Tuesday, November 30, 2004

TM Lutas has correctly identified the oppressive rulers of Gap states not as barriers but Gatekeepers, reaping enormous fortunes by cutting special deals to secretive bad actors in the Core - the Implicit Villains - who want expoitative access to Gap markets and resources. The Gatekeepers of the Gap do have an achilles heel, the corruption and self-interest of their own supporters:

"The West’s most effective tool in pressuring for a recount may be to target individual Ukrainian businessmen, especially those with ties to Yanukovych’s business clan, based in the eastern city of Donetsk, by freezing bank accounts and denying visas. "

The Gatekeepers need their supporters whom they pay off with a slice of the profits, creating in effect a " Nomenklatura of Disconnection " with a vested interest in maintaining the disconnected status quo. The flaw in the scheme is that Nomenklatura - the bullies, thugs and petty bureaucrats who make a despotic system " work" are themselves " connected " to the Core and end up a) valuing the connection that provides them with various goodies and b) awakens in them, when the gravy train is threatened by the erratic behavior of the Gatekeeper, a sense of class interest. They become a group that is separable from the Gatekeeper if the Core can find the right wedge.

Communist Romania's answer to Dracula at a Party Congress, Nicolae Ceaucescu, was done in by his own Nomenklatura in 1989 who saw which way the wind was blowing. Slobodan Milosevic, the butcher of the Balkans, withstood NATO bombing but not the threat to the ill-gotten assets of his supporters ensconced in Western banks and invested in multinational corporations.

Kuchma and his bloated mafiya stooge are equally vulnerable.

Marc Shulman of American Future, has been keeping a keen eye on Iran's nuclear activities but he has taken the time to thoroughly demolish the Matthew Yglesias Cost-Benefit Nuclear Proliferation Theory. Dave Schuyler has related commentary here.

For Matt's edification let's take a look-see at what The American Prospect considers to be a more responsible outcome than American military intevention to prevent Iran from going nuclear.

Let's all breathe a sigh of relief that young Mr. Yglesias is not even within shouting distance of influencing American foreign policy for the forseeable future.

Getting sick of Blogger.
Sunday, November 28, 2004

In a burst of shameless self-promotion, I am mentioning that The History News Network is running an article of mine on the 2004 election and foreign policy. For those who are interested in PNM theory as a national strategy I have endorsed that idea in the article.

Secondly, the diplomatic history listserv H-Diplo has a furious, multi-tiered debate on the Vietnam War running entitled " Aftermath of the Vietnam War" and " Leadership in Antiwar Movement". Some famous and not so famous historians are involved as is the conservative activist and writer David Horowitz. H-Diplo has been kind of sleepy in 2004 compared to past years and it's nice to see the debate become so passionate again that the moderator felt the need to warn the participants to calm down.


This post will conclude my review of Dr. Barnett's Deleted Scene on System Perturbations from The Pentagon's New Map. Since I have been long delayed in finishing this series here is Part VI and all pervious posts on this topic can be found here. As always Dr. Barnett's writing is in bold text, mine in regular font.

Rule #15: Transitional states are forced to choose during System Perturbations, and their choices reveal which direction they are truly heading.

By this I mean that the world is full of states trapped somewhere between truly vertical and horizontal system status -- China, Russia, Iran, to name a few. For these states, a System Perturbation represents a real moment of truth: to which "side" do they move? This is what Thomas Friedman describes as the choice between the "Lexus world" and the "olive tree world," and it is what I call the choice between the Core and the Gap, or -- most fundamentally -- a choice between connectedness and disconnectedness.

I think we learned plenty about Russia, China, India, and several other New Core members following 9/11. In the case of those three countries, despite the fact that the Pentagon had more than a few nasty things to say about each prior to 9/11, all came down firmly on the U.S. side following this huge loss in our security. They chose. How did Iran choose? Saudi Arabia? Here I fear we are talking about states moving in the wrong direction, although there are better signs from Riyadh following the fall of Saddam Hussein. With SARS, China clearly had a choice to make, and it did so clearly, again reinforcing the perception that the nation is moving deeper into the Core. With our Big Bang in Iraq, America has forced a lot of countries to choose all over again, and we will know the outcomes according to the uniforms that ultimately appear in any UN-sponsored peacekeeping force for Iraq.

This last rule of Dr. Barnett's is the Acme of Realism. It is also, analytically speaking, the most difficult to do from a psychological perspective because it involves a consistent focus on actions as opposed to words. While this is a simple enough practice there is an enormous resistance and denial among the American elite for whom words carry tremendous intellectual, cultural and legal freight.

This emphasis upon symbolic literalism is not the case in terms of other cultures - notably in Asia and the Mideast - that lack our Anglo-American precepts of individualism and contractual obligations. Words mean less in some cultures than relationship ties and relationship ties often revolve around power - who has it and who does not. "Our" power vs. the power of " the Other " - however that may be defined. The old adage - " Me against my brother; my brother and I against my cousin..." still applies in much of the world.

When Iran dickers over the terms of its compliance with IAEA inspections and regulations with IAEA officials and EU envoys it is most likely buying time, not ratifying a contractual obligation on an agreement the Mullah's have announced they will circumvent in any event. When Russia condemns American foreign policy and then agrees as Iraq's foremost creditor, to waive debt obligations it is demonstrating where they stand and where Russia intends to go.

Conclusion on System Perturbations:

System Perturbations is in my view, Dr. Barnett's most important concept of the many that emerged from The Pentagon's New Map and one worthy of a book in it's own right ( perhaps it will be Book III after Dr. Barnett finishes his upcoming sequel, A Future Worth Creating).
In terms of developing defensive measures against or to minimize the effect of 9/11 attacks on the United States, System Perturbations shows great promise.

I can easily envision borrowing what we have learned from econometric analysis techniques, Global Warming computer models, Bayesian Probability analysis, Complexity and Chaos theory and the like to create System Perturbation software programs to identify the likely effects if say, terrorists launched a cyber attack on America's financial record system or power grids. It doesn't need to be perfect, simply a rough guide in order to make decentralizing systemic changes that minimize our vulnerability. Likewise, such programs could allow us to maximize and focus the effects of our own attacks to reduce " blowback " problems.

System Perturbations forces people to think Horizontally and Vertically in terms of probable outcomes and strategic connections. If nothing else, if Dr. Barnett suceeds getting a fair number of Pentagon and State Department people to begin conceiving of policy in those terms - and they in turn change the culture of their institutions- he would be rendering a signal service to the Republic.

I have two websites for your perusal.

The first is a very slick, Islamist, pro-terrorism, anti-American website Jihad Unspun ( hat tip Jihad Watch). Jihad Unspun's content makes al Jazeera look like Fox news without sacrificing a clear psychological understanding of a Western, predominantly American, audience. It's the Enemy as the Enemy wishes you to see him through the Enemy's own eyes. It also shows the intellectual fusion of the ideas of the secular, radical Left and Islamist thought as the Islamists are borrowing critiques and slogans to buttress their propaganda.

On the positive side, I offer Liberals Against Terrorism, a new wiki project by Praktike of the chez Nadezhda blog. I see this as a very positive development despite not being particularly liberal and hailing from a quasi-neocon/semi-libertarian zone of conservatism.

The country is ill-served by having one of it's two major political parties in a time of war being dominated by fools who spend a vast amount of energy denying the need to fight the enemy and rationalizing his acts of terror. The evil of Islamist terrorism, the inimical nature of its political program in terms of an open society and American interests would not have been disputed by FDR, Harry Truman, JFK , Hubert Humphrey or most other Democratic politicians who preceded the anti-war, anti-establishment, " Watergate Baby" Congressional class of 1974 - in fact I think those men would have been in the forefront of America's defense.

The unrealism of the Democratic Party on foreign policy, defense and intelligence matters has been good for the electoral prospects of Republicans and for Conservatism generally but bad for the country. At some point, the Democrats will return to power and I'd much rather have them do so as part of a consensus " Vital Center " on national security than as " the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party" on an anti-war, anti-CIA jihad. I wish Praktike and his friends well in their efforts.
Friday, November 26, 2004

Phil Carter of the excellent blog Intel Dump brought to the blogosphere's attention this important report from Harvard University " Long Term Legal Strategy Project for Preserving Security And Democratic Freedoms in the War on Terrorism". I urge everyone to read it - I am not finished yet but I have basically two preliminary comments.

I laud Harvard for attempting to wrangle with post-9/11 problems in a serious attempt to determine some new rules instead of just maintaining a stubborn state of denial. There is movement toward reality in this report, enough to worry Carter in fact. Since I see warfare as - well - a state of war, I find this to be refreshingly realistic for the bipartisan elite.

Unfortunately, the document is still erring so far on the side of peacetime paradigm legalisms that I can easily see, if this framework were to be adopted, a return to U.S. military operations being vetted by committees of lawyers who engage in an evolution of ever-more restrictive interpretations until presto - by fiat the American military is on the police model of warfare. Perhaps that is the idea behind this report - to rein everyone back in under the thumb of the " good school " lawyers and resume the old pretense that we are not at war with the Islamists.

Nevertheless, it's an important report because it will be the cornerstone of the Democratic Party's next critique of the war and their policy building-block for 2006 and 2008. Read it.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A very big hat tip to Dave Schuyler for locating this powerpoint presentation regarding the war crimes of the Iraqi insurgency who are looking more and more to me like Soviet-trained special operations experts from Saddam's Special Security Organization and the Special Republican Guard.

And the Arabs who are angry at America for taking Fallujah are our enemies as much as were the Germans who hated us for landing at Normandy or crossing the Rhine. Their anger is indicative of their emnity.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dr. Barnett has a very interesting post up on his visit to brief managers at the CIA. It's well worth reading in full but at one point he gets meaty and breaks down cabinet and other agencies into Leviathan and System Administration categories:

Leviathan =

Defense Intelligence Agency
Navy Intelligence
Air Force Intelligence
National Security Agency
National Imagery and Mapping Agency
National Reconnaissance Office
CIA's direct action people

Sys Admin =

Army Intelligence
Marine Corps Intelligence
Coast Guard
Dept of Treasury
Dept of Energy
Dept of Homeland Security
Department of State
CIA analytical
National Intelligence Council

My Commentary:

I'm going to split hairs with Dr. Barnett about the Directorate of Operations, presuming he meant the entire directorate. Clandestine activity by the CIA involves a number of important tasks not all of which will be well carried out by twenty to thirtysomething squarejawed white guys with 1000 yard stares. Espionage is not Sabotage. There are also times and places where it is most politically convenient for the United States to have small, quiet but definitely military operations carried out by people who are not members of the U.S. military. I'm not certain if I want to take that particular arrow entirely out of the president's quivver just yet.

Ideally, I would separate the Espionage aspect of Clandestine operations from the Paramilitary activities and place it with System Administration. Intelligence collection of a strategic nature tends to get short-shrifted as it is by the flashier and more short term covert ops as well as newsy, high-productivity " current intelligence ". I can't see that situation getting better under military authority that emphasizes intelligence of a tactical nature and operates by regulation rather than flexibility.

We need intelligence officers who can blend, engage in long-term, strategic influence operations involving HUMINT recruitment and propaganda. I'm not sure a recently retired member of Delta Force is best suited to recruit a Chinese genetic engineer or lobby a senior editor of a major Turkish newspaper. A variety of backgrounds, skill-sets, languages and physical types are needed for a global class intelligence service, not merely elite military skills.
Monday, November 22, 2004

First, I'd like to apologize for the long delay. Things kept me busy all weekend and then on Monday night I worked on this post for a good hour plus and then - I'm not sure if the problem was Blogger, my server or my hard drive but something ate my goddam post in an apocalypse of error coding ! This caused a minor tantrum and my shutting the computer off in disgust

Andrew at Politics, Applied asked the following questions in the comments ( in bold blue italics) on Friday. Under each question I added my commentary and invite others to post theirs or provide a longer rebuttal on other blogs and I'll update this post with the appropriate links.

1. What are our goals in the GWOT? What are the goals of the extreme Islamists?

The goals of the radical Islamists as I interpret them from their own words, actions and commentary of Western experts:

Very Long Term - a unified, ultimately worldwide, Caliphate that enforces a radical Salafist version of the Sharia.

Long Term - the overthrow of all " apostate" Muslim regimes, the destruction of Israel, the removal of American/Western/Modern/Globalization/Core influences from the Ummah. The expansion of Islamist Sharia state regimes to encompass all the lands once under Muslim rule. For some Sunni-Salafi-Qutbist radicals, the destruction of the Shiite, Ismaili, Alawite and Sufi "heretics" is an important ideological-religious goal.

Medium Term - the capture of a state for the establishment of a Sharia Emirate base with an ideological emphasis on Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt for various reasons. Impose severe costs on the United States and it's allies in the GWOT through acts of " spectacular" mass destruction terrorism. Political and religious radicalization of the Ummah.

Short Term - destabilization of Afghanistan and Iraq. Covert infiltration of failed or failing states or outlier regions in Africa, Asia and South America. Covert infiltration of the United States and it's allies by operational and support teams for acts of terror. Maintain secure financial support, communication and recruiting networks. Continuous training of al Qaida insiders to have a " deep " bench to replace operational managers killed or captured by American forces. Acts of " unspectacular " terror such as kidnappings, car bombings and beheadings to maintain visibility and credibility.

Very Short Term - maintain day to day security network for OBL and top leadership, small insurgency operations, support activities, propaganda in online al Qaida journals.

The Islamists have goals that range from the practical, tactical and operational to the memetic-ideological to the simply fantastic on a scale not envisioned since Hitler's plans for the East in the aftermath of Operation Barbarossa. American goals in the GWOT are or should be the following:

Very Long Term - spread of liberal, market economy, democratic regimes across the Muslim World so that they can move up and become " New Core " states like India.

Long Term - Discrediting, marginalization and defeat of Islamism as an ideology on par with Fascism and Communism. International acceptance of terrorism as a crime against humanity on par with slavery, genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes. Regime change of all rogue state sponsors of terror and WMD proliferation. Resolution of the Palestinian problem with a secular, liberal, democratic republic of Palestine at peace with Israel and economically secure in a regional common market.

Medium Term - death of all top and middle level al Qaida leaders and those of related Islamist groups. Destruction of all terror bases worldwide. Regime change in a second rogue state, preferably by diplomatic means. Establishment of a robust, militarily active, anti-terror coalition with Russia, China, Israel, India and the willing European states. Stabilization of an Iraqi egime with democratic legitimacy. Expansion of Karzai regime authority to all major cities and towns. Core consensus on priority of non-proliferation efforts. Restructuring of the American military for the GWOT and to operationally divide " Leviathan " and System Administration" tasks.

Short Term - Containment and degradation of Iraqi insurgency. Interdiction and termination of Iranian nuclear bomb program, by force if required. Coordinated, worldwide raids on suspected al Qaida supporters, hide-outs, bases and mosques. Disruption of financial flows to from the gulf to radical Islamist madrassa. Substantial increases/investments in HUMINT and Special Operations capabilities , analysis and linguistic personnel. Set up an operational, systemic, program to engage the Islamists in the war of ideas.

2. Does a stated policy of deterrence on our part inhibit the goals of the extreme Islamists so as to prevent a nuclear attack within the US?

Good question. No one knows though bin Laden reportedly told the BBC that he had acquired nuclear weapons for deterrence purposes which indicates:

a) That bin Laden understands the concept well enough, and

b) There is something he considers important enough to acquire nuclear bombs in order to deter America from some action.

The question is "what" ? My guess it is to protect Islam's Holy sites.

3. If a nuclear terrorist attack ouccurs within the US, what kind of respnse would serve our goals? Would our goals remain the same in such an event?

I think a limited nuclear strike and the deaths of hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans would render most previous considerations and goals moot. The ante having been upped by our enemies our response would be to ensure that such an event would not happen again by demonstrating the costs. The political pressure for anything less than massive retaliation would be enormous and well-nigh unstoppaple. It would be the Mother of all System Perturbations with historic, global, consequences.

Our goal has to be to prevent that decision point from ever being reached.

