Friday, May 25, 2007


Iraqi—Can We Win Them Over?

It is a long process at best, but it is the only way

Because of the tribal and Sectarian nature of Iraqi loyalties, it is apparent that a direct approach to “winning hearts and minds” is an exercise in futility. They do not think as we do, and any pretensions that they do are simply wrong.

A few examples will illustrate the point clearly:

1) death is to be welcomed by the faithful—to die in the service of Allah guarantees heaven;

2) an infidel---a non-Islamic person—is not human, and can be lied to, cheated, beaten or be killed without penalty in an Islamic nation.

3) Islam is the only religion, and it must conquer the world, install Sharia or Islamic Law, and subjugate the infidels to dhimmitude status; it is every Muslim’s duty to fight—jihad—for dominance of Islam.

Since Islam is both a religion and a way of governing, it is apparent that installing and operating a secularist government will have a hard time in Iraq. Thus Iraqi “democracy” will not resemble ours in shape or form. We see that daily when the Iraqi parliament cannot move forward on key issues because of the opposition of various sects and tribes.

What is the way forward then? How can we break through these thought patterns of a lifetime and a history that is remembered back through the centuries? How can we bring tribal leaders to the point where they flip their support to us? It can be done and is being done in An Bar Province now.

A quote from Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky;

“I remember the precepts dinned into me as an organizer in some of the darker places of Martial Law Philippines which I have never forgotten. When I think about Iraq and what happened in Anbar, the memories all come back.

1. Create the base organizations first and then confederations later. Any organization built in the capital city without a grassroots foundation is nothing but an eroding sandpile;

2. Go and live among the people. The only people who can organize the "masses" from headquarters are Communist intellectuals and academics.

3. In organizing the people, start from their level. Work from their immediate problems to the more systemic. Begin with the concrete before you talk about the abstract. As a people's organization must develop the capability to solve the water supply problem for itself before it can presume to tackle drafting a constitution.

4. Real leaders are forged in action. Most of the leaders pointed out to you by academics ain't worth shit. Leaders discover they are leaders. Sometimes they don't know.

5. Nothing liberates the people's consciousness so much as the experience of facing down an invincible enemy and finding they aren't so invincible.

6. You know that you have done a good job as an organizer when one day nobody misses you.”

This quote was brought to my attention by Wretchard at The Belmont Club. Much of the answer to our need for a way ahead is here in this quote. The caution is, however, that this takes a lot of time and sustained effort to succeed—time measured in years, not months. It takes trained men that can gain the confidence of the people and the tribal leaders. It takes funds to support projects. Finally, it takes a trigger level of security and confidence that support is around the corner if needed.

We are trying to establish the level of security now, but with too few troops, I believe, as I have stated many times. Perhaps it is also true that the special men needed to win over the people, one family or one tribe at a time, are simply not there in sufficient numbers to make a difference.

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Have you heard anything about the Chinese threat? Is it legitimate to be afraid of China?
Here is my part that I wrote:

The military power of China remains a great mystery in the USA since there are no real figures to determine chinese military expenditures. China never revealed its figures, this appreciation is often subjected to economic criteria (GDP, import/export ratios… etc) from different economic experts all over the world. China always speaks as a percentage about its military budget and this is how we try to figure out the military budget of China.

That said, the military budget of China is relatively small compared to the american military budget. The USA spends around 600 billion dollars in defense, whereas the total military expenditure of Europe, China and Russia, does not even come closer to 200 billion dollars a year. For China, their military expenditure has perhaps doubled, even quadrupled in the last five years since this percentage keeps going higher from year to year, but it has not been higher than 20% in the past 5 years, and it would seem that Chinese military expenditure doubles at least every 5 years. To clarify how much China spends on defense, we would have gone from 20 billions dollars to around at least 50 billions dollars a year, it is still not even one tenth of the budget of the American defense.

Then why the Pentagon is worried, even afraid of China? There are tons of reasons to explain that. The first reason since the beginning of the cold war, the American defense budget exploded, the spending in R&D increased dramatically, and the investments in new military technologies were not planned effectively. In fact they spent tremendous amount of money over the years, mismanaging new technologies, delaying R&D that caused delays in the production (I’ve seen many cases in the airplanes budget with buggy electronics but I prefer not to talk about that). Obviously the DOD will never speak about that to the public, not for reasons of national security but for reasons of prestige. The fact remains that by mismanaging money in the 80s the technological gap started to get dug, and the ultimate reaching point of this situation started in 2006. This technological gap that was predictable in the 80s is starting to worry the Pentagon most particularly with the acquisition of China in new technological weapons. The Chinese are able to destroy in space satellites with accurate shootings (high precision), the DOD from his side is still trying to acquire this new technology. This technological gap between China and the USA in weapon’s expenditure, in spite of colossal sums, is not justified any more when such new advanced technologies exceed technologically all that had been built in the domain of 4th war generation, it is even a terrible handicap, and this frightens nations psychologically when they are not able any more to hide behind advanced technologies. Moreover the Chinese military experts often say: “one does not need all these missiles, we just need the right missile”.

There is another point, IMO we cannot deny and it is in regards with the situation in the Middle-East. The fear of some Americans is certain but immoral with their government, because the problem of the Middle East above all, is a problem of natural resources between the USA and China. It has nothing to do with morals or Democracies in the Middle-East, it is all about money and natural resources. The American strategy is based foremost on the appropriation of natural resources to avoid the economic emancipation of China and other countries. In fact the Bush administration fights over there to sustain its own hegemony against China. This fear is all the more justified that the Bush administration has never spoken directly to China, except one time during a short trip from Rumsfeld in China in 2004. In fact both of these powers always interposed themselves by proxy like Iran or Sudan. When the USA speaks to Iran or in Sudan, the USA also speaks to China and vice-et-versa for China. That is called diplomacy. As a matter of fact, the war on terror, the Bush doctrine lies down in the fact that everything China is doing with Sudan or Iran or in the Middle-East, there are no other clear alternative than imposing a regime change in both of these countries from the Bush administration’s point of view so that they can keep doing their dirty business with commercial exchanges. I hope by this modest contribution that I have been able to indicate some elements that are not necessarly accepted or understood by the public. But when we explain situations with different alternatives, it still does not make it right, wars are still disgusting and immoral.

Here is a text from the BBC that talked about this issue between the US and China:

The United States has expressed concern over China's growing military might, in a Pentagon report given to Congress.

It particularly highlights China's new Jin-class nuclear submarines and what it believes are increasingly accurate air-to-ground missiles. These capabilities could lead to a change in China's no-first-use policy for its nuclear weapons, analysts say. China announced in March that it was increasing its military spending by 17.8% this year. Speaking before the report was released, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said: "We wish that there were greater transparency, that (the Chinese) would talk more about what their intentions are, what their strategies are. ''It would be nice to hear first-hand from the Chinese how they view some of these things," he added in comments reported by the Associated Press news agency. One issue that appears to be of concern to US officials is China's development of a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines equipped with ballistic missiles with a range of around 8,000km (5,000 miles). Andrew Yang, chairman of the Chinese Council for Advanced Policy Studies in Taiwan, said these Jin-class vessels could carry 12 missiles, with each rocket armed with three nuclear warheads.

'Gradual build-up'

One of these Chinese-built submarines is currently undergoing tests, and five more are planned, according to Mr Yang, an expert on China's military. Previously, China had just one nuclear-powered submarine, which had been so unreliable it rarely travelled far from its base, Mr Yang said. He added: "The Americans are concerned about whether a gradual build-up of nuclear forces implies China will change its nuclear policy of no first use." The report adds that training focusing on no-notice, long-range air strikes could "indicate planning for pre-emptive military options in advance of regional crises". Also highlighted in the 2007 Department of Defense Report to Congress on the "Military Power of the People's Republic of China" was a space test carried out by China in January. It destroyed a defunct weather satellite with a missile fired from Sichuan province. "The test put at risk the assets of all space-faring nations and posed dangers to human space flight due to the unprecedented amount of debris," AP quoted the report as saying.

International pressure

Over the last decade, China has embarked on a programme to upgrade its military capabilities. It plans to allocate 350.9bn yuan ($45.9bn) to its military this year, although many analysts believe it spends two or three times more than this. China has also come under increasing pressure from the US, Japan and others to be more open about what it is spending its money on. But despite the US concern, there are those who believe the US is exaggerating China's military threat in order to make a stronger case for an upgrade of US military capabilities. This was the main finding of a report published last November by the Federation of American Scientists and the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council. "The Pentagon has been sounding the alarm about China's nuclear intentions for a long time, but our analysis shows that they are overstating the threat," said Robert S Norris, an NRDC nuclear analyst and co-author of the report.
In the long term, China does indeed pose a threat to the world, not just the US. Her limitless manpower and modern weapons capabilities in both aviation/missiles and shipbuilding will allow her to dominate the Far East, and to defend the sea routes from the ME to China. At the moment, China has a second-class navy that poses little threat to the US fleet, but over time that can change dramatically. Rearming as she is doing now, however, appears to be largely defensive in character, at least for the moment.

What is China concerned about? First of all, full scale industrialization and global trade. Second, bringing her Western-most provinces into the twenty-first century. Third, raising her capability to defend against Russia and allies that continue to maintain armies near China, as well as being able to stand up to the US militarily should the need arise.

It has been the case for some years that China has joined the MAD gang with substantial nuclear capability. My personal opinion is that China is a most rational player and is simply looking to her future as a great nation.

This does not mean that they will be placid about Taiwan, for example, where we have a commitment to maintain Taiwanese independence from China. This is a key flashpoint that we do not control. The Taiwanese and China do control this situation, and at some point China may well decide to invade Taiwan under her nuclear cover and our strained military situation.

The Pentagon has been trying to use the China threat as a means to expand our forces back to the level they had during the cold war. They have not succeeded--not yet, anyway.

The key time frame for us to be concerned about is in about ten or fifteen years from now, say in 2017-2022 or so. At this time, China may have gained her industrial might and modernization objectives, and have a huge military in place, but would be highly constrained by lack of oil.

One can observe that China has already made serious international moves to assure herself of oil, particularly in the Sudan.

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