Category Archives: Bookosphere

Lovingly Holy Wars Against Loneliness (Isolation and Counter-Isolation)

Freedom in Christ,” by Saint Paul, Letter to the Galatians, chapter 5 verse 14, circa AD 60.

The Cost of Following Jesus,” by Saint Matthew, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, chapter 8 verse 22, circa AD 60.

Shiva,” by Orson Card, The Shadow of the Giant, pg 71-72, 2005.

Defusing A Bomb,” by Eric Martin, Liberals Against Terrorism, 18 May 2005, http://www.liberalsagainstterrorism.com/drupal/?q=node/1178.

Two interesting points about a particular breed of Fourth Generation Warrior — the Salafist suicide bomber

Further, as Sageman notes in his groundbreaking psych-profiles of the Salafist terrorists, including the 9/11 crews, the issue of U.S. troop presence was not of tantamount importance in any significant way. More prevalent was a sense of alienation from society (often caused by the physical disconnect from family and culture felt by Muslims living in non-Muslim countries) and a reaching out for community at local mosques spurred on by the same.

As such, a common biographical occurrence was a recent personal reaffirmation of religiosity in the form of dedication to Salafism (given impetus by attendance at the area mosque which was, in turn, caused by feelings of isolation and lack of community).

Alienated, disconnected isolated, without community.

That is a recipe for disaster.

Salafism’s a PISRR. The goal of any 4G movement is to penetrate a society, isolate that society’s members against each other, subvert the society’s rule sets for its ends, reorient the society around the movement’s goals, and reharmonize the society so that every member internalizes the movement. But for these poor men who became suicide 4G Warriors, they were already isolated. The weed of Salafism found a garden, with healthy soil, already tilled.

Salafism reconnected these men — on Salafism’s terms. Like so many violent revolutionary movements, it spreads because of its message: “We can do it. You can help.” A song of meaning is sung to the future 4G Warriors and they are seduced.

Salafism is spreading along the same lines of the Revolutions of 1848. In nation after nation it finds the atomized, the isolated, the alienated, and reconnects them. It shouts “We can do it. You can help.” In nation after nation it will root itself and try to take over.

In the real 1848, one European state was immune. While hosting some agitators from oversees, no internal revolutionary movement was created. The United Kingdom was inoculated by its civil institutions.

Civil society — a thick web of horizontal controls — existed in the United Kingdom in 1848. Men who wished meaning could find it in local clubs, societies, and faiths in a way their Continental brothers could not. “We can do it. You can help” is the disease. “I love you” is the vaccine.

But then, what to make of a movement that combines both?

Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Christ Jesus

Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Saint Paul

How many movements have combined an overarching political agenda with a relentless campaign of integration. I can think of one (it’s not my church and it’s quite recent). Failures include

  • The Protestant Reformation focused mostly on the Great Enemy (specifically, the Holy Father as Anti-Christ and Universal Church as Whore of Babylon).
  • The Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace (Taiping) likewise had its bete noire (the Machu Chi’in dynasty).
  • Liberation Theology was a non-autonomous adjunct to Marxism, focused on ending capitalism

So who am I thinking of?

One last thought: Since 4G movements grow in isolating societies, they would whither in connecting cultures. In The Shadow of the Giant, Orson Scott Card dramatizes this. A revolutionary leader is condemning his compatriots for insufficient loyalty to the cause:

“You’ve resigned from the human race is what you’ve done,” said Peter. “Because you invented marriage and children, suddenly you don’t have to be part of anything.”

“Opposite,” said Petra. “We’ve joined the human race. We’re like most people. Our life together is everything. Our children are everything. The rest is — we do what we have to. But it doesn’t matter to us as much. I’m sorry that bothers you.”

Salvador Allende the Orwellian Technophile

In the Wrong Hands: Machine A Gouverner,” by Theodore Roszak, The Cult of Information, ppg 200-201, 1986.

