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Recommended Reading

Top Billing! Dan Trombly – Syria and Irresponsible Protection 

A brutal fisking of R2P as a self-defeating intellectual sham, well worth your time to read:

….Three very prominent foreign policy scholars: Steven Cook,Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Shadi Hamid, have all penned pieces calling for Western powers to put the option of military intervention onto the table. Although in the past many proponents of Responsibility to Protect, humanitarian intervention, and intervention in Libya (three groups with significant overlap but which were and are by no means identical) insisted that consistency was not necessary for their respective foreign policy visions to be credible or coherent, it seems the utter failure of the Libyan intervention to deter other states from ruthlessly oppressing their own people has caused some reconsideration of this stance.

Slaughter argues:

“If the Arab League, the U.S., the European Union, Turkey, and the UN Secretary General spend a year wringing their hands as the death toll continues to mount, the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine will be exposed as a convenient fiction for power politics or oil politics, feeding precisely the cynicism and conspiracy theories in the Middle East and elsewhere that the U.S. spends its public diplomacy budget and countless diplomatic hours trying to debunk.”

This was probably something advocates should have considered before launching an intervention that the administration insisted was not simply in the cosmopolitan interest of humanity, but the interests of the United States. If the US is launching interventions to debunk conspiracy theories, why should we be so confident a Syrian intervention would dispel them? Let me red team as a conspiratorial geopolitical commentator….

Seydlitz89– A Question of Honor? 

Seydlitz89 explores the work of Clausewitzian scholar  Dr. Andreas Herberg-Rothe entitled “The Concept of Honor in War“:

For Clausewitz, Napoleon was a “real enemy”, one that challenged the very definition of what not only Clausewitz but all Prussia thought themselves to be, but also one that brought their entire independent political existence into question (d).

Thus in Clausewitz’s original concept, wars could be bloody, but they were not questions of physical existence for one political community or the other, although individuals and even states were of course at risk, this being war. With the First World War we start to see a radicalization of this approach as the full weight of a political community using the consolidating/organizing/administrative powers of the state to mobilize its full potential to fight becomes a reality. By October 1917 the political conditions had ripened to usher in a new political concept of existence. 

An “absolute enemy”, the Leninist concept as presented by Carl Schmitt in The Theory of the Partisan I introduced in my last thread would conflate these subjective and “objective” perspectives, actually conflating a, b, c, and d, making the enemy an existential threat to the community as a whole as if it were an individual. The distinctions between individual, political community and state were lost. What makes this a totalitarian concept is that one side essentially has to exterminate the other, the other portrayed as an existential threat, but falling far short of such a reality, or in some cases constituting no actual threat at all…. 

SWJ  (Adam Elkus) – Death From Above: The West and the Rest 

This is part smackdown, part analysis:

….While there are many valid criticisms of the problems involved in using discrete force and avoiding civilian casualties, they are not specific to flying robots. Many center on larger legitimate political, strategic, and legal issues related to the global counterterrorism targeting program. However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that some drone critics have a visceral sense of repulsion over the idea that that men in warehouses in Nevada can kill targets on other side of the globe. In other words, it is not the War on Terror or the war in Afghanistan but the drone itself that triggers their ire. Their critiques center around a visceral sense of disgust at the supposedly disturbing nature of drone warfare, which they portray as the frictionless application of force against helpless victims.

….Military history, however, complicates this picture. The same logic that damns the drone operator or frowns on precision-guided military dominance also curses the more accurate firearms of the mid-19th century. As David Bell argues, the drone critic’s lament is echoed throughout history:

“Under medieval codes of chivalry, the most honorable conflicts were those where the combatants fought as equals, relying on individual strength and skill to prevail, rather than superior weapons or numbers. .. [W]e certainly have evidence of the scorn some late medieval critics reserved for the crossbow—a weapon that supposedly allowed poorly skilled archers to kill honorable knights from safe cover.”

Global Guerrillas – Drone Swarms are Here: 1 Minute to Midnight?


The algorithms that enable drone swarms is advancing EXTREMELY quickly.  In the next couple of years, the number of advances in technology, deployments, use cases, and awareness of drones will be intense.  In 5 years, they will be part of every day life.  You will see them everywhere.

Not just one or two drones.  SWARMS of drones.   Tens.  Hundreds.  Thousands.  Millions (potentially if the cost per unit is small enough)?  

Pundita –Urgent advice for State: Warn Obama to stop pushing the envelope (UPDATED 2X) 

….I told this story not to insult any government but to graphically illustrate that when sufficiently provoked and desperate, even the weakest governments can set the mighty United States back on its heels. Once this gets underway it can snowball into a trend. 

With all such situations it’s perceptions of American actions that count, or to be more precise the perceived pattern of actions. During the past year the perceived pattern is that President Barack Obama is throwing his weight around the world, everywhere he can.

I understand that Obama can cite reasons for each instance in which he’s crashed national borders in pursuit of the bad guys. Yet the perception is that Obama has gotten hold of two very efficient lethal weapons — U.S. Special Forces teams and armed drones — and is deploying them anywhere in the world he sees fit. 

But even President George W. Bush and his most aggressive predecessors in the Cold War managed to meddle in ways that didn’t make it look as if the entire planet was suddenly under surprise attack from the United States. They knew when to back off — and they were operating in a communications era when their every move in a foreign country wasn’t broadcast around the world….

HG’s World – West 2012-The Navy and Marines in the next decade

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the WEST 2012 Conference in San Diego, where the theme was America’s Military at the Crossroads: What’s Out and What’s In for 2012 and Beyond. I was encouraged to attend by the involvement of the event co-sponsor, the United State Naval Institute. The USNI has been in the forefront of offering a platform where those with an interest in the Navy and all the attendant aspects of strategy, history and tactics are given a forum to express and discuss their interests. The attention to the future of the sea services became all the more important in the recent changes being described as the “Strategic Pivot” to face west into the Pacific and prepare to confront what some see as a potential adversary, China, as she builds her own blue water navy. How big is this threat? Are we building the right fleet, or are we building a fleet based on the last major war WWII? What in the light of the current economic times, can we afford to build. And finally, what kind of Sailors and Marines and leaders do we need for the next two decades and beyond? Those are some of the questions that the conference’s many panels attempted to answer. 

Kings of War (Jack McDonald) – Obama, Realist to Little People. 

SWJ Blog (Mike Few) – Rethinking Revolution: Egypt in Transition and  Rethinking Revolution: Iraq 

Bruce Kesler – Haditha Was Exploited To Increase Danger To The US, US Troops, And To Noncombatants

Quesopaper – Rule of Law, Part 2 

Nuclear Diner –Nuclear Terrorism: Will the Business Plan Work?

Foreign Policy (Dan Drezner) –Is American influence really on the wane? 

American DiplomacyInterweaving of Public Diplomacy and U.S. International Broadcasting, A Historical Analysis by Ted Lipien 

Danger Room (David Axe) –U.S.-Backed Militia Fortifies Afghanistan’s ‘Heart of Darkness’

Eide Neurolearning Blog –Pattern Learning and the Brain 


David Armano – Trust Shifts From Institutions To Individuals

Presentation Zen – 10 great books to help you think, create, & communicate better in 2012

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