Thursday, January 31, 2013

Consequences Of Inaction

Suriya al kubra!

44's curiously whistling past the cemetery meme RE: Syria
Kinda seems as though the horrors of Syria, where more than 60,000 people have died violently in the last 22 months, could not grow worse. Yet steadily, week by week, they do. One measure is the refu­gee flows: In the past month more than 30,000 people have fled to neighboring Jordan alone, threatening to overwhelm an already unstable monarchy. More than 200,000 Syrians are now in Lebanon, 150,000 in Turkey and 75,000 in Iraq, according toUN. A group of senators who recently visited a camp heard horrific stories of the ongoing crimes by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, as well as bitter complaints that Western countries — in particular, Great Satan — are doing little or nothing to help.

The longer the Assad regime holds on, the worse the consequences — was acknowledged by senior 44th administration officials nearly a year ago. The incoming madame secretary of state, John F. Kerry, repeated it at his confirmation hearing last week: “Every day that goes by, it gets worse.” From that follows a logical conclusion, stated Monday by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius: “If we don’t give the means to the Syrian people to go achieve their freedom, there is a risk . . . that massacres and antagonisms amplify, and that extremism and terrorism prevail.”

In speaking about Syria in recent days, Madame Sec Kerry and 44 described not a strategy for stopping a bloodbath that threatens vital  interests  - yet instead a series of excuses for inaction. In an interview with the New Republic published over the weekend, 44 wondered how to “weigh” the thousands dying in Syria against the thousands being killed in the Congo, as if all wars are of equal importance to Great Satan or the inability to solve every problem means America should not help even where it can.


See, Great Satan could like, you know, make things more worse  and “trigger even worse violence or the use of chemical weapons.”

Uh, say what? 

 In the absence of Great Satan action, the violence grew far worse and the Assad regime moved dangerously close to using chemical arms.  
Great Satan could do much to shape the course of events in Syria without using American troops. She could begin providing aid directly to Syrian refu­gee organizations and civilian councils inside the country, as France has done for months. It could provide arms to moderate rebel factions, so that they can compete with the jihadists and so that they will look to Great Satan when the war is over. Continued passivity will ensure that the crisis in Syria continues to worsen — along with the consequences for Great Satan

Pic - "Wait til it gets even more regional!" 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Free Advice!

As Great Satan fixes to fire up her 1st guy Madame Sec o State since the before time with Sen Kerry, one of the smartest cookies in the box gives out some killer advice...

1. Set priorities, and communicate them clearly. 

Only the secretary of state can cut through the miasma of issues, initiatives, dialogues, and summits which can shroud the State Department and set priorities for American diplomacy. The secretary's strategic guidance should not only outline his vision of American interests, but his vision of how the State Department is to pursue them.

The secretary's words and actions can make the difference between a culture in which problems are brought to the surface quickly and resolved head-on, and one in which they are swept under the rug. As in the case of both Iraq and Libya, reality frequently can clash with an administration's preferred narrative; American diplomats must feel empowered to make policy based on the former rather than the latter.

To be useful to diplomats in the field, such guidance must be both concise and realistic. Current planning documents do not fit the bill. State's Congressional Budget Justification is 853 pages, with a 174-page executive summary. Another document titled "State-USAID Agency Priority Goals for 2012-2013" is commendably brief, but many of the priorities it lists stand at odds with the reality of how U.S. officials spend their time and resources.

In the real world, strategic guidance must also be adaptive. The secretary cannot just set priorities and put the Department on cruise control; he should implement a process of regular (if informal) review with his senior staff to assess progress and make any necessary adaptations to his strategic guidance.

2. Empower your lieutenants. 

It is not enough to merely issue sound guidance, however; it must be enforced through lieutenants.

This means, first and foremost, appointing a personal staff which understands both the State Department and the secretary, and can serve as an effective liaison between the two. In practice, this means employing a combination of political appointees and talented Foreign Service officers (FSOs) in the secretary's staff. Including the latter is key; political appointees are often wary of career FSOs, but their familiarity with the quirks of State and experience in the field can help the secretary and other appointees navigate the bureaucracy and bring to their attention issues which might otherwise pass unnoticed.

Beyond the secretary's personal staff, it is important that the secretary have an empowered and trusted cabinet of assistant secretaries. Much of the heavy lifting in the State Department is done by assistant secretaries, especially those responsible for the geographic regions. The secretary should place top-caliber officials in these roles, regardless of whether they are career officials or political appointees, meet with them regularly and work through them, and hold them accountable for their portfolios.

Special attention should be paid to the Policy Planning office. The director and staff of Policy Planning should be foreign policy scholars willing and able to challenge policy orthodoxy and mine the broader analytical community for fresh ideas. In particular, they should be comfortable dealing with critics of the administration and its policies; while foreign policy experts in Washington may be increasingly partisan, foreign policy ideas should not be.

3. Declutter and Delayer the Bureaucracy.

 For assistant secretaries to be truly empowered, State needs to limit its use of special envoys to truly exceptional circumstances, and ensure clear lines of authority on key issues.

The overuse of special envoys increases the risk of a sort of diplomatic principal-agent problem. An envoy, with his focus on a single issue or conflict to which his professional fortunes are inextricably linked, has every incentive to prioritize it over issues which may have or develop a greater bearing on the national interest. On the flip side, the regional assistant secretary who has high-profile issues removed from his portfolio and handed to an envoy has correspondingly less influence with diplomatic counterparts and authority within the bureaucracy he oversees.

