View Full Version : Smart Power Equalizer: Finding the Mix

02-23-2007, 12:37 AM
Blog entry at MountainRunner - Smart Power Equalizer: Finding the Mix (http://mountainrunner.us/2007/02/smart_power_equalizer_finding.html).

This is the first post in a multi-part series about the design and application of "smart power".

Counterinsurgency, much like international relations, is about the right amount of power in just the right places. However, in the macro scheme of international relations, there is room for fudging and fine grain controls aren't as necessary. Counterinsurgency requires, as I see it, requires greater finesse to be successful.

Bridging the ideas of hard power (generally kinetic use of force) with soft power (non-coercive persuasion), we arrive at the somewhat new and fashionable term Smart Power (side note: see the Smart Power Blog (http://smartpowerblog.org/) for one of the few overt discussions on the topic under the banner "smart power"). To counterinsurgency, this isn't new.

Up until a few years ago, conventional wisdom still held that winning wars against non-state actors could be calibrated by looking at the elements of national power. State opponents didn't necessarily need all of the pressures brought to bear as since the 19th Century, victory could be achieved by capturing the capital city. Non-state actors, however, didn't often have such a convenient defined geo-political heart and so we looked at the broader spectrum of our elements of power that could be brought to bear. Originally this was DIME (diplomacy, information, military, and economics), somewhat recently it was expanded to the awkward acronym MIDLIFE (military, information, diplomacy, law enforcement, intelligence, finance, and economics)

However, this emphasized our powers and our perceptions of their importance without considering the pressure points of our opponents. Recently we this has started to manifest itself in questions about whether there are different engines of insurgencies ("Maoist" versus "Religious") and how we might craft different responses.


The Equalizer graphic above is one way I submit we can look at the application of power (clearly the idea came to me after using my iTunes equalizer...) against insurgencies. Let me give a quick walk-through before continuing...

Lots to digest here - in regards to a different spin on... and I have not done so yet... The Equalizer graph looks a lot like a different visualization tool on LOOs and some of the Red, Green, Amber light graphs I've seen before. More at the link. Comments?

On edit - I'm multi-tasking right now... My experience with both great and not-so great visualization tools is the problem in defining measures of effectiveness and our ability to collect intel / info to support those metrics. Bottom-line is garbage in - garbage out.

Bill Moore
02-23-2007, 02:54 AM
In short DIME makes sense to me, and MIDLIFE doesnít. Iím hoping someone will respond back that sees the logic of MIDLIFE and can explain it. Here is my rationale for not accepting it.

First DIME makes sense because there are numerous examples throughout history and ongoing where we have effectively used the elements of DIME to persuade other states to see things our way, or at least reach an acceptable compromise. Weíre talking about national power, so I see power as the ability to influence, and national power as the Stateís ability to influence other States (and non-state actors to a lesser degree, but that isnít what DIME was designed to do, so obviously there is a gap there, and maybe that is what the author is trying to get at).

MIDLIFE surfaced a few years ago, and I donít think it is accepted doctrine because I canít find it in any relevant text that discusses national strategy or interagency operations, but regardless it is an acronym that has some sticking power, so please help me make sense of it if you can.

With MIDLIFE, we add LIF to the DIME: law enforcement, intelligence, and financial. A brief discussion on each one:

Using my definition of national power above (perhaps that is wrong), how is law enforcement (LE) an element of national power? With the exception of the DEA arresting Manuel Norigea, where do we use LE as a means to influence other States? We frequently assist other states with law enforcement information and expertise to make them more capable, but when we want a State to change it laws, or enforce standing laws (such as international laws), we use Diplomacy to persuade them to do so.

Is intelligence as an element of national power? If you donít act on it, then it has no value. The execution of intelligence gathering doesnít influence states (it may make them more cautious), but the use of intelligence through diplomatic, informational, or military means equates to national power. Although a sad moment in our history, Sec Powell using intelligence to persuade the UN to support our efforts in Iraq was both a diplomatic and informational use of intelligence to influence other States. If we didnít use that intelligence through one of the DIME elements it wouldnít have influenced anything. The covert ops side of intelligence, such as support to the Contras, should remain under the military element (even if the CIA is doing it), because weíre basically talking about the use force, or the threat of force, to influence

I see finance the same way, it is normally the Dept of State or DoD who spends the money approved my Congress, it isnít a separate element. You use finance to support information, military, diplomatic and economic initiatives.

