Monday, October 31, 2005

Due to some computer problems tonight related to my real world job that ate up, oh, four hours worth of my time - my post is, well, postponed :o)

But here are a few others worth reading:

"Who are the Insurgents?" from the USIP ( Hat tip Tom Odom). The paper has some admirable detail and analytical depth and was written by an Israeli specialist on Iraq. A fusion with confusion on the Sunni spectrum.

"On War Crimes; or, “What makes it immoral if you lose but not if you win?” by Curzon of Coming Anarchy who is on a blogging tear lately.

Dave has everything you might wish to know about Judge Alito

Curtis connects consilience, resilience, conservatism and Cicero in one post ( Cicero the Blogger not the Roman, though the historical Cicero certainly desired a resilient Republic)

Andis Kaulins the Lawpundit gives a comprehensive review of the legal questions regarding blogs, their content, RSS feeds, fair use, data harvesting, attribution and Implied Licenses. In other words, things you as a blogger should know but probably do not. Here also is Judge Posner on fair use doctrine.

That's it.
Sunday, October 30, 2005

I have had to add word verification today as spammers are now going to town on my archived posts. I apologize for the inconvenience but spamming was starting to reach critical mass and it was either that or shut off comments altogether which I really don't want to do as I get a great deal out of your feedback.

Dan of tdaxp's post yesterday on John Robb's theory of Global Guerilla warfare and the comments that ensued, plus Myke Cole's article and an email exchange we had on 5GW have left me pondering the possible interrrelationship of the various theories - PNM, 4GW, Network-centric warfare, Boyd's OODA and GG. Both with one another and the battlespace itself. I'm pretty sure that scale and time are the relevant factors here but there's substantially more that I'm not discerning yet. I need to attempt look at things from a consilient perspective. Reading Robb's book when it comes out I think will help, I've been following Global Guerillas for much of the past year but there's nothing like digesting an author's systemic case.

The discussion yesterday has also given me an insight on state defense - or at least trying to understand how to begin constructing one - against 4GW/GG attackers. My thanks to Dan and John for getting the wheels turning in my head. I'll try to post on this small topic tonight.

Oh, yes and the big project at Zenpundit should be unveiled next week :o)

I'm currently reading the very impressive Shield of Achilles by Philip Bobbitt and yesterday felt compelled to purchase Simon Sebag Montefiore's monumental Stalin: In The Court Of The Red Tsar and On The Origins Of War by Donald Kagan.

The less time I have to read, the more books I buy.
Saturday, October 29, 2005

This article in American Diplomacy by Avery Goldman is not going to raise any eyebrows among regular China watchers ( I also suggest you skip over the tedious introduction) but it does summarize the current strategic situation fairly well. It is also noteworthy in that AD reflects general thinking at State, they seem to be buying in to Dr. Barnett's call in Blueprint for Action for America to " lock in tomorrow's China at today's prices". An excerpt from the Avery piece:

" The key to sensible policy in dealing with China is to recognize that we are in the midst of what the Chinese sometimes refer to as a "period of strategic opportunity." For at least the next couple of decades, the areas of conflict between the U.S. and China (especially difficult economic problems and even the potentially dangerous disagreement about Taiwan) are in fact manageable, not intractable, problems. And both China and the U.S. have important common interests (fighting terrorism, dealing with proliferation, coping with environmental degradation, and addressing public health crises in a globalized setting) that provide strong incen-tives for both Beijing and Washington to work hard to manage and contain bilateral conflicts. Because conflicting interests do not yet swamp common interests in U.S.-China relations, there is time, most likely a couple of decades, to learn whether a longer-term modus vivendi is possible. Each side will be drawing con-clusions along the way. Time will provide the Chinese with the opportunity to learn whether the U.S. is willing to accept a larger international role for a more powerful China. Time will also provide the U.S. with the opportunity to learn whether China is in fact emerging as a responsible great power with which the U.S. can coexist without sacrificing American vital interests. A sensible policy is not only one under which the U.S. seizes this "period of strategic opportunity" to monitor what China does, but also one which encourages China's responsible behavior whenever possible."
Friday, October 28, 2005

A war and espionage mix today !

Eddie at Live From the FDNF has a pre-deployment post with more details on the Navy's plans for close-quarter combat capabilities and littoral/riparine assault units.

Chris Albritton on the Jaysh al-Mohammed ( hat tip John Robb)

Bill Petti at Duck of Minerva on the newly issued National Intelligence Strategy.

Callimachus on war as an engine of social change

The Counterterrorism Blog reports that Hezbollah remains a terrorist organization of acute concern to the United States

That's it !
Thursday, October 27, 2005

Collounsbury was irked by several slams directed at France in a piece I linked and quoted from by Bruce Kesler and Col responded with some exasperation:

"First, with respect to the blog item, I am pained that you quote more of the simple minded anti-French tripe. Childish and rather outdated (as well as inaccurate with respect to the supposed connexions)"

Col it must be said, resides semi-permanently in a Francophone friendly region of the world and is, if I recall correctly ( and I may not), quite at home with the French language and culture. He is also correct that Franco-American relations have warmed up considerably since their nadir before the invasion of Iraq though this is neither well known outside of Washington nor covered much in the MSM over here. Bush and Chirac have made a concerted effort to retreat from the use of charged rhetoric and improve cooperation in the War on Terror; while the rise of Interior MinisterNicolas Sarkozy as Chirac's possible successor, whose views on economics, terrorism and Israel are congenial to the USG, damps down any urge on the Bush administration's part to do anything that could incite French voters and improve the chances of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin .

So why do conservatives and even moderate or apolitical commentators continue to take gratuitous rhetorical swipes at France ? Some of it has to do with news lag - the change in tone in relations really isn't reported much, fireworks merit frontpage treatment not quiet diplomacy. Mostly however it is a combination of recent events and a long historical legacy.

In the family of democratic nations, the United States and France have the longest and most bitter case of ongoing case of love-hate sibling rivalry. Friction did not begin with Jacques Chirac and George W. Bush, it started with John Adams and Talleyrand.

France is the country that helped midwife the American Revolution, sent us Lafayette, Alexis de Tocqueville and the Statue of Liberty. The United States in turn sent the French Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine,Thomas Jefferson, General Pershing and soldiers unnumbered who fell at Belleau Wood and Omaha Beach. America moved forward after WWII with the Marshall Plan and when America and the Soviet Union stood on the brink of nuclear war Charles DeGaulle backed the United States without even a single reservation. Even if the Russians moved on Berlin, the French President said " "France will act in accord with you."

Yet relations were seldom warm between the two countries in over two hundred years. Even in Washington's time, relations soured with the antics of "Cititzen Genet" and French privateering. The diplomacy of France struck most of the Founding Fathers ( Franklin and Jefferson being notable exceptions) in particular John Adams as exactly the corrupt decadence of the Old World that America must stand as a moral example against. The French in turn loathed the rigid Protestant moralism of Woodrow Wilson and the parochial obstinacy of Truman and most of all, the outsized and loud " Texan" presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush. Reagan too, was initially demonized as a "cowboy" but he and Mitterand bonded over a shared anti-Soviet outlook and over time, the Gipper managed to acquire something bordering on a cordial acceptance from the French, not unlike that given to an eccentric but respected elderly uncle who visits once or twice a year.

The French have habitually made snide remarks about American provincialism for two centuries and at times on matters of geopolitics their complaints were warranted. The failure of America to support the League of Nations in the 1920's or the efforts of Prime Minister Leon Blum in the mid-1930's to rally countries against Nazi Germany left feelings of great bitterness and, in some sectors of French opinion, justified Daladier's later resort to appeasement. The collaboration of large portions of French society with the Nazis during Vichy, the robotic loyalty of Maurice Thorez's Communists to Stalin and French military ineptitude in Vietnam, Egypt and Algeria did little to inspire confidence in Washington. Most Americans though, generally retained a benign attitude toward France in the postwar years and despite periodic squabbles, Paris always remained a prime draw for Americans headed for Europe.

There has been a sea change in attitudes over here since the invasion of Iraq which I don't think is either well-understood or appreciated in Paris. Nor is it likely to change soon. For the first time in my life I sense real hatred directed at France, not annoyance at an ally but a hardening sentiment at the grassroots level that France is no ally at all. It is not a universal opinion but while it is centered on the political Right attributing this Francophobia to a delusion of the Freepers would be a huge error. It exists across much of the political spectrum now, only among hard-core Democratic, Bush-haters and the far-Left is Chirac's performance admired.

It was not so much Chirac's opposition to American policies -if anything Gerhard Schroedrer's position was even more inflexible and unreasonable but he caught little popular disdain here - but the form that Chirac's opposition took, the visceral feel that carried through the media shocked many Americans who were not particularly conservative and not a few who were critical of President Bush. " Freedom Fries" was a particularly idiotic reaction but it was also a sign that the average joe who didn't care a whit for world politics was engaged and very angry. Chirac's message misfired here about as poorly as George W. Bush's did among European Social Democrats.

These feelings and the frequency of these anti-French remarks will die down if France and the United States have occasion to work together in a common cause in a mutually supportive and very public way. Failing some kind of important symbolic gesture by Paris, one directed at the American people rather than at official Washington, the cooling off period may take years.


Bruce Kesler asked that I post the following comment as the excerpt above had been directed at his post.( Note: The link in this excerpt is mine though the quote is Mr. Kesler's):

"Which part of the UN report released today documenting Frances's politicians and companies as the most active corrupters in Saddam's oil-for-bribes scam does Collounsbury consider "simple-minded anti-French tripe"? His comment is simple-minded French tripe, a childish denial of the broken vase at his feet, rather outdated from a supposedly grown person. --Make all the excuses imagined, and the facts still remain that France has been usually more trouble, and antagonist, or useless, than ally."

Jeff Medcalf, the esteemed proprietor of Caerdroia, offers a counterpoint to my gloomy assessment of 4GW wars morphing into 5GW decimation:

"The military is little more than the delegation of the power of self-defense against foreign foes to the State - the militia power, if you will. The police forces are nothing more than the citizens' delegation of authority to the State to enforce the law (which all citizens are duty-bound to do). And so forth.

The practical result of this is that, at least in the US, the State can fail utterly at some task without leading to dissolution — even at the task of defense against enemies, foreign or domestic. Let us say, for example, that the police make a total mess of fighting against a domestic 4GW threat. While it's possible the government could turn to death squads, it is unlikely (again, at least in the US). What is far more likely is that the armed citizens would organize themselves into a group and go solve the problem. There is a name for this: a Committee of Vigilance. Perhaps better known as vigilantes. While not the best solution — such groups tend to get out of hand — it is certainly better than giving up to death or at least chaos."

Jeff is following in the footsteps of William Lind on this issue. Private militias or Vigilantees are a potential " popular" response to 4GW. Jeff is analytically on target ( a good response to 4GW - that is open to debate - probably context matters here).

New blog up. 3:43 am postings. Webmastering for Tom Barnett . Reaching out to others And a big day job at Enterra.

I'm feeling lazy in comparison :o)
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Myke Cole, a consultant with CACI who sometimes appears at DNI as well, has some ominous speculations about 5th Generation Warfare in an excellent article the latest issue of The Small Wars Journal. An excerpt:

"Written in 1988, “V” proves chillingly prescient in light of the strategies 4GW actors are enacting as they maneuver to defeat large states that they cannot hope to defeat on conventional grounds. Historian and 4GW guru William Lind notes “Police departments in some large American cities would be quick to note that they are already facing Fourth Generation opponents on the streets.”In another article, Lind points out that “it is happening in some American cities. Police officers are being killed — assassinated, really — not because they get in the way of some bank robber but because they are symbols of the state. A Fourth Generation fighter, usually a gang member, simply walks up to a police cruiser and shoots a cop.

...Moore’s “V” gives a glimpse of a subnational enemy who has realized that his power rises and falls in direct proportion to the cohesion of state authority. In realizing this, he understands that the destruction of the state altogether creates the kind of power vacuum where his sort can thrive. “V for Vendetta” warns that perhaps it is not a change of tactics, but of the scope of the enemy objective that defines the fifth generation war evolving around us. It suggests a generation of enemies dedicated to the ultimate destruction of the state in totality, not just as means for seizing power in Iraq or driving US forces from Afghanistan, but for inaugurating a new world order where the cohesive, central power of the state fails in the face of an enemy it cannot define, cordon off and defeat on its own terms, until its citizenry loses patience and withdraws its collective allegiance. "

Several comments from me:

First, I have just begun Philip Bobbitt's Shield of Achilles - for those out there who have finished the book, how does Myke's scenario fit in with the idea of Bobbitt's Market-state superceding the Nation-state ?

Secondly, I can forsee an exceedingly grim response by States where the ruling elite retains the will to power to contest their destruction.

Confronted with persistently successful 4GW/5GW actors - particularly those on the loose end of the organizational spectrum such as virtual cells or a cell organized around a superempowered individual - a major state power will inevitably go the route of setting up a small off-the books clandestine unit - essentially a death squad without the pyschopoathology - and begin quietly disappearing people based upon probalistic estimates.

You don't really need very many people to do this either. The yezhovschina purges ( which were not secret and were designed to instill terror rather than suppress it) in 1937
were accompished by about 200 handpicked professional killers who in turn were themselves easily liquidated by Stalin after they had served their purposes, being too few in number to offer effective resistance or mount a coup on their own.

4GW actors are interdependent with the state they are attacking and their effectiveness correlates with the self-restraint of the state actors being concerned with the political calculus. If the State actors are indifferent to political concerns or can achieve mastery over it via secrecy, then the asymmetrical relationship becomes unfavorable to the 4GW actors.

4GW and 5GW threats are dangerous because they threaten to push the State into a great leap backward in moral terms even when the 4GW actors lose the game.

There will be a post later tonight, most likely on American conservatives and France ( inspired by Collounsbury). I'm feeling somewhat pressed for blogging time however as I have a " facilitation" meeting where I have to lead for semi-unwilling co-workers on Monday that requires planning; and a major project for Zenpundit that I am deep in to putting together and hope to unveil early next month.

And tonight, some kind of Father-Son pumpkin carving event at my son's pre-school. The Son of Zenpundit wants to make a 10 lb pumpkin look just like Batman ( and not the Adam West version either but the edgy, dark, Frank Miller kind), something that is going to require some artistic license on my part.

To the Batmobile !
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cliopatria has had a symposium on an article "Bush's Ancestors"by Princeton historian and sometimes liberal partisan Sean Wilentz. In the article, Wilentz draws a comparison and traces the origin of modern American conservatism to The Whig Party that rose up in the antebellum period to challenge the Democratic Party of Andrew Jackson. The Wilentz article is worth reading even though I think that in numerous instances the author is being rather facile by ignoring some logical historical connections that might be more flattering to George W. Bush and the G.O.P. than the comparison with the Whigs who died an ignoble death equivocating on slavery.

The Cliopatriarchs Ralph Luker, Jonathan Dresner, K.C. Johnson, Caleb McDaniel, Wilson J. Moses and Greg Robinson give an excellent demonstration of how to properly critique a historical argument, probing for weaknesses in reasoning and offering countervailing evidence to the thesis (Moses is the least effective at addressing Wilentz but his argument is nonetheless entertaining in a weirdly provocative way - every symposium needs somebody to be a bombthrower or at a minimum, get outside everyone's comfort zone).The symposium should be printed and passed around as mandatory reading in seminars for first year graduate students.

