Network Centric Politics and The Opposition Party

The Pentagon’s Debate Over What Iraq Means,” by Thomas P.M. Barnett, The Command Post,, 24 January 2005.

An Opposition Party Opposes,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 24 April 2005,

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.

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