I think the whole idea of MIDLIFE is deeply faulted, but DIME isnít enough to influence non-State threats, so we need to reframe the way we look at achieving national objectives in this new environment. Old structures and models wonít allow us to solve new problems that they were not designed to solve; however, MIDLIFE just seems like more of the same.

Whether using DIME or MIDLIFE, both come up short when dealing with an OIF or OEF-A type problem, because the Department of State is set up to conduct national level diplomacy, not establish governments at the grass root level of towns and villages. Iím not sure it is set up to help establish standing up a government period in a failed state. There is limited ďDĒ and ďLĒ to adjust to the correct proportion, so the reality is the military must have these capabilities embedded. I concur with SWJED, it is just another system, and if you put garbage in it, then you'll get garbage out of it.

02-23-2007, 11:30 AM
Below is a link to INTERPOL the International police organization which has potential to be used as the LE portion of MIDLIFE.


02-23-2007, 03:43 PM
The MIDLIFE in my model is not quite the same as the old MIDLIFE for the very reason Bill suggests. From the last paragraph of the post:

What does "fully aware" smart power look like? Below is my quick rendering of how multidimensional power is brought to bear in COIN in HOA. Note the emphasis isn't on American perceptions of power or the mirrors of America, as in MIDLIFE, but on local sources of power. Coercion is only slight advanced, as is Military and Information. Diplomacy, expanded here to include influencing outside actors more than the target actors, is somewhat retarded. Law Enforcement is neutral because of the "militant" or endemic "warrior" characteristics. Intelligence is of course advanced, as is Finance. However, there is more focus on Ideology (includes religion, generally but not exclusively of the target but also on outside actors), Politics (in the Area of Operation of the target, not just the AO of our counteractivity), and Society (of the target). Culture is cranked up because of the how power is gained and kept in the Horn of Africa.

The music analogy is intentional as it matters what is heard and not what is said. This is the central point. The old model was based on our elements of national power when we need to apply pressure onto the Otherís elements of power. Itís the listening thatís being created thatís the most important.


02-23-2007, 07:14 PM
If we're going to apply Diplomacy to a 4GW/Non-State Actor opponent, doesn't that imply negotiation? One of the bedrock principles is "We do not negotiate with terrorists." But, clearly, negotiating with their state sponsors and political arms doesn't get us much.

Or does "diplomacy" here simply mean diplomacy with the people, rather than with any given violent subset of the people?

02-23-2007, 07:31 PM
Although diplomats love to tout diplomacy as a solution, they have a porblem in 4GW scenarios. The FS folks will tell you that the Westphalian model and "rules" of diplomacy are still the rules to play by. These "rules" do not account for non-state actors. Big problem in diplomacy areas.

I wonder where the ampflier fits in on the EQ?

02-23-2007, 07:41 PM
Although diplomats love to tout diplomacy as a solution, they have a porblem in 4GW scenarios. The FS folks will tell you that the Westphalian model and "rules" of diplomacy are still the rules to play by. These "rules" do not account for non-state actors. Big problem in diplomacy areas.

I agree with your assessment of the FS, but that doesn't make them right. First off, in the model depicted above (HOA) the diplomacy isn't with the non-state actors themselves as much as with outside actors. And even then, the D is de-emphasized to your point.

I think there's room for FS / DoS to participate, but not through traditional Track I diplomacy as the perceived target isn't a state. However, actions of the targeted state (by the irregular warrior) or of supporting states (or either the irregular warrior or by our, the side of Good and Right :D) may be targeted. So DoS still has something to do in Track I. In Track II, they can participate through means Rice and Hughes don't seem to understand or at least embrace, such as USIA-like activities, USAID, and other activities under the category of "public diplomacy".

I wonder where the ampflier fits in on the EQ?
Ideas? What about the pre-amp (Coercion here), does it fit? :confused: