Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A place like many others

Robert Kaplan's article in the Atlantic, The Coming Normalcy, is a curious mixture of pessimism and optimism. The pessimism stemmed from his doubt a solution could be found for anarchy in the Third World, from which would come terrorism, plagues and humanitarian catastrophe.

Twelve years ago in this magazine, I published an article, "The Coming Anarchy,” about the institutional collapse of Third World countries owing to ethnic and sectarian rivalries, demographic and environmental stresses, and the growing interrelationship between war and crime. Was it possible that Iraq, of all places, might offer some new ideas about how situations of widespread anarchy can be combated? It certainly was the case that, despite a continuing plague of suicide bombings, significant sections of the country were slowly recovering from large-scale violence, as well as from the effects of decades of brutal dictatorship. The very U.S. military that had helped to bring about the anarchy in Iraq was now worth studying as a way to end it, both here and elsewhere in the Third World.

Kaplan describes how much of what passes for an insurgency is actually crime which had escaped the modus vivendi it had enjoyed under Saddam but had now been dislocated from its old containing vessel. Reining in this chaos meant constructing a new order to replace Saddam's.

In these very early stages, at least, ending anarchy is about, well, ending anarchy. A nation-state must monopolize the use of force. In Iraq, that means killing some people and apprehending others. "You're dealing with a gang mentality,” explained Captain Phillip Mann of Antioch, California, a thirty-two-year-old intelligence officer and graduate of Fresno State University. "There is a pool of young men in Mosul without jobs who sell drugs, and do kidnappings. With a high inflation rate and little economy, being an insurgent pays. You've got to make the insurgency a very unattractive profession to these people, who are not motivated by religious ideology.” One thing they sell is pornography, which is found by the new Stryker brigade in Mosul whenever insurgent hideouts are overrun. "We've adopted a gang-tackle approach,” Mann went on. "If we get shot at, like in Palestine [a retirement community for former regime generals in southeast Mosul, which supported the insurgents], we surround the area and go house to house, every time. We keep doing this till people get tired and start helping us. Our message: ‘We don't give in—we're not going away, so work with us.'

Iraq as viewed by those who lived inside it looked extremely different from those who saw it from the outside. At a meeting with municipal officials and police chiefs that Kaplan attended, a mukhtar or local official was furious at what he believed was an American decision to release prisoners from Abu Ghraib.

"I cannot resume my role as mukhtar,” he said. "They will kill me. The contractor down the street was threatened if he continued to repair the neighborhood. If you are so serious about security, then why did you Americans release prisoners from Abu Ghraib?” Many of the detainees that had lately been released from Abu Ghraib were known to be hardened criminals from the Mosul area, and the release had undermined the credibility of American troops here. Turner replied that the decision was one taken by Iraq's own new government. The former mukhtar wasn't convinced. For Iraqis meeting with Americans in Mosul, the name "Abu Ghraib” had a different connotation than it did in the United States. Here it meant not brutality but American weakness and lack of resolve.

To the mukhtar, concerned about surviving in the streets of Mosul the word Abu Ghraib meant something different from the Amnesty International bureaucrat worried about presenting his next report. One of Kaplan's recurring assertions in The Coming Normalcy is that the American shortcomings for dealing with situations like Iraq -- which he views as prototypical of an anarchic Third World society -- go far beyond any defects in planning for the invasion of Iraq peculiar to the Bush administration. In Kaplan's view the long-established bureaucratic instruments are simply structured wrongly: they are too monolithic and uncoordinated to effectively transform any typical anarchy into democratic order. He thinks the armed forces, whose lives are at stake, have adapted most by pushing responsibility downward to the brigade rather than the divisional level. "Flattening" the decision-making and intelligence cycle process has helped the Army and Marines get on top of the military aspects of the insurgency, but it hasn't helped reconstruction much. Everywhere he went, soldiers and Marines asked, 'where is USAID, where is the State Department?' And the answer unfortunately, was that neither USAID nor the State Department had the money or the bureaucratic configuration to fight a joint battle with the military against the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq.

"We can race around the battlefield and fix little problems,” one Army major complained to me, "but where is the State Department and USAID to solve the big problems?” Whereas commentators in Washington tend to blame the machinations of Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon for keeping the State Department out of Iraq, all of the mid-level military officers I spoke with—each of whom desperately wanted to see civilian aid and reconstruction workers here—said that if the State Department got the requisite funding, it could be as bureaucratically dynamic as their own battalions, and infrastructure-rebuilding would not be where it appeared to be: at the zero point.


Philip Bobbitt argued in his book, the Shield of Achilles, that Napoleon's strategic revolution consisted in fielding armies so large that any sovereign who opposed him would, in matching the size of his force, be compelled to wager the entire State, and not simply a wedge of territory in confronting him. Napoleon's campaigns were designed to kill enemy armies -- and thereby enemy states. What Napoleon failed to realize in his 1812 campaign against Russia was that the Tsarist state was so primitive that the destruction of its army simply did not mean the corresponding demise of its state. Like the proverbial dinosaur of pulp fiction, Russia had no central nervous system to destroy and lumbered on, like the bullet-riddled monster of horror stories, impervious to the Grand Armee. What Russia had on its side was chaos as epitomized by its savage winters.

Saddamite Iraq, like most terrorist-supporting states threatening the world today, are like the landscape of 1812 in that they were cauldrons of anarchy given a semblance of shape by fragile, yet brutal shroud-like states. Occasionally some force of exceptional virulence would escape or be set loose to ravage the outside world: destroy a temple in India, athletes in Munich or a subway in Paris. Through the 80s and 90s the rest of the world toted up its losses at each outbreak, mended its fences and hoped it would never happen again. But after September 11 the problem grew too big to ignore, yet the question of how to destroy anarchy, already by definition in a shambles, remained. 

Anarchy is self-defending, as the failed United Nations relief mission to Somalia in 1990 discovered to its cost. It will appropriate relief supplies, money and aid workers themselves as gang property, the economic basis of its system. Anarchy absorbs violence just as it absorbs relief and even gains strength from it when weapons, designed to disrupt ordered societies, are unleashed on it. Countries like Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran are defended less by frontier fortifications than by the sheer toxicity of their societies. Not for nothing did Saddam release tens of thousands of hardened criminals from jail immediately before the invasion of Iraq. They were his wolves upon the frozen steppes.

It would be a serious mistake to think that the problem of confronting national security threats within the context of anarchy is limited to Iraq. Iraq is simply where the West must come to grips with The Coming Anarchy because it cannot step around it. And it is not the only place. An earlier post noted how the eviction of the Taliban from Afghanistan has simply shifted the fighting to Pakistan, the country in which the Taliban was first born. The real metric in any war against rogue "states" will not be the reduction of strongpoints, like Tora-bora given such prominence by the media, but the reduction of anarchy which constitutes their energy core.

Kaplan correctly understands that no campaign against Iran, Syria or any similar state can be expected to succeed until the lessons of OIF are successfully internalized. And the key he hints, is learning how to use force to allow indigenous order to emerge. If Napoleon wrought the army-killer in the 18th century as the answer to his strategic dilemmas, America must invent a anarchy-killer in the 21st; or a globalized world in which boundaries are ever more tenuous will be permanently at risk.


Blogger ShrinkWrapped said...

Excellent post, Wretchard, and may I add to it that one place the left-wing elites in the West intersect with the Islamists is in their (unconscious) support for anarchy. The elites typically support the free expression of instinctual drives (eg, there should be no controls on people's sexual behavior, "anything goes", revolutionary violence is admirable, etc.) When young men are raised without being civilized (learning restraint, frustration tolerance, delayed gratification) they become agents of anarchy, taking what they want when they want, as long as they are able.

3/08/2006 04:13:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

When once we recognize that the 'purulent boil' of Islamism is the disease, we can see that the love and knowledge, the fire and water brought by Baha'u'llah, are the cure.

