February 22, 2007

Whack-a-Mole and Seal-a-Hole Redux

Hatched by Dafydd

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 Whack-a-Mole: we drive the terrorists (Sunni or Shiite) out of one spot; they pop up somewhere else. But in reality, we have been playing a different game for a long time now... and the president's new strategic change of course has just made that game a lot more likely to succeed.

I quote myself... and heavens, is there anything we of the chattering class like better?

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.

It's interesting to note that murders in Baghdad have dropped markedly, and attacks are drifting outwards, as Baghdad proper becomes a harder and harder target. StrategyPage notes that, despite all the hullaballoo about suicide car bombings, the actual murder rate in Baghdad has plummeted by more than 70% since the president's strategic change of course began. (Hat tip to the Victory Caucus):

Despite the jump in terrorist bombings in the last few days, the death toll in Baghdad, since the security operations began two weeks ago, has declined by over 70 percent.... American intelligence analysts have also used predictive software to analyze terrorist attacks and movements, and determined the best places to put the new checkpoints, and what to look for....

It will take several months before it is known who won the Battle of Baghdad. It's all a matter of crime rates. If the murder rate comes down, you've won. Actually, the murder rate has come down over the last year, but not enough to become news. Eliminating the suicide car bombings would be a real victory, as these operations are largely for the media. Militarily they mean much less than the gun battles between police and terrorist (Sunni or Shia) gangs, or the raids on terrorist safe houses. At this point, the Sunni Arabs are fighting a media war. On the ground, they have lost. But until the media confirms this, they can keep it up.

Remember -- we're only a couple of weeks into the plan, and we have only augmented our forces by a single brigade (with four more to enter March through May). Besides sending in more troops, we have:

  • Changed the rules of engagement (ROEs);
  • Redeployed our forces into a more aggressive posture;
  • Buddied-up with both Iraqi Army and Iraqi National Police units;
  • Ended "catch and release";
  • And secured political backing from Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (authorization to go after Sunni and Shia with equal fervor).

We've already whacked a number of moles: we killed quite a few, captured others, and drove a lot of very big moles right out of the country (such as Muqtada Sadr, Iranian puppet, and his top lieutenants). Now we're busily sealing the holes.

Let's give the new strategy some time, for goodness' sake.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 22, 2007, at the time of 6:06 PM

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Whack-a-Mole and Seal-a-Hole Redux:

» A post about Iraq I wish I had written from Right Thoughts...not right wing, just right.

Dafydd at Big Lizards discussing the oft-made Iraq as a game of Whack-A-Mole issue and how that is only half of the story. We've already whacked a number of moles: we killed quite a few, captured others, and drove a lot of very big ...

[Read More]

Tracked on February 23, 2007 1:59 PM

» Seal A Hole... from Snooper
...as to Whack A Mole...LOL!!!"...The key to success is staying power. The always incisive Daffyd ab-Hugh has a good read on this dynamic. Counterinsurgency in Iraq has often been compared to a game of whack-a-mole -- secure an area, only to have th [Read More]

Tracked on February 24, 2007 10:13 AM

» AP Quantizes Counterinsurgency Success from Big Lizards
Grudgingly -- peevishly -- truculently, the Associated Press has started to report figures that show us just how successful Lt.Gen. David Petraeus' counterinsurgency has been so far: Figures compiled by the AP from Iraqi police reports show that 1,586 ... [Read More]

Tracked on April 13, 2007 4:37 PM

» Michael Yon’s first person singular reportage on the Baquba aftermath, dated today from Pros and Cons
The link will follow, but first, some background. As regular readers of this space know, Baquba is a town heavily involved in one of the battles (Arrowhead Ripper - see also here and here) of the belts (see also here, here, here and here) around Bagh... [Read More]

Tracked on July 6, 2007 8:22 AM


The following hissed in response by: Big D

In you analogy there is one more item. The remaining moles can sometimes work together and manage to push even a well stuck hammer out. The solution? Wack those moles again, this time extra hard. Or change the rules of engagement - in this much abused analogy rip the machine open and pull the guts out. Or simply unplug it.

Then of course you have the "tsk" person standing nearby saying "you know, you'll never get all those moles. So why bother? I'm bored. Say, did you hear about Anna Nicole?"

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2007 8:48 AM

The following hissed in response by: JimK

For some reason I can't trackback to you, so...ping!

My post is titled "A post about Iraq I wish I had written" in reference to yours, of course.

The above hissed in response by: JimK [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2007 3:59 PM

The following hissed in response by: exDemo

Has it ever dawned on you that thejihadsi produced the election Tet offesnive jsut befroe the American elections as th eVC did in 1968?

They have much more limited abilities so their micro-Tet offesnive wasn't all that spectacular.

But its location was well chosen, Baghdad, And not some media uncovered dusty village. The jetset Mediots showe up in Iraq for a week. They never leave the Bghdad hotel in "Greenland" but they can hear the explosions and see the smoke wailing sirens, and ambulances. Thats their "coverage".

It worked. Just as the VC version did.

The above hissed in response by: exDemo [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2007 6:16 PM

The following hissed in response by: cdquarles


Sure it has. The enemy is playing from the same playbook because our local aiders and abetters, aka the drive by dinosaur Left Wing Media and their willing accomplices in the (Socialist) Democrat party are also playing from that dusty old 60's Vietnam War playbook. And just as the Tet offensive failed militarily, the jihadi's one is also failing militarily. Our problem is our loony Left and its major media propaganda organs.

The above hissed in response by: cdquarles [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 3, 2007 7:46 PM

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