Monday, February 27, 2006

Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and whatnot

Mr Lamb argues that “One very basic fact exists within conflict resolution; to be resolved a conflict requires an interest by either one of the engaged parties or an outside party for it to be resolved.”

I am not sure that I completely agree with that statement, since often times the entire world would like to see a conflict resolved that one or the other player in the conflict is content to keep going, and the conflict keeps going. If an outside observer wants a conflict to end, that outside observer has to be prepared to “put its money where its mouth is” so to speak. There have been times in the recent past when the US has been willing to intervene in conflicts in which it does not have a direct interest, such as in Bosnia. Venezuela is a little different. The side with the biggest problem with Chavez and his rule in Venezuela is not the US but a substantial portion of the Venezuelan people themselves. However, it is not in the Chavez’ interest to endlessly berate and castigate these opponents to his regime (although they do come in for a certain amount of his opprobrium) so instead, Chavez has picked a proxy for his complaints. That proxy is the United States. The problem for mediating this conflict is that the US government has been studiously unwilling to clash with him in return.

Part of the reason is that overt engagement of the United States in Central and South America has a negative connotation for many in the region. Many immediately think of gunboat diplomacy, the overthrow of Allende or as Chavez himself likes to mention, the “terrorism” of sanctions imposed on Cuba. Having these examples thrown up into the face of US diplomacy makes the US understandably reticent to come down strongly on one side or the other on a dispute. Should the US be seen as anything other that neutral with regard to Chavez, it plays into his criticisms and strengthens his stand.

The other reason for the United States’ seeming indifference to provocations from Chavez is that experience shows that Central and South American dictatorships do not have a long lifespan. Time and again we see fiery anti-American rhetoric from dictatorships that spring up from both right and left in South America, but some years later, after failing to deliver on promises to the people, those dictatorships are gone. Sometimes the go peacefully, other times, more violently (and sometimes, with a push from the US, as recently with Panama), but always, they go. Cuba may seem to be an argument against this policy, but Cuba has not really been a threat to US interests since the fall of the Soviet Union. Castro is more a threat to his own people that he will ever be again to the US. Benignly waiting them out, until they do something truly against American interest, like directly running drugs, seems like a much better policy than responding to every provocation or being dragged into negotiations for the purpose of embarrassing the US.

This policy perhaps explains the patience that the US has shown to North Korea. Evidence has shown us that sclerotic Communist regimes are unlikely to start wars, directly. Survival within the bureaucracies attendant to these governments is predicated on one’s survival instinct and ability to forge consensus around the status quo, not taking big chances going off into a new direction. Second and beyond generations of communist dictatorships have shown no interest in directly challenging their enemies. These aging dictatorships are willing to fight by proxy, to sell arms to lunatic regimes, to work actively to undermine their enemies secretly or to engage is bellicose threats because these are status quo behaviors. Actually starting a war, however, is risky and risk is something that no communist bureaucrat is willing to countenance. The best way to handle conflict with these types of regimes is to watch them warily, stay strong in the face of their threats, and wait them out. Negotiating with these types of regimes, as Mayer points out, is assigning them the “perception of power” that they otherwise do not possess. The US has rightly gauged that North Korea won’t attack, so there is no need to negotiate, and actually reward them for power they don’t possess. They have no power, nothing to offer in negotiations, so they can’t give anything up to get anything in return.

Jimmy Carter, and by extension, the Carter Center, have miscalculated the nature of the North Korean’s power. The Carter Center looks at the claims of North Korea having nuclear weapons and sees the array of arms pointed at the South and assumes this equals power. Given this assumption, it is understandable why they would attempt negotiations with the North Korea but these negotiations have failed, primarily because they have nothing to give up, as I mentioned above, but also because they have acted in bad faith. Mayer points out that “although some people may feel that lying to people, misleading them, and intimidating them are acceptable behaviors in negotiation, these behaviors to do not promote mutual problem solving, effective communications or rapport.” (Mayer, pg153.) Unfortunately, these behaviors pretty much sum up the North Korean approach to negotiation.

The counter argument to continuing to negotiate with a partner who acts in bad faith, and has no real power to begin with, is that there is a certain transformative power in the peace process itself. Coates argues that “the means of change will create new community, and this is why we must focus on the process as much as (if not more than) the outcome.” This sentiment is not uniquely held, in fact, many ascribe to the belief that by talking and talking, eventually attitudes will change and thereby actions will change as well. So far, in the case of Central American dictatorships, North Korea, and recently, in Iran, we have not seen any proof of this assertion.

