September 15, 2006

Whack-a-Mole -- or Seal-a-Hole?

Hatched by Dafydd

The antique media is infamous for burying the lede: not understanding the real point of a story -- or else not wanting us to understand it! -- and instead hiding it deep within the article, where they know few eyes dare to scan (the eyes usually wandering off after the first two or three paragraphs of wretched writing).

In this case, an AP article focuses on a new tactic of digging trenches around Baghdad. The trench idea is interesting and probably smart; anything that makes it tougher for bad guys to creep like moles in the night into Baghdad can't help but be good for the war effort.

But AP lets slip a far more important point 22 paragraphs (out of 31) into the article: that Operation Together Forward, while being the worst-named operation in recent military history (which is saying a lot), designed to clear Baghdad of sectarian militia murders, is in fact working literally like gangbusters:

Both the Bush administration and military have said sectarian killings and violence are surging around Iraq and in the capital, although the military has said the attacks are limited to parts of Baghdad not yet included in the security operation.

In other words, it's working great in those areas where it has been used; and the violence is only spiking in areas that have not yet been subjected to the house-to-house searches and interrogations by the Iraqi Army and National Police and the American soldiers and Marines.

I later confirmed this unsourced claim by referring to a CENTCOM release:

This approach appears to be working in the focus areas, where violence is down, [Army spokesman Maj. Gen. William] Caldwell said.

However, he acknowledged that violence in other parts of Baghdad experienced a “spike” yesterday and noted that terrorist death squads “are clearly targeting civilians outside the focus areas.”

“Overall, Baghdad’s level of sectarian violence has been reduced,” he said, “but remains above the levels of violence we saw before the Golden Mosque bombing in Samarra in late February.”

It's glib and easy to say, "gee, there's still violence in Baghdad -- nothing has changed -- the war is a failure -- let's declare defeat and head home." In fact, that pretty much describes the Democratic Party's “Real Security Act of 2006.” Alas, even some Republican jellyfish, such as Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT, 20%) have wriggled aboard that bandwagon.

Shays doesn't entirely buy the Democratic defeatism; he does not advocate the Democratic position of cutting and running, for example. But the central conceit for all the defeatists is that, "since January of this year there has been no progress," as Shays claims.>

Fortunately, this position is nonsense on stilts.

If you see somebody playing a game where he keeps whacking plastic moles on the head with a mallet over and over again for hours, it would be easy to conclude he's playing Whack-a-Mole. In that game, the moles pop up again and again from the same holes; every time you whack one, it goes down, only to be resurrected moments later.

But when you look closer, you discovered that every time the player whacks a mole, the mallet stays stuck in the hole, permanently blocking it. The player grabs a new mallet and whacks the next one, sealing off another hole. You notice that the moles never come popping up through the sealed holes, only through the holes that are still open... and you also notice that there are a finite number of holes -- and the player is rapidly sealing them up.

This is a new game called Seal-a-Hole, and it has a very different dynamic from Whack-a-Mole: the normal game is one of futility; the game continues until the player gets tired and quits or he runs out of money. But Seal-a-Hole actually has a victory point: when all the holes are sealed, the game is over -- and the player, America, has won.

Even though Seal-a-Hole is not futile, it nevertheless requires a great deal of patience; there are many, many holes, and each hole has a mole who must be whacked. Some of the holes, such as Sadr City, are very big and will require many mallets to properly seal. But if we have the courage and fortitude of our American forebears, we will seal those holes... and we will win.

Like all analogies, this one doesn't "prove" anything. But I hope it gives you a different perspective from which to view the actual evidence of success emanating from the penumbra of Baghdad.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 15, 2006, at the time of 4:47 PM

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» Whack-a-Mole and Seal-a-Hole Redux from Big Lizards
I already used this analogy before; but there's nothing wrong with it and no reason not to trot it out again for another spin around the park. So there. Defeatists often portray the Iraq war as an elaborate game of... [Read More]

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The following hissed in response by: RBMN

One of the reasons that I'm not too worried about the 2008 election, is that 90% of those who served in Iraq will be back home by then, out of the service, and able to get involved in politics. I think for them, anger at people on the left who gave them no credit for their work, or for their intelligence, is going to draw them into political activism. They'll remember who their friends (on the right) were, and they'll certainly remember who slandered them over and over for cheap political points. If being in Iraq teaches you anything, it teaches you who your friends are.

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 7:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: nberio

Must of been a Democrap what named this here Operation Forward Together. Sounds like something they'd come up with anyways. I'm very disappointed in the Bush Admin. I hope they outsourced, the naming I mean.

The above hissed in response by: nberio [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 8:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: Robert Schwartz

Didn't the Turtles have a song called: "Operation Forward Together"?

The above hissed in response by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 10:23 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I did catch this too in the reports. They kept saying the violence was spiking in the areas where the security forces had not yet been. I am sure the militias will just keep moving around, the thing is to make it more and more difficult for them to do that until the attacks are few and far between.

It does seem to me however, that overall the attacks are down. There have been the awful cases of the death squad attacks here lately, but we are not seeing the huge and coordinated attacks like we were.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2006 3:59 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Solution: Muqtada Sadr must die. The Mahdi Militia must be cut to ribbons. If Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani tells us to give o'er, this time we have to say "No."

Sadr must die, and the militia must be so damaged they flee and refuse to return.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2006 4:21 AM

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