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Thread: Is Globalization the Answer or Culprit?

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    Default Is Globalization the Answer or Culprit?

    This could go in the Tunisia thread, but is a little broader than that, so I've placed it here.

    An interesting piece on the implications of Tunisia in the struggle over the identity of Islam by Thomas P.M. Barnett over at World Politics Review.

    For those not familiar with his books, Dr. Barnett's theory is that globalization's connectivity reduces conflict. Conflict tends to originate in the periphery where states are not connected or do not have adequate rules.

    In this case, he posits that adherence to religion and making a buck don't have to conflict, and that folks in the Middle East and Africa want to be connected to the global economy more than they want to be a part of Al-Qaeda's world. The gist is that capitalism can beat fundamentalism just like it beat communism- economically, with democracy (politics) coming later. Once people are worried about buying a nicer TV/car/cell phone, they tend to worry less about hating their neighbors... you could argue that Iraq shows a positive correlation here as well.

    While I'm inclined to agree with him, I think this line of reasoning also opens up another question- is it possible that a systemic shock (like the Great Depression or another state vs. state war) could discredit globalization so thoroughly that the majority of people would actually reject it? Could the current Chinese bubble popping lead to that large of consequences?

    Unlikely I know, although there are precedents... Several earlier periods of globalization fell by the wayside for similar reasons, although the fact that we're back where we are seems to indicate that there's something to the phenomenon.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    V/R,

    Cliff

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    To quote the article:
    But recent events in Tunisia and Algeria remind us that the vast bulk of history's revolutions are fueled by economics, not politics. In this, the struggle for Islam's soul is no different than that of any other civilization in this age of globalization's rapid expansion...
    Rubbish. I cannot take that seriously.

    I find Globalisation is an imprecise term of almost no actual utility.
    Additionally I submit it has little or no relevance to conflict.
    Wars are caused by Politics. Globalisation is irrelevant.

    Basically, when people say "Globalisation" they are strongly indicating they are confused by things they see, but do not understand. Everything people state as being or as being a product of "Globalisation" has a better and more useful explanation else where.
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Cliff,

    Elsewhere on SWC I have posted links to work on this theme, notably by Paul Rogers and Mary Kaldor, see this thread's opening post:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=12224

    I do think that rushing to explain what happened in Tunisia as proving theory 'Global' is a mistake, plus media reporting on a "tidal wave" of protest sweeping through North Africa and beyond.

    History in Africa notably has ample evidence of global interconnections leading to grim times, so I see no reason why PRC should be exempt - although I do not foresee the IMF and others arriving with a stabilisation programme.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-26-2011 at 09:25 AM. Reason: Add link
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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I think about this a great deal. Frankly, there is very little evidence that "revolutions are caused by economics." For every situation you find a populace in poor or declining economic situations, far more are politically stable than unstable. It's like arguing that poverty causes spousal abuse or alcoholism. Some things are "equal opportunity" for rich and poor alike, and these dynamics that are rooted in human nature and group dynamics fit with in that category.

    As Wilf says, insurgency is politics. He's absolutely right on that score. So we'll agree on those first two mile markers as we head down this path. 1. insurgency is not about economics (though certainly once the conditions of insurgency exist, economics come into play); and that insurgency is politics (Note, this means that political upheaval that is created by individuals seeking power or money with their small gang; such as drug cartels in Mexico, range wars between ranchers in the old American West, and perhaps even Diamond gangs in Sierra Leone are not true "insurgencies."

    Our trails begin to diverge, and ahead is the fork in the road of "war" vs "civil emergency." Our doctrine tells us it is war, and our doctrines on war tells us war is politics. This is the majority path taken in looking at insurgencies. This is where I diverge. I could make a case for either one, but historically when one looks at situations where insurgency is approached as war and warfare is waged against the insurgent (often by an external power conducting counter guerrilla operations) it tends to ignore the root political causes and focus on re-establishing the status quo while suppressing the challengers. That model has proven to be temporarily effective many times and places. It is the base model captured in US COIN doctrine derived from the European Colonial experience, shaped during our own colonial experience (to which we added TTPS learned in defeating the native American populaces); and then colored again by our post WWII and post Cold War intervention experiences. All approached as war, with the goal of sustaining in power some government that is committed to supporting our interests in a particular region/populace deemed critical to US national interests.

