BUILDING RESILIENCE AGAINST ANNIHILATION FROM WITHIN
Steve DeAngelis, who is the CEO ofEnterraSolutions as well as a blogger, took a large step toward building greater systemic resilience against the dangers of WMD that form the crux of the threats detailed in Charles Ikle'sAnnihilation From Within. Enterra, IATGRand Oak Ridge National Laboratory are forming a more closely connected network to become:
"... a center of gravity for Enterprise Resilience Management and provide the venue for leading chemical, nuclear, biological and information technologists, political scientists and business people to join together to explore approaches to critical issues facing the world."
*An effort that is critically important and long overdue, five years after 9/11.
*This mirrors the emerging trend in the larger intelligence and national security communities toward creating "fusion" centers but would broaden beyond collection and analysis to connecting all the different " players" and shape their response.
* I'm wondering if the proposed ResilienceNet would resemble an "all channel" network in its effect in dissemination of information or a modular structure.
Congratulations to Steve and Shane at IATGR for taking resilience to a new level !
“Tsuji is the type of man who, given the chance, would start World War III without any misgivings." CIA file on Class A war criminal and G-2 agent Colonel Masanobu Tsuji Declassified intelligence papers reveal that Japanese agents of SCAP's G-2 military intelligence plotted a postwar coup to bring an ultranationist government to power in Japan. Key figures included the Yakuza boss Yoshio Kodamawho had deep ties with the most pro-Nazi faction of wartime Naimusho bureaucrats, Colonel Takushiro Hattori, once Tojo's private secretary and the infamous Colonel Masanobu Tsuji.
Deeply involved in pre-war Army political intrigue and known to his troops as " the god of operations", Tsuji was a fanatical ultranationalist with backing from members of Japan's imperial family who did not shy from bullying senior generals. One of the authors of the Bataan Death March, Tsuji had also been implicated in the death of the King of Thailand in 1946 ( Tsuji had planned the invasion of that country during WWII) yet escaped prosecution as a war criminal, being elected to the Diet before disappearing mysteriously in Laos in 1961.
Evidently, the CIA regarded Tsuji, who had pulled the plug on the coup, as completely useless as an intelligence asset.
"A professor of history at the University of Toronto, soon to move to Oxford as warden of St. Antony’s College, MacMillan in her earlier book defended the peacemakers of 1919 against the charge that they had failed. The outbreak of a new world war two decades later, she argued, resulted not from their mistakes but from those of their successors. She has little need, in “Nixon and Mao,” to defend the peacemakers of 1972, for in the three and a half decades since they met, regrets have been remarkably few. An event that seemed inconceivable before it happened was instantly regarded by almost everyone after it happened as having made perfect sense. Rarely has foresight been so at odds with hindsight. When Nixon took office in 1969, he inherited a war in Vietnam that was costing the United States far more in lives, money and reputation than is the current war in Iraq. The strategic arms balance had shifted in favor of the Soviet Union, whose leaders had crushed dissent in Czechoslovakia and were promising to do so elsewhere. Meanwhile race riots, antiwar protests and an emerging culture of youthful rebellion were making the United States, in the eyes of its new president, almost ungovernable: the nation, Nixon worried, was on the verge of going “down the drain as a great power.”
Playing the “China card” did not resolve these difficulties, but it did regain the initiative. With this single act, Nixon and Kissinger dazzled their domestic critics, rattled the Soviet Union, impressed allies (despite their exasperation at not having been consulted) and set up an exit strategy for a war that had become unwinnable: the United States might indeed “lose” South Vietnam, but it would “gain” China. Despite its implications for the unfortunate Vietnamese, this was an outcome with which it was hard to argue. "
Here Gunnar expounds on the ideas of the late Dr. Garigue, a powerful systemic thinker who understood how integration and risk-management in the information security field changes human/organizational performance to attain new efficiencies. A post that should be of interest to Tom, Steve, John and Davein particular.
FM critiques America's status as a nation-state in light of the text of the Constitution, which he argues we have moved away from in search of equality and prosperity. It would be interesting to look at Fabius' essay in light of Bobbitt'sShield of Achillesand the transition from state-nation to nation-state and to the market-state. I certainly agree with Fabius on the point that the elite in America have a class disdain, despite partisan differences, for the constitutional order of the Founders that impedes contemporary technocratic and oligarchic policy preferences.
The volume and velocity of these "flows in the shadows" make Black Globalization the sleeper national security issue of the decade. The legitimate international banking industry is deeply complicit here ( some $ 200-300 billion of looted Soviet and Russian funds, some under the control of high ranking ex-KGB and CPSU bureaucrats, dangerous people in my view, made its way to Western banks in the 1990's) which is why Western governments have been loathe to address this issue forthrightly.
