Gunboat diplomacy - defined by Mandel as 'the demonstration, threat, or use of limited naval force for political objectives' - can be considered a relevant branch of deterrent and coercive diplomacy. This particular form of diplomacy incorporates elements of both deterrence – preservation of the status quo – and coercive diplomacy – demonstration of the capability and resolution to inflict 'unacceptable punishment' should there be no alteration of the status quo – and thus is flexible enough to be considered for application in the event of an impending or escalating crisis. The ease with which naval forces can be mobilised for military action allows for constant revision and attunement of the intentions and demonstration of resolve of the assailant.
As gunboat diplomacy embraces elements from both deterrent and coercive diplomacy, naturally it would also be saddled with the limitations of both approaches. Mandel seeks to question two aspects that would affect the effectiveness of gunboat diplomacy: restraint and credibility. Self-restraint (a crucial element of deterrence) is imperative in a sense that the assailant should adopt limited force to achieve limited objectives to prevent excessive coercion, which might backfire and harden the resistance of the victim, thereby escalating the crisis. Credibility is equally important since without convincing the victim that actual, potentially devastating force could be applied by the assailant (a crucial prerequisite for coercive diplomacy), non-compliance would be a likely result. Mandel then proceeds to test several hypotheses to examine the 'relative utility' of gunboat diplomacy as opposed to other variants of diplomacy.
Mandel's tests reveal that gunboat diplomacy is more effective when definitive force is employed, characterised by an informed resolution backed with commensurate naval force to exploit 'speed and surprise to create a momentary and local superiority', thereby creating a fait accompli that puts the victim on the defensive, burdening it with the decision to resort to violence. Also, deterrent gunboat diplomacy is more effective than its compellent counterpart. The former seeks to reinforce rather than alter the victim's behaviour (which would entail certain risks of hardening resistance and national galvanisation of the victimised populace to further dissuade their leaders from complying); also, compellent diplomacy demands a positive response rather than 'simple abstinence' – there may be difficulty in conveying intentions of limited means and objectives when the victim may interpret otherwise and thus perceive a show-of-force as an act of provocation.
Mandel also reveals that assailants who have recently engaged in military conflict in the victim's region are more likely to succeed in achieving its objectives, since past involvement clearly displays the willingness to intervene militarily as the precedent has already been set. Without prior engagement, the assailant might suffer from a lack of credibility as 'perpetual inertia and rigidity' of the victim prevent it from perceiving outside threats as potent enough to endanger state interests. Military preparedness – demonstrated by military expenditure – contributes to credibility by displaying the resolve and propensity to employ actual force if necessary. Mandel thus notes that assailants with higher military preparedness and spending than their victims are more likely to achieve their objectives via gunboat diplomacy. Political stability and domestic support also factor into Mandel's considerations: the more politically divided and unstable the assailant , the lesser the likelihood of success.
However, one shocking result from Mandel's tests is that even when the assailant has a considerable power advantage over its victim, or if the assailant is a superpower, there is inconclusive evidence that gunboat diplomacy will consistently produce desired results.
Mandel's article puts forth a convincing argument that gunboat diplomacy remains relevant to this day, but must be tailored according to the sensitivities and unique circumstances of the crisis. Contemporary conflicts are not always land-locked, and given the proliferation of naval technology, gunboat diplomacy may continue to serve as a flexible option that can be attuned to the shifting nature of the crisis. However, Mandel does not address the question of legitimacy: it has become increasingly difficult to gain legitimacy for gunboat diplomacy due to lack of unity of action in the international community (mostly due to vested entrenched interests that may be compromised by a shift in the status quo), not to mention that the ease of deployment of naval forces induces assailants to act unilaterally.
This study illuminates several aspects of gunboat diplomacy that prove to be highly relevant in the Iranian nuclear crisis: the USA has employed compellent diplomacy to force Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, but refuses to negotiate with it - without diplomatic relations, the act of deploying aircraft carriers near Iran only serves to convey provocation, hardening Iranian resistance and galvanising the nation behind its leaders. The invasion of Iraq has set a precedent, but increasing political partisanship and divisiveness at home, coupled with the failure to communicate limitations of means and objectives, has diluted any advantages the USA has over Iran. It is useful to remind ourselves that deterrent and coercive diplomacy only work when we assume the rationality of actors – a belligerent leader such as Ahmadinejad who believes in perpetuating nuclear apocalypse so that salvation will arrive can hardly be considered 'rational'.
Defining the parameters of the conflict is a fundamental concern for both the US and Iran: obviously, it is in neither of our interests for the Middle East to combust in flames - the fires of Kurdish secessionism, civil war in Lebanon and Iraq and the ensuing instability of the region (in terms of economic investment in its oil sector) will engulf and consume Iran whole.
