Monday, February 28, 2005

A European member of one of the Listservs I subscribe to posted the following comment the other day:

"Unfortunately, I am not quite familiar with the American system,
so I do not know the exact terms, but I would say that the authorization
act by Congress to the President to do whatever he seems appropriate as a
response to 9-11 is a clear violation of separation of powers, as well as
the President's excessive use of "Presidential Orders". One could argue
that a state of emergency justifies that, but still a state of emergency
in a democracy has to fulfill some liberal standards"

There's a lot of confusion regarding Force Authorization Resolutions. And there should be because that's the intent of their sponsors, to muddy the legal waters on matters of war and peace. I posted the following response:

"...[the poster] has an excellent grasp of the spirit of the American Constitutional system. Her only error, in my view, arises from the fact that the current preference of the Legislative branch for an Authorization to Use Force Resolution creates an appearance that is counterintuitive to the legal reality.

The United States Constitution divides the war powers between the Legislative and Executive branches, investing the decision to go to war rest with the former and giving power over the conduct of the war to the latter. The Legislative branch also has a check after the fact in that the war must be paid for out of new appropriations. The Congress exercised this power of the purse during Vietnam to curb the actions of the Nixon administration in Southeast Asia.

As a practical matter, having consented to a declaration of war, the Congress writes an almost blank check to the President, so strong are the traditional conceptions of the scope of the President's powers as Commander-in-Chief during wartime. The Congress really only can muster the will to quibble at the margins so they are loathe to formally invoke the phrase " declare war " if it can possibly be avoided. A joint resolution to use force, however broadly worded ( and the 9/11 resolution is fantastically broad) is actually an attempt by the Congress to set " less than war " parameters on the President's use of his military powers. Ditto for the Constitutionally-suspect War Powers Act.

Personally, I am extremely dubious that such a semantic distinction would pass muster with the Supreme Court of the United States, given the factual circumstances of the 9/11 attack and the invasion of Iraq. The Constitution gives the Congress the power to declare war in Article I. but leaves the procedure and wording up to the Congress, unlike,for example, with cases of treason where the Framers took care to remove any flexibility whatsoever. My hypothesis is that the High Court would regard the 9/11 and Iraq Force Resolutions as acts of war in a way they might not for a Force Resolution authorizing a limited peacekeeping engagement in Bosnia.

As for the president's " excessive " use of executive orders, President Bush has actually has been more circumspect than many of his wartime predecessors including Truman, FDR, Wilson and Lincoln. What FDR did in terms of internment of Japanese-American *civilians*, a reprehensible act of poor judgement but one that was nevertheless upheld by the Supreme Court in Korematsu v. United States, demonstrated how far the legal authority of the president in war time can be stretched. Mr. Bush, by contrast has not even sent al Qaida *combatants* before court-martials for war crimes which could easily result in death sentences for fighting out of uniform or targeting civilians, something well within normal military justice procedures.

The objections to Mr. Bush's actions in this regard tend, I have observed, to come most heatedly from those who also happen to argue that the United States is not actually at war."

Rob at Businesspundit has a trio of posts worth looking at today. While the focus of Zenpundit is foreign policy and national security, the strategic thinking and organizational culture issues discussed here have many analogs with modern business structures.

Rob's first post is on the intangible but vital aspects of " Branding" in terms of identity. His second deals with leadership and organizational culture " fit" as competing values. His third is on change and execution of strategy and the questions Rob raises could apply as well to the foreign policy bureaucracy or the military.

My personal bias is toward favoring an effective strategy. A bumbling leader who is a poor tactician with an effective strategy will be even more at sea without one, not even having a goal in sight. They will simply react to events, ad hoc.

Check it out.

I have previously blogged on why the murder of Dutch artist, film director Theo van Gogh, by an Islamist extremist can be considered a " System Perturbation".

More evidence is accumulating that a significant tipping point was reached with that murder, the Dutch are sudenly keen to emigrate and escape what they now see as an onslaught of unassimilable, intolerant, Islamist extremism. The Dutch government, by having previously failed to maintain the normal enforcement of Holland's political and cultural Rule-set with new immigrant communities, now finds their people " voting with their feet".

UPDATE: The tiny Netherlands increases its share of the burden in the Terror War
Sunday, February 27, 2005

Somalia might become a good baseline test case of both the semi-crazed ideas of Murray Rothbard's Anarcho-Libertarianism and the rational " Connectivity" ideas in Tom Barnett's PNM.

My bet. Without an export or establishment of security these embryonic capitalist enterprises will fold. At a certain point of growth they will attract the attention of predators and will either have to buy them off, provide their own security or be looted out of existence.

A few posts of note from the blogosphere.....

Stuart Berman has an imaginative take on personal identity IT security and the information age economy.

Thomas P.M. Barnett says that Coming Anarchy produced a review of PNM that showed that CA " knows their rear end from their elbow".

PHK at Whirledview - a new professional foreign policy blog on my blogroll ( Welcome!) - gets it wrong about Iran - but she gets it decently wrong in an honest argument and she probably represents the consensus view of the bipartisan foreign policy elite.

praktike at Liberals Against Terrorism on a Rand paper dealing with a typology of Muslim thought.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Iranian sponsorship of terror and ties to al Qaida. This is the sort of piece that drives Juan Cole bonkers but the author is a CFR anti-terrorism finance specialist and not just some kook with a blog.

That's it.

Foreign Policy magazine has an interesting but flawed article on national-security decision-making inside the Bush administration that you should check out.

The most interesting aspect of the piece by David J. Rothkopf, which is drawn from his book Running the World:The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American power, is the illustration of the personal dynamic of the principals, particularly how Rice relates to Cheney and Rumsfeld. Rothkopf leans heavily on disbgruntled realist-stabilitarian veterans of the Bush '41 administration, particularly Brent Scowcroft. One can only wonder if Bush pere was a deep background source as well.

Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Hadley all go back to the Nixon-Ford era together while Rice was a Bush '41 NSC protege of Brent Scowcroft and Robert Blackwill and a close ally of Robert Gates. Cheney himself had been a protege of Donald Rumsfeld which led him to become the youngest White House Chief of staff in history during the Ford administration.

Rothkopf - and in fairness his book very well be different than this summary FP article - oversimplifies the role of the NSC by preenting it as a dichotomy between an " Honest Broker-Coordinator" on the Scowcroft model or the personal adviser " Staffing the President" Rice model. This reduces the NSC experience to a universe of Bush I and Bush II. In reality the NSC since its inception has had a variety of roles, all with strengths and weaknesses:

Coordinator: The Scowcroft model of an evenhanded facilitator of options for the POTUS who
keeps the Oval Office open to all the key players. Usually this type of NSC adviser draws their staff heavily from State, the DoD and CIA personnel. Upside, exerience and balance. The downside here is that the president does not get possible alternatives that are outside the policy preferences of the power bureaucracies

Enforcer: The Tom Clark - H.R. Haldeman model. Here the NSC adviser is dedicated to ramming through the president's policy and NSC decisions over the bureaucratic resistance of State and/or Defense, which sometimes have their own ideas about where American foreign policy should go and prove to be less than loyal subordinates. Most useful when the cabinet secretaries have " gone native" and become " captives" of their bureaucracies or are poor managers. H.R. Haldeman, was a WH Chief of Staff and not APNSA, but he fulfilled this role of Nixon's " Lord High Executioner" because Kissinger was an Activist, being too busy and frankly, too distrusted by Nixon to perform in this capacity. Upside, the President obtains compliance and bureaucratic saboteurs are punished. Downside, climate of fear stifles initiative and ideas.

Activist: The Kissinger-Brzezinski model where the NSC builds a staff of " academic superstars" to provide imaginative policy options for the POTUS alongside those of the power bureaucracies. Upside, out-of-the-box thinking and policy execution that can end-run a hostile bureaucracy. The China opening and some key aspects of Detente were implemented this way and probably would never have come off had they gone through standard government departments. The downside,s here are as great as the advantages unfortunately. This model makes the NSC adviser a self-interested player and creates enormous tension, savage bureaucratic infighting and angry resignations. Secondly, an incompetent NSC adviser who tries to fulfill this role creates problems like Iran-Contra by going " operational" as with McFarlane and Poindexter.

Irrelevant: The Richard Allen-Anthony Lake model. Here neither the NSC adviser nor his staff has control of the policy process or much real influence with the president. Each power bureaucracy goes its own way seeking its own preferred solutions. Disloyalty to the president's stated policy objectives goes unpunished, thus encouraging further free-lancing. The Pentagon and State feel free to contradict each other in the press and will even leak against the president himself. Problems are admired and policy decisions go unmade for months, even years. There are no upsides to this model except that overall American foreign policy gets so stuck in neutral that no grand mistakes are committed because no one has enough power to steer the ship to change course.

Rice, a Bush loyalist, was really more of an enforcer during her tenure as APNSA but one who allowed the DoD - Vice-Presidential staff to become the dominant voice. Presumably, of course, that reflects the preferences of her boss, President Bush but Rothkopf raises questions of whether Rice was so close to Bush in terms of perspective that she lost the ability to discern how moves were being made by the players.
Friday, February 25, 2005

CITAR's Executive Director, Regan Walker, asked for my review of the NIC 2020 Project discussion paper " Nation-State Failure: A Recurring Phenomenon" by Robert Rotberg.

My first point would be that I do not have any fundamental disagreements with the thrust of the paper. It could have been more sharply focused but it was for discussion only and not a fully developed brief.

The taxonomy Rotberg uses of Strong, Weak, Failed and Collapsed for a continuum of State health is a serviceable one. A " Collapsed" State from Rotberg's description really involves more of a collapse of the underlying society itself, an unraveling of social mores and implicit Rule-Sets as well as the machinery of government. My primary criticism is that the lines between Weak, Failed and Collapsed remain rather fuzzy and ill-defined, something Rotberg sought to change.

I will give kudos to Rotberg though for calling attention to the phenomena of the seemingly strong, Weak State. A totalitarian dictatorship is a vertical scenario and has the strong yet fragile characteristics of a pillar. It can bear and exert great force up and down it's chain of command but when attacked from the side it will shatter and fall with dizzying speed. This is an important point I have seldom seen noted elsewhere.

I developed a different frame of reference on the integrity of a system for the Rule-Set Reset around the idea of an axis based upon two continuums. The first represented the ability of a system to Enforce its Rule-set and ran from Strong to Weak. The second intersecting vertical axis represented the degree of clarity that the system Articulated it's Rule-set and went from Implicit to Explicit. The resulting quadrants ( and ease of converting into a graph) would give the analyst a little more room for nuance in accurately sizing up states or other complex systems.

Rotberg is also correct in looking to leader behavior as one of his indicators. Big Man kleptocracy or Nomenklatura style parasitism are red flag warning signs of impending state failure. The unholy speed with which the ex-Communist Party bureaucrats looted the Russian state in the 1990's was a good indication of the extent to which their nihilistic greed had previously been held in check only by fear of the KGB. His identification of security as the prime public good provided by a state meshes well with the ideas of Dr. Barnett in PNM ( who I believe worked on the previous NIC project) and his call to " export security" to the Gap.

Overall, a good starting point for discussion, so Rotberg can be said to have accomplished his aim.

Dr. Barnett has an important post on fragile, failing and failed Gap states today:

"...The UK government lists 46 countries as “fragile,” with a population of 900m (14% of world total), with Indonesia and Nigeria being the biggies. The World Bank’s more limited definition yields 11 such nations (Afghanistan, Angola, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Liberia, Burma, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe—all Gap, naturally), with an additional 16 named as Low-Income Countries Under Stress LICUS), yielding a global total of 165m. ....What Kristof wants is what I want: a system to deal with these sorts of atrocities, and waiting on the Gap to come up with one on its own, or the UN, is simply fanciful. It’ll be a group of Core heavyweights. It’ll look like a Star Chamber and the vengeance will smack of Dirty Harry-like retribution.

And that’ll be a very good thing—not sort of good, not kind of good, but absolutely good. "

This is the sort of debate that makes international law professors and transnationalist progressives squeal. For them, limits of sovereignty is a concept for the Core only. In theory, the authority of international bodies they champion to make binding rulings also applies to dysfunctional Gap tyrannies but in practice you usually find these same people arguing an absolute sovereign rights line when American-led multilateral intervention is in the offing. These activists don't call it that because they repudiate the concept intellectually, but that is their intended effect in forestalling intervention.

What the hang their hat upon is the Equality of Sovereign States as a cornerstone of the Westphalian system of international law - the very system that they normally are working to supercede and undermine. The United States, they say, does not have the right to interfere in the internal affairs of another sovereign state - though the UN does by the odd logic of a group of states acquiring a right by banding together that none possess individually.

My response is that the sovereignty of many states is simply a pretense - extended to all newly decolonized nation-states by the West through a combination of habit, convenience, guilt, selfish interest and hopeful benefit of the doubt. In reality, a sovereignty that cannot be exercised by a legitimate authority in the sense of maintaining order and accepting responsibility within a territory where the people have at least implicitly consented to be ruled, does not exist. Flags, UN missions, postage stamps and DC lobbying firms to the contrary, notwithstanding.

When a government cannot systemically enforce its rule-sets a majority of the time over at least *some* of its territory it is not a nation-state but a geographic expression. It is legally terra incognita and the Core needs to stop pretending otherwise.

This nonsense is from one of America's best known, " power", newspapers. Overall, it's not a bad thing for our Secretary of State since it indicates the opinion-making set is so fascinated by her that even her trivialities make news. Commanding that kind of imagery is a form of power that can be used, it's a psychological wedge that hasn't been played well since tales of Henry Kissinger's sex life was interspersed with stories about detente with Russia. On a certain level, I can commend the journalist for thinking out of the box but that level really doesn't belong in a serious newspaper, it belongs in Vanity Fair or Vogue. And by placing it instead in a paper known to be read by our nation's elite we all come off looking like a pack of gibbering morons.

I subscribe to The Economist and read foreign dailies online because the only national newspaper here that's worth a rusty damn is The Christian Science Monitor.

Zenpundit at warp 5, set phasers to " Irritable"......

UPDATE: Dan at tdaxp posted on this idiocy as well. As for the decline in The Economist, I must say that a) an absolute decline still leaves it with a relative advantage and b) The Second Law of Thermodynamics sends everything to hell....
Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Let’s show the world what the blogging community can do when it unites.Two of our own are in prison. Bloggers Mojtaba Saminejad and Arash Sigarchi are being detained by the Iranian authorities. (See below for their stories.)Here’s what you can do.First, download the "Free Mojtaba and Arash" banner to your blog and link it back to this post. No one in the blogosphere should be unaware of Mojtaba and Arish.

