Saturday, 4 July 2009

Not Iran

It’s hard to keep your eyes pointing in all directions at once . . .

Iraq, and Thoughts on Intervention, by Roland Dodds. Added: Ibn Muqawama on Joe Biden, Iraq envoy.
Sietske in Beirut writes on conversations she has. Not many dead, according to the papers.

Via Mick Hartley, Riots in China. Mick has also paid particular attention to the Uighurs being released from Guantanamo, fleshing out their tale with information on ongoing repression of Uighurs by the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang. Since his last round up on the story, The New York Times has published a report on the Uighurs settled in Bermuda.  

Georgia’s Hard Slog to Democracy by Michael Cecire, at Michael Totten’s blog. Related at the NY times, Russia’s Neighbors Resist Wooing and Bullying.

Also from Michael Totten, A Conversation with Robert D Kaplan. This does include discussion of Iran, along with China’s involvement in Sri Lanka, Russia and its neighbours, Afghanistan and Pakistan. However I’d like to highlight an exchange at the end regarding Israel’s failure in counterinsurgency, material relevant to the essay topic set in an earlier post here.
Kaplan: You know what’s interesting? The Israelis. They’ve been great at defeating structured Arab armies, but they haven’t figured out how to deal with a few thousand insurgents in South Lebanon or in Gaza. What did their wars in 2006 and 2009 in Lebanon and Gaza get them?

MJT: It got them fewer rockets for a while, but it’s temporary.

Kaplan: Yeah.

MJT: I don’t know what they should do. They can’t put a David Petraeus in Gaza or Lebanon. It won’t work.

Kaplan: No.

MJT: And they can’t fight a counterinsurgency from the air because that’s just absurd.

Kaplan: Yeah. They haven’t been able to solve this problem at all.

MJT: I’m glad it isn’t up to me what Israel should do. There aren’t any good options. Maybe they should hold Syria accountable. Syria is at least a state with a return address and national interests. I don’t think the Syrian government is particularly ideological. It isn’t like the Iranian government. Syria isn’t an ideology, it’s a state.

Kaplan: It wants to survive.

MJT: Maybe the Israelis should lean on Assad. They can’t lean on Hamas or Hezbollah. They can’t lean on Beirut because Beirut is too weak to do much.

Kaplan: Yeah. I mean, the idea of bombing highway overpasses near Beirut to punish Lebanon for Hezbollah is ridiculous.

Kaplan and Totten point to Israel’s failure to develop of a true counterinsurgency campaign, but positive suggestions are still lacking. Tackling the Syrian regime may be relevant, but does not address the absence of a population-centric strategy. Any takers? 

Update: Vigilant as I try to be, one direction I didn’t think to look was down.

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