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The new hi-lo mix is Leviathan + Sys Admin

ìArmy Used Speed and Might, Plus Cash, Against Shiite Rebel: Battleís Tactics Studied as a Model for the Future,î by Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, New York Times, 27 June, p. A1.

Great story about how the First Armored Division recaptured a string of towns in southern Iraq that were loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr:

ìAs described by top commanders in Iraq and senior policy makers in Washington, the campaign was a mix of military tactics, political maneuverings, media management and a generous dollop of cash for quickly rebuilding war-ravaged citiesóa formula that, if it survives the test of time, could become a model for future fighting against the persistent insurrections plaguing Iraq.î
Whatís so fascinating about this approach is that the rapid switch to Sys Admin was factored in from the start. Not only was the krieg full of blitz, but so was the follow-on nation-building.

When Iím told that the Sys Admin function is a pipe dream, because you canít expect a small force to be able to do both the small-scale fighting and the nation-building without putting the troops at too much risk (the other half of the Powell Doctrineóor ìoverwhelming forceî at all cost), you read about an operation like this and you know we simply have no idea how good our people could be at this sort of follow-on stuff once we really give them the chance to both experiment and learn.

Iíve said it before and I say it again: the Iraq war proved the Leviathan force was essentially transformed, but the Iraq occupation transforms the transformation by shifting the future of experimentation in the direction of the Sys Admin function andóeventuallyóthe Sys Admin force.


A womanís right to vote . . . inside the Gap

ìOut of Sight, Afghan Women Still Register to Vote,î by Carlotta Gall, New York Times, 27 June, p. A1.

Interesting story about how much harder it proves to be to get Afghan women registered to vote than men. Guy registration team pulls into town with 300 households and has everyone signed in within 3 days.

Female registration team pulls in on same day but has a much slower time of it. Why? Women rarely leave home compounds, so unlike the guys who simply assemble as required, the women must be visited by the registration teamóhousehold by household. And you just know this registration team is dressed as conservatively as possible, otherwise ìthey would throw stones at us.î

This door-to-door service is a simple compromise with tradition. In certain ultra-conservative Pashtun regions women simply never leave the house.

But these women will vote, and thatís all that matters for now.

[QUICK NOTE: The Sunday Times had a story about a bus carrying voter registration teams being bombed by the Taliban. Two women on board the bus died. Whichever god you worship, those two women were doing his/her best work.]


Koreas come closer: ìThe devil made us do it!î

ìKoreas Sidestep U.S. to Forge Political and Pragmatic Links,î by James Brooke, New York Times YT, 27 June, p. A1.

ìU.S. Reports Scant Progress in Talks With North Korea,î by Joseph Kahn, NYT, 27 June, p. A3.

The two Koreas are rapidly dismantling the propaganda-blasting hardware thatís lined the DMZ for many years, blasting each side with messages that neither listened to.

Just another sign of how the two sides are coming together. Kim Jong Il hasnít changed much at all. On the one hand, he lets little experiments of marketization bloom here and there, but on the other hand he still stonewalls after the recent horrendous rail explosion disaster that left hundreds maimed, refusing to let aid workers come into the country to treat the wounded. Kim talks a nicer tune to the South Koreans, but still engages in major-league narcotics and counterfeit currency trafficking all over Asia. His gulag camps are teaming and desperately starving peasants still risk life and limb to escape, but heh! The next generation of South Korean youth think heís not half bad!

So South Korea becomes the biggest aid, trade, and tourism source, and Seoul becomes Pyongyangís biggest apologist around the world.

Why canít America just leave this lovefest alone?

Iíll tell you why. The harder the line we push the more South Korea finally begins to take some responsibility for the peninsula as a whole, instead of outsourcing all the security stuff to the Americans. This country should have been reunited at the same time the rest of the socialist bloc fell apart. This leftover from the Cold War needs to become Asiaís problem and thus Asiaís solution. So the harder the U.S. line, the more Seoul will step up.

In the end, Seoul must be the biggest player in the six-nation team that ends Kimís maniacal regime. If young South Koreans who today are convinced that America is the real danger on the peninsula later claim that the reunification was pursued simply to halt ìthose crazy Americansî from starting the war, then so much the better.

Go ahead Seoul: tear down that DMZ!


Naw, Russia and China with no strategic interests in a GWOT

ìPolice in Ingushetia Tell Of Rebel Assailantsí Skill And Lethal Ruthlessness: Attacks by bands of Islamic insurgents were well planned and coordinated,î by C.J. Chivers, New York Times, 27 June, p. A5.

ìChina Pays a Price for Cheaper Oil: Sulfur-Laden Fuels Contribute to Growing Pollution Problem,î by Keith Bradsher, NYT, 27 June, p. B1.

The Russians are getting worried that the Muslim insurgents theyíre facing down south are looking more and more professional and organized. On NPR Thursday night the Atlantic Monthlyís senior editor Jack Beatty mocked my notion that the U.S. and Russia might have common interests in a Global War on Terrorism against Islamic extremists, saying they were too busy with their own Islamic problems. But guess what? When that problem starts looking way more organized than it did a while back, the overlap of interests might seem a bit more apparentóeven to magazine editors.

As for China and energy, surely thereís no overlap there with a GWOT which has an avowed goal of transforming the Middle East? Higher oil prices mean the ìsweetî stuff (lower sulfur content and thus less pollutive) goes to the highest bidders, which doesnít include China. So they get by primarily by buying the cheaper ìsourî stuff with higher sulfer-content. What that pinch does to China is raise its already disastrously high pollution content in major urban areas. Think thatís gonna matter in a country facing a five-fold increase in cars in the next two decades?

No Mr. Beatty, China has no interest in helping America bring stability to the Middle East. None whatsoever.


Exporting insecurity is Michael Mooreís calling card

ìAll Hail Moore: Around the world in 80 insults,î by David Brooks, New York Times , 27 June, p. A27.

[webmaster's note: Movie Review: Fahrenheit 9/11 by Thomas P.M. Barnett]

Brooks really tears into Michael Moore in this column, primarily by quoting the stuff he routinely peddles abroad in Europe:

ì[Americans] are possibly the dumbest people on the plant . . . in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of human anatomy].î

ìWe Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We donít know about anything thatís happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing.î

ìThatís why weíre smiling all the time. You can see us coming down the street. You know, ëHey! Hi! Howís it going?í Weíve got that big [expletive] grin on our face all the time because our brains arenít loaded down.î

ìYouíre stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe.î

ìShould such an ignorant people lead the world?î

ìDonít go the American way when it comes to economics, jobs and services for the poor and immigrants. It is the wrong way.î

ìThe motivation for war is simple. The U.S. government started the war with Iraq in order to make it easy for U.S. corporations to do business in other countries. They intend to use cheap labor in those countries, which will make Americans rich.î

ìThe Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ëinsurgentsí or ëterroristsí or ëThe Enemy.í They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will growóand they will win.î

Staring into that fat bastardís wide-open mouth is like looking into the abyss of the most backassward, dumbed-down thinking about economics, globalization, and Americaís role in the world. He truly does epitomize the fat, ignorant, ugly American abroad far more than he could ever realize. And he gives the people what they want.


Declaring victory for ìyour mumís militaryî in UK

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 26 June 2004

Approximately one month following my interview with Alec Russell, DC bureau chief of the London-based Daily Telegraph, here is the resulting article finally. The length of time for him to generate the piece was clearly tied to all the other sources he tapped for either supporting or dissenting views.

Daily Telegraph

June 26, 2004

US military faces future as Jekyll and Hyde force

(Filed: 26/06/2004)

The idea that an army makes war and makes peace is gaining ground, writes Alec Russell in Washington

The sprawl of neat, identikit Virginian suburbs south-west of Washington is familiar to any aficionado of Cold War thrillers: this is the heartland of America's "military-industrial complex". It is here that military and intelligence chiefs make the decisions that shake - or at least shape - the world.

And it is here that, early one steamy morning recently, a dozen top officials and analysts gathered in a glistening plate-glass office block for a briefing that was to shake them to their core.

They had come to hear a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and former teacher of Marxist studies argue that the American military should be split in two. The first, dubbed "Leviathan", would fight. The second, the "System Administrators", would rebuild failed states to pre-empt crises and so help secure America.

