CHINA CLAMPS DOWN
In response to the recent protests, China is sealing off Tibet and expelling the foreign media. One wonders, however, whether China will go all the way and implement the "Hama model" and/or the Burmese approach I blogged about some months ago. See Strategist for a sophisticated discussion of China’s mounting strategic difficulties in Tibet.
Serbian demonstrators are continuing to ramp up violence in northern Kosovo. Since the breakaway province declared independence last month, Serbs within a sliver of northern Kosovo have been a disruptive force, rioting and attacking multi-national forces and members of the ethnic Albanian majority. Serbian police officers and civil servants have also refused to recognize both Kosovo’s government and the authority of the UN/NATO forces. Some believe that the northern Serbs will try to secede and join up with Serbia proper.
In the short term? Perhaps not. But the long-term prospects for Kosovo aren’t good–they have fallen short of their goal of being recognized by 100 countries, Serbia refuses to accept their independence and could be involved in fomenting the northern unrest, and the UN/NATO troops may balk at the prospect of putting down a nationalist Serb revolt. Unless Kosovo can convince the northern Serbs to remain part of Kosovo or do something to dial down nationalist fervor, this scenario will become increasingly more likely.
KENYA POLL VIOLENCE WAS PLANNED
Little surprise here–the violence against the majority tribe was planned, says Human Rights Watch.
Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s patronization of a high-class prostitute, at first glance, does not have much relevance to irregular warfare. When the scandal first broke, I traded jokes with a friend about Spitzer "supporting the arts" through his transactions with Ashley Dupre, who recorded Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera imitation music when she was not servicing rich and powerful men. In Los Angeles and New York, there are many people whose careers are delineated with a "slash"–actor/waiter, musician/tennis instructor, writer/tutor, but musician/prostitute is certainly uncommon!
However, as Spin Hunters details in this excellent post, there are many propaganda aspects to the scandal that suggests, at a minimum, that it may not have completely developed organically.
Interesting site focused purely on prison tactical units and security. Lots of information and news related to both domestic and international prison security.
Prisons are a unique and bizarre category of operational space. They mirror aspects of the "real" world—prisons have their own economy (outside contraband and commissary provisions), complicated set of dueling ethnic/religious/criminal factions (see Bill Valentine’s Gang Intelligence Manual for more information), and offer both legal and illegal means of social advancement (working hard for early release or selling drugs). Yet no one loses sight of the fact that prisons are claustrophobic, completely regimented, and authoritarian societies constructed for the sole purpose of isolating criminals from the outside world and punishing them for their misdeeds.
Soob has a great new post detailing the devolution of the Kenyan conflict into tribal warfare, complete with bows and arrows. John Robb has also posted. There are very scary parallels to Rwanda, and one hopes that something can be done to stabilize the situation. That being said, Kenya’s troubles do not amount purely to tribal competition. Economic discrimination and class resentment also motivates a great deal of the violence directed against the majority tribe. None of this is also exclusive to Third World or developing nations.
Much material has been written about cultural factors that have challenged the Army’s new focus on counterinsurgency, the most prominent of which is Air War College professor Jeffrey Record’s "Cultural Barriers to Successful Counterinsurgency" monograph for the Cato Institute. Rare, however, is the "COIN culture" study with true anthropological heft. Thankfully, the gap has been filled by Robert M. Cassidy’s Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror: Military Culture and Irregular War.
I recognize this is extremely late, but I’d like to recognize Lurch of Main and Central. He passed away close to a month ago. Not knowing him very well, I hesitated to put anything up until now, for fear it would sound cheap or cloying.
Lurch was the most prolific poster in the group milblog Main and Central. A no-nonsense Vietnam veteran, he provided old-school grounding to the rather space-age talk of 4GW, 5GW, and netwar. Lurch’s experiences and passionate sense of justice informed his often acerbic criticism of government policy and Pentagon corruption. Lurch’s ribald sense of humor was always present in his posts, making light of the military-political cockups he so energetically denounced. I’ve had the good fortune to meet many fellow defense and foreign affairs bloggers in person, but I regret that I’ll never have the opportunity to do so with Lurch.
I don’t have any doubt that Lurch is in a better place–if they didn’t let him into heaven, he probably would have put the pearly gates/Valhalla/Mt. Olympus under a sustained artillery barrage until they let him in. I wish him the best of luck, wherever he is.
Main and Central has a more comprehensive overview of Lurch’s life, both analog and digital, in this post.