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US Army War College publishes bad writing, says Venezuela aids all evildoers

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  • Cort Greene
    http://settysoutham.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/us-army-war-college-bad-writing-venezuela-evildoers/ DECEMBER 26, 2012 · 2:06 PM ↓ Jump to
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      DECEMBER 26, 2012 · 2:06 PM
      ↓ Jump to Comments<http://settysoutham.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/us-army-war-college-bad-writing-venezuela-evildoers/#comments>
      US Army War College publishes bad writing, says Venezuela aids all
      evildoers<http://settysoutham.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/us-army-war-college-bad-writing-venezuela-evildoers/>

      *Here.*<http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=1139>

      *http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=1139*


      I was having fun trying to understand the abstract, which is one of the
      worst pieces of English-language writing I have ever seen published. (At
      first I thought maybe the copy editor had been waterboarded and was
      rebelling by allowing this to go to press, but now I think it’s actually
      the English language being tortured in real time.)

      And then I read the paper, and the fun ended. Here is a selectively
      informed, biased observer coming up with preordained conclusions. Shorter
      (and clearer) Max Manwaring: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is actively
      exporting the ideology and practice of asymetrical warfare to a wide range
      of criminal, terrorist and anti-US organizations and governments as part of
      an unreformed Leninist revolutionary ideology.

      Such thinking would be no big deal if it were just some fringe dude on the
      Intertubes. In fact, there is a benefit in having paranoid fantasies of all
      sorts popping up here and there, as sometimes those fantasies turn out to
      be correct. But in this case, I worry, as this is coming out of the US Army
      War College. Sure, it has plenty of disclaimers saying it’s not official US
      doctrine, thinking or policy. But still, if the people making US defense
      policy take seriously this kind of scholarship, that country is in worse
      trouble than I thought.

      The key point of the article appears to be:

      Venezuela and President Hugo Chavez have become exporters of asymmetric,
      unconventional, and undeclared war.

      The whole book is bad. I mean, really, really bad. Just to grab an example
      out of a hat, it states unequivocally that Iran has invested $40 billion in
      Venezuela, citing Ilan Berman’s
      testimony<http://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Ilan_Berman_Testimony1.pdf>
      to
      a US legislative committee, which in turn is footnoted to this page on
      the Christian
      Broadcasting Network web
      page<http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2011/december/iran-hezbollah-spread-tentacles-to-latin-america/>,
      which says something different, without a source, and also quite unlikely
      to be accurate. I mean, this is some bad scholarship. But still, I’m going
      to poke away at a few tidbits, because they are just crazy enough to get
      some traction.

      For me, the key question when someone says Venezuela is exporting anything
      at all is to show me the evidence that it is acting beyond its own borders.
      Within Venezuela, sure, there is a defense doctrine of fourth-generation
      warfare — the basic idea being, avoid an invasion by making the country
      ungovernable to an invader. It’s a reasonable strategy, too. But beyond
      Venezuela’s borders, what is the evidence of exports? In this book, not
      much. The first significant mention is on the 37th of 62 pages:

      Chavez has brought together an unlikely assortment of state and nonstate
      actors, and criminal-terrorist organizations [to break US hegemony]. They
      are: 1) the Bolivarian Alliance led by Venezuala, which includes Bolivia,
      Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and, possibly, Argentina; 2) Iran and Russia;
      and, 3) at the very least, this alliance offers material and political
      support to the insurgent and drug trafficking Revolutionary Armed Forces of
      Colombia (FARC), Iranian surrogate and terrorist Hezbollah operations in
      the Western Hemisphere, and other violent nonstate actors such as African
      and Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs). Thus, this group
      of partners (allies) comprises a hybrid of state, nonstate, and
      criminal-terrorist franchises that appear to be expanding as this monograph
      is being written. The one thing this diverse group of parties has in common
      is a hatred for the West in general and the United States in particular.

