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Turner on Cultural Understanding and Influence In The Arena

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“]

   

Pete Turner (Right)                                                       Anthony Iannarino

“Alcohol and hand grenades” is always the mark of a great interview.

Some ZP readers are familiar with business strategist and sales expert S. Anthony Iannarino due to his highly regarded and widely read The Sales BlogAnthony also has a podcast, In the Arena and in this week’s episode he interviews another friend of ZP, Pete Turner of The Break it Down Show.

Pete and Anthony discuss HUMINT, cultural understanding, John Boyd, Afghanistan, 4GW, trust building, relationships, organizational cultures and making connections through respect, analogs to the business world, institutional “tribes”, cross-cultural interactions, books and much more.

Give it a listen here. Strongest recommendation.

Lexington Green Interviewed on Against the Current

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]

America 3.0 : Rebooting Prosperity in the 21st Century by James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus

Lexington Green” of Chicago Boyz blog, a.k.a Michael Lotus, co-author of America 3.0 was interviewed recently by Chicago talk radio host and TV commentator Dan   Proft, on Proft’s video podcast, Against the Current.

I heartily approve of the cigars.

Tune in for approximately fifty minutes of conversation regarding national and local politics, futurism, economics and political philosophy through the analytic prism of America 3.0 (a book I warmly endorse):

 

Pete Turner on “Collecting Instability”

Friday, June 12th, 2015

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]

Collection Center Collects Instability

Pete Turner of The Break it Down Show had a powerful post that encapsulated what is wrong with the American approach to intervention in foreign societies, both in terms of our aid and development programs as well as COIN and military assistance of various kinds.

Collection Center Collects Instability 

….A good example of what we did involves things called Collection Centers, which our government built to afford Afghan farmers a place to showcase products to vendors. The Center is supposed to create greater revenue for farmers. Despite the best of intent, and a lot of hard work, the program was and remains an utter disaster.

Why has the program been such a flop?

We, the US, came in and established these centers without ever considering how the existing system worked. We never bothered to determine how changing the system might be accepted or rejected, or cause harm to those we intended to help. We didn’t consider if the Afghans even had a system (which, of course, they did).

Instead of defining the existing system and assessing whether or how our tool might address a need, we just came in and started changing things It didn’t work, and we barely cared that it didn’t; and we reported the opposite.-

An aside–the if you read the report, look for mentions of Afghan involvement in the process. You won’t find it.  

I spoke with an Army Major in charge of the program and asked him about the existing local market chain from grower to consumer. He admitted that he didn’t know about it. When I asked why he was trying to change it, I was met with silence.

We also never considered if we were creating a harmful situation for farmers, and that ignorance caused unexpected and undesirable outcomes. At the most basic level, Taliban fighters notice “western” influence. A farmer who uses (though they never actually did) the collection center is exposing his allegiance with the US and therefore putting his family and himself in jeopardy. Further, the farmer buyer relationship is established relationship. Changing the nature of their transaction is reckless in such a conservative, Taliban influenced place. What we can’t do is create a situation that is perceived to increase uncertainty for farmers.

We built these centers throughout Afghanistan. At every instance, covering multiple units, I observed the same poor US decision-making. We never bothered to involve our Afghan partners in the decisions and never allowed them to guide us on how to work within their system. We forced these centers upon the people of Afghanistan, and wasted more than money and resources in the process. We wasted opportunities to actually improve the lot of the farmer, which makes de-legitimizing the Taliban fighters more challenging.

Read the whole post here.

Turner wore many different hats in Iraq and Afghanistan but in one extended tour in Zabul, Pete worked closely with political science Professor Richard Ledet, who in addition to his scholarly expertise, was uncannily good at donning local attire and blending in with Afghan villagers.

Dr. Richard Ledet

Turner and his partner Jon, interviewed Ledet recently on their program:

What happens when an institution attempts to make changes intending to improve the lot of others? What if they ignore culture and fail to communicate with the people designed to receive a benefit from the change? We address these questions in ourepisode with Dr. Richard Ledet.

We are fans of Rich. He’s a warrior, professor, surfer, hunter, all-around brilliant, rugged dude. His current gig is working as a Poli Sci professor at Troy University in Troy Alabama. Rich and I worked together in Afghanistan studying how effective or “affective” our work was as US assets helping Afghans. It’s not common for Poli Sci professors to get so close to the ground truth, and then to be able to test our policy and strategic programs as they implemented at the lowest level. This experience, we believe, is fascinating and applies directly to the real world.

Listen to the interview here on The Break it Down Show.

OTB Radio

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I made an appearance, albeit an erratic one, on OTB Radio at the kind invitation of Dr. James Joyner of Outside the Beltway and the Atlantic Council, where we discussed Afghanistan with his co-host Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye.  It was a good conversation and a fun experience, marred only by a bizarre cascade of tech problems that were entirely on my side of the equation and for which I have to apologize to James and Dave. Ultimately, I may have been on air for 20-25 minutes or so, and at other times, today’s election was discussed.

OTB Radio – Tonight at 5:30 Eastern

The next episode of OTB Radio, our BlogTalkRadio program, will record and air live from 5:30-6:30 Eastern.

Dave Schuler and I will be joined by Zenpundit‘s Mark Safranski to talk about the “elections” in Afghanistan, today’s off-off-year elections in the USA, and the state of opportunity in America. 

We’ll also be taking calls at (646) 716-7030. Owing to a high trolls to legit callers ratio, however, we’ll be using the BTR chat feature to screen for legit calls.

Go here to listen to the OTB program.

The Democratic Party Crack-Up over Afghanistan

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

 

Some politics of foreign policy and war… 

An implicit theme of the “no drama” Obama administration is “You can trust Democrats with National Security“.

Until, of course, there is a roll call. Funding the Obama administration’s strategic policies in Afghanistan and Iraq are going to have to pass with Republican and Blue Dog Democrat votes as the graying, liberal,  Boomer Democrats in Congress relive ( for the 1000th vote) the one time they waved an anti-war sign on the quad back in ’69 after toking up a doobie in the dorm hall, and vote in a bloc against the leader of their party. Good. I hope they make an enormous media production out of it featuring the most extreme crazies in their caucus making abrasive, tone-deaf, comments on national television.

In 2010, the GOP ( if they have any political sense – a long shot at this juncture) may be running campaign commercials on how their Republican members stood solidly with the president against al Qaida when their Democratic counterparts did not.


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