Together they would reshape the "Gap", a swathe of the world stretching across Africa and the Middle East, and much of Latin America and south-east and central Asia.

Tom Barnett, a professor at the US Naval War College, "packages" his message with a mix of very "un-Pentagon" allusions from Monty Python to Star Trek. But any shock at his zany approach is quickly overshadowed by the reaction to his thesis. It is, he concedes, an explosive idea.

"It's a generational thing," he said after a lively opening session. "A lot of the guys who fought this were the oldest in the room. They say it's their 'goddamned' army and they fear it's going to be turned into a bunch of peacekeepers.

" 'You want us to take someone down, tell us who it is and we'll go do it,' they say. 'Let us remain a warrior force. Don't screw us up'."

But with the American military clearly struggling in Iraq, his radical solution to the Pentagon's dilemma in how to confront the post-September 11 world is not seen as the heresy that it would have been a few years ago. His briefing has made its way through the upper levels of the Pentagon to the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary.

If you walk into the Pentagon's "transformation" headquarters, carrying Prof Barnett's book, The Pentagon's New Map, officials nod and say "ah, the book" - even if in some other parts of the Pentagon officials snort when you mention its name.

"There comes a time in history when rule sets are out of whack," says the professor. "There isn't any situation we can't go into where we can't run up a score of 100 to nothing at half-time. The problem is that we have a first half team and don't invest in the second half.

"We don't have any four-star generals working the second half. There are no four-star military police generals. Why? Because their work has been seen as a sideshow, an attitude that many in the Pentagon may be regretting given the scandal over prisoner abuse in Iraq.

"Leviathan will be like a metropolitan Swat team. They go in and do their stuff and as soon as the smoke clears they are out of there. Then there will be a force that is closer to society. It is 'your mum's military'. Its members will be older, married, more educated.

"In Iraq now, guys who aren't built for war-fighting are being forced to do it. I get calls from the corps of engineers out in Iraq and they're saying, 'Thank God somebody said this'."

Mr Barnett has expounded his theories at a time of extraordinary change for the American military. There are plans to cut by nearly half the 70,000 troops based in Germany by withdrawing the First Infantry and First Armoured divisions and replacing them with a brigade. Over the next two years about a third of the 37,000 troops in South Korea are being withdrawn.

The redeployments are in part a response to the changing nature of the military threat to America since the end of the Cold War. But they also reflect the zeal for radical change that marked Mr Rumsfeld's arrival in 2000 for his second stint as secretary of defence - his first was under President Gerald Ford - and the difficulties in Iraq.

The Rumsfeldian vision has not been well received in the Pentagon. Many uniformed officers see him as too overweening, and view his revolutionary proposals for cuts and changes with deep suspicion.

"I smile when I hear what is going on now," said one former high-ranking general. "Almost every sec def has spoken of transformation and yet their talk ends up full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.

"There is an institutional bias to keep things as they are. A lot of things Rumsfeld has agreed will drop dead if he leaves. And there are an awful lot of people who will be pleased to see him go. He came in saying, 'No more of this or that'."

Yet the course of events in Iraq and the need for rapid reaction forces across the globe have given an impetus to calls for change. "This is the age of the small, the fast and the many," said Retd Vice-Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, the head of the office of transformation in the Pentagon. "We are moving away from the slow, the ponderous and the few."

The admiral has backed the Barnett vision, even if his experience suggests he is more of a natural "war-fighter" than a "nation-builder". And while a formal division of the army appears far-fetched, in light of the mishandling of Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion, the need for a radical overhaul of the army's ancillary units is undeniable.

Michael O'Hanlon, a senior analyst at Brookings Institute, said: "Barnett has already won. He should declare victory. It's not so much that he won the argument. Iraq won the argument for him."

This is not the first time that Prof Barnett has been "ahead of the curve". In 1991, as a young analyst, he briefed top admirals on the need to "embrace" the Soviet navy. Such was the outrage of his audience he had to break off his lecture.

"It went down like a lead balloon. Several admirals questioned my sanity. One wondered aloud if I was a 'pinko' or 'just plain stupid'. That got a lot of laughs and immediately my credibility was shot to pieces."

