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AdamG
01-07-2011, 01:55 AM
Pivotal websites of the Tunisian government have been hacked by pro-Wikileaks activists. Sites belonging to the Ministry of Industry and the Tunisian Stock Exchange were both targeted by the Anonymous group since Monday.
Five other key government sites have also been attacked or defaced because of the "outrageous level of censorship" the Tunisian government enforces. Anonymous have also targeted the websites of the Zimbabwean government recently after Robert Mugabe's wife Grace sued a Zimbabwean newspaper for $15m over its reporting of a diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks. The cable had linked Mrs Mugabe wealth to the country's diamond mines. The attacks also hit Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF political party's website.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/302161#ixzz1AJIiu9sW



Thousands of Tunisians have taken to the streets in recent weeks to call for extensive economic and social change in their country.

Among the fundamental changes the protesters have been demanding is an end to the government's repressive online censorship regime and freedom of expression.

That battle is taking place not just on the country's streets, but in internet forums, blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.

The Tunisian authorities have allegedly carried out targeted "phishing" operations: stealing users passwords to spy on them and eradicate online criticism. Websites on both sides have been hacked.

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/01/20111614145839362.html

AdamG
01-12-2011, 09:56 PM
The battles between Tunisian youth and the government are now being fought on the internet, as much as on the streets of the controlled North African country.

While activists accuse the authorities of hacking into e-mails, blogs and Facebook accounts, some are fighting back, launching cyberattacks against government websites in the same way that supporters of WikiLeaks had done last month.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4a18b4d6-1da9-11e0-aa88-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1ArQ5nVJC

In this latest update, The Tech Herald will address the newest developments in Tunisia. The original story will start on page three. The first update can be found on page two.

http://www.thetechherald.com/article.php/201101/6639/Anonymous-offers-support-to-Tunisian-protestors-Update-2

tequila
01-13-2011, 10:31 PM
The Tunisian government begins (http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/01/13/tunisia.protests/)to crack (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/14/world/africa/14tunisia.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=print).


HAMMAMET, Tunisia — The police on Thursday all but abandoned this exclusive Mediterranean beach town — haven to the capital’s rich and powerful — as rioters calling for the ouster of Tunisia’s authoritarian president swarmed the streets, torched bank offices and ransacked a mansion belonging to one of his relatives.

In the fourth week of protests sweeping Tunisia, violence escalated in the capital, Tunis, as well, where late in the afternoon crowds defied tanks and machine guns deployed around the central boulevards. Witnesses said several were killed, adding to a death toll already in the dozens. There were reports that a general strike had been called for Friday.

In a possible sign of divisions in the government, the Tunisian military withdrew from the capital later Thursday and interior security forces took their place in the streets. In the evening, the president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, delivered a televised address in which he announced major concessions, saying that he had ordered some food prices cut and hinting that he would not run for re-election, The Associated Press reported.

The president fires his interior minister (http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/01/2011112123527251937.html).

Successful police states don't appease demonstrators - they crush them, as in Iran. The Tunisian security forces don't appear to have the vicious brutality of the Iranian regime.

The first successful 'color revolution' in the Arab world?

Brian Whitaker (http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2011/blog1101b.htm) and Arabist.net (http://www.arabist.net/) are providing excellent coverage in English, though I'd imagine our French and Arabic-speaking boarders have even better sources available.

AdamG
01-14-2011, 03:17 AM
President Ben Ali gave a hastily scheduled televised address on Thursday night, his second in the past week, and this time he appeared rattled. He no longer blamed foreign terrorists or vowed to crack down on protesters. Instead, he pledged to give in to many of the protesters’ demands, including an end to the government’s notoriously tight censorship, but rejecting calls for an immediate end to his 23-year rule.

“I am telling you I understand you, yes, I understand you,” Mr. Ben Ali, 74, declared. “And I decided: total freedom for the media with all its channels and no shutting down Internet sites and rejecting any form of monitoring of it.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/14/world/africa/14tunisia.html?_r=2&hp

From two days ago

Jobless youths in Tunisia riot using Facebook


And what has helped to break the barrier of fear that kept Tunisian anger bottled up for so long? Social networks like Facebook, which have helped organize protests and fuel online rage across this North African nation.

Police have fired repeatedly on protesters. The government says 23 people have died in the riots — 21 in the last three days — but unions and witnesses say at least 46 have died. In the town of Kasserine, site of the bloodiest confrontation, police were reported to have killed a man carrying the coffin of a child.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110111/ap_on_hi_te/af_tunisia_riots_4

AdamG
01-14-2011, 06:11 PM
Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has left the country, amid the worst unrest there in decades. The Arabic language network al-Jazeera says the speaker of parliament is temporarily in charge.

The president was reported to have boarded a flight out of the country Friday evening local time. The military had sealed off the airport and closed Tunisian airspace a short time beforehand.

A state of emergency was also declared earlier Friday, with public gatherings banned and security forces authorized to shoot violators.

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Tunisian-President-Dismisses-Government-Amid-Protests-113607609.html

AdamG
01-14-2011, 09:13 PM
Did Wikileaks and Twitter Cause Tunisia's Revolution?
http://gawker.com/5733816/did-wikileaks-and-twitter-cause-tunisias-revolution

The First WikiLeaks Revolution?
http://wikileaks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/13/wikileaks_and_the_tunisia_protests

ANONYMOUS on Tunisia, beginning of January
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFLaBRk9wY0

davidbfpo
01-14-2011, 09:40 PM
After the rapid change of government I have amended the thread title and moved it to a different area i.e. geographical. The title was: ANONYMOUS vs. the Tunisian Government in the Media arena.

davidbfpo
01-14-2011, 09:48 PM
Two very different articles - before - the change of governance. The first opens with:
In the end one never knows why it is that social conditions erupt into revolt. More often than not they do not. But still, there are a number of factors which might explain the current unprecedented protests.

Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/rob-prince/tunisia-yezzi-fock-it%E2%80%99s-enough

The second is rather more polemical, if not outrageous and starts:
Abolkacim Ashabi once wrote, "If the people one day decide to live, fate must answer and the chains must break." Bouazizi’s martyrdom may have triggered a popular revival, many now believe, which will ensure that it is only a matter of time before Ashabi’s prophecy is fulfilled.

Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/dyab-abou-jahjah/tunisia-moment-of-destiny-for-tunisian-people-and-beyond

davidbfpo
01-14-2011, 09:55 PM
The BBC, which has a reporter there, has reasonable coverage:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12195025

Note the reporter's comment on the prospects:
The protesters have put their bodies on the line, and many people have been killed. Tonight, they ignored the curfew to celebrate on the streets. At the end of a dramatic day, President Ben Ali fled, no longer able to hold back the growing tide of public discontent and anger with his regime. Now, the protesters will want to see the fruits of their demonstrations. They won't settle for meagre reform, they won't settle for the same elite remaining in power. They're very happy that the president has gone, but they don't like the regime that surrounded him, and they'll want his cronies out as well.

What I noticed watching the latest newsreel is that those on the streets were not the youth.

davidbfpo
01-15-2011, 12:01 PM
An academic expert adds:
Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali came to power in 1987 through a constitutional coup and he appears to have been removed from power through a constitutional coup. The key here on both occasions was not the constitution but the army.

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12197343

Bob's World
01-15-2011, 12:37 PM
This is an event that people should take note of. Expect to see far more "Cyber Insurgency" in the future. Expect to see "Cyber UW" as well. It's a bold new world, and it will not be long until the realization that cyber insurgency is more effective, less offensive to the global community, and safer to implement than many of the more violent tactics employed historically.

violent tactics place the pain on a nations security forces, cyber tactics take the pain to the whole of government and the entire populace. The former can be ignored or downplayed for years, but the latter must be contended with immediately.

slapout9
01-15-2011, 12:58 PM
This is an event that people should take note of. Expect to see far more "Cyber Insurgency" in the future. Expect to see "Cyber UW" as well. It's a bold new world, and it will not be long until the realization that cyber insurgency is more effective, less offensive to the global community, and safer to implement than many of the more violent tactics employed historically.

violent tactics place the pain on a nations security forces, cyber tactics take the pain to the whole of government and the entire populace. The former can be ignored or downplayed for years, but the latter must be contended with immediately.

I agree, it deals with mobilizing the population on a mass scale in real time, something that used to take a lot more time and energy to do in the past. I disagree from the stand point that it will only be non-violent, it could be used violently also and probably will.

Bob's World
01-15-2011, 01:25 PM
I don't think I said it would "only be non-violent." There will always be violence in insurgency, it is human nature. Non-violent tactics are historically more effective, but require a degree of understanding, a strength of leadership and discipline that are rare.

As in the past, there will typically be a mix of violent and non-violent tactics in insurgency. My point is that cyber opens up a new domain to conduct insurgency within, and it is one that favors the insurgent. It is also a domain that favors the wager of unconventional war as well.

Just as any fat, middle-aged perv can easily pass himself off as a beautiful teenage girl on line; so too can a carefully selected team pass themself off as disgruntled local revolutionary. "Take your team to Lagos and conduct UW" is a damn hard mission. "Build a team and go to the computer lab to conduct UW in Lagos" is also difficult, but much more feasible with far lower consequences, nationally and personally, for failure.

slapout9
01-15-2011, 02:06 PM
Bob, it is some scary stuff. In Colonel Warden's original article the Enemy Is A System he talked about how in the future whole wars would be fought and won or lost in the Info-Sphere(now called cyber-space). No more foreign boots on the ground.... but platforms in the hands.

davidbfpo
01-15-2011, 06:26 PM
An expert comment on this aspect:
In a string of Arab countries, succession issues loom as ageing autocrats confront the unmet aspirations of their youthful and rapidly growing populations. Mohamed Bouazizi's life and death sum up the condition of the Arab world today.

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12198039

Note the side reference to riots in Algeria, which I've seen no reporting on; not that the UK media watch the region closely and Tunisia only as it was relatively open and a winter holiday destination.

Bob's World
01-15-2011, 08:38 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/world/africa/16tunis.html?_r=2&ref=global-home


David,

Actually many states where conditions of insurgency are high, but where no organized violent movement as pressed hard, could well follow this example of Cyber insurgency.

Think how many Arab states that the West considers as allies are described by this quote from your article David links to in the post above:

"For decades, Western governments depicted Tunisia as an oasis of calm and economic success - a place they could do business with.

They turned a blind eye to President Ben Ali's harsh suppression of dissent - and ignored the fact that, while the elite prospered, ordinary Tunisians suffered.""

In fact, those European (which have much lower levels of conditions of insurgency than the majority of Arab states where AQ has enjoyed in roads) states where there have been flashes of uprisings, should be alert to this possibility as well. The car burnings in Paris, the assault on the Royals in England, etc. Cyber insurgency is a powerful, safe, and effective way to act out in escalation of such precursor events.

Bill Moore
01-15-2011, 11:06 PM
Posted by Bob's World,
This is an event that people should take note of. Expect to see far more "Cyber Insurgency" in the future. Expect to see "Cyber UW" as well. It's a bold new world, and it will not be long until the realization that cyber insurgency is more effective, less offensive to the global community, and safer to implement than many of the more violent tactics employed historically.

The power to rapidly mobilize various groups and individuals via the internet became apparent during the WTO conference in Seattle in 1999, and subsequent WTO events like the one in Genova, Italy resulted in the same type of mass mobilization.

Iran had its twitter revolution recently, but it failed, why? It is much to early to assume this uprising in Tunisa has been successful, since it now appears that military is actually in charge of the government (with a puppet civilian representative as the spokesperson in an attempt to present a veil of legitimacy). The various activists had a common cause, which was to force the President out of office, but now what? One hopes they'll resolve this situation peacefully, but the stage is set for much more violence if a popularly accepted leader is not identified.

It would be a mistake to think that groups of like minded activist couldn't mobilize populations prior to the internet. It happened in Poland with Solidarity and it happened in China during when the movement was crushed during the Tiananment Square event. However, the internet is a powerful tool that "significantly" enhances the ability of like minded people to plan and organize remotely in real time. You can be there without being there.


"For decades, Western governments depicted Tunisia as an oasis of calm and economic success - a place they could do business with.''

I'm not sure what government leaders the author quoted, but when I visited Tunisa around 10 years ago the tension with the population was palapable, and it was recognized by USG officials as a potential time bomb, but there did seem to be the belief that the government effectively squashed any real opposition before it could cause much trouble. Hard to do that when the trouble is wide spread and near spontaneous.

tequila
01-15-2011, 11:13 PM
The Wikileaks cables regarding Tunisia are here (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/217138).

Fuchs
01-15-2011, 11:20 PM
As far as I know the events started with a tiny tragedy that ignited the powder keg. It takes no internet or special software to do this - it's not unlike what happened in East Europe around '90.

The regime was old, it was hollowed out, brittle, and it disintegrated once challenged on the streets.

It seems to me to be over-the-top ego-centricism to think that topics that attracted our attention recently were relevant in this case.

Rex Brynen
01-16-2011, 01:21 AM
The regime was old, it was hollowed out, brittle, and it disintegrated once challenged on the streets.

It is also worth pointing out that the regime is still in power. Certainly Ben Ali isn't. However the ruling party (RCD) and the military are. It wasn't just the street demonstrations that forced the President to resign: it was also the decision by those around him to withdraw their support in the hopes of maintaining the status quo.

We'll see what happens. It is entirely possible that the interim RCD-led government will collapse, or have to make major concessions. It is possible that the elections will bring to power genuine (but currently very disorganized) opposition voices.

It is also possible, however, that the RCD will still find a way to survive this, with a face-lift, a new leader, and some political and economic compromises--or that we'll see even more direct military intervention in politics.

Bill Moore
01-16-2011, 03:55 AM
Tequila, thanks for the link, it is good to know this crisis wasn't a surprise to our diplomats, nor would have it have been a surprise 10 years ago. The conditions were set, it just required a catalyst.

Bill Moore
01-16-2011, 09:31 AM
Posted by Fuchs,


As far as I know the events started with a tiny tragedy that ignited the powder keg. It takes no internet or special software to do this - it's not unlike what happened in East Europe around '90.

After reviewing all the links I have to agree there is little evidence that the internet played a significant. The comments on Wikileaks appears to be mere speculation. The tension has been mounting for many years, and while it isn't clear what elevated it to this level, I haven't seen any evidence that the internet media contributed in a major way. Maybe in time we will.

Anonymous seems to believe that he/she is making a major contribution to the uprising, but I see limited posts on his/her site, and the one I did see from Tunsia said his/her contributions weren't helpful. While I'm confident the internet is being used to coordinate, mobilize, and garner global support (perhaps unintentionally), there is no evidence presented yet that it has played a significant role like it did during the Seattle WTO chaos.

I think the bigger questions now that need to be asked are what does this mean to region at large? Will it prompt citizens in other Arab countries with oppressive governments to raise up? Will this present new challenges or opportunities to the extremists? Since the uprising appears to be mostly unorganized, who will assume the new leadership role in Tunsia? If it is the military, will anything really change?

Bob's World
01-16-2011, 11:44 AM
It's not that cyber insurgency played a major part, it is that it was an intentional line of operations in this movement.

Tanks didn't play a major part in WWI, but the value was identified and the usage grew.

I do absolutely concur that when the conditions of insurgency are high enough, that even if all active resistance is effectively suppressed by the government, with the right catalyst things can move quickly and dramatically. This was certainly the case in Eastern Europe (though the emerging information age played a key role in unifying the populaces of several countries to dare to challenge Soviet dominion there as well); is certainly the case in Tunisia; and I contend is the case in many other Arab countries that US has supportive relationships with the governments of.

It would not be surprising at all, if the broader populace bases of these countries abandoned the "help" that AQ offers as too radical and too violent, and instead seeks other less violent and more effective means to achieve changes of governance that they have no legal venue to affect. The US needs to get in front of this, or run the risk of seeing much of our influence in such nations being set out on the curb along with the existing government when such changes occur. This this goes to the central theory in the two papers I published on Populace-Centric Engagement (here on SWJ) and Populace-Centric Foreign Policy (on World Politics Review) a couple years ago.

davidbfpo
01-16-2011, 12:12 PM
I too am sceptical about the impact of modern media on this street campaign and am less certain about its impact on the governing elite / army. Someone I am sure can attest to the penetration of new media in Tunisia; how many people have mobile phones, use the web, use Twitter etc?

Link to BBC comment on media:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12180954

Nor should we overlook the original catalyst, the student trader who burnt himself and that the President visited his bedside before he died. When he did that all Tunisians knew what the student had done. Was the visit a mistake I do not know.

Newsreel in crisis situations is a snapshot and as I posted before it was the age groups involved that indicated to me a mass movement had appeared. Yesterday I noted pictures of women and not one wearing a head scarf.

What will be the impact of Tunisia? An Arab writes:http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/mohammed-hussainy/messages-from-tunisia

Under 'Why the Jasmine Revolution won't bloom' a press comment, with a superb joke, after the link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/tunisia/8261961/Tunisia-Why-the-Jasmine-Revolution-wont-bloom.html


Some joked that Mr Ben Ali, whose plane into exile was refused permission to land in a repentant France before heading east to Saudi Arabia, dropped in first on Mr Mubarak’s seaside home in Sharm el Sheikh. “Come to stay?” Mr Mubarak asks. “No, come to pick you up,” replies Mr Ben Ali.

AdamG
01-16-2011, 01:17 PM
Posted by Fuchs,
Anonymous seems to believe that he/she is making a major contribution to the uprising, but I see limited posts on his/her site, and the one I did see from Tunsia said his/her contributions weren't helpful. While I'm confident the internet is being used to coordinate, mobilize, and garner global support (perhaps unintentionally), there is no evidence presented yet that it has played a significant role like it did during the Seattle WTO chaos.


ANONYMOUS is not an individual.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_%28group%29

I don't have a dog in this fight, either way. Just making sure there's clarity.

*
In Tunisia, social media are main source of news about protests

Despite strict censorship, protesters, aided by activists outside the country, are using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online media to mobilize and spread information.

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/15/business/la-fi-tunisia-internet-20110115

Rex Brynen
01-16-2011, 02:05 PM
I too am sceptical about the impact of modern media on this street campaign and am less certain about its impact on the governing elite / army. Someone I am sure can attest to the penetration of new media in Tunisia; how many people have mobile phones, use the web, use Twitter etc?

Mobile phones (and SMS) are ubiquitous: 9.8 million in a country with a population of 10.6 million. There are an estimated 3.5 million internet users.

Facebook is heavily used, and Youtube (+ cellphone video) was quite common during the protests. Twitter isn't much used.

I think the new media played a role, but they were hardly transformative. Sidi Bouzid, where the initial incident took place--is only 280km from the capital. The first protests in the capital weren't until January 12, or 25 days after the initial disturbances. That's an average speed of 460m per hour. You could walk faster than that ;)

Bill Moore
01-16-2011, 06:46 PM
Posted by Bob's World,


The US needs to get in front of this, or run the risk of seeing much of our influence in such nations being set out on the curb along with the existing government when such changes occur.

Bob we are in agreement, and to some extent we did this during the Cold War with Voice of America (probably by far our greatest weapon during that time period), but now and then we also pursued adjusted our foreign policy based on perceived pragmatism. Personally I would prefer to see a values based foreign policy, but I'm not sure how realistic that is. At heart I'm still very much a De Oppresso Liber person, and if people are striving to be liberated and need assistance I think we should be there in some form whether it is simply moral support (which the President came the Tunisian people) or physical assistance. That differs significantly from occupying a nation and trying to force democracy upon them. That is an oppressive form of democracy, not a democracy that arises from the will of the people.

Rex, I appreciate the insights on the forms of media being used in Tunisa and their influence. I have to admit I was surprised that it was so prevelant. I'm getting read to Groundswell by Li and Bernoff soon (finally getting to my Christmas present), which hopefully will help enlighten me further on how social technologies are transforming the world.

David, enjoyed the joke in the article, just wish it wasn't a joke! In many ways modern Islamic Extremism can be traced back to Egypt, and the extremist ideology there was/is stroked by an oppressive government. Of course the million dollar question is if the oppressive government fell, would a liberal and progressive society prevail, or would the Islamists who are already organized prevail?

Kevin23
01-16-2011, 07:07 PM
The effects of the Tunisian crisis are being felt elsewhere in the region in the form of speculation mainly as these articles point out. And like mentioned above by other posters.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/15/AR2011011503141.html

http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2011/blog1101b.htm#trouble_in_libya

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110116/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_mideast_tunisia

AdamG
01-17-2011, 03:04 PM
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) - Tunisian authorities struggled to restore order Sunday, arresting the top presidential security chief and trying to stop gunfights that erupted in and beyond the capital. One clash broke out around the deposed president's palace on the Mediterranean shore, another near the headquarters of the main opposition party.

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20110116/D9KPL3I80.html

ANONYMOUS defines itself
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkDgOEz6wGM

AdamG
01-17-2011, 03:13 PM
The effects of the Tunisian crisis are being felt elsewhere in the region in the form of speculation mainly as these articles point out. And like mentioned above by other posters.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/15/AR2011011503141.html

http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2011/blog1101b.htm#trouble_in_libya

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110116/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_mideast_tunisia

Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the furthest ripples in the pond.
http://www.scmagazineus.com/hired-guns-cyberwar-psyops-part-1/article/194087/

Bob's World
01-19-2011, 02:34 PM
Just keeping this thread elevated. These events in Tunisia offer the West their best opportunity in years to make true progress against Islamist terrorism.

