Sunday, August 21, 2011
After living in the Gulf, I started working on a paper about the "distributive state": that model the Gulf states use to parlay their rents into social and political stabilities. That model is running into some problems today, but its guiding logic is salient in how Gulf rulers are attempting to deal with unrest there. These are my thoughts from about 4 years ago.
In the past decade, Gulf city-states have burst onto the world stage, striving to become international centers of political, economic, and social activity. The blossoming of the Gulf has encouraged real and rhetorical speculation that rapid economic development will result in prosperity, liberalism, and stability in a tumultuous region. These bold hopes ignore a number of formidable obstacles laid plain by an examination of the unique case of state formation and the ruling paradigm in the Gulf.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
A chorus of defense punditry is rising in astonishment at how a CH-47 Chinook with dozens of Navy SEALs on board could have been shot down by the lowly Taliban (nicely summed up here at Time's Battleland blog). The questions range from tactics, techniques, and procedures (how did they put themselves in a vulnerable position, where were the escorts, couldn't they have prevented the shootdown), to command decisions and resourcing (why so many in one bird, why not an MH-47 or H-60), to technological (why don't we have laser beams that can blind the shooters, was this some new improved enemy weapon). Even Max Boot weighs in from the Wall Street Journal, arguing indirectly (only just indirectly) that the tragedy is a product of the Obama administration's decision to draw down the number of troops in Afghanistan, and suggesting between the lines that we can expect more of this as special operations forces are relied on more heavily. This chorus exposes the bases of American foreign policy thought: invincibility, omniscience, and infallibility. Pundits, politicians, and even generals believe that we can achieve far more than good sense would suggest. The disbelief at the CH-47 shootdown demonstrates that our foreign policy community is delusional.