Six months later the Soviet Union was in ruins and he no longer looked so daft.

COMMENTARY: Not much to complain about in the piece. Itís actually the most well-pitched article yet on my ìinfluence.î I say that because Russell stresses less my pull with people and more the simple pull of the vision. In other words, it ainít about influence, but accuracy. If the vision is accurate, you should be able to spot the change.

I did like the bit about ìyour mumís militaryî: a little bit of UK editing on that line. I also like the reference to ìthe book,î as it is described inside of the Office of Force Transformation. That makes me feel very good indeedólike I delivered the goods that Cebrowski originally hired me to generate.

The OíHanlon quote is good too (the man is a high-quality quote machine), because it emphasizes the particular reality of the Leviathan/Sys Admin part of the vision: the failures in the Iraq occupation elevate that concept from whacko to imminently real. How do I know? Out of the many examples, hereís one I can openly cite: I was just asked to give the keynote address to Joint Forces Commandís first big lessons learned workshop to explore the new reality of postwar ops.

But declare victory? Hardly.

All this does is start the conversation and get the ball rolling. Iíve legitimized and given voice to something that must happen. Taking credit is a bit much; visions are like giving somebody with very poor vision a new pair of glasses that makes everything clear: they still have to do all the real work themselves, even if you get credit for pointing your finger in the right direction beforehand.

So buckle up, the real transformation of the U.S. military is just beginning.


The "total psychopath" gets testy on National Public Radio

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 25 June 2004

Last night on NPR's "On Point" show got a bit testy, largely because their in-house analyst, Jack Beatty, senior editor of Atlantic Monthly, insisted on constantly declaring all my ideas "incoherent," "impossible" and "dubious." Had he actually bothered to read the book? Naw. That would have interfered with his "expert analysis." Instead he glanced over the WSJ story and the op-ed I wrote for the Post.

It was an amazingly bold performance by Jack: pontificating with absolute assurance about how amazingly dangerous my vision was even though he hadn't actually bothered to look the book over. Makes you wonder if he also reviews movies he hasn't seen, plays he hasn't attended, and albums he's never listened to.

So, instead of real analysis from Jack, I got hyperbolic soundbites like "perpetual war."

Hey, wait a tick! Didn't I write an entire chapter about how to body slam blowhards who spout nonsense phrases when they have no command of the facts on the ground?

Good example: Beatty says my "diagnosis is dubious." He notes that the 9/11 terrorists did not come from unglobalized Afghanistan, but from very globalized Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon. He cites the numerous Victoria Secrets shops in mall frequented by the rich elite in Riyadh (sounds like some Tom Friedman in-depth analysis, yes?), the numerous Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets in Cairo (eat some KFC, become a finger-lickin' American instantly!), and Lebanon as the most cosmopolitan nation in the Middle East (hmmmm, in 1970 yes, but after two decades of civil war? Jack needs to visit Beirut again).

So I come back with a slew of statistics on trade, foreign direct investment, and such to portray the Middle East as unarguably the least connected region to the global economyóeven more so than Sub-Saharan Africa and suggest that Jack's definition of a truly globalized society is a bit "distorted." I also note out loud that "Jack clearly hasn't read my book, because otherwise he'd have a better grasp of the data."

Jack has nothing to say about any of that, confirming my suspicion that his preparation for the show consisted of about 3 minutes of glancing over the two aforementioned articles.

The Brit subbing host, Julian Marshall, then asks me to describe the Leviathan-Sys Admin concepts, which I do in detail, and then asks Jack to comment on all those seemingly "can't-argue-with-that" ideas, but Jack dismisses all that radical restructuring of the U.S. military as just "tactical" stuff that he won't touch. Instead he says he wants to concentrate on "big picture" and then details how I plan to "scrap" NATO completely and how my ideas of allying with Russia, China, and India are complete madness since all three states have problems with Muslims already (apparently no overlap on issues to be found there). I, later in the show, counter with the reality of developing Asia's growing dependency on Middle Eastern oil, but Jack has nothing to say on global economics, as he prefers to stick with the "big picture" of why everything I say is complete balderdash.

