Posted by Curt on 13 October, 2012 at 8:31 am. 1 comment.


Richard Fernandez @ Belmont Club:

Hillary Clinton made an impassioned plea to send more money to the Arab Spring. She cited the “undimmed promise” of democratic movements and called the continuation of the administration’s policy “a strategic necessity”.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States must look past the violence and extremism that has erupted after the “Arab Spring” revolutions and boost support for the region’s young democracies to forge long-term security, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday…. “We recognize that these transitions are not America’s to manage, and certainly not ours to win or lose,” Clinton said in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

“For the United States, supporting democratic transitions is not a matter of idealism. It is a strategic necessity,” she said. And she pointed to the “undimmed promise of the Arab Spring” in the backlash against extremist groups in Libya and Tunisia, saying that in many cases newly empowered Arab societies were standing up for peaceful, pluralistic democratic principles…. The Obama administration has earmarked some $1 billion in assistance for countries emerging from the Arab Spring revolutions, and has asked Congress for a separate $770 million fund tied to specific political and economic reforms…. Clinton urged the lawmakers to release the money, citing U.S.-sponsored programs and security partnerships she said could both reinforce democratic gains and increase pressure on extremist groups.

It is certainly a political necessity. The administration is so deeply committed to their Middle Eastern policy that they cant admit to error. It would mean they were capable of it.

In those circumstances it is quite reasonable to ask: what outcome, set of outcomes or events in the region would would lead them to reconsider the correctness of their chosen path? What metrics can be reasonably established to measure the ‘success’ of the Obama administration’s policy in the Middle East? There must be some way to distinguish between the virtue persisting on a hard but ultimately fruitful path and simple the vice of “reinforcing failure”; it should be possible to tell the difference between doubling-down on a losing proposition and waiting till it turns a profit.

Perhaps the most infamous recent historical example of the inability to distinguish between the two was the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. I recommend Martin Windrow’s The Last Valley which is an excellent account of what was really a complex battle. It describes how bravery, endurance and ingenuity cannot always compensate for the pure stupidity of one’s own high command. The problem with the French was that the more paras they poured into Dien Bien Phu the more they had to add to save the ones they had already dropped in.

They were doubling down. That much is well known. They got themselves into a place where they had to be right. There was no Plan B for being wrong.

What is less frequently realized is that Giap almost lost it. He was doubling down too. Giap’s initial strategy was premised on winning a rapid victory. So he sent his men pell-mell against the French lines. “Though effective, that approach was costly. Between 13 and 16 March, the Viet-minh suffered more than 9,000 casualties, including 2,000 dead”.

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