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Thread: Horn of Africa historical (pre-2011): catch all thread

  1. #141
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    Default wanna be startin' somethin' - RE: the next "small war"

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    hey.
    I hope to get some discussion going on our next "war," the one in Somalia.

    I consider our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan to be military successes, but overall failures. Reason: we divorced politics from the martial, and lost sight of Mission, Vision, Values. Our Prussian patron would disapprove.

    I've collaborated with two sanctioned authors, TX and Janine, before she became Madam Deputy Assistant Secretary, on the Global Strategic Assessment 2009 published by INSS, NDU.
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    Loser.

    I don't like the term "long war;" these aren't really wars in the historical sense. But our next one, whatever we call it, will be in the Lower Shabelle, and Garacaad.
    Maybe instead of focusing exclusively on explaining why, despite the evidence, we haven't lost the first two, we can shape strategy so that #3 is actually winnable.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Well, I won't hold against you the collaboration with

    Hammes or losing a suit. I won't even argue that we will not go to Somalia.. I will state that we should not simply because there is no important US interest at stake that cannot be better sorted in other ways.

    We 'lost' the first two in one sense because we decided to stay; as to whether we really lost -- way too early to tell. Check back in 2030 or so. Even that may be too soon...

    So rather than going directly to shaping the "... strategy so that #3 is actually winnable" why not tell us why we should commit forces there and should have a strategy element that says that's necessary, much less a good idea?
    Last edited by Ken White; 04-18-2010 at 04:33 AM. Reason: Typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I won't even argue that we will not go to Somalia.. I will state that we should not simply because there is no important US interest at stake that cannot be better sorted in other ways.
    Agreed. In fact, it is rather hard to think of a US interest that wouldn't be undermined by any substantial, extended deployment to Somalia in the present context.
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    Default SFA for Somalia

    Well, the European Union Training Mission is training 2,000 Somalis in northern Uganda, and experts drawn from the EU are deploying to Somalia to assess SFA related conditions.

    But is clan engagement the best way to do this? One Tribe At A Time? Light footprint tribal militias instead of badly executed clones of Western armies?

    Just my thoughts.

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    Perhaps someone could explain the political imperative to send US troops to Somalia?
    Basically, what is the Policy? Please do not tell me the Strategy.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    Could that have something to see with the Uganda Oil exports?
    But I do not see the US securing Somalia to allow China to build a large port in Kenya for their Sudan oil exports...
    Or may be with weapon conrol in the area. If it's the case, invading Erithera could be easier. Ethiopia would love it!

    By the way, the UN supported Somali government does control at the best 2 or 3 streets around the presidential palace and not even the Moga port or airport...
    Sound crazy, can be funny!

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    Default oh, Ken, my bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    why not tell us why we should commit forces there and should have a strategy element that says that's necessary, much less a good idea?
    I guess I left that wide open.
    I do not think we should commit forces there. Absolutely not. I just anticipate that invading Somalia will be the next knee-jerk reaction war that we start in order to help a sitting President get reelected.

    C'mon, we are spending about $60 Million per month on patrolling the waters off Somalia with a Nuclear Carrier Task Force, using $30 Million aircraft to look for barefoot teenagers in skiffs high on khat. Meanwhile, piracy is on the rise.

    Our CIA is spending about $40 Million per month (WAG) buying the loyalties of a dozen militias, some of whom are then using that money to fight each other.

    Folks expect it to be a "cakewalk," and for the locals to shower our troops with ... do they have chocolates or flowers there ?

    The only solution to the high seas piracy is taking action ashore, and we don't trust any locals with that responsibility. A year ago, President Farole of Puntland (who we do not even officially recognize) said he could stamp out piracy with $8 Million in aid, and I believe him. We declined to give it to him, even after he groveled in a Congressional hearing.

    But what I find most persuasive are the accusations coming out of State and DOD that AQAP has relocated there. The militias that the CIA is paying are having no impact: Islamic radical groups continue to consolidate power.

    It will start as a training mission, with advisors only. Remember Southeast Asia ?
    I am pretty sure that there are indigenous leaders in Somaliland and Puntland who could fight both of these fights more effectively than we ever could, but our foreign policy is not so flexible as to be able to accord respect to any Somali leaders.
    .
    Last edited by Brian Scott; 04-18-2010 at 07:40 PM.

