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Old 01-22-2011   #41
Bob's World
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Dayuhan,

As usual you disagree with me. That is fine, as a former trial attorney I appreciate the role of adversarial advocacy in helping the jury get the information they need to arrive at a just decision. The SWC is the jury, and the benefit from such diversity.

That said, I find your positions to be bizarrely rooted in a 20 year old US perception of the world that never actually existed then, and certainly does not exist now. But many smart people share your perspectives, so it's an important position to put to the jury.

So, I stand by my assessment. Read the dozens of news reports linked to this thread regarding the impact of events in Tunisia on the populaces and governments across North Africa and into the Arabian Penn. This has been a massive wake-up call to both. Governments are in shock that populaces that have been effectively suppressed for generations are suddenly acting out effectively and with greater coordination. The new information age provides a tremendous advantage to the people. Not only did it enable the specific events in Tunisia, but it allowed those events to motivate and encourage similarly situated populaces across a vast area in real time. This is a textbook example of the ONE THING THAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT INSURGENCY TODAY vice the 1960s, the 1860s, or 60AD. It is this same information age that AQ leverages so well in their networked UW efforts.

But here is a break in our favor. Sure, we have been tied these governments as our tools for securing access and influence into the resources, LOCs, etc of this region. Such relationships also served to deny the Soviets access to the same during the Cold War. Sustaining such controlling/protective relationships long after the end of the Cold War has fed the growing populace discontent that AQ has feasted upon, and the same popular discontent that is now rumbling like a string of long dormant, but now smoking volcanoes across the region.

So I repeat: The U.S. has before it a tremendous opportunity to repair and rebuild our influence in the region. To supplant AQ as the self-appointed champion of the oppressed minorities (we call that "de oppresso liber" where I come from) and to update the nature of our relationships with these governments to be less focused on specific regimes and individuals and more focused on the nations and the populaces of which they are comprised.

How do we do that? Many options, and I'd like to think that right now in some dark basement in DC that a team of State Department and Defense planners are swarming like ants all over it, as the NSC guides the process and informs the President of progress. Are Marines the right answer for the long term? They rarely are. Are they a great way to put people and governments on notice that we think something is important and to tread cautiously in their actions? They always have been.
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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 01-22-2011   #42
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Default "r-e-s-p-e-c-t"

One of the four primary causal factors for growing the conditions of insurgency within a society.

Too much focus is put on jobs, poverty, infrastructure, religion, etc. These are all important and always contribute to why people are willing to join a movement. But when one looks to what converts a dissatisfied populace into an insurgent one, "Respect" is always high on the list. You can wrongfully rob a man of many things and he will roll with the punches. Attempt to rob him of his honor, his pride, and it is another degree of oppression all together.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/wo...22sidi.html?hp
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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 01-22-2011   #43
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Default Where is the tipping point?

I am not a student of revolution / violent changes of government and so rely on some history and observing recent events - say back to the fall of the Shah in 1979.

In Tunisia the catalyst appears to have been the student trader's arrest and self-immolation. After several days of nationwide disorder, none of which affected key institutions, there is reporting that the Army commander declined to order troops to use live rounds to quell the disorder. Today the BBC has reported police and para-military police have joined demonstrations.

When does state coercive power, including Information Warfare, cease to have an impact and why? Capability, non-lethal and lethal; lack of will, confidence etc. I do recall the fall of East Germany, the GDR, was attributed to a clear Soviet stance and so without the Soviet "muscle" the GDR was unable to use coercion.

I am uncertain that faraway observers, like me, can discern the tipping point beforehand; leaving aside how often the tipping point occurs and is avoided. Nor that extensive intelligence-gathering and awareness can help.

It puzzles me, how can ruthless states apparently cease to function. Not to overlook that such states can falter and then crush opposition - Tienanmen Square for example.

Talking to Muslims and reading the often cited tipping point into radicalisation, not violence, is a human rights violation that has impact.
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Old 01-22-2011   #44
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Default What role the Islamists?

From ICSR a commentary 'Rachid Ghannouchi and the Struggle for Tunisia', including citations from an interview of the leader in London and worth a read for that alone:http://icsr.info/blog/Rachid-Ghannou...le-for-Tunisia
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Old 01-22-2011   #45
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I'm not sure how important "tipping point" assessment is. That's kind of like asking how often one can physically/emotionally abuse their spouse before they leave them. The tolerance of every spouse is different, just as the events that will trigger negative responses are different. The human dynamic, however, is universal. Same is true for insurgency.

My advice is: "don't abuse your spouse." Same advice to governments. Don't ask me how much you can get away with; how much illegitimacy is too much, or what will drive that determination in a particular populace; how much injustice in the application of the rule of law, or what types of enforcement will be perceived as unjust in a particular populace; what inequities and disrespect as a matter of status sting the members of a particular populace most sharply; how how all of these things will feed on each other, along with other physical, financial hardships to this "tipping point." But in understanding and valuing what is important one never gets close to such a point.

Also, if there are trusted, certain and legal means available to a populace to address their reasonable grievances with government such tipping points can be avoided as well. This is a large part of what maintains stability in the U.S. and it is so trusted and common to us that we take it for granted.

But there are many nations in the Arab league that are absolutely teetering on the tipping point right now. There are no such trusted, certain and legal venues to address governance in these countries. Some will react with greater oppression and suppress the populace. Some may make concessions (In Eastern Europe this was the decision put to Soviet leadership, and it was only their decision not to counter such populace movements that prevented a generational conflict there) Certainly the Islamists will surge to take advantage, to claim responsibility and seek to seize positions of influence in emerging governments. The West cannot afford to merely sit back and watch. To remain neutral is to create the presumption that we support the status quo. This will embolden despots to crack down on their people, and it will also strengthen the position of the Islamist with the people as well.
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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 01-22-2011   #46
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Default Where are the Islamists- one opinion

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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
From ICSR a commentary 'Rachid Ghannouchi and the Struggle for Tunisia', including citations from an interview of the leader in London and worth a read for that alone:http://icsr.info/blog/Rachid-Ghannou...le-for-Tunisia
David-

One opinion from a Professor Roy of the EU Institute in Florence was on the NY Times website today.

I suspect the truth is somewhere in between Prof Roy's position and that of the article you posted.

V/R,

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Old 01-23-2011   #47
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As usual you disagree with me. That is fine, as a former trial attorney I appreciate the role of adversarial advocacy in helping the jury get the information they need to arrive at a just decision. The SWC is the jury, and the benefit from such diversity.
The benefits of diversity are enhanced if the points made are actually and specifically addressed.

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That said, I find your positions to be bizarrely rooted in a 20 year old US perception of the world that never actually existed then, and certainly does not exist now.
How so, exactly? The jury might benefit from a specific elucidation of the question to be resolved.

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Read the dozens of news reports linked to this thread regarding the impact of events in Tunisia on the populaces and governments across North Africa and into the Arabian Penn.
The impact remains speculative; the pieces cited discuss possible consequences that are anything but certain. Certainly political change is long overdue in many places, but how and when it will occur remains to be seen, and it is in no way certain that external interference will accelerate the process or make it less destructive.

It's important to note that these mostly peaceful uprisings that overthrow despotic governments do not simply occur because the populace has reached a point where the government can no longer contain them. They also indicate that the government's ability to contain has deteriorated to the point where the security apparatus is no longer willing to carry out orders. In many ways these are cases where a sick government essentially expires of natural causes. Trying to replicate or encourage these events in places where governments have not yet reached that point is a good way to start a bloodbath.

I repeat: US intervention should be a matter of last resort, when intervention is absolutely necessary and no other intervention is forthcoming. First choice is to allow the locals to manage on their own, a distant second is multilateral pressure, a distant third is multilateral action. I'll argue that case in front of a jury any time.

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Sustaining such controlling/protective relationships long after the end of the Cold War has fed the growing populace discontent that AQ has feasted upon
This is said so often that it has become a mantra, and desperately needs to be realistically evaluated. Who exactly do we control and protect? What governments are we protecting from their own populaces, or enabling, or emboldening?

The only feast that matters to AQ is foreign intervention in Muslim lands, especially if it's military: this is what AQ thrives on, and no matter what the intention of the intervention is, it will be credibly presented as an attempt at suppression and control. AQ has tried to exploit resentment toward despotic governments, but these attempts have generally failed: AQ has never sparked a credible insurgency against a Muslim government that wasn't installed by foreign invaders. That's not because these populaces love their governments, it's because they don't see AQ as a viable alternative. AQ may have tried to appoint themselves champion of the masses, but the masses have never confirmed the appointment. The same is likely to happen to us if we try to appoint ourselves to that role.

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To supplant AQ as the self-appointed champion of the oppressed minorities (we call that "de oppresso liber" where I come from) and to update the nature of our relationships with these governments to be less focused on specific regimes and individuals and more focused on the nations and the populaces of which they are comprised.
We cannot appoint ourselves as anyone's champion. If our help or protection is requested by parties with a legitimate claim to represent a populace, that's another story. Offering our help to such parties is another story... but imposing ourselves uninvited is simply not acceptable. It is not and never will be seen as "standing up for the little guy". It is seen as an attempt to take control and advance our own interests.

I agree with you on the importance of respect, but I think you miss an important part of the respect equation. People all over the world, even those who loathe their governments, react very badly when we lecture those governments on human rights, democracy, etc. Our interference is not seen as help for the oppressed, it's seen as disrespect for the nation and the culture. The fastest way for the US to rally support behind an oppressive government is often to criticize that government.

Allowing people to sort out their own issues to the greatest possible extent is respect. Offering help if it's needed is respect. Imposing "help" where it has not been requested is disrespect.

If we put Marines in the picture, this is not going to be seen as support for the little guy. That may be our intention, but it won't be seen that way. Our purposes may be as pure as the driven snow, but they won't be seen that way. US armed force will be seen as muscle-flexing, intimidation, and an attempt to advance our interests, and it will be seen that way no matter what we say.

I see absolutely no evidence of conditions in Tunisia that call for US intervention. We've already made statements supporting a democratic transition, and those should continue, from as many sources as possible. If the interim government starts trying to derail transition, multilateral pressure may be called for, but that's a bridge we should cross when and if we come to it. Nothing going on that calls for Marines.
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Old 01-23-2011   #48
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Dayuhan,

For whatever reason you feel compelled to attack whatever I say. That's cool. But it does not create in me any compulsion or duty to argue with your opinions. They are your opinions, I see little to support them, so I let them stand on their own merit.

As a former prosecutor, I lay out the facts as I understand them, offer evidence to support and make my argument. The Defense has no duty to prove anything, so merely follows behind and attempts to create reasonable doubt in the prosecutor's case. I never worried too much about the defense, if my case was strong, it would stand on its own merit.

But as I would remind a jury, there is always doubt in life. But not all of it is reasonable, and the only doubt that is material is that that is both reasonable and goes to the elements of the crime before them. Most have driven, or at least ridden in a car on a two lane road, meeting cars traveling in the opposite direction at a combined speed of well over 100mph, separated by mere inches and line painted on the road. Everyone knows that car could swerve for any number of reasons and kill their entire family, and yet everyone goes out there every day and drives. The doubt is unreasonable.

You have many doubts, that's fine. I just find most of them to be either off point or unreasonable.
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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 01-23-2011   #49
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Default The False premise and promise of GWOT Strategy

Regardless of what we call the surge of politically motivated, Islamist- Ideologically fused rise of act of terrorism against Western targets, the premise for the Western response possesses some major flaws. These flaws are of such a nature that they could actually make the problems for the West worse rather than better.

1. Promote sustainment of the status quo of political rule in all "allied" states.

This is foundational to the colonial intervention approach to foreign policy. Establishing and sustaining in power governments that are supportive of one's own national interests. Much of US COIN doctrine is built upon this foundation of colonial intervention, so has this problematic fault line of exercising control over (through subtle to overt means) the political processes of others.

2. To quick to promote overthrow of rule in non-allied states, or even those that disagree with us, and replacement with a regime that will support our national interests in the region.

3. Overly quick to brand non-state organizations that are emerging to positions of influence as "terrorist" organizations. This enables greater freedom to wage CT activities against these groups, but also effectively closes the door to other more productive forms of engagement. The State Department does not worry about establishing diplomatic relations with an organization, regardless of how influential it may be, once it goes on such a list. At that point it is just a "target" or a "threat" to be attacked or defeated.

4. Over reliance on CT tactics to target individuals and organizations that emerge to challenge the status quo through illegal means.

5. Over reliance on building the CT capacity of allied nation security forces to more effectively engage or suppress such nationalist organizations that emerge from their own populace to illegally challenge the status quo government.

6. Being so desperate for "friends" that we begin to hang out with some very shady characters, or just as bad, ignore the growing unacceptable nature of the behavior of our old friends.

EX:
Quote:
The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten released a series of US diplomatic cables from 2006 on massive and pervasive corruption and nepotism in Tunisia and its effect on economic development and social problems. The cables show that the United States government was fully aware of the dangerous and debilitating level of corruption in Tunisia, and its anti-democratic implications. But they raise the question of whether Washington was wise to make Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, despite his clear foibles, the pillar of its North Africa policy because of his role, as a secular strongman, in repressing Muslim movements (as William MacLean of Reuters argues).

The US embassy in Tunis noted the contradictions of what was once called "the Tunisian miracle" - relative stability and security and 5 per cent growth a year, but with mafia style corruption on the part of ruling cliques that was discouraging foreign investment and contributing to failing banks and high unemployment.
http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth...299907176.html

7. The coming shift of lead from Defense to State (good); and from combat to development (ok...) without a corresponding shift of Strategy.
We are merely changing the Ways and Means without updating our Ends or our understanding of the problem. Massive development in support of illegitimate and failing regimes is no more able to prop them up against a growing Tsunami of popular opposition than massive military support is. In fact, if suppression of symptoms is the goal, history is on the side of ruthless application of force as the most effective technique.


My point on this Tunisian thread is that here is an event that pokes big holes in the "expert" positions that have shaped our GWOT strategy and engagement over the past several years. Here is an opportunity to take a hard look into that hole, and gain a clearer perspective of what is going on and why. Here is an opportunity to make a substantive change in how we see and address such problems; and in how we promote and preserve our interests. The world is changing, the US and the West must evolve as well.
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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)

Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-23-2011 at 11:35 AM. Reason: Use quotes around citation, not italics.
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Old 01-24-2011   #50
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For whatever reason you feel compelled to attack whatever I say. That's cool. But it does not create in me any compulsion or duty to argue with your opinions. They are your opinions, I see little to support them, so I let them stand on their own merit.
Why is very simple: I think the course of action you promote would be counterproductive and extremely dangerous: with the best of intentions I don't doubt, but good intentions don't always lead to good places. I also think your case is based on some very questionable assumptions, most notably the continuing and unsupported claim that autocratic states in the ME - particularly Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States - are somehow enabled and empowered by the US, and that the US therefore has some sort of influence that it could use to change their behavior. I might also cite your repeated and equally unsupported claim that the end of the Cold War increased instability in the developing world by removing some sort of benign equilibrium that existed between the US and the Soviet Union.

When these and other points are challenged, often with arguments that are by no means irrelevant, there is seldom any direct attempt to clarify or develop the points being made: they are simply repeated, as revealed truth. I admit that I find that frustrating, and that frustration produces the occasional intemperate post: temperance is perhaps not among my virtues (my wife assures me that have a few).

I cannot help but believe that the proposed intrusion of the US into the internal affairs of other nations as self-appointed "champion" of populaces that have never asked for our help, do not trust us, and whose issues and concerns are largely unfamiliar to us is not going to advance our interests in any way. I do not think that an unreasonable concern.

Omar advised, in an excellent post on another thread, that you stop looking at Afghanistan as the 51st state of the US. I agree, and I'd add Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and a few others to the list.

I believe that intervention in the internal affairs of others is like punishment for guilt: to be undertaken only when it is necessary beyond reasonable doubt. The reasonable doubts do need to be addressed if intervention is to be contemplated or even threatened.

On a few individual points...

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1. Promote sustainment of the status quo of political rule in all "allied" states.
Are we actually promoting the status quo? Where? There's a huge difference between promoting a status quo and dealing with a status quo that is not within our power to change. Attempting to initiate changes in the internal status quo of an allied nation (or any nation) is every bit as dangerous as trying to promote the status quo, possibly worse: it's simply not something we have the right to do. It is meddling of the worst sort and there will be a negative backlash no matter how good our intentions are.

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2. To quick to promote overthrow of rule in non-allied states, or even those that disagree with us, and replacement with a regime that will support our national interests in the region.
Agree completely: I've always thought regime change a very dangerous idea. One might point out, though, that other than the rather irrational post-9/11 lashing out, this is not something we've done a great deal of since the end of the Cold War.

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3. Overly quick to brand non-state organizations that are emerging to positions of influence as "terrorist" organizations. This enables greater freedom to wage CT activities against these groups, but also effectively closes the door to other more productive forms of engagement. The State Department does not worry about establishing diplomatic relations with an organization, regardless of how influential it may be, once it goes on such a list. At that point it is just a "target" or a "threat" to be attacked or defeated.
Groups that pursue terrorist tactics are terrorists, and responding to terrorism with attempts to engage productively simply sends a message that terrorism works. We might be better advised to try to engage with groups that disagree with us but have not embraced terrorism. In the case of AQ, there was going to be a confrontation no matter what we did: AQ needed it and was going to pursue it in any event. It takes two to talk and only one to fight. They needed a fight and they were going to push until they got one.

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4. Over reliance on CT tactics to target individuals and organizations that emerge to challenge the status quo through illegal means.
Agreed... though just as we should not be too quick to assume that every insurgent is a terrorist, we must also not be too quick to brand every terrorist an insurgent. Blowing something up doesn't automatically make you a noble fighter for freedom: there are people out there trying to use violence to proactively impose an agenda that has nothing at all to do with freedom, and they are not necessarily wounded respondents to American provocation.

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5. Over reliance on building the CT capacity of allied nation security forces to more effectively engage or suppress such nationalist organizations that emerge from their own populace to illegally challenge the status quo government.
The extent to which this occurs is quite exaggerated. Most of these nations do not need our help to suppress opposition, whether nationalist or otherwise. They do it very effectively on their own. They have lots of practice.

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6. Being so desperate for "friends" that we begin to hang out with some very shady characters, or just as bad, ignore the growing unacceptable nature of the behavior of our old friends.
Agreed, to a point. "Friends", though, doesn't mean much in politics and diplomacy. There are shady characters that we have to deal with: they exist and we haven't the power to remove them. There are real limits to the extent to which the US can brand the behavior of other nations as "unacceptable". We are not the global morality police.

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7. The coming shift of lead from Defense to State (good); and from combat to development (ok...) without a corresponding shift of Strategy.
We are merely changing the Ways and Means without updating our Ends or our understanding of the problem. Massive development in support of illegitimate and failing regimes is no more able to prop them up against a growing Tsunami of popular opposition than massive military support is. In fact, if suppression of symptoms is the goal, history is on the side of ruthless application of force as the most effective technique.
I don't see any reason to view political change as a problem. It happens when it's ready to happen. We should work with it as it happens, but if we try to initiate it or direct it we're only going to make a mess.

I quite agree that we should not be defending despots from their own populaces. Taking the opposite approach and trying to overthrow despots, or trying to impose ourselves as uninvited champion of the populace, is stepping way beyond any kind of appropriate role.

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My point on this Tunisian thread is that here is an event that pokes big holes in the "expert" positions that have shaped our GWOT strategy and engagement over the past several years. Here is an opportunity to take a hard look into that hole, and gain a clearer perspective of what is going on and why. Here is an opportunity to make a substantive change in how we see and address such problems; and in how we promote and preserve our interests. The world is changing, the US and the West must evolve as well.
I don't see this is a problem, in any way. A crumbling regime fell, that's been expected for some time. It's not exactly a surprise. Political change is underway. There's no need for us to try and control or direct it: to the greatest possible extent this is something the Tunisians need to resolve on their own. If they ask for our help we should give it. If they don't - and they almost certainly won't - our role is to observe and to participate in whatever multilateral actions are deemed necessary.

Of course we should observe, learn, reconsider our positions. We should always be doing that. Bringing Marines into the picture is a matter of last resort and we're nowhere near that.

Too often in the past we've intervened on the wrong side of these situations. The antidote to that is not to try to intervene on the "right" side. The antidote is to stop intervening, unless it's requested and/or absolutely - beyond all reasonable doubt - necessary.

Argh. That was way too long...
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Old 01-27-2011   #51
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This is an important read (and think) piece. This cuts to the heart of what Muslim support to AQ has been all about. For the fear mongers in the US, it is noteworthy how little support or mention of Islamist positions are where liberty is actually being achieved. Arab despots, those who support arab despots, and those who simply are clueless about insurgency have been playing up the Islamist threat for a decade. They are, and have been, wrong.

This has NEVER been about ideology, it has been about oppressed people and the pursuit of liberty. Ideologies are just the tools employed to get there. This was true with communism in Africa and Asia post WWII; and it is true with Islamism in the Arab world post Cold War. This is not to say that we cannot drive these people into the arms of Islamist extremists by coming in on the side of sustaining despots in power over the express will of the people. We can. I pray we do not make that mistake.

De Oppresso Liber.

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth...530411972.html
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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 01-28-2011   #52
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This is an important read (and think) piece.
It's a think piece alright. Written by a known "America is evil and the problem" guy with a checkered history. Like many articles, it contains some fact, some opinions and some questionable items...
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This cuts to the heart of what Muslim support to AQ has been all about. For the fear mongers in the US,... They are, and have been, wrong.
Perhaps a bit. Both fanatics and the fearful often do get things wrong.
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This has NEVER been about ideology, it has been about oppressed people and the pursuit of liberty. Ideologies are just the tools employed to get there.
In many cases that's true, however, if that's the tool being used, does it not at least mean the ideology is part of the problem? It certainly means that if the ideology is not the issue then it is being used as a catalyst to manipulate people to achieve certain ends which may or may not comport with that ideology.

One can make a valid case the Shah of Iran was a despot. However, his subjects were not so much oppressed as dirt poor and he truly tried a bit to improve their lot. Khomeini and Co. used 'ideology' to depose the Shah -- and replace him with a regime that was and is far more despotic, that killed more people in its first two years of existence than the Shah had in the previous 25. So it's not all about oppression, the ideology is not benign and the change wrought may not be an improvement.

I suspect the truth lies between Falk-like fear mongers on one side and the "Islam wants to kill us all" fear mongers on the other. Fanatics of any stripe and type are best ignored but watched. They tend to take a speck of truth, amplify it beyond all reality to suit their needs and create a lot of confusion. Most do not merit circulation or promotion. Manipulators are similar. Fanatical manipulators are just dangerous. Manipulators of fanatacism doubly so. Why, they can even induce fear in otherwise rational people. Hmmm. That raises a question, do such manipulators merely implant, enhance or abet fear mongering or are they themselves fear mongers?
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Old 01-28-2011   #53
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Default Or is it about the economy?

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It's a think piece alright. Written by a known "America is evil and the problem" guy with a checkered history. Like many articles, it contains some fact, some opinions and some questionable items...Perhaps a bit. Both fanatics and the fearful often do get things wrong.In many cases that's true, however, if that's the tool being used, does it not at least mean the ideology is part of the problem? It certainly means that if the ideology is not the issue then it is being used as a catalyst to manipulate people to achieve certain ends which may or may not comport with that ideology.
It may also be about the economy - see here for another opinion on the source of anger. Politics has a role, but the economic side is also a big factor.

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I suspect the truth lies between Falk-like fear mongers on one side and the "Islam wants to kill us all" fear mongers on the other. Fanatics of any stripe and type are best ignored but watched. They tend to take a speck of truth, amplify it beyond all reality to suit their needs and create a lot of confusion. Most do not merit circulation or promotion. Manipulators are similar. Fanatical manipulators are just dangerous. Manipulators of fanatacism doubly so. Why, they can even induce fear in otherwise rational people. Hmmm. That raises a question, do such manipulators merely implant, enhance or abet fear mongering or are they themselves fear mongers?
I just made the same point over on the Globalization thread... A lot of the hatred is spurred by folks using what is esentially propaganda to gain control. They would invent stuff to be angry about if it didn't really exist... because it gives them power.

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Old 01-28-2011   #54
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That was one of my "I bet nobody else made that connection yet!" moments.
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Old 01-28-2011   #55
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Ken,

"Despotism" has many components, and certainly the perceptions of the governed regarding how one rose to power and how one is sustained in power is nearly as important as is how they feel about how one governs while in power.

The coup we ran in 1953 to take out the democratically selected leader of Iran because he dared to stand up to the British and their rape (robbery?) of the Iranian oil resources is not our finest chapter. The Shah was many things, but he was never legitimate and he was always a "Made in the USA" leader. In hindsight we should have told the Brits to get over it and worked out a relationship with Mosaddegh.

It was a Cold War though, we had a new president, we were deep into a Korean conflict that could have easily became a war with a "newly" enemy China; The French were getting defeated by communists in Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaya were struggling with Communists as well, newly nuclear Russia was flirting with Mosaddegh, and Ken White had just retired for the third time from DoD. It was a bad year, and it seemed like the right thing at the time.

But now it is 2011. The Cold War is long over, though the majority of our governmental and diplomatic framework for waging it remains rusted in place. No longer containing Soviet threats, or even communist ideology threats, it now serves primarily to sustain a family of wealthy despots who don't cut us many special favors (no discount oil for US coming out of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Iraq...), and most have become enabled by such relationships to become even more removed from the concerns of their own citizens.

As the Saudis like to brag, the people have no taxation, so they get no representation. I suspect someday when they are sitting in exile, scraping by on their last Billion once their assets are nationalized, they won't think that is as clever as they do currently.

But the U.S. need not, and should not abandon these governments. Nor should the U.S. use the history of our relationships with these governments ; or the rise of AQ and Islamist ideologies to rationalize not supporting the reasonable demands of these many populaces for moderate reformation of Government. Play this right and we turn down the flame beneath the boiling pot of popular discontent that we call "The War on Terrorism." Play this wrong and we raise it to a whole new level. The allegations of our sins will become cold, hard, current facts, and this could all boil over into a regional/global disaster.

We need to recognize and prioritize the opportunity currently provided by the people of the region. We need to lend stability to these inevitable transitions, to empower and facilitate evolution of government in order to prevent revolution of government. This means a mix of both assuring allies and cautioning/threatening them to be careful in how they respond to their populaces. Similarly to be supportive and cautioning/threatening to these populaces as well in regards to how we support peaceful evolution, self-determination and the principles we proclaim so loudly in our own founding documents; but that we will not stand idly by to outrages on the part of either side.

We also need to be on our guard that AQ will seek to leverage this as well; to attempt to tilt outcomes toward their agenda. I suspect when the music stops that it will be the Islamist terrorist/UW guys who don't have a chair. But that is not a guarantee, and they will seek to prevent that from happening.

This is where the real lesson from Malaya comes to play. If we enable the right governmental reforms, then when the dust settles and the Islamists come in from the cold looking for support, they will find that the populace no longer needs what they are selling and is moving on without them.

We have an opportunity for "Malaya in the Desert," but that will only happen if we can break our Cold War paradigms and find the right balance between stability and change, between governments and populaces, between influence and control.

Given how much play this topic was given in the State of the Union though, I have my concerns...
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Old 01-28-2011   #56
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FP Blog has a good article on the impact of mass media in Tunisia, using the material from Wikileaks:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...g_at_autocrats

This paragraph struck me as having possibly appeared on SWC of late:
Quote:
History is made when the weather suddenly changes -- by deviations from the normal course of events. The challenge for American diplomacy is not to wait for shifts in favor of human rights and democracy before scrambling to appear to support them. It is not to wait until a dictator is half-way out the door before you condemn his abuses, freeze his assets, and demand free elections. It is to promote change in repressive states before it appears inevitable. If you think there is only a 10 percent chance that Egypt's post-Mubarak transition will usher in a government that answers to its people, or that in the next few years the Burmese military junta might compromise with the democratic opposition, or that a popular movement might successfully challenge political repression in Iran, then why not do what you can to help raise the odds to 20 or 30 percent? In foreign policy, as in baseball, .300 is a Hall of Fame average.
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Old 01-28-2011   #57
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The more I think about Tunisia and the more I'm convinced that the real role could be for the EU.

How about this slogan: Let's make Tunisia for EU what Israel is for the USA!

If you think that Gheddafi is asking EU for 5 billion Euros/ year to limit illegal immigration, my reasoning is about to indirectly threaten this deapotic regime with a new political model at his border. Let's not fear the Brotherhood.
Tunisia is not at the center of any geopolitical problem and the reality of government responsability (without the cash of energy reserves) could help in moderating. Sooner or later it has to happen. Better in a little country with strong intercoonections with western europe.
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Old 01-28-2011   #58
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
..certainly the perceptions of the governed regarding how one rose to power and how one is sustained in power is nearly as important as is how they feel about how one governs while in power.
True -- but little to no bearing on my points that "it's not all about oppression, the ideology is not benign and the change wrought may not be an improvement."
Quote:
But now it is 2011. The Cold War is long over, though the majority of our governmental and diplomatic framework for waging it remains rusted in place.
I agree but, again, that has little to do with the facts that ideology is not benign and all 'popular' change is not necessarily for the better...
Quote:
But the U.S. need not, and should not abandon these governments... Play this right and we turn down the flame beneath the boiling pot of popular discontent that we call "The War on Terrorism"...We need to lend stability to these inevitable transitions, to empower and facilitate evolution of government in order to prevent revolution of government. This means a mix of both assuring allies and cautioning/threatening them to be careful in how they respond to their populaces. Similarly to be supportive and cautioning/threatening to these populaces as well in regards to how we support peaceful evolution, self-determination and the principles we proclaim so loudly in our own founding documents; but that we will not stand idly by to outrages on the part of either side.
IOW, we can interfere in the affairs of others and should do so...
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This is where the real lesson from Malaya comes to play. If we enable the right governmental reforms, then when the dust settles and the Islamists come in from the cold looking for support, they will find that the populace no longer needs what they are selling and is moving on without them.
"What is this 'we' stuff, White Man" quoth Tonto to the Lone Stranger?

Yet again you say we must support, encourage, threaten, enable or otherwise stick our oar in -- yet you say 'they' must determine for themselves...

Yet again I say -- you cannot have it both ways.

Either we interfere or we do not. If we do, the results for many reasons will be uncertain and there is no guarantee that the result will be satisfactory in anyone's view. More on this below.
Quote:
We have an opportunity for "Malaya in the Desert," but that will only happen if we can break our Cold War paradigms and find the right balance between stability and change, between governments and populaces, between influence and control.
I respectfully suggest that there is no corollary to Malaya (also again... ) and that while I totally agree the Cold War paradigms must go (long overdue, that...) and finding that balance is desirable, so far all you've done is indicate the two poles:

They determine. But...

We
Quote:
...need to lend stability to these inevitable transitions, to empower and facilitate evolution of government...cautioning/threatening them to be careful in how they respond to their populaces...supportive and cautioning/threatening to these populaces as well in regards to how we support peaceful evolution, self-determination and the principles we proclaim so loudly in our own founding documents; but that we will not stand idly by to outrages on the part of either side.(emphasis added / kw)
Where is this balance of which you speak?

I submit you haven't outlined it because you cannot -- each nation, each upset situation will be different, will require a different blend of reactions and those cannot be predicted due to the vagaries of the nation involved, its people, our political process and the rotation of policy makers in that process. Thus ideologies -- ours and theirs -- have an important bearing on what occurs. It may not be 'about' ideology but you cannot discount the effect of that or them.

Thus, if we enter into the issue in any measure -- and will have to do that for various reasons on occasion -- then we are interfering and we will almost of necessity attempt to influence the outcome and the results are not, can never be, certain. What occurs is that the policy makers of the day have to react to the information available, the circumstances as far as are known and make a decision. It will often, in hindsight, be wrong -- as was emplacing the Shah. Rectification can be messy -- as it was. That rectification may produce a worse situation -- as it did.

You desire to preclude this minor chaos and to codify our responses. Admirable but unlikely. You suggest, in essence a policy, you do not provide strategies.

I agree with your desired policy (as I have always done since you came up on this Board) and I suggest you can provide no strategy due to that varied situation factor and the US political system (as I have always done since you came up on this board).

Thus while I agree with your western enlightenment ideal of what should be done in the somewhat different east I'm forced yet again to suggest that your goal is not totally realistic and that we have never been prone to strictly adhere to "the principles we proclaim so loudly in our own founding document." Nor have we been able to do so for a variety of reasons, some valid, some specious -- all real...

That paragraph should be worth at least two bonus points.
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Old 01-28-2011   #59
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This has NEVER been about ideology, it has been about oppressed people and the pursuit of liberty. Ideologies are just the tools employed to get there. This was true with communism in Africa and Asia post WWII;
Speaking as a member of the jury, when you make a statement like this, it sets off so many "Does not compute! Does not compute!" alarms that everything else you present is lost in the noise.

Communism was a totalitarian ideology that purported to make the human condition better. It wasn't about the pursuit of liberty as everybody who was hanging around at the time could see. It was in competition with other ideologies. In the places where it won, people's lives got really bad, tens of millions maybe over 100 million dead bad. When it wasn't working out so well, the ideological masters didn't rush to change it, they just made the secret police stronger in order to preserve the ideological order. Ideology did matter, a lot.

So counselor, you may want to fine tune your presentation a bit.
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Old 01-28-2011   #60
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Come on Carl.

I am no fan of communism, but name for me please a single country that employed a communist ideology to overthrow, or attempt to overthrow their government that had a government in place that drew its legitimacy from the govern populace and was responsive to their reasonable demands. Just one. And if you find that one, I will find five to match on the other side.

Russia vs the Romanovs?
Maoist China vs the pro-west Nationalists?
French dominated, then US dominated Vietnam?
Batista's Cuba?
British dominated Malaya?
US dominated Philippines?

The simple fact is that in post WWI and post WWII upheavals, communism was an ideology of change that spoke to populaces seeking change.

Fast forward to today, and the post Cold War upheaval. The primary area of the globe where Western colonial and post-colonial interference and influence continues to disrupt local systems of legitimacy is the Sunni dominated region of North Africa and the Middle East. The populaces of these nations have been seeking change for generations and have never been able to achieve they synergy for true change. Communism never really spoke to these populaces (a communist movement was attempted in Saudi Arabia but fell flat in the 60s) but Muslim based ideology works. Much like a Christian based ideology worked in Western Europe to rally the people to throw off the Holy roman empire centuries ago.

Is Protestantism a "benign" ideology? Yes. Did it take down an empire? Equally yes.

Is Communism a "benign" ideology? Yes. Did it reshape Western Colonial control of Asia? Equally yes.

Is Islamism a "benign" ideology? Yes. Will it reshape Western influence over North Africa and the Middle East. Most likely.

The real ideology in all of those places, times and example was the ideology of liberty and self-determination.

I'm sorry if that hurts the feelings of some, but the historic facts can be argued, but they are what they are. The Pied Piper is a fairy tale. A satisfied populace is immune to the most bewitching of ideologies. But a populace with no legal options, trapped in poor governance that often is not of their choosing will often follow even a questionable leader with a shady ideology to achieve liberty.

I put out a piece on Ideology a few years ago:
http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/jou...p/46-jones.pdf

From that article:

Quote:
V. U.S. ideology holds that when government fails insurgency is both the right and the duty of the populace.

The American Declaration of Independence is an amazing document. It is the cornerstone of American government, and forms the core of American Ideology. Many students of insurgency take the position that during the post-WWII insurgencies of the 50’s and 60’s that the U.S. Ideology was one of capitalism versus the ideology of communism used to unite the populaces of those poorly governed nations that rose up to throw off western colonialism.ii During the post Cold War insurgencies of this generation the conflict is characterized as one of democracy versus the fundamentalist Islamism that speaks to the populaces of those poorly governed nations that are currently rising up to throw off the less direct form of western exploitation that replaced colonialism. The fact is, that neither capitalism nor democracy are mentioned directly in either the American Declaration of Independence, or the U.S Constitution.

What makes the Declaration of Independence so amazing is that in such a concise and complete manner, it conveys a message that is universal and timeless. This is a powerful beacon of hope to populaces everywhere, and generations of every time. In this globalized age of shrinking state power, and growing popular power, this message is more than ever not just a relic of America’s noble past, but provides the road map to an even greater future. Consider these tenets contained within this codification of American Ideology:

- Certain rights, to include, but not limited to, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are inalienable (This means that they come from God, not man, and that no government can infringe upon them. This, by the way, is a point that no Islamic fundamentalist can well counter).

- That every populace has both the right and the duty to rise up in insurgency when their government fails, i.e., becomes “despotic” (rights and duties are two of the most powerful concepts in law. A right is an authorization to act that cannot be infringed, and a duty is an order to act that cannot be ignored. The populace not only can revolt, they must).

- That governance is “of, by, and for” the people, and that all populaces are unique in their needs, and will chose the form of government which suits them best (this means that government is subordinate to the populace, and that no power external to that populace has the right to dictate what form that governance will take).

America is uniquely positioned to assume a leadership role on a global scale that is focused not on the governments of the world, but on their populaces. America has the strength of resources and the proper ideology to not control the world, but rather to shape its development. By empowering populaces everywhere with the ideology contained in our Declaration of Independence, and by using our strength and wealth to facilitate good governance on their terms, we stand an excellent chance of becoming not the heavy handed nation that others see us as, but rather as that noble nation we see in ourselves.
What is going on across North Africa today is a good thing. Whether or not it is a good thing for the US will depend upon how we react. If we react IAW our own ideology and principles as a nation, it will be a good thing for us as well
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