Wednesday, November 30, 2005

" A military leader is accustomed to giving orders and getting them carried out. He has no political, legislative or business experience. He's an American hero elected in a democratic election and treading on new fields. He'll need help. Remember that we are Americans first and Democrats second.

Remember, any jackass can kick over a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one"

- Sam Rayburn ( D-Tx) 1953, speaking to House Democrats about the
newly inaugurated President, Dwight Eisenhower.

Can you imagine a party leader in Congress today saying such a thing about a president who was from the other political party ? I think Nancy Pelosi might prefer to see her tongue turn to sand.

Incidentally, the voters rewarded Rayburn's constructive engagement strategy in 1956 by returning the Democratic Party to a majority in the House of Representatives and Rayburn to the Speakership, which " Mr. Sam" held until his death in 1961.

Compare that to the electoral records of the House Republicans and Democrats when they employed " scorched earth" political tactics against Clinton and Bush. You take care of your wingnut base by by throwing it red meat at the times when doing so causes the party no harm; you don't let the base start dictating the feeding schedule.

The Republican base is standing on chairs and clanging tin cups on the table. The Democratic base has commandeered the kitchen and is now ransacking the refrigerator.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Marc Schulman of American Future has finished the second part to his series deconstructing the evolution of The New York Times on Iraq.

Highly recommended.

Only a short post for now as work is surging today - and blogging is my way of procrastinating . Actually, this post topic relates directly to my actual job, so strictly speaking, this still counts as " work" :o)

Several things have caught my eye that relate to one another, though not in an obvious way.

First, the esteemed Drs. Eide of The Neurolearning Blog drew my attention with this post to a set of online tests by Texas Tech University that are indicators for creativity. Take a few of them as they are short. I personally like giving people the nonverbal ones best because the results do not get hijacked by idiosyncratic linguistic habits intefering with comprehension

Secondly, Art Hutchinson the strategic thinking guru and founder of Cartegic Group has a post up on his Mapping Strategy blog on 'The Young Arab Leaders Conference' and Scenario Planning ( For more on the conference itself, go here. For the purpose and utility of scenario exercises, go here).

Art's comment on the Conference ( which incidentally is a good idea in my view) was as follows:

"Given the complexity of what's going on in the region right now (Iraq being only a part), it would be a shame if the scenarios they discuss are entirely focused on oil and gas. As a tool, scenarios are deeply embedded into the planning cultures of many oil and gas companies (Shell being the most well known.) Properly applied however, they're at least as powerful for strategic planners in other industries (including government) to holistically think through the interlocking issues (e.g., social, political, military, demographic, religious, constitutional, etc.) that the entire region is facing over the next few years. Oil and gas will be just a part of that picture - albeit a fairly big part."

I agree. Now I will add my two cents:

In getting the participants to engage in scenarios the facilitators are going to be bumping up against a political-cultural reinforcement of the powerful human tendency to become imprisoned in self-referential paradigms. All human cultural and organizational groups are affected by this tendency to varying degrees regardless of whether we are discussing Americans, corporate CEOs, Salafis, Lawyers, String theorists, members of organized crime, Episcopalian clergy - you name it, if a collective body is at all cohesive then over time " groupthink" emerges.

In the Arab world, you have authoritarian governmental systems, secular and religious ideologies like pan-Arabism, Anti-colonialism or Islamism and in some places the legacy of tribal societal rule-sets all converging to stifle the critical dialogue required to actually solve problems. The closest American equivalent to this effect - and it isn't a very good analogy except insofar as it too was reinforced by the possibility of private and state violence - was the issue of race and the color line in the Jim Crow South. Attempts at rational public discussion on a whole range of policy issues were either grotesqely distorted or stymied because they might call the precepts of segregation into question. As a consequence, the South remained the most economically undeveloped region of the United States until the 1970's when de jure segregation was dismantled.

Because the hot button issues in the Arab World are so numerous right now - Women's rights, Israel, free-market liberalization, democracy, Westernization - the scenario facilitators might gain the most productive results from devising depoliticized hypotheticals and concentrating on horizontal thinking solutions to systems-based problems that do not easily " fit" the shopworn but emotionally negative frames that block so much potential progress in the Mideast. If the Conference yields answers that can be expressed in a script that does not alert vested interests to mobilize to defend their broken status quo, then the ideas generated will have some chance, however slim, of being realized on the ground.

More on horizontal thinking:

"Ed DeBono " Lateral Thinking & Parallel Thinking"

" Think Horizontally and Vertically"

" Horizontal Learning"
Monday, November 28, 2005

John Robb of Global Guerillas gives an endorsement to, and a sneak peak at, Philip Bobbitt's yet to be released book, War Against Terror ( John has it :" Terror, Can We Win This War" and Amazon also lists it as just plain " Terror" - so, the lack of a single working title indicates that we are getting a look fairly early into the publishing process - cool !). Here's an excerpt from Robb's post (Bobbitt quote is in italics):

" '...Whereas the nation-state based its legitimacy on a promise to better the material well-being of the nation, the market-state promises to maximize the opportunity of each individual citizen. The current conflict is one of several possible wars of the market-states as they seek to open up societies to trade in commerce, ideas, and immigration which excite hostility in those groups that want to use law to enforce religious or ethnic orthodoxy. States make war, not brigands; and the Al Qaeda network is a sort of virtual state, with a consistent source of finance, a recognized hierarchy of officials, foreign alliances, an army, published laws, even a rudimentary welfare system...'

This is a very useful framework by which to view the current conflict. It is also a natural compliment to Global Guerrillas -- the rise of the virtual state, its new methods of warfare, and its impact on the world is a subject of my work here "

To echo the comments I left over at Global Guerillas, I much prefer Dr. Bobbitt's shift of emphasis to " Virtual-State" because:

a)It cuts to the heart of the conflict regarding globalization

b)"Virtual-State" as a term embraces a wide variety of non-state networks with starkly different motivations/aspirations in seeking to exercise state-like power ( Narco-State, Sharia-State, Tribal-State etc.)

c)It is an accurate structural/organizational descriptor of a networked entity.

My criticism from the other day has been pretty much rendered moot as Bobbitt is now articulating both the economic system conflict at the root of the war and the critical impact that scale free networks are having in globalization, warfare and politics.

Color me " impressed".

This post is more of a cultural question I'd like answered from someone in the know.

If you watch the film Braveheart and you see the Scots assembling at Stirling under William Wallace to fight the dastardly English, there are of course, bagpipes playing. Loud, cacophonous and brash - before the Scots ( after the inspiring speech by Mel Gibson, of course) in age-old Celtic style, adorned with blue paint, scream horrific insults at the English and work themselves into a barbaric frenzy.

Or if you are a fan of The History Channel you can't but help notice in their innumerable WWII documentaries the extent to which the Nazis resorted to music - Deutschland Uber Alles, The Horst Wessel Lied, Wagner, chanting or singing in unison, masses of drums or horns - to mobilize the spirit of Nazi and Wehrmacht formations right down to the rhythmic march of jackboots on pavement.

Traditional, American martial music is either religious - The Battle Hymn of The Republic - or John Philip Sousa - rousing, cheery and optimistic - or sonorous and lonely like Taps played at The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. However, it must be noted that since at least the invasion of Panama, psychological warfare against the enemy has involved the blasting of nonstop Rock music.

So, is there a deep cultural connection between how a nation makes music and how it makes war? Are the complex symphonies of the 18th century a reflection of the exquisitely disciplined field manuevers of Europe's small and highly-trained professional armies before the coming of the Levee en Masse ? Does music and warfare simply adapt to the spirit of the times ?

Or do they shape their time and each other as well ?


Some excellent comments - in particular this one by Curtis demands attention:

"...In fact, tones can also be used metrically or rhythmically in opposition or agreement to the meters and have a way of tying content to rhythms. How long a tone is held -- the length of the note in song or of the syllable in spoken languages -- can point at key ideas/themes. What is particularly interesting about this is the differentiation of languages: different languages use these musical structures differently. (Some are more tone-based, some are quantitative -- i.e., hold sounds for particular lengths -- etc.) So, from this perspective, different types of music might be deeply related to different languages and thus to different cultures. "

Any linguists care to comment ?

Also thanks to Younghusband for the link !
Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye set off a blogospheric dialogue on the prospect of withdrawing from Iraq - all thoughtful and considered arguments from the participants:

"Discussing Withdrawal From Iraq" by Dave Schuler

" Thoughts on Withdrawal" by Dan Darling at Winds Of Change

"Staying the Course and Paying for it" by Jeff Medcalf at Caerdroia

"The Political Reality of Troop Withdrawals" by McQ at QandO

"Biden, Democrats Ask The Wrong Questions" by Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters

Additional Related Links:

"The Controlled Chaos Exit From Iraq" by John Robb at Global Guerillas

"Iraqi Guerillas Make Key Demands of CIA at Cairo Conference" by Juan Cole at Informed Comment

My best forecast is that the United States will make a partial withdrawal from Iraq because the U.S military absolutely requires it at the current level of force structure, regardless of the situation in the Sunni Triangle. We'll probably do a mix of deal-cutting, unleashing of the loyalist paramilitaries and reducing to a heavy-duty " sledgehammer" force to hang in the background and support our Iraqi allies.

The post-Cold War demobilization that occurred during the Clinton and first Bush administration set a force level that was inadequate for the United States to carry out any of its presumed global responsibilities other than short-term MOOTW operations and bombing the hell out of some rogue state by air. Never mind fighting 2.5 or 1.5 wars at once, we're having grevious personnel rotation trouble with just one.

The mismatch of potential missions with the size of American ground forces is not accidental either but a deliberate policy of politicians from both parties who saw a pot of money in 1990 to use for other things but did not care to admit that slashing the Army from 18 to 12 active-duty divisions also meant changing our strategic expectations for using the Army. A policy of unreality cheerfully continued by the Bush administration for reasons both good ( force the Pentagon to transform) and bad ( it costs money without paying political dividends).

We forget that with an economy 25 % smaller in terms of GDP, the United States once easily afforded parking 300,000 troops in West Germany alone, a mere 15 years ago. So our current dilemma is a matter more of political choice than wallet but the problem cannot be fixed except over a period of several years, so we are left pretty much with employing the paramilitaries alongside an American counterinsurgency effort or giving up.

The loyalist paramilitaries are chomping at the bit, arguing that fire can only be fought with a fire that Washington does not have the stomach to do itself. They're probably correct - the insurgency can be defeated militarily ( or significantly degraded) but not without getting your hands dirty by slaughtering (or at least jailing) Sunni clansmen en masse until the insurgent networks collapse. It's a pragmatically ruthless tactic with a record of success in strangling guerilla armies that goes back to the Boer War, but it requires a Lord Kitchener type leader to carry it out and is exceedingly difficult to do and still look like you are the guy wearing a " white hat". (Though, perhaps if Zarqawi , whose Qaida Iraq group Juan Cole reports as being " fabulously wealthy", assists us by ramping up his own level of ghoulish atrocities, it isn't impossible).

President Bush, for good or ill, is no Lord Kitchener and even winning on the battlefield this way becomes meaningless unless America also wins in the "moral" and "political" spheres in Iraq. Indeed, the Boer war was won by Great Britain militarily, British " paramountcy" in the Cape was preserved by bringing the Afrikaaner states into the empire, but the political costs were very high. Arguably, the Boer War weakened Britain's hold over " the white dominions" and left the British Empire less willing or able to face up to looming strategic challenges, economic or military.

An outcome the United States cannot afford.
Saturday, November 26, 2005

The central hypothesis of Philip Bobbit't's The Shield of Achilles is that there has been an evolution in constitutional states driven by the dynamic interplay of law, strategy and history. Furthermore, accordng to Bobbitt, the era of the sovereign nation-state is passing away due to ( I reify here for brevity's sake):

1. The Moral Claim of Human Rights
2. Nuclear Weapon proliferation
3. Rise of global and transnational threats
4. Globalization of liberal capitalist economic model
5. Rise of the global communications network

Emerging is a new constitutional form that Bobbitt calls " The Market-State", dedicated to " maximizing the opportunities for its people". For a lengthier examination of The Shield of Achilles and the ideas of Bobbitt, check out Josh Manchester's post at The Adventures of Chester.

Using Bobbitt's definition, should the Old and New Core manage to harmonize their rule-sets on security and transactional effciency, the entire Core could be an incipent market-state. These market-states are seemingly purer, more open-dended network structures than nation-states as Bobbitt classifies the broader Islamist, jihadi, insurgency as a market-state:

"This network, of which Al Qaeda is only a part, greatly resembles a multinational corporation but that is simply to say that it is a market-state, made possible by advances in international telecommunications and transit, rapid computation and weapons of mass destruction." (p.820)

I have to disagree. While al Qaida and the greater Islamist-Salafi-Jihadi network of radicals and terrorists exist in this fluid, "market-state" form described by Bobbitt, the state is transient and tactical. It is quite clear from both by example and by public declarations that the Islamists have an entirely different and comprehensive alternative social contract in mind - The Sharia-State - which when they control territory they refer to as an " Emirate" or as a "Caliphate" ( the former exemplified by Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and the latter entity encompassing the entire future territorial extent of the Ummah).

A sharia-state would begin by rejecting outright the above points 1 and 4 as these secular concepts clash with longstanding interpretations of Islamic Law and the rulers would also be compelled ideologically to severely restrict the operation of point 5. In fact, all of this occurs already in sharia-influenced nation-states like Iran and Saudi Arabia so we need only extrapolate to imagine an al Qaida Arabia or a Jihadi Egypt. The sharia to hard-core salafis is meant not as a guide but a set of divine regulations - and substantially regulations of a political nature - though competing schools of Islamic jurisprudence differ on the meaning and extent of particular interpretations.

In other words, the fundamental preconditions for a market-state would be intolerable to a sharia-state making the latter a deadly 4GW rival of the former and not, as Bobbitt maintained, a variation.
Friday, November 25, 2005

DNI has brought up Martin van Creveld's Fate of The State several times lately. Reading that [ed. note: Actually I read it several times. It's worth pondering carefully] combined with recent discussions of the " Moral" dimension of warfare by John Robb, Philip Bobbitt and discussions here on resiliency and moral countermeasures have me thinking about the legitimacy of the American state. Why it has weakened. How to strengthen it, and so on. Inchoate thoughts at present, perhaps tomorrow will bring me some insight.

Also, I'm in an interesting discussion with Aaron over at tdaxp.

Dr. Demarche and Marc Schulman have joined forces.

