Sunday, November 8, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Bring Our Partners Into the Fight - This entails understanding the array (USAID (US Agency for International Development), QRF (Quick Response Funding), CERP (Commander Emergency Response Program), Other Donor, etc.) of economic development programs that are available, determining how the programs "work" and what are the rules to partner with them, and figuring out who makes decisions on investments and then get those people out to the field (this is where you have to make sure the military understands that air support to get the right people out is the best investment they can make in economic development COIN).
Leverage Development Resources for Greater Impact - The objective is to have our partners "own" their part of the fight. Mandating investments from other economic development programs does not work. You have to engage them, understand what their objectives are, and then give them a framework where they can achieve their objectives while supporting your COIN objectives. I found that a lot of the programming decisions being made were based more on relationships than on a strategic planning framework. People want to help, you have to show them how they can, and in a way that fits their program. You have to always look for synergy - win/win scenarios - and you have to champion the ideas when you find them. You can't wait for the partners to show up -- you have to create a concept, market it to the partners, get them out to look at specific parts of what you want to do, and then have them come up with a shared concept in the field - a way forward that everyone is bought in. I have a case study for what we did with aquaculture in North Babil that I could share. Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia had destroyed the industry, occupied fish farms, and shut down most of the production. The US military went in and cleared them out and we went in with an economic development program that involved everyone of our partners and funding from across the spectrum (USAID, QRF, CERP, etc.). The end result was the revitalization of an industry that will produce by 2010 up to 130,000 metric tons of fish and increase gross revenue to farmers and merchants by at least $30 million.
Focus on Iraqi Buy-in & Ownership - Getting local ownership is key to a sustainable efffort. My experience was you were only really able to meet consistently with the local leaders. It was harder to talk with ordinary people. It could happen but it was the exception not the rule. You had to count on them to bring their people (tribe or community) into the discussion, It was very difficult to get local buy-in with the "grant them everything" mentality that comes with COIN but we sought Iraqi leadership of any program we funded. Whether it was a "radio in a box" station in Seddah City or a $2 million Central Euphrates Farmers' Market, you tried to structure the program where they (the Iraqis) were seen by the community as the leaders -- that way, if the program failed, the local leaders lost face but if it succeeded, they appeared more legitimate in the eyes of the community. We wanted the local leaders to have an incentive to make sure the program worked. We tried to build that into everything -- for example, a $200,000 backpack program being handed out by the local councils rather than being given out by the Civil Affairs Units (they could monitor the overall program but it was a locally managed event). This kind of effort takes a lot of work on the ground by the Provincial Reconstruction Team but it has a better chance of being sustained and it helped legitimize local authority. It is also our eventual exit strategy -- at the end of the day, the Iraqis have to assume full ownerhip of their own development efforts.
Use Military as Force Multiplier for Development Programs - Like everything on a Provincial Reconstruction Team, the effectiveness of working with the military came down to personal relationships. The key was to find the company commanders and their Civil Affairs teams that wanted to do something. When I first arrived at the Brigade, I set up a briefing schedule of the battalion senior staff, the civil affairs teams, and, specialized groups, like the Brigade surgeon and the medical team. I explained all the USAID programs, told them how QRF worked, and put out some ideas on how we work together to leverage impact. I told them that I saw my job as helping them restore hope in the communities that were stabilized through economic development programs, employment programs, or whatever their interaction with the community indicated was the highest priority. I then invited anyone to come see me with their idea for an activity. I put a list of already approved Iraqi Rapid Assistance Projects (IRAP) projects on the wall of my office to show as examples of what could be done. We were able to get some really good ideas for activities from Company commanders and their CA teams. Basically, I was not designing and implementing a program that was coordinated with the Brigade, I was there to help them achieve their stabilization and COIN objectives by putting quick disbursing economic and employment generation programs in place where it was important to the overall mission. The goal was to reduce the violence within the communities and against our soldiers by restoring hope.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In”
Hugh Kennedy, 2007, Da Capo Press, Philadelphia PA
Arab conquests during the period 630 AD to 750 AD resulted in their control a large part of the known world. In 712 AD at the battle of Poitiers, the Arabs reached the gates of Paris before being driven back. This remarkable series of victories were accomplished with relatively small armies (none was larger than 30,000 men) who rode bareback and were lightly armored. They depended upon spear, sword and shield, the element of surprise, and the weakened conditions of the nations they faced. The Arab conquests were quick and world ranging like those of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. The difference was in how the Arab conquests were “made permanent.” Only two countries ever came back to their previous identify after Arab conquest: Spain and Portugal. This book attempts to understand this subject by addressing two questions: (1) how did the conquests take place; and (2) how were the conquered areas settled by a relatively small number of Arabs and become transformed into “Arab” states.
