Friday, October 29, 2004

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The expertise schism

I think one of the big divides in the world is between people who primarily do security studies and people who do development. And I think one of the reasons the Bush people got into so much trouble is they put people who knew security in charge of what was really a big development project. These are people who had not spent a lot of time in East Timor or Somalia or Bosnia, watching how these things are done. I think that was one of the big problems.

That's Francis Fukuyama quoted in this long article about the internecine conflict between Fukuyama and Charles Krauthammer over Iraq and the future of neoconservatism (link via Andrew Sullivan).

Actually, I think Fukuyama understates the problem. It's not just that there was a divide between the security people and the development people. There was also a divide between the security experts between those who believed the revolution in military affairs (RMA) would transform all military operations, and those who believed that the RMA is important for warfighting but has little relevance for postwar occupation and peacebuilding activities.

Anyway, read the whole thing.

posted by Dan on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM


How about simply a divide between professionals per se and their wingnut political masters? I mean, after all, the Bush administration's handling of Iraq has been opposed from the beginning by the vast majority of professionals at State, DoD, the Agency, and in the broader wonk community. (There was some debate about the content of the policies, but little about the implementation.) So it's not fair to blame
"security" folks so broadly, when even the good ones among them were playing Cassandra...

posted by: lamont cranston on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

In short:

There are two kinds of people in the world, those with loaded guns, and those who dig (roads, infrastructure etc.). Bush put those with loaded guns in charge of digging.

posted by: erg on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

There is also a problem with the fact that all of these people are experts. Experts in some little field. What is desperately needed are people who know a little bit of everything: big picture managers, who can co-ordinate between the experts. Like a family practitioner (or GP, as they say in England) but for government.

posted by: LibArts on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

My fear is that, without Bush, the only thing people would have been digging in Iraq is more mass graves.

But that is off the main point here. The Fukuyama/Krauthammer debate is interesting.

posted by: TMH on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

My fear is that, without Bush, the only thing people would have been digging in Iraq is more mass graves

And not only in Iraq, but here, and other western countries.... which raises the import of the debate, by an order of scale.

And as for the inteligensia disagreeing with Bush's policy, I'm unimpressed.

I don't recall them ever agreeing with anyone to the right of Jimmy Carter.... (snicker) so I wonder what impact that disagreement has.

posted by: Bithead on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]


For such a smart guy, Fukuyama is awfully late to the game. A lot of people were saying the same thing in 2002, from the CIA to the navy war college. (And it would be pathetic to call them anything but security experts as well.) Too bad the idiots in charge were listening to convicted con man Ahmed Chalabi instead.

I was watching Bush's campaign speech on the tube last night. The guy was saying: don't judge me on my record, judge me on my character and steadfastness. Bush: the born again candidate!

posted by: mac on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

The real problem is not the expertise of the Participants, it is the lack of a defined Mission statement. No organization works effectively, when there is no refined delegation of task, and labor is placed within a schematic of multitasking conflicting endeavors. Piecemeal efforts destroy any reality. lgl

posted by: lgl on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

So basically, the NEW military kicks ass when it fights, but isn't capable of a occupation.

I think this is right, and really I don't think anybody in the DOD thought differently, but they were simply mistaken as to the size of insurgency they would be facing and the difficutly in defeating an insurgency. Really though, the insurgency can't win and it never wins in history so long as a native government is set up to take permanent control and the occupiers remain committed to staying the course and the rest of the country knows the occupation is temporary. I think this is right, and pseudo-hawks like Drezner and Sullivan ignore.

If we get Kerry, the insurgency is revived, as they have a weaker and less resolved occupation easier to drive out.

posted by: Reg on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

The blogosphere seems pretty convinced that RMA has nothing to do with insurgency fighting, but I am surprised at how quickly the 'failure' tag has been placed on Iraq by people who supported it in the first place.

