Roundup Feb 19, 2008 -- Counterinsurgency 2.0
After the Read More! Troops get tools to share tactical information -- "Google Maps" for counterinsurgency. Ron Paul faces a challenge for his seat. Clinton aides say Obama used another politician's lines. Patterico describes how "superdelegates" are wooed. Bill Roggio describes the Taliban's spate of suicide attacks in Kandahar. And, should America and Israel still be allies?
Technology Review says better late than never:
But the days of patrol leaders operating half-blind on the deadly streets of Iraq are drawing to a close. After a two-year rush program by the Pentagon's research arm, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, troops are now getting what might be described as Google Maps for the Iraq counterinsurgency. There is nothing cutting-edge about the underlying technology: software that runs on PCs and taps multiple distributed databases. But the trove of information the system delivers is of central importance in the daily lives of soldiers.
The new technology--called the Tactical Ground Reporting System, or TIGR--is a map-centric application that junior officers (the young sergeants and lieutenants who command patrols) can study before going on patrol and add to upon returning. By clicking on icons and lists, they can see the locations of key buildings, like mosques, schools, and hospitals, and retrieve information such as location data on past attacks, geotagged photos of houses and other buildings (taken with cameras equipped with Global Positioning System technology), and photos of suspected insurgents and neighborhood leaders. They can even listen to civilian interviews and watch videos of past maneuvers. It is just the kind of information that soldiers need to learn about Iraq and its perils.
Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media interviews Chris Peden, Paul's challenger for the Republican nomination. Peden is ahead of Paul according to internal polls. And Michael Weiss wonders whether, with Hillary now melting down, the end of Barack Obama's media honeymoon is in sight.
The LA Times describes a bizarre exchange between people who are supposed to be statesmen but who are acting like entertainers.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign criticized Obama over phrasing of a weekend speech that resembled remarks made by Deval Patrick during his successful Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign in 2006.
The Obama campaign fired back that the words were offered by Patrick, a friend and political ally, to Obama's speechwriters, and that Clinton herself has adopted Obama's rhetoric in other settings.
The dispute over mere words -- not their meaning but their style -- is appropriate in a way. There's precious little real debate between Obama and Hillary. Neither says much anyway, though many words are spoken. It wouldn't be surprising to see this dispute rise to surprising heights. Live as a fad, die as a fad.
Patterico suggests the process of getting "superdelegates" to switch sides involves more than liberal applications of charm and high-minded appeals to patriotism. Well it's politics ain't it?
Roggio notes that the latest suicide attacks are consistent with the fighting patterns of the Taliban and that their "spring offensive" may soon be here.
The past two days of suicide bombings in Kandahar nearly mirrors a Taliban suicide campaign that was launched in January 2006, just prior to the onset of Operation Medusa, an operation designed to clear the Taliban from Kandahar later in the year. The Taliban inflicted scores of casualties in the two suicide bombings in Kandahar City and the one bombing in Spin Boldak in 2006. These attacks sparked major protests against the Taliban and its leader Mullah Omar.
On a related note, President Musharraf's political party has lost heavily at the polls. Unless he declares himself a dictator Pakistan will inevitably be in the hands of the opposition, some of whom (such as Bhuto's party) are in principle committed to fighting terrorism. But in the murky world of Pakistani politics not every promise can be taken at face value.
Adam Garfinkle at Middle East Strategy at Harvard poses the question: what is the strategic case for Israel now that the Cold War is over?
One of his commenters says the successor conflict to the Cold War is the fight against radical Islamism and therefore Israel must be viewed as an ally in that context. But I'd make the case that the end of the Cold War didn't end conflict with Russia and China so much as change the way in which we understood the conflict. The rivalries are still there. And in order to frustrate Russia the United States needed -- maybe still needs -- the muj or at least the energy resources of the Middle East. But several parallel conflicts are raging besides that Great Power rivalry, and one of those conflicts is with radical Islam. Hence, the US is contending against a spectrum of forces. The question is how does Israel fit in that complex, multi-player competition.
I think the honest answer is that sometimes Israeli and American interests must diverge; yet that is true of any nation. The real question is whether US and Israeli interests coincide in the central conflict(s) of the age. I think they do, though obviously some would disagree. That confluence is based on two fundamental facts: 1) Israel's main foe happens to be America's main foe; 2) Israel needs America, if not to survive then at least to feel secure. My two cents.