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Old 12-04-2012   #81
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
It's actually a quite common style of discussion.
Discussion?
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Old 12-05-2012   #82
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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."
Also worth remembering that anything we do, including nothing, is going to piss somebody off, sometimes to the point of violence. It's worth asking, in any given case, whether we've pissed off "a populace" or a small fraction of a populace that has a powerful vested interest in pursuing a certain agenda.

If we're looking for a policy that will please everybody and assure that everybody loves us and nobody hates us, we might as well give up from the start, because no such thing can exist.
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Old 12-05-2012   #83
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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

Good catch, this is one measure of what nation has made the most (and continues to do) contributions to the betterment of mankind, but it still doesn't capture the essence of our national character to do well for others (this character is separate from our government).
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Old 12-05-2012   #84
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Good catch, this is one measure of what nation has made the most (and continues to do) contributions to the betterment of mankind, but it still doesn't capture the essence of our national character to do well for others (this character is separate from our government).
Agree.
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Old 12-05-2012   #85
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List of Nobel laureates by country, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...tes_by_country

This might be a better reference:

List of countries by Nobel laureates per capita:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...tes_per_capita

Availability of research funding in different countries would also need to be factored in to get a relevant comparison.
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Old 12-05-2012   #86
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This might be a better reference:

List of countries by Nobel laureates per capita:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...tes_per_capita

Availability of research funding in different countries would also need to be factored in to get a relevant comparison.
No doubt your added perspective is useful. My agreement with Bill Moore and Surferbeetle on this score is based in part on the following anecdote.

A relative of mine went from Singapore to Caltech in the eighties studying interplanetary geophysics; moved on to JPL and ended up working on the Mars Observer, which the Martians unfortunately shot down in '93.

This same kid once sat for hours in front of her family's first washing machine (front loader) in the late seventies watching it like it was left behind by ancient astronauts.

The semi-autistic nerds she studied with at Caltech are some of the most supportive and helpful oddballs one could imagine and for the most part remain a close-knit group to this day. She now teaches high school. What does any of this mean? I don't know, but it impresses me for some reason.

(In fairness to Fuchs, the washing machine may have been a Grundig, if memory serves)

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Old 12-05-2012   #87
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Posted by Bill Moore
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Good catch, this is one measure of what nation has made the most (and continues to do) contributions to the betterment of mankind, but it still doesn't capture the essence of our national character to do well for others (this character is separate from our government).
Bill,

Like you, I have traveled and seen enough to know that America is in many instances a force for good.

Perhaps part of the underlying concept we are wrestling with (the elephant and the blind men describing it's various parts) is appreciation/trust/reliability? Sunrises (across Nicaraguan jungles, Iraqi rivers, Euro mountain ranges, US seacoasts, etc) and and nighttime cityscapes (San Salvador, Baghdad, Barcelona, Munich, Ciudad Juarez, or wherever) often provide me with daily hope and inspiration. Like me, you know that a basic meal, clean water, shelter, electricity, and security are pretty big deals in many parts of the world. Systems - technical, economic, and governance have to successfully mesh every day/night to make these basics available, and that meshing requires appreciation/trust/reliability.

Are fuel deliveries dependable? Is the fuel sufficiently pure to spin the turbine? Is the turbine sufficiently engineered and maintained to generate power? Are the transmission and distribution systems capable and sufficiently placed? Are generators the answer instead? Will the 'schools' persist for long enough to educate the number of minds needed to carry the new generation along while caring for old one and the future one to come?

What organizations/countries/clusters are known/trusted for turbines (Hitachi, Siemens, GE, etc), fuel (coal, oil, natural gas, etc), food (wheat, soybeans, etc), education (universities), information (newspapers, internet, telecommunications, etc)?

War and death, however, literally make many gun-shy. That's double edged of course, good for our enemies (few of them) and bad for our friends, admirers, and business/economics partners (many of those). Shorthand wise, we are out of balance and we need to get back to focusing on the many versus the few. Akin to - waaayyyy too much time & resources spent on the screw-ups to the detriment of the unit as a whole...

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Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
This might be a better reference:

List of countries by Nobel laureates per capita:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...tes_per_capita
Ratio's are very helpful for gaining additional insights and context that numbers in isolation do not always provide.

Growing and building things for a better tomorrow versus arbitrarily imposing them.

Free markets (in many instances the theoretical ideal, bounded by messy reality of course) and coalition building? Globalization?

Backwards,

Perhaps a sitcom for you...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Bang_Theory
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Old 12-05-2012   #88
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Backwards,

Perhaps a sitcom for you...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Bang_Theory
Call me Nigel.
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Old 12-05-2012   #89
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The semi-autistic nerds she studied with at Caltech are some of the most supportive and helpful oddballs one could imagine and for the most part remain a close-knit group to this day. She now teaches high school. What does any of this mean? I don't know, but it impresses me for some reason.
I've often noted that even people who truly dislike the United States routinely comment that individual Americans seem to be very nice people. They sometimes seem to find this a bit disconcerting, as if the world would be a more consistent place for them if we were all A-holes.

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Like me, you know that a basic meal, clean water, shelter, electricity, and security are pretty big deals in many parts of the world. Systems - technical, economic, and governance have to successfully mesh every day/night to make these basics available, and that meshing requires appreciation/trust/reliability.
I agree... but too often Americans think such systems can simply be installed, and this misimpression often leads to all manner of well intentioned mess.
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Old 12-05-2012   #90
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I've often noted that even people who truly dislike the United States routinely comment that individual Americans seem to be very nice people. They sometimes seem to find this a bit disconcerting, as if the world would be a more consistent place for them if we were all A-holes.
People who are able to muster up the energy to 'truly dislike' entire countries probably find a-hole lot of things disconcerting.
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Old 12-05-2012   #91
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People who are able to muster up the energy to 'truly dislike' entire countries probably find a-hole lot of things disconcerting.
A surprising number of people seem to feel bereft without someone to loathe, and generic loathing seems every bit as satisfying as specific loathing, maybe more so. Grace Slick didn't quite sing "don't you want somebody to hate", but she might have...
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Old 12-05-2012   #92
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A surprising number of people seem to feel bereft without someone to loathe, and generic loathing seems every bit as satisfying as specific loathing, maybe more so. Grace Slick didn't quite sing "don't you want somebody to hate", but she might have...
I'm straining the memory banks here, but I seem to recall being instructed that Marlowe uses the Mephistopheles character in Doctor Faustus to suggest that there is at root a form of self-loathing proportional to our distance from the Divine. YMMV.


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Old 12-05-2012   #93
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I've often noted that even people who truly dislike the United States routinely comment that individual Americans seem to be very nice people. They sometimes seem to find this a bit disconcerting, as if the world would be a more consistent place for them if we were all A-holes.
In many ways, this is the crux of the problem for the US. What we often chalk up broadly as "anti-Americanism" is in fact much more "anti-American Foreign Policy and how we seek to pursue the same."

As noted here, we create an environment at home where individuals can excel, as noted by the many Nobel prizes awarded to Americans; yet when our government seeks to determine what our national interests are abroad, and how to best secure those interests, we make decisions, implement policies, and pursue actions that far too often deny for others who live in those places the very things we demand for ourselves at home.

The US must come to grips with this dichotomy. If a handful of AQ operatives were working across the US Midwest conducting UW, just as they are currently across the Magreb in Africa, would we pursue the same policies and rules of engagement in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska that we are in countries such as Mali, Algeria and Libya?

If a governor in North Dakota, a new oil-rich state, suddenly grabbed vast powers from the other branches of government and the people he is supposed to serve and vested those powers in his self, would we rationalize that the oil from that state is too important to risk a disruption of losing that particular leader and our relationship with him? Would we then act to help him expand the capacity of the state police and national guard so that they could more effectively protect the government from the illegal violent acts coming from that populace? After all, as Bill reminds us, a government as the right to defend itself. Equally the US has a right to pursue its interests.

The US is not an evil country or even very oppressive as major global powers in history go. In fact, history will likely find us to be this oddly conflicted giant, who sought great control, power and influence on one hand, but was so torn by guilt that it paid full retail prices for what it could have taken by force, and ultimately went broke as it enriched and protected those it had imposed itself upon abroad. I'm not sure history will know what to do with that, as it is indeed "American exceptionalism" at work. I suspect the Chinese already scratch their heads in wonder as they shape their own long-range plans, always keen to avoid the mistakes of others.
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Old 12-05-2012   #94
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The US must come to grips with this dichotomy. If a handful of AQ operatives were working across the US Midwest conducting UW, just as they are currently across the Magreb in Africa, would we pursue the same policies and rules of engagement in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska that we are in countries such as Mali, Algeria and Libya?

If a governor in North Dakota, a new oil-rich state, suddenly grabbed vast powers from the other branches of government and the people he is supposed to serve and vested those powers in his self, would we rationalize that the oil from that state is too important to risk a disruption of losing that particular leader and our relationship with him? Would we then act to help him expand the capacity of the state police and national guard so that they could more effectively protect the government from the illegal violent acts coming from that populace? After all, as Bill reminds us, a government as the right to defend itself. Equally the US has a right to pursue its interests.
The dichotomy identified is based on analogies that have far too many relevant dissimilarities to make them a useful tool for drawing conclusions. What a government does/may do legitimately within its own borders is very different from what it does/may do legitimately elsewhere, if for no other reason than the differences in sovereign power in the two arenas.

In an earlier post, Bob's World identified a correlation between rights and duties, noting that the having of a right spawns a correlative duty. One of the things that I think he got wrong was that the correlation does not exist within a single holder. That is, my rights to, e.g., life, liberty, and property (from Locke) do not produce duties for me to protect my life, not to enslave myself, and to seek to acquire property. Instead, my right to life (if I have one) engenders a correspondiong duty in others not to deprive me of my life without good reason.

I add the " without good reason" because I doubt rights are absolute. As Justice Holmes noted in Schnenk v. US (249 U.S. 47, 1919)
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The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.
I also submit that Bob's World has the primacy of rights over duties just backwards, Rather than saying that my possession of a right spawns a correlative duty in others, I would suggest that a more correct view of the relation between rights and duties looks like the following: because each of us has duties, others may make rights claims against us in light of those duties.

Finally, I am unclear from whence Bill and Bob derive this "right" of self defence for governments. The right of self defence for a nation is derived, in an a argument found in St Augustine's writings, from the right of individual self defense. But that is an argument from analogy, not a deduction, and the analogy may be as suspect as Bob's two analogies quoted above. Additionally, a nation is much more than just its government.
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Old 12-05-2012   #95
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Finally, I am unclear from whence Bill and Bob derive this "right" of self defence for governments. The right of self defence for a nation is derived, in an a argument found in St Augustine's writings, from the right of individual self defense. But that is an argument from analogy, not a deduction, and the analogy may be as suspect as Bob's two analogies quoted above. Additionally, a nation is much more than just its government.
Wm,

One for the reading list

Scottexalonia Rising, By ROGER COHEN, Published: November 26, 2012, IHT, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/op...tml?ref=europe

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Of course, immigration, lust and love have mixed the blood of the Scottish, Texan and Catalonian tribes (Call them “Scottexalonia” in their shared separation itch.) “I’m a mutt,” Barack Obama once said. So, increasingly, is a wired, remittance-linked world where many live with, say, one foot in Birmingham and another in Lahore.
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In 1996, I began a piece called “Global forces batter politics” with these words: “Throughout much of the world today, politics lags behind economics, like a horse and buggy haplessly trailing a sports car. While politicians go through the motions of national elections — offering chimerical programs and slogans — world markets, the Internet and the furious pace of trade involve people in a global game in which elected representatives figure as little more than bit players.”

Extrapolate out 16 years from that. National politics, as President François Hollande of France is only the latest to discover, is often no more than tweaking at the margins in the exiguous political space left by markets and other global forces. And that is in France!
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Old 12-05-2012   #96
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Thanks for quoting Holmes correctly and in full:

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The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.
He is often "quoted" (paraphrased) with "falsely" omitted.

Regards

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Old 12-05-2012   #97
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So, then I am to believe that a country can act more aggressively and in a war-like manner in some other country where it has no sovereign rights than it can within its own borders??

Certainly for the US we can get away with doing so, but just because an action is "legal" does not mean that it is also "right"; Much of what we do legally overseas is done in such a manner as to build causation and motivation for others to conduct acts of terrorism against us, or to provide support to those who intend to do so.

We take far too much comfort in the "legality" of our actions and do not place nearly enough importance on the propriety of our actions. We believe if a government has legal legitimacy in accordance with our laws that that is more important than having political legitimacy in accordance with the culture of the people and places they hope to govern.

Populace-based conflicts are by their very nature illegal; and in operating outside the law do not much care about the law or our legal holdings and positions. For purposes of stability political legitimacy trumps legal legitimacy virtually every time.

No, my examples of operations we do not conduct within our own borders was simply to make the point that we all know that such operations would be both illegal and improper. They are no less improper when we conduct them abroad, only more legal. Such operations create sanctuary, support and recruits for ogainzations such as AQ, even as they take out some small number of current operators. HOW we operate is far more important than how efficiently we operate and how big of a score we put up on our chart of tactical metrics.

Tactical success of this nature is far more apt to lead to strategic failure than to the ends we actually seek. That does not mean to end tactical operations, but rather to refrom the nature and scope of them so as to make them more proper. This will be far less effective tactically, but we need to put an eye on the bigger picture.
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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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Old 12-06-2012   #98
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So, then I am to believe that a country can act more aggressively and in a war-like manner in some other country where it has no sovereign rights than it can within its own borders??
Certainly, because one cannot wage war within/against one's own country. How odd does this sound? "Today the President of the United States requested that the Senate ratify his declaration of war against his own country."
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[J]ust because an action is "legal" does not mean that it is also "right"
In similar fashion, moral rectitude ("right") does not also confer legality. And please don't forget that "right/wrong"," moral/immoral", and "legal/illegal" are contraries not contradictories. Some things are amoral or non-moral, non-legal or extra-legal.

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Populace-based conflicts are by their very nature illegal
Proof please
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No, my examples of operations we do not conduct within our own borders was simply to make the point that we all know that such operations would be both illegal and improper. They are no less improper when we conduct them abroad, only more legal. Such operations create sanctuary, support and recruits for ogainzations such as AQ, even as they take out some small number of current operators. HOW we operate is far more important than how efficiently we operate and how big of a score we put up on our chart of tactical metrics.
I am reminded of a scene from the movie The Battle of Algiers. I do not have the exact quotation at hand, but in the scene, Col Mathieru is briefing other French paras on the mission. He tells them that as much as they might not like to hear it, what they are doing is police work, not war.
Here are some other quotations from the movie that are worth considering.
In the first, a journalist is interviewing a captured FALN leader :
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Battle of Algiers
Journalist: M. Ben M'Hidi, don't you think it's a bit cowardly to use women's baskets and handbags to carry explosive devices that kill so many innocent people?
Ben M'Hidi: And doesn't it seem to you even more cowardly to drop napalm bombs on defenseless villages, so that there are a thousand times more innocent victims? Of course, if we had your airplanes it would be a lot easier for us. Give us your bombers, and you can have our baskets.
In the following, Col Mathieu is refering to the previous quotation
Quote:
And those who explode bombs in public places, do they respect the law perhaps? When you put that question to Ben M'Hidi, remember what he said?
Finally, we have a discussion between two FALN leaders
Quote:
Ben M'Hidi: Jaffar says you weren't in favor of the strike.
Ali La Pointe: No, I wasn't.
Ben M'Hidi: Why not?
Ali La Pointe: Because we were ordered not to use arms.
Ben M'Hidi: Acts of violence don't win wars. Neither wars nor revolutions. Terrorism is useful as a start. But then, the people themselves must act. That's the rationale behind this strike: to mobilize all Algerians, to assess our strength.
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Old 12-06-2012   #99
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Legal populace based conflict is "politics." I don't think we are discussing politics. Illegal politics is "insurgency' (and yes, I realize there are many definitions of insurgency and most like to include "violence" as a required characteristic)

As to waging war against one's own populace, I absolutely agree that governments should not do so, and that therefore revolutionary insurgency is much more a civil emergency than a form of war, and that COIN against a revolutionary insurgency is not warfare.

Yet we label it so.

The government of Afghanistan wages war against its populace, and we assist them in that endeavor.

The government of Syria wages war against its populace and we condem them for that endeavor.

The government of Yemen wages war against its populace and we assist them in that endeavor.

etc, etc, etc. Far too often when a government simply sets out to "enforce the rule of law" they end up waging war against their populace as their approach to COIN. More enlighted governments willl wage war with one hand and hand out goodies with the other hand.

Some may think it a fine nuance to worry about what one calls their activities.

I think COIN is only a domestic operation, and that it is not war. Others (and doctrine) differ.

I think when we help another with their COIN it is FID (and actually doctrine agrees, but we ignore that as "SOF-stuff that doesn't apply to conventional forces). It is important to recognize that our mission is unique from the host nation so that we don't inadvertently start violating the very sovereignty and legitimacy we are attempting to help repair. To often our solution is a major aspect of the problem due to this very effect. It is only just now, after over 11 years that the ISAF Commander is starting to subjugate itself to Afghan sovereignty. That is amazing. We rationalize our actions in the name of tactical efficiency, but it is rationalization all the same.
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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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Old 12-06-2012   #100
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So, then I am to believe that a country can act more aggressively and in a war-like manner in some other country where it has no sovereign rights than it can within its own borders??
We have the sovereign right to pursue people who attack us or who we know are plotting to attack us. In countries with functioning legal and law enforcement systems that doesn't have to be done in a "war like manner": that's not just in our country, it's in most countries. In the few exceptions where there is no local law, other means are needed. I quite agree that we shouldn't be targeting "nationalist insurgents" in these attacks, but neither am I convinced that we are. I don't think it's an entirely bad thing for nationalist insurgents (or anyone else) to know that if they harbor our enemies they may suffer for that decision.

I have a few issues with your proposition:

First, the connection you propose between AQ and nationalist insurgency is quite tenuous and not supported by hard evidence or detailed reasoning. If you propose a major policy shift based on that proposition, you have to support the proposition a lot more effectively.

Second, there's no clear need to compete with AQ for influence among nationalist insurgents because there's no clear evidence that AQ has much influence with nationalist insurgents. AQ's attempts to generate nationalist insurgency have generally failed: AQ has only gained real support when they fight against a foreign invader. Where nationalist insurgencies in Muslim countries have flourished, as in the Arab Spring, those insurgencies have shown few signs of AQ influence: even where AQ-connected groups have participated, they aren't in control. The Arab Spring rebellions had no special AQ flavor and even where Islamist groups like the Muslim Brothers have played major roles they have tried to steer toward a moderate stance. I see no concrete reason to assume that AQ is an effective or dominant element in any nationalist insurgency anywhere, and I think attempts to push the AQ issue to an insurgency perspective are very questionable.

Third, your policy recommendations are too general to be reasonably discussed. If you would select a few specific regions or nations where you think current policy is wrong, describe what you think is wrong, and offer specific recommendations illustrating your contentions, the argument would be more effective.

I certainly agree that invasion, occupation, regime change and "nation-building" in Iraq and Afghanistan were counterproductive and effectively gave AQ more of what it needs to survive, but I have no clear idea of what you actually and specifically propose to do outside those countries, especially in the core Arab countries. These nations are not our children or our dependencies, we have minimal influence over them, and we certainly aren't enabling them to oppress anyone. It's hard to see how your general propositions apply in any specific sense.

In some ways I think you're a bit stuck in a Cold War paradigm. Possibly the greatest mistake the US made in the Cold War was to allow Communists to seize the moral high ground of opposition to decaying colonial regimes and troglodyte post-colonial dictators. That decision did leave us in the awkward position of supporting and empowering (generally the empowerment was more economic than military) regimes that relied on us against insurgents that were primarily nationalist in character. The times they have a'changed, and I don't think that paradigm is particularly applicable now, at least not in any case I can think of offhand.
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“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

H.L. Mencken
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