Monday, June 06, 2005
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Air Combat Command (ACC), the primary provider of combat airpower, is cutting 32,000 flying hours to help compensate for its $825 million operations and maintenance shortfall.This strikes me as odd, given that Rumsfeld and Co. seem to think that airpower can almost single handedly win wars. I don't really understand how budget appropriations works within the services, but could it be that the Air Force is trying to poke the secretary in the eye, so to speak, for cutting their overall budget by making cuts to something important (both to Rummy and to the AF)? Or could it be that the pork projects are too well protected by corporate friendly insiders? It really makes absolutely no sense to me- anyone else have any insights?
The cuts come as Air Force aircrews are heavily worked, flying missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and over some U.S. cities in an attempt to prevent another terrorist attack.
"Starting early this summer, units may have aviators unable to get required training to maintain full combat-ready status," Col. Jim Dunn, deputy director of flight operations for ACC, said in a written statement. "Overall effectiveness will become a growing challenge."
With this cut, the command now has 21,000 flying hours left of the original 53,000-plus hours programmed for the rest of this fiscal year -- a 60 percent reduction...
Retired Gen. Hal Hornburg, former ACC commander, said the cuts are "a big deal" and show the military's grim financial situation.
"They're not cutting fat, they're cutting to the bone," Hornburg said, noting the Pentagon has taken large sums of money away from the Air Force to pay for the Army in Iraq.
Reducing flying hours will free up about $272 million, not quite a third of the command's shortfall, said Col. Dave Goossens, ACC comptroller.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Just more evidence that those who supported the Iraq fiasco really need to STFU, stop lecturing the rest of us about foreign policy, sit in a corner, and think about what they did.
My perception is that the so-called left-wing bias of American universities is prevalent, but I don't really know that to be definitively true since my contact with the academic world has been relatively limited (college, graduate school, and presenting papers at about a dozen academic conferences hardly qualifies me as an expert on America's campuses). That said, I find it interesting that the right-wingers want to penetrate this liberal stronghold with conservative ideas, in much the same way as the progressives are trying to build a bridge between the left-wing and the conservative bastion known as the US military (for example, the Civic Soldier Forum, a contact-to-contact exchange advanced by both J. at Armchair Generalist and Alex at Draft Zinni).He also notes a couple of problems with the conservative attempts, namely that there simply aren't that many conservative thinkers in many areas. After all- how many conservative Cultural Studies professors are you really going to find out there?
But let me just say, I think that this is a really terrible comparison and the idea of conservative "balance" on campus is in my eyes truly absurd. For starters many departments have absolutely nothing to do with politics: what exactly would constitute a conservative scientist, mathematician, designer, or architect? Certainly there are differing schools of thought within many of these areas, and schools should be aiming to achieve a balance of thought in any area of study they offer, but these divisions will have little to nothing to do with politics.
I would also point out that many of the more powerful departments on campuses nationwide are actually conservative. If Horowitz is going to push for balance in Cultural Studies (an area of study which I care little for to begin with), fine, but liberals should then push back hard in the areas where conservatives dominate. How about we force every economics and business teacher to give equal time to Marx and Keynes as they do to the conservative thoughts of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School? How about we force the corporate focused law departments to give equal time to public interest law? I will say that Political Science departments are definitely in need of some diversification, and I personally would welcome it, but not using Horowitz's tactics.
But more importantly, there is a real problem in equating the neo-Fascist Horowitz movement to anything like the Civic Soldier Forum. Sure both have the same end goal, to get better representation in an organization which they are underrepresented within, but so what? A bank robber has the same goal as an entrepreneur-- to make money-- but would you really compare the two? The Horowitz crowd wants to use intimidation and other tactics which are inherently uncivil to force teachers to adopt conservative positions (or to silence themselves about their own positions), regardless of what the evidence might be to support their views. The Civic Soldier Forum, on the other hand, lists these as its goals:
- Find progressive service members and bring them together
- Introduce those service members to like-minded organizations
- Help progressives out of uniform connect with military progressives
- Frame progressive issues in context relevant to the military
There's also this little problem with many right-wing thinkers, at least along the lines of Horowitz, Coulter, Hannity, Assrocket and the like- their aversion to facts and difference of opinion. I can just imagine Horowitz teaching a class on Israel and telling every student who even brought up the plight of the Palestinians that they were anti-Semitic scumbags. Not that there aren't a-holes on the left, who also like to ignore facts and spout garbage, there are, it's just that the university setting generally forces them to adopt more rigorous and moderate stands within the classroom (well, unless they've published a popular book).
The last thing that I would say is this- the military might not currently have a lot of people who identify with the Democratic Party, but I would guess that there are quite a few who agree fully with many, if not most, of the issues which Democrats stand for. Do you think that a lot of soldiers would stand with the credit card companies and not with consumers? Do soldiers think that health care should only be a privilege enjoyed by a few? Do they think that it's fair that government taxes the hell out of the little guy while corporations and the wealthy get tax breaks? Do they think that it's a a-o-k to ship our jobs overseas and allow businesses to pay illegal immigrants a fraction of what American citizens make? Do they think that the racial discrimination is ok? My guess is that, as with society on the whole, uniformed men and women would side with the Democrats on most issues, but rather that they vote on issues of character.
The job then of groups like the Civil Soldier Forum is to educate service members on issues, and teach them why voting on character is just plain stupid. Why is it stupid? As Machiavelli noted (emphasis added):
For this reason a prince ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the above-named five qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious. There is nothing more necessary to appear to have than this last quality, inasmuch as men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them; and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result.