Coates, Susan. “Peace Feminism in International Relations.” University of Denver: ( Date unknown.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Estonia is the northernmost one of the small republics on the Baltic Sea, on Russia’s northwest, just south of Finland. It has a population a 1.5 million, split between ethnic Estonian speakers who represent about 65% of the population and ethnic Russian speakers who represent 29%. The remaining 6 percent’s ancestors emigrated to Estonia from all over the Soviet Union, starting during Stalin’s rule.

The roots of the conflict between Estonia and Russia stretch back only to the Russian revolution. Prior to 1917, Estonian had been nominally ruled from afar by Sweden, Poland, Germany and Russia. The real power lay with the descendents of German knights who first invaded Estonia in the 13th century to convert the pagans there to Christianity. These landowners formed the Baltic “Ritterschaften,” or “corporations of the nobility” and controlled the economy of Estonia This arrangement lasted until Emperor Alexander I of Russia released the serfs from bondage to the land in 1816. Following this limited emancipation, Estonian nationalism began to come into being. (Kasekamp, pg4)

A group of idealistic German scholars came together to establish a “Learned Society” and to further the goal of secondary education in the indigenous Estonian language. Other Estonian societies sprang up to promote local interests. It was not until a national Estonian language newspaper began publication in the 1860’s calling for greater freedoms for Estonia from Russia. Eventually Russia became alarmed by these expressions, and moved to impose Russification on Estonia to remove the lingering influence of the German aristocracy in the 1880’s. This movement had the ironic effect of removing the larger German influence without completely replacing it with Russian influence, a development which allowed the local Estonian identity to flower. (Kasekamp, pg5)

Although the Russian Czar remained in control of Estonia through 1917 when Germany began to advance on the capital Tallinn. Estonia declared its independence, and fought off, in turn the Kaiser’s forces then the Red Army until 1920, when the Soviet Union signed a peace treaty with Estonia, establishing the Republic of Estonia, which oriented itself away from Russia and toward Great Britain, Germany and the Nordic Countries. However, in 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union make a pact which resulted in the subjugation of the Estonian people. Stalin deported thousands of Estonian elite to Siberia, and relocated many Russians and Ukrainians to Estonia. This upheaval sowed the seeds of resentment. The authoritarian rule of the Soviets suppressed the rage of the Estonian people, but with the crumbling of the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia began to assert itself and eventually won its “reindependence” in the bloodless “Singing Revolution.” (Carter Center, pg42)

Since “reindependence,” there has been internal conflict in Estonia, at the “Confrontation” stage of the “life cycle of conflict.” This conflict is essentially ethnic with the Estonians lined up against the Russians. There exist large parts of Estonia, especially near the border, with virtually no Estonians. Some towns are 95%+ Russian speaking. Nonetheless, the newly installed Estonian parliament enacted citizenship rules requiring fluency in Estonian and restrictive voting requirements and restrictions on officeholders that essentially disenfranchised all the ethnic Russians. The Estonian government considered these late arriving Russian a security risk, a risk exacerbated by the presence of thousands of Russian troops who continued to be garrisoned in Estonia.

Out of concerns for the “human rights” of ethnic Russians in Estonia, the new Russian government offered citizenship to any ethnic Russian in Estonia without requiring those individuals to return to Russia. This ethnic struggle could be framed as one between human rights and security. (Birckenbach) The Estonians saw the unassimilated population of Russians living in their midst, and the large garrisoned Russian Army forces as a direct and overt threat to their newly won independence while the Russian Estonians perceived a loss of rights in place that for many had been their only home. This disenfranchised group look for a benefactor and found one in the neighboring country, Russia. Tensions were present both internal to Estonia and between Estonia and Russia. Officials from the Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), one of the regional actors mentioned in the packet, recognized that this conflict had real potential to lead to ethnic bloodshed or a cross-border war. In an attempt to forestall these outcomes, the OSCE appealed to the Carter Center for Conflict Resolution Program to devise a program to reduce tensions. (Neu, pg11)

The Carter Center decided to convene workshops of 40 participants and smaller groups of 12, equally weighted between ethnic Estonians, ethnic Russians from Estonia and Russian Russians. These groups met over the course of three years, from 1994 to 1997, to discuss their perceptions about the problems in Estonia and between Estonia and Russia. The groups consisted of people from all walks of life, interested in facing the challenges of Estonia. (Neu, pg21)

The participants identified certain key areas for resolution:

-The need for Russia to acknowledge its 1940 annexation (occupation) of Estonia.
-The importance of having a shared understanding of Russia’s and Estonia’s histories.
-The need to treat elderly Russians fairly in gaining citizenship.
-The importance of Russians making good-faith efforts to learn Estonian language and culture.
-The value for the Estonian government to make good-faith efforts to provide Estonian language classes at a reasonable cost.
-The need to allow the Russian speaking community access to the media and politics.

