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It’s a little quiet here on the blog as I focus on two deadlines. When I come back online this weekend, I’ll post at least one book review (I finally read Losing Hearts and Minds?) and maybe another review of another book I just finished that gives a deep understanding of what got Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui so bothered over the West and George Soros nine years ago. There’s a remote (really remote) chance I’ll have a third book review ready to go, but my money says it won’t happen by then.

Understanding the Enemy: Echevarria and Cordesman and the Long War

See Draconian Observations for his brief post on Anthony Cordesman and Antulio J. Echevarria on the Long War.

The below slide DO posted from Cordesman’s presentation is a statement of the obvious that’s absolutely revolutionary (plug: it’s nice to have real analysts agree with me, see the last paragraph here.)

DO’s summary is, of course, dead-on:

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.

Is Somalia seeking Chinese protection?

Thanks JS (not the Armchair Generalist, another JS) for sending this story on Somalia a while back (that I’m just getting to now):

U.S. hires military contractor to back peacekeeping mission in Somalia
By Chris Tomlinson
1:20 p.m. March 7, 2007

NAIROBI, Kenya – The State Department has hired a major military contractor to help equip and provide logistical support to international peacekeepers in Somalia, giving the United States a significant role in the critical mission without assigning combat forces.

DynCorp International, which also has U.S. contracts in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, will be paid $10 million to help the first peacekeeping mission in Somalia in more than 10 years.

The article continues… blah blah blah… but it concludes on an interesting note:

The United States is not the only country seeking to provide private military services in Africa.

In 2005 the Somali government signed a $50 million contract with New York-based TopCat Marine Security to help create a coast guard to protect its coast and shipping from pirates. The State Department blocked TopCat from deploying because of a U.N. arms embargo, Hassan Abshir Farah, Somalia’s marine resources minister said.

Farah said his government was now discussing a deal with the Chinese government and Chinese marine security firms.

Of course the US isn’t the only one offering protection, private or public, to Africa. (why the focus on private military services? Right, it’s the “in topic”.) DynCorp’s involvement isn’t special, spectacular, or really innovative. Not really interesting but noteworthy is the reason given for the death of the TopCat deal, but I won’t waste my time on TopCat. If you care, see Kathryn Cramer’s post on the cease-and-desist order by State to TopCat Marine or see links off my recent summary of the events around the TopCat screw-up.

What is interesting is the last sentence. The Chinese are in a full court press on the continent, as I’ve noted in various blog posts. While they don’t care about the plight of the people, they do care about the plight of the elites. There’s money to be made on fishing etc (the same fish stocks China’s poaching) that China is more than happy to help the gov’t protect (for a fee). Also, keep in mind the Chinese way of sealing the deal is different than that the Americans. We include lawyers and the Chinese include promises of unrelated business to sway the decision maker as necessary, sweetening the deal and ignoring details to be dealt with later. While we look over the details with lawyers, China says “Deal! We’ll work out the details later.”

It will be interesting to see if we see a headline with both China and Somalia in it in the near future.

Public Diplomacy on the web… by Israel

A story on modern public diplomacy on Salon highlights the activities of the state of Israel. The state has its own MySpace page, it’s own blog, and even a bunch of YouTube videos. Apparently the Foreign Ministry will start publishing their own blog, with the personal thoughts of FM officials, soon.

Hmmm, I wonder if you asked the Foreign Ministry who is tasked with these projects, they’d say “I think four or five“? Definitely an interesting reach out.

Thanks AE for mentioning this.

Masthead change

Briefly, I’ve changed the masthead slightly. “Counterinsurgency” was removed in favor of “unrestricted warfare”. COIN was too restricted and while URW might be a term in vogue at the moment, it is more encompassing than irregular warfare as conflict is frequently non-kinetic or when working to prevent conflict (i.e. “pre-kinetic”). “Private military companies” was removed in favor of privatization of force to also be more encompassing, if not just to use a bigger word.

Public Diplomacy, Strategic Communications and Unrestricted Warfare

I just returned from a trip that emphasized the importance of my mission statement that I posted before I left (w/ slight mod on my return). Between conversations before and after the conference and the conference itself, it seems much more important that we revisit the concepts of strategic communications, information operations, PSYOPS, and public diplomacy in the age of Unrestricted Warfare.

Public Diplomacy Watch points out an attempt to engage foreign audiences through blogging. This is apparently a low priority project as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes doesn’t even know how many of her people are assigned to the task.

How many are on her office’s blog team? “I think it’s four or five,” says Hughes.

Just the other day another incident occurred that begs a major information campaign based on truth: using children as decoys. Such a wedge issue, similar to the Zarqawari “blooper tape” and Zarqawari’s attack on the Jordanian wedding, can have a real effect. Even if not immediate, it can have a cumulative impact. Arrangements like the release of Sheik Ahmed Shibani (and here) should be integrated into the communication plan as we work against the unresponsiveness of the lingering effects of negative PR like Abu Ghraib.

Of course, there’s a limit to how far Hughes can go because of limits of language acquisition that just seems to be new and unique. Check out our efforts in the past (but don’t tell if not asked).

Enough years have passed, let’s get our strategic communications and public diplomacy house in order already. This doesn’t mean a slick Charlotte Beers / Madison Avenue approach, but a smart grass roots effort based on facts. In the case of the children as decoys, find the parents, link in the soccer balls to parents via IP programs, and highlight the change of tactics on both sides. We’re finally doing real engagement as clear and hold actually means hold and at least one segment of the opposition has degenerated further.

See Noah’s post highlighting why we need a better integration with communication specialists.

Blog Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to explore and discuss the relationships between military force, both public and private, public diplomacy, and modern conflict. Implicit in this is the friction between civil and military institutions as it relates to command and control of military force in a constantly evolving environment where conflict is a political tool of both the weak and the strong. Public diplomacy thus becomes a potential tool  an element of national security to shorten, terminate, and prevent conflict to save the lives of both civilians and military personnel as it seeks to influence present and future enemies and their support networks.

This direction is seen by some, oddly enough, as tainting public diplomacy and transforming it into something else (something unclean?). As I contravened local wisdom, a colleague suggested I was “scaling the peaks of public diplomacy”. This quote has now been my laptop’s wallpaper for some time now.

China and Peacekeeping

Stratfor published a useful chart depicting China’s increased participation in peacekeeping operations.
This is a semi-regular topic on this blog.  Back in 2003, the PLA Daily, the newspaper of the Chinese Army, stated the intent to increase participation in peacekeeping operations to raise China’s global profile.  In other words, peacekeeping would be a tool of both public diplomacy and traditional diplomacy.

In 2005, China was the 15th largest contributor of forces, moving earlier this year to 12th, which included increasing its contribution to 1,000 in Lebanon in 2006 for the declared purpose of raising its profile in the Middle East and in Europe.

Not surprisingly, China prefers to send its peacekeepers to Africa over other destinations.  This fits with Chinese stated public diplomacy strategy (and here for more specific example).  However, as was the case in Haiti, China doesn’t play exclusives and will go where it feels it can get a big bang for its disaster relief and humanitarian aid renminbi.

In addition to being seen, this has the added benefit of practicing for deployments away from their very-near abroad.

I’m sure we will see more Chinese peacekeepers.  The UN maintains about 20 operations at any one time with a new rotation starting every 6 months.

The Top 5 “peacekeepers for hire” have little in the way of international interests and get paid about $1100 per man per month (and require on top of that transport, equipment, and support).  These Top 5 collectively contribute nearly 50% of all UN forces, while the top 3 are 39% of the total.

If China ramps up its peacekeeping, will it have a ripple effect to these poor nations counting on the cash?  Will that create new opportunities for the Chinese to provide aid, in the variety of forms they provide “aid”?

Stay tuned.

Image credit: Stratfor

Book Review: Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security

Click to go to Amazon.comKurt M. Campbell and Michael E. O’Hanlon’s book Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security is written as a handbook for Democrats, as well as other soft power proponents, to discuss the importance and elements of national security. As the authors argue, Democrats need to stop fearing participation in national security debates and step up to form a dialogue and become a viable political party. National security is a wedge issue that is “often dominated by extremist ideology on one side and muted protest on the other” and Democrats and soft power advocates are ill-equipped to participate in the discussion is how Campbell and O’Hanlon frame it.

