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Thread: Studies on radicalization & comments

  1. #61
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Frustrated Strivers in Pakistan Turn to Jihad

    An interesting angle on radicalisation in Pakistan entitled 'Frustrated Strivers in Pakistan Turn to Jihad':http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/wo...8youth.html?hp
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  2. #62
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default You don't understand what "Self-Determination" is

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    There are certainly strong metrics to suggest that current strategy is misguided... though the relationship between "GWOT" strategy and our economic issues is pretty tenuous. I'm not convinced that this strategy is built around a majority opinion on radicalization, though: it seems to me to have derived more from a poorly considered backlash after 9/11, an impulse that was exploited by a relative minority who had long believed that US military force could be used to reshape the Middle East.

    It seems to me that the fundamental flaw in current strategy was inaccurate assessment of capacity: we believed we could do things that we did not in fact have the capacity to do. We believed that we could remove governments, and we were right. We believed that we could quickly replace those governments with fully functioning alternatives that would be accepted by the various populaces involved, and we were wrong. We also significantly underestimated our antagonist's capacity to muster opposition to our operations in the countries involved.

    It seems to me that your proposal suffers from many of the same problems. You suggest that we can use the threat of withholding aid to move countries to govern better, satisfy their own populaces, and reduce the motivation for insurgencies that target both host nations and the US. For this to even be possible, 4 conditions have to be met:

    First, there has to be a government: we can't press a government to reform if there isn't one. Won't work in Somalia or in the various ungoverned spaces in our target areas.

    Second the government has to have the capacity to implement the reforms we want. If a government lacks the capacity to perform, pressing it to reform is like threatening to stop feeding a paraplegic who refuses to walk: all you get is starvation. Misgovernment is not always a consequence of willful neglect or exploitation by despots. It also happens when a weak or ineffectual central government is unable to control exploitive or abusive local clans, tribes, power brokers, military units, or other elements of a factionalized populace. I think you'd find that these conditions apply in a number of our target countries.

    Third, the government in question has to be dependent on US aid. Many of the countries involved are not. The insurgency in southern Thailand, for example, could certainly be resolved with reform, but the government does not rely on US aid and the threat of withholding aid is not likely to have any effect. We might want to influence the Saudis but we can't do it by withholding aid, because they don't get any aid from us, nor are they in any way dependent on us. Libya, Kuwait, Syria and Sudan are not on our aid list.

    Fourth, we have to apply pressure in a way that is not going to provoke a backlash against us. As I've said before, many countries are extremely sensitive to anything that could be perceived as American interference in domestic affairs, and our efforts are likely to be interpreted as self-interested meddling. Populaces are anything but uniform, and substantial parts of any given populace may see our pressure as an unwelcome threat. A country where a portion of the populace opposes the government may also have a portion of the populace that supports the government and resents are pressure. We've recently seen this problem in action: the US put its weight behind a fatally flawed "peace agreement" in the southern Philippines that was supposed to placate one restive segment of the populace, totally failing to anticipate the response of another segment of the populace. Good intentions are not necessarily interpreted as such by the intended beneficiaries. The road to hell, they say, is paved with 'em.



    After rather more than that, I don't see a connection. Correlation, perhaps, but no solid evidence of causation, and even the correlation is tenuous. Looking here:

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/jou...p/49-watts.pdf

    Ranking by foreign fighter intensity (fighters/100k Muslims) we see that by far the most intense sources of fighters are Libya and Saudi Arabia. Both countries face internal dissent, but in neither case has it reached a level that could credibly called insurgency. The Libyan government is hardly a creation or a tool of the US, and since neither country receives aid from the US it isn't likely that we can change their policies by withholding aid. In Saudi Arabia in particular any suggestion that we are applying pressure toward a move away from monarchy would almost certainly inspire far more resistance than sympathy among the populace.

    Next down the list we have Yemen. Substantial US aid, but it's very doubtful that the government has the capacity to initiate significant reform, and the most probable consequence of aid withdrawal is a collapse into full ungoverned-space status. Not a desirable outcome.

    Then we have Kuwait, Syria, Tunisia, Jordan... Kuwait and Syria aren't getting aid from us, no leverage there. Tunisia and Jordan, possibly, but now we're getting into environments where the number of foreign fighters is really pretty small and unlikely to be significantly influenced by the policies suggested.

    On top of all of this, where is the compelling evidence that foreign fighters are part of a populace driven to insurgency by misgovernment? Experience shows us that religious or ideological fervor, personal discontent, and testosterone can drive some individuals to violence in virtually any governance environment. There's a significant difference between distributed discontent and insurgency.



