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j earl
02-07-2010, 05:58 PM
Short comparison paper I wrote for a class.

The Accidental Guerilla by David Kilcullen provides a review of modern counter - insurgency operations. Whereas the examples provided by Mr. Kilcullen confine counterinsurgencies to modern phenomena, the Ancient Romans were waging successful COIN operations two thousand years before Petraeus or Kilcullen. Josephus documented one such Roman campaign in his history, Wars of the Jews. Josephus provides an account similar to the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan where the combatants range from religious extremists to those merely trying to exist. Many in modern Iraq and ancient Judea are "accidentally" brought into the fight against the mightiest military powers of their times. One striking similarity is the United States adventure in Iraq and the ancient Jews revolt against the Romans and can serve as an ancient example of the accidental guerrilla syndrome.

Mr. Kilcullen points out that the best way to conduct COIN operations is to not get involved in them. Both the war in Iraq and the war against the Jews were avoidable. In Iraq, Mr. Kilcullen purports that the national security of the United States was not directly threatened by the actions of Sadam Husseinís regime. He further explains that protracted, costly, conflicts support the extremists overall strategy for global jihad. The Romans, through questionable or Ďbad" governance directly provoked the Jews through insensitivities to Jewish religious law and customs. In Iraq, after Sadam was toppled, the Coalition certainly displayed bad governance in the form of gross misunderstanding of the complex relationships and overlapping authorities of state government, religious institutions and ancient tribal law. Ancient Judea had similar qualities in that Rome oversaw the province, but each city state maintained some autonomy and the temple exerted its influence over the population as well.

How does the accidental guerrilla syndrome apply the siege of Jerusalem? The Romanís ruled over Judea in relative harmony until various instances of "Bad Governance" turned the Jewish nation against them. Josephus attributes this mainly to Roman insensitivities to Jewish Religious law and corruption under the Rule of the procurator Florus. With the Jewish uprising and subsequent (mysterious) defeat of the Roman General Cestius Gallus, the whole of Judea seems to have descended into chaos. The power vacuum that occurred with the departure of Roman governance lead to Infection by revolutionaries and religious zealots throughout Judea. In Contagion, the revolutionaries or, zealots, spread their ideology and tried to assimilate themselves into the population where they assumed positions of civil, military and religious authority. This Contagion was not absolute, as the moderate population foresaw the coming Roman response and sought peaceful resolution with the Roman authorities, but are somewhat contained by the emboldened factions. Then in the Intervention, the Romans responded by sending the outcast general Vespasian and his son Titus to quell the rebellion. Contrary to the accidental guerilla syndrome, the population, enabled by the power vacuum, and faced with absolute destruction, turned to infighting and civil war to settle old grievances and position their factions for power. The religious zealots performed as many (if not more) blasphemies against the Temple and religious law than the Romans. Ultimately, the guilt of association brought hardships on the entire population of the city, so in a sense the entire city suffers whether the inhabitants are zealots or accidental guerrillas. Then Rejection, the infighting between the moderate forces and zealots ended as they united to face the final Roman advance. The unification was not sufficient to resist the Roman onslaught and victory appeared to be absolute with resistance confined to remote outposts such as Masada. Josephus seems to indicate that the Romans became the instrument through which the punishment of God is delivered to the Jews for their own sins. Finally, the Romans prevail through persistence, brutality, clemency and efficiency.
Whereas the Romans were victorious in their counterinsurgency, Mr. Kilcullenís book deals in modern reality. The modern combatants wage war via the internet and cable news media as much as they do on the battle field. World Opinion would not tolerate a military power like that of Rome, a superpower that ruthlessly obliterates opposition.

Pete
02-07-2010, 06:16 PM
J Earl--welcome to the forum. You've contributed an interesting essay.

marct
02-07-2010, 09:42 PM
Hi J Earl,

An interesting piece. Just out of interest, what type of class did you write it up for?

j earl
02-07-2010, 10:26 PM
Thanks,

The class is a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Course at the University of Oklahoma. The topic is comparison of Modern and Ancient Irregular warfare. I plan to post a couple of others that I wrote.

marct
02-07-2010, 10:39 PM
Interesting. I'm assuming you have a really tight word limit on these pieces since you didn't get into the other main similarity between 1st century ce Judea and both Iraq and Afghanistan :wry:.

Sorry, hit the enter button by mistake....

I'm not trying to be cryptic on the other similarity; it's the establishment of the local government by an outside power

j earl
02-07-2010, 11:12 PM
correct, the similarities are numerous and given the short nature of the paper (and the enormous amount material in the two books) I hit on only a couple points. The final paper for this course will be significant enough that I will be able to elaborate some. Yes, local government installed by foreigners is a huge similarity but my interest lies more in actual military response to insurgencies. Thanks for the feedback!

William F. Owen
02-08-2010, 08:07 AM
The modern combatants wage war via the internet and cable news media as much as they do on the battle field. World Opinion would not tolerate a military power like that of Rome, a superpower that ruthlessly obliterates opposition.

Not true. No one "wages war on the internet." Nothing done on the internet can deliver decisive military effect. NOTHING!
Baring the simple act of communication, people use the internet to broadcast political views and perspectives. That is it's only relevance. The internet can only set forth policy. At best people do "politics" on the internet - same as with TV, Radio and newspapers.

The diplomatic effects of World opinion existed long before the internet and world opinion is only as good as world opinion posses the means to effect change. Collective opinions only change the policy. They do not change what is and what is not decisive military action.

Bob's World
02-08-2010, 10:04 AM
:)
Not true. No one "wages war on the internet." Nothing done on the internet can deliver decisive military effect. NOTHING!


I'm sure that equally competent military pundits said much the same thing a century ago, replacing "on the internet" with "in the air."

No, the tools of the modern communications age( cell phones, internet, etc) have changed the nature of insurgency forever in terms of its viral nature; making many sound military based TTPs devised over the centuries largely irrelevant. (Try to separate a populace from the insurgent in a land with cell and internet technology...)

Of course, I say that that insurgency and COIN are really far more politics than warfare, and best thought of as such, so perhaps WILF is right. These communications tools have however certainly changed how people need to govern at a minimum.

This is why the American founding fathers insured that the populace had both the right to bear arms and a free press. They understood full well that even with checks and balances between the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judical branches, that you also needed an empowered populace to keep those three from getting in cahoots with each other.

Ben Franklin would have grasped the value and the application of the internet for toppling tyrants immediately.

William F. Owen
02-08-2010, 11:21 AM
I'm sure that equally competent military pundits said much the same thing a century ago, replacing "on the internet" with "in the air."
Well that doesn't say much for the "equally competent" does it! :eek:


No, the tools of the modern communications age( cell phones, internet, etc) have changed the nature of insurgency forever in terms of its viral nature; making many sound military based TTPs devised over the centuries largely irrelevant. (Try to separate a populace from the insurgent in a land with cell and internet technology...)
....and the motor car changed the nature of warfare/insurgency. Cell phones are functionally the same as radios. Unless they are used to deliver military force, they can contribute nothing except in policy terms. TV and Radio never won or lost a battle, but electronic Warfare did! The internet will not either. - and Cyber attacks are merely an EW variant.

Point being, Youtube and blogs only effect policy and its presentation. Warfare cannot be diluted down to the effectiveness of a Party Political broadcast.

John T. Fishel
02-08-2010, 01:31 PM
Haven't I seen this somewhere before?;)

Glad you are publishing the papers here - you might try crafting the final paper as an article for the Journal.

Wilf, are you arguing that PSYOP is not a weapon? Current US doctrine treats PSYOP as it does fires.

Cheers

JohnT

William F. Owen
02-08-2010, 02:05 PM
Wilf, are you arguing that PSYOP is not a weapon? Current US doctrine treats PSYOP as it does fires.