    I see insurgency as simply "illegal politics" that sometimes rise to very war-like levels of violence. I also believe that degree of violence is not an effective way to categorize such activities, but that one does a better job when they do it by the nature and relationship of the parties, and the basis of causation for the conflict (be it violent or non-violent).

    Now to "Globalization" and does it help or hurt. Short answer is "YES, it does both"

    Consider how the development of Roman roads facilitated the rise of Romes ability to subdue and manage an unprecedented empire; and similarly how such roads facilitated the rise of effective challengers from those subdued populaces that ultimately brought Rome down.

    Consider how the development of the printing press facilitated the rise of the populaces of Western Europe to break the strangle hold of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic Church and their monopoly on education and religion.

    Consider how British laid a vast network of telegraph wires and employed a steam powered navy and commercial fleet to expand and control an empire that rivaled Rome; and how populaces within those suppressed and divergent locations employed the same world-shrinking tools to encourage and sustain a ever expanding resistance that ultimately made sustaining such an empire cost-prohibitive, rolling back the overt controls to allow greater self-determination and legitimacy of government locally and a far less controlling role by Britain.

    Now consider the American experience. Exerting our own brand of controlling influence across the globe on the backs of our own tremendous naval and commercial fleets; first in the name of "containing" existential threats of Soviet expansion into Europe; then evolving to a much broader and looser containment of the ideology of communism that was being embraced by so many post-colonial countries to facilitate their continued march to independence. Then there is the Middle East, a critical Cold War "battlefield" of resources, sea lanes, and choke points that had to be denied to the Soviets at any costs, and the governmental relationships that were nurtured and then protected against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to secure.

    Then the Cold War ends and so does our express rationale for much of this engagement. Control measures are visibly rolled back in the West and Far East; but in the Middle East the Status Quo endured. The governments weren't complaining there (who complains about being insanely rich and powerful?), and the populace there has no voice (conversely poor and powerless), so their cries were muted. But along comes the information tools of "globalization." They lit the fuse that allowed the Eastern European populaces to free themselves from Soviet dominion. They also enabled bin Laden to turn AQ into a UW headquarters that could employ networked operations to extend a global reach without the benefit (or vulnerable burden) of a state to operate from. Like with the British experience before us, formerly isolated and disconnected populace groups rallied off of each others experiences to find courage and encouragement to stand up and resist illegitimate governments at home. It also empowered AQ's ability to recruit across a broad base of supportive populaces to converge energy against the West in an effort to break our support to these governments they were seeking to challenge at home. No more a "global insurgency" than the Cold War was; but rather a set of nationalist insurgencies with a common religion and common opponent that are leveraged by AQ as the UW hub to support their own political agenda as well.

    So, yes, globalization is an important aspect of the current upheavals of Sunni Muslim populaces. Just as it was for the suppressed populaces of every previous empire as well.

    But if you go down the "warpath" you begin to lose objectivity. If you don't look at history, you lose perspective. If you can't look at your own actions and contributions to the political conditions that are being challenged through illegal politics, you lose your empire...
    Last edited by Bob's World; 01-25-2011 at 12:31 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    Default Good to see you again Cliff

    On the subject of insurgency and its causes: Ted Robert Gurr, back in 1970, published what is still the best explanation in Why Men Revolt. In its essence, Gurr's argument was that revolutions take place when after a period of economic growth there is a sudden and sharp decline and the perception of the populace (or significant members thereof) that this is the fault of the venal and unjust government. He calls this "perceived relative deprivation." As a political scientist, I agree that this is politics, but economics is both relavant and the trigger mechanism expolited for political purposes.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    John,

    You just described the United States. But though we have all of these "classic symptoms" there is no real danger of insurgency. I would offer that Gurr's position is sound, but that if he would have dug a little deeper he would have gotten closer to the true roots of causation.

    As we discussed, you bundle the four primary causal factors that I look to under the single umbrella of "Legitimacy." That is one of those words that carries far too many meanings, I think it is critical to break it down into four more focused bundles when assessing insurgency:

    Legitimacy: The populace must recognize the right of the government to govern.

    Justice: The populace must perceive that the rule of law as applied to them is just.

