Via Wired – an article about how we’re winning the hearts and minds of the community by protecting them from crime, putting the ‘cops’ out on the street, refusing to back down when confronted with bullshit excuses.
Sounds like what Giuliani did for New York City…
His name is Joe Colabuno, and he’s a sergeant who works in psychological operations — psyops, in military-speak. His job is to win the hearts-and-minds battle, and his tools are almost comically simple: posters drawn in Photoshop, loudspeaker and radio broadcasts pasted together with SonicStage and saved to MiniDiscs, the occasional newspaper article, and, above all, his own big mouth. Arab culture lives by its oral traditions; talk is often the most important weapon. “I find the right people to shape, and they shape the rest,” Colabuno says.
Just as in Tarmiyah, troops in Fallujah are looking to recruit locals to keep tabs on their neighborhoods. Yesterday, on the west side of town, an alligator [alligators are watchmen who've come to be known in other towns as "alligators" for their light-blue Izod shirts] helped catch one of the Americans’ top insurgent targets in Fallujah. After seeing a photograph, the watchman ID’d the guy as a neighbor, living just a few houses down the street.
But an alligator-recruiting drive yesterday in the Askeri district, in the northeastern corner of town, didn’t go so well. The marines got less than half of the 125 they were looking for. So Colabuno hops into a Humvee to find out why.
We pull up to a narrow, unpaved street alongside the Askeri recruiting station. A group of seven men sit on the gravel, beneath a set of drying sheets. In the middle of the crowd, leaning on a cane, fingering prayer beads and dressed in white, is a rotund, bearded man. He’s clearly the ringleader. Colabuno and his wire-thin interpreter, Leo, approach him. In every other district, they’ve recruited plenty of alligators. “Why not in Askeri?” Colabuno asks the ringleader.
The money’s not good enough, he answers. An alligator makes only $50 a month; day laborers get $8 a day — when there’s work, that is.
“That’s the weakest argument ever,” Colabuno says. The men looked stunned; Americans don’t normally speak this directly — they’re usually deferential to the point of looking weak, or just condescending.
“Do you remember Sheikh Hamsa?” Colabuno asks. Sure, sure, the men nod. The popular imam was killed more than a year ago by insurgents, but they’re a bit surprised that Colabuno knows who he is. Most of the US troops here have been in town for just a few months. “Well, Sheikh Hamsa told me that weak faith protects only so much.’” The ringleader stares down at the ground and fingers his beads. Colabuno has hit a nerve. “You know, I looked in the Koran. I didn’t see anything about Mohammed demanding a better salary before he’d do God’s work,” Colabuno says, jamming his forefinger into his palm…
A skinny man at the back of the pack speaks up, telling Colabuno that the Americans are just here to take Iraq’s oil. “Yeah, you’re right. We want your oil,” Colabuno answers. Again eyes grow big with surprise. “We want to buy it. So you can pay for jobs, for water, for electricity. Make you rich.” The men chuckle. Everyone shakes hands. Askeri’s alligator quota is filled by the next morning.
Compare Colabuno’s hearts and minds efforts to Karen Hughes’ pathetic efforts..
There’s no doubt that among the countries that violate human rights the most, one finds China and Saudi Arabia. This is well known. But this constitutes cowardice on the part of the Western world. They dare not say a word to Saudi Arabia, because they need the Saudi oil and money. So they keep quiet. This is cowardice.
From what I’ve seen, In the Arab world, displays of cowardice are treated with contempt. There’s a real ‘I dare you’ culture over there, I guess because it is a boy’s club (no girlz allowed). If you chicken out, they don’t respect you.
That was one of many things they got right in “Lawrence of Arabia” The Arab fighters respected Lawrence, not just because he was an Arabist and a decent tactician. They also admired him because he was fearless, verging on reckless.
When Arab leaders and/or ‘radicals’ push us, we appease, we cajole and negotiate. “Deferential to the point of looking weak, or just condescending” has been the basis of our foreign policy in the Middle East for decades. No wonder they have so little respect for us.
Our diplomats are like the joggers in LA who get eaten by mountain lions. Yes, the West is at the top of the food chain, but we don’t act the part. Instead of standing our ground, we run, acting like prey. Therefore, we’re treated like prey.
Our military and men like Colabuno are doing their best to undo the damage that the idiots in the State Department have done for years.
Guess who gets paid more. As ‘the people’ who control what our government does and who pay their salaries, shouldn’t we do something about that?