Shucks and Awe

Okay, so they went through with it. I do think they were hoping to kill or frighten Saddam into submission without wasting all of this ordinance, but here’s what happens when you go to war.

Interestingly, they’re making their bet on the presumption that Iraq is a truly top-down society. They’re not working on revolution; everyone’s just hiding in their cellars about now, anyway. What they’re going for is decapitation – attack the leadership, create disarray, and see if the generals don’t freak out and force their boss to leave or surrender.

It seems the attacks – even the shock and awe attacks – are pretty well targeted. The whole first wave of this genuine, full-fledged assault, has been directed entirely at non-civilian facilities. The lights are still on, and the water is still running – as if this targeting will convince the Iraqi people that America really is their friend.

What I don’t know is if the administration understands the way this culture works. Back in WWII, FDR had the bright idea of assasinating the Emperor of Japan. It was none other than Margaret Meade who called him up to tell him that if you kill the Emperor, Japan has no way of surrendering. The people would have fought to the death, forever. (Unfortunately, this led to the strategy of shaming the Emperor by killing hundreds of thousands of people with an A-bomb.)

The other thing that’s interesting to me, today, is the way that war expectations change in a 24-hour cable news environment. Like things are supposed to happen all the time – and that the Pentagon must deliver tidbits of progress lest they lose the interest – and support – of the viewing audience.