Archive for November of 2005
Together with another exhortational recital by Bush. Both are tedious repititions of the same empty slogans used since 2002 in the Run Up. “Stay the course, when Iraq stands up, we stand down”, etc. You've heard it before. Laura Rosen has a link to the bromide brochure/strategy here.
This or any ideological regime can not suddenly become another animal. To expect details, a management focus, or recognition of the empirical situation on the ground would be to ask for an ideological regime to self destruct.
P.S. Don't forget Rumsfeld's self-desribed “epiphany” at his press conference yesterday, when he realized over the weekend (he says) that what would really help is if we stopped calling the insurgents in Iraq “insurgents”.
UPDATE: 30.11.05 10:50 PM The original art for this post was replaced. This version adds Victor Davis Hanson as an apparition and turns Rumsfeld into his self image of “Mr. Brain”. The revisions seemed more appropriate for where we are.
The “War Over the CIA” from 2001-2005 will merit its own chapter in the history of this Time. The CIA was a minor player in the larger struggle of the Bush Administration's feverish drive 2001-2005 to cement the United States' transformation to a post-modernist society of faith, mass emotion and belief. A minor cog, but a significant one.
To the Administration and its water-carriers, the CIA served as both a bogeyman and standin for the “pre-9/11 thinking” of empiricism, facts and verification.
The CIA is a complex bureaucracy. Certainly portions of the DO (Directorate of Operations) and other elements dutifully (in some cases enthusiastically) embraced the White House transformative post modernist vision. Other portions at the Agency resisted.
The CIA writ large helped its critics because of its track record. That record opened itself to — and invited — criticism, skepticism and even disdain. To Administration critics, particularly after November 2003, the CIA became a short hand for institutional truth-telling, competence and a healthy skepticism for neocon dreams.
Like a typical WWF-written script, both sides had villains and heroes. But is this reality? Not even close.
Two items come to mind. First is from Michael Sheuer, former Agency analyst, the celebrated author “Anonymous” and former head of the (Alec) Bin Laden Station. Sheuer has just written a colorful and occasionally brutal essay in the Washington Post “Book World” entitled Bad Intelligence: Two new books on the evolution of the CIA help explain the agency's current black eyes. Second, a recent WaPo article on the new Open Source initiative at the Office of the estwhile new Director of National Intelligence (OenDNI) highlights some of the points prompted by Scheuer's piece.
What are we being told here?
Michael Sheuer and the WaPo OenDNI initiative article both leave us locked in the Vince MacMahon narrative. One can cheer or boo depending on preference. In Sheuer's case, he performs well and we get some bravura body slams. Sheuer at least does not ask if we can smell what he is cooking. (One shudders).
But by now with the Bush Administration's post modernist transformation project in disarray, we are entitled to more. If we wish to jettison the Bush Administration's contempt for facts and empiricism, surely we must demand the same of its critics?
Four recent developments prompt comment. Each one on their own is disturbing. Yet they are part of a larger mosaic. The larger picture shows an unmistakable drift further to Empire and Authoritarianism.
The question, of course, is what comes next?
Overly dramatic? Consider each item separately first:
First, as noted by Laura Rosen, Firedoglake and a few other bloggers, the United States Government officially got away with eviscerating the 4th Ammendment of the Constitution in the name of “Terror” and “National Security.” Jose Padilla, American citizen and the alleged “dirty bomber” that Ashcroft denounced breathlessly live from a hastily called press conference in Moscow, has been incarcerated for 3 years without being charged or allowed to see a lawyer.
Now, the U.S. Government drops the “dirty bomber” allegation and claims Padilla wanted to be a jihadist. Here's a good summary of the long standing jurisprudence that the Bush Administration trampled in an eyeblink.
Second, the U.S. Government isn't just doing this to Padilla. There is an entire array of Star Chamber-esque proceedings where outside the view of the judicial system, the Administration is effectively judge, jury and executioner. As the NYT noted, the Administration finally charged Padilla for things unrelated to the alleged “dirty bomb threat” to foreclose a Supreme Court review. This way:
Indeed, citing the need to combat terrorism, the administration has argued, with varying degrees of success, that judges should have essentially no role in reviewing its decisions. The change in Mr. Padilla's status, just days before the government's legal papers were due in his appeal to the Supreme Court, suggested to many legal observers that the administration wanted to keep the court out of the case . . .
The government says a secret and unilateral decision-making process is necessary because of the nature of the evidence it deals with. Officials described the approach as a practical one that weighs a mix of often-sensitive factors.
Third, the Defense Department is proceeding to expand rapidly its domestic intelligence and spying program. The Post discusses the Counterintelligence Field Activity at DoD and the request for more authority. Although the CIFA is just the tip of the ice berg. WaPo does note that there has been almost no effective congressional oversight of this kind of DoD domestic intelligence activity as a safeguard. What the DoD seeks to do is meld its domestic monitoring activities with the FBI's actions. (See earlier blog entry on FBI “National Security Letter” abuse on right side bar.)
And Fourth? None of the above seems to raise an eyebrow. Individually, each is extraordinarily troubling. Collectively, the danger signals point to a system drifting closer to uncontrolled authoritarianism free and unfettered from the Rule of Law. The Bush Administration itself is a transition phenomenon. What comes next is the crucial question.