  8. #148
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That's exactly why

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    ...I just anticipate that invading Somalia will be the next knee-jerk reaction war that we start in order to help a sitting President get reelected.
    I didn't say we wouldn't do that...
    C'mon, we are spending about $60 Million...looking for barefoot teenagers in skiffs high on khat. Meanwhile, piracy is on the rise.
    In reverse order; of course it is -- we've done little or nothing seriously aimed at stopping it. We just throw money at things, whether it make any sense or not. Better than getting Congress involved -- then it REALLY gets screwed up. That's a serious comment and that factor does drive some trains.

    As for the high tech, high value 'efforts' -- when all one has is a hammer...
    Our CIA is spending about $40 Million per month (WAG) buying the loyalties of a dozen militias, some of whom are then using that money to fight each other.
    Yeah. I remember Laos. Quite well; way, way too well, in fact...
    Folks expect it to be a "cakewalk," and for the locals to shower our troops with ... do they have chocolates or flowers there ?
    Getting serious for a second, I suppose there are some in high places who believe that -- they're idiots (unfortunately, the inmates are sometimes in charge) but most people know better. The broader American polity has a lot more collective sense than do its elected Pols.
    The only solution to the high seas piracy is taking action ashore, and we don't trust any locals with that responsibility.
    Don't trust any locals or have other, mostly US domestic and political reasons to want to be there? That aspect regrettably drives too much of our interventionist stupidity -- and the majority of it has been stupid; either stupid from the outset or stupidly executed. We do not have the right tools to preclude such idiocy or to properly execute those that cannot be avoided. That not because we're stupid or incapable but because a venal Congress (or, more correctly, a succession of them) will not provide those tools lest it erode their power. They're willing to provide Hammers but not fine cabinetmaking tools...

    The problem with Somalia is its location, not AQ et.al. Anyplace with ability to significantly constrict maritime flow through Bab-el-Mandeb is going to attract and hold our attention. Probably should. I just wish we'd do it right.

    Still,you're correct that the answer lies ashore -- and we're both correct in saying that any US military intervention there would be probably the least good thing we could do.
    I am pretty sure that there are indigenous leaders in Somaliland and Puntland who could fight both of these fights more effectively than we ever could, but our foreign policy is not so flexible as to be able to accord respect to any Somali leaders.
    With that I agree.

    I could argue that we effectively have no foreign policy -- but you've hit our 'problem' smack on the head:

    "We" (the broader US political and governing crowd) believe that only "we" can do things correctly. Since that "we" is insanely fragmented on methods and goals, it is terribly incoherent. That leads to, as I said elsewhere about another area, discombobulated, almost incoherent actions that effectively result in a mess and: "I'm inclined to fault us ... admitting that the locals are, as usual, manipulating us. We're egotistical, arrogant, rich -- and dumb -- really bad combination."

  9. #149
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    I just anticipate that invading Somalia will be the next knee-jerk reaction war that we start in order to help a sitting President get reelected.
    How would starting a war in Somalia help to get the sitting President reelected?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    I guess I left that wide open.
    Folks expect it to be a "cakewalk," and for the locals to shower our troops with ... do they have chocolates or flowers there ?
    And which "folks" are expecting this? It's not something I've heard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    A year ago, President Farole of Puntland (who we do not even officially recognize) said he could stamp out piracy with $8 Million in aid, and I believe him.
    Why do you believe him? Did he say exactly how he could stamp out piracy with $8 million? Where the money would be spent? It seems an unlikely proposition at best.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    It will start as a training mission, with advisors only. Remember Southeast Asia ?

    I am pretty sure that there are indigenous leaders in Somaliland and Puntland who could fight both of these fights more effectively than we ever could, but our foreign policy is not so flexible as to be able to accord respect to any Somali leaders.
    Now I'm confused. If we aren't able to trust or respect any Somali leaders, who exactly will we be training and advising? If you want us to work with indigenous leaders, isn't training and advising what we should be doing?
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 04-20-2010 at 12:01 PM.

  10. #150
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    Default Next war somalia? Why?

    Wouldn't a knee-jerk into Mexico be more probable? Remember the Maine!

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    Dayuhan,
    just as the strike on Iraq in December 1998 was calculated to distract Americans from the Impeachment proceedings,
    Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched to bolster partisan reelection prospects the next year. This sort of thing happens so often that it has its own special name: "rally around the flag."
    The main lesson Bush II learned from Bush I was to not let a war end too quickly.