Let the Eurosocialists beware their wrath.
Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Bush administration is rightly concerned with escalating levels of Chinese espionage against the United States, both military and economic. Particularly troublesome to U.S. officials is the focus of China's foreign intelligence service on recruiting overseas Chinese who hold American or third party national citizenship. The Chinese are quite aggressive and are already matching the efforts of the old Soviet and East bloc agencies at their peak.

That being said, espionage is a fact of life in international affairs and China's effort to "swarm" the United States with HUMINT agents is a partial redress for American superiority in SIGINT and IMINT over China. The best answer to China's efforts is the develppment of a robust, Sinocentric, counterintelligence capability in the American IC. Instead, quite counterproductively, there is a proposal to deal with this problem via a lazy, crude and immeasurably stupid policy of punishing all would-be scientists of Chinese ethnic origin by discouraging their immigration to the United States.

As any competent economist could explain, this proposal, if enacted, will cause 100 times the damage to the U.S. economy and scientific edge that the spies are doing without providing any corresponding national security benefit whatsoever - as China will simply pick up the same information secondhand in Canada, the UK, Australia, Israel, the EU and Japan. Yes, we will cause China's spooks some inconvenience and expense but the cost to America will be patents not filed, hard science PhDs not graduated, inventions not created and a reverse brain drain - the first in U.S. history- as the best scientists, including native born American ones, go abroad to do first-rate research.

Ironically, if this policy had been in place during WWII it would likely have been Germany that built the atomic bomb and not the United States, as so many critical physicists in the Manhattan Project were technically " enemy nationals". Blanket policies are no substitute for cultivating a a cadre of CI officers with the requisite language skills to do the interviews and investigations of suspected spies.

Getting " deep" language skills is a long term investment in personnel that the Pentagon and the IC would rather not spend any money on as they have " higher" bureaucratic priorities. So this proposal seeks to fool the Congress and public into believing the espionage problem is being addressed- we won't increase our competency, we'll just decrease the number of people who might be spies ! That'll work ! As if real spies won't have the patience to jump through the additional bureaucratic hoops to get a visa. Or the Chinese won't simply start recruiting white guys.

If there was ever the CI equivalent of the "Strategic Hamlet Policy" from the Vietnam War, this one is it.


Dave at The Glittering Eye has thoughts on China's Titan Rain PLA cyberespionage program.

More on Titan Rain - here, here and here.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dan of tdaxp has a graphics rich mini-magnum opus entitled " Globalization is Water: The Magic Cloud". In it Dan discusses ( and illustrates) the complex connections between:

The Magic Cloud
Fuzzy Logic
Clausewitzian Friction
Analogical Thinking
Tipping Points
Fundamentalism as a cognitive frame
Phase Dominance
Boydian strategy
PNM Theory
Dynamic vs. Static Modelling
Cognitive Theory
IR Theory
Horizontal Thinking

Dan left out the kitchen sink and Bayesian Probability analysis but that was about it :o)
Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The New York Times prides itself on being " the paper of record" for our nation. On foreign policy though their editorial record is not one of consistent principle - unless partisanship and historical amnesia constitute principles. Where the Times stands on a given issue depends a great deal on who is standing in the Oval Office. That is as true today for the Iraq War as much as it was yesterday for the war in Vietnam.

Marc Schulman of The American Future is running a three part series that meticulously traces the evolution of the Times in regard to Iraq and it is a devastating portrait:

"A war can be lost because public opinion turns against its continued prosecution. The New York Times – the self-described “newspaper of record” – is among the world’s most influential opinion leaders. As shown by the cited quotations, the newspaper’s stance on Iraq underwent a complete transformation during the decade separating 1993 and 2003. While its editors never lost their fear of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their prescription for countering the threat posed by the weapons was altered beyond recognition. In 1993, by arguing that cease-fire violations nullified U.N. protection, the Times affirmed the right of a victorious party to resume hostilities at its sole discretion if the party it defeated did not abide by the terms of the agreement to which it affixed its signature. Ten years later, the Times reversed its stance, asserting that the United States should not go to war without the approval of the United Nations. In so doing, the Times implicitly argued that going to war with the approval of a multilateral institution took precedence over the use of military force to expeditiously eliminate the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD.

This post, which covers the eight years of the Clinton administration, is the first of three that employ the Times’ editorials to trace and analyze the evolution of the newspaper’s position on Iraq. The second will cover the pre-invasion Bush administration, while the third will deal with the period from the fall of Baghdad to the present."

Continue reading...

This is an example of blogging at its best, not just citizen-journalism but citizen-history - and I will be linking to each part in Marc's series.
Monday, November 21, 2005

Dr. Chet Richards, Editor of Defense & The National Interest has posted a review of Blueprint For Action by Thomas P.M. Barnett. This was a very important review, one well worth reading in full; tough but fair and frequently laudatory, written by someone in the small circle of theorists and defense intellectuals who can reasonably be considered a peer of Dr. Barnett's.

It was, unlike most book reviews, informed commentary.

For those not familiar with Dr. Richards, a mathematician by training, he was the long-time associate of the great military strategist Colonel John Boyd, of whose ideas Richards is the
" universally acclaimed keeper of the flame" and authorized briefer since Colonel Boyd's death. Richards is himself the author of several books on strategy including A Swift Elusive Sword and numerous articles. In addition, Richards operates the Belisarius and DNI sites, both of which I recommend highly to anyone interested in strategy or military history.

Several excerpts of Dr. Richards review of BFA ( my comments are in regular text):

"His recommendations for the Department of Defense have finally reached the “radical” level. Essentially, he wants to shrink it down to the special operators (SEALs, Green Berets, Rangers, etc.) plus airpower and put the rest of the Army and Navy and the entire Marine Corps into a new Department of Everything Else. In other words, all of the Marine Corps and about 95% of the Army would become part of Sys Admin. I am truly in awe."

I have watched this evolution in Dr. Barnett's thinking since the publication of The Pentagon's New Map where he introduced the Leviathan-System Administration dichotomy. Initially, the borders were fuzzy between the two and Dr. Barnett leaned toward the conservative side of structural transformation of the armed services, chiding me for including some serious " trigger pullers" in the Sys Admin category. Ultimately in BFA, Dr. Barnett envisioned something far more radical by making the Marine Corps the " Mini-Me Leviathan" of the Sys Admin force. This incidentally returned the Marines to their historic role as the undisputed masters of Small Wars, a mission that is a good cultural fit for the Corps.

"Pattern for success

Like John Boyd, whom he references several times in the book, Barnett considers the range of human conflict from the national aim or vision down to tactics. Putting Barnett’s scheme into Boyd’s pattern would give us something like:

Vision: End “terrorism” and war as we know it; alleviate suffering and poverty world wide.

Grand Strategy: Shrink the Gap – connectivity everywhere.

Strategy: Six point process for “processing politically bankrupt states” (to be critiqued below) featuring internationally-sanctioned preemption when necessary.

Grand Tactics: Build support among a designated group of Core states to sanction attack for removing offending regime and funding reconstruction.

Tactics: Airpower-intensive network-centric warfare (NCW) to take out organized military forces and eliminate or capture indicted members of regime; then, actions to preclude fourth generation warfare including armed counterinsurgency and timely reconstruction of state with connectivity and "New Core" status.

