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Old 12-02-2012   #61
Dayuhan
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Worth considering is that you subscribe to a position that fits fairly closely with the thinking that has driven US reactions since 9/11. How is that working for us?
One of the core elements of my position is that the US should not occupy Muslim territory or try to determine the form of governance in any Muslim country. That doesn't sound like what we've been doing.

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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
But without insurgent populaces who are both very dissatisfied with their own systems of governance, and who equally perceive that external Western influence, money and manipulation is a major factor in why their governance is so out of step - there would be no AQ.
You keep saying this, but you provide no evidence or reasoning to support the contention. It's simply laid out as revealed truth. The problem with this is that it's not consistent with what we see on the ground. We know that populaces aren't turning to AQ for help in getting rid of their own governments because every attempt by AQ to raise an insurgency against a Muslim government has failed to draw anything close to a critical mass of popular support. What we actually see is that while Muslim populaces are happy to fund and support AQ as long as they're fighting infidels far away, that support stops as soon as AQ tries to bring the jihad to their neighborhood. Interview-based studies on foreign fighter motivations have not revealed any hint that people are traveling to fight in order to affect governance in their home countries: the motivation is consistently to end the oppression of Muslims and expel the infidel in the place where the fight is going on.

The contention that AQ s driven by populaces who oppose their own governments and believe that support for AQ will change those governments has to be supported by convincing evidence and reasoning to be accepted. It can't simply be decreed.

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Getting rid of AQ without addressing that base of energy will only open the way for the emergence of "AQ 2.0."
It's good that we don't need to address the "base of energy" that comes from tension between Muslim governments and their populaces, because we can't. That's not about us and it would be self-defeating to try to impose ourselves on those situations. The governments in question do not for the most part depend on us, are not accountable to us, and will not do what we want.

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Again, I cannot emphasize enough, revolution does not happen to bring something new, it happens because their is tremendous energy within a significant segment of the populace to remove something that exists and is deemed intolerable.
Possibly true, but since AQ is not a revolution and you've shown no evidence to suggest that AQ is driven by revolutionary sentiment, I don't see the relevance to AQ.

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Such "successes" validate the anti-American message of organizations such as AQ, and serve to extend the reign of governments no longer wanted by their own people in their current form. It allows such governments to treat their people with impunity and to rely for their sovereignty upon the protection of the US rather than upon the consent of those they govern.
This is arguably happening Iraq and Afghanistan, where our (IMO) misguided attempts to install governments left those governments under our protection and dependent on us. That (again IMO) was a bad idea, it shouldn't have been tried and it shouldn't be done again. Other than those cases, which of course occurred after AQ was already established, I can't think of any Muslim government who relies on the US to protect it from its people, or whose oppression of its people is empowered by US support. That contention, again, needs to be supported by specific evidence and examples.

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But we can work across the DIME spectrum in a neutral way in those few places that are actually critical to our interests to force governments to listen and to help keep violence (state or insurgent) within the bounds of clear red lines.
How do you propose to "force governments to listen"? Even if you could, how do you force them to hear what you think you hear, or react as you think they should?

I seem to recall that not long ago the US told the government of Bahrain to listen to its people and implement reforms. I also recall that all we accomplished was to look impotent: they ignored us. I think you overrate the influence we can bring to bear.
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Old 12-02-2012   #62
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Bob,

Some of your points are spot on, but your logic in my opinion jumps all over the place. I'll highlight a couple of your comments below, but ultimately what I would like you to explain is what do you propose we do differently? I hear your arguments about governance and they apply in some, maybe even most cases, but since you're not proposing trying to fix their governments, and assumingly you recognize the requirement for the U.S. to protect itself from terrorist attacks, what is the so what of your argument? I think most U.S. policy makers and senior military leaders have recognized that insurgencies are due to a "segment" of the population being disconnent with their government or the global order. That certainly doesn't mean in all cases that the government should change! We have Islamists in the U.S., a very small minority, who want to impose shari'a law. Should the government allow that? We have Aryan Nation types that want to purge our state and society of all except Christian whites. Should we allow that? Why are you always so aghast when a government decides to protect the state and their citizens from similiar groups? You keep saying the people, but in fact you are only referencing particular group that more often than not is a minority group that is opposing the government, so the people argument really doesn't carry a lot of water. It is especially weak when we're talking strictly terrorist organizations that are not capable of fomenting a mass movement. You have readily admited that if the insurgents win they may in fact install a worse government. Does anyone think the Vietnamese are better off under an oppressive communist government than they would have been under another system? There are times we have to make choices, tough choices where the best answer is often the lesser of two evils. In my 30 plus years working in East Asia (with an occassionalworking holiday in the Middle East and Africa) I trained the militaries of three dictators (South Korea, Philippines, and Thailand, and there was also Indonesia but I didn't get a chance to work with them). Now they're democracies, so I think an argument can be made that our efforts to "help" them from falling to communism created some political space that allowed them to evolve politically and socially, which unlikely wouldn't have happened under communism (Vietnam, Laos).

