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Old 01-25-2010   #41
Tom Kratman
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Was progress being made? Certainly everything I had heard said that it was, albeit very slowly (which, BTW, I consider to be quite promising ). I hope that progress in Haiti can continue to be made.

Cheers,

Marc
Marc:

Progress? Hmmm.

It has been said that one should never underestimate the ability of an armed force to make a bad idea seem good through sheer weight of effort and duplicity practiced on an heroic scale. I can't think of any reason to believe the armed forces are unique in this.

Do we have any reason to believe that the people reporting progress weren't cherry picking? Or that their information gatherers weren't "finding" the information their superiors most wanted to be found? Perhaps even massaging it a bit, here and there? Or that they didn't, humanly and understandably, turn away from indicators that they were failing?

I mean, can you imagine the following TV ad, replete with pictures of starving children: "Hi, I represent Save the Children. We want your money and we want it even though the majority of what you give us will be siphoned off by kleptocrats and the little that remains will do no good whatsoever except to ensure that there will be a few more children starving in ten years than there are today. Trust us; you'll feel better after you write that check."

Nah.

So color me skeptical that there has been any real progress in places where the objective realities say there ought not be and where sundry NGOs stand to make a fair chunk of change from disseminating that there has been progress.

To go back to Haiti, for example, is there any evidence that the average age for beginning sexual activity has gone up from 12 to, oh, I dunno, maybe 12 and a half? That would be real, grassroots progress, and on a truly key matter affecting the long term prospects of the place. Don't think it happened. Have the police and bureaucrats become more honest? Can't imagine how they'd measure that one. "Ah, oui, monsieur; I have reduced my schedule of bribes by 43% under the influence of your wonderful NGO/MTT/the bribes your organization paid me." We've had evidence here (the police taking off at 16:30 while the looters did not) that the police are fundamentally indifferent to meeting their core function. What's that say about them? And what does what it says about them say about the rest of the society? How, indeed, do we measure that they became more self-reliant? Why would we expect it when they're under the influence of organizations for whom it would be corporate death if they ever actually became self-reliant?

There's another old Army saying: All the really measureable things aren't very important and all the really important things aren't very measureable. I think it's true.

There is an analogy I've had cause to use from time to time on the subject. Imagine a jungle, the real triple canopy deal. Almost nothing grows at ground level except very large trees. Those trees have been there a long time. Their branches are intergrown and intertwined. What happens when you cut a tree down at the base? Nothing soon, because it is held up by the others with which it has intertwined. Okay, but imagine you have somehow gotten rid of the tree; what happens? Another one grows in about the same spot and, under the influence of the other trees, to about the same shape as the previous one. In short, you can't change the jungle piecemeal; rather, you must raze a very large section of it and, even then, there are objective factors - soil, sun, rain, terrain - that made it a jungle in the first place and about which you can do precisely nothing. And the moment you stop cutting, the jungle begins its return.

By comparison, human societies are much more complex than mere jungles, and much harder to change. Moreover, while the jungle is non-sentient - the trees will not actively and cleverly thwart you - the people who make up societies, and are doing fairly well in their own, are sentient and will thwart you.
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Old 01-25-2010   #42
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Default No, I looked far enough ...

and actually managed to read Article 94 and its commentary:

Here's the full explanation:

Quote:
(3) Failure to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition. “Utmost” means taking those measures to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition which may properly be called for by the circumstances, including the rank, responsibilities, or employment of the person concerned. “Utmost” includes the use of such force, including deadly force, as may be reasonably necessary under the circumstances to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition.
and the sample specification:

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(4) Failure to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition.
In that ____ (personal jurisdiction data), did, (at/on board—location) (subject-matter jurisdiction data, if required), on or about ____ 20__ , fail to do his/her utmost to prevent and suppress a (mutiny) (sedition) among the (soldiers) (sailors) (airmen) (marines) (___ ) of ____, which (mutiny) (sedition) was being committed in his/her presence, in that (he/she took no means to compel the dispersal of the assembly) (he / she made no effort to assist _____ who was attempting to quell the mutiny) ( ).
The key words "prevent and suppress" do not deal with time period after the mutineers' surrender. At that point, the mutiny has been suppressed or quelled - and the mutineers are prisoners.

----------------------------
Labaan has a good point about tribes.

Regards

Mike
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Old 01-25-2010   #43
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Hi Tom,

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Do we have any reason to believe that the people reporting progress weren't cherry picking? Or that their information gatherers weren't "finding" the information their superiors most wanted to be found? Perhaps even massaging it a bit, here and there? Or that they didn't, humanly and understandably, turn away from indicators that they were failing?
As far as conditions in haiti were concerned, I was relying not only on "official" reports, which are frequently subject to judicious "editing" but, rather, on reports from a number friends and ex-students who are Haitian and let me know what's happening with their family and friends back there.

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I mean, can you imagine the following TV ad, replete with pictures of starving children: "Hi, I represent Save the Children. We want your money and we want it even though the majority of what you give us will be siphoned off by kleptocrats and the little that remains will do no good whatsoever except to ensure that there will be a few more children starving in ten years than there are today. Trust us; you'll feel better after you write that check."
Truth in advertising never plays well with moral entrepreneurs . How about the following ad

Quote:
[pan shot off students lined up in front of the unemployment office; voice of narrator]
One of the greatest problems our society has today is the shortage of work for deserving graduates with MA's in Social Work. Won't you help these poor, disadvantaged children to achieve the jobs they deserve? Just $5 a day will help support a poor, starving MA graduate in the lifestyle which they deserve by helping them find employment helping the deserving poor in the Third World!
[pan to shot of "bright young Gen X'ers building homes for adoring children in refugee camps]
Your donation goes beyond helping your children - it allows them to help everyone, so send generously!
I suspect I already know your answer

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Nah.
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To go back to Haiti, for example, is there any evidence that the average age for beginning sexual activity has gone up from 12 to, oh, I dunno, maybe 12 and a half? That would be real, grassroots progress, and on a truly key matter affecting the long term prospects of the place. Don't think it happened. Have the police and bureaucrats become more honest? Can't imagine how they'd measure that one. "Ah, oui, monsieur; I have reduced my schedule of bribes by 43% under the influence of your wonderful NGO/MTT/the bribes your organization paid me." We've had evidence here (the police taking off at 16:30 while the looters did not) that the police are fundamentally indifferent to meeting their core function. What's that say about them? And what does what it says about them say about the rest of the society? How, indeed, do we measure that they became more self-reliant? Why would we expect it when they're under the influence of organizations for whom it would be corporate death if they ever actually became self-reliant?
Which, BTW, is one of the reasons why I said that it was too bad we got out of the governance business. Seriously, these are all serious problems with doing anything in the area, especially when you have organizations whose business requires that they have a plentiful supply of "raw material".

It is, however, absolutely critical, at least in my opinion, to distinguish between the "support an 90% overhead" crowd and the groups that actually try to do something and have a much, MUCH lower overhead. I've done some work (yes, as a volunteer) with several aid / development agencies, but I wouldn't touch them if they didn't have wide open books (I've also turned down contracts with the other type). Some of them do some great work with some serious follow-up; they also tend to be fairly small and tend to work very locally on the long term, unlike the crisis de jour variety.

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By comparison, human societies are much more complex than mere jungles, and much harder to change. Moreover, while the jungle is non-sentient - the trees will not actively and cleverly thwart you - the people who make up societies, and are doing fairly well in their own, are sentient and will thwart you.
It's a good analogy, Tom - I've used similar ones when I've taught social theory; it's one of the reasons why I tend to be exceedingly cautious with anything related to cultural or social engineering. The best form of both that I've ever come across is to rely on basic human motivations like enlightened self interest and reinforce them. One of my big problems with most of the attempts at social and cultural engineering is that it tries to be top down and based on ideologies rather than working with people's actual desires.
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Old 01-25-2010   #44
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and actually managed to read Article 94 and its commentary:

Here's the full explanation:



and the sample specification:



The key words "prevent and suppress" do not deal with time period after the mutineers' surrender. At that point, the mutiny has been suppressed or quelled - and the mutineers are prisoners.

----------------------------
Labaan has a good point about tribes.

Regards

Mike
That's right. I've used the following real world example to illustrate it:

Back in 89, during the Invasion of Panama, two female truck drivers refused to drive some troops further towards the fighting. Now, I think you can make a straight-faced argument that they simply panicked. Understandable and, while criminal in military terms, NOT mutiny.

But if you put the worst possible face on it, that they talked together to determine that if both refused neither would get in serious trouble (which, as far as I know, they didn't), it was a mutiny.

A. Assume you can and have arrested them. Mutiny's over. Back to work.
B. Assume, for whatever reason, that you can't. As soon as you shoot one, conspiracy has stopped and it is no longer an active mutiny. (Of course, if the other one doesn't know this and assumes, not unreasonably, that you're just a maniac, she'll probably drive.

Where it really gets icky is when the mutiny is much larger and better organized than that and has recognizable leaders. This could allow arrest and trial, or might forbid it. In the latter case, shooting people out of hand would appear to be authorized - consider some of the crew, if it's shipboard, marching on the brig to free their leaders, and shooting said leaders, quite despite that they present no immediate personal threat to the commander or whoever does the shooting. Then the argument is, "I had to shoot the leaders to bring the rest of the crew to its senses." Might even work at the Court-Martial.

It's still career death, of course.

Yes, Labaan could be right.
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Old 01-25-2010   #45
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It's still career death, of course.

Yes, Labaan could be right.
Jeez, and I thought after a decade in Africa I was pessimistic

Tom, this is like Armageddon or something worse

Sorry, couldn't help meeself
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Old 01-25-2010   #46
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Jeez, and I thought after a decade in Africa I was pessimistic

Tom, this is like Armageddon or something worse

Sorry, couldn't help meeself
Which is, Stan?
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Old 01-25-2010   #47
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Which is, Stan?
Tom, No offense intended - I did say Sorry !

I enjoy your "no Bravo Sierra" approach, but I doubt your conclusions would work much better than our current abysmal system. Funds are being mismanaged and the aid has never fully reached those in need. Yep, flawed and bankrupt but not because we've lost our own moral fiber.

Our disaster relief teams just returned as did many others. So, with all this fuss it seems the problem was either smaller than projected or ?

Having been a member of a three-man team in a refugee camp with 800,000, I can tell you we would have had to shoot and hang 750,000 before someone took notice.

Better to send ammo or food when 4,000 a day die of cholera while we ponder over looting?

BTW, a belated Welcome Aboard !

Regards, Stan
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Old 01-25-2010   #48
Tom Kratman
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Hi Tom,



As far as conditions in haiti were concerned, I was relying not only on "official" reports, which are frequently subject to judicious "editing" but, rather, on reports from a number friends and ex-students who are Haitian and let me know what's happening with their family and friends back there.



Truth in advertising never plays well with moral entrepreneurs . How about the following ad



I suspect I already know your answer





Which, BTW, is one of the reasons why I said that it was too bad we got out of the governance business. Seriously, these are all serious problems with doing anything in the area, especially when you have organizations whose business requires that they have a plentiful supply of "raw material".

It is, however, absolutely critical, at least in my opinion, to distinguish between the "support an 90% overhead" crowd and the groups that actually try to do something and have a much, MUCH lower overhead. I've done some work (yes, as a volunteer) with several aid / development agencies, but I wouldn't touch them if they didn't have wide open books (I've also turned down contracts with the other type). Some of them do some great work with some serious follow-up; they also tend to be fairly small and tend to work very locally on the long term, unlike the crisis de jour variety.



