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Thread: Sanctuary or Ungoverned Spaces:identification, symptoms and responses

  1. #101
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    I have never really figured out what that means. Pipelines will presumably ship oil from central asia to China or India. Let them police the pipelines. If they can.
    And if people want a big cop to keep order in the neighborhood, then big cop sahib shouldnt have to spend his own pocket money on the job. Something like that.
    Honestly, I suspect that some of this strategic value BS is cooked up by someone who wants a canteen contract for his cousin in the next war. Something like that. I am exposing my ignorance, but I really cannot figure it out.

  2. #102
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Oil is a global market. People who have it need to sell it, people who need it need to buy it. All we every really wrestle over is who gets what cut of the profits. What government, what corporations, etc.

    Corporations love the stability that comes with dictators, so we tend to back keeping dictators in power where corporate interests are high. I suspect since that has worked so well, we have applied the same stability principle to other areas where different types of interests are at stake, like access to key LOCs such as the Red Sea and Suez.

    The real issue at play in GWOT is not an effort to expand extreme versions of Islam onto the unwilling; but rather to dislodge extreme versions of capitalism that have served to disrupt local processes of governmental legitimacy. Both will run hand in hand for a while, but once the causation of governance is addressed, the motivation of extreme Islam will quickly subside as well. If history is any judge, anyways.

    (The poor fellas at Exxon didn't even send me a Christmas card this year.)
    Robert C. Jones
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  3. #103
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The real issue at play in GWOT is not an effort to expand extreme versions of Islam onto the unwilling; but rather to dislodge extreme versions of capitalism that have served to disrupt local processes of governmental legitimacy.
    Yep, they don't like Globalization, that is why they chose the Twin Towers,the very symbol of Global Domination from New York.

  4. #104
    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Wow, what a good thread - there are a few distinct discussions going on, so I'll start here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The real issue at play in GWOT is not an effort to expand extreme versions of Islam onto the unwilling; but rather to dislodge extreme versions of capitalism that have served to disrupt local processes of governmental legitimacy. Both will run hand in hand for a while, but once the causation of governance is addressed, the motivation of extreme Islam will quickly subside as well. If history is any judge, anyways.
    That's how I understand it - if I recall correctly, AQs big targets were "apostate dictatorships" in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia (these were the two states that spurned OBL and Zawahiri). Eliminating them and cleaning up The House of Submission was the policy and sticking it to the U.S. to rile up the Islamic masses is the strategy. I believe that Michael Sheuer detailed all this with his use of primary sources in his books.

    The whole global caliphate is more like the "ideological chatter" on the fringes of the mission; similiar to our side talking about democratizing the world.

    That being said, this refers to AQ the group (an NGO I guess), which may have seen its goals and organization change in the last 10 years (I'm not too current on it). AQ the movement, which lives in the West and everywhere else, is a different beast altogether. I'm not sure taking one down will affect the other anymore.

  5. #105
    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I never advocate total elimination. I advocate seeking attrition in terms of what serves the policy. I also want attrition conducted in such a way as it breaks the will of the opponent to resist my policy via violence.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    CvC was a bit too specific when he focused on disarmament for victory - he looked at the extreme (or at last wrote about it to communicate his idea).
    Conventional wars are often being won by overpowering, and rarely by actually destroying the enemy (or even killing most of his soldiers).
    I think you two are arguing past each other.

    I read Wilf as saying the proper application of violence as overpowering the enemy. Certainly, reading around the Small Wars world shows this to be true. The Plains Wars, the Riel Rebellion (a Canadian example), the Phillipine Insurrection or the Tamil Insurrection provide examples.

    In none of these examples were the insurgents "destroyed" - nobody claimed they were. Fuch's description of "defeat" as a psychological condition that comes long before total destruction is correct (I see some of Storr's arguments here) and I don't think anyone disagrees with that either.

    So, violence correctly applied serves as one means amongst others (although at times the primary means) towards the political ends of making an other side cry uncle and conforming to your policy goals. What's the argument? I don't think anyone is arguing NOT to fight when faced with armed resistance.

    The big question is what we could probably call a "threshold for defeat" - when does a group of people stop fighting? From the general flow of discussions here on the SWJ, Bob's World has placed this line far to the right, saying that small wars - more particularly insurgencies - can't be resolved by violence. This would mean that the "threshold for defeat" is almost on par with "destruction"; you can't get rid of a feeling of resentment. Others have argued that enough force can convince people to change their ways; this would slide the "threshold for defeat" a little further to the right, away from "total destruction". I'm willing to bet that the location of the "threshold" varies from people to people and war to war.

  6. #106
    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Yep, they don't like Globalization, that is why they chose the Twin Towers,the very symbol of Global Domination from New York.
    Did they target the WTC due to a fear of globalization? Was the target selected after reading some Thomas Freidman and seeing a true threat to the safety of ones immortal spirit?

    Or did big, well-known towers just serve as a large enough target of opportunity to stick it to someone supporting people who pissed you off.

    I've always understood it to be the latter.

  7. #107
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Infanteer View Post
    Fuch's description of "defeat" as a psychological condition that comes long before total destruction is correct (I see some of Storr's arguments here) and I don't think anyone disagrees with that either.
    What's worse; you don't need to defeat the hostile forces in war. It suffices to defeat their government.

    There's no way how this could be reconcilable with Wilf's crusade against any type of 'indirect approach'.
    Except that he's funnily advocating an indirect approach himself by addressing the enemy leadership (and their might in form of followers) through killing instead of addressing them or their policy directly. (No, killing them does not address them, for their successor will still be determined, and careful. To exploit their fears such as possible loss of power or fear for their people would 'address them'.)




    I've got no problem with Wilf, knowing him for the better part of the last decade, but I have a problem with his theoretical arguments (crusades) of the last two years.

    The sanctuary issue is a proper topic for this; I doubt that anything would be gained by closing down the sanctuaries or even by killing even most or all enemies in there.
    We would only drive the others deeper into the underground, at great costs for us. We're better off if we stay away from them. The AQ in Pakistan is no problem for us and the TB don't seem to be interested in major extra-regional activities.
    In fact, the sanctuaries are helping us much; our intelligence services would probably petition against a crackdown because it's so damn useful to observe which young people visit Pakistan these days.
    A global network without at least one special central node would be much more difficult to keep under surveillance - especially if their connections break down to their motivation and ideology.


    This is a hydra type of conflict anyway. Hack & slash against these enemies won't work.
    We can turn some of them into irrelevant enemies simply by avoiding their neighbourhood and we need first and foremost a torch against the others - a sword alone won't do, no matter how much we try. Finally, we should question the whole stupid conflict (the mission) before we do anything.

    I suggest to search a more global political torch than the rather regional H&M approach that was way too much insurgency-specific and wouldn't have been decisive in the greater picture even if successful in AFG..

  8. #108
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Infanteer View Post
    Did they target the WTC due to a fear of globalization? Was the target selected after reading some Thomas Freidman and seeing a true threat to the safety of ones immortal spirit?

    Or did big, well-known towers just serve as a large enough target of opportunity to stick it to someone supporting people who pissed you off.

    I've always understood it to be the latter.
    I think since they had already tried to blow up the Towers once already it is the former, they were determined to finish what they had started.

  9. #109
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    This thread is following a very interesting track at the moment, and there seems to be a noticeable pattern, and I tend to group the various positions into one of three camps.

    First, there is the realist camp that advocates continuing to strike the insurgents, and focusing on terrain and the enemy, and not so much the people.

    Second is the idealist point of view, which orients on the population as the center of gravity and focuses on separating the insurgent from the population through a combination of better governance, development/prosperity and security, but also recognizes that the insurgent may be capable of coming to the negotiating table to work towards settlement.'

    Finally, as far as I can see, there is the isolationist camp, which tends towards a belief that we should marginalize the insurgent by reducing our involvement altogether. This view can blend some aspects of the first two thought processes, but the fact remains that the issue of the Taliban and their connection with AQ is not worth the toil to try and defeat the various components of the problem. Better to focus on containing the problem, rather than be dragged won by it.

    I think neoconservatism got us into Afghanistan, but has died out as the residual argument for us staying there.

    I know these are not neatly organized containers, and that much of what people argue has various permutations, but can folks ID other systems at play that allow for arguments to be organized?

  10. #110
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I have to go with Infanteer on this one. The symbolism of those twin towers, standing there at the gateway of the greatest city, of the greatest nation, represented the greed, power, and hubris of the American people in the second half of the 20th Century. They represented so much of the "why" behind the tremendous controlling presence established by the U.S. around the globe, a presence that remains the greatest in the Middle East as it has not evolved or rolled back there nearly to the degree it has in Europe, Asia or even Latin America. What better target than the WTC if one just wanted to walk up this great Tiger of a country and kick it square in the balls?? The targeting of the Pentagon, as the hub of the military forces that have enforced those control measures, and the unfulfilled targeting of the Capital/White house all make tremendous symbolic sense.

    That said though, I believe that there certainly are those who are attracted to AQ's movement that do fear globalization; and perhaps those are the most deeply religious of their supporters. Just as the invention of the printing press unleashed an information age that led to the reformation of Christianity, with the associated tremendous social and political upheavals of that era; so too is the information technology fueling globalization placing reformatory pressures on Islam as well. There will be those who press for change and those who cling equally steadfastly to maintaining an exaggerated, and probably largely fictional and romanticized version of how they believe Islam is supposed to be. This is the great friction within Islam that will likely grow and forever change the face of that culture, the balance of power, and beliefs of the faithful in ways that are impossible to predict and totally and completely independent of the political objectives of AQ. It is like the monster wave crashing toward the shore that AQ is riding to serve their own ends. But such a wave can pick up everything in its path. I really think we need to do a better job of understanding both dynamics separately, as well as how they interact together, but to not conflate them as one homogeneous dynamic, because they are not.

    Their world is changing in ways that are scary and unpredictable, and that will lead to powerful and unpredictable reactions in some. We can't do much about that and should not attempt to do so. We can, however, assess and adjust our foreign policies and relationships in the region to be less controlling and more respective of local dynamics of popular will and governance. As Dave Maxwell says... something about not wanting to be the minnow caught between two copulating whales.
    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)

  11. #111
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    Default Fuchs started it....

    I see a lot of random thoughts (mine included) discussing strategy or more accurately strategies for fighting AQ, Taliban, stablizing Afghanistan, etc., which in my view points to the heart of the problem. What are we trying to accomplish in Afghanistan? What is the policy? We have apparently have a plan for Afghanistan that is largely (not completely) disassociated with our fight against AQ, yet as we can all see from the points made previously one moment we're discussing how to stabilize Afghanistan and the next we're discussion how to defeat AQ. While there is somewhat of geographical nexus of the two strategies in Afghanistan, they are still largely two separate strategies. Regarding Afghanistan, and the question I was asked initially that apparently kicked this discussion off was what would you do patrol leader? I assumed the question was regarding Afghanistan, which is what our men and women on the front lines (not those in the FOBs) are trying to do. I tend to agree with Bob's approach about making a deal the Taliban can't refuse, but as he stated that can't be done because the ISI refuses to allow the Taliban to cooperate, so where does that leave us? If you're being attacked by forces that enjoy safehaven in Pakistan like the Haqanni Network, Lashkar e taiyyba, and numerous Taliban factions (their leadership enjoys residence in Pakistan, there bomb making schools are in Pakistan, and there not all in the FATA), do you ignore the issue and continue to try to nation build in hopes that this will eventually somehow defeat the forces that are destablizing Afghanistan (of course you could argue we're the force destablizing Afghanistan)? I remain open to alternative views, but I haven't seen any arguments to convince me that this is feasible.

    If you asked me how to defeat AQ, I would propose a different approach that is largely SOF/CIA led working through proxies to disrupt and destroy their networks. I only need a few small toe holds in Afghanistan and other locations to disrupt the safehavens Pakistan, especially if we work a deal out with the Taliban, which we might be able to do if we leave them alone. Of course that would be a betrayal of our allies within Afghanistan who have put their lives and their families lives on the line to support our efforts to build a better Afghanistan and it would piss off India, because we would have sided with a State Sponsor of terrorism (make a deal with the devil) to get after AQ. Of course any strategy that seriously addresses AQ must be global, to include Europe, the U.S., Africa, the Middle East, etc. There is a valid so what question if we finally do kill or capture AQ's senior leadership that we think is in Pakistan. I don't think anyone will believe the war is over with.

    While I may not agree I think everyone is making valid points depending upon what problem you may be trying to solve.

  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    What are we trying to accomplish in Afghanistan? What is the policy?
    The million dollar question!

    I think AQ fell off the "reasons for staying in Afghanistan" list sometime ago; I don't know if this was inadvertant or not. It would be an interesting survey to compare policy statements WRT Afghanistan and Karzai from 2001 to 2011 to detect changes.

    Unfortunately, I think the answer to the million dollar question at the present time is framed by many policymakers, targetting a fickle public, as "rebuild Afghanistan under its elected government". This makes for great soundbites and shows care for the priniciples of liberalism of democracy for humanity....

    ...and is also is completely unrealistic. We are setting ourselves up for failure if we define victory in terms of inked-thumbs and girls going to school - yet these are the metrics and images we choose to define it by. For some reason, the current attitude seems to be one of "there's an insurgency, let's counter it!" as opposed to "do we need to be here?" "White man's burden" redux?

    So you get a poor military who is looked upon to lead this effort (despite all the pithy phrases in doctrine saying the military is only a supporting effort) and does what it does best; provides military solutions. Nothing like turning a series of tactical tasks (clear, hold, build) into a strategy.

  13. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
    1. There is a jihadist core in pakistan (not in "sanctuaries" alone, but in the govt, in the Islamist parties, especially in the intelligence agencies) and they are fleecing the Americans while ruthlessly protecting their minimum interests (even if that means sacrificing a lot of foot-soldiers).
    2. Pakistan is not a very strong state. No one in the ruling elite actually wants to try to fight off an unhappy America or even to survive without monthly handouts. The bluff works only because America lets it work.
    Is this what is going on? I think there are two elites the Military and political dynasties.
    1] I would see as the Military who are good Muslims but not Jihadists. Their primary interest relates to India and while they are very happy to use US tax dollars to beef up their forces they want them as protection against their enemy not the US’s (the same is going on in Yemen).
    2] Is the political class, and all who get rich through their patronage. They have a very difficult task they want to feather their own nests with those nice US tax dollars but their electorate are absolutely clear who their enemy is - the US and India probably in that order. How do you do enough to appease the Americans without getting lynched by your own people and without letting a US or Indian proxy establish itself on your northern flank.
    What has not been discussed much is China who are very close to the Pakistanis and also have a vested interest in not having a US or Indian proxy in Afghanistan. To date they have not needed to take any action in their own interest but if the US makes its attacks on its Pakistani allies more overt or India looked like gaining significant influence that may change and needs to be factored in.

  14. #114
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I have to go with Infanteer on this one. The symbolism of those twin towers, standing there at the gateway of the greatest city, of the greatest nation, represented the greed, power, and hubris of the American people in the second half of the 20th Century. They represented so much of the "why" behind the tremendous controlling presence established by the U.S. around the globe, a presence that remains the greatest in the Middle East as it has not evolved or rolled back there nearly to the degree it has in Europe, Asia or even Latin America. What better target than the WTC if one just wanted to walk up this great Tiger of a country and kick it square in the balls?? The targeting of the Pentagon, as the hub of the military forces that have enforced those control measures, and the unfulfilled targeting of the Capital/White house all make tremendous symbolic sense.
    I thought that is what I said?

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post

    Finally, as far as I can see, there is the isolationist camp, which tends towards a belief that we should marginalize the insurgent by reducing our involvement altogether. This view can blend some aspects of the first two thought processes, but the fact remains that the issue of the Taliban and their connection with AQ is not worth the toil to try and defeat the various components of the problem. Better to focus on containing the problem, rather than be dragged won by it.
    I would tend to fall in this category with some exceptions. We really need to have a Kill Bill Laden Vol.3. We also should be better preparing the nation for the fact that we may get hit again. We need to strengthen our economy and vastly reorganize(maybe get rid of) the Department of Homeland Silliness. Homeland Security.....who thought of that? that sounds like something Hitler would have had....really sucks IMO. Really need to get a grip on the Mexico situation,which may not seem to be connected but it is through various Drug Links.

  16. #116
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    If you mean a strategy of attrition, then you have access to a very gifted six-year-old. Attrition works better than anything else. It's great, but you need a really good army and a a very good intelligence service to do it.

    Additionally, your attrition has to be set forth in line with the policy, so you have to be very careful who you kill/capture and why.
    Attrition doesn't have to be achieved by killing and capturing. In my neighborhood we've had a Communist insurgency running since the 60s. At its peak, in the later years of the Marcos dictatorship, they had roughly 25,000 armed fighters. Now they are down to under 5000. That attrition was brought about not by military action, but by the removal of the dictator and a gradual renewal of confidence in the political process: the rebels weren't killed, they just stopped rebelling. The rebellion remains active primarily in areas where governance is still dominated by feudal dynasties. The key to the final stage in the attrition process will be the application of coercive force: not against the rebels, but against the dynasties.

    Of course you won't ever convert the ideological core, but their followers are fighting for reasons, and those reasons often have little to do with ideology. Remove the reasons, and you get attrition without killing anyone. Leave the reasons in place, and you don't just have to kill insurgents, you have to kill them faster than they are replaced, and you have to find them among a populace that's likely to be on their side.

    If your policy is producing substantial armed resistance among a populace, it's worth considering the possibility that your policy sucks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Outlaw status is resolved by simply bringing them inside the law. Grant a pardon (with clear conditions, such as the eviction of AQ with the turning over of certain key AQ members bringing very clear benefits as well). Once inside the law, the Taliban are constrained by the law, at least as much as anyone is constrained by the law (right, Mr. Karzai?? Wink Wink) in this culture.
    Very simple, if the Taliban choose to participate. If they don't recognize your law, if they don't see you as being in a position to grant pardons or make demands, this won't get anywhere. There's more to making a deal than offering it and assuming the other side will go along with whatever you offer. Why should they?

    The symbolism of those twin towers, standing there at the gateway of the greatest city, of the greatest nation, represented the greed, power, and hubris of the American people in the second half of the 20th Century. They represented so much of the "why" behind the tremendous controlling presence established by the U.S. around the globe, a presence that remains the greatest in the Middle East as it has not evolved or rolled back there nearly to the degree it has in Europe, Asia or even Latin America.
    What exactly do we control in the Middle East?
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 01-04-2011 at 01:17 AM.

  17. #117
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    What's worse; you don't need to defeat the hostile forces in war. It suffices to defeat their government.
    Colonel Warden's been saying that for years.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Colonel Warden's been saying that for years.
    Maybe, but his most famous recommendations are very different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Maybe, but his most famous recommendations are very different.
    I have never seen any, other than the fact that you may have to attack other targets in order to get to the government/leaders.Which ones are you talking about?

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    I have never seen any, other than the fact that you may have to attack other targets in order to get to the government/leaders.Which ones are you talking about?
    Pretty much that one.
    I understood his recommendation as akin to a shotgun shock attack. He proposed to press five acupressure rings at once and after five steps the enemies' heart will explode.


    My approach to offensive strategic air war is very different.
    It has been observed that certain strategic air war actions have mixed track records and some even trigger the opposite of the intended reaction.

    My concept accepts that, is fine with it and exploits it. I intend to write an article draft for submission to a journal soon, the early draft was written in blog style and is thus obviously unsuitable for a journal article.


    Part of my approach is as always to avoid as much net damage as possible in order to protect the own people (and allies) against the terrible effects of war (and the risk thereof) as much as possible. To me, that's the point of the exercise of thinking about war. I despise unnecessary escalations and wasn't impressed by Warden's shotgun approach.

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