Tag Archives: sysadmin

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 Chinese Systems Administration Force

Very good news. The end of colonialism was a disaster around the world. Growing East and South Asian interest in Africa promise to return SysAdmin work to the farthest reaches of the globe:

Chinese Boots on African Soil – Online Africa Policy Forum
BUKAVU – Holed up behind barbed wire and sandbags, two soldiers gaze over the green landscape of Congo’s Kivu Province. The forested hills around them are silent, but they are guarding a hub of activity. Meticulously stationed military vehicles surround a few dozen troops marching around a flag planted in the middle of a dusty parade ground – a Chinese flag. “We are here to maintain order and regional stability,” explains a young lieutenant in impeccable French. Deployed in the resource-rich heart of Africa, this army unit forms only a small part of the Chinese troops that have been sent to six different African states.

Perhaps in 2014 we will finally be back up to the level we were at in 1914, when things went sour.

Of course, this promising article includes its fair bit of stupid. In typical eurospeak, “unilateral” means “not being governed by the United Nations.”

All of China’s troops in Africa are participants in United Nations peacekeeping operations under UN mandates – in contrast to the 1,400 or so U.S. troops deployed unilaterally in the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), part of the Bush Administration’s Global War on Terror.

These are good first steps for China.

But I’ll be happier when China’s operating in Africa with the same “unilateralism” as the United States.

(Hat-tip to Nykrindc for sharing this article on Google Reader.)

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 Genetics of Systems Administration

First, the abstract from Chris Dawes’ and Jim Fowler’s new article, “Partisanship, Voting, and the Dopamine D2 Recepter Gene” (available as PDF):

Previous studies have found that both political orientations (Alford, Funk & Hibbing 2005 [PDF]) and voting behavior (Fowler, Baker & Dawes 2007, Fowler & Dawes 2007) are significantly heritable. In this article we study genetic variation in another important political behavior: partisan attachment. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we show that individuals with the A1 allele of the D2 dopamine receptor gene are significantly less likely to identify as a partisan than those with the A2 allele. Further, we find that this gene’s association with partisanship also mediates an indirect association between the A1 allele and voter abstention. These results are the first to identify a specific gene that may be responsible for the tendency to join political groups, and they may help to explain correlation in parent and child partisanship and the persistence of partisan behavior over time.

To emphasize: political orientaiton, voting behavior, and partisanship all are partially determined by genetic heritage.

From a Systems Administration perspective, to the extent that the weight for or against perctain political orientations, voting behaviors, or partisan attachment are different between states, the “baseline” performance of those states will vary

Life after Systems Administration

Hughes, J. (2007). South Africa’s rising wave of crime. Christian Science Monitor. August 24, 2007. Available online: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0824/p09s01-coop.html.

The Christian Science monitor is optimistic, to say the least:

It is now 13 years since South Africa turned its back on the oppressive era of apartheid and, in a remarkably peaceful transition, embraced democracy. Much has been accomplished as blacks and whites sculpt a new, multiracial nation. But the warning in the Sowetan’s boardroom is a reminder that democracy must be nurtured to flourish.

Besides “democracy,” the fall of the Nationalist government brought hope on one front: the Nationalists ran their economies along welfareist-socialist lines, and a shock therapy program by the new rulers (of the African National Congress) might jump-start the economy.

Instead, solid economic growth is accompanied with an increasingly violent society and ethnic cleansing against the most educated demographics within the country. And of coures,

courtesy hdr.undp.org

As can be seen in the chart above, South Africa’s human development index under the Nationalist government was essentially that of a Latin American or Caribbean state. Since the African National Congress has taken over, South Africa’s human development has fallen below Latin America’s, below East Asia’s, below the Arab states’, nearing South Asia’s, and is steadily regressing to the mean for sub-Saharan Africa.

Generally, two factors are behind Gappishness — having your country be one of the worst in the world. One is economic system. The other is the average intelligence of the population that runs the state. The easiest states to bring up are those with bad economic systems but high general intelligence, such as those of East Asia. The hardest countries to bring up are those that suffer from both bad institutions and low general intelligence.

The worst parts of the Gap will not shrink themselves. Pretending they will confines a billion people to misery, terror, and death. Shrinking the Gap requires a long term, institutional commitment by the Core.

The Core’s last attempt has failed everhwere or is failing everywhere in Africa. The European states were too weak and too self-destructive to complete their mission. Hopefully, the next wave of Systems Administration will be luckier.

SysAdmin Appreciation Day

System Administrator Appreciation Day,” by Zonk, Slashdot, 29 July 2005, http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/07/29/142221&tid=230&tid=218.

Barnett must be pleased…

Today is System Administrator Appreciation Day: ‘a special day, once a year, to acknowledge the worthiness and appreciation of the person occupying the role, especially as it is often this person who really keeps the wheels of your company turning.’ Congratulations to all who keep the electrons of our global networks flowing properly!”

Have your developing country thanked your SysAdmin?

, , and have!

