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11:43AM

Will this election be determined by Iraq?

ìIraqis Start to Exercise Power Even Before Date for Turnover,î by Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, 13 June, p. A1.


ìRoad for Relief Team Is Gauntlet of Enemy Fire: ëWe canít fix anything if theyíre shooting at us,î by Michale Kamber, NYT, 13 June, p. A16.


ìBehind the Scenes, a Restless and Relentless Kerry,î by Jodi Wilgoren, NYT, 13 June, p. A1.


ìApproval in May,î results Gallup Polls, NYT, 13 June, p. A25.


ìA Nation Divided? Who Says? On gay rights, gun control and abortion, thereís a whole lot of agreeing going on,î by John Tierney, NYT, 13 June, p. WK1.


ìWhy America Sees the Silver Lining: ëSuccess in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,î by John Leland, NYT, 13 June, p. WK1.


ìAnd Yes, He Was a Great Communicator: A presidentís debt to Jefferson Smith, George Bailey and Tom Joad,î by Geoffrey Nunberg, NYT, 13 June, p. WK5.


The first article gives a great rundown of whatís already changing inside Iraq as the handover date approaches. A good clip:

ìWalid Saleh, planning director for the Water Resources Ministry, said his ministry used to be controlled by a team of six American water experts. Now, Mr. Saleh said, these advisers have become ëconsultants.í


ëThey work for us,í Mr. Saleh explained. ëThey are very good technicians and they give us expertise. But we make the decisions.î

U.S. influence in Iraq is described as two-fold: overseeing a reconstruction budget of almost $20 B (the Sys Admin role) and 140k troops struggling to end an insurgency (the Leviathan role). But the big point is: Iraqis are now running the show and making the day-to-day decisions.


Will there be assassinations and casualties ahead? Absolutely, but the number of Americans dying will likely drop dramatically over coming weeks and months, and with Iraqi leaders taking any heat in front of cameras, I think weíll all be surprised what a non-issue Iraq may end up being come November when Americans are stepping into voting booths.


Meanwhile, Kerryís profiles remain stuck in the ìwhatís-he-really-like-in-personî mode, in part because thereís no clear message that heís delivering, other than ìIím not Bush!î And thatís unlikely, in my mind, to sway the middle unless he steps up and delivers a far more positive vision of where he wants to take America.


Bush does have overall approval ratings that suggest a loss (47%), but likewise the highest historical loyalty ratings within his own party (89%). But hereís the good news for Kerry, there is a big mushy middle that agrees on most things, and they want to hear a positive message regarding the futureónot just one worth avoiding (his pitch on four more years of Bush unilateralism) but one worth creating.


Americans are simply built that way. Weíre a nation built by people who came to these shores convinced they could pull off something better on their own if only they could escape the stultifying rule sets and pessimism of the homeland. Thatís why, when polled, two-thirds of Americans stated their belief that success is something determined primarily by their own efforts, not forces beyond their control.


Take that, conspiracy theorists!


But Kerry needs to get beyond his Senate-speak, which is about as non-inclusive as it gets. He needs to generate the intimate tone that Reagan was a master at, and as the last article points out, itís not exactly hard, even if itís a lost art. Itís mostly about speaking directly to people (using the word ìyouî) a lot, and employing lots of ìyesî and ìand.î Itís about immediacy and intimacy and, yes, a sense of personal connection to dreams and desires andóyou knowóthat naÔve optimism that defines the American spirit.

11:37AM

ìHello, this is God speaking,î volunteers Vishnu in a perfect American accent

ìShort on Priests, U.S. Catholics Outsource Prayers to Indian Clergy,î by Saritha Rai, New York Times, 13 June, p. A13.


The Catholic Church in America is so short of priests to do masses that special intention masses (a mass dedicated to remembering a dead relative) are being sent overseas for clergy in India to perform. I know this squeeze situation from my Momís own complaints about having a hard time getting a mass said for my recently deceased Dad back home in Boscobel WI.


And no, itís real Catholic priests in India who perform the masses, not Hindu clergy sporting brand-new parochial accents. But you have to ask yourself how much worse itíll need to get in the U.S. before weíre reduced to that. Personally, I see great potential for inter-faith strategic alliances here . . ..

11:12AM

The disconnecting strategy gets more perverse by the day

ìSaudi Gunmen Kill American; Qaeda Claims Another Death,î by AP, New York Times, 13 June, p. A8.


ìIsrael Says Children Enlist Children as Suicide Bombers: Peer pressure among Palestinian teenagers to become martyrs,î by Greg Myre, NYT, 13 June, p. A3.


Al Qaeda shoots an American in the back after he parks his car in his garage. Nice. Another is kidnapped with promises of torture.


Al Qaedaís efforts to drive out all Westerners from Saudi Arabia continues apace.


Meanwhile, Palestinian efforts to find enough suicide bombers to kill Israelis is scrapping rock bottom: now weíre talking sweet-talking teenagers talking other impressionable teenagers that blowing yourself up is a really cool way to go. Thereís the perfect definition of selling a future worth eliminating.


So tell me which side we should be on. People complain about the security wall as an example of disconnectedness. But I see it more like a firewall, or an immune-system defense against the viral disease that Palestinian culture has becomeóa culture of death, despair, and utter spiritual disconnectedness.


And yes, I do understand the professed internal logic of dying for the cause and rushing right to paradise, and I consider that one of the most pathetic, self-delusional lies that any religion has ever invented. Frankly, it is nothing more that a canard perpetuated by leaders to get people to die on their behalf.

4:57AM

Ronald Reaganís last great political act

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 12 June 2004


I will admit that I am a Republican, just four days each year. As the sole proprietor of Barnett Consulting, I pay my estimated taxes every 15 April, 15 June, 15 September and 15 January. Today I wrote the checks for my state and federal estimates, and man, Iím feeling awfully Republican right now.


Iíll get over it, as I always doóit just takes longer each year. But it is much harder to stomach taxes when you donít simply have them withheld by your employer. Of course, you might add, ìYour taxes pay for things like Naval War College professors!î


True, true. Then again, it does feel kinda odd to have to pay the government in order to get it to pay your salary.


Hmmm. Makes me wonder if there are dollars in my personal economy that just keep constantly going back and forth from me to the government to me to the government to me to . . . without ever actually buying anythingólike some sort of perpetual fiscal machine.


I guess I could be more hypocritical: I could be one of those retired military types who rail on and on about wanting smaller government while cashing all those pension checks year after year.


Yes, yes, everyone wants the government to stop wasting money . . . on those people, which are often defined as everybody except themselves, of course, because ìwe really deserve it!î


And, of course, we all do, which is what gets youíre a very big government.


It seems only natural to prattle on about big government, taxes, and military budgets this week, what with the 6-day spectacle that was the Reagan remembrance. I donít begrudge the man this last great political moment, because he was the towering political figure of the last three decades. He will go down much like an FDRóthe guy who defined his nation for many years (really, through 3 presidencies to include Bush 1) and his party since 1976, when he first stepped onto the national stage. To be a Reagan Republican today is a lot like what being an FDR Democrat was at the middle of the century: itís simply identifying yourself with the dominant political theme of your era.


While I did not vote for Reagan in either election, nor was I fan of his administrations, he did make for a magnificent president in the sense of representing this country to itself and the outside world. The man was simply well cast in the role, plus his personal journey from young liberal Democrat to old stalwart Republican was so very American: there are few things sadder than a young conservative or an aging liberal, because both seem to declare the same basic fallacy that life teaches them nothing. Reagan was a life-long learner and, despite his fairly strict rule set about wanting smaller government and trusting individuals to do the right thing on their own, he was a masterful compromiser. People forget that he got so much of his agenda to flow through a Democratic-controlled Congress not because he refused to bend, but because he knew when and how to bend.


At times, I do find myself wishingónot because Iím a Republican but because Iím an Americanóthat George W. Bush actually was as much like Reagan as both he and many of his admirers like to portray him as. But Bush has not mastered that art of compromise, and thus he is disliked by so many Americans even as many of them have basically desired his strong leadership since 9/11. Reagan did many things that many of us did not like, and yet he made us like him, whereas Bush does many things that many of us do like, and yet he makes it hard to like him.


There are so many similarities between Bush 1 and Bush 2 that it is tempting to believe history is repeating itself here again, but Bush the Younger clearly wants reelection (unlike his burned out dad in í92) and Kerry (I fear) is no Bill Clinton when it comes to campaigning.


Then there is this strange, highly political interlude that has been the Reagan week-long extravaganza. I think Reaganís big goodbye will be a turning point in this campaign. It created this huge pause during which Kerry fell silent, Bush basked in Reaganís glow, Republicans everywhere remembered who they are and why they are, and Iraq quietly slipped into a new, possibly far more favorable pathway. Right up to Reaganís death is was all bad news from Iraq all the time, but following this long pause where Reagan dominated the news cycle for an entire week, many Americans may find themselves waking up to a new morning in Iraq.


Now thereís an Iraqi running an Iraqi government, as interim as it may seem. But still, when bad things happen in Iraq now, itíll be Allawi standing up at the press conference, not Bremer or some American general. Then thereís word today that Moqtada al-Sadr is signaling his willingness to support the interim government (NYT, 12 June, p. A5, ìIn Shift, Rebel Iraqi Cleric Backs New Government He Had Once Mocked,î by Edward Wong). Do I expect that to last forever? No, but it may last long enough for Iraq to segue into a far quieter phase that is quickly lost in the attention spans of Americans as we head into summer.


Give Iraq a couple of months to settle into something close to normalcy and it might look far better come Labor Day than anyone would have allowed just a week ago. I expected this development would come naturally on its own as the political transition date approached, simply because it created a put-up-or-shut-up moment on prospective Iraqi leaders andóbeing an optimistóI figured Iraq really does have enough of the right people to govern itself reasonable well now that Saddam and his henchmen are gone from power.


And when we look back on this election and realize that Bushís approval rates hit low tide just before the grand Reagan spectacle, only to rebound slowly but surely over the summer and into the fall as the election neared, then history may well judge that Ronald Reaganís last, very political act was to have the timing of his passing actually prove to be a pivot point in a presidential election campaign.


Knowing Reagan, such a development would delight him to no end.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Todayís Catch:


The great race has begun between India and China

ìMade in India vs. Made in China: Multinationals See Big Upside To Subcontinent,î by Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 12 June, p. B1.
White House searches for words on Sudan
ìWhite House Reconsiders Its Policy on Crisis in Sudan: Weighing whether conditions have risen to the level of genocide,î by Marc Lacey, NYT, 12 June, p. A3.
Getting Europe to care about any future other than its own
ìG-8 Gathering Ends Without Iraq Agreement: U.S. Allies Decline to Send Personnel or Forgive Debt,î by Jackie Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 11 June, p. A7.


ìEurope Knows It Needs a Lot of Immigrants, But It Also Fears Them,î by Floyd Norris, NYT, 11 June, p. C1.

Chinaís deep, deep hunger for raw materials
ìChinaís Expansion May Be Easing: Soft Landing Could Stem Inflationary Pressures Threatening Global Growth,î by Andrew Browne et. al, WSJ, 11 June, p. A2.


ìAsian Scavengers Feed Chinaís Hunger for Steel,î by James Brooke, NYT, 11 June, p. W1.

Companies sell energy, but governments own reserves


ìU.S. Seeks Pacts With Russia To Raise Natural Gas Exports: Dangling a $15 billion carrot to help finance a new plant,î by Erin E. Arvedlund, NYT, 11 June, p. W1.


ìAn Oil Enigma: Production Falls Even as Reserves Rise: No Clear Picture Emerges to Explain Discrepancy,î by Alex Berenson, NYT, 12 June, p. A1.

4:55AM

The great race has begun between India and China

ìMade in India vs. Made in China: Multinationals See Big Upside To Subcontinent,î by Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 12 June, p. B1.


Big global corporations getting tired of trying to break into Chinese domestic markets are increasingly eyeing India with its easier entry points. So corporations continue to go into China to rent the labor and export the resulting manufactured goods, but more and more they enter India to both manufacture there and sell there.


Some economic strategists believe this is why India will eventually overtake China as an economic power, and it essentially comes down to India having a better internal rule set and less of a socialist legacy to deal with.


The truth is, all these predictions of one ìwinningî over the other are a complete waste of time. China leapt ahead of India across the 1980s, and that pushed India to open up its economy in a similar fashion in the early 1990s. China became the big foreign direct investment magnet in the 1990s, and India made similar efforts to attract the same flows in the past several years. So Chinaís been the lead, and India the second for the last twenty years, but if India were to pull ahead in certain categories, the demonstration effect would simply flow in the other directionónot leaving China behind but pulling it along.


This race is just beginning to heat up.

4:50AM

White House searches for words on Sudan

ìWhite House Reconsiders Its Policy on Crisis in Sudan: Weighing whether conditions have risen to the level of genocide,î by Marc Lacey, New York Times, 12 June, p. A3.


Another slow-motion crisis, another search for the right word. Is this genocide, or just a really bad government letting a lot of its own people die systematically?


Hmmm. Seems to me to be yet another example of rule sets out of whack in the system. Nobody wants to see this happen. Everyone knows itís bad. Thereís no great mystery about whatís happening. We search for words because none of the ones we have now match any global security regime thatís built to deal with the problem.


