A BLUEPRINT FOR ACTION FOR A FUTURE WORTH CREATING ! Reserve your copy now !
ADDENDUM TO COGNITION SERIES
Some of you have asked some important questions in the comments section or in private email. I am not ignoring them, I just had a very limited time to get Part III up and online tonight and some fiddling with the visual was required that I had not expected. Rest assured that I will address all of them tomorrow ( I appreciate your patience !).POSTSCRIPT:
I would like to add, for my " regulars" that Stuart Berman
gets the credit for asking the original question that forced me to start thinking along these lines and I never would have made the connection to insight without his asking how Vertical and Horizontal thinking relate. My thanks,Stuart !
The blogosphere is nothing if not a mighty feedback loop !
UNDERSTANDING COGNITION: PART III. HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL THINKING AND THE ORIGIN OF INSIGHT
The discussion of Horizontal and Vertical thinking brings us to one of the most intriguing questions of cognition which science is starting to answer, what is the nature of insight ? Can we do anything to " trigger" or increase the frequency of our " Eureka" moments of true discovery when the pieces of the puzzle abruptly slip into place ? My argument is that insight is a biological event and that is triggered not simply by the stimulus of Horizontal thinking alone but by a feedback loop between Horizontal and Vertical thinking that is mediated by a cognitive activity that theorist John Flavell
termed " Metacognition
". Awareness of this insight process should allow us to intentionally construct environments that will increase the probability of generating insight.
Mankind has been aware of the existence of insight for thousands of years and most educated people are familiar with the story of Archimedes leaping from his bath shouting " Eureka !" ( " I have found it !") at his sudden discovery of water displacement. Nevertheless, formally defining insight has proved difficult though everyone seems to recognize insight when they see it, much like the Supreme Court does with obscenity. From the inception of psychology it was questionable whether insight was actually a tangible process happening within the brain or merely a clever concept that described a chance event of recognition. Thanks to modern research the evidence is leaning strongly toward insight being a physical and identifiable brain function.
For some time it has been anecdotally and clinically noted that insight is not a randomly distributed phenomenon throughout the population. It tends to occur more frequently at the upper end of the bell curve; secondly, there are subgroups within the population such as schizophrenics whose abnormal brain function correlates with significantly lower levels of insight yet even here the degree of insight is affected by the schizophrenic's educational level.(2)
Even greater weight must given to brain imaging testing of insight that have demonstrated that moments of insight correlate with revealed increased activity in the right hemisphere anterior superior temporal gyrus for insight relative to noninsight solutions.
(3) The insight event is measurable
and reproducible. A physical process is something that we can intentional attempt to trigger in real-world " applied" settings and not just a research lab.John Boyd
wrote a laboriously researched, epistemological theory he called " Destruction and Creation
" where he advocated " smashing " the conceptual borders of domains - i.e. Horizontal thinking directed synthesis - as the key to learning and the discovery of new ideas and this process was a continuous cycle, a " dialectic engine
". (4) I believe that Boyd, without benefit of any advanced brain research data, came very close to finding the actual process of insight.
Where Boyd fell short was primarily in developing the details of his cycle. Horizontal thinking does not occur in a void but against an established body of knowledge with which every individual frames their interpretation of sensory information and symbolic communication. In other words, the data provided by Horizontal thinking must be integrated with a person's Cognitive Map
- the repository of Vertical knowledge and past experiences - to become of use.
The act of integration is really a process by which a person engages in both Vertical and Horizontal thinking, simultaneously or in sequence along with a reflective monitoring of their own thinking ( metacognition). To use a spatial metaphor, the Horizontal data gets " rotated" mentally, measured for validity and placement ( Vertical thinking) or pattern similarity or potential relationships ( Horizontal) with known phenomena (5). When the significance of the data is understood and its logical parameters discovered the thinking process has crystallized into a moment of insight - an insight that can be empirically or logically tested or in turn may suggest other alternatives ( though seeking proof or generating alternatives can also precede and lead to the moment of insight).Application:
If the Horizontal and Vertical feedback loop does in fact result in insight then I would hypothesize that combining horizontal and vertical thinking techniques is the road to becoming more insightful. We can attack our Vertical frames by a forced change of perspective, reversing premises, counterfactuals, brainstorming, forced association and similar techniques. Likewise, I believe that Novelty - starting anew in a different domain from the ground up instead of " smashing" across it looking for analogous concepts - is the most powerful stimulus that Vertical thinking can offer to complement Horizontal thinking.
Renaisssance men make themselves, they are not born.
2. R MacPherson, B Jerrom and A Hughes. " Relationship between insight, educational background and cognition in schizophrenia " The British Journal of Psychiatry
168: 718 -722 1996.
3. Mark Jung-Beeman1
*, Edward M. Bowden1
, Jason Haberman1
, Jennifer L. Frymiare2
, Stella Arambel-Liu1
, Richard Greenblatt3
, Paul J. Reber1
, John Kounios "Neural Activity When People Solve Verbal Problems with Insight" PLOS Biology Vol 2. issue 4 April 2004
4. John Boyd, " Destruction and Creation", 1976.
5. Larry Dunbar, private correspondence to Zenpundit:
"I see, vertical thought fills in the blank areas of the horizontal line that flows from the thinker. These blank areas contain the visions that the horizontal thinker “sees”. Once the areas are filled in, the vision or pathway is complete. Then we the vertical thinkers may walk the path of the horizontal thinkers. This would be kind of like an Autolisp program written for AutoCAD. The program would ask you the size, shape, and square distance of path, and the AutoCAD application would define and draw it for you. The application would be the vertical thinkers, and you, using the graphical interface of the computer, would be the horizontal thinker. The stepping-stones would be implicit laws that move the trail west
The Eide Neurolearning Blog
just happened to have a post on Novelty
up today with four research links for further investigation.
I had intended to put up Part III. of the Cognition series this evening but the Son of Zenpundit
desperately needs his elaboate birthday present assembled. So, instead, please check these fine, hand-selected, additions to the blogroll.Transatlantic IntelligencerSimon WorldRandom ProbabilitiesPeter Lavelle
UNDERSTANDING COGNITION: PART II. - BENEFITS OF VERTICAL THINKING TO HORIZONTAL THINKERS
Modern society is organized around Vertical thinking, a condition implicitly understood as far back in time as Adam Smith
,in his Wealth of Nations,
where he took note of the emergence of specialization
and division of labor
in manufacturing. Society is completely dependent upon highly specialized experts, spending their time working within relatively narrow domains
, to run a technocratic state and create products and services for an advanced information age economy.Howard Gardner
has written about two types of " extraordinairy minds
" that he calls " Masters" and " Makers". Masters are the Vertical thinking experts, they keep the system running and try to advance the knowledge base of their specialty. We literally have armies of them and though some are more adept than others, all are heads and shoulders above the average layman in terms of their command of information. Makers by contrast are relatively rare. They are the Horizontal thinking visionaries
- Gardner uses Freud as his archetype - who create new fields of endeavor and new paradigms with which to view the world.
Young children by default, as anyone who has listened to a pre-schooler describe a sudden realization knows, are natural Horizontal thinkers. For most of us, this capacity falls into disuse during years of formal schooling as we train our brains to organize and manipulate knowledge in terms of categories of vertical hierarchies. While virtually anyone can re-learn Horizontal thinking skills, some of us retain and develop Horizontal thinking to an unusual degree and become the great creative intellects of history. Such people, like Aristotle, Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton
, Thomas Jefferson
, Winston Churchill or Albert Einstein often either become accomplished in multiple fields or tend to revolutionize those in which they concentrate.