For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on.
The Arab world's spiritual and media leaders have their hands tied right now. Friedman better hope Islamic spiritual leaders don't get involved in this mess because the first thing they'd have to do is remind the Islamic world that according to the Quran, the Islamic world may not be under the guardianship or command of non-Muslims- and that wouldn't reflect nicely on an American occupation of Iraq.It never fails to amaze me how little empathy Western thinkers are able to muster when dealing with the Muslim/Arab world...
Friedman wonders why thousands upon thousands protested against the desecration of the Quran and why they do not demonstrate against terrorism in Iraq. The civilian bombings in Iraq are being done by certain extremists, fanatics or militias. What happened in Guantanamo with the Quran and what happens in places like Abu Ghraib is being done systematically by an army- an army that is fighting a war- a war being funded by the American people. That is what makes it outrageous to the Muslim world.
In other words, what happens in Iraq is terrorism, while what happens to Iraqis and Afghanis and people of other nationalities under American or British custody is simply "counter-insurgency" and "policy". It makes me naseous to think of how outraged the whole world was when those American POW were shown on Iraqi television at the beginning of the war- clean, safe and respectfully spoken to. Even we were upset with the incident and wondered why they had to be paraded in front of the world like that. We actually had the decency to feel sorry for them.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
RE:Transformation And Networked Organizations
Having said that, more troops on the ground is not necessarily a panacea. Ambassador Khalilzad and LTG Barno demonstrated that with a force *one-ninth* that of OIF, in a country the *same* size and population as Iraq, they could nonetheless accomplish strategic effects that Paul Bremer and LTG Sanchez would have only dreamed about.
I'm totally in agreement here- I'm not trying to say that increasing the numbers of boots on the ground is a panacea, rather I'm trying to say that networked organizations do not necessarily decrease the amount of people you need on the ground. I also agree with you that a successful strategy (I would also add- a technological advantage) is still more important than troop #s- Barbarossa was one great example of this fact. However, I completely disagree that this wasn't one of the major strategic blunders of OIF. We absolutely needed many more civilian authorities and police in the immediate aftermath of the invasion (though maybe if we hadn't disbanded the Iraqi army and "debaathified" the Iraqi civilian authorities this may have been less severe).
And while I am a huge fan of Zinni’s, I don’t worship him like a god. Every person makes mistake- a great leader is someone who admits his mistakes and tries to prevent them from occurring again. Can you provide a link as to where you feel Zinni was wrong on OIF? He stated over and over again that the Iraqi armed forces were a joke, which could be easily smashed by our forces, which was one big reason why he stated that Iraq posed no “imminent threat” (not even a mildly upsetting threat) to the US. Zinni’s criticisms, at least as I’ve read, all had to do with things
For example, here’s Zinni’s testimony to Congress before the war on what he thought the problems would be if we invaded. I can't find anywhere where he questions the ability of U.S. forces to quickly crush the Iraqi forces:
And what I felt the first question I would ask if we went in, which was sort of addressed by Marc Grossman: what is it you envision as an end state? Is it a transitioned Iraq, a magnificent democracy? Or is it something less than that? I mean, is it truly this transformed Iraq that we've heard about or are we just going to get rid of Saddam Hussein and hope for the best with some decent law and order, territorial integrity basically put in place, maybe a federation of states that operates on their own? What is it that you want? If you don't have the vision going in, then the military and all the other agencies of government and the international agencies don't know where to go.And…
I saw the problem in four areas. The first area was security, and I would just give you an example of the kinds of things -- this is certainly not all inclusive -- that I saw we had to do on the ground. We had to under the security dimension maintain law and order, provide for a force protection, be prepared to do peacekeeping missions, protect threatened groups, deal with civil unrest and acts of retribution, counter external threats and develop local security capabilities, and that's just a few. I mean, this list could go on and on.
The second part was the political part, and that would require such things as establishing an interim or transitional government, laying the foundation for a final form of governance, ensuring coordination of all these activities, the political element will have to be the lead. Developing the principles and procedures for establishing civil functions, dealing with procedures for accountability and coordinating the regional and international involvement that we might have.
The third area was the economic area and here I felt this would involve dealing with issues such as energy production, employment restructuring. Just by the way, about 40 percent of the paychecks come from the government in this country and if the government goes down and sneakers up, where are the paychecks coming from? In addition to that, we saw that regional economic impacts would have to be taken into account. This isn't only going to affect Iraq, it's going to affect Jordan, it's going to affect Kuwait, it's going to affect countries around the country and in the region economically too.
We have to deal with the status of foreign debt and war reparations. Everybody is talking about pumping oil and we'll do this to reconstruct the country. What about the foreign debt and the war reparations that are still owed? There are others out there that have claims to the money and the production. Who will sort that out? We have to restructure the economic base. I think that's been addressed by the previous panel about how it is not the kind of economic base that will allow for a country that's solid in any way economically for the future. And we're going to have to solicit and manage donor contributions.
The fourth area I titled recovery and reconstruction, and this begins with the immediate and long term humanitarian needs. And, again, that's been described here and you can imagine what this could be based on what kind of catastrophe the war causes and Saddam generates. We're going to have to be involved in infrastructure repair and replacement, consequence management, WMD accountability and the reestablishment of services throughout the country.
Number one task is keeping order in this country. The tribal retributions, the revenge killings, the opposition groups and others that will be jockeying for position, opposition groups that will scream across the border. All sorts of things can disrupt this. There are things in this country that we're going to have to deal with that no one has really talked about. There's a major Iranian opposition group in here, the MEK. What do you want me to do with that if I'm the commander in chief? Do I lock them up? Do I send them back across the border to be slaughtered? Exactly what happens to them? And there are millions of little issues like this that aren't talked about, that are going to be major problems when you're on the ground and whoever goes in is going to have to have the guidance.I’m curious where in this testimony you see mistakes, because all of this seems to have been proved correct...
My eighth point is that images in this region are everything. Particularly in the early stages of the mission we're going to need intelligent and active information operations that will make or break the mission from the very beginning. What appears on Al Jazeera TV and everything else in the region is going to determine success, maybe even more so than the actions on the ground. And all the explanations afterwards won't counter those first images.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Transformation And Networked Organizations
Today, Alexander the Average posted a blog entry commenting on a CAP report on needed transformations of the intelligence agencies. The main thrust of both the report and Alexander's comments, is the need for more investment in "human capital," something which I have been thinking a lot about over the past year as I look around for the investment in human capital that I expect to be made within progressive politics.
Over the past few days I've been trying to formulate a section of my masters thesis which will talk about the rise of the networked form of organization and what it means for politics. The main theme of the piece will be that while the internet has made communications cheaper, faster, and less centralized, the real power of the internet is in its abilities to bring people together offline- turning individuals into nodes on a broader political network. More broadly speaking, the internet has changed the most fundamental ideas of what mass-media is, especially the ideas of messenger, deliverer and receiver. Whereas older communications campaigns might emphasize the ability to convince a person who views a media message to change their behaviors and/or attitudes, internet enabled communications campaigns should strive for convincing people to convince other people for the campaign. To put it another way- the internet enables groups to "evangelize" for their issues/campaigns, turning individuals into the deliverers of messages.
But, since none of the above paragraph is very clear, let me just post this quote--pulled from Cyberwar is Coming! (PDF), which points to what I'm trying to get at:
The consequences of new technology can be usefully thought of as first-level, or efficiency, effects and second-level, or social system, effects. The history of previous technologies demonstrates that early in the life of a new technology, people are likely to emphasize the efficiency effects and underestimate or overlook potential social system effects. Advances in networking technologies now make it possible to think of people, as well as databases and processors, as resources on a network.
Many organizations today are installing electronic networks for first-level efficiency reasons. Executives now beginning to deploy electronic mail and other network applications can realize efficiency gains such as reduced elapsed time for transactions. If we look beyond efficiency at behavioral and organizational changes, we’ll see where the second-level leverage is likely to be. These technologies can change how people spend their time and what and who they know and care about. The full range of payoffs, and the dilemmas, will come from how the technologies affect how people can think and work together--the second-level effects (Sproull and Kiesler, 1991: 15-16)
Basically, I feel that most organizations are having a hard time grasping this change. I still find it a little hard to swallow that so much of the money spent in the last campaign went towards broadcast communications and not building the network. But I definitely feel the tides turning as more and more organizations come to grips with the human element of networked organization, at least within the political realm. As both Kris and J. (in the comments) point out, the big government bureaucracies seem to be having a lot harder time switching gears, which isn't really that surprising given that these organizations are almost entirely hierarchical and poorly suited for the emerging networked world. It is, however, more than a little disturbing, and extremely dangerous given the network enabled threats that we increasingly face.
One last point: Rumsfeld seems to have made the historical mistake listed above when he decided what "transformation of the military" meant. See- Rummy seemed to think that the efficiency effects would mean that we'd need less "boots on the ground" and more technology. Instead, we can see in Iraq that while we certainly need and benefit from new and improved technology, our real needs are for more nodes in the network, i.e. more people- whether they be intelligence assets, civilian authorities, or soldiers. General Zinni certainly seemed to "get it" when he called for 18x the number of civilian officials working for the CPA and roughly double the number of troops, but Zinni isn't in charge. I wonder if Rummy and co. will "see the light" and push the armed forces to beef up on its human assets (esp. its non-soldier assets). Somehow I doubt it.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Cyber Threats to the Critical Infrastructure of the United States
The paper is titled Cyber Threats to the Critical Infrastructure of the United States and can be viewed here (PDF). At the very least I think that the sources can provide a good starting point for anyone interested in Cyberwar and the vulnerabilities of our critical infrastructures to cyber-based attacks.
Here's a chunk from the intro (minus footnotes):
In the past twenty-five years three major changes have shifted the way the world operates. First, the Cold War ended and we found ourselves in a world with a lone “hyper power.” Second, advances in computers and the introduction of the Internet to the world brought forth the information revolution. Third, these two forces combined to create the economic globalization that we see today.
Many of these changes have surely made the world better place—they have lessened the likelihood of wars between major powers, they have opened the way for the greatest integration of the world’s economies and made those economies more efficient, and they have made libraries of information widely available at the click of a mouse. But, these changes have also brought with them new vulnerabilities to the national security of the U.S.
