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3:29AM

The Review that got away

Datelineóabove the garage in Portsmouth, 11 April (Easter)


This poor blogger did everything within his power to actually finish the book, but had to stop at page 48, so insulted was he by my stupidity.


They say there are only two reviews in the world: one in which the reviewer trumpets the authorís intelligence or one in which he trumpets his own. Alas, this review falls into the latter category.


Because I reject chaos as a guiding principle of international relations, I am guilty of psychological aberration, delving into what he calls ìmagical thinkingî (our good doctor consults his American Psychiatric Glossaryóonline, of course, indicating his years of study in the field that allow him the opportunity to diagnose remotely).


The rest is too good to miss, especially his refuting my apparent inferences that former KGB are now training al Qaeda or that the elderly remnants of Baader-Meinhof are now plotting 9/11-the sequel. The logic by extrapolation is stunning. I might call it crazy, but Iím not a medical specialist like the reviewer, so I resist using such jargon. Instead, I realize now that I should have given up writing the book about the same place (page 48) that he gave up reading, discouraged and shamed as I am by this awesome display of put-downs.


I wish Tristero (ah the courage of the assumed online persona Ö) a happy life in the world that Richard Clarkeóprognosticator of prognosticatorsówould build for him. He will find his civil liberties well cared-for in that alternative universe. Dick is known for his kindness to lesser beings. They should get along just fine.


I have said it before and I will say it again: my stuff tends to be a Rorschach Test for most people: they only see what they already believe. Tristero tried to be objective all the way to page 48. He should be commended for his attention span. Especially since he seems to work alone.


You know, if he and the Village Voice guy got together, they could almost review one-fifth of the book online!


Found at: http://tristero.blogspot.com/#0399151753, at the blog of Tristero.


Iím going to have to have a talk with my publicist . . ..

4:14AM

Out of the tunnel...

. . .Onto the field


Datelineóin the basement watching ìThe Pink Pantherî (1964) with the kids, Portsmouth RI, 10 April


End of a long day. Got up this morning and headed to Providence Place Mall with my son to update my wardrobeóactually to buy my first suit in a decade. Indicative of how long it has been since I bought one, I actually asked the salesman at Nordstromís where the double-breasted suits were. They donít carry any at this time. Oops! Hard to look suave recovering from that one. Fortunately, the industry replacement for tall guys, the 3-button suit with no vent, was made for me. So I stocked up and got a tuxedo to boot (already set to use the latter in NYC in a couple of weeks when my Mom is up for an Edgar for her non-fiction study of female protagonists in mystery literature), laying out the bucks in my first actual in-person purchase of clothing for myself in the new millennium. True to my form, Iíve basically worn out all my suits to the point where Iíve got actual holes in them, and then, mustering a manly head of steam, I march into a menís department and replace my entire wardrobe in about three hours. My wifeís threats to burn my old suits could have been a trigger, but I donít wanna go there . . ..


In a way, though, buying new suits was an even bigger step for me personally. Suits to me always meant DC, or, since 1998, going back to DC. When I came to the War College I was clearly running away from DC and all it represented to me at that timeóboth professionally (the chronic negativism) and personally (my firstbornís long struggle with cancer there). With my gag reflex (physical, not ideological), I really try to avoid collars and ties whenever possible, so ìNewport casualî at the college was just perfect. To return to DC on business, which I did with great frequency, meant suiting up and going back into that gladiatorial arenaóbasically a negative experience.


But the book coming out in just 17 days puts me in a different frame of reference: I am returning to the world (okay, just New York, DC and Boston on my three-city media tour). I am reconnecting with a sense of ambition and a desire to generate deep change in the world around me. The book is a serious statement of who I am, what I know, what I believe, and where I want to goóas a person, nation, planet. I am suiting up now because I am gearing up for that future worth creating.


My Dadís recent death only lends impetus to the whole affair. I thought of him several times as the tailor marked my coats and pantsóyou are never really the man until your old man dies. The man needs a suit to conduct the business at handóthe selling of a book, a vision, a future.


If I sound like Iím trying to talk myself into getting psyched, I am. Iím comfortable enough with who I am and where I am in this life that I can easily handle this book doing poorly. When I want to think about serious disappointment and despair, I think of my parents losing sons #2 and #3 before son #1 hit five, wondering is they were doomed to kids with birth defects and should stop trying to have any more.


