Monday, April 27, 2009

The Golfing Empty Suit

So Barry plays golf while pig flu sweeps the nation. "Barry got a bad lie, people die" Did he read "My Pet Goat" between holes?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Navy 3, Pirates 0

This isn't mine, but I am passing it along.

I'll just tell you what I found out from my contacts at NSWC
Norfolk and at SOCOM Tampa.

First though, let me orient you to familiarize you with the

In Africa from Djibouti at the southern end of the Red Sea eastward
through the Gulf of Aden to round Cape Guardafui at the easternmost tip of
Africa (also known as "The Horn of Africa") is about a 600 nm transit before
you stand out into the Indian Ocean. That transit is comparable in distance
to that from the mouth of the Mississippi at New Orleans to the tip of
Florida at Key West-- except that 600 nm over there is infested with Somalia

Ships turning southward at the Horn of Africa transit the SLOC (Sea
Lane of Commerce) along the east coast of Somalia because of the prevailing
southerly currents there. It's about 1,500 nm on to Mombassa, which is just
south of the equator in Kenya. Comparably, that's about the transit
distance from Portland Maine down the east coast of the US to Miami Florida.
In other words, the ocean area being patrolled by our naval forces off the
coast of Somalia is comparable to that in the Gulf of Mexico from the
Mississippi River east to Miami then up the eastern seaboard to Maine.

Second, let me globally orient you from our Naval Operating Base in
Norfolk, VA, east across the Atlantic to North Africa, thence across the Med
to Suez in Egypt, thence southward down the Red Sea to Djibouti at the Gulf
of Aden, thence eastward to round Cape Guardafui at the easternmost tip of
Africa, and thence southerly some 300 miles down the east cost of Somali out
into the high seas of the Indian Ocean to the position of MV ALABAMA is a
little more than 7,000 nm, and plus-nine time-zones ahead of EST.

Hold that thought, in that, a C-17 transport averaging a little
better than 400 kts (SOG) takes the best part of 18 hours to make that trip.
In the evening darkness late Thursday night, a team of Navy SEALs from NSWC
(Naval Surface Warfare Center) Norfolk parachuted from such a C-17 into the
black waters (no refraction of light) of the Indian Ocean-- close-aboard to
our 40,000 ton amphibious assault ship, USS BOXER (LHD 4), the flagship of
our ESG (Expeditionary Strike Group) in the AOR (Area Of Responsibility, the
Gulf of Aden). They not only parachuted in with all of their "equipment,"
they had their own inflatable boats, RHIB's (Rigid Hull, Inflatable Boats)
with them for over-water transport. They went into BOXER's landing dock,
debarked, and staged for the rescue-- Thursday night.

And, let me comment on time-late: In that the SEAL's quick
response-- departing ready-alert in less than 4 hours from Norfolk--
supposedly surprised POTUS's staff, whereas President Obama was miffed not
to get his "cops" there before the Navy. He reportedly questioned his
staff, "Will 'my' FBI people get there before the Navy does?" It took the
FBI almost 12 hours to put together a team and get them packed-up-- for an
"at sea" rescue. The FBI was trying to tell him that they are not practiced
to do this-- Navy SEALs are. But, BHO wanted the FBI there "to help," that
is, carry out the Attorney General's (his) orders to negotiate the release
of Captain Phillips peacefully-- because apparently he doesn't trust GW's
military to carry out his "political guidance."

The flight of the FBI's passenger jet took a little less than 14
hours at 500-some knots to get to Djibouti. BOXER'S helos picked them up
and transported them out to the ship. The Navy SEALs were already there,
staged, and ready to act by the time POTUS's FBI arrived on board latter
that evening. Notably, the first request by the OSC (On Scene Commander)
that early Friday morning to take them out and save Captain Phillips was
denied, to wit: "No, wait until 'my' FBI people get there."

Third, please consider a candid assessment of ability that finds
that the FBI snipers had never practiced shooting from a rolling, pitching,
yawing, surging, swaying, heaving platform-- and, target-- such as a ship
and a lifeboat on the high seas. Navies have been doing since Admiral
Nelson who had trained "Marines" to shoot muskets from the ship's rigging--
ironically, he was killed at sea in HMS VICTORY at the Battle of Trafalgar
by a French Marine rifleman that shot him from the rigging of the French
ship that they were grappling alongside.

Notably, when I was first training at USNA in 1955, the Navy was
doing it with a SATU, Small Arms Training Unit, based at our Little Creek
amphib base. Now, Navy SEAL's, in particular SEAL Team SIX (The "DevGru")
based at NSWC (Naval Surface Warfare Center) at Little Creek do that
training now, and hone their skills professionally-- daily. Shooting small
arms from a ship is more of an accomplished "Art Form" than it is a
practiced skill. When you are "in the bubble" and "in tune" with the
harmonic motion you find, through practice, that you are "able to put three
.308 slugs inside the head of a quarter at 100 meters, in day or night-- or,
behind a camouflaged net or a thin enclosure, such as a superstructure
bulkhead. Yes, we have the monocular scopes that can "see" heat-- and, draw
a bead on it. SEALs are absolutely expert at it-- with the movie clips to
prove it.

