Peace Operations in Africa: Lessons Learned Since 2000
Given that since 2000 there have been over 50 peace-centered operations conducted in 18 African countries, this brief asks a simple question — what key lessons have we learned from these missions? In answering the question, the brief hones in on seven particular lessons learned, including 1) peace operations must be part of an effective political strategy and not a substitute for one, 2) strategic coordination between a variety of actors is crucial to enhancing the effectiveness of operations, and 3) maintaining legitimacy in the eyes of the ‘relevant audiences’ is crucial.
Jailbreaks in Iraq. A surge in Syria. A growing presence in Lebanon. The terrorist group’s influence is on the rise, says Bruce Riedel.
TheDailyBeast.com, July 26, 2013
Two spectacular al Qaeda prison breaks in Iraq, freeing over 500 of its members in two separate prisons simultaneously this week, demonstrate the group is back with a vengeance. Al Qaeda’s Iraq branch is also the moving force behind the jihadist success in Syria. The resurgence of al Qaeda in Iraq has sobering implications for what is likely to follow the drawdown of NATO forces in Afghanistan for the al Qaeda mother ship in Pakistan.
Th e speed of change throughout the Middle East and North Africa since 2011 has demonstrated that a policy of Soviet-era containment manifested since the Cold War by support for repressive dictatorships that suppressed, rather than emancipated their populations, catalysed the appeal of Al-Qaeda. Instead, as the Arab Spring has shown, populations desire economic growth, employment and good governance in the place of the defi cient development outcomes, conflict and militancy that characterise life in so much of this region. As the recently released US National Strategy for Counterterrorism elucidates, a comprehensive approach to tackling Al-Qaeda must include “objectives such as promoting responsive governance and respect for the rights of citizens, which will reduce Al-Qaeda’s resonance and relevancy.”149
Every dying Empire has its truth telling prophet and America had its own with Chalmers Johnson. Johnson correctly compared the decay of the American empire, with its well over 600 overseas military bases, with the fall of the Roman Empire whereas the Senate becomes a wealthy corporate club and irrelevant compared to the ruling Military Industrial Congressional Complex
Chalmers Johnson was a truth teller and prophet in a political environment where few would stand up to the interests and secrecy of the Pentagon and the intelligence community ~ and since his passing in November of 2010, many of his prophetic fears have been realized in the Obama administration.
We have a word for the conscious slaughter of a racial or ethnic group: genocide. And one for the conscious destruction of aspects of the environment: ecocide. But we don’t have a word for the conscious act of destroying the planet we live on, the world as humanity had known it until, historically speaking, late last night. A possibility might be “terracide” from the Latin word for earth. It has the right ring, given its similarity to the commonplace danger word of our era: terrorist.
The truth is, whatever we call them, it’s time to talk bluntly about the terrarists of our world. Yes, I know, 9/11 was horrific. Almost 3,000 dead, massive towers down, apocalyptic scenes. And yes, when it comes to terror attacks, the Boston Marathon bombings weren’t pretty either. But in both cases, those who committed the acts paid for or will pay for their crimes.
In the case of the terrarists — and here I’m referring in particular to the men who run what may be the most profitablecorporations on the planet, giant energy companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell — you’re the one who’s going to pay, especially your children and grandchildren. You can take one thing for granted: not a single terrarist will ever go to jail, and yet they certainly knew what they were doing.
It wasn’t that complicated. In recent years, the companies they run have been extracting fossil fuels from the Earth in ever more frenetic and ingenious ways. The burning of those fossil fuels, in turn, has put record amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Only this month, the CO2 level reached 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. A consensus of scientists has long concluded that the process was warming the world and that, if the average planetary temperature rose more than two degrees Celsius, all sorts of dangers could ensue, including seas rising high enough to inundate coastal cities, increasingly intenseheat waves, droughts, floods, ever more extreme storm systems, and so on.
How to Make Staggering Amounts of Money and Do In the Planet
My Body Mass Index (BMI) is where it needs to be, hoping to go dark in near term (30-45 days). Anyone that wants to talk new and evolving craft of intelligence, Open Source Everything (OSE), and M4IS2, now is the time. Particularly interested in engaging on the below new briefing that was developed as combined keynote (45 min) and workshop (2 hrs), would like to refine it with a firm eye on the subordinate nature of intelligence within the larger Information Operations (IO) landscape that has been totally hosed by NSA and the obsession on cyber-bucks instead of cyber-brains. Meanwhile, until I am on payroll, donations are gratefully received and individually acknowledged, and I would absolutely love to present both of these once, on video, as a milestone that can be placed into the public domain as with my M4IS2 presentation in Chile.
