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Old 05-25-2010   #81
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Exclamation Probably time to take a break and cool things a bit.

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Old 05-25-2010   #82
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Col. Jones,

This discussion brought up a couple of questions in my mind:

1. Based on all the discussion of "good governance," I get the impression that the responsibility for the condition of "good governance" rests solely on whomever is trying to govern. This suggests that a population's motivations for entering into insurgency are always reasonable and therefore should be accommodated. Is this the case? If not, then how exactly do populations fit into your theory, especially in cases where the goals for two populations are mutually exclusive or are unreasonable?

2. Where does a state's capacity to provide a credible monopoly on violence fit in? I would argue that a credible monopoly on violence is part and parcel of legitimacy for a number or reasons. Justice is a good example. It's not enough to simply provide justice for a population - one must also prevent competing systems of justice from forming (consider, for example, white supremacist "justice" against African-Americans in the south). The point being is that legitimacy isn't enough - it must be backed by a credible monopoly of force both for enforcement as well as deterrence. It seems to me that the deterrent effect from a government's credible monopoly of violence is likely to cause disaffected populations to more seriously consider non-violent means for change. Do you disagree? If so, how so?

JCustis,

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After that, I tool a look at the priority intelligence requirements that are laid out. Not surprisingly, not a single PIR asked the question "why?"

I am pretty much smacking myself on the forehead with the realization that the only way we can actually attack the system and problem, comes from understanding that simple three-letter word.
Amen to that. I've been banging on PIR's for quite a long time now.
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Old 05-25-2010   #83
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Hi Entropy,

Obviously, I'm not speaking for BW, but....

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1. Based on all the discussion of "good governance," I get the impression that the responsibility for the condition of "good governance" rests solely on whomever is trying to govern. This suggests that a population's motivations for entering into insurgency are always reasonable and therefore should be accommodated. Is this the case? If not, then how exactly do populations fit into your theory, especially in cases where the goals for two populations are mutually exclusive or are unreasonable?
Well, populations are not singular; even in families ! I think that they key would be to understand it along the lines of entering into an insurgency always appears reasonable to them (a part of the population) at that point in time. Think back to all the dickering and confusion during the American Revolution for a good example.

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2. Where does a state's capacity to provide a credible monopoly on violence fit in?
No state actually has a monopoly on violence. In the US, for example, each individual state has its own armed forces, as do many municipalities (aka police). Private corporations also have the capability of violence, either from their own security forces or by hiring them or by manipulating local politicians to use theirs. The idea that the "state", which is an illusion anyway, has a monopoly on violence is just one of those myths that have been propagated since the development of modern states.

Cheers,

Marc
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Old 05-25-2010   #84
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There is a good chance your persistent posts consisting of "I disagree" or "I don't understand" don't lend much to the SWJ community.
Fair one, but actually I do see this an important and useful discussion.
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There are dozens of other threads on this site where your comments typically add very much indeed. Post where you please, obviously, but I for one am not benefiting from what you are posting here.
My issue is with your argument. Not you. I have the utmost respect for you, I just do not agree with your argument.

You state the issue in Rebellions/Insurgencies is with "poor governance." I understand that and in some cases it may even be correct, but surely this is the realm of policy?
If the US Government tells you to prop up a dictator, then that is the policy. Your job is to do it.

If you are telling me that it is sound policy to force "good governance" on folks, then OK, but my guess is that insurgents who resent your secular western democratic "governance" will use violence to oppose it. What then?

If they do NOT use violence, then they are using the political process (formal or informal, regular or irregular) - and thus should be immune from military action, in regards to supporting the policy (do not needlessly kill civilians)

Now if the above tells you that I do not understand something about the relationship of Policy to Strategy and Strategy to tactics, then I really want to know what I am missing.
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Old 05-25-2010   #85
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As I was taught.

You have a guerrilla army that formed as a reaction to an oppressive government. The Guerrillas are recruited from the ingenious population.

You have a conventional army of the oppressive government.
The army of the oppressive government also recruits from the indigenous population.

The more guerrillas that are killed by the government army the more they are killing their own "kinfolks" and will do nothing but make the guerrilla army stronger. Hence you cannot kill your way out of it without murdering your whole population.

SF-can advise/train (they should not fight if possible)the legitimate guerrilla Army of the people and free them from their oppressive government. And we all live happily ever after.

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Old 05-25-2010   #86
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Well, populations are not singular; even in families !
That's exactly what I'm driving at. Obviously each population considers its own grievances to be legitimate, but addressing those grievances can cause another population to turn to violence. For example, consider the institution of slavery in the US from before Civil War and through the Civil Rights Act. Was there, for example, some kind of "good governance" which we might have instituted sometime before the Civil War that would have avoided that conflict? Was there any possible kind of "good governance" that could have brought us to where we are today in the 19th century? Was rebellion in the south a failure of governance? I don't think so. In fact, I suspect that had the feds tried to impose something like the CRA immediately following the Civil War, then we likely would have faced a post-war insurgency. So the question is, what can governance do when populations have irreconcilable differences?

Applying this to Afghanistan, I really need to be convinced that good central governance in Afghanistan is even possible, much less the highly centralized government that currently exists. The best that could be hoped for, in my estimation, is something along the lines of how Pakistan is currently organized, but that isn't working out all that well either. The alternative is the devolution of central power altogether - if centralized good governance isn't possible, then perhaps a highly decentralized state is. Certainly there is precedence for that in Afghanistan, but we are limited by the political reality and the conditions today, which is a highly centralized Afghan government wholly dependent on foreign powers.

In short, I question that there is any kind of "good governance" under the existing system which can satisfy all the competing factions.

The alternative is for the populations to change. Such change occurs very slowly. This is, I think, what happened here in the US with slavery. Good governance did not solve the irreconcilable differences between the North and South, even after the Civil War. Ultimately, and over a long period of time, the populace changed. In Afghanistan I fear trying to bring misplaced notions of good governance through a highly centralized government will set the stage for more violence in Afghanistan and not less.

In the end what we think is "good governance" may, in reality, turn into quite the opposite. Jcustis' comments highlight our continuing collective ignorance on Afghanistan which impedes our ability to understand what good governance is in Afghanistan, much less our ability to foster it.

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No state actually has a monopoly on violence. In the US, for example, each individual state has its own armed forces, as do many municipalities (aka police). Private corporations also have the capability of violence, either from their own security forces or by hiring them or by manipulating local politicians to use theirs. The idea that the "state", which is an illusion anyway, has a monopoly on violence is just one of those myths that have been propagated since the development of modern states.
That's true and I do understand there are various levels of government and/or authority depending on circumstances. "Monopoly" is the wrong word and I didn't mean a monolithic "state" so sorry for the confusion.

Let me put it this way - what is it that prevents me from taking justice into my own hands? In large part it is because I'm deterred from doing so because the "state" (ie. some authority with coercive power over me) will visit negative repercussions upon me that I cannot avoid. In short, one can't have a governmental authority without credible coercive power to include violence. If I tried to set up my own independent system of justice here in my neighborhood it wouldn't last long because the government has the coercive power to prevent it, even if my system of justice is superior and more legitimate in the eyes of my "population" (ie. my neighborhood). I would still fail because the government has the coercive power to prevent my system from being used.

Now suppose that the government had limited (or no) means to prevent me from forming my own independent system of justice. In that case my system has the chance to win based on its merits vs what the government can offer. I have the opportunity to supplant the government in delivering justice for my population. More likely, though, the government would have some coercive power and so would I. We are both, then, in the position of competing over the population as well as trying to reduce the other's coercive power. It may be the case that our justice systems are not that different, or are not sufficiently different that the population would not live under one or the other. In that case, legitimacy is not derived from who can provide the best system of justice, but who can exclusively provide any system of justice - in other words, competing over the justice system becomes a power struggle. This analogy isn't far removed from what's happening in parts of Afghanistan where people DO need a justice system to resolve disputes.

So legitimacy isn't just the ability to deliver a government service - it's the ability to deliver a service and prevent competitors from offering alternatives and that requires the credible ability to bring violence or coercion on those who would buck your system.

For years and years now we've read stories and reports where Afghan government and coalition efforts in any number of areas are stymied because once the government authority leaves, or the project is built, or whatever, a new authority moves in and either fills the vacuum or displaces what government authority there is. The population isn't going to accept your authority unless it is both perceived as legitimate and you posses the credible capability to enforce it. Afghans are notorious fence-sitters because they are so often caught in the middle of power struggles. So for any Afghan government or coalition project to succeed, it must have the durable and credible ability to keep the insurgent governance structure out. The ability to do that successfully is what will give you true legitimacy.

As I said, I think Col. Jone's model is useful and easy to understand, but I would like to know how his model accounts for these factors.
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Old 05-25-2010   #87
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Obviously each population considers its own grievances to be legitimate, but addressing those grievances can cause another population to turn to violence. For example, consider the institution of slavery in the US from before Civil War and through the Civil Rights Act. Was there, for example, some kind of "good governance" which we might have instituted sometime before the Civil War that would have avoided that conflict? Was there any possible kind of "good governance" that could have brought us to where we are today in the 19th century? Was rebellion in the south a failure of governance? I don't think so. In fact, I suspect that had the feds tried to impose something like the CRA immediately following the Civil War, then we likely would have faced a post-war insurgency. So the question is, what can governance do when populations have irreconcilable differences?
I would say yes. Slavery gave the south a competitive advantage over the North. Before it's abolition if the Government would have arranged a fair compensation war could have been avoided. That wasn't done and war followed. Lincoln was assassinated before reconstruction could be completed and extended southern suffering for some time, during which the KKK was formed and prospered until finally MLK arrived and the civil rights act.


As it relates to countries with multiple oppressed populations inside loose borders, yes your actions can create violence between those groups while trying to do the right thing so to speak. But this goes back to Basic Green Beret Stuff, that type of population analysis should happen during step1-psychological preparation of the targeted population.

Finally there is nothing in the Jones model that says your are going to end up with some standard democratically/capitalist style government. Your survey of the population may indicate you should pursue a very different system of government.

We used the Special Warfare model twice in A'stan very successfully and then blew it by not finishing the mission.
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Old 05-25-2010   #88
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We need to hope that AQ does not read her work. Her research shows how nonviolent campaigns achieve success 53% of the time, whereas violent movements only prevail26% of the time.
I'd be curious to see how those percentages were obtained, and what sort of "campaign" qualifies for consideration. Nonviolent tactics can be extremely effective if you have the support base to sustain them. Nonviolent campaigns that can't raise the necessary support to apply meaningful pressure don't generally achieve much beyond making noise.

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I have often stated god help us if we merely crush AQ without also addressing the underlying causation for their movement; because if the organizaiton that comes behind them, and there will be one as sure as day follows night, and they adopt such nonviolent tactics such as Maria promotes; they will likely achieve all of their goals in short order.

At that point we will have to ask ourselves the wisdom of siding with the Despots over siding with the populaces of those same countries.
This assumption rests on a questionable assessment of AQ's causation. AQ is not an insurgency, has no populace, and did not arise as a reaction to despotism. It has never managed to raise sufficient popular support to threaten a government by nonviolent means. If we try to shoehorn AQ into a Cold War paradigm or resistance to oppressive despotism we do ourselves a disservice: it doesn't fit there.

It's worth noting that the "insurgencies" in Iraq and Afghanistan are not reactions to indigenous despotism, but reactions to a foreign power's misplaced confidence in its own ability to create acceptable governance for other countries. Insurgency certainly can be a response to despotism, but it is not always a response to despotism.

Certainly there are violent insurgencies in the world today that would be more effective if they worked through nonviolent tactics: I've long believed that the Palestinians need a Gandhi. Like all other tactics, though, nonviolent resistance requires certain conditions to succeed, and broad popular support is one of them. Calling a strike gets you nowhere if nobody heeds the call, a demonstration is ineffective if nobody shows up. Mass action won't work without mass. Groups turn to violence and terror precisely because they haven't the mass to operate any other way.

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Old 05-25-2010   #89
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It's worth noting that the "insurgencies" in Iraq and Afghanistan are not reactions to indigenous despotism, but reactions to a foreign power's misplaced confidence in its own ability to create acceptable governance for other countries. Insurgency certainly can be a response to despotism, but it is not always a response to despotism.
That is some strategic stuff there.
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Old 05-26-2010   #90
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The military contribution to strategy is violence.
What if the instruction given to the military force by its government is to solve the problem by any available means? Shouldn't that force be considering all means, both violent and non-violent, that might have a bearing on solving the problem?

Why should this discussion avoid political devices that might have a bearing on the problem. or be confined to the use of violence?
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Old 05-26-2010   #91
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After that, I tool a look at the priority intelligence requirements that are laid out. Not surprisingly, not a single PIR asked the question "why?"

I am pretty much smacking myself on the forehead with the realization that the only way we can actually attack the system and problem, comes from understanding that simple three-letter word.
It's a tough question, especially since the answer can vary from place to place and person to person... that doesn't make it any less important!
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Old 05-26-2010   #92
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Col. Jones,

This discussion brought up a couple of questions in my mind:

1. Based on all the discussion of "good governance," I get the impression that the responsibility for the condition of "good governance" rests solely on whomever is trying to govern. This suggests that a population's motivations for entering into insurgency are always reasonable and therefore should be accommodated. Is this the case? If not, then how exactly do populations fit into your theory, especially in cases where the goals for two populations are mutually exclusive or are unreasonable?

2. Where does a state's capacity to provide a credible monopoly on violence fit in? I would argue that a credible monopoly on violence is part and parcel of legitimacy for a number or reasons. Justice is a good example. It's not enough to simply provide justice for a population - one must also prevent competing systems of justice from forming (consider, for example, white supremacist "justice" against African-Americans in the south). The point being is that legitimacy isn't enough - it must be backed by a credible monopoly of force both for enforcement as well as deterrence. It seems to me that the deterrent effect from a government's credible monopoly of violence is likely to cause disaffected populations to more seriously consider non-violent means for change. Do you disagree? If so, how so?

JCustis,



Amen to that. I've been banging on PIR's for quite a long time now.
The responsibility for Good Governance DOES rest solely on the government. That is why it is called "service" or "duty". When governmental leaders begin to think of the populace as existing to serve them you are on the slippery slope to Poor Governance, Subversion and Insurgency.

The population's rationale only have to be reasonable to them. As my wife is quick to tell me "don't tell me how I feel." Governments like to think that what they think is right, and what the populace thinks contrary to those offiicial positions is moot. This natural tendency is what allows subversion to grow among the people while the government rationalizes the danger away as being attributed to a few radicals.

As to the insurgent being right or wrong, I have to go with what was captured quite intentionally in our Declaration of Independence. It is both the Duty and the Right of a Populace to rise up in insurgency when faced with Despotism. As an attorney, I understand that a Duty is something that one must do, and a Right is something that cannot be taken away. As an SF officer I understand that insurgency can take many forms; that the formative causal factors that must be addressed are the same, regardless in what form the movement manifests. The natural tendency, when denied legal recourse, if for the populace to take illegal routes to change. As Maria lays out in her work, the non-violent ways are more apt to succeed than the violent ways.

To simply say violence is war, and war is a military matter, and the military's job is to crush said violence is the same supervicial analysis from the perspective of the Despot that has lead to many a long, drawnout struggle between a populace and its failed governance.

Better instead for Governance to see such movements as the clearest of metrics, the most accurate of polls, and to modify their behavior to the degree practicable to resolve their failures short of simply ramping up the oppression.



Dayuhan: Concur completely that AQ is not an insurgent organization. After all, they have no populace, and they have no state. They are a political club that employs the tools of the modern information age to conduct Unconventional Warfare to incite, leverage, and support the insurgencies of others to their ends.

This used to be the realm of states. Hitler needed a state to go from a Dissident in Munich to causing trouble on a global stage. Today, if AQ gained a state they would be crushed in days. By remaining in the "sanctuary" of their non-state status (no, Afghanistan is not their essential sanctuary, their status is), they remain outside the reach of the tools of statehood. What we need to focus on are the many unique, distinct troubled relationships between states across the Middle East and their populaces, and also assess our roles in those relationships as seen from the perspectives of the populaces.

The intel guys always cast this in friend-foe model that is wrong-headed and dangerous. It drives the F'd up PIRs that were mentioned. PIRs need to get to the critical questions that the boss must understand to focus his efforts to win. Those PIRs should be based in my four causal factors, not in what is the current manifestation of violence up to.

Oh, and final point. When one invades and displaces the governance of another, and replaces it with a government that has a higher duty to the foreign power than they do to their own populace; The despotism at work is that of the foreign power. To conduct such operations may sometimes well be necessary. But the aftermath must very much be rooted in allowing / enabling the populace to shape what comes next and for the foreigner to go home ASAP. He can always come back if need be, but to stay is to create conditions that are brutally hard to overcome.
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Old 05-26-2010   #93
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To simply say violence is war, and war is a military matter, and the military's job is to crush said violence is the same supervicial analysis from the perspective of the Despot that has lead to many a long, drawnout struggle between a populace and its failed governance.
That is an over simplification of my position. Rebels seek to alter the distribution of power by violence - and other means. The job of the military is to counter that violence. How skilfully that is done pretty much defines how effective it is.
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Better instead for Governance to see such movements as the clearest of metrics, the most accurate of polls, and to modify their behavior to the degree practicable to resolve their failures short of simply ramping up the oppression.
That view assumes that the Rebels always have a legitimate point that matches a position the government could take if it wished. That is almost never the case, nor is it ever likely to be.
Rebels rarely, if ever, have a legitimate cause in the eyes of the Government. That is the problem! - Moreover who is to judge legitimacy for the "Jones Model."
The primary purpose of Government is defence of the state. You have a Government so as people cannot set forth policy using violence against the state.
Rebels seek power via violence. You prevent them gaining it, via violence.
Quote:
Concur completely that AQ is not an insurgent organization. After all, they have no populace, and they have no state.
Yet AQ seeks the re-distribution of power via violence. They have a policy, they aspire to a state, and they conform to a Clausewitian trinity - they do have a populace. People support them. People fund them.
They are clearly strategically inept, so I wonder why we worry so much about them.

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What if the instruction given to the military force by its government is to solve the problem by any available means? Shouldn't that force be considering all means, both violent and non-violent, that might have a bearing on solving the problem?

Why should this discussion avoid political devices that might have a bearing on the problem. or be confined to the use of violence?
Well if anyone ever says "solve the problem by any available means" then they are an idiot, because that is not a setting forth of policy. That is the opposite of Strategy. You have to have a policy! That policy set conditions for the employment of force.

In Oman the Sultan, said "defeat the rebels, - so that development can begin."
In most UK insurgencies the basic guidance was "defeat the rebels - so as we can organise the peaceful transfer of power to a democratic political process."

Yes, all instrument of power should be used, but the primary aim should be ending the rebellion, by getting the rebels to give up. Then the politics can kick in.
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Old 05-26-2010   #94
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Sorry, but another point I think worth considering.

Insurgencies and rebellions often see the insurgents/rebels killing a great many civilians to advance their cause. In fact I can only think of 3 insurgencies where this was not the predominately the case.

In all the Algerian insurgencies, Sierra Leone, the vast majority of dead were civilians killed by the rebels. I submit the same is most likely true in Iraq and A'Stan. It was certainly true in Malaya, Kenya, and Northern Ireland, and very many more. The NLF/VC is credited with killing vastly more Vietnamese civilians than they killed US or ARVN.
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Old 05-26-2010   #95
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In Oman the Sultan, said "defeat the rebels, - so that development can begin."
In most UK insurgencies the basic guidance was "defeat the rebels - so as we can organise the peaceful transfer of power to a democratic political process."


And in both of those cases, the populace's position was "throw out the Despot so that we can replace it with govnernace who's Legitimacy we recognize, who treats the populace with Respect; where the people can find Justice under the law; and where once again the people can have Hope."

I'm sorry, Great Britain is the best BAD example of COIN theory in the past 200 plus years. Their entire model is based upon sustaining in power forms of government over the populaces of others that recognizes its priority mission being to support the National interests of Great Britain. That, my friend, is not COIN. That is Colonial Oppression.

A great political cartoon would show Uncle Sam staring into his bathroom mirror preparing for his morning shave, and seeing King George staring back at him. The caption would be along the lines of :

"Holy S..t, I have grown up and become my father."
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Old 05-26-2010   #96
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And in both of those cases, the populace's position was "throw out the Despot so that we can replace it with govnernace who's Legitimacy we recognize, who treats the populace with Respect; where the people can find Justice under the law; and where once again the people can have Hope."
I submit that historical fact shows the opposite.
In Oman, the populace largely rejected the communist rebels and opted for the rule of the Sultan. - not everyone wants to be a democracy.
UK policy was to divest itself of the Empire. It cost too much money and it gained little strategic benefit. WW2 confirmed the need for the process. In all but 2 cases the planned transfer of power took place on UK terms.

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I'm sorry, Great Britain is the best BAD example of COIN theory in the past 200 plus years. Their entire model is based upon sustaining in power forms of government over the populaces of others that recognizes its priority mission being to support the National interests of Great Britain. That, my friend, is not COIN. That is Colonial Oppression.
Again, I submit that is not an accurate version of history. UK Colonial policy varied greatly in time and place. For example, Ireland was offered Dominion status before WW1. The situation in Kenya was very different from Cyprus. The Kenyan insurgency was tribally based and thus not legitimate in the eyes of a lot of Kenyans 15-30,000 died at the hands of the rebels as a result. The Cyprus insurgency was tied to Greek Nationalism, and not legitimate in the eyes of Turkish, etc etc etc.

Now, I will agree with you that the mean used to defeat each particular rebel group, were extremely brutal, but no more so than the means common at the time. I am no advocating brutality. I am advocating the use of armed force to defeat armed force.
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Old 05-26-2010   #97
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And I am advocating that Great Britain (and all of Colonial Europe for that matter) are examples of Empires that crumbled under the very tactics you profess, and that we study so closely today.

That these European Empires were born of an information age powered by the Printing Press; and succumbed to a following information age born of Steam and Electricity. Revolutions in Information technology drive revolutions in Governance. What had worked (as you often profess) forever, is now as obsolete as so many tools that lay about our grandfather's garages and sheds.

Now comes the United States on the heels of these failed Empires, in the midst of this revolution of information technology. All of the tools handed to us by our predecessors were obsolete when we received them, but there was no way to know that, as they had always worked before. Silicon Chips, satellites, etc empowered the populaces of Eastern Europe to stand up to their Soviet masters, knowing the rest of the world backed their play. Now the Middle East seeks its opportunity as well. It is as natural as the rotation of the earth, or the movements of the tides. It is human nature, and it controls us, not the other way around.

We can resist this force of nature, or we can embrace it. I argue that success comes from embracing the emerging age; and that all powers seeking to emerge will do so. History tells us that empires seeking to hold onto their gains cling to the past, and to applying force to sustain the status quo.

Your model is obsolete Mr. Owen. Like Fred Flintstone, you are riding a dinosaur to work.
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Old 05-26-2010   #98
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
And I am advocating that Great Britain (and all of Colonial Europe for that matter) are examples of Empires that crumbled under the very tactics you profess, and that we study so closely today.
The British Empire did not "crumble." It either altered into dominions, or was was granted independence - in the vast majority of cases, peacefully - as was the policy. The Empire ceased to exist because of politics and economics. It was not vanquished by force. In fact the exact opposite is true.
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I argue that success comes from embracing the emerging age; and that all powers seeking to emerge will do so. History tells us that empires seeking to hold onto their gains cling to the past, and to applying force to sustain the status quo.
Well that's very romantic, but it's not good history. Empires come and go as a result of politics, -which sometimes includes the use of armed force, but almost never as a result of rebellions alone - in fact I cannot think of one.

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Your model is obsolete Mr. Owen. Like Fred Flintstone, you are riding a dinosaur to work.
...and immensely happy to be so! Not sure that forms an argument, but certainly an amusing image. My wife recently managed to persuade someone she rode a donkey to work every morning!
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 05-26-2010   #99
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I think my assessment of history is fine, but I am open minded.

When I was with the Egyptian Army, they all believed quite seriously that they had never lost a war with Israel.

When I talk to "Good Cold Warriors" they see America as bringing nothing but goodness, democracy, and rule of law to the people of the world.

It does not surprise me then, that one with a background in Great Britain would have a similarly biased view of their own history.

If 5 SWJ members, not of the empire, come up on the net and say "yeah, Bob, the Brits really rolled up the carpet as part of a master economic plan, and not due to the populaces of places like the US, India, or Iran throwing them out; then fine, I will hit the books and drill deeper. To say you have a strategy of reducing the empire because your strategy to hold the empire failed in the face of popular revolt, does not count.
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Old 05-26-2010   #100
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Silicon Chips, satellites, etc empowered the populaces of Eastern Europe to stand up to their Soviet masters, knowing the rest of the world backed their play. Now the Middle East seeks its opportunity as well. It is as natural as the rotation of the earth, or the movements of the tides. It is human nature, and it controls us, not the other way around.
The Middle East seeks the opportunity… to do what? To stand up to its masters? The Middle East hasn’t any master to stand up to. Of course they will seek to develop, emerge, and take their place in the world, why should they not? Certainly the US has no reason to try to stop them… Osama and his ilk will certainly try to abort the process, but it’s not likely that they’ll succeed: their support is just not broad enough.

The challenge the Middle East faces isn’t foreign mastery, it’s reconciling the conflicting impulses of their own populaces: some want full-on modernity, some want to retreat to the Middle Ages, some want material progress while retaining cultural traditions. Some want to maintain strong central states, some want regional autonomy… and on, and on, and on. It’s a diverse place with a lot of populaces and a lot of disagreement on direction and desired end state.

A lot of Americans misread the situation by assuming that change, progress, and emergence must necessarily mean abandonment of traditional political structures. Many Americans simply can’t imagine a government run by a King, Sheik, Emir, or Sultan that isn’t faced by a popular insurgency. It’s not something we’d accept, so we assume others shouldn’t accept it either.

Of course reality is much more complicated. Some of the more progressive and most emergent states in the Middle East are under traditional royal structures: Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE... and these governments enjoy very high levels of popular support. Some of those closest to collapse have Western-style structures, (Yemen, for one). In many cases populaces seem quite content with traditional structures, and the objections seem to come primarily from Americans who find the idea of royalty aesthetically displeasing... I can't say I find it aesthetically pleasing myself, but it's not my problem or my affair.

In any event, meddling in the internal affairs of these countries, no matter what the motive, is going to win no points with government or populace. We need to be minding our own business wherever possible, not trying to decide what constitutes good or bad governance for anyone else.
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