Fires cause death and destruction, which is instrumental to the breaking of will. How can PSYOPS do that?
The UK has now started with"Influence Operations" which also equates "Fires" with "PSYOPS".
We need to put a stop to this sophistry and pseudo-science.
Killing and destruction is what breaks will. If an activity is not based on that fact, then it is diplomacy and not warfare. That is what separates the two as instruments of strategy.

Tom Odom
02-08-2010, 02:08 PM
Fires cause death and destruction, which is instrumental to the breaking of will. How can PSYOPS do that?

How about 800K to 1 million dead in 100 days due to PSYOPS?

marct
02-08-2010, 02:09 PM
Hi Wilf,

You just know that I'm going to jump on this one :D......


....and the motor car changed the nature of warfare/insurgency.

Did it change the nature or the form? I could argue, as you do regarding cell phones, that the introduction of motorized transport was just an increase in mobility that was no different from any other form of cavalry.


Cell phones are functionally the same as radios. Unless they are used to deliver military force, they can contribute nothing except in policy terms. TV and Radio never won or lost a battle, but electronic Warfare did! The internet will not either. - and Cyber attacks are merely an EW variant.

Okay, let's play in Plato's world for a minute. "Military force", in an idealized sense, has two components: a form and an intent. If I was ordered to hold hill X, how (i.e. the form) I do so is irrelevant, so if I can do it by arranging that all of the group attacking me have their cell phones going off (hence indicating their positions), then that is an application of military force.


Point being, Youtube and blogs only effect policy and its presentation. Warfare cannot be diluted down to the effectiveness of a Party Political broadcast.

Don't confuse YouTube, blogs, etc. with the Internet. This is something that most people do, but it is a critical error in perception. Someone like, say, Selil, could use the "internet" to access targeting systems in a whole slew of different combat systems and, in some cases, even arrange for them to spontaneously fire.

What almost everyone misses when they talk about the 'net as a combat environment is that it goes way beyond IO, PSYOPS, EW. It is the 20 ton elephant sitting in the room, and most people just don't like trying to think about the entire thing.

marct
02-08-2010, 02:11 PM
Fires cause death and destruction, which is instrumental to the breaking of will. How can PSYOPS do that?


How about 800K to 1 million dead in 100 days due to PSYOPS?

Hmmm, Wilf, how many of the Zealots at Masada were actually killed by the Romans?

marct
02-08-2010, 02:14 PM
Glad you are publishing the papers here - you might try crafting the final paper as an article for the Journal.

Ohh! Does this mean we get to critique it :eek::D!

On a (slightly) more serious note, John, what were the parameters of the assignment? I think you know I'll be teaching a couple of COIN courses this summer (one 2nd year, one 4th/graduate), so I'm collecting ideas and syllabi.

Cheers,

Marc

William F. Owen
02-08-2010, 02:53 PM
How about 800K to 1 million dead in 100 days due to PSYOPS?
Radio and newspapers in Rwanda? Sure, but wasn't it machetes and clubs that did the killing? The message is not the means.
Conversely didn't George Bush tell the Iraqis to rise up and over throw Saddam in 1991? That didn't work out too well.

I actually believe in the idea PSYOPS, but I mean real "Psychological Operations" - as in actions designed to break will at the tactical level, and action aimed at harming folks peace of mind.

William F. Owen
02-08-2010, 02:56 PM
Hmmm, Wilf, how many of the Zealots at Masada were actually killed by the Romans?

None, but you're going to have to explain that one. Too cryptic for me, as I'm pretty sure they committed suicide once the water ran out. Siege Warfare 101, in my part of the world.

marct
02-08-2010, 03:16 PM
None, but you're going to have to explain that one. Too cryptic for me, as I'm pretty sure they committed suicide once the water ran out. Siege Warfare 101, in my part of the world.

If I remember my Josephus correctly, and I'll admit, it's been a while, yes, they committed suicide but not because of the water. I believe it was because they saw the assault ramps getting closer and closer. Basically, a form of combined PSYOPS with infrastructure that would, inevitably, lead to an unstoppable assault. Also, and again I'm relying on memory, the Romans used Jewish POWs to actually construct the assault ramps, so if the defenders in Masada shot them, they were killing their own people.

The point I was really trying to get across is that there is always a ration of psychological and physical effects to any operation, although what that ratio is will skew radically, and the "physical" component can, in some instances, literally only be in the "mind" (actually brain) of the receiver. If that is the case, then the PSYOP component has achieved the military objective with little or no kinetic action except that which was conveyed via the PSYOP.

Tom Odom
02-08-2010, 03:26 PM
Radio and newspapers in Rwanda? Sure, but wasn't it machetes and clubs that did the killing? The message is not the means.
Conversely didn't George Bush tell the Iraqis to rise up and over throw Saddam in 1991? That didn't work out too well.

I actually believe in the idea PSYOPS, but I mean real "Psychological Operations" - as in actions designed to break will at the tactical level, and action aimed at harming folks peace of mind.


No, the message is part and parcel of the means. Humans convinced through IO/PSYOPS did the killing. I never saw a machete decide to kill anyone.

Will is always mental, Wilf. Separating that from the means to apply that will is artificial.

Bush and 1991--yep he did but the Shia lacked the means. Did it have an effect? Yep and the result was the failed revolt.

PSYOPS is included among fires as as way to address its effects in planning and execution. It works.

Tom

j earl
02-08-2010, 03:38 PM
Interesting points everyone. This is an argument that may make an interesting paper. I am a believer in PSYOPs and know that cyber warfare is becoming a focus of military forces. Kinetic, or not? I think Tom has given some excellent examples. In my opinion a valid form of warfare. At least I hope so with all the taxpayers $ going to fund it ;).

William F. Owen
02-08-2010, 04:50 PM
The point I was really trying to get across is that there is always a ration of psychological and physical effects to any operation, although what that ratio is will skew radically, and the "physical" component can, in some instances, literally only be in the "mind" (actually brain) of the receiver. If that is the case, then the PSYOP component has achieved the military objective with little or no kinetic action except that which was conveyed via the PSYOP.
THE BREAKING OF WILL! Yes, that is what I focus on. It's cannot be done by "party political broadcasts" unless you are harming people or threatening to harm them. - That will never change and being good at warfare means being good at creating harm.

William F. Owen
02-08-2010, 04:57 PM
No, the message is part and parcel of the means. Humans convinced through IO/PSYOPS did the killing. I never saw a machete decide to kill anyone.
These folk didn't kill other folk because of a couple of broadcasts. They were basically invited to wipe out the "opposition" as part of a policy. They voted with machetes. That may be IO, but it's basically aligning IO with partly political broadcasts and not with - as you have usefully said, "Using information to support policy."

Will is always mental, Wilf. Separating that from the means to apply that will is artificial.Will is also very context specific and variable in nature. Having said that I'm all for anything that breaks will.

Bush and 1991--yep he did but the Shia lacked the means. Did it have an effect? Yep and the result was the failed revolt. - so basically useless

PSYOPS is included among fires as as way to address its effects in planning and execution. It works.
So fires breaks will? Makes sense to me. I take PSYOPS to be specific planned and re-sourced operations aimed at damaging the enemy psychologically. It's not new and it's nothing to do with the "internet."

William F. Owen
02-08-2010, 04:58 PM
At least I hope so with all the taxpayers $ going to fund it ;).
Well until they get basics right and understand warfare for what it really is not what they hope it might be, they'll be wasting their money! :D

Tom Odom
02-08-2010, 05:04 PM
These folk didn't kill other folk because of a couple of broadcasts. They were basically invited to wipe out the "opposition" as part of a policy. They voted with machetes. That may be IO, but it's basically aligning IO with partly political broadcasts and not with - as you have usefully said, "Using information to support policy."

In the Rwandan context it was exactly that--30 years stated policy reinforced with IO including a heavy dose of PSYOPS.

