"The Few and the Expensive" as a Declining Paradigm

How IBM Conned My Execs Out Of Millions (Technology),” by tyates, kuro5hin, 28 September 2005, http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2005/9/27/95759/4240.

The sacred cow of “national assets” is finally on the SysAdmin chopping block,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 2 October 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002385.html.

Network-Centric Warfare is often criticized as too few, little, too expensive. Writing for different audiences, both Dr. Thomas Barnett and tyates take aim at grandiose ways of winning yesterday’s wars

From the Hawk Strategist:

For the longest time, “national assets,” or satellites and related high-end infrastructure, was considered an off-limits resource of the Leviathan-“off limits” in the sense that it was untouchable budget-wise and largely hidden from oversight in “black programs” (like way too much of the intelligence budget in general).

New Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte sends a shot across the Leviathan’s bow by overhauling a huge $15 billion program that is to “provide the next generation of reconnaissance satellites, known as the Future Imagery Architecture.”

Expect more such moves, because both Dems and Repubs in Congress want less money to be funneled into these super-expensive systems and more effort put into ground-floor spying by humans. There is only so much you can figure out about the Gap from miles above.

This shift reflects the growing understanding that, yes, the Leviathan and its war requirements need a lot of classified information of this sort, but the SysAdmin and its peace requirements need a lot of locally derived information, almost none of which is classified, nor does it take a satellite to gather it, the vast majority of the time.

This is yet another good example of the trend we’ll see more and more: the Leviathan giving up its few-and-the-absurdly-expensive to the SysAdmin’s ever increasing need for the many-and-the-cheap.

From the Techno-Geek

Our budget was toast. Burnt blackened toast. We were so far over budget that we felt sick just talking about it.

We had expected IBM to stay for about three months, which all by itself would have blown our budget, given their $325/hr bill rate. But they were in our company for more than seven months, burning through more than a quarter million dollars a week. And Global Services wasn’t the entirety of the IBM damage. We still had licensing and support fees for Websphere, Websphere Portal, Websphere Content Management, Tivoli Access Manager, and DB2.

IBM, which had promoted itself to lead vendor and integrator, had overpromised, overcharged, and underdelivered. We ended up with an overly complex enterprise portal with a few off-the-shelf portlets and a few integrated applications. Many application integration efforts had to be abandoned. It’s unlikely that those apps will ever be in the portal, and the jury is still out on whether the portal will be a success. None of those slick knowledge management presentations we saw at the beginning of the project bore any resemblance to our outcome, and that original consultant was nowhere to be found.

What Went Wrong

There’s no question that our senior management made major mistakes in vendor selection and management. I still wonder if I could have made a better case to the executives. This was my second experience with IBM, and I knew how they operated. I raised as many warnings as I could, but ultimately because IBM was the vendor with the strongest capabilities, at least on paper, they were seen by the execs as the lowest risk choice. This led IBM to be chosen even when their product was unproven or even demonstrably inferior.

IBM sells itself as a provider of business solutions. That puts them in a position to make architecture and product recommendations. It is no surprise whose hardware, software, and services they typically recommend. After all, IBM invented FUD – Fear Uncertainty and Doubt – to deal with their competitors in the 1970s.

Even though IBM presents itself as a company with very advanced capabilities (i.e. chess-playing supercomputers), most of their customers are looking for the basics: web and database hardware and software, and competent technical staff to set it all up and keep it working. All of this is now a commodity, and companies should be paying commodity prices, not IBMs 300% markups.

Learn From Our Mistakes

They say that exceptionally intelligent people are easier to con, because they don’t believe they can be conned. So if you’re too smart for the following suggestions, you may need them the most. Our IT execs definitely did.

# Don’t take shortcuts with vendor selection or project planning. Make your vendors compete with each other during the selection process.
# Never, ever, ever ask an implementation company for strategy, architecture, or product advice. They have no incentive to help you and plenty of incentives to sell you products and services that you don’t need at inflated prices.
# Open standards means more flexibility in vendor selection. Take advantage of this.
# Know the market. Be able to calculate your resellers’ costs and markup. Remember that markups alone don’t add any project value.
# Check resumes of individual consultants. A $250+/hr consultant should be able to walk on water, and their resume should reflect that.
# Maintain a list of reliable implementation partners that includes large and small vendors, small independent contractors, and capable in-house employees. Match the talent to the project and use only proven talent on new projects.
# Run small pilot projects to test vendors, technologies, architectures, etc. This can be done separately or as part of an iterative development cycle.

For more reading, see Darth Vader’s views on NCO. Or the SecretWarrior on iterative development.

More Feminist Troddle

Feminist Perspectives on Security Jill Steams “Gender & International Relations” 1998

This is because adopting a feminist perspective challenges the view of the military as a defender of a pregiven ‘national interest.’

Militarism is relevant to any discussion of security because militarism is both rooted in and fosters a refusal to recognize the humanity of others.