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Bill, pray tell, when have I EVER said the US needs to "fix" the governance of others?
When your argument is our strategy is wrong because "we're" not addressing poor governance then I think it is fair to claim you are proposing we help fix the governance of others. We already recognize the challenge poor governance presents, so again what are you proposing?

I
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merely point out the broken part we should be concerned about.
Why do you think this is new? I remember discussing this topic at length in my early years in SF (it was in our doctrine). Recognition and concern is one thing, but is it the military mission to fix it? Our link is professionalizing military forces, the State Department plays a much larger role. Unfortunately since the Cold War ended we seem to think we have a mandate to tell every country in the world how they should behave, so I think we may have taken it a bit too far. In response nations are forming new coalitions to oppose perceived or real U.S. bullying.

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But most government have no interest in making such repairs when they can simply play the "might makes right" card and suppress the illegal actors. As you say, governments have the right to do this. Such is sovereignty
.

True in some cases, in others there is nothing a government can or should do to appease Islamists and hard core communists who have a vision for a state that does not serve the people. For one, I am glad governments do fight these extremists, I hope they are generally fair to most people, and would make every effort to encourage that versus forcing it upon them. The U.S. you refer to is still aspirational, the reality is we have more people in prison than any other nation, hell we even privatized over 10% of our prisons and these fast growing businesses have lobbies that influence Congressional law making so they can maintain a high prision population. We are casting stones from a glass house.

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You may think the principles contained in our Declaration of Independence to be uniquely American, or concepts that have become somehow quaint or irrelevant with time. America and all we think we stand for is sadly doomed when that becomes the case. If a man or a nation is not what they proclaim to be, then they are little or nothing of value at all.
Are you claiming we should conduct a global crusade to impose the principles contained in our Declaration of Independence? Using your logic I guess the Muslim Brotherhood is obligated to push jihad globally, if they don't they are not who they proclaim to be. In that case we'll see a clash of political ideologies and only might will make right, so we're back where we are now. Again we're casting stones from a glass house.


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And your example of Communism is "borderline irrational" as well.
This gets interesting

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Do you think the people Russia looked to Communism because they wanted to be communists or because they wanted to get rid of the Tsar?

Do you think the people of China looked to Communist because they wanted to be communists or because they wanted to be free of external Colonial powers and their puppet regime?

Do you think the people of Vietnam, Malaya, etc, etc turned to communism because they wanted to be communist or because they wanted to be free of Western Colonial powers and their puppet regimes
??

Very few turned to communism, Ho imposed it and brutally executed any political opponents, especially ones who were more popular. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Ho killed millions of their own people, so glory to the people, or maybe it was actually better to support the state?

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Do governments have the right to simply ignore the reasonable concerns of their evolving populaces and enforce the rule of law in a war-like way to sustain the status quo? Certainly. But the US and our interests are not well served by dedicating our reputation, our treasure and the blood of our young men and women to such efforts.
In the vast majority of cases we don't. In my opinion the Bush administration led us astray to pursue an unreachable dream; however, there are some cases that when they're in our national interest we do make sacrifices to defend those interests. If we do it smart and focus on FID instead of taking over the mission (which fails in the vast majority of times). We can do this with little sacrifice relative to what we did in Afghanistan and Vietnam. It also allows us an honorable exit if the State fails to reform. We tried to help you, but you failed to help yourself so we're out of here.

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Does Dayuhan suggest effective ways to kill the current crop of complainants? Sure. No rocket science there.
Often there is no rocket science required. What seems to harm us more than anything else is all the talking heads in national security competing to come up with the new "clever" idea.

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That may well reduce a particular threat in a particular place for a short period of time.
Often that is all we need to do and should do. We fool ourselves if we think we come up with permanent solutions. History doesn't stop, yet our national policy tends to embrace the idealist book titled, "The End of History."