In the case of the Shia revolt--it was worse than useless as it sparked a reaction without providing needed support.

influencing will is the goal--breaking will may be the ultimate desired effect. Then again it may not be the immediate desired effect.

I will stick to what works, Wilf, in first hand experience.

Tom

j earl
02-08-2010, 07:03 PM
In Charlie Wilson's War, it is observed that one of the great mysteries of the war was that the media virtually ignored US involvement, allowing CIA ops to continue without interference, unlike the Contra operation that was drawing much media coverage.

William F. Owen
02-09-2010, 05:59 AM
In the Rwandan context it was exactly that--30 years stated policy reinforced with IO including a heavy dose of PSYOPS.
- So policy, not warfare. Let's call it "Government Propaganda" - and bit like "Smoking Kills" and "Use a Condom." The Rwandan Government sought to set forth a Policy, just like the Nazis. - so how does the West usefully extrapolate from that experience? We know all about Propaganda.

I will stick to what works, Wilf, in first hand experience.
Glad to hear it Tom. As you know I believe only experience and military history can usefully inform practice, and not avant-garde theories!

Tom Odom
02-09-2010, 01:33 PM
- So policy, not warfare. Let's call it "Government Propaganda" - and bit like "Smoking Kills" and "Use a Condom." The Rwandan Government sought to set forth a Policy, just like the Nazis. - so how does the West usefully extrapolate from that experience? We know all about Propaganda.

Again, Wilf, you separate to fit your thesis. I did not say that; you did and I still disagree. As for the bumper sticker "Smoking Kills" comparison--try that where you live and see how it flies.

The 30 years prep was also one of execution in the form of periodic massacres. IO and PSYOP can be both kinetic and lethal.

Tom

William F. Owen
02-09-2010, 05:08 PM
Again, Wilf, you separate to fit your thesis. I did not say that; you did and I still disagree.
Tom, my thesis purely that IO and PSYOPS have imprecise definitions that alter under scrutiny and like wise are generally based on unclear and not wholly relevant examples of success.
Please tell me, how is IO and PSYOPS are different from "Influence Operations" or EBO?

As for the bumper sticker "Smoking Kills" comparison--try that where you live and see how it flies.
Well if you mean telling an Israeli "not to smoke" is the best to get smoke blown in your face, I agree! - which is why I am sceptical of anything that does not involve force.

The 30 years prep was also one of execution in the form of periodic massacres. IO and PSYOP can be both kinetic and lethal.
So it was a Government Policy. It clearly wasn't a military capability used to further a policy. Again, if judged not much different from Soviet Russia of Nazi Germany and how do we learn of leverage that for benefit?

Tom Odom
02-09-2010, 05:38 PM
So it was a Government Policy. It clearly wasn't a military capability used to further a policy. Again, if judged not much different from Soviet Russia of Nazi Germany and how do we learn of leverage that for benefit?

No it was a government exercise of power that included use of military force.



As for the bumper sticker "Smoking Kills" comparison--try that where you live and see how it flies.

Well if you mean telling an Israeli "not to smoke" is the best to get smoke blown in your face, I agree! - which is why I am sceptical of anything that does not involve force.

No by that I mean try equating the Halocaust with a "Smoking Kills" bumper sticker and see how the audience reacts.


Tom, my thesis purely that IO and PSYOPS have imprecise definitions that alter under scrutiny and like wise are generally based on unclear and not wholly relevant examples of success.

Wilf, you continually go for a one size fits all description of war that ultimately is reductionist in its essence. IO and PSYOP are imprecise but less so that what you offer.

We will have to disagree.

Tom

OfTheTroops
02-09-2010, 06:06 PM
Wasn't the Persian empire even more successful at "COIN" co-option than Rome?


Too bad there is not as much source material with which we can understand their building policy.:(

Of course we ignore Persia because it was eastern.:o

marct
02-09-2010, 06:27 PM
Wasn't the Persian empire even more successful at "COIN" co-option than Rome?

That would really depend on how you define "success" but, on the whole, I'd have to say it wasn't.


Too bad there is not as much source material with which we can understand their building policy.:(

We have some - if you can read coine Greek :D. There are some really good discussions of Persian history, revolts, politicing, etc. in Procopius of Caesaria's Histories of the Wars, Books I & II: The Persian Wars (http://www.amazon.com/HISTORY-WARS-Books-1-2-Persian/dp/1602064458/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265739743&sr=8-3). Personally, I cheat and use the Loeb Classic Library version because of the Greek and English texts.

Most of their "build" strategy was really what today we would call Tribal Engagement. For most of its history, Persia was a pseudo-feudal "empire", and a lot of their strategies, the non-TE ones, were adopted from the Assyrians (e.g. mass relocations, forced divisions, etc.).

marct
02-09-2010, 06:32 PM
One of the more amazing, and effective, grand strategic objectives that the Romans developed was a code of laws. I'm sure Mike (JMM) knows the history of this better than I do, but imagine, if you will, the insane amount of work necessary to distill the essence of over 100 tribal and city state legal "codes" (including customs and traditions) into a single code. Talk about a "build" strategy!

Firn
02-09-2010, 08:41 PM
Irregular warfare was certainly also a big thing in the past and was often intertwined with regular one. It is often very muddy water.

If we take Rome there is certainly a lot food for thought from the Social war (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_War_%2891%E2%80%9388_BC%29), the Civil wars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_civil_wars), all those wars for Hispania (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_conquest_of_Hispania) to a very famous COIN operation gone terribly wrong. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Teutoburg_Forest) The latter example shows that you can not transfer strategy and tactics into a new AO, plug in and play with success.


Firn

William F. Owen
02-10-2010, 03:57 AM
No it was a government exercise of power that included use of military force.
OK, so what you sat that exactly fits the classical description of Strategy

No by that I mean try equating the Halocaust with a "Smoking Kills" bumper sticker and see how the audience reacts.
My referencing of "Smoking Kills" was speaking to the banality of Government information campaigns. - the Holocaust, in terms of the "final solution" was never an explicit publicly stated policy.

Wilf, you continually go for a one size fits all description of war that ultimately is reductionist in its essence. IO and PSYOP are imprecise but less so that what you offer.
No, not one size fits all, but useful reductionism, yes! Not silly reductionism!

We will have to disagree.
...and that's not a bad thing!

Xenophon67
02-18-2010, 05:05 AM
.....Before I gather my thoughts in order to properly contribute to this very interesting topic I will add a few point off the top of my head.

I recall reading an anecdote in Arrian's Anabasis concerning Alexander's operations in Afghanistan (Bactria?). Rather than engaging these aloof mountain tribesmen in terrain of their choosing, he decided to have a full display of phalanx drill in utter silence. This seemed to have intimidated the tribesmen and they melted back into the mountains.

While the Celts/Cimbri/etc had no car bombs or IEDs, their suicidal charges were meant to break Roman will.

The Romans weren't much for introspection, yet we must imagine that Roman COIN and winning the hearts and minds was based upon their will power and sincere conviction that they were superior and had the duty to civilize the world. This honest approach - not just transparent but in-your-face, "We will follow this COA...do you understand?"

Clearly Thucydides' Melian Dialogue writ large.

Or is it same ol' same - As the Romans moved in so too did trade, commerce, economic prosperity and assimilation.

Therefore, what elements of Gallic or Iberian society were the Romans able to co-opt to get the entire community on board? Did the Romans focus on the lowest of the low to win 'hearts and minds'?

.......a more academic approach next time - great intro topic

Bob's World
02-18-2010, 08:55 AM
Roman COIN is as like US COIN; as the much as the Roman Empire is like the US Empire.

If an empire expands and offers full rights of citizenship to all of its newly acquired citizens and allows them to participate fully in their new government; then yes, you will be waging COIN when those citizens revolt; but they will be less likely to do so if you bring goodness with your presence and providing a government who's legitimacy they recognize.