It's a good analogy, Tom - I've used similar ones when I've taught social theory; it's one of the reasons why I tend to be exceedingly cautious with anything related to cultural or social engineering. The best form of both that I've ever come across is to rely on basic human motivations like enlightened self interest and reinforce them. One of my big problems with most of the attempts at social and cultural engineering is that it tries to be top down and based on ideologies rather than working with people's actual desires.
Careful there, Marc, you're getting perilously close to uttering the dreaded "I" word. ("Look, let me go back in there and face the peril." "No, Marc, it's much too perilous." "I can handle it. Really.")

The "I" word is, of course, imperialism. Pity really, that we're simply not morally equipped to do any of that, anymore. It was hardly such an unmixed bag of evil as it's generally portrayed as. Indeed, most of the formerly British colonies, possessions, and proctetorates, are doing comparatively well.

I liked that ad, but couldn't help but notice how interestingly flexible phrases like "help support" and "help pay for" are. At least insofar as they mean, as they often do, that "5% of your money goes to support one person, who needs 792 of you people to live fairly well. The rest is split, 55% to bribes, 21% to our Chairman's little dacha in Darien, CT, 9% to our legal defense fund, 4% to our accounting firm and their tax attorneys, and the rest for advertising..."

Yes, there are some vast differences in overhead among charities. I'm not sanguine that the end result, however, varies much on the ground, generally. Exceptions? Yes, probably a few, for a while, and then the jungle returns. My church, for example, supports a school in Haiti, the nuns who teach there, and the two women who cook for the kids (as someone must because their families can't or won't but in any case don't). And if they're successful over the next 20 years what will it mean beyond that 640 (of about 820 anticipated 'graduates' over that time) somewhat literate Haitians will escape for greener pastures?

You realize, I trust, that reports from your students are somewhat anecdotal, evidence-wise.
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Old 01-25-2010   #49
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Tom, No offense intended - I did say Sorry !

I enjoy your "no Bravo Sierra" approach, but I doubt your conclusions would work much better than our current abysmal system. Funds are being mismanaged and the aid has never fully reached those in need. Yep, flawed and bankrupt but not because we've lost our own moral fiber.

Our disaster relief teams just returned as did many others. So, with all this fuss it seems the problem was either smaller than projected or ?

Having been a member of a three-man team in a refugee camp with 800,000, I can tell you we would have had to shoot and hang 750,000 before someone took notice.

Better to send ammo or food when 4,000 a day die of cholera while we ponder over looting?

BTW, a belated Welcome Aboard !

Regards, Stan
Oh, surely you could have gotten more lumber to build a higher gallows to get them to notice sooner, Stan.

I note how very quiet and cooperative the Haitians rioting in the camps at GTMO, circa late 91-early 92, became once we committed one Marine artillery battery and one Army infantry company, in riot control gear, to quelling those riots. And I don't think we had to hurt anyone, but merely demonstrate that we would.

When I refer to lack of moral fiber, in the case of the west, I'm generally referring to the unwillingness to do the bad thing, or at least the harsh thing, to prevent the worse, or the simply frightful. Forex, we could have probably saved 800,000 innocent Tutsi for well under a billion with the commitment of a single brigade with ROE to shoot. I personally suspect that the reason we didn't was that the domestic political cost of shooting black folks, be they never so evil, in order to save other black folks, be they never so innocent, is simply too high. The ones we kill end up on the news (though they don't say much) while the ones we save are ignored as, at best, speculative.

In any case, yes, 3 for 800k drawfs my worst ratio (2, plus a Dutch Marine company, to about 20k), by orders of magnitude. I can understand why you couldn't get a lot of cooperation.

Ammo or food depends on both the need for food and the seriousness of the looting. No cookie cutter will do.

I don't have any conclusions, Stan. I don't think that anything we can do, and that we're willing to do, will work, long term. And in the places where they seem to, one wonders if we were needed in the first place for anything but to keep people alive, short term.

Last edited by Tom Kratman; 01-25-2010 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 01-25-2010   #50
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Hi Tom,

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Careful there, Marc, you're getting perilously close to uttering the dreaded "I" word. ("Look, let me go back in there and face the peril." "No, Marc, it's much too perilous." "I can handle it. Really.")