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Congratulations. Mark all your tactical metrics Green, give yourself a top block ORE and go home.
I don't use metrics, I leave that to those who think they're applying science to something they really don't understand.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 12-03-2012 at 01:53 AM. Reason: modified, added
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Old 12-03-2012   #63
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It allows such governments to treat their people with impunity and to rely for their sovereignty upon the protection of the US rather than upon the consent of those they govern.
Where does the U.S. allow or encourage this? No other nation in the world puts more pressure on governments to treat their people better than the U.S., but at the same time we have to work within the confines of reality. I think you are wearing blinders when you write stuff like this. Go to the State Department website and look at the daily press briefings, they always address poor governance and put pressures on those governments. What other nation in the world is doing this in a meaningful way?

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That is not who we are Bill. And those who rationalize such poor behavior in the name of national security are, IMO, dangerously wrong.
You're beginning to sound like Oliver Stone with these conspiracy theories. Where are we turning a blind eye to governments that treat their people badly? Do we work with them? Yes, but at the same time we encourage reforms. If we didn't work with them, the reality is someone else would and they would enable that government to treat their people a lot worse. Note China's assistance to Sri Lanka because we disengaged because we couldn't stand the the smell of the human rights abuses. Did our disengagement make thinks better for the Sri Lankan people?

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We cannot fix others. We cannot resolve their insurgencies or repair their relationships with their own people. This they must do on their own. But we can work across the DIME spectrum in a neutral way in those few places that are actually critical to our interests to force governments to listen and to help keep violence (state or insurgent) within the bounds of clear red lines.
We generally do this already, but if we have critical interests then it isn't always effective to work in a neutral manner. Fortunately these cases are the exception rather than the rule.

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What you suggest is little different than practices of the last century to take out Union organizers, and to send pipe-swinging goons into a mass of striking workers. To me, that is irrational. And not in a borderline sort of way.
I never said that, but it reads well, so bravo on your use of propaganda to attack my argument by putting me in the goon camp. On second thought when your grand kids can't enjoy hostness twinkees in their school lunch you may think twice about the value of unions.
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Old 12-03-2012   #64
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Where does the U.S. allow or encourage this?
Afghanistan. Was also done in Pakistan, Egypt, ..... long list, especially if you go back a bit.
Yes, old stories are relevant if there hasn't been a fundamental break with old practices.


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No other nation in the world puts more pressure on governments to treat their people better than the U.S., (...)
I consider sending this to a German website for joke quotes.
Did you ever take notice of other countries' foreign policies? Or your own countries'?

It's especially ironic as when the U.S. applies pressure, it very often hurts those foreign people first and foremost. Those alleged hundred of thousands of less births or children died of poor care in Iraq prior to 2001; they were -if true at all- the product of Saddam's AND U.S. policies.
Almost all other countries wanted the sanctions lifted, only the U.S. and UK consistently kept all embargoes up. The lesson; never empower the US or UK to pull it off a second time, no open-ended UN embargoes any more!
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Old 12-03-2012   #65
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But without insurgent populaces who are both very dissatisfied with their own systems of governance, and who equally perceive that external Western influence, money and manipulation is a major factor in why their governance is so out of step - there would be no AQ.

Dayuhan counters:
You keep saying this, but you provide no evidence or reasoning to support the contention. It's simply laid out as revealed truth. The problem with this is that it's not consistent with what we see on the ground. We know that populaces aren't turning to AQ for help in getting rid of their own governments because every attempt by AQ to raise an insurgency against a Muslim government has failed to draw anything close to a critical mass of popular support. What we actually see is that while Muslim populaces are happy to fund and support AQ as long as they're fighting infidels far away, that support stops as soon as AQ tries to bring the jihad to their neighborhood. Interview-based studies on foreign fighter motivations have not revealed any hint that people are traveling to fight in order to affect governance in their home countries: the motivation is consistently to end the oppression of Muslims and expel the infidel in the place where the fight is going on.

The contention that AQ s driven by populaces who oppose their own governments and believe that support for AQ will change those governments has to be supported by convincing evidence and reasoning to be accepted. It can't simply be decreed.
We are looking at the exact same evidence, just as a city person, an occasional hunter and an experienced woodsman all look at the same sign in a forest. Just because the first two "see no evidence" of the many things the woodsman sees does not mean the woodsman is just making stuff up. He sees nuances that the others miss. This is true in all walks of life. We are talking about the nuance here, and I realize nuance is hard to describe, and equally hard to appreciate. One has to rely on a bit of faith.

AQ's message has always relied heavily on the pillar that Muslim populaces dissatisfied with their own situations of governance (under "apostate" regimes -i.e., regimes that have sold out to the West), must first break the sources of that corrupting external influence and support before they can find success at home. This is a bit part of their UW campaign message. They use this to recruit individual fighters and to solicit economic support and to find "sanctuary" for the nodes of their networked operations.

People contribute to this for many reasons, but if it is hard evidence you seek, if you much touch the holes in Jesus's hands, look simply at products such as the report on foreign fighters in Iraq prepared by Dr Joe Felter several years ago, and then compare where those "foreign fighters" came from with where the "Arab Spring" later burst into action. AQ drew upon the the very high conditions of insurgency in those states and drew upon the sub-populaces who were most dissatisfied with their own governments. They traveled to Iraq not to help make Iraq part of some "Caliphate," but rather to help defeat this source of foreign influence so that they could finally find some success at home.

Now, when those insurgencies did finally go active at home (with AQ support and influence), did the people all rally under an AQ flag and attempt to elevate AQ into the governance of their country or to join some "Caliphate"? Of course not. Again, revolution is not to bring some specific form of governance seen as good, revolution gains popular support to remove some system of governance widely deemed as bad. With success finally at hand after so many generations, why would anyone want to submit themselves to the extremist view of the world offered by AQ? Revolution, perhaps more than any other condition, makes for strange bedfellows. We need to stop judging people by who they associate with in times of great crisis and need, and instead appreciate the nature of all the relationships in play, and the primary purpose for action by the various parties.

Bill says
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"governments have a right to defend themselves"
This is very true, but in life as in law, for every right there are reciprocal duties.

We are too quick to jump in and help certain governments exercise their "rights" to defend themselves from their own insurgent populaces when we are in hot pursuit of the handful of AQ operatives working among those populaces conducting UW. We are so consumed by our own pursuit of our "right" to exact our revenge on AQ and to render them unable to conduct future attacks on the US and our interests that we forget our own reciprocal duties as well.

It is time for governments under attack by non-state actors, be they insurgents at home, or regional UW/terrorist actors from abroad to stop using the "right to defend themselves" as rationale for acting in ways counter to their own principles and in ways that are so abusive of the sovereignty of others. It is time for governments to equally hold themselves to task for the "duty" part of that equation.

The governments where the insurgent populaces live must (IE "have a duty") to listen to and seek to govern their entire populaces fairly and in a manner consistent with fundamental aspects of human nature (which manifest uniquely in every populace). Instead they cling to the status quo (not to be coerced by terrorism), and seek simply to "enforce the rule of law."

When any nation seeks to vigorously enforce rule of law that is perceived as unjust by those that law is enforced against, it is tyranny. Doubly so when the government seeking to enforce those laws is perceived as having no legitimate right to do so by those they affect.

We do not need to fix the national governance of others, but neither should we enable others to ignore their duties to their own people. What the US needs to focus on is updating our foreign policies so that we operate under the same principles abroad that we operate under at home. Our problem is not a domestic one (though that is growing as well), but rather a foreign one. Governance does not stop at borders, and US governance affects people around the globe. We have a duty to ensure to the degree possible that our governance does not provoke others to bring illegal violence back against us. Excessive pursuit of our right to defend ourselves does far more damage to make those perceptions worse, than the killing of a few particular actors serves to make things better. We celebrate our tactical victories, while we ignore our growing strategic failure.

But boy do we love tactics. No nuance to interpret there. Dead is dead. Success, next target.

We still have those rights, but we must tailor how we pursue those rights into the larger context of how we pursue our duties. You can't hand some one a gift with one hand, and then punch him in the face with the other and expect a positive result. We must subjugate all of our tactical actions of every nature to the larger strategic effects we seek to achieve. Currently we just measure tactical successes of tactical actions and then assume they will add up to strategic success. That does not work in this type of conflict.
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Old 12-03-2012   #66
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When any nation seeks to vigorously enforce rule of law that is perceived as unjust by those that law is enforced against, it is tyranny. Doubly so when the government seeking to enforce those laws is perceived as having no legitimate right to do so by those they affect.
That's a horrible kind of definition.
The political opposition (minority) in a country often perceives rules given by the majority (and enforced through rule of law) as unjust, and very much ideology-driven minority partisans question the legitimacy of such acts at times (there's a prominent example these days).