Will we step up to champion the populace of Tunisia in their quest for greater liberty, a new Parliament, a new constitution, and an new future? To pursue Self-Determination and life, liberty and happiness on their own terms. Or will we reinforced the failures of the exiled regime and attempt to "enforce the rule of law" and return it to power?

"Ben Ali was considered a U.S. ally for cracking down on Islamic extremism, which included jailing militants and forcing opposition politicians into exile, such as Rashid Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party."

This is exactly what I have been warning against. We are enabling guys like this to have an open season on oppressing their own populaces in the name of "counterterrorism." Tunisia is just one of many countries where this is true. This is the problem with intel-driven strategy. Intel guys look for threats to governments, they don't look for how the governments themselves are in fact the threat. To conduct security force capacity building in such countries only makes these governments more effective as suppressing their populaces. We have gotten off track, but it is not too late to recover.

The President's comment on this topic from the 14th:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/14/statement-president-events-tunisia

A subtle note to Mubarak buried in this conversation with the president yesterday:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/18/readout-presidents-call-president-mubarak-egypt

Will this be like a Hungary 1956, or a Hungary 1988? Or somewhere in between? Will this be put down, or will it ripple across the despotic regimes of the Middle East, rolling them back much as Communism and the Soviets were rolled back in Eastern Europe?

This is what opportunity looks like.

Graycap
01-20-2011, 12:49 PM
These events in Tunisia offer the West their best opportunity in years to make true progress against Islamist terrorism.



Strongly concur. But with very low expectations.

These opportunities could be very real especially for Europe. Europe could demonstrate that an intermediate way between american style in ecporting democracy (Lebanon, Iraq ecc...) and the chinese cinic approach could exist.


We have big emigrated communities to leverage and to use like informal communication channel. We are at their borders with econic ties.

In 15 years we could have our "tunisians" to oppose to islamist "afghans" in the battle for hearts and minds in the streets of arab cities.

But if we read the declarations of our politicians doubts arise. The italian foreign relations minister praised Lybia as an example two days ago...
Lybia that probably will be the first source of destabilization for Tunisia.

'Nuff said

Bob's World
01-20-2011, 01:52 PM
Politicians and diplomats think in terms of governments and officials; but this is about nations and populaces. If Western governments are able to make this mental shift, to prioritize the health of nations and the welfare of populaces over the alliances they make with the governments and officials who exercise authority over the same, we can move forward. If they cannot, then we are doomed to continue to support some of the most despotic regimes in the world, while continuing to incentivize these restless populaces to listen to AQ and continue their attacks until we yield in that support.

I recommend we take the initiative, and disempower AQ in the process. Libya is a great example, as Qaddafi's son is on record as a much more moderate leader than his father. Now is the perfect time to sit with Qadaffi and recommend that he nip the growing unrest in his nation in the bud by taking control of the situation while the situation is still within his control. Shift leadership to his son and open talks with his people regarding reasonable governmental reforms. Egypt, with its nearing election similarly can get in front of this if it chooses.

This is also an opportunity to recalibrate Western CT programs and security force capacity building programs in these nations. Such intel-driven, threat-centric efforts have served to enable these Arab leaders to continue to act with impunity toward their own populaces, rolling up nationalist subversives in the name of "counterterrorism."

We have allowed Bin Laden and AQ to become the champion of the people, while we have settled deeper into our Cold War role as the protector and the enabler of these oppressive regimes. I wish I could sugar coat our role over the past few decades, but I don't see how.

This is very much like how the information age empowered the people of Eastern Europe to stand up to the Soviets in the late 80s and early 90s; and we supported them in their efforts to find self-determination and liberty free from Soviet oppression. We need only provide the same type of support to the similarly situated populaces of the Arab world today. If we opt instead to weigh in on the side of the status quo, on the side of continued support and Enablement of these despotic regimes, we will only delay the inevitable, and increase the risks to our populaces at home of terrorist attacks.

I believe the President has the right instincts on this, but he will need support from principled men and women on both sides of the aisle. If the "Good Cold Warriors" and Oil interest lackeys prevail, it will be an opportunity lost.

slapout9
01-20-2011, 03:29 PM
Politicians and diplomats think in terms of governments and officials; but this is about nations and populaces. If Western governments are able to make this mental shift, to prioritize the health of nations and the welfare of populaces over the alliances they make with the governments and officials who exercise authority over the same, we can move forward. If they cannot, then we are doomed to continue to support some of the most despotic regimes in the world, while continuing to incentivize these restless populaces to listen to AQ and continue their attacks until we yield in that support.



You said a mouthful there. When Nations combine economic engineering and ASCOPE you going to see very dramatic power shifts. Big Dinosaurs and going to be left wondering what happened.

Dayuhan
01-21-2011, 02:12 AM
Will we step up to champion the populace of Tunisia in their quest for greater liberty, a new Parliament, a new constitution, and an new future? To pursue Self-Determination and life, liberty and happiness on their own terms. Or will we reinforced the failures of the exiled regime and attempt to "enforce the rule of law" and return it to power?

Or will we mind our own business and let them sort it out on their own, unless our assistance is specifically requested by someone with a credible claim to represent the populace?


Libya is a great example, as Qaddafi's son is on record as a much more moderate leader than his father. Now is the perfect time to sit with Qadaffi and recommend that he nip the growing unrest in his nation in the bud by taking control of the situation while the situation is still within his control. Shift leadership to his son and open talks with his people regarding reasonable governmental reforms.

What makes you think that Qaddafi would pay any attention to unsolicited American advice on management of domestic policy? Not like we have any special influence there.


This is also an opportunity to recalibrate Western CT programs and security force capacity building programs in these nations. Such intel-driven, threat-centric efforts have served to enable these Arab leaders to continue to act with impunity toward their own populaces, rolling up nationalist subversives in the name of "counterterrorism."

We're not "enabling" anything. These guys would roll up and roll over their opponents no matter what we do and no matter what we think. It's what they do, it's what they've always done. We can't stop them and they don't need our help.


We have allowed Bin Laden and AQ to become the champion of the people, while we have settled deeper into our Cold War role as the protector and the enabler of these oppressive regimes.

Who says bin Laden is the champion of the people? What people, and where? Sure, people are willing to support bin Laden as long as he's fighting the good fight against foreign intruders in Muslim lands somewhere far away, but I don't see any populace anywhere that sees bin Laden as their champion against their own government.


We need only provide the same type of support to the similarly situated populaces of the Arab world today. If we opt instead to weigh in on the side of the status quo, on the side of continued support and Enablement of these despotic regimes, we will only delay the inevitable, and increase the risks to our populaces at home of terrorist attacks.

Or maybe we need to back off and stop messing in other people's affairs on either side of the fence. It's not a choice between supporting the despot or supporting the populace... we don't have to interfere at all. Do we have any reason to believe that these populaces want us messing around in their internal affairs?

Bob's World
01-21-2011, 11:18 AM
We did it your way during the Clinton Administration Dayuhan.

Flush with Cold War and Gulf War victory, we didn't have to meddle in any of this messiness, we could down size our security forces, focus on domestic policies, and turn the "peace dividend" into a balanced budget.

Life was good, for us anyways. What we did not take into account was that the world had lost the tremendous balancing, and tempering effect of two superpowers waging a global competition for influence. One would wage a little UW, the other would counter. Most situations never got too out of control. Suddenly the Soviets weren't showing up, and then the Americans stopped showing up as well. Once everyone else realized this, those out of government who wanted power, or justice, or liberty started jockeying for position. Similarly those in government, many with no true writ of popular sovereignty, began ratcheting up the populace control measures. Rwanda? Not our problem, no national interests at stake. Only when the NGO/Media uproar became deafening did we respond a situation that had descended into genocide. The Balkans were the same. This is what too often happens when popular movements break the bonds of oppression. Old grudges get settled, little guys get crushed. Just ask the French about the late 1700s.

What you recommend is a return to the failed "hobby diplomacy" of the Clinton era, and it sounds good, but it isn't. I completely agree that we have no duty and no right to tell others what values to adopt, or what form of government, or any of a dozen other areas where too often we fail to mind our business. But I disagree adamantly that we have no duty to stand up for the little guy, to show up in such places and establish clear parameters as to the degree/nature of violence that is tolerable in such upheavals, to deter genocide rather than merely respond to the same. To actually be the nation we like to see ourselves as. Standing for broad concepts such as Self Determination, equality, Justice and Liberty. But that's just me.

Why have we not rushed a Marine Amphibious ship to the Med to simply sit, clearly visible on the horizon off of Tunis? If this were a flood in Bangladesh, or a Tsunami in Indonesia the Marines would rush to the scene as a sign of what great people the US is composed of. Or if this were an Embassy hostage situation, or a violent insurgent uprising. Nothing wrong with showing up for any of those things, but why not this?? A little bit of symbolism here and now could tip our entire GWOT effort toward victory. But only if one understands that CT and Capacity building aimed at the symptoms of GWOT, and that a clear sign of support to the oppressed populaces of the Arab world strikes directly at the heart of the problem.

We can not simply fall back into fortress America, plug our ears and cover our eyes to the sounds and sights of misery rising from those oppressed by state and non-state actors alike, and simply enjoy being #1. It's a model that history tells us fails every time. We must stay engaged, and the more moral and selfless our engagement is, the more influence we will build and the longer our status will endure. Protecting despots is equally as damaging as ignoring genocide. We need to find a balance point for the world we live in today, much as we had a balance point in the Cold War; and we are no where near that balance point yet.

Ken White
01-21-2011, 05:37 PM
What you recommend is a return to the failed "hobby diplomacy" of the Clinton era, and it sounds good, but it isn't.Hobby diplomacy? Good term for a guy and era that saw the launching of explosives against four sovereign states and started the US on the road to its current world place as the Big Bully...

However, that's an aside. This:
I completely agree that we have no duty and no right to tell others what values to adopt, or what form of government, or any of a dozen other areas where too often we fail to mind our business. But I disagree adamantly that we have no duty to stand up for the little guy, to show up in such places and establish clear parameters as to the degree/nature of violence that is tolerable in such upheavals, to deter genocide rather than merely respond to the same.is the dichotomy. How does one have no right and no duty to tell others what values to adopt and yet have a "duty to stand up for the little guy, to show up in such places and establish clear parameters as to the degree/nature of violence that is tolerable in such upheavals." You say we will not tell others what values to adopt and then turn right around and say we must stand up for the little guy and we will not tolerate certain actions. One cannot do what you suggest. Either you do not dictate or you do.

I have asked the same question of you several times and you have yet to answer that. Further, you say:
To actually be the nation we like to see ourselves as. Standing for broad concepts such as Self Determination, equality, Justice and Liberty. But that's just me.As I've said many times in one way or another, it's not just you -- but those are almost certainly minority views. I have asked how you intend to persuade the majority -- and particularly the public policy makers -- to go along with your vision. You have not answered that, either...

So I again ask that two-fold question: How do you reconcile allowing self determination and forcefully standing up for the little guy? How do you convince those who oppose or do not support your policy ideas to become supporters and implement the policies?

Bob's World
01-21-2011, 06:55 PM
A.

It is a mix of message and presence. Sit down and work this out, Negotiate. If you can't negotiate, then the US or someone will come in and mediate. If you can't mediate, then the US or the UN or someone will come in and Arbitrate. Currently we tend to dictate. All of this is basic contract law, basic dispute resolution. The parties need to work out the terms, and there are always guidelines based on fundamental concepts of equity that set the parameters of such negotiations. It's the same way we enforce the rule of law at home. This is why we don't have gunfights at high noon in main street, or bigger and stronger people running roughshod over the smaller and weaker.

There is a wide range of "acceptable" solutions; our problem is that we tend to neck it down to a narrow range of what is acceptable to us. Once a program is developed, then for example, the spokes people for the populace movement or the interim government in Tunisia could be requesting a neutral stand off security presence and a mediation team to come in and help move the process forward in a fashion that builds trust and helps avoid excess violence.

B. As to "how": I write things, I speak to people in positions of influence in and out of government, etc. Its a process. Most everyone appreciates that the status quo is not appropriate, and that things are changing. No one has "the" answer, to definitely include myself. I throw things I think about out to the SWC 'draw fire' and to facilitate refinement. I essentially conduct a mix of UW, law, and other tricks of various trades.

Sometimes its a bit glacier, but things are moving.

Ken White
01-21-2011, 10:16 PM
I knew that...:D

Always a good answer though -- and it does indeed. Which is why I keep suggesting to you not to try to oversimplify things. That's just as bad as or possibly worse than overcomplicating them.
A.

It is a mix of message and presence. Sit down and work this out, Negotiate. If you can't negotiate, then the US or someone will come in and mediate. If you can't mediate, then the US or the UN or someone will come in and Arbitrate. Currently we tend to dictate...Still sounds to me as though some dictation is involved. "The US or someone WILL...
There is a wide range of "acceptable" solutions; our problem is that we tend to neck it down to a narrow range of what is acceptable to us.Exactly -- and that last, to whom it is acceptable -- is where your problem lies and the reason I keep tossing cautionary Grenades...

Not least because
...the spokes people for the populace movement or the interim government in Tunisia could be requesting a neutral stand off security presence and a mediation team to come in and help move the process forward in a fashion that builds trust and helps avoid excess violence.The appearance of an afloat MAGTF offshore is likely to cause more ripples of discontent than of relief. Regardless of the announced reason, the event will be spun adversely by those not friendly to the US (and they will be in the nation of interest, in the US itself and in the world at large). I'm not saying we cannot or should not do it, merely that it will likely provide mixed results and the those results will not depend solely on the US and /or its actions; others will impact it and often, there'll be some nations and events that were unexpected. So, yes, it does indeed depend on the situation -- and most of those will not be cut and dried. Thus my frequent comment that your aim is laudable however, those folks in defilade will just try to wait you out. Indirect fire can help; that requires aiming stakes and offsets. :wry:

Those nations mentioned above will be those not friendly to the US, BTW, and as you know, a majority of the Nations in the world are in that category at times. Contrary to the assertions of many, that is not solely due to our sometimes blundering foreign presences and missteps. It is due mostly to the simple fact that we are large and wealthy; our bobbles only exacerbate that slightly. The size and wealth make us an object of envy; our assistance to others has made them somewhat nominally beholden to us -- and no one likes to in that position; they'll dislike you simply because you had to help them.

In order to remove the stigma of size and wealth, you're asking the US to forego many things to which it has become accustomed. While I can applaud the intent, sympathize with the goal and appreciate what you're trying to do, I may be unduly cynical but I suspect your chance of success is not good. Regardless, I wish you well and will continue to provide harassing fire on occasion. ;)
Sometimes its a bit glacier, but things are moving.They are indeed and have been for many years. I started calling it the 'Momization' syndrome back in the early 60s. It has many good points. It also poses some dangers as it inclines many to believe that all people are basically alike -- they are not -- and that most will behave rationally -- few do though many will try to appears if the are so behaving (most of the time...). Momization applauds good governance and good behavior generally; unfortunately, a very few kids are just flat evil and will rebel with little or no cause no matter how good the governance is seen to be. Momism does not cope well with that -- it's irrational.

The Glacier is a good simile. Avoid the crevasses and watch for slippery ice... :cool:

Dayuhan
01-22-2011, 02:39 AM
Why have we not rushed a Marine Amphibious ship to the Med to simply sit, clearly visible on the horizon off of Tunis?

Why should we do any such thing? There's no genocide going on, nor any threatened, just a process of political change. There is absolutely nothing at this point to warrant external intervention.

Seems to me that going all 19th century and parking a gunboat off the coast would be completely counterproductive. There is not one person in Tunisia or the Arab world who would believe for a heartbeat that we were there on behalf of "the little guy". I don't think too many Americans would believe it. The universal assumption - no matter what we said - would be that big bad Uncle Sam was once again throwing his weight around to advance his own interests... and that, more than anything else, is what AQ thrives on.

The Tunisian "little guy" is not asking us to intervene. Nobody is asking us to intervene, or mediate, or facilitate, or anything else. What reason do we have to go pushing ourselves uninvited into other people's business? At least give them a chance to sort it out for themselves first. It is unbelievably presumptuous to think we could possibly know what the Tunisian populace wants or what is best for them, or that we would even consider pushing our presence uninvited into their process of political change. What right do we have to go walking into other countries and tell people there what we are or are not willing to tolerate?

There is likely to come a time when external influence is useful. An interim government will have to be pressured to hold elections; the elections will have to be monitored and assessed, and the various parties involved will have to be urged to accept the results. This may be an area where US leadership at the UN or other multilateral fora is called for, but unilateral intervention would be an absolute last resort.

Seems to me that our default response to internal instability in other countries should be to let the locals work things out for themselves. If we're asked to participate by parties with a credible claim to represent the populace or a portion thereof, the request should be considered. If influence or intervention is required it should multilateral efforts should always be preferred. Unilateral action or influence should be an absolute last resort, to be used when action is necessary and no other way is possible.


What we did not take into account was that the world had lost the tremendous balancing, and tempering effect of two superpowers waging a global competition for influence. One would wage a little UW, the other would counter. Most situations never got too out of control. Suddenly the Soviets weren't showing up, and then the Americans stopped showing up as well. Once everyone else realized this, those out of government who wanted power, or justice, or liberty started jockeying for position. Similarly those in government, many with no true writ of popular sovereignty, began ratcheting up the populace control measures.

This contention is I think almost horrifyingly backwards. There was no beneficial balancing during the Cold War: it was a devastatingly destructive time for the developing world. The Cold War was only cold if you were in Europe or the US and thinking nuclear: out on the periphery it was hot and continuous. The Cold War was fought by proxy, in the developing world, and the results were catastrophic. The end of that period hasn't eliminated violence in the developing world (nothing could), but it has drastically reduced it, and removed a major factor feeding it.

I can't think of any empirical measure that would suggest that violence and instability in the developing world have increased since the end of the Cold War. Quite the opposite. That entire line of argument needs to be either credibly supported or discarded.


It is a mix of message and presence. Sit down and work this out, Negotiate. If you can't negotiate, then the US or someone will come in and mediate. If you can't mediate, then the US or the UN or someone will come in and Arbitrate. Currently we tend to dictate. All of this is basic contract law, basic dispute resolution. The parties need to work out the terms, and there are always guidelines based on fundamental concepts of equity that set the parameters of such negotiations. It's the same way we enforce the rule of law at home. This is why we don't have gunfights at high noon in main street, or bigger and stronger people running roughshod over the smaller and weaker.

Enforcing the rule of law in our country is our right and our responsibility. Trying to enforce our concept of law in another country is imposition. We have no right whatsoever to tell the Tunisians how to resolve their internal conflicts.


There is a wide range of "acceptable" solutions; our problem is that we tend to neck it down to a narrow range of what is acceptable to us.

Isn't that exactly what you're advocating when you suggest that we "show up in such places and establish clear parameters as to the degree/nature of violence that is tolerable in such upheavals"?


Once a program is developed, then for example, the spokes people for the populace movement or the interim government in Tunisia could be requesting a neutral stand off security presence and a mediation team to come in and help move the process forward in a fashion that builds trust and helps avoid excess violence.

Is anyone requesting that?

Bob's World
01-22-2011, 01:01 PM
Dayuhan,

As usual you disagree with me. That is fine, as a former trial attorney I appreciate the role of adversarial advocacy in helping the jury get the information they need to arrive at a just decision. The SWC is the jury, and the benefit from such diversity.

That said, I find your positions to be bizarrely rooted in a 20 year old US perception of the world that never actually existed then, and certainly does not exist now. But many smart people share your perspectives, so it's an important position to put to the jury.

So, I stand by my assessment. Read the dozens of news reports linked to this thread regarding the impact of events in Tunisia on the populaces and governments across North Africa and into the Arabian Penn. This has been a massive wake-up call to both. Governments are in shock that populaces that have been effectively suppressed for generations are suddenly acting out effectively and with greater coordination. The new information age provides a tremendous advantage to the people. Not only did it enable the specific events in Tunisia, but it allowed those events to motivate and encourage similarly situated populaces across a vast area in real time. This is a textbook example of the ONE THING THAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT INSURGENCY TODAY vice the 1960s, the 1860s, or 60AD. It is this same information age that AQ leverages so well in their networked UW efforts.

But here is a break in our favor. Sure, we have been tied these governments as our tools for securing access and influence into the resources, LOCs, etc of this region. Such relationships also served to deny the Soviets access to the same during the Cold War. Sustaining such controlling/protective relationships long after the end of the Cold War has fed the growing populace discontent that AQ has feasted upon, and the same popular discontent that is now rumbling like a string of long dormant, but now smoking volcanoes across the region.

So I repeat: The U.S. has before it a tremendous opportunity to repair and rebuild our influence in the region. To supplant AQ as the self-appointed champion of the oppressed minorities (we call that "de oppresso liber" where I come from) and to update the nature of our relationships with these governments to be less focused on specific regimes and individuals and more focused on the nations and the populaces of which they are comprised.

