Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The 9/11 Commission Report: Effective Means

I've been reading "The 9/11 Commission Report". For $10 US, this is 567 pages of the scariest reading I've seen since Bram Stoker's "Dracula". I highly suggest you buy a copy and read it. The elections before us have made it a topical centerpiece, but without reading it, it is all too easy to drown in the punditry of the election and fail to grasp the long term implications beyond the November elections.

Although it may take some time to read, some things will be clear to Homer Simpson and his bespectacled neighbor.

1. The Federals blew it. From as far back as the Reagan years, they operated in an a fog of arrogance and back-biting competition with each other. When the ever so focused Islamic radicals decided to take on America as its number one target, America's agencies acted like a single skier on a slope unswervingly failing to miss the only other person on the slope.

2. We are still on the slope. The Bush administration cannot take the 'mote out of its own eye' and still continues to pursue policies that will keep us in this war for another two decades. Yet a new administration that fails to understand the history that created the opportunities for the Islamic fundamentalists will fail just as spectacularly.

3. Islamic fundamentalism is an old phenomenon. So is Christian fundamentalism. In different times in history, both have emerged as destructive forces. Their emergence simultaneously as movements that have seized power on opposite sides of a conflict are reinforcing elements that escalate tensions and ensure an ever escalating conflict. Yet even these are not the source of the conflict. If we are to reduce tension and conflict, we must reduce behaviors on our side that create the perceptions of conflict. It will take time to change these perceptions, but the sooner we start using effective means instead of Spy Vs Spy rhetoric which only makes the situtaion more incindiary, the sooner we will create a safer world.

4. Because we have fewer opportunities to modify the behaviors of other cultures, it is time to listen to what the fundamentalists are saying and begin to engineer systems to modify our own behaviors. In short, good forestry reduces tinder that accelerates fire. We must consider effective means.

In blogs that follow, I want to discuss means that have proven effective at modifying behaviors of large social systems without draconian or punitive measures. At the center of such means is the concept that it is not race or religion or profiling based on these characteristics that should dominate our selections, but the use of force in a world where feedback and agency can combine to amplify the effects of small forces over large communities.

Your comments are welcome.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Read Why We Didn't Remove Saddam by George Bush, and the other articles in the thread.

len said...

Thank you very much. Analysis of failures of sound policy to govern the use of force are very informative. Although these do not provide effective means to change behavior, they inform the issue of identifying sound policies to govern the particular behavior, the use of force. From those articles at Slashdot, I add these quotes to this conversation:

George Bush, Senior /Brent Scowcroft: In international terms, we tried to establish a model for the use of force. First and foremost was the principle that aggression cannot pay. If we dealt properly with Iraq, that should go a long way toward dissuading future would-be aggressors.Bush and Scowcroft - We also believed that the U.S. should not go it alone, that a multilateral approach was better.

Robin Cook: Our interests are best protected not by unilateral action but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules.

... Our difficulty in getting support this time is that neither the international community nor the British public is persuaded that there is an urgent and compelling reason for this military action in Iraq.

Kiesling: Human nature is what it is, and I was rewarded and promoted for understanding human nature. But until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer.

The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests..

Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a doomed status quo?

Kerry O Brien: ... as far as I'm aware there was no hard evidence and there is still no hard evidence that there is any active cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Joshua Allen said...

"it is time to listen to what the fundamentalists are saying and begin to engineer systems to modify our own behaviors."

Does this mean that we need to stop trying to cram our cult of liberty and perversion down their throats?

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