    Respect: No significant segment of the society can perceive that they are excluded from participation in governance and opportunity as a matter of status.

    Hope: The populace must perceive that they have a trusted, effective and legal means of changing governance, when they believe such change to be necessary.

    When these conditions exist and hope is absent, conditions of insurgency will grow. Certainly economic hardship adds fuel to this mix, but it is a mix rooted in domestic policies and politics assesssed through the eyes of "the populace" (which is never a monolith). At point all it takes is a spark. Some internal or external leader armed with an effective ideology; or some event (as in Tunisia). Whether it then goes violent or non-violent is a choice of tactics, with little bearing on the nature of the problem.

    Hope is codified and preserved in our Constitution. This is the role of a Constitution. Any constitution that creates such hope in a populace is the kind of effective COIN tool our founding fathers intended and designed our own constitution to be.

    Cheers!

    Bob
    Last edited by Bob's World; 01-25-2011 at 02:53 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "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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    Bob,

    Let me add to John's comment with some thoughts on the progress of revolution from The Anatomy of Revolution by Crane Brinton:

    financial breakdown, [to] organization of the discontented to remedy this breakdown ... revolutionary demands on the part of these organized discontented, demands which if granted would mean the virtual abdication of those governing, attempted use of force by the government, its failure, and the attainment of power by the revolutionists. These revolutionists have hitherto been acting as an organized and nearly unanimous group, but with the attainment of power it is clear that they are not united. The group which dominates these first stages we call the moderates .... power passes by violent ... methods from Right to Left.
    Brinton's book was used in the class I took as a companion to Gurr. (As an aside, and it's been a long time since I read it, as I recall Gurr does dig pretty deep and addresses the issues you raise.)
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-26-2011 at 09:23 AM. Reason: Quote marks replace indent
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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    On the subject of insurgency and its causes: Ted Robert Gurr, back in 1970, published what is still the best explanation in Why Men Revolt. In its essence, Gurr's argument was that revolutions take place when after a period of economic growth there is a sudden and sharp decline and the perception of the populace (or significant members thereof) that this is the fault of the venal and unjust government. He calls this "perceived relative deprivation." As a political scientist, I agree that this is politics, but economics is both relavant and the trigger mechanism expolited for political purposes.

    Cheers

    JohnT
    Ding....Ding....Ding we have a winner IMO. Watch Egypt!!!! and then the world. People are getting fed up with welfare for the rich and suffering for the rest.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Legitimacy: If you win, you are legitimate. Power creates support.

    Justice: Rule of Law. When you control the population, you say what is legal and what is not. All Governments exercise legitimate power via the rule of law.

    Respect: If you have a monopoly on lethal force, you get respect, because folks fear you.

    Hope: Deny the enemy hope and they'll give up!

    Saddam Hussein was the Legitimate ruler of Iraq. The Taliban were the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan. The people who thought otherwise were their political opponents. Legitimacy and legality are an entirely political and thus subjective construct.

    Anyone want to say that the regime in Saudi Arabia is not legitimate or legal?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    Default You are dead wrong on this one Wilf. Dangerously so.

    Wilf, you confuse "official" with "legitimate."

    A strongman can deem himself to be "official;"

    A puppet can be deemed "official" by some strong external power;

    But only a governed populace can bestow "legitimacy" upon their government.

    Vast sweeps of the populace of Saddam's Iraq did not recognize his legitimacy, they only feared his offical power. Same is true in Saudi Arabia today, and that number is growing as the gulf between the people and the Royals continues to expand and pleas of the people for change are not merely ignored, but attacked.

    Do indeed look at Egypt as Slap suggests, but if one cannot see past the poverty to the factors of governance that I lay out, then all one is going to see is the surface issues. The people have always been poor in Egypt, even when the kingdom was rich. But as I recall, Pharaohs placed and sustained in power by Greek and Roman armies were far more susceptible to popular uprisings. They were inherently illegitimate in the eyes of the populace.

    When Egypt explodes it will not be because the people are poor or because many are Muslim. It will be because they do not recognize the right of Mubarak to govern. By his own selfish actions he has robbed his office of legitimacy. It will be because many feel that they are excluded from full participation in economic and governmental opportunity as a matter of status. It will be because many feel that the rule of law as applied to them is unjust. It will be because hope has been removed from the political process there.

    It will not be because they are poor.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 01-25-2011 at 04:24 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Catching up

    Paul Rogers on Tunisia and the world, presenting a viewpoint that meshes in with the thread:http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-ro...ots-of-turmoil
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Wilf, you confuse "official" with "legitimate."

    A strongman can deem himself to be "official;"

    A puppet can be deemed "official" by some strong external power;

    But only a governed populace can bestow "legitimacy" upon their government.
    Legitimacy is a political opinion. Hitler died democratically elected by 19 million Germans. Saddam was supported by a vast sector of his population, so were the Taliban.

    What you see as legitimate is the political opinion of who you are, and would therefore carry no weight or relevance on the majority of the worlds surface. Your concept of legitimacy is merely a US political idea.

    ...and if the US President tells you to assist in crushing an armed-rebellion, against a pro-US Regime, you'll do it.
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    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Is Globalization the Answer or Culprit?
    Must it be one or the other? Or a little of both, a little of neither, and a lot in between.

    Connectivity and interdependence among states certainly reduces the threat of state-on-state violence. On the other hand, economic and social change often generates friction and violence, both within and among states. These dynamics play out at the same time with varying effects.

    I don't see "globalization" (as Wilf says, a very general term) as something that we chose to start and can choose to reject. It simply is; we have to learn to manage it but the genie ain't going back in the bottle. Likely to be rough at some parts and smooth at others, but the question is not "to globalize or not to globalize". That's already decided. The question is how to maximize the advantages and neutralize the disadvantages.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Why use the word "globalization" at all? It is neither an accurate or useful description. It has no set definition and means many mostly useless things to many mostly no so reflective people who don't tend to hold such ideas to rigour.

    I agree it "is," but again, so what?
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    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Globalization is like steroids. Now one can argue if the use of steroids in baseball favors pitchers or hitters more, but they're still playing baseball.

    Same with insurgency and terrorism. The game is faster, some players are stronger or recover more quickly, but the game itself has not changed. Governments are about status quo and insurgents are about change, so I suspect this favors the party seeking change.

    Wilf: I completely understand your position, and it is a reasonable one. It just isn't very helpful (in fact, it is quite harmful) for understanding insurgency. If one sees war as war and insurgency as a form of war, then seeing the de jure legitimacy of officialness as the only kind that matters makes sense. But such thinking is, IMO, a hindrance to resolving insurgency on terms that are acceptable for both the populace and the government.

    I recommend that one should:
    1. Separates insurgency from warfare (which I realize you won't do, not trying to convince you, just stating my perspective);

    2. Recognize that causation radiates out from the "official" government and falls upon a diverse populace, many of whom may well question the "legitimacy" of said government;

    3. Understand that "control" of the populace is not a security operation to be waged against them, but rather describes the general state of a populace that is satisfied with its form and nature of governance;

    4. Realize that COIN is really the day to day efforts of the HN government to create or preserve perceptions of their legitimacy among the populace, and thereby establish a state of control; and

    5. Appreciate that the efforts of an external intervening power that comes to the assistance of a government faced with insurgency with a focus of establishing security through defeat of the insurgent is neither conducting COIN nor helping the HN conduct COIN. In fact, such operations serve primarily to enable the HN to avoid conducting COIN and sustain a state of forced, illegitimate officialness.

    This approach in point 5 was the model throughout the age of colonialism, and it is a model that largely survives and dominates our COIN doctrine today. It's not COIN at all though, and it probably is actually closer to being warfare as we currently implement it. We believe that if we sustain the current government, defeat the insurgent and establish security we have "won." The only group that "wins" in that situation is the puppet regime we have propped up through our intervention. Certainly the populace as a whole does not win, and when members of that populace are recruited by AQ to wage terrorist attacks against the homeland of the intervening party, it is that populace that suffers as well. The steroids of globalization enhance that last part.

