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Strategic Compression The compression of roles and effects. The Strategic Corporal meets the "turn left" National Security Advisor.

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Old 03-13-2008   #1
Rob Thornton
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Default Indirect and Direct components to strategy for the Long War

Some time ago I began to consider how our various efforts in the Long War are linked. Many on the SWC have slogged through this with me on threads such as the “Stability Operations vs. IW”, and many other threads in which we try to establish the linkages between Strategy to Operations to Tactics, or in which we consider policy.

Part of what a “strategist” (and I use the term loosely!) tries to do is to understand and relate the writing, speeches and statements of our elected and appointed officials to our efforts – or how our policy objectives get implemented into some type of action to realize them. Army strategists are taught the Ends, Ways & Means formula, but they are also taught to consider other perspectives on strategy such as if a strategy is complete, feasible, acceptable, and suitable. This is important, because the strategist must consider if the actions or “ways” to achieve the “ends” are within the bounds of our strategic culture, if they do more harm then good, if they are suitable in terms of balancing our foreign policy goals with our ability to sustain domestic will, are the ways supported by the means, etc.? These are all important questions when it comes to devising strategy. A SWC member who has written a great deal about this is Dr. Steve Metz.

At the last SWC get together her at Leavenworth, SWC member “Hacksaw” brought up an interesting point. He posited we were on the “Strategic Defensive” (and you guys thought all we did at the non-virtual get togethers was drink beer!). I chewed on that yesterday, as I thought it provided me an angle I had not considered. He’d also referenced Clausewitz as having stated that the “Defense is the stronger form of warfare” – which also was worth chewing on. While after thinking and talking about it some more, I don't agree with Hacksaw in total, but I do think there is there is merit to the notion of the rationale for pursuing aspects of an indirect approach which coincide with the scale of our policy objectives, and the means available to pursue them . A related discussion was why one goes on the defensive – e.g. because they have momentarily culminated, or in order to be decisive in other theaters or Lines of Operation. This is probably where I disagree with the idea of a strategic defensive – I think a case can be made that BPC (Building Partner Capacity) as an indirect approach is more suitable to the nature of countering instability and insurgencies which take root there, then a direct approach, put more simply, BPC may be more suitable to the nature of the larger war, and offer more opportunity to seize and retain the initiative then a direct, and purely military approach. BPC has some warts when we start to look at against the criteria I’d mentioned for evaluating ways, e.g. it takes time, and sustained political commitment (commitment which is effected by domestic will among other things) - but it may be a more feasible COA given the nature of the enemy and the conditions which he may advantage himself to.

This is not to say we are not capable of, nor should we have elements of "direct" strategy where possible, and where suitable, just that we don't have the resources to be decisive everywhere. Nor does the subjective nature of this war and the nature of our objectives support a purely military strategy. The challenge I’ve been working through is trying to work through the inter-relationships between a “direct approach” and an “Indirect Approach”, and frame the scope of BPC, so I can get an idea of some of the contingent ideas, and the interdependencies which effect the operationalization of these ideas. This is related to another project I’m working on which is a Case Study on SFA (Security Force Assistance) to show the complexity and friction of conducting BPC activities while conducting simultaneous combat operations (incidentally this also gets to the highlighted change in U.S. Army Doctrine as articulated by FM 3-0). However, this idea of grand strategy that employs all the elements of national power in the Long War, and across the breadth of the places where stability is challenged is tough to get our arms around, particularly when it comes to synchronizing and deconflicting efforts on the ground to achieve unity of effort. That is part of the challenge, but so is framing the context in which they might be employed to achieve a purpose beyond just saying we need more of "X" and less of "Y".

Here is the link to the 5 slides I’m using as a framework. Slide 1 speaks specifically to SFA Scope. Slide 2 considers the “Indirect” component of a larger strategy. Slide 3 is about operationalizing an Indirect Strategy. Slide 4 shows how an Indirect component works with a Direct component to achieve the greater political end. Slide 5 talks about why we might have an Indirect component. Caution, these ends, ways and means are not directly drawn from existing documents, and are not policy – they are theory, that reflects some of our actions and efforts, discussions and dialogue – and most importantly they are up for debate!

My reason for posting here is as usual not to present something as complete and final, but to foster intelligent discussion abut the way forward and what are the implications associated with ideas and actions. We’ve got an intelligent CoP here on the SWJ and SWC, it is diverse and articulate, and we should always leverage its strength to inform the greater community and benefit from the experiences and ideas of the community. I’d encourage our community to interact.

Best Regards, Rob

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 03-13-2008 at 03:37 AM. Reason: realized I'd cut some sentences off in the original blog and post.
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Old 03-13-2008   #2
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Hi Rob, I think there is something wrong with slide 3...it's like it's not all there or something.
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Old 03-13-2008   #3
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Slap, you have to run it in presentation form, or change the scale - just the way I did it up. Regards, Rob
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Old 03-13-2008   #4
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Rob, interesting set of slides and I'm going to have to think about it for a bit.

