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Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007


Defense and The National Interest has two powerpoint briefs up that are worth your time to read and review:

The first is in file format ( thus no link) available for download by Dr. Chet Richards, provocatively entitled ” Neocons and neolibs: Their Edifice Has Crumbled“.

Richards work is always worth consideration for the combination of conceptual boldness and analytical precision he employs. For example, instead of running with 4GW a priori, Richards asks and then answers the question if we are facing a new form of warfare:

“We don’t know – still being worked out. To be useful, it has to be something other than state military vs. state military or insurgency vs. a state. Possibilities include state vs. state (nonmilitary) and state vs. nonstate (other than classical insurgency).”

Like most of his previous briefs, Dr. Richards wastes little time getting to the heart of the matter in COIN situations – political and moral legitimacy – a difficult intangible to directly establish with military operations, particularly without the larger non-military context in mind and well-understood. This powerpoint is also, again like Richards’ earlier pieces, deeply rooted in the ideas of Colonel John Boyd. Richards suggests the possibility of aligning with, rather than against, insurgencies as a better geopolitical bet. Though he does not mention it, this was a policy most recently used by the United States in the 1980’s against Soviet clients in the form of The Reagan Doctrine with varying degrees of success, but abandoned by the first President Bush in favor of a return to direct military intervention.

The second brief is by Colonel G.I. Wilson, one of the originators of 4GW theory, entitled “Terrorism:Psychology and Kinetics” (PDF). A short meta-analysis of literature on terrorist psychology, the most interesting sections deal with the terrorist profile and cognitive restructuring to dehumanize potential terrorist targets ( a process we also see, historically speaking, on a larger scale to psychologically prepare a society or movement to commit genocide). Wilson stresses the heterogeneous nature and rational functionality of terrorist groups, at least within the context of their own cognitively restructured terms.

This strikes me as likely, as I recall reading that researchers had previously determined from the 1970’s and 1980’s studies that ” professional” terrorist recruiters were at pains to screen out the obviously disturbed psychopaths and nut cases who might threaten group harmony.

More posts to come later today.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007


Dr. Barnett used the widely circulated Belmont Club post ” The Blogosphere at War” to make some salient points about the intelligence community and the blogosphere:

“What Wretchard describes is essentially the competition the unclassified blogs are already offering the classified world of the intelligence community, which is why the IC is replicating this function from within (problem being, it’s still the same isolated, self-selecting community inside the IC, just armed with different conversation tools).”

As it has been put previously elsewhere regarding intellipedia, social networking software isn’t going to work if the users express great reluctance to be social. Blogs are only read if the blogger puts down something interesting in a post.However that doesn’t impugn the utility of the tools, just the users. Effectively using such “conversational tools” on a large scale will require significant cultural evolution -if not a revolution – within the IC, but it is heartening that there is at least, a start ( Haft of the Spear and Kent’s Imperative have written on the new tools more than once).

The psychological change could come with generational turnover but we really don’t have the luxury of adopting a leisurely pace in the middle of a war just so that so that USG graybeards who have their secretaries print out their email won’t be thrown into “futureshock”. The inch wide and mile deep vertical thinking style, reinforced by security compartmentalization is simply going to have to change in an era when a pediatrician and a multimillionaire construction company owner can launch a transnational insurgency.

“That opponents already actively target this realm says several things: 1) the blogosphere is more immediate and responsive than the IC to both pulsing from without and self-correction on bad analysis (the blogosphere is nothing if not cruelly self-critical,and gleefully so); 2) this gap is likely to widen, thus making the blogosphere the more natural target for information operations (which means we should meet this challenge symmetrically, and yes, the IC considers this option very seriously, but I suspect it will be terrible at it (and already is) for all the usual cultural reasons (it’s just not the personality they attract, not in the individual skills, but in the confident capacity to act en masse, although a generational shift within the IC may fix that with time); and 3) shaping hearts and minds goes both ways (an essential reality of 4GW).

Many in the U.S. national security establishment will want to go symmetrical on this score, but I think that would be a mistake and probably fruitless. I believe the blogosphere will evolve and grow in such way as to allow it to handle this field of perceptions battle quite nicely, making it within a decade or so to be more important than the IC itself in the Long War.”

The learning curve for the blogosphere will be less steep on this score when a few veteran experts on planting disinformation, orchestrating black propaganda and other elements of psychological warfare begin some blogs that critique the ongoing IO campaigns that swirl through the media the way that that former political consultants were hired as talking heads to deconstruct the tricks of election campaigns.

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