I bet you didn’t know the former Marxist leader of Chile, Salvador Allende:

Perhaps the most ambitious effort at applying information technology to the art of government took place in Chile in the early 1970s. Then President Salvador Allende brought in the British cybernetics expert Stafford Beer to develop and administer and optimum economic order for the country. Working from the formula, “information is what changes us; information constitutes control,” Beer had brainstormed an intricate computerized system which he quaintly called the Liberty Machine. Its purpose was to concentrate every scrap of data available from a national, or even from the world economy, and form this to fashion a “cybernetic model.” The computers governing the model would “receive real-time data from the systems which they monitor, and they would distill the information content.” It would be possible to “formulate hypotheses, undertake simulations, and make predictions about world trajectories. Between 1971 and 1973, Beer, working in secret for the Ministry of Finance, sought to establish something called the Liberty Machine in Chile. The effort was a serious one, installed at great expense in a central control room (“the Opsroom”) in Santiago, where is succeeded at the height of its powers in bringing 60 percent of the Chilean economy into its data gathering and governing network. The system included the ability to anticipate and break strikes. Beer has reported: “We used every scrap of relevant scientific knowledge in designing the place — neurocybernetic knowledge of brain processes, knowledge from applied and group psychology, knowledge from ergonomics. ” The exercise entailed an interesting new conception of “freedom.” Liberty,” Beer decided, “may indeed be usefully redefined for our current technological era. It would say that competent information is free to act — and that this is the principle on which the new Liberty Machine should be designed.” It is a definition that makes the computer an integral part of the concept.

Thank God Augusto Pinochet vanquished Allende and saved Chile.

Liberal Bias and Mental Blindness

“War,” World Book Encyclopedia: Volume 21, 1988, pg 24.

I was browsing through an old encyclopedia in my home today, and found this under “War”

Modern warfare has moved away from the days when soldiers with rifles were the most important part of an army. War has been mechanized until it is in large part a contest in producing machinery. In Thomas Jefferson’s day, it made sense to protect “the right to keep and bear arms,” so that people could overthrow a tyrannical government. Today, the private citizen cannot keep the kinds of weapons that would serve this purpose.

The Uzbekistani rebels would disagree.

More seriously, it’s interesting to see an encylopedia written just 13 years after the fall of Saigon state that warfare must be mechanized to defeat a government. Part of it is just mental blindness, but the tome’s liberal bias compounded it.

To think of it in OODA (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) terms, the orientations (“war is mechanized,” “for safety people must be disarmed) implicitly guided the observations (“small arms cannot defeat a government”).

9/11 Commission Opposes Filibusters

13.4: How to Do It?: Unity of Effort in the Congress,” National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States Final Report, 22 July 2004, http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report_Ch13.htm.

I finally finished the 9/11 Commission Report, after my brother gave it to me for Christmas. And there, on one of the last pages, is this beauty:

A president-elect should submit the nominations of the entire new national security team, through the level of under secretary of cabinet departments, not later than January 20. The Senate, in return, should adopt special rules requiring hearings and votes to confirm or reject national security nominees within 30 days of their submission. The Senate should not require confirmation of such executive appointees below Executive Level 3.

Granted it’s not judicial filibuster’s they are attacking. But the Commission did not see it filibusters as sacrosanct, as supposed ancient rights and privileges of the Senate are never mentioned! Nor is the word “filibuster” thought important enough to even be used.

Larry Is A Genius (Net Attack Reading List)

The One Thing Wrong…,” by Larry Dunbar, tdaxp, 7 May 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/05/04/net-attacks_and_counter-attacks.html.

Over the past few days I have been blessed by a wise, well-spoken, and tremendously friendly commenter. Larry Dunbar is a genius. As I’ve said this about one other person — Mark Safranski — that means a lot. Larry has been putting me to shame with briliant thought after thought, while I struggle to find the right words.

He’s given me two wonderful posts in reaction to my article, Net-Attacks and Counter-Attacks, which compared the defense of a Costa Rican online gaming house to styles of war. Here’s his latest, with my comments.

How do you know it wasn’t the Russian police to begin with, and their objective was to get networked with someone in the gaming industry?

Agreed. The original article speculated on whether The Mercenary was behind it, and used the Enemy and the Mercenary Forces (the Russians) as tools. It may have been the Russian police themselves, too.

The greatest argument against the Enemy planning all of it is that computer networkers may be bad social networkers — but such assumptions are always dangerous.

You show no lines off the yellow blocks of the Russian police still attached to the enemy. Even if it was legit, I would expect to see either lawyer, family members and other partners with the enemy still attached to the Russian Police. In fact when the enemy is let go by the police, he now takes a piece of your company and begins another attack somewhere else.