It is the true world-shaking,Horizontal thinking, visionaries who benefit most from the assistance of top level, Vertical thinking, experts. The Visionary sees lines of connection - a pattern or perhaps an overarching principle - across domains that not only eludes most experts but goes far beyond the Visionary's own disciplinary competence . Almost all great visionaries are also experts at something in particular - it is hard to have superior vision while operating without any reference points. They may not even be at the absolute top of their field - Einstein had his critics who condemned him on technical grounds, such as Schrodinger - but they see far beyond the normal constraints of their discipline.
The Vertical thinking experts measure the validity of the Horizontal thinker's conceptual vision by either testing it empirically or extrapolating or interpolating the concept to see if it
" fits" harmoniously within the existing Rule-set of the expert's field. If it does fit, the Vertical thinker usually can correct any mistaken aspects and take the concept far beyond what the Horizontal thinker had even realized to be possible.
It is this cognitive partnership that is driving human progress.
In Part III. we examine evidence that the combination of Horizontal and Vertical thinking is the catalyst of human insight.
UNDERSTANDING COGNITION: PART I. BENEFITS OF HORIZONTAL THINKING
Those who follow PNM theory already know that Dr. Thomas Barnett
is an advocate of Horizontal Thinking and dedicated a section of his first book, The Pentagon's New Map
, to that process which he entitled " How I Learned to Think Horizontally". Barnett credited this technique and outlook of mind with making him a global strategist and enabling him to develop PNM theory by seeing the interconnections.
Horizontal thinking is an extremely powerful tool. In fact, I will later argue in this series that it is the required catalyst for the generation of insight but Horizontal thinking alone won't do it in terms of cognition. Instead, Horizintal Thinking works best in conjunction with
"traditional "Vertical Thinking the way your right hand works with your left. Or as creativity theorist Edward DeBono
originally summarized the relationship:" Some people are unhappy about lateral thinking because they feel it threatens the validity of vertical thinking. This is not so at all. The two processes are complementary, not antagonistic. Lateral thinking enhances the effectiveness of vertical thinking by offering it more to select from. Vertical thinking multiplies the effectiveness of lateral thinking by making good use of the ideas generated ."
The unhappiness to which Dr. DeBono refers is a result of the nature of modern, Western, education which is designed, at the apex of the system, to develop people with rarified skill-sets and a very high degree of expertise, usually in an aspect of a subfield of a much larger discipline in say science, medicine, engineering or law. Practitioners take the broadest view when they are initially introduced to the general principles of their field but as their knowledge base deepens, vision narrows as the professional perspective shrinks to the most complex problem or leading edge of field knowledge.
At this stage there are relatively few people at this level with the competency to act as a peer or offer competing ideas or correct errors. The field's Rule-set which includes principles as well as habits of mind becomes for the high-level practitioner, a two edged sword. They define the expert but they also create a psychological frame that screens out much vital data from the expert's awareness - this is the educated incapacity
phenomenon decribed by Herman Kahn
. The expert actually becomes more efficient at ruling out possibilities, in light of the field's Rule-set, than in generating them. A frustrating cognitive trap that John Boyd
called " paralysis by analysis" where all potential moves are seen to have so many downsides that they become less attractive choices than remaining still.
Horizontal thinking can get the expert out of that mental cul-de-sac by setting aside analysis in favor of synthesis, intuitive pattern recognition, suspension of judgment, reversing/challenging premises, counterfactual thought experiments and brainstorming alternatives. These exercises are intended specifically to get he expert to look outside the confines of their field and into others in search of parallels and analogies. An important first step toward the realization that the field Rule-set is a tool and not - as is usually the case with experts - something to be regarded as an end in itself.
In Part II we examine how using Vertical Thinking helps the horizontal thinker.
1. De Bono, Edward Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step
, p. 50, Harper Perennial, 1970
A collection of good topics tonight:
The ubiquitous praktike
(who was kind enough to link here) on the limits of democracy promotion. Stuart Berman
gets down with a battle of the Toms - Barnett vs. Friedman
!( I think I hear Dr. Barnett wincing all the way from here).Dr. Demarche
on how unreasonable environmentalism kills African children
on the Mandarins of State and John Bolton
on machines that can read your state of mind
on the agony of Nepal
THE RUSSIA HOUSE [ UPDATED]
Brace yourself for a good deal of rubbish in the next few days regarding Putin's address
to the Russian people, particularly regarding his grandiosely ahistorical claim that the demise of the USSR was "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."
MSM psuedo-experts and talking heads are going to pop up next Sunday morning with Tim and George to engage in ominous, arm-waving, hysterics over that line.
It was a phrase designed to raise an emotional red flag ( pun intended) but at home, not in the West. It is dubious that Putin himself really believes that - at least to that extent - since if the USSR were still around he'd still be trying to recruit the local girlfriends of the Marine guards at the American Consulate in some Bulgarian backwater, instead of being President of Russia. There are millions of patriotic Russians who miss the days when their country was the feared superpower and they like to hear that kind of rhetoric from Putin.
Trust me, these quasi-nationalists are also the same people who used to tell jokes about Brezhnev being a walking corpse. These people don't want the Bolsheviks to come back, they want to stop feeling humiliated about the condition in which Russia finds itself. By speaking as he does, Putin sucks all the political air away from the extreme Right and the hardline Communists who would be waving the ultranationalist bloody shirt for all they were worth if they could. They can't though, so long as Putin is seen as a " respectable" outlet for conservative sentiments.
These Russians, muzhik-descended, second-generation urbanites, older for the most part and living in outlier cities and towns are Putin's equivalent of Nixon's " Silent Majority" and Putin plays to them in a similar way. The beneficial aspect in terms of American interests is that Putin prevents their radicalization with his blunt talk. The extremists on Russia's political margins on the right and left are a scary, anti-semitic, wildly anti-American and anti-capitalist bunch. We really don't want them riding a populist wave to power, we want to help Putin where he takes positive steps and help the real Russian liberals build truly credible, democratic, alternatives to authoritarian rule.
But get the U.S. to loudly push the case of the check-writing, " democratic", mafia Oligarchs and you can paint what is left of Russia red and brown.UPDATE:
The text of Putin's speech
IMPORTANT ADDENDUM TO THINKING STRATEGICALLY/SYSTEMICALLY [ UPDATED]Robin Burk
of Random Probabilities
and Winds of Change
had the following comment in regards to large-system analysis and design that I thought would be as of much interest to my readers as it was to me:"Speaking as someone who started in software engineering and is now working in decision analysis, I think you need to separate out several isses in large system design.First, there is the issue of causal feedback loops. That's what you're getting at when talking about "planning for success". This is the domain of systems dynamics modeling
.Systems dynamics modeling is highly regarded by many public policy analysts for the very good reason that it captures 2nd and 3rd order effects of decisions.However, many decision analysts will say that the difficulty with systems dynamics modeling is that for it to be predictive of system behavior you often have to be able to estimate various rates of change in key factors -- and that can be very difficult to do. However, it can be used to generate hypothetical best / worst / most likely scenarios, useful for diagnosing whether ones assumptions were on target.A different approach that is useful when thinking about complex systems is multiple objective decision analysis. This technique recognizes that hard problems are often hard because we have multiple objectives we want to achieve. MODA offers ways to identify those objectives, prioritize them and tie them to specific evaluation measures. Alternative system designs are then simulated or otherwise modeled to predict expected behavior on each evaluation measure and a resulting weighted value score identifies which alternative provides the best expected overall outcome. There are other steps in this process, including (very critically) analysis of the degree to which ones conclusions are sensitive to small changes in priorities.There's lots more that can be said about other disciplines as well. People who do decision analysis for mission-critical military and other systems are often members of INFORMS and (for military apps) MORS
. "MY COMMENTARY:
That was quite timely. These computer modelling techniques will also be helpful in drawing a clearer line between intelligence analysis and policy decision-making. Currently the border between the two domains tends to get fuzzed over as IC analysts and 1st-4th tier intelligence consumers often tend to rely upon similar mental " tools" for looking at data. In fact, some policy appointees have been, by training, world-class analysts in their own right. There really wasn't a whole lot the CIA was going to give George Schultz or Lawrence Summers, in terms of economic forecasts, that either man could not see on their own, without benefit of using a series of computer models to run scenarios as Robin suggested above.UPDATE:
reader who is a decision analyst
develops Robin's explanation further.