The Love of God, brought and exemplified for 40 years by the Glory of God, are non-sectarian, are INclusive and are healing of individuals AND societies, even those which practice apartheid, misogyny and slave-thuggery.

When we EXAMINE these questions, how can we believe that anything man-made, anything OTHER than the love of God, expressed rationally in accord with the knowledge of God, will (or could ever) heal the afflictions now besetting humankind?

"The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of the unique, this wondrous System- the like of which mortal eyes have never seen."

3/08/2006 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger Charles Martel said...

The anarchy and chaos imposed by the Left is not dissimilar to that found in Iraq, Syria or Iran. The Left's particular brand of anarchy is a precursor to that found in the aforementioned nations. It is ironic indeed that with all its ostensible commitment to non-violence the Left manages not only to ultimately engender violence but to coddle it along the way.

3/08/2006 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Yep--"Peace" now needs quotation marks.

Language damage is tough to repair, too.

3/08/2006 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As does "War" in today's lexicon, buddy.

So in reality we while we have no Peace, nor have we any any real War

We have "managed battlespace"

That seems to be the prefered alternative to either of the other Extremes

3/08/2006 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

What you are talking about when you talk about emerging order is really emerging behavioral norms. And, when you are talking about emerging behavioral norms within a system, you are talking about evolutionary game theory.

Now look, in all seriousness, I am not an evolutionary game theorist (but I did stay at a--oh never mind). However, I know, I am absolutely certain, that the language to solve this problem can be found within this discipline.

Go here to read up on it yourself, if you are so inclined:

Evolutionary game theory originated as an application of the mathematical theory of games to biological contexts, arising from the realization that frequency dependent fitness introduces a strategic aspect to evolution. Recently, however, evolutionary game theory has become of increased interest to economists, sociologists, and anthropologists--and social scientists in general--as well as philosophers.

3/08/2006 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Anarchy is also a matter of perspective.

In Zimbabwe there are 700,000 newly homeless, thanks to Government evictions and building removals.

Any of the homeless may believe Anarchy reigns in Zimbabwe, but Mr Mugumbe, he allows for no Anarchy. His Will is Law.

What would his removal bring?

Same could be said for North Korea. The South's greatest fear is not military invasion from the North. No, they fear the collapse of Mr Kim's Dynasty. They fear the human misery that could and would walk South if the Wall came down.
That, they believe, would be Anachry. And a thing to avoid, what ever it takes.

Iraq is not in a State of Anarchy, not by any means. Granted there is violence, but it is criminal in nature. The Iraqis, if permitted, would put an end to it, themselves.

" ... At a meeting with municipal officials and police chiefs that Kaplan attended, a mukhtar or local official was furious at what he believed was an American decision to release prisoners from Abu Ghraib. "I cannot resume my role as mukhtar,” he said. "They will kill me. The contractor down the street was threatened if he continued to repair the neighborhood. If you are so serious about security, then why did you Americans release prisoners from Abu Ghraib?” Many of the detainees that had lately been released from Abu Ghraib were known to be hardened criminals from the Mosul area, and the release had undermined the credibility of American troops here. Turner replied that the decision was one taken by Iraq's own new government. ... "

But as long as the US is there, the ones that the mukhtar must deal and negotiate wiih, the Responsibility is still with US.
As was taught in the military schools of the past,
"You can delegate Authority, but not Responsibility".

The released prisoners ARE the Responsibility of the US, until the US leaves. Only then will the mukhtar and the Iraqi people believe in the Authority of their Government.
Only when the Iraqis have both the Responsibility and Authority can they hope to succeed within their own Country.

3/08/2006 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

W: The real metric in any war against rogue "states" will not be the reduction of strongpoints, like Tora-bora given such prominence by the media, but the reduction of anarchy which constitutes their energy core.

If you hide ideology from the equation, which it seems is what you are trying to do, their "strongpoints" or strongholds, like ToraBora, Gaza, Makkah, Yathrib, etc., is all you need worry about. These are the nerve body, the Soma. Eliminate enough of these Somata, and you will do your patient a stroke.

3/08/2006 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wretchard wrote:

"Iraq is simply where the West must come to grips with The Coming Anarchy because it cannot step around it."

Spot on.

"America must invent a anarchy-killer in the 21st; or a globalized world in which boundaries are ever more tenuous will be permanently at risk."

Anarchy is a system state, not an 'entity'. Terror (and terrorism) cannot be 'killed' or 'ended', since terror is a universal emotion that will always be produced as a knee jerk reaction to life. Additionally, 'terror' is contagious and reducing the spread of terror is the primary social role authority figures must fill. Incapacitating those who initiate the most egregious terror 'source' events is one strategy. Limiting the ability of a 'terrorized' citizen to equally excite an otherwise calm citizen represents a second strategy.

To a degree, blogs are providing assistance with the second strategy. The destruction of the Golden Dome mosque is a replay of the Tet media campaign. Refuting the hysteria serves an important role.

3/08/2006 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Our morality has to change to accept that some people are beyond redemption and that we are not lessened by culling these psychopaths - on the contrary ours and all good people are to breath a sigh of relief.

We are Enablers all until we reach this understanding.

Kaplan makes this point - but he does not drive it home.

3/08/2006 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Mental anarchy precedes political anarchy.

Not the other way around.

3/08/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yeah, but we do not want to address mental anarchy. Which is what superstition is.

3/08/2006 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

the Green Zone being occupied by the Insurgent Forces, Basra being occuppied, that would be a repeat of Tet.
A Counter Offensive by US Forces to retake the lost objectives.
A complete defeat of the military capacity of the enemy.
That would be a repeat of Tet.

A religious target destroyed by persons unknown and a week of sputterig violence afterwards is no Tet.

No figure of Walter Cronkite's approval ratings have stated that this Mosque bombing is like a headlight of alocamotive, coming ahead at full steam, not the end of the tunnel.

It is the US that has lost it's Resolve. It is the US that says, "well maybe we should stay a little longer" " the violence, you know". But the troops are not being used to stop the violence, permanently.

Give Iraq to the Iraqis, there is no one else.

If the Iranians are actively operating in Iraq, as invited Occupiers the US has a duty to Iraq, to defend it from outside aggression.

Duty and Honor bound.

3/08/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

In an iterative system of complex interaction, system properties emerge out of the properties of the constituent parts, as the properties "register" data over time.

Societies are complex systems, and humans are the constituent parts--with human beliefs and motives being the defining properties of each constituent.

If I believe that x will get me food, and I am motivated by hunger, I will sooner or later take action x. If many people have the same belief about x, and also the same motive hunger--and their interaction is bounded locally--a system will emerge from the interaction of these various agents. The system properties will flow out of the traits of the individual agents (strength, intelligence, etc. will be selected for), the characteristics of x (scarcity, location, etc.), and the strength of the motive (e.g. extreme hunger and desperation).

So that--in microcosm--is what we have to work with in Iraq. Young Iraqi males, for instance, have certain beliefs x,y,z about certain theories of behaviors a,b,c, and they are driven by motives p,q,r.

We're not going to be able to do much about the motives, because they are pretty much consistent all across the spectrum of humanity. Likewise for theories of behavior, because they are abstractions that cannot be defeated. However, what we can do is affect the beliefs about these theories of behaviors--keeping in mind the constancy of motive--to channel their behavior towards something more benevolent.

In criminal law, this is commonly known as deterrence. In evolutionary game theory, it is incentive. In economics, it is known as cost/benefit.

Each individual actor provides a potential teaching moment that could, potentially, change the belief structure of other individual actors. Each insurgent is a potential example to another insurgent. Each criminal is a potential example to another criminal, etc.

