Sunday, August 31, 2008

Studies in Intelligence articles

Came across some interesting articles from the CIA's Studies in Intelligence. Here are a couple for those interested in persuasion operations:

The Information War in the Pacific, 1945

On the radio and leaflet operations by the Office of War Information from Saipan.

Origins of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1949-50

On the CIA's effort to support the non-Communist left in the ideological war against the Soviets.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


The great task of our time is to contribute to the transition from the industrial age to what comes next. The following article addresses this task in the intelligence community and draws on lessons from other institutions from baseball to the entertainment industry. This transition is taking place across all the institutions in our society from business to the military to political movements to education to government in general. It offers great opportunities for imaginative thinking and moving beyond the inherited conventional wisdom. Let's take advantage of those opportunities.

Thinking About Rethinking: Examples of Reform in Other Professions by William Nolte

Third, keep in mind that metaphors can be useful and important; they are rarely real. That is to say, most metaphors represent only a fragmentary view of a larger reality. The Intelligence Community is one example of a metaphor gone rigid. So is the intelligence production cycle, a monument to 19th and 20th century industrial concepts, focused on a sequential production line from needs to output and back again.

Does anyone think information works this way in the 21st century? Why shouldn’t collectors deal directly with end users? Do I really submit my information needs to Google, then let someone process, manipulate them, and assign them to someone for delivery? The dominant metaphor for the early 21st century information environment is either neural or cellular, and any structure attempting to react to that environment through sequential, industrial processes is doomed. Even more dangerous, it is protected from the fate of Pan American, TWA, Montgomery Wards, and other failed former industry leaders, only by the guarantee of an annual congressional appropriation. And it will survive institutionally, but it will not achieve success as an instrument of public policy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Something to read

A few articles/papers for your reading pleasure:

Ending Tyranny: The past and future of an idea by John Lewis Gaddis in the American Interest.

I've only had the chance skim the first pages of the following two but they look like they are worth reading and thinking about especially since they offer different perspectives on internationalism and national security strategy:

Conservative Internationalism: Jefferson to Polk to Truman to Reagan by Henry Nau in the Hoover Institution's Policy Review.

Progressive Internationalism: A Democratic National Security Strategy from the Progressive Policy Institute.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The next right or the last right?

I had hoped that The Next Right would become a place for the discussion of new ideas about the future, but it has unfortunately gotten sucked into the day to day handicapping of the presidential race. We need to be thinking creatively about where we want politics to go over the next few decades, developing a long term vision that is built on 21st century realities. This ain't it:

...fiscal conservative maximalism tethered to social conservative maximalism -- a brand of politics Jindal represents -- is still the best way to reignite the Reagan coalition and get the activist core inspired again. This level of grassroots participation is an essential waypoint on the path back to real power.

This is more last right than next right. This is a good example of the exhaustion of the conservative movement. American society is changing and so politics must change with it. The Reagan coalition was a product of its time organized around a politician who was an anomaly. Reagan was a unique politician who was able to appeal to many people across party lines. That coalition cannot be replicated in our time. There is a disjointedness between the prevailing political ideologies of both parties and the times in which we live. We can't move into the future by trying to relive the successes of some prior era whether the New Deal or the Reagan coalition.

This level of grassroots participation is an essential waypoint on the path back to real power.

"Real power" for what purposes? The problem for Republicans is that they controlled the White House and Congress for years and yet completely abandoned any larger vision to guide the exercise of power. Since the loss of Congress in 06 there has been no soul searching, no reflection, no reorganization, no reform, no indication that the party establishment has in any way learned anything from its experience with power and from its loss of power. In 94 the Congressional Republicans were enlivened with ideas, motivation, energy, and a vision of what they wanted to accomplish. They were also an unknown force, we did not know how they would govern and so they were fresh and offered the possibility of something new. Today though it is a different story. We know exactly how Republicans will run Congress. There is nothing new, fresh, or unknown about the Republican establishment. There is no larger vision to guide the Republican use of power. Political parties need to be more than just political machinery for the acquisition of power for power's sake. Political parties need a grand strategy to guide their activities in the same way that we need a grand strategy to guide our national security policy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lind on "Immigrant Intellectuals and American Grand Strategy"

