Sometimes people are shown ink blots in the hope of finding clues as to their mental characteristics. If the ink blots remind you of the ‘wrong’ things then you may have problems.
However, a different form of “ink blot madness” has been doing the rounds for some time: The ink blot strategy.
The ink blot strategy holds that the British won in Malaya (now Malaysia and the independent city state of Singapore) not by killing, capturing or driving out the communists, but by taking bits of Malaya and making life “so good” in these bits that people “did not want to fight the British any more” and then expanding these bits “like ink blots”. By copying this strategy we can all win in Iraq – or so it is claimed.
There are various problems with this idea. Firstly it is not what the British army did in Malaya – whatever some people may say they did. In reality the men went out and fought the enemy (in the jungle or elsewhere). Certainly there were ‘protected villages’ and so on, but Malaya was a fight (it was not a welfare project).
Further the British did not give vast amounts of aid to Malaya. Britain did not have this sort of money to give away in the early 1950′s and it would not have really improved economic life anyway (more on that below). In so far as economic life did improve in Malaya during the “Emergency” British aid was not the real reason.
And, of course, the (mostly ethnic Chinese) communists in Malays were not fighting for “better socio-economic conditions” anyway – they were fighting for communism (hint, that is why they were called ‘communists’). Try asking someone who knows something about Vietnam how all the welfare statism there did not make the VC or NVA vanish (nor was ‘support’ for them among civilians based upon poor social or economic conditions, such support was based on terror – you helped the communists or you and your family would be killed)
How can someone be so plain daft as to suppose that the reason someone becomes a suicide bomber in Iraq (whether they are from Iraq or from outside) is because they turned on the light one day and it did not go on. “Oh if only the electricity and the water supply worked better, then I would not strap a lot of explosives to myself and go blow up a bus full of school children”.
Also physics teaches us that it is less difficult to destroy that to create. The terrorists left undisturbed (under the ink blot strategy) in ‘their’ bits of Iraq will find it less difficult to come in and blow things up in ‘ink blot land’ than the U.S. Army (or anyone else) will find it to build nice services.
The ink blots will not ‘spread, they will shrink. Going on the defensive is sign that one has no real will to win – and would mean that soldiers being killed would be dying for nothing (as the poltical choice to give up had already been made – sound familar?).
Then there is the assumption that government can make the lives of people Iraq “so good they will not fight”, it is not just that the terrorists are fighting because they would like nicer ‘public services’ (which is absurd), but the whole idea that the government can make so many millions of people have such happy lives.
One does not have to a libertarian to see the absurdity of this idea. The government can not (for example) make the lives of Compton in greater Los Angeles. “So good they will not want to fight” (after so many decades of welfare schemes and ‘urban renewal’ schemes) – so how is going to that in Iraq?
Whatever one thinks of the Iraq war, the ‘ink blot strategy’ is stupid. And whoever the military officers and politicans who are behind may be, it is time they shut up. If the war is justified then fighting should continue (i.e. the enemy, especially the leadership, should be hunted down and killed or caputured), and if the war is not justified then the troops should come home.
But there is no ‘socio-economic road’ to victory.