UPDATE I: JB at riting on the wall takes up Andrew's questions. I encourage you in particular to take a hard look at his analysis of Liberal, Moderate and Radical Islamists which spans prettty well the POV from Mohammed Abduh to al-Afghani and Rida to Sayyid Qutb.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Centerfeud has a post " They're Out There" on Muslims who reject the extremist agenda and have, bravely in some instances, taken up rhetorical arms against the Islamists and terrorists.
Friday, November 19, 2004

Evil and proud of it. Have to respect that in a backhanded way, you know, for the honesty. Some upfront malevolence like we haven't really seen since the days of Heinrich Himmler.
Thursday, November 18, 2004

The question raised by Marc Shulman on the prospect of nuclear terrorism by Islamist radicals brought out many fruitful comments and concerns. A common point of agreement seemed to be the need for national discussion of the issue which hopefully the blogosphere can spark.

In 2002 the Bush administration submitted a still partially classified Nuclear Posture Review to the Congress that presaged if not radical, at least some very significant changes in nuclear war doctrine. In essence, the Bush administration widened and deepened the parameters of the Flexible Response Doctrine of the Kennedy administration that was shelved by Robert McNamara in favor of MAD during the Johnson Administration when the U.S. was pushing arms control proposals at Kosygin and Brezhnev.

The Bush administration NPR had the virtue of looking creatively at developing new technological improvements to nuclear weapons that might promise to make them less destructive in terms of collateral damage and more effective against hardened targets. Unfortunately,there are two flaws in the NPR from a strategic standpoint.

First, the NPR is dominated by state-based thinking, albeit a multipolarity system designed to target rogue states in particular - naming specifically Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Libya along with traditional targets Russia and China - and non-state actors like al Qaida are not addressed except as " ...surprising military developments". Secondly, the flexibility of moving away doctrinally from pre-set missile coordinate targeting tp an emphasis on " capabilities" to respond to events leaves far too much room for megalomaniacal actors to gamble on surviving a politically constrained second-strike. To my mind if their analytical prowess determined that detonating a nuke inside the U.S. was a good idea, subtlety is wasted on them.

The problematic situation with the nuclear terrorism situation is that the Gap is filled with states that are at best rickety, dysfunctional, entities that barely qualify as nation-states or they are tribes with flags. Our Westphalian rule-set mentality has led us astray into granting rights of sovereignty to de facto non-sovereigns which is a diplomatic charade that the Core can maintain only by divorcing all the normal expectations of responsibity from them that sovereigns are supposed to exercise. Responsibilities that we hold other Core states accountable - a bizarre double-standard that works against our own interests and security.

Now failed and failing states are truly unable to control non-state actors but there are many states that simply choose not to expend resources doing so, at least to the degree where such an effort is truly effective. Their inaction as sovereigns have created situations of salutory neglect where you have " State Tolerated Terrorism". Or these authorities encourage radicals and fellow-travellers with a wink and a nod, benignly admiring the support their citizens give to terrorists- " Socially Sponsored Terrorism " while claiming plausible deniability for the regime. Finally, like Iran, they may be up to their elbows in the terrorism business as state sponsors but also eschew actions that would provoke massive retaliation.

Frankly, I'm not certain deterrence will work with the radicals already inside bin Laden's inner circle. I think it might but ultimately I'm hazarding a guess. Nor am I opposed to ruhlessly taking direct and sustained action to crush al Qaida. What deterrence policy based on counterforce and countervalue will do to the Ummah is make the negligent authorities and the religious enablers of terror starkly aware that they share with the United States the dangers of nuclear terrorism and perhaps raise the costs for pursuing such a hostile policy of co-belligerency.

UPDATE I: Dave Schuyler of the Glittering Eye is also examining the state of American nuclear deterrence policy and neatly deconstructs the objections to a more robust form of deterrence .

UPDATE II: Marc Shulman of The American Future has two related posts up this morning on this debate, where he evidently tangled elsewhere in the blogosphere with the advocates of strategic helplessness from the Denial of Reality Based Community. The first is a commentary on my post above and his second addresses the same cockeyed logic of the oponents that Dave tackled at Glittering eye. I have to highlight this psychological observation by Marc on the deterrence opponents he encountered:

"There are three things to notice about these criticisms. First, they don't seem to take the threat of nuclear terrorism seriously. Second, they express concern for the fate of those who would be killed by our second strike, but not about the Americans who would be killed by the first strike. Third, they offer no alternative."

A thanks to both gentlemen for pushing a vital debate hopefully further into the public eye.

UPDATE III. Having read Wretchard's well-considered 2003 post on Nuclear weapons and Islamist terrorism the advice of Dave Schuyler, I heartily recommend it for your perusal.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

This issue was raised the other day by Imperial Hubris author and former CIA Bin Laden Task Force chief Mike Scheuer in his post-resignation comments (which I blogged on here). It was further supported by media reports of a recenct al Qaida detainee who has informed his interrogators of the group's ambitions to smuggle a WMD, perhaps a nuclear bomb, through Mexico into the United States. I argued that if such an event occurred there would be catastrophic second-strike retaliation against the Muslim world by the United States in response.

Marc Shulman of The American Future has taken a look at the issue of nuclear deterrence vis-a-vis Islamist fanatics that you should read in full. An excerpt:

"Not withstanding these considerations, I believe that terrorists can and should be deterred. Terrorists do not exist in a stateless vacuum. In each state in which they have refuse, there are two other actors: the people, some of whom are sympathetic to the terrorists and some who are not; and the government, which may (1) actively support, (2) condone, (3) actively oppose, or (4) be unable to oppose the terrorists. While the terrorists may welcome death and have little or no physical assets, at least some of the general population prefers life to death and the government does have an infrastructure that it is responsible for protecting.

The objective of a deterrence policy -- more precisely, a warning that the U.S. will respond with a nuclear attack on targets of our choosing, including Islam's holy sites -- should be to cause ordinary people and governments to fear the consequences if terrorists explode one or more nuclear weapons on our soil. By making the nuclear second strike doctrine public, it would hopefully have enough credibility to alter the behavior of people and governments. The specter of devastation should be an incentive for both people and governments to stop supporting terrorists and for governments to root them out. The less fanatical of the terrorists, recognizing these changes, may decide to pursue other, less deadly, activities.

During the Cold War, a second strike would have had to be launched as soon as it was recognized that we were under attack. There would have been precious few minutes between recognition and devastation. Because the countries in which terrorists make their home lack the ability (for now) to attack our homeland, our response need not be immediate. Thus, our intelligence agencies would have time to establish which terrorist group was responsible and which country was unwilling or unable to reign them in."

I am in general agreement with Mr. Shulman's well-stated argument. U.S. nuclear doctrine, which has been a study in ambiguity since 1991 is overdue for a review in the age of non-state actors. My quibble is that our response window must remain in the immediate aftermath in order to retain the very deterrence credibility that Shulman seeks to establish by having the USG promulgate a new nuclear doctrine. Unless SAC-NORAD is flying on autopilot with an executive branch nuked out of existence, any period of cool, rational, reflection by our elite longer than a day would result in an inability of our side " to pull the trigger".

No "wise man" will want to accept the moral responsibility of nuking city X in Pakistan on the best prediction by the IC two weeks after a .5 megaton bomb destroyed downtown Chicago. They will quail, then bluster and then grope for some costly, inadequate, conventional alternative. Any normal, moral, rational mind would balk when faced with the uncertainty of launching a surgical nuclear attack on millions of people on possibly slender threads of evidence. Our response must be assumed by our enemies to be certain, irrationally disproportional and general in order to function as a serious deterrent. It must be perceived by our own elite as doctrine so their own moral sense of personal guilt does not lead them to evade responsibilities upon which all of our safety depends.

The leaders of our Islamist enemies do not value the lives of their followers or fellow Muslims a whit - though their perfect record of fleeing oportunities for martyrdom says something about their instinct for self-preservation. They do value certain pieces of real estate though, ostensibly having gone to war to protect them, invoking their authority to do on behalf of the Ummah from Quranic scripture.

Most polls show that the Muslim world is not composed of Islamists but they also show widespread partial support for the actions of al Qaida, a steady flow of financial donations and social tolerance for anti-American extremism. Unfortunately, in the event of a nuclear strike by al Qaida the Ummah will have to bear the cost of their popular tolerance and enablement of terror. Nuclear exchange is premised on collective punishment so if the Islamists begin the United States will finish it for all time. The costs of a nuclear terror attack on the United States must be perceived by al Qaida, Islamist clergy and their Arab world admirers as being so devastatingly high as to be unthinkable.

We need to communicate that clearly in the fervent hope that, like with the USSR, that such steps will never become necessary.
Monday, November 15, 2004

I've been very lazy regarding my new blogroll additions, which I will properly introduce soon. This post by the wide-ranging, Blogospheric entity, Praktike at chez Nadezhda cannot wait. It's a good primer on Shiite hierarchy and more importantly, he's right about Najaf.

"Well, you have to understand that "It's the economy, stupid," was more than just a campaign statement. It reflected what the president wanted to focus on -- not only economic issues -- but domestic issues. He really cared about domestic issues. He was involved with domestic issues. As head of the Governors' Conference, he'd worked on education issues. That was where his energy and his compassion came from.

Foreign policy was not something he had done an awful lot with, and so foreign policy became almost a learning process for the president. It was a way to make sure we are doing the right things, but keeping it in place so that, in the end, it wouldn't blow up what he was trying to do domestically for this country. I think that, after a while, this president began to learn what foreign policy was all about. And he became much more effective in dealing with foreign policy issues as a result, but it took a while. In the interim, he relied a great deal on what the vice president said. He relied a great deal on the advisers that he had dealing with foreign policy. . . . I don't know that he ever properly defined what the role of the United States is in this post-Cold War era, where are our national interests, when should we intervene, when shouldn't we intervene, when should we use power, when shouldn't we use power? There's been no sense that that's ever come together. Yet, at the same time, even though it's been oftentimes responding to a crisis out there, you have to say that the president's done a pretty good job in responding to those crises. If peace is the determinative of whether or not your foreign policy has been successful, we have peace. "

Former Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta on Bill Clinton.

Correlation is not causation...as we have since found out.

I'd agree that Mr. Clinton was markedly better at Foreign policy in 1999 or 2000 than in 1993 or 1994. I'd even allocute to the fact that Bill Clinton's record on international economic policy was a bright spot, underappreciated by liberals and conservatives alike.

However it would have been a good deal better if Clinton's foreign policy principals had included at least one person with an interest and drive for strategic planning. Having everyone viewing the national security, foreign policy and intelligence communities as a kind of international fire brigade to push the annoying crisis du jour in Otherwhereistan off of the front page of the Times so the president could concentrate on "important" issues like school uniforms did not serve the country well.

Many of you probably caught the widely reported story of the internal shake-up at the CIA under new DCI Porter Goss. The ongoing spin as the story broke has attributed the resignations of former acting DCI and current DDCI John McLaughlin and other top career civil servants at the CIA to Bush administration retribution for politically motivated leaking.

To an extent this is not only true but eminently justifiable because senior CIA officials were leaking to influence a presidential election and immediately began attempting to sabotage their new DCI's team by selective leaks from their FBI raw files ( other candidates as leakers include the FBI itself or members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, if they have received the files. Draw your own conclusions as to means and motives). Say what you like about the Bush administration but it's a bad precedent to let the top officials of the nation's premier intelligence service get away with trying to manipulate the democratic process. These folks have to go regardless of their position on intel reform or Iraq.

The underlying conflict at the CIA isn't simply partisan politics but a ferocious debate over the nature of the agency itself. Senior CIA administration, who were among those excoriated by veteran analyst Micheal Scheuer in Imperial Hubris and veteran field agent Robert Baer in See No Evil, like the status quo of liason intel collection work where the CIA is taking what friendly intelligence services have to offer. Certainly the information is not accepted uncritically but it leaves the United States, blind, dependent and subject to foreign manipulation.

Cross-checks against our own HUMINT sources are generally unavailable because the CIA got out of the HUMINT business in "difficult" areas during the Clinton-Deutch-Tenet era. From the senior CIA official perspective, developing your own sources is politically risky while errors from say the Mossad or BND or Indian intelligence can be fobbed off when Congressmen begin asking pointed questions. Liason work, which can have value on its own merits, is much preferred for CYA reasons. Same thing for promoting " Current Intelligence" analytical production ( news) over reports garnered primarily from espionage.

Porter Goss is an advocate of the CIA doing it's own field work, taking risks, engaging in clandestine action, including paramilitary operations, strategic influence, deep cover penetration to procure strategic intelligence needed for in-depth analysis. Some agency veterans, who lived through the era of the Church and Pike Committees, Iran-Contra and a series of bad Oliver Stone movies, are recoiling in horror. Having been burned more than once by unscrupulous politicians as the winds shifted, their prime directive is to avoid any career-ending gaffe that could end up on the front pages of the New York Times.

To an extent they are right. Today's hero who nails a top level al Qaida killer with a predator missile may be tomorrow's scapegoat or criminal defendent if " the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" regains the ascendancy. It's easy to forget how sharply the pendulum has swung since 9/11. As recently as 1999, moderate historian Douglas Brinkley* wrote of that the intelligence community's covert operations were viewed with " thorough disgust" by the American public due to spy scandals.

Nevertheless, an agency that faces Islamist terrorists can find the courage to face down snide questions from a leftist Congressional staffer fresh from his last semester's diversity workshop at Princeton. It can also find the nerve to deliver bad news to policy makers ( " intelligence consumers" in CIA lingo). In fact, it might be a good idea to delineate where intelligence analysis ends and policy making begins. A recent CIA roundtable indicates that at best, the lines are very blurry on both sides of the divide. This lack of clarity is the fault of the administration and Congress, not the CIA or it's analysts but the confusion is evident- as is the unwillingness of political appointees to accept non-linear ( probalistic, multi-tiered) estimates that are a far better reflection of reality. The report is worth the time to read.

The CIA needs reform - current intelligence production should be separated from strategic intelligence and only the results coallated in NIE or some other format; clandestine operations in all its facets must become more robust while analysis needs an infusion of resources and acceptance of alternative analytical methodologies. The political branches need to accept that to ask the CIA or the IC to make predictions or engage in covert-operations runs the risk of error or failure. When these things fail and the CIA has done what it has been asked under the limitations that the law directs, then the blame for the failure lies with Congress or the administration.

The shifting of blame to " faceless bureaucrats" for two generations has demoralized the men and women of the CIA, a service that is critical to American security. It has made them risk-averse, it has made them conventional and it has made them into lawyers out of self-preservation.

What it hasn't done is make the rest of us one iota safer.

UPDATE: Earlier, I mistakenly identified the historian Douglas Brinkley as the historian Alan Brinkley. I have corrected the error and offer my apologies to both gentlemen. Mea culpa.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

What is it in the track record of the UN and it's peacekeeping operations that inspires an almost religious faith on the part of members of our bipartisan foreign policy elite ? An article in American Diplomacy by Wiliam E. Howard III analyzes America's position in the war on terror through the prism of Israel and the Palestinians and counsels across the board capitulation.


Our national policies in the Middle East are not in accord with our national interests. They are failing us. What is good for Israel is proving to be a disaster for America. Once we see the necessity for a political solution, the United States should seriously consider the following path:

• First, we should announce to the world that we intend to balance our Middle East policy. This will initially be viewed with skepticism by other countries because we have stated we already have one. So, further steps are needed to convince the world that we have seriously changed our policy.

• The US should request that the United Nations take the lead in turning over the leadership in Iraq to the Iraqis by implementing steps proposed by the UN and agreed upon by the majority of the UN membership. At first this will require substituting UN troops in place of U.S. and coalition troops to keep order. Based on the Iraqi reactions to date, it might be best if the coalition troops totally withdraw and leave the field to troops within other UN, and possibly NATO nations.

• At virtually the same time, the US should make the same request, with similar provisos, to the UN regarding Afghanistan.

• The United States should urge the United Nations to convene as neutral a group as possible, with a charge to the group to convene and advise the UN on new borders for two nation-states, Israel and Palestine, perhaps by using, as a starting point, the borders just prior to the '67 Arab-Israeli war.

• America should volunteer to help the UN to police those borders, and the United States should use its international influence to guarantee the borders of both countries through the United Nations. Such a guarantee will be absolutely necessary because of Israel's contention that the Palestinians want to drive the Israelis into the sea and because of the Palestinian's fear that Israel will not honor their new country's boundaries

Dr. Howard should provide some evidence that the UN is held in the same sort of breathless awe by Afghan tribal warlords, Hamas and Iraqi insurgents as it is by Western PhD's who get invitations to seminars at the Council of Foreign Relations and the Kennedy School of Government. What is also amazing is the tone of contempt the article has for both the ability of national peoples to rule themselves or for America to intervene effectively anywhere juxtaposed with the breezy presumption of competence of the UN to accomplish what the United States cannot.