Okay, now try to imagine patrolling among the boats fishing everyday
out on the Grand Banks off our New England coast, and then responding to a
distress call from down around the waters between Florida and the Bahamas.
Three points for you to consider here: (1) Time-Distance-Speed
relationships for ships on the high seas, for instance, at a 25-knot SOA
(Speed Of Advance) it takes 24 hours to make good 600 nm-- BAINBRIDGE did.
(2) Fishermen work on the high seas, and (3) The best place to hide as a
"fisherman" pirate is among other fishermen

Early Wednesday morning, 4/8/2009, MV ALABAMA is at sea in the IO
about 300 miles off the (east) coast of Somalia en route to Mombassa Kenya.
Pirates in small boat start harassing her, and threatening her with weapons.
MV ALABAMA's captain sent out the distress call by radio, and ordered his
Engineer to shut down the engines as well as the ship-service electrical
generators-- in our lingo, "Go dark and cold." He informed his crew by
radio what was happening, and ordered them to go to an out-of-the-way
compartment and lock themselves in it-- from the inside. He would stay in
the pilot house to "negotiate" with the pirates.

The pirates boarded, captured the Captain, and ordered him to start
the engines. He said he would order his Engineer to do so, and he called
down to Engine Control on the internal communication system, but got no
answer. The lead pirate ordered two of his four men to go down and find him
and get the engines started.

Inside a ship without any lights is like the definition of dark.
The advantage goes to the people who work and live there. They jumped the
two pirates in a dark passageway. Both pirates lost their weapons, but one
managed to scramble and get away. The other they tied up, put tape over his
mouth and a knife at his throat.

Other members of the crew opened the drain cocks on the pirates boat
and cast it adrift. It foundered and sunk. The scrambling pirate made it
back to the pilot house and told of his demise. The pirates took the
Captain at gun point, and told him to launch one of his rescue boats (not a
life boat, per se). As he was lowering the boat for them, the crew appeared
with the other pirate to negotiate a trade. The crew let their hostage go
to soon, and the pirates kept the captain. But, he purposefully had lowered
the boat so it would jam.

With the rescue boat jammed, the pirates jumped over to a lifeboat
and released it as the captain jumped in the water. They fired at him, made
him stop, and grabbed him out of the water. Now, as night falls in the
vastness of the Indian Ocean, we have the classic "Mexican" standoff, to
wit: A life-boat that is just that, a life-boat adrift without any means of
propulsion except oars and paddles; and, a huge (by comparison) Motor Vessel
Container Ship adrift with a crew that is not going to leave their captain
behind. The pirates are enclosed under its shelter-covering, holding the
captain as their hostage. The crew is hunkered down in their ship waiting
for the "posse" to arrive.

After receiving MV ALABAMA'S distress call, USS BAINBRIDGE (DDG 96)
was dispatched by the ESG commander to respond to ALABAMA's distress call.
At best sustainable speed, she arrived on scene the day after-- that is, in
the dark of that early Thursday morning. As BAINBRIDGE quietly and slowly,
at darkened-ship without any lights to give her away, arrived on scene,
please consider a recorded interview with the Chief Engineer of MV ALABAMA
describing BAINBRIDGE's arrival. He said it was something else "... to see
the Navy slide in there like a greyhound!" He then said as she slipped in
closer he could see the "Stars and Stripes" flying from her masthead. He
got choked up saying it was the "...proudest moment of my life."

Phew! Let that sink in.
Earlier in the day, one of the U.S. Navy's Maritime Patrol Aircraft,
a fixed wing P3C, flew over to recon the scene. They dropped a buoy with a
radio to the pirates so that the Navy's interpreter could talk with the
pirates. When BAINBRIDGE arrived, the pirates thought the radio to be a
beaconing device, and threw it overboard. They wanted a satellite telephone
so that they could call home for help. Remember now, they are fishermen,
not "Rocket Scientists," in that, they don't know that we can intercept the
phone transmission also.

MV ALABAMA provided them with a satellite phone. They called home
back to "somebody" in Eyl Somalia (so that we now know where you live) to
come out and get them. The "somebody" in Eyl said they would be out right
away with other hostages, like 54 of them from other countries, and that
they would be coming out in two of their pirated ships. Right-- and, the
tooth fairy will let you have sex with her. Yea, in paradise. The
"somebody" in Eyl just chalked up four more expendables as overhead for "the
cost of operation." Next page.

Anyway, ESG will continue to "watch" Eyl for any ships standing out.

The Navy SEAL team, SEAL TEAM SIX, from NSWC briefed the OSC
(Commander Castellano, CO BAINBRIDGE) on how they could rescue the captain
from the life boat with swimmers-- "Combat Swimmers," per se. That plan was
denied by POTUS because it put the captain in danger-- and, involved killing
the pirates.

The FBI negotiators arrived on scene, and talked the pirates into
sending their wounded man over for treatment Saturday morning. Later that
afternoon, the SEAL's sent over their RHIB with food and water to recon the
life boat but the pirates shot at it. They could have taken them out then
(from being fired upon) but were denied again being told that the captain
was not in "imminent danger." The FBI negotiators calmed the situation by
informing the pirates of threatening weather as they could see storm clouds
closing from the horizon, and offered to tow the life boat. The pirates
agreed, and BAINBRIDGE took them under tow in their wake at 30 meters--
exactly 30 meters, which is exactly the distance the SEALs practice their
shooting skills.

With the lifeboat under tow, riding comfortably bow-down on
BAINBRIDGE's wake-wave ("rooster tail"), had a 17-second period of harmonic
motion, and at the end of every half-period (8.5 seconds) was steady on.
The light-enhanced (infra-red heat) monocular scopes on the SEAL's .308
caliber Mark 11 Mod 0 H&K suppressor-fitted sniper rifles easily imaged
their target very clearly. Pirates in a life boat at 30-meters could be
compared to fish in a barrel. All that was necessary was to take out the
plexiglass window so that it would not deflect the trajectory of the high
velocity .308 round. So, a sniper (one of four) with a wad-cutter round (a
flaxen sabot) would take out the window a split second before the
kill-shot-- no change in sight-picture, just the window blowing out, clean.

Now, here's the part BHO's "whiz kids" knew as well as the Navy
hierarchy, including CO BAINBRIDGE and CO SEAL TEAM SIX. It's the law in
Article 19 of Appendix L in the "Convention of the High Seas" that the
Commanding Officer of a US Ship on the high seas is obligated to respond to
distress signals from any flagged ship (US or otherwise), and protect the
life and property thereof when deemed to be in IMMINENT DANGER. So, in the
final analysis, it would be Captain Castellano call as to "Imminent Danger,"
and that he alone was obligated (duty bound) to act accordingly.

Got the picture?

After medically attending to the wounded pirated, and feeding him,
come first light (from the east) on Easter Sunday morning and the pirates
saw they were being towed further out to sea (instead of westward toward
land), the wounded pirate demanded to be returned to the lifeboat. There
would BE NO more negotiations-- and, the four Navy SEAL snipers "in the
bubble" went "Unlock." The pirate holding Captain Philips raised the gun to
his head, and IMMINENT DANGER was so observed and noted in the Log as CO
BAINBRIDGE gave the classic order: WEAPONS RELEASED! I can hear the echo
in my earpiece now, "On my count (from 8.5 seconds), 3, 2, 1, !" POP, BANG!
Out went the window, followed by three simultaneous shots. The scoreboard

I hope you found the above informative as best I know it-- and,
please excuse me in that after more than 50 years the Navy is still in me.
I submit that AMERICA is going to make a comeback, and more than likely
it'll be on the back of our cherished youth serving with honor in Our
military. So, let's
Look Up, Get Up-- and, Never Give Up!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Were the cartoon riots part of the Clash of Civilizations?

In his work, “The Clash of Civilizations,” Samuel Huntington argues that the “clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.” Huntington calls this clash the “latest phase in the evolution of conflict in the modern world,” contrasting the “clash of civilization” from Palmer’s “wars of kings,” “wars of people” and Huntington’s self-described “conflict of ideologies.” By “conflict of ideologies,” Huntington refers to the contest among “communism, fascist-Nazism and liberal democracy, and then between communism and liberal democracy.” (Huntington) He also goes on to note that with the defeat of the Axis and the fall of communism, the conflict of ideology ended and was replaced by the clash of civilizations. Huntington defines civilizations are the “the broadest level of identification with which [an individual] intensely identifies.” Different civilizations in contact lead to conflicts over territory and power. (Huntington)

In “Clash of Civilizations” Huntington identified seven or eight civilizations in friction around the world. These civilizations include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin America and African. Recent examples of friction across these borders include Janjaweed Islamic militias versus tranhumanance animists in Southern Sudan, Westernizing Russians versus Chechyan Muslims and Muslims in Southern Thailand versus Northern Confucian Thais. In addition, some observers see the recent contretemps over the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed published in Western newspapers as a manifestation of this clash.

The genesis of the “Cartoon Riots” occurred on 30 September 2005, when the Danish newspaper “Jyllands-Posten” published what came to be known as the Mohammed Cartoons. Starting on 4 February 2006, many Muslims around the world began to riot, often violently, citing the publication of cartoons as the reason. (BBC) Riots spread throughout the world and were especially intense in Pakistan. Even Western countries with a tradition of open press and free exchange of ideas saw large scale demonstrations by Muslim citizens. The pervasiveness of the protests alarmed many in the West. Aamer Ahmed Khan points out that the rioters targeted businesses and media outlets which often only had a symbolic relationship to the West in order to communicate their anger. “Western observers may be baffled at the images of Muslim rioters burning the properties of other Muslims in protest at sacrilege committed by Danes. But they may find the situation easier to understand if they give a thought to what might be the real target of the rioters.” (Khan)

For Westerners, the Mohammed cartoons seemed like a benign stimulus to trigger such destruction. Because it seems nonsensical for cartoons to cause riots, observers sought to discern what Khan called the “real target” for the rioters. In general terms, the real target of any riot are difficult to determine, but rioters generally have some goal in mind. “Crowds are affected by emotion and may sometimes get out of control, but that they are also fundamentally rational responses to specific political, social, religious, racial, and/or economic catalysts.” (Alvarez, 215) Given Alvarez’ categories of motivations, the “real targets” of the rioters can be identified.

For the many rioters in the winter of 2006, the proximate cause was the cartoon depictions of Mohammed, but those pictures provided a convenient excuse for those with a grievance to act. “But given the nature of the violence, few seem convinced the riots are either spontaneous or driven purely by public indignation at the satirical cartoons. For one, most of the public and private property attacked by the rioters cannot even remotely be linked to the cartoons.”(Khan) Even if the targets of the rioter’s destruction seem disassociated from their purported grievances, the rioters were nonetheless sending a message. The real target was to communicate to the West regarding Muslim dissatisfaction and grievances. Francis Fukuyama, commenting on the cartoon riots, warned that “we should be alarmed at the scope of the problem, but prudent in responding to it, since escalating cultural conflict throughout the Continent will bring us closer to a showdown between Islamists and secularists that will increasingly look like a clash of civilizations.” (Fukuyama)
While this episode of cartoon riots would seem to illustrate Huntington’s thesis, on closer examination, there is something missing. Huntington described a clash of civilizations, not petulant grousing about other civilizations. The rioters obviously felt real antipathy towards the West, but apparently not enough antipathy to actually cross the civilization frontier to confront the West. The most violent riots were confined within Muslim dominated countries with almost no Western presence. Muslims who protested within the West were angry, but not violent. The cartoon riots did not represent a contest for power or territory; instead, the riots were a way to vent anger using the cartoons as a pretext.

The riots highlight the relative disparity in power between the two civilizations. Since 1978, it seemed like Islam was advancing on the West and there was a true clash of civilizations beginning. Starting with the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran, the bombings in Lebanon, assassinations of American diplomats, the initial bombing of the World Trade Center, attacks on the American embassies in Africa and culminating with the attacks on 9/11, the Islamic civilization was bringing the fight all along its frontier with the West. Once the West began to retaliate, Islamic civilization’s gains were quickly rolled back. The Pan-Arabic governments in Iraq and Islamic government in Afghanistan were toppled with great rapidity and were replaced by pro-Western rulers. Israel smashed attacks on three frontiers. The Islamic Civilization is being rolled back and remade so that it will be less likely to cause friction on the frontiers.

The remaking of Islam is similar to the transformation of the Japanese Civilization, following World War II. Showa Japan prior to and during World War II developed the concept of “State Shinto,” and amalgam of governance and religion designed to solidify the bonds between the people and the state using the trappings of worship. “State Shinto helped to suffuse the national mind with notions of a noble past rich in great traditions, a superior racial stock destined to endure as an eternal national family, and a matchless state headed by an unbroken, inviolable, divinely descended imperial dynasty.” (Shunzo, 31) Substitute “State Shinto” for “Islam” and Osama bin Laden would agree with that statement.

The utter defeat of Japanese forces discredited the “State Shinto” ideology. This politico-religious ideology was supplanted when occupying Western forces imposed Western-style democracy on the Japanese. The Japanese people internalized pacifistic world-view and have been at peace with their neighbors since 1945. For a period, the Japanese civilization with its attendant political-religious ideology, seemed ascendant and unstoppable. Contemporary political observers predicted the likelihood of friction on the frontier of the Japanese civilization frontier with the West and with the Confucian world that would extend indefinitely into the future. However, the abject defeat of Japanese forces irreparably discredited the losing ideology. Now, the Japanese civilization is no longer a threat or source of friction on any frontier.

The German people experienced a similar arc, moving from a murderous, supremacist ideology to pacifism following a military defeat. The German example is illustrative but less relevant to this discussion since, in Huntington’s construct, the war against Germany occurred completely within the West. The conflict against of the West against Japan occurred across civilization frontiers.

The example of Japan’s transformation from ideological belligerent to ideological pacifist further obscures the clarity of Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis. As noted above, Huntington quickly glosses over the defeat of Japan by lumping it in with Germany as “fascism-Nazism” and as part of the “conflict of ideologies.” However, Huntington would have been well served to dwell on the similarities between Showa Japan’s vision of the “Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere” and radical Islam’s belief in a world-wide caliphate. The details of the ideologies are different, but the effect on those in the way is identical, death or enslavement.

Perhaps “the clash of civilizations” is not actually the latest phase of conflict, but is only a re-branding of the ongoing “conflict of ideologies.” The real lesson of the 20th century seems to be that civilizations endure but ideologies only last until they are defeated. Huntington himself hinted at this within the essay when he noted that the “central axis of world politics in the future is likely to be, in Kishore Mahbubani’s phrase, the conflict between the ‘West and the rest.’” (Huntington) The most startling part of Huntington’s observation is that he is silent about who is in the “West.” The reality is that once these countries that were formally ruled by murderous ideologues were defeated, those countries then became part of the “West.” Thus, we see countries like Germany, Japan, South Korea, India, Singapore, Taiwan and now Iraq, all joined as liberal democracies confronting illiberal ideologues. What characterizes the new “West’s” confrontation with the new “Rest” is not a clash of civilizations, but a clash of ideas about how people should be governed and allowed to live.