Great point!

The Enemy is not fully disconnected — he is very connected to dangerous people.

I showed him as isolated, assuming he is now lost in a miserable system and out of contact with his assailants. This also furthered the analogy between the CSO Magazine article and an assassination of a tribal chief. You caught me in an assumption.

I’m trying to see a win-win situation here and it is hard to see. The mercenary is now stronger than your enemy was. The enemy, if he survives, is now just a little smarter than before. You also have the fact you are dealing with, at least in some context, the Russian police. My guess is you will suffer another attack simply because there are too many people relying on the enemy to attack so they can be rewarded.

Perhaps this established a high cost of attacks which prevents repeat, but otherwise I agree.

What struck me about the CSO article was how very close it was to the plot of Sons, by Pearl S. Buck. The second book in The Good Earth trilogy, Sons focuses on a Warlord in the early Chinese Republic. The maneuvering in the book is very, very similar to the net-attacks described in the article.

Additionally, the trilogy itself is a terrific introduction to different styles of politics and war. Pre-Modern Politics, 1GW, 2GW, and 4GW are major themes of the series. Written in the 1930s by a woman, and spanning from about 1870 to about 1935, I highly, highly recommend the books:

  1. The Good Earth
  2. Sons
  3. A House Divided

PS: If you care about plot, be careful of the Amazon reviews. They can give a lot away.

The Reivew of the Review of the Review of the Reviews

The Review of the Review of the Review,” by Curzon, Coming Anarchy, http://www.cominganarchy.com/archives/2005/02/27/the-review-of-the-review-of-the-review, 27 February 2005.

Tom Barnett frequently publishes his “reviews of reviews” on his blog where he comments on media coverage of his book The Pentagon’s New Map. Younghusband reviewed PNM alongside G. Friedman’s America’s Secret War last month and Barnett gave his review of the review here and here.

YH liked the book and, not surprisingly, Barnett liked that (with a few sidenotes):

COMMENTARY: Mr. Coming Anarchy gives me the usual slap-down of those who really like the book but want to offer criticism: too repetitive, too self-congratulatory (America rules!) and too long. Fine. He scores his point. Bigger point is that he gets it for what it really attempts to be: a serious attempt at grand strategy that doesn’t focus on the tactics of today and isn’t just a long bitch-session about what the author can’t stand about the Bush administration’s security and diplomatic policies. He also sees the book as accessible, which is key, and views me as new school (definitely not another Kissinger or Brzezinski). This is all good, so I take the quibbling in stride. Mr. Coming Anarchy, despite the bias of his nom-de-scare, knows his rear-end from his elbow in terms of strategic analysis, and that, my friends, is rare in this world.

Admirable. We’re honored he stops by now and then.

Just one thing Mr. Barnett—the content on Cominganarchy.com is provided by two contributors with different educations, experiences, and nationalities, currently living on opposite sides of the globe. There is no “Mr. Coming Anarchy” (if anyone, that would be the dear Mr. Robert D. Kaplan—not your favorite journalist, I know). And as for us, the proper form of address is Sir Younghusband and Lord Curzon.

And we look forward to the next book.

Good review. Tactfully addresses Tom’s naming mistake while giving due credit to Robert Kaplan. Curzon’s use of British titles may be inflammatory to Americans who still dream of liberating the Northern Colonies from Windsor tyranny (or would be it be united States under Hannoverish Occupation?)

Nations Worth Disconnecting

A House Divided,” by Pearl S. Buck, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1559210346, pg 80, 1935.

IRAQ: Gunmen seize Indonesian TV journalists,” Committee to Protect Journalists, http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/Iraq18feb05na.html, 18 February 2005.

In real, present-day Iraq

Two Indonesian television journalists and their driver were seized by Iraqi gunmen in the city of Ramadi this week, an Indonesian government spokesman told reporters today.

Reporter Meutya Hafid and a cameraman identified as Budiyanto, who work for Indonesia’s 24-hour news channel Metro TV, went missing on Tuesday while driving from Amman, Jordan. The journalists had gone to Iraq to cover this week’s observance of Ashura, one of the most important religious events for Shiites, according to station officials.