There are occasionally issues that call for the appointment of a special envoy -- for example, when a negotiation is ripe for resolution or an issue arises which demands sustained high-level attention or cuts across regional boundaries and might otherwise not receive the focus it deserves. Envoy positions should be rare, should complement rather than duplicate the existing chain of command, and should not be used merely to signal that an issue is important. And whether or not an envoy is employed, it should be clear to all who is in charge of and accountable for an issue.

Just as important as empowering assistant secretaries is empowering the rank-and-file and ensuring that the secretary has access to them and their expertise. As currently configured, there can be eight layers or more between the drafter of a memo and its ultimate recipient, the secretary -- and this figure does not even account for the numerous offices which must "clear" a memo before it even begins to ascend that chain. A savvy desk officer can circumvent much of this bureaucracy by cultivating the right contacts on the Department's seventh floor, but in doing so risks alienating colleagues alongside whom they will work far longer than they will serve any particular secretary of state.

The new secretary should remove some of these layers of bureaucracy. A flatter organizational structure would not only close the gap between him and the subject matter expertise he needs to be effective, but it would make those experts' jobs far more challenging and rewarding and likely raise both the morale and performance of the State Department as a whole.

4. Emphasize Training and Review the Foreign Service Business Model. 

Removing layers of the bureaucracy should not mean shrinking the Foreign Service, however -- it should be used as an opportunity to increase amount of training provided to FSOs. It's frequently observed that FSOs receive far less training over their careers than their military counterparts; what is less well known is that a significant portion of the training they do receive has little to do with statecraft and is instead consumed with language learning and management workshops. To address this, the new secretary should order a review of the courses offered by the Foreign Service Institute and ensure that it adequately prepares FSOs for the challenges they will face in the field. The average FSO has likely taken the Myers-Briggs assessment multiple times, but has had few or no opportunities to engage in serious study of diplomacy or international relations once in the Foreign Service.

In order to effectively craft and target an expanded training regimen, the secretary should consider undertaking a broader review of how the Foreign Service does business. The much-touted Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) begins with an image of a "jeep wind[ing] its way through a remote region of a developing country," carrying a "State Department diplomat with deep knowledge of the area's different ethnic groups."

In fact, however, the State Department does little to cultivate such individuals. Instead, State emphasizes a generalist model, which discourages the sort of deep specialization evoked in the QDDR. While the generalist approach is not without advantages, many FSOs would argue that increasing globalization -- the increasing travel of Washington-based officials, and the ease of direct communication between capitals, for example -- paradoxically puts a greater premium on specialization and deep local knowledge.

They would also argue that security is as much a matter of possessing a deep familiarity and understanding of a place as it is of physical measures such as barriers and bodyguards, and that worthwhile intelligence analysis requires not just technical collection and academic study but on-the-ground experience that allows one to connect seemingly disparate dots. The FSO's frustration is that often he or she is restricted to a diplomatic compound rather than permitted to venture out in that jeep, and armed not with "deep knowledge" but with brief preparation and a predecessor's rolodex.

Assuming he is confirmed, John Kerry will have a running start at being a successful secretary of state, armed both with the personal capabilities and human capital within State to do the job. But these elements -- the secretary and the bureaucracy he commands -- will not fall automatically into alignment. Avoiding the next diplomatic crisis -- and more importantly seizing the tremendous opportunities in America's path -- will require more than foreign policy virtuosity. It will require that the new secretary invest time and effort in the less glamorous but equally essential task of leading and managing.
 Pic - "Resolving thorny policy problems requires not just historical analysis, but also the courage and conviction to choose, amid great uncertainty, among risky options."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Model Army

Great Britain's all volunteer army redesigns for a leaner, meaner and - let us chat openly luv - tinier force than anytime since Captain Morgan took Panama.

The size and structure of the British Army is continually evolving, but as of 1 July 2012, the British Army employs; 107,340 full-time soldiers (103,590 Regulars, 3,750 Gurkhas) and 31,600 Territorial soldiers for a combined component strength of 138,500 soldiers. In addition there are 121,800 Regular Reserves of the British Army

Now Great Britain is hot for the Army 2020 thing and sizes down like this here: 
The best-manned and most extensively trained element of the redesigned army will be a ‘Reaction Force’ comprising a division made up of three armoured infantry brigades, a mixture of tanks and armoured infantry. Held at high readiness for overseas interventions, these will undertake 'hard fighting' against both conventional and hybrid opponents, as well as the toughest peace-enforcement missions. The Reaction Force will include 16 Air Assault Brigade, which will retain a unique mixture of parachute battalions and Apache attack helicopters, although its ground element is set to get smaller, as will the army's contribution to the Royal Navy's amphibious force, 3 Commando Brigade. Either brigade could be joined by armoured infantry brigades to make up a division-sized war-fighting formation.

 The second element will be an ‘Adaptable Force’, a division made up of seven infantry brigades of regular and reserve light cavalry regiments and infantry battalions ‘easily capable of adapting to a wide range of tasks'. 