Just off the top of my head, however, I think that while the defensive may be the stronger position in physical combat, I don't think it is in symbolic conflict. I think that it is imperative to say what "we" (broadly construed) stand for, not just what "we" stand against. And, speaking as a Canadian, for me that doesn't really include U.S. interests as a core component (Canadian interests are another matter ). The point I am trying to make is that the ideology / symbology - what we stand for - must transcend any individual national interest.

I'm not trying to say that national interest should be totally abrogated - it will clearly, and should clearly, play a role but, on the other hand, it strikes me that it cannot be the core of those values. This core has to be something that transcends individual national interests or there will always be a leverage point for our enemies to attack us. By way of example, why should Canada trust US interests? At one point in time, the US owned over 70% of our businesses, systematically manipulated our economy and directly manipulated our political process (if anyone wants the references, I can supply them).

This, BTW, is the main argument of the anti-globalization movement - in a nutshell, the argument is that US corporations are systematically engaged in economic warfare against the rest of the planet, and their own population, and they have taken control of the US federal government. There is enough historical data regarding the actions of US corporations to make this appear valid and, I'll note, having Tom Barnett saying that the conflicts in the next century will center on bringing the 3rd world into the global system don't really reduce the paranoia when globalization is being preached as in the US National Interest !

Please note that I am not saying that I agree with this argument. What I am saying is that it is plausible and is a weak point in any international coalition that has been exploited again and again. That's why I am saying that a set of statements about what we stand for must transcend national interest.

Marc
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Old 03-13-2008   #5
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Hi Marc,
I think you bring up some important points that must be considered in regards to devising ends. I've been thinking some lately about the effects of globalization. I'd agree with the point many have made about globalization having been a process that has been around for awhile, and one in which its influence has been pushed or retarded at times by events such as war, pestilence, commercial interests, etc. I think when we see it at its high marks is when multiple factors come into play - technology, politics, economics, culture, etc. When these factors converge in different ways it creates instability. Some of it is present on the scene, some of it is imported (or exported from elsewhere to the scene). Technology is a big enabler for importation and exportation. Global communications of ideas, people, services, goods, emotions etc. at the speeds we have achieved has made it possible to combine more of the factors, faster and with greater weight then we've seen before. State governments responsible for maintaining some form of order have a hard time keeping up - the commercial, public and private capabilities have out paced the capabilities of many governments to keep up. This is perhaps (and I'm intellectually wandering here) because their political systems were never able to accommodate such rapid change. Even in our system, arguably a pretty flexible and accommodating one by most standards, capability gaps might be emerging, and certainly capacity gaps are emerging just based on the sheer volume and public access we build into our own systems as part of our culture and political system.

I think your point about International "buy-in" is also important and brings up a kind of paradox that strategists must work through. On the one hand, the means being allocated toward FP ends must be translated into something that accommodates domestic concern in our system (or it must be of such a scale that flys below the radar), on the other given the nature of Friedman's and other's "inter-conectedness", the ends must also make some accommodation for the needs and concerns of partners. This I think is a tough balance, and may well explain why identifying vital interests, and devising political ends with regard to grand strategy is so tough. I think every state realizes that, and is certainly rationale for why Diplomacy and Information are so key at both the level where states discuss policy, but also increasingly at the level where groups and individuals who effect domestic policy interact. Even the conversations we have here have elements of the "D" and the "I" - considering the diversity and connectedness of the SWC and the larger number of folks who "tune in".
I'll come back to this later, but need to go for morning run.
Best, Rob
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Old 03-13-2008   #6
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Default Possibly acpocryphal anecdote follows

Will Rogers was asked how he would defeat the Nazi U-boat menace. "Simple", he said, "just raise the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean to the boiling point." The reporter agreed this would destroy all the enemy submarines, but wondered how Will would heat up the ocean. With his famous self-deprecating grin, Will replied, "I'm a concept man, not a detail guy."

It is hard to find anything objectionable in your indirect approach. In some ways it is a larger version of classic COIN strategy - dry up the sea that the insurgent fish swim in and they will be, at the least, inconvenienced. And while we have been doing some version of this for decades, our modern system of combatant commands should facilitate a measured, consistent, long-term approach to applying such a strategy. Finally, world-wide stability in the most basic sense - i.e., the absence of violence in normal civil society - is a goal only various lunatic fringes would oppose.

A couple of questions arise.

First, I wonder if there is a direct link between failed or vulnerable states and terrorism. Taking a long view, some of the most persistent, dangerous terrorist movements arise from stable, powerful, even enlightened states. Japan, Spain, Germany, and the UK have all generated significant home-grown terrorist threats. No one can accuse Saudi Arabia of being enlightened or, in most senses, modern, but it does have a pervasive and stable security apparatus. Yet as a society it supplied money, leadership, organization, motivation, and recruits to our current set of foes. I guess there is some harm done and mischief generated in places like the Horn of Africa and parts of Central Asia, but it seems to me that their importance as training bases and sanctuaries are overblown. Terrorists (as opposed to your garden-variety insurgents) have access to sufficient training, money, and weapons within modern stable states; they don't need secret bases in some God-forsaken hellhole. In fact, I suppose, one could argue that terrorism is a peculiarly modern product of increasing stability. It is a tactic of last resort when you have no other outlet, or when your cause is so unpopular you can never gain support for it through legitimate means. Is it possible to imagine that, were Saudi Arabia a participatory democracy, Osama would be running for office rather than running for his life?