    Isn't self-determination one of our core values? Aren't we assuming that populaces want structures that allow for regular changes in government? Don't we tend to let our definitions of these values guide our evaluations of governance in other countries?

    Suppose we have a country where .05% of the population is radically disaffected and willing to use violence to express its disaffection, 30% are substantially discontent, may provide indirect support to violence but not participate, and the balance have some gripes but aren't all that opposed to the status quo. Are we going to come in and demand changes that may not satisfy even those who are angry... and who may want to see changes very different from those we are trying to promote?

    Certainly the desire to control can cause problems, but it's not the only cause. For much of the 1990s, when our current problems were brewing, our policies seemed driven less by a desire to control than by a desire to deny and ignore.
    Self-Determination is the ultimate form of Democracy, even if a populace chooses for itself complete dictatorship. The point being that the populace, through processes that they see as legitimate in their culture, chooses the form and make-up of government that THEY desire. This means free from outside shaping and manipulation.

    If the US still stood for the principles we claim so boldly to stand for, we would have embraced Hamas when chosen by the people of Palestine. But instead we rejected them because WE didn't like them. Hypocrisy.

    Whatever a populace believes is right for them is "self-determination." Tell me the populace, tell me the culture, that believes that it is better if some foreign body shapes their governance instead?? Is this American? Only so far as America is one country with the stones to put such bold empowering words into law. But the human principle is universal.
    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)

  3. #63
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Self-Determination is the ultimate form of Democracy, even if a populace chooses for itself complete dictatorship. The point being that the populace, through processes that they see as legitimate in their culture, chooses the form and make-up of government that THEY desire. This means free from outside shaping and manipulation.

    If the US still stood for the principles we claim so boldly to stand for, we would have embraced Hamas when chosen by the people of Palestine. But instead we rejected them because WE didn't like them. Hypocrisy.

    Whatever a populace believes is right for them is "self-determination." Tell me the populace, tell me the culture, that believes that it is better if some foreign body shapes their governance instead?? Is this American? Only so far as America is one country with the stones to put such bold empowering words into law. But the human principle is universal.

    Bob,

    You are absolutly right and that is why none of the liberation wars were won by the colonial forces, evem malaysia as the british did give independance.

    The ultimate question is: what if not elections?

    M-A

  4. #64
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Every culture is unique, embrace what process they have

    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Bob,

    You are absolutly right and that is why none of the liberation wars were won by the colonial forces, evem malaysia as the british did give independance.

    The ultimate question is: what if not elections?

    M-A
    Every culture has some process for selecting leaders. Many may not have the same hierarchy, but one can probably expand the hierarchy of an existing system more effectively than they can scrap an existing system and replace it with our own.

    For example, the Sioux Indians had no concept of a single over-arching "Chief," but they had a very sophisticated and effective form of council-based governance with a variety of leaders in a system that worked for them. We needed one guy to sign treaties, so we picked on. Predictably, disastrous results came of that. We created an "official" system of governance, but it was not a "legitimate" system as well. Ideally we would want both; but if you can only have one, you want Legitimate.

    The problem with legitimate is that it implies "free from outside influence and manipulation." Big problem there for the good Cold Warriors, as "containment" was rooted in controlling the periphery; so we have become used to sacrificing legitimacy in favor of official all in the name of containment.

    I think that model is obsolete, and the current "GWOT" is essentially the popular backlash to such manipulation of governance.

    In Afghanistan they have system of Shuras and Jirgas with Village, Tribal and Religious leaders all feeding into it. Since the mid 1700s they have used this to create national governance as well (National Afghan-style, not Western-style). I would recommend enforcing and enabling the systems that already exist within a culture. Sometimes these systems get damaged by outside interference or internal manipulation. Returning to the roots of what works for a culture is more apt to produce "legitimacy" than a wholesale replacement by outsiders with a foreign system.

    I believe that we will learn that we can be even more successful fostering and working with Legitimate governments than we ever were in working with those that we had manipulated to merely being "Official."
    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)

  5. #65
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Every culture has some process for selecting leaders. Many may not have the same hierarchy, but one can probably expand the hierarchy of an existing system more effectively than they can scrap an existing system and replace it with our own.

    For example, the Sioux Indians had no concept of a single over-arching "Chief," but they had a very sophisticated and effective form of council-based governance with a variety of leaders in a system that worked for them. We needed one guy to sign treaties, so we picked on. Predictably, disastrous results came of that. We created an "official" system of governance, but it was not a "legitimate" system as well. Ideally we would want both; but if you can only have one, you want Legitimate.

    The problem with legitimate is that it implies "free from outside influence and manipulation." Big problem there for the good Cold Warriors, as "containment" was rooted in controlling the periphery; so we have become used to sacrificing legitimacy in favor of official all in the name of containment.