A broad definition of security might be a ‘state of being secure, safe, free from danger, injury, form of any sort,’ but few International Relations scholars would accept such a persuasive definition.

Realists and neo-realists usually define peace in negative terms. That is, peace is seen as an absense of war.

Those who adopt critical approaches view the state in dynamic rather than static terms, as a ‘propcess’ rather than a ‘thing.’ The ‘state’ does not exist in any concrete sense; rather it is ‘made.’ The state is made by th eprocesses and practices involved in constructing boundaries and identities, differentiating between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside.’ Andrew Linklater has recently argued that criticla approaches to the study of International Relations centre around understanding the processes of ‘inclusion’ and ‘exclusion,’ which have in a sense alwyays been concerns of the discipline.

Indeed, David Campbell argues that the legitimation of state power demands the construction fo danger ‘outside.’ The state requires this ‘discourse of danger’ to secure its identity and from the legitimation of state power. The consequences of that is that threats to security in realist and neo-realist thinking are all seen to be in the external realm and citizenship betcomes synonymous with loyalty to the nation-state and the elimination of all that is foreign.

As we discussed at length in chapter 4, some feminists have argued that women sould serve in combat roles in the armed services because this would give women a stake in national security. However, the liberal ‘right to fight’ campaign has been criticized because it advocates the politics of access while accepting uncriticfally a profoundly gendered conception of security which legitimizes state violence. They have also failed to address the degree to which the military playts a central role in justifying a social order and value system which, in the name of ‘national security,’ privileges men and masculine values.

Militarism can be defined as an ideology which values war highly and, in doing so, serves to legitimize state violence. Alternatively, militarism can be viewes as a social process which involves the mobilization for war through the penetration of the military, its power and influence, into more and more social areas. Militarism can be defined as the subordination of the civil society to military values and the subordinatino of civilian control of the military to military control of the civilians. [note these are three, somewhat contradictory definitions — tdaxp]

Militarization occurs when any part of the society becomes controlled by or dependent upon the military or military values. In this way virtually anything can become militarized, toys — marriage, scientific research, university curricula, motherhood.

So far the discussion has concentrated largely on the importance of understanding how ideas about masculinity foster and support militarism. However, a gender analysis has to understand not about masculinity and feminity as such, but rather the relation between the two. Women contribute to the militarization of society in both material and ideological terms.

Many feminists, while sceptical of the degree to which values can be seen as essentially male or female, have nevertheless argued that the values of caring and nurturing are symbolically, if problematically, linked to women. Furthermore, while there may be no evidence to support the view that men are essentially aggressive and women naturally peaceful, there may be good reasons to think women’s particular relationship to the state and the excersize of state-sanctioned violence can serve as a point of departure from which to radically rethink our approach to these areas.

If war has historically been associates with men and masculinity, so peace has long been associated with women and the ‘feminine’

Others, while rejecting biological or essentialist acocunts of apparent gender differences, have noted the close association of peace and the ‘feminine’ and have argued that the experience of maternity on the part of the vast majority of women and women’s historical exclusion from public power means that women do have a special relationship to peace.

Women also act as peacemakers. For example, Nobel Peace Prize winners Betty Williams and Mairead Corringa were motivated to protest for peace when three small children were killed and the other seriously injured in Northern Ireland in August 1975. This intiative eventually mushroomed into marches supported by over 100,000 people as the local community ‘began to imagine a different way of solving conflict.’

A number of feminist thinkers have criticized the idea that women are specifically privileged or situated because they are products of ‘women’s culture’ or ‘ways of knowing.’ Micaela di Leonardo has argued that any reinvigorated image of women as more peaceful will have disasterous consequences for the women’s movement. Indeed, Janet Radcliffe Richards has expressed deep concern with the position that women are either by nature or socialization more peaceful than men, because this plays into the hands of those who would keep men and women in seperate spheres and limit women’s equality. She points out that male chauvinists have always used the idea of ‘difference’ to discriminate against women.

Dinnerstein argues that equal-rights goals matter because they are to do with psychic growth.

Sometimes this leads to the conscious and subversive use fo women’s traditional place as mother and ‘Other,’ but at the same time demonstrates that women are refusing to stay in their place on the margins.

Feminist thinking about peace is not necessarily locked into the war-peace dichotomy. Because feminists, generally, start from the conditions of women’s lives, and because they see many forms of violence, unhappiness and distress, they define pace as women’s achievement of control over their lives. Similarly, non-violence is not just about the absense of war, but a total approach to living, a strategy for change. When wars end it is women who relinquish their freedom. It is women who are expected to repair the damage done to their militarized sons, husbands and lovers. Peace, therefore, is also seen as a process which must reproduce itself.

Women also tried to work in supportive ways, sharing tasks, skills and knowledge.

