Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com The Barnyard: National Review Interviews Mike Yon

Monday, April 21, 2008

National Review Interviews Mike Yon

Mike is back in the US for a while to promote his book "Moment of Truth in Iraq" and sat down with Katheryn Jean Lopez for an extended interview that is a must read.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: What does it mean to be American “in the most romantic sense of the word” and why is it essential to counterinsurgency?

Michael Yon: Remember the scene in Lawrence of Arabia, where Peter O’Toole executes an Arab friend? “It was written,” Anthony Quinn tries to console him. Lawrence turns on him furiously and declares “Nothing is written.” It’s a very American moment in an English story. Americans live in a romance of possibility; we say “we can do it!” We reject fate.

Replacing fatalism with hope is crucial in a counterinsurgency. The citizen is trapped by despair — caught between an inept and/or corrupt local government and brutalizing terrorists. So when the government comes looking for the terrorists-next-door, the neighbors say nothing. That’s how insurgencies survive.
Counterinsurgency is political war. Governments that can’t remove sewage, lose the people. So in a counter insurgency American soldiers trained to hunt and kill terrorists may find themselves in a Baghdad neighborhood talking to the locals about sewage removal.

Strange combo, you might say — warriors and sewage removal. But these warriors are Americans. If it needs to be done, they do it or help do it. And next thing you know, the locals are telling our folks where the terrorists are hiding.

The romance of self-reliance. Replacing fatalism with hope. This is absolutely essential because counterinsurgency works only if people help defend themselves.

The American soldier is the most dangerous man in the world, and the Iraqis had to learn that before they would trust or respect our folks. But it is only after they see with their own eyes these great-hearted warriors, who so enjoy killing the enemy, are even happier helping to build a school or to make a neighborhood safe that we really got their attention.

No comments: