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thedrifter
03-23-06, 08:16 AM
Terrorists Fight Like Girls
March 22nd, 2006
Sharon Tosi Moore

Anyone who has ever been in a schoolyard can see that boys and girls deal with conflict in diametrically different ways. When boys have a problem with each other, the cause of the feud is usually well known to both parties, and they tend to confront one another directly, often physically. The worst insult a boy can endure is to be told that he fights like a girl. While such battles can be violent, they are also short-lived. The victor often offers his hand and helps the defeated boy from the ground. More often then not, the fight is forgotten within days and the boys resume their friendship as if nothing had ever happened.

Girls, on the other hand, fight more subversive battles. Instead of confronting one another directly, they will wage a covert war by spreading rumors and ostracizing the object of their current anger. Very often, one party has no idea what caused the rift and may not even know that there is a war until she is blindsided by an unexpected attack, usually coming from another girl claiming to be her friend. Girls also tend to hold grudges and feuds can last for an interminable length of time. The attacks are often personal and aimed at emotional vulnerabilities as opposed to physical ones. Any parent of a middle-school age daughter can tell you that the focus of girls in grades 5-8 is to make each other miserable, and they are very good at it.

The Western way of war is rooted in the male style of fighting and is very much the way the United States has dealt with defeated enemies in the past. Confront them directly, hit them hard, and then give them the helping hand to rebuild and become an ally. Warfare has a set of rules, both written and unwritten, and there is the unspoken understanding that both sides will fight “like gentlemen.” An enemy who refuses to fight that way is often viewed as weak and too scared to “come out and fight like men.” In other words, they fight around the edges like girls.

The Global War on Terrorism is just such a war. The vast majority of Westerners, including our governments, had no idea that we have been in this war for decades. What we mistook as harmless rhetoric was really brainwashing of entire generations who were fed lies and propaganda. Despite previous smaller attacks, on 9-11 most Americans were genuinely bewildered that anyone could hate us so much and that anyone would hit us in such a “sneaky” way. Like a girl suddenly shunned by her friends, we weren’t even sure what we had done to raise such ire. Most experts agree that winning this war will require a paradigm shift in how we approach such an enemy. While there is no doubt that we can win the battles while engaged in open warfare, the military is struggling to understand this new enemy’s methods and how to tackle their shadow fighting. It is hard for soldiers brought up in the Western way of war to understand an enemy who refuses to confront them directly. But perhaps the key has been before us all the time. We need only look to the schoolyard and watch girls fight. It is somewhat ironic that a radical Islamic culture, which has so little respect for women, emulates their fighting style.

Western countries are hampered in this type of war since we will never stoop to purposeful targeting of innocents or using religious buildings as shields or targets. Moreover, we cannot follow our mothers’ advice to “ignore bullies and they will leave us alone.” Like most bullies, they will not go away until they get a sound thrashing, after which they will eventually self-destruct. The best thing we can do is to continue our rebuilding efforts, focus on the Iraqis and Afghanis who honestly want to build a better society, destroy the terrorists wherever they dare to show their faces and expose their treachery for the whole world to see.

As they mature, most girls learn to deal with conflict in more open ways. Those that do not find that their deceitful tactics backfire and they are soon ostracized. Girls break off the destructive friendships and concentrate on those that are mutually supportive. We are seeing this right now in Iraq. As terrorists try their best to incite civil war by targeting large groups of innocents, the Iraqis have shown remarkable restraint and have not succumbed to the temptation to target a scapegoat. Similarly, Afghanistan has continued its march towards democracy, shaking off those whole would distract them from this goal.

In both cases the terrorists’ tactics have backfired and turned public support against them. This is a sure sign that Afghanistan and Iraq are maturing. Their resoluteness is not lost on the rest of the Middles East and we are already seeing signs that other countries will follow their examples. Soon the terrorists will find themselves sitting alone at the lunch table wondering where all their “friends” went.

Sharon Tosi Moore is a major in the U.S. Army Reserves. She is co-author of the forthcoming book Fresh from the Fight, and is a doctoral candidate at Leeds University in the U.K. The views expressed are her own.



Ellie