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  1. #26
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    May 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Certainly doing nothing is always an option, and probably more often than we would like admit, the best one. It means relinquishing control of outcomes though, and that makes us nervous.
    On this we agree. We also desperately need to accept that in most cases our ability to influence the internal affairs of other countries is quite limited.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    What I offer is an alternative to current perspectives on engagement. One based in recognizing that it is governments that cause insurgency, and not insurgents that cause insurgency.
    This is in most cases true, though as with any blanket statement there will be exceptions and variations on the rule. It would be an important issue if insurgency were our problem. However, except where we have created insurgencies by removing governments and trying to model their successors according to our preference, we don’t have an insurgency problem. Except for the insurgencies we created, there isn’t an insurgency on the planet that would require a significant US combat commitment, or where a significant US combat commitment would be desirable.

    We need to keep in mind that AQ – our enemy – is not an insurgency, and doesn’t truly thrive on insurgency unless that insurgency is directed against a foreign invader in Muslim territory. AQ has only flourished when foreign intervention has been present, which is why they were so desperate to provoke the US into direct military engagement in the Muslim world. They have endured where they have had sympathetic governments: under the Taliban in Afghanistan and to some extent in the Sudan. They have established presences where government has been absent or ineffectual, as in Somalia or Yemen. Their attempts to marshal insurgency against established governments have done very badly, not because those governments are popular or good, but because populaces generally have not seen government by AQ or their ilk as an acceptable alternative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    All engagement is not however inherently bad. It is possible to help people to get to a better place through wise, tailored engagement that never forgets where we fit into the equation as an outside party.
    I’d rather say “where or whether we fit into the equation”. The example you gave above represents to me a fairly obvious case of inserting ourselves into an equation where we have no reasonable place: we cannot run around conducting UW against governments because we don’t approve of the way they handle relations with their populaces.

    We also have to remember that in many of the cases involved, government, populace, and insurgents all view us on a fundamental level as a dangerous, acquisitive power that is fundamentally hostile toward people of their religion and/or ethnicity and is bent on gaining control over their land and resources. Whether or not this perception is accurate is irrelevant, it exists and as long as it exists our intervention is going to be rejected by all parties no matter how good our intentions are… and we all know where the road paved with good intentions leads. Our ability to fit into these equations is directly related to the perception the affected populace has of us, and that generally isn't very positive these days. We may be able to improve that erception, but it will require many years and we aren't going to do it by forcing ourselves onto other people's problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I always bring this back to our own experience as I believe most Americans can empathize with other Americans better than they can with others; and also because what we are primarily taliking about are American approaches that are presumably cast within a context of the American ethos that was shaped back in the 1700s.
    If we proposed to intervene in the America of the 1700s, this would be very useful. The environments in which we propose to intervene are unique and something other than 1700s America, and while the solutions we developed for ourselves worked very well for us, the degree to which they are appropriate to other people’s problems may be limited… and our right to impose solutions on other people’s problems is even more limited.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 10-01-2010 at 06:52 AM.

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