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Archive for September, 2005

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005


Curzon of Coming Anarchy had a post on Nepal’s Maoist rebels’ practice of kidnapping, indoctrinating and forcing Nepalese students to perform slave labor. A post that attracted the unhappy attention of a Maoist sympathizer who tried to whitewash rebel conduct.

The Maoist rebellion in Nepal began in 1996 when the Communist Party began an armed struggle to overthrow the then Constitutional monarchy whose democratically elected government was dominated by other leftist parties who waged, at best, a lukewarm fight against the Maoists who now control 70-80 % of Nepal. The conflict gained international notoriety when King Gyanendra attempted a Fujimori-style ” autogolpe”; most likely for the same reasons that Alberto Fujimori once did in Peru during the war with the Maoist Shining Path – a suspicion that democratic Leftists in the government were covertly aiding and or obstructing the fight against the Communist insurgency.

The King, despite unconstrained brutality, has poven to be a much less effective counterinsurgency autocrat than Fujimori who quickly broke the back of the Shining Path and captured its secretive leader, Professor Abimael Guzman. Ironically, Communist China has stepped in to help the floundering King crush the Maoist rebels and win Nepal away from India’s sphere of influence. A brief from PINR explains:

“The crisis precipitated by Gyanendra’s February seizure of absolute power threw the parliamentary parties into the position of either attempting to mount resistance in order to recoup their losses or accepting defeat. Particularly after the king revoked the state of emergency in April, they chose the former, pursuing a three-pronged campaign to delegitimize his rule and render him unable to govern. Forming the same kind of coalition that had forced the institution of a parliamentary system in 1989, they subsumed their rivalries under a common program of restoring democracy.

As Gyanendra remained unyielding, the parliamentary parties radicalized their positions. The crisis ratcheted up to a higher level, when, in late August, the Nepali Congress Party (N.C.P.) — the largest parliamentary grouping, which has close ties to New Delhi — announced that it had decided to delete the goal of achieving a constitutional monarchy from its constitution. The Communist Party of Nepal (U.M.L.), the second biggest grouping, had already abandoned constitutional monarchy for a “democratic republic.”

In response to the parliamentary parties’ break with the monarchy, the Maoist insurgency announced a three-month cease fire and has begun releasing some of its R.N.A. prisoners, although Nepalese media report that it continues to carry out abductions of school teachers and students for “re-education.” Registering a shift in the balance of power, the seven-party parliamentary coalition announced on September 16 that it would form a team to negotiate independently with the Maoists. The coalition made it clear that talks were premised on the insurgency ending violence against civilians and that the Maoists would not be permitted to join the coalition unless they laid down their arms.”

If the parliamentary parties assume they can control the Maoists in a coalition for a democratic revolution then they are blindly treading the same path as Alexander Kerenskii, and all the democrats or liberals in places like Laos, Cambodia, South Vietnam, Nicaragua, who saw in Communist radicals a tiger they could ride to power and then tame like a pet.

They will not get more democracy from these rebels than they will from the King. The tiger will devour them.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005


Pardon the radio silence today – I’m working on a couple of writing projects right now, including my formal review of Blueprint for Action. I’ll be posting a few intriguing items later tonight.

Monday, September 26th, 2005


Simon, who linked here today, pointed his readers to a superb article on cognitive methodology for intelligence analysis . In this instance, the subject at hand is the debate about China but the author’s point about nonlinear behavior has general validity.

Monday, September 26th, 2005


This PDF file should be of particular interest to Simon and Eddie.

Analysts from RAND Corporation outlined information distilled from Chinese doctrinal writings on asymmetric warfare in Congressional testimony, suggesting that the PLA leadership envisions a war with Taiwan being ” winnable” and “containable”. The guiding strategic principles are:

  • Preemption by surprise attack
  • Targeting U.S. defense systemic choke points
  • Use of overwhelming force on a few ” key points strikes”
  • Avoid contestng U.S. military forces across the board
  • Avoid threatening any other vital U.S. interest

The objective is to fight a brief, lightning-fast, local limited war which China presumes America will subsequently decline to escalate further. Amusingly, since these doctrinal writings suggest hitting PACOM assets even before striking Taiwan itself to achieve this political effect, RAND’s analyst notes:

” It does not need to be pointed out to this panel that the last time such a strategy was attempted in the Pacific the ultimate results were not altogether favorable to the country that tried it “

But he also noted the obvious historical example had been left out of these doctrinal writings. From my perspective, this analysis tells us several things about Chinese strategic thinking:

First that Chinese generals like generals the world over tend to like plans better if they ignore inconvenient realities – like China’s dearth of airlift and sealift capabilities to carry out a more difficult cross-channel invasion than D-Day. Or the reaction of the American public to a sneak attack on the U.S. Navy. Or Taiwan’s ability to repel an invasion. Or…or….or….

Secondly, the generals are politically obligated by the CCP leadership to come up with something that has a hope of achieving reunification of Taiwan on Chinese terms. Considering this whole strategy is premised on ” We can’t win a major with the United States but here’s how we’ll risk one anyway” the overriding importance to China’s rulers of preventing formal Taiwanese independence should be obvious. It’s not just a vital interest but the paramount one.

Third, the Chinese are not stupid. If we ( from their viewpoint) permit Taiwan to back Beijing into a corner they will strike first and most likely it is going to hurt. They are well aware of our systemic weaknesses and the tendency we have to neglect the unglamorous basics or build sufficient redundancy into our critical systems to weather a crisis. Moreover, they aren’t the only people who’ve noticed.

The first strategic reality that needs to be understood is that the entire globe is an asymmetric position relative to the United States and that other nations will act accordingly. This is why we need an ” Asian NATO” – there are too many potential conflicts in Asia between great regional powers where the United States cannot help but be dragged in if war breaks out. We need to cool these incipient rivalries down before they acquire irreversible momentum.


Eddie too has been mulling over China.

Saturday, September 24th, 2005


Myke Cole was kind enough to draw my attention to several journals which I think will be of great interest to my readers, scholars, members of the Armed Services and a number of my fellow bloggers. I have already added them into my regular reading list alongside Parameters, Studies in Intelligence, Foreign Policy and similar periodicals and you should too:

Small Wars Journal (PDF)

I recommend ” Reinventing the Counterinsurgency Wheel” by Major Adam Strickland, USMC). Small Wars also has its own blog.

On Point

Which carries articles by such well known national security authors as Dr. Chet Richards and Michael ” Anonymous” Scheuer.

Myke’s writing can/will be found in both journals as well as at the highly regarded Defense & the National Interest site.

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