Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Hidden War: Send Them Levis

Traditional war is always viewed from the perspective of "enemy" and "allies" with two armed forces meeting in pitched battle to obtain or retain land, to force the enemy to accede to the oppositions political objectives, to obtain wealth or resources, etc, etc, etc. That is until fourth generation warfare. Insurgencies, global terrorism, violent idealists fueled by blackmarket arms and drug sells, spurred on by idealogues who spread their message via new technologies from satellite TV to email to websites to cell phones to CDs and books, etc, etc, etc. For the most part, people don't really understand how this kind of war is fought.

Most people have heard the phrase "hearts and minds", but really have no idea what that means or how it applies in a fourth generation warfare setting. If they think about it at all, they imagine it is about images, like in advertising or propaganda posters or shaking hands or handing out candy to kids. The scope of this kind of war is hard to grasp. The outcome is even more difficult. Concepts of "victory" do not have commanders of two armies sitting down at a conference table and hacking out terms of truce or surrender. For the most part, people not only do not know how the war is being fought, but what it looks like or when it is over. The media does not talk about it as part of the war because they don't understand it either. They think of war like most people think of war: explosions, soldiers, bullets, wounded and dead. In this case, in the war you don't know exists, the wounded and dying are idealogues and ideologies. The weapons are wallets, credit cards and cash. The Bullets are western products through which western ideas are infiltrated into states, societies and cultures. The Atomic Bomb is the interglobal communications networks represented by cell phones, internet and satellite dishes.

Because few look for it or understand it, there are no university or military academy classes that can teach you how to conduct this truly "shadow" war. However, in many respects, the war goes on every day, it's barely directed, it's conducted largely by private corporations and individuals and you don't even know it. It's something we became rather good at during the Cold War. It actually contributed greatly to the demise of the Soviet Union without a nuke fired.

How do you know if you're winning the war? In traditional war, it's body counts, land secured, enemy leaders deposed or captured or "taking the flag" off the capital building. Maybe it's knocking down a statue of the leader and finally pulling him from a rat hole.

This is how most people see the war:

or this:

But the war really looks like this:

I know, you think you've seen this picture of the late "master mind of terror" Abu Musab al Zarqawi. You might even know it is from the "bloopers" reel that showed him unable to operate an American Made Machine Gun. You may have even heard comments about his terrorist fashion faux pas of wearing white sneakers with his black ninja mujihadeen uniform. But look at the picture through the eyes of the "other war", the ideological, informational and economic war:

Did you see it? Did you see the hidden war? Look again:

These shoes were reported to be American tennis shoes made in Godless China, shipped via Singapore and purchased at an apostate mall in Jordan or hijacked from a delivery truck driven by a third world national into Iraq and sold on the black market for the all mighty American Dollar. It's probably not the "product placement" the company would have liked to have, but it serves its purpose.

Why is this so important?

First, you must understand the ideological war of the Islamist, particularly, the Salafist Sunni. This Islamist, embodied by the likes of Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, Qardawi and the late Qutb, believes that the demise of the Islamic Ummah is coming at the hands of the West, not by guns and bullets, but by our ideas and products (ideas and products that go hand in hand) that infiltrate the Ummah and corrupt it. What they fear most is the turning away of the youth from the traditional, fundamentalist Islam they adhere to towards anything that is secular and materialistic. Even without guns or bullets or bombs, Islamists believed that the US and West in general were already at war with the Islamic Ummah and trying to destroy it through these very means.

Why do you think the 19 Hijackers of 9/11 flew planes into the World Trade Centers; the economic center of the United States? They recognize our economic power not only fuels our ability to maintain military hegemony, but is part and parcel of our idea of free, capitalistic economy and society. It is the power we have to negotiate deals and maintain our allies' viability. Whatever our economic fortunes, so goes the fortunes of the world. And, wherever our products go, so do our ideas.

So, what does it mean to have had the head Islamist terrorist in Iraq wearing a pair of American sneakers?

Let's go back in history for a moment. What caused the collapse of the USSR? Most people recognize that the collapse did not come from military defeat (contrary to the claims of the Islamist offspring of the Mujihadeen from the Afghan/Russo War). It was an economic collapse that led to the final dissolution. Depending on what aisle of the political sphere you ask, the reasons for this collapse are attributed to high national and political activities. The right will tell you that it was brought on by Reagan increasing military spending which caused the USSR to try to match our spending on weapons which their economy could not support. The left will tell you that the political and economic system was always flawed and the collapse was inevitable.

Those were definitely important over all concepts (even the mujihadeen's claims have some merit). But the collapse came from below, from the streets and from the wallet of common Soviet Citizens. I remember the report clearly, but also remember that I did not completely recognize the significance at the time. I believe it was 1989 or '90, right before the collapse post attempts at "Perastroika" or reformation. The report talked about the rise of the black market in Moscow. The most popular items? Levi Jeans and Music. Michael Jackson was very popular.

How were these items purchased? American Dollars. The black market circumvented the official economic process and took the revenue right out of the pockets of the government, putting it in the hands of small businessmen. It was an ad hoc free market. Capitalism at its most laissez faire. Of course, it included books, toys, televisions and every other sort of product we could produce. With every item purchased, the idea of capitalism and freedom came with it in a subliminal message wrapped up in packaging and transferred through osmosis as it was held in the hand of its new owner. Even if it was a coke that only lasted ten minutes or a song that lasted three, it was all that it took for the dream to be implanted.

The day you knew that war was won? The day the first McDonald's was opened in Moscow. Everything after that was just the formal process of dismantling "the Bear".

Again, why is it important that the number one most wanted Islamist Terrorist in Iraq was wearing American shoes? Because not even he can escape the power. For all the bluster about "infiltration of Western influences" and the destruction of the Ummah at the hands of materialistic, capitalist, freedom, he and those like him, turn out to be hypocrits. In the most subtle manner that even the "watchers" did not catch, he destroyed the very basis of the ideology he professes.

Here it is again:

and here:

In Afghanistan or the KFC in Pakistan or the Hyatt in Riyadh or the kid riding his BMX in Bahrain or the teenager walking down the street in Meccah wearing Nikes, listening to his iPod, dreaming about dating Brittney, humming to Metallica, wearing his baggy Tommy Hilfiger jeans like 50 cent and his Adidas sweatshirt, walking to the local mall (courtesy of a US construction company), carrying his LL Bean backpack that holds his underground copy of Hunter S. Thompson, thinking about flagging down a Ford Crown Victoria Taxi while drinking a Pepsi.

Talk about packaging selling the "company". Red, white and blue Pepsi cans say "America" like nothing else can. It's the subliminal message no one else will every pull off and it is courtesy of American corporations and the American worker. It's why, regardless of any issue with "American Foreign Policy", you can ask an Arab on the streets of Riyadh or an Egyptian in Cairo how they feel about America and they will inevitably say how they "like America" and the "American people" even if they hate our "government" or "policies".

It is the subtle war that we win every day. They want what we have and they want to be us they just don't like to recognize consciously that the way to be us is to be free, to allow free enterprise and the free flow of information. But they do and they will.

Somewhere out there someone is decrying this very fact. Whether they see it as part of the American Hegemony or corporatist take over of the world or the destruction of culture, they understand the hidden war better than most Americans, but refuse to recognize its benefits or the reality of global economics.

Somewhere out there, an Islamist jihadist is sitting at his Dell computer (American company with parts from China, sent via Singapore and assembled in India) showing his friends the latest propaganda video. What he doesn't realize is that he has played his part in our propaganda war as his friends admire his American computer and plan to get one, the word "American" has been subliminally burned into their minds at a billion images per second even while they believe they are simply looking at the work of like minded idealogues who routinely tell them about the evils of the West. Whether that computer was purchased on the blackmarket or from a legitimate retailer, it's a sure bet that some of his money went back to the corporation. Just as grievous to his cause as the subtle propaganda message he relayed at viewing his computer, the money that bought the machine is fueling the very system and machinery that will destroy his ideology and maybe the jihadist himself one day.

Zarqawi was killed recently and people believe that this should send a message to the Jihadists about the probability of being found and destoyed. However, the Jihadist Islamist should see the picture of Zarqawi in his American sneakers and be afraid, be very afraid.

You want to defeat a nuclear Iran that is reaping double revenues by making statements which destabilize the oil market? Cold War, but faster. We don't have to send in the B 117. Flood their markets with cheap American goods via blackmarkets that only accept American Dollars. Send them CDs and CD players and microwaves. Smuggle in music and books.

Send them Levis and let the best ideology win.

Cross posted at the Castle

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