Showing posts with label pakistan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pakistan. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2013

Egypt and Brazil: Crazy Stuff Going On Around The World

Egypt is a huge mess right now. To briefly recap. Recently as part of the Arab Spring Hosnu Mubarak the longtime dictator was deposed. The military chose not to get involved on his side, avoiding a Syria like protracted conflict. There were elections and the Muslim Brotherhoods candidate Mohamad Morsi won. President Morsi immediately set forth on an agenda towards a variety of goals including changing the constitution and generally cracking down on dissent as well as other political groups. It was the traditional African/ Middle East "One Man, One Vote, One Time" agenda.

The Egyptian economy, which has a large tourism component, has not been doing well. Death spiral might be too strong but it certainly has not been doing well. People started gathering in Tahrir to protest. They called for President Morisi to step down and were ignored.

The Army then got involved and pulled off a soft coup. The chief Justice of their equivalent of the supreme court was put in charge and elections will be held on a date to be announced later. Much of the Muslim Brotherhood key leadership has been arrested or is still being sought for arrest.

This is not good. The Muslim Brotherhood are not going to take this lying down. Violence has already started. Don't know exactly where it is going to go but probably no place good. Violence may or may not break out into full on conflict or civil war. My guy says the Army can probably hold them down; after all suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood is something they have decades of practice at.

If this is a good thing or not I am uncertain. Honestly Morsi setting up a Muslim Brotherhood totalitarian Islamic state wasn't exactly a good path for world stability anyway. May just be a different branch of the bad tree. While possible that peaceful and fair (well by Middle East standards anyway) election in a reasonable timeframe with this turning out to be a one time thing is possible I doubt that will happen. An alternating combination of military leadership and weak civilian governments a la Pakistan may be the future.

Our government is intentionally not calling this a Coup which it clearly was. Maybe it's just that saying this was a preventative Coup to reinstate lawful civilian leadership is a bit complicated.

Fundamentally this brings up a weak point in American foreign policy. We say that we want democratic governments but in practice we want folks who do not rock the proverbial internatonal boat too much and generally can be dealt with. At least as often as not this means a strong man of some sort.

Aside from communicating with both sides and using soft power to try avoiding a complete blood bath I do not think we should do anything.

The riots in Brazil seems to have tappered out yet it is a bit too early to be sure.

Who knows what will happen next week. In particular I am paying attention to Egypt but who knows what else is going to happen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thoughts On Insurgencies #8: Fundamentals of a Successful Insurgencies 101

It became apparent to me after a discussion with an invisible that I needed to take a step back in this series. Sometimes I am guilty of forgetting that most folks here have not spent a good portion of their live training for or being personally involved in an insurgency. We should discuss the fundamentals of a successful insurgency.

I am not saying that every insurgency must have each of these elements or it will not be successful. There are a certainly examples out there which do not fit every criteria but most tend to fit them if loosely. In no particular order.

Obviously some group or subset of a state needs to be unhappy with the current governmental system. Not just kinda unhappy but enough so to fight a war they may well die in. Taking a step back it isn't so much that there need to be people willing to take up arms but conditions that lead to people being willing to take up arms.

Some of these people will be active fighters. For every active fighter there are a few supporters or axillary types helping make things work.  These folks are involved to varying degrees. Some are full time intel, logistics or C2 types filling your conventional staff functions. Others may be a farmer who gives an old cow to feed some fighters or a Grandma with a big house who loves to feed and look after a bunch of teenage and early 20 something boys. For every person who actively aids insurgents they need a bunch of people who just keep quiet. The neighbor who sees something and goes about his business or the apathetic local cop who doesn't search for insurgents very hard.

For an insurgency to build from an initial nucleus to a group that has a real chance the government has to have problems. Maybe it is a backwards corrupt nepotistic regime, maybe it is an aging dysfunctional empire, maybe the economy is toast or the government is distracted by war. The reason for this is that functional governments can eventually use the stick and or carrot to decrease the total amount of people willing to take up arms. Eventually this makes insurgencies peter out until an 'acceptable level of violence' which varies from place to place. There are bombings and high amounts of murders in a lot of places but that is just normal.

Some sort of a safe haven is very helpful for insurgents. This safe haven is very important for insurgents to train, rest and plan and conduct a variety of logistical efforts. These safe havens can be due to political boundaries the insurgents can cross that the opposing force is unable to cross at least in a widespread regular way. Vietnam as well as the Pakistan/ Afghanistan border are good examples of this. Other times a safe haven can be due to an area's isolation in terms of rough geography, lack of improved all weather roads and low population densities. Areas outside aside from the AF/PAK border in Afghanistan fall into this category. The longtime Philippine insurgency  and the FARK in the jungles of Columbia are also examples.

Without this safe haven motivated governments can eventually wear down an insurgent group or at least prevent them from regrouping, recovering and training. This means they are not healing up injured fighters or training new ones which makes it hard to build numbers and win. Some sort of a (relative) safe haven is just about impossible for insurgents to do without.

Outside assistance is very important. It is cool to think about a bunch of guys running to the hinter boonies with rifles and fighting the big mean government but it is just not that simple. To keep things going insurgents need money, weapons, ammunition, food, medicine and often outside training. Admittedly money can handle most of those problems if the insurgents can get enough of it. For a long time during the good old Cold War a group could pretty much bet on assistance from whichever side didn't have a relationship with the regime they are trying to topple. Since the Cold War has ended it has become a lot more dicey but wide open. Islamic groups can get solid funding from various Gulf State groups. Other folks may have relationships that work for various reasons.

Those are the big ones that come to mind based on my formal and informal education on the topic as well as real world experiences. As always input is welcome but please try to keep it on topic. I hope that some of you get something out of this post.

Have a nice day,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

RE: Everybody Draw Muhammad Day

Blogger ReeBz said...
According to the dictionary of "Oxford University Press"- "Oxford guide to British and American culture", Freedom of speech is :"The right to express any opinions in public. This right became part of American law under the "First Amendment". If the opinions expressed are false or damage a person's reputation,however that person can take legal action under US law. In Britain people are free to express most opinions,but it is against the law to express some ideas,e.g ideas that aim to cause RACIAL hatred."

All those who are defending the "draw Muhammad day" because of freedom of speech then they must learn that freedom of speech has certain limits too. it doesn't mean that you start jumping on others necks or you start humiliating them.

If the cartoon is just cartoon for you, then wait let me draw a very offensive and humiliating cartoon of yours,when you will be sparked with anger I will slap hard on your face and say "hey dude, do not be angry. Its freedom of speech." Same is the case now, first Molly Norris drew images for south park, when she was threatened by the Muslims which was of course natural and reasonable, followers of Molly Norris started a terrible contest on the name of freedom of speech. Shame on All! If hurting some ones sentiments is freedom of speech then m sure no one will mind if we draw same dirty, offensive images of yours.

OK, TOR here. As you might imagine I have a response to this. First I am pretty amazed that somebody from Pakistan read my blog. Seriously it is a small world these days. Anyway it is interesting that I wrote a whole post to go with the advertisement for draw Muhammad day. I decided not to publish it to keep things civil and avoid argument and such. Looks like that is out the window.

Not going to lie I read this in the morning and am replying later on my lunch hour. Sometimes it is better to cool down and write with a clear head. I will try hard to avoid personal attacks or attacks on religion.

Here is the American First Amendment- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. It is a  very complex amendment but among other things it says you can pray however you want, whenever you want and to whomever you want and I can say what I want. The concept in Britain that some speech should be banned or censured because people don't like it does not apply in America. We are different countries. In fact America fought a war with them in order to be able to make our own laws. Also I would point out that Muslims are not a race.

As to our First Amendment there is an interesting court case you should read called Hustler Magazine vs. Falwell.

The whole point of FREEDOM OF SPEECH is precisely that it does not have limits. Of course you can't slander people or yell fire in a crowded theater but other than that go for it. I can say whatever I want and so can you. In America I have to put up with the stupid opinions of all sorts of idiots saying ridiculous things. Some of their opinions anger and offend me. However everybody else has to put up with the stupid stuff that comes out of my mouth too. That is called freedom.

It is just fine to me if you do not want to draw Muhammad or not drink alcohol or eat bacon or whatever. I do not seek to impose my beliefs on you through force or any other way. Heck I won't even try through the free exchange of ideas. However I will be damned if I will let you force your opinions on me. As long as I follow the laws of my country (or wherever I happen to be) and don't harm anyone I will do exactly what I want, including drawing Muhammad.

You said "If the cartoon is just cartoon for you, then wait let me draw a very offensive and humiliating cartoon of yours,when you will be sparked with anger I will slap hard on your face and say "hey dude, donot be angry. its freedom of speech" " I am just fine with you drawing a picture of me or Christ or whomever you please. First I am fine with it because I believe in free speech. Secondly I have a sense of perspective and don't get my panties in a bunch every time somebody says or does a thing I do not like. Lastly I am fine with it because I just don't care at all about you or anything you do. You can die tomorrow or live forever, I am ambivalent. As a great quote said more or less "my freedom to swing my arm around ends when it hits someones nose."

"Same is the case now, first Molly Norris drew images for South Park, when she was threatened by the Muslims which was of course natural and reasonable" Here is where you really loose me. Your desire to force your views on others through the implicit threat of violence is not so cool. Do you think it is acceptable for everybody to do that or just Muslims, or just you? What if 10 men with guns came to your home and said if you continue to practice Islam they will do horrible things to you and kill your family? Would that be natural and reasonable?

There is no shame on all. SHAME ON YOU! Also shame on all those who try to force their views, religious or otherwise, onto other people through the threat of violence. 

Draw whatever you like and I will darn sure do the same.

Have a good day


Please note I would never want my readers share whatever views they have on this comment to its authors email ( or at its authors blog.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Recent Comment on Pakistan, Democracy and US Policies Abroad

 I would argue that the odds of a military coup at any point are reasonably high...

Or perhaps guaranteed? If it weren't for periodic military coups, there wouldn't BE a transition of power in Pakistan.

I think we need to discard the policy of spreading democracy all over the planet. It works well for stable, educated, non-fanatical societies, but can lead to anarchy in third-world, illiterate backwaters like Pakistan.

And these fuckers have nukes. I'd rather see a strong, despotic dictator maintain control over those weapons, than have a weak-willed, 'democratically-elected' government over there.


TOR Replies: I think the next exchange of power in Pakistan may well be a military coup. Another distinct possibility is a head of government who is unwilling to question the Army or its policies in any substantive way lest there be a military coup. The person at the top changes but they are unwilling to upset their apple cart and thus they are of somewhat marginal importance. I am not particularly worried about their nukes. I think the odds of General Ishmahalanzi being in charge tomorrow are far higher than the odds of the country really falling apart. Worst realistic case (for us) would be both they and the Taliban decide the costs of this current war they are fighting is too high and go back to a de facto peace.

You stumble onto something which I think has been an issue for America over the last (at least) couple decades. American official policy has pretty much been that we support democracy and want everyone to have one. Americas real policy is that we want everyone to have a democracy but one which likes America and if isn't willing to do everything we ask will at least "play ball". As we have seen in Iraq we also have the little astrix that they need to support womens rights, minority rights, gay rights, and freedom of religion. Of course there is a glaring omission that we also support some downright nasty dictators if they can do something for us and can vaguely stay somewhat within our broad international agenda and the fifth letter in their name is the equivalent of an L.

This policy was pretty easy to have in the Cold War era, particularly the earlier part. It was easier first of all because a lot less countries in the world were democracies. Second of all the momentum of the Cold War sort of made things easier because we could justify dealing with some nastier characters to keep them on "our side" and also because well most of them pretty much had to choose a side.

These days a lot more countries and places are democratic (at least I believe) and the removal of the old Cold War pulls has made it easier to be democratic and not fit into our agenda. The elections of Hugo Chavez in Venesuala and Hamas in Palestine have really shown that our official stance doesn't mesh with what we actually do.

To a certain degree the idea (if we ever really had it) that all countries who become democracies will be easy to get along with is at best naive and at worst just plain stupid. Democracies more or less tend to reflect the will of the people voting and in a lot of countries the people voting don't like us very much.

To take a black and white approach we would need to decide if we are going to support countries that are democracies or countries that like us (and "play ball"). That being said I don't think black and white approaches work in real world politics.

In general I think we should do both of these things but in an order that suits our needs. It is often necessary to deal with certain unsavory characters to get things done in the world. To the ends that it suits us we can and should continue to act in our best interest. I believe we should try and help people in other countries have a voice in how their country is run if just through encouraging them in a variety of ways (preferential agreements, aid, etc [all of these things in general are another discussion but they exist and we currently use them widely]) unless they act consistently in some way that is against our interest. If they are aiding us or are neutral towards us then fine and good, if not they can go pound sand no matter their form of government.

