Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Politics of Assessing and Strategizing Iraq

Go Big, Go Home, Go Long. Thus were the options scrutinized in JCS Pace's study back in November last year. The first was the logical military solution, the second the somewhat (now: really) pressing political solution, and the third, a little unclearly, represented something between a smart version of the first (through the lens of the COIN manual) and a compromise between the two first - each expressing the needs on the ground in Iraq and the needs on the ground in the domestic US situation.

Back last year I wrote:
The Long War is marked by its accelleration of the politicization of the use of force: the fronts are simultaneously on the ground and at home. Operations happen within two realms: effects are created almost at the same time in the immediate/practical and in the symbolical/communicative realms.
Modern war, it seems, better get it right fast enough that the domestic situation doesn't catch up with it, and start redefining. Not unjust that - merely a democratic precondition for the use of force.

From NYT:
Some Hitherto Staunch G.O.P. Voters Souring on Iraq
From The AP (via the Age, Australia):
Military leaders doubtful about success in Iraq
From WashTimes (Harlan Ullman): Assessing the Iraq surge
From the LAT: Iraq likely to miss goals set by U.S.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Will Europeans Block Ghani Candidature for WB Prez?

According to the WashPost the World "Bank May Vote No Confidence in Wolfowitz". One piece of information suggest that diplomatic scheming might be bad news for Ashraf Ghani who's been mentioned as the Bush administration's top of the list candidate to replace Wolfowitz in case this would become necessary:

Though prominent officials from Europe to Latin America have publicly called for Wolfowitz to go, and though the board has the power to fire him, a decisive vote would break sharply with the bank's consensus-minded culture, while presenting nettlesome questions of procedure and diplomacy. Never in the six decades of the World Bank's existence has the board removed the institution's leader, who, by tradition, is selected by the U.S. president.

In pursuing an expression of no confidence in place of a decisive vote, board members were working under instructions from the governments they represent, with major European countries intent on avoiding a fresh imbroglio with the Bush administration, senior officials said. European governments fear they could lose their right to name the head of the World Bank's sister institution, the International Monetary Fund.

The thing is: If Bush appoints Ghani, who's Afghan - and effectively ends the tradition that an American gets the top WB job - then the Europeans will be less able to defend getting to name the head of the IMF. Might that cause the Europeans to support or push for a US citizen?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tic Tacs #5

Tom Barnett on John Robb's book Brave New Wars: "John's book is deeply informed by the fact he's a serious technocrat who distrusts politics. Indeed, politics as any form of solution is basically missing in action in this book. When it's referred to glancingly here and there, it's always to catalogue dysfunction or corruption (e.g., America's entire political system is dismissed with a reference to Jack Abramoff's ability to purchase it at will--a blanketing statement which comes off as strangely naive in its cynicism, but that's not unusual for military guys who often describe Washington like it's some modern-day Sodom)."

From the AP via Yahoo: "The Pentagon is setting up a civilian Language Corps, a cadre of some 1,000 foreign-language speakers who can help the government in times of war and national emergencies. In a three-year pilot program, the Defense Department will recruit volunteers and do testing to see if such a program would work. If successful, a permanent corps could be developed, said Robert Slater, who heads the Pentagon personnel office's security education program. "The federal government can't possibly identify, hire and warehouse professionals with skills in 150 languages," Slater said Wednesday. "So it's invaluable to be able to respond in emergencies, whether international or national.""

World Bank Private Sector Development Blog on quality of FDI (quote from referenced paper): "This paper exploits a comprehensive, industry level data set for the period 1985-2000 that encompasses 29 countries to examine the various links between different “types” of FDI and growth. An appealing feature of industry analysis is that it mitigates some of the effects of unobserved heterogeneity and model misspecification, which are difficult to control at the national level. We also use as an instrument a new industry-level data set on industry targeting. We find FDI at the industry level to be associated with higher growth in value added. The relation is stronger for industries with higher skill requirements and for industries more reliant on external capital."

North County Times: "CAMP PENDLETON -- The first five of 24 Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha by a squad of Camp Pendleton Marines in 2005 were repeatedly shot by two sergeants who then agreed to blame the slayings on the Iraqi army, one of the shooters testified Wednesday afternoon. Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz said he fired at the five men moments after Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich unleashed a barrage of bullets at the group being held at gunpoint with their arms raised in the air." "Publics around the world say the United Nations has the responsibility to protect people from genocide and other severe human rights abuses even if this means acting against the will of their own government, according to a multinational study."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Darfur: Proxy War Over Good Governance Unfolding

If the controversial report about Chinese and Russian arms shipments to Sudan in breach of a UN embargo are true, then this post about the rising Chinese influence in Africa seems properly wrought, including the pointy title part about "Proxy Wars Over Good Governance". From the AP via the cutely named Seattle Post Intelligencer:
A top human rights group accused China and Russia on Tuesday of violating a U.N. arms embargo by supplying Sudan with weapons and equipment that were used to fuel deadly violence against civilians in Darfur and neighboring Chad. (...) The report said "the bulk" of the arms used in Darfur and Chad were transferred from China and Russia, with Sudan importing $83 million in arms from Beijing and $34.7 million in military equipment from Moscow in 2005, the latest available figures. It did not provide specific up-to-date figures. "The irresponsible transfer of arms to Sudan and its neighbors are a significant factor in the massive human rights catastrophe in Darfur and its spread into eastern Chad," London-based Amnesty said in a statement. (...)

Amnesty said it was particularly concerned about Russian Mi-24 helicopter gunships acquired by the Sudan air force that were allegedly being used to launch attacks in Darfur. The report included a photo, allegedly from March, of three Chinese "Fantan" fighter jets on the tarmac of an airport in Nyala in southern Darfur. It said the aircraft were "specifically designed to be used for ground attack operations." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Beijing does not sell arms to regions under a U.N. embargo. She said China's weapons sales to Africa were made to sovereign nations and were "very limited and small in scale" but refused to say specifically how much was sold to Sudan. (...)

The Amnesty report followed the leaking of a U.N. report last month asserting that Sudan's government was flying attack aircraft, painted white to resemble U.N. planes, and other military equipment into Darfur against the embargo. Sudan denied the claims. Following that report, the U.S. and Britain began leading a push for new sanctions against Sudan if it continues to refuse to deploy U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur. An ill-equipped and understaffed African Union force is patrolling the western Sudan region. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has refused calls for a joint U.N.-AU force, although he recently agreed to let the U.N. send 3,000 peacekeepers to Darfur, backed by six helicopter gunships.

Both Russia and China, which have close trade ties with Sudan, oppose the U.S.-British sanctions proposal. China - which buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil exports - is facing increasing international pressure to use its influence in Sudan to pressure Khartoum into stopping the violence. "Nobody has the leverage that the Chinese do - not the Arab League, not the U.S., not the EU. It's the Chinese; they're the ones," said Eric Reeves, a Sudan expert at Smith College in Massachusetts.

From the post from April 2006:

China's recent African Policy document outlines an extensive interest in engaging in African development. The most notable difference from Western development policies is the absence of good governance as a leitmotiv -- and its logical counterpart, the adherence to the "Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence". The Principles support non-interference: as such they are at odds with the essence of Western development policy which posits that there can be universally applicable most-effective ways of undertaking government, i.e. "good governance". (...) [T]he most crucial countries are the natural ressource rich kleptocracies that from the outset will be least inclined to ever participate in good governance initiatives. Here, the intention of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative already suffers from combination of the Chinese need for oil and the willfully blind perspective of the Five Principles. In short, the good governance agenda looks set to really suffer from China's African engagement. And unfortunately, that effect will be the same elsewhere too.
If the Chinese (and Russians) are really flushing weapons - including gunships and A10-like fixed-wing aircraft - into Sudan in spite of the UN embargo, this is a clear example of a proxy war in spe. Even if the responsible partners in global security management (UN, NATO) are struggling to find the ressources necessary to help stop the conflict, there is no doubt - viz. the embargo - that these same actors agree about the basic goals and values that the challenge represents. How ironic that I meant the 'proxy wars' over good governance to be taken mostly metaphorically. China must step up to the plate of responsibility here - but as written in the post quoted, this is unlike to to happen as long as there is something as the five principles (and a craving for ressources).