All in a shameless effort to manipulate the public at large into compliance, fear and trembling (apologies Soren).
Yet here is the real thing. The new conservative Polish government has just released documents from the archives, including this 1979 Soviet plan to wage nuclear war to seize Western Europe.
The NATO response is depicted by the Soviets as the fairly precise strikes to interdict the follow-on echelons arriving from the Soviet Union to support the then-Group of Soviet Forces Germany. (Wow, is that weird typing that again after all these years). Note the larger Soviet warheads and less accurate delivery vehicles (the SS-20s were only beginning deployment in 1979) meant Western Europe was largely doomed to be a radioactive wasteland. Under the plan, however, the Soviets expected to halt combat operations at the Rhine.
But this is reality. Not a blown up subway. Not a series of color charts. Nuclear obliteration. It puts the fear mongering and psychological AgitProp of the Global War on Terrorism (tm) in perspective. That was real nuclear catastrophe - a whole continent wiped out in 7 days. That was real conflict with a totalitarian adversary. The threat from Al Qaeda is of a different order, and Condi, you have yet to apologize for your blatantly dishonest “threat of mushroom cloud” nonesense from the Fall of 2002.
From Salon, a powerfully insightful column, The Long March of Dick Cheney.
A couple of the key grafs:
Nov. 24, 2005 | The hallmark of the Dick Cheney administration is its illegitimacy. Its essential method is bypassing established lines of authority; its goal is the concentration of unaccountable presidential power. When it matters, the regular operations of the CIA, Defense Department and State Department have been sidelined.
Richard Nixon is the model, but with modifications. In the Nixon administration, the president was the prime mover, present at the creation of his own options, attentive to detail, and conscious of their consequences. In the Cheney administration, the president is volatile but passive, firm but malleable, presiding but absent. Once his complicity has been arranged, a closely held “cabal” — as Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, calls it — wields control.
Within the White House, the office of the vice president is the strategic center. The National Security Council has been demoted to enabler and implementer. Systems of off-line operations have been laid to evade professional analysis and a responsible chain of command. Those who attempt to fulfill their duties in the old ways have been humiliated when necessary, fired, retired early or shunted aside. In their place, acolytes and careerists indistinguishable from true believers in their eagerness have been elevated.
Then the article, by Sidney Blumenthal, goes on to note what the Stiftung has been saying for over a month now:
Cheney is a master bureaucrat, proficient in the White House, the agencies and departments, and Congress. The many offices Cheney has held add up to an extraordinary résumé. His competence and measured manner are often mistaken for moderation. Among those who have misjudged Cheney are military men — Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft and Wilkerson, who lacked a sense of him as a political man in full. As a result, they expressed surprise at their discovery of the ideological hard man. Scowcroft told the New Yorker recently that Cheney was not the Cheney he once knew. But Scowcroft and the other military men rose by working through regular channels; they were trained to respect established authority. They are at a disadvantage in internal political battles with those operating by different rules of warfare. Their realism does not account for radicalism within the U.S. government.
Blumenthal is too kind. Powell, Wilkerson et al. were powerless not only because they fail to understand that they confronted an ideology — an ideology far more malignant and encompassing than the convenient “neocon” label. Powell et al. failed because they lacked a coherent philosophy of their own, other than competent crisis management or mastery of details. It is comical now to hear Wilkerson peddle around town that org chart reform is needed to constrain what happened. Wilkerson sadly denied ideology was a factor in what happened against Powell, claiming that the influence of the Vice President was not ideological. No wonder OSD and EOVP treated them with contempt.
(And let us not forget Wilkerson et al. kept silent up through October 2005 and failed to speak out before November 2004 when their alleged warnings could have made a real difference). But he has a book coming to plug. Coupled with Powell's pathological need to ensure that the Powell brand was protected at all costs, their inability to recognize and confront a radical ideology and respond with a coherent vision of their own guaranteed their eclipse.
But read the whole Salon piece here. And Happy Holidays to all Acolytes of Freedom!
To help Acolytes of Freedom stave off the sleep from turkey, we happily announce two additions to the Bunker Library. They are listed on the left sidebar.
First, Leon Hadar's Sandstorm. Leon builds upon his presicent earlier writings and reporting to make the case for a complete conceptual rethink of U.S. policy in the Middle East. One of his provactive and thoughtful solutions is for the U.S. to adopt a policy of constructive disengagement from the region.
A full book review for the Stiftung is planned.
Second, Jennifer Sims and Burton Gerber's new book, Transforming U.S. Intelligence. Gerber is the well-regarded Moscow Station Chief and 39 year intelligence veteran. Sims is a former staff member of the SSCI and served in intelligence-related positons at the State Depertment.
The title is somewhat of a misnomer as the book seeks to adjust U.S. intelligence rather than transform it. And both Sims and Gerber support the DNI infrastructure. But, the book offers insights grounded in operational realities. These realities are a glaring contrast to the sound bites and talking points bandied about on CNNMSNBCFOX. Too bad so much of our public discourse has little room for “reality-based viewpoints”.
Finally, after the jump is Leon Hadar's latest piece written for “Business Times” (dated November 22, 2005), comparing the mistakes of Lord North dealing with the American Colonies with the American experience in Iraq. Check it out.
Who knew that John Lehman was a Sophia Coppola fan?