The host lets me talk about shrinking the Gap at length and I describe the up-front role of FDI, but promos he recites later in the show ask whether my idea of making the military the "primary tool" of shrinking the Gap is dangerous, and will it lead to "perpetual war"?

Since I had given a very long answer at the start of the show regarding why the notion of "perpetual war" was nonsense, given a cursory reading of the global security environment (hell, I wrote a whole chapter on the subject), I started to get a bit testy as the show progressed. Basically I refused to answer one question on Iraq until I had a chance to blast them on constantly using the "perpetual war" phrase as a dishonest teaser to frighten the audience, and then I took both Marshall and Beatty to task for insisting that my vision called for "scraping NATO." I once again noted loudly that it was obvious that neither of them had bothered to read the book and were basing all this conversation on their readings of other people's criticisms of my work. Naturally, neither of them had any response to that, preferring to lecture me repeatedly on keeping my answers short and to the point! Apparently, I was just supposed to sit there and listen to them repeatedly describe "perpetual war" and my plan to "scrap NATO" and not refute either.

One caller is nice enough to call me a "total psychopath" who seeks a "force of little psychopaths" to carry out my "whacked out agenda."

Julian laughs and invites me to answer this "impassioned question," but instructs me yet again to keep my answer short (meaning no criticizing the hosts for being too lazy to bother reading my book whatsoever).

One caller from Green Bay WI (natch!) actually read the book, said he liked it, and gave me two great questions to deal with.

The show wrapped up with Jack Beatty once again decrying the myopia of my military-does-everything vision, saying a much better idea to shrink the Gap would be for the Core to end their high agricultural barriers to trade.

At that point I couldn't stand it anymore and started shouting into the microphone (I was in Providence, they were in Boston and NH): "Chapter 7 in my book! Chapter 7 in my book! You can read it all!"

Actually, I was mistaken in the heat of the moment. My description of that much-needed change in Core behavior is found on page 131 of Chapter 3, as well as pages 371, 374, 375, and 378 of Chapter 8.

You'd think "analyst" Jack could have actually come up with an example of what my vision really needed to encompass that wasn't actually mentioned a handful of times in my book, but perhaps I expect too much from lazy-ass journalists who moonlight on NPR.

Jack's only response to my pointing out that the very thing he accused me of lacking in my vision actually being prominent in my book was simply to retort, "Well . . . good!"

Then he noted how China was globalizing without presenting the U.S. with any security threats (hmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar to me . . . I wonder if I managed to get that bit into the book), and I responded with noting that none of the 9/11 hijackers came from China, but from the Middle Eastóthat disconnected part of the global economy that Jack believes is highly integrated thanks to KFC and Victoria's Secrets outletsówhich is why the GWOT is logically located there.

Jack flustered silently at that point and was never heard from again.

All I can say is that if Jack's journalistic work ethic was on display, God help his bosses at the Atlantic Monthly.

You may think I ask for too much effort from NPR on this, but I figure, if you book an author for an entire one-hour show, you need to have someone there on the air with him who's made at least some effort to peruse the book here and there, and isn't simply relying on what other people have said. The reason why my interview with Brian Lamb was so good on CSPAN was because he'd actually read the book quite thoroughly. Beatty could have been honest enough (dare I say man enough?) to actually admit he hadn't read the book, something most interviewers do openly when that's the case, but instead he blustered on without fear, declaring me a serious threat to serious strategizing everywhere. Beatty is one serious, prime-cut blowhard, but as the WPRI station guy told me after the show (WPRI is the NPR affiliate in Providence where I was), that's basically Beatty's designed role when "On Point" has only one guest and that guest has strong views.

So what does Beatty really believe in? He's sounded more hawkish than Rumsfeld in the past, blowing major smoke about smoking holes in the weeks after 9/11, but since I was on last night and was clearly identified with the Bush Administration, he blew a different tune, claiming that the majority of Americans wanted Bush "impeached." Rumsfeld wannabe one year, Michael Moore wannabe the nextóyou gotta like a man of principle!

Still, all in all, the show made for good radio. NPR can be so boring sometimes it's almost good to go to sleep by. Last night's "On Point" was clearly an exception to that far-too-often rule, but I have to state again how disappointed I was by the cursory preparation the people connected with the show put into its production. Nobody likes blowhards, but lazy ones are downright nasty!


