Sunday, August 30, 2009

Waller's Political Warfare class and new book

I would love to take Michael Waller's political warfare class. Maybe next year.

There's still time to sign up for my graduate course, Political Warfare: Past, Present and Future. Taught on Thursday nights at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC, the course is the only one of its kind. It's designed for intelligence officers, military officers and diplomats, but (almost) anyone is welcome to sign up. My Foreign Propaganda class is over-subscribed.

Students will study the ancients: Kautilya of India, Sun Tzu of China, Aristotle and Thucydides of Athens, Virgil of Rome, as well as the ancient Hebrews and Persians and even Attila the Hun. Then we go over the political warfare of the Crusades, medieval and Renaissance Europe (especially Niccolo Machiavelli, who likewise studied the ancients), and six hours of intensive lectures on the political warfare of the American Revolution.

American warfighters will benefit from mastery of Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin's political warfare strategies and tactics; we've helped incorporate them into operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Finally, we study more modern political warriors, including the culturally subversive Antonio Gramsci and - this year, for the first time - community organizer Saul Alinsky and his Rules for Radicals.

Here's the webpage for this political warfare class.

Waller also has a new book coming out:

My new compilation of American Revolutionary War propaganda and political warfare is now available. Founding Political Warfare Documents of the United States is a 367-page compendium of some of the best examples of American and British propaganda and political warfare: leaflets, pamphlets, declarations, speeches, letters, essays, articles, official documents, cartoons, and satire.

Authors include Samuel Adams (of course), James Otis, John Hancock, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, the Sons of Liberty, the Continental Congress; and the British Parliament, General Thomas Gage, the dreaded Parliament, and King George III.

Don't be a dumb Ash

I respect Timothy Garton Ash, but this is just pure ignorance, in fact you have to go out of your way to be this ignorant of America:

The integration of immigrants in the United States is easier, because there is no social welfare state there.

Let's see, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, War on Poverty, etc, etc. Yup, "no social welfare state there." Sheesh.

And then there's this:

This is because the middle class in the United States has experienced the brutality and injustice of the unbridled Anglo-Saxon free market economy firsthand -- in the healthcare system, for example.

What on earth is he talking about? First, there is nothing "unbridled" about America's market economy. "Brutality and injustice"? This is pure unbridled propaganda. I expect more from Garton Ash than the mindless regurgitation of slogans that have no basis in fact.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Know your adversary; learn from your adversary

E-book from Project Gutenberg:
The History of the Fabian Society by Edward R. Pease

From google books:
The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance by Rolf Wiggershaus

The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research by Martin Jay

Greenpeace lies about global warming? I'm shocked, shocked...

"That we as a pressure group have to emotionalize issues and we are not ashamed of emotionalizing issues"

Via Big Hollywood

Dropping the "un-American" card

Pelosi/Hoyer: Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.


“Do you personally support revival of the ‘Fairness Doctrine?’” I asked.

“Yes,” the speaker [Pelosi] replied, without hesitation.

Expect to see the Fairness Doctrine or some other effort to constrict the 1st Amendment begin to slither around the halls of Congress in the near future, especially if the "progressives" don't get what they want on health care.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We need to learn from our adversaries

A few years ago I proposed an approach to waging a war of ideas:

In [one strategy] the enemy attempts to use the target country’s media as a vehicle to sap the people’s and political leaders’ will to fight...[or] attack a school or a courthouse in order to show that the government can’t defend itself...In [another strategy] the enemy actually becomes the media and the political leadership...the enemy seeks to become the country's media, university and grade school teachers, writers, artists, etc. They become the purveyors of culture.
things become much more complicated if they actually become the judges, intelligence officers, diplomats, policy makers etc. I don’t really think there is a major role for the state in this kind of intellectual war, but rather think that ideas have to be fought with ideas, and that the people who want to defend their country from this kind of attack need to develop their own...tactics independent of the state.

There is no better exemplar of this kind of strategy than the Frankfurt School (Via ChicagoBoyz):

So how do you defeat this kind of an adversary? What kind of strategy, ideas and organization can be successful in this kind of competition?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bailyn on Booknotes

From Bernard Bailyn on Booknotes with Brian Lamb:

LAMB: I mean it just rang like today when there was a leak of a document coming out. How much of that went on back in those days?

BAILYN: Well, there was a lot and that enters into this Franklin story a great deal. That was, he took with him to Europe when he went in 1776 an early draft of the Articles of Confederation. It was not what was finally accepted and there are significant differences.

But he was so eager to promote the constitutional forms that had been worked out in America that he took it and had it published, as he did many other documents from the states, had it published and translated and it was in that form actually that it reached an English audience through the translation of this draft form that went into French first.

It was typical. I have a good deal of this in the book. It's typical of the kinds of complexities in the dissemination of American documents during that period.

LAMB: You also write about the Constitution circulating around Europe being translated back in those days.


LAMB: How much of that went on and why did it go on?

BAILYN: A great deal. There was a great interest in this and it enters into the thinking of people working through reform movements all over Europe. The book begins with an argument about American provincialism.

The first chapter tries to explain something we don't often think about that at the beginning of the revolution these people were provincials. No one knew of their importance. We think of them now as Mount Rushmore, I mean these vast figures.

They weren't vast figures and their provincialism, their removal from the center of the heart of cultured Western Europe was part of the power that they could develop in thinking through new ideas.

The last chapter, which kind of wraps this up in a way, the last chapter shows the way in which these provincial ideas become cosmopolitan and circulate through so much, not only of England where it would naturally circulate, but France as well into Switzerland, into Latin America and the way these ideas played out in complex ways all throughout the Atlantic world.

