The problem with the Jasmine Revolution template is that it essentially says all Arabs are alike, all Arab nations are alike, all Arab revolutions are alike.
Tunisia essentially saw the apparat of the regime turn on the ruling family and their core of hard boys. The rulers fled. A few thousand hard boys relocated to Libya or Algeria. The core of the old regime is now negotiating with the other elements of civil society — unions, banned political parties, Islamists — on what comes next.
A supposed “Bilderberg insider” is claiming that Henry Kissinger has on several occasions in the past month called for a baffling year-long ground invasion of Libya by the US military. (Bellum won’t link to it, but it’s all over Google.) This is inconsistent with his past on-the-record statements and there is no evidence whatsoever that this report is accurate. In fact, there are reasons to think that it is not. The report claims Kissinger gave “almost the exact same speech” at three recent events:
Libyan rebels will soon be bolstered by the efforts of some 30 to 40 military advisors from Britain, France, and Italy. Critics argue that such a small force can hardly turn the tide of a conflict that seems to be running against the NATO-backed rebels, but in the past such advisory missions have often served as significant force multipliers.
The Turkey-based American journalist Claire Berlinski criticized the terms of the British deployment, which forbid the advisors from training the rebels in the use of weapons and combat tactics. She writes: “They are being sent, apparently, in a ‘mentoring’ role. So they’re going to chair a round-table, maybe?”
Dr. Ashton Carter, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, addressed the Heritage Foundation today on the subject of budget cuts and efficiency initiatives. He argued that far more than simple cuts to acquisition programs would be required.
Two things are “absolutely clear to those of us charged with managing the defense enterprise,” said Carter. The first is that the era of “ever-increasing budgets” are gone and that the environment will “feel very different” to those who have “grown accustomed to a circumstance where they can always reach for more money.” The second is that the government and the taxpayer will both demand “better value for the defense dollar.”
Joining us today is Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Dean Emeritus of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a familiar name to many of our readers. He is the author of the new book, The Future of Power.
1. The latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine features a survey of international security experts, including you, that seemed to paint a picture of a fundamentally benign geopolitical environment, at least for the US — war between the US and China is unlikely, a nuclear-armed Iran is not an “intolerable threat,” and the likeliest of wars may not even involve the US. What, then, are West Point cadets signing up for today — careers in humanitarian response, disaster relief, and international development (John Mueller at Ohio State suggests war will “cease to exist”), or is traditional warfare still a realistic possibility?
Alas, war will persist, for a variety of reasons, but it is not the only function of military power as I explain my my new book, The Future of Power. Deterrence, protection and assistance will be important military roles along with fighting. West Point will need to train for a variety of tasks. And the security environment may not be so benign when one includes non-state actors who will be empowered by information technology — witness cyber attacks where attribution and deterrence are difficult.
Speaking at Yale University last week, Richard Perle criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the unrest in the Middle East, suggesting more military force should have been used much sooner. This is interesting because in the run-up to the war in Iraq, Perle recommended a plan for toppling Saddam Hussein that bears a certain resemblance to the civil war that has unfolded against Qaddafi’s regime.
The lack of massive demonstrations in Saudi Arabia on the scale of those elsewhere in the region (Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, etc.) has garnered much attention from commentators, as did the deployment of Saudi security forces to help put down unrest in Bahrain. Pakistan has also played something of a quiet role over the past several weeks. Islamabad has enhanced bilateral defense ties with Manama and strongly backed the kingdom’s crackdown. This is not altogether surprising: Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni royal family and Pakistan is a Sunni-majority country; further, some 50,000 Pakistanis currently live in Bahrain. Those of our readers who have traveled to the region are aware, of course, that Pakistanis frequently “do the jobs Arabs don’t want to do.” Now there are indications that Pakistan may be ready to contribute some military power to prop up the unstable Sunni royal families.