Three brigades are designed to combine together to form up to two light all-arms brigades for an enduring stabilisation operation. Four smaller infantry brigades will be held at a lower state of readiness. New thinking suggests that the Adaptable Force could be used as a primary tool for UK military assistance and training to other countries. Its units are likely to be aligned to particular regions of the world, such as the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia, to establish closer links and develop broader understanding and language skills. The adaptable force will also be the primary source of support to the UK civil authorities.


The third element of the Army 2020 vision is a division of 'Force Troops', containing artillery, signals, engineer and medical brigades that will support the Reaction and Adaptable forces. Close support communications, engineers and artillery were previously part of the armoured and mechanised brigades. But, driven by the need to partner both regular and reserve units, and to make the most cost-effective use of equipment, the majority of support units are to be centralised in specialist brigades. Previously disparate surveillance, drone and intelligence units will be grouped into a single new intelligence and surveillance brigade. Signals units will be redesigned to deliver network and broadband access to battlefield units in new ways through deployed 'points of presence'. The army's hard-won expertise in countering improvised explosive devices is to be merged into a single group of engineer search teams, bomb-disposal operators and search dogs.

Pic - " British Army is actively engaged in operational duties across the globe ranging from peacekeeping to providing humanitarian aid, enforcing anti-terrorism measures to helping combat the international drugs trade."

Monday, January 28, 2013

"What Difference...Does It Make?"

Choking on the ashes of her enemies, Madame Sec HRC"s Let It Benghazi Be epitaph was horribly hokey


“We were misled that there were supposedly protests and an assault spraying out of that and it was easily obtained that it was not the fact the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that,” some Senator guy quized.

“The fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?” HRC shrieked

Uh, wait, what now? 
It makes a great deal of difference because understanding how this all happened is the first step to making sure it doesn't happen over and over and over again.

44 went to United Nations and bitch-slapped free expression in front of a global audience on the premise that some movie was the cause of the attack on Benghazi. Our own U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, took to the talk shows to peddle a line that was either wilfully misleading or simply totally wrong (Rice was the admin's point person in early appearances about Benghazi partly because, as HRC fessed up, she doesn't dig Sunday morning shows!).

It gets worse 

Nor was the late Christopher Stevens any old ambassador but, rather, Secretary Clinton's close personal friend "Chris." It was all "Chris" this, "Chris" that, when HRC and 44 delivered their maudlin eulogies over the flag-draped coffin of their "friend." Gosh, you'd think if they were on such intimate terms, "Chris" might have had Hillary's email address, but apparently not. He was just one of 1.43 million close personal friends cabling the State Department every hour of the day.

In the very same self-serving testimony, the Secretary of State denied that she'd ever seen the late Ambassador Stevens' cables about the deteriorating security situation in Libya on the grounds that "1.43 million cables come to my office" – and she can't be expected to see all of them, or any. 

The question is plainly not whether Clinton is reading every doggoned communication addressed to her but whether she's got the right people in charge of assessing risk and making sure resources are apportioned accordingly. Tragically, the answer was no, especially given the fact that State had cut security in Benghazi despite attacks prior to the deadly 9/11 one! This just ain't no way to run things.




Saturday, January 26, 2013

WoW!!

WoW - the Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t)

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

 
See you next week! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter

Friday, January 25, 2013

Audie Murphy Day!!


For those of us born betwixt the Fall of the Wall and 911, we kinda grew up with Great Satan unbound. Until Operation Iraqi Freedom, for older Americans - battles and history were old school stuff that would probably never happen again.

As "Rock of The Marne" blitzed through the largest Arab army in history in 20 days, her combat power was unparalled:

"An infantry division in name only, fielding 270 Abrams M1 tanks with mobile infantry that could be hastily formed into adhoc battle groups to handle a variety of missions"

Thunder Running into downtown Baghdad, even phoning up the Iraqi Minister of Misinformation at Palestine Hotel to request "Parking for 88 tanks" seemed like the debut of audacious American war fighting.

Actually - "Rock of the Marne" was following in the footsteps of their spiritual great grandfathers

"On 26 January 1945, 2d Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by 6 tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to prepared positions in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. 

"Behind him, to his right, 1 of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 

"2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machinegun against the enemy.

"He was alone and exposed to German fire from 3 sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank.

"Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw.

"His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective.

"The President of the United States of America has awarded in the name of The Congress the MEDAL OF HONOR to LIEUTENANT AUDIE L. MURPHY, UNITED STATES ARMY

Today is the anniversary of Lt Murphy's heroic achievement - Americans everywhere should get on their knees and thank God Almighty for raising up this laughing race of free men.


Pic - "Our Heroes Live In Our Hearts"

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Generals

To misquote SpongeBob "First thing we do is fire all the Generals" 

This is the basic prescription of military journalist and writer Tom Ricks, who, in his new book, The Generals, blames our lack of success in Iraq and Afghanistan on the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s and our political leaders’ having lost the ability or willingness to fire failing generals. Unfortunately, many commentators are accepting this formula as true without asking some hard questions, such as: When and for what reasons should a general be fired?

 Should the Continental Congress, for instance, have sent George Washington into an early retirement after his dismal performance defending New York City? Should Lincoln have cashiered Grant after his less-than-stellar performance at Shiloh, or possibly a bit later, when he wasted six months flailing about in failed attempts to approach Vicksburg? Was General Lee ready for the scrap heap after his early failures in what is now West Virginia? 