I was their 8th child. Imagine how many days my old man got up and put on the suit to generate not just the income but the abiding faith that led that young couple all the way to having me a decade after burying two babies in the ground.


In short, I do feel like Iím here for a reasonóif only to pay back that sense of faith and optimism during hard times.


We are having hard times in this global war on terrorism, and in this rule set reset that American society has endured since 9/11 the System Perturbation threw all our conventional wisdom in flux. Not surprising, Washington is busy doing what Washington does best at these moments: dither. So we have investigations and testimony and accusations and counter-accusations and almost no decision-making of noteójust posturing on all sides.


So it seems a day of great cynicism as I survey stories from the NY Times (I get the Post mailed days later and no Wall Street Journal to scan today):


ìAfghan Route to Prosperity: Growing Poppies,î by Amy Waldman, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A1.


ìThe Parallels of Wars Past: In Lebanon, Israel Saw the Ghost of Vietnam; And Some See, for the U.S., a Lebanon in Iraq,î by James Bennet, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A1.


ìChinaís Martha Stewart, With Reasons to Smile,î by Howard W. French, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A4.


ìSony Pictures Buys Richard Clarkeís Book for the Screen,î Sharon Waxman, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A17.

4:03AM

Illicit goods: Market of the Disconnected

A Challenge for Natural Capitalism


Scan: ìAfghan Route to Prosperity: Growing Poppies,î by Amy Waldman, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A1.


Disconnected states often rely on the export of a single crucial raw material, like oil in the Middle East. The most disconnected states are those that market illicit goods, like drugs, because they need to stay off the networks by and large to avoid serious prosecution. Afghanistan, one of the great disconnected states of the last several decadesóhell, centuriesóis back in the business of selling the world heroin big time.


This rebound in drug trade is a serious threat to the government because of the corruptive element it introduces to politics. The problem for the American-backed government is, many of the guys in this trade are the same friends we made to take down the Taliban, which itself was deeply involved in the trade as a means of financing its terroristic regime. As fragile as the security rule set is in Afghanistan today, the government and the American military supporting it are wary of starting conflicts with what we used to call the ìnorthern alliance.î


Problem is, this is a vicious cycle: Afghanistan canít join the world on any significant level if heroin continues to account for roughly half its GDPóit just wonít work. But until Afghanistan joins the world, itís hard to see how its society can elevate itself much from what it remains today: too poor and too uneducated and too disconnected from economic opportunity to do anything but grow poppies.


In this global war on terrorism, this rebound in Afghanistanís drug production is a very bad MOE, or measure of effectiveness.

3:48AM

Arab or Iraqi nationalism: Oh, really?

What do you mean by that?


Scan: ìThe Parallels of Wars Past: In Lebanon, Israel Saw the Ghost of Vietnam; And Some See, for the U.S., a Lebanon in Iraq,î by James Bennet, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A1.


Good article in the sense that it is balanced and lacks the usual hysterical tone of so much analysis right now on Iraq. Basic judgment is that Vietnam is a stretch for a lot of obvious reasons, but that the lessons of Israel in Lebanon have much to teach the U.S.


While I buy that reasoning, by and large, I am still wary of it. Yes, I know that to radicalized Muslims in the Middle East, equating the actions of the Big Devil (U.S.) to the Little Devil (Israel) only makes sense, but to me, saying we have to lose in Iraq eventually just like Israel did in Lebanon is like hearing that weíd get bogged down into a never-ending guerrilla war in Afghanistan just like the Sovs did, or end up abandoning Iraq just like the Brits eventually did.


Like anybody else, I want to learn from the past, but I honestly believe that when America takes something on, we do it betteróor at least very differentlyóthan anybody else has in history. I believe that because we are the most amalgamated system/network/society/people in human history. If our unique mix of just about every type of person on the planet canít pull it off, then it simply cannot be done. Like my friend, James T. Kirk, I donít believe in the no-win scenario when it comes to the United States becauseóafter allówe are the states united, not just the French, or the English, or the Russians, or the whomever. We are the everybody assimilated.


Hmmm. Sounds like the Borg on some level. Ah yes, the super-connected hive . . .


But I digress.


All we can really take from the Israeli experience in Lebanon is that it is incredibly hard to reconnect a severely disconnected Arab state, and that the only states really compelled to try such an insanely difficult task tend to be democracies whose very existence is anathema to the forces of disconnectedness who currently hold sway over so much of that region, forces that constantly tell individuals what they canít have, canít listen to, canít say, canít do, canít visit, and so on. So we will have to learn to accept our status as pure devils in the eyes of these people, understanding that behind every terrorist hell-bent on disconnecting some chunk of the Middle East from that Westoxification called globalization stands large numbers of individuals who really do want to connect to the outside world and all the opportunity and freedom it represents.


Donít be fooled by any talk of Arab or Iraqi nationalism driving this process. This is a fight between those who want to rule that society as they please and those who want Iraqis to choose for themselves how and under what conditions they will live in a larger world.

3:34AM

"Martha Stewart" Tells

Scan: ìChinaís Martha Stewart, With Reasons to Smile,î by Howard W. French, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A4.


Story is about rise of Chinese version of Martha Stewart, or a TV-show hostess who tries to show average viewers there how to expand their lifestyles with all sorts of new and seemingly exotic practicesólike barbecuing.


You might say, but isnít China full of mostly poor people? Yes, there are hundreds of millions living lower-class lives, but thereís also a middle-class that rivals our own in sheer numbers, if not in purchasing power (within the Chinese economy and its rising standard of consumerism). So this Chinese Martha simply points the wayóconnecting her fellow countrywomen to a dream many may never achieve but most long for nonetheless.


Hereís my new rule: any country with its own Martha Stewart canít be considered a long-term military threatónot with all the time spent arranging those flowers, making that holiday decoration, etc.


Maybe someday soon this Martha Stewart will get caught up in some Chinese stock scandal. Then weíll know for sure that China is hot on our historical trail!

3:25AM

Coming Soon! Paranoid Fiction

Scan: ìSony Pictures Buys Richard Clarkeís Book for the Screen,î Sharon Waxman, New York Times, 10 Apr, p. A17.


This is perfect. Clarkeís book says virtually nothing of utility about the future, just points fingers of blame into the past. Clarkeís answer to terrorism is to kill them faster than they can grow them and firewall off America like nobodyís businessóand I mean nobodyís business would matter in his quest for homeland security.


What I find so hilarious about Hollywood liberals being so entranced with his story is that none of them would ever want to live in Richard Clarkeís Americaónot a single one. He is a scary, paranoid man who was always a scary, paranoid bureaucrat, which is why plenty feared him but few respected him.


Clarke is the epitome of war fought solely within the context of war; heís just decided his war is going to be against George Bush, and so now the enemies of his enemy are his friends.


Still, a non-narrative policy-wonk book getting low six-figures to be optioned by Sony . . . gives a man hope on a dark, dark day.


I mean, Iíve got the tux. Iím ready for my close-up. Itís showtime!


Postscript: "Telling, Timing, and Selling: Soul'd to Sony"

1:01PM

You say you want a coalition

"You say you got a real solution

Well, you know

We'd all love to see the plan"


Datelineóabove the garage in Portsmouth, 9 April


As I scan the newspapers today, I am beginning to realize why the editors at the Washington Post were excited enough about the piece I submitted to run it this Sunday. They consider it highly provocative and sure to elicit a lot of comment. Frankly, I considered it the tenth of the ten ideas we submitted to them (I and Putnam) a couple of weeks back, preferring to have written any of the other nine more than that one.


I felt that way primarily because it was the least developed, having begun mostly as a toss-off sort of end-of-response point that I made in response to an interview question from Junk Yard Blog concerning 3/11 in Madrid. Basically, I said, maybe the U.S. should spend less time worrying about what it takes to keep the paltry number of Old Core (meaning Europe) peacekeepers in Iraq and ask itself what it would take in terms of concluding deals with such New Core powers as Russia, India and China for far larger numbers.


Right now the U.S. has 135,000 troops in Iraq, and the 35 nations there with us have added a total of 20,000 troops, or about 500 per country on average. If you add up the classic Old Core European states such as the UK, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and the Netherlands, then already you're talking about over two-thirds of the mix. I get these numbers from 9 Apr Wall Street Journal story entitled, "Nations Helping in Iraq Are Under Fire at Home," by Michael Phillips et al., p. A4.


[And in getting those numbers, I realize that in my piece for the Post, I used the Polish numbers on peacekeepers [2,500] for the Spanish one [only 1,300], so I immediately call my editor at the Post. No worry, she says, they caught the mistake. She sends final copy to me and gives me one last chance to tweakóalways dangerous. However, I am so pleased by how the piece hums, given their final edits that I send it back with no proposed changes. This is a good Friday!]


