Thursday, June 9, 2011

Navy wins game 3 of the Patriot League Finals, beating out Army for the title

This was a great day of baseball folks.

Note: Navy Baseball is FREE. A big perk of working on the yard.

This team was not picked to do well, started the 2011 season 0-5, and came roaring back. Faced the #1 and #2 teams in the NATION at the NCAA tournament, but hung in there. Wait'll next year boys!

Another note: this team deserves more radio coverage! Come on WNAV.

Strategery: A parody. If you are about to initiate major military action, you must first fill out this form

Hilarious parody from the "Foreign Policy" blog's Tom Ricks, leaked to me via one of my always reliable WikiSources. Behold standard form SF - 1001, the Strategic Reasoning Document (SRD) for use prior to initiating MAJOR action.

Please note these additional related instructions: Form SF 1001 is to be used for MAJOR actions. This status must of course be established first by filing form ME 1001, and a special hearing of the Operational Status Review Board. Additionally, ancillary documents UAV-1001, CMIS 1001, or SPECOP 1001 must be filed if the Board deems the operation to be Minor. Also, in that case, form SF 101 (SDR for use PRIOR to initiating minor action) must be filed.

In any case, all forms must be accompanied by form UN 1001, ICC 1001, ACLU 1001, and must be filed in triplicate, accompanied by a 3 1/2 inch floppy containing said documents. Documents must be forwarded in the blue folder with appropriate forms for signatures of all principals.

Click to enlarge

Reading Mr. Y, Finis: Budgeting priorities in his proposed "National Prosperity and Security Act"

The NSN now begins to wind down to its end. In its penultimate section, it proposes in general terms, legislation that is conceived on analogy with NSA 47 and its follower NSC 68, documents crucial to Cold War U.S. strategy. The present section of NSN, building on the examples presented in the last, sketches in general terms the basic outlook from which the proposed legislation proceeds. As per last time, individual paragraphs, then commentary:

Credible Influence in a Strategic Ecosystem

Viewed in the context of a strategic ecosystem, the global trends and conditions cited earlier are seen to be borderless. The application of credible influence to further our national interests, then, should be less about sovereign borders and geographic regions than the means and scope of its conveyance. By addressing the trends themselves, we will attract others in our environment also affected. These converging interests will create opportunities for both competition and interdependence, opportunities to positively shape these trends to mutual advantage. Whether this involves out-competing the grey and black market, funding research to develop alternate and sustainable sources of energy, adapting farming for low-water-level environments, anticipating and limiting the effects of pandemics, generating viable economies to relieve urbanization and migration, marginalizing extremism and demonstrating the futility of anti-modernism, or better managing the global information grid – international divisions among people will be less the focus than flexible and imaginative cooperation. Isolation – whether within national borders, physical boundaries, ideologies, or cyberspace – will prove to be a great disadvantage for any competitor in the evolution of the system.

In short: concentrating on those aspects of the global environment/infrastructure that all have a stake in, we can recruit aid in safeguarding them. We know this has to do with various social and environmental facts and trends, from the examples in previous sections of NSN. Envisioned is a large scale, hopefully cooperative increase in international aid and education, with significant funding for the U.S. end of the venture to be siphoned from DOD spending, and reallocated to other departments. Hopefully, costs will also be taken on by partners, public and private, both foreign and domestic. Spending will encompass environmental cleanup, environmental engineering, development of energy technologies, development of infrastructure for undeveloped areas of the globe, education and training of the poor worldwide, education and training of those running foreign governments, & etc., a large laundry list of goals. Things we already do, but on a much increased scale. Marshallesque.

The next paragraph focuses on one aspect of the shared infrastructure; the Internet. Read it while considering what the last paragraph had to say about isolation.