It is not obvious that more troops would have accomplished more. A soldier on every corner can be just a target on every corner, to paraphrase a friend of mine. Fighting with high firepower small forces almost certainly increases enemy body count while decreasing US soldier casualties. It is highly flexible in a way that omnipresence isn't. Targeting from areas that are known to be secure, small forces can react quickly and decisively against overpowered targets. If your troops on every corner present relatively weak targets and get blown up, what does the omnipresence theory allow you to do? If you replace them, you have the same plan, but if you don't replace them, you are losing. Add in the perception problem of standing US armies everywhere, and I am just saying that things are a bit more murky for the 'more troops' faction than seems to be discussed. I'm not sold on RMA for this purpose, necessarily, but I do think it is too early to pass judgement.

posted by: Jason Ligon on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

I think the argument is not to put a soldier on every corner, but to have patrolled the borders better, to have maintained order better in the first months before the insurgency really got underway, and to have gone more aggressively against militias like Sadr's.

I really think the problem may have much to do with how the RMA has been applied to peacekeeping.

I also note that Fukiyama seems not to be as focused on the implementation, to be challenging the mideast democratization project overall. AFTER things went poorly, he didnt predict it in advance. As a liberal hawk, im unimpressed.

posted by: liberalhawk on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

Bin Laden appears to be alive. If it stands scrutiny, let me be the first to say i was horribly, horribly wrong. The man is dangerously patient. This whole election seems a lot smaller all the sudden. Everyone be safe this weeekend.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

Fukuyama is wrong
And completely wrong in East Timor.
In East Timor there wasnt hardcore militants of a former regime just some small militias paid by indonesians, more like criminal elements.
The timorenses have very little to do with Indonesians. East Timor is a former Portuguese colony ,it's population is very catholic and always resisted indonesian occupation. How can East Timor be compared with Iraq is for me a mistery.

In Somalia what development was made, other than bring food? i know nothing...

In Bosnia was needed a big reconstruction plan?

What sample Fukuyama uses to tell us that reconstruction and projects arent going well?

posted by: lucklucky on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

Bin Laden appears to be alive. If it stands scrutiny, let me be the first to say i was horribly, horribly wrong.

Alas, Mark Buehner isn't on the Republican ticket. Instead, Error-Free Bush is the choice.

Why is OBL still above ground?

Despite the importance of finding al-Qaeda's leaders, by early 2002 the United States was already shifting its attention and resources away from Afghanistan.... For more than a year and a half the search for bin Laden was given relatively low priority. On February 24, 2002, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "I wouldn't call [getting bin Laden] a prime mission." Intelligence and military assets that might have been directed at bin Laden were directed largely at Iraq. Only after the capture of Saddam Hussein, in December of 2003, were those resources redirected to the search for al-Qaeda's leaders.

--"The Long Hunt for Osama," Peter Bergen, Oct. 2004 Atlantic, p. 94.

posted by: Anderson on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

Perhaps the bigger schism is between those who are overly impressed by "expertise" (and the credentials that go with it) and those who are not.

What is the evidence that there is actually such a thing as a "development expert?"

posted by: David Foster on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

Snobs like Mr. Foster are one reason we're in such trouble in Iraq.

If they didn't teach it in business school, or it doesn't have a U.S. News rankings issue, then it must not be a real profession.

"Development experts" ... wouldn't they be in that nasty, dirty "Third World" we used to hear about in the 1970s?

posted by: Anderson on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

About OBL, i found surprising the comparative low level of arrogance in the message. Usually is "evil crusaders" "rivers of blood" and stuff like that. Maybe he's asking for cease fire. It will be interisting to see the new reactions of Zarqwavi and others. Maybe the allegience he called on Al-queda recently was because he got knowledge that Bin Laden was alive. On other hand the only contemporary reference is "Kerry" that a good sound editor could have put there.

posted by: lucklucky on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

What kind of influence do people like Fukuyama and Krauthammer have on government officials who are not completely unfamiliar with the practice of foreign policy?

After 9/11 Paul Wolfowitz was the first guy to show up before the blank canvas of President Bush's foreign policy thinking with some paint and a brush, so I'll grant that in this circumstance public intellectuals can wield quite a bit of influence. But Wolfowitz is not just a public intellectual; he is an experienced government official whose record includes a very successful tour as Ambassador in a Muslim country (Indonesia) -- and he operated under the aegis of Donald Rumsfeld, after 9/11 politically by far the strongest member of Bush's Cabinet and the ablest member of his national security team. This was not a typical situation.

