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Recommended Reading & Recommended Viewing

Top Billing! SWJ Blog The Natural Law of Strategy (Wm. J. Olson)

…Perhaps this is because there is a disconnect between policy formulation and strategy, which is meant to bridge the gap between intention and action. If so, then the idea of incorporating „ends? into strategy seems amiss. Strategy, as such, is not about ends, which are provided by another, perhaps mysterious, process and handed off. There is no trinity of ends, ways, and means. All of this may be semantic confusion, since „strategy? is a slippery term that everyone knows the meaning of but doesn?t recognize it when they see it. Or perhaps the distinction lies in the difference between Grand Strategy and strategy, the former concerned primarily with ends the latter mostly with ways and means. In this case, strategy merely restates the ends of Grand Strategy with the intent of now adding ways and means to get the job done. This hardly seems an improvement or a clarification that clarifies.

Grand Strategy, as such, derives its ends from policy. Thus it does not-cannot–provide its own ends. It only reflects them. Perhaps the distinction and the difference lie in the level of detail expected in the respective precincts of activity. Grand Strategy, then, is closest to policy and policy formulation, an intermediate step, and while less abstract than policy it begins the process of translating intent into effort. Strategy, the next step down, then concerns itself with details once the big ideas are set. But again, including ends in strategy, except to note that they have been imported from elsewhere from a process unrelated to strategy, suggests that strategy is really about ways and means.

Thomas P.M. Barnett –  Some serious heavyweights join Wikistrat’s global lineup of strategists

I’ve spent much of August now making pitches to analysts/thinkers/strategists I deeply respect, asking them to join Wikistrat’s community of strategists.

And I’ve got to tell you, we’ve got some real stars coming our way:  Dmitri Trenin from Carnegie Moscow, Daniel Pipes from the Middle East Forum, Robert Kaplan from the Center for a New American Security, and Michael Schueur of “Imperial Hubris” fame. From the blogging world we’ve attracted Lexington Green of Chicago Boyz, Mr. “Anglosphere” James Bennett, James Joyner from Outside the Beltway and this blog’s “neighbor” ZenPundit. We’re also signing up a number of World Politics Review writers like Frida Ghitis and editor-in-chief Judah Grunstein.

Always nice to get a public nod in a group of names like that!

Jamais Cascio –  About Foresight (a minor rant)

Thomas Rid – Quoting URLs in Academic Papers 

Not exactly a super exciting topic, but useful.

Global Guerrillas –JOURNAL: Open Source Education

This fills a useful niche. Breaks down where feedback is required for student mastery or growth ; a brilliant instructor cannot meaningfully respond to questions from 50,000 students (call it the “Robert Scoble on twitter” effect) but where intrisic motivation can do it, this is a great concept.

The Glittering Eye –Alter for the Defense

….Rhetorically, this is called “burden shifting”. The burden of proof is on the affirmative and in this case the affirmative position is that President Obama should be re-elected and it’s up to the president to make his case. The case against him can be observed just by looking around.

Daniel Drezner- Why Libya is not a template for future military statecraft

Drezner takes Zakaria to task.


Wilf Owen on Britain, Israel and the use of force.

I have to say, I am largely in agreement with Wilf here.

3 Responses to “Recommended Reading & Recommended Viewing”

  1. Pundita Says:

    Zen, thanks for mentioning the Zakaria piece and Drezner’s, which I would have otherwise missed.  I note that Fareed Zakaria sets up a small army of straw men to distract attention from the key issue for Americans regarding U.S. involvement in the Libyan uprising.  I am surprised that Daniel Drezner didn’t seem to notice this in his rebuttal.

    The key issue is whether a perversion of the United Nations-backed Responsibility to Protect doctrine — itself highly debatable — is now the official policy of the United States government. 

    The doctrine calls for foreign military action against a government only as a last resort, after all other means of intervening to stop government-instigated mass murder of its country’s civilians has been tried. Yet neither France nor the NATO governments that followed France into bombing Libya made a sincere attempt to establish a peacekeeping mission in the country prior to undertaking a bombing campaign. Nor did they attempt to initiate other interventionist measures prior to launching the bombings.

    Zakaria’s arguments for a "new" American foreign policy, which rest on his interpretation of the U.S. intervention in Libya, also stay far away from every other important issue connected with the intervention.  So while Drezner did a sturdy job of contesting Zakaria’s arguments, this amounted to launching a sturdy argument on the merits of Darjeeling tea.

    Anyone interested in learning about the darkest side of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine would do well to read Chase Madar’s chillingly prescient diatribes in the American Conservative magazine in 2009 and 2010.  It was almost if he foresaw the NATO bombing campaign in Libya and shouted warnings. Yet given his command of the subject he didn’t need a crystal ball. He was warning about the inevitable.

    Care Tactics:  Samantha Power and the weaponization of human rights (September 2009)
    How Liberals Kill (June 2010)

    I warn Americans that Madar is brutal in his indictment of several U.S. military actions. But then I too might be brutal, if I were an American civil rights attorney who watched helplessly as the U.S. government twisted the defense of civil rights into a weapon of aggression.

    For anyone who might try to dismiss Madar’s critique of the weaponization of human rights as the biased argument of a "Paleo-Republican" — I showed the essays to an attorney who’s an avowed Leftist and has a long record of involvement with human rights issues, and asked his opinion. He told me that for the most part Mardar was "spot on."

    Despite the titles that American Conservative gave his essays Madar is not making a partisan argument.  Mardar is arguing against the betrayal of America’s most cherished values.  As to how far U.S. defense policymakers have been willing to go to betray the values in order to hold onto the NATO alliance — I’ve been waiting for years to see that question get an airing in Congress and the U.S. mass media. I have waited in vain.

    The silence has emboldened Fareed Zakaria, who has clearly indicated that the only America he will admire is one subordinate to the "international community."  Yet Madar’s writings strip the mask of "liberal" democratic values from Zakaria and others of his ilk. It turns out that what’s behind the mask is so horrifying it’s a wonder Daniel Drezner didn’t simply answer Zakaria by quoting from his Theories of International Politics and Zombies.

  2. zen Says:

    Hi Miss P,
    Comments in no particular order.
    Zakaria, who has never impressed me in the past, seems to be hustling overtime of late to become the Walter Lippmann of the 21st C. neoliberal transnationalist progressives who drive eco-friendly luxury sedans. I think he is less anti-American than anti-democratic in the elite EU sense of wanting to remove significant policy power in American government from from democratic accountability, checks or balance.
    Check out this essay at Fear, Honor and Interest
    The Obama administration has a curious practice of not adhering to the doctrines or strategies they have officially adopted but zealously pursuing those policies and doctrines they deny having, in this case ones that were lobbied into place by influential former officials.
    On the substance of the issues, it is hard for me to accept an argument that (as was once de facto, though not de jure, international law as recently as the 1980’s) sovereignty legally permits a government to engage in autogenocide. It does not and to the extent that it did ( if you are an extreme logical positivist) that ended with the Genocide Convention. I would not have had a problem with hiring PMCs to protect Dar Fur refugees or US Navy jets bombing the Interhaemwe militias to have deterred genocide. Nor do I a shed tears for that vicious lunatic colonel Gaddafi being deposed. I hope he dies in a horrible fashion.
    That said, all atrocities are not genocide and legitimate governments are within their rights to put down armed rebellions. Moreover, the Libyan intervention was an astrategic mess carried out in a half-baked, amateur manner that harms US long term interests in talking states off of the nuclear non-proliferation, state sponsor of terrorism ledge. What dictator in his right mind will believe our diplomatic  assurances of reconciliation if they give up WMDs or change their policies after what happened to Gaddafi? We have just incentivized every potential rogue state into adopting a posture of maximum intransigence, mutual aid to fellow dictators and strategic courtship of Beijing.
    Gaddafi is odious but he served a use, like Ceaucescu did, in demonstrating that America would negotiate a deal with enemies and stick to it. That card is now lost, or if not lost, seriously devalued to a short term, low-trust, expediency.

  3. Imaginative Polemic Says:

    […] my friend Mark Safranski on Fareed Zakaria: Zakaria, who has never impressed me in the past, seems to be hustling overtime of late to become […]

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