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Tuesday, June 12, 20071181680637

5GW + Shrinking the Gap: The Money/Fantasy Machine

Mountainrunner's review of Brave New War was greeted thusly by John Robb:

Knew it was going to happen. Oh well. To tell you the truth, I kinda expected more push-back to an outsider like me from the "conference crowd" guarding the walls around the counter-terrorism money/fantasy machine in Washinton. This guy is the only one to do so publicly.

Respondingly publicly, MR wrote:

I don't know that I am trying to protect the "money/fantasy machine", mostly because I don't know what he means (a little help?). However, it does sound bad and I would probably agree the "money/fantasy machine" needs to be whacked based on name alone. Whatever it is, my issue with the book pivots on his failure to include and factor in purposes and support systems into the analysis of his guerrillas. Insight into these two not insignificant data sets can't be dismissed or ignored, but that is just what BNW does.

At the time, I noted this was a humorous way to turn the other cheek. However, MR is wrong. The "money/fantasy machine" is a vital part of shrinking the Gap.

Earlier, Curtis commented on Tom Barnett's view of 5GW:

he resolution to the Barnettian paradox is not something Barnett himself has offered: a true 5GW approach. Although he speaks in the language of co-optation, he uses the term when addressing inter-national relations; e.g., that Iran can be co-opted. Barnett does not descend to the street level although he does support improving the lives of the persons on the street; [Tom Barnett] has yet to formulate a clear plan for co-opting the many individuals of which nations and corporations are comprised. For the most part, he seems to assume that nation-states and corporations, if they only do the right things, will be received as benevolent dictators — or, scratch that term, as benevolent superempowered entities.

He may be half right. Many people seek saviors of one sort or another; many are happy to delegate responsibility for the things they themselves cannot touch or do not have the time or motivation to fix themselves — or do not understand, themselves. The crux of the Barnettian paradox involves the manner and method of assigning these delegations so that the general man-on-the-street can rest easily knowing his prosperous future is assured. Even within the Core, much doubt about this process of delegation exists; various superempowerments within and without the Core threaten to upset faith in the systems of the Core.

For his theory of 5GW, Barnett needs to reduce the footprint of his preferred superempowered entities, and this will require a re-think about how they operate — in fact, perhaps also about who they are.

In an unrelated post, Mountainrunner himself says much the same thing:

To this end, when operating in conflict/post-conflict environments were the host state needs to be rebuilt, certain tools are missing from our tooklit that demonstrates our commitment to the mission to the host, facilitates capacity building, and deepens host nation commitment, and capability, to the mission, and perhaps most importantly, enlists the locals into their own success.

Both posts can be summarized like this: America needs to subvert her own population, to enlist Americans, to shrink the Gap. Most thinkers are stuck in a low-G paradigm, so obvious solutions are for "everyone to pitch in" (0GW), "organize everyone to shrink the gap" (1GW), write harshly-worded letters (4GW), etc.

However, a 5GW solution is wiser. If shrinking the Gap is a public policy option, it could be rejected. Shrinking the Gap is a long-term process, and should be insulated from politics as much as possible. We have a model of how to proceed.

The Global War Against Communism was a successful, multigenerational effort by the United States to defeat the Communist world, to spinter the Soviet Union's support, and ultimately to turn the USSR's constuent republics against themselves. This was done by institutionalizing the war, building up a military-industria complex for the leviathian ... what John Robb describes as a "money/fantasy machine" and Tom Barnett decries a generation after the Cold-War ended.

Think about that.

The anti-Communist 5GW that was built up at the beginning of the Cold War is still functioning in spite of widespread recognition that is has been obsoleted by its own success.

The anti-Disconnectedness 5GW that must be built up at the beginning of this Long War must be similarly durable. Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, globalists and internationalists, they come-and-go. They're electoral defeats and victories are as rational as which town is hit by which tornado, which Senator uses an anti-asian slur that was current among North African Jews a lifetime ago, and other quirks of fate. Shrinking the Gap is too important to be left to chance.

Rather than decy a "money/fantasy machine" we need to build our own.

We need to build a Military-Industrial-Systems Administration-Complex.

We need a Virtual Department of Everything Else.

We need to Shrink the Gap.


Heh. Vested interests don't usually require much nurturing.

Posted by: Steve French | Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Steve -- the Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex is more than just vested interests: its an iron triangle [1] of defense contractors, the military, and congressmen who support each other -- and will here it from the people (employees and constiuents) if they don't. Taking back even a little of the MILC elicts howls of partisan protest on both sides. [2]

Boeing runs ads showing off their new fighters that can only be used against China in the Taiwan Straits. Why not build a world where Lockheed-Blackwater runs PR as a matter of course for their latest in state-building, post-conflict stabilization, and systems administration services?