      Questions for the author:
      - You sure you want to lump ALBA countries like Dominica with terrorist
      organizations like FARC?
      - You think Mexican gangs have “a hatred for the West”?
      - What is the evidence of ongoing expansion of this alliance?

      Then there’s this, which anyone who knows the words “Sunni” and “Shia”
      might find amusing:

      Combating International Isolation. Alliances provide Venezuela with
      powerful friends both outside and inside the Western Hemisphere. The major
      allies have been noted above. Unofficial extra-hemispheric actors, in
      addition to Iran and Russia, would probably include China, Chinese Triads,
      African gangs and cartels, the Spanish Basque separatist organization
      (ETA), the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and various Islamic groups
      sponsored by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States to include al-Qaeda, Hamas,
      and Hezbollah.

      So now the IRA, ETA, Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah are all allied with
      Venezuela in a global axis of evil. Al Qaeda, best buddies with the
      burka-pushing Taliban, is now supposed to be pals with Venezuela’s
      cleavage-fest. Remember, this guy is writing at an institute of higher
      education. So of course he has a footnote to back up this claim. The note
      goes to Douglas Farah, “Terrorist-Criminal Pipelines and Criminalized
      States: Emerging Alliances, PRISM 2, No. 3, June 2011. It seems Farah has
      actually been to Venezuela, which puts him ahead of some analysts, but it
      also appears that his main work these days is telling scare stories in
      Washington. He is by no means an expert on Venezuela.

      Later, the paper hangs a lot of its evidence for an “export” of “war” on
      the presence of the Continental Bolivarian Coordinator, or CCB, in a bunch
      of Latin American countries.

      CCB is reported to be active in, at the least, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil,
      Chile, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras,
      Mexico, and Paraguay.

      That was probably true before 2008, when it changed its name (an event
      Manwaring doesn’t appear to know about, despite his self-positioning as an
      expert). But what is “active”? Yes, some unnamed people may “have called”
      the CCB a “Foreign Legion,” it was more like a “college gabfest” for people
      who want greater unity among Latin American countries, combined with the
      sort of wishy-washy leftism that would be quite familiar to anyone who had
      spent time within 3 meters of a bong on any college campus in the free
      world.

      The article wastes ink on the question of Russian and Chinese involvement
      in Venezuela. Sure, great, worry about that if you like, it certainly does
      indicate a loss of US hegemony, and if you’re the US Army, that might be a
      concern. But don’t call that an “export” of “war.” Import ≠ export and
      toys<http://www.cooperativa.cl/noticias/mundo/venezuela/accidente-afecta-a-un-avion-militar-venezolano/2012-11-28/114451.html>
      that fall apart<http://www.noticias24.com/venezuela/noticia/137068/extraoficial-se-produjo-un-siniestro-entre-dos-aviones-militares-en-el-estado-aragua/>

      wars.

      This US Army scholar seems confused about what constitutes an export of
      war. The US exports war by flying airplanes uninvited into other countries
      and dropping cluster bombs on them. The Continental Bolivarian Coordinator,
      back when it existed, exported bloviation. Perhaps if the Pentagon learned
      the difference between war and bullshit, it would perform better at both.

      And next time the Army War College needs a risk analysis written on
      Venezuela, I could name 20 people off the top of my head who would be more
      qualified than Max Manwaring. At the very least, each of them could compose
      a better sentence than this:

      Nevertheless, prudence dictates that it is time to take the empirical
      evidence seriously and make substantive political-economic, social,
      informational, and military changes to deal effectively with the threat
      that one dare not speak its name.

      Author Max Manwaring, Director of Research Antulio J. Echevarria II, and
      Strategic Studies Institute Director Professor Douglas C. Lovelace, Jr.
      should all be ashamed to have their names on this document.

      Feel free to read the whole
      paper<http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/download.cfm?q=1139>
      to
      see how shoddy reasoning supports the US’s trillion-dollar military and
      intelligence budget. Cheery stuff.
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