The advent of the internet and world wide web, that ushered in the information age and greatly accelerated globalization, brought with it profound second and third order effects the implications of which have yet to be fully recognized or understood. These effects include the near-instantaneous and anonymous exchange of ideas and ideologies; the sharing and manipulation of previously protected and sophisticated technologies; vast and transparent social networking that has homogenized cultures, castes, and classes; the creation of complex virtual worlds; and, a universal dependence on the global grid from every sector of society that has become almost existential. The worldwide web has also facilitated the spread of hateful and manipulative propaganda and extremism; the theft of intellectual property and sensitive information; predatory behavior and the exploitation of innocence; and the dangerous and destructive prospect of cyber warfare waged from the shadows of non-attribution and deception. Whether this revolution in communication and access to information is viewed as the democratization of ideas, or as the technological catalyst of an apocalypse, nothing has so significantly impacted our lives in the last one hundred years. Our perceptions of self, society, religion, and life itself have been challenged. But cyberspace is yet another dimension within the strategic ecosystem, offering opportunity through complex interdependence. Here, too, we must invest the resources and develop the capabilities necessary to sustain our prosperity and security without sacrificing our values.

We see a good sketch here of the mixed bag of benefits and risks that come with the Internet. Unfortunately we do not see a proposal as to how best to deal with the risks, other than a hint of sorts given by the phrase “opportunity through complex interdependence.” One also wants to ask, in light of the very long last sentence of the previous paragraph, if the authors are arguing that isolation of sectors of our computer networked infrastructure is something they would not recommend. Are they arguing that we would all be better off if some certain subset of the Internet were deliberately left vulnerable by the global community? We must remember that, unlike the traditional realms of conflict, (air, sea and to some extent, land) the Internet is a commons by choice. The Internet is an artifact. We can choose to fence it. That is feasible, where in other realms (say that of the air) such moves are not feasible. One wonders at the reference to sacrifice of values. Does it imply that openness of the Internet is in line with our value of freedom, while fencing off would not be?

Mr. Y seems to be arguing either that ingenuity will always overcome cyber ‘fences’ or that we are better off leaving it such a wide open commons, and that in either case we must or should take on the attendant risks. All of us that use the web for day-to-day work and life can see its power as an information gathering and dissemination tool, and can understand this sentiment. It is indeed a marvelous instrument. We are lucky to live in such an age.

Yet, this encouragement toward openness of the Internet has with it attendant worries. If there were some sort of international agreement to keep it open, what steps would members of that community take to ensure prevention or mitigation of debilitating attacks to their corners of that vulnerable sector (or more precisely, those material aspects of their vital infrastructure or defense that are connected to that web, and hence connected to the commons)? How would that community deal with attribution problems when and if attacks occur? How would individual countries ensure these vital things are indeed safe? Need there be some sort of international agreement along the lines of defense treaty organizations wherein member countries sign solemn vows to never use such means even when in conflict with each other? How then does that community, or individual countries (especially the U.S.) deal with non-signatory states and/or the shadowy world of non-state actors sponsored by states (signatory or not) who despite agreements undertake cyber warfare? What sorts of retaliation would be appropriate when we have what amounts to circumstantial evidence of the origin of something more aggressive than cyber-espionage, something of more impact to civilian or military information infrastructure, say an attack that cripples vital infrastructure for a sizable chunk of the Eastern Seaboard? Water supply shut off, financial infrastructure significantly compromised, computer based shipments of food interrupted, or something like that. Say we know the origins are on mainland China, or within Iran. The states deny, as they are wont, claiming it was hacking. How would we respond? This question is relevant whether or not the cyber weapon was delivered via the web, or via a thumb-drive to a purposefully isolated computer system. Remember, Stuxnet had no IP address, yet coding peculiarities have led to the suspicion that its origins were with the U.S. and/or Israel. Rather than encouraging a relative dissolution of sovereignty and borders, it seems such possibilities would rather encourage the wise toward strengthening the isolation of such things as critical infrastructure, as we already do with some military information systems. Does Mr. Y argue that such efforts are in the end futile in some spheres, like the necessarily open financial, necessitating we undertake some sort of cooperative defensive measures or prevention? If so, is he right in his assumption? He does not say. As we’ll see, he just moves on to wrapping up his case, and proposing a piece of legislation, his modern-day analog of the Truman era NSC 68 and NSA 47. On to those sections next, as we wrap up this series on the NSN.

Opportunities beyond Threat and Risk

As was stated earlier, while this Strategic Narrative advocates a focus on the opportunities inherent in a complex global system, it does not pretend that greed, corruption, ancient hatreds and new born apprehensions won’t manifest into very real risks that could threaten our national interests and test our values. Americans must recognize this as an inevitable part of the strategic environment and continue to maintain the means to minimize, deter, or defeat these diverging or conflicting interests that threaten our security. This calls for a robust, technologically superior, and agile military – equally capable of responding to low-end, irregular conflicts and to major conventional contingency operations. But it also requires a strong and unshakable economy, a more diverse and deployable Inter Agency, and perhaps most importantly a well-informed and supportive citizenry. As has also been cited, security means far more than defense, and strength denotes more than power. We must remain committed to a whole of nation application of the tools of competition and deterrence: development, diplomacy, and defense. Our ability to look beyond risk and threat – to accept them as realities within a strategic ecology – and to focus on opportunities and converging interests will determine our success in pursuing our national interests in a sustainable manner while maintaining our national values. This requires the projection of credible influence and strength, as well as confidence in our capabilities as a nation. As we look ahead, we will need to determine what those capabilities should include.

This section re-iterates much of what has already passed. New ideas here are a call for a ‘robust’ military, one capable of effectively carrying out small wars, and major conventional conflicts. It must also be able to deploy quickly when needed. We must also maintain technological superiority. It also argues for stronger inter-agency cooperation and a well educated populace. Lastly, we see recurrence of the “whole nation” rhetoric as applied to international development, diplomacy and defense (the 3ds). This section is reviewing, and setting up the next. It continues:

As Americans, our ability to remain relevant as a world leader, to evolve as a nation, depends as it always has on our determination to pursue our national interests within the constraints of our core values. We must embrace and respect diversity and encourage the exchange of ideas, welcoming as our own those who share our values and seek an opportunity to contribute to our nation. Innovation, imagination, and hard work must be applied through a national unity of effort that recognizes our place in the global system. We must accept that to be great requires competition and to remain great requires adaptability, that competition need not demand a single winner, and that through converging interests we should seek interdependencies that can help sustain our interests in the global strategic ecosystem. To achieve this we will need the tools of development, diplomacy and defense – employed with agility through an integrated whole of nation approach. This will require the prioritization of our investments in intellectual capital and a sustainable infrastructure of education, health and social services to provide for the continuing development and growth of America’s youth; investment in the nation’s sustainable security – on our own soil and wherever Americans and their interests take them, including space and cyberspace; and investment in sustainable access to, cultivation and use of, the natural resources we need for our continued wellbeing, prosperity and economic growth in the world marketplace.

Only by developing internal strength through smart growth at home and smart power abroad, applied with strategic agility, can we muster the credible influence needed to remain a world leader.
We see in this last paragraph a reiteration of the hierarchy of spending priorities that Mr. Y has earlier outlined. First priority comes to education. Second up are health and social services programs. Third priority is security, including cyber defense and “sustainable” extraction of natural resources. This is quite a broad list, and raises all the budgeting and national security questions that such a reallocation of funds away from defense entails, questions that have been canvassed in earlier posts. I won’t rehearse them here again. Now, we move to a sketch of the proposed piece of legislation that is to encapsulate and implement these ideas:

A National Prosperity and Security Act

Having emerged from the Second World War with the strongest economy, most powerful military, and arguably the most stable model of democracy, President Truman sought to better align America’s security apparatus to face the challenges of the post-war era. He did this through the National Security Act of 1947 (NSA 47). Three years later, with the rise of Chinese communism and the first Russian test of a nuclear device, he ordered his National Security Council to consider the means with which America could confront the global spread of communism. In 1950, President Truman signed into law National Security Council finding 68 (NSC 68). Often called the “blueprint” for America’s Cold War strategy of containment, NSC 68 leveraged not only the National Security structures provided by NSA 47, but recommended funding and authorization for a Department of Defense-led strategy of containment, with other agencies and departments of the Federal government working in supporting roles. NSA 47 and NSC 68 provided the architecture, authorities and necessary resources required for a specific time in our nation’s progress.
The parallelism with NSA 47 and NSC 68 is now drawn again, as it was in the opening sections of the NSN. Mr. Y points out that these documents stated a goal, and provided ‘architecture’ and resources to attain that goal.  It’s goal was “containment” of the dangerously militant evangelizing expansionist communist threat, in particular, the vigorous Soviet efforts in that direction.  Does the NSN have a similar goal, amenable to such succinct statement? That alas is the problem. Its goals are many; for there is no one enemy that dominates the landscape. Instead, the world has many actors. It also has many ‘environmental factors’ that threaten, according to Mr. Y. What is more, the growing interconnectedness of world commerce and information technology has opened another ‘realm’ of operations and another sort of threat, cyber war. So, what does the document recommend be the meat of the act it proposes, the act that is to serve as the organizing theme for our national efforts? I think it is captured in a word: ‘reprioritization’ of governmental spending away from defense and toward social spending.

Today, we find ourselves in a very different strategic environment than that of the last half of the Twentieth Century. The challenges and opportunities facing us are far more complex, multinodal, and interconnected than we could have imagined in 1950. Rather than narrowly focus on near term risk and solutions for today’s strategic environment, we must recognize the need to take a longer view, a generational view, for the sustainability of our nation’s security and prosperity. Innovation, flexibility, and resilience are critical characteristics to be cultivated if we are to maintain our competitive edge and leadership role in this century. To accomplish this, we must take a hard look at our interagency structures, authorities, and funding proportionalities. We must seek more flexibility in public / private partnerships and more fungibility across departments. We must provide the means for the functional application of development, diplomacy, and defense rather than continuing to organizationally constrain these tools. We need to pursue our priorities of education, security, and access to natural resources by adopting sustainability as an organizing concept for a national strategy. This will require fundamental changes in policy, law, and organization.

Ease of portability or transfer of funding across departments also carries with it, and connects with the explicitly stated need to examine funding ‘proportionalities’ across USG. As we have seen, this paper is indeed calling for a reduction in funding for the military, and proportional increases for agencies that would educate, provide health care and social services, not only at home but abroad. For, even though the document states that efforts should begin at home to set an example for other parts of the world, it also says that many of the problems we have are inextricably connected to similar problems and environmental and social factors that are of a ‘global nature’ constituting our ‘strategic environment.’ They believe we cannot fix these things piecemeal. This necessitates, on Mr. Y’s view that we take vigorous action at home and abroad more or less simultaneously, in the areas of development and diplomacy, relying on defense only if needs be. This ‘home-first/home-and-abroad-simultaneously’ tension is probably borne of the authors’ recognition of political realities on the domestic front and the reasonable fears critics have that large cuts to DOD are not wise. It also gives voice to a longstanding view of many in America that does like to think of the U.S. as being capable of this sort of success in largess, a great giver of gifts and defender and promoter of enduring human values around the world. This tradition is indeed one of the things that is best about the United States. We truly do wish to better the world, and create conditions that will allow others to flourish and prosper as we are lucky enough to do. It is well said. But, it also raises all the hard questions about feasibility and likelihood of success in such a grand, global and Marshallesque enterprise that have been raised in earlier posts. Be that as it may, we can do something like this on a substantially smaller scale, and serially, piecemeal:

I would suggest we finish what we started in Iraq and Afghanistan, following the COIN model, which is in many ways just what Mr. Y argues, for in those countries we literally have feet on the ground and a substantial presence (both non-military and military) and can focus development efforts in ways we simply cannot do in other parts of the world. We can do this while not taking the real fiscal risk of stretching domestic resources beyond the feasible that a more global enterprise would take on.

If we succeed in these two places, we build upon that success with the aid of those two countries, seeking voluntary buy-in or cooperation from those countries around, while insisting upon Sharansky’s muscular version of linkage as a strict condition of development and aid. If things take, we can then spread the ink spot from those countries, and etc, in what would amount to a sort of inverse analog of the ‘domino theory’ of the Cold War. This piecemeal approach is far more practicable, responsible, and also more likely to succeed than the global effort Y envisions. It will not also necessitate the level of cuts to DOD that they argue are necessary in order to bolster the global effort.

Of course, none of this addresses the very serious fiscal issues we have in USG as a whole, and the feasibility of large scale government guided and funded domestic health and social services of the sort advocated by the present administration. If that is not a realistic possibility at home, it is unlikely abroad. We now move to the concluding paragraph of the NSN:

A Beacon of Hope, a Pathway of Promise

This Narrative advocates for America to pursue her enduring interests of prosperity and security through a strategy of sustainability that is built upon the solid foundation of our national values. As Americans we needn’t seek the world’s friendship or to proselytize the virtues of our society. Neither do we seek to bully, intimidate, cajole, or persuade others to accept our unique values or to share our national objectives. Rather, we will let others draw their own conclusions based upon our actions. Our domestic and foreign policies will reflect unity of effort, coherency and constancy of purpose. We will pursue our national interests and allow others to pursue theirs, never betraying our values. We will seek converging interests and welcome interdependence. We will encourage fair competition and will not shy away from deterring bad behavior. We will accept our place in a complex and dynamic strategic ecosystem and use credible influence and strength to shape uncertainty into opportunities. We will be a pathway of promise and a beacon of hope, in an ever changing world.

Whew. Finally. Done. Now I’ll start some other series of posts.

Herodotus’ “Histories” of the Persian Wars (very liberally ‘translaparaphrased’): Book I sections 9 - 12

9. (Wherein Herodotus continues in his roundabout introduction of Croesus, exhibiting his tendency to very extended but entertaining digression, this time on the family history of Croesus the Lydian who, as I said before, is one of the first really vivid characters of the Histories)

In this way Gyges did his utmost to decline the King’s importunities. He was afraid for himself, afraid of what would happen if he were to acquiesce.

The King however, insisted that he not distress himself. ‘You have nothing to fear, either from me or my wife. I am laying no trap, and as for her, I promise she will not harm you. I will arrange things so she’ll not even be aware of your presence. Look, I will hide you behind the open door of our bedroom. She will follow me into the room. Near the door is a chair. She will put her clothes on it as she disrobes. You’ll be able to watch undetected. As she walks away from the chair and the door toward the bed, her back will be to you for a few seconds. You should steal away at that moment, out of the bedroom. Mind she doesn’t catch you.”


Gyges, firmly gripped by necessity was unable to do anything but consent. When the time came, Candaules brought him to the room. Soon thereafter, the Queen arrived, and Gyges watched as she disrobed, putting her clothes on the chair. Then, as she turned her back and was moving toward the bed, Gyges quietly slipped out of the room. Nevertheless, the Queen did see him.

She immediately surmised what her husband had done. She did not betray herself, nor give expression to the shame she felt at being seen. She did not scream, nor did she let on that she had noticed anything untoward. Instead, she silently resolved to revenge herself upon the King. For, the Lydians, as with most of the barbarian peoples, it is thought to be the height of indecency for anyone, even a man, to be seen nude.


So, for the moment the queen kept silent and did nothing. The next dawn she sent for Gyges after she had first prepared with the most trusted of her servants. Now, there was nothing unusual in her calling for Gyges, so he answered the summons completely unawares, with no suspicion that she knew of the previous night’s events.

‘Gyges,’ she began as soon as he reported, ‘you have two options, and you may freely choose either. Kill Candaules, take his throne and myself as your wife or die here and now so that your blind obedience to my husband will never again lead you to see something that you have no privilege to see. One of you must die; either my husband, the instigator of this horrid little plot, or you Gyges, who have committed outrage upon decency by seeing me naked.’

For quite some time Gyges was far too shocked to speak. Finally he found words. He begged the Queen to not compel him with such a wrenching choice. But his protests were to no avail; he realized he was faced with the dilemma of either murdering his master or being killed himself. He made his choice. He would live.

‘Tell me,’ he finally replied, ‘since you compel me against my will to murder the King, how shall the deed be done?’

‘We will slay him as he sleeps,’ was the answer, ‘and on the very spot where he showed you my exposed body.’


All was prepared for the killing. The Queen would not relent. She gave Gyges no chance to avoid the dilemma; either he or Candaules must die. Night came, and he followed the Queen into the bedroom. She firmly thrust a dagger into his hand. She hid him behind the same door as before. Then as Candaules slept he crept from behind the door and struck the death blow.

Thus it was that Gyges usurped the throne and married the Queen. This is the very same Gyges that Archilochus of Paros mentions as being a contemporary in his “Satires.”