    I think that model is obsolete, and the current "GWOT" is essentially the popular backlash to such manipulation of governance.

    In Afghanistan they have system of Shuras and Jirgas with Village, Tribal and Religious leaders all feeding into it. Since the mid 1700s they have used this to create national governance as well (National Afghan-style, not Western-style). I would recommend enforcing and enabling the systems that already exist within a culture. Sometimes these systems get damaged by outside interference or internal manipulation. Returning to the roots of what works for a culture is more apt to produce "legitimacy" than a wholesale replacement by outsiders with a foreign system.

    I believe that we will learn that we can be even more successful fostering and working with Legitimate governments than we ever were in working with those that we had manipulated to merely being "Official."
    I do agree but (As there is always a “but”) then we have separate problematic that do affect stabilization operations or build or what ever phase.

    First, as you pointed it, there is this need to have an interlocutor whose similar to us (by us, I hear weberian like governments). This has been pointed by many, including Kilcullen, and denounced by several anthropologists. This shows a difficulty from our side to adapt after the cold war consensus on “democracies victory”. If we won, this implies that our form of governance is better, even the only one legitimate and sustainable.

    Then, the example of Afghanistan is interesting in the sense that the constitution was debated through a large council based on cultural researches and cultural approach to form a new government. I remember that at a point some were talking about bringing back a Kingdome in place.
    Apparently, the cultural approach failed to bring a culturally endorsed and accepted form of governance. One of the main obstacle being the non recognition of such form of centralised governance (the weberian state) by at least a part of the cultural assembly and more precisely the religious part of it, but not only.
    One of the hiccups may lay in the fact that cultural approach has been used, up to now, to find a way to impose weberian state by making it culturally attractive or at least acceptable. Rather than using culture studies to dig out governance mechanisms, it has been used to prove that there were pre democratic practices in a defined culture. And use them as levier to impose a governance copycat system.
    The second one lay with us. Basically a “president” needs an interlocutor and not a complex group of leaders that he needs to talk with. And that is may be our biggest weakness in countries as Afghanistan as it leads us to not imagine any other forms of governance and administration.
    On the other hand, post communist/neo communist/ extreme liberal see in the weberian state the most powerful revolutionary governance concept. They justify it through it success through history and both communist and capitalist form of governance. According to them, radical Islam, by rejecting the weberian state, is then doomed. So, by imposing the weberian state we do provoke an ineluctable mutation of the governance to which populations are ineluctably leading their leaders.
    This may be also part of the narrative concept of justification…

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans

    An academic study pub. Jan. 2010 'Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans', which I found intriguing and here is the opening paragraph:
    In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and subsequent terrorist attacks elsewhere around the world, a key counterterrorism concern is the possible radicalization of Muslims living in the United States. Yet, the record over the past eight years contains relatively few examples of Muslim-Americans that have radicalized and turned toward violent extremism. This project seeks to explain this encouraging result by identifying characteristics and practices in the Muslim-American community that are preventing radicalization and violence.
    Link:http://www.sanford.duke.edu/news/Sch...or_Lessons.pdf
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Every culture has some process for selecting leaders. Many may not have the same hierarchy, but one can probably expand the hierarchy of an existing system more effectively than they can scrap an existing system and replace it with our own.

    For example, the Sioux Indians had no concept of a single over-arching "Chief," but they had a very sophisticated and effective form of council-based governance with a variety of leaders in a system that worked for them. We needed one guy to sign treaties, so we picked on. Predictably, disastrous results came of that. We created an "official" system of governance, but it was not a "legitimate" system as well. Ideally we would want both; but if you can only have one, you want Legitimate....

    In Afghanistan they have system of Shuras and Jirgas with Village, Tribal and Religious leaders all feeding into it. Since the mid 1700s they have used this to create national governance as well (National Afghan-style, not Western-style). I would recommend enforcing and enabling the systems that already exist within a culture. Sometimes these systems get damaged by outside interference or internal manipulation. Returning to the roots of what works for a culture is more apt to produce "legitimacy" than a wholesale replacement by outsiders with a foreign system.

    I believe that we will learn that we can be even more successful fostering and working with Legitimate governments than we ever were in working with those that we had manipulated to merely being "Official."
    I pretty much agree, and certainly in Afghanistan I think the system of shura and jirga would have made the strongest basis for a new government. It seems to me that in both Iraq and Afghanistan our method of establishing new governments was targeted mainly at perceptions of legitimacy among our populace and among our allies, not at the local perception of legitimacy. Our people wanted to see the immediate establishment of a centralized government that we could recognize as a government, established in a way that our people perceived as legitimate.