As our economy has grown in the information age, it has integrated itself using networks and computers in such a way that the economy of the United States is totally dependent upon the information and computing infrastructure, alongside of the traditional infrastructures of energy, transportation, banking and finance, and vital human services, to operate. However, the Internet was developed without security in mind. At first it was a tool of communication that DARPA created for information exchange among various military, governmental, and associated organizations, all of whom were assumed to be trustworthy. But, as the computer became a household item, DARPA brought the Internet to the public, and it was quickly incorporated into just about every aspect of U.S. society . Even the U.S. Department of Defense relies upon privately-owned Internet lines for around 90% of its communications. In essence we have erected our “immensely complex information systems on insecure foundations,” a fact has not gone unnoticed by the adversaries of the United States.
These changes challenge most of the conventional ways that security has been thought about in the past. No longer can the U.S. afford to worry only about total war with a major adversary. The U.S. must now look at a whole range of actors who want to do harm to the state and its people, and re-adjust its thinking and actions accordingly. The entrance onto the world stage of multiple non-state actors is at least partially due to the ability of smaller groups to use the Internet to network with both individuals and other groups over great distances and regardless of any boundaries. As John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt put it: “the information revolution favors the growth of such networks by making it possible for diverse, dispersed actors to communicate, consult, coordinate, and operate together across greater distances and on the basis of more and better information than ever before.” These groups have the ability to act on their own, but in coordinated ways, which often gives networked forms of organization a relative advantage over hierarchically composed organizations, which must rely upon a fairly strict chain of command and present a direct challenge to the security and preeminence of the nation state. As Bill Clinton succinctly stated in 1998 during a speech to the U.S. Naval Academy: “Our Security is challenged increasingly by nontraditional threats from adversaries, both old and new, not only hostile regimes, but also international criminals and terrorists who cannot defeat us in traditional theaters of battle, but search instead for new ways to attack by exploiting new technologies and the world’s increasing openness.” Possible enemies, as Arquilla and Ronfeldt convincingly put forth, are “likely to operate in the cracks and grey areas of a society, striking where lines of authority crisscross and the operational paradigms of politicians, officials, soldiers, police officers, and related actors get fuzzy and clash.” Arquilla and Ronfeldt have given this type of war, between nation states and network-enabled non-state actors, or between two groups of non-state actors, the term “Netwar.”
Traditional security concepts such as deterrence, linkage, and escalation, all of which assume the nation state as the only actor, as well as many other concepts that have been relied upon for our security discussions and decisions in the past, need to be re-evaluated to see if they are useful in this new world. No longer can security be “defined by armed forces standing between the aggressor and homeland.” Today attackers can get around and outflank traditional defenses. One must come to terms with such difficult questions as: Where are the borders that define internet? Who polices and patrols it and who has jurisdiction over it? Most importantly, Can we defend ourselves in it?
The information revolution has not only brought forth new actors to the world stage, it has changed warfare between states as well. The United States military has grown to its preeminence primarily as a function of the information revolution. The ability to selectively target enemies, to control what they know, and to communicate with the many different pieces of the armed forces during battle is the defining characteristic of the modern military, and is largely responsible for the U.S.’s ability to vanquish a second rate enemy in short order. To a large extent wars have become battles over knowledge, i.e. “who knows what, when, where, why, and about how secure a society or a military is regarding its knowledge of itself and its adversaries.” The Gulf War has been seen by many thinkers in many nations as a turning point in the history of war, a point which was cemented in the minds of military thinkers worldwide by NATO’s victory in Kosovo. The lesson that was taken by these two wars is that the distinction between first- and second-rate militaries is that of information superiority. In essence information has become another front that a country must fight on, as each side struggles for total information superiority. In the Gulf War, for example, the Iraqis could not even mount a miniscule fight against U.S. forces, despite their larger numbers of soldiers and their Soviet-made equipment. Other countries have taken from this that those who control information control the battlefield and that, if they want to effectively challenge the United States, they should not fight another Desert Storm.
Because the United States has such a preeminent military that no other nation is able to counter on its own terms, other nations have begun to look for asymmetric ways of attacking it—attacks where “the United States is vulnerable and presents less risk of conventional retaliation.” The United States is particularly vulnerable to this type of attack in the same area which has enabled it to create such a dominating military and economy—in and through the information and communications systems themselves. In particular it has become obvious to many potential adversaries of the United States that its Achilles heel may be its communication networks, since it is the one critical military component which most modern militaries depend. It is also notable that though cyber war capabilities may be difficult and expensive, the costs needed to start up an effective cyber warfare program are very low, relative to more advanced weapons systems, and the knowledge needed to attain Cyber Warfare results is relatively common, in relation to other military technologies. Currently 8 countries have Information War capabilities somewhat comparable to the United States, most notably Russia and China, and many more are attempting to start their own programs. If we were ever to find ourselves in a strategic conflict with these countries there is a very real possibility that they might resort to attacking our critical infrastructures via cyberspace.
You can read the rest of the paper here.
Progressive Answers To National Security Questions
1. Isnt it the case that had a progressive been in the White House, Saddam Hussein would still be in power, with the Middle East as stagnant as ever?As usual J. at Armchair Generalist has some great progressive answers to these questions.
2. Do you honestly believe that an organization as bureaucratic, nepotistic, fractured and politicized as the UN will ever be a trustworthy foreign policy instrument?
3. What would you really do differently on non-proliferation?
4. Does the promotion of democracy belong as a U.S. foreign policy priority and, if so, what's your strategy for getting it done?
5. How can we be sure you wont sacrifice American interests out of an urge to be better liked around the world?
6. If youre so attuned to the stressed placed on the military and the frustrations that members of the armed forces feel with the current leadership and approach, then how come more servicemembers dont vote your way?
