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Archive for April, 2011

The DARPA arts

Friday, April 29th, 2011

[ by Charles Cameron ]


Blog-friend Cameron Schaefer has a piece up at Small Wars Journal today in which he quotes Boyd (writing that his approach “incorporated science, but more closely approximated the often chaotic, creative impulses of art”) and Mahan (“art, out of materials which it finds about, creates new forms in endless variety”), and concludes:

Approaching strategy in an indirect fashion, as more of an art than science may make some uneasy, specifically those who find safe haven in the concreteness of checklists and formulas. Yet, the nature of strategy reflects the nature of the world. It is infinitely complex, it is always changing and it is filled with humans that often do irrational things. Literature (see Charles Hill) and psychology have as much of a place at the strategy table as military history… as do mathematics, physics, political science and technology. So, when asking, “what must one study to be a great strategist?” the answer seems to be, “everything else.”

Okay, so that (and Hill‘s work, which Zen reviewed recently) gives us the significance of the arts in strategic thinking which, one hopes, is practiced before going in to battle, and may indeed give one second thoughts about it…


Literature and the arts are also important after battle, though – and the US Military and DARPA have clearly been thinking about that side of things:


Sources: ComicsPlays

Poetry? meh… Sophocles? Chlanna nan con thigibh a so’s gheibh sibh feoil!


Lionel Tiger and Robin Fox in The Imperial Animal characterize modern health care as the “bureaucratization of mercy” and propose that for comparison, we set it beside:

the Greek ideal of the hospital as the place with the best food, the finest furnishings and paintings, and the most skilled musicians and comedians.

The greatest healing center in ancient Greece was the Asclepion at Epidavros / Epidaurus, which housed an amphitheater that could seat more than ten thousand people for dramatic and musical performances without amplification.

At Epidavros, patients would be healed by watching those same dramas of Sophocles to which the US Army is now turning for therapeutic relief in Guantanamo — for as Tiger and Fox (what a pair of names) go on to argue:

It is not the healthy, but the sick who most vitally needed such agreeable and re-creative stimuli; and the resources the community had were most beneficially and sanely used in helping them ease their personal disarray and feel encouraged by this display of their community’s careful concern.


It’s also interesting to note that the graphic novel Silver Shields mentioned in Axe‘s piece as a precursor to DARPA’s “Online Graphic Novel/Sequential Art Authoring Tools for Therapeutic Storytelling” project is “set during the ancient Greek invasion of Afghanistan more than two millenniums ago” as a metaphor for America’s current situation…

Good Things Come in Threes

Friday, April 29th, 2011

From our friends at Infinity Journal:

LTC Ron TiraThe Uncommitted Commitment: US Military Involvement in Libya

At the time of this writing the United States may or may not still consider itself engaged in a limited-means campaign in Libya, whose declared objective is to protect Libyan civilians and whose implicit objective is regime change. This military endeavor is, or has been, conducted in contravention of hard-learned American strategic doctrines; and it is an odd pick when contrasted with other more pressing and significant challenges to US vital interests in the Middle East.

As is the case with many lessons learned, the US has paid a high price for the insights embodied mostly in the Weinberger Doctrine and also in the Powell Doctrine. Yet, as is also often the case, it has offhandedly brushed aside that hard-earned strategic prudence.

….Yet the planners of the Libyan operation have preferred force economy and risk aversion over winning. First and foremost has been the demarcation of acceptable risks and consequently acceptable modes of military operation, while the gap between those tolerable ways and means on the one hand and the ends on the other hand remain knowingly unaddressed. The operation’s architects have only been willing to commit and risk limited assets applying standoff fire and possibly special operations, and whatever those can achieve – will be achieved. It is not the objectives and theater characteristics but economy and risk aversion that have driven the campaign’s design.   

Read the rest here ( free registration required).

From SWJ Blog where they are about to launch their subscription newsletter, where I debut as the Recommended Reading columnist with Crispin Burke of Wings Over Iraq:

SWJ Monthly E-News (Bumped – Updated)

Once a month, beginning on 1 May, we will be sending out an e-mail overview of the latest news, issues, events and more from SWJ and the broader Small Wars / Irregular Warfare community of interest and practice.

Have something you think should be included in future newsletters? Send it along to mailto:%20comment@smallwarsjournal.com. Care to advertise in future newsletters? Contact SWJ at mailto:%20advertise@smallwarsjournal.com for details.

Keep abreast of what’s happening in the far flung reaches of the SWJ Empire – sign up below for our newsletter today.

