Friday, December 21, 2007
Shelby Steel's recent column in the Wall Street Journal, "Obama is right on Iran: Talking with Tehran may help us wage the wars we need to fight" is so-so. A good conceptualization is muddied by tired talk of moral authority. A great start is swamped by a lousy finish.
The same is not true of Tom's summary of the (best of the) article, which is brilliant:
In my strategic vernacular, then, here’s the key difference between the Old Core and the New Core WRT the long war against radical extremism: despite the wobbly types in Europe, the long war is a war of discipline for the Old Core. We enjoy the current world order and dealing with the radical jihadists is simply a matter of preserving our advantages. Over time, globalization makes the problem go away in the variety of ways I’ve long described here (e.g., various reformations, demographics, moving beyond oil).
In contrast, for the New Core and for Seam States in general (like Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia), the long war IS a war of survival, just as it is for the jihadists themselves, doomed as they are.
This is why the West, and the U.S. in particular, will never wage—and should never wage—an all-out or total war, nor should we put America on a war footing. It’s unnecessary and unsustainable and unwise. So all that gibberish about “America’s getting the war it deserves” is all wrong. America is getting the war that’s appropriate for the risks entailed.
Just as "loyalty militias" make natural allies in a sub-national sense (we need someone who will provide security and kill our enemies -- loyalty militias exist to do just that), the New care is comprised of "loyalty countries" -- states that want the same basic goals as we do, but are more willing to kill to get there.
Allying with the New Core is as much part of our effort to shrink the Gap as is building a Military-Industrial-Complex for nation building: it makes the "correct" answer of what to do (build the Sysadmin! support the New Core!) a natural given rather than a policy decision that has to be made every time.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Tom's recent post about enaging China on building Africa is a must read. I already commented over at this blog.
The Gap is essentially composed of the African and Islamic states in the world. However, the challenges we face in those theaters are remarkable different. In Africa, we're essentially building from weak foundations across the board. A difficult job, but a combination of Chinese money and American will can go a long way. In the Islamic world, however, we face intelligent, organized, and modern foes with not just allies, but actual compatriots among the Left.
To me, this implies that we should focus on constructive engagement with Africa , and destructive disengagement with the Islamic world. That is, the flow of labor and capital should increase between the world economy and sub-Saharan Africa, while American and her allies should focus on destabilizing the system of the Islamic belt and otherwise walling ourselves off. This may be "civilizational apartheid," but it should not serve to increase the positions of either the current regimes or the worst of their opponents.
Monday, October 29, 2007
China today looks like the U.S. of the 1920s to Marc Faber, a well-known money manager based in Thailand. He notes that just as Chinese investors are confident about their economy, the U.S. economy was surging on hopes about technological changes like the radio and about the rise of a consumer class.
Of course, the 1929 crash set in motion a host of new rule sets in America, prompting “the creation of basic investor safeguards that strengthened the market and probably limited fallout from later tumbles.”
Not “probably,” I would say.
So like I say, China will learn from scandals and crashes. The key for us, is how we mentor them in this process, because we’ve been there and done all that before.
But you look at all that uncertainty and looming new rule sets that the Party knows full well it’ll have to adopt as the country matures and moves through all these inevitable crises, and it’s little surprise to me that China has no desire whatsoever to stick its neck out on the Burmas and Darfurs and Irans and North Koreas of the world. Why pick up the quagmire when you got this much going on at home?
The rest of the Core needs China to do three things:
- Do not attack attack Taiwan or otherwise threaten the security of another Core state
- Develop a civil society
- Bring security to Africa
The first goal is achieved through making it quietly but profoundly clear that the Communist Party could not survive a war with Taiwan. From encouraging the nuclearization of Japan and Taiwan to deepending military relationships with India, America has many tools to complement her navy and air force.
The second part is achieved through economic and cultural openness, both by encouraging civil society organizations to develop within China and convincing China to drop protectionism against civil society organizations without. From Soros' Open Society Institute" to Ratzinger's "Catholic Church," large scale institutions are able and eager to replicate themselves within China.
The last goal is harder. China's deepending engagement with Africa is fueld by her need for raw materials. As this rebel faction or that group of thugs kidnap Chinese workers to gain cash, China will be forced to export security to Africa. It combined with American logistics and UN bureaucratization, a substantial part of Africa's security oversight could be removed from locals and given to the Core.
China is sometimes referred to as the "future of profit" or "future of threat." She may also be the future of Africa.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Tom Barnett notes Patreaus appears to be detaching Iraqi Shia from the worst of the militias, like he earlier helped detach Iraqi Sunni Arabs from al Qaeda in Iraq:
Interesting. To extent this repeats like Al-Qaeda in Anbar, Petraeus may be pulling off a double.
Like the Anbar Awakening, Patreaus appears to be smart enough to recognize victory when it presents itself. (This is no small accomplishment.) In particular, now that the Shia appear to have captured the seat of the Caliphs from their Sunni Arab rivals, the main benefit of the Shia militias (clear out Sunni houses, protection from Sunni terrorism) have gone away.
Here's a second possible explanation: the Shia have basically won the Battle of Baghdad. Given their victory plus the additional security that has resulted from the surge of U.S. forces, there simply isn't the need to rely on militias, especially thuggish ones.
Ethnological reboot -- successfully completed ethnic cleansing -- can provide the social harmony a nation needs for growth. It looks like Iraq is getting close to possessing that public good.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
In two recent posts, "You're right. Both Tel Aviv and Riyadh play us like violins" and "The other Tom's Sunday column," Tom Barnett appears to lay the groundwork for supporting, or at least being indifferent to, a war on Iran. I don't mean to say that Tom has a secret agenda, or even that he embraces the logical result of his thinking. Nonetheless, the conclusion that naturally flows from his writing is a command to opponents of offensive operations against Iran: take it easy.
Working backwards, Barnett seconds New York Times columnist Tom Friedman's call for a 9/12 President. The 9/11 emergency, so goes the argument, is over. This is because emergencies are ruled by terrorists, but policy is ruled by states. We are in this for the long haul. This means getting back to normal, and letting the American system that works so well in generating wealth and happiness function. National security will take care of itself, as it always has, because we are the biggest and best country on the block.
But earlier, Tom notes that the Israeli and Saudi governments are manipulating our policy towards Iran. While the Jewish and Wahabi States are not fans of each other, both fear the rise of Iran more than they fear each other. So both advocate, using whatever means they can, for an American strike on Iran.
What a 9/12 President would do is obvious: attack Iran.
Barnett has opposed war with Iran before on the grounds that it would wreck the "big bang effect" caused by the Iraq War. I assume, that when Tom appears to endorse ludicrous ideas (like Friedman's line of "I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans"), Barnett is actually America's governmental infrastructure (especially when it comes to national security) is sufficiently readjusted to the point where just playing for time makes sense. (America famously used the playing-for-time strategy in the Cold War.)
But if we are now playing for time, that means allowing the instability in the middle east to unfold as it will. It means that we no longer need a president who focuses on those problems, but one who allows our response to do the work for him. The rise of Iran surely is a consequence of the take-down of Iraq, as is the push-back from Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Of course, it was dysfunction in the Sunni Arab world that led to 9/11. But Iran's been deeply involved in the Sunni Arab system since 1980, at the latest. The Iranian government is just as much part of that violently dysfunctional systems as Iraq's Saudi Arabia's, or Syria's. A "9/12" President would treat the middle east as just another part of the world, and if our two closest allies in any region are threatened by a rogue enemy, would he act as an ally does or think deeply about what that means for transformative, systemic, change?
The former, of course.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Joacy, M. (2007). Giuliani Visit to London Aims to Bolster Credentials. Wall Street Journal. September 20, 2007.
My preference is to keep NATO as a keep-Russia-out-of-Europe club, and build up a Pacific NATO. Still, multilateralizing America's security guarantee to the geostrategically chaotic states of the western Pacific (Japan, South Korea, North Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, etc.) would not be a bad thing, and Giuliani's calls to expand NATO into the Pacific are not foolish.
While Tom disagrees, this seems to be a case of the great (waiting for a Pacific Treaty Organization that includes all the western Pacific states) becoming the enemy of the good (providing east Asia's first institutional security guarantee).
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I recognize there's a lot of complexity to the issue of an Iran War. Tom does too. See two of his recent posts, "Signaling Iran with our proxy" and "The coming strike on Iran" for his views on the issue. And my posts, "Winners and losers of a violent end of the Islamic Republic of Iran" and "Toward a new, democratic middle east," I humbly add, are worth a read themselves.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Major props to Thomas P.M. Barnett, as his gift of the Chinese edition of Pentagon's New Map arrived with this morning's mail.
(Now to learn Chinese beyond the pre-school level..... %-} )
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Tom Barnett and I agree on a lot (such as the use f private contractors to counter the excessive relative value given to individual lives in public discourse), but he's wrong in his defense of Senator Barack Obama and his attacks on Senator Clinton (see posts from July 28 and July 25). Specifically, in a recent Democratic Party debate Obama said that he would freely meet with rogue leaders without preconditions, while Clinton emphasized the need for care and concern when meeting with rogue states.
Meetings with high-level American officials are goods. They benefit not only the regimes hosting the officials, but those factions within the regimes seen as orchestrating it. The opposite is also true: when American officials are too busy to visit some country or organization, the snub hurts not only the would-be host but those elements that are seen as having "lost" or "depended on" the visit.
It's is foolish to pretend that high-level American officials have an infinite amount of time and energy, or that as much time as possible should be spent visiting our enemies instead of our friends, "on the fence states," or even doing the other jobs they are employed to do.
Barnett's defense of Obama is wrong, and I fear it has a lot more to do with exasperation against Senator Clinton and the "baby boomers" in general (or perhaps the physical pain Tom's enduring) than with the validity of Obama's statements or even Barack himself.
For a more reasonable analysis of Obama's statement, see zenpundit's Obama's lack of sea-legs in foreign policy.
Update: A social faux paus! As I'm complaining, Tom is complimenting!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
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.