Lehman's crie de coeur in the WaPo “Getting Spy Reform Wrong” deserves mention because it is both telling important truths and it appears to have no discernable impact.
As Lehman notes:
Negroponte and his deputy, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, are trying to implement some of our reform recommendations, such as the use of much more open-source intelligence (e.g., reading foreign newspapers). But in every case the implementation creates another box on the organization chart and yet another layer of bureaucracy. When it comes to staff, usually more is less: Authority is spread so thinly that no one can say yes and too many people can say no. Management becomes detached from what is going on in the field, the labs and the analytic shops. The result is delay and indecision — exactly what we saw before Sept. 11.
Lehman goes on to decry the bizarre Washington mindset that equates process with substance — (something that Larry Wilkerson does constantly on his 2-year-too-late “Dick Cheney Is A Menace” World Tour, when he claims all would be well if more meetings were held with more bureaucrats):
The administration just does not seem to get it. It appears to have a childlike belief that creating a new bureaucracy is the solution to every problem. Creation of the Department of Homeland Security has not improved our homeland intelligence. The bureaucratic method was amply demonstrated when DHS held 150 firefighters for three days in Atlanta while people died in New Orleans, so that the firefighters could be given the requisite instruction in avoiding sexual harassment. That's all about process, not results.
Is intelligence reform dead? In the grand sense, quite possibly. Negroponte et al. will make modest adjustments at the margins. But the system itself largely preserved its identity and sanctity. Ackerman-esque “high moments” that bring the public, Congress and the Executive together to decide major issues — such as the role and purpose of intelligence in a democracy — are rare. We may not have another for a long time.
via Atrios, Malkin gets called to justify some of her ad hominem attacks during a radio interview. And then goes ballistic about it on her blog, presumably part of the “Pajama Media”.
Laura Rozen's cover story on the end of the 9/11 presidency is on newstands now.
RoxPopuli is prepping for the holidays but offers a banquet of interesting reading. The Stiftung also wishes it could be as creative as Rox with some of the funniest pictures speaking volumes on current events. A must see.
Chaos Manor offers a thoughtful exchange with serving officers in Iraq on what comes next. The money quote from Jerry:
You have given up on the Republic; yet you continue to argue that we should act like a republic, not a competent empire. Why?
David Brin offers a considered essay on themes important to the Stiftung, “The Urgency of the Lockean Revolution”. Highly recommended.
UPDATE: 22.11.2005 6:50 PM
And Amy Goodman has a great transcript of her interview with James Bamford, author of “The Man Who Sold the Iraq War: John Rendon, Bush's General in the Propaganda War”.
Today in 2005 and the twilignt of “moral clarity”, our political culture still rewards moral posturing. So when Clinton et al. condemn video games, no one should doubt that this is still smart politics. One can assume that Clinton has focus group tested this issue ad nauseum before taking a stand.
Lieberman, Clinton and their critics are still in the spirit of the early 1990s. They remain woefully ingnorant about games. And they still give parents a complete pass regarding their children's video habits.
But America, even in an age of “moral clarity”, has moved on. Gaming is no longer a minority activity indulged in exclusively by socially maladjusted males. In fact, in 2005, more women then men play games online. By 2010, according to today's WaPo, the gaming industry will be a $42 billion industry.
This changing and expanding demographic may signal a time limit on how long politicians will benefit by show boating against video games and game players. MTV is already chasing gamers to avoid the bleeding away of their audience. How soon before politicians court gamers?
Meanwhile, the hilariously much maligned Hollywood “subversive machine” is an equal partner here in fear mongering. According to Hollywood, all to often videogames and those that play them are portrayed as violent and socially maladjusted. Consider last nite's CSI: Miami, which featured young criminals on a crime spree acting out a video game. The game was a thinly veiled reference to the landmark Grand Theft Auto games. The preview:
Here, young people rob a bank, try to rape a woman and kill a teller supposedly because they are acting out a video game. Are Hollywood/CBS bitter at losing viewership to videogames?
“Open Source Media”, nee the mercifully abandoned “Pajama Media”, launched their contribution to “the Movement” die Bewegung. Bizarrely, they boast a logo brazenly ripped off from the ridiculous Lucent “innovation ring”.
As noted by James Wolcott, OSM in its the inaugural launch is consistent with its squadrismo heritage and features calls for violence on the opposition. It is up to you now, Squadristi, to fullfill your destiny and become the blog of “Anti Throught”, to complete your mission to overthrow the Enlightenment and decadent bourgeois liberalism. We look forward to monitoring your calls for action and hate, emotion over reason and the marginalization of the rational. La Razza and il pugno are your masters now.
UPDATE: 22.11.05 12:30 PM
Slashdot reports that OSM wants to change its name *back* to “Pajama Media”. Apparently OSM has been beaten about the head over its misuse of the “open source” meme. They seem to have stood their ground just like the Italian 8th Army on the Don in December 1942. Details here.
Far more interesting is the reaction he provoked.
The ideological “dead enders” in the Administration seeking to prop up the tatters of the Imperial Idea unleashed the predictable Mau Mau against Murtha. Although the technique has lost its impact. The dog ain't hunting so good anymore in late 2005.
As Billmon noted in another context, there is a whiff of the end times of the Soviet regime in the air, say 1989-1991. The internal logic of the ideological regime requires, however, that the attacks increase in intensity and ferocity until the regime collapses. So get some popcorn.