***Sign up now – One lucky SWJ E-News subscriber will win a copy of the 1987 reprint of the Small Wars Manual.*** smallwarsmanual.gif***This copy is in new condition – never been opened and has been priced as high as $101.00 on Amazon.com***The contents of SWJ E-News No. 1 will include:

* SWJ News – Journal articles and blog entries, Council debates and discussions, This Week at War and a sneak preview of our SWJ challenge coin,
Doctrine Man @ SWJ – DM’s exclusive for Small Wars Journal cartoon commentary,
* Professional Reading – Snapshots and links to articles of interest from a wide array of professional journals,
* SWJ Interviews – A recap with links covering our SWJ interview series,
Starbuck and Zenpundit – Recommended reading,
* Book Review – Bing West’s The Wrong War,
* Upcoming Events – Small Wars-related workshops, conferences, seminars and webcasts,
* More…

Signup for our Monthly E-News

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Finally, Wikistrat has released the latest Core-Gap Bulletin:

CoreGap 11.11 Released – What to Do With Despots Who Fight to the Bitter End?

Wikistrat has released edition 11.11 of the CoreGap Bulletin.

This CoreGap edition features, among others:

  • Terra Incognita – What to Do With Despots Who Fight to the Bitter End?
  • Bahrain Repression Indicates Just How Scared of Iran the Saudis Truly Are
  • IMF and Standard & Poors Both Issue Warnings on Unprecedented US Debt
  • As Libyan Stalemate Looms, NATO Increases Involvement
  • South Africa Formally Joins BRIC Group, Signaling China’s Dominance

And much more…

The entire bulletin is available for subscribers. Over the upcoming week we will release analysis from the bulletin to our free Geopolitical Analysis section of the Wikistrat website, first being “Terra Incognita – What to Do With Despots Who Fight to the Bitter End?”

Read the full piece here

The Glenn Beck, Mahdism & Antichrist series

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

[ by Charles Cameron ]


Glenn Beck has a new documentary coming out tonight on Mahdism and the Antichrist.

He calls it “the documentary that you will not see on mainstream television” and to get to see it, you have to be a subscriber to Beck’s Insider Extreme channel on the web. But then that fits with Beck’s emphasis right now — he doesn’t mind crying shame on the media for not carrying the documentary, but he doesn’t want unbelievers to see it either — he told his radio audience today:

Make sure you see it tonight at nine o’clock. And if I may recommend that you watch it with some friends. Invite some friends over, some like-minded people, don’t try to get any converts in. Pull up the nets, man, pull up the nets.

So okay — it won’t be on “mainstream television” but it will be seen in a million “like-minded” homes, and it will influence them, it will influence their perspective on Islam, and on the Middle East.

Here’s a description of what they can expect, drawn from Joel Rosenberg‘s blog today. Joel is the author of the apocalyptic thriller The Twelfth Imam, has seen the rough cut and will be appearing on the video, along with those he lists here:

Tonight on his website, Glenn Beck will premiere his new documentary film, “Rumors of War — Part Two.” As with Part One, I was interviewed for the film…

The documentary examines current events and trends in the Middle East and the Islamic world from various vantage points — Biblical End Times theology, Jewish End Times theology, and Islamic End Times theology. It discusses the latest threats from the Radical Islamic world to Israel, the West and our allies. It features a wide range of Jewish, Muslim and evangelical Christian authors and commentators in a balanced yet provocative and fascinating way. Among them:

  • Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the U.N.
  • Reza Kahlili, former CIA agent inside Iran and author of A Time To Betray
  • Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind novel series
  • Brigitte Gabriel, author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It
  • Joel Richardson, author of The Islamic Antichrist
  • Dr. Zudi Jasser, president of American Islamic Forum for Democracy


The thing is, Beck doesn’t know a whole lot about these things, and his advisers get things wrong — sometimes flat out wrong, sometimes just out of proportion — too.

I aim to review Beck’s documentary along with its predecessor, and the books of Joel Richardson and Joel Rosenberg, and also take a look at some other books and articles that cover the same materials with greater scholarship and less religious special interest — notably the works of David Cook, J-P Filiu and Timothy Furnish — clear up some of this issues in which definitive corrections are in order, suggest areas where the preponderance of evidence and informed commentary leans away from Beck’s position, and raise again those urgent questions which remain.

Because from where I sit, Glenn Beck has hit on one of our blind spots — and is giving us a dangerously distorted mirror in which to view it.


