MORAL COUNTERMEASURES AGAINST ANTI-GLOBALIZATION GUERILLAS
About two weeks ago an anonymous commenter asked of me ( and also Dan of tdaxp)
“What would an example of moral counter-blitz by the US against Al Qaeda? Are counters that have a negative effect on the morale of the external culture counter-productive? If so, what justifications would there be for short-term gains via negative counters-measures?”
Dan referenced Colonel John Boyd’s famed Patterns of Conflict brief, slides 105 -111 and then went on to give a more developed Boydian answer in the comments section of my post . The anonymous commenter also brought in to play John Robb’s post on Evo Morales. John followed up Sunday on his more formal blog by elaborating on a Morales Bolivia as a ” Gray Democracy” with gray denoting ” gray market” and not, as in the case of the EU or Japan, a sharply aging demographic.
So we have two types of strategic threats represented here for american policy makers to deal with – a 4GW conflict represented by al Qaida and an indirect ” Global Guerilla” geoeconomic and geopolitical attack in the vein of unrestricted warfare being played out on an international chessboard. Let us set al Qaida aside to look at the second threat so that we clarify its nature. John Robb wrote:
“Rogue democracies? Evo Morales (a very popular candidate for President of Bolivia), has given his support for legalizing coca production and voiced an intent to walk away from US anti-drug policies: “We are not interested in protecting US interests.” Additionally, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is actively using his countries oil wealth to subvert US policy in the region. “
In my opinion, neither Morales nor Chavez are democrats except in the same nominal sense as Slobodan Milosevic -i.e. participating in a democratic electoral system only to the extent that they can maximize outcomes for themselves. Chavez is a former putschist and Morales toppled two democratically elected governments with street demonstrations; the only democratic scenarios these guys respect are the elections that their side wins. At best, Morales and Chavez are illiberal populists and the only intelligent aspect of a generally hapless U.S. policy toward Venezuela has been not providing Chavez with an anti-yankee pretext to formally seize absolute power.
These men and the explicitly authoritarian political networks they represent are the enemy every bit as much as al Qaida. They are the global radical Left regrouped after the fall of the Soviets in a corporate merger with the world’s most atavistic cultural reactionaries.
The challenge of the alternative economic model Chavez and Morales represent America has seen before, though not for some time, in the form of state -directed capitalism of fascist and quasi-fascist states during the 1930’s and 1940’s, including Peron’s Argentina and managed trade type barter agreements pioneered by Hjalmar Schacht. Essentially, it is an anti-free market policy designed to control currency reserves ( back then we would have said gold) for the regime’s import priorities and allow the state to exert control over the direction of the economy without the responsibility of total state ownership ( though Chavez may go in that direction in time).
Without getting hung up on labels and arguments over Left-Right terminology, this is a quasi-autarkic policy designed to produce short term economic results for the regime and hold the effects of globalization at bay. It worked for about six years in the case of Nazi Germany and yielded a prodigious rearmament program before the internal contradictions of Schacht’s program brought the German economy to the breaking point – at which time Hitler’s gamble for a limited war with Poland resulted in WWII. This updated and far less coherent anti-gringo version of Schacht’s econmic wizardry runs against an American policy for a freer world of global trade dating back to The Atlantic Charter.
So, from a certain perspective, Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez and Osama bin Laden are all anti-Globalization warriors using different means toward the same end – a world of politically sealed fiefdoms with only slender threads of connectivity to the outside world being allowed by local oligarchies. As a strategic goal, it is a vision with wide appeal to undemocratic elites the world over, including a sizable section of the professoriate in Western countries. While the nationalist, anti-Western and anti-American demogogy will be about sovereignty and evil multinational corporations, the concealed reality has mostly to do with political mafias of iron-hearted men keeping their own people ignorant and shackled.
What ” moral countermeasures ” can be taken then by the United States ?
Looking at Boyd’s slide 108 where he discusses a ” counter-guerilla” program there are many sensible suggestions that can be adapted or extrapolated for use by civilian policy makers at State, Treasury and in the IC. Dan has already done so in the comments section to which I will add my own observations.
1. This is a global contest of grand strategy and it is asymmetrical in nature.
” Our win” which is a greater good for humanity in terms of prosperity and individual choice is not viewed that way by local elites. This is the ” Mubarak problem”. From their perspective it is better to rule a poorer country and stay firmly at the top of the pyramid than to share (or lose) power in a rich one. Since a majority of the world’s ruling classes stand to lose authority or relative status in a globalized and democratic world, the U.S. needs to prioritize its diplomatic order of battle. America against the world for the sake of consistency is a recipe for America isolated. One or two wars at a time please.
2. At the same time the United States must hold the moral high ground as the nation that empowers the poor of the world.
Not just rhetoric of democracy but offering the kind of economic connectivity that spurs grass-roots economic growth in the Gap states most open to our aid and trade. Microloan programs, educational grants, a revitalized Peace corps, access to cheap communication technology. Imagine the political impact if the United States led the way to providing global wireless broadband internet in nations too poor or with governments too incompetent or corrupt to establish conventional fiber optic infrastructure. All the poor would then have to do is get access to relatively inexpensive connection devices for which a family or village might pool their resources.
3, We can only communicate with our potential allies if we walk the talk and know their language.
By ” language” I mean that our public diplomacy has to speak to people of other nations in a referential script they find comprehensible even it is in a presidential speech being translated from English. Every country, culture and civilization has its unique touchstones and some of these are congruent with American values and the practical ” win-win” results we would like to achieve. All too often our representatives say things in a way to turn potential victory into a media moment of international awkwardness and embarrassment.
4. Shift from crisis management to pro-active innoculation
“Shrinking the Gap” should start with stealthy Sys Admin work where it is seemingly needed least and not begin with the Gap equivalent of failed state black holes. Dr. Barnett counsels such triage in Blueprint For Action in discussing regional priorities for the U.S. and the Core. We need to lift the Seam states up to the New Core and top tier Gap states into the Seam in an act of geopolitical inkblot tactics.
We would be demonstrating competency, success, empowerment and communication – nonzero sum scenarios – to the audience we need to reach.
And our opponents, by their very nature, cannot.