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Old 04-30-2008   #21
Ken White
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Default I understand your valid point but am not in total agreement

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Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
Whether the ambiguity we have sown (regarding likely US response to other State and non-State actions) was by design or not, I think it is an incredibly important/dangerous development.
I think we have historically acted erratically in this sense. Most of our wars over the last 200+ years began,as did this one, because someone believed the flaky Americans would not react. Always a bad mistake.

We're busy worrying about Britney and what designer beer to buy and we do not have time for this esoteric 'war' B.S. -- so some idiot starts one and all we want to do is go in there and wreak death and destruction and get back to our navel contemplation.

Thus I contend that we ARE, historically, unpredictable in the depth and extent of our reaction. I have long (since 1979) contended that Carter could have backed Iran down on the hostages without war and that his failure to do so, followed by Reagan's, Clinton's and Bush 41's failures to react in the ME were an invitation to disaster.

Carter, in particular, acted unpredictably -- but down stream instead of of over reacting. So did the next three under react with bad consequences. Had any one of overreacted, it would've been simpler and easier than the position we are now in. A position we are in very much due to the fact that someone thought we had become predictable.

Quite wrongly. Fortunately...
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I think we can all agree that surprise is a good thing when applied to military activity (except of course when we surprise ourselves... hello this isn't the enemy we planned for... that is a not so good surprise)...
True, and if it's not the enemy we planned for, whose fault is that? Sounds like poor intel and / or poor planning to me. In any event, I suggest some Diplomatic uncertainty can preclude having to resort to military surprise...
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However, surprise is not so good when your girl friend's father comes home early and finds his baby naked and in your arms... However, you can deal with this surprise if you had some reasonable expectation of his reaction (e.g. throws you out of the house and tells you not to return).

If, however, his response is cut off your package, break both your knees, and drop you off naked in the middle of the country... well that is a rather bad surprise.

If there was this much ambiguity there would be very little dating and our supply of warrior babies would drop to a dangerously low level.
Heh. We can really disagree on that. Teenage hormones and danger are like steak and cheese in Philly. There would be more, not less hanky panky. What would really happen is that the number of unwed mothers would drop slightly, not an overall bad thing.
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From Grand Strategy point of view we want and need to be predictable... one way or another... its the only way to maintain some semblence of global stability.
Semblance is a good word. because that's what it is -- stability and the semblance thereof are two different things. I do not fully agree that predictability, one way or the other is desirable, much less necessary but I will say that if we had to go that route, I'd be inclined to go the route of the Great Khan. The meek may someday inherit the Earth but for the next couple of centuries they're more likely to just get buried early.
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I vote for Fathers with a more predictable response...

Unless of course it involves my two teenage daughters... That blade is well honed.
Having three sons and a daughter plus three Grandaughters, two in their 20s, do keep that blade honed. And do be alert. You'd be amazed at how fast these kids can get their clothes on and be ten feet apart...

Oh -- on the tell 'em to depart and never return bit? They'll just meet elsewhere. Trust me on that one, been there, had that done.

Oldest son is a cop, always made a point to be cleaning his firearms when a new male arrived at the house for the first time; annoyed the Granddaughter but it kept her (him???) straight...

Point there is that one can do what you suggest -- and what T.R. suggested; "Walk softly and carry a big stick." The key is that you cannot be hesitant in using the big stick. That's where the unpredictability has historically come from (including recent history)...

Last edited by Ken White; 04-30-2008 at 09:55 PM.
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Old 05-01-2008   #22
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Default Ive always found one thing to be true in my life

There is one factor that will always be predictable,

Unpredictability

The key seems to be to Hope for the best, expect and plan for the worst and in the end generally things come out somewhere in between

That said as long as there is an accepted end state your aiming for it should be much easier to keep from getting thrown to far off track along the way no matter how confused things get.

North is always north the trick would be making sure we know which way north is from the start
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Old 05-01-2008   #23
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Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
"Walk softly and carry a big stick." The key is that you cannot be hesitant in using the big stick. That's where the unpredictability has historically come from (including recent history)...
With respect, the key is that using the big stick can lead to disaster, therefore you need to really understand the cost/benefits/risks of using the big stick. You need to recognize that using the big stick too often makes you a bully. Finally, need to use the big stick properly, thus the importance of your choosen profession.

The question of whether or not the people who hired Rumsfeld and Feith have learned enough about the nuances of using the big stick is an open one. I am optimistic, but frankly don't believe that they've earned the right to walk up to the brink. As opposed to - I'll be non partisan - Kennedy and Reagan who'd I'd trust in a game of brinkmanship.
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Old 05-01-2008   #24
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Default With equal respect

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With respect, the key is that using the big stick can lead to disaster, therefore you need to really understand the cost/benefits/risks of using the big stick. You need to recognize that using the big stick too often makes you a bully. Finally, need to use the big stick properly, thus the importance of your choosen profession.
the cost of not maintaining it or not using it at all can be even more disastrous. I suggest one with a big stick will not use it too often else there would be no need for the preceding phrase "walk softly..." I also suggest that if you have a big stick and use it no matter how carefully some -- many -- who do not possess such an instrument will call you a bully and the person it's used against is almost certain to do so.
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The question of whether or not the people who hired Rumsfeld and Feith have learned enough about the nuances of using the big stick is an open one.
I think your concern is misplaced, those people will soon be gone. I suggest concern might be better directed to those incompetents who will replace the current crowd of incompetents.
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... I am optimistic, but frankly don't believe that they've earned the right to walk up to the brink. As opposed to - I'll be non partisan - Kennedy and Reagan who'd I'd trust in a game of brinkmanship.
We can agree on the first statement and disagree quite strongly on the last. Kennedy used the big stick to get involved in the wrong way at the wrong time in Viet Nam and SEA in an effort to show he was tough and boost the economy. Reagan OTOH used the stick marginally well in Libya but blew it totally in Lebanon by NOT using it, thus aiding and abetting Carter before him and Bush 41 after him (note my also non partisan stance ) in failing Brinkmanship 101. Washington attracts incompetents...

Last edited by Ken White; 05-01-2008 at 02:57 AM.
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Old 11-28-2009   #25
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Default Understanding Lawrence's Article 15

Understanding Lawrence's Article 15

Entry Excerpt:

Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them.”
- T.E. Lawrence, Twenty Seven Articles, Article 15

T.E. Lawrence’s quote has become quite possibly the most over-used quotation by the U.S. Army in recent memory. Nearly every military presentation regarding our recent conflicts has some form of it embedded in the text. Nearly all U.S. military officers can parrot it with rote precision. However, application of Lawrence’s wisdom in the field remains spotty. One doesn’t have to look far to find accounts of U.S. soldiers and advisors emulating Larry the Cable Guy’s “Git r’ Dun” philosophy to prevent failure in Iraqi (or Afghan) forces. Sometimes this is required, but too often our own hubris and self-perception as the all-knowing American military overcomes the wisdom of listening to the host nation.

I learned this lesson the hard way in Tal Afar, Iraq. From March-May 2006, my company engaged in a difficult struggle for control of the Hai al Sa’ad neighborhood in the northwest part of the city.



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Old 01-18-2010   #26
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Default Lawrence - by Rory Stewart

Re-opening an old thread is deserved here, plus the first one found that fitted.

Rory Stewart, a sometime UK diplomat and writer, has produced a BBC two-part documentary on Lawrence of Arabia: http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2010/01/awr...+(Kings+of+War)

Just started listening and hopefully will be available beyond the UK (I know sometimes copyright intervenes. Alas comments suggests UK only). Try other routes i.e. BBC website and an Ipod may exist.
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Old 01-18-2010   #27
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.....Just started listening and hopefully will be available beyond the UK (I know sometimes copyright intervenes. Alas comments suggests UK only). Try other routes i.e. BBC website and an Ipod may exist.
Yup, UK only. But you can watch it here:

The Legacy of Lawrence of Arabia

....albeit partially obscured by a box demanding you complete some ridiculous survey and give up some personal info. But if you don't mind a third of the picture being blocked as you listen to the video, it'll work.
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Old 01-19-2010   #28
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Yup, UK only. But you can watch it here:

The Legacy of Lawrence of Arabia

....albeit partially obscured by a box demanding you complete some ridiculous survey and give up some personal info. But if you don't mind a third of the picture being blocked as you listen to the video, it'll work.
Well you can't watch here in the Middle-East. I fear it will be another romantic, hagiography of the old self-publicist, who basically invented himself as a legend and was more or less militarily irrelevant.
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Old 01-19-2010   #29
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Default Two points

Wilf,

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I fear it will be another romantic, hagiography of the old self-publicist, who basically invented himself as a legend and was more or less militarily irrelevant.
The part I listened to last night was far from that, in fact by drawing comparisons between then and now - it appeared to be critical.

Jedburgh,

Thanks for pointing out a place for non-UK readers to find it.
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Old 01-19-2010   #30
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The part I listened to last night was far from that, in fact by drawing comparisons between then and now - it appeared to be critical.
....in the words of the Chemical Brothers "There is hope!"
We need a lot more study of Allenby and a lot less of T.E. Lawrence.

Question: How many biographies and books are there about Allenby? How many are their about Lawrence?
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 01-22-2010   #31
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Question: How many biographies and books are there about Allenby? How many are their about Lawrence?
Who was Allenby?



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Old 01-26-2010   #32
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He was the officer played by Jack Hawkins in the film.
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Old 01-26-2010   #33
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Who was Allenby?
All joking apart the lionising and stroking of T.E. Lawrence has utterly obscured the military genius of the man he worked for, and the endeavours of a great many other people. Writing and studying T.E. Lawrence is an industry, with little or no actual military relevance.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 01-26-2010   #34
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I'll agree with you in part. Portrayals of Lawrence (as well as his own writing) never seem to put his efforts into the larger picture; this leaves many with the idea that he wandered into the desert and led the Arabs to victory. I think you are correct in your assertion that he is something of a tactical lightweight.

However, in my opinion, Lawrence had an excellent ability to understand culture and its "will to war" and published very good points on how to get the right angle of fighting someone else's war. On recollection of my own experiences of serving alongside Afghans, I found that many of his "Twenty-Seven Articles" mirrored my own observations of what worked. Obviously, my observations are not unique nor original - neither were Lawrence's; but they are excellent observations none the less.
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Old 01-26-2010   #35
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However, in my opinion, Lawrence had an excellent ability to understand culture and its "will to war" and published very good points on how to get the right angle of fighting someone else's war. On recollection of my own experiences of serving alongside Afghans, I found that many of his "Twenty-Seven Articles" mirrored my own observations of what worked. Obviously, my observations are not unique nor original - neither were Lawrence's; but they are excellent observations none the less.
I think you have to put that in context.

Across the British Empire there was literally thousands of multi-lingual British Officers, who worked extremely effectively within their area of operations. Guys like Lawrence were not common, but they were far from rare either. His observations were common practice in the British Imperial Army.
Lawrence was not a regular officer, ( thus mostly ignorant of the wider Army) and though adept at fitting in with Arabs, he was remarkably ignorant of how to fit into the Army that paid him. What the British Army leverage was Lawrence's huge emotional affinity for the Bedouin, the exact nature of which is somewhat "obscure".

What Lawrence brought into, encouraged by others, was a hunger for explanation of the carnage of the western front that portrayed there as being a "better way." Sadly, we now know there really wasn't.

Lawrence was relentlessly advertised way beyond his actual insights or ability. If anyone in the US COIN community ever bothered to research UK Irregular warfare in both breadth and depth, they would see Lawrence as far less remarkable.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 01-26-2010   #36
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From Rob's (initial) post

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I think a legitimate argument could be made that if Iran continues to foment distrust against its Arab neighbors across the Gulf, and if it continues to threaten Israel, and if it continues to support terrorism, and if it continues to support proxies, and if it continues to pursue a nuclear program that seems geared toward nuclear armament, then it will create a political context that put it at odds in the region and possibly with regard to much of the West.
Or, seen another way, what of the Saudis and Israelis who work equally diligently to stir up anti-Iranian sentiments in the US? Or both those same states exerting rather ruthless measures against dissenting members of their own populaces under a U.S. sanction of "counterterrorism"?

This is definitely an example of where one stands is very much shaped by where one sits (and watches their respective local/national news). The U.S. is a babe in the woods when it comes to Middle Eastern intrigue, and gets played like a fiddle by many of the same states that we think we are playing instead. We need to be careful or we will end up in the middle of something that we just really don't either need, or want, to be in the middle of.
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Old 01-26-2010   #37
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I think you have to put that in context.

Across the British Empire there was literally thousands of multi-lingual British Officers, who worked extremely effectively within their area of operations. Guys like Lawrence were not common, but they were far from rare either.
Agreed - just reading a bit into Britain's experience in the Raj will find you a host of "unconventional" soldiers who insert themselves into the culture they were fighting in. I remember a passage from Slim where he talks about being tired and mistakenly giving a speech to his Indian soldiers in Gurkali as opposed to Hindi (or the opposite).

Lawrence just had a good publicist and serves as the "icon" for this type of soldier - I guess he is worthy of study in that regard as he does of some good things to say. For some reason, it has gone beyond that to the point where an Armoured CO who packs up his heavy vehicles and roams around the desert conducting disrupt operations is labelled the "Next Lawrence"....

So...do you think a movement should be to name Patreaus the next Allenby?
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Old 01-26-2010   #38
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Default Regrettably true. Way too true...

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...The U.S. is a babe in the woods when it comes to Middle Eastern intrigue, and gets played like a fiddle by many of the same states that we think we are playing instead. We need to be careful or we will end up in the middle of something that we just really don't either need, or want, to be in the middle of.
We've been falling for it since FDR made deals with Ibn Saud and agreed with Churchill and Stalin that Mohammed Reza Pahlavi should succeed his Pappy.

Carter didn't help...
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Old 01-26-2010   #39
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Default BBC documentary Part 2

Part 2 was broadcast here the other day: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode...bia_Episode_2/

Part 1 is no longer available on the BBC IPod link posted and yes I know many cannot view BBC programmes.

I enjoyed it and setting the "lessons learned" in the contemporary Middle East is interesting and Leavenworth gets a small mention too.
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Old 01-26-2010   #40
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George Patton met Allenby during the Great War, presumably when he was an aide to Pershing. Acording to the Carlo D'Este Patton biography, Allenby told Patton that "for every Napoleon. Alexander, and Jesus Christ that made roles of [sic] history, there were several born. Only the lucky ones made it to the summit."
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