OR, even if you create "separate but superior" enclaves of Roman citizens among the barbarian populace, and create a puppet government of the local flavor of barbarian, or impose your own foreign government onto the barbarians (either one will lack legitimacy in the eyes of the populace); you will be waging COIN, and will certainly have to in due time.

But if you "merely" help select or prop up leaders in other countries in exchange for favorable relations; and then help to sustain those leaders in power when they are faced with insurgency you are not conducting COIN at all. That host nation government is, but the best doctrinal term we have for this is FID. (It's not a great term, the conventional community refuses to recognize it as being "too SOF", and it just isn't sexy, even in the SOF community).

The problem is, that like the legendary Colossus standing guard over the harbor of Rhodes; we stand with one foot in "We're the modern Roman Empire" and one foot in "We're your good buddies and if you work with us we'll take care of you and we'll all be happy together."

We are conflicted. And our Policy and our foreign engagement reflect that conflict. At least the Romans were straight up about their agenda. Even the British were straight up about theirs. We, on the other hand are uncomfortable in the role of oppressor, but it pays well, so we pretend that we are not, but do it anyway. Sort of. But not really. etc.

During the Cold War that worked. What we were offering was better than what these nations and populaces were getting from their previous masters; also the looming threat of what they would get if the Soviets or Chinese prevailed, etc kept everyone swinging their picks and whistling Yankee Doodle.

Then the modern information age destroyed the ability of governments to control information; which in turn destroyed the ability of governments to control populaces. This empowered the people of Eastern Europe, leading to the end of the Cold War. At that point the genie was out of the bottle. The west thought it only affected Soviet oppression of other populaces and began to celebrate our way through the Bush I and Clinton administrations. There were signs that the wheels were coming off, that small countries oppressed by ("allies with") Western governments were beginning to have problems with their populaces as well. That members of these popular uprisings were beginning to target Western interests as well. We saw these as small local problems and random crackpot acts of terrorism.

Bottom line is that the US model of foreign control and exploitation, for all of its friendlier intentions and facade, is no more palatable to the populaces of other nations than were the models employed by the British or the Romans. In some ways, theirs were even superior.

This is not a tale of the demise of the US, or even a tale of the demise of US influence around the globe. What this should be is a proverbial swift kick in the pants to the policy boys and girls in DC that the old model is broken, and a new model that is more respectful of the rights of others must be developed and employed. So that populaces everywhere can see their own governments as "legitimate" in their own eyes and on their own terms. So that they can see the US as not the obstacle to achieving such legitimacy of government, but rather as the enabler of the same.

In simple terms, It is time for the Colossus to close his legs, or suffer the same ultimate collapse...

Chris jM
02-18-2010, 09:58 AM
I find something wrong with referring to the Roman empire and COIN in the same sentence - just like it's not useful to judge history with modern ethical standards, I consider it misleading to subject ancient statecraft to modern military perspectives.

The few things that have struck me while reading the occasional book on the classical period is the alien nature of power and perspective. Rome was as much an idea as an empire - in many ways a city-state elevated to regional power through luck of geography. As I understand it they really did believe in a version of Roman might as manifest destiny - and, after the genius of Hannibal had failed to breach their city gates, it is understandable why they had such a view. Believing in inevitable conquest makes for simple strategy, however, and it seems that the Emperor's main obstacle on expansion was domestic distractions. Whenever Imperial Rome's image of invincibility was cast into doubt her response was always strong and resolute. Simply put Rome's honour was the driving force in her ascension to and defence of empire.

Of interest is the way the Principate saw the world - until Christianity kicked off, evidence suggests that the Romans didn't employ maps or cartography. It was rather the idea of a foreign culture that drove the empire's various expeditionary undertakings - contemporary knowledge of the world in writing, including who lived where and what the geography was like. Even when military campaigns were undertaken, the employment of geography appears solely as a tactical consideration rather than what we would see as a strategic or operational consideration. This could be seen in the conquests of Britain, where the idea was to prove the superiority of Romanitas over the British tribes, and all else - including a not too inconsequential channel! - was merely an obstacle to this end. In many ways (and the weakness of this metaphor is that I'm using modern parlance to draw the metaphor) the Roman's practiced an exclusively population-centric strategy. Where barbarians lived and when opportunity was afforded, the legions marched.

Sidetracking briefly: Tactically I've seen some interesting theories that propose the legions as being almost exclusively engineers and the auxiliary forces being the line infantry. The main issue here is that there is good evidence that the legions fought successfully as heavy infantry in the Civil War period, which suggests they were trained and experienced grunts. I do find, though, the idea that Rome exported her occupying legions as engineer forces rather than combat soldiers very interesting.

What I would argue as being beyond doubt is that the Romans were militarily very ordinary, and it was the continuation of successful strategy (the belief in Rome as the civilised power favored by the gods) that was bequeathed to them through a very brutal evolutionary process that made them successful. Tactics can get you so far, but nothing is as strong as a solid strategic foundation. Even the incompetence a hereditary command system or the brilliance of your opposing generals can't undermine solid strategy.

Thus they didn't 'oppress', 'practise FID' or conduct foreign relations as we know it - they rather saw their world as a continuum between Roman and yet-to-be-Roman, and they served that agenda.

As effective as the Roman phenomenon was, I don't see the lessons from her glory days as containing lessons directly applicable to the current state of play.

To quote Colin Gray, strategy is an eternal part of human affairs, and as a contributing (possibly even starting foundation) of strategic knowledge, the lessons of Rome can be applied to America. But that's where the utility ends - direct comparison with Pax Romana doesn't really add much to an understanding of Pax Americana.

In this way Bob's World I agree with everything you have said in about the contemporary world as being of merit. However, your classical linkages (and likewise the entire field of classical-contemporary comparisons) are in my mind flawed as an over-reached argument of minimal benefit. Let historical experience inform us, but don't let it dictate or alter our own reality for historical precedence.

Chris jM
02-18-2010, 10:07 AM
Then the modern information age destroyed the ability of governments to control information; which in turn destroyed the ability of governments to control populaces.

A minor point - I would argue that government's can only harness and not control populations. Information can shape, but the sentiment or environment has to support the government. In many ways the population gets the government they deserve (not morally or ethically speaking, but rather one that embodies or reflects the state of affairs).

Roman government, for example, I would view more as a manifestation of the Roman ideal of honour and an enabler of the Romanitas concept of inevitable expansion.

German sentiments, likewise, enabled the Nazi regime. Ditto the political, social and economic situation that allowed for Russian totalitarianism. Granted the flow of information was heavily controlled in both cases, however I don't see informational control as a pre-requisite for the establishment of either regime.

And, if 'information flow' did destroy the Soviet edifice, then what is it doing to tear down the Putin state or the Chinese government?

I know that this is a very small part of your post and doesn't change your central argument... I'm just thinking out loud here.

Bob's World
02-18-2010, 11:52 AM
Governments that control information, control populaces. That is why they seek to control information first, so that the other might follow. If you are also willing to ruthlessly crush any pockets of dissent that dare to arise in this disconnected populace, you can control them very well. History shows this over and over.

History does not show many cases of populaces that desire to be controlled in such ways, but many who, not knowing any better, tolerated it for generations.

As to history, I believe the human dynamics of populaces and their governances is timeless. The facts change, the dynamics stay the same. Its a matter of degree and perception.

Chris jM
02-18-2010, 10:48 PM
As to history, I believe the human dynamics of populaces and their governances is timeless. The facts change, the dynamics stay the same. Its a matter of degree and perception.

I agree. The facts do change, and I see a lot of historical comparison trying to directly relate the facts of Roman/ Vietnam/ Iraq etc to another parallel. If history informs dynamics, theory or understanding, then that understanding will probably be more robust and relevant.

America is not Rome and Roman facts do not apply to America as a direct import - they do, however, have salient relevance to the conduct of politics and war.

marct
02-19-2010, 11:05 PM
As to history, I believe the human dynamics of populaces and their governances is timeless. The facts change, the dynamics stay the same. Its a matter of degree and perception.


I agree. The facts do change, and I see a lot of historical comparison trying to directly relate the facts of Roman/ Vietnam/ Iraq etc to another parallel. If history informs dynamics, theory or understanding, then that understanding will probably be more robust and relevant.

America is not Rome and Roman facts do not apply to America as a direct import - they do, however, have salient relevance to the conduct of politics and war.

Well, you know me, Bob, so I'll dispense with the comment that "fact" comes from "factum; made or constructed" (guess I didn't dispense with it, eh :D?).

Content, context and situation change, but if we want to draw comparisons between Rome and the US, then it's best to do it on as close a basis as possible. Rome is much closer to the US than many people now want to believe, including the "external" governance structures. Outside of language games ("empire" comes from "imperium" which actually translates as "sphere of influence", not "empire" in the autocratic sense), the entirity of the H&M campaign concept, plus all the disaster relief, etc., use fo troops, actually fits in with how Rome used their legions to construct an infrastructure that increased the dependency of "conquered" areas on the core.

Basically, I do agree with you, Bob, that the dynamics remain the same, although the specifics and context change.

OfTheTroops
02-19-2010, 11:14 PM
Do I read you all correctly?

So Rome's empire resulted from a unified "total war" political will built on manifest destiny and Perseverance?

America's political will is fractured or has a foundation in at least two houses as described in the ariculate Rhodes analysis?

We probably are conducting FID but it seem to be more probably is less. Whats the alternative? Occupation, colonization, punish the innocent and the guilty in a country by leaving it destroyed, genocide.....FID under the guise of COIN and Stability and Reconstruction satisfies the political will and leaves USA to believe we are as great as we think we are. As my insightful interpreter asked "what gives the US the right to do these things (Iraq Afghanistan)?"

Bob's World
02-20-2010, 12:57 AM
Do I read you all correctly?

So Rome's empire resulted from a unified "total war" political will built on manifest destiny and Perseverance?

America's political will is fractured or has a foundation in at least two houses as described in the ariculate Rhodes analysis?

We probably are conducting FID but it seem to be more probably is less. Whats the alternative? Occupation, colonization, punish the innocent and the guilty in a country by leaving it destroyed, genocide.....FID under the guise of COIN and Stability and Reconstruction satisfies the political will and leaves USA to believe we are as great as we think we are. As my insightful interpreter asked "what gives the US the right to do these things (Iraq Afghanistan)?"

Nor is it about Democrat and Republican. Plenty on both sides of the aisle to support either position. The fracture is between who we collectively see ourselves as as a Nation in terms of our relations with others and how we actually engage others and the true effects and consequences of that form of engagement in this era of growing popular empowerment.

As to what gives us the "right"; well, it is our might, plain and simple.

As to what motivates our actions; I'd chalk that up to fear and ignorance. We fear what would happen if we didn't, and we haven't figured out a smarter way to address those same fears. We need to though, because what we are seeing, as others have learned before us, is that what once may have been a good "cure" can kill one over time if abused it or if the conditions change. Good bit of both of those going on, IMO.

Chris jM
02-23-2010, 06:33 AM
As to what motivates our actions; I'd chalk that up to fear and ignorance. We fear what would happen if we didn't, and we haven't figured out a smarter way to address those same fears. We need to though, because what we are seeing, as others have learned before us, is that what once may have been a good "cure" can kill one over time if abused it or if the conditions change. Good bit of both of those going on, IMO.

Fear yes, but ignorance? Aren't you being a little harsh on your countrymen? Ignorance may lead to fear, but does ignorance itself actually drive your nation's actions?

I'd prefer to opt for Thucydides' trinity of fear, honour and interest being the driving factors behind any human undertaking.

Chris jM
02-23-2010, 07:05 AM
Content, context and situation change, but if we want to draw comparisons between Rome and the US, then it's best to do it on as close a basis as possible. Rome is much closer to the US than many people now want to believe, including the "external" governance structures.

Of course, if one is to draw comparisons between two entities then doing so with detail is important.

I don't want to appear overly critical of the points being raised because I am in agreement with the majority of what you (and Bob's World) are saying.

I still hold onto my view that it is better to inform and shape an understanding of history as theory rather than identify historical detail as an end in itself, however the difference in my own head is nearing the point of self-defeating semantics... I may differ on the 'best practice' of classical/ historical comparison, but I would never write off any comparison as being needless or ineffective. Disclaimers and caveats need to accompany every form of history, even if it is only down to the fact that we ourselves are observing it from an imperfect perspective given our own modern bias.

Also, thanks marct for the small point of wisdom on connecting 'empire' with 'sphere of influence'. That is something I did not know, and will now blatantly use to impress/ fool those around me with my knowledge of latin :cool:

marct
02-23-2010, 04:07 PM
Hi Chris,


I still hold onto my view that it is better to inform and shape an understanding of history as theory rather than identify historical detail as an end in itself, however the difference in my own head is nearing the point of self-defeating semantics...

Well, I would say that at an epistemological level, how we theorize history says more about us than it does about "history" per se. Coming from that, the importance of details, what type, how many, selection criteria, etc., shifts. Then again, I've been pretty heavily influenced by Carlo Ginzburg (see here (http://www.amazon.com/Clues-Myths-Historical-Method-Ginzburg/dp/080184388X/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_5)) which shouldn't be too surprising since he took Anthro methods and applied them to history ;).

"self-defeating semantics". Now you've hit on a soap box of mine (I can hear Wilf groaning :D). This is where selection criteria become crucial - what meaning are you trying to uncover in historical research? When does it come to be self-defeating? Can we learn anything now based on that?


I may differ on the 'best practice' of classical/ historical comparison, but I would never write off any comparison as being needless or ineffective. Disclaimers and caveats need to accompany every form of history, even if it is only down to the fact that we ourselves are observing it from an imperfect perspective given our own modern bias.

Definitely! There's a neat principle I use called Ginzburg's Razor - a good discussion on it is in the intro to this book (http://www.amazon.com/Microhistory-Lost-Peoples-Europe-Selections/dp/0801841836/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266940932&sr=1-1). Basically, he argues that between competing hypotheses, the one that requires the least additional number of hypotheses is the most plausible (not "probable", not "true" - he's using abductive logic). It's a good principle to keep in mind if, at the same time, we also remember that as a species we have pretty much exactly the same brains as every other human throughout recorded history (in terms of potentialities).


Also, thanks marct for the small point of wisdom on connecting 'empire' with 'sphere of influence'. That is something I did not know, and will now blatantly use to impress/ fool those around me with my knowledge of latin :cool:

LOL - have fun, but point out that the word itself was stolen from the Greek (not Latin). The Romans were almost as kleptomoniacal as the English when it comes to grabbing neat words :D.

Cheers,

Marc

William F. Owen
02-23-2010, 05:11 PM
Well, I would say that at an epistemological level, how we theorize history says more about us than it does about "history" per se. Coming from that, the importance of details, what type, how many, selection criteria, etc., shifts.
I would hold to idea that only by learning from history, can we develop theory to inform current and near future practice. - and I restrict this to military history. - because we simply have no other body of evidence, than history.

Fact is, most military history is merely entertaining narrative. That which isn't is mostly trend-spotting garbage, in that it seeks to find proof to support pet-rock theories. We have yet to usefully re-develop an approach to military history which seeks to usefully inform.

"self-defeating semantics". Now you've hit on a soap box of mine (I can hear Wilf groaning :D). This is where selection criteria become crucial - what meaning are you trying to uncover in historical research? When does it come to be self-defeating? Can we learn anything now based on that?
Beyond groaning, I would also submit that if you do not have a language that describes the events you are studying, then you are never going to understand them, because words have meaning and "meaning is understanding." Meaning should focus on clarity and simplicity.

