Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pakistan v. Taliban: an intrastate conflict?

Over the coming weeks I'll be doing some research on the conflict Pakistan is engaged in against the Taliban. Where did it begin? How did it begin? Who started it? Is the approach to deal with it effective? What else is involved in the conflict? Where does India fit in? Where does the U.S. fit in? Where is the U.N.? And more. The first essay will be a look at Pakistan's conflict with the Taliban as an intrastate conflict. Undoubtedly Pakistan is engaged in a fight against factions of Taliban within the borders of Pakistan. And, undoubtedly the Taliban have waged a war against innocent Pakistanis. As a nation with nuclear weapons, what does the conflict mean and what are the implications for a successful or failed campaign? I welcome any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions for resources. I have some theories about the causes, particularly the influence of U.S. actions in Afghanistan. But, I also think there may be an element of Indian influence too. We'll see where the research go.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Counterinsurgency: is it the population or the enemy?

There seem to be two dominant schools of thought regarding counterinsurgency. One is population focused. One is enemy focused. I just came from a lecture with the author of a recent book who thinks a third approach is more leadership focused. So which is most correct? I wonder if the answer is none of the above. Instead I wonder if there is an alternative option that is issue focused. What I mean is that each insurgent situation is unique. Granted there are similarities between all insurgencies and the counterinsurgent efforts against those insurgencies. But, they are all still different. Therefore, I wonder if in reality they each require a unique approach. If so, then the alternative, an issue centric approach, might make sense. Thoughts?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick Look at Iraq War From an Individual Level Analysis

This is just a tid-bit from a recent class discussion. The thought is not fully developed.  You are welcome to develop it further.

Looking at the Gulf War(s) from an individual level analysis there are two stand-out players. In the first Gulf War it was Saddam Hussein against George Bush. In the second Gulf War, which was more correctly a war in Iraq, it was Saddam Hussein against George Bush. Any similarity? Well, yes and no. The Bushes were obviously different, and although there are theories about the second Bush having sought revenge for the first, I tend to think those arguments are tantamount to conspiracy theories. But, in both situations the pervasive thought was what John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt discuss in their 2003 Foreign Policy essay as (2003), "Saddam must be toppled because he cannot be deterred from using weapons of mass destruction (WMD)" (p.52). This was certainly the case in the second Gulf War, or Iraqi Freedom.

Although the Bush administration (W not HW) tried to craft a comprehensive policy against Iraq, the reality of the policy was that the U.S. was going to prevent his use of WMD. At the time it was a plausible reason to pursue Saddam and his regime because Saddam's history suggested he "is a warped human being who might use WMD without regard for the consequences" as Mearsheimer and Walt explain. The threat at the time was easily sold to the public, and in 2003 we attacked Iraq. Much good and much bad has come of Iraq since. One thing that has not come, however, are any relevant WMDs.

Mearsheimer, J. J., & Walt, S. M. (2003, January/February). An unnecessary war. Foreign Policy , pp. 50-59

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Look at Global Integration

Here's a look at global integration, an essay from a previous class. There may be some gramatical errors, but point is still the point.

