Some great posts out there this week. Picking a top billing was tough.
Top Billing! Information Dissemination – The Calm Before The Storm in Haiti
One topic kept popping up today among many observers: why is China kicking the State Department’s ass in strategic communication in Haiti? It doesn’t look good when somehow the Chinese can get a fully loaded plane into Haiti all the way from China before we can get many of our own search and rescue teams in from the US. I sat dumbfounded watching CNN this afternoon seeing a big red Chinese flag waiving in the background, and became frustrated when I saw a different Chinese flag an hour later behind an NBC reporter in a different area. There cannot possibly be that many Chinese in Haiti already, and they did bring humanitarian supplies and not flags, right? What the heck is going on?
This is soft power; symbolism and perception matters a lot to achieving strategic objectives in disaster recovery and humanitarian response operations. In the opening hours of crisis, the people are still in shock. The first 48 hours is the calm before the storm, and every detail in public communication and public diplomacy matters. I was seriously impressed when I saw State Department folks engaged in an actual conversation on Twitter today, but every element of government needs to get organized a bit better in the online space.
Galrahn has become so much the # 1 “go-to Navy blog guy” that it is all to easy to overlook the fact that he is also a very shrewd analyst for strategic and political issues. This post demonstrates why (and I bet Ray does not speak even a word of Creole).
The Scholar’s Stage – America’s Greatest Challenge — and Danger
The people have no desire to govern America’s Republic. The oligarchy of good intentions maintains its dominance over society by claiming that its members are the sole possessors of the knowledge needed to hold the reigns of enterprise and state. This claim is for the most part true. Across the board, Americans are woefully ill informed in the fields of science, civics, and history. The worldview of the average citizen is provincial, the media he consumes even more so. There is little indication this will change any time in the near future. To the contrary, the population of the United States is marked by a multi-generational decline in political participation matched only by the nation’s falling levels of civic engagement. With pure passivity the public gazed on as its access to the conduits of power were cut off one by one; without raising a voice in protest the people have have seen their liberties stripped away. Those few items that can capture the interest of the citizenry are petty – popular public discourse is but a competition to see who can fit the most theatrics into a seven second sound bite, politics but a never-ending game of governmental “Gotcha!” Such is needed to keep the attention of a population obsessed with the flashy and trivial; the affairs of the country one has no affection for pale in comparison to the allures of the circus. Bread also has a part to play: in an age where voluntary associations have collapsed and economic disparity is growing, every trial and tribulation has become a problem best solved by someone else.
T. Greer is a commenter here and on numerous friendly blogs and has, if I am not mistaken, an academic background in classical studies ( correct me if I am mistaken, T. Greer).
The first, on General Maxwell Taylor runs against the usual professional historical opinion of General Taylor, which is influenced by the historiography of the Vietnam War, where Taylor was first an adviser to President Kennedy and then later Chairman of the JCS and Ambassador to South Vietnam. The second is about Major Jim Gant, author of “One Tribe at a Time“.
All Things Counterterrorism – Abu Dujana al Khorasani
Leah investigates a shadowy jihadi figure and serves as a springboard for a guest post here on Tuesday by Charles Cameron.
Kings of War – Are you experienced?
Hat tip to Schmedlap who also sums up the issue well in the comments section at KoW.
Tactical questions require somebody with tactical experience and know-how and not inexperienced kibbitzers ( like…..me!). Strategic problems by contrast, are not solved with tactical answers, as frustrating as that may be to practitioners. Moreover, there isn’t a single field or domain of knowledge or graybeard guru that can provide all the answers for questions of strategy. Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Machiavelli, Musashi, Metternich, Jomini, Boyd, Bismarck, Liddell-Hart, Talleyrand, Kennan, Kissinger, Wohlstetter and so on have many answers but not “the answer” to crafting a winning strategy.