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« Inside men | Main | Column 140 »

Director's Commentary On Chapter Seven: The Network Realignment: The Rise of the SysAdmin-Industrial Complex

I acknowledge in the endnotes Dan Abbott's contribution of this clever phrase. I had been saying for years that I worked the military first, industry second, and Congress third, and my interactions with Lockheed Martin over their acquisition of Pacific Architects and Engineers had certainly pushed me into thinking about the relatively responsive evolution of the private sector toward this end (indeed, just about every interaction Enterra Solutions has with its many corporate allies proves this point in spades), but I hadn't picked up on the intellectual requirement to give that evolution an endpoint description, which Dan did.

In my usual "six lenses" approach to global change (I had originally considered writing six realignment chapters, but then collapsed social and environmental into a "strategic realignment chapter"--next up), I call this one the technology basket, but given what I wanted to say here, the modifier "network" seemed far better and more descriptive.

Page tripping:


Last line: "We only know that it wants . . . everything! This is inspired by Spock's description to Kirk of V'ger's insatiable desire to know--paraphrasing here--the answer to the questions "Is this all there is? Is there no more?" in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.



This is clearly a mixing of Thomas Friedman's superempowered individual and that documentary about McDonald's called "Super Size Me".

The series of questions in the first para come right out of the PNM:BFA brief.


Again I use that bit from Stanley Hoffman: questions he posed to me in my PhD orals at Harvard in 1987. He was trying to spare me from a hostile--and truly doofus--line of questions posed to me by a young assistant prof named David Kramer--a serious asshole.


I lie a bit here. My lit agent, Jennifer Gates, no longer lives in Mass. but in New York state, but it worked better for me to keep her in Mass.


Citing the example of the French bank losing $7B on a rogue trader now seems picayune compared to the Madoff scandal.


I really like the "walled-garden" analysis of AOL's rise and fall. I think it's hugely instructive as we realize the need to allow governments/societies that rapidly join globalization some measure of content control--i.e., it's totally natural for the first generation but it will also naturally fade away with subsequent ones.


The Fosdick quote was something I spotted in the National Portrait Gallery sometime--I believe--in 2007 when I had an extra afternoon and was staying in a nearby hotel. It is, given my historical bent, arguably my favorite art museum in the world after the Hermitage in St. Pete. I blogged the quote the second I saw it so I would remember it for the book.


We should never underestimate how much the rest of the world (outside the "sophisticated" parts) detests our profusion of pornography.


This section clearly plays off John Robb's signature concept and combines repurposed material from my Scripps column on him and the short profile I wrote for Esquire's "best and brightest" issue. There was, by design, almost no overlap of material across those two pieces. I was looking to bulk up as much as possible for this section of the book.

On the issue of U.S. military mini-bases in old colonial facilities in Africa, recall my pix from Camp Lemonier in Djibouti: the shots of French Foreign Legion drawings of various of their comrades.


Taleb's book is very good, but if I get tagged for arrogance and self-absorption on PNM, he is simply unabashed about his self-love in this one.


Speaking of another monster ego, Marc Sageman, if you ever get the treat of meeting him, is simply amazing. I spent a week with him at Special Operations Command (described in BFA) doing a big-brain think-ahead with Peter Schwatz and Orson Scott Card (correct sequence?). I imagine Taleb would seem a shrinking violet if the two were put side-by-side. Sageman, who is brilliant, begins almost every statement with an interjection to the effect, "What no one here seems capable of understanding is . . .." You couldn't help grinning every time that guy opened his mouth. He was Wallace Shawn's Vizzini in "Princess Bride" and everyone around him was the dumb giant or Montoya.


The Descartes quote came from a reader's comment on the blog.


I owe this concept's origins to Steve DeAngelis' constant tutoring on the larger meaning of the Patriot Act and Sarbanes-Oxley. Once I got that down in my head and the product scandals started in China, it was an easy skip of logic to this section.


This is the Vonne Mei/dairy column repurposed. This was most definitely written with an eye to later using it in the book. Again, all those columns allowed me to pre-write the book in very succinct bits, plus keep my column's tone on a clear path week to week.


The phrase "future farmers" is an obvious reference to the group, Future Farmers of America (FFA). FFA was big in my high school. In fact, my first public speech (on the Green Bay Packers' history, no less) was at an FFA-sponsored event at the permanent facilities of the Grant County Fairground in Lancaster, WI. Boscobel, my hometown (but not my birthplace), sits in the northern slice of Grant County, but the Barnetts have virtually as much history in Lancaster as in Boscobel. For example, my grandpa J.E. was born and grew up there, helping his old man run his livery stable. J.E., after serving in the Marines in WWI (MP at Parris Island), took a year of law school and then ditched the degree to simply take the WI bar exam. When he died in 1982 (just after I met Vonne), he was the oldest practicing attorney in Wisconsin.


The nano stuff at Oak Ridge National Lab is truly fascinating.


The bit about the national security community being interested in America spreading its nets/transparency across the Gap: since most of my ideas across my career have involved the spreading of networks for intelligence gains, I have always been fairly popular (not famous, but liked) by the intelligence community, meaning I've always enjoyed a lot of support from it.

It was neat to see how well my vision matches up with the Wikinomics book--hand in glove.


This is a key attribute of grand strategy and the grand strategist: you go with the major flows, meaning you're economically deterministic and technologically opportunistic. Put it on my gravestone, spreading my ashes an inch deep and a mile wide!


Just before I started writing in late January 2008, I spent a couple of days at a Strategic Command workshop on the search for new deterrence with John Robb and Mike Vlahos (first time I met John F2F; Mike is an old friend who at one point had the office next to mine at the Center for Naval Analysis at its old Ford Ave address). I gave the brief, and later wrote about a ten-page think-piece, large chunks of which I repurpose here. I took the job for the money and for the spur I knew it would give me in writing ahead on the book, as this section was already set in my table of contents.

But the opening bit in this section is totally a description of a retired military mindset I often run into at Oak Ridge. Good example: a long discussion about how America imported something like half its fertilizer and how that was a strategic vulnerability that could be exploited by a near-peer competitor in future war! That scenario just bled plausibility, making the discussion truly pointless.


I used that Sherlock Holmes' bit about the dog that did not bark in a report I co-authored with Gary Federici, a big influence on my approach to networks, at the Center for Naval Analyses in 1997 that was titled, "Information Warfare Training in Tempo Brave 96: The Dog that Did Not Bark." TB was a big annual series that I helped referee and judge with a team of CNA analysts at Pacific Command twice (1995 and 1996).


I think I coined that "death of ORCON" phrase as a homage to the Star Trek episode, "The Return of the Archons." Landrieu! Landrieu! The notion is a nutshell definition of intelligence reform: the end of originator-controlled access, which means the intell agency that created or originated the intelligence often restricts access to it by other agencies, thus reducing information sharing and the capacity of the intelligence community as a whole to "connect the dots."


I met Rod Beckstrom right after the TED performance (the taped one that's online) in 2005, when he approached me about the ideas he and his partner Ori Brafman had for a book they wanted to publish. I gave them my agent, Jenn Gates, who successfully sold the Starfish book. Rod later took an unusual government post related to intelligence and networks.

(320) The bit about "blending the best and discarding the rest" is inspired by a line uttered by one of the card players in a scene from David Mamet's movie, "House of Games": When he loses a hand, he says, "It happens to the best, it happens to the rest."

Obviously, the bit about "Anything you can do, I can counter faster; I can absorb anything better than you" is a play on the old Broadway song.

The big idea about Americans loving paradigm shifts and simply living for change is an essential definition of who we are as a people. Everyone who came here gave up their entire world to reinvent themselves here. That instinct lives in our DNA. It's why we move so often inside the U.S. Vonne and I have it bad.


The opening bit about the total Hegelian "flip" (as in, Marx turned Hegel on his head) is absolutely true. The Netted Age of world history is just beginning, thanks to this supreme change in how infrastructure gets developed in emerging markets. Indeed, it will define the future of my career and the success of my company, Enterra Solutions.


The four reasons why American companies need to be interested in the great globalization build-out: this comes right out of my consulting work with global corporations.


I was surprised the caveats sequence survived Mark's edit, but they were the only places I deal with the Bretton Woods organizations (IMF, World Bank), nukes (which I deal with glancingly elsewhere) and anti-globalization in the West.


The bit about "From here on out, there's no dictating, just negotiations" is another one of those we-have-to-cooperate statements that often get lost in readers' interpretations that "Barnett is always going on about how America has to lead in everything!"


This was the one section I feared might be cut in full by Neil because it's such a clear advertisement for the company, but it wasn't and that was correct, because it's also essential to my book's logic and a great story to tell. I decided to do the ‚Ñ¢ thing here and nowhere else, because if the trademark thing kept appearing over and over again, it would have been annoying to the reader--plus distancing.

Using the term "reengineering" clearly reflects my years of working with USAID as a consultant on the big institutional reengineering effort inspired by then Vice President Al Gore in the mid-1990s. I worked primarily with Africa Bureau's top thinkers, and eventually and invariably, the vision I helped develop was all about taking advantage of IT advances to change the way USAID planned and operated, in addition to shaping its goals for spreading networks in Africa. In short, I spent years getting my mind around these Gap-shrinking ideas. They define my entire career.


I started briefing the concept of DiB in my main brief about the time BFA came out in late 2005. Steve saw it when I briefed the Joint Warfare Assessment Center about six months later, and said he had also been thinking about such ideas across his career, and so we started talking about it with each other and then eventually with Pentagon officials involved in Afghanistan. It went nowhere as a concept, so much so that I distinctly remembering Steve lamenting our lack of thought-leadership success in the summer of 2006, noting that our Board was getting impatient and felt like I was a bad influence on Steve and the company (i.e., wasting their money). Now, of course, DiB is the centerpiece of Enterra's work and revenue. The story shows you have to stay with it when you're an entrepreneur, and that both Steve and I are fairly stubborn guys about ideas we believe in.


The first paragraph in this section is basically the nutshell definition of why I am in the private sector now. The job I want simply does not yet exist in the government.


This backstory on DiB is a mini-PNM on "The story of Steve and Tom."

This is the only place in either BFA or GP that I mention my being fired by the Naval War College--i.e., when I was strongly encouraged to resign.


My old standard about "connectivity drives code, and code enables peace." Bit jargony, but it's my favorite expression of the concept.


At top, my favorite quick-and-simple explanation of Enterra. I've done it thousands of times in business meetings.


The human-body response analogy is inspired by the "Walking with Dinosaurs" series from the BBC.

"Rules smart enough to rule themselves" is something I coined. Bit cute, but very evocative, I think, regarding Enterra's technology ambitions.


This is another favorite analogy that I've used in thousands of business F2Fs.


The ballad of Steve and Tom resumed . . .

I call the subdivision analogy my ode to our custom homebuilder Kent Franklin. I wrote GP in the house that Kent built. An amazing guy who's taught me a lot.


DiB as globalization connectivity with the rules baked in is a during-the-writing brainstorm that leverages a key Steve term, "with the rules baked in."

I added this section on sovereignty services during the last substantive edit. It repurposes a column I wrote just before that leverages Enterra's work with the Kurdish Regional Government. I coined the phrase "sovereignty services space." I suspect Enterra has trademarked it by now.


The Jed Clampett bit shows what a child of sixties TV I am, although I watched the show primarily in syndication on late-afternoon TV: 5pm local out of Dubuque IA. What is truly funny to me is that our British lawyer in Iraq has the last name Drysdale. Piers is an amazing character: just up and left a Brit law firm in London to make his mark in the frontier-ish, post-war situation in Iraq. Came with a laptop and business cards and had no sense of what was possible, but he's made a thriving business out of filling in that slice of the sovereignty services space.


This section repurposes chunks from the Enterra white paper that Steve and I co-authored and co-posted on our respective blogs way back when. My slidemaster and Enterra colleague Bradd Hayes made a lot of this text happen in its first draft, so credit is due.


This part of my description of Enterra's work in Iraq was the last stuff inserted into the manuscript. Clearly, the work continues to expand and evolve, but we had to cut off the description at some point.


The difference between a quagmire and a virgin market is a matter of business perspective.


I was really happy here to use a quote from Chet Richards, in addition to the historyguy99 comment from the blog.


Another key summarizing bit: "We can't secure this most fantastic victory--a truly global liberal trade order--by demanding states leapfrog from their sheltered, disconnected past into an immediate present that matches our level of globalization connectivity, our level of free markets, and our level of political pluralism--all at once.


The Lockheed storyline is not only true, I actually undersell it by a ways. It one of my proudest examples of influence.


But here I issue the standard disclaimer of the self-aware grand strategist: you get there first with the idea but you can't take anybody anywhere that doesn't make sense to them--and in the private sector you can talk them into anything that doesn't make business sense.


The big version of the Harry Ulrich story that appeared in the "top 100 ideas" issue of Esquire in the fall of 2007. I wrote a much bigger version of the piece than what got into the magazine, and I fully expected at the time of writing it that I would use it in the book. Ulrich and I go way back to my early days at the Center for Naval Analyses in the early 1990s when he was a commander and I was a rank-and-file analyst. He was my last naval, direct-report superior (as deputy director) in the old Strategic Policy and Analysis Group (SPAG) that had been created by the Chief of Naval Operations as a special think tank for strategic nuke issues and then was later absorbed by CNA once the Cold War ended. I was SPAG's last hire as it was being absorbed and Harry was SPAG's last naval officer to serve as deputy director. At the time he thought I'd go nowhere because I was such a smart-ass and so disrespectful to senior officers and I thought the same thing about Harry, telling him he'd never become an admiral with that sassy attitude! Of course, he became a four-star, but Harry was right about me: I was never going to rise in CNA. Current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen served with Harry in the Med and a lot of his thinking about a "1000-ship navy" stems from his collaboration with Harry. Harry is like that: he spurs new ideas in others, and he's very generous about that.


The section ends with a repurposed column on Macedonia's evolution. I wrote that column as a clear write-ahead for the book, but I forgot to expand it to include my favorite bit about the "Invest in Macedonia" ad: the concentric-circles map that--at first glance--makes you think of missile ranges and instead is about showing how quickly you can go from Macedonia to a ton of consumers in the EU.


I like, as always (because I put a lot of thought into them), the last line in the chapter: "You want a different world? Build a different toolkit."

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