Should President Wilson have called Pershing home, after he sat idle for over a year before getting into the fight and then, at the start of the great Meuse-Argonne offensive, saw his army mauled and stopped in its tracks? 

Should Roosevelt or the Joint Chiefs have fired Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher after he delivered so-so results at the Battle of the Coral Sea, and in the process lost one of our three precious carriers and had a second crippled? Of course, if Fletcher had been fired, he would not have been present at Midway, where he smashed the Japanese fleet and changed the course of the war.

After the World War II debacle at the Kasserine Pass, a corps commander, General Lloyd Fredenall, was fired. But the Army chief of staff, General George Marshall, could just as easily have found cause to fire Fredenall’s boss — General Eisenhower. I will spare you the list of superiors who could just as easily have been held responsible for setbacks as their fired subordinates. Suffice it to say, it is a long one, and populated with the names of some of our most famous commanders

So what explains the large number of reliefs in earlier wars and their paucity in the past decade of conflict? Mainly, it is a matter of the huge mobilizations required for those earlier wars. During America’s great wars in the 19th and 20th centuries, we created huge armies out of almost nothing.  

But such is not the case in today’s military. Every general officer in Iraq and Afghanistan achieved his rank only after at least two decades, proving his competence and preparing for advancement at each level. Long before they were promoted to the rank of general, our combat commanders had proven themselves as company, battalion, and brigade commanders, a level at which failures are often met with relief. Even after those experiences, almost every general in line to command one of our ten combat divisions still had to serve as assistant division commander for a couple of years before being entrusted with the division.

As Clausewitz put it: “War is an extension of politics by other means.” Thus, generals take their orders from politicians — and it is right that they do so. By 2006, our generals knew how to win in both Iraq and Afghanistan; all they required was the resources to do so and the time (winning a counterinsurgency always takes time). Instead, from 2008 on, resources began to dwindle, and commanders were told to start heading for the exits. Regardless of whether this was the right policy, it does explain the ultimate result.

Pic - "The Generals" 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mad Dog

Something kinda cool about command level Teufel Hunden nom d'guerr'd "Mad Dog."

General Mattis always laid it out to play it out - like in Iraq during Surge Time. Hooking up with dubious tribal leaders and  saying it out loud in a fun easy way way that ebberdobby could understand

 "I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f*** with me, I'll kill you all"

Now at CENTCOM Command, Mad Dog may be getting the old heave ho by political hacks at White House Command
Why the hurry? Pentagon insiders say that he rubbed civilian officials the wrong way -- not because he went all "mad dog," which is his public image, and the view at the White House, but rather because he pushed the civilians so hard on considering the second- and third-order consequences of military action against Iran. Some of those questions apparently were uncomfortable. Like, what do you do with Iran once the nuclear issue is resolved and it remains a foe? What do you do if Iran then develops conventional capabilities that could make it hazardous for U.S. Navy ships to operate in the Persian Gulf? He kept saying, "And then what?"

Inquiry along these lines apparently was not welcomed -- at least in the CENTCOM view. The White House view, apparently, is that Mattis was too hawkish, which is not something I believe, having seen him in the field over the years. I'd call him a tough-minded realist, someone who'd rather have tea with you than shoot you, but is happy to end the conversation either way.

Presidents should feel free to boot generals anytime they want, of course -- that's our system, and one I applaud. But ousting Mattis at this time, and in this way, seems wrong for several reasons:

TIMING: If Mattis leaves in March, as now appears likely, that means there will be a new person running CENTCOM just as the confrontation season with Iran begins to heat up again.

CIVIL-MILITARY SIGNALS: The message 44's Administration is sending, intentionally or not, is that it doesn't like tough, smart, skeptical generals who speak candidly to their civilian superiors. In fact, that is exactly what it (and every administration) should want. Had we had more back in 2003, we might not have made the colossal mistake of invading Iraq.  

SERVICE RELATIONS: 44's posse  might not recognize it, but they now have dissed the two Marine generals who are culture heroes in today's Corps: Mattis and Anthony Zinni. The Marines have long memories. I know some who are still mad at the Navy for steaming away from the Marines left on Guadalcanal. Mattis made famous in Iraq the phrase, "No better friend, no worse enemy." 44's White House should keep that in mind.  

Pic - "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Saudi Royal Stability

Aha! Perhaps the charming charm about absolute depotries is they absolutely collapse! And despotic collapses are not very pretty
Saudi Arabia is the world’s last absolute monarchy. Like Louis XIV, King Abdullah has complete authority to do as he likes. But while a revolution in Saudi Arabia is still not likely, the Arab Awakening has made one possible for the first time, and it could come in44's 2nd term

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a proven survivor. Two earlier Saudi kingdoms were defeated by the Ottoman Empire and eradicated. The Sauds came back. They survived a wave of revolutions against Arab monarchies in the 1950s and 1960s. A jihadist coup attempt in 1979 seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca but was crushed. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda staged a four-year insurrection to topple the Sauds and failed less than a decade ago. Saudi al Qaeda cadres remain in the kingdom and next door in Yemen.

