Saturday, 24 September 2011

David Kilcullen and Julian Burnside on Tactics in the Iraq War

Here, in a brilliant discussion with human rights lawyer Julian Burnside at the Melbourne Writers Festival, [Kilcullen] talks about the ethics and tactics of contemporary warfare.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Interview: CIMIC and Reconstruction with J Messner, IPOA

CIMIC and Reconstruction with J.J. Messner, IPOA with Defence IQ3: interview with Messner of the ISOA (formerly IPOA), a 'mercenary' peak body.

Nagl Interview

Nagl in an On Point interview:

Two pillars of FM 3-24:

1. Protect the population first
2. Be adaptable

and also:

3. Use all elements of national power in a co-ordinated way. Galula said COIN is only 25% military.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Pirates Affecting Business in Puntland

The Somalia Report reports that Puntland businessmen have confirmed that pirate activity has been detrimental to the economy.

They say their goods have been hijacked by the pirates and that shipping prices have increased.

They have demanded the government take action.

Do Armed Guards Protect Ships?

Feral Jundi says:

You know, I agree that eventually a boat with an armed crew will get taken one of these days. But even if one or two are taken, how would that possibly indicate any kind of potential failure? I mean look at the statistics so far?

According to the figures from EUNAVFOR, 90% of ships surviving a pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden this year have credited a security team for aiding their escape.

Feral Jundi then comes out swinging in favour of contractors in general. Interesting.

Why Pirates Fight Each Other

What a splendid idea: get the pirates to fight each other!

I didn't realise pirate groups had 'investors' - apparently 2 or more each.

Pirates tend to come from rival clans.

They fight when drunk and are interested in drugs.

They also fight when payments are delayed - hint, hint - or when there is a difference between 'investors'.

Nice work by the Somalia Report.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Anti-piracy yacht

Just what the doctor ordered: a former coastguard ship converted into a dive ship and now for sale. Recommended for anti-piracy use.

H/t Danger Room.

Immortal Insurgencies

by Anthony Vinci


This article makes the case that knowing how insurgencies last so long can help to understand why they last so long. Moreover, it argues that only by answering the ‘how’ question that we can develop better means of defeating the insurgent temporal attrition strategy. Insurgencies can seem immortal because they develop adaptive, self-perpetuating solutions to the ‘problems of mobilization’, which are a set of actions that every armed group must be able to perform in order to mobilize for war. When insurgencies have developed such adaptive solutions they can be very difficult to defeat because the group may adapt to any immediate destruction of one of its functions. The means to defeat insurgencies lies in considering the second order consequences of how one action may lead the group to adapt. Then the strategy demands choosing those actions that will leave the group weaker in the long run.

R2P is the New COIN

Introduction by Zenpundit to "the Kilcullen of R2P", Anne-Marie Slaughter, and a list of prominent COINdinistas.

...The most vocal public face of R2P, an idea that has floated among liberal internationalist IL academics and NGO activists since the 90’s, was Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Policy Planning Director of the US State Department and an advisor to the Obama administration. Slaughter, writing in The Atlantic, was a passionate advocate of R2P as a “redefinition of sovereignty“ and debated her position and underlying IR theory assumptions with critics such as Dan Drezner, Joshua Foust, and Dan Trombly.


...A bevy of military officers, academics, think tank intellectuals, journalists and bloggers - some of them genuinely brilliant - including John Nagl, Kalev Sepp, Con Crane, Jack Keane, David Petraeus, Michèle Flournoy, David Kilcullen, Fred and Kim Kagan, James Mattis, Montgomery McFate, Thomas Ricks, Andrew Exum, the Small Wars Journal and others articulated, proselytized, reported, blogged and institutionalized a version of counterinsurgency warfare now known as “Pop-centric COIN“, selling it to a very reluctant Bush administration, the US Army and USMC, moderate Congressional Democrats and ultimately to President Barack Obama.


How to build an institution or change a policy

Blattman does it again.

Academics who study development are very fond of saying that institutions matter, or this or that policy change should happen.

Most of us, of course, don’t have a clue what an actual institution looks like, or how it is built, or even how a policy is actually changed.


My answer was: Jennifer Widner. Princeton political science. And last week I got a promotional email for her new idea bank, Innovations for Successful Societies:


Most people, if they know Jennifer’s work, know her biography of Francis Nyalali, an uncommonly interesting Supreme Court judge in Tanzania.


We are back to development as the Anti-Politics Machine (which is another favorite book of mine).

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Fragile states: measuring what makes a good pooled fund

Tinpot countries play donors off against each other.

The practice of pooling funds from multiple donors into a single instrument is becoming an increasingly popular method of delivering aid to fragile states.

This Project Briefing introduces a potential tool for scoring the effectiveness of individual pooled funds, allowing for their systematic comparison. The briefing goes on to score and compare funds in Afghanistan, Liberia and South Sudan, demonstrating how the tool can be used to identify good practice.

Vanuatu’s recent economic success: lessons

Vanuatu’s recent economic success: lessons for the Pacific
August 4th, 2009
Author: Stephen Howes

Prior to 2004, Vanuatu, like many other Pacific island countries, had a long-term rate of economic growth little different from its population growth, about 2.5%. But economic growth in Vanuatu took off in 2004, and growth for the 2004-2008 period has averaged 6.6%.

Vanuatu’s growth acceleration is important for the Pacific. It dispels the myth that the Pacific island economies cannot grow, and it confirms the range of factors which are important for growth in the Pacific – a dynamic private sector, active land markets, deregulation, and macroeconomic and social stability.

Vanuatu’s recent growth has been led by the private sector, not by foreign aid.

Tourism and construction have been the two main growth areas for Vanuatu’s private sector.

Vanuatu’s upsurge in tourism and construction would not have been possible without an active land market.

Vanuatu has also benefited from deregulation.

Vanuatu has enjoyed macroeconomic stability in recent years, with relatively low inflation and a slight fiscal surplus in recent years. As many Pacific economies have discovered, however, this is a necessary rather than sufficient condition for growth.

Finally, social stability underlies Vanuatu’s recent success.... Throughout this difficult period, violence was limited. Vanuatu has a tradition of political instability – with nine prime ministers between 1995 and 2004. Perhaps the relative political stability enjoyed since then – with a single prime minister from end-2004 to end-2008 – has helped promote growth.

Social stability is a key factor behind Vanuatu’s ability to attract and retain expatriates, who bring investment and specialist skills to the economy. Its lack of an income tax is also an attraction for expatriates, though its role as an offshore financial centre seems to have played little role in its recent growth.

Vanuatu, like other Melanesian countries, has traditionally lacked access to foreign labour markets. However, Vanuatu was included in, and in fact is the biggest beneficiary of the Recognized Seasonal Employer program which provides temporary farm employment in New Zealand.

This article draws on the findings of a Pacific Institute of Public Policy brief on Vanuatu written jointly with Nikunj Soni, which can be found here.

Want to make aid more effective? Bring in the private sector

More on this excellent idea from the Guardian's Poverty Matters Blog.

Exhibit 1: The Marshall Plan.

Why are we buying t-shirts from China instead of from our proteges in tough places?

Also, follow the Centrelink model and have a centrally coordinating government agency farming out jobs

Evidentiary Validation of FM 3-24

Evidentiary Validation of FM 3-24: Counterinsurgency Worldwide, 1978-2008
By Christopher Paul and Colin P. Clarke

Victory Has a Thousand Fathers


Victory Has a Thousand Fathers: Sources of Success in Counterinsurgency
by Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Beth Grill