Friday, March 23, 2007

Cordesman on the Long War

Just discovered that the ever-prolific Cordesman has a new ppt file up on his site, which deals with the Long War concept. The interesting thing here is that Cordesman is an invaluable resource in terms of present policy analysis but he rarely dabbles in more lofty academic or conceptual stuff. As an example, take Tony Corn's Long War analysis.

So it is interesting to see Cordesman's practical approach to grand strategy, e.g. pointing out that currently there is none. In this he echoes the again more academic analysis of Antulio J. Echevarria in his great paper,
Toward An American Way of War.The Long War concept ties together the coming Shaping JOC, the SSTR JOC, AFRICOM and also - because of the holistic, true clausewitzian approach - points to the troubled division of labor between State and Pentagon. But that is another story.

Click here for Cordesman's ppt (in pdf format).

For more on the Long War from Draconian Observations, click here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Shaping Input: Africa's Horn in Foreign Affairs

The new issue of Foreign Affairs features a fine article on the conflicts – present and lurking – on Africa’s Horn, and the weaknesses of US policy ("Blowing the Horn", subscription required).

People at JFCOM currently working on the coming Shaping JOC are well advised to read John Prendergast and Colin Thomas-Jensen’s article. The challenges and solutions that they outline are basically what the JOC will have to address: learning full-scale diplomacy not in its diplomatic sense, but rather as a holistic problem-solving approach, which includes addressing grievances and issues over livelihoods.

The essential lessons of U.S. counterterrorism policy over the last five years – apparently unheeded by the Bush administration – is that in order for local Muslim populations to take the United States’ counterterrorism agenda seriously, the United States must take their state-building and power-sharing agenda seriously, too. Ironically, the strategy is already there on paper. In its 2002 National Security Strategy and elsewhere, the Bush administration has argued that failing states foster terrorism and has laid out a comprehensive approach to counterterrorism that involves promoting peace building, state reconstruction, and good governance. When it comes to the Greater African Horn, however, the Bush administration has simply not implemented its own policies. By relying on sporadic military strikes and continued support for autocrats without broader political planning, it has combined the worst elements of its current strategy in Iraq with the Cold War-era policy of cronyism. Conflict resolution and good governance are, in fact, the keys to countering terrorism in the Greater Horn of over the long term.

More on the Shaping JOC in this post – including the natural African focus of the JOC and here especially the CJFT-HOA. People who should also read their article include the CIA analysts involved not only with HOA related stuff, but also those working on projects similar to the Shaping JOC.

A final aside: Not surprisingly, the sharpest minds on the intricacies of policy development are no longer to be found in academia: they are more often at the best think tanks – and among them evidently the ICG where both authors reside.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Fun Invasion, Europe Still at Peace

Fun invasions are few and far between. But the Swiss seem to have come up with one:
Swiss Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein
ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein. According to Swiss daily Blick, the 170 infantry soldiers wandered just over a mile across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back. A spokesman for the Swiss army confirmed the story but said that there were unlikely to be any serious repercussions for the mistaken invasion.
From AP. Not bad going for a landlocked country with (kind of) a Navy. But apparently, the Swiss do have thing with politeness - as Orson Welles put it in The Third Man:
"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly."

Friday, March 02, 2007

Black Hawk Down Documentary On YouTube

Stumbled upon this YouTube-find: A long high quality documentary on the Black Hawk Down incident narrated by Mark Bowden himself. It's in several chapters - all named "The truth of Black Hawk Down (part x)". Not sure about the copyright situation.

Link to first part (the one above: links to subsequent parts are found here, under 'related').