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Old 01-02-2008   #1
Surferbeetle
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Cool Klein's Shock Doctrine

Ran across this: http://www.povertyinitiative.org/res...Capitalism.pdf
on John Robb's Global Guerrillas Blog ( http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/ )

It resonates....
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Old 01-02-2008   #2
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OK, I'll read it, but it was written by Naomi Klein, - No Logo- therefore I am really going to struggle to take it seriously. She has always struck me that she writes to promote herself, and thus writes to impress, not to inform.
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Old 01-02-2008   #3
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Read part of this during some downtime on the train from D.C. Not impressed - neocon-style single-issue demonization from a New Left perspective, in this case the "Washington consensus" neoliberal economic policies emphasized during the Clinton years. While I agree with some of the damage assessment, Klein goes way too far along the way. Like Robert Kaplan, she has done some decent globetrotting but generally sees only what she wants to see.
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Old 01-02-2008   #4
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Reading the opening paragraphs, I was struck by a similarity to Edgar Allan Poe's story, "The Masque of the Red Death." Extrapolate from that comment anyway you choose. But, please remember that Poe wrote fiction.
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Old 01-02-2008   #5
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Default I met Klein

at a Latin America Symposium we did last year at the U of OK. My colleague, retired Ambassador Ed Corr, and I were totally underwhelmed. She played fast and loose with facts which misinformed her already questionable analysis.

When this post came up, I started to read the referenced article, and mentally noted that this was where I had come in. Still, I was intrigued so I looked her up trying to get a good bio. Unfortunately, none of the bios I Googled were able to suggest what, if any, formal jounalism training she had. Indeed, none of them were able to enlighten me regarding anything about her formal education. I now know she was a teen aged mall rat, interested in clothes. I know about her family background in radical politics. But I still know nothing about her schooling. I assume that she graduated from high school in Montreal but there is no such indication in her bios. Did she ever attend university (as they say in Canada)? Dunno. Although a college education is hardly necessary for "greatness" (witness Harry Truman and Barry Goldwater), it does provide some basic education in rigorous analysis and the proper use of facts.

Do any of our Canadians know any more about her/this? What say you Marc, Rex, et. al.?

Happy New Year!

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Old 01-02-2008   #6
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Do any of our Canadians know any more about her/this? What say you Marc, Rex, et. al.?
There's a fairly informative bio here.
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Old 01-02-2008   #7
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Default And how was she educated?

Thanks Rex. Still, my question remains. There is no indication in this bio, any other that I have seen, or the article was to how and where she was educated. The experiments noted in the article as providing the basis for modern torture techniques are almost laughable (in the connection made by Klein). These techniques are as old as torture itself - kind of like waterboarding (see Malcom Nance's comments on that subject).

I sure would feel a lot better about her reportorial skills and ethics if I knew she had been trained well and acttually applied her training. From what I can gather, however, she has no training and desires none.

Cheers

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Old 01-02-2008   #8
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Apparently she was "educated" at the University of Toronto. A brief bio can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naomi_Klein

She appears to be yet another activist with a high school grasp of economics. But I'll grant, her conspiracy theory (The Shock Doctrine) seems to be better thought out (i.e. more entertaining) than most.
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Old 01-02-2008   #9
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She used to have a column in the Globe and Mail, maybe still does; she still appears there from time to time. Her principal credentials appear to be her family and social background; she is married into one of the great political families of the country, and to a prominent CBC reporter and journalist at that. Think of her as a sort of Canadian Naomi Wolf, for much the same sorts of reasons.

While I do agree with her on some aspects of economics and globalization, her journalism is in no way professional, even by the standards of our day. Gave her the benefit of the doubt at first, but I have since stopped reading her columns years ago. Fluff.
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Old 01-03-2008   #10
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I "read" the book (actually ... an MP3 audiobook) about a month ago.


Klein's thesis is that crisis is intentionally triggered in a country to implement Neo-Liberal economic policies (later known as the Washington Consensus.)


While the merits of Neo-Liberal economics is disputable, there are many more examples of the implementation of these economic policies without a crisis taking place. Moreover, one of the countries that she cites is China after the Tienamen Square incident. China's economy is a hybrid of Neo-Liberal and Keynesian-like economic theories and doesn't fully adhere to the "Washington Consensus."


The best explanation to the change of a countries economy after a crisis or disaster is that the economy is the primary focus by a country's citizenry to recover from a disaster or crisis ... hence the famous quote, "It's the economy stupid."

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Old 01-03-2008   #11
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Default Thanks John

I had read the Wikipedia bio but missed the U of Toronto ref. Must have been the virus I've been battling this past week. Since she never notes it in her bios, I wonder if she ever graduated.

I'm not sure what the relevance is but her sister is on the faculty here at the U of Oklahoma. I don't recall whether the sister is in the social sciences, history, or foreign language but not in Pol Sci.

Cheers

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Old 01-06-2008   #12
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Originally Posted by Firestaller View Post
I "read" the book (actually ... an MP3 audiobook) about a month ago.


Klein's thesis is that crisis is intentionally triggered in a country to implement Neo-Liberal economic policies (later known as the Washington Consensus.)


While the merits of Neo-Liberal economics is disputable, there are many more examples of the implementation of these economic policies without a crisis taking place. Moreover, one of the countries that she cites is China after the Tienamen Square incident. China's economy is a hybrid of Neo-Liberal and Keynesian-like economic theories and doesn't fully adhere to the "Washington Consensus."

The best explanation to the change of a countries economy after a crisis or disaster is that the economy is the primary focus by a country's citizenry to recover from a disaster or crisis ... hence the famous quote, "It's the economy stupid."
i think this is bit dishonest to Klein and makes her seem analysis seem more conspiratorial than it is. She doesn't say that crisis is intentionally triggered but that the crisis is used as the opening to push through neo-liberal economic policies. she does talk about the shock of coercion to enforce neo-liberalism, though, but i think is different that "intentionally triggering a crisis."

she is more polemical than rigorous, though, that is pretty clear and it the enduring problem among many on "the left." You are right to say that China's "market stalinism" isn't the greatest example, either.

also the merits of neo-liberal economics are very disputable, just like any body of ideas. If you put something outside of the realms of debate in some privileged untouchable category, then you an extremist plan and simple. Free-market extremists are as delusional and dangerous as religious extremists.

remember: when politics permeates the totality of society, we call it totalitarianism; when religion permeates the totality of society, we call it theocracy; when market relations permeate the totality of society, we call it freedom? I think, we should call it fascism. Let us not forget Mussolini's famous quote "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." What is the privatization frenzy if not this?
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Old 01-06-2008   #13
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Default Extremists of any type are

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...
Free-market extremists are as delusional and dangerous as religious extremists.

remember: when politics permeates the totality of society, we call it totalitarianism; when religion permeates the totality of society, we call it theocracy; when market relations permeate the totality of society, we call it freedom? I think, we should call it fascism. Let us not forget Mussolini's famous quote "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." What is the privatization frenzy if not this?
delusioned and dangerous -- which is why most people ignore them but prudent folks keep a jaundiced eye on them.

Unrestrained capitalism is dangerous, excessive government intervention is dangerous. Most people intuitively understand that. The difficulty is in finding the correct balance when confronted with a constantly shifting beam in shape and size and a moving fulcrum. No nation has done that well -- though we did fairly well before we started aping Europe and became over regulated (in some senses and in some areas, usually the wrong areas...).

Fascism is a much misused and overused word.

Not that much of this thread including this post of mine has a lot to do with warfare or small wars...
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Old 01-07-2008   #14
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Ken, I see you're point on the balance between government and intervention. The thing is, though, that capitalism needs to do more than continue to meet the needs of the middle classes in the advanced industrial world. we have all the crap we need! instead manufacturing needs and pursuing a cynical model of globalization, which all to often is a race to the bottom, business needs to take a risk, invest some money and try to meet the very real needs the developing world. i think benjamin barber on the bill moyers journal talks about this a lot more intelligently than i can and you can check that out here:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/12.../profile3.html

Fascism maybe overused but I also think people need to incorporate a critique of authoritarian forms. You can't have true democracy when the economy is run by authoritarian structures like TNCs. You can have a plutocracy but i don't think that is value anyone should spill blood for. i should have said plutocracy instead of fascism in my first post becuase its much more accurate and less polemical.

i do think this conversation is very central to "small wars" becuase "winning the hearts and minds" often comes down to who can deliver the economic services people need to live a decent and equitable life. i feel an exclusive focus on the military aspects can leave this out and, then, all the bullets in the world can't delay inevitability.

I still think, instead of dumping endless money into a needless invasion in Iraq, we should have put diplomatic pressure on regimes like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and done "civic action" or peace corp type programs to make life less desperate for the people in the margins, whom, i feel, are legitimately attracted to extremist ideologies becuase they have few other options. For a fraction of the cost of the invading Iraq we could have provided clean drinking water, medical treatment and other humanitarian efforts which, beyond the shadow of a doubt, would have done more to win "the war on terror" than unilaterally invading a secular, quasi-socialist authoritarian state, which had no love for Islamic radicalism nor any connection to 9-11.

Klein's polemics aside, I think here is where the shock docterine can be important: to make clear the overlaps between "small wars" and ultra-right economics. if "small wars" can defeat extremist movements and help create liberal democracies they can't be used to push certain political agendas. her anaylsis isn't perfect but no one's is. she deserves some credit for undertaking an ambitious argument that few people would even attempt to undertake.
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Old 01-07-2008   #15
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Originally Posted by relative autonomy View Post
Ken, I see you're point on the balance between government and intervention. The thing is, though, that capitalism needs to do more than continue to meet the needs of the middle classes in the advanced industrial world. we have all the crap we need! instead manufacturing needs and pursuing a cynical model of globalization, which all to often is a race to the bottom, business needs to take a risk, invest some money and try to meet the very real needs the developing world. i think benjamin barber on the bill moyers journal talks about this a lot more intelligently than i can and you can check that out here:
Capitalism does do more than that, though not to the extent Barber and you want -- I doubt that it will ever do that. Nor, I would add, are a lot of government attempts to force it to do so likely to have much effect. Neither do I think it necessary; most of the world will do alright if only provided a level playing field; capitalism per se rarely denies that to anywhere near the extent that politicians do (see subsidies, tariffs, et,al.)

Quote:
Fascism maybe overused but I also think people need to incorporate a critique of authoritarian forms...
Possibly true but valid critiques will not focus on one aspect but will fairly critique all authoritarian forms -- to include rampant socialism which has proven to be ineffective, as authoritarian as fascism and more pernicious as it is couched in idealistic terms (see Klein, N.)

Quote:
You can't have true democracy when the economy is run by authoritarian structures like TNCs. You can have a plutocracy but i don't think that is value anyone should spill blood for. i should have said plutocracy instead of fascism in my first post becuase its much more accurate and less polemical.
What is a value that anyone should spill blood for?

The economy, world type, is not run by TNCs but by their owners and investors. I'm one. I assure you I'm not a plutocrat.

Quote:
i do think this conversation is very central to "small wars" becuase "winning the hearts and minds" often comes down to who can deliver the economic services people need to live a decent and equitable life. i feel an exclusive focus on the military aspects can leave this out and, then, all the bullets in the world can't delay inevitability.
Starting at the end and working backwards, who is using an exclusively military focus?

"Hearts and Minds" is a myth, a dangerous myth. It presumes (in the worst sense of the word) to know what others want or need, then to deliver it and thus to convert them into mini clones of the presumer. Fatal fallacy. No foreign power is ever going to win the heart or mind of anyone in any real sense. People will do what is perceived to be in the interest of themselves and, in many societies of their family, clan or tribe. Only the people can determine what those interests are and while they will take what is freely offered that they want or can use, they will utterly reject giving anyone their heart or mind. They will assert their independence in various ways -- as well they should. That's what is inevitable.

