Tuesday, February 28, 2006

If you ever wonder why Republicans and conservatives have an almost pathological, knee-jerk loathing of the MSM and continue to complain of liberal bias long after the rise of talk radio, FOXnews and the blogosphere, this is it.

It is however, fun to catch them at it just as the news cycle gets going.
Monday, February 27, 2006

My book buying, which is now beyond all sensible bounds, has led me to pick up Admiral Stansfield Turner's new Burn Before Reading: Presidents, CIA Directors And Secret Intelligence and I find I like Admiral Turner far more as a popular historian and commentator on Intelligence than I liked him as DCI. While I am familiar with most of the stories Turner is relating, in every case he throws in some nuggets that I have never heard before; I guess being a former DCI opens a lot of doors when you are researching a book. Moreover his personal observations on the historical figures that Turner knew or worked alongside are illuminating in themselves.

On a related note, I direct your attention toward " Improving CIA Analytic Performance: Analysts and the Policymaking Process" from the Sherman Kent Center For Intelligence Analysis. Short but worthwhile read.
Sunday, February 26, 2006

As with a stone tumbling down a hill that inexorably sets off an avalanche, there are some words that once spoken cannot be recalled and lead to the most profound of changes. Oftentimes beyond what the speaker had intended.

Fifty years ago, First Secretary Nikita Sergeievitch Khrushchev strode to the podium of the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the mighty Soviet Union. Gathered there were the elite of the great Communist empire, now a nuclear superpower like capitalist America. Khrushchev had established his primacy in the Politburo's "collective leadership" after Stalin's death by de-fanging the dead dictator's dreaded security appratus, the NKVD, executing its master Lavrenty Beria and demoting it from a ministry to a mere " state committee", tightly supervised by the CPSU Central Committee. He was not without rivals either at home or abroad where Mao ZeDong felt little need to defer to Khrushchev as he once had to his " elder brother" in revolution, Joseph Stalin.

Let us not romanticize Nikita Khrushchev. He was an extremely brutal man who needed an exceptional ruthlessness and cunning to have reached and survived at the pinnacle of the Stalinist system for as long as he did. Moreover, all of his Politburo rivals were, like himself, hardened Stalinists and seasoned mass-murderers who signed the same grim death-lists and arrest warrants that the dictator had put before them time and again, containing even their own colleagues, friends, relatives and even their wives and children. The stakes in Soviet politics at that time resembled nothing so much as the Roman empire in the days of Caligula or Domitian.

Yet Khrushchev made a speech - " the secret speech" - that shattered the ideological foundations of the Soviet system but briefly reconnected the regime on a moral level with the Russian people. The audience in the hall was in shock - it was as if the new Communist Pope had just condemned his predecessor as the Antichrist before the College of Cardinals:

"The vicious practice was condoned of having the NKVD prepare lists of persons whose cases were under the jurisdiction of the Military Collegium and whose sentences were prepared in advance. Yezhov would send these [execution] lists to Stalin personally for his approval of the proposed punishment. In 1937-1938, 383 such lists containing the names of many thousands of Party, Soviet, Komsomol, Army, and economic workers were sent to Stalin. He approved these lists.

A large part of these cases are being reviewed now. A great many are being voided because they were baseless and falsified. Suffice it to say that from 1954 to the present time the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court has rehabilitated 7,679 persons, many of whom have been rehabilitated posthumously.

Mass arrests of Party, Soviet, economic and military workers caused tremendous harm to our country and to the cause of socialist advancement.

Mass repressions had a negative influence on the moral-political condition of the Party, created a situation of uncertainty, contributed to the spreading of unhealthy suspicion, and sowed distrust among Communists. All sorts of slanderers and careerists were active. "

Khrushchev did not list all of Stalin's crimes, not by half. Nor did he dwell on his own crimes or those of the delegates in the hall who loyally and probably enthusiastically helped carry out their share of the Great Terror the way Nazi functionaries carried out the Holocaust. But he did empty the slave labor camps and restrict the machinery of terror. He even allowed some criticism to see the light of day, permitting Novy Mir to publish Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Khrushchev paid for that and for other things at the hands of Brezhnev, Kosygin and Suslov, the last being Stalin's only remaining Politburo member to cling to power into the 1980's and who was one of the authors of the calamitous invasion of Afghanistan.

Such frank words though did not come again until thirty years later, at the tail end of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika campaign, when the truth in them unravelled the fabric of the Soviet Union itself.


Orange Revolution

NYT Taubman Op-Ed



Edge Perspectives with John Hagel - "The Real Significance of the Dubai Ports Controversy"

Top billing post. I have to say that despite my hardline views on the War on Terror, the recent furor over our ports management and Dubai Ports World has left me totally unimpressed and Mr. Hagel here explains why. I'm also intrigued by his reference to "...We suggested that public policy in many different domains should be reassessed in terms of implications for accelerating talent development " as a general operating concept. This pursuit of niche dominance would be the natural national strategy for a market-state world, especially for smaller powers like Singapore which is currently devoting itself to becoming a world leader in biotech research.

The Eide Neurolearning Blog - "King of Charts: Visual Thinking with Diagrams"

From the post title I almost expected that the Drs. Eide might have discovered tdaxp ;o)

I liked this post not merely for the substantive links, of which there were many, but the quote here that drives home the proper use of diagrams in teaching or communication - which if more people were consciously aware of we'd have shorter, better designed, more effective lectures, business presentations and policy briefs:

"The authors add, "diagrams reduce memory load and cognitive effort by computational offloading. Self-explaining is a challenging activity that many learners do not engage in spontaneously. Diagrams free the limited resources of learners to engage in meaning-making activities. Diagrams limit abstraction and aid processibility by restricting the learners' interpretation of the situation"

Bingo. The diagram isn't just an illustration or a transmitter of concepts but it sets the parameters for your thought process and reduces tangential errors.

Curtis Gale Weeks at Phatic Communion -" Murder I Wrote"

Curtis likes long, comprehensive, posts that consider a wide range of variables and perspectives but his musings here on comparative ideological paradigms, he arrived at a profound observation:

"One last note: I do not know that we should be more afraid of the totalitarian, linear, static system than the complex, chaotic, dynamic system — or, the other way around. BYF’s implication, and one notion circling all of the above ideas, is that ideologies because they are straight lines are far more dangerous, potentially, that pluralistic or diffuse and complex systems. The Jihadists follow the straight-and-narrow (we think) in their advocacy of death, but in America, murder “just happens” or emerges from the general chaos. Which is more frightening? Which is more predictable? "

That was good. Additional questions would be " Which model is more psychologically attractive ?" and " Which better reflects reality ? "

That's it.
Friday, February 24, 2006

Matt at Mountainrunner has dug deeply into 4GW theory and found it to be wanting:

"Fourth Generation War theory relies on the readers to assume the state is the political actor. This stems from Martin van Creveld and Lind's erroneous assumption of Clausewitz.

