A very good post from Tom on Enterra’s work. Tom’s echoing what I wrote about in describing the need for 5GW — we cannot expect a conscious grand strategy to take us where we need to go. We need to build the conditions such that we win anyway.
On that level, I say, f–k grand strategy in the official sense (but God bless Bob Gates for every day he stays in office). Steve and I have decided to have our own foreign policy, not waiting on the USG but wanting it to catch up ASAP.
That’s why both Steve and DiB are major characters in Great Powers. It’s “Charlie Wilson’s Peace” with the right G.D. ending!
The Sysadmin Industrial Complex will do for nation building what the Military-Industrial-Complex did for government-destroying. Tom’s very lucky to be in at the ground floor.
During the Cold War, we built the “Military-Industrial Complex” to see us through to victory. The Military-Industrial Complex provided the network of civilian workers, Congressional politicians, and bureaucrats who worked together to give the Cold War political support, even when the complicated and divisive consequences of a global war against communism proved too difficult to express publicly.
The “Military-Industrial Complex” did its job. The only real purpose of the Complex know is to make sure our Air Force and Navy are strong enough to remove hick leaders (Milosevic of Serbia, Saddam of Iraq) when needed, and detour China from attacking Taiwan. The first is an important job. The second can be done much more quickly by providing Taiwan with nuclear weapons.
Now it’s time to build up a “SysAdmin-Industrial-Complex” to see us through to victory in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other wars in the third-world Gap. While the Military-Industrial-Complex required us to buy high-tech fighters, high-tech air craft carriers, and other high-tech weapons, the SysAdmin-Industrial-Complex requires us to support and sustain a fighting force that are “never coming home,” that will have such things as housing, health care, and other human services as major expenses, and will require long stays in the military to build up the proper experience.
Support the military. Support the SysAdmin Industrial Complex.
My friend Eddie (of Hidden Unities) sent me “The Long-Term Effects of Africa’s Slave Trades,” a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, by Nathan Nunn (pdf download). In the paper Nunn finds a correlation between a region’s loss of slaves in the Atlantic Ocean, Sahara Desert, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean slave trades and present levels of misery.
Certainly one explanation is that Africa’s misery is the result of the slave trade. Indeed, that conclusion is the title of Nunn’s paper. Another is that regions that are so capital-starved and economically-screwy that they export a substantial fraction of their work force probably will remain capital-starved and economically-screwy.
Whatever the course — slavery, anti-state guerrillaism, or just low general intelligence, the moral of the story is the hard part of shrinking the Gap is ahead of us. Building up a Military-Industrial-Complex and waiting seems to have been enough to globalize eastern Europe and eastern Asia,
However, when it comes to the hard part of globalization — hookin up the Muslim world and especailly Africa — are record is not so good. The world lost the highest-functioning indigienous Systems Administration forces it had in those areas — French Algeria and South Africa — while the Empires of Japan, France, and Britain – which did so much good for so many — were disolved in the wake of World War II.
This is why building a Sysadmin Industrial Complex, as we are currently doing in the United States, is so vital. It’s not fair that merely leaving the deepest parts of the Gap alone will actually help end misery. We need to do more. A Sysadmin Industrial Complex of the military, Congress, and private contractors — resting on and supported by the people — is the only institutional way to move shrinking the gap beyond politics and to results.
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) Africomâ€™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-Martâ€™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!)
Robb, J. (2007). Unleashing the dogs of war. Global Guerrillas. September 2, 2007. Available online: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2007/09/unleashing-the-.html (from ZenPundit).
John Robb has an excellent piece on the Sysadmin-Industrial-Complex, the institutional support needed to expand and defend globalization against terrorism, socialism, and stupidity:
If you think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will end with this US presidency, think again. These wars will likely outlast the next several Presidents. The old Vietnam era formulas don’t apply anymore. The reason is that the moral weaknesses that have traditionally limited the state’s ability to fight long guerrilla wars have dissipated, and modern states may now have the ability and the desire to wage this type of war indefinitely. Here’s what changed:…
[T]he military and its civilian leadership still don’t have the ability to garner wide domestic support for guerrilla wars beyond the initial phases. However, they do have the ability to maintain support within a small but vocal base…
The current degree of corporate participation in warfare makes the old “military industrial complex” look tame in comparison.
If this Long War really came down to a “war of ideas,” we would lose. Fortunately, it won’t. However, it’s still useful and helpful to have a “small but vocal base” to distract and wear down opponents as the broader structure of the Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex fights on.
Outside the Beltwayisn’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.)