[note: a shorter version of this essay also appeared in Counterpunch here]
In the summer of 2002, during the lead up to the Iraq War, a White House official expressed displeasure about with article written by journalist Ron Suskind in Esquire. He asserted people like Suskind were trapped “in what we call the reality-based community,” which the official defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.”
Suskind murmured something about enlightenment principles grounded in scientific empiricism, but the official cut him off, saying,
“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
This is a revealing statement about the mentality in the Bush White House prior to the Iraq War.
Think about it: in effect, the official is claiming the mind of a decider, who is tasked with making decisions to cope with the constraints of the real world, has the power to create a new reality over and over again. Therefore the decider need not be worried about matching his actions against those constraints, or even observing those constraints, before making his decisions.
Arrogant? To be sure.
Unusual inside the Beltway? Not really, based on my experience in the Pentagon.
But this outlook also reflects an incredibly stupid and dangerous way to orient one’s decision cycle to events in the real world.
Telling the truth to those who have replaced intelligence with ideology and integrity with loyalty to something other than their Republic is most difficult and more often than not will get you fired, because those without integrity tend to be promoted in corrupt systems, and they see clearly the threat to their world-view — and their perks — of someone who persists in pointing out that the truth at any cost reduces all other costs.
Reform can be job and revenue neutral from state to state and district to district — and is of course subject to Congressional oversight via the authorization and appropriations process. Below are seven truths about the US military that I would like to see introduced into the hearings on the confirmation of the next Secretary of Defense, and ideally also tasked to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), where the senior specialist for each of the major services is capable of validating my views.
ON A BRISK SPRING Tuesday in 1976, a pair of executives from the Sugar Association stepped up to the podium of a Chicago ballroom to accept the Oscar of the public relations world, the Silver Anvil award for excellence in ” the forging of public opinion. ” The trade group had recently pulled off one of the greatest turnarounds in PR history. For nearly a decade, the sugar industry had been buffeted by crisis after crisis as the media and the public soured on sugar and scientists began to view it as a likely cause of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Industry ads claiming that eating sugar helped you lose weight had been called out by the Federal Trade Commission, and the Food and Drug Administration had launched a review of whether sugar was even safe to eat. Consumption had declined 12 percent in just two years, and producers could see where that trend might lead. As John “JW” Tatem Jr. and Jack O’Connell Jr., the Sugar Association’s president and director of public relations, posed that day with their trophies, their smiles only hinted at the coup they’d just pulled off.
The below BBC report, Afghanistan’s ‘green on blue’ collapse of trust, places the fatal flaw in the McChrystal plan used by Mr. Obama to justify the Afghan surge in 2010 — namely General McChrystal’s failure to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the plan to rapidly build up the Afghan Army/police — into sharp relief.
This flaw was unconscionable for at least two reasons:
First, Obama’s surge was premised on achieving quick results that would enable a rapid withdrawal of the “surge” force. That withdrawal that has now take place, despite the fact the surge did not achieve its desired result, namely weakening the Taliban to a level where it would be forced to parley on our terms.
Second, our disastrous experience with South Vietnamese army should have taught the American military the fallacy of rapidly building up a huge army, cut out of whole cloth, in America’s own high-cost, logistics-intensive image. Armies — at least successful ones — take time to build and must be compatible with the culture from which they emanate.
That this fatal flaw was easy to see well before the fact. For example, I wrote about it here, here, here, and herein 2009 and early 2010, before the surge took effect — and I was not alone.
This grotesque oversight proves the post-Vietnam reforms touted by the US military and the Reagan Administration (which chose to throw money at the problem) were entirely cosmetic and did not get to the roots of the malaise that led to our defeat in Vietnam, notwithstanding the parades, yellow ribbons, and juvenile braggadocio that accompanied our rout of Saddam’s tin pot army in 1991. Kosovo (for reasons explained in Domestic Roots of Perpetual War), the 2nd Iraq War (the existence of which gave made a lie of our claim of a decisive victory in 1991), and now our clear defeat in Afghanistan are or ought to be lessons to the contrary. They certainly would be treated as such in a healthy society that endeavors to correct its errors instead of compounding them by sweeping them under a rug.
The Volume I report of the Decade of War study discusses the eleven strategic themes that arose from the study of the enduring lessons and challenges of the last decade:
Understanding the Environment: A failure to recognize, acknowledge, and accurately define the operational environment led to a mismatch between forces, capabilities, missions, and goals.
Conventional Warfare Paradigm: Conventional warfare approaches often were ineffective when applied to operations other than major combat, forcing leaders to realign the ways and means of achieving effects.