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Thread: Bahrain's Unrest

  1. #21
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    I'd like to see a map of the region that shows the percentages of Shiites living in the coastal areas of eastern Saudi Arabia, vis-a-vis the Sunnis. It would also be interesting to see the same thing about the other smaller Gulf nations.
    It doesn't show percentages, but it shows majority in various areas.

    http://gulf2000.columbia.edu/images/...ionCore_lg.jpg
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Shiites have long been an oppressed minority on the Arabian Peninsula; though a disproportionately large portion of the known oil deposits is drawn from their land. The northern Saudi oil, Bahrain are notable, and it looks like the oil producing part of Yemen as well.

    Knowing that the Brits had Iranian oil cornered when the US made a move on Arab oil; I would not be surprised if this influenced our perspectives as to who to throw our lot in with. To elevate Shiite leadership may have been seen as too likely to fall under Britiish influence.

    This is a division we could play to our advantage today, both to help stabilize and reduce the strategic significance of the Saudis; and also to open better lines of communication with the Iranians. Both of those are vital US interests.

    The Gulf States sending security forces understand this very well, and those leaders are acting far more to sustain their own status quo than they are to ensure there are no temporary disruptions of oil flow. Temporary they can live with; but the creation of 1-2 Shiite states on the AP? I suspect that makes them very nervous indeed.

    Next thing you know the Hashemites will re-exert their claim on leadership of the region...
    Robert C. Jones
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Shiites have long been an oppressed minority on the Arabian Peninsula; though a disproportionately large portion of the known oil deposits is drawn from their land. The northern Saudi oil, Bahrain are notable, and it looks like the oil producing part of Yemen as well.

    Knowing that the Brits had Iranian oil cornered when the US made a move on Arab oil; I would not be surprised if this influenced our perspectives as to who to throw our lot in with. To elevate Shiite leadership may have been seen as too likely to fall under Britiish influence.

    This is a division we could play to our advantage today, both to help stabilize and reduce the strategic significance of the Saudis; and also to open better lines of communication with the Iranians. Both of those are vital US interests.

    The Gulf States sending security forces understand this very well, and those leaders are acting far more to sustain their own status quo than they are to ensure there are no temporary disruptions of oil flow. Temporary they can live with; but the creation of 1-2 Shiite states on the AP? I suspect that makes them very nervous indeed.

    Next thing you know the Hashemites will re-exert their claim on leadership of the region...
    Are you expecting Obama/Clinton statements along the lines of: Obama Says Libyan Officials Could Be Held for War Crimes or do you think Saudi and the Gulf States have seen the US is all bark and no bite in these matters and are just ignoring the US?

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Are you expecting Obama/Clinton statements along the lines of: Obama Says Libyan Officials Could Be Held for War Crimes or do you think Saudi and the Gulf States have seen the US is all bark and no bite in these matters and are just ignoring the US?
    I think we lack the moral convictions to stand consistently by our express principles as a nation. Sometimes hard interests demand that to be the case; but when one takes a principle-based approach I think they need to clearly communicate that they are taking a deviation from that path knowingly, and why.

    As I understand it, Bahrain used to be the entire Gulf Coast of the AP, like the right post of a capital H. The al Sauds were constrained to the highlands across the center, much like the crossbar of that H, where they tied into the Hashemites that ran along the Red Sea, completing the H. The Portuguese conquered Bahrain, and then in turn were run off by an insurgent movement that opened the door for Iran to extend its influence and Shia-ism into the Gulf Coast of the AP in the 1600s. At the end of the day, the Iranians are rolled back, leaving pockets of Shiite Arabs, the Hashemites are awarded the booby prize of Iraq and Jordan; and the al Sauds get the bulk of the AP.

    And here we are today. Our principles and our interest are in direct conflict in all of the Gulf states. Can a middle ground be struck? I doubt it. Can liberty be once again suppressed by these governments? For some period of time, certainly. Can it be denied indefinitely? No. This might not be the final push by the people, but that push is coming.

