President Obama is visiting China. Among the issues under discussion, he also plans to press China to agree to sanctions or other measures to punish Iran if it does not capitulate to an agreement to export its uranium for processing abroad. I really wonder sometimes if anyone in the US is actually reading their COIN doctrine (FM 3-24, JP 3-24, the State Department Guide to COIN, A Tentative Guide to Countering Irregular Threats etc etc) or not? We still seem to be so quick to reach for the big stick instead of perhaps considering other options. Many, incorrectly, called it COIN. The Marines call it Countering Irregular Threats (CIT), the Brits call it Countering Irregular Activity which is a more accurate term albeit with the unfortunate acronym of CIA and, regardless of where the hyphen might be, who would want to be picked up with a CIA manual in their back pocket?
Regardless of what we call it, what we are really doing is Countering Destabilising Activities which we could call CDA, or reverse engineer and simply call it Stability Operations: those operations which promote stability. Because when you really get down to it, this is what we are really interested in: the maintenance of stability. Sometimes when stability operations are not enough, we have to get out the big stick and apply force with the intention of doing harm to promote good. That force may be military; it may equally be diplomatic, economic, or social…but before we get to this point, as in the case of Iran, maybe we should read our doctrine, cut to the core issues at the root of a problem and seek to address them. Perhaps, instead of being treated as the rabid dog of the Islamic world (let’s face it , we’re all pretty tired of being tarred as varying flavours of ‘The Great Satan‘), perhaps Iran would respond more to incentives, to be treated as an equal on the Central Asian stage, perhaps even to being a party to discussion regarding what is certainly an associated issue: the non-sanctioned ownership by Israel of a substantial nuclear capability? Let’s start thinking BEFORE we wave that big stick…
And on the topic of thinking, I’ve been considering today on much dogs think. Our second biggest dog, Lulu, is not well: for the last couple of months she has been favouring her rear right leg and the vets aren’t sure what the problem is. X-rays showed nothing unusual and there doesn’t seem to be any obvious injury. She’s on a course of weekly injections and I took her in this morning. She was very brave and only flinched a little at the needle – she doesn’t like them at all and is certainly big enough to make her dislike known.
Afterwards, the vet gave her a chew snack for being so brave and we both commented on her behaviour when she got it. Instead of just chomping it down, she just held it in her mouth as if to save it for later – much like, as we noted, a small child might do. She held it in her mouth the whole way home (about 40km), stubby little tail going a million miles an hour, until she got inside and on her mat; only then did she start to work on it but very slowly as if really savouring it and trying to make it last as long as possible. She growled Kirk any time he so much as looked in her direction and looked so forlorn when he finally managed to score a piece of her treat. She made it last twelve hours – and there is a still a section left for tomorrow.
I know that all the ‘experts’ say we shouldn’t attempt to transpose human actions on to what are meant to be just ‘dumb’ animals (can you get dumb experts too?) but both the vet and I wondering just how true that it really is…man’s best friend might be brighter than we think. And also on the canine theme, here’s a cute but very sad story I found tonight while researching what might be wrong with Lulu.
The twins say “that’s amaaazing“. If they’d been interested in the News at 6, they would have chorused that line at the story on the bikers protest against the Accident Compensation Corporation’s over-hiked levies in Wellington today (see Tapdancing post. Amazing the confirmed increases in the levies have today become only proposals that “…the Government has yet to decide on…” Nothing like 5000 bikers descending upon their place of work to get the ACC minister and Prime Minster doing a Fred and Ginger act (aptly this link goes to a number called Too Hot To Handle!)…perhaps Nick and John should have done some thinking as well:
- Is this blatant extortion going to fly with the voters?
- Are there other options for reducing ACC expenditure other than victimising victims some more?
- Are we getting value for money from the grossly overpaid executives running ACC?