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Old 12-29-2013   #1
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Default "Occupation by Policy" - How Victors Inadvertantly Provoke Resistance Insurgency

Moderator's Note

This thread was in the Operation Iraqi Freedom arena and on a quick review is a far more general topic so moved here (ends).


People enjoy comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam. Some comparisons fit, many do not. I believe it is high time to explore some other comparisons in a manner that may help us to better understand a family of conflicts, past and present. That family is Resistance.

The two case studies that most of the Small Wars Council community are very versed in for this thread are WWII and the ongoing US War on Terrorism. The core (rooted in human nature) dynamic that I would like to explore is the natural tendency for a foreign, and therefore illegitimate, occupation to trigger a resistance response in the populations affected by the same.

A resistance insurgency is very different than a revolutionary insurgency. The first is a continuation of war - where one system of governance seeks to coerce its will over another, where the government and army have been defeated, and only the population remain in the fight. Resistance is war.

A revolutionary insurgency, however, is internal to a single system of governance. Like the division of a cell, revolutionary insurgency occurs when some segment of the population comes to feel compelled to coerce through illegal (and often very violent) ways political change on the domestic system of governance over them. Such conflict is best thought of as civil emergency, rather than war, as it is largely an act of illegal democracy where legal democracy either does not exist or is inadequate to the task. If such a "cell" ultimately divides and new governance and army forms around the dissident population, such a civil emergency then, and only then, becomes civil war.

Below is a response I posted this earlier today on a thread on the Small Wars Journal:
http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/how...s-of-tora-bora

Quote:
In a court of law this entire thread is what might be called "relevant, but immaterial" (in that the information, while interesting and applicable to the case at hand, in no way helps resolve said case).

At a tactical level AQ is a pain in the ass. Tactically they are "a threat." They came to our country, they murdered our citizens, and while they did so in a war-like way, it was plain old, garden variety mass murder and we need to bring justice to those who perpetrated the act, and peace to those who suffered a tragic loss from that same act. Acting like a proverbial elephant with an irrational fear of mice, tromping all over any place where we think mice might hide with little regard to the impression that is creating in the minds of those innocently affected by our tromping is not making us safer. Quite the opposite, in fact.

At a strategic level AQ is a symptom. Just as the Treaty of Versailles made a future war with Germany inevitable, so too did the US decision to let the programs, policies and relationships nurtured during 45 years of Cold War manipulations in the Middle East to simply ride into the future make conflict with the people of that region inevitable as well. The explosion of information technology was an accelerant. Like the collision of a cold (war) front and a warm front over a sea of the people - it brewed a perfect storm.

In the first case, if not Hitler and the Nazi ideology it would have been someone else with some other rallying message. In the second case, if not AQ and their Islamist ideology it would have been someone else with some similar message (Islam-based ideology seems to be the only flavor that works in the Middle East for rallying people to illegal political action).

Resistance insurgency is a natural human response. While it is easy to appreciate why Hitler triggered this human response in every single country he invaded during WWII (and to some degree we even concede why we triggered resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan), we have a harder time appreciating that not every inappropriate, illegitimate "occupation" need be physical. I think we understand the rise of AQ and the resonance their message has had across the greater Middle East in the post-Cold War era best if we consider the possibility that one can trigger this human response through an "occupy by policy" as well as by the more traditional physical occupations we normally associate with resistance movements.

Why is this important? Because if we want to reduce the likelihood of terrorism against the US we must address the source of energy fueling the problem in the first place. Widespread CT operations and invasions of nations we see as supporting or facilitating the UW operations AQ has been conducting to leverage this resistance energy have served primarily to make that energy stronger. Symptoms must be mitigated, not defeated. To attempt to defeat symptoms ignores the problem and allows it to grow unchecked at best - at worst, and we have been bad, such efforts make the problem worse and accelerate its growth.

In many ways, much of what President Obama has been doing in regards to turning his back on Mubarak, tempering the use of drones, looking for diplomatic solutions to Syria, acting in ways that tend to piss off Cold War partners such as the Israelis and the Saudis in general - all have done far more to reduce the energy of this occupation by policy than all of our military efforts over the past 12 years combined. The boss has good instincts, but we have no strategy to provide the framework or narrative necessary to guide and communicate the logic of those actions.

If we want to get to better results, we need to redefine the problem and then devise new strategies. Working harder and faster to execute flawed perspectives focused on symptoms, or rehashing 12-year old battles, is not going to help us finally turn the corner on this problem.

RCJ
Did the victors of WWI provoke an inevitable WWII by their occupation by policy of Germany through the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles?

Did the victors of the Cold War provoke an inevitable War on Terrorism and associated Arab Spring by their decision to largely leave in place in the Middle East the policies, practices and relationships nurtured during and in support of activities designed to contain the Soviet Union?

Do men like Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler "cause" these types of conflicts, or are they simply opportunists who, like Mao so eloquently said about his role in China, "saw a parade and leapt in front"?

Do ideologies - be it Nazism, Communism, Islamism, or any other "ism" radicalize otherwise content populations to rise in illegal conflict, or are these simply effective tunes tailored to help a particular "parade" march in step?

I believe we need to refocus the debate. We have debated the branches of these types of conflicts to death. The roots, however, we tend to gloss over. After all, it is uncomfortable to confront the very real possibility that these are roots we planted ourselves.
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Old 12-30-2013   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob
Did the victors of WWI provoke an inevitable WWII by their occupation by policy of Germany through the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles?
"Inevitable" is too deterministic. I think it's generally accepted that the termination conditions of WWI did not resolve all of the outstanding issues in Europe, and also created new conditions for conflict. The Great Depression had an equally (or more?) important impact on the political and economic conditions that facilitated the success of Nazism. Germany survived World War I, unlike Russia, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. But this question is also one with an implied structural theoretical base: did the individuals in politics and business matter at all to the outcome? And lastly, the agenda of the Nazi Party was not only the reversal of the Versailles Treaty, but also the establishment of a new German Empire in Europe itself. What about the end of WW1 prompted an imperial/colonial focus in Europe instead of Africa or Asia? Did those same conditions make it easier for the Nazis to succeed than other right-wing and left wing factions (particularly the socialists)? The Nazis were adeptly organized and by 1933 they had forged a number of key political and business alliances that propelled them to power. The other question is: was Nazi policy deliberate from start to finish, or did it evolve as the party gained power and became entangled in another world war? I forget which one, but one of the Werhmacht field marshals after the war basically started that none of them anticipated the invasion of Poland to start a global war.

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Originally Posted by Bob
Did the victors of the Cold War provoke an inevitable War on Terrorism and associated Arab Spring by their decision to largely leave in place in the Middle East the policies, practices and relationships nurtured during and in support of activities designed to contain the Soviet Union?
Same thoughts as above, although Islamism was already on the ascent since the final failure of the Arab nationalists in 1973. I think the end of Arab nationalism as a credible political force had more to do with the emergence of Islamism than anything else. I think globalization (proliferation of weapons, technologies, communication, etc) contributed more significantly to Islamism's successes since then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob
Do ideologies - be it Nazism, Communism, Islamism, or any other "ism" radicalize otherwise content populations to rise in illegal conflict, or are these simply effective tunes tailored to help a particular "parade" march in step?
I think this is an important and deep question. First, ideologies don't emerge in a vacuum and it's difficult to predict which ideas will catch fire or how they will evolve over time. It's been argued that the ideological origins of Nazism can be traced to the mid 19th century. Of course, communism can be traced back to the writings of Marx in the same time period -- all before the emergence of a unified Germany, the rise of the US, and the two World Wars. How could anyone predict that these ideologies would more or less shape the second half of the 20th century? But it's also important to note that Marx himself argues that ideological reproduction is function of a system's political economy; in other words, the material system exists first and from it emerges an ideology to sustain it. In my view, this is probably the most accurate; people willingly believe what they wish to explain the world around them. The more desperate they are, the more radical the ideas will be. When times were good in the Weimar Republic, the Nazi party struggled to find support among the electorate. That changed with the Great Depression.
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Old 12-30-2013   #3
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Certainly no particular set of facts or outcomes involving people are "inevitable," after all, we have free will to make decisions and the specific facts and cultural factors will always be unique. Versailles and the lesser known companion treaties, however, created an effect at the human nature level making some form of conflict inevitable.

But these are perceptions that can only be assessed through the lens of those on the receiving end of such an "occupation by policy."

Many on the winning side thought these treaties reasonable and necessary to prevent the very war they ultimately provoked. Likewise most Americans and Middle Eastern leaders either swept up in, or scrambling to ward off, Arab Spring, found the idea of sustaining the status quo emerging from the Cold War reasonable as well.

Common to both examples is that no one asked or gave serious consideration to how the people affected by these decisions felt.
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Old 12-30-2013   #4
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Robert-what is interesting is the failure of Arab nationalism in the 70s and 80s vs say the rise of Sunni and Shia fundamentalism development since then-- especially Iran since 1979.

We often tend to focus on the AQ salafist side of the Sunni house and we speak of the Wahhabi Saudi influence with say FFs but I would say the last 12 years we tended to ignore the real differences between Sunni and Shia Islam.

During the last 12 years Saudi fundamentalism has in fact become the defacto Sunni standard across all Sunni Muslim populations especially in the political arena. While at the same time Shia fundamentalism is really a copy of what the Sunni's were doing as Khomeini attempted to become the overall leader of the Islamic world by using Sunni fundamentalism messaging-which he failed in because he could not bridge the gap of being a Shia and an Iranian in the eyes of the Sunni.

So what we now have in the ME is IMO a true clash between Sunni fundamentalism and Shia fundamentalism which is occurring in Syria as Syria is the key in the view of the Sunni fundamentalists in stopping the Shia expansion started by Khomeini and which is still is being continued by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards who view themselves the defenders of the Shia faith worldwide.

What concerns me is that we the US seem to want to sidestep this Islamic development as it is messy, complicated, has cost us a large amount of cash and lives on both sides and it does not lend itself to easy solutions that fit in a 30 second TV message. And it is equally difficult to explain to the US public who has been paying for it for the last 12 years.

It is now hard to say we screwed up and now we have to change directions---with our current divided political camps what politician is going to venture out with that messaging?

Also look at our think tanks and all of their messaging---who wants to lose one's funding stream by saying --just maybe we went the wrong direction.

Overall the ME population is working it out at the cost of thousands of killed and injured and we the US simply stand by---in some aspects our actions even recent actions are reinforcing the message that it is also not only the Shia fundamentalism that is problem for the Sunni --it is also our actions that are reinforcing the image that the US is actually siding with the Shia---if one really does take the time to read the recent AQ General Guidance for Jihad (Sept 2013) we could in fact be declared the "near enemy" and right now AQ is having success against the "near enemy".

What also concerns me is the side lining of the secular Sunni which is really a large part of the international Sunni population especially among the young and elites---we see this playing out now in Turkey.

We also see it playing our in Germany and France which have rather large Muslim populations--in Berlin there are districts under control of one or two Arabic clans/families/tribes using Sharia law to settle disputes---meaning in those districts the German judicial system which is the linchpin of Germany democracy is being undermined by Islam---already leading to increased neo Nazi backlash-which by the way is growing-and as well a growing concern for German politicians (from both major parties) who are also voicing the same concerns.

In France it is causing a large growth in the right wing as well.

In order to understand the ME it is time to fully understand Islamic fundamentalism (Sunni and Shia), why it occurs, how it is occurring and our role in driving that development---it is no longer just about AQ nor has it really been about AQ.

Islam is not going away any time soon.

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Old 12-30-2013   #5
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In short, it isn't all about us. Yet when our policy is deemed as excessively inappropriate we generate a resistance effect that focuses negative energy in our direction.

Just as the information age created by the printing press opened an era of political and religious (religion being a tool of government) evolution; so too is the modern info age affecting the ME.


When our policy is a fusion of status quo of governance and promotion of Western values in an era of massive upheaval and political/religious evolution, how can there not be conflict?
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Old 12-30-2013   #6
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Bob,

I think we also have to be careful in categorizing all opposition ideologies or factions as passive. Granted, in many cases, US actions and policies generate resistance, but Western democratic capitalism is not the only ideological force driving for change. With the complexity of ideology and it's evolution over many decades (in some cases, centuries, like Christianity), it's hard to predict which will catch fire and which won't. Nobody expected a communist state in Russia, not even Marx, who predicted revolution would come in the most advanced capitalist economies first. But that never happened, not even in Germany's defeat in WWI. So I think we should be careful in comparing the global momentum of ideologies with the specific opportunities that emerge in conflict itself. There's always going to be an out-group, whether by design or by choice, and there will be some ideological tool kit lying around for them to pick up and use. Some have been successful with terrible results. Others, like the Unabomber, barely make a bump in history.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob
Versailles and the lesser known companion treaties, however, created an effect at the human nature level making some form of conflict inevitable.
Again, I take issue with the word "inevitable" since you are implying there is a direct and causative relationship between the treaty and the rise and policies of the Nazi Party. But between 1918 and 1933, the Nazis were only one of dozens of radical factions on both right and left. Did any the conditions created by the treaty make it any more likely that the Nazis would be successful not some other political faction instead?

Versailles created conflict on issues directly bearing on its issues; i.e. the Rhineland. But I don't think a direct connection can be drawn between the treaty, the specific components of the Nazi program, and the start of World War II. It wasn't the Rhineland or German demilitarization that led to World War II - it was the invasion of Poland, which was formerly Russian territory. The Nazis imposed a hard colonial regime in Eastern Europe not unlike imperialism in Africa in some regards; was that policy caused by Versailles?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob
Common to both examples is that no one asked or gave serious consideration to how the people affected by these decisions felt.
Yes, but to what extent did alienation drive political radicalization? And how is radicalization predictable? In other words, did decision-makers at those times have a reason to believe that their actions would lead to the historical outcomes that occurred?
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Old 12-30-2013   #7
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Let us be clear, I said that bad policy made conflict inevitable due to the impact those polices had upon the people they affected.

I never said that Versailles gave rise to Hitler or Nazism.

That is simply the guy who answered the bell and the ideology he applied. It could have been communism just as easily (though liberals and socialists were largely blamed for selling Germany out to the allies, so it would most likely have been some form of conservative, nationalist doctrine).
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Old 12-30-2013   #8
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Robert---you are on to something that has gone under the last 12 or so years---what really causes a resistance insurgency and why does the population react the way it does---yes Mao and Co. help but with religion and ideologies---both have to be looked at intensively.

Kilcullen stated out with his ecosystem approach but then shifted gears when the blogs, think tanks, and others had no idea on how to use it. It is still a point to start with when discussing the development of a resistance insurgency

What I find amazing about the ME especially the Sunni/Shia divide is how the "isms" have played a major role in their fundamentalist developments and how both fed off of each other the last 20 years or so.

We talk about Arab nationalism being a factor but what we do not talk about is the deep impression made by Communism/Marxism on the various Sunni and Shia thinkers in the 60/70s and early 80s---if one does not think there was any influence---check what Khomeini ordered when the communists/leftists were removed first from the universities and then out of government---they were either killed, imprisoned and then killed or driven out of the country. We played a role as well in the killing of thousands of Iranian communists when the CIA was alleged to have passed lists containing their names knowing what the Revolutionary guards would do with the information---and we wonder why the US embassy was bombed by as was rumored shortly after the attack that it was a pay back from the KGB. This attack often does not get discussed as does the Marine bombing.

We have had our internal politics so colored by the Cold War "fight" against Communism that we forgot and or cannot now discuss in a honest fashion just what the role of the various ME Communist parties was in the development of the ME---virtually every modern Sunni/Shia thinker of the 60/70s who was fighting for self determination ie nationalism ended up in prison where they met sometimes for the first time Arab communists---and during their prison exchanges learned things like organization, living underground and population messaging at the same time learning of the similarities between the "religion of Islam" and the "ideology" of Communism/Marxism. In fact a number of ME leading communists were being jailed/killed for their political activities long before Sunnis/Shia got into the self determination fight.

Even some of Khomeini's early writings and speeches reflected communist thinking wrapped in Shiaism.

Why is it that still today we in the US have an extremely hard time discussing Communism in an open dialogue without people taking sides and threatening each other with bodily harm politically speaking of course.

To understand the ME is to understand the role of Communism in the development of Sunni/Shia fundamentalism.

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Old 12-30-2013   #9
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I don't know how relevant they are but I would like to offer two observations. First, I think you ought to consider "war" as a human activity first and a political activity second. Another way to look at it is that there are natural wars and political wars. Natural wars occur spontaneously from the heat of passion. Political wars are initiated for a specific political end. At its simplest, war is a blood feud between two groups. The motivation in this type of feud is revenge - revenge for an actual or perceived wrong (a murder of a member of your tribe) of such importance as to require retribution in kind on someone of the offending tribe. War is a blood feud on steroids. But the basic requirements are the same. You need two groups, one of whom has committed an offense against the other so grave that it requires retribution in blood. If you think of war this way an American does not need to be the person pulling the trigger and murdering a member of your tribe for you to seek retribution against America. They just have to be the proponent of the policy that results in the trigger being pulled. You have exactly what you describe, war by policy.

Second, I agree that the “isms” don’t matter. What does matter is the reason one “ism” or another is preferred by the population at any one time. In a political war the “ism” is either clear or largely irrelevant. In a natural war the “ism” chosen will reveal a great deal about the nature of the group. The discussions of Arab nationalist and communism is a great example. Communism as a political theory works to unite the general population who share a common burden against the elite who do not share in that burden. It is a perfect match for the idea needed to unite a traditionally disparate group (the Arab people) into a single nation against its oppressor (the "West"). Understanding that message might be helpful in crafting a response intended to co-opt the message.
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Old 12-30-2013   #10
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Robert---the press comments from today indicated that the national decision makers attempted to talk to notice I mentioned talk to-- not talk with the Islamic Front.

But as usual---did not understand a thing of what is going on in Syria---deciding to send a third ranking individual instead of signaling a true intent by sending a high level rep---seems the DoS was against it.

It also signals to me they do not understand the players, their reasons and the Sunni/Shai fundamentalists on the ground. Sometimes "dancing with the devil" is actually a sign of respect within the fighting groups---it really is all about perceptions. But how can we gain creditability in the eyes of the Sunni fundamentalist fighting groups when we are dealing now with Iran and supplying weapons/drones to a Shia Iraq?

Sometimes just supplying weapons to the "bad side" is in effect supporting our long term goals---but supplying them without any constraints or conditions and then sometimes it takes a lot of courage to sit back and see where the dust settles---but at least from the support one does have a voice in the afterwards however small that voice is. It does though take a leap of faith---that we seem to not have.

“Alienating the Islamic Front puts the U.S. at risk of losing any leverage or influence within the armed opposition,” he said. “It’s not about whether they are good guys or bad guys. The Islamic Front is the only counterbalance to extremists in Syria. The U.S. must recognize that.”

What is with this current decision making group in DC---has 12 years of war dulled the thinking capability to see the "trees" from the forest?

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Old 12-30-2013   #11
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Robert---you and I have often repeated here that the Sunni/Shia divide is one of Shia containment by the Saudi's---and I say it is in fact a natural Saudi fundamentalist drive that the US has not recognized or is unwilling to recognize just how deep this goes in the Saudi psyche.

If one does not think the Saudi's have not now made an inherent decision to make a stand against Iran/Shaiism---fails to see history looking them directly in the face. Just how it is that we get it so wrong-repeatedly?

Taken from a news release today and coupled with our inherent inability to talk with the Islamic Front also reported today --we are in the future just going to react to events.

"Saudi Arabia Pledges $3 Billion to Lebanon's Army
Saudi Arabia pledged $3 billion to bolster Lebanon's armed forces, in a challenge to the Iranian-allied Hezbollah militia's decades long status as Lebanon's main power broker and security force."

Hold on tight--- this development will take a lot of courage from our side to ride through--as we have elected for some reason to just be spectators.
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Old 12-30-2013   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob
Let us be clear, I said that bad policy made conflict inevitable due to the impact those polices had upon the people they affected.
I think that claim is too broad because the next obvious question is: did the "bad policy" determine the scope or intensity of the "inevitable conflict"? Why would WW2 be preordained and not a smaller, local conflict or a political conflict? And, relatedly, if the disarmanent and "occupation by policy" of Versailles made "conflict inevitable", why wasn't there a similar or more intense German reaction to the peace of WW2, which divided Germany in half, expelled millions of Germans from their homes, annexed historically German territory, disarmed the offensive capabilities of the country, and more or less ended Germany's independence as a great power? That peace was far more destructive to German power than the Versailles Treaty.

So, conflict in a broad, abstract sense is "inevitable" if there's no definitive time frame; but I think the real substance of the question is whether there's a relationship to the scope and intensity of conflict and the imposed policies.
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Old 12-30-2013   #13
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There are so many powerful forces in DC it is amazing we ever get anything right.

Perhaps the most powerful force is inertia. DC is still full of good Cold Warriors on both sides of the aisle who see our strategies, policies and activities of that era as what "right" looks like. What was a good idea in 1950 is hardly likely to be still a good idea in 2014 without some serious refinement applied.

There is also inertia of CT/"war"-think from the past 12 years.

Look at the budget/service battles in the Pentagon today and one sees these two forces of inertia locked in close battle, while very few speculate as to what type of military we actually need for the world we live in today and the missions, capabilities and capacities necessary to extend our messy peace into the future.

Their has also over the past 70 years been a gradual, but tremendous, shift in the relative balance of power between the Congress and the Presidency. It is no wonder all Congress seems to be able to do is quibble over which party wins the Oval Office next. Sustaining a warfighting military in peace necessay to implementing a containment strategy has enabled so many wars of presidential choice. I believe this more than any other factor has contributed to this shift of power. The Founders warned of this very effect and crafted language in the Constitution to prevent this from happening, but now we tend to think of that language as quaint or even obsolete.

Our post-Cold War National strategies have also contributed to our inability to see other people's "forests" because we have become so lost in our own. The twin pillars of sustaining the status quo under US leadership, coupled with a heavy promotion of US values at a time when virtually everyone else is seeking their own best future and turning inward to their own value systems is not a good match. The world is a come as you are party, and we need to embrace that reality. Certainly self-determination was central to our pre-Cold War strategic model.

But as I stated in the opening post:
Quote:
"The boss has good instincts, but we have no strategy to provide the framework or narrative necessary to guide and communicate the logic of those actions."
We need to reframe how we think about the problems that vex us, and then we need to develop a new stategy to guide and communicate efforts in line with that understanding. We probably also are at the point where we need a national strategic plan and a HQ and staff under the Executive branch tasked to coordinate and synchronize efforts across government in the execution of that plan. Every Agency for themselves is no longer a degree of chaos we can get away with.
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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 12-30-2013   #14
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I think that claim is too broad because the next obvious question is: did the "bad policy" determine the scope or intensity of the "inevitable conflict"? Why would WW2 be preordained and not a smaller, local conflict or a political conflict? And, relatedly, if the disarmanent and "occupation by policy" of Versailles made "conflict inevitable", why wasn't there a similar or more intense German reaction to the peace of WW2, which divided Germany in half, expelled millions of Germans from their homes, annexed historically German territory, disarmed the offensive capabilities of the country, and more or less ended Germany's independence as a great power? That peace was far more destructive to German power than the Versailles Treaty.

So, conflict in a broad, abstract sense is "inevitable" if there's no definitive time frame; but I think the real substance of the question is whether there's a relationship to the scope and intensity of conflict and the imposed policies.
Strategy by nature is broad. Strategy does not tell you who will lead the next war, what ideology they will employ, or what their ultimate battle plans or goals will be. But strategy can tell you when you are creating conditions that make future conflict inevitable. Human Nature is very predictable. Human Behavior is a wild card.

As to WWI and WWII the answer is simple and widely accepted. The German people perceived themselves to have been betrayed by their own government in WWI, and certainly not defeated by the Allies. In WWII the German people knew they were defeated. Also, because the West were so clearly the lesser of two evils, West Germans readily submitted to occupation by the West as it was so clearly the better alternative to submission to occupation by the Soviets.

We think people like us for who we are; more aptly they tolerate us for who we are not. We need to stop deluding ourselves to that reality.

We're like the little kid buying his mom some jewelry in a commercial running this holiday season. He dumps a handful of change on the counter, while behind him his dad shows the clerk his credit card. We think it is all about the coins we drop on the counter, and don't appreciate their are other forces at work that shape people's decisions.
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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 12-30-2013   #15
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As to WWI and WWII the answer is simple and widely accepted. The German people perceived themselves to have been betrayed by their own government in WWI, and certainly not defeated by the Allies. In WWII the German people knew they were defeated. Also, because the West were so clearly the lesser of two evils, West Germans readily submitted to occupation by the West as it was so clearly the better alternative to submission to occupation by the Soviets.
So then it appears the answer to your question is that the Versailles Treaty did not make conflict inevitable because, in your words, the "German people perceived themselves to have been betrayed by their own government and certainly not defeated by the Allies." What made conflict inevitable was this German perception.

In their defense, the Allies were aware of this problem, which is one reason why they pushed for the disarmanent of Germany after the war. So it seems that the perceived inevitably of conflict, at least in the European experience, is what created the Versailles Treaty, not the other way around.
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Old 12-30-2013   #16
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So then it appears the answer to your question is that the Versailles Treaty did not make conflict inevitable because, in your words, the "German people perceived themselves to have been betrayed by their own government and certainly not defeated by the Allies." What made conflict inevitable was this German perception.

In their defense, the Allies were aware of this problem, which is one reason why they pushed for the disarmanent of Germany after the war. So it seems that the perceived inevitably of conflict, at least in the European experience, is what created the Versailles Treaty, not the other way around.
You're like my dog playing tug of way with a knotted rope on this...

Why did the Germans feel betrayed? Because of the bait and switch that occurred between the armistice agreed to on 11/11/18 and the terms of the actual treaty that came several months later. Wilson's points were tossed aside and Britain, and primarily France, wanted revenge. The terms of the actual treaty were so onerous as to crush the German economy long before the Great Depression, and the German people did indeed feel betrayed by their national leaders who conceded to such terms.

If the ruling voice for crafting the treaty had been the US rather than France I suspect a far less provocative document would have emerged. For France, what went forward was perceived as reasonable, for Germany it was perceived as intollerable. The US had the lead following WWII, with very different approach with very different results based on our lessons learned from WWI

The military fights wars, but it is politicians and policy that both end and starts wars. Too often the policies designed to end one conflict become the seeds of the next.


But back to the purpose of this thread to explore the "resistance effect" within a population that is occupied, and to consider that one need not physically occupy to spark this effect, but that policy alone can be enough if those policies are perceived as excessively inappropriate and illegitimate in nature and execution.
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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 12-30-2013   #17
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But back to the purpose of this thread to explore the "resistance effect" within a population that is occupied, and to consider that one need not physically occupy to spark this effect, but that policy alone can be enough if those policies are perceived as excessively inappropriate and illegitimate in nature and execution.
My problem isn't with your claim in principle, it's with the abstractness of your claim; and so it's worth exploring the specific horizons of how bad policy (defined as "excessively inappropriate and illegimate") sparks "resistance insurgency" leading to "inevitable conflict". I think the World Wars are too complex to use to support your argument. I'm sure you could find plenty of examples in the history of imperialism in Africa that more effectively isolate the casual relationship you are claiming exists.

In your initial post, you asked: "Did the victors of WWI provoke an inevitable WWII by their occupation by policy of Germany through the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles?"

Here's the problem: "inevitable" is too deterministic. "WWII" is very specific in scope and intensity. Your question asks if the policy of Versailles directly caused the Second World War notwithstanding what occurred between 1918 and 1939. You could credibly argue that the Treaty contributed to a new conflict, but I don't think you can make the specific claim that it led to World War II as it occurred in scope and intensity (you did so at least once: "Just as the Treaty of Versailles made a future war with Germany inevitable").

In another post, when you address the differences in German resistance at the end of both World Wars, you make it clear that the Germans overcame their "natural human response" for resistance through a deliberate decision to focus on a greater enemy; in this case, the Soviet Union ("because the West were so clearly the lesser of two evils"). How do you reconcile the contradiction between a "natural human response" and the deliberate decision to ignore that natural human response? It would seem that policy makers have options other than abandoning the policy - they could create a new enemy, for example.

That said, back to the substance of your position: "policy alone can be enough [to spark the "resistance effect"] if those policies are perceived as excessively inappropriate and illegitimate in nature and execution."

You also claim that "resistance insurgency is a natural human response". If "resistance" is a "natural human response" (implying its inevitability), then to what extent should policy makers modify their policies to accomodate it? Resistance to a thing is not a sufficient indicator of the invalidty of that thing. Or is it?

So to really excavate your idea from the surrounding intellectual fodder, I think it can be more accurately described in this way:

"Policies perceived to be illegitimate may fuel armed resistance if the policies are sufficiently inappropriate. It is not necessary for direct military occupation to incite armed resistance."
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Old 12-30-2013   #18
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Robert---went back over your comments and these items stand out--can it be so simple?

Have we at the national decision making level actually failed to see or maybe not wanted to see and understand the ME population even in the face of the points below? Answer is yes.

Have we at the national level in effect focused all our attention on AQ and not on the population? Answer is yes.

Yes the conversation has to be refocused as it is getting worse in the ME, AQ has grown well in the ME, Saudi is striking out on it's own and surprisingly is in synch with the Israeli view of Iran, Lebanon is set to explode again, Egypt will have MB problems for the coming years, Syria is the final fight for the Shia/Sunni fundamentalists, and the Arab Spring has shown us that the population is looking intently for their path forward-whatever that path will be.

The over 9K KIA and over 100K WIA in two wars demand that we find answers that explain what is happening as this area will be with us for a long while---virtually every current AQ battleground outside of the ME is religious in nature and is tied to the "isms".

1. "Did the victors of the Cold War provoke an inevitable War on Terrorism and associated Arab Spring by their decision to largely leave in place in the Middle East the policies, practices and relationships nurtured during and in support of activities designed to contain the Soviet Union?"

Part of the current problem with the national decision makers is that to refocus demands that one openly admit that we are part of the problem---that will never happen.

To accept the above comment requires one to accept the premise as it is stated-which is hard--it is hard to say we actually created UBL and AQ---it is easier to accuse them of being terrorists or religious nuts.

2. Do men like Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler "cause" these types of conflicts, or are they simply opportunists who, like Mao so eloquently said about his role in China, "saw a parade and leapt in front"?

UBL was an astute observer of the ME and American interactions in the ME--his beef with us went back to our be stationed in DS in Saudi Arabia.

3. [B]]Do ideologies - be it Nazism, Communism, Islamism, or any other "ism" radicalize otherwise content populations to rise in illegal conflict, or are these simply effective tunes tailored to help a particular "parade" march in step?[B]B]

The "isms" give the population something they can understand and drive towards especially if everything else has failed in their drive towards self determination---in some aspects that self determination is tied to jobs, ability to raise families, national respect etc and how they fit into their society as a whole.

I believe we need to refocus the debate. We have debated the branches of these types of conflicts to death. The roots, however, we tend to gloss over. After all, it is uncomfortable to confront the very real possibility that these are roots we planted ourselves.

You are right---we have in effect caused our own wars by the roots that we planted in the 1950/60/70s.

Would make a great Doctoral thesis.

Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 12-30-2013 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 12-30-2013   #19
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"Robert---went back over your comments and these items stand out--can it be so simple?" Outlaw

"All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope." Winston Churchill
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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 12-30-2013   #20
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Robert---your comments are actually very appropriate if one applies the same comments you made to the current situation in Mexico.

I would argue that actually the current problems seen in Mexico are the direct results of an unfinished revolution that did not include the population.

I would also argue that in fact the roots that caused the revolution to go unfinished were caused by our US Army military intervention which did not end until after we had declared war on the Germans during the 1st World War.

We never seem to see analysis of that particular event ie military intervention and it's impact on the population and the revolution.

Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 12-30-2013 at 09:13 PM.
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