The author discusses the origin of a unified Arab state under the Prophet Mohammed to describe the development of a conquest strategy based primarily on the Koran but also on the Bedouin and Arab urban culture with its tribal relationships and social systems that valued military might and cohesiveness of the tribal group. The key aspect of Islam that transformed the tribes of Arabia into a potent military and governance forces was the creation of a “brotherhood” of Muslims under Islam. Any person who professed a belief in Allah become a brother regardless of ethnicity, race or nationality. This brotherhood was known as “umma” or the Muslim community. Tribal conflict and in-fighting was overcome with this new brotherhood.
Islam also provided the basic strategic framework for all the conquests. Upon the death of Mohammed, the different tribes of Arabia began to assert their independence. A series of wars, the “ridda” wars, brought all the tribes under Muslim control led by the Quraysh tribe of Mecca allied with Bedouin. 1 According to Kennedy, these wars led directly to the expansion of Arabia since the umma formed by Islam would not allow “brother” to attack “brother.” The unified Arabian tribes under Islam had to take their traditional raiding way of life outside Arabia to neighboring countries. The Koran also sanctioned this in verse 9:5: “When the sacred months are past, kill the idolators wherever you find them, seize them, besiege them, lie in wait for them in every place of ambush; but if they repent, pray regularly and give the alms tax, then let them go their way, for God is forgiving and merciful.” This was considered the scriptural mandate for conquests.
As Muslim armies were dispatched to conquering neighboring states, more and more Bedouin arrived in Mecca to join the armies to share in spiritual and worldly rewards of conquest. The Arab armies were relatively small. Syria was conquered by an army of less than 30,000 men, while Iraq was won with only 6,000 to 12,000 men. At the crucial battles of Yarmuk in Syria against Roman forces and Qadisiya in Iraq against the Persians (Sasanians). The apparent advantages of the Muslim armies was mobility (they traveled light and lived off the land), good leadership, and strong motivation (for spoils of war but also spiritual – as witnessed in a Muslim speech to Persian authorities prior to battle, “… now we have come to you by order of our Lord, fighting for his sake … we act upon his orders and seek fulfillment of his promise.”). The author makes a strong case that internal strife and ongoing conflicts between the Byzantine Empire and Persia weakened both empires and allowed Muslim armies an opportunity to attack them.2
In explaining how Muslim rulers governed the conquered lands, the author describes the administrative arrangements made that allowed Muslims to maintain their cultural identity and through Islam convert the local population to a common religious belief as well as language. Apparently key cities were chosen for settlement by Muslims and from these cities an administrative system was established to collect tribute owed by non-Muslims. Incentives were created to convert to Islam but there is no major evidence of forced conversion. The systems put in place were effective in that only Spain and Portugal are the only two countries to revert back to Christianity after Muslim rule.
1) Ridda refers to apostasy and originated in the changing beliefs after Mohammend’s death. At least two other prophets arose in Arabia: (1) Maslama of the Banu Hanifa of Yamama in Eastern Arabia; and (2) Sajah, a prophetess of tribes in north-east Arabia.
2) Byzantine Christian doctrine was different than those of many Christians in Syria (Diophysites vs Monophysites) and there was persecution of the local Christians. Muslim arrival at this critical time found a weakened empire. Bubonic plague was also a serious problem for the city dwelling Syrian population – a disease passed by fleas on rats was more of a problem in the cities than with the Bedouin warriors and their mobile camps (not room or place for rats).
Extend of Muslim Conquests – 750 AD
Friday, May 8, 2009
English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, wrote Leviathan in 1651 regarding human nature and the foundation of states based on social contract theories. Hobbes describes the need for a strong central authority to prevent social unrest and civil strife because the common nature of man presents a situation in which each person fights for his or her own existence. Preventing chaos caused by man's inherent nature to seek his own will without limit and the situation that arises from that nature -- an unending conflict of "war of all against all" (bellum omnium contra omnes) -- is a primary motivating force for man to accept a form of social contract and establish civil society. According to Hobbes, society is a population beneath a central authority to whom all individuals give up their natural rights for the sake of protection. Submission to this authority is accepted as the price of peace however excessive abuse of power can lead to civil war.
The Hobbesian view of the world, that security of the individual is the primary motivation to the acceptance of authority, is contrary to Aristole's contention that man is by nature a social animal. While social needs may play a part in the formation of society, Hobbes believes the overwhelming need is for security -- everything else, social interaction, economic development, justice, spiritual fulfillment, etc. follows. Failure to secure the population dooms any counter-insurgency effort.
"The Hobbesian Notion of Self-Preservation Concerning Human Behavor during an Insurgency" tries to answer the question of why some people join an insurgency and others don't. The key is the perception of the population as to who is in control. Most people will choose to be impartial as the struggle between government and insurgency fight for control but the overriding factor determining their eventual loyalty is Hobbesian self preservation. Perceived loss of control of an area by the central government is sufficient for the population to be passive in the face of the insurgency and for a portion of the population to join the insurgency. The majority of the population is waiting to see which form of society will prevail in order to enter new social contracts that ensure their survival.
This approach reinforces a key tenant of General David Petraeus's counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan that the population must be protected at all costs.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One
This book focuses on the need to continually assess who the enemy is, how conflicts change over time, and how the pursuit of terrorists takes us into the traditional territory of relatively non-radical elements of the society we are fighting in. These local societies feel the intrusion of foreign force and respond not so much for ideological or spiritual reasons but because we are there. Kilcullen contends that warfare is changing and that the environment is set not by the superpower approach to conventional war but by the local actors in one of four scenarios:
(1) Backlash Against Gobalization - The West dominates the process and creates the impression of Western imperialism as local customs, culture and society is impacted by the West.
(2) Globalized Insurgency – There is a transnational globalized insurgency led by takfiri extremists like Al Qaeda which uses provocation, intimidation, protraction, and exhaustion as the tools to intimidate, co-opt, or mobilize its base, the 1.2 billion Sunni Muslims around the world.
(3) A Civil War within Islam – An internal conflict in Islam led by the takfiri radical movement against the Muslim status quo can spill over into a larger conflict with the West.
(4) Asymmetric Warfare – Given the size of US military any rational enemy is likely to fight the US using non-conventional means.
The threat environment is a combination of these scenarios and that different actors are involved for different reasons. US overwhelming military power will result in non-conventional war and it is critical that we understand the reasons and who our enemies are, and what type of response is most appropriate.
The secret to fighting wars in the 21st century according to Kilcullen is understanding that we are not involved in a global war on terror but rather against a relatively small group of takfiri terrorists. The way we fight against them is not with conventional war fighting as defined by the Powell Doctrine (absolute military overkill). When the US tries to respond with overwhelming force we create the conditions that actually spawn a larger guerrilla war. The US reaction to takfiri terrorists causes the local population to react negatively and side with Al Qaeda (see graphic).
