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Old 01-16-2011   #21
Bill Moore
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Default No surprises

Tequila, thanks for the link, it is good to know this crisis wasn't a surprise to our diplomats, nor would have it have been a surprise 10 years ago. The conditions were set, it just required a catalyst.
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Old 01-16-2011   #22
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Default Evidence is lacking

Posted by Fuchs,

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As far as I know the events started with a tiny tragedy that ignited the powder keg. It takes no internet or special software to do this - it's not unlike what happened in East Europe around '90.
After reviewing all the links I have to agree there is little evidence that the internet played a significant. The comments on Wikileaks appears to be mere speculation. The tension has been mounting for many years, and while it isn't clear what elevated it to this level, I haven't seen any evidence that the internet media contributed in a major way. Maybe in time we will.

Anonymous seems to believe that he/she is making a major contribution to the uprising, but I see limited posts on his/her site, and the one I did see from Tunsia said his/her contributions weren't helpful. While I'm confident the internet is being used to coordinate, mobilize, and garner global support (perhaps unintentionally), there is no evidence presented yet that it has played a significant role like it did during the Seattle WTO chaos.

I think the bigger questions now that need to be asked are what does this mean to region at large? Will it prompt citizens in other Arab countries with oppressive governments to raise up? Will this present new challenges or opportunities to the extremists? Since the uprising appears to be mostly unorganized, who will assume the new leadership role in Tunsia? If it is the military, will anything really change?
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Old 01-16-2011   #23
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It's not that cyber insurgency played a major part, it is that it was an intentional line of operations in this movement.

Tanks didn't play a major part in WWI, but the value was identified and the usage grew.

I do absolutely concur that when the conditions of insurgency are high enough, that even if all active resistance is effectively suppressed by the government, with the right catalyst things can move quickly and dramatically. This was certainly the case in Eastern Europe (though the emerging information age played a key role in unifying the populaces of several countries to dare to challenge Soviet dominion there as well); is certainly the case in Tunisia; and I contend is the case in many other Arab countries that US has supportive relationships with the governments of.

It would not be surprising at all, if the broader populace bases of these countries abandoned the "help" that AQ offers as too radical and too violent, and instead seeks other less violent and more effective means to achieve changes of governance that they have no legal venue to affect. The US needs to get in front of this, or run the risk of seeing much of our influence in such nations being set out on the curb along with the existing government when such changes occur. This this goes to the central theory in the two papers I published on Populace-Centric Engagement (here on SWJ) and Populace-Centric Foreign Policy (on World Politics Review) a couple years ago.
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Old 01-16-2011   #24
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Default Thoughts and finally humour

I too am sceptical about the impact of modern media on this street campaign and am less certain about its impact on the governing elite / army. Someone I am sure can attest to the penetration of new media in Tunisia; how many people have mobile phones, use the web, use Twitter etc?

Link to BBC comment on media:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12180954

Nor should we overlook the original catalyst, the student trader who burnt himself and that the President visited his bedside before he died. When he did that all Tunisians knew what the student had done. Was the visit a mistake I do not know.

Newsreel in crisis situations is a snapshot and as I posted before it was the age groups involved that indicated to me a mass movement had appeared. Yesterday I noted pictures of women and not one wearing a head scarf.

What will be the impact of Tunisia? An Arab writes:http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensec...s-from-tunisia

Under 'Why the Jasmine Revolution won't bloom' a press comment, with a superb joke, after the link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ont-bloom.html

Quote:
Some joked that Mr Ben Ali, whose plane into exile was refused permission to land in a repentant France before heading east to Saudi Arabia, dropped in first on Mr Mubarak’s seaside home in Sharm el Sheikh. “Come to stay?” Mr Mubarak asks. “No, come to pick you up,” replies Mr Ben Ali.
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Old 01-16-2011   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Posted by Fuchs,
Anonymous seems to believe that he/she is making a major contribution to the uprising, but I see limited posts on his/her site, and the one I did see from Tunsia said his/her contributions weren't helpful. While I'm confident the internet is being used to coordinate, mobilize, and garner global support (perhaps unintentionally), there is no evidence presented yet that it has played a significant role like it did during the Seattle WTO chaos.
ANONYMOUS is not an individual.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_%28group%29

I don't have a dog in this fight, either way. Just making sure there's clarity.

