Monday, January 31, 2005

And why are Egyptian diplomats engaging in witness tampering and obstruction of justice in a New Jersey murder investigation ?

Continuing the review of the deleted scene on the Rule-set shift after the Cold War, usual format prevails with Dr. Barnett's text in bold:

"A sixth rule set change emerges directly the previous: our definition of problem Third World states. During the Cold War we called them "client states," and they belonged either to our bloc or the other guy's. During the nineties, these largely fragile states typically failed to attract the generous sponsorship of any major power, and in many instances collapsed into endemic internal conflict, and so we called them "failed states." But after 9/11, the new rule set says that the states we tended to ignore over the nineties, or the ones that became increasingly disconnected from the global community, became havens for such dangerous transnational terrorist networks as Al Qaeda. So now we pay very close attention to these "disconnected states."

Several comments here come to mind. Decolonization was roughly a thirty year process of retreat by the Europeans starting with the British in India and ending with the Portuguese in Africa when the creaky Salazar regime collapsed. In their wake was left a variety of new states of varying degrees of nationalist " authenticity" and indigenous governmental competence. Some were highly artificial, ethnic crazy-quilts that were the chance accidents of the routes of 19th century white explorers claiming land for king and country. Others, like India, had extensive cadres of western educated nationals and a decades of civil service experience.

The artificial states were held together mainly by the intrinsic pressure of a local " Big Man" ruler who enjoyed clientage with the United States or the USSR and the extrinsic pressure of superpower resistance to sanctioning changes in borders from old-fashioned wars of annexation. You could subvert a neighbor but you could not readily absorb them and expect to have your ill-gotten gains be recognized. These artificial states, already " fragile" were further weakened by extensive looting and the whole appearance of places like the Congo(Zaire) was a gradual loss of all momentum from colonial days as the system leaked energy and regressed toward the Hobbesian state of anarchy in which the Europeans had found it.

When the East-West rivalry vanished, externally-imposed political barriers to globalization vanished in the Third World. After the collapse of Communism we only spoke of a " North-South" divide for a few years in the early 1990's. The rise of the Asian tigers and Russia's economic implosion soon made that concept an ill-fitting term as some " Southern" nations like Malaysia and India demonstrated their readiness for connectivity. Globalization avoided states where autarkic, despotic, rulers like Kim JongIl, Saddam Hussein, Hafez Assad and Burma's generals kept their societies behind a secret police firewall. Disconnection became a political survival strategy for the orphaned client state dictatorships of the Cold War.

"Our concerns about such disconnected states yields a rule-set shift in the area of weapons of mass destruction. The old Cold War rule set said arms control was the way to go in controlling a stand-off with an enemy we knew -- deep down -- we could deter. In the 1990s, a misalignment emerged thanks to our over-reliance on the instrument of sanctions to stem what we feared would be a "fire sale" of WMD from the collapsed Soviet Bloc states to rogue nations. As Al Qaeda proved on 9/11, mass deaths can be achieved without recourse to WMD, and yet, does anyone doubt Osama Bin Laden would have used WMD on 9/11 if he had had the capability? So now the new rule set says that, rather than hoping sanctions will be enough, America preempts in those special situations where we judge the "bad actors" in question are potentially undeterrable."

As bad as the Soviets were - and frankly they were horrible - their own self-interest mandated keeping a number of bad actors and potential loose cannons in line, lest they get blamed for some outrage. The Soviets, through cut-outs like East Germany, Romania and Cuba, trained a lot of terrorists including Arab terrorists of the secular, Third World, radical, variety. The politburo kept a tight rein on the approval of assassinations in the West and simply would not have permitted Abu Nidal, Yasser Arafat or Carlos " the Jackal" to pull off an operation like 9/11. Even the Iranians had qualms about doing one of their Hezbollah-style truck bombings inside the United States itself and were quick to disavow any responsibility after the Oklahoma City bombing.

Today there is no other countervailing pressure on al Qaida type catastrophic terrorism other than what the United States can bring to bear preemptively or in sure retaliation. After Afghanistan, Iranian hardliners are now aware that sponsoring terror they cannot control could bring a very high price. So they will stick to terror they can control through reliable clients and so long as they do not deal too obviously with al Qaida operations the United States will not attack and the EU will not enact sanctions.

The United States must construct a credible nuclear deterrence policy for non-state actors and their societal supporters who act in contradiction to or independently of their own government's policies. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia come to mind here. While these regimes are friendly, within reason, we dare not let it be thought that elements in those countries that support radical Islamism could attempt to facilitate nuclear terrorism aganst the United States without bringing the gravest of consequences on their own heads and their nations. Furthermore, we must have " buy-in" from the rest of the Core on making nuclear terror both as unattractive and as difficult to execute as we possibly can manage.

Next, in Part IV, preemption and its alternatives.

End Part III.

First, Collounsbury has been relatively busy on MENA topics, always worth reading. Secondly, Dave Schuyler has a post " What do you believe that you cannot prove?" that links to a site with supremely bright ( ex. Freeman Dyson) folks answering the same question. I had a comment at Glittering Eye on Howard Gardner's answer.

I'm looking forward to the end of home renovations this week that will provide me with a) a new floor b) new and considerably more comfortable office furniture and c) extended shelving that will allow me to uncrate the thousands of books that are filling my garage. Thus, putting my library- or at least most of it - within easy blogging reach and actually allowing the garage to be used for a car.

And...Mrs. Zenpundit gets a new bedroom set.
Sunday, January 30, 2005

Early signs are hopeful. The results are going to be spun but its going to be interesting to see how the anti-war crowd spins a 72 % voter turn-out under threats of horrific violence into a dismal failure for democracy when the United States could not muster that kind of participation if we made election day a national holiday.

The election won't solve all of Iraq's problems but it was a first not only for Iraq but for the Arab world. The Bush administration, though they should have done scheduled elections long ago, deserves credit. The brave Iraqi voter, deserves even more.


The initial reaction of the Arab press.


In the wake of a successful Iraqi vote, Liberal senators scurry to distance themselves from Ted Kennedy's overt defeatism ( the GOP should thank old Ted for reminding the public that as badly as the Bush administration screwed up the occupation of Iraq, the Democratic wing of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party stands ever ready to screw things up even worse).


Juan Cole looks for the cloud in the silver lining. Al Jazaeerah describes a purported 50 % turn-out in Saddam Hussein's Sunni heartland as " Confusion ".


It's another dark day for the wingnuts who now dominate Kevin's comments board, though not as bad as last November.
Saturday, January 29, 2005

Coming from an academic background in diplomatic and economic history that was heavy in archival research, I've read a lot of documents, diaries and memoirs of a kind that just aren't terribly likely to be seen again. One legacy of special prosecutors and " gotcha" journalism is that heavy-hitting statesmen today seldom keep the type of candid personal records their predecessors once did, much less tape recording conversations like LBJ and Nixon. What Stanley Kutler has done in his career will not be repeated by future historians. We're never going to have that kind of certainty of what really happened in the Oval Office ever again.

Which is a shame, not just for the historical record itself but for the intelligent student of public affairs. Presidents are subject to unending personal abuse to the extent that we forget that even the ones we generally considered mediocre were, at a minimum, shrewd and canny politicians. Jimmy Carter, often reviled for being "weak", crushed Ted Kennedy into the dirt when the bloated scion of Hyannisport challenged Carter for the presidency. Moreover, the best men who became Commander-in-Chief often had keen intellects and great insight into human behavior, history and philosopy. A few of them could legitimately have been described as geniuses.

In short, there's a lot of presidents who would have made excellent bloggers !

The first two that come to mind are John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. If you haven't read some of their correspondence, you should. The back and forth exchange, writing for history, for themselves and for the Republic, they established a literary dialogue that is without peer. As a blogger Adams would have been the more tart and the more frequent poster. If the marginalia of his personal papers are any indication, Adams would have been an entertaining, curmudgeonly, partisan. Jefferson would have penned longer, more elegant, posts than Adams and let his blog lapse into silence for long periods of time. Nothing of a personal nature would have crept into Jefferson's posts but the sheer range of topics on his blog would have been fascinating. To have matched Jefferson in this regard we would have had to have given Leonardo DaVinci and Aristotle their own Blogger accounts.

Two others who would have been naturals in the blogosphere were Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. Truman was a serious reader of history, caustic in his judgements, sometimes letting his temper get the better of him. Harry Truman as a blogger would have had a lively comments section with readers reacting to his unvarnished opinions which would have been more like Truman appears in Plain Speaking than in his autobiography. Ronald Reagan, contrary to liberal myth, was a fine writer and thinker in his day, with a smooth touch even when he was driving home his point. Reagan probably would have cut a more modest figure in the blogosphere than he did in politics. The Gipper was, first of all, a master of presentation and delivery which are intangible qualities of personal charisma, hard to translate into prose. Secondly Ronald Reagan was simply too nice and gentlemanly in an old-fashioned way to mix it up the way bloggers do.

Abraham Lincoln we must include because of the Gettysburg Address, which is short enough to be a post, and for Lincoln's humor and insight into human nature. Teddy Roosevelt, amateur historian and one of America's first media celebrities, would have tried to take the blogosphere by the throat. " T.R.'s Corner" would have been a colorful, blustering, blog. Teddy's daughter Alice would have had one too and her lethal wit would have given Wonkette a run for her money. Richard Nixon was angry enough to be a blogger but his paranoia and insecurity about his image would have drained his blog of the real expertise and analytical brilliance Nixon had to offer on foreign affairs and politics.

John F. Kennedy would have had a blog but Ted Sorensen would have done all of the posts. And it would have ranked at the top of the Ecosystem.

I'm still too tired to do an extended commentary but there were a few things that I found interesting to read over the last few days:

TM Lutas " Garbage Cans and Pressure Cookers". In reference to Peggy Noonan, whom I like, TM reminds us that elegant prose doesn't always mean particularly deep thinking.

Praktike, preaching among the heathen, at Dean Nation. In all seriousness, I hope people like prak and Paul Berman succeed in their endeavors. Right and Left in this country should be able to disagree on all aspects of political economy while standing on a common ground in regard to the apalling threat Islamist terror poses toward free societies.

Of course, the Rule-Set Reset ( never let it be said that I am above shameless self-promotion).

The website for The Muslim American Society. I've perused it and while these folks are not Islamist extremists they are not going to be first in line to criticize radical Islamism either. Or perhaps even get in that line at all.

For the Anglophiles, two posts from Geitner Simmons- " Hitler in London " and " Decline of the Aristocrats" - informative and well-crafted as always.

From Coming Anarchy ( great name for a blog) a review of PNM.

Dan at tdaxp fisks Juan Cole's latest on Doug Feith.

JB at riting on the wall deconstructs " Liberal Democracy".
Friday, January 28, 2005

Limping along with a semi-flu condition all week has left me too disconnected to blog properly. I have plenty of ideas I want to flesh out but the mental spark to connect thought and action has been lost in a miasma of wine and Nyquil.

I'm going to bed.

Dr. Milt Rosenberg of Milt's File, WGN 720 AM " Extension 720" and the University of Chicago had on his radio program last night Steve Coll, author of the highly regarded Ghost Wars:The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. The discussion turned to the possibility of nuclear terrorism by al Qaida so I took the initiative to ask a question ( via email) that Marc Shulman, Dave Schuyler, Andrew and I debated a while back regarding the potential deterrence effect of indicating that the United States, in the event of al Qaida detonating a nuclear weapon on American soil, would target Mecca for a retaliatory nuclear strike.

Dr. Rosenberg was kind enough to read my question to Mr. Coll who responded( I'll have to paraphrase)

" This is exactly the sort of question that I would hope is being discussed in the National Security Council ".

He went on to indicate that such a stance would as a side-effect, have a huge, probably negative, effect on the war of ideas aspect of the Terror War. It was a very interesting program which presumably, will be available in Dr. Rosenberg's audio archive, if it isn't already. Coll is also, by the way, in the midst of his next book on Islamist terrorism with a focus on Saudi Arabia.
Thursday, January 27, 2005

World leaders gathered today at Auschwitz to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the industrial killing center created by the Nazis that has forever defined the terms "death camp" and "Genocide" in the public mind. The vow " Never Again" was made then and renewed today.

The best possible tribute to the victims of Nazi genocide would not be ceremonies or pious incantations of memory but for the world to actually try to stop the next one.

In Cambodia, when the Khmer Rouge marched city dwellers out into the countryside and created fields of human bones only Israel's ambassador stood up in the UN and demanded that something be done. Nothing was done. Had not the mad and sinister Pol Pot not ordered a quixotic invasion of Cambodia's brother Communist state of Vietnam, thus provoking Hanoi to conquer Cambodia, Pol Pot might still be in power. A quarter of a century later, the surviving architects of the killing fields remain unpunished.

In Ethiopia, the Communist government of Colonel Haile Menghistu Mariam, larded with Soviet military aid and Cuban advisors, starved a million people to death. The response of the West was to sing " We are the World".

Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds, massacred the Shiites and destroyed the Marsh Arab minority and with his power broken he sits in a cell untried and defiant while European diplomats and NGO's withold needed forensic expertise for fear that an Iraqi tribunal might sentence Saddam to death for his crimes.

How many Bosnians disappeared into Slobodon Milosevic's Night and Fog ?

Where was Kofi Annan when the Interhamwe hacked 800,000 Rwandans to death and General Dallaire was begging his UN superiors for help ?

Where now is the world when the Janjaweed rides ?

Never Again ?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005
"PLAN B------T"

Dave Schuyler of The Glittering Eye posted on a bit of fuzzy headed nonsense today regarding an alternative plan B to having a democratic election in Iraq from Abu Khaleel of Iraqi Letter to America. I don't blame Mr. Khaleel for wanting foreign troops to leave his country in a general sense but I'm having a hard time crediting that his Plan B is meant with any seriousness. Here it is, my comments will be in regular text:

"1. US maintains present course and status for a month but will only act in self defense and to preserve the peace and will not go after "insurgents" or carry out random searches and arrests, etc. during that month."

Unilateral concessions to a multiheaded, 4GW insurgency of notorious inhumanity will result in the insurgency becoming the de facto government in waiting. Any latent Iraqi will to support a democratic regime will fold as local notables go into hiding or flee for their lives to avoid the inevitable killing fields style massacres that will begin as the Americans withdraw. Capital will flee too, so whatever nascent economic activty that currently exists in Iraq will vanish.

This is already a dumb plan. Not just for Iraq but for anywhere.

"2. US announces and implements an immediate freeze on the building of permanent military bases in Iraq. If there is no such intention (!) they can publicly and categorically state their policy in this regard."

This would be a relatively meaningless concession though I'm not sure if either the Bush administration or Abu Khaleel realizes it.

"3. The US goes to the UN to help establish, within 2-4 weeks, a "International Council for Iraq" (ICI). Two alternatives are possible:"

Been there and done that several times already. Legitimacy does not flow from the UN, it flows from the consent of the governed. In any event, the radical Islamists and al Qaida view the UN as an " un-Islamic " Western puppet show. The Baathists too have every incentive here to keep fighting as they simply do not want the Yankees out of Iraq, they want us out and a Sunni-Baathist dictatorship in power.

