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Thread: The Other Side of the Mountain

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default The Other Side of the Mountain

    I have been doing some research on tribal governments, particularly early big man systems, and their similarity to comments made by Mujaheddin leaders in "The Other Side of the Mountain" by A. Jalali and Lester W. Grau. In particular, the need to provide spoils to their followers in exchange for continued service and to maintain prestige. I am curious if other similar stories exist either from the Afghan conflict or from other conflicts.

    I understand the obvious connection with criminal enterprises (subsets of the major social system) but I am looking more for incidences where larger societies or the entire cultural systems were in play.

    Thanks
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I am curious if other similar stories exist either from the Afghan conflict or from other conflicts.
    Lawrence of Arabia's 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' references the patronage between commander and fighters amongst the Arab forces he worked amongst. That may be worth a look.
    '...the gods of war are capricious, and boldness often brings better results than reason would predict.'
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    In particular, the need to provide spoils to their followers in exchange for continued service and to maintain prestige. I am curious if other similar stories exist either from the Afghan conflict or from other conflicts.
    A bit farther afield, but you might want to look at the Tausug in the southern Philippines, a group that's often been involved in insurgency and general disorder. The description fits like a glove... it fits also in other conflict zones in the area, but the Tausug would probably be the group to start with.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Pointer?

    Try the campaigns in the Sahara, historically by the French -v- the Tuaregs and contemporary incidents (partly reflected in the Mali thread).

    Starting point:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuareg

    Steve Blair may e along, but surely the native American conflicts will have example and be recorded in English (I fear the Tuareg material will be in French).
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    This is a basic principle of SF engagement. Always work through and empower the local (legitimate) leadership at the populace level, and also bring in the official (though often sadly lacking in legitimacy) government that you are trying to support work through them as well as you bring these two governing structures together in the eyes of the populace through your engagement.

    Too often well intended external players come in and provide development or medical support, or relief aid in a way that disempowers these local leaders, insulting or embarrassing them at best, undermining their legitimacy at worst. Or they bypass the very official government that is already struggling to earn the legitimacy of its populace, often reinforcing in the eyes of the people that their government cannot do for them basic things that others can. (Many of the MERCY operations fall in this category. Charity is great, but it is not great COIN/FID; and may actually fuel the causation of insurgency when done inartfully, regardless of pure intentions).

    I saw this over and over again in my 4 years in PACOM as conventional forces executed security force assistance operations in a manner designed to build the glory of the US and their service over building the prestige and legitimacy of the people and governments they were trying to help. I saw it in Afghanistan as well.

    The SF principles I describe above are what is really at the root of the village stability operations, though everyone wants to focus on the security forces that we develop first to allow this reinforcing of governance to happen. Working everything from the selection of the security force members to the nature of development and the distribution of jobs and aid through the local governance (village, tribal and religious); and then, sometimes almost literally, dragging members of the official government out of the safety of the district centers and introducing them to their populace, and enabling them to extend official governance to the governance that is legitimate, while at the same time extending legitimacy up to the government that is official.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 08-18-2010 at 11:09 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    Default Real words of wisdom!

    Kudos, Bob! Whether SF, conventional forces conducting SFA, or civilians working development assistance, that is the only way to be successful. We have recorded those lessons since, at least, the 1950s, but except for SF, a few elements of USAID, and some NGOs we have never internalized them.

    Cheers

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    This is a basic principle of SF engagement. Always work through and empower the local (legitimate) leadership at the populace level, and also bring in the official (though often sadly lacking in legitimacy) government that you are trying to support work through them as well as you bring these two governing structures together in the eyes of the populace through your engagement.
    Bob, thanks for explanation. I have come to dislike the word "legitimacy". I believe that in many village situations legitimacy equates directly to results. Results in feeding the people, providing basic services, and keeping the peace. Not in the "legitimate" or externally recognized ability of a government to use force to impose its authority.