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_triangle
[2] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/tag/ellsworth

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I agree. They're the same thing (I'm not intending to start a semantic sidetrack).

By it, I was referring to the"Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex"

I was actually reminded of Mencken's "The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flop-houses and disturbing the peace." and Albert Jay Nock's adage: "Experience has made it clear beyond doubt or peradventure that prohibition in the United States is not a moral issue; it is not essentially, even, a political issue; it is a vested interest."

Come to think of it, I blogged about that here.

Posted by: Steve French | Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Great post!

Posted by: PurpleSlog | Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Great minds think alike!

Tom has a post entitled "The SysAdmin works in decades" [1], leading to a Nagl article on the importance of institutionalization [2]. Different details, same goal.

[1] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2007/06/the_sysadmin_works_in_decades.html
[2] http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/06/its-time-for-an-army-advisor-c/

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Lockheed-Blackwater"? Now there's a name for a company...

This has me thinking.... Back in the 80s, when there was nostalgia for the 1960s, I read-up on the campus radicals of that time, like SDS. Reading about their huge memberships, I thought it sad that so many were willing to waste their time , devotion and talents to pointless, misguided (if not, ultimately-speaking, wrong) political activist groups. You ever read about how SDS was founded? Goodness, what a bunch of intellectual pharisees.

It would've been so much better, I thought at the time, if an organization as huge as SDS (or even something like the conservative YAF) had been actual businesses, had been actual firms. What enterprise wouldn't make do with a workforce of such size?

I think....I think if you want your dream to come true, a good way towards it would be if business students would take a partial inspiration from the campus activists of the 1960s. Except that rather than strictly-political, they'd focus their energies on the commercial endeavors, a kind of more constructive, "business activism." Of course, the political element would still be there--would *have* to be--but the business world... Well, let's just say that they might have a better impact there than through political actvism of a quasi-religous nature.

Recall the anti-apartheid disinvestment meant to economically-hurt South Africa? Well, what about an "investment movement" to help Gap areas?

Well, that's my theory anyway.... (Feel free to disagree...)

Posted by: Jayson | Friday, June 15, 2007


Great thoughts!

The problem with becoming a business is that businesses are subject to the market forces they exist in. This is one thing that Robb misses in his thoughts. If global guerrillas (or student radicals, or whoever), are serious about turning a monitary profit, the original mission will be lost in favor of the new one. (Otherwise, their relatively low profit margin makes them targets for more agile competitors.)

A 5GWarrior wants to master the system, not become a player in it.

Much of the Gap will ultimately be helped by investment, and the security that comes with it. I think that's why Tom Barnett enjoys high oil prices: it forces the Core to involve itself over there.

Again, fantastic comment!

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, June 15, 2007

"A 5GWarrior wants to master the system, not become a player in it."

But wouldn't the masters first start out as players?
Wouldn't this be a way of germinating networks of influence?

Still, thinking of this, there is one sad thing which I can find no way around: There's no way the Left will allow anyone to "get away" with this.

There are no shortage of Leftist watchdogs scanning the horizon for imaginary, never mind genuine, "right-wing conspiracies." I'm guessing that the only way such activism will ever get anywhere near to succeeding would be for it to pretty much do the same thing that they'd be accused of (if not "prosecuted" for).

"If global guerrillas (or student radicals, or whoever), are serious about turning a monitary profit, the original mission will be lost in favor of the new one."

I'm *guessing* that the Semco model (or the Thermo Electron model, or the IdeaLab model...) *might* provide a possible (if partial) "solution" to this.

Posted by: Jayson | Monday, June 18, 2007


You make two excellent points.

The 5GWarrior is a player in the system. He realizes he is too weak to change the system through conventional or even insurgent means. Therefore, he attempts to manipulate the system to change its rules through proxies who are not even aware of his existence. This requires pre-planning by the 5GWarrior, as he will not be able to do much once the 5GW is unleashed.

On your second point...

A classic way to defeat an opponent is to degrade his forces, so you could defeat a 3GW (maneuver / blitzkrieg) opponent if you transformed him into a 2GWarrior (who relies on concentration of force). Indeed, this seems to be the way that the Soviet Union defeated Nazi Germany.

Likewise, the way to defeat a 5GWarrior is to transition him into becoming a 4GWarrior. A society that wants to defend itself against 5th Generation Warfare will make transparency easy, so that small conspiracies with a chance of winning are turned into small insurgencies, destined to fail. Tom had some words on this:


Again, brilliant comment. You understand the framework very well.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, June 18, 2007