“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Convergence and Synergy in Government (Building the Q!)

My cell phone is an antiquated hunk of junk. It has no capabilities other than sending and receiving messages (haphazardly at that, too). I have to carry a separate PDA to access WIFI on the fly, an iPod to listen to music, a decent laptop if I want to play World of Warcraft during down time, and a digital camera to snap an occasional picture.
I plan to buy a Motorola Q shortly (when my service plan allows me a free upgrade on phones) that combines telephone, text messaging/email, digital camera, WIFI, MP3 player, and data storage device (with the addition of an SD card) into one sleek device.

Many of the past task forces and working groups the government sent out into the world to execute American Foreign Policy were much the same as that clunky phone of mine: stovepiped, possessing a singular, limited purpose and function, and operating independently (and sometime at odds) of other government organizations, much like the jumble of electronic devices tangled together in my backpack.

Today, fortunately, there is more convergence in assembled government task forces, and numerous effective inter-agency working groups; more work is needed if the United States is going to effectively pursue and achieve its foreign policy goals in the 21st century, however.

There are many cases illustrating government synergy across the spectrum of function and capability. The American response to the Asian tsunami, and the drug interdiction and security cooperation efforts in Latin America are two recent examples that immediately come to mind. However, there are equal numbers foreign policy endeavors that have had problems arise at least in part due to disjointed military and civilian agency efforts. For instance, a frequently stated critique of "Phase IV" stability operations in Iraq is that in addition to the lack of a cohesive campaign plan for the reconstruction phase, there was poor fusion of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the military on the ground, who comprised the bulk of American capability and situational awareness (as it still does now). Perhaps a campaign plan that called for and established an Iraq joint interagency working group (military-led, comprised of State Department, Intelligence, USAID, et al) long before the invasion took place, that had unity of command as well as unity of effort, and was poised to surge capabilities and execute a sound stability operations strategy after Baghdad fell, things would be different on the ground today. . .

Hypotheticals only advance an argument so far, and the situation in Iraq today is what it is.
Elsewhere, however, there is proof of this concept already emerging out of operational necessity. USSOUTHCOM established Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South "to combat illicit trafficking through domestic and international cooperation as the premier joint, interagency and international task force"; all the uniformed military services participate in JIATF activities, as well as agencies such as the FBI, DIA, DEA, and the like. The geographical combatant commands also include a state department political advisor (POLAD) on the general's staff as well. The military and other agencies have begun to fuse their education systems, and undertake more personnel exchanges as well. Recent classes at the Army's Fort Leavenworth have included personnel from agencies such as the DIA, for example.

Hopefully, greater capabilities and effectiveness will arise from these auspicious beginnings. Savvy congressional staffs might research and draft legislation to further the process that is by situational exigency occurring in the field (similar to the highly successful Goldwater Nichols act, which rapidly reorganized the Department of Defense). An approach that establishes funding, develops sound doctrine, and a framework for organizing, educating, and employing governmental elements is long overdue.

American foreign policy challenges in the coming decades are more often than not going to require action in complex situations. The United States will continue to find itself involved in developing countries, where requirements of advancing regional cooperation, economic development, and deterring or neutralizing threats intersect, and thus require a multifaceted response; there will be more Djibouti deployments than DESERT STORMS in the coming years. Governmental agencies will be required to work side by side in organizations comprised of various law and humanitarian bureaus, and perhaps controlled by uniformed military personnel. On the ground, infantry company commanders will find themselves working together with FBI and USAID personnel more often than with direct support artillery batteries.

The days of the government endeavors resembling the singular-functioning cell phone are over; bring out the Q!


  1. Still have to resolve the effects of Outlaw Bush opening wide the Borders of America to the world's poor, and the future Demographic/Economic Meltdown.
    The ever fascinating C4 lines it all out.
    I agree w/most of it, but of course my heart goes out to Mat on his Slo Boat to Labrador.
    ...just remember: no post would be complete w/o the obligatory reference!
    "Cedarford said...
    boghie - Interesting that we ghoulish Americans are significantly more efficient than the statist Frogs regarding generation of nuclear waste! How did that happen?

    The answer is that it didn't. You misread the Stats.
    Nuclear physics is the same, regardless of what Continent you are on. 3% enriched uranium runs the same in French or US reactors and produces the same wastes per MW generated, as French and US reactors have similar thermodynamic efficiences.