Hearts and minds is pure bunkum, sold by snake oil salesmen who believe all people are innately good and will behave just as said salesmen behave (or want others to behave...). People are not innately good nor are they all equal in any sense. Michael Jordan plays basketball several orders of magnitude better than I ever could. Of all the people in the world, about half are good ranging to great and the remainder are poor ranging to dangerously bad. Kant may have had some things wrong (as is true with all of us) but he had the selfish and own interest parts right. There are a lot of evil folks out there and most will take an idealistic thought and parlay it to their advantage and then slit your throat.

Quote:
I still think, instead of dumping endless money into a needless invasion in Iraq...
Money supply isn't endless. As for needless, that is at least arguable. There were admittedly other ways to do what was done (shake up the ME in an attempt to speed up the inevitable from five or six generations -- or even more -- to just two or three) and the invasion was admittedly a calculated risk. Whether it achieves the goal is to be determined.

Quote:
...we should have put diplomatic pressure on regimes like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia...
What do you think we've been doing to both those nations since the 1950s? Didn't get much traction, did it.

Quote:
...and done "civic action" or peace corp type programs to make life less desperate for the people in the margins...
Civic action is somewhat overrated but in any event, it takes the willing acceptance of the sovereign nation of your program to be effective. Lacking that acceptance and a massive program, the probability of any success is slim. The Peace Corps is a mixed bag, it has many dedicated volunteers who do good stuff. It also has really, overall, been only marginally effective. In any event, if you think either nation would have accepted a lot of Americans in their country to 'help' them, you don't understand the pride and sovereignty factor. If you think hiring local contractors or funneling money to the local government to do the job in lieu of sending Americans, you don't understand the local mores on skimming money from gullible fools while doing no or little work -- and that sub standard.

Quote:
... whom, i feel, are legitimately attracted to extremist ideologies becuase they have few other options...
True but do not buy the myth that those disaffected are the poor and downtrodden. Those folks are too busy staying alive to indulge in revolutionary foolishness. The disaffected who do engage are predominately educated and at least moderately well off and imbued with radical fervor because the society from which they come irritates them to some degree and / or cannot productively employ them.

Quote:
For a fraction of the cost of the invading Iraq we could have provided clean drinking water, medical treatment and other humanitarian efforts which, beyond the shadow of a doubt, would have done more to win "the war on terror" than unilaterally invading a secular, quasi-socialist authoritarian state, which had no love for Islamic radicalism nor any connection to 9-11.
Clean drinking water and medical treatment where?

The "secular, quasi-socialist authoritarian state, which had no love for Islamic radicalism nor any connection to 9-11." also had the misfortune of possessing an unloved dictator, pariah status, a largely ineffective military and, most importantly, geographic centrality in the Middle East. Tough but them's the breaks in the real world

Quote:
Klein's polemics aside, I think here is where the shock docterine can be important: to make clear the overlaps between "small wars" and ultra-right economics. if "small wars" can defeat extremist movements and help create liberal democracies they can't be used to push certain political agendas. her anaylsis isn't perfect but no one's is. she deserves some credit for undertaking an ambitious argument that few people would even attempt to undertake.
We can disagree on most of that with agreement on the word "help" -- war cannot do that, this one can open a window for that to occur, no more. That's all we've done.
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Old 01-09-2008   #16
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Capitalism does do more than that, though not to the extent Barber and you want -- I doubt that it will ever do that. Nor, I would add, are a lot of government attempts to force it to do so likely to have much effect. Neither do I think it necessary; most of the world will do alright if only provided a level playing field; capitalism per se rarely denies that to anywhere near the extent that politicians do (see subsidies, tariffs, et,al.)



Possibly true but valid critiques will not focus on one aspect but will fairly critique all authoritarian forms -- to include rampant socialism which has proven to be ineffective, as authoritarian as fascism and more pernicious as it is couched in idealistic terms (see Klein, N.)



What is a value that anyone should spill blood for?

The economy, world type, is not run by TNCs but by their owners and investors. I'm one. I assure you I'm not a plutocrat.



Starting at the end and working backwards, who is using an exclusively military focus?

"Hearts and Minds" is a myth, a dangerous myth. It presumes (in the worst sense of the word) to know what others want or need, then to deliver it and thus to convert them into mini clones of the presumer. Fatal fallacy. No foreign power is ever going to win the heart or mind of anyone in any real sense. People will do what is perceived to be in the interest of themselves and, in many societies of their family, clan or tribe. Only the people can determine what those interests are and while they will take what is freely offered that they want or can use, they will utterly reject giving anyone their heart or mind. They will assert their independence in various ways -- as well they should. That's what is inevitable.

Hearts and minds is pure bunkum, sold by snake oil salesmen who believe all people are innately good and will behave just as said salesmen behave (or want others to behave...). People are not innately good nor are they all equal in any sense. Michael Jordan plays basketball several orders of magnitude better than I ever could. Of all the people in the world, about half are good ranging to great and the remainder are poor ranging to dangerously bad. Kant may have had some things wrong (as is true with all of us) but he had the selfish and own interest parts right. There are a lot of evil folks out there and most will take an idealistic thought and parlay it to their advantage and then slit your throat.



Money supply isn't endless. As for needless, that is at least arguable. There were admittedly other ways to do what was done (shake up the ME in an attempt to speed up the inevitable from five or six generations -- or even more -- to just two or three) and the invasion was admittedly a calculated risk. Whether it achieves the goal is to be determined.



What do you think we've been doing to both those nations since the 1950s? Didn't get much traction, did it.



Civic action is somewhat overrated but in any event, it takes the willing acceptance of the sovereign nation of your program to be effective. Lacking that acceptance and a massive program, the probability of any success is slim. The Peace Corps is a mixed bag, it has many dedicated volunteers who do good stuff. It also has really, overall, been only marginally effective. In any event, if you think either nation would have accepted a lot of Americans in their country to 'help' them, you don't understand the pride and sovereignty factor. If you think hiring local contractors or funneling money to the local government to do the job in lieu of sending Americans, you don't understand the local mores on skimming money from gullible fools while doing no or little work -- and that sub standard.



True but do not buy the myth that those disaffected are the poor and downtrodden. Those folks are too busy staying alive to indulge in revolutionary foolishness. The disaffected who do engage are predominately educated and at least moderately well off and imbued with radical fervor because the society from which they come irritates them to some degree and / or cannot productively employ them.



Clean drinking water and medical treatment where?

The "secular, quasi-socialist authoritarian state, which had no love for Islamic radicalism nor any connection to 9-11." also had the misfortune of possessing an unloved dictator, pariah status, a largely ineffective military and, most importantly, geographic centrality in the Middle East. Tough but them's the breaks in the real world



We can disagree on most of that with agreement on the word "help" -- war cannot do that, this one can open a window for that to occur, no more. That's all we've done.
I understand your points. I'm not going to respond on economics because i think its pretty clear neither of us are going to convince the other. The only thing i will say is that there is a big difference between an you everyday investor and someone with a controlling share. everyday investors can send in their proxy statements and it doesn't mean much. investors with controlling shares set policy.

As for critiquing authoritarian forms, i don't really understand you point. I never said the only authoritarian forms that needed to be critiqued exist in the economy so i am not sure what you are getting at.

You point about hearts and minds is basically the problem of culture. if that's your position i don't understand how you can justify a the US invading any country that isn't western Christian nation. Culturally and historically, when the US intervenes in a formerly colonized nation with a different religion it is more likely than not to be understood as imperialism, plain and simple.

The leaders of Al Queda maybe educated but i bet the people doing the grunt work are the downtrodden Afghans, Iraqis and whomever duped into dying for one of the few organizations that they see as culturally relevant and anti-imperialist. If i was Afghani or Iraqi, I would be fighting the Americans too, any patriot would.