Dr. Richards is laying out the cornerstone for a grand synthesis of strategic thinking that really needs to be considered more deeply. PNM, Boyd's Patterns of Conflict, 4GW, NCW, Global Guerillaism all contain at least some principles that can be extrapolated to every level of the Boydian Taxonomy. Some of these theories are more versatile in this regard than others -i.e. they are more fully developed comprehensive paradigms - and most excel or exhibit greater detail at a particular level.

PNM 's locus is at the level of Vision and Grand strategy and grows sketchier as you move downward toward the practical, concrete, operational application in limited scenarios. Barnett is leaving an " open system" for practitioners of warfare to fill in details by trial and error. The other theories seldom reach the Grand Strategy level, much less articulate a coherently persuasive Vision that becomes the basis of a new moral authority the way PNM/BFA does. That in essence is the " secret" of the power behind the appeal of PNM theory; Dr. Barnett's vision is not a recipe for blowing things up with greater efficiency than the other guy -it is a moral argument for why we should act.

The potential for finding complementary interactions here is large. And discovering the underlying dynamics that give all these theories their varying degrees of validity - which I expect we will find through a better understanding of the behavior of complex networks and in applying such principles as resilience, emergence and phase transitions to analyzing strategy.

"Iraq and the non-case for Sys Admin

Now let’s turn to the one acknowledged failure – Iraq. For Iraq not to blow his case out of the water, Barnett has to declare it a “no-test,” the term used in programs like missile defense when you don’t want an obvious disaster to end support for the project. Barnett’s explanation for Iraq is that we didn’t follow his six-step formula, so it doesn’t represent a failure of it. He is obviously correct that there was no Sys Admin (it was 2 months after the capture of Baghdad before we cut orders for the first military police unit) – but this observation is not conclusive. The fact that we had no Sys Admin and Iraq is a debacle does not imply that having such a force would have led to a more favorable outcome.

...Is there any reason to suspect that with enough troops on the ground, we couldn’t have precluded an insurgency? Against this is the argument that the occupying force itself is a catalyst for insurgency and so one of the ingredients in successful counterinsurgency is keeping as small a footprint as possible. A large Sys Admin force, particularly a multinational one with varying proficiency in handling insurgency – and comprising different ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds – adds complexity, increases the potential for misunderstandings and provocative events, and provides a target-rich environment. For these reasons, 250,000 largely non-Muslim Sys Adminers, some with experience fresh from Chechnya, might not have been the panacea Barnett claims. [And I have to admit that this is a significant change from my own critique of Map here on DNI, where I argued for such a force.] "

Well, there are a great deal of variables to play with here in terms of a thought experiment entitled " Iraq with Ideal Sys Admin conditions". Simple advantages in numbers do gain the security effect of proximity when you hit " X" personnel per 100,000 - it simply becomes that much more difficult of a task to pull off insurgent attacks when occupation forces are spread " thick" rather than thin. Higher levels of security means more basic services which in turn reduces grievances but the pivotal aspect will be the political skill with which such a larger force is employed. A considerable portion of America's problems in Iraq are of our own making - an insurgency composed only of foreign jihadis is nothing more than the Baader-Meinhoff gang in a khaffiyeh.

Much food for thought here. A very stimulating review of a superior book.

Have not done one these, at least a longer one, in some time. Overdue:

The consistently superb Eide Neurolearning Blog explores the intrinsic limitation of psychological self-referentiality in understanding others in "The Tyranny of Our Thinking Styles"

Jeff at Caerdroia - who was kind enough to put me on his coveted quote banner space today - has a highly sensible piece entitled " The Military and Political Implications of Disclosing Strategy". Churchill and FDR understood such things but back then the media did as well.

Dr. Von posts on "Thinking Out Loud About Emergent Behavior...Those Power Laws"

Military analyst and writer Ralph Peters, always worth reading, in a NYPost op-ed " How To Lose A War" ( Hat Tip: Memeorandum)

John Hagel of Edge Perspectives reflected on the contributions to society of the late Peter Drucker who died just shy of his 96th birthday last week.

String theorist Lubos Motl points his readers toward Seed Magazine

Check out the new Threat' s Watch organized by Bill Roggio, Steve Schippert and Marvin Hutchins. Zenpundit wishes them all success with their new venture.

That's it.


The Murtha -Troop Withdrawal vote battle in the House of Representatives reignited the fury of the Swift Boat Veterans against former Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry. John O'Neill, a swift boat Vietnam Veteran and was the author of Unfit For Command had an op-ed today blasting Kerry for his comments regarding Murtha's Republican critics given his own rhetorical history. ( Full text courtesy of Bruce Kesler)

To reiterate an analysis I gave over at The Duck of Minerva, the " coward" shot at Congressman Murtha by Rep. Jeane Schmidt was out of line - ridiculous actually. Murtha is no coward but the Democratic anger in the House had less to do with a nasty remark to that effect than with the GOP leadership seizing on Murtha's poorly conceived proposal to:

a) Short-circuit an incipient antiwar " drumbeat" media strategy to build the political momentum to *force* troop withdrawals from Iraq over Bush administration opposition.and

b) Get the Democrats on record for a highly unpalatable vote.

This was a two-fold debacle for antiwar Democrats. Here's why it happened:

Setting aside a debate over the intrinsic merits of troop withdrawal, the Republicans outplayed the Democrats politically because the Democratic leadership is still trying to force-fit the Iraq War into the politics of the Vietnam War paradigm of their boomer youth ( or the boomer youth of their activist base at least) despite this script being a repeated failure with the general public, even one disillusioned with Bush's handling of the war. Why do they keep doing it then ? Because this is the only frame of the Iraq issue that the Moveon.org screamers/ activist base will tolerate.

The Iraq War is many things but it is *not* the Vietnam War. President Bush incidentally, as I read a lot of military-related boards, sites and journals, has no shortage of critics within the uniformed military and civilian defense community on Iraq, but proposals like Murtha's are not a form of opposition to which many of them would sign-on.

If only the Republicans were half as effective in neutralizing the Iraqi insurgency...perhaps Bush will luck out by having Pat Leahy and Nancy Pelosi form an LBJ Martyr Brigade and then the White House can conduct operations against them.

Link preface:

"No Longer a One-Sided Fight To Demonize China" and " Perfect NYT Trifecta" by Dr. Barnett

"Fooling Yourself" by John Robb

" The Globalization Bull in the China Shop" and " Will China's New Left be a Force to be Reckoned With?" by Zenpundit

"China's Time Bombs " , " China's Time Bombs: Gray China", " China's Time Bomb: One More Word on The Pension System", " China's Time Bombs: The Banking System" by Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye

"Post Communist China" by Simon of Simon World

President Bush's much publicized trip to China does not have the austere Cold War gravity of the Soviet-American summits or the epochal significance of Richard Nixon's flight to Beijing but the normality itself is an important sign. The leaders of China and the United States are trying to navigate a relationship of significant magnitude and one with enormous room for future positive growth - but they are doing so bereft of mutual understandings on many important subjects in bilateral and international relations ranging from Taiwan to proliferation of WMD technology.

