Sunday, June 11, 2006

Assymetric Assault

People litter everywhere.
Is that assymetric warfare?
I'm probably about the four-thousandth blogger to quote this, but it's so quotable. According to a Navy spokesman, a high-ranking officer at Guantanamo, the triple suicide of detainees was "not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."

It's something of a truism now that suicide is an act of anger as much as it is an act of depression or desperation (situations matter, of course), and there's little question that the suicides are intended to draw attention in a harmful fashion. There've been suicides like that for centuries: the most prominent recent ones I can think of are self-immolations by anti-war Buddhist priests. As acts of warfare go, it's the most passive-agressive form of assault possible, in that it only does psychological harm and then only to interlocutors who are thoughtful and open; defining it as "assymetric warfare" implies no distinction between speech, civil disobedience and terrorism, and is both ridiculous and disturbing.

According to the reports I've seen, the suicides were by detainees with reported actual ties to anti-American forces, but given the treatment of unconvicted (and mostly unconvictable) detainees, it falls into the category of "Sure, they hate us. Doesn't mean they're wrong."
Defense Department officials have long expressed their pride in not having lost a single life among the approximately 759 detainees who have at one time been incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. There have been 41 suicide attempts by about 25 individual detainees -- many by hanging -- but in each previous case, medical personnel were able to save them.

"This is a determined, intelligent, committed element," Craddock said. "They continue to do everything they can . . . to become martyrs."
They succeeded, but it's not likely to change anyone's mind. "Drawing attention" only matters if we are actually embarassed about what we're doing, or if anyone else can make us change our behavior....

Non Sequiturs: I'm not a big fan of animated gifs, particularly cheap-shot humor, but this (found here) just made me smile. And cubicles make you dumber. As if you didn't know.

and Hume's Ghost (blogging as part of the group at Glenn Greenwald's place) has the best list of qualifications and quibbles with regard to Zarqawi's death and its strategic and political meaning.

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