The "I" word is, of course, imperialism. Pity really, that we're simply not morally equipped to do any of that, anymore. It was hardly such an unmixed bag of evil as it's generally portrayed as. Indeed, most of the formerly British colonies, possessions, and proctetorates, are doing comparatively well.
Personally, I've never had as much of a problem with imperialism, at least in the open, British, sense, as I have had with other forms of it including, but not limited to, the neo-feudalist version currently in practice by many bureaucracies. Then again, I'm a descendant of United Empire Loyalists and (by blood and schooling) a member of the Family Compact, so I'm obviously biased .

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I liked that ad, but couldn't help but notice how interestingly flexible phrases like "help support" and "help pay for" are. At least insofar as they mean, as they often do, that "5% of your money goes to support one person, who needs 792 of you people to live fairly well. The rest is split, 55% to bribes, 21% to our Chairman's little dacha in Darien, CT, 9% to our legal defense fund, 4% to our accounting firm and their tax attorneys, and the rest for advertising..."
Yup, they are "flexible". What truly bothers me is looking at how close that is, both yours and mine, to the reality in some of the more unethical groups.

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Yes, there are some vast differences in overhead among charities. I'm not sanguine that the end result, however, varies much on the ground, generally. Exceptions? Yes, probably a few, for a while, and then the jungle returns. My church, for example, supports a school in Haiti, the nuns who teach there, and the two women who cook for the kids (as someone must because their families can't or won't but in any case don't). And if they're successful over the next 20 years what will it mean beyond that 640 (of about 820 anticipated 'graduates' over that time) somewhat literate Haitians will escape for greener pastures?
I've been involved with several projects supporting schools in the Dominican Republic and, while the overall picture is much better there, some of the same problems are still apparent, e.g. the brain drain. What is fascinating, however, is that, as Rex noted, if the society can be stabilized at a fairly basic level, then remittances can work as a driver. I doubt that more than 15% of the students in the school projects I've worked with will leave the DR for more than a couple of years.

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You realize, I trust, that reports from your students are somewhat anecdotal, evidence-wise.
Yup. Then again, surveys and statistical analyses are just reified and projected anecdotal data . More seriously, so much depends on what indicators you look at, how you collect the data, how variables are defined both by the surveyors and the population being surveyed, etc. All too often, the people who write these surveys use a supposed universal indicator which actually isn't universal, it's a cultural projection (the rather vicious fights amongst the various international feminists are a great example of this).
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Old 01-25-2010   #51
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Hi Tom,



Personally, I've never had as much of a problem with imperialism, at least in the open, British, sense, as I have had with other forms of it including, but not limited to, the neo-feudalist version currently in practice by many bureaucracies. Then again, I'm a descendant of United Empire Loyalists and (by blood and schooling) a member of the Family Compact, so I'm obviously biased .



Yup, they are "flexible". What truly bothers me is looking at how close that is, both yours and mine, to the reality in some of the more unethical groups.



I've been involved with several projects supporting schools in the Dominican Republic and, while the overall picture is much better there, some of the same problems are still apparent, e.g. the brain drain. What is fascinating, however, is that, as Rex noted, if the society can be stabilized at a fairly basic level, then remittances can work as a driver. I doubt that more than 15% of the students in the school projects I've worked with will leave the DR for more than a couple of years.



Yup. Then again, surveys and statistical analyses are just reified and projected anecdotal data . More seriously, so much depends on what indicators you look at, how you collect the data, how variables are defined both by the surveyors and the population being surveyed, etc. All too often, the people who write these surveys use a supposed universal indicator which actually isn't universal, it's a cultural projection (the rather vicious fights amongst the various international feminists are a great example of this).
We're somewhat special cases, though. The Empire never did a lot to or for us (at least til near the end) but protect us from the French and Indians, even as it served you mostly to protect you from us. Oz and Kiwiland were similar. None of us bear a great similarity to Kenya or Nigeria. That said, both of the latter two are doing much better in just about every way than the subSaharan norm.