Sino-American relations are really at a critical moment as we stand at the root of a multifaceted decision tree whose branches spread outward into a fog of future scenarios we cannot clearly discern. Part of the problem is the paradoxical position of the Chinese state which is strong and weak, resililient and fragile, resurgent and fading all at once makes gaming China's outcomes difficult at best. Minxin Pei described China's elite in Foreign Policy in these terms:

"But China’s isn’t just any government. It is one that rests on fragile political foundations, little rule of law, and corrupt governance. Worse, it has consistently placed the highest value on economic growth and viewed all demands for curbing its discretion and power as threats to its goal of rapid modernization. The result? Social deficits in education, public health, and environmental protection. But it is hardly surprising, since promoting high growth advances the careers of government officials. Thus, China’s elites devote most of their resources to building glitzy shopping malls, factories, and even Formula One racing tracks, while neglecting social investments with long-term returns. So for those who wonder how, if China’s political system is so rotten, it can deliver robust growth year after year, the answer is that it delivers robust growth year after year, in part, because it is so rotten.

But the Chinese Communist Party knows that the people will tolerate only so much rot. Corruption is a rising concern. The party’s inability to police its own officials, many of whom are now engaged in unrestrained looting of public assets, is one of Beijing’s greatest worries. These regime insiders have effectively privatized the power of the state and use it to advance personal interests. Their loyalty to the party is questionable, if it exists at all. The accelerating effect on the party’s demise resembles that of a bank run; more and more insiders cannot wait to cash in their investment in the party."

On the other hand, much the same could have been said ( and was said in Europe) of the America of Boss Tweed, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Credit Mobilier, Mark Hanna, The Whiskey Ring, Jay Gould, The Homestead Strike and Teapot Dome. With great effort at reform the United States managed to impose the rule of law in matters of both market and politics. It was a bitter struggle though, which took decades and was done in an era when, except for the flow of investment capital, the United States needed little from overseas and derived its economic growth primarily from its own vast internal market.

China's leaders today do not have quite the same luxury of time as did American leaders in the 19th century. While vast, China's potential consumer market lacks purchasing power and as a result China's growth is export-driven; as such, the deep temptation for the Politburo, due both political and profit incentives, is to reinvest endlessly in current growth sectors than in basic services, infrastructure and educational opportunities for the 600-800 million peasants lagging behind. China has an array of future-altering national decisions to make in the next twenty years that most advanced nations, by comparison, made over several centuries - and China's leaders, lacking intrinsic legitimacy, need to get all of them right to avoid a popular explosion.

Thus it is possible to look at China, as does Dr. Barnett and see where all the nonzero sum economic trends are pointing and forecast a hopeful future worth creating for China, the United States and the world. Certainly, the United States can influence some of these outcomes for good or ill and Dr. Barnett is trying to nudge policy makers toward choosing the strategic good.

It is also possible to look at China's numerous political and economic contradictions as does John Robb and Dave Schuler and see a China that is going to walk the narrowest, most self-absorbed, zero-sum path for fearing of falling off the tightrope. As countries are driven by their own internal dynamics this scenario is a very possible one.

And it is also possible - though far more unrealistic - to look at China's defense establishment and diplomacy and assume that China represents a strategic threat to the United States on the revisionist, anti-status quo model of the great totalitarian powers of the 20th century. China, like most states, has a strand of angry ultranationalism and ethnocentrism in it's political culture and there are factions in the PLA and the CCP who periodically play this card during internal power struggles. They play this card because they are not in the driver's seat in China but would like to be. Treating China like it is already our enemy empowers these fringe ultranationalists.

China is a great power in a state of societal flux. All our policies in Asia need to be bent toward guiding China to a peaceful rise that does not conflict with critical American interests.
Sunday, November 20, 2005

This is probably not cutting edge information but it is a good program of Iraq's privately organized armed groups. Can't tell the players without a scorecard.

Hat tip to Dave Dilegge at The Small Wars Journal

Most of the commentary on the rioting in France seemed to focus on the socioeconomic angle, something very comfortable politically to American liberals as it recalled the racial discrimination that created the 1960's " long hot summer" riots in this country. The second largest segment of opinion dealt with Islamism in France which American conservatives harkened to as it fit the current War on Terror framework. Very few commenters, notably John Robb, discussed the role of criminal gangs controlling TAZ in French suburbs for years, in spreading the riots.

I thought I would put forth some of the more provocative evaluations on the riots from some different ideological and theoretical perspectives that emerged as the rioting ebbed.

" Haaretz Interview with Alain Finkielkraut" via Marc at The American Future

"Why Paris is Burning" by Mark A. LeVine at HNN

" C'est la Guerre " by William Lind at DNI

"Reflections on the Riots in France" by Dr. Michael Scheuer in U.S Cavalry On Point

My own commentary, circa day 10, can be found here.

Interestingly enough, the high rise public housing in some poor French suburbs is a very familiar sight to me or anyone from Chicago, resembling the 1950's and 1960's housing projects like Cabrini Green and the Robert Taylor Homes built by the first Daley administration. The solution to gang-rule and drug trade warfare in these buildings ultimately was to begin demolishing them; neither the city of Chicago's very tough police department nor the Feds were ever able to reestablish order there after the 1980's. Even the much publicized " move-in" to Cabrini of Mayor Jane Byrne which flooded the projects with uniformed and plainclothes police, could not break the grip of Chicago's paramilitary street gangs like the Vice Lords, the Black Gangster Disciples and the El Rukns over the projects.

It will be interesting to see if the French state can impose its rule-sets in these suburban zones that the French government itself admits have been beyond their effective grasp or if ultimately they will try a " tear down and disperse" solution along with social and assimilation programs.
Saturday, November 19, 2005

This is pretty impressive. Commentary asembled the following public figures to debate and evaluate the Bush Doctrine:

Paul Berman, Max Boot, William F. Buckley, Jr., Eliot A. Cohen, Niall Ferguson, Aaron L. Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Reuel Marc Gerecht, Victor Davis Hanson, Owen Harries, Mark Helprin
Daniel Henninger, Stanley Hoffmann, Josef Joffe, Paul Johnson, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Robert J. Lieber, Richard Lowry, Edward N. Luttwak, Joshua Muravchik, John O’Sullivan, Martin Peretz
Richard Perle, Daniel Pipes, Richard Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, David Pryce-Jones, Arch Puddington, Natan Sharansky, Amir Taheri, Ruth Wedgwood, George Weigel, James Q. Wilson, R. James Woolsey
Friday, November 18, 2005

Dan of tdaxp had an interesting post reflecting on his victory over Nationmaster after numerous blogs including Zenpundit began piling on in his defense. Quoting from an article on the recent flap over Sony's XCP debacle, Dan posted ( quote in italics; Dan in regular text):

" 'It seems crystal clear that but for the citizen journalists, Sony never would have done anything about this," says Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a cyber liberties advocacy group that has been vocal in its condemnation of Sony and may eventually file a a lawsuit against Sony, in addition to three that have already been filed.

"It's plain to me that it was Sony's intent to brush the story under the rug and forget about it."Alan Scott, chief marketing office at business information service Factiva, said, "I think that we're in an entirely new world from a marketing perspective. The rules of the game have changed dramatically. The old way of doing things by ignoring issues, or with giving the canned PR spin response within the blogosphere, it just doesn't work.'

