Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Crucifixion: Key To Counterinsurgency" By Pontius Pilate

(From a report to Tiberius Caesar and the Roman Senate from the Prefect of Judea)

Rome, as we know, is not an empire. Not in the traditional sense.

Our network of military bases and administrative provinces in the eastern region exists with the aim of bringing peace and economic development, as well as protecting civilians from invasion by the Parthians, and securing trade routes from Egypt. Rome is the indispensable nation, and our influence is needed to pacify a troubled area.

In this combat ecosystem we compete for dominance with a variety of state and non-state actors. Ethnic and religious militias, insurgent groups, local authorities, and foreign combatants are each trying to maximize their survivability and marginalize their rivals.

Simply put: This is a war like no other.

To stabilize Judea, Roman authorities will not be able to rely on the same force-against-force tactics we used to destroy Hannibal. Kinetic operations are necessary, but they are only part of our strategy -- which is after all, a counterinsurgency strategy. Its three pillars are security, political stability, and economic growth. And we must build these three pillars in parallel, not in succession. Which brings us to crucifixion.

Crucifixion sends a powerful message to allies and enemies alike that Rome dominates the security environment. At the same time it supports local political institutions like the Sanhedrin. This shows our resolve to eliminate the enemies to peace in coordination with the Judean people. It proves that we are nation-builders and liberators, not conquerors. But that we will use lethal force if necessary. Crucifixion, if implemented properly, is the perfect combination of hard power and soft power.

But how does one execute a successful crucifixion policy? There are clear rules: First, it must conform to local cultural traditions. In Judea, we've had to modify our court schedule to comply with the religious holidays and mores of the people. Second, the Roman military must prove it can police the courts and execution site effectively. The perception of security is everything here. We've decided to create a kind of parade route from the trial to the place of crucifixion as a way of demonstrating that we can clear and hold an important area at our discretion. It is sometimes cruel to the condemned, but it's a necessary price to pay.

Finally and most importantly, Roman officials must hand off authority to the locals. I can't stress how difficult this can sometimes be. Occasionally you see a court render a completely unfair verdict. You might be tempted to intervene in the interests of some kind of vague idea of justice. But you must not. Not if you wish to achieve peace and stability among nations in the Roman Coalition.

This is war. Innocent people die in war. They die at checkpoints and in terrible accidents, and in tragic failures of the chain of command. But the occasional bad verdict is within the range of acceptable losses.

Bringing peace to the world means getting your hands dirty.

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