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I get asked a lot what the difference between my work is and a typical Pentagon long-range strategic planners. And the answer I like to offer is, what they typically do is they think about the future of war within the context of war. And what I've spent 15 years doing in this business-- it's taken me almost 14 to figure it out-- is I think about the future of war within the context of everything else. So I tend to specialize on the scene between war and peace.
The material I'm going to show you is one idea from a book with a lot of ideas. It's the one that takes me around the world right now, interacting with foreign militaries quite a bit. The material was generated in two years of work I did for the Secretary of Defense, thinking about a new national grand strategy for the United States. I'm going to present a problem and try to give you an answer.
Here's my favorite bonehead concept from the 1990s in the Pentagon, the theory of anti-access, area-denial, asymmetrical strategies. Why do we call it that? Because it's got all those A's lined up, I guess.
This is gobbledygook for if the United States fight somebody, we're going to be huge, they're going to be small, and if they try to fight us in a traditional straight-up manner, we're going to kick their ass. Which is why people don't try to do that anymore.
I met the last Air Force general who had actually shot down an enemy plane in combat. He's now a one-star general. That's how distant we are from even meeting an air force willing to fly against ours. So that overmatch capability creates problems. Catastrophic successes the White House calls them.
And we're trying to figure that out. Because it is an amazing capability. The question is, what's the good you can do it?
Theory of anti-access, area-denial, asymmetrical strategies-- gobbledygook that we sell to Congress. Because if we just told them we can take anybody's asses, they wouldn't buy us all the stuff we want. So we say area-denial, anti-access, asymmetrical strategies, and their eyes glaze over. And they say, will you build it in my district?
Here's my parody, and it ain't much of one. Let's talk about a battle space. I don't know, Taiwan Straits, 2025. Let's talk about an enemy embedded within that battle space. I don't know, the million-man swim.
The United States has to access that battle space instantaneously. They throw up anti-access, area-denial, asymmetrical strategies-- a banana peal on the tarmac. Trojan horses on our computer networks reveal all our Achilles' heels instantly. We say, China, it's yours.
The problem with this approach-- largely a geographic definition, focused almost exclusively on the start of conflict. We field a first-half team in a league that insists on keeping score until the end of the game. That's the problem. We can run the score up against anybody, and then get our asses kicked in the second half-- what they call fourth-generation warfare.
Here's the way I like to describe it instead. There is no battle space the US military cannot access. They said we couldn't do Afghanistan. We did it with ease. They said we couldn't do Iraq. We did it with 150 combat casualties in six weeks. We did it so fast we weren't prepared for their collapse. There is nobody we can't take down. The question is, what you do with the power?
So there's no trouble accessing battle spaces. What we have trouble accessing is the transition space that must naturally follow, and creating the peace space that allows us to move on. Problem is Defense Department over here beats the hell out of you. State Department over here says, come on, boy, I know you can make it. And that poor country runs off that ledge, does that cartoon thing, and then drops.
This is not about overwhelming force, but proportional force. It's about nonlethal technologies. Because if you fire real ammo into a crowd of women and children rioting, you're going to lose friends very quickly. This is not about projecting power, but about staying power, which is about legitimacy with the locals.
Who do you access in this transition space? You have to create internal partners, you have to access coalition partners. We asked the Indians for 17,000 peacekeepers. I know their senior leadership. They wanted to give it to us. But they said to us, you know what, in that transition space, you're mostly hat, not enough cattle. We don't think you can pull it off. We're not going to give you our 17,000 peacekeepers for fodder. We asked the Russians for 40,000. They said no.
I was in China in August. I said, you should have 50,000 peacekeepers in Iraq. It's your oil, not ours. Which is the truth. It's their oil. And the Chinese said to me, Dr. Barnett, you're absolutely right. In a perfect world, we'd have 50,000 there. But it's not a perfect world, and your administration isn't getting us any closer.
What we have trouble accessing are outcomes. We lucked out, frankly, on this election. We face different opponents across these three. And it's time to start admitting you can't ask the same 19-year-old to do it all, day in and day out. It's just too damn hard. We have an unparalleled capacity to wage war. We don't do the everything else so well.
Frankly, we do it better than anybody, and we still suck at it. We have a brilliant Secretary of War. We don't have a Secretary of Everything Else. Because if we did, that guy'd be in front of the Senate, still, testifying over Abu Ghraib. The problem is, he doesn't exist. There is no Secretary of Everything Else.