    Bush 41 suckered Saddam into invading Kuwait (through his emissary April Glaspie) just so he could launch a war to kick him out again. The War wrapped up in early 1991. By November 1992, American voters had forgotten who had led them to victory only 18 months earlier, because the "no new taxes" pledge had been broken.

    Except for the Civil War and the two "World Wars," every American war appears to have been started as a way to help a President get elected to a second term. I could be wrong, though.

    When the USA is at war, voters like to keep the sitting President in office until the war is over. This too has a name: "don't change horses in mid-stream."

    .

    What folks think an invasion of Somalia would be a cakewalk ? Mostly folks who never served in the military, but are now deciding the foreign policy of the USA. The Obama team in the Pentagon is no better grounded in military reality than the previous Administration. A big reason for that is because President Obama retained so many of the poor performers from the Bush Team.

    .

    President Farole spelled out a lot in his Congressional testimony in January 2009. In April 2009 he issued a "100 Days' Report" explaining where he wanted to take to country
    http://somalitalkradio.com/2009/apri...e_100_days.pdf.
    He was also involved in some confidential negotiations with the CIA, DOD, State and USAID, to which I'm certainly not privy. An associate of mine is a former Minister in the government of President Muse, and he confirmed to me reports in the news site GaroweOnline.com that President Farole laid out a very specific plan for how to spend that money, promising specific results.
    A dollar goes a lot further in Puntland than in Luzon.

    .

    I'm new here. I don't know what you know about the US police action in sunny Southeast Asia 40-some years ago. But that started as a training mission, advisors only, and American soldiers were training indigenous forces that the Americans mostly held in contempt. American officers mostly had no respect for Vietnamese officers or civilian leaders. I never went. I sat that one out on the Green Ramp at Pope AFB. But most of my NCO's and officers served over there.

    .

    This thread is not going at all like I wanted. I am 100% certain that our Sneaky Petes on the ground in Somalia are gonna get a lot of backup from conventional ground forces, and I'm pretty sure that will happen by this Summer. I was hoping this community could help them from screwing that up. I've hung out with some of the geniuses who designed our two current wars, and the crowd on this website is smarter than those OSD policy wonks. Not as pretentious, either. But y'all seem to think that good ideas can only be found in a white paper or an article in a professional journal. You don't give yourselves enough credit.

    I think that our entree to Iraq and our escalation in Afghanistan were a huge error of judgement.
    The signal image of the Iraq invasion was a US platoon putting a US flag on the statue of Saddam, capping the "Thunder Run" into Baghdad. After weeks of declaring that we were coming to liberate and help the Iraqi people, we claimed with that photo op to have conquered and defeated them. So much for "hearts and minds."
    Likewise, in Operation Enduring Freedom II, we lost track of who attacked us in 2001, and for reasons I cannot understand, turned our guns on the civilian population. The Taliban is a lot like the French Resistance in WW II, fighting against foreign occupation by the Nazis.
    The smartest US military leader in Afghanistan today is the USMC Brigadier who led the fight for Marjah. BG Nicholson says that Taliban is not our enemy, and we shouldn't be fighting them, because they ARE the local population.
    In my opinion, we fought and won OEF I in 2002/03; abandoned that fight from 2003 to about 2007; and ramped up OEF II in 2007/08. I say that they are two separate campaigns: the first was to get revenge against al-Qaeda, and the second to punish the Afghani people because we didn't satisfy our bloodlust in the first campaign.
    If our coming misadventure into Somalia is as badly led as the two current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this blog community doesn't lift a finger to prevent that, well, why even blog here ? Certainly not simply to recount how well you performed when you were knee deep in hand grenade pins.
    .
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-22-2010 at 07:33 AM. Reason: every re-read I find more errors. PM to author re one word and replaced.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    .
    When the USA is at war, voters like to keep the sitting President in office until the war is over.
    Possibly you've not noticed, but we're already at war, so there's hardly a need to start another. At this point entry into Somalia (or almost anywhere else) would be more a liability than an asset in any rational political calculation.

    All of the examples you cite are open to multiple interpretations, and those you provide are neither self-evident nor adequately supported.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    .
    Bush 41 suckered Saddam into invading Kuwait (through his emissary April Glaspie)
    I'm sorry, but this is completely wrong, and in fact complete BS. If you read the full text of Glaspie's comment's, instead of the tiny out-of-context slice that is widely circulated on the Internet, you'll see why. You may need to expand your sources just a wee bit.