Sudan has a bad government, but because it belongs to the UN and the UN treats every state as equally sovereign, thereís really nothing out there in the system to deal with it in an A-to-Z fashion, even as everybody would like to see that place somehow ruled by something other and hopefully better than what they got now. What we do have is some UN convention on ìgenocide,î so we wait around debating exactly what that word means and thousands upon thousands die in Sudan.


You think words donít matter, well just one of them is killing Sudan.

4:47AM

Getting Europe to care about any future other than its own

ìG-8 Gathering Ends Without Iraq Agreement: U.S. Allies Decline to Send Personnel or Forgive Debt,î by Jackie Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 11 June, p. A7.


ìEurope Knows It Needs a Lot of Immigrants, But It Also Fears Them,î by Floyd Norris, New York Times, 11 June, p. C1.


The non-event that was the G-8 meeting is a bad indicator of this administrationís inability to cut the deals needed to achieve serious and lasting change in the Middle East, something weíre simply not going to be able to pull off on our own. Not getting troops was one thing, but cripes, we couldnít even get them to forgive Iraqís debts. Thatís some serious payback for how we treated them in the run-up to the war.


But a Europe that gets itself deeply involved in connecting the Middle East to the world would likely find itself opening up against its will to all those brown people on the other side of the Mediterranean. This would make eminent sense demographically, but culturally itís proving very hard for Old Europe.


If we donít think these things are connected in this disconnectedness, then weíre likely to end up waging wars all by ourselves inside the Gap.

4:44AM

Chinaís deep, deep hunger for raw materials

ìChinaís Expansion May Be Easing: Soft Landing Could Stem Inflationary Pressures Threatening Global Growth,î by Andrew Browne et. al, Wall Street Journal, 11 June, p. A2.


ìAsian Scavengers Feed Chinaís Hunger for Steel,î by James Brooke, New York Times, 11 June, p. W1.


Another article about Chinaís hoped-for soft landing seemingly unfolding. Hereís the interesting factoid: China generates only 3% of world output, but itís draw on raw materials worldwide is far and above that, to the point that Chinaís manufacturing requirements are driving upwards of 15% of world growth.


That demand is so great that itís actually having a very nice environmental effect: China is sucking scrap metal from all over the world, pushing scavengers to reclaim rusting metal from abandoned facilities and factories all over Eurasia, but especially in former socialist states Russia and North Korea, both of which are full of rotting factories. China is growing so fast itís actually helping to clean up the old socialist bloc in the process.

4:34AM

Companies sell energy, but governments own reserves

ìU.S. Seeks Pacts With Russia To Raise Natural Gas Exports: Dangling a $15 billion carrot to help finance a new plant,î by Erin E. Arvedlund, New York Times, 11 June, p. W1.


ìAn Oil Enigma: Production Falls Even as Reserves Rise: No Clear Picture Emerges to Explain Discrepancy,î by Alex Berenson, NYT, 12 June, p. A1.


The U.S. is trying to arrange natural gas contracts with Russia, which is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. People in the energy business will tell you that global natural gas markets today are much like global oil markets were 30 years ago: dominated by governments and long-term bilateral deals. So when America runs low on natural gas Washington turns to Moscow.


In the oil industry, itís no longer like that, even as governments still control the vast bulk of oil reserves. The biggest four oil companies, for example, own only about 4% of global reserves. Thatís it! So if you think ExxonMobil and BP rule the world on energy, you donít understand that theyíre basically just middlemen nowadays. But because oil is traded quite fluidly on a global scale, that makes them still very important, even if they donít actually own the oil.


Governments own the oil in the ground, and they tend to be very secretive about how big those reserves are. We know everyone tends to exaggerate them somewhat, but we donít know by how much. Our slim window into this world is afforded by the transparency required of public companies, like those big oil corporations. It seems like all of them have been caught in recent times admitting that theyíve overstated their reserves somewhat (Royal/Dutch Shell being the biggest offender), and this may be the reason why oil production has been falling in recent years even as oil reserves have seemingly grown. The reason behind these exaggerations are probably market driven, meaning companies are guilty of trying to meet the Streetís persistent expectations for constant growth.


If publicly-traded companies feel this sort of pressure to exaggerate, what do all those national oil companies feel pressured to do, when itís not just profits on the line, but a sense of national power, prestige, or diplomatic leverage?


Thatís not my way of insinuating the ìcoming crashî or anything like that, because I think that ìcrash,î however and whenever it is perceived/declared/manufactured for political reasons, will only send the world into the inevitable segue that is the coming hydrogen age.


Where are we going to get all that hydrogen economically? Hmmm. That would be natural gas. And whose the Saudi Arabia of natural gas? Hmmm. That would be our old enemy/new friend called Russia.


I know why itís hard to get Russia to care about Saudi Arabia, but youíd think it would be easier to round up a few NATO troops for Iraqósitting right next door.

8:07PM

The question of the next book

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 11 June 2004


Off from work today due to US Government being sort of shut down for Ronald Reaganís funeral. So I mow the lawn, run some errands, take kids to and from school, and chaperon my middle child Kevinís end-of-year school party. I bring my face-painting gear and end up doing about 40 kids, but just cheek art.


At the end of the party I find myself feeling awfully tense, and Iím wondering why. I mean, Iíve got people coming up to me all the time now congratulating me on the book, telling me they just bought it (itís selling very fast at the Naval War Collegeís bookstore), or recounting some TV show they saw me on. Itís been 48 hours since I found out about the NYT Best Seller list, so I should be as happy as can be.


Then I realize why Iím feeling so tense. Spoke with my agent this afternoon. Jennifer is a great lady and I enjoy having her as my agent, but she unwittingly triggered my low-grade panic attack by floating the idea of going to Putnam with a proposal for a follow-on bookóyou know, strike while the iron is hot. As soon as she said it, I spun her a wonderful tale about an option book that just sprang naturally out of the concluding chapter (Hope Without Guarantees), or something that basically ran down those ì10 steps to a future worth creating.î Hell, I know thereís a book there, just waiting to be written, and the idea matched her instincts. So I promised her some short proposal by the end of the month that we might forward on to Neil Nyren at Putnam, getting it under his nose before the August doldrums hit the publishing world.


Itís a logical next step: Putnamís discovered me and shepherded me through book #1, which just happens to crack the NYT Best Seller list. So now itís only natural to extend the run and go for book #2 that really explodes on the national consciousness and catapults me as an author far beyond PNM. I know I could write something, hell, probably something really good, and I know Putnam would love to grow me as a writer, because thatís what they do.


The question is, What do I want to do next?


Hereís the hitch. I have a ten-year-old manuscript of my diary of my daughter Emilyís battle with cancer as a three-year-old. At 200k, it probably needs to lose at least 100k and then add in some shaping material both fore and aft of the main text, plus perhaps some 20/20 hindsight commentary from myself and my wife looking back on the diary itself.


Itís a neat and easy project, plus it gets me refocused on family by involving my spouse and our first-born. Itís all just so huggy-huggy-inclusive, and frankly, after writing a book on war and peace, that sounds pretty goodósomething small and intimate and all Nicholas Sparks-ish.


[Tom pauses to fantasize briefly about emoting on Oprah, with his loving spouse and writing partner at his side . . . God, there would have to be some fabulous sex after something like that . . . I mean, rock the universe sort of stuff . . . probably in a five-star hotel executive suite . . . the kind with a Jacuzzi plus shower in a walk-in bathroom to die for . . . Ahem!]


Anyway, I think the original diary is some of the best writing I have ever done, as does my agent Jennifer. Mark Warren of Esquire is also convinced it could be a great book, and is ready to sign on as my editor again.


Jennifer wants to push this book, but she wants the PNM follow-up too. As my agent, she needs to tell me that the kid-with-cancer book will be a tough sell, and that the easiest sell right now is ìSon of PNM.î Iím not averse to further success, but I donít just want to crank something for the sake of cranking something.


Then again, I can sign a contract this Sept for a book thatís due a year from then, so it would follow a year after the paperback release of PNM in May 2005. The contract would simply focus my attention, not just in the blog but in my day-to-day thinking. Iíd be stupid not to run with that ball, if it can be had, so all I really need to do is get comfortable with a book proposal idea and start building the text in my mind over the fall, winter and spring, and then just crank it out (as I must as a writer) when I reach a critical mass next summer. Doesnít have to be the 150k PNM; it can be something far slimmer and more focused. Cripes, I write 3k here almost every day, so whatís the big deal?


I guess my ambivalence and angst at Jenniferís proposal is that I donít yet feel like Iíve recovered my wind from PNM. What attracts me to the ìEmily Updatesî concept (turning the diary into a book) is that Iíve already written the text, by and large, so that project would be editing (mostly Mark Warren) plus writing new shaping material (which frankly I love doing so much I donít consider it work). Plus, if that gets to be the next book, then maybe I reposition myself as a writer of profound (hopefully perceived) stuff in general, vice the military analyst guy.


Then thereís the avenue of simply doing both. The ìEmily Updatesî is something I work in terms of editing and shaping through the end of the year, and by then, I have a clear idea of how the Son of PNM is going to be laid out. I work the data collection on that one over the first few months of 2005 and then crank 100k over the following summer, delivering something to Putnam on time. The joy of that sequential scenario is that I am full-time ìwriting manî outside of my duties at the college, so I donít sweat the decline of Barnett Consulting and I simply accept the notion that my future is one of being a writer.


Hmmmm. Iím getting tired just describing these possibilities. Maybe this all simply nuts to consider trying. Maybe Iím drawn to the Emily Updates because I fear my ability to handle another book from scratch anytime soon, what with a new child joining our family, plus all the continuing ancillary stuff flowing out of the PNM itself. Maybe this option book concept is simply too much, too fast. It does violate my basic rule: donít write until you feel the needóthe overwhelming needóto put something down on paper.


Then why in the hell am I wasting my time on this blog everyday?


[thinking . . . thinking . . . Jacuzzi in five-star Chicago hotel . . . thinking . . . really good sex . . . thinking . . . what was I writing about?]


Oh yeah!


Maybe because Iím one of those thinkers who thinks best when heís writing or speakingóyou know, in the output mode. I mean, I do like writing the blog. Itís like playing the piano every day: either you exercise those muscles or you lose the fluidity. I know I love to write, so why the hell not pursue both the Emily Updates and Son of PNM?


Then I think I really understand my sense of angst: I donít feel like I have the rule set down in my head about what a Son of PNM would logically be. I just donít feel like I have the angle in my head. For example, I donít have the chapters down, or the tone. Do I try to run the reader to some distant future (say 2025) and paint that future worth creating? Or do I run the reader step by step, loading up the book with predictions galore? Or . . . or . . . or . . ..


When I wrote PNM, I knew I was writing the book only I could write. Why I want the Emily Updates published is that this manuscript was likewise something only I could write (with many stories ìtold toî me by my wife). When I think of Son of PNM, I keep coming up with notions of books that I think I could write, but so could a bunch of other peopleóso why the hell should I bother?


Enough of me, for here is where you come in. I have pursued by career primarily by listening to what other people told me I did best and simply concentrating on that while ignoring the restóby and large. Thatís a very Peter Drucker-ish sort of approach: go with the thing you do best and outsource the rest.


So here I have this blog that connects me to many people whoíve read much of my writings, and presumably the book. All of you know why you liked the book or why you like the blog. Knowing that, whatís the logically wished-for book youíd have me write next?


Iím not asking you to comment on the utility or difficulty of getting the Emily Updates published, because I have a certain personal commitment to that project that is simply too profound for me to care what others really think (some experiences from your life are just like that, as Iím sure you know). Iím really looking for what you think is the logical Son of PNM pathway that I need to pursue as a writerómeaning, as you read the book, what did you logically want more of? Whatís the next extension of these ideas that appeals to you most as readers? Do I drill down inside the military on the Leviathan/Sys Admin split? Do I write the book about America and how it must change, along with its government? Or do I write about the future of the world system and the changes that must occur there? [There you have it, the three Waltzian levels of perspective: individual, state, system.] Or do I do a bit of each and simply write that Future Worth Creating 2025 manifesto?


Or are all of these the wrong ideas?


Help me out here. The suspense is killing me. I can only rest on my laurels for so longówell, at least until 20 June.


You know, we could really use a Jacuzzi in this house . . ..

3:29AM

Mr. Lamb, thank you for my New York Times Best Seller!

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 10 June 2004


The day CSPAN broadcast my appearance on Book Notes with Brian Lamb (Sunday, 30 May), my Amazon ranking had slipped to just over 3,000. The next day, after it was shown three times in the preceding 24 hours, my Amazon ranking was 6th place, right behind "The DaVinci Code" and just above "The South Beach Diet."


Thank you, thank you, Lamb-I-am!


I had long given up (and blogged about it more than once, I am sure to be reminded) on the notion that this book would crack the New York Times Best Seller list. Frankly, I had grown quite cynical about it; after all, it's a pure velocity measurement of books sold within a week, not cumulative sales. Everyone, including Mark Warren himself (my personal editor on PNM), kept telling me I didn't have that sort of book. We'd have to build an audience slowlyóyou know, appearance by appearance, room by room, brief by brief. With the big number of high-profile political books out there, I simply did not stand a chance. Never gonna happen. Nuh-uh.


The CSPAN show came at the beginning of PNM's fifth week of being in circulation. If I couldn't crack the list after all those national TV appearance, plus the front-page Wall Street Journal profile, plus the AP story that ran just about everywhere, then lowly CSPAN on a major holiday weekend sure as hell wasn't going to do it.


So I watched the Amazon number stay below 100 through the end of the week, and held my breath over the weekend. This last Monday I got an email from my Publisher, Neil Nyren of Putnam, saying Barnes and Noble has quadrupled their sales of my book last week as compared to the week prior. Their internal calculations said I could possibly land as high as #16 on the NYT listing for "pure" (no self-help) hardcover nonfiction.


"Number 16? Is that actually on The List" (as it is known in the business)? "No," says, Neil. Slots 16-35 gets you on the "Also Selling," or extended list. I ask, "Can we claim to be a 'NYT Best Seller' on that basis?" "No," says Neil. Only 1 through 15 can claim that status.


Then it dawns on me: maybe I land on spot #16 and that's the best I ever do. The book becomes an asterisked entry in publishing history: close, but no cigar!


That news simply haunted me from Monday morning until Wednesday COB, when I knew I'd either get an email (slot #16 or worse) or a phone call (on The List!) from Neil. I will confess the tension made my blog a bit testy over those three days (yes, even I notice these things . . .).


It simply haunted me to think I'd come really close but somehow miss it, losing out to Jenny McCarthy or something like "Really Cool Secrets of the DaVinci Code!"


Hell, I thought to myself, if I had know how close it would end up being, I would have gone out and bought a thousand books myself (don't think it hasnít been tried by authors in the past . . .).


But what I was really feeling was that I had let a huge opportunity slip through my fingers. Putnam had 31 NYT best sellers last year, tops in the business. Nobody does it better than Putnamóthey're the frickin' New York Yankees of publishing. I mean, if I had the right stuff in this book, and put out as much as I could in all the media appearances they arranged, and I couldnít crack The List, exactly whose fault would that be?


I can tell how I would have felt (and frankly did feel until 4:45pm yesterday): like I had let Putnam down, not to mention everyone else associated with the book and my career.


I will confess I imagined Neil's happy call about 200 times in my head between Monday morning and Wednesday COB. What's amazing was that I forgot all about it when the call actually came, I was so busy typing away on some emails regarding future business travel down to Florida (Special Operations Command).


Then my cell phone buzzed on the table in front of me, and I glanced at the clock: quarter to five.


Shit!


I press the button and cringe, waiting to hear Neil's voice.


Sure enough, it's him, and that sparkly way he talks when he's really happy tells me in about two syllables that I'm getting great news here.


PNM will land on slot #14 of the NYT Best Seller list published on 20 June, just behind Richard Clarke and just above Dick Morris. How about that for a Father's Day gift!


Naturally, I was ecstatic, but even more so relieved. Mission accomplished on the hardcover, I told myself.


Still want "national bestseller," not to mention "international bestseller," although I confess I have no idea what either status implies in terms of cumulative sales figures, and then there's starting all over with the paperback. But for now, I've got something that can never be taken away: I've written a New York Times Best Seller.


Whatís so great about this, Neil and I instantly decide on the phone, is that this baby really sold itself in terms of the material. We didn't sneak onto The List through a crush of PR, but simply sold the materialóstraight upóon CSPAN with Brian Lamb. That was all it took in the end (in its fifth week out in print): a good 60 minutes to make my case.


In the book I wrote that someday you (the reader) would see me trying to summarize the book in a three-minute TV segment, and that it would be impossible. Thanks to CSPAN and Brian Lamb, I got the window I needed to really spell out the book, the vision, and who I am as an author, and thanks to that opportunity the reading public responded by making PNM a New York Times Best Seller.


Hereís the actual list that will be published for hard-cover nonfiction on 20 June:

1. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris

2. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

3. Big Russ and Me, by Tim Russert

4. Plan of Attack, by Bob Woodward

5. Father Joe, by Tony Hendra

6. Battle Ready, by Tom Clancy (with Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz)

7. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow

8. More Than Money, by Neil Cavuto

9. Founding Mothers, by Cokie Roberts

10. On the Down Low, by J.L. King (with Karen Hunter)

11. Secrets of the Code, edited by Dan Burstein

12. Three Weeks with My Brother, by Nicholas Sparks and Micah Sparks

13. Against All Enemies, by Richard A. Clarke

14. The Pentagonís New Map, by Thomas P.M. Barnett

15. Rewriting History, by Dick Morris (with Eileen McGann)

16. Truth & Beauty, by Ann Patchett [tied with Rewriting History].
Despite my hangover from last night's celebratory Bushmill's Irish Whiskey, hereís todayís catch:


A hopeful sign from the new Iraqi government

ìKurds Win Round On Constitution: Iraqís Interim Leader Puts Off Crisis on Autonomy,î by Dexter Filkins, New York Times, 10 June, p.A1.
Quelle surprise! Qaddafi continues to lie through his teeth
ìTwo Said to Tell Of Libyan Plot Against Saudi: Accounts of Plan to Kill Ruler of the Kingdom,î by Patrick E. Tyler, NYT, 10 June, p. A1.
Handicapping the Gap (Indonesia & Pakistan)
ìTerrorist Groups In Indonesia Shift To Assassinations,î by Donald Greenlees and John McBeth, Wall Street Journal, 10 June, p. A10.


ìMilitantís Defiance Puts Pakistanís Resolve in Doubt: Taliban Still Using Border as Haven,î by David Rohde and Mohammed Khan, NYT, 10 June, p. A3.

The swag on Asiaís booming oil demand
ìAs Oil Prices Rise, a Sense of Alarm in Asia,î by Wayne Arnold, NYT, 10 June, p. W1.


ìNow, a Great Leap Forward in Luxury: Automakers Hasten to Woo the Newly Wealthy in China,î by Keith Bradsher, NYT, 10 June, p. C1.


ìChinaís SUV Surge: Hulking Vehicles Catch On Despite Endless Traffic Jams And Official Push to Save Fuel,î by Joseph B. White, WSJ, 10 June, p. B1.

3:25AM

A hopeful sign from the new Iraqi government

ìKurds Win Round On Constitution: Iraqís Interim Leader Puts Off Crisis on Autonomy,î by Dexter Filkins, New York Times, 10 June, p. A1.


The new interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, in response to yesterdayís threats from Kurdish leaders that they might boycott the national elections in January, has declared that the interim government will continue to honor the minority rights enshrined in the interim constitution drafted in Marchóat least until the January 2005 elections.


