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Thread: The Arab Spring (a partial collection)

  1. #21
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    The more interesting question to me is: why do these changes happen at all? What is the connection between a growing economy and a changing value system that embraces both contract capitalism and democracy. Heck, not only embraces it but demands it. Fights and dies for it. This is not just new replacing the old; the better replacing the bad. In my mind there is a drive that is based in the human need for autonomy - a drive that is only activated once certain other needs are met. In places like Afghanistan, where we cannot even succeed in meeting basic needs, you will never activate the need for autonomy on a wholesale level. Survival will be the predominant need and survival needs produce a different set of values - values based in collective survival.
    I think you are on to something there! Please pontificate (big word for me) if you want to.

  2. #22
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Slap - Something to chew on

    Slap,

    Here is something I have been working on. I apologize for my inneptitude at inserting images.

    [IMG]C:\Documents and Settings\s.wiechnik\My Documents\My Pictures\Governance Chart - Small[/IMG]

    The three dimensions are economic capability on the left, nature of the source of legitimacy along the top, and category of value system along the bottom. Sources of legitimacy are based on either a centralized figure, like a king or dictator (essentially a client patron relationship); and decentralized meaning that the source of legitimacy is the population itself, as in a republican government. Along the bottom are the value systems: primarily communal or collective and individualistic or liberal. The result in the middle is the most probable stable government. Of course, where there is not consensus among the population on a value system or form of legitimacy you will have instability.

    One of the problems Westerners have created is the modern State - particularly since many state borders were arbitrarily established. Many parts of the world like the Middle East and Africa have borders that don't make sense when compared with the functioning political systems. We perpetuate this mistake in places like Iraq, which probably should be three separate states.

    Also we feel the need to replace any system that is not like ours. That is not the only way. South Africa still has many Chiefs. The state pays them but does not attempt to remove them. Many liberal minded people don't like this - yet South Africa is still considered a democracy. I think using traditional systems that still make sense where the economic and political conditions on the ground still support (demand) them is the best way to go. It is the only way to play the game if your goal is stability. We were wrong to try to replace a "warlord" system in Afghanistan with a central government when the economic conditions on the ground could not support it. The common joke is that Karzai is the mayor of Kabul and that is all he is. We would have been better off supporting the traditional loya jirga system that already existed, a form or fledgling republic. But, alas, our political objective is not always stability.

    Anyway, enjoy
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 03-06-2013 at 01:13 PM.
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  3. #23
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Curmudgy, that looks like a very powerful tool..............trying to print it off in a larger format and do some thinking on it. The organizing principle you use seems excellant!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    Slap,

    The three dimensions are economic capability on the left, nature of the source of legitimacy along the top, and category of value system along the bottom. Sources of legitimacy are based on either a centralized figure, like a king or dictator (essentially a client patron relationship); and decentralized meaning that the source of legitimacy is the population itself, as in a republican government. Along the bottom are the value systems: primarily communal or collective and individualistic or liberal. The result in the middle is the most probable stable government. Of course, where there is not consensus among the population on a value system or form of legitimacy you will have instability.

    One of the problems Westerners have created is the modern State - particularly since many state borders were arbitrarily established. Many parts of the world like the Middle East and Africa have borders that don't make sense when compared with the functioning political systems. We perpetuate this mistake in places like Iraq, which probably should be three separate states.

    Also we feel the need to replace any system that is not like ours. That is not the only way. South Africa still has many Chiefs. The state pays them but does not attempt to remove them. Many liberal minded people don't like this - yet South Africa is still considered a democracy. I think using traditional systems that still make sense where the economic and political conditions on the ground still support (demand) them is the best way to go. It is the only way to play the game if your goal is stability. We were wrong to try to replace a "warlord" system in Afghanistan with a central government when the economic conditions on the ground could not support it. The common joke is that Karzai is the mayor of Kabul and that is all he is. We would have been better off supporting the traditional loya jirga system that already existed, a form or fledgling republic. But, alas, our political objective is not always stability.

    Anyway, enjoy
    Assuming this model is correct, and while I'm generally critical of social models that claim one size fits all situations regardless of cultural differences, I have to admit that your hypothesis about the underlying economic changes needed to facilitate social (and then political) change tend to ring true based off my observations and studies.