Collectively, they offered many cogent criticisms that I myself would make of " Bush's Ancestors" including:

Where the Cliopatriarchs critiquing Wilentz are weakest - as is Wilentz - is in understanding or explaining the several economic philosophies of conservatism which seem to all get lumped together under the vague label of " pro-business". This is a lacuna that seems to affect the historical profession as a whole which collectively believes that modern economics began with John Maynard Keynes The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money and ends with Paul Krugman's column. Any opposing view of economics from the Right is a priori dismissed outright as scribbling on a cocktail napkin - despite von Mises, von Hayek, Milton Friedman, a boatload of Nobel prize winners at the University of Chicago and a supply-sider Nobel laureate who inspired the Euro.

The intellectual resistance among most historians to giving serious consideration to conservative economic arguments borders on being an article of faith; and as a result they miss an important part of the conservative movement. American conservatism is deeply split on economics and the libertarian, free-market wing provided an ideology that helped fuel Ronald Reagan's march to the White House. Big Business by contrast opposed Reagan in the primaries and lined up behind George H.W. Bush in 1988 and George W. Bush in 2000. Supply-Side economics are what drove Reagan's across the board tax cuts, budget cuts, degregulation policy and tax reform, not the complacent rent-seeking of the Business Roundtable.

Big Business does not like across the board tax cuts, tax simplification or pro-entrepreneurial deregulatory policies. Big business likes tax loopholes, credits, subsidies, no-bid contracts, interest-free government loans, waivers and high artificial barriers to market entry - things that George W. Bush has given them in spades. That wing of the G.O.P. is Richard Nixon's and Bob Dole's wing, not Jack Kemp's or Ronald Reagan's and they are in the driver's seat these days but constitute few of the rank and file " movement" conservatives.

A second criticism I have- and it's a surprising one given the past four years - is that the once, allegedly all-powerful, Neocons are missing in action in both the Wilentz article and in the symposium. Of the group, McDaniel comes closest to addressing that strand of conservatism, albeit indirectly. The Bush administration Neoconservatives fit very poorly into Wilentz's Whig model, if at all ( I think McDaniel's allusions and his references to the fire-eating, Southern filibusteros demonstrated how poorly).

Conservatism really isn't a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma - though in the Ivy League it might as well be.


The End of History for Preemption ? Francis Fukuyama writes in " The Bush Doctrine, before and After" the following:

"Under the right circumstances, it is impossible to make a normative case against preventive war: if suicide terrorists with WMD are clearly planning an attack on the US on the territory of another country, it is hard to argue that America does not have the right to take matters into its own hands rather than wait for United Nations Security Council permission to act. Even the UN's High Level Panel on reform admitted as much. The problem is that, in the real world, such conditions almost never exist. We seldom have good information about our enemies' capabilities or reliable ways to predict their future behaviour. Failure to find Iraqi WMD exposed the limits of US intelligence capabilities. The Bush administration merged the terrorism/WMD problem with the rogue state/proliferation problem in a way that skewed the risk-reward calculation toward preventive war. The Iraq war showed that traditional prudential strictures against preventive war ( Bismarck once called preventive war "committing suicide for fear of death") remain valid even in an age of suicide terrorism.

The second dimension of the Bush doctrine has to do with its approach to allies and legitimacy, also known as "unilateralism". I do not believe that most administration officials were contemptuous of global public opinion. Many felt, however, that legitimacy had to be won ex post, rather than ex ante via a Security Council resolution. Officials such as Donald Rumsfeld believed, not unreasonably, that the collective action mechanisms of the UN and of the Europeans were broken, as evidenced most recently in the Balkans where only US leadership brought the Bosnian and Kosovar conflicts to a close. In its own eyes, the Bush administration was playing the role of "benevolent hegemon", providing global public goods that the rest of the international community could not.

The Bush administration failed to anticipate the almost uniformly hostile reaction to benevolent hegemony, not only among those countries traditionally hostile to US purposes, but also among America 's closest European allies. Legitimacy came neither ex ante nor ex post. At an elite level, leaders may seek to restore good relations with Washington out of self-interest, but at a mass level there has been a seismic shift in the way much of the world perceives the US , whose image is no longer the Statue of Liberty but the hooded prisoner at Abu Ghraib.

There are several reasons for this. A hegemon has to be perceived not just as benevolent but competent. With the administration's failure to find Iraqi WMD and its bungling of the Iraq reconstruction process, Washington 's credibility plummeted. The Bush doctrine's preventive war doctrine was, moreover, based on implicit assertion of US exceptionalism. Given that the US would almost certainly criticise a similar anti-terrorist policy proclaimed by Russia , China or India , its assertion of this right rested on the premise that America is somehow more disinterested than other nations. Americans may believe in their own good intentions but international legitimacy emerges only if others do as well. Long before the Iraq war, Americans failed to perceive deep currents of anti-Americanism building up."

The U.S., it must be said, was first decried as a " hyperpower" in 1994 when it was being criticized abroad for too little unilateralism, not 2004 when it was widely ( and erroneously) criticized for too much. Fukuyama concludes:

"The best way to assess the durability of the Bush doctrine is to ask how likely it is to be applied again in the future - that is, how ready is the US to again intervene unilaterally to topple a rogue state proliferator and engage in another nation-building exercise? The answer comes from the Bush administration itself, which has already backed away from military confrontations with both North Korea and Iran in favour of multilateral approaches, despite much clearer evidence of nuclear programmes in those countries. This suggests the doctrine has not survived into Mr Bush's second term, much less become a permanent component of US strategy against global terrorism"

The United States is inevitably going to be involved in future " nation-building" enterprises simply because the Gap is going to continue produce horrors that will reach a threshold that connected, democratic, vocal populations in the Core will find impossible to ignore once the suffering is of a sufficient magnitude. Or when some ongoing atrocity neatly coincide with state interests. Nor will a future president shrink from a better safe than sorry military intervention approach in a situation where loose nukes and irrational hostile actor are involved.

No, what will happen is like with Munich, Pearl Harbor and Vietnam, 9/11 and Iraq will become analogies that get weighed against one another in a future crisis as statesmen struggle with questions of war and peace.
Monday, October 24, 2005

The intrepid Bruce Kesler has a stinging analysis of the Iraqi referendum in light of the predictions and the political axes ground by those making them. His piece is entitled, " Not a Sunni Day For The Left" and is posted at AEI Online. Some excerpts:

" Today, it?s the Americans who are unleashing revolutionary ideas, most recently in the Middle East. But the French, as is their wont, demure. And why not? Aside from the danger that democratically-elected governments would expose the role of Chirac's advisors in profiteering from the UN oil-for-bribes program, a liberated Middle East would upset France?s cozy power and commercial relationships with other corrupt Arab states. Democracy is too potent a force to be fooled with by mere un-French mortals from Texas.

...Did the invasion of Iraq precipitate these changes? I think the hawks considerably overstate their case, but at the same time they do have a case. Even if Iraq is a mess, it might all be worthwhile if it eventually produces progress toward a more open, more liberal Middle East. At the very least, it's an argument that needs to be engaged.

...Even the New York Times's defeatist in Baghdad, Dexter Filkins, was forced to recognize the significance of last Saturday's turnout in Iraq?s constitutional referendum, which was heavier than last January's turnout and higher than most U.S. elections. It represents the first evidence that Iraqi?s Sunni Moslems, whose community forms the heart of the guerrilla insurgency, have decided to join the budding Iraqi political process. Another New York Times report tells us that, for the first time, Syria's Opposition Unites Behind a Call for Democratic Changes "

Interestingly enough, Bruce's thesis is being echoed, some irony here, in Le Figaro ( Hat tip Marc Schulman):

"It’s hard for the anti-Bushites to swallow: the Iraqis accept the democracy offered by the United States. Saturday, 61% of eligible Iraqis took part in the referendum on the Constitution. On January 30, they had mobilized in similar fashion, in spite of the threats, to elect their deputies. Whereas the popular wisdom sees in George W. Bush the expression of a “totalitarian spirit,” history is correcting this caricature. It is a change in perception that is not to France’s advantage. By confronting the intimidation of the Islamists who forbid these electoral consultations, Iraqi society expressed its refusal to be subject to their wishes. Will Iraqis build the Muslim democracy hoped for by American neoconservatives, and that the media chorus judges unattainable? "

My commentary today consists of two points:

First, that while the Bush administration's lack of competent Arabic fluent USG personnel are hampering our efforts in Iraq, the critics in theMSM is not any more in touch with the average Iraqi. If they were, the turnout and result would have been less surprising. Perhaps part of the problem is that Westerners are talking primarily to the minority of Iraqis who are English fluent.