If we want stability over time in Iraq, if we want order to emerge out of chaos, we are going to have to consistently deliver a large amount of cost on actions we deem harmful. This cost will--if consistently delivered over time--change the belief structure of individual actors about those actions--whether they are good or bad for the individual, whether they will deliver what was hoped for, etc--thereby making those action much less likely.

The thing is, the belief has to be true. A false belief has no evolutionary value, and will be discarded once it has been (consistently) falsified:

The basic premise is that our brains evolved to process information in a particular way, built on logical truisms like modus ponens, etc. The very nature of this "mental grammar", what Dennett calls 'mentalese' and what Chomsky calls deep structure, causes us to constantly posit "theories" about cause and effect, which are, in essence, narratives. This propensity to internalize narrative theories about the way the world works causes humans to reflexively take an intentional stance when analyzing cause and effect. In other words, we assume that things happen for a purpose, or towards a purpose -- we posit a reason or rationale behind everything that happens.

That's the way the mind works. Society emerges out of the interaction of many minds. If we want to affect society, we are going to have to go to the source.

3/08/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger BigLeeH said...

Thought provoking as always, Wrechard, and useful in helping form an answer to John Derbyshire's oft stated maxim that "rubble doesn't make trouble" which he uses to justify his assertion that "nation building" in Iraq is not worth the expense.

3/08/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But, perhaps like the over 200 Border incursions by armed and uniformed men along the US southern frontier, the Administration will ignore the cross border activities of the Iranians.

It is in keeping with past US performances with Syria and Pakistan as well as Mexico, to just ingnore the cross Border provocations.

3/08/2006 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

In essence, we are going to have to make a choice.

Is it worth such sustained effort in Iraq? We know we can do it. The theoretical framework is there. Should we? Will we?

I wonder what the press would say if Rumsfeld couched our plan in the terms I've stated. I think most would reject it as somehow immoral.

It is not. The truth cannot be immoral.

3/08/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Churchill once said:

[H]ow the structures and habits of democratic states, unless they are welded into larger organisms, lack thoses elements of persistance and conviction which alone can give security to humble masses; how, even in matters of self-preservation, no policy is pursued for ten or fifteen years at a time. We shall see how the counsels of prudence and restraint may become the prime agents of mortal danger; how the middle course adopted from desires for safety and a quiet life may be found to lead directly to the bull's-eye of disaster. We shall see how absolute is the need of a broad path of international action pursued by many states in common across the years, irrespective of the ebb and flow of national politics.

To affect the belief system of a society of individuals, we might have to stay focused for a generation or more. Can we?

3/08/2006 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Anarchy will bow to nothing but force and I think it is a recurrent theme here that it is used in a much too calculated manner by the US military. D.R.’s constant refrain, “This is not war” rings true to the extent that we are ourselves in a grand experiment of nation building. This is a course that would not have been steered had the decision for an early cessation of hostilities in Gulf War I which had meant to maintain the strategic balance of the region and later Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn admonishment; “If you break it you own it” had not been made. The political price of breaking Somalia would have been much less because the region in which it resides is not as volatile as the Middle East. That is not to say that those societies are stronger but that like a storm starved of energy they are denuded of the strength necessary to turn the spark into a flame. Oil rich lands have no such scarcity of the fuel of war. But just the same the UN mission in Somalia went to great lengths to avoid the appearance gratuitous bloodshed, which gets to my point that as forces are attrited by chaos like relentless waves upon the rocks, so is anarchy equally as fragile for the will to fight must be completely doused and nothing damps the will to rise like the relentless certainty of despair. Rock smashes scissors but paper cuts rock.

Anarchy must be contained first and if it is to be diminished, the arduous process of draining the swamp must begin and it must be doggedly completed in whatever interval of time it takes. The moral dilemma concerns what to do with the endangered swamp monsters, the flora and fauna fair and fowl.

Violence, or counter-violence, if there is such a thing, picks up steam like hurricane and only then will it run its course.

The key point is indeed the application of force, how much and when. Why did the US forces back off during Fallujah I, why was al-Sadr allowed to go free, how come the air strikes and assaults have been so few, why are terrorists being set free so that they can return to shoot LTC Kurilla?

I think most people who support this ‘war’ effort would like to think this ‘we’re not going away’ attitude means not giving in at Fallujah 1, not playing games with Sadr, and using violence with unwavering certainty. To achieve this the appropriate responsibility needs to be pushed down to those that are doing the real work, be that a junior officer or LTC Erik Kurilla who leads from the front and in the heat of the action, else responsibility can be delegated from the divisional level, down from the brigade level, and get stuck at the wrong officer.

The US set out to force Saddam from power and inherited the decrepit political power structure left in his wake. The US, anxious to stand up a new authority by way of bolstering its own legitimacy allowed political decisions by the new government that were contrary to the interests of the US or, for that matter, the interests of the long term stability of Iraq itself. The very government that the US set out to destroy was allowed to assert itself and establish its rule in order to give credence to the legitimacy of the US military that defeated it. In this twisted logic the petty criminals were released back into the populace only to assuage local politicians and their tribes. There is a vicious cycle here and only violence will break it.

3/08/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/08/2006 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We should have d'Rat, duty and honor bound of course, infiltrate the Mehico border, take a job for below minimum wage, and show these Indian anarchists who's the Commander in Chief.

3/08/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Not at all in character for the US, aristide, to extend itself for sustained periods of time, on the Offensive.
In 'Nam persistence wore thin, 'til the bubble burst.

Mr Carter had all but surrendered on the Global stage. Detente being the order of the day.

No, the people of the US wil not wage a forever shadow War, until the Arab masses read and understand Moby Dick.

Not in the nature of the beast.

3/08/2006 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Why would I do something like that, mat?

Not in my best interests, I've been to Mexico many times, I understand the nature of the problem. Better I'm sure, than yourself.

Property rights and credit markets open to the "folk" would do wonders.

If you wish to open the US Borders, campaign for a Law change. There are multiple options available to US. Until another Law is enacted, the Current Law should be enforced.

Or there is Anachry.

3/08/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

You support then, mat, a permanent "underclass" of people in the US. Afraid to access Social Services, that are easy prey for criminal predators?

That are as afraid of the Police as they are of the Coyotes.

3/08/2006 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Tijuana should've had a population of 90% white anglo speakers by now, and should have been renamed Neve Aviv. Now, stop being such a pansy.

You are nothing like your forefathers.

3/08/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Have you ever been to Tijuana?

There is a reason, after marching to Mexico City, the US gave most all of it back to the Mexicans.

The option of a US seaport on the Sea of Cortez was rejected.

There is a reason why US expansion southward ended. As aristide said, there is a cost/ benefit factor, in Mexico the costs far would exceed the benefit.

3/08/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Ha, that's twice you've mentioned Moby Dick when referencing my "teach them" philosophy. Moby Dick might just be the ideal marker.

As for America, I agree, and I feel the pieces are already set for a premature pull-back. Wretchard is surely correct that the central objective of the terrorists is to reinforce the chicken-little narrative of the MSM. I don't foresee the media's susceptibility to this improving. And since the MSM informs the 'beliefs' of our citizens, this thematic reinforcement will have many downstream consequences.

3/08/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I just get a kick, that out of all the options, in trying to change the mind set of a semi-literate society, you prefer the reading of Moby Dick as the standard.

It says as much about you as it does your "teach them" idea.
If there was a practicle solution to getting it read, across the Islamic Arc, I'd be for it.

Just a bit far fetched, to my thinking. More of an Ivy League debating solution than may be applicable in the mountains of Afghanistan or Pakistan, just where is that line?

But if you can get it done, you'll have my respect.

3/08/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I saw the wife of one of the 9-11 pilots on Fox, this morning.

She said Mr M. mouthed the words to the aQ songs shown on the video in Court.

Where are the US's Arabic theme songs?