Sources Cited.

Alvarez, Alex and Ronet Bachman. 2007. Violence: The Enduring
Problem. (Thousand Oaks: SAGE).

BBC. 2006. “Muslim cartoon row timeline.” Middle East News, 19
February at
accessed 10 March 09.

Fukuyama, Francis. 2006. “Europe vs. Radical Islam.” Slate, 27
February at accessed 10
March 09.

Huntington, Samuel. 1993. “The Clash of Civilizations.” Foreign Affairs 72:3.

Khan, Aamer Ahmed. 2006. “Hidden motives behind cartoon riots,”
BBC South Asia Report. 15 February at accessed 11 March 09.

Shunzo, Sakamaki. 1968. “Shinto: Japanese Ethnocentrism” in
Charles Alexander Moore and Aldyth V. Morris. The Japanese
Mind. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press).

Clash of Civilizations, agaaaaaaaaaaaaaain

Samuel Huntington, in his work, “The Clash of Civilizations,” sees that the world is organized at the macro level in “civilizations” or the largest group to which a people will consider themselves as part of a “broader cultural entity.” (Huntington 1993) Huntington argues that the frontiers that exist between civilizations in the physical world as areas of friction that are likely to erupt into full scale conflict. He takes a realist’s view of the world and notes that there are places all over the world where groups from different civilizations are in conflict. Huntington extrapolates these examples into a thesis that predicts that in those areas where disparate civilizations exist across a frontier will feature conflict.

The thesis is less than satisfactory in describing the conflict between the Communism and democracy, and the current conflict between radical Islam and democracy. Communism does not seem to meet Huntington’s description of “civilization,” but for 45 years, the main area of friction in international relations was between communism and democratic countries. Forces were literally arrayed across from one another in Western Europe, the Florida Straits, the Korean DMZ, the Taiwan Straits, Vietnam and in Africa. Civilizations did not seem to matter in that conflict, but ideology certainly did. Likewise in the current conflict, ideology is the most important trait of those in conflict. Huntington, were he alive, would look at the current range of conflicts; 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, India, sub-Saharan Africa and seen Islam in conflict with the West, Hindus, Slavs and Africans. But that seems overly complicated. The current battles are between adherents of the most radical strains of Islam against anyone who believes anything else. Radical Islam is relentless, aggressive and willing to confront anyone. Although Kennan was writing about communism in his essay “Sources of Soviet Conduct,” his words are nonetheless prescient in the current conflict. “It cannot easily be defeated or discouraged by a single victory on the part of its opponents. And the patient persistence by which it is animated means that it can be countered not by sporadic acts which represent the momentary whims of democratic opinion, but only by intelligent long range policies on the part of [radical Islam’s] adversaries – policies no less variegated and resourceful in their application than those of [radical Islam] itself.” (Kennan 1947, 861) A virulent ideology, with a worldwide presence challenging any country or people who do not believe, this goes beyond civilization and goes to ideas. The real frontier in the world is not based on characteristics but on the ideas that the people hold. Where those ideas are in tension, so too will be people and countries.

Sources Cited

Cashman, Greg. 1993. What Causes War? Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Doughtery, James E. and Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr. 2001. Contending Theories of International Relations: A Comprehensive Survey. New York: Longman.

Huntington, Samuel. 1993. “The Clash of Civilizations.” Foreign Affairs 72:3.

Kennan, George. 1947. "Sources of Soviet Conduct." Foreign Affairs 26:2.

Little, Richard. 2007. The Balance of Power in International Relations: Metaphors, Myths and Models. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Morgenthau, Hans. 1978. Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, Fifth Edition, Revised. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1974. The modern World System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century. New York: Academic Press.

Waltz, Kenneth. 1992. “Realist Thought and Neorealist Theory” in Robert L. Rothstein and William T.R. Fox, The Evolution of Theory in International Relations. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

Prominent literature in international relations

The prominent literature in international relations since World War II includes the works of Hans Morgenthau, Kenneth Waltz and Immanuel Wallerstein. Hans Morgenthau is the primary proponent of the realist school of international relations that provides the underpinnings of traditional balance of power theory. Morgenthau’s seminal work is Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace which includes his Six Principles of Political Realism. These principles include: 1) Politics is governed by objective rules of human behavior. 2) Realism is concerned with power. 3) Relative power is defined contemporaneously, but the same metric does not necessarily apply across time. 4) Political choices have moral consequences, but those consequences are not the only determinant of action. 5) Moral choices of particular nations do not equal absolute morality. 6) Politics are supreme. (Morgenthau 1978, 14-44)

Kenneth Waltz, the pre-eminent neo-realist, differs from realist thinkers by arguing that where realists like Morgenthau are concerned with countries gathering power, neo-realists are more interested in how countries gather security. Waltz writes: “The idea that international politics can be thought of as a system with a precisely defined structure is neo-realism’s fundamental departure from traditional realism” (Waltz 1992, 30). The structure is the idea that all countries will search for security, using power as one of the tools to acquire security.

Immanuel Wallerstein also sees the world as a system, but instead of security, he sees the world organized as exploiters and exploited, of the hegemonic core and the periphery that is dominated. In the words of Wallerstein, “a world-system is a social system, one that has boundaries, structures, member groups, rules of legitimation, and coherence. Its life is made up of the conflicting forces which hold it together by tension and tear it apart as each group seeks eternally to remold it to its advantage” (Wallerstein 1974, 347). Each of these men has constructed a holistic theory of international relations, but like the blind man describing an elephant by feel, they seem only to be able to describe from a single point of view, in only one way.

Theory of conflict

The field of international relations boils down to the search for a unified theory that will explain all policies taken by actors in the international arena. The lesson materials describe the effort to find one explanation for all things in the international relations this way: “Everyone who studies international relations (IR) must confront the problem of trying to understand world society as a whole.” There are many approaches to “understanding world society as a whole,” a few of which were listed in the packet, to include empiricism, rationalism, realism, neo-realism, positivism and positivist-realist approach. (

Each of these schools of thought is an attempt to organize observations about international relations into a descriptive framework. These schools of thought rely on particular points of view or particular assumptions about human behavior in an attempt to set a behavioral baseline from which future moves can be predicted. Regardless of the school of thought, most theorists come back to the balance of power to organize their thinking. “Attempts to understand international relations in terms of the balance of power can be traced back for more than five hundred years and no other theoretical concept can boast this length of provenance. But not only is the balance of power one of the most enduring concepts in the field, it also persists, by some considerable distance, as the most widely cited theory in contemporary literature” (Little 2007, 3).

Balance of power theory posits that leaders will act in ways to maximize their own power in the international arena while attempting to minimize or ameliorate power of their international rivals. Balance of power theory provides a framework to review Quincy Wright’s categories of international relations: the actual, the possible the probable and the desirable (Doughtery and Pfaltzgraff 2001, 49). Thus, balance of power theory is all-purpose in that it is descriptive, predictive and provides courses of action for policy makers. The balance of power theory also can be overlaid on any of the major schools of thought and still be applied to all Wright’s categories, even if the results are what one analyst calls a “quagmire” of competing analyses (Cashman 1993, 232).

While balance of power is associated with the realist school of thought, the theory still has applicability to other major schools. Realists see leaders at actual people who will respond as anyone would, to maximize advantages and attempt to minimize disadvantages. Empiricists note that international conflict occurs between countries and blocs contesting for power and ends when one side wins or when both sides are exhausted. Rationalists argue that it makes sense to strive for power to protect gains and guard against lost. Neo-realists reject Western-centric analysis of international power contests to ensure that the culturally specific desires of leaders figure into the power calculus. Positivists see reality as a constraint on the actions of leaders while positivist-realists see leader’s perceptions of others as another factor that goes into balance of power considerations. Each school of thought focuses on that variable deemed most salient, but each school can still find value in the theoretical structure that balance of power offers.

Balance of power theory also is valuable because it allows the user to analyze the major aspects of international relations: conflict, war, mediation and diplomatic negotiations. In the balance of power construct, states will work to maximize their own power at the expense of others until the international system is in equilibrium. Weak states will attempt to use diplomacy and suasion while stronger states will be more prepared to act unilaterally to coerce smaller, weaker states. Various schools differ in the definition and determination of weakness, strength, coercion, suasion and equilibrium. All schools nonetheless strive to comport their observations within the theory.

India's National Objectives

Two of India’s national objectives will bring them into collision with two of the other great civilizations of the world, per Samuel Huntington’s construct expressed in “Clash of Civilizations.” India’s objective to be hegemon of South Asia will bring that nation into conflict with China, which has similar ambitions in the same location. India’s objective to accrete sufficient armed forces to improve its standing in the world will bring it into conflict with the Muslim powers on their frontier, namely Pakistan and Iran. Conflicts with either China or with a Muslim power would have a global impact as the countries of the world would be forced to take sides. Conflicts with both simultaneously would magnify the impact. Unfortunately, there may be no way to avert the rivalries, perhaps only ways to contain the damage.

The clashes between India and Pakistan and India and China have been fought at various levels of intensity for the last 70 years or so. However, since the clashes only involved armed, conventional conflict along isolated, largely unpopulated frontiers or in domestic terrorist attacts, the conflicts did not manifest into global crises. The situations along those frontiers have started to change in the recent past, changes that will result in the conflicts having a much wider impact on the world.

China and India both seek to be the pre-eminent power in South Asia. India’s claim on the region is based on geography and population while China’s claim is based on its requirements to keep the lines of commerce open through the Indian Ocean and Straits of Malacca. In India’s view, if it is going to be taken seriously as a great power, it must the country responsible for security in its region and the Indian Ocean, just as the US is responsible for the Western Hemisphere. Since the Straits are in the Indian Ocean, India must exert its will there, to be the protector of regional security and to be the regional hegemon. To do otherwise would be to forfeit its standing as a great power.