Let's look for a moment at the "not merely how war is fought, but who fights and what they fight for" statement. Consider Martin van Creveld's "Through a Glass Darkly":

To sum up, the roughly three-hundred-year period in which war was associated primarily with the type of political organization known as the state -- first in Europe, and then, with its expansion, in other parts of the globe as well -- seems to be coming to an end. If the last fifty years or so provide any guide, future wars will be overwhelmingly of the type known, however inaccurately, as "low intensity". Both organizationally and in terms of the equipment at their disposal, the armed forces of the world will have to adjust themselves to this situation by changing their doctrine, doing away with much of their heavy equipment and becoming more like the police. In many places that process is already well under way.

That, as Hammes wrote and Lind reinforces, the "last fifty years have led to a fundamental erosion of the state's monopoly on the use of force" relies on the state actually possessing a monopoly on the use of force. First, it wasn't a three hundred period, but more like one hundred and fifty odd years that the present state has existed. The notion of a monopoly of force entered the vernacular of international relations only in the late 19th early 20th Centuries when Max Weber wrote it. In the 19th Century, states did act to "de-legitimized, de-democratized, and territorialized" non-state forces as Janice Thomson wrote in 1994, but this did not limit the use of force as an exclusive right of to the state. Politics "owned" the use of force and the state was just one incarnation of the political actor with license to use force. 4GW'ers fail to contextualize history in the appropriate moment, instead imposing modernity on all instances of the "State".

Matt has taken Martin van Creveld's and William Lind's theoretical assumption's about the universality of the decline of the state head-on. The evidence that the state is failing and in varying degrees of dysfunction in some regions is fairly obvious. That the decline follows from the reasons cited by the 4GW school is not.

As my own writing of a review of 4GW has stalled temporarily, I appreciate reading Matt's tightly-argued piece. A great contribution to the debate !
Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Small Wars Council, a gem of a discussion board if there ever was one, has not disappointed with this posting on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's take on the media and the war on terror. An excerpt from the posted quotation:

"Our nation is engaged in what promises to be a long struggle in the global war on terror. In this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains of Afghanistan or the streets of Iraq but in newsrooms in New York, London, Cairo and elsewhere.

Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media age, but for the most part we — our government, the media or our society in general — have not.

Consider that violent extremists have established "media relations committees" and have proved to be highly successful at manipulating opinion elites. They plan and design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communication to break the collective will of free people.

Our government is only beginning to adapt its operations for the 21st century. For the most part, it still functions as a five-and-dime store in an EBay world.

have just returned from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. In Tunis, the largest newspaper has a circulation of roughly 50,000 — in a country of about 10 million people. But even in the poorest neighborhoods you can see satellite dishes on nearly every balcony or rooftop.

Regrettably, many of the TV news channels being watched using these dishes are extremely hostile to the West. The growing number of media outlets in many parts of the world still have relatively immature standards and practices that too often serve to inflame and distort rather than to explain and inform. Al Qaeda and other extremist movements have utilized these forums for many years, successfully adding more poison to the Muslim public's view of the West, but we have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences.

The standard U.S. government public affairs operation was designed primarily to respond to individual requests for information. It tends to be reactive, rather than proactive, and it operates for the most part on an eighthour, five-days-a-week basis, while world events — and our enemies — are operating 24/7 across every time zone. That is an unacceptably dangerous deficiency..."

Rumsfeld's perception of the nature of Arab media and various regimes was much criticized at 'Aqoul by Collounsbury but the SecDef is more than correct regarding the amateurish, uncoordinated, reactionary, culturally tone deaf and non-strategic nature of American information policy.

As I see it, we have two unrelated problems here:

1. The MSM is intellectually homogenized with a distinctive " herd mentality" of people of a certain parochial outlook and big journalism school background that produces largely superficial reporting that jams all events into the 100 year old Pulitzerian news frame. For more on this, see Paul H. Weaver's _News and the Culture of Lying_.

2. That being said, the USG has no Strategic Influence policy worthy of the name. To call our efforts in the war of ideas incompetent would be to cast a slur on incompetent people everywhere. The merely incompetent simply shoot themselves in the foot - of late, we lobb grenades at the enemy and manage to blow off our own genitals on live global television. Repeatedly.

A short list of concerns that come to mind just off of the top of my head:

No setting of strategic information objectives by the POTUS through the NSC.

No coordination of military and civilian agencies in terms of message discipline. Or within either the military OR the civilian agencies. In short, no information policy " jointness". Four plus years into a war, no less.

No process by which to methodically identify the multiple audiences that each message is going to reach or analytically gaming how they will perceive it.

Little effort to differentiate intellectually between public diplomacy, covert influence and pure disinformation operations. For that matter, no consideration of how our own disinformation is blowing back at us via the MSM !

An inability to craft messages with an a priori comprehension of the target audience worldview so that our message is culturally relevant and persuasive.

Insufficient linguistic capacity to interpret the OODA loop for information warfare.

Investment in media that is not perceived by the target audience as credible or independent (i.e. al-Hurra comes across as a transparent shill unlike the VOA and Radio Free Europe during the Cold War).

I could go on.

Our opponents are guys who glory in ghoulishly beheading people. The fact that we are having trouble pulling even with them is an indictment of our efforts. Yes, the liberal MSM is unhelpful in terms of furthering national security or foreign policy objectives but we do not have our act together.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dave Schuler has an excellent post up commemorating the birthday of George Washington, our first President and the only founding father that the other founding fathers, generally a squabbling bunch, regarded with a degree of awe. Dave writes:

"Such was Washington’s popularity that, had he desired to remain in office, he would have been overwhelmingly re-elected. They’d have made him king if he’d wanted it. This is why he was called “the American Cincinnatus”: the voluntary leaving of power."

When I was in grad school, a student asked the professor in a colonial era history seminar what was Washington's importance in the larger scheme of American history? The professor, whose research interests went more toward documenting the small doings of the unwashed and dispossessed, replied " He retired."