The authors begin by establishing the importance of issue ownership and show how Democrats had used the imagery and language of national security forcibly and effectively. Just the same, they document the freefall from the legacy of FDR, Truman, JFK, and the early years of LBJ with the encouragement of Republican party politicking.

Continue reading “Book Review: Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security

Blogroll Addition

Yet another addition: PCR Project, a CSIS blog on prevention, conflict analysis, and reconstruction. Post-conflict reconstruction (PCR) is a popular topic these days covering a wide range of topics.

On the same topic, but not a blogroll addition, is the new Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding (H/T C-M blog, initial issue avail free):

…a new cross-disciplinary journal devoted to academic and practitioner analysis of international intervention with the purpose of strengthening state capacities.

Statebuilding – constructing or reconstructing institutions of governance capable of providing citizens with physical and economic security – is widely held to be one of the most pressing policy questions facing the international community today. Those concerned with such issues cross the political spectrum. They include political realists who argue that there is more to fear from failing states than from conquering ones. They also embrace activists who see the dysfunction of state institutions as lying at the heart of the global poverty trap. Indeed, it is the intersection of these concerns on the part of the security and development communities that has made state-building a core policy focus across the policy agendas of major Western states, international institutions and international NGOs.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Robots

Can I own a South Korean robot or am I it’s guardian? From BBCNews:

An ethical code to prevent humans abusing robots, and vice versa, is being drawn up by South Korea.

The Robot Ethics Charter will cover standards for users and manufacturers and will be released later in 2007.

It is being put together by a five member team of experts that includes futurists and a science fiction writer.

The South Korean government has identified robotics as a key economic driver and is pumping millions of dollars into research.

If you watch technology, you should know that SK is adept at implementing new technology, including real high speed internet connectivity, and robots are part of the natural progression.

A recent government report forecast that robots would routinely carry out surgery by 2018.

The Ministry of Information and Communication has also predicted that every South Korean household will have a robot by between 2015 and 2020.

Will PETR be the new PETA?

(Thanks Gyre.org)

Book Review: Web of Deceit

Click to go to Amazon.comBarry Lando’s Web of Deceit opens with a detailed chronology of events concerning Iraq beginning in 1914. With an entry for nearly every year, there is but a handful of instances three gaps in time, Lando sets the factual and methodical tone and tenor of the book.

The book’s ten chapters describes the creation and evolution of Iraq. In the first chapter, beginning in 1914 and spanning four and a half decades, Lando begins with a brief but useful look at pre-Twentieth Century history of the region. The real meat is the British and French actions and deals to divy up the region, which Lando uses to draw stark parallels to the current American involvement in Iraq.

The rest of the book focuses Western and Soviet involvement in shaping Iraq through support, both explicit and implicit, whether accident or not. The book concludes in August 2006 in the appropriately titled chapter “Full Circle: The Occupation” that itself concludes by reminding the reader of history 80 years before when the British occupied Iraq.

Continue reading “Book Review: Web of Deceit

Blog Roll Additions (revised)

Two additions to the blogroll:

See this post on the Smart Power Blog for some resources on civil-military relations beyond the above blog. Hopefully there will also be an engaging discussion on the importance of understanding c-m.

Civil Reserve Corps, SysAdmin, and reality

NPR ran a story this morning on the challenges of deploying of the real citizen soldiers:

Challenges put on National Guard and Reserve forces by extended call-ups would seem to be a severe limitation on the quality and effectiveness of the proposed Civil Reserve Corps. NPR’s story

Extended deployments for National Guard and Reserve units mean trouble for the 6-percent of Guard members who own their own businesses. Managing a business while at war is nearly impossible.

What does this portend for the proposed Civil Reserve Corps or Barnett’s SysAdmin force? How likely is it the most qualified and best human assets will get engaged in SysAdmin-like work on behalf of the United States in the future without adequately supporting these people? Remember State has had problems moving its professionals around, US military recruiting costs have jumped, with an arguable drop in quality. This is a detail we need to work out.