Russia's siloviki political system is a carrot and stick machine for quiet, minimalist, authoritarianism that seeks to keep the masses of the Russian public complacently supportive while neutralizing intelligentsia critics (unpopular with the masses anyway), neutering the free press and preventing the emergence of any serious (or semi-serious) power blocs or public figures who might challenge the interests of the regime.
Normally, Russian hamfisted behavior at home and abroad raises more hackles than this but at the moment, much of the world's intellectuals and political literati are obssessed with George W. Bush. The Bush administration soaks up a great deal of negative rhetoric and political energy both here at home and overseas. But as Bush's term wears on and certainly by the time he leaves office, this enormous global resentment and capacity for selective outrage will begin casting about for new "villains". This is not to say Putin's regime is a good one or that Russia can be regarded as a democracy; it can't. These are real issues to be addressed and not swept under the rug. But if you become highly exercised over Vladimir Putin, while being conspicuously silent over Robert Mugabe or Dar Fur, your moral calculus is in disarray
Putin will clearly be in that bulls-eye at that time and there will be a media stampede to push the already poor state of U.S.-Russian and EU-Russian relations over a cliff.
Hat tips to Dr. Diane Labrosse of H-Diploand Stan Reber of the SWC
"The Viewpoints Research Institute is actually involved in three new projects. One is the $100 laptop project that Nicholas Negroponte is doing. That is coming along very well. The first 1,000 factory-built machines were built in the last few weeks. The plan is to build 5 million to 8 million laptops this summer, and perhaps as many as 50 million in 2008. We're very involved in that. The other thing is a recently fundedNSF projectthat will take a couple of giant steps, we hope, toward reinventing programming. The plan is to take the entire personal-computing experience from the end user down to the silicon and make a system from scratch that recapitulates everything people are used to—desktop publishing, Internet experiences, etc.—in less than 20,000 lines of code. It would be kind of like a Moore's Law step in software. It's going to be quite difficult to do this work in five years, but it will be exciting.
The third project we're just getting started on and don't have completely funded yet, is to make a new kind of user interface that can actually help people learn things, from very mundane things about how their computer system works to more interesting things like math, science, reading and writing. This project came about because of the $100 laptop. In order for the $100 laptop to be successful in the educational realm, it has to take on some mentoring processes itself. This is an old idea that goes all the way back to the sixties. Many people have worked on it. It just has never gotten above threshold."
Kay makes very clear that the $100 laptop effort is aimed at the Gap where children are relatively uncorrupted by the pop culture techno expectations of America. A tabula rasa to re-start the information revolution. However the economic spillover effects of such an accomplishment cannot be contained. The entire computer market will be affected to broaden societal and global access to information.
At a stroke, in American public schools, the rationale for spending billions on textbooks ( which run about $ 70 per copy on average and are exceedingly mediocre in quality) would be eliminated, as would their use as a crutch by gen-ed majors and basketball coaches posing as teachers of core academic subjects. The poorest American school districts can afford $ 100 laptops even when new textbooks are beyond their budgetary reach. Kids in East St. Louis and Watts and the moonscape of inner city Detroit can enter the information age along with Bangladeshis and Burundians.
Factor in the pirates who will produce copycat versions in places like China and we are talking about an increase in the online population of the world by several orders of magnitude with all that such connectivity entails.
Fred C. Ikle, a former Undersecretary of Defense, senior arms control mandarin and long time security scholar, has produced a thoughtful and provocative book with his Annihilation From Within. In the tradition of his fellow RAND alumnus, Herman Kahn, Ikle has tasked himself with thinking about the unthinkable but he has done so without the former's sense of humor or optimism, which renders AFW a slim yet dour read.
Back in 1999, in The Future and It's Enemies, Virginia Postrelhypothesized a growing political split over the implications of technology and social change between "dynamists", who favored freedom of experimentation and "stasists"who favor top-down, social and political controls over technological progress. Ikle is clearly in the latter camp; while much of AFW is devoted to the outcome of a nuclear attack "from within", Ikle spends a fair amount of time worrying about the advent of "superintelligence", the dystopian potential of exotic technology and ends with a plea for a consideration of "stationary-state"economic theory. Shades of the Club of Rome.
Ikle adeptly identifies critical security vulnerabilities and likely hypothetical scenarios that the national security and defense communities have not adequately addressed. More than identifies, Ikle himself has attempted to nudge policy makers into taking necessary steps to minimize the chances of nuclear catastrophe as he once convinced General Curtis LeMayto establish screening procedures for military personnel who had access to nuclear weapons and used coded safety locks on the weapons themselves. The concerns Ikle raises are well worth raising and most should be acted upon to some degree, which is one reason AFW is a "must read" book for anyone interested in strategic or security studies.