3/08/2006 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ari, I think there already are signs that the MSM is starting to come around. Portgate as an example. My sense is they'll try and use W's reluctance to name the enemy as weapon against him. Only I'm not sure if that's such a bad thing. It depends on the timing I suppose, and how far we are on schedule.

3/08/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

within the next several decades Russia will become a country with a Muslim majority

If bin Laden were smarter he would have kept his mouth shut and just let things happen on their own. Of course that would not have made him a muslim superstar either. I don't see it happening although the inferences of how and why it wouldn't are formidable.

3/08/2006 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

One of the suggestions for sealing off chaos is a return to a form of isolationism. Whether that's feasible is an interesting question. Half the Saudi workforce is expatriate. Europe has large migrant populations, and so does Japan, except that they aren't allowed to adopt citizenship. The other day I read an article saying that 3,000 Filipinos left each day to find work abroad; that 50% of the country's earnings were generated from overseas. It's a good bet that a large part of the "Mexican" economy isn't in Mexico.

But even if we could somehow reverse the mass migrations of the last decades there's the problem of resource interdependence, notably petroleum. About 90% of Japan's oil comes from the Middle East as well as an increasing percentage of China's. And then there's a whole list of other goods.

Globalization was the Communism-killer, the strategic innovation of America during the Cold War. But the bad news is that it gave rise to a new strategic dilemma which we have not yet solved.

3/08/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Don't some of you who want to force them to read Moby Dick, or use the military to drains their ugly swamp feel that you are acting like the colonists of yesteryear attempting to bring civilization to the heathen?

3/08/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


Two points. First, European colonialism was one of many forms. For example, what is now the Philippines was being colonized by Islamic preachers from the early 1300s. They had displaced earlier empires like the Sri Vijaya and Madjapahit empires which had gone before. On Java there's are the ruins of the largest Hindu artifact in the world: Borobodur. It's pre-Islamic.

But more to the point, colonialism is the annexation of a nation and a people to a foreign entity. Ending chaos within, say Liberia, is not colonialism, even of the European kind. Someone I lent Michael Orren's Six Days of War to was amazed to discover that before America, before Israel, the Middle East had been by turns partitioned by the Ottoman Empire and then by the British and the French. One of the things the British did was put a Hashemite on the thrown of largely Palestinian Jordan. The British and French together cobbled together Iraq by drawing colored lines on a map.

Baron Bodissey constructed a map as part of his Bloody Borders of Islam project by keying in incidents against geography. Bottom line: there are empires afoot in the world but they are not exclusively nor even primarily European. And none of them aimed at overthrowing dictators so the inhabitants could choose their rulers for themselves.

3/08/2006 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

I think this idea of interacting with the rest of the world at arm's reach is a recipe for disaster. I think our options are (for lack of a better world) Imperialism or Barbarism.

In this sense, Fukuyama's labeling of neo-cons as Leninists strikes me as too simplistic. As you know Lenin read Marx's theory of historical determinancy and decided to give history a little artificial boost. Instead of waiting on the "inevitabilities" of industrialism, he wanted to impose them.

Neo-cons believe that democracy is the only stable structure for a society in the long term, because of many reasons which I will not get into. What's intriguing is that embedded in their theory is an "evolutionary" understanding of societal fitness -- that Western democratic liberalism arose after a long string of unlikely contingencies, but that its properties, once realized, gave it certain advantageous traits. These organizational developments allowed Western democratic liberalism to survive in the rough and tumble world of civilizational natural selection.

And now, the neo-cons want to mate this evolutionary winner with a whole host of evolutionary losers. Iraq is our attempt to falsify this theory. How likely is it that a child so begotten will be viable (we do have some examples of success)?

Of course, we may not have a choice, not a true choice. If our options really are Imperialism or Barbarism, we may have to start using our big stick in a copulatory sense -- nurturing the children that survive infant mortality, aborting those that should never be born.

Either way, it's important to understand that the success of the West was an accident of nature. It emerged out of a complex series of events that are absolutely unique and utterly non-repeatable. To think of our progression as an evolutionary law--and therefore to sit back and wait for other societies to metamorphose into what we would define as success--is folly.

We need to cross-pollinate. If we don't, we are going to have to eliminate.

It might just be that simple.

3/08/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger neo-neocon said...

Wonderful post. So wonderful I couldn't resist adding to it, including the following description of some of the differences of opinion about the Iraq War:

Perhaps, in the end, that's the greatest difference between those who are hawkish on this war and those who oppose it: the former believe the unleashed chaos was not avoidable, and needed to be dealt with sooner rather than later, because dealing with it was inevitable and waiting would only allow those forces to build....In the end, one's position on the matter probably depends on how one diagnoses the disease. Was it a small set of carbuncles that could be easily lanced (police action), or a chronic illness that just needed some intervention here and there but nothing drastic (isolationist and/or realpolitik)? Or was it a lethal illness that had probably already metastasized, and needed a strong dose of powerful and dangerous medicine to have any hope of cure (neocon, interventionist)?

I come down on the side of the latter diagnosis.

3/08/2006 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

And, to be clear, my tongue was firmly planted in cheeck re: Moby Dick as a prescription for action.

In some bizarre sense, mass reading and understanding of Moby Dick might be a condition subsequent--and therefore a reliable indicator--of a successful society, but I'm not sure how far that gets us.

At bottom, though, education will be the answer--whether the lesson is taught with books, or bombs.

3/08/2006 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Wretchard,’s definition for colonialism is:

“A policy by which a nation maintains or extends its control over foreign dependencies.”

Which isn’t quite as extreme as annexation. While I agree that we are not trying to install an emperor upon their throne we are trying to colonize them in a more subtle roundabout way. We want them to choose their emperor in a way we think best. In a sense they chose Saddam in that he seized power and the people did not rise up and overthrow him. We have overthrown the dictator and we could just leave them to their devices to ‘choose’ the next leader but we haven’t. Instead we are trying to ‘help’ them make the ‘right’ choices and we have enormous interest (oil) in what choices they make hence reinforcing the notion that we indeed are trying to exert control over Iraq and bring them into our ‘orbit’. Call it colonization lite if you like.

3/08/2006 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

In a sense they chose Saddam in that he seized power and the people did not rise up and overthrow him.

Yes, in precisely the same sense that Imette St. Guillen chose the time, place, and manner of her death.

Give me a break.

3/08/2006 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

In the same way the Soviets "chose" Stalin &
the Cambodians "chose" Pol Pot.

I guess the Jews of Warsaw chose Hitler, as well?

3/08/2006 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Instead we are trying to ‘help’ them make the ‘right’ choices and we have enormous interest (oil) in what choices they make hence reinforcing the notion that we indeed are trying to exert control over Iraq and bring them into our ‘orbit’.

Again, spot on Ash. Yes, our government tries to 'help' our citizens make the 'right' choices, even though our government has an enormous interest (GDP) in what choices we make. All this does is reinforce the notion that the Government is indeed trying to exert control over Americans and bring them into 'orbit.'

I am, of course, describing our system of law.

Perhaps you don't think there really is a 'right' and 'wrong' way to act, but I do. Insofar as we are teaching the Iraqis--and anybody else for that matter--behavioral norms that have evolutionary value, there is nothing to be embarrassed of.

3/08/2006 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

I did qualify it as 'in a sense' and it is not a point I would want to spend a lot of time trying to defend, but yes, in a sense Saddam ruled with consent. A dictator does not rule alone, there are many collaborators. While I don't want to say that Saddam ruled with the consent of the governed there are many examples of revolution where the people rise up and overthrow the ruling class.

3/08/2006 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


What's colonization in today's globalized world? Would it be mass migration? Would it be imposing one's value systems upon another system? Interaction in the current world is unavoidable.

3/08/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Aristide, there are many ways to teach. By example, by reward ect. Most behaviorist believe that punishment is a poor modifier of behavior.

3/08/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ash, given that every successful system conforms to its system-order law, and that our system is a success (so far, according to the growing list of democracies), why not try to solve problems with it?

Please don't say Iraq was not a problem--from the individual in a mass grave, to the civilized nation-states of the world trying to operate sans chaos, facts are facts are facts.

I read your post, explaining colonialism to Wretchard. It is incomplete.

3/08/2006 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

wretchard, true colonization in a world of globalisation is a bit of a dated concept but when you throw in the invasion and occupation of a nation by another with the intent to 'build a nation' the colonization term rears its ugly head and seems applicable.

3/08/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But, yes ash, we are trying to force feed a hundred years of social change into four or five year window.

That the US has deemed it important is self evident, whether it has done the task well is in question.

If we measure success like the Army in Iraq:
" ... one Army major complained to me, "but where is the State Department and USAID to solve the big problems?” Whereas commentators in Washington tend to blame the machinations of Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon for keeping the State Department out of Iraq, all of the mid-level military officers I spoke with—each of whom desperately wanted to see civilian aid and reconstruction workers here—said that if the State Department got the requisite funding, it could be as bureaucratically dynamic as their own battalions, and infrastructure-rebuilding would not be where it appeared to be: at the zero point. ... "

We are not doing well.

There seems to be a lack of seriousness about Iraq's internal challenges, but a steadfast determination to keep the US troops in the Country.

And I'm in agreement with the Army Major, if we were spending $3,000,000 USD per day on Iraqi Infrastructure, the aproximate amount we are spending to maintain our presence, the results would be tangible.

3/08/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/08/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Isn't one of the problems of bringing in State the fact that State has different aims than the admin?
A Failure by GWB, I admit, to flush that toilet... in fact to start with he hired the perfect person to further clog it up.

3/08/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy, Iraq was a problem, a festering one, and it still is. As we chose to tame the wild west with the rule of law so should we chose to address problems of failed states through rule of law and not the US making the law up on the fly and exercising it on its whim. Not only must justice be done, it must be SEEN to be done. Very few in Iraq, or the rest of the world, believe the US has justice and Iraqis benefit in mind when it invades and occupies that country. You, and the US, seem to be touting Democracy yest when the rest of the world objects, we ignore them, and acting non-democratically - unilaterally (ok ok, the coaltion - which hardly represents a majority) invade and occupy a nation and try to state 'thou shalt have democracy'.

3/08/2006 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mouse's excellent post has one error, I believe:
He states we rushed in forming the new govt for the sake of lending legitimacy to the cause.

It is my understanding that State *delayed* the formation of an Iraqi govt as Paul Bremmer dilly dallied as pseudo emporer in cheif, at the EXPENSE of legitimacy, with the result that we fiddled while the "Insurgency" gained strength.

We later "rushed" the formation of a government in trying to rectify this error.

similarities with Fallujah II being necessary to atone for the mistake of Fallujah I.

3/08/2006 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Haiti, Congo, Angola have been in anarchy since...well forever. These places have not caused buildings to be levelled or athletes to be killed. They prove that anarchic states need not be a threat.

3/08/2006 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yes , doug. Perhaps it is.

But State has never been funded to affect nonMilitary Change.

In the covert action days, the CIA fronted most of the Ops, not State.
The VoC was a CIA operation in the early days, recruiting in Eastern bloc countries.

Air America, not a State deal.

Even in Central America, during the RR years, it was the CIA, not State acting.

Perhaps a reevaluation of our Battle Plan is in need. If we chose not to excercise Military options, best have a Plan B.

If redefining the Mission of the State Dept is in order, may as well get on with it.

3/08/2006 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Now that the Supremes are swinging "right"
What other Bastion of Federal Liberalism is left, other than Foggy Bottom, for the Republicans to reform?

3/08/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ash, i'm not going to call you an ankle-biter, but you are following the classic line of politics, which is to assign an arbitrary narrative that fits your own interests. This is fine, I'll fight for your right to do so. It's a free country. A free country. So are Germany, Japan, ROK, and hopefully soon a half-dozen more in the Mideast that formerly had no such prospect.

Focus on oil--that is, the free-market allocation of a resource for which the world will otherwise die for--if you wish--it is definitely at least as important as anti-terrorism and anti-tyranny in the making of casus belli.

But what is the good of selecting the one strand of the braid, if not to move forward your own politics? The question is worth asking because it is possible for the USA to do something very great for the world, if not thwarted by such.

3/08/2006 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy, Oil is a big fat strand in the web we weave and so is fear. Fear of terrorists in particular. In short, we were not attacked by Iraq, we waged this war by choice. We invaded and occupied that country and it was not a necessary response to the problems posed. I am not arguing we went in to steal the oil, I do believe that oil played a very large part in the decision making process. The most important point I want to make is that invading and occupying Iraq set back a world that should try move forward to acting according to rule of law.

3/08/2006 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

'Rat 1:16 PM,
I'm for going back to the way it was when you were in:
Wouldn't that be better than rebuilding state? know better than I.

3/08/2006 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I sure hope we don't let Ash waste another thread with his ankle biting infancy.

3/08/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/08/2006 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Rat, 1:19, how about fiduciary responsibility?

3/08/2006 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mouse, Red River, 'Rat, and others all refer to unnecessary prices paid for our reluctance to employ violence, that age old ingredient in these matters.

Red River sums up a point I have tried to make here before:
" some people are beyond redemption and that we are not lessened by culling these psychopaths -"

I think those too young to have been around WWII vets in their prime have a harder time accepting that than those of us who did.

Those men were not turned into the psychopaths our Vietnam Era Experts deemed inevitable,
far from it.

I sometimes wonder if Wretchard's Philippine experience gives him a slightly different perspective on the effects of participating in the violence of war than mine:
When one comes back to the "normalcy" of 50's America, I think, one stands a better chance of not being as psychologically vulnerable to further damage/violence as those who had to return to the fractured society of the Philippines.

3/08/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Well, ash, is the UN's request for Close Air Support in Darfur from "western" airforces a step forward, or back in establishing "law & order"?

How about in the Afghan/ Pakistan border region? How does the "Rule of Law" play out there?

There are many Criminals in the world, and not as many Police. There are many types of Police for Criminals to fear. Saddam was a criminal, someday his fair Trials will be complete, then they'll hang 'em.
'Til then though we'll maintain our UN approved Occupation of Iraq, maybe after that, too.

3/08/2006 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ash, a yes or no question: would you feel the same way if we had done exactly what we have done, only under a President Gore?

3/08/2006 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Aristides wrote:

"Yes, bringing freedom and democracy is actually a wicked scheme of punishment. Instead of directly harming the Iraqis, we'll make them free to harm themselves!"

I think you are putting the cart before the horse here. Freedom and democracy is the end state we want them to learn. We are teaching them by sending in the military with guns blazing and now we are surprised that they won't learn their lesson.

3/08/2006 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

1:31 PM - I left out the most unique and obvious difference of all:
The USA in our experience, until 9-11 was blessedly free of war on our soil.
Some fusion of the different perspectives that caused is no doubt closest to the truth.

3/08/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I know you'll type "yes", but it's that little private first answer that the question was after.

3/08/2006 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Is there really a point in debabting the Ash Heap, or does it dilute the thread? (again)

3/08/2006 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy, definitely. It is not hatred of Bush that leads me to the opinion that one nation acting (necessarily) in its own interest invades and occupies another when not under imminent threat is a bad thing. The Democrats, unfortunately, have not taken this position either.

3/08/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I do not know, buddy, about the money. If there were competent players at State, they could be trusted to carry out the Mission.

A bulked up CIA was the ticket in the past. For Action.
Even as late as Afghanistan the CIA was in motion, using ex military and locals.

But they always seemed to have a Goal, both short and long term.

3/08/2006 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

The goal is to buy the time needed to set up an example state, Rat, and then to let that example speak for itself.

