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Thread: Reconciliation and COIN in Afghanistan

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    Commentators from both sides of the political spectrum have raised the issue about needing the troops, resources, and focus on this home-grown problem, the scope and dimension of which is only beginning to unfold.
    Certainly the Gulf situation is a major problem, but I don't see how it competes with Afghanistan for resources or focus. The resources required and the individuals and institutions whose focus is needed are very different: the Gulf oil spill is not a military problem and the personnel and equipment in Afghanistan are not of a type that would be of much use in the Gulf.

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    Don't disagree about alignment, but the linkage is being made, and the pretext is inherent.

    It is actually quite staggering to hear folks comment about "what the government" either should or is going to need to do when, it reality, the government is no more structured or tasked to provide serious regional relief/reconstruction/environmental clean up, than is the military to, say, build schools in Afghanistan...

    Ricks wrote yesterday about the Pentagon beginning to come to terms with economic realities (ie, the end of the blank check), and the President spoke of a new (?) concept of national power grounded in the power of the nation's own stability/prosperity (pre-Gulf, and shifting the signal away from foreign entanglements).

    But we keep coming back to problems, like Haiti, where the military is shown to be the only tool available.

    Pre-war Iraq's army was, in fact, not that unusual in being the entity responsible for bridge reconstruction and other civil works, following a tradition back to the Legions.

    As the clock ticks down in Afghanistan, I will find it interesting to watch how the emerging redefinition of the military's role to the US government evolves.

    That it is evolving is inherent in the COIN approach (at least, as COIN is advertised)...segue to COIN for America.

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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Strategy vs. Tactics in Afghanistan
    Good counterinsurgency can't make up for the lack of a political plan.

    BY ANN MARLOWE
    Gen. Stanley McChrystal has embraced Hamid Karzai as part of the Obama administration's startling about-face on the Afghan president. Until recently, the Obama team seemed to understand that Mr. Karzai was "not an adequate strategic partner," in the well-chosen words of our ambassador (and former general) Karl Eikenberry. Mr. Karzai's refusal to name cabinet ministers in the wake of the August 2009 election (as required by the constitution) so angered his own parliament that for several days last month they refused to conduct any business, instead sitting silent in protest.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...ditorialPage_h
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

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    Default Everything goes in cycles...

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    As the clock ticks down in Afghanistan, I will find it interesting to watch how the emerging redefinition of the military's role to the US government evolves.

    That it is evolving is inherent in the COIN approach (at least, as COIN is advertised)...segue to COIN for America.
    Even dumb cycles repeat...

    From way back (LINK) through then (LINK) 'til this (LINK) -- which I suspect is gone from view but not forgotten and which likely will morph in surprising ways...

  5. #65
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    The military does three things pretty damn well:

    1. Deterrence,

    2. War fighting,

    3. Military Support to Civil Authorities.


    The problem currently for the US is that senior leadership over the past several administrations are being extremely slow in recognizing that U.S. Foreign Policy for Globalized Uni/multi-polar world of 2010 needs to look considerably different than U.S. Foreign Policy for a Bi-Polar, pre-globalized world of 1989.

    So as the friction grows from a Foregin Policy that is more and more out of touch with reality, equally increasing pressure is placed upon the U.S. Military to "manage" that friction and the by products of the same.

    The military, being full of can-do, mission oriented types, is all too willing to move out aggressively to make whatever changes or compromises are required to accomplish this ever changing mission that takes us farther and farther from our core mission sets laid out above. This is doubly true when civilian leadership characterizes the current dramas as a "war." That is like launching a mechanical rabbit out in front of a pack or greyhounds for the military. Sure they know it isn't a real rabbit, they just don't care. Any rabbit is worth the chase!

    The latest announcement by Secretary Gates to embrace Population-Centric COIN / Capacity Building across DoD is the ultimate manifestation of this dynamic.

    Stop.

    It's just time to really stop, take a knee, drink some water, get your map out, re-plot that azimuth, talk to your squad leaders, and think about this for a second.

    The problem is not that the world is changing; the problem is that the U.S. is not adapting well to that change. The time is not to continue to manipulate the military like a blind man on a rubic's cube; but to instead call for and execute a top-down, full specrum review and revision of U.S. approach to foreign policy. This should also include all international organizations of which the US is a major component of that were similarly designed to deal with the world emerging out of WWII.

