Today’s (Sep 12, 2010) Washington Post featured an above-the-fold editorial in the “Outlook” section by Ted Koppel; “Let’s stop playing into bin Laden’s hands.” At the end of the continuation, “Our overreaction to 9/11 continues,” Koppel posed a rhetorical question. “Could bin Laden in his wildest imaginings, have hoped to provoke greater chaos?”
Readers will pardon me from leaping ahead of my own story; that question by Koppel is too good to resist. (Koppel, as does nearly every other writer, researcher, and historian, uses the word “chaos” without definition.)
I need to speak to his use of the term in the context of his article, my own understanding of chaos, and my understanding of political revolutionary warfare.
As I am writing David Gregory on “Meet the Press,” (Sep 12, 2010) is discussing the Koppel article with Rudy Giuliani. Gregory quotes Koppel extensively including the text: “Through the initial spending of a few hundred thousand dollars, training and then sacrificing 19 of his foot soldiers, bin Laden has watched [al Qaeda] turn into the most recognized international franchise since McDonald’s.”
My initial intent
It was, and remains, my intention to write a series of articles detailing the national level’s descent into chaos the morning of 9-11. I have posted an initial article depicting the friendly situation at 10:10, the time that Air Force One turned away from a return to the capital.
A paradigm shift
Koppel’s narrative is a game changer. He extends the chaos metaphor far beyond the events of 9-11 by stating that we have “played into bin Laden’s hands.” And that leads me to the subject of political revolutionary warfare.
For six years (1974-1980) I was the lead instructor and course manager for the Navy’s Counterinsurgency Orientation (COIN) course at the Naval Amphibious School, Coronado. During those six years we changed the focus of the course to revolutionary warfare. The course name changed as well to become a political revolutionary warfare seminar, “Political Warfare Studies.”
We developed a detailed framework to analyze revolutionary and political movements. I will write about that framework in the future. For those interested, I did address the framework in this thread on the Small Wars Council forum.
For now it is sufficient to simply state two things that are inherent in any qualitative revolutionary movement.
First, the goal of any revolutionary movement that knows what it is doing is to give the opposition every opportunity to believe in the myth of a military victory.
Second, in the words of Dr. Tom Grassey, Capt (USN-retired), one of our lecturers, an objective of revolutionaries is to encourage the status quo to “strangle in its own strength.” (Tom Grassey is the former James B. Stockdale Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Naval War College; and former Editor, Naval War College Review.)
Today, Ted Koppel said, “The goal of any organized terrorist attack is to goad a vastly more powerful enemy into an excessive response.” He is saying the same thing that Grassey articulated a quarter century ago.
Have we learned nothing? I will have much, much more to say.