God Bless England, and I don't mean the Irish song of that title.

The DR bears little relationship to Haiti. It's a real country. Maybe not a great one, but a real one.
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Old 01-25-2010   #52
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Hi Tom,

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We're somewhat special cases, though. The Empire never did a lot to or for us (at least til near the end) but protect us from the French and Indians, even as it served you mostly to protect you from us. Oz and Kiwiland were similar. None of us bear a great similarity to Kenya or Nigeria. That said, both of the latter two are doing much better in just about every way than the subSaharan norm.
Quite true. What I find fascinating about how the Empire was run is the massive use of indirect governance (indirect rule). Then again, this probably had to do with the fact that most of the Empire was built by companies rather than by politicians, and it goes downhill once the politicians start taking over the governance.

The use of indirect rule meant that a lot of the social infrastructure of governance was, at least somewhat, tailored to the area and included some parts of the local cultural expectations. The cultural "policy" of intermarriage helped a lot too .

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The DR bears little relationship to Haiti. It's a real country. Maybe not a great one, but a real one.
What fascinates me about the differences between the two are the similarities. I use the two of them as a good example of just why geographical determinism just doesn't work as a primary causal factor for social form. The DR is a truly fascinating social experiment in so many ways. Sigh .... I want to go back.... Anyway, one of the more fascinating things I've seen there is how local organization operates and enforces moral codes that are, quite literally, survival characteristics. Even more impressive is that the logic of the codes is quite well known.

Anyway, back to rehearsing.....
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Old 01-25-2010   #53
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Hi Tom,



Quite true. What I find fascinating about how the Empire was run is the massive use of indirect governance (indirect rule). Then again, this probably had to do with the fact that most of the Empire was built by companies rather than by politicians, and it goes downhill once the politicians start taking over the governance.

The use of indirect rule meant that a lot of the social infrastructure of governance was, at least somewhat, tailored to the area and included some parts of the local cultural expectations. The cultural "policy" of intermarriage helped a lot too .



What fascinates me about the differences between the two are the similarities. I use the two of them as a good example of just why geographical determinism just doesn't work as a primary causal factor for social form. The DR is a truly fascinating social experiment in so many ways. Sigh .... I want to go back.... Anyway, one of the more fascinating things I've seen there is how local organization operates and enforces moral codes that are, quite literally, survival characteristics. Even more impressive is that the logic of the codes is quite well known.

Anyway, back to rehearsing.....
Indeed. One of the popular mind's great misconceptions was that the American Revolution was a revolution. It was nothing of the kind. What it was, was a _counter_-revolution to preserve the powers and institutions we'd grown ourselves from the grasping and overreaching parliament that was trying to change the deal. Yes, of course they had their reasons.

The DR doesn't undermine just geographic determinism. It has things to say about genetic determinism as well. Yes, they've got more Euro in their gene pool. Possibly more Taino, as well. But they are still in heavy part descended from slaves more or less indistinguishable from the ancestors of the current Haitians. And they've done much better, even so.

I've considered retiring there. The wife, however, insists that if we were to move to Latin American, it will bloodydamnedwell be to Panama.

Can geography matter? Well, yes, sure. Sometimes. Sitting on a desert covering a lot of oil will tend to turn your population to wastrels. And being effectively isolated from just about everyone and everything else seems to tend to throw up god-kings (i.e. Egypt and Japan).

Go rehearse.
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Old 01-25-2010   #54
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Oh, surely you could have gotten more lumber to build a higher gallows to get them to notice sooner, Stan.
LOL... the lumber we contracted for - we built outhouses with

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Originally Posted by Tom Kratman View Post
I note how very quiet and cooperative the Haitians rioting in the camps at GTMO, circa late 91-early 92, became once we committed one Marine artillery battery and one Army infantry company, in riot control gear, to quelling those riots. And I don't think we had to hurt anyone, but merely demonstrate that we would.
Yep, did that on the Korean border in my youth and saw a few things go Tango Uniform (without firearms). Tried that in Africa but the opponents carried US-made hand grenades. I got your point however. We better be prepared for a lot of dead children in that so-called crowd of refugees and as much as I hate to agree with you just yet, you're right - we're not prepared for the hard decisions.


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Originally Posted by Tom Kratman View Post
When I refer to lack of moral fiber, in the case of the west, I'm generally referring to the unwillingness to do the bad thing, or at least the harsh thing, to prevent the worse, or the simply frightful. Forex, we could have probably saved 800,000 innocent Tutsi for well under a billion with the commitment of a single brigade with ROE to shoot. I personally suspect that the reason we didn't was that the domestic political cost of shooting black folks, be they never so evil, in order to save other black folks, be they never so innocent, is simply too high. The ones we kill end up on the news (though they don't say much) while the ones we save are ignored as, at best, speculative.
I think we were a little late for ROE - way behind the power curve and out gunned and out manned. Our allies weren't exactly on the same sheet of music either. Those were white folks BTW

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Ammo or food depends on both the need for food and the seriousness of the looting. No cookie cutter will do.

I don't have any conclusions, Stan. I don't think that anything we can do, and that we're willing to do, will work, long term. And in the places where they seem to, one wonders if we were needed in the first place for anything but to keep people alive, short term.
Concur !
I must have been exposed to looting so much (grew up in DC) that I consider it SNAFU most of the time.

Issuing ammo may have solved problems faster than airlifting food
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Old 01-25-2010   #55
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LOL... the lumber we did contracted for we built outhouses with



Yep, did that on the Korean border in my youth and saw a few things go Tango Uniform (without firearms). Tried that in Africa but the opponents carried US-made hand grenades. I got your point however. We better be prepared for a lot of dead children in that so-called crowd of refugees and as much as I hate to agree with you just yet, you're right - we're not prepared for the hard decisions.




I think we were a little late for ROE - way behind the power curve and out gunned and out manned. Our allies weren't exactly on the same sheet of music either. Those were white folks BTW



Concur !
I must have been exposed to looting so much (grew up in DC) that I consider it SNAFU most of the time.

Issuing ammo may have solved problems faster than airlifting food
That actually sparks an interesting thought, Africa-wise.

With basing troops in Western Europe being so expensive, and moving them to / basing them in Eastern Europe being potentially quite dangerous (as in leaving them out on an unsupplied limb should relations with Russia sour badly and some of NATO refuse to permit resupply through their borders, neither of which events would surprise me), I wonder what it would cost to base a brigade - maybe a division but at least a brigade - somewhere on the coast of Africa, along with a sufficient air and sea transport increment. It would need a decent but not a great port, and someplace flat enough to build a lengthy airstrip on. Buuut...demonstrate graphically once that we're willing to do whatever it takes to prevent another Rwanda, and we just might not have any more Rwandas.

The country - and note that I left off the quotes this time because under our close interest it just might be able to become a real country - would make a fortune servicing - and I mean that in the, ahem, broadest, ahem, sense - the troops.

Liberia, as the only place there where we have the greatest moral responsibility, might work.

Sadly, that initial demonstration we lack the will for, too.
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Old 01-25-2010   #56
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I think EUCOM actually looked into that at one time with all the IMET and MTTs going wrong there (non-specific - insert country name here). Liberia ? I think they looked at Ascension Island.

In my 16 years here, we haven't exactly done much besides threaten to build a rocket base on Putin's back porch

I can't even fathom how much goes into protecting the Baltic airspace with fighter rotations and even that symbolic gesture may have been enough back in the early 90s to preclude "Rwanda".