    Having sat in on some PACOM Theater Security Cooperation Group meetings, I understand what you are talking about. I used to think the program was a great idea, particularly as a Phase 0 operation. As an engineer I still think it can be as long as we take a much more subdued roll (get rid of the plaques on the buildings and not be present for the ribbon cutting) and use it more to make personal connections that are fostered over time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The SF principles I describe above are what is really at the root of the village stability operations, though everyone wants to focus on the security forces that we develop first to allow this reinforcing of governance to happen. Working everything from the selection of the security force members to the nature of development and the distribution of jobs and aid through the local governance (village, tribal and religious); and then, sometimes almost literally, dragging members of the official government out of the safety of the district centers and introducing them to their populace, and enabling them to extend official governance to the governance that is legitimate, while at the same time extending legitimacy up to the government that is official.
    I am going to make an assumption that the government officials tend to be urban people not used to rural village existence or familiar with their lifestyle. I am also going to assume that the villagers see them as outsiders. If these assumptions are correct, is the "dragging" them out to the villages effective? Does the visit need to coincide with some "gift" to the village. Do they meet with just the local leader(s) or with the all the principles of the village (I am assuming these to be adult males)? Is this choice a matter of specifics of the village and their economic/value system?

    I may be trying to categorize something that is too complex for simple solutions -- the value systems of the people and how it affect their decisions, especially those decisions as to whom to support where an insurgency exists. There is always the "outsider" element that an external force supporting another government has to deal with but I believe it can be overcome when working in small numbers and, more importantly, working within the parameters of locals value system (which may be significantly different than the value system of the legitimate government, which might be part of the problem). If this sounds like a "duh!" to you I am sorry, I am slow and my momma dresses me funny.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    A bit farther afield, but you might want to look at the Tausug in the southern Philippines, a group that's often been involved in insurgency and general disorder. The description fits like a glove... it fits also in other conflict zones in the area, but the Tausug would probably be the group to start with.
    Thanks,

    I had some old stuff on them. Interesting group because they have a history of chiefdom (sultanate).
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Try the campaigns in the Sahara, historically by the French -v- the Tuaregs and contemporary incidents (partly reflected in the Mali thread).

    Starting point:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuareg

    Steve Blair may e along, but surely the native American conflicts will have example and be recorded in English (I fear the Tuareg material will be in French).
    Spoils within the context of Native American conflicts is a tricky subject due in no small part to the great differences that often existed at the basic cultural level between many of the Plains Tribes. In some cases spoils did play a role, and indirectly they certainly did when it came to treaty negotiations (the "presents" provided by the U.S. negotiators usually played a major role in obtaining signatures). It was more common for it to come down to leaders jockeying for position by offering the opportunity for spoils (raiding parties and the like) rather that actually distributing the spoils themselves.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default a question of terminology

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Spoils within the context of Native American conflicts is a tricky subject due in no small part to the great differences that often existed at the basic cultural level between many of the Plains Tribes. In some cases spoils did play a role, and indirectly they certainly did when it came to treaty negotiations (the "presents" provided by the U.S. negotiators usually played a major role in obtaining signatures). It was more common for it to come down to leaders jockeying for position by offering the opportunity for spoils (raiding parties and the like) rather that actually distributing the spoils themselves.
    This leads to a separate question. I see the word "tribal" bantered around quite a bit but are the terms "big man" or "chiefdom" ever used? I ask this because they are significantly different systems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    This leads to a separate question. I see the word "tribal" bantered around quite a bit but are the terms "big man" or "chiefdom" ever used? I ask this because they are significantly different systems.
    "Tribal" (like "insurgency") is a pretty loose word and people use it with a lot of different meanings. I think it would be fair to say that some, though by no means all, tribal societies display "big man" or "chief" systems. Certainly these structures are not characteristic of tribal societies.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I had some old stuff on them. Interesting group because they have a history of chiefdom (sultanate).
    I'd describe the Tausug (casually) as a "little big man" system. The basic armed units are small groups, rarely more than a few dozen, loosely under the control of a leader who is expected to provide for the followers. Bigger big men may accumulate several (sometimes many) such groups, but loyalties are often fragmented and both individuals and groups are likely to move wherever opportunity is greatest. This creates what have been called "minimal alliance networks", in which alliances shift constantly and money, not ideology, drives group structures. The same groups may simultaneously be involved with transnational jihadists, secessionist insurgents, national military forces, organized crime gangs, and local officials loyal only to their own interests... all of whom are simultaneously involved with all the others. It gets messy.

    Thomas Kiefer has some very good work on the Tausug.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    This is a basic principle of SF engagement. Always work through and empower the local (legitimate) leadership at the populace level, and also bring in the official (though often sadly lacking in legitimacy) government that you are trying to support work through them as well as you bring these two governing structures together in the eyes of the populace through your engagement.
    Isn't it dangerous to speak of "the populace" when so many problems trace back to conflict among various portions of a populace with radically different - sometimes mutually exclusive - concepts of legitimacy and acceptable governance?

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    Dayuhan - Obviously no nation's populace is a single entity. While some are more complex than others, all have distinct segments by region, by class, by ethnicity, by religion, by political orientation, hell, even by sexual orientation. No one disputes that.

    I believe the biggest obstacle to understanding insurgency (or perhaps the second, the belief that COIN is Warfare rather than a Civil Emergency may well be number one), is the belief that insurgency is caused by some disgruntled segment of the populace. Insurgency is not caused by the populace, it is caused by the government. What we focus on are the reactions of the populace to that causation.

    Dr. Kilcullen speaks of an "ecosystem"; I think one way to look at insurgency that may help appreciate the role of causation is to look at insurgency instead as a solar system. The Sun as the government, and all of the planets orbiting around it separately, yet together, as "the populace." Clearly in our own solar system the Earth perceives the effects of the sun far differently than Jupiter or Mars does. Same sun, different perceptions based on a variety of environmental factors. When the sun malfunctions, every planet feels the effects though, but the effects are perceived differently by each based on their unique perspectives.

    Ok, back to a Nation, lets say a complex and troubled one like the Philippines. If the government in Manila is the heart of this solar system, the "planets" of populace in Northern Luzon where I believe you live perceive its effects in certain ways; as do those in Southern Mindanao. Some find it to be "good" (Legitimate, Just, Respectful, Hopeful) others do not. The causation remains in the sun, but the reaction is in the planets, or the segments of the populace.

    To become overly focused on distractors such as ideology / radicalization is to take the position that an entire planet has a form of mental disorder that prevents them from thinking correctly. That it is some condescending BS there. As my wife has had to remind me on occasion when I think she is taking something the wrong way "don't tell me how I feel." We need to stop telling segments of the populace how they should feel about their governance. That belongs to them, as does (IAW U.S. principles in our own Declaration of Independence) the right and the duty to rise up in insurgency when they feel that the government's actions are despotic, or what I would call "poor governance."

    The key to COIN is not to run around from populace to populace, planet to planet if you will, trying to convince them through violence, bribes, development, security or governance that how they feel is wrong; rather we must attempt to understand how they feel, why they feel that way, and then go back to the sun, the government, the core of the problem and make our corrections there.

    Another problem with our COIN doctrine is that it is premised on success being rooted in sustaining the current government. Think about that. So the Sun increases its temperature in a way that changes perception on several planets by an 10 degrees. Is it cheaper to go around to each of those planets, convince them all that hot is great, and build AC systems for everyone, etc, etc; (incredibly expensive and doomed to fail); or to simply figure out why the heat went up 10 degrees at the source, and fix that? Good COIN should be rooted in understanding the perceptions of the populace, then in fixing the source of the problem in the government.

    So, when we go out to villages around Kandahar to conduct Village Stability Operations, we do not go there to "fix" those villages or with the assumption that they have a mental illness that prevents them from thinking clearly. We go in as humble visitors with a deep respect for their customs, their culture, and their concerns. We sit down with their leaders, we talk to the man on the street, we play with their children, we share their meals, and even move into (upon their approval and invitation) one of their empty structures and share their same security and living situation. To quote Steven Covey, we "seek first to understand, then to be understood."

    We help organize, train and equip a local security force, that is now paid for and fully answerable to the official government back at the "sun"; but is selected by and answer first to the local governance that draws its legitimacy directly from the populace. We don't foist projects on them, but we look for opportunities to assist them with their concerns. All of this essentially makes us value-added, builds trust, but in no way resolves the insurgency, because again, the insurgent causation lies in the government.

    The key step is the connecting of the official government to the local governance and people; facilitating that dialog and enabling the growth of that relationship. Teaching government how to govern, rather than forcing /bribing populaces to accept poor governance.

    SF efforts are not designed to cure the larger insurgency. They are designed to address critical locations for immediate effects, and also to be a kind of governance school house to demonstrate to the government that they become more effective and security becomes more stable by changing themselves, rather than striking out to change how the people feel about them. A good solid supporting effort. Main effort must be in Kabul for true success. Just as I would argue, that the main effort in the Philippines should be in Manila, not in Mindanao. Fix the sun or get a new one. Don't run around trying to fix all of the planets.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 08-19-2010 at 09:12 AM.
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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Bob,

    I agree with you on more levels than I care to admit but I think there are important distinctions in our political aims and the causes and potential cures of an insurgency.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I believe the biggest obstacle to understanding insurgency (or perhaps the second, the belief that COIN is Warfare rather than a Civil Emergency may well be number one), is the belief that insurgency is caused by some disgruntled segment of the populace. Insurgency is not caused by the populace, it is caused by the government. What we focus on are the reactions of the populace to that causation.
    I agree completely, but in Afghanistan we created the government. It is molded in our own image with limited consideration for the values of the population or their interpretation of what it means to govern or be governed. That was a policy choice. In places like the Philippines things may be different. There, helping the government learn why their population are disgruntled enough to take up arms against them is a different matter. There again, as a matter of policy, certain viable options, such as allowing a section of the country to secede, may simply be unavailable.

    This alone takes me to the edge of another rabbit hole I am trying to avoid -- As executors how far do we go to influence or educate policy makers? (There are a whole series of "what if" questions that follow this but I do not want to start down that road).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The key step is the connecting of the official government to the local governance and people; facilitating that dialog and enabling the growth of that relationship. Teaching government how to govern, rather than forcing /bribing populaces to accept poor governance.

    SF efforts are not designed to cure the larger insurgency. They are designed to address critical locations for immediate effects, and also to be a kind of governance school house to demonstrate to the government that they become more effective and security becomes more stable by changing themselves, rather than striking out to change how the people feel about them. A good solid supporting effort. Main effort must be in Kabul for true success. Just as I would argue, that the main effort in the Philippines should be in Manila, not in Mindanao. Fix the sun or get a new one. Don't run around trying to fix all of the planets.
    My interest is not in fixing the planets but in understanding them. It is also in understanding the gulf between what Kabul sees as government and what villagers see as government.

    So much more to say, but my day jobs calls...
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    This leads to a separate question. I see the word "tribal" bantered around quite a bit but are the terms "big man" or "chiefdom" ever used? I ask this because they are significantly different systems.
    Within the context of native American stuff, I haven't seen them used that much. Chiefdom is on occasion, but it varies depending on the context of the tribal organization in question. The Kiowa, for example, had a pretty developed political structure and you would see "peace" and "war" chiefs existing at the same time. The amount of pull or sway they had depended on how much council support they could garner. The Southern Cheyenne had to contend with a couple of strong warrior societies (as did the Kiowa), while most Sioux groups had warrior societies but they didn't tend to act as politically as the Southern Cheyenne did (the Dog Soldiers are the best-known example).

    The "big man" idea might be best applied (and even here it must be used with caution) to the Apache. Mangas Coloradas maintained his authority through force of personality and careful marriage alliances (along with successful raiding into Mexico), and that pattern was carried on by Cochise as well. There was no strong hereditary leadership structure within the Apache culture, so the "big man" was more common there than elsewhere.
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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Within the context of native American stuff, I haven't seen them used that much. Chiefdom is on occasion, but it varies depending on the context of the tribal organization in question. The Kiowa, for example, had a pretty developed political structure and you would see "peace" and "war" chiefs existing at the same time. The amount of pull or sway they had depended on how much council support they could garner. The Southern Cheyenne had to contend with a couple of strong warrior societies (as did the Kiowa), while most Sioux groups had warrior societies but they didn't tend to act as politically as the Southern Cheyenne did (the Dog Soldiers are the best-known example).

