31 January 2007

Thoughts on Pt. II of Mr. Hewitt's interview with Mr. Thomas Barnett

The first and lead-in to my reviews is: Force structure, grand strategy and forcing the issue.

While not an explicit review, my analysis of why Constabulary Forces are not in the cards for America is here: On re-making the world and why the US doesn't do such things.

My thoughts on Pt. 1 of the series of interviews is here.

The numbering reflects the pre-series lead-in and then follows Mr. Hewitt's numbering designation. At some point I will need to do a re-edit on the previous article and reflect that.

Unlike my thoughts on Pt. 1, I will do a bit more of a glossy look at some of the issues involved in Pt. 2. This is done because this interview is a higher level discussion of military analysis for procurement via threat assessment. Thus large scale topics get involved and are done in a overview fashion. So, with a little bit of luck this will *not* be my typical, lengthy rejoinder.

Thematically, and not in the order presented, the very highest level being addressed by Mr. Barnett as he lays them out:

Tier I : The International System of States

Tier II: Individual Nation States

Tier III: Individuals

In looking at this analysis I am struck by the unmentioned, unviewed and thus, inherently dangerous concept that is NOT addressed by this. This is the interstitial fluid between these things that work across all levels of this and at an undefined level *to* this schema. What that is are the International and Transnational organizations: businesses, charities, Non-Governmental Organizations, monetary systems, trade organizations, criminal organizations and terrorist organizations.

The traditional argument is that these are composed of individuals that reside within States which can be addressed by the use of diplomatic means via State to State work and addressed. What this does, however, is leave ecological 'niches' for uncontrolled expansion of organizations by using those Nations that are not part of a full suite of Treaties and agreements to then shift resources, personnel and power via those means that are not fully or even partially covered by State to State Treaties and agreements.

An example of this is the uncontrolled monetary transfer networks in the Middle East. The Hawala system, which grew up as an indigenous part of local cultures to meet localized social needs. By using this system of trusted intermediaries that had no oversight over monetary transfers or no reason to keep exacting records of them, criminal organizations, terrorist organizations and businesses have been able to use these systems to shift funds outside the standard banking system in an unaccountable manner. After 9/11 many States regulated or outlawed such things, but the fact that many did *not* and that these indigenous systems grew up without National oversight indicates the ease with which they can re-create their infrastructures. Here State to State treaties and agreements are circumvented not only by non-agreeing States but for the ubiquity of need and the fear of governments in those regions of the world and the necessity of paying bribes or other fees via *standard channels*. As with cigarette taxation in the US driving smuggling operations for tax-free items, so the Hawala system grew up to present the least overhead and fully reliable system of economic interchange outside of governmental control.

This system type grows up in any Nation that has the following: authoritarian government, use of bribery or coercion to allow transactions, high inflation, untrustworthy banking operations. Similar networks in SE Asia, Latin America and Africa allow for the movement of small funds in numerous transactions to be filtered through these inter-locking systems with very low overhead to them. While International Banking typically has little to no overhead for transactions, the necessity of minimum account size, annual fees and other overhead make them burdensome to individuals and small organizations. Thus *any* individual can step up to one of these establishments, pay a minimal transfer fee, specify the destination and get assurances of its arrival. Bad actors get ratted out for theft and the lowest level remains relatively *clean*. That said, criminal and terrorist organizations use these things to launder money globally, actually make money through temporary investment of transit cash and, in general, sustain global operations through these means.

If Nation States could clean up this system it would have already happened.

It cannot happen due to the ubiquity of need and the low cost to get connected to the system and low overhead to run it. Here Moore's Law outruns International Law by driving the means for entering such a system downwards, and speeding up rates of transactions. Further, slow build-ups of funds or cross-network large cash dissemination, make the ability to track such transfers difficult if not impossible. Here a global flexing of money can *instantly* concentrate for large item procurement in an untraceable manner.

An example of how this works was demonstrated by Overstock.com as seen in this article at its investors area. After the Afghanistan conflict ended, Overstock sent its agent to Afghanistan to purchase hand made crafts wich sell well in the international market. By hiring one woman in Afghanistan, Neelab Kanishka, and giving her direct spending authority for goods, she traveled all over buying items and then putting in requests for good sellers. In 2004 Overstock.com became the largest private employer in Afghanistan by using the similar concept of central point distribution of funds attached to a global cash system. While this was the *normal* global monetary system, anyone as part of the Hawala system can do just the same by finding locals that are part of that system and the flexing funds through them for concentration and purchase or re-distribution. That is the power of a globalized system that is a reflection of the *normal* global system: it works in the same way and allows for the sudden concentration of effort out of nowhere.

By attempting to put issues into a PowerPoint formula of talking points, Mr. Barnett puts forward categories that are not only *not* representative of the entire threat sphere, but leaves such large holes in it that problems can move through them unhindered just as they do today.