And, it seems to me that one of the big stories in this is the way in which these provincial efforts then succeed locally and then radiate out into the whole of the Atlantic world.
BAILYN: Yes. Well, what Madison is saying is that they paid attention to the great names and the great thoughts of the past. The historical documents they were familiar with and the great names like Montesquieu, but as he explains, and that paragraph is exactly to the point, they did not revere them to the point where they dominated their thinking and that they - the fact that they were able to break free from these dominating ideas was one of the keys to their success and Madison was keenly aware of that.

LAMB: What's original about the work that they did?

BAILYN: As I enumerated in there, there are a whole series of basic ideas about public life which were considered at the time to be illogical, for example that you could divide sovereignty. Well, nobody believed you could divide sovereignty but we do between the states and the nation, and no one believed that that was possible at the time and they showed in ways, Madison especially, the way in which this could operate successfully.

Nobody believed that a free republican state could exist on a large scale. It would just fall to pieces because there were no controls over it if people were simply governing themselves. Again, they showed the way in which this was not so, that you could - it could operate successfully over a large expanse. And so, there are a number of these key issues that they're discussing which are original.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Irregular Warfare in the Civil War

The always excellent Civil War Books and Authors blog has a long review of a book on irregular warfare during the Civil War:

Over the past few decades, our understanding of Civil War irregular warfare has been greatly enhanced by a number of excellent local and regional studies published in essay and book length format. However, until now, no scholar has attempted a broad scope examination of the subject on a national scale. The difficulties are legion. Definitions are murky, and individual motivations numerous as the stars and often confined to local conditions not easily explained or understood. At the time, neither side could agree on the legal state of a range of behaviors, and, consequently, the proper disposition of captured persons variously labeled as, among other terms, recruiting officers, raiders, bushwhackers, partisan rangers, jayhawkers, and guerrillas. At various times, both sides (with misgivings) actively promoted their use while at the same time seeking to deny the enemy the same privilege. One of the best known scholars attempting to make sense of this complex and messy subject is University of Arkansas professor Daniel E. Sutherland. His new book, A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War is the first modern study that examines irregular warfare spanning the continent, and how it shaped the character and conduct of the Civil War, the unintended consequences of which hastened Confederate defeat.

Another book added to the ever growing wish list.

Read the whole thing.

Reason TV: On the Rise of the Microbrew Movement

Beer: An American Revolution

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Big State, Small State

There is an opinion essay in the Washington Post on the topic of states with small populations and equal representation in the Senate. California has the largest population at 36.7 million people and Wyoming the smallest at 532,668 and yet they both have 2 senators. This is a legitimate issue that comes up now and again, and at some point will have to be addressed. But it's coming up now because apparently senators from small states are proving to be obstacles to Obama's agenda. No solutions are provided of course, but the underlying point is that small states should not have the power they do as a result of the current representational scheme. I agree, but I have three propositions to offer:

First, big states should be broken up into smaller states. People always point out the disproportionate representation of the small states in the Senate without ever acknowledging that the big states are too big. California should be broken up into three states, Texas maybe four, New York two, Florida two and so on. If some states can be too small, other states can be too big. If we are going to start rearranging representation in the Senate then lets go all the way. If we want equality in representation then we have to push the outliers towards the middle, whether small or big.

The piece also drops in a little something that I don't think the author really thought through:

And then there's the Senate's age-old distortion of distributive politics, in which goodies are doled out on anything but a per-capita basis. California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey are among the 10 states that get the least back per tax dollar sent to Washington; Alaska, the Dakotas and West Virginia are among those that get the most.

Let's apply that to individuals and private organizations: those who pay more in taxes should get more representation and influence. If it's right for states it's right for everybody, right? This means that rich people and corporations (the evil duo) should have more representation than middle class and poor citizens. Do you really want to go there?

The other thing that is missing here is competence. Yes, California with 36.7 million people is the most populous state, but so what? California is a disaster. Californians have completely misgoverned their state. Why on earth should we give them MORE influence at the federal level? Maybe representation should be based on demonstrated competence at governing regardless of population. That would at least give states an incentive to govern well. Their disastrous incompetence at governing should result in less influence not more.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Coin Toss

One of the biggest mistakes people make is not understanding the nature of the game they are playing; thinking they are playing by one set of rules when in fact real game is being played by an entirely different set of rules.

Leftists very commonly assert that that non-leftists have to offer a fully fleshed-out alternative to the status quo before they can offer criticisms of the current faddish idea of the Left. When you try to explain to them that the validity of an idea has nothing to do with the validity of any competing ideas, they stare at you blankly.

This is correct and I agree with it, but it is beside the point. The Left is not playing by the rules of logic. They are not engaged in an academic debate over ideas, they are engaged in political competition, a competition for power and influence and they are willing to use whatever means of persuasion will work regardless of whether they are logically valid. It doesn't matter whether you like this or not, you have to adapt to your adversary's tactics and strategies. You can't defeat the Left with logic, you can only defeat the Left with perpetual activism and organization and by using whatever rhetorical tactics will work. If you don't have the will to do that, then get used to losing.

Yes it is true that you can examine the validity of a statement, assertion, argument etc without being obligated to offer an alternative. But again this isn't a classroom, this is political competition and policymaking and so yes it is necessary to have an alternative when you criticize a policy. Policymakers want solutions to problems. If you want to successfully compete then you will develop policy options along with your criticism.

This reminds me of one of my favorite Bill Cosby bits: