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Thread: Catch All OEF Philippines (till 2012)

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    Default Catch All OEF Philippines (till 2012)

    Smithsonian - Waging Peace in the Philippines by Eliza Griswold.

    "They'll slit your throat on Jolo," people told Col. Jim Linder, head of a U.S. military task force in the Philippines. He recalled the prediction as we buzzed toward Jolo Island in a helicopter. Linder, a 45-year-old South Carolina native who has the remnants of a Southern drawl, has led Special Forces operations in the Middle East, Central and South America, Eastern Europe and Africa for the past 20 years. His latest assignment is the remote 345-square-mile island at the southernmost edge of the vast Philippines archipelago. Jolo is a known haven for Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups, including Abu Sayyaf, or "Bearer of the Sword," which has used the island for 15 years to train terrorists and to coordinate attacks.

    Curiously, Jolo was also one of the first places where the United States ever battled Muslim insurgents. On March 7, 1906, less than a decade after the United States seized the Philippines in the Spanish-American War, the people of Jolo—known as Moros, after the Spanish for Moors—revolted, among other reasons because they feared that the American effort to enroll their children in schools was part of a plan to convert them to Christianity. The Moros, armed with little more than swords, launched an insurgency against U.S. troops.

    "They chased a bunch of Moros up that old volcano and killed them," Linder said to me, pointing out of the helicopter window. Below, the island rose into a series of steep volcanic ridges, each one glowing a lush green against the silvered surface of the Sulu Sea. In the Battle of the Clouds, as the confrontation on Jolo 100 years ago is called, U.S. forces killed 600 to 1,000 people. "It was commonly referred to as a massacre," Linder added quietly.

    Today, a crucial but little-known battle in the expanding war on terror is under way on Jolo Island. Designed to "wage peace," as Linder says, it's an innovative, decidedly nonviolent approach by which U.S. military personnel—working with aid agencies, private groups and Philippine armed forces—are trying to curtail terrorist recruitment by building roads and providing other services in impoverished rural communities. The effort, known to experts as "the Philippines model," draws on a "victory" on the Philippine island of Basilan, where U.S. forces in 2002 ended the dominance of Abu Sayyaf without firing so much as a single shot. "It's not about how many people we shoot in the face," Linder said. "It's about how many people we get off the battlefield."

    On Jolo, U.S. military engineers have dug wells and constructed roads that allow rural farmers for the first time to transport their produce to markets. This past June, the Mercy, a U.S. Navy hospital ship, visited Jolo and other islands to provide medical and dental care to 25,000 people, many of whom had never seen a doctor. American military medical and veterinary teams have held mobile clinics, where Special Forces, speaking native Tausug and Tagalog, gathered information from local residents as they consulted on agriculture and engineering projects. American soldiers are even distributing a comic book designed for ethnic Tausug teenage boys thought to be at risk of being recruited by Abu Sayyaf. The story, Barbangsa: Blood of the Honorable, tells of a fictional young sailor named Ameer who defeats pimply-faced terrorists threatening his Philippine homeland.

    The southern Philippines has long served as a "war laboratory," says Marites Vitug, author of Under the Crescent Moon and a leading authority on armed rebellion in the region. "All sorts of armed groups dominate a populace long neglected by government," she says. "Local rulers compete for legitimacy with armed rebel groups, bandits, Muslim preachers, Catholic volunteers, loggers legal and illegal, the Marines, the Army. In this sense, Abu Sayyaf was ripe for growth. Modern history has proved that whenever the legitimacy of a state suffers and the economy goes down, other forces come to the fore as an alternative."...
    Much more at the link...

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    This is fantastic. When I was part of OEF-P in 2002 we weren't allowed to even think about staging operations on Jolo.

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    Default The Islamic Insurgency in the Philippines Part 1

    The Islamic Insurgency in the Philippines Part 1 - The Belmont Club.

    The story of the Islamic insurgency in the Philippines is the story of the gradual and partial reversion of Philippine territory, originally incorporated by the American wars against the Moros in the early 20th century, to its former state. Prior to the US pacification campaign against the Moros between 1899 and 1913 the Sultanates of Sulu, Maguindanao and Buayan -- Muslim Mindanao -- were effectively independent from Spain. Although the Spaniards nominally claimed the entire extent of what is now called Palawan, Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, they did not exert effective control over it, and could not have bequeathed it to a successor Filipino state. It was the Americans who accomplished that...

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    ....there was also a decent piece on the Belmont Club back in November comparing Iraq and the Philippines.

    The potential for lessons learned seems to be bouncing through many minds lately, as there recently was a related discussion on INTELST, stirred up by an individual posting the old 'net e-mail about Pershing and pigs. However, I have to say that the old thread on SWC was far more substantive...