At least 23 other journalists have been kidnapped by armed groups in Iraq since April 2004, when insurgents began targeting foreigners for abduction. The most recent was Feb. 4 when gunmen seized Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, a reporter for the Rome-based daily Il Manifesto, near Baghdad University. On Wednesday, her kidnappers released a video showing her pleading for her life and calling on U.S. and coalition troops to leave Iraq.

As in Pearl S. Buck’s novel of Revolutionary China

Sometimes he heard some news of those who plotted, how this one had been found with a bomb hidden in his room to throw at some great man, and once a band of plotters went and beat a certain teacher whom they hated for his friendship with foreigners, but when he heard such things Yuan turned more steadfastly to his books and would not lend his interests elsewhere.

This thuggery and violence is the mark of this old new style of warfare. The enemy’s purpose is to destroy relationships between their countrymen and the outside world. Once they have their people isolated they can create their utopian perfect society. We have seen how well that turned out in Russia, China, Korea, and Cambodia.

We cannot let it happen again in Iraq.

Six Weeks From the Bomb

Nuclear ‘Breakout’: Risks and Possible Responses,” by Andrew Mack, Department of International Relations, http://rspas.anu.edu.au/ir/working%20papers/97-1.pdf, June 1997.

Just-in-time nukes,” The Acorn, http://www.paifamily.com/opinion/archives/000769.html, 24 May 2004.

Re: Tokyo Needs Nukes,” by Jonah Goldberg, The Corner, http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/05_02_13_corner-archive.asp#056263, 15 February 2005.

One of Japan Unbound‘s claims is that the U.S. has been pressuring Japan to build an atomic bomb. A post at the Corner implies this isn’t as far-fetched as it seems

From a well-placed military research guy:

Jonah: Japan is classified as a “Virtual Nuclear State”. They have developed a complete nuclear fuel cycle (including plutonium breeding and extraction) but have only refrained from developing nuclear weapons because of the cultural stigma involved. North Korea’s antics over the last decade have been eroding this cultural taboo at an ever-increasing rate. Serious analysts of Japan’s nuclear industry argue (including a very senior member of the National Security Council) that Japan could go nuclear within six weeks of deciding to do so.

Also, Japan has several delivery systems, including a orbital rocket that could be developed into an ICBM rather quickly.

Fear is a dangerous thing. Especially when you are a couple of hundred miles from a madman.

More on the concept of virtual nuclear weapons states (emphasis original)

States that have both the technical expertise to make nuclear weapons and large stockpiles of plutonium are sometimes called ‘virtual’ nuclear weapons states. They are able to ‘go nuclear’ far more quickly than states which would have to produce fissil material from scratch.

Acorn blog earlier chimed

Taiwan could be the first ‘virtual’ nuclear state to cross the Rubicon. The balance of conventional forces is still in Taiwan’s favour, but the Mainland is fast beefing up its strike capability, investing in both enhanced air and naval power.

Virtual nuclear states are in a powerful position. They can use their virtual status both ways, gaining diplomatic benefits from being “peaceful” while using the possibility of going nuclear as a threat.

Suicide Circle

Internet kills nine in Japan,” by Gaijinbiker, Riding Sun, http://ridingsun.blogspot.com/2005/02/internet-kills-nine-in-japan.html, 6 February 2005.

Suicide Circle is most notable for toping Battle Royale‘s horror and bodycount in the first minute. Cliches about sadness aside, Japan is in the business of processing despair

The AFP reports on the latest in a string of group suicides in Japan:

Nine people were found dead in two cars outside Tokyo today in what were believed to be the latest in a series of macabre suicide pacts involving charcoal burners that have swept Japan.

…Nearly 50 people have died in similar suicides since early October.

Gaijinbiker, after exonerating the internet from blame, analyzes

Instead of blaming technology, we should be looking at why these folks are so depressed in the first place:

Suicide rates rose after the economy began to slump in the 1990s.

So, to get suicides down, Japan needs to get economic growth up. And while there are plenty of structural problems in Japan’s economy that need to be addressed, one thing that will help pull Japan out of its slump is the Internet.

Japan’s anemic economy is a moral crises. Nations can happily grow quickly or slowly, but when they stagnate they breed misery. Japan’s Prime Minister is a reformer, and his privatization and anti-agriwelfare reforms are promising. Let’s hope he can get Japan moving again before they have 1930s-level unemployment like their former ally.