This received a quiet general laugh for cutting to the heart of the matter of Washington helping ensure that our Revolution, unlike almost all others that followed, was civilized and humane. Washington was not without ambition; aside from the Kings of Spain and Portugal, he became one of the largest private landowners in the Americas but the yardstick Washington measured himself by was that of Anglo-Virginian gentry respectability, not the glory of Roman Caesars. The desire to order the lives of other men was far less strong in Washington than his desire to be left alone.

Washington's preeminence and political charisma came from a reputation of spotless integrity, reticence, perseverence and personal dignity that was reinforced by a record of bravery and physical stature that left him the most impressive figure in any hall or drawing room. Made the president of the Constitutional Convention, one brief reproach from Washington was enough to keep the delegates sworn to secrecy; one simple gesture conceding human weakness, quelled an incipient rebellion of Continental Army officers. Washington's presence was usually a more eloquent argument than his words.

This aloofness that Washington cultivated out of insecurity and natural inclinaton has left him remote from modern Americans in a way that the irascible John Adams or the intellectual Thomas Jefferson are not. Our view of the Father of Our Country is still that seen in The Apotheosis of Washington that graces the Capitol Building or in The American Zeus - both of which, incidentally, would have horrified Washington. This is unfortunate because while George Washington was not as lettered or learned as Adams or Madison nor as brilliant as Jefferson or Hamilton the man was no idealized marble statue. He was a very shrewd judge of men and possessed keen insight into the limitations of power and the suprising reach of the power of example.

Washington was not merely the best of men by the standards of his day but the best man for the times.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006

No comments from me as...I have no time !

Bruce Kesler at The Democracy Project - "Capitalism, Capos, or Cop-Outs? "

Rob at BusinessPundit - " Working in Serial"

Brad Plumer on "Dreams are Cool"

Judy Dempsey at America-Russia.net - " NATO and Russia to Trade Intelligence"

Dan of tdaxp - "OODA-PISRR, Part IV: System Perturbations"

Blogs recently added to my blogroll:

Sic Semper Tyrannis

F-X Based
Monday, February 20, 2006

The Jamestown Foundation has released two new updates on Islamist insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq:

"Islamist Ideologues Struggle to Raise Morale" by Stephen Ulph

"History Overtakes Optimism in Afghanistan" by Michael Scheuer

Ulph sees mounting weakness in the recent apocalyptic propaganda coming from al Qaida ogans:

"The tale, told in a dramatic, semi-lyrical vein, is an effective morale booster for the mujahideen since it explains away many of their concerns: the infrequent surfacing of bin Laden, the lack of decisive results in Iraq, the seeming self-confidence of the Americans and the appearance of disunity among the jihadi leadership. For al-Kinani, the jihad in Iraq is not failing because it was never anything more than a rehearsal and a training ground for the fight in the U.S., where the FBI "are trembling" at what these mysterious developments portend. Al-Kinani's analysis importantly maintains the image of a coherent leadership of the heroes of the jihadi elite who are carrying out a consistent plan. These musings are interesting not only for the fact that the statement is put out by GIMF, lending its analysis some internal authority for the web mujahideen, but also as a window into the apocalyptic strain of jihadi commentary and propaganda, which remains doggedly resilient in the face of victory postponed."

At some point, in order to retain credibility, al Qaida must be seen by its admirers in carrying out a successful attack against American power or failing that, having attempted an act of terrorism of suitable scale . If not 9/11 at least 3/11 or Bali. Simply shooting up a shopping mall or setting off a generic car bombing is not going to do the trick.

In the second article, Scheuer offers a pessimistic assessment of current U.S. and allied counterinsurgency and democratization efforts in Afghanistan:

"Near-Spring Reality: After two nationwide elections, few of those who disagree with President Karzai have put their weapons away and decided to wait peaceably for the next election. Indeed, there has been an up-tick in violence after each election. While the Afghans are avaricious consumers and innovative users of the tools of modernity—be it ordnance or communications gear—they are steadfast opponents of "Westernization," particularly of the variety that downplays religion, asserts women's rights, ignores ethnic rivalries and hatreds, and seeks to undermine tribal politics and loyalties. "

This is however, the norm in Afghanistan regardless of whether the government in Kabul was monarchist, republican, communist, mujahedin or Taliban. The center has never exercised effective control over the provinces except in rare instances. Even the Taliban, whose rule was tighter than most Afghan regimes, was forced to bribe and co-opt many local warlords in their march across the country and by the time of their overthrow, the Taliban's harsh rule had begun alienating even some of the Pushtun subtribes in Paktia.

Dr. Scheuer is more on target here:

"While it is too early to say that Afghanistan is again lost to the West, the trend lines are heading in the direction of another Western defeat and withdrawal. If such is the case, the result will be rightfully attributed to the failure of Western leaders—military, political, and media—to have read and assimilated the lessons of Afghan history before invading. One Westerner, the eminent British military historian Sir John Keegan, did read that history and offered a clear and early warning. "The Russians [1979-89]…foolishly did not try to punish rogue Afghans, as [Britain's Lord] Robert's did, but to rule the country," Keegan wrote on September 14, 2001 in the Daily Telegraph. "Since Afghanistan is ungovernable, the failure of their effort was predictable....America should not seek to change the regime, but simply to find and kill the terrorists." U.S. and Western leaders should heed Sir John's prescient words."

The only answer to the Pushtun tribal support network for al Qaida may be, unfortunately a decimating punitive expedition on the coupled with an offer of a generous amnesty for those tribes who wish to yield honorably. The Pakistanis will not do such a thing for us unless the regime in Islamabad feels itself in great danger or that al Qaida and the Taliban may " detach" the historically Afghanistani Northwest provinces from Pakistan - a longstanding fear of the Pakistani elite.
Sunday, February 19, 2006

The intrepid Dan of tdaxp secured a very revealing "must read" interview with strategist and bestselling author Thomas P.M. Barnett ( posted in full at Tom's website). A snippet:

"7. Who else influenced you?

Mentors I describe in PNM: Gaffney at CNA taught me the biz of studies and analysis, as well as an understanding of global politics; Cebrowksi taught me the military angle; Flanagan taught me the global economics. Other mentors and connectors throughout career made a point of introducing me to the right people and audiences for my material.