Conservatives Discover the SysAdmin

Roberts as Establishment Conservative,” by Ken Blanchard, South Dakota Politics, 23 July 2005, http://southdakotapolitics.blogs.com/south_dakota_politics/2005/week29/index.html#a0005693556.

Dr. Thomas PM Barnett has noted that victory requires two “teams” — a Leviathan to “win the war” and a System Administrator to “win the peace.” The Leviathan penetrates, isolates, and subdues the opposition, while the SysAdmin reorients and reharmonizes the society to bring stability and peace.

If you place the two forces on a chart, with the vertical axis “up and down part” being force, and the horizontal axis “across part” being time, the Leviathan / SysAdmin split would look like

Leviathan pacts force into a much shorter length of time.
The Leviathan’s force is more Intense, while the SysAdmin’s force is more lasting

If a movement doesn’t have both a Leviathan and SysAdmin, it can’t win the war. The US Military is the greatest Leviathan in the world, but because of its weak SysAdmin ability Iraq is a struggle.

The Leviathan / SysAdmin split is useful for things other than war. I have blogged before how Jesus and Paul gave Christianity a Leviathan and a System Administrator strong enough to convert the Roman Empire. Now comes clear evidence that contemporary American Conservatives (“neoconservatives and theoconservatives“) are are building a SysAdmin like they built a Leviathan decades ago


From the conservative side a defense of the Robert’s nomination has emerged that is somewhat novel, and surely worth thinking about. This from David Brooks in the New York Times (hat tip to RealClear Politics):


Roberts nomination, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. . . . I love thee because John G. Roberts is the face of today’s governing conservatism. Conservatives who came of age in the 1960’s did so in an intensely ideological time when it was arduous to be on the right. People from that generation are more likely to have a dissident mentality, to want to storm the ramparts of the liberal establishment, to wade in to vanquish their foes in the war of ideas.

But John Roberts didn’t enter Harvard until the fall of 1973. He missed all that sturm und drang, so he lacks, his former colleagues say, the outsider/dissident mentality. By the time he came of age, it was easier for a conservative to be comfortable in mainstream institutions, without feeling embattled or spoiling for a fight.


The argument here is that it takes one kind of conservative to take power (consider Newt Gingrich) and another to effectively govern. Roberts, Brooks thinks, is of the latter sort. And such men are necessary if the conservative position in politics is to be sustaine


Need more convincing?


And then there is William Kristol’s piece from the Weekly Standard:


IT TAKES AN INSURRECTION TO change a country. It takes an establishment to govern one. Conservatives want both to change and to govern America. Thus we need our dissatisfied, troublemaking, occasionally splenetic, sometimes raffish anti-establishmentarians. After all, without brave resistance and bold insurrection on the part of conservatives, liberal orthodoxy and institutions would still dominate American life.

But insurrection isn’t enough. At some point, the radicals need assistance, support, and reinforcement from establishment conservatives–individuals ill-suited to insurrection but well-suited to rising through the institutions and moving them gradually but meaningfully in a conservative direction. Thus, we need our sober, calm, and respectable establishmentarians. Conservatives also need to be able to put together majorities–in public opinion, in Congress, and on the courts. The conservative tent therefore has to be a big one. As a Supreme Court justice, John Roberts will be an important (and, we trust, happy) camper in that tent.



Why We Must Not Lose the Gap, Again

A Morsel of Goat Meat,” by Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, 23 March 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/23/opinion/23kristof.html.

At the beginning of the century, the British Empire was engaged in the largest nations-building campaign in human history.

Two deadly European civil wars nearly bankrupted the Empire and so weakened London that it lost the will to remain. Everywhere it lost to native thugs, settler racist, or (in the case of Zimbabwe) both.

This is the price of that failure.

The hungry children and the families dying of AIDS here are gut-wrenching, but somehow what I find even more depressing is this: Many, many ordinary black Zimbabweans wish that they could get back the white racist government that oppressed them in the 1970’s.

“If we had the chance to go back to white rule, we’d do it,” said Solomon Dube, a peasant whose child was crying with hunger when I arrived in his village. “Life was easier then, and at least you could get food and a job.”

Mr. Dube acknowledged that the white regime of Ian Smith was awful. But now he worries that his 3-year-old son will die of starvation, and he would rather put up with any indignity than witness that.

An elderly peasant in another village, Makupila Muzamba, said that hunger today is worse than ever before in his seven decades or so, and said: “I want the white man’s government to come back. … Even if whites were oppressing us, we could get jobs and things were cheap compared to today.”

His wife, Mugombo Mudenda, remembered that as a younger woman she used to eat meat, drink tea, use sugar and buy soap. But now she cannot even afford corn gruel. “I miss the days of white rule,” she said.

These are not normal beliefs. These are not what you would hear in a function post-colonial state, like India, or an integrating post-colonial state, like Vietnam.

A combination of local thugs of all races, misguided western leftists, isolationist western rightists, and insane European policies lead to the abandonment of Africa.

Not that it is America’s turn for world leadership, we cannot fail like the British before us. Shrink the Gap.