    Unfortunately, once you start down that road it's not easy to reverse course, and now that we've put our backing behind these processes and the resulting governments it is going to be extraordinarily difficult to change our approach. It's not as if we can announce that the whole idea was a mistake, and now we're going to remove this government and give them another. We can of course withdraw support, let the government fall, and try to work with the successor, but there's no assurance that the successor would have any interest in working with us, and there's a good chance, at least in Afghanistan, that this would mean a return to the same circumstances that generated our intervention in the first place. It's not an easy situation and I don't see any advantageous way out of it, but we made the bed and one way or another we're gonna lie in it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The problem with legitimate is that it implies "free from outside influence and manipulation." Big problem there for the good Cold Warriors, as "containment" was rooted in controlling the periphery; so we have become used to sacrificing legitimacy in favor of official all in the name of containment.

    I think that model is obsolete, and the current "GWOT" is essentially the popular backlash to such manipulation of governance.
    Can't entirely agree with that, not least because I don't think there is really a "GWOT". There's a whole raft of factors involved, and I don't see any single overarching explanation that can cover the range of phenomena that we're facing. Barnett's hypothesis of reactionary backlash against the changes implicit in modernization and globalization is part of the picture, as is the Bernard Lewis observation of "aggressive self-pity" rising out of the whole history of Islamic decline, of which US policy is but a small part. Groups like AQ ride on locat conflicts that are driven primarily by local issues, just as the 3rd world communist movements of the cold war gained traction by riding on local conflicts based on local, not global, issues.

    Also worth noting that self-determination is not simply a factor of us not taking control. There are other outside influences in play in virtually every conflict on the planet, and many are even less sympathetic to true self determination than we are. A power vacuum does not necessarily mean that traditional means of selecting a government will prevail. Often the response to a power vacuum is simply that whoever can muster the largest armed force takes over, kicks the stuffing out of everyone else, and imposes their own rules. Governments like that of Sadddam's Iraq, Qaddafi's Libya, or for that matter like the Taliban's in Afghanistan were not imposed by foreign powers, but the level of self-determination enjoyed by their citizens is debatable.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 03-05-2010 at 12:55 AM.

  8. #68
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    Bob:

    Brilliant:

    In Afghanistan they have system of Shuras and Jirgas with Village, Tribal and Religious leaders all feeding into it. Since the mid 1700s they have used this to create national governance as well (National Afghan-style, not Western-style). I would recommend enforcing and enabling the systems that already exist within a culture. Sometimes these systems get damaged by outside interference or internal manipulation. Returning to the roots of what works for a culture is more apt to produce "legitimacy" than a wholesale replacement by outsiders with a foreign system.
    The problem, as I have heard from a very few wise folks, is that the problem is in the Constitution, pushed by us, and adopted by a few under pressure without deep understanding.

    Now, the have tried it, and the problems in implementation are evident.

    As a dumb Marylander, I know that our state constitution actually provides for a diversity of county, town, and special area/purpose governance structures. There are three hierarchies of County forms (from virtual autonomy to minimal), and every manner of municipality (big cities, six person towns), and tons of special purpose, regional and multi-regional formal regulatory structures. If you are bored, you can always go to a local school board meeting, or County zoning committee, or formal community association with special tax district authority.

    How could anybody believe that Afghanistan could not be the same way. Our overly-simplified one step approach for "other" countries never could have worked here, and won't work anywhere else.

    How to facilitate systems that can work, and are deeply embedded in the Urf of what is known?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-05-2010 at 06:25 AM. Reason: Add quote marks

  9. #69
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    There are always many ways to achieve any given effect, and what works great in one circumstance may be a complete failure in another. But if one has achieved an understanding of the essence of the problem, then they can tailor their approaches accordingly. This has always been my personal approach to problem solving, and one that we have applied in the Strategy Division at USSOCOM over the past couple of years as well. Personally, I feel that the most useful form of "strategy" is not one of generating ever more vague guidance for ever higher headquarters (like I learned at the War College...) but rather to dive into a problem, peeling back the layers to seek fundamental understanding that can be employed by leaders AT ALL LEVELS of command to achieve effects that collectively contribute to the ultimate strategic effect that one is seeking.

    A simple example: the 2-minute push-up event on the Army fitness test. Over the course of my career I have met so many soldiers who "just can't do push-ups." These soldiers are often very motivated, and want to excel, and have read the dozens of articles published by various people who max the test that offer specific work out programs that worked for the author, but not for the frustrated soldier who ultimately resigns him or herself to "not being able to do push-ups."

