Tag Archives: chirol

Coming Anarchy 1, Introduction

Note: This is a selection from Coming Anarchy, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06


My interview with Dr. Thomas PM Barnett was the minor research project for Creativity, Talent, and Exerptise. The major project was a profile of Coming Anarchy — a rising blog that focuses on international affairs. CA is poised to be one of the most influential blogs in this world, and this series explores the ingredients of Chirol’s, Curzon’s, and Younghusband’s recipe for success.

The presentation is by me. The text often included below the slides was compiled by my partner, Matthew Gleason.





Coming Anarchy, a tdaxp series:
Coming Anarchy 1: Introduction
Coming Anarchy 2: Methods and Analysis
Coming Anarchy 3: Identity
Coming Anarchy 4: Failure
Coming Anarchy 5: Obsession
Coming Anarchy 6: Sacrifices
Coming Anarchy 7: Humility
Coming Anarchy 8: Geography
Coming Anarchy 9: Recognition
Coming Anarchy 10: The Gap
Coming Anarchy 11: Conclusion

Response to Chirol on "2nd Generation Empires" – Part 1

Fifth Generation Warfare?,” by William Lind, from Defense and the National Interest, 3 February 2004, http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_2_03_04.htm (from Zen Pundit).

A History of Empires,” by Chirol, Coming Anarchy, 28 July 2005, http://www.cominganarchy.com/archives/2005/07/28/a-history-of-empires/.

John Ikenberry’s Pissed,” by Daniel Nexon, The Duck of Minerva, 30 July 2005, http://duckofminerva.blogspot.com/2005/07/john-ikenberrys-pissed.html.

Chirol from Coming Anarchy has begun an interesting discussion on 2nd Generation Empire. His extremely well written post deserves attention, and I hope I am bringing enough in this reply.

Without further wait, my thoughts for Chirol…

The answer is what I will call a “Second Generation Empire” or 2GE for short (to be fully defined later).

I look forward to your definition. Remember Lind‘s definition of “generation,” as a “dialectically qualitative shift” or that “absent a vast disparity in size, an army [empire?] from a previous generation cannot beat a force from the new generation”

realism, namely that there is no world order and that nations exist in the world in a state of anarchy

Duck of Minervagave the definition of “realism” as

“Realism comes in a wide variety of flavors, but its adherents generally agree on a number of principles:

1. International politics are, at heart, characterized by a struggle for power.
2. Attempts to transcend power – through, for instance, international institutions – are at best misguided and, at worst counterproductive.
3. The primary actors in international politics are states and the leaders of states.
4. They ultimately pursue “state interests” (‘raison d’état’).”

As realism assumes that states are the primary actors, realism thus implies that the world order can be understood by examining states.

Osama bin Laden and others strongly refute this claim.

Might there be a pattern in the phrases: Pax Romana, Pax Mongolica, Pax Britannia and Pax Americana?

That three of them were largely connected through internal waterways, high-tech roads, and/or oceans, while a fourth is a revisionist defense of a temporary barbarian occupation built-to-fail?

You’ll not find many, if any, examples of the Russians or the British tossing people from towers, gouging out their eyes, keeping them in rat and flea infested underground pits, removing body parts and so forth as the result of policy. While extreme things often happen during battle and the darker side of men sometimes gets the better of them, countries or regions outside the control of empires have hardly had a better track record, if not often a worse one.

The more desperate the fight, the more desperate the measures. Neither the Czar nor the Queen was fighting for existence. The Khans were.

Empires have always begun in successful states

The European Union, which Niall Ferguson calls an “Impire” was formed by Italy, France, and Germany, three Axis dictatorship losers of the Second World War (of course this is unfair to Italy, which retained some capability for internal debate during the war).

Lastly, there is nothing more crucial to an empire than its strength. Sheer military might is the backbone of its credibility .

The Romans were unable to militarily pacify Germania. This did not stop the Romans from integrating the Germans into a world order which transcended Rome itself. Just as the Americans lost the Vietnam War but won the Vietnam Peace, the Roman trade system extended past the frontier of the Empire proper, bringing Roman civilization into places the military could not penetrate.

The military formidable but culturally bankrupt Mongolians, by conquest, absolutely failed at their attempt to rule by force.

Every game needs a Referee and we are it.