As Enloe notes, women’s peace movements in general deliberately avoid forms

Furthermore, women’s psycho-socialization leads them to adopt a moral code which is different from, though not inferior to, the moral code adopted by men. Whereas men are socialized to adopt an ethic of justice or an ethic of rights based on abstract concepts of autonomy and rationality, women adopt an ethic of care or an ethic of responsibility — a mode of reasoning which arises out of attention to concrete particulars, to the specific needs of the concrete, rather than the generalized, ‘Other.’

According to Gilligan, militarism and caring give rise to different concepts of control.

However, while virtually every state has accepted that people do have human rights in principle, just which categories of ‘rights’ should be recognized as ‘human rights’ has been the subject of intense political, ideologicla, and more recently, religious and cultural conflict.

When security is viewed outside of the nation-state context and in terms of the multiple insecurities that people face, the argument that what is really needed is a global perspective on security becomes persuasive.

When Cynthia Enloe asks, ‘What does it mean to theorize state-sanctioned violence? she reminds us that all to frequently theory is seperated from human activity.

Anti-tdaxp Extremism hits "tdaxp" blog!

Hateful tdaxpophobes are no longer limited to norwegianity. and cobuyitaphobia . In celebration of the fatwa issued against me, a friend decided that he had enough of what counts as creativity around here:

ANTI-TDAXP: Tdaxpophobia?

At least I’m not 418th!


Your own personal sheik Jesus

Note lack of coherent criticism

Old generations are fading away — that’s what’s going on

Hurtful and friendly action lead to the same thing: It’s simplicity meets insight

American General on Training in Iraq

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus speaks at Princeton ,” by TigerHawk, TigerHawk, 2 October 2005, http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2005/10/lt-gen-david-petraeus-speaks-at.html (from Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog).

Former Commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command and NATO Training Mission, as well as first Free Iraq recipient of the Order of the Golden Palm, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus recently spoke at Princeton. This American soldier had the following to say about Iraq:

The central theme of his talk, which was supported by lots of data and supporting anecdotes, was that there are a lot of myths about Iraq that need to be dispelled. One such myth is the claim that NATO has not been involved — General Petraeus forcefully argued that it had been, particularly in the establishment of the military academy and training facilities, but that NATO’s participation had been substantially ignored by the press. Another myth is that “the Iraqi forces have no armor.” Coalition members from the former Communist bloc have contributed lots of armor compatible with legacy Iraqi experience, including 77 T-70 tanks from Hungary (“which are better than anything the Iraqis had under Saddam”). Iraqi tanks have been organized into an armored brigade which is responsible for securing the airport road (“Route Irish has been free of violence since the Iraqi armored brigade took it over”).

In General Petraeus’ conception, the Transition Command has five missions:

To “help Iraqis.” “We believed what TE Lawrence said: “Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not win it for them.”

To “organize” the Iraqi military. The task of building a functioning military and special police force is extremely complex, and the Iraqis are doing it with Coalition and NATO guidance. Iraq is doing its own “recruiting and vetting.” We are helping them design the units, which includes the personnel and command structure of each unit from the platoon on up.

The organization of the training of the special Iraqi police had to be particularly original. We have “dramatically shifted” the police training from the Kosovo model. “Iraq is not a 9mm pistol world, it is an AK47 world.”

The most impressive thing about the Iraqi units is how tenacious they have become, notwithstanding early reports that they would cut and run. According to General Patraeus, since the January elections, from which the Iraqi security forces “took an enormous lift that still persists,” the Iraqi forces “have not run from a fight, they have not backed down.” This strikes me, by the way, as enormously hopeful for the future of Iraq, the persistence of the counterinsurgency, and the power of democracy to motivate the fight against the war on terror.

More highlights from the Transition Command’s work:

Under NATO’s auspices, the Iraqi military academy is open with entirely Iraqi instructors. It might have been opened much earlier with foreign instructors, but the Coalition felt that it was important to make it an Iraqi endeavor. General Patraeus noted later that he was very unhappy that this achievement got essentially no coverage in the media given its importance to success in Iraq.

Short- Mid- and Long-Range plans for the future development of the military are in place and being executed, relating to force structure, training, institutions, equipment. This all being done in conjunction with Iraqis.

At any given time, there are more than 3000 Iraqis out of the country training, including 2000 at a police academy in Jordan, and another 200 at an elite training facility “in a neighboring country.” It was obvious that this neighboring country is classified, and we can assume that it isn’t Jordan, which he mentioned specifically. Assuming that it isn’t Syria or Iran, that leaves Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Since there would be no need to keep a facility in Kuwait secret and since it would be in Turkey’s external interest to be seen to be helping NATO (given its pending application to join the EU), my guess is that the secret training facility is in Saudi Arabia, which undoubtedly does not want to be caught collaborating with the United States to kill Sunni guerrillas.

It is good that America has such an well-spoken, intelligent officer corp. Read more.