    I thought about this a lot as an LT. "Why” I asked. Not "how." When one shifts their focus from how to why, they are, I believe on a longer journey, but one that will ultimately get them to a much more universally effective answer to the "how" question.

    The answer I ultimately came to on this little problem was simply "train for the second minute." As I asked those who couldn't do push-ups how they trained, and then compared that to workout that were generally more successful, and my own personal experience, I came to realize that most people who "just couldn't do push-ups" were constantly replicating the conditions of the first minute of the test in their training programs. You don't max your push-ups in the first minute, it is the ability to do push-ups in the second minute that earns the high score.

    Based on this simple concept I developed a couple of example workouts (that I still use to this day for three or four weeks prior to an APFT in lieu of my normal workouts that I use to prepare for life rather than a silly test that doesn't really do that very well) and would simply advise people to train for the second minute, why, point out how their current program doesn't to that, and then offer them a couple examples, but also urge them to find what works for them personally, so long as it follows the second minute principle. Many soldiers who could never do push-ups now do them very well, because they were given a little understanding and encouragement, and then allowed to find their own path to success.

    Governance is not unlike this. My one liner there is "Ensure the governance is seen as legitimate in the eyes of the governed." For some cultures an election will create this. For others it comes from some form of councils. For others it may be as simple as a single religious leader saying "this is the guy." Who are we to judge??

    We need to judge less, and understand more. Principles are pure, but values are principles with a judgment applied to them. We tend to push values over principles, and no one I know likes to be judged.

    When the military is tasked to assist with an insurgency the first questions go to "how do I defeat the insurgent?" I would offer that the first questions should go to "why is there an insurgency?" What I find is that it can almost always be traced back to governance that lacks legitimacy in the eyes of most, or at least some key segment of its populace.

    Afghanistan has suffered under nearly 30 years of illegitimate government. Address that first, and the rest will follow. Ignore it, and no amount of good COIN tactics and hard effort are likely to produce more than temporary suppression of the symptoms of the insurgency.


    But this is just what I have come to in my own personal journey. Maybe just killing all who dare to challenge the government is enough. Maybe if a government is effective enough the populace will ignore its lack of legitimacy. Maybe. But I don't buy it.

    I think that Gen McCrystal's plan for the military in Afghanistan is sound. I have far less confidence in policy decisions that are still rooted in a belief that "official" is good enough. The people of Afghanistan deserve a government that is legitimate as well. And truth be told, it probably would not look much different than what they have now, but it is how it is perceived that matters.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 03-05-2010 at 04:08 AM.
    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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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Governance is not unlike this. My one liner there is "Ensure the governance is seen as legitimate in the eyes of the governed."
    Is it possible for us to ensure the legitimacy of someone else's government?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    When the military is tasked to assist with an insurgency the first questions go to "how do I defeat the insurgent?" I would offer that the first questions should go to "why is there an insurgency?" What I find is that it can almost always be traced back to governance that lacks legitimacy in the eyes of most, or at least some key segment of its populace.
    In this case I would have to say that the "insurgency" does not trace back to "governance that lacks legitimacy in the eyes of most, or at least some key segment of its populace". It traces back to invasion, conquest, and occupation by a foreign power. The insurgency was not generated by resentment against the Karzai government, it was (like the Karzai government) a consequence of our intervention.

    We didn't go to Afghanistan to support a government against insurgents. We went there to remove a government that gave aid and shelter to people who attacked us. For that reason, an acceptable end state for us is not only the presence of a legitimate government, but the presence of a legitimate government that does not harbor our enemies. If we arrive at a legitimate government by sacrificing the objective that brought us there in the first place, we haven't accomplished anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Afghanistan has suffered under nearly 30 years of illegitimate government. Address that first, and the rest will follow. Ignore it, and no amount of good COIN tactics and hard effort are likely to produce more than temporary suppression of the symptoms of the insurgency.
    I agree. Unfortunately, our initial efforts to create a government in Afghanistan were undertaken by an administration that was under fire on the home front and internationally, and our actions were calculated not to establish legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghans but to establish legitimacy in the eyes of our own populace and an international audience. That has led us to a pretty uncomfortable place. The next obvious question: how do we get from where we are now to where we want to be? Having put the weight of our approval and support behind a government and a process that were not appropriate to the environment where we were operating, how - short of going back in time and doing it all differently - do we undo what we've done and move back to some course that has some reasonable chance of generating a legitimate government that has reasonable prospects of surviving and that will not give aid and comfort to our enemies?

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yes and No.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Is it possible for us to ensure the legitimacy of someone else's government?
    That would be, IMO, the 'No.'
    ...our actions were calculated not to establish legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghans but to establish legitimacy in the eyes of our own populace and an international audience.
    That would be the 'yes', with a tag-on that the bulk of our political effort is always expended internally; our domestic politics drive our international actions to a very significant extent -- and to the confusion of the rest of the world.