8. Who were your teachers and what influence did they have?

Key teachers in high school encouraged my capacity for meta-analysis and my love of presentation. A key one: Mrs. Haley, who taught freshman history at Boscobel High School. Had a Russian teacher in college who taught me a lot about life and culture. Someone at U Wisconsin pushed to have me elected Phi Beta Kappa my junior year, which was big, because it gave me the pick of grad schools. At Harvard, Huntington was key in being first prof to recognize my big-think talent. Nye also gave me a lot of credibility by sitting on my PhD committee. Biggest influence on philosophy was Judith Sklar and her devotion to concepts of justice, tempered by a sense of realism regarding the role of security (she was a Baltic Jew who had fled the Nazis). Richard Pipes influenced me similarly (another Jew who fled). Finally, Adam Ulam was biggest influence (another Jew who fled). So I guess while I never heard or read of this Leo Strauss that all the neocons refer to, I did get my share of strong moral compasses from European Jewish academics who fled the Nazis. But that makes sense to me, because WWII was the great moral turning point for a century I was born near the middle of (1962), so I grew up in its shadow in a really profound way. Being trapped in the Cold War, I worried that I would never get the chance to do anything similar to these great thinkers (I write this in PNM), but then the Wall comes down, we drift for a while, and then 9/11 makes things clear. Right now, Steve DeAngelis and Mark Warren are my big influences, both of whom take my storytelling skills and writing skills to new heights by connecting me to the right opportunities and stages."

One of the qualities that very creative people in modern times frequently lack is introspection, or at least a structured time or habit for doing so. Generally absorbed by their own ideas and projects as ends they too seldom stop to make a record of the creative process itself in a way that was common a century ago when diaries and daily correspondence left an abundant paper trail for historians. This is unfortunate both for the insights into creativity that are then lost and more generally for capturing the tenor of the times that diarists once did so well. It would be hard to imagine, for example, writing a history the Civil War without reference to Mary Chestnut and George Templeton Strong or mid-late nineteenth century America without considering Henry Adams.

Take for example, J.R.R. Tolkien who left behind not only a very prodigious collection of extant essays, drafts and notes about his writings on Middle-Earth but a considerable body of letters describing his feelings on the evolution of his mythology, regrets and stumbling blocks in the writing process along the way ( most of which has been edited and published by his son Christopher Tolkien). Few writers or thinkers in the post-WWII era attempted such a serious or studied reflection, keeping diaries and journals fell out of popular fashion or were targeted by special prosecutors in the case of officials, but now the ubiquitousness of email and blogging is reviving that tradition. In the interview with Dan, Dr. Barnett specifically refers to blogging as the sounding board for his second book, Blueprint For Action as well as the mysterious " Volume III" that is gestating.

"I’ve actually done more thinking on this in the last year than probably the previous 42 years combined. This is because I’ve had a huge number of transitions in the last three to four years (starting with 9/11), and the blog has allowed me a lot of explanation space for readers regarding my way of thinking. All of this introspection was pushed by my Dad’s death in the spring of 2004 as well, along with the adoption of our fourth child, and my wife and I heading into (and finally recognizing that status) middle age.

All this recent thinking also dovetails with the evolution of what I hope will be the trilogy of my “Pentagon” books, with PNM being the system-level diagnosis, BFA being the nation-state-level prescriptives, and vol. III being the individual-level self-help guide where I hope to teach readers how to replicate my thinking in their daily and professional lives. So I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year compiling my own sense of how I accomplish this level and sort of thinking and speaking and writing. "

The salon (and perhaps soon, the think tank) has been replaced by the blogosphere, democratizing and invigorating intellectual life.

Austin Bay reports on that a portion of the captured documents released by the U.S. Army reveal that while al Qaida may have an ultrareactionary-mythic Islamist ideology, the benefits plan of becoming an al Qaida employee are strikingly modernist. Not unlike many a fortune 500 corporation:

"On page 16 we discover Al Qaeda is for socialized medicine:

3- Medical Benefits
A- All (Al-Qa’eda) members can visit the medical staff and obtain medicine free
of charge.

On page 18 we have vacation time:

8- Vacations:
A- For those who work in Peshawar, they are entitled for Fridays, the two holy
feasts (TC: Al-Adha [during the pilgrimage month] & Al-Fatr [following the end
of the month of Ramadan]), and a one month annual leave to be enjoyed at the
end of the eleventh month of work, as well sick leave not to exceed 15 days
B- Those working in camps and in the frontlines:
Married: Enjoys a 7 day monthly vacation.
Single: Enjoys a 5 day monthly vacation
This in addition to the annual and sick leaves mentioned in the above paragraph.
*Page 11 of 19
C- If the vacation exceeds what is allowed, then, the relative salary will be
withheld (prorated) except if those in responsible positions (in order of hierarchy)
approve a holiday extension.

Not quite France, but close."

Man does not live by jihad alone it seems. I wonder if al Qaida's surprisingly generous program has forced HAMAS, Islamic Jihad, Hizb -ut Tahrir and the IMU to upgrade member compensation in order to remain competitive in recruiting top level terrorist and administrative talent ?
Saturday, February 18, 2006

A short but very intriguing paper by Dr. Tim Challans of was posted at The Small Wars Council that primarily criticizes Effects Based Approach/Effects Based Operations but raises the question of emergence in warfare.

Briefly, emergence is the phenomenon of a new, unanticipated, spontaneous behavior as a result of a system reaching a particular point of complexity. Usually the constituent components of the system lack the capacity for the emergent behavior until the collective has formed a pattern of interaction. If the emergent pattern- say for example the formation of a scale-free network - possesses the characteristics of resilience, it will stabilize as a recognizable and observable entity or phenomenon. The implications of emergence in systems are strongly Darwininan and quite naturally have immediate applications for such fields as physics and economics but would apply to virtually everything and as such, is a consilient concept.

One with revolutionary potential.


"Emergence" by Dr. Von

"Emergent Intelligence in Open Source Warfare" by John Robb at Global Guerillas

Is now available.

I want to thank those who commented earlier - Dan, Col, Curtis, Larry, Phil, Eddie - and whomever else did without results. Trying to get a handle on the problem.

I see Dan a.k.a. " Aaron" has his own troubles today.

WTF ????

Not just the public version but from the edit posts section. Gone.
Thursday, February 16, 2006

Jeff Medcalf at Caerdroia posed some arch questions regarding the validity of some key ideas in Dr. Barnett's PNM theory yesterday:

"How does PNM handle the collapse or approaching collapse of rules-sets in core nations? The flow of people from the gap to the core is inherently going to bring gap rulesets — those travel in people's heads, after all — and this is already apparent in Britain, France, Spain, Italy, the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway. I suspect we'll see the same in Germany, soon, because they have the same demography/immigrant problem as the rest of Western Europe.

Once the gap rulesets have been imported into the core, can the core rulesets remain established, or are the core rulesets inherently self-defeating? And if they are inherently self-defeating, at least when confronted with a lower-order ruleset from the gap, what changes to the core rulesets (and hopefully there are some short of mass deportation or genocide) can be made to avert the consequences of a core ruleset collapse (the main consequence being moving from the core to the gap)?"

Good questions, all of them. Dan of tdaxp and Dave Schuler made their remarks at Caerdroia, my commentary follows.

First, in regard to the example of rioting Islamist thugs in Europe provided by The Belmont Club link, I would argue that the established rule-set is being undermined not merely by the Islamist thugs but by the local European -probably socialist - political elite that enabled the rioters by ordering the police to refrain from intervening. Of the two, the latter is the far greater threat to the integrity of the rule of law, representing not only moral cowardice but betrayal of the values of a liberal, democratic, open society.

I dealt with this very issue, albeit briefly, in an article on rule-set theory in Dr. Barnett's short-lived journal. We have between secular, democratic, Europe and the ghetto Islamist activists and "underclass" rioters of North African origin, a case of " value-rivalry". European states have the power to easily enforce compliance from the rioters or expel them but the political will to do so is another question. It is admittedly bad form to quote myself, but in this case, it fits:

"An explicit rule-set can be undermined by implicit rules and values that are antithetical, that encourage destructive behavior....Such a conflict is typical of a dysfunctional rule-set that characterizes a system in decline.

....To intentionally ignore criminal behavior as defined by law, to appease enemies, to fail to maintain order in the face of gross violations or violence may be a partial repudiation of the prevailing rule-set by the system's own leaders".

I doubt highly that what was behind the failure of will of the European officials in this case was exposure to the Sharia imported from the Gap so much as homegrown, irrationalist, European postmodernism mixed with a cynical personal opportunism that disconnects Euro-elites from their own countrymen. The problem of Western rule-set collapse can be found in the prevailing ideology of that part of the elite, political and cultural, who subscribe to the worldview of the New Left/'68ers/Crit theorists. A problem that is solved best by politically isolating, delegitimizing them and removing them from positions of power or influence via democratic elections so that common-sense policies may be enforced to defend society.

Secondly and more generally connectivity is indeed a two-way street as Jeff recognizes in his second paragraph, a point which also made by William Lind, the chief 4GW theorist, who would attempt to firewall off the Gap from the Core for that reason. That option really isn't feasible for a host of economic reasons related to energy, capital flows and geography though tightening up on the flow of mass-migration to allow for reasonable screening prior to entry and required assimilationist policies afterward will help. By assimilationist, I do not simply mean language or superficial cultural norms like banning headscarves but economic as well. Ending the bizarrely irrational restrictions on labor mobility by abolishing the anticapitalist EU or national regulations that keep Muslim immigrants poor and on welfare will do more to bring them into the European mainstream than anything else.

So, no I do not think the Core rule-sets are inherently self-defeating. Properly enforced, they are powerful nonzero sum engines of societal dynamism, systemic economic growth and human creativity. I think the real problem is that a part of our Western elite a priori rejects the capitalist-liberal democratic rule-set and would so much like to see it be replaced by something considerably more authoritarian that they indirectly abet those who would attempt its destruction.

Is the sequel to the highly regarded Coming of The Third Reich by eminent British historian, Richard J. Evans. Just picked up the hardcover edition and it promises to deliver at an impressive 941 pages and a bibliography that runs very heavy into the German language sources. Just flipping through I noted some obscure books that will delight even the specialist in the history of Nazi Germany.

In his first book, Evans did a yeoman job de-bunking the " Hitler came to power democratically" myth by examining the causal connection between the strategic use of street violence by the Nazi Party and consequent backstairs intriguing by the German elite to delegitimize, hollow out and then replace the Weimar democracy with a National Socialist state. In the second volume, Evans deals with the process of "coordination" as Nazi totalitarianism penetrates every quarter of German life.

Sigh. My " to be read" pile of books now stands at 23 !!
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dr. Barnett on "Russia’s two steps backward, one step forward"

As a point of personal interest, I wish Tom would write on Russia more often than he does as he began his career as an East Bloc specialist and that's my original area of interest as well ( I have often thought that if Dr. Barnett, T.M. Lutas and I ever sat down together we'd inevitably end up discussing Ceaucescu). Here Tom critiques the vapidity of Putin's Siloviki State - with his " clan" having triumphed utterly, Putin is like Robert Redford in " The Candidate" asking " What do I do now ?"

The problem is, the truly democratic Duma alternatives to Putin are weak, divided, unpopular and corrupt. That Putin is the only game in town may be annoying, but Russia unraveling as a state would make Iraq look like a retirement home.

"Kingdaddy" at Arms and Influence on "Counterterrorism is easier, part I"

I confess to being a fan of the extended analysis posts of Kingdaddy. While I'm quite a few clicks to his political Right, Kingdaddy does his homework and assembles his argument with scholarly discretion; he's not grinding an axe for anyone. Arms and Influence is definitely a blog worthy of being on more blogrolls.

Collounsbury at 'Aqoul on " Maghreb & Rumsfeld"

Col has some interesting normative remarks on Algeria that I can't really disagree with:

"The Algerian regime is a backwards, cantakerous ill-tempered vampire state whose only positive factor is that it is less reprehensible than the takfiri Salafiste murderers that it fought for the past decade. But only marginally so."

The only attraction of this once rabidly pro-Soviet pack of bastards is their demonstrable commitment (and reasonable competence at) to slaughtering the worst kind of Islamist lunatics.
'Aqoul as a blog, I must note, is rising in the world these days.

Dr. Von on " Our Use of Light"

Physics is a good dose of reality and the nature of light has a critical impact on our perception of that reality - at least for those not congenitally blind.

That's it !
Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sifting gold from the sandbed of the greater blogosphere.

Carl Conetta, the director of The Project on Defense Alternatives has an analysis of the QDR up that is well worth checking out.

It is interesting on how many pundits and defense intellectuals Left, Right and Center are coming to the consensus that the QDR was an exercise in raw bureaucratic politics at the expense of national security and the war effort. Trust me, I'm all for a big Navy and warplanes so high-tech that they can travel through time, but some realism is in order about our priorities. We need a bigger Army. We need sustained deployability. We need to invest in the guys on the ground.

Next is not a post but a website:

WatchingAmerica is relatively new. A translator site for foreign news stories about America and American policy. How good the translations are I have to leave up to those with linguistic skills to tackle and review ( Dave, Col, Chirol, Curzon, Younghusband, Raf....). The effort invested here appears to be sizable.


A really great post. " Emergence" is one of the critical concepts for understanding the world globalization ( The others include scale-free networks, modularity, resilience, consilience, evolution and nonzero sum .)

Dan at tdaxp has a skillfully rendered and very interesting in terms of cognition two-part series, OODA-PISRR, Part I: The Social Cognition Loop and Part II.

Dan however, has only scratched the surface of " how to get smarter". He has left out, for example, greater mental efficiency in learning in terms of processing speed flowing from more skillful, perceptive, panoramic powers of observation being understood correctly in shorter units of time. Perhaps there is more. I'll have to ponder this but nonetheless an excellent post !

More to come.....
Sunday, February 12, 2006

Unfortunately, I must report that an old friend passed away the other day after a grueling battle with cancer. I had known him for almost thirty years and he was more than just a friend, being the father of several of my closest friends from early childhood and who was, at times, a bit of a father figure for me as well.

Consequently, posting may be light for a few days.
Friday, February 10, 2006

At Whirledview, Patricia Lee Sharpe has an outstanding post on the larger issue that the so-called "cartoon crisis", partly genuine and partly orchestrated political theater, epitomizes:

"Let’s broaden the context for any discussion of the political cartoons that cropped up in Denmark last September. Let look back to a moment in the very recent past when much of the world was trying to prevent a stunning act of iconoclasm.

Certain Muslims had threatened to destroy some precious images belonging to another religion. Buddhists protested, because the images under threat were images of Buddha. Art lovers protested because the sculptures, they said, were an ancient and irreplaceable human heritage.

What happened? The Taliban of Afghanistan ignored all appeals. They shattered the huge Buddha statues at Bamian. They were also set on destroying all the Buddhist materials at the national museum in Kabul. Fortunately museum officials (also Muslims, please note) had done their best to hide or disguise the vulnerable items and many have survived to serve their proper function as part of the history of Afghanistan. (Note: the Taliban could have begged the museums of the world to remove the objectionable items (small or bulky) from Afghanistan, but total destruction not preservation

...The current demand to protect “religious sensibilities or sensitivities” would be far more credible if there were more remorse in the Muslim world over the destruction of the Bamian treasures. In addition, the “popular” nature of the protesting is highly suspect. There had been little or no violence until a gathering of Muslim heads of state in Mecca in December produced an inflammatory joint statement."

Very true. Islamic civilization has an amazing cultural heritage, of incredible breadth and diversity stretching back almost fourteen-hundred years. Most Muslims, as Juan Cole pointed out, did not engage in violent protest over cartoons in a Danish newspaper. Neither the elite nor the devout middle-class of the Muslim world are embassy burners or jihadists. These things should be remembered.

But as Germany, once the apex of European culture and science, fell into the hands of a brutal and barbaric political minority, the Muslim world appears to be daunted by the barabarism of the minority of postmodern, neo-Salafi radicals with their engineering degrees from German universities and the takfiri -venom rhetoric of the Mosque-addict. These fanatics oppose civilization itself, be it in the form of a tolerant, cosmolpolitan, modernizing Islamic state or the secular West. What I wrote at the time of the destruction of the Buddhist statues of Bamian holds true today:

"What has stirred the world's wrath over the Buddhist statues is the Taliban's sheer defiance of not only civilizational norms but itscontemptuous rejection of civilization itself, of which the impulse tocreate and preserve art for its own sake is an exemplary value. A morecalculated gesture of purified barbarism would be hard to imagine. Notthat this is surprising because the Taliban are in fact unreconstructed tribal barbarians even if they may have laptops. cell phones and
mechanized armor at their disposal. The Taliban does not oppose Western
civilization so much as they do any complex and rationally ordered society
that generates ideas, Buddhism for example, foreign to their narrow and
primitive cultural horizons. The Taliban's wanton destruction merited the near unanimous outrage of nations that it received."

The Jihadi -Takfiri radicals by their words and deeds have marked themselves as the enemy of all mankind. We can neither ignore them nor make concessions on the nature of Western society to their grandiose, world-historical, totalitarian claims on behalf of Islam, a religion they interpret with the greatest selectivity to meet their current political need. The devout middle class of the Muslim world, ultimately, will have to choose where to throw in their lot, with a global modernity which can accomodate ascetic piety if it does not trouble others holding different views or with the mentality of the suicide belt and the videotaped beheading.

There is no third way.


Oliver Roy on the Cartoon crisis ( Hat tip: the UK Spectator magazine)
Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fabius Maximus - " The Fate of Israel" at DNI

Well, this one should set off some sparks. This post represents part II of an at least three part series by Fabius at DNI. Part I. can be found here. I see that John Robb linked yesterday as well where a discussion has begun in the comments section.

I prefer the Boydian " constructive" description of grand strategy to this one used by Fabius:

"Grand Strategy: a state’s collective policy with respect to the external world. Paul Kennedy defined it as "the capacity of the nation's leaders to bring together all of the elements {of power}, both military and nonmilitary, for the preservation and enhancement of the nation's long-term … best interests" (from his “Grand Strategies in War and Peace”). From a Trinitarian perspective, it focuses and coordinates the diplomatic and military efforts of a state’s People, Government, and Army."

On the other hand, his primal strategy is actually closer to Boyd's "theme for vitality and growth". It would also be harmonious with my concept of state resiliency:

"Primal Strategy: often found in the early years of a society when its people have a “single-minded” commitment to a goal, often just a drive to grow. A “primal strategy” is an expression of a people’s core beliefs. It is non-intellectual, with no need for theories and plans."

Getting to the specifics of the case of Israel and the Palestinians as argued by Fabius he has hit on an important point regarding emigration, that does represent a strategic threat to Israel's survival. The Palestinians however will not gain the incremental surrender that Fabius expects if in the interim they manage to pull off a ghastly act of mass destruction terrorism inside Israel; a coup numerous Arab nationalist and Islamist terrorist groups would gladly attempt. Such an event that results in the deaths of tens of thousands of Israelis will instantly change the moral calculus for world opinion, particularly if the attack involved poison gas. We can expect that the Israeli leadership would then move beyond the current policy of unilateral separation from the Palestinians to expelling them en masse from the West Bank.

Yes, this would be ethnic cleansing and yes this will cost Israel much Western support but national survival would take precedence over any other consideration for Jerusalem and the Palestinian demographic advantage would then be rendered irrelevant.


