Thursday, June 08, 2006
With the latest news of Al-Zarqawi's death coming out of Iraq, I think we have to look at the death of the modern incarnation of the total warfare leader. Zarqawi was not a brilliant tactician, but he did use tactics that worked to his sides advantage: IEDS and random suicide/car bombings that cause maximum damage and require minimum technology/effort (one stupid martyr and some C4 are enough). What Zarqawi did that was truly smart and what made him a modern total warfare leader (modified thug) was his ability to manipulate and use the media. Not only did he use military tactics, religious and political tactics in small areas of Iraq, guerilla tactics, and espionage, Zarqawi used media. Total warfare is using all of your resources; he truly used all of his resources to come at the Coalition with everything he had. The insurgents and Al Qaeda poseurs in Iraq used tactics that made "great copy" in the tradition of "if it bleeds it leads", and used the internet to spread their message, showcase horrifying beheadings, recruit, and perform spin control. Zarqawi did not need the help of Al Jazeera in meeting goals, but rather, had a good feel for the mood of American Big Media. He understood how to manipulate the newswires and the NY Times crowd to showcase his dirty work, even if it had little impact on the grand scheme. The media acted a a force multiplier for his tactics. Sure he might only be taking out Iraqi civilians, but the images on American television and Big Media treatment could affect mass American popular opinion. Zarqawi understood why the Tet Offensive was successful. It was a military failure in the sense of numbers killed and missions foiled, but it was a morale destroyer in America. Zarqawi and Al Qaeda in Iraq never had their Tet, no matter how hard they tried, and how much Internet media they put out there, they could not win. There will be future versions of this thug, and they may use even more resources to bring forth "total warfare". Hopefully, the death of Zarqawi will spread the message of the improving situation in Iraq.