    This is the crux of the issue:
    ...how - short of going back in time and doing it all differently - do we undo what we've done and move back to some course that has some reasonable chance of generating a legitimate government that has reasonable prospects of surviving and that will not give aid and comfort to our enemies?
    It shows the flaw of predicating international action on domestic party politics -- a condition that is unlikely to change in the near term. However, it deserves an answer and that answer has to unhappily be that we cannot. We will leave and what happens will happen. It will not all be for naught but it will have been far more costly in all terms than it needed to be simply because we ignored your first question and the US domestic concern drove the second ...

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    I have to disagree that once one makes a mistake they are simply doomed to failure.

    I also have to disagree that the US invasion of Afghanistan is the causation of the current insurgency. I would argue that it is the US installation and continued support of a government that is globally perceived as illegitimate that is the causation of the insurgency. If we would have enabled (yes, you can indeed enable a populace's legitimate processes to form governance and select leaders. It only becomes illegitimate if you also try to shape outcomes, or some other ways meddle with the process) legitimate local processes we would not have had this problem.

    So, DOD does not need to develop a time machine to accomplish the mission in Afghanistan. It merely needs to recognize that step one to true success is to force the GIROA hand on the legitimacy issue. Mr. Karzai has claimed he wants to hold a "Peace Jirga." Frankly, I believe he is bluffing and wants nothing of the kind, but I say call his bluff. He would far rather we conduct elections that he an easily manipulate and keep all his buddies in the plump positions; while we expend our national blood and treasure feeding his ponzi scheme and protecting him from popular backlash.

    A grand Loya Jirga conducted in Kandahar City, open to traditional representatives from across Afghanistan, coming together to address the creation of a legitimate government. I will probably look much like the current one, but could look very different; but if done correctly would, I believe, take the starch out of the "Big T" Taliban revolutionary insurgency (about 10%), which in turn will allow the Coalition to begin ramping down, which will take the starch out of the "little t" taliban resistance insurgency.

    The critical task is that the west must not manipulate the results, and must commit to recognize and work with whatever and whomever emerges. Good Cold Warriors choke on that one. They might well choke to death on it. There is little room for Cold War strategy here. We will not "contain" AQ in Pakistan by manipulating governance in Afghanistan. Trust me.

    But by changing our approach to Muslim populaces in countries like Afghanistan, we will disempower AQ over time and render them moot.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 03-06-2010 at 05:32 PM.
    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)

  13. #73
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I don't believe anyone said that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I have to disagree that once one makes a mistake they are simply doomed to failure.
    I sure didn't.
    I also have to disagree that the US invasion of Afghanistan is the causation of the current insurgency. I would argue that it is the US installation and continued support of a government that is globally perceived as illegitimate that is the causation of the insurgency...we would not have had this problem.
    That's possible but far from certain.
    So, DOD does not need to develop a time machine to accomplish the mission in Afghanistan.
    Is that DoD's call? I think not.
    A grand Loya Jirga conducted in Kandahar City, open to traditional representatives from across Afghanistan, coming together to address the creation of a legitimate government. I will probably look much like the current one, but could look very different...
    You will? Will your wife still recognize you?
    But by changing our approach to Muslim populaces in countries like Afghanistan, we will disempower AQ over time and render them moot.
    True, we'll get there -- may not do it your way or mine but it will happen...

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Ok, a couple of typos. I was tired. "It will look much like the current..."

    Agree completely that DoD needs to get out of the lead on this; as does the coalition. But we are all so fearful of what will happen if we do the right thing, that we instead cling desperately to the wrong thing.

    I've said it before, but we need to confront our fears as a Nation; and it is not a fear of terrorists or even of other nations. It is a fear of who we will be if we relinquish the role of controling outcomes.

    Why is our military so budget-crushing big compared to other states? To fight the wars that might occur? No. It is so damn big and committed to so many big ticket programs to control the peace

    If we relinquish the "control" task as the essential one, we could then build a foreign policy and defense department that are designed to maintain the peace; and to win our naiton's wars. That is a very different thing altogether. For my one vote, a better thing as well.
    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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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Talking I know. Cheap shot by me -- too good to pass...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Ok, a couple of typos. I was tired. "It will look much like the current..."
    AR 600-8-22, 11 Dec 2006, Para 8-49. k (1) says SF Colonels ain't authorized to be tired...

    However, given you are where you are, we can waive that.
    If we relinquish the "control" task as the essential one, we could then build a foreign policy and defense department that are designed to maintain the peace; and to win our naiton's wars. That is a very different thing altogether. For my one vote, a better thing as well.
    I'll vote for that.