My reading of UN intervention throughout history is one of failure and disaster unless one of two conditions or both are met:

a) An armistice has already been hammered out and freely agreed to by the warring principals because the agreement is in the interest of both parties and each party is in control of it's armed combatants.

b) The UN is a fig leaf for the robust warfighting capability of the United States as in the Korean and Gulf wars.

For those who doubt me I suggest they look up the 1960's intervention by the UN in the Congo and in Bosnia, Rwanda and Cambodia in the 1990's. UN peacekeepers lack the military capability to be anything but bystanders and are usually shackled by rules of engagement by the UN Secretary-General that make them ineffective even at their own self-defense. And this force will be policing Afghanistan and Iraq ?

No, Dr. Howard is proposing that it will still be American troops under the rules of a UN command so we can continue to provide young men as targets with legally restricted ability to return fire.

We need a new elite in this country. Ours has lost the will to survive.


Buried in an election week report on the Bin Laden video on the Debka File are tantalizing leaks from recon reports as to bin Laden's whereabouts in the mountainous Central Asian borderlands:

"Bin Laden was actually spotted in the flesh just a few days ago - according to DEBKAfile’s counter terror sources. Between October 17 and October 19, an Indian air force reconnaissance plane picked him up in the Tibet-Laddakh region close to the North-Eastern corner of Pakistan bordering India and China. Additional surveillance aircraft were called in and identified the al Qaeda leader on the move with a 10-vehicle convoy of black Japanese minivans. Four of the vehicles turned up again on October 22 heading east towards the Chinese border. Our sources maintain that the rumored sightings of bin Laden on the Lingzi Thang Plain on the Tibetan border in June may have been true then but are now outdated. In any case, he was not at the time in Pakistani Waziristan or the Afghan-Pakistani border.

The agents hunting the al Qaeda leader are working on the premise that he has decided to wait out the winter months in one of two regions: Hunza province in the Northern Frontier tip of Indian Kashmir or Little Pamir, where fanatical Tajik tribes have never allowed any Kabul government - whether Taliban or led by Karzai - to secure a foothold.
Little Pamir is wedged between Tajikistan where Russian special forces taking part in the bin Laden dragnet are deployed and China.

Before launching the Sept.11 attacks, bin Laden and his deputy Ayman Zawahiri, prepared snug havens in the caverns that riddle the towering 5,000-8,000-meter mountain peaks.
In the 1970s, the Russians converted the Little Pamir cave warren into subterranean silos for nuclear missiles pointing towards China. But even the Russians found the cold and harsh conditions unendurable and by the mid-1980s the bases were abandoned.

Sunday, October 24, a senior FBI agent, briefed first in Pakistan, flew from Islamabad to New Delhi to meet Indian security bosses and examine the aerial shots of the bin Laden convoy.
Our intelligence sources report that, after the American agent studied the data and questioned the Indian intelligence officers who saw the terrorist chief leave his minivan several times, he relayed Washington’s request for the Indian government to put its security forces in the North Western region on red alert and round up troops for combing operations in the region before the snowfall.

New Delhi complied the next day and also stepped up its vigilance on the Kagil-Leh Highway and along the Tibetan border."
Friday, November 12, 2004

Yasser Arafat is dead. What can be said of a man who never once put the interests of his people above his own ?

Yasser Arafat could not have been more of a barbarian had he walked around with a bone in his nose. A gangster, a looter and a thug who counted as friends fellow thugs like Nicolae Ceaucescu and for periods of time crackpot dictators like Colonel Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, Arafat never managed to do as much harm to Israel as he did to Jordan, Lebanon or the Palestinians.

As Palestinian children grew up in squalid refugee camps Yasser Arafat, surrounded by his beefy, East Bloc-trained bodyguards, squired away billions of dollars donated on their behalf. His signal service to mankind was showing up at the rostrum of the United Nations, gun on hip, to lusty cheers - demonstrating that the institution designed as the repository of the best values of the Liberal West was in truth little more than a commode for dictatorships.

In the end, addled, doddering about the ruins of his Ramallah headquarters, Arafat reigned over the unlimited misery of his people who clung to him only as a symbol of hatred - sort of a walking, talking slogan that screamed " Death to the Jews !". He could neither be removed nor gotten around, negotiated with or permanently defeated. He was simply there.

Good riddance.

The CIA author of Imperial Hubris is formally out of the closet. Micheal Scheuer, former chief of the CIA's Bin Laden task force has resigned in order to speak publicly on the War on Terror, which he believes the United States is steadily losing.

I've read Imperial Hubris but I have not gotten around to writing a detailed review yet. Reader's Digest version, if you keep in mind the Scheuer has a " Forest-Trees" problem with context and he is too close to his subject - evincing the same grudging admiration for Bin Laden and Arab-Ialamic culture that plagued John Toland's WWII books - Imperial Hubris can be a valuable book. Scheuer has a large number of pointed insights about both al Qaida and the dysfunctionality of the IC that bear repeating. Foremost among these is his identification of al Qaida as merely the spear tip of a global Islamist insurgency. I'm convinced he is quite correct on that score as well as on his numerous observations on al Qaida's operational capabilities and structure.

Where Scheuer fails is as a grand strategist. The fact that pan-Arab nationalists and radical sharia state Islamists are unhappy with American pursuit of American interests is a truism. It is also a poor justification for either capitulation or doing to the Arab-Islamic world what Rome did to Carthage, the dichotomy Scheuer sees as our alternatives. Where Scheuer can contribute to the debate is elevating the public sense of urgency of dealing with al Qaida and a better understanding how it operates, recruits, infiltrates and attacks.

Speaking of Scheuer, today his take on Osama bin Laden and nuclear weapons:

"Even if bin Laden had a nuclear weapon, he probably wouldn't have used it for a lack of proper religious authority - authority he has now. "[Bin Laden] secured from a Saudi sheik...a rather long treatise on the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the Americans," says Scheuer. "[The treatise] found that he was perfectly within his rights to use them. Muslims argue that the United States is responsible for millions of dead Muslims around the world, so reciprocity would mean you could kill millions of Americans,"

Scheuer tells Kroft.Scheuer says bin Laden was criticized by some Muslims for the 9/11 attack because he killed so many people without enough warning and before offering to help convert them to Islam. But now bin Laden has addressed the American people and given fair warning. "They're intention is to end the war as soon as they can and to ratchet up the pain for the Americans until we get out of their region....If they acquire the weapon, they will use it, whether it's chemical, biological or some sort of nuclear weapon," says Scheuer"

Were al Qaida to detonate a nuclear weapon of any size - perhaps even a significant biological weapon - I have no doubt the United States would retaliate with a nuclear attack across the Arab-Islamic world from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan. Mecca and Medina, Qom and Teheran would cease to exist within hours of a nuclear strike within the United States. Anyone who doubts this certainty seriously underestimates the magnitude of the political reality of, say, losing Manhattan. For two buildings we invaded two nations. For a city we will destroy a civilization.

If, by chance, the President of the United States were to be killed in such an attack, the U.S. military would be left on automatic pilot, relying on Cold War era and 1990's " worst-case scenario" contingency plans for nuclear war and our retaliation would most likely to be massive rather than selective. The Islamic world would end as a coherent entity for all time.

If the zealots of al Qaida do not understand this it should be made clear to their more reasonable supporters in KSA and Pakistan that they and hundreds of millions of Muslims will bear the price for such an attack.

I sincerely hope Scheuer is reporting nothing but empty Islamist bluster over the web but if he's not, this is the direction that kind of event would take.
Thursday, November 11, 2004

In the GWOT the United States faces a foe - Islamism - that is a decentralized, radical, anti-staus quo movement that is now without a state, having lost their sanctuary provided by the Taliban. A post on H-Diplo the other day by John Zimmerman, on an unrelated topic of the 1960's American Anti-war movement, spurred me to think about where the Islamists are likely to evolve ideologically over the next few years. Professor Zimmerman wrote:

"Edwin Moise writes: "Leftist political groups are notorious for the waythey attack one another, fighting over doctrinal differences."

