Democrats for Bush?

A friend whom I respect, because he’s moved mountains for a cause I believe in, wrote to point to a Boston Globe article about Ed Koch supporting George Bush for re-election, Why Koch is on Bush’s bandwagon. My friend writes:

This is what I was talking about re: your prediction that Bush wouldn’t get more absolute votes than last time and I said I knew a number of folks that voted for Gore but were going to vote for Bush this time.

The author of the article, Jeff Jacoby, says that Ed Koch is a one-issue guy this year:

“I’ve never before supported a Republican for president,” Koch told me last week. “But I’m doing so this time because of the one issue that trumps everything else: international terrorism. In my judgment, the Democratic Party just doesn’t have the stomach to stand up to the terrorists. But Bush is a fighter.”

The article concludes: [Koch] is a loyal Democrat. But as JFK once said, sometimes party loyalty asks too much.

Party Loyalty Always Asks Too Much.

Our government is run by people who depend on zealots for their power, since only zealots are willing to do what has always been required: the hard work of beating the streets for their designated egotist. To energize this “indispensable” base, the strategists adopt the extreme positions that you would expect zealots to require. Both my readers know that I believe the Internet creates ways for reasonable people to exert political power, perhaps for the first time in history.

A Lever Long Enough to Suppress the World

Archimedes famously said that if you gave him a long enough lever, he could lift the world. Using the long lever arm of mass media, a tiny core of politically powerful people controls the rest of the population’s choices, economics and future.

Systems design is the study of how to balance inputs into and outputs from a dynamic process so it optimally serves the needs of the highest possible number of users of the process. From a systems design standpoint, American politics is a disaster:

inconsequential voters
voters who matter        
political activists
political power elite

About a third of Americans vote, but most vote so consistently that their votes, needs and opinions are inconsequential. Just a few “swing” voters are the target of politicians’ attention and advertising, the only voters who matter. In the 2000 election, Gore received 50.5% of the popular vote, while losing 3 states–41 electoral votes–by a total of 6,611 votes.

Only a sliver of the population is zealous enough to be active in politics. Compared to the general population, it even takes a kind of zealotry to get out and vote. I don’t have the figures, but do any states have more than 1,000 full time activists? I’m not talking about the political hobbyists who will canvass when asked or show up at a state convention and perform as directed, but by activists I mean those who live for or off of politics and do their party’s bidding whenever asked. My working hypothesis is that there are no more than 50,000 active political foot soldiers at any one time, less than.02% of Americans. Even if you think there are double or triple the number, the fraction is still vanishingly small.

In turn, those few activists are manipulated by a tiny political elite which is probably no more than .001% of the population (Joe Trippi says there are a thousand of them, but my math works better if I almost triple his number, to the 2,862 politicians, lobbyists, journalists and business leaders who actually drive the country).

This tiny group of power brokers drives the agenda for a nation which the rest of the world depends upon for its opportunities and constraints. This is a system that no conscientious systems architect would sign off on, but which most Americans meekly accept as how things have to be.

Conservative Koch Capitulates to Crush the Canaanites

The secret of NYC politics is the Jewish vote. Our Jewish friends are otherwise rational people who want us to act contrary to our geopolitical interests to support the Israeli right-wing politicians who are often unloved even in their own country. It’s understandable: if you had relatives in Israel, so would you. But our goal is not beating the Arabs into submission, which is impossible, our target is their hearts and minds.

Secularization is the antidote for most of the world’s woes, both at home and abroad. Intelligence is not just the title of a government activity, it’s also a requirement of any person or group threatened with deadly force. Only our mind can overcome paralyzing anxiety, especially when politicians peddle fear since it’s the easiest way to win. And our mind must rise above the ignorant groupthink that religious fervor forces on otherwise rational people.

New Yorkers understand the code words behind Ed Koch’s position. We embrace our Jewish friends, but most of the people who were actually harmed by the terrorists three years ago oppose the war on Iraq, because they know it leaves unfinished the real business of cutting off terrorists’ air supply. They know this because, unlike most Americans, they’ve been forced to study the real issues and to look past the illusion of cosmetic security.

A Unique Resumé, Understanding Terrorism

John Robb, the only other C-130 pilot I run into at tech conferences, has tackled the global guerilla issue with unique skills and background: Air Force Academy grad, Yale Masters, combat pilot supporting dark ops in Bosnia, Senior Analyst at Forrester, President of Gomez. Now he consults on counter terrorist strategies. It’s obvious that John Robb is not some knee-jerk leftie, incapable of the tough-mindedness required to confront an enemy or build a world-class organization. Since he’s not running for office, he doesn’t need to mouth the platitudes that get ineffective people elected.