    Assuming it is true, then it seems to me that our COIN doctrine is deeply flawed because we fail to recognize this evolution from economic, to social, and then to political change. In fact we attempt to reverse this evolution by first imposing political change (installing a democratic government), then attempting to build the economy, and then hope the social change follows.

    That doesn't seem like a recipe for success to me.

    If your model is generally correct and my critic of our COIN doctrine is generally correct, then what is the right the end for our military involvement and how do we achieve it?
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 03-07-2013 at 07:35 AM.

  5. #25
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default You know it is not going to be short when it starts with "The short answer is ..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Assuming this model is correct, and while I'm generally critical of social models that claim one size fits all situations regardless of cultural differences, I have to admit that your hypothesis about the underlying economic changes needed to facilitate social (and then political) change tend to ring true based off my observations and studies.

    Assuming it is true, then it seems to me that our COIN doctrine is deeply flawed because we fail to recognize this evolution from economic, to social, and then to political change. In fact we attempt to reverse this evolution by first imposing political change (installing a democratic government), then attempting to build the economy, and then hope the social change follows.

    That doesn't seem like a recipe for success to me.

    If your model is generally correct and my critic of our COIN doctrine is generally correct, then what is the right the end for our military involvement and how do we achieve it?
    The short answer is, I don't know.

    The model was designed to explain why things were not going as I thought they should in Afghanistan. I was a firm believer in the liberal COIN model. After about five years I have come to this.

    You are completely accurate in that my model says that economic changes facilitate social changes that result in political changes. This is a general pattern based on human needs and therefore should be applicable despite cultural differences. That is not to say that cultural differences don't matter. When there is a stable agricultural economy with some trading AND there is a communal value system the model predicts that any one of several communal systems can be stable - anything from a theocracy to a monarchy - even communism can work. The model is built on the idea of political legitimacy being associated with societal values. But, on occasion, legitimacy can be built on personality - Weber's Charisma - which throws a wild card into the mix. I can only guess at the probability of stability, I cannot guarantee it.

    The model is more helpful in predicting instability based on a mismatch of economic and social factors than it is on saying which side will win out. For example, under that same scenario (stable agriculture with some trading but limited manufacturing and a communal value system) both a monarchy and a communist system could be stable. In a fight between the two the model is generally silent on which one will win out. It cannot predict which one of two monarchs are likely to win under the same conditions if there is an internal power struggle between factions. Likewise, in a separatist situation where both sides have the same economic and social conditions it is just as unhelpful. What it can do is predict that the odds of installing a functional democracy in a society that is barely living above subsistence level with strong collectivist (tribal) values is next to nil.

    As for our current doctrine, you are also completely accurate when you say it has things backwards. This is its fatal flaw. Further, the FM 5-34 also only allows for one form of legitimacy, one built on individualistic values. That won't work in a collectivist society. You have to build a network of client/patron relationships. You have to support what westerners see as corruption and human rights violations. A difficult sell politically. Arreguin-Toft's model of strong/weak state and direct/indirect conflict is accurate in that the only way to suppress a weak state counterinsurgency is through barbarism. I would argue that this is not because the state is weak, it is because the weak state tend to have a different value system. The same economic conditions that make them weak predict that they have communal values that respond better to a show of brute strength than a helping hand. That said, I do not believe you have to resort to barbarism to keep order, but I don't know what mix of tactics best supports stability and does not run afoul of Western societal sentiments.

    It is really not the economic conditions that matter, although that has been the best proxy I can come up with. It is more quality of life which would include things like security in all its forms (food, peace and stability, the belief in a better future, that my children will live to adulthood, that I will not be killed or have my property taken from me, and a job that pays my bills and then some). That is the catalyst that causes the people to transition from worrying about security to caring about autonomy and ultimately demanding more freedoms. As long as you keep the people scared and hungry (Ala North Korea) they will embrace dictatorship. So, if we are promoting democracy, we need to promote economic security and then wait, perhaps a generation or two, for the society to change. We must also realize that by doing this we are going to create instability. We have to learn to help control that instability and assist the society in it's transition. We can't do it for them.

    Back to the question, I really don't know how much help this theory, which I shall dub my theory of conditional values, can be to COIN strategy.

    I would add one comment. It is clear that this is a social, not a military, theory. That does not mean the Army is off the hook. Do to the conditions in regions where there is instability the Army is probably the only element that can function in that environment. We are the Land Forces Combatant Commander - which I translate into the Army being the occupying authority. We don't like that. We prefer big tank fights. But big tank fights are probably not in our future. The world is going to vacillate between communal and individualistic values for some time to come. I believe that we had better figure out how to manage the instability that is part and parcel to those transitions.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 03-07-2013 at 02:14 PM.
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  6. #26
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default Ramblings And A Questions?

    Marx believed all real change was based upon economics, part of his idea of of Creative Destruction which was a great deal different than Schumpeter's. It is also part of the reason he believed so much in focusing on Economic Targets as opposed to others, which seems to have been lost when he is talked about in the modern senses.

    Now for the question. The model appears to be a way to analyze a country before you invade or commit to military action was that your intention? Proper understanding of the country/problem you are dealing with before jumping to a solution?

  7. #27
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Not really, but Yes

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Marx believed all real change was based upon economics, part of his idea of of Creative Destruction which was a great deal different than Schumpeter's. It is also part of the reason he believed so much in focusing on Economic Targets as opposed to others, which seems to have been lost when he is talked about in the modern senses.
    The sociological theory that supports this madness I have termed Ideological Materialism. It is a variation of Marvin Harris' Cultural Materialism, which is a variation of Marx's Historical Materialism. Marx was right about one thing, when you are hungry you can give a crap about freedom, you just want food. That, of course, is nothing more than Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs operationalized. He was on to something, but he had an agenda (or so it seems to me). Plus he lacked any real understanding of cultural Anthropology - the first book on the subject was only published a few years before his death.

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Now for the question. The model appears to be a way to analyze a country before you invade or commit to military action was that your intention? Proper understanding of the country/problem you are dealing with before jumping to a solution?
    No, that is not what it was intended to do. It was intended to support our current COIN doctrine. Unfortunately, that is not what it does. It can be used as a planning tool and to explain to overzealous politicians why forceably democratizing country "X" may not be as easy as he thinks. Beyond that, I can't say. I am still working out the kinks.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 03-07-2013 at 07:43 PM.
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  8. #28
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    No, that is not what it was intended to do. It was intended to support our current COIN doctrine. Unfortunately, that is not what it does. It can be used as a planning tool and to explain to overzealous politicians why forceably democratizing country "X" may not be as easy as he thinks. Beyond that, I can't say. I am still working out the kinks.

    OK, can you demonstrate how you would like it to be used by applying it to a country of concern to the USA today. Such as Libya,Syria,etc.?

  9. #29
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default One Minute answer

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    OK, can you demonstrate how you would like it to be used by applying it to a country of concern to the USA today. Such as Libya,Syria,etc.?
    OK - I really need two basic objective datapoints. The two I have been playing with are the Human Development Index (hdr.undp.org/en/) and a combination of Inglehart and Welzel's Traditional/Secular-rational and Survival/Self-Expression values (worldvaluessurvey.org). Unfortunately, I don't have the value survey data. I do have HDI numbers. Libya (.760) and Syria (.632) are way below a line I have drawn at about .8 to successfully garner the values needed to transition to democracy. Therefore, my advise would be to provide assistance where it is possible. I liked the way we handled Libya. Syria is even tougher. Provide humanitarian aid and contain the situation. Other than that, stay out of it.

    Of course that is just a basic look. Each country has its own special circumstances. Plus there are secondary effects of any collapse, like the loss of control over weapons systems, conventional or otherwise. What I would not advise in either situation is an occupation (unless you can show genocide - that has continuing implications for generations to come).

    That is a one minute assessment based on a single variable inserted into the model. Not very helpful, but I think it is defensible.

    Again, at this point the model can only estimate the likelihood of a successful transition to democracy. I can say with some confidence that democracy is an unliky outcome in either case.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 03-07-2013 at 09:20 PM.
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  10. #30
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    Default South Africa is an angry nation on the brink

    Admittedly this is a link to South Africa, but I think it provides some insight into a country riven with problems, a high level of personal violence through crime, occasionally civil disorder and a political establishment seen by many as remote, corrupt and ineffective. Ah, not to overlook the role of the police service.

    For this lady, Nelson Mandela's wife, Gracia Machel, to say this is not a good sign:
    South Africa is an angry nation..We are on the precipice of something very dangerous with the potential of not being able to stop the fall. The level of anger and aggression is rising. This is an expression of deeper trouble from the past that has not been addressed. We have to be more cautious about how we deal with a society that is bleeding and breathing pain.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...elas-wife.html
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    OK - I really need two basic objective datapoints. The two I have been playing with are the Human Development Index (hdr.undp.org/en/) and a combination of Inglehart and Welzel's Traditional/Secular-rational and Survival/Self-Expression values (worldvaluessurvey.org). Unfortunately, I don't have the value survey data. I do have HDI numbers. Libya (.760) and Syria (.632) are way below a line I have drawn at about .8 to successfully garner the values needed to transition to democracy. Therefore, my advise would be to provide assistance where it is possible. I liked the way we handled Libya. Syria is even tougher. Provide humanitarian aid and contain the situation. Other than that, stay out of it.

    Of course that is just a basic look. Each country has its own special circumstances. Plus there are secondary effects of any collapse, like the loss of control over weapons systems, conventional or otherwise. What I would not advise in either situation is an occupation (unless you can show genocide - that has continuing implications for generations to come).

    That is a one minute assessment based on a single variable inserted into the model. Not very helpful, but I think it is defensible.

    Again, at this point the model can only estimate the likelihood of a successful transition to democracy. I can say with some confidence that democracy is an unliky outcome in either case.
    I agree with you on the way we handled Libya. I have to wonder if the critics are serious about how our failure to put boots on the ground resulted in the proliferation of weapons throughout the region. No doubt that happened, but it also happened in Iraq and Afghanistan where we put boots on the ground.

    When you're doing your research working out the kinks it would be interesting to see how your hypothesis supports our relative success in our occupation and transformation (although both had capitalist cultures) efforts. More interestingly comparing the results of Western occupation in West Germany compared to USSR occupation in East Germany. Does the model tell us anything?

  12. #32
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Hard to say

    This is still a pretty crude tool. Plus I don't have any data to work off pre-1980, so post-WWII stuff is beyond me. There is a large grey area that supports either democracy or something less. What kicks a country one way or another is where culture, history, and any number of other factors come into play.

    I am working on writing something up on it now. I don't have it where I want it, but it probably is not going to get any better by me staring at it.

    What are your thoughts on successful transitions to democracy? Based on your experience what factors need to be considered?
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  13. #33
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    Default Predicting Nonviolent Revolt: Agency vs. Struture

    Curmudgy, does this help? I think you could get access to some this guys Data.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN5P5cmBFJA
    Last edited by slapout9; 03-08-2013 at 08:59 PM. Reason: stuff

  14. #34
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default This One Too!

    Forming A Movement or Green Beret Stuff 2013 style all kinds of edumacated (just invented that word)stuff in this video



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG8qNSQzIOw

  15. #35
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I put the beginning of the modern Arab Spring a bit in front of events in Tunisia in 2010.

    In fact, over 100 years prior, with the Constitutional Revolutions in Turkey and Iran.

    I also believe one gets to a clearer understanding if one applies the mechanical device definition to "spring" rather than the seasonal one.

    Each of these complex, diverse populaces are like bundles of compressed srings beneath the weight of systems of governance that many have either never seen as legitimate, or that have come to be perceived as increasingly illegitimate over the years.

    The Ottomans, the Europeans and the Americans have all worked to shape the region to their liking, and have served to keep such "springs" compressed. But once one "spring" moves they all being to quiver and become more likely of moving.

    The falling away of the greater evil of potential Soviet dominion was, IMO, a major factor in beginning the quest to push back against local and foreign systems of inappropriate and/or illegitimate government. Early efforts were typically quashed, with the real trouble makers "encouraged" to go elsewhere to plot / wage their plots against external manipulators. The Saudis in particular have bought down risk in this manner in a major way. But the chickens are coming home to roost.

    The empowering effects of modern information technologies are also a major factor. The more informed and empowered the people are, the more energy a government must apply to keem them in some situation against their will.

    If our solution is to simply reinforce the status quo where we think that suits our external interests; or alternatively to help throw off the local system of governance where we think that best suits our interests, we will continue to be frustrated with the results. And we will continue to incite acts of transnational terrorism back onto ourselves as payment for our efforts.

    We need to reframe the problem, and then reassess how we best get after securing ourselves and our interests. We will likely find that less is more, mediation is better than arbitration, and evolution is more productive than revolution.