My point is this: a sure sign that the U.S. hasn't sold this intervention, or this Big Bang strategy in the Middle East to the Core as a whole is that we're only able to attract Old Core peacekeepers to date. Again, if we had gotten those 17,000 peacekeepers from India months back, it's a very different ballgame, because India isn't exactly somebody who gets squeamish over terrorism or uprisings (see their years of effort in Kashmir or their bloody efforts in Sri Lanka with Tamil separatists).


If we had gotten India's troops, it's that much easier to attract a China who believes itself to be a far more important international security player than New Delhi, plus it really relies on all that oil coming out of the Gulf. Get those two in line (and yeah, quid pro quos would cost something), then Russia doesn't want to be left out. Get those three in Iraq, and tell me it isn't a whole lot easier to keep the Europeans.


But nobody is thinking this way. The Wall Street Journal today runs a story on Bush's options ("As Insurgency in Iraq Rages, Bush Faces Unappealing Options," Carla Anne Robbins, Christopher Cooper, and Neil King, Jr., 9 Apr, p. A1.) and when it gets to the section entitled "Getting Help," it's solely about getting more Europeans in there, or NATO itself. Apparently, kissing ass in Bonn and Paris is the only imaginable option. Isn't that pathetic? Everybody talking about this new world out there, and yet no one able to see that a new world equals new possibilities for strategic partnering!


If I'm John Kerry trying to live down that dumb-ass comment about foreign leaders secretly wanting me elected president, I would be speaking to my practical willingness to horse-trade with such New Core powers as a way to transform this "transformation" of the Middle East from its currently perceived all-American democracy-project status into a Core-wide effort to integrate Iraq into the global economy. Russian oil companies would gain access. Russia would be repaid all those Iraqi loans. India would be hailed (as it so wants to be) as a new security pillar of SW Asia, and China would secure its access to oil a whole lot more. The only thing standing between this future worth creating and our present suffering is our inability to negotiate without arrogance, and here I do blame the Bush Administration. All the little bridges burned over the ABM Treaty (what in God's name did that get us?), Kyoto (ditto!), the International Criminal Court (could have been explained much better in terms of Core-Gap difference in rule sets) now come back to haunt us. Or another way to put it is to say, all that "unilateralism" of the past few years really accomplished was to raise the price America inevitably ends up paying to win the peace in Iraq. Time to pay the piper, Mr. President.


Meanwhile, I selfishly wonder how the Post is going to title the piece. The staff is full of inveterate punsters. I cross my fingers and hope for the best.

12:12PM

Between Scylla and Charybdis

Targeting Japan in IraqóAn Easy Prediction


Reference: "Anguish in Japan After 3 Civilians Become Pawns in Rebels' Strike at an American Ally," by James Brooke, New York Times, 9 Apr, p. A10.


In my blog posted 19 March entitled, "Handicapping the Gap: Spain's 3/11," I made the following unremarkable prediction:

"With Old Europe seemingly wobbling, al Qaeda might well look to target the last of the trio of Old Core pillars, Japan. Thereís no need to conduct terrorism on their soil, now that Japan has gone through with the very difficult decision to send troops into harmís way in Iraq. So just about any reasonably successful strike against Japanese soldiers is guaranteed to register asóand you should get used to hearing this phraseóìthat nationís biggest single case of combat casualties since World War II.î That was the case for Italy when they lost roughly a dozen and a half personnel a while back in Iraq. It may sound like a stunning threshold, but it isnít. It just says that, except for the U.S., the Old Core pillars of Western Europe and Japan are so far removed from their warfighting past that any loss of life is a historical novelty sure to shock the populace."
Well, the previously unknown Mujahedeen Brigades took an even simpler route: it just grabbed three Japanese civilians to use them to blackmail Tokyo into withdrawing its peacekeeping troops, "the first dispatch of Japanese troops to a war zone since World War II" (watch for that phrase in the Washington Post article on Sunday). For now, Japan says it isn't budging, but the opposition party is already calling for a pullout, and parliamentary elections are looming in July.


If ten backpack bombs buys one election in Spain, can three hostages alter one in Japan? If you don't think hostages make an incumbent look weak in national elections, talk to Jimmy Carter, unelected in 1980.

11:38AM

On the kindness of strangers

Saudi Sister Doing It For HerselfóOnly in America!


