I try to keep an eye on the rants of military thinkers on issues of network and network warfare. Normally, I don't react or comment on their blogs because I tend not to want to sucked into that area of network theory applications.
John Robb is normally a brilliant network thinker on the ways that connectivity and mobility are changing the way conflict is unfolding in the net worked world (fifth generation warfare). However, in a post today there seems to be a deep disconnect between how rapid and fluid everything is in" a scary and disruptive way" and no focus on how these same dynamics can de stabilize context for war power itself. In a mobile and shifting world network dynamics can also build culture and society. Everything continues to evolve including the strategy for peace which is not maintained by guns alone.
The military types (Robb and his readers) need to transform the way they only look at the negative aspects of global culture shift and realize that the same infrastructure and swarming ability of the new bad guys can be used by lots of good people to uplift an economy or the plight of the victimized with just as many examples of Katrina and Tsunami relief to Save Darfur and cases at MobileActive. The bad guys in the London plot were targeted using connections to good leads and the network traffic to find the next wave of plane bombers.
I may not know much about what the hell is going on the ground in Iraq but if I had been asked for an opinion I would start with the idea that most folks Iraq don't want to be dead real soon. If we are not "at war" nor interested in being an occupying force then the general population should not be feared but empowered (if 25 million folks are all fighters no amount of firepower would keep our guys safe)
The exit strategy is not build new screwed up politicians ( here or there) but to connect people together (most people are good) and super-saturate the country with a network of the massess who have distributed self-interest in success NOT just in appointing good representatives, or building a police force who are beholden to also build power for the representative.
So what do you do...cover Iraq with a saturated communications infrastructure so that the cell phones are not in only the hands of the bad guys, (cell phones for everyone for 2 years with unlimited in country calling) (build social ties). Kick up meetings and conferences to pace and tempo that the insurgents couldn't disrupt at a high percentage% support conferences for road builders, water folks, bakers, teachers, poets, everyone) . This also makes sure it is not just the power brokers that are controlling the conversation.. (build social ties) Enhance mobility (never neighborhood blockades) increase subsidized public transit and decentralize it. (every van is now a bus and set up local and long distance routes) help people keep moving. Enhance the common story, give it room to breath and form saturate the country with prininting presses, long distance radio broadcast (signal saturates far beyond ethic reach), national TV, web cafes and access to Internet ( create common story and conversation.) Push a high volume of exchanges of staff from across regions and foster common language for addressing concerns with the future of the country ( the role of forgiveness and reconciliation commissions .) Set up a series of funds controlled by mass vote and referendum (voting seems popular ..vote more often) let small groups petition for projects and roll similar projects from across the country into massive common funds. Let the Iraq's decide what needs fixing together. ...... This is just riffing from the seat of my pants in blog post but someone with network chops to carry credibility in the military consulting world needs flip their brilliance to focus on the possible destabilization provided by network trends as a path for social uplift, advocacy of better living and peace.
The same forces Raab fears (external support for government, the oil effect, and manufactured state) can be flipped into part of the reason that this civil war can also stopped more quickly than anything we worked with in the past.
If people are involved, there is always hope. Network good people together and watch what happens.
Link: Global Guerrillas: WORSE THAN A CIVIL WAR.
This fragmented open source state of affairs is becoming increasingly common in modern wars. The reprise Johnson and Spagat gave to the work of Lewis Richardson on the power law distributions of war casualties demonstrates this nicely (see "War's New Equilibrium" October 20, 2005 for more). They showed that modern guerrilla wars like Colombia and Iraq (and likely Afghanistan, Nigeria and others if they had included them) haven't behaved like they did in the 20th century: