Donnerstag, August 31, 2006

The Dark Underbelly of Globalization

For us in the industrialized West, globalization is nothing new and has everything to do with improving living standards. But there is a dark underbelly to globalization - and don't get me wrong, for me globalization with all its warts and problems is the best thing since sliced bread, and maybe even better than that - that has mostly political overtones and not so much economic ones.

Ralph Peters is someone who I've been reading since his debut novel back in the 1980s and who is an excellent commentor on current affairs. His most recent piece for the Weekly Standard - which can be found here - gave me the nudge to comment on what he is saying.

His point is that globalization is a two-way street, one that has perhaps a huge lag, but one that despite being ignored for so long not cannot be ignored. Put simply, and do read the link because Peters goes into it with more detail than I want to go into right now, the tribes are back with a vengeance, and it is because of globalization that we now hear of the masscres and destruction wrought by tribal warfare.

In other words, the distribution channel for information is a two-way street. While the news of the West is piped throughout the world via CNN, BBC and the other "news" agencies, the news of the ROW (Rest Of World) for many, many years was nothing of consequence, to be reported only in areas of strife and in calamaties of both human and natural origin. The asymmetry of information, that the ROW needed to know more about the West than the other way around, was a given and was the norm.

But this is no longer entirely the case. The West, after 9/11 and the follow-on attacks, needs also to find out about the ROW, and the "news" agencies have increased their coverage, not the least because local viewers and advertisers also want to see what is going on (more exactly, want to see what the "news" agencies present). But this has a downside.

What tribes - and I am using that term very loosely here, as does Peters - don't want is news. Tribes are loyal to themselves to the exclusion of "others", and they want *their* news and not something that an external observer wants to bring. The demand therefore isn't for news, but rather triball propaganda, the twisting of events to fit the tribal view.

We now see this in Lebanon with the faking of news by Hezbollah propagandists, we see this in Iran as well.

That's why I'm using what are called "scare" quotes when I talk about "news" agencies. They aren't, any more: they are conduits for whoever informs them, and increasingly they themselves are part and parcel of the tribes that are feeding the "news" agency. The fake photos in Lebanon were, according to the "news" agencies affected, the work of lone stringers, but the abdication of editorial responsibility is reprehensible at best and downright criminal at worst.

There is another good post on this topic: Tribes, from Bill over at Eject!Eject!Eject!

We are entering a period where post-modernists in Western culture will be confronted by tribal warfare that threatens to explode in their backyards. Post-modernists aren't capable of understanding what you have to do in order to eliminate tribal warfare: you have to eliminate the "tribe" as the fundamental element of the conflict.

You can do this two ways: either physically or politically. Physical elimination is easy, but given the repugnance of megadeaths not really the solution (want to eliminate Iran's nuclear ability? 17 200 kt weapons would do it within a 45-minute time period. This would kill about 30% of Iran's population, with another 30% injured and without infrastructure, there would be no major cities left. Could we do it? Yes. Would we do it? Not unless Iran detonates a nuclear weapon in the US.)

Dealing with tribes on a political basis is difficult, as any historian of the British Empire will tell you. Colonial Brits had a term for the local leaders and businessmen: WOG. It stands for "Wily Oriental Gentleman" and is an apt description. We of the West aren't innately more intelligent or wily than the intellegentsia of anywhere in the ROW; to underestimate the potential sophistication of the opponent, who may be wearing rags and fighting with primitive methods, is the worst failure any in the West can make.

The key is to turn the weakness of the tribe against it, to destroy the very nature of the tribe. Remove the tribe and tribal warfare disappears. Civilization starts up again.

But doing that is an art form that we are now only slowly and painfully learning. Our problem is that there are those in the West who are so eager to adopt the behavior patterns of the tribe, entranced by its effectiveness and ignorant of the damage that tribes do to any advanced civilization.

Dr. Dean's triumphant woop is the battle cry of a tribe; the clamoring for a perp walk for Rove is the lament of the tribe for an enemy; the nascent mutterings of MoveOn and Kos are the collective mutterings of a tribe dedicated to destroying the "other" for which there is no tolerance.

Dark times ahead.

Mittwoch, August 30, 2006

Butting the Plame...

Hitchens does it again. The man deserves more money because he has stuck to his guns and called things the way they *are*, rather than the way journalists want everyone to see them.

Blame for Plame lies directly with the "administration critics" who were anything but simply that.

Is David Corn going now to apologize for his diatribes? For starting the whole PlameGate nonsense? For now it is nonsense: the leaker was Richard Armitage who was basically showing off to a reporter. Not a revenge act from the Bush administration, not retribution.

Specifically Corn is wrong here:

"The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation's counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security."

This was wrong: not merely that Corn placed the blame wrongly, but that there even was a "Wilson smear." And the jibes were wrong, the whole basis for the article was wrong.

But will we see an apology, a retraction, an admittance that Corn & Isikoff were wrong?

Probably about the same time that Kerry releases his military records.

Interestingly, Corn's column is called "Capital Games."

Which is what we are seeing here: but the games aren't the games of the Administration, but rather of its opponents. And they are the ones whose politics trumps national security.

Dienstag, August 29, 2006


It's not so much that I don't have anything to say, it's much more that there is so much to say.

But reality intrudes (TM) and I have forecasts to finish and ratings to run. Be back ASAP and I hope it really is soon.

Dienstag, August 01, 2006