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-   -   We need less Chemo and Surgery and more "Voom." (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=17013)

Bob's World 11-21-2012 12:26 PM

We need less Chemo and Surgery and more "Voom."
 
Recently Secretary Panetta applied a cancer treatment analogy to our efforts to defeat terrorism. Apparently the message is that we have applied massive does of chemo therapy and radiation to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and the Horn of Africa, and our very best surgeons have cut out the portions of the cancer deemed to be most problematic - and yet the cancer continues to spread. Not to worry, however, we are hiring more surgeons.

It seems to me that a "Cat in the Hat Comes Back" analogy is more appropriate. We had a small, but problematic "spot" and despite the best efforts of Cats A, B and C (lets call them "governance," "development" and "security"; or perhaps "regime change," "Pop-Centric COIN" and BPC/CT") the spot has frustrated our best efforts and continued to grow. What we need is a lot less Cat A, Cat B and Cat C, and a little bit of Cat Z and "Voom."

Al-Qaeda 'Cancer' Spreads With U.S. Chasing, Panetta Says Bloomberg.com, By Gopal Ratnam -
Quote:

“We have slowed the primary cancer -- but we know the cancer has also metastasized to other parts of the global body” despite American military gains against al-Qaeda in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen in the last decade, Panetta said in a speech yesterday in Washington.

... The continuing fight against the terror group “will largely take place outside declared combat zones,” carried out by U.S. Special Operations Forces and through assistance to countries so they “can be effective in combating terrorism on their own,” Panetta said at an event organized by the Center for a New American Security, a policy research group in Washington... Panetta said “we are continuing to ramp up Special Operations Forces” even as the Pentagon’s budget comes under pressure because of budget deficits and debt and the military’s size is being cut back. The forces trained to conduct commando operations, such as the one that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, already have doubled in size from 37,000 on Sept. 11, 2011, to 64,000 today and “will grow to 72,000 by 2017,” he said...
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-1...etta-says.html


The Cat in the Hat Comes Back:
Quote:

The Cat in the Hat made a return appearance in this 1958 sequel. Once again, the mother has left Sally and her unnamed brother alone for the day, but this time, they are instructed to clear away a huge amount of snow while she is out. While they are working, the cat turns up and snacks on a cake in the bathtub with the water running, and leaves a pink residue. Preliminary attempts to clean it up fail as they only transfer the mess elsewhere, including a dress, the wall, a pair of ten dollar shoes, a rug, the bed, and then eventually outside. The cat reveals that Little Cat A is nested inside his hat. Little Cat A doffs his hat to reveal Little Cat B, who reveals C, and so on. A "spot killing" war then takes place between the mess and Little Cats A through V, who use an arsenal of primitive weapons including pop guns, bats, and a lawnmower. Unfortunately, the initial battle to rid the mess only makes it into an entire yard-covering spot. Little Cats V, W, X, and Y then take off their hats to uncover microscopic Little Cat Z. Z takes his hat off and unleashes a "Voom", which cleans up the back yard and puts all of the other Little Cats back into the big Cat in the Hat's hat. The cat leaves, with the promise he will return some day, and bring all his little cats back.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cat_in_the_Hat

The $64,000 question is: Where is Cat Z, and what is "voom"?

I have my thoughts on that topic, but I would like to hear yours.

Dayuhan 11-21-2012 09:11 PM

I'm not sure the "spreading cancer" analogy is useful from the start.

Cancer is a major threat to life, a potentially fatal disease. Al Qaeda specifically and Islamic extremism generally are not and never have been an existential threat to the US.

"Spreading" is substantially exaggerated IMO. These movements have not been eliminated but they haven't gained in influence or capacity either. In many areas (SE Asia was once melodramatically called the second front in the GWOT) they have declined.

I don't see any impending moment when there can be a "victory" over these movements; it's not that kind of fight. It will be a long fight, but that doesn't mean it has to be a long war. I don't think turning it into a war is advantageous to us.

If I had to outline a very general program, it would look something like this:

1. Defend effectively. Monitoring, tracking, infiltrating, and disrupting plots won't eliminate the antagonists, but it can minimize their impact, deprive them of high profile success, and isolate them from supporters who want to see results.

2. Attack effectively. Find and eliminate the key individuals on the operational and the funding/support side by whatever means work.

3. Starve them. Don't occupy territory, don't feed that "expel the infidel from the land of the faithful" narrative. Extended occupations of Muslim territory provide a discrete, specific target for jihadi propaganda and fundraising and should be avoided. We'll never convert the inner circle, they have to be killed, arrested, or driven so far underground that they can't operate. The inner circle can be isolated from their sources of support and recruitment.

4. Don't be stupid. There will always someone who will tell us that the cause of all the mess is bad governance in Muslim countries and we can fix the mess by fixing governance in Muslim countries. Trying to do that is just going to get us deeper in the $#!t. It can be argued (though often exaggerated) that the bad governance problem is to some extent something we helped create, but we can't undo the effect of meddling past by meddling again.