While browsing around looking for grand strategy related articles I came across this piece by Michael Lind from 2003 and thought it was interesting although I'm not sure that I agree with it. Lind is one of those writers that I enjoy reading even though in the end I find myself disagreeing with him:

From the Napoleonic Era until World War I, the United States had its own distinctive mainstream foreign policy tradition. Call it the “American School” of foreign policy.
This American School reflected the values of the United States as the world’s first large-scale democratic republic — and its global interests as a civilian, commercial power.
From Alexander Hamilton and Henry Clay to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Americans hoped for the replacement of a world based on a few empires by a world of many nation-states with republican governments. The underlying idea was that all nations would cooperate voluntarily with one another to promote the international rule of law.
In the aftermath of World War II, however, a new school of foreign policy took root in the United States. It was a transplant from 19th century Europe.
Its founders were émigré intellectuals like Nicholas Spykman, Hans Morgenthau and Henry Kissinger (in his early days as a professor), all of whom had fled Europe in the 1930s.
These Central European academics contemptuously swept aside the old field of “diplomatic history,” which had kept the memory of the historic U.S. foreign policy tradition alive.
Diplomatic history was replaced by the new field of “international relations” — which itself represented an updated version of 19th-century continental European Realpolitik.
As a result, several generations of U.S. students of international relations — I was one — were taught to admire the strategic wisdom of Central European autocrats.
It was only natural that, as policymakers, these Central European realists like Kissinger and Brzezinski would interpret the world through the lenses of Bismarckian and Metternichian Realpolitik.
Because 19th-century Europe had been multipolar, Henry Kissinger identified the world of the 1970s as multipolar. Like others in the Central European tradition, he dismissed concepts rooted in competing international law and morality as sentimental.
In the 1990s, though, a new intellectual diaspora replaced the previously prominent Central European realist school in interpreting — and guiding — U.S. foreign policy.
While many native-born Americans support this approach, many of the most ardent proponents of a new American “empire” first in the Middle East — and then the world — are émigrés from the former British Commonwealth and Empire.
They include present and former Canadians (such as the journalists Charles Krauthammer and Michael Ignatieff), and Britons such as Paul Johnson — and the editors of The Economist, a magazine which is based in London — but is focused on its large U.S. audience.
There are important differences between this generation of immigrants and their predecessors. After all, the institutional base of the Central European realists was the university: Messrs. Morgenthau, Kissinger and Brzezinski were all professors. The institutional base of the new British Commonwealth Imperialists is the media.
The goal of the new British Commonwealth Imperialists is to showcase pundits praising the old British empire — and call on the United States to emulate the Pax Britannica in the Middle East and the world.
True, not all of the neo-British imperialists in the United States are from British Dominions or former colonies. But they are all Anglophiles who see Imperial Britain in the 1900s as the model for Imperial America in the 2000s.
Evidently, both groups of immigrants also have their heroes — but quite different ones. The heroes of the Central European diaspora intellectuals shaping U.S. foreign policy in recent decades were stern, but rational autocrats like Metternich and Bismarck. Metternich, in fact, is the hero of Kissinger’s historical treatise about 19th-century Europe, The World Restored.
The hero of the contemporary wave of neo-British U.S. imperialists is Winston Churchill. Mind you, not the old Churchill who resisted Hitler. But rather, the young Churchill who wrote ecstatically about people machine-gunning Africans in service of the British empire.
In my view, the Central Europeans’ attempt to apply the rules of the 19th-century central European balance of power to U.S. foreign policy in the 1970s and 1980s was a failure.
Yes, the United States won the Cold War. But that happened in spite of the theories of Kissinger and Brzezinski — not because of them.
And today’s anachronistic revival of British imperial statecraft by U.S. immigrants from Britain and the British dominions and colonies, along with their American-born allies, will prove to be an even more embarrassing flop.
We live in an age in which American principles — democratic government, national self-determination and industrial capitalism — are eagerly adopted, even by people who dislike American policies. Given that trend, it is folly for the United States to ignore its own successful 200-year foreign policy tradition — and to model its strategy on that of the Habsburg Empire or Imperial Britain.
Instead of sneering at notions like human rights and national self-determination as naïve folly, as both realists of the Central European School and British-style neo-imperialists do, America’s leaders ought to return to the fusion of liberal ideals and realist statecraft that helped to replace a world of empires with a world of nations.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Conscious capitalism, creative capitalism and antipreneurship

For the past several years my views were heavily influenced by libertarian ideas, but over time I have come to find them unsatisfying. My core beliefs are definitely a "version of liberalism" just not necessarily of the libertarian variety. Here are a couple essays and an article that I think offer a lot to think about with regard to reframing how we think about the market economy:

Conscious Capitalism: Creating a New Paradigm for Business by John Mackey.