So now we see Fukuyama and Krauthammer arguing, and slinging angry words back and forth in the best academic fashion, and I find myself thinking, so what? Who besides a foreign policy naif would be influenced by either of these guys, men who have never exercised responsibility and wouldn't know what to do with it if it were handed them on a plate? And are we supposed to just forget that Fukuyama's most glittering credential is his dopey "end of history" theory, or that no one can note Krauthammer's fairly obvious zeal to sound more Israeli than the Israelis without being accused of anti-Semitism within five minutes?

Honestly, there are arguments on this board that have more consequence.

posted by: Zathras on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

Zathras - Fukuyama - and apparently, to my astonishment, Krauthammer - are considered big-time intellectuals in the neo-con community.

I grant you, that's sort of like a moron being considered a big-time thinker in the idiot community, but the volume and fury of the debate indicates there are people who take those two seriously as political philosophers.

Me, I'll just sit back and enjoy the catfight.

posted by: Palladin on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

When looking at academe: Most realists were against this war. Most academic security experts were against this war. In academe, most security experts are realists of one stripe or another. A large number of realists were against this war. And with funds from their own pockets paid for an ad in the NYT against the war.

So, I think more thought must be given to where the divide lies. Those who appreciate military force in academe were in many/most cases against this war. Who was for and who against and why?

If I am right, then the schism is less between security and dev people than it is between people who believe in nationalism, balancing, and caution, and those who believe in bandwagoning and followership (lack of caution b/c people/states will follow). We've run this experiment for 4 years and the latter is not working out too well. Bush has provided a great experiment in IR and FP. A great case study. Of failure. From belief in bandwagoning to optimistic miscalc to but pol screwups. Great for us poli sci types, but horrible for the world.


posted by: Dan on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

Jason Ligon said, It is not obvious that more troops would have accomplished more. A soldier on every corner can be just a target on every corner, to paraphrase a friend of mine. Fighting with high firepower small forces almost certainly increases enemy body count while decreasing US soldier casualties.

Body counts aren't really the issue. Not for winning occupations.

Ideally you don't occupy a country that's 10% the size of yours, you occupy smaller countries. After the liberation you bring in a whole lot of MPs. They know the local language and they get things organised. They wear uniforms with sharp creases and polished boots, and they have lots of backup. Meanwhile you hire as many unemployed people as you can get to do reconstruction. They cart off garbage and rubble and make it look like things are getting back to normal. Restore services quickly. When there's a terrorist incident you respond with massive force but little violence, you disrupt traffic, cordon off the areas he might be in and search them carefully, you expect the cooperation of all civilians to catch the criminal and you treat them with civility and respect unless they fail to cooperate. I mentioned that these guys know the local language, right? So the better things get cleaned up and working the less patience people have with terrorists blowing it up again. And if 95% of terrorists get caught before their second act, with zero occupier-inflicted civilian casualties, there just won't be many of them. It just won't get started. Instead whatever malcontents refuse to adapt get pushed out into the mountains or swamps, someplace it isn't worth rooting them out of, and they can starve there to their hearts' content. The ones who give up and come look for city jobs can make some lame story to explain why they don't have valid ID cards and they get new cards and it's all fine, de facto amnesty.

The point of the occupation army (with polished boots and knife-edge creases and sidearms in holsters that are snapped shut) is not to maximise body counts. It's to look invincible. You can kill an MP or two but they'll catch you and give you a fair trial. They treat insurgents as common criminals, and it starts looking that way to the public too -- nobody thinks they can accomplish anything so why try? It would be like southern insurgents trying to bring back the Confederacy in 2005. They can shoot some cops but what good is it?

Meanwhile, you set up a functional representative government. People can tell the government about their concerns and the most important concerns get addressed quickly. It doesn't much matter whether they're under military rule with officially no say in things, if they get to say whatever they most care about and have it addressed. The more efficiently that works relative to whatever government they had before, the better the occupation goes.

After awhile they get a local government patterned on the occupying power's government, and they're told they can choose whether to head for incorporation into the occupying nation as a full-fledged member with first-class citizenship for locals, or toward independence, or stay in occupied status. Meanwhile one path for locals to gain status is to join the occupying army (they'll get sent elsewhere) or the police (stay home).

It's expensive but it used to work. This approach succeeded for the USA in puerto rico, hawaii, guam, etc. It didn't work well in the philippines, partly because we didn't send in enough troops, and the local governments we installed were too crooked. Would it work in a country that has a lot of loose RPGs floating around? I dunno. It's easier with gun control. But it's what used to work.

We couldn't do that in iraq. We didn't have enough troops. We didn't have enough MPs with occupation training. We didn't have enough arabic-speakers. We could have taught a lot of guys arabic, and we should have. We could have trained a lot of MPs and we should have. We didn't have enough troops to occupy a nation the size of iraq that way.

So to do it at all we had to do it some other way.

It was risky to run an occupation of a country the size of iraq using the troops we had. We could have recruited more troops. Given the political will we could have built an army that could do that job. We didn't haev that will. The Bush administration sold us the war with the claim it would be easy and quick. Bush gambled and lost.

posted by: J Thomas on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

Interesting ... another view of this professional divide is how people see patterns and how much infomration must exist before they accept a pattern ... For example the Mafia existed for decades before the legal community could prove what everybody knew as a fact. The link between Irag and terrorism is as obvious as the nose on OBL face yet we argue endlessly about it. Time will prove we have a link.

posted by: p on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

One of the "problems" that has bugged me was putting people without any job experience at all in high positions in the CPA. Like dozens of kids whose only calim to expertise was that they applied for internships at the Heritage Foundation. Like the newly minted MBA, daughter of Michael Ladeen who was put in charge of the budget for 25 friggin million people. With her lack of experience she wouldn't have been deemed qualified for the budget manager position in my small town of 15,000.

posted by: maurice on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

"For example the Mafia existed for decades before the legal community could prove what everybody knew as a fact. The link between Irag and terrorism is as obvious as the nose on OBL face yet we argue endlessly about it."

Do you think Don Corleone would provide support for a fledgling outfit that was starting an online gambling service that would soon take a chunk out of his racket? Why would Saddam support bin Laden? Saddam didn't buy into the fundamentalist stuff or the pan-Arab Nasser type stuff. He wanted absolute control over a very muscular Iraq. Near the end, for all the crap about his pledge to pay Palestinian suicide bomber families $15-25,000, there is no documented evidence that he ever did.

There were also no mass grave type incidents after 1991. As miserable as life was in Iraq for the decade+ following the Gulf War, Saddam was contained. Even the charges drawn up against Saddam by the Iraqi court contain no charges later than 1991. If you're so interested in mass graves, where is the concern for this type of horror in countries where there is no oil? Sudan, Rwanda, anyone?

posted by: ghostofjohngotti on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

The link between Irag and terrorism is as obvious as the nose on OBL face yet we argue endlessly about it.

Do you actually have any evidence for it?

posted by: J Thomas on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

...for all the crap about his pledge to pay Palestinian suicide bomber families $15-25,000, there is no documented evidence that he ever did.

I wouldn't particularly doubt it, though I have no examples.

Here's my reasoning. Saddam (and saudi arabia etc) did contribute to charities that helped out people the charities judged as victims of israeli oppression. So here's the scenario: Somebody becomes a suicide bomber. The israelis then figure out who it was, figure out who his relatives were, and bulldoze their houses, bulldoze their olive groves, etc. The charity helps support the destitute relatives. The israelis then say that Saddam, the saudis, etc are rewarding suicide bombers. After all, the israelis prefer that relatives of suicide bombers should starve to death with no one helping them as an a disincentive for people to become suicide bombers. So by the same logic anybody who *does* help them is providing an incentive for people to become suicide bombers.

posted by: J Thomas on 10.29.04 at 11:13 AM [permalink]

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