That being said, Ikle falls into the common fallacy of futurist books of this type on two counts. First assuming that all that which is necessary for the worst case scenario to come pass will fall perfectly in to place. He does this most strenuously with the subjects upon which he has the least to say, such as on "superintelligence" ( which, none of us, in actuality can assess the parameters of, for reasons of self-referential limitations). Secondly, aside from dismissing the benefits of the exotic technologies that Ikle fears, he corrupts his probabilistic estimates of disaster by not accounting for all the positive downstream effects of new technologies that will also be causing societal shifts.
Dr. Barnett had one of his more freewheeling, "thinking out loud" posts up today, "What grand strategy is to me" that I recommend. It's not short but Tom hits many points of interest from horizontal thinking to cultivating the mindset of a grand strategist for the need to shift persons but not the position of grand strategist from American life. Some excerpts:
"Systematic thinking about the future means you're not "for" or "against" issues like peak oil or global warming, you just accept the dynamics implied and rank them accordingly. As such, you will always disappoint the single-issue-trumps-all crowd, because you do not subvert your entire logic to their presumed hierarchy. ....When government's role in grand strategy is explored, its primary function is that of enabler of overriding era trends, thus grand strategy is contextualized at all times. This is crucial for someone who approaches grand strategy from the perspective of national security, because the military's tendency--especially in the United States--is to view war strictly within the context of war (our penchant for annihilation). Thus, one great purpose of grand strategy for me is help the military come back to society ....A fundamental characteristic of grand strategy is adaptive planning according to fundamental rule sets enunciated in said strategy. Strategy is neither confirmed nor denied by events, for it is not an objective reality but a desired end state (think "Groundhog Day"). ....It is a good and worthy profession. It needs serious exploration for the purposes of rule-setting. It is too often tied to individual personalities when it needs to be a skill set that is repeatably applied as a strategic planning solution. It should not be outsourced to columnists and talking heads, but should remain organic to the field of national security. It is a skill we lost across the Cold War, primarily because of the success of the "wise men" in the late 1940s and early 1950s. But that vision no longer holds sway."
It is a highly useful exercise, in my view, to go back and plumb the memoirs and papers of men like Churchill, Stimson, Acheson, Marshall, Nitze, Forrestal, Kennan, Dulles, Byrnes and others who were " present at the creation". Not all of them were, technically speaking, grand strategists and quite a few were wrong on points large and small. Some of them schemed and others curried favor, while holding their democratically elected superiors in contempt. But these were insightful, well educated, men who took the responsibility of statesmanship seriously and for whom country came before party. At least most of the time.
At times, their prose is even a pleasure to read. Acheson on the Coal and Steel community that healed 80 years of Franco-German rancor or Stimson on the art of the possible in Eastern Europe after Yalta, is a level of understanding of foreign affairs often absent in Washington today.
I have simply added it to my future " must read" list, though I was most pleased to note that I have several of the Colonel's recommendations on my bookshelf already. For the military theorist set, there are a number of titles of interest as well.
"Idea #7 a description by Linda Stone of her extremely apt phrase for our chaotic times: "Continuous Partial Attention (CPA)" .
I think Linda's phrase ranks right up there with Information Anxiety and Future Shock in drawing our attention to how technology is creating a condition I call "too much stuff - too little time" which gets worse as the dilemma of information overload and attention scarcity continues unabated.
Here's an abstract of Linda's concept of CPA
"This constant checking of handheld electronic devices has become epidemic, and it illustrates what I call 'continuous partial attention.' Although continuous partial attention appears to mimic that much discussed behavior, multitasking, it springs from a different impulse. When we multitask, we are trying to be more productive and more efficient, giving equal priority to all the things we do—simultaneously filing or copying papers, talking on the phone, eating lunch, and so forth. Multitasking rarely requires much cognitive processing, because the tasks involved are fairly automatic. Continuous partial attention, by contrast, involves constantly scanning for opportunities and staying on top of contacts, events, and activities in an effort to miss nothing. It’s an adaptive behavior that has emerged over the past two decades, in stride with Web-based and mobile computing, and it connects us to a galaxy of possibilities all day every day. The assumption behind the behavior is that personal bandwidth can match the endless bandwidth technology offers."
Stone argues that personal bandwidth is not up to the task and, as a result, a backlash to continuous partial attention has already started. She also worries that information overload will burn people out much more quickly as they strain to keep up with an increasing number of information sources all screaming for attention. " It occured to me from Stone's use of the term "scanning" that "continuous partial attention" is a behavior that probably has a strong evolutionary base as it would offer obvious survival advantages to early humans who manifested that kind of alert and reactive perception to minor changes in the immediate environment. A behavior that can be relaxed when we are in locales where our need for safety and security are relatively assured norms.