7.What makes you say progressives will do a better or more principled job managing the inevitable contradictions (inherent in foreign policy decisions)?
8. When push comes to shove, who would you rather have as the arbiter of whats considered legal in international relations some tribunal, court, or multi-national forum, or the U.S. government?
9.Under what circumstances do you think the U.S. is justified using military power without UN imprimatur?
10. If you had to draw up a foreign policy contract to offer the American people, what would be in it?
My only quibble with J. is in regards to #5. J. says:
5. Anti-Americanism. It doesn't come from an envy of what we have as a society - rather, it comes from when US federal agencies and government-sanctioned groups force their partisan ideals upon foreign nations. It's the arrogance of thinking we're always right that pisses people off and sending diplomats and troops to enforce that message, not our lifestyles. We need to be strong, but humble, and that will win them over in the long run.I think that Anti-Americanism does stem in large part from envy of what we have, though this is certainly exacerbated by our flaunting of our powers.
I'll end this by saying 'Amen' to J.'s answer to question #10:
10. What's your agenda? Foreign policy agenda in a nutshell - Increase America's stature in the world by developing and implementing a persuasive outreach effort on our culture and values in all major cities and capitals. Open the borders to exchange students so that they can see our culture in action. Impose strict moral accountability standards on US companies doing business overseas. Reduce basing overseas from permanent US bases to shared rights on allied military bases. Increase work on and seek expansion of international treaties designed to reduce conflicts and their impact on noncombatants. Increase cooperative military agreements to support joint exercises and exchanges with coalition allied militaries. Engage as equals, lead by example, look for the long view.However, I would add one more point to this answer- progressives need to take a firm stand on the need to recognize the emerging threats that we face. WMD and terrorism are two of the big emerging threats, but there are others, such as the environment, cyber-security, migration, and trans-national crime, that we must address.
Friday, May 20, 2005
What's The Matter With... Virginia?
Meanwhile, in the state that Zinni calls home, Virginia, there's only been one serious candidate mentioned to run against the Republican incumbent, George Allen- current Virginia Governor Mark Warner. But, it appears that Warner has his sites set on either the 2008 Presidential nominee, or the VP spot on the 2008 ticket. And without a big bench to pull candidate's from, this would appear to be a safe seat for Republicans. Unless...
I wonder where the Democrats could look to find someone who is liberal in many senses of the word, but who could appeal to the fiscal and security conservatives in Red Virginia? How about looking towards Virginia resident General Anthony Zinni? Is there a man out there with better security credentials than Zinni? Is there anyone who could better tap into the disaffected feelings that many conservatives must be feeling right now about our Cowboy President's overseas conquests and blatant neglect of national security?
Any Virginia residents out there care to help me push this idea?
p.s. I'm planning on moving this site to either a CivicSpace/Drupal site or at the very least a page using moveable type, in the near future. If anyone who comes across this is interested in helping to Draft Zinni, or if you like to write about NatSec from a progressive standpoint but need a home, please e-mail me- I would welcome any interested people to contribute to the site/effort. My e-mail is draftzinni [AT] yahoo.com.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Operation Truth Benefit Concert THIS SATURDAY!!!
If you came to this blog via Music for America (the political outreach group I work with) you've probably seen OpTruth's Friday posts on MfA. If you've never heard of OpTruth before, you should really check them out. They are the first and largest Iraq veterans group in America, and they are connecting these veterans with grass roots groups like MfA so that we can really support the troops. They also enable veterans to tell the truth about what they saw on the ground in Iraq through their amazing blog and by going to Washington to talk to lawmakers about the needs of soldiers and veterans.
This weekend, if you are in the NYC area, you have a great opportunity to support OpTruth's operations by coming out to their show. Here's the skinny on the show, from their site:
On Saturday, May 21 at 7 p.m., Operation Truth will be holding a benefit concert in New York City to support our work in the coming months. The event will be a great opportunity to hear some terrific live music, meet OpTruth's member veterans and staff, and support our Troops at the same time. Tim Robbins, Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo and Randi Rhodes from Air America Radio will be guest hosts, and Milo Z, the Laura Thomas Band and a special surprise guest will perform. Tickets are limited, so buy yours now!
What: Operation Truth Benefit Concert hosted by actor Tim Robbins, and radio personalities Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo and Randi Rhodes from Air America Radio. Featuring live music by Milo Z, The Laura Thomas Band and a special surprise guest.
When: Saturday, May 21, at 7 p.m.
Where: Canal Room, New York City (see below for directions)
Tickets: Click Here to buy tickets
Canal Room is a terrific club in TriBeCa, and the bands and celebrity MCs should make for a great evening. There is also a small number of VIP tables for sale - please contact Operation Truth for more details. Operation Truth really needs your help, and tickets are limited, so make sure to save the date and buy your tickets now.
Thank you for really supporting the Troops.
DIRECTIONS: Canal Room is located in TriBeCa at 285 West Broadway, just south of the intersection of West Broadway and Canal Street. By Subway, the A,C,E line to the Canal Street stop is closest, but the 1,9,N or R lines stop nearby on Canal Street. Click Here for a map, or visit the Canal Room website for more information.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
General Anthony Zinni (ret.) Videos
Well, trying to get across what is so great about Gen. Zinni, as a person and a leader, is similarly difficult. So with that in mind I decided to look around the net for some videos of Gen. Zinni. Here are some that I found.
