Embracing Defeat, Part IV: Embracing Victory

We need to win.

Here’s how


In , Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett gives a forward-looking plan for winning the Global War on Terrorism, shrinking the Gap, peacefully integrating China, and ending war as we know it. Dr. Barnett’s goals are achievable, and the vocabulary, methodology, and vision he brings them are correct.

The engine for our victory, the reverse domino theory, teaches that as one nation globalizes, it will pull other nations up with it. We are seeing this with China, which is building trade relationships with Central Asia, South America, Russia, and even Sudan. The first globalization domino, Japan, knocked down South Korea and Taiwan, which knocks down China, which will knock down…

Dr. Barnett also presents an A-Z Rule-Set for Processing Politically Bankrupt States. As 9/11 proved, globalization needs a bodyguard. The United States and the international community must provide this security. Or two, really: the Leviathan blitzkrieg-force and the SysAdmin peacebuilding-force.

We don’t want to fight this struggle fairly. We wish to play to our strengths, fighting as we want. The abilities and characteristics of the American Nation should be completely exploited to help in our victory. The globalization wars are crusades, and our greatest abilities will be the shining armor of our knights.

We Americans have two core competencies:

  • We are rich
  • We want quick fixes

We are rich: we have a large, growing, dynamic economy that is the envy of the world. We are tremendously resilient: even the worst attack in our history (9/11) and losing a major city () has not prevented a low unemployment rate and strong economic growth. We also have a history of trying big things if they can deliver the goods quickly, which has made us early adopters of technological and business wonders.

In this series I talked about the importance of “embracing defeat.” This just means realizing that things that go against our core competencies are core incompetencies. There are some things we cannot do. Our core incompetencies are the flip-side of our core competencies

  • We have little will or endurance
  • We are impatient

Our core incompetencies are paying prices in non-monetary ways (solutions which require patience of moral will), and solutions which are small and slow (like fighting a series of Iraqs). We cannot rely on our incompetencies. If we try we will fail. America is too cowardly and treacherous to pay a price of blood and will.

We Americans have two strategic goals

  • Keep the Reverse Domino Theory working
  • Process Politically Bankrupt States

The main-point of globalization is the Reverse Domino Theory. It is an engine that will give us the entire world for what Barnett calls “the China price.” The Reverse Domino Theory plays to our core-competency of wealth. Just do nothing and everyone gets rich.

The other-points of globalization is processing politically bankrupt states. Here we stop massacres, genocides, wicked invasions, and mass rapes. This process plays to our core-competency of wanting quick, big results. Just do something and we stop the killing.

First, we need to protect the Reverse Domino Theory. This is more important than anything else. If globalization cannot grow on its own then nothing we can do can save it. Likewise, if the world globalizes on its own not even terrorists and incompetent ideologues will be able to stop it.

The China price is an acknowledgement that China’s central role in the Reverse Domino Theory means that a successful completion of the Reverse Domino Effect will have to be tailored with China in mind. The China Price is the recognition that the loss of China to the world economy is the single greatest catastrophe imaginable, short of nuclear war of an attack from space. We need to encourage the reality of peacefully connecting China. The China Price must be paid to prevent China from disconnecting or warring.

Because our core competency is money, not will or blood, the China Price will have to be paid in cash. Because our competency is something quick, while the connectedness of China will only grow slowly, the China Price must buy us something to discourage China from warring or disconnecting itself over generations.

We need an automatic system which makes it not just easy, but profitable, for politicians and leaders to make the choices that prevent war with China. Not just a one-off like abandoning Taiwan, because even then China would realize she has lost Burma, Vietnam, Turkestan, Mongolia, and Siberia. We need something that gives us the backbone we couldn’t afford in will or blood. We need a China price that puts profits on the line.

We need a military-industrial-Leviathan complex.