Just as every undertaking requires a plan?

The individual hand guides markets, so it is so unreasonable to expect an invisible hand to guide nations?

Other commentators also wrote provocatively:

Mark Safranski from ZenPundit opined:

Minimal rule-sets are very economical – fewer strictures to require enforcement ( which has costs) and fewer unintended consequences as the effects of Rule-sets interact. Maximal Rule-Sets sap strength and waste resources ( USSR).

True. However, minimal rule-sets may impose a very high psychological cost. Maximalist pedophilia rulesets may be easier for a state than minimalist pedophilia rulesets, even if they increase terrible crime, because of the human pressure to “do something.”

Jing Who Dares states:

If we see the past as a guide, empire may have brought prosperity but the seeds of their demise were also sown within that success. As the saying goes, prosperity brings complacency, and no matter how prolific the prophets of empire may have been their power and the order they established eventually collapsed under the weight of entropy and chaos only to be succeeded by a new order.

However, the Roman Peace did not bring complacency. It brought internal struggle — a fourth-generation religious movement. Struggle is natural for humanity, so, if anything, prosperity brings non-complacency.

Economic, Political, and Legal Reforms After 1989

I think you need to break down the chart…,” by Chirol, tdaxp, 6 May 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/05/05/from_communism_to_war_and_peace.html.

Chirol made some helpful points on my first and second post-Fall of Communism charts, including

I think you need to break the chart down into the three phases Barnett lists for integration:

Political Change
Economic Change
Legal Change

And as he notes, they can come in different orders all based on which is best for the country at the time

Using my old categories of democracy, authoritarian growth, and stagnation a la North Korea, here we go again:


The diagram identifies the three main types of reforms — economic, political, and legal — as well as the three type of “end states” — communist stagnation, authoritarian growth, and liberal democracy. As before, the timeline begins in 1989 with the fall of world Communism

To start off, a state first decides whether to abandon Communist economics. Every nation but Cuba and North Korea abandon economic Communism. Both Cuba and the DPRK enter communist stagnation, and attempt to find other ways to aquire capital

For a post-Communist economy, the next decision is whether to reform politically. Russia, Serbia, and Poland both chose yes to this, and soon had open elections. Vietnam and Laos declines, keeping the one-party “Communist” state, while China violently demured. States that kept the one-party dictatorship entered the authoritarian growth stage, which continues to this day.

The last stage is whether to have substantive legal reform — the question of if a rule a law is established. Poland and Czechia chose yes, Russia and Serbia chose no. States that don’t quickly face organized attempts to remove the government. These can be convention armed warfare, seperatist movements, Islamic insurgencies, etc. If there is a war, the only known resolution is that the post-Communist regime must lose, and reenter the political reform stage (possibly under international occupation). Without an armed resistance, liberal networks will form which will overthrow the government in a “color revolution.”

I think the most controversial aspect of this chart would be it does not allow for legal reforms to come before political reforms. While some might argue that Chinese legal progress amounts to “importing rule-sets they could now create internally,” this is questionable. The important aspect of legal reform isn’t just better commercial laws — it is the rule of law. China has established a successful regime based on corruption and bribery horizontal control through side payments.

My chart is historical, not speculative. Every path has been completed by at least one state, while states not yet at an end-state can be seen to be on the path. Personally, I believe China will become a liberal democracy. But it’s closest analogue — Wilhelmine Germany — aborted its growth to launch a World War. Hopefully we will be more lucky this time.

The chart is available in Adobe Acrobat, JPEG, and OpenOffice.org 1.9 beta formats.

Evolution from Communism

Chirol at Coming Anarchy is busying graphing the collapse of Communism. Here’s a different model.

Slide 1:


Slide 2:


What’s happening?

The process begins 1989, when functioning Communist Cores existed. The largest of these was the Soviet Union and its satellites, but the Communist Cores extended into China, Korea, and other states. The states in the Cores were tied together through industrial exchange and foreign aid

After the collapse, every Communist state faced a basic question: stay with Communist economics or not? Answering yes were Cuba and North Korea. These Communist states still needed money, and so the next question was how to acquire capital. Cuba opted for peaceful links with Europe and eroticommunism, while North Korea chose its Army-First Juche Idea “threaten to kill everyone” plan.