First I came across an amazing streaming video of Gen. Zinni on Leading Authorities' website (RealPlayer). The video can be found here, and deals mainly with the question of leadership. For anyone wishing to get a real taste of just how impressive Zinni is in person, you should really watch this video. Zinni talks about issues such as honesty, education, and spirituality. For any of those people out there who question whether Zinni is truly an open minded intelligent, and I would say liberal, you should watch this.
This is a longer speech on avoiding and mitigating conflicts (RealPlayer) given to the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. The video is pretty long, and is all very good, but there are some particularly good segments about Zinni's views on Iraq beginning about 50 minutes into the video. He ends by saying that if he had still been an officer under Bush II he would have quit long ago. If only Powell had Zinni's morals...
Here's the full 60 minutes interview (Windows Media Player). (via undergroundclips)
Here's a speech to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Windows Media Player). The sound is pretty poor, but there are some great comments on the "plans" for Iraq. Really powerful stuff...
This is a very lengthy video (RealPlayer) from The Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley's Conversations with History series. The transcripts of the interview are a great place to search for Zinni quotes.
That's all I've found for now. I'll post more as I find links.
Wesley Clark: Global Warming Is A National Security Threat
Global warming and environmental policy are indeed important issues when considering national security policy.Many people still cling to the idea that we should view environmental degradation separately from national security, but as Gen. Clark points out we cannot. Gen. Zinni also noted, in an article I blogged about last week, the need to understand and deal with the root causes of instability before that instability requires military action.
Here's why: Evidence shows that global warming brings with it harsher weather conditions that could lead to drought and food shortages. This could mean that nations may be forced to compete more fiercely for scarcer resources. This pressure could become a destabilizing force that may lead to civil unrest and international conflict.
So, stopping global warming is not just about saving the environment for the hunters, fishermen, hikers and the other outdoor enthusiasts of today and tomorrow. It's about securing America for our children and our children's children, as well.
Shoulder-to-shoulder, let's march together to save what God loaned us, so our children and their children will live in a world we would recognize a hundred years from now.
Join the march to stop global warming now!
No excuses. No apologies. Take the first step today.
These generals aren't the only ones concerned about the effects of Global Warming on national security. Last February a report titled An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security, which the DoD tried to suppress, was leaked to the Observer UK. The report was commissioned by DoD adviser Andrew Marshall. As the Observer article notes:
Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net Assessment. Dubbed 'Yoda' by Pentagon insiders who respect his vast experience, he is credited with being behind the Department of Defense's push on ballistic-missile defenseSo what did Yoda's report say?
There is substantial evidence to indicate that significant global warming will occur during the 21st century. Because changes have been gradual so far, and are projected to be similarly gradual in the future, the effects of global warming have the potential to be manageable for most nations. Recent research, however, suggests that there is a possibility that this gradual global warming could lead to a relatively abrupt slowing of the oceans thermohaline conveyor, which could lead to harsher winter weather conditions, sharply reduced soil moisture, and more intense winds in certain regions that currently provide a significant fraction of the worlds food production. With inadequate preparation, the result could be a significant drop in the human carrying capacity of the Earths environment.The full report is one of the most complete overviews of the potential threats of global warming and is definitely worth a full reading. As it notes this climate change could have disastrous consequences for U.S. national security and our global interests:
The research suggests that once temperature rises above some threshold, adverse weather conditions could develop relatively abruptly, with persistent changes in the atmospheric circulation causing drops in some regions of 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit in a single decade. Paleoclimatic evidence suggests that altered climatic patterns could last for as much as a century, as they did when the ocean conveyor collapsed 8,200 years ago, or, at the extreme, could last as long as 1,000 years as they did during the Younger Dryas, which began about 12,700 years ago.
As I noted, President Bush and the DoDs response to this was typical- they tried to suppress the information. However, ignoring this problem is not going to remove the threat that we face as a nation and as a world. Of course we all know that the Bush Administration isn't likely to do a goddamn thing about this looming threat, which is why the opposition party, The Democrats, need to take the mantle of environmental and other non-traditional security threats and use them as a central part of the party platform. In our two party system there is no other way to force these highly urgent topics to get addressed.
As global and local carrying capacities are reduced, tensions could mount around the world, leading to two fundamental strategies: defensive and offensive. Nations with the resources to do so may build virtual fortresses around their countries, preserving resources for themselves. Less fortunate nations especially those with ancient enmities with their neighbors, may initiate in struggles for access to food, clean water, or energy. Unlikely alliances could be formed as defense priorities shift and the goal is resources for survival rather than religion, ideology, or national honor.
- Food shortages due to decreases in net global agricultural production
- Decreased availability and quality of fresh water in key regions due to shifted precipitation patters, causing more frequent floods and droughts
- Disrupted access to energy supplies due to extensive sea ice and storminess
I'll be writing more about the subject of non-traditional threats a little later today, in preparation for a piece I'm writing for Music for America, which will look at a few more reasons why non-traditional security should be a central part of what we stand for as Progressives...
Sunday, May 15, 2005
With Operation Matador at full swing across northwestern Iraq this week, it's probably safe to say our Marines have not caught all of the news from home. I'm glad for that. They would not be encouraged to learn that a concerted effort is underway to portray all of them as mentally unbalanced killers.And what evidence does Offley point to? The review of a movie dealing with the psychological trauma that many veterans face after being thrown into the war zone. Imagine that KIDS become traumatized when they watch their friends die, when they kill someone for the first time, and when they witness the carnage that is warfare.