3/08/2006 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

I find it interesting to consider this essay along with the fact that Noriga did the same thing in Panama as Saddam did in Iraq: emptied the prisons of the most dangerous criminals - only he went Saddam one better and armed them and gave them offcial sanction as "dignity battalions."

Castro emeptied his jails of crimminals and presented the hapless Carter with the Mariel boatlift problem.

Perhaps this tactic goes beyond mere strategy and reflects a basic truism of such regimes. Their governments are themselves crimminal in nature and "Crime" is defined as required. Saddam even said "Law is defined by that which is two lines above my signature."

The fact that Saddam could describe the destruction of an entire village as being within his rights as a ruler is confirmation of this attitude.

But perhaps our real problem is the moral relativism which urges that we consider a government of thugs as being as legitimate as all others.

3/08/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

We are teaching them by sending in the military with guns blazing and now we are surprised that they won't learn their lesson.

Guns blazing. Right. That's what we're doing.

It was nice talking with you Ash.

3/08/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

"Imminent" is the key word, Ash. And you're right, as of Sept 1 1939, the world knew how to define "imminent" threat--as we should have known here, too, on 911, and might have another chance yet to know, if say, Denver disappeared under a mushroom cloud.

3/08/2006 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I understand the Strategy, it's the tactics that are baffleing.

Mr al-Sadr name's enough for one challenge, or perhaps he exemplifies three or four different challenges to US Policy success.

The example of Iraq only works if it is a Success, by and for the Iraqis.
Success is not something we can impose. As our military itself says, our presence on the streets is "Provocative".

But who does the mukhtar think runs Iraq?, US. As long as he does, we will be unsuccessful.
Those outside of Iraq, but in the Region, who do they think runs Iraq?, my bet is they agree with the mukhtar, US.

He and they will continue to think that, until we leave, not totally perhaps, but in bulk.

So, buddy, there can be no Success while we occupy Iraq. It's a simple as that.

3/08/2006 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ash, we lose a few cities, and this overly-sensitive racehorse of a world economy will put many millions of your countrymen trying to find a little patch of soil to grow potatoes for the kids to eat.

3/08/2006 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Aristides, remember Shock and Awe? That was guns blazing. A form of terror tryng to get them to submit without a fight. Fallujah II? Guns blazing. Mostly, now, the boys ride about trying not run into an IED looking 'prickly' on their way to search folks homes. Hardly a benign pleasing presence inspiring freedom and democracy. The military is a poor instrument to elict political change....sorry - the military is a poor instrument to "change the belief structure of individual actors"

3/08/2006 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy, there you go with the fear mongering. You leap from 911 to losing a few cities. This becomes a blanket justification for any action and hence loses any moral force. We might lose a few cities, invade and occupy Iraq. We might lose a few cities, Syrias turn. We might lose a few cities, look our Iran. China can take Taiwan, Russia Ukraine and it is all justified because "we could lose a few cities".

3/08/2006 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Why can't the military get the universal 'root causes' victimology treatment, Ash?

The root cause of their blazing guns is the *enemy's* blazing guns.

3/08/2006 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

The reason that cliches are cliches, Ash, is that they are generally true.

3/08/2006 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ash: We are teaching them by sending in the military with guns blazing and now we are surprised that they won't learn their lesson.

If the lesson is that Islamists are toxic to progress and democracy in the ME, then I would say that judging by the appearance of Wafa Sultan on alJazeera TV the lesson is slowly being absorbed.

So let me ask you, Ash, before I reach my final conclusion that you are terminally dishonest and end all further discussion with you, what "lesson" are you referring to?

3/08/2006 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

That's why I'm goin to Puerto Bello, buddy, no potatos, lots of fish and those plantains.

Easy livin' no matter the cost of oil, if you've got your sailboat and VW's.

3/08/2006 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

The lesson in the context of the discussion is "Freedom and Democracy"

3/08/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

By 'dishonest', Mathusels means, why is it wrong for me to project the prospect of lost cities, but not wrong for you to project that projection as being a cover for a future imperialism--which you project?

Especially given the sad *evidence* of the enemy intentions, both written, spoken, and acted-out.

3/08/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Just thinking of that little book, required reading as it were.
"Lord of the Flys", wasn't that the tale of Societal decline into anarchy?
It's been a long time since I read it. 35 years or so.

3/08/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

It's been updated for us older readers: "Lard of the Flies".

3/08/2006 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...


I’m trying to wrap my head around what you are saying here. Are you saying that I am being hypocritical for stating that using the fear of lost cities as a justification for the Iraq invasion conflicts with my claim that we are trying to colonize (in a loose manner) the Iraqis?

3/08/2006 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ash, 2:14 PM

That's not an answer. Be specific. What lesson are Iraqis failing to learn?

3/08/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Do you remember the initial fear after 911, Ash? That we had seen only the first of such attacks? A fear universally felt, by every soul on earth. To debate now, as though we knew then, or even--for heaven's sake--know now, that it would, four years on, still be a one-off, is not particularly scrupulous, no.

3/08/2006 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

The military is a poor instrument to elicit political change....

I know I said I wouldn't, but it's difficult to resist.

Okay, you bring up Fallujah II. Did you hear the story about how "fallujah", the word, has evolved in meaning? From Bill Roggio:

"To Fallujah" has now become a verb for Iraqis, Hickey explained later, synonymous with the violent leveling of a recalcitrant city. In mid July, in fact, Baghdad ominously announced that there would be a "solution" to the Tall 'Afar "problem" within 10 days. Three dozen men from Tall 'Afar and Mosul went to Baghdad to meet with the government to circumvent "a Fallujah."

This is what is known as "changing the belief structure of individual actors." And, let's be clear, we changed it by example -- in this case a negative one.

Or perhaps you've heard the story about Iraqi commanders now leading from the front? From Michael Yon:

The concept of leading from the front was foreign to these recruits, but American soldiers modeled the leadership required for the Iraqi Police to succeed. It didn’t take hold overnight, but a skeptical Iraqi police officer never had to look far to see the example of leaders who inspire courage and dedication in the men they command. With the encouragement of Deuce Four officers, Iraqi police commanders stepped up to the task, and the morale among their men skyrocketed. As one American officer put it: “They wore those bandages like badges of honor, inspiring respect and loyalty among Iraqi and Coalition troops.”

Or did you perhaps forget about the practice of embedding Americans in Iraqi units.

Maybe you overlooked the story of Sadr City? From the LA Times, no less:

Men stood and waved. Women smiled. Children flashed thumbs-up signs as the convoy rumbled across the potholed streets of Sadr City.

It was a far more welcoming scene than the urban war zone of a year ago, when U.S. troops and black-clad guerrilla fighters battled in the narrow alleys of the squalid slum.

"We're making a huge impact," Gayton said as his men pulled up to a sewer station newly repaired with U.S. funds. "It has been incredibly safe, incredibly quiet and incredibly secure."

Sadr City has become one of the rare success stories of the U.S. reconstruction effort, say local residents, Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Maybe you missed Imperial Grunts when it came out.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

The fact is, Ash, I don't think you know what you are talking about.

3/08/2006 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

I'm not saying it was a one off. The distinct possibility that a similar attack could happen again is still with us and will remain with us. Fear of that and worse helps us understand our behavior but fear of something similar or worse does not justify our behavior. As I argued we, and anyone, can use fear as a justification for a whole host of behaviors. I am afraid the idiot down the street my hit me over the head and rob me and rape my wife and kids but that doens't justify my killing him. I need more then my fear for that.

3/08/2006 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Aristides, sure the military can create political change. Force and the fear of its use was used by Saddam to rule as well. This is, still, a POOR instrument for teaching freedom and democracy (the desired political change).

3/08/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

What if the guy down the street was involved in this, Ash? And he was standing out in the street calling out your family? Would you feel justified to act, then?