Like George H. W. Bu
, John understands that our corporate war on terror Iraq is the wrong action at the wrong time. The enemies we need to overcome are the global guerillas, the entrepreneurial thugs who are disrupting our fragile, big-company-designed infrastructure precisely because it’s so fragile. They are engaged in Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW):

4GW (fourth generation warfare) is the term used by military thinkers to describe conflict at the start of the 21st century. In general, 4GW is an extremely effective method of warfare that the US and its allies will find very difficult to defeat (a slow burn, rather than complete eradication, may be the best possible outcome).

John describes the three components that terrorists use to win a 4GW conflict:

Victory in 4GW warfare is won in the moral sphere. The aim of 4GW is to destroy the moral bonds that allows the organic whole to exist. This is done by reinforcing the following (according to Boyd):

  • Menace. Attacks that undermine or threaten basic human survival instincts.
  • Mistrust. Increases divisions between groups (ie. conservatives and liberals in the US).
  • Uncertainty. Undermine economic activity by decreasing confidence in the future.

These are the methods our forefathers used to defeat the greatest, most arrogant empire ever seen, back in 1779 and 1812, and they are the methods now being used against the greatest, most arrogant empire ever seen.

Who’s Boyd, and What Does He know That We Don’t?

The Boyd whom John quotes in his three components of the terrorists’ playbook is Col. John Boyd. Often called America’s greatest fighter pilot, Boyd transformed the way military aircraft – in particular the F-15 and F-16 – were designed with his revolutionary “Energy-Maneuverability Theory,” fighting the Air Force’s entrenched ideas every step of the way. He then dedicated lonely years to a radical theory of conflict that at the time was mostly ignored, but now is acclaimed as the most influential thinking about conflict since Sun Tzu (from Amazon’s description of Robert Coram’s Boyd biography).

John Robb embraces Boyd’s systematic thinking:

Col. John Boyd (he died in 1997) is considered one of America’s best military thinkers. His thinking dramatically influenced the plan of attack in the first gulf war. Boyd’s thinking also serves as a good basis for a deeper understanding of 4GW (fourth generation warfare).

Grand strategy, according to Boyd, is a quest to isolate your enemy’s (a nation-state or a global terrorist network) thinking processes from connections to the external/reference environment. This process of isolation is essentially the imposition of insanity on a group. To wit: any organism that operates without reference to external stimuli (the real world), falls into a destructive cycle of false internal dialogues. These corrupt internal dialogues eventually cause dissolution and defeat.

The dynamic of Boyd’s grand strategy is to isolate your enemy across three essential vectors (physical, mental, and moral), while at the same time improving your connectivity across those same vectors. Here’s more detail

  • Physical isolation is accomplished by severing communications both to the outside world (ie. allies) and internal audiences (ie. between branches of command and between the command organization and its supporters).
  • Mental isolation is done through the introduction of ambiguous information, novel situations, and by operating at a tempo an enemy cannot keep up with. A lack of solid information impedes decision making.
  • Moral isolation is achieved when an enemy improves its well being at the expense of others (allies) or violates rules of behavior they profess to uphold (standards of conduct). Moral rules are a very important reference point in times of uncertainty. When these are violated, it is very hard to recover.

Robb doesn’t think we’re doing very well in combating the forces that isolate us from each other, from our former allies (far more experienced than we in fighting terrorists), from our mental discipline and from our moral compass. His scorecard of our so-called war on terror follows the above list.

The Great Disconnect

Every one of us is forced to be disciplined in our profession. We understand that the devil is in the details, that what matters are the non-obvious disciplines that our customers and our investors really don’t understand. In short, we look beyond the surface in order to succeed.

But politics embraces PR, not operations. Politicians love cosmetic security. By declaring war on the enemies we can defeat impressively (the false internal dialogues Boyd cautions us against), they ignore the tough-minded, politically more difficult operations we must undertake to be secure.

Global Guerillas is a crash course in the details that matter, and a bibliography of the books that treat terrorism seriously rather than politically. If you’re willing to have the discipline of an insider, start there. But if you want to follow the herd over the cliff, just keep watching TV. Here’s John Robb’s prescription:

A vision statement for this conflict

From this analysis it is clear that the US is, as the result of this war, more isolated than our enemy. However, Boyd suggests that the best corrective action is for the US to articulate a grand unifying vision for this war. A “with us or against us” approach and unilateral military action is not productive (it drives isolation). A better vision statement:

The United States will commit all of the resources at its disposal to help nations everywhere preserve those values that we all hold as vital to our future success.”

I don’t fault our political elite for being strong on terror, I fault them for being ineffective patsies: they’ve taken the coward’s way out by choosing to attack their political enemies rather than the enemies of the noble American experiment in freedom of individual thought and action.

Robb’s Roost

For those willing to master the real issues facing us, here’s a list of John Robb’s compelling analytics:

10:20:52 AM    

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