Making Capitalism More Creative by Bill Gates.

Meet the Antipreneurs from BusinessWeek.

"The new domain for conflict"

I came across two articles this morning that are very revealing. First:

The Air Force is about to suspend its controversial effort to reorganize its forces to "dominate" cyberspace. The provisional, 8,000-man Cyber Command has been ordered to stop all activities, just weeks before it was supposed to be declared operational.
“Transfers of manpower and resources, including activation and reassignment of units, shall be halted,” according to an internal e-mail obtained by Nextgov's Bob Brewin -- and confirmed by Air Force sources. Instead, the Air Force's new leadership -- including incoming Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz -- will be given time to rethink how big the command will be, and what exactly it will do.
But even if everything all was calm at the Air Force, Cyber Command's path was far from clear. At a June conference , the command's emerging leaders couldn't agree on what exactly the new unit would do. Some said the command's mission would be the  "protection and defense of the Air Force's command and control abilities." Others argued that the "mission is to control cyberspace both for attacks and defense." (The service even changed its mission statement to read, "As Airmen, it is our calling to dominate Air, Space, and Cyberspace.") Some believed the Cyber Command would only be responsible for computer networks. Others thought it'd be responsbile for every system that had anything to do with the electromagnetic spectrum -- up to and including laser weapons. 

So as the Air Force is trying to figure out what it is doing in cyberspace, the Russians are already organized and operational:

This new style of cyberwarfare — in which ordinary citizens instantly enlist their PCs to help bedevil the enemy — has caused little damage of substance, security experts say. But it affirms the untapped potential for using the Internet to cause mass confusion for political gain.

"This type of attack will form at least a part of all geopolitical conflicts from now on," predicts Steve Santorelli, director of investigations at research firm Team Cymru.

Several hours after Russia and Georgia began skirmishing over the disputed territory of South Ossetia on Aug. 8, a call to arms got posted on several pro-Russia online forums. Visitors were directed to a posting on the website, which listed Georgia government sites, including that of President Mikhail Saakashvili, as targets. Also posted: a software tool that emits a stream of nuisance requests from the user's PC to the targeted websites.
By clicking on the tool, "you volunteered to weaponize your PC and participate in a denial-of-service attack" on Georgia's Web pages, says Artem Dinaburg, a researcher at security firm Damballa. During such an attack, normal visitors to a Web page are denied access as it gets overwhelmed by nuisance requests.

Thousands of pro-Russia activists have been clicking on the tool ever since, attacking a list of pro-Georgia websites that's freshened each day, Dinaburg says. The attacks run sporadically for a few hours — as long as enough activists dedicate their PCs to the assault.

The problem isn't that governments can't be creative and competent at running various cyberspace operations, the Russians are proving that they can. The Russians are also proving that government activity and decentralized citizen activity can work together to accomplish common goals. The problem is that the various agencies and departments in the US government and both political parties are operating on outdated conceptions of the role of government. And that the vintage 20th century institutions are not capable of dealing with 21st century realities. It's possible that the Air Force's problems are theirs alone and the Army, Navy, CIA and other agencies are running competent cyberspace operations. But it is also possible that the Air Force is simply having its issues aired out in public whereas the other agencies are fumbling about outside of public scrutiny. There is a pattern here that we have also seen before in the area of strategic communication: while the Taliban, al Qaeda and others use all the new-fangled technology to wage a sophisticated propaganda campaign, we spend years holding panel discussions and publishing journal articles talking about using new-fangled technology to wage propaganda campaigns but never actually doing it. Likewise while the Air Force puts the Cyber Command on hold while it studies what to do, the Russians and Chinese are already out there doing it.