Here’s Beck talking about the upcoming documentary this morning on his radio show:

Tonight, you don’t want to miss, on Insider Extreme, something that we have been trying to tell the story for quite some time, and I have told it to you many times before, the story of the Twelfth Imam, well this is not the full story of the Twelfth Imam, this is what people Middle East believe about the Twelfth Imam, or the Mahdi as the… Sunnis? Sunnis are in Egypt, Shias are in, ah, is it Shias in Iran or is it the other way around? I think it’s S.. Shias are in Iran. One believes in the Twelfth Imam, the others believe in the Mahdi, same guy, it is the… the… you would know it as the Antichrist. It is the, it has every earmarking of the Antichrist, every single one, I mean, he makes a peace for seven years with Egypt, he viol… — I mean with Israel, he violates it, he marks people with a number, he beheads people if they don’t submit, I mean it’s all there. It’s all there. And Ahmadinejad says that he is alive and well and orchestrating the things in the Middle East.

Did you get that? He’s not sure: “is it Shias in Iran or is it the other way around?”

If Beck has been working on this documentary for a year now, let’s hope he does in fact know the difference between Sunni and Shi’a, and that he’s using the popular gag technique of pretending not to know, so his audience — who haven’t all been working on a documentary and may well not know — can feel all the more strongly “he’s one of us”. And besides, Sunni, Shia, it’s all the same, Mahdi, Twelfth Imam, no difference at all, right?

So that’s the level of required accuracy that’s tolerated here. Which side was it wanted to keep slavery? I forget now, I think it may have been the South. Belfast — now is that Catholic, or Protestant?


And one last quick note from the same post on Joel Rosenberg’s blog:

As far as I can tell, Glenn Beck is leaving the Fox News Channel in part because Fox is opposed to him devoting so much time on his program to End Times issues, Bible prophecy, Iran’s eschatology, and the linkage of these things to left wing efforts to sow seeds of revolution and chaos. It’s too bad, really.

That’s an interesting data point.


There will be plenty to talk about, anyway:

the new documentary, Joel Rosenberg’s thriller, which I enjoyed, Joel Richardson, with whom I correspond and whom I like, the new Mahdist video in Iran which is causing quite a stir, and may or may not be an “official” Iranian production, the vexed question — vexed in all three Abrahamic faiths — of whether you can hasten the coming of the Awaited One and if so, how, and the implications of all this both in the United States and in the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear program…

The Glenn Beck, Mahdism & Antichrist blog series, coming up.

This Story Made My Day

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

From the respected gents at BLACKFIVE:

Westboro Baptists Defeated


USMC Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers, 28, was killed in action by an IED while saving a fellow Marine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on April 7.  Sgt. Rogers was assigned to the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.  This was his fifth combat tour in Afghanistan.  His fifth.

….Sgt. Rogers was buried in Brandon, Mississippi last Saturday.  Above is the view of Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Elmo Townsend as he escorted Sgt. Rogers from Airport Road and along U.S. 80 through a gauntlet of hundreds of local patriots who turned out to honor his sacrifice. 

The human vermin of the Phelps family, venomous traitors who style themselves the Westboro Baptist Church, who insult decent people from coast to coast by shouting vile slander at the funerals of heroes, threatened to protest this funeral as well.  Yet, not a whiff of their stench fouled the air anywhere near the procession nor funeral.  Therein lies the story….

Read the rest here.

If you are old enough to have ever lived under “old school” rules, you will love this story. More of this, please (Hat tip to Alyson the Good).

Speaking of Grand Strategy….

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

From Thomas P.M. Barnett…..

International Grand Strategy Competition – Last Week to Sign Up

As Wikistrat International Grand Strategy Competition is getting closer, more analysts representing leading universities and research institutes are coming on board. For all of you who still don’t know what it’s all about – have a look here. The first ever collaborative Grand Strategy Competition will take place online throughout June with select teams competing for the $10,000 prize.

This week is the last opportunity to sign up. The best teams will join an exclusive group of teams representing top institutes such as Georgetown University, CSIS, New York University, Columbia University CSIS, the Institute for World Politics, NATO’s Atlantic Treaty Association and many more…

If you wish to join – Apply now.

I am privy to the list of  teams, but not free to blog it. I can say, it’s first tier, with well known acronym institutions involved. If you are a grad student in the IR/Security Studies/mil history fields and you have a few bright amigos, I strongly suggest you give this a shot. At worst, you will learn a few things and have some useful networking opportunities with peers and interested sponsors in dark suits. At best, someone will walk away with $ 10,000 and some throw-down bragging rights.

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