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Havel sees moral need to act on Kim Jong Il now

"Time to Act on N. Korea," by Vaclav Havel, Washington Post, 18 June, p. A29.

Great op-ed in the Post. Havel notes that humanity has found out about genocide in the past through eye-witness accounts, and that we now have the testimony of thousands of North Korean refugees in our possession regarding the amazingly cruel regime of Kim Jong Iló"a man responsible for the loss of millions of lives."

As Havel notes, "[Kim] sustains one of the largest armies in the word and is producing weapons of mass destruction even as the centrally planned economy and the state ideologyóknown as juche, a blend of nationalism and self-relianceóhave led the country into famine."

When these desperate political refugees escape into China, what does it do? It refuses to recognize them as required by international treaties, and forces them back across the border, whereówhen caughtóthese people are thrown into political prisoner gulag camps.

And if these famished people make it into South Korea? As Havel writes, "their presence there flies in the face of that country's official 'sunshine policy,' which, however well-intentioned, is based on constant concessions and appeasement"óa policy that, in the end, "only keeps the leader of Pyongyang in power."

What is Kim's goal in all of this?

"He wants to be respected and feared abroad and to be recognized as one of the world's most powerful leaders. He is willing to let his own people die of hunger, and he uses famine to liquidate those who show any sign of wavering loyalty to his rule. Through blackmail, he receives food and oil, which he distributes among those loyal to him (first in line being the army)."
Sound like any situation you remember from the Persian Gulf across the entire 1990s?

Hmmm . . . food . . oil . . . sanctions . . . lots of innocent people dying . . . ah yes, that would be the UN that so many hope will run the world on its own.

Havel wants a better, more decisive response from the Core. So do I.


Iran nukes or not, it's all about regime change

"Iran's Nuclear Ambitions: Teheran will always want a nuclear option. Regime change can ensure it's not a threat," by Ardeshir Zahedi, Wall Street Journal, 25 June, p. A10.

Good op-ed from Iran's former foreign minister (1967-71ólong before the Shah lost the respect of his people). His point is that there is no question Iran wants and will get the bomb. The only question is whether we want the current regime to have it. An Iran that's moderate like India and opening up to the outside world is not an issue with the bomb. But one that actively exports terrorism around the region, calls for Israel's destruction, and makes no attempt to hide its state support to al Qaedaóthat regime should never get its hands on the nuclear button.


Iraq: the story of "missed opportunities"

"Mistakes Loom Large as Handover Nears: Missed Opportunities Turned High Ideals to Harsh Realities," by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, 20 June, p. A1.

Great retrospective from Post on what went wrong in Iraq. Key points: disbanding the Iraq military and then ending up with one about one-third of the size desired at the point of handover; not hiring Iraqis in huge numbers (as planned and promised) for public works efforts (and not spending that money nearly fast enough); but most of all for not having enough U.S. troops on the ground at the start of the occupation. Overall, the Coalition Provisional Authority blew it by not going for quick victories designed to win hearts and minds, instead dawdling along on long-term projects that were easily derailed once the insurgency picked up speed. To call the plan "naÔve" is an understatement, but it really misses the point. After 15 years of the perverting effect of the Powell Doctrine on the Pentagon's force structure planning, our force is simply not well balanced enough to win in the second half of any "regime change" invasion (the nation-building/peacekeeping half). And when you're that underfunded, underprioritized, and routinely denigrated by the system for that many years, you simply try to cover up your deficiencies by jumping in feet first and hoping for the best.

You can try to blame the Vulcans, or Clinton, but the truth is that the Pentagon did this to itself over the past decade and a half. They have no one to blame but themselves.


India has caught up to China . . . the China of 1990

"An Indian Paradox: Bumper Harvests And Rising Hunger: The World Has Enough Food, But Poor Can't Afford It; Grows Jobs and Crops," by Roger Thurow and Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, 25 June, p. A1.

India is, in many ways, where China found itself at the beginning of the 1990s: they've solved the agricultural sector issues (got enough food), but now they need to really open up the industrial sector for the foreign direct investment that gets the national economy deeply integrated with that of the global economy. That's what China did in the 1990s, and that's why it is the powerhouse it is today. Until India catches up on FDI (it has really only begun to do so in the last few years), it will have rural poor who can't afford to buy the food that exists all around them.

This is why the turn to the Congress Party was unexpected: the rural poor feel left out of the globalization of the Indian economy up to now, which has remained highly isolated from the masses and concentrated in certain service industries. But unless Congress does a better job than the BJP in attracting FDI, it won't matter. Ideology is nice, but money talks.


The security solution in Iraq will be quite harsh now

"Deadly Assaults Push Iraq Closer To Martial Law: Attacks Kill More Than 100; New Government Prepares A Controversial Crackdown," by Yochi J. Dreazen and Greg Jaffe, Wall Street Journal, 25 June, p. A1.

No surprise that the insurgency puts out as much effort as possible as the handover date nears. This strategy is as old as the hills: when the occupier gets ready to leave, ratchet up the violence so you can claim to have driven them out, plus you create such chaos that you improve your chances at grabbing power and instituting your repressive regime.

The bitch for the U.S. right now is that we're committed to keeping a lid on the violence and keeping the interim government in power. Since we have not done well in generating an Iraqi police force or military, we'll end up bodyguarding this regime in some very heavy-handed ways in coming months. None of it will be pretty, but we will learn from it and restructure our military as a result.


Flash! Terrorists fight back in global war on terrorism!

"Errors on Terror," by Paul Krugman, New York Times, 25 June, p. A25.

Bush-hating Paul Krugman rants on. A smart guy but he's gone so far over the deep end on Bush that he's no better than the NYT's Michael Moore on the subject.

Much ado over State Department report on terrorist acts around the world actually increasing in 2003óthe worst total in 20 years. First edition of report claimed much lower numbers, but the definition of what to count was too narrow, so when analysts complained, the numbers were plussed up to reflect a better grasp of reality.

Krugman naturally sees a conspiracyóhe of so much experience in doing this kind of security-issue data crunching over his career.

What I find so amusing is how Bush-haters take such delight in pointing out that there's more terrorism now than before 9/11, as if our finally joining this global war was supposed to result in the terrorists immediately giving up!

Imagine going to FDR in 1943 and complaining that his global war on fascism actually seemed to be backfiring because Japanese and German forces were fighting harder now than before! More than that, you could cite a huge up-tick in their attacks when compared to the period before 7 December 1941! Even worse, American casualties were rising!

Talk about having your head up your ass. And many of these idiots are considered "opinion leaders."


Saudis: "Westerners, protect yourselves!"

"To Alleviate Fears, the Saudis Will Now Allow Foreigners to Carry Weapons," by Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, 25 June, p. A13.

Saudis announce they are creating new rule set for Westerners that transgresses a very old one in the kingdom: they can now carry weapons to defend themselves against terrorists.

This move is designed to make foreign workers feel safer.

Yes, yes, happiness is a warm gun alright.


Tunisia: a classic attempt at "mouse arrest"

"Tunisia's Tangled Web Is Sticking Point for Reform," by Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, 25 June, p. A3.

Nice story about how Tunisian authorities block access to any website they consider subversive, meaning anything that questions the rule of the government. Tunisia pays lip service to the concepts of democratization since 9/11, but monitors email in a wonderfully Orwellian fashion.

Actually, I should complain. I can't tell you how many times I am blocked from accessing websites while at work at the college. My favorite bone-headed example? I am not allowed to visit any "hate sites."

Pretty logical huh? I work at the "war college," but I shouldn't visit any sites that have to do with "hate."

I dunno, maybe I should just focus on the "love" sites . . . oops! Those are off-limits too.

Geez! Tunisia's not looking half-bad when I think about it . . ..


Lula: Brazil realizes FDI is not only good but necessary!

"Brazil Leader Tailors Pitch To Investors," by Geraldo Samor, Wall Street Journal, 25 June, p. A9.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva swept into the presidency of Brazil with the air of a leftist reformer, a man of the people. And yet, he has won plenty of high marks from international observers for his business-friendly domestic reforms.