Without blogs, rough-shod corporations and politicians like and could even get away with harmful lawsuits without any consequences.The Citizen-Media, also known as the blogosphere, is an important leveler, extending connectivity to those other than the Main-Stream Media and the Main-Stream Corporations"

In my view Dan is correct but he has not taken his analysis nearly far enough. In fairness though, the premise that the blogosphere is the power of vox populi incarnate is shared by the bicoastal media elite who look on with as much horror and loathing as Dan does admiration and wonder. The everyman is really irrelevant here and if Dan was only an everyman he'd have received a subpeona from NationMaster's corporate shyster squad by now.

The number of blogs in existence is currently estimated at about 60-70 million plus. Most are admittedly, mind-numbing dreck written by 13 year old girls, spamblogs and mercifully short-lived experiments in public whining by twentysomethings in bad relationships - but that still leaves tens of millions of sober, rational bloggers, trying to get noticed. Out of that unruly horde - a larger than many nation-states - tdaxp is # 999 on the planet ! Think about the Social Darwinian implications of that stement. Any blogger who is, with regularity, interesting enough to be in the top 5000 is above the common herd.

For example, my blogroll contains: enough PhD's to fill several departments at a large university, including one Nobel Prize winner; two nationally known defense intellectuals; several physicists; other scientists; a number of legal experts; an eminent federal judge, numerous historians; combat veterans; several journalists at medium sized city newspapers, including one editorial page editor; diplomats; computer/IT experts, a professional economist; linguists and at least one philosopher. A fair amount of collective brainpower by any measure.

The blogosphere does not empower the average person, it empowers the above average person who previously would - by chance, occupation or geography - have been excluded from having any siginificant input into the larger culture. The centralized old media of the big three networks by and large took their cue from the editorial page New York Times, as did the metropolitan newspapers of a hundred smaller cities. The Eastern Establishment truly shaped public opinion once upon a time. A few voices carried then - Walter Lipmann, Joseph Alsop, Walter Cronkite, Ben Bradlee, "Punch" Sulzberger - there were others but it was a pretty damn short list. The Establishment's superficially diversified heirs still shape the debate to a considerable extent but with two significant changes:

a) They have lost their monopoly on the determination of the bounds of acceptable public discourse


b) The very bright or accomplished citizens- formally just isolated local influencers -who might never have met prior to the blogosphere, being scattered throughout the nation( or the world) now connect and form durable networks. Left or Right, this cultural "outlier elite" rejects much of what the MSM elite has to offer.

The blogosphere is an aggregator of intelligence and influence. Primarly, for the moment, blogging is an amusement for these talented individuals but when they are threatened or offended they can respond with surprising speed and intensity. Just ask John Kerry or Dan Rather. Or Trent Lott. They are not the general public which is why the corporate P.R. routine and bigshot bluster backfires so badly with bloggers.

Eventually, some shortsighted fool in the Federal government will make some arrogant gesture that will really outrage these potential leaders and all the latent strength and ability will crystallize as a blogospheric party - an organized faction that will be energized enough to create a political upheaval on par with 1932 or 1980.

Wait and see.

Spending the day with The Son of Zenpundit in his world of hot wheels, Batman, nerf basketball, The Incredibles, beginning reading books and the various and sundry activities of an active and curious pre-school boy.

Posting will commence later tonight when the tyke and his sibling have gone to bed.
Thursday, November 17, 2005

Our friends on the Democratic side of the divide have launched a new venture to play to the activist base under the guise of boldly reaching out to...well.. the center left voter.

Called "WomenDemocrats.org" this group ( unclear if is a 503(c) or a 527 or something else) is promoting an " Innovation Agenda" that is remarkably free of any attempt to look at subjects beyond domestic policy. Some of it isn't really that bad and reads pro-connectivity and at least pro-small business - but aren't women or Democrats interested in being innovative in foreign and defense policy ? Or even in macroeconomic issues like Globalization ? This online broadsheet reminds me of something from 1995.

Has foreign policy officially become the new third rail in Democratic politics ?
OPEN SOURCE MEDIA LAUNCHED ! ( plus new blogs on the roll)

Via DJB at The First Iraq, I have learned of the launch of Open Source Media, a collective media enterprise - one might even say " empire" - of the blogosphere's elite (including such admired luminaries as Austin Bay and Nathan). OSM's mission:

"OSM’s mission is to expand the influence of weblogs by finding and promoting the best of them, providing bloggers with a forum to meet and share resources, and the chance to join a for-profit network that will give them additional leverage to pursue knowledge wherever they may find it. From academics, professionals and decorated experts, to ordinary citizens sitting around the house opining in their pajamas, our community of bloggers are among the most widely read and influential citizen journalists out there, and our roster will be expanding daily. We also plan to provide a bridge between old media and new, bringing bloggers and mainstream journalists—more and more of whom have started to blog—together in a debate-friendly forum."

This project would seem to be a nonzero sum enterprise that could go far beyond the usual collective blogging efforts or aggregator platform to become a powerful and influential generator of unique media content. Content, it must be said, is going to be increasingly, and for the forseeable future, valuable in a wired world with more conduits of communication than can be qualitatively filled.

And in my own humble corner of the blogosphere, I'd like to welcome the following new bloggers to the Zenpundit roll:

Abu Aardvark



Atlas Shrugs

Dean's World

Edge Perspectives

Grim's Hall


New Yorker in DC



The First Iraq

Check them out !
Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The literary kriegsherr is enjoying a bit of a revival lately:

"An Interview with Martin van Creveld" by DNI ( compared here with Sun Tzu)

" Clausewitz and War" by Teflon at Moltenthought

"God of War" by Younghusband at Coming Anarchy

A classic does not go out of style it seems.

This is not a rebuttal per se of the roundtable but Curtis Gale Weeks of Phatic Communion weaves in a number of economic, political, cultural and philosophical questions related to globalization and American foreign policy that readers may find his post intriguing and challenging.

Link Preface:

The Gaps in "Globalism"

"The Gaps in Globalism

by Curtis Gale Weeks

Globalism continues to be a hot topic, with reason. Most of the flux currently being experienced, throughout American society but also worldwide, is a result of the conflict of paradigms brought about by the growing connectivity that slices across these paradigms.

"Probably the most common use of the word paradigm is in the sense of weltanschauung. For example, in social science, the term is used to describe the set of experiences, beliefs and values that affect the way an individual perceives reality and responds to that perception. Social scientists have adopted the Khunian phrase “paradigm shift” to denote a particular social phenomena rather than what was originally meant by Khun’s study on the practices and development of science. Even occultists, notably chaos magicians, use the term - to describe a shift in personal belief systems concerning magic (magic theory).
Some language purists feel that among “business philosophers” and advocates of any type of change whatsoever, the term paradigm is so widely abused that it bears no meaning whatsoever. Some believe it should be abolished from the English language, and formal studies of this show it as one of the most disliked words in English. "

[Webster’s Online Dictionary: Rosetta Edition]

The looseness of the term paradigm is probably a reflection of something much deeper — as well as the general dislike of the term. Phatic Communion reader Anne suggested in a recent comment on another post a simmering conflict between relativists and moralists, which might account for the flux or at least be a symptom of the flux we are currently experiencing: The looseness of the term is advocated by relativists; the support of strong paradigms (as explanations, motivations) is common among moralists even if they do not use the term.

Controlling, overarching systems either shape society or are shaped by society; or, both. The degree to which we may control the creation of these systems is hotly debated, as is the configuration of whatever systems may be created or modified (if any; extreme relativists and extreme moralists do not seem to believe we can do either.)

