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Book Note

Friday, December 28th, 2007

One of the pleasures of  Christmas is that a majority of my friends and relatives with whom I exchange gifts save themselves trouble and get me something I can actually use, i.e. – gift cards for new books.  That, coupled with accumulated Amazon gift certificates from the past year, means I will be on a book-buying bonanza next week. Huzzah!

Helpfully, Dr. Barnett has been on a reading marathon lately in preparation for writing the body of Book III and has published an extensive bilbiography of his effort with micro-reviews of most of the books. Worth checking out if you are a bibliophile like me:

More and more books

Four more books

More books

Blowing through books

Taking August to read …


Ha! Could not wait, so I just ordered the following from Amazon:

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah  by Olivier Roy


Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto is dead at the hands of a suicidal-assassin.

Responsibility has not yet been claimed but suspicion for Bhutto’s death will swiftly be put at the door of Islamist elements within the Pakistani military, particularly the ISI.  In my humble opinion, cooperation between agents of ISI and al Qaida-Taliban terrorists in assassinating Bhutto should not be ruled out.

Bhutto was neither as democratic nor as pro-American as her P.R. in the MSM implied and her party’s endemic addiction to corruption helped bring the military to power on numerous occasions in Pakistan’s history. That being said, the death of Benazir Bhutto is a significant destabilizer for a nuclear club nation that perpetually teeters on the brink of state failure.


Some Bhutto posts by respected blogfriends and other pundits:

The NewsHoggers   Thomas P.M. Barnett   Soob   tdaxp   Sic Semper Tyrannis   Wolf Pangloss

MountainRunner   SWJ Blog    New Yorker in DC   Belmont Club   Futurejacked    The Glittering Eye 





Update: Science, Strategy and War Symposium

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Today I realized that while I decided this in concert with some of the participants it was not all of the participants, nor did I ever send out an email. At least as far as I recall. OTOH, I don’t think anyone will object to this either:

The symposium on Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd by Colonel Frans Osinga, PhD, to be held at Chicago Boyz will take place the week of February 1st and not, as originally scheduled, this week. My apologies to any whose schedule may have been disrupted.

There will be more timely announcements and email prior to the new start date.

Fourth & Fifth Posts in Nuclear Policy Series: Armchair Generalist & Non Partisan Pundit

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Big Hat tip to Dave Schuler for these posts. Read the introduction here.

Jason Sigger of Armchair Generalist. Sigger has, for those who are unaware, a military background in CB warfare issues. An excerpt from his post:

US Nuclear Weapons Policy

“I am not going to have a long discussion on the proper role of nuclear weapons. If you want that understanding, go read Thomas Schelling’s “Arms and Influence.” I do want to outline the broad brush strokes of a progressive nuclear weapons policy that has a few main points of departure: 1) the US government will always need nuclear weapons as a strategic deterrent against other countries that have nuclear weapons; 2) the US government needs to minimize the possibility of a future nuclear conflict between other nations as well as between the United States and another major power; and 3) there is no such thing as a tactical nuke.

….US policy makers need to stop the practice of “deliberate ambiguity” as a diplomatic threat against other nations who are doing something the US government doesn’t like. We ought not threaten non-nuclear nation-states with nuclear weapons, as we did against Iraq in 1991 and 2003. Retaliating against chemical-biological weapons with nuclear weapons is not justifiable; this counters basic Cold War (Schelling) logic of rational deterrence. The message needs to be clear and simple: If you have nuclear weapons, you are now a target on our Single Integrated Operational Plan.

As for the second point, the US government needs to continue to pursue a strong nonproliferation strategy with both nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states. Part of this strategy must include acknowledgement that Israel has nuclear weapons, and that they are a part of the problem within the Middle East. I fail to understand the coy game played by US and Israeli politicians on this point. Until open discussions begin, how can we expect Iran, Syria, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia to discard the ambition of becoming a nuclear power? It’s basic deterrence theory again. I’m not suggesting that Israel give up its nukes; far from it, I want Israel to openly declare that they have nukes and will use them as part of its national strategy. This tact hasn’t hurt relations between the US government and India or Pakistan so far. “

Read the rest here.

Andy of Non Partisan Pundit:

21st Century Nuclear Strategy

“To begin with, I’d like to point out and discuss three important premises that I believe are critical:

1. Nuclear strategy is not isolated and is part of, and integral to, broader US strategy.  Although the concept of nuclear strategy as a mere portion of overall US strategy appears obvious and self-evident, debates on nuclear policy are still too often divorced from the “big picture” strategy debate.  It is my contention that nuclear policy differences among experts are those in the “blog tank” not primarily rooted in disputes over nuclear policy itself but represent disputes over broader US strategic policy and the role the US should and will play on the world stage in the 21st century.  Added to this mix is what “New World Order” the international system will morph into over the coming years and decades – a process which, in my view, is still ongoing.  Therefore, I would suggest the debate on US nuclear policy is really a debate on larger, more complex and highly-interrelated issues.

2. Related to the previous premise is my contention that the US lacks a coherent and defendable strategic vision or plan for the 21st century.  Without a coherent vision it becomes difficult to formulate coherent and integrated policies and nuclear policy is no exception.  The US appears to me divided and reticent after “winning” the cold war, unsure of where to go or what to do next beyond incrementalism and maintaining the status quo, particularly since interventionism is not working out so well.

3. Nuclear weapons cannot be 100% verifiably eliminated. The problem with eliminating nuclear weapons entirely is one of trust and verification.  For relatively new nuclear states, this is a difficult prospect, for the US, Russia, China, and others it is exceedingly difficult.  Ensuring that a country does not have a few weapons or material hidden away is virtually impossible given the nuclear history and accounting practices of many of these states.  Therefore, any agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons will require a relatively high degree of trust sans verification – a condition which states of all stripes will find difficult to accept.  This concern, however, can be partially addressed through limiting delivery platforms, as I’ll discuss later.”

Read the rest here.

I’m looking to have my contribution to Cheryl’s discussion up sometime late tomorrow night or possibly Friday.

Time Lapse Visualization of Complex Information

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

I’m hard at work on a post on nuclear policy right now ( that and cleaning up post-Xmas debris, assembling toys, getting batteries required, eating leftovers out of the fridge….) but here’s something quick ( literally) that merits your attention.

Courtesy of Dave Davison, graphic artist Stephanie Crowley:

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