Steve Blair
02-23-2010, 05:25 PM
We have yet to usefully re-develop an approach to military history which seeks to usefully inform.

And that's possibly because everyone seems to have a different "spin" on both useful and inform....:wry:

Seriously, history is more of an objective art than a subjective science, and will most likely remain so due to the involvement of humans in history. I'd actually say that it's more important to teach folks how to read and comprehend history (both good and bad types) so that they can use that knowledge base to inform their own history selections and build their own theoretical base. Learning to understand and recognize bias helps one separate the wheat from the chaff...and that's a skill that seems to be seldom taught these days. It can also help one mine nuggets of great information from sources that might otherwise not be considered.

marct
02-23-2010, 06:02 PM
Hi Wilf,


I would hold to idea that only by learning from history, can we develop theory to inform current and near future practice. - and I restrict this to military history. - because we simply have no other body of evidence, than history.

I would certainly agree that we can "learn" from history, and I wasn't trying to argue that we couldn't ;). At the same time, we are stuck in the position of not being able to experience it, so what we learn will be conditioned by our current interests, available data, methods, etc.

Also, I certainly wouldn't limit it to military history. Let me toss out an example of why. First, the very concept of "military" as separate from, say, "political" history is, IMO, silly if for no other reason, and there are other reasons, than that not all cultures separate the two: think classical Greek city states as an example. My own personal bias would be to integrate as much history, both by area and by function, as possible and, at the same time, require that people read mythology and fiction as well.


Fact is, most military history is merely entertaining narrative. That which isn't is mostly trend-spotting garbage, in that it seeks to find proof to support pet-rock theories. We have yet to usefully re-develop an approach to military history which seeks to usefully inform.

Hmmm, again I'm not quite sure I agree with you. What about the technological histories of warfare? Agreed, they are still focused on a present requirement, but I don't think that that is escapable, at least if you want to get funded for it :D.

Also, I wouldn't be too sure that studying "entertaining narratives" isn't a good idea. There is some pretty good, indicative evidence that shows that people will, either consciously or sub-consciously, model their identitites and actions after narrative figures.


Beyond groaning, I would also submit that if you do not have a language that describes the events you are studying, then you are never going to understand them, because words have meaning and "meaning is understanding." Meaning should focus on clarity and simplicity.

Absolutely! It's one of the reasons I agree with you and Bob that we aren't doing COIN in Afghanistan.

William F. Owen
02-23-2010, 07:09 PM
Also, I certainly wouldn't limit it to military history. Let me toss out an example of why. First, the very concept of "military" as separate from, say, "political" history is, IMO, silly if for no other reason, and there are other reasons, than that not all cultures separate the two: think classical Greek city states as an example.
Concur. I merely limited it to Military History in terms of my criticism. I am very much taken by Colin Gray's approach to "Strategic History," which causes me to ask where is the "tactical history?" - obviously there are some excellent tactical historians like Rory Muir and Paddy Griffith, but they are very rare compared to the "narrators."

Also, I wouldn't be too sure that studying "entertaining narratives" isn't a good idea. There is some pretty good, indicative evidence that shows that people will, either consciously or sub-consciously, model their identitites and actions after narrative figures.
....so we end up with various folks thinking they are, or wanting to identify others as T.E. Lawrence? OK. Is this useful? :wry:

marct
02-23-2010, 07:14 PM
Hi Wilf,


Concur. I merely limited it to Military History in terms of my criticism. I am very much taken by Colin Gray's approach to "Strategic History," which causes me to ask where is the "tactical history?" - obviously there are some excellent tactical historians like Rory Muir and Paddy Griffith, but they are very rare compared to the "narrators."

Hmmm, good point. Maybe it's time someone tried to apply the principles of microhistory to "tactical history".


....so we end up with various folks thinking they are, or wanting to identify others as T.E. Lawrence? OK. Is this useful? :wry:

Yup - especially if it is our opponents who are doing it :D!

More seriously, figuring out what the various narrative roles are allow us to (potentially) control for biases both within our own groups and with our opponents. It certainly would not give us tactically useful information, but it would give us strategically useful information.

Anyway, gotta run off to a meeting......

Cheers,

Marc

Xenophon67
02-24-2010, 02:34 AM
Clearly there is a weakness when one tries to continually 'teach' by analogy.

The risk of oversimplification is too great - and then all that can be produced is a sweeping, thesis-driven conclusion. Which too easily satisfies too many people.

Indeed the very prospect of 21st century Americans being able to fully comprehend the intricacies of Roman culture and psyche would be difficult, at best. The facts/details.....well the Roman historical record is incomplete, therefore would not be able to make a point-by-point comparative analysis.

Then again - we produce scores of battle analyses, we encourage our people to read about the "Great Captains" - so there has got to be some value in analogy.

Napoleon's sixteen months of intensive study seemed to bridge the gap of experience he never accumulated, thus leading to 64 victories.
Patton felt as if 'he was there' and seemed to fully embrace the stories he heard read to him.

Ron Humphrey
02-24-2010, 03:59 AM
oops, meant ages :D

Seriously all the points brought out during these discussions always lead me to step back and try to see what I may be too close to see in how I perceive those actions and teachings of those around me, let alone how those perceptions tend to shape approaches to life and learning.

From what I have studied I'd have to agree with Marc in that we probably reflect the Roman's more than we might be comfortable with, does however add to those things which we might be able to learn from some of the histories available.



Clearly there is a weakness when one tries to continually 'teach' by analogy.

The risk of oversimplification is too great - and then all that can be produced is a sweeping, thesis-driven conclusion. Which too easily satisfies too many people.

Indeed the very prospect of 21st century Americans being able to fully comprehend the intricacies of Roman culture and psyche would be difficult, at best. The facts/details.....well the Roman historical record is incomplete, therefore would not be able to make a point-by-point comparative analysis.

Then again - we produce scores of battle analyses, we encourage our people to read about the "Great Captains" - so there has got to be some value in analogy.


Regarding over-simplification while I can see the truth in your statement is it not still a fact that quite often in large organizations or societies it may require a pretty simple approach just to try getting everyone on the same page. Goal being that even if their on the "wrong" page good leaders should be able to direct them more to where they need them since their at least starting on the same page together.

Of course you knew I'd have to try using an extreme oversimplification to counter :wry:



Napoleon's sixteen months of intensive study seemed to bridge the gap of experience he never accumulated, thus leading to 64 victories.
Patton felt as if 'he was there' and seemed to fully embrace the stories he heard read to him.

There are always those special few who for some reason or another are able to do that. Guess we just have to hope they find there way into the right places at the right time. And of course (since hope isn't a method) its probably a good idea to get those education/training issues you've all been talking about fixed so theres a greater likelihood you actually find them in time to get them where they need to be.

Prob doesn't hurt to be lucky occasionally either.

Bob's World
02-24-2010, 04:34 AM
Simple is always better than complex; but that is not to be confused with simplistic.

"E=MC2" is simple, but it is far from simplistic.

A great deal of complex programs for waging and measuring progress in insurgency are rooted in very simplistic understandings of what the true nature of the problem is that they are attempting to address. This actually feeds the complexity of the programs built upon them.

Simple is good. Simplistic is bad. Wisdom is being able to identify the difference between the two.

marct
02-24-2010, 06:14 PM
Hi Guys,


Clearly there is a weakness when one tries to continually 'teach' by analogy.

The risk of oversimplification is too great - and then all that can be produced is a sweeping, thesis-driven conclusion. Which too easily satisfies too many people.


Regarding over-simplification while I can see the truth in your statement is it not still a fact that quite often in large organizations or societies it may require a pretty simple approach just to try getting everyone on the same page. Goal being that even if their on the "wrong" page good leaders should be able to direct them more to where they need them since their at least starting on the same page together.