3/08/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

A POOR instrument, compared to *what*?

3/08/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But better, ash, then never teaching the lesson at all.

The Iraqis have held three Elections, with ever increasing participation.

They have Parties and factions within those Parties. The make up of the Iraqi "Power Elite" is not dictated by US. Mr al-Sadr being proof enough of that.

So, yes ash, while the US Military may not be the "best" instrument of Democratization, it has been effective, in Iraq.

3/08/2006 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

You see, Ash, your world doesn't exist. It is an illusion, a fake, a misrepresentation of reality. In your world the military simply can't bring about positive political change, even though that is exactly what has happened in Iraq. They voted by the millions, for god's sake, protected by the very military you deride.

You see, in your world the Iraqis consented to the rule of Saddam. In your world we are colonizers, even we have officially transferred all authority to a constitutionally-elected Iraqi Government. (!)

It doesn't exist, Ash. It's all fake--it's all Iron Sulfide, this world of yours. And that, my friend, is the end of my participation.

3/08/2006 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy, if the guy did all those things you certainly would be justified in calling the cops and inflicting law and order upon him. Still, you are not justified in simply marching over and summarily killing him.

I wish I had an easy answer for you on how to bring freedom and democracy to the middle east (and many other parts of the world). By practising democracy and freedom and interacting with them is a good start. Invading and occupying is not.

3/08/2006 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Aristides, yes they voted by the millions and Saddam is gone but that is not what we normally consider freedom and democracy. All is not well in Iraq, the problems continue to fester despite our occupation of the country.

3/08/2006 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/08/2006 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As to all not being well in Iraq, ash, so what? The Iraqis can handle their problems, themselves.
The are responsible human beings, are they not?

Invasion and Occupation a not bad ways to introduce democratic reforms, ash.
Worked well in Japan and Germany after WWII. They have functioned well, since.
It has worked out reasonably well in India. Granted there have been troubles in India's post Colonial history, but it could have been much worse.
So yes, ash there are at least three examples of "Western" invasion and occupation leading to democratic Governments.
Panama, El Salvador the Phillipines to a lesser extent, and perhaps Liberia, though time will tell on that one.
France, though they were invaded and "liberated" from Vichy, so how does that count?
The British Colonies in Africa, South Africa has been successful, in the long haul, to date.
Zimbabwe less so.

3/08/2006 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Our international relations by and large *are* peaceful, Ash. Your insinuations to the contrary.

Iraq, ever since the invasion of Kuwait, has been a special case--the center of the bellicose, region-and-world-destabilizing 'gap' nations.

Yet even so, throughout the 90s we tried to cure the psychosis with your recommended 'soft power'.

We got a burgeoning AQ as a thanks.

Yet even so, we went into OIF only after a dozen UN resolutions, a broken and scorned peace treaty, ten years of billions a month on a flyover program promising to be endless, a global criminal enterprise rooted in the UN and Baath, and a promise of endless intifada against our ally Israel, and more 911s always just offstage. All against a backdrop of 30,000 'internal' torture-murders a year.

"Intolerable", in the dialactic approach to describing reality, means 'cannot be tolerated'.

3/08/2006 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Interesting link Buddy,
I plotted this out using Excel and the results are startling. The state department statistics indicate a smattering of attacks starting around 1961 and slowly building, with peaks of 22 world wide terrorist attacks in 1996, and rising literally exponentially to 45 attacks in 2003. This trend began way before 9-11 and if left unchecked the world would eventually be consumed by terror. I had often wondered if we were in danger of over-reacting to world terror, and that little tidbit has convinced me that we have way under-reacted.

3/08/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

Ash, is that you?

To my gracious host: excellent post. I read Imperial Grunts and learned quite a bit.

the debate about the current status of Iraq represents just the lastest effort by the anti america anti war crowd to move the goal posts.

by whining about civil war, they attempt to connect America's actions in Iraq to age old antimosities with the Islamic/Arabic culture.

We must think this through quite carefully because the left is doing a "mission creep" on us. They will try to convince the world that any time two Iraqis fight to the death America has failed.

tribal strife is one thing, all out attacks on civilization are something else.

Getting back to the broader point here: If Iraq is no longer a threat to civilization, we've made progress. The effort to convert Al Anbar into, oh say, Indiana is irrelevant to our goal right now.

Ash, the military isn't designed to install democracy, it's designed to eliminate enemies to democracy.

So far, so good.

3/08/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

desert rat,

I believe the historical examples you cite are not very similar to the Iraq situation, but in any case, democratic reforms have been introduced to Iraq and I agree with you that the Iraqis should be left to manage their affairs.

3/08/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As far as Coloization goes, Globalization is a form of Colonization.
McD's, KFC, Sanyo, Toyota these are the new colonial outposts around the World.

The French are sure of it, the Mohammedans as well, it is why "Western" brand names were attacked in the Cartoon Riots in Pakistan.

3/08/2006 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Petition the Congress to declare Vermont an explode-a-dope free fire zone. Ash, I'll pay your fare.

It gives the sitzpinklers the opportunity to dialogue with their ME allies, and it gives the explode-a-dopes an opportunity to get back at their oppressors. A symbiotic relationship.

3/08/2006 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

you asked about Mr Roggio, doug
Consolidating Success in Western Anbar
"Operations Lion and Minotaur are a continuation of a successful counterinsurgency plan"

3/08/2006 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Michael Barone is no fool, Ash. And the Pew Organization is certainly not going to be caught dead polling *for* Bush, or the war, or anything faintly conservative.

3/08/2006 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Please disregard the good news.
"The American forces are giving freedom back to the people of Iraq, just as they did in Japan, Germany and Korea," said Brig. Gen. Aziz, 3-6 Iraqi Army. "We are receiving this area of responsibility and the job to protect it. God willing, we will be able to do so."

3/08/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Seems the Iraqis in am's link think Invasion and Occupation are a good route to democracy. Funny they think they deserve to be on the Roster with Japan and Germany.

" ... The Iraqi public in Mosul is becoming less tolerant of the insurgency and are helping the Iraqi Security Forces locate the insurgents with tips, said [Col. Mike] Shields.

This rejection of the insurgency, along with increased pressure from Iraqi Army and Coalition forces, has led to a 57 percent reduction in total attacks since last January, said Shields.

The Iraqi police presence in Mosul has also significantly increased from a year ago. Today the Ninevah province has 14,000 policemen on duty, most who are trained locally at the Mosul Public Safety Academy. ... "

3/08/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Check out this graph I posted on 'Frequency of Terrorist Incidences' I posted. It a real eye opener. I had no idea.

3/08/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

On A Dagger's Edge:

The security situation has also made it more difficult for U.S. diplomats to reach out to Yemenis. Face-to-face meetings are difficult, with U.S. officials ensconced inside their fortresslike embassy compound.

All of this is part of a deeper battle. "The real conflict in the country is not between the government and the opposition but is between traditional powers still locked in the 19th century and the forces of modernization that try to grope their way into the modern age," says Mohammed al-Sabri, a leading figure in the opposition.

Dagger's Edge

3/08/2006 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

The next eastward-invading western dictator will have two almost identical disasters to study, only 130 years apart.

3/08/2006 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


The loss at Borodino and the capital at Moscow would have been enough to put paid to a Western European state. But it did not destroy the Czarist state because it was, as Bobbitt argues, a kingly state (le etat c'est moi) rather than a more modern bureaucratic state in the mold of Napoleon's earlier enemies. So long as the Czar lived and his authority was respected, Napoleon would have no victory.

Napoleon's tattered and starved army remained able to elude the lumbering Russian pursuit and in fact crossed the Berzina river against a defended opposite bank while fighting a rearguard action behind it, which was a feat of arms worthy of the Anabasis. There were later Russian inquiries as to how Napoleon, outnumbered, caught behind and before was still able to elude the Russians on their soil. Whatever else Napoleon was, he was a genius and leader of men.

One of the lesser known aspects of Napoleon's retreat is that the Russians starved and froze in vast numbers as well. Old man winter and hunger respected no uniform.

After the campaign Napoleon's defeat was depicted as something of national miracle, which in a way it was.

3/08/2006 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe said...

great thread,Wretchard.

"Countries like Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran are defended less by frontier fortifications
than by the sheer toxicity
of their societies."

one does wonder
what their immigration stats
are like.

Ash,you should try to contribute sometime.

3/08/2006 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...


You got me tbinking so I hopped on Geohive. Couldn't find immigration stats. 'Bout as close as I could come was population change annually by percentage:

Iraq - +2.7%
Syria - +2.3%
Pakistan - +2.0%
Iran - +0.9%


3/08/2006 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe said...

sam -

right after i posted i realized:

Pakistan: increase in refugees
resulting from the
Afghanistan War(or perhaps just re-importation of Taliban proxies)

Iran: increase in refugees
resulting from the
Afghanistan War

the metric the original thought came from was "improved quality of life"...which,in my view,clearly explains the demand/desire to immigrate to the US and Europe/EU from the "Fertile Crescent" in the case of the EU and US in the case of Mexico.

in the example of
the relative nature of the destinations' "attractiveness" has to do with the level of Anarchy the immigrants seek to leave behind...


just as investment dollars seek stability,so do populations of migrants...

Wretchard's comments about
the need to "kill anarchy"
had me thinking,while the network TV news was on tonight:

"who,besides the terror masters,
benefits from anarchy...from generating and perpetuating

the symbiosis between the
press ancienne and the terror
agenda has been noted before,
so i'm not claiming any originality.

but there it was:
one story after another.
"the war of each against all".

PS - some of your figures,sam,
could be due to birthrates in those countries,no?

3/08/2006 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Yes, the stats would have to be total. Immigration and birth rate lumped together. Iran is interesting in that it's in the same region but a much lower increase than the others. Wonder what gives? Could they be seeing something on the horizon?

3/08/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe said...

US has a substantial population of expatriate Iranians...
but most are refugees from the collapse of the Shah's regime,to my knowledge.

the birthrate in Iran is fairly high(or the number of young people
under 30, at least).

i read recently some of that
(birthrate) surge was from Iranian policies during and following the Iran/Iraq War.

3/08/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Hear Hear. Tho we'd all luvta, the way of the world ain't quite ready for us to move up into the rarified atmosphere of the future Transnational Progressive Utopia. If we could, we would, for it is said to be like unto heaven.

3/08/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Got 'em. The immigration stats:

Iraq: 0/1,000 population
Syria: 0/1,000
Pakistan: -1.7/1,000
Iran: -2.6/1,000


3/08/2006 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe said...

that looks realistic,sam.


3/08/2006 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

If Terrorism is a Meme, and its infectious, then Annoy-o-Mouse is on to something.

Infections come in waves. The best known antidotes are quarantine AND ring-vaccination.

3/08/2006 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe said...

"If Terrorism is a Meme, and its infectious, then Annoy-o-Mouse is on to something." - red river

respectfully,red river,
terrorism is a "technique"...
in the service of a "telos"
or "ultimate purpose"
(in the Cosmic/Religious sense of "Ultimate").

in the case of Islamic Terrorists,
the telos is to bring about the Caliphate,and the defeat of the Dar al-Harb(House of War/Infidels) by Dar al-Islam(House of Peace/Muslim Believers)...
ie the Islamist Telos =
the Submission of the Planet to the will of Allah as revealed to Mohammed in the Quran.

Andrew McCarthy and Masoor Ijaz
have an online debate
posted at FDD - Foundation for the Defense of Democracies that
centers around whether or not Islam's "telos" can be "Reformed":

Opinion Duel
By Andrew C. McCarthy,Mansoor Ijaz
February 28, 2006
Foundation for the Defense of Democracies

3/08/2006 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Looking at AM's graph it seems that we managed to stem the rise of incidences between '96 and '00. Wonder why?

3/08/2006 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe said...

Annoy Mouse said...

"Anarchy will bow to nothing but force"

not to be glib,AM,
but wouldn't Anarchy bow to Order?

and isn't the constructive question
(and the one i believe Wretchard is pursuing):

Q:"to what form of Order
will Anarchy bow?"

i think it's also useful to note:

~*Islamic Terror IS NOT Anarchy
when seen from the perspective of the Dar al-Islam*~.

is a "building tool"
for the global Caliphate.

dead bodies
(and terrorized populations)
are the "bricks".

in the past few days i read something insightful regarding Islam,might have been here at BC:

the Quran is *prescriptive*
(clearly it is not a dialogue):

-establish the (global)Caliphate.
-all muslims have a duty to pursue jihad.
-kill and/or convert and/or "subdue"
the unbelievers/infidels/dhimmis.

the CONSEQUENCES to non-muslims of fullfilling that mandate
are moot(death,dhimmitude,
loss of legal rights,loss of women's rights,loss of property rights,loss of free speech rights,loss of free choice in religious practice,etc.)

Muslims are not to suffer from these actions...they are to suffer
for their INACTION.

protests of Islam's "peacefulness",
equivalency arguements("Islam is just like the other religions"),
have no impact on this prescriptive quality,not to mention Islam's supremacist self-regard.

these apologist protests do not reach or modify the Islamic "telos" in any meaningful way.

in other words,jihad is the prescription and the yardstick for ethical behavior.

3/08/2006 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Acouple of commenters have noted that What Kaplan and Wretchard are discussing is the need for the creation of Thomas Barnett's Systems Administration force. those of you who are not familiar with Barnett's work should hop over to his web site, which has some of his articles, and links to his video presentations. The Labor 2004 briefing is a tremendous introduction to his work. You can buy a dvd from c-span.

Second, civil order, and a functioning economy cannot be imposed from the top down. They must rise up. When peace is created, order can arise. Iraq has plenty of capital to create a functioning economy. They just need a civil space within which to do it.

3/08/2006 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

Civil order can certainly be imposed from the top down, as in Singapore or Hitler's Germany.
-- but not without huge loss of human rights.

Gangs need to be co-opted into development, prolly with little local elections and cash to the winner -- but a complaint mechanism. Bremer wanted to be temporary emperor, big Bush mistake.

Only Iraqis can win their war -- and they are winning it.

Expect Iraqi gov't abuse of prisoners to grow. A LOT. And the US needs to say ... that's Iraqi gov't business. They are in control.

3/09/2006 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"However, what we can do is affect the beliefs about these theories of behaviors--keeping in mind the constancy of motive--to channel their behavior towards something more benevolent."

Aristides states this most eloquently: to positively change the nature of society, we must change the underlying, core, interwoven BELIEF structures, hence we come full circle to Baha'u'llah, the One Promised in our 7,000 preceding years' worth of recorded history.

He has raised up "the visible seat of mighty institutions whose purpose is no other than the spiritualization of humanity and the preservation of justice and unity throughout the world."

Barring Iranian atomic attack on Haifa, Israel, this mighty institution is NOT going away, no matter how hard we ignore it.

But we CAN consciously leverage Muslim prophecies NOW, to spread the awareness of the existence and power of the Promised One (Imam Husayn) of Islamic aHaditha, thereby MOST RAPIDLY and effectively transforming the underlying belief structures of 1.2 billion 'Muslims'!

We have little to lose, and much to gain.

3/09/2006 03:09:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Trish, while hope is good, and I hope things work out for the good hope is hardly a rational and good building block for creating a coherent foreign policy. Were things really so bad when Saddam was in power that all that was left was a Hail Mary pass? Sounds a bit like religious fervor lay behind the hope apect in all this.

3/09/2006 08:36:00 AM  

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