If a state ditched Communist economics, they still were faced with a Communist/authoritarian political structure. The next question was whether to liberalize politically or maintain “Communist” politics. Keeping the old ways were “communist” China and Vietnam. Both of these states are going through an unsteady process of liberalization while maintaining the authoritarian regime.

Even if a state ditches Communist politics, the journey is still not over. The necessary reforms are painful, and states may continue or ditch reforms policies. Most eastern European states continued on, becoming functioning democracies.

Those states that ceased reforming had to return to repressing their people. The next question is one of competency and execution: were the states effective or ineffective at repression. Those that weren’t engaged in counter-effective repressions or encouraged wars to unify their people. These regimes fell, and their people (such as in Ukraine and Serbia) are now back at the “Maintain Reforms” stage.

On the other hand, Russia is an effective repressor. States like Russia have backslid into the “Communist politics” stage, becoming authoritarian regimes. Will they maintain authoritarianism and grow like China, or ditch authoritarianism and try again?

The only method known to work for creating a full democracy is No to Communist Economics -> No to Communist Politics -> Maintain Reforms. Any other path is speculative in this context.

The chart I created is also available in >PDF and >ODG [OASIS / OpenOffice 2.0] format.

From Communism to War and Peace

Chirol has written a new post-Communism diagram at Coming Anarchy. I responded to his old diagram with one focusing on politics and economics. Here’s one focusing on connectivity, nationalism, and authoritarianism


As with the last post, the process begins 1989, when functioning Communist Cores existed. The largest of these was the Soviet Union and its satellites, but the Communist Cores extended into China, Korea, and other states. The states in the Cores were tied together through industrial exchange and foreign aid

In this diagram, the first choice a Communist state has after the fall of Communism is further disconnect from the world or not? The only state saying yes to this is North Korea, which has lived with its Juche peace ever since.

For countries that desire to reconnect to the world, the next question is whether to embrace nationalism or not. Many states, such as Serbia and China, chose nationalism. For these nationalists ex-Communists, authoritarianism developed naturally. The next choice is vital: is there a war or insurgency? If there is, like in Serbia, the continues until the government faces strategic despair and the people revolt. Once the will to win is gone, peace and democracy rise.

If there is no war, the authoritarian state grows into the outside world. This is the situation enjoyed by Vietnam and China.

The post-Communist non-nationalist can choose whether or not to be authoritarian. Those states saying no in the early nineties included Poland, Czechia, and Latvia. These places immediately enjoy peace and democracy.

However, some of these non-nationalists chose to embrace authoritarianism. Ukraine, Georgia, and Uzbekistan were classic examples of this. The next choice is made for them: does the state face an Islamic insurgency? Those that do find themselves in a very long struggle. Those that don’t will face populations that try to build liberal networks. When these states have peaceful revolutions, like Ukraine and Georgia, they become peaceful democracies. Others, such as Cuba and Belarus, are not yet at this stage.

You can see full versions of the chart by left-clicking on them. Otherwise, you can download them in Adobe Acrobat or OpenOffice.org 1.9 beta format.

Influence v. Source Code

The Eastern Question: Part III,” by Chirol, Coming Anarchy, 3 May 2005, http://www.cominganarchy.com/archives/2005/05/03/the-eastern-question-part-iii/.

Chirol at Coming Anarchy makes a good point about the difference between influence and style. We have nothing to fear from a state that’s in China’s political orbit. We have everything to fear from one that acts like the old China

We need to remember that influence and ideology are different. A country where China has influence through say business interests like Kazakhstan isn’t as dangerous as a country running China’s “code” like Burma or North Korea. The west in the broadest sense is expanding its system, running its source code in more countries and that is part of the Eastern Question. Countries merely competing for influence is another matter entirely.

Thus, in order to maintain not the balance of power, but to maintain peace and international prosperity, we must expand or realign large sections of the world. Thus the latest Eastern Question deals more with the balance of power between stability and chaos than among states. The Cold War era was stable and thus safe. Since it ended, we’ve seen anarchy erupt across the globe. Keeping that in check and molding these regions into stable democracies will be our challenge.

Countries like Russia and China have had to slowly become like us in order to compete with us. All other isms have failed. Liberal democracy has no credible ideological competitors. We can’t fall into the classic trap of “masterly inactivity” we need to be forward thinking and acting.

Well said.