Doesn't mean the problem is solved, just means Allawi is smart enough to realize he needs to temporize it for now and work on acceptable solutions in the meantime. Allawi seems pretty sharp on camera. It's awfully good to hear an Iraqi leader (however achieved) speak on behalf of events and policies thereóas opposed to Bremer or some US general.

3:24AM

Quelle surprise! Qaddafi continues to lie through his teeth

ìTwo Said to Tell Of Libyan Plot Against Saudi: Accounts of Plan to Kill Ruler of the Kingdom,î by Patrick E. Tyler, New York Times, 10 June, p. A1.


When my book came out, I felt a little odd about being so adamant about lumping Qaddafi in with the Saddams, Mugabe, and Kim Jong Ils of the Gap. Not because I didn't think it was right to do so, or that his recent about-face on WMD was anything other than his latest tactical sleight of hand designed to keep him in power. I just thought people would consider me such a hard-liner for talking up his removal after he "came clean" and was moving toward rehabilitation in the eyes of many in the US and Europe.


Then I figured, you know, he's such a screw-up that it won't be that long until something pops out in the open again. So all I needed to do was wait a while and Qaddafi's true colors would shine through again.


It wasn't a long wait. After spouting a host of nonsense at the recent Arab Summit, the word comes out nowóthanks to the confessions of two Libyan agentsóthat Qaddafi's intell chiefs had put into motion a plot to kill Saudi Arabia's top leader in order to send the country into a political tailspin. This was underway even as Qaddafi negotiated with the West to end his pariah status and stop the sanctions imposed on Libya for past sponsorship of terrorism.


Some change of heart. No wonder Crown Prince Abdullah and Qaddafi exchange insults publicly every chance they get. Now we know that the Saudis have known about this plot going back many months.


One of the agents interviewed claims he met personally with Qaddafi twice in 2003 to go over the details of the assassination plot.


The plot started in a simply brilliant fashion: Libyan agents go to London and spread around $2m in cash to recruit disgruntled Saudi dissidents to participate in the assassination. Boy, I'm sure nobody in the UK's intell services noticed that . . ..


The only reason why Qaddafi never quite rises to the top of the regime-change to-do list is thatóLockerbie asideóhis plots and his shenanigans are typically so idiotically managed that he's not much of a threat.


But this is a big oneóa major screw up that will tank almost all of what he's gained in recent months.


And I couldn't be happier, cause it couldn't happen to a bigger jackass than the Colonel.


The sad thing is: Libya has been ruled by this despotic jerk for more than three decades now (since 1969).

3:23AM

Handicapping the Gap (Indonesia & Pakistan)

ìTerrorist Groups In Indonesia Shift To Assassinations,î by Donald Greenlees and John McBeth, Wall Street Journal, 10 June, p. A10.


ìMilitantís Defiance Puts Pakistanís Resolve in Doubt: Taliban Still Using Border as Haven,î by David Rohde and Mohammed Khan, New York Times, 10 June, p. A3.


The al Qaeda-linked Indonesian terrorist network called Jemaah Islamiyah is moving from bomb attacks to targeted assassinations in their latest attempt to derail democracy there.


Top of the list? No surprise: the American, British, and Australian ambassadors. Next are CEOs of foreign companies doing business thereóespecially mining and energy. Oh, and key Indonesia public officials too, but first things first. For Jemaah Islamiyah to take power requires that Indonesia must first be disconnected politically and economically from the outside world.


Does this strategy remind anyone of al Qaeda's recent tactics in Saudi Arabia?


As for Pakistan, just another article describing how Musharref and Co. basically can't control a major chunk of their own countryóthe northwestern territory where local tribes treat the Taliban fighters who seek sanctuary there as their own. It's easy to complain, but hard to be surprised. After all, the US took advantage of these same people and these same relationships when we supported the mujaheddin in their lengthy effort to bring down the Soviet-backed Kabul government in Afghanistan across the 1980s.


Admitting that is not to blame America first, but simply to realize the long-term, very insular relationship networks we're trying to crack here.


Here's my scary prediction: eventually al Qaeda's gonna strike something big again somewhere where it pains us terribly, and we'll end up going into NW Pakistan big time. Not because we want to and not because it'll be easy (because it won't), but because it will just be so damn obvious that Osama and al Qaeda are based there and that if we're going to strike back, Pakistan will be where we have to go. Won't be an invasion per se, because Islamabad will have to be brought along, but it will be ugly.

3:22AM

The swag on Asiaís booming oil demand

ìAs Oil Prices Rise, a Sense of Alarm in Asia,î by Wayne Arnold, New York Times, 10 June, p. W1.


ìNow, a Great Leap Forward in Luxury: Automakers Hasten to Woo the Newly Wealthy in China,î by Keith Bradsher, NYT, 10 June, p. C1.


ìChinaís SUV Surge: Hulking Vehicles Catch On Despite Endless Traffic Jams And Official Push to Save Fuel,î by Joseph B. White, WSJ, 10 June, p. B1.


The articles are starting to appear about Asia realizing just how dependent they are on Middle Eastern oil. Expect to see more and more of them. Roughly 60% of the oil coming out of the Persian Gulf today goes to Asia, with Europe, North America and the rest of the world splitting the rest (US is about 16-18%, or less than one-fifth). So if there's an insurgency in Iraq and bombs going off at oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, it's not the U.S. who should be freaking most, but the Chinese and the Japanese and the South Koreans.


The first article describes energy ministers from SE Asia meeting with counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea to discuss how they can cooperate with one another in order to mitigate the geopolitical risks associated with their growing dependency on the Middle East's oil.


Hmmmmmm . . . maybe it's called helping the United States bring democracy to the Middle East? Or if that's too grand (and it is for a long time), then how about some peacekeepers on the ground in Iraq?


As Asia wakes up to this strategic reality, there are new security relationships to be forged that have less to do with intra-Asian security than with Asian-Middle Eastern economic networks.


So it may be "our war" in Iraq, but the "everything else" belongs mostly to Asia, and with China's growing taste for luxury cars and big SUVs, maybe that nation should be first in line to help the U.S. bring long-term security to the Middle East. The car population in China is expected to grow five-fold by 2025. If that's all hybrids and hydrogen cells, that's one MBD number (or Millions of Barrels of oil per Day), but if its Mercedes Benzes and Lincoln Navigators, that's an entirely different number.


In the Pentagon, they like to describe the uncertainty of future numbers, or projections, is terms of "swag," as in, "How much swag is attached to that number?" SWAG is an old acronym that stands for Scientific Wild-Ass Guess.


Right now, the swag on Asia's future oil dependency on the Persian Gulf is one of the biggest strategic security questions in international affairs. Do you hear much about it with regard to our current involvement in the Middle East? No. Should you? Absolutely. Because it's in that swag that we are likely to find the strategic partnerships that will come to shape much of the global future I believe is worth creating.

5:33AM

#4 on Foreign Affairs bestseller list, so why won't Times review it?

Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 8 June 2004


May bestseller list out on 4 June at Foreign Affairs website. Here's the list in full:

Foreign Affairs Bestseller List


The top-selling hardcover books on American foreign policy and international affairs. Rankings are based on national sales at Barnes & Noble stores and Barnes & Noble.com in May 2004.


POSTED JUNE 4, 2004


1 Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster (#1 last month)

2 Against All Enemies, Richard A. Clarke, Free Press, (2)

3 House of Bush, House of Saud, Craig Unger, Scribner, (3)

4 The Pentagon's New Map, Thomas P.M. Barnett, Putnam (11)

5 Colossus, Niall Ferguson, Penguin Press (13)

6 Who Are We? Samuel P. Huntington, Simon & Schuster (new)

7 Ghost Wars, Steve Coll, Penguin Press (4)

8 From Babel to Dragomans, Bernard Lewis, Oxford Univ Press (10)

9 The End of Oil, Paul Roberts, Houghton Mifflin (new)

10 Endgame, Thomas McInerney & Paul E. Vallely, Regnery (5)

11 Resurrecting Empire, Rashid Khalidi, Beacon Press (new)

12 Rise of the Vulcans, James Mann, Viking (6)

13 The Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson, Metropolitan (7)

14 Hegemony or Survival, Noam Chomsky, Metropolitan (12)

15 Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, Mahmood Mamdani, Pantheon (15)

Woodward, Clarke, Unger, Ferguson and Huntington have all already been reviewed in the Times, and the Washington Post too, but somehow my book doesn't rank a review. The NYT officially "passed," according to Putnam, who were flabbergasted.


I guess if you write that America's foreign policy is bad (or better yet, that Bush & Co are "evil" and here's my proof!"), then you get reviewed, but if you write something positive in terms of a vision, then you get ignored.


Tell me there's a more forward-looking and comprehensive examination of U.S. foreign policy and national security strategy on that listóand then ask yourself why such optimism seems to sell even as it gets discounted by the only-bad-news-is-real-news mass media.


Two articles in the Wall Street Journal cite polls of rich Americans in which both pools of respondents cite very high rates of fear about the futureóespecially with regard to terrorism. (1: "Geopolitical Risk Weighs on Market, by Michael R. Sesit, WSJ, 9 June, p. C16; and 2: "Effects of Terror On the Economy Worry the Rich," by Lynn Cowan, WSJ, 9 June, p. D9). In the first article, 75% of respondents said they were either pessimistic (40%) or deeply uncertain (35%) about the global geopolitical situation. In the second article, 89% said they were worried about terrorism's effect on the economy, up from 76% in 2002.


So no surprise that books full of fear sell, but maybe some surprise that my book full of hope likewise is selling. Apparently with all this fear running amok, people ARE hungry for something besides a steady diet of gloom and doom.


But I can't get reviewed by the NYT. Today they immediately put out a review of Michael Mandelbaum's new book on sports in Americaóhe that famous sports journalist (ahem) foreign policy expert. So Mandelbaum deconstructs the sports pages and he gets a review in the Times, but I deconstruct the Bush Administration's national security strategy in the global war on terrorism and still no review!


Makes me want to lapse into a Red Buttons-like roast routine . . . "Tom Barnett, who once said I'm not a cheesehead but a persona au gratinóhe never got a review in the Times!"


Then I notice the left-column page one story in the Wall Street Journal on "After Leukemia, Family Struggles To Define 'Normal,'" by Amy Dockser Marcus (WSJ, 9 June, p. A1), and I spot the chart of long-term cancer cure rates and read about how there is this huge growing pool of cancer survivorsómany of whom are children . . ..


And I know the time has finally come to seek formal publication of my previously only-posted-on-the-Internet manuscript, "The Emily Updates: A Year in the Life of a Three-Year-Old Battling Cancer." I'm already talking to Mark Warren, my personal editor on PNM, and my agent, Jennifer Gates, about how to pitch this mass-appeal book to publishers. I expect we'll be marketing a tight book proposal by the fall.


That book could and should have a sort of "Tuesdays with Morrie" broadband appeal . . . and maybe that book will get reviewed in the Times . . ..


Here's today's catch:


The Breakdown on Iraq

"Security Council Backs Resolution on Iraq Turnover: A 15-0 Vote for U.S.-Britain Plan To End Formal Occupation," by Warren Hoge, New York Times, 9 June, p. A1.


"Kurds Threaten To Walk Away From Iraqi State," by Dexter Filkins, NYT, 9 June, p. A1.


"8 Leaders Welcome U.N. Backing for Iraq Transition," by David E. Sanger and Richard W. Stevenson, NYT, 9 June, p. A3.


"Report Says Aid to Weak States Is Inadequate," by Elizabeth Becker, NYT, 9 June, p. A3.

In a war against individuals (not states), every individual counts
"Where Does Iraq Stand Among U.S. Wars? Total Casualties Compare to Spanish-American, Mexican, and 1812 Conflicts," by Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, 31 May, p. A16.


"As War Tolls Rises, Governors Face Delicate Decision: Some attend every funeral while others keep a low profile," by Katherine Q. Seelye, NYT, 9 June, p. A14.

Big Man in Zimbabwe: "It's mine, all mine!"
"Zimbabwe Announces A New Plan To Seize Land," by Michael Wines, NYT, 9 June, p. A13.
In China, freedom is 90% economic and 10% political
"Tiananmen Square Now Draws Protestors With Housing Issues: It's All Very Middle ClassóApartment Owners Who Have Pool Problems," by Jonathan Kaufman, Wall Street Journal, 9 June, p. A1.
Barnett hits home run in Providence Sunday night
"Pedro may be just a mere mortal now," Bill Reynolds, Providence Journal, 5 June, page 1, sports section.

4:57AM

The Breakdown on Iraq

"Security Council Backs Resolution on Iraq Turnover: A 15-0 Vote for U.S.-Britain Plan To End Formal Occupation," by Warren Hoge, New York Times, 9 June, p. A1.


"Kurds Threaten To Walk Away From Iraqi State," by Dexter Filkins, NYT, 9 June, p. A1.


"8 Leaders Welcome U.N. Backing for Iraq Transition," by David E. Sanger and Richard W. Stevenson, NYT, 9 June, p. A3.


"Report Says Aid to Weak States Is Inadequate," by Elizabeth Becker, NYT, 9 June, p. A3.