This objective will inevitably bring it into conflict with China. The Middle Kingdom sees the South China Sea as being its waters. Since the Straits connects these bodies of water, one or the other of these powers will eventually move to safeguard the Straits and thereby, gain de facto control of both the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Control of the Straits makes the holder the hegemon. In the last 50 years, the United States Navy has assumed this duty, partly because there was as power vacuum among the local countries. Yet, as India moves to realize its national objective as hegemon in South Asia conflict is likely with China. The best possibility to avoid this conflict would be for India to partner with the United States, Australia and Singapore as co-guarantors of the Straits, then transition to the senior guarantor as India’s relative power increases. To make a grab precipitously will make a shooting confrontation likely with China. That kind of confrontation would rile world economic markets worried about a disruption of a significant portion of world commerce that passes through South Asia. Such a disruption would create a seriously deleterious world impact.

As India moves to realize another of its objectives, to accrete sufficient armed forces to be a world power, this will mean having a more robust and survivable nuclear capability as well as more power projection. An increase in these capabilities would threaten the balance or power with Pakistan and also likely, with Iran. An arms race with either or both of these countries would have a negative impact on the world, for a number of reasons. Pakistan and India would feel compelled to match increased and more technologically advanced Indian weaponry with more and more advanced weapons of their own. It is not in the world’s interests for either Iran or Pakistan to pursue more advanced weaponry since Iran would surely use the weapons once acquired and Pakistan’s government would likely crash under the economic burden of sustaining an arms race. Pakistan’s weapons could then well fall into the hands of terrorist entities. Neither of these outcomes would be good for India’s foreign policy either. India is beset with the blight of domestic terrorism that to date has not had much international impact. However, that situation would suddenly change if the terrorists attacking Indian targets were armed with weapons of mass destruction built by Pakistan or Iran because of an arms race with India.

On the other hand, since the Indian economy and industrial capacity dwarfs that of both Pakistan and Iran, there is a chance that igniting an arms race might crush the economies and topple both governments. Since regime change is certainly welcome in Iran, the resulting governments that arise might be less threatening to India and to the world. If the successor governments are somehow worse, then India, by realizing its objective of accreting more power, will be in a better position to defend itself in a more dangerous world that India itself had wrought.

As India moves to realize its national objectives, the diplomacy will become more challenging as regional rivals react and respond to a more assertive foreign policy on the sub-continent.

Chinese Diplomacy Going Forward

Chinese diplomacy is likely to evolve in the future in the following ways: 1) China’s increasing political and economic confidence will encourage policy makers to engage more proactively and positively with their bi-lateral partners. Secondly, 2) China will view its relationship with the US with more complexity. Rather than just see the US as an enemy, China will look for ways to partner with the US when such an approach will advance Chinese interests.

Regarding the first point, China had traditionally stayed aloof from international relations. In the words of the Rand study, “Chinese conventional wisdom on foreign affairs of not taking risks and not taking the lead” was the overriding philosophy. (37) The Chinese regarded every nation on their borders as a threat, and the fact that they had border disputes over the years with all of these countries, points to that mind set. However, as China’s economy has improved and its diplomats have become more sure of Chinese economic power, there has been less temptation to see every country as a military threat that must be countered. Instead, China has been more willing to work with other countries, confident that the Chinese economy made the country unassailable.

An example of this change in diplomatic mindset going forward can be found in China’s relations vis a vis Taiwan. Since Chaing brought the Nationalists to Taiwan, Communist China has stridently sought to bring the “Splittists” back into
“One China.” For years, China shelled the small garrison island outposts near the mainland, and actively worked to isolate Taiwan. Often China strong-armed smaller countries with bellicose threats into breaking diplomatic relations with the Island. This policy by and large worked, but caused China to be viewed as a bully eager to beat up on a much smaller, democratic neighbor. China was able to technically isolate Taiwan from membership in some large international bodies, but ultimately could not keep Taiwan out of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade, and even had to accept simultaneous entry with Taiwan, as the rest of the world recognized Taiwan’s economic clout.

China was also forced to accept a humiliating stand-down in the light of belligerent rhetoric directed to Taiwan during President Clinton’s tenure. China considered every utterance of Taiwan’s President Lee to be a cause for military action. In 1996, China put their missiles, arrayed across the Taiwan Strait, on high alert in an attempt to intimidate Taiwan. Instead, even a United States President as well disposed towards China as Bill Clinton was forced to respond to such heavy-handed intimidation by sending a couple of US aircraft carrier task forces to the waters off Taiwan.

China learned from both these incidents that it is easier to attract flies with honey than with vinegar. China has become much less overtly threatening and is finding that other countries are willing to move towards them in recognition of the enormous economic power that China represents. China has essentially become the world’s manufacturer. Other countries have become increasingly reliant on low cost Chinese goods to prop up domestic economies. These other, economically dependent countries are loath to do anything to irritate China, even if some of their domestic political constituencies are dissatisfied with Chinese policies. A smiling China makes it much harder to drum up boycotts and calls for disengagement than if China is rattling sabers on every frontier. The recent success of the summer Olympic games illustrates this point. China’s essential nature as a police state was well in evidence with an overweening police presence and official restrictions on internet access. Yet the spectacle of a well run, lavish Olympics made for smiling tourists and enhanced Chinese power in the world.