Kilcullen covers other topics in the book. He compares Iraq and Afghanistan which are entirely wars and puts forward a template for how to proceed while acknowledging that every conflict from the local to regional to national is different. One of my favorite quotes from the book is from Col. H.R. McMaster – “If you ever think you have the solution to this, you are wrong and you are dangerous…” There are precepts but no models, scenarios but no ironclad outcomes, the fight in the 21st century is complicated and requires a re-thinking by our military leaders of how we fight.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
A Savage War of Peace
Algeria 1954 - 1962
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The Failure of Nation Building and a History Denied
By Toby Dodge, Columbia University Press, 2003 (1)
The book defines the end state for successful nation building as the ability of a nation to, “… deliver public goods to the population contained within its recognized borders through a differentiated set of centralized government institutions. Crucial to its ability to perform these tasks is the veracity of its claim to ‘binding authority’ over its citizenship and ultimately over all actions taking place within the are of its jurisdiction.” Three key characteristics guarantee sustainability of a state (1) ability of the state’s institutions to claim a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence, (2) the capacity of the state’s bureaucracy to implement its decisions across the territorial entirety of the country, and (3) creating a positive relevance of the state to the everyday lives of its citizens. Dodge states that when there is a failure to provide protection through a monopoly on the use of violence, the citizenry will seek public goods and services, economic subsistence and eventually their physical survival through ad hoc and informal channels. People will look to whatever group can help them survive – militia, tribe, clan -- proclamation of statehood is not sufficient. For Iraq to become a sustainable state it must have the ability to protect, govern, and serve all its citizenry.
Key to governance is the belief of the people that they have an effective way to voice their grievances and have a role in addressing their problems at the local and provincial levels. The civil society structures that play a critical role in providing this voice to the people does not exist in Iraq. To address this problem, Dodge recommends a strategic approach that sounds very similar to our ePRT led grass roots effort of building local capacity, empowering communities, and giving ordinary citizens a voice in government. The issues identified in this book and their potential impact on the future are important to consider as we transition away from ePRTs (Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team) toward a PRT (Provinical Reconstruction Team) led effort to strengthen provincial governments and their capacity to govern. (3)
Dodge recommends that the US learn the lesson from the British occupation that a sustainable state requires empowering local communities to effectively address their local problems, provide a consensus for community action, and interact with local and provincial governments. Civil society groups will, according to Dodge, provide the only sustainable means of empowering local communities. The establishment of these groups will have to be a grass roots effort that focuses on increasing social capital, providing a voice for ordinary citizens, and engendering a feeling among local communities of inclusion and benefit in a national government system.
Dodge contends that the degree to which Iraq can be inclusive and equitable to all citizens will determine whether there will be a renewal of violence. “Inventing Iraq” sends a clear message that for the state to effectively govern and serve its citizenry much more than a strong military is required – ordinary Iraqis have to believe in their ability to come together to address their problems. This book provides an interesting historical perspective that points to ways that the US might effectively address issues regarding the sustainability of the Iraqi state once Coalition Forces eventually depart. Building a vibrant civil society should, according to Dodge, be one of the key goals of US policy. The most effective way to create a strong civil society is by working at the ePRT level – the grass roots – focusing on bringing people together to address their problems, create a sense of community, and effectively interact with their provincial and national government.
The following are excepts from the “Inventing Iraq” referring to the problems, issues and realities faced by the British personnel charged with the first modern attempt at nation building in Iraq. Many of the points highlighted in the book could be taken from today’s headlines. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past is not dead, it’s not even past.” Clearly this is the case in Iraq today.
Dealing with Iraq nationalism. There was pressure from the Iraqis to transition from a “mandate” to a treaty with the UK that outlined when Iraq would be declared a sovereign state. Iraqi nationalism became a force in a short period time after the Ottoman Turks were defeated. “The speed with which Britain’s role in Iraq changed from 1920 to 1922 is highlighted by the rapid shift in its legal basis.” p. 22 “Having set up our independent or quasi-independent state, we were bound to deal with it on terms of greater equality, and less from the point with it on terms of greater equality, and less from the point of view of a guardian towards its ward, than was originally contemplated.” p. 22 “The rapid growth of well-organized and vibrant nationalism in Iraq exacerbated the conflict at the heart of the British policy.” p. 30
Political realities impacted events on the ground. “The irresoluble tensions inherent in British nation building produced, by 1932, the quasi-state of Iraq. When Iraq entered the League of Nations it was granted de jure independence as a self-determining nation state. But the reality was something quite different. Iraq was a territory inhabited by a diverse and divided population run by a small clique of mainly Sunni politicians who could not control the country without the help of British airplanes.” p. 31 “The heavy constraints upon the British state meant that sovereign power had to be devolved to the political elite of Baghdad – those who, by 1926, were in a position to run things.” p. 37 “The Permanent Mandates Commission had been the personification of Britain’s international obligations to Iraq, but, after 1929, it became an obstacle to the government’s goal of ridding itself of the costly and potentially unending burden of turning Iraq into a liberal state of international standing.” p. 38
Dealing with the power brokers rather than transforming the state. “Their concept of the Ottoman Empire led the British to place their trust in those who inhabited the countryside, those identified as ‘tribal’.” p. 45 “… Iraqi civil servants … were detached from society. They constituted a distinctly secular, separate and parasitic middle class.” p. 48 “The image that permeates the British descriptions of Iraqi governing groups was of a small elite floating above society. ‘I do not suppose there is in the whole history another example of a state with a representative government of modern type, in which only people who count are two or three hundred at most. It is in fact a closed oligarchy.” p. 66 “Ultimately it was the way British understood Iraqi society that came to undermine their attempt to build a stable state. Resources were channeled through individuals (the sheiks) in the hope that they would guarantee social order at the lowest possible cost.” p. 158
Rule of Law was a difficult concept – land tenure was a very difficult issue. “In effect, written law could be rigid or liberal as the drafters desired because it ultimately would stand little chance of being enforced. (The Turks had a) “… blind impulse to draw all authority into a single net, (they) not only neglected but actively discouraged the delegation of power.” p. 51 “Upon the Turkish conquest the agricultural land of Iraq became state property … (but the) Ottoman Government were never in a position to exercise any systematic control of the large areas of miri land throughout the country.” p. 54 “With the state unable to enforce its will over the majority of the country, no cadastral survey was possible. A result was title deeds and records that were ‘incomplete and entirely inaccurate in respect to names, areas, and boundaries, sometimes forged, sometimes overlapping, sometimes duplicated in respect of identical properties.” p. 55 “Order was attempted in two stages. First, land had to be owned, and it was the administrator’s job to find out who that owner was – to formalize and then protect his rights of possession. Then the proprietor was encouraged to farm the land as efficiently as possible.” p. 105
(1) Tony Dodge is an English scholar on the Middle East for the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
(2) This lack of rural control applies primarily to the Ottoman Empire rule of Iraq from 1535 to 1918, and the English mandate period 1920 – 1932, but was also true to varying degrees in modern Iraq under the rule of Hashemite King Faisal followed by Ghazi, Nuria al Said, and Abdullah Al-llah until the July 14, 1958 Revolution led by General Abdul Karim Qassim. Central control was strengthened when Qassim was overthrown in 1963 by Col. Adbul Salam Arif who died in 1966 and was succeeded by his brother, Rahman Arif. After the 1968 coup by the Baath Party put Saddam Hussein on a track to becoming the sole dictator of Iraq in 1979, the Iraqi state used terror and money to control the rural areas.
(3) PRT – Provincial Reconstruction Team; ePRT – Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team lives and operates within a US military combat team at the Brigade level or lower. The PRT concept began in 2002 in Afghanistan. A PRT is defined in the “Provincial Reconstruction Team Playbook” Center for Army Lessons Learned as “… a means to … stabilize an area through an integrated civilian-military focus. It combines the diplomatic, military and developmental components of the various agencies … to help improve stability by building up the capacity of the host nation to govern; enhance economic viability; and deliver essential public services such as security, law and order, justice, health care, and education. Once the stability objectives have been fulfilled, PRTs can begin to dismantle and the traditional diplomatic and developmental programs will operate within their normal venues.” Total PRTs in Iraq (09/2008) are 31: US PRT 11, Coalition 3, ePRT 13, and PST 4 (Provincial Support Teams).
Monday, March 9, 2009
Regional integration is not new to Central America. In the Spring of 1856, the region was probably more united than at any other time in its history. An allied army comprised of soldiers from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador backed by British and US business interests fought a bloody war against William Walker and his followers. Disease, superior numbers and national spirit brought victory to the allies and influenced Central America’s relationship with the United States for generations to come.
During the recent war in Iraqi, I caught glimpses of Walker’s ghost in some of the Hispanic media stories. It seemed to me at times the US was portrayed as the arrogant bully; the subliminal message was … this had been done before, in a different place and a different time. That message was unfair but perception creates its own reality and how the world perceives our actions depends as much on the past as on the present. Faulkner wrote in “Requiem for a Nun” that, “The past is not dead. It’s not even past.” Understanding what William Walker did in Central America is important to understanding how Central Americans view the United States and our actions in the region. A historical perspective can help us understand the present and better deal with the future.
William Walker was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1824. By 19 he had graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania to become one of the youngest physicians in US. He continued his studies at the Sorbonne then returned to America and began studying law. At 22 he was admitted to the bar and, after serving as a law clerk for a short period, he became the editor of The Crescent, a New Orleans newspaper. Later he traveled to California and became the editor of a newspaper in San Francisco. This was the era of Manifest Destiny, the relatively easy war with Mexico and the annexation of its territory in the West, the California gold rush and the need to spread the glory and civilizing power of American democracy and values. San Francisco became the jumping off point for expeditions to Mexico and Central America. Walker traded in the pen for a gun and at 5 foot 3 inches tall and 130 pounds became a filibuster (derived from the Dutch for freebooter or adventurer).
Walker’s first attempt at glory was in Baja California where, with 45 men, he declared the “Republic of Lower California.” After some initial success, he was defeated by the Mexicans and forced to flee back to the United States. Walker then focused on Nicaragua. He arrived on June 28, 1855, to fulfill a contract with Liberal leader Francisco Castellon calling for the delivery of 300 colonists available for military duty in exchange for land and cash (mercenaries) to aid in Nicaragua’s ongoing civil war. The Liberals were known as the Democrats and had Leon as their home base. The Conservatives were centered in Granada and were known as the Legitimists. Their name was based on their assertion that their claim to govern was legitimately derived from the 1854 constitution. Walker’s army consisted of 57 men and was christened the American Phalanx by Castellon. The first action of the Phalanx was a frontal assault on heavily fortified Conservative positions at Rivas. Walker’s troops gained the main plaza but were then surrounded and had to fight their way out sustaining 38 percent casualties. The Americans re-grouped after this defeat, received additional recruits from the US and planned an attack on Granada. Walker commandeered a boat from the Accessory Transit Company and landed his force near Granada in the early hours of October 13, 1855. The city fell with little resistance.