And note that until an actual *purchase* is made, the military threat from this system is ZERO. Yet, low cost military small arms that are also available through irregular suppliers and re-sellers allows for these two systems, banking and supply, to suddenly allow the 'spin-up' of terrorist cells on a near global basis instantly. Infiltration of skilled external operatives with local contacts is one way to do this. The other is to train local operatives, have them return home 'empty handed' and then get cash to them via the unofficial system for procurement from known and trusted suppliers. Again, there is very little that can be done to actually address this from the Nation State side of things or even the International Treaty and agreements system. These banking and supply systems work outside of normal channels and are not amenable to the standard oversights used for mere criminal enterprises.

To actually begin to address this with the war powers the United States does have and does not use the full suite of, requires some rethinking on things from Foreign Policy to actual Warfare. I will get to that after a brief look at China as a good part of the interview is spent there and on force structure and needs.

Mr. Barnett puts forth the fully understandable paradigm that the US build-up of forces to counter China is done in their response not only to the US but to overcoming the defenses of Taiwan. By trying to use such things as cruise missiles and procuring stealth ability, China is seeking to thwart both the defenses of Taiwan and the ability of the US to project power via Carrier Battle Groups. Even with higher economic work between the US and China, the Chinese continue to work hard at getting asymmetrical capability to counter US power and still stage a successful invasion and takeover of Taiwan. That said the region of Asia is *not* addressed as a whole and the full power of the US is not considered in this equation. The other way for the US to flex power is through the distribution of better technical capability to the ALLIES of the US in the region: Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

In point of interest is that China, while having saved North Korea from defeat, is in no way held accountable for the actions of that Nation after the war went on hold. This has led to a complete stagnation of Foreign Policy here and has only put forward that 'economics' is the key to reforming China. I disagree with that premise but even with that as a given it is a long-term affair and the problems in the region are becoming short-term. He sees a lovely scenario where China forgets its Nationalist outlooks that the Communists have espoused for so long and that they will become so integrated with the global economic structure and unable to build up to counter current US forces that they will, in actuality, give up on trying to do so or just simmer. Unless North Korea does something, of course.

Just *when* the Chinese government will give up on getting Taiwan back is another issue. I do not see economic integration as a healing salve, but spreading infection in Chinese society. But then I talked about that in my previous review.

So a look there on Foreign Policy would help to distinguish what can and cannot be done and put some definition on things.

Finally a major point of agreement between myself and Mr. Barnett!

That said my outlook is more than slightly different from his, in that I have not seen a real-live, honest to goodness *explainable* Foreign Policy for the Nation since... well since the middle of the Cold War. The United States threw the gearbox on Foreign Policy into Neutral sometime around the Carter Administration and it has stuck solidly there since. Currently there is no explainable, comprehensive Foreign Policy of the United States. We do get lots of good meaning programs and negotiations and agreements... but zilch on what it is all a part of or intended to achieve as a whole.

Mr. Barnett would like to have some definition on what a Foreign Policy for the 21st century would look like so that we can understand just what the nature of the threat IS that the US Armed Forces have to meet. If you can start to get a handle on the threat, you can size the forces... if they fit within the Nation State Tier set. Those things that fall OUTSIDE that Tier set would remain staunchly unaddressed. That means that one must rethink the ENTIRE concept of Foreign Policy of the United States so that *everything* gets addressed.

In actuality that is very simple to do. This is not rocket science nor nuclear physics nor trying to design a party for 1,000. And as the People of the United States prefer something that breaks down into easy to understand chunks, the chunks define themselves and then allow for them to be addressed separately. Needless to say I have gone over that and the ramifications of doing so previously:

A Proposed Foreign Policy for the United States - There are three main areas involved. Every Nation and every individual fits into one of those.

That then drives out Goals on the Global War on Terror - This actually works to SUSTAIN and enhance the Foreign Policy.

Addressing China means not to address them, first, but to implement the US Foreign Policy.

There are ramifications on current Treaties and such because of this, too, such as NAFTA in which one trading partner has not lived up to its side of the bargain and has been abusing the Sovereignty of the US. And it requires eliminating those organizations that serve no useful purpose and to start distributing the few things that do need to be done via other means.

Now, since the Goals on the Global War on Terror start to redefine who enemies are by their *actions* and that the threat is distributed and asymmetrical, that requires an entire re-analsysis of 21st century warfare to address this. Transforming warfare and how it is fought is just the start, now we have to look into Our Nation and see what has been given to us to *fight* these modern wars that are against non-Nation States and not amenable to 20th century conceptions of warfare. Because an entire set of tools in the toolbox has not been opened for a century and a half and it is vital to this modern fight.

This also gives wider ranging capability to do things to the Citizenry to actually carry out Foreign Policy, even when the Federal Government cannot act because of the restrictions placed upon it.

Note that the order of precedence here is to set out understandable Goals and Objectives and then craft necessary policy that directly *links back* to them without intermediaries and well-wishing.

Programs enforce policy, instead of creating it.

We have lots of programs from the Federal Government.

But no policy to give it directivity and objective goals.

To end *that* candidates must talk about the goals FIRST and then cite how programs will enforce those goals.

If we don't then the Nation will not even be able to keep to its *original* objectives as Freedom and Liberty are frittered away program by program, and the Government assumes those powers from the People.

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