That's a neat balancing act that says Brazil remains in the Core. Here's the hard part though: "Although Mr. da Silva has won market applause for pursuing sound fiscal policy, Brazil still is struggling to attract foreign direct investment in such things as factories and equipment." The big hold-up according to investors? Government red-tape and poor rule sets on protecting patents and trademarks.

Still, da Silva is right to brag that "in just 18 months in office, we have already passed tax reform, social-security reform. We have approved a regulatory framework for the electricity sector. And Congress is voting on public-private partnerships and a new bankruptcy law."

When the FDI does start to flow, where should it go? No surprise, it's all about infrastructure and logistics to the tune of about $20B a year.

So let me get this straight: assuming you have security that allows your government to function, first thing you do is fix the rules, then that attracts the money from abroad, and then you build up the infrastructure, which in turn ends the bottlenecks on resources, and that'll get your economy growing, which should provide stability and increase marketization?

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

I only wish I had put something like that in my book. Then blow-hard jackasses like Jack Beatty could read it and realize that my vision wasn't just about globalization-at-the-barrel-of-a-gun.



Rebuilding site 6/17 to today

This is a test.


Reading PNM in the White House

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 24 June 2004

Dashing this off because I need to drive up to Providence to the local public radio station up there and appear on tonight's NPR show "On Point." They're pretty much giving me and the book the whole hour, which works out to about 45 minutes with all the news.

Today I got to chat briefly with a White House lawyer who's here at the college for a conference. He read the book, liked it plenty, and wanted to meet me briefly as a result. This fellow told me he sees the book on lots of desks inside the White House, and that he thinks it's being read there with a real eye for long-term strategy.

But of course, he had a bone to pick. Like a lot of people I interact with, he said he agreed with over 90% of the ideas. He just didn't like how I portrayed the USA Patriot Act of 2002 as "frightening" ( a word I do use on page 257) or as a "new rule set" per se. His point was a good one: in many ways, all the act does is extend a host of old legal rules that have been used for years and years regarding a number of "regular" crimes (sexual abuse of minors being one) to terrorism. More than that, the effect of those changes effectively dismantles the information firewall between law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies, something everyoneóincluding the 9/11 Commissionóseems so hot to do.

I replied that this was a "new rule set" for me, in that sense that old rules were being extended to cover what wasósubsequent to 9/11ódiscovered to be a rule set "gap."

We went back and forth over that a bit, but before we broke up, I had to tell him that several reviews of the book tended to view my presentation of the Patriot Act as being highly supportive of its capacity to "remake" the social landscape of the USóin other words, that I was a quasi-fascist who delighted in it.

My new White House friend had to laugh at that one, as I myself often do. We agreed, that it was almost impossible to write anything about the act that does not send the extremists in both parties into fits of paranoid outburstsósuch is the political dialogue of our age.

Today's catch:

Today's page 1 new rule thanks to 9/11

"Form and Function: Disguising Security As Something Artful: Ugly Barriers to Car bombers Put Up After 9/11 Morph Into 'Designer Bollards,'" by Mark Maremont, Wall Street Journal, 24 June, p. A1.

China wants market accreditationónow!

"China Contesting 'Nonmarket Economy' Status," by Charles Hutzler and Qiu Haixu, WSJ, 24 June, p. A15.

Egypt: the forgotten man in the Middle East future worth creating

"Egyptian Aide in Talks on Future Security Role in Gaza," by Joseph Berger, New York Times, 24 June, p. A3.

Better rules or better rulers in Latin America?

"Latin America Graft and Poverty Trying Patience With Democracy," by Juan Forero, NYT, 24 June, p. A1.

Beheadings as the new asymmetrical warfare tool of choice

"Afghan Officials Deny Reports Of Soldiers Beheading Prisoners," by David Rhode, NYT, 24 June, p. A12.

"Assessing a Gruesome Toll After a Rash of Beheadings: A terrorist act called the ultimate symbol of power over an enemy," by Daniel J. Wakin, NYT, 24 June, p. A12.

US to ICC: you can your own way (go your own waaay!)

"U.S. Drops Plan to Exempt G.I.'s From U.N. Court: Political Loss in Council: No Effect Seen for TroopsóOutcome Is Tied to Iraq Prison Scandal," by Warren Hoge, 24 June, p. A1


China wants market accreditationónow!

"China Contesting 'Nonmarket Economy' Status," by Charles Hutzler and Qiu Haixu, Wall Street Journal, 24 June, p. A15.

China keeps losing rulings in the WTO, in large part because it is classified as a "nonmarket economy," which means it is subjected to one standard while market economies are subjected to another. For China to do better in these cases, it needs to be reclassified, something some states are already doing on their ownólike Thailand and New Zealand (not surprisingly, small Asian economies who are adjusting to China's rise are the first to do this).

The U.S. and EU are holding firm for now. As Don Evans, the U.S. Commerce Secretary has argued, China "must stop micromanaging its economy, he said, and roll back controls over large enterprises, raw materials, real estate, the currency, and China's banking system."

Exactly when to give into China's demand is a tricky call, because China has some serious rule-setting ambitions of its own. As the chief negotiator for China's entry into the WTO once told his aides, "China will one day set the rules for others to follow."

Sounds bold, yes? But China needs to grow up a whole lot more to understand the meaning of that claim. Right now China is always arguing about "what the world needs to give China," and that makes sense in many ways given the changes the leadership is engineering there to make their internal rule sets synch up better with the Core's emerging rule sets. And yes, someday China's power in the global economy will mean it too will set some of the rules that others will have to follow. But setting rules is not about bossing countries around, but about enunciating rules that keep things as fair as possible. When China finally gets to the point of being able to enunciate some of those Core rules that define the workings of the global economy, their mindset will have to shift from today's "what can the world do for China" attitude to one that emphasizes "what the world needs from China."

Getting into the latter mindset is what global leadership is all about. China is nowhere near ready for that, although it is making all the right moves to get to that historical space. Let's hope the intellectual maturity arrives just in time, because nobody likes a bossy superpoweróas this current White House has discovered to its regret time and time again.

I say again: globalization comes with rules, not a ruler. Remember that China, and you'll become the country the world needs you to become.


Today's page 1 new rule thanks to 9/11

"Form and Function: Disguising Security As Something Artful: Ugly Barriers to Car bombers Put Up After 9/11 Morph Into 'Designer Bollards,'" by Mark Maremont, Wall Street Journal, 24 June, p. A1.

In my brief, I declare that it is still possible on a daily basis to pick up a major newspaper (Post, Journal, Times) and see "every day some new rule set coming out of the 9/11 experience." I used to note that you could find one every day on page 1, which isn't as true anymore, since most of these rules are fairly boring and thus get stuck many pages into the paper (a lot have to do with record keeping).

So this story tickled my fancy, being in the middle column of the Journal. It simply describes how the second wave of car bomb-barriers is appearing and this second wave sees designers trying not just to hide the obvious functionality of the barriers but actually trying to make them seem artistic.

Now, most will note that this push for car bomb barriers really goes back to Oklahoma City. But like my talk with the White House lawyer, my point is this: after Oklahoma that new rule set applied only to key governmental buildings, whereas after 9/11 it applied to a far wider array of buildings both pubic andómore importantlyóprivate sector. For example, when I was in the new CNN building off Columbus Circle in Manhattan in mid May to do Headline News, Lou Dobbs, and Dolans Unscripted, the first thing I noticed getting out of the car was the high-tech car bomb barriers they had ringing the place.


Egypt: the forgotten man in the Middle East future worth creating

"Egyptian Aide in Talks on Future Security Role in Gaza," by Joseph Berger, New York Times, 24 June, p. A3.

It is easy to forget Egypt nowadays, because it's relatively quiet there. There is plenty wrong with Egypt, like their inability to rotate their leadership regularly, but there is plenty right too, like their ability to keep radical Islamists marginalized. You might argue the two must go hand in hand, and you may be right in terms of keeping the situation from getting any worse, but it's hard to see how Egypt progresses that way.

But it's clear that Egypt, no matter where it is internally in its evolution, has a serious role it can potentially play in improving the security situation in the Middle East. What this article is about is suggesting that Egypt sees itself as a possible patron of security in the Gaza Strip once Israel pulls out and stays behind its security fence. For this new "Berlin Wall of the 21st century"óas I like to call itóto have its desired effect, Israel will need help like this from surrounding states. Of that crew (Egypt, Jordan, Syria/Lebanon), Cairo offers the first best hope of getting something real done.


Better rules or better rulers in Latin America?

"Latin America Graft and Poverty Trying Patience With Democracy," by Juan Forero, New York Times, 24 June, p. A1.

Yet another article declaiming popular impatience with democracy in Latin America, the basic gist being that economic success is not forthcoming fast enough. Focus on the article comes close to matching my map: in South and Central America, every state cited for suffering the biggest backslides on popular support for democracy lies inside the Gapósave for Argentina (suffering its debt crises of recent years).

All this article points out is that security comes first, then economics, and then politics. Democracy is meaningless if you're not secure or if you're so darn economically cut-off from opportunity that you can't put food on the table. The anger and angst captured in this piece is not about rejecting democracy per se, but about demanding better in terms of economic performance. That requires both better rules and better rulers, so when some of these people say "look at what Castro has done in Cuba," they're betraying an ignorance that is stunning. Castro has run Cuba into the ground, and Chavez's nonsense in Venezuela has done little to improve anything there. This is not about turning away from democracy, but about getting the economic rule sets right.


Beheadings as the new asymmetrical warfare tool of choice

"Afghan Officials Deny Reports Of Soldiers Beheading Prisoners," by David Rhode, New York Times, 24 June, p. A12.

"Assessing a Gruesome Toll After a Rash of Beheadings: A terrorist act called the ultimate symbol of power over an enemy," by Daniel J. Wakin, NYT, 24 June, p. A12.

You have an insurgency, and there's no way you're going to expel the highly superior military occupational force. So don't try to fight them, just go after individual civilians from the same country and cut off their heads, broadcasting your murders on the Internet. Pretend to yourself that this act gives you "ultimate power over your enemy." Wage your war of perversity for all it is worth. Tell the people that to cooperate with outsiders is death. Get them so afraid to interact with the outside world that they have no choice but to submit to your rule. Then turn your country into an dictator's paradise where women have to do whatever they're told, kids only get the education you deem they're worth to receive, and you and your elite cronies get to control all the wealth-generating natural resources.

It's a plan, baby. One that's certain to work against a flaccid, degenerate West that runs at the first sight of blood.


On the other hand, if you're trying to establish a legitimate government authority that actually encourages growing mass connectivity with the outside world, then you're careful not to engage in similar behavior, because you certainly don't want to be associated with that sort of brutality. Bad for business, bad for investment, bad for the soul.


US to ICC: you can your own way (go your own waaay!)

"U.S. Drops Plan to Exempt G.I.'s From U.N. Court: Political Loss in Council: No Effect Seen for TroopsóOutcome Is Tied to Iraq Prison Scandal," by Warren Hoge, New York Times, 24 June, p. A1.

U.S. gives up trying to get blanket exclusion for U.S. peacekeeping troops in International Criminal Court. Doesn't mean much since we're not a signatory and have (now) 90 separate bilats with countries all over the Gap that promise their local governments won't sue us in the ICC over any military interventions we may pursue.

We say, we have a good military judicial system to deal with this, and we're right: inside the narrow confines of war we have a good judicial system for dealing with bad acts and bad actors within our ranks. But we do not have a good enough military judicial system for dealing with all the gray zones associated with peacekeeping, or the everything else. Eventually, we'll need two militaries for these two different jobs (war and peace), and those peacekeepers will field will have to come under ICC purview, even as our warfighters never do. Fair is far: war is about disconnecting and peacekeeping is about reconnecting. When you do the latter, you have to let you and your troops be connected to global rule sets, such as those embodied in the ICC.


"Reviewing the reviews" gets reviewed in online pub

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 24 June 2004

eMotion!, an online publication devoted to "automotive/aerospace industries systemic intelligence" just put out a media advisory on their new postings. One of them will be a review of my reviews of my book, apparently pulled from this site. Here's the media advisory text, written by the publisher, Myron D. Stokes:

Good Morning:

Whether we like it or not, the world is indeed, at war. Obviously, not war in the traditional sense ñ it is asymmetric ñ but war just the same. According to my colleague Dr. Sheila Ronis, a national security strategist, ìGlobal war begins with economic crises such as the major problems in Japan, the overheating of the China economy due to its insatiable, and now unstoppable appetite for raw material, and the continued instability within the Middle-East, compounded by the uncertainties of Iraqi War outcome. We are right now contending with macro-economic trends that are outstripping and outpacing any efforts to keep them in check. Crises not dissimilar to these in the 1930s directly led to World War II. Very similar and very dangerous. [Dr. W. Edwards]Deming once told me that Japan went to war because they thought their population was about to starve. Their backs were to the wall, and they felt they had no choice but to pursue this course in view of then existent US economic policies.

ìWar is often the inevitable aftermath of negative economic forces on nations, and we have to be mindful of the difficulties facing multiple nations simultaneously, now, as then. We are seeing in real-time the viability of the ìcoreî and ìgapî scenarios postulated by Dr. Barnett in his book ìThe Pentagonís New Map.î Moreover, the Chinese view the global pie as a zero sum game; their win is a loss for the US in every category of the nationís existence. However, if globalization is properly managed, the entire pie can grow. If it is not managed, that's when the industrial base could collapse. Conversely, the enemy is not globalization, it is, rather, the lack of managing it.

ìThe statement, ëSo goes the economy, so goes the military mightí is axiomatic. A non-linearist would say we are at the ëtipping pointí and unless clear and implementable strategies for preservation of the US industrial base as represented by GM, Ford, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics, Delphi and other core components emerge in the very short term, its relative stability will disintegrate followed by the possible collapse of the US economy.î

The forthcoming analysis "The Disintegration of Japan's Export-oriented Economy" will expand on this theme in addition to emergent Congressionally mandated initiatives designed to address the erosion of the US industrial base.

In the meantime, we present three features of note that are appropriate to our times: "Military Transformation Through Analytical Process" A peer review of the Inter-University Seminar proceedings late last year in Chicago that brought together some of the world's leading scientists, academics, military sociologists, military officers active and retired, and industry executives to discuss the geo-economic impact of 21st Century asymmetric warfare; "Reviewing the Reviews", a brief look at other media analysis, inclusive of Businessweek and the Wall Street Journal, of Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett's "The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in The 21st Century" following our own March 24 review "The Core and Gap" and lastly, an encore presentation of "Crisis on Asimov: A Vision of 2085" a look at the future of transportation derived from the application of Department of Defense "visioning" processes, and which acts as prelude to the a forthcoming University Press of America book by Dr. Ronis "Crisis On Asimov: Strategic Visioning for Governments, Industry and Other Organizations" (revised title). "Asimov" also honors the opening of the new Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle; the brain child of Microsoft Co-Founder and private sector spaceflight pioneer Paul Allen and other noted visionaries.

An interesting example of how the weblog-centric version of the book here on this site generates discussion above and beyond the normal review process.


The Son of PNM rears its ugly headóagain!

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 23 June 2004

The concept of the Son of PNM book keeps lodging itself in my head and I can't get it out. No surprise there, and let me tell you why.

First, I am booking speaking engagements out to next spring already. So I'll be speaking in Canada at a PM-attended security conference, at Sandia National Labs, at a super-computing conference in Newport, at PopTech! in Maine, and the Accelerating Change 2004 conference in Stanford, at the Kennedy School at Harvard, at a conference of CEOs from the world's largest construction companies, and so on and so on. Giving all those briefs over the coming months will keep challenging me to extend the material, because, while I always like the brief to retain certain core concepts, I always want to see the brief as a whole grow and evolve, simply because it keeps it entertaining for me to deliver. Hence, I feel the need to point myself in the direction of Son of PNM.

Second, I am becoming involved with a lot of different military commands in their efforts at long-range planning. Which ones you ask? All the ones you'd logically think are really important right now. What's so exciting on that front is how seriously they're taking PNM as a strategic map to a future worth creating. What's so challenging is that once they put the book down, they want details on how that future will unfold step-by-step for their area of responsibility, or AOR. Because I can't get away with just waving my arms and saying, "Prestoóa future worth creating!" I need to extend myself and the material for these conversations to continue, and that's where it gets interesting indeed.