*
In Tunisia, social media are main source of news about protests

Despite strict censorship, protesters, aided by activists outside the country, are using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online media to mobilize and spread information.

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan...ernet-20110115
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Old 01-16-2011   #26
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I too am sceptical about the impact of modern media on this street campaign and am less certain about its impact on the governing elite / army. Someone I am sure can attest to the penetration of new media in Tunisia; how many people have mobile phones, use the web, use Twitter etc?
Mobile phones (and SMS) are ubiquitous: 9.8 million in a country with a population of 10.6 million. There are an estimated 3.5 million internet users.

Facebook is heavily used, and Youtube (+ cellphone video) was quite common during the protests. Twitter isn't much used.

I think the new media played a role, but they were hardly transformative. Sidi Bouzid, where the initial incident took place--is only 280km from the capital. The first protests in the capital weren't until January 12, or 25 days after the initial disturbances. That's an average speed of 460m per hour. You could walk faster than that
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Old 01-16-2011   #27
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Posted by Bob's World,

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The US needs to get in front of this, or run the risk of seeing much of our influence in such nations being set out on the curb along with the existing government when such changes occur.
Bob we are in agreement, and to some extent we did this during the Cold War with Voice of America (probably by far our greatest weapon during that time period), but now and then we also pursued adjusted our foreign policy based on perceived pragmatism. Personally I would prefer to see a values based foreign policy, but I'm not sure how realistic that is. At heart I'm still very much a De Oppresso Liber person, and if people are striving to be liberated and need assistance I think we should be there in some form whether it is simply moral support (which the President came the Tunisian people) or physical assistance. That differs significantly from occupying a nation and trying to force democracy upon them. That is an oppressive form of democracy, not a democracy that arises from the will of the people.

Rex, I appreciate the insights on the forms of media being used in Tunisa and their influence. I have to admit I was surprised that it was so prevelant. I'm getting read to Groundswell by Li and Bernoff soon (finally getting to my Christmas present), which hopefully will help enlighten me further on how social technologies are transforming the world.

David, enjoyed the joke in the article, just wish it wasn't a joke! In many ways modern Islamic Extremism can be traced back to Egypt, and the extremist ideology there was/is stroked by an oppressive government. Of course the million dollar question is if the oppressive government fell, would a liberal and progressive society prevail, or would the Islamists who are already organized prevail?

Last edited by Bill Moore; 01-16-2011 at 06:44 PM. Reason: minor corrections
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Old 01-16-2011   #28
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Default Effects of the Tunisian crisis felt elsewhere in region

The effects of the Tunisian crisis are being felt elsewhere in the region in the form of speculation mainly as these articles point out. And like mentioned above by other posters.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...011503141.html

http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2011/blog...ouble_in_libya

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110116/...ideast_tunisia
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Old 01-17-2011   #29
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TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) - Tunisian authorities struggled to restore order Sunday, arresting the top presidential security chief and trying to stop gunfights that erupted in and beyond the capital. One clash broke out around the deposed president's palace on the Mediterranean shore, another near the headquarters of the main opposition party.
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20110116/D9KPL3I80.html

ANONYMOUS defines itself
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkDgOEz6wGM
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Old 01-17-2011   #30
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Originally Posted by Kevin23 View Post
The effects of the Tunisian crisis are being felt elsewhere in the region in the form of speculation mainly as these articles point out. And like mentioned above by other posters.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...011503141.html

http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2011/blog...ouble_in_libya

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110116/...ideast_tunisia
Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the furthest ripples in the pond.
http://www.scmagazineus.com/hired-gu...rticle/194087/
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Old 01-19-2011   #31
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Just keeping this thread elevated. These events in Tunisia offer the West their best opportunity in years to make true progress against Islamist terrorism.

Will we step up to champion the populace of Tunisia in their quest for greater liberty, a new Parliament, a new constitution, and an new future? To pursue Self-Determination and life, liberty and happiness on their own terms. Or will we reinforced the failures of the exiled regime and attempt to "enforce the rule of law" and return it to power?

"Ben Ali was considered a U.S. ally for cracking down on Islamic extremism, which included jailing militants and forcing opposition politicians into exile, such as Rashid Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party."

This is exactly what I have been warning against. We are enabling guys like this to have an open season on oppressing their own populaces in the name of "counterterrorism." Tunisia is just one of many countries where this is true. This is the problem with intel-driven strategy. Intel guys look for threats to governments, they don't look for how the governments themselves are in fact the threat. To conduct security force capacity building in such countries only makes these governments more effective as suppressing their populaces. We have gotten off track, but it is not too late to recover.

The President's comment on this topic from the 14th:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-...events-tunisia

A subtle note to Mubarak buried in this conversation with the president yesterday:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-...-mubarak-egypt

Will this be like a Hungary 1956, or a Hungary 1988? Or somewhere in between? Will this be put down, or will it ripple across the despotic regimes of the Middle East, rolling them back much as Communism and the Soviets were rolled back in Eastern Europe?

This is what opportunity looks like.
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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 01-20-2011   #32
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These events in Tunisia offer the West their best opportunity in years to make true progress against Islamist terrorism.

Strongly concur. But with very low expectations.

These opportunities could be very real especially for Europe. Europe could demonstrate that an intermediate way between american style in ecporting democracy (Lebanon, Iraq ecc...) and the chinese cinic approach could exist.


We have big emigrated communities to leverage and to use like informal communication channel. We are at their borders with econic ties.

In 15 years we could have our "tunisians" to oppose to islamist "afghans" in the battle for hearts and minds in the streets of arab cities.

But if we read the declarations of our politicians doubts arise. The italian foreign relations minister praised Lybia as an example two days ago...
Lybia that probably will be the first source of destabilization for Tunisia.

'Nuff said

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Old 01-20-2011   #33
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Politicians and diplomats think in terms of governments and officials; but this is about nations and populaces. If Western governments are able to make this mental shift, to prioritize the health of nations and the welfare of populaces over the alliances they make with the governments and officials who exercise authority over the same, we can move forward. If they cannot, then we are doomed to continue to support some of the most despotic regimes in the world, while continuing to incentivize these restless populaces to listen to AQ and continue their attacks until we yield in that support.

I recommend we take the initiative, and disempower AQ in the process. Libya is a great example, as Qaddafi's son is on record as a much more moderate leader than his father. Now is the perfect time to sit with Qadaffi and recommend that he nip the growing unrest in his nation in the bud by taking control of the situation while the situation is still within his control. Shift leadership to his son and open talks with his people regarding reasonable governmental reforms. Egypt, with its nearing election similarly can get in front of this if it chooses.

This is also an opportunity to recalibrate Western CT programs and security force capacity building programs in these nations. Such intel-driven, threat-centric efforts have served to enable these Arab leaders to continue to act with impunity toward their own populaces, rolling up nationalist subversives in the name of "counterterrorism."

We have allowed Bin Laden and AQ to become the champion of the people, while we have settled deeper into our Cold War role as the protector and the enabler of these oppressive regimes. I wish I could sugar coat our role over the past few decades, but I don't see how.

This is very much like how the information age empowered the people of Eastern Europe to stand up to the Soviets in the late 80s and early 90s; and we supported them in their efforts to find self-determination and liberty free from Soviet oppression. We need only provide the same type of support to the similarly situated populaces of the Arab world today. If we opt instead to weigh in on the side of the status quo, on the side of continued support and Enablement of these despotic regimes, we will only delay the inevitable, and increase the risks to our populaces at home of terrorist attacks.