How do we do that? Many options, and I'd like to think that right now in some dark basement in DC that a team of State Department and Defense planners are swarming like ants all over it, as the NSC guides the process and informs the President of progress. Are Marines the right answer for the long term? They rarely are. Are they a great way to put people and governments on notice that we think something is important and to tread cautiously in their actions? They always have been.

Bob's World
01-22-2011, 01:51 PM
One of the four primary causal factors for growing the conditions of insurgency within a society.

Too much focus is put on jobs, poverty, infrastructure, religion, etc. These are all important and always contribute to why people are willing to join a movement. But when one looks to what converts a dissatisfied populace into an insurgent one, "Respect" is always high on the list. You can wrongfully rob a man of many things and he will roll with the punches. Attempt to rob him of his honor, his pride, and it is another degree of oppression all together.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/world/africa/22sidi.html?hp

davidbfpo
01-22-2011, 07:06 PM
I am not a student of revolution / violent changes of government and so rely on some history and observing recent events - say back to the fall of the Shah in 1979.

In Tunisia the catalyst appears to have been the student trader's arrest and self-immolation. After several days of nationwide disorder, none of which affected key institutions, there is reporting that the Army commander declined to order troops to use live rounds to quell the disorder. Today the BBC has reported police and para-military police have joined demonstrations.

When does state coercive power, including Information Warfare, cease to have an impact and why? Capability, non-lethal and lethal; lack of will, confidence etc. I do recall the fall of East Germany, the GDR, was attributed to a clear Soviet stance and so without the Soviet "muscle" the GDR was unable to use coercion.

I am uncertain that faraway observers, like me, can discern the tipping point beforehand; leaving aside how often the tipping point occurs and is avoided. Nor that extensive intelligence-gathering and awareness can help.

It puzzles me, how can ruthless states apparently cease to function. Not to overlook that such states can falter and then crush opposition - Tienanmen Square for example.

Talking to Muslims and reading the often cited tipping point into radicalisation, not violence, is a human rights violation that has impact.

davidbfpo
01-22-2011, 08:11 PM
From ICSR a commentary 'Rachid Ghannouchi and the Struggle for Tunisia', including citations from an interview of the leader in London and worth a read for that alone:http://icsr.info/blog/Rachid-Ghannouchi-and-the-Struggle-for-Tunisia

Bob's World
01-22-2011, 08:41 PM
I'm not sure how important "tipping point" assessment is. That's kind of like asking how often one can physically/emotionally abuse their spouse before they leave them. The tolerance of every spouse is different, just as the events that will trigger negative responses are different. The human dynamic, however, is universal. Same is true for insurgency.

My advice is: "don't abuse your spouse." Same advice to governments. Don't ask me how much you can get away with; how much illegitimacy is too much, or what will drive that determination in a particular populace; how much injustice in the application of the rule of law, or what types of enforcement will be perceived as unjust in a particular populace; what inequities and disrespect as a matter of status sting the members of a particular populace most sharply; how how all of these things will feed on each other, along with other physical, financial hardships to this "tipping point." But in understanding and valuing what is important one never gets close to such a point.

Also, if there are trusted, certain and legal means available to a populace to address their reasonable grievances with government such tipping points can be avoided as well. This is a large part of what maintains stability in the U.S. and it is so trusted and common to us that we take it for granted.

But there are many nations in the Arab league that are absolutely teetering on the tipping point right now. There are no such trusted, certain and legal venues to address governance in these countries. Some will react with greater oppression and suppress the populace. Some may make concessions (In Eastern Europe this was the decision put to Soviet leadership, and it was only their decision not to counter such populace movements that prevented a generational conflict there) Certainly the Islamists will surge to take advantage, to claim responsibility and seek to seize positions of influence in emerging governments. The West cannot afford to merely sit back and watch. To remain neutral is to create the presumption that we support the status quo. This will embolden despots to crack down on their people, and it will also strengthen the position of the Islamist with the people as well.

Cliff
01-22-2011, 08:50 PM
From ICSR a commentary 'Rachid Ghannouchi and the Struggle for Tunisia', including citations from an interview of the leader in London and worth a read for that alone:http://icsr.info/blog/Rachid-Ghannouchi-and-the-Struggle-for-Tunisia

David-

One opinion from a Professor Roy of the EU Institute in Florence was on the NY Times website (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/opinion/22iht-edroy22.html?ref=global) today.

I suspect the truth is somewhere in between Prof Roy's position and that of the article you posted.

V/R,

Cliff

Dayuhan
01-23-2011, 02:04 AM
As usual you disagree with me. That is fine, as a former trial attorney I appreciate the role of adversarial advocacy in helping the jury get the information they need to arrive at a just decision. The SWC is the jury, and the benefit from such diversity.

The benefits of diversity are enhanced if the points made are actually and specifically addressed.


That said, I find your positions to be bizarrely rooted in a 20 year old US perception of the world that never actually existed then, and certainly does not exist now.

How so, exactly? The jury might benefit from a specific elucidation of the question to be resolved.


Read the dozens of news reports linked to this thread regarding the impact of events in Tunisia on the populaces and governments across North Africa and into the Arabian Penn.

The impact remains speculative; the pieces cited discuss possible consequences that are anything but certain. Certainly political change is long overdue in many places, but how and when it will occur remains to be seen, and it is in no way certain that external interference will accelerate the process or make it less destructive.

It's important to note that these mostly peaceful uprisings that overthrow despotic governments do not simply occur because the populace has reached a point where the government can no longer contain them. They also indicate that the government's ability to contain has deteriorated to the point where the security apparatus is no longer willing to carry out orders. In many ways these are cases where a sick government essentially expires of natural causes. Trying to replicate or encourage these events in places where governments have not yet reached that point is a good way to start a bloodbath.

I repeat: US intervention should be a matter of last resort, when intervention is absolutely necessary and no other intervention is forthcoming. First choice is to allow the locals to manage on their own, a distant second is multilateral pressure, a distant third is multilateral action. I'll argue that case in front of a jury any time.


Sustaining such controlling/protective relationships long after the end of the Cold War has fed the growing populace discontent that AQ has feasted upon

This is said so often that it has become a mantra, and desperately needs to be realistically evaluated. Who exactly do we control and protect? What governments are we protecting from their own populaces, or enabling, or emboldening?

The only feast that matters to AQ is foreign intervention in Muslim lands, especially if it's military: this is what AQ thrives on, and no matter what the intention of the intervention is, it will be credibly presented as an attempt at suppression and control. AQ has tried to exploit resentment toward despotic governments, but these attempts have generally failed: AQ has never sparked a credible insurgency against a Muslim government that wasn't installed by foreign invaders. That's not because these populaces love their governments, it's because they don't see AQ as a viable alternative. AQ may have tried to appoint themselves champion of the masses, but the masses have never confirmed the appointment. The same is likely to happen to us if we try to appoint ourselves to that role.


To supplant AQ as the self-appointed champion of the oppressed minorities (we call that "de oppresso liber" where I come from) and to update the nature of our relationships with these governments to be less focused on specific regimes and individuals and more focused on the nations and the populaces of which they are comprised.

We cannot appoint ourselves as anyone's champion. If our help or protection is requested by parties with a legitimate claim to represent a populace, that's another story. Offering our help to such parties is another story... but imposing ourselves uninvited is simply not acceptable. It is not and never will be seen as "standing up for the little guy". It is seen as an attempt to take control and advance our own interests.

I agree with you on the importance of respect, but I think you miss an important part of the respect equation. People all over the world, even those who loathe their governments, react very badly when we lecture those governments on human rights, democracy, etc. Our interference is not seen as help for the oppressed, it's seen as disrespect for the nation and the culture. The fastest way for the US to rally support behind an oppressive government is often to criticize that government.

Allowing people to sort out their own issues to the greatest possible extent is respect. Offering help if it's needed is respect. Imposing "help" where it has not been requested is disrespect.

If we put Marines in the picture, this is not going to be seen as support for the little guy. That may be our intention, but it won't be seen that way. Our purposes may be as pure as the driven snow, but they won't be seen that way. US armed force will be seen as muscle-flexing, intimidation, and an attempt to advance our interests, and it will be seen that way no matter what we say.

I see absolutely no evidence of conditions in Tunisia that call for US intervention. We've already made statements supporting a democratic transition, and those should continue, from as many sources as possible. If the interim government starts trying to derail transition, multilateral pressure may be called for, but that's a bridge we should cross when and if we come to it. Nothing going on that calls for Marines.

Bob's World
01-23-2011, 11:25 AM
Dayuhan,

For whatever reason you feel compelled to attack whatever I say. That's cool. But it does not create in me any compulsion or duty to argue with your opinions. They are your opinions, I see little to support them, so I let them stand on their own merit.

As a former prosecutor, I lay out the facts as I understand them, offer evidence to support and make my argument. The Defense has no duty to prove anything, so merely follows behind and attempts to create reasonable doubt in the prosecutor's case. I never worried too much about the defense, if my case was strong, it would stand on its own merit.

But as I would remind a jury, there is always doubt in life. But not all of it is reasonable, and the only doubt that is material is that that is both reasonable and goes to the elements of the crime before them. Most have driven, or at least ridden in a car on a two lane road, meeting cars traveling in the opposite direction at a combined speed of well over 100mph, separated by mere inches and line painted on the road. Everyone knows that car could swerve for any number of reasons and kill their entire family, and yet everyone goes out there every day and drives. The doubt is unreasonable.

You have many doubts, that's fine. I just find most of them to be either off point or unreasonable.

Bob's World
01-23-2011, 12:28 PM
Regardless of what we call the surge of politically motivated, Islamist- Ideologically fused rise of act of terrorism against Western targets, the premise for the Western response possesses some major flaws. These flaws are of such a nature that they could actually make the problems for the West worse rather than better.

1. Promote sustainment of the status quo of political rule in all "allied" states.

This is foundational to the colonial intervention approach to foreign policy. Establishing and sustaining in power governments that are supportive of one's own national interests. Much of US COIN doctrine is built upon this foundation of colonial intervention, so has this problematic fault line of exercising control over (through subtle to overt means) the political processes of others.

2. To quick to promote overthrow of rule in non-allied states, or even those that disagree with us, and replacement with a regime that will support our national interests in the region.

3. Overly quick to brand non-state organizations that are emerging to positions of influence as "terrorist" organizations. This enables greater freedom to wage CT activities against these groups, but also effectively closes the door to other more productive forms of engagement. The State Department does not worry about establishing diplomatic relations with an organization, regardless of how influential it may be, once it goes on such a list. At that point it is just a "target" or a "threat" to be attacked or defeated.

4. Over reliance on CT tactics to target individuals and organizations that emerge to challenge the status quo through illegal means.

5. Over reliance on building the CT capacity of allied nation security forces to more effectively engage or suppress such nationalist organizations that emerge from their own populace to illegally challenge the status quo government.

6. Being so desperate for "friends" that we begin to hang out with some very shady characters, or just as bad, ignore the growing unacceptable nature of the behavior of our old friends.

EX:

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten released a series of US diplomatic cables from 2006 on massive and pervasive corruption and nepotism in Tunisia and its effect on economic development and social problems. The cables show that the United States government was fully aware of the dangerous and debilitating level of corruption in Tunisia, and its anti-democratic implications. But they raise the question of whether Washington was wise to make Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, despite his clear foibles, the pillar of its North Africa policy because of his role, as a secular strongman, in repressing Muslim movements (as William MacLean of Reuters argues).

The US embassy in Tunis noted the contradictions of what was once called "the Tunisian miracle" - relative stability and security and 5 per cent growth a year, but with mafia style corruption on the part of ruling cliques that was discouraging foreign investment and contributing to failing banks and high unemployment.
http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/01/20111171299907176.html

7. The coming shift of lead from Defense to State (good); and from combat to development (ok...) without a corresponding shift of Strategy.
We are merely changing the Ways and Means without updating our Ends or our understanding of the problem. Massive development in support of illegitimate and failing regimes is no more able to prop them up against a growing Tsunami of popular opposition than massive military support is. In fact, if suppression of symptoms is the goal, history is on the side of ruthless application of force as the most effective technique.


My point on this Tunisian thread is that here is an event that pokes big holes in the "expert" positions that have shaped our GWOT strategy and engagement over the past several years. Here is an opportunity to take a hard look into that hole, and gain a clearer perspective of what is going on and why. Here is an opportunity to make a substantive change in how we see and address such problems; and in how we promote and preserve our interests. The world is changing, the US and the West must evolve as well.

Dayuhan
01-24-2011, 03:43 AM
For whatever reason you feel compelled to attack whatever I say. That's cool. But it does not create in me any compulsion or duty to argue with your opinions. They are your opinions, I see little to support them, so I let them stand on their own merit.

Why is very simple: I think the course of action you promote would be counterproductive and extremely dangerous: with the best of intentions I don't doubt, but good intentions don't always lead to good places. I also think your case is based on some very questionable assumptions, most notably the continuing and unsupported claim that autocratic states in the ME - particularly Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States - are somehow enabled and empowered by the US, and that the US therefore has some sort of influence that it could use to change their behavior. I might also cite your repeated and equally unsupported claim that the end of the Cold War increased instability in the developing world by removing some sort of benign equilibrium that existed between the US and the Soviet Union.

When these and other points are challenged, often with arguments that are by no means irrelevant, there is seldom any direct attempt to clarify or develop the points being made: they are simply repeated, as revealed truth. I admit that I find that frustrating, and that frustration produces the occasional intemperate post: temperance is perhaps not among my virtues (my wife assures me that have a few).

I cannot help but believe that the proposed intrusion of the US into the internal affairs of other nations as self-appointed "champion" of populaces that have never asked for our help, do not trust us, and whose issues and concerns are largely unfamiliar to us is not going to advance our interests in any way. I do not think that an unreasonable concern.

Omar advised, in an excellent post on another thread, that you stop looking at Afghanistan as the 51st state of the US. I agree, and I'd add Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and a few others to the list.

I believe that intervention in the internal affairs of others is like punishment for guilt: to be undertaken only when it is necessary beyond reasonable doubt. The reasonable doubts do need to be addressed if intervention is to be contemplated or even threatened.

On a few individual points...



1. Promote sustainment of the status quo of political rule in all "allied" states.

Are we actually promoting the status quo? Where? There's a huge difference between promoting a status quo and dealing with a status quo that is not within our power to change. Attempting to initiate changes in the internal status quo of an allied nation (or any nation) is every bit as dangerous as trying to promote the status quo, possibly worse: it's simply not something we have the right to do. It is meddling of the worst sort and there will be a negative backlash no matter how good our intentions are.



2. To quick to promote overthrow of rule in non-allied states, or even those that disagree with us, and replacement with a regime that will support our national interests in the region.

Agree completely: I've always thought regime change a very dangerous idea. One might point out, though, that other than the rather irrational post-9/11 lashing out, this is not something we've done a great deal of since the end of the Cold War.



3. Overly quick to brand non-state organizations that are emerging to positions of influence as "terrorist" organizations. This enables greater freedom to wage CT activities against these groups, but also effectively closes the door to other more productive forms of engagement. The State Department does not worry about establishing diplomatic relations with an organization, regardless of how influential it may be, once it goes on such a list. At that point it is just a "target" or a "threat" to be attacked or defeated.

Groups that pursue terrorist tactics are terrorists, and responding to terrorism with attempts to engage productively simply sends a message that terrorism works. We might be better advised to try to engage with groups that disagree with us but have not embraced terrorism. In the case of AQ, there was going to be a confrontation no matter what we did: AQ needed it and was going to pursue it in any event. It takes two to talk and only one to fight. They needed a fight and they were going to push until they got one.



4. Over reliance on CT tactics to target individuals and organizations that emerge to challenge the status quo through illegal means.

Agreed... though just as we should not be too quick to assume that every insurgent is a terrorist, we must also not be too quick to brand every terrorist an insurgent. Blowing something up doesn't automatically make you a noble fighter for freedom: there are people out there trying to use violence to proactively impose an agenda that has nothing at all to do with freedom, and they are not necessarily wounded respondents to American provocation.



5. Over reliance on building the CT capacity of allied nation security forces to more effectively engage or suppress such nationalist organizations that emerge from their own populace to illegally challenge the status quo government.

The extent to which this occurs is quite exaggerated. Most of these nations do not need our help to suppress opposition, whether nationalist or otherwise. They do it very effectively on their own. They have lots of practice.



6. Being so desperate for "friends" that we begin to hang out with some very shady characters, or just as bad, ignore the growing unacceptable nature of the behavior of our old friends.


Agreed, to a point. "Friends", though, doesn't mean much in politics and diplomacy. There are shady characters that we have to deal with: they exist and we haven't the power to remove them. There are real limits to the extent to which the US can brand the behavior of other nations as "unacceptable". We are not the global morality police.



7. The coming shift of lead from Defense to State (good); and from combat to development (ok...) without a corresponding shift of Strategy.
We are merely changing the Ways and Means without updating our Ends or our understanding of the problem. Massive development in support of illegitimate and failing regimes is no more able to prop them up against a growing Tsunami of popular opposition than massive military support is. In fact, if suppression of symptoms is the goal, history is on the side of ruthless application of force as the most effective technique.

I don't see any reason to view political change as a problem. It happens when it's ready to happen. We should work with it as it happens, but if we try to initiate it or direct it we're only going to make a mess.

I quite agree that we should not be defending despots from their own populaces. Taking the opposite approach and trying to overthrow despots, or trying to impose ourselves as uninvited champion of the populace, is stepping way beyond any kind of appropriate role.


My point on this Tunisian thread is that here is an event that pokes big holes in the "expert" positions that have shaped our GWOT strategy and engagement over the past several years. Here is an opportunity to take a hard look into that hole, and gain a clearer perspective of what is going on and why. Here is an opportunity to make a substantive change in how we see and address such problems; and in how we promote and preserve our interests. The world is changing, the US and the West must evolve as well.

I don't see this is a problem, in any way. A crumbling regime fell, that's been expected for some time. It's not exactly a surprise. Political change is underway. There's no need for us to try and control or direct it: to the greatest possible extent this is something the Tunisians need to resolve on their own. If they ask for our help we should give it. If they don't - and they almost certainly won't - our role is to observe and to participate in whatever multilateral actions are deemed necessary.

Of course we should observe, learn, reconsider our positions. We should always be doing that. Bringing Marines into the picture is a matter of last resort and we're nowhere near that.

Too often in the past we've intervened on the wrong side of these situations. The antidote to that is not to try to intervene on the "right" side. The antidote is to stop intervening, unless it's requested and/or absolutely - beyond all reasonable doubt - necessary.

Argh. That was way too long...

Bob's World
01-27-2011, 11:40 PM
This is an important read (and think) piece. This cuts to the heart of what Muslim support to AQ has been all about. For the fear mongers in the US, it is noteworthy how little support or mention of Islamist positions are where liberty is actually being achieved. Arab despots, those who support arab despots, and those who simply are clueless about insurgency have been playing up the Islamist threat for a decade. They are, and have been, wrong.

This has NEVER been about ideology, it has been about oppressed people and the pursuit of liberty. Ideologies are just the tools employed to get there. This was true with communism in Africa and Asia post WWII; and it is true with Islamism in the Arab world post Cold War. This is not to say that we cannot drive these people into the arms of Islamist extremists by coming in on the side of sustaining despots in power over the express will of the people. We can. I pray we do not make that mistake.

De Oppresso Liber.

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/01/201112314530411972.html

Ken White
01-28-2011, 02:38 AM
This is an important read (and think) piece.It's a think piece alright. Written by a known "America is evil and the problem" guy with a checkered history. Like many articles, it contains some fact, some opinions and some questionable items...
This cuts to the heart of what Muslim support to AQ has been all about. For the fear mongers in the US,... They are, and have been, wrong.Perhaps a bit. Both fanatics and the fearful often do get things wrong.
This has NEVER been about ideology, it has been about oppressed people and the pursuit of liberty. Ideologies are just the tools employed to get there.In many cases that's true, however, if that's the tool being used, does it not at least mean the ideology is part of the problem? It certainly means that if the ideology is not the issue then it is being used as a catalyst to manipulate people to achieve certain ends which may or may not comport with that ideology.

One can make a valid case the Shah of Iran was a despot. However, his subjects were not so much oppressed as dirt poor and he truly tried a bit to improve their lot. Khomeini and Co. used 'ideology' to depose the Shah -- and replace him with a regime that was and is far more despotic, that killed more people in its first two years of existence than the Shah had in the previous 25. So it's not all about oppression, the ideology is not benign and the change wrought may not be an improvement. :rolleyes:

I suspect the truth lies between Falk-like fear mongers on one side and the "Islam wants to kill us all" fear mongers on the other. Fanatics of any stripe and type are best ignored but watched. They tend to take a speck of truth, amplify it beyond all reality to suit their needs and create a lot of confusion. Most do not merit circulation or promotion. Manipulators are similar. Fanatical manipulators are just dangerous. Manipulators of fanatacism doubly so. Why, they can even induce fear in otherwise rational people. Hmmm. That raises a question, do such manipulators merely implant, enhance or abet fear mongering or are they themselves fear mongers? ;)

Cliff
01-28-2011, 05:56 AM
It's a think piece alright. Written by a known "America is evil and the problem" guy with a checkered history. Like many articles, it contains some fact, some opinions and some questionable items...Perhaps a bit. Both fanatics and the fearful often do get things wrong.In many cases that's true, however, if that's the tool being used, does it not at least mean the ideology is part of the problem? It certainly means that if the ideology is not the issue then it is being used as a catalyst to manipulate people to achieve certain ends which may or may not comport with that ideology.