Given the different perceptions harbored by the ethnic Russians and the ethnic Estonians, it was soon apparent that different groups were going to require different approaches to resolve the conflicts. The Estonians felt that the Russians, given the history, were evil and considered Estonians as lower class. Any resolution for the Estonians would have to address their emotional revulsion towards the Russians.

The Russians could not understand the animosity of the Estonians. From the Russian perspective, the Estonians were ungrateful and whiny for not leaving Estonia if they were so unhappy. The Russians required cognitive resolution because they did not learn the history of Soviet occupation of Estonia and they had no idea the Estonians resented the presence of to Russians so much. Over the course of the years of workshops in Estonia and the United States, the participants were able to address the needs of all sides and begin moving towards resolution of difference that could be applied to the wider population of Estonia.

The conflict boiled down to this: “the Russian speakers wanted to return to pre-1991 Estonia, and the Estonians wanted the Russian speakers to leave.” (Neu pg32) Clearly, this problem required reframing of the problem, something that the conflict resolution specialists from the Carter Center were able to provide. The solution hinged on the Estonians being willing to accept Russian presence, provided Russians made some effort to integrate, and the Russians being willing to learn the Estonian language and to integrate into society.

Birckenbach, Hanne-Margaret, “The Role of Fact-Finding in
Preventative Diplomacy.” International Journal of Peace Studies, July 1997.

Kasekamp, Andres, The Radical Right in Interwar Estonia. (St
Martin’s Press; New York) 2000.

Neu, Joyce and Volkan, Vamik, Developing A Methodology For
Conflict Prevention: The Case Of Estonia. (Carter Center; Atlanta) 1999.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The birdshot that broke the mountain's back

Michael, Could you comment on why Gonzaga students chanting "Brokeback Mountain" at a gay opponent is bad and worthy of censure, but Jill Sobule baiting Dick Cheney in the same way is "funny?"

I imagine that if somehow the Sobule meme got picked up and Gonzaga students took to sing-song chants of “Brokeback Mountain” at a Dick Cheney appearance, there would be no outrage.

What interests me is the larger, cultural implication. It seems that even liberals recognize the depravity inherent in homosexual behavior that still shames those who engage in it. Hence, the effort by college administrators (read: liberals) to shield the homosexual student from the shame that comes when his actions are mocked by the “Brokeback Mountain” chant.

Conversely, the laughter that accompanies portrayal of Cheney and Whittington as the leads in “Brokeback Mountain” stems from its absurdity. It is like when John Wayne would pretend to be a “swish” for a moment on the “Dean Martin” show. Laughter comes from the unimaginable juxtaposition of someone like Cheney behaving in so depraved a manner.

It seems to me that we should not let liberals have it all ways. They can’t at once laud homosexuality as a natural expression of love, while trying to shield those who practice it from being called out AND yet at the same time be willing to use homosexuality to ridicule someone with whom they disagree.

Letter to Michelle Malkin

When you are on the same side of an issue as Maureen Dowd, Chuck Schumer and Hillary and against the WSJ and President Bush, it should cause you to pause and rethink a little.

The UAE company will be operating terminal space, and only a portion of it, in the ports. The wild, ignorant speculation that you quote is full of specious logic "Gaffney: Past experience suggests the job may have fallen to lower-level career bureaucrats who give priority to maintaining good relations with their foreign 'clients,' like the UAE." Say what? How does that follow? I am a lower level bureaucrat, and I would be happy to spear a foreign 'client' in a
heartbeat. How does Gaffney's unsubstantiated guess about the approval process advance your point?

Yes, there is a lot of conventional wisdom that is "gob-smackingly obvious," but there are also a lot of mistaken assumptions that seems pretty gob-smackingly
obvious to the uninformed and willfully obtuse. I can usually count on the knuckleheads on the left to wave the flag of ignorance as if it were truth(Koran
flushing, withholding armor, torture in Gitmo), it sorrows me to see someone for whom I had a lot of respect line up with them on something like this.

