SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Military Art & Science Applied > Strategic Compression

Strategic Compression The compression of roles and effects. The Strategic Corporal meets the "turn left" National Security Advisor.

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-13-2008   #21
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default Waxing philosophical for a moment...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
Just creating the "means" to pursue a "way" that is in keeping with the "end" is proving to be a challenge.
You know, Rob, at the same time I really think it is necessary to consider the effects of the means on the end state. In some ways, this is just another restatement of the old question "do the ends justify the means?" but, I would suggest, that any means will influence the actor(s) and the ends. For example, think about the increase in airport security - one of the effects of the means chosen has been to decrease the likelihood of air travel.

Just a thought...

Marc
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 03-13-2008   #22
Steve Blair
Moderator
 
Steve Blair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Montana
Posts: 3,195
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
You know, Rob, at the same time I really think it is necessary to consider the effects of the means on the end state. In some ways, this is just another restatement of the old question "do the ends justify the means?" but, I would suggest, that any means will influence the actor(s) and the ends. For example, think about the increase in airport security - one of the effects of the means chosen has been to decrease the likelihood of air travel.

Just a thought...

Marc
I agree completely. There are any number of historical examples to back up this idea, and it's well worth looking at.
__________________
"On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War
Steve Blair is offline  
Old 03-13-2008   #23
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Default Concur

If you change things blindly - to support a "way", you may be changing more then you know. While we can't read the future, we should at least consider it. This gets to a point I hoped I'd made early on (maybe in another thread) about identifying and understanding how things may have changed, and what that means. Mark O'Neill was surprised once that I'd quoted the former Aussie PM when he said, America's challenge is to be the global hegemon, without acting like it." I'm sure I butched that, but I think I've got the gist of it.

That "role" as one which might be acceptable to most Americans, is I think out of character with how we have traditionally viewed ourselves. I mentioned before that I believe 9/11 and the events which have followed it, have changed our conception of security that go far beyond the threat posed by AQ. The inter-connectedness piece was already occurring, but for the general public it was largely benign, even beneficial - MTV in multiple languages, global shopping, cheap manufactured goods. With 9/11 we started to take more serious not of Pandemics, Transnational crime, the ME, events in non-western parts of the world. The media picked up on it, and soon we started checking the labels on our tooth paste, children's toys and pet foods as well as looking at who was the fellow passenger in 15D. Our borders have certainly become a hot topic from terrorism, to narco - trafficking to economic security. I think there are also some interesting takes on internal questions such as the relationship to communications and school shootings, suicides, violent crime, etc. as well. Those are just a few examples, but I think it has caused us to reconsider our relationship to and within the world.

Its not the "western burden" argument at all. It is a question of how the state of the rest of the world effects us. Its not a simple of matter either, when I was growing up the perception from the general public was largely relegated to the Soviet Union and fear of nuclear brinkmanship - stoked by movies, books, songs, and the news. The Military had its doctrine and acquisitions geared largely toward the Fulda Gap. Now its much more diffuse, and I think from our NSS, to the QDR “shift our foot print” diagram, to the our recognition that our wars will be "among the people" we are only now starting to question on a national scale what that translates to in terms of strategic cultural change.

Adaptation is not going to be easy or smooth. There are going to be some real painful lessons as we adjust I think. It is a very interactive world and just because we think we have a good enough plan, and the tools in place to adjust to changing realities does not make it so – in other words its not enough to know “what” or “how”, but we must know “why” in order to assess strategic risk for changing or not changing. Other states and non-states, groups and individuals have their own goals, and perspectives and they have an increasing means to realize those goals in many cases.

The goal I think is to be anticipatory enough and to get it more right then wrong. Part of this I think is considering the "more" correct policy objectives as they relate to the way the world is and to how it may be changing, and then considering means and ways that are feasible, acceptable, and sustainable. We have to get beyond just identifying the world as uncertain, and that there are decades of persistent conflict ahead - that was useful to a point, now what?