Secondly, while the referendum was very important that importance is longitudinal in terms of establishing democratic norms. Recall the civil war in El Salvador; the election in 1984 was a milestone for El Salvadorans, carried out in the face of Communist guerilla violence but the war itself stetched on into the first Bush administration. And that civil war was less complex and the FMLN rebels were more dependent on outside aid and more disciplined ( in terms of reporting to a command hierarchy) than Iraq's insurgency and foreign terrorists. Elections do not suffice to quell wars but they make the battlespace more inhospitable for the side that is fighting against the concept of free elections.

The war in Iraq is going to grind on for years at various levels of violence. Iraq's referendum did not stop the insurgency, it cannot by itself, but in habituating millions of Iraqis to democratic expectations of governance, it was an irreplaceable event. Iraqis now know the difference between a sham election run by Sadaam's Baathist goons and a real democracy; and the concept of " consent of the governed", so intolerable to Zarqawi's Islamists and Baathist die-hards alike, has been legitimized, once again, by precedent.

These are effects that can be suppressed for a time but never erased.
Sunday, October 23, 2005

If you are interested in Russian and Eurasian affairs you can do no better than to check out Peter Lavelle's Untimely Thoughts and in particular, his weekly round-up of expert opinion. Along with Nathan's Registan, Untimely Thoughts is your "must-read" blog.

This week, Peter's experts discuss the disintegrating situation in Southern Russia and Transcaucasia. A worst-case scenario view from one of them, Gordon Hahn:

"Moreover, there are four general and rather profound implications of Russia’s emerging revolutionary jihadist network for U.S. national and international security that policy-makers ought to be considering:

(1) the potential emergence of a Russia-wide terrorist network of various Muslim ethnic groups’ organizations closely tied to international groups leading to a civil war across large swaths of Russian territory. The model of al Qaeda, to which the jihadist ChRI is now more closely allied than ever before, shows that a geographically expansive, ethnically diverse, loosely organized Islamic terrorist network is realizable and viable

(2) with the Russian state’s weakening or disintegration, the increased likelihood of acquisition of MWMDs by Russia’s Islamists who could become intermediaries for their transfer to international terrorists targeting the United States. The main organizer of Russia’s Islamist network, internationally-wanted terrorist Shamil Basayev, has already said he wants nuclear weapons and engaged in nuclear psychological terror, and terrorists have made several attempts to penetrate nuclear facilities.

(3) the secession of one or more of Russia’s Muslim regions and the establishment of one or more Islamist caliphates on their territory offering a potential state base for the al Qaeda movement; an enlarged recruitment base for the international jihadist movement from among Russia’s radical Islamists, who do not appear Muslim (high rates of Muslim-Slavic marriages, increasing number of converts to Islam among ethnic non-Muslims).

(4) a rising tide of Islamist terrorism and the government’s failure to hold onto large areas of Russian territory likely would promote serious instability in Moscow. A regime that “appeased” or lost out to Islamist separatist revolts and terrorism would be more vulnerable to neo-Communist, hardline nationalist forces or be inclined to continue re-centralizing power and rolling back democracy to such an extent that it transforms itself into a dictatorship. Any of these outcomes is likely to produce a powerful government opposed to U.S. policies and interests, perhaps in alliance with a revived nationalist China or other rogue states. This would be catastrophic for security, given the burdens of an on-going war against terrorism (Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere), the danger of crisis and conflict with Iran and North Korea, and other national and international problems."

Fears exist that Chechen rebels have acquired nuclear warheads and/or weapons grade material or are actively seeking to do so. Given their willingness to strike all the local headquarters of Russian security agencies in coordinated head-on attacks, this fear is justified. In the eyes of Shamil Basayev, how many of his men's lives are " worth " a one megaton warhead ?

The odd aspect to this war, as some other experts rightly point out, is the utter alien nature of terrorist Islamism to the Chechens who historically practice a localized brand of loose Islamic faith with social mores dominated by the code of Adat, not the Sharia. Indeed there is considerable evidence that the ultra-violent Shamil Basayev, the ex-communist, ex-nationalist turned Islamist, may exhibit piety more for the financial support of wealthy Gulf extremists than anything else. There is also no evidence that the Chechens, while loathing Putin, evince any desire to give up their clan-based culture for some kind of artificially constructed neo-Taliban puritanism.

Were it not for the inept and brutal policies of the Russians themselves, Basayev's men would probably meet up with a much more hostile climate in the mountain villages.

"I believe that this is precisely because we have developed a highly successful model of integration which enables people of all backgrounds and faiths to prosper and live together within the safeguard of common values. Our society is itself an affront, and a reproach, to the ideologues who believe that only their way of living life is the right one.

And make no mistake: The threat we face is ideological. It is not driven by poverty, or by social exclusion, or by racial hatred. Those who attacked London in July, those who have been engaged in terrorist networks elsewhere in the world, and those who attacked New York in 2001 were not the poor and dispossessed. They were, for the most part, well educated and prosperous. In the case of terrorists in the UK, they have also been ethnically and nationally diverse.

What drives these people on is ideas. And, unlike the liberation movements of the post-World War II era, these are not political ideas like national independence from colonial rule, or equality for all citizens without regard for race or creed, or freedom of expression without totalitarian repression. Such ambitions are, at least in principle, negotiable and in many cases have actually been negotiated.

However, there can be no negotiation about the re-creation of the Caliphate; there can be no negotiation about the imposition of Sharia law; there can be no negotiation about the suppression of equality between the sexes; there can be no negotiation about the ending of free speech. These values are fundamental to our civilization and are simply not up for negotiation."

- The Rt. Hon. Charles Clarke, M.P. Home Secretary of the United Kingdom

The power of moral and intellectual clarity combined with actual mastery of the English language, you can read the whole thing here.

Now many of our top officials are just as smart and sometimes better educated than their British counterparts, so why do our officials come off sounding more like the president of the Akron, Ohio All-City Bowling League ?
Friday, October 21, 2005

Eddie at Live from The FDNF forsees big changes coming for the fleet, changes inspired by the the PNM theory of Dr. Thomas Barnett. An excerpt:

"As the USMC (United States Marine Corps) has largely become a separate entity (you’re more likely to see a Marine jet squadron onboard an aircraft carrier than you are a Marine standing the once traditional role of a sentry on the ship) from the US Navy, the Navy’s new CNO,Admiral Mullen, has decided to return the service to its “go-ashore” essence with a daring plan to establish a naval infantry. While details are not yet fully available, theExpeditionary Combat Battalionwill likely consist of infantry elements that can project power ashore and support forces (like hospital corpsmen) that back them up. There are other interesting proposals floating around to go along with this; like a civil affairs augment to Seabee battalions, special warfare combat helicopter squadrons and extensive foreign language training for some if not most of the ECG forces.

...Admiral Mullen must have read “Pentagon’s New Map”, as he’s incorporating PNM related ideas into his new strategy for the Fleet with this Leviathan/Sys Admin force in the making. The “Leviathan” force, the ECG, can go ashore and launch raids (like punitive expeditions or counterterrorism operations) or incorporate the use of lethal force to stabilize the situation (like in a war-ravaged coastal city in a place like Liberia, Indonesia or Mexico) to prepare for the deployment of the larger Sys Admin force (corpsmen, Seabees, logistics types (SKs-storekeepers), master at arms (the military police of the Navy) to begin humanitarian aid or short-term peacekeeping. The scope of the Navy’s operations overseas in the future will increasingly call for a Navy that is able to conduct brown-water ops (requiring vessels capable of traversing coastal waterways with relative ease as well as on occasion certain in-land waterways) as well as ashore operations. "

An excellent and timely post.

The U.S. Navy has a mixed record, historically speaking, entering into such operations which occurred often in the 19th century as commanders on the scene improvised with ad hoc expeditionary uses of sailors in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The caveat of course was that these were spontaneous reactions to circumstances and that the sailors were being used for a kind of warfare for which they had not been trained.

The WWII Seabees, of course, were often almost as formidible at combat as they were at engineering ( or doing both simultaneously). They were never crack combat units but " tough" is not inaccurate as a descriptor.

This will be interesting to see if these Navy proposals shape up to run with or against the " Jointness" philosophy.
Thursday, October 20, 2005

Distracted by a project in the works today that ultimately I think will please Zenpundit readers a great deal but it is still in the formative stage. Therefore, let the recommendations begin:

Dan of tdaxp, on his second grad degree, is being inundated by all kinds of academic, au courant, rad-crit theorizing. Never fear for Dan being unmasked by the Big Cheese however, as he knows how to walk without rhythm.

Homer Simpson as a Sheikh ?

Lord Curzon at Coming Anarchy discusses Ninjas in the Congo.

Horizontal thinkers may be biologically more efficient

That's it !
Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It is with great pleasure that I draw your attention to the review of Colonel Thomas X. Hammes widely acclaimed The Sling and The Stone by Sam Crane, a professional academic who can be found at The Useless Tree, a blog devoted to looking at the world through the eyes of classical Chinese philosophy. An excerpt:

"I won't explicate the text any further. As they say: read the whole thing. Rather, I want to turn this toward Sun Tzu.

Hammes points out that Maoist guerrilla tactics are especially well suited to 21st century, networked, fourth generation war. It is all about flexibly responding to the adversaries condition in pursuit of political goals. The famous Maoist dictum goes something like this:

When the enemy advances, we retreat
When the enemy rests, we harass
When the enemy tires, we attack
When the enemy withdraws, we pursue

Classic guerrilla tactics that are obviously being used by Taliban remnants (revivalists?) in Afghanistan, the Iraqi insurgency, and al-Qaeda. They do not frontally attack US military power, but work around the margins, picking the time and location of their assaults to make the political point that they are still functioning and effective.

Mao was obviously influenced by Sun Tzu, whom he read, and especially the following passages:

All warfare is based on deception.
Therefore, when capable, feign incapacity; when active,
When near, make it appear that you are far away; when far
away, that you are near.
Offer the enemy a bait to lure him; feign disorder and strike
When he concentrates, prepare against him; where he is
strong, avoid him.
(Griffin, 66-67)

There is another important connection between Hammes's fourth generation warfare and Sun Tzu: the importance of the political goal. Hammes argues that conflicts like the current Iraqi insurgency (which he believes we should have seen coming and should have prepared for more effectively) are all about politics. They do not need to win on the battlefield but just not lose, to stay in the fight to draw attention to the American occupation and inflame the public against the US and the current government. At times the US plays right into this strategy by emphasizing military responses over political perceptions. The recent bombing of Ramadi, for example, does not advance US political goals in Iraq. Military force has to be disciplined more tightly to shape the political context. In this sense, we should not respond to the enemy's tactics, but try to undermine his strategy. Which is just what Sun Tzu said:

For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.Thus what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.'

It is unsurprising that Sam found resonance between The Sling and The Stone and SunTzu as 4GW theory is rooted in the ideas of Colonel John Boyd, the genius fighter pilot and military theorist who was in turn deeply influenced by Sun Tzu. ( Incidently, DNI recently ran a stellar interview with Martin van Creveld commenting on Sun Tzu and von Clausewitz). I have found a similar resonance while reading Unrestricted Warfare, in comparison a somewhat mediocre treatise but one punctuated with bursts of strategic insights that make the 228 pages worth wading through.

Sam's take was of particular interest to me because unlike most of us he has more than a mere passing familiarity with The Art of War. All 4GW conflicts have their origin in faulty or inept statesmanship and in remedying that it is helpful to refresh ourselves with Sun Tzu, the consumate statesman of all times.

Details are sketchy but some American soldiers are being accused today of having violated the Geneva Convention in Afghanistan by having desecrated the bodies of enemy combatants. While mutilation of the enemy dead is traditionally considered a provocative act in military history, the issue is of particular sensitivity among Muslims because Islam, like Judaism, has specific and strict religious rules regarding the burial of the dead.

CENTCOM in Afghanistan and at HQ has taken a very hard line on this incident, pro-actively reaching out to the press to announce the criminal investigation and the serious nature of the charges:


Afghanistan - The Army Criminal Investigation Division has initiated an investigation into alleged misconduct by U.S. service members, including the burning of dead enemy combatant bodies under inappropriate circumstances."This command takes all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behavior seriously and has directed an investigation into circumstances surrounding this allegation," said Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, Combined Joint Task Force-76 Commander. "If the allegation is substantiated, the appropriate course of action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and corrective action will be taken." Service members are expected to abide by the highest standards of behavior and the law, he said. "This command does not condone the mistreatment of enemy combatants or the desecration of their religious and cultural beliefs," Kamiya said. "This alleged action is repugnant to our common values, is contrary to our commands approved tactical operating procedures, and is not sanctioned by this command. Our efforts to thoroughly investigate this allegation are a reflection of our commitment to the Government of Afghanistan and the Afghan people."

American intervention in Afghanistan has by and large been far more successful than in Iraq in part because, relatively speaking, the " footprint" has always been light. Moreover, the light presence was combined with serious and ongoing attempts to win over Afghans of all ethnic, tribal and sectarian backgrounds including Pushtun Deobandis, most of whom ( though by no means all) were once the core supporters of the Taliban. Public desecration of dead Afghans or even foreign Muslims by U.S. troops is less than helpful in that regard and escalates the risk for all American personnel. The original jihad against the Communist government in Kabul that resulted in the Soviet invasion in 1979 and the ten year war was triggered by Parcham-Khalq Marxist secret police goons going into the villages and roughing up the local mullahs and generally stomping on the religious sensibilities of rural Afghans.

Quick action by American authorities, as commanders seem to be taking, is more likely to defuse the situation and avoid handing al Qaida and Taliban die-hards a propaganda coup.

Massive computer crash today. IT had to rebuild it, hence my inactivity. More later after I catch up on everything I could not do in the interim.....
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Marc Schulman of The American Future gives a good fisking to the pro-democracy but anti-globalization openDemocracy editors Anthony Barnett and Isabel Hilton:

"This is where their analysis falls short. Granted, departures from democratic practices aren’t helpful to the anti-terrorist cause. But Barnett and Hilton fail to mention the helpful effects of bringing democratic practices — e.g., the referendum on the Iraq constitution — to people who have never before experienced them. The presumptively negative effects of the former must be weighed against the decidely positive effects of the latter. This the authors do not do."

I have to add that there is a definite incongruity between advocating political freedom to make choices in terms of one's government while wanting to preclude or restrict the economic freedom to make choices in every other area of one's life - work, lifestyle, access to information, travel, religion and culture. Denying people the latter ultimately makes a mockery of the former; a farmer chained in perpetuity behind his water buffalo by the state casts a ballot only to decide which hand is going to hold the whip over his head.

" In the general course of human nature, A power over a man's subsistence amounts to a power over his will. "

- Alexander Hamilton

Collounsbury called my attention to this article by The Washington Post on how the State Department has institutionalized incentives that mitigate against Foreign Service Officers developing real in-country Arabist expertise ( if any FSO's become experts that is in spite of, not because of, official procedures). An excerpt, first the short version of the problem at State:

" This is barrier number three: Foreign Service officers see few incentives to advance to high levels of Arabic language competence. There is no financial or career reward for qualifying at the higher levels. Moreover, to the extent that the time involved in language study detracts from diplomatic job responsibilities, the commitment to achieve near-fluency could even be a career-stopper."

Now the lengthy excerpt that reveals the bureaucratic mind at its finest:

"To understand why requires a safari into the bureaucratic undergrowth, so grab your machete. The Foreign Service classifies language ability into five levels, with "1" being the lowest (able to handle only the very simplest social situations) and "5" the highest (a level rarely assigned to anyone but a native speaker).

From a public diplomacy standpoint, the key distinction is between a "3" and a "4." We have a fairly good supply of 3's in Arabic, almost 200 as of August 2004 (the latest State Department data available). A level 3 can handle one-on-one situations, or something like a ministry meeting in a subject area they know well. But a level 3 speaker would flounder in a complex situation. If you put a 3 in a public meeting where many excited people are speaking on top of one another, for example, or in a coffee shop conversation with college students arguing about religion and the state, he or she would be lost. Double the difficulty if the diplomat has been trained only in Modern Standard Arabic, a formal dialect very different from the colloquial dialects that people actually speak (see sidebar). But these are precisely the kinds of situations that our Middle East diplomats must be equipped to handle.

Speaking, moreover, is generally harder than listening. No responsible person would ask a 3 to speak before an unfriendly crowd at the local university (or at the embassy gates), much less put a 3 in front of a television camera and expect a clear, engaging and cogent discussion of U.S. Middle East policy in Arabic. For that you need a 4, and preferably a 4+ or a 5. So how many of these 4 and 5 level speakers do we have in Arabic? As of August 2004 -- 27. At the highest levels (4+ and 5), we have a grand total of eight individuals worldwide.

This little band cannot possibly cover our need to understand and be understood across 21 embassies and consulates in a region with a population approaching 300 million people, and one, moreover, with very different dialects from east to west. Given that some of our Arabic speakers are inevitably on rotation in Washington or even assigned outside the region, our 27 most fluent Arabic-speaking diplomats equate to barely one per post.

...So how about option No. 2, turning more 3's into 4's? The State Department has a world-famous language training program, the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), staffed by highly trained professionals. Anyone who has reached a 3 in Arabic can get to a 4 with determined study. Even a 2 has a good base to build on.

Unfortunately, current policies for language training make it all but impossible to turn 3's into 4's. Upgrading our roster of Arabic speakers would require getting around three obstacles.

First, traditional language training, based on sending officers to full-time language study for extended periods, is expensive. Since Arabic is a difficult language, the FSI figures it takes two years of full-time training to get a committed learner from a simple greeting of " Salaam aleikum" to level 3.

The State Department has made a significant commitment to expanding language training, nonetheless. Enrollments in Arabic and other challenging regional languages such as Farsi and Uzbek increased more than 80 percent from 2003 to 2004, from 228 officers to 415. Training averaged only a couple of months per person, though -- pretty basic stuff delivered in a hurry for most of the participants, in other words.

But there's a second stopper. FSI is not really sure how much training it would take to get from a 3 to a 4 in any case, because FSI stops training at 3.

Training goes only to officers assigned to "language-designated" positions -- slots that have been officially determined to require language skills. Thus, a diplomat assigned to Washington cannot get advanced Arabic training until he or she is actually assigned to a language-designated job overseas. And then there's no time to build real competency. This set-up creates a strong disincentive to designate positions as requiring language skills. No embassy wants to restrict its search to the comparatively few officers already qualified in Arabic or, even worse, effectively give up the position for the two years required to train an officer to a level 3 -- and carry them on its budget the whole time they sit in language classes.

So no posts are designated above level 3, which means, naturally, that the Foreign Service does not offer training beyond the 3, either. If 3's want additional language training to improve their skills to a 4, they have to do it on their own time and their own nickel. (The Foreign Service Institute has a pilot "Beyond 3" program, but it had a mere two people in it as of the latest report.)"

Eight highly qualified Arabists. Jesus Christ ! If that is the state of FSO Arabic fluency with 22 countries using Arabic as their lingua franca how many Urdu, Pashto and Farsi speakers do we have ? Two ? No wonder we can't penetrate the Iraqi insurgency or sell our foreign policy - our diplomatic corps barely has the linguistic wherewithal to stop at a gas station in Petra and ask for directions.

In case you believe that the article may be overstating things, here's another view from a retired USG Arabist and analyst who participates on the Small Wars Council discussion board:

"Most outsiders have a very distorted view of how State selects, trains, and assigns personnel to the embassies. As a youngster FAO relatively fresh from DLI Arabic, I went to Sudan as a FAO traiinee. I had zero Sudanese Arabic training and had done a year in Turkey and 6 months in French training before arriving in Khartoum. That said, I found aside from certain individuals like the Ambassador, my Arabic was better than most. The Defense Attache who had gone to State langauage school and claimed a higher pro score than me was basically a "helllo, good morning, goodbye" level speaker. So this does not surprise me.

Even when the language skills are there, embassies are not necessarily keyed into what is really happening around them. Ambassadors set the tone. Too many embassies are viewed as plums because they offer the most pay (COLA, hardship, danger) and you get youngsters sent there to get their feet wet or the "old hands" who stay and stay so their retirement pay gets maxed. The youngsters don't know how to operate and they mimic what happens among the "old hands. Other embassies get out and see what is happening beyond the "salle d'honneur" at the Foreign Ministry; they actually have a pulse on
events. "


Why then do things not change for the better? Yes, particularly after 9/11 but international incidents originating in the ME did not begin in 2001; we have decades of neglet here. Why ?

The explanation in my view is twofold: political and bureaucratic.

Politicians in the Executive Branch have zero incentive to invest political capital in reforming the State Department. The public isn't interested in the minutia of Foggy Bottom and barely attends to the broadest outline of foreign policy, absent a presidential election or a military attack. If a President can get the key appointees confirmed, create a few new " sexy" positions to deal with the crisis du jour and keep State from leaking to the press every five minutes that's about as far as management priorities go for the average administration.

Politicians in the Legislative Branch also lack any positive incentives to reform State for the same reasons. Congressmen can also gain mileage with the local papers back home by beating up on State's "wasteful" foreign aid and dragging ambassadors and deputy assistant secretaries into hearings that revolve around appeasing single-issue zealots. Thirdly, Congressional staffers and State's mandarins have a cozy relationship that both use to their advantage to undermine presidential policies in foreign relations ( not just George W. Bush, any president of either party).

The bureaucratic explanation is even simpler. State's highest level career officials, by and large, like the system as it is. They are its products and given human nature, the leaders of long-established institutions are seldom revolutionaries. Or even reformers. Experienced players know how to game the system to transfer from post to post in a career-enhancing way. Tying advancement to regional depth would keep some hyperactive hotshots out of the action or preclude some from getting " easy", low-risk, postings. Career trajectories would be at the mercy of world events and shifting national interest.

This is why the unipolar hyperpower of the globalized, information age, 21st century crafts and executes a foreign policy with a department that had its last complete overhaul in the age of the Model T.

I'm getting a lot of enjoyment as well as finding interesting and insightful material over at The Small Wars Council Discussion Board sponsored by The Small Wars Journal. Many of the members are current or former military personnel or who like Major Adam Strickland or Myke Cole, write for publication. ( I've recommended articles from both gentlemen in the past - Strickland, as an aside, also had a vigorous Letter to the Editor in this month's The Atlantic). The interest at SWC ranges from operational methods in combat to the intersection of intelligence, policy, culture, history and languages in what Dr. Barnett would call Sys Admin deployments.

Some of the members have blogs or websites as well. For your perusal:

Hans News and Politics

Pen & Sword

Professional Soldiers

The Word Unheard

Prarie Pundit

Check them out !
Monday, October 17, 2005

The internet and the blogosphere have been a tremendous boon to liberty, permitting real-time information flows across the globe, increasing transparency and empowering the average citizen to speak out or even acquire real influence on the public issues of the day. The effects have sat poorly among some members of the elite, particularly in government and at major MSM institutions who enjoyed a preponderant influence in shaping opinion and setting the bounds of public discourse. Even at times dispensing disinformation with impunity.

Some of these folks would like that power back. They range from foreign governments that oppress their own citizens to MSM airheads who cannot stand the fact-checking and mockery from the common herd. They want to raise the barriers to entry again to circumscribe who can be heard.

Bruce Kesler has an excellent round-up of these would-be Oligarchs of Information in the Augusta Free Press:

"Return to pre-Internet journalism?

Guest View

Bruce Kesler

The Augusta Free Press

There are foreign and domestic movements afoot that may return journalism to its pre-Internet closedness. One would move control of the Internet to that bastion of freedom - for petty despots, that is - at the United Nations. The other would give the U.S. government the power to, in effect, license journalists.

Whether you are on the political left or right, or more likely just a news consumer who wants fuller information than provided by the mass media of your newspaper or TV network, your right to hear freedom of speech is at risk.

If not for the Internet's openness, you would probably not have heard about many criticisms of the government, its programs or leading political figures, or just have heard what certain media or political elites choose for you to hear. They may like that insulation from the light of truth. Would you?

It is only due to the Internet that opposing views may ever get heard - as in the Vietnam veterans' rebellion against John Kerry's false presentation of himself. It is only due to the Internet that the self-serving conduct by politicians gets unearthed, and they embarrassed, so quickly - as in the spending spree by the Republican Congress in the so-called Transportation Bill. It is only due to the Internet that the abuses of sanctimonious leading journalists gets exposed - as in Dan Rather's attempt to affect the 2004 election with false Bush military-service documents, or the hysteric misreporting of the causes and effects of Hurricane Katrina's impact.

If that's the situation in the United States, imagine what the Internet has meant to the struggle for freedom among those in China or Iran or Cuba or the kleptocracies in Africa. It's virtually the only way the oppressed have to get real news from outside, to break out of the solitary confinement imposed by their governments to become members of a global civilized society, to get out truth to their people, and to unleash the worst fear of their rulers - international opinion - and bring approbation on their depravities.

I wrote about one of the threats to the Internet, "U.S. versus E.U., China, Cuba, Iran on Internet Control":

"Let's hope John Bolton can scuttle this one. At the World Summit on the Information Society, the European Union has lined up with such stalwarts of smothering internet freedom as China, Cuba, Iran and several African states (in name only, these tribal kleptocracies) to carry to the U.N. their effort to take control of the Internet. ... (According to) Internet authority Milton Mueller: 'It's not clear to me that governments know what to do about anything at this stage apart from get in the way of things that other people do.' Like freedom of speech. This issue, this outrageous putsch attempt, deserves an uproar, heard around the world on the Internet." www.democracy-project.com/archives/001913.html.

Another blogger goes into much depth, including this key economic point: "It is on the basis of that 'full faith and confidence' in the system (of hands-off, efficient administration of the Internet by U.S. agencies) that vast information flows, often transacted by companies worth many billions of dollars, can occur on a routine basis." http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2005/10/battle-for-internet.html.

In another column, I wrote about the "Summit to Suppress Internet Freedom." Quoted is another important point. "Surrendering the Internet might also increase America's vulnerability to on-line security threats. It could be difficult to guard against cyber-terrorism or to pursue terrorists on-line. If the Internet were under the supervision of a body unsure of what terrorism is, but quite sure that it does not like the United States." www.democracy-project.com/archives/001894.html.

European bureaucrats in the mold of France's Chirac or now former-chancellor Schroeder fantasize that they can act out their faded glory by tearing down the U.S., regardless of its consequences on world order, security or prosperity, not to mention the stagnation of their own economies. The former Swedish prime minister, Carl Bildt (quoted at the above Belmont link), politely demurs: "It seems as if the European position has been hijacked by officials that have been driven by interests that should not be ours." Indeed, the interests, which are associated with the world's oppressors.

There are those in the United States who shamelessly profiteer at the expense of the oppressed. I wrote elsewhere that "Bubba Yahoos for yen, and doesn't 'feel your pain' " about former President Clinton's huge fee to speak at the 2005 China Internet Summit celebrating Yahoo's $1 billion investment there, but his failure to mention that Yahoo!, like Google, Cisco and Microsoft, have profited by aiding the Chinese rulers find, and imprison, Internet dissidents. www.democracy-project.com/archives/001848.html.

Human Rights Watch blisters such profiteering at the expense of suppressing freedom. "When companies like Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google decide to put profits from their Chinese operations over the free exchange of information, they are helping to kill that dream." www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/HRW/d04f251c81860f30ccd515681ee41ab9.htm.

Closer to home, and just as much to be feared and condemned, is the move to, in effect, have the federal government license journalists and free speech.

Ryan Sager writes of the "Cybercrackdown" in The New York Post: "These folks, the ones who fought so hard for the McCain-Feingold law, believe that political speech on the Internet threatens the purged-of-money paradise they think they've created in the non-digital world - and they're willing to squelch the speech of every blogger in the land in their quest to tame the cyber-Wild West."

Sager continues: "The FEC (Federal Elections Commission) has ruled that big-media companies ... enjoy what's called a 'press exemption' from McCain-Feingold - allowing them to support or attack candidates without being prosecuted for making illegal corporate campaign contributions. But it has yet to grant any such protection to blogs and other Web sites not considered part of the traditional media. The 'cleanies' want to make sure they never get it. Thus, the country's leading campaign-finance-reform groups ... all recipients of millions of dollars from left-wing foundations - are lining up." www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/53480.htm.

The blog of former FEC attorney, Allison Hayward, is invaluable to tracking the twists and turns of this battle for freedom of speech, another example of how blogs are essential to pierce the miasma of government. (www.skepticseye.com) Ms. Hayward led me to this editorial in the Washington Times about "Suffocating the First Amendment."

The editorial quotes a leading blogger testifying before Congress: "Bloggers don't have influence because they start with large chunks of capital - in fact, most if not all start out as relatively lonely voices with tiny audiences. By delivering credible, interesting and valuable content, their audience and influence grows over time."

The editorial concludes: "In other words, blogging is an endeavor subject to the rules of the free market. Inside this unbridled exercise in free speech, the good rise to the top, while the hacks and frauds go ignored or quickly disappear ... applying McCain-Feingold to the Internet, even if diluted to protect bloggers, would mean that only millionnaires ... or those funded by them, could afford to start a blog. Everyone else, like those who pay nothing for a site at Blogger.com, would have to have some way of knowing if their blogging is violating the briar patch of campaign-finance laws which only lawyers know how to navigate." http://washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20051011-092709-1577r.htm.

On another front, establishment Sen. Richard Lugar has introduced a bill to provide a federal shield to journalists from having to reveal their sources. Most states have similar laws. However, federal courts are able to compel testimony in high crimes and national security cases. U.S. courts have not abused this ability, and the rights of U.S. citizens to their elemental safety does trump that of journalists to unrestrained anonymity of sources in exceptional cases.

Sen. Lugar's bill excludes bloggers from this federal shield, defining journalists as only those operating in the old ways of the mass media. Sen. Lugar admits "this is a special boon for reporters." However, as industry tradepaper Editor & Publisher observes, "some journalists oppose the popular federal shield proposal ... (because of) fear that giving Congress the power to define who is and isn't a journalist could lead effectively to the licensing of journalists." www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001263585.

Another blogger journalist, Roger Simon, points out that such as conservative Michael Barone and liberal David Corn publish in established magazines and also maintain widely read, influential blogs. Which of their reports are to be exempt? Simon asks, "Are they protected by the shield law when they are writing, say, for The Los Angeles Times, but not when they blog? Confusing, isn't it?" www.rogerlsimon.com/mt-archives/2005/10/lugar_luddite.php.

The Internet news report at CNET raises some other complications in interpreting such legislated definitions. (http://news.com.com/2061-10796_3-5892666.html) It is not possible for even the best of intentioned or best skilled government lawyer to accomplish other than enriching other lawyers at the cost of independent citizens.

The net result (pun intended) of these government attempts would place the freedom of speech of Internet bloggers outside the law, effectively outlawing bloggers and your right to know. Wouldn't that make our politicians more comfortable in their gerrymandered districts? Wouldn't that make other nations' rulers more comfortable in their tyrannies? Undue restrictions on freedom of speech serves imperious rulers, not citizens or democracy."

The admirable vigilance of Mr. Kesler is the price of liberty. We need to watch our Congressmen closely. Republican or Democrat, both kinds of elected officials are by definition insiders. Some of whom have forgotten where they came from and why they are there.

Posted by Picasa

Today a number of blogs are calling attention to the ongoing suffering in Dar Fur which has already claimed approximately 70,000 lives at the hands of the Janjaweed militia, a force so rag-tag in its military capabilities that they make Mladic's drunken Bosnian Serb paramilitaries look like Rommel's panzer divisions. Some estimates of this crisis:

Freedom House

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International


Dar Fur Information Center

The U.S. State Department



Additionally, Eddie at Live from the FDNF is hosting a Spotlight on Dar Fur 2.

The atrocities in Sudan are not too large, too remote or too dangerous to be dealt with by the great powers. Indeed, the problem is that the suffering is perceived by statesmen as being marginal and tolerable compared to the costs of doing something.

Public pressure can change that.
Sunday, October 16, 2005

On Open Source Warfare and the Core, helpfully reposted by Critt.

En route to researching something unrelated I stumbled across this gem today:

"Yes, absolutely, I worry about a democracy having nuclear weapons as much as a dictatorship having nuclear weapons"

- Mohammed ElBareidei, New York Times Magazine, March 2, 2003.

Well now. I think in principle you could easily translate such sentiments to this:

"Yes, absolutely, I worry about a policeman having a handgun as much as a gangbanger having a handgun".

I've noticed that the blogosphere, or at least the part I find worth reading, tends to produce high quality postings in bursts ( pulses ? ) with peaks and valleys in terms of both quality and quantity. It's been pretty good these last few days and I had trouble paring this list down to something readers will find manageable:

Eddie at Live from the FDNF reviews Ralph Peters book New Glory.

Simon at Simon World on " What Part of East Asia is Important?"

Sean Meade at Interact has a post that includes both Star Wars: Clone Wars and Newt Gingrich running for President

Coming Anarchy, one of my perennial favorites, sees Younghusband on Sherman Kent, one of the fathers of the CIA and Chirol expounding on Isolationism.

Chester liveblogged the Iraqi vote. The man is committed !

Dr. Michael Scheuer in On Point on " Al Qaida and the Jihad Without Bin Laden".

Earl at Prometheus6, has good news for all those bloggers suffering the heartbreak of comment spam

Curtis at Phatic Communion mixes biowarfare, Islamist terror and Game Theory .

That's it !
Saturday, October 15, 2005

It is great fun for me to see two brilliant minds clash. And I saw this one coming. :o)

John Robb of Global Guerillas has an op-ed in the New York Times ( you have " arrived" as a pundit when you get your NYT op-ed) that forecasts an El Salvadorized exit of American forces from Iraq:

"Given this landscape, let's look at alternative strategies. First, out-innovating the insurgency will most likely prove unsuccessful. The insurgency uses an open-source community approach (similar to the decentralized development process now prevalent in the software industry) to warfare that is extremely quick and innovative. New technologies and tactics move rapidly from one end of the insurgency to the other, aided by Iraq's relatively advanced communications and transportation grid - demonstrated by the rapid increases in the sophistication of the insurgents' homemade bombs. This implies that the insurgency's innovation cycles are faster than the American military's slower bureaucratic processes (for example: its inability to deliver sufficient body and vehicle armor to our troops in Iraq).

...What's left? It's possible, as Microsoft has found, that there is no good monopolistic solution to a mature open-source effort. In that case, the United States might be better off adopting I.B.M.'s embrace of open source. This solution would require renouncing the state's monopoly on violence by using Shiite and Kurdish militias as a counterinsurgency. This is similar to the strategy used to halt the insurgencies in El Salvador in the 1980's and Colombia in the 1990's. In those cases, these militias used local knowledge, unconstrained tactics and high levels of motivation to defeat insurgents (this is in contrast to the ineffectiveness of Iraq's paycheck military). This option will probably work in Iraq too. "

I can't be too hard on Robb here because, frankly, I foresaw the same " controlled civil war" possibility ten months ago. On the other hand, Robb may be getting more than a little carried away by following up on his op-ed by predicting that Iraq will then yield a Global 1980's Lebanon. More as to why in a moment.

Dr. Barnett caught Robb's editorial today and has offered a serious rebuttal on his blog:

"Remember, super-empowered individuals can rule vertical scenarios temporarily, but it takes states, and all their resources, to rule horizonatal ones. In short, don't confuse disruption capacity with rule-making capacity. To believe the former rules all is to engage in what that battle-tested revolutionary, V.I. Lenin, called the child-like belief that the right bomb in the right place at the right time changes everything. Modeling ourselves on OBL's and Al Qaeda's infantilism isn't the answer. Building the bigger open-source net is. This is my A-to-Z rule set on processing politically bankrupt states.

Creating better rules is how we win. By doing so we attract good citizens and good states, slowly but surely. Killing symmetrically is gratifying, but ultimately pointless. Reformatting their world so that their cause dies is the real victory. Not a matter of making it like our own, but simply making it connective in a deep sense with the outside world, so that individuals can choose their level of connectivity no matter what the authorities say or do.

So I say, bet on numbers. Bet on bigger networks. Bet on growing the Core and, by doing so, restricting the enemy's operating domain."

There are major divergences in perspective between these two theorists beyond a simple classic pessimist vs. an optmist.

Robb is arguing that the operative Rule-set within the battlespace that is Iraq ( actually everywhere) has changed to our disadvantage and that of all nation-states. He is also an "Entropist" - Robb along with other key 4GW thinkers like William Lind are betting their chips that the global system is increasingly suffering effects under the Law of Entropy and is winding down. Agents of centrifugal disintegration and systemic disruption are thus superempowered because their efforts are in sync with the general momentum of the times. The wind is at bin Laden's back, as it were.

Barnett is arguing that the Rule-set within the battlespace is totally irrelevant; what matters is the power and legitimacy to write the Rule-sets that shape and determine the battlespace. In other words, al Qaida might attack on ground of their own choosing but we can ultimately determine what ground matters and al Qaida cannot. Moreover, Barnett is an
" Evolutionist" - he's betting on the Darwinian nonzero sum outcomes that undergird the formation and perpetuation of complex systems .

The larger the scale the less valid becomes Robb's argument because the battlespace ( Iraq, Chechnya, Colombia, wherever) will resemble less and less a closed system that would permit progression to complete breakdown. Human beings are social and economic creatures, they bias their actions toward aggregating added value. In terms of market conclusions, the larger the crowd, the wiser it is.

Globalization trumps guerillas.


John Robb rebuts Dr. Barnett's rebuttal. Disputes holding pessimistic views, aligns with Thomas Friedman's " Flat world". An excerpt:

"Our dispute is solely on how we get there. It isn't a contest of light (light) and dark (pessimistic) views. We are both optimistic about the future...

...This viewpoint translates into our approach to solutions. He's sees Iraq as a non-attempt at state-sponsored nation-building and I see it as the best attempt that this approach could muster."

Go read the whole thing at Global Guerillas.
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