Scanning for information in Continuous Partial attention increases the velocity of information flow to the brain and we would be constantly assessing the value of the given information in terms of "spending" our attention by increasing our focused concentration and going "deeper". Judiciously practiced, continuous partial attention would yield certain efficiencies in terms of time saved and increased probablity for generating bursts of insight. These would be moments where real learning could potentially take place, opportunities to acquire or, add to, useful knowledge.
The ability to assess information while it is in a dynamic state of flow would appear to be critical. Without that cognitive function establishing the moment for increased attention (and screening out the less valuable flows, the partial attention would come to resemble "white noise" where jumbles of data would represent a stressful, chaotic, environment in which thinking would be more difficult.
Dave is pointing to the development of visualization tools to help bring analytic order to a CPA state. It may be that some day, instead of scrolling through readers or meta-aggregators, we might have montages that we can view and then decide to click an image to read a particular post out of hundreds in just a a second or two; or symbolic ordering systems to classify new posts and articles according to our own criteria. A "visualization before reading" format.
"Some days ago I attended a talk on human information processing by Thomas Mussweiler from theUniversity of Colognewho spoke at theColumbia Business School. Mussweiler and colleagues conducted an impressive number of experiments on the mechanisms and influences of individual information processing. A simple example would be to ask you to determine your best athletic performance. You have two basic options: 1) You think of every single athletic moment in your life, i.e. you engage in absolute information processing, or 2) you compare what you recollect as some of your best performances to a given standard, e.g. a famous athlete’s performance (or a famous couch potato’s performance). Not surprisingly it turns out that comparison allows to process information in a more efficient manner.
Mussweiler went on to talk about various factors that influence the comparisons we make, most importantly the standards we employ for comparing information. His experiments used a technique called “priming” to activate certain standards – for example, subjects were asked to judge a trait in a person. The result shows that priming a trait concept (such as aggressiveness) will induce the subject to judge the target person according to that trait. In other words, once activated, standards are spontaneously compared to the target person."
This is very interesting. "Priming" would be an efficiency mechanism for rapid mental screening of a large number of things. It is also a "bias mechanism" that would strongly predispose you to see some evidence of what pattern you are looking for, even if it does not exist. It would be very much like the " Framing" of George Lakoffin its effect.
"High level strategic learning often requires constant self-regulation and error monitoring strategies, metacognition (thinking about the thought processes), sometimes specific memory techniques (metamemory or conscious thinking about memory)."
Such self-regulative monitoring provides a mental check against racing ahead with a dubious but attractive premise. It would also tend to derail the the likelihood of the amygdala becoming overly engaged in the heat of the argument and turning us into red-faced, sputtering, arm-waving, buffoons with a surge of emotionality.
"All of these and countless other tales of institutional woe in our national security system can be traced to bad management. Those who share this view and have first-hand experience are loathe to call it “leadership” because leaders would have long since found a way out of the mess our hard- and soft-power institutions find themselves in. People who were on the job in national-security positions before 9/11 will readily divulge that nothing substantial has changed in the past five years; they probably log more hours, but the administrivia is as thick as ever and the security, budgetary and procedural morass – not to mention inter-agency in-fighting - is just as bad as it has always been. Those who joined after 9/11 have no frame of reference, but the fact that many are opting to vote with their feet indicates they know a bad thing when they see it. ....I have waxed and waned about the need to purge current management because it can be dangerous to paint with too broad a brush. However, this latest round of stories about business as usual in our national security apparatus has forced me to cast off any misgivings I might have harbored for throwing out a very small baby in a great volume of tepid, fetid bathwater. We should thank those who have served honorably for their time, energy and sacrifice, but their time is over." Read all of it.
Hard to say that the Bush administration's recently negotiated deal with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program isn't a positive step. Cautious optimism and use of the agreement as a platform on which to build toward removing nuclear materials and technology from North Korea is about the best we can hope for, short of launching a major war for regime change ( which we are not placed to do and no one would support, short of some reckless military action by Pyongyang). A few seeds placed in the working groups section of the agreement from which a larger, regional, security structure, perhaps an " East Asian NATO", can grow.
Milt Bearden, the highly respected CIA operative who managed American covert operations to aid the Afghan mujahedin during the Soviet War, has strong cautions in an op-ed on a possible war with Iran in the International Herald Tribune. An excerpt:
"The Bush administration might dismiss the need to negotiate with Iran's blustering president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over Tehran's nuclear aspirations and the proxy wars it is accused of waging in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. But Washington should nevertheless remember that the modern nation of Iran traces its roots back to ancient Persia and that beneath every Iranian lies a Persian who views his country in the context of "Greater Iran." Even before Rome conquered the Western world, the lands controlled by a series of Persian empires stretched from the Caucasus to the Indus River, a cultural and sometimes political arc that not so long ago contained Iraq and Afghanistan and much, much more."
It is almost certainly true that the Pasdaran is providing military aid to Shiite militias inside Iraq and possible to likely that Hezbollah operatives are present as well. Where this leads to deaths or injury of American troops, it is perfectly appropriate for U.S. forces to retaliate or even initiate lethal operations if that is what is required to "send a message" to indicate the kinds of conduct that will not be tolerated. Trying to root out Iranian personnel "fish" from the Iraqi Shiite population "sea" is a hopeless task for U.S. troops. Applying pressure to Iranian interests inside Iraq, or even across the Iranian border, on the other hand, is more easily done. At times, it can be stealthily done, depending on the message CENTCOM or Washington would care to send Teheran.
Moreover, there is no reason, to cite the Afghan War example, that we cannot bleed Iranian special operatives on Iraqi streets even as we talk to Iranian diplomatic plenipotentiaries across polished conference tables. We did it with the Soviets to good effect in the 1980's and the former activity seemed to reinforce the seriousness of the latter. The Iranian regime has many dangerous, hostile and fanatical elements but it is also riven with corruption, stultifying authoritarianism and looming economic problems. Teheran is not ten feet tall by any means nor is that factionalized, clerical, government as wholly irrational or erratic as is Pyongyang, to whom we do talk.
Diplomacy may fail but we shouldn't fail to try diplomacy before rolling the dice on a major war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin rattled the diplomatic set with a pugnacious and critical speech about American foreign policy that was a clever mixture of blunt realpolitik, obvious gestures for domestic consumption, a play for the sympathy of the anti-American Left in Europe and the anti-Bush Left in America. It was also a not so subtle form of pressure on the Bush administration to treat Russia as a great power partner in world affairs, especially the Middle East.
Russia of course, while not an enemy of the United States, would like all of the goodies that come with being an American strategic partner without having to ante up anything of substantive import in return. While not much praise can be given to the unimaginative, backburner, American policy toward Russia since the Soviet collapse in 1991, the Bush administration has at least been smart enough to not reward empty talk from the Kremlin until Putin puts something concrete on the table. Something the Russian leader has steadfastly refused to do on Iraq, Iran or much of anything else.
Addressing Putin's specific remarks:
"The United States has overstepped its national borders in every way," he said in an address at an annual international security conference here. "Nobody feels secure anymore, because nobody can take safety behind the stone wall of international law."
I have also read this statement more literally translated as " hide behind international law", which to my reading of Putin, is more in tune with his ex-KGB cynical realism and "Great Russia" nationalism. The statement above reads more like the Foreign Ministry approved text.
On one level, Putin speaks for many foreign leaders who are unhappy with American intervention in Iraq and other places overseas even as American power hems in their own regional ambitions. The Bush administration has failed to use diplomacy, particularly public diplomacy, well or offer realistic carrots to win over the mercurial fence-sitters who do not give a fig for Iraq of Islamist terrorism but care deeply about other subjects. Using hard power successfully requires making the connections beforehand that minimize counterbalancing "blowback" and this chore the Bush administration has been unwilling or unable to do.
On another, deeper, level this is a very illuminating and an honest realpolitik assessment, while being cleverly worded to appeal to Bush critics and International Law professor types who believe that the world actually turns on the moral implications of their abstruse interpretations of treaty conventions. What Putin is really acknowledging is that the previous, Cold War era, ability to carry out policies that were serious threats to the vital interests of other states, especially America, because of " plausible deniability" created by fig leaf nods to international law, is now much riskier.
The plausible deniability for which Putin longs, served a critical purpose -to avoid escalating a minor regional conflict into a superpower confrontation, so the U.S. and U.S.S.R. were forced to look the other way on many instances of terrorism, subversion, espionage and nuclear proliferation involving each other's clients. We had to grin and bear it or strike back at the Soviet bloc with equal indirection, sometimes in a wholly unrelated sphere. This dynamic suited the Soviets well which is why they also fiercely resisted Nixon-Kissinger "linkage" at the bargaining table. Lacking the nuclear tripwire, the need for Washington to pretend hostile actions are anything but hostile was going to fade regardless of who was president, but 9/11 and Bush administration ideological convictions vastly accelerated the process.
"we don't want Iran to feel cornered."