WINNER OF THE PUNDITA PRIZE !Zenpundit
has been honored as a winner of the Pundita Prize
for recent posts on Russia! I thank Pundita
for the award and pledge a continuing series on U.S.-Russian relations in the very near future. On a related note, I will also be doing a more limited, but unusually colorful,
series of posts on the dynamics of Horizontal and Vertical cognition for those aficinados of PNM Theory, so there may be less news of the day type posting this week unless the MSM offers up stories that are germane to one of these topics.
More to come.......
DARPA TRYING TO VACUUM THE BLOGOSPHEREArnaud de Borchgrave
reports that DARPA
has been tasked by the IC with running the blogosphere through a fine-tooth comb
in order to look for signs of terrorist communications and open source intelligence.
This raises the possibility that if you want to really inject your ideas into the USG hopper, don't write your Congressman, just post using as many sensitive keyword combinations as possible so that you will be red-flagged by the NSA system or some other agency's for actual human attention by an analyst. If you know enough about foreign policy or intelligence to create a
" hook" for a supercomputer, then you probably know enough to write something an intel guy would find interesting too.
THE NEW GREAT GAMESir Ignatius Valentine Chirol,
the newest member
of Coming Anarchy
, has begun a series on the potentialities of Turkic Central Asia entitled The Eastern Question Part I
. and Part II.
In Part II. Chirol noted:"To begin, it would be helpful to consider the unofficial border between the West and the East. The modern border between Croatia and Bosnia was long the frontier of Europe, separating Austria-Hungary from the Ottomans and also Christianity from Islam. Later after World War II, the line was pushed back to West Germany, Austria and Italy separating not culture and religion, but two ideologies. Today, in 2005, the border extends from Estonia almost directly south past Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia, a significant shift. And while overlapping EU members with NATO members creates the de facto border, it is a very porous one these days in terms of cultural and economic influence."
An timely observation. In the comments of section of Part I. at Coming Anarchy, I drew attention to the following possible dichotomy for Central Asia, Turkey and the West:"An interesting set of questions will be if Turkey can maintain its adherence to secularism or will grow more Islamist. Secondly if Turkish involvement will lead to a revival of "Pan-Turkism” and investment in the Turkish identity among the Turks or if a ” Pan-Turanism” is established that makes Turkey a synthesizing transmission belt of European and Western ideas to their cousins further East."
I'm less confident that Turkey's Westernization and secularism established by Ataturk
can completely avoid being eroded by creeping Islamism as the Turkish military recededs politically in favor of democratization. Particularly if Turkey, after jumping through a series of pride-injuring hoops, ends up being rebuffed for EU membership. I forsee a very, very, bad popular reaction in Turkey if that eventuallity should come to pass. It would be helpful, if the U.S. took some complementary moves to strengthen Turkey's identification as a member of the Core rather than leave the question entirely in the laps of the Europeans.
As for Central Asia there are six and soon to be seven or eight powers competing for influence in the next quarter century: Russia fearfully watching its " near abroad"; Turkey; Iran reaching toward Shiites and Dari-speakers; Saudi Arabia proselytizing Salafism in Sufi territory; the United States, seeking GWOT bases and oil and gas deals and the EU, seeking to expand the EU values model eastward. With their energy requirements, China and India will soon join in, jockeying for influence as well. That's a large number of 800 pound gorillas in a relatively small playground.
The United States needs to leverage a combination of players with congruent minimum goals in Central Asia that emphasize connectivity - a non-zero sum outcome for the West, Russia and China that shuts out Islamism and spurs liberalization, stability and markets.ADDENDUM: Zenpundit
wishes to welcome Coming Anarchy's newest partner, Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol
, to the blogosphere
Has his next installment - The EU and the Arabs IV -- War, Oil, EAD
-up....with an intriguing trio of sources !
TO THINK STRATEGICALLY YOU MUST THINK SYSTEMICALLY
Albert Einstein spent his later years grasping at a way to present a neat, comprehensive, unified theory of physics that could explain the nature of the universe. He did not succeed, no at that time could have, though some physicists believe they are on the right track to do so. Einstein's technique, viewing the whole field as a single interconnected system, remains the most valuable one for thinking strategically because it forces the strategist to consider the implications of each move from every angle. What do I mean by systemic thinking ? Some examples:Stuart Berman
has applied Dr. Barnett's
PNM theory to develop an analysis of internet security as a total system, asking in his presentation, if we are vulnerable to a " Cyber 9-11 "
. ( Take the time to view the powerpoint - the first part reviews PNM, the latter section applies it to cybersecurity) It's an appropriate question because we know that most states but most energetically China are experimenting with cyberwarfare as a way to balance the scales with the United States by gaining the capacity to " blind" the hyperadvanced, netcentric warfare
capabilities of the Pentagon. The Chinese have also launched cyberattack experiments against Taiwan
in turn has been examining the disconnect that occurs when the engineering of complex human systems takes place:
a) When the designers are far removed from the political decision makers
- a severing of vision from power.
b) When the designers do not take into account that the success of their system naturally is going to have consequences
, forseeable as well as unintended. Or as Pundita put it:"With hindsight, the decisions--taken without modeling how they would play out if successful--were idiotic. The knowledge about how to project scenarios was out there; it simply wasn't used. That's the kind of idiocy in government we can, and must, learn to avert. That is the greatest challenge for this era."
Herman Kahn would have agreed. And finally Pundita calls for the development of a formal discipline of large-scale system design
Some strategists have thought along these lines, notably Sun-Tzu
and his modern disciple John Boyd
, the father of the OODA decision cycle. For moderns this kind of thinking requires a retraining - perhaps causing a neural rewiring - of brains educated to habitually compartmentalize, isolate, deconstruct and analyze knowledge into vertical
hierarchies of information. What is needed is the horizontal
thinking exemplified by Barnett's PNM theory - synthesis, pattern recognition, analogies, intuition - to cut across the artificial boundaries we have raised for ourselves to see the connections and the overarching meta-principles that make the global system run.
Or break down.
THE RAMSHACKLE REGIME OF DR. BASHARThe Chicago Tribune
deserves kudos for investing in doing more in-depth reporting in the Mideast, running multi-page articles periodically, the latest being on Syria's opthamologist-dictator, Bashar Assad
. Reader's Digest version
- for an eye doctor, Bashar should see outcomes more clearly.
THE STRATEGIC CORPORALThe Adventures of Chester
has an excellent post on the Marines push to devolve mission initiative to the individual soldier.
Good excerpts and range of military issues including developing cognitive skills. Actually, the hypothesis being discussed, involving cultivation of " intuition" on the battlefield has validity in preliminary ( non-military) research. Check it out.