My agent Jennifer is a very smart person, and so she logically locked onto the idea that the Son of PNM starts where the "ten steps to a future worth creating" left off. And the more I talk with various long-range planners at various commands about how they can integrate my material into their thinking, I find myself working that very same intellectual terrain.

I know now that the Son of PNM is both inevitable and good. But I still know it will be a year before I can write that proposal the way it needs to be written, so I turn Mark Warren (my editor) loose with the Emily Updates in the meantime, even I as will spend a significant portion of my creative thinking time over the next year generating the strategic concepts that will populate the next book.

In short, the story of the Son of PNM will be the same one I've been working on since I first drew up that "alternative global futures" brief back in 1996: the sequence and timing of future global integration. My starting premise now is that you have the Core and the Gap, so the first question is: what is the next area absorbed into the Core.

Answer there is pretty simple: the Middle East. So the questions then become: do this process succeed or fail? If it succeeds, which Core players play the most important roles (and who might seek to counter this process?). If it fails, how will it fail and will that failure be precipitated by, or result in, some portion of the New Core being lost to an alternative rule-set pathway (here we get into some Sam Huntington territory)?

Clearly, the U.S. is the prime player in integrating the Middle East, because it all starts with security. Because it does start with security, Europe sits more on the sidelines, doing business and peacekeeping here and there, but being too much of a head case on immigration to really open up to the region (so long as Turkey can't join EU, the EU can't join in this grand historical integration process).

So, if you survey the landscape, who else can play large in this endeavor? Put down Latin America as being too busy integrating economically with North America and Asia to matter on this one. Africa? Forget about it!

So that basically leaves the New Core pillars with serious vested future interests in the Middle East (in order of magnitude): India, China, Russia.

I put India at top of list due to proximity, historical ambitions, and sheer need for energy. Plus, it's growing economic ties with U.S. and its significant naval force factor in. Moreover, it's great security issue (Pakistan) only reinforces its desire to be a regional security player.

China is next due to magnificent need for energy, and general desire to be accepted as serious global player. In terms of historical ambitions, there's no real record beyond the confines of the Middle Kingdom itself (plenty big enough, as I constantly note: If you already control 1/5th of humanity, who the hell needs an empire?). Proximity is not the question, but distance, as China sits on the end of a long transport chain for energy flows. For China, its security issue is a complete drain (Taiwan), although it does push them in a naval direction, which is helpful, but overall, energy's the big driver.

Russia is last because energy is not the issue, just the opposite. Plus, it's big security issue makes it a bit more gun shy. Yet, the historical record and ambitions here are quite large, thanks to the legacy of the USSR, and since Russia wants to sell energy to everyone it can, itís naturally drawn to the Middle East as a player (just too important a game to ignoreóespecially given all its old Soviet ties to the region).

So you look at Middle East and you posit three pathways: 1) we screw it up big time and no integration occurs either internally (mostly security focused) or externally (mostly network and business focused); 2) we succeed partially (winning the Sunnis countries but losing the Shiites and Iran); and or we succeed in full.

As always, the middle case is most interesting, because it's the most complex and most plausible. So let's say we succeed with Sunni countries but somehow draw a stalemate or worse with the Shiites in generalóbut namely Iran. Does the containment of the "radical Islamic threat" devolve into a containment of Iran-etc? If so, what is the sequence of engagement for my big three New Core powers? Does the U.S. contain an Iran by progressively bringing an India into a larger SWA security alliance? Russia too? Does that alliance expand all the way to China? Or not?

Or do any of these three New Core powers naturally gravitate into a countering-the-US position, thus allying themselves with Iran?

So the plotting of sequences is everything here, as it always is, with the great wildcard being Iran's strong efforts to acquire nukes. Frankly, it's smart on Teheran's part to push that agenda right now, because of everything that's going on. But it likewise locks them into certain pathways of confrontation with the U.S. We might assume all the time and allies are on our side, but that would be wrong. As the world turns to hydrogen, meaning we become more and more interested in natural gas and less in oil, Iran loses little of its important in the mid-term. Iran is the Avis of both oil and gas (meaning the important #2 in reserves), whereas the Hertz designation shifts from Saudi Arabia to Russia.

I say mid-term because there are good indications that natural gas is a whole lot more plentiful (especially when methane hydrates in ocean beds are factored in) than is currently assumed. Since we never really look for gas, we assume it's mostly found with oil, which we do look for. But there is plenty of evidence that gas is a lot more evenly distributed around the planet than that, and the shift to hydrogen is likely to fuel that search.

So back to scenarios, which are naturally layered here. You got three scenarios for the U.S.-led Old Core effort in the Middle East, which play out primarily at the level of individuals (like the GWOT in general). You also have three scenarios for key external variables entering the picture (India, China, Russia), more located at that nation-state level. Then there are the macro, or system-level outcomes: Core enlarged (Middle East added to Core), Core reassembled (some Mideast joins Old Core, but some spins off into some New Core constellation), and Core comes apart (Mideast never absorbed and Core fractures for trying).

That's the big picture of the big picture, which is worth about three paragraphs. Figuring out all the key scenario dynamics is what gets me the Son of PNM.

Today's catch:

The Iran goes nuclear scenario

"For Iraq's Shiites, Faith Knows No Borders," by Youssef M. Ibrahim, New York Times, 23 June, p. A27.

South Korea put to the test

"Killing Wonít Alter Plans for Iraq, Seoul Says," by James Brooke, NYT, 23 June, p. A11.

Do unto others as they would do unto you

"Afghans Behead 4 Taliban," by Reuters, NYT, 23 June, p. A11

On the other hand, immunity for our side is pretty nice

"U.S. Rewords A Resolution On Immunity For Its Troops," by Warren Hoge, NYT, 23 June, p. A10.

Why firewalling off the Gap sometimes makes sense

"Spread of Polio in West and Central Africa Makes U.N. Officials Fear Major Epidemic," by Lawrence K. Altman, NYT, 23 June, p. A8.

A clear sign we're stretched to the max on the GWOT

"U.S. to Offer Incentives to Sway North Korea in Nuclear Talks: Promises of aid in exchange for ending weapons programs," by David E. Sanger, NYT, 23 June, p. A3.

Why do I think Europe will sit on the sidelines?

"What Kicks the Continent to Life? (Not Politics)," by Alan Cowell, NYT, 23 June, p. A4.

MOE on Gap shrinkage

"Croatian Port Trades in Its Old Image," by Tomislav Ladika, Wall Street Journal, 23 June, p. B4A.

The New Core hunger for energyósigns abound

"China to Look Abroad for Natural Gas," by Xu Yihe, WSJ, 23 June, p. A15.

"India to Float A Modest Stake In Electric Utility: IPO Signals New Regime May Pursue Some Initiatives Promoted by Its Predecessor," by Eric Bellman, WSJ, 23 June, p. A15.

Johnógive them the global future worth creating!

"As the Recovery Gains Momentum, Democrats Are Forced to Refocus," by Jacob M. Schlesinger, WSJ, 23 June, p. A1.


The Iran goes nuclear scenario

"For Iraq's Shiites, Faith Knows No Borders," by Youssef M. Ibrahim, New York Times, 23 June, p. A27.

Great op-ed by former NYT and WSJ reporter and one of the guys co-interviewed with me by Rolling Stone, Youssef Ibrahim, suggesting a theme a lot of analysts are pursuing in the current Iraq story: that the big local winner in all of this will be Iran.

Gist of this op-ed is that while Sunnis are all over the dial, so any talk of "united Islam" with them is nonsense, the same is not true for Shiites, who "stick together" like nobody else in the region. Plus, while you can deal with Sunnis by and large, it's a lot tougher with Shiites because of their harsher belief system that focuses (like all traditional ones do) more on the next life than this oneóthus the powerful force that is martyrdom in Shiism. As Ibrahim points out, Shiism was born in defeat and has spent the majority of its existence living with suppressionóexcept in Shiite-dominate Iran.

So say Iran gets the bomb and wields it as the great power of Shiites from across the region: are we naturally buying ourselves a partial victory even if/when we ultimately succeed in Iraq? Are we simply splitting the perceived Middle East into its historical breakdown between Arabs and Persians?