Thursday, June 28, 2007

Batiste: Stop conflating 'insurgents' & al Qa'eda - they are not the same thing

Major General John Batiste, appearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday had some strong words for this feckless administration and the inept, criminally incompetent way they have prosecuted the war in Iraq.

He is at least as furious as I am at the rebranding effort underway (the MBA presidency has all the characteristics of a failed enterprise), by the administrations spin doctors to paint all insurgents who oppose the occupation of their country by the U.S. military with the “al Qa’eda” brush.

Watch it – and remember that there is a sound gap for a few seconds on either side of the minute mark. It does lose the audio for a couple of seconds, but the part I want you to hear is loud, clear and strong.

For what it’ worth, I do not play along with the administrations message framers, and I never have. Instead, I use some variation of the more intellectually honest term jihadist. While all al Qa’eda are jihadists, not all jihadists are al Qa’eda.

The tendency to blur the lines between insurgent groups was addressed at length in the white paper Rethinking Counterinsurgency by Dr. Stephen Metz that was summarized here a few weeks ago. Dr. Metz warns against the tendency to engage in this deception. It inevitably strengthens the standing of those you desire to defeat, in reality, in the perception of the public and inevitably in the minds of the counterinsurgency forces that are battling against them.

The General is absolutely correct. None of us should sleep well at night.