Saturday, September 27, 2014

Iran, Mao and the Oceanic Whitetip

The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea

Mao Zedong

Mao’s sea analogy has rarely been more useful. Facing the Islamic State’s deliberate chaos, public interest in counter-terrorism is soaring. But Mao’s insurgency quote reminds us that terrorists operate in a political ecosystem. It offers further analogies for terrorist strategy.

The Islamic State, for example, is the bull shark of the sea. Hyper-aggressive and opportunistic, it attacks just about anything that has t,e misfortune of encountering it. The Bull Shark has few limits: hunting prey, it will travel up river systems as well as oceans. In the same way, IS has an insatiable lust for the conquest of new territory and the domination of new lives. In contrast, Iran’s hardliners are the Oceanic Whitetips of the political ecosystem. Lurking far offshore, Whitetips rarely attack beachgoers. Instead, they are patient and calculating, following ships and waiting for their discarded waste. Or their shipwreck. Then the Whitetip strikes. Iran's terrorism strategy is the same. The Whitetip strategy is the philosophy of opportunity from perceived vulnerability.

Ultimately, the only way to deal with oceanic Whitetips is to mitigate one’s vulnerability against them. Just as attracting Whitetips with waste risks disaster, concessions unbound from reciprocal concessions are ludicrous.

1 comment:

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