It is, god help me for saying this, a quiet day. The President is scampering off to Denmark, weapons inspectors are being invited to Iran, and autumn has chosen to assert its presence over my city with the fickleness of a middle schooler. Rain, sun, rain, grim rainless clouds, rain again, and then sun.
A couple links have kept me entertained despite a complete lack of movement on the military-political issues of the day. First off, Andrew Bentley (who seems to be a civilian contractor for KBR) posted a nifty guide at Instructables: How to Grow Flowers on a Military Base in Iraq. The more you know.
KOW has some thoughts on the inter-related goals of COIN tactics and humanitarian aid:
What is particularly disliked by parties who claim to represent humanitarian ideals is aid conditionality–using aid as a carrot either based on ‘good behaviour’ or to encourage such good behaviour. This is a contradiction of ‘humanitarian principles’ which state the aid should be given on the basis of need, rather than political appropriateness.
Obviously, in terms of COIN, there is an immediate desire to achieve a certain effect, to reward certain behaviour, not necessarily to act according to more lofty principles.
I’m in the process of nailing down my thoughts, because this topic in particular is one of great interest to me. But initially my response is that, whatever your politics are, food should not be used as a weapon, though it can be used as a tool. Cooperation is not dependent upon hunger–a starving person will strike out just as a fed person will–but by employing a methodology that relies on compliance to receive the most basic of human needs, we run far closer to being prison guards than partners.
Still working on that.
Ricks makes a false comparison of Bush 43 to Obama that’s raising some interesting critique in the comments section. I agree that it doesn’t necessarily instill great confidence in me that the Obama administration issued the results of its review of Afghanistan, requested a document that would indicate what was needed to accomplish what was laid out in that March review, and then finds itself reviewing again based on the results of that document. But at the same time, I agree with Ricks–I’d rather he be reviewing than baldly making choices with no critique.
Coming at the same question from a different angle, Stratfor’s George Friedman published his review of Obama and current foreign policy. And Informed Comment has a guest post from Haggai Ram on Israel and Iran that’s worth your time.
Finally, I’m keeping my eye on the SWJ thread on the Army Capstone comment. Still haven’t had time to review my annotations, but I hope to get to that tonight. There’s never any shortage of reading, that’s certain.