Toe the Bush Administration line on Iraq if that makes you feel better but that doesn't change the fact that intelligence was manipulated and the country was duped into supporting an invasion for reasons that turned out to be lies. There are no WMDs in Iraq. No one can say otherwise. When that reason was exposed as a total lie and lost all viability, all of sudden it became about democracy. If we were interested in democracy in Iraq, Saddam wouldn't have been on CIA payroll killing democratic socialists, liberal democrats, and like from '58-'68. The US helped the Baath party come to power becuase they were anti-soviet. The US gave the Saddam regime weapons throughout the Iran-Iraq war. People tend to conveniently forget that history. If you think this war is really about making Iraq a democracy, i feel sorry for you. This is were I think its important to consider Klein's argument, especially in light of the reforms Bremer pushed through.

As for the US policy toward Saudi Arabia and Pakistan since 1950, it hasbeen a lot more complicated than that your one sentence suggests. I know more about Pakistan so I will talk about that. The US supported Pakistan immediately after the partition of the Raj becuase they saw it as a necessary anti-soviet bulkhead. The US had complex relationship with Pakistan various military dictators (Khan, Yahya, Zia and now Musharraf). In all cases pressures for democratization were undercut by the imperial demands of the cold war/war on terror. The case of Pakistan's civil war with what became Bangladesh's is instructive. The US didn't put pressure on Zia to end the war until Zia helped the Nixon administration engineer their diplomatic reapproachment with China. If you don't believe me see: Pakistan's Foreign Policy: A Reappraisal by Shahid M. Amin

Back to Klein shock docterine, i think her work is important becuase it addresses the larger context that "small wars" are fought in. If all a "small war" can do is open political opening that could lead to anything from civil war and ethnic cleansing to liberal democracy and rebirth, then, i am not sure if they even worth fighting, especially, as in the case of Iraq, there were many chances to realize a democracy that were dashed by the cynical hands of foreign meddling.
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Old 01-09-2008   #17
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...As for critiquing authoritarian forms, i don't really understand you point. I never said the only authoritarian forms that needed to be critiqued exist in the economy so i am not sure what you are getting at.
You said, earlier "Fascism maybe overused but I also think people need to incorporate a critique of authoritarian forms...". My comment is that Socialism is as dangerous as Fascism and deserves just as much criticism. If you want credibility as a basher, bash fairly and equitably.
Quote:
You point about hearts and minds is basically the problem of culture. if that's your position i don't understand how you can justify a the US invading any country that isn't western Christian nation. Culturally and historically, when the US intervenes in a formerly colonized nation with a different religion it is more likely than not to be understood as imperialism, plain and simple.
True, though I fail to see how what I said justifies invading any western christian nation. My point was that the "hearts and minds" gig is stupid myth and you aren't going to win anyone's heart or mind invading them. The phrase needs to disappear.
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Toe the Bush Administration line on Iraq if that makes you feel better but that doesn't change the fact that intelligence was manipulated and the country was duped into supporting an invasion for reasons that turned out to be lies ... If you think this war is really about making Iraq a democracy, i feel sorry for you. This is were I think its important to consider Klein's argument, especially in light of the reforms Bremer pushed through.
Heh. I'm not toeing the Bush line on Iraq but you sure do have all the standard talking points on the issue down pat. Some are correct, some not -- all are irrelevant. I did not say this war was about making Iraq a democracy, BTW -- I did say ""The "secular, quasi-socialist authoritarian state, which had no love for Islamic radicalism nor any connection to 9-11. also had the misfortune of possessing an unloved dictator, pariah status, a largely ineffective military and, most importantly, geographic centrality in the Middle East."" Adding with 'minimal disruption of world oil flow because we really want China and India to have all the oil they need' and those are the real reasons Iraq was selected; it was the vehicle for the goal -- which was to shake up the ME big time and let them know we were no longer going to fail to respond to provocations as we had for the previous 20 plus years. No governmental form concerned or mentioned, we couldn't care less as long as they behave and leave us alone. Tough but them's the breaks in the real world.

We don't really care what form of government they use. You should pay less attention to political rhetoric from either side -- pols lie constantly --and more to what actually happens...
Quote:
As for the US policy toward Saudi Arabia and Pakistan since 1950, it hasbeen a lot more complicated than that your one sentence suggests.
Of course it's more complicated that that -- just as the invasion of Iraq is far more complex than your sophomoric and polemical talking points above.
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Back to Klein shock docterine, i think her work is important...
We can continue to disagree on that.
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Old 01-09-2008   #18
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Default Hearts and minds....

