Cooper & COIN

Cooper, Dr. Helen, and COIN:

Dr. Helen rereads a classic, and worries about whether the values of Colonel Cooper are drowning under "The New Feminized Majority." (An aside -- surely no one wanting a "feminized majority" would have actually titled their book that; no title could have been better calculated to drive off half the populace. One meets cheerful self-described "tomboys" on a regular basis, but one never meets a self-described "feminized male," at least, not in the places I'm accustomed to travel.)

Dr. Helen worries:

Some useful bits of information that Cooper provides is that one must train himself into a state of mind in which the sudden awareness of peril does not surprise him. "His response should be not "Oh my God, I'm in a fight!" but rather, "I thought this might happen and I know what to do about it."

I often think how few people in our society would really know what to do if they were confronted with a mortal confrontation. Sadly, our mindset is now more like The New Feminized Majority in which soft power and discussions are slowly taking the place of the Combat Mind-set.
The key to successful counterinsurgency is being able to move quickly back and forth between these modes. Listen to Megan Ortagus, a young lady from (I gather) Beverly Hills, talking COIN operations with a retired Special Forces Master Sergeant. She says she'd never been to Iraq before and "watched all the good war movies," so she could feel prepared. She likens the Dora Market in Baghdad to Rodeo Drive. She understands what is going on well enough to think about it and discuss it, however. She is able to fulfil her function as a citizen in voting for representatives, and in advising those representatives as to right courses of action.

Jim has been doing COIN since the 1980s. While she talks about "kinetics," he talks about how you have to sit down and "break bread and drink chai," and how you come to see the local population as "friends," and build "relationships" that are the real way you win this kind of war. That is "soft power and discussions" exactly. Yet you do this with a rifle or a pistol or a knife always to hand, always ready to swap gears into the mode Colonel Cooper talks about.

The rest of life is also this way: COIN only shows the division in its best light. A citizen has a duty to resist felony, or to assist other citizens under attack by felons; the power to attempt to effect a citizens arrest, or -- if you lack the capacity -- to gather information to aid the police. A citizenry capable in this way is defense-in-depth against all the evils that man inflicts upon man. Not only crime but terrorism, not only lawbreaking but simple social rudeness can be dealt with by having the mindset Colonel Cooper advocates. This mindset is necessary in all times and places, as its presence in the minds of the citizenry is the surest insurance against the breakdown of the space in which our liberty and peace endure.

But, as the Colonel would have told you himself, there are other things that matter in life: poetry, song, friendship, family. Protecting those things is what the whole mindset is for. And they are the things on which that peace and liberty is built: the Cooper mind wins the space in which you build peace and liberty, but this is how you build it.

Young ladies from Beverly Hills can get that; so can crusty old Master Sergeants. We're richer for every such citizen we add, for every one we train to think in these terms.

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