Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I owe a lot to Chet Richards. His publisher provided me with a free copy of his new book, If We Can Keep It, as well as a wonderful wedding reception gift Lady of tdaxp and I will put to immediate use. More substantively, Chet's done the hard work of keeping the legacy of John Boyd alive, leading to a wonderful annual conference, at least one major book (Science, Strategy, and War, currently the subject of an intellectual rountdtable), and of course his own titles, such as Certain to Win and A Swift, Elusive Sword.
If We Can Keep It is not a Boyd book. It quotes from Boyd on occasion, but for the most part If We Can Keep It focuses on popularizing William Lind. The connection between If We Can Keep It and Boyd's thought is not clear to me. For many readers, this is a non-issue. Conversely, for those interested in the evolution of Chet's thinking, Keep It may prove to be a pivotal work in bridging the two very different discourses of the Hegelian conservative Lind and the cognitive theorist Boyd.
Dr. Richards book contains three general trends: a criticism of counterinsurgency, a general pessimism toward our bargaining position, and a general rejection of economic thought, among other themes.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Chet Richards isn't just a retired colonel in the Air Force Reserve, a doctor of mathematics, and the organizer of the yearly Boyd Seminars. He's also an incredibly nice guy who responds to email far faster than I do, and gave incredible corrections and suggestions for my upcoming paper on the OODA loop in education.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Recently I had the pleasure of viewing video briefs by Dr. Chet Richards (author of Neither Shall the Sword) and Dr. Tom Barnett (author of Blueprint for Action). I watched the Richards brief for myself, while the Barnett presentation was shown to both undergraduate and doctoral level students at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
Monday, February 20, 2006
"You're such an inspiration for the ways
That I'll never ever choose to be
He did this
Took all you had and
Left you this way
It's not like you killed someone"
- Judith, by A Perfect Circle, from the Album, Mer de Noms
"It's the meteor that will separate dinosaurs form mammals in defense. It will tell us what we need to know about war within the context of everything else. The impact on our community will unfold over years, but eventually this will change everything.
- Thomas PM Barnett, The Pentagon's New Map, pg 260
Friday, February 10, 2006
My review of Chet Richards' Neither Shall the Sword in three words? Buy this book.
I expect a number of posts to come out of Neither Shall the Sword, and this page will serve as an guide to them. While I won't give away the surprise ending on page 82, the most radical proposal in the book is for what Mark Safranski has called "free companies," or in Dr. Richard's words
An obvious solution for a grand strategy of rollback, and I believe the correct one, is to private the Sword/Leviathan function and put direct government resources into the more complex Sys Admin mission of construction, once Sword/Leviathan has done its job
Once again: buy this book.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Chet Richards on Formlessness and Orientation
Describing Chet Richards, Tom Barnett wrote:
Chet, whom I write about in BFA, is an intense fellow who lives and breathes national security like few people you'll meet. He's also more systematic in his thinking on the subject of military strategy than anyone I've ever heard speak, and I've heard a lot.
Dr. Richards recent accomplishment involve applying the logic of John Boyd to business and military strategy. His business-oriented website, Belisarius, was recently featured in a tdaxp article on 5GW, while Chet's military-oriented site Defense and the National Interest has long been on the tdaxp blogroll.
A noted author, Chet's books include Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd Applied to Business and Neither Shall the Sword: Conflict in the Years Ahead.
As Dr. Richards has been kind enough to help tdaxp before, I asked his help when questions on Boydian logic on Liberal Education. So I asked him. Part of his answer surprised me.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
"Riding the Tiger: What You Really Do with OODA Loops," by Chester Richards, Belisarius, October 2002, http://www.belisarius.com/modern_business_strategy/richards/riding_the_tiger/tiger.htm.
"Chrome," by VNV Nation, Matter + Form, 12 April 2005, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007X9TTI/102-4292267-8637755?v=glance&n=5174 [buy the cd].
I won't say that between Sun Tzu, Musashi, and tdaxp, you shall learn everything you need to about 5GW.
But add VNV Nation's Matter + Form, and you probably will.
Friday, December 23, 2005
We need to win.
In Blueprint for Action, Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett gives a forward-looking plan for winning the Global War on Terrorism, shrinking the Gap, peacefully integrating China, and ending war as we know it. Dr. Barnett's goals are achievable, and the vocabulary, methodology, and vision he brings them are correct.
The engine for our victory, the reverse domino theory, teaches that as one nation globalizes, it will pull other nations up with it. We are seeing this with China, which is building trade relationships with Central Asia, South America, Russia, and even Sudan. The first globalization domino, Japan, knocked down South Korea and Taiwan, which knocks down China, which will knock down...
Dr. Barnett also presents an A-Z Rule-Set for Processing Politically Bankrupt States. As 9/11 proved, globalization needs a bodyguard. The United States and the international community must provide this security. Or two, really: the Leviathan blitzkrieg-force and the SysAdmin peacebuilding-force.
We don't want to fight this struggle fairly. We wish to play to our strengths, fighting as we want. The abilities and characteristics of the American Nation should be completely exploited to help in our victory. The globalization wars are crusades, and our greatest abilities will be the shining armor of our knights.
We Americans have two core competencies:
- We are rich
- We want quick fixes
We are rich: we have a large, growing, dynamic economy that is the envy of the world. We are tremendously resilient: even the worst attack in our history (9/11) and losing a major city (New Orleans) has not prevented a low unemployment rate and strong economic growth. We also have a history of trying big things if they can deliver the goods quickly, which has made us early adopters of technological and business wonders.
