A Government Agent on Every Corner

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Recently by Simon Black: The Canary in the Coal Mine Is in Southeast Asia


US General George S. Patton is often credited with saying “No poor bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.” Perhaps Patton was correct. But a lot of poor bastards had a significant impact on security policies by blowing themselves up for their cause.

Yesterday’s suicide attack at Domodedovo airport in Moscow was another stark reminder that there are people in this world who have (a) extreme commitment to their cause; (b) the will to die for their beliefs; and (c) the twisted moral compass to justify the deaths of others as necessary and legitimate.

These three ingredients are a dangerous combination, and unfortunately they exist in mass quantities among fanatics who have lost sight of their humanity.

I don’t want to get into the chicken or egg argument right now about whether such fanaticism would exist without authoritarian, imperialistic arrogance on the part of major world governments… but suffice it to say that, with each attack on civilian targets, governments step up their military/police efforts in the u201Cwar on terror.u201D

It’s interesting how government defense planners always seem to be training their troops to fight the last war. For example, the WW2-style training in the US that lasted for decades which prepared troops to fight against Soviet forces proved largely irrelevant in the jungle warfare environment of Vietnam, or the desert in Kuwait.

Subsequent jungle warfare and traditional desert warfare training proved largely irrelevant in the 1990s peacekeeping operations in the Balkans, and training for peacekeeping operations proved largely irrelevant for Iraq’s counterinsurgency operations.

As the military now focuses its training on preparing troops for yesterday’s counterinsurgency operations, I suspect defense planners are largely ignoring tomorrow’s threats, like cyber- and economic warfare.

Similarly, every time there is an attack on civilian targets, governments come out in force against the threat. When someone tries to explode his shoe, everyone has to take his/her shoes off. When someone tries to explode his underwear, everyone has to go through a body scanner.

The Russian bombing yesterday proved that these reactive tactics are completely ineffective, akin to training to fight the last war.

Soft targets are everywhere, and if government agencies make it too difficult to blow up a plane, attackers will blow up the airport. If they can’t blow up an airport, they’ll blow up a bus station… sports stadium… grocery store… you name it.

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