CHESTER HAS MOVED!: de Atkine | Why Arabs Lose Wars

Thursday, December 23, 2004

de Atkine | Why Arabs Lose Wars

Thanks to an Alert Reader for posting this in the comments section: de Atkine | Why Arabs Lose Wars. Haven't read yet, but looks promising.


Blogger DaveK said...

Great link!

The article is spot-on, and applies not only to military issues, but commercial/industrial/scientific practices as well. I worked for several years in Saudi Arabia, and I saw all of these cultural roadblocks at work in their petrochemiocal sector. They want the best industrial processes in the world, but seem to care little about really knowing how they work.

The ones who get their hands dirty are virtually all the imported labor workers. Western engineers are commonly employed as senior "expert" technicians, simply because nobody local can do the job. Graduates of Saudi universities are ill-prepared for industrial work and often have to be retrained (by foreigners) in order to be effective employees. And when you send someone away for special training, especially a long and costly program, you are not likely to see any of the knowledge from that training spread to others.

And, yes, the attitude about safety and maintenance is, frankly, awful. Stupid accidents happen, and are then repeated. The most basic safety procedures are commonly ignored. No Saudi manager wants to let it be known that there might be a serious safety problem in his organization, so the problems are ignored or buried. It really gives you pause when you think about the aging infrastructure when you live downwind of huge petrochemical facilities.

I could go on...


December 23, 2004 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger fathom said...

While regular arab armies are culturaly set up to fail. An irregular army, by the same cultural nuances, might be predisposed to success.

When one talks about tight family trust structures defining all aspects of life, you're talking about people that will not turn eachother in and social units that are impossible to penetrate intelligence wise making it easy for fighters to "melt away".

When one talks about the ability to commit a lot of information to memory your talking about a consistent replication of information across a network of individuals. One type of valuable info for an irregular soldier to have commited to memory would be how to build an IED or schedules of military supply convoys.

When one talks about the great lengths these folks will go through to maintain regimental heirarchies in such trivial situations such as taking a test you're talking about an innate respect for a command structure. This kind of thing can come in handy when the ranks of an irregular army do not have a lot of exposure to those who are leading them (such is the nature of an underground network). They are naturally averse to challenging their leadership in those long stints away from leadership.

And the lacking ability to think individually is a wonderful trait in an irregular army when it comes to following orders without question and limited contact with leadership. It only takes a couple of free thinkers to discover an effective tactic. What that article describes as natural arabic tendencies makes it easier to spread, memorize, and replicate that tactic to great effect. A few free thinkers with a legion of "robots" there to do their bidding can be a dangerous thing.

December 23, 2004 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Brian H said...

You're welcome!

Fathom, I can sort of see that, except that all you can grow in a mushroom farm is lots of mushrooms. There are lots of cases coming to light in Fallujah and elsewhere about disillusioned lower-level cannon fodder types rejecting the crap they were fed to get them fighting after discovering how their "leaders" did a bugout as soon as the going got tough.

December 23, 2004 at 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arab regimes classify virtually everything vaguely military. Information the U.S. military routinely publishes (about promotions, transfers, names of unit commanders, and unit designations) is top secret in Arabic-speaking countries.Perhaps persisting attitudes like this are contributing to the lack of information about Iraqi forces? More generally, do you have an opinion about how successful US/UK/Western trainers can be (or are being) at changing things in the present Iraqi situation?

December 24, 2004 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger USMC_Vet said...

Wow. Could de Atkine have possibly been more spot-on?

Information hording, social gap between enlisted and officer ranks, over-centralization of decision making and information...he hit on all of these with one simple word:


There just isn't any within Arab militaries and therefor no unit cohesion. No 'esprit de corps'. No pride of service.

No victories either as a result.

That was a great article written with the authority of a lifetime of observation and interaction.

December 25, 2004 at 11:21 PM  
Blogger Gindy said...

This article is a great find.

December 26, 2004 at 11:56 PM  

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