Though I absolutely detest the suggestion that negotiations with Iran are actually of any worth, coercive diplomacy has to be backed by communication of our limited objectives and means. Let it be known that foisting democracy on Iran is not our objective, that we are not interested in perpetuating the collapse of the Iranian regime through unlimited military power.
But also let it be known that we will make good on our promises to cripple an already dismembered Iranian economy through decisive strikes on its oil and gas pipelines, that we will stand by as spectators when our dear "friends", the Saudis unleash large quantities of oil to drive oil prices down, that we will continue to persist in dissuading investors, banks and nations from ever spending a single rial - oh wait, they don't accept that anymore - dollar on Iran. The Russians and Chinese have begun to pull out, and the Indians aren't terribly enthusiastic. In short, to show that we can hurt you and we know how to. First to feel the pain will be those sneaky operatives of yours in Iraq, and trust me, Patraeus is no Abizaid.
Mandel helpfully suggests that when the assailant allows the victim a way out of the crisis that avoids humiliating the latter, the stand-off tends to de-escalate in intensity. By offering to provide economic aid and technological expertise in upgrading and maintaining oil and gas infrastructure on a strictly review-and-readjust protocol, securing Russian help in building nuclear processing plants (the Russians know better than to export capabilities that will allow Iran to refine weapons-grade uranium) and basically averting the implosion of Iran's regime - we can then demand for the steady dismantlement of the nuclear programme, cessation of funding to insurgents and militias in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.
And of course, there's always the handy naval option should Iran misbehave. The burden of initiating violence or reconciliation - if they so choose - is now placed on their shoulders.
As trish insisted, "victory" has lost its meaning in this conflict:
I believe victory has long since ceased to be an issue. I'm surprised anyone bothers to use the word. I certainly don't know how victory as a clear, delimiting objective can even be applied to on-going operations. I'm not sure anyone else knows that either.
The parameters of the conflict have broadened across boundaries far more intangible than any pre-1945 wars could have been contained within. There probably isn't any sort of chance one could adopt an all-encompassing strategy that - in the rarest of confluence of circumstances and variables - would actually constitute a clear "victory". I recently attended a lecture whereby the speaker asked for opinions as to when the Cold War ended.
Obviously, most of the audience would have agreed with the speaker that 1989 was the marker of the end of hostilities; yet I ventured a guess: that it hasn't truly ended, but metamorphosised into a low-intensity conflict between the US and Russia. Personally, I believe that this tension between the powers has been a mainstay, and will continue to be so.
But my suggestion drew snarky responses. What was "victory" in terms of the Cold War defined as? Not the utter annihilation of all ex-Soviet satellites, or the purging of KGB (now unofficially the FSB) agents throughout the world, or the decapitation of the Soviet Union's leadership. "Victory" was defined as a set of limited objectives in which both powers managed to avert a thermonuclear holocaust, prevent escalation of the stand-off into a bloody World War fought on multiple proxy fronts that could have led to economic debilitation on both sides (though obviously the Soviet Union first before us) and needlessly cost innocent lives in the long term.
The speaker responded, though, with a question: "So you're saying that the War is psychological?" To a considerable extent, yes. I am very much convinced that this battle for "hearts and minds" - not just among Arabs, but those treasonous bastards that rufus has pointed out (that is, if they can still be convinced) - is first and foremost a psychological one. Already, our enemies have taken to narratives and netwar, fighting the propaganda front much more effectively than us, turning public opinion against the CinC.
"Victory" is never so clear-cut, and we have to be prepared to hunker down for the long haul. westhawk echoes this sentiment:
...now the Iraqis have to realize that the U.S.-Iranian confrontation is equally permanent. Whether the U.S. is allied with Iraq or not, and whether U.S. military forces are in Iraq or not, the U.S. is in a permanent, grinding struggle with Iran for domination of the Persian Gulf region. Iraq’s Shi’ite and Kurdish leaders have to get used to that reality and make their calculations accordingly.
Islamic terrorism (or Islamism, if you so prefer) will always be a viable threat: I believe it is in our mutual interest to do all we can to mitigate the potency of this threat so as to render it low-intensity. That will be as "victorious" as we will be able to feel. Psychologically, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that "complete victory" is easily attained through force and force alone - too high standards work as a double-edged sword: defeatocrats will always point out the failure to meet these expectations as a justification to accept defeat.
That's a two-pronged question, like "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" The first question implied by your question is "Is the venture doomed?"
If the answer is yes it is doomed, then prolonging the agony is criminal, we're losing at least a soldier a day, and concurrently pointing fingers in a blamestorming session while they die is grotesque.
If the answer is no it is not doomed, and there's a way to salvage the war, and that plan is being put into action, then blamestorming becomes irrelevant, because the players and strategy become completely different. In that event it does nobody any good to blame Rumsfeld or Bremer or Cheney or Wolfowitz or the 2003 force levels or the 2005 rules of engagement.
