Blowback The unexpected outcome of the unforeseen
"If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack."
Sir Winston Churchill
1. a process in which gases expand or travel in a direction opposite to the usual one, especially through escape of pressure or delayed combustion.
2. (in the U.S.) the unintended adverse results of a political action or situation.
The etymology of the word blowback is very interesting...
According to Wikipedia
"Originally, blowback was CIA internal coinage denoting the unintended, harmful consequences—to friendly populations and military forces—when a given weapon is used beyond its purpose as intended by the party supplying it. Examples include anti-Western religious figures (e.g. Osama bin Laden) who, in due course, attack foe and sponsor; right-wing counter-revolutionaries who sell drugs to their sponsor’s civil populace (see CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US); and banana republic juntas (see Salvadoran Civil War) who kill American reporters or nuns (e.g. Dorothy Kazel).
In formal print usage, the term blowback first appeared in the Clandestine Service History—Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran—November 1952–August 1953, the CIA's internal history of the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, sponsored by the US and UK, which was published in March 1954. Blowback from this operation would indeed occur with the Iranian Revolution and the Iran hostage crisis."
In military readiness the equivalent concept is known as a "wicked problem"... a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.
With regard to the situation unfolding in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris, it is largely a failure to communicate, as the media is hard at work offering facts and opinion do, in a very haphazard manner, with little to no attention given to a problem set that is by no means simple and solvable with sound bytes and popular quips that resonate with what the American public wants to hear. As they love to suggest.
Truth is that we are staring at a wicked problem straight in the face, and of all the things we know with absolute certainty, the most certain is that we should expect blowback regardless of the course of action (COA in military speak). Or in other words... no matter what we do, we should expect branches and sequels to any COA we choose to birth blowback in ways that we are not prepared to react to with actions that will put out fires as we would hope and perhaps even anticipate under normal circumstances.
Those who are plotting against us are banking on blowback to any response we muster to a given attack, and know that the psychological impact of uncertain results of tried and true tactics that have worked before, is more valuable than the impact of hitting targets that are in reality quite small and insignificant when considering the big picture.
I went to the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) 40 years ago, in a different era (the Cold War) which focused on the lessons learned in the last war (Vietnam). Some might think 40 years, a Cold War mentality and training stuck in the jungles of Vietnam would make my opinions outdated and out of touch, but I assure you... I have more to offer than meets the eye with regard to current and relevant opinion about our current state of affairs.
The lessons beat into my head from TACs (Tactical Advisor and Counselor) in the Q Course were various forms of a single theme... do not rely upon the appearance of things being as they should be, being thorough in your reaction to every potential threat; being blind to the fact that you are being approached by a child, a woman or someone who doesn't fit the conventional picture of the enemy. We were taught to be alert and vigilant when on patrol, paying attention to every "hunch" of danger in the knowledge that the subconscious mind oftentimes sees things that our conscious perception of reality, misses.
I believe very strongly that most people can relate to the aforementioned analysis of being aware in potentially dangerous environments, as folks nowadays lack the defensive posture we all take that are based upon political predisposition to side with this political camp or the other. Therefore, my advice to any and all is to try to grasp my point here... we are fighting an enemy who is well aware of how easy it is to strike at our areas of comfort to achieve an effect (fear, primariy).
If you free your mind and refuse to allow yourself to be lulled into a state of complacency by the appearance of security, you will not be shocked when we suffer blows to our peace and sense of security coming from angles we hadn't previously thought possible. My point being that we should expect blowback to every reaction we have to their attacks, and find comfort in your personal sense of awareness that danger may exist and taking steps to protect yourself. Or in other words, thinking about how you will react to actions outside of your control, like where the exits are or staying clear of places that would pose danger if there was a fire.
I am taking my family to a very public event this weekend, and have no concern whatsoever with regard to our personal safety. For starters I will know where every exit is and where we should move in short order if any danger is detected. But more importantly, I know that the odds of bad things happening are extremely low, and my exercise of freedom to enjoy life is a blow to those who want me and my family to cower in fear.
By reading this article you are in much better shape than most Americans who are being consumed with side shows, political fear mongering and ignorance. You now know that we cannot and will not be able to predict where we are hit next, but can be safe so long as you don't rely on assurances from "authorities" who try to make everything safe in every circumstance.
Blowback is real, but you don't have to be afraid. Be brave and you will deprive our enemies of their most coveted prize... terror and affected how we live our lives.
© 2015 Peter Lounsbury - 11/20/15