(Zenpundit is too tired to get the banner up tonight, so click the link)

(Thanks again to our member Alan for this banner.)Second, if you are in the United States, contact either the Representative at the Iranian Interest Section of the Pakistani Embassy or the Ambassador to Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. (Iran has no embassy in the United States.) Here is the contact information.

Dr. Mohammad Javad ZarifAmbassador and Permanent Representative to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran622 Third Ave. New York, NY 10017Tel: (212) 687-2020 / Fax: (212) 867-7086E-mail: Email the ambassador Iranian RepresentativeEmbassy of PakistanInterests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran2209 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.Washington, D.C. 20007Email the Interests SectionIf you are outside the U.S., as many of you will be, you can contact either the Permanent Representative to the United Nations or the Iranian ambassador in your own country.

Because distinct, individual messages are more effective than form letters, we will only provide suggestions.

Be respectful. Bloggers are known for speaking their minds with a minimum of preciousness. But you are writing diplomats, not other bloggers.

Make reference to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Iran is acting in defiance of this global standard.

Write a letter in addition to an email. It will amplify your voice and come on, your printer is like three feet from you. Besides, when was the last time you went outside?

Later, rinse, repeat. Do not just write once and forget about it. Keep on top of Arash and Mojtaba’s stories. Write and email repeatedly. Keep the pressure on.

In addition to your efforts, the Committee will contact both the Iranian Interests Section and the office of the Ambassador to the Permanent Mission. We will report back to you with what we find out.It’s up to us, no one else.

Let’s take responsibility for our own and show the world bloggers are a force.

Walid Jumblatt, the canny survivor and leader of the ferocious Druze militia during Lebanon's civil war, had some kind words for George Bush:

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

Recalling Jumblatt's activities twenty years ago, this is kind of like finding out that Daniel Ortega had emigrated to the States and was last seen as a Republican poll watcher in Dade county.

Hat tip to Marc Shulman !

An exceedingly long and annoying day. Nothing like rolling in here at 9:30-10:00pm after getting up at 5 am. One of those Parkinson's Law days when your reward for moving a prodigious amount of administrivia to your Out box is a new, even larger, pile for your In box.

On the positive side, I did talk on the phone with a friend I have not seen in some time and I also received the green light from my editor Bob on my next contribution to The Rule-Set Reset. This was key because it also allows me to develop one of the alternative topics for another publisher and I can stop pondering and start writing. BTW, the second issue of RSR will, like the first, be free to download before the subscription jaws slam shut. I can promise if you do subscribe, your hard-earned dollars will be ploughed back into RSR to make it the interactive PNM vehicle that The New Rule-Set Project partners envision it becoming and that fans of PNM will enjoy.

Had something of an important breakthrough today too on cognitive theory. I attribute this particular lightbulb popping in my head to the Boyd article below jogging my thoughts but I won't know if I have just reinvented the wheel until I do a little computer time on ERICsearch and a couple of other databases. I came up with this insight while sitting in a meeting where my presence was serving no constructive purpose whatsoever and it might make the nugget of a good journal article. Or at least a post here.

Ok, enough free-range blogging. Time to focus.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Collounsbury's Livejournal site is not accepting comments for some reason but he did have a link to Abu Aardvark on Arab reaction on al-Jazeerah to Zawahiri's latest anti-democracy rant.

The last group to mount so straightforward an attack on liberal democracy as a concept were the Nazis. The Stalinists, being more cautious than the National Socialists and wanting to encourage the willing suspension of disbelief by useful idiots in the West, appropriated
" democracy" as an Orwellian gloss for their form of totalitarianism. Democracy carries with it implications of political legitimacy that are now almost universally recognized and al Qaida is now very clearly its enemy. The " Zarqawization" of al Qaida continues apace.

Zawahiri's put himself in an ideological corner that not even all Islamists are going to find defensible. Nice to see that the other side makes its own militantly stupid moves on occasion.

I'm nearing the end of Robert Coram's bio of maverick fighter pilot turned theorist, John Boyd. Had Tom Barnett not endorsed the significance of Boyd's contribution to military thought I'd have probably tossed the book on my towering " to be read eventually" pile with no particular hurry to get to it. Reading Coram's book, which is, as praktike had commented, somewhat light, spurred me to take a firsthand look at Boyd's work, so I found a copy of his paper/brief " Destruction and Creation".

The man was a visionary genius. We should all see so far.

(straight text version here).
Monday, February 21, 2005

Dan at tdaxp stomached a tour of the Hate-America fest known as the Democratic Underground and discovered that Hillary Clinton is now considered a " war criminal ".

Dave Schuyler at The Glittering Eye has an excellent post up on the motivations for George Bush's fence-mending tour ( note the Chirac-Bush lovefest) to Old Europe.

"...So why has Bush gone to Europe? I think there are three reasons. First, half a loaf is better than none. Anything that Europe can bring to the party will be gratefully received. Second, when the French and Germans stiff him (as they undoubtedly will), they will look churlish. This won't go un-noted in New Europe. For New (or Old) Europeans who aren't predisposed to despise anything American this may be a very important trip particularly if, as some have predicted, the European Union collapses within 15 years.

But Bush is a politician and the third and, in my opinion, most significant reason for Mr. Bush's Grand Tour must certainly be for domestic political consumption. What might the domestic political considerations for this trip be? He may be trying to demonstrate that he's doing his utmost on the diplomatic front. This should strengthen his hand for whatever actions are required as future events unfold. And there's a lot of unfolding going on. "


My expectations bar for the Germans and French is a low one. Paris and Berlin will pursue their own perceived national interests, much of which involves acting as a self-appointed, soft-power, balance to American primacy. However, there still remain fairly large areas for cooperation in mutual interest ( getting the Syrians out of the Bekaa for one) and trips such as these smooth the path. As irritating as French Gaullist and German leftist politicians can be, so long as their envy and anti-Americanism continues to be expressed selectively, we can count on them to help us when it is in their selfish interests to do so.

I also recommend checking out the American Future for Marc Shulman's coverage of the Bush trip.
Sunday, February 20, 2005

On a lark, I checked out some handguns today. When I was quite young, I was a crack shot with a small-bore rifle and was in a gun club that produced at least two national champions and one West Pointer. However, I haven't fired a gun of any kind in at least 15 years. I don't have any interest in hunting per se but I would like to try my hand again at some targets, this time with a pistol.

Wandering around Gander Mountain amongst taciturn men with beards dressed in camouflage I found a prodigious display of Smith & Wesson automatics of various calibers with a company representative on hand. What caught my eye, though, were the blocky Taurus .44 magnums. A lot of heft and their .45 was even larger - if just waving this pistol didn't scare away an intruder you could probably kill them simply by throwing it at their head.

Frankly, not being a " gun nut" and not really know that much about the fine points of handguns and since I'll need to apply for a FOID card first, I'm going to take my sweet time reading up before shelling out ( pun intended) $ 500-$800 for essentially a new and time-consuming amusement. If there are any gun aficianados out there with recommendations for something reliable, I'm all ears.

A quickie list of what has caught my attention in the last few days:

Younghusband's comments on China and the Internet at Coming Anarchy.

Dr. Barnett's analysis on the U.S.-China-North Korean diplomatic triangle.

JB at riting on the wall on China's Uighurs in Kyrgyzstan.

Bad or at least superfluous advice from Tariq Ramadan on American relations with Europe. Hat tip to Marc Shulman.

The coming battle over the President's Daily Brief by Larry Johnson at the Counterterrorism Blog, now that the tough as nails John Negroponte will become the National Intelligence Director. I strongly endorse Johnson's idea of bringing the POTUS back into contact with real, live, CIA analysts instead of just senior CIA managers or political appointees.

This is a timely issue and an important one. The president ( any president) needs something that is concise and combines timely intel with the ability to look ahead in context. I'd recommend an Open Sources addition to the PDB that is deeper analytically than the usual, daily news digest prepared by the WH staff. Probably this would be best selected by a really, really, bright and horizontal-thinking NSC staffer who also has experience working with the IC on issues and understands their perspective as well to avoid redundancy.
Saturday, February 19, 2005

Love him or hate him, the administration of George W. Bush has already made a significant mark on history. Here's how he could solidify his legacy while reshaping the world:


Asia has several strategic flashpoints and balance of power problems that require resolution if the region is to grow peacefully into the Core in the coming decades. Obviously there is North Korea and the Indian-Pakistani nuclear rivalry and the perennial China-Taiwan standoff. Aside from these immediate problems, three longer range structural dilemas require consideration:

a) Integrating the regional Gap - Vietnam, Laos, Burma, North Korea, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Central Asian states.

b) Preventing the emergence of Sino-Indian, Sino-Japanese, Japanese- United Korean and Sino-Russian military rivalry with or without an anti-American power bloc aspect. Either is bad though the latter is even worse from a strategic standpoint.

c) Preventing al Qaida's transnational Islamist insurgency from taking root and destabilizing the Muslim states of Central Asia.

This Asian NATO would include Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Russia, South Korea, The United States and Japan as the " Leviathan " members and bring in the smaller or poorer states like Singapore or Thailand in as " System Administration" contributors under the the protection of the organization. Regional security would be the focus but the organization could easily put pressure on states like Indonesia and Pakistan to reform in order to qualify for membership.

Since mutual suspicion and a history of weak regional international entities ( SEATO anyone ?) must be overcome the Bush administration could use the same strategy that Acheson and Truman used with the Schumann Plan for a European Coal-Steel Community that grew into the EU by sponsoring a modest advisory security and cooperation organization that could become the cornerstone of an Asian NATO.


Momentum for a " Super-NAFTA" have stalled in recent years but the economic logic remains for what would become the largest free trade zone in the world. The Bush administration is correct to be advancing piecemeal, in the manner of Cordell Hull, nation by nation what could not be gotten in one grand hemispheric bargain.

Such an agreement would set up two subsequent possibilities for future administrations. A dollar-based currency union that would be attractive to Latin American nations that already peg to the dollar or seek to hold the line against inflation and an inter-bloc " North Atlantic Free Trade Zone " with the EU.


Perhaps as a subsidiary of the IMF that would encourage economic development with an eye to promoting private markets, transparency, reduction in tariffs and environmental management ( particularly water resources and desalination) on a regional planning basis.

Formally linking this new organization to long-established international monetary institutions would enhance its credibility and independence while insulating it somewhat from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle-Eastern political and " bazaari " business culture that is inhibiting market function and development.


Africa has the greatest problems of any region inside the Gap ranging from nasty civil wars, failed states, dictatorships, famine, disease, genocide, poverty, kleptocracy and the world's highest HIV infection rates. While a permanent intervention force could only be effective if used to address one acute problem at a time, there usualy is at least one problem of significant magnitude in Africa at any given moment that screams for international crisis intervention.

The Humanitarian Intervention Force could consist of say, three divisions of highly mobile Aircav and Paratroops and an umbrella " Peace Corps " type, System administration organization 2-3 times that size to assist coordinate and facilitate the relief efforts of international agencies and NGO's. Intervention decisions might be left in the hands of the UNSC in consultation with the OAU or NATO, perhaps with " trigger" requirements so that cases of genocide can no longer be swept under the rug.


This is not a call for government control of the internet, far from it, but a subsidizaton of making wireless, unimpeded and extremely inexpensive access to online communication and secure monetary transactions ubiquitous. This means a system where a person living in a Gap regime that seeks to control access via gatekeepers, censorship and coercion only needs pocket-sized piece of hardware to link up to the free world. It also means the United States determinedly thwarting UN, EU or statist regime attempts to contract international conventions to preserve and extend gatekeeping controls and taxation to the internet
Thursday, February 17, 2005

I don't often write on strictly domestic issues but I heavily trend toward the libertarian end of the spectrum on the Bill of Rights. I found this essay by Bruce Kesler on the Media, public support for the 1st amendment and blogging to be stimulating.

One of the nicest things about developing a niche of specialization ( vertical action) in the blogosphere is that you then start to attract intelligent responses from a wider variety of fields ( horizontal reaction). I've established this relationship with Tom Barnett and Geitner Simmons and Zenpundit is now attracting similar quality connections of its own. Generally, it is my policy not to quote on my blog on what is emailed to me unless I have at least the reader's implied consent to do so though I have accepted reader suggestions for topics from time to time ( I'm still working on Jacob H.'s Wohlstetter post- a lot to read there before I start writing) with Dave Schuyler as my most frequent email goad to good blogging discussions. Dan at tdaxp too asks some great questions that spur thinking.

I'm pleased therefore to have such permission and draw your attention to CITAR - The Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research as well as its official blog run by Regan Walker, both of which I'm certain will prove to be a valuable resource for your own analytical efforts. CITAR meshes nicely with the PNM concept; Walker writes that:

" Currently I am working up a concept system for aggregating, formatting, storing, analyzing and plotting all events and occurrences using “filters” of globalization (security, economic, political, cultural, environmental, technological). This system will allow any user to look through historical and real-time data to make horizontal inferences about the events, where they may lead and how seemingly unrelated events can effect one another."

A worthy intellectual project.

CITAR is also soliciting for article contributions for those of you interested in national security threat assessment ( I may submit one myself in the future, assuming I can get my head above water at work while meeting my present writing commitment to The Rule-Set Reset). Expect both sites to appear on my blogroll soon.

Wonder what is going on about the war of words between Teheran and Washington over the use of UAV spy drones ? Check out a post at The Adventures of Chester !
Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Dr. Judith Klinghoffer has a good article up at HNN on North Korea this week. I found the subtext about South Korean politics more interesting though. Professor Klinghoffer wrote:

"I am sorry to admit that the news did not surprise me. As Korean University professor, Shin-wha Lee, has recently informed me, any mention of North Korean atrocities is politically incorrect in South Korea because it is seen as unwarranted anti-Communism. Apparently, history has taught Seoul nothing. In South Korea we are back to the good old days when the Stalinist atrocities were meticulously covered up. The Moscow trials were treated as just. Robert Conquest was dismissed as hard line anti-Communist, and Noam Chomsky airily dismissed evidence of the Cambodian genocide.

And let us not be sidetracked by all the talk about crazy/not so crazy indeed, artistic leader. Nuclear weapons in the hands of a willful all powerful tyrant (the son of a tyrant) may be the primary world concern but it cannot be expected to the primary concern of South Koreans or human rights activists. For there a Holocaust is going on in North Korea and I am not using the term lightly and neither are those you will find if you click on. "North Korea's Auschwitz" -- the inside story on the No. 14 detention center. There you will find Kim Yong-sam's report..."