"A council of 15 members each nominated by a UN Security Council member state and approved by a majority of the other members.

A council of 5 members of internationally respected figures nominated by the UN General Assembly and approved by the UN Security Council.

This council is to act as the supreme authority for running the country in the interim period of 6 months."

A rearrangement of deck chairs and catchy UN-speak acronyms.

"4. The US reiterates its intention to withdraw completely from Iraq at the request of the ICI or a democratically elected government."

So the insurgency can kill them with less inconvenience.

"5. Work out a UN Security Council resolution to "guarantee" the continuity of democracy in Iraq, under chapter 7 of the UN Charter (which authorizes the use of force). This is to guarantee that no military coup or other means of force are used to overthrow the newly born democracy of Iraq for a number of years. Iraq is already an international problem in many respects."

The quotation marks were well-placed by Mr. Khaleel. The guarantee will be worth about as much as the paper resolutions in stopping a military coup by the ARVN - sorry - new Iraqi army, to say nothing of stopping the insurgents.

"6. Place the Multi-national forces now in Iraq as well as the Iraqi army, police, etc. under the political authority of the ICI."

The track record of UN peacekeepers in Rwanda and Bosnia comes to mind here.

"7. The ICI is given an international mandate for six months to establish a democratic government in Iraq, without any conditions on its conduct apart from the objectives mentioned above and normal financial auditing."

We will go through all these diplomatic charades to do in six months exactly what will be done on Sunday ( and should have been done six months ago). Actually the ICI personnel would not survive to form a democratic government unless Mr. Khaleel intends that they will govern Iraq from New York city.

"8. Let this "council of the wise" find its own solution without interference or pressure. I would only like to add that all its deliberations and activities should be made public."

If I was Collounsbury and not Zenpundit I would as what kind of childish, fucking, nonsense is this ? Since I am not I will instead point out that councils of "wise men" get things done behind closed doors because the sort of messy but necessary deals required to achieve the greater good of stabilizing Iraq cannot get done with Chistine Amanpour sticking a microphone in everyone's face on CNN live feed. That's why they are wise men and not bloggers kibbitzing from the sidelines. This whole fantasy is little other than UNtopian wishful thinking that would accelerate Iraq toward a full-scale civil war.

Dave Schuyler had a good analysis:

"The invasion of Iraq, the removal of Saddam Hussein, and the attempt to establish democracy in Iraq is our Plan B. We abandoned our long-standing Hamiltonian Plan A on dealing with the Middle East before noon on September 11, 2001. This was the realist plan that Brent Scowcroft among others continues to foster. Been there. Done that. Ain't goin' back there anymore.

Plan B is GWB's Wilsonian plan for remaking the Middle East and, as we learned in his second inaugural address, the world. The success of Plan B is not assured. It will receive its next great test at the end of this week. If in the succeeding weeks and months it proves to be a failure, I don't anticipate our re-trying it under UN auspices (as Abu Khaleel suggests) or returning to Plan A. I think I know my countrymen well enough to believe that our distrust of the UN is sufficient that Abu Khaleel's Plan B is a non-starter. And I believe that 9/11 taught us that economic realism is too slender a twig for a re-trial of that.

No, if the grand plan for democratization is seen to be a failure, I think it's far more likely that we'll go to Plan C which will be founded on one of the other historic strains of American foreign policy: the Jeffersonian or the Jacksonian. The Jeffersonian (isolationist) response will leave the rest of the world to stew in its own juices. And I won't outline what a full Jacksonian response would be. All I'll say is, Abu Khaleel my friend, you wouldn't like us when we're angry."

Economic connectivity, like democracy, will create cultural change in the Arab world but for that to happen we need to establish security first. If not in all of Iraq then at least in a reasonably large portion of it, gradually shrinking the zone of entropy and death over time.

The first ( and most importantly, FREE !) issue of The Rule-Set Reset is now available for your perusal. This month's line-up includes Dr. Thomas Barnett, Dr. Robert Jacobson, TM Lutas, Brice Timmons and your humble host here at Zenpundit. I had expected something more along the lines of the standard PDF file but Bob Jacobson, Critt Jarvis and Steff Hedenkamp produced a very slick looking e-zine.

For subscriber information, visit The New Rule-Set Project.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Hmmm. As I view Zenpundit on blogger I have a blogroll but when I go to the blog from my browser the blogroll has mysteriously vanished this evening.

What are you objective readers seeing ? I'm trying to figure out what's up.

Noted liberal blogger Kevin Drum had a less than evanescent review of The Pentagon's New Map the other day that I found fairly disappointing. Not that Kevin disagreed so much as that he didn't seem to have really grasped Dr. Barnett's argument well enough to spark an intelligent discussion in the comments section. There was some thoughtful criticism near the end plus Critt and TM Lutas put in an appearance but in the main Kevin's audience, few of whom actually read the book, seemed to be firmly convinced that PNM was an imperialist, neoconservative, plot.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Marc Shulman has an excellent post up today on an LA Weekly piece by John Powers assessing the state of the Left, from Wingnut to moderate liberal, in America. The piece was a good deal more honest as a self-assessment of the state of the American Left than other examples of its kind but he avoided two conundrums.

First, the Left already has better funded think-tanks and foundations than the Right by far. Ford, Carnegie, MacArthur, Rockefeller, Heinz are all Left of center and awash in billions. George Soros alone is a walking, talking grant machine. The problem is, as Powers noted, a shortage of ideas.

The ideas are short because the Left's emotive rejection of " ultraglobalized capitalism" remains an intractable stumbling block to coming up with a constructive and attractive program of political economy. Any attempt by a left politician or intellectual to devise solutions that work by respecting market realities ( i.e. reality) is attacked on the Left by purists long before Right-wing gets around to taking political potshots. Clinton had the political acumen to run that gauntlet but he also had the right enemies ( literally) whose bitter opposition to Clinton energized many on the Left to defend Clinton whatever the cost to ideological purity.

Economic laws continue to work even if the government passes programs and regulations that defy their logic. The symptoms may change - shortages of goods instead of higher prices during an inflation - but the laws of the market cannot be repealed by the fiat of human will. Many on the Left either refuse to except this or just assume that the costs of defying the market are acceptable or can be remediated with enough governmental control.

The second conundrum is not intractable but is tactical. The decent Left is too small in terms of a percentage of the population to win national elections once you remove both centrist swing voting moderates and the authoritarian Left. Republicans can sometimes ( 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2004) peel off the centrist vote, so leaders of the Democratic Party and liberals generally are unwilling to forgo their costly alliance with the undemocratic Left who provide so much energy, money and non-stop organizational effort in attacking the GOP and the Right. Buffoons like Michael Moore and sinister crazies like the members of ANSWER and the TIDES network receive a level of tolerance by mainstream Leftists that indicates that " No enemies on the Left " is still the unofficial slogan.

Dropping the unsavory, authoritarian and anti-American kooks means a generation in the political wilderness of hard work persuading centrists to convert into reliable liberals and partisan Democratic voters. Dave Schuyler in Marc's comments section alluded to a broad philosophical adherence to the premises of the French Revolution, the values of equality and collectivism by the American Left over the liberty and individualsm promoted by the American Revolution. I think that was a perceptive analysis. This is a psychological and political rubicon the moderate Left fears to cross.

Change will come when the moderate Left decides that they have more in common with fellow democrats on the Right than with the egalitarian but undemocratic statists to their Left.

UPDATE: Praktike took me to task in the comments section regarding the link on the activities of the TIDES groups. He also provided me with the TIDES rebuttal to charges of secretive wingnuttery, for which I am appreciative. Most interesting was the TIDES list of grant recipients which was of staggering length. TIDES grants mostly to mainstream liberal causes and not a few apolitical groups. They also grant to wingnuts along the way, like the National Lawyers Guild and groups far more obscure. So therefore I'm leaving up the earlier link but adding praktike's here in the update so that readers may make up their own minds regarding TIDES.
Sunday, January 23, 2005

Disgusting. Really.


The always ghoulish Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released a new tape declaring that democratic governance itself was blasphemous and that everyone involved in the Iraqi election, candidates, election officials and voters - all of them - should be killed:

"We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it....Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion," [he said, and that is ]"against the rule of God....Americans to promote this lie that is called democracy ... You have to be careful of the enemy's plots that involve applying democracy in your country and confront these plots, because they only want to do so to ... give the rejectionists[ Shiites?] the rule of Iraq. And after fighting the Baathists ... and the Sunnis, they will spread their insidious beliefs, and Baghdad and all the Sunni areas will become Shiite. Even now, the signs of infidelity and polytheism are on the rise....For all these issues, we declared war against, and whoever helps promote this and all those candidates, as well as the voters, are also part of this, and are considered enemies of God"

To further accent the point, Zarqawi's group beheaded a couple of hapless Iraqis.

The more I hear of Zarqawi's messages in context with his group's terror tactics the more he seems like a fetishistic serial killer using Islamist mummery as window dressing. All of the voters are enemies of God? Millions of fellow Arab Sunni Muslims ?

Say what you want about Osama bin Laden but he isn't out to annihilate his own people on a flimsy pretext by beheading them one or two at a time.

UPDATE: Also posting on the impish Mr. Abu Zarqawi....
Marc Shulman at the American Future...
On a somewhat related tangent, TM Lutas....
Bill Roggio at Fourth Rail....
Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch.....
Evan Kohlmann at Counterterrorism blog also has an image from the video...
Omar at Iraq the Model...
Peter Schramm at No Left Turns....
Dan at tdaxp ( new to the blogroll ! Welcome !) looks at the potential effects of Zarqawi's ranting...
Praktike at Liberals Against Terrorism, asks if Zarqawi is a "Fascist "
Donald Sensing thinks Zarqawi has been " suckered".
Saturday, January 22, 2005

Further posting will have to be delayed until the evening as I am headed to a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party for the Firstborn of Zenpundit to which a horde of kindergarten and pre-K age barbarians have been invited. Contemplating the use of earplugs for several hours of high-decibel shrieking.

"Let them eat cake".
Friday, January 21, 2005

Continuing the review of the deleted scene on the Rule-set shift after the Cold War, usual format prevails with Dr. Barnett's text in bold:

"A fourth rule-set change concerns how we define the major divisions in the international security environment. During the Cold War, it was the West versus the East. In the nineties, most assumed the dividing line would lie between the North (rich) and the South (poor), with the first Persian Gulf War signaling the beginning of resource-focused conflicts between advanced states which lacked key raw materials and developing economies that possessed them in abundance. But as globalization grows more pronounced and visible, the new rule set becomes the division between the connected or globalizing economies of the world (Core) and those which are largely disconnected from the global economy (Gap). In the past we asked, "Are you with us or against us?" From now on, the question becomes, "Are you in or are you out?"

This was a key observation by Dr. Barnett because our bipartisan foreign policy elite was caught in some kind of bizarre doublethink during much of the 1990's. On one level - primarily rhetorical- they recognized that the Soviet collapse, globalization, China's liberalization and the advent of the information economy was an epochal change on part with the rise of the Postwar-ColdWar world after the Second World War. On the substantive political and bureaucratic level the elite resisted tooth and nail the need to internalize that insight and make the real and strategic changes in our national security, defense, intelligence and foreign policies that the United States was making in economic policy.

It was a very weird disconnect, or so it appeared to me, to have these very bright folks in the Bush I. and Clinton administrations assuming structures like NATO would just cruise along undisturbed or with minor tweaking when the fundamental reason for the alliance's existence had disappeared. The Pentagon complemented this unrealism about the diverging self-interests of our allies by continuing a defense posture designed to stop the disbanded Warsaw Pact in the Fulda Gap.

The The good news is, from perusing the recent issues of Foreign Affairs, it seems that this group is starting to get it. 9/11 had something to do with the change, though the obvious lessons there have been resisted as well. Bush's re-election has also helped inculcate the idea that the old world of the elite is not going to return but I am also confident that The Pentagon's New Map has made a difference. Dr. Barnett's book is being read in the power bureaucracies and the think tanks and by the opinion-makers of the old media and in the blogosphere. And slowly - one might say, glacially - favored but outmoded conceits about how the world really works are starting to be dropped. It's a cultural shift in the governmental class to a new idealistic realism.

"A fifth rule set shift involves the difference in defining strategic success. In the Cold War, strategic success could be simply paraphrased as "hold that line." So long as the Soviet bloc was not expanding, we were winning, because it was our contention that the socialist states would weaken and collapse over time. The mistake assumption we made over the 1990s was to assume that the "bad stuff," or conflicts of the international security environment could be safely kept "outside, over there." That was, in fact, the unstated motto of …From the Sea: we wanted to "keep it over there" and -- by doing so -- keep America safe. After 9/11, we know how self-deluding that sort of security strategy really is. Because if there is enough pain "over there," eventually we will be made to feel it "over here." Therefore, "holding the line" between globalization's Core and Gap is not even an option. We cannot wait for the Gap to weaken and collapse; that is already happening and the major reason why security issues there abound. Now the status quo is our enemy and our motto becomes, "shrink the Gap."

Soviet Communism was, in the main, an enemy that represented a centripetal force in world affairs for America. Borders between the Soviet bloc and the West were as stark as the phrase " Iron Curtain" that described them and as menacing as North Korea's disconnected Stalinist regime remains today. The self-imposed isolation of the Soviets inadvertantly helped America's " hold that line" strategy succeed. The end of the USSR and Communism was a great triumph but the high tension of the nuclear stalemate of the Cold War also had acted as a a terrific extrinsic pressure on the behavior of all other states. Actions were measured in terms of the likelihood of a superpower response and the potential dangers of an escalation to nuclear war.

It is no accident that when the Soviets were on their last legs in 1990 Saddam felt safe enough to launch a war of conquest. Minor powers could now, freed from superpower tutelage, become players in their own right again. The collapse of Commnism had reversed the strategic paradigm - the world was now buffeted by centrifugal forces of nationalism and terrorism that caused multinational states to discorporate even as globalization began to re-connect the pieces along economic lines. Many states that had recently been dismissed as autocratic" developing countries" but had adapted early to the reset Rule-set of Globalization suddenly were revealed to be liberalizing " tigers ". The world had been turned upside down.

End Part II.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

" Kinshasa, CONGO (Reuters) Combat troops from the 2nd Mitsubishi Mobile Infantry arrived today to join those of the Northrup AirCav division fighting under contract with the UN alongside NATO, EU and American forces struggling to crush the New Lord's Resistance Army rebels responsible for an unprecedented genocide in the Congo basin. President Condi Rice welcomed the move today at the White House, declaring that the new troops " Demonstrated the UN's new commitment to action rather than words..."

A fantasy ? Perhaps. Nevertheless the rise of non-state actors, the decline of fully-functional sovereign nation-states and the anarchic conditions of the Gap are all helping revive the age-old tradition of private military service. Even someone as well-connected as the son of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has gotten involved in mercenary activity. In Iraq and Afghanistan the United States already relies heavily upon Private Military Companies to do everything from logistical supply work to actual combat-related security. What conditions will exist a quarter of a century from now ?