  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I have to disagree that once one makes a mistake they are simply doomed to failure.
    I didn't say that... but some of the mistakes made in Afghanistan have certainly made success (which was never going to easy) far more remote and failure far more likely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I also have to disagree that the US invasion of Afghanistan is the causation of the current insurgency. I would argue that it is the US installation and continued support of a government that is globally perceived as illegitimate that is the causation of the insurgency. If we would have enabled (yes, you can indeed enable a populace's legitimate processes to form governance and select leaders. It only becomes illegitimate if you also try to shape outcomes, or some other ways meddle with the process) legitimate local processes we would not have had this problem.
    I'm not sure that global perceptions mean much. It's Afghan perceptions that count, and it appears that to many Afghans our presence is precisely what deprives the Government of legitimacy. If large portions of a populace see foreign efforts to enable as an inherently de-legitimizing factor, the outcome of anything we do will be seen as illegitimate simply because it was we who did it.

    It also has to be noted that we do have a stake in at least one facet of the outcome: the question of whether AQ will be able to use Afghanistan as a refuge and a base. If that interest is illegitimate, then our entire presence there has been illegitimate from the start, because that's why we're there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    So, DOD does not need to develop a time machine to accomplish the mission in Afghanistan. It merely needs to recognize that step one to true success is to force the GIROA hand on the legitimacy issue. Mr. Karzai has claimed he wants to hold a "Peace Jirga." Frankly, I believe he is bluffing and wants nothing of the kind, but I say call his bluff. He would far rather we conduct elections that he an easily manipulate and keep all his buddies in the plump positions; while we expend our national blood and treasure feeding his ponzi scheme and protecting him from popular backlash.

    A grand Loya Jirga conducted in Kandahar City, open to traditional representatives from across Afghanistan, coming together to address the creation of a legitimate government.
    I'm not sure we have the capacity to force the GIROA to dissolve itself and hold a Loya Jirga to create a new government. Afghanistan has a Constitution - adopted by a Loya Jirga, I believe. Does it provide for an outside power demanding a new government? Are we proposing to tell the Afghans that WE have decided that what that Loya Jirga did was no good, this constitution is no good, this government isn't working, and WE want a new Loya Jirga to select a new government? Do we propose the toss the entire edifice that we helped to establish, because WE aren't happy with what it's done? Somehow I don't think that's going to be interpreted as us relinquishing control.

    Of course Karzai isn't going to hold any kind of assembly that could remove him from power. I expect he'd like to stage a sort of grand consultation, packed with delegates that support him, and use it to reinforce himself. If we try to stop him, we are effectively asserting ourselves as the real governing power in Afghanistan, which is more likely to enable the insurgency than to disable it.

    I've said it before, but we need to confront our fears as a Nation; and it is not a fear of terrorists or even of other nations. It is a fear of who we will be if we relinquish the role of controling outcomes.

    Why is our military so budget-crushing big compared to other states? To fight the wars that might occur? No. It is so damn big and committed to so many big ticket programs to control the peace
    If we've been paying all that money to control the peace, or to control anything, we've gotten a very raw deal, because when you get right down to it, what have we actually controlled? Between, say, the end of the Cold War and 9/11, did we ever control a Muslim country? If we did it must have been very briefly and under cover of absolute darkness, because I sure didn't notice it. Even during the Cold War we were manipulated more effectively and more consistently than we manipulated others: how many dictators discovered to their delight that they could unlock the US Treasury simply by shouting the word "Communist"?

    Though much of the 90s our policy was not to control, but rather to avoid, deny, and kick as many problems as possible down the road for others to deal with. Once the Soviets were out of Afghanistan we forgot the place existed. We let the UN take the lead in Iraq, and ended up with a stagnant stalemate - we may or may not have had a better alternative, but we certainly didn't try to take control. When AQ first attacked us our response was not to seek control, but to fire off a few cruise missiles and go back to watching the Nasdaq.

    Not saying I'm in favor of the control passion, but I'm not convinced that it's the sole cause of our current problems. There's a fair blend of causes at play, and I think we're deceiving ourselves if we choose to see the problems purely as a response to our actions. The other parties involved do not merely respond, they can and do actively initiate actions in pursuit of their own agenda.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 03-07-2010 at 11:40 AM.

  17. #77
    Council Member Spud's Avatar
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    Default Bit late but ...

    Hi guys

    haven't been on for a while but thought this might add to the discussion if you can find it.

    I recently used a paper from American Psychologist to expand on a concept I had about public diplomacy/influence. Found the paper really useful and quite easy to understand.