It may also be about the economy - see here (http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/01/201111413424337867.html) for another opinion on the source of anger. Politics has a role, but the economic side is also a big factor.


I suspect the truth lies between Falk-like fear mongers on one side and the "Islam wants to kill us all" fear mongers on the other. Fanatics of any stripe and type are best ignored but watched. They tend to take a speck of truth, amplify it beyond all reality to suit their needs and create a lot of confusion. Most do not merit circulation or promotion. Manipulators are similar. Fanatical manipulators are just dangerous. Manipulators of fanatacism doubly so. Why, they can even induce fear in otherwise rational people. Hmmm. That raises a question, do such manipulators merely implant, enhance or abet fear mongering or are they themselves fear mongers? ;)

I just made the same point over on the Globalization thread... :) A lot of the hatred is spurred by folks using what is esentially propaganda to gain control. They would invent stuff to be angry about if it didn't really exist... because it gives them power.

V/R,

Cliff

Fuchs
01-28-2011, 07:42 AM
related: Trajan on the revolts in Tunisia (?) (http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2011/01/trajan-on-revolts-in-tunisia.html)

That was one of my "I bet nobody else made that connection yet!" moments. ;)

Bob's World
01-28-2011, 10:17 AM
Ken,

"Despotism" has many components, and certainly the perceptions of the governed regarding how one rose to power and how one is sustained in power is nearly as important as is how they feel about how one governs while in power.

The coup we ran in 1953 to take out the democratically selected leader of Iran because he dared to stand up to the British and their rape (robbery?) of the Iranian oil resources is not our finest chapter. The Shah was many things, but he was never legitimate and he was always a "Made in the USA" leader. In hindsight we should have told the Brits to get over it and worked out a relationship with Mosaddegh.

It was a Cold War though, we had a new president, we were deep into a Korean conflict that could have easily became a war with a "newly" enemy China; The French were getting defeated by communists in Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaya were struggling with Communists as well, newly nuclear Russia was flirting with Mosaddegh, and Ken White had just retired for the third time from DoD. It was a bad year, and it seemed like the right thing at the time.

But now it is 2011. The Cold War is long over, though the majority of our governmental and diplomatic framework for waging it remains rusted in place. No longer containing Soviet threats, or even communist ideology threats, it now serves primarily to sustain a family of wealthy despots who don't cut us many special favors (no discount oil for US coming out of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Iraq...), and most have become enabled by such relationships to become even more removed from the concerns of their own citizens.

As the Saudis like to brag, the people have no taxation, so they get no representation. I suspect someday when they are sitting in exile, scraping by on their last Billion once their assets are nationalized, they won't think that is as clever as they do currently.

But the U.S. need not, and should not abandon these governments. Nor should the U.S. use the history of our relationships with these governments ; or the rise of AQ and Islamist ideologies to rationalize not supporting the reasonable demands of these many populaces for moderate reformation of Government. Play this right and we turn down the flame beneath the boiling pot of popular discontent that we call "The War on Terrorism." Play this wrong and we raise it to a whole new level. The allegations of our sins will become cold, hard, current facts, and this could all boil over into a regional/global disaster.

We need to recognize and prioritize the opportunity currently provided by the people of the region. We need to lend stability to these inevitable transitions, to empower and facilitate evolution of government in order to prevent revolution of government. This means a mix of both assuring allies and cautioning/threatening them to be careful in how they respond to their populaces. Similarly to be supportive and cautioning/threatening to these populaces as well in regards to how we support peaceful evolution, self-determination and the principles we proclaim so loudly in our own founding documents; but that we will not stand idly by to outrages on the part of either side.

We also need to be on our guard that AQ will seek to leverage this as well; to attempt to tilt outcomes toward their agenda. I suspect when the music stops that it will be the Islamist terrorist/UW guys who don't have a chair. But that is not a guarantee, and they will seek to prevent that from happening.

This is where the real lesson from Malaya comes to play. If we enable the right governmental reforms, then when the dust settles and the Islamists come in from the cold looking for support, they will find that the populace no longer needs what they are selling and is moving on without them.

We have an opportunity for "Malaya in the Desert," but that will only happen if we can break our Cold War paradigms and find the right balance between stability and change, between governments and populaces, between influence and control.

Given how much play this topic was given in the State of the Union though, I have my concerns...

davidbfpo
01-28-2011, 10:40 AM
FP Blog has a good article on the impact of mass media in Tunisia, using the material from Wikileaks:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/25/whispering_at_autocrats

This paragraph struck me as having possibly appeared on SWC of late:
History is made when the weather suddenly changes -- by deviations from the normal course of events. The challenge for American diplomacy is not to wait for shifts in favor of human rights and democracy before scrambling to appear to support them. It is not to wait until a dictator is half-way out the door before you condemn his abuses, freeze his assets, and demand free elections. It is to promote change in repressive states before it appears inevitable. If you think there is only a 10 percent chance that Egypt's post-Mubarak transition will usher in a government that answers to its people, or that in the next few years the Burmese military junta might compromise with the democratic opposition, or that a popular movement might successfully challenge political repression in Iran, then why not do what you can to help raise the odds to 20 or 30 percent? In foreign policy, as in baseball, .300 is a Hall of Fame average.

Graycap
01-28-2011, 03:02 PM
The more I think about Tunisia and the more I'm convinced that the real role could be for the EU.

How about this slogan: Let's make Tunisia for EU what Israel is for the USA!

If you think that Gheddafi is asking EU for 5 billion Euros/ year to limit illegal immigration, my reasoning is about to indirectly threaten this deapotic regime with a new political model at his border. Let's not fear the Brotherhood.
Tunisia is not at the center of any geopolitical problem and the reality of government responsability (without the cash of energy reserves) could help in moderating. Sooner or later it has to happen. Better in a little country with strong intercoonections with western europe.

Ken White
01-28-2011, 05:03 PM
..certainly the perceptions of the governed regarding how one rose to power and how one is sustained in power is nearly as important as is how they feel about how one governs while in power.True -- but little to no bearing on my points that "it's not all about oppression, the ideology is not benign and the change wrought may not be an improvement." :confused:
But now it is 2011. The Cold War is long over, though the majority of our governmental and diplomatic framework for waging it remains rusted in place.I agree but, again, that has little to do with the facts that ideology is not benign and all 'popular' change is not necessarily for the better...
But the U.S. need not, and should not abandon these governments... Play this right and we turn down the flame beneath the boiling pot of popular discontent that we call "The War on Terrorism"...We need to lend stability to these inevitable transitions, to empower and facilitate evolution of government in order to prevent revolution of government. This means a mix of both assuring allies and cautioning/threatening them to be careful in how they respond to their populaces. Similarly to be supportive and cautioning/threatening to these populaces as well in regards to how we support peaceful evolution, self-determination and the principles we proclaim so loudly in our own founding documents; but that we will not stand idly by to outrages on the part of either side.IOW, we can interfere in the affairs of others and should do so...
This is where the real lesson from Malaya comes to play. If we enable the right governmental reforms, then when the dust settles and the Islamists come in from the cold looking for support, they will find that the populace no longer needs what they are selling and is moving on without them."What is this 'we' stuff, White Man" quoth Tonto to the Lone Stranger? :D

Yet again you say we must support, encourage, threaten, enable or otherwise stick our oar in -- yet you say 'they' must determine for themselves...

Yet again I say -- you cannot have it both ways.

Either we interfere or we do not. If we do, the results for many reasons will be uncertain and there is no guarantee that the result will be satisfactory in anyone's view. More on this below.
We have an opportunity for "Malaya in the Desert," but that will only happen if we can break our Cold War paradigms and find the right balance between stability and change, between governments and populaces, between influence and control.I respectfully suggest that there is no corollary to Malaya (also again... :rolleyes:) and that while I totally agree the Cold War paradigms must go (long overdue, that...) and finding that balance is desirable, so far all you've done is indicate the two poles:

They determine. But...

We
...need to lend stability to these inevitable transitions, to empower and facilitate evolution of government...cautioning/threatening them to be careful in how they respond to their populaces...supportive and cautioning/threatening to these populaces as well in regards to how we support peaceful evolution, self-determination and the principles we proclaim so loudly in our own founding documents; but that we will not stand idly by to outrages on the part of either side.(emphasis added / kw)Where is this balance of which you speak?

I submit you haven't outlined it because you cannot -- each nation, each upset situation will be different, will require a different blend of reactions and those cannot be predicted due to the vagaries of the nation involved, its people, our political process and the rotation of policy makers in that process. Thus ideologies -- ours and theirs -- have an important bearing on what occurs. It may not be 'about' ideology but you cannot discount the effect of that or them.

Thus, if we enter into the issue in any measure -- and will have to do that for various reasons on occasion -- then we are interfering and we will almost of necessity attempt to influence the outcome and the results are not, can never be, certain. What occurs is that the policy makers of the day have to react to the information available, the circumstances as far as are known and make a decision. It will often, in hindsight, be wrong -- as was emplacing the Shah. Rectification can be messy -- as it was. That rectification may produce a worse situation -- as it did.

You desire to preclude this minor chaos and to codify our responses. Admirable but unlikely. You suggest, in essence a policy, you do not provide strategies.

I agree with your desired policy (as I have always done since you came up on this Board) and I suggest you can provide no strategy due to that varied situation factor and the US political system (as I have always done since you came up on this board).

Thus while I agree with your western enlightenment ideal of what should be done in the somewhat different east I'm forced yet again to suggest that your goal is not totally realistic and that we have never been prone to strictly adhere to "the principles we proclaim so loudly in our own founding document." Nor have we been able to do so for a variety of reasons, some valid, some specious -- all real...

That paragraph should be worth at least two bonus points. :D

carl
01-28-2011, 06:57 PM
This has NEVER been about ideology, it has been about oppressed people and the pursuit of liberty. Ideologies are just the tools employed to get there. This was true with communism in Africa and Asia post WWII;

Speaking as a member of the jury, when you make a statement like this, it sets off so many "Does not compute! Does not compute!" alarms that everything else you present is lost in the noise.

Communism was a totalitarian ideology that purported to make the human condition better. It wasn't about the pursuit of liberty as everybody who was hanging around at the time could see. It was in competition with other ideologies. In the places where it won, people's lives got really bad, tens of millions maybe over 100 million dead bad. When it wasn't working out so well, the ideological masters didn't rush to change it, they just made the secret police stronger in order to preserve the ideological order. Ideology did matter, a lot.

So counselor, you may want to fine tune your presentation a bit.

Bob's World
01-28-2011, 07:36 PM
Come on Carl.

I am no fan of communism, but name for me please a single country that employed a communist ideology to overthrow, or attempt to overthrow their government that had a government in place that drew its legitimacy from the govern populace and was responsive to their reasonable demands. Just one. And if you find that one, I will find five to match on the other side.

Russia vs the Romanovs?
Maoist China vs the pro-west Nationalists?
French dominated, then US dominated Vietnam?
Batista's Cuba?
British dominated Malaya?
US dominated Philippines?

The simple fact is that in post WWI and post WWII upheavals, communism was an ideology of change that spoke to populaces seeking change.

Fast forward to today, and the post Cold War upheaval. The primary area of the globe where Western colonial and post-colonial interference and influence continues to disrupt local systems of legitimacy is the Sunni dominated region of North Africa and the Middle East. The populaces of these nations have been seeking change for generations and have never been able to achieve they synergy for true change. Communism never really spoke to these populaces (a communist movement was attempted in Saudi Arabia but fell flat in the 60s) but Muslim based ideology works. Much like a Christian based ideology worked in Western Europe to rally the people to throw off the Holy roman empire centuries ago.

Is Protestantism a "benign" ideology? Yes. Did it take down an empire? Equally yes.

Is Communism a "benign" ideology? Yes. Did it reshape Western Colonial control of Asia? Equally yes.

Is Islamism a "benign" ideology? Yes. Will it reshape Western influence over North Africa and the Middle East. Most likely.

The real ideology in all of those places, times and example was the ideology of liberty and self-determination.

I'm sorry if that hurts the feelings of some, but the historic facts can be argued, but they are what they are. The Pied Piper is a fairy tale. A satisfied populace is immune to the most bewitching of ideologies. But a populace with no legal options, trapped in poor governance that often is not of their choosing will often follow even a questionable leader with a shady ideology to achieve liberty.

I put out a piece on Ideology a few years ago:
http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docs-temp/46-jones.pdf

From that article:


V. U.S. ideology holds that when government fails insurgency is both the right and the duty of the populace.

The American Declaration of Independence is an amazing document. It is the cornerstone of American government, and forms the core of American Ideology. Many students of insurgency take the position that during the post-WWII insurgencies of the 50’s and 60’s that the U.S. Ideology was one of capitalism versus the ideology of communism used to unite the populaces of those poorly governed nations that rose up to throw off western colonialism.ii During the post Cold War insurgencies of this generation the conflict is characterized as one of democracy versus the fundamentalist Islamism that speaks to the populaces of those poorly governed nations that are currently rising up to throw off the less direct form of western exploitation that replaced colonialism. The fact is, that neither capitalism nor democracy are mentioned directly in either the American Declaration of Independence, or the U.S Constitution.

What makes the Declaration of Independence so amazing is that in such a concise and complete manner, it conveys a message that is universal and timeless. This is a powerful beacon of hope to populaces everywhere, and generations of every time. In this globalized age of shrinking state power, and growing popular power, this message is more than ever not just a relic of America’s noble past, but provides the road map to an even greater future. Consider these tenets contained within this codification of American Ideology:

- Certain rights, to include, but not limited to, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are inalienable (This means that they come from God, not man, and that no government can infringe upon them. This, by the way, is a point that no Islamic fundamentalist can well counter).

- That every populace has both the right and the duty to rise up in insurgency when their government fails, i.e., becomes “despotic” (rights and duties are two of the most powerful concepts in law. A right is an authorization to act that cannot be infringed, and a duty is an order to act that cannot be ignored. The populace not only can revolt, they must).

- That governance is “of, by, and for” the people, and that all populaces are unique in their needs, and will chose the form of government which suits them best (this means that government is subordinate to the populace, and that no power external to that populace has the right to dictate what form that governance will take).

America is uniquely positioned to assume a leadership role on a global scale that is focused not on the governments of the world, but on their populaces. America has the strength of resources and the proper ideology to not control the world, but rather to shape its development. By empowering populaces everywhere with the ideology contained in our Declaration of Independence, and by using our strength and wealth to facilitate good governance on their terms, we stand an excellent chance of becoming not the heavy handed nation that others see us as, but rather as that noble nation we see in ourselves.

What is going on across North Africa today is a good thing. Whether or not it is a good thing for the US will depend upon how we react. If we react IAW our own ideology and principles as a nation, it will be a good thing for us as well

jmm99
01-28-2011, 08:37 PM
from BW
What is going on across North Africa today is a good thing.

when it (what is going on) has just started.

Your arguments have remarkable prescient and crystalball powers - Mandrake the Magician (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandrake_the_Magician), so to speak.

http://www.schwimmerlegal.com/images/mandrake.jpg

Regards

Mike

carl
01-28-2011, 11:15 PM
Counselor Jones:

I am just speaking as a member of the jury and telling you what seems to work on me.

You said "it was about the pursuit of liberty" and ideology didn't matter. I said liberty didn't have much do with communism and ideology did matter and it was competing with other ideologies. Then you tell me below


I am no fan of communism, but name for me please a single country that employed a communist ideology to overthrow, or attempt to overthrow their government that had a government in place that drew its legitimacy from the govern populace and was responsive to their reasonable demands. Just one. And if you find that one, I will find five to match on the other side.

Now after hearing that I am a befuddled juror. You were talking about liberty and ideology and now you are talking about governments that were overthrown. Where did liberty go? Communism and liberty didn't mix. That is well known by all but somehow it had something to do with liberty. If us jurors can't follow your train of thought you arguments will be weakened.

Now we have another problem with this statement.


Is Communism a "benign" ideology? Yes. Did it reshape Western Colonial control of Asia? Equally yes.

As a juror my first reaction to this statement is "Huh?" Communism benign? Yes it did reshape things but at the cost of how many tens of millions of dead? These types of statements just cause head shaking in the jury room.


The real ideology in all of those places, times and example was the ideology of liberty and self-determination.

No, I think not. That may have been the aspiration, but ideology was a tool to get there. If they chose communism, boy did they get had.

Bob's World
01-28-2011, 11:38 PM
Carl,

You are a victim of effective propaganda. Think about it. When a populace is ripe for change it will take whatever bus pulls up to the stop. But once the dust settles, the ideology is typically moot. Look at all of the primarily Protestant countries today. Not all that radical, just a bunch of largely democratic capitalists. Look at all of the primarily communist countries today. Similarly, these too are morphing into a bunch of captitalists. They have a way to go on human rights, but these things take time.

Same with the Islamists. They are not the enemy, they are merely driving the bus. All we have to do is provide those same popualaces with an alternative to the Islamist bus. Tunisia is leaning away from the Islamists, and I suspect Egypt will as well. No one wants to sign up for a bad deal, but they will to get out of a worse deal.

Bob's World
01-28-2011, 11:41 PM
when it (what is going on) has just started.

Your arguments have remarkable prescient and crystalball powers - Mandrake the Magician (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandrake_the_Magician), so to speak.

http://www.schwimmerlegal.com/images/mandrake.jpg

Regards

Mike

But then, this has been going on for centuries. We are merely watching the most recent installment. Anytime dictators shake in fear I think it is a good thing. But that's just me. Many people worry about it simply because they are "our dictators."

We are America. We shouldn't have dictators. I stand by that, and I stand by my assessment that this is a "good thing."

carl
01-29-2011, 12:39 AM
Carl,

You are a victim of effective propaganda. Think about it. When a populace is ripe for change it will take whatever bus pulls up to the stop. But once the dust settles, the ideology is typically moot. Look at all of the primarily Protestant countries today. Not all that radical, just a bunch of largely democratic capitalists. Look at all of the primarily communist countries today. Similarly, these too are morphing into a bunch of captitalists. They have a way to go on human rights, but these things take time.

Same with the Islamists. They are not the enemy, they are merely driving the bus. All we have to do is provide those same popualaces with an alternative to the Islamist bus. Tunisia is leaning away from the Islamists, and I suspect Egypt will as well. No one wants to sign up for a bad deal, but they will to get out of a worse deal.

Counselor Jones:

It is unhelpful when trying to sway a juror to tell them that they have been duped. It may or may not be true but it pre-disposes the juror to disregard everything else you have to say and vote against you.

Your dismissal of the importance of ideology because "we all end up in the same place anyway" has always bugged me. I've heard that argument or a variation of it since college and it always struck me as fatuous wisdom pronounced from an ivory tower way high up in the clouds and a long way away. Yes it is true that communism may be morphing into capitalism and that morphing does take time; but that argument breezily dismisses the millions and millions and millions of dead, the oceans of hard soul destroying suffering, the starvation and horror that that portion of humanity living under the communists had to take while the ideology that inflicted it was getting around to transforming.

A particular ideology did that to those people. It does matter.

Bob's World
01-29-2011, 12:51 AM
Did they die because the oppressors fought to keep them in chains, or because of the ideology they adopted to break free?

Fact is that self-serving and evil men prey on vulnerable governments and populaces. Often a populace ends up in worse hands than what they had before. That is far more a function of the nature of man than a function of the nature of ideology.

slapout9
01-29-2011, 01:05 AM
Similarly, these too are morphing into a bunch of captitalists.

Thats the Big Con Job. There is very little difference between to the two. BOTH end up with a non-elected, non-accountable elite few in control of the vital system of production. The only real difference was one would have power primarily concentrated in Labor Unions the other in Communist Corporations...so far the Corporations are winning.

carl
01-29-2011, 01:17 AM
Did they die because the oppressors fought to keep them in chains, or because of the ideology they adopted to break free?

Counselor, there you go befuddling this juror again. The Russians in their millions and the Chinese in their millions died at the hands of communists who decided that they should. At the time, those communists were quite vocal about saying that everything they did was in the name of and to further communism, their ideology. That is what I know.


Fact is that self-serving and evil men prey on vulnerable governments and populaces. Often a populace ends up in worse hands than what they had before. That is far more a function of the nature of man than a function of the nature of ideology.

This juror is longing to look at the guy seated next to him to exchange a look but won't because it is contrary to the decorum of the court.

Yes, it is in the nature of man to do bad things. And it is in nature that some men do more bad things than other men. And some ideologies make it easier for men to do bad things. Bad men tend to gravitate to those ideologies. Mao probably couldn't have done the things he did if he was a Quaker so he didn't long to be a Friend. Communism made it much easier for him. It was an ideology that facilitated evil to a greater extent than Quakerism.

Ideologies matter.

Dayuhan
01-29-2011, 01:59 AM
We need to recognize and prioritize the opportunity currently provided by the people of the region. We need to lend stability to these inevitable transitions, to empower and facilitate evolution of government in order to prevent revolution of government. This means a mix of both assuring allies and cautioning/threatening them to be careful in how they respond to their populaces. Similarly to be supportive and cautioning/threatening to these populaces as well in regards to how we support peaceful evolution, self-determination and the principles we proclaim so loudly in our own founding documents; but that we will not stand idly by to outrages on the part of either side.

