Quote of the day–William S. Lind

American and other foreign troops in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan are learning more than how to make IEDs and how effective they can be. They are learning by direct observation how a place works when the state disappears.



They will see statelessness as a field of opportunity where people who are clever and ruthless can rise fast and far. They look upon themselves as that kind of people. They will also have learned it is possible to fight the state, and how to do so. The effectiveness of IEDs is part of that lesson; so are the power and rewards that come to members of militias and gangs. In their own minds, and perhaps in reality, they will have found a new world in which they can hope to thrive.


William S. Lind
Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.
February 3, 2009
On War #290: Blowback Revisited
[Via John Robb (be sure to read the comments).


Great. Just what we need. The economy is crashing and governments (Iceland and essentially Mexico) are falling so gangs and thugs start making things worse.–Joe]

2 thoughts on “Quote of the day–William S. Lind

  1. Methinks that a bit of projection is going on. They will see statelessness as a field of opportunity where people who are clever and ruthless can rise fast and far. They look upon themselves as that kind of people.

    One of the things that Soldiers learn is that it is absolutely no fun living where the state has failed. The third world is NOT a place of opportunity. What allows us to dominate in that area are the very benefits of first world training, teamwork, and technology.

    But as far as learning our own weaknesses, you bet we do. It is possible that a few dedicated cadre can cause untold trouble for a nation. This is the justification for the erosion of civil rights that has happened in the last few years. However the erosion of rights is more likely to cause a homegrown insurgency than defeat imported terrorism.

  2. Jim:
    Read the article, not just the excerpt.

    To the large majority of American and European soldiers, this is a lesson in horror. They return home thankful they live in a place where the state endures. The last thing they want is to see their native country turn into another Iraq or Afghanistan.

    But a minority will learn a different lesson.

    The Oklahoman dated December 25, 2008. The title is, “Police Say Vet Made, Sold IEDs to Gangs.”

    The problem is not that “our guys” as a body are going to come back and set about turning things upside down. The problem is it only takes a handful of individuals loyal to homegrown gangs or La Raza to spread technology and strategies.

    I disagree with Lind when he argues that not fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are realistic options; I take his point about not opening up new fronts needlessly. But the man is a scholar of maneuver warfare and insurgency warfare, and its worth taking the time to see what he has to say rather than lumping him in as another blogger you haven’t heard of and refuting a single quoted sentence.

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