One impediment to undertaking a reasonable response to 9/11 is that, psychologically speaking, it feels
as if the response should somehow be proportionate to the devastating
emotional impact of the attacks. And when you contemplate the
possibility of something even more horrible, like a nuclear attack on a
city, then it seems like the preventive measures taken should, again,
be incredibly dramatic. And yet the nitty-gritty of serious
non-proliferation policy is deadly dull.
This is indeed a serious problem. One purpose of terrorism as a whole (not just WMD terror) is to compel an overreaction. The burden of this reaction will fall on those the terrorists or insurgents hope to recruit. But while it is one thing for a policymaker to understand this on an intellectual basis, it’s another to actively market proportional policy solutions to the an understandably aggrieved public with a need to see some form of security theater.
Anyone who isn’t aware of the work of Maj. Don Vandergriff should read his blog compulsively. Vandergriff has worked for many years on making the Army more resilient and adaptable in the face of Fourth Generation threats. Vandergriff recently has gone online, and has been blogging up a storm on adaptability.
I’d like to highlight this entry in particular, as Vandergriff goes beyond a strictly military-institutional analysis to show us how groupthink and cheerleading can erode the greater virtue and political fortunes of political cultures.
There have been many posts on the Tibetan protests exploiting the run-up to the Olympics, many advancing the argument that the transnational Tibetan/NGO movement are employing open-source insurgency methods. I myself have posted on the challenges NGOs face in exerting pressure on the Chinese government.
Last weekend, however, I caught a small fragment of the larger NGO crusade against China.
In New York City for the weekend, I saw a huge pro-Tibet protest in Union Square. A local cab driver (no, I’m not going all Tom Friedman on you) told me that there had been various protests going on for at least a month.
Union Square was jam-packed with protesters, many of them toting large
Tibetan banners. While other reported Olympics-related protests focused
on a broader spectrum of Chinese human rights issues, this one was
exclusively focused on Tibet. Tibetan monks and the usual array of
Western hippie/counterculture hangers-on were out in force and
dominated the protest. A snap judgment? I agree with John Robb’s assertion that the Tibetan/human rights push against China will burn itself out.
As I read Julian Assange and crew’s latest (they’ve managed to get some videos of Tibetan protest marches up), I had an interesting thought. Anyone familiar with Robert D. Steele’s work on intelligence reform may be aware of his arguments for open-source intelligence (OSINT). Most people who follow security affairs who have heard of Steele reduce his thought down to OSINT, much in the same way people unfamiliar with John Boyd’s full "Discourse" reduce his ideas down to the OODA loop. However, Steele also argues for a collective, people-powered intelligence system that can provide early warning for humanitarian, law enforcement, and environmental problems.
I’m not suggesting that Wikileaks represents the fulfillment of Steele’s vision. But it does suggest that we are getting closer to it.