Shaping: Clever Slide and New Name

Just a few notes on the coming Shaping JOC. There is a remarkably clever graphic in the 2005 JFCOM capstone document which clearly deserves wider attention. It shows the move from a sequential conception of conflict management (like wagons on a train) to a parallel conceptualization; and also a move from a purely military to an integrated, political conceptualization of the conflict phases. Note e.g. the role of Stabilization and Reconstruction in violet and orange. I can only blame myself for not flipping through the appendixes earlier, but here goes:
Phases, however, tend to imply a sequential approach to campaigns with an associated lack of flexibility and inadequately reflect the importance of integrated effort among all interagency players. The CCJO acknowledges that “complex adaptive” adversaries and other situations will demand an integrated and flexible approach. A new campaign framework should provide a means to plan, execute and assess campaigns in an integrated manner. This appendix retains the traditional phase titles and includes proposed new phase titles--portrayed as lines of effort (Figure D-1).
Instead of showing these lines of effort in a traditional horizontal array, however, it stacks them vertically, emphasizing the potential for all lines of effort to be applicable throughout a campaign. The lines of effort represent the activities in which a JFC must engage to successfully accomplish objectives during a campaign. They are titled Shape, Deter, Seize Initiative, Dominate, Stabilize and Enable Civil Authority. The aggregate of all lines of effort equate to the full level of effort necessary (in planning or execution) or available (in execution or assessment) to accomplish objectives. (...)

The simultaneous execution of activities within each line of effort reinforces the need to continuously consider activities across all lines of effort during campaign planning and execution. This approach also captures the proportionate levels of activity that may be required to achieve priority objectives. In so doing, it helps the JFC visualize the required activities for future transitions and subsequent operations, reflecting increasing or decreasing levels of effort. As the campaign is executed, the JFC acquires knowledge, extends reach and creates effects. Concurrently, the JFC assesses the changing operational environment and varies the amount of effort within each applicable line while focusing on a series of priority objectives that contribute to achieving the strategic objective. The level of effort will vary depending on the type of operation, and the actual events that occur. Figure D-2 depicts a proportional level of effort for a notional campaign where actual events have modified the framework from what was originally planned (Figure D-1).
Lines of effort demonstrate a more sophisticated approach the future joint force could take in planning, executing, and analyzing campaigns. Although all lines of effort are considered concurrently, some lines will be given priority due to their relevance to the specific objectives assigned. Identifying priorities will help the JFC allocate and re-allocate resources between lines of effort. Figures 1 and 2 reflect the likely need for multiple instruments of national power to engage based on the objectives and therefore helps reinforce the need to integrate interagency activities throughout the campaign.
The 'lines of operation' concept necessitates a broader civil-military (or: properly strategic) conceptualization of conflict. It therefore basically synthesizes the basic challenge in modern warfare and conflict management we are faced with. This includes the clausewitzian goals of transitioning to and from civil ownership of the aggregate process, and the implication of COIN approximate wider political, administrative and economic means and ends. These thoughts looks like a path way toward what Antulio J. Echevarria called for - from a way of battle to a way of war in a proper clausewitzian (i.e. political) context.

Another thing is that apparently, it is likely that the JOC will have its name changed as 'shaping' carries a too meddling connotation. The possible change is understandable to the extent that it follows the same logic as the CENTCOM reasoning behind giving up on the Long War concept.

But it is less sensible if the change merely results in newspeak, i.e. if the JOC will not refer to actual "meddling" practices (with the risk of rendering the exercise futile). Of course, we are here in the midst of the whole, very politically laden "post colonial" debate - over sovereignty. Personally, I'm all for calling things what they are - and it seems that some euphemisms in the development policy circuit could be done without. But that is (albeit only slightly) a different matter.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Most Unsexy Headline Ever: Planning Capabilities in the Inter-Agency Process

The USG inter-agency process* is dependent upon the planning capabilities of the Pentagon - and maybe it shouldn't be. Increasingly, the inter-agency process is the center of gravity for the United States' aggregate security capabilities (for simplifying reasons, let's stick here to the functional phases of conflict as conceptualized within US defense - phases zero to IV. Obviously, not all conflicts contain use of armed force). But only the US Department of Defense has extensive planning and business development sections working on generalized and concrete preparations for pre-conflict and post-conflict issues.