I know this is said with the best of intentions, but have you any idea how patronizing and paternalistic it sounds? It also sets up a quintessentially American situation: we come riding over the hill pronouncing loudly "fear not, America is here to lend stability, to empower and facilitate, to guide and enlighten"... then we get all wounded and resentful when the populace tells us to piss off and die.

Don't think the populaces of these countries are going to welcome us with open arms and gratitude just because our intentions are noble. They won't. They don't trust us. They assume, not without reason, that we are interfering to advance our own interests. Nobody in the Middle East is going to believe that America is intervening to support the common people. Not too many in America would believe it. I'm not sure I'd believe it.

One of the great cognitive dissonances that dominates this debate is the assumption that because dictator X or despot Y is "a US ally", they must therefore be a US dependent or a US puppet, and that therefore the US can make them stop being naughty if we only try. This is a load of bollocks. An ally is simply a nation with which we share a common interest at any given point, not a nation that we control. We have a whole lot less influence over these nations than some people like to think, and they are not going to change simply because we tell them to. We can caution and threaten all we want: we will generally be ignored. Governments around the world, even our allies, don't do what we tell them to do. I'd have thought that obvious.

I also do not think for a moment that AQ is an expression of a desire for freedom and liberty. I don't think AQ has anything to do with freedom and liberty, nor does anyone in the Middle East think they do. They draw support as long as they fight foreign invasion of Muslim lands: that's the narrative that works for them, that's why they so badly needed the US to come into Afghanistan.

It is true that AQ has tried to raise populaces against Arab leaders. It's important to note, though, that these attempts have failed miserably. They had their best shot in Saudi Arabia in the 90s. That should have been fertile ground for them: an unpopular and unrepresentative government, US troops all over the place, a severe recession driven by an oil glut widely perceived to be forced by the US. They still failed. They drew support from a small fringe, but the populace never joined in, they never came close to critical mass, and the effort fell flat. That's not because the populace loved the royals, they just didn't see AQ as a viable alternative. They are willing to send support to AQ, cheer for AQ, send fighters to help the cause... as long as the jihad is somewhere else. When it comes home, it's a different story.

It would be a huge mistake to think that everyone who supports AQ wants AQ to take power in their own country. There are plenty in the Gulf who will willingly wallow in wanton western ways 6 days a week and salve their conscience by writing a check to Jihad Inc on the 7th. They aren't that different from the Christers in that respect, and that does not mean they want Osama in charge of their lives. They just like the idea of him fighting the good fight against the infidel... somewhere else.


We have an opportunity for "Malaya in the Desert," but that will only happen if we can break our Cold War paradigms and find the right balance between stability and change, between governments and populaces, between influence and control.

We can't have a "Malaya in the desert", because our position in the desert is in no way analogous to the British position in Malaya. Malaya was under British control. We cannot adjust government/populace relations in the Middle East, because we aren't the government. We cannot exercise or relinquish control in the Middle East, because we haven't any control to exercise or relinquish.

jmm99
01-29-2011, 02:24 AM
from BW
We are America. We shouldn't have dictators.

No, we Americans shouldn't have dictators.

But, by what right have you or any other American to extend that "shouldn't have" to the rest of the World ?

I expect you were happy with the President's speech, which was pure Wilsonialism. Woodrow would have been proud.

But then, I'm but an old dinosaur - nigh onto ready to share space with Henry Cabot Lodge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Cabot_Lodge):


The United States is the world's best hope, but if you fetter her in the interests and quarrels of other nations, if you tangle her in the intrigues of Europe, you will destroy her powerful good, and endanger her very existence. Leave her to march freely through the centuries to come, as in the years that have gone. Strong, generous, and confident, she has nobly served mankind. Beware how you trifle with your marvelous inheritance; this great land of ordered liberty. For if we stumble and fall, freedom and civilization everywhere will go down in ruin.

Substitute the "intrigues of the Arab World" for the "intrigues of Europe".

Regards

Mike

Ken White
01-29-2011, 03:23 AM
Russia vs the Romanovs?
Maoist China vs the pro-west Nationalists?
French dominated, then US dominated Vietnam?
Batista's Cuba?
British dominated Malaya?
US dominated Philippines?

The simple fact is that in post WWI and post WWII upheavals, communism was an ideology of change that spoke to populaces seeking change.That is true -- why do you not at least note the fact that it failed in its promise in all of those nations, that it killed more people than the regimes it replaced? Your concern for the oppressed is noteworthy. It is also IMO excessive in that your concern insists that they behave as you propose and not as they might wish. You need to remove the blinders.

Further evidence of that:
Is Protestantism a "benign" ideology? Yes. Did it take down an empire? Equally yes.

Is Communism a "benign" ideology? Yes. Did it reshape Western Colonial control of Asia? Equally yes.

Is Islamism a "benign" ideology? Yes. Will it reshape Western influence over North Africa and the Middle East. Most likely.

The real ideology in all of those places, times and example was the ideology of liberty and self-determination.The Protestantism that took down an empire was far from benign, it was ferociously militant and violent -- even cruel. It may be benign now but it was not at all benign back in the day.

Communism as perverted by the USSR and China is responsible for more deaths than the World Wars. And you call that benign? Hmmph. :rolleyes:

Islamism is not benign. Islam is, the -ism is not. None of the -isms are particularly benign and that includes 'Americanism.'
I'm sorry if that hurts the feelings of some, but the historic facts can be argued, but they are what they are.That's not going to hurt the feelings of anyone. Though it could to call your logic into question... :wry:

OTOH, this:
Carl,

You are a victim of effective propaganda.is borderline insulting. One who disagrees with you is the victim of propaganda? The implication there is that you have found the Holy Grail and the path of true righteousness and anyone who disagrees is deluded. Heh. Here's a possible delusion:
...Did they die because the oppressors fought to keep them in chains, or because of the ideology they adopted to break free?

Fact is that self-serving and evil men prey on vulnerable governments and populaces. Often a populace ends up in worse hands than what they had before. That is far more a function of the nature of man than a function of the nature of ideology.While I can agree that mankind is most at fault -- As I have said many times (and with particular reference to the US, another factor you tend to ignore) -- that does not give the ideology that they co-opted a pass. Your reference to ideology "driving the bus" is somewhat apt and if that bus is deliberately running down pedestrians and smashing cars, the driver is at fault. You cannot give him a pass, Mister Prosecutor... ;)

Here are two quotes, the first from Dayuhan, the second from jmm99. I commend both to you for thought.

""have you any idea how patronizing and paternalistic it sounds? It also sets up a quintessentially American situation: we come riding over the hill pronouncing loudly "fear not, America is here to lend stability, to empower and facilitate, to guide and enlighten"... then we get all wounded and resentful when the populace tells us to piss off and die.""

""But, by what right have you or any other American to extend that "shouldn't have" to the rest of the World ?""

Cliff
01-29-2011, 08:35 AM
Carl,

You are a victim of effective propaganda. Think about it. When a populace is ripe for change it will take whatever bus pulls up to the stop. But once the dust settles, the ideology is typically moot. Look at all of the primarily Protestant countries today. Not all that radical, just a bunch of largely democratic capitalists. Look at all of the primarily communist countries today. Similarly, these too are morphing into a bunch of captitalists. They have a way to go on human rights, but these things take time.

Bob, are you actually arguing that the path these countries took is for the best? Can you really say that ideology is moot? You do realize that for a long time no one had a clue about the horrors that were being perpetrated by Stalin and Lenin, and actually fell for the Soviet propaganda about how successful and happy the USSR was. The UK, Germany, France, Italy - all were considering adopting socialism/communism. At the same time, Stalin was killing millions of his own folks. This was not because the folks got on whatever bus pulled up to the stop- it was because Lenin intentionally undermined the Russian government.


Same with the Islamists. They are not the enemy, they are merely driving the bus. All we have to do is provide those same populaces with an alternative to the Islamist bus. Tunisia is leaning away from the Islamists, and I suspect Egypt will as well. No one wants to sign up for a bad deal, but they will to get out of a worse deal.

I don't think the Islamists are driving the bus. They are attempting to fulfill their interests... by shaping the narrative and seizing power. They haven't been effective anywhere where they haven't had massive external support. That isn't the same thing as being in charge.

I agree with Dayuhan and the other folks - we cannot "provide an alternative" in some deux ex machina way. We can encourage, support, help... and I agree with you that we should strive to always set the example. But we can't stop working with every government in the world that doesn't conform to our notions of democracy... we would end up isolating ourselves and would actually be less effective at supporting democracy worldwide. The best thing we can do to help is be ourselves, keep talking to the folks in these countries, and try and build as many economic, social, and military ties with them so that if things do change we have some personal relationships and a basic level of trust to start from. As you say, it must be the people's choice- and if you look at history they are far more likely to choose freedom and democracy if they have a basic level of economic well-being first.

Finally, I agree with Dayuhan about the arrogance element... it took us (the United States) over 200 years to fully reach the basic level of freedom that you are arguing we should "provide" to the people in the Arab world... In the meantime we severely repressed multiple ethnic groups, most of which conducted what most folks on this esteemed board would term insurgencies. Oh yeah, and one of those insurgencies resulted in a full-up civil war that cost the nation 700,000 casualties. All in the name of ideology...

If we applied the same patience to our dealings with other countries, we would be a lot better off and avoid a lot of the interventions Dayuhan warns against. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it after all...

V/R,

Cliff

Bob's World
01-29-2011, 10:31 AM
Yes, Ideology is moot.

As ken points out people in such periods of popular revolt and turmoil are just as ruthless under Methodist ideology as they are under Communist ideology as they are under Islamist ideology.

It is not, and never has been, about ideology. Every insurgency must employ one to be successful, but it is only the grease that keeps things moving and the glue that binds things together. The energy behind such movements is always the nature of the relationship between those who govern and those who are governed.

Mike: I totally agree that it is not our call to shape governments for others. My comment is only that the tried and true foreign policy TTP of nurturing and supporting foreign despots is obsolete and also the primary reason that nationalist insurgents sign up for the AQ road team to bring violence to America. This was becoming apparent in the information age of Steam and teletypes when the British Empire rolled up in the face of popular pressure. It is far more true today. Now, if a populace WANTs a dictator, the US should not interfere with that either. To pick such a leader, if done openly, is a form or self-determination and democracy. Not our call to judge.

Ciff: I feel where you are coming from, but you are operating off of some bad data (and our "no blame on the US" version of history and our flawed COIN doctrine and analysis of GWOT don't help). The US Civil war, for example, was by no logical definition an "insurgency." It was legal politics at work. The duly elected representatives of several states exercised principles of democracy to join together and suceed from the Union. The Unions government disagreed with their right to do so, and acted to overcome that political action with military force to bring them back into the Union. Not an insurgency. A new nation was formed and then the two nations waged war against each other to determine if that action would stand.

Insurgency is illegal politics, and exercised outside of the formal governmental process.

Surferbeetle
01-29-2011, 02:07 PM
Bob,

Too many hours in air conditioned staff-land can result in the attitude that flippantly sprinkling some PowerPoint prose on a problem will result in it's immediate resolution by the little people.

Meanwhile, out in the hot sunshine of operations-land, the dirty boots folks (aka the little people) continue to sweat and sometimes die as they do their best to implement that PowerPoint prose.

Answering Dayuhan and Ken's last few posts point by point will require moving away from the intellectual a/c and engaging in some sweating on your part. Think of it as the equivalent of battlefield circulation with all of the benefits of perspective that that effort brings...

Steve

Ken White
01-29-2011, 04:11 PM
Yes, Ideology is moot.It cannot be moot if it is "the driver of the bus, the grease that keeps things moving and the glue that binds things together." If those are true allegories, I suggest that killing the driver can lead to a runaway bus, a little sand in the grease can destroy the gears and a bit of citric acid or a solvent will often turn a glue problem intro an unholy mess.

In any case, ideologies will cause changes and those frequently will not be benign. They will or may also call for some type of action on the part of involved or interested parties -- thus they are far from being moot.
As ken points out people in such periods of popular revolt and turmoil are just as ruthless under Methodist ideology as they are under Communist ideology as they are under Islamist ideology.That's not exactly what I said or meant but thank you for making the point that people may be and usually are the problem -- however it is the ideology that skews their actions in a particular direction that may be inimical to good order...
The energy behind such movements is always the nature of the relationship between those who govern and those who are governed.We can disagree on that, vehemently if necessary. You accord government / governance entirely too much sway and ideology -- or evil and a quest for money or power -- not enough...;)

On this:
Ciff: I feel where you are coming from, but you are operating off of some bad data (and our "no blame on the US" version of history and our flawed COIN doctrine and analysis of GWOT don't help).Let me suggest once again that you're being borderline insulting. Stating flatly that another is operating off "bad data" and other deficient in your view factors is arrogant (which is okay by me, I indulge), an assumption on your part (which I try to and we all should avoid) and / or a sly way to lessen the impact of points or argument made by another (which most here try to avoid). In such a forum as this, it can be construed as unduly dismissive of the views of another by a process of implying evil intent or stupidity at worst, ignorance or inanity at best. Hopefully and probably, that's not your intent but the implication that what the other person said was ludicrous so thus can and should be dismissed isn't conducive to discussion. ;) ;)

Bob's World
01-29-2011, 04:50 PM
Ideology gets a lot of attention. But it does not cause insurgency. Nor does ideology cause men to abuse power to kill other men without just cause.

Neither Christianity nor Islam have clean hands in that regard, with neither being distinguishably better or worse than the other in terms their historic records in that regard.

Similarly with political ideologies.

We can pick a nation, such as Vietnam and say "look at how many have suffered there under communism," and not be wrong in that assessment. It is a historic fact.

It is also a historic fact that Vietnam wanted to be free from Colonial rule, and that after assisting the West in defeating the Japanese with the promise/expectation that their liberation would be their reward, they were instead handed back to the French and expected to submit once again to colonial rule. It was only at that point that they embraced Mao's proven model and ideology to motivate the populace to stand up and seek liberty.

All of that could have been avoided if the US would have simply honored its commitment to Ho Chi Minh following WWII. If the U.S. would have simply recognized their universal right to liberty and self-determination.

To blame what followed on Communist ideology is a corruption of history and mis-understands the role of ideology in such movements.

A current vogue is "counter-radicalization" to un-brainwash those who buy into Islamist ideologies as the path to nationalist liberty in places that are currently in the news or bracing for their eventual move to the front page as popular revolt continues to spread.

I ask simply, is it the ideology of those promising liberty that "radicalizes" a populace, or is it the actions of a government that denies liberty that "radicalizes" a populace??

All things being equal, clearly some ideologies are more acceptable than others; but they are not the cause of radicalization, they are merely the vehicle that those radicalized by their own governments ride upon to liberty.

Ken White
01-29-2011, 05:51 PM
Ideology gets a lot of attention. But it does not cause insurgency. Nor does ideology cause men to abuse power to kill other men without just cause.The first clause is possibly true, the second is at a minimum arguable. That third assertion certainly does not merit the finality with which you state it, is an opinion and what is or is not a just cause is subjective. Many people are dead to due ideologies trumping reason. You have cited a few that fall in that 'incitement to homicide' state that was likely not justifiable by much of anyone other than the perpetrators at the time -- not least militant protestantism. :wry:
All of that could have been avoided if the US would have simply honored its commitment to Ho Chi Minh following WWII. If the U.S. would have simply recognized their universal right to liberty and self-determination.More than arguable. Whether France would have acceded to such US 'recognition' cannot be known.
To blame what followed on Communist ideology is a corruption of history and mis-understands the role of ideology in such movements.I did not see anyone make such a claim. Cannot speak for others but I referred to the deaths caused by that ideology and my reference was to those within and by the Soviet Union and China that directly resulted from autocrats perverting communism per se into an aberrant ideology. An ideology that was directly responsible for emplacement of those persons who caused those tens of millions of deaths within those two nations. What that ideology caused elsewhere is arguable but it, worldwide, emphatically was not benign or moot.
I ask simply, is it the ideology of those promising liberty that "radicalizes" a populace, or is it the actions of a government that denies liberty that "radicalizes" a populace??You do not ask, you assert constantly that is the case. It is an opinion to which you are entitled but one which several of us with broadly equal experience do not agree. That type of radicalization frequently occurs. What also occurs is that ill intentioned people hijack an ideology for their own purposes, convince gullible persons to support them in the name of an ideology and set off in search of money or power and their concern for the populace is later revealed to be so much blather and the poor fools who bought into that ideology find they were duped and -- as in Iran -- are worse off than they were before they were 'helped.'

It would really be nice if things were simple, pity they aren't.

Bob's World
01-29-2011, 06:30 PM
No it is indeed a question. Yes I believe based upon the totality of my training and experience for it to be true, but to the SWC it is indeed a question for them to ponder.

Certainly no less substantiated than so much the the theory that man creates to help to understand human conflict. Be it "war is war", or "sanctuary is ungoverned spaces" or CvC's trinity, etc, etc, etc. There are no absolutes, but some concepts are more helpful than others.

I believe that the majority position on ideology is biased by the natural tendency to avoid responsibility on the part of a government for rebellions within their own populaces ,or the populaces they seek to subjugate through colonization or some similar control and influence. I also believe it is a position that blinds governments to effective prevention and leads to greater human suffering than if they took a more responsible approach to governance. But I recognize I am out in front on this, and also that I may be out in front because I am headed in the wrong direction. But I don't think I am.

slapout9
01-29-2011, 06:32 PM
What also occurs is that ill intentioned people hijack an ideology for their own purposes, convince gullible persons to support them in the name of an ideology and set off in search of money or power and their concern for the populace is later revealed to be so much blather and the poor fools who bought into that ideology find they were duped and -- as in Iran -- are worse off than they were before they were 'helped.'



Now that is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Ken White
01-29-2011, 07:09 PM
...to the SWC it is indeed a question for them to ponder.Not just SWC, I think...
There are no absolutes, but some concepts are more helpful than others.True. However, concepts that blind one to other possibilities are rarely helpful.
But I recognize I am out in front on this, and also that I may be out in front because I am headed in the wrong direction. But I don't think I am.Of course you don't or you wouldn't beat it to death so regularly. I don't think you're headed in the wrong direction though it does often appear you have latched onto an overly specific azimuth of theory rather than a direction of travel -- and that to the exclusion of all others. "No deviants" amounts to an ideology...

That is of course your prerogative. I'd also suggest you are not out in front because what you posit is neither radical or innovative, you just are an exceptionally strong proponent for a theory espoused by others; Sachs, Nye, James Earl Carter et.al. currently, Aristotle way back when...

It's a theory. Like most it is often correct but sometimes wrong. As is always true, determining that a given theory is gospel (witness US Cold War theory...) can delude one into occasionally following a wrong path. As you say, there are no absolutes and it behooves one to not let a concept become concrete booties...

Cliff
01-29-2011, 07:28 PM
I believe that the majority position on ideology is biased by the natural tendency to avoid responsibility on the part of a government for rebellions within their own populaces ,or the populaces they seek to subjugate through colonization or some similar control and influence. I also believe it is a position that blinds governments to effective prevention and leads to greater human suffering than if they took a more responsible approach to governance. But I recognize I am out in front on this, and also that I may be out in front because I am headed in the wrong direction. But I don't think I am.

Bob-

Do you really think that Al Qaeda would change it's stripes if we withdrew from the Middle East and every dictator was thrown out? It has nothing to do with governance - it has to do with the fact that they believe in a global caliphate run on the principles of Islamic law - and they believe that this is a religious duty. I don't care how good of a democracy you have, these folks won't change their tune.

You have to admit that there are people out there leading many of these groups who have vested interests in finding grievances with their governments - it gives them their power, which is all many of these folks really want.

I don't think anyone here is arguing that good governance doesn't help prevent/combat insurgencies. But the idea that it is governance will solve everything, or that governments are THE cause of insurgencies, ignores the many sources of discontent, not all of which are in the government's control. The truth, as usual, is probably somewhere in the middle, not at any extreme.

The one aspect of this that may be true is the people's perceptions. Folks have a very Hollywood view of democracy, the US, and the West. When we roll in to assist or "democracy" takes over, people expect that things will instantly get better- ignoring our own 200+ year struggle to get it right. So in some sense those perceptions may affect the outcome.

Finally, I am a little tired of having my arguments dismissed on the basis of "bad data". If you think I am wrong, then cite some sources to back up your argument. I have cited numerous articles in my discussions. Your dismissal of other people's arguments based on your "being out front" smacks of the exact hubris that you are accusing the majority of the west of having - the sense that you are right and know better than everyone else. I know it's probably not intentional but it makes it a loss less fun to have these discussions with you.

V/R,

Cliff

jmm99
01-29-2011, 07:30 PM
From post #73 in this thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=114815&postcount=73):


Mike: I totally agree that it is not our call to shape governments for others. My comment is only that the tried and true foreign policy TTP of nurturing and supporting foreign despots is obsolete and also the primary reason that nationalist insurgents sign up for the AQ road team to bring violence to America. This was becoming apparent in the information age of Steam and teletypes when the British Empire rolled up in the face of popular pressure. It is far more true today. Now, if a populace WANTs a dictator, the US should not interfere with that either. To pick such a leader, if done openly, is a form or self-determination and democracy. Not our call to judge.

I'd read this as a general statement of non-interventionism.

But then this from post #23 in the Egypt thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=114814&postcount=23):


Legal, trusted, and certain means of influencing government are far superior to illegal means. But when Illegal means are the only option, they are far superior to oppression and despotism. But this could go bad in a 100 different ways to be sure.

The only thing worse than acting out illegally in the pursuit of liberty is to do nothing.

I'd read this as a general statement of interventionism (Wilsonialism ) - perhaps, even an "on steroids" version if the last sentence is taken literally.

That being said, your posts (and Wilf's also) have had one virtue. That virtue has been to solidify in my mind my own general positions and the exceptions to those general positions. "Never Again, But...." does have that "But" in it.

Regards

Mike

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"Wilsonialism" (not an extensively used term) was defined here, Trine Flockhart, The Europeanization of Europe: The transfer of norms to Europe, in Europe and from Europe (http://kms1.isn.ethz.ch/serviceengine/Files/ISN/55452/ipublicationdocument_singledocument/fcaae180-5fe3-471a-b2f3-c638dddf7ab1/en/WP08-7_Europeanization_of_Europe_The_Transfer_of_Norms. pdf) (DIIS Working Paper no 2008/7) (p.31 pdf):


The new ideas, which were now diffused into Europe came from the United States and were based on the American creed [20] and on an American notion of world order based on anti-imperialism and pro-nationalism, most famously expressed in the Wilsonian agenda of the Versailles Peace Treaty. Arguably the ideas were based on an American, and much more liberal, interpretation of the ideas of the Enlightenment, and as such do have a European origin, albeit in a different interpretation. The ideas expressed in Wilsonialism are basically part of an American belief in its own exceptionalism on the one hand, and in the universalism of its ideas on the other.

With the changed balance of power in the post WW1 period and the discrediting of the European idea set, initially in the slaughter of the First World War and later in the atrocities of Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism, and on the latest occasion, in the violent nationalisms during the break-up of Yugoslavia, the setting was in place for a moralistic and ideological foreign policy involving a conscious transfer of the American idea set into Europe.

The ideational content of Wilsonialism has been refined and further specified throughout the 20th century, but its essence has remained the three core notions of democracy, open economic markets and international institutions.

20 The text of the American's Creed is: ‘I believe in the United States of America as a Government of the People, by the People, for the People; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; A democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many Sovereign States; a perfect Union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of Freedom, Equality, Justice, and Humanity for which American Patriots sacrificed their Lives and Fortunes’. Page 1917. Of course the ideas contained in the American Creed and in Wilsonialism are based on mainly European enlightenment ideas, but their emphasis is on the liberal interpretation of the Enlightenment rather than the rational interpretation.

Wilsonialism can be rather easily viewed as a form of neo-colonialism, albeit overtly expressed in very benign terms. Note that a "Creed" is a belief - one cannot argue with a belief. So, to a non-American (not raised on that "Creed"), Wilsonialism may well appear to be based on arrogance and hubris.

Surferbeetle
01-29-2011, 09:29 PM
...a theory espoused by others; Sachs, Nye, James Earl Carter et.al. currently, Aristotle way back when...

Interesting amalgam Ken...educational as always...let's see if I got them right:

Aristotle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle), Polymath Greek Philosopher concerned with logic, ethics, and politics

James Earl Carter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Carter), US President, Naval Officer, Human Rights Advocate, Democrat

Gerald Nye (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Nye), US Senator, former Journalist, no friend of the munitions industry or the intersection of oil interests and politics, Republican

Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Sachs), Economist, Poverty Fighter, Development Expert

All humanists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanists), all committed students of politics, all of whom who have demonstrated an acknowledgement and appreciation for the complexities of life, and three of which who have a marked quantitative streak (Aristotle, Carter, and Sachs)

I don't see the connection... :D

Focusing upon Tunisia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunisia), the former breadbasket of Rome and most competitive economy in Africa - 41 Billion USD GDP, I wonder about where that crack team of native or neutral international advisors (of Dr. Sachs caliber or of the caliber touted in the Jan 11 edition of the Atlantic - The Rise of the New Ruling Class (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/the-rise-of-the-new-global-elite/8343/)) are training as they wait for a political figure to rise from the Darwinian struggle currently wracking that nation.

With the availability and power of new media and of social networks, not to mention our recent experiences, why is it that we are still instinctively reaching out for a military solution (duct tape and gerber tools)....instead of looking to a non-military differential diagnosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_Poverty#Clinical_economics) and response focused upon discrete benchmarks? :wry:

Ken White
01-29-2011, 11:47 PM
Surferbeetle;114843

In order:

"The natural community according to Aristotle was the city (polis) which functions as a political "community" or "partnership" (koinōnia). The aim of the city is not just to avoid injustice or for economic stability, but rather to allow at least some citizens the possibility to live a good life, and to perform beautiful acts: "The political partnership must be regarded, therefore, as being for the sake of noble actions, not for the sake of living together." (emphasis added /kw)

"One of Carter's most bitterly controversial decisions was his boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow in response to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan." "Carter's personal attention to detail, seeming indecisiveness, and weakness with people."

Wrong Nye. LINK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Nye). "He is widely recognized as one of the foremost liberal thinkers on foreign policy." "Nye coined the term soft power in the late 1980s and it first came into widespread usage following a piece he wrote in Foreign Policy in the early 1990s."

"In his 2005 work, The End of Poverty, Sachs wrote "Africa's governance is poor because Africa is poor." According to Sachs, with the right policies and key interventions, extreme poverty — defined as living on less than $1 a day — can be eradicated within 20 years."

All are believers in the good of governance (properly done as they see it, of course...) -- that being their similarity to the Bob's World philosophy.
I don't see the connection... The connection is the disconnect between those theorists and their 'good governance' -- and reality. They espouse governance on a higher plane and well over 70% of the world does not enjoy such luxury. Do the math, as they say...;)
Focusing upon Tunisia...I wonder about where that crack team of native or neutral international advisors... are training as they wait for a political figure to rise from the Darwinian struggle currently wracking that nation.As traders in the City of London and on Wall Street? :eek:
...why is it that we are still instinctively reaching out for a military solution (duct tape and gerber tools)....instead of looking to a non-military (differential diagnosis) and response focused upon discrete benchmarks? Good question. I agree that, with Nations "...an understanding of context, monitoring and evaluation, and professional standards of ethics.[1] Clinical economics requires a methodic analysis and "differential diagnosis" of a country's economic problems, followed by a specifically tailored prescription."(emphasis added / kw)

Sach's most important statement in that quote is the item I placed in bold; every war is different, every nation is different, every situation is different. You cannot put mankind in a box, quantify things and state you've found the grail, holy or otherwise. However, lest you think I'm changing positions, I am not a Sachs fan and I'm quite dubious about 'clinical economics.' I do believe that with ANY determinations regarding nations, a thorough analysis is required and the knowledge that parameters can and will change rapidly must be superimposed on all analyses. Nations are made up of people and people are volatile and notoriously unpredictable. Undependable creatures for the most part...:rolleyes:

All four I cited really got and get very little traction -- but all believed that good governance would stop problems before they began. So apparently does Bob' World. I agree. The difference between those five and I is that, based on observation, I'm extremely doubtful that people will cooperate. :(

Bob's World
01-30-2011, 12:21 AM
Mike,

You took a statement I made regarding our own actions on the first part, and then compared it to a statement I made regarding the actions of the affected populace on the second part. I might not have been clear, no intent to drive you nuts.

Cliff,

When have I ever said the US should withdraw from the Middle East? Never. Ever. We are over engaged and have been since the end of WWII, shaping governance in ways that have helped disempower populaces from the process of governance and in ways that have enabled so many of these governments to act with growing impunity toward those same populaces. We need to change the nature of our engagement to one that is less controlling. To withdraw would leave a vacuum that would be a disaster that I would never advocate.

I will be the first to admit that I shine a harsh light on government. I do so for a range of reasons. Certainly I believe that government is the greatest source of causation for insurgency. I stand by that and will listen calmly to any who can point out situations where that is not the case. So, point one out and lets discuss it. But ideology is everywhere. In the US right now we are surrounded by the protestant ideologies that changed the West, by the communist ideologies that changed the East, and by the Islamist ideologies that are changing the Middle East. Yet where is the insurgency? We have economic hardships, we have a large segment of the populace that is extremely dissatisfied with the current government, yet again, no insurgency? To understand insurgency one cannot merely study where it is, but one must also study where it is not. So ideology is not enough, poor economics are not enough, and a disdain for the current government are not enough. In some countries any one of those three might be enough on its own. What makes the difference?

But in America we are blessed with a uniquely reliable "hope" in the confidence that the vast majority of Americans have that the system will work. That voting is reasonably trustworthy and that a government will not override the system and ignore the popular will to stay in power through co-opting of the elements of state power. States without such hope are vulnerable, and insurgencies almost always happen in states where the legal means either nevery have existed or have been turned off by the government.

States where the populace does not recognize the right of the government to govern are similarly vulnerable to ideological attack. It is this aspect of "legitmacy" that is so important to stability, and it is not the same as "official". Also States where some segment of the populace is excluded from fair participation in economic and political opportunity. Or where the rule of law is perceived as unjust in its application. All of these factors of governance make a state vulnerable to ideological attack. States where those factors do not exist are remarkably stable, even when poverty and other problems are rampant. These are all things that are within the power of government to do well or poorly as they choose, and typically it is a conscious choice of government when they do not exist.

Now, governments don't like to hear that. They like to hear that they are the victim of malign actors or radical ideology. They like to believe that it is the poor economy that is causing unrest or anything else that is outside their power to control. History just does not bear that out.

My advice to Mubarak would be not to step down immediately but to declare that he will absolutely do so and not run in the fall. To also announce that he is dedicating the next several months to broadly attended hearings, counsels, etc to get all of the grievances on the table and then to have panels of senior, credible leaders from many walks of life work out solutions to those problems. To also pledge to personally stay out of those processes and to focus his final months to ensuring that a secure and stable environment exists for such sessions to take place within. To grant freedom of speech and assembly and having CSPAN like coverage of as many of these sessions as possible.

I would recommend to other Arab heads of state to consider similar changes to avoid the problems that have hit Tunisia and Egypt. I will not grant governments victim status. I will not shift the blame to the people, nor will I buy into positions that claim the people are brainwashed or coerced to act out. Certainly that happens, but it is the exception rather than the rule. These are things within the power of government to address. Currently these governments don't think they have to. I think they are wrong.

Pete
01-30-2011, 12:57 AM
Certainly I believe that government is the greatest source of causation for insurgency.
A lot of the inspiration for terrorism is a sense of existential blues and trying to find someone or something to blame for them. As long as the U.S. is one of the most powerful countries in the world people will continue to blame us no matter what we do. If we as the U.S. fail to take action against unjust governments we're to blame; if we take action against them we're intervening in another nation's affairs.

In addition to that is a loud-mouth intellegensia around the world which for the most part has never had the albatross of having had to be responsible for accomplishing anything. Put in another way, they're the college professors and New York intellectuals who don't have the leadership to make a squad of troops clean up a latrine. However, their lack of experience has never stopped them from having opinions or saying that this or that should have been done.

Surferbeetle
01-30-2011, 06:12 AM
Ken,

I too find that people are interesting and worth watching. Not only do I understand why folks of a certain age enjoy sitting in public places and watching the parade of humanity go by, I find that I am starting to devote some of my time to this sport :eek:

Like you, I believe, I am a fan of using concepts such as ASCOPE, Area Assessments, Political Assessments, Value Chain Analysis, Industry Surveys, Business Ratios, etc in order to get a general sense of what is going on in the arenas which capture my interest...interestingly, all of these methods use fundamental principles from systems analysis which itself borrows from ecology. Yet, I agree, none of these techniques and disciplines fully capture/describe the complexity we see.

Stochastic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic) behaviour and duality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave-particle_duality)...the simultaneous existence of wave and particle (echo's of yin/yang), are two concepts that come to mind when I think about how to try and describe people/mankind quantitatively. Things are actually more complex, I believe, than what Steven E. Shreve (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_E._Shreve) covers in his books Stochastic Calculus for Finance I and II, more complex than what Bernt Oksendal covers in his book Stochastic Differential Equations, and more complex than what Paul Glasserman covers in his book Monte Carlo Methods in Financial Engineering. I am not a mathematician, nonetheless, I am slooowly making my way through their works and recommend the journey to others. If I make it to my actuarially predicted endpoint, I won't be too surprised if computer power and analytical techniques will have evolved to the point where we are able to provide quantifiable predictions, based upon underlying principles yet to be described, which exceed those provided by the USG sponsored Political Instability Task Force (http://globalpolicy.gmu.edu/pitf/pitfp5.htm) (George Mason University).

I consistently enjoy Dr. Sachs' analytical rigor, my copy of The End of Poverty is marked up/tabbed/highlighted, however I am still thinking about the actual deliverables resulting from his efforts, those of George Soros (influenced by Karl Popper) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_society), those of select Austrian Banks, those of GE Capital, and the Treuhandanstalt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treuhand) in Eastern Europe during and after the fall of the Berlin Wall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolutions_of_1989). It's important to qualify that their efforts are but part of the story and some of my experiences in the ME (and banking for that matter) have revealed to me some of the darker aspects of people which they do not appear to account for in their analysis and calculations.

Are some of the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Iraq directly comparable to those of Eastern Europe during and after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Perhaps, however my understanding is limited, and it’s still very early in the timeline to try and start making predictions. I'd be interested in your thoughts regarding the benchmarks I am using versus your experiences and observations.

Steve

Cliff
01-30-2011, 07:39 AM
When have I ever said the US should withdraw from the Middle East? Never. Ever. We are over engaged and have been since the end of WWII, shaping governance in ways that have helped disempower populaces from the process of governance and in ways that have enabled so many of these governments to act with growing impunity toward those same populaces. We need to change the nature of our engagement to one that is less controlling. To withdraw would leave a vacuum that would be a disaster that I would never advocate.

How have we negatively shaped governance in the past 10 years? What SPECIFIC methods could we use to influence these countries to change absent the expressed will of the people? Who will decide? Your viewpoint is almost that of Lenin - the US is the cadre that will lead the people to freedom by showing them the way... democracy works a lot better when people are actually willing to fight for it...


I will be the first to admit that I shine a harsh light on government. I do so for a range of reasons. Certainly I believe that government is the greatest source of causation for insurgency. I stand by that and will listen calmly to any who can point out situations where that is not the case. So, point one out and lets discuss it. But ideology is everywhere. In the US right now we are surrounded by the protestant ideologies that changed the West, by the communist ideologies that changed the East, and by the Islamist ideologies that are changing the Middle East. Yet where is the insurgency? We have economic hardships, we have a large segment of the populace that is extremely dissatisfied with the current governmeant, yet again, no insurgency? To understand insurgency one cannot merely study where it is, but one must also study where it is not. So ideology is not enough, poor economics are not enough, and a disdain for the current government are not enough. In some countries any one of those three might be enough on its own. What makes the difference?

How are we surrounded by communist and Islamist ideologies in the US? Or are you talking in the international environment?


But in America we are blessed with a uniquely reliable "hope" in the confidence that the vast majority of Americans have that the system will work. That voting is reasonably trustworthy and that a government will not override the system and ignore the popular will to stay in power through co-opting of the elements of state power. States without such hope are vulnerable, and insurgencies almost always happen in states where the legal means either never have existed or have been turned off by the government.

If this is true why did we not see insurgencies in the 19th century when voting was heavily rigged by political machines?


States where the populace does not recognize the right of the government to govern are similarly vulnerable to ideological attack. It is this aspect of "legitimacy" that is so important to stability, and it is not the same as "official". Also States where some segment of the populace is excluded from fair participation in economic and political opportunity. Or where the rule of law is perceived as unjust in its application. All of these factors of governance make a state vulnerable to ideological attack. States where those factors do not exist are remarkably stable, even when poverty and other problems are rampant. These are all things that are within the power of government to do well or poorly as they choose, and typically it is a conscious choice of government when they do not exist.

Can you please name me a few examples of democratic well governed countries with abject poverty where the population is happy/satisfied with their status?

How about China? Massive unfairness, numerous groups marginalized - why no insurgency there? They have a big lack of governance... how do you explain this? You seem to be disregarding culture and mirror-imaging...


Now, governments don't like to hear that. They like to hear that they are the victim of malign actors or radical ideology. They like to believe that it is the poor economy that is causing unrest or anything else that is outside their power to control. History just does not bear that out.

US Revolutionary War (http://www.historycentral.com/revolt/causes.html), French Revolution (http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/lecture11a.html), Bolshevik Revolution (http://library.thinkquest.org/C0112205/leadingevents.html)- all caused in part by the collapse of said country's economies. Yes bad governance helped - but the primary cause was economic woes, often in the form of government debts. I would say history bears out that economic problems are often a big factor in sparking insurgency...


I would recommend to other Arab heads of state to consider similar changes to avoid the problems that have hit Tunisia and Egypt. I will not grant governments victim status. I will not shift the blame to the people, nor will I buy into positions that claim the people are brainwashed or coerced to act out. Certainly that happens, but it is the exception rather than the rule. These are things within the power of government to address. Currently these governments don't think they have to. I think they are wrong.

Bob, I'm not saying the people are brainwashed. The fact that they are part of a police state is obviously a huge factor.

But maybe, just maybe, could you admit that perhaps the fact that these countries have a lot of relatively well educated folks who don't have jobs, and their economies are stagnant when compared to even those of Africa, that this could be a factor in their discontent? Why do you think there are so many photos of Egyptians holding up bread at the protests?

Please provide concrete evidence to support your arguments if you disagree.

V/R,

Cliff

Fuchs
01-30-2011, 09:34 AM
How have we negatively shaped governance in the past 10 years? What SPECIFIC methods could we use to influence these countries to change absent the expressed will of the people? Who will decide?

The specific methods were for example delivery of arms (Saudi-Arabia's army is not hesitant at all to proclaim that its primary purpose is to keep the royal family in power), money aid and political backing.

20 years ago the U.S. reinstated a 100% obvious dictatorship in Kuwait after "liberating" it.


Mature citizens decide for themselves.


What the U.S. could do:
Support the opposition instead of dictatorships or at least drop the support for dictators.
Do not supply arms. The point here is not so much that this will deprive them off arms (others will sell them), but it'll make the army less happy and thus more inclined to not support the dictator in a critical moment.


Yesterday, several well-known Republican faces have overtly supported Mubarak and disparaged the popular uprising as a 1979-style revolution that needs to fail. Meanwhile, the U.S. governments is not doing much of substance overtly.

Bob's World
01-30-2011, 10:57 AM
A lot of the inspiration for terrorism is a sense of existential blues and trying to find someone or something to blame for them. As long as the U.S. is one of the most powerful countries in the world people will continue to blame us no matter what we do. If we as the U.S. fail to take action against unjust governments we're to blame; if we take action against them we're intervening in another nation's affairs.

In addition to that is a loud-mouth intellegensia around the world which for the most part has never had the albatross of having had to be responsible for accomplishing anything. Put in another way, they're the college professors and New York intellectuals who don't have the leadership to make a squad of troops clean up a latrine. However, their lack of experience has never stopped them from having opinions or saying that this or that should have been done.

Blame shifting is indeed a core human trait. I saw this in dealing with drug users in court. This is also a smart, powerful aspect of AQ's UW campaign, in essence "you cannot achieve the type of governance you deserve here at home until you break the moral/political influence of the West/US over your 'apostate' government". This strikes a powerful human cord, "yes our government has become apostate, but it is because they have been corrupted by the morality and wealth of the West" (so it is the West's fault, go attack the west, or contribute funds to those who promise to end this influence, etc). Some hear this, and think that ending Western influence is enough, others think that their corrupted government must go as well. There is a dozen ways to process this message and rationalize the need to act out illegally. (Plus, there are no effective legal venues for acting out so the populaces only choices are "endure" or "revolt.")

So a HIGH VALUE TARGET for the US is the widely held perception that our culture has a morally corrupting influence on the people and governments of the Middle East, and that our government manipulates/corrupts the governments with wealth, power and inappropriate meddling. Some places there is more reality to that then others, but it is the perception that matters. The U.S. has a golden opportunity during this current unrest to Engage THAT HIGH VALUE TARGET. I think the President's speech a couple nights ago re. Egypt was on target. We need to do more in that regard, but it is more symbolic and messaging, and backroom carrot and sticks discussions than anything else.

We cannot target and destroy "Islamist Ideology,"
We cannot target and destroy "corruption."
We cannot target and destroy "poverty."

But we can target and engage the perception that these things are our fault. This requires us to makes changes in ourselves rather than in others, and to admit a degree of liability for the political unrest in the region. Such admissions are the first part of a 12-step program for a reason. Healing cannot begin until acceptance of responsibility for ones actions occurs.

Bob's World
01-30-2011, 11:14 AM
Cliff,

Ok, you came up with one example: China.

"Suppressed Insurgency" is not the same as "no insurgency." The Uyghurs in the west, the situation in Tibet, the growing divide between the cities and the countryside, the haves and the have nots. China is a ticking bomb. Long before China is apt to become a power that can truly challenge the US it will likely implode due to their own suppressed internal problems. The conditions of insurgency are very high there, but reaction to them are suppressed. The same is true in Saudi Arabia and many of the Arab states that are currently in the news, or getting ready to come into the news. So China really is not a good example. Any others?