Secondly, in your slides you show SFA as nested within larger political and economic efforts. One could argue that it would, in many areas of the developing world, be working at cross-purposes rather than supporting the other elements of national power. In essence, as presented we would be strengthening security forces in societies that are otherwise undergoing radical political, cultural, and economic changes. It seems to be a Metternichian approach to preserving order.
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Old 03-13-2008   #7
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Hey Marc,
One more thought occurred as I was running - with regards to an indirect component, how do you better leverage existing, and naturally occurring "means" that result from some of the factors I mentioned in the post above? For example, if technology and interconnectedness are more frequent, is it possible to apply the same philosophical tenets of "by", "with", "through" to people engaged in inter-communications? I think one of the things we miss with regard to our conception of strategic communications is that somehow all you need is to do it once, put something out there, or post a single blog, make one public appearance, etc. I think the people who engage in this medium and increasingly others as a result of access to this medium and having been affected by it, are more sophisticated - they want interaction. Being engaged, does not mean firing a few shots across the bow, the guidance should be more akin to "gain and maintain contact", or inter-act. The other part I'd go back to is what Kilcullen pitched as "matching the narrative and the action". Which I think means you more often do what you say, vs. explain what you've done after the fact. Certainly there will be times when the latter has to occur, sometimes things go very different from the expectation, and as such must be explained, sometimes the opportunity presented may be of such value it seemingly contrary action must be held against the impact on public perception(s) - but by and large I think there is room to create a narrative or policy in which our actions fall within the narrative - we just need to be very clear about our narrative, and we need to be engaged in strategic (inter) communications.

In my view this can occur by more leaders (uniformed, government civilian, religious, academic and private sector) being more engaged with both each other, and the general public. Understanding and articulating where their interests coincide, and how there activities can be synchronized is important; convincing them that they have keen interests in promoting greater stability that coincide with their understanding of their existing interests would be a key enabler for leveraging their participation toward a level of "by, with , through" that rivals those promoting instability. Certainly there are also the more accepted and very important components of "by, with, through" as they relate to BPC, but to build capacity (and in some cases capability ) in our available means commensurate to the scale and scope of the "end", and means that help us put into action our desired, or optimal "ways", we need to explore how the enemy is leveraging existing means, and in some cases tempting us to use our own weight/strengths against ourselves (I've heard it described as "cultural judo"). Does that make sense?

Best, Rob
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Old 03-13-2008   #8
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Hi Eden,
Quote:
Secondly, in your slides you show SFA as nested within larger political and economic efforts. One could argue that it would, in many areas of the developing world, be working at cross-purposes rather than supporting the other elements of national power. In essence, as presented we would be strengthening security forces in societies that are otherwise undergoing radical political, cultural, and economic changes. It seems to be a Metternichian approach to preserving order
Quick post then I have to go to work. I think the challenge you outline is real, and one that must be considered - communication and coordination are key to est. unity of effort. Also, there is no set ratio - it must be "operationalized" in view of both the "end" not only as it applies to us, but what is sustainable with regard to conditions present in the HN, the long term health of the region, and the greater context of the International scene and our place within it. I think this is one reason why you can't rely wholly on an "Indirect" or "Direct" component of themselves - they both have applicability, and conditions may dictate that they shift or create preference of one over another - wholly or partially. I know I put the slides together, but I think it'd be wrong for me to lay claim to it as something original - its more about describing what we are already doing, and synthesizing it into something that might help synchronize or coordinate effort. Certainly in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places we are doing both and the weight of effort has shifted and continues to shift with the conditions - you could also take the perspective that this is occurring from one region to another.

There are certainly lots of points in your post that need to be discussed, which is the value of coming here. I promise I'll come back to it this evening, but hopefully others will also weigh in, lots of folks I'd hope to hear from who can bring up good points from the excellent things you raise.

Best, Rob
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Old 03-13-2008   #9
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Default For some reason

my computer is not bringing up the link to the slides.

That said, you might find the case study CHDS published last year through NDU Press/Potomac Press, CAPACITY BUILDING FOR PEACEKEEPING: THE CASE OF HAITI, edited by John T. Fishel (yeah, that's me) and Andres Saenz (now Deputy Director of Colombia's DAS - intel service) - a project of the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies. The book is a compendium of papers from a workshop we held in late 2004. Most of them are from countries other than the US that participated in the Haiti mission and the majority are translated from Spanish and one from Portuguese. Unfortunately, the book is not available online, however, the original papers were published in a special issue of CHDS' online journal, SECURITY & DEFENSE STUDIES REVIEW (Spring 2005) in the original languages with abstracts in the other two. If you are an official USG user, you should be able to get a copy of the book either from NDU Press or CHDS. This should also apply to any of the countries that participate in CHDS programs. Marc, Canada is a special case and I'm not sure the above applies to you but since all Canadian universities are public institutions... nothing ventured, nothing gained. New hardcopies can be ordered at Amazon among other places and cheaper used copies are available online.

Sorry for so shamelessly promoting my own work - not really, as this is a USG product and I get NO royalties

Cheers

JohnT
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Old 03-13-2008   #10
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Hi Rob,

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Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
I think you bring up some important points that must be considered in regards to devising ends.
Thanks . One of the things that your posts in many of the recent threads has done is to make me think more heavily about the concept of "convention" (as in "conventional warfare", "Geneva convention", etc.). It has struck me that one of the key endstates we are aiming for is the acceptance, at an international level, of a series of political conventions that can be generally accepted rather than imposed. I'm still working that one through, but I have a feeling that if we want and state of lack of general conflict in the open warfare sense, that will be one of the keys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
I've been thinking some lately about the effects of globalization. I'd agree with the point many have made about globalization having been a process that has been around for awhile, and one in which its influence has been pushed or retarded at times by events such as war, pestilence, commercial interests, etc. I think when we see it at its high marks is when multiple factors come into play - technology, politics, economics, culture, etc. When these factors converge in different ways it creates instability.
Yeah - I tracked about 300 years of that in my dissertation looking at the interplay between technology, technique, and social forms. What I was looking at was a fairly simple question of what constellation of factors encouraged the development of bureaucratic organizations and what led to their downfall. From what I could see, it seemed to be tied into a number of different factors, but the one, crucial one was the maturation curve on productive and communicative technologies and its effects on the most satisficing format for resource distribution inside a society.

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State governments responsible for maintaining some form of order have a hard time keeping up - the commercial, public and private capabilities have out paced the capabilities of many governments to keep up. This is perhaps (and I'm intellectually wandering here) because their political systems were never able to accommodate such rapid change. Even in our system, arguably a pretty flexible and accommodating one by most standards, capability gaps might be emerging, and certainly capacity gaps are emerging just based on the sheer volume and public access we build into our own systems as part of our culture and political system.
I think that is a key observation, Rob. All of our present political systems, at least the ones based on state power, are predicated on the concept of scarcity. But what happens when production outstrips demand? First, there is a distribution question (Marx's classic mistake that Polanyi got right). Is there a "mature" distribution system available to get the produced goods and services to where the demand is. We can already see some of the effects when the answer is yes in the service / information industry (think call centres in India and China, along with data processing, data input, etc.). If the answer is no, then you still have local scarcities and overabundances that produce a differential that allows for a classic market exchange economy to boom.

The second observation is more political. When you have an abundance of resources and a fairly good distribution system then, in order for the classic economy to boom, you need to either open up new markets (think NAFTA, GATT, etc.) or you need to create artificial markets (e.g. monopolies and oligopolies - think about the prescription drug situation in the US) or you need to destroy some of the production to drive up prices (think about the slew of litigation regarding patent infringements, etc.). BTW, this is assuming that the "classic economy" is based on fairly short term maximizing strategies.

On the political level, we tend to find "private" corporations acting as strong lobbyists to the political elites. You can see that in Washington today, but the same thing happened in the UK in the 1820's and 30's with the development of long distance steamboats (Headrick's The Tools of Empire does a great job of tracking this). Inevitably, "national interest" leads to an intertwining of corporate and political interests that ends up on a war footing (think about the Opium Wars with China).

Still on the political level, we start to see some of the problems with "lag" showing up. The Brits did a really great job of dealing with their political problems in the early industrial revolution by, in part, co-opting the "best" of the rising industrialists into their class system with all the political power that implied in the 19th century. At the same time, they widened the franchise and allowed pretty much anyone to run for parliament, which co-opted most of the potential revolutionaries or, at least, established a good system for forcing them "out of the water" in COIN terms.

In the US, your political system developed in an agrarian society with a fairly long transit time (it's why you have that wonky College of Electors system). At the time, it made perfect sense but, with the rise of railroads and the telegraph, it actually became technologically redundant. The rise of the party system, and especially its hardening into two supra-parties, made sense in the post WW I system with broadcast communications technologies. Nowadays, when interactive technologies are the norm, it just makes for a bad French bedroom farce as we see politician after politician falling to scandals. BTW, we have the same problem in parliamentary democracies but, because of the way they tend to be structured, it is more likely that you will have more than two parties which allows for the system to survive even as parties are destroyed and new ones are generated (the Social Credit Party and the Bloc Quebecoise in Canada are examples of that).

In many ways, the political systems lead to not only the capability gap you point to but, also, a credibility gap. In many ways, democracies (and republics ), are purposefully inefficient. I suspect that parliamentary democracies are less efficient than republics as a governmental form. In part, this is because the systems were designed that way on purpose - to limit the power of the State in reference to the population; certainly that was the case in the Anglo-culture complex. Our ancestors didn't want an "efficient" government, because and "efficient" government would be able to dominate and control the populace, so our trade-off was inefficiency for individual freedom in some areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
I think your point about International "buy-in" is also important and brings up a kind of paradox that strategists must work through. On the one hand, the means being allocated toward FP ends must be translated into something that accommodates domestic concern in our system (or it must be of such a scale that flys below the radar), on the other given the nature of Friedman's and other's "inter-conectedness", the ends must also make some accommodation for the needs and concerns of partners. This I think is a tough balance, and may well explain why identifying vital interests, and devising political ends with regard to grand strategy is so tough.
I totally agree with that! It is much easier for a nation to say "I want this - give it to me or else!" than to say something like "How can we [multiple nations] build a system that allows all of us to get at least some of what we want?". It's one of the reasons why it is so simple to start a revitalization or apocalyptic movement - it's simpler to destroy than create (call that the Principle of Social Entropy ).

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I'll come back to this later, but need to go for morning run.
Personally, I'm for more coffee - have fun on your run!

Marc
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Old 03-13-2008   #11
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First, I wonder if there is a direct link between failed or vulnerable states and terrorism. Taking a long view, some of the most persistent, dangerous terrorist movements arise from stable, powerful, even enlightened states. Japan, Spain, Germany, and the UK have all generated significant home-grown terrorist threats. No one can accuse Saudi Arabia of being enlightened or, in most senses, modern, but it does have a pervasive and stable security apparatus. Yet as a society it supplied money, leadership, organization, motivation, and recruits to our current set of foes. I guess there is some harm done and mischief generated in places like the Horn of Africa and parts of Central Asia, but it seems to me that their importance as training bases and sanctuaries are overblown. Terrorists (as opposed to your garden-variety insurgents) have access to sufficient training, money, and weapons within modern stable states; they don't need secret bases in some God-forsaken hellhole. In fact, I suppose, one could argue that terrorism is a peculiarly modern product of increasing stability. It is a tactic of last resort when you have no other outlet, or when your cause is so unpopular you can never gain support for it through legitimate means. Is it possible to imagine that, were Saudi Arabia a participatory democracy, Osama would be running for office rather than running for his life?
Gotta agree with the terrorist argument here. You also need to consider the changing face of many of those organizations (after all, the anti-globalization folks were the first true trans-national terrorist group, and the majority of them come from pretty settled and stable regions). Failed and failing states provide a fertile recruiting ground or a cause around which the terrorists can initially rally, but I do think they're much more likely to originate in societies that are relatively stable and there's an intellectual (or would-be intellectual) class with time on its hands and an ax (or two) to grind. It's also more likely in societies (IMO) that are more based on traditional cultural ideas. This can help explain why the West Germans produced so many terrorist groups in the 1970s and into the 1980s, and also why they seem to be a constant (if small) feature in Japanese society (going back to at least the 1920s).

There are, as always, exceptions to this framework...which points out the danger in any "one size fits all" framework.
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Old 03-13-2008   #12
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Talking Now for a totally outrageous post...

Hi Rob,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
how do you better leverage existing, and naturally occurring "means" that result from some of the factors I mentioned in the post above? For example, if technology and interconnectedness are more frequent, is it possible to apply the same philosophical tenets of "by", "with", "through" to people engaged in inter-communications?
The short answer is yes and no, the long answer is much longer.

Basically, the form of the modern bureaucratic state is predicated on two things: control over access to scarce resources and control over information. Given the radical changes in productive and distributive technologies, the states have been loosing control over the access to resources part of their power base for years. The deployment of interactive communicative media exemplified by the 'Net, cell phones, IM systems, etc. has pretty much smashed their second power base.

This leaves them with a "brute force" approach to maintaining power, and that can be economic (e.g. government spending and manipulation of markets), ideological (i.e. trying to control the symbol system rather than the means of communication), or overt force. The problem is both perceptual and ideological. On the perceptual level, how many people actually "trust" politicians and bureaucrats to be working for them? On the ideological level, what individual "good" does the state provide to its citizens and how much actual power does it have to do so?

Let me toss some of his in an historical context. 100 years ago, most people in Canada and the US were pretty blase about their governments - they didn't "get in your face" too much and, I suspect, that Joe Public was quite happy with a minimalist government were most social services were provided by "intermediate organizations" (ref to Durkheim's Division of Labour in Society, 2nd edition in the preface). Governments were, on the whole, viewed as a necessary component of maintaining general order and keeping the social system running by making sure people "played by the rules" (hooray for the Scottish Enlightenment ).

After the Collapse in '29, the state moved more and more to replace these intermediate structures in the provision of social services - basically, they were "buying" public support while, at the same time, creating public dependencies (think Rome in the late Republic). Increasingly, the State in the West as a whole worked its way more and more into the lives of individuals gaining power and control by appearing to be a "fair broker" for scarce resources and, also, by indirectly (or directly) controlling information media. In part, actually a large part, this was because of a shift towards centralized broadcast media technologies (Paul Levinson's The Soft Edge does a great job of detailing this shift). And, as long as things were generally perceived as "okay", people accepted that.

Now, what does this have to do with "by", "with" and "through"? Simple, the modern bureaucratic state is based on a very specific form of social relation: it's a modification of the Authority Ranking form (cf Alap P. Fiske on Human Sociality). The "social contract" or, rather, the structure of the social contract for this social form is based on the right to "command" held by the State and the right to receive "benefits" held by the people - in its extreme form, we get the "Nanny State". Part of the effect of this is a sub-conscious assumption about technique - the "by", "with" and "through" that you talk about. In its simplest form, it frequently takes the expression of "The Government needs to DO something!" (often said in a whiny voice ). When enough people say things like that, politicians listen and the pressure to "DO" something is immense, even if what they do is idiotic.

The problem with "doing" something is that it's form is predicated on the assumed technique, so when a modern bureaucratic state "does" something, it is always in a manner that follows that technique. Before about 1985 or so, that technique mandated some new government regulation or agency, while after that it could be either an new regulation or agency or hiring private organizations to fulfill the perceived need (it was actually a rather slow shift in frequency distribution between the two options from about the end of 1968 when the bubble burst to today).

Now, both of these assumed techniques are "adaptive" for bureaucratic organizations: the first extends the bureaucracy, while the second extends their resource base while, at the same time, giving them a whipping boy if the effort fails. What is not adaptive for bureaucratic organizations is the technique that underlies and informs the primary social relationship inherent in highly interactive technologies: reciprocity.

Let me expand on this a bit. If we look at the job search situation in North America for the past 40 years, we can see that organizations used the techniques of bureaucracy to hire people (i.e. increasing regulation and standardization and outsourcing of hirings). There are very good reasons why this happened, but I won't get into them here (I've written them up elsewhere). What happened was that individuals got increasingly frustrated with these two techniques and learned how to bypass them using a third technique - "networking" (BTW, the same thing happened on the other side). As a technique, networking is based on information reciprocity and information sharing. "Power" in this technique derives from the provision of information and the provision of a community "space" for information exchange. You can imagine how this was speeded up with the deployment of the interactive 'Net technologies .

Once we move into the current world of high interactivity, we have a real problem for many bureaucrats as bureaucrats (not as individuals): "power" as information, flows freely between members of the populace without bureaucratic control over any of it. Needless to say, this is not a technique that is adaptive for bureaucratic organizations. This tends to lead to an increasing perception that first, they are not as efficient as the networking system and, later, they are a parasitic drain on the social system. It's that "everyday life" effect - if the Government can only help me find a crap job and it takes them 50 weeks to do so, and I can get a good job in 5 weeks using my network contacts, which do you think I am going to use and what technique will I place my trust in?

This "everyday life" effect has a spreading effect out into their areas of lived experience as well. If, for example, I need ideas and information fast will I use the bureaucracy or will I use my network? The more I bypass bureaucratic technique, the more likely I am to bypass or discount things associated with it. Which brings me to your next comment...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
but by and large I think there is room to create a narrative or policy in which our actions fall within the narrative - we just need to be very clear about our narrative, and we need to be engaged in strategic (inter) communications.

In my view this can occur by more leaders (uniformed, government civilian, religious, academic and private sector) being more engaged with both each other, and the general public.
One of the properties of an information reciprocity system is "trust" in the validity of the information (and the person providing it), including statements about the limits of that information. Part of this is, as you note, combining action with story.

The question of "leaders" is an interesting one. At present, I would tend to agree with you about increased engagement. At the same time, many of these leaders are "leaders" solely by virtue of offices held within a bureaucratic system, so the level of "trust" in the individual and the information they provide is often related to the level of trust in the organization they represent. With the rise in interactivity, we are also seeing a concomitant rise in "information leaders" (for want of a better term) who operate outside of formal bureaucratic organizations. A really good example of this is in the open source software community. This means that, in the interactive environment, you have differing types of "leaders" operating based on differing assumptions of technique, which brings us to

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
Certainly there are also the more accepted and very important components of "by, with, through" as they relate to BPC, but to build capacity (and in some cases capability ) in our available means commensurate to the scale and scope of the "end", and means that help us put into action our desired, or optimal "ways", we need to explore how the enemy is leveraging existing means, and in some cases tempting us to use our own weight/strengths against ourselves (I've heard it described as "cultural judo"). Does that make sense?
Yup, it does make sense. One of the key ways that our opponents are practicing cultural judo is by pointing to the problems in everyday lived experience as they are being articulated in our own societies. They are leveraging a reciprocity technique against us by supporting the many narratives that oppose the bureaucratic techniques (e.g. globalization = job loss, etc.), and there is not really much "trust" at home in the bureaucratic narratives.

Anyway, I did tell you it would be a long answer .

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Old 03-13-2008   #13
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Default Rob and his big ideas

As usual Rob has posted another of his intellectual hairballs that generates so much intellectual activity that it is nearly impossible to keep up and still do your job . A few thoughts that might already be accounted for above, but I don't have the time to digest...

Being on the strategic defense does not preclude offensive action. This is especially true if you consider STRATCOM/Info Engagement (IE) as part of the mix. Of course Clausewitz needs to be bent to fit generational changes, but he still fits in this era of fourth generation warfare.

All this gets a little hazy if you are like me and consider all actions/activities as having some IE component. I conduct a raid, I take physical action but I also convey a message to foes, friendlies, and neutrals alike based on how, when, etc...

However, if we bend our concepts of offense and defense so far that they no longer resemble their commonly understood definition (an example would be that Iraq was strategically a defensive action because it was pre-emptive of a presumed threat), then we probably just need to start over again.

As I continue on this stream of consciousness... I heard rumor (probably in this forum) that ADM Mullen proposed as food for thought that we ought to have an Info Order with an OPS Annex as opposed to the other way around. There is probably way too many cultural hurdles to scale with that idea, but that is the kind of big idea that I expect from a CJCS. If you get past your initial gut reaction, you can easily so why that is a far more useful mental construct. Unfortunately it took a squid... god help us if they are going to do all our thinking.

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Old 03-13-2008   #14
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The question of "leaders" is an interesting one. At present, I would tend to agree with you about increased engagement. At the same time, many of these leaders are "leaders" solely by virtue of offices held within a bureaucratic system, so the level of "trust" in the individual and the information they provide is often related to the level of trust in the organization they represent.

Currently on about Friday of next week I'll be reading "Leaderless Jihad", don't know much about the book, but the concept of leaderless organizations does intrigue me. The organizational structure has definite impacts on the ability to effect desired outcomes.

On the transnational level of crime and terrorism (which I disagree with Steve Blair it has been around a lot longer than the anti-Globalists e.g. Yakuza, Tongs, Mafia). I would suggest that there is an element to leadership and organization that is starting to emerge due to the hyper-connectivity of current communications/technology structures.

The use of technology in cyber-terrorism (sic) and trans-national crime has allowed for disparate groups to near instantly form and coalesce around a chosen target (for different reasons being targeted) engage in an attack and evaporate as an agency of action. All without clear thought or organizational leadership.

Tilly (<-- sociology classes are paying off to argue with MarcT) would argue that this is a form or resource mobilization in contrast to Durkheim and the break down theorists. I would suggest it is a wholly new form of organizational structure eclipsing earlier societal network structures and illuminating a neo-Marxism of the new hyper-connected/communication model.

Several authors and academics have looked at the "Copyright Wars", and digital copyright issues, the "Hacker Code" and other meritocracy type organizations of the hyper-connected and identified the forming and dissolving of these groups. This is truly more than the Internet as hyper-connected takes in ALL forms of communication's (cell phone, pda, instant messenger, etc.)

The question I can't answer is will society enforce the dictum of currency (perhaps convention as MarcT illustrated elsewhere), or will the evolving communication model (distributed, less ideology driven, loosely coupled or uncoupled) expand to effect and change the "whole" of society? If the expansion and assumption of normalcy occurs then it will have substantial and long lasting effects on conflict. If it doesn't occur and is relegated to a "phase" then it will be more a symptom rather than a disease.

Or, something like that.
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Old 03-13-2008   #15
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On the transnational level of crime and terrorism (which I disagree with Steve Blair it has been around a lot longer than the anti-Globalists e.g. Yakuza, Tongs, Mafia). I would suggest that there is an element to leadership and organization that is starting to emerge due to the hyper-connectivity of current communications/technology structures.
Actually, Sam, we're in agreement. I toss out the anti-globalists because they were one of the first to make massive use of the newer technologies (the internet, for one) in terms of organization and communication. My apologies for not being clearer....
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Old 03-13-2008   #16
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Hi Steve,

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Gotta agree with the terrorist argument here. You also need to consider the changing face of many of those organizations (after all, the anti-globalization folks were the first true trans-national terrorist group, and the majority of them come from pretty settled and stable regions).
A good point that both you and Eden raise. I'd bring up that while movements may originate and find purchase in more developed states, its also important to consider that state's ability to respond to it in terms of capability and capacity. Can the state mitigate the threat in such a way that public security or the perception of public security are not compromised to the point where the state's ability to govern is jeopardized?

Its probably also worth considering that in terms of consequences to surrounding states. If a terrorist movement originated in the past in a developed state because of one aspect - say politics, or religion, what effect did it have on its neighbors or the broader international community? How are the consequences and the means in which such a movement can now extend or cooperate with other movements (or state actors) and what does that mean? How does the access to a place that is unstable and ungoverned facilitate training and coordination by what once were more disparate groups, and what opportunities does that present them in terms of better safe havens? All of those get to the broader question of why we should identify a political objective that on its face may be at odds with how we have traditionally defined ourselves and our role, as well as the means and ways available or desirable to achieve those ends. Tough stuff to grapple with for sure, and this is a great place to talk about them.
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Old 03-13-2008   #17
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John, and others -

Sorry about the tech difficulties - anybody who needs to - just send me a PM with an email addy I can put an attachment to and I'll send them on.

Best, Rob
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Old 03-13-2008   #18
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Thumbs up Worthy of discussion & maybe its own thread

Hacksaw - good catch,

Quote:
As I continue on this stream of consciousness... I heard rumor (probably in this forum) that ADM Mullen proposed as food for thought that we ought to have an Info Order with an OPS Annex as opposed to the other way around. There is probably way too many cultural hurdles to scale with that idea, but that is the kind of big idea that I expect from a CJCS. If you get past your initial gut reaction, you can easily so why that is a far more useful mental construct. Unfortunately it took a squid... god help us if they are going to do all our thinking.
I did not want to lose that thought you had in the post, it also deserves to be talked about - and gets to the question of narrative and actions very well.
Best Rob
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Old 03-13-2008   #19
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Hi Selil,

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Currently on about Friday of next week I'll be reading "Leaderless Jihad", don't know much about the book, but the concept of leaderless organizations does intrigue me. The organizational structure has definite impacts on the ability to effect desired outcomes.
You know, for most of our species history we have been "leaderless" in the current meaning of that term. Back when we were Hunters and Gathers, we had what is now called "situational leadership" - it shows up now in management texts on "matrix organizations".

Quote:
Originally Posted by selil View Post
On the transnational level of crime and terrorism (which I disagree with Steve Blair it has been around a lot longer than the anti-Globalists e.g. Yakuza, Tongs, Mafia). I would suggest that there is an element to leadership and organization that is starting to emerge due to the hyper-connectivity of current communications/technology structures.
Well, on the transnational level, I would add in the early (~1550+) TNCs such as the Hudson's Bay Company, the British East India Company, etc. Given their history of acting as if they were nations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by selil View Post
Tilly (<-- sociology classes are paying off to argue with MarcT) would argue that this is a form or resource mobilization in contrast to Durkheim and the break down theorists. I would suggest it is a wholly new form of organizational structure eclipsing earlier societal network structures and illuminating a neo-Marxism of the new hyper-connected/communication model.
IMHO, Tilly has been reading too much Castells . This is one of the key problems with Marxist and neo-Marxist theologians... oops, sorry, "theoreticians" - when reality doesn't match their prophecies, they build a new prophecy and explanatory framework. I always wondered if Althusser was a reincarnation of Ptolemy! This neophilic theological system of theirs really does reinforce why it is so difficult to make social sciences into sciences .

On a less-Marxist bashing note, it really isn't a "new" form at all - it is just about the oldest form of social relations we, as a species, have. The fact that it doesn't mesh with the creation myths of the Marxists is irrelevant; at least for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by selil View Post
Several authors and academics have looked at the "Copyright Wars", and digital copyright issues, the "Hacker Code" and other meritocracy type organizations of the hyper-connected and identified the forming and dissolving of these groups. This is truly more than the Internet as hyper-connected takes in ALL forms of communication's (cell phone, pda, instant messenger, etc.)
Oh definitely! Add in On*Star, chips in your appliances that call for repair, the dating ####s advertising your sexual proclivities and availability, etc, etc., and the interconnections are ruly mind boggling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by selil View Post
The question I can't answer is will society enforce the dictum of currency (perhaps convention as MarcT illustrated elsewhere), or will the evolving communication model (distributed, less ideology driven, loosely coupled or uncoupled) expand to effect and change the "whole" of society? If the expansion and assumption of normalcy occurs then it will have substantial and long lasting effects on conflict. If it doesn't occur and is relegated to a "phase" then it will be more a symptom rather than a disease.
There are so many possibilities that I, literally, can't think of them .

Marc
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Old 03-13-2008   #20
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Default Parallels

I got to thinking about that one:

Quote:
Will Rogers was asked how he would defeat the Nazi U-boat menace. "Simple", he said, "just raise the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean to the boiling point." The reporter agreed this would destroy all the enemy submarines, but wondered how Will would heat up the ocean.
In a way Rogers did hit upon an idea, and eventually we did did make a pretty "hot" environment for the U-boats to operate, the operationalization of it required improved ASW, convoy escort tactics, the development and fielding of some new technologies, and an increase in the sheer amount of shipping vs. the U-boat capacity to intercept and the and selective use of cypher effort to defeat German encryption to do so. Operationalizing it required multiple efforts along a variety of lines. Interesting comparison's have been made to the German use of U-Boats in the Atlantic vs. our sue of submarines in the Pacific - which in its own way could be used to consider approaches to the Operational Environment - but the differing contexts only allow you to get so far. I don't think Roger's explanation was anything new, maybe just his way of looking at it.

There might be some other parallels worth considering - but I'm not sure of their utility once you acknowledge that to devise a strategy is one part, but implementing or operationalizing it is another. Just creating the "means" to pursue a "way" that is in keeping with the "end" is proving to be a challenge.

Best, Rob
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