I am really behind the blogging curve lately but I want to point out that since 4GW is the theme , Dan of tdaxp had a post recently featuring the observations of Dr. Chet Richards on John Boyd's OODA Loop

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Intelligence analysts, strategists and educators all require clarity of thought for their respective domains. Frequently, they rely upon - or too often assume they are using - formal logic for organizing and sequencing concepts or deconstructing patterns of information into component, isolated, parts. Generally, we can also assume that our respective thinkers all represent persons of with considerable vertical expertise, masters of a particular field or subfield of knowledge and, consequently, frame new information according to the received intellectual culture and rule-sets of their professional discipline as well as logical reasoning.

On average, this primarily analytical approach to engaging the world is very efficient and productive. Time is saved by recourse to preexisting and commonly accepted conceptual categories when integrating new data and the accumulation and verification of new knowledge is orderly and most of the time a valid and reliable process. Problems arise with this process however when new data

a) Seemingly represents familiar old data because our habitual use of our conceptual categories, our received intellectual culture from professional training, our entire worldview and the underlying genetic predispositions in terms of cognitive behavior render us blind to the implications of the new which lay hidden in plain sight.


b) If the new data contradicts all that we have been led to believe to be true.

The cognitive distortions that can arise then have various manifestations, among them:

Educated Incapacity


Magical thinking

Self-referential logical errors

Non sequitors

Mistaking correlation for causation

Paralysis by analysis

How to avoid this mental fog of distortion ? One possibility is the deliberate practice of metacognition during the analytical process to help prserve the integrity of the "Observation" and "Orientation" stages of John Boyd's OODA loop. Metacognition is a term coined by pyschologist and cognitive theorist John Flavell to describe the processes involved in " thinking about thinking". Metacognition has rationally methodical as well as intuitive aspects, both of which are useful in accomplishing the task of mental self-regulation, monitoring and evaluation:


Asessment: Identification of state of knowledge, attention and task at hand

Executive control of behavior: Self-regulation

Metamnemonic planning: Selection of mnemonic strategies appropriate for the task

Schema Training: Generation of new conceptual-categorical structures

Evaluation: Of changes in knowledge


Fingerspitzengefuhl or " fingertip feeling"

Tip of the tongue feeling or memory retrieval

Rechecking your analytical premises against your " hunch"when the data seems to be contradictory as well as systematic self-assessment of your reasoning process helps identify errors, blind spots and weakly supported assertions that represent more ideology than empiricism. In short, metacognition preps the brain for a burst of insight by bringing into simultaneous or sequential focus:

New data

Your premises

The operative rule-sets

Your logical reasoning

Your intuitive expectations

Past knowledge

Your evaluation of the validity and reliability of the above

You are now poised to look at the big picture, discern the interconnections and look further afield for analogies and parallel patterns.


This post has stirred some considerable traffic today so I thought I might highlight a few
"gurus" on my blogroll who also feature systemic, strategic, analysis on a regular basis:

Thomas P. M. Barnett

Art Hutchinson's Mapping Strategy

John Robb

Nicholas Carr 's Rough Type

Dave Chesbrough's net-centric dialog

Chris Anderson's The Long Tail

I suggest you check out Jeff Medcalf's post on war powers and the NSA wiretapping at Caerdroia:

"The Constitution does not limit the President to fighting the enemy abroad, nor require a separate declaration of Congressional intent to fight the enemy in the United States. The President's power is to fight the enemy defined in the declaration of war, wherever that enemy is.

Thus the President has the power to surveil the enemy wherever that enemy is.

The question becomes, who is the enemy? That is answered by the AUMF: "those nations, organizations, or persons [the President] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons".

The Congress explicitly gave the President to power to determine who the enemy is, within the limitation of being connected to 9/11. Since the President decided that this includes al Qaeda, any al Qaeda operative falls within the definition of the enemy even if that operative is a US citizen. The term we're searching for here is "treason", though for the life of me I cannot understand why we aren't charging people such as Padilla, Hamdi and Lindh with exactly that. Hamdi and Lindh, in particular, were captured on the battlefield and the case is a slam dunk (Padilla is a harder case, and a court is going to have to work that one out).

The only valid way to claim that the surveillance is illegal is to claim that the AUMF does not trigger the President's war powers because the AUMF is not a declaration of war. But nowhere in the Constitution is the President's power to make war divided between "real wars" and "so so wars": there is no way to grant the President the power to make war except to declare war. The Constitution does not require that such a declaration contain particular wording, such as "a state of war exists between the United States and [enemy]". So on what grounds, other than claiming that the Constitution is a "living document" and means whatever we want, can anyone claim that AUMF is not a declaration of war? If not, then what is it?"

Jeff has hit the nail on the constitutional head. There is no such legal distinction unless specifically articulated by the Congress in the language of their AUMF which makes the " not a real war" argument legally specious. And in the case of the 9/11 resolution, the Congress itself declared the terms of the War Powers Act to be satisfied by the AUMF.

International law is even more of a slam dunk than American Constitutional law as IL requires only the de facto recognition of a " state of armed conflict". We have a de jure recognition by NATO which has invoked Article IV, recognizing 9/11 as an act of war for which " an attack against one is an attack against all".

The Bush administration may be politically inept but they are constitutionally correct and their critics are wrong. AUMF trumps FISA. Separation of powers trumps statutes.
Monday, February 06, 2006

Knocked out again. Some comments are visible only if you click to make a new comment. For example I responded to Fabius Maximus but my comment is neither registered numerically nor can you see it without posting a new comment.

Blogger was down again last night and when it went up again it did not accept my post so if you are annoyed at my prevailing radio silence I have to plead technical difficulties in this instance.

I'll try to get something to " stick" today.
Sunday, February 05, 2006

The UK Spectator which was kind enough to link to Zenpundit today on an unrelated matter has a Telegraph article with the disturbing implication that the Jihadi-Salafi radical movement is succeeding in its campaign of intimidation over the Danish political cartoon to assert sharia precepts and special exceptions for Islam in Western societies. The moral problem is not one of the general population in Western countries but of elite authority which is reacting, Danish and some EU officials excepted, with truckling cowardice and opportunism.

It is manifestly true that the sharia prohibits artistic representations of the Prophet and that the original cartoon was insulting in a rather juvenile way. The sharia however prohibits a lot of things that are normal states of affairs in Denmark, Britain or the United States - or are considered Constitutional rights- and as the body of Muslim religious law, the sharia has absolutely no standing in the secular, liberal democratic West whose populations, while multicultural to be sure, are overwhelmingly Christian. We do not for example, give veto power over our society to Talmudic scholars or the canon law of the Catholic Church, so it might not be a good idea to be backtracking on core Western values in the face of threats from an unrepresentative but violent, totalitarian, minority within a predominantly foreign religion.

The Danish cartoon, however unfairly broadbrush, was aimed at the terroristic activities of these selfsame Salafi radicals and Jihadists, who naturally, are alarmed at being accurately criticized for prostituting one of the world's great religions with their violent brand of extremist politics. Handing this group concessions instead of, say clapping them into the clink for making death threats, sends entirely the wrong message to moderates and secular intellectuals in the Muslim world at large. If the mighty West stammers in the face of relatively minor, semi-disorganized, thuggery from Islamist radicals, how much more important is it for them to keep their own mouths shut ?

The U.S. State Department, while no doubt relieved that for once somebody else's consulates are on fire, has disgracefully undercut the Europeans on free speech in order to try to win brownie points with the Muslim street. I grant you that many FSO's are graduates of Ivy league schools where PC values are put on a far higher moral plane than the Bill of Rights but this move was rather dumb on conventional diplomatic grounds. If helping the Bosnian Muslims, Indonesian Tsunami victims and Pakistani earthquake victims barely made a dent in negative public images Muslims have of America, verbal concessions on a cartoon are not going to do the trick. Indeed, it will only invite the contempt of Jihadi radicals who see it for what it is - a retreat borne out of weakness and lack of confidence in core American values. And in Europe, advocates of a " tough" policy on Islamist extremism can only feel that we have pulled the rug out from under them after years of complaining that the Euros were too weak and vacillating in the face of extremism and terror.

It would have better to simply have said nothing at all. Our governmental elite lacks not only spine but sense.


Dan and Bill at Duck of Minerva have endorsed raf's post at 'Aqoul for its perceptive observations and distinctions within the MENA world on this issue; I concur, very useful effort on raf's part.

Memorandum has more links to blogs posts and pundits on the cartoon crisis than I can even begin to list. Surf away !

I'll also concede that Dan is correct that American humanitarian aid has helped the American image somewhat in the targeted countries - I was thinking along the lines of Arab public opinion instead of the general Muslim world which is, of course, quite diverse in its interests. Nevertheless, State message was still remarkably boneheaded and inept.
Saturday, February 04, 2006

John Robb of Global Guerillas has a staccato surge of systempunkt - one, two, three, four, five and six.

Dan of tdaxp - expands on 5GW as the SecretWar - " 5GW: Soundless + Formless + Polished + Leading "

Eddie at Live From the FDNF has a powerful and extensive post "Blue-Hat" Treatment For Darfur" on the Dar Fur crisis expanding into the destabilization of Chad while the peacekeeping mission implodes.

Matt at Mountainrunner has insinuated my gravatar has possessed the Secretary of Defense ! ( We should be so lucky)

CENTCOM.mil has translated beheading lunatic Abu Musab Zarqawi's latests screed - where he aims a large amount of rhetorical fire at Iraqi nationalists and salafis.

That's it.

Carl Conetta, the director of The Project on Defense Alternatives, was kind enough to alert me to their newly updated International Security Online library, a collection of 7000 documents, monographs, books and reports up to and including the new QDR. I surfed through their section on Network-centric Warfare the other day and found it to be excellent.

If reading military theory PDF files is your idea of a good time - and sadly for me it is - you can get lost for quite some time on ISO, wandering from one area of the intellectual battlespace to another( I even found Zenpundit blogfriend Myke Cole in the terrorism section).
Friday, February 03, 2006

Having major Blogger issues...word in to help desk already.

Stay tuned.


Fixed now it seems.

Blogging scheduled for tonight.
Thursday, February 02, 2006

I just tormented some colleagues with this. Let's see if my readers are smarter:

" A man approached the border in a black cadillac. The driver, John Jones, was well-known to customs officials as a suspected smuggler so they went through his car and personal belongings with a fine tooth comb. Under the wheel of the spare tire in the trunk, the customs agents found a small package. Delighted at their discovery they hurriedly unwrapped it and found it contained only some glass beads, a few paper clips and some string. Deeply puzzled, they reluctantly had to let Jones cross over the border.

This process repeated itself, every day, seven days a week for ten years. Every day, customs officials searched Jones' car and every day they found a small package filled with glass beads, paper clips and string but nothing else. In frustration, the officials began confiscating the package but they had to let Jones continue on his journey and every day he appeared with a new package, always hidden underneath the spare tire.

Then, one day, Jones failed to appear. Nor did he show up the next day or the day after that. In fact he never returned to the border again. Then, one day, a customs official hapened to be on vacation in the neighboring country and he ran into Jones in a bar and approached him in a friendly manner.

" Look here" he bagan " every day for ten years you crossed the border and we never found a thing. I know you were smuggling something ! What was it ? "

What was Jones smuggling ?
Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"The 4GW Scrum Gets Really Ugly" at Opposed System Design

"The Myth of Grand Strategy" by Fabius Maximus at DNI

"Repeat after Me: grand strategy is a LONG TERM pursuit" by Dr. Barnett

"All-Mercenary service?" - thread at the Small Wars Council.

Advocates of the 4GW school of thought, for all their emphasis on the superiority of a defensive posture over an offensive one, appear to be on the warpath lately.

The latest post by Fabius Maximus, while an intriguing writer to be sure, exemplifies a weakness of intellectual culture prevalent in 4GW , namely a fascination with the primarily destructive aspects of Boyd's strategic theory and a general unwillingness ( Chet Richards excepted) to deeply contemplate the constructive aspects that are implied by Boyd's " theme for vitality and growth". Their " dialectic engine" seems to be missing a few cylinders these days. It was not always so:

"On one hand, as shown on the previous chart, the National Goal and Grand Strategy tend to be constructive in nature. On the other hand, the Strategic Aim, Strategy, Grand Tactics, and Tactics are destructive in nature and operate over a shorter time frame. In this sense, the upper two and the latter four notions. as expressed, appear to be in disharmony with one another. Yet, application of these latter four strategic and tactical notions permit real leadership to avoid high attrition, avoid widespread destruction, and gain a quick victory"

Good grand strategies are rare, admittedly, but most of those were accomplished by design rather than by default. Bismarck planned, Hitler improvised. The Founding Fathers built, the Jacobins destroyed. Moral cohesion requires more than avoidance of conflict or effective execution of military power - it demands a comprehensible and intellectually compelling vision that can pass from one generation to the next.

It requires the constructive thinking embodied by grand strategy- as Dr. Barnett is doing - and not merely anticipating the destruction of systems.
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