From bands to bombs, let us change the focus again.

One of my favorite parts of BRIDGES will be Chapter 14, “What Did I Tell You? Anatomy of Opportunities Lost.”

The chapter will include reference to many opportunities taken such as preserving the future of the Adirondacks but will focus on opportunities lost. It will contain links to old favorites such as “DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH KATRINA” and others. By the way there will be a new trip on memory lane with Katrina to mark the second anniversary of “rebuilding” the Gulf Coast out soon.

This new “What Did I Tell You?” caught us by surprise.

Some of you will recall that in the early days of Bacon’s Rebellion Blog, Jim opened the scope of subjects beyond the Commonwealth to explore thoughts on occasion of the US of A’s invasion of Iraq.

Our 9th column for Bacon’s Rebellion was titled “Three Questions.” Under the second question (“Why is the United States repeating in Iraq, the same mistake made in Afghanistan?”) we outlined an alternative strategy for both pseudo-nation-states.

Now WaPo, in a 17 August 2007 story by Robin Wright titled “Nonpartisan Group Calls for Three-State Split in Iraq” summarizes a report by the Fund for Peace.

On 22 August CNN carried a story “U.S. Officials rethink hope for Iraq Democracy” quoting generals and intelligence sources.

Read “Three Questions” at and then these two stories at and and see why it will be in “What Did I Tell You?”


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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Mr. Risse,
    It would be helpful if you could be more exact when you flash us back on the web to stories from the Rebellion years ago and the Post.
    Secondly, I’d be careful about throwing around terms that Iraq and Afghanistan are “pseudo nation states.” You could argue that, but in international affairs you just can’t invent your own vocabulary — as you tend to do with land use issues which is more your area of expertise.

  2. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Ed, I remember well your skepticism of the Iraqi endeavor and your suggestion that the reconstructed country be organized around New Urban Regions (or their Iraqi equivalents). But even New Urban Regions would require functional government to work. I’m very pessimistic that Iraq can develop functional government in the face of al Qaeda car bombs, sectarian ethnic cleansing, competition between rival militias, massive corruption and the meddling of neighboring states (OK, throw in U.S. meddling and incompetence, too, if you’d like).

    After watching our adventurism in Iraq (which I supported) go so badly awry, I’ve returned to my pre-9/11 mindset that we should not be in the nation-building business. It’s hard enough building our *own* nation, much less someone else’s.

  3. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Anon 7:05:

    On your first point. I have problems spelling (same nurelogical (sp?)disorder that afflicted A. Einstein according to a family member) and even more problems typing in correct URLs.

    When I cite something from Bacons Rebellion just go to that home page and look for the “Wonk” tab. There you will find a brief profile of EMR and a link to a longer profile. Jim Bacon does a great job on keeping the list of all 103 columns in alpha order below the profile. You can also search from the home page for the title.

    As to the CNN and WaPo cites, I find it easier to go to their home page and then search using the information I provide than to provide links.

    As to your second comment when you read “Three Questions” you will see why I call them pseudo-nation-states. By any definition of nation-state, I think they qualify as “pseudo.”

    I take full responsibility for new words and phrases.

    Further, I believe reverence to “nation-states” like Yogoslavia, Czechoslovakia, etc is a prime cause of tension in the world.

    A number of scholars believe that over the past 20 years most “success” in resolving international conflict has been to disassemble psuedo nation-states.

    I hope that helps.

    Jim Bacon:

    Glad you are enjoying Okaracoke. I will add some notes on your post there later.

    I you go back and read “Three Questions: you will note, not just skepticism but a “plan.”

    Had that plan been implemented, al Qaeda would never have gotten a foothold in Iraq. We would have a number of atonamous “regions” in Afghanastan. In both places citizens could have dedided how and when to create larger agglomerations in new governace structures.

    As I noted in an earlier post, I agree wholeheartedly with you comment on the problems with our own nation-state and that is why we are laughed at internationally as an “agent of democracy.”

    We have a lot to fix at home first.


  4. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Anon 7:05:

    Ops, that is inverse chon order not alpha order.

    That is why I include dates in the cites.



  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Re: Pseudo Nation States:

    If you were an Irishman in 1920 or an Indian in 1947, you might ocnsider the British Empire to be a “Pseudo-nation state.”

    Ditto a Georgian or a Chechen or an Uzbek when the Bolsheviks were consolidating their power at bayonet-point circa 1920.

    Or, if you were a Cherokee in the early 1800s and you saw all these white Europeans buying and selling your land and pushing you off.

    My point is that the term “pseuod-nation state” is very subjective and leads to confusion. Better to stick to principles of international law.

    I’d hate yo have seen a U.S. policy maker invading the Baltics in the 1960s because he considered the Soviet Union a “pseudo nationa state.” He might find the U.S. incinerated within the next 60 minutes.

  6. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Anon 10:38

    Everything you say is well founded and I do not disagree with any of these points.

    (Hold on to your view of Cherokees, there may be some new prespectives, at least for me, in the offing.)

    No one should attack a someone because they think it is a pseduo-nation-state.

    On the other hand, the future of civilization depends on functional governace. For individuals the most important levels will be the Dooryard and Cluster. If we cannot live well at that level, contemporary civilization will continue its path to entropy.

    (Incert Will Owen’s parable)

    For larger groups of citizens the New Urban Region will be the most important building block.

    As in the EU, an intelligent course is to have both Regions and super-nation-state groups of Regions eclipse the role of the nation-state.

    It is a mistake to invest resources in defending pseudo-nation states. That was the burden of our point in Three Questions.


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