UPDATE: 19.11.2005 9:00 AM
Here's an item from Reuters (hattip DailyKos) describing the upcoming RNC campaign-style political offensive against the Democrats (and moderate Republicans) regarding the War.
More instructive is the confused reaction Murtha caused within the Democrat caucus on the Hill. Both Rahm Emmanuel and Nancy Pelosi evaded commenting on Murtha's statement yesterday, hiding behind verbose boilerplate. Murtha's stature within the defense community highlighted the Democrat's lack of any national leader with any qualifications remotely close on national security.
Murtha (and Chuck Hagel's earlier CFR speech) also reveal how much Colin Powell and the Democrats have in common. Both Powell and the Democrats lack the courage of their convictions. Both use tactical positioning and signalling in an effort to avoid the need for definitive stances. The paramount goal is to preserve personal viability and the right to declare when a success occurs they were always firmly on board. No doubt such tactical adjustments do keep possibilities open. But they are passive techniques, leaving both Powell and the Democrats ultimately at the mercy of agendas by others.
And Kerry, who had 20 ways to win in 2004, used such a passive strategy of “playing not to lose”, to find the one approach that cost him the election.
P.S. Note to Colin Powell — no one is buying the tired line of “too loyal a soldier to criticize” when you backstab relentlessly (safely) all across town. Or use Wilkerson as a cat's paw. Murtha and Hagel are combat vets who take stands and shrug off the White House Mau Mau machine. Join them, why don't you? For a change.
UPDATE: 18.11.2005 3:50 PM
Here's the link to Murtha's complete statement (hattip RoxPopuli!)
UPDATE: 18.11.2005 4:00 PM
HOTLINE confirms that House Republicans are planning on forcing a vote at 7:00 PM tonite on a 'Murtha Amendment'. The Republican plan is force the Democrat Caucus to make a decision: decide if they stand with Murtha or repudiate him. Sadly, this was predicted by the post above. The Republicans know their foes and Democrat inability to take stands based on a clear agenda. And, ala Powell, this leaves Democrats vulnerable to ideological smash mouth politics.
If Pelosi et al. had an ounce of political acumen, they would take this challenge and as a caucus stand with Murtha and slam the vote united. If.
Here's the text of the Republican resolution from HOTLINE:
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Murtha's version of the Resolution (in the jump)
UPDATE: 19.11.2005 8:30 AM
The Democrats showed encouraging unity and political will last nite. Rebuffing the Potemkin vote arranged hy House leadership successfully is encouraging. They remain essentially reactive and passive. But a good first step. There is potential.
But in the last several weeks we have seen a wild departure from that tradition. And the suggestion that's been made by some U. S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this Administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.
Vice President Richard Cheney
History gives examples of when ideological regimes exhaust the possibilities of psychological mobilization or manipulation and are overwhelmed by empirical reality. Those regimes succumbed to a reality that can not be surmounted by Will, by Belief or in the lexicon of America circa 2005, Resolve. We are witnessing another example today.
And ideological regimes, whether of the Right or the Left, require acquiesence or obediance, if not buy in, by the respective populations of the animating Idea. Absent this, an ideological regime will crumble when confronted with contrary empirical challenges to its Idea. History also shows that an ideological regime in its twilight often explores the extremes, and in some cases “irrational”, formulations in a bid to recover the legitimacy - or fearful respect of - the animating Idea.
Which leads to Chuck Hagel's speech this past week to the Council on Foreign Relations (full text on the jump). A non-ideological approach to the Middle East, Iraq and renewed diplomacy is possible. There are alternatives. It just requires one to endure the twilight lashing out by the ideologicals, and being branded by them a “November Criminal” simply because one will not affirm Belief in the Idea of Empire and Total Victory.
And equally inevitable? That he would be revealed as a shameless self-promoter and huckster who traded insider gossip for critical thinking.
What was unexpected? That others are finally catching on to his schtick.
Bob Woodward is a courtier, attending the powerful and the elites. He sells their stories in return for access. He is the utlimate safe courtier, because he will never risk upsetting the system. To do so would be to lose access, and thus the lifeblood of “Bob Woodward Enterprises”.
But the game changed on him with the Bush Administration. Their feral zeal in (a) ensuring message discipline; (b) rewarding fellow travellers and punishing critical thinking; and (c) transformation of media and politiical discourse via the politics of fear, anger and resentment is unique in modern American history. And to gain access to this mutated Court, one had to be complicit, one way or the other.
Bob Woodward has now been spit out by the debased Court system. He must do “the walk of shame” home now, in front of us all. Forced to come clean finally with colleagues and the “rabid dog” Fitzpatrick. The only ones in the dark are his putative readers in the public. Yet we see him now as he is, beleaugered, tired, spent and bereft of credibility.
Retired Navy Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, who served as the Director of the Office of Force Transformation (OFT) at OSD died Saturday Nov. 12 at age 63.
Readers of this blog should know that the Stiftung worked and talked with Cebrowski and OFT regarding transformation projects and matters while he was in his role as Director, OFT. Cebrowski was as smart as they say, blessed with a “high bandwidth” mind. He was the ideal candidate to develop the intellectual foundations for force transformation at OSD.
