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Recommended Reading

The Diplomad 2.0 – The UN Arms Treaty, AKA The Lawyer Full Employment Act 

….Articles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 comprise the core of the treaty. These articles would provide endless employment activity for “activists’ and their lawyers. They establish obligations on the “State Parties” that would, in essence, kill the trade in small arms. The language about weapons “being diverted to the illicit market,” or “used to commit or facilitate gender-based violence or violence against children” means endless lawsuits against exporting and importing states, manufacturers, and sellers.  While the ostensible purpose is international trade, that would quickly become a domestic legal issue in the US.  Say, for example, that a Glock, either one made in Austria or in a Glock factory in the US, were used for “illicit” purposes or was involved in an incident of “gender-based violence” in the US, the lawsuits would be ferocious. The threat of constant legal action effectively would halt the export and import of small arms–at least from and to those countries that take laws and treaty obligations seriously.  The treaty would provide the basis for additional US domestic legislation that would incorporate the UN language and ideas into our laws. Private firm gun manufacturing and sales would be halted by the constant threat of lawsuits.

Pundita -Upcoming ‘make or break’ meeting between CIA and ISI chiefs 

….So it seems Washington’s ball on Pakistan is now in Gen. Petraeus’s court; after consistently flubbing, it looks as if State, Defense, and the White House want to make him responsible for persuading the Pakistani military/ISI that they shouldn’t keep fighting a proxy war against NATO in Afghanistan. 

As to the request for drone technology, I think that has been floated every time a ranking member of the Pak military/ISI has met with an American counterpart. The Pakistanis have their own drone technology but they want weaponized drones from the USA. What they want most of all, however, is for the U.S. to share all its intelligence on terrorist activity with the Pakistani military.

HG’s World – Battleships: America’s Symbol of Becoming a Great PowerThis week, the “Transit of the USS Iowa”, matched the “Transit of Venus”, for a once in a lifetime eventUSS Iowa: Progress Report and A Love Affair 

A naval appraisal of some of the most powerful warships in the history of Earth by ZP amigo HistoryGuy99

Walter Russell Mead– Our President the WASP 

In his own way, however, President Obama is one of the neo-Waspiest men in the country. He is not a product of Kenyan villages or third world socialism. He was educated at the Hawaiian equivalent of a New England prep school, and spent his formative years in the Ivies. He has much more in common with Harvard-educated technocrats like McGeorge Bundy than with African freedom fighters and third world socialists of the 1970s.

President Obama’s vision of a strong central government leading the people along the paths of truth and righteousness has “New England” stamped all over it. Puritan Boston believed in a powerful government whose duty was to promote moral behavior and punish the immoral; by 1800 many of the Puritan descendants were turning Unitarian and modernist, but while they lost their love of Christian doctrine they never abandoned their faith in the Godly Commonwealth and the duty of the virtuous to make the rest of the world behave.

Gene Expression – We are all Anglo-Saxons now 

Razib delivers a brutal beatdown fisking of Max Fisher of  The Atlantic (hat tip TDAXP, PhD)

Fast Transients-Positioning for the melee 

Venkatesh Rao has another thought provoking post up at his Tempo blog. Go take a look and then come back here … Play close attention to his distinction between “planning” and “positioning” near the bottom of the piece.

Rao’s concept of positioning & melee moves seems similar to the military’s concepts of operational and tactical levels of war. Even more interesting for business — where these concepts of levels apply only by analogy — they appear to be closely related toshih, Sun Tzu’s framework for employing force or energy.  For those of you not familiar with shih, it’s the title of the fifth chapter of The Art of War and encompasses a variety of concepts including zheng / qi (cheng / ch’i). For an excellent intro, see David Lai’s paper “Learning from the Stones,” available from the Federation of American Scientists.

 The concept of positioning moves is inherent in shih, in creating configurations of great potential. Or, as Gimian and Boyce (The Rules of Victory) explain:

In employing shih, each action is one step in a process that changes the ground, reorients the relationship among things, and creates different possibilities. (p. 121)

A lot of this activity is zheng — according with the opponents’ expectations in order to set them up for decisive strikes. At other times, we may just be developing the situation, trying to create ambiguity and anxiety, and probing opponents to force them to tell us something about their intentions and capabilities (As Gimian and Boyce put it, “if you can’t get destination, go for direction.” p. 126)

If these activities don’t cause the opponent to give up or panic or otherwise quit providing effective opposition (and this is Sun Tzu’s ideal, of course), then we look for opportunities to release the potential energy we have built up in as short, abrupt, “fast transient” a manner as possible, as “when strike of a hawk breaks the back of its prey.” (Griffith trans., 92)


Wise advice from uber-diplomat, Ambassador Ryan Crocker.  No one will listen.

iRevolution –Truth in the Age of Social Media: A Social Computing and Big Data Challenge 

CTOVision (Alex Olesker) –General Alexander’s Vision, the New DARPA Director, and More 

Russia blog –Congress Is Getting Ready for the Wrong MoveThe Magnitsky Act and Magnitsky Act as a Test for American Democracy 

99.9% of the American public and I wager 90% of their MoC don’t know who Sergei Magnitsky was, why there is a bill in his memory or how it’s passage into law would shape US-Russian relations or that the State Department can already deny foreign officials suspected of human rights abuses entry into the United States. That probably includes some of the bill’s sponsors.

Look, neither Russia nor Putin merit any special favors from the USG,  but there’s large factions of Beltway political activists on the Hill who are on retainer for the government of Georgia (including the Podesta Group of Democratic Party bigwig John Podesta) or from their domestic opposition, as registered foreign agents, who would like to poison relations with Moscow as much as possible in the interest of their clients with little regard to American interests.

It is only slightly less shady than the long list of  boomer generation DC VIPs lining up, hat in hand, to take money from the MeK.

That’s it.

4 Responses to “Recommended Reading”

  1. L. C. Rees Says:

    Congress can play Nixon’s role:

    [We] call it the Madman Theory, Bob. [We] want the [Russians] to believe [we’ve] reached the point where I might do anything to [INSERT POLICY OBJECTIVE HERE]. We’ll just slip the word to them that, “for God’s sake, you know [Congress] is obsessed about [some dead Russian]. We can’t restrain [them] when [they’re] angry—and [they have their hands] on the nuclear [option]” and [Vladimir Putin] himself will be in [Washington] in two days begging for [INSERT POLICY OBJECTIVE HERE].”

    Nixon’s ploy failed since it was common knowledge that, though he was evil, he had discernable rationality. Congress, on the other hand, has never demonstrated discernable rationality so its madness is completely plausible.

    Executive branch organs just need to operationalize the Mad Congress Theory and bring the world to its [INSERT POLICY OBJECTIVE HERE].

  2. historyguy99 Says:

    I am honored to appear among the other’s on this weeks “Recommended Reading” post. As one who has studied Soviet/US strategic issues you would appreciate this quote as best describing the “Big Stick” qualities of the Iowa Class Battleships.

    “You Americans do not realize what formidable warships you have in these four battleships. We have concluded after careful analysis that these magnificent vessels are in fact the most to be feared in your entire naval arsenal. When engaged in combat we could throw everything we have at those ships and all our firepower would just bounce off or be of little effect. Then we are exhausted, we will detect you coming over the horizon and then you will sink us.”

    — Soviet Fleet Admiral Sergei I. Gorshkov, stated after watching Iowa in a NATO exercise, 1985

  3. zen Says:

    LC – it would be nice if the origin was smarts rather than venality
    Professor Tomas – Superb quote! I wish we could rehab one into active service. 16 inch guns focus the mind 

  4. J. Scott Shipman Says:

    Zen/Professor Tomas, Those guns are needed. In an age of missiles there is still a place for guns of this caliber. Wish we’d modernize the propulsion plants and put them to sea. To hell with LCS when you have a platform with so much potential.

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