MORE from the Belmont Club:
"new modes of information combat"

China, Russia and Islamic radicalism were free to invent new modes of information combat. Both the "NET Force" and the cyber-Jihad come at a time when the American concept of public diplomacy still focused on scheduling interviews on talk shows. The true beneficiaries of revolutionary technology may be those who were free of the weight of the old.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Scenario planning links

Over the weekend I was listening to podcasts of Tom Barnett on the Hugh Hewitt show from last year and Barnett made an offhand reference to Royal Dutch Shell scenario planning activites. I had never heard of scenario planning, so I did some googling and found a lot of interesting things to read:

On Pierre Wack and the development of scenario planning:

Scenario planning — the use of alternative stories about the future, many with improbable and dramatic twists, to develop strategy — is one of the few management innovations to have actually been created in a corporate setting, amid the real-life battle for profits. Pierre Wack, who died in 1997, was the leader of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies’ elite London-based scenario team. With his colleagues and successors at Shell’s Group Planning department, he designed and refined this important business tool, in effect serving as the chief analyst of Shell’s version of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Scenario planning alerted Shell’s managing directors (its committee of CEO equivalents) in advance about some of the most confounding events of their times: the 1973 energy crisis, the more severe price shock of 1979, the collapse of the oil market in 1986, the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of Muslim radicalism, and the increasing pressure on companies to address environmental and social problems.

Shell's Scenarios: An Explorer's Guide (PDF).

There Is No Alternative

Scenario planning steps:

First, specify the major issue or decision you are facing, for instance, siting of a new plant, entering into a global alliance, developing the company's grand strategy, or revamping product distribution channels.

Second, isolate the key drivers - those external forces affecting your company and industry.  Drivers fall into two categories.  Predetermined elements are relatively stable or predictable, e.g. demographics of the population.  Critical uncertainties are unstable or unpredictable, e.g. consumer tastes, government regulations, natural disasters, or new technologies or products (especially in the hands of competitors).

Third, select the two most important drivers.  Do not complicate scenarios by selecting too many drivers.  Restrict yourself to formulating three or four scenarios with sharply contrasting futures: (1) the baseline, business as usual, world as it is, surprise-free scenario; (2) the scenario which driver A alone dominates; (3) the scenario which driver B alone dominates; and (4) perhaps one with both drivers present.

Fourth, write a short internally consistent story of the future which highlights the key driver or drivers for each scenario.

Fifth, give each scenario a pithy name, e.g. High Road, Boom or Bust, Fortress Asia, or Lift Off.  Names help participants keep the scenarios separate, provide common language for discussion, and give the scenarios some permanence within the company outside of the formal process.

Sixth, within each scenario determine the implications for the issue or decision specified at the outset.  Be precise.

Seventh, with these implications in mind, discuss what your decision or business response should be. Remember that nothing you do is ever done in a vacuum.  How might the government react under each scenario?  Your clients or customers?  Your competitors?

Eighth, select indicators which suggest that a particular scenario is unfolding.  Since there is a bias towards eventual action, choose those indicators which will precipitate action when a particular threshold is reached.  Track and discuss these indicators regularly and update your scenarios accordingly.

Finally, usually at some future date, make those decisions in a timely manner that are appropriate for the particular future that does unfold.  Future reality, of course, is unlikely to be exactly in accord with any of your scenarios, but the flexible mindset developed during scenario planning enables you to react nimbly to events that do occur.  You don't choose amongst the scenarios.  Rather, you use them all to help form hypotheses about the world and to recognize which ones are operative at any given time.

On the Solarium Project

In several recent posts I've linked to papers from CNAS's American Grand Strategy Solarium. (Which is no longer available online)

Here's an article about Michèle A. Flournoy, CNAS and the Solarium Project that gives some background:

The enormity of these challenges led Flournoy to reflect on the importance of Eisenhower’s approach in assessing the country’s security policies and crafting a grand strategy.

She pointed out that shortly after assuming the presidency in 1953, Eisenhower created a competitive strategy development process called the Solarium Project that questioned the fundamental assumptions of U.S. foreign policy toward the Soviet Union. Eisenhower set up several teams to present alternative viewpoints to senior members of the administration in the White House solarium on the nature of the Soviet threat, that nation’s capabilities and intentions, and America’s options regarding its archrival. Eisenhower then used this process to refine his foreign policy goals and establish a strategic agenda for his presidency.