Consider Times film critic Caryn James' encomium to a raft of new anti-war movies and TV shows that are in production this spring ("Critic's Corner," May 11, 2005). Ms. James, who counts herself as a spiritual kinswoman of Hollywood's two geopolitical experts, Michael Moore and Tim Robbins, begins with an overview of our nation's wars and the symbolic veterans as portrayed by Hollywood:First of all, stating that popular culture has dealt more with positive sides of WWII, and the negatives of Vietnam is simply a fact. If you don't like it Offley, then simply get into your time machine and go talk to Hollywood. Better yet- maybe you can tell us what the f-ck the righteous reasons to go to Vietnam were in the first place?"Every war inspires its emblematic screen heroes, from the stoic World War II veterans of 'The Best Years of Our Lives' (1946) to the paraplegic Vietnam veteran who gains a political conscience, played by Jon Voight in 'Coming Home' (1978). Now, in a just completed film called 'Harsh Times,' Christian Bale is a veteran for our time. He plays an Army Ranger who returns from Iraq so haunted by what he has done, so psychologically scarred, that he turns to criminal acts back home."There you have it in a nutshell: All World War II veterans were "stoic" and deserved our support. Vietnam veterans were crippled victims or psychologically unbalanced killers. So, too, the veterans of the post-9/11 era will all come home too "psychologically scarred" to function in society and will turn to violent crime.
But more importantly, MUCH MORE IMPORTANT, is the fact that Offley is basically denying a fact of war that is seriously effecting our returning troops. Instead of looking at the issue Offley wants those of us who care about the mental health of our troops, and by extension the military readiness of our veterans, to shut up. Well, you know what Offley- we won't shut up. The lives of our family members, friends, and neighbors might seem like nothing more than political sport to you, but it's not that way for me.
Hey Offley- what percentage of Vietnam Vets have been homeless at some point? What percentage of them have suffered from serious mental ailments at some point? What percentage of them have been incarcerated?
You don't know, and the fact that you and your partisan hack ilk would rather ignore these issues than deal with them, means that you don't give two shits about our troops.
I support Operation Truth because they actually care about the troops. I admired Col. Hackworth for the same reason. You, however, are an affront both to truth and to our soldiers. You are no Soldier for Truth, you are a right-wing hack who cares only for partisan politics, and I hope that you don't damage OpTruth's chances of getting the very real phenomenon of PTSD and other combat related issues addressed. I really find it amazing that in the week after Hack's death, someone could write such an anti-grunt piece as this, and as you may be able to tell I can barely hold back my anger.
Well, at least Offley had one positive effect. I just doubled my contribution to Operation Truth so that they could go to Congress to talk about PTSD and other troop-related issues. Let's hope that a-holes like Offley don't hurt this vital mission, the lives and health of our troops depend in part on OpTruth's success.
To donate to OpTruth's Washington trip please click here.
This is why Carl has some authority on the subject:
My last two years as a Navy officer I was assigned to Navy Recruiting District Chicago. I investigated misconduct by enlisted recruiters. At the end of my tour I was a whistle-blower about extensive corruption in Navy Recruiting Command, including cover-ups of recruiter misconduct by the chain of command.
Carl uses an unconventional style of writing in this post, where he posted each of his observations as comments to which people could ask individual questions. It really worked well, and for any of you who want an insider's view of recruitment, it's most definitely worth a look.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
The most basic tenet of a progressive foreign policy should be, in my eyes, that military force is only one of the tools we posses to achieve our foreign policy objectives and ensure our security, and because of the extremely high costs of military action (blood, money, prestige, etc.), it should be the absolute last option that we turn to.
A former head of U.S. Central Command has criticized the Bush administration for trying to deal with modern security threats through military solutions alone.Here we can see another of the foreign policy principles that I believe progressives should take: we must search out and address the root causes of instability, instead of constantly having to react to the symptoms.
Speaking at the Marine Corps Associations Ground Dinner in Alexandria, Va., on May 5, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni said the United States and the Marine Corps must make a greater effort to understand the problems of the developing world instead of narrowly focusing on fighting terrorism.
Our threat is that half of the world is remarkably unstable and it brings that to our shores everyday we need to do more than throw the military at this problem, he said.
Whatever the causes of stability in this world are, the causes of it are what have to be addressed. If you dont deal with reasons, youre going to continually have to deal with the symptoms.
The third aspect of foreign policy that I think progressives need to embrace is the recognition that we face a new paradigm in national security, one which requires us to address issues usually thought to fall outside of the IR realm.
Zinni criticized the governments national security strategy as not evolving enough from Cold War days, when enemies were nations and conflicts were dealt with army on army.To put the above principle in another way, progressives and liberals need to embrace reform of our national security policy and forces. As the Iraq War has made painfully obvious the military is not adequately equipped for the tasks of rebuilding and policing a failed (or in this case an overthrown and occupied) state. For example Zinni's plan for occupying Iraq (not that he wanted to invade and occupy, but he saw it as a possible scenario that needed to be planned for) called for about 18 times the number of civilian authorities.
The government needs a complete overhaul to deal with the post-Cold War world of non-state actors and other threats, Zinni said.