Today the Arab Awakening presents the kingdom with its most severe test to date. The same demographic challenges that prompted revolution in Egypt and Yemen, a very young population and very high underemployment, apply in Saudi Arabia. Extreme gender discrimination, long-standing regional differences, and a restive Shia minority add to the explosive potential. In recognition of their vulnerability, the Saudi royals have spent more than $130 billion since the Arab Awakening began to try to buy off dissent at home. They have made cosmetic reforms to let women sit in a powerless consulting council.

 If an awakening takes place in Saudi Arabia, it will probably look a lot like the revolutions in the other Arab states. Already demonstrations, peaceful and violent, have wracked the oil rich Eastern Province for more than a year. These are Shia protests and thus atypical of the rest of the kingdom. Shia dissidents in ARAMCO, the Saudi oil company, also have used cyberwarfare to attack its computer systems, crashing more than 30,000 work stations this August. They probably received Iranian help.

The critical defender of the regime would be the National Guard. Abdullah has spent his life building this Praetorian elite force. The United States has trained and equipped it with tens of billions in helicopters and armored vehicles. But the key unknown is whether the Guard will shoot on its brothers and sisters in the street. It may fragment or it may simply refuse to suppress dissent if it is largely peaceful, especially at the start.

The succession issue adds another layer of complication. Both the king and crown prince are ill, and both are often unfit for duty. If Abdullah and/or Salman die as unrest begins—a real possibility—and a succession crisis ensues, then the kingdom could be even more vulnerable to revolution.

Revolution in Saudi Arabia would be a game changer. While the U.S. can live without Saudi oil, China, India, Japan, and Europe cannot.

 We should plan very quietly for the worst. The intelligence community should be directed to make internal developments, not just counterterrorism, its top priority in the kingdom now. We cannot afford a surprise like Iran in 1978, and we need to know the players in the opposition, especially the Wahhabi clerics, in depth. This will be a formidable challenge, but it is essential to preparing for a very dark swan.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Self Inflicted

It has been heralded as a humanitarian gesture and a sign of Arab leadership, but Qatar’s decision last week to double its $2.5 billion aid package to Egypt is also a telling indicator of the true economic state of affairs in post-revolutionary Egypt.

The prognosis is exceedingly grim. Two years after the ouster of long-serving strongman Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is in the throes of a full-blown economic crisis. Government reserves have dropped by more than half, plummeting from $36 billion in 2011 to just $15 billion today. That’s enough to cover just three months of imports of vital commodities such as food and petroleum. GDP growth has slowed to under 2 percent, and the country’s national currency, the Egyptian Pound, is in freefall. At the same time, unemployment has surged, now estimated at nearly 13 percent and rising. It’s no wonder that Maher Hamoud of the English-language Daily News Egypt recently likened the country’s economy to “a mud house in the rainy season.”

These statistics are all the more tragic because they could have been avoided. 

The February 2011 ouster of Mubarak was followed by a pronounced fiscal downturn, leading many to conclude that the country’s new, Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government—for all of its bluster to the contrary—wouldn’t impose radical changes on the country’s political direction. Instead, conventional wisdom held that the new powers-that-be in Cairo would, for both economic and political reasons, opt for a process of “creeping Islamization”—a slow, gradual changeover of the country’s civilian bureaucracy and legislature which wouldn’t rile international markets or spook jittery investors.

The conventional wisdom turned out to be wrong. In recent months, the Brotherhood has thrown caution to the wind and set about remaking the Egyptian state in its own image with a speed and ferocity that has surprised most onlookers.

In late November, in the wake of his public turn as peacemaker between Israel and Hamas, Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi made a significant power grab, issuing a presidential decree dramatically broadening his executive powers. Simultaneously, his government put forward a new draft constitution imbuing the country’s Islamist-dominated parliament with greater powers, trimming the size of Egypt’s Constitutional Court, and enshrining sharia as the law of the land. (The constitution was approved in a referendum the following month, and promptly signed into law by President Morsi). Since then Egypt has trended more authoritarian still, most recently via a draft law proposed by the Human Rights Committee of Egypt’s Shura Council which, if adopted, will significantly limit the rights of ordinary Egyptians to engage in political protest.

This anti-democratic drift might not have spurred Egypt’s economic ills, but it undoubtedly has made them worse. Tourism, the country’s economic lifeblood, which withered following Mubarak’s ouster in 2011, remains minimal as a result of widespread political and security concerns. The hotels in Egypt’s famed tourist town of Luxor, for example, are now reportedly mostly empty. Foreign direct investment into the country has dwindled to “near zero,” reports the Egypt Independent, as skittish investors seek greener pastures. And planned bailouts—chief among them a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund widely believed to be critical to Cairo’s fiscal health—have stalled amid the political turmoil.

The cumulative effect is that Egypt is fast becoming a Middle Eastern version of Haiti: a country without meaningful tourism, minimal foreign investment, massive capital flight, and eventually an exodus of its best and brightest. That, of course, will inevitably become a crisis for Egypt’s neighbors, who will be forced to shoulder the political and security burdens of its implosion. But most of all, it is a tragedy for Egyptians themselves, who, having once dreamed of greater political liberalism after Mubarak, have woken up to an economic nightmare presided over by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Submitted by Ilan Berman

Saturday, January 19, 2013

WoW!!

WoW - the Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t) 

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kill Our Way Out?