    This is a time for hard diplomacy rather than hard action. To sit and hope it all smooths out is a bit Polly Anneish. "Smart Power" could turn down the temperature of the GWOT several notches if we could convince these leaders that the best way to stay in power is to make smart, reasonable, moderate concessions to their people. To trend toward a parliamentary system with a more ceremonial role for the Royals seems logical to me; while granting greater justice in the judicial systems, and a greater voice in governance to the populace. This would also allow the Royals to get closer to Islam as most want, while allowing the government to become a bit more secular. Creating a bit of an artificial separation that Muslims seem quite happy with, but that baffles Westerners (such as going to a western country and partying like a rock star, then returning to pious Islam once back at home with no sense of sin or hypocrisy).

    Personally, I think we'll F this up.
    Robert C. Jones
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I think we lack the moral convictions to stand consistently by our express principles as a nation.
    That is the whole problem both for our foreign policy and our domestic policy. The law, the rules, don't matter anymore. Which ever party is in power will bend and twist them to suit their agenda. Keep doing that and soon there want be any laws or principles just a struggle for survivial....greed backed by force.
    Last edited by slapout9; 03-16-2011 at 04:31 PM. Reason: fix stuff

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    That is the whole problem both for our foreign policy and our domestic policy. The law, the rules, don't matter anymore. Which ever party is in power will bend and twist them to suit their agenda. Keep doing that and soon there want be any laws or principles just a struggle for survivial....greed backed by force.
    A return to the "wild West" we saw in the movies?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    A return to the "wild West" we saw in the movies?
    Yea, I call New World Disorder.


    Video of a some close range usage of non-lethal weapons in Bahrain. Don't think you are supossed to use them this way.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9W_-...ipcontrinter=1

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    As I understand it, Bahrain used to be the entire Gulf Coast of the AP, like the right post of a capital H.
    The al Khalifa dynasty has been ruling Bahrain since around 1776; they're Sunnis and the name has the same meaning as our word caliph. IIRC the British made it a protectorate in the 1840s following an anti-piracy campaign in the Persian Gulf. In essence the al Khalifas were allowed to rule the place domestically and let the British take care of foreign affairs. The British pulled out in about 1972 and we located our naval base in the old Royal Navy station there.

    One Bahraini who worked for our Navy said many Bahraini residents have had their families in the country for two or three generations but they are not given complete citizenship rights because they're Shiites with roots in Iran. One of the sources of Shiite resentment are the many guest workers there, people from Pakistan, India and the Philippines who are seen as taking "their" jobs away. This is all off the top of my head and I'm sure the CIA's online page on the country has more precise information.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I think we lack the moral convictions to stand consistently by our express principles as a nation. Sometimes hard interests demand that to be the case; but when one takes a principle-based approach I think they need to clearly communicate that they are taking a deviation from that path knowingly, and why.
    Our principles as a nation apply to us. There is nothing in those principles that requires or recommends their export to or imposition on others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    As I understand it, Bahrain used to be the entire Gulf Coast of the AP, like the right post of a capital H. The al Sauds were constrained to the highlands across the center, much like the crossbar of that H, where they tied into the Hashemites that ran along the Red Sea, completing the H. The Portuguese conquered Bahrain, and then in turn were run off by an insurgent movement that opened the door for Iran to extend its influence and Shia-ism into the Gulf Coast of the AP in the 1600s. At the end of the day, the Iranians are rolled back, leaving pockets of Shiite Arabs, the Hashemites are awarded the booby prize of Iraq and Jordan; and the al Sauds get the bulk of the AP.
    There are lots of ways it "used to be". As with most of that region, the islands now called "Bahrain" have been conquered by and incorporated into a rather wide variety of entities over the centuries. There was never any static "the way it used to be" that was disrupted by the colonial age.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    And here we are today. Our principles and our interest are in direct conflict in all of the Gulf states. Can a middle ground be struck? I doubt it. Can liberty be once again suppressed by these governments? For some period of time, certainly. Can it be denied indefinitely? No. This might not be the final push by the people, but that push is coming.
    There is no conflict between principles and interests, because there is nothing in our principles that requires us to demand that other nations live up to our principles. Our principles are our principles. We need to live by them. That doesn't mean we can or should impose them elsewhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    This is a time for hard diplomacy rather than hard action. To sit and hope it all smooths out is a bit Polly Anneish. "Smart Power" could turn down the temperature of the GWOT several notches if we could convince these leaders that the best way to stay in power is to make smart, reasonable, moderate concessions to their people.
    We can't convince these leaders of anything, as we just saw in Bahrain. We recommended concessions and reform. Our recommendations were rejected. Not much we can do about it.