Translation: "We need Iranian cash. We can't afford to be seen backing down to Washington and continue to be regarded as a viable alternative arms supllier to the United States. We are against you attacking Iran, even though, frankly, we Russians don't like Iranians or Ahmadinejad very much but find Iran useful as a counterweight to American power in the region, and this overrides longer term concerns."
"It is a world of one master, one sovereign … it has nothing to do with democracy,” he said. “This is nourishing the wish of countries to get nuclear weapons.”
This is laughable to anyone with rudimentary knowledge of the history of nuclear weapons but it is good propaganda for justifying Russia's assistance to Iran's nuclear weapons program. Nor does possession of a small nuclear arsenal help much against the United States, if Pervez Musharraf is to be believed. It will help you against your neighbors in your own nation-state weight class though.
How serious is Putin ? Recall that politically, Putin takes the wind out of extremist parties, Right or Left, by preventing them from waving the flags of Nationalism and Neo-Sovietism by doing so himself " responsibly". His governing class, the Siloviki, were entirely insincire Communists in Soviet times, KGB pragmatists who saw the world from the prism of power, carrots, sticks and dirty tricks. The Siloviki hold all the power in Russia and political opposition is effectively neutered and could, if they had chosen to do so, enact far more aggressive anti-Western policies. They and Putin have not because it isn't in their personal interest or Russia's to get into serious conflicts with the U.S. or the E.U.
1. Accidental Influentials 2. Entrepreneurial Japan 3.Brand Magic: Harry Potter Marketing. 4.Algorithms in the Attic 5.The Leader from Hope 6.An Emerging Hotbed of User-Centered Innovation 7.Living With Continuous Partial Attention 8.Borrowing from the PE Playbook 9.When To Sleep On It 10. Here Comes XBRL 11. Innovation and Growth: Size Matters 12. Conflicted Consumers 13. What Sells When Father Knows Best 14. Business in the Nanocosm 15. Act Globally, Think Locally 16. Seeing is Treating 17. The Best Networks Are Really Worknets 18. Why U.S. Healthcare Costs Aren't Too High 19. In Defense of "Ready, Fire, Aim 20. The Folly of Accountabalism
An impressive density of concepts and commentary in just a couple of medium size posts.
Nexon and Neumann have a brilliant touchstone concept for Generation Y here. Even the students who dislike reading have read Harry Potter. A quick poll of my own students revealed a number just shy of 100% have read at least one book in the series and a slight majority have read them all. A large majority have watched every Harry Potter movie. They are saturated in all things Potter the way an earlier generation of baby boomers drank deeply of The Lord of the Rings.
"We should all therefore greatly admire those few Army officers who have tried to wake their dinosaur up. None has done more than Major Don Vandergriff. Not only has he produced two excellent books that get at the heart of the Army's problem, its personnel system, he also led a highly successful reform of the Army's Georgetown University ROTC program. ROTC is, for the most part, a sad joke. Vandergriff's program was a highly demanding, creative exercise in building real leaders. Many of its graduates have gone on to outstanding performance as platoon and company commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Major Vandergriff (recently retired, which illustrates why the Army is hopeless) has turned his experiences at Georgetown into a new book, Raising the Bar: Creating and Nurturing Adaptability to Deal with the Changing Face of War. Unlike most reform books, his is a book of solutions, not just problems.
Top-down reform, like the Army's ongoing "Transformation" program, changes little but appearances. Vandergriff recognizes that real reform has to come primarily bottom-up. He writes:
After long study and analysis of the Army's existing system, it is clear that focusing efforts on people who already have had their character defined and shaped by the antiquated personnel system, or what I refer to as today's leadership paradigm, will be ineffective. Rather, the effective transformation of the Army requires the cultivation of a very different military mindset, starting at the cadet, or pre-commissioning, level. As one former ROTC cadet—now a captain serving with the Special Forces—recently observed: "Why not begin the reform where it all begins?"
At the heart of Vandergriff's reforms of Army education lies a shift away from teaching officers what to think and what to do—endless processes, recipes and formulas, learned by rote—to teaching how to think, through, as he writes:
1) a case study learning method; 2) tactical decision games; 3) free play force-on-force exercises; and 4) feedback. . The academic methods employed in support of the pillars include: small group lectures, small group training exercises, exercise simulations, staff rides and private study.
...Rightly, Vandergriff rejects the "crawl, walk, run" approach now favored in American military education, which in reality seldom gets beyond "crawl." He recommends instead what one German general called "the Hansel and Gretel approach: first you let the kids get lost in the woods."
The POI (Program Of Instruction) begins the development of adaptability through exposure to scenario-based problems as early as possible. The POI should put students in tactical and non-tactical situations that are "above their pay grade" in order to challenge them.
The purpose, I would add, is not just to challenge them but to develop in them the habit of "looking up" and seeing their own situation in a larger context that is essential for mission-type orders to work."