    The "big man" idea might be best applied (and even here it must be used with caution) to the Apache. Mangas Coloradas maintained his authority through force of personality and careful marriage alliances (along with successful raiding into Mexico), and that pattern was carried on by Cochise as well. There was no strong hereditary leadership structure within the Apache culture, so the "big man" was more common there than elsewhere.
    It is interesting because, from a political point of view, it would be easier to have a group of people who have lived under a chiefdom adapt to a central government than it would to have a group of people who have lived in a Big Man culture. The local chief acknowledges the authority of the central government (in exchange for whatever) and it is pretty much a done deal.

    However, in a Big Man system allegiance are based on spoils and not loyalty. Even where a person is a recognized Big Man there is no social requirement to follow him simply based on that position. If someone else offers a better deal, even if not a recognized Big Man, the average person could follow them.

    If you follow the adage "you can rent an Afghan but you cannot buy one" and previous Afghan commanders relied on spoils to maintain followers, then it MIGHT follow that the cultures idea of governance is closer to a Big Man system than a chiefdom. This would mean that Bobs comments about WHO is handing out the goodies becomes very important. You are not fostering the local or central government by having Soldiers or aid workers providing medical support or other services, you are splintering the community.

    These are just thoughts -- have not followed them through and have not done enough research to feel comfortable making the comparisons (I am waiting for Marc to trounce on my head). Just keep thinking that we cannot transplant governmental systems without the corresponding economic advantages and infrastructure. You can try to "teach" a value system but if it does not correspond with the day-to-day reality on the ground it will not be accepted. This has nothing to do with the question of whether we should be trying to teach it, only whether or not it is possible.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 08-19-2010 at 04:54 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    If you follow the adage "you can rent an Afghan but you cannot buy one" and previous Afghan commanders relied on spoils to maintain followers, then it MIGHT follow that the cultures idea of governance is closer to a Big Man system than a chiefdom. This would mean that Bobs comments about WHO is handing out the goodies becomes very important. You are not fostering the local or central government by having Soldiers or aid workers providing medical support or other services, you are splintering the community.
    While working in Kabul, I read a report from an OMLT describing problems as they tried to instill workable SOPs in their unit. The report gave the following example of dysfunctional systems:

    Whenever an Afghan soldier wanted fuel for any reason - to top off the tanks after a patrol, say - he needed a chit signed by the brigade commander. And this was no pro forma signoff; it usually involved an interview with the commander, often with the chain-of-command present, and an interrogation as to what use the fuel would be put to, admonitions against waste, etc.

    At first, the author of the report saw this as an example of horrible micromanagement, and tried to get the system changed - to replace it with Western-style decentralization with minimal centralized monitoring. But as he argued with the commander over this, he came to realize his Afghan counterpart was not micromanaging, he was using the fuel as patronage. The interview and admonishment were theater, intended to reinforce his dominant position over his subordinates, to remind them he was the source of their material wealth (fuel, pay, ammo, promotion, etc). The Afghan commander viewed the fuel as 'his'; it, and not the formal rank structure, gave him the right to exercise authority over his subordinates. Dispensing it reduced his power, as his subordinates were - temporarily at least - less dependent on his 'largesse' in order to function. These habits, the author believed, were holdovers from the days of the mujahideen, when a large arsenal attracted followers, and having a few Stinger missiles in hand boosted one's prestige.

    This little vignette helped me to understand why we were having so much trouble getting Afghan ministries to spend the considerable funds they were accumulating. Having money gave one leverage and influence; dispensing money reduced your leverage and influence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    It is interesting because, from a political point of view, it would be easier to have a group of people who have lived under a chiefdom adapt to a central government than it would to have a group of people who have lived in a Big Man culture. The local chief acknowledges the authority of the central government (in exchange for whatever) and it is pretty much a done deal.

    However, in a Big Man system allegiance are based on spoils and not loyalty. Even where a person is a recognized Big Man there is no social requirement to follow him simply based on that position. If someone else offers a better deal, even if not a recognized Big Man, the average person could follow them.

    <snip>

    Just keep thinking that we cannot transplant governmental systems without the corresponding economic advantages and infrastructure. You can try to "teach" a value system but if it does not correspond with the day-to-day reality on the ground it will not be accepted. This has nothing to do with the question of whether we should be trying to teach it, only whether or not it is possible.
    We faced similar problems on the Frontier, especially when many failed to realize that a chief within many tribal contexts wasn't a supreme leader of any sort. "First among equals" would be a better comparison, and even then there could be a number of "firsts" scattered about. The 1874 Red River War can be traced almost directly back to a clash of value systems and competing "firsts among equals" when it came to the Kiowa and the rise of a single influential leader (more of a chief than a big man, although the elements were mixed in the case of Isa Tai) within the Comanche tribal groups.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    At first, the author of the report saw this as an example of horrible micromanagement, and tried to get the system changed - to replace it with Western-style decentralization with minimal centralized monitoring. But as he argued with the commander over this, he came to realize his Afghan counterpart was not micromanaging, he was using the fuel as patronage. The interview and admonishment were theater, intended to reinforce his dominant position over his subordinates, to remind them he was the source of their material wealth (fuel, pay, ammo, promotion, etc). The Afghan commander viewed the fuel as 'his'; it, and not the formal rank structure, gave him the right to exercise authority over his subordinates. Dispensing it reduced his power, as his subordinates were - temporarily at least - less dependent on his 'largesse' in order to function. These habits, the author believed, were holdovers from the days of the mujahideen, when a large arsenal attracted followers, and having a few Stinger missiles in hand boosted one's prestige.

    This little vignette helped me to understand why we were having so much trouble getting Afghan ministries to spend the considerable funds they were accumulating. Having money gave one leverage and influence; dispensing money reduced your leverage and influence.
    I have seen similar problems in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe there was an article in a military publications about problems with logistical systems because releasing anything required signatures from everyone in the entire food chain. While this may seem like micromanagement to us it might seem perfectly reasonable in a patronage based system.

    The interesting thing is that, if it is a remnant of a Big Man mentality, it goes both up and down. None of the soldiers would feel any obligation to follow a leader "appointed" over them unless that leader provides them something. In most cases this would be pay, food, and a place to sleep, but how much would that really buy? It may not be the idea of loyalty or service that keeps them there. At least not loyalty to the commander by rank or position. If you get a better offer, you are gone.

    Of course it is also a valid point Bob makes that to find a society, especially a large on, all following a Big Man value system would be unlikely and probably impossible. Still, it might provide a different way of viewing the problem.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
    ---

  19. #19
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Hello everybody,

    First of all, I would like to recommend that book:
    The Criminalization of the State in Africa (African Issues)
    http://www.amazon.com/Criminalizatio.../dp/0852558120

    It’s a classic in political science on the problematic of governance and resources management in “modern” failed states. Even if it is based on Africa, this is very much relevant to your problematic.
    Basically it explains by the menue how several dictators were governing through ethnical retribution and black economy control. Then, please at all the work made since under kleptocracy. You will find a lot of similarities with what Eden discribes. And I believe several ref on what TheCurmudgeon is looking for.

    Secondly, , I would like to submit you this piece of work that I am working on since some times. Naturally, as I am an africanist, I place the problematic in Africa versus “West”. But I believe this does correspond to what some of you are facing in Astan or elsewhere. I tried to understand why such power/hierarchy social relations are established in the way Eden describes it.
    As it is a work under construction, please do feel free to critic.