It's Friday and that means the latest installment of sourmouthed sourmouthing about Great Satan"s Dones Gone Wild

Essentially - 44's plan is to kill our way out of wild whack spots where Writ of State is as rare as a bookstore
Examination of the data on drone strikes in Pakistan raises questions about whether the Great Satan is actually waging a decapitation campaign. According to data collected by the New America Foundation, of the total number of people killed by drone strikes there (between 1,900 and 3,200), less than 3 percent of them (51) were "militant leaders." Furthermore, only 30 of these leaders were members of al Qaeda. 
 
The truth is that the drone campaign is not a decapitation or targeted killing campaign; it is an attrition campaign. Attrition strategies are not aimed at leaders but simply try to kill as many enemy foot soldiers as possible. In Vietnam, for example, Gen. William Westmoreland hoped to reach the "crossover point" at which American forces would kill Viet Cong faster than they could be replaced, forcing North Vietnamese leaders to end their effort to conquer South Vietnam. Of course, despite killing hundreds of thousands of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers, U.S. forces never reached the crossover point, partly because leaders greatly underestimated Hanoi's resolve, but also because tactics, which killed large numbers of South Vietnamese civilians, aided the North's cause.

The drone campaign in Pakistan is similarly an attrition strategy aimed ostensibly at members of al Qaeda. Although  drones occasionally eliminate terrorist commanders, the bulk of those killed are rank-and-file militants or civilians. The goal, in other words, appears to simply be to kill as many militants as possible. As the head of the CIA's counterterrorism center put it in March 2011, directly echoing Westmoreland's crossover point rhetoric, "We are killing these sons of bitches faster than they can grow them now." The extensive use of "signature strikes," where the threshold for being targeted is merely involvement in suspicious activity rather than individual identity, underscores the point that this is not a decapitation strategy.

Unfortunately, an attrition approach is unlikely to yield the desired results. First, Great Satan is aiming at the wrong target. Increasingly, drone strikes in Pakistan do not target al Qaeda members. According to Peter Bergen and Megan Braun at NAF, "under Bush, al Qaeda members accounted for 25% of all drone targets compared to 40% for Taliban targets. Under Obama, only 8% of targets were al Qaeda compared to just over 50% for Taliban targets." Al Qaeda and the Taliban overlap in Pakistan but do not share the same objectives. The goal of the Pakistani Taliban is, first and foremost, to take over Pakistan and establish a state governed by Islamic law. Fighting Great Satan comes in at a distant second, which raises questions about a strategy that predominantly targets this group.

Second, killing civilians can inadvertently aid the terrorist cause. Somewhere between 10 percent and 26 percent of all drone deaths in Pakistan are noncombatants. In historical terms these figures are relatively low for air campaigns, but every civilian death has the potential to generate terrorist recruits. In Yemen, for example, a soldier left his unit after a U.S. drone strike killed his nephew, telling a reporter, "I would fight even the devil to exact revenge for my nephew."

Third, rather than collapsing, the adversary is adapting. Recent reports indicate that al Qaeda has formed a punishment brigade known as the Khorasan that executes collaborators who provide intelligence for drone strikes, terrifying locals into keeping their mouths shut. 

Fourth, drone strikes have inflamed Pakistani public opinion toward the United States. Some 74 percent of Pakistanis now view the United States as an "enemy," compared with 60 percent in 2008, before the increase in drone strikes. The Pakistani population almost universally loathes the drone campaign, expanding the pool of potential militant sympathizers or recruits. 

Drone strikes are mostly killing low-level Pakistani militants, not al Qaeda leaders. This strategy is unlikely to cause the collapse of al Qaeda or even the Pakistani Taliban and may have counterproductive effects. Even if drones targeted leaders exclusively, it is unclear whether this strategy would destroy these groups. 

A new term may therefore require new thinking on drones.

Yes and yes - for enemies and their enablers LOL - not Great Satan

V2 Rocketry accomplished quite abit back in the last millennium - demoralizing Brits. They were silent - never knew when one might impolitely detonate - kinda like Drones Gone Wild. Hanging out with terrorists is a dangerous bit luv, and terrorists amidst civilian human shielding is a war crime itself.

And exactly whose fault is it that certain parts of Land of the Pure are off limits to cops and the widely vaunted (and LOL"d) PAK Army?

Drone Haters should do some new think about that 

Pic - "Oh! The humanity!!"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Spy Grrls

Oh! It is so mein fuhrer! Delightful little assets possessed by girls wielded in small doses can reap a bonanza of dividends in any environ.

Especially spycraft, schatzie

For female agents, life is like a spy-movie — though not always as glamorous. Theirs is a world of intrigue, sleepless nights and, sometimes, flirtation, in conditions of ever-lurking danger, all for the sake of the state

Especially Mossad Grrls
Interviews with the Hebrew-language Lady Globes newspaper, giving readers a tiny glimpse, from the female perspective, of the clandestine activities of Israel’s secret service. They talked about using their womenly wiles in the service of the state, and also about the limits to that use. No matter how vital the mission, there are some lengths, they made clear, to which they will not go, and will not be asked to go.
The women, who all hold ranks of commander or higher (the equivalent of brigadier generals or colonels in the IDF), have been involved in some of the agency’s most daring and important operations.

One of the agents, named only as Yael, indicated that flirting is fair game when it comes to national security. She told the magazine that women carry certain “advantages” over men: “A man who wants to gain access to a forbidden area has less chance of being allowed in… A smiling woman has a bigger chance of success.”

“We use our femininity because any means is valid,” confirmed Efrat, the most senior female operational commander in the Mossad. “But even if we think that the way to advance the mission is to sleep with [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, no one in the Mossad would allow us to do it. Women agents are not used for sexual purposes. We flirt, but the line is drawn at sex.”

One of the Mossad’s most notable operations that deployed women was in 1987, when a female agent, “Cindy,” lured Mordechai Vanunu — a nuclear technician at the Dimona plant who sold the “secrets of Israel’s nuclear arsenal” to the Sunday Times — from London to Italy. Vanunu was then drugged and brought back to Israel in a ship to face trial.

Efrat noted soberly that she knows her “life is over” if she is caught — and said it’s a risk she’s willing to take for the sake of Israel’s national security.

Another agent, Ella, spoke of the impact on her family life: “I leave a secure home, my husband and three small children sleeping safely in their beds with tears welling in my eyes and a growing lump in my throat.”

The women noted that recruiting female agents is hard — the lifestyle is too demanding for many women who are raising a family, for instance, hence a good portion of the female agents are single — and others buckle under the pressure.

But Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, in rare on-the-record comments, praised the Mossad’s women as exceptional agents. He hailed their capacity to multi-task, and to “suppress their ego in order to attain goals.”

Added Pardo: “Contrary to stereotypes, you see that women’s abilities are superior to men in terms of understanding the territory, reading situations, spatial awareness. When they’re good, they’re very good.” 

Pic - "Weaponized Laffy Taffy"

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mali Beau

As France goes all the way in Mali, the COIN vs Counter Terrorism tactical delights quiz pops up. 
As in Afghanistan, Mali is becoming a case where two very different military ideologies clash. Whether one proves more successful than the other, or if both ultimately fail this West African country, only time will tell for sure.

Great Satan opposed France’s frontal assault on Mali, warning “that a Western assault on the you know what stronghold could rally jihadists around the world and prompt terrorist attacks as far away as Europe.” 
 Maybe so. Certain elements are all "foaming at the mouth" that wicked Westerners (and a REAL exColonial Power) are acting all powerfully colonial ala French interventionism.  
Also one of the tho'ts that guide counterinsurgency: that overt military action can at times foster violent extremism more than reduce it, that popular opinion and radical groups are often the root of the problem.

The French military is expanding a unilateral intervention into Mali, a former colony in West Africa, to roll back the Islamist extremists who had already seized half the country.  The high-profile assault is not really in the mold of either counterinsurgency or the Biden-backed light footprint: it’s more of a traditional military campaign, one that several neighboring African states are planning to support with ground troops of their own. It’s possible that the setbacks facing Great Satan-style approach were only temporary and could recover, but French leaders seem to believe that their time was up.

See, al Qaeda carving out turf in Afrika more bigger than Afghanistan pushes a few buttons - and most likely will NOT remain a French deal only. 
After only one day of fighting, French assistance had helped the Malian Army retake Konno from the Islamist forces. But the country’s terrain, the fractured nature of Malian politics, and the unintended consequences that always flow from the use of force, all make this intervention a risky proposition. Moreover, a French presence in Mali could internationalize the conflict among global jihadists, which could be exactly the outcome they seek.

Pic - "This intervention is itself the consequence of the Libyan Intervention"


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Discombobulated

In girl world - often times the inability to think clearly is a tactical advantage and a disadvantage at the same incredible instant.

How whale does that xlate into the realm of the diplopolititary - like FoPo for instance? 

Either by design or through incompetence, t44’s war on terror has become indefinable. In fact, to the degree that there are identifiable policies, they seem either internally contradictory or at odds with other administration policies.

Foreign policy often proves ironic. Sometimes chaos and confusion have their place. By posing as a post-national Nobel laureate, by promulgating all sorts of politically correct bromides, and by serially trashing the unpopular 43, 44 found that he could do almost anything he wished, from eliminating hundreds of Taliban and other assorted suspected terrorists to killing bin Laden. Blowing up a suspect terrorist and any bystanders is now a moral act, whereas waterboarding three confessed terrorists was deemed immoral. The best that can be said for 44's record is that if we are confused by it, then so must be our enemies.

Like 43's "protocols." Are they still useful in stopping terrorists, irrelevant, toxic, or sort of all three? The administration has never given us an explanation of its attitude toward the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay, the use of military tribunals, the exact status of renditions, the use of preventive detention, and the employment of the Patriot Act, especially wiretaps and intercepts.

To this day, no one in the administration can define “lead from behind” in the Libyan context. No one can explain what happened in Benghazi. And no one can summarize what is going on at present in Libya — or whether such an interventionist model is a blueprint for any future action elsewhere. When in 2009 Iranians hit the streets in protest against the mullahs’ theocracy, the administration went mum. Bashar Assad was first a “reformer” who might help to unlock the Little Satan-Palestinian impasse, then a psychopath who was on the eve of getting the same just deserts from NATO as did Moammar Qaddafi, then someone who should be left alone to kill 60,000 of his own, then a run-of-the-mill thug not much worse, or better, than the motley groups seeking to dethrone him.

Pic- "44's Doctrine"

Monday, January 14, 2013

France Goes To War

"France! Help!"