    My $.02
    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)

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    Ken: Great Citations.

    Bob: As a GIS guy, originally trained on real maps, I applaud your reference to hard maps, a stable basis.

    Right. Our foreign service is trapped in the 1960's and can't find its way out of the thicket. Until it catches up (probably a generational recycling), and fills with people not trained in old school poli sci, they will stay in the thicket. The days of foreign service as a reporting tool are in the tail light. It needs to be much more robust, savvy and diverse in its engagements and results.

    My girls at home are big Hillary boosters, but she was not able to provide inspired leadership for substantive change---just keep ing the organization happy in doing what it always did. Whatever Richard Holbrooke learned from Viet Nam forward has proven to be of little benefit in the present. Won't even mention his "protege..." (got any oil leases you want to cut a back room deal on?)

    Absent substantial change, we are sure to accomplish more of the same if we continue to do the same thing over and over.

    I have always loved Toynbee.

  7. #67
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    Right. Our foreign service is trapped in the 1960's and can't find its way out of the thicket. Until it catches up (probably a generational recycling), and fills with people not trained in old school poli sci, they will stay in the thicket. The days of foreign service as a reporting tool are in the tail light. It needs to be much more robust, savvy and diverse in its engagements and results.
    I'd have said trapped in the 1860s. Too much of our Foreign Service seems convinced that the central function of a diplomat is exchanging erudite repartee in a rarefied salon, occasionally taking time out to negotiate a treaty.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The problem currently for the US is that senior leadership over the past several administrations are being extremely slow in recognizing that U.S. Foreign Policy for Globalized Uni/multi-polar world of 2010 needs to look considerably different than U.S. Foreign Policy for a Bi-Polar, pre-globalized world of 1989.
    This I'm not so sure of. It might be more accurate, I think, to say that the US has struggled to come up with a viable post-Cold War policy in certain parts of the world, notably Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia west of India.

    In much of the world there has been a significant and reasonably effective transition out of the Cold War paradigm.

    In Latin America we've taken a big step away from interventionism, and accepted that "left" doesn't have to mean "communist", and that even when it does mean communist or something like it, that's not necessarily a threat. During the Cold War we'd never have accepted a Chavez or a Morales, and would likely have gone back to the Kirkpatrick shuffle: a sponsored coup, followed by support for an oafish dictator threatened by a left-wing insurgency. During the Cold War our relations with even moderate "left" governments such as those we have now in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile would have been very strained at best. All that has changed, I'd have to say for the better.

    There's also been effective change in East Asia. Despite vestigial paranoia over "Chicoms" we've managed to engage China as something other than an enemy. We've accepted and dealt with the emergence of several East Asian nations as fully developed states. We deal reasonably productively with ASEAN. We haven't solved the North Korea problem, but we've managed it, and not every problem has an immediate solution.

    Relations with Europe and the former Soviet states haven't always been ideal, but they have moved into a post Cold War phase without major transition problems. It's not realistic to expect that relations with everyone will always be smooth - interests diverge and there will always be tension - but there has been peace and in general the tensions have been managed.

    Obviously you can't attribute everything that has gone well in the world to an effective US transition out of the Cold War paradigm, just as you can't attribute everything that's gone badly to an ineffective or absent US transition out of the Cold War paradigm. In most of the world, though, we've managed to move past the Cold War without making a complete mess.

    Obviously there is a problem, and that problem effectively (though not universally) covers the area from Africa through the Middle East and on to Pakistan and the southern edge of the former Soviet sphere of influence. Again, I think the problem here is not that we're necessarily stuck in a Cold War rut, but that we've struggled to devise effective post-Cold War policies. That's not entirely our fault: it's a complicated area with enormous amounts of tension that have to be worked through, much of which is not a product of any US action or inaction. There's an abundance of complicating factors, including but not limited to oil, Islam, Israel, and a whole raft of colonial and Cold War legacies.

    I don't think our problem is being stuck in the Cold War, I think our problem is an inability to devise and execute realistic, achievable post-Cold War policies that are simultaneously consistent with US interests and aspirations and consistent with local interests and aspirations. That failure is disturbing but understandable: it's a thorny problem with no clear answer and an extraordinary range of possible unintended consequences to any proposed action or inaction. We don't have a magic wand that will resolve the area's problems, and neither does anyone else.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 06-04-2010 at 12:29 AM.

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    Dahayun:

    At the risk of sounding like a supporter for the Foreign Service, the real problems are structural/organizational. There are some bright and dedicated people in the foreign service, but there is a profound inadequacy of "breadth" of experience and training, and much "making it up as they go."

    But the problem, as with the big and never-ending diplomatic review, is the leadership and resource gap extending over the organization from above. How do you successfully take a relatively small group of specialized people trained in a very narrow and constraint organization, then assert their position (without resources and training) into huge and disparate goals?

    It's great, for example, that a bunch of senior management should push for responsibility in challenging civ-mil environments, but does no good if the organization, in reality, can't deliver on its end. The hard work of organizational change (to accomplish the bit-off missions) is even further hampered by inter-governmental squabbling for which they have succeeded at little.

    The "whole-of-government" thin, for example, is a race horse designed by committee in lieu of an actual Reconstruction/Stabilization Corps which congress would never actually fund for anything more than an unstaffed "coordinative" role. Whether State could ever properly manage such a task or structure (diplomacy AND development), which is the Congressional concern, is really an academic discussion because it was never funded.

    In the meantime, the tasks at home are outpacing the willingness to fund ANY further serious commitments overseas, so it will be interesting to watch, but, like KWs' approach of watch what they do, not what they say, that diplomacy, at best, may evolve to marginally different outward appearances, but really isn;t going to change much absent substantial leadership effort. Better to bet that it will rain tomorrow if it is raining today, than to bet that State will become something magically different in any hurry.

    Perhaps more effective to attack the training grounds (foreign service education, poli-sci education) and build incremental change, but there is no apparent shift of attitude there now.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default Addition to post above...

    Thought it worth adding that US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan illustrates the degree to which we've moved beyond Cold War thinking. In the Cold War we'd never have dreamed of holding an election in either place: we'd have cut a deal with some superficially agreeable general or warlord, let them take over (or simply dropped them in the Palace) and proceeded to blindly support them against the inevitable insurgency.

    We do things differently now... but the way we do them now hasn't been a resounding success either, a sobering reminder that simply rejecting a policy proven bad is no assurance that the new policy will be better. That's not a reason to stick with ways proven bad, but it suggests that new policies need a careful review with an eye toward real-world constraints.

    Some might say that American willingness to engage with authoritarian governments indicates a continued Cold War mentality. I'm not sure that's the case. Authoritarian governments exist, so we deal with them; we've neither the right nor the duty to run about overthrowing or undermining other governments simply because they are autocratic. Our Cold War ways were characterized not by engagement of authoritarian governments, but by promotion and outright creation of authoritarian governments, and by aggressive assistance of authoritarian governments threatened by popular unrest. That trend hasn't been eliminated completely, but it is much less prominent than it once was.

    At the risk of sounding like a supporter for the Foreign Service, the real problems are structural/organizational. There are some bright and dedicated people in the foreign service, but there is a profound inadequacy of "breadth" of experience and training, and much "making it up as they go."... Perhaps more effective to attack the training grounds (foreign service education, poli-sci education) and build incremental change, but there is no apparent shift of attitude there now.
    Those people exist, but you have to actively seek them out and recruit them. State doesn't; they limit themselves to people in that "traditional diplomat" mold. I don't think there's a need to revise pol sci education, that skill set is still needed. The need is to supplement the people with that skill set by bringing in a wider variety of skill sets to work along with the traditional diplomats.

    The "whole-of-government" thin, for example, is a race horse designed by committee in lieu of an actual Reconstruction/Stabilization Corps which congress would never actually fund for anything more than an unstaffed "coordinative" role. Whether State could ever properly manage such a task or structure (diplomacy AND development), which is the Congressional concern, is really an academic discussion because it was never funded.
    Reconstruction, Stabilization, and Development are clearly outside State's current capacity, suggetsing that we need to wither massively upgrade and redirect the capacity, establish a new agency, or refrain from taking on those tasks. Ideally, of course, such an agency would be multilateral, but there's little chance of that.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 06-04-2010 at 03:38 AM.

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    Dayahun:

    True, the people exist outside the system, but none exist within the self-regenerating system of diplomats hiring diplomats.

    In civilian planning, the first thing you learn to do is to understand and interpret the work of many different experts and specialists into any analysis. plan or program.

    Core diplomats are not trained to work in multi-specialist environments so they are left to stumble around.

    The foreign service is driven by a very rigid annual peer review process that, in so many ways is the core of it's weaknesses. You are not actually going to change anything in the foreign service until those annual peer reviewers understand and appreciate a junior doing something different than what they always did.

    Decades ago, the foreign service was a very different thing, and some of those oldsters are some really bright and effective folks who spent their lives (along with their families) deeply embedded in many different communities, but they are they are almost all gone through retirement.

    For many different reasons, the current foreign service is primarily drawn from a different well, and creates and perpetuates a very different ethos and culture. Changing that, with them, is the only path to changing the foreign service. There are some breakthrough/breakaway folks, but they don't get to a place to change things.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    An excellent argument for creating a different institution altogether to manage reconstruction and stabilization work, rather than expecting State and the military to do something neither have the training or inclination to do. Not likely to happen, though.

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    Right.

    Things America could do, might do, must do.

    Building an effective foreign reconstruction corps, to the regrets of many, is not in the must do column, and because of inter-agency competition and turf battles, never rises beyond could or might.

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    Default Foreign Service Culture

    Speaking from an insider perspective, the real problem with the Foreign Service is cultural. At the individual level, I would guess that somewhere between 50-75 percent of FSOs are hoping that Iraq and Afghanistan are temporary events that will go away so that State can return to the traditional diplomacy of dealing with nation states and Foreign Ministries. This attitude is reinforced at the organizational level by the fact that the Foreign Service is dominated by the regional bureaus, with the European Affairs Bureau (EUR) being the first among equals. The regional bureaus possess this power because they control assignments to the desirable and career-enhancing overseas postings at Embassies and Consulates.

    State has enhanced the incentives for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan service so that there is now a broader range of officers serving in these countries than the early Iraq and Afghanistan mix of inexperienced junior officers and senior officers enticed by the promise of an Ambassadorship. However, I suspect that for many officers it is primarily a ticket punch to enhance promotion prospects and a first-time experience in dealing with pol-mil issues and working in a conflict environment.

    State does have an office (S/CRS) that deals with reconstruction and stabilization and that possess probably the only real planning capability in the State Department. Because of bureaucratic turf issues, S/CRS has received only begrudging cooperation from the regional bureaus. S/CRS was blocked from involvement in Iraq, and was only able to get involved in Afghanistan due to an invitation from the military (to be specific - the 82nd Airborne ADC for Support) over the initial opposition of the Embassy in Kabul.

    Although it pains me (a little) to admit it, State probably is not capable of taking on the reconstruction and stabilization role. A stand-alone expeditionary corps is the logical solution but as others have noted it will never happen because of interagency turf issues.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    We don't need a State Department that:

    1. Only works with "States"

    2. Does CT

    3. Does COIN

    4. or does Stabilization and Reconstruction.

    We need a Foreign Office that leads the designs and implements foreign policy.

    The rest of that stuff largely falls under the same list of things that DoD is chasing as by products of having an outdated approach to foreign policy.

    The following list is not an assessment of Afghan Populace Perspective currently of their Government, but in many regards it could be. Enough so, in fact to give one pause:

    He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
    He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
    He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
    He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
    He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
    He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
    He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
    For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
    For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
    For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
    For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
    For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
    He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
    He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
    He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
    In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
    Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.


    (The above, is of course, a direct lift from the U.S. Declaration of Independence)
    Robert C. Jones
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    (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)

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    Bob: Touche!

    Pol-Mil: Right, its a deep cultural issue, and an open policy question as to whether Civ-Mil and R7S are, in fact, anything more than a temporary pick-up game, managed with limited resources on an ad hoc basis for the two assignments.

    At one point, I had hopes for the SRCS, but, after reading their year end report, realized they had no possible staffing or funding beyond the ten or so 30 day SRCS "visits" and "planning" exercises. As a planner who has spent plenty of time monitoring Afghanistan, I know enough to know what I don't know. Even using "all my skills and powers," I could not expect to drop in for 30 days and accomplish anything productive, other than just legitimizing and regurgitating the info I picked up from ground folks. Then flying away with no relevant involvement in implementation, feedback/responses, or learning by doing.

    We both know that there are some bright and capable folks in the FS, but (1) they need supplementation by other knowledge spheres; and (2) for them to reach beyond the present structure, activities, requires substantive changes in organization, resources, deployment, staffing and leadership/objectives. Not presently on the table.

    My professional experience, on the other hand, is in a multi-expertise environment (planning, development) where all specialized parties are routinely engaged and deployed, across a background of defined expertises, to specialized tasks in a much more effective manner than present FS/AID.

    Using better practices, in tune with 21st C. professional engagement techniques, and UN-style expert team deployments (not regular UN staffing), even the current FS/AID could accomplish much more than now, but that, too, isn't going to come from below.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pol-Mil FSO View Post
    Speaking from an insider perspective, the real problem with the Foreign Service is cultural.... This attitude is reinforced at the organizational level by the fact that the Foreign Service is dominated by the regional bureaus, with the European Affairs Bureau (EUR) being the first among equals.
    That's consistent with my observations... and I suspect that the eurocentric culture is going to cause us some problems down the line, not only in matters of stabilization and reconstruction. The rest of the world is becoming ever more significant, Europe is not the center of the universe, and we badly need to develop new peer-to-peer approaches to emerging nations that we once treated as subordinates, threats, or simply as irritations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pol-Mil FSO View Post
    Although it pains me (a little) to admit it, State probably is not capable of taking on the reconstruction and stabilization role. A stand-alone expeditionary corps is the logical solution but as others have noted it will never happen because of interagency turf issues.
    The ideal would be a multilateral agency, which could tap a wider range of expertise and avoid much of the baggage associated with direct American involvement... but of course that's even less likely to happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    1. Only works with "States"

    2. Does CT

    3. Does COIN

    4. or does Stabilization and Reconstruction.

    We need a Foreign Office that leads the designs and implements foreign policy.
    That's what State does. I think they could do it a lot better, but that will require new directions from above and a conscious attempt to change the culture within.

    State is at least theoretically equipped and tasked to develop and implement foreign policy. The military and to a lesser extent CIA are equipped and tasked to manage CT and COIN. Nobody is equipped and tasked to manage stabilization and reconstruction, so these tasks are simply ignored, or handed off piecemeal to those who have neither the capacity nor the inclination to perform them.

    I quite agree with your assessment of local perceptions of the Karzai government, but what to do about that problem remains a problem. Of course we can dump him and bail, but that almsot certainly means the return of the Taliban and of AQ, which would sacrifice the objective of the entire operation.

    This just underscores the difficulty of creating and installing governments in other countries. It's exceedingly difficult, and if the first go doesn't work you can't simply dissolve the government you've created and have another go. If it doesn't work as planned it's easy to end up strapped to a government that cannot stand, but which you cannot allow to fall. Bad place to be.

  17. #77
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default One more reason for "FID" over "COIN"

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    That's consistent with my observations... and I suspect that the eurocentric culture is going to cause us some problems down the line, not only in matters of stabilization and reconstruction. The rest of the world is becoming ever more significant, Europe is not the center of the universe, and we badly need to develop new peer-to-peer approaches to emerging nations that we once treated as subordinates, threats, or simply as irritations.



    The ideal would be a multilateral agency, which could tap a wider range of expertise and avoid much of the baggage associated with direct American involvement... but of course that's even less likely to happen.



    That's what State does. I think they could do it a lot better, but that will require new directions from above and a conscious attempt to change the culture within.

    State is at least theoretically equipped and tasked to develop and implement foreign policy. The military and to a lesser extent CIA are equipped and tasked to manage CT and COIN. Nobody is equipped and tasked to manage stabilization and reconstruction, so these tasks are simply ignored, or handed off piecemeal to those who have neither the capacity nor the inclination to perform them.

    I quite agree with your assessment of local perceptions of the Karzai government, but what to do about that problem remains a problem. Of course we can dump him and bail, but that almsot certainly means the return of the Taliban and of AQ, which would sacrifice the objective of the entire operation.

    This just underscores the difficulty of creating and installing governments in other countries. It's exceedingly difficult, and if the first go doesn't work you can't simply dissolve the government you've created and have another go. If it doesn't work as planned it's easy to end up strapped to a government that cannot stand, but which you cannot allow to fall. Bad place to be.
    COIN is an effort by a govenment to resolve an insurgency with a hard and fast condition of maintaining the current government in power. When we think we are doing COIN, we too fall into the trap of buying into the condition of maintaining the current government in power. The tactics of "Population-Centric COIN do nothing to alleviate our commitment to that dangerous condition.

    FID, on the other hand, creates enough intellectual maneuver room to allow a clearer perspective. When one appreciates that true success in COIN comes from addressing the perceptions of failure on the governments part within critical at risk segments of the populace, the FID actor can be more pragmatic. At the end of the day, the goal of FID is to preserve your national interests in a particular region and ANY government that is willing to work with you on those interests AND is also able to maintain stability among its populace is fine for your ends. This is what my work on Populace-Centric Engagement / Policy is about. It recgonizes our ends are best met by focusing on the needs of the populace, and not the needs of any particular government that happens to be in office.

    BLUF: If our current efforts in Afghanistan have somehow morphed to being tied to preserving a particular form of government, or even particular personnel in office, it has become dangerously flawed at a strategic level.
    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)

  18. #78
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    COIN is an effort by a govenment to resolve an insurgency with a hard and fast condition of maintaining the current government in power. When we think we are doing COIN, we too fall into the trap of buying into the condition of maintaining the current government in power. The tactics of "Population-Centric COIN do nothing to alleviate our commitment to that dangerous condition.

    FID, on the other hand, creates enough intellectual maneuver room to allow a clearer perspective. When one appreciates that true success in COIN comes from addressing the perceptions of failure on the governments part within critical at risk segments of the populace, the FID actor can be more pragmatic. At the end of the day, the goal of FID is to preserve your national interests in a particular region and ANY government that is willing to work with you on those interests AND is also able to maintain stability among its populace is fine for your ends. This is what my work on Populace-Centric Engagement / Policy is about. It recgonizes our ends are best met by focusing on the needs of the populace, and not the needs of any particular government that happens to be in office.
    I appreciate the distinction and fundamentally agree. What the distinction overlooks in this case is that the government in question is our creation. We designed it, we built it, and we have publicly declared it legitimate. Those realities do bind us to that government to a much greater degree than would be present if we had stepped into a pre-existing conflict to assist a pre-existing government.

    In theory, of course we could work with any government that is willing to work with us on our interests and is able to maintain stability among its populace. Realistically, our options are pretty limited. We cannot remove the Karzai government without completely de-legitimizing our involvement in the Afghan political process. If we cease to support the Karzai government and let it fall, it will almost certainly be replaced by a government that is totally unwilling to deal with us on anything.

    Back in the Cold War days we'd have dealt with this sort of situation by letting it be known in certain circles that we would be willing to deal with an internal coup carried out by someone willing to work with us. That didn't work out so well for the most part. It will be interesting to see what we come up with this time round. The current policy seems to be to shape the Karzai government into something other than what it is. I'm not at all convinced that we can accomplish that. If we don't, there are a very limited number of options available, and none of them are very appealing.

  19. #79
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default An Italian Afghan expert writes

    His viewpoint, afteryears of experience in country:
    The "Peace Jirgah" called by President Karzai convened amidst accusations that the process has being rigged. But rather than dismissing it as another government failure, Carlo Ungaro says it should be seen as an instrument to help reconcile respected and valid Afghan traditions to the country’s aspirations to be part of the modern family of nations.
    Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/carlo-u...ah-way-forward
    davidbfpo

  20. #80
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37865973...new_york_times

    Officers and enlisted soldiers and Marines, typically speaking on the condition of anonymity to protect their jobs, speak of “being handcuffed,” of not being trusted by their bosses and of being asked to battle a canny and vicious insurgency “in a fair fight.”

    Some rules meant to enshrine counterinsurgency principles into daily practices, they say, do not merely transfer risks away from civilians. They transfer risks away from the Taliban.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-23-2010 at 08:17 PM. Reason: Fix quote spacing
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

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