Tuesday, December 28

Catching up with Tom

Looks like Tom's going to be leaving the Naval War College and striking out on his own. Godspeed...

Tom reports that the Pentagon didn't have a written plan for reconstruction and occupation in Iraq. He says Tommy Franks should give back his Medal of Freedom.

Officially, America doesn't give a lot of Official Foreign Aid. But, as Tom points out, by the time you add up our military actions, legal immigrants who send PILES of money back home, Foreign Direct Investment, private charitable giving (including religious), and indictments of human rights violations in places like Sudan; we start to look pretty good.

Critt, Tom's webmaster, put together a generally categorized index of some of Tom's posts.

Here's one of the reasons I like Tom's work: there's hope in it for poor people. The good news is the number of people living on a dollar a day has dropped from 40% of the world's population to 20%.
Steffen: The top third of humanity has unquestionably gotten much richer in the last decade, but there's also a billion people on the bottom who seem to be going backwards. And those people -- the part of the developing world that's no longer developing -- seems to map pretty exactly to your Gap.

Barnett: The Gap is the bottom third. One of my main points is that the middle third has joined the Core. The lives of the middle third have improved. There's been a reduction of about 400 million in the number of people in absolute poverty over the last 20 years. The number of people living on a dollar a day went from 40% of the world's population to about 20%.

There is still, though, about a third at the bottom who are shut out of the benefits of globalization. About half of them are kind of getting by in a subsistence way, but the other half, about one billion, are not only not getting by, they're falling off the edge of the planet.
The quote's from this interview.

Another good comment therefrom:
The UN rules, in retrospect, look odd. To pretend that a Sudan, for instance, which is doing what it's doing within its borders should have its sovereignty treated with the same respect as a France or Japan is ludicrous.
I hadn't thought of it that way before.

What the UN's good for and what it's not:

So while in the popular imagination, the UN is the forum for addressing international crises, the reality is that the UN is largely impotent, except for its internal technical rule-making, which functions quite nicely, frankly. The UN has become primarily a bitch-session, where the developing countries can complain about their lot and the direction of the advanced world. I think that's fine in many ways; it's good that the Gap has a venue and forum to complain in the direction of the Core. In fact, increasingly what you see is one position held by what I call the "old Core" -- the U.S., the E.U., Japan -- another position held by the Gap, and what I call the "new Core" -- the Brazil, India, China and South Africa -- acting as a sort of go-between. This is an arrangement which serves us well in terms of trade and economic and technical arguments.

But in terms of security, in the realm of violent situations, it's not realistic to pretend that 1) all countries are equal -- 'cause they're not: we have huge military capabilities and almost nobody else really does -- or 2) that every state has good intentions or treats its own people well. There are terrible things happening in certain parts of the world, and I think it's unrealistic to pretend that the U.N. is going to be able to stop these things.
Tom's proposed A-Z process for politically bankrupt states (He says we have such a process for economically bankrupt states)(compiled by me from memory):

1. Grand Jury: UN and UNSC. Indicts the state.
2. Executive: G20. Agrees that US military should take down and commits own troops to follow-on nation building/peacekeeping (System Administration Force, in Tom's parlance).
3. Leviathan force: US Military takes down regime.
4. System Administration force: G20 troops anchored by US Marines, along with various necessary agencies and contractors follows in immediately behind Leviathan to rebuild.
5. International Reconstruction Fund: This money is pledged in advance by G20. You get to vote how it's used based on how much you put it. Modeled on International Monetary Fund.
6. International Criminal Court: The Hague tries bad guys who are taken captive.

On the environment:
Look. I put protecting the environment where I put democracy: everybody wants them, and it's clear that they are both goals we're ultimately aiming for here. But first you need development and stability and some basic rules. First things first.
My point is that we got to exploit our natural resources for a long time before we ever started worrying about anybody else saving theirs. This is my concern with ANWR. It's paternalistic of us to tell them they can't use theirs. Like Tom says, the best way to get poor countries to be good stewards is to help them improve their standard of living.

If Tom became the Secretary of Defense:

One. I would advocate a massive redistribution of resources towards that System Administrator function. I'd accelerate that dramatically. In terms of acquisitions for my war-fighting force, I'd keep buying high technology, but I'd buy in much smaller numbers, and take the freed-up resources and plunge them into building the new force.

You would see, very quickly, a four-star military police general in my Pentagon. You would see position and authority accrue to people that had been considered lesser includeds: I would have four-star military medical generals and four-star military supply generals, not just the war-fighting guys running everything.

Two. I would redesign the unified command plan, which was really built for another era. Having European Command have its Area of Responsibility extend all the way down to Sub-Saharan Africa is really kind of a mis-match. I would create an African Command, and an East Asian Command and a West Asian Command. In East Asia, once we get rid of Kim Jung Il, I'm looking at a relatively peaceful region, and I'm building a NATO there. That's a place we can draw resources from.

I'd put those resources into Africa. I think Africa needs a lot of dedicated attention. To the extent that we drive that fight against terrorism out of the Middle East it's going to head south, especially to the Horn of Africa. People ask me "How do we know we've won in the Middle East?" And I say, "When all our troops are on peacekeeping missions in Central Africa."

Three. I'd abolish service identities once you reach flag rank, meaning once you became an admiral or a general (and I suppose you'd have to come up with a single term, which will really piss of the Navy, because I'm sure you'd end up with general), you'd serve the Pentagon as a whole. That'd solve one of the biggest problems, because now, once you become a one-star general, the way to become a two-star general is to protect you service's force structure in budgetary battles, to make sure that no matter what else happens, you've got twelve carriers or three armored divisions or whatever. These idiotic budgetary battles go one forever and ever and lead to all sorts of overlaps and inefficiencies and acquisition scandals.

If instead, the incentives for becoming a two- or three- or four-star would be how gloriously "purple" you were -- which is the color they associate with "jointness" -- how seamlessly you could cooperate. That would also, I think help people to be more interagency, more international, to adapt to unexpected situations.
Sounds good to me...
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