Tag Archives: military-industrial complex

The Obama Foreign Policy

The recent news is that President Obama is trying to shut up General McChrystal, because McChrystal’s comments imply that our current troop levels in Afghanistan are insufficient.

This is reminiscent of President Bush silencing General Shinsheki. At the time the Democrats in Congress, acting opportunistically, criticized the President. This time, the Democrats in Congress, acting opportunistically, support the President.

Very well. But why is Secretary of Defense Robert Gates supporting the President?

On Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said “it is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations — civilian and military alike — provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately.” He did not mention McChrystal’s name.

Simple: Gates knows that Obama may not care about winning the Afghanistan War.

McChrystal knows his future depends on winning the Afghanistan War. Therefore, he is doing everything he can to get the troop levels needed to win it.

Obama does not care about the Afghanistan War. And not just because liberals think that the Afghanistan War is the bad war. Rather, Obama believes that America should generally act as an offshore balancer... That is, Obama thinks that America should avoid having a firm side in international disputes, and rather ‘go with the flow’ so that American influence will be maximized.

Gates knows this. However, Gates is involved in the bigger effort to transform our military-industrial-’big war’-complex into a military-industrial-’small war’-complex.

Gates’ work will continue whether or not Obama allows the Afghanistan War to be lost. Gates’ knows that he has limited political capital. Gates would rather spend that capital making the small-war-complex inevitable than risking it all on the Afghanistan War.

The Hundred Days

Several bloggers have commented on the first hundred days of the Obama Presidency, especially in context of the edited volume Threats in the Age of Obama, to which I contributed a chapter.
threats_in_the_age_of_obama_cropped_cover

I want to give particular attention to posts by Sam Liles, Mark Safranski, , Mike Tanji, as well as ubiwar and Mark Curtis.

The threat I wrote about was the collapse of the military-industrial complex, possibly as a result of financial crisis.

My evaluation of President Obama, with regard to keeping the military-industrial complex strong, is in two parts. First, his foreign policy, and second, his economic policy.

obama_gates_clinton
Obama’s foreign policy has been brilliant. The team of Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates may be unmatched in modern times. A coherent, and frankly brilliant, policy of reaching out to important partners while focusing our defenses in sensible ways has contributed to an astonishingly safer world. An example of this one-two punch is Clinton’s “G-2″ meeting with China while Gates pushes kill the F-22 (in spite of corrupt Congressional opposition). This helps incorporate China into the global regime we created, helps establish them as partner, and paves the way for (among other things) Taiwan’s best stock market rally in 19 years.

And when the chance permitted itself, we killed some pirates too. We are clearly signaling who are friends are, who are enemies are, and what we can do about it.

Obama’s foreign policy grade is a high A. Absolutely brilliant.

Part of keeping the military-industrial complex relevant is making sure it is aimed in ways that are not intolerate to future policy makers.

paul_bernake_geithner

Obama’s economic policy has been disastrous. As America’s economy experienced echoing shocks, as the incompetence of New York bankers (many of which were under the jurisdiction of New York Fed President Tim Geithner) were compounded by give-aways and bailouts lobbied for by Tim Geithner (among others), Obama’s choice was inexplicable: he named Tim Geithner as the Secretary of the Treasury.

Geithner’s response have not merely been made in a technical sense: for worse, they have been aimed at destroying the free-market financial system in the United States. Nearly every day brings new of a new scheme by Geithner to prevent banks from experiencing the consequences of their bad bets. The latest conduit for Geithner’s capital-laundering is Chrysler. While Geithner’s Treasury Department extended saved Chrysler from an bankruptcy for a time, they never used secured loan. That means that the “loan” to Chrysler is in fact a gift to Wall Street.

I was ignorant of the depth of Geithner’s belief that bankers should not lose money regardless of the decisions they make. Obama should not have been. Further, when Geithner actually proposed to guarantee all debt in the banking system, Obama should have used all that opportunity to begin nationalizing the zombie banks, taking back the grants we have to Goldman Sachs and other large institutions, and re-establishing a free market.