I think we have an unparalleled capacity to wage war. I call that the Leviathan Force. What we need to build is a force for the everything else. I call them the System Administrators. What I think this really represents is a lack of an A-to-Z rule set for the world as a whole for processing politically bankrupt states.
We have one for processing economically bankrupt states. It's the IMF Sovereign Bankruptcy Plan. We argue about it every time we use it. Argentina just went through it, broke a of rules. They got out on the far end, we said, fine, don't worry about it. It's transparent, certain amount of certainty, gives a sense of a non-zero outcome. We don't have one for processing politically bankrupt states that, frankly, everybody wants gone, like Saddam, like Mogabe, like Kim Jong-il, people who kill in the hundreds of thousands, or millions, like the 250,000 dead so far in Sudan.
What would an A-to-Z system look like? I'm going to distinguish between what I call front half and back half. And let's call this red line, I don't know, mission accomplished.
What we have right now-- at the beginning of this system is the UN Security Council as grand jury. What can they do? They can indict your ass. They can debate it. They can write it on a piece of paper. They put it in an envelope, mail it to you, and then say, in no uncertain terms, please cut that out.
That gets you about 4 million dead in Central Africa over the 1990s. It gets you 250,000 dead in the Sudan in the last 15 months. Everybody's going to answer to their grandchildren some day what you did about the holocaust in Africa. And you better have an answer.
We don't have anything to translate that will into action. What we do have is the US-enabled Leviathan Force that says, you want me to take that guy down? I'll take that guy down. I'll do it on Tuesday. It'll cost you $20 billion.
But here's the deal. As soon as I can't find anybody else to air out, I leave the scene immediately. That's called the Powell Doctrine.
Way downstream we have the International Criminal Court. They love to put them on trial. They've got [INAUDIBLE] right now. What are we missing? A functioning executive translate will into action.
Because we don't have it, every time we lead one of these efforts, we have to whip ourselves into this imminent threat thing. We haven't faced imminent threat since the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. But we use this language from a bygone era to scare ourselves into doing something, because we're democracy, and that's what it takes. And if that doesn't work, we scream, he's got a gun, just as we rush in.
And then we look over the body, and we find, like, an old cigarette lighter. And we say, well, Jesus, it was dark.
You want to do it, France? France says, no. But I do like to criticize you after the fact. What we need downstream is a great power enabled-- what I call that Sys Admin Force.
We should had 250,000 troops streaming into Iraq on the heels of that Leviathan sweeping towards Baghdad, what do you get then? No looting. No military disappearing. No arms disappearing. No ammo disappearing. No Muqtada al-Sadr making his bones. No insurgency.
Talk to anybody who was over there in the first six months, we had six months to feel the love, to get the job done. And we dicked around for six months, and then they turned on us. Why? Because they just got fed up. They saw what we did to Saddam. And they said, you're that powerful, you can resurrect this country. You're America.
What we need is an international reconstruction fund-- Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post. Great idea. Modeled on the IMF. Instead of passing the hat each time, OK?
Where are you going to find this guy? G20-- that's easy. Check out their agenda since 9/11-- all security dominated. They're going to decide upfront how the money gets spent. Just like in the IMF, you vote according to how much money you put in the kitty.
Here's my challenge to the Defense Department. You've got to build this force. You've got to seed this force. You've got to track coalition partners, create a record of success. You will get this model. You'll tell me it's too hard to do. I'll walk this dog right through that six part series on the Balkans. We did it just like that. I'm talking about regularizing it, making it transparent. Would you like Magobe gone? Kim Jong-il, he's killed about 2 million people. Would you like him gone? Would you like a better system?
This is why it matters to the military. They've been experiencing an identity crisis since the end of the Cold War. I'm not talking about the difference between reality and desire, which I can do, because I'm not inside the Beltway. I'm talking about the 1990s.
The Berlin Wall falls, we do Desert Storm. The split starts to emerge between those in the military who see a future they can live with, and those who see a future that starts to scare them, like the US submarine community, which watches the Soviet navy disappear overnight. [GASPS]
So they start moving from reality towards desire. And they create their own special language to describe their voyage of self-discovery and self-actualization.
Problem is, you need a big, sexy opponent to fight against. And if you can't find one, you've got to make one up. China, all grown up-- going to be a looker.
Rest of the military got dragged down into the muck across the 1990s, and they developed this very derisive term to describe it-- military operations other than war. I ask you, who joins the military to do things other than war? Actually, most of them. Jessica Lynch never planned on shooting back. Most of them don't pick up a rifle.
I maintain this is code inside the Army for, we don't want to do this. They spent the 1990s working the messy scene between globalize parts of the world and the non-globalizing parts of the world, what I call the core and the gap. The Clinton Administration was interested in running us for eight years after screwing up the relationship on day one, inauguration day, with gays in the military, which was deft.
So we were home alone for eight years. And what did we do home alone? We bought one military, and we operated another. It's like the guy who goes to the doctor and says, doctor, it hurts when I do this.
Doctor says, stop doing that, you idiot. I used to give this brief inside the Pentagon in the early 1990s. I'd say, you're buying one military, and you're operating another. And eventually, it's going to hurt. It's wrong. Bad, Pentagon. Bad.
And they'd say, Dr. Barnett, you're so right. Can you come back next year and remind us again?
Some people say 9/11 heals the rift, jerks the long-term transformation gurus out of the 30,000-foot view of history, drags them down into the muck, and says, you want a networked opponent, I got one. He's everywhere. Go find him. It elevates MOOTW-- how we pronounce that acronym-- from crap to grand strategy. Because that's how you're going to shrink that gap. Some people put these two things together, and they call it empire, which I think is a bone-headed concept.
Empire is about the enforcement of not just minimal rule sets, which you cannot do, but maximal rule sets, which you must do. Not our system of governance. Never how we've sought to interact with the outside world. I prefer that phrase, System Administration. We enforce the minimal rule sets for maintaining connectivity to the global economy-- certain bad things you cannot do.
How this impacts the way we think about future war. This is a concept which gets me vilified outside through the Pentagon. Makes me very popular as well. Everybody's got an opinion. Going back to the beginning of our country, historically, defense has meant protection of the homeland. Security has meant everything else.
Written into our constitution, two different forces, two different functions. Raise an army when you need it, maintain a navy for day-to-day connectivity. A Department of War, a Department of Everything Else. A big stick, a baton stick. Can of whoop ass, the networking force.
1947, we merged these two things together in the Defense Department. Our long term rationale becomes, we're involved in a hair trigger stand-off with the Soviets. To attack America is to risk blowing up the world. We connected national security to international security with about a seven-minute time delay.
That's not our problem now. They could kill 3 million in Chicago tomorrow, and we don't go to the mattresses with nukes. That's the scary part. The question is, how do we reconnect American national security with global security, to make the world a lot more comfortable, and to embed and contextualize our employment of force around the planet?
What's happened since is that bifurcation I described. We talked about this, going all the way back to the end of the Cold War. Let's have a Department of War and a Department of Something Else. Some people say, hell, 9/11 did it for ya. Now we've got a home game and an away game.
Department of Homeland Security is a strategic feel-good measure. It's going to be the Department of Agriculture for the 21st century. TSA-- thousands standing around.
Just be grateful Robert Reid didn't shove that bomb up his ass.
Because we'd all be gay then.
I supported the war in Iraq. He was a bad guy with multiple priors. It's not like we had to find him, actually killing somebody live to arrest him. I knew we'd kick ass in the war with the Leviathan Force. I knew we'd have a hard time with what followed. But I know this organization doesn't change until it experiences failure.
What do I mean by these two different forces? This is the Hobbesian Force. I love this force. I don't want to see it go. That plus nukes rules out great power war. This is the military the rest of the world wants us to build. It's why I travel all over the world talking to foreign militaries.
What does this mean? It means you've got stop pretending you can do these two very disparate skill sets with the same 19-year-old, switching back, morning, afternoon, evening, morning afternoon, evening. Handing out aid, shooting back, handing out aid, shooting back-- it's too much. The 19-year-olds get tired from the switching, OK?
That force on the left, you can train a 19-year-old to do that. That force on the right is more like a 40-year-old cop. You need the experience.
What does this mean in terms of operations? The rule is going to do this. That's Sys Admin Force is the force that never comes home, does most of your work. You break out that Leviathan Force only every so often.