Chinese relations with Taiwan have changed as well. Some of the change is in the fact that Taiwan has a much more pro-China government now than in the last decade or so. However, a large part of the change is the fact that China realizes that if they are a hospitable location in which to do business, pragmatic Taiwanese businessmen will look to work with China, and thereby, more closely intertwine the two economies. To the extent that these relations become seamless and pervasive, the less compelling the argument that China and Taiwan must remain separate. At some point, Taiwanese domestic opinion may well come around to the view that they really are part of China, so they might as well make the relationship formal. China will have effected the dream of Mao in bringing back the “Splittists,” without a shot needing to be fired. And this will all be done because of Chinese diplomats’ confidence in the inherent power of China, power that need never be overtly wielded but is nonetheless felt.

Secondly, China will begin to see the US not just as a competitor, but also as a partner in some respects. China will continue to build its military to counter what it sees as a large US lead in military strength. This is a prudent course given size of the Chinese economy. China may feel an increasing confidence in foreign affairs as noted above, but when encountering big powers, economics alone are not sufficient. Yet that being said, China need not see every encounter with the US as a rivalry. There are locations and arenas where China can gain much by partnering with the US. As these opportunities present themselves, Chinese diplomats would do will to recognize them. The US behavior of late has shown that if China is not outwardly aggressive, the US is not particularly interested in confrontation. That trend will become more apparent with a change in US leadership. Chinese diplomacy should capitalize on this opportunity to partner with the US in the Middle East and Africa.

China has been content for the US to tangle with radical Muslim terrorists since the perception has been that as long as the US is distracted by the fights in Afghanistan and Iraq and with homeland security concerns, there was less time to focus on differences with China. However, China has its own domestic Muslim terrorists to deal with in the far West. A more confident China could see that dealing with the problem of Muslim radicalism is not just one in which the US is a target, but one in which China could be a target as well. China will find that it is better to work with the US to confront the enemy of its domestic enemies while their domestic enemy is yet weak, rather than to let it grow and link up with the same radicals fighting the US.

China is also becoming involved with many countries in Africa, in the search for additional economic resources. These same countries are beset by radicalism, poor governance, frightening poverty and disease. All these pathologies have a chance to spread unless those countries with an interest in stopping the spread, work in concert. China has been hands off Africa, content to exploit resources and stay out of domestic problems. However, as China grows in self assurance, it will find that it can work with the US in areas of Africa and on causes that strengthen the foreign policy of both countries with out fear that one country will gain advantage over the other.

China’s increasing confidence born of economic power and from the lessons learned in the recent past will make it more proactive in the diplomatic sphere and more likely to partner with the US, going forward.

Advice to the State Department

My advice: encourage Israel to destroy the Hezbollah’s military capability. “Victory comes when the enemy's will to fight is broken by a specific defeat.”1 A decisive defeat of Hezbollah would be in the best interests of the US. Secondly, the US must not over-react to provocation, since Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have a disproportionately large youth cohort out of which terrorists spring. If the US can be patient, the radicals in this “youth bulge” will be killed or be too old for problem-causing. “[The Islamic youth bulge will] lose explosive power due to a general decline in the birthrate. “2

Israel can destroy enough of Hezbollah’s military capability, and cause enough suffering to civilians, to affect the resistance. Civilian casualties breed resistance to a point, but once the point has been crossed, civilians want peace more than anything else. Germany never destroyed England’s will during the battle of Britain; the US certainly destroyed Japan’s after the Nagasaki bombing. Enough suffering causes resistance to give way accommodation. In the current Gaza fight against Hamas, anger is directed toward Hamas for what they have wrought ; Hezbollah has denied they shot missiles into Israel, lest the “crazy” Israelis turn attention towards them.3

I wonder if there is anything that the US can do to "convince Riyadh to finally step up" in the context of asserting influence over Iran Syria and Hezbollah and why? Is Saudi Arabia the right choice for this role given the antipathy Iran has for Arab States? Might not Turkey, a non-Arab state that borders both Iran and Syria be a better choice?

The recent conflict in Gaza shows the value of the outstanding intelligence that Israel has gathered about the leaders of the movement. Israel has targeted the leadership cells, the rocket caches and the Iranian-trained “elite” units. Amassing voluminous, detailed intelligence and using it to kill the leadership, to diminish the terror rocket capability and to destroy Iranians and those they train seems like a pretty good op plan for going after Hezbollah.


1. Angelo Codevilla and Paul Seabury. War: Ends and Means. (Washington: Potomac Books, 2005), 94.

2. Gunnar Heinsohn. Population, Conquest and Terror in the 21st Century (Bremen: Universit├Ąt Bremen, 2005), 10.

3. Dan Diker, “A Deterrent Restored?,” Powerlineblog, entry posted 9 January 2009, accessed 18 January 2009.