As to ideology you miss my point. You have full access to all forms of insurgent ideology, past and present, every day. This is what comes with freedom of speech and freedom of the press. And yet it has no impact on yourself or the vast majority of Americans to act out in the form of illegal politics. Even the Tea Party opts to take legal actions to speak out, to assemble, to put candidates on the ballot and get them legally elected into to office. Ideology is always there. But Ideology does not cause insurgency. So logically it must be something else.

Bob's World
01-30-2011, 11:33 AM
The specific methods were for example delivery of arms (Saudi-Arabia's army is not hesitant at all to proclaim that its primary purpose is to keep the royal family in power), money aid and political backing.

20 years ago the U.S. reinstated a 100% obvious dictatorship in Kuwait after "liberating" it.


Mature citizens decide for themselves.


What the U.S. could do:
Support the opposition instead of dictatorships or at least drop the support for dictators.
Do not supply arms. The point here is not so much that this will deprive them off arms (others will sell them), but it'll make the army less happy and thus more inclined to not support the dictator in a critical moment.


Yesterday, several well-known Republican faces have overtly supported Mubarak and disparaged the popular uprising as a 1979-style revolution that needs to fail. Meanwhile, the U.S. governments is not doing much of substance overtly.


We have put ourselves in a difficult situation. We have long known how these governments stand for principles that are virtually 180 degrees out from our own, yet we have supported and sustained them for a complex array of national interest driven reasons.

Now, when these "allies" are challenged by populaces who are acting very much in accordance with our express national principles we find ourselves in a massive conflict of interests.

Fox news keeps wheeling out a map that shows how Israel is a very small state and that it is "now" surrounded by "enemies" in the form of Arab states. Israel is quite aware that it is, and always will be surrounded by Arab states, that is a fact. But this information is pulled out now and placed in a bad context and sends a negative strategic communication out to the populaces of this region and the world. ("We care about the people of Israel, not the people of Egypt") Why can't we care about both???

The "experts" on terrorism and Islamism are having a field day as well. Comparing Egypt 2011 to Iran 1979. Well, there is one similarity, in each case a leader carefully sustained in power by the U.S is getting his walking (or perhaps running) papers. To assume that Sunni/Christian/ Mediterranean Egypt is going to somehow turn into what Shia/Persian Iran became is a bit of a stretch. We failed to reach out to the people of Iran and we did not work to establish a relationship with the new government.

Much of the current strain between the US and Iran is on the shoulders of the US and our policies toward Iran. In fact, the US can use how it changes its approaches to such situations with this Egyptian opportunity. Then leverage that to reach out and form a healthier relationship with Iran as well.

Currently it is a battle in the media between those who are looking for threats and problems and those who are looking for opportunities. Certainly both are there, but I fall in the camp that says keep a clear eye on the potential problems, but reach out and embrace the opportunities. We have a chance to clear up this tremendous hypocrisy of conflicted US principles and policies in the Middle East, and I think we should make the most of it.

Ken White
01-30-2011, 04:51 PM
show that idealism can have unpredictable costs...:rolleyes:


Mature citizens decide for themselves.So do immature citizens. Both decide pretty much what they wish to decide and then look for evidence to support their position -- frequently ignoring dissenting voices.

Nothing new in that...
What the U.S. could do:
Support the opposition instead of dictatorships or at least drop the support for dictators.A noble ideal. While I agree we can do that, getting the ponderous US government to shift gears is far more problematic than it seems to appear to many. :eek:

Supporting "the opposition" internally is a feature and a factor of the operation of the US government. Getting agreement on what course to follow is always messy, generally a lackluster compromise and will almost never satisfy most people. Thus we are condemned to a foreign policy that is, at best, strange. A big part of that has been that we for almost two centuries had so much wealth and relative power and so many built in strategic advantages that we could safely let US domestic politics rule our foreign (and economic) policy. Those days are gone but due to the excessive size of our government and its peculiar design, we are very slow at shifting focus. As I've said before, that's a feature, not a bug.

Whether that feature will work adequately well in the future is to be determined. I certainly do not know the answer but I can say that over many years, I've seen a lot of premature predictions of our fall or demise.
Do not supply arms. The point here is not so much that this will deprive them off arms (others will sell them), but it'll make the army less happy and thus more inclined to not support the dictator in a critical moment.Idealistic statement and idea. Two problems with it. First, the arms are ancillary to dictatorships; their primary control is through intimidation of persons and / or the delivery of economic sufficiency.

Secondly, we've done that several time over the last Century, most notably and pointedly during the Carter years. What we discovered was that our the clients or customers would just turn to someone else and that the UK, France and Germany on one side and the USSR and China on the other were more than willing to fill the gap (and that remains true) -- thus, our industries lost production and sales and the net flow of arms was not changed in any significant degree. There is also the fact that in providing arms (and training) the US Armed Forces obtain some moderating influence on the local armed forces -- witness both Tunisia and Egypt today.
Yesterday, several well-known Republican faces have overtly supported Mubarak and disparaged the popular uprising as a 1979-style revolution that needs to fail. Meanwhile, the U.S. governments is not doing much of substance overtly.Were they Republican faces or TV / Media pundit talking heads that lean Republican or right? I missed any politicians of any significance doing what you say -- though I did note that the Vice President, a Democrat, said Mubarak needed to stay. :wry:

The talking heads can be effectively ignored, the VP not so much.:D

Bob's World:
Now, when these "allies" are challenged by populaces who are acting very much in accordance with our express national principles we find ourselves in a massive conflict of interests.True dat. Been that way since 1836 or thereabouts. Note that the conflicts almost always get worked out in a way that satisfies few but that is ordained by US domestic politics...
("We care about the people of Israel, not the people of Egypt") Why can't we care about both???Affinity, I suspect...
We failed to reach out to the people of Iran and we did not work to establish a relationship with the new government.As one who had served in Iran, had friends there and from there and was therefor paying attention at the time, that is a not totally true statement. We did reach out as best we were able given our ponderous nature and the reach was rejected -- not due to the oft stated 'Mossadegh affair' but simply due to ideology using the business of 1953 as an excuse. Check Bowden's "Guests of the Ayatollah" for just one of many sources.
Much of the current strain between the US and Iran is on the shoulders of the US and our policies toward Iran. In fact, the US can use how it changes its approaches to such situations with this Egyptian opportunity. Then leverage that to reach out and form a healthier relationship with Iran as well.I very much agree with that. However the limitations of US domestic political intrusion and the correct and proper fear of the unknown results plus ideology that will reject US overtures will quite possibly not produce the results you seem to expect. Thus while it is quite easy for us -- You, Fuchs, myself and some others -- with no responsibility to say "we can do better..." it is far more difficult a decision and problematic effort for those that have the responsibility.
We have a chance to clear up this tremendous hypocrisy of conflicted US principles and policies in the Middle East, and I think we should make the most of it.Again I agree. Again, having the responsibility to do that or not and the actual doing of it are not nearly as easy as writing about it...

Ken White
01-30-2011, 05:21 PM
Glad to see you back on the board...;)


I find that I am starting to devote some of my time to this sport :eek:My wife's favorite sport. I tend to take a good book... :o
Yet, I agree, none of these techniques and disciplines fully capture/describe the complexity we see.True and that even slight degree of uncertainty drives many decision makers to dither -- generally the worst reaction but one which seem thoroughly embedded in the human psyche. I fear we'll just have to live with that. :wry:
I am not a mathematician...I won't be too surprised if computer power and analytical techniques will have evolved to the point where we are able to provide quantifiable predictions...which exceed those provided by the USG sponsored Political Instability Task Force (George Mason University).I suspect you're mostly correct. While there are benefits to be derived, I fear there may also be some downsides in that removal of uncertainty, strongly desired by many , will not be the panacea they expect.
It's important to qualify that their efforts are but part of the story and some of my experiences in the ME (and banking for that matter) have revealed to me some of the darker aspects of people which they do not appear to account for in their analysis and calculations.People can cause what Burns said: "the best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley..." Quantification has great merit, properly applied and that is correct even if there is massive human involvement. However, the larger the human quotient, the more latitude for error in quantitative analysis. Qualitative analysis can fill some gaps but even applying both types rigorously will not lead to certainty; people are simply too emotional and the probability of developing an algorithm to track that is slim...
Are some of the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Iraq directly comparable to those of Eastern Europe during and after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Perhaps, however my understanding is limited, and it’s still very early in the timeline to try and start making predictions.My guess -- and it is no more than that -- is that most of the Eastern European experience wil not be transferable to North Africa or the ME. Just as Malaysian and Indonesian Muslims differ and both those are quite different than the Arabs of the ME, geography and demographics shape destinies and attitudes.

For assessments of potential and / or predictions of possibilities and probabilities, great familiarity -- let me emphasize that 'great' -- with a region and its people will enable a reasonably astute prediction when coupled with quantitative and qualitative data whereas the date sets alone will not suffice. Passing familiarity (my two years in the ME or four in Korea for example) do not equip one to make competent judgments. It takes long experience with actually living in a culture to do that -- and all peoples separate into cultures...

That's the difficulty with even phenomenal brainpower as in Sachs and Shreve applied to people problems, they miss the nuances -- and cannot stand the quirks...

carl
01-30-2011, 05:28 PM
Cliff,

Ok, you came up with one example: China.

How about North Korea?

Fuchs
01-30-2011, 07:22 PM
Two problems with it. First, the arms are ancillary to dictatorships; their primary control is through intimidation of persons and / or the delivery of economic sufficiency.

I explicitly pointed out that it's not about refusing them the weapons needed to suppress the people. It's about making the military unhappy.
There's a reason why dictators go shopping for unnecessary modern weapons. The military is unhappy if it's being neglected, and being able to only buy 1960's crap from China is a form of neglect.


Were they Republican faces or TV / Media pundit talking heads that lean Republican or right? I missed any politicians of any significance doing what you say -- though I did note that the Vice President, a Democrat, said Mubarak needed to stay. :wry:

Bolton, GOP conference chair Thaddeus...and I don't recall that from Biden, although it wouldn't be too uncommon.

Ken White
01-30-2011, 11:00 PM
I explicitly pointed out that it's not about refusing them the weapons needed to suppress the people.Yep, read that, just reconfirmed it and went on to note the fact that we experienced the switch off in supplies had two down sides; they bought elsewhere -- and, the important point, we lost military to military leverage. It's been my observation that very few in the world realize how many things the US Armed Forces have done to get other forces worldwide to be a little less 'harsh' in their treatment of others...
The military is unhappy if it's being neglected, and being able to only buy 1960's crap from China is a form of neglect.True on the first part, on the second, not so much. China will sell that if they can (as will the USSR and most others, including the US) but for he who insists on better stuff, both China and the USSR have made significant improvements in quality control, appearance, finish and functionality in the past few years -- and they've always done fairly well with reliability which, to the knowing, is more important than pretty...
Bolton, GOP conference chair Thaddeus...and I don't recall that from Biden, although it wouldn't be too uncommon.Bolton is a right wing screwball, he has never represented mainstream Republican views. He did serve in the Reagan Bush administrations (both) but this is a guy whose attitude was as "...He wrote in his Yale 25th reunion book "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost." He was never confirmed as UN Ambassador and he needs to be ignored -- which is what most in the US do...

Thank you for introducing me to someone I'd never heard of. After reading some of Thaddeus' statements and a bit about him (LINK) (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thad_McCotter) , I can see why. I suspect he, too, can be safely ignored. :rolleyes:

Still, you were right, they count as Republicans. I guess I ought to pay more attention to political chatter; I ignore much of it as it's pretty pointless... :wry:

Take our V.P. for example (who's really not all that bad but does tend to talk too much and say strange things...). :D

Bob's World
01-30-2011, 11:20 PM
How about North Korea?

North Korea is a tough read. My "never been there, don't know much about their culture" assessment is that the conditions of insurgency should be fairly high, and in turn, highly suppressed by the government.

NK is unique, however, in how isolated that populace is information-wise from the rest of the world. They may actually perceive their situation to be "normal", and therefore have relatively low conditions of insurgency. Perceptions are relative, and with the advent of ever increasing speed, volume and access to information the standards expected of governments increase. In NK, however, things still move at stone-age speeds.

My prediction on NK is that as the populace gains greater access to information the pressure on the government to evolve will increase. Of course their entire model of governance may collapse before that ever happens.

Info technology and its advances are critical to the understanding of insurgency, particularly for foreign powers that subject the populaces of others and their governments to external controls. The later Romans, once their network of roads were built, could not get away with what the earlier romans could. The Holy Roman Empire found it's systems of controls under increased pressure once the Printing press was invented. The British came under greater pressures from their holdings once they connected their empire with telegraph cables. The Soviets lost control of Eastern Europe as those populaces gained greater access to info; and today the systems of controls the US established as part of its containment strategy and to ensure global commerce is under growing pressure as cellular and satellite comms and social networking sites continue to improve.

The world is changing, and the expectations of governments are changing along with it. Power once "monopolized" by states is becoming more democratized instead. Sovereignty means less than it used to, and non-state actors from corporations to AQ are acting more independently from such sovereign controls and with greater power that states are ill-equipped (currently) to counter or deter.

We live in dynamic and fascinating times. Facing these times armed with a COIN doctrine derived from centuries old colonial intervention strategies as our primary tool for managing them is probably not the best idea.

Surferbeetle
01-31-2011, 03:18 AM
Glad to see you back on the board...;)
Thanks, like what you have done with the place, Prost/Cheers…another Johnny Walker Black Label all around :D


My guess -- and it is no more than that -- is that most of the Eastern European experience wil not be transferable to North Africa or the ME. Just as Malaysian and Indonesian Muslims differ and both those are quite different than the Arabs of the ME, geography and demographics shape destinies and attitudes.

As you rightly note, paying attention to the nuances of market segmentation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_segmentation) often results in benefits for those who do. In pursuit of a key informant from the financial world who can provide us with some more insights regarding Tunisia I cruised on over to the website of the Financial Times (http://www.ft.com/home/europe) in order to see if Dr. Gillian Tett (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillian_Tett) or Mr. Gideon Rachman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gideon_Rachman) had posted anything regarding the goings on. Their particular focus during this reporting cycle was on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Dr. Tett provides an interesting and quick read regarding the practice of social anthropology while gathering insights into the networking practices of Davos Man. Her article is entitled A Social Network, and is dated 28 Jan 2011. (Site registration provides one access to ten free FT articles per month if memory serves). Mr. Rachman provides an interesting article, dated 28 Jan 11, entitled What’s on the Mind of Davos Man? Unfortunately Davos Man wasn’t speaking on record for these two articles regarding Tunisia. Instead, Egypt seems to be a greater concern as discussed in the 28 Jan 11 article entitled Geopolitical Worries Move up the Agenda.

Both the FT and the BBC have a report regarding the return to Tunisia of Rachid Ghannouchi (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12318824), of the Nahda (Renaissance) movement from his ~19 year exile in London. The BBC also does an excellent job, as usual, with it’s breakout of key Tunisian politicians and parties (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12214649) (Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party, Nahda, Congress for the Republic, Movement of Socialist Democrats, Party of People's Unity, Unionist Democratic Union, Renewal Movement (Ettajdid), Democratic Initiative Movement, Social Liberal Party and the Green Party for Progress ) as well as some background regarding the Tunisian Army’s Chief of Staff, Gen Rachid Ammar.


For assessments of potential and/or predictions of possibilities and probabilities, great familiarity -- let me emphasize that 'great' -- with a region and its people will enable a reasonably astute prediction when coupled with quantitative and qualitative data whereas the date sets alone will not suffice. Passing familiarity (my two years in the ME or four in Korea for example) do not equip one to make competent judgments. It takes long experience with actually living in a culture to do that -- and all peoples separate into cultures...

With only two years in the ME, and over a decade spent in Europe, I agree with your analysis. I would add that taking the plunge and learning the language(s), (DLI, SOLT, FSI, University, Instituto Cervantes, Goethe Institute – they even have one in Tehran, etc.), is key. Language abilities provide for a day versus night level of understanding. I know that I am preaching to a DLI grad on this point…but I’ll still throw it out there for anyone else who will listen.


That's the difficulty with even phenomenal brainpower as in Sachs and Shreve applied to people problems, they miss the nuances -- and cannot stand the quirks...

Managing/empowering high priced talent is not easy. When being in a position to choose…runners seem to know how to turn things off…but that’s not a hard and fast rule…more of an opinion on my part.

Bob's World
01-31-2011, 12:44 PM
...My guess -- and it is no more than that -- is that most of the Eastern European experience wil not be transferable to North Africa or the ME. Just as Malaysian and Indonesian Muslims differ and both those are quite different than the Arabs of the ME, geography and demographics shape destinies and attitudes.

For assessments of potential and / or predictions of possibilities and probabilities, great familiarity -- let me emphasize that 'great' -- with a region and its people will enable a reasonably astute prediction when coupled with quantitative and qualitative data whereas the date sets alone will not suffice. Passing familiarity (my two years in the ME or four in Korea for example) do not equip one to make competent judgments. It takes long experience with actually living in a culture to do that -- and all peoples separate into cultures...

That's the difficulty with even phenomenal brainpower as in Sachs and Shreve applied to people problems, they miss the nuances -- and cannot stand the quirks...

Ken, completely agree, and you have far more experience than most. Its pretty crazy how much sway a handful COIN experts have based on 1-2 tours to Iraq coupled with a little PhD work on the topic of western colonial COIN experience.

My only caveat to this is that most experts on cultures know very little about insurgency, which leads to equally flawed assessments of how things might play out. Now, I don't know how Arab cultures will respond to a very similar window of information empowered opportunity on a populace subjected to years of outside influenced controls, but I can contribute keen insights on the general dynamics of insurgency at the human nature level.

Too much of our current flawed approach to the war on terrorism is that we have relied too much on "cultural experts" who have made it far too much about religion; and on CT and COIN experts who have made far too much about a couple different families of tactics for addressing particular aspects of a problem, but not very good at addressing the larger drivers of the real problem. In fact, the main goal of my work is to provide a more effective theoretical framework for all of those experts to lend their expertise against.

It is not a pursuit for "the answer" is the pursuit for a more effective context. Counter culture, counter terror, and colonial intervention models dressed up as COIN just are not working. What amazes me is how many assume that they should.

(Oh, and to clear up a comment I made a couple days ago regarding a "Malaya in the Desert," what I meant was an opportunity to bring previously excluded members of the populace into full participation, coupled with the removal of overt and perceived external controls over that same political process. As I have stated elsewhere, I believe these are the factors that contributed most to the enduring stability of that nation and are what are missing in so many Middle Eastern nations that are flaring up today.)

Ken White
01-31-2011, 05:22 PM
Its pretty crazy how much sway a handful COIN experts have based on 1-2 tours to Iraq coupled with a little PhD work on the topic of western colonial COIN experience.I could have a lot of fun with the phrase "COIN experts" but that would be penny ante... :D

Agree. As I do with this:
My only caveat to this is that most experts on cultures know very little about insurgency, which leads to equally flawed assessments of how things might play out.Absolutely. On this next one, though, I have a comment:
Too much of our current flawed approach to the war on terrorism is that we have relied too much on "cultural experts" who have made it far too much about religion; and on CT and COIN experts who have made far too much about a couple different families of tactics for addressing particular aspects of a problem, but not very good at addressing the larger drivers of the real problem.I agree with the statement but would add that our (the Army's) ineptitude due to lack of doctrine and, more importantly, lack of training and acts of indiscipline in early days in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan were partly due to the two factors you cite but were mostly simply the result of inadequate training and education on the part of most element -- of all components, branches and commands; everyone involved in decision making capacities. The cultural and the COIN mavens did not help, indeed, they possibly in some cases did more harm than good.
It is not a pursuit for "the answer" is the pursuit for a more effective context. Counter culture, counter terror, and colonial intervention models dressed up as COIN just are not working. What amazes me is how many assume that they should.True. It is worrisome that too many in high places fail to understand that. Really worrisome.
As I have stated elsewhere, I believe these are the factors that contributed most to the enduring stability of that nation and are what are missing in so many Middle Eastern nations that are flaring up today.)Also agree.

It does seem the Administration is finally starting to find its feet with respect to Egypt, I note multiple and synchronized calls for 'an orderly transition.'

Cliff
01-31-2011, 07:05 PM
The specific methods were for example delivery of arms (Saudi-Arabia's army is not hesitant at all to proclaim that its primary purpose is to keep the royal family in power), money aid and political backing.

What the U.S. could do:
Support the opposition instead of dictatorships or at least drop the support for dictators.
Do not supply arms. The point here is not so much that this will deprive them off arms (others will sell them), but it'll make the army less happy and thus more inclined to not support the dictator in a critical moment.

I would argue that the a big part of why the Egyptian Military hasn't overtly attacked the people is because they have had 30 years of association, education, and training with the US. This has built personal relationships that can be used to influence the military. OBTW we can leverage spare parts and technical help to provide material pressure. The Saudi military

Cutting off military ties is one of the dumbest things you can do in most of these countries IMHO. The police forces or gendarmes as well as the intel agencies tend to be the main sources of repression - not the military.