HIZB UT TAHRIR SENTENCES RADICAL LEFT BRITISH MP TO DEATH
Anti-American, anti-war activist, Saddam apologist and disgraced Labour MP George Galloway has been sentenced to death by the British wing of the radical Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir
Rich irony here, rich irony. Apparently Galloway's attempt to be recognized as a good dhimmi or fellow travelling America-hater, anti-imperialist or whatever image he was going for, didn't transliterate too well.
The mighty Fourth Rail holds forth at length on Mr. Galloway's predicament
THE RULE-SET RESET JUST WAS RESET !Easy come, easy go
I can't really blame Dr. Barnett too much given the number of irons in the fire he has going right now. Frankly, I couldn't deal with his daily email correspondence much less everything else he's doing in addition and commendably, Tom's putting his family first. Speaking as the father of two young children, I understand where he's coming from on this one.
Most likely, depending on how things shake out with RSR I will still contribute the occasional piece, if that fits what Critt has in mind now that Bob Jacobson is departing as publisher, but it sounds to be far more informal a venture now than before. I'm kind of left hanging with the research I've done for issue # 4, so I may use it here on my blog or perhaps work it up for an Ed. psych journal article instead. Or I'll drop it for now and get started on something I've wanted to write for HNN for a long time. Decisions, decisions.....
Again, I find myself behind the 8 ball in terms of time. There are some fine posts though that you should really take the time to look at:Dan at tdaxp
argues for a Post-Russia break up on the Federal District model
.Wretchard at The Belmont Club examines the Pentagon's new intelligence capabilities
. I'm all for this by the way. I'm also for the CIA further developing its own paramilitary prowess. Similar capabilities, different mission emphasis. Civilian intel will never collect the type of info on a priority basis that military commanders need and vice-versa.Marc Schulman at American Future on Historical illiteracy
.Ralph Luker at Cliopatriarch
on the moral reasoning of historians
- was Darwin really responsible for the Holocaust ??CKR at Whirledview
on New Nukes and Ambiguity.
DEBATING RUSSIA'S DISCORPORATION
Intriguing and perceptive observations were made by Dan of tdaxp
and CKR of Whirledview
in response to my "Weimar Russia"
post. Here is Dan on my worry of Russia breaking apart:"The one thing I would change is that Russia's disintegration does not have to be against our interest. So far it has been very positive.Since at least the early 1980s Moscow has been trading geopolitical power for working capital. Every step of this journey has freed nations from Moscow's grip and increased liberalization and connectivity with the "global" econony.From Eastern European countries having to raise international capital, to the fall of the Soviet Outer Empire in 1989, to the fall of the Soviet Inner Empire in 1991, to Georgia's, Moldvoa's. and Ukraine's recent realignments, we are winning. Even now, a free Ukraine is better than a Moscow-dominated Ukraine. As Russia falls the concern should be to connect the succssor states to us, not to save their connection with Moscow. "
CKR, addressed Dan's point as follows ( more on CKR 's other point later):"The problem is, Dan, that there is one gigantic lump of state that isn't going away. Let Chechnya and a few others of what the Soviet Union called autonomous republics go, and you'll still have an enormous state with enormous natural resources and strategic placement. And some of those will never be let go, because they're surrounded by...Russia.Whether Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will turn out "free" is still open. But I suspect that you don't care, as long as they are aligned with "the West." And geography is destiny there, too. That "West" is more likely to be Europe than the US. They can't pick up and move to Kansas."
Dan's connectivity observations regarding what we might call the first great centrifugal wave of nationalism that rocked the Soviet empire concerned true nation-states, all of which had previous experience with political independence, however briefly and long cultural histories. Georgian and Armenian historical memory stretch back to antiquity, the Ukranians to Kievan Rus, St. Cyril and Byzantine tutelage in Chritianity and civilization. A few of the original memnbers of the Commonwealth of Independent States like Belarus, Moldova and Tadjikstan have somewhat shakier national pedigrees but all of them outshine the potential aspirants of the second centrifugal wave battering Russia, of which the Chechens are but the cutting edge.
are debating the viability of small states, arguing in the main that the current world economic and political climate is more receptive to the survival of small polities. I agree provided the polities come with good governance - something I have grave doubts can be achieved by numerically tiny peoples like the Ossetians, Kalmyks, Mingrelians, Abkhazians who are little more than tribes yearning for flags, dominated politically by mafiya oligarchs and ex-Communist thugs.
Perhaps a free Tartarstan can make the grade, being larger and having oil but I don't forsee a Yakut, Daghestani or Ingush state anytime soon petitioning for admittance to the WTO. They simply aren't yet playing in the same civil society league that the Lithuanians were in in 1990 and at present the retreat of Russian power from these territories today is apt to spawn a constellation of failed states - a subsaharan Africa on the Caspian.
It isn't that these peoples are not entitled to democracy and connectivity, it's that the prospects of connecting them to the West are likely to be higher in reasonably-sized economic and political units that are not awash in complete anarchy.
I will deal with CKR's identification of the failure to implement a Russian Marshall Plan in the 1990's as one cause of today's problems in another post.
WEIMAR RUSSIA AND THE ABYSSPundita
had an excellent post on Russia
that I encourage you to look at that continues to elaborate on her DSSK theme. This post led me to read through her file cabinet on Russia and Ukraine
– more specifically, on American foreign policy toward those states. Pundita’s observations have a good deal of congruency with my views and with those of Soviet specialists like Tom Nichols
who has excoriated the last decade of State department bumbling in the states of the former Soviet Union. For those hoping for a reprise of the Orange Revolution in Moscow, Pundita offered this caveat:"America is now out there on the cutting edge, advocating democracy as a cure for the world's most deeply entrenched social ills. So the Democracy Stage Show Kit should be deployed with great caution and only when all other avenues have been exhausted. Whatever we gain at the moment from slapdash use of the kit is lost when disillusionment with faux democracy sets in.."
I am admittedly, an enthusiastic advocate of exporting democracy. And I have looked with dismay at the creeping authoritarianism in Russia under Vladmir Putin but before we contemplate giving his illiberal but semi- democratic regime a bump into modernity, we need to consider that right now Russia is teetering on the edge of an abyss. We need to pull them back to the Western camp, not shove them toward the precipice
That Russia stands peering over the edge is mostly the fault of the Russians themselves but if they topple in we cannot avoid having to deal with the resultant, very dangerous, mess. America needs Russia in the New Core and not as a member of the Gap. Russia as an embittered, revanchist, hypernationalist, rogue state or a disintegrating, strife-torn, " Yugo-Eurasia" would be a first class disaster for American national security. We need to put Putin and Russia in a a larger historical and cultural context if we are to understand how to help the Russians move in the direction of liberty and prosperity. First some hard truths:
First, few nations in the last three hundred years have suffered greater devastation or steeper decline in a shorter space of time than has Russia. The last century saw the loss of roughly 50 million Russians killed by war and Stalinist terror, only to see the extent of the Kremlin’s influence pushed back to the borders of Old Muscovy. For purposes of comparison, it would be like the United States suddenly reverting to the territory it held after the Lousiana Purchase. The potential for political extremism here is rife.
Putin is popular with ordinary Russians and the elite – both the corrupt oligarchs and the democratically-minded liberal intelligentsia – are not. Russians have always preferred a tough Vozhd – a " supreme leader" – who will " put shoes " on the petty tyrants who make their lives miserable. Back in 1843, the Marquis de Custine wrote in his Empire of the Czar: "There is a class of persons which corresponds to the citizen class among us, though without possessing the firmness of character derived from an independent position, and the experience obtained by means of liberty of thought and cultivation of mind: This is the class of subaltern employees or secondary nobility. The ideas of these men are generally turned toward innovations, whilst their acts are the most despotic that are committed in a despotism: this is the class which, in spite of the emperor, governs the empire" Little has changed. Russians favor the Tsar over the Boyar because the Tsar is far away.
Russia has little of value to sell the world except Soviet weaponry, nuclear technology, natural gas, oil and its good behavior. The higher the oil prices remain the stronger the position Putin will be in to push through desperately needed reforms.
The democratic alternative to Putin in the Duma is weak, divided and unpopular. The undemocratic alternative in the Duma is divided and unpopular but far from weak. In the provinces too, they are watching to see if Putin can clamp down on Chechnya. If he cannot, expect Russia to start unravelling as ethnic groups that few Americans have ever heard of go into revolt. This is one reason among many that Putin has reasserted Moscow’s administrative control over the governorships.
Putin has centralized military and intelligence agency powers directly in his own hands like no Russian leader since Joseph Stalin. Putin however, is no Stalin nor does he have the extent of control over the levers of coercion that Stalin had. The system is simply too corrupt to be reliable and for all the emphasis on Putin's KGB background, his actions indicate he trusts the SVR and FSB less than the Army.
I mention these things not because a democratic, free market, Westernized, Russia as a solid member of the Core is impossible but that we are confined to work within these realities to achieve it.
COMPETITION IN CYBERSPACE [ UPDATED]
One rap that liberal critics have had on the Bush administration is that they have been " anti-science ". I would say that deferring to the wackier religious right fringe on a few hot button social issues that are really scientific in nature and a narrow national security focus that sees power primarily in traditional military terms rather than also in the economic dimension, is a more accurate description.
Nonetheless, this myopia is going to hurt the U.S. economy in the long run if Bush administration policies regarding visas for foreign grad and doctoral students and biotech research are not modified or reversed. To that we must now add the realm of cyberspace where it is argued that U.S. is falling behind where we once blazed the trail.ADDENDUM: Stuart Berman
, a tech specialist, has a presentation in the works on globalization, Dr. Barnett's PNM theory and Cyber security
.UPDATE: TM Lutas
says Foreign affairs is economically illiterate
( Hat tip to Matt
in the comments)
IS CAPITALISM HARD-WIRED INTO OUR GENES ?
In the last few days I've been involved in some discussions on the Estate Tax at riting on the wall
and over at Brad DeLong's Semi Daily Journal
. I couldn't help but notice that the sound and fury of the debate exceeds the actual economic importance of the Estate Tax in practice by several orders of magnitude. Why does this particular tax, that is mostly avoided and yields on $ 18-30 billion annually, seem to ignite fervent debate ? ( Dave Schuyler
is firmly on the fence
on the Estate Tax, an exceptional position)
According to The Economist
, the answer might lie in our genes. Researchers are now offering the theory that Homo Sapiens won out in the Darwinian race with their seemingly physically superior
Neanderthal cousins because we engaged in trade and specialization
while Neanderthals did not. Homo Sapiens, in other words, used a Non-zero sum evolutionary strategy:
"One thing Homo sapiens does that Homo neanderthalensis shows no sign of having done is trade. The evidence suggests that such trade was going on even 40,000 years ago. Stone tools made of non-local materials, and sea-shell jewellery found far from the coast, are witnesses to long-distance exchanges. That Homo sapiens also practised division of labour and specialisation is suggested not only by the skilled nature of his craft work, but also by the fact that his dwellings had spaces apparently set aside for different uses. .......Initially, the researchers assumed that on average Neanderthals and modern humans had the same abilities for most of these attributes. They therefore set the values of those variables equal for both species. Only in the case of the trading and specialisation variables did they allow Homo sapiens an advantage: specifically, they assumed that the most efficient human hunters specialised in hunting, while bad hunters hung up their spears and made things such as clothes and tools instead. Hunters and craftsmen then traded with one another. According to the model, this arrangement resulted in everyone getting more meat, which drove up fertility and thus increased the population. Since the supply of meat was finite, that left less for Neanderthals, and their population declined. A computer model was probably not necessary to arrive at this conclusion. But what the model does suggest, which is not self-evident, is how rapidly such a decline might take place. Depending on the numbers plugged in, Neanderthals become extinct between 2,500 and 30,000 years after the two species begin competing—a range that nicely brackets reality. Moreover, in the model, the presence of a trading economy in the modern human population can result in the extermination of Neanderthals even if the latter are at an advantage in traditional biological attributes, such as hunting ability. "
Perhaps socialism really does go against human nature.
AN HONEST ACCOUNTING OF THE SCOPE OF TERRORISMLarry Johnson
of the Counterterrorism Blog
reports that the methodology to count terrorist acts used by the new National Counterterrorism Center
- where they actually count terrorist acts instead of ignoring some and counting others - has the Department of State squirming
. Not wanting to take the political hit on ending the decades old, bipartisan, practice of undercounting terror, State may simply not publish an unclassified copy of its Patterns of Global Terrorism
this year. The data reflects poorly upon Pakistan in particular:"This move has been prompted by the Department's discovery that the new methodology used by the recently formed National Counter Terrorism Center has produced statistics that shows an enormous jump in the number of international terrorist attacks. For example, in 2003 there were about 172 significant attacks. The numbers for 2004 have jumped to at least 655. At least 300 of those incidents occurred in India in the Kashmir region. "
While the average American is more likely to be hit by lightning than killed by an al Qaida terrorist, we have done ourselves no favors by pretending that some of our friends and allies are not enablers of terror. Like the Detente years where you were scolded by sophisticated elites if you brought up the fact that the Soviets were torturing dissidents in mental hospitals, our cowardly pretense has aggravated the problem by emboldening our enemies and demoralizing our real friends in the Muslim world.
ARAB REFORM BULLETIN
I hadn't been aware of it until today but The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
publishes an Arab Reform Bulletin
with various scholars, journalists, government officials and NGO types contributing roughly blog post length vignettes on the MENA region. Better quality stuff than what's usually in the MSM but some of the authors are coming to the table with more of an agenda than others. The Bulletin is also published in an Arabic version
Also up at Carnegie is a commentary on Arab " transformation"
by Amr Hamzawy
, who judging from his use of a passive voice " the collapse of the Baath regime in Iraq
" ( collapse hell, the U.S. military came in and bulldozed the Iraqi state until it disintegrated) is loath to credit the Bush administration even with removing Saddam. Hamzawy nonetheless has some useful observations to make in surveying democratization and reform.
A MEXICAN STANDOFF WITH THE FRENCH OVER SOME CHINESE [UPDATED]
A trio of blogfriends have been covering some important regions of the world:Pundita
has run a series on Mexico dealing with economy
, migration and terroristas
and then replied to Dave on the latter
had his third installment of The EU and the Arabs
plus the desperation of French elites on the " anti-Anglo-Saxon" EU constitution.Dave Schuyler
on the underreported demographic time bomb " Graying China".UPDATE: Jonathan Dresner, a Japan specialist at Cliopatria, gives us the historical perspective on Japan's bid for a seat on the Security Council and why other Asian states oppose it. Meanwhile, Jodi of The Asia Pages, has wrangled herself a presentation slot at the APEC summit ! You go girl !
SKINNING A CAT FROM THE INSIDE OUT: DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO PREDICTIVE ANALYSIS
A post at the Armchair Generalist
and a new article up at Scientific American set up an excellent juxtaposition in terms of analytical methodology to predict potential outcomes.
The Armchair Generalist
was reviewing a laudatory article about INR
, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research
. At the conclusion of his post, AG asks:“It's an interesting comparison between the CIA and the INR, and it makes you wonder why the CIA persists in hiring young (and cheap) analysts without much foreign service or technical experience, as opposed to the INR's efforts to recruit and retain seasoned veterans”
The virtues of the INR type of analyst – and they are considerable in my view – are also a reason for the CIA to recruit and train analysts of a different kind ( though moving CIA analysts around to different fields as frequently as the article indicates is not a requirement for this different perspective). INR analytical expertise epitomizes the field depth and vertical thinking model.
Having mastered the language and spent considerable time “in-country” in the foreign service, if they have spent enough time among ordinary folk as well as elites to internalize some aspects of their cultural rule-set, an INR specialist will have several advantages. First, true language fluency shapes thought and gives the analyst insight into the mental architecture that frames the perspective of the target state’s decision makers. Stepping into their shoes becomes easier when faced with incomplete information. Secondly, in terms of pattern recognition – fitting new data into the mosaic is easier because the INR analyst has a greater sum total of the mosaic in their head – something one of my old profs liked to call the advantage of having “a bigger cognitive map”. Or, to excerpt from the article:“And while the CIA's young analysts occasionally travel to their countries of responsibility and bone up by reading at their desk, they have little first-hand experience of their regions. INR couldn't be more different. Among the civil servants who make up two-thirds of its staff are many scholars lured out of the academy who come with years of knowledge. Fingar is one of them: He spent a decade-and-a-half as a scholar at Stanford's U.S.-China relations program, speaks fluent Mandarin, and has traveled widely in China. The other third of INR's staff are Foreign Service officers rotating through who usually have spent several diplomatic tours in the country or region they are focusing on at INR, and who thus have both a reservoir of knowledge about its personalities and history, and a deep well of personal contacts.”
The drawback of course to relying solely upon upon intuitive judgment calls of experts is “ educated incapacity
” where “…The more expert—or at least the more educated—a person is, the less likely that person is to see a solution when it is not within the framework in which he or she was taught to think. When a possibility comes up that is ruled out by the accepted framework, an expert—or well-educated individual—is often less likely to see it than an amateur without the confining framework”. This intrinsic blind spot may explain why well designed Bayesian Probability analysis often proves to be more accurate in predicting outcomes than an expert’s forecast. There is also the danger of an expert “ buying in” to the status quo upon which their expertise is based and reacting with hostility to a hypothesis or a strategy that contemplates radical change – case in point, the Sovietologists on both ends of the political spectrum who missed seeing the USSR’s imminent collapse. This is one reason to train CIA analysts differently, so that their biases are not in sync with the folks at INR.
This brings me to an article up at Scientific American advocating a flexible combination
of the use of scenarios
and computer modeling as an analytical base to deal with a concept they call “ Deep Uncertainty”. The authors are geared toward climate modeling but the premise would also apply to complex human systems equally well ( assuming of course that the mathematicians and software designers were to get cracking):“The three of us--an economist, a physicist and a computer scientist all working in RAND's Pardee Center--have been fundamentally rethinking the role of analysis. We have constructed rigorous, systematic methods for dealing with deep uncertainty. The basic idea is to liberate ourselves from the need for precise prediction by using the computer to help frame strategies that work well over a very wide range of plausible futures. Rather than seeking to eliminate uncertainty, we highlight it and then find ways to manage it……Our approach is to look not for optimal strategies but for robust ones. A robust strategy performs well when compared with the alternatives across a wide range of plausible futures. It need not be the optimal strategy in any future; it will, however, yield satisfactory outcomes in both easy-to-envision futures and hard-to-anticipate contingencies…In contrast, for robust decision making the computer is integral to the reasoning process. It stress-tests candidate strategies, searching for plausible scenarios that could defeat them. Robust decision making interactively combines the complementary abilities of humans and machines. People excel at seeking patterns, drawing inferences and framing new questions. But they can fail to recognize inconvenient facts and can lose track of how long chains of causes relate to effects. The machine ensures that all claims about strategies are consistent with the data and can reveal scenarios that challenge people's cherished assumptions. No strategy is completely immune to uncertainty, but the computer helps decision makers exploit whatever information they do have to make choices that can endure a wide range of trends and surprises.”
This approach would seem to be, at a minimum, complementary to the expert driven analysis at INR and the multi-field analytical model used at the CIA. It could also greatly enhance strategic planning for initiating or defending against system perturbation
SHORT BUT SWEET
More blogging this evening, assuming Blogger is functioning, but in the interim a couple of things caught my eye:Dan " the Man"
has been noted by Slate
for his criticism of Juan Cole's riff on nation-states.Geitner Simmons
has an anti-terrorism think tank
in his own backyard !
NEGROPONTE RECEIVES INDICATIONS OF STRONG BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
National Intelligence Director-designate, Ambassador John Negroponte pledged to reform the Intelligence Community
even as senior Democrats urged Negroponte to assert his authority over the IC
as quickly as possible.
Leftists and human rights activists had opposed Negroponte's nomination due to his role during the Reagan administration implementing anti-communist U.S. policy in Central America that centered upon defeating Communist insurgencies in El Salvador and Honduras and overthrowing the pro-Soviet, Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. Negroponte proved to be an able field operative as well as a policy hardliner in Honduras
, well to the right of his fellow State Department colleagues.
Democrats appear to be disinclined to pursue these avenues of inquiry, perhaps in the hopes that Negroponte has the credibility in the IC and the ruthlessness to ram through Intelligence reforms over the objections of Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon bureaucracy.
THE OTHER HAMILTONIANS
I had a very pleasant exchange of email with Pundita
the other day on the topic of
“ Hamiltonian Realism”, some of which she was kind enough to post on her blog. The discussion had been sparked by the initial flurry of reviews of her “ Democracy Stage Show Kit
” essay that appeared here
as well as at Flit™, The American Future
and of course, at the Glittering Eye.
Initially, Pundita had taken umbrage at my description of her as a “ Hamiltonian Realist
” based upon Dave Schuyler’s insightful review
of the foreign policy taxonomy of Walter Russell Mead’s American Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World
. However, I had not been thinking so much about foreign policy after reading Pundita’s DSSK but about political theory and the nature of democracy.Alexander Hamilton’s
achievements as America’s first Secretary of the Treasury are well known, without Hamilton’s successful management of the national debt the United States might have foundered as a Republic long before 1861. His advocacy of modern central banking, internal improvements, an emphasis upon mercantile trade and manufacturing and a strong Federal role in promoting economic growth would seem to make Hamilton the economic nationalist that Mead postulated.
That however is only part of the picture. Hamilton was not only an astute political economist but he also ranks as a philosopher of government on par with James Madison
and John Adams
. It was Alexander Hamilton, as the motive force behind the Federalist Papers
and as a close adviser to President Washington, who fleshed out our current understanding of Madison’s Constitution – particularly in terms of separation of powers and the role of the executive branch.
Madison and Hamilton, both men deeply influenced by Montesquieu
, were not utopians in regards to human nature and government or the relationship between rulers and ruled. They were skeptics, building a governmental structure designed to work with men as they really are instead of how revolutionaries might wish them to be:“But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
Hamilton and Madison saw their fellow men with a clear eye and their solution was not to make a government that would be mankind’s master but to create a system of government that would possibly allow the mastering of the worst excesses of men’s passions. They were, unlike Tom Paine and Patrick Henry, ardent realists about democratic and republican government.