If Americans are puzzled by South Korea's recent rise in anti-Americanism they really shouldn't be. It was stirred deliberately by former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung, a former leftist dissident who suffered at the hands of South Korea's old, right-wing, military regime. It was Kim who patiently refashioned South Korean nationalism, away from opposition to North Korea and defined it in opposition to the United States. In all fairness, Kim succeeded easily because his policy was cost-free and the Clinton administration questioned neither his " Sunshine Policy" nor Kim's crackdown on criticism of North Korea's lunatic regime, finding both to be politically helpful cover for their own appeasement policy.

The United States will probably find China to be a more helpful de facto ally in taming Kim Jong-Il's mad nuclear ambitions than our de jure ally in Seoul

UPDATE: Dan at tdaxp identifies the driver in China's desire to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

Armchair Generalist responded to my critique in the comments and crossposted on Liberals Against Terrorism:

"I think you miss my point - I'm not as concerned about the cost of fabric (although you do, I think, underestimate the price differences of DLA's ordering millions of fatigues a year and their point of view on economies of scale) as I am the mindset.

You say "Jointness is better expressed in such elements as communications equipment and military doctrines that cultivate interservice teamwork while letting each unit do what is designed to do well." Well, here's the thing - the services don't like joint, they write joint doctrine to be all-encompassing of all four services' unique views and practices instead of refining it from a top-down, slimmer joint aspect.

Here it is, what, 20 years after Grenada and we still can't get the four services to use one version of GCCS or use one standard logistics reporting format. I merely meant that this uniform issue is indicative of the deeper feelings within the four services. I don't fault Rumsfeld for not forcing them to go standard, just that Rumsfeld's goal of going joint appears to be weakening as a result of this symptom."

Let me say that, in general, I do not disagree that the armed services could use a healthy dose of " slimmer jointness" particularly on such things as a logistics reporting format and even bigger ticket items like aircraft. It would be far more economical both in money and use of military assets to increase the genuine adherence to the concept.

On the uniforms issue, lets say we save, say, $ 450 million - a not insubstantial sum - by imposing a joint uniform on the services. You would not only affect morale of active duty personnel up to the general officer rank in what would be the black beret debacle x 10 but you also enrage the veterans groups and members of Congress with prior military service. My guess is Congress reverses that decision with alacrity and - should you prevail - important people who might have helped you on more substantive and less controversial jointness reforms are looking to settle a score with you on round II. A very poor cost to benefit ratio for expended political capital, no ?

My thoughts on Rumsfeld is that he will use the war as an excuse to leapfrog over a lot of service objections to concentrate on restructuring the services organizationally in terms of mission execution. Elevating SOCOM to an independent command will eventually be seen as one of his more conservative reforms, assuming he gets as far as I'm speculating he wants to go.

Thomas Barnett has written in terms of a " Leviathan " and " System Administration " division of labor. Even if you don't buy into PNM theory as I do I believe Iraq has taught a hard lesson that counterinsurgency, counterterrorism operations, stabilization and reconstruction and peacekeeping cannot be done by the seat of our pants in the wake of major conventional operations. We have to retool to carry out these tasks well because they will determine if intervention efforts ultimately bear fruit or lapse in to a different kind of problem.
Monday, February 14, 2005

To Dr. Barnett who seems to have set the world land speed record for hammering out his next book on PNM grand strategy. First draft, I realize but can't wait for it to hit the bookstores Tom ! Oh, and he's lecturing to a Congressional study group at the invitation of GOP foreign policy heavy-hitter Senator Dick Lugar.

I'm feeling rather lazy in comparison.......

I thought as a blogging warm-up I'd make a few comments on what caught my atttention today.

Over at Liberals Against Terrorism, Armchair General lives up to his moniker, faulting Rumsfeld for failing to force the armed services to adopt a common uniform as a symbol ( or evidence) of commitment to " jointness". AG wrote:

"Now you might say, "So what? they're adapting to specific environments in which they expect to operate." Maybe. My viewpoint is that the services have always hated to be joint; they will always tell you that they can determine what's best for their own service interests, and they're partly right. However, this independance in the selection of their combat uniforms indicates two things - first, they don't care about the costs of developing, purchasing, and maintaining four different sets of fatigues, as opposed to the generally lower costs of having one type of uniform. Good news for overseas textile companies, bad news for people that have to buy their own uniform. More seriously, I would think that this just inspires the idea that each service is unique and special, and that fosters more interservice rivalry and infighting."

Even a great blog can have an off day. This post was simply foolishness. While it is indeed true that you would have lower marginal costs with a common field dress for all the services the cost in esprit de corps would be extremely high while acheiving a savings of pennies. I'm sure the Army was going to save a few nickels by giving the black beret of the Rangers to all the cooks, secretaries and buck privates on K.P. but the near-revolt of the elite trigger-pullers demonstrated how damaging to morale such McNamaraesque parsimony can be.

Unit cohesion and a sense of sacrifice are built around such martial distinctions as patches, stripes, chevrons, heraldric symbols and the like. Men will fight and die because of the idea that their service, their division, their brigade, their company " is unique and special". Military history is replete with examples of units from the Spartans at Thermopylae to Navy SEALS in Iraq that fulfil that role and distinguishing them from the herd is a part of the warrior culture. " Jointness" is better expressed in such elements as communications equipment and military doctrines that cultivate interservice teamwork while letting each unit do what is designed to do well.

The second thing that caught my eye was that militant centrist Purplestater at Centerfeud and edgy libertarian ( and fellow Rule-Set Resetter) TM Lutas hit the same point today.
TM was more concise so here's his post in full:

"Progressive Conservatives, Reactionary Liberals

TCS is running a neat article called Anti-Powerfulism examining the strange reactive stance of the Left to President Bush's "almost revolutionary program". It seems to me that we're facing a very new phenomenon, the phenomenon of the reactionary left and the progressive right. Whether it's going to be sustainable is a big question. Either the progressives on the left will come up with a competing positive agenda to Bush's or they will leave the left, loving progress more than the label. That fracture would geld the left and stick them in permanent minority status. The right has fracture issues to as Patrick Buchanan has shown with his championing a reactionary paleoconservatism that is downright grumpy.

The rest of the world must be horribly confused. "

Purplestater developed his argument at length so you should go read his post in full but here is a snippet:

"We live in a strange age in which the elections held in a country recently liberated from a monstrous and barbaric dictatorship were criticized because they resulted from an "imperialist intervention" by the "fascist US regime" - but terrorists attempting to destabilize that country and prevent popular elections through threats of violence are called "freedom fighters" and "Minutemen" by voices of the Left like last year's international media darling, Michael Moore.

The Left used to claim to be on the side of democracy and the will of the people (as long as those people weren't under Soviet domination), and against fascism and oppression. Now that the post 9/11 Right has taken up the cause of liberation (for admittedly self-interested and pragmatic reasons), the Left is suddenly on the side of "stability", even as dictatorships around the world are being shaken to their foundations."

