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Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    Good discussion of the topic. COIN is just brutally hard and risky and the neo-con’s have never wanted to see or understand that.

    The only issue i had with this is, you don’t really discuss how success is defined which is always difficult in COIN situations. Democracy? Dead bad guys? Our own dictator? And what are the long term consequences of a successful COIN? While COIN can be won, sometimes, does that set up problems 20, 30, 40 years down the road. It is easy to find situations where empires were maintained in the short term, which just led to a worse break up down the road. It is not clear to me that a COIN situation is often worth the cost of fighting, given the risks and costs.Report

  2. Avatar Chris Dierkes
    Ignored
    says:

    g,

    I’m not sure the theorists themselves really grasp what success is. The only one I’ve seen is something more like Thomas Barnett’s idea of having a huge followup reconstruction/peace force to the initial invasion and then ideally you don’t have to do much counterinsurgency. They talk about a certain ratio of soldiers/civilian population that basically guarantees no major outbreaks of violence. I can’t seem to find the number right now. But in Bosnia/Kosovo it was in effect and held (with scary moments to be sure but basically held) whereas in both Iraq and Afghanistan the number necessary for the peacekeeping force would have had to be in the Iraqi case something like 300,000-400,000 (as Gen. Shinseki said). Even higher in Afghanistan.Report

  3. Avatar Will
    Ignored
    says:

    One additional point: even if the “more rubble, less trouble” school of thought is right, I doubt we have the public appetite for a full-bore campaign of extermination. The half-measures that inevitably follow from this public constraint are probably the worst possible approach to counter-insurgency.Report

  4. Avatar James
    Ignored
    says:

    “Mercifully, whatever Neo-Marxist anti-imperialist tirades still exist, the US is not as evil as to practice #2.”

    Aren’t we forgetting Fallujah?Report

  5. Avatar Katherine
    Ignored
    says:

    LAnother dirty (horrible) secret is that the Israelis could wipe out the Palestinians, Chechnyian style. Or now sadly Tamil-style. The Arab countries would holler and moan, Hezbollah would launch some devastating attacks, but it would happen.

    That is probably my greatest fear when it comes to the Middle East; and judging from the approach they took to Gaza, it seems far from unlikely.Report

  6. Avatar James
    Ignored
    says:

    Actually, it’s immensely unlikely. & I don’t mean that as a matter of mentality (the Israeli government clearly doesn’t give a fuck about Arab deaths), but one of logistics. They can’t use nuclear weapons that close to Israel proper & killing over a million people with conventional arms is a lot harder task than you’d imagine.

    Consider Berlin – the RAF leveled the place, then fire-bombed the rubble. Everyone inside the city did not die. Indeed it wasn’t even a second Dresden – not enough incendiaries. There’s not actually a massive amount that the Israelis can do with the Gazans save, well…Drive them into the sea. Now wouldn’t that be a sick little twist?Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    I fear that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will end only with genocide.

    If the Palestinians are on the receiving end, I’m guessing that it will result in even more friction in the region that will end only with genocide.

    If the Israelis are on the receiving end, we’ll see a handful of essays about how Israel should have seen this coming and lists of things they could have done to avoid this situation. The Palestinians will be dropped as a cause soon after and the Palestinians will be about as well off as Zimbabwe a little bit after that. If this is noticed at all, it will be to compare Israel to Ian Smith.

    This theory of mine is why I sort of support the status quo. All of the other realistic options strike me as worse than what we have now.Report

  8. Avatar Chris Dierkes
    Ignored
    says:

    James,

    I won’t argue there weren’t horrendous atrocities in Fallujah. The US Army sorta gave a non-denial denial on white phosphorous as I recall. Still I don’t think it’s the same as the Russia-Chechnyian example. It might not matter in the end, it’s all so horrible. But I think at least conceptually (which matters for something however little in comparison to the tragedy) they are different.

    The US experience in Iraq from 2003-2006 was something of a no plan, put a bunch of young kids in areas they aren’t ready to deal with it, they get spooked, watch them say fire on a crowd (as in Fallujah) and then sparks fly, some soldiers get killed and the US military responds with lethal force.

