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

  1. #41
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    The reality is quite different and I would suggest that the classic application of gunpowder or gold is the answer in such cases, with the strong caveat that neither be applied unless absolutely necessary. Staying out is always easier than getting out. And if you do go in, go hard and get out before the dust settles.

    Tom

    Now your talking!! That is how criminals with 3rd grade educations consistently take over areas/countries all over the world....follow me and prosper...... oppose me and you will die. It ain't pretty but it is very effective!

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    That is where I see the problem with the failed state moniker--most of the time the failed state was never a state to begin with. By that I mean a nation of people who saw themselves as a national body without having a gun at their collective heads. In these cases, we are not negotiating with governments, we are talking to individual leaders who may or may not actually control all, part, or none of the area in question. Our system of diplomacy including international diplomacy is built on the exact opposite premise: that governments control all regions and that if you plug into the correct government you can influence its behavior.
    A much more concise statement of what I was rambling about above, Tom. Thanks!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post

    US policy makers absolutely refused to see it for what it was: a non-state that had failed in its attempts (and ours as the West) to make it so. Because they refused to see it for what it was, we could not hope to address what it was going to become.

    That is where I see the problem with the failed state moniker--most of the time the failed state was never a state to begin with. By that I mean a nation of people who saw themselves as a national body without having a gun at their collective heads. In these cases, we are not negotiating with governments, we are talking to individual leaders who may or may not actually control all, part, or none of the area in question. Our system of diplomacy including international diplomacy is built on the exact opposite premise: that governments control all regions and that if you plug into the correct government you can influence its behavior.
    Great comment Tom.

    I'll be bold here and suggest that we're making the same mistake in Afghanistan. We've been working hard - or trying to - on governance for many years now and it should be not surprise that success hasn't yet come. IMO the only way "Afghanistan" will survive as a state in the long term is through a loose federation and not the centralized government structure that now exists.

  4. #44
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Great comment Tom.

    I'll be bold here and suggest that we're making the same mistake in Afghanistan. We've been working hard - or trying to - on governance for many years now and it should be not surprise that success hasn't yet come. IMO the only way "Afghanistan" will survive as a state in the long term is through a loose federation and not the centralized government structure that now exists.
    Thanks all first for the kind words.

    I think you are on track here. I have not been there but I have read much of the history and I always brief it as a region which overlaps its nominal state neighbors. Maybe someday it will coalesce into a unified body; its history tells me that will not be done by force alone.

    Best
    Tom

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    Default Afghanistan

    My reading of its modern history - say since the Moghuls - is that Afghanistan is less of a state than it is the intersection of competing empires. That is, it has been a buffer zone where various interests - Persian, Russian, British, Indian, Chinese, Pakistani, et al - bumped and ground against each other. They often found that having a a buffer was more convenient than having a shared border, one of the reasons that Badakhshan province looks the way it does. The fact that it is a buffer zone that is virtually ungovernable only makes it all the more effective. Afghanistan, in other words, is the product of a perfect storm of geography, politics, demographics, and culture.

    That is also why I have always thought that we would be more effective if we thought of ourselves as one amongst several competing insurgencies, rather than as a counterinsurgent.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Closer to home?

    'Failed states' and 'ungoverned spaces' are not exclusive to the developed world, a point IMHO and reading the thread has not been explicit.

    In many cities the extent of nation-state control is minimal; this has featured in a thread on Brazilian and Mexican cities. In the UK, albeit for a short period Republican urban areas in Northern Ireland were un-governed (not un-funded i.e. state benefits) and South Armagh (border county) for nearly all 'The Troubles' would fit the definition of 'un-governed'.

    In policing terms you can find such areas are called 'No Go', which may have originated from Northern Ireland and of course denials they exist.

    How about the Indian tribal territories in Canada? MarcT made this comment recently and IIRC referred to the Mohawk nation blocking a cross-border road.

    Just a thought we need to watch closer to home.

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    'Failed states' and 'ungoverned spaces' are not exclusive to the developed world, a point IMHO and reading the thread has not been explicit.

    In many cities the extent of nation-state control is minimal; this has featured in a thread on Brazilian and Mexican cities.
    Excellent point! Personally, I think the whole idea of "ungoverned spaces" is a huge "so what?" 911 could have been planned in Canada. The whole premise of calling somewhere "ungoverned" seems to be a precursor for "we should govern it."
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Two excellent comments.

    Tom:
    ...Our system of diplomacy including international diplomacy is built on the exact opposite premise: that governments control all regions and that if you plug into the correct government you can influence its behavior.
    Astute observation -- and you'd think after the last hundred plus years of 'intervening' to little good effect in many such conglomerations we'd learn a little something...

    Eden:
    ...we would be more effective if we thought of ourselves as one amongst several competing insurgencies, rather than as a counterinsurgent.
    Equally astute. Kindred thoughts have been expressed about other places at other times in the memory of those living. Notable that the Marines effectively did that prior to WW II.

    Appropos to both comments, some obvious good flowed form our WW II experience -- but so did a lot of really bad military AND diplomatic ideas; add too much wealth to that -- and here we are...

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Wow...great discourse. This is exactly what I felt needed to be fleshed out and discussed. Tom, your experience squares with my perception, so thanks for putting that on the table.

    As we look to what this means in places like Afghanistan, I think it is fair to go back to our own doctrine of self-determination. Perhaps what the populace of Afghanistan needs is something that may very well qualify it for "failed state" status by metrics the West applies; yet to attempt to force it to look like a "real state" (in a Hollywood set kind of way...think of the scene in Blazing Saddles) on the surface, we actually set it up for even greater failure in terms of human suffering as that unsustainable situation returns through violent competition to a more sustainable norm.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It is that. Including Wilf's last comment which deserves repetition:

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    ... I think the whole idea of "ungoverned spaces" is a huge "so what?" 911 could have been planned in Canada. The whole premise of calling somewhere "ungoverned" seems to be a precursor for "we should govern it."
    Yep -- or it "simply must be governed as we are; anything less would be uncivilized..." Stupid egos and biases. Most of the uncivilized folks I've met have been a helluva lot more polite and honest than are most of the nominally civilized squirrels I run across.

    They weren't always too clean -- but that's vastly over rated also.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question When I've asked about this in the past

    Usually get a pretty common feedback which while it is not necessarily helpful does somewhat make sense.

    If politicians are supposed to "sell" Americans on supporting efforts in other countries it a heck of a lot harder to put it in terms of slightly better but effectively in support of our interests vs better life(in our contexts)

    Guess when the costs are so high they may not expect the Lamborghini but a good solid family sedan may do. Clunkers are a no starter
    Just my interpretation of the main difficulty in actually approaching it the way we probably should
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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    What's ironic to me is, that though we look back at our policies for how we treated the Native American Tribes with both realism and shame, the polices we apply to dealing with "failed states" and nation building are remarkably similar in nature, execution, and effect.

    Step one: Find someone to be in charge so that we can interact as governments on our terms.

    Step two: Encourage mirror imaging in all aspect of life, as "proper" or "civiliized"

    Step three: Accuse those who refuse to conform as "renegades" or "terrorists" and conduct capture kill operations against them with the Army.

    Did we learn nothing? I know I've recommended it before on here, but the book on Crazy Horse and Custer does a great job of highlighting this policy in a way one can't help but see the parallels to our current policies. I sincerely doubt that is the hidden intent of the book, just a simple reality of how our GWOT policy is much like our Indian policy. "Clear-Hold-Build" sounds a lot like manifest destiny if you stop and think about it... Get rid of the renegade indians, secure the settlers and LOCs, build towns and subdue nature to our will. Ahh, civilization.

    My suggestion would be to have a team develop an alternative COA that does not look like our past Indian policy.
    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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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    What's ironic to me is, that though we look back at our policies for how we treated the Native American Tribes with both realism and shame, the polices we apply to dealing with "failed states" and nation building are remarkably similar in nature, execution, and effect.
    This all depends on whose "Indian Policy" one examines. In yet another parallel, there rarely WAS a defined policy as such, and it shifted from year to year and was (without fail) poorly funded by Congress. Still, in an attempt to hit some historical balance, our policy was still much more humane than that of the Spanish. Not as good as the Canadian, perhaps, but there were different pressures at work in the US.