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    Sir,

    Americans are pretty darn comfortable with, even ignoring, the current wars. In 2004, we were a nation at war. In 2010, its the Army and USMC that are at war.
    Wouldn't it be great if starting wars that end up making us less secure actually was a liability ?

    I do not know the "full text of Glaspie's comments" to which you refer. I assume that you refer to some post facto rationalization she wrote. Her comments directly to President Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti in July 1990 were made orally, IIRC.
    .

  14. #154
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    I see no evidence that Americans are ignoring the current war (in Afghanistan, the situation in Iraq I would no longer classify as war), and any American capable of ignoring it would be equally capable of ignoring an incursion into Somalia, which would necessarily be of a much smaller scale.

    As far as I know two transcripts of the Glaspie/Hussein interview have emerged, both from Iraqi sources. They are similar but of course authenticity cannot be verified. There is nothing in either, or in any other account of the interviews that I've seen, that could be interpreted as communicating US approval for an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Glaspie did say, as any diplomat would have to, that the US has no opinion on the substance of the dispute between Iraq and Kuwait, a comment that has been pulled out of context and misinterpreted. She also made it quite clear that the US wanted the dispute solved peacefully, and even suggested possible mediators.

    While it's clear that the US underestimated both the seriousness and the imminence of the Iraqi plan to invade, it's also clear that the plan was in place well before the Glaspie-Hussein meetings, and that there was no US encouragement of the invasion. Whether a more aggressive statement from Glaspie would have convinced Hussein not to invade is of course unknown and unknowable; I'm inclined to think he'd have done it anyway.

    Conspiracy theorists have made a great deal of it, but they've long been able to make something of nothing and pitch the output coherently enough to convince those predisposed to believe.

  15. #155
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default And on the other issues...

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    .
    What folks think an invasion of Somalia would be a cakewalk ? Mostly folks who never served in the military, but are now deciding the foreign policy of the USA.
    Who is saying that an invasion of Somaila would be a cakewalk, and where are they saying it? Specifically, please. A citation would help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    .
    GaroweOnline.com that President Farole laid out a very specific plan for how to spend that money, promising specific results.
    A dollar goes a lot further in Puntland than in Luzon.
    It's difficult to comment on - or believe in - a plan one hasn't seen. A dollar goes a fair way on Luzon, but probably farther in Puntland. However, it's difficult to see how a meagre 8 million in aid money is going to convince people to abandon an enterprise that brings in many more millions every year, or how the Puntland government intends to compel the same people to abandon that business. They have to either convince or compel, and $8m seems unlikely to do either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    .
    I'm new here. I don't know what you know about the US police action in sunny Southeast Asia 40-some years ago.
    Not everything, but enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    .
    This thread is not going at all like I wanted. I am 100% certain that our Sneaky Petes on the ground in Somalia are gonna get a lot of backup from conventional ground forces, and I'm pretty sure that will happen by this Summer.
    If you want the community here to discuss that prediction seriously, you might want to support it a bit more thoroughly. Why exactly do you think this is going to happen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    .
    I was hoping this community could help them from screwing that up....
    If our coming misadventure into Somalia is as badly led as the two current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this blog community doesn't lift a finger to prevent that, well, why even blog here ?
    I could lift my full complement of fingers and toes several times over and have not one iota of influence over whatever the US intends or does not intend to do in Somalia. I personally don't think there's any intention to commit ground forces to Somalia in the near future, but if it happens we'll discuss it here, and those of us here will benefit from the discussion, and the US Government at large will either be unaware of the discussion or will ignore it. I suspect that you overestimate our influence by several orders of magnitude.

  16. #156
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Hanlon's razor...

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    ...just as the strike on Iraq in December 1998 was calculated to distract Americans from the Impeachment proceedings.
    Possibly but far from proven.
    Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched to bolster partisan reelection prospects the next year.
    Doubtful. An alternative is that Bush did it because it needed to be done as his four predecessors had failed miserably at responding anywhere near properly to a series of probes and pricks originating in the ME. Add the fact that he was not at the time convinced he would be reelected and the fact that, were he not, his successor would likely not respond forcefully.
    The main lesson Bush II learned from Bush I was to not let a war end too quickly.
    Probably true.
    Bush 41 suckered Saddam into invading Kuwait (through his emissary April Glaspie) just so he could launch a war to kick him out again.
    Speculation, possible but not probable -- Hanlon's razor; When Glaspie told Saddam that the US wasn't concerned with his claim to Kuwait, she almost certainly did not understand the implications of taarof in her response.
    Except for the Civil War and the two "World Wars," every American war appears to have been started as a way to help a President get elected to a second term. I could be wrong, though.
    Some truth in that. Domestic politics always play a large part. More true is the fact that almost all our wars including those you omit began because someone thought the Americans wouldn't fight over an issue.
    ...the US police action in sunny Southeast Asia 40-some years ago. But that started as a training mission, advisors only, and American soldiers were training indigenous forces that the Americans mostly held in contempt.
    The brothers Kennedy wanted a 'Small War' to prove their toughness and, more importantly by far, to boost the economy. It got outa hand. Hanlon's razor again...
    American officers mostly had no respect for Vietnamese officers or civilian leaders.
    Depends on who you talk to and what Viet Namese units or elements they worked with. When they were there also palys a huge part in that assessment.
    This thread is not going at all like I wanted. I am 100% certain that our Sneaky Petes on the ground in Somalia are gonna get a lot of backup from conventional ground forces, and I'm pretty sure that will happen by this Summer.
    Don't you hate it when others don't see your wisdom -- I know I do.

    You may be 100% sure, obviously others are less certain.
    I was hoping this community could help them from screwing that up.
    Other than saying we should not go, we should not send advisers and the idea of going is dumb, what else would you have this community do? Taking your tack; saying 'It's gonna happen' would put it on autopilot -- saying it would be really dumb would seem to me to do more to keep that screwup from occurring.
    the crowd on this website is smarter than those OSD policy wonks.
    Having worked with some of their predecessors, I'm inclined to think you're probably correct in that.
    But y'all seem to think that good ideas can only be found in a white paper or an article in a professional journal. You don't give yourselves enough credit.
    Can't speak for others but most white papers I've read have been froth and all the professional journals spout the party line -- they'll publish a little racy material on occasion to establish some street cred but they immediately hop back into hull defilade. My observation in several years here is that you aren't correct in that assessment.
    I think that our entree to Iraq and our escalation in Afghanistan were abortions.
    I agree to an extent on Iraq but can excuse it a bit as the force did what it was (poorly) trained to do, civilian policy makers excluded. It was a good strategic ploy, poorly executed, initially a cluster but pulled out of the trash can by some hard work by the troops. I agree on Afghanistan, OEF 2 should have been it.
    I say that they are two separate campaigns: the first was to get revenge against al-Qaeda, and the second to punish the Afghani people because we didn't satisfy our bloodlust in the first campaign.
    I don't believe that is so. I don't think bloodlust had a thing to do with it. I know a bunch of folks that have been there, from Privates to Colonels. No bloodlust in any of them -- nor, I believe was there any in the civilian heirarchy. A stupid idea that we could make things better, yeah -- bloodlust, no.

    As a minor aside, they are Afghans, the Afghani is the currency.
    If our coming misadventure into Somalia is as badly led as the two current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this blog community doesn't lift a finger to prevent that, well, why even blog here ? Certainly not simply to recount how well you performed when you were knee deep in hand grenade pins.
    Badly led is a relative term. The leadership of the forces in both countries the past few years represented the society from which they came. They were products of an institution that is largely shaped by those societal inputs and the next most significant factor, the Congress. So I'd suggest your argument may be with that society and / or that Congress.

    Been my observation that any command, any unit has good and bad elements. Some do good, some do not and that varies over time as commanders and units change. I've seen or heard nothing that makes that factor in the current wars a bit different from performance in WW II, Korea or Viet Nam.

    As to this community not deigning to "lift a finger to prevent that..." It seems to me that the bulk of those who've bothered to post on this thread do not share your apparent absolute certainty about a commitment to Somalia; most seem to think it's possible but not probable. Thus, there's little need -- in my view, at least -- to raise a finger. Unless saying it would be dumber than dirt to do that at all is not raising the finger high enough...