Today's catch:

The military I have worked with over my entire career

"Ask Someone Who Was There," by Maj. Stan Coerr, posted at
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.
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.
Iraq: the story of "missed opportunities"
"Mistakes Loom Large as Handover Nears: Missed Opportunities Turned High Ideals to Harsh Realities," by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, WP, 20 June, p. A1.
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.
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, WSJ, 25 June, p. A1.
Flash! Terrorists fight back in global war on terrorism!
"Errors on Terror," by Paul Krugman, New York Times, 25 June, p. A25.
Saudis: "Westerners, protect yourselves!"
"To Alleviate Fears, the Saudis Will Now Allow Foreigners to Carry Weapons," by Neil MacFarquhar, NYT, 25 June, p. A13.
Tunisia: a classic attempt at "mouse arrest"
"Tunisia's Tangled Web Is Sticking Point for Reform," by Neil MacFarquhar, NYT, 25 June, p. A3.
Lula: Brazil realizes FDI is not only good but necessary!
"Brazil Leader Tailors Pitch To Investors," by Geraldo Samor, WSJ, 25 June, p. A9.


The military I have worked with over my entire career

When I had to suffer through Jack Beatty's know-it-all diatribes about how a "landslide" of Americans reject this war and how it's dangerous to ask Americans to die for such a disastrous cause as our takedown of Saddam and occupation of Iraq has become, I found my mind wandering to my many years of working with the military and what I have come to understand about the people who make up this amazing institution. The following article, reprinted in full, reminds me all too well why the U.S. military is the best in the worldóand easily the most underappreciated.

Friday Jun 18, 2004

Ask Someone Who Was There

By Maj. Stan Coerr

George Bush coalesced American support behind invading Iraq, I am told, using two arguments: Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and the capability to deliver them, and Iraq was a supporter of Al-Qaeda terrorism, and may have been involved in the attacks of 9/11. Vicious words and gratuitous finger-pointing keep falling back on these points, as people insist that ìweî were misled into what started as a dynamic liberation and has become a bloody counterinsurgency. Watching politicians declaim and hearing television experts expound on why we went to war and on their opinions of those running the White House and Defense Department, I have one question.

When is someone going to ask the guys who were there?

What about the opinions of those whose lives were on the line, massed on the Iraq-Kuwait border beginning in February of last year? I donít know how President Bush got the country behind him, because at the time I was living in a hole in the dirt in northern Kuwait. Why have I not heard a word from anyone who actually carried a rifle or flew a plane into bad guy country last year, and who has since had to deal with the ugly aftermath of a violent liberation? What about the guys who had the most to lose ñ what do they think about all this?

I was there. I am one of those guys who fought the war and helped keep the peace. I am a Major in the Marine Reserves, and during the war I was the senior American attached to the 1 Royal Irish Battlegroup, a rifle battalion of the British Army. I was commander of five U.S. Marine air/naval gunfire liaison teams, as well as the liaison officer between U.S. Marines and British Army forces. I was activated on January 14, 2003, and 17 days later I and my Marines were standing in Kuwait with all of our gear, ready to go to war.

I majored in Political Science at Duke, and I graduated with a Masters degree in government from the Kennedy School at Harvard. I understand realpolitik, geopolitical jujitsu, economics and the reality of the Arab world. I know the tension between the White House, the UN, Langley and Foggy Bottom. One of my grandfathers was a two-star Navy admiral; my other grandfather was an ambassador. I am not a pushover, blindly following whoever is in charge, and I donít kid myself that I live in a perfect world. But the war made sense then, and the occupation makes sense now.

As dawn broke on March 22, 2003, I became part of one of the largest and fastest land movements in the history of war. I went across the border alongside my brothers in the Royal Irish, following the 5th Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton as they swept through the Ramaylah oil fields. I was one those guys you saw on TV every night- filthy, hot, exhausted. I think the NRA and their right-to-bear-arms mantra is a joke, but by God I was carrying a loaded rifle, a loaded pistol and a knife on my body at all times. My boots rested on sandbags on the floor of my Humvee, there to protect me from the blast of a land mines or IED.