At the same time, we have to keep from paining ourselves in a corner (Marc's airport ex. is a good example of a secondary effect), denying ourselves strategic and operational flexibility, and finally to keep ourselves from exposing some unknown chink in armor that exposes a critical vulnerability as we shift focus or effort.

A tall order for sure.

Best, Rob
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 03-13-2008   #24
Rank amateur
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 568
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
As usual Rob has posted another of his intellectual hairballs that generates so much intellectual activity that it is nearly impossible to keep up and still do your job .
Glad I'm not the only one.

1. I also have to jump on the stability doesn't automatically equal less terrorism bandwagon. Furthermore, I don't think our objective is stability. Iraq was stable before we invaded. If dividing Iraq into three countries were proven to make the situation more stable, this administration wouldn't do it. There is wide consensus that a Palestinian state would make the entire region more stable. We've had over 50 years to make one happen. We haven't done it.

2. I believe that the words/actions dynamic (which I've seen Rob mention a couple of times, so I'll address it even though it is a bit of topic) in the Middle East is very simple. We support Israel unconditionally: always have and probably always will. Anything we're in favor of will be perceived - correctly - as being good for Israel. Anyone who believes that whatever is good for Israel is bad for the Arabs - which probably includes most Arabs - is not only never going to believe that we want to help them, they'll always believe that we're going to hurt them. No matter what we do or say.

3. Which brings me to AQ. Their Achilles heel is recruiting. (Blowing up your own members is obviously unsustainable unless you can replace the old mules with fresh meat.) The Koran says that Muslims have a religious obligation to fight against anyone who attacks Islam. Anyone who takes that obligation seriously (fundamentalists) is going to become a terrorist if they think that we're at war with Islam. UBL really didn't care about the Palestinians, but photos from Gaza bring in fresh recruits better than just about anything. He repeatedly uses the term "Zionists and crusaders" to make our support of Israel like a war against Islam.)

4. A rule of advertising. You don't try to change people's beliefs, you leverage them. (If people believe that the planet getting warmer is bad, you don't try to change that. Instead you leverage their belief that change isn't bad. As a spin doctor you stop talking about climate warming and start talking about climate change.) As a spin doctor for the other side you realize that people believe that mankind shouldn't fool around with nature and you start talking about "man made climate change."

5. Therefore, indirect approaches that can work in the long war are:

a) convincing people that we only hate the Palestinians, but not Muslims. Although I don't think any president would ever be so blunt, and such a statement would undoubtedly cause many other problems.

b) convincing potential recruits that AQ is blowing up more Muslims than "zionists and crusaders." This one has the advantage of being true, so it's a relatively easy sell. On the other hand, it kind of forces UBL to respond by attacking the homeland, so it only works if we simultaneously kill everyone who is planning and leading the attacks.

6. Nothing personal Rob, because I know you've been tasked with BPC - and I know you'll do an excellent job - but BCP is highly likely to be viewed as building capacity to "wage war on Islam" by those who are most likely to blow themselves up, so there is at least a theoretical possibility it'll make the "long war" tougher not easier.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.
Rank amateur is offline  
Old 03-13-2008   #25
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Default

Hi RA,

Quote:
Nothing personal Rob, because I know you've been tasked with BPC - and I know you'll do an excellent job - but BCP is highly likely to be viewed as building capacity to "wage war on Islam" by those who are most likely to blow themselves up, so there is at least a theoretical possibility it'll make the "long war" tougher not easier.
Absolutely nothing personal taken, and I appreciate your participation and opinion. And you make some good points to discuss. The point about how BPC is viewed is well worth considering. Many people view power and influence as a zero sum gain, so if somebody gets more of it, then somebody else gets less e.g. if I accept more states into NATO, then that encroaches upon the Vladmir Putin's idea of the status quo.

However, we need to decide if that is risk worth taking, and what are the consequences for, or for not doing so.

Then we have to decide how to mitigate the risk associated with that decision.

In the case of BPC, it may be that the capacity improved upon is not strictly military, although that is clearly a part of SFA (but the level of proportion allocated to military vs. other security areas is conditional). This is not to say either that BPC in other areas will not threaten others - improving economies, or changing the status quo in other areas will produce some kind of change in the region, depending upon what the other interests at stake are will expend upon the amount of resistance given to that change could be from internal or external actors. We have to address that as well by a comprehensive review of potential frictions and stakeholders in those areas, and where possible look for like and parallel interests, but where the effort is opposed, we must consider if the opposition is legitimate or illegitimate, constructive or destructive, benign or threatening - then we (the partnership) must act based on that. While some of this might be possible to anticipate, it must be understood as with any partnership there will be a great deal of the unseen and unforecasted that requires flexibility, tolerance in some areas and the willingness to accommodate on issues that can be reconciled.

I think its a going in position that some enemies cannot be accommodated. As such we are going to find some who are opposed because by the nature of our political and cultural beliefs we will be at cross purposes to them and their beliefs. This does not mean that are going in position should be unreasonable or antagonistic, or that we cannot be compromising on many things. This is where Diplomacy is key, the articulation and transparency combined with actions that match the narrative to build trust are key to building and maintaining relationships.

I do think we are interested in stability, and I believe its in our strategic interests to pursue it. Now, you can go down the road of ideologically defining stability.... If you don't think we are interested in stability, then what do you think the objective is or should be?

Best, Rob
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #26
Rank amateur
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 568
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
If you don't think we are interested in stability, then what do you think the objective is or should be?

Best, Rob
I think we want more than just stability, we want a form of stability that works for us and that's often not the most naturally stable option.

Stability under Saddam was unacceptable and like I said, if someone could scientifically prove - and this is obviously hypothetical - that dividing Iraq into three countries would cause stability, we still wouldn't do it. Democracy in Iraq hasn't produced much stability. Obviously, an "iron fist" could produce stability faster, but we won't go down that road. (BTW I'm not saying we should, just that logically we should if stability was our only objective.)

I'm actually working on a theory about the behavior of "inkspots" but it is difficult to define the geopolitical limits of COIN in a thousand words or less - while working a full time job - so it's possible I might never succeed.

Basically, I think the idea that we can be part of the political foundation then replace one US "brick" at a time without making the foundation unstable can work in certain circumstances, but not all the time.

Assuming for the moment that the factors you discuss are necessary for stability, are they sufficient? Will they work every time, or are there other factors that could cause instability anyway? If so, what are they?
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.
Rank amateur is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #27
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Default

Quote:
I'm actually working on a theory about the behavior of "inkspots" but it is difficult to define the geopolitical limits of COIN in a thousand words or less - while working a full time job - so it's possible I might never succeed.
I think that will make for an interesting and useful paper - I hope you can flesh it out. You might consider posting chunks of it on the SWC to help you write it as you go.

Quote:
Stability under Saddam was unacceptable and like I said, if someone could scientifically prove - and this is obviously hypothetical - that dividing Iraq into three countries would cause stability, we still wouldn't do it. Democracy in Iraq hasn't produced much stability. Obviously, an "iron fist" could produce stability faster, but we won't go down that road. (BTW I'm not saying we should, just that logically we should if stability was our only objective.)
I'd agree, its not just stability - its got to be qualified by something like: Increased Stability in developing and politically volatile states that offer conditions our enemies can exploit to counter or harm U.S. interests at home or abroad; or to a greater extent, something like - The United States and its Interests are not threatened at home or abroad by State and Non-State actors using Violence, Coercion, Intimidation & messages of intolerance to promote extremist agendas to realize their political ends

I pulled those from the slides, but I'd say those represent acceptable endstates in terms of political objectives that justify the expenditure of means. The discussion Marc brought up is relevant here as there is a gap in terms of specific justification to settle domestic policy concerns and in terms broad enough to accommodate others in the International community. There is also the context in which a threat and an endstate are evaluated - regardless of what is known now, the Administration and all those in Congress who voted for war saw Saddam Hussein as a threat. They can bemoan the fact that they were not given the whole truth, but many did not even personally read the intelligence they were provided or conduct personal analysis that would define their vote. You could go back to Clausewitz's Trinity and contemplate the role of emotion over rational thought, but its still OBE. So context of evaluation matters.

There is also the analysis that must be conducted to determine which COA gets you closer to your broader objectives, and it gets real muddled there. Consider the potential consequences for a hard partition of Iraq? Other then saying we did our part to address Iraq's internal problem so we can exit, I find few good things in it for the future. I think the potential for greater regional and international instability would only multiply.

So - yes the word stability must be qualified. I think anything that is as complex and interactive as a human society is going to be inherently unstable - it almost has to be given the nature of its actions. To be completely stable would be no activity. So, the goal might be defined as "more" stable, or stable "enough" to run itself within the context of the endstate or political objective. As I'd mentioned early on, ideas like BPC have their warts, nobody should be under the illusion that you are going to make completely self sustaining states over night, or even over a decade - they are going to require continued inter-action - it may be on a military level, a diplomatic level, an informational level, or economic level - which we have (and others have with us) with almost every existing state.
Quote:
Assuming for the moment that the factors you discuss are necessary for stability, are they sufficient? Will they work every time, or are there other factors that could cause instability anyway? If so, what are they?
Yes - I'd pointed to a few earlier in the thread - put a "trans" in front of almost anything and you have a potential enabler or accelerator for instability - this just means that if you add more of something - it creates more things the HN government must contend with. Refugees crossing the border, nomadic influences, crop infestations, cyber-hacking/crime/espionage, human migrations, climate changes, crime, terrorism, foreign investment that attracts more of something else or creates something new, the use of ungoverned spaces as safe havens, etc. - you could really go for awhile I think. However, if you increase a states ability to extend governance over its own territories and citizens, you mitigate (probably not eliminate - after all look at our own domestic issues) the effects of those destabilizing influences. The pay off for us goes back to the endstate. So if Columbia is able to extend governance and increase stability how does that effect destabilizing influences in our own country? If Latin America is more developed and offers more opportunity - how does that effect us - not just the things that come to mind, but the second and third order effects.

Not all of it is good - countries that are developing are by nature "unstable", but you have to weigh the good against the bad - and you must weigh the various potential outcomes as well given the nature of things today, and our best guess on the future - this gets into things like "conflict prevention vs. conflict termination" and the associated costs of doing either. That goes back to - how important is it to the role you see yourself playing in the world, it could be because nobody else can or will, and the effects of doing nothing are going to hurt you (or your friends, or your partners, or your outlook) enough to justify the effort, or because the benefits and prospects of doing something now are better then waiting, or because there is competition on the horizon that will accelerate it in the other direction because they view it as a zero sum game, etc.

It gets complicated fast, but that is the nature of it. Its messy, it requires sustained commitment or the means to go back and fix what you left unattended when you can no longer ignore it. Given the changes we've seen in the world, the latter may no longer be an option. Its not just a matter of "new", or "more" changes, its the degree of scale and the speed in which those changes now effect us, and our ability to compensate - it almost seems exponential.

Best, Rob

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 03-14-2008 at 01:56 PM.
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #28
Rank amateur
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 568
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
Yes - I'd pointed to a few earlier in the thread - put a "trans" in front of almost anything and you have a potential enabler or accelerator for instability - this just means that if you add more of something - it creates more things the HN government must contend with. Refugees crossing the border, nomadic influences, crop infestations, cyber-hacking/crime/espionage, human migrations, climate changes, crime, terrorism, foreign investment that attracts more of something else or creates something new, the use of ungoverned spaces as safe havens, etc. - you could really go for awhile I think.

I was thinking more along the lines of religious/ethnic/economic divides. In Iraq, for example, three religious/cultural groups and two sources of oil wealth is an obvious source of instability. "Breathing space" maybe necessary for a revenue sharing agreement, but I'm not certain that it is sufficient. (Many of the things Marc mentioned are relevant here. Establishing trust, transactions, leadership etc. aren't necessarily going to happen across cultures simply because we build capacity.)

Also, as long as opium makes up a huge percentage of Afghanistan's GDP, there is going to be corruption. (The demand for corruption will be huge: supply will expand to meet the demand.)

On the other hand, when a bunch of narco terrorists take over a remote town, a single platoon might be able to restore stability quickly and all government functions can return in a very short period of time. (Showing past examples is much easier than writing a predictive theory, but that's the direction I'm heading down.)
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.
Rank amateur is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #29
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Lightbulb I really should have re-read Sapir...

Edward Sapir (1884-1939) was a linguistic Anthropologist and one of the creators of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (amazing how those Klingons have infiltrated our society ). Put simply, the hypothesis states that the nature of a language influences the thought patterns of the users of that language. While it is hotly debated, personally I subscribe to a weak form of it (influence vs. control). I think that this thread is showing that influence.

One of the things that I found fascinating was that St. Carl based his work on Newtonian physics - think about such concepts as "friction", "centre of gravity", etc.; these are all metaphors and analogs grounded in Newtonian physics. In this thread, there is a lot of discussion on the concept of "stability" which is also a concept from Newtonian physics that is, IMO, a very poor metaphor.

As RA has pointed out, SH had a very "stable" system but one that was judged as "unacceptable". So, it isn't "stability" that BPC is engaged in but, as Rob noted, some form of stability that operates to counter opponent interaction.

I suspect that what we are looking for, if we take a ore internationalist perspective and go beyond purely US national interest in the immediate sense, is something closer to quasi-stable or homeostatic systems (these are biological metaphors) that, at the minimum, do not support our opponents while,at the same time, are willing to engage with the West in a non-kinetic form of competition within internationally acceptable conventions.

This is getting back, in some ways, to the distinction I was making in that conference paper about "required" and "desired" institutions. IMO, we should be requiring some form of quasi-stable social system and the acceptance of certain (to be determined) international conventions. While some form of "democracy" (or republic) may be viewed as desirable, I do no consider it to be either useful or even valid to require it. First, democracies are less stable than many other forms of governance and they are even less stable when dealing with a culture that doesn't believe they will actually work to meet their basic needs. Putin's popularity in Russia is a good example. Second, democracies are the simplest form of governance to subvert into dictatorships run either by moronic idiots with a death wish (Mugabe comes to mind) or by demagogues-of-the-day (post-Periclean Athens comes to mind as does the back and forth between Marius and Sulla).
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #30
Eden
Council Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Maryland
Posts: 223
Default Stability vs. state

In thinking about BPC, do you see that as equating to strengthening the 'state', in whatever form that may take? I ask that because, just about the time I left Afghanistan - and isn't that always the way - I came to realize that strengthening the central government might just be both incredibly difficult and counterproductive.

One of the strongest forces for stability in Afghanistan had always been the tribes. Guided by tradition and a very practical sense of local politics, tribal leaders enforced intratribal discipline and mediated intertribal conflicts. This included a certain amount of violence, but usually within well-understood parameters. The Soviet occupation, the ensuing civil war, the rise of the Taliban, the ensuing civil war, and the struggle with the US and NATO have severely weakened the influence of the tribes, regardless of the constant references to them in the media. It would seem to me that restoring the tribes' influence - if the social fabric is not yet, in fact, irreparably damaged - would go a long way in stabilizing the country.

This, of course, is not in line with the stated goals of NATO, the UN, or the US. But a weak central government in Afghanistan has always improved the stability of that country. The many power brokers in Afghanistan have preferred a central government strong enough to take on one of their competitors without being able to dominate the political or military life of the country. Thus the central government can be a source of largesse or protection from foreign/domestic competitors, but doesn't seriously interfere with the power brokers own activities (illegal or not) so long as he stays within certain parameters.

These two things produced a relatively stable society - if you define 'stable' not as 'violence-free' but as 'self-regulating' - for several centuries until the Marxists took over.

Our knee-jerk reaction to stabilizing places is to strengthen the central government. I think there are places in the world where extra-governmental or even commercial entities might be better candidates for our assistance.
Eden is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #31
selil
i pwnd ur ooda loop
 
selil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Belly of the beast
Posts: 2,112
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
On the other hand, when a bunch of narco terrorists take over a remote town, a single platoon might be able to restore stability quickly and all government functions can return in a very short period of time. (Showing past examples is much easier than writing a predictive theory, but that's the direction I'm heading down.)
So, I have a question.

How does this model fit when the "terrorist" organization isn't ideology bound, but the result of corporatism?

Religious ideology as root of terrorism and war is only supplanted by war in the ever present battle for profit. What happens when the insurgency is the result of corporatism like Shell Oil being attacked in a proxy war by Standard Oil? What happens when the battle is selective termination of key players on the South Eastern Asia Continent plantations by rival crop producers? As the scope expands historical examples such as the East Indian Trading Company preying on other smaller companies.

The reason I ask isn't that I think this is the "big" deal of the future, but I've read several articles (Economist, ARS, CSIS, a few others) recently pointing out that companies have full on intelligence capability, basically small armies, and have recreated most of the tools of governance.

Then that begs the questions are the tools and strategies (models) being created capable of being used in a corporate warfare environment?
__________________
Sam Liles
Selil Blog
Don't forget to duck Secret Squirrel
The scholarship of teaching and learning results in equal hatred from latte leftists and cappuccino conservatives.
All opinions are mine and may or may not reflect those of my employer depending on the chance it might affect funding, politics, or the setting of the sun. As such these are my opinions you can get your own.
selil is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #32
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi Eden,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eden View Post
It would seem to me that restoring the tribes' influence - if the social fabric is not yet, in fact, irreparably damaged - would go a long way in stabilizing the country.
I spent about a year and a half working on a database for CIDA that tracked Afghanistan in the early part of the war there. The person who worked with was an Afghan doctor who had grown up in the refugee camps of Pakistan and was now living in Canada. We spent a lot of time talking about what the political structure of the state should be leading up to the Loya Jirga of 2003. We both hoped that it would come out as a moderately strongish central government with the King's grandson as the new King and head of state, but where the tribes would have a lot of power both nationally and locally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eden View Post
This, of course, is not in line with the stated goals of NATO, the UN, or the US. But a weak central government in Afghanistan has always improved the stability of that country. The many power brokers in Afghanistan have preferred a central government strong enough to take on one of their competitors without being able to dominate the political or military life of the country. Thus the central government can be a source of largesse or protection from foreign/domestic competitors, but doesn't seriously interfere with the power brokers own activities (illegal or not) so long as he stays within certain parameters.
Yup, and it also meant that the central government had to persuade, rather than try to order, the tribes. In some ways, at least in terms of power, the tribes are the equivalent of provincial/state governments in a confederated system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eden View Post
These two things produced a relatively stable society - if you define 'stable' not as 'violence-free' but as 'self-regulating' - for several centuries until the Marxists took over.
Agreed; it's also why I made that point about thinking of "stability" using the metaphor of homeostasis (from biology) rather than motionlessness or absolute predictability (from Newtonian physics). Anyway, I can't think of a single society that is "violence free", so that is, IMHO, a red herring. What societies have is a variable tolerance for and conventions for the practice of violence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eden View Post
Our knee-jerk reaction to stabilizing places is to strengthen the central government. I think there are places in the world where extra-governmental or even commercial entities might be better candidates for our assistance.
Well, personally, I believe that there is ample evidence to show that "governments" of any form can and have operated against the best interests of the population they claim to represent / govern. Then again, the same is pretty much true of any form of human organization. As an historical note, "government" in the sense of a centralized authority, is a quit recent invention in species terms - it only goes back about 12,000 years or so. As a species, we have had governance (not government) for most of our history (~2.2 million years if we only go back to H. Erectus and H. Habilis), but this type of governance was based around kinship systems - clans and tribes if you will - and used oral history and tradition as its "laws". I don't find it surprising that in some places in the world, we are "going back" to this type of governance system .
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #33
Rank amateur
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 568
Default

I'm either on to something, or Marc and I are both out in left field, but I coined - pun intended - the term "counterinsurgency physics" about 10 minutes ago.

The basic idea is that "inkspots" are attracted to and repelled from each other by various forces: religious/economic/cultural/historic etc. BPC can efficiently create stability by removing insurgents who are preventing the connections, but it requires enormous energy to force together inkspots that are naturally repelled. Such forced connections are temporary. Yugoslavia is a good example. It was held together by secret police but exploded along religious/cultural/ethnic lines when the "energy" was removed.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.
Rank amateur is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #34
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Good job, R.A. In the immortal words of

Professor 'Iggins -- I think you've got it...

All politics is local. Multiculturalism is a dichotomy. Liquids of differing viscosities and ionization attract or repel each other. The monolithic State is an unnatural state (pun intended).

Add those four facts of life together and one comes up with a dispersed and loose federal structure of governance allowing considerable autonomy downward as societies seek peace and equilibrium. Stability occurs through cooperation and mutual respect; like morality, it cannot be dictated and any effort to attempt to force it is a waste of time.

Unfortunately, that's a smack in the face to the progressive worldview.
Ken White is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #35
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi RA,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
I'm either on to something, or Marc and I are both out in left field, but I coined - pun intended - the term "counterinsurgency physics" about 10 minutes ago.
Okay, you an have "counterinsurgency physics", but I'm claiming Quantum COIN !
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/

Last edited by marct; 03-14-2008 at 05:27 PM. Reason: fixed qote
marct is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #36
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
Unfortunately, that's a smack in the face to the progressive worldview.
Too true, Ken. Then again, you can't blame the poor "progressives" - after all, they have been told that material reality (including biology) has no effect on human free will .
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #37
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Default

Hi Eden,
A good point with regard to Afghanistan - and maybe this gets to the observation Marc made both here, and I think we talked about on the Stability vs. IW thread, about a biological vs. a Newtonian perspective on the idea of stability.

We're struggling with not only the idea of stability within what we might geographically define as a state, but the activities and opportunities offered within the geography for others to operate to influence not only what goes on internally to those boundaries, but externally through the use of improved means - the convergence of technology, freedom of action (in its many forms) and ideas. While the Taliban's activities were repugnant to us prior to 9/11, they took on new context as a base of operations and operational support for Bin Laden with the event of 9/11. The idea of vulnerability caused us to reconsider how we think about security.

Coming up with analogies or models to contemplate what is very complex, and very interactive, and very non-linear in terms of the possible future actions it produces is tough - no single model gets to it, multiple models often contradict each other. I think that every effort to implement is going to (and probably should) differ based on the context of the conditions, historical relationships that have shaped those conditions, and the potential future relationships that we see emerging. So you can have some broad Ends, Ways, Means and both a Direct and Indirect component to provide flexibility, and suitability, but when it comes to implementation or operationalizing it, you are going to have to do some framing that keeps you on course, and adaptable to way things evolve.

Marc had mentioned that Clausewitz was influenced by Newtonian physics - I think that is a good assumption based on much of the language. However, there are also instances of Art and Social influences - so I think he recognized the limitations of science in describing a political activity. There is something in Book 1 I think where he notes and I'll paraphrase greatly - "the outcome should not be a slave to the original political objective because things change and to limit yourself would be to deny options and realities" - if I think about it I'll go back and find it later, but maybe John F could find me something close.

I think the discussion on entity based vs. Westphalian based control mechanisms is an important one - but it quickly gets into the question of accountability, and participation. If you move to use military force (or any force) against an entity based control mechanism - what are the implications?

Part of the reason I put this discussion under "Strategic Compression" is because you quickly get into some prickly areas where ideas and perspectives lead to more challenges, or overturn existing mechanisms that seem to work, or at least not work against goals and objectives that all can generally say would be worth achieving. Choices made or not made have some type of effect in this environment for much of the reasons Marc had alluded to with the ref. to biological systems; this is a competitive environment where niches not filled don't stay vacant for long.

Best, Rob
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #38
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Default

Quote:
Too true, Ken. Then again, you can't blame the poor "progressives" - after all, they have been told that material reality (including biology) has no effect on human free will .
I am reminded of the MSG who said during our safety briefing on the deck of the LHA Belleau Woods prior to going on Libo in Subic Bay (and from which I stole shamelessly for my safety briefs almost 15 years later "Gents, before you go down range, let me impart some biblical wisdom, God told Adam, "Adam I got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I'm giving you two heads, the bad news is that I'm only givng you enough blood to run one of them at a time!"

Well worth remembering - but also that immediately following the brief we tore ass for Magsaysay, and in the following days many were lined up for a shot of the wonder drug - which back then killed most everything. Today, most everything is resitant to the wonder drug, and many of those things have also morphed and might even kill you.

Best, Rob
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #39
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Heh. Viruses,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
... Today, most everything is resitant to the wonder drug, and many of those things have also morphed and might even kill you.
bacteria, cancers and social afflictions do morph...

People -- not so much.

All goes back to Robert Fulghum; be careful what you want, you may get it. Seems to me that defining two things; (a) the National Interest; and (b) as Marc said "The point I am trying to make is that the ideology / symbology - what we stand for - must transcend any individual national interest." is the first step and that it is a quite difficult if not impossible step. Still, if one succeeds in doing that, then one must reconcile the two -- even more difficult.

Add to that the fact that one must do that under a governmental system that is, by design, prone to significant changes of course every four or eight years and one is confronted with the fact (IMO) that only an extremely significant and truly existential threat is going to prompt a coherent, stable long term strategy. One is further confronted with two more facts today; (1) the attention span and knowledge of history required to implement anything over the long term is in short supply; and (2) competing visions in a broadly egalitarian society are many and an overarching vision is generally selected by 600 pound Gorillas (or the loudest squeaking Wheels) on the basis of personal preference and only rarely on a logical needs.

All this leads to me saying what everyone already knows. The life of a Strategic Planner is not easy. Such planning is needed, no question but I also believe that it should aim for an achievable solution as opposed to the most desirable solution and, to get back to the 'people don't change much' meme, should be strongly influenced by the culture and history of the target and less so on what 'we' want or believe desirable.

Strategic planning must also accept the reality that is our political milieu (both in and out of uniform...) and should be aimed at inculcating the 'plan' from the bottom up over a long time as opposed to attempting a top down "fix this problem today" approach. The swamp / alligator tale applies...

IOW, to tacticalize the strategizing, it's not one up, two back, hit 'em in the flank and feed the troops a hot meal; rather one up, two back, infiltrate and don't feed the troops until they get the job done...
Ken White is offline  
Old 03-14-2008   #40
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Hmm. If that is true...

Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
Too true, Ken. Then again, you can't blame the poor "progressives" - after all, they have been told that material reality (including biology) has no effect on human free will .
They have less experience with alcohol or Rob's "two heads" phenomena than most...
Ken White is offline  
Closed Thread

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 09:56 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation