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Sunday, November 06, 2005

I've seen better organised riot responses.

The riots which began in the suburbs of Paris and have now spread cause the most remarkable puzzlement about what to do. John Aravosis writes "Tough call for what the government does next. What do you do when people are rioting and torching buildings and cars? Sit down and talk? Shoot?" Which I translate as "damned if I know," since he is no more likely to advocate shooting rioters than to conclude that what is needed is a good heart to heart chat.

I remember what seems to me to have been an adequate response to a riot back in Washington DC in 1968. The riot was triggered by the murder of Martin Luther King Jr.
DC was then directly governed by president Johnson who did what he did best and sent in the troops. 30,000 of them every one of whom was very happy to go to DC and not Vietnam. There was one other difference. They weren't given bullets. The idea is that 30,000 people in uniform are enough to stop a riot. As I recall it worked. Bit odd to see a soldier on every street corner in lilly White North West Washington, but the riot ended without bloodshed (ok with the usual daily level of bloodshed for DC).

I'd just add that I think it is best to take away the guns too. The approach then was to bluff, an unloaded m16 is pretty scary. Assault rifles are also valuable and roughly the last thing you want rioters to get their hands on.

I would send in huge numbers of regular army troops without guns. Now I understand that the current French rioters have better wheels than 60s era US rioters and are rushing around in cars and on mopeds. This is a problem. Also with regard to targets they seem to have very catholic tastes, being willing to burn cars and not focused on looting high value merchandise. Still it's the best plan I can think of.

By the way, I have seen better organised riots too. In 68 DC rioters looted and burned White owned stores but not African American owned stores. African American store owners indicated their race by writing "soul brother" on the window. So soon did European American store owners. One really disturbing event is that, in some cases, someone told the rioters about this.

The French rioters would have no need for stool pidgeons (or goats blood on lintels). If someone wrote "I am an arab" in legible arabic on his car, they would have no reason to be concerned that he might be a non Arab Frenchman faking it. One good thing about the French riots is that non riotering, Arabic speaking French people seem to be unwilling to put their car ahead of their concience (so far).

1 comment:

Hans said...

problem is: these are young french citizens of immigrant descent who cannot read no arab. Your way of thinking leads directly to the next Iraq ;-)