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Car Talk

In another excellent column about Iraq, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman quotes Harvard prez Larry Summers: "In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car."

Although neatniks might quibble with the veracity of that observation (I confess, I've cleaned out several days of Subway cups and bags in my rentals), Friedman and Summers are definitely onto something. If Iraqis feel a sense of ownership in rebuilding Iraq (or, more accurately, building it from scratch, says Freidman), they'll be more invested in the outcome than if the U.S. military simply does the job for them.

This is one of the universal truths in organizational change. If people participate in and contribute to remaking the organization themselves, the mission becomes personal. They — rather than outside consultants or new management — help drive (pun intended) the transformation. And their efforts improve the odds of having one clean car.

Although there are obviously no easy answers in Iraq, this isn't a bad guiding philosophy.

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  • FTN

    I stumbled across the below article after hearing about the "Nazi
    Werewolf's" during the C-SPAN show "National Security Adviser
    Condoleeza Rice at NABJ 28th Annual Convention (08/07/2003)"

    I did a Google search for "nazi werewolf"

    Seems like there might be a parallel between the current Iraq
    occupation and the occupation of Nazi Germany fifty-some years ago.

    Minutemen of the Third Reich.(history of the Nazi Werewolf guerilla
    Author/s: Perry Biddiscombe
    Issue: Oct, 2000

    AS WORRIES INCREASE about neo-Nazi and skinhead violence in Germany
    [Luke Comment: And perhaps Iraq today?], it is worth remembering that
    this type of terrorism is a nasty constant in the history of the
    German radical-right. A case in point is the Nazi Werewolf guerrilla
    movement founded by Heinrich Himmler in 1044 [Luke comment: typo?
    1944?], which fought the occupying forces of Britain, America and
    Russia until at least 1047 [Luke comment: typo? 1947?].

    The Werewolves were originally organised by the SS and the Hitler
    Youth as a diversionary operation on the fringes of the Third Reich,
    which were occupied by the Western Allies and the Soviets in the
    autumn of 1944. Some 5,000 -- 6,000 recruits were raised by the winter
    of 1944-45, but numbers rose considerably in the following spring when
    the Nazi Party and the Propaganda Ministry launched a popular call to
    arms, beseeching everybody in the occupied areas -- even women and
    children -- to launch themselves upon the enemy. In typical Nazi
    fashion, this expansion was not co-ordinated by the relevant bodies,
    which were instead involved in a bureaucratic war among themselves
    over control of the project. The result was that the movement
    functioned on two largely unrelated levels: the first as a real force
    of specially trained SS, Hitler Youth and Nazi Party guerrillas; the
    second as an outlet for casual violence by fanatics.

    The Werewolves specialised in ambushes and sniping, and took the lives
    of many Allied and Soviet soldiers and officers -- perhaps even that
    of the first Soviet commandant of Berlin, General N.E. Berzarin, who
    was rumoured to have been waylaid in Charlottenburg during an incident
    in June 1945. Buildings housing Allied and Soviet staffs were
    favourite targets for Werewolf bombings; an explosion in the Bremen
    police headquarters, also in June 1945, killed five Americans and
    thirty-nine Germans. Techniques for harassing the occupiers were given
    widespread publicity through Werewolf leaflets and radio propaganda,
    and long after May 1945 the sabotage methods promoted by the
    Werewolves were still being used against the occupying powers.

    Although the Werewolves originally limited themselves to guerrilla
    warfare with the invading armies, they soon began to undertake
    scorched-earth measures and vigilante actions against German
    `collaborators' or `defeatists'. They damaged Germany's economic
    infrastructure, already battered by Allied bombing and ground
    fighting, and tried to prevent anything of value from falling into
    enemy hands. Attempts to blow up factories, power plants or waterworks
    occasionally provoked melees between Werewolves and desperate German
    workers trying to save the physical basis of their employment,
    particularly in the Ruhr and Upper Silesia.

    Several sprees of vandalism through stocks of art and antiques, stored
    by the Berlin Museum in a flak tower at Friedrichshain, caused
    millions of dollars worth of damage and cultural losses of inestimable
    value. In addition, vigilante attacks caused the deaths of a number of
    small-town mayors and, in late March 1945, a Werewolf paratroop squad
    assassinated the Lord Mayor of Aachen, Dr Franz Oppenhoff, probably
    the most prominent German statesman to have emerged in the occupied
    fringes over the winter of 1944-45. This spate of killings, part of a
    larger Nazi terror campaign that consumed the Third Reich after the
    failed anti-Hitler putsch of July 20th, 1944, can be interpreted as a
    psychological retreat back into opposition, even while Nazi leaders
    were still clinging to their last few months of power.

    More details here