Sunday, November 25, 2007

Making ends meet

Politicians the world over like to kiss babies. That's the trouble.

Meanwhile, horrifying new details emerged last night of the attempt by suicide bombers to kill Ms Bhutto on her return home from exile last month. Investigators from Ms Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party said yesterday they believed the bomb, which killed 170 people and left hundreds more wounded, was strapped to a one-year-old child carried by its jihadist father.



They said the suicide bomber tried repeatedly to carry the baby to Ms Bhutto's vehicle as she drove in a late-night cavalcade through the streets of Karachi.

"At the point where the bombs exploded, Benazir Bhutto herself saw the man with the child and asked him to come closer so that she could hug or kiss the infant," investigators were reported as saying. "But someone came in between and a guard felt that the man with the child was not behaving normally. So the child was not allowed to come aboard Benazir's vehicle."

Ms Bhutto is said to have told investigators she recalls the face of the man who was carrying the infant. She has asked to see recordings made by television news channels to try to identify the man.

Now here's the rest of the story. After the infant story the remainder of the tale reads like a non-sequitur or a chapter from a totally different book. But it's the same book; in fact, from the same chapter.

Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf rushed to Riyadh for crisis talks with his Saudi royal family benefactors yesterday as his emergency rule came under threat from caretaker officials ordering the release of thousands of detained political workers and lawyers.

The officials, appointed to run the country's national and provincial governments ahead of elections scheduled for January 8, were expected to do no more than maintain the status quo until the poll.

But last night, led by interim prime minister Mohammedmian Soomro, their first action involved ordering the immediate release of thousands detained in the security crackdown that followed the declaration of the state of emergency on November 3.

In an interview, Mr Soomro said he had issued instructions to release "recently arrested" political leaders and workers, lawyers and journalists and that the process was under way. He insisted "the elections will be the most transparent and fairest in the country's history".

Counterinsurgency in Pakistan -- and maybe in Iraq as well among other countries -- may consist in making deals with some bad guys in order to fight the badder guys. Maybe diplomats should quit reading Foreign Affairs and start surfing Gangwar.com or peruse Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency, from the Army Stratgic Studies Instute. Recently the BBC ran a breathless article entitled "Boston Miracle inspires UK's gang fight". Look closely at what strategy the police employed to cut down gang violence in the Hub.

Scotland Yard's latest initiative to deal with youth gun crime is modelled on a successful gang-busting initiative in the US.

Within two years of implementing Operation Ceasefire in 1995, Boston had reclaimed the streets from the gangs. The Boston Miracle, as it is known, reduced violent crime by about 50% in two years. ...

Launched in 1996, Operation Ceasefire was a city-wide strategy aimed at deterring youth and gang firearm violence.

Gang members were invited to meetings with police and church leaders where they were told things had to change. Those who chose to change their ways were offered jobs, counselling and other forms of support to get their life back on track.

Those who ignored the tough new stance were threatened with longer, harsher sentences in federal prisons. And it was no empty threat. Gang member Freddy Cordoza received more than 19 years in jail for possessing a single bullet.

As I've written elsewhere the process of "reconciliation" doesn't mean mindlessly making nice to everybody -- as some well-meaning persons seem to think -- it means making nice "on average". But the process is also accompanied by an increase in the contrast in treatment between two populations; being a lot nicer to the cooperative and the innocent but also being a lot tougher on the bad guys. While the average "niceness" improves greatly, the distribution of niceness is altered drastically as well. The Boston police were essentially running a "divide and conquer" operation on the street gang scene so that they could isolate and destroy the hardest core enemies. The logic behind the maxim "no better friend, no worse enemy" is that ultimately there can be only dominant coalition in society.

I wonder how many promoters of "reconciliation" believe the "healing process" actually consists of destroying the contrast between the innocent and the guilty; treating people who wire up their infant children as bombs in the same way as legitimate oppositionists to Musharraf. Finding the man who tried to bring a baby-bomb to Benazir Bhutto belongs in the same chapter as releasing oppositionists. But as in a real book the the fate of the chapter characters must vary. Knowing who to release, who to make nice to and who to hunt down is essential. That's why good intelligence is the key enabler of successful counterinsurgency.

11 Comments:

Blogger eggplant said...

Wretchard said:

"they believed the bomb, which killed 170 people and left hundreds more wounded, was strapped to a one-year-old child carried by its jihadist father."

Wow...

Once again we are reminded of the enemy's nature. What do they hope to achieve using such tactics?

No doubt during the victory sermon, the chief mullah commented on how a father willingly suicided with his innocent child for the greater glory of Allah.

The sychophants then politely appauld and chant "Allah Akbar" while thinking to themselves, "What a stupid evil bastard..."

11/25/2007 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Where's the mother of the infant and the wife of the husband? She couldn't report to someone ahead of time what was going on? Or is she a willing co-conspirator, spurting out babies on demand to act as bomb cozies.

Since 9/11 I keep wondering where the braindead Muslim women are in these equations and why they allow this idiocy to go on around them.

11/25/2007 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

"I wonder how many promoters of 'reconciliation' believe the 'healing process' actually consists of destroying the contrast between the innocent and the guilty"

Far, far too many.

And it's not just a war-on-terror problem, either--we see this a lot in relation to the plain old criminal-justice system. As just one sad, local (to me) example, look at all the controversy around the recent murder in Graham, WA (USA) by a violent felon released from prison in MA.

11/25/2007 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

"Where's the mother of the infant and the wife of the husband?

Since 9/11 I keep wondering where the braindead Muslim women are in these equations and why they allow this idiocy to go on around them."

I keep wondering where all the brave Jane Fonda types are from our country. Breath taking hypocracy and selfishness, I mean what's in it for them? Than again we are talking about the pro-abortion crowd so this event maybe isn't that upsetting. Maybe what would really get them interested in fighting for "rights" would be if they were educated on the fact that women get nothing when they die and the men get 72 virgins and all other kinds of great stuff. Yeah that would do it.

11/25/2007 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Starling said...

Nahncee said "Since 9/11 I keep wondering where the braindead Muslim women are in these equations and why they allow this idiocy to go on around them."

Six years, two months, and fifteen days of wondering is six years, two months, and fifteen days too many, Nahncee. Unless you can explain to the women in question how they can physically coerce several men simultaneously, then these acts will continue as long as there are men determined to so act.

As you well know, in certain parts of the world men are allowed, in fact encouraged, to physically coerce women. That doesn't mean just beating but can also include telling them what to wear, where they can go, with whom they can socialize and marry, etc.

My perception is that it is very hard for any one woman to overcome that on her own.

You ask, "where's the mother of the infant and the wife of the husband?" Assuming she did put up a fight, the most likely answer might be "picking up her teeth."

11/25/2007 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Suppose E was the total amount of free energy required to bring a disordered system into order. Intuitively, the more efficient the application of E, the less total free energy would be required to order the system.

Suppose we were to apply E without regard to the local conditions of the system we were trying to order. Items which are already in an ordered state would receive no benefit and might actually be driven into disorder by the needless application of energy. You would call this the penalty of ignorance; where the inefficient application is caused by the lack of information.

Currently we make all airline passengers, including 90 year old grandmothers and children, take off their shoes in the airport because we don't know who the shoe bomber is. So we have to screen everyone. But if we knew exactly who the shoe bombers were we could let all the passengers proceed without a footwear check and send the shoe bombers directly to jail. Obviously, the total amount of E needed in a system where we had perfect or good information about shoe bombers would be much less than one in which we were paying the penalty of ignorance.

But if we had the necessary information yet decided not to use it because we want to make nice; in order to convey the appearance of "fairness" or "reconciliation", defined as treating the innocent and guilty equivalently, we would then be paying a different penalty. The penalty of stupidity. And it is easy to see that the total amount of free energy or E required to order a system handicapped by the penalty of stupidity would be far greater than if the available information were used.

Because acquiring information is expensive it is sometimes believed that simply making "nice" to everybody will further the achievement reconciliation. But it's a false economy and no one should be surprised if this fails. Because we pay the penalty of ignorance in consequence and often the additional penalty of stupidity. The net result is that disorder increases unchecked and the system fails until only a desperate, massive slug of energy will restore a modicum of order. Maybe the "broken glass" theory of law enforcement combined with community liaison are attempts to avoid the penalties of ignorance and stupidity.

11/25/2007 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

The argument I've just made above suggests that that both the policies of "treat all Muslims as bad" and "treat all Muslims as belonging to the Religion of Peace" are inefficient. The reality is that some Muslims are bad while others are good people. The problem is knowing which is which and getting the community to create its own standards.

It may be counterintuitive, but the Surge with its combination of outreach for those of goodwill and a rain of Hellfires and JDAMs on the heads of the stone killers may actually be a form -- and an effective form -- of achieving reconciliation.

11/25/2007 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger El Baboso said...

One of the interesting things that happen in societies with free movement of peoples is that some degree of self organization occurs. The educated and law-abiding move to one set of neighborhoods and the "less-fortunate" law-breakers congregate in another set of neighborhoods. Law enforcement is relatively easy in the former set and difficult in the latter, because as you point out, information is acquired easily in one and with difficulty in the other.

I think that what the broken glass theory does is appeal to and make allies of some subset in the bad neighborhoods by providing them with some amount of security. They immediately benefit from clean streets, reduced graffiti, and lower vandalism rates in terms of quality of life, lower expenditures on repairs, etc. They can also become an information source.

I suppose that is what we are doing on a more kinetic basis in Iraq. The problem is that in most of the world, there is no nice neighborhood to move to, or if there is one, you can't move there since it is reserved for Baathists, Army officers, imams, or some other group of zero-sum thinking individuals. The best bet is to move to the West.

Going back to neighborhoods here in the US, my direct experience is that the parents from the bad neighborhood moving to the good neighborhoods are rarely a problem. They keep a low profile, don't socialize much and are often quite isolated. It's their kids who hang out on the street corners and try to intimidate the older residents. That is ironic in two ways, because the transplanted children would probably get their asses kicked in the old neighborhood by the real thugs and of course their parents are accepting a certain degree of alienation in their new surroundings and perhaps ostracism in the old neighborhood to free them from the very lack of security that the children are intent on bringing to the new neighborhood.

The West, with its commitment to the free movement of people and ideas seems to be in bit of a bind here. Even if you let in legitimate refugees who want nothing else but a safe environment for them and their children, those children may be a bigger problem than any sleeper agent.

11/25/2007 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/26/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...

11/26/2007 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Wretchard,

I think your comments may be more important than the post. You seem to be developing a kind of stoichiometry of counter-insurgency. You can almost measure the inputs and predict the outputs. I remember one of the other commenters referred to a sociologist who was successful at predicting government actions based on ruling coalition analysis. Maybe if you combined the two ideas you could come up with a viable psychohistory theory.

11/26/2007 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Islam devours its young. There can be few more damning condemnations of a creed than that. Youth will forever be this world's future and any political machine that gleefully hurls its babies into the furnace is doomed.

Harsh as it sounds, when the Twin Keys of Doom™ are about to be turned, it is the remembrance of this Pakistani baby bomb and those two infants strapped into carseats in that Iraqi car bomb that will remove all hesitation.

12/02/2007 06:02:00 PM  

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