Only if the war is not doomed to fail, but there is no plan to salvage victory, or there is a victory plan but no motivation or leadership to put it into place, are we at liberty to assign blame. And that blame would rest squarely on the president if he did not present a plan to the American people. He knows all these calculations, and he has crafted a plan. But the majority of the American people believe option A is the case, and that the war is already lost.
"Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it for what I told the people I'd spend it on, which is -- you've heard the agenda: Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror."
The same thing applies to credibility.He probably spent most of it and even a good plan may be held hostage to that sad political fact of life.
Welcome to the elephant.
It may just be a head-fake that Maliki is doing all the right things all of a sudden, and Moqtada, almost definitely, is engaging in "Hudna," and, obviously, Some of the Iraqi troops still aren't worth killing: however, some pretty smart people with knowledge on the ground are saying the we "just might" pull it off.
Some of the Iraqi troops do seem to be performing pretty well, and we have kicked some pretty serious ass in some battles, recently, and the rules of engagement do seem to be being improved. Witnesses say that many "Insurgents" are deserting the "cover" of Baghdad and running for the hills. They WILL be easier to identify and kill in the less populated areas.
Mookie's boys really do seem to be laying low. The Marines do report getting more help from the local Sheiks. Bush is, finally (why he took so long is unfathomable,) starting to stand up to the Iranians.
I don't know; it seems like Americans just have to put themselves into a "Crisis" in order to function. I'm not saying this is "Valley Forge," and we just crossed the Delaware, but, just, maybe, this isn't a good time to be immobilized by despair, either.
We should know more in a few weeks. If Maliki maintains his new-found resolve, and the Iraqi Army "Shows Up" we might be in for a better 07' than we had, 06'.
- This attack wearing US uniforms and english speak terrs really is a worrying indicator. The terrs would have got far more mileage keeping the captured soliders alive and parading them, but in any case it makes day to day operations that much more diffcult as it rachets up the paranoia/security hassle factor across the whole theatre. Well organized, clever, daring, ruthless, disciplined, sophisticated while conceptually simple - reminiscent of some of Shamil Basayev's better coups against Russia in the late 90's. Not good oponents to have. Like Israel against Hezbollah the longer the war drags on the more we train the enemy.
- Another bad sign : Busting those guys for offing civilians under Colonel Michael Steele orders indicates quite strongly that a Roman solution is not in the offing. One of the most agressive, effective and unorthodox commanders was apparently tending towards Roman style ruthless kill-em-all operations. The leadership can stomach bombing a wedding party and killing a bunch of complete innocents along with a possible couple bad guys (After watching some of the AC-130 gun camera videos you gotta wonder), but going in with rifles and killing less innocents but more probable terrs is apparently not acceptable.
Kinder, gentler warfare, where the nominally evil are bloodlessly pulverized by pushbutton but bayonetting the probably guilty is considered barbaric.
No good will come of it all. Flee.
Maliki may have been sobered by the video of Saddam hanging. He has to stay on top to avoid a similar fate. Winning one neighborhood of a time may work. Sort of a virtual Katrina. Send them all to Houston.
Deuce, he (Maliki) found "Jesus" somewhere along the line. It might have woke him up when we showed him evidence that Iran was not only helping the Shi'ites, but was helping the Sunni, and AQ.
And, you're right, He might have finally realized that he was about to be "on his own," and not ready for the experience.
Or, maybe it's just "hudna."
Oh, I agree, but in the same way that Budyonnovsk was pretty much a one off (later attempts to do it again failed miserably). Like Basayev, vicious inventive guys with nerves of steel, you gotta be afraid what they will come up with next time, and the times after that. They really didn't exist previously - we are inadvertently making them.
I'll bet it turns out to be a "phyrric" victory. A lot of the people involved may not Work again.
By the way, you might have noticed this line:
And the US is a leading market for enhanced oil recovery techniques, including carbon dioxide floods and pumps
Carbon Dioxide? When you refine a bushel of corn you get 1/3 back in Carbon Dioxide, which you can then use to produceMore Oil. Something that the "energy balance" talkers don't seem to ever take into consideration.
It will last as long as the OIL lasts.
But, hardly a day, more.
Oh, throw some bud light in the cooler before you leave, okay?
Naturally this gives Iran all the cover they need to go full steam ahead on nuclear power. Ahmadinejad can even say he's doing it for the children.
When you refine a bushel of corn you get 1/3 back in Carbon Dioxide, which you can then use to produce More Oil
They are playing around with this in Alberta.
but in that process, the CO2 is produced from an on-site coal plant and is used to squeeze methane out of another part of the local coal seam. Your idea would need a new corn refinery built at each depleted oil field, or an infrastructure of pipes to deliver the CO2 from a remote location. This may be too costly to justify.