    It’s a naive kind of brutality not one pre-planned and systematically, Machiavelli-style ruthless like a Putin.Report

  9. Avatar Chris Dierkes
    Ignored
    says:

    Jay-b, James, and Kat,

    The Russian example in Chechnya or the Sinhalese to the Tamil do not require actual full genocide. It requires beating them until they have no will left to fight. It means totally obliterating the enemy (and whole mass of the population with them but by no means all). So maybe my wording is too loose.

    Could the Israelis completely eradicate the Palestinian opposition? In some ways I think yes, though they would never be able to follow it up Chechnya style with the imposition of a Israeli puppet strongman-dictator from among the Palestinian population.Report

  10. Avatar James
    Ignored
    says:

    I won’t argue there weren’t horrendous atrocities in Fallujah. The US Army sorta gave a non-denial denial on white phosphorous as I recall. Still I don’t think it’s the same as the Russia-Chechnyian example. It might not matter in the end, it’s all so horrible. But I think at least conceptually (which matters for something however little in comparison to the tragedy) they are different.

    Actually, the US treatment of Fallujah was very systematic. It was immensely similar to the Russian treatment, as well as the Israeli treatment of Gaza, in a number of ways: chief among them the assertion that all males between a certain age were instantly assumed terrorists.

    Worth reading is this:
    http://leninology.blogspot.com/2005/01/fallujah.html
    & this:
    http://leninology.blogspot.com/2008/06/fallujahs-legacy.html
    Grisly but necessary:
    http://leninology.blogspot.com/2004/11/fallujah-and-right-to-life.html

    Yes, I’d suppose this is all the writings of one of those dreaded “neo-marxists”. But the fact remains that the plan for Fallujah was to bomb it heavily, prevent any male youths to middle aged men from leaving, then attack on the ground under the assumption that anyone left inside was a terrorist (including, of course, all those innocent men you prevented from leaving).

    That’s a systematic attempt. planned and scheduled and executed with consummate brutality. It’s not some random flailing of a blind superpower that “Just happened” any more than the soldiers in those Abu Graid photos were fratboys letting off some steam. If it’s somehow distinguishable from the Russian School I don’t see how.

    & no, it wasn’t their plan for everywhere. Unlike in Chechnya. But this specific incident is what it is. & that’s a war crime.Report

  11. Avatar Jim
    Ignored
    says:

    “Actually, the US treatment of Fallujah was very systematic. ”

    Yes, but where it differed form the “Russian Method” is that where the Russian Method flattens the whole population indiscrimately and alienates it, the Falluja campaign targeted a specific sliver of the population , namely Falluja, and did the opposite of alienting the population. If I remember correctly, the Sunii awakening began soon after, perhaps because Sunnis saw that the US could was willing to be bad-ass enough to be a half-way reliable protector.

    I can be convinced it was a war crime. Then again, not hitting Falluja would also have been a war crime, since an occupying power is responsible for security in its territory, and Falluja was the source of a lot of the violence against civilians in that region.Report

  12. Avatar James
    Ignored
    says:

    Yes, but where it differed form the “Russian Method” is that where the Russian Method flattens the whole population indiscrimately and alienates it, the Falluja campaign targeted a specific sliver of the population , namely Falluja, and did the opposite of alienting the population. If I remember correctly, the Sunii awakening began soon after, perhaps because Sunnis saw that the US could was willing to be bad-ass enough to be a half-way reliable protector.

    So they called the entire population of Fallujah who:

    a) Had a penis
    &
    b) Were between teenage and elderly

    a terrorist & this doesn’t count as indiscriminate? You have a very, very lapse grasp of the word.

    I can be convinced it was a war crime. Then again, not hitting Falluja would also have been a war crime, since an occupying power is responsible for security in its territory, and Falluja was the source of a lot of the violence against civilians in that region.

    FFS. The attacks were coming from the civilians. It was a civilian resistance against an occupying force. There wasn’t an army left, that had been long since defeated. It was a civilian insurgency. They should have fucked off altogether, because they were clearly unwanted. Instead they decided to go on a killing spree and hundreds of people who probably weren’t even involved ended up dead.Report

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