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    Default Southern Philippine Island Plays Out Drama in War on Terror

    22 February VOA - Southern Philippine Island Plays Out Drama in War on Terror by Douglas Bakshian. Posted in full per USG guidelines.

    Far from the headlines and the rest of the world a drama in the global war on terror is playing out on Jolo island in the southern Philippines. A Muslim guerrilla group called Abu Sayyaf is on the run from the Philippine military while U.S. water, road, and health projects are making life better for the people. But is it yet time to declare victory? Douglas Bakshian recently traveled to Jolo for a look at things.

    There is much talk these days in Philippine and U.S. military circles about winning the war on terror on Jolo island, and ending a long struggle against the Abu Sayyaf Islamic terrorist group.

    Years of fighting the guerrillas failed to produce peace. So the Philippine military, with the help of U.S. advisers, began addressing civilian needs - roads, schools, water systems and medical care.

    By alleviating some of the desperate poverty on Jolo, the military defused some of the anger and frustration that fuels violent movements.

    General Juancho Sabban, commander of the Philippines Marines who are in the forefront of the operation, says this is all about winning public support.

    "The secret of all these operations should be the people," he said. "If you win the people, you win the war."

    The Abu Sayyaf is one of several groups that over the past 30 years have fought to create a Muslim homeland in the southern Philippines, a predominately Christian country. The government has negotiated peace deals or ceasefires with the two dominant militant forces.

    Unlike other separatist groups, the Abu Sayyaf has become best known for a series of deadly bombings and brutal kidnappings and murders.

    Since 2002, American special forces have provided training, analysis and intelligence to the Philippine military in the fight against the Abu Sayyaf. U.S. Navy Commander James Marvin helps lead the joint task force for the operation. He says the goal is to build confidence in the people that the military is a good thing and to drive a wedge between the terrorists and the people.

    "Basically, you take the bullies that are on the playground and you get all the kids on the playground to stick up for themselves, and tell the bullies, 'we don't want you here anymore.' And they are no longer bullies, they cannot function in that capacity and they move," he said.

    At the same time, the Philippine military focused its combat effort on smaller patrols conducting intelligence-driven operations that target terrorist leaders. It also adopted guerrilla tactics to fight in the dense jungles of Jolo.

    As a result, in recent months, several Abu Sayyaf leaders have been killed, and their followers driven into the hills.

    But will this mixture of the missionary approach and the iron fist be enough to eradicate a problem that was decades in the making?

    General Sabban says he thinks the Abu Sayyaf leaders will fight to the death.

    Radullan Sahiron, in his 70's is the main senior leader left. Sahiron's son, Ismin, was killed in a clash with the military last year. But before he died the general spoke with him by cell phone.

    "And I was trying to convince him to come down and live a normal life, go back to the mainstream," he said. "But he said 'we have an ideology that we are fighting for. I'm sorry, we really want to establish an Islamic state.' And then I told him, 'How about your father?' He said, 'my father will die here in Patikul [a Jolo area], fighting. It's either you get out of Sulu, or my father dies here.'"

    Some political analysts say the Abu Sayyaf can be wiped out, but that is not enough to bring lasting peace to Jolo. Ramon Casiple, head of Manila's Institute of Political and Electoral Reforms, says the problems that fostered the group's rise must be addressed.

    "But if you are asking me if the factors that give rise to Abu Sayyaf have been eliminated, and therefore in the future will there be more Abu Sayyaf? I think these factors have not been eradicated even with all the civic action that has been done already," he said.

    Sulu province, which includes Jolo, is one of the poorest regions in the Philippines. It has suffered neglect by the central government and long-standing grievances have powered successive rebellions.

    It also has a rigid hierarchical social structure with a few wealthy families at the top and dozens of clans. Casiple says previous development programs in the region have failed because only certain families or groups benefited.

    "There are certain sections that have been getting wealthier from all the aid. But the farmer at the bottom level has not improved," he said. "That is the breeding ground of rebellion. I mean you can have a road, but if the family doesn't have a car or a vehicle to use it, it is nothing for them."

    For all this to be untangled after so many decades of neglect will require a lot of work, and a fundamental and sustained change in Jolo's economic, social and political structures. More importantly, analysts say, Manila must shift from a policy of neglect to a serious commitment to better the lives of all Jolo's people.

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    Default Melo Commission Report

    BBC, 22 Feb 07: Philippine Army Linked to Murders
    ...The commission's report came a day after a UN envoy accused the army of being in "denial" over the issue of extra-judicial killings.

    A rights group said 830 activists had been killed since President Gloria Arroyo came to power in 2001.

    Ms Arroyo said she would take the findings and allegations seriously....
    Here's the actual report:

    Independent Commission to Investigate Media and Activist Killings

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    Hi:

    What the Melo report indicates is that the Philippine military is still suffering from the consequences of having Marcos once as their commander in chief.

    Neither the NPA nor the Armed Forces of the Philippines holds the high moral ground in my country's COIN campaign.

    I condemn these alleged political murders. I also believe they are counterproductive.

    Nonetheless, the Philippine public is indifferent. There is no uproar right now.

    This is due to the fact perhaps that most victims have been identified with the Maoist left. No one among the victims was ever identified with other political groups--the middle forces included.

    The indifference could be interpreted as the NPA's being isolated politically.

    But if the COIN campaign in the Philippines is to be brought to a successful conclusion eventually--no matter how long this takes--steps must be taken to further speed up institutional reforms in the AFP.

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    Default MILF: Civil-Military Operations More Lethal

    I received the following via e-mail from the Philippines:

    From the MILF Secretariat Web site: MILF concern over CMO.

    Civil-military operations more lethal, MILF says
    Date: Monday, April 09 @ Malay Peninsula Standard Time
    Topic: News
    April 9, 2007

    The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has described the latest approach to the insurgency problem in Mindanao by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is civil-military operations, as more lethal than brute force. Khaled Musa, deputy chairman of the MILF Committee on Information, told Luwaran that this approach has a chilling effect on Moros fighting the government who are less in ideological armor, saying this was tested during the early years of the MNLF when practically everybody surrendered to the government, if the basis of counting is government statistics.

    He said it was mainly due to the policy of attraction pursued by the Americans that worked effectively against Moros who were up in arms.

    But he clarified that using this approach to hard core ideologues of revolutionary struggles would only scratch the surface of things.

    "Dedicated and rightly guided revolutionaries," he said, "do not expect material rewards for sacrificing everything dear to them."

    AFP chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the military would abandon Oplan Ultimatum and focus on civil-military operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao.

    "We are shifting to civil-military operations," Esperon said during an interview over ANC cable news television.

    More than 5,000 troops under Oplan Ultimatum have been pursuing the Abu Sayyaf since last year and it had its successes following the killing of its chieftain, Khadaffy Janjalani, and his deputy, Abu Solaiman, late last year.

    Esperon said the change in strategy was meant to address the problem of innocent civilians displaced by the encounters between government troops and the Abu Sayyaf.

    "There have been a lot of people who have been displaced and so we want to go into their areas and tell them that we... did not intentionally displace them. This was all part of the security operations that would benefit them anyway," he said.

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    Default Attacks on Civilians in the Philippines

    HRW, Jul 07: Lives Destroyed: Attacks on Civilians in the Philippines
    ....In all, bombings against civilians in the Philippines have caused over 1,700 casualties in the last seven years, more than the number of people killed and injured in bombing attacks during the same period in neighboring Indonesia (including the 2002 Bali bombings), and considerably more than the number of those killed and injured in bombings in Morocco, Spain, Turkey, or Britain. Moreover, in addition to bombings, extremist groups in the Philippines have carried out numerous kidnappings and targeted killings, including beheadings, and have extorted large amounts of money from Philippine civilians in ransom and extortion payments.

    Members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), based in the southern Philippines, have claimed responsibility for many of these crimes. ASG is a radical Islamist group whose members broke away in the 1990s from more established ethnic Moro insurgent groups (“Moro” is a Philippine term for Muslim). RSM, a group composed of converts to Islam, is closely tied to ASG. The two groups purportedly aim to push Christians out from Mindanao and the Sulu islands and “restore” Islamic rule over the Philippines.

    Both ASG and RSM maintain links with current or former members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the violent Indonesian Islamist group responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings. Philippine government officials also claim that elements of the longstanding Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have, over the last few years, provided sanctuary or assistance for ASG, RSM, and JI members.....
    Full 32 page report at the link.

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    Default Flashpoint: No Bungle in the Jungle

    Flashpoint: No Bungle in the Jungle - Peter Brookes, Armed Forces Journal

    Whether you agree with it or not, it's likely there will be some changes to the current size and shape of U.S. forces in Iraq over the next year. For reasons from the political to the practical, the current troop surge in Iraq isn't going to last forever.

    So, as the politicians and policymakers search for a future strategy in Iraq that would be amenable to the American people, Congress, the Pentagon and the White House, it makes sense to open the intellectual aperture pretty wide in the search for good ideas.