Hindsight is great !
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Old 01-25-2010   #57
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If we compare that with the admin overheads from some of the other groups, you have to wonder. I believe that one of the most egregious examples, since corrected to some degree, was UNICEF with an 80% overhead (or somewhere in that area) and who, by the 1990's, appear to have been spending the vast majority of their money on conferences and symposia (cf. Chattering International: How UNICEF Fails the World’s Poorest Children, James Le Fenu, 1993).
Part of the confusion here was the way in which UNICEF structured its budget, which made it look like less money than was going into programming than was actually the case. Moreover, the egregious cases no more justify giving up on development agencies and NGOs as instruments of policy than do bloated weapon acquisitions budgets and $640 toilet seats mean that we jettison the military. Rather, they are reasons for reforms.

To take a few more typical cases. UNRWA--the largest UN agency in terms of staff--spends 11% of its budget on program support, and 89% on programmes. MSF--a fairly typical humanitarian NGO--spends 13% of its budget on support and fund-raising, and 87% on programme delivery. Those, I would suggest, are more typical numbers these days.
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Old 01-25-2010   #58
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I can't help but notice a certain irony to this entire "harsh in Haiti" thread. While much of the discussion has focused on overblown coercive measures for dealing with problems of looting and public order, what I'm hearing from diplomats, aid officials and journalists on the ground is that the looting and public order issues have been much smaller than expected, and have not been the primary constraint (which has tended to be access, logistics, communication, and coordination). Many have actually been rather positively impressed by the degree of community self-help and organization among the affected population. The most recent OCHA sitrep devotes only one sentence (in a six page report) to security problems--and even this is the potential for criminal violence due to prison escapes, and potential future instability, rather than serious looting affecting current UN and NGO activities on the ground.

Part of this, of course, is because MINUSTAH and the US military integrated convoy, perimeter control, and other security measures into relief planning. It is also not to say that looting hasn't happened--obviously it has, as have problems in orderly distribution of supplies.

It is to suggest, however, that this sometimes testosterone-laden discussion might be a bit removed from the actual challenges on the ground at the moment.
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Old 01-25-2010   #59
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I can't help but notice a certain irony to this entire "harsh in Haiti" thread. While much of the discussion has focused on overblown coercive measures for dealing with problems of looting and public order, what I'm hearing from diplomats, aid officials and journalists on the ground is that the looting and public order issues have been much smaller than expected, and have not been the primary constraint (which has tended to be access, logistics, communication, and coordination). Many have actually been rather positively impressed by the degree of community self-help and organization among the affected population. The most recent OCHA sitrep devotes only one sentence (in a six page report) to security problems--and even this is the potential for criminal violence due to prison escapes, and potential future instability, rather than serious looting affecting current UN and NGO activities on the ground.

Part of this, of course, is because MINUSTAH and the US military integrated convoy, perimeter control, and other security measures into relief planning. It is also not to say that looting hasn't happened--obviously it has, as have problems in orderly distribution of supplies.

It is to suggest, however, that this sometimes testosterone-laden discussion might be a bit removed from the actual challenges on the ground at the moment.
Couple of qualitative queries:

Does "smaller than expected" necessarily mean small and / or insignificant?

If they have not been the primary constraint have they been a negligable constraint? Consistently and completely?

Does something in the "most recent report" mean that there were no or negligable problems several weeks ago?

How much do you think that "the actual challenges on the ground at the moment" have to do with the actual challenges on the ground several weeks ago?

What measures are observers using for "community self help" and "better than expected"? Did they expect anything at all to begin with?

Just curious.
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Old 01-25-2010   #60
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Part of the confusion here was the way in which UNICEF structured its budget, which made it look like less money than was going into programming than was actually the case. Moreover, the egregious cases no more justify giving up on development agencies and NGOs as instruments of policy than do bloated weapon acquisitions budgets and $640 toilet seats mean that we jettison the military. Rather, they are reasons for reforms.

To take a few more typical cases. UNRWA--the largest UN agency in terms of staff--spends 11% of its budget on program support, and 89% on programmes. MSF--a fairly typical humanitarian NGO--spends 13% of its budget on support and fund-raising, and 87% on programme delivery. Those, I would suggest, are more typical numbers these days.
I smell creative accounting, frankly. No, not yours; the UN's.

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