    Back in the Cold War we got used to assuming that any despot who was nominally on our side was sponsored by us, sustained by us, accountable to us, and could be directed by us. That's no longer the case. We're not dealing here with Somozas or Marcoses. These guys don't care what we think, we have no leverage over them, and they will do what they please no matter what we say or want.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    To trend toward a parliamentary system with a more ceremonial role for the Royals seems logical to me; while granting greater justice in the judicial systems, and a greater voice in governance to the populace.
    Seems logical to me too, but nobody in these countries gives a damn what you or I think, or what America wants. We don't have the influence that many think we do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    This would also allow the Royals to get closer to Islam as most want
    I don't think you should be telling us what "most want", because you don't know. As with most places in the world, people in these countries want lots of different things, many of them conflicted and contradictory: all over the Arabian Peninsula the same people who speak in romantic terms of glorious traditional Islamic asceticism are wallowing in as much western-style material consumption as they can... so how do we judge what they "want"? By what they say or what they do?

    Most often, when people talk in simplistic terms about "what the populace wants" they are simply imposing constructs compatible with their own assumptions. It's never quite as simple as that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Personally, I think we'll F this up.
    We can neither fix it up nor F it up, because we haven't the influence to do either. The governments involved and the populaces involved will sort out their own accommodations in their own way and we will cope with the process and the outcome as best we can.

    We are neither the cause of nor the solution to these problems. We didn't break it and we can't fix it. They will sort it out their own way, and we will cope. it's not about us. It affects us, but we are not in control of it.

  10. #30
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    That is the whole problem both for our foreign policy and our domestic policy. The law, the rules, don't matter anymore.
    When did they ever matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Which ever party is in power will bend and twist them to suit their agenda.
    And when has that not been the case?

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Our principles as a nation apply to us. There is nothing in those principles that requires or recommends their export to or imposition on others...

    ...We are neither the cause of nor the solution to these problems. We didn't break it and we can't fix it. They will sort it out their own way, and we will cope. it's not about us. It affects us, but we are not in control of it. (emphasis added / kw)
    All in between was correct but those two are really important...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I think we lack the moral convictions to stand consistently by our express principles as a nation.
    Yes indeed... and it is the same thing we try to teach kids when we tell them that at times it takes moral courage to stand up against the flow and do what is right.

    In the adult world it is much the same but we also have the "everything is negotiable" and "we must just go with the flow" crowd who are quite prepared to sell their mother on the nearest street corner - and be able to rationalise it and justify it and explain it away without any remorse.

    It takes a certain kind of courage to make a stand on principle (IMHO a higher level of courage than mere physical courage) and that is why we find so few politicians able to step up to the plate.

    In the case of Libya the French and the British have taken a half step forward while the US dithers - not saying yes or no but just a big maybe and the Germans kiss the Bear's ass. It doesn't come more pathetic than this.

    The Libyan opposition are asking "where is NATO", "where is the West" and instead of telling them "we are not coming" the message is that "we are thinking about it so do try to die well in the meantime".

    If we don't have the balls to stand up for the western democratic principles we supposedly hold so dear then at least try to summon up the courage to admit it.

    Personally, I think we'll F this up.
    That sadly is a certainty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    All in between was correct but those two are really important...
    Ken, that is absolute nonsense and I think you know it.

