Category Archives: Democracy

Pakistan, Elections, Jihadists and Musharraf

Congratulations to Pakistan for carrying out a predominantly fair election and not falling prey to the temptation to let loose the dogs of political Jihad again!

Musharraf’s political party, the PML-Q (Pakistan Muslim League “Q”) lost seats, with the head of the party losing his seat in Pakistan’s Parliament, and the hardline Islamist/Jihadist MMA (Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal) lost 91% of its seats (plummeting from 59 to 5). The totality of the MMA’s rout, even in the jihadist infested North West Frontier Province, was unexpected, and signals a turn away from Islamist politics toward a more local politics of potholes, post offices, and government jobs. Jihadist excesses and proliferation around the Lal Masjid and by al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the NWFP, the MMA association with Musharraf, and factional splintering that led to a voting boycott by Jamaat i-Islami, all bear some responsibility. [Telegraph India]

The MMA lost command of the NWFP, which it had controlled, to the liberal-secular Awami National Party (ANP) and the (Bhutto Family’s) Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). In the NWFP provincial assembly, Islamist and Jihadist parties won 67 seats out of 96 in 2002, and in 2008 they won 9. It will be interesting to see how Mehsud’s jihadists, who have showed no respect so far for Pakistan’s civil law, or its army for that matter, react to attempts by the ANP and PPP to reign them in.

To provide an anecdotal yet amusing answer to the question of whose election day went worse, the Islamists/Jihadists or the PML-Q, Mohammad Ahmad Ludhianvi, the head of the banned Jihadist group the Sipah-e-Sahaba, was defeated in Punjab by Sheik Waqas of the PML-Q. Clear loser: Islamist Jihadist vampires.

The Bhutto family’s Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League “N” (PML-N) were expected to do well. Both performed to expectations. [CTV]

No single party has a clear majority. It will be a coalition government.

The Dawn shows the Election results as follows:

Party position National Assembly & provincial assemblies























































1. Provincial Assembly Punjab
2. Provincial Assembly Sindh
3. Provincial Assembly NWFP
4. Provincial Assembly Balochistan

There were 24 election-related deaths in Pakistan, mostly in the Punjab. Turnout was 35-40% of the 81 million eligible voters [Times of India]

The election was monitored and approved for fairness by international observers, though there were concerns about the threat of violent attacks suppressing turnout. Apparently the Pakistanis, being used to representative government, are not as brave about exercising their hard-won franchise as the Iraqis. [CTV]

In the aftermath of the elections, Musharraf and his allies made clear what has always been clear except to the confused media, who continually thought that the Parliamentary elections, ultimately determining the Prime Minister of Pakistan, would automatically expel Musharraf from his position as President. For example, the Daily Express gets it wrong.

PRESIDENT Pervez Musharraf conceded defeat in the early stages of Pakistan’s parliamentary elections today. […]

Musharraf faces stiff competition from the two main opposition parties; the PPP led by the son of assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto and the PML-N led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Both parties already have a clear majority in the presidential race.

Not presidential, Express. It’s the parliamentary race. Mushy is the President. Big difference. He can’t be defeated because his seat was not up for elections. He might be impeached, but that is a different story.

The ANI reports correctly.

“They are way off in their demands,” presidential spokesman Major General Rashid Qureshi told reporters.

“This is not the election for President. Musharraf is already elected for five years,” he added.

In the meantime, the PML-Q is furiously distancing itself from Musharraf. [ANI]

Responding to the recent rise in Jihad terrorism in the NWFP, in the past month 10,000 Pakistanis have reversed the recent refugee pattern and fled to Afghanistan for safety. And this is the harshest month of the winter. Imagine how they will run from those blood-sucking Jihadist vampires when the weather gets nicer.

Finally, the retired Pakistani Air Marshall Masood Akhtar has requested American assistance with more modern COIN weapons to counter the al-Qaeda and Taliban’s insurgency against the Pakistani government. [The News of Pakistan]


Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, third world county, The Random Yak, Right Truth, Blue Star Chronicles, The Pink Flamingo, Dumb Ox Daily News, Adeline and Hazel, Right Voices, and Pursuing Holiness, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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Busting the Iraqi Monopolies … of Violence

Inspired by a comment at Belmont Club.

The Concerned Local Citizen (CLC) program in Iraq:

CLC is the over-arching name of the country-wide program of empowering local citizens to defend and engage al-Qaeda and others fighting against the state (i.e. insurgents). They are a local militia, in the spirit of pre-US Civil War militias, often paid by MNF-I. (link)

At ground level the CLC program consists of logistical, supply and training support offered by MNF-I to local militia forces in places that are not well-served by the Iraqi National Police or the Iraqi Army. The Anbar Awakening was a CLC operation. So too with the other Awakenings in Diyala, Salahadin, Adhamiya and elsewhere. The success of CLC operations, after more than a year of hard development work, has been spectacular, with the damage to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations being great enough that violence in October has fallen to levels not seen in Iraq since 2004.

There are complaints that MNF-I, by arming and training the primarily Sunni Awakening Councils against Al Qaeda, has created a spearhead that might form a Sunni revolution against the mostly Shiite government. The question of whether these Concerned Local Citizens groups will turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing must be answered.

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Conflict Map of the Counterjihad

The map is based on the Islamic Insurgency Conflict MapUnited States’ struggle against Jihadist terrorists in Iraq and to a somewhat lesser degree in Afghanistan. It could well apply to other Counterjihad struggles, for example Israel against Hezbollah in Lebanon, Pakistan against Al Qaeda in the Pashtun tribal belt, Turkey against the Marxist PKK, and the Philippines against the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.

The two fields on the ends of the map are the counterinsurgent democracy on the bottom and the country in the throes of insurgency on the top. The gray represents the neutral populace in both.

The two pentagrams in the middle are the military counterinsurgency and the insurgency. They are killing each other. The counterinsurgency is much more successful at actually killing its enemy than vice versa, as reflected in the width of the arrow. The counterinsurgency also manages to kill some of the semi-legitimate insurgent leaders. But this is not where it stops.

The insurgency not only kills the personnel of the counterinsurgency, but also kills neutral leaders and civilians of its putative own side in order to supply photogenic violence for its media productions. The media productions are the tools the insurgency uses to tell its narrative. The insurgency’s narrative is represented by dark green arrows, and comes from the insurgency itself, from semi-legitimate leaders, and from covert supporters within the populace. For the purpose of this map, the narrative is directed at the democratic populace (for the political effects). However, in reality the narrative is primarily directed at all Muslims in an attempt to radicalize and mobilize them.

Finally, and now we come to the core of the processes this map is intended to represent, we come to the interactions between the Elected Government, the Opposition, the Pro-War and Anti-War Minorities, the Military, and the Populace. The center of this storm is the conflict between the Elected Government and the Opposition which desires to embarrass the Elected Government and throw it out of power, and is willing to go to great lengths to do so. For more on this section of the map, see Democracies at 4GWar.

Trackposted to Nuke’s, Perri Nelson’s Website, Blog @, third world county, Right Truth, Pirate’s Cove, The Pink Flamingo, Big Dog’s Weblog, The Amboy Times, Dumb Ox Daily News, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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Democracies at 4GWar

Counterinsurgency and Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) are two ways of saying the same thing. War compels an enemy to submit to your will. 4GW is a form of warfare. It is still a technique for compulsion. However, it does not focus directly on the enemy military force but directs a narrative (a storyline which may bear little similarity to the facts) at the enemy population in order to convince them to do something, for example to stop supporting their military. Gunplay, bombing, and other kinetic operations (including security operations, a free press, and free elections) are useful in a 4GW so far as they fit into and reinforce the chosen narrative.

4GW hasn’t been discussed much, but it has been the dominant practical method in major wars for fifty years. Vietnam was a 4GW. The US won the vast majority of kinetic battles convincingly. Even Tet was a disaster for the NVA. But the NVA won the war of the narrative. In the end, the US withdrew and refused to assist South Vietnam against the 1975 North Vietnamese invasion, with the result that 25-30% of Cambodia was murdered by Pol Pot and millions of “boat people” fled Vietnam to escape the reeducation camps and other horrors.

Colonel T. X. Hammes writes:

In January 2002, one ‘Ubed al-Qurashi quoted extensively from two Marine Corps Gazette articles about 4GW. He then stated, “The fourth generation of wars [has] already taken place and revealed the superiority of the theoretically weak side. In many instances, these wars have resulted in the defeat of ethnic states [duwal qawmiyah] at the hands of ethnic groups with no states.”

Essentially, one of Al-Qaeda’s leading strategists stated categorically that the group was using 4GW against the United States—and expected to win. Even this did not stimulate extensive discussion in the West, where the 9-11 attacks were seen as an anomaly, and the apparent rapid victories in Afghanistan and Iraq appeared to vindicate the Pentagon’s vision of hightechnology warfare. It was not until the Afghan and Iraqi insurgencies began growing and the continuing campaign against Al-Qaeda faltered that serious discussion of 4GW commenced in the United States.

In a 4GW war, both militaries direct their strategic narrative against the populace that supports their enemy military. Democracies that fight a 4GW have added vulnerabilities that can lead to defeat in a 4GW much like the US defeat in Vietnam and Israel’s defeat in the 2006 HizbAllah conflict in South Lebanon.

Major Erik Claessen writes:

According to Galula, “The basic tenet of the exercise of political power [is that] in any situation, whatever the cause, there will be an active minority for the cause, a neutral majority, and an active minority against the cause” (italics mine). It takes considerable political interaction to make the neutral majority choose sides. The majority of the counterinsurgent’s electorate is only marginally interested in politics. In a democracy, three types of actors can generate the political interactions necessary to make the neutral majority choose sides on an issue: the government, the opposition, and active minorities. All three must compete to gain media traction because the average constituent either cannot, or will not, handle more than a few political issues, and the media largely decides what those issues are.

I have simplified the situation somewhat in my diagram.

Claessen continues:

“Because rhetorical campaigns are such an integral part of mobilizing public and political support, there is a tendency to oversell the message. The constant temptation to manipulate and distort information frequently leads the public to develop unrealistic expectations about the nature or likely cost or efficacy of military intervention.”

This initial justification for the involvement in COIN becomes a de facto contract between the government and the electorate. The government must abide by this contract or pay a high political penalty. Because the most important terms of this contract are the expected duration, nature, and cost of the counterinsurgency, the insurgent can inflict a political penalty on the government by prolonging the conflict, changing the perception of its nature (e.g., from a “war of liberation” to a “war against imperialist oppression and cruelty”), and/or increasing its cost. None of these require the insurgent to attain military victory.

The second consequence of a government’s decision to undertake COIN is that the political opposition can exploit the conflict for electoral gain. In a democracy, the opposition represents the electorate’s alternative to the government.

As the diagram shows, the opposition will represent both the government and active minorities as too extreme, and itself as the only centrist and reasonable alternative: the compromise party. It is hard to argue with this logic. In addition, the more attention that is paid to the military conflict, the more likely the populace is to respond to emotional arguments and search for a compromise position.

As Claesson points out, this makes a widely disseminated pro-military narrative counterproductive in a democracy fighting a counterinsurgency or a 4GW. The discouraged electorate is the central problem in 4GW for democracies.

Claesson again:

A discouraged electorate can be devastating for the democratic counterinsurgent, akin to destruction of his armed forces. The counterinsurgent must have a strategy to prevent this from happening. However, the three steps that might preclude such discouragement are impossible to take. The counterinsurgent cannot start a war without justifying it to his electorate; he cannot include the opposition in the government and abandon the government’s political priorities for the entire duration of the war; and he cannot curtail the activities of the active minorities that oppose the counterinsurgency.

Yet, as Max Boot points out and Claesson repeats, there is one way to minimize the possibility of a discouraged electorate. Keep it quiet and make sure the conflict is not closely covered in the media. Some ways to keep it quiet are:

  • Use minimal numbers of regular military forces in country.
  • Focus on training mission that can be performed out of country.
  • Leverage indigenous counter-insurgents.
  • Use private military contractors (letters of marque?).
  • Minimal forces cannot protect the media or NGOs in country.

Both the Hammes and Claessen articles are well worth reading. Taken together they show both the dangers and a path out of our current troubles with the 4GW against Al Qaeda, quite possibly a path to victory.

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Imagine take two

With apologies to John Lennon, who was a great singer but had his politics all wrong. Updated


Imagine no abortion
It’s easy if you try
Nobody killing their own infants
Before they ever hear them cry
Imagine all the children
Given a chance to breathe.

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will see freedom

Imagine no racism
I wonder if you can
A color blind society
And brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Seeing past the color of their skin

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will see freedom

Imagine life in Heaven
It isn’t all that odd
Hell invisible below us
Around us the glory of God
Imagine all the people
Singing in harmony

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will see freedom

Imagine more democracies
It isn’t hard to do
No one discriminating
Against Christian or Jew
Imagine all the people
Free to speak their minds

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will see freedom

Imagine no communism
I wonder if you can
All free to give to charity
To build a team of man
Imagine all the people
Living like nobility

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will see freedom

Imagine there’s no poverty
To trap us in despair
No hole too deep to escape from
With know-how, will and care
Imagine all the people
Rising with the tide