    In some corners of defense intelligentsia, the U.S.-backed effort in the southern Philippines against the al-Qaida-affiliated Abu Sayyaf group ("Bearer of the Sword") is being touted as the most successful counterterrorism campaign of the post-Sept. 11 period. Indeed, some are promoting Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines (OEF-P) as a model counterterrorism (CT) and counterinsurgency (COIN) operation. Although not everyone would agree with that characterization, it's worthwhile to take a look at OEF-P to see whether the strategy and policy might be applied to the ongoing challenges in Iraq — or elsewhere...

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    Hi:

    Yup.

    Many Filipinos are happy about this even if they do not take to the streets to march.

    Nonetheless, maybe it would be nice also if US policymakers were to craft an indirect program to rid a number of AFP officers and enlisted personnel of their Bonapartist tendencies. This bad habit they picked up during the latter part of the Marcos dictatorship.

    There is still the threat this progress shall not be sustainable. This if a number of AFP troopers shall think it is they who are the saviors of the Philippines.

    It is about time all learned to respect civilian supremacy even if the Philippine government does have warts.

    True, the country may have governance problems and this also includes the Philippine Army and the rest of the AFP.

    A coup d'etat however is no solution.

    Cheers and Mabuhay.

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    Default The Lesser and Greater Insurgencies of the Philippines

    The Long War Journal, 15 Oct 07:

    To Raise Them Up. Part 1: The Lesser and Greater Insurgencies of the Philippines
    B.A. Patty was recently embedded with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In part one of his three-part series, Patty examines the roles of organizations such as Abu Sayyaf and MNLF in the insurgency and what Filipino and US troops are doing to squelch terrorist activities.....

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    The Long War Journal, 17 Oct 07:

    To raise them up. Part 2: The role of the Philippines in the Long War
    B.A. Patty was recently embedded with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In part two of his three-part series, Patty examines the the Philippines' role in the Long War.

    Zamboanga, Philippines: Colonel David Maxwell is the commanding officer of the US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines. In a two-hour interview he spoke about counterinsurgency in the Philippines and the larger Long War.....

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    Default Part III

    The last part of that series is here:

    To raise them up. Part 3: Investing in people

    I'm a longtime reader of SWJ. If anyone wants to discuss the series, I'll be happy to do so.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-17-2008 at 01:59 PM. Reason: Fixed link.

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    Default on Mr. Patty's series

    Hi:

    Interesting.

    Comes now the issue. Marcos politicalized what was once a relatively professional Armed Forces of the Philippines.

    He also allowed--no, encouraged--AFP officers and men to help themselves to the public coffers--as long as they went along with his politics.

    For any long term results, the US will also have to help address these also.

    A good number of AFP officers still harbor Bonapartist tendencies. They will have to learn to respect civilian authority once more.

    At the same time, their grievances will have to be addressed.

    Incidentally, hazing at the Philippine Military Academy will have to be addressed. Much anecdotal evidence suggests that this hazing is what had made many of them torturers and perpetrators of human rights violations during Marcos' dicatatorship.

    This helped fuel the Maoist insurgency in the 1970s and 1980s.

    As one notorious torturer is reported to have said, and quoted in a book:

    "What I did to them (i.e. the torture she committed on political dissidents) was only what was done to me as a plebe in the PMA."

    Will the US help address this?

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    Default Addressing the AFP's internal problems

    I think the answer to your question, "Will the US help address this?" is "Yes, within the context of its overall strategic goals."

    The US strategy depends on maintaining at least, and increasing if possible, the GRP/AFP legitimacy in the eyes of the population. There are signs that is working, esp. in the case of Task Force Zamboanga (where the police and AFP work in teams, and therefore watch each other as well as cooperate). US advisors are always working to improve the professionalism of the AFP and police forces for that reason.

    That said, this is and has to be a GRP-led and GRP/AFP "out front" issue. The main thing the US can't do is visibly 'push' them in one direction or another. It has to be done through offering training that they're free to accept or reject. They are accepting it, but it is a gradual process.

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    Just ran acros this site & consequently this thread.

    Having been in & around this country for the past 30-years & a resident for the last 10-years, I just to comment on your article (Part 3 would not open by the way).

    First, the AFP has no desires whatsoever for the "War" to end in Mindanao,or for the NPA threat, to come to a conclusion. Why, you might ask? Simple... GREED. Dig deeper into the AFP/PNP brass & follow the money (USAID) & I would wager that you would be hard-pressed to find a poor retired officer...quite the contrast to the poverty that AFP/PNP enlisted live in.

    Secondly, I would challenge your assumptions that the PMA is compareable with West Point, or that there is a strong AFP NCO Corps...it is just simply false. You were obviously, as with all embedded journalist, shown what they wanted you to see.