It's certainly a fight, but I don't think it has to be a war. Going big and heavy and indulging in excesses like regime change and nation building does not earn us any advantage and can be a real liability.

All IMO, obviously.

jmm99 11-21-2012 09:31 PM

To hell with metaphors
 
1 Attachment(s)
whether cancer, cats in hats, etc., etc.

We would do better to couch our assertions within the broad conventional frameworks, even if those assertions contain outrageously unconventional strategies and tactics.

The term "fight" has no real meaning in this thread's context. A "War" (armed conflict) Paradigm has meaning. A non-War Paradigm also has meaning; but is more limiting in what strategies and tactics are available.

End rant.

BTW, these (except 4, which is a "don't"):

Quote:

from Dayuhan

1. Defend effectively. Monitoring, tracking, infiltrating, and disrupting plots won't eliminate the antagonists, but it can minimize their impact, deprive them of high profile success, and isolate them from supporters who want to see results.

2. Attack effectively. Find and eliminate the key individuals on the operational and the funding/support side by whatever means work.

3. Starve them. Don't occupy territory, don't feed that "expel the infidel from the land of the faithful" narrative. Extended occupations of Muslim territory provide a discrete, specific target for jihadi propaganda and fundraising and should be avoided. We'll never convert the inner circle, they have to be killed, arrested, or driven so far underground that they can't operate. The inner circle can be isolated from their sources of support and recruitment.

4. Don't be stupid. There will always someone who will tell us that the cause of all the mess is bad governance in Muslim countries and we can fix the mess by fixing governance in Muslim countries. Trying to do that is just going to get us deeper in the $#!t. It can be argued (though often exaggerated) that the bad governance problem is to some extent something we helped create, but we can't undo the effect of meddling past by meddling again.
are within the War Paradigm (the USA position); but questionable under the non-War Paradigm (EU and UN positions).

Note also that the War Paradigm is not limited to the SW quadrant of this matrix (JMM added Tangible = "military struggle" and Abstract = "political struggle"; though various "non-violent", "political" actions can be very "tangible"):

Attachment 1646

from 1997 Lwin (thesis), Great States, Weak States & Assymetric Strategies.pdf (then a CPT, now a COL).

Regards

Mike

davidbfpo 11-21-2012 10:07 PM

Competition not a cancer
 
I don't like the apparent simplicity of Secretary Panetta using a medical analogy, for several reasons. Such an analogy may suit a domestic and friendly audience, like CNAS. I also fear that what he said is actually policy and indicates how he and others perceive the issues.

The conflict against some terrorism waged by AQ and its affiliates by the USA, allies and friends is above all an ideological, political competition. AQ plus have via their message been able to mobilise and motivate a tiny minority to wage a violent Jihad. Many others, still a minority, have provided non-lethal support and waged the non-violent Jihad.

Several times AQ's message has been rejected and still is by the vast majority who it is aimed at.

Political mobilisation abroad for the USA, allies and friends can be hard to understand, let alone anticipate. Nor does it come from amassing data, viewing the world via a VDU and relying on the "men in black" aka SOF.

Dayuhan is right:
Quote:

Don't be stupid
Secretary Panetta's speech does not help.

Dayuhan 11-22-2012 10:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by davidbfpo (Post 142524)
The conflict against some terrorism waged by AQ and its affiliates by the USA, allies and friends is above all an ideological, political competition. AQ plus have via their message been able to mobilise and motivate a tiny minority to wage a violent Jihad. Many others, still a minority, have provided non-lethal support and waged the non-violent Jihad.

Several times AQ's message has been rejected and still is by the vast majority who it is aimed at.

Political mobilisation abroad for the USA, allies and friends can be hard to understand, let alone anticipate. Nor does it come from amassing data, viewing the world via a VDU and relying on the "men in black" aka SOF.

Certainly there's a political and ideological competition going on, but I'm not at all sure it's a competition between us and AQ, or even between us and our allies and AQ. I see it more as an internal competition in the Islamic world, a competition between a more progressive Islam that is willing to coexist with the west (while not subservient to or even totally enamored of Western agendas) and a fundamentalist Islam that sees the West purely as an antagonist. I wouldn't say we have no part in that competition, but we have to accept that we're not one of the competing parties, and we aren't necessarily trying to build our influence. Trying to hard to push our own influence can actually work against us, it feeds the narrative of the fundamentalist and the perception that we are trying to dominate the Islamic world. We're trying to support the competitive position of the groups that are most willing to coexist, even though they are not necessarily friends or allies. That requires subtlety, which has never been our strongest suit. We cannot credibly position ourselves as the champion of the oppressed Muslims, and we will step on our collective putz if we try. We can and should demonstrate that if people attack us we will kill them, but we have to separate that from anything that looks like an attempt to control Muslim countries or impose western ways on Muslims.

The comment that this will be a long fight but it needn't be a long war was perhaps based on an overly civilian view of what war is, but I think that view exists among those who make decisions as well. Call it a war and we immediately conjure up visions of large forces, of campaigns, of overwhelming force. I don't think that's what we need. While this fight - war if you will - will need action, that action will best come from law enforcement in places where there's law, from SF operations where there isn't. Large operations of the sort generally thought of as "war" need to be avoided whenever possible IMO. Even when they succeed they feed that narrative of Westerners conquering Muslims and provide a discrete target for jihadi recruitment and fundraising.

Fuchs 11-22-2012 11:12 AM

Is AQ still about errorism or isn't it long since about loudmouthing, coupled with undermining of Arab regimes in hope for a theocratic caliphate?

Shouldn't it be possible to be a less obvious or at least less enticing target for their PR stunts than said regimes?


AQ in person of UBL declared 'war' and sought its battles, it got those battles in AFG and fled. It got battles in Iraq after they were invited to play there and they lost.
I suppose AQ's interest in PR stunts / battles is not cast in stone; it might be malleable.


The whole AQ / errorism thing changes entirely once you don't assume their tendency towards PR stunts against you and your kind as cast in stone.


AQ transformed from a small terror group and civil war international mercenary group into an ideological movement. Why still treat it as a terror group only?

Dayuhan 11-22-2012 09:38 PM

I'm not sure the attacks can be considered PR stunts.

Undermining Arab regimes has been tried, and has failed. AQ and associated fundamentalist groups have never been able to muster anything close to a credible threat to any significant Arab government. The main target was Saudi Arabia, and they failed miserably there. Many Saudis are perfectly happy to support AQ as long as they are fighting infidels somewhere far away, but when they propose to take over Saudi Arabia the support dies.

The only narrative that's ever really worked for them is the jihad against the foreign invader, and without a foreign invader to fight their status and credibility wane rapidly, as they did after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Seems to me the attacks aren't just PR, they're an effort to bait the US into coming after them. Of course AQ won't win those battles, but keeping the battles going keeps them relevant, and they may think they can wear us down and win the war.

Bob's World 11-22-2012 11:27 PM

Another term for "jihad against the foreign invader" is resistance insurgency.

I think Dayuhan raises several good points in his posts. Consider this. Classic resistance is when a foreign invader physically occupies one's homeland. They have defeated one's formal military forces and forced the formal system of governance to surrender or flee. Only the populace is left in the fight. Often such populaces receive assistance from some outside source. In US doctrine that is called "unconventional warfare" or "UW."

In the Middle East I think in many countries and among many populaces we have a virtual form of foreign "occupation" going on. The West post-WWI, and the US post-WWII have applied a mix of physical and virtual occupation by policy; shaping governance in ways that suited those foreign governments and that left the populaces of the region powerless and irrelevant. When there was a greater threat, in the form of a Soviet desire to replace that Western influence with their own, those populaces generally tolerated that external influence. After all, they had tolerated the Ottomans for several hundred years.

But once that Soviet threat faded, and once the empowering effects of modern information tools connected and empowered these many diverse populaces in unprecedented ways, the people began to move on long suppressed resentments. AQ formed to leverage that latent energy toward their own ends, and employed those same information tools to show that a fairly small non-state group could conduct UW just like, or even better than, large powerful states such as Great Britain, Russia and the US.

Now, if one is that foreign power and wants to exercise complete dominion over some place and people, one must simply wage war and crush the people. It works. But, if on the other hand one simply wants to have influence and ensure flow of critical resources and keeping major sea lanes open, then one would be foolish to wage war. The other way to make a resistance go away is to remove the proverbial thorn from the lion's paw. This is a problem of policy. Not the Ends of policy, but rather the Ways and Means.

We must evolve to the world we live in today. This is the essence of "Voom."

Entropy 11-24-2012 12:30 AM

Quote:

The $64,000 question is: Where is Cat Z, and what is "voom"?
Quote:

We must evolve to the world we live in today. This is the essence of "Voom."
Have you read the book? In the book, the Cat shows up uninvited and helps himself to a bath. His bath leaves behind a bathtub ring which the Cat tries to clean. He cleans the tub, but in doing so, he creates another, slightly worse problem. He then tries to "clean" that. After several iterations the dirty "ring" grows and becomes too big for the Cat, so he enlists the cats in his hat. They only make the problem worse and worse. What started as a bathtub ring has grown to cover everything. At last the Cat releases the magic of "voom" which, in an instant, fixes everything.

The "essence" of voom is what everyone who royally F's up fantasizes about - it's the magic cure-all that will make it all better. It's the Dr. Seuss version of the Staples "Easy Button." (Or, rather, the "Easy Button" is the Staples version of "Voom.")

The long and short of it is that there's nothing that will magically come and save us from our mistakes. Sorry for the buzzkill.

"Oh the Places You'll Go" is probably a better Seuss book to use since its central lesson is about overcoming adversity.

Dayuhan 11-24-2012 12:41 AM

Not entirely in order...
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob's World (Post 142566)
Another term for "jihad against the foreign invader" is resistance insurgency.

That would be insurgency against a foreign invader in your own country. Fighting in or funding insurgency in in another country is perhaps something different.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob's World (Post 142566)
We must evolve to the world we live in today. This is the essence of "Voom."

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "voom", but if anyone expects anything to pop out of a hat and clean up all the mess they are sadly mistaken. I don't see any quick or clean solution to this.

Of course we must evolve. We are evolving. So is everyone else, including our antagonists. Evolution isn't going to provide any absolute answer or any quick fix; it is a slow and messy process that must be continuously refined. The question now is not whether to evolve or not to evolve, but what direction evolution should take and how best to pursue the selected direction.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob's World (Post 142566)
In the Middle East I think in many countries and among many populaces we have a virtual form of foreign "occupation" going on. The West post-WWI, and the US post-WWII have applied a mix of physical and virtual occupation by policy; shaping governance in ways that suited those foreign governments and that left the populaces of the region powerless and irrelevant. When there was a greater threat, in the form of a Soviet desire to replace that Western influence with their own, those populaces generally tolerated that external influence. After all, they had tolerated the Ottomans for several hundred years.

But once that Soviet threat faded, and once the empowering effects of modern information tools connected and empowered these many diverse populaces in unprecedented ways, the people began to move on long suppressed resentments. AQ formed to leverage that latent energy toward their own ends, and employed those same information tools to show that a fairly small non-state group could conduct UW just like, or even better than, large powerful states such as Great Britain, Russia and the US.

This I think is largely a speculative construct, and I don't see much real evidence to support it. AQ and its predecessor organizations have had considerable success in drawing recruits and funding to fight direct foreign military occupation of Muslim nations, forst by the Soviet Union and then by the US. Without such occupation they rapidly lose relevance and support. I see no evidence at all to suggest that people who travel to fight in faraway insurgencies or send money to support those insurgencies are doing that to change the pattern of governance in their own countries.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob's World (Post 142566)
Now, if one is that foreign power and wants to exercise complete dominion over some place and people, one must simply wage war and crush the people. It works. But, if on the other hand one simply wants to have influence and ensure flow of critical resources and keeping major sea lanes open, then one would be foolish to wage war. The other way to make a resistance go away is to remove the proverbial thorn from the lion's paw. This is a problem of policy. Not the Ends of policy, but rather the Ways and Means.

Depends on what you mean by the thorn in the lion's paw. If you mean the lasting irritant of large scale US military presence in Muslim countries, I agree. If you think the thorn in the lion's paw is the way Muslim countries are governed... well, that's certainly a thorn but it's not our thorn and trying to mess with it is only going to make matters worse.

jmm99 11-24-2012 04:10 AM

I love "buzzkill" - it's one better than roadkill !
 
1 Attachment(s)
Here's another little matrix, which illustrates the flexibility of the War Paradigm - when it is applied correctly:

Attachment 1649

from 2009 Hartigan (thesis), Why the Weak Win Wars - A Study of the Factors That Drive Strategy in Assymmetric Conflict.pdf.

See also, 2007 Mauldin (thesis), Analysis of the Inability of U.S. Military Leaders to Provide an Adequate Strategy.pdf, who gets too carried away with the "Indirect Approach". BTW: the "indirect approach" (as used by Hartigan and Mauldin) is not vintage, pure Liddell Hart. It is more Andre Beaufre and others thinking independently.

The bottom line is that a "Strong Power" (e.g., USA) must be prepared to use both Direct and Indirect Strategies in what in actuality will be a mixed War and Peace Paradigm - the pure forms of those paradigms died a long time ago.

Regards

Mike

Bob's World 11-24-2012 11:45 AM

A lot of good fodder for conversation here, that I will nick away at over the weekend. First, though, to be clear, "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back" is a child's book, and there is no magical "voom" that makes our current security challenges go away. "Voom" will be hard work, but more importantly voom will rely upon us first coming to a better understanding of the nature of the challenges we face, and one that takes much more ownership for causation on the parts of governments and governance, both our own and those we interact with abroad.

In many ways the US barreled into the greater Middle East much as the Cat enters into this family's home. In many ways we inadvertently left a "ring" from our actions. I think I would associate the parents coming home and the trouble that promises to bring with that of the local populaces becoming aware of what has happened and being postured to do something about it. The children are the governments of the region. They allowed the Cat in, they feel stuck with the Cat and uneasy with many of his antics, but in many ways they like having him around. But they know the relationship has created a mess and they fear what will happen when they are called to account. I would offer that one big difference is that the kids in the book care about what their parents think. The governments of the greater Middle East fear their populaces, but they by and large do not care about what they think so long as they comply to the lots cast for them.

The many Cats brought in to clean up the mess are like our many approaches to mitigate the effects of our actions and these dysfunctional relationships with these many governments (be they seen as friend or foe). We don't even consider how our very presence contributed so much to the problem, but have a hat full of solutions that we are willing to throw at the symptoms to "cure" or "defeat" the problems.

It's not perfect, but I believe it provides a better insight to what we are dealing with than Mr. Panetta's cancer analogy. How refreshing would it be for Mr. Panetta to look into a camera and say that Western governments, and particularly the US since WWII, are much like the Cat in the Hat, we have barged in to the homes of others in pursuit of our own self interests, we have left a mess, and to be honest, much of our efforts to clean up that mess have by and large served more to make the problem more distributed, more embedded, and more dangerous. We've drawn too much comfort from our perceptions of the good things we bring and too much comfort from the very real tactical successes we have had against aspect of the problem. But we don't understand this well, we don't own our own contributory role, and we don't think very strategically about the effects we need to shape with our engagement. We focus on approaches and first order effects, and those are largely moot in populace-based conflicts.

Dayuhan 11-24-2012 11:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob's World (Post 142593)
The children are the governments of the region. They allowed the Cat in, they feel stuck with the Cat and uneasy with many of his antics, but in many ways they like having him around. But they know he's left a mess and they fear what will happen when they are called to account.

Not sure I buy that analogy. These governments are not exactly passive actors who let us in the door and watched helplessly while we made a mess. They are in many cases very much active and have a great deal to do with their own messes and their own successes. They are not children in any way, and our influence over them is in many cases much overrated.

Analogies aside, what specific policy or course of action would you suggest?

Bob's World 11-24-2012 12:49 PM

There needs to be several steps, but the first one is to recognize that our current understanding of ourselves and how we need to act to secure our interests; what those interests actually are; and the nature of the groups we currently label as "threats" and seek to defeat are all deeply flawed. Just admitting that is a huge step.

So step one is a step back.

Step two is to seriously recognize that others act upon their interests as they perceive them. Like us, they are often wrong as well in their perceptions, but right or wrong, what they perceive is what they perceive. What we perceive or wish them to perceive is interesting, but immaterial to reality.

So step two is to seriously seek to understand and appreciate how others (key individuals, non-state actors, significant populace groups, governments, etc) perceive their critical interests; what they see as their reasonable spheres of influence, and what their near and long term goals are. Too often we tend to see everyone in the context of our own interests, values and goals, and it give us a bias of perspective that leads us to not appreciating the friction we cause and also leads us to being operationally surprised.

Those may seem to general for your desire for specific tangible actions in specific places; but how belongs to the executor. We need to begin by first getting to a better understanding. More steps and some examples of specific actions to follow.

Bob's World 11-24-2012 01:12 PM

Step 3 for the US would be to recognize the anomaly of the Cold War era, and the dangers of extending and expanding Cold War institutions and relationships as a framework for best approaching and securing our interests in the modern era. This does not mean to throw the baby out with the bath, but it does mean we need a major overhaul of institutions and relationships to go along with our overhauled perspective described in the steps above.

We need to re-balance our partnerships and figure out how we lend others the security of our strengths without at the same time adopting the vulnerabilities of those we help. The US sits on the global key terrain, and everyone seems to know that except us. We should be as secure as Fort Knox, but instead we are as vulnerable as South Korea, Israel, Taiwan, or a dozen others. WWI came tragically of excessive commitment to outdated alliances. WWIII will probably come from the same thing.

Step 4 is to recognize that less is more. To get a revamped State Department (ideally one that sees itself more as a Foreign Office, with a robust Non-state Department to complement our State Department efforts, and an end to the odd idea of having a counterterrorism division in our diplomacy agency) back in lead for US foreign policy armed with a new agenda based upon this new understanding.

Step 4 also includes a major reframe and resizing of our military. Everything and person who threatens us or who could harm us is a "threat" to us. Cyber is largely a private function for private activities, and a civil function for governmental activities. It is not a military mission as a whole. The military needs to be able to leverage cyber tools to the max, be able to play unplugged with no notice, and have reasonable mechanisms in place to reduce the likelihood or duration of having to play unplugged. Land forces need to be downsized and tailored to be a solid core of warfighting capability to build upon if a need for warfighting should emerge. The Navy and Air Force need to deter major threats and keep our access to resources and markets open. BL, the Army can assume risk on strategic missions, and the AF can assume risk on tactical missions. So less bazillion dollar fighter plane programs and less ground combat units in peace.

Dayuhan 11-24-2012 09:57 PM

This still all seems very general, and it would be interesting to see how you'd propose to apply these principles in a specific case. It's certainly good to appreciate that others act upon their own perceptions of interest, though I think most of those involved already know that, but our assessment of the perception of others is easily distorted by our own preconceived assumptions and models, which can also paint us into various corners. Trying to please everyone is not a viable policy goal: whatever we do, including nothing, will piss somebody off.

Quote:

Too often we tend to see everyone in the context of our own interests, values and goals, and it give us a bias of perspective that leads us to not appreciating the friction we cause
Would you assume that the friction that affects us is necessarily caused by us?

flagg 11-24-2012 10:30 PM

Interesting discussion......and I have often found myself using an over simplistic medical analogy when discussing western interventions with friends interested in my perspective about big picture foreign policy and geopolitics.

I will now have to pull out my kids Dr Seuss books now to have a look.

I have found a medical patient and medical procedure options analogous to a foreign nation and national foreign policy.

Sick patients/nations come in a number of different varieties.

Same goes for the various forms of medical practitioners/forms of foreign policy assistance and intervention options.

I think what also holds true with the analogy is how most medical treatment/foreign policy assistance and intervention is voluntary on the part of both the patient(host nation) and the medical practitioner team(foreign policy assistance and intervention), but it can at times be performed on a patient involuntarily(patient/nation deemed mentally incompetent) or a medical practitioner team may feel compelled to assist/intervene when they may strongly prefer not to(how some health systems waste money on expensive geriatric care reminds me of failed foreign policy choices with failing states).

I'm admittedly a bit biased in my analogy as I'm a strong believer that most "patients", most of the time, would require substantially less expensive long-term "medical care" if they simply performed basic self-care best practices such as:

*no overeating.......low corruption
*regular exercise......economic opportunity
*no smoking......transparency/accountability
*no boozing......predictability/participation
*no hookers/STIs......fair human rights and equitable justice

Patients/countries that do the basics right, usually don't require external assistance and/or intervention.

But like a lot of poor choices people make with their individual health, a lot of nations make parallel poor choices with their own figurative and literal health.

Which leads to increasing levels of intervention starting with consultations that can quickly become not too indifferent from paparazzi photos of a celebrity patient coming out of both a brothel hopefully followed by a more discrete visit to the VD clinic for some "antibiotics" in the form of greater, but still less invasive, foreign intervention.

And if a patient/nation displays a lack of personal responsibility towards it's own health by failing to implement cheaper, easier, more effective, and more sustainable healthy living choices, then invasive/kinetic options become increasing harder to avoid or argue against.

Sorry for my going through all this.....it's probably pretty over simplistic for this forum...but it's the best I've got at the moment and gives me a chance to put some form and structure to some of my random thoughts over drinks with friends and peers.

After a few trips overseas working in failed/failing/recovering states I'm starting to adjust my medical analogy a bit to include the following:

*addicts

So I'm thinking the world doesn't actually have too many violently schizophrenic mental patients/nations that compel involuntary intervention....fortunately they actually seem quite rare...like in reality.

BUT the world does seem to have a very high percentage of borderline addicts, as well as a fair number of hard core addicts....much like in reality.

There's a lot of patients/countries right now in need of going on strict diets(global financial crisis and it's long term ramifications over the next decade+) which will demand and compel considerable changes to the poor lifestyle choices and consequences of those choices in recent decades.

The funny thing is that at both the nation state level and the individual level it has already happened in parallel in the recent past in the form of Cuba. Once the Soviet Union cut the cord with Cuba financially at the nation state level it compelled radical change at both the nation state and individual patient level. From what I recall Cuba saw a considerable drop in obesity, heart disease, and diabetes related health care issues following it...so maybe the use of a medical analogy comparing nation states to individuals isn't just figurative, but literal.

And there are a few nations in need of intervention......but I don't think in the traditional kinetic/military sense......but more along the lines of a family/friends intervention framed in ways as to mitigate the risk of a violent backlash.

What I like about the Dr Seuss reference is the sudden appearance of so many foreign/infidel cats......itself a big part of the problem even when trying hard to help.

Not too unlike a patient/nation finding their hospital room filled with a bunch of relative strangers discussing their fate dispassionately and clinically with one another as if the patient/nation isn't present or more importantly, isn't part of the solution.

To me the answer is the same I heard earlier this year from a bunch of US Army National Guard Docs and PAs who also work in private practice.

90%+ of the problems they face every day is the result of poor basic personal health choices......poor diet, lack of exercise, and too much smoking, boozing, and hookers.

They are running a bit of an innovative medical practice(they all work together both in uniform and on civvie street), their patients don't pay them to make them better once they're sick......their patients pay them to keep them FROM getting sick in the first place.

About the only drug they prescribe is statins....the rest of their prescriptions involve "prescribing concrete pill" to get their patients to harden up and simply nagging them to do the right thing when it comes to the basics.

Maybe the US foreign policy "medical practice" should shift a bit more away from highly invasive oncology/cardiology/orthopedic surgeryand shift a bit more towardsprimary care/wellness practice Albeit maybe a very assertive/aggressive primary care/wellness practice. :)

But possibly the best lesson I've learned about individual human addicts in real life that I suspect also applies when it comes to nation state/patient addicts is that effective treatment requires to patient to not only admitting the addiction/poor behavior, but accept the need to change and adhering to a new code of behavior.

That will probably require version 2.0 that merges a 12 step Alcoholics Anonymous program with Kilcullen's 3 Pillars and 28 Articles. :)


Anywho.....just thinking out loud for a bit,

jmm99 11-25-2012 06:47 AM

How Effective Are Interventions and Occupations ?
 
1 Attachment(s)
Military interventions and occupations underlie this thread - despite the apparent plethora of medical procedures, cats in hats and persistent bathtub rings. So, to go to the former (and not confronting the latter), here's another resource to review.