Obama absolutely as failed at this, and his policy is authoritarian-leftist. Obama’s economic hostiles appear designed to increase governmental control over the economy, destroy the middle class as an independently wealthy sector of the economy, and establish a statist model of economic stasis.

Obama’s economic policy grade is F. It can hardly get worse.

All other things being equal, Obama’s foreign policy brilliantly helps modernize the military-industrial complex that lies ahead.

All other things being equal, Obama’s economic policy is the operationalization of the greatest threat to American power in the Age of Obama.

Missile Offense

Tom has a post on missile defense, but it’s worth emphasizing that ballistic missile defense is an offensive weapon. It serves beyond just feeding the Military-Industrial-Complex and Poland: namely, stressing Russia and thus preventing Moscow from using that political capital elsewhere.

The unwanted gift of missile defense in Europe (Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog)
So we have a non-defense (too weak for Russia) triggering a destabilizing counter (Kaliningrad) by Moscow, whereas east European states, who face no logical threat from Iran (why threaten a Europe that already does such business with Iran?), see it as a gateway drug to modernization of their militaries by the Pentagon.

While the initial policy proposals of Pentagon’s New Map have since been scrapped, I’m not comfortable with the proposals that have been adopted. Detente, for instance, is an answer to a question moot for a generation.

The End of the American Leviathan (?)

An interesting post by Tom, that fits nicely into the thrust of my chapter, “An outbreak of democracy: The threat of the collapse of the military-industrial complex” in a volume to be edited by Mike Tanji:

East and West, intertwined and imperative (Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog)
But as this piece nicely argues, informing me wonderfully as a result (and I am grateful, because I have been staying up nights on this very notion), the restructuring argument links the “getting the Core’s house in order” logic to that of shrinking the Gap.

In effect, what this piece says is that the globalization model of the past quarter century that saw America provide virtually all the global Leviathan services and the lion’s share of consumer demand (an implicit Marshall Plan) is broken (I prefer the term, “consummated” or “completed”). But no matter the term you use, it has come to its useful end, this model. We can’t take on more debt nor more global security burden–we are tapped. These are my essential arguments in Great Powers.

China’s political evolution hasn’t progressed to the point where it can rapidly take on those twin burdens: they just don’t have the internal deal-making counterparty capacity to gin up the domestic demand via mortgages, credit cards, etc (they can’t turn into America-like overnight and thus buttress our recovery, and somebody’s got to for globalization to move forward), and they don’t have the vision nor wherewithal to step into a junior partnership role on global security. In short, we simply have not done enough, nor have they themselves, to prepare themselves for this moment.

The volume will be Threats in the Age of Obama, and will be part of a series of such books published by Nimble.

Update: Mark highlights a debate on disengaging from the Middle East.

The War of Ideas in the Context of the Nation-Building-Industrial-Complex

Robb, J. (2007). Unleashing the dogs of war. Global Guerrillas. September 2, 2007. Available online: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2007/09/unleashing-the-.html (from ZenPundit).

John Robb has an excellent piece on the Sysadmin-Industrial-Complex, the institutional support needed to expand and defend globalization against terrorism, socialism, and stupidity:

If you think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will end with this US presidency, think again. These wars will likely outlast the next several Presidents. The old Vietnam era formulas don’t apply anymore. The reason is that the moral weaknesses that have traditionally limited the state’s ability to fight long guerrilla wars have dissipated, and modern states may now have the ability and the desire to wage this type of war indefinitely. Here’s what changed:…

[T]he military and its civilian leadership still don’t have the ability to garner wide domestic support for guerrilla wars beyond the initial phases. However, they do have the ability to maintain support within a small but vocal base

The current degree of corporate participation in warfare makes the old “military industrial complex” look tame in comparison.

If this Long War really came down to a “war of ideas,” we would lose. Fortunately, it won’t. However, it’s still useful and helpful to have a “small but vocal base” to distract and wear down opponents as the broader structure of the Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex fights on.

The Military-Industrial Complex becomes the Sysadmin-Industrial Complex, despite the Kossacks

Wolf, R. (2007). Transfer of military tech to police. Welcome to the police state. Daily Kos. August 19, 2007. Available online: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/8/19/134642/645.

Shrinking the gap requires a Sysadmin-Industrial-Complex, a system that supports mission-readiness and mission-execution regardless of which party wins this-or-that election. This establishment would function like the Military-Industrial-Complex that does the same when it comes to preventing and fighting “big wars.” Indeed, I have argued both can be properly thought of as Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex and the Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex: complementary twins for building a more peaceful world.

Because they are similar, its no surprise that technologies created for the Military-Industrial-Complex will find their ways into the Sysadmin-Industrial-Complex. Indeed, this is a great way to build up the Systems administration part of our society, because money and resources naturally flow from where there’s already a lot of it. (And a lot of money goes into the military complex):

Two recent articles captured my attention. The first related to the use of spy satellites by police. The second was the marketing of the new robot weapons platforms to police.

Each of these developments is alarming in its own way. However, since police are supposed to keep the peace, and the military is supposed to pacify using deadly force, the use of something like a weapons platform by police is beyond unnerving. In fact, it was once illegal to transfer military technology to local police forces. But … as the saying goes … 9/11 changed everything….

Now. What about those robots? The equipment being marketed to police departments is very similar to the robot platforms that were put in use by the military in Iraq in 2005. These robots are designed for urban environments and may be deployed for reconnaissance, with an assortment of weapons, or to deploy explosives (as in the picture), or for bomb disposal. The robots are remotely controlled from several thousand feet away. They cost about $230,000 a piece, but that can vary depending on how it is outfitted. The Talon is yet another “force magnifier” technology. The U.S. military strategy of the future seems to be (in part) to use remote operators of lethal arms. For those forces on the ground, they will be “modified” in a variety of ways to either be “super soldiers,” or the meld with the equipment they are operating.

If you noticed something odd about the tone of the piece, it’s because it’s from Daily Kos, a topsy-turvey blog where the murder of security contractors is celebrated and pro-victory politicians are targeted for defeat.

The same good news about the expansion of the Sysadmin-Industrial-Complex, without a weird commentary, is available from The Washington Post and Wired.

The folks who support Daily Kos will one day win elections. Only a Syadmin-industrial-complex can keep shrinking the worst parts of the gap in spite of that kind of electoral disaster.

Describing the Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex: How We Will Win the 5GW to Shrink the Gap

After I described how we will lose the war of ideas to al Qaeda and therefore must search for a better way of winning, Curtis of Dreaming 5GW asked that I be more precise. Specifically, how would I build a 5GW that can lead America to victory even after conceding the 4GW battlespace to al Qaeda? And how should the centerpeice of our 5GW to shrink the gap, the Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex, look like?

The Military-Industrial-Sysadmin Complex (MISC) is a broader version of Thomas P.M. Barnett’s “Department of Everything Else (DOEE).” While Barnett’s DOEE takes on, the “miscellaneous” functions of the federal government involved in processing politically bankrupt states, the MISC is the broader structure which keeps the long war going.

The Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex must be built around an Iron Triangle of Congress, the Department of Everything Else, and Sysadmin Contractors.


A Typical Iron Triangle

Each edge of the MISC supports each other. The Virutal Department of Everything Else funnels money to contractors. The contractors provide jobs for voters and therefore votes for incumbent Congressmen. Congressmen fund the Virtual Department of Everything Else.


The Iron Triangle that will Shrink the Gap

Just as the Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex that won the Cold War existed in all its pieces before the National Security Act of 1947, each part of the Iron Triangle can be assembled from politicians

The Congress

  • 435 Representatives, of both parties
  • 100 Senators, of both parties

The Department of Everything Else

The Sysadmin Contractors

  • Lockheed Martin (especially their integration unit)
  • Blackwater (and related security contractors)
  • Enterra (and other provides of development in a box)
  • &c

In shrinking the gap, as in most of politics, principles are fine, but steady cash flows are better.

Defeat al Qaeda. Win the Long War. Shrink the Gap. Build the Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex.

Christianity and the Military-Industrial Complex

Larry Dunbar, a polymath interested in genetics, psychology, and many other subjects has a new post synthesizing his thoughts on Christianity and the Military-Industrial Complex:

Take for instance the statement: the military/industrial complex will bring about world peace. Someone, a lot smarter than I, said something to that effect, and actually believes this to be true; it is his reality.

The real amazing thing is that this person pretends to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. Although I have never read the teachings of Jesus, I have been around the practitioners of Jesus all my life.

The military/industrial complex is what Howard Bloom calls a resource shifter. In Jesus’ time the moneychangers would represent them. I think Jesus had something harsh to say about moneychangers. I may have misunderstood, but I don’t think it had anything to do with world peace.

Larry is referring to my writings on Embracing-Defeat and Jesusism-Paulism. In the former series I argue that a military-industrial complex is necessary for victory in protracted struggles, and that are defeats in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia are tied to a lack of a military-industrial-counter-insurgency complex. In the latter, I explain how early Christians used 4GW to conquer the Roman Empire and establish an order based on universal human dignity.

I’m interested in Larry’s thoughts, and I hope he expands on them. However, I don’t think the point he uses in his post is persuasive. Of course anything shifts resources, because anything costs. The question is whether the shifted resources are worth it. In the case of the Military-Industrial Complex the answer is a clear yes. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a more Christian task for a great nation than building one.

Thank God, truly, that we are half-way there.

The Virtual Department of the MISCellaneous and the End of Multicultural States

Great review of Paul Bremer’s book,” by Thomas Barnettt, Thomas P.M Barnett :: Weblog, 14 January 2006, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002819.html.

L. Paul Bremer’s new book on Iraq has an important lesson:

my_year_without_a_misc

Want to avoid another Iraq? Embrace our weaknesses and the failure of states. Build a Military-Industrial-SysAdmin-Complex.

Looking at a Wall Street Journal review of the new book, Dr. Barnett writes:

In short, Bremer didn’t understand his role then and still doesn’t today. We lack this kind of postwar talent on the civilian side, and it cost us dearly in Iraq.

This is why I call for a Department of Everything Else, not just some tiny office tacked on to State.

My one gripe with Pollack is the notion that the quick disbanding of the Iraqi army was necessary to get buy-in from Shiites and Kurds. But this is a highly debatable point. Me, I would assume an insurgency of loyalists is always in the cards, so be prepared to beat back that danger first and risk the civil war-like split with other groups in the meantime(and there are always persecuted minority/majority groups like this in this pretend colonial states created by the Europeans decades ago–that the was the entire design purpose!) because, as we learned here, if the insurgency grows big enough, they can trigger that civil war on their own anyway by forcing your counter-insurgency toward solution sets that raise that danger.

Dr. Barnett shows the need for a Virtual Department of the MISCellaneous. The MISC will include free companies and also loyalty militias.

We need a Virtual Department of the MISCellaneous. I have already described the requirement for a Military-Industrial-SysAdmin-Complex (MISC). Later, I synthesized this with Dr. Barnett’s desire for a Virtual Department of Everything Else

In practice, this means that we must realize that nation-building is hard. We need to leverage everything we can to create new states. Private military companies and ethnic militias are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

In Iraq, we went in without a functioning Military-Industrial-SysAdmin-Complex. We didn’t have the private military companies with flux capacity to pacify areas without out big-war troops being put on the line. We didn’t have the ethnic militias which new that if they went along with us, we would dismember the false imperialistic state of Iraq and allow them to build the nation-states of their dreams. We didn’t have this Virtual Department of the MISCelleaneous — this Visual Department of Everything Else — and the ongoing inability to pacify Iraq is a direct result of this.

At least the Kurds have had enough. And the Shia, too. Iraq will fall apart anyway. If we would have embraced this fact, instead of fighting it, the Global War on Terrorism would be going much better.

Embracing Defeat, Part IV: Embracing Victory

We need to win.

Here’s how

embracing_victory

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_md
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_md
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