What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The asymmetrical moment

Over the weekend I saw the trailer of one of the old Indiana Jones movies again, as a Hungarian TV channel decided to screen it again. And I knew I had to look up this scene on You Tube, which I was reminded of. It's such a good illustration of what asymmetrical warfare is like and what it stems from. Here's the video so you can get the idea yourself. But I'll add my observations below it.
Indiana Jones fights very asymmetrically. Good to remember when considering who has gone asymmetrical first, for example in the fight in Afghanistan with the Taliban. Of course it was the SFs and the allied indigenous boots, with all the air above them.
How is Jones' asymmetrical approach to the fight perceived? In the film you see some people making bets. Some of them are likely to be happy with the result of the fight, if they bet on Jones. They get their money. It doesn't matter for them that Jones fought not with his whip but with a gun. Would this be the case in a war of ideas, when CAS takes the life of young militants from the Muslim street?
Context doesn't matter that much, that's the problem. Don't even start explaining that Jones in that scene has much more important concerns than having a bloody fight testing his whip against the other guy's sword. I know. The crowd won't care so much as you would like.
If someone from the wider audience - including those who weren't there at the fight, but saw it on TV, or just heard about it from someone - decides to take revenge on Indiana Jones or anyone else from Indiana Jones' country, will he be likely to try with the sword again? Of course not. Jones is much more likely to run into some alley ambush in which he is about to face an Improvised Stabbing Device.

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