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    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    A slight digression -- when I did the contract work in Bahrain in the '90s many military and civilian employees of the Army organization I worked for thought my interest in the country was a thorough waste of time. To them an Army medical logistics job was a job, be it in Abilene, Texas, Landstuhl, Germany, Soeul, Korea, or somewhere in Antarctica. Maybe I wasn't cut out to be a medical supply weenie after all, where it's all document registers, DoD Form 2765, requisition status codes, fund cites, MIPRs and all that other miserable stuff. I thought when you conduct operations overseas you should scout out the lay of the land and learn a bit about the place. I still think so, but supply weenies are what they are and we need a certain few of them to keep the institution running.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Yes indeed... and it is the same thing we try to teach kids when we tell them that at times it takes moral courage to stand up against the flow and do what is right.
    What exactly would you want us to "do" in Bahrain?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    In the case of Libya the French and the British have taken a half step forward while the US dithers - not saying yes or no but just a big maybe and the Germans kiss the Bear's ass. It doesn't come more pathetic than this.
    The US is overcommitted elsewhere and is not in a position to take on another bite, especially where no direct US interest is involved. Those other commitments may or may not have been wise, but they exist and while they exist they are major constraints on new action.

    If there is going to be action in Libya somebody else will have to lead it. The US may be able to help but it is neither practical nor reasonable to expect the US to solve everybody else's problems, everywhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The Libyan opposition are asking "where is NATO", "where is the West" and instead of telling them "we are not coming" the message is that "we are thinking about it so do try to die well in the meantime".
    Did anyone ever promise them that they'd be bailed out if they bit off more than they could chew?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    If we don't have the balls to stand up for the western democratic principles we supposedly hold so dear then at least try to summon up the courage to admit it.
    Our principles apply to us. We are supposed to preserve them in our own countries. There is nothing in those principles that requires or advises us to export or impose those principles elsewhere.

    This is about Bahrain; there's another thread for Libya... so I'll repeat the simple question:

    What exactly would you want us to "do" in Bahrain?

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Knowing that the Brits had Iranian oil cornered when the US made a move on Arab oil; I would not be surprised if this influenced our perspectives as to who to throw our lot in with. To elevate Shiite leadership may have been seen as too likely to fall under Britiish influence.
    The US dealt with those who were in power at that place and that time. No need to read any more into it than that. If the Sauds hadn't been willing to deal we might have tried to set up a Shi'a state and broken off the valuable chunk of the Peninsula under a regime that we could control, but there wasn't any need for that... and I somehow suspect that in the long run such actions wouldn't have worked out terribly well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    This is a division we could play to our advantage today, both to help stabilize and reduce the strategic significance of the Saudis; and also to open better lines of communication with the Iranians. Both of those are vital US interests.
    That kind of manipulation and interference in the affairs of others is completely uncalled for and would probably be disastrous. The most likely outcome that I can project would be a complete mess and lasting loathing from Shi'a and Sunni, Saudi and Iranian.

    What ever happened to minding our own business?

    Same question I asked JMA: what exactly would you want to see us do about Bahrain?

  17. #37
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Actually, it's not

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Ken, that is absolute nonsense and I think you know it.
    It's a great deal of sense that is counter to the nonsensical delusion of those that would have the US flitting about the globe fixing things others screw up. We have puttered around with that, generally not done it very well -- there are a few exceptions -- and all it gets us is folks like you carping about not doing it your way.

    Most of the carpers do not understand the US, how it works and that Americans almost all left somewhere else because they didn't want to be there and didn't want to live by the rules of their former nation. Then they find that many of their nominally educated elite want to copy the mores and attitudes of other nations. All our attitudes and processes predicated on those of other nations are generally flawed -- they do not mesh with the psyches of those who left those other places for something different. So we are now copying the mores and attitudes of Europe -- just as Europe is undergoing major changes and casting those social democratic ideas aside as they discovered what they though they wanted to do was unaffordable.