And I thought that the disrespectful, dismissive tone you directed towards the WSJ was beneath you as well. Your stuff routinely gets treated that way on leftist websites, you would do well to rise above such pettiness. It needlessly sullies your work.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Say it ain't so, James

I read that James Webb is running for the Senate in Virginia as a Democrat. Reagan's Secretary of the Navy, running as a Democrat. Why?

Mac Owens of the Naval War College in Newport says that it is because the civilians at the Defense Department are not sufficiently deferential to the views of veterans regarding the conduct of the war in Iraq. So, oor James Webb feels slighted by the bully Rumsfeld. Oh, and Republicans said mean things about some veterans, like Paul Hackett in Ohio, Murtha, and Kerry, all of whom opposed the President's policy in Iraq. I sense a trend. Some ego-tripping politician, who happens also to be a veteran, calls the White House with a great idea for winning the war, but does not see the idea immediately put into action, and turns into a strident anti-war critic. So, a fit of pique causes these great statesmen to turn from hawks to doves.

Now, I am on active duty, and I have to tell you, that while I might respect an officer for having the fortitude to step into the uniform and serve, that doesn't mean I think that person has all the answers regarding Iraq or any other matter of public policy. Some of the dumbest ideas for ending the war, or for reducing our presence in Iraq, or about political matters in general come from people who have been in combat. Should their lame-brain ideas have special currency by virtue of having been to war? OR should those ideas be weighed against all other ideas before a decision is made. I trust Rumsfeld and the President to take as much input as the can, and make the best possible decisions. Will this result in some ideas, even those submitted by intellectual luminaries like Webb, Murtha and Kerry being ignored? Yes. Does that mean they should take their ball and go home? A mature adult would say no, but an inside the beltway egotist would say, "because Rummy won't listen to me, I am now against the war that I was for previously."

I used to have a lot of respect for James Webb, respect that he earned through his service in Vietnam and for his obvious literary gifts on display in Fields of Fire and Something to Die For, among other books. I began to lose some of my respect for him in my two encounters with him during book signings. If both cases, I saw him make plenty of time for Generals and retired Generals who came to glad-hand him all the while ignoring young Marines who were introduced to Fields of Fire through the Commandant's Reading Program and wanted to express to him how much his book meant to them. He perfunctorily signed their copies, and turned back to the Generals who, I guess now looking back in retrospect, he thought were going to back his Senatorial candidacy through donations or assistance. I was not impressed.

I am even less impressed now. For all his professed concern for the troops and for the welfare of the military, it looks like Webb is just another of those inside the beltway egotistical prima donnas who doesn't get his way, so in a tiff, changes parties to "send a message to the President" or something else equally banal. To him I say, George Allen is a good enough Republican senator for Virginia who upports the troops and the war effort, and would never side with the likes of Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden and Harry Reid against this President and against the United States. Webb has become a Murtha-style phony. Vote for Allen, vote against Webb.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

You have a grievance?

For an article written in 1993, Huntington’s words in “The Clash of Civilizations?” are remarkably prescient. His thesis: “The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural,” might have seemed radical during an era informed by the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the “End of History,” but we see now how on the mark this observation is.

The current round of attacks on embassies has as its proximate cause outrage over the publication of images of Mohammed. The images of the conflict are startling, children in London holding signs demanding that cartoonists be beheaded, chanters in France calling for Allah to bring a “9-11” to Europe, statues of Ronald McDonald aflame in Pakistan, Danish Embassies burning in Syria and Lebanon, and claims that nuclear weapons will give Moslem countries “respect.” Clearly, there is rage among Moslems, regardless of their nationality, directed toward the West in general and Denmark in particular. But the interesting question is whether the cartoons caused the rioting that would not have occurred but for the images or whether the cartoons are a catalyst that precipitated a conflict which was otherwise inevitable?