It was in this sense of supporting free government while acknowledging the role of interests and factions that led me to call Pundita a “ Hamiltonian” – which probably complements rather than contradicts a “ neo-Jacksonian” stance in foreign policy as described by Mead.Addendum:
An apology is in order for my having referred to Walter McDougall
, author of Promised Land, Crusader State
, as " Robert" McDougall in my email to Pundita. My apologies to Dr. McDougall and to Pundita.
THE COGNITIVE BIAS OF HINDSIGHT IN EVALUATING INTELLIGENCE FAILURES ( DOUBLE UPDATE)
"Overseers of intelligence production who conduct postmortem analyses of an intelligence failure normally judge that events were more readily foreseeable than was in fact the case"
An important consideration for anyone deeply involved in the ongoing assessment of intelligence community failures in regard to Iraq or the GWOT is the concept of Hindsight Analysis. When an ex post facto critic engages in review of intelligence analysis without being aware of the operation of this cognitive bias their own assumptions about what may have been possible, discernable or " dot- connected" can be terribly distorted.
Ominously, being aware of this effect causes IC analysts to practice CYA in intelligence assessments first and foremost so that angry Congressman and pundits, enveloped in hindsight bias, cannot destroy their careeers or agency budgets. Thus, out of self-preservation, the IC tends to promote policy paralysis, monitoring of the status quo and studied ambiguity in its assessments combined with vague but broad warnings of disaster.
Being trained as a historian I've long been aware of this psychological effect - professional hazard as it were - but it is an extremely difficult concept to get across to other people due to the self-referential nature of hindsight. The CIA it seems, long ago did a very good journal article on this effect in Studies in Intelligence
Well worth your time to read as you dive into the reports of various Commissions.
* Heuer, Richard J. " Cognitive Biases: Problems in Hindsight Analysis", Studies in Intelligence
, vol. 22, no. 2 (Summer 1978), pp 21-28.UPDATE:
Matt of Verisimilitude tackles Bayesian Probability analysis
. Incidentally, there's a Studies in Intelligence article on this one
too.UPDATE II: Pundita examines a bias of a somewhat different kind.
GOING CLEAN FOR DEAN?Professor Bainbridge
points to a Pew survey that indicates the Deaniacs first brush with working on a political campaign was most like for Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern
Consider the degree to which the MSM misrepresented the Deaniacs as internet-savvy, twenty-five year old, political neophytes hooking up at campaign rallies during the primaries and you understand why much of the blogosphere views them as incompetent and biased.
(hat tip to The Flaming Duck
KEPEL: " JIHAD HAS FAILED"Collounsbury's
favorite Arabist, Gilles Kepel
, was in the news recently for his lecture " The War of Muslim Minds" where he argued that 9/11 represented a tremendous failure for al Qaida
because it did not ignite widespread insurgency and provided the neocons with a pretext to attack ME nations. Hat tip to Robert Spencer, who slams Kepel in a post on Jihad Watch
Kepel does seem to be recycling - at least as I read it third hand - a lot of the popular, leftist, misconceptions about neoconservatism, not unlike what you might hear from Juan Cole
on the topic. A good rebuttal to this kind of conspiratorial boilerplate can be found here
( hat tip Milt's File
IF ACCURATE, THIS WOULD SEEM TO BE EXTREMELY DUMB
I cannot vouch for this site beyond it being recommended by Counterterrorism Blog
but I found this report to be very disturbing
. Have to watch and see how it pans out.
FORGING A NEW COUNTERINTELLIGENCE CAPABILITY
and the newly established Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive
) just released the new National Counterintelligence Strategy of the United States
. Of all the domains that come under the rubric of " Intelligence" none have been historically more beset by controversy and bureaucratic infighting than Counterintelligence operations.
From the days of the OSS
to the CIA CI program under James Jesus Angleton
to the Aldrich Ames
and Robert Hanssen
spy scandals, considerable, even paranoid, CI procedures failed to stem the tide of Soviet penetration of America's intelligence community. The operational need to practice compartmentalization within the IC to limit the damage caused by Soviet moles combined by CIA - FBI rivalry, left the CI community badly fractured institutionally and to a considerable extent, blind compared to the perspective of their KGB opponents. The fall of the USSR did not result in a relaxation of compartmentalization within the IC to acheive greater CI security, instead security procedures were themselves relaxed in response to the political perception of diminishmed threat. In short, by September 11, 2001 American Counterintelligence had probably reached its nadir.
Fortunately, the Bush administration is taking steps in the right direction with the NCIX, though these steps should be, in my view, a preliminary transition
to an institution with a more formidible national CI capability. Policy changes underway include:
- Proactive Posture: The NCIX will seek to disrupt foreign systems - " neutralize and exploit" in their words - and are correctly viewing the problem as not merely formal intelligence services but also NGO entities like transnational criminal and terror organizations that are now exhibiting intelligence tradecraft. This will force opponents to drain away their relatively more limited resources and get the US " inside their decision cycle".
- Recognition of the Importance of Economic Espionage: The Soviets, Romanians and East Germans stole a lot of technology during the Cold War. While troubling, the Soviet bloc was falling so far behind by 1989 that the Russians reached a point where they lacked the ability to even effectively apply the knowledge they had stolen. Their vacumn cleaner approach also left them suceptible to ruinously expensive disinformation programs. Nor could the Soviets use their stolen goods to become stronger commercial rivals of the United States. Today " 90 countries target sensitive US technologies " seeking a free ride on our proprietary R&D investments to enhance their market share as much as to develop their military prowess.
- Emphasis on CI Analytical Products: Developing an institutional analytical capability from a counterintelligence perspective that becomes a standard part of the policy maker's intel consumption will help mitigate the spread of disinformation, manipulation, stovepiping and old-fashioned " spin. It is a very healthy check and balance and one I would hope is kept separate from being thrown in and watered down in IC consensus documents.
Suggestions for Further Reforms:
Looking at what seems to be a very good start to remediating long-standing, decades-old, institutional culture and operational problems there are some areas that I would like to see aggressively developed. The Bush administration really has only about two years to ram through dramatic CI changes that can stick and take on a life of their own before everyone's eye shifts to 2008. Priorities must be decided upon so I've selected two:
Counter Foreign Strategic Influence in the American Political Process:
One of the useful media contributions during the series of Clinton fundraising scandals was highlighting the degree to which foreign entities, including agents of unfriendly regimes, transnational gangs and various shadowy operators solicited influence in the American political process. Given the preponderant influence in world affairs possessed by the USG and our multiplicity of interests across the globe, a " stakeholder" mentality has developed in the minds of foreign governments, corporations, political movements where they deem it vital to influence our leaders directly, openly or in secret. None of this is going away and it is going to creep further and further down the " political food chain" as foreign entities target rising young politicians of both parties for cultivation.
Establish a Foreign Counterintelligence Agency:
What CI needs is an independent and standardized operational capability to " go on the offensive" abroad in terms of network disruption at their " source" and to become an institutional center to develop and implement CI tradecraft. NCIX is a major step forward but it lacks ( at least as I am reading it) true operational authorities and to the extent that NCIX can corral,cajorle and coordinate operational teams from the CIA, DIA, FBI and other agencies they are draining away assets from those agencies.
Secondly, as a practical matter establishing a foreign CI agency avoids the hair-raising political brawl over trying to establish a domestic counterpart with the attendent constitutional and legal implications. While we need something on the domestic side of the ledger it is better to work out the kinks overseas and identify some of problems to be avoided before attempting the much more delicate task of fitting CI into an open society.