With Granada under his control (and the most prominent Conservative families as his hostages), Walker convinced the Conservatives to surrender. He then disbanded the Conservative and Liberal armies and declared an “all volunteer” force. In the meantime, new recruits arrived via the Transit Company. A loan of $20,000 was made to Walker by the Company and additional filibusters were brought in at a discounted $20 per passenger from the United States. Walker rigged an election and had himself declared President of Nicaragua. More than 11,000 “immigrants” including women and children from the US came to Nicaragua during two years that he was in power. While Walker’s total force was estimated by one of his officers to have been 2,500 men although he never mounted a single force in excess of 750 men for any one battle. There was a continuous flow of filibusters to replace the large number of casualties from battle and disease as the war intensified. Before the war ended, more than 1,000 North Americans died making the War in Nicaragua more costly than the Spanish American War fought four decades later. As the war turned against Walker and his forces, he took more drastic actions. At one point he burned Granada to the ground and posted a sign that stated, “Here was Granada.”
Central America unified and fought Walker. Volunteers came from all parts of Latin America for a war of liberation against the Americans in Nicaragua. Heroic efforts were made by the Allies. Juan Santamaria became Costa Rica’s national hero in the Second Battle of Rivas as he died torching a house held by the filibusters. An all-Nicaraguan force at San Jacinto defeated the filibusters and Andres Castro became a hero for killing a filibuster with a rock when his carbine misfired. As the battle casualties and losses from cholera mounted, Walker’s force became weaker. After a review of the Transit Company records, Walker claimed the company owed Nicaragua (that is, Walker) $400,000 in unpaid royalties. He revoked the company’s charter and Cornelius Vanderbilt. entered the fight against him. On May 1, 1857, Walker fled from Nicaragua. It is estimated that up to 10,000 Central Americans were killed or wounded during the war.
There is something in Walker’s story that is with us still. He personified cultural arrogance and the belief of his time that America’s duty was to take “civilization” to the world. In his book, “The War in Nicaragua”, Walker stated his views on achieving economic and social development --- his comments sound as if his mission were to build and develop Nicaragua.
“ … to destroy an old political organization is a comparatively easy task, and little besides force is required for its accomplishment; but to build up and re-constitute society --- to gather the materials from the four quarters, and construct them into a harmonious whole, fitted for the uses of a new civilization --- requires more than force, more than genius for the work, and agents with which to complete it. Time and patience, as well as skill and labor, are needed for success; and they who undertake it, must be willing to devote a lifetime to the work.”
Walker did little to strengthen Nicaragua (although he did set up a short-lived land registry and tried to develop a functioning land market) and he did much damage (the razing of Granada, summary executions, etc.). His was an age of almost religious fervor in the belief that America’s way of life was best for the world. Manifest Destiny was the battle cry and we had the duty to take our values to the world.
As Americans, we tend to fix things, to right wrongs and to build new social orders. The experience of William Walker and other events in our past point to a need to temper these traits with a greater attempt to understand why others are like they are and what can be done to influence change rather than force it.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The story begins with a description of the low point of the war, Haditha, a village 150 miles northwest of
During the period 2003 to 2006,
Prior to Petraeus’ decision to develop the counterinsurgency manual, there was a realization among field commanders that a change was needed and three forward thinking commanders, two Marines and an Army Col., established the first successful counterinsurgency strategies in
 Different citations for who gets credit for the surge – p. 15 “The answer for what to do in Iraq would come largely through one person, Gen. David Petraeus, who over the next year would lead the way in determining how to revamp the US approach to the war.” pp. 59 – 60 – Four commanders operating first in Northen Iraq (Tall Afar – between Mosul and the Syrian border) where in 2005 Col. H.R. McMaster, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, established the war’s first successful counterinsurgency campaign in Tall Afar. p. 60 – In far northwest
 In reading the “The Gamble”, I can compare my ground level view to the events that went into a change in strategy with the military surge, initiation of Concerned Local Citizens (Sons of Iraq), improved “unity of effort” actions (more effective and engaged PRTs), and better execution of classic COIN strategy (protect the local population, move into the communities, increase local government legitimacy, etc.).
 Misc. Passages - p. 133 – On his fourth day in
- ▼ 2009 (9)