In a conversation before he stepped down, he did share his pleasure over successes as well as rueful acknowledgement of where the bureaucratic beast fought back successfully. As he always emphasized, transformation is an ongoing process, rather than a static end state. By 2005, I think he would concede rapid prototyping is not where he would have wanted it, and I am sure he would be following the pico satellites development closely.
The point of rapid prototyping was at least two-fold. First, by constantly releasing prototypes for experimentation in the field, it would spur doctrinal and organization innovations and experimentation by forces simply by their “playing around” with prototypes. Second, the rapid prototyping would help maintain a healthy and effective defense industrial base by keeping design and manufacturing capabilities active across several market incumbents/allow for new entrants.
OFT did not unfortunately achieve its goals in this area. And the related collapse of the spiral development process helps explain why procurements are out of control — as evidenced by the new CVN-21 carrier doubling in cost to almost $14 billion.
Cebrowski nonetheless can legitimately take credit for a number of changes that are either in place or underway. OFT recently released case studies that show where transformation has had an impact. But he would be the first to agree I suspect that the most important transformation was a change in mental outlook for fighting in a networked environment. Once that change occurred, the institutional, programmatic and training processes would follow.
He has had some success in mind share capture. And it may ultimately be question of demographics and inevitable changing of the guard, too.
Some tools for introducing “transformative” concepts are actually already in the hands of the future officer and enlisted cohorts - either in the service or sitting on a sofa. Consider this item from the UK Ministry of Defense (it is not a photo):
Called DIVE-2 (Dismounted Infantry Virtual Environment), it is based on the best-selling home computer game Half Life 2. British troops train with DIVE-2 before shipping out to Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defense is reporting success in improving unit skill sets with DIVE-2 training.
And on the other end, there is the mass market X-Box 360, with their Ghost Recon 3:
Ghost Recon is a playable demo of OFT concepts. And courtesy of the XBox, and particularly via XBox Live, the video game demographic gets schooled in transformation, netcentric warfare and jointness, without even realizing it.
The U.S. Army, like the UK MoD has serious videogame traning programs as well. Consider the Army's training game on the Future Combat System — Future FORCE: Company Commander.
This post is not an attempt to equate transformation with videogames or the like. But, the point is that Art Cebrowski had the heavy lifting of changing mindsets and then nudging along programmatic and resource reconfigurations to match. His successors can not only build on his work, but many of the basic concepts of netcentric warfare as a force multifplier and warfighting that he explicitly had to inculcate are now being absorbed as osmosis in the upcoming cohorts.
Regardless of how one views Rumsfeld's balancing of transformation with operations in Iraq, the Nation lost not only a first class mind, but a class act, too.
God speed, Admiral.
Posting may be slow over the weekend as we work on a long form essay which seeks to sketch out the fundamental aspects of 'Bushism' as a political phenomenon (and specifically why it is not -- and consciously so -- a fully articulated political philosophy).
UPDATE: 15.11.05 10:44 PM
Essay is coming along. Will be posted soon!
Laura asks whether folks have noticed that the same people in and around the Administration are both advocates of a torture exemption for U.S. forces and also the spin-mongering during the Run Up. That question, and the reasons why those people are involved in both threads, goes to the heart of the MachtStat dicussion here. It is one of the core raison d'etres for this blog (it is okay to say that now, Condi and the French have kissed and made up).
(sometimes irony writes itself)
Herewith the original opening paragraph of the Presidential Proclamation on this Veterans' Day as drafted by the EOVP. It was changed before delivery today, after focus groups in Red States blamed President Bush for expected shortages of the new X Box 360:
To The Soldiers Of The Central Front
Of The War On Terror
November 11, 2005
"American People: While omitting warnings used to manipulate the Terror Alert System, the American homeland is not threatened, over one hundred thousand of our soldiers stand after almost three years of the heaviest battles against an enemy who is superior in willingness to die and use new lethal techniques. Victories such as the world has never yet seen were gained in 2003, thanks to the leadership and the heroism and valor of officers and men.
"Thus holds and fights now the greatest front of all time, from the polar regions to deepest Africa, from the Afghan snow fields to the mountains of the Balkans, so long until the hour of complete destruction nears for the most dangerous adversary.
"If now the American nation, at the occasion of the Veterans Day, desires to make a present to the American soldiers, then it should give up and do without all those things that exist in the warmest pieces of clothing, new iPods and latest X Box titles. All those things that can now be spared, and that later on in peacetime, will be obtainable any-how. Whatever the leadership of the army has provided and prepared in equipment, each soldier deserves much more. Here the homeland can help, but the soldier on the Central Front of the War on Terror shall thus realize that the unity of the people in our American Empire is no empty phrase.
"Now watch this drive . . ."
Incremental change, welcome nonetheless. The Office of the ertswhile new Director of National Intelligence (OenDNI) announced the creation of the new Open Source Center designed to enhance the intelligence community’s use of publicly available information. The Open Source Center will be part of the OenDNI yet be located at Langley (think TTIC-like mechanism). Negroponte also announced the new assistant deputy director of national intelligence for open source, also located at OenDNI. The position has yet to be filled.