Reference: "Saudi Woman Will Seek California Assembly Seat: Unusual Candidate in a Longshot Campaign," by Ben Bergman, New York Times, 9 Apr, p. A16.


Heart-warming tale of woman, Feiral Amin Masry, born in Saudi Arabia running as Democrat in heavily Republican district. If elected, she would be first Saudi native ever to hold elected office in U.S., according to Arab American Institute.


How is this viewed back home? "I'm the hottest thing in Saudi Arabia. All the newspapers have my pictures," she says. "They were fascinated [Saudi reporters and newspaper readers] by how I could run and how people could accept me."


You gotta love this woman: she speaks her mind freely (she is against the war), but is hugely proud of her son now serving in Iraq in the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion (as Sys Admin a force component as it gets). Is this a great country or what?


Let's hope Ralph Nader, the only Arab-American running for president, helps her out a bit.


Best part: this high-school teacher won the nomination through a write-in candidacy.


Dogville, my ass. I say, only in America can a woman-of-substance-but-no-power get such a shot strictly by relying on the kindness of strangers.

1:56PM

China: Ripe for deals!

Today's Good, Bad, and Ugly on China


Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth, 8 April


Got an email today from DC-based journalist requesting interview about China and energy, saying I was "expert" in this field. I'm not, actually. I've just written a bunch about the intersection of that field and everything else.


China's huge growth in energy touches upon so many aspects of the global economy that it impacts just about everything, which is why the subject is necessarily treated by so many non-China energy experts, like myself. Same thing applies to a host of other resource questions like food, whereófor exampleóyou get food non-experts like David Isenberg feeling the need to comment on how China impacts everyone else (he of telephone and network expertise). China is just that big and just that growing.


Plus China's just that motivated by current events. Story today in NY Times ("China, as Summer Nears, Braces for Power Shortages: Problem Continues to Hamper Growth," by Chris Buckley, 8 April, p. W1.) gives you a sense of the gun the Beijing leadership feels it's under. Remember, if you don't got the resources, you don't got the growth. And no growth means no stability, and . . . well, you know the rest.


If not, then buy the book.


But it's that sort of understanding of what China is facing that leads me to say, "These guys are ripe for deals!" Thus an underlying theme of my piece for the Washington Post's Outlook section this Sunday (today officially locked into place by the editors there): there is no country in the world more interested than China in stability in the Middle East. This is a huge leverage we have over them, if only the grand strategists on our end simply gazed beyond the tips of their noses (or maybe just past the straits of Taiwan). An advantage in negotiations is when you know somebody needs something very bad and it's within your power to help them get itófor a price.


What do we ask China for in return? How about 20,000 peacekeeping troops in Iraq?


But nooooh! Can't disturb the perfect historical trajectory of the "near-peer competitor" so much desired by Pentagon war planners. If we did that, they'd end up having to figure out how to wage peace as effectively as they wage war.


Hmmm.


You know, that all starts to come together kinda nice when you think of it Ö


And that's what I told Juyan Zhang of the Washington Observer Weekly when he interviewed me by phone today. [The man had the gall to ask me how I wanted to be identified! Why, as the author of Ö! He also asked if he might quote my blog. Sigh! If you must!]


That was the Bad (so I started in the middle!), now here's the Ugly.

1:41PM

China: Synchronizing Rule Sets

The Ugly.


"A Democratic China? Not So Fast, Beijing Leaders Say," by Joseph Kahn, New York Times, 8 April, p. A3.


A rather mindless piece from an otherwise great journalist and China-watcher. All about how China isn't letting Hong Kong set the democracy standard for the country as a whole. Quelle surprise!


With all the things on the table for China over the next decade, can we expect them to turn open the floodgates on democracy? My point is this: China is giving its citizens a greater say in their own affairs across a whole host of issues, but the Communist Party is definitely holding the line on politics. So do we condemn this aspect or encourage all the other ways China is synchronizing its internal rule sets with the emerging global rule set?


I say stop being so damn impatient and ethno-centric. The U.S. was amazingly undemocratic for a very long time. Remember slavery? Women not being able to vote? African-Americans not having much in the way of civil rights? Gays being told they can't seek legal unions?


[Easy, easy!]


Put down that stone, Joe, and listen up on the Good for today.

1:40PM

China: Pool of consumers

The Good.


Wall Street Journal story, "China Eases Its Grip on Media: Beijing Eventually Hopes to Create Its Own Industry Titans," by Kathy Chen, 8 Apr, p. A14.