The government, he said, must take a larger role in dealing with multi-faceted instability and problems of a globalized world terrorism, epidemics, migrations, environmental degradation so the military doesnt get stuck with the job of economic and social rebuilding when those problems turn into threats, he said
In my time at CENTCOM, we actually looked at a plan for reconstruction, and actually developed one at CENTCOM because I though that we, the military, would get stuck with it. In my mind, we needed formidable teams at every provincial level. 18 teams. The size of the CPA was about the size we felt we needed for one province, let alone the entire country of Baghdad [sic] (Iraq), to do those other parts.Beyond the recognition of the need for deployable non-military personnel, Zinni also recognizes that the causes of instability emanate from such non-military areas as environmental degradation, epidemics and mass migration.
In the last section of the article we see an aspect of foreign policy that is completely "liberal."
While Zinni said the military should focus on fighting wars not rebuilding cultures and societies military officers also need to make a greater effort to understand the problems of the world.And before you even suggest that this isn't a liberal view of how to deal with the world, let me just point to the definition of liberal:
We need to broaden out to where we become truly renaissance men and women. Just to go there and think you can break things and kill people better than anybody else wont work. Weve seen that before; the movie was called Vietnam.
Zinni said that soon after graduating from The Basic School, Marine Corps officers should begin branching out, learning about the worlds cultures and problems. Specifically, officers need to understand that western and military logic dont necessarily apply to other parts of the world.
You need to understand these other pieces. It doesnt mean the military do them, but for the fit and the integration you need to be educated enough to take that on, he said.
lib·er·alNow if only we could convince Gen. Zinni that definitions 1, 2 and 4 belong together we'd be one step closer to finding a Democratic spokesman for a truly progressive foreign policy.
1. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
2. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
3. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
4. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.
Monday, May 09, 2005
The Pentagon fumble in which military officials essentially published on the Web the full version of a supposedly censored report was news last week. But occurring beneath the news radar is a more fundamental cyber-security problem: the Bush administration's cutting the funding of university-based information technology research by nearly half over the last three years.Now, I know that DARPA grants don't necessarily deal directly with Cyber Security, but with Cyber Security becoming increasingly problematic and with potential adversaries investing heavily in cyber weapons and tactics we need more funding to IT research centers, not less.
Since 1961, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, has distributed IT research dollars in largely open-ended grants to universities. The grants encouraged basic research aimed not at marketable innovations but at basic scientific mysteries. DARPA and its investments have paid off handsomely nevertheless.
Its legendary role in developing the Internet as a free-for-all instead of a commercially owned space is widely known. Less so are its militarily and commercially important developments, such as global positioning satellites, the JPEG file format for efficiently storing photographs and Websearching technologies like those later refined by Google.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Washington, D.C., May 5, 2005 – Col. David H. Hackworth, the United States Army's legendary, highly decorated guerrilla fighter and lifelong champion of the doughboy and dogface, ground-pounder and grunt, died Wednesday in Mexico. He was 74 years old. The cause of death was a form of cancer now appearing with increasing frequency among Vietnam veterans exposed to the defoliants called Agents Orange and Blue.
Col. Hackworth spent more than half a century on the country's hottest battlefields, first as a soldier, then as a writer, war correspondent and sharp-eyed critic of the Military-Industrial Complex and ticket-punching generals he dismissed as "Perfumed Princes."
He preferred the combat style of World War II and Korean War heroes like James Gavin and Matthew Ridgeway and, during Vietnam, of Hank "The Gunfighter" Emerson and Hal Moore. General Moore, the co-author of We Were Soldiers Once and Young, called him "the Patton of Vietnam," and Gen. Creighton Abrams, the last American commander in that disastrous war, described him as "the best battalion commander I ever saw in the United States Army."
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army missed its April recruiting goal by a whopping 42 percent and the Army Reserve fell short by 37 percent, officials said on Tuesday, showing the depth of the military's wartime recruiting woes.I'd say that that's a pretty reliable forecast. Hopefully we should learn a lesson from this war- that you can't successfully fight a long-term war without the full backing of the public, especially when you rely upon an all volunteer armed forces. If only there was a recent conflict in American history that could have taught us this. But unfortunately all of the wars we've fought in the past 40 years have been hugely popular and/or really short, so there was no historical case for the administration to look to. Oh, accept for that one war, you know the one that ripped American society apart, soiled our reputation in the world, and left our military in disrepair for years.
With the Iraq war straining the U.S. military, the active-duty Army has now missed its recruiting goals in three straight months, with April being by far the worst of the three, and officials are forecasting that it will fall short again in May.
It should come as no surprise that Army's recruiters have to bend or break the rules as pressure mounts to meet the quotas.
It was late September when the 21-year-old man, fresh from a three-week commitment in a psychiatric ward, showed up at an Army recruiting station in southern Ohio. The two recruiters there wasted no time signing him up, and even after the mans parents told them he had bipolar disorder a diagnosis that would disqualify him he was all set to be shipped to boot camp, and perhaps Iraq after that, before senior officers found out and canceled the enlistment.Damned freedom hating kids! Why won't they sign up to go fight in a war of choice against a nation that didn't attack us? Why can't they follow in the footsteps of the Bush Administration, all of whom sacrificed so much and served so patriotically in the Vietnam War when they were young?
Despite an Army investigation, the recruiters were not punished and were still working in the area late last month.
Two hundred miles away, in northern Ohio, another recruiter said the incident hardly surprised him. He has been bending or breaking enlistment rules for months, he said, hiding police records and medical histories of potential recruits. His commanders have encouraged such deception, he said, because they know there is no other way to meet the Armys stiff recruitment quotas.
The problem is that no one wants to join, the recruiter said. We have to play fast and loose with the rules just to get by.