ADDENDUM: I intended to link to this yesterday but Blogger being Blogger was unusable last night - check out Whirledview's deconstruction of the Silberman Report.
THE GOP PLAYING THE KETTLE TO PAUL KRUGMAN'S POT
Since this post may irritate my more liberally inclined readers let me first state that Paul Krugman's point about the " Flat Earth " anti-Science faction in the Republican Party being exceptionally damaging to the image of the GOP and national policy is a valid one. Admittedly, there are some highly-placed people in my party who see public virtue or cynical advantage in promoting ignorance and authoritarian social policy. Unless these psuedo-religious wingnuts are reined in by the Karl Rove types or the libertarian wing of the Republican party regains enough of a voice to provide some balance in intraparty debates, I'm pretty sure these jackasses will manage to alienate enough voters within two election cycles to lose at least one house of Congress to the Left. Maybe even the presidency in 2008.
Where Krugman fails is where he usually does,in imagining negative characteristics to be a monopoly of the right side of the spectrum. In "An Aademic Question
" Krugman basically argues that conservatism is now intrinsically opposed to scientific thought and that the monolithic domination of American universities by the Left is simply a natural order of things. James Miller at TCS
and Lubos Motl
have issued rebuttals to Krugman's more ineptly reasoned points but I wanted to highlight the lacuna that is driving Paul Krugman's argument."Conservatives should be worried by the alienation of the universities; they should at least wonder if some of the fault lies not in the professors, but in themselves. Instead, they're seeking a Lysenkoist solution that would have politics determine courses' content. And it wouldn't just be a matter of demanding that historians play down the role of slavery in early America, or that economists give the macroeconomic theories of Friedrich Hayek as much respect as those of John Maynard Keynes"
The question is not whether or not Friedrich Hayek should be put on a pedastal on par with Lord Keynes but whether a freshman can graduate from a first rate university without ever hearing Hayek's name or that of equivalent figures whose ideas and actions have had a deep impact on the affairs of the 20th century. They can and that's the crux of the problem, an intellectual cleansing of university programs of ideas, thinkers and points of view that most irritate politically active leftists.
Politics have determined the course content at most major universities. Politics have driven out the required canon, instituted grade inflation, established fuzzy " studies" programs that are often sinecures for race and gender socialists, defunded traditional history fields, established speech codes and put white males at a disadvantage in the hiring process.
It has been politics from one direction up until now. No, students suing professors isn't the solution but leaving university policy in the hands of people like Paul Krugman isn't the answer either.
Two winners tonight.Dan the Man
has several posts up in his " Doctrine
" section that I liked, particularly " Definition of 4GW
"and " Mao's 3 Stages of 4GW
" plus an homage post to John Boyd featuring Boyd's definition of character "To be or to do"
.Dr. Demarche celebrates the new border realism
emerging at the White House.
A CRITIQUE OF PNM AS A POLICY MOVEMENT
While I was lazing on a beach last week, Dave Schuyler put out a typically thoughtful post called
" Narratives, tribes, and The Pentagon's New Map
" on how PNM theory needs to make inroads amongst core foreign policy-political groupings in order to succeed. With the second book by Dr. Barnett, A Blueprint for Action
, cruising toward completion and realease, this was a timely discussion to begin."I've written before that I believe that the single most significant failing of the Bush Administration is its inability (or unwillingness) to communicate clearly with the American people. And I agree with Robert Reich (registration required or use BugMeNot) that, in order to communicate effectively, politicians need to frame the explanations of policies that they propose in terms of narratives that make sense to most Americans.This isn't just true for the Administration, of course. It's true for the Democrats (as Reich points out) and it's true for Thomas Barnett. If he really wants to get the American people on board with his Pentagon's New Map approach to, as he puts it, “creating a future worth living in”, he needs to frame his arguments in terms of the actual points-of-view that have had historical force in constructing American foreign policy. Barnett clearly recognizes that himself when he writes: Because until the Bush Administration describes that future worth creating in terms ordinary people and the rest of the world can understand, we will continue to lose support at home and abroad for the great task that lies ahead
.Communication begins at home and so far he appears to have been preaching to the choir: Wilsonians. But he notes something interesting in The Pentagon's New Map in the correspondence he's received on his Esquire article that formed the basis for his book: The first basic response I would locate on the left, or liberal, end of the political spectrum. What these people are most upset about is the notion that the U. S. military is clearly headed toward “perpetual war” all over the Gap, which in their minds will only make things worse there. They advocate a sort of Hippocratic “do no harm” approach that readily admits that the Core is largely to blame for the Gap's continuing misery and therefore should rescue those in pain, but do so primarily through state-based foreign aid and private charities. That's not a characteristic Wilsonian view. A true Wilsonian would have no problem with the use of force to “make the world safe for democracy” so long as we played by the rules. In my estimate that's why those who have expressed such outrage at the issues of detention of illegal combatants, torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, and extraordinary rendition (assuming they're sincere in their concern and not merely using these issues as stalking horses for opposition to the Administration or opposition to war per se) have reacted as they have. But, without putting words into Barnett's mouth, holding illegal combatants indefinitely without trial or counsel and the torture of prisoners (and extraordinary rendition) are not inconsistent with the “different rule-sets in the Core than those in the Gap” approach that he's advocating. Those who hold this view (quoted above) would appear to believe that there is neither Core nor Gap but just one big Kantian parousia already in which case he has a major sales job ahead of him. It might be reasonably contended that this view has no particular influence over current policies and can be discounted. The problem here is that this view does appear to have substantial support among Democratic Party activists. If Barnett is going to develop real bi-partisan support for his PNM, this point-of-view must either be converted or marginalized. And without such support there's no practical likelihood for maintaining the policy over the long period of time that will be necessaryWilsonians like Barnett would appear to be best situated for critiquing the Kantian one-worlders by couching their critique in the language of morality and holding their feet to the fire for moral turpitude. We haven't seen nearly enough of that kind of critique so far. "I think Dave is dead on with the compelling moral power that can be marshalled by the advocates of PNM against the shills for the foreign despot of the day. PNM strategy is also potentially more appealing than Stabilitarian- Realist or Neoconservative foreign policy visions because PNM 's desire to " shrink the Gap"contains both a measure of altruism and a preference for non-zero sum outcomes.
The trick here of course is that in these debates there are always two audiences - the relatively small elite of foreign policy, national security, intelligence and defense intellectuals who are the system's insiders. In the second group is everyone else who form the outsiders. The second group lacks expertise possessed by the first group but not the power because "the outsiders" also includes most of Congress and the media punditocracy.
Insiders are most frequently Stabilitarian-Realists and Dovish internationalists who are unswayed by moral arguments as an impetus to American military intervention. The response of the Clinton State Department to acts of genocide, for example, was to prohibit State Department officials from uttering the word " genocide". Problem solved, in their view.
These sorts of people are swayed only by practical political arguments - primarily that action is urgently needed in order to prevent politically embarrassing defeats for the United States - and in particular - defeats that would tarnish their own elite careers. Give them that and heaven and earth will move.
Outsiders may have a variety of positions on foreign policy but their status as " outsiders" and less familiarity with the gritty details of foreign affairs permits them the luxury of idealism. Moral arguments resonate here because complex knowledge bases are not required to look upon a situation abroad and recoil in horror.
PNM will be an effective strategy for the United States because it is Good.
PNM is a good strategy for the United States because it will be Effective
. This is the equation that must be embraced.