Those who read Thomas X. Hammes, The Sling And The Stone, may recall Hammes' endorsement of free play training as a tool for creating an officer corps capable of handling 4GW opponents.
These sort of exercises are very powerful teaching tools because they stress a fluid combination of imaginative speculation, analysis, methodical problem-solving and drawing upon existing knowledge - and does so under the crucible of situational pressure. Some of you readers were fortunate enough to be taught in a classroom that relied heavily upon the Socratic method, which incorporates some of the same aspects, to a lesser degree, in a classroom setting (if you weren't, then think of the Professor Kingsfield character in the movie, The Paper Chase).
Vandergriff would have the Army teach its officers a mode of thinking that ought to have been inculcated in public school so that every citizen, civilian or soldier, can think critically, independently and creatively. This is not cognitive training for war but for life.
First, I'd like to give a big tip o' the Zenpundit hat to Dave Davison of Thoughts Illustrated for bringing the following links to my attention. Ever since Critt Jarvis connected the two of us last Spring, Dave has steadily enriched my thinking by introducing me to new ideas and thought leaders, something I much appreciate.
Visualizing information is becoming an increasingly important tool in business, government and education for allowing people to understand, comprehend and manipulate large amounts of data quickly and effectively. Both the Intelligence Community concerned with analyzing threats to our national security and private sector tech companies interested in buildingWeb2.0applications are diving deepinto visualization techniques. If you use power point presentations for business on an extensive basis may be familiar with the work ofEdward Tufte, a leading expert in the field of visualizing information.
In teaching children or adults, I frequently make use of diagrams or have students create their own visual formats in order to get them to integrate concepts and make connections that previously might have gone unnoticed. Some very important aspects of history and some areas of the sciences ( say, modern physics) are counterintuitive - they run against our natural logic of how the situation "should" play out. Practicing visualization of information can bring these non-obvious elements to light, make them more concrete and stimulate students to ask questions.
Combining symbolic visual formats and text also engages multiple regions of the viewer's brain when they "read" it, possibly making the information more meaningful to a larger group of students with different learning styles.
Top billing. The issue, while seemingly a dry one of inside-the-beltway bureaucratic wrangling among deputy assistant secretaries really could not be more important for increasing the resiliency of U.S. foreign policy. Why can't the United States respond effectively to nimble 4GW groups ? Look to the lack of "operational jointness", " unified action" and " System Administration" and the plethora of turf battles and bureaucratic empire building. More on this topic in the near future.
Kolko is the well known Marxist historian and one of the more credible scholars (i.e. he's a real historian, not a Noam Comsky type polemicist) with an unrelentingly critical view of the United States. I'm holding this one up as a negative example; as a vigorous argument for isolationism and for a weakness of reasoning that assumes as static benefits of global interventionism ( bad actions deterred by the potential of intervention are ignored but are assumed to continue after a shift to isolationism) as a given while counting only the costs.
I agree this is disturbing. I am no expert on Turkish politics but there seems to be an emerging strand of crypto-Islamist rejectionism of the West in Turkey that is larger than issues over Iraq. To hazard a guess, anti-Americanism is partly a safe "euphemistic" discourse to hide opposition to secularist Kemalism ( which if you oppose openly in Turkey -or even not so openly -that gets your party banned and perhaps you a jail sentence). Anti-Americanism or anti-Westernism can be presented as Turkish nationalism, even when it masks an ideology that is decidely transnationalist.
Speaking of disturbing. George Soros appears to be becoming unhinged. Does he realize that he - a major Democratic Party and liberal organization contributor - is openly suggesting introducing Kangaroo Courts to try Republicans and conservatives or is he so isolated in a bubble that he does not realize how that statement sounds to folks who are not on the MoveOn.org email list ?
How would Soros like somebody saying " We should de-naturalize and deport politically active, authoritarian, crackpot, billionaires who violate the Logan Act?"
"Here is a whole corpus of writing about which I knew nothing. I have in the meantime obtained a copy of the translation of the Demolins book, Anglo-Saxon Superiority, To What is it Due? (1907). The beginning of it is a summary of the writing of M. de Tourville, which discusses how the Saxons came to dominate all the other invaders, Angles, Danes, Normans, because of their cultural practices, particularly nuclear families, which Tourville calls “particularist” social structure. The Saxons generated a unique type of state apparatus as a result, operating large states on a federal-type basis. For example, note this passage:
We know how, under Egbert, the Heptarchy fell under the domination of the Saxons. But the latter did not give the Angles a Saxon government, nor did they foist Saxon officials on them, for the good reason that their political development was most limited, their strength lying more in private than in public life. They never dreamt of administering conquered peoples in the fashion adopted by the Romans, and later by the Spaniards and the French. Their idea was rather — and has remained — a Federation. Thus were started by the Saxons that former United States of England. So little did they aim at constituting the model of a large empire, that their king continued to call himself simply ‘King of the Saxons of the West’. Yet he was sovereign over the whole island.
