“The world is spinning too fast
I’m buying lead Nike shoes
To keep myself tethered
To the days I try to lose
My mama said to slow down
You should make your shoes
Stop dancing to the music
Of gorillaz in a happy mood
Keep a mild groove on
Ba ba ba Day dee bop
There you go!
Get the cool!
Get the cool shoeshine!
There’s a monkey in the jungle
Watching a vapour trail
Caught up in the conflict
Between his brain and his tail
And if time’s elimination
Then we got nothing to lose
Please repeat the message
It’s the music that we choose
Keep a mild groove on
Ok bring it down yeah we gonna break out
Ah ah ah ah”
Gorillaz, “19-2000” (repetitions omitted)
We do not feel good about Iraq. The reason is that our enemies have gotten inside our OODA loops — our learning processes — and are able to transient between one form and another faster than we can comprehend them. This makes them appear to know whack, when in fact they are whacking us. Much as Stalinism had a negative influence on the moral-political condition of the Party, created a situation of uncertainty, contributed to the spreading of unhealthy suspicion, and sowed distrust among Communists, the Iraq War has done similar things (but to much lesser extents) to America.
Time and again we have played into our enemy’s hands. Abu Gharib seriously damaged our ability to offer generous terms to the vanquished, while popular Iraqi politician Abdul Aziz al-Hakim was partially right when he blamed American Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for the destruction of a holy Shia mosque. As Hakim said, American policy of Sunni-Arab appeasement has given a green light to terrorists by rewarding violence and bloodshed.
Now, it may be that appeasement does work. By appeasing Hitler early on, Britain eventually managed to permanently knock out Germany, warp Soviet development, and give global hegemony to a fellow English-speaker power. Perhaps by rewarding anti-democratic terrorists, Khalizad can achieve a similar coup for the United States. But the moral cost of this is very high.
From a moral perspective, our behavior has been functionally identical to trying to lose. As John Boyd might say, we have shaped and influenced events so that we not only diminish our spirit and strength but also influence potential friends as well as to uncommitted so that they are down away from our philosophy and our antagonist toward our success.
If America wishes to remain a moral power — a nation capable of inspiring others towards a worldwide grand strategy — we have to stop dancing to the enemy’s music. We need to stop dancing, and buy lead Nike shoes.
We need to time-shift the OODA loop. When we try to dance to their rhythm we tear ourselves apart. But if we make them dance to our rhythm, if we purposefully elongate our thinking, we render the guerrilla’s advantages moot. John Boyd outlined three categories of conflict
Maneuver warfare focuses on agility and the ability to get inside an OODA loop. The enemy is more agile, so wishes to fight maneuver war. We should deprive him of that, by instead focusing on attrition war.
We can do this by empowering local proxies to fight for us, refusing to fight the enemy where he is strongest (our lack of agility) and instead forcing him to fight where we are strongest (his lack of resources). In the case of Iraq this involves welcoming Shia and Kurdish reprisals against Sunni Arab terrorist networks. Going forward, it means that friends on the ground are much more important than a friendly UN vote or French nods.
(Focusing on local friends also gives us the advantage in moral warfare as well.)
Our military is designed for blitzkrieg, and its rapid interaction with so many complications in the local environment leads to friction and harmful waste heat. Instead of melting in this sauna, we should focus on what we do best and allow local friends to do what they would do best.
We need to cool down. We need to get the cool. The current heat of Iraq is too much for America to easily take.
We have spent too long listening to dancing to their music. Now it’s time for them to hear the music that we choose.