    There is a danger in trying to draw very close historical parallels, at least in terms of policy. Where I tend to find more useful comparisons is in terms of process. In some ways the Indians suffered because the great wave of "humanitarian idealism" unleashed by the Abolitionist movement was directed their way after the Civil War. It was then that the "elevation" consideration became paramount, and many unachievable and culturally destructive policies and ideas took root. There are any other number of considerations that come into play as well...I'm just picking these out of the hat. But maybe we should stop and consider if in our zeal to "save the world from itself" we aren't repeating the same well-intentioned mistakes made by the various crusaders in the latter half of the 19th century.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Did we learn nothing? I know I've recommended it before on here, but the book on Crazy Horse and Custer does a great job of highlighting this policy in a way one can't help but see the parallels to our current policies. I sincerely doubt that is the hidden intent of the book, just a simple reality of how our GWOT policy is much like our Indian policy. "Clear-Hold-Build" sounds a lot like manifest destiny if you stop and think about it... Get rid of the renegade indians, secure the settlers and LOCs, build towns and subdue nature to our will. Ahh, civilization.

    My suggestion would be to have a team develop an alternative COA that does not look like our past Indian policy.

    We did learn a little bit at least in the South. The modern policy of giving Indian tribes certain Economic advantages and then let them run with it under a tribal government works very well at least in Florida and Alabama.


    Bob's World, from where you are you should check out the Seminole tibes of South Florida, very interesting stuff going on with them.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Is that the group that working with other associated tribes around the country

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post


    the Seminole tribes of South Florida, very interesting stuff going on with them.
    in sort of a Buy Indian kinda thing?
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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    in sort of a Buy Indian kinda thing?
    Not sure of any nation wide agenda(tribes do talk to each other) but like Alabama they have exclusive gambling rights on the reservation,can sell cigarettes without having to pay Federal taxes (which is a big deal lately) some have liquor rights as well. They have a Tribal form of government/business operation that is very advanced compared to the general Civilian concept of the Corp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Yep -- or it "simply must be governed as we are; anything less would be uncivilized..." Stupid egos and biases. Most of the uncivilized folks I've met have been a helluva lot more polite and honest than are most of the nominally civilized squirrels I run across.

    They weren't always too clean -- but that's vastly over rated also.
    Is it really ego and biases or is it the fact that terrorist organizations and other threats (eg. pirates) thrive in ungoverned spaces?

    SFC W

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    Is it really ego and biases or is it the fact that terrorist organizations and other threats (eg. pirates) thrive in ungoverned spaces?

    SFC W
    I think (personally) that like anything else it's a combination. It also depends on the nature of the dominate group in the "ungoverned space." For example, the Pima tribal spaces would have been considered ungoverned by some standards, but were fairly peaceful due to the nature of the culture that inhabited it. By the same token, an area occupied a group that had a history of inter-clan feuding would be considered dangerous. Yet both territories would be considered ungoverned by some standards.

    And slap, there are tribes outside of your area that have done some great things, and others that have not fared as well. Montana has a pretty diverse native population, and it's interesting to see the levels of contrast that exist between the Crow, Gros Ventres, Blackfeet, and others that have reservations here.

    I think sometimes people forget that the Native Americans are in fact a group of pretty diverse cultures that don't often work and play well with each other, let alone outsiders. But we would do well to remember this, or at least look at our own backyard, before we start assuming that places like Afghanistan can respond well to, or even need, a central government as we see one.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    And slap, there are tribes outside of your area that have done some great things, and others that have not fared as well. Montana has a pretty diverse native population, and it's interesting to see the levels of contrast that exist between the Crow, Gros Ventres, Blackfeet, and others that have reservations here.

    I think sometimes people forget that the Native Americans are in fact a group of pretty diverse cultures that don't often work and play well with each other, let alone outsiders. But we would do well to remember this, or at least look at our own backyard, before we start assuming that places like Afghanistan can respond well to, or even need, a central government as we see one.
    Some good advice Steve about tribes and how they play or don't play to together hmmmm sounds like Astan!! And as a side note the big fancy Hotel where Anna Nicole Smith's body was found is owned by the tribe and the whole complex is on the reservation and yes it was the tribal police that found the body

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Steve's right, of course. Rarely is any action by a nation due to a single cause.

    With respect ot ungoverned spaces and terrorist organizations and such, it really a question of how important a specific issue is to someone in the power structure. My basic point was that all too often, we Americans (or, more correctly, many Americans) think other people WANT to be like us. Most don't. That's true because of this: LINK.

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