Tag Archives: misc

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.

Transforming the SysAdmin

A very good article from Newsweek about how the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are changing the Army and Marines:

When Wright wrapped up his tour in 2005, he wrote an article in Infantry Magazine, an Army publication, criticizing the traditional “light infantry” tactics that had flopped in Afghanistan. He recommended more-flexible approaches, like mixing with the locals and (more implied than directly stated) buying off the enemy. When Petraeus drafted his counterinsurgency doctrine in 2006, he was able to draw on the experiences of resourceful frontline officers like Piatt and Wright. “All the stuff in the Petraeus manual, we had kind of figured it out there [in Afghanistan],” says Wright. “It was all the stuff we had seen work on the ground.”

American officers learned very similar lessons in battling the Viet Cong. But much of that knowledge was simply lost. “It’s said we fought that war nine times, a year at a time,” says Petraeus, noting that because they had been drafted rather than volunteered, many combat-hardened troops left the Army as soon as their yearlong tours in Vietnam were up. By contrast, with the Army stretched thin and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dragging on, soldiers like Wright find themselves heading back into the fight for a second (or third or fourth) tour. “They have a level of experience that I don’t think our Army has had at that rank certainly since Vietnam, and maybe not even then,” says Petraeus.

Petraeus has institutionalized that knowledge. Herding a team of researchers at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, he was able to get his manual written and approved about three years after the invasion of Iraq, lightning speed in Pentagon time. But even Petraeus says that the much-lauded document can provide only principles to follow. The hard work is still being done in the streets of Baghdad. “What they’re dealing with is much more complex and much more nuanced than what we were trained to do when I was a captain,” he says. “You have to understand not just what we call the military terrain … the high ground and low ground. It’s about understanding the human terrain, really understanding it.”

In order to shrink the Gap, America needs to transform its Leviathan big-war force, and the Military-Industrial-Complex that supports it, so that it stands-up a SysAdmin counter-insurgency force, and a Sysadmin-Industrial-Complex to enable it.

The longer the Iraq and Afghan Wars, and those like it, continue, the more the Army and Marines will be transformed into the “occupation” fighting-forces we need.

This is one reason why it’s so important to continue the Afghan and Iraq Wars until those states are successfully processed. Only one candidate this cycle, John McCain, is straightforward enough to both plan on continuing the wars, and letting his plan be known.

The Sysadmin Industrial Complex goes to Washington

Barnett, T.P.M. (2007). I was — quite literally — a night deposit at the FDIC. Thomas P.M. Barnet :: Weblog. September 7, 2007. Available online: http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2007/09/i_wasquite_literallya_night_de.html.

From Tom’s blog:

I am the first to quasi-testify to the panel. We meet in a HASC room with me at the center of the U (open end) and the seven of them surrounding me. Cooper asks me to start off and I do an impromptu summary of both books and my thinking in general, highlighting on the SysAdmin-Leviathan split, AFRICOM, and the Dept of Everything Else. Asked for some focal points on incremental change, I cite: 1) Africom’s stand-up, 2) the possible creation of a civilian reserves corps, 3) the rise of the SysAdmin industrial complex through the lens of Lock-Mart’s acquisition of PA&E (I use Dan [tdaxp’s] concept a lot in discussions with people), and the likely suggestion of the HELP Commission (where I testified a long while back) regarding the splitting off of USAID from State (fingers crossed!).

It’s an honor!

(And “Sysadmin Industrial Complex” rolls off the tongue easier than “Military Industrial Complex “anyway!)

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.

Steve DeAngelis on the Sysadmin-Industrial-Complex

Stephen DeAngelis, CEO of Enterra Solutions, says that the government should expand the safety net for contractors in Iraq. I agree completely. Besides being the morally right thing to do, such an expansion would strengthen the sysadmin-industrial complex, that iron triangle of contractors, congress, and government workers needed to keep shrinking the gap.

Outside the Beltway isn’t so happy with the scheme. OTB’s argument is just as honorable as those who argued we should not care for Vietnam veterans, because they opposed that war. Opponents of shrinking the gap naturally oppose real care for veterans (public-service or private-service), because they correctly recognize that care institutionally supports the broader mission. (Read the comments at Outside the Beltway for less polite formulations of the anti-veteran line.)

The Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex in the context of International Law

I’m not a fan of international law, said “law” being merely a compendium of the arbitrary decrees of those despots who proceeded us — but Adrian was kind enough to highlight some interesting developments in the field that related to the Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex (MISC) that is needed to shrink the gap.

Specifically, he pointed me to the article “For a Capability to Protect from David C. Gompert in Survival 48(1). The article highlights two stages of post-Westphalian thought: the right to protect and the responsibility to protect, as well as an emerging one: the need for a capability to protect.

Gompert emphasizes that the idea of a United Nations standing army is going nowhere, and cannot provide true worldwide peace-enforcing capability.

The MISC is such a capability. We need a flexible force, supported by industry, the bureaucracy, and the government, that can “surge” peace into any area of the globe.

Give Homeland Security an Army

The United States already has seven uniformed services

  • Air Force
  • Army
  • Coast Guard
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • NOAA Corps
  • Public Health Service

While the latter two are relatively toothless, the first five on the list do show that uniform services can become critical.


Give Them Guns

While at the Boyd Conference, one questioner asked a panel composed of William Lind, Frank Hoffman, and Bruce Gudmundsson if they could help with a new legislative initiative to be proposed shortly: create a Uniformed Service under the Department of Homeland Security. I regret not writing down the questioner’s name. This is an amazingly exciting proposal, for one reason: capabilities create intentions.

In the panel proper, Bruce explained how the trench warfare of World War I was enabled by the large gun factories created by the British and French for a naval war against each other that never happened. Nonetheless, the ability to mass produce lots of very large guns remained after the English Channel Threat had passed. So when a new problem (German aggressiveness) came up, warfighters reached for the tools they already had: in that case, including large artillery pieces.

If this sounds familiar, it should. While pre-Great-War Britain and France featured miniature Military-Industrial-Artillery complexes, the United States currently possesses an enormous Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex (MILC). While the MILC has largely outlived its usefulness — what was once our front-line defense against a Soviet takeover of the world is now relegated to topping the odd tyrant and defending Taiwan — the way it enabled our 5GW against Soviet Communism is something we must always be greatful for.

Now it is time to build a Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex (MISC) to win our 5GW to shrink the gap. Because 5GW relies on observation and not orientation, it does not matter if policy makers intend to fight the 5GW at the outset, so long as what they observe leads them to do so anyway. You know the old expression, “when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail?” The 5GWarrior who wishes to shrink the gap must think the same way. We need to give our policy makers a Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex so that more problems in the Gap looks like jobs for the Sysadmin.

Creating a uniformed service under Homeland Security is a way to do this. It does not matter if policy makers originally see the Homeland Security Corps as a tool for rescuing people from hurricanes, fighting forest fighters, or state-building in Arab Africa. All that matters is that it has the capability to do system administration, in the same way that those old naval guns had the capability to do trench warfare.

Capabilities create intentions. Shrink the Gap. Build a Gap-Shrinking-Platform.

Create the Homeland Security Corps.

The Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex is a 5GW Platform

Robb, J. (2007). A private sector war in Iraq? Global Guerrillas. July 4, 2007. Available online: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2007/07/iraq-is-now-a-p.html.

John’s right:

This trend towards privatization will not be reversed despite the desire by many to return to 20th century legacy force structures. Instead, the trend will continue to accelerate as the threat of disorder (accelerated by global guerrillas) begins to dwarf state vs. state conflict — the last refuge of the uniformed military…. experience with platforms (usually with a layer of information technology as a fundamental building block) across a wide variety of complex situations (most successful global firms are transitioning to them, as evidenced by a Harvard Business School study I conducted a couple of years ago) shows that they could work in this area too since they grow efficient business ecosystems, establish coherence, supercharge innovation, and provide substantial improvements in flexibility/adaptability.

Platforms are a vital part of our future success. The Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex that I outlined for our 5GW to Shrink the Gap is such a platform.

While Robb presumably sees platforms are more useful in distributing small-scale violence, this is less of a threat to the United States than to other nations. Unlike the regimes spawned by the French revolution, America was built with “bazaars of violence” in her DNA: The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution protect the rights of the States to form their own militias and the right of the people to arm themselves in self-defense organizations as well.