Years ago, I came to the conclusion that all teaching is a form of communications. It either attempts to match a signal with a receiver in terms of coding / decoding (analogy, metaphor, common ground, etc.), or it attempts to "program" the coding systems in use (e.g. to formally establish a common ground, including specialized languages). One of the implications of this insight (or "brain fart" if you will ;)) is that the greater number of people (or variance amongst them) you are trying to communicate with, the "simpler" you have to make your message.


Simple is good. Simplistic is bad. Wisdom is being able to identify the difference between the two.

Now this I really like, Bob :D! It reminds me of


I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short (Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue parceque je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte)~Blaise Pascal, Lettres Provinciales (1656-1657), no. 16.

To my mind, the crucial component in the Pascal quote is the association of time with simplification of a message. Not making the message "simplistic" but, rather, "simple" takes time and this, I believe, is where our (species) use of analogy, metaphor, etc. come in, especially if it can be clarified via what we might call "paradoxical compaction". On the latter, think koan or apparent paradox as a way or recoding people's perceptions towards a less cluttered "understanding".

Firn
02-25-2010, 10:15 AM
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler

Pascal's line shows that one may have to make a (great) effort to achieve this goal. ;)


Firn

wm
02-25-2010, 04:47 PM
Also, thanks marct for the small point of wisdom on connecting 'empire' with 'sphere of influence'. That is something I did not know, and will now blatantly use to impress/ fool those around me with my knowledge of latin :cool:

I submit that we should make clear the distinction between imperium and regnum. Imperium is externally granted power while regnum is inherited power. Imperium also originally denoted military power. When Rome rid itself of kings, it also rid itself of regnum as the source of magisterial power and imperium as the source of a magistrate's power replaced regnum. I suspect this is connected to what Bob's World likes to post about legitimacy of government. It should not be confused with auctoritas, which we tend to translate as authority, but for the Romans meant something more like prestige. Imperium is a class of potestas, which is coercive power, while auctoritas is better understood as persuasive or charismatic power. The de jure/de facto distinction also helps make sense of the difference between potestas/imperium and auctoritas.

If one want to extend this, then one could discourse on the symbols of imperium. A consul, dictator, praetor, magister equitum, or curule aedile was invested with the imperium--that is during a ceremony, they received their baton and their curule plus their fasces-carrying escort, the lictors. Different levels of magistrate received different levels of imperium, by the way (and that was signified by the number of lictors who accompanied them). Think of the passing of the guidon/flag that occurs during a US Army change of command ceremony or the assumption of command letter one executes--the latter requires the incoming commander to cite the authority (potestas, not auctoritas) for assuming command. In a modern US military context, having imperium might be likened to having UCMJ authority: depending on your rank/position you have different punishment and convening powers--CG/FG Article 15; Summary, Special, BCD Special, and General Courts.

For what it is worth, the phrase "seat of power" is likely derived from the curule--the folding chair upon which those invested with imperium sat. And, the term prince derives fron Princeps, or "first citizen,"
first applied to Caesar Augustus (Octavian).

marct
02-25-2010, 05:08 PM
Hi WM,


I submit that we should make clear the distinction between imperium and regnum. Imperium is externally granted power while regnum is inherited power. Imperium also originally denoted military power. When Rome rid itself of kings, it also rid itself of regnum as the source of magisterial power and imperium as the source of a magistrate's power replaced regnum. I suspect this is connected to what Bob's World likes to post about legitimacy of government. It should not be confused with auctoritas, which we tend to translate as authority, but for the Romans meant something more like prestige. Imperium is a class of potestas, which is coercive power, while auctoritas is better understood as persuasive or charismatic power. The de jure/de facto distinction also helps make sense of the difference between potestas/imperium and auctoritas.

Excellent points and, while we are nit-picking on translations, it is important to note that the "external" power varies slightly between the Latin and Greek, as well as the context of usage. Regnum is, as a concept, pretty far away from many modern, western ones, but has the connotation as well as denotation of "ruling" by "right" held within the individual. There are some interesting potential applications of it, as a concept, to the self-conceptualizations of people like Bernie Madoff....

You are quite correct that Imperium is a (sub)class of potestas, although I would have translated potestas as "potential power", rather than coercive power.


If one want to extend this, then one could discourse on the symbols of imperium. A consul, dictator, praetor, magister equitum, or curule aedile was invested with the imperium--that is during a ceremony, they received their baton and their curule plus their fasces-carrying escort, the lictors. Different levels of magistrate received different levels of imperium, by the way (and that was signified by the number of lictors who accompanied them). Think of the passing of the guidon/flag that occurs during a US Army change of command ceremony or the assumption of command letter one executes--the latter requires the incoming commander to cite the authority (potestas, not auctoritas) for assuming command. In a modern US military context, having imperium might be likened to having UCMJ authority: depending on your rank/position you have different punishment and convening powers--CG/FG Article 15; Summary, Special, BCD Special, and General Courts.

Yup, and that's a pretty good analogy. Where it starts to get truly interesting, IMHO, is when we look at it outside of its particular cultural context to how others perceived it and reacted to it.

wm
02-25-2010, 06:02 PM
Regnum is, as a concept, pretty far away from many modern, western ones, but has the connotation as well as denotation of "ruling" by "right" held within the individual. There are some interesting potential applications of it, as a concept, to the self-conceptualizations of people like Bernie Madoff....
I'd extend that well beyond the self-concepts of serious scofflaws like Madoff. I think the whole Western way of thinking about natural rights has its roots in the sense of regnum--I am naturally endowed with a certain power to make cklaims against others just because I happen to be a human being. Lots of other cultural traditions (like Confucianisme.g., have different perspectives


Where it starts to get truly interesting, IMHO, is when we look at it outside of its particular cultural context to how others perceived it and reacted to it.
Concur, as I hope my remark above makes clear.

marct
02-25-2010, 06:12 PM
I'd extend that well beyond the self-concepts of serious scofflaws like Madoff. I think the whole Western way of thinking about natural rights has its roots in the sense of regnum--I am naturally endowed with a certain power to make cklaims against others just because I happen to be a human being. Lots of other cultural traditions (like Confucianisme.g., have different perspectives

Sure, I would too; I was just trying to think of a decent, modern (idiotic ;)) example of the inappropriate application of the concept. I'm going to have to think about the idea that it's the basis of natural rights. My gut reaction is that it might be, but only if you include a major dose of Christian (Augustinian) thinking as well.



Originally Posted by marct http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?p=94028#post94028)
Where it starts to get truly interesting, IMHO, is when we look at it outside of its particular cultural context to how others perceived it and reacted to it.
Concur, as I hope my remark above makes clear.

Hmm, not quite ;). I was thinking more along the lines not so much of other cultures perspectives but, rather, how they viewed the Western perspective in action as it were.

wm
02-25-2010, 08:13 PM
I was thinking more along the lines not so much of other cultures perspectives but, rather, how they viewed the Western perspective in action as it were.

My point was that other societies' assessment of the Western perspective will be "colored" by their own societal perspectives.

On your prior point, I wonder why you stop at Augustine--he was largely a mouthpiece for Neoplatonism so you ought to rope in Origen, Porphry, and Plotinus at least.(We could of course push the noodle back to Plato and Pythagoras as well, but I doubt that would enable us to know the form of the Good :wry:.)

marct
02-25-2010, 08:50 PM
My point was that other societies' assessment of the Western perspective will be "colored" by their own societal perspectives.

Okay, I can grok that; and I agree.


On your prior point, I wonder why you stop at Augustine--he was largely a mouthpiece for Neoplatonism so you ought to rope in Origen, Porphry, and Plotinus at least.(We could of course push the noodle back to Plato and Pythagoras as well, but I doubt that would enable us to know the form of the Good :wry:.)

Well, I stopped because I thought it might be sen as just too much of a philosophical highjacking of the thread :D! Since you ask, however, I would consider Origen to be a useless bureaucrat and Plotinus to be totally uninvolved; couldn't really talk about Porphry....

The more realistic reason why I brought up Augustine was that he was a) heavily involved in the development of Just war theory and b) the equation of regnum with the Will / "Mana" of God, basically setting the stage for the crowning of Charlemagne later on, and the development of the Divine Right of Kings vs. the ME concept of the God King.

Billy Ruffian
02-26-2010, 07:05 PM
Then the modern information age destroyed the ability of governments to control information; which in turn destroyed the ability of governments to control populaces. This empowered the people of Eastern Europe, leading to the end of the Cold War. At that point the genie was out of the bottle. The west thought it only affected Soviet oppression of other populaces and began to celebrate our way through the Bush I and Clinton administrations. There were signs that the wheels were coming off, that small countries oppressed by ("allies with") Western governments were beginning to have problems with their populaces as well. That members of these popular uprisings were beginning to target Western interests as well. We saw these as small local problems and random crackpot acts of terrorism.

Sir, governments have never been able to completely control information. The advent of the internet and the "post-industrial information society" added a new dimension to narrative management and multiplied the number of actors who could participate in the few meaningful dialogues and legions of crummy monologues, diatribes and whining - ie "Leave Britney Alone" and "Here's my youtube mashup of Vladimir Putin as Hitler, aren't I smart?"

Even in totalitarian or authoritarian societies, people found ways to communicate, to crouch and conspire - seen most effectively in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

It's not really control of information that we should worry about, but rather surveillance of information, especially as Internet Service Providers now have the tools to conduct invasive information packet monitoring on a broader scale that is much more efficient than what they had after the release of the internet fifteen years ago. I mean, you could argue that a foreman has control over every box that moves through his yard - that control is meaningless unless he has some kind of strategy in place to know the contents of each box or packet as they move through and a way to stop and confiscate any that he finds suspicious.

I would also state that the quantity of information is irrelevant so long as you maintain a handle on the comparatively miniscule amount of quality information, which of course is context specific. The Imperio Arcani or Secrets of Imperial Policy would be a good example of that from the classical world. My latin is a little rusty, so please forgive me if the translations is rough.

I'd refer you to the following opinion by Ohm. It's about 80 pages, about 3/4's of the way through he lays out a fairly compelling case for adopting Cisco's Netflow protocol for all web interaction to prevent invasive surveillance.

Ohm, P. (2009). The Rise and Fall of Invasive ISP Surveillance. University of Illinois Law Review. (5), 1417.

Xenophon67
02-27-2010, 02:09 AM
I am presently reading the following article (so that I can best jump into this intriguing discussion):

Insurgency in Ancient Times: The Jewish Revolts Against the Seleucid and Roman Empires, 166 BC-73 AD
by LTC William T. Sorrells
U. S. Army

If there are any other sources, other than those mentioned thus, far please give post them-thanks

jmm99
02-27-2010, 07:53 PM
Ohm, P. (2009). The Rise and Fall of Invasive ISP Surveillance (http://lawreview.law.uiuc.edu/publications/2000s/2009/2009_5/Ohm.pdf). University of Illinois Law Review. (5), 1417.

and Insurgency in Ancient Times (http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA436236): The Jewish Revolts Against the Seleucid and Roman Empires, 166 BC-73 AD, by LTC William T. Sorrells.

The preferred COA is to include the url for your citation so that others do not have to Google it up - as I just did for both of these. The "insert link" icon (bottom row of top bar editor icons, 5th icon from right) makes that process seamless.

Thanks

Mike

marct
03-01-2010, 05:08 PM
Insurgency in Ancient Times: The Jewish Revolts Against the Seleucid and Roman Empires, 166 BC-73 AD
by LTC William T. Sorrells, U. S. Army

It's an interesting piece all told, although I was somewhat surprised that he didn't mention the Sicarii (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicarii), and with some of the other rather curious omissions in his analysis (e.g. the relative importance of Ptolomaic Egypt for the Maccabean Revolt and its lack of an equivalent during the later one). I could also be picky about his characterization of the Qumran Community, but I couldn't seriously expect him to have followed all of the debates on that group.

One thread of his argument that I truly enjoyed was his equation of end states with religious ideologies. It is a point that, I believe, is often given only lip service. Personally, I would have been interested in an extended analysis of two areas. First, I would have liked to see a more in depth discussion of the Messianic and Millenarian doctrines and how they helped to shape the TTPs of the second insurgency. I suspect that a really solid case for explaining some of the rather bizarre infighting around the Temple could be made through an examination of The Wars of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Scroll). Second, I do have to wonder if Vespasian was just being smart and letting the various factions wipe each other out during that 7 month wait...

Tukhachevskii
03-02-2010, 10:47 AM
The following two articles, Operation Messiah: Did Christianity Start as a Roman Psychological Counterinsurgency Operation? (http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a714005429&db=all) and Jesus, as security risk: Insurgency in first century Palestine? (http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a787274795) in the Journal Small Wars and Insurgencies both put forward rather provocative theses but contain much valuable information regarding Roman COIN and Intelligence practices. Unfortunately, they are subscription only although I do have pdf copies of the papers in question.

wm
03-02-2010, 08:44 PM
It's an interesting piece all told, although I was somewhat surprised that he didn't mention the Sicarii (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicarii), and with some of the other rather curious omissions in his analysis (e.g. the relative importance of Ptolomaic Egypt for the Maccabean Revolt and its lack of an equivalent during the later one). I could also be picky about his characterization of the Qumran Community, but I couldn't seriously expect him to have followed all of the debates on that group.

One thread of his argument that I truly enjoyed was his equation of end states with religious ideologies. It is a point that, I believe, is often given only lip service. Personally, I would have been interested in an extended analysis of two areas. First, I would have liked to see a more in depth discussion of the Messianic and Millenarian doctrines and how they helped to shape the TTPs of the second insurgency. I suspect that a really solid case for explaining some of the rather bizarre infighting around the Temple could be made through an examination of The Wars of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Scroll). Second, I do have to wonder if Vespasian was just being smart and letting the various factions wipe each other out during that 7 month wait...

In addition to MarcT's point about the fact that Maccabean Judea sat between two relatively major powers, one of whom (Ptlomaic Egypt) was almost assuredly supporting the revolt (reminds one of England, France and the 13 Colonies somewhat), one must also note that even within the Seleucid Empire different factions courted the Jewish revolutionaries.

I think it rather important to note the difference between the forces deployed by the Hellenes and those used by the Romans. A sarissa-equipped phalanx just is not the right kind of formation to employ in the Judean hills. The manipular order of Roman legionnaires armed with short swords and javelins designed for close-in work was quite effective in battles that would be fought in that kind of terrain. The Roman cohort structure was also a better approach to tactical organization than the Hellenic chilliarch. Perhaps if the Seleucid army had employed a preponderance of peltasts and hoplites rather phalangists in Palestine, they may have had more success.

I think the real similarity between the two revolts lies in the fact that success breeds cooperation. As the author noted, the Maccabean forces grew due to continued victories (although I'm less sure about his claim that these victories were due to outstanding Jewish leadership rather than incompetent Hellenic leadership--a fair chess player can usually overcome a poor one). Similarly, the Jewish Revolt unified and drew support from the initial repulse of a single, poorly led Roman legion. Once defeats started to occur, the unity of purpose quickly disappeared.

This last point can be mapped to later coalition success in Iraq, I believe. As the insurgents lost more engagements, their support waned. People usually tend to go with a winner. Of course what constitutes being a winner is open to discussion. I think the mass suicide of the Sicarii Zealots at Masada belongs in the "death before dishonor" view of victory. This viewpoint may explain why AQ still draws recruits--they may also view winning as martyrdom.

Bob's World
03-03-2010, 01:09 AM
More likely it was "Death before torture and death" rather than some point of honor.

marct
03-03-2010, 01:29 AM
More likely it was "Death before torture and death" rather than some point of honor.

Given that they probably would have been converted into street lights a la Spartacus, I suspect you're right.