    What is interesting is next generation nuke infrastructure if we move past the idiot Carter & the Euroweenies call in the late 70s to not breed new fuel or reprocess old. If we change our perspective and realize that nuke energy is the only cheap, reliable CO2-free energy source, (all the alternative energies are 70s ideas that were not economical even back then) We can breed all the fuel we want with abundant uranium and thorium cycles. And make fusion, if we get it, far more efficient by using fusion neutrons to fission or make plutonium from a uranium blanket around the fusion reactor.
    Reprocessing would allow us to use 100% of the uranium, instead of 0.3% of it, and eliminate most long term rad waste. (Because the actinide fission fragments are the most radioactive part of the waste, but decay off in 200-300 years, while the transuranics are the most long-lived but can be reprocessed and burned up for energy.)


    Buddy - Some great points, C4, but any vision of an Anglospheric bastion has to provide for the long-term (say, 20 yrs out) military implications of a hostile Eurasian continent running for 20 years on relatively cheap plentiful oil, vs an Anglospheric bastion 20 years hence running on scarce expensive oil.

    No, it really wouldn't entail that because if we reject the transnational Ruling elites and the threat to globalize labor down to the cheapest 3rd worlder's hourly wage, we could make a pretty good go of it with an Anglosphere that closed it's borders to the 100s of millions wanting in, and the Owner Classes trying to export all capital and jobs overseas.

    Any brief period of " trade goods efficiencies in production advantage" of other nations having cheaper oil are already irrelevant to an America that cannot compete against 8 dollar a day Indians or Chinese in a "fair, free trade" setup.

    Energy would not be a long-term impediment because N America, with it's vast coal and tar sand and oil shale deposits, actually has most of the world's fossil energy. We have huge uranium and thorium deposits and the technology to make nuke power and 45-60 buck a barrel oil for 400 years. Add the uranium and coal deposits of Australia and things are looking good. The only thing that blocks us is our capital is going to having China & Co. replace us as the source of high tech goods and services. And fear that cheap oil available cheaper than independently produced oil which necessitate high initial capital investments to build the oil shale, nuke plants would "disadvantage us" in the global trade and global labor pool the Ruling Elites are trying to set up.

    Add in that in return for military protection we could work out security arrangements with the ME to get a good chunk of that energy so the Muslims are not hosts to 10 million occupiers of the People's Liberation Army that consider Muslims vermin. We also, of course, could dominate Venezuela militarily and reserve those energy supplies - (oil and tar sand reserves greater than the ME in fuel energy) - for the Anglosphere.

    Of course it all is predicated on recognizing that the world cannot support 12 billion by 2050, that we cannot continue taking in "the wretched refuse of other's teeming shores", we cannot tree trade our way to a defunct nation that makes nothing. And the moral requirement that we would have to be fairly heartless as we watched the overpopulated portions of the world collapse and die down to sustainable population numbers.

    It would involve breaking the power of the Jews, and the Ruling elites. Ending Open Borders, International Law, refugee rights. Watching as Israel fell as the Ummah collapsed as well, packing the surviving Israelis off to some remote place like Kamchatka or Labrador out of the way, shrugging as Africa wrecked itself....Trading for strategic minerals with key nations like S Africa, certain ME nations in return for secirity, leaving some Asian nations like Japan and the Philippines in our sphere if they want to be...

    Perhaps we don't have the fortitude to accept all that. But if we don't, we become a nation of 700 million by 2100, mostly 3rd Worlders, and all Americans far poorer than todays outside a wealthy, small Ruling Elite...
    2/24/2007 "

  2. OK,

    No doubt I missed something, somewhere. . .

  3. FYI: I put that comment about the infantry commander working with the FBI and USAID folks just to raise the hackles on Desert Rat and Tiger's necks!

  4. Doug,

    I can't decide whether to laugh or cry. I should have asked mommy for an 80 IQ and have her wrap the umbilical cord around my neck on the way out. It would have been so much easier as an imbecile, but as C4 demonstrates daily, exponentially more frustrating.

  5. Most folk have not lived in a country where the Army is also the Police.

    It's interesting.

    But now-a-days the USArmy will become fully integrated with the Federal law enforcement, leading the way through Disaster Relief.

    Then we'll meet even more charismatic Generals.

    And the Federal "States of Emergency" that never end.
    Opps, we already operate that way.

  6. Still have to ship it to the Pacific Isle.

    Most places will not even let a convoy of waste cross a State.

    Hugh stockpiles of waste exist at every plant.

