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    by Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett, Emily V. Barnett
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11:17AM

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.


Right?


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.

11:15AM

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.

8:38AM

"Reviewing the reviews" gets reviewed in online pub

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


eMotion! Reports.com, 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.

10:28AM

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.

10:17AM

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?

10:12AM

South Korea put to the test

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


South Korea is learning what it means to actually stand up and be counted: sometimes your people will get killed and you will be vilified in the process. We have never really asked for anything strategic in return for our continued military support to South Korea: they simply pay the bills and we simply stay on the Korean peninsula. But getting South Korea involved in Iraq is whole other ball of wax, that may well transform both Seoul's view of its role in the world and its relationship with the U.S. As the old adage goes: occupations change the occupiers far more than the occupied.

10:11AM

Do unto others as they would do unto you

"Afghans Behead 4 Taliban," by Reuters, New York Times, 23 June, p. A11.


Nice, huh? That should quiet things down in the region.


This war of perversity simply grows. Why? We're talkingóin the endóabout ending the control of men over women in the region. That's the bottom line with globalization: it radically empowers women in traditional societies in relation to men. When you mess with some guy's woman, expect the very worst. If you don't believe me, talk to a cop sometime about domestic abuse cases. It doesn't get any more perverse than that.

10:10AM

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

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


The U.S. has been fighting the notion of its troops coming under the purview of the International Criminal Court going all the way back to its inception under the Clinton Administration. Simply put, we fear having our warfighters (not to mention our political decision-makers) tried for trumped-up and politically-inspired charges of war crimes.


That's the Leviathan talking, and on that point he makes perfect sense. But let's get real. The ICC must eventually have purview over our peacekeeping efforts, because in exporting security (as opposed to killing or rounding up bad guys) we need to support the rule of law like anybody else. Thus I've been saying all along: the Sys Admin force eventually submits to the ICCóno two ways about it.


That's a compromise we cannot avoid, and it's another great reason why the bifurcation of the U.S. military is not only inevitable but good.

10:09AM

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, New York Times, 23 June, p. A8.


As I argue in PNM, there are three things worth firewalling ourselves off from the Gap for, simply because the free traffic in these "goods" is too high a price to pay for openness. One is terrorism ('nuf said). Two is drugs (gotta keep some lid). Three is pandemics.


Just this Monday I got my shots for our upcoming adoption trip to China, and doing so is sort of a primer on the Core-Gap breakdown. Travel in the Old Core and you don't need any shots. Travel in the New Core (like India or China) and the shots you'll get will be roughly the same shots they now advocate for all babiesóeven in the Old Core (hey, it's the price for enlarging the Core!). Go to the Gap and you need a shot for all sorts of exotic stuff, plus the stuff we tend to forget because we've successfully relegated it to the past.


This story on polio is an ugly one, reminding us how stuck in our nasty past is so much of the Gap.

10:07AM

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, New York Times, 23 June, p. A3.


Bush Admin floating concepts/proposals of bribing Kim Jong Il regarding his latest BS on nukes. How is that different from the flaccid Clinton approach of the 1990s? Not one bit. That only shows how tapped we are right now by events in Iraq. This is purely a temporizing approach designed to buy timeósomething that runty rat-f---er Kim is a genius at acquiring.


May God grant that man peaceóreeeeaal soon!

10:06AM

Why do I think Europe will sit on the sidelines?

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


Funny "letter from Europe" about what really motivates people there. No surprise. It's soccer-mania. Meanwhile, as the EU expands and moves toward a constitution, countries there have a hard time getting anyone to vote in the EU elections.


Hell, Europeans aren't even interested in the European integration process! How can we possibly get them interested in shrinking the Gap?

10:05AM

MOE on Gap shrinkage

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


MOE is measure of effectiveness. You want to plot the Gap's shrinkage? You look for evidence like this. Great story on how Croatian port city is linking that nation up to the world outside, but especially to its erstwhile neighbors in the old Yugoslavia. Croatia becomes a great bridge between Old Core EU and (hopefully) New Core Balkan states.