    That's the point of this rant. Unaffordable. You advocate a lot of muscular US involvement in petty machinations here and there. Easy to do from your armchair with no responsibility for the execution or the funding of those neat little adventures. We've done numerous interventions for most of my adult life -- and we could not afford to do it the way we did it. We took a marginally trained force and, too often, sent it to a job that was not possible for that force structure. That we did as well as we did is a tribute to the Troops who went and gave it a shot.

    That they were sent to do things they should not have been sent to do -- in the form and manner they were sent -- is a lick on the Politicians who sent them and the senior officers who allowed it to happen. There are a lot of factors that contributed to all that and there's plenty of blame for many people and entities but any way you look at it, the force was too often sent to do really dumb and generally unnecessary things. Most of the carpers are unaware of details in those interventions, they just cue in on the big items and the after glow which buries most of the foulups.

    All that cost money. Aside from wasted lives and general stupidity, it was terribly expensive. So we now have an affordability problem of massive proportions. Quite simply, we cannot afford to go gallivanting around the world fixing stupidity -- we have enough of our own in any event...

    That's the point of the aside on America's fetish with copying Europe in a better late than never mode. We may come from the European hearth but we are not European and trying to copy them has put us in the fix we are in. So we're now trying to do more dumb stuff -- dumb stuff we can't afford -- that's why we need to stop trying to play Mr. Fixit. At least until we get our own act together...

    No, those two statements are not nonsense. The nonsense comes from those who do not understand all they know about what they advocate and believe that every minor eruption or festering sore must be fixed and Uncle Sugar must do it.

    I'll just repeat Dayuhan's comments as some may have misread or misunderstood them:

    ""Our principles as a nation apply to us. There is nothing in those principles that requires or recommends their export to or imposition on others...

    ...We are neither the cause of nor the solution to these problems. We didn't break it and we can't fix it. They will sort it out their own way, and we will cope. it's not about us. It affects us, but we are not in control of it. (emphasis added / kw)"
    "

    Your stated objections to our interference in Rhodesia back in the day are supported by that first item. We were exporting and attempting to impose our principles some place they weren't appropriate and we really had no business doing that. So you objected then -- properly so IMO -- but now you think it would be good if we exported...

    The second item isn't totally correct, we did in fact cause some of those problems by our previous muddled and poor attempts to export and impose (as you have pointed out elsewhere and I have agreed). So that meddling is part of the reason we need to back off the meddling. However, the rest is pretty well correct -- we did not really break most things into pieces (Iraq is another story...) -- but we certainly cannot fix other nations. We can help, but not to the extent that we have over the past 60 years. We literally have broken our own bank; FDR deliberately drove Britain to bankruptcy, the last few US Presidents have stupidly driven their own nation to bankruptcy. And you advocate we continue running around trying to export and impose. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to bankrupt us or something...

    Sorry, that is just not smart. We really need to quit that.

    I acknowledge that we could do more and better but it will really require a significant rethink (and political will I'm not sure is available) and retooling if it is to be effective and truly accomplish some good things.

    So, to properly do the things you and the other idealists want, we need to reorient the force, buy different equipment sets, significantly improve our training, completely re-do our personnel policies and find some testicular fortitude in the political and military leadership here plus get some money without borrowing it...

    I suspect the only thing you can contribute to that is advice in the training arena which I'm sure will be very freely given. Well and perhaps some money. You can just hit this LINK.

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    Default He had it right

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post

    Our principles apply to us. We are supposed to preserve them in our own countries. There is nothing in those principles that requires or advises us to export or impose those principles elsewhere.
    America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. - John Quincy Adams

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default No kidding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Our principles as a nation apply to us. There is nothing in those principles that requires or recommends their export to or imposition on others..
    That is what I said. That is what I always have said. Hold ourselves to our own express principles.

    When interests demand that we bend those principles, as interests will often do, be upfront and say "Due to these vital interests we will deviate slightly from our stated path for some period of time."

    No one cares when the minister goes down to the corner bar for a couple of drinks and a smoke. They care when he spends Saturday night doing that, while spending Sunday morning condemning the congregation to hell for doing the same thing.