    1. Protecting the people: modern societies and Security distribution

    In modern society or governance scheme, security is part of formal or informal social contract between leaders and populations. What shocked America on 9/11 was not the violence in it self, but the incapacity of the security services to provide protection. Even if that event created a strong support from civilian population to the troops, this did not erase the fear of the attack occurrence installed in all minds.
    As defined by Foucault, being alive is at the centre of politic and individual preoccupations in modern societies. While Aristotle defines mankind as a political animal; a living creature capable of a political existence; Foucault defines Modern Man as a living creature to whom his condition of living being is the centre of politic . "Power is now situated and exercised at the level of life. " (Paul Michel Foucault in Paul Rabinow, Nicola Rose; Throughts on the concept of biopower todays; 2003.)
    Life has then become the most important value of modern societies, the norm that society is engage in preserving, protecting. Life and the right to live have become the norm in modern societies. Liberal revolution, technology progress and humanitarism have extended this right to live into the right to live with dignity.
    Modern societies are then engaged in providing means for the individuals to live in an environment providing them to live in a secure and dignified environment. Life is no more defined by being alive but by having access to a range of services allowing individual to be healthy, economically integrated, preserved from violence, psychologically unaffected… In one word: to be secure. Governments have then the obligation to provide the means to secure life. Ecological catastrophe, crime, war, economical crisis… Are then seen as exceptional events from which the individuals have to be protected by the society. Security is no more limited to physical security but is seen as a holistic concept, including all aspects of individual's life; physical, economical, political, judiciary, psychological… Nations are then no more a governing body engaged in controlling individual to ensure a level of peace and stability granting the self preservation of the system. Peace and stability have become the norm and governments are engaged into securing the access of all the members of a Nation to those services. Administrating a Nation is then assuming the function of distributing Security. What can be qualified as passing from governance centered on enforcing the law (the Ancient Regime governance paradigm) to governance centered on enforcing the norm (the modern society governance paradigm) and propagating the benefits of the Liberal Revolution.
    In war and military action, this obligation of distributing Security is first declined into physical protection for the civilians. "Populations […] have to be protected "; "[…] the military always will have the main responsibility for establishing and maintaining public order, security […] ". (Gian P. Gentil; A Strategy of tactics: Population Centric COIN and the Army, Parameter Autumn 2009. Council on foreign relation; Independent Task Force; In the Wake of War: Improving U.S. Post Conflict Capabilities; July 2005.)
    Classically this passes through building national security force capacity to enforce law and provide basic physical security. But counter insurgency is based on nation building: building a State apparatus with capacities to deliver Security. Therefore it also includes delivering services such as education, health care or judicial system, to establish or re-establish government legitimacy with the aim to restore State sovereignty. Not to create ex nihilo a government but to make pass an existing government or a governing body (the host nation) from the 18th century governance paradigm, based on “law” enforcement (privileges in some cases), to the 21st century modern governance paradigm of Security distribution.

    2. Failed States and fragile societies: distributing Insecurity

    The Peace Keeping and Stabilization Operation Institute describe governance in "non-western world" as follow: "authority and legitimacy flow from indigenous sources grounded in religion, ethnicity, tribal or kinship affiliation, and/or territorial identity. In post-conflict countries where the effective reach of the formal state is often limited; where the formal state has been damaged or destroyed; or where the formal state behaves in a predatory manner; traditional sources of authority can provide an alternative to, or a refuge from, state incapacity or depredation. " (Derick W. Brinkerhoff, Ronald W. Johnson, Richard Hill; Guide to Rebuilding Governance in Stability Operation: A Role for the Military? ; Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute; June 2009.)
    But as points out the anthropologist Elikia M'Bokolo, the reduction of traditional mechanisms to "indigenous sources grounded in religion in religion, ethnicity, tribal or kinship affiliation, and/or territorial identity", despite being set in post conflict context, does not only "serve to claim their differences but also lower those societies at the lowest stage of human society" .
    What characterized failed States and fragile societies, here called non-western world, is the fact that individuals are all engaged into surviving. What really characterized failed States is not their incapacity to deliver basic social services but their capacity to preserve them selves despite total disruption of their basic functions. The State is no more engage into administrating a system based on a Weberian legitimacy, "a voluntary obedience to a leader, a tradition or legal code " (Max Weber; Law in economy and society), but into surviving. Exercising power becomes then not a responsibility which includes privileges compensated by obligations but a mean to survive. Ruling and administrating are then dedicated to personal survival of the rulers. Being in power becomes then the capacity to enjoy the "economy of death ". (Achile Mbembe; De la postcolonie. Essai sur l’imagination politique dans l’Afrique contemporaine; Karthala; 2000. English edition "On the Postcolony", 2001.)
    Even in traditional societies, rulers are bound to the people by a social contract including obligations to the people. In fragile societies, due to the necessity to survive, the failure of the State and the necessity to survive corrupt that social contract and the act of governing is no more compensated by obligations. In order to survive, individuals are engage in a system of exchange of services based on individual networks and interest. The law or the traditional legal code is no more the center of the governance but a tool used to exclude and limit survival capacity of others. The rational of governance is then reversed. As the Peace Keeping and Stabilization Institutes points out, "traditional authority structures and procedures are inherently exclusionary, given their ethnic, tribal, and/or religious foundation." While modern societies are engage in a process of Security distribution through the protection of each of its member's life, each fragile society's members are engage in a process of self preservation through a process of domination based on the capacity to harm (economically, physically, socially, psychologically…) life of other. Governance is then not seen as a mean to protect through Security distribution but as a mean to distribute Insecurity.