10:04AM

The New Core hunger for energyósigns abound

"China to Look Abroad for Natural Gas," by Xu Yihe, Wall Street Journal, 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.


Plenty of stories about China "scouring" world for oil. Expect more like this one to appear regarding natural gas, which will triple in use in Developing Asia by 2025.


Also a good sign from India regarding its continued openness for Foreign Direct Investment needed to upgrade its decrepit electrical grid. Seems like the new boss will not be so different from the old boss.

10:03AM

Johnógive them the global future worth creating!

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


Economy ain't gonna do it, and as much as Iraq does "do it," voters don't like to switch midstreamóhistorically speaking. My point: Kerry better lay out the future worth creatingóboth inside the Pentagon and around the world at largeórather than assume that more body bags in Iraq will get him elected.

5:17AM

A visionary's impact is on the next generation of leaders

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 22 June 2004


I've written in the past about all the media questions that typically center on whether or not my ideas are gaining ground inside the Pentagon. Admittedly, stories like the Wall Street Journal's piece by Greg Jaffe (now hanging framed in my basement) fuel that focus, but I've always maintained that, because the visionary's naturally focused on the future, his influence is logically found within the long-term process of educating the next generation of leadership. So it's not a matter of asking the current Secretary of Defense, but the one 2 or 3 slots down the road.


Here's an example of what I consider to be real visionary impact. It's a letter I got yesterday from the 2-star Marine general who's currently the Commandant of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at National Defense University. In it, she's referencing the 2 June brief I gave at ICAF (yes, the same one taped by CSPAN) at their end-of-year student conference:

Dear Dr. (Tom) Barnett,


I know Dr. Paul Davis has already passed on how much we appreciated your lecture during our anniversary symposium. But I also want to take this opportunity to not only personally convey my sincere gratitude for the lecture but also for the dynamic way you build and support your strategy. The enthusiastic reaction of the students did not surprise me. They, universally, expressed a regret that they hadn't been afforded a chance to digest your thought early in the academic year; and, we hope to rectify this for next year's class. What was a bit of a surprise was the speed and strength of the faculty support. There has been an almost universal move to inject your concepts and strategic thinking into much of our curriculum.


Knowing your schedule will be filling quickly, I have asked Dr Davis to work with you and our schedulers to find a date on when we might reconcile your demands in a way that your lecture will provide the maximum effect on the Class of 2005. I understand you have reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday, September 29. It is my fervent hope that we can capitalize on your outstanding thinking and wisdom. Again, I offer my profound appreciation for your support of our college.


Sincerely,


F.C. Wilson

Major General, USMC

Now let me be honest: not only does the general write a mean letter, but she's also exhibiting the kind of generous judgment that one always uses when inviting someone to give a talk at your place for "free" (here, meaning, the Naval War College is paying my time to lecture at another college). I know she means it (you don't get to be a female 2-star Marine general being gushy), and she knows that by being explicit in her admiration for the material she greases the skids at the Naval War College in terms of getting permission for the trip (which ICAF will naturally fund). My point is this: if you want to traipse all around the world giving talks, you better be routinely described as a water-walker (military slang for someone who can perform amazing feats).


What I liked about the letter was the sense that the vision had won over the staff, which is no simple feat, because we're talking about a lot of retired military officers who don't exactly jump at fads when it comes to their curriculum. In fact, I've had more than a few of that staff get up and walk out of previous presentations I've given at the college, so quick were they to dismiss the message in years past.


Of course, we all get smarter with experienceóme no less than anyone else. So it's not a matter of everyone catching up to my "wisdom," but the vision finally experiencing synchronicity with the signals we're receiving from the strategic environment. In my mind, strategic vision is not about imagining some world that never was and then advocating its creation, but rather seeing the current strategic environment for what it really is, andóin doing soóspotting its potential for its progression toward futures truly worth creating.


Contingency planning is all about mitigating future failures, but strategic vision is all about exploiting future successes.


Here's today's grab bag:


The negative Clinton effect on 2004 campaign


"Clinton Book Generates Buzz Across Bookselling and Politics," by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Jackie Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 21 June, p. B3.