I believe the President has the right instincts on this, but he will need support from principled men and women on both sides of the aisle. If the "Good Cold Warriors" and Oil interest lackeys prevail, it will be an opportunity lost.
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Old 01-20-2011   #34
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Politicians and diplomats think in terms of governments and officials; but this is about nations and populaces. If Western governments are able to make this mental shift, to prioritize the health of nations and the welfare of populaces over the alliances they make with the governments and officials who exercise authority over the same, we can move forward. If they cannot, then we are doomed to continue to support some of the most despotic regimes in the world, while continuing to incentivize these restless populaces to listen to AQ and continue their attacks until we yield in that support.
You said a mouthful there. When Nations combine economic engineering and ASCOPE you going to see very dramatic power shifts. Big Dinosaurs and going to be left wondering what happened.
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Old 01-21-2011   #35
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Will we step up to champion the populace of Tunisia in their quest for greater liberty, a new Parliament, a new constitution, and an new future? To pursue Self-Determination and life, liberty and happiness on their own terms. Or will we reinforced the failures of the exiled regime and attempt to "enforce the rule of law" and return it to power?
Or will we mind our own business and let them sort it out on their own, unless our assistance is specifically requested by someone with a credible claim to represent the populace?

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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Libya is a great example, as Qaddafi's son is on record as a much more moderate leader than his father. Now is the perfect time to sit with Qadaffi and recommend that he nip the growing unrest in his nation in the bud by taking control of the situation while the situation is still within his control. Shift leadership to his son and open talks with his people regarding reasonable governmental reforms.
What makes you think that Qaddafi would pay any attention to unsolicited American advice on management of domestic policy? Not like we have any special influence there.

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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
This is also an opportunity to recalibrate Western CT programs and security force capacity building programs in these nations. Such intel-driven, threat-centric efforts have served to enable these Arab leaders to continue to act with impunity toward their own populaces, rolling up nationalist subversives in the name of "counterterrorism."
We're not "enabling" anything. These guys would roll up and roll over their opponents no matter what we do and no matter what we think. It's what they do, it's what they've always done. We can't stop them and they don't need our help.

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We have allowed Bin Laden and AQ to become the champion of the people, while we have settled deeper into our Cold War role as the protector and the enabler of these oppressive regimes.
Who says bin Laden is the champion of the people? What people, and where? Sure, people are willing to support bin Laden as long as he's fighting the good fight against foreign intruders in Muslim lands somewhere far away, but I don't see any populace anywhere that sees bin Laden as their champion against their own government.

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We need only provide the same type of support to the similarly situated populaces of the Arab world today. If we opt instead to weigh in on the side of the status quo, on the side of continued support and Enablement of these despotic regimes, we will only delay the inevitable, and increase the risks to our populaces at home of terrorist attacks.
Or maybe we need to back off and stop messing in other people's affairs on either side of the fence. It's not a choice between supporting the despot or supporting the populace... we don't have to interfere at all. Do we have any reason to believe that these populaces want us messing around in their internal affairs?

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Old 01-21-2011   #36
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We did it your way during the Clinton Administration Dayuhan.

Flush with Cold War and Gulf War victory, we didn't have to meddle in any of this messiness, we could down size our security forces, focus on domestic policies, and turn the "peace dividend" into a balanced budget.

Life was good, for us anyways. What we did not take into account was that the world had lost the tremendous balancing, and tempering effect of two superpowers waging a global competition for influence. One would wage a little UW, the other would counter. Most situations never got too out of control. Suddenly the Soviets weren't showing up, and then the Americans stopped showing up as well. Once everyone else realized this, those out of government who wanted power, or justice, or liberty started jockeying for position. Similarly those in government, many with no true writ of popular sovereignty, began ratcheting up the populace control measures. Rwanda? Not our problem, no national interests at stake. Only when the NGO/Media uproar became deafening did we respond a situation that had descended into genocide. The Balkans were the same. This is what too often happens when popular movements break the bonds of oppression. Old grudges get settled, little guys get crushed. Just ask the French about the late 1700s.

What you recommend is a return to the failed "hobby diplomacy" of the Clinton era, and it sounds good, but it isn't. I completely agree that we have no duty and no right to tell others what values to adopt, or what form of government, or any of a dozen other areas where too often we fail to mind our business. But I disagree adamantly that we have no duty to stand up for the little guy, to show up in such places and establish clear parameters as to the degree/nature of violence that is tolerable in such upheavals, to deter genocide rather than merely respond to the same. To actually be the nation we like to see ourselves as. Standing for broad concepts such as Self Determination, equality, Justice and Liberty. But that's just me.

Why have we not rushed a Marine Amphibious ship to the Med to simply sit, clearly visible on the horizon off of Tunis? If this were a flood in Bangladesh, or a Tsunami in Indonesia the Marines would rush to the scene as a sign of what great people the US is composed of. Or if this were an Embassy hostage situation, or a violent insurgent uprising. Nothing wrong with showing up for any of those things, but why not this?? A little bit of symbolism here and now could tip our entire GWOT effort toward victory. But only if one understands that CT and Capacity building aimed at the symptoms of GWOT, and that a clear sign of support to the oppressed populaces of the Arab world strikes directly at the heart of the problem.

We can not simply fall back into fortress America, plug our ears and cover our eyes to the sounds and sights of misery rising from those oppressed by state and non-state actors alike, and simply enjoy being #1. It's a model that history tells us fails every time. We must stay engaged, and the more moral and selfless our engagement is, the more influence we will build and the longer our status will endure. Protecting despots is equally as damaging as ignoring genocide. We need to find a balance point for the world we live in today, much as we had a balance point in the Cold War; and we are no where near that balance point yet.
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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 01-21-2011   #37
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Default Dichotomous tension...

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What you recommend is a return to the failed "hobby diplomacy" of the Clinton era, and it sounds good, but it isn't.
Hobby diplomacy? Good term for a guy and era that saw the launching of explosives against four sovereign states and started the US on the road to its current world place as the Big Bully...

However, that's an aside. This:
Quote:
I completely agree that we have no duty and no right to tell others what values to adopt, or what form of government, or any of a dozen other areas where too often we fail to mind our business. But I disagree adamantly that we have no duty to stand up for the little guy, to show up in such places and establish clear parameters as to the degree/nature of violence that is tolerable in such upheavals, to deter genocide rather than merely respond to the same.
is the dichotomy. How does one have no right and no duty to tell others what values to adopt and yet have a "duty to stand up for the little guy, to show up in such places and establish clear parameters as to the degree/nature of violence that is tolerable in such upheavals." You say we will not tell others what values to adopt and then turn right around and say we must stand up for the little guy and we will not tolerate certain actions. One cannot do what you suggest. Either you do not dictate or you do.

I have asked the same question of you several times and you have yet to answer that. Further, you say:
Quote:
To actually be the nation we like to see ourselves as. Standing for broad concepts such as Self Determination, equality, Justice and Liberty. But that's just me.
As I've said many times in one way or another, it's not just you -- but those are almost certainly minority views. I have asked how you intend to persuade the majority -- and particularly the public policy makers -- to go along with your vision. You have not answered that, either...

So I again ask that two-fold question: How do you reconcile allowing self determination and forcefully standing up for the little guy? How do you convince those who oppose or do not support your policy ideas to become supporters and implement the policies?
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Old 01-21-2011   #38
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A.

It is a mix of message and presence. Sit down and work this out, Negotiate. If you can't negotiate, then the US or someone will come in and mediate. If you can't mediate, then the US or the UN or someone will come in and Arbitrate. Currently we tend to dictate. All of this is basic contract law, basic dispute resolution. The parties need to work out the terms, and there are always guidelines based on fundamental concepts of equity that set the parameters of such negotiations. It's the same way we enforce the rule of law at home. This is why we don't have gunfights at high noon in main street, or bigger and stronger people running roughshod over the smaller and weaker.

There is a wide range of "acceptable" solutions; our problem is that we tend to neck it down to a narrow range of what is acceptable to us. Once a program is developed, then for example, the spokes people for the populace movement or the interim government in Tunisia could be requesting a neutral stand off security presence and a mediation team to come in and help move the process forward in a fashion that builds trust and helps avoid excess violence.

B. As to "how": I write things, I speak to people in positions of influence in and out of government, etc. Its a process. Most everyone appreciates that the status quo is not appropriate, and that things are changing. No one has "the" answer, to definitely include myself. I throw things I think about out to the SWC 'draw fire' and to facilitate refinement. I essentially conduct a mix of UW, law, and other tricks of various trades.

Sometimes its a bit glacier, but things are moving.
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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 01-21-2011   #39
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Default Ah. "It dependes on the situation."

I knew that...

Always a good answer though -- and it does indeed. Which is why I keep suggesting to you not to try to oversimplify things. That's just as bad as or possibly worse than overcomplicating them.
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
A.

It is a mix of message and presence. Sit down and work this out, Negotiate. If you can't negotiate, then the US or someone will come in and mediate. If you can't mediate, then the US or the UN or someone will come in and Arbitrate. Currently we tend to dictate...
Still sounds to me as though some dictation is involved. "The US or someone WILL...
Quote:
There is a wide range of "acceptable" solutions; our problem is that we tend to neck it down to a narrow range of what is acceptable to us.
Exactly -- and that last, to whom it is acceptable -- is where your problem lies and the reason I keep tossing cautionary Grenades...

Not least because
Quote:
...the spokes people for the populace movement or the interim government in Tunisia could be requesting a neutral stand off security presence and a mediation team to come in and help move the process forward in a fashion that builds trust and helps avoid excess violence.
The appearance of an afloat MAGTF offshore is likely to cause more ripples of discontent than of relief. Regardless of the announced reason, the event will be spun adversely by those not friendly to the US (and they will be in the nation of interest, in the US itself and in the world at large). I'm not saying we cannot or should not do it, merely that it will likely provide mixed results and the those results will not depend solely on the US and /or its actions; others will impact it and often, there'll be some nations and events that were unexpected. So, yes, it does indeed depend on the situation -- and most of those will not be cut and dried. Thus my frequent comment that your aim is laudable however, those folks in defilade will just try to wait you out. Indirect fire can help; that requires aiming stakes and offsets.

Those nations mentioned above will be those not friendly to the US, BTW, and as you know, a majority of the Nations in the world are in that category at times. Contrary to the assertions of many, that is not solely due to our sometimes blundering foreign presences and missteps. It is due mostly to the simple fact that we are large and wealthy; our bobbles only exacerbate that slightly. The size and wealth make us an object of envy; our assistance to others has made them somewhat nominally beholden to us -- and no one likes to in that position; they'll dislike you simply because you had to help them.

In order to remove the stigma of size and wealth, you're asking the US to forego many things to which it has become accustomed. While I can applaud the intent, sympathize with the goal and appreciate what you're trying to do, I may be unduly cynical but I suspect your chance of success is not good. Regardless, I wish you well and will continue to provide harassing fire on occasion.
Quote:
Sometimes its a bit glacier, but things are moving.
They are indeed and have been for many years. I started calling it the 'Momization' syndrome back in the early 60s. It has many good points. It also poses some dangers as it inclines many to believe that all people are basically alike -- they are not -- and that most will behave rationally -- few do though many will try to appears if the are so behaving (most of the time...). Momization applauds good governance and good behavior generally; unfortunately, a very few kids are just flat evil and will rebel with little or no cause no matter how good the governance is seen to be. Momism does not cope well with that -- it's irrational.

The Glacier is a good simile. Avoid the crevasses and watch for slippery ice...
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Old 01-22-2011   #40
Dayuhan
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Why have we not rushed a Marine Amphibious ship to the Med to simply sit, clearly visible on the horizon off of Tunis?
Why should we do any such thing? There's no genocide going on, nor any threatened, just a process of political change. There is absolutely nothing at this point to warrant external intervention.

Seems to me that going all 19th century and parking a gunboat off the coast would be completely counterproductive. There is not one person in Tunisia or the Arab world who would believe for a heartbeat that we were there on behalf of "the little guy". I don't think too many Americans would believe it. The universal assumption - no matter what we said - would be that big bad Uncle Sam was once again throwing his weight around to advance his own interests... and that, more than anything else, is what AQ thrives on.

The Tunisian "little guy" is not asking us to intervene. Nobody is asking us to intervene, or mediate, or facilitate, or anything else. What reason do we have to go pushing ourselves uninvited into other people's business? At least give them a chance to sort it out for themselves first. It is unbelievably presumptuous to think we could possibly know what the Tunisian populace wants or what is best for them, or that we would even consider pushing our presence uninvited into their process of political change. What right do we have to go walking into other countries and tell people there what we are or are not willing to tolerate?

There is likely to come a time when external influence is useful. An interim government will have to be pressured to hold elections; the elections will have to be monitored and assessed, and the various parties involved will have to be urged to accept the results. This may be an area where US leadership at the UN or other multilateral fora is called for, but unilateral intervention would be an absolute last resort.

Seems to me that our default response to internal instability in other countries should be to let the locals work things out for themselves. If we're asked to participate by parties with a credible claim to represent the populace or a portion thereof, the request should be considered. If influence or intervention is required it should multilateral efforts should always be preferred. Unilateral action or influence should be an absolute last resort, to be used when action is necessary and no other way is possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
What we did not take into account was that the world had lost the tremendous balancing, and tempering effect of two superpowers waging a global competition for influence. One would wage a little UW, the other would counter. Most situations never got too out of control. Suddenly the Soviets weren't showing up, and then the Americans stopped showing up as well. Once everyone else realized this, those out of government who wanted power, or justice, or liberty started jockeying for position. Similarly those in government, many with no true writ of popular sovereignty, began ratcheting up the populace control measures.
This contention is I think almost horrifyingly backwards. There was no beneficial balancing during the Cold War: it was a devastatingly destructive time for the developing world. The Cold War was only cold if you were in Europe or the US and thinking nuclear: out on the periphery it was hot and continuous. The Cold War was fought by proxy, in the developing world, and the results were catastrophic. The end of that period hasn't eliminated violence in the developing world (nothing could), but it has drastically reduced it, and removed a major factor feeding it.

I can't think of any empirical measure that would suggest that violence and instability in the developing world have increased since the end of the Cold War. Quite the opposite. That entire line of argument needs to be either credibly supported or discarded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
It is a mix of message and presence. Sit down and work this out, Negotiate. If you can't negotiate, then the US or someone will come in and mediate. If you can't mediate, then the US or the UN or someone will come in and Arbitrate. Currently we tend to dictate. All of this is basic contract law, basic dispute resolution. The parties need to work out the terms, and there are always guidelines based on fundamental concepts of equity that set the parameters of such negotiations. It's the same way we enforce the rule of law at home. This is why we don't have gunfights at high noon in main street, or bigger and stronger people running roughshod over the smaller and weaker.
Enforcing the rule of law in our country is our right and our responsibility. Trying to enforce our concept of law in another country is imposition. We have no right whatsoever to tell the Tunisians how to resolve their internal conflicts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
There is a wide range of "acceptable" solutions; our problem is that we tend to neck it down to a narrow range of what is acceptable to us.
Isn't that exactly what you're advocating when you suggest that we "show up in such places and establish clear parameters as to the degree/nature of violence that is tolerable in such upheavals"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Once a program is developed, then for example, the spokes people for the populace movement or the interim government in Tunisia could be requesting a neutral stand off security presence and a mediation team to come in and help move the process forward in a fashion that builds trust and helps avoid excess violence.
Is anyone requesting that?
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