Thursday, December 03, 2020

What's The Opposite Of Coup?

 Among the tribes of the plains, counting coup was the way war was measured. Not body count. In those days, acts of bravery were the way Native American warriors brought prestige and honor to their efforts. The most honored action was touching the enemy with your hand or coup stick and escaping unharmed. Counting coup could also involve stealing an enemy's weapons or horses tied up to his lodge in camp. Risk of injury or death was required to count coup. Escaping unharmed while counting coup was considered a higher honor than being wounded in the attempt. Risking death and injury was the point. Leaving your enemy dead was not.

Not really a surprise that this form of warfare has lost favor in the nuclear age. A culture that would invent neutron bombs, the ones that kill people but leave buildings standing seems to have little use for coup. Turning back the clock on the weapons clock, one might guess that castles and catapults and the science of the siege probably had a lot to do with the way things turned out in Europe. "Death from above" is almost certainly a concept pioneered before the advent of airplanes. 

Native American warriors were not involved in the assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist last week. Security officials in Iran reported that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed by a remote-controlled machine gun mounted atop a truck. This is the sort of thing that one might expect from Walther White, but not the Lakota. After the hit on Fakhrizadeh was complete, the Nissan truck exploded. The entire attack lasted three minutes. Interestingly,  another account of the killing circulating in Iranian media is that Fakhrizadeh was killed by a team of twelve assassins who were part of a sixty-two person hit squad. I assume this somehow pumps up the honor quotient, compared to the robot machine gun story. 

Which is what we are left with in a world that conducts its war via remote control. Try and imagine an Israeli commando rushing out of a crowd, touching Fakhrizadeh on the shoulder, then rushing back to his comrades to recount the glory. 

For that matter, try to imagine the battles with those tribes of the plains had they taken place under their terms. Imagine that a war could be won based on honor and courage. 

Not by remote control. 

1 comment:

Kristen Caven said...

I love this. It gives us more adapt to the idea of war games. What if I really were a game, one with honor and real winning? Because in a war that involves slaughtering innocents, which all wars do now, there is no honor. There is no innocence for anyone.