Tag Archives: milc

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 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.

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.

Mother’s MILC and the Department of the MISCellaneous

DoD Directive 3000 put in the context of Iraq,” by Thomas Barmett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 4 January 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002778.html.

Viral in-coring: Seoul to Beijing,” by Thomas Barmett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 4 January 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002774.html.

The China trajectory the hawks never see,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 6 January 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002782.html.

In Embracing Victory, I argued that the main engine of globalization is the civilian-led reverse domino theory. A Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex prevents a country from spending the wealth it gains from globalization on a war which would threaten globalization. From time-to-time, however, we want to protect the innocent without having middle class people sacrifice For these times when is needed, we need a Military-Industrial-SysAdmin-Complex to give us the freedom to act. Recent posts by Dr. Barnett support this view.

On the need for a Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex

From clothes to hairstyles, music to television dramas, South Korea has been defining the tastes of many Chinese and other Asians for the past half decade. As part of what the Chinese call the Korean Wave of pop culture, a television drama about a royal cook, “The Jewel in the Palace,” is garnering record ratings throughout Asia, and Rain, a 23-year-old singer from Seoul, drew more than 40,000 fans to a sold-out concert at a sports stadium in Beijing in October.

But South Korea’s “soft power” also extends to the material and spiritual spheres. Samsung’s cellphones and television sets have grown into symbols of a coveted consumerism for many Chinese.

Christianity, in the evangelical form championed by South Korean missionaries deployed throughout China, is finding Chinese converts despite Beijing’s efforts to rein in its spread.

For a country that traditionally received culture, especially from China but also from Japan and the United States, South Korea finds itself at a turning point in its new role as exporter.

You laugh, but when you’re moving as fast as China, you’re bringing up a whole lot more than incomes; you’re raising an entire society, in effect schooling it on how to behave with its new-found wealth.

I stick with my prediction in the “Blogging the Future” afterward in BFA: we will be amazed at how religious China is within a generation. And we’ll have South Korea to thank for it.

This is why the Reverse Domino Theory is Barnett’s most important strategy. We must keep encourage China to grow richer and discourage China from growing more belligerent. Encouraging China to open up to her neighbors let’s us do the first part of this. Maintaining a Leviathan that can easily blow the Chinese fleet out of the water is the second. And we maintain a Leviathan with a Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex which incentivizes politicians to keep our “big stick” strong.

Dr. Barnett correctly sees where China is going

Me, I see a clear trajectory with China: day-in and day-out it slowly but surely opens up its precious “communist” economy to outside economic influence and connectivity. Its political leadership, which is clearly autocratic, increasingly lets that process of growing connectivity drive a comprehensive and profound transformation of its internal economic rule sets, while trying desperately to keep itself insulated from the pluralistic impulses that process inevitably unleashes throughout society, but especially among the youth.

Our Leviathan is like mother’s milk to peacefully rising China: the MILC of our Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex. Instead of trying to “shake” the greed from our system, the MILC funnels it into deterring a violent China from ever emerging.

On the Need for a Military-Industrial-SysAdmin-Complex

In the future, there is always going to be a need for a lot of deployable civilian capacity,” said Jeb Nadaner, deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations. “Think of all capabilities you need in stability missions.” He envisions the new State Department office coordinating contributions from departments as diverse as Treasury, Commerce, Justice and Agriculture.

Almost like a virtual department? Hmm, my dream for the DoEE.

Instead of a shapeless, “virtual” Department of Everything Else, Barnett’s should focus on the need and not the obvious bureaucratic solution.

The need is a lot of deployable capacity for nation-building-type work. We need networks of private sector security contracts. The Department of Defense should be the hub for this, but saying it will have “departments as diverse as Treasury, Commerce, Justice and Agriculture” is like saying “A Free Market is run by bureaucrats as diverse as Treasury Commerce, Justice, and Agriculture.”

For everything else, we don’t need a department. We need a MISC: A Military-Industrial-SysAdmin-Complex.

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