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Archive for February, 2009

Standing By….

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Have an article in the works for Pajamas Media, not sure when it will appear and some unrelated irons in the fire. Normal blogging will resume today.

Colin Gray Gambling on 21st Century Great Power War

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Eminent British-American strategist  Colin S. Gray gambles on the Sino-American War in the 21st century (hat tip SWJ Blog)

PARAMETERS –  The 21st Century Security Environment and the Future of War

How the two great powers are going to afford to fight each other, as war would destroy their interdependent economic condition, is left unsaid. As is the rationale for fighting such a war beyond “balancing” and “fear, honor, interest” or any explanation as to why nuclear weapons would not be a constraining factor on such a war breaking out though Gray does not appear to believe that Russia and the US aspire to nuclear armageddon.

Despite some nostalgia for the the halcyon days of the Sino-Soviet alliance, an interesting an often cautionary article by a noted scholar of war.

A Darwinian Counterterrorism Strategy

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Nothing that the scientist in this article has to say about counterterrorism strategy would be regarded as news in this general area of the blogosphere but it is interesting that a marine biologist came up with conclusions similar to those of leading defense thinkers.

Take A Darwinian Approach To A Dangerous World: Ecologist Preaches ‘Natural’ Security For Homeland Defense

….Sagarin, an ecologist who’s normally more concerned with the urchins and starfish in tide pools, got to thinking about these things as a Congressional science fellow less than a year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He saw Washington building an expensive new shell, erecting large barriers around buildings and posting guards and cameras in every doorway.

“Everything was about more guards, more guns, and more gates,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘If I’m an adaptive organism, how would I cope with this?'”

….In nature, a threat is dealt with in several ways. There’s collectivism, where one meerkat sounds the alarm about an approaching hawk, or camouflage, where the ptarmigan hides in plain sight. There’s redundancy, like our wisdom teeth, or unpredictable behavior, like the puffer fish’s sudden, spiky pop.

Under the unyielding pressure of 3.5 billion years of evolution, the variety of defenses is beyond counting. But they all have a few features in common. A top-down, build-a-wall, broadcast-your-status approach “is exactly the opposite of what organisms do,” Sagarin says.

An immune system, for example, is not run by a central authority. It relies on a distributed network of autonomous agents that sense trouble on the local level and respond, adapting to the threat and signaling for backup without awaiting orders from HQ.

Recommended Reading, Recommended Viewing

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday…where action is the attraction…

Top Billing! Threatswatch.org – Mexican President: Gov’t Does Not Control Areas on US Border

Steve Schippert pushes attention toward the greatest underreported national security problem of recent years. Other than John Sullivan,  John Robb, Adam Elkus, Stratfor, Fabius Maximus and a few other small blog sites, is anybody paying regular attention to our Southern neighbor becoming a failed state ?

Congrats to Winslow Wheeler and Dr. Chet Richards for Stanford University Press picking up America’s Defense Meltdown.

Tim Stevens has a new article up in World Defence Systems.

Complexity and Social Networks BlogAlone in the Crowd: The Structure and Spread of Loneliness in a Large Social Network

Is loneliness contagious ? More evidence on the dynamic qualitative nature of networks.

The Glittering EyeVisualcy, Newspapers, and Political Communication and Case In Point

Visualcy has been a continuing on/off subject of discussion between myself and Dave

CTLab Review – Dr. Marc TyrellThe Fight For Academic Hearts and Minds (warning: rant)

I like a good rant. 🙂

John P. Sullivan & Adam ElkusSWJPostcard from Mumbai

The postmodern urban insurgency.

Fabius Maximus –  The media doing what it does best these days, feeding us disinformation

FM takes on “advocacy journalism” ( case in point Newsweek, which explicitly practices this model)

Abu Muqawama –  Special Abu Muqawama Interview: Craig Mullaney

Perhaps Craig Mullaney’s book, The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education (Penguin USA), will be the Fiasco, the defining book, for the war in Afghanistan. Looks good and Mullaney is getting a lot of attention. Great title.

SWJ BlogThe Unforgiving Minute

Review by Dave Dilegge, another indicator that Mullaney may have written “the” book re: Afghanistan war for some time to come.

Top RAND defense intellectual, David Ronfeldt now has a blog,  Apropos Two Theories ( hat tip to Shloky)

David ArmanoBattle of the Brands

“Brandividuals” ?

Danger RoomScientist Looks to Weaponize Ball Lightning


Scientific AmericanSix Ways to Boost Brainpower

Finally! Research we can use ! Guys – it justifies our excess caffeine consumption and playing of video games!

Recommended Viewing:

Courtesy of Tim Stevens of Ubiwar, the PPT of General  (res.)  Dr. Shimon Naveh of the IDF, feautured in a post here last week.

Shimon Naveh PowerPoint

View more presentations from ubiwar.

From Jamais Cascio of Open The Future:

Art Center Summit talk – Future: To Go

View more presentations from Jamais Cascio. (tags: futuro de)

Dan Robles of Ingenesist ( Hat tip to Dave Davison at Thoughts Illustrated

Innovation Economics Next

View more presentations from ingenesist. (tags: innovation economics)

A White Oak for Public Diplomacy

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

The chronically poor state of American public diplomacy has been a topic of discussion in the foreign policy-mil-national security blogosphere for years. As with COIN on the military side of things, pressure has built from conversation to a greater public awareness of the inadequacy of American public diplomacy toward strategic planning and lobbying for reform. Few people have been more active on this important issue than my blogfriend Matt Armstrong, who recently participated in formulating the….

White Oak Recommendations: Rethinking Public Diplomacy (Updated)

Over the weekend of January 30 through February 1, the Howard Gilman Foundation, Meridian International Center, and The Public Diplomacy Council brought together seventy people – public and private sector stakeholders frustrated with this demise and determined to restore public diplomacy as a viable tool of foreign policy – to discuss the structure of America’s global engagement at the White Oak Conference Center in Florida.

The product of the conference is a short, easily read document of common sense recommendations that would otherwise be in larger reports. All but three of the conference participants endorsed the report. Those who abstained did so because their employers do not permit even personal endorsements. The report is simple and straight forward, so much so that the endorsements run longer than the report.

Download the Recommendations here (26kb PDF).

Download the Endorsements here (84kb PDF).

Matt also organized a blogger’s roundtable with members of the White Oak Conference ( he was kind enough to invite me but unfortunately, I had a schedule conflict that day):

On February 19, I moderated a sixty minute roundtable discussion between Doug Wilson of the Howard Gilman Foundation and Bob Coonrod of The Public Diplomacy Council. Tara Sonenshine was originally scheduled to attend but had a scheduling conflict at the last minute. The participants were Pat Kushlis of WhirledView, Shawn Powers of Intermap.org, John Brown of PDPBR (and now Notes and Essays), Kim Andrew Elliot of http://www.kimandrewelliott.com/, Steve Corman of COMOPS, Jennifer Bryson of Public Discourse, Chris Tomlinson of the AP, and Danielle Kelton from PD 101.

White Oak-Related posts:

Read the rest here.

American public diplomacy is beyond broken – it borders on non-existent. There’s a great deal of building that needs to be done and the White Oak Conference was an important step forward.

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