    A W54 type warhead at Indian Point, amongst the waste and cooling pools, what a fallout factory. The defense of the plant shaky, at best. No one could organize a team large enough to take the facility, a Federal told the Kennedy Documentary.

    The Mohammedan terrorists could not arrange for 19 armed men, to sieze a nuclear facility, in the US.
    Made me laugh.

  7. Wiki:

    In the United States alone alone, the Department of Energy acknowledges that there are "millions of gallons of radioactive waste" as well as "thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel and material".

    That's just the backlog.

  8. Yeah but that rocket gets the benefit of maximum rotation down by the equator, so those daily shuttles won't have to be TOO big.
    (By Ideehoe Potatoe Standards, that is,)
    I forgot to follow up on the poor drilling rig down there that got blasted last month when the rocket fell back on the pad, Vangaurd Style.
    ...The crew was all safely removed, holding their ears and other bodily protrusions, no doubt.

  9. Biofuel. Biofuel. Biofuel. And Biofuel.

    Rufus knows a lot more about this than I do. But apart from all the beneficial political and economic cascading effects in cultivating such an industry, the efficiencies aren't static, and are improving yearly with the advent of computer modeling, genetic engineering, and new chemical and biochemical processing techniques.

  10. Twice daily, we should get pretty good at it, and then we could start targeting the nasty old sun spots while we are at it.

  11. Doug,

    By the equator? What's wrong with Baghdad? Or Tehran?

  12. As an added benefit, you can add Maliki to the cargo.

  13. Nuclear waste and other material crosses state lines routinely, if unceremonious and occasionally rancorously.

  14. Bob W.

    Several years ago, I found myself in Moldova. Moldova is probably about as poor as a European country can get. At least it was then. The communists were losing control and communications were opening up and had done so with cable televison.

    An unheard amount of choices were available and many of the channels were filled with American programming, including MTV. To state thate the Moldovan's were shocked by MTV would not convey the affect.

    It struck me at the time the gargantuan influence technology and the American presence had on the was no longer the power of a book or an idea, tested and contested by review and thought criticism and counter argument.

    There was no thoughtful State Department presentation of American culture. No. Technology was exsposing the world to raw made in America trash. But the trash that was representing America was not what America was about. To the Moldovans this was the picture of America. Like it or not, accurate or wrong to them this was America.

    I resented that. I resented I had to defend and explain the slime that produced it and presented it to the world as American.

    I fear that technology and the shear weight of the US presence has presented a challenge to the world and to Americans in and out of government and has taken away the coherence and context required for decision making.

    An example would be a camera in a cell phone. It can give diproportionate weight to minor incidents and cause disproportionate responses to them. pick your incident, put in on utube and watch out.

    It is very possible that technological changes and how they relate or conflict may have run the caution lights necessary to operate major institutions.

    I really doubt that enough thought has been given to the human psychology and institutional human reaction to rapidly changing technology.

  15. What number of fatalities in the US last year were accounted to nuclear waste?

  16. America's main man in Baghdad and you guys want to send him to the sun?
    Where's the patriotism?
    Where's the resolve?

    Where are the nachos?

  17. Looks as if there are 65 active faclities, listed here a more detailed look would be needed to see how many reactors per facility.

  18. Check this for an interesting NEI site concerning waste and transportation info.

    This Government site maps the nuclear power generating facilities in the US.

  19. bobalharb,

    re: workin' in a coalmine

    What do we do? What do we do? Shut down the coalmines, of course. One American death on the alter of the BTU is too many. All is lost!

  20. Yeah, me too. Had a long day. G'nite.

  21. Whit,

    I agree that, if one's primary contact with America is via our pop culture, the uninitiated from a conservative society would recoil in shock (or be fascinated).

    However, more people want to emigrate to America than anywhere else on the globe; those that hate us, for the most part hate us for what we do. It is only the dangerous minority that hate us for what we are.

  22. In browsing, I find much hostility to the Bank of America's decision to go forward with its controversial pilot credit card outreach to illegal aliens. Some bloggers are calling for a boycott, while others are closing accounts.

    Here is something to be considered: The Bank of America is the supplier of US military credit cards.

  23. Part of the Grand Conspiracy?

    How are the Templars involved?
    No, not Simon.

    Okay, it's really the Freemason Conspiracy, the Skull and Bones morphing into the New World Order.

    Accounts in US banks without valid SSN numbers, how does that happen?