    Re: your question, why even Blog here. That's up to those who write Blog Posts that get on the Blog. This is a Discussion Board not the Blog, though it is an adjunct of the Blog. In both cases, participation is voluntary. No one is forced to Blog or comment here. Dissenting views are welcome as are out of the old box comments but there is no guarantee that everyone posting a response will agree with one who posits an idea or thoughts

    For those that do post here, we ask that they be civil and not egregiously insult other poster. Attack the argument, not the person(s) who do not agree with you. Your snarky comment about hand grenade pins was unnecessary and does not aid your position -- though I've seen Green Ramp when there were beaucoup pins and grenades about...
    Last edited by Ken White; 04-22-2010 at 05:12 AM. Reason: Typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    When Glaspie told Saddam that the US wasn't concerned with his claim to Kuwait, she almost certainly did not understand the implications of taarof in her response.Some truth in that.
    Possible but I think perhaps overestimated. The discussions were not over Iraq's claim to Kuwait but over more specific issues: the allegations that Kuwait was drilling into Iraqi oil reserves and the refusal of Kuwait and the UAE, among others, to write off loans made to Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Scott View Post
    .
    The Taliban is a lot like the French Resistance in WW II, fighting against foreign occupation by the Nazis.
    More accurately they are Nothing like the French Resistance. They are a lot like the Nazis.
    The smartest US military leader in Afghanistan today is the USMC Brigadier who led the fight for Marjah. BG Nicholson says that Taliban is not our enemy, and we shouldn't be fighting them, because they ARE the local population.
    So if the US left, the country would be at peace and Al Qeda would not come back? So what if the Taliban are the local population? If they use armed force that get armed force used against them.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Default I understand all that, I was referring to the Persian tradition

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Possible but I think perhaps overestimated.
    of Taarof. The tradition is understood by few westerners and is endemic throughout the old Persian Empire territory. Iraq was a part of several Persian Empires far longer than the 400 or so years it was in the Ottoman empire.

    The rules are arcane and very elaborate, the relative military, political or social ranks of the parties involved and the character of the issue at hand can make a difference.

    Basically, if you tell me you want my watch, I'm supposed to immediately take it off my wrist and offer it to you. Whether you take it or not depends on the resulting conversation; you may really want it, may not and actually want something else -- or you may just want me in your debt, in which case you do not take the watch -- but we both know I owe you. there are subtle changes based on our relative positions and we would both be very aware of that. Rules for two equals as opposed to a senior / less senior relationship differ.

    I'm fairly sure that Glaspie's "you two need to work this out" was taken in a Taarof spirit and thus Saddam did not expect the US response he actually got. I know he had plans to do the attack regardless and I do not suggest the Bush (or Glaspie) in any way encouraged him. I very much believe he used Taarof rules and took the Glaspie comment in a way that was not intended

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    Both Taarof and diplomacy have their own arcane and circuitous rules and conventions, and where they overlap all kinds of confusions are possible. Saddam was no novice, though, and I suspect he knew what was going on. For example, this comment in diplomatese:

    I received an instruction to ask you, in the spirit of friendship -- not in the spirit of confrontation -- regarding your intentions.
    Translates, in plain English, to "what the %$#@ do you think you're doing"... and I don't think anyone who had been in the game as long as Saddam had would fail to realize that.

    I've always thouight the Americans read the initial military buildup wrong, and thought that Saddam was bluffing, waving his stick as an adjunct to the rather acrimonious discussion of the war-era loans. If you look later in the transcript, using this version from the NYT:

    http://dvmx.com/glaspie.html

    You find this exchange:

    GLASPIE: Mr. President, it would be helpful if you could give us an assessment of the effort made by your Arab brothers and whether they have achieved anything.

    HUSSEIN: On this subject, we agreed with President Mubarak that the Prime Minister of Kuwait would meet with the deputy chairman of the Revolution Command Council in Saudi Arabia, because the Saudis initiated contact with us, aided by President Mubarak's efforts. He just telephoned me a short while ago to say the Kuwaitis have agreed to that suggestion.

    GLASPIE: Congratulations.

    HUSSEIN: A protocol meeting will be held in Saudi Arabia. Then the meeting will be transferred to Baghdad for deeper discussion directly between Kuwait and Iraq. We hope we will reach some result. We hope that the long-term view and the real interests will overcome Kuwaiti greed.

    GLASPIE: May I ask you when you expect Sheik Saad to come to Baghdad?

    HUSSEIN: I suppose it would be on Saturday or Monday at the latest. I told brother Mubarak that the agreement should be in Baghdad Saturday or Sunday. You know that brother Mubarak's visits have always been a good omen.

    GLASPIE: This is good news. Congratulations.
    In this Saddam is clearly suggesting that negotiations had been organized and would be taking place, though in retrospect it is clear that there was never any intention to negotiate, which makes that exchange a clear effort at deception. The US might easily be faulted for falling for that deception, but if they were assuming from the start that a bluff was on, it could easily have fallen into the category of seeing what they expected to see.

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