When a small group led by a charismatic leader does something outrageous in this country to the average American this means little. This sort of thing happens all the time … bringing out examples is likely an exercise best left to the reader. A question that arises is why then does so much of the Islamic world rise up in anger when, say, a wacky pastor in South Florida burns a few books? The reason is in part a reflection of our different political cultures. 

In those countries which are rising up in anger, no such act would transpire without the express order and approval of a governmental (or organized anti-governmental organization, i.e., an insurgency). They are upset that this guy is going this because to them it means that Mr Obama and the US government has decided this is the right thing to do. Or at the very best, if he is doing it, then he has their explicit stamp of approval. It doesn’t matter that he says he thinks it is bad or that any number of us do the same. That is irrelevant because he is being allowed to do it means that their approval and sponsorship is a given. That they protest against his action but allow it is just a demonstration base deception. 

Those places in the world do not have freedom of speech and have never lived in such places or really (as is likely) considered the consequences of a society which defends such. Perhaps part of the problem is that our COIN apparatus (unlike as what pointed as “optimal” in the Petraeus manual) is almost exclusively military … which does in fact control its message and people in a way which our civilian life is not. This might be a big benefit of moving those COIN operations which are pointed as better done by non-military units to be done by actual non-military units. Perhaps the surge would have been best accompanied by 75k civilians in their unruly mess … so that part of the world might come to learn what freedom of speech looks like up close and personal. 

Filed under: Foreign PolicyGovernmentMark O.

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