    So I remain convinced that it is time to retire the Colonial Intervention (COIN) playbook for foreign interventions. Just as Steam travel and telegraph technology facilitated both the rise and fall of the British Empire; so too has the latest generations of information and transportation technologies facilitated the rise and potential fall of the American age of control as well.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 01-26-2011 at 12:33 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    So I remain convinced that it is time to retire the Colonial Intervention (COIN) playbook for foreign interventions. Just as Steam travel and telegraph technology facilitated both the rise and fall of the British Empire; so too has the latest generations of information and transportation technologies facilitated the rise and potential fall of the American age.
    I remain convinced that it's time to retire foreign interventions, except where absolutely necessary... and in those cases the intervention should be at the lowest possible level and the shortest possible duration, and multilateral where possible. Occupying territory, changing regimes, installing governments, telling others how they should be governed, meddling in the internal affairs of other nations... these are problems, not solutions.

    The British needed an empire to prosper. We do not.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Ahh, but empire-like controls help corporations to prosper. Prosperous corporations have powerful lobbies, as do the governments that prosper from these same corporations.

    Capital may well be a coward, but it loves a good dictatorship.

    But I agree that we do not need an empire to prosper, and in fact, our nation as a whole is far more secure and prosperous if we retire such approaches and simply get out there and compete.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "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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    An important thing to note when using the concept of globalisation (indeed a bit of a confused concept) is not something that happened overnight or in the last twenty years, the concept of "globalisation" as in the greater interconnectivity between geographical and/or cultural areas in fields of communication, (political) ideas, connection between economical markets..etc (not necessarily a fixed definition) can be regarded as something that continuously occured troughout history.

    You can see this on a local scale in the middle ages, where previously isolated rural markets were connected through among other things improvement in transport capablilities and allowed for specialisation and the formation of cities and later industrialisation. You can see this in the colonialisation and later in the imperialism by certain states, and then back to decolonization.

    This way i dont find much revolutionary ideas in the "new" concept of globalisation, the economic markets were already connected and the ideas were already spreading. In other words the steamship was way more important then the internet might ever be.

    Also the presence of an globally connected free-market economy doesnt necessarily mean an increase in the economical prosperity or peace, it could mean poverty for the people and one of the causes cited for the start of world war 1 is the imperialism of European countries (lenin even said that imperialism was the highest form of capitalism and that it was to blame for world war 1)

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Wilf: I completely understand your position, and it is a reasonable one. It just isn't very helpful (in fact, it is quite harmful) for understanding insurgency.
    Bob, I'm not confused as to how to defeat a rebellion. I understand how its done. I am just staggered at the line of thinking that prevents others seeing it. For example, why do you keep saying "Insurgency" instead of "armed rebellion."

    I recommend that one should:
    1. Separates insurgency from warfare (which I realize you won't do, not trying to convince you, just stating my perspective);
    An insurgency is an armed rebellion. Warfare is the conduct of war. Rebellion requires warfare. How is it useful to engage in separation?
    2. Recognize that causation radiates out from the "official" government and falls upon a diverse populace, many of whom may well question the "legitimacy" of said government;
    Politics is the cause of all war. Not governments.
    3. Understand that "control" of the populace is not a security operation to be waged against them, but rather describes the general state of a populace that is satisfied with its form and nature of governance;
    Power is control. The populaces acquiescence just alters to degree of control needed.
    4. Realize that COIN is really the day to day efforts of the HN government to create or preserve perceptions of their legitimacy among the populace, and thereby establish a state of control;
    When you defeat an armed rebellion, you do so by re-imposing control via the rule of law.

    So I remain convinced that it is time to retire the Colonial Intervention (COIN) playbook for foreign interventions. Just as Steam travel and telegraph technology facilitated both the rise and fall of the British Empire; so too has the latest generations of information and transportation technologies facilitated the rise and potential fall of the American age of control as well.
    So basically you are saying that technology drives politics? I can't agree with that.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    So basically you are saying that technology drives politics? I can't agree with that.
    I don't think he's saying that at all, Wilf. I think you may be over-simplifying what he's saying to make your own point, though.

    Technology often acts as an accelerator or enabling device for political moves or trends. This can be traced throughout recorded history, with examples ranging from the development of better navigation techniques and rigging enabling the Portuguese and later Spanish imperial drives to improved rail transport networks and their impact on US western expansion (to toss out just two examples...there are many more out there). As certain things became either possible or easier, the political ambitions of governments can often accelerate. Technology can also shape the directions such ambitions and expansions take.
    "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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