  24. Not too much topical conversation in here, esta noche; g'night all

  25. We could reach back to the 70's at my Alma Mater, Allen, where UCSB Student revolutionaries Burned down a Brand New B of A.
    Very assymetrical approach:
    Light and stoke up a Dumpster, then ram it through the front doors into the Lobby!
    Bush Country:
    Outlaw Nation.

  26. Thanks for reminding me:
    I have a B of A Card that needs to be canceled pronto.
    Too bad I can't do it in person.
    Guess I could take a sign down and march around for a while tho.
    When lawmen are Outlaws, only Outlaws benefit.

  27. Bob! Sorry I missed the party!

    Your technology metaphor is quite appropriate. This "convergence" has been evident for many years now, aided, in fact, by the advances in technology. With government looming larger and larger, as desired by the "sheeple", this coordinated interaction has become commonplace.

    No real news here, Mr. Orwell predicted this long ago.

    Oh! And the "synergy" of the government and the military? That's been happening a long time. Don't you remember? A Submachine gun pointed at Elian Gonzalas'? Kinda rises your hackles, doesn't it?

    Or does it, Bob?

  28. Bob:

    There are ever increasing liability issues associated with the use of "military" force. The day is coming when the US will no longer project its force nor will any civilian agency work with the military except in tsunami relief type operations.

    The west is bowing to world opinion bad PR and the threat of litigation from International human rights NGO's.

    So, by the time your convergence takes place, the real use of the military will be for it's "muscle." i.e. moving bags of USAID grain.

  29. Tiger/Whit:

    Thanks again for reading my posts!
    Here is a slight expansion from a comment I left on my blog.

    Tiger, FYI, Those were SWAT guys who went into the house in Southern Florida, not military.

    The point that I was trying to make WAS NOT that the govt. is getting larger and more intrusive; I was rather trying to say that most of the action agents of the government (MIL, FBI, DIA, STATE, etc), are beginninjg to work a little more effectively together, much like the Motorola Q device.

    For instance, in an insurgency situation where one is hunting for a bombmaking cell, an infantry battalion will only be so effective rooting out the personnel in this type of network; combine the manpower/firepower of the infantry guys with an FBI team who can go in and do forensic investigations of personnel and locations, and you have synergy on the battlefield.


    Regardless of the political orientation of any given Presidential administration, the last two decades have seen robust military deployments across the globe.

    I personally don't expect this to change, unless Dennis Kucinich is elected and bends all swords into plowshares.

    The world is what it is today, and the United States, irregardless of administrations, will be compelled to take action to secure its interests across the globe. If an administration fails to do so, it will only fail for about four years, and then a new administration will come in to make this all the more urgent.

    The government needs to continue to look at the requirements emerging in the post cold war era, and provide guidance and direction to its various agencies to ensure they can best serve the country and the people.

    Goldwater Nichols, if you remember, was passed in 1986 (probably by Congressmen who wore "Members Only" jackets when they dressed casually!), at a time of relative peace. Surely someone in the government could start to look at such legislation to re-focus the various elements of government now. . .

    FYI, for anyone who was offended by my Members Only jacket comment, I apologize in advance; I kept mine, because I know that style is coming back!!!!!

  30. Bob, that SWAT guy was ex DELTA Force and Green Beret. Do you really want your policemen using military tactics against children?

    This is an example of supreme convergence! It's been going on for years!

    Worth the read 1

    Worth the read 2

    ... this goes on and on ...

    you see, I'm really making your point - it's ancient history, though!

  31. Tiger,

    thanks for the article links; I read both of them and appreciate the info.

    I agree that WACO/Elian Gonzalez incidents rank as some of the most controversial law enforcement actions n recent years.

    I think that if you have a mind and enjoy living in a free society, you must ALWAYS be vigilant against the government, well meaning or not, encroaching on personal and societal liberty.

    That being said, I would argue that the confluence of well-financed and heavily armed gangs/organized crime/narcotic organizations make it necc for Police and Federal agents to employ to employ military tactics when they conduct raids; better to "have it and not need it than to need it and not have it", as they say.

    Whit, your comment is spot on; State department is weak, and is in need of the proverbial enema to flush all of the mediocrity out of their organization. THAT department is more in need of a legisltive overhaul than any other part of the govt.

    That is why I put up the post about the PRTs; apparently the State department now has the lead on the new Iraq PRTs, and I was looking for feedback from readers on their effectiveness.

  32. Ahhh.... but there's been much more than WACO, Ruby Ridge or Elian, Bob... much more