In this series I talked about the importance of "embracing defeat." This just means realizing that things that go against our core competencies are core incompetencies. There are some things we cannot do. Our core incompetencies are the flip-side of our core competencies
- We have little will or endurance
- We are impatient
Our core incompetencies are paying prices in non-monetary ways (solutions which require patience of moral will), and solutions which are small and slow (like fighting a series of Iraqs). We cannot rely on our incompetencies. If we try we will fail. America is too cowardly and treacherous to pay a price of blood and will.
We Americans have two strategic goals
- Keep the Reverse Domino Theory working
- Process Politically Bankrupt States
The main-point of globalization is the Reverse Domino Theory. It is an engine that will give us the entire world for what Barnett calls "the China price." The Reverse Domino Theory plays to our core-competency of wealth. Just do nothing and everyone gets rich.
The other-points of globalization is processing politically bankrupt states. Here we stop massacres, genocides, wicked invasions, and mass rapes. This process plays to our core-competency of wanting quick, big results. Just do something and we stop the killing.
First, we need to protect the Reverse Domino Theory. This is more important than anything else. If globalization cannot grow on its own then nothing we can do can save it. Likewise, if the world globalizes on its own not even terrorists and incompetent ideologues will be able to stop it.
The China price is an acknowledgement that China's central role in the Reverse Domino Theory means that a successful completion of the Reverse Domino Effect will have to be tailored with China in mind. The China Price is the recognition that the loss of China to the world economy is the single greatest catastrophe imaginable, short of nuclear war of an attack from space. We need to encourage the reality of peacefully connecting China. The China Price must be paid to prevent China from disconnecting or warring.
Because our core competency is money, not will or blood, the China Price will have to be paid in cash. Because our competency is something quick, while the connectedness of China will only grow slowly, the China Price must buy us something to discourage China from warring or disconnecting itself over generations.
We need an automatic system which makes it not just easy, but profitable, for politicians and leaders to make the choices that prevent war with China. Not just a one-off like abandoning Taiwan, because even then China would realize she has lost Burma, Vietnam, Turkestan, Mongolia, and Siberia. We need something that gives us the backbone we couldn't afford in will or blood. We need a China price that puts profits on the line.
We need a military-industrial-Leviathan complex.
A military-industrial complex is the only way to make Chinese war aims not just dubious, but delusional. A military-industrial complex is the only way to give the doves in Beijing the upper-hand, year after year after year. Because a military-industrial complex provides jobs for constituents, golden parachutes for generals, and jobs for the wives of Senators, the military-industrial complex gives us the patience and will to do the hard work of preventing China from fighting a war we do not want. Mere trade with a party dictatorship cannot do this, just as mere nuclear weapons cannot do this. The money from a military-industrial complex can.
A secondary concern is rolling back rogue regimes. Barnett's A-Z Rule-Set cannot do this effectively, and Barnett's SysAdmin wouldn't be politically possible. America is not able to pay the price in blood, or will, to send uniformed soldiers in. And because America really, really wants to do something, every new outrage hurts America's will even more. Clinton was write to criticize GHW Bush for not acting unilaterally in Bosnia, just as Clinton was wrong to not act unilaterally in Rwanda. Able to see things go to Hell and unwilling to do anything, Americans are taught to feel bad about themselves while they let others die.
It's easy to begin processing politically bankrupt states. The public outcry is intense, and the left/right isolationist coalition almost always loses the initial debate. But everything after the Leviathan's bomb-'em-back-to-the-stoneage task is hard politically. Not only does someone have to go on and kill the worst actors, America has to be ready, willing, and able to quickly send someone in. It would be disastrous to further tie America's hand, by handcuffing her to corrupt international institutions. A million died in Rwanda because the Hutu genocidaires knew there would be no soldiers from the west to stop them.
Something that gives us the backbone we couldn't afford in will or blood. We need a "Rwanda price" that puts profits on the line.
We need a military-industrial-SysAdmin complex.
To misquote Mark Safranski, the Military-Industrial-Leviathan complex is a visionary grand-strategic level good that builds something new. But without a Military-Industrial-SysAdmin complex, Barnett's vision has had nothing to compete with John Robb's realization that "you can take a great idea, with few resources, and conquer the world" applies to transnational crime and unconventional war, too. By using functionally similar private military contractors, what Safranski calls "free companies," we can coopt this dynamic. Using open-source free-companies to directly engage our enemies, while knowing that these terrorists will be squeezed between contentional, vertically-organized crime on one hand and their fratricidal tendencies, we can minimize the chances of a global guerrillas-style insurgency.
As Dr. Chet Richards appears to be arguing in Neither Shall the Sword the land-war portion of America's counter-insurgency ability should heavily use private military companies. Instead of politicians fretting over American lives lost in stopping a genocide, politicians will know that intervention means campaign contributions. Processing politically bankrupt states becomes not just easy, but profitable.
By protecting our military-industrial-Leviathan complex which prevents big-war with China, and building a military-industrial-SysAdmin complex which processes politically bankrupt states, we can shrink the Gap, end true poverty, end wars as know them, and make globalization truly global.
Let's do it.
This has been Embracing Defeat, part of a series of reviews for Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett's Blueprint for Action. The posts in Embracing Defeat are:
I. Barnett's Two Strategies
II. Blood and Will
III. The Born Gimp
IV. Embracing Victory
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Since that post, I have been in an email conversation with
an expert on OODA loops. He asked me not to quote him, so I will neither use his words nor his name (if he lets me, sure sure I will!) Dr. Chet Richards of DNI. The expert informed me that my drawing contained an important mistake. That is, the flow from Observe to Act is the primary link out of Observe. Most actions are not "decided" upon, so the Observe-Decide flow is a secondary link.