    Which brings us to the second crazy interpretation you made when I discussed US interests and US principles being in conflict. You say:

    "There is no conflict between principles and interests, because there is nothing in our principles that requires us to demand that other nations live up to our principles. Our principles are our principles. We need to live by them. That doesn't mean we can or should impose them elsewhere."

    I'm not even sure where you got that from, other than your reflexive urge to argue with anything I post. The US has express principles that we say we stand for. The US has express interests that we say we will exert ourselves to promote. Many of those interests are in the Middle East in general, and in places such as Bahrain in particular.

    In the past we have promoted our interests by focusing on the stability that comes from sustaining specific governments in power. It made sense at the time. How they governed was their business. No matter how dissatisfied their populaces might be there was little consequence, other than the occasional moral judge ment, for such arrangements.

    Now to the conflict of interest. How they govern is still their business. The US still has interests in the region. What has changed, creating the conflict, is that in today's globalized environment, with empowered populaces and non-state actors there are consequences for such stability achieved through such support.

    So now, I submit, the terms of the contract have changed. If these governments want US support to sustain them in power they are going to have to deal with some invasive new terms. They had been fooling themselves that their situation has not changed. They had internal challenges before, they have internal challenges now. They know full well how to keep a populaces on it's knees, and do not need our help in that regard. But now the same tools of information and transportation that brought nationalist discontent in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia to the shores of the US is now bringing open revolt in Tunisia to other other Arab lands as well. The Genie is out of the bottle. So, again, the terms of the contract have changed.

    This does not mean the imposition of US principles or values on anyone. It does mean, however, that it is in the best interest currently for all the parties involved for these governments to finally make some concessions on HUMAN principles, as shaped by their own distinct culture, religion and situations. The people of Egypt are not fighting for US principles. They people of Libya are not fighting for US principles. The people of Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia are not fighting for US principles. They are fighting for human principles as shaped by their respective situations.

    The only US principle in play, and the one we have the greatest conflict with, is our express commitment that these people, and people everywhere, have a god given right to fight for such things. If we help these governments suppress their people in this desire, then there will be consequences paid in increased acts of terrorism for our actions.

    Which brings us to my recommendation that now is the time for hard, smart diplomacy. To renegotiate the contracts of our relationships with these governments based upon new and emerging conditions; and to do so in a manner that is as consistent with our stated principles as possible.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 03-17-2011 at 11:24 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)

  20. #40
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Not to interrupt. But...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    That is what I said. That is what I always have said. Hold ourselves to our own express principles..."There is no conflict between principles and interests, because there is nothing in our principles that requires us to demand that other nations live up to our principles. Our principles are our principles. We need to live by them. That doesn't mean we can or should impose them elsewhere."...

    I'm not even sure where you got that from, other than your reflexive urge to argue with anything I post.
    That may be what he does but I don't think so, I think he's pointing out apparent but probably unintentional dichotomies.

    Without regurgitating all the arguments pro and con, it appears to me that you often produce a perhaps unintentional conflict by saying 'we should not impose a governmental model' and OTOH you quite often -- perhaps too often -- insist 'our model is superb' and cite historical examples.

    You may not be saying directly that they should -- sometimes even 'must' -- 'do as we do' but IMO, you quite often posit a very strong implication to that effect and it can be a bit disconcerting.

    The frequent comment that we should not intervene or dictate methodologies is often overridden by comments like this:
    Which brings us to my recommendation that now is the time for hard, smart diplomacy. To renegotiate the contracts of our relationships with these governments based upon new and emerging conditions; and to do so in a manner that is as consistent with our stated principles as possible.
    The implication there IMO is that we need to be forceful, adhere to our principles and adapt to current events. Agreed. however, the way that's worded can offer a very strong 'do it our way' quotient in those negotiations; the "as possible" seems to get lost there at the end as it was sort of cancelled out by the preceding "hard, smart..."

    Pardon the intrusion. Pray continue...

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