This doesn't mean there's tyranny at work. It requires very different criteria to be met.
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Old 12-04-2012   #67
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People contribute to this for many reasons, but if it is hard evidence you seek, if you much touch the holes in Jesus's hands, look simply at products such as the report on foreign fighters in Iraq prepared by Dr Joe Felter several years ago, and then compare where those "foreign fighters" came from with where the "Arab Spring" later burst into action.
That's not evidence. It's not even a very compelling correlation.

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AQ drew upon the the very high conditions of insurgency in those states and drew upon the sub-populaces who were most dissatisfied with their own governments. They traveled to Iraq not to help make Iraq part of some "Caliphate," but rather to help defeat this source of foreign influence so that they could finally find some success at home.
And you expect us to take this statement, unsupported, on faith? As revealed truth? Sorry, but that's stretching faith beyond the breaking point. Just a few of the problems with that formulation:

1. The "foreign fighter" phenomenon is not limited to Iraq, or to places where the fighters are fighting the US. Foreign fighters have appeared in numerous conflicts, most of which have no plausible connection to conditions in their home countries. Are you suggesting that foreign fighters who traveled to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan or the Russians in Chechnya did so to defeat foreign influence in their home country? That Arabs who fought in Bosnia or the Tajik civil war were trying to affect governance at home? Or that foreign fighters in conflicts where the US is involved have a completely different set of motivations than foreign fighters in other conflicts?

2. Many foreign fighters who fought came form countries where foreign influence in general and US influence specifically have no meaningful place in sustaining the regime that ruled their home country. There's no imaginable reason why a Libyan or a Syrian would fight Americans in Iraq to remove a source of support for a government he disliked at home. These governments were not in any way supported or sustained by the US, but they still provided foreign fighters.

3. Studies based on interviews with captured foreign fighters do not reveal any hint of the motive that you suggest. In fact this idea is notably absent from every study of foreign fighters that I've seen. Now maybe it's true that everybody else looking at the problem is just a dumb city slicker wandering around in the bush missing all the signs that are clear to you alone... but is there not at least a chance that some of them aren't so ignorant? It would be useful if you could describe these signs nobody else sees in specific detail, not in generalities.

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Now, when those insurgencies did finally go active at home (with AQ support and influence), did the people all rally under an AQ flag and attempt to elevate AQ into the governance of their country or to join some "Caliphate"? Of course not.
I see little evidence to suggest that AQ support and influence had anything to do with the Arab Spring. Looked more to me like AQ was taken by surprise and failed to capitalize to any significant degree, largely because their message was simply inconsistent with the desires that drove the Arab Spring.

AQ's most notable failure to inspire revolution, of course, had nothing to do with the Arab Spring. Throughout the early to mid 1990s AQ tried desperately to provoke revolution in Saudi Arabia. Circumstances should have been ideal for this effort: he was coming off what was perceived as a great victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan, he had drawn extensive support within Saudi Arabia during that fight and had a deep network of contacts. Conditions in Saudi Arabia looked ripe: the oil glut had caused massive dislocation and the presence of American forces was a major irritant. Still the effort fell flat on its face. Osama was unable to generate anything even remotely approaching the critical mass needed to challenge the government. His message just didn't resonate: Saudis were more than willing to support his jihad against the Soviets, but when he took it home they weren't interested. It's not plausible that his failure was caused by exile and repression: the Ayatollah Khomeini, for one, had inspired a revolution from exile in an equally repressive environment bys mailing cassette tapes. His message resonated with Iranians, and repression failed. Osama just didn't have the support. That doesn't mean Saudis loved the royal family, it meant that they don't see AQ as a viable alternative.

Again, AQ has certainly tried to push the narrative built around opposition to apostate regimes. That narrative hasn't really worked for them, though: they've only been able to draw widespread support when they've opposed foreign invaders in Muslim lands.

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We are too quick to jump in and help certain governments exercise their "rights" to defend themselves from their own insurgent populaces
Again, other than in Iraq and Afghanistan, where are we helping a Muslim government to fight an insurgent populace, or enabling a Muslim government to oppress its populace? They don't generally need our help or ask our permission, and they aren't going to stop because we want them to.

Your argument would be more effective if it referred to specific policies and specific countries, and gave examples of policies that you think are counterproductive and the policies you believe should replace them.
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Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-04-2012 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Fix quote
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Old 12-04-2012   #68
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Bob,

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AQ drew upon the the very high conditions of insurgency in those states and drew upon the sub-populaces who were most dissatisfied with their own governments. They traveled to Iraq not to help make Iraq part of some "Caliphate," but rather to help defeat this source of foreign influence so that they could finally find some success at home.
I think you need to revisit what AQ did in those countries. Yes, they wanted to kill the foreign infidel and drive them out of "Muslim lands." But more than that they wanted to purge the apostates. Look at the actual operations conducted by AQ-in-Iraq - they killed so many Muslim Iraqis that even UBL got pissed off at the carnage they caused. I'm not sure how bombing a market full of Shiites helps to defeat the "foreign influence," but maybe someone can explain it to me.
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Old 12-04-2012   #69
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Posted by Fuches

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Afghanistan. Was also done in Pakistan, Egypt, ..... long list, especially if you go back a bit.
Yes, old stories are relevant if there hasn't been a fundamental break with old practices.
What time period are you speaking of in regards to Afghanistan? As for Egypt and I would add Iran prior to the 79 revolution we chose what we believed to the lesser of two evils that was designed to achieve the most good for the most people. In hindsight we can question every decision and made, but to evaluate them fairly you have to look at them in the context in which they were made. I think you miss a very important point regarding Egypt. Our many years of engaging their military helped professionalize their force and taught respect for human rights, at least my Middle Eastern standards. If we didn't have that relationship I fear that much worse would have happened at Tahir Square.

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I consider sending this to a German website for joke quotes.
Did you ever take notice of other countries' foreign policies? Or your own countries'?
Have all the fun you like, but when doing so please a hard look at your country's foreign policy and share with us what nations you liberated from oppression? What groups of people you protected from genocide? Few people in the U.S. to include myself claim our country is perfect and that serious mistakes haven't been made throughout our history, but I find it hard to argue with the claim that no nation in history has done for the betterment of mankind.

Has for noticing other nation's foreign policy, yes I do take notice. I watched first hand as the French still try to implement an oppressive policy in parts of Africa, on the other hand I have been impressed with the efforts of Norway to promote peace in many war torn areas through diplomacy. I have seen numerous countries push economic development programs, and of course trade deals, etc. If you have a particular point you like to make about German foreign policy please make it.

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It's especially ironic as when the U.S. applies pressure, it very often hurts those foreign people first and foremost. Those alleged hundred of thousands of less births or children died of poor care in Iraq prior to 2001; they were -if true at all- the product of Saddam's AND U.S. policies.
I agree with you on this issue and have written as much several times on SWJ. It was a cowardly policy that achieved little except wrecking Iraqi socieyt and further empowering Saddam.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4Pgp...yer_detailpage

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Almost all other countries wanted the sanctions lifted, only the U.S. and UK consistently kept all embargoes up. The lesson; never empower the US or UK to pull it off a second time, no open-ended UN embargoes any more!
True, this wasn't a shinning moment in our history, but it doesn't erase all the good we have done over the years either.
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Old 12-04-2012   #70
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Posted by Bob's World

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Currently we just measure tactical successes of tactical actions and then assume they will add up to strategic success. That does not work in this type of conflict.
First off this isn't true anywhere and it has never has been in our history.

Second, you have habit of conflating tactical operations and our national strategy. A Bde commander may very appropriately measure his success on tactical successes as they related to targets, securing an area, etc., but he is there to support a larger strategy that involves much more than what the military is doing.

Name your JSOTF or JTF, they have tactical and operational level missions that have a strong military flavor that are supporting a larger strategy where all the elements of DIME are at play, and not just the U.S.. In some cases numerous nations are playing a strategic role openly or behind the scenes.

SOF and GPF should be focused tactical successes, some of those tactical successes are enabled through indirect ways, but they're their to achieve the M in DIME. All elements of national power blend with one another to some degree, so it isn't as stove piped as it sounds.
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Old 12-04-2012   #71
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Have all the fun you like, but when doing so please a hard look at your country's foreign policy and share with us what nations you liberated from oppression?
Irrelevant, as I was disputing
"No other nation in the world puts more pressure on governments to treat their people better than the U.S., (...) "

The U.S. rarely does or did so at all. It's at times the cover for what it really presses for, though. The hypocrisy of opposing evil only when it's not useful is overwhelming.

The mere words don't mean much. That's why the U.S.'s track record in this regard has such a weak pro side.

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Few people in the U.S. to include myself claim our country is perfect and that serious mistakes haven't been made throughout our history, but I find it hard to argue with the claim that no nation in history has done for the betterment of mankind.
It's very easy to answer: Greeks, Frenchmen, Englishmen, probably even Germans.
The power of philosophical and conceptual advances originating from these countries is much greater than whatever feeble attempts of good-willed and at the same time not utterly inept foreign policy the U.S. can bring up to compete.


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If you have a particular point you like to make about German foreign policy please make it.
You made a general claim, so there's no reason to limit the answer to a specific part.


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True, this wasn't a shinning moment in our history, but it doesn't erase all the good we have done over the years either.
It doesn't. The problem is that all the bad stuff outweights the good stuff in my opinion.
Opinions may vary, but I suppose it's only possible to see more positives than negatives by assuming more horrible things would have happened without this or that meddling.
Then again, keep in mind that your country almost blew up the world in a conflict/rivalry which it hyped up itself and in which it fearmongered superbly, vastly exaggerating the problem.
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Old 12-04-2012   #72
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
It's very easy to answer: Greeks, Frenchmen, Englishmen, probably even Germans.

The power of philosophical and conceptual advances originating from these countries is much greater than whatever feeble attempts of good-willed and at the same time not utterly inept foreign policy the U.S. can bring up to compete.
As a U.S. citizen who lived in Central America in the mid-90s I am not apt to defend the foreign policy of my nation, but on the topic of philosophical advances in particular, my country did have something to do with the birth of representative government in France. It is an understatement to say that the French Revolution was a mixed bag, but it (and the philosophical advances leading to and emanating from it) did have some power.
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Old 12-04-2012   #73
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Bob,



I think you need to revisit what AQ did in those countries. Yes, they wanted to kill the foreign infidel and drive them out of "Muslim lands." But more than that they wanted to purge the apostates. Look at the actual operations conducted by AQ-in-Iraq - they killed so many Muslim Iraqis that even UBL got pissed off at the carnage they caused. I'm not sure how bombing a market full of Shiites helps to defeat the "foreign influence," but maybe someone can explain it to me.
AQ did not go to Iraq until we did, and they went there because we were there. It was, for AQ, primarily a battle field against foreign influence in the region. Their battlefields for taking on "apostates" were in all those other Muslim countrie around the region where they were recruiting fighters to come help them against us in Iraq, while at the same time conducting UW to support those insurgent movements at home.

The fact that they killed many Muslim Iraqis is immaterial to their goals there, just as the fact that we killed many Muslim Iraqis was immaterial to ours.

But for our operations to remove Saddam, there would not likely be any AQ in Iraq today, and very little Iranian influence as well. We need to own that.
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Old 12-04-2012   #74
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Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
As a U.S. citizen who lived in Central America in the mid-90s I am not apt to defend the foreign policy of my nation, but on the topic of philosophical advances in particular, my country did have something to do with the birth of representative government in France. It is an understatement to say that the French Revolution was a mixed bag, but it (and the philosophical advances leading to and emanating from it) did have some power.
ganulv, what we know as "French Revolution" was about the gazillionth French popular revolt - the one that eventually succeeded. There was no need for the improvement of the odds of a revolt as evidenced by the earlier ones, it was the food price crisis that determined Paris would be involved and not mere peasants far away as usual, the U.S. had no influence on the success chance of the revolt, Voltaire etc provided the enlightenment philosophical underpinnings which made some of the wealthy people join the revolt and there was really little political happening in France until long after 1815 that one could be proud of.
The single best thing of the revolt was probably the code civil - do you want to claim this was due to U.S. influence?
According to Wikipedia, it was the work of four French scholars and Napoleon.

The chronological proximity and order of the American and French revolutions has been used to build up one more U.S. myth, but I don't subscribe to it.
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Old 12-04-2012   #75
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Fuchs, Bill, all,

As we think about contributions towards 'the betterment of world' one place to look would be:

List of Nobel laureates by country, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...tes_by_country

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Old 12-04-2012   #76
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ganulv, what we know as "French Revolution" was about the gazillionth French popular revolt - the one that eventually succeeded. There was no need for the improvement of the odds of a revolt as evidenced by the earlier ones, it was the food price crisis that determined Paris would be involved and not mere peasants far away as usual, the U.S. had no influence on the success chance of the revolt, Voltaire etc provided the enlightenment philosophical underpinnings which made some of the wealthy people join the revolt and there was really little political happening in France until long after 1815 that one could be proud of.
You're apples-and-oranging and not sticking to a fixed definition of "success." There was the overthrowing of the aristocracy and there was the creation of a new governing framework (which ended up being the ascendency of the bourgeoisie). I don't think anyone would argue that the U.S. had much to do directly with the former (plently indirectly through the debt the French Crown ran up in aiding the Revolutionaries), but no influence on the latter? I'll of course give you that the flows from Voltaire, Rousseau, to Jefferson and back across the Atlantic were reciprocal, but come on, the American experiment was looked to.

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The chronological proximity and order of the American and French revolutions has been used to build up one more U.S. myth, but I don't subscribe to it.
So you are arguing that things either just happened to occur more quickly in France or just happened to take longer in Germany and Italy?
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Old 12-04-2012   #77
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Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
I can read French.
Can you point me at a francophone source, not suspicious of being partial to your view by birth, telling us that the colonists were an important and positive influence on the French Revolution? Or maybe a German one. Dutch? Spanish?

I suppose there are some, but I doubt they would provide substantial food for a list of the U.S.' good deeds.


To me, U.S. claims of being a big force for good always weep a lot of an U.S.-centric worldview.
U.S. claims of being a bigger force for good than ugly add an unhealthy dose of disrespect or ignorance concerning the damage done to this.


I don't think any country can really claim to be a huge force for good in the world. Especially not in the balance.
The ones which do almost no harm and some good tend to be small, such as Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway - and the Dutch need to cope with their imperialism history just as the great powers have some graveyards of imperialism victims somewhere (including the U.S.).

Foreign policy is -save for diplomatic efforts of some envoys such as some odd Scandinavians or Luxembourg's pols in some places- generally a poor direction for looking at in search for good deeds.
Foreign policy is usually about gaming, being gamed or simply pursuing actual national interest (surprisingly rare).
Almost all good deeds in this area have a smell of hypocrisy because of their selectivity or are by-products of or cover for something else.


The stuff where one can really claim to have helped mankind advance is usually about ideas; philosophy and science mostly. That's overwhelmingly the product of individuals (hardly practical any more in many sciences) who either worked for profit or were employed to first and foremost bring forward their own country.


U.S. myths and illusions about being a force for good are really as childish as equivalent German myths and illusions a hundred years ago were.
(I'm often astonished how Americans still stick to conceptions and problems which European countries did shed between 120 and 20 year ago.)
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Old 12-04-2012   #78
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I can read French.
Can you point me at a francophone source, not suspicious of being partial to your view by birth, telling us that the colonists were an important and positive influence on the French Revolution? Or maybe a German one. Dutch? Spanish?

I suppose there are some, but I doubt they would provide substantial food for a list of the U.S.' good deeds.
I think you have decided already, so why go to the trouble?

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The stuff where one can really claim to have helped mankind advance is usually about ideas; philosophy and science mostly. That's overwhelmingly the product of individuals (hardly practical any more in many sciences) who either worked for profit or were employed to first and foremost bring forward their own country.
Did I or did I not specifically point out that I was speaking of philosophy in my post above?
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Old 12-04-2012   #79
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I think you have decided already, so why go to the trouble?
There's no real reason to. Sometimes people discuss because they like to express their opinion, without an actual chance to convince the other participant(s) consciously.

It's actually a quite common style of discussion.
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Old 12-04-2012   #80
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As they say, "there are no clean hands" in this business of being a powerful state that seeks to exercise interests abroad.

Some go in with the intent to get their hands dirty, or not caring, others do so inadvertently, but all get dirty.

These countries also tend to logically prioritize their own interests in determining what outcomes they seek to promote. The US is no different in that regard.

Where we differ is that we define as interests (particularly in the post Cold War era) broad concepts of promoting US leadership, US values and US democracy. I understand the attractive logic and good intentions behind why those "interests" made their way into our national security strategy, but I disagree with them very much and believe they actually lead us more often to do things that put our historic interests at risk, rather than make them more secure.

Having good intentions is better than having bad intentions, but the nuance of one's intentions are typically lost on a popualce that finds themself on the reciving end of the actual engagement. There is, after all, no such thing as "friendly fire."

(Oh, and the French very much bought into a form of the ideals of democracy developed during the American experience. The French also took those ideals on the road to "share" with "liberated" populaces in places such as Egypt and Spain and, like the US today, were always surprised when their well intended efforts were met with powerful resistance insurgencies from those recently liberated oppressed people.)
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