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About Literature / Hobbyist Member S. MarleyMale/United States Recent Activity
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Okay, I admit it: Up until a few days ago, I was one-hundred percent in favor of airstrikes on ISIS. Seeing that black-and-white gunsight footage of precision guided munitions striking their gun trucks and supply depots filled me with the kind of satisfaction that can only be found in watching people you don't like get blown up. I could swear I even had a brief moment of (god forbid!) patriotic pride.
It's not like it was hard, after having seen videos of them executing civilians and prisoners of war, killing journalists who had their hands bound behind their backs, seeing headline after headline telling of broad swaths of new territory captured by the group. It's clear that ISIS is no ordinary terrorist group or militia; it's a well-organized, well-armed, and highly motivated military force with a clear objective in mind. And one that has made specific threats concerning their desire to kill Americans.

As I watched President Obama deliver a speech detailing his long-overdue strategy to deal with the Islamic State, I couldn't shake the feeling that it all sounded too clean, too easy. If such an enemy as ISIS could be defeated by means of air power and special operations forces working in conjunction with indigenous allies, then why hadn't the same strategy been successful in Afghanistan? Why hadn't it worked during our occupation of Iraq? Or way back during the Vietnam war?
It's easy to assume that previous administrations didn't have the wisdom and experience to employ such a strategy in a way that would produce satisfactory results, but I think that ignores the more pressing question of what kind of enemy we're actually facing here.
Around the time of the President's speech, I was in the middle of reading Col. Thomas Hammes' The Sling and the Stone, in which Hammes claims that the world is in the midst of a transition between 'traditional' maneuver warfare, a type at which the United States and its allies excel, and a kind of drawn-out asymmetric warfare in which an insurgent force attempts to defeat a technologically and numerically superior adversary by gradually whittling away their political will to fight, a type of strategy Hammes terms “fourth-generation warfare”.
In recounting the evolution of fourth-generation war, Hammes traces its lineage to Mao Zedong and the Chinese Civil War. While Mao didn't invent the concept per se, he was the first to outline the principles of fourth-generation war into a coherent strategy, which he published in his Guerilla Warfare. Hammes condenses Mao's work into a set of three 'steps' necessary to achieve the objectives of a modern insurgency. In the first phase, “[t]he insurgents concentrate primarily on building political strength. Military action is limited to selected, politically motivated assassinations. Any other military action must have a propaganda purpose to cement the population's support of the insurgents”.
Having then watched the President's speech, it was a few days later, while I was riding to work, cresting a hill when I came to the realization, wait a minute, I thought, we're doing exactly what they want!
It wasn't an easy pill to swallow, knowing that our country was already more or less committed to a military intervention in Iraq and Syria. The fact that such an intervention is supported by the vast majority of Americans doesn't make things any better. But the more I think about it, the more obvious the conclusion: ISIS is indeed an insurgent force at its very core. They might behave like a conventional army, but that's because such tactics are what works best for them, given that they're currently up against relatively weak adversaries such as the Iraqi Army. But from a strategic standpoint, they are conducting a fourth-generation war, and right now, they're in phase one.
If we take at face value the claim that the Islamic Stat's ultimate goal is to establish a caliphate stretching across the Middle East and encompassing much of the Arab Muslim world, it becomes clear that every civilian they murder, every journalist they execute, every threat they make is part of a carefully planned campaign designed to bait the United States into engaging in yet another war against an enemy that they cannot possibly defeat by conventional means.
The important thing to remember is that, above all other things, ISIS are masters at information warfare. To simply dismiss the group as a bunch of bearded, disaffected youth with assault rifles and abandoned U.S. military equipment is a dangerous underestimation of their true strength, which lies in a highly developed and extremely sophisticated propaganda system that encompasses everything from the Internet and social media to religious lectures and the provision of social services in occupied areas.   In order to accomplish their long-term goals, ISIS needs to establish political legitimacy in areas under their control, as well as the surrounding region. What better way to do this than by painting the United States as crusading infidels, and themselves as steadfast defenders of Islam? American intervention is the propaganda boon ISIS has been waiting for; their understanding of our national psyche and the relationship between the military-industrial complex and our lawmakers has made it easy for them to lead us into a conflict that we would otherwise prefer to ignore.
It is for this reason that I think striking back against ISIS will actually make them stronger, rather than weaker. If things get too hot for them, then they can always withdraw their forces and resort to less-conventional tactics such as suicide bombings and political assassinations until American war-weariness forces a reduction in the U.S. military presence.
If this is really the case, then the American people are now faced with a dilemma. Although powerful, ISIS currently poses only a limited regional threat, but if allowed to grow unchecked, it could soon possess the capability to threaten U.S. allies in a region that is already plagued by political instability. But at the same time, U.S. military involvement could provide an even greater political victory for the Islamic State, one that may cause moderate Muslims to align more closely with the group. Make no mistake, the destruction of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria should be one of our top foreign policy goals. But the administration's strategy as it stands represents a step backward in what may very well become a protracted counterinsurgency campaign.
In an interview published in Esquire (conducted by his son, of all people; presumably no one else could be bothered) Gene Simmons went on yet another self-righteous rant making apocalyptic claims about the "death" of rock music by means of... you guessed it, file sharing. Ignoring the fact that no one should rightly give a shit what Simmons thinks given that his only claim to fame is fronting a band that, were it not for its over-the-top theatrics and ridiculous costumes, would have wallowed in obscurity as yet another mediocre glam rock act, even the most casual observer can plainly see that music is still thriving even though treating it as a commodity is becoming less and less viable as a business model. 

I don't use the term "rock" music because--and this is due to the the proliferation of the Internet, rather than in spite of it--music has diversified to the point that such genetic terms as "rock music" have been rendered meaningless. Correct me if I'm wrong, but back in Simmons' heyday (which arguably ended long before most of us were even born), if a music act wanted to make it big, they had to, at one point or another, sign a contract with a multi-million dollar record label trading away their heart, soul, and firstborn in exchange for a few years of fame and fortune, most of which went to the label rather than the musicians themselves. This was rock music as Gene Simmons remembers it. Now that the old system is dying a slow, painful, and petulant death, being replaced by new one represented by systems of distributed patronage (Kickstarter, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, I could go on...), those who are unable to adapt to changes in the industry are playing the dirge of their favorite cash cow.

So yeah, maybe rock music is dead. But that's not a bad thing, because the rock music that Gene Simmons knew sucked like a ten-pound leech, and has since been replaced by a new kind of music that is written and played for its own sake, rather than as a money-making scheme designed to enrich a handful of Hollywood twats who could give two shits about the people who are buying it. 
  • Mood: Distracted
  • Listening to: Matchbox 20
  • Reading: A Fault in Our Stars
  • Playing: Grand Theft Auto V
  • Eating: Ramen
  • Drinking: Bohemia
I confiscated a straight razor from a student today. I was standing right there in front of her when she took out a compact mirror and opened it, and the thing fell out onto the desk. It looked shiny and new except for a thin strip of dried blood that ran along the edge of the blade and almost looked like rust unless you were up close. It wasn't until after she picked it up and put it away that I told her she needed to hand it over to me. I was calm about it. I didn't want to make a scene because it was the middle of study period and her friends were right there next to us. At first she refused, but quickly relented when I threatened to tell an assistant principal that she had it. 

I ended up telling him anyway. I mean, I pretty much had to. The girl has a history of self-harm. I know. I've seen the scars. She doesn't always make much of an attempt to hide them. Some days, she actually wears short sleeves. I handed him the razor and told him who had it; he didn't seem the least bit surprised or shocked, just said that he'd probably put it in a plastic bag or something. 

Shit... have I washed my hands since then...?

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S. Marley
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
I'm a bum with a bachelor's in middle level education, resident of the bottomless pit that separates college from meaningful employment. I wrote quite a bit in high school, but it was mediocre at best. I'm trying to get back into writing fiction after having taken a break over the past few years.
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:iconwhisperingheart5:
WhisperingHeart5 Featured By Owner Edited Oct 24, 2014  New member Hobbyist General Artist
Thnx for the watch! And for the fav!
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:iconmoreven:
Moreven Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2014  New member Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey thanks for the watch!
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:iconhopesick:
Hopesick Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
No problem! I love your Rick and Morty comics. Keep 'em coming!
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:iconpsychotic-cookie:
psychotic-cookie Featured By Owner May 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hello dearest new watcher! :la:
Thank you so much. :la:
I'll watch back and hope to see more encounters with you. :la:
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:iconbibliosmith:
Bibliosmith Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2014  Professional Writer
Thanks for the fave.
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:iconmeadowlarkmender:
MeadowlarkMender Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hey Spencer, I like your new DA.
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:iconeuropatoplovsky:
EuropaToplovsky Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014  Professional General Artist
Spasibo for fav-ing Auto-plog, droog.
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:iconkurt-jarram:
Kurt-Jarram Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the watch. I was starting to think no one was interested. Much appreciated :)
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