Journal: Pakistan-Afghanistan War

04 Inter-State Conflict, 05 Civil War, 05 Energy, 07 Other Atrocities, 08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism, 10 Security, Government, Military, Peace Intelligence, Strategy

Phi Beta Iota: Zbigniew Brzezinski is doing an enormous amount of damage in his hidden counsel to the White House; if John Hamre replaces Bob Gates in January as has been discussed, this will get worse, not better.  Below are a few odds and ends from various contributing editors, consolidated here to avoid beating a dead horse with too many postings.   We have not sought to reconcile contradictory points of view, only to honor the importance of listening to diverse points of view.   The London Telegraph piece is reproduced in full as it has disappeared from online view.

Chuck Spinney Sends on Religious Fundamentalism and the Rise of the Corporate State on What Is Living and What Is Dead in Social Democracy? on Soldiers’ Complaints of Shoddy Gear Spur Inquiry by House Democrats

Webster Tarpley Sends on Obama’s War Against Pakistan on End the War Rally Videos on  No Wind of Change After Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

Obama’s West Point speech of December 1 represents far more than the obvious brutal escalation in Afghanistan — it is nothing less than a declaration of all-out war by the United States against Pakistan.

Victor Davis Hansen on  Obama’s Wheel of Fortune: The president’s luck has changed — and he doesn’t seem to have noticed

Marcus Aurelius Sends:  Special Forces Unite To Destroy Taliban Leaders London Sunday Telegraph  December 13, 2009  Pg. 2 By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent

British and US special forces are set to open a new front in southern Afghanistan in a bid to “break the back” of the Taliban insurgency.

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Journal: Weak Signals–Civil War in the USA?

08 Wild Cards, Civil Society, Collective Intelligence, Ethics, Government, Law Enforcement

The European Union Times
The European Union Times

Missouri Billboard Warns: “Prepare For War” Against Government (12 December 2009)

A new billboard off of Interstate 70 in Missouri provides a short “citizens guide to REVOLUTION of a corrupt government” and issues a call to “PREPARE FOR WAR.”

This billboard replaces one that warned that the socialist “Obama-Nation” is “coming for you.” It’s unclear who the owner of the billboard is, but the first one was the work of a “Missouri businessman.”

While it’s unclear who owns it, the Lafayette County Republican Central Committee seems to endorse it.

U.S. Forces Plan Direct Action Against American Citizens (11 December 2009)

“There is an event coming in the very near-term future that is going to effect the USA to its very soul,” former Kansas State Trooper Greg Everson of The Heartland USA and former host of Republic Broadcasting “Voices from the Heartland” told host Steve Quayle in a special two hour “Survive 2 Thrive” broadcast Thursday.

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Worth a Look: Contractors in Stability Operations

10 Security, 10 Transnational Crime, Commerce, Commercial Intelligence, Worth A Look

Stability Operations for Dummies: The Role of the Prvate Sector in Iraq (YouTube Briefing)

Doug Brooks, founding President of the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) has a video circulating that offers the soft sales pitch for outsourcing “contingency support.”  It is all positive and completely avoids all of the negatives, such as:

1.  Pillaging and disrupting existing intelligence and special operations ranks by incentivizing early retirement.

2.  Cost 3x to 10X that of a uniformed or civil service source.

3.  Profit motive rather than mission motive.

4.  Pretends contractor mistakes are not politically accountable.

5.  Pretends contractors actually favor low-cost locals (which radically reduces overhead profits)

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Journal: Europe is Reading….

Collaboration Zones, Communities of Practice, Ethics, Policies
Berto Jongman
Berto Jongman

Researcher Berto Jongman recommends…..

New Tech in Emergencies and Conflicts

Our latest report — New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts: The Role of Information and Social Networks — looks at innovation in the use of technology along the timeline of crisis response, from emergency preparedness and alerts to recovery and rebuilding.

Countering Threats to Security and Stability in a Failing State: Lessons from Colombia By Peter DeShazo, Johanna Mendelson Forman, Phillip McLean Sep 29, 2009     PDF Free Online

Humanitarian Military Intervention: The Conditions for Success and Failure
by Taylor B. Seybolt (Amazon Page)

Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction (US Institute for Peace and U.S. Army Peackeeping Institute) Free PDF and also at Amazon

Terrorism in Asymmetrical Conflict: Ideological and Structural Aspects
By Ekaterina Stepanova SIPRI Research Report no. 23  Summary and Free PDF and also at Amazon

Counting the Costs of Somali Piracy (US Institute for Peace)  Free PDF

Journal: Afghanistan Views–USAF Flag & SOF Major

Collaboration Zones, Communities of Practice, Ethics, Key Players, Policies, Threats
Chuck Spinney
Chuck Spinney
USAF Flag Strategy for AF
USAF Flag Strategy for AF

Chuck Spinney Sends….

Here are two opposing views on how to win in Afghanistan:

1. An Air Force general’s view from the Top Down

2. Army Special Forces major’s view from the bottom up

SOF Major AF Strategy
SOF Major Strategy for AF

My comment: While I think the major is far closer to reality than the general, I would argue that the Pentagon, which is run by generals, does not have a clue how to go about executing the major’s strategy, if they chose to do so  — and they won’t.  But that might not matter, because, paradoxically, I think the major’s excellent appreciation of the Afghan conundrum illustrates indirectly why we need to get out of Afghanistan asap.

There are at least two reasons why this is so:

First, the military has no clue how to execute the kind of strategy advocated by the major. That is why General McChrystal asked for a large increase in conventional troops.  The surge just approved by the President shows (a) that the military is completely wedded to an approach that uses a large US footprint, centralized command and control, and a reliance on heavy firepower, like the AF general’s predilection for bombing; and (b) the politicians are wedded to the concept that strengthening an already corrupt centralized Afghan gov’t and Afghan national army and national police forces will “win the hearts and minds” of the rural population.

Note that the weakest parts of the major’s excellent analysis occur when he tries to reconcile support of the Afghan central government and Afghan national army with his decentralized tribal strategy — they can not be reconciled except through tribal mediation processes that start a village level jirgas and slowly work upwards to “national” level loya jirga.  But that traditional approach would result in a repudiation of the central gov’t as it is now constituted.

Second. I am not sure there will ever be enough time to make his strategy work on a war-winning scale. As the major makes clear, we are struggling to deal with a culture that is based on profoundly important concepts of honor and revenge.  Planners in Washington and Kabul are trying to shape the cultural DNA of a rural tribal society that is the product of a 3000 years of cultural evolution.  This culture may seem primitive to strategists in Washington trying to export the our way of life (not the major, who clearly understands that strategy must be shaped by the mores of the Afghan culture), but this tribal culture is in fact a highly evolved in a complex relationship to its environment.  The problem as I see it is that  too much water has gone over the dam since we foolishly began trying to cynically manipulate the value systems of this tribal culture by inflating the Islamic crazies in late 1970s (with goal of making it more likely that Sov’s would invade and enmesh the Sovs in their Vietnam-like quagmire).

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Officers Call: A Conversation About Iraq II

02 China, 04 Inter-State Conflict, 05 Civil War, 05 Iran, 10 Security, Analysis, Ethics, IO Sense-Making, Military, Officers Call, Peace Intelligence
Officers Call on Iraq II
Officers Call on Iraq II


There’s nothing inherently wrong with the analysis of Al Qaeda (I just glanced at it, if you wish I can read in detail today).  The PROBLEM lies not so much in how we analyze support to terrorism (state, crime, other) but rather in the way we analyze (or rather do NOT analyze) EVERYTHING.

Here’s what I have thrown together for you, in six pages with links.

Summary of Contents (OC Iraq II)

  • Why We Missed the Threat
  • Terrorism is Threat Number Nine Out of Ten
  • Terrorism is a Tactic, Al Qaeda an Interest Group
  • Without Legitimacy Forget About Stabilization
  • Rebalancing the Instruments of National Power
  • Three Things Secret Intelligence Cannot Do
  • Advise & Assist Transition to Exit Menu
    • Strategic Communications
    • Inter-Agency Professionals
    • Regional Concordat
    • Faith Brigades
    • Redirect Funds Toward Waging Peace
    • Contain Israel
    • Make Nice with China

Officers Call on Iraq I

Semper Fidelis,  Robert