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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Political Warfare

At Foreign Policy, Jana Winter and Elias Groll report on a May 2017 White House memo titled "POTUS and Political Warfare.  From the memo:
While the attacks on President Trump arise out of political warfare considerations based on non-kinetic lines of effort (as discussed below), they operate in a battle-space prepared, informed and conditioned by cultural Marxist drivers.
This is nuts. In The Art of Political Warfare (University of Oklahoma Press, 2000), I explain how political figures ranging from Robert Michels to Gary Hart to Lee Atwater have borrowed ideas from the military.   The "political warfare" metaphor, I argue, is extremely useful -- provided that we remember that it a metaphor and not a literal description.  The closing chapter of the book starts with an epigraph from Robert Frost:
All metaphor breaks down somewhere. That is the beauty of it. It is touch and go with the metaphor, and until you have lived with it long enough you don’t know when it is going. 
 I discuss the techniques that armed forces use to break down resistance against killing.
The key is to depict the enemy not as a fully rounded human being but as an evil force who deserves attack, or at least as a mere target whose fate is unimportant. Political figures rarely go that far in "dehumanizing" opponents, and they should not, lest they provoke actual violence.