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The US and the Revolutions

A few thoughts on the revolutions, and how to respond.  Responses are meant to be effective without opening a new ground war, which is a condition that has to be avoided for obvious reasons.

Bahrain:  This one of the three is the most significant in terms of US power projection because of the 5th Fleet; it is also the one that will require the lightest touch, because we have long been aligned with the monarchy.  The military's willingness to use immediate and brutal force against unarmed civilians -- without even a warning shot -- is a quality we should not want in an ally.  The Constitutional Monarchy being demanded is a reasonable step; we should publically condemn the shootings of protestors, and begin to push for negotiations between the monarchy and a committee designed to draft such a constitution.  The membership of that committee we can help approve as a means of asserting some control on the outcome.

Egypt:  This is the most significant of in terms of geopolitical effect.  The reason it has gone as well as it has is because the US military has worked substantially with the Egyptian military over decades.  Many Egyptian officers have trained in the United States, or by American servicemembers; we hold the bienniel Bright Star combined exercises.  The military's refusal to use force against the protestors, and its alignment with an ideal of democracy, are in part because of friendships and partnerships built with our own fighting force.

The US government should reach out to every US military officer and NCO who has worked with Egypt in a substantial way, and find out if they are still in contact with any friends.  Those who are should be built into an ad hoc public diplomacy / IO task force (which, since most of it would be done by telecom, need not require most of them to leave their current positions).  This would give us signficant insight and influence into the process between now and the formation of the new Egyptian government.  I have heard the State Department has made use of military officers with ties to Egypt on a more limited scale, but this is a place where a distributed public diplomacy effort directed at the whole of the Egyptian military would pay large and long-term dividends at a low cost.

Libya:  We need to back the protestors against the attacks being carried on by the government.  I noticed that Mrs. Palin suggested a no-fly zone yesterday, which is not a bad idea if we can set one up unilaterally and quickly instead of going to the UN for authority (or doing so after the fact).  However, I might suggest we consider a more aggressive response such as the one suggested by Michael Totten's man inside Iran's Revolutionary guards.  Pin down the loyalist forces from the air.  Provide them with humanitarian relief by air drop.

We can imagine the heartening effect among the protestors of seeing US warplanes guarding them above.  We can also imagine the effect the memory of that sight will have on post-revolutionary Libya.

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