I also noticed this phenomenon among leftist groups. However, one needs tokeep in mind that, despite narrow doctrinal differences which would seem insignificant to an outside observer, there was hardly any difference inthe end results sought by these groups. A similar phenomenon is noticeable among Islamists, who differ only on issues such as tactics not end results."

On-spot observation ! This process of evolving militancy and radicalization is observable in many historical extremist movements regardless of whether the premises of the particular movement are based on socialism, religion, nationalism or race. I would argue that this dynamic results from the movement possessing a general ideology that is sharply critical of the status quo without having a recognized authority who can be the arbiter of that ideology's theoretical boundaries or tactical application.

In an attempt to establish such an authority, factions within such movements employ the rhetorical demonization against one another that previously were levied against the mainstream society. Lenin claimed " majority" ( Bolshevik) status for his faction and set about abusing, bullying and hectoring the " minority"(Menshevik) and moderate foreign socialists like Karl Kautsky. Within the Nazi Party's early days before Hitler's authority became suffocating, nationalist-volkische Nazis drove out Left-socialist Nazis from the movement (Strasser), converted them ( Goebbels) or killed them off in the Night of the Long Knives ( Rohm and SA leadership). Islamist extremists are in that stage right now and denunciations of religious apostasy ( which under the Sharia are a capital offense) are an important tool for the most radical elements to push the more moderate Salafist and Hanbali Islamists in the direction of consolidation behind the revolutionary Qutbist worldview proffered by al Qaida.

This dynamic is arguably to the great advantage of the more extreme elements within an already radical movement who tend to promote their position as one of "authentic" status and the moderate position as counterfeit, weak or even traitorious to the movement's goals with such traitors being deserving of death. Note it is not always the most extreme factions who win the day. Hitler kept the extremists to his right - Rosenberg,Bormann, Streicher, the Austrian Nazi Party radicals - in check until late in his regime. Lenin ultimately destroyed his untrustworthy and anarchic-terrorist Left-S.R. junior parters - but the whole movement tends to be pushed further from the mainstream and radicalized by such internal struggles.

In the case of the American anti-war movement we saw the rise and radicalization of the SDS and ultimately the emergence of groups like the Weather Underground and the Progressive Labor Party - who would have been unimaginable on campus in 1962 or 1963. Unlike America's priviliged radical chic of the 1960's, the Islamists arrived on the scene with violence as part of their political culture and recent history. Further radicalization will likely take them in one of two directions - consolidation or entropy.

The first possibility is that the Islamists will consolidate into a more unified, coherent, disciplined movement as I suggested above and become a less decentralized foe in hopes of seeking recognized leadership as defenders of the Ummah. Zaqawri's recent " pledge of allegience" to Osama bin Laden may be evidence of this trend taking place. If this is the case their political legitimacy in Muslim eyes will come to depend less on their ideological militancy and spectacular gestures of resistance to America through Terror and more on their military competence to rack up some credible, lasting victories.

The second possibility is fratricidal infighting as radical factions engage in cut-throat, sectarian battles for power, prestige and leadership of the Islamist movement. This will lower the effectiveness of Islamists in carrying out high-magnitude terror operations against the United States on the level of 9/11 by diverting resources. But it will also spur them through competition to attempt more, lower-level, horrifying assaults like we saw in Beslan to garner attention for themselves and their groups. We can also expect that an " entropic " outcome is bad for Muslim Gap states that already teeter on Failed State status as competing Islamist groups migrate to places of weak authority in order to conduct their internecine struggles. We could easily see the replay of 1980's Lebanon and 1990's Somalia in Iraq and Pakistan under such a scenario.

This is why connecting the Arab-Islamic world Gap states is of overriding importance. Connectivity reduces room for the enemy to manuver under either scenario, mitigates some causes of discontent and gives room to non-Islamist civil society to provide alternatives to both Islamism and status quo authoritarian regimes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

To continue the series on Dr. Barnett's Deleted Scene on System Perturbations ( for previous posts go here.). As always my commentary is in regular text, Dr. Barnett's is in bold font:

"How do we deal with other states during System Perturbations?

Rule #13: There is no statute of limitations on cultural blowback, so avoid providing future foes with chosen trauma.

Middle East experts will tell you 9/11 is twenty years of blowback from Afghanistan and the mujaheddin we supported there, half a century of blowback from the creation of the state of Israel, and even eight centuries of blowback from the Crusades. Like in your marriage, no "past sins" are ever forgotten, so it is crucial that in our responses to any System Perturbation, we do not simply plant a host of new historical grievances in the hearts of those we hope ultimately win over and integrate into the Core. This is, of course, the great danger of the Big Bang strategy of toppling Saddam Hussein's regime. My Muslim colleagues from that part of the world have told me repeatedly that, immediately following 9/11, America had the chance to win over not just a small percentage of the Muslim world, but a very large one -- depending on its response. These same friends tell me now that that share of potentially winnable Muslims is far smaller, and far more difficult to win, precisely because we have provided them with a new chosen trauma. What is our solution now? As Thomas Friedman likes to argue, America's best hope now is to do whatever it takes to make Iraq a beacon of freedom and progressive change in the Middle East. In effect, we need to turn that chosen trauma into a chosen triumph -- not ours, mind you, but the Iraqi people's.

Earlier, commenting on Rule #8 I suggested that Blowback was not just a possibility but a range of probable outcomes from any major foreign policy event, much less a true System Perturbation, calling it the " Law of Blowback":

" For statesmen, every action has a probable set of opposite reactions "

This is something statesmen and geopolitical thinkers have understood intuitively since the Pelopennesian War ( reading Thucydides isn't a bad idea to school oneself on the perils of statecraft). People will always resist the demands of power to the degree that they can do so safely ( at least) unless the incentives to yield are recognized as being measurably greater.

Those incentives include intangible variables - psychological and ideological factors. To return to our Ancient Greek example, the Melian Dialogue was a failure of the Athenians who considered only the material or practical considerations that faced the Melian leadership and not their sense of honor. Toppling Saddam Hussein certainly offended Muslims of radical Pan-Arab and Baathist sentiments but those Gatekeeper Elites were our enemies anyway and their demoralization was a desirable and intentional outcome of our post 9/11 " Big Bang " attack. What was not desirable was the Abu Ghraib scandal which - for whatever value in terms of interrogation and intimidation of such practices - they created a wave of horror and revulsion that extended far beyond the Arab world and discredited the entire occupation in Arab eyes and provided our enemies with decades of future propaganda.

The existence of blowback is not an argument for policy paralysis but for choosing options when we launch a System Perturbation against our enemies where we maximize our objectives while minimizing long-term costs. Horizontal systems with the highest degree of connectivity are also the ones most vulnerable to damage from a System Perturbation so they should be used sparingly and with great forethought. Choose your Blowback, do not let Blowback choose us.

Rule #14: In response to vertical scenarios, horizontal systems naturally come together, as do vertical systems.

This one we saw in spades following 9/11, as the world's free states rushed to our support and joined our substantial multinational coalition that toppled the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan. Horizontal systems naturally saw a common threat in the attacks, meaning something that could just as easily happen to them. But vertical systems, in general, saw something very different in 9/11. First, since many such states are not our friends, they saw America receiving her comeuppances for past sins. Second, since a few of these states have long been identified as state sponsors of terrorist groups, they knew they could soon be on receiving end of any general U.S. response. Of course, when President Bush identifies an "axis of evil" by name, then the U.S. simply drives this countries even closer together, furthering their collective disconnectedness from the rest of the world. I do not see anything wrong with that, because I believe in calling a spade a spade. It is just that once you generate such a list, expectations are immediately raised about what you intend to do about that list, so follow-through is crucial. In that way, you could say that the "axis of evil" is a self-declared "domino theory" for the global war on terrorism: America sets itself up for having to deal with the entire lot to demonstrate significant milestones in the war. Is this an aggressive approach to shrinking the Gap? You bet.

Dr. Barnett's analysis here is interesting to consider when contemplating the existence of TM Lutas' Implicit Villains within the Core.

The United States had a great deal of difficulty with France in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and this was attributed to many things by the " Freedom Fries" brigade - envy, a cultural predisposition to surrender, Jacques Chirac's perfidy, financial corruption and so on. While this was amusing or had some smidgen of truth the popular fury tended to obscure the reality that France was acting in terms of it's national interests which it's elite generally has perceived for some time to be in counterbalancing American power and leveraging French influence via procedural strangleholds on international bodies like the EU and the UNSC. As early the Free French entry into Paris, DeGaulle was manuvering to create room for France in the world separate from " the Anglo-Saxons" which is why he pulled France out of NATO's military command in 1965 and developed nuclear weapons. French complaints over American " hyperpower" began during the Clinton administration, not during Bush II.

France has a long political tradition of high-handed technocratic administration with an elite bureaucracy trained in select universities. Their political economy is statist and the French see their lavish welfare state as a viable alternative ideological model to American-style capitalism. In PNM terms, the French prefer Vertical scenario organization to a much greater degree than do Americans or even the British. Under steady French pressure, though by no means solely due to them, the EU which was originally conceived as a Horizontal scenario free trade zone of borderless exchange has been transmogrified into a more of a top-down, interventionist, bureaucratic superstate that suffers from a democratic deficit, a weak legislature and an uncertain executive. The EU has power without accountability at home and abroad in world, claims to share authority with the United States without accepting responsibility for the dangerous Leviathan chores. This is not a promising long-term situation for Core stability.

When we see " nations making their choices" in the aftermath of 9/11, that includes members of the Core who see a strategic or financial interest in the Gap remaining non-integrated. We need to outmanuver those nations to establish the new Rule-set while appealing to the better angels of their nature.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004

It seems to have escaped the attention of the New York Times, usually they are quite breathless with these sorts of things but senior military commanders and diplomatic personnel have penned a public letter on the state of American Foreign Policy.

Had this letter criticized the Bush administration it would have been a headliner - but since it supported the administration it has been buried.
Monday, November 08, 2004


Rogue States
Gatekeeper Elites
Failed States
Implicit Villains
Non-State Actors
WMD Proliferators
International Criminal Networks
Secessionist Guerillas
Superempowered Individuals
Terror Networks
Transnational Progressivism
Centrifugal Nationalism
Totalitarian Statism


al Qaida
The Taliban
Islamic Jihad
Iraqi Insurgency
Abu Sayyaf
Call to Combat
Monotheism and Holy War
Hizb ut-Tahrir
Al-Aqsa Brigades
Ansar al-Islam
Pushtun tribal groups
Pakistani Extremist Parties
Syrian Intelligence
Iranian Pasdaran and Intelligence
Palestinian Authority
4th Generation Warfare
WMD Proliferation
Kantian Rule-set Advocates
Extreme Secular Left
Saudi Arabia
North Korea
Non-Islamist Terrorist groups


Terrorist paramilitary fighters
Operational Support Cells
Martyrdom Operations
Arab Afghans
Jihadi Network
Muslim Brotherhood
Legal Islamist Political Parties
Radical Madrassa Network
Islamist Charities
Financial Supporters
Extremist Scholars/Sheiks
Semi-Official State Media
Islamist Websites
Shiite Rule of the Jurisprudent
Qtubist Ideology
The Khwarij Tendency


Juan Cole has been turning his blog over to authors with different viewpoints, the latest being William R. Polk, formerly of the State Department Policy Planning Council. Polk's American Options in Iraq gives us three scenarios - Stay the Course by Muddling Through, Vietnamization and what I would call Strategic Withdrawal and Internationalization.

While I disagree with Dr. Polk's premise of the Iraq War being unjustified ( I'd say unsuccessful) and some of his analogies ( the U.S. is not Imperial Russia, Iraqis are not Chechens - or Irish Catholics) I agree with him that the first two options are not working. The first is failing for lack of a strategy to win within Iraq and troops to carry it out. The second will fail if we continue to build around a leader who has neither a substantial and loyal military force or democratic legitimacy. Allawi seems competent and ruthless but he can't win as a puppet who relies on American guns - he needs his own loyalists and popular support.

Therefore I thought I might address Option Three as outlined by Dr. Polk:

"The third option is to choose to get out rather than being forced. Time is a wasting asset; the longer the choice is put off, the harder it will be to make. The steps required to implement this policy need not be dramatic, but the process needs to be affirmed and made unambiguous. The initial steps could be merely verbal. America would have first to declare unequivocally that it will give up its lock on the Iraqi economy, will cease to spend Iraqi revenues as it chooses and will allow Iraqi oil production to be governed by market forces rather than by an American monopoly. If President Bush could be as courageous as General Charles de Gaulle was in Algeria when he admitted that the Algerian insurgency had “won” and called for a “peace of the braves,” fighting would quickly die down in Iraq as it did in Algeria and in all other guerrilla wars. Then, and only then, could elections be meaningful. In this period, Iraq would need a police force but not an army. A UN multinational peacekeeping force would be easier, cheaper and safer than creating an Iraqi army which in the past destroyed moves toward civil society and probably would do so again, probably indeed paving the way for the “ghost” of Saddam Husain. A variety of "service" functions would then have to be organized. Given a chance, Iraq could do them mostly by itself. It would soon again become a rich country and has a talented, well-educated population. Step by step, health care, clean water, sewage, roads, bridges, pipelines, electric grids, housing, etc. could be mainly provided by the Iraqis themselves, as they were in the past. When I visited Baghdad in February 2003 on the eve of the invasion, the Iraqis with whom I talked were proud that they had rebuilt the Tigris bridge that had been destroyed in the 1991 war. They can surely do so again.

In its own best interest, the Iraq government would empower the Iraq National Iraq Oil Company (NIOC) to award concessions by bid to a variety of international companies, each of which and NIOC would sell oil on the world market. Contracts for reconstruction paid for by Iraqi money would be awarded under bidding, as they traditionally were, but to prevent excessive corruption perhaps initially supervised by the World Bank. Where other countries supplied aid, they could be given preferential treatment in the award of contracts as is common practice elsewhere. The World Bank would follow its regular procedures on its loans. Abrogating current American policies that work against the recovery of Iraqi industry and commerce would spur development since any reasonably intelligent and self-interested government would emphasize getting Iraqi enterprises back into operation and employing Iraqi workers. That process could be speeded up through international loans, commercial agreements and protective measures so that unemployment, now at socially catastrophic levels, would be diminished. Neighborhood participation in running social affairs and providing security are old traditions in Iraqi society and allowing or favoring their reinvigoration would promote the excellent side effect of grass roots political representation. As fighting dies down, reasonable security is achieved and popular institutions revive, the one million Iraqis now living abroad will be encouraged to return home. In the aggregate they are intelligent, highly trained, and well motivated and can make major contributions in all phases of Iraqi life.

In such a program, inevitably, there will be set-backs and shortfalls, but they can be partly filled by international organizations. The steps will not be easy; Iraqis will disagree over timing, personnel and rewards while giving the process a chance will require American political courage. But, and this is the crucial matter, any other course of action would be far worse for both America and Iraq. The safety and health of American society as well as Iraqi society requires that this policy be implemented intelligently, determinedly and soon."

Dr. Polk has posted some good, hardheaded observations, some unproven assumptions and a dose of breezy confidence in international organizations that flies in the face of known facts.

His observations about the Iraqis are accurate. The qualities that make them good candidates for Option III also made them good candidates for democratization and liberalization under the Neocon scenario of liberation. The latter worked out poorly so far due to a politically inept CPA that stalled democratization and generally incompetent planning, security, organizational lines of authority and expenditure of resources. Option III requires competence and efficiency in all these same areas but it is " doable " if we start anew.

The assumptions about international organizations and the fighting dying down are at best unproven. The UN which took bribes from Saddam, enacted sanctions and had their Baghdad HQ blown up would seem unlikely to have much legitimacy in the eyes of the average Iraqi, much less in the eyes of the insurgents. The problem lies with the heterogeneous nature of the insurgency. Iraq is not Vietnam - we are not fighting the NLF but a decentralized enemy. The non-Baathist Sunni nationalist and Sadrist Islamist fighters may down their arms quietly in the advent of International control or they might not. Being innately corrupt, the Baathists will probably go whichever way holds out promise for personal security, status and enrichment - if they believe they will lose their priviliged status they will keep fighting. The radical Sunni Islamist hard-core are not going to stop at all, period. Rearranging the faces and chairs by undemocratic fiat will not matter. Americans and the UN are crusader infidels, most Sunni Arabs are apostates and the Shiites are the enemy from their perspective.

For Option III to work, Iraqi political, ethnic and religious groups need to move from not just a position of active opposition but to active support against the remaining hardcore resistance. That means a prearranged power-sharing consensus that is then legitimized by a democratic mandate that will sustain the brutal counterinsurgency tactics required to stamp out lunatic bitter-enders. This is an unpleasant task that cannot be ignored or wished away. If this is not done then characters like Zaqawri will inherit the mantle of " authentic " Iraqi resistance to a puppet government and soak up grass-roots support from the groups that have exited the field. Neutrality from these groups is not enough and neither the World Bank nor lightly armed UN Blue helmets formed into police battalions can do the job.

The question is primarily a political one of lining up support within Iraq, something the Bush administration has failed to do thus far. Internationalization simply delays that task further and while NGO's and International organizations can help, they should be viewed as a support or supplement to forging an intra-Iraqi governing coalition that can handle an insurgency reduced in size and ferocity.
Sunday, November 07, 2004

Sigh. Bear with me, new posts will be coming soon. Real life continues to intrude.

Generally I find for every ten ideas I have, I'll think about four or five with seriousness, sketching out concepts on a yellow legal pad and my schedule will permit posting of only one or two. I've been in that kind of personal/professional time crunch this past week and it continues today. Lots of things I'd like to comment on and only odd slivers of time to write, usually multitasking along the way. How guys like Geitner Simmons and Tom Barnett juggle these things is beyond me.

I may have a couple of short pieces up later today in the evening - probably one related to PNM and another to the current existential state of the Democrats.
Friday, November 05, 2004

It isn't evangelicals. It isn't that Americans are " dumb". It isn't that Karl Rove is Mephistopheles. It isn't John Edwards fault. It isn't John Kerry's fault.It isn't the DLC and Al From's fault. It isn't that Americans are evil, mindless, easily manipulated tools of corporate Fascism.

The Democrat Party keeps losing elections - deservedly so I might add - because the people who make those kind of judgements listed above run the Democratic Party. Judgements that quite frankly offend a substantial number of people who either choose to stay home or cross partisan lines to vote Republican. And it's a good thing too because the people making these judgements are by and large a dangerous bunch of America-loathing fools. Some examples:

Juan Cole, who neither loathes America nor is a fool, turned his blog Informed Comment over to someone who is - Mark LeVine, who considers America to be a " criminal nation" ( like Israel) that must be stopped and considers Bush to be a second Slobodan Milosevic for the War on Terror - deliberately confusing combat casualties with genocide ( and using a discredited report as evidence). Not surprisingly, Mr. LeVine is a follower of Communist theorist Antonio Gramsci. Does the Democratic Party really want subversives who long to destroy the old order as self-appointed spokesmen ?

Kevin Drum made the factual and rather mild observation that George Bush had won the election and had a mandate to govern. Not much of a value judgement, more of a simple acknowlegement of the reality of the result of a democratic election. His commenters went nuts. It was apparently worse over at the Daily Kos when a similar admission of a Bush victory was made.

Paul Krugman has no interest in reexamining the Democratic Party message - or perhaps in considering his own high profile role and that of the slanted Howell Raines -era NYT news coverage in his party's defeat. Or that of the forgery peddlers at CBS and of meddlesome foreigners like The Guardian and IAEA chief ElBaradei with his clumsy last minute leak of the " non-secured" explosives.

Geitner Simmons has great examples here and his superb Fisking of Gary Wills recent op-ed. which amounted to an erudite anti-religious, anti-reality, tantrum that conflicts with all of the previous public positions Professor Wills.

Armed Liberal can see the problem. So does Dave Schuyler at Glittering Eye here and here. The American people can see it too.

Perhaps the left-wing leaders of the Democratic Party are simply blinded by ideology and have taken to believing their own propaganda. Perhaps they do not see it because they think it is better to remain in control of a losing party than to lose control of a winning party. Given the choice between winning elections by adopting more mainstream positions or sticking with the radical activists on race, gender, law, the environment and class - Democratic pols choose their alliance with the radicals time and again, no matter how often the lunatic fringe drags them to defeat.

I'm glad they lost.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

No, I'm not talking about Diplomad today but a piece from American Diplomacy that takes a view of Islamist terrorism on a scale of seriousness somewhere between the challenge of the Cold War and WWII. It's not that the information therein is new or that the author's suggestions have not been made by others but it is the tone is refreshing. It demonstrates the awareness that Islamism - not just the tactic of terror- is " a clear and present danger" and that America's elite may finally be accepting the nature and scale of the conflict.

(Hat tip: Milt's File)

Dr. Barnett, after a weekend mishap or two, had an interesting post on his blog on how the re-election of President Bush combined with the internal political and economic situation of the New Core giants - Russia, China and India - could reshape the international security structure.

"Getting over the election is equally easy. Would have supported President Kerry like crazy in moving this country ahead on this global war on terror, but will do the same for President Bush. The next four years will be crucial for the Core and the continued spread and health of the global economy. China will be in an entirely new era at the end of the next four years, as will both India and Russia. Not surprisingly, basically all New Core powers are fairly relieved with another four years of Bush, because they'd rather have the U.S. steady while so much is going on—on their end. Plus, Bush seems committed to both fighting global terror and growing the global economy, and those are numbers 2 and 1—respectively—for the New Core

The simplest answer on this election comes from Todd Purdum, one of the Times' best political analysts: shared social values trumped mistakes in the steering of the global war on terror. In effect, the majority of Americans want America to remember some key things about itself as it goes about trying to reshape the global security environment in response to the new challenges revealed by 9/11. In many ways, this election reminds me of the backward-glancing social conservatism of China's 4th generation of leaders, the Congress Party's return to power in India, and Putin's tough line on capitalism run amok in Russia. Like these three leaderships, the Republicans right now are doing a better job of listening to the rural heartland, which still counts for plenty in all of these four powers. And what they are saying is what I have often said: no matter how long the train nor how fast it's moving, the engine cannot go any faster than the caboose.

China wants to integrate rapidly with the outside world and modernize its economy, but guess what? It can't leave the rural poor behind. Ditto for India's IT-driven economy. Ditto for Russia's rapidly polarizing social scene where cities leap ahead and the villages tend to get left behind. In America, which is so much further along in its development, the matter is as much about values as economics. In effect, the rural heartland says to the far more integrated and outwardly-connected big coastal urban areas: you can run ahead in your "sophisticated" view of the world and how it works, but election-wise, you won't be getting out too far ahead of what constitutes heartland values. ....

....Moreover, not lost in all this change is a new sense that old enemies need be old enemies no longer. This is especially true of China, which the public increasingly understands shares hugely overlapping strategic economic—and therefore security—interests in any global war on terror. "

The nice thing about the situation that Dr. Barnett is pointing toward - emphasized today by Putin's warm public embrace of Bush's reelection- is that it meshes nicely with a complementary emerging Old Core trend - the tightening of the military-security relationships within the Anglosphere to become an alliance within the Western alliance. Both Britain and Australia, the latter reconfirming it's traditional solidarity with the United states by the strong re-election of Prime Minister John Howard, are now in a posture of militarily active wartime allies.

This fusion of the Anglosphere as a globally dynamic entity was the clarion call of Robert Conquest, the noted scholar of Stalin's Great Terror, who opined on the necessity several years ago in his Reflections on a Ravaged Century. Exigencies of the Islamist global insurgency from 9/11 to Bali to Iraq are rapidly bringing Conquest's vision to fruition but the combination of the Anglosphere tied to the New Core in a grand alliance is far, far superior.

The New Core brings over a third of humanity and at least a fifth of the world's land mass ruled by governments committed to modernity and globalization that are willing to defend themselves with hard power without apology. The participation in strategic decisions by India and China avoidwould the political charge of " American empire", "West against the Rest" and " White Imperialism". Even if such a combination is only implicit, the sheer weight of such an alliance will peel off other European Old Core states away from the Franco-German axis that is championing anti-Americanism and injecting chaos producing, disconnecting, Kantian rule-set values into a decidedly a non-Kantian world.

It's a strategic Coalition of the Able that could achieve victory over Islamist Terror and a shrink the Gap in the 21st Century.

Zenpundit - a NEWSMAGAZINE and JOURNAL of scholarly opinion.

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