Boeing: The Good Guys

A military-industrial complex is the only way to make Chinese war aims not just dubious, but delusional. A military-industrial complex is the only way to give the doves in Beijing the upper-hand, year after year after year. Because a military-industrial complex provides jobs for constituents, golden parachutes for generals, and jobs for the wives of Senators, the military-industrial complex gives us the patience and will to do the hard work of preventing China from fighting a war we do not want. Mere trade with a party dictatorship cannot do this, just as mere nuclear weapons cannot do this. The money from a military-industrial complex can.

A secondary concern is rolling back rogue regimes. Barnett’s A-Z Rule-Set cannot do this effectively, and Barnett’s SysAdmin wouldn’t be politically possible. America is not able to pay the price in blood, or will, to send uniformed soldiers in. And because America really, really wants to do something, every new outrage hurts America’s will even more. Clinton was write to criticize GHW Bush for not acting unilaterally in Bosnia, just as Clinton was wrong to not act unilaterally in Rwanda. Able to see things go to Hell and unwilling to do anything, Americans are taught to feel bad about themselves while they let others die.

It’s easy to begin processing politically bankrupt states. The public outcry is intense, and the left/right isolationist coalition almost always loses the initial debate. But everything after the Leviathan’s bomb-’em-back-to-the-stoneage task is hard politically. Not only does someone have to go on and kill the worst actors, America has to be ready, willing, and able to quickly send someone in. It would be disastrous to further tie America’s hand, by handcuffing her to corrupt international institutions. A million died in Rwanda because the Hutu genocidaires knew there would be no soldiers from the west to stop them.

Something that gives us the backbone we couldn’t afford in will or blood. We need a “Rwanda price” that puts profits on the line.

We need a military-industrial-SysAdmin complex.

Blackwater: The Good Guys

To misquote Mark Safranski, the Military-Industrial-Leviathan complex is a visionary grand-strategic level good that builds something new. But without a Military-Industrial-SysAdmin complex, Barnett’s vision has had nothing to compete with John Robb’s realization that “you can take a great idea, with few resources, and conquer the world” applies to transnational crime and unconventional war, too. By using functionally similar private military contractors, what Safranski calls “,” we can coopt this dynamic. Using open-source free-companies to directly engage our enemies, while knowing that these terrorists will be squeezed between contentional, vertically-organized crime on one hand and their fratricidal tendencies, we can minimize the chances of a -style insurgency.

As Dr. Chet Richards appears to be arguing in the land-war portion of America’s counter-insurgency ability should heavily use private military companies. Instead of politicians fretting over American lives lost in stopping a genocide, politicians will know that intervention means campaign contributions. Processing politically bankrupt states becomes not just easy, but profitable.

By protecting our military-industrial-Leviathan complex which prevents big-war with China, and building a military-industrial-SysAdmin complex which processes politically bankrupt states, we can shrink the Gap, end true poverty, end wars as know them, and make globalization truly global.

Let’s do it.

This has been Embracing Defeat, part of a series of reviews for Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett’s Blueprint for Action. The posts in Embracing Defeat are:

I. Barnett’s Two Strategies
II. Blood and Will
III. The Born Gimp
IV. Embracing Victory

7 thoughts on “Embracing Defeat, Part IV: Embracing Victory”

  1. Quick fix is a very relative term. A quick fix to New Orleans levy inadequacy would mean 20 years of work. A quick fix to quick Atlantic/Pacific transport meant 15 years of US involvement after centuries of various European power efforts. Quick fixes do not mean inside one presidential term, or even two. Containment was bipartisan foreign policy for three unchallenged decades until rollback came along and ended Soviet dreams of empire.

    I would suggest that quick fix = the shortest of available solutions because the US does like solutions. We like putting the marines on the shores of Tripoli to end the Barbary pirates. We don’t particularly like managing the problem by paying ransoms and protection money even though it might be cheaper.

    So what is the quicker fix? Is it the route of letters of Marque and Reprisal? That’s really what you’re talking about from a Constitutional point of view. The problem with Blackwater et al is that unless you’re hiring them full time, you’re letting profit seeking private agencies loose in a world with lots of bad actors with sufficient cash. What keeps these guys on the side of the angels? Right now it’s the fact that they can’t stand up to the Leviathan force the US fields. What keeps the US from using these guys from Leviathan duty and getting a nice peace dividend? Nothing. I actually like the idea of letters of Marque and Reprisal. I just haven’t found a way where the independent dogs of war we feed today don’t come around and bite us tomorrow. If you have, let us all know.