Global Integration
    When Timothy Geithner was President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York he commented in a speech at a Global Leadership forum that (2007), "Economies that are more open have generally seen more rapid growth…Economies that are less open have generally grown less rapidly" (para. 19). This is the essence of globalization – the openness of the world to the world or as Thomas Friedman puts it (2002) "globalization is the integration of everything with everything else" (p. 64). Our world system is made up of many things. Economic systems are tied by democratic desires. Nations are tied together by technology. They are tied together by policies. They are tied together by terrorism and criminal activity – to fight common enemies. These aspects that bind nations together can be enablers and impediments to the overall trend, global integration.
    Technology has enabled global integration. Possibly more than any other existing international infrastructure, the internet has brought the farthest reaches of Mumbai, India to the doorstep of Florence, South Carolina. The internet and communication advances enable global integration. It costs less today to talk to the other side of the world than it did fifty years ago (Friedman 2005). Closing the communication gap and its associated costs has opened doors for business to integrate members of multiple nations into the business model. Technology, possibly more than any other factor, contributes to enabling global integration. It is through the variety of technologies that the world experiences the world. Today telephone communication is significantly cheaper than decades ago. Not only is it cheaper, it is more efficient. It is clearer. It is easier. It is simply better (Keohane & Nye 2000). Communication is one of the keys to interaction. Without it there is no interaction. By making the conduit of interaction better, interaction only gets better. And as technology has closed the gap of interaction by making the process cheaper and easier, nations now are more able to communicate with each other than in times past. Of the technological advances in communications, one in particular has open doors of freedom and liberalized business ventures. The internet links the world together. With the literal click of a button, Japan is connected to China is connected to Russia is connected to Germany is connected the US and so on. Thomas Friedman says in his 2005 New York Times article (2005), "anyone with smarts, access to Google and a cheap wireless laptop can join the innovation fray" (para. 10).
    The global reach of terrorism has put a dent in the progress of global integration. The reaction by many nations is naturally to protect its citizens. In doing so, measures taken may potentially isolate a protected nation. Prudent measures include increased security and screening of whom and what comes into a nation's borders. This includes traded goods and tourists. While the world is seeing record levels of global tourism (Kearney 2006), nations must take steps to monitor the added number of visitors within its borders. Tightening those kinds of controls could potentially limit the free flow of opportunities thereby impeding global integration. While on the surface one could conclude that terrorism is a threat to globalization, the relative reality is our world has not slowed down one bit since 9/11 (Zakaria 2009). Although nations are more prudent about protecting its citizens, it is not clear that the world is retreating to a more protectionist system – closing borders. Instead of putting up so-called walls to globalization Thomas Friedman quipped in his debate with Robert Kaplan (2002), "that technology had destroyed the walls already – that the September 11 terrorists made their reservations on" (p. 65). This lighthearted look may indicate that the reverse of protectionism from a terrorism standpoint may be true.
    Along the same lines as terrorism, another aspect of the international system has been somewhat of an impediment to global integration. Global criminal activity such as the kind Moises Naim describes in his 2003 Foreign Policy article have been a nuisance to the progress of global integration. He talks about five separate activities, these "wars", specifically illegal drugs, illegal arms, the infringement of intellectual property, human trafficking and money laundering. Because of their ability to make a significant amount of money, the participants of these activities are in essence in competition with legitimate market forces. Naim suggests ( 2003), "In each of these five wars, the incentives to successfully overcome government-imposed limits to trade are simply enormous" (p. 35). The criminals are amazingly adept at overcoming the global market system (Naim 2003). Although these activities put a dent in global integration by distracting resources, they are in a certain way of themselves very much enabled by global integration. Criminals have learned to use technology to expand their business. Drug businesses are not localized to regions anymore. They stretch around the globe. Poppy harvested in Afghanistan is processed and sold as heroin on the streets of Detroit, Michigan. So in a distorted way the global integration of criminal activity is very alive and prosperous.
    The United States has been a particularly significant enabler to global integration. A recent Economist article pointed out that (2007), "For decades America has shown how dynamic economies are better than equality-driven ones at generating overall prosperity" (para. 15). What this suggests is that by demonstrating the effectiveness of a free society, nations around the world have attempted to follow suit. The ability to enable its citizens to themselves prosper is a model of democracy the US represents. This capitalism is infectious and many nations wishing to build their own societies have attempted to adapt the kind of capitalism that built such a strong US economy. The US share of global GDP is so large it can reach out and touch the rest of the world economically speaking (Geithner 2007). Doing so has opened doors to new business and expanded the opportunities of established business. Through the leadership of the United States, particularly through technology, the world has grown more connected (Kearney 2006). Even China, one the few remaining communist countries in the world, share similarities with the United States. Thomas Friedman believes that the global reach of capitalism might very well lead to the end of communism in China. He calls it the (2002), "capitalist side of China – buying out the Communist Party" (p. 69).
    There is a momentum to globalization that may just be irreversible. President Barack Obama has talked about the slow process of change and used the analogy of turning a massive tanker as opposed to turning a speed boat. In much the same way, changes of a global nature are so massive that turning them takes a long time. Granted sudden events may alter the course temporarily, but the trend has been and as many argue continues to be in a forward direction – not backward. Some such as Ralston Saul may question the progress of globalization suggesting, as he did in 2004 Harper's Magazine article, the world has shifted from globalization to nationalism (Saul 2004). Whether that is true or the truth is the momentum of global integration is such that insulation from it would, as Geithner said (2007), "be a fundamental mistake" (para. 17), is not easy to say yet. What one could say is that nations share a common bond of dealing with both the enabling and impeding aspects making nations to at least that extent integrated.


A.T. Kearney, Inc. (2006, November/December). The global top 20. Foreign Policy , 74-81.
Friedman, T. (2005, April 3). It's a flat world, after all. The New York Times .
Friedman, T., & Kaplan, R. (2002, March/April). States of discord. Foreign Policy , pp. 64-    70.
Geithner, T. (2007, July 25). The economic dynamics of global integration. Speech . Washington, D.C.: Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Keohane, R. O., & Nye Jr., J. S. (2000, Spring). Globalization: what's new? what's not? (and     so what?). Foreign Policy , pp. 104-119.
Naim, M. (2003, January/February). The five wars of globalization. Foreign Policy , 29-37.
Rich man, poor man. (2007, January 20). Economist
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Zakaria, F. (2009, June 22). Greed is good (to a point). Newsweek , pp. 41-45.