    As for Mindanao...the majority of Filipinos (yes, they are considered seperate from the Bangsa Moros) could care less what happens to the Muslims in the South, or everywhere else in the PI. You must scratch the surface & discover the REAL Philippine culture in order to break down the psychological make-up of the Filipino psyche. They could care less about their country, as they are only concerned, in the following order, with Self, family, tribe (Ilocano, Bisaya, etc.). They only start shouting "Pinoy Ako" when it is in reference to some foreign perceived insult such as the "Desperate Housewives" slant. Yes, absurdly patriotic.

    What is the real underlying factor that keeps this country in terminal poverty? A deeply ingrained culture of CORRUPTION! As one Filipino General (Lim, I think) wrote: "The Filipino cannot help to be corrupt...it is in his blood." When Filipinos see Gloria sitting up in malacanang doing her best to make the Marcos' look like petty thieves, you soon hear them saying "If the the President can steal from the country, then why not me?"

    While the U.S.military is trying to regain some sort of foot-hold in the Southern Philippines, the DoS is blindly throwing the money at the problem, thus emboldening Philippine authorities to steal even more. All the while the Chinese must be laughing their ass off. They know how to play the game here in SE Asia. They will continue to "LOAN" the Philippines $Billions$, thus establishing a debt that the Philippines cannot even begin to pay back. This is how they will eventually regain control of the South China Sea (oil drilling rights, etc.) and continue to expand their influence over the area.

    On one final note: keep an eye out for a land deal for peace coming from Gloria. She is on record as saying that ARMM (Autonomus Region of Muslim Mindanao) will be given a very huge chunk of land as part of the Malaysian (Muslim) peace brokered deal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CalmSeas View Post
    Just ran acros this site & consequently this thread.

    Having been in & around this country for the past 30-years & a resident for the last 10-years, I just to comment on your article (Part 3 would not open by the way).
    Try now:

    To raise them up. Part 3: Investing in people
    http://www.longwarjournal.org/archiv...m_up_par_2.php

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    Quote Originally Posted by pinoyme View Post
    Hi:

    Yup.

    Many Filipinos are happy about this even if they do not take to the streets to march.

    Nonetheless, maybe it would be nice also if US policymakers were to craft an indirect program to rid a number of AFP officers and enlisted personnel of their Bonapartist tendencies. This bad habit they picked up during the latter part of the Marcos dictatorship.

    There is still the threat this progress shall not be sustainable. This if a number of AFP troopers shall think it is they who are the saviors of the Philippines.

    It is about time all learned to respect civilian supremacy even if the Philippine government does have warts.

    True, the country may have governance problems and this also includes the Philippine Army and the rest of the AFP.

    A coup d'etat however is no solution.

    Cheers and Mabuhay.
    Interesting. Espousing that the U.S. indirectly get rid of Philippine military members, or their tendencies.

    This is a common conflict of desired involvement that Filipinos voice. When the U.S. does get involved they are "Imperialist," but when they let Filipinos try & solve their own problems, they should do more.

    My take...a revolution will eventually be the ONLY way this country will rid itself of the Oligarchy that controls it. There is a website that list the controlling family of each town, city, province here (sorry, couldn't find it right now). It is amazing that this stuff is still prevelent here in 2007. Does anybody really think they will be giving up power voluntarilly anytime soon?

    As one local editorialist recently wrote, citing a popular saying during Marcos times..."There are 85 million cowards in the Philippines and One Bitch in charge." Until Filipinos get their heads out of the sand and take charge of their country they will continue to be slaves in their own country and will continue to get the same old corrupt, Do nothing, kleptocratic government that they deserve.

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    Default Understand your frustration, but...

    My take...a revolution will eventually be the ONLY way this country will rid itself of the Oligarchy that controls it.
    CalmSeas (I would hate to see rough seas if this is calm), I understand your frustration with the corruption in the Philippines (and other developing and non-developing nations), but when I think of revolutions I think of Castro, Mao, and Lenin who led revolutions to throw the bastards out, only to be replaced with much worse systems. The book answer is to ensure that the government enforces its anti-corruption laws, but of course we know that is a joke, the enforcer will not throw him/herself in prison.

    Transforming the government has always been the most challenging, and often unattainable, goal for COIN or peace enforcement missions, especially in places in the Philippines, most of Latin America, and all of Africa, where corruption is embedded in the culture. We can develop tactically and technically competent security forces, but as we all know this isn't enough.

    I'm sure there are a few discussion threads on this somewhere in SWJ, but without this government/cultural transformation any victory will only be transient in nature.

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