The argument that cartoons are somehow uniquely offensive in a way that makes otherwise docile believers in Islam to become violent is belied by the fact that books and statues have depicted the image of Mohammed’s face for more than a 1000 years. Illustrations of Dante’s Inferno have featured Mohammed in hell since the poem’s initial publication. Other works of art throughout history have show his face, and even now, cigarette vendors in Iran have pictures of Mohammed’s face to prove their piety. There is a frieze featuring Mohammed on the north face of the Supreme Court. So, since it does not appear that the images themselves are particularly horrific, some have speculated that the outrage of Muslims is because publishing the pictures shows that infidels have insufficient reverence and respect for the prophet and by extension, all Moslems. While holding the West to a higher standard regarding images of Mohammed than they hold their own, Huntington makes that point that “People apply one standard to their kin-countries and a different standard to others.”

This explanation comes closer to Huntington’s observation that the sharpest differentiation between civilizations is by religion. When one civilization feels that its religion is not respected by another, the situation could result in “the most prolonged and the most violent conflicts.” Whether the images in question are particularly egregious manifestation of a lack of respect is immaterial to the perception among many Moslems that they images represent a general lack of respect for Moslems by the West, a lack of respect that many Moslems feel they must counter by force.

Many Westerners are bewildered by the anger and hatred they see in the faces of the Moslems protesting the cartoons, because most in the West, think of Islam not at all and would prefer to be left alone to live their lives in peace, completely unconcerned about the Moslems and their perceived grievances. For Mayer, this kind of neglect and ignorance by the stronger power for the interests and needs of the weaker power is a recipe for conflict. And because there is such a huge imbalance between the power of the Moslem states and the West, the Moslems have resorted to nuisance attacks on the West that “irritate, bother, interfere or harass but…fall short of the ability to impose significant consequences or penalties.” Since the early 70’s the Moslem world has made nuisance attacks on the West through terrorism, kidnappings, oil price shocks, embassy seizures and bombings, and small scale attacks in individual targets, like the first World Trade Center bombing and the attack on the USS Cole. The West had responded in a similarly limited fashion with small scale bombings, arrests and targeted killings.

One of the “nuisance” attacks was somewhat more successful than the others, namely the attacks of 9-11. Initially, this “victory” over the United States and the West was met with jubilation throughout Moslem countries and the perpetrator of the attack, Osama bin Laden was lauded. However, this pride was soon dashed into humiliations as Moslems watched the United States and Britain respond disproportionately to the loss of 3000 people by toppling two Moslem governments, occupying the cradle of Moslem civilization in Iraq, and establishing bases throughout the region. And this humiliation breeds anger and fosters the perception that the West is at war with Islam.

Individual Moslems have certainly not been shy about claiming that Islam is at war with the West. At least since the first Gulf War, many prominent Moslem voices have made this claim, as detailed by Huntington. Current leaders, like the President of Iran are making similar claims, and the perception on the street, not only in Moslem countries, but also among Moslems who live in the West is that Islam is at war with the West. Given that perception, even relatively innocuous provocations like cartoons can seem as huge affronts to the already aggrieved. Mayer argues that this type of affront can be attributed to cultural obliviousness which when combined with the huge power disparity can drive the offended party to seek ever larger expressions of their outrage. Hence, the Iran pursues nuclear weapons.

The cultural obliviousness of the West can result is serious miscalculations. Mayer says that by failing to understand the needs of the smaller power, the larger power is prone to gestures which will seem patronizing and controlling. This reliance on gesture and posture is where the real threat to press freedom reside. Because many in the West fail to understand the grievances of the Moslems and to realize that many in the Moslem world are actively at war with the West, leads the more feckless Western countries to call for self-regulation of the press or tolerance to Moslem sensibilities that would amount to censorship. Yet failing to grasp the underlying grievance of Moslems; the fact that they have been routinely defeated by Infidels, and that their economies and modern cultures are dependent on Western technology and money. These things are deeply humiliating and represent an affront to Moslems very essence.

Offering to be more solicitous of the feeling of Moslems, trying to assuage the offense Moslems feel by pixilating the face of Mohammed when the cartoons are shown on CNN or firing an editor of some newspaper plays into the patronization against which Moslems are rioting. The offense is not cartoons, but is the West itself, and the West’s failure to submit to Islam. Currently, the lines between Islam and the West are not sharp but they are real. Once the balance of power begins to tilt more toward Islam, with the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, the lines will become much sharper. Nuisance power of Islam will transform to more formal power, and become a lot harder to confront.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The two best cheerleading movies

My all-time favorite cheerleading movie is “Bring It On.” You can’t beat the acting, the cheering or great lines. “We’re a cheerocracy!” But I saw one last night that is a close second. “Man of the House” with Tommy Lee Jones and the mega-hottie, Anne Archer. This movie has laughs, R Lee Ermey, the Drill Instructor from “Full Metal Jacket,” references to “Full Metal Jacket” in the script, and a take down of a college mascot. The best line comes when Cedric the Entertainer tries to a break dance floor spin, stalls out in mid revolution and as he is lying in the middle of the floor, Tommy Lee Jones says, “That is REAL old school.”