    But until this the "springs" will continue to uncoil.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 03-09-2013 at 02:02 PM.
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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default Whoa...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    If our solution is to simply reinforce the status quo where we think that suits our external interests; or alternatively to help throw off the local system of governance where we think that best suits our interests, we will continue to be frustrated with the results. And we will continue to incite acts of transnational terrorism back onto ourselves as payment for our efforts.

    We need to reframe the problem, and then reassess how we best get after securing ourselves and our interests. We will likely find that less is more, mediation is better than arbitration, and evolution is more productive than revolution.
    In those two paragraphs I see the word "we" 7 times and the word "our" 5 times. When do we stop and reflect that it isn't about us, and that these issues generally require no solution from us. In my opinion you're right, mediation is better than arbitration and evolution is more productive than revolution, but it's not our place to be making those choices on behalf of others.

    We need to be very wary of assuming that terrorist events are necessarily a reaction to our actions. Other people out there do not just react o what we do, that can and do proactively pursue their own objectives. Even if those objectives are incompatible to ours or involve hostility toward us, we cannot necessarily conclude that they are reactions to our actions. That's an appealing belief, because if it were true we could control the actions of others simply by adjusting the stimuli we provide, but that appeal does not make the assumption viable.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Well, Dayuhan, most people who we call "terrorists" are not really terrorists at all, but simply are people fed up with the situations of government they are forced to live under.

    But not all nationalist movements feel compelled to attack some foreign power. When foreign powers are attacked it is typically because said populace group believes that foreign power is somehow responsible for the situation. Or for sustaining the situation through external provision of CT or BPC support.

    But please, tell me where this is not the case. I am fascinated to hear your examples rather than your groundless criticisms of my analysis. This is art, not science, but even art critics need some foundation to stand upon.
    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
    Well, Dayuhan, most people who we call "terrorists" are not really terrorists at all, but simply are people fed up with the situations of government they are forced to live under.

    But not all nationalist movements feel compelled to attack some foreign power. When foreign powers are attacked it is typically because said populace group believes that foreign power is somehow responsible for the situation. Or for sustaining the situation through external provision of CT or BPC support.

    But please, tell me where this is not the case. I am fascinated to hear your examples rather than your groundless criticisms of my analysis. This is art, not science, but even art critics need some foundation to stand upon.
    You've said yourself that AQ is not a populace and does not represent any populace. I don't believe for a minute that AQ is simply reacting to perceived offense. They are proactively pursuing a strategic agenda of their own. Any desire to remove perceived external influence is incidental to a desire to impose their own influence. To me the desire to perceive AQ and allied groups as reactive rather than proactive is a fundamental strategic error that can have rather dangerous consequences.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Forming A Movement or Green Beret Stuff 2013 style all kinds of edumacated (just invented that word)stuff in this video



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG8qNSQzIOw
    This is just politics 201, not Green Beret stuff in my view, though our ranks should understand it. We're generally better off if we don't get involved and let the political evolution unfold. UW has merit in very select cases, but in most cases we're better providing diplomatic, financial and information support to movements we want to see gain steam.

    Posted by Bob's World

    Well, Dayuhan, most people who we call "terrorists" are not really terrorists at all, but simply are people fed up with the situations of government they are forced to live under.
    This is generally true, but it doesn't effectively capture the intent of transnational terrorist groups who have global or regional ambitions that have nothing to with how effective or ineffective the governments are. In Al-Qaeda's case it is the caliphate. When the USSR was promoting communism they exploited bad governance in some cases, but frequently organized resistance in countries that had decent governments. Again it takes less than 15% of the population resisting the government to present an existential threat.

    Getting back to your point we have conflated AQ with all acts of terrorism conducted by Muslims. Many are conducted by people feed up with their government or an occupying power and their act has nothing to do with a larger global agenda, but we generally put them in the same category, which demonstrates a dangerous lack of understanding on our part.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    This is just politics 201, not Green Beret stuff in my view, though our ranks should understand it. We're generally better off if we don't get involved and let the political evolution unfold. UW has merit in very select cases, but in most cases we're better providing diplomatic, financial and information support to movements we want to see gain steam.
    Ok let CIA do it. We used to be fairly good at this back in the 50's and early 60's.

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