Monday, November 14, 2005

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.

I want to take the opportunity to thank you for consistently presenting cogent, informative, and inspiring work on ZenPundit. This present post is extraordinary in these three areas, and represents a forward movement in sundry scattered notes.

I do think that these discussions are missing one key aspect, an integral element on which the grand and proactive schemes of globalizeion and PNM theory turns -- and after this comment I'll focus on blogging about it at my blog, hopefully will have a post sometime tonight addressing it. Nonetheless, your efforts are integral to my own thoughts on the subject.
Hi Curtis,

Thank you for the kind words.

Part of the credit has to go to other people like Barnett, Robb, Dan, Josh, Bruce, Coming Anarchy, and yourself for raising intriguing points of their own. Without such questions I wouldn't have tried to look for answers - I would have written something but it would have been something else.

Freaken long day, but just noticed your post and thought I would comment...

I don't agree.

The core issue America faces is itself and ALL of the BS with 9/11, Iraq, Morales - is its own doing.

Further, America "fixing" itself is much harder that fixing "trouble" spot...

My point on Morales is that yes his actions are immoral, but they were created by CONSUMPTION from America - to fix this the USA itself must first stop immoral CONSUMPTION not the PRODUCTION... secondly, habitual immoral PRODUCTION caused by America must be replaced by moral production that gives the same or BETTER relative standard of living to the producers, or they will not change...

The main problem I run into is the "well if I don't, then someoneelse WILL" - which is very true. Moral investment is long-term and given that since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households - this is not going to change.

Again, thanks for the depth of your blog... It really means alot, although you should really have tags/keywords for entries, because it is very hard to find the information on your site that you have spent so much time and thought creating...

Hope Chicago is warm ;)

Cheers! - Anonymously

now some sleeeep ;)
Oh, one more thing...

In asking about "moral countermeasures" the point was that if your not going to kill them, their family, and anyone who supported them - which I would hope that some would see this is a completely insane concept from the get go - then you must focus on positive moral production...

After all the root of moral in latin means the princples of life and death, not good and bad or right and wrong.

You must treat the external as internal if you want it to be internal - otherwise you will never understand, care, or act...

Blah, Blah, Blah... I had a real plan or deeper insites, but I do not...

re; tags

Yeah, Bogger sucks, I realize. I can't find my stuff either and its a huge pain. I basically have to google myself to find anything.

I'm at the point of seriously moving on a zenpundit.com decently designed site but it won't be up until Spring. In the interim I'm going to put up a stopgap companion blog, sort of a file cabinet for important topics, posts and resources.

re: Morals & Morales

I see your point and actually as a National Security measure, we need to abadnon the drug war, decriminalize drug use, tax the frigging habit and treat it as a medical problem along the lines of smoking. There's no upside to current policy and billions in waste.

I realize your point is larger than that but that's the best I have on just Morales.
Yes, I agree it is very complex and hard to sync to the real world in a way that flows in a natural way. it is interesting to me that Boyd saw this, but it is a very small part of his work. Guess it was a hard sell in the context he was living in.

Thanks for the reply and best of luck to you. The depth of your knowledge is very interesting.

- Anonymously
Mark, Every old guy who is casting about for something worthwhile to do with his last active years should have access to some kind peace corps that could be used to help drag a sputtering state into freedom and prosperity. We're here, greyhaired well drillers,explorers,taxmen,teachers,administraters,cops and grandpas. We could find a countries resources. Teach development and marketing, present curent enviornmental practices and, generate mechanisms for sharing that wealth with the citizens. Sharing the wealth isn't communistic, Alaska does it with an oil dividend plan. A new peace corps that goes in right after the despots leave, will take the wind out of many future bad guys sails, help stop civil wars and give us old guys something really worthwhile to do.
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