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Archive for April, 2008

The Establishment’s Flagship Embraces 4GW

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Richard Haass  jumps the shark in Foreign Affairs:

The principal characteristic of twenty-first-century international relations is turning out to be nonpolarity: a world dominated not by one or two or even several states but rather by dozens of actors possessing and exercising various kinds of power. This represents a tectonic shift from the past.

….At first glance, the world today may appear to be multipolar. The major powers — China, the European Union (EU), India, Japan, Russia, and the United States — contain just over half the world’s people and account for 75 percent of global GDP and 80 percent of global defense spending. Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Today’s world differs in a fundamental way from one of classic multipolarity: there are many more power centers, and quite a few of these poles are not nation-states. Indeed, one of the cardinal features of the contemporary international system is that nation-states have lost their monopoly on power and in some domains their preeminence as well. States are being challenged from above, by regional and global organizations; from below, by militias; and from the side, by a variety of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and corporations. Power is now found in many hands and in many places.

Read the rest here.

Reassessing Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Perhaps it is the passage of time, or comparisons with the nixonian pugnacity of the Bush II administration, but liberal-left historians have begun to reassess the presidency of Ronald Reagan, a man they reviled at the time in apocalyptically bitter terms. Or condemned as a cipher, a “B movie actor” or in the words of Clark Clifford, “an amiable dunce” ( arrogant and corrupt, Clifford demonstrated his own intellectual brilliance as a political fixer and respectable front man for BCCI, an institutional vehicle for transnational organized crime networks and rogue states, avoiding Federal prosecution only due to advanced age and ill health).

The release of historical documents and Reagan’s private papers has undermined the “sleepwalking through history” meme, forcing historians to revise earlier opinions. Sean Wilentz, noted historian and a fervent liberal Democratic partisan, is acknowledging Reagan’s significance ( while still condemning all the policies that constituted “Reaganism”). At one time, among a majority of historians, this would have been tantamount to heresy:

Yet, by 2008, the surge of conservative politics that Reagan personified had survived brief interruption and temporary reversal and, like it or not, defined an entire political era–an era longer than that of either Thomas Jefferson or Andrew Jackson, longer than the Gilded Age or the Progressive Era, and as long as the period of liberal reform that stretched from the rise of the New Deal to the demise of the Great Society.

….Reagan did have a knack, though, for peaking when it counted: during his reelection year in 1984 and in his final year in office. He also proved a shrewd operator regarding the two issues he cared about most–taxes and the cold war. His two major tax cuts, in 1981 and 1986, redistributed wealth upward to the already wealthy and sent deficits soaring. He ultimately secured his chief objective, which was to skew the progressive tax system. It is almost impossible to imagine the top marginal rate on personal income ever climbing back up to 70 percent (the figure when Reagan was elected). That change alone has dramatically curtailed the possibilities for liberal government….

Perhaps in 2029, they’ll even be saying a kind word for George W. Bush.

Recommended Reading

Monday, April 28th, 2008

A longer one:

Top Billing! Matt Armstrong’s  extensive analysis of the DoD ” retired Generals” IO story -“What’s Behind the Hidden Hand is the Real Story“, “Smith-Mundt: a symposium to discuss its purpose, intent, and impact (the symposium that isn’t likely)”, “Exum’s Strategic Miscommunication and Smith-Mundt“, “Hidden Hand follow up“.

Threatswatch (Jay Fraser) -“Complex and Fundamental Contradictions of the GWOT

Kings of War -“AQ as Oddfellows?

Ross Mayfield -“Whipping up a batch of effective communications

The Strategist -“Vengeance is Mine

Steve DeAngelis -“The Growing Concern over Small Nukes

Presentation Zen-“Business manga: presenting Daniel H. Pink’s latest book

Knowledge Ecology Studies– “Life, the Internet and Everything: An Interview with Bruce Sterling” (Hat tip Munzenberg)

Err…hey…anybody ever notice that Swedish Meatballs Confidential and Kent’s Imperative tend to go “dark” at around the same time ? Gee, kinda like tracking pizza deliveries to the Pentagon….LOL!

Thoughts Illustrated -“The Long Tail of David Armano

Selil Blog New! to the Blogroll!

SolvationNew! to the Blogroll!

ubiwar.com– New! to the Blogroll!

IntelFusion -New! to the Blogroll!

Smitten Eagle – New! to the Blogroll!

Complex Terrain Laboratory -New! to the Blogroll!

That’s it!

Fragile States, Failed States and Spatial Anthropology

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

A pleasant downstream effect of having blogged for a while is that readers will send you interesting things from time to time. Like the following…

Check out: The Complex Terrain Laboratory


This is muddled and confusing. Human Terrain is “an emerging area of study”? No it’s not. Human “terrain” is a label, a metaphor, for guess what? History, geography, anthropology, sociology, psychology, communications, etc., etc. It’s “major goal is to create operational technologies”? No it’s not. That’s what mathematicians and engineers can deliver on multimillion dollar DoD contracts. Human terrain is, just in case anyone hasn’t read a newspaper or wireclip over the last few years, about people, what they think, their perceptions, their loyalties, the consequences they bear in wartime, the support they may or may not provide to insurgents, the physical, cultural, and informational spaces they create and occupy in  times of conflict and crisis. 

Freaking mad scientists. They’re everywhere. Technology is a tool, not the answer


What is really meant by ‘fragile’ states is ones that have acquired legal sovereignty but that have lost, or more probably never acquired, the effective powers attached to that status. There are more and more such states. How many depends on one’s definition of fragility. The United Kingdom’s government development agency, the Department for International Development (DFID), one of the smartest outfits in the business, estimates that 46 states, over one quarter of the world’s total, fall within its definition of ‘fragile states’. The population of these 46 states is over 870 million. DFID bases its definition of fragility on a state’s record in combating poverty. Others define fragility not by reference to poverty, but to security. Referring to the slightly different concept of ‘failure’, in the United States’ 2002 National Security Strategy, President Bush stated that America ‘is now more threatened by weak and failing states than…by conquering ones’.

Human Terrain Mapping” is one of those relatively new concepts I’ve been meaning to investigate and CTLab – run by a distinguished trio of scholars and authors Stephen D.K. Ellis, Michael A. Innes and Brian Glyn Williams – fits the bill. Definitely a “blogroll-worthy” site for all of the Intel/COIN/IO/DIME/Foreign Policy bloggers and of interest to the history blogosphere as well since two of the three gentlemen are professional historians.

I look forward to many enjoyable and profitable visits.


Mike Innes has written in to explain that CTLabs is still expanding their team of SME’s as well as the working on the aesthetic and functionality aspects of the site itself, which will be formally “rolled out” with a higher level of interactivity and collaboration.

In Honor of the Election

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

I started reading It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, whom I’ve always liked. I’ll leave it up to your interpretation which candidate this year most resembles Berzelius Windrip.

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