2009 Vernetti (MAJ USA), Three's Company: The Efficacy of Third-Party Intervention in Support of Counterinsurgency.

Its BLUF is in this graphic:

Attachment 1651

as explained by the author:

Quote:

Analysis

Taken together, these results confirm that third-party intervention on behalf of a counterinsurgent decreases the likelihood of a successful outcome. Five of the seven hypotheses are confirmed with Hypothesis #5 and #6 being found not valid (see Table 3).

The results indicate that the occurrence of an early intervention or the occurrence of an early termination of an intervention do not significantly affect the chances for counterinsurgent success.

The results also indicate that third party interventions, military deployments, military occupations, and interventions involving democracies all decrease the likelihood of a successful conflict outcome.

Interventions involving an “indirect” approach to counterinsurgency represent the most promising possibility for third-party intervention with the results indicating that an intervener that participates in this type of counterinsurgent effort has a significantly better chance of bringing a successful outcome.
What is an "indirect" approach, as opposed to a "direct" approach, will be a point of controversy. At least it requires definition in the context of reality - as opposed to "translating" and "interpreting" metaphors and analogies.

Here's his definition of the chart's variables:

Quote:

INTERVENTION variable: tests for the occurrence of third party intervention in the form of military occupation, military intervention, or other military aid in support of the counterinsurgent forces. The study also includes the suppression of colonial rebellions as interventions if the colonial power deployed additional troops from outside of the colony in orderbto support the counterinsurgent. The variable titled INTERVENTION is coded “1” if an outside country or colonial power provided assistance to the counterinsurgent during the conflict. The dataset includes 59 conflicts that involved third party intervention.

MILITARY variable: refers to the type of military intervention. Specifically, cases are coded “1” if the intervention involved the deployment combat units to assist incumbent government forces. The dataset includes 50 conflicts that involved direct military interventions.

OCCUPY variable: denotes conflicts involving military occupation. Specifically, cases are coded “1” if the intervention involved the deployment combat forces across international boundaries to establish effective control over a territory to which it had previously enjoyed no sovereign title. This includes cases of colonial rebellions or where the intervening power set up a new government after occupation. The dataset includes 30 conflicts that involved military occupations.

STRATEGY variable: used to code counterinsurgent strategy. Specifically, the study uses Nagl’s binary categorization of counterinsurgency strategy [82] [82 Nagl, Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam: Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, 27.] with the STRATEGY variable coded “1” for the “indirect” approach, characterized by counterinsurgent strategies that concentrated on winning support among the population. Cases are coded “0” for the “direct” approach to counterinsurgency, characterized by attempts to achieve victory through the destruction of the insurgency’s armed forces. The coding is based off of the RAND “89 Insurgents” dataset’s evaluation of counterinsurgent competency. The RAND study presents a list of capabilities relevant to conducting an effective indirect counterinsurgency campaign [83 & 84] [83 & 84. Gompert and Gordon, War by Other Means: Building Complete and Balanced Capabilities for Counterinsurgency, xxxiii & 389]; and the variable coding comes from RAND analysts’ evaluation of counterinsurgency competency in 63 insurgency based conflicts. Specifically, the coding represents a subjective analyst evaluation of how well a counterinsurgent or intervening military demonstrated an ability to plan and carry out military operations relevant to a population-centric approach to counterinsurgency.

DEMOCRACY variable: coded to reflect the intervener’s form of government at the time of the intervention. The study codes the intervening state’s regime using Polity2 values from the Polity IV Project dataset. The Polity2 rating is a 21-point scaled composite index of regime type that ranges from highly autocratic (-10) to highly democratic (+10). The DEMOCRACY variable is coded “1” for states with a Polity2 rating 6 or higher. In cases where RAND rated government and intervener with separate competencies, the intervener competency coding was used. Sixty three conflicts are coded for STRATEGY with thirty of these involving third-party interventions for the counterinsurgent.
...
[91] Results for the DEMOCRACY sample are included because the Chi Square probability is very close to the 0.05 Alpha level probability threshold, but they are annotated to show that the results reflect a lower statistical significance (0.076).
The author's conclusion:

Quote:

Part 5: Conclusion

Does third party military intervention help or hurt an incumbent government during an insurgency?

This study attempted to answer this question by testing prevailing military theories of counterinsurgency in the context of third party intervention using basic tests for statistical significance and bivariate contingency. The results show that intervention on behalf of a counterinsurgent decreases the likelihood of a successful government outcome, and specifically, interventions in general, interventions involving the deployment of combat forces, interventions involving military occupation, and interventions by democratic states decrease the likelihood of counterinsurgent success.

Early intervention, meaning the commitment of third-party support within the first year of conflict, does not appear to have a significant effect on counterinsurgency success. Likewise, the decision to end an intervention early does not appear to significantly alter the chance of counterinsurgent failure.

Interventions in support of an “indirect” approach to counterinsurgencies are the only cases that exhibit a significant improvement for the chances of successful outcome.

In addition, conflicts involving intervention demonstrated longer average duration for losses and shorter durations for successful outcomes. If one accepts conflict duration as a proxy for conflict costliness, then these results indicate that intervention to support a counterinsurgent provides cheaper victories but more costly losses.

The implications for policymakers are twofold. First, the results show that the decision of whether to intervene involves a risky tradeoff. An intervening state may be able to significantly decrease the duration of a successful conflict if it is willing to accept the poorer odds of success. More specifically, intervention provides an opportunity to realize a quicker victory for a besieged government, but the intervening state must be willing to gamble with lower odds of winning and a higher cost for defeat.
All of this should be very "old hat" - e.g., Jack McCuen in the 1960s; but I guess these things have to be periodically "discovered".

Regards

Mike

Bob's World 11-25-2012 02:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dayuhan (Post 142606)
This still all seems very general, and it would be interesting to see how you'd propose to apply these principles in a specific case. It's certainly good to appreciate that others act upon their own perceptions of interest, though I think most of those involved already know that, but our assessment of the perception of others is easily distorted by our own preconceived assumptions and models, which can also paint us into various corners. Trying to please everyone is not a viable policy goal: whatever we do, including nothing, will piss somebody off.



Would you assume that the friction that affects us is necessarily caused by us?

"Caused" is one of those hard words people like to use. As in "you're saying we caused this." "Abandon" is another one, as it "you can't abandon an ally."

So, did we "cause" the friction that affects us? I'll let Mike clean up the terminology, but I think we have "joint and several liability" in the friction. This is a legal construct that recognizes that there is rarely a single cause for any mishap. Many contributed to the friction, but we are the one standing there with the deep pockets footing the bill.

As we both have noted, AQ did not "cause" this, nor did AQ's Islamist ideology "cause" this, nor did US foreign policy "cause" this, nor did the self-serving governance of the many despotic regimes grown used to acting with tremendous impunity in regards to their own populaces "cause" this. Certainly high food prices and unemployment did not "cause" this either. But all have contributed, and it is our own actions that have created the trail of "blame" that makes it so easy for organizations such as AQ to make the case "but for the role of the US, you would not experiencing the type of governance you currently receive at home." Is it our fault? No, but we have very real causal connections that we need to own up to and that are being exploited by others to focus the actions of the many populaces who are currently acting out to seek a better future. National governments use us as a Bogey man to focus the attention of their own revolutionary populaces away from themselves and onto us. Friends and foes alike do this. AQ uses it to recruit from these revolutionary populaces the foreign fighters and agents of terror and funding and sanctuary they need to pursue their own political agenda of change.

But it is political suicide to admit this in US politics. Those who have essentially stated positions similar to this have been mercilessly attacked by their opponents and abandoned by their allies. We exhibit classic addict behavior, refusing to take responsibility for our own contributions to causation, and rationalizing all causation onto some external "threat" beyond our control. Many factors contribute to this, so this is natural and to be expected. It is human nature. We need to overcome our nature if we are to truly make progress and get better.

I just happened to be watching a bit of the mini-series on Kennedy last night, the episode where he decides to ignore the advice of his cabinet (the same advisor's who convinced him to authorize the Bay of Pigs operations), and not escalate the operation with direct US involvement and to go to the American people and admit his mistake and take full responsibility for what happened. I don't know what actually happened, but we need a bit of how it was portrayed in the movie for our current policies related to the past 11 years of CT.

Bob's World 11-25-2012 04:01 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Mike asks and observes:

Quote:

What is an "indirect" approach, as opposed to a "direct" approach, will be a point of controversy. At least it requires definition in the context of reality - as opposed to "translating" and "interpreting" metaphors and analogies.
I have been working in this space of indirect and direct approaches in the context of the current conflict for nearly a decade, and one of the most amazing things to me is how poorly defined this concept is. I am tempted to say "misunderstood," but if a concept has a dozen definitions, then is it really "misunderstood" if on perscribes more to one definition than to others? Who is to say what is right or wrong? Besides, any way you slice it most take a position as to what the purpose of the indirect approach is that renders their particular definition moot: They think it is about defeating the insurgent and sustaining the current government.

If all roads lead to the same objective, but that objective is what is actually misdiagnosed, then what difference does it make which path you take to get there?

At USSOCOM several years ago some bright action officer sold leadership on a visual of three colorful balls connected by arrows. This was an era when the indirect approach was something done obscurely in the Philippines, and the direct apporach was the only approach in the Middle East. One ball represented friendly forces, with two broad arrows radiating outward, one a supporting effort of indirect approaches aimed through the populace ball to get at the threat ball. The other a main effort of direct approaches aimed directly at the threat ball. It was an evolution and people liked it. Now they had two ways to defeat the enemy. This chart became known by a variety of names, from "the colliding balls" to "the twigs and berries."

After a couple of years, as news "pop-centric" COIN became the rage in major theaters there was a dramatic unveiling of a "major" revolution of the twigs and berries. In a display of powerpoint mastery the old T&B chart rotated before the eyes of the assembled crowd and an new future was revealed: Now the indirect approach arrow as designated as the main effort and the direct approach arrow was designated as the supporting effort. Wise heads nodded in agreement. This was a brilliant advance. All arrows still terminated on the threat ball.

After a quick google, here is what I describe:
http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/s...93-indirectly/


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