The Left has become, at least psychologically, a vanguard movement. Millionaire Hollywood socialists, tenured radicals and activist lawyers from law schools steeped in histories of WASP white shoe privilege. What does George Soros or Cass Sunstein have in common with anybody trying to raise kids in a modest three-flat bungalow in Chicago or a double-wide in some Georgia hamlet ?
Sunday, February 13, 2005

I have not fully collected my thoughts on this topic but a couple of posts have me mulling the relationship between radical Islamism and the great secular totalitarianisms of the 20th century. the first was from JB at riting on the wall who delved into the recent pronouncements of al Qaida's chief ideologist, Ayman al-Zawahiri. JB is not impressed with al-Zawahiri the theorist:

"braude interprets all of this from a rationalist/western/critical perspective. but that's missing someting. there's nothing new here. zawahiri hasn't made a single point here that he hasn't been making since, at the very least, bin laden's days in sudan. actually, i'm not sure there's anything here unique to zawahiri. all three foundations are straight out of qutb. enjoining against the united states came out of the early days of egyptian islamic jihad. and it's really hard to see any of this as an attempt to link himself to an-nahda:"

The second prompt for rethinking Islamism was a dialogue I had with Collounsbury on his post on Koranic duels. I ended up after the exchange stating the following hypothesis:

"Islamism has some analagous traits or borrowed tactics from previous Totalitarianisms - people like Bin Laden are not stupid, they will use what can be adapted that does not contradict their view of Islam - but I think Islamism needs to be better understood on its own merits and not its borrowings. In other words, a revision of previous attempts to retrofit Islamism into Fascist or Communist models by American intellectuals is in order. Not all of these observations are wrong but the extent has been exaggerated in an attempt to understand how Islamism ticks. Or to communicate the urgency or scope of the problem."

I am not knocking Paul Berman whose book Terror and Liberalism argues the connection between Fascism and Islamism or even those who took the tack of analogies with Communism. I think those arguments were fairly made and are persuasive to the degree that the Islamists have been influenced by or borrowed tactics from their secular predecessors who were also in revolt against the liberal modernity represented by he West. Islamist and Arab radicals have often cribbed Anti-semitic discourse in some of its vilest manifestations directly from its European and Nazi context. Even in the instances where the relationship between Islamism and Fascism or Communism is tenuous there remains some remarkable paralells in terms of psychological/internal and transnational/organizational dynamics because all three represented a revolutionary, anti-status quo, attack on the global order.

Conceding those points I must move on to the crux of the issue. These influences and analogies may be misleading us in terms of confronting the Islamists because they are secondary and not central to Islamism as a motivating ideology. By relying too heavily on our experential familiarity with the Nazis and the Cold War we avoid looking at the heart of what drives a Muslim to become a Jihadi and are apt to miss the evolutionary trajectory that Islamist groups may be taking. By missing the trends and not understanding the psychological-ideological levers we miscue our actions in the GWOT I think also that this works both ways. Bin Laden's pre-election videotape revealed that he did not know quite how to direct his message to a Western audience with the clarity and effect he has enjoyed with the Arab-Islamic world.

Another conundrum is the existence and relationship between radical Sunni and radical Shiite forms of Islamism. The former is in a transnationalist, revolutionary, movement phase with no overarching authority and the latter is an official state ideology already swiftly descending into bureaucratic ossification. Supreme Guide Khameini is wearing his high religious titles with as much justification as Brezhnev wore his military decorations - and probably is causing as much wincing embarrassment to his followers. I'm no expert on Iran or Islam but I find it dubious that any significant body of Shiite Muslims hail Ali Khameini as a Marja, much less as an Imam.

I'm interested in hearing what you think regarding whether we are on the right track in analyzing and countering - and hopefully crushing - radical Islamism
Friday, February 11, 2005

Kim Jong-Il has allegedly decided to follow in his father's footsteps and designate one of his sons as his official heir and successor. This move would confirm that that North Korea's extremely harsh- and increasingly bizarre - Stalinist regime is also de facto absolute monarchy.

While all Communist nations adopted a nomenklatura system that established a permanently priviliged " New Class" of party elite, North Korea is the only state that succeeded in establishing a family dynasty. Romania's late Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescu, an admirer of North Korea's juche police state, was believed to have wanted to establish his son Nicu as a successor when his hardline regime was overthrown in 1989 and Ceaucescu was executed.

Let us hope that history repeats itself sometime soon.
Thursday, February 10, 2005

Following on the heels of Iraq's historic election.The House of Saud dips its toe into democratic waters.

A lot of the quotes in the article are heartwarming. We should remember however that this was in a) a major urban center b) the reporter spoke to a lot of people with advanced degrees and most likely to hold liberal views and speak English and c) the scope of the franchise and offices was severely restricted. Nevertheless, it's a good start and it is worthy of praise from the United States and Western countries. The al-Saud have been toying with this idea for several years but the positive outcome in Iraq certainly added an impetus by removing some of the likely objections of non-extremist Saudi conservatives.

On a personal note any further blogging today will have to wait until very late this evening. I am totally swamped with meetings and projects at work and a bombastic tantrum is probably in the offing.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Just kidding but I did get the drop on him by two days minimum.

I cruised through Border's recently and netted a few good catches that I have read or am starting to read. First off is BOYD - the Robert Coram biography of fighter pilot turned master military strategist, John Boyd. Skeptical of the tendency of biographers to oversell the importance of their subject, I emailed Dr. Barnett and asked him in his capacity as a professional military expert to give me an assessment of Boyd's contribution to American military thinking. Tom sent me a one word reply:

" Substantial".

With that endorsement, I began reading and Coram, a talented writer, draws the reader in just a few pages. It reminded me a little bit of I how I felt when I read Caro's Master of the Senate.

Secondly I also finished Michael Scheuer's Through Our Enemies Eyes ( I had already read Imperial Hubris ). You read Scheuer for the trees, not the forest. He's a detail man on radical Islamist terror groups and al Qaida in particular. You learn useful things but you don't walk away wanting to put the guy in charge of the GWOT ( reforming CIA management, yes - grand strategy, no). The book is ready for an updated edition to encompass recent events but it remains valuable to anyone intersted in al Qaida and Islamism.

My third book is a two-for-one translation of Japanese classics - The Book of Five Rings by Myamoto Musashi and The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori. I am re-reading the first, having done so once before about twenty years ago and look forward to the second which I have never read. The translator, Thomas Cleary, is noteworthy for translating works in Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Pali. Whoa ! I don't even know what Pali is ( I'd guess an Indonesian or Indian language) and Japanese, Chinese and Arabic are all notoriously difficult and subtle languages to master. Where I come from, Cleary is what we'd call " learned".

Lastly but far from least is The Coming of the Third Reich by Cambridge historian, Richard J. Evans. The only reason I've left this one for later is that I'm fairly deeply read in the Nazi period already and I'm trying to raise my knowledge level in other subfields these days. Evans is accomplished at his craft and has a sharp, analytica,l mind. In his In Defense of History, Evans managed to make historiography interesting and relevant to the non-specialist ( a task which takes some doing, trust me) as he deconstructed the deconstructionist and pomo attack on History as a discipline.

Ah, if only there were " Reading Fellowships " to sit home and dive into the books. That would be something.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005

1. Think of what is right and true.

2. Practice and cultivate the science.

3. Become acquainted with the arts.

4. Know the principles of the crafts.

5. Understand the harm and benefit in everything.

6. Learn to see everything accurately.

7. Become aware of what is not obvious.

8. Be careful even in small matters.

9. Do not do anything useless.

Miyamoto Musashi

The infamous Diplomad has passed from the blogospheric scene but the State Department Republican Underground Torch is in the hands of a worthy successor, The Daily Demarche. Today Dr. Demarche has posted an important piece on the public diplomacy problem. Reacting to a report that critically assesses the state of America's international image, Dr. Demarche writes:

"This "relief" is the very connection that we should be looking to strengthen from a feeling of "better America than China" into a sense that we are serious when we speak about the spread of democracy and freedom. As our Embassies become more fortress like and we have less and less direct, personal, contact with our host country neighbors it becomes even more imperative that we maximize every resource to communicate with the world. Whenever possible officers should be engaging the host country population directly, coupled with exchanges and grants for host country nationals to visit America and learn first hand. Beyond that we should be using the Internet, television, film and radio as much as possible to provide information about America and Americans. "

Americans, who have a streak of crusading idealism mixed with self-absorbed pragmatism, tend to forget that a good measure of our previous popularity ( or assumptions of good intentions) that did exist in other nations resulted from the fact that our enemies were scary and aggressive dictatorships. Self-Interest is a magical thing. Standing next to Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. the Imperial Japanese Army, Mao ZeDong, Kim Il-Sung, the Ayatollah Khomeini and Saddam Hussein made it hard not to look like the guys in the white hats. Now with the would-be world-rulers a memory, we are the big, hyperpower, interlopers allegedly standing squarely in the way of New Yugopotamiastan's day in the Sun.

Our behavior really hasn't changed much since 9/11. Imagine the reaction of Harry Truman to that event and you will realize that history will praise George W. Bush for his sense of humanitarian restraint. Pearl Harbor bought the Axis nothing but total war, the firebombing of Dresden and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No, what has changed is the self-interest of our friends and neighbors, most of whom see themselves as safe from the Islamist tide. They aren't but that fact has yet to hit home with most of them. Patience, it will.

Until it does our appeals to anything but their practical national interests will fall on deaf ears. Our public diplomacy should hammer away at democracy and liberty but it should also be nuanced to the vanity and particular venality of our listeners. Men will walk a little further if the pot of gold is just around the corner.


Ward Churchill's academic career, such as it was.

You may or not be aware of the huge flame-war that has broken out between Juan Cole and Jonah Goldberg recently. I've never been involved in one of these internet vendettas ( though, frankly, in the interest of increased site traffic maybe I should try -LOL ). Even on H-Diplo, where certain characters, like Eric Alterman, were worthy of a good old-fashioned flaming, I tended to stick to a policy of " soft words turneth away wrath". Overall, this practice has served me well because I often ended up with cordial relations with the people I was debating, Juan Cole among them, from whom I've learned not a few things about the Mideast.

One of the jabs Cole made at Goldberg was the following judgment:

" I don't think there is anything at all unpatriotic about a young man opposing a war and declining to enlist. But a young man (and this applies to W. and Cheney too) who mouths off strongly about the desirability of a war is a coward and a hypocrite if he does not go to fight it."

Strong words. And something of a moral free pass for anti-war activists since if military service is a duty incumbent upon citizens in a time of war this duty exists regardless of the political opinions held by the citizens. If this duty does not exist then we have a military composed of professional warriors who signed up for at least the possibility of action and the moral objection to war does not apply.

My view is that military service works well as a system either with elite volunteers or on an egalitarian basis of conscription to forge an army of citizen-soldiers with the fewest exemptions possible. I'm older than Goldberg and younger than Cole and, lacking prior military experience or critical skills, I probably would not be accepted as a volunteer today though I'd have made it in under a very broad-based draft. I have some reservations about a draft on libertarian grounds and for reasons of military efficiency but if we truly need a larger military to wage the war, middle-aged people like myself should at least be eligible for service and not merely 18-22 year olds kids.

A logical extension to Cole's argument would be the military service should be a prerequisite for political leadership. The ancient Romans certainly thought so - Praetorship with the legions was required for eligibility for filling higher offices in the Republic like the consulship. Machiavelli, in his Discourses on Livy argued that this tradition produced a more virtuous and vital citizenry for Rome - something of an idealization given the cutthroat nature of Roman politics.

In our history, prior military service seemed to serve a number of our presidents well- Washington, Jackson, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK and Bush the elder. On the other hand, serving in wartime had little apparent impact on the presidencies of LBJ, Nixon, Carter and Reagan. General Ulysses S. Grant, the savior of the Republic, ended up as one of America's worst presidents while Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, with nominal or no military experience, were our greatest.

There is some overlap between war and politics but excellence in one is no guarantee of wisdom in the other.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Earl at Prometheus6 says " No".

"Might as well run Alan Keyes.

She'd get the Republican version of the Dean treatment at best. It will be discussed so folks can feel all warm and multiculturally color-blind. But as the primaries progressed they'd realize she "can't win." All those racist Democrats would crawl out of the woodwork to vote against her, you see.

Or worse, everyone would mouth the right words all the way up to election day, like they did in New York when David Dinkins first ran against Rudolph Giuliani. And great hordes of Southerners would just not vote."

Of course that depends on who the Democrats put up.

If the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party manages to pull off their intended Deaniac coup and nominate an anti-war true-believer in 2008 to warm the hearts of the Moveon.org donors - say a Barbara Boxer type of liberal - Rice will get a hard look by some unlikely Republican voters. Not just the bloc of under the polling radar bigots Earl referred to in his post but also professional women and disenfranchised moderate Democrats. Would Rice pull in significant numbers of African-American voters ? She would not be Barack Obama but she would do better than Bush did.

And that would spell doom for the Democratic ticket. African-Americans are not a group they can even lose a slice of and remain competitive.

Dick Cheney, the most powerful Vice-President in history, has declared himself out of the run in 2008 when both the Democrats and Republicans will square off with nominees who are not incumbents.

The Republican frontrunner to beat is now Condoleeza Rice.

Rice who has steadily ascended the ranks of the foreign policy elite will, if her tenure as Secretary of State is successful, have the gravitas to make the run. If her tenure is capped by high-profile international success and if George W. Bush throws his weight behind a Rice candidacy then she may well prove unstoppable before potential opponents even line up at the gate. Rice would also neutralize the great gender-advantage the Democrats would accrue by nominating Hillary Clinton to run against some colorless and aging GOP white-guy, governor.

True, Rice has not signaled any interest in elective office but she is a Bush loyalist to the core and if both presidents Bush ask her, well then...

Run Condi, Run !

I was going to pull an excerpt from Marc Shulman's post on the effect of democratic imagery on Arab satellite TV but he has a number of good posts up, so just go visit The American Future.

The birth of combat droids. ( Hat Tip American Amnesia)

Colonel Austin Bay on the odyssey of leftist goof Ward Churchill.
--Update: KC Johnson on how the case of the aforementioned leftist goof should have been handled..

Rick Heller's Centerfield blog is morphing from pundit into a player.

In what can only be a subconscious commentary, Kevin Drum does a post where Deep Throat and Hitler's erstwhile Reichsmarschall are juxtaposed subjects.

Can the Saudis " deprogram " al Qaida terrorists ?

"Rule of Law vs. Rule by Law" with an Iraqi context featured, by the ubiquitous praktike.

Lots of posts floating around on Social Security reform too but...I just don't care.
Friday, February 04, 2005

Ayn Rand, the late novelist-philosopher, militant advocate of liberty and reason and ferocious iconoclast, would have been one hundred years old on Wednesday. Rand merits remembering not because she swam against the intellectual currents of her day but because she, in no small part, reversed them.

Today, a former disciple of Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, is the world's most powerful economist and most successful Federal Reserve Chairman in history. Her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged is one of the greatest selling books of all time and the broad Right has displaced the broad Left at the center of American political institutions. The Soviet Union is gone and Communism is discredited, existing in only a few remote hell-holes like North Korea, looking every bit as evil and incompetent as any villain in an Ayn Rand story could hope to be.

Ayn Rand's career arc covered much of the twentieth century and her thinking and writing changed followed that path, rising from gloomy realism to an idealistic optimism of a heroic scale and a descent into bitter realism of her final years. She died just as the world, which had celebrated collectivism for her whole long life, began turning more in her philosophical direction. She had an inkling but would never see that her cultural influence would become wide and deep even as her system, Objectivism, in its pure form, retained only a very small following. While Ayn Rand exhibited a number of blind spots at times, as an abstract logician and systemic thinker, she was of a caliber matched only by people like Herman Kahn. For me, my first reading of Ayn Rand at 18 or 19 was like turning on a light.

Stephen Chapman in the Chicago Tribune wrote:

"In her eyes, there was no greater good than the integrity and self-fulfillment of each person. One of her essay collections had the surprising title, "The Virtue of Selfishness."Looking back, it's hard to recapture how jarring that phrase was a generation ago, when altruism and self-sacrifice were seen as the central elements of an exemplary life.

Today, Americans take it for granted that they are entitled to live for their own happiness, without apology.It may seem curious to honor a writer who merely defended free markets, preached the superiority of reason over blind faith and extolled the American ideal of the pursuit of happiness. David Kelley, head of the Rand-oriented Objectivist Center, jokes that he's reminded of the theatergoer who complained that "Hamlet' was full of cliches. Rand's beliefs have been so widely disseminated and absorbed that we have forgotten where they originated."

Stephen Cox at the antiwar-libertarian HNN blog, Liberty & Power, wrote:
"Add to Rand’s heroic intellectual independence the other distinctive features of her personality: her stubbornness, her bad temper, her growing and eventually triumphant inability to tolerate criticism, her depression and agoraphobia, her unacknowledged puritanism, her very unevenly developed sense of humor, her narrow range of literary interests, her lack of common sense about friendship, politics, and even money, her startling naivete about many aspects of history, intellectual and otherwise, her complete ignorance about many aspects of human psychology, her remarkable ability to believe almost anything she wanted to about herself, then create a history to support her beliefs . . . How could someone with these traits--and with the shyness, ingenuousness, and fragile charm that Rand also had, and preserved--ever have made an impact on our culture? And the qualities I’ve just listed were not superficial, as I found when researching the part of my book, “The Woman and the Dynamo,” that has to do with Rand’s relationship to [ Isabel] Paterson. The more you know about Ayn Rand, the more you see both the brilliant light and the eerie shade."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

TM Lutas had a comment on Dr. Barnett's reaction to Bush's SOTU. Thomas PM Barnett had written earlier today:

"Again, you got the feeling the White House wanted to avoid anything expansive on foreign policy after the way in which the inaugural speech was interpreted. But to me, that's not letting Bush be Bush, and if he's gonna be president another four years, shouldn't he be?"

Shades of " Let Reagan be Reagan ". TM responded with the following psychological observation:

"I'm getting the message that Dr. Barnett is a fellow who simply thrives on the horizontal and doesn't much care for the vertical. Unfortunate, that, because I'd estimate that 90% of the actual work of changing the world is in verticalization of the kinds of horizontal concepts that he does so well in PNM and elsewhere. "

My response to TM is " probably yes, but...". I don't know Tom except through email exchanges and what he has written for public consumption but to get the doctoral degree requires vertical mastery of a field or subfield. That being said I think at a certain level of expertise, one's enjoyment of rooting out ever finer gradations of knowlege that fewer and fewer people can appreciate starts to diminish. Eventually, if you are really on your game, your intellectual exchanges are less dialogues than monologues not because you are a blowhard but because finding someone who can " keep up " is difficult.

At that point, Horizontal thinking becomes richly rewarding in terms of intellectual stimulation. You provoke exchanges with people of comparable expertise in different fields whose answers jolt you in to new patterns of thinking or bring fresh perspectives to bear. In the comments section in an earlier post I responded to Stuart's comment on the relationship between Horizontal and Vertical thinking as follows:

Tom's Horizontally conceived work naturally lends itself to Vertical expansion. Edward DeBono described Lateral thinking across domains/perspectives as complementary rather than adversarial toward the Vertical thinking we are familiar from experts in a field, subfield or niche. So when Tom in PNM does this:

....Concept A....Concept B.....Concept C....Concept D...

It's relatively easy for me to come along and do this:

<...Concept A....Concept B.....Concept C....Concept D.......>

Vertical thinking comes naturally to most of us. Horizontal/Lateral thinking usually does not unless we tend to be one of those individuals regarded as " creative" but it is a skill that can be taught and learned by most of us to varying degrees. It is in part, a cultural shift in our thinking patterns.

There is a natural limit or caveat to recall when dealing with Horizontal thinking however. One of the tools used fairly liberally is the construction of analogies. Case in point, Dr. Barnett's borrowing of the concept of System Perturbation from complexity and chaos theorists. It is not used in PNM * exactly* the way the originators of the term would use it in their field but since the global economy of nation-states is a complex system of subsystems, it's a theory with real-world traction.

When you wander further and further from the sure ground of your own expertise, the greater the risk of your analogy becoming a false model. Collounsbury has been driven to distraction at times by the application of the lessons of the Soviet collapse/Cold War to the Arab-Islamic World. Sometimes there is transfer, particularly with Arab states that consciously aped the East bloc in structure, policy and institutions but often times not. I've been guilty of the false analogy here ( my area of concentration in history was US-Soviet relations) occasionally in my analysis and I have not minded a bit when Col or Juan Cole corrected me. Calling me on my sloppy reasoning only makes me sharper.

Horizontal thinking is energized and made purposeful by the cross-disciplinary debate it is intended to evoke. It shakes the vertical experts out of their narrowly framed box and keeps the horizontal visionaries tethered to earth.

Dan at tdaxp posted a free-market paen to al Jazeerah's privatization that povoked Collounsbury to wax prolific on understanding Mena in order to grasp the Arab media.

Posts will be short and sweet until my tech problems are resolved. Made some progress yesterday.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005

My ISP problems continue apace. I will try to get them resolved tonight so I can get some posts up. Sorry for the delays.


"I find it telling that the man who has lamented such great concern for the kite-flying, tea-sipping Iraqi people featured in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' can't be bothered to string together a few words of admiration for those same people who braved the threat of death to cast their votes this past weekend....It seems Moore only admires the Iraqi people when they validate his agenda of hating George Bush."


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

"When an antiquated and undemocratic regime falls quickly, those who follow it often do so with little firm idea what they want or how they will achieve it. Slogans -- "progress," "prosperity," "catching up with the rest of the world," "freedom" -- and a sense that there are places in the world where life is better -- though those societies threaten the sovereignty of a nation in flux, while they inspire its inchoate leadership -- are all the plan that really exists. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to suggest that there are many plans, for there are many individuals, each with a distinct (and sometimes small) constituency, who wish to speak to and for the nation. The old regime collapsed quickly but not entirely cleanly (some loyalists will fight on for months; anti-reform insurgencies and assassinations will continue sporadically for a decade), and there are social and legal and cultural obstacles to development, including clan leaders, hereditary classes, and a complete lack of traditions of democracy , civil discourse or universal rights. Sound familiar?

It should: Japan, 1868."

Jonathan Dresener on the rise of Meiji Japan. Go read it.

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