The strong do as they will, and the weak turn to the Internet


"Saudis Seek America's Body as Militants Vow More Terror: Searching for a body during an Internet propaganda war," New York Times, 21 June, p. A8.


Islamic democracyótry this at home


"Islamic Democracy? Mali Finds a Way To Make It Work: In Old Caravan Crossroads, History of Getting Along Breeds Spirit of Compromise: A Coup d'Etat but no Junta," by Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, 22 June, p. A1.


Where's the beef? Brazil, of course


"How a Brazilian Cattle Baron Shakes Up World's Beef Trade: Mad Cow Boosts Mr. Russo And His Gradd-Fed Herd; A Bullish Move in Israel," by Matt Moffett, WSJ, 22 June, p. A1.


Same old abortion bugaboo perverts US foreign aid


"U.S. Is Accused of Trying to Isolate U.N. Population Unit: Critics see a bid to stop world groups that aid abortion abroad," by Christopher Marquis, NYT, 21 June, p. A3.


Let's be honest, almost everything is a bridge too far for NATO


"Gun-Shy NATO Is Wary of Iraq: Afghan Theater Teaches Alliance a Hard Lesson In Its Military Limitations," by Philip Shishkin, WSJ, 21 June, p. A14.


The military-market nexus evolves along many, many nodes


"U.S. Extends Program For Terror Insurance," by staff, WSJ, 21 June, p. A11.


"Sovereign Ratings: Tea Leaves? Moody's Upgrade of South Korea Fails to Move Government Bonds; Political Risk Is Tricky to Gauge," by Craig Karmin, WSJ, 21 June, p. C1


"High Court Ruling Goes Against Intel In AMD Case," by Robert S. Greenberger, WSJ, 22 June, p. A3.


The usual yin-and-yang on China


"China's Grads Find Jobs Scarce: Mismatch Exists Between Seekers' Ambitions and Market Needs," by Leslie Change, WSJ, 22 June, p. A17.


"Older Workers From U.S. Take Jobs in China," by James T. Areddy, WSJ, 22 June, p. B1


"Microcredit Efforts in China Stumble," by Jason Dean, WSJ, 22 June, p. A17.


"China Is Set to Ease Bankruptcy Law," by Kathy Chen, WSJ, 22 June, p. A17.

5:08AM

The negative Clinton effect on 2004 campaign

"Clinton Book Generates Buzz Across Bookselling and Politics," by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Jackie Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 21 June, p. B3.


Fear expressed in this article is that there is only so much public attention span for politics and that Clinton is sucking up so much right now that Kerry will suffer as a result. "Both political parties say attention given Mr. Clinton will suck oxygen from the already limited political air at the expense of John Kerry." Moreover, the authors claim that Kerry and Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe actually pushed Clinton to hold off on publishing the book until after the election. The compromise, apparently, was to rush it into stores in the early part of summer vice having it appear right at the election was climaxing (no pun intended).


Clinton is definitely a glory-hound, as all good politicians are, and you have to wonder if the Clinton household isn't more than ambivalent about Kerry losing this election, thus clearing the way for Hillary to run in 2008 against no incumbent.


But that only makes you wonder how long Bush would go into his second term before Cheney steps aside and the Bush heir-apparent is slipped into the VP slot. After all, that's how Yeltsin got Putin so instantly acceptable to voters in Russia back in 2000.


Hmmm, toss in Michael Moore' "Fahrenheit 911" and let the paranoid conspiracy types run wild!

5:07AM

The strong do as they will, and the weak turn to the Internet

"Saudis Seek America's Body as Militants Vow More Terror: Searching for a body during an Internet propaganda war," New York Times, 21 June, p. A8.


It is fascinating how quickly the Internet has emerged as the level playing field for both sides in this global war on terrorism to get their messages out there in front of the worldwide audience. In a war of perversity, the anything-goes-and-nobody-knows anonymity of the wild wild web is a perfect venue for the war of images.


But, honestly, anyone who thinks the Luddite, Taliban-type, al Qaeda terrorists are somehow going to win via the Internet has a screw loose. Every time they engage the outside world more and more on their terms, they truly end up being perverted far more than we do by delving into our barbaric past. Dipping back in time can be done with ease, and is easily excused and forgiven as "necessary" to the task at hand, but when you expose yourself forward, it gets really hard to pretend that somehow your future version of the "good life" is going to achieve true disconnectedness from all the perversity represented by globalization.


They say you can take the boy off the farm but you can never take the farm out of the boy. True enough, explaining how terrorists can routinely come to live among us and never become one of us. But it's also true that once you seen the bright lights of the city, small-town life is never quite good enough. We see this time and time again with authoritarian elites whose ideologies allow them to "protect" the masses from the "pollution" of the outside world and yet simultaneously allow them to enjoy those same "impure influences" at willóI mean, just check out the young Saudi princes whenever they travel abroad.


The best part of this article is at the end, when the Saudi government declares: "The perpetrators of these attacks seek to shake the stability and cripple security, which is a far-fetched aim." Then the reporter notes that the government said this "in a speech delivered in the name of King Fahd, who is incapacitated."


Riiiight. Hard to cripple a government "run" by a guy virtually in a coma.


Wait a tick! Where have I seen this before? Oh yeah, the Soviet Union right before Gorbachev took over . . ..

5:06AM

Islamic democracyótry this at home

"Islamic Democracy? Mali Finds a Way To Make It Work: In Old Caravan Crossroads, History of Getting Along Breeds Spirit of Compromise: A Coup d'Etat but no Junta," by Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, 22 June, p. A1.


Interesting left-column front-page WSJ story on how Mali is simultaneously predominately Muslim and a democracy. No great mystery. Their social rule set puts a premium on consensus and avoiding violent outcomes. Oldest trick in the book: get potentially warring groups to intermarry, or what they call "cousinage." So it's all in the family, my friends.

5:05AM

Where's the beef? Brazil, of course

"How a Brazilian Cattle Baron Shakes Up World's Beef Trade: Mad Cow Boosts Mr. Russo And His Gradd-Fed Herd; A Bullish Move in Israel," by Matt Moffett, Wall Street Journal, 22 June, p. A1.


Fascinating right-column front-page WSJ story on how Brazil is on the verge of becoming the leading exporter of beef around the world. That is some amazing connectivity, because we're talking a perishable item subject to significantly stringent health rule sets. To make all that work, you have to be connected to the world at large in a big, big way. I mean, Brazil is now the biggest provider of beef to Israel, one of 50 key markets for its beef around the world.


For now, Brazil free rides in terms of security. Israel means a lot to them as a market, but does Brazil pay much of anything to maintain security there? Or anywhere else for that matter? And yet many of their markets are inside the Gap, and thus vulnerable to significant bouts of insecurity.


I look at Brazil and I see a country incentivized to keeping things calm all over this world, and so I see a strategic partner waiting to be made.


These guys want to sell beef. We can see them strictly as a threat to our cattle industry or as a potential security partner all over the Gap. Which do you think is the better long-term choice? Which helps us to win us a global war on terrorism?

5:04AM

Same old abortion bugaboo perverts US foreign aid

"U.S. Is Accused of Trying to Isolate U.N. Population Unit: Critics see a bid to stop world groups that aid abortion abroad," by Christopher Marquis, New York Times, 21 June, p. A3.


The US Government has consistently cut off its nose to spite its face on foreign aid focused on controlling population growth around this world, simply because we let our internal rule-set clash on abortion infect our strategic judgment on how best to shrink the Gap. Time and time again we short-change UN efforts at stemming population growth as soon as we detect even the slightest hint that abortion might in some way be involved or facilitated.


It is amazing how so many conservatives will say we shouldn't try to dictate democracy to other cultures and yet we feel the right to dictate how women deal with reproduction the world over. The hypocrisy on that one is just stunning. By keeping women down across the Gap in this manner, we work completely at odds with just about everything else we're trying to do in this global war on terrorism. It is shortsighted in the extreme, not to mention culturally arrogant in the extreme.