"This is really the year of media reforms," says one Beijing-based media consultant.


Does news remain off-limits in this reform package? Yup. But everyone there knows that the balance of power is shifting on this score nonetheless. As one government official admits, "We can't do this long term. But in the short term we will do it this way."


What drives this process of internal rule set synchronization with the emerging global rule set? The World Trade Organization, which is doing more right now to reform China than any other force on the planet, except their own driving need to accommodate all that growth.


In the end, though, China wants to open up its media because they want to keep the profits home as much as possible. China is a huge, book-reading, movie-watching, TV-staring pool of consumers. Beijing wants to capture that pie for its own companies just as much as any other country's media players do.


Yeah, that's rightóand I call it capitalism!


There you have it: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Another display of the amazing complexity that is China.


Boy, I hope he quotes the weblog.

1:27PM

Dissing Arms Control

More Signs That Arms Control is Dead and Buried


Wall Street Journal article entitled, "An Atomic Bargain Hampers the Hunt For Illicit Weapons: Top Watchdog Agency Has Strictly Limited PowersóAnd Conflicting Missions," by Carla Anne Robbins, 8 Apr, p. A1.


All you need to know from this article is stated in the first paragraph (as it is in most WSJ articles, which are the best written in the business):

"The International Atomic Energy Agency is the world's nuclear watchdog, charged with stopping the spread of nuclear weaponry. But it's a watchdog with a split personality: The IAEA is also charged with promoting the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy."
The IAEA's rule set on this is clear: if you foreswear nuclear weapons, it will help you build nuclear power plants. Sound a bit crazy? It's not. It just shows the incredible dis-utility of trying to control the spread of technology from the Core to the Gap. I, myself, don't want to see that technology spread controlled, but turned wide open, because I think that flow is important for shrinking the Gap, and because I believe such flows are virtually impossible to control.


The answer is not stopping the technology, but replacing the leadership of any country that uses it for the generation of WMD. Yes, this is a matter of telling them to "do as we say and not as we do," just like when parents tell kids that even though they "experimented" with drugs way back then, it's a bad idea for their kids to do the same today. If we can't get any smarter as we get older, then it is hopeless.


The same is true for countries. America is "old" when it comes to nukes, and frankly, it knows better, otherwise we would have used them again and again after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So we are empowered to enforce this rule set, because it's good for everyone and not just ourselves. Sometimes Dad just has to be the dad.


And when non-state actors make any motion toward acquiring such technology, there should be no preliminaries whatsoever. Those people you take down without even asking them to surrender, because you know they will be up to no good.


Bottom line: the Core never does any good trying to control the flow of dangerous technologies to the Gap. We should abandon these efforts and focus on the bad guys there who will do harm the first chance they get. Since they're devoted to breaking the rules, they will always find ways around the sanctions, decrees, etc. that we throw at them. Moreover, these sanctions always end up hurting the masses while making the corrupt elites rich inside the Gap. They are a complete waste of timeóa choice barely above complete inaction.

1:11PM

Marines: Cop on the beat

Same As It Ever WasóThe Marines and Small Wars


Here's a great article by favorite of mine, Greg Jaffe of Wall Street Journal entitled, "For Guidance in Iraq, Marines Rediscover A 1940s Manual: Small-War Secrets Include: Tips on Nation-Building, The Care of Pack Mules," 8 April, p. A1.


Why is this book so hot right now inside the Pentagon? We've simply forgotten how to do these thingsólike wage the peace after we've won the war. The Marines have been doing this for their entire existenceóthe small stuff, the details, the Military Operations Other Than War. I know, I know, "them's fighting words" to some Marines who see the Corps as the preeminent warfighting force. But that's the truth: the Marines were built exactly for things "other than war." They're the preeminent 9-1-1 emergency response force. The first-in and last-out and left-behind-on-their-own guys. That's why they have to be so G.D. tough and self-reliant.


Rediscovering their past is how the Marines, and the rest of DoD, is going to deal with the future task of shrinking the Gapóone hellhole at a time. As I say in the book, dealing with the Gap mostly requires that we remember who we are and how we got here. The Gap is stuck in the past, so old solutions repackaged in new practices will be the order of the day in many instances. These small things will form the essential workload of the Sys Admin force I envisionóthe cop walking the beat across the Gap.


And yes, much of the time that cop will be a Marine.

3:49PM

Heading home ...

Dateline: United commuter jet from DC Dulles to Providence, 7 April, afternoon


Very glad to be finally heading home for a stretch. It was three days in NYC week before last on Putnam media tour, then Saturday home, then three days in Phoenix, then four days in Wisconsin and a Sunday home, and now just finishing three days in DC. I havenít traveled like this is a long time, and look forward to my own bed.


With any luck, I will hold hard copy of galleys from Esquire in my hands tomorrow, which should be as exciting as the first time. Mark Warren at Esquire (editor of my book) is reorganizing the piece with my blessing, showing his usual flair for step-functioning the argument much better than I do.


A collection of articles today from Wall Street Journal (getting to be my favorite) and NY Times:


ìMadrid Bombing Suspect Is Key al Qaeda Liaison,î by Keith Johnson and David Crawford, Wall Street Journal, 7 April, A17.


ìAs NATO Grows, So Do Russiaís Worries,î by Sergei Ivanov, Russian Foreign Minister, New York Times, 7 Apr, p. A21


ìSince í94 Horror, Rwandans Turn Toward Islam,î by Marc Lacy, New York Times, 7 Apr, p. A1.


ìDemocrats Are in an Odd Position on Iraq: Kerry, Critical of the War, Has Done Little To Differentiate His Approach From Bushís,î by Christopher Cooper and Greg Hitt, Wall Street Journal, 7 April, p. A4

3:38PM

Key node in the network

ìMadrid Bombing Suspect Is Key al Qaeda Liaisonî

by Keith Johnson and David Crawford, Wall Street Journal, 7 April, A17.


This one follows up my previous post about how hard it can seem to label the Madrid bombers (Tunisian group, Moroccan group, al Qaeda, or al Qaeda franchise? -- see The Branding of a Networked Opponent)


Iíll give you the first couple of paragraphs:

ìThe suspected mastermind in the March 11 train bombings in Madrid has connections to several major al Qaeda attacks in recent years, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S., suggesting that the Madrid bombings were more centrally organized than previously thought.


The career of Amer el Azizi sheds light on how al Qaeda is bringing jihad, or holy war, to Europe. According to investigators, he is the liaison between the raw and fanatical North African recruits who served as foot soldiers in the Madrid bombings and battle-hardened al Qaeda troops like himself.î

Nice accompanying chart details his linkages to 9/11, 3/11, Iraq insurgency, terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, and Casablanca bombings.


This guy is a ìconnector,î to use Malcolm Gladwellís phrase, or a key node in the network.

3:23PM

Follow-up: Russia-NATO

ìAs NATO Grows, So Do Russiaís Worriesî

by Sergei Ivanov, Russian Foreign Minister, New York Times, 7 Apr, p. A21.


Referencing TM Lutasí commentary on a previous post regarding the Belgian F-16s put into the Baltics, I really commend the tone of this piece.


First, note this one: ìIraq is now occupied by the United States and its allies, including some of the countries now joining NATO.î He says ìitsî allies. What that line tells me is that we have missed the boat in attracting Russia to that coalition, which is a shame, because they have real worries about Muslim terror groups and have a historical fear of the ìthreat from the South.î


But he goes on to say: ìRussiaís position is not that of a malicious onlooker, gloating over Americaís and NATOís failures. On the contrary, despite the differences that still exist between Russia and NATO, we want to cooperate with the alliance to ensure global security.î


Man, can someone get this guy a seat at the table?


Even China doesnít have one, and thatís a country that answered the call ìCheck please!î when the U.S. floated all those T-bills in early 2003 to pay for the war, so I guess weíre just not thinking far ahead enough.


Maybe if we had a Russian specialist as NSC boss . . ..

2:57PM

Islamic Balm

A Glimpse of the Future Clash of Civilizations


ìSince í94 Horror, Rwandans Turn Toward Islam,î by Marc Lacy, New York Times, 7 Apr, p. A1.


Here are the key exerpts:

ìWhen 800,000 of their countrymen were killed in massacres that began 10 years ago this week, many Rwandans lost faith not only in their government but in their religion as well. Today, in what is still a predominantly Catholic country, Islam is the fastest growing religion.


. . .


Although no accurate census has been done, Muslim leaders in Rwanda estimate they have about a million followers, or about 15 percent of the population. That, too, would represent a doubling of their numbers in the last 10 years.


Muslim leaders credit the gains to their ability during the 1994 massacres to shield most Muslims, and many other Rwandans, from certain death.î

Islam spreads in the Gap because Islam is a great survivalist religion, meaning it works well in terms of getting you through hard times. If we transform the Middle East and drive radical Islam out of there in coming years, then we will find ourselves having to do the same in sub-Saharan Africa as well.


Remember, though, Islam is not the problem, as I say in my book. It is a solution for hard times in the Gap, and a way to create personal connectivity in the midst of profound economic, political and security disconnectedness. We solve the disconnectedness, and Islam can serve more naturally as a religion and as a guide to lifeóand less as a desperate life-preserver or rationale for senseless violence.

2:10PM

What Kerry Needs to Say on Iraq

Reference is great WSJ article entitled,


ìDemocrats Are in an Odd Position on Iraq: Kerry, Critical of the War, Has Done Little To Differentiate His Approach From Bushísî

by Christopher Cooper (good guy I know) and Greg Hitt, 7 April, p. A4.


As my inspiration here, I will cite TM Lutasís comments on a previous post I made, where he asked what questions we as citizens should be asking candidates.


My comment on his comment is something I want to repeat and expand upon here.


Basically, I started by saying that this is how I would answer (if I were Kerry) the charge about voting for the war in Iraq but then voting against the $87B aid/military package that followed:


ìYes, I voted for the war because Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator who brutalized his own people, both threatened and engaged his neighbors with war, and becauseóover the course of his cruel reignóhe did seek (and use) WMD, plus support terrorism where he could. He didnít need to be committing those actual crimes against humanity the very second we took him down. He had multiple outstanding warrants and we rightfully toppled him at a time of our choosingóin order to suffer the minimal loss of life among our soldiers.


Why I voted against the $87B aid/military follow-on package is because I didnít see a strategic vision attached to this request that told me the White House or the Pentagon had a clear sense of what they were getting into, much less a coherent long-term plan to win the peace while more fully involving key allies. Thatís my job as Senator: to look hard at the rationales offered by the Executive Branch regarding funding requests. It is the essential power of the purse string and I used itówith no apologies.


We are in a serious mess now in Iraq. Our allies are under attackóin their homelands. Our troops are under attack. And our morale is being sapped by an administration that refuses to spell out sufficiently where weíre going both in this occupation but likewise in this global war on terrorism. We need more strategic vision than just a transfer date conveniently placed well-before our national election. Our attention span needs to be longer in something so critical as this effort to reconnect Iraqi society to the world outside.


We need answers from this administration, and we need them now. We donít know President Bushís because he hasnít supplied them, but here are mine . . ..


First off, let me promise you that as president I will put before Congress a National Security Act of 2005 that seriously revamps the Department of Defense and the intelligence community to meet the threats we face today. Neither institution as currently configured is a good match for the global war on terrorism, as both were constructed decades ago to fight a Cold War against an enemy that no longer exists. I wonít speculate too much right now on the details, because many good minds need to come together over this effort, but let me tell you this: we will have a military that can wage both war and peace.


Will that effort answer the mail today in Iraq? Not nearly fast enough, so let me make this my second solemn promise regarding national security in my administration: I will seek out the international communityófocusing especially on the emerging powers in this ever expanding global economyóto make the deals necessary to get them on board with us in Iraq. And by that I mean boots on the ground. America cannot integrate Iraq with the outside world all by itself, only the world can do that. But the world wonít do that until Iraq is secure and in that crucial effort, we need help.


The Bush Administration waged war quite skillfully in Iraq, but has waged the peace with mistake after mistake. I will make good on George Bushís campaign 2000 promise to direct a more ìhumbleî American foreign policy. There will be no putting our tail between our legs and no pull-out from Iraq, because weíre not leaving the Middle East until the Middle East joins the world. We just have to get allies around this worldóboth old and newóto believe in that future worth creating and to support this great nation in that task. Our servicemen and women currently standing watch in Iraq today deserve nothing less.


"Next question?î

1:55PM

More Favorable Mention

Dateline: above the garage on Windstone Drive in Portsmouth, 7 Apr


Checked my War College email once I got home from airport and found that Stan Crock of Business Week Online mentioned the book in his column yesterday distributed by MSNBC. Mr. Crock is one of the journalists I met during the Putnam Pre-meditated Media Tour in DC. We are hoping for a review from him.


Here's his entire article, which is worth reading for the sentiment as well as the plug:


Toward a Safer World