Friday, July 30, 2004

While driving down to Boston from Bar Harbor the other day I mulled over the new type of force structure that Dr. Barnett envisions called " System Administrator " that would complement the already existing " Leviathan " capability of the United States military. In part Dr. Barnett is asking the USG to reorganize some of the things the military already does in " missions other than war " but he's also indicating the need for evolution toward a whole new service. " Small Wars " involve " Big Chores " that extend beyond blowing up bad guys and their real estate. I'm going to blog in more detail later but here's the difference, as I see it, between " Leviathan " and " System Administrator " in quick and dirty conceptual terms. First, what Leviathan is:

Leviathan :

Unidimensional ( warfighting)
Regime Change
Unconditional Surrender
Total War
Hard Power
Rule Sets
Chain of Command

Leviathan would be the composed of the core forces assembled to fight " the big one " - carriers, armored divisions, strategic bombers and the like. A very large and dramatic iron fist designed to do one thing - swiftly crush an opponent completely and utterly.

By contrast, System Administrator would have to be good at many things traditionally done by peacetime governments while still retaining the organization and combat ability of a military force. The purpose here is " Connectivity " for struggling or failed states; the System Administrator comes in and helps these societies connect to the Core by alleviating multiple problems long enough for the Gap state to " catch it's breath " and stabilize. In other words, the System Administrator would have significant para-civilian program capabilities backed by military prowess.

System Administrator:

Regional or Local
Rule Sets
Regime Build
Limited War
Smart Power

A System Administrator force is much more like an expedition than an invasion. Sure there are Special Operations guys to engage in counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and training but the army engineer, the medical corpsman or the legal advisor might be, in a given situation, just as important to the success of the mission to " Shrink the Gap ". Flexibility, adaptibility and creative engagement would be the watchwords of a hypothetical System Administration force.

Sort of the Alliance for Progress.... but with Apache helicopters for air support.


And nary a word about John Kerry.

Mrs. Zenpundit and I have just finished a pleasant week in greater New England. We watched the sun set on the Cadillac summit on Mount Desert Island, hiked through Acadia national park, ate ice cream in Amherst and Kennebunkport and went to the Saint Aggripina fest in North End tonght in Boston. By the way, if you visit Bean Town, have the veal at Antico Forno. It's delicious !

It's been a good vacation but I'm ready to head back to Chicago.
Friday, July 23, 2004

I'm headed to Boston Saturday morning and then on to New Hampshire and Maine, perhaps with a short jaunt to Nova Scotia.  When I return in a week I'll have some posts on cultivating strategic thinking, the memetic danger posed by Europe's transnationally progressive" Kantian rule-sets" and some more thoughts on PNM - particularly on the Big Chores of the Small Wars of the Gap.

In the meantime check out Soxblog and Flit(tm) , now added to the blogroll.  Both were featured recently on Dr. Barnett's blog and T.M. Lutas had very astute observations regarding the Europeans in the comments today. If you are interested blogging at the Democratic Convention with an emphasis on that party's Foreign Policy issues, particularly those of the Mideast, visit Kirk Johnson's U.S. Amnesia blog.

See you in August !

Tom Barnett has an excellent post on the utter failure of our national security pros, our elected leaders and the 9/11 Commission  to engage in strategic analysis. The McClellan metaphor is apt. Our foreign policy elites - the CFR/NYT/Kennedy School of Government/Carnegie - love Powell because he represents the security of inaction and watchful waiting as the answer to all problems. We are to move only in concert with every major power to accomplish the marginal after the bulk of the crisis has passed. It's a posture of fatalism and acceptance of decline.
Here's a few good quotes from Tom's blog:

"But guess what? Altering the Intelligence Community's organizational charts won't do that. At best we may understand the world a bit better only to find the IC at greater odds with the Pentagon regarding what needs to be done about it. We are not going to generate a new grand strategy from the IC up (if you want to see how bad such strategies can be, read Anonymous or Richard Clarke), and it sure as hell won't be centered on winning the hearts and minds of would-be terrorists—much less killing them in increasingly clever ways. This is symptom-treating at its worst, but we reach for it because—frankly—it’s the easiest approach for Congress to take: write a bill forcing a certain amount of organizational change and then designate some counter-terrorist center (or better yet, designate a whole slew of them and spread them around numerous congressional districts) and be done with it. "

"I've been watching Ken Burns' "Civil War" on DVD as I exercise on the treadmill late at night, after the kids go to bed. Whenever I watch anything on the Civil War, it reminds me that, in many ways, it marked the beginning of the world we now live in. The first great wave of Globalization began soon after its conclusion, and the nature of that war presaged the two world wars that would later be fought around the planet, but primarily within Europe as civil wars themselves.