I killed many Iraqi soldiers, as they tried to kill me and my Marines. I did it with a radio, directing airstrikes and artillery, in concert with my British artillery officer counterpart, in combat along the Hamar Canal in southern Iraq. I saw, up close, everything the rest of you see in the newspapers: dead bodies, parts of dead bodies, helmets with bullet holes through them, handcuffed POWs sitting in the sand, oil well fires with flames reaching 100 feet into the air and a roar you could hear from over a mile away.

I stood on the bloody sand where Marine Second Lieutenant Therrel Childers was the first American killed on the ground. I pointed a loaded weapon at another man for the first time in my life. I did what I had spent 14 years training to do, and my Marines - your Marines - performed so well it still brings tears to my eyes to think about it. I was proud of what we did then, and I am proud of it now.

Along with the violence, I saw many things that lifted my heart. I saw thousands of Iraqis in cities like Qurnah and Medinah - men, women, children, grandparents carrying babies - running into the streets at the sight of us, the first Western army to arrive. I saw them screaming, crying, waving, cheering. They ran from their homes at the sound of our Humvee tires roaring in from the south, bringing bread and tea and cigarettes and photos of their children. They chattered at us in Arabic, and we spoke to them in English, and neither understood the other. The entire time I was in Iraq, I had one impression from the civilians I met: Thank God, finally someone has arrived with bigger men and bigger guns to be, at last, on our side.

Let there be no mistake, those of you who donít believe in this war: the Baíath regime were the Nazis of the second half of the 20th century. I saw what the murderous, brutal regime of Saddam Hussein wrought on that country through his party and their Fedayeen henchmen. They raped, murdered, tortured, extorted and terrorized those in that country for 35 years. There are mass graves throughout Iraq only now being discovered. 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, liberated a prison in Iraq populated entirely by children. The Baíathists brutalized the weakest among them, and killed the strongest.

I saw in the eyes of the people how a generation of fear reflects in the human soul.

The Baíath Party, like the Nazis before them, kept power by spreading out, placing their officials in every city and every village to keep the people under their boot. Everywhere we went we found rifles, ammunition, RPG rounds, mortar shells, rocket launchers, and artillery. When we took over the southern city of Ramaylah, our battalion commander tore down the Baíath signs and commandeered the former regime headquarters in town (which, by the way, was 20 feet from the local school.) My commander himself took over the office of the local Baíath leader, and in opening the desk of that thug found a set of brass knuckles and a gun. These are the people who are now in prison, and that is where they deserve to be.

The analogy is simple. For years, you have watched the same large, violent man come home every night, and you have listened to his yelling and the crying and the screams of children and the noise of breaking glass, and you have always known that he was beating his wife and his children. Everyone on the block has known it. You ask, cajole, threaten and beg him to stop, on behalf of the rest of the neighborhood. Nothing works. After listening to it for 13 years, you finally gather up the biggest, meanest guys you can find, you go over to his house, and you kick the door down. You punch him in the face and drag him away. The house is a mess, the family poor and abused ó but now there is hope. You did the right thing.

I can speak with authority on the opinions of both British and American infantry in that place and at that time. Let me make this clear: at no time did anyone say or imply to any of us that we were invading Iraq to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction, nor were we there to avenge 9/11. We knew we were there for one reason: to rid the world of a tyrant, and to give Iraq back to Iraqis.

None of us had even heard those arguments for going to war until we returned, and we still donít understand the confusion. To us, it was simple. The world needed to be rid of a man who committed mass murder of an entire people, and our country was the only one that could project that much power that far and with that kind of precision. We donít make policy decisions: we carry them out. And none of us had the slightest doubt about how right and good our actions were.

The war was the right thing to do then, and in hindsight it was still the right thing to do. We canít overthrow every murderous tyrant in the world, but when we can, we should. Take it from someone who was there, and who stood to lose everything. We must, and will, stay the course. We owe it to the Iraqis, and to the world.

Stan Coerr is a SuperCobra attack helicopter pilot and Forward Air Controller, and was recently selected for Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. He lives in San Diego.

Nothing to add to that but the heartfelt gratitude of an entire nationóminus Jack Beatty of course.


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.