This is some weird military studies-influenced thoughts I had on the events in Ferguson tonight that I didn’t know where to put, so here you go.
Even though its what I studied, I always doubted that counter-insurgency style policing would catch on in domestic American usage. Seeing the arc of events in Ferguson has destroyed that however. What is happening in Ferguson is a doctrine of military and police action born in places of remote warfare, and is used to make ways of life threatening to the dominating force submit and exist in ways that only the dominating permits. To see strategy typically applied in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Rio De Janeiro, domestically is terrifying. It suggests that the existence of a frustrated black class in America is no longer just a problem to be excluded and policed, but forced to submit through continual militaristic action and political manipulation.
The political manipulation is not to be neglected to understand what is occurring in Ferguson. Appearances by the Missouri Highway Patrolmen marching alongside protesters and promises of peace after days of violence by the “bad apples” of the Ferguson Police Department are not aberrations in this counter-insurgency strategy, but even more essential than the tear gas and armored vehicles. David Galula, the primary theorist of the strategy said, “In revolutionary warfare, strength must be assessed by the extent of support from the population as measured in terms of political organization at the grass roots. The counterinsurgent reaches a position of strength when his power is embedded in a political organization issuing from, and firmly supported by, the population.” The police and government offered peace, but only by total submission of resistance. Because those in Ferguson did not universally accept the rules of martial law imposed by the police and government, tonight’s brutalities were necessary to give weight to the political offers of the dominating force. Do not think that they have broken their promises of peace, all they were was a political solution to their problem: a movement of resistance that demanded legitimate justice for the murder of Mike Brown. Because this movement did not submit entirely to this political proposition, we see the violence return. I should hope that those in Ferguson continue their struggle, because all that submission to the police offers is empty promises of reform down the road. Right now, they have the momentum and support to continue the fight to bring justice to Mike Brown’s killers, and until the government makes genuine motions towards this, their offers of peace should mean nothing.
Anyone who wants to pursue a more thorough understanding of this strategy and perhaps use it theoretically in understanding events in Ferguson, here are some links to some basic reading.
http://ready4itall.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Counterinsurgency-Warfare-Theory-and-Practice.pdf (David Galula’s essential text)