But here's the promise you make to the American public, to your own people, to the world. You break out that Leviathan Force, you promise, you guarantee, you're going to mount one helluva, immediately, follow-on Sys Admin effort. Don't plan for the war unless you plan to win the peace.
Other differences-- Leviathan-- traditional partners. They all look like the Brits and their former colonies.
Including us, I would remind you. The rest-- wider array of partners. International organizations, nongovernmental organizations, private voluntary organizations, contractors. you're not going to get away from that. Leviathan Force-- it's all about joint operations between the military services. We're done with that. What we need to do is interagency operations, which, frankly, Condi Rice was in charge of. And I'm amazed nobody asked her that question when she was confirmed.
I call the Leviathan Force your dad's military. I like 'em young, male, unmarried, slightly pissed off.
I call the Sys Admin Force your mom's military, so everything the man's military hates-- gender balanced much more, older, educated, married with children. Force on the left, up or out. Force on the right, in and out. Force on the left, respects Posse Comitatus restrictions on the use of force inside the US. Force on the right's going to obliterate it. That's where the National Guard's going to be.
Force on the left is never coming under the purview of the International Criminal Court. Sys Admin Force has to. Different definitions of network centricity. One takes down networks, one puts them up. You've got to wage war here in such a way to facilitate that.
Do we need a bigger budget? Do we need a draft to pull this off? Absolutely not. I've been told by the revolution-in-military-affairs crowd for years, we can do it faster, cheaper, smaller, just as lethal. I say great. I'm going to take the Sys Admin budget out of your hide.
Here's the larger point. You're going to build the Sys Admin Force inside the US military first. But ultimately, you're going to civilianize it-- probably 2/3. Interagency-ize it. Internationalize it. So yes, it begins inside the Pentagon. But over time, it's going to cross that river.
I have been to the mountain top. I have seen the future. I may not live long enough to get you there, but it's going to happen. We're going to have a Department of Something Else between war and peace.
Last slide-- who gets custody of the kids? This is where the Marines in the audience get kind of tense.
And this is when they think about beating the crap out of me after the talk. Remax boot-- this is the history of the Marines-- small wars, small arms. The Marines are like my west highland terrier. They get up every morning, they want to dig a hole, and they want to kill something.
I don't want my Marines handing out aid. I want 'em to be Marines. That's what keeps the Sys Admin Force from being a pussy force. It keeps it from being the UN. You shoot at these people, the Marines are going to come over and kill you.
Department of the Navy-- strategic subs go this way. Surface combatants go over there. And the news is, they may actually be that small. I call it the Smart Dust Navy. I tell young officers, you may command 500 ships in your career. Bad news is, they may not have anybody on 'em. Carriers go both ways, because they're a swing asset. You'll see the pattern.
Airborne, just like carriers. Armor goes this way. Here's the dirty secret of the Air Force-- you can win by bombing. But you need lots of these guys on the ground to win the peace. Shinseki was right with the argument. Air Force-- strategic airlift goes both ways. Bombers, fighters go over here.
Special Operations Command down in Tampa-- trigger pullers go this way. Civil Affairs, that bastard child, comes over here. Return to the Army. The point about the trigger pullers in Special Operations Command-- no off season. These guys are always active. They drop in, do their business, disappear. See me now, don't talk about it later.
I was never here.
The world is my playground.
I want to keep trigger pullers trigger happy. I want the rules to be as loose as possible. Because when the thing gets prevented in Chicago, with the 3 million dead that perverts our political system beyond all recognition, these are the guys who are going to kill them first. So it's better off to have them make some mistakes along the way than to see that.
Reserve component-- National Guard, reserves overwhelmingly Sys Admin. How are you going to get them to work for this force? Most firemen in this country do it for free. This is not about money. This is about being upfront with these guys and gals.
Last point-- intelligence community. The muscle and the defense agencies go this way. What should be the CIA, open analytical, open source, should come over here. The information you need to do this is not secret. It's not secret. Read that great piece in The New Yorker about how our Echo Boomers, 19 to 25, over in Iraq taught each other how to do Sys Admin work over the internet in chat rooms. They said, Al-Qaeda could be listening. They said, well, Jesus, they already know this stuff.
Take a gift in the left hand. These are the sunglasses that don't scare people-- Simple stuff. Sensors and transparency, the overheads, go in both directions. Thanks.