In April, Mali suffered creepy 7th century style"Slamist radical groups linked to al-Qaeda in the Maghreb seizing like half the country and sho nuff forcefully imposed a Talibanish rule so cruel — featuring amputations and Allah only knows what other bloody minded bloodiness as punishment — that hundreds of thousands of people have run for their lives. These creepy jerks now control turf more bigger than France! 
"Non-military solution seems unlikely. Mali already is split in half, and the Islamist groups have dug into their strongholds in Timbuktu and Goa. They will be dislodged only by force. The northern desert makes any military option exceedingly difficult, so a counteroffensive will need to focus initially on the cities the radicals control."
 Risque m"suer! Intervencion that is. After all, it could jam up the new French Pres" political standing (even tho cats in France are liking it au courant) and invite something something blow back - like terrorists creeps acting out on French soil killing innocents.

Looks like M"suer Hollande is zooming out and checking the big pic - that inaction bore a greater peril of producing a jihadist state like Afghanistan 
"We must stop the rebels' offensive, otherwise the whole of Mali will fall into their hands - creating a threat for Africa and even for Europe" 

Pic - "Francafrique"

Saturday, January 12, 2013

WoW!!

WoW - the Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t) 

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners


See you next week! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter

Friday, January 11, 2013

Faux Pas Fo Po

Faux Pas!

Often times in Girl World - making up stuff as you go along can kinda backfire

Can such be saithed about the world of the diplopolititary, pacifically - Foreign Policy? 

GsGf"s Internat"l Affairs Director cat says "Heck yeah!" 

44 likes to say that his approach is pragmatic. And it is. But pragmatism is reactive, not proactive. 44 addresses problems as they come up, simultaneously and separately. He articulates few priorities and no overall vision of where he is taking Great Satan or the world. He wants to end America’s involvement in wars and expects other countries to step up as America steps back. But if China steps up and Europe doesn’t, what then?

44 disconnects and downsizes threats. In Iraq he declared “mission accomplished” and left, even though Iran, which is right next door and presumably the biggest threat in the region, has now moved into Iraq to solidify support for the Shiite regime and to supply arms to jihadists in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. In Afghanistan, 44 incrementally downsized America’s goal from defeating Al Qaeda and the Taliban, to weakening the Taliban, to negotiating with the Taliban to rejoin the government—which is how 9/11 started, right?

He targeted and killed specific terrorists such as ObL—immunizing his otherwise feckless foreign policy—but in the process created a bigger problem, a destabilized Pakistan. In Iran, he seeks to stop the development of nuclear weapons but is negotiating secretly with Tehran to stop simply the public announcement of nuclear weapons. He is ready to accommodate an Iranian nuclear capability as long as Iran doesn’t declare it has nuclear weapons.

44’s foreign policy is long on diplomatic ambitions and short on force to back up those ambitions. The president addresses every diplomatic hot-spot on the planet, sending special envoys to the Middle East, Iran, Afpak, Sudan, and North Korea, among others. Meanwhile, he cuts defense spending, which might be needed to implement such initiatives.

In fairness, defense cuts were coming, as were troop withdrawals. But 44 makes the cuts with no apparent regret or planning. He did not visit the Pentagon until January 2012, three years into office, and then he announced new strategic defense guidance that ended the two-war doctrine of having capabilities adequate to fight simultaneous wars in two regions. That this guidance undercut both 44’s policy toward Iran as well as his new pivot to Asia did not seem to be noticed. Where are the forces coming from to reassure Asian allies? And if forces are drawn from the Middle East, where is the threat to back up sanctions on Iran or support for Israel if Iran gets nuclear weapons?

Not only has 44 reduced existing resources to back up his ambitious diplomacy, he has failed to revive the American economy and generate new resources for the future.   44 has no credible policy to spur growth. His strategy of massive spending increases, higher taxes, compounding regulations, indefinitely loose monetary policy, and testier trade policies has not worked to produce prosperity. And without growth and new resources, you can forget any expectations for foreign policy initiatives, ambitious or reactive.

leadership. Leadership offers vision, connects means and ends, and rises above politics. 44 has demonstrated no capacity to do any of those things, either in Congress or in the world community. The optimistic view is that he will do so now because he no longer faces reelection. But that seems unlikely. If you have won two elections as a state senator, one as a U.S. senator, and two as president, and you still have no significant accomplishments to show for it, it’s doubtful that your leadership skills will suddenly emerge in what is presumably your last four years in office.

The world is at risk. Highly doubtful and LOLable that other countries will step up to stop Russia and China from exploiting the advantages they hold outside of negotiations while they talk endlessly inside negotiations. Russia is expanding its influence in Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, Iran, and, as Great Satan, leaves central Asia. China is doing the same in North Korea, the Taiwan Strait, Pakistan, and along the first island chain in the Pacific. Someone has to be there to limit their options.

Meanwhile, American allies are restless, especially Little Satan and Japan. They know that if America retreats, it will be a game changer in their respective regions. Yet 44 appears to be doing just that. He is playing it fast and loose on the diplomatic scene as the economy idles and military resources are withdrawn from around the world. The little light that pundits saw between 44’s foreign policy and that of his opposition in the recent election is about to become a glaring gap, as America drifts and instability around the world increases. 

Pic -  "While practical and hard-edged, 44 is not a risk taker with a grand strategy"