Friday, August 8, 2014

A Hatfields and McCoys analogy

The Hatfields and McCoys live on a small isolated island. They have been there for 75 years.  There is a fence bisecting the island. The McCoys are content to live and let live. The Hatfields are not, and want to push the McCoys into the sea, or kill them, in order to take their half of the island for themselves. This explains the origin of the fence. Most of the Hatfields’ efforts and riches go to this goal.

The Hatfields have a long term strategy of exhaustion, expecting that the McCoys will eventually leave or give in. As a part of this strategy, they indoctrinate generations in hate of the McCoys, via their schools, literature and media. As a result, most of the Hatfield population has sincere animus toward the McCoys.

Toward their ends, the Hatfields dig tunnels to infiltrate, kidnap and kill McCoys. They also lob missiles across the wall. Each missile launching site is housed in either a school or hospital. The missiles are primitive, but dangerous nevertheless. They do kill injure and destroy property.

The McCoys plug up or destroy tunnels. The McCoys have precision munitions they can deliver into Hatfield territory. They have aircraft as well. They can observe the launching sites. Not wanting to kill children, teachers, patients, doctors and nurses doing their jobs, they warn the Hatfields before they strike these areas. At first, the facilities are vacated by civilians upon receipt of the warnings. The buildings are then leveled by the McCoys.  This leaves the Hatfields with a decreasing number of schools and medical facilities. It also depletes their supply of arms. They take advantage of the former fact to propagandize, paint the McCoys as moral monsters. To preserve arms they modify their practices; now refusing to allow evacuations of threatened facilities. As well, they house launchers in other civilian areas (in and around housing and businesses).  They continue their attacks. At least one missile a day is launched over the course of several years. Often, several a day are fired.

The McCoys now have these options:

1.       Boots on the ground invasion, to better discriminate targets from civilians, leave after eliminating infrastructure/material of present threat.

2.       Similar to #1, but with longer term occupation in order to police the actions of the Hatfields.

3.       Destruction of missile launchers by delivery of precision munitions with the usual warnings.

4.       Because most missiles do not injure or kill they can refrain from acting.

5.       Attempt to arrest or take the leaders of the Hatfields, in the hopes that they can be brought to justice, while also drying up the will to resist by such “decapitation”

6.       Same as 5, substitute killing of the leaders.

For the moment, considering these options in isolation:

In terms of limiting killing of Hatfield civilians, #3 will be the worst option short term, because the civilians will not be evacuated.

In terms of protection of McCoy civilians, #4 is the worst, short and long term.

In terms of eliminating the threat long term #2 is most likely to succeed.

#1, #5 and #6 are not likely to stem the will to attack, so fail as long term solutions. Each may work in the short term to eliminate the present threat or present leadership.

The McCoy government has a moral obligation to eliminate the threat long term. So, it appears it must choose something along the lines of #2.

If it does choose #2, the McCoys can expect the use of human shields to continue, not only in the form presently utilized by the Hatfields, but in ways that will present challenges during house to house fighting. They will be attacked from residences, schools, hospitals, and civilians will be placed in front of fighters, quite literally serving as shields.

Thinking tactically, it may be advisable to undertake 6, while also incapacitating command and control, communications, in the hopes that after that point, absent the coercion, civilians will evacuate targeted areas. Then, the McCoys can employ their precision munitions against the infrastructure and materials of aggression. This would best eliminate the short term threat.  But what about long term success?

Even if this all succeeds, the populace will no doubt sprout new leadership. There is a likely rinse and repeat scenario here that will go on indefinitely. As long as the indoctrination continues, the seedbed for the aggression will be fertile.

This points to the necessity of long term occupation and efforts to exhaust the culture as it is presently constituted.

There are two ways to do this; the hearts and minds approach and the Japanese/German model.

HM: Hearts and minds will try to change the culture by occupying, living amongst the populace, while providing services usually provided by government and civil institutions, showing the Hatfields that the image portrayed by the propaganda is false. There will be efforts to work with local governance; police etc. successful implementation of this strategy will require years before the McCoys can hope to leave having eliminated the threat.

JG: The Japanese/German approach will be a more top-down model, imposing a constitution that disarms the Hatfields and also outlaws anti-McCoy propaganda and activities, while implementing a humane martial law that allows civil society to run, but takes over all the important governmental and regulatory roles from the indigenous.  Over the long term, such capacities will be gradually returned to the Hatfield populace if conditions warrant the trust. This approach will take years as well.

In choosing between these two options we have to ask these questions: What is the depth of the hatred? How effectively has the propaganda worked? Can Hatfield minds be changed in the short term or long term? If so, what method is best? What level of competence for governance is shown by the Hatfields?  Do they have extensive experience in governance, and have they shown competence in it? 

If the brainwashing is deep and effective, the HM approach is not only likely to fail, but puts occupying forces at undue risk. If the governance track record is poor, the HM approach will be more likely to fizzle as the locals will be unable to carry out the functions that are allowed them. These functions will have to be taken over by the occupying McCoys.

In the case of the Hatfields, most of the efforts of the leadership have been put toward the war against the McCoys. Most funds and material have gone into tunnels and weapons. The governance has been inept when considered from the perspective of domestic concerns. They have also shown a willingness to place civilians in harm’s way as a method of first resort. This evidences a fundamental disregard of the basic obligation of government.  This is also evidenced by the propaganda. For, it too, has the effect of placing civilians in harm’s way, and using them, via the manipulation inherent in the propaganda, maneuvering them, into functioning as expendable human shields. The anti-McCoy animus is deep and abiding, having been carefully nurtured over generations. It has this purpose.

All of this points to the best course of action being a long term occupation on the J/G model.

If it is unavoidable, in carrying this out, that civilian Hatfields die in high numbers, this is morally acceptable provided that the casualties are not directly intended, and is no more than are necessary given the nature of the exercise.

Consider the opening phase of the invasion as described just above: There is significant risk that decapitations will either not be complete or, complete but not affect the civilian evacuation rates hoped for and prerequisite to taking out infrastructure as invasion is carried out. They may stay, or be forced to stay in areas that will need to be attacked. This does not obviate the need to eliminate the sources of attack, nor the moral force of the case for invasion and occupation. No one is morally required to endure acts of military aggression over the short or long term, if they have not done something to deserve it. This holds even if protective measures will cause civilian fatalities amongst the aggressors.

An even simpler analogy.

People in house A attack house B with gunfire, and the inhabitants of B cannot approach or enter A to stop the attack without being killed. There is no police force or similar third party that can intervene, or is willing to intervene. (By standing gone berserk.) There are children in A that have nothing to do with the attack. Can B return fire, knowing that its action may kill the children? Yes. It is unreasonable to expect A to simply take it. If B can stop the hail of bullets by firing into A blindly, it can do so, if that is the only available means of defense. This holds if the number of children in A is 5,10 or 100, let alone 1. And, it does not matter if B houses a lesser amount of children or none at all.

If the adults in A have and raise kids for the express purpose of using them as shields, or they import children, using them as shields over and over in repeated attacks on B, B is still not morally obligated to refrain from protecting itself. The fault for the deaths belongs to A. And, no, it does not matter if the by standers vigorously blame B or argue that they are fighting an unjust defense.