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Thread: Deterrence of Irregular Threats

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Deterrence of Irregular Threats

    (Moved here from another thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...?t=7935&page=2 as the author has brought IMHO a new theme for discussion)

    A couple points to consider that may help:

    First, GWOT is not COIN; and really isn't GWOT either. We know that, yet struggle to devise a smarter approach the new range of security challenges we face today.

    When President Bush left office he stated as his one metric of success that "we have not been attacked." Two comments on that:
    1. A very poor metric of success, as one's opponents have their own agenda and schedules for how they pursue their ends, and if no attacks are necessary, why launch them and risk messing with success? So I don't credit it much as to our larger effectiveness in the GWOT. It may or may not mean our efforts are working.
    2. HOWEVER: It does clearly indicate that the Commander in Chief saw the primary purpose of the GWOT campaign under his watch as one of Deterring such terrorist attacks from happening again.
    This got me thinking, as I have been discussing Deterrence with a broader conventional community and attempting to highlight some of the new challenges in deterrence today than back in the good old days when all we had to worry about was MAD.

    If our current campaign is primarily about deterrence (this is what militaries do in times of peace); and it is not really GWOT, then what is it? The concept that I am playing with is to shift it from a campaign focused (in name) on countering terrorism to one focused on Deterrence of Irregular Threats.

    Many diverse organizations will employ terrorism as a tactic, and all require unique approaches. Weak(er) states; failed states (like Somalia); Quasi-state actors (like Hezbollah), non-state actors (like AQ), nationalist insurgencies (LET, MILF, etc etc etc), and the odd dissident individual (such as Mr. McVeigh). To lump them by their tacics leads to a dangerous conflation that contributes to approaches that are as likely to provoke some groups as they are to deter others. But by focusing on deterrence it forces one to break down the problem set and conduct a more sophisticated analysis and to better balance potential cost/benefit analysis by each category and major actors within those categories to various courses of deterrence or engagement that we plan to set out upon.

    It also allows for a much more positive narrative that our allies and own non-DOD agencies can much more readily get on board with.

    Now, before the "kill them all" gang gets too fired up, yes, any good deterrence campaign incorporates a balanced and appropriate LOO directed at bringing to justice those needing the same. Most will be in a court of the own HN; others will simply wake up knowing they are dead, yet wondering where all the virgins are. Such things are best done in low key fashion as a capable and certain supporting effort to a much larger and holistic campaign of deterrence.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-31-2009 at 02:40 PM. Reason: Update as post copied and moved to a new thread
    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 davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Deterrence of Irregular Threats: Spain?

    (From Robert Jones)The concept that I am playing with is to shift it from a campaign focused (in name) on countering terrorism to one focused on Deterrence of Irregular Threats.
    I wonder if the Spanish people and state are thinking along such lines with the apparent return of ETA, with two attacks on a Guardia Civil barracks in Burgos: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8173727.stm and a device that killed two Guardia Civil on Majorca: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8176601.stm . Note the BBC referred to five ETA leaders had been arrested this year and IIRC extensive co-operation with France: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7732678.stm. Spain has seen the campaign against ETA use a variety of methods, including mass public demonstrations.

    Deterrence of Irregular Threats - a new thread there?

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    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-30-2009 at 07:08 PM. Reason: Add links

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Oh, and for those who would like me to begin a thread to further explore the concept of employing "Deterrence of Irregular Threats" as a new and more effective focus for the "Son of GWOT," I will gladly do so, but am busy tuning that same concept up to set on the SOCOM J5's desk and to inject into the QDR.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-31-2009 at 02:45 PM. Reason: New thread started after PM exchange with Bob's World
    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 rborum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Oh, and for those who would like me to begin a thread to further explore the concept of employing "Deterrence of Irregular Threats" as a new and more effective focus for the "Son of GWOT," I will gladly do so, but am busy tuning that same concept up to set on the SOCOM J5's desk and to inject into the QDR.
    Bob - I think it's terrific that you're thinking about and working on that facet of the problem. It would be spectacular - IMO - to see it highlighted in the QDR. Though I'm sure there will be a plurality of opinion about "how" such efforts might be accomplished, but working from the assumption that we should is definitely a step in the right direction. Thoughtful people on both sides of the current debate about contemporary COIN doctrine seem to agree (going out on a limb here) that the best approach for dealing with insurgency-like conflicts is to avoid/prevent them (or our involvement in them) in the first place. That premise, it seems to me, is a strong platform for strategic planning moving forward. (BTW, Bob, I sent a quick note to your Inbox here).
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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    All,

    I have been thinking a great deal recently about the concept of deterrence. In various forums that I participate I get a chance to listen to senior people from a variety of backgrounds discuss deterrence, and it always strikes me that for the most part we are so bound to what we know to work, that we cannot seem to grasp either how, or why it is not working now.

    I believe this observation made in regard to President Obama's approach to nuclear deterrence sheds some light on this quandry:

    “There are four different categories of nuclear deterrence that need to be addressed to make nuclear disarmament more feasible.
    i)*** Deterrence between “old” nuclear powers and the recognition that a NPT entails both horizontal as well as vertical coordination;
    ii)** Deterrence between “old” and “new” nuclear powers;
    iii)* Deterrence between nuclear and non nuclear states;
    iv)* Finally, deterrence of other non-state actors.”
    In a discussion organized by ELIAMEP on “The Obama administration, deterrence and disarmament”, on Thursday, 9 July 2009, Dr. T.V. Paul, Professor of International Relations at McGill University, Montreal, Canada (Link added: http://www.eliamep.gr/en/transatlant...d-disarmament/ )


    So the question is, how has deterrence changed as new actors, empowered in new ways, come onto the scene? Not only in how we deter these new actors, but how by their very presence we must recalulate how we deter the old ones.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-31-2009 at 04:26 PM. Reason: Add link to reference
    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 Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Some initial thoughts for consideration

    No powerpoint ranger, but here is an attempt to visualize the problem; and a first cut at defining these characters.

    Non-Nuke States: (Canada, Japan, etc)
    Sovereign States that do not possess nuclear weapons
    Primary Goal: Promote Nationalist goals without burden of Nuke status, but necessarily somewhat subjugated to a Nuke State protector.
    Sanctuary: State status and protective treaties with Nuke State(s)

    Nuke States: (Russia, Israel, etc)
    Sovereign States that possess, or are believed to possess, nuclear weapons
    Primary Goal: Promote Nationalist goals without excessive interference by Nuke States
    Sanctuary: State status and threat of nuclear retaliation

    Failed State: (Somalia, Yemen, etc)
    Semi-Sovereign State that has reverted to tribalism or control by a Quasi or Non-State Actor
    Primary Goal: Survival
    Sanctuary: Lack of recognized state bodies and willingness to operate outside of accepted state system

    Quasi-State Actor: (Hezbollah, Hamas, etc)
    Organizations that have a direct link to the legitimacy of a sovereign state, but that also maintain operations outside that status
    Primary Goal: Nationalist; with links to legitimacy but operating primarily outside the system of states
    Sanctuary: Mix of State Status and Non-state Status played to maximize both

    Non-State Actor: (Al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, etc)
    Organizations with no linkage to any legitimacy derived from a sovereign state, but that operate in state-like ways to conduct UW
    Primary Goal: Regional or Global; effect change for some distinct cause
    Sanctuary: Non-state status enhanced by supportive populaces experiencing conditions of poor governance and the borders of the states those populaces live within; or protection of a sympathetic state’s borders and sovereign status

    Insurgent Populaces: (FARC, NPA, LTTE, etc)
    Organizations made up of citizens of a state to wage a nationalist insurgent movement (Revolutionary, Separatist or Resistance)
    Primary goal: Nationalist, address poor governance at home, create a separate state, or defeat an invader
    Sanctuary: non-state status and a supportive populace experiencing conditions of poor governance

    Disgruntled Individuals: (Kaczynski, McVeigh, etc)
    Disgruntled individuals who believe so strongly about some cause that they are motivated to conduct acts of terror
    Primary goal: Personal; draw attention to their agenda / cause
    Sanctuary: Laws of their respective states until such time as they violate the same
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    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 William F. Owen's Avatar
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    I'm getting a little lost here. How is deterrence different from suppression? - suppression, meaning a failure to act through fear of harm.

    In order to deter, you merely have to present a credible and lethal threat (capability plus an intent). The perception of that threat means the other side is either suppressed from action or not.

    What am I missing here?
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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default This a commonly held position.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I'm getting a little lost here. How is deterrence different from suppression? - suppression, meaning a failure to act through fear of harm.

    In order to deter, you merely have to present a credible and lethal threat (capability plus an intent). The perception of that threat means the other side is either suppressed from action or not.

    What am I missing here?
    I think it comes up short. How do I make a quasi-state actor like Hezbollah "fear" me if I have constrained myself by granting them an artificial sanctuary based upon their status? Do I violate the soveriegnty of Lebannon to do so? To what potential provocation of other actors? Do I punish the populace of Lebanon? Again, to what potential provocation of others?

    This recalculation of the deterrent and provocative effect across the spectrum is the essence, in my mind of shaping more holistic and effective schemes of both deterrence, but also COAs of responses.

    How does one deter a non-state like AQ? Do I violate the soverignty of the state they take sanctuary within to attack AQ? Do I attack the state? Do I attack the members whereever I might find them? Again, to what second and third order effects of provocation across this expanded list of actors?

    Old think of simply making the cost exceed the benefit for one particular actor or category of actor falls far short these days.

    Similarly how does one deter an insurgent Saudi populace that perceives that they must first break the protective support of the US Govt to their own before they can achieve change at home? Fire missiles into their homes in Mecca? In this case I believe these groups are best deterred indirectly by addressing the perceptions of inappropriate legitimacy over their government at a minimum, and by also enabling evolution of better governance in these important states where we do have critical national interests that require our presence.

    I don't have the answers, but do believe that the old model is dangerously lacking for the current environment.
    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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    To be effective, deterrence must be focused on the target. What deters one country/group might not be effective against another. The deterrent must also be credible, which was the inherent failure of "massive retaliation" in the 50s. The US was not going to massively retaliate against some pissant annoyance.

    This brings me to the challenge of deterrence, as opposed to prevention, in the current operational environment (and with Wilf's lethal requirement). If the target of your deterrence is unfazed by or even welcomes death, what other mechanisms are available to sway it?

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I think it comes up short. How do I make a quasi-state actor like Hezbollah "fear" me if I have constrained myself by granting them an artificial sanctuary based upon their status? Do I violate the soveriegnty of Lebannon to do so? To what potential provocation of other actors? Do I punish the populace of Lebanon? Again, to what potential provocation of others?
    Well you've already painted yourself into a corner, with all those highly contextual assumptions presented as questions. If Hezbollah believes you are constrained by those assumptions, they simply will not take you seriously. Very simply, if you cannot make them physically fearful for their lives and all they love, you cannot deter them.

    I suspect that the recalculation of the deterrent your leadership will opt for is bargaining, and diplomacy because the political will to deter, does not actually exist, despite the language.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    In this case I believe these groups are best deterred indirectly by addressing the perceptions of inappropriate legitimacy over their government at a minimum, and by also enabling evolution of better governance in these important states where we do have critical national interests that require our presence.
    This would seem to change the traditional notion of deterrence significantly. A primary component of deterrence is fear - either the fear of repercussions of an action, or fear of failure or whatever. It seems to me if one takes the fear out then it's not deterrence anymore, but something else.

    BTW, you are probably familiar with this:


    Deterrence (Old View)-The prevention from action by fear of the consequences. Deterrence is a state of mind brought about by the existence of a credible threat of unacceptable counteraction. (Joint Pub 1-02 definition)
    vs.
    Strategic Deterrence (New View) --The prevention of adversary aggression or coercion that threatens vital interests of the United States and/or our national survival. Strategic deterrence convinces adversaries not to take grievous courses of action by means of decisive influence over their decision making.
    Again, while I don't think that "new view" is invalid as a concept, I don't think it's "deterrence." Perhaps "strategic influence" is a better term or something else.

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    Wilf raises an excellent point that deterrence is dependent upon credibility and if the adversary believes you are constrained (for any number of reasons) from acting, then deterrence has failed.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    If the target of your deterrence is unfazed by or even welcomes death, what other mechanisms are available to sway it?
    Like Japan in WW2? Osama Bin Laden puts lot of money and effort into staying alive. If an entire terrorist organisation wants to be suicide bombers, it is a very temporary threat. War is politics. Politics requires someone to be alive at the end.

    Clausewitian Trinity? People, Leadership, and military? There's always something to squeeze.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Yes, but are you squeezing a balloon?

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Like Japan in WW2? Osama Bin Laden puts lot of money and effort into staying alive. If an entire terrorist organisation wants to be suicide bombers, it is a very temporary threat. War is politics. Politics requires someone to be alive at the end.

    Clausewitian Trinity? People, Leadership, and military? There's always something to squeeze.
    CvC only has one oar in the water in today's environment. A good solid oar, but incomplete all the same; so don't pull on it too hard or you'll just go around and around.

    So you squeeze Hezbollah good and hard by invading the sovereign country of Lebanon and waging war among their populace. Perhaps you have deterred Hezbollah, but who have you outraged and provoked in the process? Where did the air go when you squeezed that balloon?

    When our media and government refuse to recognize Hezbollah as part of the Lebanese government we in effect grant them a sanctuary of status. In this category, where an organization chooses to play this game, I think a good first step is to officially recognize them as part of the state. Strike "LH" from our diplomatic lexicon and simply say "The Hezbollah party of Lebanon," or better yet "Lebanon." Then make it very clear to all that when Hezbollah acts so does the state of Lebanon. Take them out of their quasi-state status and place them into a full state status. Now our state tools work. If the government or populace thinks that is unfair, well then they need to police their own problem; and if they can't then it is proven true by their inability to do so.

    This is just one category though, and again, all must be viewed holistically and relative provocation and deterrence effects must be wargamed across the spectrum when considering COAs.
    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 William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    CvC only has one oar in the water in today's environment. A good solid oar, but incomplete all the same; so don't pull on it too hard or you'll just go around and around.
    What oar is missing?
    , I think a good first step is to officially recognize them as part of the state. Strike "LH" from our diplomatic lexicon and simply say "The Hezbollah party of Lebanon," or better yet "Lebanon." Then make it very clear to all that when Hezbollah acts so does the state of Lebanon.
    That is exactly the mistake Olmert and Halutz made in 2006. Against the existing plan and advice, they went after "Lebanon" as well as "Hezbollah." Do not target the people you don't need to target.

    Once the proper plan was "partly" enacted, Hezbollah began to suffer. They haven't fired a single rocket or conduct any actual military action since the ceasefire, in 2006.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    The oar missing is the one that addresses the full spectrum of empowered actors on today's stage.

    And as to Hezbollah not firing rockets, that kind of make the point I was making in regards to President Bush's metric about the US not being attacked.

    A great indicator that your real goal is deterrence; but a very poor indicator that your opponent has been deterred.
    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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    Strike "LH" from our diplomatic lexicon and simply say "The Hezbollah party of Lebanon," or better yet "Lebanon." Then make it very clear to all that when Hezbollah acts so does the state of Lebanon. Take them out of their quasi-state status and place them into a full state status. Now our state tools work. If the government or populace thinks that is unfair, well then they need to police their own problem; and if they can't then it is proven true by their inability to do so.
    Everyone knows the state of Lebanon cannot control HA or "police their own problem." They do not have that capability, so how can our "state tools" work in that case?

    Should we use that logic for the AQAM sanctuary in Pakistan, despite the fact that we know Pakistan is incapable of controlling its territory?

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default AQ is a non-state, quite different than a quasi-state

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Everyone knows the state of Lebanon cannot control HA or "police their own problem." They do not have that capability, so how can our "state tools" work in that case?

    Should we use that logic for the AQAM sanctuary in Pakistan, despite the fact that we know Pakistan is incapable of controlling its territory?
    The distinctions between these groups is critical. This is arguably the greatest failing of the GWOT approach is that it conflated threats by lumping them all under a terrorist banner by judging them by their tactics and their affiliations rather than by their true natures and individual goals.

    AQ does not claim to be part of Pakistan; they just take advantange of the sanctuary of a poorly governed populace and a legal border.

    We have trampled down the border to go after them, but what effect that on the populace? Any less poorly governed or likely to lend sanctuary? No, the opposite, in fact.

    A "quasi-state" is not equal to a "non-state," is not equal to an "insurgency".

    We talk about "separating the insurgent from the populace," yet we cannot even differentiate effectively between the various groups employing "terrorist" tactics.

    If we are to deter, we must first understand and and respect the differences.


    Oh, and if the master cannot control the servant, then who really is the master after all?? This actually supports my case. If lebanon cannot control LH, the LH is in fact Lebanon.
    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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    Various governments including Lebanon and now Syria don't have the means, sometimes the will, but definately lack the means, to overcome terrorists operating on and through their soil.

    "Deterrance" is to me a useless term here. Suppression, permanently, via NATO forces replaced ASAP by native local troops we are supposed to be training up, for permanent maintenance of law and order, long term suppression by force of arms, concurrently by a jobs and construction program that generates economic benefits never before available to the locals.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    What is a "terrorist organization?" This is an intentioally emotion-laced term that is used to cast a negative light, yet does nothing to truly identify the nature and purpose of one you impose it upon. Not unlike racial name calling, it is intended to dehumanize ones opponent and generate charged emotions.

    Every current "terrorist" organizatoin currently on the Department of State roster would have to put in a hell of a lot of over time to match the body-count produced by the U.S. Airforce in what could arguably be called "terrorist" tactics as well. Purpose for action is critical, becasue if it is just action alone that condems one, then we are in big trouble. It is time to get a little more sophisticated and less biased in our thinking.

    We have to get past name calling if we are going to move forward. Means and Will are two very different things as well.

    If a state lack the means to control an informal organization, then it has become ineffective and illigitimate. It is no longer really "the state." If LH is the majority, then recognize them as such and hold them accountable.

    If a state lacks the "will", then perhaps they simply have no real incentive to place your interests and desires above their own. By holding them accountable you may very well provide them with such will. I seriously doubt the government of Syria is unable to control the elements of Hezbollah within their borders; they just have no reason to.


    The COA you propose is the COA that brought us here. Excessive exercise of US legitimacy over the govermments of the region in order to produce conditions favorable to the U.S.

    We can still work to shape conditions favorable to the pursuit of US interests in the region, but we need to adopt new COAs that better recognize and respect the interests of others; and that does not co-opt the legitimacy of others in favor of that imposed by us.

    Harder and Faster won't get us there. Smarter will.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 07-31-2009 at 07:46 PM.
    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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