  2. The thing is, according to Quantum Physics, it doesn’t really matter how the dice are rolled, you just have to keep rolling them. We have to learn from our native brothers. What do you suppose Barnett means in a future worth living anyway? or more precisely what does it mean not having a future worth living?
    I appologise but you have no grand strategy, you are only picking apart someone elses. You are a great vertical thinker and much prasie should go towards your effort. Singapore’s government owns our ship building yards, at least our Coast Guard building yards. What the Chinese owns is anyone’s guess. It is kind of late to be thinking about a grand theme of military-industry complex! 1990 perhaps, now it is just crying over what should have been.
    One small problem with technology is that once a generation starts using it, it is lost. Once the people who knew how to build ships retire, the new workers will be taught how to build ships on the assembly line. Not much technology needed there.
    Make the quantum roll-of-the-dice, not the quantum leap.

  3. TM,

    A quick fix appears to be one year of American occupation. It can be pushed farther, but the friction from anything longer becomes harmful for the politicians we want to encourage. After a decade it becomes harmful for the long-term characteristics of the nation.

    It doesn’t matter if a year or a decade isn’t enough time to do it right. The British had the will, the social cohesion, to do it right. We don’t.

    We love sending the Marines to Tripoli. But that’s far different from leaving behind a functioning, connected states. How many times have we sent the Marines to Haiti? (Many) How many times have we left behind a country worth creating? (Never)

    We don’t particularly like fixing the problem by paying blood and will, even though it might be cheaper in the long run.

    I absolutely agree that we need to make Blackwater et al creatures of US foreign policy. This is why we need a Military-Industrial-SysAdmin Complex. We should have no more to fear from Blackwater than Boeing. If the Military-Industrial-SysAdmin Complex joins the Military-Industrial-Leviathan Complex, the MISC will be tethered to Washington through the flow of money, just like the MILC is. The MISC will constantly be paid for ongoing work, while new work generated by the Leviathan will “surge” the MISC, creating even higher profits. In this way the MISC will be a force for more Leviathan operations, because the MISC never has more jobs than the Leviathan can generate.

    For example, during “peacetime” the MISC will be used for ongoing security relationships with Afghanistan, Kosovo, Thailand, etc. Much of this work will be low-risk/high-reward “feather bedding,” just as NASA serves as low-risk/high-reward feather bedding for the MILC when Leviathan work is slow. But when the Leviathan operates, the MISC surges, with money pouring in, MISC forces being used more efficiently (pulled off of feather bedding into real work) and more broadly (more work = more employees = more money, etc).


    Dr. Barnett uses “a future worth creating” to refer to a capitalist, democratic, peaceful, socially liberal world (in that order).

    I share Dr. Barnett’s grand strategy of shrinking the Gap. Indeed, I also share the reverse domino theory with him. I disagree with how his SysAdmin would operate, as I outlined in parts II and III. This post, however, adds to his theory by usefully encorporating Military-Industrial Complexes. I do not believe “you have no grand strategy, you are only picking apart someone elses” is a fair criticism.

    Why would it be too late to add the MISC to the MILC? Whether we are in a time of normal controversy or revlolutionary remodeling, all things are continually changing http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/11/21/globalization-is-water-the-magic-cloud.html. There’s no stasis, and even if there was there’s no reason we must stay in one!

    Thank you both for this discussion — I hope it continues! 🙂 And any lurkers out there, please join in!