Ken,

I always enjoy reading your posts, references, and reflecting upon your well argued point of view. I think that we can agree that the greatness of our constitution, nation, and way of life is worth fighting and dying for.

I posted Klein’s Shock Doctrine to hopefully generate some discussion on how we approach the populace in our operations, Small Wars or otherwise.

As a result of the combination of Capitalism and our Constitution we Americans are able to enjoy an unprecedented way of life as compared to the historical record. Capitalism is the most efficient way that I am aware of to fully engage a population and realize it’s potential. The 2006 US GDP was in the neighborhood of 13 trillion dollars ( http://www.bea.gov/ ) for a population of approximately 300 million people ( http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html ). Americans enjoy an amazing amount of freedom as a result of our constitution and bill of rights (http://www.archives.gov/national-arc...stitution.html ).

It is my observation that many countries that I have had the opportunity to visit, Iraq in particular, are not as fortunate as America. The 2006 Iraqi GDP was approximately 87.9 billion dollars for a population of approximately 27 million people ( https://www.cia.gov/library/publicat.../print/iz.html ). Iraq’s constitution ( www.export.gov/iraq/pdf/iraqi_constitution.pdf ) is currently only a piece of paper with no soul and it does not inspire or sustain it’s people. I think part of the failure of the Iraqi Constitution has to do with the ME outlook that the Koran, and the associated Sharia Law, has divine origin whereas mans laws made in the absence of this guidance are suspect.

I would argue that the people of any country are an essential center of gravity which needs to be addressed in operations which involve the country; these include military, economic, and political. When it comes to strictly military operations kinetic skill is paramount. Winners understand this and losers do not. Small Wars however, are not limited to strictly military operations and thus it is vital that a functional and effective strategy is crafted which successfully engages the populace of a country. We are still trying to implement a succesful one in Iraq.

I will attempt to address this further in a future post.

Steve
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Old 01-09-2008   #19
J Wolfsberger
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It sometimes seems as though discussion boils down to kinetic ops OR population centered ops. The reality is, it takes both in situations such as Iraq and Afghanistan. What I would argue is the strategy must center on the population; that the strategic goal should be development of a viable, self -sustaining state (a political entity); and that can only be accomplished as an outgrowth of the culture of the indigenous nation(s) (social entities). The role of armed forces and kinetic operations is creation of an environment where rule of law can be established, allowing people to freely determine their own political and economic fates. That involves security operations (patrolling neighborhoods), support (training police and, military), and occasionally highly kinetic ops (pitched battles against large groups of insurgents).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
As a result of the combination of Capitalism and our Constitution we Americans are able an unprecedented way of life as compared to the historical record. Capitalism is the most efficient way that I am aware of to fully engage a population and realize itís potential. The 2006 US GDP was in the neighborhood of 13 trillion dollars ( http://www.bea.gov/ ) for a population of approximately 300 million people ( http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html ). Americans enjoy an amazing amount of freedom as a result of our constitution and bill of rights (http://www.archives.gov/national-arc...stitution.html ).
Capitalism, free trade, private property, all protected by rule of law. Incidentally, it would be well for everyone to remember that our first shot at forming a national government was the Articles of Confederation - adopted in 1977, ratified in 1781. It was universally regarded a failure, which led to the Constitution, 1788. That's an eleven year span. Demanding the Iraqis do (or criticizing them for not doing) the same in a bit over four years is ... inappropriate.

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Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
It is my observation that many countries that I have had the opportunity to visit, Iraq in particular, are not as fortunate as America.
One outcome of the Twentieth Century is that socialism, in any form was completely discredited. (Before the fur starts flying, I said "discredited" not "abandoned.") Whether Communism (Soviet Union, PRC, N. Korea, Cuba), Nazism (Germany), Fascism (Italy and Spain), Third Way (Sweden), or the mild form the US is drifting around, national economies performed in inverse proportion to the degree they embraced socialism. (An interesting bone of contention between Ireland and the rest of the EU has been Ireland's performance after throwing off a lot of its socialist economic policies. The result was embarrassing - to the EU.) It was this, not good fortune, that has clobbered so many countries. I am leaving out states such as Zimbabwe, Zaire under Mobutu and Iraq under Hussein. These were kleptocracies. The only reason they use the term like "socialist" in their official names is so western "intelligentsia" will give them a pass.

