Sunday 12 October 2003

The Battlefield is the Mind (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat

MANIPAL, India, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- After World War I, the consequences of the Versailles "peace" were the rise of the National Socialists and World War II. That conflict was followed by the Marshall Plan, the democratization of Germany, Italy and Japan and their bonding with the United States and the United Kingdom into both a security alliance as well as an economic partnership. Both British values and American culture permeated the three former Axis powers, vacuuming away the hostility in the minds of their populations to the victors.
Today, some Germans (as indeed many Britons and more than a few French) may be against what George Bush did to Saddamite Iraq. Almost none are anti-American except in a narrow political sense -- in other words, except in the same way as many Britons are "anti"-Blair and several U.S. citizens "hostile" to Bush.
Why did the Peace imposed after World War II create a benign backlash while that which followed World War I create the Hitler-Tojo-Mussolini monster? The reason was that conquest was achieved in the 1914-1919 conflict only on the ground, over physical territory. In the second, it won over the mind of the "enemy" population pool as well. It can be argued that the extremely liberal treatment given to the Germans after they had backed the most loathsome dictatorship in history, a policy of forgiveness that took within its fold more than 95 percent of those who had been active in the NSDAP, helped avoid a second Hitler.
It is now clear that the formal respect paid to the Emperor of Japan and to the non-militaristic aspects of the culture of that civilization, together with an efficient MacArthurite democratization and integration into the modern economy of Japan, transformed a power that had been first suspicious of and then hostile to the West (at least for the previous two centuries) into a reliable ally, despite the horrors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima
Operation Enduring Freedom ought to have been conducted by giving the same billing to a "Free Iraq" leadership as was given to its U.S.-U..K participants. A Free Iraqi general conducting press briefings jointly with the non-telegenic Tommy Franks, four stars glistening on his lapel, would have had an effect similar to that created by projecting Charles De Gaulle as the heroic leader of a multitude of "Free French," when the reality in German-occupied France was that the level of resistance was far lower than that found in the eastern theatres, while active collaboration was high. The "Free French" were, however, wonderful in cinema newsreels and on the BBC and VOA, which was enough to preserve French pride in the postwar period, avoiding the kind of backlash that made Paris the prime mover behind the Versailles Treaty.

Friday 3 October 2003

To Win in Iraq, Change Tack (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat 

MANIPAL, India, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Foreign troops arrive as liberators, receiving a rapturous welcome from the local population. Soon after, small forces of armed men begin to emerge occasionally from the shadows, shooting at the occupiers -- who must respond indiscriminantly if at all because they cannot distinguish between friend and foe.
Civilian casualties mount. The welcome evolves into suspicion. The resistance grows bolder, thanks in no small part to increased support from within the population. The minor attacks multiply until the occupation force is goaded into carrying out major military operations that cause countless civilian casualties.
Post-war Iraq? No. It is Sri Lanka, circa August 1987, the year an Indian military force landed on the island to enforce a peace between Sinhalese and Tamils.
Within weeks irregulars from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam launched an offensive against the IPKF, using civilian areas as cover. Liberation movement guerillas would pop up from within a crowd, spray a passing IPKF convoy with bullets and disappear -- while the soldiers fire back on a crowd of non-combatants.
After more than a year of this, the Indians changed their tactics.
They began to emphasize medical and other services to win the hearts of the civilian population, and they used used radio and print to disseminate information about the ruthlessness of the LTTE towards any individual who opposed it.