This is a good flick, I give it 6 out of 8 stars.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Commentary of the State of Educational Administration in the US

All right, I told an Irish joke to a friend of mine, Education PhD, smart guy, Irish Catholic. Nothing dirty, nothing particularly offensive, but he didn’t get it. I may have thrown him off initially by telling the joke in my flawless Irish brogue, so I retold it in my flat, yet still melodious Midwestern Accent. He still didn’t get it. Now, mind you, I have told this joke in numerous other situations, in bars, during physical therapy, and it always gets a laugh, so I look at his inability to understand it as a massive personal failure on his part.

Finally, after 15 minutes of retelling the joke, analyzing each segment, with him enacting parts of it, then going away to his cubicle still puzzled, I hear a guffaw from his desk. “I get it now!” he yelled. And people wonder why the US Education system is broken, it is because we have dumb-ass Irishmen who are even more incapable of comprehending simple narratives while sober than they are when drunk. Although we all have to admit, you are more likely to encounter them drunk than sober, even at work.

Oh, here is the joke.

Walking into the bar, Mike said to Charlie the bartender, "Pour me a stiff
one - just had another fight with the little woman."

Oh yeah?"said Charlie "And how did this one end?"

"When it was over," Mike replied, "she came to me on her hands and knees.

"Really," said Charles, "now that's a switch! What did she say?"

She said, "Come out from under the bed, you little chicken shit"

I am all about Conflict Resolution, Baby!

Bernard Mayer, in his book, The Dynamic of Conflict Resolution offers four factors to explain how individuals approach conflict: values and beliefs about conflict, approaches to avoiding and engaging in conflict, styles of conflict, and the roles people are drawn to play in conflict.

How can this framework for understanding the behavior of an individual be applied to the behavior of states?

I think the way the question for this discussion is phrased: “How can this framework (Mayer’s four factors for how individuals approach conflict) for understanding the behavior of individuals be applied to the behavior of states?” implies that the answer is not whether or not the framework is appropriate. To answer this question, we have to assume that the framework IS appropriate, so that we can respond to “how” it is appropriate.

To answer “how,” we must look at our possible responses. Is Mayer’s framework a useful descriptive tool to give observers the language to contemporaneously communicate the underpinnings of state to state conflict? Is the framework a useful historical tool into which the actions of main players in a past conflict can be readily slotted to provide lessons learned to illuminate current conflicts? Or is the framework a predictive tool upon which intelligence analysts can rely to give policy makers an indication of what course of action an potential adversary is likely to take? Given the first two chapters of Mayer’s book, the examples contained within and the realities of state to state conflict, the framework seems to be a tool more likely to be of value in retrospect.

Take the four parts of the framework: values and beliefs about conflict, approaches to avoiding and engaging in conflict, styles of conflict, and the roles people are drawn to play in conflict. “Values and beliefs” do not seem to be particularly useful, even in the historical context: as Mayer himself says on pg28: “Some people have set and unvarying beliefs about conflict. Others tend to values that can vary according to the conflict and its context.” States are the same way, sometimes they seem to act according to stated principles, sometimes they don’t. When will individuals or states stick to their values and beliefs, and when are these values and beliefs merely situational? According to Mayer, that depends on the context.

The “context” is shaped by the various players in the conflict, and by their approaches to avoiding or engaging in conflict. For individuals in conflict, their approach to engaging or avoiding can be gauged by tone of voice, tone of writing, body language, volume or first-hand reports from associates. Individuals can get a gut feeling about the frame of mind of their adversary based on actual sensations, and respond intuitively. Mayer emphasizes the personal component of conflict in the numerous examples he sites. In state to state conflict, these sensations are often lacking. Absent first hand impression, an action can be interpreted as passive avoidance, or as capitulation or as a manipulative trap. The enemy’s actions could be aggressive avoidance, or actual power-based aggression. Assigning a “conflict approach” to the actions of an adversary without actual intelligence is little better than a guess, and could in fact be worse than a guess. Once a leader of a country thinks he has divined his adversary’s approach, the leader’s course of action is laid out. But if he has guessed wrong, disaster awaits.