The grisly pictures we saw from Fallujah of the burned bodies of American contractors being strung up from a bridge by a frenzied Iraqi mob not only shocked much of the world but drew public attention to the increasingly important role played by private military companies (PMC) in the occupation of Iraq. Once an obscure and shadowy fringe associated with Soldier of Fortune reading amateurs and colorful 1970’s thugs like " Mad Mike " Hoare and French supported mercenary Colonel Bob Denard, PMCs have graduated to the ranks of big business. PMCs like Blackwater, Dyncorp, Kroll, Sandline, Erinys, Global Risk, Meteoric Tactical Services and others followed the trail blazed by South Africa’s defunct Executive Outcomes, offering professional military services and advanced training by contract to legitimate governments. The increasing prominence of PMCs in Colombia, Bosnia, Haiti and Iraq has not gone entirely unnoticed on the political Left. Peter W. Singer of Brookings (author of Corporate Warriors) and left-wing Congresswoman Jan Schakowski (D-Ill.) have called for greater regulation of PMCs and executive accountability for their use . ( go here for Singer's views) To the influential blogger KOS, the PMC employees killed in Fallujah were simply "mercs" with all the sinister implications that the term " mercenary " implies.

Despite sporadic attempts to outlaw private military activities by convention or UN fiat, most of what would be commonly regarded as " mercenary " activity is not illegal or even well-defined under American or international law. Numerous loopholes written into the legal definition in Protocol I. to the Geneva Convention permit governments to legitimize the use of mercenaries on the flimsiest of pretexts. The specific and convoluted definition of mercenary activity is as follows:

"Article 47.-Mercenaries

1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.

2. A mercenary is any person who:

(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict; (b) Does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;
(c) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;
(d) Is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;
(e) Is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and
(f) Has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces"

The definition can be easily skirted by state-actors by any number of ways and by individuals who can attest or demonstrate motivations other than financial gain such as ideology. As one scholar noted, it would only be " stupid mercenaries " who would be prosecuted under these terms. The world’s most famous mercenary unit, the French Foreign Legion, for example, are legally considered " regulars". Military historian John Keegan by contrast, defined mercenaries as "…those who sell military services for money – though also for such inducements as grants of land, admission to citizenship…or preferential treatment" and regulars as "Mercenaries who already enjoy citizenship…but choose military service as a means of subsistence" .

Warfare has historically produced armies organized on one of the following models – Popular, Caste and Professional – each having particular advantages and weaknesses. Popular armies are those which Americans are most familiar due to our recent history of large armies of draftees that dominated battlefields from the Civil War to the war in Vietnam. Popular armies are relatively egalitarian in nature and reflect a broad swath of their society where military service is either obligatory for citizens under conscription or highly esteemed. Machiavelli thought the popular basis of military service to be so sound that much of his Discourses on Livy is a paean to the allegedly virtuous legions of the Roman Republic, where command and glory was a prerequisite for political advancement.

Where ambition or patriotism failed, a popular army could be assembled through conscription that provided a steady and enduring base of the great military powers of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, as De Tocqueville predicted, such mass armies of a popular character have proven to result in savage warfare. Total War and War of Attrition became tempting strategies for generals and statesmen who see mass armies as the key to the enemy’s unconditional surrender. Such strategies are becoming ill-suited to a globalized, interconnected world because of the " blowback" in terms of economic damage that results and the political uproar such tactics tend to cause in parts of the Core, notably Europe.

We need more precise trigger-pullers these days - hence the emphasis Donald Rumsfeld has given to SOCOM troops and strategy in the GWOT. This environment also is causing the rise in PMC's by placing an economic premium on professional military talents. Instead of trying to hold back the sea, the United States should try to incorporate PMC's into the fabric of accepted international norms so that the emphasis is more upon setting uniform standards of behavior and accountability for all fighters on a battlefield, rather than attempting to suppress what nations faced with insecurity will do through the backdoor.

UPDATE: The Pentagon decides to pay top dollar to SOCOM's most valuable soldiers.

First, John Lewis Gaddis in Foreign Affairs on Grand strategy in a Second Term. I find remarkably little to disagree with in this essay ( which usually indicates that I should be reading more critically) which often parallels what I wrote about the Bush administration for HNN - minus my direct references to PNM Theory, though Gaddis has better prose and more gravitas.

Critt Jarvis, the proprietor of Systemperturbations and technical wizard of NRSP on Mosul. Critt it turns out, also has a background in military intelligence and his son is stationed in Mosul.

A World Without Israel in Foreign Policy by Josef Joffe. Joffe often writes for The National Interest but publishes Die Zeit.

A reflective post with a link by JB at riting on the wall on history's forgotten genocide.

Colin Powell says goodbye. ( Hat tip New Sisyphus )

And to lighten the mood, from CNN, an amusing story that makes a good argument for reforming the jury system.

That's it.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I have not yet commented upon the Hersh piece regarding Iran *yet because I am coincidentally finishing The Persian Puzzle by Kenneth Pollack and I'm digesting what he has to say and how he said it. My preliminary compliment is that I learned some things I was not aware of previously and that Pollock does an excellent job, former NSC staffer that he is, in terms of laying out the pros and cons of various policy options with Iran. Here's an interesting quote to juxtapose with the recent news:

"...as part of the Third Track[ Pollack's diplomatic strategy], the United States should make a major intelligence effort-akin to the increase in our efforts against al Qa'eda after 9/11- to gather information regarding Iran's nuclear program in the hope of developing a viable counterproliferation strike option"

* Hersh, incidentally, does not understand his history if he believes the Bush II administration even remotely approaches the iron-clad and centralized control over the IC and ability to execute genuinely covert operations exercised by Eisenhower.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Freud had an apt term for the reaction of some European leaders to the new Airbus.
Monday, January 17, 2005

Collounsbury has an exceptional essay on economic relations, risk aversion, time horizons and the state in the Middle-East and North Africa region and how that rule-set differs from Western, patricularly Anglo-Saxon, market norms. Should be read in full and I highly recommend it - particularly to those interested in PNM Theory, the GWOT or economics.

I decided that with Dr. Barnett swiftly tapping out his sequel to The Pentagon's New Map, that I would try to review a few more of the important deleted scenes that were excised from that book. Because my first area of historical interest is the Cold War I'm going to tackle Deleted Scene # 1 "Rule-set Shifts From Cold War To Current Era" first in several parts.
My commentary will be in the regular text, Dr. Barnett's in bold.

"Let me offer a dozen examples of the rule set shifts I think we have undergone since the end of the Cold War, but which were not apparent to us until 9/11.

First and most obviously, in the Cold War the old rule was that our homeland was an effective sanctuary thanks to our nuclear stand-off with the Soviets. They could not touch us at home and we did not dare touch them where they lived for fear of triggering global war. When the Cold War ended, the misalignment that emerged was our assumption that we could play a pure "away game" militarily (i.e., intervene overseas) with no incurred dangers back at home, and that simply was not true. What we learned on 9/11 is that if we took the fight to them, eventually they would bring it back to us, and since no relationship of strategic deterrence exists between the U.S. and these new bad actors (exactly which society do we hold at risk to deter Al Qaeda?), any "away game" we engage in from now on will necessarily trigger a "home game" heightening of security."

This particular Rule-Set was actually rather short-lived - from the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis to 1990 when the United States began to gingerly interact with various power groups within the USSR itself. Prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis the United States had attempted, ineffectually it turned out, to help nationalist resistance in the East bloc fight Communist rule or instigate it where it did not exist. The Soviets lacked any similar reach until Khrushchev's reckless gamble in Cuba and had to be content with applying pressure on the non-communist outposts on the periphery of the Communist world such as Berlin and Korea.

After the Missiles of October, both sides sought to avoid any future situation where a direct superpower clash might be likely. The implicit deal here was acceptance of " plausible deniability" of proxy war using client states or movements so as to check possible escalation to WWIII. The Soviets, Romanians and East Germans trained the Red Brigades, Baader-Meinhoff Gang, various PLO factions, armed the Sandinistas, the FMLN and the ANC, unleashed the Cubans on Africa and North Vietnam on Southeast Asia. The United States toppled pro-Soviet leftists like Allende and Arbenz and nationalists like Mossadegh. Under the Reagan Doctrine, we created the Contras and armed the Afghan Mujahedin and Jonas Savimbi's UNITA.

While many would ( and did) decry that dynamic the critical outcome here was that no crisis, not even the Vietnam War or Afghanistan, resulted in a nuclear exchange.

The problem was that after 1991, when the likelihood of global nuclear war drastically diminished, American policymakers were still adhering to the old, obsolete, plausible deniability Rule-Set which required underreacting or not reacting to terrorist outrages.

"That leads to the rule set shift that says war is no longer something you plan for in isolation. In the Cold War, the old rule said that if we went to war, it would be total, so planning for war was -- in many ways -- fairly simple, because you would not need to account for any simultaneous peace. War planning, therefore, was conducted with almost no reference to the larger world outside -- or what I call planning for "war within the context of war." The misalignment that emerged in the 1990s was caused by globalization itself, which generated levels of worldwide economic connectivity that soon dwarfed the sorts of wars that still occur. In other words, the global economy no longer comes to a standstill for wars, so planning for wars now has to take into consideration the rest of the peace -- or what I call planning for "war within the context of everything else." Truth be told, the Pentagon is chocked full of people with great expertise at planning wars within the context of war, but almost none with any expertise at planning wars within the context of everything else."

Warfare in the context of everything else is hard for Americans because it means limited war. We invented Total War on the battlefields of Georgia and Virginia when Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman bled the South white. Our preponderant might in industrial mass production and the planning genius of George Catlett Marshall that gave us the logistical art to wage Total War on a planetary scale. We are slow to mobilize but are terrible in our wrath and find it difficult, politically speaking, to wage war as anything short of a crusade.

That kind of war is not needed today, nor do our elite today have the stomach for the human costs accepted by Lincoln, Wilson, FDR and Truman but it is extremely foolish to believe that no war will ever be needed. We must become accustomed to setting concrete objectives short of unconditional surrender and learn to act before we find ourselves in so perilous a situation that only unconditional surrender will do.

"The third rule-set change involves how we define the threat. The old rule set said the Pentagon should focus on the biggest threat to U.S. security emanating from the strategic environment. For most of Defense Department's existence, that threat was the Soviet Union. When the Soviets disappeared, the Pentagon spent the nineties searching for a peer, eventually settling on China as the next best thing -- a "near-peer." But that need for a nation-state as the biggest threat blinded the U.S. to the growing danger of transnational terrorism. After 9/11, the new rule set says the Pentagon should focus on the strategic environment that generates threats, not on any one specific threat."

Since I agree with Dr. Barnett's argument that the Pentagon must be able to respond to a multiplicity of threats - rogue states, transnational networks, natural disatersm failed states- I will add one aspect. The fluidity of the Core-Gap dichotomy with Gap states not being able to exercise real sovereignty or control non-state actors does put an emphasis on preemptive and preventative wars - a point the Bush administration was correct to adopt but communicated exceedingly poorly. This kind of Ruke-Set cannot be articulated in such a way that Core and New Core states reasonably believe that such scary doctrines are or could be directed at law-abiding states like them. We need a Dual Standard Rule-Set in International Law and not the double-standard that exists today in the pretense that Gap states are actually sovereigns of their territories the way that Japan or France are sovereigns.

End Part I.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The technology section of the NIC Project 2020 Report had a very accurate passage on technology and the global economy:

"Moreover, future technology trends will be marked not only by accelerating advancements in individual technologies but also by a force-multiplying convergence of the technologies—information, biological, materials, and nanotechnologies—that have the potential to revolutionize all dimensions of life. Materials enabled with nanotechnology’s sensors and facilitated by information technology will produce myriad devices that will enhance health and alter business practices and models. Such materials will provide new knowledge about environment, improve security, and reduce privacy"

They will also have an inevitable force-multiplying impact on individual soldiers as realtime information technology, nanotechnology, energy weapons technology and even genetic engineering techniques are all employed to create fighters who once existed only in the realm of science fiction. Smart body armor - eventually with exoskeleton robotic enhancements, advanced personal weaponry, networked supercomputer assistance will give modern militaries and terrorists the advantage over todays armies that Delta Force currently would have over George Washington's Musket wielding Continentals.

Dubious ? DARPA is already deeply involved in most of these areas, for example exoskeletons and nanotechnology. Even off the shelf technology can be jerry-rigged by terrorists to enhance their capabilities as al Qaida has demonstrated by adapting to the use of information technology to coordinate terror attacks.

This represents a problem less for the United States military which, presumably, will continue maintaining a technological edge on potential foes than for Gap and militarily weak Core states that are unable or unwilling to spend the money to be able to counter groups so armed and enhanced. This would also include local law enforcement within the United States who proved unable to handle bank robbers in low-tech body armor they heavily outnumbered back in 1997 until snipers arrived from SWAT.

Technology advances and terrorism will inevitably drive the paramilitarization of police forces in the Core as our " First Responders" will have to be able to at least delay terrorists until better armed help can be mobilized and employed.
Saturday, January 15, 2005

From the Counterterrorism Blog, they have an Islamic Army of the Caucasus Leadrership Chart by Evan Kohlmann that I wager most regular readers here would enjoy taking a gander at- I thought it was fascinating. Prepare to zoom in to about 300 % however to make it readable.

This is inside baseball al Qaida info for the type of blogreader who knows the guys who were on Saddam Hussein's Revolutionary Command Council and what Grand Ayatollahs reject the rule of the jurisprudent.


I am not ready to tackle the report in its entirety but here is a snippet followed by my commentary in regular text:

"Russia’s energy resources will give a boost to economic growth, but Russia faces a severe demographic challenge resulting from low birth rates, poor medical care, and a potentially explosive AIDS situation. US Census Bureau projections show the working-age population likely to shrink dramatically by 2020. Russia’s present trajectory away from pluralism toward bureaucratic authoritarianism also decreases the chances it will be able to attract foreign investment outside the energy sector, limiting prospects for diversifying its economy. "

Vladmir Putin, via his control of the Duma through sham political parties and the self-destruction of the democrats, is in a critical position. Should he make use if his effectively dictatorial powers to establish a modern, rule of law, state then things will change. Putin's reform of the tax system to lower confiscatory tax rates ( that no one paid) showed a grasp of the need for Russia to accept market-based rule-sets. Can he take the same step in the domain of law and politics ?

Of course, this has been the question for Russia since the 1840's when the first modernizers appeared in the Tsarist bureaucracy of Nicholas I. ( Book Recommendations: In the Vanguard of Reform and The Great Reforms by the late W. Bruce Lincoln)

" The problems along its southern borders—including Islamic extremism, terrorism, weak states with poor governance, and conflict—are likely to get worse over the next 15 years. Inside Russia, the autonomous republics in North Caucasus risk failure and will remain a source of endemic tension and conflict. While these social and political factors limit the extent to which Russia can be a major global player, in the complex world of 2020 Russia could be an important, if troubled, partner both for the established powers, such as the United States and Europe, and the rising powers of China and India. The potential also exists for Russia to enhance its leverage with others as a result of its position as a major oil and gas exporter. "

Gas in particular. Russia has approximately 20 % of the world's known natural gas reserves and if the costs for building the liquified natural gas terminals, which run into the low billions, can be brought down or end up being an economical investment relative to rising prices for crude oil, then Russia could become the Saudi Arabia of the north.

The question remains " the social and political factors" - the Russian predisposition for irrationalist rule-sets has been a perennial problem with Russian modernization programs no matter whether they were being enacted by Peter the Great, Josef Stalin or Mikhail Gorbachev. One reformer who briefly succeeded, Nicholas II's pre-WWI Prime MinisterPetr Stolypin, had it right when he taunted the radicals in the Duma that while they wanted " great uphevals, what we want is a Great Russia !". Stolypin was eventually assassinated by a terrorist but not before his liberalizing reforms gave Russia the greatest period of real economic growth and foreign investment in its history. A peak not be matched again until the early 1960's.

The NIC did a nice job here, I must say.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The free-roaming internet entity, the ubiquitous Praktike ( of chez Nadezhda and Liberals Against Terrorism and possibly other blogs) successfully nudged me into using a site feed. Hopefully, it's working for whomever needs it. If not let me know.


Marc Shulman has a summative post on the contents of the NIC Report Project 2020 up at the American Future. An important post to read about an important report that should also be read. For general information, Dr. Barnett presented to the NIC on the future of war prior to the writing of this report.

I will have comments as soon as I read the PDF file. My preliminary remark after reading Marc's post is that I think the NIC may have missed some significant considerations but I will hold my opinions in abeyance for now. The devil is often in the details.


I've read several sections already but I'm still not finished;Dr. Barnett on the other hand,had these comments on Project 2020:

"Quick note to one emailer: yes, I did read the National Intelligence Council's latest futurist offering on 2020. As always, very solid work, and very short on hyperbole (almost none). But strangely unvisionary. Can't tell if the NIC felt it needed to be more careful now that whole intell community is under fire, or whether the world has just changed so much that such futurism is fairly tame. In short, it was a good piece, but it held no surprises for me, and that disappointed just a bit. NIC is still the best in the government business, so I think it's more that we (or maybe just me) need something a bit more visionary to grasp our imaginations. Of course, NIC to be congratulated on avoiding the dark nonsense so prevalent in such things coming out of Pentagon, but I looked at their futures and saw only floors, not ceilings. We can do much better--so much better--than this report posits.

And maybe that is the NIC feeling beaten down by the Bush Administration."
Thursday, January 13, 2005

The unintended result of world cooperation and a Core humanitarian intervention relief effort in the Gap led by the United States and Australia in the wake of the Tsunami seems to be a political retreat by Islamist extremism.

Perhaps this is a recognizable precedent for the Pentagon ?

Juan Cole had a post today that I can endorse virtually in its entirety. Here it is followed by my commentary. I have emphasized a couple of points for my own reasons:

" The Third Baath Coup?

If, as I have argued, the Baathists along with some Salafi (Sunni fundamentalist) allies are behind the guerrilla war, what do they want? They want to drive the Americans out of Iraq and make a third Baath coup, putting the Shiite genie back in its bottle and restoring Sunni Arab primacy.

A third Baath coup is no more inherently implausible than the first two. The Baathists probably have access to some 250,000 tons of munitions which are still missing. They know how to use them, and have been the managerial class, and many are Iran-Iraq War and Gulf War veterans with substantial military experience.

As long-time readers know, I have long held a position similar to that enunciated by former weapons inspector Scott Ritter's assessment that the lion's share of violence in Iraq is the work of Baathist military intelligence and military gone underground, and that the tendency to blame everything on Zarqawi and a handful of foreigners is a propaganda move that suits both the Baath mukhabarat and the Bush administration.

AP correspondent in Baghdad, Borzou Daragahi, makes much the same argument.Only 6 percent of the fighters captured at Fallujah were foreigners, and Fallujah anyway had long had a high foreign-born population, being a frontier and desert port. By Baath I don't necessarily mean committed ideological Baathists, but the party was how they were formed politically, along with networks of clientelage based in the Sunni Arab heartland.

The Baath has been systematically killing members of the new political class. This is visible at the provincial level. The governors of Diyala and Baghdad provinces have recently been killed. The killing and kidnapping of members of the provincial governing councils go virtually unremarked in the US press but are legion. A female member of the Salahuddin GC was kidnapped and killed recently. The police chiefs of many cities have been killed or kidnapped, or members of their family have, such that many more have just resigned, often along with dozens of their men.

The US is powerless to stop this campaign of assassination.And this is my problem with the idea of just having the US suddenly withdraw its military from Iraq. What is to stop the neo-Baath from just killing Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Ibrahim Jaafari, Iyad Allawi (who is rumored not to sleep in the same bed twice), etc., all the members of the provincial councils and the new parliament, and then making a military coup that brings the party and its Sunni patronage networks back to power?

I think this coup would look more like the failed 1963 effort than like 1968, and has the potential to roil the country and the region for decades. The tanks and helicopter gunships and chemical weapons that the Sunni Arab minority regime used to put down the other groups are gone, and it is not clear that car bombs, Kalashnikovs and sniping could substitute for them. They can probably take the Green Zone and the television stations if the US abruptly withdraws, but could they really put down the South effectively again?For this reason, I fear I think the US is stuck in Iraq. Sistani clearly fears a Sunni Arab coup, as well, and this is one reason he has not acted forcefully to end the military occupation, which he deeply dislikes.

Is the Neo-Baath Coup scenario one that the US could live with?"


A Neo-Baathist Iraq – which really means an Iraqi version of Sierra Leone or Somalia is not in American interests. Or in the interests of any of Iraq’s neighbors except perhaps Syria who would gain influence in the Sunni heartland.

Cole has correctly identified, in my view, some key truths about the situation in Iraq. That most our enemies there are driven by the idea of Sunni-Baathist resurgence. That they recruit along lines of family-clan-tribe clientage networks. That the brain of the insurgency are the surviving elements of Saddam’s SSO, Mukhabarat, MI, Special Republican Guard and Fedayeen who are following the old Soviet unconventional warfare doctrine of Spetsnaz forces ( hardly unexpected since Baathist Iraq had a Soviet model military establishment grafted on to a ME society with a decades long relationship with the USSR and Russia ). Soviet Spetsnaz doctrine called for “ Deep Operations”:

“At this crisis stage, the Soviets will put these forces[ Spetsnaz sleeper units] into play. From the outset, the ultimate Soviet objective will be the total political collapse or neutralization of key NATO governments.5 Because frontal military assaults would be less effective in accomplishing this, Soviet strategy emphasizes the need for initial operations in the enemy's rear echelon, the domain of Spetsnaz forces whose operations are intended to sow the seeds of a political-military collapse. Indeed, the Soviets' aim is to prevent the formation of a static, frontline war with NATO on one side and Warsaw Pact forces on the other.6 Therefore, the Soviets intend to infiltrate NATO's rear area before the outbreak of hostilities to begin eroding NATO's political and military structure from within” ( Campbell, Captain Erin E., USAF. Aerospace Power Journal 1988)

Soviet Spetsnz unit personnel however, like the Zarqawri Jihadis, were atomized individuals. The neo-Baathist Iraqi insurgents are not, as Cole pointed out with his reference to clientage networks. You catch and identify one individual chances are extremely high that other adult males linked to the captive by family and marriage ties are also involved. This is the insurgencies Achilles heel. This is also why aggressive Counterinsurgency tactics will put a dent in the insurgency, the culprits are naturally more identifiable unlike with Marxist guerilla movements.

The political bullet to bite is that we have to accept that a fairly significant portion of Iraqi Sunnis are really " the enemy" now in the same sense that the Germans and Japanese were during WWII and act accordingly. Some of this is our fault for mishandling the occupation but mostly its a vicious group of political gangsters determined to shoot their way back to power and dominance over the Kurds and Shiites. Let's stop sugarcoating things and face reality - the Sunnis by and large want a new dictatorship that will secure their priviliges once again.

Any prospects for broad-based democracyin Iraq will fail- or even maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity - unless we can isolate the more politically backward Sunni dominated areas from the rest of Iraq and put the insurgency on the defensive.

Sistani and the Kurds need to face that fact as well.

LINK: tdaxp had this to say.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

First, for those involved in the Sullivan-IraqWar discussion, Dave Schuyler had updated his post to include some new links and Andrew at Politics, Applied responded to my post, digging in for the long haul. Mohammed at Iraq the Model also discusses the potential for an Iraqi Civil War and Juan Cole examined the polling for the upcoming Iraqi election.

Marc Shulman has had so many good posts with interesting news items up in the last few days that all I can say is go spend some time on his blog, American Future.

New blog added to the blogroll on the advice of The Diplomad - an all expert group too...The Counterterrorism Blog. This one is a regular must read for anyone following the GWOT though I'm hoping the authors will shift toward including more analysis in their "breaking news, realtime" format.

Kirk Johnson's interview with realist foreign policy heavyweight, John Mearshimer is worth a look.

Finally, for something completely different, Geitner Simmons takes a look at slavery on Barbados.

UPDATE: An exchange with JB on Iran in his comments section at riting on the wall.

I just noticed that The Rule-Set Reset has been upgraded by The New Rule-Sets Project,LLC. partners to a journal. Excellent. I signed off on the final edits of my first article after some minor tinkering last Saturday. It was a very good writing experience, much more of an intellectual collaboration than I had expected, throwing concepts back and forth with Bob Jacobson over email. Very stimulating.

Not only am I eager to start article number two for RSR but once I get my computer issues resolved here at home that I'll tackle analyzing a second deleted scene from The Pentagon's New Map here at Zenpundit. Most likely on the Rule-Set shift after the Cold War but I'm undecided at this point.

Sorry if the posts are looking abrupt- I need to post before I lose them to a bad connection, having lost three earlier today.

I am blogging on the equivalent of a chewing gum and a shoestring jerry-rigged connection. Good news is my router trouble is now upgraded by Earthlink's outsourced techs in Punjab to a " problem ticket".

The jackasses who provide me with internet service have royally screwed up my home network so I am forced to blog from a less convenient, undisclosed, location. Therefore postings will have to be short and to the point until I can get this situation corrected and resolved.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Since the KSA plays a pivotal role in both global energy markets and the Muslim world its helpful to have a good handle on both of those roles. The Department of Energy has just released its latest Country Analysis Report on Saudi Arabia - these DOE -EIA pages are one of the best, concise, open source, quick references on economic intelligence available anywhere. Long before the invasion of Iraq they had reported on the sanctions-violating French and Russian
" precontracts" with the Baathist regime for various undeveloped Iraqi oilfields. I'd put this site up there with Jane's defense and intelligence reports in terms of quality ( and it's free).

(Hat tip Crossroads Arabia )
Monday, January 10, 2005

Andrew Sullivan, in one of his trademark blogospheric mood swings, cites Stratfor's analysis as a sign to unceremoniously bug out of Iraq. Here's his Stratfor excerpt followed by Sullivan's comment:

"The issue facing the Bush administration is simple. It can continue to fight the war as it has, hoping that a miracle will bring successes in 2005 that didn't happen in 2004. Alternatively, it can accept the reality that the guerrilla force is now self-sustaining and sufficiently large not to flicker out and face the fact that a U.S. conventional force of less than 150,000 is not likely to suppress the guerrillas. More to the point, it can recognize these facts: 1. The United States cannot re-engineer Iraq because the guerrillas will infiltrate every institution it creates. 2. That the United States by itself lacks the intelligence capabilities to fight an effective counterinsurgency. 3. That exposing U.S. forces to security responsibilities in this environment generates casualties without bringing the United States closer to the goal. 4. That the strain on the U.S. force is undermining its ability to react to opportunities and threats in the rest of the region. And that, therefore, this phase of the Iraq campaign must be halted as soon as possible.

They recommend withdrawing U.S. forces to the periphery of Iraq and letting the inevitable civil war take place in the center. "

Not having the article Sullivan has at my elbow I'm at a disadvantage, not knowing what Stratfor means by " periphery". If they mean using the U.S. military to cordon off the Sunni heartland from the rest of Iraq while letting the Kurds and Shiites maintain order in their regions (i.e. kill off the Sunni insurgents where Kurds and Shiites are a numerical majority) it's not an unworkable or unlikely fallback strategy. I myself wrote something similar when I blogged about a controlled civil war. The Kurds and Shiites are a " strong horse" with armed followers willing to fight and die while the Interim Government is weak and without a reliable military arm. Those are facts on the ground.

Dave Schuyler, with a skeptical ( though still Glittering) eye asks some tough questions about Stratfor's/Sullivan's assumptions:

"Aren't there other alternatives? Isn't it possible (even likely), for example, that the Iraqi government put in place after the January 30 election will authorize the use of/use substantially more force than the U. S. has seen fit to use to date in providing security i.e. rooting out the insurgents?

"Do the combined nations of the world have sufficient intelligence capabilities to fight an effective counterinsurgency in Iraq? "

"How is such a civil war in the strategic interests of the United States"

"Are they really proposing that we exit Iraq with a strategic defeat?"

A civil war is not really in our strategic interests but having the insurgents win control over Iraq is even less in our interests. The United States faces a number of possible strategic choices in this situation, in my view, which I offer in no particular order.

" Muddling Through ": Not a long term solution or a good one but the Bush administration will probably hold to the status quo at least until the election is held or it is cancelled. Conceivably we could stand pat for another year, watching the situation in Iraq - and our army - slowly deteriorate. My point is that the roof is not suddenly falling in, it collapsed a while ago.

" Ramp Up": Theoretically, the United States could scrape the bottom of the barrell to throw in a few more hastily assembled divisions and enact conscription and eventually flood Iraq with soldiers about a year to 16 months from now. Exceptionally unlikely and it still wouldn't change the need for better military and political strategies.

" The El Salvador Solution": Face the hard facts that an insurgency of this size - probably 20,000-40,000 fighters and 200,000 supporters - requires that *somebody* uses the same tactics they use against them and shred their networks.

It doesn't have to be us but it has to be done if the insurgents are wedded to rules-free warfare. Algeria crushed ( or beat back) an even more vicious Islamist insurgency with a tiny fraction of our resources. If you don't the insurgents are not going to stop merely because we leave. Or because they win. Groups with those tactics often escalate to democidal-genocidal slaughter of helpless civilians in victory. Imagine an Iraqi junta that included Zarqawri and Baathist die-hards and you get the idea. It might make Saddam look humane in comparison.

True Counterinsurgency operations are not quite the same thing as indiscriminate Latin American style " Death Squads" but they still involve acceptance of a lot of collateral damage as you redefine the insurgency's civilian suppport network as targets. The difference is that our professionals are a lot more scrupulous about trying to find real bad guys than say the Colombian paramilitaries or even the Russian spetsnaz. If we leave abruptly like Sullivan counsels, the Kurds, Shiites and central government will be fighting for their lives and they are not going to play nice. Instead they will cleanse the Sunnis out of the south and Kurdistan and effect a partition of Iraq with great bloodshed.

If we stay in we have a hope of containing the violence geographically and in terms of magnitude. We also have the possibility of a Shiite-Kurd government in place that is democratically elected that might, against odds, take hold and command some real popular support.

Those are pretty much our realistic options. Leaving Iraq gets you # 3 without direct American participation and probably an extended " Lebanon" scenario until all sides " burn out " on war and make peace.

UPDATE: Global Guerillas offers an important caveat on the El Salvador option.
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