No-one doubts that the US rules phase III - major combat operations. But the US is not amassing the potential power it has for phases zero and IV. The latter refers to postconflict and the former to preconflict. To each of these belong at set of tasks that are more or less well-described and more or less well-understood. Post-conflict is a more well-described in terms of probable solutions and possibly better understood than pre-conflict. This is because post-conflict is more clearly a challenge for concrete organizations - ours, at least to begin with.

Post-conflict refers to both a complex organizational and logistic task (establishing country and government-wide administrative functioning organizations through military and civilian capabilities while/and handing them over to the host nation) and a strategic task namely identifying the wanted host national endstate, in fucntion of feasibility and ambitions (the choice is evidently shaped by political and anthropological both ramifications and limitations). To this effect, JFCOM has created the SSTR JOC which describes in general terms the challenges and is used as basis for doctrine development; Pentagon has issued the DoD Directive 3000.05, which sets SSTR Ops on par with major combat operations (i.e. the military has to be able to brak stuff efficiently and to hand over the pieces to subsequent civilian authority in accordance with the overall, wanted political endstate); and State has been given coordinate authority over phase IV so that the military in principle only has a supportive function - the chief of State's Office for the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) is in charge of coordinating this particular element in the inter-agency process (not really sure how it/he formally ties in with the NSC which is in charge of the overall process).

Pre-conflict on the other hand is about identifying and addressing - ultimately managing - emerging conflicts so that they do not evolve into something we cannot live with for humanitarian or security reasons, or both. If we put on the USG glasses then, in principle, this challenge calls for both civilian and security (military and covert) means, because the challenge in itself has a political and anthropological character - it cannot be purely military. Much of the existing framework of international organizations and here especially the UN deals with pre-conflict. Development policy itself is a central piece in this puzzle. Conceiving of development policy as a means in to a pre-conflict management end is controversial but helpful.

Pre-conflict there has not recieved the same institutional attention as post-conflict. Only the JFCOM is developing a new Joint Operating Concept for 'Shaping' operations. The CINC at AFRICOM will be likely to get the responsibility for contingency planning like the other CINCs have. A number of these will be proper war plans. The majority will likely deal with evacuation, humanitarian assistance and especially FID, COIN and counterterrorism - foreign internal defense operations and (support to) counterinsurgency. But the most consequential work, if the AFRICOM commander gets it right, will be based on the conceptual work being done on pre-conflict issues.

There is an institutional trap here: the military traditionally is very strong in war planning. In its self-understanding the military exists to carry out major missions. These are represented in war and contingency plans. But the pre-conflict logic is more civilian, oriented towards day-to-day process of political subjects (but it is at the same time more general, strategic than a war plan case). The challenge for both JFCOM and AFRICOM will be to enhance the pre-conflict stuff to the same institutional importance as those threats that can be addressed through war planning.

The military develops and produces contingency planning and joint concepts at COCOM and JFCOM levels. No such equivalent exists within the civilian apparatus. The US military has some unique institutional strengths in planning and concept development, both in terms of talent and numbers, and in terms of formalization of process. The civilian side could learn a lot from these guys.

But there is an institutional imbalance here. Neither State Department or the NSC have ressources for strategic planning comparable to Pentagon's. Pentagon is 'only' responsible for developing plans and JOCs in support of the overall USG inter-agency process on pre- and post-conflict where the civilian agencies are in the lead. One solution is of course for e.g. the AFRICOM commander to involve or integrate civilian agencies very much up front in strategic planning and forecasting. But even if this is an understandable and pragmatic approach there is something lopsided about a process that will then hinge the institutitional setup of carrying out US foreign policy (State's domain) on the individual character of e.g. the AFRICOM commander. In the end, pre-conflict management can then be boiled down to whether the given commander 'gets' the political and anthropological stuff.

That seems like an unnecessarily contingent element.
Maybe State Department or the NSC should get into the conceptual development and planning work on their own account so that they get a better - more strictly institutionalized - chance of getting heard? That might also ensure, that the military winds up with less situations where they are formally in a supportive function while really having to do it all.

* For the non-US reader: the 'inter-agency process' is the term describing the policy coordination going on inside US Government (USG). The National Security Council is the agency responsible for the process concerning national security matters.