For more on platforms, see the related articles at Kent’s Imperative, Thomas P.M. Barnett, and Zenpundit, and the related discussion at Dreaming 5GW

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.

5GW + Shrinking the Gap: The Money/Fantasy Machine

Mountainrunner’s review of Brave New War was greeted thusly by John Robb:

Knew it was going to happen. Oh well. To tell you the truth, I kinda expected more push-back to an outsider like me from the “conference crowd” guarding the walls around the counter-terrorism money/fantasy machine in Washinton. This guy is the only one to do so publicly.

Respondingly publicly, MR wrote:

I don’t know that I am trying to protect the “money/fantasy machine”, mostly because I don’t know what he means (a little help?). However, it does sound bad and I would probably agree the “money/fantasy machine” needs to be whacked based on name alone. Whatever it is, my issue with the book pivots on his failure to include and factor in purposes and support systems into the analysis of his guerrillas. Insight into these two not insignificant data sets can’t be dismissed or ignored, but that is just what BNW does.

At the time, I noted this was a humorous way to turn the other cheek. However, MR is wrong. The “money/fantasy machine” is a vital part of shrinking the Gap.


Earlier, Curtis commented on Tom Barnett’s view of 5GW:

he resolution to the Barnettian paradox is not something Barnett himself has offered: a true 5GW approach. Although he speaks in the language of co-optation, he uses the term when addressing inter-national relations; e.g., that Iran can be co-opted. Barnett does not descend to the street level although he does support improving the lives of the persons on the street; [Tom Barnett] has yet to formulate a clear plan for co-opting the many individuals of which nations and corporations are comprised. For the most part, he seems to assume that nation-states and corporations, if they only do the right things, will be received as benevolent dictators — or, scratch that term, as benevolent superempowered entities.

He may be half right. Many people seek saviors of one sort or another; many are happy to delegate responsibility for the things they themselves cannot touch or do not have the time or motivation to fix themselves — or do not understand, themselves. The crux of the Barnettian paradox involves the manner and method of assigning these delegations so that the general man-on-the-street can rest easily knowing his prosperous future is assured. Even within the Core, much doubt about this process of delegation exists; various superempowerments within and without the Core threaten to upset faith in the systems of the Core.

For his theory of 5GW, Barnett needs to reduce the footprint of his preferred superempowered entities, and this will require a re-think about how they operate — in fact, perhaps also about who they are.

In an unrelated post, Mountainrunner himself says much the same thing:

To this end, when operating in conflict/post-conflict environments were the host state needs to be rebuilt, certain tools are missing from our tooklit that demonstrates our commitment to the mission to the host, facilitates capacity building, and deepens host nation commitment, and capability, to the mission, and perhaps most importantly, enlists the locals into their own success.

Both posts can be summarized like this: America needs to subvert her own population, to enlist Americans, to shrink the Gap. Most thinkers are stuck in a low-G paradigm, so obvious solutions are for “everyone to pitch in” (0GW), “organize everyone to shrink the gap” (1GW), write harshly-worded letters (4GW), etc.

However, a 5GW solution is wiser. If shrinking the Gap is a public policy option, it could be rejected. Shrinking the Gap is a long-term process, and should be insulated from politics as much as possible. We have a model of how to proceed.

The Global War Against Communism was a successful, multigenerational effort by the United States to defeat the Communist world, to spinter the Soviet Union’s support, and ultimately to turn the USSR’s constuent republics against themselves. This was done by institutionalizing the war, building up a military-industria complex for the leviathian … what John Robb describes as a “money/fantasy machine” and Tom Barnett decries a generation after the Cold-War ended.

Think about that.

The anti-Communist 5GW that was built up at the beginning of the Cold War is still functioning in spite of widespread recognition that is has been obsoleted by its own success.

The anti-Disconnectedness 5GW that must be built up at the beginning of this Long War must be similarly durable. Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, globalists and internationalists, they come-and-go. They’re electoral defeats and victories are as rational as which town is hit by which tornado, which Senator uses an anti-asian slur that was current among North African Jews a lifetime ago, and other quirks of fate. Shrinking the Gap is too important to be left to chance.

Rather than decy a “money/fantasy machine” we need to build our own.

We need to build a Military-Industrial-Systems Administration-Complex.

We need a Virtual Department of Everything Else.

We need to Shrink the Gap.