Network Centric Politics and The Opposition Party

The Pentagon’s Debate Over What Iraq Means,” by Thomas P.M. Barnett, The Command Post, http://www.command-post.org/oped/2_archives/018611.html, 24 January 2005.

An Opposition Party Opposes,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 24 April 2005, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/4/24/171111/845.

Just as 4GP is the peaceful application of 4GW, Net-Centered Politics is the nonviolent from of Network Centric Warfare. According to Dr. Barnett,

Net-centric operations are a long-term effort by the military to understand how the rise of the information age alters the fundamental nature of war. In the vernacular of NCO advocates, the past force was platform-centric, meaning we organized ourselves around the major “platforms”, the machines we created to wage war (aircraft, ships, tanks, etc.). The future, by contrast, is network – centric: platforms are nothing more than nodes in a larger network whose main power isn’t its massed fire, but its ability to wield that force with pinpoint accuracy.

Instead of being an struggle between ideologies, like Fourth Generation Operations, Net-Centric Operations is a struggle between corporations. These corps can be states, bureaucracies, or political parties. Ideology isn’t an issue – there is a class of professional fighters who can be trusted to fight for their bosses. While 4GO aims to destroy the enemy’s will to fight, NCO destroys the enemy’s ability to fight. While 4GOs are new types of struggles, NCO attempts to use better technology to win Third Generation Struggles.

So given that, does the MyDD article make sense

I think it is this different persepctive that is the source of the current party divide over whether Demcorats should oppose the Republican agenda by offering a competing set of policy proposals, or whether, at lesat right now, they should just stand as a fervent opposition to prevent the installment of as much of the Republican agenda as possible. We have all heard this debate manifest itself on a number of recent issues. Demcorats shouldn’t just oppose Bush’s Social Secrity ideas, they should offer some of their own. Democrats shouldn’t just oppose tort “reform” and the class action bill, the should offer a tort reform proposal of their own. Democrats shouldn’t just oppose the repeal of the estate tax, they should present a counter tax reform package. Don’t just oppose, propose, we are told ad nauseum.

As someone who is pretty firmly in the “just oppose” camp, I fail to see the point of Demcoratic policy alternatives at this time. What is the point of developing policy alternatives that will never even have a chance of leaving Congressional committee? What is the point of developing policy alternatives that will reify hysterical Republican claims about a Social Security crisis, a litigation crisis, or all of the other invented crisises that Republicans create as a pretense of uber-conservative reform? Further, what is the point of developing policy alternatives that will do little else except serve as an excuse of Republicans to serve up slightly altered versions of their “reforms” (remember, Republicans don’t pass pieces of legilsation, they pass reforms) as reasonable compromises? Still further, what is the point of developing policy alternatives when there is very little chance of Demcorats regaining power of the House, the Seante and the Presidency before 2008? It is going to be nearly impossible for Demcorats to gain control of the Senate in the 2006 elections, and our prospects in the House are not much better. Right now, our job is not to develop policy, because there is really no chance that we will go on to govern, thus making that policy of any use.

Looking at it from a Net-Centered perspective, is this advise smart? No, it’s still wrong.

The problem is that Chris Bowers wants Democrats to fight on political maneuvering, trickery, and other party machinations. In other words, Bowers wants the Democrat Party to attack the GOP on its point of greatest strength. Democrats fight with lobbyists? Republicans have more lobbyists. Democrats fight with ground troops? Republicans have more ground troops. Democrats have aid campaigns? Republicans can raise more money.

Leaving ideology aside, the Democrat Party is weaker than the Republican Party. Flukes aside, “fair” fights are guaranteed to be losing fights for the DNC.

If a Democrats are going to rebuild a structural majority, they need to win the battle of ideas. Democrats need to be ideological insurgents. They need ideas.. They need the politics of political insurgency.

Barnett Reconsidering Benedict XVI?

Checking Barnett,” by TMLutas, Flit(tm), 24 April 2005, http://www.snappingturtle.net/jmc/tmblog/archives/005340.html (from Thomas PM Barnett).

Earlier, grand strategist Tom Barnett was less-than-happy about the new Pope

Ratzinger, John Paul II’s enforcer, basically pulled off an insider succession. This is such a bad thing for the Catholic Church, I am almost speechless.

What an amazingly bad pick. Ratzinger is the Chernenko coming on the heels of enfeebled Brezhnev. Complete step backward that history will blame on John Paul II and his sorry management of church in 1990s and 2000s until his death. The regent assumes the throne.

Until a real New Core or Gap pope succeeds Ratzinger (he should just go with Pope Ratzinger I), the papacy will declline in global relevancy to an amazing degree. I blame JP II for this outcome. That man’s intransigence will end up costing us plenty, and him most of his legacy.

The meat of Tom’s complaint is that as Catholicism, and Catholic power generally, increases in the developing and soon-to-be developing worlds (the Seam and the Gap), a Seam or Gap Pope would have been much better for the faith.

TMLutas argues that this is precisely what Benedict XVI allows

I think that Benedict is going to be a very good transitional Pope, one that is going to make the 1st “Southern” or “Gap” pope much more effective when he’s finally elected. Right now, the College [of Cardinals, the body that elects the Pope] is disproportionately concentrated in historic dioceses that have lost their faithful but not the tradition that a red hat goes to the local bishop. That has to get fixed.

As someone who has been the doctrinal enforcer for JP II for so long, Benedict is going to be able to shift the red hats around to a far greater extent without protest than someone from the South/Gap would. Nobody’s going to worry that Benedict is going to revive liberation theology by sprinkling Latin America with new cardinals. There might be more concern if it were a pope from that region doing it. Suspicion of region favoritism is not a good way to maintain peace in the College.

So here we have an objective measure, something that you don’t need to be an insider to see. If Benedict is truly a “circle the wagons” pope then he’s not going to increase the representation of Africa/Asia/Latin America. If he isn’t, he’ll do it in order to realign power in the hierarchy with people in the pews and make a transition so that the next time around, the Conclave will have an awful lot more diversity and the old European power bloc will be weakened.

There are likely other objective measures to watch for but this is a big one. If the College simply shifts out of eurocentricity under Benedict XVI and becomes more distributed, it will be a worthwhile papacy as far as Gap progress is concerned.

Well said.

4GPS2 (Not): Network Autoshutdown and The Opposition Party

An Opposition Party Opposes,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 24 April 2005, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/4/24/171111/845.

A post on MyDD demonstrates the path to suicide for a Fourth Generation Politic.

I think it is this different persepctive that is the source of the current party divide over whether Demcorats should oppose the Republican agenda by offering a competing set of policy proposals, or whether, at lesat right now, they should just stand as a fervent opposition to prevent the installment of as much of the Republican agenda as possible. We have all heard this debate manifest itself on a number of recent issues. Demcorats shouldn’t just oppose Bush’s Social Secrity ideas, they should offer some of their own. Democrats shouldn’t just oppose tort “reform” and the class action bill, the should offer a tort reform proposal of their own. Democrats shouldn’t just oppose the repeal of the estate tax, they should present a counter tax reform package. Don’t just oppose, propose, we are told ad nauseum.

As someone who is pretty firmly in the “just oppose” camp, I fail to see the point of Demcoratic policy alternatives at this time. What is the point of developing policy alternatives that will never even have a chance of leaving Congressional committee? What is the point of developing policy alternatives that will reify hysterical Republican claims about a Social Security crisis, a litigation crisis, or all of the other invented crisises that Republicans create as a pretense of uber-conservative reform? Further, what is the point of developing policy alternatives that will do little else except serve as an excuse of Republicans to serve up slightly altered versions of their “reforms” (remember, Republicans don’t pass pieces of legilsation, they pass reforms) as reasonable compromises? Still further, what is the point of developing policy alternatives when there is very little chance of Demcorats regaining power of the House, the Seante and the Presidency before 2008? It is going to be nearly impossible for Demcorats to gain control of the Senate in the 2006 elections, and our prospects in the House are not much better. Right now, our job is not to develop policy, because there is really no chance that we will go on to govern, thus making that policy of any use.

To the extent that the Democrat Party believes in anything, this advice would end their status as a 4GP movement.

At first this advice looks similar to the second stage of fourth generation peace described earlier. After all, aren’t legislative battles the classic example of network contestment?

The answer is no. 4GP is nonviolent ideological net-struggle because it is a fight between ideologies. Fourth Generation Politics is an attempt to enforce an ideology on a government. A 4GP network exists only to further the ideology, and it is sustained at base by that ideology.

Chris Bower’s solution is not a path to 4GP victory — it is network autoshutdown. It abandons the ideological struggle, and asks its members to either be just against the rulers or for the party bureaucracy. This is similar to some aspects of the Iraqi insurgency — the worst aspects of it (from the point of view of sustainability).

The MyDD article may be the path for kicking the Republican Party out of power. But it cedes the war of idea to conservatives — the opposite of what Chris intends. The post argues for a slide back into a previous generation of peaceful struggle — one unsuited to today’s environment.