I'm not saying we should blindly support those who commit atrocities - but at the same time, I wouldn't conflate military support (which tends to be stabilizing) with support for repression.

V/R,

Cliff

Bob's World
01-31-2011, 07:21 PM
Police are typically lifers. The average soldier is a two-year draftee with no professional lifer NCO corps over him. He was a university student last year, and will likely be one again next year. He associates far more with the people around him in the street than he does with the officers over him.

But yes, I am sure the officer corps has profited from long association with the U.S. as well. I have fond memories of my time spent with the Egyptian Ranger BDE and their 6th Mech Division during the Gulf War.

But bad things can happen, take our own Kent State example. One group of Americans with student deferments square off with another group with National Guard deferments (most likely primarily those who's student deferments had expired but who had the political clout to get a coveted billet in the Guard and avoid going into the draft). Two groups of elites with deferments from going to Vietnam square off and a tragedy ensues.

We need to keep this in mind if at some point a similar event occurs in Egypt, if some scared kid in uniform inadvertently opens fires on some some group of emboldened civilians who see him as a convenient symbol of the government they rally to oppose.

Kent State was not "the military" firing at students, it was two groups of like-minded Americans trying to stay out Vietnam but suddenly pushed together in a tragic exchange. Similarly, if there is an exchange in Egypt it will likely be misinterpreted by the media as something that it probably really is not.

Dayuhan
02-03-2011, 07:14 AM
Do not supply arms. The point here is not so much that this will deprive them off arms (others will sell them), but it'll make the army less happy and thus more inclined to not support the dictator in a critical moment.

Not supplying arms is a tough one at the moment, especially to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. We're not giving the stuff away to them. They are paying, and paying plenty: the Saudis alone are in for $60 billion. I've read that this amounts to some 75k US jobs, no doubt strategically distributed among key legislative districts... that total is probably massaged a bit, but any way you slice it the number will be large. The other Gulf states have another $60 billion on order, with similar implications for US employment figures.

Withdrawing these sales would leave much of the US defense industry is a position of doubtful viability and would generate a significant domestic backlash. I don't think any US politician is going to propose blocking $120 billion in orders from US factories in this economic climate... to put it simply, it ain't gonna happen.

People who think the US has leverage over these regimes badly need to recalibrate their assumptions. If anything the leverage is running in the other direction.

Wiss
02-03-2011, 09:17 PM
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4a18b4d6-1da9-11e0-aa88-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1ArQ5nVJC

In this latest update, The Tech Herald will address the newest developments in Tunisia. The original story will start on page three. The first update can be found on page two.

http://www.thetechherald.com/article.php/201101/6639/Anonymous-offers-support-to-Tunisian-protestors-Update-2
we (As Tunisians) will ensure that won't happen. Yesterday new mayors were appointed and some of them are from RCD. Everything should be done for their withdrawall. It is far from being an easy task. We will stay awake and eradicate them because they dont even have an ideology. They are only "power"

davidbfpo
03-18-2012, 04:16 PM
The actual NYT article by the late Anthony Shadid (who died in Syria) was entitled 'Islamists’ Ideas on Democracy and Faith Face Test in Tunisia' and was recommended to me by Londonstani:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/world/africa/tunisia-islamists-test-ideas-decades-in-the-making.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&sq=Exile%20Over,%20Tunisian%20Sets%20Task:%20Build ing%20a%20Democracy&st=cse&scp=1

The setting of the test is Tunisia, which has largely slipped out of focus here in the UK.

Citing Said Ferjani, who the BBC summed up as:
who is a key figure in the Ennahda Movement - the moderate Islamist political party which dominates the democratically elected Tunisian government.

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00pbgq4/Hardtalk_Said_Ferjani_Ennahda_political_party_Tuni sia/


I can tell you one thing, we now have a golden opportunity and in this golden opportunity, I’m not interested in control. I’m interested in delivering the best charismatic system, a charismatic, democratic system. This is my dream.

The author writes:
Through Mr. Ferjani’s years in exile, the dominant image of political Islam was the bloody record of Egypt’s insurgency in the 1990s, the Algerian civil war and the ascent of Bin Laden, whose Manichaean view of the world mirrored the most vitriolic statements of the Bush administration.

Not to overlook the roots of those cited and their party are in the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a separate thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=891

davidbfpo
08-28-2013, 02:19 PM
Much has happened in Tunisia since the last post, thirty months ago! So for updates try the BBC country profile:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14107241

Today, AST was designated as a terrorist organization. AST being the salafi-jihadi organization Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia:http://thewasat.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/tunis-designates-ansar-al-sharia-in-tunisia/

davidbfpo
01-30-2014, 05:43 PM
Tunisia often slips out of sight, but last week a national assembly agreed on a constitution:
Surrounded by the pressure of Islamists and civil activists, Tunisia’s deputies have managed to achieve something unique in the Arab world: making the parliament the centrepiece of political discourse and power. The failure of Egypt – as perverse as it might sound – was another factor that strongly contributed to Tunisian success.

Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/riham-bahi-jan-v%C3%B6lkel/surprising-success-of-tunisian-parliament

davidbfpo
04-24-2014, 02:05 PM
A short Australian comment on the Tunisian success. Here is one passage:
What's more, the higher Islamic values of justice, equality and freedom are adopted in the constitution.


For instance, the state guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of conscience, an unprecedented principle in the Arab world. This is a profound break with tradition which makes religion a private matter; the crime of apostasy has no place. Also, several points of the constitution reinforce equality between men and women.

Link:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2014/04/22/Tunisians-say-no-to-Sharia-example-Middle-East.aspx?COLLCC=567588596&

davidbfpo
05-22-2014, 02:37 PM
A short NYT report by Carlotta Gall (author of a recent book on Pakistan), which starts with:
Tunisians often say the first uprising of the Arab Spring began not in 2010 after the self-immolation of a fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, but in 2008, when protests over corrupt hiring practices at the mines of Gafsa ran on for six months. It is a measure of the lingering challenges of Tunisia’s revolution that people here are still in revolt.

In the towns of Moulares and Redeyef, protests have idled the phosphate mines — a cornerstone of the economy — for much of the last three years. Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/world/africa/tunisian-discontent-reflected-in-protests-that-have-idled-mines.html?_r=0

A comment by Prof. Paul Rogers, from a broader review of his:
One of the best journalists covering the region for a United States outlet, Carlotta Gall of the New York Times, writes a thoughtful analysis of the current mood in Tunisia where progress towards democratic governance is underway but those in power have little chance of meeting expectations. Tunisia has perhaps 30% of its young people unemployed, and they have virtually no prospect of getting work any time soon.See:http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt

A short commentary that the security forces have learnt nothing:http://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/aya-chebbi/return-of-oppression-in-tunisia

davidbfpo
07-19-2014, 05:49 PM
A short academic article on Tunisian foreign fighters, which after all come from the birthplace of the 'Arab Spring':
A surge of Tunisian jihadists into Syria tells much about the wider story of violence and politics after the Arab Spring.

Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/jonathan-githensmazer-rafael-serrano-trahaearn-dalrymple/curious-case-of-tunisian-3000

In a conversation this week about North Africa it was noted that Tunisia is being used as a refuge for those Libyans who can afford to leave and as a R&R place too for those who fight. There was speculation that for the jihadists Libya was a better prize than Tunisia, so violence there would be restrained. Mmmm.

davidbfpo
11-14-2014, 04:34 PM
A usaeful commentary via Kings College's Strife blog:http://strifeblog.org/2014/11/13/the-triumph-of-secularism-in-tunisia-and-the-democratic-challenges-ahead/

How Tunisia fares is important, not only for its citizens and with my emphasis:
A waning economy combined with high unemployment rates amongst college graduates is ripping apart the hopes of the Tunisian youth and creating the perfect audience for jihadist propaganda. So far, more than 3,000 Tunisians have allegedly travelled to Iraq and Syria to join the fight of the Islamic State (IS), making Tunisia the world’s biggest exporter of jihadist fighters.[6] (http://strifeblog.org/2014/11/13/the-triumph-of-secularism-in-tunisia-and-the-democratic-challenges-ahead/#_edn6) In the radical alternative preached by groups like IS, Tunisia’s disillusioned and marginalised youth find the economic security and the political recognition they are denied back home.

davidbfpo
12-16-2014, 11:26 PM
Professor Paul Rogers reviews the "shifting sands" of the MENA region by examining Tunisia:http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing/paul_rogers_monthly_briefing_arab_awakening_islami c_state

davidbfpo
02-04-2015, 07:14 PM
A short explanation from Australia's Lowy Institute; better than a long WaPo piece today:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2015/02/03/The-real-Tunisian-spring.aspx?COLLCC=3218904964&


How can we explain such an outcome? A number of characteristics make this small country, with modest natural resources, a special case in the Arab world:

The role played by civil society in highly urbanised areas.
A modernised society thanks to the abolition of tribal structures after independence in 1956. Tunisia is today a country unified by its municipal organisation.
Tunisia is relatively homogeneous and unified, with no strong ethnic or religious minorities. This is the why the country is open to modernity (female emancipation, social reform, multi-lingualism, some religious tolerance) without risk to its national unity.
A republican army with no political ambition.
A relatively advanced political and social life (eg. political parties have existed since the 1920s, and Tunisia has the oldest trade union in Africa).
Modern education and high literacy.

What's more, Islamist fundamentalists played no role in the revolution, the army did not intervene against the popular revolt, and Tunisian women played a key role in defending civil liberties during the uprising.

davidbfpo
03-19-2015, 02:00 PM
Amidst all the reporting on the murderous attack yesterday in Tunis, this commentary deserves a read:https://theconversation.com/tunisia-terror-attack-tests-fledgling-democracy-39026

Personally I cannot see the West providing much, including President Obama's promise of US$1b aid.

Already one cruise line, Italian MSC, has announced no more port visits and just as bookings start for the sumemr holidays, will European governments warn against travel there?

davidbfpo
03-24-2015, 12:12 PM
A short commentary via Open Democracy by a British SME (a Barcelona resident Frances Ghiles), which gives the context for what happened last week:https://www.opendemocracy.net/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/tunisia-bridging-gulf

I noted this sentence and wondered who had helped:
It needs help in training its rapid intervention (or SWAT) forces, which - in contrast to the police (http://news.yahoo.com/tunisia-pm-fires-police-chiefs-museum-attacks-103206893.html) - did a good job during the Bardo outrage.

davidbfpo
05-11-2015, 09:29 PM
A short commentary on Tunisia via ICSR:http://cache.nebula.phx3.secureserver.net/obj/RDJFOUQyRjZCMjNERkFEMjA4MkE6ZjE3Y2FhMjQ1NzZmMzRkNT JlODVhZTMwYjcyZTM0ZGQ6Ojo6

davidbfpo
06-30-2015, 12:18 PM
A photo has been given prominence here, I don't know if it has in the USA:
Tourist staff describe how they formed human shield against gunman during attack on western tourists in SousseOthers confronted him, one dropped roof tiles on the gunman.
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/29/tunisia-terror-attack-hotel-workers-witness?

Moncef Myel, builder who threw roof tiles atgunman, flooring him, allowing police to catch up. "It was my duty as a Muslim"

Sorry, the photo refuses to copy here; please check the cited article.

Early comments here asked why the men did not tackle the lone gunman.

Some of the news reports here have referred to ordinary citizen action, as Muslims and Tunisians:
Hotel staff formed a line of protection around the hotel. They were prepared to take the bullets for us. You can't thank them enoughLink:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33313022

These actions are not unknown. They happened in Paris and long ago @ Luxor.

davidbfpo
07-07-2015, 03:34 PM
A short ICSR Insight by a SME. The opening passage:
It should have come as no surprise that Seifeddine Rezgui, the individual that attacked tourists in Sousse, Tunisia more than a week ago, had trained at a camp in Libya. The attack represented the continuation of a relationship between Tunisian and Libyan militants that, having intensified since 2011, goes back to the 1980s. The events in Sousse are a stark reminder of this relationship: a connection that is set to continue should The Islamic State (IS) choose to repeat attacks in Tunisia in the coming months.

(Near the end) What we have seen already did not come out of nowhere; it has a history that stretches back decades and represents a problem too often ignored, taken lightly, or blamed on others by Tunisian officials prior to and after the 2011 revolution.
Link:http://icsr.info/2015/07/icsr-insight-tunisian-libyan-jihadi-connection/

davidbfpo
01-08-2016, 08:43 AM
Added as an update on the contest for power within Tunisia; it comes from a partisan viewpoint:https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/debora-del-pistoia-lamia-ledrisi/tunisia-s-fight-against-its-revolutionary-youth


According to an Interior Ministry press release on 5 December, from the declaration of the state of emergency on 24 November until 7 December 2015, 3000 raids were carried out, leading to 306 arrests and detentions. That makes an average of 200 raids and 20 arrests per day. From January until the end of November 2015 there were 2934 terrorism-related arrests. According to a statement (https://inkyfada.com/2015/12/terrorisme-excuse-droit-liberte-atteinte-police-tunisie/) by Raoudha Grafi, the president of the Magistrates’ Association, 1697 terrorism-related investigations were started in 2015.

davidbfpo
03-09-2016, 08:23 PM
An update via The Soufan Group's e-briefing and this attack's importance:
Armed militants are suspected to have crossed into Tunisia from Libya on March 7, carrying out a series of coordinated attacks against Tunisian security forces in the eastern border town of Ben Gardane. The attacks targeted an army base, a national guard post, and a police station, leaving 53 dead—including 35 militants, 11 members of the security forces, and seven civilians.... the Tunisian government to construct a 125-mile wall along the border with Libya. However, based on the scale and coordination of the assault on security forces, the wall is hardly serving as a deterrent.
Link:http://soufangroup.com/tsg-intelbrief-the-islamic-states-tunisia-strategy/

Checking a map I now know where the IS "hot spot" town of Ben Gardane is, near the Libyan border:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Gardane

CrowBat
08-10-2016, 10:37 AM
A short (really 'compressed') 'summary' on Tunisian Air Force's ops vs local (and Algerian) extremists is meanwhile available as Tunisia Waged a Successful Air War Against Militants — And No One Noticed (https://warisboring.com/tunisia-waged-a-successful-air-war-against-militants-and-no-one-noticed-bbf1a73ff39a#.ldqhbhdvl)

A very interesting 'reaction' by one of readers of this article appeared shortly later (apparently by what might be a 'disgusted Algerian', or at least sounds that way):


This article describes a tension between Algeria and Tunisia that DOES NOT exist.

Wondering what your sources may be. The Minister of Defense of Tunisia himself acknowledged publicly the shortcomings of Tunisia in the intelligence field, and as he put it “ without the help of Algeria with regards to Intelligence we would have been overwhelmed by the jihadi rebels”.

Furthermore, the successes that this article describes are in part Algerian, or rather joint Tunisian/Algerian wins.

Algeria and Tunisia have signed a joint agreement whereby Algeria agreed to assist Tunisia with its COIN campaign in the common border area.

Algerian Helicopters have actively participated in COIN operations on Tunisian soil at the request of Tunisian authorities.

Tunisia has a very courageous and tenacious military, but they are under-equipped whilst Algeria has one of the largest military in the Mediterranean, and was ranked #1 in Africa prior to Egypt’s recent acquisitions.

Algeria is helping Tunisia in its COIN campaign, first out of solidarity as the two countries are very close allies, and second out of common interest.

Algeria cannot afford, and will not allow terrorism to take hold in Tunisia.

The security and stability of the two countries is intertwined, Algeria wants Tunisia to succeed in its COIN campaign and provides financial, military and intelligence support to the Tunisian authorities to that effect.

Sorry, but the story involving the scrambling of an Algerian Su30MKA in response to Tunisian air raids in the Kasserine region is pure fantasy.

Anyone with basic knowledge of these two countries and their security / defense apparatus would dismiss it as complete nonsense.
This reader is partially right: I should have better emphasised the levels of military and security cooperation between the two countries - at least the levels that are meanwhile 'in powers'.

That said, it is so that there were two periods of 'cooperation' between Algeria and Tunisia in regards of security situation in the latter country:

1.) immediately following the revolution of 2011, when there was plenty of mutual suspicion (especially Algerians suspected that Tunisians would be supervised by specific Western powers), and

2.) another, running ever since negotiations between two governments and establishment of direct links between two military commands, in March 2013.

While there is little doubt that this cooperation directly contributed to the Tunisian success of 2013 (which is little surprise considering the wealth of intelligence and experience on Algerian side), it cannot be denied that it was a very unpleasant period - for both sides - and that there were tensions ‘well beyond’ the ‘usual suspicion’ at that time. What I mean with this is that some of my sources clearly say, Algerians were de-facto threatening to open fire.

Good thing is: nothing of this kind happened, things were sorted out, and the cooperation is indeed, very good nowadays.

Finally, I should add that even though certainly supporting Tunisians, Algerian authorities are kind of unable to confirm this officially. Reason is that they repeatedly criticised various of local media's 'exaggerations' about operations in question, and declared these for 'anti-drug-smuggler' operations.

Now Algiers just can't correct itself...

davidbfpo
12-23-2016, 08:02 PM
The linked article's full title is 'The Berlin attack proves Tunisia, the single success of the Arab Spring, is yet to overcome its past' and is a commentary prompted alas by the attack in Berlin:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/23/berlin-attack-proves-tunisia-single-success-arab-spring-yet/

davidbfpo
06-14-2017, 01:51 PM
Tunisia "bubbles along" and occasionally violence is reported - which means few recall it is has a democratically elected government, in the coalition is
main Islamist movement, Ennahda.

There is a new book, from Hurst & Co (London), Political Islam in Tunisia by Anne Wolf

The Abstract says (in part):
Political Islam in Tunisia uncovers the secret history of Tunisia’s main Islamist movement, Ennahda, from its origins in the 1960s to the present. Banned until the popular uprisings of 2010-11 and the overthrow of Ben Ali’s dictatorship, Ennahda has until now been impossible to investigate. This is the first in-depth account of the movement, one of Tunisia’s most influential political actors. Based on more than four years of field research, over 400 interviews, and access to private archives, Anne Wolf masterfully unveils the evolution of Ennahda’s ideological and strategic orientations within changing political contexts and, at times, conflicting ambitions amongst its leading cadres. She also explores the challenges to Ennahda’s quest for power from both secularists and Salafis.Link:http://mailchi.mp/hurstpub/an-amazing-true-spy-story-the-life-of-ruzi-nazar-1733069?e=80d42c7c0a

davidbfpo
04-10-2018, 03:38 PM
An IISS blog item, the full title and sub-title being:
Tunisia’s reluctant partnership with NATO; Tunisia's mixed signals over NATO cooperation reflect domestic pressures and regional tensions. France may see an opportunity to build influence in its former colony.

The choices? NATO, France - note separately and Algeria. The later of course has a different CT approach:
Tunis is increasingly reliant on Algeria’s counter-terrorism expertise, gained during the ‘black decade’ of the 1990s.
Link:https://www.iiss.org/en/iiss%20voices/blogsections/iiss-voices-2018-2623/april-21e4/tunisias-reluctant-nato-partnership-f53d?_cldee=ZGF2aWRiZnBvQGJsdWV5b25kZXIuY28udWs%3d&recipientid=contact-06dd4cad6980de11b23000237dde6e5c-7e46344275254fbaafc35162095e40e6&esid=ff3463fd-9d39-e811-80d8-005056be3f90&urlid=4

davidbfpo
07-07-2018, 11:47 AM
A detailed account of this little known insurgency, with Jihadist and ISIS elements involved.
Link:https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/06/28/insurgency-in-tunisia-s-western-borderlands-pub-76712

davidbfpo
11-14-2018, 07:46 AM
An overview of the situation, which is rather pessimistic as this passage shows:
A rare acknowledgement of the dire situation came recently from the minister of defence, Abdelkrim Zbidi. He affirmed that current political conflicts are responsible for 90% of Tunisia’s problems, including its failing security (http://www.businessnews.com.tn/Abdelkarim-Zbidi-tape-durement-sur-les-politiciens,520,82933,3). It is a widely held view, which sounds rather like an ultimatum against the ruling class. The risk that the military might now intervene in some way has never been so real in Tunisia.
Link:https://theconversation.com/terrorism-in-tunisia-and-how-its-evidence-of-an-increasingly-unstable-north-africa-106087?

davidbfpo
03-03-2019, 08:39 PM
A NYT article, following on a FOI by 'Task & Purpose' following medals being awarded to US Marines after a 2017 border clash:
The 2017 clash involving the Marines was a reminder of the resilience of the jihadists, even amid the combined American-Tunisian efforts. In the Kasserine mountain area, only a few dozen guerrillas are active at any given time. Yet because of its proximity to the Algerian border, the Tunisian army has struggled to secure it.The team of Marines was on a three-day mission with Tunisian forces when it got into a “fierce fight against members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” according to one of the award citations for the Marines, who were not identified. Although the Marines were said to be on a “train, advise and assist” mission, the citations made clear that they were fighting and, at times, directing events.
Link:https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/02/world/africa/us-tunisia-terrorism.html

davidbfpo
03-24-2019, 05:50 PM
From an Israeli think tank, something I might have missed: https://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/isis-military-activity-northwestern-tunisia-possibly-advance-establishing-new-province-country/