  4. Then neither one of you has a grand strategy. I don’t know why I have to spell this out for you. You have read Boyd. Moral implicit laws are the most important aspect of a grand strategy. Neither yours’ nor Thomas P.M. Barnett’s grand strategy addresses this issue. “Dr. Barnett uses “a future worth creating” to refer to a capitalist, democratic, peaceful, socially liberal world (in that order).”
    Capitalistic implicit laws are to maximize profits. Not much moral value there. Democracy is good, however if we first maximize profits, it is kind of hard to make your vote count when corporate profits are used to better the corporation and not people.
    I am not sure how “peaceful” a world constantly at war will be, but I can imagine. As one American veteran said, “war creates ugly” and not peace.
    A socially liberal world has more to do with nationalism than morals. Our liberals in America are not any more moral than the conservatives. The liberals simply want change and the conservative want to maintain the values and morals of our nation. You are possibly assuming a judo-Christian world with “in pursuit of happiness” thrown in.
    While your strategy is simply out-dated (how can we have military industry when they are either managed by Asian governments, as with our Coast Guard ship building, or located in Asia), Barnett’s grand strategy will work if a benevolent leader is thrown in before Capitalist. Barnett’s plan is really one made for China. As long as you have a benevolent leader like Kim of North Korea (who wants to unite the people of Korea) then Barnett’s plan will work. Otherwise with out any moral strategy it will lead to failure. The benevolent leader is just a “given” in Barnett’s plan. It is a good thing you like Asian chicks, Daniel-son.

  5. Larry,

    Chet Richards quotes Boyd on the four requirements of a “grand strategy” [1]

    ” * Support our national goal, which at the highest level involves improving our fitness, as an organic whole, to shape and cope with an ever-changing environment
    * Pump-up our resolve, drain-away our adversary’s resolve, and attract the uncommitted
    * End the conflict on favorable terms
    * Ensure that the conflict and peace terms do not provide seeds for (unfavorable) future conflict.”

    While moral implicit laws, what I’ve called strong implicit controls [2], are not written outright, they are elements of all four parts of the definition.”

    You are right that I’ve not done enough on strong implicit controls and winning the Global War on Terrorism. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’ve danced around the issue, talking about Imperial Christianity [3] and neocons-theocons [4], but it deserves further examination. Again, thank you. Comments like yours make tdaxp a better blog.

    War will never end – as wars as we have known them set, 5GW-style conflicts [5] will rise. Globalization’s conquest of the world should be largely complete within a century.

    Remember that Christianity operates as an insurgency, [6] as it has in the past. [7] Status-quo, or traditionalist, solutions are often not “Conservative” ones. [8] Conservatism is a political movement more than a state of mind.

    Spreading the military-industrial complex across the Core may be even better for GWOT and Globalization, because its spreads the financial-incentives for SysAdmin war and Leviathan peace even further.

    There’s an interesting post to written on international marriages after the fall of Kim. A lot of abusive, materialistic joseonpphiles will find perfect mates in abused, materialistic North Korean women.

    [1] http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/boyd_grand_strategy.htm
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/04/12/controls_vertical-horizontal_strong-weak_implicit-explicit_s.html
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/10/caiaphas-and-diocletian-did-know-better.html
    [4] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/06/09/the_neocon_theocon_axis_winning_and_losing.html
    [5] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/20/dreaming-5th-generation-war.html
    [6] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/05/17/pmp_4gp_fusion_the_christian_right.html
    [7] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/10/4gw-tactic-love-your-enemy-as-you-would-have-him-love-you.html
    [8] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/03/28/abortion_and_global_roadsterism.html

  6. Dan
    Chet Richards is listing Boyd’s four functions of a Grand Strategy. What you have listed are the benefits that a Grand Strategy is supposes to accomplish (I know you were in holiday spirit and all). In fact, Richards says that Boyd doesn’t reveal the composition of a Grand Strategy, but from his example of Churchill it is clear what Boyd meant is moral integrity.

    Your strong implicit controls are not elements of the four parts; they satisfy what is needed to support our national goals. Your strong implicit controls could: pump-up our resolve, end the conflict on favorable terms, and ensure that the conflict and peace terms do not provide seeds for (unfavorable) future conflict. However, I thought our country was about liberty and freedom for all. I am not sure that is the same as your strong implicit controls. If your strong implicit controls are what is needed for us to win so be it. I do have to say that while you believe you are a part of a 5GW, the Arabs have been dealing with a Christian insurgency for a long time and the Chinese don’t really care. The Chinese believe in a benevolent leader, but I don’t believe they mean the Son of God.

    So the Arabs are way ahead of you and the Chinese think they can win a war of attrition. I don’t know about you, but I feel we, as a nation, need a Grand Strategy.

    While conservatism is not composed of strong implicit controls such as yours, conservatism covers all people of our nation (liberal is simply someone who is less conservative) and most of the world. I am just saying it might be good to have more than just a Christian Globalization movement (Crusades).

    “Spreading the military-industrial complex across the Core may be even better for GWOT and Globalization, because its spreads the financial-incentives for SysAdmin war and Leviathan peace even further.”

    Giving our manufacturing sector to non-American sovereigns maybe good, if you were not handing the military-industrial complex to people who have eyes for our “Beautiful Country” as the USA is known in China. Let see, the first colonizers from Britton came over here with beads, trinkets, and disease. How did that turn out anyway? If you have visited Wal-Mart lately or read anything about a bird flue epidemic, then maybe some kind of a winning grand strategy is apparent, who know?

    Ah yes Kim’s fall. I realize it doesn’t matter to you if the South will join the North or the North will join the South, as long as converts are able to join the society. However, if the South joins the North, like I predict, do you feel it will be up to the corporations to spread your strong implicit controls to the poor masses of the society? If so, how does that work exactly? In America, corporations exploited the workers until much blood was spilled. Are corporations just more supportive of the North Korean and Chinese people, or do you think they have simply learned their lessons and become more Christian like Ken Lay? If it is not the corporations that spread the strong implicit controls to the poor masses, how do the poor masses differentiate between the corporation exploitation and the exploration by their totalitarian government?

    It took me some effort to find the reference to joseonpphiles (I assume it has to do with Joseon dynasty), but you have made a good point. Like our effort in Iraq is basiclly between the Arabs and Persians (or Assyrian and Babylonian) for control of the Muslim holy lands, the conflict between Japan and Korea will probably come down to the continuation of Japan’s occupation of the Korean pennisula. What’s the market price for ears any way? At least Japan will have some type of a working plan for their occupation. Unlike in Iraq. I think our government just figured our solders would figure things out soon enough. Well, for the most part I think they have. Now Bush is cutting the money to rebuild Iraq? Isn’t that money being used to keep our solders safe? Isn’t that money used to empower our solders? What this all about? I guess it is just the old story, like father like son, flip flop, flip flop! Of course a lot of that flip flopping could be taken care of with a Grand Strategy. Not only does a Grand Strategy give the good guys a quick reaction time, it also stops a lot of back-tracking.

  7. Larry,

    Politically, freedom is freedom from vertical controls — the sort that the are known as “Laws” and “Rules and Regulations.” It is the ability to do what one wishes, and a Free society should maximize this. However, all other things being equal, vertical freedom would conflict with security, because you would have many people doing things that are dangerous (murder, homosexualism [1], etc). Therefore, horizontal (societal, peer) controls are needed. A free society does not regulate behavior by passing laws so much as regulate by “frowning.”

    Because horizontal controls that are implicit (unspoken) are more lasting than societal controls that are explicit (laid-out) (because implicit rules are generated during Orientation while explicit controls are added during Decision in Boyd’s OODA loop), I favor implicit, horizontal controls as the key to a free society.

    One of the many reasons North Korea is a nightmare is that it relies on explicit, vertical controls, leading to a breakdown of civil (horizontal) society and all the benefits that entails.

    Your definition of liberal merely as “someone who is less conservative” is strange. Likewise, your comparison of “Christian Globalization” to Crusades is more agitprop than an argument.

    Why on earth would you support Kim Jung Il?

    I agree that Japan well colonized Korea [2].

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/02/05/2002_new_aids_diagnoses.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/12/11/the-commonwealth-of-korea-and-japan-shintaro-ishihara-right.html

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