    Bob,

    I still have not reached the PhD/Flag officer level. But will die trying apparently.
    I like very much your Solar System analogy. Despite I think that it’s where we want to go and that actually what you face is an archipelago of small solar systems/planets which are fighting each others to become the sun. (I like archipelago analogy, do not ask why, I have no clue).

    M-A

  20. #20
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    M-A,

    Africa is a fascinating and troubled land, with many challenges. I believe firmly that bad systems produce bad results, and Africa has not been able to escape the vortex of borders and governance imposed upon them by others; nor the corrupting effects of the primary goal of virtually everyone who goes to Africa to extract some resource for their own profit elsewhere, with little inclination by outsider or insider alike to actually invest in Africa and her people alike.

    Labels like "failed state" are not particularly helpful, as most of these are nations with fractured populaces and cultures that were not developed under a Westphalian construct of governance, but rather had these foreign concepts imposed upon them. Bad systems. I would really like to see our State Department step back from the current insanity gripping our own government and stop forming departments focused on things like "Counterterrorism," "Counterinsurgency" and "Democracy"; and instead recast themselves as a "Foreign Office" with the majority department being focused on States; but with a "Non-State" office designed to work policy and diplomacy with the ever growing in number, size and purpose family of powerful organizations (legal and illegal) outside of the state construct. I don't need a State Department to do CT, that is a very limited tactical mission done very well domestically by the FBI, and overseas by the CIA and SOF. Similarly there (IMO) really is no such thing as foreign COIN, only Domestic COIN. As to democracy, I have to side with our founding fathers on that one. No foreign power has the standing to tell any other populace how to govern as each has the inalienable right to self determination. Democracy itself is a dangerous concept in its pure form and must be contained and controlled within carefully designed and enforced limitations, such as we imposed with our Constitution when the Confederation threatened to destroy our young nation with the chaos of raw democracy. A "Self Determination" Division would serve us well. Again, bad structures lead to bad results and we are getting bad results from our policy as they are shaped and implemented in structures designed for a world emerging out of WWII that no longer exists.

    Africa could probably profit from a lot less foreign charity and exploitation; and instead getting together to develop 3-4 EU-like structures committed to common security and economic development goals that do not eradicate the state structures, but rather that reconsolidates people with common heritages and shares resources more effectively. Not sure if they can get there but it seems to be the evolution of governance globally.

    Just looking at Western Civilization over the past 2200 years or so as the Romans expanded their influence we went from Tribal to City States / Feudal to Westphalian States, to confederations of sovereign states (American States under the Articles of Confederation; the EU) to broader structures of shared sovereignty (USA under the Constitution; perhaps a United States of Europe some day as they evolve?)

    I could see Africa growing in stability if they could work toward a similar path, where they could develop a few broad confederations that could someday evolve into large, powerful and stable nations, or something similar to that that makes sense in their cultures. One such structure could be a Caliphate. We should become the champion of such a concept, not the obstacle to.

    The world is evolving; and we need to be careful that we don't wake up one day and find that we are standing on the wrong side of history. Each of those changes in governance structures I described above was associated with old powers falling away and new powers emerging. Each was also associated with some significant change in information technology (Roman Roads, nautical navigation, printing press, steam and internal combustion power harnessed, electronic communications) that brought isolated groups together into more effective alliances.

    Too much of our efforts in Africa is just flailing at the symptoms of problems, rather than stepping back and taking a broader view.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 08-20-2010 at 10:38 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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