As for the question of whether every country is capable of being a democracy? While nothing is written in stone regions that become democracies successfully and stay that way tend to have a tradition of rule of law, market economies and loyal opposition. Not every man is going to marry a woman who looks like a super model and not every woman looks like a super model. Sorry to say that not every country is at least at this time capable of having a viable democracy. Not today, maybe tomorrow. 

I am over my time limit so I have to wrap this up.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pakistan's Stability and the Taliban

Pakistan and Islamic Extremists have long had a fairly cozy relationship, doubly so for their Army (a huge player in politics) and the ISI their intelligence service. They have worked with these extremists to fight the Indians (we can't tell them apart but they really hate eachother) in Kashmir and have probably worked together to cause some mayhem in India itself.

Since 9/11 countries have had to be pretty clearly for or against the above mentioned class of asshats and wisely Pakistan (really Musharaf) chose to be against them. For a long time however that was mostly theoretical. The Islamists would have liked to take over the country (where lots of people are at least passively supportive of them) but didn't have the power to do it. To the Pakistani governments credit nobody has really ever controlled their Northwest Frontier beyond a localized boots on the ground sort of way.

These two groups have been fighting something of a gentlemens war for awhile now. A few people get killed here in a car bombing and the Army blows up a compound there but all and all it was pretty limited warfare for very limited objectives. The Pakistanis needed to be able to show that they were at least trying to get tough and the Islamists just wanted to keep what they had and maybe expand it a bit, at least for now.

I think this gentlemens war (for lack of a better word, Islamist Terrorists are certainly not gentlemen) is officially over. Think of it as that point when two friends go from a somewhat friendly wrestling match to really scrapping and fight till someone gets badly hurt. Lots of bombs are going off and lots of Pakistani citizens are dying. I think the Pakistani goverment and military have really taken the gloves off.

They might not be the best equipped and most disciplined fighting force in the world but I personally think that a lack of will and complicity/ outright collaberation with the enemy were bigger issues than old gear and iffy standards of training.

I am not sure how increadibly stable Pakistan is. I would argue that the odds of a military coup at any point are reasonably high (not as high as in Coupland which is a small country in equitorial West Africa but a lot higher than its neighbors) but the name at the top changing wouldn't really matter all that much beyond symbolism. I do however think that Pakistan is in a situation where they can and may really do some damage to these asshats. I don't think they can completely stamp out Islamic Extremism in the region but they can sure make a safe havena lot less safe which could have big implications on the region.

Twill be interesting.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Islamist Militants Attack Pakistani Army Headquarters

I thought I didn't hear this one right yesterday until the second time it came up on the TV. Those Islamist Militants are sure ballsy. I think this might be enough to knock the defacto truce these militants have had with the Pakistani government (and especially the Army which is highly involved in politics) out of whack. For awhile they have both been fighting with rather limited objectives, enough so that it was just maintaining the status quo. I could be mistaken but that might be over for awhile.

A big part of our problems in Afghanistan are the Islamist Militants having a safe haven in the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan which is tacitly supported by the Pakistani government. Yeah we shoot a missile from a predator here and send in an ODA there but those are just not enough to deny them that territory. Our sort of cooperative ally Pakistan might become a bit more cooperative.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Militias Work!

Do Militias work... They do in fighting the Taliban. Its something people should remember in this country.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

This Interested Me

A perspective on Afghanistan, the Taliban, Pakistan and the region in general by an ISI Colonel who spent the 80's supervising and training the Muj and the 90's 'advising' the Taliban. Can not say I agree entirely with everything in the article but it is a very interesting read none the less. The Colonel makes a lot of good points with accurate (if slightly cherry picked) historical references. It could also be true to say that his perspective is not exactly objective. In any case I got something out of this and you might also.

I have spent way too much time on here this weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pakistan Might beat Mexico in the race to the bottom

Taliban tighten their grip on Pakistan's northwest

This is pretty darn bad. A country with nuclear weapons is falling to the Taliban. Their population (and by default government and Army) is at best neutral towards the lawless factions in their completely ungoverned Northwestern Frontier Province who (in an rather optimistic view) aid and abed terrorists. Look at what happened the last time the Taliban was in charge of a country? That country didn't have nukes. This could be bad, real bad.

In the two nation race to collapse I think Pakistan just pulled ahead.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Handmade Guns in Pakistan

I think this may have been up here before but in any case it is worth watching. Goes to show as long as there is an appetite (there always will be) guns will be sold, traded and bought.
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