    Reference is: Moghaddam, Fathali M, 2005. “The Staircase to Terrorism,” American Psychologist, Vol 60, No 2.

    Bit from my paper

    Psychologist Fathali Moghaddam sought to develop better understanding of the cognitive reasoning and psychological processes that lead to terrorism in a 2005 paper. Moghaddam’s Staircase to Terrorism model focuses on the perceptions of the individual at each stage and utilises a staircase metaphor to highlight the options open to the affected individual. His work is particularly important in that through the use of the model it clearly identifies points of intervention at which an individual can be persuaded from ascending to the next level. While worldview is the predominant manifestation of perception throughout the staircase model, it is not until an individual ascends to the third floor that that they develop a moral complicity with terrorism. Moghaddam believes that entry to the third floor of his model is last point at which intervention will prevent ascendency to the conduct of a terrorist act. Whether a person reaches the fifth floor and commits to destructive acts of terrorism is still open to external influences. By entering the third floor of the terrorism staircase a person’s worldview statement transforms from one of perceived grievances towards one of fundamentalist reality – the person becomes morally engaged with the narrative that underpins the cause. Importantly it is also at this point that increased isolationism to external factors becomes the norm and through this action the potential terrorist gains greater cultural consensus for their thoughts by excluding competing ideals. Widening the cultural information basis may prevent the limiting of group consensus. However once a potential terrorist enter the fourth floor and enters the secret world of an active terrorist organisation Moghaddam argues that “there is little or no opportunity to exit alive.” At this point the impact of any influence strategy is negligible and the focus shifts to law enforcement or counter-terrorism solutions. In the “war of ideas” focussing on root causes, often as Moghaddam identifies “perceptions of fairness,” may offer a key element of a Strategic Communications program. Moghaddam expands the communication requirement further by highlighting that ascension from the first to second floor is often precipitated by a lack of participation or engagement in decision making on justice issues. He also argues the importance of cultural understanding during this early stage of terrorism. He found that “when local cultural interpretations lead to a view that the in-group is being treated fairly, there is greater likelihood of support for central authorities.” Maintaining linkages with the widest possible cultural group then seems a pertinent course of action.
    Another decent read was:

    Halverschied, Susanne & Witte, Erich H, 2008. “Justification of War and Terrorism: A Comparative Case Study Analyzing Ethical Positions Based on Prescriptive Attribution Theory,” Social Psychology, Hogrefe & Huber Publishers. Vol 39(1). p 26-36.

  18. #78
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    "In the “war of ideas” focussing on root causes, often as Moghaddam identifies “perceptions of fairness,” may offer a key element of a Strategic Communications program."

    This ia an area where we are in complete agreement.
    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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    Posted by Bob's World
    The problem with legitimate is that it implies "free from outside influence and manipulation." Big problem there for the good Cold Warriors, as "containment" was rooted in controlling the periphery; so we have become used to sacrificing legitimacy in favor of official all in the name of containment.
    B.W. I think you tend to conflate issues at times. This particular thread was focused on counter radicalization. While the term radicalization is problematic to say the least, the practice of undoing the harmful effects of brainwashing have been practiced throughout history with mixed results. If you look at the process that is used to convince people to become suicide bombers it is a very skillful approach (often enhanced with the use of drugs) to get a subject to commit suicide (thus become a useful idiot to some group).

    I guess you can call this individual choice, or more accurately you could label it as maligned outside influence (actors from outside his/her previous social circles) that are hunting the psychologically vulnerable. Is it really self choice? Maybe as much as it is for a kid to join a gang, start taking meth, etc., but that sure as hell doesn't make it legitimate.

    Our ability to describe the problem is weak to say the least, and I largely blame SOCOM for coming up with crap ways to define the problem. Take the hard thinking role away from the military and let the political anthropologists take a whack at defining the problem we're trying to solve. Preventing brain washing by sects is one approach, as is "attempting" to heal those who been brainwashed (what SOCOM calls VEO members). However, there is a big difference between a kid who has been isolated, drugged, and feed Islamic dogma to prepare hiim for a sucide mission, and an insurgent. SOCOM lumps them all conveniently into the VEO category.

  20. #80
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Default Fyi:

    Quote Originally Posted by Spud View Post
    haven't been on for a while but thought this might add to the discussion if you can find it.

    I recently used a paper from American Psychologist to expand on a concept I had about public diplomacy/influence. Found the paper really useful and quite easy to understand.

    Reference is: Moghaddam, Fathali M, 2005. “The Staircase to Terrorism,” American Psychologist, Vol 60, No 2.
    PDF of the article and additional work available on the Professors webpage.

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