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Starvid:
If you want to be taken seriously as a regional player, you need be strong enough to influence the region. If you want to be taken serious globally you also need to be able to project power globally.
How about soft power?

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 06:56:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Soft power is indeed important, some would say even more important than hard power. Hard power is certainly not the best tool to solve all problems, and if you have plenty of hammers problems will tend to look like nails.

But at the end of the day when you are faced with hard power you will always need hard power of your own. Angry letters, Big Macs and MTV videos will not stop a motorized rifle division.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 07:02:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great powers don't face each other with motorised divisions. They use them to bully smaller, weaker states. And when they face each other they do it covertly, by proxy, destroying small nations in the process.

See Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Chile, Congo...

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 07:07:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not anymore, but certainly during the Cold war, and who knows what the future holds?

Power, by the way, is often defined as being able to force others to do things they don't want to, which fits pretty well into your quote below.

Great powers don't face each other with motorised divisions. They use them to bully smaller, weaker states.

Bully, of course, is one oway of putting it. Influencing is another. Or reacting to the actions of other powers, be they great, small, or regional great powers.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 07:10:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
Bully, of course, is one oway of putting it. Influencing is another.
I influence, you bully, he bombs back into the stone age.

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 09:15:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which makes Afghanistan even less comprehensible.

What's surreal is that the invasion of one of the smallest and weakest countries in the world is being justified by some of the largest and most powerful countries in the world as a defensive military action.

How would Afghanistan need to behave to reassure the world's top superpowers that it has no intent to annex them?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 06:59:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not fear of invasion but fear of Afghanistan being "a launchpad/haven for terrorists".

How creating failed states (as in Iraq: Saddam's was authoritarian but definitely not a failed state) escapes me. Afghanistan also became a failed state in the 1980's and the US activity in both Afghanistan and Pakistan since then has contributed decisively to Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 07:13:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was being rhetorical about annexation.

But if terrrrism is being promoted - which it is - that implies that US foreign policy is stupid and insane. Or that it actively wants to promote terrorism. Or that it needs a war for domestic reasons.

Or possibly all of the above.

What would be the worst that would happen if the Taleban were allowed to have the country back?

This might seem like a bad thing for the inhabitants, but continual war hardly seems like a positive alternative.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 07:31:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
What would be the worst that would happen if the Taleban were allowed to have the country back?
IMHO the Afghan war is a civil war among the Pashtun with the Taleban being one of the factions. The other ethnic groups (Tayik, Uzbek, Iranian...) would revert to the Northern Alliance and hold out in the fringes if the Taleban took over the Pashtun areas.

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 08:25:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Back before the US invasion, the Taleban was not content with the other factions holed up in the North, and invaded them. For example, Rashid Dostum, the butcher of Mazar-i-Sharif, was chased away.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 08:35:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Northern Alliance was able to hold out for how long, with no sign of giving up?

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 08:40:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, it doesn't seem the Taleban are able to exercise effective control outside the Helmand and Kabul river basins, which more or less coincide with the Pashtun tribal areas. I fully developed this in a comment last year.

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 08:49:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However, they are still definitely active beyond. By November last year, they had permanent presence well beyond Pashtun areas in the Northwest.

Nov 2007:

Nov 2008:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 09:12:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So they're basically advancing clockwise around the mountains in the middle of the country, like they did in the 1990's.

It looks like Iran (on the Western border) would be a very valuable ally if one wanted to cut the Taliban vanguard in the north from their bases in the South and Southeast (including Pakistan's frontier province).

The peak-to-trough part of the business cycle is an outlier. Carnot would have died laughing.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 09:17:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition to geography, there is the factor of Pashtrun minority areas. But, what should worry anyone counting on the NA, is the thrust North of Kabul. Last time, the Northern two-thirds of that area were the last gains of the Taliban, and they arrived from the West (from Mazar). This time, it looks like they would have a local base, bringing an attack on the ex-Massoud areas in the Northeast mountains much closer.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 09:27:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you mean by "hold out"? The Pashai-majority, Hazara-majority and half the Tajik-majority areas (in the West) were lost by 1996 already. By beating Dostum, they gained the majority-Uzbek and majority-Turkmen areas around Mazar-i-Sharif. The NA territory was shrinking continuously, and they lost their last able leader two days before 9/11.

Compare ethnic group majorities:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 09:08:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are nuclear weapons really a necessary component of being a serious regional player by virtue of hard power?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 06:26:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only in a region where the rivals have nuclear power capabilities. So see the various "to play 1850's Great Game politics against Russia" comments.

For other regional hard power games, see Who is it that the UK and Spain intend to invade?. Seaborne assault capabilities need amphibious assault vessels, while escort duties and logistical support for evacuations can be provided by a less heavily armored type of light aircraft carrier, a "Sea Control" vessel.

If Great Britain was focused on the defensive needs of a maritime nation, its "big ships" would be attack submarines and light aircraft carriers.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 06:53:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only in a region where the rivals have nuclear power capabilities.

I submit that is not the case.  Israel is a nuclear power, yet I think you could easily argue that Iran, which is not a nuclear power, is a power player in the region for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that their proximity to our bestest buddy, Saudi Arabia.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 03:11:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the statement. The evidence that contradicts the statement is a region where no rival has nuclear weapons, but nuclear weapons are required to be a regional power.

A regional rival with nuclear weapons is necessary for nuclear weapons to be a requisite of status as a regional power, not sufficient.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 03:31:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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