From the Editor

From Parameters,  Spring 2006, pp. 2-3.

In This Issue . . .

We are pleased to welcome back to the pages of our journal Mr. Ali A. Jalali, until recently the Interior Minister of Afghanistan. His insightful treatise “The Future of Afghanistan” is an examination of the conditions in Afghanistan since passage of the Bonn Accords in December 2001. The author focuses on the means by which the Afghan government might foster greater long-term development in the fields of governance, security, and economic growth. Jalali concludes that although the past four years reflect remarkable progress in terms of the country’s recovery, much remains to be done. The author believes Afghanistan is presently at a monumental crossroads. He adroitly points out that the Bonn Process was dominated by an international agenda focused on security. The post-Bonn era, however, requires a much more Afghan-specific agenda as the key to sustained peace and stability.

Eric A. Heinze, in “Humanitarian Intervention and the War in Iraq: Norms, Discourse, and State Practice,” provides readers with an insightful analysis of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention as justification for the exercise of military power. The author questions whether such factors as motive, the level of human suffering, use of military force as a last resort, prospects for success, proportionality, and right authority must be taken into account when developing plans for any legitimate humanitarian intervention. Heinze’s analysis of these factors, especially as they apply to the US involvement in Iraq, leaves the reader with the understanding that such military action has greater legitimacy than many would have us believe.

Our thematic presentation in this issue, “Countering Insurgents,” contains two articles related to the planning and execution of counterinsurgency doctrine and strategy. Wade Markel presents a historical perspective of the British model for countering insurgencies. “Draining the Swamp: The British Strategy of Population Control” examines the British experience in Malaya against the “Chinese squatters” and later actions countering the Mau Mau threat in Kenya. The author contrasts these two “successful” operations to the US experience in Vietnam and determines that the main lesson to be derived from those counterinsurgencies is that physical control of the contested segment of the population seemed essential. The author then compares the Coalition’s current situation in Iraq with the British experiences. Although our operations in Iraq are distinct in several respects from those previous counterinsurgencies, Markel observes that the current US strategy is showing signs of succeeding. Anthony Vinci provides our second article in this feature, “The ‘Problems of Mobilization’ and the Analysis of Armed Groups.” The author presents a thesis founded on the belief that a proper definition of an armed threat is critical if there is to be to any hope for a successful tactical and strategic response. Vinci utilizes his more finite definitions to determine the actions required of any armed group in efforts to “mobilize their forces.” He divides these actions into three categories—getting the people to fight (motivation), means of force (logistics), and ability to exercise direction (command, control, and communication). Markel concludes that such an analytical framework provides a wholly different perspective for understanding and formulating successful responses to the threats posed by armed groups.

“Rehabilitating a Rogue: Libya’s WMD Reversal and Lessons for US Policy,” by Dafna Hochman, analyzes the December 2003 decision by Muammar al-


Qadhafi to dismantle Libya’s nonconventional weapons programs. The author discounts previously held beliefs that such actions were the result of the US invasion of Iraq or economic sanctions. She postulates that there were three more pragmatic reasons—Libya’s concern about al Qaeda and a desire to ally with the United States against such a threat; Qadhafi’s preoccupation with his reputation and international image; and the ability of the United States to influence an international agenda against Libya, as exemplified by the Pan Am 103 case. Hochman suggests that Libya’s actions hold significant implications for US policymakers in future dealings with other “rogue states.”

Janeen Klinger argues in “The Social Science of Carl von Clausewitz” that the great, unfinished book by Clausewitz, On War, has generated untold misinterpretations and distortions and therefore requires a conceptual clarity that can be achieved only by placing it in a social science context. She points to the fact that much of this distortion is due to the translations and condensations of the book that occurred during the period from 1850 to the end of World War II. The author develops her thesis by providing the reader with a comparison of Clausewitz’s “trinity” relative to events of the 18th and 20th centuries, as well as its applicability to terrorism. She concludes with a call for On War to be taught to and read by military professionals as social science.

Paul Bracken provides the reader with a framework for analyzing the national security strategy in “Net Assessment: A Practical Guide.” This article is targeted at the military professional who may not have yet worked at the senior levels of the Department of Defense or in the Pentagon. The author believes there are two basic reasons for any defense intellectual to be knowledgeable about the net assessment process—its general application to any military issue, and the fact it is a “language” spoken at the highest levels of the defense establishment. Bracken highlights the observation that net assessment is indeed a “practice,” not an art or science. It can therefore provide users with a broader perspective and a working knowledge of any number of associated skills. He concludes that the practice of net assessment permits the inculcation of data in such a manner as to create strategic insights that can lead to a decisive advantage in the strategic arena.

Nader Elhefnawy has crafted an alarming and insightful analysis regarding the scarcity of fossil fuels. “Toward a Long-Range Energy Security Policy” examines much of the traditional history related to consumption and pricing and the role they play in creating global shortfalls. The author then takes exception with any number of linear projections and warns that there are numerous fallacies that are integral parts of such assessments. First, there are multiple errors in calculating the costs when comparing various forms of energy. A second common error is the built-in assumption that relevant technologies will remain static. Finally, he discounts the long-postulated belief that there is only a choice between fossil fuels or nothing at all. Elhefnawy closes with the recommendation that government needs to intercede where the private sector is unable or unwilling to resolve issues like the coming fossil fuel crisis. He advocates a “Big Science” program similar to the Manhattan Project or the Apollo moon program, one which, by the way, would cost less.

The Book Reviews section includes a marvelous array of expert reviewers and provocative books. In the lead are General Frederick Kroesen’s review of Soldiering, by Henry Gole; Robert Killebrew on Ralph Peters’ New Glory: Expanding America’s Global Supremacy; Andrew Bacevich reviewing Robert Merry’s Sands of Empire; George Quester on Al Venter’s Iran’s Nuclear Option: Tehran’s Quest for the Atom Bomb; and Richard Halloran on James Kitfield’s War and Destiny. — RHT  

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Reviewed 8 February 2006. Please send comments or corrections to