The Bush Administration gets what it needs from the U.N., not because it's what either side (US, UN) really wants, but because neither side (US, world) can afford to let the ball be dropped on 30 Juneósuch are the driving forces of this national election.


Fair enough. Schroeder won his election during the run-up to the war by bashing American unilateralism. Now we seek the mea culpa of a UN resolution to prove our multilateralismójust in time for the election.


But did we screw the pooch in the process? We give in on some language regarding the protection of minorities (read, Kurds in the north) in order to win Ayatollah Sistani's support in the Shiite south, and now the Kurds threaten to walk from the deal. The Kurds won some important language in the interim constitution adopted in March, language that spoke to minority rights (specifically the right to veto anything they couldn't live with in the permanent constitution).


I dunno, but that sounds awfully fair to me, given the history of Kurdish suffering at the hands of Iraq's central government. The U.S., not to mention the Sunnis and the Shiites, better examine whether it costs them more to give into Kurdish demands on this point or risk their rather vigorous attempts to succession later.


What the Kurds fear is basic and fundamental: they fear being disconnected from the outside world by an authoritarian ruled based in Baghdad. And they don't plan on going quietly after roughly a dozen years of freedom. The Kurds have constituted the problem-free zone for this occupation, and so the U.S. better figure out a way to reward them by protecting their growing connectivity with the outside world.


This baby cannot be thrown out with the bathwater.


The G-8 welcome the news of the UN resolution, but isn't it amazing we're still talking about only a G-8 in this day and age? No China, no India, no Brazil. This club is strictly Old Core + Russia. How can you have a summit on the global economy today and not have all the other key members of the New Core? And if the G-8 is moving in the direction of handling big security issues like Iraq and the reform of the Middle East, then don't you want China, India, etc. at the table?


Maybe if you did, you'd see the G-20 doing a whole lot better than the old G-7 at pushing aid in the direction of the Gap. The G-20 was Clinton's idea back in 1999 to expand the original G-7 financial ministers meeting to include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey (with two seats left open, one presumably for Indonesia and the other for Malaysia, Thailand, or some state of that sort). Unlike the G-8, however, this larger body is just for consultation, not key decision-making.


But imagine if it was, because then you'd have the entire Core basically around the table, able to act as an Executive Committee vis-‡-vis security issues inside the Gap, something Bush and Co. are clearly trying to move it in the direction of handling.


The Commission on Weak States and U.S. National Security is pushing for a new cabinet-level position on global development.


Hmmm.


Sounds like my Secretary of System Administration . . .


Check please!

4:49AM

In a war against individuals (not states), every individual counts

"Where Does Iraq Stand Among U.S. Wars? Total Casualties Compare to Spanish-American, Mexican, and 1812 Conflicts," by Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, 31 May, p. A16.


"As War Tolls Rises, Governors Face Delicate Decision: Some attend every funeral while others keep a low profile," by Katherine Q. Seelye, New York Times, 9 June, p. A14.


So far the war/occupation of Iraq is shaping up to be the second minor-most war in U.S. history. Clearly it surpasses the first Desert Storm, because we left Dodge on that one ASAPóthus buying us this second conflict in a two-for-one deal.


At 802 casualties and climbing, this tough slog will have to add 1.5 times more to get up to the total of the War of 1812, and basically triple to reach the total of the Spanish American War. For now, it's less than 1/36th of the Korean War and 1/56th of the Vietnam War. We'd have to lose 400 times more to equal World War II, which is yet another good reason why we shouldn't call these interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq (as big as they are) a global war on terrorism.


That's the big picture. The small picture is much harder. We generated the so-called Abrams Doctrine after Vietnam with regard to the Reserve Component (Reserves and National Guard). The doctrine, named for the Army Chief of Staff at the time, said we'd restructure the RC so that America could never go to war again without "asking" the American people by drawing up their neighbors from all over America. So, over time, the Pentagon loaded up the RC with the "everything else" that goes to war with the warfighting components of the active duty personnel in the four services.


Here's the irony of today: since that warfighting force is without peer, it actually can go to war without really tapping the RC, or without really "asking" for small-town America's support. But it can't do the "everything else" that follows war without relying very heavily on the Reserve Component, like we have been in Iraq since May 2003. So if the Pentagon can go to war without asking America, it can't keep the peace without asking America.


This is something governors all over America are discovering now, and this phenomenon of casualties from not just the professional active-duty military but from Guard units all over this country will dramatically change the nature of our future national debates on war, peace, and the messy parts that lie between those two conditions.

4:36AM

Big Man in Zimbabwe: "It's mine, all mine!"

"Zimbabwe Announces A New Plan To Seize Land," by Michael Wines, New York Times, 9 June, p. A13.


Quelle surprise! Four years ago the Mugabe government basically seized most of the farmlands owned by whites. Some justice there, although a huge loss resulted when all those farmers were lost to the system of production. Well, at least those farms were divided up and given to average blacks, right? Not so fast. Only those who support Mugabeís ruling party, the ZANU-PF, got the vast bulk of the land, leaving the majority still shut out..


Those seizures triggered a collapse of the agricultural business that decimated the economy. Now, the UN estimates that two-thirds of Zimbabweís population faces either malnutrition oróGod forbidóworse in looming food shortages.


So Mugabeís answer? He now seeks to grab all the remaining farmlands and declare them property of the state. What will he do with them? Rule ìon behalf of the people,î of course.


I see only more blacks going hungry in Zimbabwe as the Great Man there continues to treat the national economy like his household economy.


What will the world do about it? Nothing. The UN. Theyíll throw some meaningless sanctions at the problem.


Mugabe will go down in a civil war or thanks to outside intervening forces. Either way, expect the Marines to show up sometime within the next five yearsóguaranteed.

4:33AM

In China, freedom is 90% economic and 10% political

"Tiananmen Square Now Draws Protestors With Housing Issues: It's All Very Middle ClassóApartment Owners Who Have Pool Problems," by Jonathan Kaufman, Wall Street Journal, 9 June, p. A1.


Tiananmen Square is still the place for protestsójust not the sort we remember from 1989. Story I tell in my book: friend of mine in the democracy movement says, ìBefore Tiananmen, we thought freedom was 90% political and 10% economic, but now we know itís 90% economic and 10% political.


Think about your own life and how you define freedom 24/7. It is 90% economic (buy what I want, from whomever I want, etc.) and maybe 10% political (vote here and there, protest this, write a letter on that).


So is it any surprise that a decade and a half later, the biggest and most regular protests in Tiananmen are mostly about middle-class economic issues?


You know what the biggest political phenomenon is right now in Beijing? Radical homeownersí associations! What do they bitch about? ìÖ issues like poor construction, lack of green space, and inadequate parking.î


Yes, China is the future of global security threat alright . . .. It could become another California! [God forbid!]