Flournoy said the next president should consider setting up a similar process to review fundamental U.S. interests, capabilities and resources. So her center created its own Solarium Project in 2007 to demonstrate how such a process could work and to generate alternative grand strategies for the next president. “We hope this project plays a small role in helping shape and elevate the debate on America’s place and purpose in the world,” Flournoy said.

At the same time, she admitted that seeing the forest through the trees and developing a grand global strategy isn’t exactly second nature to most presidents, who tend to be more reactive and tactical than proactive and strategic.

“Very few American presidents have led strategic discussions at that level. It’s not necessarily a part of our political culture to have significant discussions of grand strategy,” Flournoy said. “The real value of strategy developing is the norming and informing of a group of people around a common vision and a set of objectives. We face so many hard foreign policy challenges that it’s hard to know where to start. You can’t deal with everything with equal emphasis. That’s where a grand strategy comes in.”Flournoy wants her center to play a positive role in setting that strategy and creating a sense of national renewal.

“Success for us is reframing the debate and having an impact on policy. It is causing change in a direction that advances U.S. interests,” she said. “We are very happy to get no credit if our work actually has impact. We like seeing policymakers steal our ideas. We like columnists to write paraphrases of our words. We like congressmen to introduce legislation based on our work — even if the center is never mentioned. The name of the game is influencing those who are in a position to make changes.”

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The National Security Strategies of the EU, UK, and Canada

As Americans we tend to focus our attention on our own country's national security strategy but it is good also look into how some of our allies are thinking about national security:

The European Union's European Security Strategy

The National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom

Securing an Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy

I'm trying to track down Australia's national security strategy but can't seem to locate it. If anyone has a link drop it in the comments.

"If you lose the culture, you lose the world"

Andrew Klavan gets it. Although I would replace "conservative" with something more general and inclusive because there are a lot of people like myself who are pro-liberty, pro-victory, and pro-American who are not conservatives. What Klavan is saying here holds true for all of us:

According to [Andrew] Klavan, the way to fix this imbalance is to do what conservatives have always done — invest in an infrastructure promoting their views from outside the mainstream. “[Conservatives] understand getting people in Congress and taking the White House and all this stuff. But if you lose the culture, you lose the world. We have lost the culture and, for 40 years, this one ideology has been pumping this poison into the American mind,” he says. “What we need is the same kind of think-tank structure that took back some of the nonfiction areas. We need the same kinds of things in the fiction areas, in the arts.”

Further, now is the time for conservatives to strike, Klavan says. Technology and the Internet have made breaking Hollywood’s grip on producing and distributing films a real possibility. “There is a revolution going on in Hollywood and it’s a revolution of the means of distribution. It is getting to a point where you can go to Radio Shack and buy a camera and shoot a film and put it online and have it downloaded onto a 70-inch TV, where conventional movie theaters are going to become less and less important. You’re going to be able to start to tell really good stories and make really good movies that don’t require the structure that’s in place right now.”

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Marvin Gaye's Star-Spangled Banner

It doesn't get any better than this:

Grand Strategy: A Canadian Perspective

After reading the various papers on grand strategy that I have linked to recently I wanted to get a different perspective and started googling around and came across three lectures by David Pratt on the theme "Is there a grand strategy in Canadian foreign policy?" The lectures are excellent reading:

"In order to provide some structure to these three lectures, I have divided them up
into three segments; three nights, three segments – so far so good. Tonight’s portion
deals generally with the subject of strategy and grand strategy. I will seek to provide
some definitions, some background and some historical examples of strategy and grand
strategy from antiquity to modern times. Tomorrow evening, I propose to address some
of the theoretical and historical aspects of Canadian grand strategy and will focus in on
one particular period which I believe is rather pivotal. In the third and final lecture, I will
offer up some thoughts on whether Canada currently has a grand strategy and the
nature of the strategic environment we might expect in the years ahead."

Lecture 1: Strategy and Grand Strategy

Lecture 2: Historical and Theoretical Considerations

Lecture 3: Canadian Grand Strategy--Is there One?