Recent bureaucratic wars between and among the WH, OSD, Foggy Bottom and CIA et al. and the attendant publicity re Iraq have obscured the larger truth: for much if not most of the world intelligence target sets, open source information is often far more timely, accurate and informative. And the expertise to understand it almost always now outside of government. (Sandy Berger was very good on this point when appearing before the 911 Commission). For closed societies ala Hussein-era Iraq and North Korea now, this was less true. But they are the exception, not the rule. Gotta give credit to where credit is due, at least OenNDI is giving some lip service to recognizing reality.
Ishihara says U.S. can't win war with China, calls U.S forces incompetent
Saturday, November 5, 2005 at 07:57 JST
WASHINGTON — Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara used a speech in the U.S. capital Thursday to convey his views on China, arguing that economic containment is the best strategy because the United States would "certainly" lose a war with China, which he said would not hesitate to sacrifice its people on a massive scale when fighting against an enemy.
The governor, an outspoken politician known for his nationalistic views, also said U.S. ground forces, with the exception of the Marines, are "extremely incompetent."
"Therefore, we need to consider other means to counter China," he said. "The step we should be taking against China, I believe, is economic containment."
Here's the audio of his CSIS presentation.
Ishihara, cantakerous nationalist and famous for urging a "Japan That Can Say No", often commits political faux pas, inconveniently saying what many think but are too polite to say. His meeting with Richard Lawless must have been entertaining. Tuck this one away.
For those not immersed in current pop culture, Gwen Stefani is a platinum haired up tempo pop star with a self-empowerment “grrl” vibe going. You've probably heard “Hollaback Girl” or the recent “Cool” (make sure to get the Richard X remix).
Her song, video and clothing line based on “Harajuku Girls” is a tribute to the high style, trend setting neighborhood in stylish Shibuya, Tokyo. (Here, a virtual tour of Harajuku).
Some images to tide folks over until we return to this meme: “What do 'Harajuku Girls' have to teach us about Great Power dynamics in the Pacific Basin?” And yes, this is a serious subject! Really! No. Really.
UPDATE: 10.11.05 08:15 AM
Don't believe there is more going on? Consider this:
Editors Hope Manga Will Attract Younger Readers
By YURI KAGEYAMA, AP
TOKYO (Nov. 7) - “Doonesbury” and “Peanuts,” make way for “manga.” Come January, the Sunday funnies of several major North American newspapers will have doe-eyed women in frilly outfits, effeminate long-haired heroes and other trademark images of the Japanese comic style.
The reason? Newspaper editors want to attract more young readers. A study released earlier this year by the Carnegie Corporation put the age of newspaper readers at 53 and climbing - hardly a recipe for circulation growth.
“We thought if teens and young kids are reading manga, then why don't we get something in the paper that teens want to read?” said John Glynn, vice president at Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes comics and columns globally to newspapers. “Newspapers are being seen as their parents' medium.”
“The newspapers want the manga more even than we want the newspapers,” says Stuart Levy, chief executive of TOKYOPOP Inc., which publishes the cartoon strips that will be carried. “Newspapers are looking for new fresh ways to appeal to young people.”
If a species of humans as dense as newspaper industry executives can belatedly realize what culture is consumed by and looked up to by the under Matlock demographic, then it must be blindingly obvious . . .
The whole AP item
While ensnared in the self-made diversion in Iraq, the looming shadow of unfolding Chinese cultural, political and economic power serves as a rorschach test for explaining how many in the U.S. view the purpose and goals of U.S. power in the world. (And note to Richard Haas, we have been saying this for the last 5 years, including when you ostensibly could have done something as head of Policy Planning at Foggy Bottom).
On one side, we have Robert Kaplan's threat mongering profile of a China in need of containment and defeat by intrepid Americans in his now infamous The Atlantic piece. Here's the softcore tease: "The Middle East is just a blip. The American military contest with China in the Pacific will define the twenty-first century. And China will be a more formidable adversary than Russia ever was.
Expressly considering that and other alternatives, there is Fox News Contributor and Newsday columnist James Pinkerton, who in an earlier life was in the Reagan and Bush White Houses and with Lee Attwater won the 1988 campaign for "41".
Jim's piece,Superpower Showdown, presents a lucid case in support of his more measured teaser: America needs a new strategy for dealing with China, a country we can’t contain and can’t afford to fight. Jim's piece appears in the always intellectually interesting and provocative "The American Conservative".
The debate of the purpose, role and effectiveness of U.S. power will be a long running conversation here at Stop the Spirit of Zossen -- both on its own and in the code speak of "the China issue".
And we see already there are claims that intelligence is being manipulated, "sexed-up" and otherwise distorted to support apriori policy objectives. (Insert obligatory Casablanca gambling quote).
Here's one small example:
Assessing China's Military Space Capabilities
When: Thursday, November 10 at 11:00 am
Were: Senate Capitol, SC 6
Dr. Gregory Kulacki, Senior Analyst and China Project Manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists, will join us for a discussion on China's Military Space Capabilities. In its recently released annual report The Military Power of the People's Republic of China, the U.S. Department of Defense states that China has developed and tested an advanced anti-satellite (ASAT) system. Dr Kulacki has analyzed the original Chinese-language source documents and his research poses serious questions about the quality of the information and the sources of US intelligence. [emphasis added by StiftungLeo Strauss] Are the Chinese developing anti-satellite systems? What do we know about Chinese military capabilities and intentions in space? What are the implications for intelligence collection and analysis?
