Friday - December 08, 2006

Category Image David, Goliath, OODA Loops, and Pomeranians

It's not my fault. My seventh and eighth grades were in a school that combined grades seven through twelve. The school was small enough that the PE class included those from all grades. In seventh grade I was well under 100 pounds, well under five feet tall. It's not my fault, that's just the luck of the draw.

But I had to play football and other sports with men who were over six foot, and who knows how much they weighed. The big problem is that those men weren't really men, they still had the minds of boys, and not always as civilized as one could hope, especially if you're the tiniest person in the class hoping that they remain civilized that day.

I was smart enough not to get into a lot of fights, and usually the biggest guys didn't give me the time of day, but there were exceptions. I learned, kind of by accident, a fairly effective method of countering a guy who was much, much bigger than me.

If the guy started to grapple with me, I had a few options. I could run away, provoking a desire for him to do it again in the future, or I could confront him. Confronting him in the traditional sense was no good. The old line about bullies being afraid you'll fight back is bunk. They're not usually afraid if they outweigh you by more than twice your own body weight, and it is virtually impossible to hurt them in the accepted manner of punching them, particularly if you can't even reach their nose! I found only one way that kind of worked, and I tried it out of sheer desperation.

When a guy started messing with me and I couldn't avoid his harrassment, I would close with him instead of running away. Normally, this is not a good strategy, but stand-off weapons aren't allowed in school, and I had few other choices. Punching didn't hurt him, I was too small. My only thought was that if I poked his eyes, then that would hurt, but I had to get to his eyes first.

And that's how I discovered my new strategy. I jumped up while he tried to wrestle me and climbed up on his shoulders. I got as high up on his body as I could, and tried my best to unbalance him. I learned that seventy pounds on the head of a 180 pound boy is often more than they can handle -- especially when that seventy pounds is trying as hard as he can to claw at him, choke him, and throw him off balance. Once I got him off his feet, his bullying buddies laughed and guffawed at him, and I went on my way, unmolested any further for at least that day.

I was only able to use this strategy a few times, but it was usually pretty effective.

There is one situation where it does not work. It only works if the other guy doesn't really mean to permanently hurt me. If he really intended to hurt me badly, then this strategy was disastrous. Rather than recoil in shock and retreat, a truly intentional antagonist would simply be more ruthless, and if I had closed to within arm's reach, he could inflict a lot more pain than I could.

The tired old political realists that helped prolong our cold war with the USSR have been pulled out of retirement. They're nice guys, I'm sure, and they are watching as Iran, the puny 70 pound scrappers, climb up on the loftier ideologies of our powerful nation and are clawing and choking us. Unlike my gym class bullies, this time the bigger guy is the good guy. There are two choices for us, the Good Goliaths. We can get ruthless with our antagonists, or we can recoil in shock and retreat. The Fabulous Baker Boys are recommending retreat even though we have disproportionate power in every way, morally, economically, militarily, and politically. Rather than countering their desperate move with effective violence, they would have us shamefully stop fighting in earnest.

Iran declared war on us in 1979. They are provoking us continuously. When we initially invaded Iraq, they were horrified. Almost four years later, they've learned that we're not serious. They are taking advantage of our lack of resolve, throwing us off balance, tying down our military in Iraq, knowing we lack the will to take steps sufficient to stop them.

While our tacticians in Iraq spout doctrine about OODA loops and COIN, Iran is creating fear and horror among Iraqis that is more comparable to 1930's Spain than it is popularly thought to be like Viet Nam. Iran has us doing OODA loops, and we are very effective at turning tighter, reacting quicker than the enemy. The Rumsfeldian method of fighting war on the cheap with light forces isn't working.

But unless we do something to stop the source of the enemy's power, Iran and its theocracy, our OODA loops look less like brilliant tight turns and more like spinning in place. Iran is making our generals look like circus dogs, like little Pomeranians spinning in tight circles, with a happy grin on their faces while the Persian Lion has gotten loose and is eating the lion tamer.

We need to put our lap dogs back in their hutches, and let loose the dogs of war, mastiffs and pit bulls, and throw Iran off our shoulders and hurt them.

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