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will see freedom


Updated: Some of the lines still don’t scan too well. Any suggestions? Technorati Tags: , ,

Vice President’s Remarks at the Pentagon Observance of September 11th, 2006

A year ago the Vice President of the United States gave a moving speech to an audience at the Pentagon that included the families, friends, and co-workers of those who died at the Pentagon on that day that the Assassins’ War came to the United States five years before. By the end of the speech, everyone there had a tear or was openly sobbing with sorrow.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary, General Pace, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Five years ago, September 11th forever ceased to be an ordinary date on the calendar. So we gather, once again, to recall events that still have the power to move us, and always will. And we honor the men, women, and children whose lives were taken, so suddenly and so coldly, here at the Pentagon, at the World Trade Center, and on a field in Pennsylvania. We remember all that we saw, and heard, and felt on that Tuesday morning, and also how much the world changed on the 11th of September, 2001.

Nine-eleven is a day of national unity. The memories stay with all of us because the attack was directed at all of us. We were meant to take it personally, and we still do take it personally.

The ones who were lost had begun that day just as you and I did — as free citizens of a peaceful country. They were busy with life. They had people who cared about them, people who depended on them, people who loved the sight of their face and the sound of their voice. They were unsuspecting of danger and undeserving of their fate. Each one of them had hopes and plans for the future. All of that was taken away by the wicked plans of a few men.

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Hello Mauritania!

In the May 7 issue of the Weekly Standard, James Kirchick nominated Mauritania as the surprise contender for democratic model for the Arab Muslim world.

On March 25, in the rural, undeveloped, west African nation of Mauritania (population: 3,270,000), Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, a sometime government minister, defeated rival Ahmed Ould Daddah, a prominent economist, in a runoff election for the presidency. Both sides campaigned vigorously and participated in a live, televised debate. Ould Daddah even had his own website, an impressive feat in a country where agriculture accounts for half of the population’s livelihood. Election observers from the European Union, African Union, and Arab League–as well as non-profit civic groups like the U.S. government-funded National Democratic Institute–all praised the process as free and fair. Turnout for preliminary balloting on March 11 was 70 percent, and it remained high at 67 percent for the March 25 runoff. Parliamentary elections and a referendum on the country’s new constitution had been held last year. All of these ballots went off without a hitch. Abdallahi was sworn in April 19 and claimed that the peaceful transition to democratic rule makes Mauritania “an undisputable model of a peaceful ending to a monolithic era.”

In in a path reminiscent of Chile and Turkey, the road to a peaceful transition to democracy was paved by a military junta.

From 1984 until 2005, Mauritania was ruled by Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya, a military dictator. His government actively discriminated against minority black Africans and black Moors. He survived an attempted coup in 2003, but in August 2005, while he was visiting Saudi Arabia for the funeral of King Fahd, a group of soldiers calling itself the Military Council for Justice and Democracy took control of the government and announced their plans for a democratic transition.

“The armed forces and security forces have unanimously decided to put an end to the totalitarian practices of the deposed regime under which our people have suffered much over the last several years,” the coup leaders said in a statement issued upon taking control. The military named Col. Ely Ould Mohamed Vall head of the transition government, promising elections soon. Vall vowed not to run for office himself and barred members of the junta from participating in the election. Mauritanians, given their country’s history, had reason to be skeptical. But events over the next two years showed the coup leaders meant what they had said.

Mauritania is bordered to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, Senegal beyond the Senegal River to the south, Mali to the south and east, Algeria to the northeast, and the Western Sahara to the north. Mauritania was the original home of the Moors who overran Spain. After the Reconquista freed Spain the Moors settled down in Mauritania and Morocco, only to be conquered by France in the early 19th century. Mauritania became independent in 1960. Troubles with Morocco ensued. Mauritania finally banned slavery in 1981. Offshore reserves of oil and gas have been discovered. Mauritania is an American ally in the Global War on Terror, and one of three Arab nations that has diplomatic ties with Israel.

The BBC summarizes Mauritania thus:

Full name: The Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Population: 3.1 million (UN, 2005)
Capital: Nouakchott
Area: 1.04 million sq km (398,000 sq miles)
Major languages: Arabic (official), French, others
Major religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 51 years (men), 54 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 ouguiya = 5 khoums
Main exports: Fish and fish products, iron ore, gold
GNI per capita: US $560 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .mr
International dialling code: +222

Also see the CIA World Factbook, the World Bank, Yahoo, US State Department, Reuters AlertNet, and Mauritania’s official site (translated from Arabic)

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