So, given the variables within variables inherent in using the Mayer framework to analyze the styles of conflict of states, is it nonetheless a useful tool? I would answer yes, with the caveat that it is useful when we are considering conflict between rational actors. If we are in conflict with a madman, or someone on drugs, the framework is not so good. The framework does servesto remind us that argument and conflict is not something that occurs in a vacuum, but in fact is the end result of the psychology, the stimuli and the pressures on individuals and states. The framework is a valuable basis to continue studies in state to state conflict, but I would not assign it much value beyond that

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hugh demands answers!

Hugh Hewitt asks that those who opine on the cartoon
intifada to answer two questions up front: Are we at
war with Islam? Do you want a war with Islam? Hewitt
says sensible people answer no to both, but that is a
false choice. We ARE at war with Islam, because they
are at war with us. Unless we (the US, the West,
Christians) fight back, we are guaranteed to lose.
Mohammedans say they want to kill us, so we should
give them the respect to take them at their word, and
kill them first.

As to the second question, do I want a war with Islam,
the answer is “of course not.” But reference my first
point, since they are fighting us, only a lunatic or a
suicide would refuse to fight back. Since they are
spoiling for a fight, I say, give it to them. We are
at a numeric and material advantage on our home turf,
so we can crush them here (or at worst, expel them),
and since we have small footprints among the Arabs,
they surround us in mass to fight, so we have a target
rich environment. Since they want to fight, and we
have the advantage, we should fight. As any clear
military thinker from Clauewitz to Hanson will tell
you, a decisive victory far from home solves a lot of

Finally, Hewitt should face up to the fact that the
Moslems are engaged in the ultimate in ethnic
cleansing. A Moslem who wrote to Instapundit put it

Coming from an all Muslim family, I'm forced to listen
to the sense of perceived injustice of Muslims
concerning the depiction of their revered prophet.
It's quite sickening.

I tell my family that that's just how things work in a
free society: while I don't agree that the newspaper
should have done something so culturally insensitive,
they do have the right to do that, and attempting to
make Danish society pay as a whole for it is utterly

It doesn't matter, I'm told. It literally means
nothing to them, because in their world, everything
should revolve around them and their culture, and God
made the world for Muslim Arabs to control.
And this is the kind of mindset the Danish people are
contending with.

“God made the world for the Muslim Arabs to control.”
Pretty chilling. But our God tells us to go forth
teach every nation, the truth of Jesus Christ. These
world views are not compatible. Better to wake up and
fight for this now, than kick the can so that our
children must fight for what we ourselves did not hold

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Goat Glands and Coretta Scott King

Does anyone think that it is puzzling that Coretta Scott King died in a Tijuana Goat Gland Clinic? I mean, the woman had a stroke and heart disease, was half paralyzed, yet was so desperate to cling to this life that she threw in with a bunch of quacks in Mexico. It would seem that someone with a modicum of faith, even smaller than that of a mustard seed, would accept and rejoice at her impending appointment with God, instead of dashing around, leaving family and familiar environments, to get some "mysterious" cure. She is an example to me, I pray that when my time is nearing, I accept it gracefully, prepared, joyously to head home; not in some Mexican sweatshop, clinging to some false hope of another few days of paralyzed misery.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Let's Roll

So our friends, the Muslims, with outrage sensors tuned so exquisitely, decry the caricature of Mohammed by burning the Danish flag, which is otherwise known as the Scandinavian Cross. So the Moslems think that the best way to respond to some cartoon caricatures of Mohammed is to desecrate the symbol of Christianity? Oh the humanity! Where is the jihadi’s sense of propriety and respect for other religions?

I know, I am laughing too, I always laugh at my own absurdities.

And when it comes down to a clash of civilizations, in the midst of a war in which Muslims are justifying their war on the United States as fulfillment of their sacred duty, where does the State Department of the United States stand? (This one is a no brainer!) With the terrorists, of course!

Well, the anticipated European civil war, the one that actually started in the Fall in France with all the riots and the burning cars, is about to pick up pace. Good to know that the State Department has thrown in with the enemy.

Here are the cartoons that caused the Arab Street to erupt. If they want this to spark a latter day Battle of Tours, I say "bring it on."

Michelle Malkin is doing yeoman's work in this story with her 'MUHAMMAD CARTOONS BLOGBURST'. Semper fidelis.