Remarkable if true. We see the Saxons at the earliest possible date showing the genius for distributed power and federal arrangements that we in the Anglosphere still have today. Unfortunately, the Demolins book, which I am halfway through, is more focused on reform in France a century ago, with the English case only as a background."
Very intriguing. At the time the Demolins book was published, the troubled Third Republic was deeply split politically, socially and culturally. There was, to an extent, in France, a sense of anxiety over the might of the "Anglo-Saxon powers", rising America and reigning Great Britain and paranoia about the aforementioned power's distant Teutonic cousins in Wilhelmine Germany. On the other hand, admiration for British political institutions was not unusual among French intellectuals prior to the 20th century - Montesquieu and Voltaire being the most famous examples of that tradition.
The much disputed Iraq NIE key judgments summary was released in an unclassified PDF version with a description of changes in analytical methodology. These were mildly interesting to me but any intel wonk types hoping for the addition of bold, untried, new analytical techniques are going to be disappointed. What was added should help enhance clarity for non-professional readers and make any artificial, imposed, analytical consensus look more...well...marginally artificial and imposed.
As for substance, the document is remarkable for its lack of surprises. There are complaints that the NIE has not taken into account the results of a successful surge campaign on Iraq. That is true, but the surge is a tactical manuver by the U.S. military that will not change the underlying strategic dynamic among Iraqi factions. It would simply create a zone of decreased conflict level and a breathing space for a negotiation of a political solution, it is not a political solution in itself. Someone actualy has to take advantage of what a successful surge provides.
The realism about the limits of regional actors (Iran, Syria, Turkey, KSA) to influence various Iraqi factions is worth highlighting as diplomacy, while useful, is not going to be a silver bullet, even if you assume the good faith of all interested parties. In my view, these states can offer real assistance (if they were inclined ) to the U.S. in containing Iraq's problems from spreading, but that's about the best that could be expected of them as it hinges on their own self-interest.
For those who are unaware, William Arkin is a defense intellectual and critic of the Bush administration who blogs at the Washington Postunder the rubric Arkin's Early Warning. He is also the author of Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs and Operations in the 9/11 World - a book that is invaluable as a reference on contemporary operations to military historians, though by virtue of " outing" quasi-secret and secret military and intel nomenclature. I mention this because I wish to be clear that Arkin is not a Georgetown cocktail party " expert" playing pundit but someone who really knows his stuff.
"These soldiers should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President's handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect.
Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order.
Sure it is the junior enlisted men who go to jail, but even at anti-war protests, the focus is firmly on the White House and the policy. We just don't see very man "baby killer" epithets being thrown around these days, no one in uniform is being spit upon.
So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?
I can imagine some post-9/11 moment, when the American people say enough already with the wars against terrorism and those in the national security establishment feel these same frustrations. In my little parable, those in leadership positions shake their heads that the people don't get it, that they don't understand that the threat from terrorism, while difficult to defeat, demands commitment and sacrifice and is very real because it is so shadowy, that the very survival of the United States is at stake. Those Hoover's and Nixon's will use these kids in uniform as their soldiers. If I weren't the United States, I'd say the story end with a military coup where those in the know, and those with fire in their bellies, save the nation from the people.
But it is the United States and instead this NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force that thinks it is doing the dirty work." Well, now.
Technically, from the perspective of military history, Arkin is correct that professional soldiery are a " mercenary" force. John Keegan has written the same thing in another context. Militaries come in only a few basic forms, conscripts, mercenaries and caste - and professionals from the Swiss Guards to Renaissance captains to the U.S. military have war as their vocation.
That being said, Arkin was not using " mercenary" in that context but in the casual perjorative meaning, as a slur. And he knows it. Why did he do it ? Because he was mad that troops in Iraq, guys to whom the label of " chickenhawk" won't stick nor with whom could stronger insults be applied without incurring the wrath of WaPo editors, criticized the anti-war movement. Accurately criticized, more to the point. The troops you, see, are supposed to shut up and ol' Bill was incensed.
I'm a believer in free speech so I do not support calls for Arkin to fired, censored, physically menaced, burned at the stake or whatever. The man has just made a fool out of himself on a national platform and plenty of people are letting him know it. The justifiable verbal abuse being heaped in his direction comes as a direct cost of saying stupid things.
Particularly, when everyone knows that you know better. You want to blog Bill ? Learn to take your lumps like a man.