Which, I think, is what Ms. Klein is guilty of. Any reading of history shows numerous examples of strong nations enforcing their will on weaker ones at the point of a gun. Colonialism involved more than imposition of will, it involved dominance. That history phased out after WW II. To present one example, it was certainly the intent of the French in Indochina. It was certainlly not the goal of the US in Indochina.

What Ms. Klein refers to as "Neo-Colonialism" seems to involve "cultural dominance." And while it is clear to her, it is unclear to me whether any such thing exists. If the term has any useful meaning, it has to involve more than the purchase of Britney Spears or Michael Jackson CDs. (Which, in any event, are not what I would hold up as an example of culture. )

I only read summaries of her positions, but they seem to define "Neo-Colonialism" as the "export" of ... capitalism, free trade, private property, all protected by rule of law. I.e. everything that led to our good fortune. And that is the reason I referred, in a previous post, to her "high school grasp of economics." I would add, her knowledge of history and understanding of social structure seem equally deficient.

(As an aside, in the 1970's I took a course in International Relations. I got hammered in discussions for asserting:

1. The Soviet Union was attempting to maintain a First World military with a Third World economy.

2. They couldn't sell enough raw materials (oil, etc.) to make up the deficiency.

3. Their economy would would collapse under the strain, sooner rather than later.

4. As a state, the USSR would probably dissolve before the end of century.

I was told I clearly didn't understand the nature and structure of socialist states. In hindsight, I think it's clear somebody didn't. )
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Old 01-09-2008   #20
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Surferbeetle said:
Quote:
..."I would argue that the people of any country are an essential center of gravity which needs to be addressed in operations which involve the country; these include military, economic, and political. When it comes to strictly military operations kinetic skill is paramount. Winners understand this and losers do not. Small Wars however, are not limited to strictly military operations and thus it is vital that a functional and effective strategy is crafted which successfully engages the populace of a country. We are still trying to implement a succesful one in Iraq.
I totally agree. I would only argue that said 'addressing' should be undertaken BEFORE commitment and should include the views of many to include regionally knowledgable people outside government and that the assessment of what is entailed be considered with as much objectivity as possible. That would include, IMO, the fact that "winning hearts and minds" is generally unlikely and that attempts to do so without pragmatic consideration of probabilities make the phrase, like 'achieving total victory,' a construct that in this day should be avoided lest it produce a deluded sense of what is likely to occur. Words, as they say, are important. Expectations should be realistic and the "gee, wouldn't it be nice if..." ideas should be realized for what they all too frequently are -- unattainable.

The goal should be a satisfactory outcome and that can be obtained in most circumstances as long as we don't pursue the old chimeras.

That is true and appears at this time to be on the way with respect to Iraq even though we erred on many counts early on. I'm personally impressed with the speed and agility with which we have reoriented. Terribly slow to many, I know but for anyone who knows the beast, pretty rapid recalculation and good effort.

Look forward to your post.

J Wolfsberger said:
Quote:
...That's an eleven year span. Demanding the Iraqis do (or criticizing them for not doing) the same in a bit over four years is ... inappropriate.
Well and politely said. Posting rules would have allowed me to echo your statement while precluding the first word that pops into my mind every time I see that inappropriate impatience expressed. I always get particularly dismissive when Iraq is compared to "WWII only took us four years..."
Quote:
What Ms. Klein refers to as "Neo-Colonialism" seems to involve "cultural dominance." And while it is clear to her, it is unclear to me whether any such thing exists.
Just so...
Quote:
"(...I was told I clearly didn't understand the nature and structure of socialist states. In hindsight, I think it's clear somebody didn't. )
Heh. Aren't 'true believers' a fascinating sub species...
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