in. A typical situation would have us having all these people under threat of execution, and we would get the support of all the tribesmen related to those we hold hostage. All those tribesmen would be working their arse off trying to get the Western hostage released.

Legally, Jaffari is going to interfere, and that's a problem the US created so I ain't even getting into that part.

In usual counter-guerrila war actions, the worst thing you could do would be to do the 10 for 1 ratio. Let's say, 1 soldier of ours die, 10 villagers die in return. That never works. And the reason why it doesn't work, is because the force applied is too straight for asymmetrical warfare. Retributions always promote more guerrila insurgency support, not less. One reason why Al Qaeda executing everyone, tends to piss off the Sunnis and the Shia AND the Kurds all at once. Not a way to win political alliances.

The difference here is that my plan applies force in an asymmetrical manner. The oblique approach. Rather than picking people off at random in the streets, we take the people actively fighting us, and turn their allegiances to our use. This won't deter or persuade the hard liners like Zarqawi, but it would definitely reduce the great majority of kidnappings. Kidnappings done for criminal gain for example. As people see our efforts bringing them security, they will bring in more tips, there will be more infiltration of the kidnapping ring, and good stuff will happen.

The other demonstration I had in mind, would be 1 v 1 deathmatch combat with hand to hand. Get an American champion and hardline criminals, and let the entire city of Baghdad witness the fighting. Everybody likes a good fight. They will be quite impressed and awed by the personal strength, agility, and lethality of our best hand to hand soldiers. This is real Shock and Awe, not the fake air war kind. Then youd bring in about a platoon of Abrams tanks, a couple of squadrons or whatever of Apachees to circle the area, and you'd got a very good show of force and security. The amount of intelligence troops need to fight a counter-insurgency is directly proportional to the amount of trust the locals have in our ability to protect them, uphold our promises, and do what needs to be done about their enemies. Releasing criminals from Abu Ghraib into the Mosul streets is not a good idea.

American popularity would soar about 20% if we showed Saddam getting executed (literally) by an American. After the trial of course. Better yet, we show an Iraqi the American trained, breaking Saddam's neck. That would do more for the war effort than 5 more divisions of troops in Iraq.

All those jihadists who blew up little children in the streets, will be shown as they are shown on Iraqi television confessing to their crimes, fighting to the death against Americans mano on mano. They will be severely outclassed. If you want to up the humiliation, find a woman to fight the Iraqis.

The "insurgents" are lucky people like me ain't running the US government. Cause I'd take the gloves off personally in dealing with them. Bush is sweet, okay. They're not the only people who know how to put the world wide audience into a circus wringer. I can just see it now. Americans with big stereo systems screaming at a jihadi to hit a young Iraqi child, then have the Iraqi down on the ground in a flash by American defending the child. Catch 22. Either you die fighting Americans, or you get to live a little longer if you try and hit the child. (if you hit the child, you'll live) One of the reason why people don't come up with creative punishments for prisoners is because they don't want the world hating them or the enemy torturing American prisoners in return. Except... the world and the terroists already do that.. so, what do we have to lose? It is as the fake liberals keep talking about Palestine, they use suicide bombings because they got nothing to lose... Okay. We'll use that logic too. Diplomacy is about talking in the other guy's language, not teaching him your own. I think one of the reasons diplomacy doesn't work in the 21st century is because the West thinks everybody speaks Spanish, English, German, and French. They don't. The Middle East and the Russians speak something called "ruthlessness". Better learn it if you seek to initiate diplomatic protocols.

Pride, face, honor, prowess, those are the things valued in a barbarian society such as the tribal ones of Afghanistan and Iraq. They respect nothing but force. But not technological force, that is associated with the Great Satans. Show them real force, man to man, woman to man. Hand to hand, with no advanced weapons. Criminals have the logic that if they kill you, then it was your fault for not doing as you are told. Criminals in Iraq, should understand that logic quite well if we use it on them.

But Bush won't kill anyone, so the terroists are free for another 2 years. I wonder what they will come up in that time. And how much it will hurt. I'm one of the few who actually understand why Bush's approval ratings are so low. He's like doing nothing, including not even spinning, things about the hostage situation. And we're like, I thought we were on the offensive? Isn't that the whole party line, it's better to fight them in Iraq than fight them here, so what's up with the silence?

The Catch 22 the kidnappers created, is good. If it works. Win-Win. Propaganda wars suck, cause it's either lose-lose or win-win. There's no ceasefire and no peace treaty at all. Personally, I don't worry about CNN. CNN is playing defensive, if Bush ever did a propaganda offensive to the max, CNN would be left in the dust choking on reality. Or illusion, whatever.

One of the reasons why SEALS are hard to take prisoner is because they don't surrender. Especially, not to jihadists. Any military guy seeing Somalia, knows what'll happen. And it's only people in Supply Convoys like Jessica Lynch, in the beginning of Iraq War that don't know. They do now though, nobody's going to be capturing any American soldier in a supply convoy or medical convoy or MP police convoy. I also think the SEAL's escape and evasion training is pretty good. In rough terrain, they have a good chance of losing their pursuers. One guy escaped that ambush in Pakistan for example.

It's well known by interrogators that with enough time and efforts, any man can spill anything eventually. It might take years, but soldiers are not robots, and a good thing they aren't.

CNN ain't too bad. AP is worse. AP ain't even America. The reason why CNN is bad is because CNN is nothing but an AP branch. Every "wire" story I see, is part of the AP. I'm like, what the heck is this, the Illuminati conspiracy?

At 10:49 PM, April 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Video interview with Noam Chomsky here:

suck it down and suck it down again.

At 11:22 PM, April 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hundreds of thousands of obese U.S. children cannot fit into car seats, leaving them at risk in the event of a crash, researchers said on Monday.

At 11:28 PM, April 03, 2006, Anonymous Bookworm said...

Excellent post. I look forward to the next part. I remember the kidnapping vividly, since it took place in my neck of the woods. Since I was raised on the Holocaust (every bit as macabre as the brainwashing upbringing), I had no difficulty believing that she'd been coerced. I knew enough about the tortures that people could endure -- and that they couldn't endure -- to believe that anyway could be broken and swayed.

At 5:08 AM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Timothy said...

Good post. I figured you of all people would understand Stockholm syndrome. The piling on has been, well, pretty stupid.

As to the SEALS comment:
The military has something called SERE, Survival Escape Resistance and Evasion. It's not a picnic...I know a few people that have done the training. The details are classified (so they didn't tell me ) but the point of it is not. The point is that everyone breaks eventually. Everyone.

Seems like you are ready to rock and roll in Iraq. What's stopping you?

At 6:30 AM, April 04, 2006, Anonymous goesh said...

We all would last about 30 seconds and we would be calling our mothers whores if that's what they wanted rather than to star in a beheading video. Ignorant people who wave their arms in the air and burn American and Israeli flags and want to kill someone for converting to Christianity believe everything they see on these tapes. Why wouldn't they? First it shows that radical islam has prevailed and an infidel is being made to mind. Secondly, it demonstrates the power of their cause and their fighters, that they can capture infidels right under the noses of the American soliders. It shows how weak we are, in their minds. It is also a morale boost for the fighters to be able to taunt a helpless captive. They most likely stripped her and humiliated her, she may have been raped. They are smart to kidnap a woman - odds are she won't disclose all that really happened to her and thus in the eyes of the Left, an impression is left that they aren't complete monsters, just insurgents, desperate to get rid of Imperialistic Americans out for their oil. They can always count on an intellectual reaction from us rather than an emotive response. The sophisticated commanders are enjoying our response more than the captivity - we are after all, totally predictable.

At 8:55 AM, April 04, 2006, Anonymous Andrew Zalotocky said...

Neo, I'm sure the voice you describe was an important factor in making her so hated. The modern equivalent would be the insufferably self-righteous anti-war protesters who scream about peace and justice without ever acknowledging that they would have kept Saddam in power. I'm not suggesting that all opponents of the Iraq war were like that. But some were, and it was repugnant because they were treating a grave issue with a total lack of moral seriousness. The idiots marching around with silly costumes and giant puppets were treating matters of life and death like a carnival. It wasn't the banality of evil but a frivolity towards it, which is so deeply offensive because it suggests that other people's suffering isn't worth taking seriously, whether it's the oppressed in Iraq or citizens threatened with murder during a bank robbery. To hear that attitude expressed in the voice of a spoilt, vapid heiress, with all its sense of entitlement, must have been absolutely insufferable.

At 9:46 AM, April 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comments on this blog -- particularly those from one long-winded paranoid boastful blowhard -- do not measure up to the excellence of the posts.

In fact their stupidity detracts from your thoughtful posts by showing people at their worst.

At 10:53 AM, April 04, 2006, Anonymous Tom said...

Please publish a list of journalists who are, in your opinion, "sympathetic to the terrorist (or "insurgent") cause." I've been watching the media coverage of the war on terror, and while an argument can be made that there are journalists who oppose the way the Bush administration is fighting the war, I can't htink of a single moment when I thought a journalist might be "sympathetic" to the cause of blowing up planeloads of innocent people.

Since it's so obvious to you, perhaps you could help the rest of us by putting together a list of "sympathetic" journalists.

Or maybe you'd like to dial back the incendiary rhetoric just a bit. Just because people think that President Bush isn't perfect doesn't mean they're rooting for the other side.

At 11:07 AM, April 04, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Tom: I was actually referring to foreign journalists from leftist publications. Some of the early captives were of that ilk. I was not referring to our own press.

At 11:35 AM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Anon 11:49
"Video interview with Noam Chomsky here:

suck it down and suck it down again."

That is parody, isn't it? Isn't it Anon?

At 12:58 PM, April 04, 2006, Anonymous SB said...

Any others?

At 2:19 PM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Fate, Timothy, fate. Circumstances which are hard to control, that's what's stopping me.

SERE is classified, and for good reason. Cause I think it would be labeled "torture" if the public knew what went on in there. I'm sure if we ever can regrow limbs at a cost effective means, they'll be hacking people's arms off in there as part of the training. Since it won't be a "permanent" medical damage.

The only thing the Special Forces operators say when asked about it from what I've seen, is that they get this "look" on their faces and they're busy finding words to describe it. It's been seared into their minds, they might say.


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