For the purpose of this entry, I’ll utilize the term paradigm to signify the various modes by which the world and world events are viewed and explained — although I don’t expect to use the term very much beyond this opening. Suffice to say that

Favorite paradigms represent static worldviews, and

The current flux occurs because differing paradigms are coming into conflict at a high rate, and

Although new paradigms may ultimately form during this process of flux, I will question whether the current flux will or should ultimately resolve into a final paradigm or collection of paradigms. (Although, given my penchant for meandering thought, I might not do so in so many words.)


Flux: a result of the conflict of paradigms brought about by the growing connectivity that slices across these paradigms.
A return to the word, flux.

The term actually comes from the Latin for flow even if it is not always used to denote a flowing environment. The paradox is key. The scientific use of the word often represents a rate of flow of particles or energy; and, the idea that a rate can vary, causing and/or caused by various changes in substance, leads to the common idea of change for the term flux. We may translate this idea for use in understanding world paradigms — or, world views — and the present conflicts brought about through changing rates of connectivity. Various levels of insularity in the past limited the cultural, intellectual, and economic flow between different sets (or, sects) of world views, which in turn led to standardized and accepted modes of interaction, or the flow of these things between the parties. With an increased complexity of interactions, or of networking between parties — or of flow between parties — various paradigmatic elements began to also flow between parties at a greater rate. This has led to a destabilization of static world views. Taking again from the scientific view, we might consider what happens when new data is introduced which conflicts or modifies prior knowledge of a given event or substance: controversies occur at first, then new models are created to account for the new information, and these models persist until another introduction of new and controversial data arrives to upset that model. With greater connectivity between societies (and even, within societies), static world views also undergo such perturbations; and, with the increase in the rate of information being transmitted between societies, the cognition loop of controversy — remodeling — stasis cycles at an increasing rate.

Importantly, when considering whole societies ...."

Continue Reading Gaps in Globalism:
Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Defense and The National Interest has a fairly regular though anonymous contributer
"Fabius Maximus" who reacted to this report on female suicide bombers by the Jamestown Foundation with this commentary(PDF).

FM has a 4GW analysis on female Islamist suicide-bombers which he ties rather nicely to the unsavory but expedient Gap practice of press-ganging child-soldiery into various rebel armies. FM is treating the phenomenon of the " mujahidaat" as a natural evolution in military practice resulting from the disintegration of the rule-sets that govern such things as wars and nation-states.

Fabius Maximus may be correct in his reading. On the other hand, enlisting women into combat has seldom been the tactic of the winning side in a war - instead it usually keeps the conflict going until the damage to the side employing women becomes irrevocable. The Israeli experiment with female combatants in 1948 was so bad as to have never been repeated. Enlisting the entirety of its population did not save Paraguay in the Paraguayan War of 1864-1870; instead Paraguay lost more than half its total population ( and 98 % of its men) and it never really recovered. The ferocity of Germanic and Gaullish tribesmen -including their women - only inspired the Romans to undetake decimatory pacification campaigns.

Much like Robert E. Lee's 11th hour proposal to free and arm the slaves to replenish the ranks of the Confederacy, that the Islamists are now reaching for female suicide bombers to attack wedding receptions bodes poorly for their cause.

The United States, Russia, the IAEA and other major powers moved toward establishing an international nuclear fuel bank that would remove any legitimate need for Iran or any other non-nuclear state to reprocess nuclear fuel - a step that can be used for both nuclear reactors as well as to make nuclear warheads.

"Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN nuclear monitor, said on Monday he had won commitments from the US and Russia for an initiative to create an international nuclear fuel bank. He said only such an international approach could resolve the problem of countries being able to develop a nuclear bomb through their own development of the fuel cycle.

"You can’t target one country," he told a Washington conference hosted by the Carnegie think-tank, referring to international pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme.

Mr ElBaradei said he was «very close» to being able to establish an assured supply of nuclear fuel, under IAEA management, within the next year.

The US made a commitment in September to supply 17 tonnes of highly enriched uranium that would be blended down to 290 tonnes of lightly enriched fuel. Russia would also give material from dismantled weapons.

Japan ’s multi-billion-dollar nuclear facility, to be built at Rokkasho, could also become part of a global fuel bank system, he suggested."

While Iran's regime can be expected to balk at this alternative given that their nuclear program is obviously and primarily for the acquisition of nuclear weapons, establishing this kind of bank erodes the "plausible deniability" for the mullahs for even the determinedly gullible in the West.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Just two tonight, despite a backlog of excellent posts to tackle. Sometimes less is more.

Bruce Kesler's " From Every Mountain Top Let Freedom Ring" at The Democracy Project. an excerpt:

"The World Summit on the Information Society meets in Tunis this week to attempt to place the Internet under international controls.

Is freedom divisible? Less and less so, as national and individual actors have the technology and ease to slip near and across borders. Borders are less barriers today than weakening filters.

...Yesterday’s London Times quotes me, with respect to the effort to place control of the Internet under U.N. control:

“ ‘This issue, this outrageous putsch attempt, deserves an uproar heard around the world on the internet,’ wrote blogger Bruce Kesler at Democracy Project. He criticized the EU for its ties to ‘such stalwarts of smothering internet freedom as China, Cuba, Iran.’ ”

The London Times also quotes two leftist bloggers, one calling this “the US conservative spin machine turning this into a battle between the democracy-loving US Government protecting the internet from censorship from the dictators and thugs who run the UN,” and another, the leading leftist blogger Markos Moulitas of Daily Kos, saying, the U.S.’ “international belligerence” undermines the world’s faith that the U.S. should regulate a “global medium.” The U.S., unmentioned, has not regulated, but invested in and maintained a completely open forum, anathema to tyrants and those who travel alongside."

Bruce has been beating the drum on this issue and he's completely right - the U.N. is neither capable of governing the internet well in a technical sense or a political one - as the states most anxious for UN control are the ones most alarmed by the internet's freewheeling nature.

I also have note that while there are a lot of smart, thoughtful and persuasive liberals in the blogosphere, Moulitas, on the other hand, is only a hop, skip and a jump from the crackpots over at The Democratic Underground. If the Bush administration were feeding the hungry, the DailyKos would find a kind word for starvation.

From Chirol " A PNM Take on The Riots" at Coming Anarchy. An excerpt ( but click the link for Chirol's beautiful graphic ilustration of the concepts).

"France’s minorities, living in ghettos separated from the rest of society have developed their own culture and implicit rule sets. On top of that, French law, i.e. explicit rules, according to reports, does not extend very far into these areas. Thus, we have weak enforcement of explicit rules in the form of police presence which simultaneously reinforces the growing ghetto rule-set. Thus, this violence is NOT an abberation but rather a norm in sync with the gap’s rule-set. However, it’s now spilling over into the core, instead of staying inside the gap.

Instead of concentrating on the specifics here, think back to the basic Core/Gap theory and the blueprint for action needed to connect these areas and keep them connected. Instead of thinking of poverty or radical Islam as problems, think of them as symptoms for disconnectedness. France needs to take a hard line jailing and deporting who they can, but at the end of the day, their job is to connect these ghettos and like Barnett said, the boys aren’t coming home. Granted we aren’t talking about soldiers here, but his point stands that a sustained effort over a long period of time will be necessary to increase the “flows” and ultimately connect France’s gap."

Chirol has out-Barnetted Barnett !!

I was sad to see from Dr. Barnett's blog that one of the nation's preeminent strategic thinkers and creative defense intellectuals, Vice-Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski, passed away this weekend after a long illness. Cebrowski was hailed as " The Father of Network-Centric Warfare" and was noted for his vision and depth as a military theorist. The implications of Cebrowski's NCO paradigm for warfare, economics and business management have yet to be fully realized or understood.

Until recently, Cebrowski headed the Office of Force Transformation, a post created in the wake of 9/11, and reported directly to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Zenpundit would like to offer sincere condolences to the family and friends of Art Cebrowski.

I'm not certain exactly how many first-rate strategic minds the United States can boast of having, but we just lost one of the giants.


Arthur K. Cebrowski on Defense Transformation

The 1998 Proceedings Article of Network-Centric Warfare

Department of Defense Report to Congress on Network-Centric Warfare

About two weeks ago an anonymous commenter asked of me ( and also Dan of tdaxp)

"What would an example of moral counter-blitz by the US against Al Qaeda? Are counters that have a negative effect on the morale of the external culture counter-productive? If so, what justifications would there be for short-term gains via negative counters-measures?"

Dan referenced Colonel John Boyd's famed Patterns of Conflict brief, slides 105 -111 and then went on to give a more developed Boydian answer in the comments section of my post . The anonymous commenter also brought in to play John Robb's post on Evo Morales. John followed up Sunday on his more formal blog by elaborating on a Morales Bolivia as a " Gray Democracy" with gray denoting " gray market" and not, as in the case of the EU or Japan, a sharply aging demographic.

So we have two types of strategic threats represented here for american policy makers to deal with - a 4GW conflict represented by al Qaida and an indirect " Global Guerilla" geoeconomic and geopolitical attack in the vein of unrestricted warfare being played out on an international chessboard. Let us set al Qaida aside to look at the second threat so that we clarify its nature. John Robb wrote:

"Rogue democracies? Evo Morales (a very popular candidate for President of Bolivia), has given his support for legalizing coca production and voiced an intent to walk away from US anti-drug policies: "We are not interested in protecting US interests." Additionally, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is actively using his countries oil wealth to subvert US policy in the region. "

In my opinion, neither Morales nor Chavez are democrats except in the same nominal sense as Slobodan Milosevic -i.e. participating in a democratic electoral system only to the extent that they can maximize outcomes for themselves. Chavez is a former putschist and Morales toppled two democratically elected governments with street demonstrations; the only democratic scenarios these guys respect are the elections that their side wins. At best, Morales and Chavez are illiberal populists and the only intelligent aspect of a generally hapless U.S. policy toward Venezuela has been not providing Chavez with an anti-yankee pretext to formally seize absolute power.

These men and the explicitly authoritarian political networks they represent are the enemy every bit as much as al Qaida. They are the global radical Left regrouped after the fall of the Soviets in a corporate merger with the world's most atavistic cultural reactionaries.

The challenge of the alternative economic model Chavez and Morales represent America has seen before, though not for some time, in the form of state -directed capitalism of fascist and quasi-fascist states during the 1930's and 1940's, including Peron's Argentina and managed trade type barter agreements pioneered by Hjalmar Schacht. Essentially, it is an anti-free market policy designed to control currency reserves ( back then we would have said gold) for the regime's import priorities and allow the state to exert control over the direction of the economy without the responsibility of total state ownership ( though Chavez may go in that direction in time).

Without getting hung up on labels and arguments over Left-Right terminology, this is a quasi-autarkic policy designed to produce short term economic results for the regime and hold the effects of globalization at bay. It worked for about six years in the case of Nazi Germany and yielded a prodigious rearmament program before the internal contradictions of Schacht's program brought the German economy to the breaking point - at which time Hitler's gamble for a limited war with Poland resulted in WWII. This updated and far less coherent anti-gringo version of Schacht's econmic wizardry runs against an American policy for a freer world of global trade dating back to The Atlantic Charter.

So, from a certain perspective, Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez and Osama bin Laden are all anti-Globalization warriors using different means toward the same end - a world of politically sealed fiefdoms with only slender threads of connectivity to the outside world being allowed by local oligarchies. As a strategic goal, it is a vision with wide appeal to undemocratic elites the world over, including a sizable section of the professoriate in Western countries. While the nationalist, anti-Western and anti-American demogogy will be about sovereignty and evil multinational corporations, the concealed reality has mostly to do with political mafias of iron-hearted men keeping their own people ignorant and shackled.

What " moral countermeasures " can be taken then by the United States ?

Looking at Boyd's slide 108 where he discusses a " counter-guerilla" program there are many sensible suggestions that can be adapted or extrapolated for use by civilian policy makers at State, Treasury and in the IC. Dan has already done so in the comments section to which I will add my own observations.

1. This is a global contest of grand strategy and it is asymmetrical in nature.

" Our win" which is a greater good for humanity in terms of prosperity and individual choice is not viewed that way by local elites. This is the " Mubarak problem". From their perspective it is better to rule a poorer country and stay firmly at the top of the pyramid than to share (or lose) power in a rich one. Since a majority of the world's ruling classes stand to lose authority or relative status in a globalized and democratic world, the U.S. needs to prioritize its diplomatic order of battle. America against the world for the sake of consistency is a recipe for America isolated. One or two wars at a time please.

2. At the same time the United States must hold the moral high ground as the nation that empowers the poor of the world.

Not just rhetoric of democracy but offering the kind of economic connectivity that spurs grass-roots economic growth in the Gap states most open to our aid and trade. Microloan programs, educational grants, a revitalized Peace corps, access to cheap communication technology. Imagine the political impact if the United States led the way to providing global wireless broadband internet in nations too poor or with governments too incompetent or corrupt to establish conventional fiber optic infrastructure. All the poor would then have to do is get access to relatively inexpensive connection devices for which a family or village might pool their resources.

3, We can only communicate with our potential allies if we walk the talk and know their language.

By " language" I mean that our public diplomacy has to speak to people of other nations in a referential script they find comprehensible even it is in a presidential speech being translated from English. Every country, culture and civilization has its unique touchstones and some of these are congruent with American values and the practical " win-win" results we would like to achieve. All too often our representatives say things in a way to turn potential victory into a media moment of international awkwardness and embarrassment.

4. Shift from crisis management to pro-active innoculation

"Shrinking the Gap" should start with stealthy Sys Admin work where it is seemingly needed least and not begin with the Gap equivalent of failed state black holes. Dr. Barnett counsels such triage in Blueprint For Action in discussing regional priorities for the U.S. and the Core. We need to lift the Seam states up to the New Core and top tier Gap states into the Seam in an act of geopolitical inkblot tactics.

We would be demonstrating competency, success, empowerment and communication - nonzero sum scenarios - to the audience we need to reach.

And our opponents, by their very nature, cannot.
Zenpundit - a NEWSMAGAZINE and JOURNAL of scholarly opinion.

My Photo
Location: Chicago, United States

" The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances as though they were realities" -- Machiavelli

Determined Designs Web Solutions Lijit Search
02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 / 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 / 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 / 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 / 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 / 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 /

follow zenpundit at http://twitter.com
This plugin requires Adobe Flash 9.
Get this widget!
Sphere Featured Blogs Powered by Blogger StatisfyZenpundit

Site Feed Who Links Here
Buzztracker daily image Blogroll Me!