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Blogfriends on the Make

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Galrahn of Information Dissemination was interviewed by James Joyner and Dave Schuler at OTB Radio. The interview is approximately an hour. 

OTB Radio – Tonight at 7 Eastern 

As usual, Dave Schuler will co-host.  We’ll be joined tonight by Raymond Pritchett, who blogs under the pseudonym Galrahn at Information Dissemination and the United States Naval Institute Blog.  We’ll talk about the Somali pirates, the state of the U.S. Navy, and the Tea Party Protests.


Tom Barnett has a muscular op-ed piece up in Esquire Magazine that is making some waves:

Inside the War Against Robert Gates

….When it came to selling that paradigm shift, Gates didn’t need to convince the military itself – the ascendant Army and Marine corps have suffered enough casualties to have learned it the hard way. And quite honestly, Gates needn’t worry about the defense industry’s willingness to follow the money, because Lockheed Martin and L-3 have been snatching up enough blue-chip companies to prove they can spot the Pentagon’s future funding spigots.

Turns out you can find Gates’s biggest antagonists in the halls of Congress, where the battle cry of “Jobs, jobs, jobs!” echoes the military’s growing embrace of funding for the manpower that’ll keep this counter-insurgency movement as successful as it’s become. So even amidst all this fighting and dying – neither of which is likely to slow down any time soon – the American military’s newest struggle seems to come down to one question: whose economic stabilization package matters more?

Read the rest here.

Vote for The Glittering Eye!

Monday, January 5th, 2009

I hereby formally give the coveted Zenpundit endorsement to Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye for the 2008 Weblog Awards in the category of “Best Small Blog”.

I’ve been interacting with Dave for the last five years and I can attest that there is nothing “small” about The Glittering Eye or Dave’s intellectual powers. Dave regularly dazzles with his grasp of a wide range of complex subjects and mastery of systems thinking; no doubt the reason that Dave was invited to join Outside the Beltway where he can also be found on a regular basis. The Glittering Eye is also, in these partisan times, a rare blogospheric oasis of civility, common sense and respect for facts over ideological cant.

Voting starts Monday. Vote early. Vote often.

The U.S. is Not Going to Disengage from the Mideast

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Dave Schuler of the Glittering Eye is involved in a formal debate at Outside the Beltway with Dr. Bernard Finel over the role of the United States in the Mideast. Dr. Finel is arguing for a grand bug-out, or at least a serious reduction in “footprint” and “fingerprint”, and Dave is going to argue the negative.

Here is the introduction by Dave:

Pulling Out: Debating Middle East Disengagement (Intro)

One of my common patterns of thought is to frame any given proposition as a debate proposal, I did so in this specific context, and said as much in the comments to the post. Dr Finel was kind of enough to respond to my comment with enthusiasm, welcoming a debate with me on the subject.

Over the next week or so we’ll be debating the following proposition:

Resolved: that the United States should disengage from the Middle East

Dr. Finel will make the affirmative case; I will provide the negative.

Dr. Finel’s affirmative case will be posted in the next day or so; it will be followed by my cross-examination; I’ll state my negative case; Dr. Finel will cross-examine me; and so on.

Debating is a form seen only occasionally in the blogosphere and I think this is an exciting project. The longer format, extending over multiple posts, will enable us to explore the subject in more detail than is usually found in the hit-and-run blog post. It’s an important topic and, regardless of the immediate situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, is worthy of substantial reflection, rarely seen as a consequence of the poverty of our public discourse which is mainly limited to headlines, op-eds, and sound bites and is often enmeshed in partisan squabbling.

Dr. Finel, who is a senior fellow at the American Security Project, has opened with the following post:

Pulling Out: Debating Middle East Disengagement (Affirmative)

….The second issue is oil. The U.S. presence in the Middle East does serve to reduce some of the risks associated with the Western world’s reliances on Middle Eastern oil. It does not lower the cost necessarily, but it may reduce some potential for volatility in supply. But the cost of this risk mitigation is tremendous. We pay for lowering the supply risk with increased risk of terrorist attacks, greater hostility from the Arab population, and the costs of men and materiel associated with military commitments. Are there other ways to reduce those risks? Of course there are. They include investments in alternative energy, oil exporation at home, better fuel efficiency from cars. Certainly those are costly measures in the short-run, but so is deep involvement in a volatile region. In the long-run, the calculus is easy. Energy independence is a strategic imperative.

This excerpt shortchanges the breadth of Finel’s argument, which you should read in full here.

First, I’d like to commend both gentlemen for making use of the formal debate method. Construction of a reasoned argument in a civil debate is the blogosphere at it’s best. I intend to follow this debate as it evolves.

I know Dave to be a deeply thoughtful, well informed and even tempered commentator. I do not know Dr. Finel, though his c.v. seems impressive to me and he probably has a number of interesting things to say on terrorism policy. As a strategist however, he is not winning me over, though in terms of tactics, he accurately identifies many points of irritation that traditional U.S. policy has for the Arab World. The answer for that irritant is not amputation.

The thesis that regions of the world will move to a better state of polity with an absence of American presence or influence is not “counterintuitive” as Finel suggests – it’s a position lacking in real world evidence. The world’s absolute worst regimes have the least interaction with the United States or with globalization and movements like Islamism have intrinsic drivers, not simple Act-React mechanisms.

Alternate energy sources are a long term – a very long term – solution. In terms of technological application with immediate policy effect, it is the equivalent of Edward Teller’s vision of SDI in 1987. By all means, invest in alternative energy but even throwing $ 100 billion at the problem in fiscal year 2009 is not going to disconnect the United States, much less the West, from oil in 2010 or even 2020. Any reduction in our own oil consumption by the use of alternate energy sources in coming decades will more than be made up by rising Asian demand and the Gulf will increase, rather than decrease, in importance as a geopolitical “choke point”.

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