I’ve thought a bit more about the whole strategy of the weak thing. In some sense, actually, the DoD’s analysis is reasonably on-target. The analogy here is to think of the US as a bully: we’re the biggest, strongest kid in the school, and we have no compunctions about beating up people who are substantially less powerful than us (in various ways, not necessarily strictly militarily ones) if we can see short-term benefits in that.

And, of course, it’s natural for a bully to dismiss those less powerful people who won’t meet him on his own terms as “the weak”. There are various strategies that weaker kids can employ against bullies: banding together with other kids (international fora), telling the teacher (judicial processes), or feeding antifreeze to their dogs (terrorism). From this point of view, the DoD’s analysis actually looks pretty good, though the tone could use some work.

But there’s still a serious problem: it says “a strategy of the weak”, not “strategies of the weak”. And this linkage doesn’t work in the real world or in the analogy: the kid feeding antifreeze to the dog is not the kid telling the teacher, and if Osama bin Laden is complaining to the International Criminal Court, I haven’t heard about it. Pretending that these are all part of one strategy is, well, obscene.

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