When I watch the documentary series, I see a Core-North imposing its will and integration upon a Gap-South that prefers to continue with its exclusionary rule sets by which some rule and others are ruled. I see a Core-North with all its frightening mixing of the races and cultures and industries and ideologies bearing down on the bucolic South that seems so pristine in its oneness—albeit bought at the price of slavery. I see southern insurgents fighting. Why? As Shelby Foote puts it (I paraphrase here), "Because you Northerners insist on coming down here and changing our ways." I see the Gap-South's romanticism of the land and its rejection of modernity and change and industrialization. I see the Core-North's ruthlessness as an invading force decried and yet embraced as the necessary "remedy." I see a war that begins as one to save the Union swiftly becoming one to rid the Union of the terrible scourge of slavery—the ultimate in disconnectedness. "
Americans are not good at strategic thinking because our time horizons are too short and our chains of reasoning are too linear.  We think end of quarter, end of day, range of the moment, hierarchy, chain of command,  rigidly, catergorical and compartmentalized, A to B to C.  This makes us very adaptive in terms of tactics but you can win all the battles and still lose a war.

Strategic thinking requires a panoramic view,  longitudinal decision tree possibilities, calculating probabilities, intuitive connections across domains,  " global" right and left brain cognition.  A good supply of historical and scientific information helps flesh things out and keep the strategy anchored in reality.

We need Sun-Tzu and Machiavelli, not Clausewitz and McNamara.



Blowing My Own Horn Department:  Yesterday I wrote about Sandy berger's pilfering in the National Archives....

"Probably Richard Clark had a strong " get bin Laden " recommendation in his after-action report that Bill Clinton personally nixed or something of that nature."
Today, according to  an editorial in the New York Sun,  the 9-11 Commission Report states:

"On December 4, 1999, the National Security Council’s counterterrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, sent Mr. Berger a memo suggesting a strike in the last week of 1999 against Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Reports the commission: “In the margin next to Clarke’s suggestion to attack Al Qaeda facilities in the week before January 1, 2000, Berger wrote, ‘no.’ ”     In August of 2000, Mr. Berger was presented with another possible plan for attacking Mr. bin Laden.This time, the plan would be based on aerial surveillance from a “Predator” drone. Reports the commission: “In the memo’s margin,Berger wrote that before considering action, ‘I will want more than verified location: we will need, at least, data on pattern of movements to provide some assurance he will remain in place.’ ”     In other words, according to the commission report, Mr. Berger was presented with plans to take action against the threat of Al Qaeda four separate times — Spring 1998, June 1999, December 1999, and August 2000. Each time, Mr. Berger was an obstacle to action. Had he been a little less reluctant to act, a little more open to taking pre-emptive action, maybe the 2,973 killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks would be alive\ today. "

A career ruined to stupidly cover up a lapse in judgement on the importance of terrorism widely shared by the entire bipartisan foreign policy establishment stretching back to the 1970's.  


More HUMINT. More and varied analysts with linguistic skills. Coordination of the IC  in an an " Intelligence War Cabinet " headed by a real spymaster DCI with open-door Oval Office access and the National Security Advisor as vice-chairman.  Currently the CIA seems to do little other than reanalyze, repeatedly, intel that collected by the SIGINT agencies, the DIA and the individual branch MI services - all of which have analyzed the same data before passing it along. We need to get the CIA back into robust intel collection and recruitment of agents of influence, who are actually more important than mere " spies" in the long run.

America needs an intel "Czar"  like we need another Church Committee.

Allen Weinstein's nomination to head the National Archives goes forward. Zenpundit wishes Dr. Weinstein a swift and speedy confirmation.  Weinstein has attracted much partisan animus from the Left due to his research and writings on the guilt of Soviet spy Alger Hiss.


Will see scattered light posting with the possibility of a strategic discussion tonight. I'm preparing for a trip on Saturday so I'm not going to get any deep-thinking time until the evening.

Harbinger of the future. We will eventually only use pilots for those missions where critical judgement is required.
Thursday, July 22, 2004

The tribulations of Sandy Berger are likely to get worse before they get better.

Let me preface my comments by saying that the political effect of this stupidity does not bring joy to my right-of-center heart.  Berger was a heavyweight voice of reason on foreign policy in Democratic circles and his departure from the Kerry camp will only make things easier for the doves, transnational progressives and out and out America -hating left to influence that party's agenda. Bleah. Not good for America.

My analysis: Berger was not " stealing secrets ", more or less he probably knew generally what those documents said, having read them previously at least a couple of times while he was Clinton's APNSA. He's a patriot and that shouldn't be doubted for a second by anyone.

No, what this seems to be is a corner-cutting, political dirty-tricks move typical of the Clinton crowd in one of their innumerable clumsy attempts to cover their own ineptitude  coupled with their usual "rules are made for other people" arrogance.  Berger was at the Archives at Clinton's request, looking for specific documents in order to " clean the files " temporarily so the Clinton record on terror would look marginally less embarrassing.  Yes, it's illegal and yes Berger knew that beforehand like few others.

Probably Richard Clark had a strong " get bin Laden " recommendation in his after-action report that Bill Clinton personally nixed or something of that nature.  Now Berger will be forced, by Bill Clinton, to go through the usual stonewalling  and blame the VRWC non-response that will inflame the scandal to about five orders of magnitude more than it is worth.  Berger is now stuck taking the hit by his old boss and it will probably destroy him professionally. 

Kerry was right to distance himself as Berger is obviously  Clinton's man, not his but the scandal will stick to Kerry regardless - and if Kerry knew about theses hi-jinks, it should.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Even before Deng Xiaoping defeated his hardline Maoist opponents in the late 1970’s to set Beijing on " the capitalist road", China’s potentially bright future has been the topic of investors and statesmen. Richard Nixon foresaw China as the superpower of the 21st century. So did Brooks Adams more than a century ago. So when academics and economists are awed this year by China’s stunning, near 9 % GDP growth rate, it appears the long-predicted arrival of China may be finally coming to pass.

Since we are discussing The Pentagon’s New Map it’s of no surprise that China is a critical country in Dr. Barnett’s strategy ( which I discussed earlier here and here ). Rivaled only by India, China would be the most important part of the " New Core " of states that decided to join the " old Core" by adopting their rules and engaging with the world instead of isolating themselves from it. Barnett however, quickly identifies the crux of the problem with China's progress ( p. 241)

" Of that New Core group, China is the most worrisome, while India is the most promising…China is most worrisome because the hardest rule-set still needs to be changed – the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party"
This is an aspect that clearly worries the United States government as well. ( hat tip to Jodi) Dr. Barnett has ample descriptions in his book of Pentagon war planners and defense intellectuals envisioning China in a worst-case scenario war for dominance of East Asia.  To focus on military might alone - where the increasingly professional PLA is really still not all that impressive next to say, the IDF much less the U.S. Navy - is a mistake that Dr. Barnett does not make. He's looking at the global parameters of power that an economic surplus is giving- and demanding of - China for the first time since the fall of the Q'ing dynasty :

"Paul Krugman likes to point out that China's central bank is one of the main purchasers of Treasury bills in the world, so -in effect- they finance our trade deficit" (p. 311)


" China has to double its energy consumption in a generation if all that growth it is planning is going to occur. we know where the Chinese have to go for the energy: Russia, Central Asia and the Gulf. That's a lot of new friends to make and one significant past enemy to romance. "(p.230)

Overall, Dr. Barnett is betting that the growing complexity of connectivity's interactions as China rewrites its rule sets to accept " the four flows " of globalization is the ultimate hedge against conflict with China. Or China lapsing into the disorder that plagues the Gap states.


First, I am not a Sinologist by training and my knowledge of Chinese history lags considerably behind my understanding of say American diplomatic history, Soviet history and a few other topics. On the other hand, the last part of what I'm going to state about China here applies analytically to most societies that would have to make the transition to " the New Core ".

While China's current growth rates are amazing we have to keep a few things in mind and try to see some of this PNM scenario through Chinese rather than western eyes. 

First, China's cultural values formed during the warring states period and that China was twice unified and given stable government only by the most ruthless application of totalitarian rule.  First by the Emperor Shih Huang-ti who followed the tenets of Han Fei-tzu 's Legalist-Realist school and secondly by the equally indomitable Mao Zedong, with his own particular version of Marxism-Leninism.  In between the two despots dynasties rose and fell and generally tried to tie together a continental-sized nation with a natural centrifugal tendency to split into unrelated regional economies and eventually warlordism, civil war and dynastic collapse. In short, China's rulers do not take the unity of their country for granted the way the French or the British or postbellum Americans do.  Chinese leaders are crazed about Taiwan because in their minds if Taiwan is ever recognized by the world as an independent state than so can Tibet...and Xinjiang..and perhaps the rich coastal provinces might feel better off without their inland cousins.  An authoritarian ledership of already shaky political legitimacy may choose the economically suicidal course if they believe that Taiwan's independence will bring their regime down regardless.

Secondly, in assessing China's might keep in mind the reality of per capita facts. As Brad DeLong conveniently noted the other day hundreds of millions of Chinese remain extremely poor, living on less than a dollar a day.  Hundreds of millions more are better off than a generation ago but they still hover not terribly far above subsistence. These people are not, as most suppose, a danger to the regime. Peasants have starved for a millenia without ill political effect and these people are, fortunately, at least eating. What they represent instead is an enormous claim on the economic surplus that China is currently generating - a claim on roads, schools, hospitals, infrastructure, basic comforts  - before providing " rich " urban Chinese with internet cafes, dance clubs, imported cars or  more missile frigates for the Chinese Navy.  These people need exceptionally robust economic growth for decades to see real improvement in living standards.

Thirdly, the inner circle of China's leadership have undergone an important transformation during the end of Deng Xiaoping's tenure as paramount leader.  Unlike in the USSR where the Red Army was strictly subordinate to the CPSU, Mao's guerilla war left far greater cohesion between the PLA and the CCP. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping were bona fide military leaders. Zhu De and Lin Biao were also political leaders.  PLA generals routinely sat in the Central Committee and higher party cadres did military work. Today, China's generals and politicians are distinct leadership classes with factional interests. The generals have become much more the military professionals and no one mistakes Jiang Zemin for a field marshal. To  a certain extent, the politicians are appeasing the military elite while the latter are developing a far more narrow outlook.

Lastly, globalization brings with it to all societies a danger of raising up a countervailing power. For example, in one sense al Qaida's radicalism is merely the culmination of an ideological debate that has been going on within Islam since the Turks retreated from the gates of Vienna in 1689. But in a general sense bin Laden's violent answers only have traction among Muslims because globalization has created enough new " connections " to create economic and social upheaval in very traditional, formerly disconnected, Arab and Central Asian nations.

China's previous experience with opening up to the outside world is not a heartwarming tale. The Ming and Q'ing dynasties, like the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan, had " disconnected " from the world even as the European nations began explosive advances in science, wealth and technology. The world intruded anyway. Japan opted to reconnect via the Meiji Restoration and catch up to the West.  China resisted and suffered not only external humiliation at the hands of the West, Russia and Japan but also two internal rebellions - the Taiping Rebellion and the Boxers. The former revolt, fired by half-understood western religious ideas, was warfare of a magnitude not exceeded in scale until the western front in 1914.

China's current rulers have chosen connection but the threat of countervailing power comes not from the still disconnected but from the already connected but discontented. Al Qaida and Hizb ut-Tahrir are not filled with illiterate fanatics but lawyers, engineers, doctors and businessmen who have chosen a radical political program for the goal of Islamist religious reaction. The Nazis appealed most to the lower middle class and unemployed intellectuals who had risen but feared to sink back into the ranks of the workers during the Depression.  The Russian peasant who was most helped by Petr Stolypin's land reforms flocked not to support the Tsar but the Socialist-Revolutionaries in 1917.  In our own history the Populists and Alliancemen who agitated for cooperative economics and against banks and monopolies  in the 1880s were not workers but ex-yeomen turned tenant farmers, commercial farmers with mortgages and deflating prices.

If China's growth sags trouble will come not from the rural areas but from the tens of millions of educated, new middle-class Chinese who have had their expectations raised by cell phones, scooter bikes, refrigerators, internet access and discman players.  They will not return to the countryside and nor will they abide a loss of status that Richard Hofstadter once identified as the root of paranoid politics.

That is the tightrope China will be walking for a long time to come.




The very busy author of PNP penned an exceptionally lengthy and gracious post with a link yesterday. It was very rewarding to get that kind of response on the blogosphere. Tom's only error was to mistake me for a man of the Left which isn't the first time that has happened to me - my mentor in grad school came from the " Open Door School " and was himself an early student of William Appleman Williams. His research and reading seminars deeply immersed all of his grad and doctoral students in American economic history.  Therefore, the economic analysis I employ frequently strikes a chord on the Left, even though I draw different normative conclusions than they do.  Dr. Barnett is also formerly a prof of Marxist studies so I'm sure some economic points of reference I made were instantly recognizable to him ( I also have a number of progressives and liberals on my blogroll and my views while on the right, are eclectic. Then there's the whole Zen thing).
China and PNM will be discussed later tonight - particularly how we must beware globalization's historic propensity to raise up potential *countervailing* powers which in the case of China would make al Qaida look like a day at the beach.
Saturday, July 17, 2004

Tom Barnett’s book , The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century is hip deep in concepts which makes it both an intriguing read and a difficult review. But since this is a blog I’m free to tackle the book in parts and today I’d like to look at Barnett’s key concepts of Connectivity and his four flows of globalization that "connect " societies and nation-states into an interdependent whole. If you have a copy of PNM handy I strongly recommend you take a look at Chapter 4 " The Core and the Gap ". It’s the one where Dr. Barnett lays out the war on terror in " the context of everything else" – which is the essence of strategic thinking.

Context is important because it’s what usually gets dropped in these types of discussions because most government experts and academics are by definition niche specialists. They resist moving their arguments and ideas into the realm of everything else because it messes up their crisp clean models with real-world complications in fields where they do not feel nearly so expert. This is a major reason why American national security, foreign policy and even military planning seldom rises above the level of tactical thinking…that is when we are not stuck in crisis management, ad hoc, muddle through mode. American strategic thinkers have been so few – Brooks Adams, Alfred T. Mahan, Woodrow Wilson, Walter Lippmann, George Kennan, Paul Nitze, Herman Kahn, Richard Nixon – that a book like PNM, like Kennan’s " X" article, fills a crucial intellectual gap at the policy planning level of our government.

Dr. Barnett advocates a Global Transaction Strategy to "shrink the Gap" and promote Connectivity to integrate disconnected states into the Core, advancing the process of globalization – and in so doing extending the benefits provided by the " Rule Sets" associated with liberal democratic capitalism and the rule of law, broadly defined. Barnett further refines the enormous historical phenomenon of globalization to " four flows" between the Core and the Gap ( p. 192).

                               PNM MODEL OF GLOBALIZATION

"…four essential elements, or flows, that I believe define it’s basic functioning from the perspective of international stability. These four flows are (1) the movement of people from the Gap to the Core; (2) the movement of energy from the Gap to the New Core; (3) the movement of money from the Old Core to the New Core; (4) the exporting of security that only America can provide to the Gap."

In other words, Barnett is defining globalization as a dynamic exchange relationship involving migration, resources, money and power.
He further elaborates on his model with " the Ten Commandments of Globalization" (p.199-204):

1.   Look for resources, and ye shall find
2.   No stability, no markets
3.   No growth, no stability
4.   No resources, no growth
5.   No infrastructure, no resources
6.   No money, no infrastructure
7.   No rules, no money
8.   No security, no rules
9.   No Leviathan, no security
10. No will, no Leviathan

"Leviathan" is the enforcer of rule sets, in all practical purposes the United States acting alone, with an ad hoc coalition or through international organizations where we have a preponderant influence.
Dr. Barnett concludes his chapter with a superbly insightful (i.e. I agree with him here 100 %) explanation that conceptually ties together rogue state dictators and non-state actor terrorists into the Gordian Knot of menace that they truly are in reality (p. 205):
" A bin Laden enginerrs a 9/11 with the expressed goal of forcing the Core to clamp down on it’s borders, seek its energy elsewhere, take it’s investments elsewhere and ‘ bring the boys back home". He wants all of that connectivity gone, because its absence will afford him the chance for power over those left disconnected."
An explanation that applies equally well to Kim Jong-Il as to the erstwhile master of al Qaida. I'm just wondering why the hell the Bush administration hasn't grabbed this one since they've been struggling to convince their critics ( who are invested at treating rogue states, terrorism and WMD as disparate unrelated problems in order to do little about any of them)  that the dots that they know in fact to be connected, connect in a comprehensible way. 


My first reaction to the section on the PNM Model of Globalization was that while Barnett has described the major categorical relationships of globalization the idea could still face some further refinement in terms of defining globalization ( and what connectivity really is ) as an action. What exactly is it ?

Jude Wanniski once made the brilliant observation in his book, The Way The World Works, that there is and always has been only one market in existence – the global market. Wanniski’s statement implied, correctly in my view, that the term " Globalization " is really describing something other than a new connecting of markets and cultures because they have always been connected to some degree however small. Even North Korea, in its self-imposed lunatic isolation, was never an autarky. The DPRK always had foreign goods, people and ideas – starting with Communism itself- flowing across its borders – the difference was in terms of degree.

Tariffs, immigration quotas, censorship, banking regulations, propaganda, environmental rules, cultural preferences or aversions, borders, police, armies, bureaucratic paperwork and all the other man-made obstacles to Tom Barnett’s " four flows" do not stop the transactions and interactions – they slow them down and limit them to an artificially narrow, politically chosen, rate.
I would therefore define globalization as " the general acceleration of the rate and widening of the parameters of exchange ". When we discuss globalization’s effects we are looking at the results of a recent global increase in the speed and the range of human interactions compared to the past, thanks to trade liberalization, the internet, the fall of Communism and the other systemic changes of the last twenty years.
" Connectivity" might be a good way to express the degree to which a nation has maximized their possible rate and range of exchange – The UK is more " connected " than Russia which in turn is more " connected than Kazakhstan. If I was more able at quantitative analysis I could probably bat out a reasonably valid, rough and ready 100 point scale to measure a nation’s connectivity in terms of " the four flows" ( Unfortunately "…this is a job for…Brad DeLong !" or at least somebody with a Ph.d in Econ ). It could be plotted out on a bell curve and at a certain tipping point a nation could be considered " disconnected" which is where you would expect to find many states of the Gap. I would also include the movement of ideas as a " fifth flow" of globalization, particularly scientific ideas but Dr. Barnett was looking at globalization the prism of strategic American and Core interests – hence the movement of people, energy, money and security. 

Next post I want to examine the PNM strategy as it relates to China’s connectivity as part of " The New Core".  Four years ago, on the H-Diplo listserv, in a post called " The Coming of the Global Hypereconomy" I posited some observations regarding the potentially centrifugal effects of an uneven spread of connectivity with high rates of speed in a nation of the size of China. I'm not certain if I would be as pessimistic today but the post does retain a great deal of congruence
Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Foreign Policy Society.

How much does it currently cost to connect around the globe ? A lot. Often a day's or a week's wages.

It's summer. I've got better things to do, books to read, places to travel....

Here at Zenpundit we're slothful and proud of it !

Go here. Hat Tip, Milt's File.
Monday, July 12, 2004

"Taxes could kill my business. I doubt that will happen, but it is an outside possibility. We have yet to turn a profit, but have paid more in taxes than we have for anything else except labor. I knew before I started this that taxes on businesses made it tough, but experiencing it firsthand really drives it home. Mailing checks to the government when I can't pay some of my other bills infuriates me. (Thank god some vendors take American Express - it's another 30 days to float some expenses!) I think there should be a one year tax exemption for any startup. Of course, companies would figure out some way to abuse that, I know. But there has to be a way to give some of us struggling upstarts some relief."

Rob at Businesspundit

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The sixties Marxist revolutionary turned trendy bourgeois-left journalist is the type of guy where every question is the nail for which the United States needs to be beaten with a hammer:

Even a Tyrant Is Entitled to Due Process
[posted online on July 6, 2004]

Has anyone noticed that the charges leveled last week against Saddam Hussein bore no relation to the reasons offered by President Bush for his pre-emptive invasion of Iraq? Not a word about Hussein being linked to terrorist attacks on the United States or having weapons of mass destruction that posed an imminent threat to our nation's security.

Perhaps genocide and crimes against humanity are of higher moral importance ? Or war crimes ?

That is because after seven months of interrogation, the United States appears to have learned nothing from Hussein or any other source in the world that supports the Pazresident's decision to go to war. Washington turned Hussein over to the Iraqis without charging its infamous prisoner of war with any of these crimes. And even the Iraqis did not charge him with being behind the insurgency that almost daily claims American lives.

I'm confused. When did the NATION or the LA Times begin sending reporters into military interrogation sessions ? How does Scheer know that American intelligence " learned nothing " ? Because they haven't said " We just learned the following from Saddam..." If we knew something from Saddam, and then gave a press release, wouldn't that sort of tip off the insurgents too ?

It's a travesty, if you think about it. The fact is that the United States, which holds itself up as the exemplar of democracy for the entire Middle East, held Hussein in captivity for seven months, virtually incommunicado, without access to lawyers of his choosing and without charging him with a crime or releasing him at the end of the occupation, as required by the Geneva Convention.

Saddam Hussein was given POW status and access to Red Cross visits as per Geneva. POWs are not given lawyers until they are formally charged with war crimes. The United States had the right as a belligerent but not the obligation to immediately begin judicial proceedings. Scheer either doesn't know what he's talking about here or is talking out of his ass.

If the United States believes, as most of the world does, that Hussein committed crimes against humanity...

But does Robert Scheer believe it ?

... then he is entitled to the same international standards of due process that the United States and its allies applied to top Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg. It is well established in such cases that justice will not be served by turning Hussein over to be tried by his former political rivals or his victims.

First, the top Nazis were extensively debriefed by Allied intelligence services and given a battery of psychological and IQ tests before being given access to lawyers. Secondly, the defense was circumscribed by Allied policy in terms of what they could argue vis-a-vis Soviet behavior. Thirdly, in former occupied countries and in German de-nazification courts, the former victims of Nazi brutality often sat in judgement of accused smaller-fry Nazis. Fourth, the Kurds -or at least Talabani- have asked that Saddam not receive the death penalty. Again, Sheer talks out of his ass.

No one will be fooled by the claim that we are merely acceding to the demands of the new Iraqi government, since its leader, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, has long been on the CIA payroll and was essentially appointed to his post by the United States.

Was the UN involved here or did I miss something ? Wasn't "our choice" for Iraqi president bonged ?

Since an anti-American Iraqi Communist government, Scheer's likely first choice, isn't available I'm wondering which Iraqis would be qualified to judge Saddam in his opinion ? al Sadr ? Hakim ? Saddam's fellow ex-Baathists ?

Similarly, Salem Chalabi, nephew of Pentagon protégé and discredited Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi, was put in charge of the trial by the United States, creating what looks so far like nothing more than a show trial. The younger Chalabi is also a member of the INC, the exile organization bankrolled by US taxpayers that provided much of the now disproven "intelligence" Bush used in speech after speech to convince Americans of the urgency of the Iraqi weapons-of-mass-destruction and terrorism "threat."

Salem Chalabi was picked by Bush's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice. In a secret directive issued in January and leaked to the public in March, Rice authorized a delegation of fifty lawyers, prosecutors and investigators to be sent to Iraq to prepare for Hussein's trial. Chalabi is not only the prosecutor but chose the judge, whose identity is a secret.

In fairness to Robert Scheer, he's right here. Chalabi was an ill-considered choice for reasons of politics even if he was on the level.

It is thus a huge stretch to call the proceedings a fair trial or an Iraqi-run affair. Men long on the US payroll are running the country and the trial; US troops are still guarding Hussein. And the United States even chose what images could be broadcast and told pool reporters they could not record Hussein's voice. An unauthorized audiotape was, however, leaked to the media.

Earth to Bob - we had the right to try Saddam directly via a military court-martial under Geneva. Us, the Americans, by ourselves. Solo. So in fact, would the Iranians. Or the Kuwaitis. And yes, his own people.

Why is Scheer afraid to openly state *who * should try Saddam ? I gather he has an opinion here since he objects so strongly to the United states and non-Islamist, Non-Baathist Iraqis.

We have already grossly violated the standard of Nuremberg laid down by US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson: "That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that power has ever paid to reason." But the four great nations Jackson was referring to, led by our own, were not guilty of committing aggression but rather of stopping it. The first principle of the Nuremberg trials was to hold nations accountable for crimes against peace."

Jackson was one of the Nuremburg prosecutors so he is praising himself while forgetting about the vast number of Germans and tens of thousands of collaborators given summary justice at the time by the French and the Soviets. Speaking of the Soviets, they were partners in Hitler's aggression against Poland, the Baltic states and Romania.

It is therefore fitting that the preliminary indictment holds Hussein responsible for his aggression against Kuwait, which precipitated the 1991 Gulf War. How disturbing that in the current war it was the United States that committed aggression by invading Iraq based on false premises, thereby violating the Nuremberg principle.

Judge not, lest ye be judged is Scripture not to be taken lightly.

Sure Bob. No prejudgement in your columns. Not a bit.
Friday, July 09, 2004

A report indicates that Iraq's multivarious, decentralized insurgency may be larger than previously estimated. Perhaps upwards of 20,000 fighters, some part time and some specialized, out of a 20 million plus population.

By contrast, estimates of the Afghan mujahedin fighting against the Soviet occupation 1979-1989 were close to 160,000 out of a population of around 16 million. In the American Revolution, Patriot forces fielded a full-time continental Army of 7000 and part-time militia forces of 250,000 out a population of 3 million, including slaves, indentured servants and Loyalists.

It would seem to me that the insurgents have surprisingly little support among most Iraqis in comparison and most of what political support they do have will dry up if the new Iraqi government is allowed to wield real authority and moves quickly towad democratic elections. It also indicates how badly the Bush administration blew the political aspects of the Occupation and squandered a chance to engage an Arab population in the democratic reconstruction of their country.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Ariel Cohen critiques the political aspirations and activities of the Islamist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir and declares it a threat to American national security.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Transnational Progressives are going to use the availability of porn on the web and the minor problem of Spam in our email boxes as a wedge issue to place more control of the internet in the hands of the UN - that is, in the hands of technologically backward, socialist, Third World tyrants who are trying to keep the world at bay as much as possible.

Here's an issue tailor made for one of John Bolton's cataclysimic " No way " speeches. The United States really shouldn't be in the business of helping dictatorships set up gatekeepers for a system they could never possibly have conceived of, much less invented - all for the purposes of strengthening censorship and secret police surveillance.

We made the internet. The rest of the world can use it or opt out as they like but the undemocratic elites abroad don't get to run the service for which they have predominantly been an incredibly ungrateful bunch of free-riders with bad motives.

Tom Barnett has written an exemplary book that enunciates something you very seldom see in American public debate - a long-term strategic vision for the United States that gets beyond the crisis de jure. Moreover, it's a strikingly positive vision that can politically connect with the American public across party lines - " Shrinking the Gap " is a clarion call that can supported from liberal humanitarian interventionists to neocons to cold-hearted realists. As a paradigm, this is the Convergence of Civilizations, not the Clash.

Moreover, the PNM builds on the historic American commitment since FDR to freeing markets that every administration has supported since WWII. The Pentagon's New Map, as a concept, represents both innovation for the post 9/11 world and reassuring continuity. Ted Rall and Michael Moore are going to hate it. So will Pat Buchanan. Everyone else however will be willing to give Barnett's ideas at least a serious look.

A Quick and Dirty Guide to PNM Terminology:

The Core:
The industrialized, connected to the information economy, mostly peaceful, rule of law abiding, liberal democratic world.

The Old Core: The heart of the core, the old G-7/NATO/Japan states led by the United States.

The New Core: Those modernizing states that decided to join the Core in the 1980's and 1990's - these are not always as liberal, democratic and law-abiding as the Old Core but they have more or less irreversibly committed to moving in that direction - China, India, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil and the like.

The Gap: The Third World regions mostly disconnected economically and politically from the Core. Hobbesian in character, ridden by violence, oppression, poverty and anarchy. Ruled by despots- when ruled by anyone- committed to keeping their nations disconnected as a political survival strategy.

Rule Sets: The explicit and implicit rules that provide the framework by which nations interact and function internally. There is a clash of rule sets between the Gap and the Core and within the Core between Europe which mostly cannot and will not intervene in the Gap to enforce rules and the United states which can and sometimes must.

Connectivity: The degree of acceptance of globalization's many effects and the ability of a nation's individuals to access choices for themselves. Most international hotspots are in the most disconnected parts of the Gap.

Global Transaction Strategy: Barnett's equivalent to " Containment" - a national and Core strategy to " Shrink the Gap " by connecting and integrating into the rule sets of the Core.

I am going to discuss some of Dr. Barnett's more specific observations and recommendations - and where I see caveats - in a subsequent post but overall the PNM is a book that will have an intellectual impact that will be both broad and deep.

John Edwards was added to the ticket because he meets the prime requirement of any vice-presidential candidate - " First, do no harm ". He brings none of the inevitable difficulties or ego of a Hillary Clinton or a John McCain nor is Edwards a tired and colorless retread

In addition, Edwards, despite his slick trial lawyer background has never detached from his southern roots and he can still " speak Bubba " to a region that views the Democratic nominee with suspicion. Given that Kerry is the epitome of a stereotypical limosuine liberal and cold and arrogant Yankee moralist, Edwards bring much needed charm and warmth to the Democratic ticket. In practical terms, Edwards can bring little else to the table having had virtually no impact on any substantive national issue whatsoever - something of an advantage because it leaves very little record - barring unrevealed skeletons - for GOP operatives to attack except youth and inexperience ( which will stick because Edwards looks like he might be about 30). I don't see Edwards having much of an effect either way on the election unless he makes an unexpected gaffe.

Not a bold choice but from Kerry's perspective the most attractive safe choice.

Monday, July 05, 2004

I just realized that my comments have not been enabled since Blogger jazzed up their system. I've changed the setting to let any of you make free with your remarks at my expense.

President Bush is said to be closing in on his nominee to replace George Tenet as Director of Central Intelligence. By statute the DCI is the head of the Intelligence Community (IC) as well as director of the CIA itself though in practice only the strongest CIA chiefs have had anything more than nominal control over the other intelligence agencies. William Casey, as DCI, had cabinet rank and was a close adviser of President Reagan - virtually able to run his own foreign policy independent of the State Department, negotiating secretly with King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan. By contrast, James Woolsey could not even get an appointment to see President Clinton.

The IC at this critical juncture does not need a caretaker. A strong hand is needed at the CIA who has the political " juice " to walk into the Oval Office at a moment's notice - both to implement critical reforms over bureaucratic opposition and to revitalize the morale of an important and beleagured service. The War on Terror requires a spymaster who understands covert operations, military special operations troops and a commitment to " jointness " between the Pentagon's uniformed " shadow warriors" and the clandestine paramilitaries of the CIA's special activities staff. The future requires a brilliant and innovative thinker who comprehends technological verges and won't shrink from a radical restructuring of the entire IC so that it functions like an interdependent network instead of a collection of bureaucratic fiefdoms.

It's going to be a difficult choice. Few of the names mentioned meet all of the above criteria though the list does include some Washington insider heavyweights. A bold choice, not a strictly political one, is what the nation needs.
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