UPDATE4:15 PM 09.11.05
To answer the questions, yes, the podcasts also will be available for subscription via iTunes shortly. Some php coding remains to be done.
UPDATE1:40 PM 10.11.05
To those worried, be assured Helga definitely will be back, and taking no guff!
Much has been said about his refusal to submit the individuals identfied in the Inspector General Helgersen long suppressed report for disciplinary review regarding 9/11.
A separate issue is whether the report should be declassified and made available to the American people. Goss' own statement notes that to release the IG report is inappoprriate because of the fabled “sources and methods” bolierplate.
Harman's statement on Goss' decision replies “While it is never appropriate to reveal sources and methods, much in the report should have been made public by Goss and some already is public in the reports of the Joint Inquiry on 9/11 and the 9/11 Commission. We are exploring whether under Intelligence Committee rules or the DNI statute, portions of the report can be declassified.”
This is a month old already. Yet, it is instructive to note the abstract of the Ames Inspector General's report after the fold. Too bad Tenet seems to be showing more balls now re avoiding an Accountability Board than when he was On the Job. . .
7 November 2005
12:05 PM: Last fall, when church-state watchdog groups warned politically-active churches that overt campaigning for one candidate or another might cost them their tax-exempt status, conservative talking heads such as Jay Sekulow cried persecution at the hands of "left-wing thugs" selectively targeting conservative churches. A year later, the issue has resurfaced, but not as Sekulow so flamboyantly predicted. Instead, now that the IRS has gotten around to its political investigations, a liberal Episcopal church in California is the target and at risk of losing its tax-exempt status, though interestingly, not for endorsing a candidate from the pulpit, but rather for a sermon opposing the Iraq war, as well as tax cuts, on religious grounds. The church, the All Saints Episcopal Church of Pasadena, strongly rejects the claims of the IRS, which were based on a New York Times report on the sermon, arguing, "'It seems ludicrous to suggest that a pastor cannot preach about the value of promoting peace simply because the nation happens to be at war during an election season.'" The IRS has offered to drop the investigation if the church admitted to "intervening in an election," but All Saints declined the offer.
The MachtStat in action . . .
Rox Populi has some of the funniest caption contests around. A great source of information and fun. We at the Stiftung visit Rox Populi every day -- you should, too.
Laura Rozen tracks the continued focus on the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group at OSD as the stovepipe channel to circumvent vettting by the wider IC. (Important! Remember that when you see Stephen Haynes from the Weekly Standard bloviating on TV on intelligence subjects, he was "Useful Idiot" No. 1 for the Feith leaks, etc.).
War and Piece
Steve Clemmons has excerpts from the Nelson Report on the White House's latest thinking on torture, responding to congressional criticism and the denials of the Eastern European American GULAG allegations ( Главное Управление Исправительно— Трудовых Лагерей и колоний. They have not been turned into worker camps, yet. So they are more akin to Butryka Prison, perhaps.
Nelson Report excerpts
David Neiwert asks a question related to the Culture of Empire thread here:
Monday, November 07, 2005
Ask yourself which is the more important principle:
-- the right of American citizens to vote, or
-- preventing those who are ineligible to vote from doing so.
Now, think of this as a kind of Rohrschach test: The answer you give is neither right nor wrong. But it does tell us a great deal -- about your politics, about your priorities, and about what kind of American you are.
As they say, read the whole thing.
As noted below, the transformation of the United States towards a MachtStat post 9-11 is the most dismaying aspect of 2001-2005. While not complete by any means, the process of change is far advanced by late 2005.
At heart is the subtle recognition and acceptance that a citizen is now a Supplicant before the State. Such a role of the citizen is wholly outside the American tradition. Yet the belief is shared or accepted to some degree by elements across almost all the political spectrum and across the three branches of government.
Overstating the case?
Consider. The ethos of the MachtStat finds expression in different forms in different social contexts.
In the domestic sphere, it can appear as the NSLs as discussed in an earlier post. Or the broader reconfiguration of the role of the State, from (a) provider of social services and inclusive protections for all to (b) a referee and Guardian of a social Darwinian climate of competition, entitlement and struggle (all sold under various guises of "freedom" and other self-actualizing bromides).
Or in the foreign policy context, the MachtStat finds expression in celebration of power, of the (Leninist) concept of "Who, Whom?". In some quarters, the self congratulatory (onanistic?) celebration of power is bleated as "Unipolar Eras". Others hide with less strident formulations. Nonetheless, the shared philosophy is one of militarization, of world history and relationships seen through the binary lense of forward or back, win or lose, struggle, war and threat.
Below, the Culture of Empire concept was introduced by noting that fear and "shape of the mushroom cloud" propoganda had done much to subert or undermine traditional memes of civil liberty and suspicion of government encroachment. But that is, of course, only the tip of the iceberg.
To subvert the civil religion of the American experience of individualism and freedom and replace it with obeissance to Macht (in all its guises) is an enterprise far beyond the means of one Administration and its flacks in the media. There are two aspects here: (i) the constituencies supporting this transformation; and (ii) the pedagogic/agitprop means of message distribution.
And one aspect of that broader distribution channel, targeted at the young, is entertainment and specifically videogames.
The issue of "National Security Letters" (NSL) abuse highlights the abdication of congressional oversight of Executive branch national security activities. And it confirms what many suspected, that the Executive branch is uninterested in safeguards to protect American civil liberties from obliteration. Serious stuff.
But the NSLs are a symptom of a far darker and more ominous development.
Recent news accounts as discussed by Firedoglake here set forth the extent of the abuse of NSLs by the FBI and the dereliction of duty by both Congress and the Executive. (See the underlying 2005 decision by Judge Hall striking down the NSLs issued under the Patriot Act in Doe v. Gonzales). The matter is now pending before the Supreme Court.
Far more troubling, however, is the relative acceptance of this state of affairs in many quarters across government and even in American civil society at large. The willingness to accept that (or sullen resignation to) the United States is now a MachtState or SekuritatState is a remarkable testiment to political engineering to change consciousness.
And bodes ill for the Future. As long time visitors to Stiftung Leo Strauss may recall, we have long believed that 43 is himself a transitional figure.
The Director of National Intelligence released "The National Intelligence Strategy of the United States of America" in late October. It purports to establish the strategic objectives for the Intelligence Community. A copy of the 32 page document is at StiftungLeoStrauss Arkhiv here.
According to the transmittal letter from the Office of the erstwhile new National Director of Intelligcen (OenNDI), “This strategy is a statement of our fundamental values, highest priorities and orientation toward the future, but it is an action document as well.” And therein lies the rub.
The OenNDI document is clearly an exhortational exercise ala Ballmer (Windows! Windows!) rather than an intellectually substantive effort to address our acute challenges. In the intelligence context, a conversation of strategy must begin with recognizing that all human contests, and especially intelligence activities, are mental and psychological. They can be won or managed successfully only by those who understand the mind-set of the counter-player (the "Other") while being absolutely certain also of who we are and what we stand for.
This "double-knowing" is a prerequisite for all intelligence activities, from the strategic to the operational to the tactical. And America has been poor at "double-knowing" in many respects since our creation. The failures of 9/11 and in Iraq are only the most recent manifestations.
We have historically relied on technology and resource management to overcome our deficiency at understanding the Other. Turner's moves and the purges at the DO in the late 1970s, and Wolsey's tech fixations are thus not really departures from the norm.
And it is not enough to expand incoming classes, jettison a paralytic reliance on official cover, and begin belated recognition that language skills are critical. How will those redeployed resources be used for double-knowing?
The OenNDI and its document do not even address intelligence strategy in this context. The document really (one will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it was intentional) deploys largely process and organizational concepts. The document would be familiar to George Steiner, a professor of management and one of the founders of The California Management Review. Steiner's work is considered seminal and his book, "Strategic Planning", was hugely influential in business academia such as Wharton, Stanford, etc. Students of Michael Porter's more recent efforts would also recognize the process and organization focus.
As such, the document would sit comfortably on the shelves of an airport bookstore along side other business reform paperback books. (The One Minute Manager's Guide to the Intelligence Community, anyone?)
And this perhaps highlights the genetic flaw at the heart of OenNDI itself. It began life through the prism of process. Although seen as the result of the 911 Commission, the OenNDI is the culmination of reform proposals calling for a NDI since at least the late 1970s. And the root of all these proposals is the belief that organizational change will give the American people the intelligence community that they and policy makers require. (Put aside for the moment whether policy makers will listen to unvarnished and inconvenient intelligence).
RE: Acolytes Shaping The World
AEI PROMOTES CHALABI SCHWERPUNKT
AEI continues to set the Gold Standard for Acolytes deploying the vast array of AgitProp expertise developed by StiftungLeoStrauss. Those seeking to see first hand how fanatical Will and Belief can shape reality will witness our best work often on display at AEI.
Here below, noted Realist and Leader of Reality-Based Thinking, Steve Clemons of The Washington Note, alerts his readers our AEI Rehabilitation Campaign. Mr. Clemons obviously hates Freedom and continues to cling to detritus of the Old Thinking, citing facts and consequences of our asset Chalabi's activities.
Reality, facts and consequences? Or Unshakeable Will and dreams of Freedom Triumphant? This is the Struggle of Our Time. And dear Acolyte, we shall all wage War Eternal without mercy against the Reality-Based Community in the name of Peace.
----- Original Message (edited for space)-----
From: Steve Clemons
Subject: FYI/Alert from The Washington Note -- Outrage about AHMED CHALABI Speaking at AEI 9 November, 2:30 p.m.
Dear Friends & Colleagues:
I am sending this note to alert some of you that AHMED CHALABI is returning to Washington after a 2 ˝ year hiatus to speak at the American Enterprise Institute. Though I believe that non-profit public affairs organizations should host very diverse voices – on all sides of these debates – the return of Chalabi to AEI deserves a critical look.
Chalabi has not been held accountable for his deceit of American government officials and the nation as a whole. In my view, AEI has a right to have him speak – but civil society has an obligation to make his appearance one that holds this person accountable for the false, deceitful, and illegal things he has done.
I will be posting much more on Chalabi these next few days – and I plan to be at the AEI event, constructively participating – and asking questions.
OrganizationKBR will complete these Deep Earth Penetrator improvements during the weekend of 5-6. November.05 while the Realists are distracted.
We will return to the offensive and crush the enemies of Freedom shortly. Apologies for the inconvenience.